July 6 deadline for public comments on proposed commercial fishing closure

The proposal is part of the Fishery Management Plan for the Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone in Cook Inlet.

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)

The deadline to submit public comment to the proposal to close part of Cook Inlet waters to commercial salmon fishing is approaching.

The public has until July 6 to submit comments on the proposal, which would close the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to commercial salmon fishing from around Anchor Point to the Clam Gulch and Kasilof areas.

The proposal is part of the Fishery Management Plan for the Salmon Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska, first created by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council over 40 years ago.

The council has worked from 2017 to 2020 to develop the new amendment to the original management plan, concluding that the Cook Inlet closure to commercial salmon fishing will optimize conservation and the management of Cook Inlet fisheries, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division said in a press release last week.

“This action takes the most precautionary approach to minimizing the potential for overfishing, avoids creating new management uncertainty, minimizes regulatory burden to fishery participants, and maximizes management efficiency for Cook Inlet salmon fisheries,” the release stated.

There is also the potential for the state providing additional harvest opportunities to make up for the EEZ closure, the release stated, by adopting management measures.

People who fish for the drift gillnet fishery could continue to do so in the Cook Inlet’s state waters.

The final rule on the amendment to the management plan to close part of the Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing will be published in the Federal Register by Dec. 11. If approved by the secretary of commerce, it’s likely to be in effect for the 2022 fishing season.

Public comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov or by mail to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802 by July 6. They must be addressed to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Susan Meyer. Comments must also be identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2015-0081.

Comments to the announcement of availability of fishery, which also details the new amendment, can be found at the federal register web page. They are required by no later than July 19.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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