NMFS + NOAA
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 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
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.
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.
Proposed Rule to Modify Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Regulations Pertaining to Certified Observers and Catch Monitors in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery
The West Coast Region has published a proposed rule pertaining to permitting requirements for businesses that provide certified observers and catch monitors. This rule would remove the existing regulations requiring vessels to obtain certified observers from permitted providers for the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program, and would establish provider permitting requirements specific to the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery. In addition, regulations specifying certification procedures for catch monitor providers would be converted to permitting procedures. Because some provider businesses in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery provide both observers and catch monitors, a combined permitting process for observer and catch monitor providers would be implemented at 50 CFR § 660.18. In addition, the proposed rule updates observer provider and vessel responsibilities relative to observer safety, and addresses numerous minor administrative changes.
This proposed rule can be found on the West Coast Region's website at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/frn/groundfish_frns.html
NOAA Fisheries is sending out a copy of the 2014 trip limits for groundfish in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries. These trip limits published in the Federal Register on December 3, 2013, and the notice can be found here.
The Public Notice describes the changes to sablefish trip limits for 2014, and illustrates 2014 trip limits for all groundfish species. The Public Notice is available here.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reminds the fishing industry of several changes to the groundfish fishery’s trawl rationalization program, a catch share program, as we approach 2014.
The categories are:
1. Cost Recovery begins January 10, 2014;
2. Quota pound (QP) transfers allowed year
3. Quota share (QS) permit applications and
QS transfers; and
4. Fishing into the new year.
Regulations and compliance guides, along with other useful information, including applications and the 2014 interim IFQ allocations and vessel limits, are posted on the NMFS Trawl Program website.
Cost Recovery begins January 10, 2014
A cost recovery program was implemented for the Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program effective January 10, 2014. The final rule implementing regulations for cost recovery published in the Federal Register on December 11, 2013 (78 FR 75268).
For 2014, the fee percentages by sector are 3.0 % for the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program, 2.4 % for the MS Coop Program, and 1.1 % for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program.
A Compliance Guide for cost recovery is available at the bottom of this page, in PDF form.
NMFS will hold an online cost recovery workshop on January 7, 2014 from 9am to 12pm PST. Attendance is limited, and will be managed on a "first come, first served" basis. If there is sufficient demand, additional workshops will be scheduled. If you would like to attend the cost recovery workshop, please RSVP to Ariel Jacobs, (206) 526-4491, email@example.com.
QP transfers allowed year round
The second program improvement and enhancement rule (PIE 2) of the Pacific Coast groundfish trawl rationalization program made revisions that included removal of the end of year ban on QP transfers between vessel accounts (see 78 FR 68764). This revision was effective December 15, 2013; QP may be transferred between vessel accounts until December 31, 2013. For 2014 and beyond, QP may be transferred between vessel accounts year round.
QS permit applications and QS transfers
QS permit applications will be accepted starting January 1, 2014. Instructions for applying for a QS permit may be found in the PIE 2 Compliance Guide. All PIE 2 publications may be found here.
QS transfer will begin on January 1, 2014 for all species, except widow rockfish. Any transfer of QS is a transfer of % value of QS to another QS permit owner; QPs are transferred separately from a QS account to a vessel account and between vessel accounts. Any transfer of QS must be made through the online QS account. While QS transfers will be registered in the QS account in the current year, NMFS will not allocate QP based on the changed QS amounts until the start of the following year. At that time, QP will be allocated in a manner reflecting any changes to QS amounts. QS transfers will be tracked for compliance with accumulation limits, also called QS control limits.
The QS account system will prevent trades from occurring that would result in exceeding the QS ownership accumulation limits at the QS permit level. However, NMFS is still developing the software that will track the aggregate non-whiting QS ownership accumulation limit and prevent transfers that would result in exceeding that limit. NMFS expects it to be available in early 2014. In the interim, you must certify that you are not exceeding these or any QS control limits. As always, it is ultimately up to the QS owner to be responsible for not exceeding QS control limits either by the individual QS permit or by any ownership or control interest a person has among multiple QS permits.
NMFS has developed a QS calculator tool to help QS permit owners and other interested participants calculate the relative worth of QS in terms of QP, or QP in terms of QS, across years. The calculator is available on the public IFQ website, by clicking on the “Quota Share Calculator” tab.
As always, if you have any questions about the IFQ account system, including questions about QS accounts and QS trading, please contact the Fisheries Permit Office at 206-526-4353 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Fishing into the New Year
If you are planning to fish during the last days of December 2013 and wait to offload until the first days of 2014, the discards and landings will be debited against your 2014 vessel account, even if the discards and target species harvests actually occurred in 2013. The offload date as reported on the electronic fish ticket determines the year in which the vessel account is debited.
NOAA Fisheries has announced the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register that implements cost recovery for the Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program beginning January 10, 2014. NOAA also released a Public Notice that includes further details. Both files are below in PDF.
For 2014, the fee percentages by sector are:
- 3.0 % for the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program,
- 2.4 % for the MS Coop Program
- 1.1 % for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program
Online Workshop for Fishermen
NOAA will hold a cost recovery "How To" Workshop on January 7, 2014, from 9am-Noon Pacific Standard Time. The workshop will be held via GoTo Meeting and will include both a conference call-in line and an online presentation. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.
Attendance is limited, and will be managed on a "first come, first served" basis. If there is sufficient demand, additional workshops will be scheduled. If you would like to attend the cost recovery workshop, please RSVP to Ariel Jacobs, (206) 526-4491, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is excerpted from an email statement we received on October 1st from the NOAA West Coast Groundfish team:
Today NOAA Fisheries Northwest and Southwest regions are formally merged into a single region: the West Coast Region. The integrated region has a new configuration. New Protected Resources and Sustainable Fisheries Divisions will focus on coast-wide program responsibilities, including all of the agency’s authorities under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition, four area offices will focus on protecting and recovering salmon and steelhead and their habitats, as well as other NOAA trust resources, in specific geographic areas.
Will Stelle is the new West Coast Regional Administrator and Barry Thom is the Deputy Regional Administrator. The new region will have a distributed leadership structure with the members of the senior leadership team located across the region. All office locations will remain open in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, and all of the regional employees are continuing to work from their current locations.
The scope of NOAA Fisheries’ work on the West Coast is not changing with this new structure, but the divisional and branch structures are changing to reflect the consolidation. The integration will open the opportunity to pursue closer program coordination across the west coast amongst our important program areas, promoting appropriate levels of programmatic consistency, efficiency and the allocation of available resources to the higher priority challenges. The new structure also allows us to work more efficiently with our domestic and international partners as we manage groundfish fisheries, salmon, halibut, whiting, highly migratory species, such as tunas and sharks, and coastal pelagic species, such as sardines. And our collaboration with the Northwest and Southwest Science Centers will continue to ensure science-based decision making.
We encourage you to check out our new website at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov, to like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NOAAFisheriesWestCoast and to follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NOAAFish_WCRO. You will need to update any webpage bookmarks that go to our old Northwest or Southwest websites.
We are committed to collaborating with all of our partners to improve conservation of our resources and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
October 15, 2013 to October 16, 2013
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will hold a work session for the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy Advisory Committee and Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Technical Advisory Committee (GEM Committees), which is open to the public. The primary purpose of the meeting is to discuss and develop potential alternatives for electronic monitoring (EM) for vessels participating in the West Coast groundfish trawl rationalization program for consideration by the Pacific Council and to develop other recommendations as needed to further the Pacific Council process for considering EM. The meeting will include review of current and developing EM programs for other fisheries, and EM reports to guide discussions and the development of alternatives. A meeting report, including the potential alternatives, will be prepared by Pacific Council staff for consideration by the Pacific Council at its November 2013 meeting in Costa Mesa, California.
The meeting will be held October 15, 2013, from 9 a.m. until the earlier of 5 p.m. or when business for that day has been completed, and on October 16, from 8 a.m. until the earlier of 5 p.m. or when business for that day has been completed.
The meeting will be held at the following location:
Watertown Hotel Seattle
Wallingford and Fremont Rooms
4342 Roosevelt Way NE
Weattle, WA 98105
The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at 503-820-2280, at least five days prior to the meeting date.
Earlier this week, NOAA released a report, titled 'Results from 2012 - The Second Year of Catch Shares.' The four-page report describes a fishery that is seeing a substantial reduction of bycatch; a rebuilding of several overfished species; and steady activity in quota transfers among members of the fleet.
The report also notes the significant amount of work being done among government and industry groups on electronic monitoring initiatives "to achieve the most cost-effective and sustainable approach...."
Download the full report below.