Pacific Fishery Management Council; Notice of Intent, 31067-31069 [E8-12129]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 105 / Friday, May 30, 2008 / Notices Comments on the draft Plan must be received by close of business on July 29, 2008. ADDRESSES: Send comments by any one of the following methods. (1) Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via e-mail to: seaturtle@fws.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail the following identifier: Comments on Northwest Atlantic Loggerhead Recovery Plan. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. (2) Mail: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn: Draft Loggerhead Recovery Plan, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216. (3) Fax: 301–713–0376, Attn: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Schroeder (ph. 301–713–1401, fax 301–713–0376) or Sandy MacPherson (ph. 904–232–2580). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: species. Recovery of loggerhead turtles in the Northwest Atlantic is a long-term effort and will require cooperation and coordination of Federal, state, and local government agencies, and the community, as well as international cooperation. NMFS and USFWS will consider all substantive comments and information presented during the public comment period in the course of finalizing this Plan. Availability of the Draft Recovery Plan AGENCY: DATES: Interested persons may obtain the Plan for review on the Internet at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/recovery/ plans.htm or http://www.fws.gov/ northflorida/SeaTurtles/loggerheadrecovery/default-loggerhead.htm or by contacting Barbara Schroeder or Sandy MacPherson [see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT]. sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES Background The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (15 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that NMFS and USFWS develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of threatened and endangered species under their jurisdiction, unless it is determined that such plans would not promote the conservation of the species. This Plan discusses the natural history, current status, and the known and potential threats to the loggerhead turtle in the Northwest Atlantic. The Plan lays out a recovery strategy to address the potential threats based on the best available science and includes recovery goals and criteria. The Plan is not a regulatory action, but presents guidance for use by agencies and interested parties to assist in the recovery of loggerhead turtles. The Plan identifies substantive actions needed to achieve recovery by addressing the threats to the VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:52 May 29, 2008 Jkt 214001 Dated: May 20, 2008. James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Marine Service. Dated: May 9, 2008. Franklin J. Arnold III, Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region, Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. E8–12132 Filed 5–29–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XI11 Pacific Fishery Management Council; Notice of Intent National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS); request for comments; preliminary notice of public scoping meetings. SUMMARY: NMFS and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) announce their intent to prepare an EIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 to analyze fishing conducted under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. DATES: Public scoping will be conducted through regular meetings of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies. The Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to consider actions and alternatives that are the subject of this proposed action at their June 8–13, 2008, meeting. The details of this and any other meetings related to this action will be announced in the Federal Register. Written comments will be accepted at the Pacific Council office through June 3, 2008. You may submit comments, on issues and alternatives, identified by RIN: 0648–XI11 by any of the following methods: ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 31067 • E-mail: 0910.EIS@noaa.gov. Include 0648–XI11 and enter ‘‘Scoping Comments’’ in the subject line of the message. • Fax: 503–820–2299. • Mail: Dr. Donald McIsaac, Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Pl., Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John DeVore, Pacific Fishery Management Council, phone: 503–820– 2280, fax: 503–820–2299 and email: john.devore@noaa.gov; or Kathe Hawe, NMFS Northwest Region NEPA Coordinator; phone: 206–526–6161 and email: Kathe.Hawe@noaa.gov. Electronic Access This Federal Register document is available on the Government Printing Office’s Web site at: www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index/html. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background and Need for Agency Action There are more than 90 species managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (groundfish FMP), seven of which have been declared overfished. The groundfish stocks support an array of commercial, recreational, and Indian tribal fishing interests in state and federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. In addition, groundfish are also harvested incidentally in non-groundfish fisheries, most notably, the trawl fisheries for pink shrimp, ridgeback prawns, California halibut, and sea cucumber. The proposed action is needed to establish commercial and recreational harvests levels in 2009–2010 that will ensure groundfish stocks are maintained at, or restored to, sizes and structures that will produce the highest net benefit to the nation, while balancing environmental and social values. The Proposed Action The proposed action is to implement management measures consistent with the requirements of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) that constrain total fishing mortality during 2009–2010 within limits that maintain fish stocks at, or rebuild them to, a level capable of producing maximum sustained yield (MSY), or to a stock size less than this if such stock size results in long-term net benefit to the nation. These fishing mortality limits are harvest specifications that include acceptable biological catches (ABCs) and optimum yields (OYs) for E:\FR\FM\30MYN1.SGM 30MYN1 31068 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 105 / Friday, May 30, 2008 / Notices sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES groundfish species or species groups in need of particular protection; OYs may be represented by harvest guidelines or quotas for species that need individual management. Separate sets of ABCs and OYs will be specified for 2009 and 2010 as part of the multi-year management cycle for groundfish. The allocation of commercial OYs between the open access and limited entry segments of the fishery is also part of the proposed action. The FMP, as amended by Amendment 17, requires that the groundfish specifications be evaluated and revised as necessary every two years, with separate ABCs and OYs established for each of the two years in the biennial period. Management measures designed to achieve the OYs will be established for each year and, as in the past, may vary from period to period within any one year. These specifications and management measures will be published in the Federal Register and made effective by January 1 of the first fishing year in the biennium (2009). The Magnuson-Stevens Act and the groundfish FMP also require that NMFS implement actions to prevent overfishing and to rebuild overfished stocks. These specifications include fish caught in state ocean waters (zero to three nautical miles [nm] offshore) as well as fish caught in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (3 to 200 nm offshore). Alternatives NEPA requires that agencies evaluate reasonable alternatives to the proposed action in an EIS. The purpose and need for agency action determines the range of reasonable alternatives. A preliminary set of alternatives was developed during the November 4–9, 2007, Council meeting. Alternatives are structured around a range of ABCs/OYs for assessed groundfish species. This range of ABCs/OYs is based on stock assessments, including new assessments for 16 of the groundfish species managed under the FMP. Seven groundfish species are currently declared overfished and subject to rebuilding plans previously adopted by the Council. Based on new stock assessments and rebuilding analyses, three of these stocks have a markedly different target year for rebuilding than previously estimated, if the current harvest rates are maintained. Rebuilding plans for these species may have to be revised in order to meet the statutory requirement to rebuild in as short a time as possible, taking into account the appropriate factors. For some species, ABC/OY ranges that would be used to develop alternatives may be based on consultations by the VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:52 May 29, 2008 Jkt 214001 Council with state and federal agencies, Indian tribes, and the affected public on the allocation of harvest opportunity between sectors. Allocation decisions can affect OYs because different sectors may catch fish of different species and ages, allowing different sustainable harvest levels. Based on a range of ABCs/OYs alternatives adopted at the November 2007 Council meeting, the Council chose a preliminary preferred ABCs/ OYs alternative at their April 2008 meeting; a range of alternative management measures was also identified that will constrain total harvest mortality (across all fisheries intercepting groundfish) to within the preferred OYs. The Council is then scheduled to take final action to choose a preferred alternative that includes ABCs/OYs and associated management measures at their June 2008 meeting. Restrictive management measures intended to rebuild overfished species have been adopted and implemented over the past several years for most commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Management measures intended to control the rate at which different groundfish species or species groups are taken in the fisheries include trip limits, bag limits, size limits, time/area closures, and gear restrictions. Large area closures, called Groundfish Conservation Areas (GCAs) or Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs), intended to reduce bycatch of overfished species, were first implemented in late 2002. A second important type of measure used to manage groundfish is the cumulative landing limit. Cumulative landing limits restrict the total weight of fish by species or species group that any one vessel may land during the limit period, which is normally two months. Different cumulative landing limits are established for areas north and south of 40° 10′ N. lat. (near Cape Mendocino, California) and for limited entry trawl, limited entry fixed gear, and open access fishery participants. Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues A principal objective of the scoping and public input process is to identify potentially significant impacts to the human environment that should be analyzed in depth in the EIS. NMFS staff conducted internal scoping to determine the likely impacts of the proposed action on the human environment and identify potentially significant impacts. Based on this internal scoping, the following environmental components have been identified for impact evaluation: overfished groundfish, groundfish at PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 precautionary and healthy levels, nogroundfish species, listed salmonids, the marine ecosystem and fish habitat, community and economic impacts, and cumulative impacts. Public Scoping Process Public scoping has already occurred as part of the Council’s decision-making process and will continue through Council final action in June 2008. All decisions during the Council process benefit from written and oral public comments delivered prior to or during the Council meeting. These public comments are considered integral to scoping for developing this EIS. The Council chose the preliminary preferred ABCs/OYs alternative and refined the range of management measures at their April 5–12, 2008, meeting in Seattle, Washington at the Seattle Marriott Hotel-Sea Tac, 3201 S 176th Street, 98188–4094, 206–241–2000 or 800– 314–0925. The Council is scheduled to finalize their preferred alternative at their June 8–13, 2008, meeting at the Crowne Plaza Mid Peninsula, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City, California, 94404, 800–227–6963 or 650–570–5700. Public comment may be made under the agenda items when the Council will consider these proposed actions. The agendas for these meetings will be available from the Council website or by request from the Council office in advance of the meeting (see ADDRESSES). Written comments on the scope of issues and alternatives may also be submitted as described under ADDRESSES. NMFS invites comments and suggestions on the scope of the analysis to be included in the draft EIS (DEIS). The scope includes the range of alternatives to be considered and potentially significant impacts to the human environment that should be evaluated in the NEPA document. In addition, NMFS is notifying the public that, in conjunction with the Council, it is beginning a full environmental analysis and decision-making process for this proposal, so interested or affected people may know how they can participate in the environmental analysis and contribute to the final decision. A DEIS will be prepared for comment after Council final action. The comment period on the DEIS will be 45 days from the date the Environmental Protection Agency’s notice of availability appears in the Federal Register. It is very important that those interested in this proposed action participate at that time. To be most helpful, comments on the NEPA document should be as specific as possible and may address the E:\FR\FM\30MYN1.SGM 30MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 105 / Friday, May 30, 2008 / Notices adequacy of the statement or merits of the alternatives discussed. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the NEPA document. Comments may also address the adequacy of the NEPA document or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the NEPA document. (Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.) Comments received, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposal and will be available for public inspection. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: May 22, 2008. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–12129 Filed 5–29–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN: 0648–XI18 Fisheries of the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); SEDAR 16 King Mackerel Assessment Panel; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of SEDAR 16 South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico King Mackerel Post-Assessment Workshop Conference Call. sroberts on PROD1PC70 with NOTICES AGENCY: SUMMARY: The SEDAR 16 Assessment Panel will meet via conference call to review assessment model results and discuss future documentation needs. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. DATES: The SEDAR 16 Assessment Workshop Panel will meet on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST). ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via conference call. Listening stations are available at the following locations: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive ι201, North Charleston, SC 29405; and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2203 North Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, FL 33607. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie A. Neer, SEDAR Coordinator, SAFMC, VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:52 May 29, 2008 Jkt 214001 4055 Faber Place, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405; telephone: (843) 571–4366 or toll free: (866) SAFMC–10; fax: (843) 769–4520. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils; in conjunction with NOAA Fisheries, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission; implemented the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process, a multi-step method for determining the status of fish stocks. SEDAR 16 is developing an assessment of the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico King Mackerel stock. During this conference call the SEDAR 16 King Mackerel Assessment Panel will follow-up on activities from its May 5–9, 2008 meeting by reviewing the assessment model results, and discussing future documentation needs. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council office (see ADDRESSES) at least 10 business days prior to the meeting. Dated: May 27, 2008. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–12045 Filed 5–29–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN: 0648–XI20 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public Hearings National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public hearings. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 31069 SUMMARY: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold public hearings to allow for input on Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery (FMP). DATES: Written comments will be accepted until 23 June 2008. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times and location of hearings. ADDRESSES: Send comments to: Daniel T. Furlong, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 2115 Federal Building, 300 South New Street, Dover, DE 19904. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel T. Furlong, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Room 2115 Federal Building, 300 South New Street, Dover, DE 19904; telephone: (302) 674–2331. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: There are four proposed management actions in this Amendment. To reduce general discards and to allow the butterfish stock to rebuild to BMSY and protect the long-term health and stability of the rebuilt butterfish stock, the proposed management actions could: 1. Develop a butterfish mortality cap program for the Loligo fishery; 2. Increase the Loligo minimum codend mesh size; 3. Eliminate exemptions for Illex vessels from Loligo minimum codend mesh requirements; and 4. Establish seasonal gear restricted areas (GRAs). Public hearings: The scheduled public hearings are as follows: June 9 - Sheraton Convention Center Hotel, Two Miss America Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401; telephone: (609) 344– 3535; June 17 - Hilton Garden Inn, Providence Airport Warwick, 1 Thurber Street/Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone: (401) 734–9600; and June 18 - Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites East End, 1707 Old Country Road, Route 58, Riverhead, NY 11901; telephone: (631) 548–1000. All hearings begin at 7 p.m. and will be tape recorded with the tapes filed as the official transcript of the hearing. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these hearings. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, E:\FR\FM\30MYN1.SGM 30MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 105 (Friday, May 30, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 31067-31069]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-12129]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XI11


Pacific Fishery Management Council; Notice of Intent

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 
(EIS); request for comments; preliminary notice of public scoping 
meetings.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific 
Council) announce their intent to prepare an EIS in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 to analyze fishing 
conducted under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan.

DATES: Public scoping will be conducted through regular meetings of the 
Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies. The Pacific 
Fishery Management Council is scheduled to consider actions and 
alternatives that are the subject of this proposed action at their June 
8-13, 2008, meeting. The details of this and any other meetings related 
to this action will be announced in the Federal Register. Written 
comments will be accepted at the Pacific Council office through June 3, 
2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, on issues and alternatives, 
identified by RIN: 0648-XI11 by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: 0910.EIS@noaa.gov. Include 0648-XI11 and enter 
``Scoping Comments'' in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: 503-820-2299.
     Mail: Dr. Donald McIsaac, Pacific Fishery Management 
Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Pl., Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John DeVore, Pacific Fishery 
Management Council, phone: 503-820-2280, fax: 503-820-2299 and email: 
john.devore@noaa.gov; or Kathe Hawe, NMFS Northwest Region NEPA 
Coordinator; phone: 206-526-6161 and email: Kathe.Hawe@noaa.gov.

Electronic Access

    This Federal Register document is available on the Government 
Printing Office's Web site at: www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index/html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background and Need for Agency Action

    There are more than 90 species managed under the Pacific Coast 
Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (groundfish FMP), seven of which 
have been declared overfished. The groundfish stocks support an array 
of commercial, recreational, and Indian tribal fishing interests in 
state and federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and 
California. In addition, groundfish are also harvested incidentally in 
non-groundfish fisheries, most notably, the trawl fisheries for pink 
shrimp, ridgeback prawns, California halibut, and sea cucumber.
    The proposed action is needed to establish commercial and 
recreational harvests levels in 2009-2010 that will ensure groundfish 
stocks are maintained at, or restored to, sizes and structures that 
will produce the highest net benefit to the nation, while balancing 
environmental and social values.

The Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to implement management measures consistent 
with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) that constrain total fishing 
mortality during 2009-2010 within limits that maintain fish stocks at, 
or rebuild them to, a level capable of producing maximum sustained 
yield (MSY), or to a stock size less than this if such stock size 
results in long-term net benefit to the nation.
    These fishing mortality limits are harvest specifications that 
include acceptable biological catches (ABCs) and optimum yields (OYs) 
for

[[Page 31068]]

groundfish species or species groups in need of particular protection; 
OYs may be represented by harvest guidelines or quotas for species that 
need individual management. Separate sets of ABCs and OYs will be 
specified for 2009 and 2010 as part of the multi-year management cycle 
for groundfish. The allocation of commercial OYs between the open 
access and limited entry segments of the fishery is also part of the 
proposed action.
    The FMP, as amended by Amendment 17, requires that the groundfish 
specifications be evaluated and revised as necessary every two years, 
with separate ABCs and OYs established for each of the two years in the 
biennial period. Management measures designed to achieve the OYs will 
be established for each year and, as in the past, may vary from period 
to period within any one year. These specifications and management 
measures will be published in the Federal Register and made effective 
by January 1 of the first fishing year in the biennium (2009). The 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and the groundfish FMP also require that NMFS 
implement actions to prevent overfishing and to rebuild overfished 
stocks. These specifications include fish caught in state ocean waters 
(zero to three nautical miles [nm] offshore) as well as fish caught in 
the U.S. exclusive economic zone (3 to 200 nm offshore).

Alternatives

    NEPA requires that agencies evaluate reasonable alternatives to the 
proposed action in an EIS. The purpose and need for agency action 
determines the range of reasonable alternatives. A preliminary set of 
alternatives was developed during the November 4-9, 2007, Council 
meeting. Alternatives are structured around a range of ABCs/OYs for 
assessed groundfish species. This range of ABCs/OYs is based on stock 
assessments, including new assessments for 16 of the groundfish species 
managed under the FMP.
    Seven groundfish species are currently declared overfished and 
subject to rebuilding plans previously adopted by the Council. Based on 
new stock assessments and rebuilding analyses, three of these stocks 
have a markedly different target year for rebuilding than previously 
estimated, if the current harvest rates are maintained. Rebuilding 
plans for these species may have to be revised in order to meet the 
statutory requirement to rebuild in as short a time as possible, taking 
into account the appropriate factors.
    For some species, ABC/OY ranges that would be used to develop 
alternatives may be based on consultations by the Council with state 
and federal agencies, Indian tribes, and the affected public on the 
allocation of harvest opportunity between sectors. Allocation decisions 
can affect OYs because different sectors may catch fish of different 
species and ages, allowing different sustainable harvest levels.
    Based on a range of ABCs/OYs alternatives adopted at the November 
2007 Council meeting, the Council chose a preliminary preferred ABCs/
OYs alternative at their April 2008 meeting; a range of alternative 
management measures was also identified that will constrain total 
harvest mortality (across all fisheries intercepting groundfish) to 
within the preferred OYs. The Council is then scheduled to take final 
action to choose a preferred alternative that includes ABCs/OYs and 
associated management measures at their June 2008 meeting.
    Restrictive management measures intended to rebuild overfished 
species have been adopted and implemented over the past several years 
for most commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Management 
measures intended to control the rate at which different groundfish 
species or species groups are taken in the fisheries include trip 
limits, bag limits, size limits, time/area closures, and gear 
restrictions. Large area closures, called Groundfish Conservation Areas 
(GCAs) or Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs), intended to reduce 
bycatch of overfished species, were first implemented in late 2002. A 
second important type of measure used to manage groundfish is the 
cumulative landing limit. Cumulative landing limits restrict the total 
weight of fish by species or species group that any one vessel may land 
during the limit period, which is normally two months. Different 
cumulative landing limits are established for areas north and south of 
40[deg] 10' N. lat. (near Cape Mendocino, California) and for limited 
entry trawl, limited entry fixed gear, and open access fishery 
participants.

Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues

    A principal objective of the scoping and public input process is to 
identify potentially significant impacts to the human environment that 
should be analyzed in depth in the EIS. NMFS staff conducted internal 
scoping to determine the likely impacts of the proposed action on the 
human environment and identify potentially significant impacts. Based 
on this internal scoping, the following environmental components have 
been identified for impact evaluation: overfished groundfish, 
groundfish at precautionary and healthy levels, no-groundfish species, 
listed salmonids, the marine ecosystem and fish habitat, community and 
economic impacts, and cumulative impacts.

Public Scoping Process

    Public scoping has already occurred as part of the Council's 
decision-making process and will continue through Council final action 
in June 2008. All decisions during the Council process benefit from 
written and oral public comments delivered prior to or during the 
Council meeting. These public comments are considered integral to 
scoping for developing this EIS. The Council chose the preliminary 
preferred ABCs/OYs alternative and refined the range of management 
measures at their April 5-12, 2008, meeting in Seattle, Washington at 
the Seattle Marriott Hotel-Sea Tac, 3201 S 176th Street, 98188-4094, 
206-241-2000 or 800-314-0925. The Council is scheduled to finalize 
their preferred alternative at their June 8-13, 2008, meeting at the 
Crowne Plaza Mid Peninsula, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City, California, 
94404, 800-227-6963 or 650-570-5700. Public comment may be made under 
the agenda items when the Council will consider these proposed actions. 
The agendas for these meetings will be available from the Council 
website or by request from the Council office in advance of the meeting 
(see ADDRESSES). Written comments on the scope of issues and 
alternatives may also be submitted as described under ADDRESSES.
    NMFS invites comments and suggestions on the scope of the analysis 
to be included in the draft EIS (DEIS). The scope includes the range of 
alternatives to be considered and potentially significant impacts to 
the human environment that should be evaluated in the NEPA document. In 
addition, NMFS is notifying the public that, in conjunction with the 
Council, it is beginning a full environmental analysis and decision-
making process for this proposal, so interested or affected people may 
know how they can participate in the environmental analysis and 
contribute to the final decision.
    A DEIS will be prepared for comment after Council final action. The 
comment period on the DEIS will be 45 days from the date the 
Environmental Protection Agency's notice of availability appears in the 
Federal Register. It is very important that those interested in this 
proposed action participate at that time. To be most helpful, comments 
on the NEPA document should be as specific as possible and may address 
the

[[Page 31069]]

adequacy of the statement or merits of the alternatives discussed. It 
is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the 
NEPA document. Comments may also address the adequacy of the NEPA 
document or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in 
the NEPA document. (Reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing the procedural 
provisions of NEPA CFR 1503.3 in addressing these points.) Comments 
received, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will 
be considered part of the public record on this proposal and will be 
available for public inspection.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 22, 2008.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-12129 Filed 5-29-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S