The Pacific Fishery Management Council met April 6-11, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. The April 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.
- Download the April 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document
- For previous decisions, visit the “Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents Archives”
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold an online webinar to develop alternatives for determining the status of groundfish stocks based on results of data-moderate assessments. The online Groundfish Status Determination Criteria for Data-Moderate Stocks webinar is open to the public, although space for online access is limited to the first 100 participants.
The Groundfish Status Determination Criteria for Data-Moderate Stocks webinar will commence at 9 a.m. PST, Friday, December 21, 2012 and continue until noon or as necessary to complete business for the day.
By Heather Mann, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative
At their September meeting in Boise, Idaho, the Pacific Fishery Management Council heard more than seven hours of testimony over a 2-day period from fishermen, processors, industry association leaders and conservation groups on reconsideration of the initial catch share allocations for Pacific whiting in the shoreside and mothership sectors. The reconsideration was in response to a lawsuit, the “Pacific Dawn case”, where plaintiffs had sought a larger share of the whiting allocation based on fish landings that occurred in the years following the program’s control dates. In February 2012, Judge Henderson ruled that the agency had failed to adequately explain its rationale for basing allocations on the years the PFMC had selected. It fell to the Council – as instructed by Judge Henderson – to develop a “final preferred alternative” by either reaffirming the “status quo” option which would have left the program unchanged, or by selecting one of four alternatives that would have adjusted the years used in the allocation formula.
As testimony wrapped up in a packed conference room, Council members spoke eloquently for over an hour to the fact that the status quo option was the only alternative that met the council’s stated biological, economic, and social goals, and then voted unanimously to affirm the status quo as their final preferred alternative.
West Coast fishermen have operated under a groundfish catch share program since January 2011, so potential reallocation of quota was bound to be highly controversial and disruptive. I am happy to report that the Council’s deliberations and eventual decision provided an example of how stakeholders in a complex multi-species catch share fishery can grapple with tough issues, balance competing interests, and ultimately strengthen the legal foundation of a model fishery management policy.
In their testimony, Pacific Dawn plaintiffs and counsel expressed their view that the relatively long period of time between the harvester control date and implementation of the catch share program justified a re-set.
The vast preponderance of testimony went against reallocation, however, and centered on factors such as: not wanting to encourage racing for quota; the potential negative precedent of moving away from control dates; the unfairness of upsetting business decisions that fishermen have made based on the program as it exists; and the fact that alternative dates proposed by the plaintiffs would not have achieved the council’s express goals of capacity reduction in an overcapitalized fishery.
Interestingly, even the plaintiffs spoke to the benefits of the program, and of not wanting to return to the race for fish. For me, that testimony was striking, and ultimately affirming. It speaks to the hard work – and the success – of fishermen, processors, fishery managers and enforcement personnel who have been willing, year after year, to grapple with tough issues, find fair and equitable approaches, and remain steadfast when inevitable challenges arise.
The results of that hard work are becoming clear. Data from the first 18 months of our catch share program suggest that bycatch and catch of overfished species are down dramatically along the West Coast, while revenues are up. Sure we have challenges, but overall our program is working and working well.
If you’ve been around this business for a while, you know that the only thing tougher than fisheries management is fisheries management reform. I applaud the council for making what had to be a difficult, but ultimately just decision. West Coast fishermen needed you to hold fast, and you didn’t let them down. Thank you for that.
If you're unable to attend in Boise, but need to hear a session or two, the September 13-18, 2012 meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council will be streamed live on the internet. The live audio will be broadcast starting on Friday, September 14 at 10 a.m. MOUNTAIN time.
Here's the link for full info and instructions.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council met April 1-6, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The April 2012 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.
- Download the April 2012 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document
- For previous decisions, visit the Council Meeting Decision Summary Documents Archives
The Briefing Book for the April 2012 Council meeting has been posted to the Council’s website on the “Current Briefing Book” webpage. The Briefing Book contains “situation summaries” (brief summaries that provide background for each agenda item), reports and materials for each agenda item, and written public comment.