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Shape the Future of Kachemak Bay - Comments Due Nov. 4

Posted by Bob Shavelson at Oct 20, 2016 07:55 PM |
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) is revising the management plan for Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas. This process is now in the “scoping phase,” which means ADFG is looking for the issues it should address in the management plan revision. Scoping comments are due November 4
Shape the Future of Kachemak Bay - Comments Due Nov. 4

What’s Happening: The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) is revising the management plan for Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas.  This process is now in the “scoping phase,” which means ADFG is looking for the issues it should address in the management plan revision. Scoping comments are due November 4.  Read Inletkeeper's comments HERE and see below for information how to submit comments.

Background: The Alaska Legislature established the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas (CHAs) in 1974 (AS 16.20.590) and 1972 (AS 16.20.580) respectively.  The purpose of these CHA’s is “to protect and preserve habitat areas especially crucial to the perpetuation of fish and wildlife, and to restrict all other uses not compatible with that primary purpose.” AS 16.20.500.  To implement these Critical Habitat Area protections, ADFG adopts management plans; ADFG last revised the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats management plan in 1993.  Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats are spectacular places which support world-class fish, plant and wildlife resources.  These incredible assets have led to Kachemak Bay’s designation as a National Estuarine Research Reserve, a NOAA Habitat Focus Area, and Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site.

Why Be Concerned? In 2013, the Parnell Administration made a frontal assault on Alaska’s Special Habitat Areas (i.e., Critical Habitat Areas, Game Refuges & Sanctuaries).  Inletkeeper lead a coalition opposing these short-sighted rollbacks, and fortunately, we prevailed.  Unfortunately, hold-over staff from the Parnell Administration want to dilute the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats management plans, and make it easier for ADFG to issue permits for activities that undermine the purposes of the critical habitat areas.

Scoping Issues: The following is a list of suggested issues for ADFG to consider when revising the Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Areas Management Plan

  • All goals, policies and standards must comply with the CHA’s statutory purpose - i.e., “to protect and preserve habitat areas especially crucial to the perpetuation of fish and wildlife, and to restrict all other uses not compatible with that primary purpose.”
  • ADFG must establish clear, enforceable standards to protect and preserve important habitat, and to restrict incompatible uses.  ADFG must use mandatory, nondiscretionary language to promote predictability and ensure uniform protections throughout Kachemak Bay.
  • In light of rapid changes in our climate and the increasing acidification of our ocean, ADFG should embrace the Precautionary Principle, and adopt a management plan which builds resiliency into the Kachemak Bay/Fox River Flats bioregion.
  • ADFG should address all the topics and issues covered in the current management plan’s policies.  In addition, it should address:

--climate change & ocean acidification
--large & small vessel mooring & storage
--commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence fishing
--off-road & human-powered vehicles
--styrofoam floats & plastics pollution
--sewage discharges
--benthic disturbances
--sonar usage
--aesthetic impacts

  • ADFG should provide a side-by-side comparison showing where and how the new draft management plan differs from the current management plan.
  • ADFG should use the latest mapping and other information from state, federal and local sources, including but not limited to NOAA multi-band bathymetry, Alaska Ocean Observing System data, and GIS layers available from the Kenai Borough, the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, ADFG, DNR and other sources.
  • ADFG SHOULD NOT include jetskis and/or personal watercraft in the revised management plan, because these vehicles are already banned after a long public process (see 5 AAC 95.310).

 

Submit Comments by November 4, 2016:

Habitat Division, ADF&G, 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, AK 99518-1555

  • Fax comments to 907.267.2499

 

For more information, contact Inletkeeper at 907.299.3277 or bob@inletkeeper.org