News and Updates

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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.

Click here for complete FR Notice

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2018-2019 US Pacific Territories Fishery Capacity-Building Scholarship Announcement (Application due by Feb. 28, 2018)

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and its Education Committee members are pleased to announce the availability of up to three scholarships for academic year 2018-2019. These scholarships support the aspiration of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to build their capacity to effectively manage their fisheries and related resources through employment of their own people.
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Contractor Solicitation: Protected Species Program Technical Assistant to Update the SAFE Report Protected Species Modules and Improve Protected Species Information Base for Fisheries Management

The Council is seeking a contractor to provide technical assistance to the Council’s Protected Species Program in updating the protected species module of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan Stock Assessment and Fisheries Evaluation (SAFE) Reports. The contractor may also assist with other projects to improve the protected species information base for fisheries management. The contract will run for a five-month period starting in January.

Applications should include 1) a cover letter; 2) resume or CV; and 3) at least one technical writing sample, submitted to the contact information below by 5pm (Hawaii) on Tuesday, December 12, 2017:

Asuka Ishizaki
Protected Species Coordinator
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1400
Honolulu, HI 96813
Email: asuka.ishizaki@wpcouncil.org

For more information on the scope of work, please see the full solicitation.

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24 members of Congress send a letter to President Trump concerning E.O. 13792 (Nov. 9, 2017)

24 members of Congress send letter to President Trump about E.O. 13792 (Nov. 9, 2017)

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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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FR Notice – 2017 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures (Oct. 30, 2017)

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

ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes annual catch limits (ACLs) for Pacific Island crustacean, precious coral, and territorial bottomfish fisheries, and accountability measures (AMs) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The proposed ACLs and AMs would be effective for fishing year 2017. The proposed ACLs and AMs support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.
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FR Notice – 2017 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Oct. 24, 2017)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Announcement of a valid specified fishing agreement.

SUMMARY: NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2017 bigeye tuna limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels.
The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and fisheries development in the CNMI.
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FR Notice – 12-Month Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Chambered Nautilus as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act (Oct. 23, 2017)

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding; request for comments.

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) as a threatened species or an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We have completed a comprehensive status review of the species in response to this petition. Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, including the status review report (Miller 2017), and after taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, we have determined that the chambered nautilus is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout its range. Therefore, we propose to list the chambered nautilus as a threatened species under the ESA. Any
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Press Release – Federal Fishery Managers Take Initial Action on New American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area Amendment (Oct. 20, 2017)

UTULEI, AMERICAN SAMOA (20 October 2017) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council today at the Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei, American Samoa, took initial action on a new proposed amendment to the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). The new proposal addresses a 2017 decision by the Federal District Court for the District of Hawai‘i regarding an LVPA amendment recommended by the Council in 2015 and published as a final rule in 2016 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The court held that the 2016 final rule failed to consider the American Samoa Instruments of Cession as “other applicable law” and that cultural fishing rights are protected by inference in the Instruments.
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