Shorebased IFQ Sector Balances Update

2011 Species Quota Pounds, Catch-to-Date and Quota Pounds Remaining can be found at this page. Note: This data-set is not up-to-date for halibut, and discards have not yet been uploaded.

NOAA/NMFS Information and Resources

If you have questions for NMFS about the implementation of catch shares, call 206-526-4353.

For web-based information, here are links to pertinent areas within the NMFS website:

Main Website: Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Catch Share Program

Catch share program informational documents page

Click on the informational documents link to obtain fact sheets that cover:

  • Important dates for permits, endorsements and licenses
  • Trawl Catch Share Program Mandatory Economic Data Collection FAQs
  • Observer Program FAQs
  • Individual Fishing Quota First Receivers
  • Catch Monitor Providers for First Receivers

West Coast Trawl IFQ Fishermen Face Severe Challenges

The following letter appears in the December 2014 issue of Fishermen's News.


In October’s issue of Fishermen’s News, Will Stelle, Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, noted the significant conservation gains seen since the trawl IFQ program went into effect. He rightly credited fishermen, the Pacific Fishery Management Council and other fishery stakeholders for creating and implementing a fishery management system that has led to major recent announcements from the Marine Stewardship Council and the Seafood Watch Program about the sustainability of trawl-caught species. One of those “other fishery stakeholders” is my employer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which has worked alongside West Coast fishermen for years.

The Note from NOAA column (Something Good is Happening on the Water, October 2014) also described how fewer fishing trips are yielding higher revenues, along with dramatically reduced bycatch. At first glance, this all sounds positive. Under catch shares we are seeing fewer trips, with larger deliveries and higher revenues. As every fisherman and every business owner understands, however, higher revenues don’t increase the bottom line – net income – unless you also keep costs under control. When operating costs increase along with or faster than revenue, you’re either treading water or slowly going down.

While that Note from NOAA was on newsstands, my EDF colleagues and I were at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Spokane, listening as one trawl industry leader after another spoke of razor-thin profits, burdensome reporting requirements, ongoing struggles to schedule expensive observers, and additional looming costs with the potential to sink the non-whiting fleet. All against the backdrop of Council and agency processes that move far slower than the seasons fishermen live by.

It was clear at that meeting that satisfaction with management of this fishery is at a dangerously low ebb. Consider what West Coast trawlers from Bellingham to Morro Bay are dealing with as they try to generate profits.

  •  Buyback loan payments: Five percent off the top for their share of payments on a restructured permit and vessel buyback loan with approximately $26 million still outstanding – nearly as much as when the loan was implemented in 2003.
  • Agency cost recovery: Three percent off the top for the mandated cost-recovery fee levied on fishermen to pay for management of the IFQ program.
  • Observer cost and logistics: Mandatory but difficult-to-schedule observers, with day rates of $465, and a likelihood of that rate climbing significantly from there.

Management of any complex, multi-species trawl fishery is extremely tough, and NOAA has a lot to be proud of. This fishery, as demonstrated already by that MSC label, truly has the potential to serve as an international model. But only if – and this is the big if – fishermen can sustain themselves economically. Whether or not they will is very much an open question.  

True sustainability for the West Coast groundfish industry won’t be measured by revenue numbers; it will be achieved through responsive regulatory processes, flexible management practices, and profitable deliveries.


Shems Jud is Pacific Oceans Progam Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). He serves on the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Advisroy Subpanel, and works with industry leaders and regulators coast-wide to strengthen fishery management practices.

November Council Meeting Information

The Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies will meet November 12-19, 2014 in Costa Mesa, California to address issues related to coastal pelagic species, groundfish, Pacific halibut, salmon, highly migratory species management, and habitat matters.

Here is all the information you need regarding the agenda, location, submitting comments and streaming the meeting.

Agenda and Meeting Notice

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

  • Adopt final preferred alternatives for bluefin tuna management measures for 2015-2016 fisheries;
  • Adopt a final preferred alternative for the Pacific sardine harvest fraction parameter;
  • Adopt final changes to the 2015 Pacific halibut catch sharing plan and annual fishery regulations;
  • Adopt final recommendations for any changes to the lower Columbia River natural coho harvest matrix;
  • Take final action to rescind or revise previous Council action of open access registration under groundfish plan Amendment 22;
  • Adopt recommendations for adjustments to 2014 and 2015 groundfish fisheries.
  • Adopt final changes to salmon methodologies or conservation objectives, and the 2015 preseason management schedule;
  • Download a PDF copy of the November 2014 Meeting Notice and Agenda

Please refer to the detailed proposed agenda for a complete list of issues to be addressed.  A schedule of advisory group meetings is provided on the last page.  Copies of briefing materials prepared for the meeting can be found at www.pcouncil.org the week of October 29.

Meeting Locations and Arrangements

Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa
3050 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: 714-540-7000

Public Comment Guidelines

The public is encouraged to comment, either verbally at the meeting or in writing.  Timing of agenda items may change as the meeting progresses, and items not completed on the scheduled day will be carried over to later in the meeting, usually the next day.

Oral public comments will be accepted during the meeting prior to action on each agenda item.

Written public comments are accepted by the Council via one of the methods described below.  The public is encouraged to submit written comments as far in advance of the meeting as possible, either by mail, fax, of email addressed to pfmc.comments@noaa.gov.  Electronic copies of written testimony is encouraged.

  • Comments received by 11:59 p.m. October 20, 2014 will be included in the briefing books mailed to Council members prior to the meeting.
  • Comments received after October 20 but by 11:59 p.m. November 5, 2014 will be distributed to Council members at the onset of the meeting.
  • If you cannot meet this latter deadline and are going to testify at the meeting, you can provide written testimony for distribution by one of the following methods at the meeting.  However, please note these need to be provided to Council staff at the meeting well in advance of your testimony.
    • Provide an electronic copy to be posted with other briefing materials, or
    • Provide 40 photocopies with the Agenda Item Topic Number in the upper right corner of the front page of each copy.  Refer to the attached agenda for the topic numbers; i.e., Agenda Item B.1 refers to public comment under Open Comment Period.

This meeting is open to the public and is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Carolyn Porter at 503-820-2280 or 866-806-7204 at least five days prior to the meeting date. 

Live Stream Available

The broadcasts begin at 2 p.m. Pacific Time (PT) Friday, November 14, 2014-Wednesday, November 19, 2014.  Broadcasts end daily at 6:00 p.m. PT or when business for the day is complete.  Only the audio portion and presentations displayed on the screen at the Council meeting will be broadcast.  The audio portion is listen-only; you will be unable to speak to the Council via the broadcast.

To access the meeting online go to http://www.joinwebinar.com and enter the November Webinar ID, 430-417-591 and your email address.  The online attendance can be done using a computer, tablet, or smart phone, using the GoToMeeting application.  It is recommended that you use a computer headset to listen to the meeting, but you may use your telephone for the audio portion only of the meeting.  The audio portion may be attended using a telephone by dialing the toll number 1-646-307-1719; phone audio access code 536-452-326 (not a toll-free number).

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.




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