Amendment 15 to the FMP for the Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska Management Area
NOAA issues a final rule to implement Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The amendment revises the management goals and objectives and 1) establishes a single optimum yield range and an administrative framework procedure for setting annual harvest levels for each species category of groundfish: 2) establishes an administrative procedure for setting prohibited species catch limits for full utilized groundfish species applicable to joint venture and foreign fisheries; 3) revises an existing domestic reporting requirement for catcher/processor and mothership/ processor vessels; 4) establishes four time/area closures to non-pelagic trawling around Kodiak Island for a three-year period to protect king crab; and (5) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to make certain in-season changes to gear regulations seasons, and harvest quotas.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries is making other regulatory changes to clarify domestic reporting requirements. These additional regulatory changes are not part of Amendment 15, but are new interpretations of existing authority in the FMP. One of these additional changes was substantially altered in response to public comment. Hence, NOAA is re-proposing this one regulatory change and requesting additional public comment. The proposed rule will be published within 30 days.
The regulations implementing Amendment 15 and the additional regulatory changes in this rule are intended to implement conservation and management measures that respond to the best available biological and socioeconomic information on the status of the groundfish and king crab fisheries, while providing for full development and utilization of Gulf of Alaska groundfish resources.