Sustainable Fisheries Division

Seeking Public Comment

  • May 25, 2016. 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 between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S. in the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.. This interim rule is effective May 25, 2016. NOAA Fisheries will consider public comments on this interim rule and issue a final rule, responding to comments as appropriate. Comments must be submitted by June 24, 2016. The interim rule, including instructions for submitting comments, can be found here.

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rulemaking and supporting documents,
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Recent Final Rules and Notices

For a complete set of regulations go to the CFR.

  • July 21, 2017. NOAA Fisheries announces that 12 American Samoa pelagic longline limited entry permits in three vessel size classes are available. NOAA Fisheries​ must receive completed applications for these permits by November 20, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0086-0001.
  • June 30, 2017Final 2017-18 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures for Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish. NOAA Fisheries specifies an annual catch limit (ACL) of 306,000 lb for Deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for the 2017-18 fishing year, which will begin on September 1, 2017, and end on August 31, 2018. If NOAA Fisheries projects that the fishery will reach the ACL, NOAA Fisheries would close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish for the remainder of the fishing year as an accountability measure (AM). The ACL and AM support the long-term sustainability of Hawaii bottomfish. Read the Federal Register announcement at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0033-0005.

  • April 21, 2017Final 2016 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries specifies the 2016 annual catch limits (ACLs) for Pacific Island bottomfish, crustacean, precious coral, and coral reef ecosystem fisheries, and accountability measures (AMs) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The final ACLs and AMs are effective for fishing year 2016. The fishing year for each fishery begins on January 1 and ends on December 31, except for precious coral fisheries, which begin July 1 and end on June 30 the following year. Although the 2016 fishing year has ended for most stocks, we will evaluate 2016 catches against these final ACLs when data become available in mid-2017. The ACL and AM specifications support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. This rule is effective on May 22, 2017. You may read the final rule and supporting documentation here.
  • April 11, 2017. Fishing Restrictions for Tropical Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. NOAA Fisheries is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C-17-01 (Conservation of Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2017), which was adopted by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC or Commission) in February 2017. Applicable to 2017 only, most provisions of Resolution C-17-01 are identical in content to the previous resolution on tropical tuna management that expired at the end of 2016. The provisions that are maintained in Resolution C-17-01 from the previous resolution include a 500 metric ton (mt) bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) calendar year catch limit applicable to longline vessels greater than 24 meters in overall length and a 62-day closure period applicable each year to purse seine vessels of class size 4 to 6 (greater than 182 mt carrying capacity). In addition, the resolution includes a new requirement for total allowable catch limits (TACs) for yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and bigeye tuna harvested in purse seine sets on floating objects (97,711 mt) and in sets involving chase and encirclement of dolphins (162,182 mt). This rule implements all of those requirements and revises related regulations for clarification purposes. This rule is necessary for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC. This final rule is effective May 11, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.
  • January 23, 20172017 NWHI lobster harvest guideline. NOAA Fisheries establishes the annual harvest guideline for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for calendar year 2017 at zero lobsters. You may read the Federal Register notice here.
  • September 7, 2016. Final rule. This final rule removes the medium and large vessel bottomfish prohibited fishing areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Conditions in the fishery that led to establishing the prohibited areas are no longer present, and the restriction is no longer necessary. This rule also makes administrative housekeeping changes to the description of the CNMI management subarea and to the regulations for the CNMI management subarea for crustacean fishing. The intent of this final rule is to improve the viability of the CNMI bottomfish fishery and promote optimum yield while preventing overfishing. This final rule is effective on October 7, 2016. Read the final rule and supporting documents here.
  • June 24, 2016. 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 (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.
  • April 21, 2016. NOAA Fisheries announces that the Secretary of Commerce has approved Amendment 4 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Fisheries of the Hawaiian Archipelago. Amendment 4, recommended by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, revises the essential fish habitat and habitat areas of particular concern for 14 species of bottomfish and three species of seamount groundfish in the Hawaiian Archipelago. The action considers the best available scientific, commercial, and other information about the fisheries, and supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources. You may read Amendment 4 here.
  • January 29, 2016. Final rule. Exemption for Large U.S. Longline Vessels To Fish in Portions of the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries allows large federally permitted U.S. longline vessels to fish in certain areas of the Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). NOAA Fisheries will continue to prohibit fishing in the LVPA by large purse seine vessels. The fishing requirements for the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument remain unchanged. The intent of the rule is to improve the viability of the American Samoa longline fishery and achieve optimum yield from the fishery while preventing overfishing, in accordance with National Standard 1. This rule is effective January 29, 2016. Read the final rule and supporting documents here.

  • October 23, 2015. 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). View the petition, public comments on the petition, and the decision here.

  • October 1, 2015. Final Rule. 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”; and final specifications for 2015 that restrict the use of fish aggregating devices by purse seine vessels in the western and central Pacific Ocean. 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:

  • April 8, 2015. Notice of agency decision. NOAA Fisheries announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for American Samoa, effective from April 1, 2015, through March 31, 2018. View the Federal Register notice, Marine Conservation Plan, and supporting documents here.
  • February 19, 2015. Final Rule. Fishing restrictions regarding the oceanic whitetip shark, the whale shark, and the silky shark in the western and central Pacific Ocean. View the final rule in the Federal Register and supporting documentation here. A copy of the compliance guide for this final rule is available here.
  • August 12, 2014. Notice of agency decision. NOAA Fisheries announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for Guam, effective from August 4, 2014, through August 3, 2017. View the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.

  • August 1, 2014. Notice of agency decision. NOAA Fisheries announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for Pacific Insular Areas other than American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, effective from August 4, 2014, through August 3, 2017. View the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.
  • July 25, 2014. Notice of agency decision. NMFS announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for the Northern Mariana Islands, effective from August 4, 2014, through August 3, 2017. View the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.