Environmental Assessment/ Regulatory Impact Review/ Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for Amendment 89 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska Area Closures for Tanner Crab Protection in Gulf of Alaska
Analysis of the impacts of four alternatives to close specific areas of the Central Gulf of Alaska Regulatory Area (Central GOA) to the use of trawl gear and pot gear or as a suboption, in lieu of a closure to require additional observer coverage in these areas.
Based on the Council’s recommendation, NMFS determined that increased observer coverage in specific areas of the Central GOA would interfere with the goals and objectives of the restructured observer program and is not necessary. The intent to improve Tanner crab bycatch information is addressed in the restructured observer program, which was implemented in 2013. The Council’s preferred alternative is to close a portion of Marmot Bay northeast of Kodiak Island to the use of trawl gear, except for the use of pelagic trawl gear to target pollock. The Council’s preferred alternative for the Marmot Bay Protection Area trawl closure will be combined with the Council's preferred alternative requiring modified nonpelagic trawl gear to be used when targeting flatfish in Central Gulf of Alaska Regulatory Area to form a suite of management measures for the protection and conservation of Tanner crab and reduce the potential for adverse impacts by nonpelagic gear on benthic habitat.