Area 2A Pacific halibut fishery management in 2022 and beyond: Environmental assessment
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Area 2A Pacific halibut fishery management in 2022 and beyond: Environmental assessment

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  • Description:
    NMFS is preparing this EA using the 2020 Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Regulations. The effective date of the 2020 CEQ NEPA Regulations was September 14, 2020, and reviews begun after this date are required to apply the 2020 regulations unless there is a clear and fundamental conflict with an applicable statute. 85 Fed. Reg. at 43372-73 (§§ 1506.13, 1507.3(a)). NMFS began developing this EA on October 27, 2021 and accordingly proceeds under the 2020 regulations.

    The Halibut Convention1 creates the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), which has regulatory authority over all halibut fishing in the United States and Canada. The IPHC has divided the Convention waters into regulatory areas. Area 2A encompasses all waters off of the west coast of the United States, including Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The IPHC is responsible for drafting annual regulations, conducting the annual halibut survey, and producing stock assessments. The stock assessment produces risk projections for a range of total constant exploitation yields (TCEYs), which are presented to the U.S. and Canadian Commissioners who, in consultation with members of the public, decide on the TCEY for each management area. The TCEYs are chosen after considering the long term sustainability of the coastwide halibut stock, using the best available information from the stock assessment. The TCEY includes commercial discards and bycatch estimates using a formula developed by the IPHC. Fisheries targeting halibut manage to a catch limit called a fishery constant exploitation yield (FCEY), which is the starting value for management in Area 2A under the Catch Sharing Plan (described in detail at Section 1.2.3.). Under the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act) at 16 U.S.C. § 773, regulations developed by the IPHC are subject to acceptance by the Secretary of State with concurrence from the Secretary of Commerce. After acceptance, NMFS publishes the IPHC regulations in the Federal Register as annual management measures. 50 CFR § 300.62.

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