FR Notice – 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Aug. 1, 2019)

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 2019 bigeye tuna limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to 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 the CNMI.

DATES: The specified fishing agreement is valid on July 19, 2019.

ADDRESSES: The Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) describes specified fishing agreements and 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

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–2019–0028, are available from, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5184.

Click here for complete FR Notice.


FR Notice – 2019 Bigeye Tuna Longline Fishery Closure (July 24, 2019)

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; fishery closure.

SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean because the fishery has reached the 2019 catch limit. This action is necessary to ensure compliance with NMFS regulations that implement decisions of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

DATES: Effective 12:01 a.m. local time July 27, 2019, through December 31, 2019.

ADDRESSES: NMFS prepared a plain language guide and frequently asked questions that explain how to comply with this rule; both are available at

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Walker, NMFS Pacific Islands Region, 808–725–5184.

Click here for complete FR Notice.


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.

FR Notice – Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries: 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits (Jun. 21, 2019)


Proposed specifications; request for comments.


NMFS proposes a 2019 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)). NMFS would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. The proposed catch limits and accountability measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.


NMFS must receive comments by June 21, 2019.

Read More ª


Press Release – Scientists Support Electronic Reporting for Hawaii Longline Fishery, Comment on Proposed Increase in Fishery’s Bigeye Quota (October 18, 2018)

HONOLULU (18 October 2018) Scientists from throughout the Pacific concluded their three-day meeting yesterday in Hilo on the island of Hawai‘i recommending that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council take initial action to require mandatory electronic reporting for the Hawaii longline fleet. These and other recommendations by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) on federally managed fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands will be considered by the Council at its 174th meeting to be held Oct. 23 and 24 in Saipan, CNMI, and Oct. 26 and 27 in Guam. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaii and other US Pacific Islands.
Read More ª