Greenland Turbot (turbot) Issues: In 2011, a turbot workgroup was convened to coordinate with the longliner fishermen to look at a variety of issues. Discussions were ongoing throughout the year to deal with turbot in the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI). A discussion paper was also prepared on the historic use of Greenland turbot in the head and gut (H&G) sector and the freezer longline sector before and after rationalization.
Unobserved Crab Mortality Study: Dr. Pingguo from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology reviewed Dr. Craig Rose’s crab mortality study and worked with Dr. Rose to field test his assumptions on the collection of the recapture of the crab. Dr. Rose submitted a North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) proposal to do some repeat studies of his work. The field work will be in 2012.
Togiak Yellowfin Sole Fishery: John Gauvin worked with Robin Samuelsson with the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) to modify the 2009 Northern Bristol Bay Trawl Area and Togiak agreement to allow 1 or 2 boats to stay an extra week in Togiak and carry temperature devices as a systematic way to review the relationship of temperature on the effect of fishing. The agreement was modified to leave a boat in the Togiak YFS fishery for the 2nd week in June unless halibut bycatch was found to be high or the catch per unit effort (CPUE) was not realistic for the fishery. The device was to be attached to the head rope of a net and collect temperature depth for approximately 3.5 to 4 months.
Stellar Sea Lions: Dr. Andrew Trites from the Marine Marine Mammal Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia presented his study of fishing trends in relation to sea lions trends in the Aleutian Islands at the Alaska Science Symposium. In the study he tested the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conclusion whether the relative intensity of the groundfish fishery in the Central and Western Aleutians, particularly within sea lion habitat, is negatively associated with sea lion population trends. Dr. Trites found there is no pattern and model designed to look at small changes in relation to fishing so he ran 54 models which all showed zero negative correlation between the amount of fish caught and sea lion trends and in some cases there were positive correlations. All 54 models were submitted to NMFS in August as a comment on the sea lion Biop.
Pacific Marine Expo: Lori Swanson and John Gauvin presented at two of the several conferences held at the 2011 Pacific Marine Expo.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Advisory Panel (AP): Lori Swanson, Groundfish Forum’s Executive Director continues her tenure as Vice-Chair on the AP.
Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Workgroup: Industry formed a consortium of industry concerned about halibut PSC. The group contracted with Gerry Merrigan to write a report on the contrasts between the US and Canada ?? and between discards in trawl fisheries and wastage in the longline fisheries using information from the IPHC and Council data and to help put together presentation material for the October Council meeting. The work group asked the Council to arrange a workshop on the halibut model in March/April 2012 and hired 2 modeling experts to work with IPHC staff to review how the IPHC determines biomass and migration for the Council workshop.
Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology (AKCRRAB) Program: The AKCRRAB cultures and hatches red king crab and blue king crab to try to rebuild their populations in the Pribilof Islands. Groundfish Forum members contributed to this program to bridge funding to complete this year’s cycle of experiments at the hatchery.
National Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Workshop: This workshop was held in DC in June to: develop and carry forward a shared understanding of regional coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) and the development of coastal and marine spatial (CMS) plans as described in Executive Order 13547; build greater comprehension and understanding of the value of regional CMSP in the US; identify key challenges, solutions, and collaborative strategies for regional CMSP, including next steps for developing the tools, resources, and guidance materials to implement regional CMSP, and; engage the public/stakeholders in a dedicated session on CMSP as a further opportunity to educate, listen, and connect with the public. Lori Swanson and a member of Groundfish Forum attended on behalf of the Amendment 80 sector to present the message that the new MSP initiative should not supersede the fishery management council system with the secondary message that the Amendment 80 sector is already a case study for marine spatial planning.
Capital Construction Fund (CCF): Groundfish Forum supported the Capital Construction Fund legislation that would allow vessel owners that have a construction fund account or balance in CCF to be able to draw down the funds without penalty.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Nomination: Groundfish Forum’s Executive Director Lori Swanson was nominated to be a candidate for appointment to the Council seat being vacated by Dave Benson.
Amendment 88 to the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Fishery Management Plan (FMP): Amendment 88 is the Central GOA Rockfish Program (Rockfish Program). This amendment implements the GOA Rockfish Program which is necessary to replace the Central GOA Rockfish Pilot Program scheduled to expire December 31, 2011. The Rockfish Program would continue to provide exclusive harvesting and processing privileges for a specific set of rockfish primary species and associated species (secondary species) harvested incidentally to those rockfish in the Central GOA. Groundfish Forum submitted supported the new Rockfish Program with the modifications.
Amendment 83 to the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Fishery Management Plan (FMP): Amendment 83 allocates Western and Central GOA Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) limits among various gear and operational sectors, thereby reducing competition among sectors and supporting stability in the Pacific cod fishery.
Amendment 93 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management (BSAI) Area: This regulation amends the BSAI Amendment 80 Program to allows a cooperative to form with 7 entities and 2 companies, and requires a person with multiple vessels/licenses to put them all into a cooperative or all into limited access. Groundfish Forum supported the threshold change but encouraged language to ensure that all coops operate in a manner that allows the sector to maximize the use of its allocations.
Red King Crab (RKC): In 2011, there were on-going discussions between Groundfish Forum and the crabbers on female RKC that transit the Amak Island area during spawning season. Work continued on refining ideas for what could be changed.
June Dutch Harbor Council Meeting Party: The June Council meeting was held in Dutch Harbor, AK and Groundfish Forum along with other organizations contributed to a Bonfire/BBQ with music.
Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Salmon Bycatch: In 2011, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) begin considering actions to reduce Chinook bycatch in the GOA non-pollock fisheries so Groundfish Forum looked at the Amendment 80 sector’s bycatch levels in the rex sole and rockfish fisheries and members began to talk to their captains about using the salmon excluder in the rockfish fishery.
Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on “NOAA’s Fishery Science: Is the Lack of Basic Science Costing Jobs”: On July 23, John Gauvin testified at the House Subcommittee hearing on National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) science research.
Quota Share Management: Groundfish Forum proposed a discussion paper to North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) staff on the ability to take a portion of Amendment 80 Gulf of Alaska (GOA) yellowfin sole, rock sole and flathead sole and change them into each other as long as the allowable biological catch (ABC) was not exceeded.