Environmental Documents for Essential Fish Habitat Identification and Conservation in Alaska

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Omnibus Amendments – 2015 Under Review

In 2015 NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) conducted an EFH 5-Year Review. The review examined information within the 2005 EFH Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and determined:

  • New and more recent information and methods exists to refine EFH descriptions and maps for many managed species.
  • Using the best available science and a newly developed Fishing Effects (FE) model, changes in management with regard to fishing within EFH is not recommended at this time.
  • The non-fishing impacts analysis, including advisory EFH Conservation Recommendations, be updated with the most current level of information, including sections on ocean acidification, climate change, and ecosystem processes.


NPFMC revised the EFH sections of its Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) to address the results of the 5-year review. The NPFMC submitted Amendment 115 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, Amendment 105 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, Amendment 49 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, Amendment 13 to the FMP for the Salmon Fisheries in the EEZ Off Alaska, and Amendment 2 to the FMP for Fish Resources of the Arctic Management Area, (collectively Amendments) to the Secretary of Commerce for review. A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2018 (83 FR 9257).  Comments on the omnibus amendment package must be submitted on or before May 4, 2018.  If approved, these Amendments would revise the FMPs by updating the description and identification of EFH, and updating information on adverse impacts to EFH based on the best scientific information available. The Secretary of Commerce is expected to make his determination on the EFH Omnibus Amendments in the summer of 2018.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Omnibus Amendments - October 2012

In 2010 NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) conducted an EFH 5-Year Review. The review examined information within the 2005 EFH Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and determined:

  • New and more recent information exists to refine EFH for a small subset of managed species.
  • Certain fishing effects may be impacting sensitive habitats of Bristol Bay red king crab; however additional analysis is needed.
  • The non-fishing impacts analysis, including advisory EFH Conservation Recommendations, should be updated with the most current level of information.


NPFMC revised the EFH sections of its Fishery Management Plans to address the results of the 5-year review. The EFH Omnibus Amendments were approved in October 2012.

Final EIS for Essential Fish Habitat Identification and Conservation in Alaska​ - April 2005

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in Alaska evaluates alternatives and environmental consequences for three actions: (1) describing and identifying EFH for fisheries managed by the Council; (2) adopting an approach for the Council to identify Habitat Areas of Particular Concern within EFH; and (3) minimizing to the extent practicable the adverse effects of Council-managed fishing on EFH.

The Council reviewed the Preliminary Final EIS at its February 7-14, 2005 meeting and selected final preferred alternatives for each of the three actions. The preferred alternatives are (1) Alternative 3 - Describe and identify EFH as the revised general distribution; (2) Alternative 3 - Adopt the site-based approach for identifying Habitat Areas of Particular Concern; and (3) Alternative 5C - Establish expanded closures in the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska to minimize the effects of fishing on EFH.

Volume I: Chapters 1-9

Volume II: Appendices