At the September 2014 Council meeting in Spokane, WA, the Council selected their final preferred alternatives for an electronic monitoring program for the Pacific coast limited entry trawl groundfish fishery catch shares program. See the “Fishery specific tables that show the Council’s final preferred alternatives” (PDF format). More detail regarding the Council’s decision will be provided in the near future on the Council’s website.
The Council also provided guidance to NMFS regarding preservation of the IFQ Program goals and the development performance standards when developing regulations to implement an EM Program. In order to preserve the conservation and accountability aspects of the IFQ Program, the EM Program must accurately capture discard events (i.e., whether discard has occurred), amount of discard (i.e., volume in weight and size of individual fish), disposition of discard (i.e., if we are to consider providing survivability credit for released fish, such as halibut), and do so even for rare events (e.g., catch and discard of rebuilding rockfish, by species).
In developing performance standards and accountability measures, the Council recommends NMFS consider the economic incentives to misreport or underreport catches and mortalities of overfished rockfish and Pacific halibut.
Individual accountability in the fisheries will hold only so far as monitoring programs are able to counteract these incentives. As such, having adequate enforcement to ensure compliance with the EM Program with strong consequences in place for violations are keys to success.
Performance standards examples are listed below:
- Require recording of discards in logbooks with estimated weights given for each species for each haul or set;
- Require a minimum of 30% video review during times of gear retrieval and 30% of video review of the remainder of the trip; compare to logbook entries for logbook certification;
- Logbook certification is achieved if video review determines that logbook amounts are within 20% accuracy of video review, by species;
- If logbook amounts do not meet 20% accuracy standard, then a 100% video review is triggered at vessel account holder expense and vessel cannot commence another fishing trip until video has been reviewed and vessel account has been debited;
- If the 100% video review is triggered more than twice within a six-month time period, then 100% video review is in effect for all fishing trips for the six months following the commencement of fishing activity, again at the vessel account holder’s expense.
At their April meeting in Vancouver, WA, the Pacific Fishery Management Council advanced a number of initiatives that may enable fishermen to bench-test electronic monitoring technologies through the use of “exempted fishing permits” (EFPs).
In the context of the West Coast groundfish fishery, electronic monitoring (EM) refers to on-board camera and software-enabled systems to track discards of non-target or undersize fish from fishing vessels. EM systems supplement logbook records maintained by skippers, and the data they generate can be used for both scientific and enforcement purposes. Here on the West Coast they are seen as a tool for lowering overall cost burdens on fishermen, including the escalating costs of human observers now required on groundfish trips.
Exempted fishing permits can be issued by fishery management councils in order to accomplish important fisheries research activities outside of the strictures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. After several hours of deliberation and public testimony, the Council voted in Vancouver to continue consideration at their June meeting of three EFP applications to test EM on whiting vessels, groundfish trawl vessels and fixed gear sablefish vessels.
Although the Council’s actions do not immediately put EM on the water, they are a critical step in eventually doing so. Between now and the June meeting, EFP applicants will refine their plans, then Council and NOAA staff will advise the Council on how implementation and administration of the EFPs would be carried out.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council’s) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) Groundfish Subcommittee will hold an online webinar in preparation for the SSC’s March 2014 meeting. The online SSC Groundfish Subcommittee webinar is open to the public.
The SSC Groundfish Subcommittee webinar will commence at 1 p.m. PST, Wednesday, December 11, 2013 and continue until 4 p.m. or as necessary to complete business for the day.
The purpose of the SSC Groundfish Subcommittee webinar is to review a final draft of the 2013 cowcod rebuilding analysis, data-poor overfishing limit estimates for kelp greenling and the Washington stock of cabezon, and other business in preparation for the SSC’s March 2014 meeting. Any recommendations developed at the webinar will be submitted for consideration by the Council’s SSC at its March 2014 meeting in Sacramento, California.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council met November 1-6, 2013 in Costa Mesa, California. The November 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.
- Download the November 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document
- For previous decisions, visit the “Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents Archives”
The Council considered sablefish projections for 2014 and adopted the following landing limits:
- Establish sablefish trip limits for limited entry fixed-gear north of 36° N lat. in 2014 of “950 lb/week, not to exceed 2,850 lb/two months” for Periods 1 through 6.
- Establish sablefish trip limits for open access fixed-gear north of 36° N lat. in 2014 of “300 lb/day, or one landing per week of up to 800 lb, not to exceed 1,600 lb/two months” for Periods 1 through 6.
- Establish sablefish trip limits for limited entry fixed-gear south of 36° N lat. in 2014 of “2,000 lb/week” for Periods 1 through 6.
- Establish sablefish trip limits for open access fixed-gear south of 36° N lat. in 2014 of “300 lb/day, or one landing per week of up to 1,600 lb, not to exceed 3,200 lb/two months” for Periods 1 through 6.
by Pedro Zapata, July 1, 2013
Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying senior fisheries officials from four Mexican states to Southern California, where they met with fishermen, seafood processors and members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). As they establish and reinforce their own fishery management systems and structures, this trip was a chance for Mexican officials to see firsthand a well-established system that has evolved for decades – and generally succeeds – through broad-based stakeholder participation and a commitment to transparency.
In 2007 the four states with Gulf of California coastlines – Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California and Baja California Sur – were mandated by the new Mexican Fisheries Law to establish fishery management structures. Some are further along than others, but each face daunting challenges; Limited manpower and finances, little governing infrastructure and minimal baseline scientific data that are so critical to fishery management.
The Council considered the most recent information on the status of ongoing fisheries and recommended the following trip limit increases:
- Limited entry fixed gear fishery north of 36° N. latitude: increase the sablefish trip limits from 950 lbs/week, not to exceed 2,850 lbs/2 months to 1,110 lbs/week not to exceed 3,300 lbs/2 months as soon as possible through the end of the year.
- Open access fixed gear fishery north of 36° N. latitude: increase the sablefish trip limits from 300 lbs/day, or one landing per week up to 700 lbs, not to exceed 1,400 lbs/2 months to 300 lbs/day, or one landing per week up to 800 lbs, not to exceed 1,600 lbs/2 months as soon as possible through the end of the year.
- Limited entry fixed gear fishery north of 34°27′ N latitude: increase the shortspine thornyhead trip limits from 2,000 lb/2 months to 2,500 lb/2 months for periods 4, 5, and 6.
- Limited entry fixed gear fishery south of 34° 27′ N. latitude: increase the shelf rockfish trip limits from 3,000 lb/2 months to 4,000 lb/2 months as soon as possible, through the end of the year.
- Limited entry fixed gear fishery south of 34°27′ N. latitude: increase bocaccio rockfish trip limits from 300 lb/2 months to 500 lb/2 months as soon as possible, through the end of the year.
- Open access fixed gear trip limits south of 34°27′ N latitude: increase bocaccio trip limits from 100 lb/2 months to 200 lb/2 months as soon as possible, through the end of the year.