Federal fisheries managers took final action at their October meeting in Anchorage to assure a minimum delivery of 5,000 metric tons of Pacific cod to shore plants in the Aleutian Islands, a move proponents said was needed for economic survival.
The motion, as approved by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, said that prior to March 21 the A season trawl catcher vessel Pacific cod harvest in the Bering Sea shall be limited to an amount equal to the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands aggregate catcher vessel trawl section A season allocation, minus the less or of the Aleutian Islands directed P-cod non-community development quota total allowable catch or 5,000 metric tons.
The motion also prohibits directed fishing for non-CDQ Aleutian Islands Pacific cod for all vessels except catcher vessels delivering to shore plants west of 170 degrees longitude in the Aleutian Islands prior to March 15, unless certain restrictions are removed earlier. If less than 1,000 metric tons of Aleutian Islands P-cod from the non-CDQ TAC is landed at Aleutian Islands shore plants by Feb. 28, the restriction on delivery to other processors and the restriction on the trawl catcher vessel sector allocation would be suspended for the rest of the year.
Also if prior to Nov. 1, neither the city of Adak or the city of Atka have notified the National Marine Fisheries Service of an intent to process non-CDQ directed Aleutian Islands P-cod in the upcoming year, the shoreside delivery requirement and restriction on the trawl catcher vessel sector allocation would be suspended for the upcoming year.
Fisheries politics veteran Clem Tillion, of Halibut Cove, Alaska, a consultant for the Aleut Enterprise Corp., and Dave Fraser, of the Adak Community Development Corp., applauded the council’s action. “We were very pleased,” said Fraser.
“If they had done it earlier, we’d still have a fish plant at Adak,” said Tillion, but seven years late, the action was still welcomed, he said. “It will take months to get through the federal bureaucracy, but we can start planning,” he said. “It will be in effect by next year.”
The council had for the past several years periodically requested information to help determine the need for community economic protections in the Aleutian Islands that have evolved with the implementation of rationalization programs which have resulted in excess processing capacity in that fishery, the council staff noted. The specific rationalization programs include the American Fisheries Act, the Bering Sea/ Aleutian Islands crab rationalization and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Amendment 80 program.
Chris Woodley, executive director of the Groundfish Forum, voiced concerns in written testimony to the council prior to the October meeting.
Allocating Aleutian Islands P-cod to the catcher vessel sector with a requirement to deliver to shoreside processors in the Aleutian Islands would violate several National Standards, including 1, 4 and 5 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Woodley said.
It would also harm catcher vessels, catcher processors, shoreside processors in the Bering Sea and maritime support businesses in the Aleutians while providing little or no additional benefit to the communities of Adak and Atka, he said.
All written comments submitted to the council on this issue are online at www.npfmc.org