Sustainable Fisheries Division

U.S. Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Western and Central Pacific Ocean Convention Area

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NOAA Fisheries Service established a limit on the amount of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) that may be caught and retained by U.S. longline vessels in the western and central Pacific Ocean. See the final rule at 74 FR 63999 (December 7, 2009), and the associated compliance guide. The limit applies to the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention), or the "Convention Area". The limit for each of the calendar years 2009, 2010, and 2011 is 3,763 metric tons (mt).

  1. The bigeye tuna are not caught in the portion of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding the Hawaiian Archipelago; and
  2. The bigeye tuna are landed by a fishing vessel operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under 50 CFR 660.707 or 50 CFR 665.801.

Once NOAA Fisheries Service determines in any of the years 2009, 2010, or 2011 that the limit is expected to be reached by a specific future date in that year, NOAA Fisheries Service will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the limit has been reached and that specific prohibitions will be effective on that particular date until the end of the calendar year. NOAA Fisheries Service will publish the Federal Register notice at least seven calendar days before the effective date of the prohibitions to provide fishermen advance notice of the prohibitions. For a description of the prohibitions that take effect when the limit is reached, see the compliance guide.

The regulations establishing the longline bigeye tuna catch proposed limits are needed to satisfy United States obligations as a Contracting Party to the Convention and a Member of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). For details of the WCPFC decision that established the obligation of the United States to implement the bigeye tuna limit, see WCPFC Conservation and Management Measure 2008-01, Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

Background on the Convention and the WCPFC is available from the WCPFC.

Authority: 50 CFR 300.224.

Convention Area

The Convention Area (see map) comprises the majority of the western and central Pacific Ocean. In the North Pacific, the eastern boundary is at 150° W. longitude. For a complete description, see the definition of "Convention Area" at 50 CFR 300.211.