NPFMC to Discuss Observer Coverage, Seafood Issues at Kodiak Meeting

NPFMC to Discuss Observer Coverage, Seafood Issues at Kodiak Meeting

Observer coverage, Aleutian Islands golden king crab, vessel caps for halibut landings and the release of small sablefish are top items for discussion before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meeting in Kodiak June 7-12.

The council has received over three dozen comments to date on the issues.

The council’s Fishery Monitoring and Advisory Committee is to present its report on observer coverage in the 2023 fisheries. Most of the comments regarding observer coverage are from harvesters calling for reduced bycatch from trawlers whose nets catch an abundance of salmon, halibut and snow crab.

One commenter cited an incident of draggers reporting 85,295 individual snow crab as bycatch within seven days in an area closed to crabbing. An observer with Saltwater Inc. urged increased representation of observers in the process of reviewing the overall impact of observer coverage. There were no comments from participants in the pollock fishery.

A report to be delivered by the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Plan Team also prompted comment critical of the impact of the trawl fishery and demands that the trawl fishery be reined in from taking their current amount of bycatch, particularly the crab bycatch by trawlers in areas closed to crabbing. Again, there were no comments from the trawler sector in defense of current approved council management.

An initial review report to be presented on vessel caps for individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut landings drew comment from several sectors, including the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association (CBSFA), which supports a preliminary preference to set a vessel use cap at 5% of Area 4 allowable halibut harvest.

The CBSFA suggested that a broader range of issues in the Bering Sea halibut fisheries should be identified and addressed as part of the IFQ program review scheduled for the council’s October meeting in Anchorage.

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) asked the council to consider the long-term implications of changes to the IFQ program in response to what may be short-term circumstances.

ALFA strongly recommended that the council add an alternative or option that allows the council to weigh changes to the vessel caps by area.

The upcoming review of a discussion paper on Bering Sea/Aleutian Island Pacific cod pot limited access privilege programs (LAPP) prompted a letter to the council from Unalaska Mayor Vincent Tutiakoff Sr. in support of LAPP.

Tutiakoff Sr. said that the Eastern Bering Sea Pacific cod fishery is the second most valuable groundfish species process in Unalaska after the pollock fishery and shore-based processors and communities would benefit from a LAPP program.

A second initial review of analysis regarding whether to allow release of small sablefish by IFQ/CDQ harvesters in the BSAI and Gulf of Alaska also drew several comments, including those of Bob Alverson of the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association in Seattle.

Alverson said that the association supports the release of small sablefish in the IFQ and CDQ fisheries, with a requirement to retain sablefish 22 inches in total length or longer.

FVOA is a trade association representing 95 families holding sablefish and halibut IFQs off of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California shores.


Boat Lyfe