Archives for July 2014


Request for Comments on Proposed Rule; International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Effort Limits in Purse Seine Fisheries for 2014

Dates: Comments must be submitted in writing by August 25, 2014.

NMFS proposes regulations under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act) to revise the 2014 limit on fishing effort by U.S. purse seine vessels in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (U.S. EEZ) and on the high seas between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S. in the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention). The total limit for 2014 would be revised from 2,588 fishing days to 1,828 fishing days. This action is necessary for the United States to implement provisions of a conservation and management measure (CMM) adopted by the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) and to satisfy the obligations of the United States under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party.

For more information or to submit your comments, click here.


National Marine Fisheries Service Announces Approval of a Marine Conservation Plan (MCP) for Northern Marianas

On July 25, 2014, NMFS published a Federal Register notice announcing that NMFS has determined that the CNMI MCP satisfies the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and approves the MCP for the 3-year period from August 4, 2014, through August 3, 2017. This MCP supersedes the one approved for the period August 4, 2011 through August 3, 2014 (76 FR 50183, August 12, 2011).

At its 160th meeting held June 24-27, 2014, in Honolulu, the Council reviewed and approved the MCP for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and recommended its submission to the Secretary for approval. On July 11, 2014, the Governor of the CNMI submitted the MCP to NMFS, the designee of the Secretary, for review and approval.

An MCP must be consistent with the Council’s fishery ecosystem plans, must identify conservation and management objectives (including criteria for determining when such objectives have been met), and must prioritize planned marine conservation projects.

The CNMI MCP contains seven conservation and management objectives, listed below. Please refer to the MCP for planned projects and activities designed to meet each objective, the evaluative criteria, and priority rankings.

MCP Objectives:

1. Improve fisheries data collection and reporting.

2. Conduct resource assessment, monitoring, and research to gain a better understanding of marine resources and fisheries.

3. Conduct enforcement training and monitoring activities to promote compliance with federal and local mandates.

4. Promote responsible domestic fisheries development to provide long-term economic growth, stability, and local food production.

5. Conduct education and outreach, enhance public participation, and build local capacity.

6. Promote an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and regional cooperation.

7. Recognize the importance of island cultures and traditional fishing practices in managing fishery resources, and foster opportunities for participation.

To view the Federal Register notice, click here.


First Stewards Symposium

Date: July 21-23, 2014     Location: Washington, DC


The First Stewards Symposium: Uniting Indigenous Voices on Climate Change kicks off at 6 p.m. Eastern Time today in Washington, DC, with the opening ceremony.

If you can’t make it to the Symposium in person, then join via Livestream!

First Stewards Symposium 2014 Flyer

Panel Descriptions



Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commissions (IATTC)

DateJuly 14-18, 2014     Location: Peru


International Pacific Marine Educators Network

Date: July 10-16, 2014     Location: Japan


NMFS to List the Indo-West Pacific Scalloped Hammerhead Shark as Threatened under the ESA

On July 3, 2014, NMFS announced their final decision to list four of the six distinct population segments (DPSs) of scalloped hammerhead sharks under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The listing will be effective on September 2, 2014. The Indo-West Pacific DPS includes American Samoa, CNMI and Guam, and will be listed as “threatened”. The Central Pacific DPS includes Hawaii and will not be listed under the ESA. In their announcement, NMFS concluded that they will not be designating critical habitat at this time for the Indo-West Pacific DPS because there is insufficient information to determine features essential to conservation with the U.S. EEZ.

For species listed as threatened, ESA Section 9 take prohibitions do not automatically apply, and NMFS must consider whether regulations are necessary for the conservation of threatened species. In the final rule, NMFS determined that take prohibitions are not necessary for the Indo-West Pacific DPS of scalloped hammerhead sharks, given that U.S. interaction with the DPS is negligible and the DPS’ risks of extinction are primarily a result of threats from foreign fishing activities.

To read the final rule, click here.

For more information on scalloped hammerhead sharks, NMFS’ decision and a map of the DPS boundaries, click here.


NMFS Continuing Humpback Whale Status Review and Soliciting Public Comments in Response to State of Alaska’s Delisting Petition

On June 26, 2014, NMFS published a 90-day finding responding to a petition from the State of Alaska to delist the Central North Pacific (CNP) humpback whales. The State of Alaska petition was submitted to NMFS in February of this year. Alaska’s petition is slightly different from the petition from the Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition (HFACT), which asked for the delisting of the entire North Pacific (NP) population of humpback whales. The CNP population is a segment of the greater NP population that spends their winter breeding season in waters off Hawaii and forage primarily off Alaska and northern British Columbia during the summer foraging season.

Consistent with their 90-day finding in response to the HFACT petition, NMFS found a “positive” 90-day finding on the State of Alaska petition, meaning that they will conduct a full review to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. NMFS had previously initiated a status review in 2009 but its completion is still pending. NMFS is continuing their status review to determine whether the HFACT and State of Alaska petitions are warranted. To ensure the status review is comprehensive, NMFS is soliciting scientific and commercial information until July 28, 2014.

To read the Federal Register notice or to submit comments, click here.