NOAA Fisheries, in coordination with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, is announcing its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a bycatch management program for Gulf of Alaska trawl groundfish fisheries.
The bycatch management program would replace a derby-style fishery with a program that allocates allowable harvest to individuals, cooperatives, or other entities. The program is intended to:
- Improve stock conservation by imposing accountability measures for utilizing bycatch and target species;
- Create incentives to eliminate wasteful fishing practices;
- Provide mechanisms for participants to control and reduce bycatch in the trawl groundfish fisheries;
- Improve safety of life at sea by reducing incentives to fish during unsafe conditions;
- Improve operational efficiencies;
- Support the continued participation of coastal communities that are dependent on the fisheries.
NOAA Fisheries and the Council have determined the preparation of an EIS may be required for this bycatch management program because some important aspects of the proposed action on target and bycatch species and their users may be uncertain or unknown and may result in significant impacts on the human environment not previously analyzed. Thus, NOAA Fisheries and the Council are initiating scoping for an EIS in the event an EIS is needed, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).
NOAA Fisheries and the Council are seeking information from the public through the EIS scoping process to identify the issues of concern and assist the Council in determining the appropriate range of management alternatives for the EIS, and on the environmental, social, and economic issues to be considered in the analysis.
Written comments generated during this scoping process will be provided to the Council and incorporated into the EIS for the proposed action. Comments will be accepted through August 28, 2015. Please submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2014-0150, by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submission: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0150
Mail: Glenn Merrill
Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division
Alaska Region NMFS
Attn: Ellen Sebastian
P.O. Box 21668
Juneau, AK 99802-1668.
For more information, contact Rachel Baker, (907) 586-7228 or email email@example.com.