NOAA Fisheries announces the release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, which analyzes the impacts of the proposed action to authorize fishing with deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) in federal waters off the U.S. West Coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (hereafter, the Council) recommended that NMFS authorize DSBG to fish in federal waters south of the Oregon-Washington border, based on data from DSBG trials under exempted fishing permits (EFPs). In its Final EIS, NMFS also includes data from DSBG EFP trials conducted in 2019 and 2020 to project potential impacts of authorizing the gear.
NOAA Fisheries published a Draft EIS for public review and comment on August 20, 2021. In this Final EIS, NOAA Fisheries describes the comments received and provides responses, as well as updates based on new information. The analysis in the Final EIS, overall, suggests that DSBG authorization is likely to have minor impacts on species in the action area, though rare interactions with marine mammals and sea turtles may occur. Additionally, the action is expected to have positive economic impacts by enabling U.S. fishermen to use the gear in federal waters off the U.S. West Coast to catch high quality swordfish and land them in local ports.
NOAA Fisheries invites interested parties to review the Final EIS for 30 days following its publication. On or before April 7th, 2023, NOAA Fisheries will publish a record of decision under NEPA as to whether to approve the amendment to authorize deep-set buoy gear. For more information, see: