Regulations at 50 CFR 660.131 (h) provide for the reapportionment of Pacific whiting tribal allocations that the Regional Administrator determines will not be used by the end of the fishing year.
The best available information in early September 2019 indicates that at least 40,000 metric tons (mt) of the tribal allocation of 77,251 mt for the 2019 tribal Pacific whiting fishery will not be used by December 31, 2019. Reapportioning this amount to the non-tribal fishery is expected to allow for greater attainment of the Total Allowable Catch. In addition, recent conversations between the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and tribal fishery managers indicate that reapportioning 40,000 mt, leaving a tribal allocation of 37,251 mt, will not limit tribal harvest opportunities for the remainder of the year.
As required under the 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) biological opinion on the effects of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan on listed salmonids, NMFS considered the number and bycatch rate of Chinook salmon taken by the Pacific whiting fishery sectors. Based on the best available information in early September 2019, NMFS determined there is little risk that the reapportionment will cause the Pacific whiting sector fisheries to exceed the guideline limit of 11,000 Chinook salmon under current regulations and practices. At the time of this notice, incidental take of Chinook salmon by the non-tribal sector is 12% of the guideline limit. While the incidental take of Chinook salmon is higher this year compared to the same period in the previous two years, the total take this year is still well below the guideline limit. NMFS will continue to monitor Chinook salmon bycatch as part of inseason management.
NMFS is taking action at this time to reapportion 40,000 mt of Pacific whiting. Such reapportionments are disbursed to the other Pacific whiting fishery sectors in the same proportion as each sector's allotted portion of the fishery harvest guideline specified in the regulations. All non-tribal commercial sectors have expressed an interest in this potential for additional 2019 harvest of Pacific whiting. Whiting quota pounds will be allocated to non-tribal commercial sector quota share accounts as soon as feasible.
Effective 1200 Noon, local time, on September 13, 2019, 40,000 mt of Pacific whiting are reallocated from the tribal allocation to the non-tribal commercial Pacific whiting fishery.
The revised Pacific whiting allocations by sector for 2019 are listed below:
- Tribal: 37,251 mt
- Catcher/processor: 136,912 mt
- Mothership: 96,644 mt
- Shorebased: 169,126 mt
This communication serves as official notice of the reapportionment.