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Draft Biological Opinion on 10 Fishery Management Plans Released

January 15, 2021

Draft Biological Opinion on 10 Fishery Management Plans in the Greater Atlantic Region and the New England Fishery Management Council's Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 Released for Feedback

Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each federal agency shall ensure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat of such species. When the action of a federal agency may affect marine species listed as threatened or endangered, that agency is required to consult with the NOAA Fisheries or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In instances where NOAA Fisheries is proposing an action that may affect listed species, the agency must conduct intra-service consultation.

The Sustainable Fisheries Division of NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office has reinitiated formal intra-service consultation with the Protected Resources Division on the authorization of fisheries under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act and on the implementation of the New England Fisheries Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2. Fisheries included in the consultation:

  1. American Lobster
  2. Atlantic Bluefish
  3. Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab
  4. Mackerel/Squid/Butterfish
  5. Monkfish
  6. Northeast Multispecies
  7. Northeast Skate Complex
  8. Spiny Dogfish
  9. Summer Flounder/Scup/Black Sea Bass
  10. Jonah Crab

These fisheries are considered in one comprehensive consultation.

In assessing the impact of the various fisheries on the North Atlantic right whale through both the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team process under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and as part of this consultation under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries identified that mortality and serious injury of North Atlantic right whales in federal fisheries managed by the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office needs to be further reduced.

Therefore, NOAA Fisheries developed and is committed to implementing the North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Framework for Federal Fisheries in the Greater Atlantic Region to further reduce entanglements and mortality and serious injury of North Atlantic right whales. The Framework outlines NOAA Fisheries’ commitment to implement measures that are necessary for the recovery of right whales, while providing a phased approach and flexibility to the fishing industry. 

The draft Biological Opinion also includes analysis of the effects of the New England Fisheries Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2 on listed species.

NOAA Fisheries, as the action agency, has chosen to make the draft Biological Opinion available for review until February 19, 2021, after which a final Biological Opinion will be developed. Our goal is to ensure the information and analyses in the draft Biological Opinion are complete and accurate.

Relevant information and feedback can be provided to nmfs.gar.fisheriesbiopfeedback@noaa.gov.

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on January 15, 2021