Council Guide: Part II: Components of the Council System

The Council system is composed of Council members, Council staff, advisory bodies who advise the Council, and the public, which participates in Council decisionmaking both directly and indirectly.

Council Members

The Council has 14 voting members and five non-voting members. The voting Council members include:

  • The directors of state fish and wildlife departments from California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, or their designees.
  • The Regional Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (West Coast Region) or his or her designee.
  • A representative of a federally-recognized West Coast Native American tribe.
  • Eight private citizens who are familiar with the fishing industry, marine conservation, or both. These citizens are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce from lists submitted by the governors of the member states. They include one “obligatory member” from each state, which ensures that someone from each state is represented. The other four are “at-large” members who may come from any state.

There are also five non-voting members who assist the Council in decisionmaking. They represent:

  • The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, which coordinates data and research for the Pacific states.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which serves in an advisory role.
  • The State of Alaska, because both fish and the people who fish for them migrate to and from Alaskan waters.
  • The U.S. Department of State, which is concerned about management decisions that have international implications.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard, which is concerned about enforcement and safety issues.

Obligatory, at-large, and tribal members serve three-year terms and may not serve more than three consecutive terms. The private citizens on the Council are paid for the time they spend in Council meetings, but not for the time they spend preparing for meetings or working with constituents.

Financial Interest of Members

Council members’ financial interests are important because they could influence how members make decisions. Council members may have a financial interest in any harvesting, processing, or marketing activity as long as they disclose the extent of this interest to the public. This ensures that knowledgeable fishing industry members can serve on the Council. Council members are not allowed to vote on matters that would benefit only them or a minority of other people within the same sector or gear group. Financial disclosure forms are available for public inspection at the Council office, at Council meetings, and on the Council Members Biographies and Financial Disclosure webpage.

The Council Staff

Council staff support the Council by providing information for management decisions, informing the public about Council activities, helping the public participate in the process, coordinating the process and meetings, creating fishery management documents, and assisting advisory groups.

The Council staff consists of an Executive Director, Deputy Director, support staff, and staff officers. Staff officers oversee each fishery management plan (groundfish, coastal pelagic species, highly migratory species, and salmon), and also focus on economics, social science, habitat, and outreach and education. There are typically 15 Council staff members.

The Council is a nonprofit organization; as such, the Council staff are not federal government employees. The Executive Director carries out tasks assigned by the Council and, with the Deputy Director, directs and oversees the staff.

Advisory Bodies

The Council decisionmaking process includes several types of advisory bodies. Advisory bodies usually meet during the Council week, and sometimes between Council meetings. During the Council meeting, the advisory bodies prepare comments on relevant agenda items and provide them in written and oral form to the Council. Advisory body meetings are open to the public.

Advisory subpanels advise the Council from the perspective of the commercial and recreational fishing industry, the conservation community, and the public. The Council currently has five advisory subpanels:

  • Groundfish Advisory Subpanel (GAP). This subpanel includes three fixed gear (at-large) commercial fishers, one conservation representative, two processors, one at-sea processor, three sport fishers, two open access fishers, three trawlers, four charter boat operators (one each for Washington and Oregon, and two for California), and one tribal fisher. See the current GAP roster.
  • Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (CPSAS). This subpanel includes three California commercial fishers, one Oregon commercial fisher, one Washington commercial fisher, three processors (one from each coastal state), one California charter or sport fisher, and one conservation representative. See the current CPSAS roster.
  • Highly Migratory Species Advisory Subpanel (HMSAS). This subpanel includes one member each from the commercial troll, purse seine, gillnet, and charter fisheries; one recreational at-large fisher and one private recreational fisher; three commercial at-large members; two processors; one public-at large member; and one conservation representative. See the current HMSAS roster.
  • Salmon Advisory Subpanel (SAS). Currently, this group comprises two tribal representatives (from the Washington coast, and California); one gillnetter; three charter boat operators and three trollers (one from each coastal state); four sport fishers (one from each state, including Idaho); one processor; and one conservation representative. See the current SAS roster.
  • Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel (EAS). See the current EAS roster.

Other Advisory Groups

The Scientific and Statistical Committee is composed of scientists from tribal, state, and federal agencies, academic institutions, and other sources. The SSC provides multidisciplinary peer review for the Council. This includes reviewing stock assessments, assessment methods, and biological, economic, and social impact analyses. The SSC also reviews the qualifications of technical team and SSC members. The SSC has subcommittees that focus on salmon, groundfish, highly migratory species, coastal pelagic species, ecosystem-based management, and economics. See the current SSC roster.

The Habitat Committee (HC) works with other teams and advisory bodies on habitat issues that affect Council managed stocks. The group helps develop ways to resolve habitat problems and avoid future habitat conflicts, and it makes recommendations for actions that will help achieve the Council’s habitat objectives. The HC includes one member each from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the National Marine Sanctuary program; one NMFS region representative and one NMFS science center representative; one at-large member; one conservation representative; four members from the four state fishery agencies; two tribal representatives; one commercial and one sport fishing industry members. See the current HC roster.

The Enforcement Consultants are law enforcement representatives from state police agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, NMFS West Coast, and the Coast Guard. They provide advice to the Council about whether proposed management actions are enforceable and how they affect safety at sea. There are seven enforcement consultants. See the current EC roster.

The Groundfish Allocation Committee (GAC) is charged with developing options for allocating certain groundfish species among the commercial and recreational sectors and among gear groups within the commercial sector. The purpose of the GAC is to distribute the harvestable surplus among competing interests in a way that resolves allocation issues on a short- or long-term basis. The GAC is composed of voting members who sit on the Council (one representative each from the state management agencies, NMFS, PSMFC, and the Council Chair). NOAA Northwest Regional Counsel provides legal advice. In addition, there are seven nonvoting advisors representing the non-whiting trawl, whiting trawl, fixed gear, open access, and recreational sectors; conservation groups; and processors. See the current list of GAC members.

Plan, technical, and management teams (such as the Groundfish Management Team, Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team, Highly Migratory Species Management Team, Salmon Technical Team, and Salmon Model Evaluation Workgroup, provide objective scientific information about their respective fisheries to the Council. They contribute to the development of fishery management plans and amendments, develop relevant analyses, compile abundance forecasts (in the case of the Salmon Technical Team), contribute to Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation documents, review models, and conduct other scientific tasks in support of decisionmaking.

Ad hoc committees are created to serve special, usually shortterm needs. Ad hoc committees that have existed in the recent past include the Ad Hoc Allocation Committee, Ad Hoc Groundfish Strategic Plan Implementation Oversight Committee, Ad Hoc Observer Program Implementation Committee, Ad Hoc Marine Protected Areas Committee, Ad Hoc Groundfish Habitat Technical Review Committee, and Ad Hoc Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat Environmental Impact Statement Oversight Committee. See the current list and composition of ad-hoc committees.