The SSC was presented with the Joint Groundfish Plan Teams Report that summarized the issues discussed and actions taken by the Plan Teams at their September meeting in Seattle, WA. Highlights of the Plan Team report included overviews of the various surveys conducted in support of stock assessments and ecosystem analyses, spatial management issues, as well as Team discussions with individual assessment authors. For proposed rulemaking for the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, the SSC and Council recommended OFLs and ABCs based on a rollover of existing 2018 specifications for all stocks except GOA and EBS Pacific cod. Reduced survey catches for those two stocks necessitated downward adjustment of proposed OFL/ABC by about 30% for GOA and 15% for EBS. Fully updated stock assessments for these two stocks and other BSAI/GOA groundfish will be reviewed by the Plan Teams at their upcoming November meeting. Consistent with SSC-recommended OFLs and ABCs, the Council recommended proposed TACs and PSC limits and adopted updated Halibut DMRs for 2018 and 2019.
The Council received a letter from ADF&G indicating that the combined, post-season sum of the three-river index (Upper Yukon, Unalakleet and Kuskokwim rivers) of Chinook salmon was above the defined threshold (250,000) for a low Chinook year, therefore the existing Chinook PSC limits for the EBS pollock fishery will remain in place for 2018.
Staff contact for BSAI groundfish is Diana Stram and for GOA groundfish is Jim Armstrong.