Environmental Impact Statement on Phase 2 Modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan
NOAA Fisheries intends to begin a rulemaking process that will amend the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (Plan) to reduce the risk of mortalities and serious injuries of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and other large whales caused by entanglement in commercial trap/pot and gillnet fisheries along the U.S. East Coast. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze the impacts to the environment of alternatives to amend the Plan. This notice informs the public of upcoming scoping meetings to solicit public input on Phase 2 of our efforts to reduce the risk of entanglement to right, humpback, and fin whales in U.S. commercial fisheries managed under the Plan. Phase 1, a final rule implementing new modifications to reduce mortalities and serious injuries caused by incidental entanglement in the northeast American lobster and Jonah crab trap/pot fishery, is anticipated shortly, and was analyzed in a Final Environmental Impact Statement released (FEIS) on July 2, 2021. Phase 2 focuses on risk reduction in U.S. East Coast gillnet, Atlantic mixed species trap/pot, and Mid-Atlantic lobster and Jonah crab trap/pot fisheries.