post

Permanent Advisory Committee to advice the U.S. Commissioners to the WCPFC (Teleconference)

Date: June 10, 2019 Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: Teleconference – see FR Notice to register

post

FR Notice – Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Procedures for the Active and Inactive Vessel Register (April 16, 2019)

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: NMFS is proposing regulations under the Tuna Conventions
Act of 1950 (TCA), as amended, to implement International Maritime
Organization (IMO) requirements in Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Resolution C–18–06 (Resolution (Amended) on a Regional Vessel Register) and amendments to existing regulations related to the IATTC Regional Vessel Register (Vessel Register) for purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). The proposed rule would expand the IMO number requirements to include certain categories of smaller U.S. vessels fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the EPO. The proposed rule would also modify regulations associated with the Vessel Register and prohibition and incidental catch provisions. These revisions would provide more clarity and make U.S. regulations more consistent with the IATTC management framework, while allowing controlled operational flexibility for the U.S. industry.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be submitted in writing by May 16, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0030, by any of the following methods:

• Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0030, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

• Mail: Submit written comments to Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2018–0030’’ in the comments.

Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change.

All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2018–0030, or by contacting Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802, or emailing WCR.HMS@noaa.gov.

Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office at the address listed above, by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or by fax to (202) 395–5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Studt, NMFS, West Coast Region, 562–980–4073.

post

General Advisory Committee (GAC) to the U.S. Section to the IATTC and Scientific Advisory Subcommittee to GAC

GAC to the U.S. Section to the IATTC
Date: June 5, 2019 Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA

Scientific Advisory Subcommittee to GAC
Date: June 4, 2019 Time: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Location: NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA


post

Press Release – New Turtle Limits Recommended to Re-Open Swordfish Fishery (15 April 2019)

HONOLULU (15 April 2019) Federal fishery managers on Friday concluded its nearly year-long effort to provide relief to the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery for swordfish. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council at its 177th Meeting held on April 12, 2019, recommended revised fleet-wide sea turtle interaction limits along with new individual trip-based interaction limits. A recent draft Biological Opinion (BiOp) developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provided managers with a basis for a new limit for loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions, potentially allowing the fishery to be re-opened this year. The fishery closed this year on March 19 due to interactions with 17 loggerhead turtles, all of which were released alive.

Every vessel for every trip of the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery has a federal observer that ensures accurate monitoring of interactions with protected species. The North Pacific loggerhead population is growing annually at 2.4 percent, but a court settlement in May 2018 reduced the fishery’s allowable interaction with the species from 34 to 17. The cap of 17 may be modified when NMFS finalizes the new BiOp for the fishery and issues new regulations based on the Council’s recommendations.

In June 2018, the Council recommended annual limits of North Pacific loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions consistent with what was set forth in the upcoming BiOp. The draft BiOp released on March 28, 2019, requires NMFS to set an annual limit of 36 loggerhead turtles and 16 leatherback turtles for this fishery. The Council recommended these limits to be implemented under regulations for the Council’s Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) and further recommended that the existing turtle interactions occurring from January 1 to March 19, 2019, apply toward the new limits, essentially allowing the fishery to re-open.

The Council maintained its June 2018 recommendation to implement an individual trip limit of five loggerhead turtles, and additionally recommended a trip limit of two leatherback turtles. If a vessel reaches either of the limits during a fishing trip, the vessel must return to port but would be allowed to target swordfish again on the next trip.

The Council’s recommendation was in contrast to annual vessel-based limits of six loggerhead turtles and two leatherback turtles that NMFS is proposing in the draft BiOp, which would prohibit vessels from targeting swordfish for the remainder of the year if they reached their individual limit. The Council found that this measure would create undue economic hardship to the fishery while providing little additional turtle conservation benefit.

Roger Dang, whose family has fished with longline vessels out of Hawai’i for more than 30 years, criticized the vessel limit proposed in draft BiOp. “This is not the solution,” he said. A vessel limit of two leatherback interactions would deter vessels from entering the shallow-set fishery to target swordfish and thus diminish the fleet’s ability to provide swordfish for the US domestic market, he explained. “Ecuador in the last year, from 2017 to 2018, increased its production by almost 100 percent, Costa Rica 80 percent, and they’re both bigger fisheries than the Hawai’i product,” Dang added. “The majority of the swordfish product in the US right now is the South American product.”

“The Council’s recommendation today, although highly restrictive on the fleet, will allow Hawai’i vessels to continue supplying fresh, highly monitored swordfish while supporting industry-led solutions to addressing rare sea turtle interactions in the fishery,” said Eric Kingma, executive director of the Hawai’i Longline Association. Dean Sensui, the Council’s Hawai’i vice chair, added “The actions taken by the Council today ensures that Hawai’i’s fishermen continue to provide fresh sustainable seafood to the community and at the same time adds additional protection for sea turtles in the Western Pacific.” The Hawai’i shallow-set longline fishery operates in waters North of Hawai’i and catches swordfish that is sold both in Hawai’i and the US Mainland. It produces approximately half of the US domestic swordfish.

For the agenda and background materials on the meeting, go to www.wpcouncil.org or contact the Council at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or (808) 522-8220. The Council was established by Congress in 1976 and has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters of Hawai’i, Guam, American Samoa, the CNMI and the Pacific remote islands. Recommendations that are regulatory in nature are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and then implemented by NMFS and enforced by NMFS and the US Coast Guard.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai’i governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Michael Duenas, fisherman (Guam) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawai’i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai’i); McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui Kona Sportfishing (CNMI); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai’i). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai’i Department of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muna-Brecht, Guam Department of Agriculture; Raymond Roberto, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Henry Sesepasara, American Samoa Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.

Click PDF for printable version

post

Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review Territory Bottomfish Meeting

Date: April 15-19, 2019          Time: 8:30 am  – 5:00 pm
Location: Council office, Honolulu, HI

Territory BF WPSAR Public Mtg FR Notice

post

Biological Opinion Review Advisory Panel (Meeting date has changed)

Date: April 12, 2019 Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am (HST)
Location: Council Office via Teleconference

post

177th Council Meeting (Teleconference)

Meeting venues will be hosted simultaneously in each island area at the following locations and times. The teleconference will be conducted by telephone and by web. The teleconference numbers are: U.S. toll-free: 1–888–482–3560 or International Access: +1 647 723–3959, and Access Code: 5228220. The webinar portion can be accessed at https://wprfmc.webex.com/join/ info.wpcouncilnoaa.gov.

177th Council Meeting Agenda
177th CM FR Notice with corrections
177th CM Summary of Action Items

Honolulu
Date: April 12, 2019 Time: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm (HST)
Location: Council Conference Room, 1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, Tel: (808)522-8220; FAX (808) 522-8226

American Samoa
Date: April 12, 2019 Time: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (American Samoa ST)
Location: Native American Samoa Advisory Council Office Conference Room, Pava’ia’i Village, Pago Pago, American Samoa, 96799

Marianas
Date: April 13, 2019 Time: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm (Guam and CNMI, Marianas ST)

CNMI
Location: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Lower Base Drive, Saipan, MP 96950, Tel: (670) 322-9834

And

Guam
Location: Guam Hilton Resort and Spa, 202 Hilton Road, Tumon Bay, Guam 96913, Tel: (671) 646-1835

177th Council Meeting Documents

02(1) 177th Council Meeting Public Agenda
03(1) Draft SSLL Biological Opinion
05(1) SSLL Turtle Framework Draft EA

post

41st U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting

Date: April 4, 2019 Time: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Location: Department of Interior Auditorium, Washington, DC 20240

FR Notice

post

Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) Steering Committee Meeting

Date: April 3, 2019 Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: Council Office

post

Press Release – New Dates, Times for Meeting to Address Sea Turtles Interactions with Hawaii Longline Fishery for Sustainably Caught Swordfish (29 March 2019)

HONOLULU (29 March 2019)

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has announced that the Biological Opinion (BiOp) Review Advisory Panel meeting scheduled for April 2 and the 177th Council meeting scheduled to be held April 4 have been postponed. The new date and time for the BiOp Review Advisory Panel is April 12 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST). The agenda is review of the BiOp for the Hawaii-based shallow-set longline fishery for swordfish. The new date for the Council meeting is April 12 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (HST) or noon to 3 p.m. Samoa Standard Time and April 13 from 9 a.m. to noon Chamorro Standard Time. The meeting will be held by teleconference and webinar. The Council will discuss the Draft BiOp for the Hawaii-based shallow-set longline fishery for swordfish as well as management of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtle interactions in that fishery (final action).

.
The Hawaii longline swordfish fishery closed on March 19 after it interacted with the 17th loggerhead turtle for the year. All of the turtles were released alive. The fishery has 100 percent observer coverage, i.e., a federal observer is on every vessel on every trip to monitor protected species interactions. This observer coverage level is extraordinary and an order of magnitude higher than other competing fishing nations. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission requirement is only 5 percent coverage, which most other nations have not met. The United States also operates with measures to reduce and report bycatch at levels that other fishing nations do not implement.
.
“Closure of this healthy, underutilized fishery is not only an economic loss for the Hawaii fishery but also has no discernible stock conservation benefit for the Pacific,” notes Council Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds. “The catch from the Hawaii fleet will be supplanted by the catch from foreign fleets that have far less monitoring and bycatch mitigation.”
.
The United States was usurped by Taiwan in the late 1990s as the second leading fishing nation to harvest North Pacific swordfish (Japan leads in landings) as US landings declined. The Hawaii fishery accounted for between 55 percent (2017 and 2008) to 34 percent (2012) of the US domestic swordfish landings.
.
Projections of the stock through 2026 along with recommendations by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean determined that the stock is not fully utilized and could withstand a significant, yet sustainable increase in harvest. Such an increase in harvest of about 50 percent from recent catches to near maximum sustainable yield would maintain a healthy stock.
.
The North Pacific swordfish stock was assessed in 2018 and determined to be nearly double spawning stock biomass at maximum sustainable yield (87 percent over SSBMSY) with fishing mortality determined to be less than half of fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield (45 percent of FMSY). Spawning stock biomass has increased nearly by 10,000 metric tons since 2000 and has not breached below its commonly used biological reference point (SSBMSY) in any year in the stock’s assessment timeline (1975-2016). The stock had only been considered to be experiencing overfishing (breaching FMSY) in 1993.
.
Lack of supply from the sustainable Hawaii shallow-set fishery may increase pressure on other swordfish stocks to meet market demands. This may have inadvertent consequences to stocks, such as those in the Atlantic, that are not as healthy as the North Pacific stock.
.
The BiOp Review Advisory Panel meeting will be held by teleconference and webinar. The host site is the Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu. The teleconference number is US toll free (888) 482-3560 or international access +1 (647) 723-3959; the access code is 5228220. The webinar url is https://wprfmc.webex.com/join/info.wpcouncilnoaa.gov.
The 177th Council meeting teleconference number is US toll free (888) 482-3560 or international access +1 (647) 723-3959; the access code is 5228220.
.
The webinar url is https://wprfmc.webex.com/join/info.wpcouncilnoaa.gov. Host sites are a) Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu; b) Native American Samoa Advisory Council Office Conference Rm., Pava’ia’i Village, Pago Pago, American Samoa; c) Guam Hilton Resort and Spa, 202 Hilton Rd., Tumon Bay, Guam; and d) Department of Land and Natural Resources Conference Rm., Lower Base Dr., Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
.
For the agendas and background materials on the meetings, go to www.wpcouncil.org or contact the Council at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or (808) 522-8220.
.
The Council was established by Congress in 1976 and has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters of Hawai’i, Guam, American Samoa, the CNMI and the Pacific remote islands. Recommendations that are regulatory in nature are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and then implemented by that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and enforced by NMFS and the US Coast Guard.
.
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, Hawaii Goes Fishing (Hawaii) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawaii); McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui Kona Sportfishing (CNMI); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawaii). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources; Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasra, American Samoa Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.