The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is revising the 2021 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries, effective 12 noon, Alaska local time, January 1, 2021, according to James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS.
NMFS is decreasing the 2021 Bering Sea pollock TAC from 1,450,000 metric tons (mt) to 1,375,000 mt, increasing the 2021 Atka mackerel TAC from 53,635 mt to 62,257 mt, increasing the 2021 Bering Sea Pacific cod TAC from 92,633 mt to 111,830 mt, and the 2021 Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC remains 13,796 mt. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined that the current 2021 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Bering Sea Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. The TACs currently specified for 2021 are different than the associated TACs derived from the latest stock assessment information.
The 2021 TACs are scheduled to be updated in late February 2021, based on the latest stock assessments. However, the BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries are likely to harvest the entire A season apportionments before the updated harvest specifications are effective. For 2021, NMFS must therefore decrease the BSAI pollock, increase the Atka mackerel, increase the Bering Sea Pacific cod, and not change the Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TACs, as well as associated seasonal apportionments for both species, prior to the updated harvest specifications. The Steller sea lion protection measures at 50 CFR 679.20 require the seasonal apportionment of the annual TAC to reduce the potential for competition for prey species between Steller sea lions and the pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries. The seasonal apportionment is necessary to prevent the likelihood of the groundfish fisheries causing jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions.
This information bulletin only provides notice of a fishery management action. For the purposes of complying with any requirements of this action, you are advised to see the actual text of the action in the Federal Register.