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Soundings Archive

NMFS Performing EIS for Alaska Natives Whale Harvest
On September 22, 2011, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice Of NMFS' intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in order to assess the impacts of issuing annual quotas for the subsistence harvest of bowhead whales by Alaska Natives from 2013 through 2017. This Federal Register publication begins the official scoping period that will help identify issues and alternatives to be considered in the EIS. The scoping process will end October 31, 2011.

NMFS must annually publish a notice of aboriginal subsistence whale hunting quotas and any other limitations on such hunting in the Federal Register (50 CFR 230.6). The subsistence hunt is directly managed by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, and the quotas are issued through annual amendments to a cooperative agreement between the AEWC and NOAA. In order to comprehensively assess the effects of these annual quotas, NMFS is proposing to set the term of this analysis to extend over a 5-year period, beginning in 2013.

Major issues to be addressed in this EIS include: the impact of subsistence removals on the Western Arctic stock of bowhead whales; the impacts of these harvest levels on the traditional and cultural values of Alaska Natives, and the cumulative effects of the action when considered along with climate change and past, present, and future actions potentially affecting bowhead whales.

The official scoping period is from the date of publication in the Federal Register of this document until October 31, 2011. NMFS estimates the draft EIS will be available in April 2012.

  • Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice
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