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Federal Guidance Letter for the March PFMC meetings. Management needed to protect salmon stocks

To: Mr. Brad Pettinger, Chair of Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC)
From: Jennifer Quan, NOAA Regional Administrator

Click Here to download the entire Guidance Letter (PDF file)

The Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP) requires that the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) annually develop management recommendations for salmon fisheries under the FMP. For fisheries that affect species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) carries out intra-agency consultations under ESA section 7 to ensure that the fisheries do not jeopardize any listed species or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat. NMFS documents its consultations in biological opinions, which may include reasonable and prudent alternatives and/or reasonable and prudent measures to ensure that the fisheries are carried out consistent with ESA requirements. The Council’s management recommendations must be consistent with the biological opinions and any other requirements described in ESA regulatory documents relevant to the fisheries developed by NOAA NMFS (referred to in the FMP as consultation standards). This letter summarizes the consultation standards for ESA-listed salmon, steelhead, and Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) affected by Council fisheries, and provides NMFS’ preliminary guidance regarding their implementation for the 2024 ocean salmon fishing season.1

NMFS West Coast Region expects the Council salmon fisheries in the coastal waters of the EEZ in 2024 will meet the conservation objectives for salmon stocks managed under the FMP and be responsive to the abundance of salmon stocks including the guidance described in the preceding sections.

We also comment on other subjects of general interest and provide NMFS’ recommendations for non- ESA-listed salmon stocks of particular relevance to Council salmon fisheries. For the 2024 salmon fishing season, these include: recommendations regarding expectations in implementing the provisions of the 2019-2028 Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) Agreement related to Council management, and recommendations for fisheries affecting Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon and Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon.

Conclusion: We look forward to working with the Council to develop 2024 ocean salmon fishery management measures consistent with the conservation and management objectives of the FMP, the Magnuson- Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act, and the ESA. We are committed to working with the Council to address the issues outlined in this letter. To discuss this guidance further, please contact Ryan Wulff, Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries at 916-930-3733 or Ryan.Wulff@noaa.gov.


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