The Council received reports from the recent Joint, BSAI, and GOA Groundfish Plan Team meetings, and recommended 2022 and 2023 BSAI and GOA groundfish harvest and prohibited species catch (PSC) specifications for proposed rulemaking.
The SSC was presented with the Joint Groundfish Plan Teams Report, the BSAI Groundfish Plan Team Report, and the GOA Groundfish Plan Team Report, which summarized the issues discussed and actions taken by the Plan Teams at their September meetings. The SSC also received a preview of ecosystem status reports (ESRs) which highlighted areas of concern, noteworthy topics, and developing narratives for the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska. Full presentations of these reports will be provided to the Council in December.
The Council received condensed presentations of the Groundfish Plan Team reports that focused on issues most relevant to proposed specifications and items requested by the Council. Updated groundfish stock assessments will be reviewed by the Plan Teams at the upcoming virtual meetings November 15-19, 2021 and the Council will receive full reports at its December meeting prior to recommending final BSAI and GOA groundfish harvest specifications.
Joint Plan Teams including sablefish
Highlights from the Joint Plan Teams report include updates on sablefish research and proposed modeling updates, and discussions on the application of risk tables.
The Council requested that NOAA continue to work with the IPHC to ensure the collection and timely input of CPUE data from the sablefish logbooks. Continued efforts to input data from electronic monitoring logbooks would support the sablefish stock assessment (see part 2 of the Council’s motion).
Highlights from the BSAI Plan Team report include a review of the CIE reports for eastern Bering Sea Pacific cod and BSAI Greenland turbot, and blackspotted rockfish genetics and spatial issues.
For proposed rulemaking for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years, the Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations, and proposed TACs for all species, based on rollover of the existing 2022 specifications for all BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council also recommended PSC limits for halibut, crab, and herring, and adopted halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs) for 2022 and 2023. Full details are included in the Council motion for proposed BSAI groundfish proposed harvest specifications.
The Council received a letter from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) indicating that the combined, post-season sum of the run sizes from the rivers comprising the three-river index (Upper Yukon, Unalakleet, and Kuskokwim Rivers) of Chinook salmon is 165,148 and is below the threshold level of 250,000. Therefore, following the regulations at 50 CFR 679.21, the performance standard for the Bering Sea pollock fishery will remain at 33,318 Chinook salmon, and the PSC limit will remain at 45,000.
For proposed rulemaking for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years, the Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations, and proposed TACs for all species, based on rollover of the existing 2022 specifications for all GOA Groundfish stocks. Additionally, the Council recommended GOA halibut PSC limit apportionments and adopted updated halibut DMRs for 2022; full details are included in the Council motion for the GOA groundfish proposed harvest specifications.
The main highlight from the GOA Plan Team report to the Council was the other rockfish/demersal shelf rockfish spatial management issue. In response, the Council initiated a discussion paper to identify management and economic implications of separating GOA demersal shelf rockfish from the Other rockfish complex GOA-wide (see motion).
Staff contact for BSAI Groundfish is Diana Stram. Staff contact for GOA Groundfish is Sara Cleaver.