Monday, April 9, 2012

News from the NPFMC

Chum Bycatch:

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC or Council) recently took public comments on measures to reduce the number of chum salmon caught incidentally by the pollock trawl fleet in the Bering Sea.

During the meeting, information from genetic studies was revealed which could change the direction the Council ultimately takes on this issue. The genetic stock composition (GSC) analysis demonstrates that a large percentage of those chums from the Bering Sea may have been bound for hatcheries in Japan and Russia, rather than rivers in western Alaska.

Genetic Stock Composition Analysis:

1048 samples were taken in 2010 from the Bering Sea.

East Asian: 38%

North Asian 26%

Western Alaska 14%

E. Gulf/Pacific NW 13%

Upper/Mid Yukon 7%

The Council ended up deciding to send the issue back for further analysis. Chris Oliver, executive director of the Council, said the matter will probably be on the agenda for the October meeting in Anchorage. If a final decision is made then, it would then go to the U.S. Department of Commerce for approval. It’s likely the issue won’t be resolved until 2014.

Fish Up – Halibut Shares for Area 4B:

At the March-April 2012 NPFMC meeting, the Council took final action to allow a fish up provision for the IPHC halibut area 4B. Owners of D category IFQ will be able to use this quota on C class vessels. D class vessels are 35’ and under, and C class refers to vessels 60’ – 36’ in length. The fish up provision was previously allowed for areas 3B and 4C back in 2004. Area 4A (including Akutan and Dutch) does not have a fish up provision. Safety is the main reason advocates gave for moving the 4B fish up provision forward. Opponents believe the fish up provision deteriorates entry level opportunities. The Advisory Panel to the NPFMC has been divided on this issue. APICDA has been a constant advocate for the 4B fish up provision.

ROFR Committee Disbanded:

The Bering Sea Aleutian Island Crab Community provisions workgroup, also known as the ROFR (Right of First Refusal) Committee, has been disbanded. The Council followed the Advisory Panel’s lead on this agenda item and accepted the workgroup’s report as the FINAL product of the group. The group found they had thoroughly worked through the issues, but could not reach further agreement, basically agreeing to disagree. Further decision points are now left to the Council. The only question is whether the issue will come up for initial review in June, October or December.

GOA Pacific cod A season dates:

A discussion paper on changing the GOA Pacific cod A-season dates has continued to be an important issue for AEB fishermen. Since the implementation of the sector split at the beginning of 2012, many area fishermen have been dissatisfied with how the fishery is prosecuted. The AEB had some good testimony at the recent NPFMC meeting in support of moving this analysis forward. Aleutians East Borough Assembly Member Paul Gronholdt and Natural Resources Director Ernie Weiss opened up public testimony on the topic of GOA P. cod A-season Opening Dates. The Peninsula Fisherman’s Coalition spokesperson, Beth Stewart, finished up testimony on the agenda item, virtually bookending all opposing testimony. The Council, however, voted to take no action at this time. This is still the first year of the sector. This issue is expected to resurface again in the future.

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