The Council reviewed a Public Review Draft of an Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR) and concluded that sculpins meet the requirements for classification as an ecosystem component species in both the BSAI and GOA FMPs.
The analysis included alternatives for classifying sculpins as target species or ecosystem component species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Groundfish Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). At this meeting, the Council identified a Preferred Alternative to designate sculpins in both BSAI and GOA FMPs as non-target ecosystem component species, and to establish the Maximum Retainable Amount (MRA) for sculpins at 20% for all basis species. The Preferred Alternative will preclude the establishment of OFL, ABC, and TAC, and prohibit directed fishing for sculpins. Recordkeeping and reporting to monitor and report catch and discards of sculpins will still be required.
During review, members of the public expressed concern about the requirement that ecosystem component species can only enter commerce in the form of fish meal, and requested that the Council initiate a discussion paper to revisit that requirement. During Staff Tasking, the Council directed staff to initiate a following analysis to evaluate eliminating the prohibition on any use or processing of sculpins and squid except for fishmeal.