National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS announces that the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 4 to the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP) for review by the Secretary of Commerce. The intent of Amendment 4 is to bring descriptions of the management context for highly migratory species (HMS) fisheries up to date, better describe the Council’s role in the process of making stock status determinations including evaluations of the best scientific information available (BSIA), and change the schedule of the Council’s three-meeting biennial management cycle for HMS stocks. The amendment is administrative in nature and is not expected to affect activities authorized under the FMP or their harvest levels.
Comments on Amendment 4 must be submitted received by March 26, 2018 to be considered in the decision whether to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 4.
The proposed changes to the HMS FMP are administrative in nature, do not involve the issuance of any permits, and are described in further detail below:
- The description of the stock status determination process in Chapter 4 of the current HMS FMP has been revised to account for the fact that the HMS management unit species are internationally assessed and that these stock assessments are not routinely subject to Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) review for purposes of determining BSIA, unlike assessments for domestically-managed stocks.
- Additionally, to better align the Council’s biennial management schedule with the NMFS’ process for conducting HMS stock status determinations, the schedule described in Chapter 5 of the FMP would be changed under the proposed amendment to the HMS FMP. The three-meeting biennial management cycle would take place during September, November, and March Council meetings instead of during June, September, and November meetings; however, the schedule would continue to start on even years.
- Chapters 1 and 6 in the FMP also have been substantially revised to better describe the management context (Chapter 1) and the types of measures available and in use to manage U.S. West Coast HMS fisheries (Chapter 6).
- Chapter 8 (Research and Data Needed for Management) is proposed to be deleted, because it is out of date. This information may be periodically updated and presented in the HMS Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report produced by the HMS Management Team and the Research and Data Needs Report produced periodically by the Council’s SSC.