The Council initiated an analysis of authorizing longline pot gear in the directed Greenland turbot fishery in the Bering Sea. The Council reviewed a discussion paper that examined evidence that killer whale depredation is precluding the hook-and-line fishery for Greenland turbot and scoped issues with a new gear authorization that should be fully analyzed. The Council established a Purpose and Need statement and a single action alternative that is a simple authorization for the use of longline pot gear when directed fishing for turbot in the Bering Sea. The authorization would apply to any type of vessel that is permitted to fish non-trawl gear in those Federal waters, but it is understood that the fishery is largely prosecuted by catcher/processor vessels. The action alternative includes an option to exempt vessels in the turbot directed fishery from a 9-inch maximum pot tunnel opening restriction that currently applies to groundfish pot vessels that do not have unfished halibut IFQ onboard.
The Council directed staff to further analyze the potential for a viable non-trawl Greenland turbot fishery to attract new, or renewed, participation and any effects that might have on competition for catch within the non-trawl sector or with the trawl sector. The Council emphasized that the analysis should address the possibility of spatial and temporal overlap between the trawl and non-trawl sectors that could result in fishing grounds being preempted by pot gear. The Council also directed analysts to further develop information on the species most likely to be encountered as bycatch in pot gear, including prohibited species (e.g., crab and halibut), commercial species (e.g., Pacific cod and sablefish), and species in the ecosystem component of the fishery management plan.
Staff contact is Sam Cunningham