EA/RIR/FRFA Amendment 94 to the BSAI Groundfish FMP to Require Trawl Sweep Modification in the BS Flatfish Fishery, Establish a Modified Gear Trawl Zone, and Revise Boundaries of the Northern BS Research Area and St. Matthew Is. Habitat Conservation Area
Environmental Assessment/ Regulatory Impact Review/ Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis of Amendment 94 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands requiring elevating devices on trawl sweeps.
The regulations require elevating devices on trawl sweeps to raise them off the seafloor and to reduce the potential impact on bottom habitat. The action follows from Amendment 89, Bering Sea Habitat Conservation Measures. This analysis also evaluates changes to the southern boundary of the Northern Bering Sea Research Area to create an area (Modified Gear Trawl Zone), wherein anyone fishing with nonpelagic trawl gear must use modified trawl sweeps. Changes to the eastern boundary of the Saint Matthew Island Habitat Conservation Area to be consistent with the Council’s intent to protect blue king crab habitat are also evaluated. Finally, the document addresses certain housekeeping amendments to the fishery management plan, which are required to correct typographical and non-substantive errors and to ensure consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.