Final EA/RIR for Proposed Amendment 118 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Federal regulations implementing the sablefish and Pacific halibut fisheries off Alaska
Analysis of management measures to authorize the retention of legal-size halibut in pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI), provided the operator holds sufficient halibut IFQ or CDQ for that IFQ regulatory area.
This document analyzes proposed management measures that would apply exclusively to the halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) individual fishing quota (IFQ) and Community Development Quota (CDQ) fishery participants in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI). The management measures under consideration would authorize retention of legal-size halibut in pot gear in the BSAI, provided the operator holds sufficient halibut IFQ or CDQ for that IFQ regulatory area. The purpose of this action is to allow for more efficient harvest of the halibut resource by decreasing the wastage of legal-size halibut discarded in the existing BSAI sablefish pot fishery, and to potentially reduce whale depredation of halibut from hook-and-line gear. This action also would make minor administrative revisions to Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) regulations that apply to vessels in the BSAI and Gulf of Alaska (GOA). The purpose of these revisions is to remove requirements that are no longer necessary, reduce reporting burdens, and provide regulatory clarity for vessels in the BSAI and GOA.