NMFS + NOAA
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.
* * *
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.
July 19, 2012
Today, NOAA officials briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill and released the official report on the first year of the groundfish catch share program.
From the Introduction:
While the results presented in this report reflect only one year of data, a picture is emerging that is indeed positive for the groundfish resource, the fishermen, and their communities.
Download the 16-page report in the PDF below.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announces adjustments to quota share accounts for Pacific whiting in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program; adjustments to vessel accounts for surplus carryover in the Shorebased IFQ Program; and allocation of Pacific whiting for the Mothership and Catcher/Processor Coop Programs.
See the attached public notice for details. If you have questions, please call 206-526-6140.
The National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center announces that the 2011 Economic Data Collection (EDC) forms are now available on the web:www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/edc and are currently being mailed to participants in the trawl rationalization program. The forms are due on September 1, 2012. See the attached public notice for details. For further information, please contact Erin Steiner email@example.com or at 866-791-3726.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the commercial limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery’s tier limits for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery off Washington, Oregon, and California. These tier limits were previously published in the Federal Register on December 13, 2011 (76 FR 77415). Please see the NMFS Public Notice NMFS-SEA-12-03 for all the details.
For more information, please contact NMFS Northwest Region at 206-526-6140 or visit their Groundfish Fishery Management webpage.
On December 1st, NMFS announced the launch of new account balances pages on the IFQ Groundfish website. Tabs at that site now open up new pages that provide Quota Share Account Balances and Vessel Account Balances.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announces the first bilateral meeting of the Pacific Whiting Joint Technical Committee (JTC) to begin implementation of the Whiting Treaty will be held in Seattle on Monday and Tuesday, November 28-29, 2011. Meeting details are in the PDF below.