Environmental Assessment for a Regulatory Amendment to Modify Harvest Restrictions in Individual Fishing Quota and Western Alaska Community Development Quota Fisheries for Pacific Halibut in Areas 4C and 4D of the Bering Sea
This document is an Environmental Assessment (EA) for an action to amend halibut Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) and Community Development Quota (CDQ) regulations that define regulatory fishing areas for these programs under the authority of both the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). In December 2004, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) identified its preferred alternative to allow holders of Area 4C halibut IFQ and CDQ to harvest such halibut IFQ/CDQ in Area 4D. It would allow additional fishing opportunities so that the assigned Area 4C IFQ and CDQ quotas for two Pribilof Island ommunities (St. Paul and St. George) in Area 4C may be attained. A complementary action by the IPHC, which is required to adopt this regulatory amendment, was approved in January 2005.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for this action to address the statutory requirements of the NEPA. The purpose of the EA is to predict whether the impacts to the human environment resulting from allowing Area 4C IFQ and CDQ holders to harvest their IFQ or CDQ in Area 4D will be “significant”, as that term is defined under NEPA. If the predicted impacts from the preferred alternatives are found not to be significant, and that alternative is chosen, then a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will be issued and no further analysis is necessary to comply with the requirements of NEPA.