The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) will decide this week at its winter meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, whether to reauthorize the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish (CGOA) Program, which would otherwise sunset on Dec. 31, 2021.
According to a problem statement adopted a year ago by the council, the rockfish plan has improved safety at sea, controlled fleet capacity, and enhanced the National Marine Fishery Service’s ability to conserve and manage species under that program. It has also increased vessel accountability, reduced sea floor contact, allowed for full retention of allocated species and reduced halibut and king salmon bycatch.
The council could reauthorize the program by either removing the current sunset date or establishing a new one. This would retain the current management, economic, safety and conservation gains to the extent practicable, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Alternatively, the council could decide to allow the rockfish program to sunset and return to management under the license limitation program. Should that option be selected, the council would need to provide some additional direction, including how to treat halibut prohibited species catch set-asides under the program.
The rockfish program was established for a decade back in 2012, replacing the rockfish pilot program that had been in place from 2007 through 2011.