Changes in the Pacific cod fishery, with implementation of the sector split as of Jan. 1, require special attention to those holding federal fisheries permits and license limitation program licenses, as the rules governing both are complex.
The federal fisheries permits are issued on a three-year cycle, which began on Jan. 1, and those who surrendered their federal fisheries permits will not get them back for three years.
In the past, said Ken Hansen, assistant special agent in charge for National Marine Fisheries Service at Kodiak, harvesters were allowed to surrender those permits and get them back over a period of time.
They would keep them to fish the A season cod in federal waters, then surrender them to relieve themselves of record keeping requirements, log book observers and use of the vessel monitor system, Hansen said. By surrendering them, they stated they did not intend to participate in groundfish fisheries or would stay inside state waters. Then they would reapply to get them back for the fall cod fishing season.
The new regulations allow harvesters to surrender these federal permits only once in a three year cycle.
Some of these new regulations were designed to slow down the pace of boats moving between federal and state fisheries, Hansen said. This was a policy goal to help boats that did one or the other, so they couldn’t do both. It is to limit movement between state and federal fisheries.
Ernie Weiss, natural resources director for Aleutians East Borough, said fishermen from King Cove, False Pass and Sand Point met telephonically with Hansen and Brent Pristas, also of NOAA Fisheries enforcement, on Dec. 28 to discuss changes in the P-cod fishery. Representatives of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game also participated in the discussion.
While FFPs surrendered won’t be returned until the next three year cycle, harvesters may opt to amend the FFP as many times as needed. Some FFP holders, for example, may wish to amend the FFP by removing the Pacific cod endorsement, thereby allowing the vessel operator to turn off the vessel monitoring system, Weiss said. Pollock and Pacific cod are vessel monitoring system fisheries, and Pollock and Pacific cod endorsements on the FFP require that the vessel monitoring system be on during those fishery openings.