The Council took final action in April to modify the Council’s BSAI Groundfish, GOA Groundfish, BSAI King and Tanner Crab, Salmon, and Arctic FMPs to update descriptions and maps of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), and to update recommendations for non-fishing activities that may affect EFH. The Council reviewed an Environmental Assessment (EA) that examined the potential impacts to the human environment from 8 actions to update EFH definitions in the Council’s FMPs, update recommendations for non-fishing activities, consider initiating a process to identify Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC), and update EFH research priorities in the FMPs. The Council elected to take no action to initiate the HAPC process, or to update EFH research priorities. The Environmental Assessment concluded that there were no significant impacts to the human environment from any of the alternatives analyzed for the 8 actions. The Council motion passed 10-0, with one recusal.
The 2017 update to EFH incorporated model-based definitions and maps of EFH for the BSAI Groundfish, GOA Groundfish, BSAI King and Tanner Crab, Salmon, and Arctic FMPs, and incorporated results from the Fishing Effects model to assess the impacts of commercial fishing on EFH. These new models make use of considerable new data available since the last EFH review in 2010, and incorporate the Catch-In-Areas (CIA) database to describe fishing effort with greater precision than previously allowed. The Ecosystem Committee, AP, and SSC all recommended updates to EFH, and recommended that the analysis be accepted as initial and final review. The action taken by the Council concludes the EFH review, the next review is scheduled for 2022. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.