2005 Issues, Initiatives & Projects

Skipper’s Meeting: Groundfish Forum held its annual Skipper’s Meeting before the start of the 2005 season, inviting captains from the Head and Gut (H&G) fleet to discuss gear issues, bycatch issues, and address problems or concerns from the previous year, as well as plans for the 2005 fisheries.

Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IRIU) or Amendment 80: Dorothy Lowman, Natural Resource Consultant was hired to facilitate a cohesive position between the Head and Gut (H&G) fleet on Amendment 80 (IR/IU) issues. Groundfish Forum continued working with the H&G fleet, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other industry participants on Amendment 80, to provide specific groundfish allocations to the Non-AFA Trawl Catcher Processor sector and allow the formation of cooperatives. These allocations and cooperatives would allow participants to focus less on harvest maximization and more on optimizing harvest, thus allowing the reduction of incidental catch and improve retention and utilization.

Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Pacific Cod (Pcod) Allocations or Amendment 85: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) began work on Amendment 85 in 2005 which proposed to revise sector allocations of the BSAI Pcod Interim Total Allowable Catch (ITAC) among the various fixed gear, trawl gear and jig gear sectors. The action also proposed to further apportion the trawl vessel sector allocations between those vessels that are eligible under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) and those that are not. Groundfish Forum along with other industry participants helped construct, shape and refine alternatives within this amendment.

Advisory Panel (AP) Appointment: Groundfish Forum’s Lori Swanson was appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Advisory Panel (AP) in 2005.

Pribilof Island Collaborative (PIC): Lori Swanson participated in the PIC which focused on issues addressing fur seal decline, habitat issues, and halibut and crab decline around the islands in 2005.

Bycatch Teleconferences: Groundfish Forum continued to hold bi-weekly, or as needed bycatch teleconferences throughout the year with members of the Head & Gut (H&G) sector, as well as other participants of the yellowfin sole and cod fisheries. These teleconferences helped the vessels control their prohibited species catch (PSC) so they could fish as much of their target species as possible.

Non-Target Species Committee: Lori Swanson was a member of the Non-Target Species Committee for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), which develops recommendations for improving the management of all non-target species.

Essential Fish Habitat/Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH/HAPC): In 2005, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) took significant action to conserve essential fish habitat (EFH) from potential adverse effects of fishing. To address concerns about the impacts of bottom trawling on benthic habitat (particularly on coral communities) in the Aleutian Islands (AI), the Council took action to prohibit all bottom trawling, except in small discrete ‘open’ areas. Over 95% of the Aleutian Islands management area was closed to bottom trawling (277,100 nm2) and about 4% (12,423 nm2) remains open. Additionally, six areas with especially high density coral and sponge habitat will be closed to all bottom contact fishing gear (longlines, pots, trawls, etc.). These ‘coral garden’ areas, which total 110 nm2, are thus essentially considered marine reserves. Groundfish Forum was directly involved in shaping this policy.

GOA Rockfish Pilot Program: In Section 802 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004, Congress included a directive to the Secretary of Commerce to establish, in consultation with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), a pilot program for management of three rockfish fisheries in the Central Gulf of Alaska (the CGOA rockfish fisheries). The demonstration program is designed as a short-term, two-year program for immediate economic relief until comprehensive GOA rationalization can be implemented. Groundfish Forum worked closely with other industry players and the Council to create a meaningful program. The program was passed in 2005.

Minumum Groundfish Retention Standard (GRS) or Amendment 79: The action proposes to implement groundfish retention standards for head and gut (H&G) trawl catcher processors (CPs) operating in the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) that are not listed in the American Fisheries Act (AFA). The purpose of the GRS is to create a retention standard for groundfish in the BSAI that would minimize discards, while maintaining a viable multi-species trawl fishery. Groundfish Forum participated in every step of this amendment process to develop a package that achieves conservation goals and reduces bycatch while maintaining an economic fishery.

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