Bottomfish Fishery Management Plan

The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fisheries in the Western Pacific Region became effective on August 27, 1986 (51 FR 27413). Initial bottomfish fishery management measures prohibited certain destructive fishing techniques, including explosives, poisons, trawl nets, and bottom-set gillnets; established a moratorium on the commercial harvest of seamount groundfish stocks at the Hancock Seamounts, and implemented a permit system for fishing for bottomfish in the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The plan also established a management framework that provided for regulatory adjustments to be made, such as catch limits, size limits, area or seasonal closures, fishing effort limitations, fishing gear restrictions, access limitations, permit and/or catch reporting requirements, as well as a rules-related notice system.

The following tables contain management measures, including amendments, framework actions, and NMFS-initiated regulations.  Annual Reports can be found at the very bottom.

Amendment Federal Register Notice / Effective date Description of Action
14 4/04/08
73 FR 18450
Addressed bottomfish overfishing in the Hawaiian Archipelago by implementing a total allowable catch limit (TAC), federal non-commercial permits and reporting requirements, non-commercial bag limits and a closed season for fishing for Deep 7 species in the Main Hawaiian Islands. It also defined the Main Hawaiian Islands bottomfish fishing year as September 1-August 31, and became effective April 1, 2008 (73 FR 18450) with the permit and reporting requirements effective as of August 18, 2008 (73 FR 41296).
11-13 Amendments 11-13 were intended to address various issues which have now become moot due to changing circumstances.
10 12/12/08
73 FR 75615
Prohibited commercial fishing for bottomfish from vessels greater than 40′ long in waters 0-10 miles around the Southern Islands of CNMI and 0-10 miles around the Northern Island of Alamagan. Commercial bottomfishing vessels over 40′ long must carry active VMS units owned, installed, and maintained by NMFS.  Also, the operators of all vessels commercially fishing for bottomfish in EEZ waters around CNMI must obtain federal permits and complete federal logbooks.
9 11/02/06
71 FR 64474
Prohibited vessels greater than 50′ long from targeting Bottomfish species within 50 miles of Guam and required these vessels to obtain federal permits and to submit federal logbooks effective December 4, 2006 (71 FR 69496).


71 FR 53605
Included federal waters around CNMI and the Pacific Remote Island Areas in the Bottomfish FMP. Implemented federal permitting and reporting requirements for bottomfish fishing in the PRIA effective 1/2/07 (71 FR 69496).
7 2/24/04
69 FR 8336
Developed in parallel with the Coral Reef Ecosystems FMP. Prohibited harvest of Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Management Unit Species (MUS) in the no-take marine protected areas established under the Coral Reef Ecosystems FMP. The Coral Reef Ecosystems established such areas around Rose Atoll in American Samoa, Kingman Reef, Jarvis Island, Howland Island, and Baker Island. The final rule implementing the Coral Reef Ecosystem FMP (including Amendment 7 to the Bottomfish FMP) became effective 3/25/04.


64 FR 19067
68 FR 46112
Addressed new requirements under the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act. Portions of the amendment that were immediately approved included designations of essential fish habitat, and descriptions of bycatch and of some fishing communities. Those provisions became effective on 2/3/99. Remaining portions approved on 8/5/03, included provisions regarding Hawaii fishing communities, overfishing definitions, and bycatch.
5 4/28/99
64 FR 22810
Established a limited entry program for the Mau Zone in the NWHI with non-transferable permits and landing requirements for permit renewal. Included in requirements was attendance by the primary vessel operator at a protected species workshop. Also established a Community Development Program (CDP) under which 20% of Mau Zone permits are reserved for CDP participants, as well as instituting a maximum vessel length of 60′ for replacement vessels in the Ho’omalu or Mau Zones
4 5/30/91
56 FR 24351
Implemented a requirement for vessel owners or operators to notify NMFS at least 72 hours before leaving port if they intend to fish in a “protected species study zone” that extends 50 nautical miles (nm) around the NWHI to allow federal observers to be placed on board bottomfish vessels to record interactions with protected species if this action is deemed necessary
3 1/16/91
56 FR 2503
Defined recruitment overfishing as a condition in which the ratio of the spawning stock biomass per recruit at the current level of fishing to the spawning stock biomass per recruit that would occur in the absence of fishing is equal to or less than 20%. Amendment 3 also delineated a process by which overfishing would be monitored and evaluated.
2 9/6/88
53 FR 29907
Divided the EEZ around the NWHI into the Ho’omalu and Mau zones. A limited access system was established for the Ho’omalu Zone, with non-transferable permits and landing requirements for permit renewal and for new entry into the fishery. Access to the Mau Zone was left unrestricted, except for vessels permitted to fish in the Ho’omalu Zone. New entrants to both fisheries must complete a protected species workshop prior to receiving permits.
1 11/11/87
52 FR 38102
Effective November 11, 1987. Established a system to allow implementation of limited access systems for bottomfish fisheries in EEZ waters around American Samoa and Guam within the framework measures of the FMP.


Framework Federal Register Notice / Effective date Description of Action
1 8/19/04
69 FR 51400
Extended the moratorium on harvesting seamount groundfish from the Hancock Seamount by another six years until August 31, 2010 because stocks were still considered to be overfished.


Action Federal Register Notice / Publication date Description of Action
Specification 2/12/09
74 FR 6998
MHI Deep 7 bottomfish total allowable catch (TAC) specified for the 2008–09 fishing year of 241,000 lb (109,316 kg) effective March 16, 2009. When the TAC is projected to be reached, the noncommercial and commercial Deep 7 bottomfish fisheries will be closed until the end of the fishing year (August 31, 2009). During a fishery closure for Deep 7 bottomfish, no person may fish for, possess, or sell any of these fish in the MHI, except as otherwise authorized by law. There is no prohibition on fishing for or selling other non-Deep 7 bottomfish species throughout the year.
Proposed Specification 12/10/08
73 FR 75057
At the Council’s request, NMFS issued a proposed notice of specifications for the MHI Deep 7 bottomfish fishery that would implement a TAC of 241,000 lbs for the 2008-2009 fishing year.
73 FR 50572
At the Council’s request, NMFS issued a temporary rule delaying the reopening of the MHI Deep 7 bottomfish fishery until November 15, 2008 to allow NMFS to update its stock assessment prior to Council action to recommend the 2008-2009 fishery TAC.
73 FR 18717
At the Council’s request, NMFS issued a temporary rule closing the MHI Deep 7 bottomfish fishery effective April 16-31, 2008, because the 2007-2008 fishing year’s TAC had been reached.
72 FR 27065
At the Council’s request, NMFS issued a temporary rule due to overfishing that closed the MHI Deep 7 bottomfish fishery from May 15 – September 30, 2007 to immediately address overfishing while a long-term management plan was developed.
Presidential Proclamation 6/26/06
71 FR 36443
On June 16, 2006 President Bush established the NWHI Marine National Monument by issuing Presidential Proclamation 8031. The monument prohibited commercial fishing bottomfish, among other actions, after June 15, 2011. The above restrictions are not applicable to persons who are not citizens, nationals, or resident aliens of the United States (including foreign flagged vessels) unless in accordance with international law.
70 FR 40305
At the request of the Council, NMFS issued a control date of June 2, 2005 to notify persons who entered the bottomfish fishery that occurs in EEZ waters around the MHI after that date that they would not necessarily be assured of continuing participation if a limited entry program was subsequently implemented for the fishery.
Notice of Overfishing Determination 6/14/05
70 FR 34452
In 2005 NMFS notified the Council that overfishing was occurring on the bottomfish multi-species complex around the Hawaiian Archipelago and requested the Council to take appropriate action to end overfishing. The Council was informed that the MHI was where overfishing was primarily occurring and was likely that reducing fishing mortality in this area would be the most effective means to end overfishing.
In June 1998, the State of Hawaii implemented several management measures for bottomfish in the state waters of the Main Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii Administrative Rule, Chapter 13-94). Because bottomfish are managed under the FMP on an archipelagic-wide basis and because there are bottomfishing grounds in federal waters that are adjacent to state waters, these measures directly impact the stocks managed under the Bottomfish FMP. The new rules applied to seven species of bottomfish and included gear restrictions, bag limits for non-commercial fishermen, closed areas, and a requirement that all bottomfishing vessels be registered with the state
Final Rule 6/29/98
63 FR 35612
Extended the moratorium on harvesting seamount groundfish from the Hancock Seamount another six years until June 29, 2004.
Final Rule 8/17/98 Extended the moratorium on harvesting seamount groundfish from the Hancock Seamount another six years until August 17, 1998 (57 FR 36907).