Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; Prohibiting Purse Seine Fishing in the U.S. EEZ Around Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and Prohibiting Longline Fishing Within 30 nm of the Northern Mariana Islands
NMFS announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) proposes Amendment 2 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (FEP). If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, this amendment would create a 30-nautical mile (nm) longline prohibited area around the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and prohibit purse seine fishing within the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the Mariana Archipelago, including Guam and the CNMI. The area closures are intended to prevent and minimize gear conflicts and resource competition among the various fishery sectors (troll, longline and purse seine) in the Mariana Archipelago. In addition, this action is intended to facilitate the conservation of important stocks such as bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna throughout their range in the Pacific Ocean.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Revisions to Pacific Cod Fishing in the Parallel Fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NMFS proposes a regulatory amendment that would limit access of Federally permitted pot and hook-and-line catcher/processors (C/P) to the Pacific cod fishery in State of Alaska waters adjacent to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). The affected fishery is commonly known as the ``parallel'' fishery. The parallel fishery occurs off the coast of Alaska, within 3 nautical miles of shore and is managed by the State of Alaska concurrent with the Federal pot and hook-and-line fishery for Pacific cod in the BSAI. This proposed rule would limit access to the parallel fishery for Pacific cod in three ways. First, it would require that an owner of a Federally permitted pot or hook-and-line C/P vessel used to catch Pacific cod in the State of Alaska parallel fishery be issued the same endorsements on their Federal fisheries permit (FFP) or license limitation program (LLP) license as currently are required for catching Pacific cod in the Federal waters of the BSAI. Second, an operator of any Federally permitted pot or hook-and-line C/P vessel used to catch Pacific cod in the parallel fishery would also be required to comply with the same seasonal closures of Pacific cod that apply in the Federal fishery. Third, an owner of a pot or hook-and-line C/P vessel who surrenders an FFP would not be reissued a new FFP within the 3-year term of the permit. These three measures are necessary to limit some C/Ps from catching a greater amount of Pacific cod in the parallel fishery than have been allocated to their sector from the BSAI Total Allowable Catch. Maintaining Pacific cod catch amounts within sector allocations would also reduce the potential for shortened Pacific cod seasons for C/Ps in the Federal fishery. These three measures also would improve the coverage of NMFS catch accounting and monitoring requirements on vessels participating in the parallel fishery. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Fisheries Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutians Islands Management Area, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable laws.
Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; Hawaii-Based Shallow-set Longline Fishery; Court Order
This final rule revises the annual number of allowable incidental interactions that may occur between the Hawaii-based shallow-set pelagic longline fishery and loggerhead sea turtles. The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued an Order that directs NMFS to revise the annual interaction limit for loggerhead turtles from 46 to 17. The intent of this final rule is to ensure that the regulations promulgate the revised limit as required by the Court Order.
New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scientific and Statistical Committee on March 30-31, 2011 to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and its advisory committees will hold public meetings in Anchorage, AK.