Earlier last week, NOAA Fisheries announced that they are considering changes to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan and we will be monitoring and reviewing this further and providing comments soon. There are currently five major changes being considered.
- Reassessing the objectives of the current HMS management plan (an action that needs to done regularly) by combining, altering, removing, or adding to them. The 16 objectives are listed on page 7 of the scoping document.
- Reviewing the standardized bycatch reporting methodology (SBRM, which is how data on bycatch is collected, recorded, and reported) for certain highly migratory species fisheries. This review is done regularly and necessary to ensure that there is a SBRM for all highly migratory species fisheries, the existing ones are updated, and that everyone has access to the descriptions of these protocols.
- Reviewing the stock status determination criteria (SDC) for internationally managed highly migratory species. This would consider the appropriateness and applicability of adopting international SDC for internationally-managed HMS stocks. Changing this could allow for species to have the same stock status (ex. overfished, not overfished) both domestically and internationally, which could have implications for management of that fishery.
- Adopting allocation triggers for quota-managed species. Adopting allocation triggers would standardize when and why NOAA Fisheries changes the quota allocation of a fishery and would ensure that quota allocation decisions are being made on a regular basis for standardized reasons.
- Adding flexibility to the publication date of the annual HMS Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (HMS SAFE) Report. The HMS SAFE report summarizes the biological condition of fish stocks, stock complexes, and marine ecosystems, as well as the social and economic condition of commercial, recreational, and other fishing-related industries.
Public comment on these potential changes is open until November 11th, 2019. The scoping meeting is open to the public online, information for attending can be found here. For more information and to stay up-to-date on current fishery management, subscribe to the TBF newsletter, or follow us on social media, @TheBillfishFoundation.