- Call for Nominations
The Council is accepting nominations for the SSC and Advisory Panel, and also the Charter Halibut Management Committee.
SSC and Advisory Panel
The Council is accepting nominations for its Scientific and Statistical Committee and its Advisory Panel. Members seeking reappointment do not need to submit new application materials; for others, please submit your nomination here by Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 5pm Alaska time. Please note that the names, resumes, and supporting letters of those who submit a nomination will be posted on our website.
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 nomination portal by November 30th 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 2022, we hope to hold meetings in-person, but it is possible that some meetings may need to 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 nine AP appointments expiring in December 2021. The 3-year terms for seven seats expire in 2021, and of these, five are currently occupied by AP members who are eligible to serve another term: Angel Drobnica, Gretar Gudmundsson, Brian Ritchie, Erik Velsko, Marissa Wilson; AP members Craig Lowenberg and Joel Peterson are no longer eligible for reappointment. Additionally, current AP member Susie Zagorski is the interim appointee in 2021 for a seat that has two remaining years on its term, and she is eligible for reappointment. Finally, the last expiring appointment 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 nomination portal by November 30th at 5pm Alaska time. Letters of support are not required but will also be considered.
Charter Halibut Management Committee
The Council is seeking an additional representative from Area 3A to join the Charter Halibut Management Committee. The Council’s Charter Halibut Management Committee was established to develop recommended management alternatives for the charter halibut fishery in Areas 2C and 3A. Requested changes to management measures are suggested by the Committee in October of each year, then evaluated by ADF&G staff to estimate the expected charter halibut removals relative to the charter halibut catch limits for each area. . The Committee recommends management measures to the Council in December of each year. This year, the Committee is scheduled to meet on October 26-27, 2021, and on December 6, 2021.
If you are interested in joining the Charter Halibut Management Committee, please send a letter of interest to Sarah Marrinan at the Council office by November 30, 2021.
- Council Membership Changes
Kinneen and Tweit re-elected
The Council unanimously re-elected Simon Kinneen as Chair and Bill Tweit as Vice-Chair.
Council welcomes Vanderhoeven and Moore
The Council swore in Anne Vanderhoeven as its newest member at the beginning of its October meeting. Ms. Vanderhoeven is the Director of Government Affairs for Arctic Storm and has been involved in the Council process for many years. She recently served on the Council’s Advisory Panel as a representative for the Community Development Quota groups and is active and involved on many Council committees. She began her career as a fisheries observer and brings decades of experience across many sectors and fleets.
Additionally, David Moore joins the Council as the new representative for the US Department of State, where he serves as the International Relations Officer of the Office of Marine Conservation.
At this meeting, the Council also swore in Andy Mezirow and John Jensen to their third and second terms, respectively. Each term is three years. Council member’s full bios are included on the website.
Dr. Jim Balsiger retires
Dr. Balsiger, NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Regional Administrator, will be retiring November 30, following 47 years of service to NOAA Fisheries. He served as Regional Administrator, Regional Director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and Acting Administrator for NOAA Fisheries during that time.
Dr. Balsiger has a long history of working with the Council and on North Pacific fisheries issues, including serving as Chairman of the GOA Groundfish Plan Team and a stint on the Council’s SSC. Jim noted many things have changed over the years, specifically how bycatch is calculated, and including a variety of options for analysis. He was appreciative of the time he has worked in fisheries management in Alaska and thanked all the stakeholders, scientists, staff, and public that have contributed to the process. We wish you all the best in your retirement, Jim!
- BSAI Salmon Bycatch
The Council received a tremendous amount of heartfelt public testimony on the impacts of low salmon runs in recent years (particularly in 2021) to the people living in western Alaska communities, and the importance of salmon resources for food security as well as traditional and cultural purposes. After substantial discussion, the Council moved to request a report to continue the process of evaluating the estimation and impact of high seas bycatch of salmon on run returns as well as continued support for research funding to better understand the diverse causes of low salmon returns to these regions.
Specifically, the Council requests:
- An updated bycatch impact (AEQ) analysis which includes current genetic stock identification information and an updated age/length composition for Chinook salmon along with estimates of how many Chinook salmon taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery would have returned to Western Alaska Chinook salmon stock groupings. The analysis should include a PSC harvest rate analysis and an estimate of the Chinook salmon bycatch impacts to each specific stock grouping at the current cap levels and at actual bycatch levels in recent years.
The Council also requests that the report include recommendations to evaluate impacts of chum salmon bycatch in the pollock fishery with currently available data.
- A stock status update of Western Alaska Chinook and chum salmon stocks.
In addition, the Council requested two letters be drafted. The first is to the Secretary of State to request help to identify levels and stock composition of bycatch of salmon in waters outside of the jurisdiction of the United States. The second letter is to the Secretary of Commerce in support of recent requests to for increased and dedicated funding for salmon research, observation, and monitoring, including on the lifecycle of salmon species in the freshwater, nearshore, and marine environments, and the effects that environmental changes are having on salmon throughout their lifecycle.
Additional information on the State’s intention to engage local users in the development of a research plan and strategy to address these issues as well as continued progress on the availability of the Council’s requested report will be posted to the Council website.
Staff contact is Diana Stram
- BSAI Crab
Approval of the SAFE report and 2021/22 OFL and ABC
The Council approved the Final 2021 BSAI Crab SAFE report and specified OFLs and ABCs for eastern Bering Sea (EBS) snow crab, Bristol Bay red king crab, EBS Tanner crab, Saint Matthew blue king crab and Pribilof Island red king crab for the 2021/2022 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 2021 meeting. The Council’s motion adopting the 2021/2022 OFLs and ABCs for these five BSAI crab stocks is provided here.
In addition to approving the SAFE and OFLs and ABCs, the Council noted its support of the detailed recommendations of the SSC, as practicable, and encourages the Alaska Fishery Science Center to consider extending the NMFS trawl survey into deeper waters by adding stations to the standard Bering Sea trawl survey design. The Council supports continued efforts to move all assessments to GMACs and ongoing work by state and federal scientists to evaluate changing stock distributions in relation to currently defined stock boundaries
BSAI Crab Stock Status
The final 2021 BSAI Crab SAFE report 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 are available to support estimation of stock biomass (B), so stock status compares current biomass (i.e., B2021) to target (BMSY) and threshold (½ BMSY) biomass (see Figure below). The final 2021 SAFE report indicates that Aleutian Islands golden king crab, and Pribilof Islands red king crab and EBS Tanner crab are all above BMSY, while Bristol Bay red king crab, and Norton Sound red king crab are below BMSY but above ½ BMSY, and EBS snow crab, Pribilof Islands blue king crab, and St Matthew blue king crab are below ½ BMSY.
EBS snow crab, Saint Matthew blue king crab and Pribilof Islands blue king crab stock are all below the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for these stocks and means that they are all overfished. Pribilof Islands blue king crab have been overfished since 2002, while Saint Matthew blue king crab were declared to be overfished in October 2018. 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.
EBS snow crab biomass was below the threshold in 2021 and was declared overfished by NMFS on October 19, 2021. A rebuilding plan for EBS snow crab will be developed by the Council and must be implemented within two years Discussion of the rebuilding plan will begin at the January 2022 CPT meeting and the Council will develop draft alternatives for the rebuilding analysis in February 2022.
Due to ongoing concerns with the status of the Bristol Bay red king crab (BBRKC) stock and the closure of the directed fishery in 2021/2022, the Council took additional actions with respect to BBRKC. The Council will evaluate the potential impacts and benefits of expanding northward the Red King Crab Savings Area (RKCSA) as an emergency action, and also initiated a discussion paper to consider several factors that may have impact on the BBRKC stock. Further description of these motions is included under staff tasking.
Under the five-tier system described in the Crab SAFE report, methods are provided for estimating catch levels that constitute overfishing (i.e., exceeding the OFL). According to the 2021 SAFE report, overfishing did not occur on any of the Council’s crab stocks.
Staff contact is Diana Stram.
- IFQ items and Committee Report
At this meeting, the Council evaluated the initial review draft of the IFQ Omnibus analysis and the IFQ Committee Report, made changes to the alternatives and elements, and released the analysis for final action. The analysis considered several elements intended to increase operational flexibility for those using pot and jig gear to harvest IFQ, as well as a separate alternative to remove the Adak CQE residency requirement for five years to provide more opportunity for the Adak CQE to fully harvest its allocation. The IFQ Committee report characterized the range of viewpoints concerning appropriate gear retrieval requirements, pot limits, and changes to pot gear configuration requirements.
After receiving the presentation on the analysis, the Committee report and public testimony, the Council released the document for final action. The Council did not select a preliminary preferred alternative at this time, however it did revise the alternatives and elements in its motion. The Council noted that while some of the elements in the analysis, such as changes to the biodegradable panel regulations, flagpole and buoy requirements, authorizing jig gear to harvest sablefish IFQ, and the exemption to the CQE residency requirement, are straightforward, a few of the elements require more consideration due to diverging perspectives on how to proceed. The revised motion aims to balance the need for flexibility and gear innovation with the concerns heard in public testimony about a potential directed halibut fishery using pot gear. Element 4 would revise the pot gear configuration requirements to remove the 9-inch maximum width of tunnel opening so it does not apply when vessel has unfished halibut IFQ onboard. The Council’s revised motion includes an option to remove this tunnel opening requirement on vessels that possess sablefish IFQ but do not possess halibut IFQ. The Council clarified that this motion does not allow exemption from the tunnel opening requirement if the vessel does not have sablefish IFQ onboard. In other words, a vessel with only halibut IFQ on board would not be able to use a larger tunnel opening to target halibut; the requirement is linked to participation in the sablefish IFQ fishery.
The Council also indicated that elements should apply to CDQ as well as IFQ fisheries where appropriate, as regulations applicable to the CDQ program are intended to be no more restrictive than the regulations in effect for comparable non-CDQ fisheries managed under individual fishing quotas.
Staff contact is Sara Cleaver.
- Recreational Quota Entity Funding Mechanism
At this meeting, the Council considered an Initial Review Analysis of options to establish a fee collection program for charter vessel operators to fund the Recreational Quota Entity (RQE), and released it for final action. The analysis evaluates NMFS as the primary fee collection agency under different options. Two mechanisms are considered: 1) a charter halibut stamp mechanism and 2) an annual operator fee mechanism. A charter halibut stamp would require charter operators to purchase a halibut stamp for each guided angler, for each day that the charter angler is on a charter vessel that intends to harvest halibut operating in IPHC regulatory areas 2C and 3A. An annual operator fee mechanism would be an administrative action tied to the renewal of a Charter Halibut Permit (CHP) and scaled to the angler effort associated with that CHP. The analysis highlights the benefits and challenges of each option, as well as aspects that require further consideration.
All options that propose a fee be collected by NMFS from charter operators require U.S. Congressional action, to provide the fee collection authority as well as to allow for the appropriation of collected funds back to the RQE. This action is currently being considered in Congress under Senate Bill S.273. The bill passed in the Senate on September 14, 2021 and will next be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Council recommended releasing the analysis for final action and identified the charter halibut stamp concept as the preliminary preferred alternative. The Council also recommends that the Charter Halibut Management Committee review the current analysis prior to their October meeting and provide their recommendations to the Council prior to Final Action.
The Charter Halibut Management Committee intends to meet virtually on October 26 and 27, 2021 to discuss management measures for 2022 as well as RQE funding recommendations. The meeting links, agenda, and meeting documents will be posted to the Committee’s electronic agenda.
Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
- BSAI Trawl CV Pacific Cod LAPP
The Council took final action to create a Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel (CV) limited access privilege program (LAPP). After careful consideration of all the information presented, including the analysis, Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and Advisory Panel (AP) recommendations, and public testimony, the Council selected a preferred alternative. Once approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the preferred alternative will allocate quota shares (QS) to groundfish LLP licenses based on the harvest of qualifying trawl CV BSAI Pacific cod catch. The action will also allocate harvest shares to a processor permit based on processing history of qualifying targeted trawl CV BSAI Pacific cod landings. Harvesters and processors will then assign the cooperative quota (CQ) derived from the QS to cooperatives on an annual basis as an exclusive harvest privilege allocation.
The purpose of this action is to improve the prosecution of the fishery with the intent of promoting safety and stability in the harvesting and processing sectors, increasing the value of the fishery, minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable, providing for the sustained participation of fishery dependent communities, and ensuring the sustainability and viability of the resource.
The following is a summary of the preferred alternative:
- Element 1 – Voluntary harvester cooperative structure formed by holders of qualified trawl CV LLP licenses in association with an eligible licensed processor. Cooperative formation will require a minimum of three LLP licenses with Pacific cod QS to be assigned to the cooperative.
- Element 2 – 1) Option 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years with one drop year, 2) in the case of stacked LLP licenses (Option 2.3.2) that authorized qualifying catch history when no agreement is provided by the vessel owner/license holders at the time of application, qualifying catch history would be assigned to an LLP license by the owner of the vessel that made the catch, 3) NMFS will issue CQ to cooperatives by season (Element 2.4), and 4) allocate A and B season BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod only leaving the C season allocation as a limited access trawl fishery (Element 2.5).
- Element 3 – 1) Annual halibut and crab PSC limits available to the BSAI trawl CV Pacific cod sector will be established through the annual specification process, 2) establish a separate halibut PSC limits for the trawl CV and American Fisheries Act (AFA) catcher processor (CP) sectors in the Pacific cod fishery based on historic use of halibut PSC and establish separate crab PSC limits for each of the two sectors in the Pacific cod fishery based on the proportion of BSAI Pacific cod allocated to the two sectors (Option 3.2), 3) reduce the halibut PSC limit apportioned to the trawl CV sector’s cooperative Pacific cod fishery by 25% and reduce the crab PSC limits apportioned to the sector’s cooperative Pacific cod fishery by 35% (Suboption 3.3.1 & 3.3.2), 4) phase in the halibut PSC limit reduction over 2 years (Suboption 3.3.3), 5) establish a separate C season halibut and crab PSC apportionment of 5% of the trawl CV Pacific cod fishery PSC limit before applying PSC limit reductions noted above (Option 3.4), and 6) PSC limits will be apportioned to the cooperatives in proportion to their initial Pacific cod CQ allocation and will be monitored at the cooperative level.
- Element 4 – Option 4.1- revise the GOA groundfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits for all GOA non-exempt AFA CVs and AFA LLP licenses based on Element 2.2.2 (2009-2019) qualifying years. Halibut PSC sideboard limits will be managed as an annual limit. Option 4.2 – 1) prohibit AFA GOA-exempt CVs, non-AFA CVs, and CVs assigned to License limitation Program (LLP) licenses endorsed for less than 60’ length overall with an Aleutian Islands (AI) transferable endorsement from leasing their BSAI Pacific cod CQ as a condition of benefiting from GOA sideboard exemption, 2) vessels assigned to a qualified GOA sideboard exempt LLP license that does not fish in the GOA during the calendar year, expect when fishing under the CGOA Rockfish Program, can lease their BSAI Pacific cod CQ that calendar year, and 3) vessels assigned to qualified GOA exempt LLP licenses with less than 300 mt of average annual qualifying BSAI Pacific cod history to lease their BSAI Pacific cod CQ and benefit from the GOA sideboard exemption (Suboption 4.2.1).
- Element 5 – 1) All processors with an eligible FPP or FFP are eligible to process BSAI Pacific cod under this program (subject to eligibility requirements under BSAI FMP Amendment 120) (Element 5.1), 2) limit directed BSAI Pacific cod that can be delivered by trawl CVs to eligible CPs acting as a mothership. Specifically, the preferred alternative is Option 5.2.1 which allow each eligible CP acting as a mothership to process up to 125% of the eligible CP’s qualifying processing history, and 3) allocate 22.5% of QS to eligible processors (Element 5.4).
- Element 6 – Require cooperatives to reserve 12% of the BSAI A season trawl CV sector CQ as a set-aside for delivery to an AI shoreplant if the community of Adak or Atka file a notice of intent to process that year (Option 6.1). The set-aside will be in effect during the A and B seasons and any remaining portion of the AI CQ reserve will be reallocated to cooperatives in the same proportion as the initial allocation if the intent to process is withdrawn during the A or B seasons. The preferred alternative requires an intercooperative agreement that describes how the set-aside will be administered by the cooperatives to ensure that harvests from the BS and AI CQ reserve do not exceed the minimum set aside, how the cooperatives intend to harvest the set-aside, and how cooperatives would ensure that CVs < 60’ assigned to an LLP license with transferable AI trawl endorsement have the opportunity to harvest 10% of the AI set-aside for delivery to AI shoreplants. A cooperative intending to harvest any amount of the set-aside must provide the cooperative’s plan for coordinating harvest and delivery of the set-aside with an AI shoreplant in the cooperative application.
- Element 7 – Catch histories are attached to trawl CV LLP licenses and are non-severable from the LLP license. For LLP licenses associated with the non-exempt AFA vessels, transfers of QS are authorized for a 90-day period following initial issued QS. The 5% ownership cap from Element 8.1 will apply. Transfers of QS outside the 90-day period due to an operation of law will be permitted.
- Element 8 – Option 8.1 establishes a 5% ownership and use cap using the individual and collective rule with a grandfather provision. Option 8.2 establishes a 5% vessel use cap with a grandfather provision. Option 8.3 establishes a 20% ownership and use cap on processor issued harvest shares using the individually and collective rule and a grandfather provision. Option 8.4 establishes a 20% processing company use cap with a grandfather provision.
- Elements 9 through 13 were selected as part of the preferred alternative.
- Element 14, gear conversion, was not selected as part of the preferred alternative. The Council noted that given the new information about Bristol Bay red king crab and EBS snow crab stocks, the impacts of implementing gear conversion at this time are uncertain.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.
- Observer Annual Deployment Plan and PCFMAC Report
The Council reviewed the Observer Program Draft 2022 Annual Deployment Plan (ADP) and received a report from the Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC). The Council supported NMFS’ recommendations for deploying observers and electronic monitoring (EM) on vessels in the partial coverage groundfish and halibut fisheries in 2022. Specifically, the Council supported NMFS’ recommendations for the coverage allocation scheme of an adjusted 15% plus optimization based on discarded groundfish and halibut PSC and Chinook PSC, as described in the Draft 2022 ADP. This approach provides a 95% confidence interval that baseline coverage levels will be met for all strata. Observer coverage rates resulting from this approach and the final budget will be available in the final 2022 ADP in December.
The Council supports maintaining this allocation strategy through 2023, with the caveat that additional fixed gear vessels (up to 200 total vessels) may be added to the EM pool in 2023 provided that: they opt-in prior to November 1, 2022, additional funding for EM equipment is secured, and vessels meet the criteria in the ADP. Maintaining this strategy through 2023 would make staff resources available to work on the comprehensive partial coverage cost efficiencies analysis that the Council prioritized.
The Council strongly supports NMFS’ continued work on the comprehensive partial coverage cost efficiencies analysis, and supports the PCFMAC recommendations with respect to that work. The Council requests that the schedule for that analysis ensure the results are available to inform bidding for the next observer contract, in order that the new contract is able to contain cost efficiency measures and supports additional efforts to manage costs. Under staff tasking, the Council affirmed that the PCFMAC should meet in February 2022 to discuss the agency’s cost efficiency analysis in advance of the annual FMAC meeting in May. The Council requested that to the extent possible, the agency report specifically identify the benefits of using a Federal contractor for partial coverage observer days, and what issues would need to be addressed should the Council express interest in an alternative model.
Staff contact is Sara Cleaver.
- Groundfish Plan Team Reports and Proposed Harvest Specifications
The Council received reports from the recent Joint, BSAI, and GOA Groundfish Plan Team meetings, and recommended 2022 and 2023 BSAI and GOA groundfish harvest and prohibited species catch (PSC) specifications for proposed rulemaking.
The SSC was presented with the Joint Groundfish Plan Teams Report, the BSAI Groundfish Plan Team Report, and the GOA Groundfish Plan Team Report, which summarized the issues discussed and actions taken by the Plan Teams at their September meetings. The SSC also received a preview of ecosystem status reports (ESRs) which highlighted areas of concern, noteworthy topics, and developing narratives for the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska. Full presentations of these reports will be provided to the Council in December.
The Council received condensed presentations of the Groundfish Plan Team reports that focused on issues most relevant to proposed specifications and items requested by the Council. Updated groundfish stock assessments will be reviewed by the Plan Teams at the upcoming virtual meetings November 15-19, 2021 and the Council will receive full reports at its December meeting prior to recommending final BSAI and GOA groundfish harvest specifications.
Joint Plan Teams including sablefish
Highlights from the Joint Plan Teams report include updates on sablefish research and proposed modeling updates, and discussions on the application of risk tables.
The Council requested that NOAA continue to work with the IPHC to ensure the collection and timely input of CPUE data from the sablefish logbooks. Continued efforts to input data from electronic monitoring logbooks would support the sablefish stock assessment (see part 2 of the Council’s motion).
Highlights from the BSAI Plan Team report include a review of the CIE reports for eastern Bering Sea Pacific cod and BSAI Greenland turbot, and blackspotted rockfish genetics and spatial issues.
For proposed rulemaking for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years, the Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations, and proposed TACs for all species, based on rollover of the existing 2022 specifications for all BSAI groundfish stocks. The Council also recommended PSC limits for halibut, crab, and herring, and adopted halibut Discard Mortality Rates (DMRs) for 2022 and 2023. Full details are included in the Council motion for proposed BSAI groundfish proposed harvest specifications.
The Council received a letter from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) indicating that the combined, post-season sum of the run sizes from the rivers comprising the three-river index (Upper Yukon, Unalakleet, and Kuskokwim Rivers) of Chinook salmon is 165,148 and is below the threshold level of 250,000. Therefore, following the regulations at 50 CFR 679.21, the performance standard for the Bering Sea pollock fishery will remain at 33,318 Chinook salmon, and the PSC limit will remain at 45,000.
For proposed rulemaking for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years, the Council recommended OFLs and ABCs consistent with SSC recommendations, and proposed TACs for all species, based on rollover of the existing 2022 specifications for all GOA Groundfish stocks. Additionally, the Council recommended GOA halibut PSC limit apportionments and adopted updated halibut DMRs for 2022; full details are included in the Council motion for the GOA groundfish proposed harvest specifications.
The main highlight from the GOA Plan Team report to the Council was the other rockfish/demersal shelf rockfish spatial management issue. In response, the Council initiated a discussion paper to identify management and economic implications of separating GOA demersal shelf rockfish from the Other rockfish complex GOA-wide (see motion).
Staff contact for BSAI Groundfish is Diana Stram. Staff contact for GOA Groundfish is Sara Cleaver.
- Halibut Catch Sharing Plan Allocation Review – Workplan
At this meeting, the Council approved the workplan for the Area 2C and 3A halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) allocation review. The halibut CSP established an abundance-based allocation between the commercial halibut fishery and the guided recreational (charter) fishery in the International Pacific Halibut Commission Regulatory Area 2C and Area 3A. This allocation is being reviewed in response to NOAA Fisheries Allocation Policy which seeks to ensure fisheries allocations are periodically evaluated to remain relevant to current conditions.
The workplan includes 1) a summary of the NOAA Allocation Policy and the triggers and process for Allocation Reviews, 2) a summary of the resources that helped to define the scope of the Allocation Review, and 3) the proposed content to be included. This workplan stage is intended to align expectations of an Allocation Review (e.g., information that will be provided, types of decisions that can be made, etc.), outline a process that is transparent, and facilitate clear ways for stakeholders to participate in this process.
The Council suggested the review should also acknowledge the potential compensated reallocation opportunity that exists with the Recreational Quota Entity and the impacts of this opportunity if funding becomes available. The CSP allocation review is tentatively scheduled for the February 2022 meeting.
Staff contact is Sarah Marrinan.
- Climate Reports – Regional Action Plans, ACLIM, GOA CLIM
The Council received several excellent presentations at this meeting on ongoing climate research and initiatives, and provided recommendations and feedback. In staff tasking, the Council encouraged continued efforts with respect to these climate research initiatives, but asked that they specifically link research effort outcomes to how they would inform the Council process and management actions, including specific Council tools such as the BS Fishery Ecosystem Plan Climate Change Taskforce work, and use of ecosystem considerations in the harvest specifications process. The Council also emphasized the importance of identifying synergies with other agencies working on similar issues, and the need for consistent Federal funding for such initiatives without reprogramming funding from existing programs. The Council supported the SSC comments on the various reports, and recommended they be incorporated into future iterations.
The following are the various presentations that the Council received during the course of the meeting:
- The director of the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) updated the Council on 2021 and 2022 fish and ecosystem surveys, and discussed how the various initiatives underway work together to develop climate-informed science for management across different spatial and temporal scales.
- NOAA’s Climate Fisheries Initiative is a cross-NOAA effort which, when combined with existing programs, will enable the sustained operational ocean prediction and decision support system needed to reduce negative impacts and increase resilience of ecosystems and coastal communities.
- AFSC staff also gave presentations on three Regional Action Plans on climate, for the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Arctic. Each of the RAPs takes a regional approach to the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, which specifies goals and objectives for producing, delivering, and using climate-related information needed to reduce impacts and increase resilience with changing climate and ocean conditions. The RAPs focus on building regional capacity, partners, products, and services tailored to each specific region, and identify current and new climate research activities over the time period of the RAPs, as well as evaluating remaining key scientific gaps for each region.
- The GOA CLIM project is just beginning its work, and will examine how individuals, families, and communities may adapt to climate variability and associated changes in fisheries and marine ecosystems. It will also identify the factors underlying adaptation choices, and tradeoffs associated with those adaptations. Predicted fleet responses and adaptations will be coupled with regional economic models to understand potential economic impacts on fishing communities. In turn, fleet behavior will feed into biological models to understand changes in harvest patterns and species composition of catch.
- The ACLIM project began several years ago, and is now in its second phase, focusing on development of alternative “climate-ready” management strategies to help them understand management objective tradeoffs, and how to adapt to changing conditions so North Pacific marine resources remain sustainable and fisheries and communities are as resilient as possible. At this meeting, the lead investigators solicited input from the Council and stakeholders on the management scenarios and harvest control rules that will be modeled under projected climate change scenarios. In addition to the overall request that linkages between ACLIM and the Council’s Climate Change Taskforce are clearly identified, the Council also expressed their interest in the potential for ACLIM to use the current situation with declining crab stocks as a test case for adaptive climate tools, especially as snow crab is a focus species for the second phase of ACLIM.
As the ACLIM integrated modeling system advances, the AFSC will work to ensure that there are consistent formal and informal opportunities for public input. The project leads noted that they are planning an April 2022 workshop (more details available in early 2022). In the meantime, ACLIM has created a number of new working groups that are focused on diverse climate-related activities and are designed to help ensure that the work of ACLIM is as effectively coordinated as possible with initiatives at AFSC and beyond. These groups will regularly communicate their activities to the Council’s Climate Change Taskforce and the public and request input from the public and diverse Council bodies. The current working groups are:
- Ensemble modeling
- Climate downscaling and ocean modeling
- Spatial Modeling
- Social, economic, and fishery modeling
- Climate enhanced Stock Assessment Models and HCRs
- Food web models
- Ecophysiology, energetics, IBMs, & early life history working
- Marine mammals
- Indicators for ESRs and ESP
- Post-docs / students across ACLIM and GOA-CLIM
- PI Communication coordination: management, on ramps to Council and international coordination and communication.
- Staff Tasking
The Council discussed the relative priority and scheduling of previously tasked projects, and identified new tasking. The revised 3 meeting outlook reflects this guidance.
The Council was briefed on the planning for in-person meetings. All Council meetings will remain virtual through the end of 2021. The Council is tentatively planning to hold the February 2022 meeting in person, but will make a final decision based on current circumstances in early December. Based on Council direction, staff are planning to accommodate remote accessibility options at the next in-person meeting, including broadcasting the SSC and AP in addition to the Council, and allowing for remote testimony. In case the 2022 meetings are not able to occur in-person, alternate dates have been identified for 2022 should the meetings need to switch to a virtual mode.
The Council directed staff to write the following letters:
- A letter to the Secretary of State, to request help to identify levels and stock composition of bycatch of salmon in waters outside the jurisdiction of the United States (see also here).
- two letters to the Secretary of Commerce. First, to support recent requests for increased and dedicated funding for salmon research, observation, and monitoring, including on the lifecycle of salmon species, and the effects of environmental change on salmon. Second, in support of the NMFS Regional Action Plans on Climate and the NOAA Climate and Fisheries Initiative, and underscoring the importance of providing funding for these initiatives without reducing funding for existing programs.
- A letter to the AFSC, in appreciation for the climate reports presentations, and providing recommendations on finalizing the Regional Action Plans on Climate. In particular, the Council emphasized the need to link proposed projects and research to management application in the Council or other processes (including the Council’s ongoing Bering Sea FEP Climate Change Task Force), and to highlight and follow through on coordination with agency and community partners moving forward.
The Council also tasked the following projects:
- an updated salmon bycatch impact analysis, using current genetic stock identification information, and including a PSC harvest rate analysis and estimate of the Chinook salmon bycatch impacts on specific salmon stock groupings. The report should also evaluate impacts of western Alaska chum salmon bycatch, and stock status update of western Alaska Chinook and chum stocks.
- an analysis of the likely conservation benefits and impacts of shifting the Red King Crab Savings Area boundary further northward through emergency rule.
- a discussion paper on the impact of bottom contact by pelagic trawl gear on Bristol Bay Red King Crab stocks, the boundaries used for the BBRKC survey, stock assessment, PSC limits, and the directed fishery, and an exploration of mechanisms for creating flexible, responsive spatial management measures for all gear types that might be applied to protect BBRKC.
The Council made the following appointments:
- Kathryn Meyer was appointed as the primary Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife representative to the SSC.
- Caroline Brown was appointed to the Social Science Plan Team.
- Philip Joy was appointed to the BSAI Groundfish Plan Team.
- Jared Weems was appointed to the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Team.
- Mike Litzow was appointed to the BSAI Crab Plan Team.
Finally, the Council issued a call for nominations for the SSC, the Advisory Panel, and a vacancy for an Area 3A representative on the Charter Halibut Management Committee.
Staff contact is Diana Evans.
- Upcoming Meetings
- Charter Halibut Management Committee – October 26-27
Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Local Knowledge/Traditional Knowledge/Subsistence Taskforce – November 8, 10Postponed to January
- BSAI and GOA Groundfish Plan Teams, November 15-19
- Charter Halibut Management Committee – December 6
- BSAI Crab Plan Team – January 10-14, 2022
- Ecosystem Committee – January 25, 2022 (T)
- Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Taskforce on Climate Change – January 2022 (TBD)
- Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan Local Knowledge/Traditional Knowledge/Subsistence Taskforce – January 2022 (TBD)
- Scallop Plan Team – February 2022 (TBD)
- Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC) – February 2022 (TBD)
Second Council Ecosystem Workshop: tentatively October 2022
The Ecosystem Committee is developing a plan for a second Council Ecosystem Workshop. The intent is for a day and a half workshop held in conjunction with a Council meeting, and in-person interaction among workshop participants will be key to its success. The Committee subgroup working on planning is now recommending a new target date for the workshop, to be held in conjunction with the October 2022 Council meeting (likely during the week of October 3-7, 2022). The Ecosystem Committee will report back to the Council at the February meeting with a developed proposal, but wanted the Council calendar to reflect these tentative dates in order to notify interested participants who may need to plan for travel in their 2022 budget.