Continuing Operation of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery • Overview of NOAA Fisheries Biological Opinion • West Coast Region January 23, 2013
Background What is a Biological Opinion? • Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to insure that their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or result in the adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat. • Document which includes: (1) the opinion of the consulting agency regarding the above; (2) a summary of the information on which the opinion is based; and (3) a detailed discussion of the effects of the action on listed species or designated critical habitat.
Background Cont. What are Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs), Terms and Conditions (T&Cs), and Conservation Recommendations? • “Reasonable and prudent measures” are nondiscretionary measures to minimize the amount or extent of incidental take (50 CFR 402.02). “Terms and conditions” implement the reasonable and prudent measures (50 CFR 402.14). These must be carried out for the exemption in section 7(o)(2) to apply. • “Conservation recommendations” are suggestions regarding discretionary measures to minimize or avoid adverse effects of a proposed action on listed species or critical habitat or regarding the development of information (50 CFR 402.02).
Overview NOAA Fisheries’ Biological Opinion Lead: NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region • Action: Continuing Operation of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery • Issued: December 7, 2012 • Affected Species: Green Sturgeon, Eulachon, Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, and Leatherback Sea Turtles • Effects: Bycatch or entanglement in fishing gear; No jeopardy • Incidental Take Authorized: Numbers of individuals killed/injured specified per species • MMPA 101(a)(5)(e) Permit Issued: for incidental take of Humpback Whales in WA/OR/CA sablefish pot fishery, issued September 4, 2013
RPMs and T&Cs • Management Planning • Take Monitoring • Take Reporting • Species-Specific Measures • Observer Program biological sampling requirements
Progress Implementing RPMs & T&Cs Management Planning – Lead: PFMC in Coordination with NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Develop a Pacific Coast Groundfish and Endangered Species Workgroup (PCGW) - ✓ • Develop terms of reference - ✓ • Identify membership - ✓ • Convene on a biennial basis • first meeting- ✓
Progress Implementing (Cont.) Take Monitoring – Lead: Northwest Fisheries Science Center • Identify goals for minimum observer coverage levels to achieve fleet-wide take estimates, and • Develop a plan for implementation, once implemented meet/exceed minimum levels.
Progress Implementing (Cont.) Take Reporting – Lead: Northwest Fisheries Science Center • Characterize changes in fishing effort • By gear type that may result from implementing IFQ management program. • Report on biennial basis • Update reporting of take • Fleet-wide take reporting on a biennial basis • Annual tracking of observed take (observer programs and stranding networks) • Immediate notification (specific to whales and sea turtles)
Conservation Recommendations Eulachon – • Continue an adequate level of observation for the WA/OR/CA pink shrimp fishery. • Retain eulachon bycatch for archiving (whole body specimens), i.e., could be used for stock ID, diet, sex ratios, age, and general morphology measurements.
Conservation Recommendations Green Sturgeon – • Develop a range-wide abundance estimate for the Southern DPS green sturgeon. • Assess the effects of bottom trawl gear on bottom habitat within designated critical habitat of green sturgeon. • Continue to monitor state-managed fishery sectors that encounter green sturgeon (i.e., CA halibut bottom trawl sector) and at adequate coverage levels.
Conservation Recommendations Humpback Whales and Leatherback Sea Turtles– • Require or recommend visual marking that can be used to uniquely identify sablefish pot/trap gear. • Create electronic monitoring and logbook requirements for the sablefish pot/trap fishery that require fishers to document effort and lost gear. • Develop a database to track sablefish pot/trap fishing effort, locations, and lost fixed gear. • Summarize data on lost gear from the sablefish pot/trap fishery to evaluate the magnitude of gear loss and factors that may influence loss. • Promote retrieval of lost gear • Assess available technology to minimize loss of sablefish pot/trap gear and promote use of appropriate technology. • Investigate the practice of storing sablefish pot/trap gear in the ocean to evaluate the potential for conservation issues and any need for additional regulations. • (Just for Leatherback sea turtles) Assess feasibility of collecting data to assess bycatch of jellyfish in the trawl fisheries.