The Council received an update from representatives of the Alaska Seafood Cooperative concerning the ongoing halibut deck sorting Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) research, which is testing handling methods or reducing halibut mortality in non-pollock groundfish fisheries. The research is intended to explore implementation issues that will be applied in the proposed regulatory amendment to implement voluntary halibut deck sorting on trawl catcher processors when operating in non-pollock groundfish fisheries off Alaska, which is currently under internal development at NMFS. The analysis and proposed rule for the regulatory amendment is anticipated during the spring of 2019.
In addition to reporting on halibut mortality encountered during the EFP, the presentation compared deck sorting performance with previous years, and reported on operational changes introduced in 2018. Additionally, the Alaska Seafood Cooperative has field tested an electronic length measuring board this year, which has potential to speed up data collections, reduce data entry errors, and reduce observer workload relative to current manual data entry methods. Additional work and more trials of the electronic board and chute cameras are planned for 2019. Staff contact is Elizabeth Figus.