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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 conservationand 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
Pacific Bluefin Tuna Warrants Status Review – Open for Public Comment.
NOAA Fisheries has found that a petition to list the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration. We will now conduct a status review of this species throughout its range. See the Federal Register notice here and submit scientific or commercial information that might help us in this review by December 10, 2016. For more information, see the Pacific bluefin tuna species page here.
NOAA Fisheries is convening a workshop to solicit facts and information from experts to inform recovery planning for the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) Distinct Population Segment (DPS), and is requesting new information that will be helpful in recovery planning.
The four-day recovery planning workshop for the MHI insular false killer whale DPS will be held Tuesday, October 25 through Friday, October 28, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Ohana Waikiki East Hotel, 150 Kaiulani Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815. The workshop is open to the public; for more information on the workshop agenda and contact information, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries announced another milestone in the transfer of submerged lands to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of the Interior formally reached an agreement that is one of the final steps necessary in the process of transferring the submerged lands around the islands of Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas), Maug, and Asuncion and associated mineral rights to the CNMI. For more information, please see press release here.
Video: The Heavenly Beauty, U‘ilani
NOAA Fisheries PIRO works hard to protect species, such as the endangered Hawaiian monk seal (a "Species in the Spotlight"), while respecting local traditions, practices, and customs. Check out our video feature here to learn the story of U‘ilani, a beloved monk seal who passed away from a disease and was later honored by the local community.
Aquaculture; Notice of intent to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.
NOAA Fisheries, in coordination with the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, intends to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of a proposed Pacific Islands Region aquaculture management program and alternatives. The official public scoping process is now open and will help identify alternatives and determine the scope of environmental issues for consideration in the PEIS. The PEIS is intended to support aquaculture development in the exclusive economic zone of the Pacific islands Region, including appropriate management unit species for aquaculture, reasonably foreseeable types of offshore aquaculture operations, and permitting and reporting requirements for persons conducting aquaculture activities in Federal waters. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments by October 31, 2016. You may read the Federal Register notice here.
NOAA Fisheries issues a final rule identifying 14 distinct population segments (DPSs) of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) under the Endangered Species Act.
Four of these DPSs are now listed as endangered, 1 as threatened, and 9 DPSs do not warrant listing in the final rule. Humpback whales in Hawaii (Hawaii DPS) and American Samoa (Oceania DPS) are no longer listed. Humpback whales in the Marianas Archipelago (Western North Pacific DPS) are listed as endangered. For more information on the humpback whale, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries issues an interim final rule for approach regulations for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) within 200 nautical miles of the islands of Hawaii.
Existing humpback whale approach regulations in Hawaii were issued under authority of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With the September 8, 2016 ESA final listing rule (see above), which divides the globally-listed humpback whale into 14 distinct population segments (DPSs), the ESA regulations no longer apply because the Hawaii DPS is no longer listed.
NOAA Fisheries determined that approach regulations are still warranted because humpback whales are charismatic animals that are in Hawaiian waters during an important part of their life cycle (breeding and calving) and need the space that approach regulations provide. NOAA Fisheries is publishing this interim final rule under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act that is similar to the ESA regulations. Humpback whale approach regulations in the Hawaiian Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will remain in place within Sanctuary waters.
The public is able to comment on this interim final approach rule until November 7, 2016. View the interim final approach rule and instructions for submitting comments here. View the Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact here. For more information on the humpback whale, see here.
More Than $2.4 Million Awarded for Bycatch Reduction Solutions
NOAA Fisheries has awarded more than $2.4 million to 18 projects under the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program. The funding supports key partners in the research and development of innovative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, bycatch mortality, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries. For the regional breakdown of the 2016 Bycatch Reduction Engingeering Program awards, please see here.
Chambered Nautilus Warrants Status Review - Open for Public Comment
NOAA Fisheries found that a petition to list the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration. We will now conduct a status review of this species throughout its range. Please submit pertinent scientific and commercial information here by October 25, 2016. For more information, see the chambered nautilus species page here.
NOAA Fisheries announces closure of the purse seine fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) from September 2, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
View the announcement, the underlying rule, supporting documentation, and compliance guide here.
NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of a proposed rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to enhance protections for Hawaiian spinner dolphins in the main Hawaiian Islands.
Proposed regulations would prohibit swimming with and approaching a Hawaiian spinner dolphin within 50 yards for persons, vessels, and objects, including approach by interception. The purpose is to prevent harassment and disturbance of Hawaiian spinner dolphins, and would apply in waters within 2 nautical miles of the main Hawaiian Islands and in waters between the islands of Lanai, Maui, and Kahoolawe - marine areas where human viewing and interaction pressures are most prevalent.
NOAA is seeking comments on this proposal for 60 days; comments must be received no later than 5 PM October 23, 2016.
For additional information about the proposed regulations and Hawaiian spinner dolphins, please see here.
NOAA awards $5.4 million in grants for endangered, threaten species recovery.
NOAA announces $5.4 million in funding for 17 new projects and the continuation of 8 multi-year projects under the 2016 Species Recovery Grant Program. Funding opportunities count towards recovering species and tracks with our mission of preserving our marine resources for future generations.
NOAA Fisheries is now accepting applications for the 2017 Species Recovery Grant Programs to States until October 17, 2017 and to Tribes until October 24, 2016. State applications, see here. Tribal applications, see here.
NOAA Fisheries Releases a Recovery Outline for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens) Distinct Population Segment.
This outline is meant to serve as an interim guidance document to direct recovery efforts, including recovery planning, for this endangered species until a full recovery plan is developed and approved. For more information on recovery planning for the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale DPS, please see here.
Approximately $10 million available for fisheries projects.
NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of approximately $10 million in funding for projects focusing on sustainable fisheries and coastal fishing communities.
Deadline for pre-proposals: September 20, 2016.
For more information on eligibility and application requirements, please click here.
For press release, please click here.
NOAA Fisheries is temporarily closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna for vessels over 24 meters in overall length in the eastern PacificOcean because the 2016 catch limit of 500 metric tons is expected to be reached.
This action is necessary to prevent the fishery from exceeding the applicable catch limit established by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission in Resolution C-13-01 (Multiannual Program for the Conservation of Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2014-2016). The rule is effective 12 a.m. local time July 25, 2016, through 11:59 p.m. local time December 31, 2016. Vessels must land all bigeye tuna by August 8, 2016. Read the temporary rule and compliance guide here.
NOAA Fisheries is temporarily closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean because the fishery has reached the 2016 catch limit.
This action is necessary to ensure compliance with NOAA Fisheries regulations that implement decisions of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The closure is effective 12:01 a.m. local time July 22, 2016, through December 31, 2016. Vessels must land all bigeye tuna by August 5, 2016. Read the temporary rule, compliance guide, and frequently asked questions here.
NOAA Fisheries proposes a 2016 limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands).
NOAA Fisheries would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 m each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NOAA Fisheries 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 support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. Comments must be received by July 22, 2016. For more information see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a not warranted 12-month finding (81 FR 41934) on the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena).
In response to a petition, we have determined the smooth hammerhead shark does not warrant listing as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act at this time. For more information on the smooth hammerhead shark please see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a negative 90-day finding (81 FR 41958) on the Maui and Kona Reef manta ray populations.
We found that a petition to list the Maui and Kona reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) populations as distinct population segments and as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. However, in response to a previous petition to list the entire reef manta ray species under the ESA, we are conducting a status review of M. alfredi to determine if the species warrants listing throughout all or a significant portion of its range. For more information, see the manta ray species page here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a final rule with requirements for U.S. purse seine and longline vessels operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).
This final rule, first, requires that U.S. purse seine vessels carry observers on fishing trips (effective date: July 25, 2016); second, establishes restrictions in 2016 and 2017 on the use of fish aggregating devices by U.S. purse seine vessels (effective date: July 1, 2016); and third, establishes limits in 2016 (3,554 mt) and 2017 (3,345 mt) on the amount of bigeye tuna that may be captured by U.S. longline vessels (effective date July 1, 2016). View the final rule and supporting documents here.
Shallow Coral Reefs — Essential Fish Habitat of the Pacific Islands
NOAA Fisheries considers all shallow coral reefs in the Pacific Islands Region to be "essential fish habitat." What does this designation mean and how does it help us protect these valuable resources? Read our feature story here to find out.
$8.5 million in funding for coastal and marine habitat restoration in 2016.
NOAA is seeking proposals for habitat restoration projects under the Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency grant program. The proposed projects should reduce the risks to coastal communities from extreme weather events, changing environment conditions and potential climate change effects. For more information about the funding opportunity, see here. For press release, see here. Proposals are due by August 16, 2016.
Respect Our Sea Turtles
Summer is here and with it comes sea turtle nesting season! As a result, you may witness increased sea turtle activity, including mating in nearshore waters, as well as more basking (resting) on beaches. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources reminds everyone — locals and visitors alike — to respect our sea turtles.
- Report all hawksbill sea turtle sightings, any nesting activity (turtle tracks or nest digging), and injured or dead turtles to NOAA's Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline:
- O‘ahu/Lana‘i/Moloka‘i: (808) 725-5730; 286-4377 (after hours)
- Kaua‘i: (808) 274-3344
- Maui: (808) 286-2549 (primary) or 286-2899
- Hawai‘i: (808) 286-4359 (Hilo); 881-4200 (N. Kona); 327-6226 (S. Kona)
Report illegal or suspicious activity that may result in turtle injury or death by calling the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at (808) 587-0077 or 643-DLNR.
Update: Rehabilitated Seals Safely Return to the Wild
After nearly 7 months of rehabilitation at the Ke Kai Ola hospital on Hawai‘i Island, seven juvenile monk seals have been safely returned to the wild. Read our Q&A with David Schofield, NOAA Fisheries marine mammal response program coordinator, to learn more about their journey.
NOAA Fisheries publishes an interim rule establishing a limit of 1,828 fishing days for calendar year 2016 on fishing effort by U.S. purse seine vessels in the U.S. exclusive economic zone and on the high seas in the western and central Pacific Ocean.. This interim rule is effective May 25, 2016. Comments must be submitted by June 24, 2016. For more information, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a final rule on area of overlap between IATTC and WCPFC. The final rule provides that the management measures of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) no longer apply in the area of overlapping jurisdiction between the IATTC and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), with the exception of regulations governing the IATTC Regional Vessel Register. The final rule goes into effect on May 26, 2016. Further information on this final rule can be found here.
NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) released a draft environmental assessment analyzing the proposal to transfer the title to three miles of submerged lands within the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument from the United States to the CNMI government. The public is able to comment on the assessment from May 4 - June 6, 2016. View the draft environmental assessment and instructions for submitting comments here. Read the press release about this assessment here.
The Cost of Saving Sea Turtles from Gillnets
New research from NOAA Fisheries scientists shows that lightsticks attached to gillnets can significantly reduce sea turtle bycatch in small-scale fisheries. Read our feature story here to learn more about this fascinating and important research.
How Underwater Cameras Can Help Conserve Hawai‘i's Deep 7 Bottomfish
NOAA Fisheries scientists are testing out new technologies to get a better handle on the population health of Hawaii's Deep 7, which includes ehu, onaga, and opakapaka, among other species. Read our feature story here to learn more about these efforts, and how they help ensure the bottomfish are available in the future for all to enjoy.
NOAA Fisheries is pleased to announce the release of the 2015 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries to Congress.
The number of stocks on the overfishing and overfished lists remains near all-time lows, and we continued to rebuild stocks. View the report here. Visit the NOAA Fisheries website for more details.
NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Services) announced a Final Rule to revise the listing for green sea turtles under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
After conducting a review of the global status of green sea turtles and incorporating public comments, the Services found that the green turtle is composed of 11 Distinct Population Segments (DPS) that qualify for listing as endangered or threatened under the ESA — we listed eight as threatened and three as endangered. The Central West Pacific DPS (includes Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and the Central South Pacific DPS (includes Pacific Remote Island Areas and American Samoa) are listed as endangered. The Central North Pacific DPS (includes Hawaii and Johnston Atoll) is listed as threatened. The new classifications provide a more targeted approach for managers to address specific threats facing different populations, while maintaining federal protections for all turtles.
View the final rule in the Federal Register and supporting documentation here.
For more information about green sea turtles, see here.
For press release, see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a not warranted 12-month finding (81 FR 18980) on the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) and the bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus). In response to a petition to list these two thresher shark species, we have determined that neither species warrants listing as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act at this time. For more information on the common thresher shark please see here. For more information on the bigeye thresher shark, please see here.
Success, 100 Meters Below.
While aboard the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai last October, NOAA Fisheries summer intern Christopher Lindsay successfully tested an underwater camera system he designed to study deep-sea life. Read our two-part profile of him here to learn about his journey to NOAA Fisheries and his fascinating project.
Manta Rays Warrant Status Review – Open for Public Comment. NOAA Fisheries found that a petition to list the giant manta ray (Manta birostris) and the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration. We will now conduct a status review of these two species throughout their range. Please submit pertinent scientific and commercial information here on these two species by April 25, 2016. For more information, see the manta ray species page here.
About a decade ago, NOAA Fisheries partnered with a non-profit organization to provide science exposure and real-world research experiences (on topics like bycatch mitigation) to underserved students in California.
Read more about this unique collaboration and the amazing results it's yielding here.
Enjoy this award-winning, hilarious sing-along short film about why the Marine National Monuments are worth protecting for future generations. Virtually dive into the Pacific blue waters to see stunning corals, sharks, monk seals, sea turtles, giant clams, deep sea shrimp, volcanoes, sea birds, and much more - all in high definition. The target age for this film is upper elementary, but it's enjoyable for all ages and has subtitles in English and Samoan (Chamorro, Carolinian and Hawaiian available upon request). Use the accompanying lesson plan to dive deeper into learning about marine debris, marine science careers, and the marvelous resources found in these amazing, remote locations (more lessons will be added soon).
NOAA Fisheries announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Fisheries of the Hawaiian Archipelago. If approved, Amendment 4 would revise the descriptions of essential fish habitat and habitat areas of particular concern for 14 species of bottomfish and three species of seamount groundfish in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Comments must be received by April 12, 2016. You may read the Federal Register notice and Amendment 4 here.
NOAA Fisheries releases new Species in the Spotlight 5-Year Action Plan for Hawaiian Monk Seals. The plan has key priorities and opportunities for partnerships to help our monk seals recover.
To download a copy of the plan, please see here.
For more information, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries holds its Science at Sea event to honor a NOAA Teacher at Sea awardee and a NOAA summer intern, both of who recently worked on NOAA ships. Read more about the event, which included an award ceremony, a tour of a NOAA ship, and a display and discussion of NOAA advanced technologies, here.
NOAA Fisheries is pleased to announce the release of the final Main Hawaiian Islands Monk Seal Management Plan. The management plan is an important step toward successfully managing the main Hawaiian Islands' monk seal population, preparing to address emerging challenges, and fostering co-existence between people and seals. To download a copy of the plan please click here.
For more information on the final plan, please see here.
NOAA Fisheries publishes a positive 90-day finding (81 FRN 1376) on the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus). In response to a petition to list the oceanic whitetip 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 oceanic whitetip shark by March 14, 2016, see here.
For more information, see the oceanic whitetip shark page here.
April 13, 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, or the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) — the primary law governing the management of marine fisheries in U.S. federal waters. NOAA Fisheries PIRO will be celebrating the MSA on social media each week from now through April, so frequently check out the PIRO Facebook and Twitter pages to learn about the MSA, the work NOAA Fisheries does in support of it, and the act’s various success stories.
NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of the "Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (DPEA) for Fisheries and Ecosystem Research Conducted and Funded by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). For more information, see here.
Catching Fishermen's Attention
with Barbless Circle Hooks
For the last decade, the Barbless Circle Hook Project has worked to increase the awareness and use of barbless circle hooks among Hawaiʻi's shoreline fishermen. See here to read about how this unique project got off the ground and what it takes to convince fishermen to use the hooks, as well as the man who makes it all possible.
EVENT: Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins on the Kona Coast: Population Size, Habitat Use, and Exposure to Human Activities.
Wednesday December 9th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Community Hale (Building G), West Hawaii Civic Center, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy.
Kailua Kona HI 96740
Dr. Julian Tyne will present the results of his research on the spinner dolphins at Makako, Kealakekua, Honaunau, and Kauhako bays. For more details click here.
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 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.
Facebook page name change
We changed the title of our Facebook page to "NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands" to better reflect the strong collaboration between the Regional Office and Science Center in the management and conservation of our marine resources. Follow us @usnoaafisheriespacificislands.
HI Fish & Dive Expo
Sat - Sun, October 29-30
For more details, see here .
Species in the Spotlight: Hawaiian Monk Seal
Get the latest news on monk seals, here.