National Fisherman


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to release its draft revised assessment document of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment this spring and complete the assessment in 2013.

In a statement at the Alaska Forum on the Environment on Tuesday, EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran spoke to the controversial watershed assessment, telling the audience what to expect as far as a timeline for releasing the draft document. The EPA plans to let peer reviewers have another look at the EPA's revised document, McLerran said.

"Today, I am announcing that we will be releasing a draft revised assessment document this spring and will be seeking additional public comment on that draft," McLerran said, according to a written copy of his speech released to press. "We are making arrangements to have the original 12 independent experts review the revised assessment and evaluate whether the revised draft has been responsive to their peer review comments. We intend to complete the assessment in 2013 after this additional round of review and comment is completed."

The EPA, which launched the assessment of the potential impact from mining in the watershed of the rich fishing ground last year, has faced criticism from many, including Alaska's lawmakers, who said the federal agency has overstepped its bounds. Today, the EPA critics also included those opposed to the Pebble Mine, a copper and gold mine prospect located in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

Pebble opponents released several statements Tuesday calling on the EPA to quicken the pace of its action, and switch to a path that included limiting future mining development in the watershed area.

Read the full story at the Dutch Harbor Fisherman>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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