At this meeting, the Council adopted a revised purpose and need statement, selected a preliminary preferred alternative for an analysis that considers prohibiting all Federal vessels from fishing for Pacific cod in waters from shore to 3 miles in the BSAI without the proper permits and licenses, and released the document for public review. The directed fisheries for Pacific cod in state waters (0 to 3 nm) that are open concurrently with the directed fisheries in federal waters (3 nm to 200 nm) are referred to as the parallel fishery and are prosecuted under virtually the same rules as the federal fisheries, with catch counted against the federal TAC. The parallel State waters fisheries are managed separately from the State waters Pacific cod fisheries.
The Council’s preliminary preferred alternative would preclude hook-and-line, pot, and trawl gear vessels from participating in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod parallel fisheries unless they have a License Limitation Program license with the correct license endorsements and a designated Federal Fisheries Permit. The preliminary preferred alternative would also require the above Federal permitted or licensed vessels that fish in the parallel fishery to adhere to federal sector and seasonal BSAI Pacific cod closures and would restrict those vessels from surrendering and later reapplying for the FFP within a three-year time period.
Below is the revised purpose and need statement:
Currently, there are no limits on entry by federally permitted catcher vessels into the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) parallel waters groundfish fisheries, and no limits on the proportion of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC that may be harvested in parallel waters. Current management inadvertently allows fishing in BSAI parallel waters off a federal Pacific cod TAC even when a sector’s federal Pacific cod allocation has been achieved. There is concern that harvests of Pacific cod in the parallel waters fishery by vessels that do not hold BSAI groundfish LLP licenses or the appropriate Pacific cod endorsement may continue to increase. This complicates conservation and management measures which hold sectors to their allocations and circumvents the intent of previous Council decisions regarding license limitation, sector allocations, and catch reporting. The Council, in consideration of options and recommendations for federal catcher vessels that participate in the parallel fishery, intends to ensure robust catch accounting while considering participation in and reliance on the Pacific cod fisheries while recognizing that new entrants who do not hold Federal fishery permits may participate in the parallel fishery.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.