Re-appointments & Election of Officers | Call for Nominations | Russian Military Activity in the EEZ | BSAI Crab Specs | BSAI Groundfish Proposed Specs | GOA Groundfish Proposed Specs | Squid and Sculpin Processing | Cook Inlet Salmon | Observer Issues | Halibut ABM | Survey Planning | Executive Order Promoting American Seafood | Staff Tasking | Upcoming Meetings | Former Council member wins prestigious award
Re-appointments and Election of Officers
Mr. Simon Kinneen and Mr. Kenny Down took the oath of office after being re-appointed for their final three-year term. Council members may only serve three terms, and Kineen and Down’s third term will expire in August of 2023. Additionally, the Council re-elected Simon Kinneen as Chair, and re-elected Bill Tweit as Vice-Chair for the upcoming year. Biographies for all Council members are available on our website.
Call for Nominations
The Council is accepting nominations for its Scientific and Statistical Committee, its Advisory Panel, (link to page for nominations) and its Pacific Northwest Crab Industry Advisory Committee (PNCIAC).
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) nominees should have areas of expertise in biology/stock assessment, marine mammals, statistics, fisheries/resource economics, sociology/anthropology, or other relevant disciplines and be federal employees, state employees, academicians, or independent experts not employed by advocacy or interest groups. SSC members serve one-year terms but may be reappointed. The SSC advises the Council on all aspects of the decision-making process, including stock assessments and annual specifications, protected species interactions, and adequacy of analyses supporting various management actions. New SSC candidates should submit nominations, letters of interest, and a resume to the Executive Director through our comment portal by November 27th at 5pm Alaska time. More information on the terms of reference, appointment process, and duties of SSC members can be found in the SSC Handbook.
The Advisory Panel (AP) is composed of representatives of the fishing industry and others interested in the management of the North Pacific fisheries, and provides advice from those perspectives. AP members generally serve for three-year terms, and may be reappointed for up to two subsequent, consecutive terms. Members of the panel are expected to attend up to five meetings, four to five days in length, each year. In 2021, it is likely that several of these meetings will be held virtually. Note that no seats on the Advisory Panel are designated to a particular stakeholder group or geographical area, and the Council encourages all interested stakeholders to apply. Of paramount importance, the Council will consider the demonstrated ability of the candidate to be objective and to consider all aspects of an issue. More information on the terms of reference, appointment process, and duties of AP members can be found in the AP Handbook.
There are seven seats with 3-year terms available for appointment on the AP. Of these, six are currently occupied by AP members who are eligible to serve another term: Victoria Curran, Natasha Hayden, James Johnson, Mellisa Johnson, Matt Upton, and Anne Vanderhoeven. One current AP member has a term that is expiring: Ernie Weiss, and the remaining seat is held by John Gruver, who was appointed to a one-year term only. Nominations, letters of interest, and a resume should be submitted to the Executive Director through our comment portal by November 27th at 5pm Alaska time. Letters of support are not required but will also be considered. Please note that the names, resumes, and supporting letters of those who submit a nomination will be public.
The Pacific Northwest Crab Industry Advisory Committee’s function is to provide the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council with advice and recommendations regarding appropriate measures for the conservation and management of the BSAI king and Tanner crab fisheries. There are up to 15 seats available, and each member serves a two-year term. Nominations close November 27th at 5pm Alaska time. Please send a letter of interest to staff contact Sarah Marrinan.
Russian Military Activity in the EEZ
During the U.S. Coast Guard agency report to the Council, Captain Jason Brennell of 17th Coast Guard District and Ms. Staci MacCorkle of U.S. State Department provided an in-depth briefing on the events surrounding the 26 August 2020 encounter between Russian naval vessels and aircraft, and the U.S. domestic fishing fleet legally fishing in the U.S. EEZ of the Bering Sea. Russian vessels and aircraft were participating in a Russian military exercise called Ocean Shield, which is a multi-fleet, multi-service Russian military exercise that has occurred annually for the past two years in the Mediterranean and the Baltic. This year’s exercise took place in the Bering Sea and the Arctic regions, which aligns with Russia’s Arctic strategy of using the Northern Sea Route to exploit Arctic resources in the future.
During the 26 August encounter with several of U.S. fishing vessels, Russian naval vessels and aircraft directed these U.S. fishing vessels to depart the area due to safety concerns associated with a missile launch. As noted in September 22, 2020, testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Security, the tone of the request by Russian warships and aircraft resulted in U.S. captains and their crews experiencing genuine fear for their safety, and resulted in operational decisions that cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost fishing opportunities and gear.
It was noted by the U.S. Coast Gard during their presentation that the U.S. fishing fleet is not required to depart from legal fishing grounds in the U.S. EEZ at the directed of a foreign entity. However, safety of life at sea should always be paramount in managing the safe navigation of any vessel on the high seas, and it is the responsibility of the mariner with firsthand situational awareness. The responsibility of safety within a military exercise firing zone in international waters and on the high seas belongs to the military service and Nation conducting the exercise. Essentially, everyone on the high seas has a responsibility to themselves and one another to operate in a safe manner.
To advise mariners of the planned Ocean Shield exercise, Russia used the HYDROPAC process to provide information on the area of operation. HYDROPAC are navigational warnings that are issued regularly and contain information about persons in distress, or objects and events that pose an immediate hazard to navigation. HYDROPAC is one of five types of navigation warnings that are categorized by their location. These maritime security alerts and advisories are issued by the US Maritime Advisory System. Mariners can subscribe here to receive email updates at sea (via Iridium, INMARSAT, Globalstar, or other method of internet access).
In staff tasking, the Council thanked the U.S. Coast Guard for the thorough briefing, while highlighting the alarm that this situation created for U.S. vessels. The Council recommends that the Coast Guard consider additional ways to improve communication with vessels and communities in the future.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
BSAI Crab Specifications
Approval of the SAFE and 2020/2021 OFL/ABC
The Council approved the Final 2020 BSAI Crab SAFE and specified OFLs and ABCs for EBS snow crab, Bristol Bay red king crab, EBS Tanner crab, Saint Matthew blue king crab and Pribilof Island blue king crab for the 2020/21 fishing season. The Council took this action following a review of the affected crab stocks as well as the BSAI Crab Plan Team’s (CPT) Report from their September 2020 meeting. Cancellation of the 2020 summer trawl survey due to COVID-19 created the potential for additional uncertainty in OFL as estimated in crab stock assessments, and the Council adopted additional reductions in ABC (i.e., “survey loss buffer”) to account for that uncertainty, as recommended by the SSC and the CPT. The Council’s motion adopting the 2020/21 OFLs and ABCs for these five BSAI crab stocks is provided here.
Crab Stock Status
The final 2020 BSAI Crab SAFE describes how the status of a crab stock is determined based on a system of five tiers that stocks fall into based on the amount of information that can be generated in the stock assessment. For most of the crab stocks managed by the Council, data support estimation of stock biomass (B), so stock status compares current biomass (i.e., B2020) to target (BMSY) and threshold (½ BMSY) biomass (see Figure 1). The final 2020 SAFE indicates that EBS snow crab, Aleutian Islands golden king crab, and Pribilof Islands red king crab are all above BMSY, while EBS Tanner crab, Bristol Bay red king crab, and Norton Sound red king crab are below BMSY but above ½ BMSY. The biomass estimate for EBS Tanner crab was above BMSY last year, and so the updated biomass estimate represents a decline.
Saint Matthew blue king crab and Pribilof Islands blue king crab stock are both below ½ BMSY (Figure 1) which defines the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for these stocks and means that they are both overfished. Pribilof Islands blue king crab has been overfished since 2002, while Saint Matthew blue king crab was declared to be overfished in October 2018. The Council-recommended rebuilding plan for Saint Matthew blue king crab has been approved and will be effective for the 2020/2021 fishing season. Under the rebuilding plan, the fishery will remain closed until the stock has growth to a level that allows for an opening under the State of Alaska’s harvest strategy.
Under the five-tier system described in the Crab SAFE methods are provided for estimating catch levels that constitute overfishing (i.e., the OFL). According to the 2020 SAFE, overfishing did not occur for any of the Council’s crab stocks.
Staff contact for BSAI crab stocks is Jim Armstrong.
BSAI Groundfish Proposed Harvest Specifications
The Council reviewed reports from the Joint and BSAI Groundfish Plan Teams and recommended 2021 and 2022 groundfish harvest and prohibited species catch (PSC) specifications for proposed rulemaking.
The SSC was presented with the Joint Groundfish Report and the BSAI Groundfish Plan Team Report that summarized the issues discussed and actions taken by the Plan Teams at their September meeting. For proposed rulemaking for the 2021 and 2022 fishing years, the Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations, based on rollover of the existing 2021 specifications for all stocks except for updated northern rock sole. The Council also recommended proposed TACs for all species, PSC limits for halibut, crab, and herring, and adopted Halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs) for 2021 and 2022. Full details are included in the Council motion for the BSAI.
The Council received a letter from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) indicating that the combined, post-season sum of the three-river index (Upper Yukon, Unalakleet, and Kuskokwim Rivers) of Chinook salmon is 173,416 and is below the threshold level of 250,000. Therefore, the performance standard for the Bering Sea pollock fishery will decrease from 47,491 to 33,318 Chinook salmon and the PSC limit will decrease from 60,000 to 45,000 Chinook salmon, as identified at 50 CFR 679.21.
Information for the GOA Proposed Specifications is available here. Staff contact for BSAI Groundfish is Steve MacLean.
GOA Groundfish Proposed Harvest Specifications
The Council received a report from the GOA Groundfish Plan Team and adopted proposed harvest and prohibited species catch (PSC) specifications for 2021 and 2022. The GOA Groundfish Plan Team report summarized the issues discussed and actions taken by the Plan Team at its virtual September meeting. Highlights of the GOA Plan Team report included results from the winter acoustic trawl survey, an update on survey design optimization for the GOA bottom trawl survey, and team discussions with individual assessment authors. The SSC provided guidance and recommendations on these issues as well as on harvest specifications for 2021.
For proposed rulemaking for the 2021 and 2022 fishing years, the SSC recommended OFLs and ABCs based on a rollover of existing 2021 specifications for all stocks. Updated stock assessments and PT and SSC recommendations will be reviewed by the Plan Team at the upcoming virtual meeting November 16-20. The Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations and proposed TACs. The Council also recommended halibut PSC limit apportionments and adopted updated halibut DMRs for 2021; full details are included in the Council motion for the GOA.
Staff contact for GOA Groundfish is Sara Cleaver. Information on proposed specifications for the BSAI is available here.
Squid and Sculpin Processing
The Council took final action on an analysis evaluating the potential impacts of removing restrictions to processing and sale of squids and sculpins as part of the Ecosystem Component (EC) category of the BSAI and GOA Fishery Management Plans. The Council selected the action alternative, Alternative 2, as their Preferred Alternative.
Squids were added to the EC category of the BSAI and GOA FMPs in 2018, and sculpins were added to the EC category in 2020. Current regulations prohibit the processing and sale of any EC species in Alaska unless they are processed as fishmeal. When squids were added to the EC category, the Council’s stated intention was that processing of squid into bait would continue. However, the final rule for the 2020 action revised regulations to limit processing of squids into fishmeal only. At this meeting, the Council recommended aligning the allowable use of squids with past practice, and to make regulations for the allowable use of sculpins consistent with squids.
Both squids and sculpins are caught incidentally to other targeted groundfish fisheries. Sculpin catch has always been low in the BSAI and GOA, and no market for sculpin products currently exists. Squid catch has been variable in the BSAI and GOA. Historically, squids have been sold as whole bait or whole fish/food fish. Although squid catch in 2019 was remarkably higher than in earlier years, analysis suggests that factors other than the reclassification of squids into the EC category likely contributed to the overall catch. Such factors could include the overall abundance of squids, patchy distribution of squids or the effects of the pollock fleet avoiding Chinook salmon and sablefish.
Staff contact is Steve MacLean.
Cook Inlet Salmon
The Council conducted its initial review of an analysis of alternative approaches to extend the authority of the Salmon FMP to include management of commercial salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ. The Council’s SSC reviewed the technical merits of the analysis and approved it for use by the Council for selecting a preferred alternative. In addition to the existing alternative set, the Council added a fourth alternative that would include the Cook Inlet EEZ in the FMP’s West Area and extend the existing West Area prohibition on commercial salmon fishing to the Cook Inlet EEZ. The possibility of an extended closure of the Cook Inlet EEZ to commercial salmon fishing was also analyzed under Alternative 3, with the difference that the option to close federal waters under Alternative 3 would be contingent on the availability of information needed for management. By adding Alternative 4, the Council clarified that prohibiting commercial salmon fishing in Cook Inlet could also occur as a policy decision, and, as such, would only be changed through a future amendment to the FMP.
Under this action, the Council is also considering a delegated management approach described in the analysis under Alternative 2, which would establish federal authority in the Cook Inlet EEZ, but would allow some management measures to by established by the State of Alaska. Such an approach would be consistent with the Council’s BSAI Crab FMP, which identifies distinct federal and State of Alaska management measures. Management under Alternative 3, on the other hand, would occur entirely at the federal level. This would be similar to how fisheries are managed under the Council’s GOA and BSAI Groundfish FMPs. Under either Alternative 2 or 3, the Council would need to establish a regular specifications cycle for Cook Inlet salmon stocks, including creation of a Salmon Plan Team and ongoing reviews of fishery performance and stock status. Under Alternative 4, commercial salmon fishing in Cook Inlet would only occur in state jurisdictional waters, involving established state management processes, and no changes to Federal management would be necessary.
The motion passed by the Council at its October 2020 meeting is provided in its entirety here. The Council expects to take final action on the Salmon FMP by December 2020, which will allow NMFS to complete Secretarial review of the FMP amendment and implementing regulations by December 2021 in order to have them effective for the 2022 fishing season. The Alaska Board of Fisheries and Council’s Joint Protocol Committee will meet by webconference on November 5, 2020 to review and discuss potential impacts and management changes associated with the alternative approaches for federal management of commercial salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ.
Staff Contact is Jim Armstrong.
Observer Program Draft 2021 Annual Deployment Plan
The Council reviewed the Observer Program Draft 2021 Annual Deployment Plan (ADP), received a report from the Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC), and supported NMFS’ recommendations for deploying observers and electronic monitoring (EM) on groundfish and halibut vessels in the partial coverage fisheries in 2021. Specifically, the Council supported NMFS’ recommendation to continue to utilize a port-based approach for partial coverage observer deployment, consistent with the redesigned 2020 ADP that is responsive to COVID-19 impacts on monitoring. The Council also supported NMFS’ recommendations for the coverage allocation scheme of 15% plus optimized allocation based on discarded groundfish and halibut PSC and Chinook PSC, as described in the Draft 2021 ADP. Observer coverage rates resulting from this approach and the final budget will be available in the final 2021 ADP in December.
NMFS reported that funding is sufficient to maintain the current fixed gear EM selection pool of 169 vessels in 2021. The Council supported NMFS’ criteria to determine new potential participants in the fixed gear EM pool if funding is insufficient to accommodate all new requests.
Finally, the Council recommended NMFS develop an abbreviated 2020 Observer Annual Report and requested an updated timeline for cost efficiency analyses consistent with its adopted priorities from January 2020. These priorities include integrating fixed gear EM into the determination of observer baseline coverage, a re-evaluation of the zero-selection pool, and re-evaluation of the bias metrics. The PCFMAC will meet in Spring 2021 to review work on these analyses prior to the annual FMAC meeting.
Staff contact is Kate Haapala.
The Council received a report from the Trawl EM Committee, reporting on progress with using electronic monitoring (EM) in pollock trawl fisheries in the BSAI and GOA in 2020. The Council continues to support the trawl EM development work, and the schedule that targets implementation of EM as a regulatory alternative for monitoring in the pollock trawl fisheries by 2023. As such, the Council supports extending the EFP, which is currently set to expire in 2021, through 2022, and supports industry efforts to seek out funding to support development work in 2022. The Council intends to review a regulatory analysis for implementing EM for the trawl fisheries next year, with the Trawl EM Committee continuing to track ongoing fieldwork and the development of analytical options during that time.
In the Trawl EM Committee report, the Council also received recommendations to NMFS for updates to the Draft NMFS Alaska Regional Electronic Technologies Implementation Plan update for 2020-2024, which is under preparation. The Council will review an updated version of this document in February 2021.
Staff contact is Anna Henry.
Halibut Abundance-based Management
The Council reviewed both a preliminary draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and a discussion paper on approaches to indexing Amendment 80 (A80) halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits to abundance and other incentives to minimize halibut bycatch. Following review, the Council revised the purpose and need statement and alternatives for the action, and provided direction to staff.
The action alternatives in the preliminary DEIS were initially proposed by stakeholders and refined and adopted by the Council over a series of meetings. Alternatives 2 through 4 set PSC limits for the BSAI Amendment 80 groundfish fishery based on control rules that are indexed to either the EBS trawl survey (Alternative 2) or the IPHC setline survey (Alternatives 3 and 4). The alternatives included a range of elements and options for floors, ceilings and other features that modify the responsiveness of the control rule that establishes the PSC limit based on abundance. The model-based analysis of alternatives indicated that the magnitude of change in PSC limits over time would be higher than the change in directed fishery catch and that, given the information available on Pacific halibut recruitment projected forward, PSC limits within the projected range negligibly impact long-term spawning stock biomass (SSB), but near-term trends in SSB vary mainly based on the current IPHC assessment age structure. Lower PSC limits are projected to result in greater directed halibut fishery catches (although at less than a 1:1 ratio) and are expected to reduce gross revenues for the A80 groundfish sector to varying degrees. The Council also reviewed a social impact assessment (SIA) that evaluates community and regional patterns of engagement in, and dependency on, the BSAI Amendment 80 groundfish fishery and the BSAI/Area 4 commercial and non-commercial halibut fisheries as well as the potential for community level impacts under the no-action and action alternatives.
The discussion paper provided information on three proposed approaches that could substitute for the ABM approach analyzed in the DEIS: a look-up table control rule with breakpoints based on states of both surveys, a PSC performance standard applied to the status quo limit, and a concept that would shift halibut mortality from the A80 PSC limit to the CDQ reserve for directed commercial halibut harvest in Area 4CDE.
Following extensive review of the DEIS and discussion paper and considerable public testimony, the Council revised the purpose and need statement to more directly address the action before the Council. In doing so, the Council noted that it was removing the previously derived objectives and instead was relying upon those folded into the new purpose and need as the stated objectives for any future action. The revised purpose and need statement is shown below:
Halibut is an important resource in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI), supporting commercial halibut fisheries, recreational fisheries, subsistence fisheries, and groundfish fisheries. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is responsible for assessing the Pacific halibut stock and establishing total annual catch limits for directed fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is responsible for managing prohibited species catch (PSC) in U.S. commercial groundfish fisheries managed by the Council. The Amendment 80 sector is accountable for the majority of the annual halibut PSC mortality in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. While the Amendment 80 fleet has reduced halibut mortality in recent years, continued decline in the halibut stock requires consideration of additional measures for management of halibut PSC in the Amendment 80 fisheries.
When BSAI halibut abundance declines, PSC in Amendment 80 fisheries can become a larger proportion of total halibut removals in the BSAI, particularly in Area 4CDE, and can reduce the proportion of halibut available for harvest in directed halibut fisheries. The Council intends to establish an abundance-based halibut PSC management program in the BSAI for the Amendment 80 sector that meets the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, particularly to minimize halibut PSC to the extent practicable under National Standard 9 and to achieve optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries on a continuing basis under National Standard 1. The Council is considering a program that links the Amendment 80 sector PSC limit to halibut abundance and provides incentives for the fleet to minimize halibut mortality at all times. This action could also promote conservation of the halibut stock and may provide additional opportunities for the directed halibut fishery.
The Council also revised its alternatives to meet the purpose and need, and provided direction to staff on the scope of the analysis for the next draft. The Council recommended replacing the existing suite of action alternatives in the DEIS with the following three action alternatives, based upon different look up tables utilizing breakpoints determined by both the IPHC setline survey and the EBS trawl survey. Under any of the action alternatives, the PSC limit would be determined annually based on survey values from the most recent year available. A synopsis of the alternatives is provided below; the actual look up tables are in the Council’s motion.
Alternative 2: A 3X2 look-up table with PSC limits that range from current PSC limit to 20% below current limit.
Alternative 3: A 4X2 look-up table with PSC limits that range from 15% above current PSC limit to 30% below current limit.
Alternative 4: A 4X2 look-up table with PSC limits that range from current PSC limit to 45% below current limit.
The Council also adopted four options that could be applied to any of the alternatives.
Option 1: PSC limit is determined using a 3-year rolling average of survey index values instead of the most recent survey value.
Option 2: PSC limit varies no more than (suboptions: 10% or 15%) per year.
Option 3: Establish an annual limit of (suboptions: 80% or 90%) of the PSC limit generated by the look-up table. In 3 of 7 years, the A80 sector may exceed the annual limit up to the PSC limit generated by the look-up table. If the A80 sector has exceeded the annual limit in 3 of the past 7 years, then (suboptions: 80% or 90%) of the PSC limit generated by the look-up table is a hard cap for that year.
Option 4: (mutually exclusive with Options 2 and 3) PSC unused in one year may roll to the following year to increase the PSC limit generated by the lookup table up to 20%. Any PSC savings in excess of 20% would stay in the water.
The Council requested that the next version of the DEIS shift the analytical focus from a management strategy evaluation (MSE) approach centered on evaluating objectives with respect to performance metrics to a more traditional impacts analysis on the affected fishing sectors and other affected resource components. The analysis will provide the information necessary for the Council to understand the expected impacts of each alternative on the affected sectors, and use the information to develop an action that balances the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The analysis is scheduled for initial review in April 2021 which, following EIS timing requirements under NEPA, could allow for final action for October 2021. Staff contact is Diana Stram.
The Council received a presentation from the Director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Robert Foy, on planning for the 2021 Alaska surveys. The Council also received a report from the SSC on recommendations for longer-term survey planning given dwindling resources. The Council will continue to dialogue with Dr. Foy on 2021 survey planning in December. In particular, Dr. Foy will provide additional information on the various scenarios and contingency planning in place for 2021, based on logistical considerations (e.g., whether there is a full or partial complement of staff, what types of vessel are available, opportunities for cooperative work with partners, and opportunities for incorporating advanced technology) and the potential consequences of not getting survey data. Staff contact is Diana Evans.
Executive Order Promoting American Seafood
In May, the President issued a new Executive Order 13921 “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness Economic Growth.” Section 4 of the E.O. requires each Regional Fishery Management Council to submit, within 180 days of the date of the order (by November 2, 2020), a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries.
At the October meeting, the Council approved its list of priority actions. The highest priority actions are Non-regulatory actions related to domestic production, including prioritizing internal NOAA funding for groundfish surveys off Alaska and stock assessments; and prioritizing internal NOAA funding for observer coverage and electronic monitoring.
Lower priority items include:
Council regulatory actions – Implement and regulate pelagic trawl electronic monitoring; squid/sculpin processing restrictions; BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod LAPP; BSAI pot cod CP action; and continued evaluation to remove recordkeeping and reporting requirements or regulations that are no longer necessary.
Non-regulatory actions related to U.S. seafood competitiveness – Increase marketing funds, promotion of sustainable US seafood, and science-based consumption advice; Improve trade policy and foreign market access for domestic seafood; and allow refinance of fisheries buyback loans.
NOAA policy – Remove Allocation Review Policy Directive 01-119; Eliminate review process for approval of Council SOPPs as described by Procedural Directive 01-115-01.
Staff contact is David Witherell.
The Council discussed the relative priority and scheduling of previously tasked projects, and provided guidance to the Chair and Executive Director about which items to prioritize for December and subsequent meetings. The revised 3 meeting outlook reflects this guidance, along with the posted December eAgenda. In addition to must-do items in December (BSAI and GOA groundfish specifications, 2021 Charter halibut management measures, and the Cook Inlet Salmon FMP amendment final action), the Council will review two initial review analyses for a BSAI Pacific cod Trawl Catcher Vessel LAPP and a BSAI Pacific cod Pot Catcher Processor Recency action. Council meetings, including Plan Team and Committee meetings will be held virtually for the remainder of the calendar year and likely into 2021.
The Council directed staff to write a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard, thanking them for the thorough briefing on recent Russian military activities in the U.S. EEZ that involved interactions with U.S. fishing vessels, and highlighting the alarm that this situation created for U.S. vessels. The Council recommends that the Coast Guard consider additional ways to improve communication with vessels and communities in the future.
The Council also recognized the additional difficulties sustained by vessel and shoreside observers in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and very much appreciates the dedication of individuals who nonetheless continued their critical work in support of sound science for the management of sustainable fisheries.
Finally, the Council will consider appointments for the SSC, AP, and PNCIAC in December, for which a call for nominations has been posted.
Council Committees, Plan Teams, Taskforces
- Charter Halibut Management Committee – October 27
- NPFMC-Board of Fisheries Joint Protocol Committee – November 5
- Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Taskforce on Local Knowledge/Traditional Knowledge/Subsistence Impacts – November 9-10
- Ecosystem Committee – November 12 (T)
- BSAI and GOA Groundfish Plan Teams, November 16-20
- Charter Halibut Management Committee – late November (date TBD)
- EDR stakeholder discussions (one for each EDR)
- Amendment 80: Monday 11/16, 9-11 am AKT
- Crab: Tuesday 11/17, 9-11 am AKT
- Amendment 91: Monday 11/23, 9-11 am AKT
- GOA trawl: Tuesday 11/24, 9–11 am AKT
2021 – exact dates yet to be determined in most cases
- BSAI Crab Plan Team – January 11-15, 2021
- Community Engagement Committee – January
- Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Taskforce on Climate Change – January
- Social Science Planning Team – January
- Ecosystem Committee – January
- Enforcement Committee – late January
- Scallop Plan Team – February 17, 2021
- IFQ Committee – March
- Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC) – March or April
- BSAI Crab Plan Team – May 17-21, 2021
- FMAC – May
Former Council member wins prestigious award
Linda Behnken, a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council from 1992 to 2001, recently won the Heinz Award for the Environment for her advocacy work promoting sustainable fishing practices while bolstering rural Alaskan fishing communities.
The Heinz Awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation to honor the memory of Senator John Heinz, recognize outstanding individuals for their contributions in the areas of: Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment. The candidates for the Heinz Awards are selected without any action on their part. Nominations are submitted by invited experts, who serve anonymously, and are reviewed by an independent panel of jurors appointed by the Heinz Family Foundation.
After her time as a Council member, Behnken continues to contribute her knowledge and expertise in Alaskan fisheries through her participation both as an active stakeholder in the Council process as well as her involvement in international fisheries policy. Behnken is the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.