The Council is amending the Salmon FMP to include the Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishery that occurs in federal waters but is currently managed entirely by the State of Alaska. Additionally, the Council is forming a Salmon Committee that will include stakeholders from the affected area, and will assist in development of the amendment by reviewing and providing recommendations to the Council on draft management measures as well as social and economic impact analyses.
At the April 2018 meeting, the Council reviewed proposals that stakeholders submitted in response to an October 2017 call for public comment on measures to manage the commercial salmon fishery. The information provided by stakeholders was used to develop an initial scope of work for the Salmon Committee. The Council also reviewed NOAA General Counsel guidance on the extent of federal authority under the Salmon FMP, specifically to the questions below:
- Did the Ninth Circuit in UCIDA v. NMFS hold that the Council and NMFS must prepare an FMP amendment that includes salmon fisheries conducted within State waters of Cook Inlet?
- Does the Magnuson-Stevens Act authorize and require the Council to prepare an FMP amendment that includes salmon fisheries occurring within State waters of Cook Inlet?
According to General Counsel, the answer to both questions is “No”. A rationale for that answer is provided in a memo to the Council provided at the April meeting. A further letter to the Council addressed the question of whether it is necessary to include in the FMP the salmon sport fishery that occurs in federal waters of Upper Cook Inlet. The answer to this question was left for the Council to determine at a later date.
Finally, the Council is initiating a CALL FOR NOMINATIONS for membership on the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee. The Committee’s primary function will be to (1) review and provide comments on specific, Council-identified issues; (2) develop options for fishery management measures for specific, Council-identified management needs, and (3) provide perspectives on potential social and economic impacts of proposed fishery management measures. The Council will accept nominations and applications for membership on the Committee until noon (Alaska time), June 1, 2018. If interested, please send a letter of interest and brief resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 605 West 4th, Suite 306, Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2252
If you have previously applied to be on the Committee, your application is on file with us and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO RE-APPLY.
After reviewing the nominations, the Council Chair will appoint members to the Committee to achieve a representative group of stakeholders to accomplish the Committee’s purpose and scope of work. The Council Chair will also appoint a Council member to serve as the Committee Chair. The first Committee meeting is likely to be scheduled for the fall of 2018.
At its October, 2017 meeting, the Council received an update from staff on preliminary development of a Salmon FMP amendment that would extend federal management authority to three traditional net fishing areas that are located in federal waters, but are currently exempt from the FMP. An initial paper (April 2017) laid out the history and scope of the issue for the Council to recommend preliminary alternatives, and the expanded discussion paper presented at the October 2017 meeting provided potential options under the alternative management approaches currently under consideration. The options addressed in the expanded discussion paper consist of means of addressing specific Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) requirements for federal FMPs. The MSA requirements and corresponding options are summarized in Table ES 1-1 in the discussion paper’s executive summary, and are addressed in further detail in Chapter 2 of the discussion paper.
As part of its decision to initiate the amendment, the Council indicated it would create a stakeholder workgroup to assist in development of options for FMP provisions. An evening outreach meeting was held during the October Council meeting week to discuss the formation of the workgroup and the issues that it should consider. The discussion provided a very useful picture of the range of public positions on the action.
After reviewing the expanded discussion paper, and informed by public testimony, the Council took action to solicit written proposals from the public to help further the development of the management measures for the FMP amendment. Additionally, the Council chose to limit the scope of the amendment to only the traditional net fishing area in federal waters that are located in Cook Inlet. Traditional net areas in Prince William Sound and South Peninsula will be addressed in a separate and subsequent action. The Council felt that focusing on Cook Inlet in this action would 1) be consistent with instruction provided in the District Court’s judgement, 2) directly address the area that has been at the center of the litigative history of this action, and 3) inform, and possibly streamline development of a future action that would apply to the other two traditional net areas.
About the Salmon FMP
The Salmon Fisheries Management Plan was developed to prohibit directed commercial fishing for salmon in the EEZ except by a limited number of vessels using troll gear. The vast majority of salmon fishing in Alaska occurs in State jurisdictional waters, and as such, management of the salmon fisheries is deferred to the State of Alaska, Department of Fish and Game.
- Fishery Management Plan for the Salmon Fisheries in the EEZ off the Coast of Alaska, updated 1/14
- Most recent amendment (Amendment 12) analysis
Current Status of the FMP:
The Council’s existing Salmon FMP divides federal waters off Alaska into two management areas, East and West, with a boundary line at Cape Suckling. The FMP delegates management of salmon sport fishing and commercial trolling in the East Area to the State and prohibits all commercial salmon harvest in the West Area. Commercial salmon fishing in federal water portions of the traditional net areas would be prohibited since they partially overlap with federal waters of the West Area but these areas are specifically excluded from the federal FMP. This arrangement was facilitated by the Council through Amendment 12 to the Salmon FMP in 2012 recognizing the State’s superior ability to respond to in-season data by quickly and continually adjusting run-specific harvest measures.
Staff contact is Jim Armstrong, 907-271-2805.