Inseason Adjustments to Big Skate, Sablefish, and Lingcod Trip Limits

February 02, 2018

Public Notice: NMFS-SEA-18-05. For information, contact: Karen Palmigiano, (206) 526-4491. Revised April 23, 2018.

Increases to big skate trip limits for the Shorebased IFQ Program; decreases to sablefish trip limits for limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 36° North Latitude; increases to lingcod trip limits for limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 40°10’ North Latitude; and information on commercial limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery limits

NOAA Fisheries announces changes to commercial fishery trip limits for limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) and open access (OA) fisheries and provides a summary of information for participants in the commercial LEFG sablefish primary fishery for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery off Washington, Oregon, and California. Copies of trip limit tables can be found at the end of this notice.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended these inseason changes to trip limits at its November 2017 meeting. Changes described in this public notice will be effective February 2, 2018, and will publish in the Federal Register on February 2, 2018.

Access the inseason notice in the Federal Register.

Commercial Fishery Trip Limits

Big Skate Trip Limits for the Shorebased IFQ Program

In order to maximize the opportunity for vessels and increase attainment of big skate in 2018, the Council recommended and NOAA Fisheries is implementing, by modifying Tables 1 (North and South) to part 660, subpart D, the following trip limits for big skate in the IFQ program:

  • January-February: 5,000 lbs/2 months
  • March-April: 30,000 lbs/2 months
  • May-June: 35,000 lbs/2 months
  • July-August: 40,000 lbs/2 months
  • September-October: 15,000 lbs/2 months
  • November-December: 5,000 lbs/2 months

These increased trip limits are expected to increase projected attainment of the big skate IFQ allocation to 98 percent in 2018.

LEFG and OA Sablefish Daily Trip Limit (DTL) Fisheries North of 36° N. lat.

To ensure harvest remains below the sablefish ACL, the Council elected to follow a precautionary approach at the outset of 2018, by recommending decreases to sablefish trip limits in LEFG and OA sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. for all periods in 2018. With a precautionary approach in earlier periods in the year, trip limits may be increased throughout the year if attainment is projected to remain under the ACL. Trip limits for the LEFG sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. are designated at Tables 2 (North and South) to part 660, subpart E. Trip limits for the OA sablefish DTL fishery north of 36° N are designated at Tables 3 (North and South) to part 660, subpart F.

The Council initially recommended a change to sablefish trip limits for all periods for the LEFG fishery. However, because NOAA Fisheries cannot decrease trip limits in the middle of a trip limit period, NOAA Fisheries is implementing, by modifying Tables 2 (North and South) to part 660, subpart E, trip limit changes for the LEFG sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. for periods 2 through 6 only (March-December). The trip limit for these periods (2-6) is: 1,100 lbs per week, not to exceed 3,300 lbs/2 months. Trip limits for LEFG sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. for the first period (January-February) will remain as status quo.

The Council also recommended a change to sablefish trip limits for all periods for the OA fishery. However, because NOAA Fisheries cannot decrease trip limits in the middle of a trip limit period, NOAA Fisheries is implementing, by modifying Tables 3 (North and South) to part 660, subpart F, trip limits for sablefish in the OA sablefish DTL fishery north of 36° N. lat. for periods 2 through 6 only (March-December). The trip limit for these periods (2-6) is: 300 lbs/day, or 1 landing per week up to 1,000 lbs, not to exceed 2,000 lbs/2 months. Trip limits for OA sablefish DTL fisheries north of 36° N. lat. for period 1 will remain as status quo.

Under these revised, lower limits, the Groundfish Management Team (GMT) projects attainment in the LEFG between 75.1 and 102 percent, down from the status quo trip limit attainment between 95.2 and 125.2 percent. OA is predicted to be within 74.2 to 92.7 percent under revised trip limits, down from 78.8 to 98.5 percent under status quo.

LEFG and OA Lingcod Fisheries North of 40° 10 ' N. lat.

The primary objective of trip limits for lingcod has been to maximize opportunity while staying within the biological confines of overfished species limits, such as yelloweye rockfish. Due to updated discard mortality rates in the nearshore model, the GMT determined that the projected non-trawl yelloweye rockfish impacts associated with the higher lingcod trip limits would be below what was analyzed in the 2017–18 harvest specifications and management measures.

Therefore, the Council recommended and NOAA Fisheries is implementing, by modifying Table 2 (North) to part 660, subpart E, the following trip limits for lingcod for the LEFG fishery north of 40° 10 ' N. latitude: January-April, 600 lbs/2 months; May-October, 1,400 lbs/2 months; November, 700 lbs; and for December, 400 lbs. The Council also recommended and NOAA Fisheries is implementing, by modifying Table 3 (North) to part 660, subpart F, the following trip limits for lingcod for the OA fishery north of 40° 10' N. latitude: January-April, 300 lbs per month; May-November, 700 lbs per month; and for December, 300 lbs per month.

These increased trip limits will provide increased fishing opportunity specifically for wintertime access, and also will provide a steady flow of fish to markets, while still being conservative regarding yelloweye rockfish impacts.

Commercial LEFG Sablefish Primary Fishery

Below is a summary of information on the LEFG sablefish primary fishery north of 36° N. lat. and answers to frequently asked questions. More detailed information on the sablefish primary fishery can be found in the compliance guides for the e-tickets and other measures revised by NOAA Fisheries in December 2016.

Additionally, some of this information was provided in a previous public notice on February 9, 2017 (NMFS-SEA-17-05) and is unchanged. For more detailed regulations applying to the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery, see § 660.231 of the Pacific Coast groundfish regulations.

What are the 2018 Tier Limits?

These tier limits published in the Federal Register on February 7, 2017 (82 FR 9634). The sablefish primary fishery tier limits (in round weight) for the 2018 season are as follows:

  • Tier 1 = 47,050 lb
  • Tier 2 = 21,386 lb
  • Tier 3 = 12,221 lb

How do I convert to dressed weight?

Tier limits are in round weight. For dressed weight, divide the round weight amount by 1.6 (e.g., for 2018: 47,050 lb/1.6 = 29,406 lb; 21,386 lb/1.6 = 13,366 lb; 12,221/1.6 = 7,638 lb).

Where?

The sablefish primary fishery occurs north of 36° N. lat.

When does the season begin?

12:00pm (noon) local time on April 1. Prior to noon on April 1, the primary fishery is CLOSED. Therefore, fishing on annual primary sablefish tier limits may not begin until noon on April 1. In other words, gear cannot be pre-soaking before the fishery opens.

When does the season close?

Closes for all vessels at 12 noon local time on October 31, -OR- closes for an individual vessel owner when the tier limit for the sablefish endorsed permit(s) registered to the vessel has been reached whichever is earlier. The Regional Administrator, also has the authority, through the routine management measures process described at §660.60(c), to close the fishery.

What gear can I use?

Vessels participating in the sablefish primary fishery may use any of the gear types, except trawl gear, endorsed on at least one of the sablefish-endorsed permits registered for use with that vessel.

Can I retain incidentally caught Pacific halibut?

During the primary season, vessels licensed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and fishing with longline gear north of Pt Chehalis, WA, may possess and land up to 160 pounds (64 kg) dressed weight of Pacific halibut for every 1,000 pounds (454 kg) dressed weight of sablefish landed and up to 2 additional Pacific halibut in excess of the 160-pounds-per-1,000-pound ratio per landing. “Dressed” Pacific halibut in this area means halibut landed eviscerated with their heads on. Pacific halibut taken and retained in the sablefish primary fishery north of Pt. Chehalis may only be landed north of Pt. Chehalis and may not be possessed or landed south of Pt. Chehalis.

What is my Tier limit?

A vessel participating in the primary season will be constrained by the sablefish cumulative limit(s), also referred to as tier limits (See Question 1), associated with each of the permits registered for use with that vessel. During the primary season, each vessel authorized to participate in that season may take, retain, possess, and land sablefish, up to the tier limit for each of the permits registered for use with that vessel.

What is my Tier limit if I have multiple sablefish endorsed permits registered to a single vessel?

If multiple limited entry permits with sablefish endorsements are registered for use with a single vessel, that vessel may land up to the sum total of all of the tiers for those permits, unless the permit is registered to more than one vessel during the primary season. Up to 3 permits may be registered for use with a single vessel during the primary season; thus, a single vessel may not take and retain, possess or land more than 3 primary season sablefish tier limits in any one year. A vessel registered for use with multiple limited entry permits is subject to per vessel limits for species other than sablefish, and to per vessel limits when participating in the daily trip limit fishery for sablefish.

What is my Tier limit if the permit(s) are registered to more than one vessel during the sablefish primary fishery?

If a permit is registered to more than one vessel during the primary season in a single year, the second vessel may only take the portion of the tier limit(s) for that permit that has not been harvested by the first vessel to which the permit was registered. The combined primary season sablefish landings for all vessels registered to that permit may not exceed the sum total of the tier(s) associated with that permit.

How do I start my sablefish Tier limit(s)?

If a vessel is registered for use with a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit, all sablefish taken after noon local time April 1 count against the tier limit(s) associated with the permit(s) registered for use with that vessel.

How do I know what my tier balances are to date? Can a first receiver tell me?

For each delivery, the first receiver is must provide the vessel operator with a printed copy of the eticket. The sum of the landings from these e-tickets, subtracted from the available tier limit, is your tier balance.

Also, a first receiver can share a summary report of all the landings you have made to them with you, sorted by permit number. However, first receivers only have access to their own e-ticket information, and they cannot provide you with landing data from other first receivers. Therefore, if you have delivered to three different first receivers, each one of them could provide you with a summary report. The sum of the totals of those three reports against your available tier limits is your tier balance.

I am close to completing my tier limit. What do I have to do?

The first receiver may split sablefish from a single delivery for the purposes of completing a tier limit (or limits) and counting any remaining sablefish from that delivery toward the limited entry, fixedgear daily trip limit (DTL). Depending on the state in which you are landing your catch, this may be accomplished by apportioning the catch within a single e-ticket, or via separate e-tickets. An overage only occurs if the tier limit is completed, and the DTL is exceeded.

If you wish to fish in the limited entry fixed gear DTL fishery for sablefish with your endorsed gear, you may fish up to the limited entry fixed gear trip limits for sablefish. Your vessel may also fish with open access gear (e.g. non-trawl gear for which you are not endorsed). If you fish with both your endorsed and open access gear during the same cumulative limit period then you will be subject to crossover provisions found at §660.60(h)(7). The most common crossover provision that would apply when fishing in a cumulative limit period with both your endorsed gear and a non-endorsed gear is that the most restrictive trip limits (between limited entry fixed gear and open access) cannot be exceeded. Additionally, declaration reports have to be filed of the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement for the gear being used.

Additional Information for the Sablefish Primary Fishery

Closed Areas

The following mandatory closed areas apply to vessels participating in the sablefish primary fishery: 1) the Non-trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA); 2) the North Coast Commercial Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area (YRCA); 3) Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Areas; 4) a closure around the Farallon Islands; and 5) a closure around Cordell Banks. Three additional areas are voluntary closed areas; they are: 1) the North Coast Recreational YRCA; 2) the South Coast Recreational YRCA; and 3) the Westport Offshore Recreational YRCA. All of these closed areas are defined by latitude and longitude coordinates published in regulation at 50 CFR 660.70-79. More information on how these closed areas apply to limited entry fixed gear fisheries (e.g. commercial non-trawl fisheries) is available in regulation at §660.230 and on our website.

Additional Sablefish Fishery Requirements

The following requirements were effective January 2007 and remain in place:

  • permit owners must be onboard the vessel when that vessel is fishing for sablefish in the primary season against that permit's tier unless the permit owner is grandfathered (i.e., exempt from the owner-on-board requirement.) Each permit shows the permit owner’s owner-onboard status, exempt or not exempt;
  • for any request to transfer a sablefish-endorsed permit during the primary season, the transferor must certify the quantity of sablefish landed on the permit to date and the transferee must acknowledge the amount of landings to date;
  • at-sea processing of sablefish is prohibited unless the vessel and permit owner have previously qualified for an exemption; and
  • WA, OR and CA require the federal limited entry sablefish-endorsed permit number to be written on state fish tickets for all sablefish primary season landings.

A compliance guide describing these requirements is available.

Owner-on-Board Requirement

Any person who owns or has ownership interest in a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement must be on board the vessel registered for use with that permit at any time that the vessel has sablefish on board the vessel that count toward that permit's cumulative sablefish tier limit. A permit owner is not obligated to be on board the vessel registered for use with the sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit during the sablefish primary season if:

  • The person, partnership or corporation had ownership interest in a limited entry permit with a sablefish endorsement prior to November 1, 2000.
  • The person who owns or who has ownership interest in a sablefish-endorsed limited entry permit is prevented from being on board a fishing vessel because that person died, is ill, or is injured.

Exemptions are not automatic; they must be requested from NOAA Fisheries and appropriate evidence must be provided to support that request.

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Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on July 22, 2019