The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is revising the 2017 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, 2017, according to James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS.
NMFS is increasing the 2017 Bering Sea pollock TAC from 1,340,643 metric tons (mt) to 1,345,000 mt, increasing the 2017 Atka mackerel TAC from 55,000 mt to 65,000 mt, decreasing the 2017 Bering Sea Pacific cod TAC from 238,680 mt to 223,704 mt, and increasing the 2017 Aleutian Islands Pacific cod TAC from 12,839 mt to 15,695 mt. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined that the current 2017 BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. The TACs currently specified for 2017 are different than the associated TACs derived from the latest stock assessment information.
Also, NMFS is announcing that the Aleutian Islands incidental catch allowance, directed fishing allowance, CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as well as the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation will not be in effect for 2017 (see 50 CFR part 679.20(a)(7)(viii)). NMFS received notification from Adak and Atka that neither will be processing Aleutian Islands Pacific cod in 2017.
The 2017 TACs are scheduled to be updated in late February 2017, 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 2017 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.
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.