2007 Issues, Initiatives & Projects

Advisory Panel: Groundfish Forum Executive Director Lori Swanson continued in her seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Advisory Panel (AP) whose purpose is to advise the Council on fisheries related issues brought before it.

Marine Conservation Alliance (MCA): Groundfish Forum continued its membership in the Marine Conservation Alliance whose main focus in 2007 was the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act. Lori Swanson was Secretary of the MCA in 2007.

Amendment 85: In April 2006, the North Pacific Fishermen Management Council (Council) adopted Amendment 85 to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands area (BSAI) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to revise the Pacific cod allocations of total allowable catch (TAC) among various harvest sectors, to change incidental catch allowances and to remove the groundfish reserve for Pacific cod. In 2007, Amendment 85 was partially approved by the Secretary of Commerce.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification for Flatfish: The Marine Stewardship Council developed an environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. In 2006, Groundfish Forum and other members of the industry who fish for Pacific cod and flatfish in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) hired the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and Moody Marine to begin the process of assessing these fisheries for the pre-assessment phase of the MSC. In 2007, the pre-assessment was completed for flatfish (yellowfin sole, flathead sole, rock sole and arrowtooth flounder). The certification would be for the Best Use Cooperative (BUC) (currently the Alaska Seafood Cooperative) company’s Pacific cod and flatfish products.

5th International Fisheries Observer Conference: Lori Swanson, Groundfish Forum’s Executive Director gave a presentation at the International Fisheries Observer Conference in Victoria, BC on the opportunities and challenges for observer programs in rationalized fisheries. The conference objective was to bring together broad representation from the international fisheries community to address key issues concerning fisheries observer programs, emerging fisheries monitoring technologies, and other approaches for fishery dependent data collection.

Denmark SINTEF Flume Tank Meeting: At the invitation of Dantrawl, one of the main suppliers of nets for the Alaska cod and sole fisheries, about 60 captains, mates, owners and others in the trawl industry met in Hirtshals, Denmark, home to a world class flume tank operated by SINTEF, a Norwegian research institute that hosts scientists and engineers to test net designs, under water video capabilities and other applied research to assist the fishing industry. Lori Swanson gave a presentation at this meeting on pertinent legislation affecting the Pacific Northwest fisheries and the developing political climate.

National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sustainable Fisheries Leadership Awards: Groundfish Forum nominated John Gauvin of Gauvin & Associates, for the Sustainable Fisheries Leadership Award for his work and leadership in the North Pacific fisheries. This award was created to recognize outstanding performance, achievements and leadership by industries, organizations and individuals whose contributions to science and management have served to promote best stewardship practices for the sustained use of the Nation’s living marine resources.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH): At the December 2006 Council meeting, the EFH motion included a directive for industry to meet with western Alaska communities in the vicinity of Etolin Straight to address concerns on the location of the open areas in proximity to the communities. Groundfish Forum initiated a meeting with Coastal Villages and Kuskokwim Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups in Bethel to try to come to agreement on how to manage the area in Etolin Straight.

North Pacific Universities Marine Science Foundation: Groundfish Forum members contributed to the North Pacific Universities Marine Science Foundation which is dedicated to fostering a better understanding of the interaction between marine life and fisheries.  Foundation contributions fund independent research focused on the marine life that may be affected by fisheries and the end result is a comprehensive body of scientific literature on the topic.

Gear Modification: In 2007, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) was to implement gear modification but the H&G sector requested, and was granted a 1 year delay for implementation to allow for further gear testing.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC): In an effort to find economic ways to make their participation with industry desirable for the industry, the TNC held a discussion panel in 2007 on what it could do under Amendment 80 to influence how the fleet operated. Specifically, the TNC was considering if it could, under Amendment 80 vessel replacement, be involved as financiers with contingencies on how the vessels were to operate or be equipped. The TNC set aside $35,000 for the discussion panel which included John Gauvin as a Panel Member and Lori Swanson as an Advisor.

National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had a regulation in place that exempted vessels from needing a permit to discharge into US waters, if the discharges occurred in the normal course of operation. Environmental groups sued the EPA to force them to regulate ballast water discharges from large commercial vessels. The court struck down the EPA’s exemption as illegal and ordered it to require all vessels to receive a National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which meant the EPA would have to issue permits to over 14 million vessels. Groundfish Forum along with other industry associations submitted comments on the burdensome nature this regulation would have on small businesses.

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