Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Subsistence Harvest Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
Analysis of the alternatives for a long-term subsistence harvest of Cook Inlet beluga whales.
NOAA Fisheries proposes to implement a long-term harvest plan to manage subsistence harvest of the Cook Inlet, Alaska, beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). The purpose of this action is twofold: to recover the Cook Inlet beluga stock and to fulfill the Federal Government’s trust responsibility to recognize Alaska Native traditional cultural and nutritional needs for subsistence harvest. Four alternatives are evaluated for a long-term harvest plan where three alternatives allow for a subsistence harvest without preventing or unreasonably delaying the recovery of the stock. NOAA’s proposed action is to implement the plan and, based on periodic population assessments, determine whether a subsistence harvest can be permitted under the terms and conditions of the management plan. Harvests will be controlled by federal regulations and co-management agreements with Native organizations residing in the Cook Inlet region.