Contact: Carol Tocco

90-Day Public Comment Period Begins January 26, 2001

A large-scale analysis of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries management plans is now available for public review and comment. Scientists with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service examined the current groundfish fishery management regime, and evaluated effects of selected alternative management regimes on the physical, biological, and human environment to provide information on the environmental and economic impacts of the current fishery management regime, with comparison to several hypothetical regimes.

The range of issues examined includes the effects of the groundfish fisheries on marine mammals and seabirds, the effects of fishing gear on benthic habitat, excess fishing and processing capacity, and the effects of harvesting fish on the North Pacific marine ecosystem. Other notable issues include maintaining sustainable fisheries, reducing bycatch and waste, improving data gathering and enforcement of regulations, and providing economic stability for fishing communities.

"With this large scale examination of our groundfish fishery management plans and their potential effects on the ecosystem," said Jim Balsiger, Alaska regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, "we have an excellent baseline for considering changes to management policy and potential management actions for groundfish fisheries off Alaska."

The analysis is of several programmatic policy alternatives, and include effects on the following: marine mammals, seabirds, target groundfish species, non-target groundfish species, prohibited species, essential fish habitat, social economics of the fishery, the marine ecosystem, and cumulative effects of the groundfish fisheries. Each of the alternatives is subject to four broad goals: (1) provide sound conservation of living marine resources, (2) provide socially and economically viable fisheries, (3) prevent human-caused threats to protected species, and (4) maintain a healthy living marine resource habitat.

The Draft Programmatic Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (draft SEIS) for Alaska Groundfish Fisheries can be viewed at the NMFS Alaska region website at:, or a Cd-rom version or printed copy can be obtained by calling Steve Davis at (907) 271-3523 or by sending an e-mail to Public comments on the draft SEIS will be accepted January 26, 2001 through April 26, 2001. Send written comments to National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau Alaska, 99802 Attn: Lori Gravel, or fax to (907)586-7249 Attn: Lori Gravel.

During the comment period, public hearings will be held at various locations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. A schedule of dates and locations will be available soon at These meetings will offer a forum to meet members of the SEIS team, ask questions, and provide an opportunity for the public to express concerns and recommendations. Comments received at the hearings will be addressed in the Final Programmatic SEIS.

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