During its December meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, the council adopted for public review an analysis of alternatives intended to relieve operational inefficiencies for the trawl catcher vessel pollock and Pacific cod fisheries in the Western and Central Gulf of Alaska.
For Pollock, council staff noted, additional flexibility would be found by moving from the existing equal four-season total allowable catch allocation to equal two-season allocations. Under the seasonal modification, the Pollock A and B seasons would be combined into a season running from Jan. 20 through May 31 and the C and D seasons would be combined into a single season from Aug. 25 through Nov. 1.
The council also agreed to continue to consider whether increasing the 20 percent cap on in-year seasonal rollovers of unharvested Pollock TAC provides flexibility to better utilize the available harvest. The council’s preliminary preferred alternative would increase that cap to 25 percent.
For Pacific cod, the goal is to reduce the under harvest of B season TAC in the trawl catcher-vessel sector by moving some of the seasonally allocated TAC to the A season.
During the December meeting the council re-specified options for the amount of the seasonal reallocation to clarify that sectors other than the trawl catcher vessels would not be impacted. The preliminary preferred alternative would result in an A/B seasonal TAC ratio across all sectors, of 64 percent/36 percent, compared to the status quo of 60 percent/40 percent.
Final action is also scheduled in June on the community quota entity (CQE) individual fishing quota halibut in Area 3A. The proposed amendment would allow community quota entities in Area 3A to fish D class halibut IFQ on C or D class vessels.
The CQE program was developed to allow for a distinct set of small, remote, coastal communities with few economic alternatives to purchase and hold catcher vessel quota share in the Gulf of Alaska to help facilitate access to and sustain participation in the commercial halibut and sablefish individual fishery quota fisheries.
More information, and to comment on these and all other items coming before the council June 3-10 go to http://meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/Details/763.