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State & Federal Boundaries for Fisheries Management in 2012

(Juneau) – Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Commissioner Cora Campbell announced today that significant progress has been made toward addressing the State of Alaska’s concerns regarding the 2006 revisions to Alaska’s baseline, from which state-federal boundary lines in waters surrounding the State of Alaska are determined.  State and federal agencies also have reached agreement about appropriate enforcement of the state and federal fisheries boundary line.

The U.S. Baseline Committee determines closing lines across entrances to bays and rivers. These closing lines serve to separate U.S. internal waters from the U.S. territorial sea.  The State of Alaska had concern about the impact of the 2006 committee action on the state/federal (Submerged Lands Act) boundary, submerged land ownership, and implications for management and enforcement of Alaska fisheries. 

 The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), for the 2012 fishing year and until further notice, has agreed to manage and enforce federal fisheries and recognize state-waters fisheries based upon the most recent (September 2011) decisions of the U.S. Baseline Committee.  The Baseline Committee’s decisions are in response to nine proposals submitted by Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, the state’s lead agency on boundary issues.  The Baseline Committee’s decision affects changes to the three-nautical-mile boundary off Uyak Bay, Akun Bay, Portage Bay, Kalekta Bay, Kachemak Bay, Aniakchak-Amber Bays, Chignik-Castle Bays, Imuya Bay, and Port Dick.  The Committee agreed with eight of the state’s nine proposals, and decisions were finalized for all areas except Chignik-Castle Bays and Kalekta Bay.  For areas where baseline changes have occurred, but have not yet been reviewed or finalized by the Baseline Committee, NOAA Fisheries intends to recognize the historical three-mile state-waters boundary line and not the 2006 changes to the Alaska baseline.

New NOAA charts were produced in October and November of 2011 for the Kachemak Bay area (NOAA charts 16640, 16645, and 16647).  These charts, which reflect the Baseline Committee’s decision, are located at: http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/AlaskaViewerTable.shtml .  Charts for the remaining areas for which final decisions were made are not expected to be produced by NOAA Fisheries until 2013.  In the interim, NOAA Fisheries will produce chartlets (small, area-specific charts) to assist with management and enforcement of the boundary line.  These chartlets are expected to be posted soon and will be located at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/3nm/ .

Vessel operators with questions should contact their local ADF&G Area Managers.

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