The Council adopted for public review an analysis of alternatives intended to relieve operational inefficiencies for the trawl catcher vessel (CV) pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska. For pollock, additional flexibility would be achieved by moving from the existing equal (25%) four-season TAC allocation to equal (50%) two-season allocations. Under the seasonal modification, the pollock A and B seasons would be combined into a season that runs from January 20 through May 31 and the C and D seasons would be combined into a season that runs from August 25 through November 1. The Council will continue to consider whether increasing the 20% cap on in-year seasonal rollovers of unharvested pollock TAC provides flexibility to better utilize the available harvest; the Council’s preliminary preferred alternative would increase the cap to 25%.
For Pacific cod, the Council aims to reduce the underharvest of B season TAC in the trawl CV sector by moving some of the seasonally allocated TAC to the A season. The Council re-specified the options for the amount of the seasonal reallocation, to clarify that sectors other than the trawl CVs would not be impacted. The preliminary preferred alternative would result in an A/B seasonal TAC ratio – across all sectors – of 64%:36%, compared to the status quo of 60%:40%.
The Council’s stated purpose and need for this action remains unchanged as the Council proceeds to public review. The analytical document prepared for this action qualitatively describes circumstances in which fishery effort could result in impacts to Steller sea lions. Throughout the development of this action, the Council has maintained that its intent is to provide benefits to fishery participants while not adversely impacting ESA-protected Steller sea lions. The alternatives do not pose any additional risk to the GOA pollock or Pacific cod stocks since harvest specifications would continue to control overall harvest of these target species. Likewise, the efficacy in PSC limits constraining bycatch of Chinook salmon and halibut are not affected by the alternatives. Staff contacts are Jim Armstrong and Sam Cunningham.