Federal fisheries managers are slated to take final action this week on whether to limit access by all federally permitted vessels to the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Pacific cod parallel state waters fishery in Alaska or not.
The proposed amendment would require that participating hook-and-line, pot, jig, and trawl vessels have a license limitation program (LLP) license with the correct P-cod endorsements and a designated federal fisheries permit. It was written with the intent of ensuring a robust catch accounting, while preventing vessels circumventing the intent of previous council decisions on license limitations and sector allocations. The amendment would also recognize that new entrants who do not hold federal fishery permits may participate in the parallel fishery.
Council documents note that the purpose of such action is to address inadvertent fishing in these parallel waters off a federal Pacific cod total allowable catch area when that sector’s Pacific cod allocation has been achieved.
There are currently no limits on entry by federally permitted catcher vessels into the BSAI parallel waters groundfish fisheries, and no limit on the amount of BSAI Pacific cod TAC that may be harvested in parallel waters. There is concern that harvests of Pacific cod in parallel waters by vessels who do not hold BSAI groundfish LLP licenses or the appropriate Pacific cod endorsement may continue to increase, complicating conservation and management measures holding sectors to their allocation.