Environmental Assessment for Amendment 1 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Commercial King and Tanner Crab Fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
Analysis of Amendment 1 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Commercial King and Tanner Crab Fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands which would implement an overfishing definition.
The crab FMP was written as a cooperative State-Federal FMP in an attempt to avoid State-Federal coordination problems that were encountered in previous king and Tanner crab FMP's. It contains a general management goal to maximize the overall long-term benefit to the nation of Bering Sea/Aleutian Island stocks of king and Tanner crabs by coordinated Federal and state management, consistent with responsible stewardship for conservation of the crab resources and their habitats. Since the crab FMP contains no objective or measurable criteria for implementing a definition of overfishing, the crab FMP must be amended. In revised guidelines based on national standards and established· by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assist in the development and review of FMPs, (50 CFR Part 602) NOAA presented the following general definition "overfishing is a level or rate of fishing mortality that jeopardizes the long-term capacity of a stock or stock complex to produce MSY (maximum sustainable yield) on a continuing basis." The 602 guidelines make·a distinction between the prevention of overfishing and the achievement of optimum yield. Therefore, the task of specifying an overfishing definition should not be confused with an attempt to articulate an optimal harvest strategy. The overfishing definition is to be used as a constraint and not a target.