The department says they are working on a new stock assessment model for 2017 that would be an age-structured assessment. If you have data or ideas on what you think the model should include this spring is a good time to contact the department and talk with them. The goal of the new model is to use more than the mark/recapture and longline survey data to determine sablefish abundance in Chatham. The new model will integrate fishery and survey data.
The current model, which will be used for 2016, assumes a closed population, or that fish do not migrate in and out of Chatham. The 2016 model also relys on the mark/recapture survey to determine abundance.
One of the major concerns the department has in the fishery is a large amount of females caught in the fishery. The longline survey, in comparison, has a younger age-composition and less females. If you have opinions on sablefish habits and pattens that could explain this the department would like to hear them. For example, the department wondered if fishermen thought that longer soak times resulted in larger fish, which results in a higher female count. The department also wanted to know if fishermen thought hook size affected the ratio of females caught. The industry encouraged the department to look at their logbook data that reports hook size to compare.
We had a great discussion on cross referencing processor fish ticket data with the port sampling data the department collects. The department and industry all agreed this is a great idea.
Due to budget cuts, the mark/recapture surveys will now take place every other year. The cost recovery longline survey will continue to be conducted annually. To reduce the amounts of sablefish taken out of the fishery, the department prefers to do these surveys with an industry permit holder. They are looking for up to three vessels and nine permits to contract with.
The estimated biomass for 2017 is 13.5 million round pounds or an ABC of 850,000 round pounds. This is approximately a 5% increase from 2016.
The department is looking to update their model to an age-structured assessment similar to the model used for the federal fishery. However, their biometrician left a few weeks ago and they will have to rehire for the position to work towards this new model. If this position is filled in time, they plan to show both the present model and age-structure model at the 2018 industry meeting. They may hold the meeting earlier next year for better attendance.
There is funding of the mark-recapture survey in 2017. This survey is done every other year and the data contributes to projecting the following yeas biomass, so this years survey will be reflected in 2018. The mark-recapture survey takes place May-June and the longline survey lasts about 7 days beginning July 7th. The stations for the LL survey are not the same each year. Funding of these surveys looks good for the future, currently there are no cuts to southeast for FY18.
Bruce Twomley, chairman of CFEC attended the meeting. There will be 78 permits in the NSEI fishery again this year including 72 permanent and 6 interim use. He also spoke about the SSEI fishery. There will be a final hearing to make their decision on pots March 13, however, he told us they had informally decided to approve and adopt pots for the fishery.
The federal harvest rate for sablefish is F40, and changes along with their age-structure biomass estimate. The state’s harvest rate is more conservative and currently set at a fixed rate of F50. If they switch to an age-structure model, they will be able to adjust their harvest rate with the biomass.
There was a discussion on how logbook CPUEs contribute to projecting the biomass and whether boats are fishing closer to port with lower CPUEs due to the small quotas and affecting the biomass estimates since they partially rely on logbook data. It was asked how the mark-recapture accounts for fish traveling in and out of Chatham and Federal waters. There is a mortality rate set for tagged fish at 10% and this is meant to account for the travelers, there is a separate rate for fish entering Chatham as well to account for migration.
Logbooks have changed for 2017, to reflect pots since state logbooks can be used for both the state and federal fisheries. There will also be a section to report whales seen while hauling and the amount of damaged fish in a set. It was noted that some fishermen use their IPHC logbooks for sablefish and there is no section to report this data on those logbooks.
Data trends show that sablefish are growing faster than they did in the past. From 1994-present, sablefish are heavier and longer at age than historical data.
ALFA has a project to supply vessels with a ‘Towed Array Hydrophone’ line. This is a 50’ cable that drags behind a vessel and notifies you when it picks up whale noises within 2-8nm. This would be used to help fishermen identifies areas without whales to set their gear. If you are interested in this project, contact ALFA at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget, we have free bird avoidance lines available at the office. Pot fishermen will not be required to use bird avoidance lines.