NMFS, in coordination with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), will hold a public scoping meeting and accept written comments from the public to determine the issues of concern; the appropriate range of management alternatives; and the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures for the Groundfish Fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). The EIS is being prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The proposed action would restrict groundfish fishing in the BSAI to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to result in jeopardy of continued existence or adverse modification or destruction of designated critical habitat (JAM) for the western distinct population segment (DPS) of Steller sea lions. The western DPS of Steller sea lions is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and NMFS must ensure that the groundfish fisheries are not likely to result in JAM for this DPS. NMFS intends to work with stakeholders to develop fisheries restrictions that avoid the likelihood of JAM and minimize the potential economic impact on the fishing industry to the extent practicable while meeting the requirements of the ESA. The analysis in the EIS will determine the impacts to the human environment resulting from this proposed action and the alternatives.
Agency Contact: Melanie Brown, (907) 586-7228.
This is a proposed regulation. Comments were due on October 15, 2012.