The Council discussed the relative priority and scheduling of new and previously tasked projects.
The Council tasked the following new projects:
- Bering Sea parallel fishery: The Council initiated an analysis to consider limiting access to the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands parallel fisheries to Federal fishery participants, similar to a previous action that was taken for the Gulf of Alaska.
- Aleutian Islands Pacific cod trawl set-aside: The Council tasked staff with a discussion paper to provide a status report on recent litigation, conditions in the fishery, and potential regulatory approaches that could be used to provide opportunities for Pacific cod trawl CVs delivering to AI shoreplants.
- Crab rationalization program reviews: The Council initiated a housekeeping amendment to amend the program review cycle in the FMP to 7 years, consistent with the Council’s other LAPP programs and allocations.
- RQE funding: The Council tasked staff with a discussion paper to develop a mechanism for the Recreational Quota Entity (RQE) to fund the purchase of halibut quota share by selling halibut stamps to charter operators.
- Designating CDQ hauls: The Council requested NMFS review reporting time limits that require CPs to designate whether a haul is a CDQ haul within 2 hours after weighing of all catch.
The Council directed staff to develop and send several letters:
- To NMFS, commenting on the National Bycatch report, referencing prior council comments.
- To the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, commenting on the Pebble mine draft EIS. The letter should thank them for the presentation, request an extension of the comment period, and highlight the importance of the Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet fisheries and their habitat as considerations in the EIS. The Council also wishes to have an opportunity to review the EFH assessment for the project once it is available.
- To NMFS and other appropriate recipients, supporting continued AFSC funding for surveys but also for basic research on recruitment and ecosystem process studies that are critically important due to unprecedented climate change effects in Alaska.
- To the U.S. Navy, thanking them for the presentation on the 2019 Northern Edge exercise, and their responsiveness to previous Council feedback.
- To NMFS, commenting on the proposed rule for decksorting which will be published shortly, and highlighting that the primary objective of decksorting is reduction of halibut mortality. The Council also requested that in future, NMFS management reports identify any non-regulatory changes that affect decksorting.
- To the National Observer Program, expressing appreciation for the funding that has allowed the hiring of additional FMA analytical staff to support observer and EM issues, and highlighting the importance of this additional capacity. Staff were also tasked to prepare a one-page fact sheet on near-term observer program funding issues.
The Council also:
- Requested staff include evaluation of starting the revised B season on September 1st instead of August 25th, as part of the GOA pollock and cod season analysis.
- Requested NMFS review reporting time limits for CPs to designate if it is a CDQ haul within 2 hours after weighing of all catch
- Affirmed the SSC recommendation to move the development of research priorities to a 3-year schedule, to begin in February 2020.
- Affirmed scheduling the Protected Resources report as an annual item in February.
- Requested Council members and staff consider whether there are ways to streamline the cooperative report presentations prior to April 2020.
- Provided feedback on a NMFS proposal to establish a specific annual cycle for accepting exempted fishing permit applications. The Council heard concerns about how the proposed timing aligns with grant funding timelines, and requested NMFS consult further with stakeholders and report back with a final process.
Committees and Plan Teams
The Council received reports from recent meetings of the Community Engagement Committee, which held an inaugural meeting to discuss how the Committee will organize and operate, and the Ecosystem Committee, which received updates on northern fur seal status, planning for the EFH 5-year review, and the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan implementation. The Council also received a report on an evening workshop to evaluate whale depredation in sablefish fisheries, and opportunities for cooperative research. These reports are posted on the online agenda.
The Council reissued the call for nominations for a representative of the pot CV fishery to participate on the Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee.
The Council Chair made the following appointments:
- The Council appointed Noelle Rucinski and Abby Snedeker to share the active observer seat on the Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee.
- The Council appointed Dr. Jie Zheng to the Crab Plan Team.
A full list of Council committee membership can be found here.