Sustainable Fisheries Division

Seeking Public Comment

  • October 30, 2017. Proposed specifications; request for comments. Pacific Island Fisheries; 2017 Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures. NOAA Fisheries proposes 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 proposed ACLs and AMs would be effective in fishing year 2017. The proposed catch limits and accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments by November 14, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.

  • October 6, 2017. Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Permit Family of Forms. The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Written comments must be submitted on or before December 5, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and commenting instructions.

  • October 3, 2017. Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Islands Region Vessel and Gear Identification Requirements. The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Written comments must be submitted on or before December 4, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and commenting instructions.

  • September 27, 2017. Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Non-Commercial Permit and Reporting Requirements in the Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Fishery. The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Written comments must be submitted on or before November 27, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and commenting instructions.

  • September 20, 2017. NOAA Fisheries publishes a proposed rule establishing a limit of 1,828 fishing days for calendar year 2017 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. Comments on this proposed rule must be submitted by October 5, 2017. Read the proposed rule, including instructions for submitting comments.

  • August 4, 2017. NOAA Fisheries publishes an interim rule with requirements for longline
    vessels operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO)
    . This interim rule modifies the limit on the amount of bigeye tuna that may be captured by U.S. longline vessels in the WCPO to 3,138 mt for calendar year 2017. This interim rule is effective August 4, 2017. This limit has been modified to account for a catch overage in 2016. NOAA Fisheries will consider public comments on this interim rule and issue a final rule, responding to comments as appropriate. Comments on the interim rule must be submitted by September 5, 2017. Read the interim rule, including instructions for submitting public comments and the compliance guide.

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.

  • October 27, 2017. Notice; public meeting. NOAA Fisheries and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) of a 2017 Benchmark Stock Assessment for the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) Deep 7 Bottomfish Complex. Read the Federal Register notice.

  • October 13, 2017. Final Specifications; U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries specifies a 2017 limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). NOAA Fisheries 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, NOAA Fisheries 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 October 10, 2017, through December 31, 2017. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is December 11, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents.
    • October 23, 2017. ​​Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands​. ​NOAA Fisheries announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2017 bigeye tuna limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (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 Federal Register notice.​

  • September 20, 2017. Final rule. In this final rule, NOAA Fisheries removes a regulatory exemption that allowed certain large U.S. longline vessels to fish in portions of the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). The intent is to comply with a U.S. District Court Final Judgment and Order that vacated and set aside that rule. This rule is effective on September 20, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents for the final rule.

  • September 1, 2017. Temporary rule; fishery closure. NOAA Fisheries 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 through December 31, 2017, because the 2017 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-17-01 (Conservation of Tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean during 2017). The closure is effective on September 8, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice, compliance guide, and supporting documents for the fishery closure.

  • 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 14, 2017. Temporary rule; fishery closure. NOAA Fisheries is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean because the fishery has reached the 2017 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 on September 1, 2017. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents for the fishery closure.

  • 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.

  • 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 for additional permits in the American Samoa Longline Limited Entry Program.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.