Environmental Assessment of a Final Rule to Implement Requirements for Seabird Bycatch Avoidance Devices in the Hook-and-Line Pacific Halibut Fishery off Alaska
Seabird bycatch avoidance devices in the hook-and-line Pacific halibut fishery off Alaska
The final rule requires operators of hook-and-line vessels fishing for Pacific halibut in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area and the Gulf of Alaska to conduct fishing operations in a specified manner and to employ specified bird avoidance techniques. These requirements are intended to reduce seabird bycatch and incidental seabird mortality. The action is necessary to mitigate hook-and-line fishery interactions with the short-tailed albatross and other species. The short-tailed albatross is an endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The magnitude of the seabird bycatch problem in the North Pacific groundfish fisheries is ascertained in part by data collected by observers. The magnitude of seabird bycatch in the Pacific halibut fishery off Alaska has not been addressed at this time. Seabird bycatch in the halibut fishery may be similar to that in the groundfish fisheries given the gear and fishery similarities.