Federal fisheries officials said the opener was necessary to fully utilize the 2016 groundfish total allowable catch specified for species comprising the deep-water species category in the gulf.
In its announcement in the Federal Register, NMFS determined that there is some 135 metric tons of trawl Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limit remaining in the deep-water fishery and shallow-water fishery seasonal apportionments. To fully utilize the 2016 groundfish total allowable catch available in this category, NMFS opted to terminate the previous closure and reopen directed fishing for species comprising the deep-water fishery category in the gulf.
Council staff said that this was the first time since the North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed Amendment 95 package in 2012 to reduce prohibited species catch of halibut in the Gulf that the deep water complex was closed prior to May 15 because of the amount of halibut PSC taken by that date. But after May 15, Amendment 95 allows for the fishery to reopen to utilize remaining halibut PSC in deep and shallow water sectors for that season for that fishery, until it runs out.
Amendment 95 separated out the halibut PSC limits for the Gulf over five seasons each year, with specific deep and shallow water limits for each season.
Deep-water species open under the temporary rule include Pacific Whiting, Dover sole, English sole, Petrale sole, sablefish, rockfish and other flatfish.
NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the gulf’s exclusive economic zone according to the fishery management plan for groundfish in the gulf prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The complete notices is at