Draft Categorical Exclusion for the Proposed Rule to Modify the Halibut Individual Fishing Quota Vessel Harvest Limitations for the 2023 through 2027 fishing years in IFQ Regulatory Areas 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D
Draft analysis determining the Proposed Rule to Modify the Halibut Individual Fishing Quota Vessel Harvest Limitations for the 2023 through 2027 fishing years in IFQ Regulatory Areas 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D is categorically excluded from further NEPA review.
The proposed action would temporarily remove Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) halibut vessel caps for the remainder of the 2023 fishing year through the 2027 fishing year in IFQ regulatory areas 4A (Eastern Aleutian Islands), 4B (Central and Western Aleutian Islands), 4C (Central Bering Sea), and 4D (Eastern Bering Sea). This proposed rule would not modify other elements of the IFQ Program, nor would it increase or otherwise modify the annual halibut catch limits or any other conservation measures. The Council recommended this action to provide continued temporary flexibility to IFQ participants in IPHC Area 4 while the Council analyzes longer term adjustments to vessel use through the Council and public review process.
Based on this draft analysis, NOAA has determined that the proposed action falls within the category of actions subject to Categorical Exclusion (CE) identified in Appendix E of NOAA’s Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A, A1 - Trust Resource Management Actions--a category of actions that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment; is not connected to a larger action (40 CFR1501.9(e)(1)); and does not involve extraordinary circumstances precluding use of the CE. As such, NOAA has determined that it is categorically excluded from further NEPA review.