FishNews October 8, 2010

WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

National Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
National NOAA Announces $1 Million for Five Tribes to Help Recover Threatened and Endangered Species
National NOAA Announces $12.6 Million in Grants to States to Support Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery
National NOAA Announces Fisheries Law Enforcement Complaint e-Hotline
National NOAA Seeks Comments on Proposed Research Area in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
National Secretary Locke to Appoint Special Master to Review NOAA Law Enforcement Cases, Restricts Use of the Asset Forfeiture Fund
International NOAA Issues Final Rule That Restricts Activities of and with IUU Vessels
Northwest/Southwest NOAA Seeks Comment on Amendments 16-5 and 23 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan
Southwest NOAA Requests Comment on Proposed Critical Habitat for Black Abalone
Northeast NOAA Fisheries Service Director Eric Schwaab Plans Review of Federal Fishery Management in the Northeast
Northeast NOAA to Revise Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whales
Northeast/Southeast NOAA Proposes Five Atlantic Sturgeon Populations for Listing as Endangered or Threatened
Southeast NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region

EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

NOAA Aquaculture Program Seeks Northwest Regional Coordinator

 

U.S. ICCAT Advisory Committee to Meet; October 18 in Silver Spring, MD

 

NOAA Fisheries Service Species Information System Public Portal Now Available

 

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces Fisheries Innovation Fund

 

Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee Meeting

NOAA Fisheries Actions

Calendar


In Today's Issue

WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

National - Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response

NOAA recently reopened several areas in the Gulf of Mexico to commercial and recreational fishing. This reopening was announced after consultation with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states. NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly reopened areas. The agency will also continue dockside sampling to test fish caught throughout the Gulf by commercial fishermen. The remaining closed area now covers 23,360 square miles, or about 10 percent of the federal waters in the Gulf. To date, NOAA has reopened more than 60,000 square miles of oil-impacted federal waters under this protocol and sampling regime. For more information, please see the NOAA news releases (10/5/10, 10/1/10).

NOAA will continue to evaluate the need for fisheries closures and will re-open closed areas as appropriate. For details on NOAA's strategy for future reopenings, please see the NOAA news release.

On September 29, 2010, NOAA joined with state and federal partners to announce our intent to conduct restoration planning under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. This legal process will help determine how the oil spill has impacted the Gulf's natural resources and the public's use of them. It also ensures that those responsible for the spill pay for restoration. For more information, please see the NOAA news release.

 

National - NOAA Announces $1 Million for Five Tribes to Help Recover Threatened and Endangered Species

NOAA Fisheries Service recently announced nearly $1 million in grants to assist 5 tribal governments to recover Atlantic salmon, Pacific smelt, Steller sea lions, humpback whales, and Southern Resident killer whales listed under the Endangered Species Act and to monitor the delisted eastern Pacific Gray whale. For more information, please see the news release.

 

National - NOAA Announces $12.6 Million in Grants to States to Support Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery

NOAA Fisheries Service has announced $12.6 million in grants through the Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grant Program to assist 19 states and territories with conservation projects designed to recover marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, coral and other species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Sixteen proposals were chosen from a pool of 35 applications, the highest number of applications received in a year since the Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Grant Program began in 2003. Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, this competitive grant program supports management, research and outreach efforts designed to bring listed species to the point where ESA protections are no longer necessary. The program also supports monitoring efforts for species proposed for listing, recently de-listed species and candidate species. As a result of a significant funding increase to the grant program in 2010, the number of states and U.S. territories entering into cooperative agreements with NOAA's Fisheries Service has almost doubled, making more state and regional conservation programs eligible to receive these grants. For more information, please see the NOAA news release.

 

National - NOAA Announces Fisheries Law Enforcement Complaint e-Hotline

NOAA is committed to improving its communications with its constituents and stakeholders. Issues surrounding law enforcement are sensitive, and fishermen may be afraid to come forward to report problems. NOAA already has a web site for the public to provide information involving current investigations or to report possible violations of law (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/cc.html), and an Enforcement Hotline that is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (1-800-853-1964).

In order to provide further protection to anyone who has information regarding enforcement improprieties by NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement or enforcement attorneys, NOAA will establish another hotline - this one specifically to report unfair or overzealous enforcement actions or other breaches of conduct by NOAA enforcement agents or attorneys. This Enforcement Complaint e-Hotline will be a link on the NOAA homepage that will allow stakeholders to report any issues to NOAA management through a specific email address (OLE.ComplaintHotline@noaa.gov) that will go directly to NOAA Headquarters. Any complaints received will be reviewed at Headquarters and, as necessary, investigated further. For more information, please see the NOAA news release.

 

National - NOAA Seeks Comments on Proposed Research Area in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA's Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary proposes the creation of a research area to better evaluate effects of human activities, including fishing, on sanctuary resources. Under the proposed rule, fishing and diving would be prohibited in the research area. Transit across the area would be permitted provided that vessels do not stop. NOAA is seeking comments on the draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule. Comments will be accepted until Dec. 13. The public can also attend the following meetings to provide input:

* Oct. 19, 6-8 p.m., Richmond Hill City Center, 529 Cedar Street, Richmond Hill, GA

* Oct. 20, 6-8 p.m., Bulloch County Courthouse, 30 N. Main Street, Statesboro, GA

* Oct. 21, 6-8 p.m., College of Coastal Georgia, Southeast Georgia Conference Center, 3700 AltamaAvenue, Brunswick, GA.

For more information or to submit a comment, please see the NOAA news release.

 

National - Secretary Locke to Appoint Special Master to Review NOAA Law Enforcement Cases, Restricts Use of the Asset Forfeiture Fund

U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke announced today sweeping reforms to increase accountability and transparency and strengthen the public's trust in NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation. Locke, invoking his authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, announced he will appoint the Honorable Charles B. Swartwood, III (Ret.) to serve as Special Master to review enforcement cases the Commerce Department's Inspector General identified in its most recent report as problematic, some dating as far back as 2001. Locke will also ask the Special Master to review the complaints that the IG received that were not discussed in the September Report to see if review of those complaints is also warranted. Judge Swartwood will make recommendations to Locke on whether to take action to modify or remit the penalties. For more information, please see the Department of Commerce news release.

 

International - NOAA Issues Final Rule That Restricts Activities of and with IUU Vessels

NOAA published a final rule that allows the assistant administrator of NOAA's Fisheries Service to deny a vessel entry into a U.S. port or access to port services if that vessel has been listed for engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by a regional fishery management organization (RFMO).

The rule also prohibits persons and businesses from providing certain services to, and engaging in commercial transactions with, foreign, listed IUU vessels. Those services include: transshipment; processing fish harvested or landed by a listed IUU vessel or processing fish using a listed IUU vessel; joint fishing operations; providing supplies, fuel, crew, or otherwise supporting a listed IUU vessel; and entering into a chartering arrangement with a listed IUU vessel.

In recent years, several RFMOs have adopted binding measures that establish both procedures for identifying vessels that engaged in IUU fishing activities and actions to be taken against such vessels. Such measures can act as a strong deterrent to engage in IUU fishing by reducing the profitability of such activities. Nations that are members of these RFMOs are required to take actions against the listed IUU vessels, such as denying port entry.

The full text of the final rule can be found in the Federal Register. The rule goes into effect on October 27, 2010.

 

Northwest/Southwest - NOAA Seeks Comment on Amendments 16-5 and 23 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendments 16-5 and 23 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Secretarial review. Amendment 16-5 would modify the FMP to implement an overfished species rebuilding plan for petrale sole and revise existing overfished species rebuilding plans. In addition, Amendment 16-5 would modify the default proxy values for FMSY and BMSY as they apply to the flatfish species, including petrale sole; and the harvest control rule policies. Amendment 23 introduces a new framework for fishery specifications and other measures for establishing Annual Catch Limits as required by the recent amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Comments are due November 30, 2010. For more information or to submit a comment, please see the Federal Register notice.

 

Southwest - NOAA Requests Comment on Proposed Critical Habitat for Black Abalone

NOAA's Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that identifies black abalone critical habitat along the California coast. In February 2009, black abalone was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and the Act requires critical habitat be designated whenever a species is listed for protection. Once areas are designated as critical habitat, new federal projects or permits and new projects with federal funding are directed to minimize harm to that habitat. Designating critical habitat does not affect citizens engaged in activities on private land that do not involve a federal agency. Comments on the proposal for critical habitat designation must be received by no later than 5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 29, 2010. For more information or to submit a comment, please see the NMFS news release.

 

Northeast - NOAA Fisheries Service Director Eric Schwaab Plans Review of Federal Fishery Management in the Northeast

NOAA Fisheries Service's Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab recently announced plans by the agency to conduct a regional assessment and management review of the fishery management process in New England. The focus will be on the relationships among the New England Fishery Management Council, the Northeast Regional Office, and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and factors affecting the effectiveness of those three entities in carrying out their responsibilities under fisheries law. It is expected that lessons learned will be more broadly applied to other regions. For more information, please see the Northeast Regional Office news release.

 

Northeast - NOAA to Revise Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whales

NOAA Fisheries Service recently announced that it is reviewing and revising critical habitat designations for the North Atlantic right whale and expects to propose changes in the latter half of 2011. For more information, please see the news release.

 

Northeast/Southeast - NOAA Proposes Five Atlantic Sturgeon Populations for Listing as Endangered or Threatened

NOAA Fisheries Service has proposed that five populations of Atlantic sturgeon along the U.S. East Coast receive protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Gulf of Maine population is proposed for listing as threatened, and endangered status is proposed for the Chesapeake Bay, New York Bight, Carolina, and South Atlantic populations. NOAA Fisheries Service is accepting comments on the proposed listing through January 4, 2011. The agency is seeking comment particularly on abundance and distribution, viability, threats, and efforts being made to protect Atlantic sturgeon belonging to these populations. You may submit comments by any one of the methods listed here. The agency also plans to hold public hearings.

 

Southeast - NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region

NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, which establishes annual catch limits and accountability measures for nine snapper grouper species. Actions proposed in Amendment 17B include:

  • Prohibiting the harvest and possession of speckled hind and warsaw grouper;
  • Prohibiting fishing for, possession, and retention of deepwater species (snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper, and silk snapper) seaward of 240 feet (depth) in South Atlantic federal waters;
  • Reducing the recreational bag limit of snowy grouper to one fish per vessel per trip. Establishing a commercial annual catch limit (quota) of 82,900 pounds gutted weight and a recreational annual catch limit of 523 fish;
  • Setting an allocation for golden tilefish at 97% commercial and 3% recreational based on historic landings. Setting a commercial annual catch limit of 282,819 pounds and a recreational annual catch limit of 1,578 fish;
  • Establishing annual catch limits for gag, black grouper, and red grouper.

The comment period ends November 22, 2010. For more information and details on how to submit comments, please see the NOAA Fisheries' Southeast Fishery Bulletin.

 

 


EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

NOAA Aquaculture Program Seeks Northwest Regional Coordinator

The NOAA Aquaculture Program is seeking a candidate to serve as the new Northwest Regional Coordinator. The position will be located in NOAA's Northwest Regional Office in Seattle, WA. The Coordinator's duties include providing expertise on assessment, management, and development of marine aquaculture; working with state, federal and industry representatives; and developing outreach and education materials related to marine aquaculture policy and management/science activities. The deadline for applications is October 26, 2010 . For additional details and applications instruction, click here or visit the USAJobs website and search on "Fishery Management Specialist" or "Fishery Biologist." For more information on the NOAA Aquaculture Program, go to: http://aquaculture.noaa.gov/.

 

U.S. ICCAT Advisory Committee to Meet; October 18 in Silver Spring, MD

In preparation for the 2010 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting, the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section to ICCAT will meet in a session that is open to the public on October 18, 2010, from 9am to 3pm. There will be an opportunity for public comment beginning around 2pm. The meeting will be held at the Hilton Hotel, 8727 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For more information, contact Rachel.O'Malley@noaa.gov.

 

NOAA Fisheries Service Species Information System Public Portal Now Available

The Species Information System (SIS) collects and manages regional and national information across NOAA Fisheries program offices in support of fisheries conservation and management efforts. The SIS Public Portal provides up-to-date information on the status of managed stocks and stock assessment results, all in one convenient location. To visit the SIS Public Portal, go to: https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/sisPortal/sisPortalMain.jsp This link is an external site..

 

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces Fisheries Innovation Fund

The Congressionally-chartered National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced a new grants program - the Fisheries Innovation Fund This link is an external site. - along with a Request for Proposals This link is an external site. to award $2.2 million to up to 30 projects around the country in the first year of the program. NOAA has partnered with NFWF and two private foundations to create this public-private partnership which is intended to foster innovation in U.S. fisheries and support effective stakeholder participation in the design and implementation of catch share fisheries This link is an external site.. The fund will support local fishermen and fishing communities that want to consider catch share programs to help rebuild and sustain fisheries and maintain vibrant and stable working waterfronts. All applicants are required to submit a pre-proposal for review by November 30, 2010. A pdf of the RFP This link is an external site. and press release This link is an external site. are linked here for your convenience. The proposal process is very specific in its requirements and instruction. Inquiries should be directed to Anthony Chatwin (Anthony.Chatwin@nfwf.org or 202-857-0166), Director of Marine and Coastal Conservation at NFWF.

 

Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee Meeting

The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) will hold their second meeting for 2010. Agenda topics are provided under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice. All full Committee sessions will be open to the public.

 

 


FEDERAL REGISTER ACTIONS


For a list of only those actions open for public comment, try going to http://www.regulations.gov and scroll search for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For a list of all daily actions, check the Federal register online at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.


NOAA FISHERIES ACTIONS