Sustainable Fisheries Division

Seeking Public Comment

  • August 8, 2018. Notice of availability of fishery ecosystem plan amendments; request for comments. Ecosystem component species. NOAA Fisheries announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEP) for American Samoa, the Mariana Archipelago, and Hawaii. Amendment 4 to the American Samoa FEP, Amendment 5 to the Marianas FEP, and Amendment 5 to the Hawaii FEP would reclassify certain management unit species as ecosystem component species. The intent of these amendments is to focus management efforts on species that are in need of conservation and management, and improve efficiency of fishery management in the region. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments by October 9, 2018. Read the Federal Register notice and proposed FEP amendments.

  • August 8, 2018. Proposed specifications; request for comments. 2018 U.S. territorial longline bigeye tuna catch limits. NOAA Fisheries proposes a 2018 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). NOAA Fisheries would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS 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 would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments by August 23, 2018. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • June 12, 2018. NOAA Fisheries publishes an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to seek public input about management of U.S. fishing vessels in the area of overlapping jurisdiction between the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Comments on this advance notice of proposed rulemaking must be submitted by July 12, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET. Visit the Regulations.gov website for the advance notice of proposed rulemaking, including instructions for submitting comments.

To find, view, and comment on
rulemaking and supporting documents,
visit: Regulations.gov.

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Recent Final Rules and Notices

For a complete set of regulations go to the CFR.

  • July 18, 2018. NOAA Fisheries publishes a final rule to implement recent decisions of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. These regulations implement catch limits for the U.S. longline fleet operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), fishing effort limits for the U.S. WCPO purse seine fleet, restrictions on the use of fish aggregating devices for the purse seine fleet, and a prohibition on transshipments in the Eastern High Seas Special Management Area. View the regulatory action details for more information about the final rule and supporting documents, including compliance guides on how to comply with the final rule.

  • June 21, 2018. Notice of a public meeting; correction. NOAA Fisheries and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) have rescheduled a Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) of a draft 2018 benchmark stock assessment for main Hawaiian Islands Kona crab. The meeting announced in the Federal Register on June 5, 2018, has been rescheduled for September 10-14, 2018. Read the Federal Register notice.

  • June 14, 2018. Final rule. 5-Year Extension of Moratorium on Harvest of Gold Corals. This final rule extends the region-wide moratorium on the harvest of gold corals in the U.S. Pacific Islands through June 30, 2023. NOAA Fisheries intends this final rule to prevent overfishing and to stimulate research on gold corals. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • May 11, 2018. Temporary rule; fishery closure. This final rule ​​closes the Hawaii shallow-set pelagic longline fishery in compliance with an order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, effective from May 11, 2018, through December 31, 2018 (the fishery must comply with the rule from May 4, 2018, through December 31, 2018). Read the ​​Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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.