Nomination of Existing Marine Protected Areas to the National System of Marine Protected Areas
NOAA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) invited Federal, State, commonwealth, and territorial marine protected areas (MPA) programs with potentially eligible existing MPAs to nominate their sites to the national system of MPAs. The national system and the nomination process are described in the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States (Framework), developed in response to Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas. The final Framework was published on November 19, 2008, and provides guidance for collaborative efforts among Federal, State, commonwealth, territorial, Tribal and local governments and stakeholders to develop an effective and well coordinated National System of MPAs (national system) that includes existing MPAs meeting national system criteria as well as new sites that may be established by managing agencies to fill key conservation gaps in important ocean areas.
NOAA Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Project Grants
NOAA delivers funding and technical expertise to restore coastal and marine habitats. These habitats support valuable fisheries and protected resources, improve the quality of our water, provide recreational opportunities for the public's use and enjoyment, and buffer our coastal communities from the impacts of storms and sea level rise. Projects funded through NOAA have strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components that provide social and economic benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements. Through this solicitation, NOAA seeks to openly compete funding available for habitat restoration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications should be submitted for any project that is to be considered for this funding, even for those projects put forth to the Federal Government as examples by internal and external restoration partners or submitted as applications to other NOAA competitions. Competition will ensure that the most beneficial restoration projects are selected to realize significant ecological gains (with emphasis on projects that are regionally or nationally significant species and ecosystems), fuel America's near- term economy, and ensure that projects are truly ``shovel-ready.'' Proposals selected for funding through this solicitation will be implemented through a grant or cooperative agreement, with awards dependent upon the amount of funds made available to NOAA for this purpose by Congress. NOAA anticipates that up to $170 million may be available for coastal and marine habitat restoration; typical awards are expected to range between $1.5 million to $10 million. Funds will be administered by NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Operations of a Liquified Natural Gas Port Facility in Massachusetts Bay
NMFS has received a request from the Northeast Gateway Energy Bridge L.L.C. (Northeast Gateway or NEG) and its partner, Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC (Algonquin), for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to operating and maintaining a liquified natural gas (LNG) port facility and its associated Pipeline Lateral by NEG and Algonquin, in Massachusetts Bay for the period of May 2009 through May 2014. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to Northeast Gateway and Algonquin to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of marine mammals for a period of 1 year. NMFS is also requesting comments, information, and suggestions concerning Northeast Gateway's application and the structure and content of future regulations.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery; Emergency Rule
NMFS is implementing emergency measures to reduce the target total allowable catch (TAC) and associated days-at-sea (DAS) allocations in the Atlantic deep-sea red crab fishery, based on new scientific information. The red crab stock was assessed by the Data Poor Stocks Working Group in the fall of 2008, and a final report published in January 2009 indicates that the current estimate of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for red crab is no longer reliable. The actions of this final rule are necessary to comply with the objectives of the Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP), as well as to ensure compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). This action is intended to prevent unsustainable fishing of the red crab resource.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska
NMFS is reopening directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the A season allowance of the 2009 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock specified for Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Closure
NMFS closes the commercial fishery for king mackerel in the Florida east coast subzone. This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Socioeconomic Panel (SEP).
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2009-2010 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures
This final rule sets the 2009-2010 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and it revises rebuilding plans for four of the seven overfished rockfish species, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. Together, the revisions to rebuilding plans and the 2009-2010 harvest specifications and management measures are intended to rebuild overfished stocks as soon as possible, taking into account the status and biology of the stocks, the needs of fishing communities, and the interaction of the overfished stocks within the marine environment.