Comment is being sought on proposed alternatives for a document supporting federal fishery management programs in the Alaska exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as climate change progresses. The area encompasses all of Alaska’s coastline, ranging from three to 200 miles offshore.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is asking for these comments in advance of the council’s ecosystem committee’s May 8 meeting at offices in Anchorage and virtually. The goal is to refine the purpose and needs statement for future management in the EEZ, as it affects the human environment of the zone.
The last time NOAA and the NPFMC completed a programmatic review of federal fisheries management of groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands was in 2004.
In the past decade alone, there have been several fishery collapses for target species, such as Bering Sea crab and Gulf of Alaska cod. Numerous other targe species have seen significant, if less dramatic declines, the council noted. Non-target species as well have been experiencing serious population declines, including Western Alaska Chinook and chum salmon stocks, which are not achieving enough escapement to meet biological requirements for fisheries.
The council also noted that climate-related impacts on subsistence resources can have impacts to the cultures, economies and communities of Alaska’s indigenous peoples.
If possible, all comments should be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 3 to allow for staff review in advance of the meeting — but written submissions will also be accepted through May 4.
A significant portion of the morning of the May 8 meeting will be reserved for public comment. Submit comments and read through the proposal draft and meeting agenda at https://meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/Details/2989.