The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved final action to allow vessels to deliver a partial load of crab and then continue harvesting under the crab rationalization program. The council reasoned during its December meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, that being able to resume fishing after a partial offload could help vessels faced with an advancing ice pack and also allow a vessel to maintain efficiency after delivering designated quota shares to the Pribilof Islands before continuing to fish and completing deliveries in the southern region.
An additional advantage would be that if an offloading vessel was forced out of a harbor by weather, this action would allow the vessel to fish rather than wait for multiple days at anchor waiting for the weather to calm down.
The council said it does not expect this provision to create any significant challenges for catch accounting or to substantially increase deadloss in the fishery. Still the council directed staff to specifically review the biological, economic and management impacts of this action during its next required crab rationalization program review, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.