NOAA recently released an informational document with FAQ's regarding the recently approved sablefish pot fishery in the Gulf of Alaska. See the full FAQ document by clicking here.
Why is NMFS authorizing longline pot gear for the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery?
Beginning in 2009, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and NMFS received reports from fishermen that there have been numerous whale interactions with the sablefish IFQ fleet in the GOA. Sperm whale depredation on hook-and-line fishing gear is most common in the Central GOA, West Yakutat District, and Southeast Outside District sablefish areas and killer whale depredation is most common in the Western GOA and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. While sperm whale depredation events are difficult to quantify on a per-vessel basis, fishery participants indicated that depredation continues to be a major cost to the sablefish IFQ fishery through reduced catch per unit effort and increased operating costs. The Council and NMFS determined that authorizing longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery could reduce the adverse impacts of depredation for those vessel operators who choose to switch from hook-and-line gear. The Council recommended and NMFS implemented regulations to authorize, but not require, the use of longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery beginning with the 2017 fishing season.