Legislative Buyback Bill: Groundfish Forum was directly involved with drafting an omnibus bill that was passed in 2004 for the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) non-pollock groundfish catcher processor sector, which outlined a fishing capacity reduction program and included sector definitions and provided authority to form multi-sector cooperatives.
Bycatch Teleconferences: Groundfish Forum continued to hold bi-weekly teleconferences with members of the head & gut (H&G) sector, which helped vessels control their prohibited species catch (PSC) to the point that virtually all flatfish fisheries closed on their Total Allowable Catch (TAC) rather than an overrun on PSC allowance for the fishery.
Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IR/IU): Groundfish Forum continued to work with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) to refine alternatives in proposed Amendment 80 to the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Fisheries Management Plan (FMP), while focusing on reasonable solutions.
Pribiloff Island Collaborative (PIC): Groundfish Forum participated in the PIC addressing concerns by the local communities and environmentalists about the halibut, crab and fur seal decline around the islands.
Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Pilot Program: Groundfish Forum continued to work with Alaska Groundfish Databank (AGDB) to develop and present to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) a draft proposal for the program, which was used as a template for further development. Groundfish Forum worked closely with all the head and gut sector (H&G) participants to develop sideboards that protected everyone without crippling anyone.
Skipper’s Meeting: Groundfish Forum held its annual Skipper’s Meeting prior to the fishing season in which skippers from the head and gut (H&G) industry discussed issues related to the past fishing season, as well as issues for the upcoming year.
Essential Fish Habitat/Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH/HAPC): In 2004, Groundfish Forum, along with other fishing groups in the Aleutian Islands (AI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA), submitted several HAPC proposals to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) to address habitat protections and which delineated small areas of known coral and rockfish abundance that were non-trawlable. The Council ultimately decided it wanted to adopt more sweeping protections for coral stands than the HAPC proposals, so Groundfish Forum, along with fishermen who depend on the Aleutian Chain, developed an open areas approach, using log book and Geographic Positioning System (GPS) trawl data from fishermen’s plotters. Groundfish Forum received and verified the fishermen’s confidential trawl track and logbook data, which included areas where bottom fishing had occurred from the mid 1980’s, and delineated the areas on charts.The Council ultimately accepted this open areas proposal in lieu of other proposals and it is expected to go into effect in 2006 or 2007.
Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Rationalization: GOA Rationalization is an on-going process and in 2004, Groundfish Forum continued to be involved in North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and industry deliberations and to meet with State of Alaska personnel to craft options for the catcher processor sector.
Observer Advisory Committee (OAC): Groundfish Forum continued to participate in the Observer Advisory Committee meetings to develop a restructured system for observer funding.
Non-Target Species Committee: Groundfish Forum participated on the Non-Target Species Committee for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), which focused on developing better management for non-target species to provide sufficient protection to the stocks, while still allowing fisheries to operate efficiently.