The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is revising the 2024 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries, effective 0001 hours, Alaska local time, January 1, 2024, according to Jonathan M. Kurland, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS.
NMFS is decreasing the 2024 Bering Sea pollock TAC from 1,302,000 metric tons (mt) to 1,300,000 mt, increasing the 2024 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC from 66,855 mt to 72,987 mt, increasing the 2024 Bering Sea Pacific cod TAC from 123,295 mt to 147,753 mt, and decreasing the 2024 Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC from 8,425 mt to 8,080 mt. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined that the current 2024 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. The TACs currently specified for 2024 are different than the associated TACs derived from the latest stock assessment information.
The 2024 TACs are scheduled to be updated in late February 2024, 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 2024, NMFS must therefore decrease the BSAI pollock, increase the Atka mackerel, increase the Bering Sea Pacific cod, and decrease 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.