Agenda Item C1: Charter Annual Registration Initial Review

Why is the Council taking action?

  • Without updated information, NMFS and the Council can’t understand or track changes and trends in ownership, participation, and latency.
  • These trends help them evaluate whether changes to the CHP program are necessary
    • This includes retirement of non-transferable permits when ownership changes
  • Better information helps enforcement make sure CHPs are valid on the water

What did the Council decide at this meeting?

  • The annual registration should move forward for public review
  • The Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA, action most likely to pass) is:
    • Alternative 2: Implement an annual registration process for transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits (CHP). A CHP holder must submit the following information to NMFS on an annual basis to register a CHP:
      • CHP Number
      • CHP holder name (individual or non-individual entity), and
      • CHP holder address
      • [add phone number &/or e-mail address]
      • If a CHP holder is not registered with NMFS, the CHP would not be valid for use during the applicable fishing year.
    • Alternative 2, Option 1, additional requirement
      • List CHP ownership, e.g., ownership holdings for the CHP by individual(s), partners, or a corporate entity

Discussion Topics:

  • Lack of definition for leasing:
    • Council staff assumed that the Council meant some sort of financial transaction
    • SEAGO said: this is not the appropriate time or paper in which to discuss leasing
  • Fees:
    • The analysis indicates that
      • There is no authority to collect fees under the Pacific Halibut Act;
      • Fees might not cover the cost of implementing a fee collection program
      • Funds go to the U.S. Treasury and have to be appropriated by Congress back to NMFS for this program, this appropriation is not a guarantee
    • SEAGO said: repeated points from staff analysis, but not opposed to further analysis regarding making this program viable and showing that we have skin in the game. We need dedicated personnel, and if a reasonable fee amount is necessary, then we’ll consider the amount proposed and how NMFS will use it.
  • Adding an Option 4:
    • This option would add a question for CHP holders
      • Is the CHP user not part of the ownership structure?
      • What are the agreed upon terms?
        • No compensation, compensation by percentage, flat fee, combination of flat fee and percentage, or other
      • AP voted in favor of Option 4 after excluding parts of the question asking for specific financial information
        • Would this provide relevant data or data they already have access to?
      • Not initially included in Council Motion
        • Not included because:
          • The problem statement doesn’t mention leasing and leasing is not defined, so these questions might not be helpful to learn about an undefined activity
          • We already have access to most of this information
        • Added back in as an Amendment for more analysis, not PPA

Agenda Item C2: Mixing Guided & Unguided Halibut on a Fishing Vessel Initial Review

Why is the Council taking action?

  • This issue was raised as a concern of the Enforcement Committee
  • NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) agents have encountered some multi-day fishing vessels which have both guided and unguided halibut in vessel freezers
    • Cannot tell which fish were caught by guided clients and which were caught unguided by clients or crew
    • OLE has trouble enforcing compliance with the guided limit

What did the Council decide at this meeting?

  • Move this issue forward for a public review draft
    • Include changes suggested by Staff and the Enforcement Committee
    • Expanded discussion on:
      • Historical changes in mgmt. measures
      • Expanded discussion of regulatory history of actions prohibiting mixing halibut, e.g., cannot sport and commercial fish off the same vessel at the same time, cannot subsistence and commercial fish at the same time
      • Specific information on businesses which might be affected
    • PPA:
      • Alternative 3: if halibut harvested using sport fishing guide services is possessed with halibut harvested not using sport fishing guide services on Convention waters in Area 2C or 3A, the IPHC annual management measures for guided sport fishing for the area in which the halibut was harvested apply to all halibut onboard the fishing vessel

Discussion Topics:

  • SEAGO said: an action like this, done with no supporting information, does more to politically divide guided and unguided sport fishing, to the detriment of guided sport fishing, than it may help with on the water enforcement. We need full analysis of supporting information.
  • After hearing from Tim Comer, owner of Sea Otter Sound Floating Lodge, about existing floating lodges and seeing photos of his operation, Council staff and the Enforcement Committee held a discussion regarding necessary changes to the public review draft of the analysis
  • Need to more clearly define who this action applies to:
    • Two-prong test:
      • S. Code definition of vessel: capable of being used for transportation
      • Halibut Act definition of fishing vessel is the next step after determining if something is a vessel
    • Can provide examples of things which are not a vessel, including floating lodges subject to restrictions that the operation not move
  • OLE’s major concern is what is actually happening on the water

These issues will be up for final action at the April 2018 meeting in Anchorage to encourage members of the public to provide testimony.