The Council has indefinitely postponed any further action on modifications to the Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for GOA trawl catcher vessels in non-pollock fisheries. The action could have either increased limits or added flexibility in the form of annual rollovers of unused PSC for trawl vessels targeting Pacific cod, rockfish, and flatfish in the Central and Western GOA. The alternatives that were under consideration had been developed as a revisitation of whether the existing PSC limits appropriately balance management objectives in light of the best and most recently available information. More information on the region of origin for Chinook PSC taken in this fishery has become available since the Council set the fishery’s PSC limit in 2013 (implemented in 2015). The fishery’s Chinook PSC predominately come from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, and to a lesser extent from Southeast Alaska and the Northwest GOA (Cook Inlet, Kodiak, and the eastern Aleutians). After reviewing alternatives in both February and April, the Council determined that modifying the limit was not appropriate at this time due to concerns about the status of Chinook salmon stocks that are known to occur as bycatch in the GOA non-pollock trawl fishery. The Council also noted the possibility that Federal actions relating to Chinook salmon removals could create an unintended interference with the decadal renegotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, which are currently ongoing.
The Council did not identify a future time at which this action should be revisited, noting that the timing and direction of trends in affected Chinook salmon stocks cannot be anticipated. The Council did, however, signal its intent to monitor both the status of Chinook salmon stocks and the performance of the PSC-limited GOA trawl catcher vessel sector. The Council will receive a report on Chinook stock status throughout the Pacific coast and on GOA trawl harvest and participation. The report will be made after 2018 fisheries occur, and after the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiation has been resolved.
Motion is available here. Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.