Apr 1, 201205:06 PMBlog: Fish Bytes
Sunday council update: Halibut catch sharing plan
Chairman Eric Olson just said that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will take the remainder of public comment on the halibut catch sharing plan today, and take up deliberations first thing Monday morning.
A consensus has emerged among commercial and charter stakeholders around a motion that passed the Council advisory panel by a 20-0 vote.
Charter operators are still protesting the inclusion of the Guided Angler Fish, or GAF, program as a mechanism to move commercial quota to the charter sector as unworkable. However, some sort of compensated reallocation method appears to be a measure the council is committed to including and charter operators don't seem willing to make it a hill to die on given they could receive relief from the management matrix they call too inflexible in times of low abundance.
In any event, the changes recommended by the AP, if adopted by the council, will not be considered logical outgrowths of the proposed rule published last July 22. Most notably the change in replacing the management matrix with the so-called "2012 model." The 2012 model refers to the work of the charter implementation committee that came up with the reverse slot limit in Southeast for this year compared to the IPHC's 37-inch size limit imposed in 2011. Such a change will force a new rule to be written, and published for comment, before moving to a final rule. There is likely no way National Marine Fisheries Service could write a new reg package in time for the catch sharing plan to be implemented in 2013.
Here's the AP motion:
The AP recommends that the Council adopt (1) the unanimous recommendation made to the Council in the March 27, 2012, minutes of the Halibut Charter Management Implementation Committee and replace the management matrix in the CSP in the preferred alternative with the “2012 model” for charter halibut management; and (2) the committee’s unanimous recommendation to adopt the ADF&G logbooks as the primary data collection method for estimating charter harvests under the CSP, with an appropriate adjustment factor applied to the allocations. The AP recommends that the Council work with ADF&G to develop a fair correction factor for switching from the SWHS (statewide harvest survey) to the logbook.
The AP further recommends that the Council adopt revisions to the GAF program as follows:
• Convert GAF average weight calculated annually by managers and the new average weight used as the conversion factor of IFQ pounds to GAF issued as numbers of fish.
• In the first year of the GAF program, GAF weight to number of fish conversion factor based on previous year’s data or most recent year without maximum size limit in effect.
• Define leasing limitation from one IFQ shareholder from 10% or 1,500 pounds, whichever is greater, to 10% or 1,500 pounds in Area 2C and 15% or 1,500 pounds, whichever is greater, in Area 3A.
• Include a requirement for anglers to mark GAF by removing the tips of the upper and lower lobes of the tail and report the length of retained GAF halibut to NMFS through the NMFS approved electronic reporting system.
• A complete review within three years of the start of the GAF program, taking into account the economic effects on both sectors.
The AP further recommends the Council initiate a separate analysis on the ability to purchase IFQ/GAF as soon as possible without delaying implementation of the CSP.
Andrew Jensen can be reached at email@example.com.