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Final environmental assessment specification of annual catch limits and accountability measures for deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian islands in 2014-15 and 2015-16
  • Published Date:
Filetype[PDF - 2.10 MB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    American Samoa, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, ; Guam, Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, ; Hawaii, Division of Aquatic Resources, ; ... More ▼
  • Document Type:
  • Description:
    NMFS proposes to specify an annual catch limit (ACL) of 346,000 lb of Deep 7 bottomfish in federal waters of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; generally 3 to 200 nautical miles or nm) around the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), as recommended by the Council. Based on a 2011 NMFS stock assessment for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish, the proposed ACL is associated with a 41 percent probability of overfishing. As an accountability measure (AM) to prevent the fishery from exceeding the ACL, NMFS proposes to close, the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish in federal waters on the date the NMFS projects the fishery will reach ACL through the end of the fishing year. Although not part of the proposed action, during a federal fishery closure, the State of Hawaii implements a complementary fishery closure in State waters 0-3 nm. In addition, if NMFS and the Council determines that the 2014-15 Deep 7 bottomfish catch exceeded the ACL, NMFS would reduce the Deep 7 bottomfish ACL for the 2015-16 fishing year by the amount of the overage. The fishing year for Deep 7 bottomfish begins September 1 and ends on August 31 the following year annually. Unless modified by NMFS, the ACL and AM would be applicable in the fishing 2 year 2014-15. The proposed ACL and AM is identical to the specifications NMFS implemented in the previous 2013-14 fishing year (78 FR 59626, September 27, 2013). The proposed action is needed to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and is consistent with the provisions of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Hawaii Archipelago, through which NMFS specifies ACLs and AMs for all federally managed species. The Council recommended the ACL and AM, based upon the best available scientific and commercial information and taking into account risk of overfishing, past fishery performance, and acceptable biological catch recommendation from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee, and input from the public. NMFS prepared this environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the proposed ACL specification and AMs in fishing years 2014-15 and again in 2015-16. The EA includes a description of the information and methods used by the Council to develop the proposed ACL, and alternatives to the proposed ACL specifications. The analysis revealed that the specification of ACLs and the AM would not result in large and adverse impacts on target, non-target, or bycatch species, protected species, or on marine habitats. This is because the proposed action will continue the existing management regime and would not change the conduct of commercial or non-commercial MHI bottomfish fisheries in any way. NMFS considers the harvest of Deep 7 bottomfish in the MHI bottomfish fisheries to be sustainable, and expects that the ACL and AM specifications to prevent overfishing and provide for continued sustainable harvest. On April 21, 2015, NMFS solicited public comments on the proposed ACL and AM specification for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish and a draft EA (80 FR 22158). NMFS received three letters of comments, which were considered before finalizing the EA. The draft and final versions of this EA, and public comments received, can be found by searching on RIN 0648-XD082 at www.regulations.gov, or by contacting the responsible NMFS official or the Council at the above address.