Highly migratory species blog

NOAA Fisheries NWR and SWR formally merged

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Today October 1, 2013, NOAA Fisheries Northwest and Southwest regions are formally merged into a single region: the West Coast Region. The integrated region has a new configuration.

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Council discusses priorities for MSA Reauthorization

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

After much discussion at the September Council meeting, the Council identified 17 priority matters for potential legislative change in the reauthorization of the current Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). The Council took input from several advisory bodies and the public, considered the 128 findings developed at the Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 Conference in May, and considered areas of possible legislative concern not discussed at the national conference.

These priorities will be passed along to the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) meeting in October, for consideration by the other seven Regional Fishery Management Councils in their development of national priorities. The fact that the Pacific Council selected these priorities does not preclude discussion (or later prioritization) of the many conference findings or other ideas that are not included in this list. However, the Council felt that 17 possible legislative items should be elevated to a level of priority concern to the Pacific Council at this time and assigned to the Council staff for further analysis.

In discussing these priorities with the CCC, the Council will emphasize that in general, the Council views the current Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) favorably and that large-scale changes are not necessary; that proposed changes to the MSA should focus on items that require an MSA change to effectively resolve; that final Council prioritization will depend on the details that develop from further analysis of each finding; and that findings that are not currently listed below are not to be considered permanently “off the table.”  The items below are listed only for the purpose of identifying high priority items for the Pacific Council at this time. [O1]

The list below is not in priority order.

  • Revise rebuilding time requirements:  Fix the ten-year rebuilding requirement dilemma; “Don’t chase noise” in rebuilding plans; Address “rebuilding as soon as possible” problems.
  • Stocks later determined never overfished should not be held to rebuilding provisions
  • Include a viable mixed stock exception
  • Clarify criteria regarding needs of fishing communities
  • Include a carryover exception to allow annual catch limits (ACLs) to be exceeded in order to carry over surplus and deficit harvest from one year to the next, provided there is a finding from the SSC that such a carryover provision will have negligible biological impacts
  • Explore more flexibility for data-poor species where the precautionary approach
    limits information on stock performance under higher catch rates
  • Implement stricter imported seafood labeling requirements in the US market
  • Address rebuilding requirements when environmental conditions may be a predominant factor in a stock’s decline
  • Consider a national standard for habitat: “Minimize adverse impacts on essential fish habitat to the extent practicable”
  • Explore options to improve access to currently confidential harvest or processing information for purposes of enhanced socioeconomic analysis
  • Make a distinction between “overfishing” (a measure of fishing rate) and “overfished” (a measure of abundance)
  • Replace the term “overfished” with “depleted” to account for non-fishing causes of stock size below minimum stock size threshold
  • Amend MSA to change “vessels” to “vessel” in the illegal, unreported and unregulated certification section
  • Designate one Commissioner seat on Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission for the Pacific Council
  • Address social and economic issues such as ‘possible’ to ‘practicable’ in MSA section 304(e)(4)(A)(i).
  • Better align and streamline the National Environmental Policy Act & MSA section 304(i)
  • Provide flexibility in requirements and qualifications for observers. This relates to MSA Title 4, Fishery Monitoring and Research.

The Council also considered a proposal from the Makah Tribe regarding term limits and the application process for the tribal seat on the Pacific Council, but decided to notice further comment from tribal governments and the public before making a decision on it as a general priority matter for further analysis.  Further input is scheduled for the November, 2013 Council meeting in Costa Mesa California.

For more information on the findings and priorities, see the Legislative Committee report and/or contact Jennifer.Gilden@noaa.gov.

[O1]These are not just for the CCC meeting.  They are for anyone who asks, like the House or the Senate. They are for the Pacific Council staff, to look into in greater detail.

Emergency Rule and Notice; California DGN Fishery: Sperm Whale Interaction Restriction

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

As published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2013 – The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is issuing temporary regulations under the authority of Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to implement an immediate closure of the California thresher shark/swordfish drift gillnet (mesh size ≥14 inches) fishery if one sperm whale is observed killed or seriously injured in DGN gear off California, and require all DGN fishing vessels to carry a NMFS-trained observer from August 15, 2013 to January 31, 2014 in a 100% observer coverage area. Please view the Federal Register notice for details.

NMFS also sent out a notice to all California DGN permit holders notifying them of the emergency measures. You may download the “Notice for Vessel Owners/Operators of California Thresher Shark/Swordfish Drift Gillnet (≥14 mesh) Fishing Vessels” dated September 4, 2013.

If you have further questions, please contact Mr. Craig Heberer, NMFS, telephone: 706–431–9440 (ext. 303), fax: 562–980–4047, email: Craig.Heberer@noaa.gov.

Research and Data Needs Document available

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The Council has completed its 2013 Research and Data Needs document which has been revised in response to comments since September 2012. Please see the Council’s Research and Data Needs webpage to download the document.

Final rule amending the guidelines for National Standard 2 of the MSA published July 19, 2013

Friday, July 19th, 2013

The final rule amending § 600.315 National Standard 2—Scientific Information of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) has been published in the Federal Register on Friday, July 19, 2013.

Copies of supporting documents prepared for this final rule, such as the proposed rule and public comments that were received, can be found at the Federal e-Rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov by searching for RIN 0648-AW62.

For further information, please contact William Michaels by phone 301-427-8155, by FAX at 301-713-1875, or by email: William.Michaels@noaa.gov.

NMFS is seeking comment on proposed rule to designate loggerhead critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

As published in the Federal Register on Thursday, July 18, 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is proposing critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) within the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. No marine areas were proposed for designation within the North Pacific Ocean DPS because no marine areas that meet the definition of critical habitat were identified with the jurisdiction of the United States for the North Pacific Ocean DPS. NMFS is soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts. On August 1, 2013, a correction to that Proposed Rule was published (adding the map LOGG-N-17); see 78 FR 46563. The deadline for comments is September 16, 2013.

For further information, please contact: Susan Pultz, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources 301-427-8472 or susan.pultz@noaa.gov; or Angela Somma, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources 301-427-8474 or angela.somma@noaa.gov. Complete details are available by viewing the Federal Register published Thursday, July 18, 2013. The final rule on the nine loggerhead DPS’s was published September 2, 2011 (76 FR 58867, pages 58867 -58952).

Request for nominations to an at-large position on the Scientific and Statistical Committee

Monday, July 15th, 2013

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is seeking qualified candidates to consider for an at-large position on its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The successful candidate will serve out the remainder of the 2013-2015 Council advisory body term. To ensure consideration, nominations should be received at the Council office no later than Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

Please visit the Council’s “Current Advisory Body Vacancies” webpage to get the full vacancy announcement and instructions on how to submit nominations.

NMFS announces its 12-month finding on two petitions to list the northeastern Pacific (NEP) population of white sharks

Monday, July 8th, 2013

NMFS announces its 12-month finding on two petitions to list the northeastern Pacific (NEP) population of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  NMFS completed a status review of the NEP white shark population in response to these petitions using the best available scientific and commercial data. Based on this review, NMFS determined that the NEP white shark population qualifies as a distinct population segment (DPS) under the ESA and does not warrant listing under the ESA.

Read the Federal Register notice (July 3, 2013).

June 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document Available Online

Friday, June 28th, 2013

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met June 20-25, 2013 in Garden Grove, California. The June 2013 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document summarizes the decisions made during that meeting.

June 2013 Briefing Book Available Online

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

The Briefing Book for the June 2013 Council meeting has been posted to the Council’s website on the “Briefing Book” webpage. The Briefing Book contains “situation summaries” (brief summaries that provide background for each agenda item), reports and materials for each agenda item, and written public comment.