Groundfish essential fish habitat, Rockfish Conservation Area modifications, and Magnuson-Stevens Act discretionary closures
Amendment 28 includes a new configuration of areas closed to bottom trawling to protect essential fish habitat (EFH); it removes the trawl rockfish conservation area off Oregon and California; and it includes a deep water closure of groundfish bottom contact fishing in West Coast waters deeper than 3500 meters. Amendment 28 also revises several fishery management plans (FMP) appendices related to EFH and makes other EFH-related changes.
- Final rule (effective January 1, 2020) and correction
- Amendment 28 approval letter dated September 9, 2019
- Amendment 28 proposed changes (track changes; June 2019 Secretarial Review Draft)
- Revised groundfish FMP Appendix B (Part 2): Groundfish EFH and Life History Descriptions, Habitat Use Database Description, and Habitat Suitability Probability Information
- Revised groundfish FMP Appendix C (Part 1): The Effects of Fishing on Groundfish Habitat: West Coast Perspective
- Revised groundfish FMP Appendix C (Part 2): Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan EFH Conservation Areas – Coordinates (Excel Spreadsheet)
- Revised groundfish FMP Appendix D: Non-Fishing Effects on West Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat and Recommended Conservation Measures
- Final EIS Amendment 28 July 26, 2019
Amendment 28 background
Essential fish habitat for Pacific Coast groundfish was defined in 2006 as part of Amendment 19 to the groundfish FMP. After a periodic EFH review was completed in 2014, the Council determined that new information that had come forward during the review warranted consideration of changes to groundfish EFH. The Council began developing alternatives and, separately, considered changes to the trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA). These efforts were merged into a single action under Amendment 28 to the groundfish FMP.
In April 2018, the Council took final action and selected a final preferred alternative:
- Reopen the groundfish trawl RCA off Oregon and California to bottom trawling.
- Modify the current configuration of EFH Conservation Areas where groundfish bottom trawl gear is prohibited coastwide. This includes a new EFH Conservation Area prohibiting groundfish bottom trawl gear in most of the Southern California Bight.
- Prohibit use of all groundfish bottom contact gear in waters off California deeper than 3,500 meters.
In all, the Council’s action reopened approximately 3,000 square miles to groundfish bottom trawling, closed approximately 13,000 square miles (including almost all of the Southern California Bight), and closed approximately 123,000 square miles to all bottom contact groundfish gear in waters deeper than 3,500 meters.