Final action set for BSAI P-cod trawl catcher plan

Final action on a Bering Sea/Aleutian Island Pacific cod trawl catcher vessel plan that may including quota share allocations to harvesters and processors is on the agenda for the fall meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

During its virtual June meeting, the council recommended that the analysis for the limited access privilege program be released for final action at the October meeting, which is tentatively scheduled to be a hybrid session, held both in person in Anchorage and via web conferencing. With the continuing rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and the delta variant of the virus in particular, plans remain in flux.

The proposed program for the trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI considers options that include allocations of quota shares to groundfish LLP, or license limitation program, licenses based on the harvest of targeted Pacific cod during qualifying years, plus harvest shares to processors, based on their processing history during qualifying years.  Harvesters and processors would then be allowed to assign that quota share to cooperatives on an annual basis as an exclusive harvest privilege allocation.

Council staff said their goal is to improve the prosecution of the fishery by promoting safety and stability in the harvesting and processing sectors. They also hope to boost the value of the fishery, minimize bycatch to the extent practicable, provide for sustained participation of fisher-dependent communities, and ensure sustainability and viability of the resource.

The current plan is for the Advisory Panel and the Scientific and Statistical Committee to meet entirely via web conference, while the council meets via web conference on Oct 6 and tentatively in person from Oct. 10-15 at the Egan Center in Anchorage.  The council has already posted online the e-agenda and schedule of all items up for discussion, and a list of when documents are available, and more detailed information is also available online at www.npfmc.org/upcoming-council-meetings/.

The comment period opens on Sept. 17 and the deadline for written comment is 5 p.m. Alaska time on Sept. 29.  All comments will be reviewed, then posted publicly after the deadline.

Remote testimony is an option if the council is able to meet in person.