Implementation of the Ocean Salmon Conservation Zone and Reapportionment of Darkblotched Rockfish between Catcher/Processor and Mothership Sectors

West Coast Trawlers' Network received the following announcements on the evening of Friday, November 17th.

Ocean Salmon Conservation Zone

Effective: 0800 (8 a.m.) local time, October 20, 2014

When NMFS projects that the Pacific whiting fishery may take in excess of 11,000 Chinook salmon (known as incidental take) within a calendar year, an Ocean Salmon Conservation Zone closing waters shoreward of approximately 100 fathoms (fm) (183 m) is implemented through automatic action, defined at 50 CFR 660.60(d) subpart C, per §660.131(c).

As of October 17, 2014, the best available information indicates that the Pacific whiting fishery had taken at least 11,000 Chinook salmon. Accordingly, vessels fishing in the Pacific whiting primary seasons for the Shorebased IFQ Program, Mothership (MS) Coop Program, or Catcher/ Processor (C/P) Coop Programs shall not target Pacific whiting with midwater trawl gear in all waters shoreward of a boundary line approximating the 100 fm (183 m) depth contour as of 0800, local time, October 20, 2014.

Coordinates for the 100-fm boundary line are available at §660.73 and can be downloaded from the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region website at:  www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/management/groundfish_closures/rockfish_areas.html


Reapportionment of Darkblotched Rockfish 

Effective: 2000 (8 p.m.) local time, October 17, 2014

The best available information on October 14, 2014 indicated that the 6.3 metric ton (mt) darkblotched rockfish bycatch limit for the Pacific whiting mothership sector (§660, Subpart C, Table 2b) had been reached and exceeded by approximately 0.7 mt. Catch estimates were based on NMFS observer data. The MS Coop fleet has suspended fishing operations after reaching their darkblotched rockfish bycatch quota in accordance with §660.150(c).

Reapportionment of unused portions of non-whiting groundfish species from the catcher/ processor sector to the mothership sector of the Pacific whiting fishery through automatic action are provided for in regulations at 50 CFR 660.160(c) and 660.60(d) when participants in the catcher/processor sector do not intend to harvest the remaining sector allocation. On October 17th, 2014 the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative submitted a cease fishing report to NMFS indicating that 3.0 mt of the catcher/ processor allocation of darkblotched rockfish will not be used and is available to redistribute to the mothership sector. Therefore, NMFS is taking action at this time to reapportion the surplus darkblotched rockfish.

For the reasons stated here and in accordance with the regulations at § 660.60(d) and 660.150(c)(5),  NMFS herein announces that effective 2000 (8 p.m.) local time, October 17, 2014 a surplus of 3.0 mt of darkblotched rockfish is reallocated from the catcher/processor sector to the mothership sector. The revised darkblotched rockfish allocations by sector for 2014 are:

Catcher/Processor       6.0 mt,

Mothership                  9.3 mt, and

Shorebased                  11.1 mt (unchanged from original allocation).

Proposed Rule concerning Amendment to Pacific Coast Groundfish Fisheries Trawl Rationalization Program for the Start of 2015

Published in the Federal Register and open for public comment until November 10th, 2014..

This proposed rule would revise regulations for the Pacific Coast Groundfish fishery with a target implementation date of January 1, 2015. Final implementation of the 2015-2016 biennial harvest specifications and management measures will likely be delayed beyond January 1, 2015.

NMFS has identified two issues that must be addressed prior to January 1, 2015, to prevent interruption of ongoing fisheries and to allow harvest of the total allowable groundfish catch. This action would address those issues by revising groundfish regulations in two ways. First, this action would replace language that was inadvertently deleted after a series of temporary rulemakings. This would reinstate a mechanism whereby NMFS can issue interim groundfish allocations at the beginning of the year, allowing the Pacific coast groundfish fishery to continue in years when annual groundfish harvest specifications are expiring and new ones are not yet finalized, as is likely for January 1, 2015. Second, this action would amend regulations to extend NMFS' authority to issue the full shorebased trawl allocation of groundfish to current quota share holders in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota Program. Specifically, the rule would allow NMFS to issue that portion of the allowable catch currently allocated to an Adaptive Management Program (AMP), to quota share holders until final criteria and a process for distribution of the AMP quota shares is developed and implemented.

For more information on this Proposed Rule, and to submit comments, please click through to the Federal Register.

Pacific Council Selects Preferred Alternatives for Trawl Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Program

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:

  1. Require recording of discards in logbooks with estimated weights given for each species for each haul or set;
  2. 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;
  3. Logbook certification is achieved if video review determines that logbook amounts are within 20% accuracy of video review, by species;
  4. 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;
  5. 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.

Council to Consider Electronic Monitoring for Catch Share Fisheries

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and its advisory bodies will meet September 10-17, 2014 in Spokane, Washington to address issues related to management of groundfish, highly migratory species, coastal pelagic species, salmon, ecosystem management, and habitat matters.


Listed below are some key agenda items, which include Council considerations to:

  • Take final action on alternatives for electronic monitoring regulations in groundfish fishery sectors where possible and provide direction on next steps for other sectors and issues.
  • Adopt preliminary preferred alternative and public review draft amendment language for incorporating protection to unmanaged forage fish in Council fishery management plans.
  • Preliminarily adopt exempted fishing permits to improve the swordfish fishery for the 2015-2016 fishing years.
  • Adopt a range of alternatives for routine management measures for 2015-2016 highly migratory species fisheries and consider further process for measures outside of the biennial specifications process.
  • Adopt a preliminary preferred alternative for a harvest control rule for lower Columbia River natural coho.
  • Adopt a preliminary preferred alternative for the Pacific sardine harvest fraction parameter.
  • Adopt for public review proposed changes for the 2015 Pacific halibut catch sharing plan and annual fishing regulations.
  • Adopt inseason adjustments to the current groundfish fishery.

A complete list of issues to be addressed is provided in the proposed meeting agenda.  A schedule of advisory group meetings is provided on the last pages of the proposed meeting agenda.  Copies of briefing materials prepared for the meeting can be found on the PFMC website www.pcouncil.org by August 29.

Meeting Locations and Arrangements

Meetings of the Council and its advisory entities will be held at the following location

DoubleTree by Hilton Spokane City Center
322 N. Spokane Falls Court
Spokane, WA 99201
Phone: 509-455-9600

All meetings are open to the public, except a closed executive session scheduled for 8 AM on Friday, September 12 to discuss litigation and administrative appointments.  For more information on the meetings, refer to the proposed meeting agenda or call the Council office at 503-820-2280 or 866-806-7204 toll free.

September Council Meeting Draft Agenda

Here is a draft agenda for the September Council meeting.

Additions to Quota Share Accounts and Vessel Accounts: Pacific Whiting Top-Up; Correction to 2014 Shorebased Trawl Allocations; and Surplus Carryover


Public Notice from NMFS:


Quota pounds (QP) for the actions listed in this Public Notice will be issued to the accounts of each affected permit owner or vessel owner on or before May 30, 2014. To view each NMFS transfer, participants may log into their quota share (QS) or vessel account and click on the 'Transfer Summary' tab.


Pacific Whiting Top-Up

In January 2014, NMFS issued interim allocations to the Shorebased IFQ Program and to QS permit owners through their QS accounts. The interim value for Pacific whiting was a conservative allocation to remain in place until the final harvest specifications for the whiting fishery were implemented. NMFS will credit QS accounts with additional Pacific whiting QP (i.e., "topped-up") based on the final harvest specifications.


Correction to 2014 Shorebased Trawl Allocations for Certain Groundfish Species

A rule published in the Federal Register May 16, 2014 that corrects inadvertently misreported 2014 shorebased trawl allocations for certain groundfish species in the harvest specifications originally published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2013. These species include English sole, lingcod, minor slope rockfish north of 40°10 N. latitude, Other Flatfish, Pacific cod, shortspine thornyhead N. of 34°27 N. latitude, and yellowtail rockfish north of 40º10' N latitude. The correcting rule results in a very minor increase in QP for these species. The correcting rule can be found online at:  http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/frn/2014/79fr28455.pdf.


The corrected shorebased trawl allocation table at § 660.140 (d)(1)(ii)(D) reads as follows:


IFQ Species

Management Area

2013 Shorebased Trawl Allocation (mt)

2014 Shorebased Trawl Allocation (mt)

Arrowtooth flounder





South of 40°10' N. lat.








South of 40°10' N. lat.




South of 40°10' N. lat.







Dover sole




English sole





North of 40°10' N. lat.




South of 40°10' N. lat.



Longspine thornyhead

North of 34°27' N. lat.



Minor shelf rockfish complex

North of 40°10' N. lat.



Minor shelf rockfish complex

South of 40°10' N. lat.



Minor slope rockfish complex

North of 40°10' N. lat.



Minor slope rockfish complex

South of 40°10' N. lat.



Other flatfish complex




Pacific cod





North of 40°10' N. lat.



Pacific Whiting









North of 36° N. lat.




South of 36° N. lat.



Shortspine thornyhead

North of 34°27' N. lat.



Shortspine thornyhead

South of 34°27' N. lat.



Splitnose rockfish

South of 40°10' N. lat.



Starry flounder




Widow rockfish








Yellowtail rockfish

North of 40°10' N. lat.









Surplus Carryover - Vessel Accounts

In the Shorebased IFQ Program, NMFS will issue surplus carryover for 19 IFQ species that have 2014 Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) established at a level lower than their corresponding 2014 Acceptable Biological Catches (ABCs). NMFS will not issue surplus carryover for the remaining IFQ species that have 2014 ACLs established equal to their 2014 ABCs. This decision is the result of a recent court decision discussed below.  


On April 4, 2014, the D.C. District Court issued its decision in Conservation Law Foundation's (CLF's) challenge to Framework 50 to the New England Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), Conservation Law Foundation v. Pritzker, No. 13-00821 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2014).  The court held that carryover is inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act if it results in a total potential catch level that exceeds the ABCs recommended by the SSC. In light of the court's holding, NMFS West Coast Region has decided that 2014 ACLs, including carryover from 2013, should not exceed the ABCs recommended by the SSC. Thus we will not be issuing carryover for any IFQ species where adding 2013 carryover onto the 2014 ACL would result in exceeding an IFQ species' ABC.


There are 19 IFQ species for which the ACL is smaller than the corresponding ABC and NMFS will issue surplus carryover in 2014 for all of them: Bocaccio rockfish south of 40°10' N., Canary rockfish, Cowcod south of 40°10' N., Darkblotched rockfish, Dover sole, Longspine thornyheads north of 34°27' N., Minor shelf rockfish north of 40°10' N., Minor shelf rockfish south of 40°10' N., Minor slope rockfish north of 40°10' N., Other flatfish, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut (IBQ) north of 40°10' N., Pacific ocean perch north of 40°10' N., Sablefish north of 36° N., Sablefish south of 36° N., Shortspine thornyheads north of 34°27' N., Shortspine thornyheads south of 34°27' N., Widow rockfish, and Yelloweye rockfish.


Consistent with the PFMC March 2013 recommendation, NMFS will not issue surplus carryover for Pacific whiting to adhere to the international whiting treaty agreement, where a method for addressing the fact that carryover of unused Pacific whiting already exists. Since the Pacific halibut Total Constant Exploitation Yield for area 2A (Washington, Oregon and California) is set by international agreement, and there is no ACL, the court's holding is not applicable to this species, and NMFS will continue with its past practice.


NMFS will issue surplus carryover to be consistent with daily or annual vessel limits and any surplus carryover above vessel limits will be permanently expired.  NMFS has also posted surplus carryover frequently asked questions to the West Coast Region website vessel account page, under "Manage an Existing Vessel Account". Note that these surplus carryover pounds are issued as "Other QP" and need to be transferred separately from "Current Year QP" in vessel accounts.




Pacific Whiting Treaty Joint Management Committee Meeting

The Pacific Whiting Treaty Joint Management Committee will meet on May 12 - 13 at the Embassy Suites in Lynwood, Washington. Agenda items currently include discussion of the Pacific Whiting Treaty process and objectives, and goals for use in the management strategy evaluation of Pacific whiting.


Meeting Time

Monday, May 12: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Tuesday, May 13: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm 


Meeting Location

Embassy Suites

20610 44 Ave W.

Lynwood, WA 98036


Embassy Suites

20610 44 Ave W.

Lynwood, WA 98036


Information about the Pacific Whiting Treaty can be found at:


Electronic Monitoring Update from Vancouver Council Meeting

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.

April Council Meeting Information and Quick Reference Agenda

The Council and its advisory bodies will meet April 3-10, 2014 in Vancouver, Washington to address issues related to salmon, Pacific halibut, groundfish, coastal pelagic species, ecosystem-based management, and essential fish habitat matters.  The April meeting of the Council and its advisory entities will be held at the following location:

Hilton Vancouver Washington
301 W. Sixth Street
Vancouver, WA 98660 USA
Phone: 360-993-4500

Key agenda items for the April meeting include Council considerations to:

  • Adopt final 2014 ocean salmon fisheries regulations.
  • Adopt final 2014 incidental catch recommendations for Pacific halibut in salmon troll fisheries.
  • Consider action to further development of the groundfish fishery electronic monitoring program, including preliminary approval of experimental fishing permits.
  • Take final action on restructuring stock complexes for groundfish stocks.
  • Adopt preliminary preferred alternatives for management measures for groundfish fisheries in 2015-2016 and beyond.
  • Consider inseason adjustments to the current groundfish fishery.
  • Approve an experimental fishing permit in the 2014 coastal pelagic species fishery.
  • Adopt management measures for the 2014-15 sardine fishery.

Please refer to the April 2014 Quick Reference Agenda (see PDF below) for a complete list of issues to be addressed at the meeting.  A schedule of advisory group meetings is provided on the bottom of the graphic.  A detailed draft proposed agenda will be posted on the Council’s website at least two weeks prior to the meeting.

March Meeting Agenda

Key agenda items for the March meeting include Council considerations to:

  • Adopt a range of alternatives for the 2014 ocean salmon fisheries for public review.
  • Provide guidance for submitting comments on the Sacramento winter Chinook harvest control rule.
  • Adopt public review options for 2014 incidental catch recommendations for Pacific halibut in salmon troll and sablefish fisheries.
  • Consider biennial harvest specifications for 2015-2016 and beyond groundfish fisheries, including final remaining overfishing limits, and review the status of the fishery management plan amendment to improvement the groundfish management process.
  • Adopt inseason adjustments to the current groundfish fishery.
  • Approve bycatch mortality rates associated with barotrauma reduction devices in groundfish fisheries.
  • Consider recommendations on international management activities for North Pacific albacore tuna.
  • Provide guidance for implementation of vessel monitoring systems in highly migratory species fisheries.
  • Consider temperature parameter changes for Pacific sardine fishery level triggers.

Download the March Meeting Agenda (PDF) below.

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