Sustainable Fisheries Division

Proposed Rules for Public Comment

  • February 12, 2016. Notice of Proposed Hawaii FEP Amendment. NMFS announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Fisheries of the Hawaiian Archipelago. If approved, Amendment 4 would revise the descriptions of 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 proposed action considers the best available scientific, commercial, and other information about the fisheries, and supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources. NMFS must receive comments by April 12, 2016. The Secretarial Decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 4 must be made by May 12, 2016. You may read the Federal Register notice and Amendment 4 here.

  • January 25, 2016. Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit for Offshore Aquaculture. NMFS proposes to issue a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit that would authorize Kampachi Farms, LLC, to stock, culture, and harvest fish that are part of the coral reef ecosystem management unit in a submerged net pen moored in Federal waters about 5.5 nm (10.2 km) off the west coast of the Island of Hawaii. This notice informs the public that NMFS prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) of the potential impacts of the proposed activity. NMFS must receive comments on the draft EA by February 16, 2016. You may view the Federal Register notice and EA here.

  • October 23, 2015. NOAA Fisheries issues an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) related to the treatment of U.S.-flagged purse seine vessels and their fishing activities in regulations implementing decisions of the Commission. View the ANPR and instructions for submitting comments here. Comments on the ANPR must be submitted by November 23, 2015.

  • August 25, 2015. Interim Final Rule. Purse Seine Fishing Restrictions during Closure Periods. NOAA Fisheries has published an interim final rule to amend regulations to remove a restriction that prohibits U.S. purse seine vessels from conducting otherwise lawful bunkering during an ELAPS closure. View the interim final rule and supporting documentation here. The interim final rule is effective August 25, 2015. Comments on this interim final rule must be submitted in writing by September 24, 2015.

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

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Federal Regulations
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Recent Final Rules and Notices

For a complete set of regulations go to the CFR.

  • 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.

  • November 27, 2015. NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates 1,000 mt of the 2015 Guam bigeye tuna limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels. The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.

  • November 23, 2015. NMFS is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean as a result of the fishery reaching the 2015 allocation limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This action is necessary to comply with regulations managing this fish stock. The closure is effective November 30, 2015, through December 31, 2015. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here.

  • November 6, 2015. Final Specification: 2015 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for Guam. In this final rule, NMFS specifies a 2015 limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for Guam. NMFS will allow the territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. 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. The final specifications are effective November 6, 2015, through December 31, 2015. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is December 7, 2015. Read the Federal Register notice 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 14, 2015. Final Specifications. 2015 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the CNMI. NMFS specifies a 2015 limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). NMFS will allow the territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. 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. The final specifications are effective October 9, 2015, through December 31, 2015. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is November 9, 2015. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents 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.

  • August 25, 2015. Final Rule. Effort limits in purse seine fisheries in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) for 2015. View the final rule and supporting documentation here. A copy of the compliance guide for this rule is available here.

  • August 5, 2015. Temporary rule; 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 (EPO) through December 31, 2015 because the 2015 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 (IATTC) in Resolution C-13-01, which governs tuna conservation in the EPO from 2014-2016. The rule is effective 12 a.m. local time August 12, 2015, through 11:59 p.m. local time December 31, 2015. Read the Federal Register notice and supporting documents here. View the compliance guide here.

  • August 5, 2015. Notice; American Samoa Longline Limited Entry Program. NMFS announces that 12 American Samoa pelagic longline limited entry permits in three vessel size classes are available for 2015. NMFS is accepting applications for these available permits. NMFS must receive completed permit applications and payment by December 3, 2015. Read the Federal Register notice here.

  • July 28, 2015. 2015 Bigeye Tuna Longline Fishery Closure. NMFS is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean as a result of the fishery reaching the 2015 catch limit. This action is necessary to prevent additional fishing pressure on this fish stock. The closure is effective August 5, 2015, through December 31, 2015. View the Federal Register notice here. View the compliance guide here.

  • July 23, 2015. Final rule. Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits in Longline Fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean for 2015. View the final rule and supporting documents here. This final rule is effective July 23, 2015. A copy of the compliance guide for this final rule is available here.

  • July 17, 2015. Notice of receipt of petition for rulemaking; request for comments. NOAA Fisheries announces the receipt of, and requests public comment on, a petition for rulemaking from Tri Marine Company, LLC regarding the 2015 fishing effort limit and closure of the purse seine fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS). View the notice of receipt and the supporting documentation here. Comments on this notice should be submitted by August 17, 2015.

  • June 8, 2015. Temporary Rule; Fishery Closure. Closure of Purse Seine Fishery in the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine (ELAPS) for 2015. The closure will be effective at 00:00 on June 15, 2015 UTC, until 24:00 on December 31, 2015 UTC. View the announcement, the underlying rule, and supporting documentation here. A copy of the compliance guide is available 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.
  • December 2, 2014. Final Rule. Restrictions on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries for 2015 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.

  • October 28, 2014. Final rule; Amendment 7 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific. This final rule implements a management framework for specifying catch and effort limits and accountability measures for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Using the established framework, NMFS is also specifying a catch limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each territory for 2014. A territory may allocate up to 1,000 mt of that limit to eligible U.S. longline fishing vessels. This final rule also makes several technical administrative changes to the regulations and announces the effectiveness of collection-of-information requirements. This action is consistent with international objectives of ending overfishing of bigeye tuna, while allowing for the limited transfer of available catch limits between U.S. participating territories and eligible U.S. fisheries, consistent with the conservation requirements of the bigeye tuna stock. This final rule and final specifications are effective October 24, 2014. You may read the Federal Register notice, Amendment 7, the compliance guide, and supporting documents 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.