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FR Notice – List of Fisheries for 2019 (May 16, 2019)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2019, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The LOF for 2019 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan (TRP) requirements.

DATES: The effective date of this final rule is June 17, 2019.
ADDRESSES: Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jaclyn Taylor, Office of Protected Resources, 301–427–8402; Allison Rosner, Greater Atlantic Region, 978–281–9328; Jessica Powell, Southeast Region, 727–824–5312; Dan Lawson, West Coast Region, 562–980–3209; Suzie Teerlink, Alaska Region, 907–586–7240; Kevin Brindock, Pacific Islands Region, 808–725–5146. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the hearing impaired may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1–800– 877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:57 May 15, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\16MYR1.SGM 16MYR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 22052 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 95 / Thursday, May 16, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Eastern time, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays.

Click here for complete FR Notice.

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FR Notice – Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Procedures for the Active and Inactive Vessel Register (April 16, 2019)

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: NMFS is proposing regulations under the Tuna Conventions
Act of 1950 (TCA), as amended, to implement International Maritime
Organization (IMO) requirements in Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Resolution C–18–06 (Resolution (Amended) on a Regional Vessel Register) and amendments to existing regulations related to the IATTC Regional Vessel Register (Vessel Register) for purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). The proposed rule would expand the IMO number requirements to include certain categories of smaller U.S. vessels fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the EPO. The proposed rule would also modify regulations associated with the Vessel Register and prohibition and incidental catch provisions. These revisions would provide more clarity and make U.S. regulations more consistent with the IATTC management framework, while allowing controlled operational flexibility for the U.S. industry.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be submitted in writing by May 16, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0030, by any 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-2018-0030, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

• Mail: Submit written comments to Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2018–0030’’ in the comments.

Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. 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.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2018–0030, or by contacting Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802, or emailing WCR.HMS@noaa.gov.

Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office at the address listed above, by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or by fax to (202) 395–5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Studt, NMFS, West Coast Region, 562–980–4073.

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Press Release – New Turtle Limits Recommended to Re-Open Swordfish Fishery (15 April 2019)

HONOLULU (15 April 2019) Federal fishery managers on Friday concluded its nearly year-long effort to provide relief to the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery for swordfish. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council at its 177th Meeting held on April 12, 2019, recommended revised fleet-wide sea turtle interaction limits along with new individual trip-based interaction limits. A recent draft Biological Opinion (BiOp) developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provided managers with a basis for a new limit for loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions, potentially allowing the fishery to be re-opened this year. The fishery closed this year on March 19 due to interactions with 17 loggerhead turtles, all of which were released alive.

Every vessel for every trip of the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery has a federal observer that ensures accurate monitoring of interactions with protected species. The North Pacific loggerhead population is growing annually at 2.4 percent, but a court settlement in May 2018 reduced the fishery’s allowable interaction with the species from 34 to 17. The cap of 17 may be modified when NMFS finalizes the new BiOp for the fishery and issues new regulations based on the Council’s recommendations.

In June 2018, the Council recommended annual limits of North Pacific loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions consistent with what was set forth in the upcoming BiOp. The draft BiOp released on March 28, 2019, requires NMFS to set an annual limit of 36 loggerhead turtles and 16 leatherback turtles for this fishery. The Council recommended these limits to be implemented under regulations for the Council’s Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) and further recommended that the existing turtle interactions occurring from January 1 to March 19, 2019, apply toward the new limits, essentially allowing the fishery to re-open.

The Council maintained its June 2018 recommendation to implement an individual trip limit of five loggerhead turtles, and additionally recommended a trip limit of two leatherback turtles. If a vessel reaches either of the limits during a fishing trip, the vessel must return to port but would be allowed to target swordfish again on the next trip.

The Council’s recommendation was in contrast to annual vessel-based limits of six loggerhead turtles and two leatherback turtles that NMFS is proposing in the draft BiOp, which would prohibit vessels from targeting swordfish for the remainder of the year if they reached their individual limit. The Council found that this measure would create undue economic hardship to the fishery while providing little additional turtle conservation benefit.

Roger Dang, whose family has fished with longline vessels out of Hawai’i for more than 30 years, criticized the vessel limit proposed in draft BiOp. “This is not the solution,” he said. A vessel limit of two leatherback interactions would deter vessels from entering the shallow-set fishery to target swordfish and thus diminish the fleet’s ability to provide swordfish for the US domestic market, he explained. “Ecuador in the last year, from 2017 to 2018, increased its production by almost 100 percent, Costa Rica 80 percent, and they’re both bigger fisheries than the Hawai’i product,” Dang added. “The majority of the swordfish product in the US right now is the South American product.”

“The Council’s recommendation today, although highly restrictive on the fleet, will allow Hawai’i vessels to continue supplying fresh, highly monitored swordfish while supporting industry-led solutions to addressing rare sea turtle interactions in the fishery,” said Eric Kingma, executive director of the Hawai’i Longline Association. Dean Sensui, the Council’s Hawai’i vice chair, added “The actions taken by the Council today ensures that Hawai’i’s fishermen continue to provide fresh sustainable seafood to the community and at the same time adds additional protection for sea turtles in the Western Pacific.” The Hawai’i shallow-set longline fishery operates in waters North of Hawai’i and catches swordfish that is sold both in Hawai’i and the US Mainland. It produces approximately half of the US domestic swordfish.

For the agenda and background materials on the meeting, go to www.wpcouncil.org or contact the Council at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or (808) 522-8220. The Council was established by Congress in 1976 and has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters of Hawai’i, Guam, American Samoa, the CNMI and the Pacific remote islands. Recommendations that are regulatory in nature are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and then implemented by NMFS and enforced by NMFS and the US Coast Guard.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai’i governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Michael Duenas, fisherman (Guam) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawai’i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai’i); McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui Kona Sportfishing (CNMI); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai’i). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai’i Department of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muna-Brecht, Guam Department of Agriculture; Raymond Roberto, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Henry Sesepasara, American Samoa Department 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.

Click PDF for printable version

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Press Release – Fishermen Identify Projects to Improve Fisheries Development in the US Pacific Islands (18 March 2019)

HONOLULU (18 March 2019) Projects to develop fisheries topped the list of needs identified by fishermen from Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) during their March 15 and16 meeting in Honolulu. The group, which constitutes the Advisory Panel (AP) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, also highlighted the importance of fishing to the communities of each of the island areas. They said that the social and economic value of the local and regional fisheries needs to better communicated.

The Advisory Panel of fishermen pointed out the need for fisheries development and improved public understanding of the socioeconomic importance of fisheries in Hawai‘i and US Pacific Islands.

“The Council welcomes the ideas and contributions of the Advisory Panel,” said Council Chair Archie Soliai. “This is a challenging time for fisheries, and the AP has a lot of work to do. ”

The Council will consider the AP recommendations when it meets tomorrow through Thursday at the YWCA Fuller Hall, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. Included among the suggested projects and activities from the AP are fishery demonstration projects; expanded use of technology to collect fishery data; characterization of existing fisheries in Hawai‘i; and improved fishing opportunities in Guam and the CNMI through improved fish aggregation devices, fishery access and reduction of shark depredation. 

AP members include representatives from diverse fisheries, including spearfish, longline, bottomfish, charter boat, subsistence and the fishery media. The AP is mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. 

For agendas and background materials on the AP and Council meetings as well as the Fishers Forum tomorrow (March 19) 6 to 9 p.m. at the Ala Moana Hotel, go to www.wpcouncil.org/category/upcoming-council-and-advisory-body-meetings or contact the Council at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or (808) 522-8220.

Advisory Panel: American Samoa: Krista Corry, Sam Meleisea, Carlos Sanchez, Dustin Snow, William Sword, Brian Thompson; CNMI: Richard Farrell, Michael Fleming, Perry Mesgnon, Cecilio Raiukiulipiy, Ray Tebuteb, Jun Yamagishi; Guam: Judith Amesbury, James Borja, Ken Borja, Jason Miller, Matthew Orot, Tatiana Talavera; Hawai‘i: Nathan Abe, Khang Dang, Eddie Ebisui III, Gil Kualii, Carrie Johnston, Clay Tam

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (acting chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawaii) (vice chair); Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawaii); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); Edwin Watamura (Hawaii). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources; Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasra, American Samoa Department 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.

Click here for printable PDF.

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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.
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Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region 2011 Annual Report

The 2011 Annual Report for the Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region is now available.  Download it directly here.  To find this and other data collection and past annual reports, visit:

http://wpcouncil.org/managed-fishery-ecosystems/pacific-pelagic/data-collection-and-annual-reports-pelagics/