Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Information relevant to this proposed rule, which includes a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), a regulatory impact review (RIR), and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) are available for public review during business hours at the office of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), at 7700 NE. Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503-820-2280. Copies of additional reports referred to in this document may also be obtained from the Council.
This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register Web site at
This proposed rule is needed to implement the 2013-2014 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish species taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The purpose of the proposed action is to conserve and manage Pacific Coast groundfish fishery resources to prevent overfishing, to rebuild overfished stocks, to ensure conservation, to facilitate long-term protection of essential fish habitats (EFH), and to realize the full potential of the Nation's fishery resources. The need for this proposed action is to set catch limit specifications and management measures for 2013-2014 that are consistent with existing or revised overfished species target rebuilding years and harvest control rules for all stocks. These harvest specifications are set consistent with the optimum yield (OY) harvest management framework described in Chapter 4 of the PCGFMP. This rule is authorized by 16 U.S.C. 1854-55 and by the PCGFMP.
This proposed rule contains two types of major provisions. The first are the harvest specifications (overfishing limits (OFLs), acceptable biological catches (ABCs), and annual catch limits (ACLs)), and the second are management measures designed to keep fishing mortality within the ACLs. The harvest specifications (OFLs, ABCs, and ACLs) in this rule have been developed through a rigorous scientific review and decision-making process, which is described in detail later in this proposed rule.
In summary, the OFL is the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) harvest level and is an estimate of the catch level above which overfishing is occurring. OFLs are based on recommendations by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) as the best scientific information available. The ABC is an annual catch specification that is the stock or stock complex's OFL reduced by an amount associated with scientific uncertainty. The SSC-recommended method for incorporating scientific uncertainty is referred to as the P star-sigma approach and is discussed in more detail below and in the proposed and final rules for the 2011-2012 biennial specifications and management measures (75 FR 67810, November 3, 2010 and 76 FR 27508, May 11, 2011). The ACL is a harvest specification set equal to or below the ABC. The ACLs are decided in a manner to achieve OY from the fishery, which is the amount of fish that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems. The ACLs are based on consideration of conservation objectives, socio-economic concerns, management uncertainty, and other factors. All known sources of fishing and research catch are counted against the ACL.
This proposed rule includes ACLs for the seven overfished species managed
In order to keep mortality of the species managed under the PCGFMP within the ACLs the Council also recommended management measures. Generally speaking, management measures are intended to rebuild overfished species, prevent ACLs from being exceeded, and allow for the harvest of healthy stocks. Management measures include time and area restrictions, gear restrictions, trip or bag limits, size limits, and other management tools. Management measures may vary by fishing sector because different fishing sectors require different types of management to control catch. The groundfish fishery is also managed with a variety of other regulatory requirements, many of which are not proposed to be changed through this rulemaking. Most of the management measures the Council recommended for 2013-2014 were slight variations to existing management measures and do not represent a change from current management practices. These types of changes include changes to trip limits, bag limits, closed areas, etc. However, several new management measures were recommended by the Council including: Changes to latitude and longitude coordinates that define the boundaries of the Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCA)s; the ability to routinely modify deductions from the ACL to assign fish to different sectors that would otherwise go unharvested while still preventing ACLs from being exceeded; a requirement that all fish from a landing be offloaded before a new trip begins to improve catch accounting; a new sorting requirement for blackgill rockfish so mortality can be accounted against the new species-specific blackgill rockfish harvest guideline (HG); the ability for NMFS to modify the percentage of surplus carryover in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program, as an inseason action based on a Council recommendation; and a clarification to the threshold at which participants in the limited entry fixed gear sablefish primary fishery would transition from fishing their tier limits and begin fishing against trip limits.
The Pacific Coast Groundfish fishery is managed under the PCGFMP. The PCGFMP was prepared by the Council, approved on July 30, 1984, and has been amended numerous times. Regulations at 50 CFR part 660, subparts C through G, implement the provisions of the PCGFMP.
The PCGFMP requires the harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish to be set at least biennially. This proposed rule is based on the Council's final recommendations that were made at its June 2012 meeting.
The process for setting the 2013 and 2014 biennial harvest specifications began in 2011 with the preparation of stock assessments. A stock assessment is the scientific and statistical process where the status of a fish population or subpopulation (stock) is assessed in terms of population size, reproductive status, fishing mortality, and sustainability. In the terms of the PCGFMP, stock assessments generally provide: (1) An estimate of the current biomass (reproductive potential); (2) an F
When spawning stock biomass falls below the minimum stock size threshold (MSST), a stock is declared overfished and a rebuilding plan must be developed that determines the strategy for rebuilding the stock to B
For overfished stocks, in addition to any stock assessments or stock assessment updates, rebuilding analyses are also prepared. The rebuilding analysis is used to project the future status of the overfished resource under a variety of alternative harvest strategies and to determine the probability of recovering to B
The Council considered new stock assessments, stock assessment updates, rebuilding analyses, public comment, and advice from its advisory bodies over the course of six Council meetings during development of its recommendations for the 2013-2014 harvest specifications and management measures. At each Council meeting between September 2011 and June 2012, the Council made a series of decisions and recommendations that were in some cases refined after further analysis and discussion. Detailed information, including the supporting documentation the Council considered at each meeting is available at the Council's Web site,
A draft EIS identifying the preliminary preferred alternative for each decision point was made available to the public, the Council, and the Council's advisory bodies prior to the June 2012 Council meeting. At that meeting, following public comment and Council consideration, the Council made its final recommendations on the 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications and management measures as well as Amendment 21-2 to the PCGFMP. Amendment 21-2 would reinstate previous catch accounting methodologies that were inadvertently removed through Amendment 21. This proposed rule does not contain regulations to implement Amendment 21-2 to the PCGFMP. The amendment was analyzed in the EIS and was part of the Council's final action. However, in consultation with NMFS, the Council chose not to transmit the FMP amendment at this time because additional work on the implementing regulations was necessary. It is anticipated that the FMP amendment, and any necessary implementing regulations, will be transmitted at a later date.
Additional information regarding the OFLs, ABCs, and ACLs being proposed for groundfish stocks and stock complexes in 2013-2014 is presented below, followed by a description of the proposed management measures for commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries.
The OFL is the MSY harvest level associated with the current stock abundance and is an estimate of the level of total catch of a stock or stock complex above which overfishing is occurring. The OFLs for groundfish species with stock assessments are derived by multiplying the F
For 2013 and 2014, the Council maintained a policy of using a default harvest rate as a proxy for the fishing mortality rate that is expected to achieve the maximum sustainable yield (F
For the 2013 and 2014 biennial specification process, eight stock assessments and four stock assessment updates were prepared. Full stock assessments, those that consider the appropriateness of the assessment model and that revise the model as necessary, were prepared for the following stocks: POP, widow rockfish, petrale sole, Dover sole, blackgill rockfish, sablefish, spiny dogfish, and greenspotted rockfish. Stock assessment updates, those that run new data through an existing model, were prepared for bocaccio, canary rockfish, darkblotched rockfish, and yelloweye rockfish. Because the bocaccio and darkblotched assessment updates encountered data anomalies, some modifications to the models were required and these were therefore not strictly updates.
Each new stock assessment includes a base model and two alternative models. The alternative models are developed from the base model by bracketing the dominant dimension of uncertainty (e.g., stock-recruitment steepness, natural mortality rate, survey catchability, recent year-class strength, weights on conflicting catch per unit effort series, etc.) and are intended to be a means of expressing uncertainty within the model by showing the contrast in management implications. Once a base model has been bracketed on either side by alternative model scenarios, capturing the overall degree of uncertainty in the assessment, a two-way decision table analysis (states-of-nature versus management action) is used to present the repercussions of uncertainty to decision makers. As noted above, the SSC makes recommendations to the Council on the appropriateness of using the different stock assessments for management purposes, after which the Council considers adoption of the stock assessments, use of the stock assessment for the development of rebuilding analysis, and the OFLs resulting from the base model runs of the stock assessments.
The following summaries pertain to the proposed 2013 and 2014 OFLs for stocks that were overfished in 2011.
A stock assessment update was prepared for the bocaccio stock between the U.S.-Mexico border and Cape Blanco, OR. The bocaccio OFLs of 884 mt for 2013 and 881 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A stock assessment update was prepared for the coastwide canary rockfish stock. The canary rockfish OFLs of 592 mt for 2013 and 741 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A stock assessment update was prepared for darkblotched rockfish in the U.S. Vancouver, Columbia, Eureka, and Monterey areas. The darkblotched rockfish OFLs of 541 mt for 2013 and 553 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A new coastwide stock assessment was prepared for petrale sole. The assessment treats the U.S. petrale sole resource from the Mexican border to the Canadian border as a single coastwide stock. The petrale sole OFLs of 2,711 mt for 2013 and 2,774 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A new stock assessment was prepared for POP north of 40°10′ north latitude. This is the first full assessment of POP since 2003. The POP OFLs of 844 mt for 2013 and 838 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A new coastwide stock assessment was prepared for widow rockfish in the U.S. Vancouver, Columbia, Eureka, Monterey, and Conception areas. The widow rockfish OFLs of 4,841 mt for 2013 and 4,435 mt for 2014 are based on the F
A coastwide stock assessment update was prepared for yelloweye rockfish. The yelloweye rockfish OFLs of 51 mt for 2013 and 2014 are based on the F
The following summaries pertain to the proposed OFLs for individually managed non-overfished stocks with new stock assessments or stock assessment updates in 2011.
A new coastwide stock assessment was prepared for Dover sole. The Dover sole OFLs of 92,955 mt in 2013 and 77,774 mt in 2014 are based on the F
A new coastwide stock assessment was prepared for sablefish. The sablefish OFLs of 6,621 mt in 2013 and 7,158 mt in 2014 are based on the F
For individually managed species that did not have new stock assessments or updates prepared, the Council recommended OFLs derived from applying the F
There are currently eight stock complexes used to manage groundfish stocks pursuant to the PCGFMP. These stock complexes are: (1) Minor nearshore rockfish north; (2) minor shelf rockfish north; (3) minor slope rockfish north; (4) minor nearshore rockfish south; (5) minor shelf rockfish south; (6) minor slope rockfish south; (7) other flatfish; and (8) other fish. Stock complexes are used to manage the harvest of many of the unassessed groundfish stocks. The proposed OFLs for stock complexes are the sum of the OFL contributions for the component stocks, when known. For the 2013-2014 biennial specification process, similar to what was done in 2011-2012, Depletion-Corrected Average Catch (DCAC), Depletion-Based Stock Reduction Analysis (DB-SRA), or other SSC-endorsed methodologies were used to determine the OFL contributions made by category three species (data limited species). Stock assessment scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center developed the DCAC and DB-SRA methodologies. The DCAC and DB-SRA provide an estimate of sustainable yield for data-poor stocks of uncertain status. The Council and the SSC recognized these methods as improvements upon previous catch-based methods for estimating sustainable yield. While OFL contribution estimates should not vary from year to year for the category three stocks, a bias was discovered and corrected in both the DB-SRA and DCAC estimates. The 2011 estimates were generally biased somewhat high and the revised 2013 estimates were more precise. The corrected 2013 and 2014 OFL contribution estimates decreased an average of 6 percent relative to the 2011 estimates. For further information see
The proposed OFLs for complexes can be found at in tables 1a and 2a of this proposed rule. In addition to OFL contributions derived by DCAC, DB-SRA, or other SSC approved estimates, OFL contributions for the following stocks were determined by applying the F
A new stock assessment was prepared for the portion of the blackgill rockfish stock south of 40°10′ N. lat. Blackgill rockfish contributes 130 mt in 2013 and 134 mt in 2014 to the minor slope rockfish south OFL. The blackgill rockfish contributions to the 2013 and 2014 minor slope rockfish south OFLs are based on the F
A new assessment was prepared for the portion of the greenspotted rockfish
A new coastwide stock assessment was prepared for spiny dogfish. Spiny dogfish contributes 2,980 mt in 2013 and 2,950 mt in 2014 to the other fish complex OFLs. Spiny dogfish contributions to the other fish complex OFLs are based on the F
The ABC is the stock or stock complex's OFL reduced by an amount associated with scientific uncertainty. The SSC-recommended P star-Sigma approach determines the amount by which the OFL is reduced to establish the ABC. Under this approach, the SSC recommends a sigma (σ) value. The σ value is generally based on the scientific uncertainty in the biomass estimates generated from stock assessments. After the SSC determines the appropriate σ value the Council chooses a P star (P*) based on its chosen level of risk aversion considering the scientific uncertainties. As the P* value is reduced, the probability of the ABC being greater than the “true” OFL becomes lower. In combination, the P* and σ values determine the amount by which the OFL will be reduced to establish the SSC-endorsed ABC.
The SSC has quantified major sources of scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL for category one stocks (stocks with relatively data-rich quantitative assessments) and recommended a σ value of 0.36. For category two stocks (stocks with relatively data-poor quantitative or non-quantitative assessments) the SSC recommended a σ value of 0.72 and for category three stocks (data-limited stocks with OFL contributions usually determined with DCAC or DB-SRA), the SSC recommend a σ value of 1.44. For stocks with data-poor stock assessments or no stock assessments (category two and three stocks), there is typically greater scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL. Therefore, the scientific uncertainty buffer is generally greater than that recommended for stocks with quantitative stock assessments. Assuming the same P* is applied, a larger σ value results in a larger reduction from the OFL.
For 2013 and 2014, the Council continued the general policy of using the SSC-recommended σ values for each species category. However, an exception to the general σ policy was made for widow rockfish. For widow rockfish, the SSC recommended a larger σ value of 0.41 rather than the 0.36 that would typically be used for category one stocks to better represent uncertainty in stock-recruit steepness, which is considered the major source of uncertainty in the widow rockfish assessment. In addition, several species changed categories in 2013-2014 as a result of updated stock assessments or due to being assessed for the first time. The σ value for these species was updated accordingly when determining the proposed ABCs for 2013 and 2014, as described below.
The species categories for yelloweye rockfish and blackgill rockfish south of 40°10′N. lat. were revised for 2013 and 2014 from category one to category two stocks. The yelloweye rockfish assessment was not able to estimate relative year class strength and the SSC recommended, yelloweye rockfish be considered a category two stock, and the σ value of 0.72 was used. Similarly, based on the stock assessment, the SSC recommended that blackgill rockfish be treated as a category two stock and the σ value of 0.72 was used. As a result of new stock assessments the species categories for spiny dogfish and greenspotted rockfish were revised for 2013 and 2014 from category three stocks to category two stocks. Accordingly, the σ values of 0.72 were used. Additional information about the σ values used for different species categories as well as the P*- σ approach can be found in the proposed and final rules from the 2011-2012 biennium. (75 FR 67810, November 3, 2010; 76 FR 27508, May 11, 2011). A discussion of the P* values used in combination with the σ values follows.
The PCGFMP specifies that the upper limit of P* will be 0.45. A P* of 0.5 equates to no additional reduction for scientific uncertainty beyond the sigma value reduction. A lower P* is more risk averse than a higher value, meaning that the probability of the ABC being greater than the “true” OFL is lower. For 2013 and 2014, the Council largely maintained the P* policies it established for the 2011-2012 biennium. Specifically, the Council recommended using P* values of 0.45 for all category one species, expect sablefish, which is described below. Combining the σ value of 0.36 the P* value of 0.45 results in a reduction of 4.4 percent from the OFL when deriving the ABC. For category two and three stocks, the Council's general policy was to use a P* of 0.4. When combined with the σ values of 0.72 and 1.44 for category two and three stocks, a P* value of 0.40 corresponds to 16.7 percent and 30.6 percent reductions, respectively.
The Council recommended more precautionary P* values in 2013-2014 for spiny dogfish and sablefish in order to account for uncertainty regarding the stock assessments. Spiny dogfish is a category two stock due to the model structure (fixed key parameters and no recruitment deviations) and sensitivity of the model results. The Council recommended a P* of 0.3 for spiny dogfish, which results in a 31.4 percent reduction from the OFL, in recognition of the uncertain catch history of the stock, which are largely discarded in west coast fisheries. The Council also expressed the need for precaution in managing spiny dogfish, pending a meta-analysis of elasmobranch F
The Council also applied the two-step σ and P* approach for stocks managed in stock complexes. The Council's SSC categorized and applied the appropriate σ value for individual stocks managed in stock complexes. For the six minor rockfish complexes, which are
ACLs are specified for each stock and stock complex that is “in the fishery”. An ACL is a harvest specification set equal to or below the ABC to address conservation objectives, socioeconomic concerns, management uncertainty, or other factors necessary to meet management objectives. All sources of fishing related mortality (tribal, commercial groundfish and non groundfish, recreational, and EFP), including retained and discard mortality, plus research catch are counted against an ACL. The ACL serves as the basis for invoking accountability measures (AMs). If ACLs are exceeded more than one time in four years, then improvements to or additional AMs, for example catch monitoring and inseason adjustments to fisheries, may need to be implemented.
Under the PCGFMP harvest policies, when a stocks depletion level falls below B
Under the PCGFMP, the Council may recommend setting the ACL at a different level than what the default ACL harvest control rule specifies as long as the ACL does not exceed the ABC and complies with the requirements of the MSA. The ACLs proposed for 2013-2014 are discussed below.
For the following individually managed species there was no new scientific information or change in management policy from the 2011-2012 biennium for establishing 2013 and 2014 ACLs: arrowtooth flounder (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); black rockfish (OR-CA) (ACLs set below the ABCs); black rockfish (WA) (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); cabezon (CA) (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); cabezon (OR) (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); California scorpionfish (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); chilipepper south of 40°10′ N. lat. (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); English sole (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); longspine thornyhead north of 34°27′ N. lat. (ACLs set below the ABCs); longspine thornyhead south of 34°27′ N. lat. (ACLs set below the ABCs); Pacific cod (ACLs set below the ABCs); shortbelly rockfish (ACLs set below the ABCs); shortspine thornyhead north of 34°27′ N. lat. (ACLs set below the ABCs); shortspine thornyhead south of 34°27′ N. lat. (ACLs set below the ABCs); splitnose south of 40°10′ N. lat. (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); starry flounder (ACLs set equal to the ABCs); and yellowtail north of 40°10′ N. lat. (ACLs set equal to the ABCs).
The Council considered new policies or information relative to the ACLs for the following healthy and precautionary zone species: Dover sole, lingcod north of 42° N. lat., lingcod south of 42° N. lat., longnose skate, sablefish north of 36° N. lat., sablefish south of 36° N. lat., and widow rockfish.
A new Dover sole assessment was done in 2011, which indicated the stock was healthy with a 2011 spawning stock biomass depletion of 83.7 percent of unfished biomass. Rather than set the ACLs equal to the ABCs of 88,865 mt in 2013 and 74,352 mt in 2014, the proposed 2013 and 2014 ACL of 25,000 mt is a re-specification of the 2012 ACL. The stock is projected to remain healthy while accommodating the current level of catch. Lower sablefish ACLs are proposed for 2013 and 2014 and, given that the trawl sablefish allocation can dictate the amount of Dover sole that can be accessed in the IFQ fishery, the Council did not recommend higher Dover sole ACLs.
Lingcod are distributed coastwide with harvest specifications based on two area stock assessments that were conducted in 2009 for the areas north and south of the California-Oregon border at 42° N. latitude. The stock assessments indicate west coast lingcod stocks are healthy with the stock depletion estimated for lingcod off Washington and Oregon to be at 62 percent of its unfished biomass, and lingcod off California estimated to be at 74 percent of its unfished biomass at the start of 2009. The lingcod ACLs for 2013-14 are being proposed for the areas north and south of the current 40°10′ N. lat. management line rather than north and south of the California-Oregon border (42° N. lat.), which is where the stock assessment splits the stocks. Current regulations at § 660.112(b)(1)(vii) prohibit vessels participating in the shorebased IFQ program from fishing in more than one IFQ management area on the same trip. Therefore, if lingcod were to have a geographic split at 42° N. lat. it would create a new IFQ management area that could unnecessarily restrict IFQ program participants. Dividing the lingcod specifications at 40°10′ N. lat. has no biological implications yet is consistent with the management of most other species with north-south specifications. The adjusted specifications for lingcod were based on the NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center trawl survey. The swept area biomass estimates calculated annually (2003-2010) in the NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center trawl survey indicated that 48 percent of the lingcod biomass for the stock south of 42° N. lat. occurred between 40°10′ N. lat. and 42° N. lat, and the specifications were adjusted accordingly. The 2013 and 2014 lingcod ACLs are 3,187 mt in 2013
The west coast longnose skate stock was assessed in 2007. The spawning stock biomass was estimated to be at 66 percent of its unfished biomass at the start of 2007. The Council considered two 2013 and 2014 longnose skate ACL alternatives. The alternatives were an ACL of 1,349 mt, which was the 2012 ACL and was based on a 50 percent increase in the average 2004-2006 total catch mortality, and an ACL of 2,000 mt. The Council recommended an ACL of 2,000 mt to accommodate the increased landings in the non-whiting trawl fishery seen in recent years and limit potential disruption of current fisheries. An ACL of 2,000 mt is well below the 2013 and 2014 ABCs for the stock of 2,774 mt and 2,692 mt. The proposed ACL is within a level of harvest projected to maintain the population at a healthy level as projected in the 10-year forecast for longnose skate in the 2007 stock assessment.
A new coastwide sablefish stock assessment was conducted in 2011. The spawning stock biomass was estimated to be at 33 percent of its unfished biomass at the beginning of 2011. Because the sablefish stock is in the precautionary zone with a stock biomass below the B
To account for the uncertainty inherent in the abundance estimates of sablefish south of 36° N. lat. (due to the short time-series of survey data from the southern area and advisory body advice), the Council recommended southern area ACL apportionments that were reduced by 50 percent for 2011 and 2012. For 2013 and 2014, the SSC advised the Council that a fuller time series of trawl survey and catch data informing stock biomass in the Conception area reduced the scientific uncertainty in estimating biomass in that area in the 2011 assessment making the added 50 percent reduction unnecessary. The 2013 and 2014 proposed sablefish ACLs are 4,012 mt in 2013 and 4,349 mt in 2014 for the stock north of 36° N. lat. and 1,439 mt in 2013 and 1,560 mt in 2014 for the stock south of 36° N. lat. The ACLs are set below the ABCs based on the 40-10 harvest control rule. The 2013 and 2014 ACLs are a 25 percent reduction from the 2011-2012 ACLs for sablefish north of 36° N. lat. Sablefish is an economically important species in all commercial fisheries. The effects of the sablefish ACL on projected ex-vessel revenues in 2013 and 2014 are further discussed in the Classification section below.
A new full assessment of widow rockfish was conducted in 2011. The new stock assessment indicated the spawning stock biomass was at 51 percent of its unfished biomass at the start of 2011 and above the rebuilding threshold. Beginning in 2013 and 2014, widow rockfish will be managed as a healthy stock. Although the base model is considered to be the best available science, there was considerable uncertainty regarding the new stock assessment's findings. The Council took this into consideration when making the ACL recommendations. For 2013-2014, the Council recommended ACLs of 1,500 mt to accommodate increased opportunity in the trawl fishery while keeping the spawning stock biomass above the target B
For the eight stock complexes managed under the PCGFMP, the Council recommended maintaining the 2013 and 2014 ACLs as close as possible to the 2012 ACLs. Maintaining ACLs as similar as possible to 2012 will help provide stability to fisheries in 2013 and 2014 while the trawl fishery continues to adjust to IFQ management and while NMFS and the Council consider changes to how stock complexes are structured. All of the ACLs for stock complexes are less than or equal to the summed ABC contribution of each component stock in each complex as described in the following paragraphs.
For minor nearshore rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL is set equal to the ABC, at 94 mt each year. The 2013 and 2014 complex ABC is the summed contribution of the component stocks′ ABCs. For minor nearshore rockfish south of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL of 990 mt is the same as the 2012 ACL and is less than the 2013 ABC for the complex.
For minor shelf rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL of 968 mt is the same as the 2012 ACL and is less than the 2013 ABC of 1,920 and the 2014 ABC of 1,932 mt, for the complex. For minor shelf rockfish south of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL of 714 mt is the same as the 2012 ACL and is less than the 2013 and 2014 ABCs for the complex.
Greenspotted rockfish is managed within the minor shelf rockfish complexes. The 2011 assessment indicated the stock is in the precautionary zone with spawning biomass depletions of 30.6 percent and 37.4 percent for the stocks north and south of Point Conception, respectively. However, the stocks have shown substantial biomass increases since implementation of the rock fish conservation areas (RCAs) in 2003. Shelf rockfish are particularly well-protected by the RCAs, and greenspotted rockfish catches have been negligible since 2003.
For minor slope rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL of 1,160 mt is the same as the 2012 ACL and is less than the 2013 ABC of 1,381 mt and the 2014 ABC of 1,414 mt, for the complex. For minor slope rockfish south of 40°10′ N. lat., the preferred 2013 and 2014 complex ACL is set equal to the ABC, at 618 mt in 2013 and 622 mt in 2014.
Blackgill rockfish is managed within the minor slope rockfish complexes. The 2011 assessment for the stock south of 40°10′ N. lat. indicated the stock was in the precautionary zone with spawning biomass depletion estimated to be 30 percent of its unfished biomass at the start of 2011. The Council recommended and NMFS is proposing to establish 2013 and 2014 HGs equal to the 40-10 adjusted ACLs calculated for the southern blackgill rockfish stock of 106 mt and 110 mt in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The preferred 2013 and 2014 ACL for the other flatfish complex of 4,884 mt is equal to 2012 ACL. The 2013-2014 ACLs are set below the ABC of 6,982 mt.
The preferred 2013 and 2014 ACLs for the other fish complex of 4,717 mt and 4,697 mt, respectively, are equal to the preferred 2013 and 2014 ABCs, which are lower than the No Action 2012 ACL of 5,575 mt.
Spiny dogfish is managed within the other fish complex. The 2011 assessment indicated that spiny dogfish stock was healthy with an estimated spawning biomass at 63 percent of its unfished biomass. Although the Council initially considered managing spiny dogfish with a species specific harvest specifications, the final recommendation was to continue managing it within the other fish complex ACL for 2013 and 2014. Reconsideration of species specific specifications would be made in the 2015-2016 specifications cycle when a thorough analysis on complex management is expected to be completed as described below.
The Council and NMFS have recognized the need to revisit the composition of the stock complexes to ensure that stocks grouped together are sufficiently similar in geographic distribution, life history, productivity, and susceptibility to the fishery. However, recognizing that additional scientific work and management consideration is necessary to comprehensively address the issue, the Council recommended maintaining the current stock complexes for 2013 and 2014. NMFS is prioritizing completion of an analysis to inform changes to stock complexes in time for the 2015-2016 biennium due to information indicating that the harvest of some stocks may be out of proportion to their contribution to the complex specifications. The DEIS indicates that routine modifications to existing management measures could be effective at controlling catch of stock complexes if it becomes necessary.
When a stock has been declared overfished a rebuilding plan must be developed and the stock must be managed in accordance with the rebuilding plan. ACLs for these stocks are therefore set according to the rebuilding plans. The following seven overfished groundfish stocks would be managed under rebuilding plans in 2013 and 2014: Bocaccio south of 40°10′ N. lat.; canary rockfish; cowcod south of 40°10′ N. lat.; darkblotched rockfish, Pacific Ocean Perch (POP), petrale sole, and yelloweye rockfish. Section 304(e)(4) of the MSA provides that any fishery management plan, plan amendment, or proposed regulations for rebuilding an overfished fishery shall: “(A) specify a time period for rebuilding the fishery that shall—(i) be as short as possible, taking into account the status and biology of any overfished stocks of fish, the needs of fishing communities, recommendations by international organizations in which the United States participates, and the interaction of the overfished stock of fish within the marine ecosystem; and (ii) not exceed ten years, except in cases where the biology of the stock of fish, other environmental conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in which the United States participates dictates otherwise” (16 U.S.C. 1854(e)(4)).
The Council and NMFS rely on rebuilding analyses to develop rebuilding plans, particularly to determine the amount of time needed to rebuild stocks given varying levels of fishing mortality. An overfished groundfish stock is considered rebuilt once its biomass reaches B
When an SPR harvest rate is used as the rebuilding strategy, the Council's preference is to maintain a constant SPR harvest rate during the rebuilding period for a stock, if appropriate. The
As explained in the preamble to the proposed specifications and management measures for the 2011-2012 biennium (75 FR 67810, November 3, 2010), new information or changes in perception of stock status and biology can result in variability in stock assessments and rebuilding analyses. In some cases, this variability requires revisions to existing rebuilding plans in order to account for new estimates of T
Absolute stock abundance, or stock scale, has also demonstrated considerable variability across assessments. This variability is often a result of uncertainty in catch histories, which scales the biomass via estimates of fishing mortality, but is also sensitive to life history parameters such as growth and mortality. Any changes in these estimates can have large effects in perceived biomass. These changes in scale are commonly seen in estimates of unfished biomass, as the scale of the entire population trajectory can shift up or down. Changes in population scale will affect the level of catch needed to achieve the rebuilding goals if harvest levels are not based on harvest rates. Stock status or depletion is expressed as an estimate of current biomass relative to the estimate of unfished biomass. Importantly, changes in the estimate of unfished biomass can change with new data, even though the current population biomass stays the same. Likewise, as more data becomes available on productivity in current years it may alter our understanding of current year biomass relative to an unfished biomass. Because stock status is the basis for determining when a stock is rebuilt, subsequent estimates of when a stock is projected to rebuild at a specific SPR may change as estimates of stock status change.
For two stocks, POP and canary rockfish, new scientific information revealed that it is unlikely that the stocks can be rebuilt by their current T
The EIS prep