After reviewing a discussion paper to consider requiring fixed-gear catcher vessels to retain all rockfish species, the Council adopted a purpose and need statement and initiated an analysis. As noted in the purpose and need statement, requiring full retention of rockfish could improve the identification of species when catcher vessels are subject to electronic monitoring, improve data collection by providing more accurate estimates of catch, and reduce incentives to discard rockfish, reduce waste, reduce overall enforcement burden, and promote more consistent management between State of Alaska and Federal fisheries. The proposed action includes an alternative requiring full retention of rockfish species by all fixed-gear catcher vessels (hook-and-line, pot, and jig) in the BSAI and GOA, and an alternative that would only require full retention of rockfish species by hook-and-line catcher vessels in the GOA. The analysis will also evaluate an option requiring full retention of rockfish even if the species is on PSC status, but would prohibit these retained rockfish from entering commerce. The Council requested that staff consider the following issues as part of the analysis:
- Whether increasing the maximum retainable allowances for rockfish species would reduce the amount of catch that would need to be monitored to ensure that it does not commerce
- The costs and feasibility of processing, handling, and donating rockfish that are retained in excess of an MRA and which cannot enter commerce
- Potential inconsistencies between State and Federal management.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.