The Council reviewed the Initial Review Draft of an Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR) to evaluate alternatives for classifying sculpins as target species or ecosystem component species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). The Initial Review concluded that sculpins meet the requirements for classification as an ecosystem component species in both the BSAI and GOA FMPs. The Initial Review draft was requested by the Council after review of a discussion paper in April 2019, and a detailed descriptions of sculpins and the alternatives is found in the April 2019 newsletter.
At this meeting, the Council adopted a revised purpose and need statement and alternatives, including a Preliminary Preferred Alternative, for public review. The Purpose and Need Statement was revised to include the statement that “The best available data indicate that sculpins are not in need of conservation and management and could be reclassified as non-target ecosystem component species.” Alternatives include the no-action alternative, and the preliminary preferred action alternative that would classify sculpins as ecosystem-component species in the BSAI and GOA FMPs. The action alternative includes regulations to prohibit directed fishing for sculpins, require recordkeeping and reporting to monitor and report catch and discards of sculpin species, and establish maximum retainable amounts (MRAs) for sculpins at 2%, 10%, or 20 % (PPA).
The National Marine Fisheries Service will take the lead in developing the appropriate analysis. Council staff contact is Steve MacLean.