JUNEAU -- A federal agency is planning to evaluate the annual quota of bowhead whales that Alaska Natives can harvest for subsistence.
The environmental review, planned by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, would cover the years 2013-2017. The last environmental review done to support the quota level was done in 2008 and covered 2008-2012.
A draft of the new plan is expected in April. A public scoping period will run through October.
In a release, NOAA said its goal is recognize cultural and subsistence needs of Alaska Natives to the fullest extent possible while also ensuring that any subsistence hunting doesn't adversely affect the conservation of the whale stock.
It said Native subsistence hunters from 11 northern Alaska communities take less than one percent of the bowhead whale stock each year.