NMFS reminds the fleet to minimize its catch of two rockfish species groups in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area—blackspotted/rougheye rockfish and northern rockfish.
At the December 2015 meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) addressed concerns about fishing pressure relative to blackspotted/rougheye rockfish biomass estimates in the Western Aleutian Islands. To alleviate concerns of high exploitation of blackspotted/rougheye rockfish in the Western Aleutian Islands the SSC recommended estimation of a maximum subarea species catch (MSSC) amount. For 2016, the MSSC amount to guide the level of catch is 58 metric tons for the Western Aleutian Islands. Information on the calculation of this MSSC amount may be found in the most recent blackspotted /rougheye rockfish stock assessment.
The 2015 BSAI northern rockfish catch was approximately three times higher than the total catch from recent years. Most of the catch was from Atka mackerel and northern rockfish targets in the Western and Eastern Aleutian Islands. The survey biomass is mostly in the Western Aleutian Islands district; only 7 to 12 percent of the biomass is in the Eastern Aleutian Islands district. The 2015 catch raised concerns that the area-specific exploitation rates may be high in the Eastern Aleutian Islands district. The most recent northern rockfish stock assessment.
In 2016, if the catch for either of these rockfish species groups continues to be a concern the SSC and Council may recommend further management action.
NMFS provides a catch report with the 2016 BSAI blackspotted/rougheye and northern rockfish catch by subarea and corresponding blackspotted/rougheye rockfish MSSC amounts for the public’s information in the catch reports.
The goal of this information bulletin is to improve public understanding on issues associated with fishing effort to mitigate the need for further management actions.