The Council reaffirmed its preliminary preferred alternatives and options after reviewing the Public Review draft of proposed changes to the medical transfer and designated beneficiary transfer provisions of the halibut and sablefish IFQ programs. While this agenda item had originally been scheduled for final action at this meeting, the Federal government shutdown prevented the February Council meeting from being noticed in the Federal Register. As such, the Council made a preliminary final determination and will make a final recommendation at the April 2019 meeting.
Proposed changes to the medical transfer provision included redefining a certified medical professional that may sign a medical transfer form. The proposed definition is a broader definition than is currently in regulation and includes health care providers that are authorized to practice medicine within their specialty by the state or country in which he or she practices. The new definition also allows a health care provider outside of the U.S. to sign a medical transfer form as long as they are operating within the medical specialty they are licensed to preform by their country. A second change would limit the number of times a QS holder could use the medical transfer provision to 3 of the 7 most recent years for any medical condition that prevents the QS holder from fishing that calendar year. The current regulations limit medical transfers to 2 of the 5 most recent years for the same medical condition.
Two changes to the designated beneficiary transfer provision were also selected as part of the preliminary final determination. The first would add “estate” to the list of persons that could hold QS for up to three years after the death of the QS holder. The second would define an immediate family member at 50 CFR 679 using the U.S. Office of Personnel Management definition.
Finally, the Council requested that staff provide additional information on the implementation and management issues that would be associated with selecting Alternative 2 (medical transfer), Element 2, Option 3. That option would allow QS holders to transfer varying (decreasing) percentages of their quota depending on how many years they had used the provision during the 7 most recent years. The Council also requested information on the additional costs that would be associated with implementing and managing that option.
Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.