By Bill Lundquist
Pilot Staff Writer
Options for the 2003 recreational and commercial groundfish fisheries were discussed in a conference call Tuesday morning by members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council Salmon Advisory Subcommittee.
Brookings fisherman Jim Welter, a member of the subcommittee, said he was faxed a copy of the options about 20 minutes before the conference call began.
He said the management council will decide on the options at its September meeting in Portland.
Welter said he preferred the least conservative options. He said they were about the only ones fishermen could live with.
The good news, said Welter, is that the council is not discussing any further restrictions for the recreational salmon fishery, except to possibly prohibit mooching.
The recreational groundfish fishery in Oregon is a different story.
The least conservative option would set a daily bag limit of 10 rockfish a day, with sublimits of one canary and one yelloweye rockfish.
Two lingcod, at least 24 inches long, could be caught a day. The minimum length for cabezon would be 16 inches.
The fishery would be open year round at all depths. It could be closed outside 27 fathoms if necessary.
The intermediate option contains all those restrictions, and closes the fishery outside 27 fathoms from June through October.
In the intermediate option, Oregon landings of nearshore groundfish would be capped at 2000 optimum yield levels, with a suboption to cap landings at 2002 optimum yield levels.
The most conservative recreational option would set a daily bag limit of 10 groundfish, including up to two lingcod at least 24 inches long. Canary and yelloweye rockfish could not be kept.
The season would not be open year round, and would not extend beyond 20 fathoms. Other restrictions were the same as the intermediate option.
Four options have been proposed for each of the commercial groundfish fisheries.
In the limited-entry trawl fishery, Option 1, the most conservative, would simply prohibit trawling in Northwest waters.
Option 2 would prohibit trawling inside 250 fathoms, except to allow a midwater trawl fishery for yelloweye and widow rockfish subject to time and area restrictions.
It would allow a Pacific whiting midwater trawl with possible depth restrictions.
Nearshore groundfish landings would be capped at 2000 optimum yield levels with a suboption to cap nearshore landings at 2002 optimum yield levels.
Option 3 would have the same restrictions, but would prohibit trawling inside 150 fathoms.
It would also consider seasonal flatfish opportunities inside a line approximating either 50, 75, 100, or 125 fathoms.
Option 4, the least conservative, would have most of the same restrictions as Option 3, but would prohibit trawling seasonally between 100 and 200 fathoms. A small footrope would be required inside 100 fathoms.
The limited-entry fixed gear groundfish fishery, under Option 1, would be closed inside 150 fathoms.
Sablefish would be limited to 600 pounds a week, and slope rockfish to 5,000 pounds every two months.
Option 2 would close the fishery inside 100 fathoms. Sablefish would be limited to 300 pounds a day and 800 pounds a week, and slope rockfish to 10,000 pounds in two months.
Option 3 would close the fishery inside 100 fathoms. The limit on sablefish would be the same as Option 2, but slope rockfish would be limited to 20,000 pounds in two months.
Option 4, the least conservative, would not close the fishery inside a line. It would have the same limit on sablefish as Options 2 and 3, but would allow 30,000 pounds of slope rockfish in two months.
The four options for the open access nearshore groundfish fishery would all restrict hook and line and pot fishing to the same depths as the recreational fishery.
All options would close the fishery between 150 fathoms and the deepest depth allowed for the recreational fishery.
All would cap nearshore groundfish limits at 2000 optimum yield levels with a suboption to cap them at 2002 optimum yield limits.
Up to 200 pounds of yellowtail, widow, and vermillion rockfish could be caught in any combination in two months.
Cabezon would have a 16 inch minimum size limit. Halibut and dogfish fishing would be limited to outside 150 fathoms, except for Option 4, where it would be outside 100 fathoms.
The main difference in the four options would be the limit for slope rockfish.
Option 1 would set the limit at 1,600 pounds in two months.
Option 2 would allow 7,600 pounds in two months. Option 3 would allow 10,000 pounds in two months. Option 4 would allow 12,500 pounds in two months.