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Sport Pacific Halibut - Setting the Season for 2006

 August 2005
  • ODFW held two public meetings to discuss proposed changes for the 2006 Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan for fisheries off Oregon. The first meeting occurred on August 18 in Astoria and the second on September 6 in Newport.

  • Based on the meeting comments and other public input, ODFW recommended the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approve the proposals below for additional public review.

Columbia River Subarea

1. Increase the allocation to the Columbia River subarea from 2.6 to 5 percent of the total Oregon/California sport allocation.

This would reduce the allocation in the Oregon central coast subarea from 94.4 to 92 percent. The purpose of the increase is to provide additional angler opportunity in the Columbia River subarea.

Central Coast Subarea

All-Depth Fisheries:

The following proposals are for the purpose of increasing the number of angler days so as to provide sufficient opportunity to harvest the entire catch limit, which has not been taken in recent years.

2. All open periods to occur on consecutive weeks, rather than every other week.
3. Change allocation between Spring and Summer seasons from 75%/25% to 80%/20%
4. If 25,000 pounds or more remain available for harvest on the combined all-depth and nearshore fishery catch limit after the Labor Day weekend, the daily bag limit increases to two fish.

Nearshore Fishery:

5. Allow no more than 1 halibut per vessel on all-depth days if rockfish are on the vessel.

Presently on all-depth days, no groundfish except sablefish are allowed if a halibut is on the vessel no matter what depth the fishing occurs. The purpose of the groundfish retention prohibition on all-depth dates is to reduce yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish impacts in the offshore fishery. The existing provision prevents the incidental take of halibut in nearshore fisheries on all-depth dates, which is contrary to the objective of the nearshore fishery.

North of Humbug Mt (Columbia River subarea and central coast subarea)

6. Allow the retention of groundfish, except rockfish, with a halibut on vessel during all-depth openings (see exception for the Nearshore Fishery Central Coast Subarea discussed above).

Current language specifies that all groundfish, except sablefish, cannot be retained with a halibut on vessel, which was originally proposed as a measure to reduce yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish impacts. This has led anglers to discard species such as lingcod and flatfish, which are caught incidentally while targeting halibut. Changing the regulation to still prohibit the retention of rockfish will allow anglers to retain healthier species, while still discouraging targeting of rockfish and subsequent impacts on yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish.

Statewide

7. Increase the possession limit on land in Oregon from two daily limits to three daily limits. This allows the angler to fish all three open days during all-depth weeks in the central coast subarea and legally transport the fish on land.


 September 2005
  • At its September meeting in Portland, the Pacific Fishery Management Council approved several proposed changes to the Catch Sharing Plan for public review. The proposals that affect the Oregon sport fishery are listed below.

Halibut Allocation and Season Structuring

Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.)

1. All all-depth open periods to occur on consecutive weeks rather than every other week.
2. Change all-depth allocation between Spring and Summer seasons from 75%/25% to 80%/20%.
3. Increase daily bag limit to 2 fish.
  Option 1: If 25,000 pounds or more remain available for harvest on the combined all-depth and nearshore fishery catch limit after the Labor Day weekend, the daily bag limit increases to two fish (currently the trigger is 30,000 pounds).
  Option 2: After the Labor Day weekend the International Pacific Halibut Commission, NOAA Fisheries, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will consult to determine whether increasing the Oregon central coast subarea Pacific halibut bag limit is warranted with the goal of harvesting the entire catch limit by September 30.

Rationale – The above proposals are intended to increase the number of angler days and catch per day to provide sufficient opportunity to harvest the entire catch limit, which has not been entirely taken in recent years.

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Pt., WA, to Cape Falcon)

4. Increase the allocation to the Columbia River subarea to 5% of the total Oregon/California sport allocation. The present allocation ranges from approximately 2% to 3.5% of the Oregon/California sport allocation, and a similar amount from the Washington sport allocation. The percent allocation depends on the total allowable catch off Washington, Oregon and California. In 2005 the allocation was 2.6% of the Oregon/California sport allocation. This proposal would reduce the allocation in the Central Oregon subarea to 92% of the total Oregon/California sport allocation (in 2005 it was 94.4%). Washington may also increase the allocation contributed to this subarea from the Washington sport allocation.
  Option 1: The fishery would continue under status quo structuring with both Oregon and Washington Columbia River ports open starting May 1, seven days per week, until the catch limit is taken or September 30, whichever occurs first.
  Option 2: Provide for a split season, with the primary (early) season starting May 1, open seven days per week, until the base allocation (2% to 3.5% of the 5% allocated) is taken or July 20, whichever occurs first. A secondary (late) season would open the first Friday in August and proceed as a Friday-through-Sunday fishery until the remaining catch limit is taken or September 30, whichever occurs first. The secondary season would be managed under separate state quotas (i.e., fish landed into Oregon would count against the Oregon quota, and fish landed into Washington would count against the Washington quota). Remaining quota from the primary fishery will be equally divided between Oregon and Washington. Additionally, Oregon ports will receive the difference between 5% of the total Oregon/California allowance and the amount initially allocated by Oregon in the primary season (2% to 3.5% to total Oregon/California). Washington may also allocate additional quota to be applied to Washington ports. If both states are open at any time during the secondary season, fish may be landed into ports in either state. If only one state is open at any time during the secondary season, all halibut caught in the area must be landed into the open state and be subject to that state's sport fishing and license regulations.

Rationale - To provide additional opportunity in the Columbia River subarea (Options 1 and 2) and to maintain benefits proportional to the respective states’ contribution to the subarea catch (Option 2).

Oregon Statewide

5. Increase the possession limit on land in Oregon from two daily limits to three daily limits.

Rationale – To allow anglers to fish all three open days during all-depth weeks on the central coast and legally transport the fish on land.

Groundfish Retention on Halibut Trips

Oregon North of Humbug Mt

6. All-depth fishery: No retention of rockfish when a halibut is on vessel during all-depth halibut openings (see exception for the central coast subarea nearshore fishery that follows).

Rationale – Presently on all-depth days, no groundfish except sablefish are allowed if a halibut is on the vessel, no matter what depth the fishing occurs. To reduce impacts on depressed canary rockfish and yelloweye rockfish stocks while allowing anglers to retain healthier groundfish species such as flatfish and lingcod.

7. Nearshore fishery: Allow no more than 1 halibut per vessel on all-depth days if rockfish are on vessel shoreward of the 40-fathom rockfish conservation line.

Rationale – Presently on all-depth days, no groundfish except sablefish are allowed if a halibut is on the vessel, no matter what depth the fishing occurs. The purpose of the groundfish retention prohibition on all-depth dates is to reduce yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish impacts, which primarily occur in the offshore all-depth fishery. The existing provision prevents the incidental take of halibut in nearshore fisheries on all-depth dates, which is contrary to one of the objectives of the nearshore fishery.

 November 2005

ODFW REPORT ON PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE PACIFIC HALIBUT CATCH SHARING PLAN FOR THE 2006 FISHERY

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) held three public meetings to discuss proposed changes to the 2006 Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) for fisheries off Oregon. The meetings occurred on October 17, 18, and 19 in Salem, Newport and Brookings, respectively. ODFW also met with its Sport Advisory Committee on October 20 to discuss the results of the public meetings and solicit their recommendations. Based on the comments from these meetings and other public input, ODFW recommends the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approve the following proposed changes to the CSP for the 2006 fishery.

Recommended Changes

Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.)

1. 2nd fish in daily bag limit

After the Labor Day weekend the IPHC, NMFS, and ODFW will consult to determine whether increasing the daily bag limit in the central Oregon coast subarea is warranted with the goal of harvesting the entire season quota by September 30. If the quota is not attained by September 30, the season will remain open, maintaining the bag limit in effect at that time, through October 31 or quota attainment, whichever occurs first.

Rationale – The 2nd fish in the daily bag limit after Labor Day weekend is intended to help assure the entire catch limit is harvested, which has not occurred in recent years.

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Pt. to Cape Falcon)

Allocation and split season structuring

2. Increase the allocation to this subarea to 5.0% of the Oregon/California sport allocation. Provide for the possibility of a split season, with the primary (early) season having the traditional structure, and the secondary (late) season(s) (if any) managed under separate quotas in the Washington and Oregon portions of the subarea.

Description – The initial allocation for this subarea is 2.0 percent of the first 130,845 lbs (59.4 mt) allocated to the Washington sport fishery, and 4.0 percent of the Washington sport allocation between 130,845 lbs (59.4 mt) and 224,110 lbs (101.7 mt) (except for that provided to the fixed gear sablefish fishery), and 5.0 percent of the Oregon/California sport allocation.

The primary season is allocated the full amount of the Washington contribution and, from the Oregon-California sport allocation, the number of pounds equal to the Washington contribution. The primary season would open May 1 and continue 7 days per week until the allocation for the primary season has been taken, or July 20, whichever is earlier.

The secondary season(s) (if any) will reopen the first Friday in August, by NMFS via an update to the recreational halibut hotline. The secondary seasons will be managed under separate quotas for Oregon ports and Washington ports.

The Oregon ports in the area from Cape Falcon north to the Washington/Oregon border would be allocated 50 percent of the remaining allocation from the primary season, plus the difference between the Oregon contribution to the primary season and 5.0 percent of the Oregon/California sport allocation, plus any additional quota transferred from other Oregon subareas.

The Oregon ports north of Cape Falcon will remain open three days per week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) until the Oregon secondary season allocation has been taken, or September 30, whichever is earlier.

The Washington ports between the Oregon/Washington border and Leadbetter Point, WA would be allocated the remaining 50 percent of the primary season allocation, plus any additional quota transferred from other Washington subareas.

The Washington ports south of Leadbetter Point would remain open three days per week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) until the Washington secondary season allocation has been taken, or September 30, whichever is earlier.

Subsequent to the closure of a secondary season, if there was insufficient quota remaining for another fishing day, then any remaining quota could be transferred inseason to another Washington and/or Oregon subarea by NMFS via an update to the recreational halibut hotline. Any remaining quota would be transferred to each state in proportion to its contribution.

Rationale – To provide additional opportunity in the Columbia River subarea and maintain benefits proportional to the respective states’ quota contribution to the subarea quota.

Oregon Statewide

3. Increase the possession limit on land in Oregon from two daily limits to three daily limits.

Rationale: Allowing a possession limit on land of three daily limits allows the angler to fish all three open days during all-depth weeks in the central coast subarea and legally transport the fish on land.

Proposals Not Supported by ODFW

Central coast subarea consecutive week fisheries and all-depth allocation change

The proposals to structure all open periods on consecutive weeks and change the allocation between the Spring and Summer all-depth fisheries is not recommended. Public reaction was mixed on these issues. Several participants commented that they liked the way the 2005 fishery progressed providing opportunity from May through October and would not make these changes at this time. Some proposed the alternative of not closing weeks during low tide series, which is optional in the existing CSP.

Groundfish retention on directed Pacific halibut trips

Both the public and ODFW are concerned over the incidence of both yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish bycatch on halibut directed trips. Considering the limited available bycatch impacts of these two species to the recreational fishery the ODFW recommends continuing the prohibition to groundfish retention, except sablefish, in the Pacific halibut fishery north of Humbug Mountain.


At its November meeting in San Diego, PFMC adopted final changes to the CSP for the 2006 fishery as follows.

Summary of Final Changes That Affect Oregon Sport Fisheries

1. The Oregon possession limit on land was increased from two daily limits to three daily limits.
2. An inseason decision will be made after the Labor Day weekend whether or not to increase the daily bag limit in the central coast subarea from one to two fish with the goal of harvesting the entire season quota by September 30.
3.

The Columbia River subarea fishery will be managed for two openings. The first season will open on May 1, and continue 7 days per week until 70 percent of the subarea allocation is taken or until the third Sunday in July, whichever occurs first. The second season will open on the first Friday in August and continue 3 days per week, Friday-Sunday until the remainder of the subarea quota has been taken or September 30, whichever occurs first.

Oregon increased its share of the Oregon/California sport allocation to this subarea from the present range of 2-3.5 percent to 5 percent. Washington committed to providing additional poundage inseason to the subarea if poundage remains available from other Washington subareas. Poundage could be available in the situation where available quota remains in a subarea but it is not enough for another day of fishing. Separate state quotas were not adopted. Anglers can take Pacific cod in addition to sablefish when halibut are on board vessel.

Further Detail and Rationale

Oregon statewide possession limit

Rationale: Allowing a possession limit on land of three daily limits allows the angler to fish all three open days during all-depth weeks in the central coast subarea and legally transport the fish on land.

Central coast subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) bag limit

After the Labor Day weekend the IPHC, NMFS, and ODFW will consult to determine whether increasing the daily bag limit in the central Oregon coast subarea is warranted with the goal of harvesting the entire season quota by September 30. If the quota is not attained by September 30, the season will remain open, maintaining the bag limit in effect at that time, through October 31 or quota attainment, whichever occurs first.

Rationale – The 2nd fish in the daily bag limit after Labor Day weekend is intended to help assure the entire catch limit is harvested, which has not occurred in recent years.

Columbia River subarea allocation and fishery structure

This subarea is defined as waters south of Leadbetter point, Washington, (46°38.17' N. lat.) and north of Cape Falcon, Oregon (45°46.00' N. lat.).

This sport fishery is allocated 2.0 percent of the first 130,845 lbs (59.4 mt) allocated to the Washington sport fishery, and 4.0 percent of the Washington sport allocation between 130,845 lbs (59.4 mt) and 224,110 lbs (101.7 mt) (except as provided in section (e)(3) of this Plan). This subarea is also allocated 5.0 percent of the Oregon/California sport allocation or an amount equal to the contribution from the Washington sport allocation, whichever is greater.

The fishery will open on May 1, and continue 7 days per week until 70 percent of the subarea allocation is taken or until the third Sunday in July, whichever occurs first. The fishery will reopen on the first Friday in August and continue 3 days per week, Friday-Sunday until the remainder of the subarea quota has been taken or September 30, whichever occurs first. Subsequent to this closure, if there is insufficient quota remaining in the Columbia River subarea for another fishing day, then any remaining quota may be transferred inseason to another Washington and/or Oregon subarea by NMFS via an update to the recreational halibut hotline. Any remaining quota would be transferred to each state in proportion to its contribution.

The daily bag limit is one halibut per person, with no size limit. No groundfish may be taken or possessed, except sablefish and Pacific cod when allowed by groundfish regulations, if halibut are on board the vessel.

Rationale – Provide angler opportunity on weekends during the August-September period. Allow the incidental take of Pacific cod, which occurs near Leadbetter Pt., Washington.

Note that PFMC did not adopt management changes for the Columbia River subarea as recommended by ODFW. Both the Salmon Advisory Subcommittee and the Groundfish Advisory Subcommittee provided statements stating that the majority of the committee members did not support the ODFW proposal for the Columbia River subarea at the November PFMC meeting. Based on the response from both committees, Oregon and Washington submitted a revised recommendation which was adopted by PFMC.
 January 2006

Recommendations for 2006 Open Dates for Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain Sport Pacific Halibut All-Depth Fisheries and Stonewall Bank RCA Retention Regulations

Background

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) annually conducts a public meeting to discuss the upcoming sport all-depth fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain. Public input is solicited on the open dates to be recommended.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) Catch Sharing Plan (CSP) for Area 2A specifies both the opening day and open days per week for the Oregon all-depth sport fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain. In addition, the plan specifies the proportions of the annual all-depth catch limit between the Spring (May-July) and Summer (August-October) fisheries. In previous years a number of fixed open days was set annually for each fishery by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Beginning with 2004, fixed dates have been only set for the Spring fishery. Also, possible additional open dates are identified preseason for the Spring fishery in case sufficient catch limit remains for the fishery to continue after the fixed days. Since 2005, the Summer fishery has been managed as an every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday fishery starting the first Friday in August and continuing through October or attainment of the allocated catch limit, whichever occurs first, with options to skip weeks due to adverse tidal conditions. The CSP also contains inseason provisions to add days and/or additional fish to the daily bag limit in the Summer fishery if it appears inseason that the entire annual catch limit (total for the subarea) will not be harvested over the dates set for the fishery.

Fixed days are open fishing dates established preseason. They are set with the intent that the angler can plan fishing trips without concern of closure due to attainment of the catch limit. The fixed dates established for the Spring fishery are not guaranteed days and could be cancelled if it is projected the fishery will exceed the Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain annual all-depth catch limit (Spring and Summer all-depth fishery combined).

Possible additional open dates (back-up dates) are established in case sufficient quota remains after completion of the fixed days in the Spring fishery. Establishing preseason the dates of possible additional days assists the angler in planning fishing trips.

The Stonewall Bank Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) was established in 2005 and is a closed area for halibut fishing. In 2005 inseason action allowed anglers to possess a halibut on the vessel taken in legal open waters while fishing in the RCA for other species of fish. Enforcement has expressed concern and recommends prohibiting an angler from fishing in the RCA for legal fish species while possessing a halibut onboard the vessel.

Public Meeting

ODFW held a public meeting in Newport on January 25, 2006, to gather comments on the number and dates of fixed and back-up days to be adopted for the Spring recreational all-depth fishery. In addition, participants reviewed the Summer all-depth fishery dates and potential inseason changes provided under the Catch Sharing Plan. Over 25 individuals attended the meeting. The attendees included a mix of anglers and charter boat operators including both coastal and inland participants.

The expected catch per day and dates for the 2006 Spring all-depth fishery were the focus of the discussion. In recent years the increasing catch per day trend observed in the 1990s has reversed. Starting in 2002, the trend changed with a considerable reduction in catch per day which continued in 2003. Since 2003 the catch per day has leveled off. The participants discussed the expected catch per day for 2006 as being similar to that observed in the 2003-2005 period, which ranged from 11,500 to 12,300 pounds per day. Two scenarios were considered, a 12 and 15 fixed day season. The participants unanimously chose the 15 fixed day season based on a catch per day range observed in 2003-2005 and the 175,474 pound catch limit. Participants were reminded if the catch per day exceeded 11,700 pounds the Spring catch limit would be exceeded and that amount would be deducted from the Summer catch limit of 58,491 pounds. Anglers expressed concern over leaving pounds unharvested as occurred during the last three seasons.

The CSP identifies the opening dates for the Spring and Summer fishery and open days per week. Fixed days in the Spring fishery start the second Thursday in May, with the open days to occur on consecutive weeks on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It also allows potential back-up dates if catch limit remains after the fixed days. Back-up days occur every other Thursday, Friday and Saturday continuing until the Spring catch limit is obtained or July 31, whichever occurs first. Based on the CSP, the participants recommended the following Spring fixed days: May 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27; and June 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10. The participants recommended not skipping any weeks due to low tides. Their opinion was that there were sufficient days of opportunity that anglers would not feel pressured to fish if ocean and tide conditions were not optimal and that there was only one day in the proposed open dates, May 27, where the low tide was less than -2.0 feet (-2.1). The potential back-up dates recommended if catch limit remains are June 22, 23, 24; and July 6, 7, 8, 20, 21 and 22. For the Summer fishery, the CSP identifies the fishery open the first Friday in August, with the open days to occur on every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the catch limit is taken or October 31, whichever occurs first. Again, dates can be skipped to avoid adverse tidal conditions. As no adverse tidal conditions were identified, the fishery will occur on August 4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20; and September 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17, 29, 30; and October 1, 13, 14, 15, 27, 28 and 29. The CSP also has provisions to increase open days and bag limits during the Summer fishery if it appears the sub-area season quota will not be taken in the open dates set preseason.

Recommendation for 2006 All-Depth Fisheries and Stonewall Bank RCA Retention Regulations

ODFW proposes the recommended 15 fixed days and the additional back-up dates suggested above for the Spring fishery. ODFW recommends the dates discussed above for the Summer fishery.

ODFW proposed not allowing fishing to occur in the Stonewall Bank RCA if a halibut is on the vessel as recommended by enforcement. Anglers would be allowed to traverse the RCA with halibut onboard as long as they do not angle in the RCA.

 March 2006
  • NOAA Fisheries approved the all-depth dates recommended by ODFW.

  • 2006 season map

 

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