Sustainable Fisheries Division

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Recent Final Rules and Notices

For a complete set of regulations go to the CFR.

  • April 11, 2018. Final rule. NOAA Fisheries is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C-17-02 (Conservation Measures for Tropical Tunas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2018-2020 and Amendment to Resolution C-17-01), which was adopted at the 92nd Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in July 2017. This final rule implements the C-17-02 fishing management measures for tropical tuna (i.e., bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (T. albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)) in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). This final rule imposes the following on purse seine vessels with carrying capacity greater than 182 metric tons (mt) fishing for tropical tuna in the EPO: A 72-day EPO-wide closure, a 31-day area closure, and a requirement that—with some exceptions—all tropical tuna be retained and landed. In addition, this final rule revises the restrictions for exemptions due to force majeure, establishes a bigeye tuna catch limit of 750 mt for U.S. longline vessels greater than 24 meters in overall length, and regulates the use and design of fish aggregating devices. This final rule is necessary for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks in the EPO and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC. This rule is effective May 11, 2018, except for the amendments to 50 CFR 300.24(qq) and 300.28(e), which are effective on January 1, 2019. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • March 14, 2018. Public meeting. The Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) Steering Committee will convene a public meeting to discuss and approve the 5-year calendar for stock assessments, and to address any other concerns related to the WPSAR process. The Steering Committee will meet from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 13, 2018, at the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813. Read the Federal Register notice about the meeting.

  • February 20, 2018. Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; ​​Public Meetings. The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its Social Science Planning Committee (SSPC) meeting, 128th Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting, 172nd Council meeting and its associated meetings to take actions on fishery management issues in the Western Pacific Region. A portion of the Council's Executive, Budget and Legislative Standing Committee meeting will be closed to the public.​ ​The meetings will be held between March 5 and March 16, 2018. Read the Federal Register notice.

  • February 5, 2018. Final specification. 2017 Hawaii Kona Crab Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measure. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries specifies an annual catch limit (ACL) for 2017 of 3,500 lb for Hawaii Kona Crab, and an accountability measure (AM) to correct or mitigate any overages of the catch limit. The ACL and AM support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The final specification is applicable from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • January 23, 2018. NOAA Fisheries establishes the annual harvest guideline for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for calendar year 2018 at zero lobsters. Read the Federal Register notice.

  • ​January 18, 2018. Public meeting. NOAA Fisheries and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council will convene a ​​Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review of the ​draft 2017 benchmark stock assessments for Guam coral reef fish.​ The meeting will be held February 6-9, 2018, in Honolulu. NOTE: The Federal Register notice indicates that the meeting would be held from Feb 5-9, but there was a scheduling change. Please read the Federal Register notice for details.​

  • December 13, 2017. Notice; Restrictions on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seine vessels in the WCPO. As the 2017 FAD set limit of 2,522 is expected to be reached by December 24, 2017, NOAA Fisheries has announced that U.S. purse seine vessels will be prohibited from fishing on FADs 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 in the area between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S. The prohibition will be effective 00:00 on December 24, 2017, universal time coordinated (UTC), until 24:00 on December 31, 2017 UTC. Read the inseason notice.

  • December 11, 2017. Final 2017 specifications. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries specifies annual catch limits (ACLs) for Pacific Island crustacean, precious coral, and territorial bottomfish fisheries, and accountability measures (AMs) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The ACLs and AMs will be effective for fishing year 2017. Although the 2017 fishing year has nearly ended for most stocks, we will evaluate 2017 catches against these final ACLs when data become available in mid-2018. The proposed ACLs and AMs support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The final specifications are applicable from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017, except for precious coral fisheries, which are applicable from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018. Read the Federal Register notice.

  • August 16, 2017. Notice of agency decision. NOAA Fisheries announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for Guam, valid from August 4, 2017, through August 3, 2020. Read the Federal Register notice, Marine Conservation Plan, and supporting documents.

  • August 11, 2017. 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, valid from August 4, 2017, through August 3, 2020. Read the Federal Register notice, Marine Conservation Plan for Pacific Insular Areas, and supporting documents.

  • August 9, 2017. Notice of agency decision. NOAA Fisheries announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for the Northern Mariana Islands, valid from August 4, 2017, through August 3, 2020. Read the Federal Register notice, Marine Conservation Plan for the Northern Mariana Islands, and supporting documents.
  • June 30, 2017. Final 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 notice and supporting documents for the 2017-18 annual catch limit for main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish.
  • 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.
  • 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.