Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis: Amendment 34 to the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs Management Plan - Revise Crab Sideboard Exemptions for the Pacific Cod and Pollock Fishery
Analysis of amendment to Gulf of Alaska sideboard limits
The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization program was implemented in March of 2005. The program allocated quota share to harvesters in nine BSAI crab fisheries. Each year, a person who holds QS may receive individual fishing quota to harvest BSAI crab. Recognizing that rationalizing the BSAI crab fisheries could provide opportunities for fishermen to alter their crab fishing patterns and take greater advantage of other fisheries, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council established Gulf of Alaska groundfish sideboard limits for vessels and License Limitation Program licenses that had Bering Sea snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) history and generated crab QS.
At its December 2006 meeting, the Council heard public testimony that the GOA sideboard limits, stemming from the crab rationalization program, had overly restricted historical participants in the GOA Pacific cod fishery. In response, the Council tasked staff to prepare a discussion paper of all GOA sideboards for non-American Fisheries Act crab vessels. In April 2007, the Council began developing options for adjusting the GOA sideboards. In December 2007, the Council initiated an amendment to adjust the GOA Pacific cod sideboard exemption qualifications for non-AFA crab vessels, exempt qualified non-AFA crab vessels from GOA pollock sideboards, and exempt nonAFA crab vessels from GOA Pacific cod sideboards, from November 1 to December 31 of each year.
In October 2008, the Council selected Alternative 2, Option 2.4, as its preferred alternative for Action I. The Council also selected Alternative 2, Option 3, as its preferred alternative for Action II. Finally, the Council removed the third action from the current regulatory package and repackaged it as a separate action for future consideration.