7 GULF OF ALASKA POLLOCK

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1 7 GULF OF ALASKA POLLOCK 7.1 Introduction For the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) pollock fishery, the Principle 1 and 2 PIs were mapped against the following indicators within the stated reports: FAM PI: Assessment Report (2005) Stock status Reference points Stock rebuilding Retained Bycatch ETP Performance Indicator: Current stock sizes are assessed to be above appropriate limit reference points The harvest control rule is based on appropriate limits to the maximum exploitation rate Provides for rebuilding and recovery, where applicable The harvest strategy can be shown to be precautionary There are assessments of significant by-product. (In the report under P1). - (no criterion directly relating to extent of discards) Assessments are conducted to identify and estimate impacts of the fishery on protected, endangered, threatened or icon The fishery is conducted in a manner, which does not have unacceptable impacts on biological diversity at the genetic, or population level of endangered, threatened or protected Habitats Assessments are conducted to identify & estimate impacts of the fishery on habitats, especially on essential fish habitat (EFH) or critical habitat for protected, endangered, threatened or icon, which are necessary to manage the fishery to minimise identified impacts Ecosystems Research is carried out to allow impacts of the fishery on the biodiversity & structure of invertebrate & vertebrate communities in relevant habitats to be identified, measured, & understood in terms of functional relationships Reassessment Report (2010) Performance Indicator: The stock is at a level which maintains high productivity and has a low probability of recruitment overfishing Limit and target reference points are appropriate for the stock Where the stock is depleted, there is evidence of stock rebuilding The fishery does not pose a risk of serious or irreversible harm to the retained and does not hinder recovery of depleted retained The fishery does not pose a risk of serious or irreversible harm to the bycatch or groups and does not hinder recovery of depleted bycatch or groups The fishery does not pose a risk of serious or irreversible harm to ETP and does not hinder recovery of ETP The fishery does not cause serious or irreversible harm to habitat structure, considered on a regional or bioregional basis, and function The fishery does not cause serious or irreversible harm to the key elements of ecosystem structure and function. SCS undertook the initial assessment (2005) and Moody Marine took over from SR1 completing all of the SRs and the reassessment (2010). 38

2 7.2 Principle 1 Principle 1 - FAM reference (PI) April: Assessment Report May: SR1 May: SR2 May: SR3 June: SR4 Sept: Re-Assessment Report Year Stock Renamed status score Condition COC2 ongoing On-going On-going closed Reference point score Stock rebuilding Condition Renamed COC1 ongoing On target 90 closed n/a Figure 1. Total estimated abundance (numbers in 000,000s) from the age structured assessment model Source: AFSC, 2009 Figure 2. TAC in GoA Source: AFSC,

3 Figure 3. stock biomass trend for GOA Pollock Source: Ianelli et al. (2010) Indicator trend The estimated abundance of the GOA pollock stock (by number) from the age structured assessment model shows an increase since certification in 2005 (AFSC, 2009) (Figure 1 and 3). This increase had followed decreasing abundance in the years before certification. Since certification, the TAC decreased from 90,690t in 2005 to 43,270t in 2009 a reduction of over 50%. AR (2005) suggested that there had been significant enough concern about the status of the GOA pollock stock for the NMFS to recommend lower TACs than previous years. The importance of TACs as an indicator was highlighted by the NMFS, who said that the most important element regulating pollock exploitation is the annual setting of quotas or TACs PI correlation In AR (2005), stock status was scored at 70, which triggered the requirement for a rebuilding strategy to be in place and assessed against the MSC standard. Such a rebuilding strategy was, in turn, scored at 75. The standard set by the reference point PI was met and given a score of 85, therefore there was no need for conditions. The stock did not score over 80, but did score over 60 because, at the time,... the current low level of absolute abundance and its possible wider ecological impacts (especially for predators). However the evaluation team takes note of the possibility that much of the decline in abundance may be due to environmental factors, and that the stock appears in general to have been responsibly managed as far as exploitation rates are concerned. Stock status was rescored to 80 in SR4 (2009) and again to 90 in RAR (2010). The rebuilding strategy was rescored to 90 in RAR (2010) and not required to be assessed/scored in the RAR (2010) because stock status had been scored at 90 and the reference point had been scored at Conditions Conditions were raised against stock status and rebuilding strategy. The first condition, raised against stock status, focused on the need to decipher the variety of opinions and uncertainty surrounding the state of the stock. It required testing of alternative harvest strategies and increased 40

4 reliability of the surveys and certainty of the impacts on recruitment variability and abundance. A condition was set against the rebuilding strategy due to the fact that the stock had been in decline for 15 years, it required evaluation and testing of new harvest strategies. In SR1 (2006), the conditions were renamed as CC1 and CC2 and work towards meeting them was reported as ongoing, which remained the same in SR2 (2007). In SR3 (2008), COC2 was closed out because the CB concluded that the level of testing of the harvest strategy had been extensive and demonstrated that it was precautionary and robust to known sources of uncertainty in data (SR3 2008). The work on CC2 remained on target in 2008 and was closed out in the following SR4 (2009) because of a) the work on CC1 and b) strong evidence that management had applied the control rule under exceptionally adverse environmental conditions which was considered to demonstrate that the management of the fishery was in full compliance with the MSC standards for sustainable use of the target. 7.3 Principle 2 Principle 2 - FAM reference (PI) April: Assessment Report May: SR1 May: SR2 May: SR3 June: SR4 Sept: Re-Assessment Report Year Retained Bycatch n/a ETP Habitats Ecosystems condition 79 condition condition condition COC8 raised COC10 raised COC5 Pt 1 closed Pt 2 on-going Pt 3 on-going Both on-going COC5 Pt 2 on-going Pt 3 on-going 80 Part 1 & 2 closed out with COCs 1-4 On-going 85 closed out COC5 Pt 2 on-going Pt 3 on-going COC6 On target Open COC5 85 closed out Pt 2 outstanding? 85 closed out Condition 1 & 2 raised

5 Figure 4. Bycatch of prohibited for trawls in the GoA during where pollock was the predominant in the catch Source: AFSC,2009 Figure 5. Bycatch of prohibited for trawls in the GoA during where pollock was the predominant in the catch. Source: AFSC, 2009 Figure 6. Historical trends in GOA walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, arrowtooth flounder, and Steller Sea Lion populations, from stock assessment data. Source: AFSC,

6 Figure 7. Number of adult and juvenile Steller sea lions at rookery & haulout trend sites throughout the range of the western U.S. stock in Alaska Source: Allen & Angliss, Indicator trend Pollock are an important part of the food web in the GOA with the five main sources of mortality by relative importance as follows: arrowtooth flounder Atheresthes stomias, Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis, Pacific cod Gadus macrocephalus, SSL, and the pollock trawl fishery. None of the predators rely on pollock for more than 50% of their total consumption (AFSC, 2009). Arrowtooth flounder is not a prohibited and is the most reliant of all of the predators on pollock; it has shown an increase in abundance over time and shows no evidence of decline in size at age (Figure 6). In the same period, halibut have shown a decrease in weight at age and the Steller sea lion have shown a decrease in survival rate (Figure 7). The population trend for the western US stock of the Steller sea lion shows regional variation with causes for the trend remaining uncertain (Allen and Angliss, 2009). The eastern GOA population showed an increase of 35%, whereas the western and central GOA increased between 2004 and 2007 but declined slightly between 2007 and The increase in the eastern GOA was considered to be due to movement of animals from Southeast Alaska (Allen and Angliss, 2009). The incidents of bycatch for herring, bairdi tanner crab and red king crab have almost fallen to zero (Figures 4 and 5). At the time of certification, the incidents of halibut bycatch were almost zero. They then rose to 135 t by 2007 and then decreased slightly to 120 t in 2008 (Figure 5). Despite an increase in number of bycatch in 2006, levels of non-chinook salmon remain approximately the same as at certification (Figure 4). Since certification, the levels of bycatch of chinook salmon have fluctuated but in 2008 bycatch decreased to 10,382 t down from 13,152 t in 2005 (Figure 4). Estimates of seabird and marine mammal bycatch in the fishery are low, with only 1.3 Steller sea lions per annum caught between The seabird rate was at 0 to 0.11 birds/1000 t between (RAR, 2010) PI correlation Retained /Bycatch / In AR (2005) retained was scored at 90, and therefore no conditions were set against it. In RAR (2010), retained scored 90 and bycatch scored 80, meaning again that no conditions were set against these PIs. 43

7 ETP The impacts on ETP were originally assessed as not meeting the MSC standard, with the original two ETP PIs both scoring 79. Conditions were set and work on them was reported as ongoing in SR1 and SR2. In SR3 (2008), part 1 of the relevant conditions was rescored at 80 and work on parts 2 and 3 remained ongoing. These parts were closed out and rescored at 85 in SR4 (2009). RAR (2010) rescored ETP PI at 75 and raised a condition against it. Habitats Habitats was originally scored in AR (2005) at 79 with conditions set against the PI. The conditions were ongoing until they were closed out and rescored in SR4 (2009) at 85. In RAR (2010) the scored was raised further to 90. Ecosystem Ecosystem was originally scored in AR (2005) at 79 with a condition set against the PI. The condition was ongoing until it was closed out and rescored in SR4 (2009) at 85. In RAR (2010) the score was raised further to Conditions In AR (2005) conditions were raised against PIs and not issued with condition numbers, and there were often a few parts to complete before the requirement for the full condition could be closed out. The SRs started to categorise and number the conditions, but they still had a few parts to one condition, these were categorised as parts in the reports and closed off separately, but the full condition would not be rescored until all of the parts had been satisfied. No conditions were raised against bycatch or retained for the duration of the certification period. ETP AR (2005) set a condition against the ETP PI with the objective to assessing impacts of the fishery on SSL by conducting research and experiments. SR1 (2006) determined two conditions to address ETP issues: COC8 (addressing PI 2.3.1) The fishery is conducted in a manner, which does not have unacceptable impacts on biological diversity at the genetic, or population level of endangered, threatened or protected.and COC10 (addressing PI 1.2) Assessments are conducted to identify and estimate impacts of the fishery on protected, endangered, threatened or icon. COC8 was closed out in SR3 (2007) when the CB considered that the impacts on ETPs had been monitored satisfactorily and an industry based solution to reducing bycatch was being implemented. COC10 was closed out in SR4 (2009) because the direct and indirect impacts of the fishery on ETP and icon had been studied and was considered to be below a level that would cause harm to population sizes, including to the SSL. RAR (2010) raised Condition 2 against a) SSL and b) Chinook salmon. In the RAR (2010) the team were unable to conclude that the fishery was not significantly impacting the western population of Steller sea lions. Condition 1 was raised in the RAR specifically against Chinook salmon stocks to determine the level of threat of the fishery to the recovery of the stocks (RAR 2010). Habitats AR (2005) raised a condition against a habitats PI with three parts: 1) determine impact on SSLCH, 2) review gear loss and 3) discards affects on seabirds. In SR1 (2006) part 1 was closed as the CB considered it had been satisfactorily met. Part 3 was closed out in SR4 (2009) with the completion of the work of Zador et al. (2008) and Zador and Fritzgerald (2008), which increased research on the extent of seabird bycatch; the low, seasonal overlap between short-tailed albatross and the pollock trawl fishery; and measures to mitigate fishery effects on seabirds. Part 2 gear loss was not specifically ever closed out in the SRs. In the RAR (2010) gear loss from the pollock fishery was not 44

8 considered a problem because although damage to nets occurs, whole nets are never lost and analysis of recovered net fragments identified them to be of non-us origin. Ecosystem AR (2005) identified that deficiencies in this PI needed the following condition to be completed before the condition had been met: SSL-predator, pollock-prey relationships, quantities and distribution to be described and initiated with consequences to management identified. This condition was titled COC6 in SR1 (2006) evaluate the extent to which a body of knowledge exists to permit the impacts of the fishery to be identified, and discriminated from impacts due to other factors such as natural variations in environmental conditions. This involves both a research plan and an implementation strategy. In this condition the following tasks were outlined: 1a) assess the relationships between SSL foraging behaviour and pollock-as-prey abundance at the regional scale (related to pollock stock size and geographical distribution); and 1b) the relationships between SSL foraging behaviour and pollock-as-prey abundance at the local scale related to putative fish school disruption caused by trawling in localized areas. The second task: to assess recent research concerning alternative hypotheses about the cause of the decline of the western stock of SSL s. COC6 was closed out in SR4 (2009) due to the continuing and extensive efforts to understand the effect of the pollock fishery on Steller sea lions, and in reference to the original 80 Scoring Guideposts which require a continuing research programme to be in place, the surveillance team is of the opinion that the condition has been reasonably met. 7.4 References Alaskan Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) (2009) GoA Pollock stock assessment. Available from: (Accessed 04/11/2010). MSC (2009) Net Benefits report. Available from: (Accessed 08/10/2010). Ianelli JN, Barbeaux S, Honkalehto T, Kotwicki S, Aydin K, et al. (2010) Assessment of the walleye pollock stock in the Eastern Bering Sea. Available: Accessed 5 July NMFS (2010) Fishwatch: Pollock. Available from: (Accessed 08/10/2010). The following documents from the MSC website were used as reference material in this case study: Assessment Report (AR) (2005) SR1 (2006) SR2 (2007) SR3 (2008) SR4 (2009) Re- Assessment Report (2010) 1/GOA_final_certification_report_V3_ pdf 1/GoA_Surveillance_Report_No1_2006.pdf 1/GoA_Surveillance_Report_No2_2007.pdf Pollock-Fishery-Surveillance-Report pdf 1/ %20GoA%20Pollock%20Fishery%204th%20Annual%20Surveillance%20Report.pdf 1/GOA-Pollock-Public-Certification-Report.pdf 45

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