Environmental Impact Statement for Issuing Annual Catch Limits to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission for a Subsistence Hunt on Bowhead Whales for the Years 2019 and Beyond
Final EIS on annual catch limits for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission subsistence bowhead whale hunt
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes to issue annual catch limits to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) to allow continuation of its subsistence hunt for bowhead whales from the Western Arctic stock from 2019 onward, under the Whaling Convention Act (WCA) and the Cooperative Agreement with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC), and subject to International Whaling Commission (IWC)-set catch limits. Under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), the IWC has adopted management principles for setting subsistence catch limits for the Western Arctic stock of bowhead whales based upon the needs of Native hunters in Alaskan villages and in Russian villages along the Chukotka Peninsula, and may adopt catch limits for specific years. NMFS issues the AEWC the United States’ share of this catch limit. The subsequent hunt is managed under the WCA and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), cooperatively by NMFS and the AEWC. NMFS’s issuance of any future catch limits will be subject to IWC requirements, which will in turn be based on IWC Scientific Committee advice on the sustainability of any catch limits.
The purpose of this action is twofold: (1) to manage the conservation and sustainable subsistence utilization of the Western Arctic stock of bowhead whales (as required under the ICRW, the WCA, the MMPA, and other applicable laws), and (2) to fulfill the Federal Government’s trust responsibility to recognize the cultural and subsistence needs of Alaska Natives.