The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is revising the 2016 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, 2016, according to James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS.
NMFS is increasing the 2016 Bering Sea pollock TAC from 1,310,000 metric tons (mt) to 1,340,000 mt, increasing the 2016 Atka mackerel TAC from 54,817 mt to 55,000 mt, decreasing the 2016 Bering Sea Pacific cod TAC from 240,000 mt to 238,680 mt, and increasing the 2016 Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC from 9,422 mt to 12,839 mt. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined that the current 2016 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. The TACs currently specified for 2016 are different than the associated TACs derived from the latest stock assessment information.
The 2016 TACs are scheduled to be updated in late February 2016, 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. NMFS must therefore increase the 2016 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod and decrease the Bering Sea 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.
The revised 2016 harvest specification tables can be found on the NMFS website.
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.