News and Updates

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FR Notice – Pacific Island Fisheries; Closure of the 2018 Hawaii Shallow-Set Longline Fishery; Court Order (May 11, 2018)

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; fishery closure.

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SUMMARY: This final rule closes the Hawaii shallow-set pelagic longline 
fishery in compliance with an order of the U.S. District Court for the 
District of Hawaii.

DATES: Effective May 8, 2018, through December 31, 2018.
    Compliance date: May 4, 2018, through December 31, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Harman, NMFS PIR, 808-725-5170.
 
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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 The rule also would make corrections to outdated cross references in existing regulatory text.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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Summer 2018 Marine Science Course on Fishery and Resource Management

Printable PDF Flyer

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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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Press Release – Federal Fishery Managers Recommend Removal of Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas in the Main Hawaiian Islands, Voice Concern about Billfish Conservation Act Proposed Amendments (16 March 2018)

HONOLULU (16 March 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council concluded its three-day meeting today with a variety of management measures and administrative decisions for federal fisheries in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands Areas.
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Press Release – Federal Fishery Managers Postpone American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area Decision (16 March 2018)

HONOLULU (16 March 2018) The Western PacificRegional Fishery Management Council today in Honolulu delayed final action on an amendment to modify the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA) until its next meeting to be held June 11 to 14, 2018, on Maui. The amendment would reduce the size of the LVPA to US longline vessels in American Samoa. This fleet has been experiencing economic hardship due to declining catches and increased operating costs. The fleet operates within the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around American Samoa, which abuts the EEZs of other countries on all sides and thus is less than 200 nautical miles (nm) from shore. The LVPA currently restricts pelagic fishing vessels larger than 50 feet in length from operating within 50 nm of shore.
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Press Release – Federal Fishery Managers Agree to US Pacific Island Pelagic and Protected Species Measures (16 March 2018)

HONOLULU (16 March 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Honolulu agreed to a suite of management measures for pelagic fisheries and protected species in the US Pacific Islands operating seaward of State/Territory waters. The Council is mandated by Congress to manage federal fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Island Areas. Recommendations by the Council are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval. Among the actions taken by the Council, were the following:

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Press Release – Federal Managers Agree to a US Pacific Island Marine Aquaculture Management Program, Ecosystem Component Species Reclassification (15 March 2018)

HONOLULU (15 March 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council took initial action today in Honolulu to establish an aquaculture management program for the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters (generally, 3 to 200 miles offshore) of the US Pacific Islands and to reclassify hundreds of species as ecosystem components.
The Council is mandated by Congress to manage federal fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Island Areas. Recommendations by the Council are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval.
“Supplementing the harvest of domestic fisheries with cultured product would help the United States meet consumers’ growing demand for seafood and may reduce the dependence on seafood imports,” notes Kitty M. Simonds, the Council’s executive director.

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Fishers Forum – Hawai’i Fisheries: Getting the Full Story

Date: March 14, 2018          Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: Pomaika’i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery, 735 Iwilei Rd., Honolulu

Agenda