Puget Sound salmon harvest RMP - Notice of Intent to Prepare EIS

(Comment period closed as of June 18, 2018.)

NOAA Fisheries made available for public review its Notice of Intent (NOI) to draft an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the effects of the Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Resource Management Plan (RMP) under joint development by the Puget Sound Treaty Indian Tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (the co-managers) for fisheries management in the Puget Sound area.

The co-managers are developing the RMP under the continuing jurisdiction of the Federal court proceeding United States v. Washington for a 10-year period. The RMP includes a harvest management framework for all commercial, recreational, and ceremonial & subsistence salmon fisheries that affect Chinook salmon in the marine waters and rivers of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound from the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca through deep South Sound.

The Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The co-managers intend to provide the RMP to NOAA Fisheries for determination of whether the RMP meets the requirements of Limit 6 of the ESA 4(d) Rule for salmon and steelhead and thus qualifies for the exemption from ESA section 9(a) as provided in the 4(d) Rule. As part of its review, NOAA Fisheries will complete an EIS under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), analyzing the effects and impacts of the potential decision.

While the RMP is not yet finalized, NOAA Fisheries has started the EIS process because the NEPA encourages Federal agencies to integrate the NEPA process with other planning at the earliest possible time to ensure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values, to avoid delays later in the process, and to head off potential conflicts. The co-managers have shared a draft of the RMP, on which NOAA Fisheries has provided comments. We anticipate the final RMP will include the same management framework as the draft – specifically, application of a combination of management-unit-specific escapement thresholds and exploitation rate ceilings to manage the fisheries. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website contains the on-going discussions between NOAA Fisheries and the co-managers to give a sense of how the final RMP may compare with the draft RMP.

To inform development of the EIS, NOAA Fisheries is sought the public’s input regarding the resources and alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS and invites comments from all interested parties. NOAA Fisheries will consider all comments that are relevant to the proposed action and its alternatives that comply with the requirements of NEPA. We welcome comments on any aspect of the EIS we will be drafting, and are particularly seeking comments on ecosystem considerations, including the conservation and harvest of Puget Sound Chinook salmon, effects on the ESA-listed Southern Resident killer whales, and needs of other wildlife.

Following this scoping period and the submittal of a final RMP to NOAA Fisheries for consideration under the 4(d) rule, NOAA Fisheries will issue a draft EIS for public comment.

For further information, contact Emi Kondo, NMFS West Coast Region, by phone at (503) 736-4739, or by email at emi.kondo@noaa.gov.

Access to the previous Environmental Impact Statement, the draft RMP, and the Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register is provided below.

Resources

Draft Resource Management Plan PDF Formatted Document 5.9 MB

2004 Environmental Impact Statement PDF Formatted Document 24.6 MB

Federal Register Notice of Intent to Prepare EIS (83 FR 19528, May 3, 2018)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Website for the draft Resource Management Plan (Draft Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook)