Draft for Secretarial Review EA/RIR/IRFA for Amendment 67 to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fishery Management Plan
Pacific Cod License Limitation Requirements for Fixed Gear Vessels and Establishment of Species and Gear Endorsements
Participants in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) fixed gear Pacific cod fishery include longline and pot fishermen with extensive catch histories. However, given the current economics of the Pacific cod fishery, vessel owners with limited history in the BSAI cod fisheries may be tempted to bring vessels into the fishery. Currently there is no mechanism in place that would limit entry into the fishery by substantial numbers of vessels that hold an LLP endorsement for those areas, but have not participated or participated at a level that could constitute significant past dependence on the fishery. At the April 1999 North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting, a follow-up amendment was proposed to the recent fixed gear allocations to address concerns with the stability of the fishery and increased competition. Proposed Amendment 67 would add a BSAI Pacific cod endorsement to fixed gear licenses, if the vessel meets a specific recent landings criteria.
There are few biological impacts of the alternatives and options considered by the Council. None of the options would change the amount of cod harvested by a particular gear type within the fixed gear sector. A more restrictive LLP for cod may create a more stable pool of vessels participating in the directed fishery. If more experience results in better fishing practices, reductions in bycatch may result. However, other factors impacting where and when vessels fish may further complicate the issue. Incidental catch of species such as crabs, sharks, skates, and squid may increase or decrease with changes in the number of vessels that can participate in the fixed gear sector for cod. However, the totals would still be far below the level of overfishing and would not be cause for biological concern.