The Council reviewed a preliminary draft analysis of a management program for BSAI halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits tied to the abundance of halibut (also described as halibut abundance-based management (ABM)). The Council is considering modifying current static PSC limits to fulfill multiple objectives: to index PSC limits to halibut abundance which may achieve different goals of providing flexibility to the groundfish fisheries in times of high halibut abundance, protecting spawning biomass of halibut especially at low levels of abundance, and stabilizing the inter-annual variability of PSC limits, all of which may provide additional harvest opportunities in the commercial halibut fishery.
The SSC provided constructive feedback for the analysts and requested that the analysis come back for another initial review once their recommendations have been addressed. Recommendations were grouped around minor modifications to the halibut operating model, additional simulations to run under lower than present recruitment assumptions and clarifications in the presentation of the range of alternatives and related impacts. The Council moved to modify and broaden the performance metrics that are being considered in the analysis, and requested that staff incorporate the SSC’s suggested revisions to the operating model and the preliminary draft EIS to the extent practicable. The Council did not move forward with changes to the current alternative set nor recommended inclusion of the SSC’s recommendation for including a new alternative that allows regulatory flexibility for adjusting PSC limits within season based on observed encounter rates.
The analysts will be providing the public with an interactive spreadsheet that can be used as a tool to estimate what PSC limits would have been historically under the range of alternatives being considered. The analysis will be modified to address Council revisions and SSC recommendations and will be brought back for initial review in 2020. A work plan for this will be presented in December 2019. Staff contact is Diana Stram.