Amendment 94 to the FMP for the Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NOAA Fisheries hereby issues a final rule that implements Amendment 94 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. Amendment 94 requires participants using nonpelagic trawl gear in the directed fishery for flatfish in the Bering Sea subarea to modify the trawl gear to raise portions of the gear off the ocean bottom. Amendment 94 also changes the boundaries of the Northern Bering Sea Research Area to establish the Modified Gear Trawl Zone and to expand the Saint Matthew Island Habitat Conservation Area. Nonpelagic trawl gear also is required to be modified to raise portions of the gear off the ocean bottom if used in any directed fishery for groundfish in the MGTZ. This action is necessary to reduce potential adverse effects of nonpelagic trawl gear on bottom habitat, to protect additional blue king crab habitat near St. Matthew Island, and to allow for efficient flatfish harvest as the distribution of flatfish in the Bering Sea changes. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.