The NPFMC is moving swiftly through the agenda items during the meeting in Seattle this week, while taking a full 8 hours on the halibut PSC agenda item. The Council Motion on this agenda item is to move the document forward and to release the EA/RIR/IRFA for public review while incorporating some suggestions from the SSC. Halibut bycatch is a contentious issue and the Council avoided taking sides on differing recommendations from the AP, who were split on this issue. The AP motion, passing 11-8, recommended not releasing the EA/RIR/IRFA for public review while adding other options. The AP minority of 8 motion, to move the document forward with the addition of an option of 20% to the list of 5%, 10% and 15%, failed and the Council did not add a 20% option.
Discussions at the AP about bycatch and other subjects, spur comments by industry on the need to move ahead with catch share plans and GOA groundfish rationalization. AP member Weiss voiced an objection to the continued assertions, claiming many AEB fishermen he has talked with are generally opposed to gulf rationalization.
The Council began work on crab issues on Friday, beginning with the Pribilof Island blue king crab rebuilding plan. The council motion adopts Option 2B as the PPA. 2B would expand the Pribilof Island Habitat Conservation Zone closure to trawl and pcod pot fishing in the area. The motion also adopts most of the AP suggested additions. Council member Benson tried to strike the adoption of Option 2B as a PPA with a failed amendment. The Council also heard a report Friday morning on the BSAI Tanner Crab Rebuilding Plan, but took no action. Friday afternoon the Council began considering final action on the BSAI crab EDR revisions.