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The Pacific Islands Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Pacific Islands Regional Office manages programs that support both domestic and international conservation and management of living marine resources within the Pacific. The Pacific Islands Region is comprised of American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other U.S. Pacific islands.
What's Hot Now
NOAA Fisheries Publishes a Notice (80 FR 71774) announcing that no areas meet the definition of critical habitat for the scalloped hammerhead shark.
We have determined that there are no marine areas within the jurisdiction of the United States that meet the definition of critical habitat for the Central and Southwest Atlantic Distinct Population Segment (DPS), Indo-West Pacific DPS, or Eastern Pacific DPS of scalloped hammerhead shark. For more information, see here.
NOAA Fisheries announces that it has denied a petition for rulemaking from Tri Marine Management Company, LLC, related to purse seine fishing effort limits in the area of competence of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Commission). Although the petition has been denied, NOAA Fisheries issues an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) related to the treatment of U.S.-flagged purse seine vessels and their fishing activities in regulations implementing decisions of the Commission. View the ANPR and instructions for submitting comments here. Comments on the ANPR must be submitted by November 23, 2015. Further information on the petition, including public comments on the petition, can be found here.
Shucking the Limitations of Hawai'i's Aquaculture Industry with Oysters.
With consultation from NOAA Fisheries experts and others, Kualoa Ranch has begun selling the first grown-to-maturity Pacific oysters in Hawaii in nearly three decades. Read just what it takes to raise oysters in a Hawaiian fishpond – and what it all means for the future of Hawaii aquaculture – here.
Final Rule for 2015 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Effective October 9, 2015 through December 31, 2015 NMFS announces final specifications for a 2015 limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). NMFS will allow the territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. These catch limits and accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is November 9, 2015.
For more information and to view the final rule, please visit here.
$2.75 Million in grant funding for marine mammal rescue efforts. NOAA Fisheries announced the award of $2.75 million in grant funding to partner organizations in 16 states to respond to and rehabilitate stranded marine mammals and collect data on their health. Learn more about the 2015 Funded Prescott Awards. View press release here.
NOAA announces up to $10 million available to support fisheries projects under Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants program. Deadline for proposals is November 2, 2015. For more details visit here.
$4.5 Million in Species Recovery Grants awarded to states and tribes. The 2015 funding supports 5 new projects and the continuation of 14 multi-year projects. Some of the species these projects focus on include false killer whales, shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, and Atlantic salmon. The agency is also opening a call for 2016 state and tribal proposals under this program. Tribal applications are due by September 29. State applications are due by October 8. For more details visit here.
NOAA Fisheries released it's first-ever National Climate Science Strategy. It was developed to meet the growing demand for information to better prepare for and respond to climate-related impacts on the nation's living marine resources and resource-dependent communities. For more information about the Climate Science Strategy, see here.
NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announce an additional 30-day extension to the public comment period to revise the ESA listing of the green sea turtle. The deadline for comments is September 25, 2015. For more information please see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a not warranted 12-month finding (80 FR 51235) on the orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula). In response to a petition to list the orange clownfish, we have determined that the species does not warrant listing as endangered or threatened under the ESA at this time. For more information please see here.
NOAA Fisheries launches new informational hub for the Hawaiian monk seal as part of the "Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive" initiative, an agency-wide effort to highlight the eight NOAA-protected species most at risk of extinction. Visit the Species in the Spotlight: Hawaiian Monk Seal page here, and check back frequently for the latest news on the Hawaiian monk seal.
NOAA Fisheries issued its final rule to revise critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal, expanding the previous designation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and identifying new key beach areas and marine-foraging areas in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). Under the Endangered Species Act, Federal agencies must ensure that activities that they carry out, authorize or fund do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. View in the final rule, which goes into effect September 21, 2015, here . For more information about critical habitats, see here.
NOAA Fisheries announces the completion of a Draft Main Hawaiian Islands Monk Seal Management Plan. The draft plan will be available for public review and comment for 30-days, from August 11 through September 9, 2015. To see the draft plan and find out how to comment, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a positive 90-day finding (80 FR 48061) on the bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus). In response to a petition to list the bigeye thresher shark, we find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted for the species. This species is now considered a candidate species, and a status review will be initiated for it. To submit scientific and commercial information pertaining to the bigeye thresher shark by October 13, 2015, see here. For more information, see the bigeye thresher shark page here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a positive 90-day finding (80 FR 48053) on the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena). In response to a petition to list the smooth hammerhead shark, we find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted for the species. This species is now considered a candidate species, and a status review will be initiated for it. To submit scientific and commercial information pertaining to the smooth hammerhead shark by October 13, 2015, see here. For more information, see the smooth hammerhead shark page here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a proposed rule to establish a framework to specify limits on fishing effort and catches, other fisheries restrictions and requirements, and to require, among other things, that certain U.S. fishing vessels obtain “IMO numbers” for fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). NOAA Fisheries is also proposing specific limits for 2015, including restrictions on the use of fish aggregating devices by purse seine vessels WCPO. View the proposed rule and proposed specifications and supporting documentation here. Comments on the proposed rule or proposed specifications must be submitted by August 7, 2015.
NOAA Fisheries establishes longline bigeye tuna catch limit for longline fisheries operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) for 2015. View the final rule and supporting documents here. The final rule is effective July 23, 2015. A copy of the compliance guide for this final rule is available here.
NOAA Fisheries Kicks Off Hawaiian Monk Seal Vaccination Drill
From July 15 through July 17, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center will be conducting a vaccination drill spanning Oahu and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Read More...
NOAA Fisheries announces the receipt of, and requests public comment on, a petition for rulemaking from Tri Marine Company, LLC regarding the 2015 fishing effort limit and closure of the purse seine fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS). View the notice of receipt and the supporting documentation here.
NOAA announces more than $25 million in recommended funding for 88 projects under the 2014-2015 Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program. These awards are intended to improve U.S. fishing opportunities, observations, resiliency, and sustainability. If final approval is received, $2.84 million of the recommended funding will go to 10 projects in the Pacific Islands Region. For a listing of the recommended projects in the Pacific Islands see here. To learn more about NOAA’s announcement and the grant program see here.
Rose Atoll Marine National Monument Gets Interactive Underwater "Street View"
The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (RAMNM) is a protected area covering some 13,450 square miles of land, water, and reef in and around the Rose Atoll in American Samoa.
Monk Seals with Health and Safety Issues: How NOAA Fisheries decides to intervene. As NOAA Fisheries works to protect and recover endangered Hawaiian monk seals, we often need to decide whether or not to directly intervene with seals that have health or safety issues. For more on this process, view the complete article here. For more information on how NOAA helps Hawaiian monk seals see here.
NOAA Fisheries announces closure of the purse seine fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) from June 15, 2015, through December 31, 2015. View the announcement, the underlying rule, and supporting documentation here. A copy of the compliance guide is available here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes an interim final rule to establish a limit on purse seine fishing effort in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) for 2015. View the interim final rule and supporting documentation here. This interim final rule is effective on May 21, 2015. A copy of the compliance guide for this interim final rule is available here. Comments on this rule are requested and should be submitted by June 5, 2015.
NOAA Fisheries is launching a new initiative to highlight Species in the Spotlight. While all of our species listed under the Endangered Species Act are valuable and vulnerable, NOAA Fisheries has a new initiative to focus on species across the nation that are most at risk of extinction, and for which we believe a focused effort CAN significantly reduce, stabilize, or reverse their rate of decline by 2020. Here in the Pacific Islands Region, Hawaiian monk seals and Pacific leatherbacks have been chosen as two of the eight species nationally to be "in the spotlight." We can't recover these species alone. For more information on the "Species in the Spotlight" initiative, see here and find out what you can do to help!
NOAA Fisheries releases a Recovery Outline for the 15 Indo-Pacific threatened coral species. The Recovery Outline is an interim guidance document to help direct recovery efforts and recommends specific high priority actions to stabilize and recover the species. For more information see here.
PIRO Observer Program celebrating over 20 years of service! Learn more here.
NOAA Fisheries has proposed to reclassify the humpback whale into 14 distinct population segments under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas. The proposed rule finds that ten of those 14 populations do not warrant ESA listing. NOAA Fisheries is opening up a 90 day public comment period for this proposed rule. During this time, NOAA Fisheries welcomes public comments and any new information to ensure that our final determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial information.
For general information on humpback whales, go to: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/whales/humpback-whale.html
To read the proposal’s Federal Register notice, go to:
Humpback Whale Images Slideshow and Facts vs. Fiction Information:
Humpback whale B-roll: vimeo.com/111689294
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (i.e., the Services) have issued a 12-month petition finding, proposed rule, and public hearing notice regarding the status of the green sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Services found that the green turtle is composed of 11 Distinct Population Segments (DPS) that qualify as “species” for listing as endangered or threatened under the ESA, and we propose to list eight as threatened and three as endangered. Although we find that the Hawaiian green turtle population (referred to in the proposed rule as the Central North Pacific population) does constitute a DPS, we do not find removing this population from the ESA warranted at this time. All green sea turtles in the Pacific Islands Region are protected by the ESA and remain protected under the proposed rule. Links to the rule and supporting documents are available on the following webpages:
- News release (pdf 196 kB)
The Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud released its action plan today. The plan articulates the aggressive steps that federal agencies will take both domestically and internationally to implement the recommendations the Task Force made in December 2014. Learn more about the task force recommendations and action plan here.
In 2014, the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office executed over $11 million in grants, cooperative agreements and other financial support to constituents. For more information on all the exciting projects funded, see the Federal Programs Office 2014 Annual Report here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a final rule to implement fishing restrictions on oceanic whitetip sharks, whale sharks, and silky sharks in the western and central Pacific Ocean. View the final rule in the Federal Register and supporting documentation here. The final rule is effective March 23, 2015. A copy of the compliance guide for this final rule is available here.
NOAA Fisheries proposes to establish requirements for fishing in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion. The proposed rule is intended to implement fishery management measures consistent with Presidential Proclamation 9173. Comments will be accepted until February 13, 2015. View the proposed rule and submit comment here.
New videos bring Marine National Monuments to you! Two new films on the monuments in the Pacific Islands Region were produced to bring these remote marine monuments to you. Our Deepest Waters allows the viewer to see the fragile living marine resources found in these protected areas and understand the efforts NOAA Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife Service and territorial partners are making to manage and safeguard these special places. The Marvelous Musical Report on the Marine National Monuments provides a lighter look at these monuments with a younger audience in mind. Both films were produced by Open Boat Films and SisBro Films through a NOAA Fisheries grant.
To view the videos see:
Our Deepest Waters at https://vimeo.com/87202587 and
Marvelous Musical Report at https://vimeo.com/101320425
NOAA and its partners continue expansion of the Dolphin SMART program on Maui. The Dolphin SMART program awards annual recognition to tour operators who responsibly view wild dolphins and educate their patrons on dolphin conservation. For more information on Dolphin SMART Program in the Hawaiian Islands, click here.
Maui tour business, Pacific Whale Foundation, earns the Dolphin SMART recognition in Hawaii, as the sixth Dolphin SMART business in the state, and the second business on Maui.
A valuable new guide is now available to help shellfish farmers navigate the permit process. The publication, Information for Shellfish Growers, contains information on the main types of leases, permits, or other forms of authorization needed for a commercial shellfish farm. Making permitting requirements more transparent to shellfish growers is important for improved coordination and timely permit decisions. For more information, please click here.
The Pacific Islands Regional Office launched their Twitter and Facebook accounts to further enhance your ability to get timely information and enhance communication! Our Twitter and Facebook posts will provide information on such things as information about Hawaiian monk seals, funding opportunities and the next outreach and education event. This an opportunity to connect and share real-time material about our efforts in marine resource conservation and management within the Pacific Islands Region.
Connect with us and get the latest information on Twitter and Facebook
On January 13, 2015, NOAA Fisheries published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to inform the public that we are considering protective regulations for the newly listed 20 coral species (79 FR 53851) and solicit information to help inform those regulations. For more details on the types of information we are seeking and how to submit information, please see our Corals page.
Fishermen may now submit marine mammal mortality/injury report forms online or via email. All commercial fishermen are required to report to NOAA Fisheries all injuries or mortalities of marine mammals that occur during commercial fishing. NOAA Fisheries announces new options for fishermen to submit reports electronically. View reporting instructions here.
NOAA Fisheries announces a direct final rule revising the generic name for the Hawaiian monk seal to Neomonachus under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This rule does not change the listing status of the Hawaiian monk seal under the ESA, rather it reflects a technical change to the taxonomic name of the species which has been acknowledged in scientific literature and catalogued in ZooBank the official register for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. This rule becomes effective January 16, 2015 without further action, unless significant adverse comment is received by December 17, 2014. View the final rule and submit comments here.
NOAA report finds 2013 U.S. seafood landings and value increased from 2012. For more information see here.
NOAA Fisheries is now accepting applications for the Fiscal Year 2014/2015 Saltonstall-Kennedy competitive grant competition authorized by the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act, commonly known as the S-K fund, provides grants or cooperative agreements for fisheries research and development projects addressing aspects of U.S. fisheries, including, but not limited to, harvesting, processing, marketing, and associated infrastructures. Applications are due December 15, 2014. For more information see here.
NOAA Fisheries issues a permit (79 FR62105) to authorize incidental take of endangered whales by Hawaii deep-set and shallow-set longline fisheries. The permit is for a period of three years and will authorize the incidental, but not intentional, taking of three stocks of marine mammals listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the Hawaii deep-set and shallow-set longline fisheries. The affected species are the endangered humpback whale, (Megaptera novaeangliae), Central North Pacific stock; sperm whale, (Physeter macrocephalus), Hawaii stock; and false killer whale, (Pseudorca crassidens), Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale (MHI IFKW) stock.
For the associated Final Negligible Impact Determination (NID) see here.
NOAA Fisheries issues an Endangered Species Act Section 7 biological opinion on the continued operation of the Hawaii-based deep-set pelagic longline fishery. After reviewing the current status of ESA-listed humpback whales, sperm whales, MHI insular false killer whale DPS, North Pacific loggerhead DPS, leatherback sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, green sea turtles, and the Indo-west Pacific scalloped hammerhead DPS, the environmental baseline for the action area, the effects of the proposed action, and the cumulative effects, it is NMFS' biological opinion that the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these eight species, and since no critical habitat will be adversely affected the action is not likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat.
For more on NMFS' biological opinion, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries Publishes a Final Rule to list 20 species of coral as Threatened under the ESA: 15 in the Indo-Pacific and 5 in the Caribbean. In the Pacific Islands Region, one or more of the 15 corals proposed for listing occur in Guam (4), the Northern Marianas (2), American Samoa (8), and the Pacific Remote Island Areas (3). No listed corals occur in Hawaii. Please see the Protected Resources Division's Corals page for more information and to view the Federal Register Notice and supporting documents here. For press release see here. For the NOAA Fisheries Featured Story see here.
To hear comments on the Coral Listing made by Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries, click here.
NOAA Fisheries Announces Availability of Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Actions. The Final PEIS for Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Actions is available for public review and comment. This Final PEIS provides decision-makers and the public with an evaluation of the environmental, social, and economic effects of funding, permitting, and conducting research and enhancement activities identified in the Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Plan with the goal of conserving and recovering the species. The Final PEIS can be viewed and downloaded at the PEIS project website. We also invite the public to check out our final PEIS newsletter that provides important summary information about the Final PEIS.
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