Environmental Assessment/ Regulatory Impact Review/ Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for a Regulatory Amendment for the Groundfish Fishery of the Gulf of Alaska Revising Skate Maximum Retainable Amounts in the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Fishery
Analysis of management measures that would reduce the maximum retainable amounts (MRA) for skates in directed fisheries for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA).
Current regulations allow vessels to “top off” their catch of groundfish by retaining skates in an amount up to 20 percent of the retained groundfish catch. In recent years, the catch of longnose and big skates has exceeded the acceptable biological catch /total allowable catch in some areas. The purpose of this action is to slow the harvest rate of skates and decrease the incentive for vessels to top off on skates by reducing the MRA to levels that more accurately reflect the intrinsic rate of incidental catch of skates in the GOA. The analysis considers reducing the MRA for skates to 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, and the no-action alternative which would maintain the MRA at 20 percent. The proposed action is not likely to have any impacts on human environment features, including habitat, ecosystem or ecosystem components, marine mammals, or seabirds. Potential impacts are limited to skates in the GOA and groundfish in the GOA.