Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management (GOA TBM) was the headline agenda item for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council June meeting in Kodiak, garnering a parade and harbor spit festival organized by the Kodiak trawl industry and processors on Saturday June 11. The Council reviewed the current discussion paper and made some clarifying adjustments to Alternatives 2, 3 & 4. One change would allow electronic monitoring, when it is available for trawl, instead of only 100% human observer coverage. The Council also added the following language between the Purpose and Needs statement and the Goals and Objectives section:
“The overarching goal of the Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management program is to provide the fleet tools for effective management and reduction of PSC and bycatch, and promote increased utilization of both target and secondary species while minimizing economic barriers for new participants by limiting the duration of harvest privileges that may be allocated (target species and/or prohibited species) in order to maintain opportunity for entry into the GOA trawl fisheries.”
The Council is moving the GOA TBM action to a ‘preliminary analysis’ phase tentatively set to come back in December. In the coming weeks NOAA Fisheries will announce in the Federal Register a new public scoping process that will be an important step in an Environmental Impact Statement for the program. The preliminary compiled June Council motion for GOA TBM can be found at this link.
In other Council agenda items: the NPFMC declared the 10 year Review of the BSAI Crab Rationalization program “complete and final”. The Council also moved Bering Sea Tanner crab to the list of species exempt from custom processing limits, an action of immediate concern that would allow the full utilization of the upcoming BS tanner season total allowable catch with a now limited number of processors. During the North Pacific Observer Program Annual Report the Council recommended adding a new strata in the program for vessels that deliver to tenders. The North Pacific Observer Program Annual Deployment Plan will be reviewed by the Council in October. Initial Review of ‘Electronic Monitoring Integration’ is also scheduled for October after a July review by the electronic monitoring workgroup in Anchorage.
The Council paid tribute to 3 non-returning members at an evening reception. Coast Guard Captain Phillip Thorne is moving up the ranks after serving the Council for 4 years, David Long was not reappointed for a second term, and Duncan Fields has completed the maximum 9 consecutive years on the Council. Theresa Peterson, an Advisory Panel member from Kodiak, was nominated by the Governor to replace Fields; Buck Laukitis was nominated to replace David Long. The Secretary of Commerce is expected to announce Council appointments next week.