The Council developed the Fishery Management Plan for the Salmon Fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska (FMP) under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The Secretary of Commerce approved the FMP and it became effective in 1979. The FMP was most recently revised in 2018 through Amendment 13, which updated descriptions of EFH for Pacific salmon.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act is the primary domestic legislation governing management of the nation’s marine fisheries. The Magnuson-Stevens Act gives the Council responsibility for preparing and amending fishery management plans for any fishery in the EEZ off Alaska that requires conservation and management (16 U.S.C. 1852 (h)). The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires fishery management plans to be consistent with a number of provisions, including ten national standards, with which all fishery management plans must conform and which serve to guide fishery management. Besides the Magnuson-Stevens Act, U.S. fisheries management must be consistent with the requirements of other laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Council is authorized to prepare and submit to the Secretary of Commerce for approval, disapproval, or partial approval, a fishery management plan and any necessary amendments for each fishery under its authority that requires conservation and management. The Council conducts public meetings to allow all interested persons an opportunity to be heard in the development of fishery management plans and amendments, and reviews and revises, as appropriate, the assessments and specifications with respect to the optimum yield from each fishery.
Current Status of the FMP:
The Council took final action in December 2020 on an amendment to add federal waters of Cook Inlet into the FMP management area and prohibit commercial salmon fishing in those federal waters. The amendment was approved by NMFS in August 2021, and is currently in rulemaking.
Staff contact is Diana Evans, 907-271-2809
- Cook Inlet Salmon (12/15/2020)
- Cook Inlet Salmon (10/20/2020)
- Cook Inlet Salmon (6/15/2020)
- Cook Inlet Salmon (10/11/2019)
- Call for Nominations (6/13/2019)
- Salmon Bycatch (6/13/2019)
- Cook Inlet Salmon (4/12/2019)
- Cook Inlet Salmon Committee (12/14/2018)
- Salmon FMP (4/12/2018)
- Salmon FMP (10/17/2017)
Timeline of Action on Cook Inlet
NMFS approves action as Amendment 14 to the Salmon FMP.
Council meeting Final Action: See “C2” on eAgenda
Council meeting Initial Review: See “C4” on eAgenda
Council “Preliminary Review”: C4 on Council eAgenda
Council Motion on timeline and directing Cook Inlet Salmon Committee to provide recommendations before April 2020: Council Motion
Council review of the Salmon Committee report from the September meeting occurred on October 10, 2019. The Council motion encouraged the Committee to collaborate in further development of their recommendations.
Cook Inlet Salmon Committee meeting held on September 30, 2019 Agenda, Report. As a vehicle for development of Committee recommendations, the Committee decided it would engage in collaborative online editing of management measures in the discussion paper.
A call for nominations was issued for stakeholders who represent new or recent involvement in the Cook Inlet salmon driftnet fishery. Subsequently, Council Chairman Simon Kinneen selected Georgeanna Heaverley for appointment to the Committee.
Council review of the Salmon Committee reports from the March and April meeting occurred on April 7, 2019. The Council made a motion relative to future issues for Committee focus, which did not include status determination criteria.
Cook Inlet Salmon Committee held on April 2, 2019: Agenda, Report
The SSC addressed consistency between the draft status determination criteria in the Discussion Paper and the MSA and National Standards. The SSC occurred within the context of the April Council meeting (see D2). The SSC Report is provided in the agenda platform.
The Salmon FMP Amendment Discussion Paper was updated and posted for the Council and Salmon Committee meetings
The Cook Inlet Salmon Committee held it’s first meeting on December 4, 2018 in order to develop management measures recommendations to the Council for incorporating Cook Inlet in the Salmon FMP. Staff presented an overview of the ongoing Discussion Paper that contains candidate management measures. A Committee report was presented to the Council on December 9, 2018 and included the following Committee findings:
- Status determination criteria: The Committee received a staff presentation with an analysis of spawner-recruit relationships for Kenai and Kasilof River sockeye salmon, but was unable to agree on specific management measures. The Committee recommended that further Committee meetings be held to make progress on that issue.
- Bycatch and harvest reporting: Options considered by the Committee were discussed in terms of their relationship to groundfish bycatch retention and associated permitting requirements. The Committee recommended non-retention of groundfish and supported use of eLandings as a reporting mechanism.
- Fishery Impact Statement: Committee members recommended that the Fishery Impact Statement be expanded to reflect concerns about community hardships and concern about uncertainty in the future of the salmon driftnet fisheries in Cook Inlet.
Following the Committee report, the Council directed the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee to continue developing measures necessary to establish status determination criteria for Cook Inlet salmon stocks. The Council also indicated its intent to have the SSC review the use of escapement-based analyses for status determination criteria and as best scientific information available under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.(Council motion).
At the October 2018 Meeting, Council Chair Simon Kinneen appointed Council member John Jensen as Chairman of the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee. Additionally, the date for the first Cook Inlet Salmon Committee meeting was set for December 4, 2018.
At the June 2018 meeting, Council Chair Dan Hull appointed members to the Cook Inlet Salmon Committee. A Council member will be appointed to Chair the committee before the Committee’s first meeting. The Council Chairman provided a statement explaining his choice of committee composition. The rationale for his initial appointments was spoken into the record and is provided below.
In October last year the Council decided to form a Salmon FMP Committee to assist in the development of measures necessary to satisfy Section 303(a) of the MSA and related MSA provisions. At this time, the focus of the analytical and technical work to revise the Salmon FMP is on Cook Inlet only. The detailed structure of the analysis has not been developed: The Alternatives are very generally identified as 1. No Action; 2. Cooperative management with the State; and 3. Federal management.
My selection of this initial group of Salmon FMP Committee members focuses on the primary affected stakeholders, the Cook Inlet drift gillnet permit holders, who fish in the EEZ waters of Cook Inlet. The tasking that the NPFMC has given to the Salmon FMP Committee is also primarily focused on measures related to management of the drift gillnet salmon fisheries in the EEZ. I recognize that these management measures may affect other stakeholder groups and that there is strong interest from a wide range of those groups to join the Salmon FMP Committee. I expect that at a future date the Council could determine, based on the progress of FMP development, that additional tasks for the Committee warrant selection of representatives from other stakeholder groups. The analysis, scheduled for December, could provide the impetus for those selections. Until that time, all interested stakeholder groups are welcome and encouraged to attend the Committee meetings, these meetings are open to the public. Members of the public can participate and engage with the Committee consistent with our established processes for Council committees. One of the main goals at the first Committee meeting, which would occur sometime prior to the December Council meeting will be to orient the Committee members to the federal fisheries management process, especially those who are new to it.
Finally, I expect to discuss appointment of a Committee Chair with Council members over the next few months and may be able to make that appointment before my term ends in early August.
This selection of Committee members is consistent with standard Council practice and Council SOPPs, which is to solicit names from the public for appointment by the Council Chairman. Appointments to committees and other subsidiary bodies are always announced at the end of Council meetings. Selection of the initial Committee members at the June Council meeting gives them time to prepare for review of the initial FMP analysis.
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. Read more.
At the 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. Read more.
At its April, 2017 meeting, the Council was presented with a discussion paper that provided a preliminary review of the steps needed to impose federal jurisdiction over portions of three traditional salmon net fishing areas currently managed by the State of Alaska. These net areas include federal waters in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, and the South Alaska Peninsula.
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. Read more.