Fishery Management Plan and Amendments: FMP: Amendment 28

Amendment 28:  Pacific Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat, Rockfish Conservation Area Modifications, and Magnuson Act Discretionary Closures

Amendment 28 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) was approved by the Council in April 2018.  It 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 the suite of FMP appendices and makes other EFH-related changes.

June 2019 Amendment 28 documents

  • Visit the Amendment 28 proposed rule webpage (including links to the Notice of Availability of the FMP Amendment, and other supporting information, including geo-spatial data ).  Comment on the proposed rule via Regulations.gov. Go to NOAA-NMFS-2019-0039, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.  Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by September 16, 2019.
  • Final Environmental Impact Statement for this action, published July 25, 2019
  • Amendment 28 Proposed FMP Amendment (published in the Federal Register June 11, 2019)
  • Amendment 28 Proposed Changes (track changes; June 2019 Secretarial Review Draft)
  • Appendix C Part 1: The Effects of Fishing on Groundfish Habitat: West Coast Perspective
  • Appendix C Part 2: Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan EFH Conservation Areas – Coordinates (Excel Spreadsheet)
  • Appendix B Part 2: Groundfish EFH and Life History Descriptions, Habitat Use Database Description, and Habitat Suitability Probability Information
  • Appendix D: Non-Fishing Effects on West Coast Groundfish Essential Fish Habitat and Recommended Conservation Measures

Amendment 28 Background

Pacific Coast Groundfish EFH was most recently established in 2006, as part of Amendment 19 to the Groundfish FMP. After completion of a periodic EFH review in 2014, the Council determined that new information warranted consideration of changes to groundfish EFH, and initiated a process to develop alternatives. The Council has also been considering changes to the trawl rockfish conservation area. Because the rationale and effects of the two actions are interrelated (i.e., restricting or allowing bottom trawling in designated areas), the Council merged the two efforts into a single action, under Amendment 28 to the Groundfish FMP.

At its April 2018 meeting, the Council took final action and selected a final preferred alternative, consisting of the following:

  • Reopen the groundfish trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA) off Oregon and California to bottom trawling
  • Modify the current configuration of EFH Conservation Areas (EFHCAs) where groundfish bottom trawl gear is prohibited coastwide. This includes a new EFHCA 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 took final action to reopen approximately 3,000 square miles to groundfish bottom trawling, close approximately 13,000 square miles (including almost all of the Southern California Bight), and close approximately 123,000 square miles to all bottom contact groundfish gear, in waters deeper than 3,500 meters.