The Council took final action in February to prohibit directed fishing by regulation for species with sideboard limits insufficient to support directed fishing for non-exempt American Fisheries Act (AFA) vessels and Crab Rationalization (CR) vessels. The Council also recommended removing the sideboard limit on AFA catcher/processors for Central Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel since the sideboard limit under the AFA (11.5%) exceeds the allocation to the trawl limited access sector (10%) that was established by the Amendment 80 Program. This alternative and option support the original intent of creating these sideboard limits to protect non-AFA and non-CR Program fisheries from potential adverse impacts associated with AFA and CR programs. The Council’s recommendation eliminates the need for NMFS staff to annually calculate dozens of sideboard limits for the harvest specifications, and then concurrently close most of these sideboard fisheries to directed fishing at the beginning of the fishing years. This approach also simplifies an element of annual data entry and programming for NMFS’s groundfish catch accounting system and should realize modest cost savings.
Staff contact is Jon McCracken.