Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing

Symposium Abstract: Approach to Evaluating Fishing Effects on EFH off Alaska

D. Witherell and C. Coon

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569605.ch160

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is in the process of evaluating fisheries for adverse effects on essential fish habitat, and over the coming year, will be considering additional measures to minimize these effects to the extent practicable. The steps used in the evaluation include 1) description of the fisheries, 2) distribution and intensity of the fisheries, 3) description of the habitat effected, 4) summary of scientific studies applicable to each fishery, and finally, 5) evaluation of each fishery to see if effects on habitat are more than minimal and more than temporary in nature. For each of the principal fisheries managed under federal fishery management plans, we first described the gear used, fishing methods, and habitats potentially impacted (including living substrates and prey species). We then mapped the distribution and intensity of fishing effort in each fishery, and compared this with available information on benthic habitats to determine the extent of effects. Using this information, along with the literature on fishing gear impacts, the fisheries will be evaluated against criteria for determining adverse effects. For those fisheries having adverse effects, management measures will be proposed to minimize effects to the extent practicable. Management measures will also be proposed to mitigate cumulative effects of fisheries, and may be proposed to reduce effects of fisheries that have not been determined to have significant adverse effects on fish habitat. The fishery evaluation and identification of potential management measures will be completed by October 2002. The poster reviews the fishery evaluation process and development of alternatives to minimize adverse effects of fisheries on essential fish habitat off Alaska.