Sustainable Fisheries Division

Seeking Public Comment

  • August 22, 2016. Aquaculture; Notice of intent to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. NMFS, in coordination with the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (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. Publication of this notice begins the official public scoping process to help identify alternatives and determine the scope of environmental issues for consideration in the PEIS. The PEIS is intended to support offshore aquaculture development, 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. NMFS must receive comments by October 31, 2016. You may read the Federal Register notice here.
  • 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. NMFS 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,
visit: Regulations.gov.

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Recent Final Rules and Notices

For a complete set of regulations go to the CFR.

  • September 20, 2016. Notice of a valid specified fishing agreement for the CNMI. NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons of the 2016 bigeye tuna limit for the CNMI to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels. The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and fisheries development in the CNMI. Read the notice here.
  • September 9, 2016Final specifications; 2016 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch LimitsIn this final rule, NMFS specifies a 2016 limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). NMFS will allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a valid specified fishing agreement. 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 and fisheries development in the U.S. territories. The final specifications are effective September 9, 2016, through December 31, 2016. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is October 11, 2016. You may read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents 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.
  • August 25, 2016. Temporary Rule; Fishery Closure. Closure of Purse Seine Fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) for 2016. The closure will be effective at 00:00 on September 2, 2016 UTC, until 24:00 on December 31, 2016 UTC. View the announcement, the underlying rule, supporting documentation, and compliance guide here.
  • July 18, 2016. Temporary rule; fishery closure. NMFS is temporarily closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna for vessels over 24 meters in overall length in the eastern Pacific Ocean 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.
  • July 15, 2016. Temporary rule; fishery closure. NMFS is 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 NMFS 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.
  • 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. NMFS 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, NMFS allows large federally permitted U.S. longline vessels to fish in certain areas of the Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). NMFS 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.

  • January 19, 2016. NMFS establishes the annual harvest guideline for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for calendar year 2016 at zero lobsters. Please read the notice 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:

  • August 31, 2015. Final 2015 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures. In this final rule, NMFS specifies the 2015 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 ACLs and AMs support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The final specifications are effective September 30, 2015, through December 31, 2015. Read the rule and supporting documents here.

  • April 8, 2015. Notice of agency decision. NMFS announces approval of a Marine Conservation Plan for American Samoa, effective from April 1, 2015, through March 31, 2018. View the Federal Register notice View the Federal Register notice, Marine Conservation Plan, and supporting documents here.

  • March 25, 2015. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion; final rule. In this final rule, NMFS establishes requirements for fishing in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion. This final rule implements fishery management measures required by Presidential Proclamation 9173. This final rule is effective on April 24, 2015. View the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.
    • See the Monuments compliance guide 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. NMFS 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. NMFS 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.