International Fisheries Division

The International Fisheries Division (IFD) is responsible, on behalf of NOAA and together with other government agencies, for negotiating and implementing the provisions of international fisheries agreements for the western and central Pacific Ocean.

The need for international cooperation in fisheries management in the WCPO is driven by the highly migratory nature of many of the targeted and bycatch species and the exploitation of common resources outside areas of national jurisdiction, on the high seas.  Highly migratory species (HMS), such as tuna and billfish, have a wide geographic distribution, both on the high seas and inside the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of many nations, creating the need for close cooperation between countries across the Pacific.
Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) play a critical role in the global system of fisheries governance. They are the primary way to achieve cooperation among fishing nations, which is essential for the conservation and effective management of tuna and tuna-like stocks that cross national boundaries. Through these organizations, the International Fisheries Division aims to promote international cooperation to achieve effective and responsible marine stewardship and ensure sustainable fisheries management globally. Domestic management is guided by our efforts and participation in these regional fisheries management organizations.

The following RFMOs apply to waters in the Pacific Ocean:

Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOS)

Boundaries and Fishery Map

*Click on map for larger view


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 publishes a proposed rule with requirements for U.S. purse seine and longline vessels operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

This proposed rule would, first, require that U.S. purse seine vessels carry observers on fishing trips; second, establish restrictions in 2016 and 2017 on the use of fish aggregating devices by U.S. purse seine vessels; and third, establish 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. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by May 12, 2016. The proposed rule, including instructions for submitting public comments, can be found 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.

NOAA Fisheries publishes a final 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 has also issued final specifications for 2015 that restrict the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) by purse seine vessels in the WCPO. View the final rule and final specifications and supporting documentation here. The final rule is effective November 30, 2015. Final specifications for 2015 are effective October 1, 2015. View the compliance guides for this rule below: