Two items related the Council’s initiative on halibut abundance-based management (ABM) were addressed at this meeting. The SSC reviewed a discussion paper on proposed methodological approaches for the broader ABM EIS analysis and a proposed sub-set of the alternative set for preliminary analysis in October 2018. Of the three approaches proposed, the SSC recommended moving forward with Approach 2: a two-area halibut model framework for estimating PSC limits and their impacts on groundfish and halibut fisheries. This model is under development, and more information will be available for the next SSC review. The empirical approach for addressing impacts to groundfish fisheries will be developed by analysts for further input from the SSC. The SSC made a number of suggested changes to the simplifying assumptions proposed, and provided input for the ABM staff working group to consider in model development. The SSC endorsed the proposed subset of alternatives for preliminary analysis with the addition of another starting point option under Element 2 for contrast (Option 2: 2017 use (1,917t)). Preliminary analysis of alternatives to further assist the Council in refining the alternative set will be available for the October 2018 Council meeting. The analysts noted that under the current frameworked plan for analysis, initial review would occur no sooner than October 2019.
The Council also considered a discussion paper on data limitations associated with the use of size-based data for halibut PSC, specifically halibut over 26 inches (O26) as an approximation of legal-size halibut which would be taken by the directed fishery. The paper was requested as the Council was considering whether data would be sufficiently representative for creation of an O26 performance standard in conjunction with the ABM alternatives. As noted in the paper, due to sampling changes resulting from recent years of deck sorting experimental fishing permits, representative data on the fraction of O26 in the groundfish halibut PSC, by sector, is lacking. Beginning in 2018, these sampling issues have been modified to better reflect representative sampling both on deck and in the factory. After considering the various modifications to sampling in recent years as well as issues with data biases as a result of deck sorting the Council chose to take no further action on this concept at this time. Staff contact is Diana Stram.