Finding of No Significant Impact for Proposed Amendment 124 to the FMP for Groundfish of the BSAI and Amendment 112 to the FMP for Groundfish of the GOA
This Finding of No Significant Impact analyzes management measures that would apply to fishery participants in the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota and Community Development Quota fisheries off Alaska.
This document analyzes several management measures that will apply to fishery participants in the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) and Community Development Quota (CDQ) fisheries off Alaska. First, the management measures include changes to requirements specific to pot gear used to fish IFQ in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), such as requirements for pot gear configuration, gear retrieval, and pot limits. Other measures include changes to biodegradable panel requirements on pot gear used to fish IFQ and CDQ in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and the GOA. The purpose of these changes to gear specifications is to increase operational efficiency for vessels participating in these fisheries and to reduce administrative burden. The action authorizes jig gear as a legal gear type for harvesting sablefish IFQ in the BSAI and GOA and sablefish CDQ in the BSAI to increase access to entry-level fishing opportunities. Another management measure temporarily removes the Adak community quota entity (CQE) residency requirement for five years to provide more opportunity for the Adak CQE to fully harvest its allocation. The approach for the impact analysis in the EA was to analyze the extent to which the flexibilities from the action encourage further participation using pot or jig gear and the extent to which operators of vessels that already deploy pot gear choose to use the flexibilities provided by each element of the action. However, both halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries are fully allocated, therefore, participation will not increase but may shift across gear types resulting in a similar effort to status quo. Additionally, any flexibilities will not change effort but may shift the timing and operation strategies for vessel operators. Overall, the magnitude of impacts is limited because the IFQ Program is designed to limit effort by limiting harvest through allocation of quota share and through catch limits for both halibut and sablefish.