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FR Notice – Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measures; Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish (June 24, 2019)

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: This final rule establishes an annual catch limit (ACL) of 492,000 lb for Deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for each of the
three fishing years 2018–19, 2019–20, and 2020–21. If NMFS projects that the
fishery will reach the ACL in any given fishing year, NMFS would close the
commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish in
Federal waters for the remainder of that fishing year as an accountability
measure (AM). This rule also makes housekeeping changes to the Federal bottomfish fishing regulations. This rule supports the long-term sustainability of Deep 7 bottomfish.
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Press Release – Council Responds to Honolulu Civil Beat Series, Acts on Hawai’i Fisheries and Protected Species (26 June 2019)

Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds (center) with (from left) Chair Archie Soliai and Vice Chairs John Gourley (CNMI), Dean Sensui (Hawai’i) and Michael Duenas (Guam).

HONOLULU (26 June 2019) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Honolulu responded to the Honolulu Civil Beat‘s three-part series suggesting members of the Council’s Executive Committee engaged in decision-making for self-profit.

Vice Chair John Gourley (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI) said the Civil Beat articles implied that funding he received from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund for fish biosampling continued after he became a Council member. Honolulu Civil Beat statements about Gourley were included in a section titled “Conflicts of Interest.” Gourley said he received no such funding after he became a Council member and there was no conflict of interest. He said he feels Civil Beat has possibly damaged his reputation and that of his environmental consulting business.


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Press Release – Scientists Recommend Removing Catch Limits, Increasing Allocation Limits for US Pacific Territory Longline-Caught Bigeye Tuna (20 June 2019)

Bigeye tuna drawing. Courtesy Les Hata, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

HONOLULU (20 June 2019) The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council concluded a three-day meeting today in Honolulu recommending bigeye tuna catch limits and allocation amounts for the US Participating Territories for the fishing years 2020 to 2023. This and other recommendations by the Council’s SSC will be considered by the Council at its 178th meeting in Honolulu on June 25-27. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaiʻi and other US Pacific Islands.
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Press Release – Kona Crab, Bigeye Tuna among Fishery Science Discussions Next Week in Honolulu (11 June 2019)

Kona crab drawing. Courtesy 
NOAA Fisheries/Kat Uno
HONOLULU (11 June 2019) Renowned scientists from throughout the Pacific will meet June 18-20 in Honolulu to consider a range of issues facing the offshore fisheries of Hawai’i and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Recommendations from this group known as the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will be forwarded to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which meets in Honolulu on June 25-27. The Council develops fishery management measures for the fisheries, which are transmitted to the US Secretary of Commerce for approval and implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
 
Kona Crab: SSC members will hear reports to inform their setting the acceptable biological catch for the main Hawaiian Islands Kona crab. Updated information is now available from a 2019 benchmark stock assessment with catch projection to 2026. The SSC’s recommendation, including a new way to incorporate management uncertainties and risk of overfishing, will help the Council specify multi-year harvest limits for fishing years 2020-2023.
 
Bigeye Tuna: In December 2018, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed to limit the US longline bigeye tuna catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to 3,554 metric tons annually in 2019 and 2020. In 2014, an amendment to the Council’s Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan in part provided NMFS with the authority to specify annual catch limits in US participating territories. It also allows NMFS to specify a limit, recommended by the Council, authorizing a US participating territory to allocate a portion of that specified catch limit to eligible US vessels through a fishing agreement. The SSC will decide on potential catch and/or allocation limits to recommend to the Council, in addition to considering if the limits should be re-evaluated annually or after multiple years.
 
Other Issues:
  • The SSC will review and provide input on a NOAA Fisheries framework for determining that stock status determinations and catch specifications are based on the best scientific information available.
  • A working group of the SSC will seek to define benefits and limitations to spatial management actions, both existing and potential, relative to pertinent regional fishery issues and management objectives.
  • The SSC will review and may endorse a process developed by its working group to comply with the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Act (2018) requirement for greater incorporation of non-governmental information sources into federal fisheries management.
 
Scientific and Statistical Committee:
James Lynch (K&L Gates LLP) (chair); Debra Cabrera (University of Guam); Frank Camacho (University of Guam); Milani Chaloupka (University of Queensland); Erik Franklin (University of Hawai'i, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology); Shelton Harley (Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center); David Itano (fisheries consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (SeaState Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources); Ryan Okano (Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources); Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); Kurt Schaefer (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Craig Severance (University of Hawai`i at Hilo, retired); Michael Tenorio (CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife); and Michael Seki (ex-officio) (NMFS PIFSC).

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, Hawaii Goes Fishing (Hawai'i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai'i); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai'i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawai'i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasra, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.
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FR notice – Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measures; Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish (March 12, 2019)

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would establish an annual catch limit (ACL) of 492,000 lb for Deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for each of the three fishing years 2018–19, 2019– 20, and 2020–21. If NMFS projects that the fishery will reach the ACL in any given fishing year, NMFS would close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish in Federal waters for the remainder of the fishing year as an accountability measure (AM). This proposed rule would also make housekeeping changes to the Federal bottomfish fishing regulations. The proposed rule supports the long-term sustainability of Deep 7 bottomfish.
DATES: NMFS must receive comments by April 11, 2019.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by
NOAA–NMFS–2018–0121, by either of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0121, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). NMFS prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) that describes the potential impacts on the human environment that could result from the proposed action. The draft EA and other supporting documents are available at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brett Schumacher, NMFS PIRO
Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5185.