The Northern Bering Sea Research Area (NBSRA) was implemented in 2008 and prohibited bottom trawling in the northern part of the Bering Sea. The
objective of the Council was to develop a research plan that would provide data to allow a better understanding of the potential impacts of trawling on the benthic and epibenthic fauna of the northern Bering Sea before any commercial trawling was authorized. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center was tasked with developing a research plan to provide the necessary data. However, at the June 2011 Council meeting the Council requested that the AFSC develop a discussion paper to compile existing information on the NBSRA and review existing information on the northern Bering Sea ecosystem, previous and ongoing relevant research in the northern Bering Sea, studies on chronic and acute effects of bottom trawling, and outcomes of the 2010 and 2011 science and community/subsistence workshops that were hosted by the AFSC. The paper will also categorize areas within the NBSRA that may be of future interest to commercial bottom trawling, both in terms of target stock distribution and habitat type in order to help focus outreach to, and input from, northern Bering Sea communities. Staff contact is Steve MacLean 907-271-3235.