Rockfish Required Retention in Federal Waters

As a result of the North Pacific Council action taken in December of 2019, beginning March 23, 2020, NMFS has new rockfish retention requirements.

This action contains two main provisions:

  1. requiring full retention and landing of rockfish by CVs using hook-and-line, pot, or jig gear while fishing for groundfish or halibut in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the BSAI or GOA, even if the species of rockfish is closed to directed fishing or on prohibited species status.
  2. limiting the amount of rockfish that can enter commerce, the maximum commerce allowance (MCA). The MCA would limit the amount of rockfish allowed to enter commerce through barter, sale, or trade. Rockfish in excess of these limits could not be sold but could be kept for personal use, donated, processed into fishmeal, or discarded by processing plant personnel.

The MCA for rockfish is 15%, of which 5% can be yelloweye rockfish in all areas, except the Southeast Outside District of the GOA (SEO). Current full retention requirements for demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) in the SEO remain unchanged.

Here is an example of how the MCA works:
A CV operator retains all rockfish during an IFQ halibut trip in the Central GOA and delivers 1,000 pounds of halibut and 200 pounds of various rockfish species, of which 50 pounds is yelloweye rockfish. The MCA for rockfish is 150 pounds (1,000 * 0.15). The MCA for yelloweye rockfish is 50 pounds (1,000 * 0.05). The CV operator could sell all yelloweye rockfish and 100 pounds of other rockfish species. Fifty pounds of rockfish could not enter commerce but could be kept for personal use, donated, processed into fishmeal, or discarded by processing plant personnel.

Questions and be directed to Josh Keaton at (907) 586-7519 or josh.keaton@noaa.gov.

Rockfish retention requirements for commercial fisheries in the state waters of Southeast have not changed. Below is a map for reference:

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