Federal Register Notices

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FR Notice – Restrictions on the Use of Fish Aggregating Devices in Purse Seine Fisheries, and Transshipment Prohibitions (May 10, 2018)

Action
Proposed rule; request for comments.

Summary

NMFS seeks comments on this proposed rule issued under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act). The proposed rule would implement recent decisions of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC or Commission). These decisions include the following management measures: 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 The rule also would make corrections to outdated cross references in existing regulatory text.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.

Dates

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by May 25, 2018.
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FR Notice – 2018 Annual Determination To Implement the Sea Turtle Observer Requirement (May 10, 2018)

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

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final Annual Determination (AD) for 2018, pursuant to its authority under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Through the AD, NMFS identifies U.S. fisheries operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean that will be required to take fisheries observers upon NMFS’ request. The purpose of observing identified fisheries is to learn more about sea turtle interactions in a given fishery, evaluate measures to prevent or reduce sea turtle takes and to implement the prohibition against sea turtle takes. Fisheries identified on the 2018 AD (see Table 1) will be eligible to carry observers as of the effective date of this rulemaking, and will remain on the AD for a five-year period until December 31, 2022.
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FR Notice – Fishing Restrictions for Tropical Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean for 2018 to 2020 (April 11, 2018)

SUMMARY: NMFS is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C–17–02 (Conservation Measures for Tropical Tunas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2018–2020 and Amendment to Resolution C–17–01), which was adopted at the 92nd Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in July 2017. This final rule implements the C–17–02 fishing management measures for tropical tuna (i.e., bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)) in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). This final rule imposes the following on purse seine vessels with carrying capacity greater than 182 metric tons (mt) fishing for tropical tuna in the EPO: A 72-day EPO- wide closure, a 31-day area closure, and a requirement that—with some exceptions—all tropical tuna be retained and landed. In addition, this final rule revises the restrictions for exemptions due to force majeure, establishes a bigeye tuna catch limit of 750 mt for U.S. longline vessels greater than 24 meters in overall length, and regulates the use and design of fish aggregating devices. This final rule is necessary for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks in the EPO and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC.
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FR Notice – List of Fisheries for 2018 (Feb. 7, 2018) (Final Rule)

SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2018, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The LOF for 2018 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level
of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan (TRP) requirements.

DATES: The applicability date of this final rule is March 9, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected
Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

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FR Notice – 2018 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Lobster Harvest Guideline (Jan. 23, 2018)

SUMMARY: NMFS establishes the annual harvest guideline for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for calendar year 2018 at zero lobsters.
DATES: January 23, 2018.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Harman, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries, tel. 808–725–5170.
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FR Notice – Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review of the draft 2017 benchmark stock assessments for Guam coral reef fish (Jan. 18, 2018)

SUMMARY: NMFS and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) of the draft 2017 benchmark stock assessments for Guam coral reef fish.

DATES: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for meeting dates, times, and daily agenda.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Seki, Director, NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), tel 808–725–5360.

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FR Notice – 2017 Purse Seine FAD Fishery Closure (Dec. 13, 2017)

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; fishery closure.

SUMMARY: NMFS announces that U.S. purse seine vessels will be prohibited from fishing on fish aggregating devices (FADs) 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) in the area between the latitudes of 20° N.  and 20° S., as a result of reaching the 2017 limit on FAD sets. This action is taken to enable the United States to implement provisions of a conservation and management measure adopted by the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC or Commission) and to satisfy the obligations of the United States under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party.

DATES: Effective 00:00 on December 24, 2017, universal time coordinated (UTC), until 24:00 on December 31, 2017 UTC.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rini Ghosh, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, 808–725–5033.

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FR Notice – 2017 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Bigeye Tuna Fishery; Closure (Nov. 30, 2017)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean because the fishery will reach the 2017 allocation limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This action is necessary to comply with regulations managing this fish stock.

DATES: Effective 12:01 a.m. local time December 6, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5176.

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FR Notice – Fishing Restrictions for Tropical Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean for 2018 to 2020 (Nov. 14, 2017)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement provisions included in Resolution C–17–02 (Conservation Measures for Tropical Tunas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2018–2020), which was adopted at the 92nd Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC or Commission) in July 2017. This proposed rule would implement the C–17–02 management measures for tropical tuna (i.e., bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)) for 2018 to 2020 in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). The proposed rule would impose on purse seine vessels of class sizes 4–6 (carrying capacity greater than 182 metric tons (mt)) fishing for tropical tuna in the EPO: A 72-day closure, a 31-day area closure, and a requirement that—with some exceptions—all tropical tuna be retained and landed. In addition, this proposed rule would revise the restrictions for force majeure, establish a bigeye tuna catch limit of 750 mt for U.S. longline vessels greater than 24 meters (m) in overall length, and regulate the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs). This proposed rule is necessary for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks in the EPO and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC.
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FR Notice – Proposed Rulemaking To Designate Critical Habitat for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment (Nov. 3, 2017)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, propose to designate critical habitat for the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) distinct population segment by designating waters from the 45-meter (m) depth contour to the 3200-m depth contour around the main Hawaiian Islands from Niihau east to Hawaii, pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Based on considerations of economic and national security impacts, we propose to exclude the following areas from designation because the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion will not result in extinction of the species: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Call Area offshore of the Island of Oahu, the Pacific Missile Range Facilities Offshore ranges (including the Shallow Water Training Range, the Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range, and the Barking Sands Underwater Range Extension), the Kingfisher Range, Warning Area 188, Kaula and Warning Area 187, Fleet Operational Readiness Accuracy Check Site Range, the Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation Facility, Warning Areas 196 and 191, and Warning Areas 193 and 194. In addition, the Ewa Training Minefield and the Naval Defensive Sea Area are precluded from designation under section 4(a)(3) of the ESA because they are managed under the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan that we find provides a benefit to the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale. We are soliciting comments on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts. We will consider
additional information received prior to making a final designation.
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