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NOAA seeks input on study to determine annual bowhead whale subsistence quotas


Juneau, AK — NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is announcing its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to support the setting of annual quotas for bowhead whale subsistence harvest by Alaska Natives for 2013-2017. NOAA last prepared an EIS for this purpose in 2008 for the years 2008-2012.

NOAA’s goal is to accommodate federal trust responsibilities by recognizing cultural and subsistence needs of Alaska Natives to the fullest extent possible, while ensuring that any subsistence hunt of whales does not adversely affect the conservation of the whale stock.

Under the authority of the International Whaling Commission, NOAA Fisheries grants a quota of bowhead whale for subsistence hunts to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, based on analysis in the EIS. The AEWC then directly manages the subsistence hunts.

For over 2,000 years, Eskimos have hunted bowhead whales as they migrate along the coastline of Alaska in the spring and fall. Native subsistence hunters from 11 northern Alaskan communities take less than one-percent of the stock of bowhead whales per year.

Publication of the notice of intent to prepare the EIS in the Federal Register begins the official scoping period that will help identify issues and alternatives to be considered in the EIS. The scoping period will end October 31, 2011, and all comments must be submitted by close of business on that date. NOAA fisheries estimates the draft EIS will be available in April 2012.

Federal, state, and local agencies, Alaska Natives, and other interested persons are invited to participate in the EIS process. Submit comments by one of the following methods, identified by Bowhead Whale Quota EIS, NOAA-NMFS-2011-0225 in the subject line: 

* Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.
* Hand delivery: Juneau Federal Building: 709 W. 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK
* FAX: 907-586-7557
* Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov.

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