News and Updates

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FR Notice – Reclassifying Management Unit Species to Ecosystem Component Species (Feb. 8, 2019)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: This final rule reclassifies certain management unit species in the Pacific Islands as ecosystem component species. The rule also updates the scientific and local names of certain species. The intent of this final rule is to prioritize conservation and management efforts and to improve efficiency of fishery management in the region.
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FR Notice – Nominations for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Permanent Advisory Committee (Feb. 6, 2019)

ACTION: Notice of request for nominations.

SUMMARY: NMFS, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, is seeking nominations for the advisory committee established under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (Act). The Permanent Advisory Committee, composed of individuals from groups concerned with the fisheries covered by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention (Convention), will be given the opportunity to provide input to the U.S. Commissioners to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (Commission) regarding the deliberations and decisions of the Commission.
DATES: Nominations must be received no later than March 25, 2019. Nominations received after the deadline will not be accepted.
ADDRESSES: Nominations should be directed to Michael Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, and may be submitted by any of the following means:

  • Email: pir.wcpfc@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line the following document identifier: ‘‘Permanent Advisory Committee nominations’’. Email comments, including attachments, are limited to 5 megabytes.
  • Mail or hand delivery: 1845 Wasp Boulevard, Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
  • Facsimile: 808–725–5215.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Reynolds, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office; telephone: 808–725– 5039; facsimile: 808–725–5215; email: emily.reynolds@noaa.gov.

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2019 NMFS Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Funding Opportunity: Pre-Proposals Due January 30, 2019

NMFS is soliciting proposals for their Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP), with pre-proposals due on January 30, 2019 (5pm Eastern Time). The Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program provides funding to support applied management projects and activities to reduce bycatch. Through the program, NMFS supports the development and testing of fishing gears that minimize bycatch and habitat impacts.
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2019-2020 US Pacific Territories Fishery Capacity-Building Scholarship Announcement, Applications due March 1, 2019

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and its Education Committee members are pleased to announce the availability of up to three undergraduate or graduate scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year. 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. These scholarships cover the cost of tuition and fees and some living expenses.  However, for undergraduates, there is an expectation that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be completed early and Pell grants obtained so the relevant university’s Financial Aid Office can determine the amount of aid needed. Click here for more information and a complete scholarship application. Funding for the scholarships comes in part from the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office and Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center. For further details, please contact Sylvia Spalding at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or phone (808) 522-8220.
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Press Release – Modern Recreational Fisheries Management Act Implications in the Western Pacific Region (10 January 2019)

HONOLULU (10 January 2019) On the last day of 2018, President Trump signed into law the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (S. 1520), also known as the Modern Fish Act. The bill, which had been stagnant since its introduction in 2017, was pushed through by the efforts of the same coalition of sports fishing organizations that earlier in the year supported the amended Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. The amended Billfish Act had major consequences for the commercial fisheries in Hawaii and the US Pacific Island territories by banning interstate commerce of a sustainable, traditional fishery in the islands. The Modern Fish Act, on the other hand, is more targeted toward the management of recreational fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico but may have implications for fisheries management in the Western Pacific Region, i.e., the US Pacific Islands.
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Request for Comments – Request to Repeal, Four of the existing Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas (COMMENTS DUE by Jan. 11, 2019)

REQUEST TO REPEAL, FOUR OF THE EXISTING MAIN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS

The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is taking a conservative approach and is proposing to repeal four of the 12 BRFAs. To determine which BRFAs to repeal, DAR considered several factors which include: habitat value, fishery return, enforceability, safety, a DAR initiated survey that solicited the opinion of registered bottomfishers, and recommendations by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Another major factor considered was equity for fishing opportunity at the county level. Based on the factors considered, DAR recommends repealing the following BRFAs: BRFA C (Poipu, Kauai County), BRFA F (Penguin Banks, Honolulu County), BRFA J (Hana, Maui County), and BRFA L (Leleiwi, Hawaii Island).
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Press Release – Federal Managers Delay Final Recommendations on Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtle Interactions with Hawaii Swordfish Fishery (Dec. 18, 2018)

The fishery is scheduled to reopen on Jan. 1, 2019, with allowable interactions of 26 leatherbacks and 17 loggerheads. Should either interaction level be reached, the fishery will close for the remainder of 2019, unless the biological opinion currently in development allows for higher interaction levels and NMFS implements new regulations.

The current leatherback level is based on a 2012 biological opinion, while, consistent with a court-approved settlement agreement, the loggerhead level is based on a 2004 biological opinion. As a result of a split Ninth Circuit decision, a federal district court vacated the loggerhead cap of 34, while leaving the leatherback interaction limit of 26 in place.  The lawsuit settlement also closed the fishery from May 8 to Dec. 31, 2018.
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Press Release – Honolulu Ranks as 7th Most Valuable US Port in Seafood Landed (Dec. 13, 2018)

HONOLULU (13 December 2018)  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), aka NOAA Fisheries, today released its Fisheries of the United States, 2017 report, with Honolulu continuing as the 7th most valuable US port in terms of landed seafood. The port with the highest value of seafood was New Bedford, Mass., with $389 million in landings, followed by five Alaska ports with landings ranging from $106 million to $173 million. Hawaii’s $104 million in landings was followed by 8th-place Empire-Venice, La., with $100 million in landings; 9th place Cape May-Wildwood, NJ, with $81 million in landings; and 10th-place Sitka, Alaska, with $75 million in seafood landings.
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FR Notice – 2018 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for American Samoa (Dec. 10, 2018)

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 2018 bigeye tuna limit for the Territory of American Samoa 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 American Samoa.

DATES: December 7, 2018.

ADDRESSES: NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. The analyses, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2018-0026, are available from https://www.regulations.gov/​docket?​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2018-0026, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

The Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) is 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 http://www.wpcouncil.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808-725-5184.

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Fall 2018 Pacific Islands Fishery Newsletter

Click here for printable PDF.

Click here for interactive ePub.