I am gravely concerned about NOAA Fisheries management of the North Pacific groundfish fisheries. The preferred alternative in NOAA’s draft Programmatic Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska will not adequately protect the region’s marine ecosystem from the impacts of the largest fishery in the United States.
I urge you to adopt an Oceans Alternative that actually incorporates ecosystem based management policies into fishery ecosystem plans and sustains fisheries for the long term.
The Oceans Alternative requires NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to:
· Proactively avoid harm rather than assuming that fisheries cause no harm.
· Maintain large margins of safety to avoid unforeseen adverse impacts.
· Protect all types of marine habitat, reduce overall catch levels, conserve biological diversity, ensure the integrity of the marine food web, protect marine fish, birds, mammals and invertebrates (such as crab and corals), and provide for ecologically sustainable fishing opportunities across generations.
As the first comprehensive environmental impact statement for fisheries management in the U.S., this SEIS is precedent setting and in its current form does not address the fundamental flaws in U.S. oceans management. The Oceans Alternative does address these flaws, and I urge you to adopt and implement its recommendations.