Petitioned closures aim to protect Bristol Bay red king crab and their habitat.
NOAA Fisheries is taking public comment on a request to take emergency action to close the Red King Crab Savings Area and the Red King Crab Savings Subarea to all fishing gear that comes into contact with the ocean bottom.
The request is from the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers and is dated September 29, 2022.
If implemented, the requested emergency closures would include pelagic trawl, pot gear, and longline gear, and would be in effect for 180 days after the emergency rule is published. The petitioners requested that the closure occur for 6 months—from January 1 to June 30, 2023. Under existing regulations, non-pelagic trawl gear is already prohibited from fishing in the Red King Crab Savings Area year round and in the Red King Crab Savings Subarea when Bristol Bay red king crab is not open to directed fishing.
NOAA Fisheries is working with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which plans to provide feedback to NOAA at its December meeting.
NOAA Fisheries’ Policy Guidelines for the Use of Emergency Rules outline the criteria for finding whether an emergency exists involving any fishery.
NOAA Fisheries will make a determination on the petition after considering public comments on this notice, and public comments received during the December Council meeting.
The deadline to submit comments on the Federal Register notice is December 5, 2022.
Send comments, identified by Docket ID NOAA-NMFS-2022-0111 by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submission: Via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, search for NOAA-NMFS-2022-0111. Look for the Comment icon.
Mail: Send to Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.