Federal Register Notices

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FR Notice – Hawaii Shallow-Set Pelagic Longline Fishery; Court Order (Oct. 2, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: This final rule revises from 34 to 17 the annual number of allowable incidental interactions that may occur between the Hawaii shallow-set pelagic longline fishery and North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles, in compliance with an order of the U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii.
DATES: Effective January 1, 2019.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Harman, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, 808–725–5170.

Click here for complete FR Notice

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FR Notice – Reclassifying Management Unit Species to Ecosystem Component Species (Sept. 13, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to reclassify certain management unit species in the Pacific Islands as ecosystem component species. The proposed rule would also update the scientific and local names of certain species. The intent of this proposed rule is to prioritize conservation and management efforts and to improve efficiency of fishery management in the region.
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FR Notice – U.S. Purse Seine Fishery in the WCPO Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS (Aug. 23, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; announcement of public scoping period; request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS is gathering information necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for future management actions for the U.S. purse seine fishery in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). This notice of intent to prepare an EIS represents the beginning of the public scoping process and invites interested parties to provide comments on alternatives to be considered in an EIS and to identify potential issues, concerns, and any reasonable additional alternatives that should be considered.
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FR Notice – Request for Comments on Ecosystem Component Species (Aug. 8, 2018)

Action

Notice of availability of fishery ecosystem plan amendments; request for comments.

Summary

NMFS announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEP) for American Samoa, the Mariana Archipelago, and Hawaii. Amendment 4 to the American Samoa FEP, Amendment 5 to the Marianas FEP, and Amendment 5 to the Hawaii FEP would reclassify certain management unit species as ecosystem component species. The intent of these amendments is to focus management efforts on species that are in need of conservation and management, and improve efficiency of fishery management in the region.

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FR Notice – Request for Comments on Proposed Specifications for 2018 US Territory Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits (Aug. 8, 2018)

Action

Proposed specifications; request for comments.

Summary

NMFS proposes a 2018 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)). NMFS would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. The proposed catch limits and accountability measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

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NMFS Announces Final Rule Designating ESA Critical Habitat for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whales

On July 24, 2018, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a final rule to designate critical habitat for the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) insular false killer whale distinct population segment (DPS). The critical habitat encompasses waters from 45-meter depth contour to the 3,200-meter depth contour around the main Hawaiian Islands, with 14 areas excluded from designation based on economic or national security impacts.
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FR Notice – Closure of Southern Exclusion Zone to Hawaii Longline Vessels (July 18, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Temporary rule; area closure; request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the Southern Exclusion Zone (SEZ) to deep-set longline fishing through December 31, 2018, for all vessels registered under the Hawaii longline limited access program, as a result of the fishery reaching the established annual trigger of two observed false killer whale mortalities or serious injuries (M&SI) in the fishery within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Hawaii. This action is necessary to comply with False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan (Plan) regulations that establish the SEZ closure trigger and procedures to limit M&SI of false killer whales in the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery.
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FR Notice – WCPFC CMM 2017-01 WCPO restrictions for US Purse Seine and US Longline Vessels (July 18, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: Under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act), NMFS issues this final rule that establishes limits on fishing effort by U.S. purse seine vessels in the U.S. exclusive economic zone 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); restrictions regarding the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) for U.S. purse seine fishing vessels; limits on the catches of bigeye tuna by U.S. longline vessels in the Convention area; prohibitions on U.S. vessels used to fish for highly migratory species from engaging in transshipment in a particular area of the high seas (the Eastern High Seas Special Management Area or EHSSMA); and removal of existing reporting requirements for vessels transiting the EHSSMA. The rule also makes corrections to outdated cross references in existing regulatory text. This action is necessary to satisfy the obligations of the United States under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party.
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FR Notice – Request for Nominations to the Marine Mammal Scientific Review Groups (July 16, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for nominations.

SUMMARY: As required by of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Secretary of Commerce established three independent regional scientific review groups (SRGs) to provide advice on a range of marine mammal science and management issues. NMFS conducted a membership review of the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific SRGs, and is soliciting nominations for new members to fill vacancies and gaps in expertise.
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FR Notice – 5-Year Extension of Moratorium on Harvest of Gold Corals (June 14, 2018)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: This final rule extends the region-wide moratorium on the harvest of gold corals in the U.S. Pacific Islands through June 30, 2023. NMFS intends this final rule to prevent overfishing and to stimulate research on gold corals.

DATES: This rule is effective July 16, 2018.
ADDRESSES: Background information on Pacific Island precious coral fisheries is found in the fishery ecosystem plans available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel (808) 522–8220, fax (808) 522–8226, or www.wpcouncil.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Taylor, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries, (808)725–5182.

Click here for FR Notice.