The Council received reports reviewing the Gulf of Alaska sablefish pot fishery and recommendations from the IFQ committee. The GOA sablefish pot review summarized 3-4 years of fishery data as well as information gathered from speaking with fishery participants, managers, and stock assessment scientists. The review and subsequent testimony highlighted aspects of the fishery management that could be improved. The IFQ Committee considered prioritization of this and other IFQ-related issues.
After receiving the GOA sablefish pot review, Committee report and public testimony, the Council initiated an analysis to revise several regulatory components of the IFQ Program. The Council included two purpose and need statements as the basis for the analysis. The first highlights the need to increase operational efficiency and reduce administrative burden in the GOA sablefish fishery. The motion initiated analysis of alternatives and elements including requirements on biodegradable panels, pot gear configuration, gear retrieval, and pot limits. One element of the proposed analysis would also authorize jig gear as a legal gear type for harvesting sablefish IFQ.
This motion also included a separate (but not mutually exclusive) purpose and need statement and an action alternative to remove the Adak community quota entity (CQE) residency requirement for five years to provide more opportunity for the Adak CQE to fully harvest its allocation.
The Council identified the regulatory changes identified in the omnibus analysis as its priority with regards to IFQ program changes. In order to provide for as quick an implementation as possible, the Council may choose to bifurcate the omnibus analytical package at a future date if some actions prove complicated. While testimony highlighted interest in also prioritizing an action to allow release of small sablefish, the Council has chosen to prioritize the actions that seemed to be most straightforward before proceeding with further action on the small sablefish analysis.
The Council’s motion also included a statement of support for NMFS under its authority to initiate rule making to remove the requirement for sablefish pot fishermen to use pot tags. The Council also requested NMFS Office of Law Enforcement clarify that they have the discretion to waive gear tending requirements in the case of a documented mechanical breakdown or a severe weather event.
Additionally, the Council discussed other IFQ items and took action to remove the hired masters discussion paper and the IFQ QS transfers discussion paper from the list of untasked/ unscheduled items on the three-meeting outlook. This means a new motion would be needed to re-initiate these or similar analyses.
Staff contacts are Sara Cleaver and Sarah Marrinan.