Environmental Impact Statement for Subsistence Harvest Management of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
The stock of beluga whales in Cook Inlet (CI), Alaska, declined by greater than 50 percent between 1994 and 1999 resulting in a depleted determination under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The NOAA Fisheries believes that the subsistence harvest of these whales was the principal factor in the decline.
This EIS evaluates alternates to manage the subsistence harvest of beluga whales in Cook Inlet (CI), Alaska, in order to promote recovery and still provide for a limited harvest for subsistence purposes. Annual harvest levels will be specified through regulation and implemented through a comanagement agreement under section 119 of the MMPA. The effects analyses describes both the direct and indirect effects of the alternatives on the environment, and the cumulative effects of the proposed action (e.g. direct and indirect effects resulting from the harvest) and past, present, or foreseeable future actions on the environment with special emphasis on the beluga whale stock and the subsistence harvest tradition in Cook Inlet. Impacts are disclosed as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).