NMFS + NOAA
NMFS announces allocations of Pacific whiting, adjustments to QS accounts, adjustments to vessel accounts, and changes to the online IFQ system.
Here is a PDF with the details.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces adjustments to quota share (QS) accounts for Pacific halibut in the Shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, plans for vessel accounts to prepare for surplus carryover in the shorebased IFQ program, and changes to the online IFQ system.
Please see PDF below.
At the April Council meeting, NMFS released the annual catch report for the West Coast groundfish IFQ fishery. You can download the report in PDF format below.
Public notice regarding extension to emergency rule re allocation of whiting, plus info on vessel account transfers
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the publication of an extension to the temporary, emergency rule, called the Reconsideration of Allocation of Whiting, Delay of Relevant Regulations (“RAW 1”), in the Federal Register (78 FR 3848, January 17, 2013).
Additionally, as of January 15, 2013, non-renewed vessel accounts will no longer be able to receive quota pound (QP) transfers unless the account is in deficit. In the case of a deficit, a non-renewed vessel account will only be eligible to accept QP transfers in for the species in deficit and only up to the amount of the deficit.
A "2013 IFQ Important Dates Calendar" is included in this public notice for your convenience.
See the PDF below.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the publication of a proposed rule in the Federal Register that proposes revisions to several portions of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Trawl Rationalization Program regulations and requests comments on NMFS’ preliminary conclusion that the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council’s) selection of the no action alternative regarding the reconsideration of initial allocation of Pacific whiting (whiting) is consistent with the Magnuson‐Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and other applicable law.
Both the public notice and the Federal Register notice are available for download below.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is requesting comments on the proposed rule for 2013-2014 groundfish biennial specifications and management mesures. This proposed rule would establish the 2013-2014 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan.
For more information and to view the proposed rule, please click through to the PFMC website.
QS permits and vessel accounts must be renewed online no later than Nov. 30, 2012. There is no cost to renew the QS permits and vessel accounts. Individuals who need to update their ownership interest information will need to mail an updated form to NOAA. Failure to renew QS permits by the deadline will result in the loss of 2013 quota pounds and failure to renew vessel accounts will result in the loss of surplus carryover quota pounds.
The Permit Office has also mailed out renewal applications for all Pacific Coast groundfish limited entry permits, which may be renewed online or by paper. The deadline is Nov. 30, 2012. The renewal application fee is $135 for each permit.
Questions? Call Sarah Towne at (206) 526-4353.
Ninth Circuit Upholds West Coast Groundfish Catch Share Program: Decision Affirms that the Program Complies with Federal Magnuson-Stevens Act
(San Francisco – September 11, 2012) On September 10th, a federal appeals court unanimously upheld a prior court's ruling that the west coast groundfish individual transferable quota (ITQ) system, a form of catch share, was lawfully executed. The decision helps to ensure that the efforts to improve the management and conservation of the resource through a catch share will continue as originally designed.
In its decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the ITQ program complies with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Pacific Coast Fed'n of Fishermen's Associations v. Blank, No. 11-17108, opinion filed September 10, 2012. In finding for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the administering agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that governs fishing in federal waters, the court determined that the agency properly considered the impacts of the program and took necessary steps to achieve its goals, including increasing economic benefits, protecting the environment, and holding fishermen accountable for staying within catch limits.
"We are pleased that the court confirmed that the catch share program is legal and should continue," said Brent Paine of United Catcher Boats, a fishing group that participated as a friend of the court in the lawsuit. "Disrupting a system that has put the west coast fishing industry back on the right track would have been a disaster and cost jobs at a critical time."
"The court's decision affirms that NMFS and the Pacific Fishery Management Council carefully considered the impact of the ITQ program on communities and took steps to protect them, including at the expense of efficiency where necessary. In fact, coastal communities and fishing jobs, which were faltering before, are more stable under the new system," said David Jincks of the Midwater Trawlers' Cooperative, which participated as a friend of the court in the lawsuit. "We have seen profits go up and wasteful bycatch go down under ITQ management."
"The environment and the economy both benefit under this program," said Shems Jud, Pacific Region Deputy Director for the Environmental Defense Fund's Oceans program, which joined United Catcher Boats and the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative in support of the government. "For years regulators tried and failed to figure out how to allow catch of targeted species without overfishing vulnerable species as bycatch. Now results from the first year confirm that catch shares have resulted in far less bycatch of overfished species. The court agreed that the NMFS addressed concerns about overconcentration of fishing into too few hands and possible impacts on coastal communities, and we continue to work with communities to ensure they thrive for generations to come.
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West Coast Groundfish IFQ Fishery
Mid-year Catch Report (January-June) 2012: Emerging Trends
The full report can be downloaded below. Here is an excerpt from its opening section.
There have been some notable changes in the IFQ fishery, during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Quota pound transfers have increased considerably, there has been more trawling in shallower waters, diversity of catch has increased, and use of fixed gear has increased. Harvests of petrale sole, chilipepper rockfish, and yellowtail rockfish are up, while those of some traditionally dominant species, including sablefish and dover sole, are down somewhat. However, in total, landings, revenues, and effort are similar to last year’s levels.
Several metrics suggest that early in the second year of trawl rationalization, fishers may know better what to expect, and are more extensively utilizing tools of the IFQ system to plan their fishing year. Quota pound (QP) transfer activity has conspicuously increased. The total pounds transferred vessel-to-vessel is up 25%, while the number of those transfers is currently double its level at the same time last year. Average monthly transfer amounts are also much more uniform (less variable) than last year at this time, suggesting better prior information and measured planning on the part of fishers. Dramatic increases in frequencies of trades of bycatch species like canary, widow, and darkblotched rockfish may indicate a drop in saving or stockpiling of QP for these species, and may reflect increased risk pool activity.
Preliminary data indicate that fishers are trawling shallower on average than last year; coastwide average haul depth has decreased for many species. Shallower fishing behavior, and potentially increased encounters with bycatch species suggest higher confidence, perhaps due in part to increased trading of QP, and sufficient assurance that quota pounds of bycatch species are available if needed. It is also important to note that several small changes to the trawl Rockfish Conservation Area have been made since the beginning of the program in 2011, to allow fishing in some previously closed, shallower areas.
The diversity of landings and revenue distributions among species have increased, compared with the same time last year. Relative proportions of total IFQ, groundfish revenue and landings in the non-whiting fleet have increased for some low-percentage species, and a few high-percentage species have somewhat decreased their portion of the total (e.g. dover sole, sablefish). Some previously under-utilized species (e.g. chilipepper rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, and others) are bringing in a larger portion of the total landings and revenue than at the same time last year.
Use of fixed gear is increasing in the IFQ fishery. According to preliminary data, the proportion of IFQ sablefish landed with fixed gear has increased nine percent over the same time last year, and as a result, revenue from fixed gear, IFQ sablefish has increased by 16 percent. These changes in gear use for sablefish translated in small overall changes to the distributions of landings and revenue among gear types for the entire non-whiting fleet.
Aggregate measures of landings, revenue, effort and catch per unit effort are very similar to the same time last year. Retention rates have not changed appreciably, and show only minor, apparently random fluctuations among species.
The purpose of this report is to summarize and illustrate current catch data and trends for the West Coast Groundfish IFQ Fishery in 2012, and compare them to the same period in the 2011 fishery. This is not meant to be an exhaustive report, but to present an early examination of the data, and divide catch estimates among strata which are of interest to many stakeholders.