NOAA will not enforce 3-mile boundary lines

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2011

An agreement is now in effect in which the new three-mile line established on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s nautical charts will have no impact on state and federal fisheries management this year. Instead, state and federal jurisdiction based on longstanding maritime boundary lines will remain in effect for 2011.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Federal Fisheries Coordinator Stefanie Moreland said this agreement effectively reverses a decision for enforcement of the three-mile boundary that started in January. She said the enforcement was overturned due to negative reactions, plus an appeal from Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell.

“I am pleased that NOAA Fisheries has recognized the serious impact of enforcing the new boundary lines,” Campbell said in a press release. “It is unfortunate that fishermen were displaced from some historical fishing grounds in recent cod fisheries, but now we are back to the established lines and regulations while we work to resolve outstanding issues.”

The new boundary lines were established by the NOAA Office of Coast Survey, under authority of the U.S. Baseline Committee, as part of a nationwide mapping project. The new lines particularly affected fishery management around Kachemak Bay and the Kodiak Island.

In a Feb. 28 letter to Campbell, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab states more time is needed to resolve uncertainty and issues regarding the three-mile line and “NOAA intends to proceed for this fishing year by maintaining the status quo — that is, as though the change in the 3-mile line had no impact on the existing Federal fishery management plan and regulations and their geographic extent.”

Fish & Game states it will work with NOAA Fisheries, the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to develop coordinated fisheries management solutions if changes are necessary.

For state-federal fisheries management boundary lines now in effect, see ADF&G groundfish and shellfish statistical area charts at http://bit.ly/f2YcUe.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



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