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.
DATES: This rule is effective May 11, 2018, except for the amendments to 50 CFR 300.24(qq) and 300.28(e), which are effective on January 1, 2019.
ADDRESSES: Copies of the Environmental Assessment, revised Regulatory Impact Review, and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2017–0129, or by contacting the Highly Migratory Species Branch Chief, Heidi Taylor, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90208, RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS at 562–980–4036.
To read complete FR Notice, click here.