The Council approved the Initial Review draft of the Central Gulf of Alaska (CGOA) Rockfish Program (RP) for release to the public with suggested changes by the Council, SSC, and Advisory Panel. No changes were made to the Council’s Purpose and Need statement. The Council selected a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) that is posted on the Council’s website.
Elements selected as part of the PPA include removal of the sunset date provision, and inclusion of elements that were recommended by the NMFS and stakeholders. All elements considered in the initial review draft were directly or indirectly included as part of the PPA, and two new elements were added at this meeting. Both of the new elements were not included in the PPA because they had not yet been evaluated in the current analysis.
The two new elements will be considered at final action and could be moved forward at that time as part of the preferred alternative. Those elements would remove catcher/processor (CP) RP sideboard limits that apply to Western Gulf of Alaska (WGOA) during the month of July. CP sideboards established for the Amendment 80 sector would remain in place. The second new element would remove the 3-day stand down for vessels that fish groundfish in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI), while Pacific cod or pollock is open to directed fishing, and move from the BSAI to the CGOA RP fishery. Vessels that are moving into other CGOA fisheries would still be subject to the 3-day stand down.
Element 10 was clarified to allow NMFS to reallocate unused RP primary species incidental catch allowance to both CVs and CPs, with a preference to allocate to onshore cooperatives first. Elements 6 and 7, which define required elements of the cooperative reports to NMFS, were modified as a new Element 6. That element would remove regulations that require RP cooperatives to submit an annual report to NMFS. NMFS does not need the information included in the report to manage the fishery, so the information is unnecessary for their management needs. Information important to the Council could be voluntarily provided by the cooperatives at the April Council meetings, when the Council takes annual reports from Limited Access Privilege Program participants.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.