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GTAC SUMMARY

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January 6, 2011

DFO, HQ, 401 BURRARD STREET, VANCOUVER

GTAC SUMMARY January 6, 2011 [PDF]

In attendance: Barry Ackerman, John Roach, Kelly Andersen, Theresa Williams, Dave Dawson, Dave Morris, Frank Snelgrove, Charlie Minns, Dave Fiddler, Shawn Murray, Ron Gorman, Don Vaccher, Dave Fiddler, Phil Young, Gary Krause, Peter Knott, Ken Miller, Mike Buston, Shannon Mann, Dennis Chalmers, Fiona MacRaild, Bob Morreau, Greg Workman (conference phone), Hilary Ibey (for presentation on Sponge Reef AOI only), and Bruce Turris.

Sponge Reef Area of Interest (AOI) presentation: Hilary Ibey from DFO’s Oceans Branch made a brief powerpoint presentation to GTAC regarding the proposal to create a Marine Protected Area (MPA) where the glass sponge reef closures currently exist. The map in the presentation uses the existing trawl closure boundaries to describe the MPA closure. DFO has publicly stated that the boundaries for the closure will not change from the existing trawl closure boundaries unless there is significant scientific rationale to do so. DFO will send out to GTAC a copy of Hilary’s powerpoint presentation.

Fishery Review: DFO provided catch summaries for the trawl fishery up to January 5, 2011 as well as a catch summary for 2010 up until January 6. DFO noted that the JV hake numbers had been finalized and the catch had been assigned to the appropriate vessels. DFO is concerned about the 5CDE Pollock overage.

Holdings Cap Discussion Paper: At the October meeting, GTAC asked Bruce Turris to prepare a draft updated discussion paper (based on the March 2009 discussion paper) for consideration at the next GTAC meeting. A revised copy of the 2009 discussion paper had been e-mailed to GTAC members and DFO prior to the meeting. GTAC has asked for the paper to be further revised so that it includes the following questions for groundfish trawl license holders:

1. Do you support limited increases in the groundfish trawl license Total Holdings Cap (THC)? Yes____ No____

2. Should an increase in THC be:
a. Provided to all vessels across the board with a percentage increase? Yes____ No____
b. Provided to vessels that wish to stack additional THC on to their license
with THC from another license? Yes___ No____
c. Provided through a combination of a. and b. above? Yes___ No____
3. What percentage increase in Total Holdings Cap do you support:
a. 0 %
b. 5 %
c. 10 %
d. 15 %
e. 20 %
f. 25 %

In addition, GTAC asked that the discussion paper provide examples of what a 1% increase in the THC equates to at varying THC levels (i.e. 500,000, 2,000,000, 3,000,000, and 4,000,000). The discussion paper will be revised and then sent to all GTAC members for a quick review prior to being sent out to the license holders. Trawl Mesh Size: DFO reminded GTAC that the voluntary 140 mm mesh size for QC Sound will be a regulatory requirement in 2012/2013. This will be the last year that it is voluntary. Prior to 2012/2013 season GTAC will work with DFO to draw lines that best equate to the 60 fathom depth strata.

Non-marketable Mortality: DFO reminded GTAC that for 2011/2012 the mortality associated with 100% of the fish released at sea will be counted against IVQ allocations. In 2010/2011 on 50% was counted.

Non-Retention of Shark Species: Due to growing international and domestic concerns about the sustainability of various shark populations, DFO has asked GTAC to consider non-retention of some shark species. GTAC is supportive of protecting key species such as basking, tope (soupfin), and bluntnose sixgill sharks. These species should be nonretention. However, there are other shark species that are caught in the fishery, some in volume (dogfish and brown catshark) and others infrequently (blue shark and salmon shark). GTAC will work with DFO to develop encounter protocols for all shark captures (both retained and released) to ensure proper reporting and operational procedures that minimize mortality. DFO asked for names for a subcommittee to work with the Department to develop the protocols. GTAC recommended the following names for the subcommittee: Brian Mose, Bob Morreau, Dave Dawson, Shawn Murray, and Bruce Turris.

Scott Islands Marine Wildlife Area (MWA): Barry Ackerman and Bruce Turris attended a meeting on the Scott Islands MWA at the Institute of Oceans Sciences on December 13 and 14, 2010. Environment Canada through the Canadian Wildlife Service is in charge of the process looking at establishing a Marine Wildlife Area around the Scott Islands. Under the Marine Wildlife Act, the CWS has the authority to close areas to protect marine wildlife (including marine birds) and their foraging areas. A number of presentations were made regarding the health of the bird populations in the area and the effects of various human activities (shipping, oil and gas exploration, fishing, alternative energy sources). There was no information presented that suggested that commercial fishing in the area was having a detrimental effect on the bird populations residing on the Scott Islands. The population of greatest concern is the Cassin Auklet which has seen a significant decline in the population over the last decade. The decline is believed to be in large part due to environmental changes. However, there are various predators, such as mink, raccoons and rats on the Scott Islands. As well, the birds on the Scott Islands forage in Queen Charlotte Sound on species such as sandlance, krill and euphasids. Some environmental groups are concerned that commercial fishing may be impacting the food supply that the marine birds forage on. Bruce Turris is a member of the Scott Islands MWA Advisory Committee and has been attending meetings on behalf of the groundfish industry for the past 6 months and will keep GTAC informed of progress. John Koolman (commercial hook and line fishermen) and Jim McIsaac (T-Buck Suzuki Foundation) are also members of the committee.

Species caps: GTAC recommended the following increases in trawl soft caps:

  • Silvergrey 8
  • Reedi 10
  • Redstripes 20
  • P-cod 12
  • Rock sole 15
  • Petrale 16
  • Pollock 40

DFO asked for clarification regarding the redstripe and Pollock changes. GTAC advised that the redstripe increase was merely to provide willing vessels the economic opportunity to target redstripes if they can find a market. Regarding Pollock, GTAC advised that there were two reasons for the recommended increase. One was to allow vessels in the overage position to find fish and correct their position. The second was that with only 6 weeks left in the fishery and still considerable southern Pollock quota uncaught, that some vessels are hindered by species cap restrictions and this will allow them to continue fishing if they can find the quota. DFO took the cap recommendations under advisement, but stated they would likely accept all the recommendations.

Pacific Ocean Perch TAC for 5AB and 5CD: GTAC is aware that the recent stock assessment for 5ABC POP uses two models to develop stock projections. One model is more optimistic that the other. However, GTAC believes that both model results significantly underestimate the stock and what they are seeing on the grounds relative to historical abundance. Nevertheless, GTAC appreciates the need to make management decisions based on the best available science and to that end wishes to make recommendations consistent with the recent assessment projections. GTAC notes that the more pessimistic model projects (table G9) that stock wont decline with a 5ABC catch of 2500 tonnes. The assessment also shows that to include 5D you need to add 5%. Therefore, the stock shouldn’t decline for 5ABCD at a catch of 2625 tonnes. The more optimistic model run (PSARC actually says both runs are equally plausible) says the 5ABC stock will not decline at a catch level of 3000 tonnes. Prorating this to include 5D increases the catch to 3150 tonnes. GTAC recognizes that catch and TAC are different and that industry has a long history of underharvesting TACs. Over the last 4 years, the average annual utilization for 5AB and 5CD has been 68%. GTAC believes it is reasonable to expect a 30% underage and a TAC that would equate to 3413 tonnes (based on a 2625 tonne catch) and 4095 tonnes (based on a 3150 tonne catch). The current TAC is 4888 tonnes. Given the current assessment and the need to be precautionary, GTAC recommends a 3 year phase down approach to a harvest of 2625 tonnes and a TAC of 3413 tonnes. GTAC recommends a 5ABCD TAC in 2011/12 of 4396 tonnes, 3904 tonnes in 2012/2013, and 3413 tonnes in 2013/2014. GTAC also recommends that the TAC be prorated between 5AB and 5CD in the same ratio that currently exists. Finally, given that DFO science treated 5ABCD POP as one stock, we recommend that operators be allowed to assign IVQ overages to any of the two areas (either 5AB or 5CD). GTAC also wishes to have another assessment for 5ABCD POP done in 3 years after there have been 2 additional QC Sound random stratified bottom trawl surveys that may confirm the strength of the recent year classes noted in the recent assessment.

5AB P-cod TAC: At the October meeting, GTAC recommended a 200 tonne increase in the 5AB P-cod TAC. GTAC makes the same recommendation for the 2011/2012 5AB Pcod TAC. There is no current assessment for 5AB P-cod. However, P-cod stocks are clearly increasing in all areas in both Canada and the U.S. (Alaska and southern U.S.). The increase in abundance has shown up in the catch as well. There is currently only 7.5% of the 5AB P-cod TAC uncaught and the fleet has treated 5AB P-cod as an avoidance species for most of the year. GTAC is concerned that without a TAC increase, other species TACs will not be attainable (to within carryover allowances).

5CD P-cod TAC: GTAC recommends that the 5CD P-cod TAC remain at 1200 tonnes. This is the level it was raised to after TAC increases during the 2010/2011 season.

5A/B Rock sole TAC: Over the last several years industry has been advising DFO that the 5AB rock sole abundance has been increasing. 5AB rock sole is now an avoidance species and there is currently only 14% of the TAC left. The TAC was reduced in 2006 from 875 tonnes to 450 tonnes based on an assessment that was more appropriate for 5CD rock sole and has less data and information for 5AB rock sole. While the current survey data shows the stock as flat in 5AB there is considerable variation in the data and only a short time series of survey points. GTAC recommends an increase of 200 tonnes in the 2011/2012 5AB rock sole TAC.

Interim Hake TAC: Since the STAR Panel review of the Pacific hake stock won’t be completed until February and a coastwide TAC identified until the March PFMC meeting, GTAC recommends that DFO use the same interim hake TAC as in 2010/2011. Canary Rockfish TAC Allocations by Area: The most recent Canary rockfish assessment treats the stock as a single coastwide stock. For several reasons, GTAC has chosen to continue to allocate canary rockfish by area. For the 2011/2012 season, GTAC recommends the following splits by area:

3CD 5AB 5CD 5E
63.7% 25% 10% 1.3%
503 197 79 10

Redbanded Rockfish: GTAC has already recommended a 2011/2012 TAC for redbanded rockfish of 1,300,000 lbs. This TAC will be split 50-50 between trawl and hook and line. GTAC also recommends that the all vessel’s Total Holdings Cap be adjusted by the same percentage GFE increase resulting from the addition of redbanded as a TAC species. To calculate the increase in total GFE’s, GTAC recommends using a GFE for redbanded rockfish of 2. GTAC recommends an initial hard cap and soft cap for trawl allocated redbanded rockfish of 7% and 10% respectively (equivalent to the caps used for rougheye and shortraker rockfish). GTAC recommends a redbanded non-trawl soft cap of 10%.

Other Rockfish Trip Limit: Redbanded rockfish will no longer be included in the “other rockfish” trip limit. GTAC notes that even with redbanded in the “other rockfish” catch, the total catch of “other rockfish” has been declining. GTAC does not believe that operators have been targeting on “other rockfish” and therefore, recommends leaving the trip limit for “other rockfish” at 15,000 lbs. DFO will monitor the catches of “other rockfish” to see if catches start to increase.

GTAC TOR and Election: DFO has changed the term of all the sector groundfish advisory committees from 2 years to 3 years. Rather than hold an election at this time, DFO asked GTAC if they would agree to have their existing terms extended by one year and then hold a re-election next year. GTAC agreed with this request. EM Monitoring: DFO set January 18, 2011 for a meeting of the EM subcommittee. The meeting will be at DFO and a notice will be sent out to the subcommittee members. Hecate Strait P-cod Closure Boundary: Vessel operators in the north would like to see minor revisions to the Hecate Strait P-cod closure boundary to allow for increased fishing opportunities for rock and lemon sole. GTAC supports the minor revisions recommended by the boats working this area and asks Gary Krause (GTAC member representing most of the northern boats) to work with DFO on the coordinates for the boundary revision.

Hake Treaty and Committee Nominations: The U.S. House of Representatives has recently passed a bill that will enable the U.S. NMFS to appoint members to the various hake treaty committees (Joint Management Committee and Advisory Panel). Several years ago (2007) GTAC nominated a number of individuals for the Joint Management Committee (JMC) and Advisory Panel (AP). DFO had collected resumes for those individuals. DFO will send those resumes back to the individuals and ask them to update them. GTAC also recommended adding Theresa Williams to the list of nominees for both committees.

Commercial/Recreational Halibut Allocation: GTAC understands that the recreational fishery sector has been putting significant pressure on DFO and the Minister of Fisheries to change the current 88/12 commercial recreational allocation formula. GTAC is very concerned that if the Department allows for such a change it will undermine the proper management of the resource. Clear allocations are a fundamental requirement to sound fisheries management. Without such allocations, parties are not responsible for their actions and the impacts they have on the sustainability of the resource. Furthermore, changes to the current allocations will create significant instability to the industry and harm the economic viability of various fisheries, especially fisheries involved in groundfish integration. GTAC urges DFO not to change the existing allocations.

Next GTAC meeting: June 9, 2011 in Vancouver.