Regulations at 50 CFR 660.131(h) provide for the reapportionment of Pacific whiting tribal allocations that the Regional Administrator determines will not be used by the end of the fishing year.
NMFS took action on September 16, 2020, to reapportion 40,000 mt of Pacific whiting. Such reapportionments were disbursed to the other Pacific whiting fishery sectors in the same proportion as each sector's allotted portion of the fishery harvest guideline specified in the regulations. All non-tribal commercial sectors had expressed an interest in this potential for additional 2020 harvest of Pacific whiting.
The best available information in early September 2020 indicated that at least 40,000 metric tons (mt) of the tribal allocation of 74,342 mt for the 2020 tribal Pacific whiting fishery would not be used by December 31, 2020. Reapportioning this amount to the non-tribal fishery is expected to allow for greater attainment of the Total Allowable Catch. In addition, conversations between the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and tribal fishery managers indicated that reapportioning 40,000 mt, leaving a tribal allocation of 34,342 mt, would not limit tribal harvest opportunities for the remainder of the year.
As required under the 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) biological opinion on the effects of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan on listed salmonids, NMFS considered the number and bycatch rate of Chinook salmon taken by the Pacific whiting fishery sectors. Based on the best available information in early September 2020, NMFS determined there was little risk that the reapportionment would cause the Pacific whiting sector fisheries to exceed the guideline limit of 11,000 Chinook salmon under current regulations and practices. At the time of this reapportionment, incidental take of Chinook salmon by the non-tribal sector was 16% of the guideline limit. NMFS continues to monitor Chinook salmon bycatch as part of inseason management.
Effective 1200 Noon, local time, on September 16, 2020, 40,000 mt of Pacific whiting were reallocated from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal commercial Pacific whiting fishery. The revised Pacific whiting allocations by sector for 2020 are listed below:
- Tribal: 34,342 mt
- Catcher/processor: 132,249 mt
- Mothership: 93,352 mt
- Shorebased: 163,367 mt