Absent Council action, agency must prepare amendment to meet court deadline.
NOAA Fisheries will hold a public hearing to receive input on an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska. This amendment would establish federal management for the salmon fisheries in the federal waters of upper Cook Inlet.
The public hearing will take place by webinar on Thursday, May 18, 2023 starting at 5 p.m. AKDT, and will conclude no later than 8 p.m. AKDT.
NOAA Fisheries staff will provide a brief opening statement before accepting public testimony for the record. The hearing will be recorded for the purpose of preparing transcripts of oral comments received. We may close the hearing 15 minutes after the conclusion of public testimony and after responding to any clarifying questions from hearing participants.
Anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing is encouraged to also submit a written statement. The deadline to comment is by 5 p.m. AKDT Thursday, May 25, 2023. We will consider written and oral comments received at the public hearing when preparing the amendment and implementing regulations. In the following months, we will publish proposed regulations in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council first developed the Salmon Fishery Management Plan under the Magnuson-Stevens Act more than 40 years ago. It excluded designated federal waters in Cook Inlet, which allowed the State of Alaska to manage commercial salmon fishing in the area.
Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen and processors challenged the exclusion of Cook Inlet EEZ.
Under a 2016 Ninth Circuit ruling, and a 2022 summary judgment opinion of the Alaska District Court in UCIDA, et al. v. NMFS, NOAA Fisheries must implement an amendment to the Salmon FMP by May 1, 2024 to federally manage the salmon fisheries that occur in federal waters of upper Cook Inlet. The amendment and implementing regulations must be consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements.
At its April 2023 meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council considered amending the plan to manage the salmon fishery in Cook Inlet federal waters, but chose not to take action. Information about the April meeting
Absent a Council recommendation, NOAA Fisheries is preparing the amendment and implementing regulations pursuant to MSA section 304(c) to meet the court deadline.
How to Submit Comments
All comments must be received by 5 p.m. AKDT Thursday, May 25, 2023.
The public hearing webinar is on May 18 starting at 5 p.m.
Participants may also join by phone at (731) 393-1334 and entering PIN 300 304 724#.
Comments should be identified by Docket ID NOAA-NMFS-2023-0065 .
Submit all electronic comments to www.regulations.gov
Submit written comments to:
Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries
Alaska Region NOAA Fisheries
P.O. Box 21668
Juneau, AK 99082-1668