NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would implement federal management of commercial and recreational salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone. Previously, salmon management in these federal waters was deferred to the State of Alaska and fishing occurred without respect to the EEZ boundary.
This action—Amendment 16 and the proposed rule—would result in separate federal management of salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ. The State of Alaska would continue to manage all salmon fishing within state waters.
Federal management would implement new requirements for commercial drift gillnet vessels fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ. Fishing in the EEZ would occur on Mondays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. beginning on or after June 19 each year until either the total allowable catch is taken or August 15. Commercial fishing vessels would have to obtain a federal permit, maintain a fishing logbook, and have a vessel monitoring system installed on their vessels. Commercial fishing vessels would not be allowed to participate in the federal fishery at the same time as participating in the state water fishery.
Processors and buyers receiving deliveries of salmon commercially caught in the Cook Inlet EEZ would have to obtain a federal permit. They would also need to report deliveries using the eLandings system.
Recreational anglers and charter operators fishing for salmon in the Cook Inlet EEZ would have to check federal regulations to ensure they are in compliance with bag and possession limits.
NOAA Fisheries developed this action after considering input from all affected stakeholders and tribes. It adheres to all Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements.
If approved, this proposed action would be effective for the 2024 salmon fishing season.
We developed Amendment 16 to address a Ninth Circuit court ruling requiring federal management of salmon fishing in the Cook Inlet EEZ in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
The management measures proposed under this action are designed to address identified challenges and minimize burden to the extent practicable while comprehensively fulfilling all federal requirements.
How to Comment
A copy of the notice of availability and proposed rule to implement Amendment 16 is available online. The public comment period on Amendment 16 is open for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Comments must be received no later than December 18, 2023.
Address comments to Gretchen Harrington, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, and identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2023-0065.
Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
- Electronic Submission: via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal
- Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668
We will respond to all public comments received on this action following the close of the 60-day comment period. We will make any required modifications prior to publishing a final rule.