Rifts Repaired Between Canada and the U.S. at the International Pacific Halibut Meeting
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - February 4, 2019
In an eleventh-hour breakthrough in negotiations, Canadian and American commissioners found common ground on two contentious issues last Friday -- bycatch and apportionment -- while adopting catch limits that split the difference between the two advisory bodies.
With persistently stable populations at low levels, the coastwide stock has yet to show significant signs of recruitment, or younger year classes coming into the commercial fishery. Those two dynamics: stable but relatively low stock size and little sign of recruitment, make even a one or two percent difference in quota impact both the sustainability of the resource and the economic sustainability of certain coastal areas.
U.S. Commissioner Chris Oliver, who is also the Assistant Administrator of NOAA Fisheries, told the gathering the commissioners had agreed to an F47 SPR (spawning potential ratio) which is an indication of the intensity of fishing pressure on the resource. A higher F number means a lower catch limit.
“An F47 SPR is slightly more conservative than F46,” Oliver said as he made the motion everyone had been waiting for all week. F46 is the fishing intensity level adopted last year.
“There is a little bit greater uncertainly in the stock dynamics this year, so a slightly more precautionary approach is warranted,” Oliver said. He noted the small level of young fish from the year class 2011 and 2012 that showed up in the IPHC survey last summer. That appearance is only one data point now, not reliable enough to count on. However, if they continue to show up in 2019, 2020 and beyond, the scientists would have more certainty of recruitment size and age.
Regarding the portion of quota agreed to for Canada, Oliver said, “For 2B, we’re using a share based calculation that will put 70% emphasis on historical share and 30% on SPR value, for the three years, beginning in January 2020. For this year, Area 2B will get a 17.7% share.”
Over the years, the Canadian and U.S. commissioners have struggled with how to bridge the gap between the 20% of the coastwide total Canada received prior to a coastwide assessment and the 12.3% of the geographic coastwide range. Canada has never recognized ‘apportionment’ -- a word rarely used any more -- and has accommodated for that by routinely taking higher catch limits.
Discussion have ranged from applying a 50:50 or equal emphasis to the B.C. number or heavily weighting one or the other. This agreement answers the question for the next four years.
IPHC’s two advisory bodies, one representing fishermen and one representing processors, recommented total catch limits that were less than 2 million pounds apart.
In the end, the Commissioners agreed to a coastwide total mortality of 38.61 million pounds of halibut, just below last year’s take of 38.7mlbs. The Total Constant Exploitable Yield or TCEY (all removals: commercial, recreational, wastage, etc.) by regulatory area for 2019 are listed below in millions of pounds.
38.61 Total TCEY
The Fishery CEY catch limits (in million pounds) are:
29.43 Total FCEY
These numbers pose little risk to the resource falling to trigger reference points, but they do pose a greater chance of next year’s quota being lower, and 2021’s lower still if nothing changes.
The Conference Board, the fishermen’s advisory group, recommended 39.6 million pounds of TCEY for 2019, and the Processor’s Advisory Board recommended 37.63 million pounds. Most of the Commissioners agreed total catch limits should drop this year.
The Commission and the advisory bodies also agreed that an exception should be made for Area 2A. Washington state’s treaty tribes, with support from the state and others, proposed a minimum FCEY in that area of 1.5 milion. The IPHC granted that, albiet for an interim, three-year basis.
Another big hurdle in the impasse last year, besides the portion of the halibut that goes to Canada, was accounting for all sizes of halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea.
On Friday, the Commission recommended that staff evaluate and redefine TCEY to include the under-26-inch (U26) halibut that make up part of discard mortalities, including bycatch. The intent is for each country to be responsible for counting its U26 mortalities against its collective TCEY.
The change would, for the first time, include fish that are too small to be caught in the IPHC’s setline survey or for that matter on a commercial hook. They are caught in trawls, however, and currently accounted for by weight based in large part on observer data.
But inclusion of U26 mortalities in bycatch will not further reduce the amount of halibut available for the directed halibut fleet in the Bering Sea to catch, since it is sublegal and not targeted by halibut fishermen.
IPHC News Release 2019-004 International Pacific Halibut Commission Completes 95th Annual Meeting
International Pacific Halibut Commission - February 1, 2019
COMPLETES 95TH ANNUAL MEETING
The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) completed its 95th Annual Meeting (AM095) in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on 1 February 2019. A total of 198 Pacific halibut stakeholders attended the meeting, with over 142 more participating in web broadcasts of the meeting. Meeting information, documents, and presentations are available on the meeting page at the IPHC website (https://iphc.int/venues/details/95th-session-of-the-iphc-annual-meeting-am095).
Anchorage Hatchery Looks to Boost Low King Forecasts
A hatchery at Ship Creek in Anchorage has had to look elsewhere for king salmon eggs this year to make up for expected shortages.
US News & World Report by Associated Press - February 3, 2019
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A hatchery at Ship Creek in Anchorage has had to look elsewhere for king salmon eggs to make up for expected shortages.
Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Brand Makes Big Splash in 2018
Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Regional Development Association - January 28, 2019
Sitka, Alaska. January 28, 2019 - The Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon run not only set a record in 2018, but the brand also made a big splash at retailers across the country. The branding program was developed by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association in 2016 in Boulder, Colorado before being launched nationwide in 2017. The brand continues to grow as more and more retailers across the country tell their customers the story of where their fish comes from, promoting in over 1,000 stores in 2018.
The Feeding Frenzy That Got Sea Lions Into Deep Trouble
When the hungry animals started swimming 100 miles upriver to feast on salmon, humans decided that they had to be killed.
The Atlantic by Sarah Zhang - January 31, 2019
Let us first establish that sea lions are supposed to live in the sea.
Since the 1990s, however, male sea lions—a handful at first, now dozens—have been captivated by the attractions of the Willamette River. They travel all the way from Southern California to Oregon and then swim up 100 miles of river to arrive at an expansive waterfall, the largest in the region. Here, salmon returning to spawn have to make an exhausting journey up the fish ladders of the Willamette Falls. And here, the sea lions have found a veritable feast.
BOF takes up finfish issues in February in Anchorage
Cordova Times - February 3, 2019
Thirty-three proposals related to Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and Aleutian Islands finfish issues will be on the agenda when the Alaska Board of Fisheries meets Feb. 21-26 in Anchorage.
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