FishNews January 20, 2011

WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

International NOAA Will Work with Six Identified Nations to Address Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing; Six Previously Identified Nations Take Corrective Action
Southeast Scientists Successfully Use Sedation to Help Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale
Southeast NOAA Seeks Comments on Bluefin Tuna Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Fishery
Alaska NOAA Extends Comment Period for Western Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures
Northwest NOAA Seeks Public Comment/Information for Proposals to Designate Critical Habitat for Threatened Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead
Northwest NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Changes to Pacific Halibut Fisheries Catch Sharing Plan
Southwest Scientists Showcase ROV Surveys of Deep-water Corals along the West Coast
Southwest Southbound Gray Whale Population Survey Begins
Caribbean NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Measures to Address Overfishing of Queen Conch in the U.S. Caribbean

EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

NOAA Fisheries to Host National Annual Catch Limit Science Workshop Feb. 15-17

 

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Director, Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor

 

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to Hold Public Hearings/Scoping Meetings to Address Federal Fisheries Issues

 

NOAA Fisheries/Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Seeking Proposals for 2012 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside Program

NOAA Fisheries Actions

Calendar


In Today's Issue

WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

International - NOAA Will Work With Six Identified Nations to Address Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing; Six Previously Identified Nations Take Corrective Action

On January 12, 2011, NOAA submitted a report to Congress identifying six nations – Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela – whose fishing vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2009 and/or 2010. This opens the way for continued consultations between the U.S. government and each of the nations to encourage them to take action to stop IUU fishing by their vessels. If a nation fails to take appropriate action to address the instances of illegal fishing described in the report, that nation’s vessels may be denied entry into U.S. ports and the President may prohibit imports of certain fish products from that nation or take other measures.

In this report, NOAA also announces that the six previously identified nations (China, France, Italy, Libya, Panama, and Tunisia) have addressed the instances of illegal fishing described by the United States in the 2009 report to Congress. These nations applied penalties to the vessels in question or adopted laws to strengthen control of their fishing fleets or both. Each has received a positive certification as a result of their actions. Click here for more information.

 

Southeast - Scientists Successfully Use Sedation to Help Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale

On January 15, scientists from NOAA Fisheries and its state and nonprofit partners successfully used at-sea chemical sedation to help cut the remaining ropes from a young North Atlantic right whale off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The sedative given to the whale allowed the disentanglement team to safely approach the animal and remove 50 feet of rope which was wrapped through its mouth and around its flippers. This is only the second time a free-swimming whale has been successfully sedated to enable disentanglement efforts. The first time a whale was successfully sedated and disentangled was in March 2009 off the coast of Florida. Click here for more information and to view videos of the rescue operation.

 

Southeast – NOAA Seeks Comments on Bluefin Tuna Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Fishery

NOAA Fisheries seeks comments on its proposal to require the use of “weak hooks” in the Gulf of Mexico pelagic longline fishery. A weak hook is a circle hook that meets NOAA Fisheries’ current size and offset restrictions for this fishery, but is constructed of round stock wire that is thinner-gauge than the circle hooks currently used. Weak hooks can allow incidentally hooked bluefin tuna to escape capture because the hooks are more likely to straighten when a large fish is hooked. Requiring weak hooks in the Gulf of Mexico will reduce bycatch of bluefin tuna, allow long-term socio-economic benefits of normal operation of directed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal short-term negative socio-economic impacts, and have both short- and long-term beneficial impacts on the stock status of Atlantic bluefin tuna, an overfished species.

Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2011. NOAA Fisheries will hold three public hearings on this proposed rule on February 7, 2011, in Silver Spring, MD; February 9, 2011, in Panama City, FL; and February 10, 2011, in Kenner, LA to receive comments from fishery participants and other members of the public regarding this proposed rule. An operator-assisted conference call will be held to receive public comments, only on this proposed rulemaking, from Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel members on February 8, 2011. Click here for more information or to submit a comment.

 

Alaska - NOAA Extends Comment Period for Western Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures

NOAA Fisheries is extending the comment period for the interim final rule to reduce commercial fishing for groundfish stocks in the Aleutian Islands. The objective of the rule is to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of or adversely modify critical habitat for the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions. The public comment period has been extended for an additional 45 days, to February 28, 2011. Send comments to Dr. James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-BA31, by any one of the following methods:

     • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
     • Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     • Fax: (907) 586–7557.
     • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

Click here for more information.

 

Northwest - NOAA Seeks Public Comment/Information for Proposals to Designate Critical Habitat for Threatened Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead

NOAA Fisheries will prepare critical habitat designation proposals for lower Columbia River coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Puget Sound steelhead (O. mykiss), both currently listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The areas under consideration include watersheds in the lower Columbia River basin in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, as well as watersheds in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington. Comments and information regarding the designation process and areas being considered for designation as critical habitat may be sent to NOAA Fisheries no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Time on March 11, 2011. Comments may be sent to Chief, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, 525 NE Oregon Street—Suite 500, Portland, OR 97232. Comments may also be sent via fax to 503 230-5441 or submitted online via the Federal Rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

Public meetings have been scheduled to discuss and seek input on the approach to designating critical habitat for these species. Details regarding the meeting format and related information will be posted by January 25, 2011, on the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Office website. Meeting times and locations are as follows:
     • January 26, 2011, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 1000 NE. Multnomah Street, Portland, OR 97232;
     • February 1, 2011, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the NOAA Campus, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Building 9, Seattle, WA 98115. (Please note—all attendees of the      Seattle meeting will need to show photo identification in order to be permitted onto the NOAA campus.)

For more information, see the Federal Register notice or contact Steve Stone, NMFS, Northwest Region, Portland, OR 503-231-2317; or Dwayne Meadows, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD 301-713-1401.

 

Northwest – NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Changes to Pacific Halibut Fisheries Catch Sharing Plan

NOAA Fisheries proposes to approve and implement changes to the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan for the International Pacific Halibut Commission's regulatory Area 2A off Washington, Oregon, and California, not previously implemented by the Commission. Changes include Tribal regulations and the sport fishery allocations and management measures for Area 2A. These actions are intended to enhance the conservation of Pacific halibut, to provide greater angler opportunity where available, and to protect overfished groundfish species from being incidentally caught in the halibut fisheries. Comments on the proposed changes to the Plan and on the proposed domestic Area 2A halibut management measures must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time on February 2, 2011. Click here for more information or to submit a comment.

 

Southwest - Scientists Showcase ROV Surveys of Deep-water Corals along the West Coast

Scientists at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center have launched a new interactive Google Earth page documenting a recent research cruise between San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveys were conducted to investigate deep-water sponges and corals in Sur Canyon, south of Monterey Bay; on The Football, a bank north of San Francisco Bay; on Coquille Bank off the OR coast, and two sites within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). ‘Fly-along’ with the researchers through a series of ‘virtual tours’. For more information and additional Google Earth products visit the Geovisualizations page of the Benthic Resources Group.

 

Southwest - Southbound Gray Whale Population Survey Begins

Scientists at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center are currently conducting an Eastern North Pacific gray whale abundance survey as the whales pass close to the California shoreline on the way to breeding and calving grounds in Baja, Mexico. To learn more about the project, please visit Gray Whale population surveys.

 

Caribbean – NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Measures to Address Overfishing of Queen Conch in the U.S. Caribbean

NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment on a proposed rule that would implement measures to address overfishing of Caribbean queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean. This rule would extend the queen conch seasonal closure from 3 months to 5 months, and prohibit fishing for and possession of queen conch in or from the Caribbean exclusive economic zone (EEZ) east of 64°34' W. longitude, which includes Lang Bank east of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, when harvest and possession of queen conch is prohibited in St. Croix territorial waters as a result of a territorial quota closure. The intended effects of this proposed rule are to prevent additional fishing pressure on queen conch in the U.S. Caribbean, and to improve enforcement of regulations affecting the queen conch resource by improving compatibility among Federal and territorial regulations. Written comments must be received on or before February 22, 2011. Click here for more information or to submit a comment.

 

 


EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

NOAA Fisheries to Host National Annual Catch Limit Science Workshop Feb. 15-17

NOAA Fisheries will host a National Annual Catch Limit (ACL) Science Workshop on February 15-17, 2011, in Silver Spring, MD. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the Regional Fishery Management Councils and will involve NOAA Fisheries staff, Council representatives and nationally recognized fishery science experts.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) was amended in 2007 to include a requirement to implement ACLs and accountability measures in the nation’s fisheries. This mandate and the subsequent update of National Standard 1 Guidelines substantially changed the nature and amount of data needed to manage the nation’s fisheries. The workshop will focus on scoping potential improvements in the state of scientific information needed to support implementation of the MSA, particularly in determining and implementing ACLs. The scope of the science issues associated with ACLs is quite broad, and not all topics can be fully covered. The proposed topics to be addressed include:

     • Identifying data needs and related costs of conducting additional stock assessments.
     • Calculating and communicating uncertainty in stock assessments.
     • Considering socio-economic and ecosystem considerations in the definition of optimum yield.
     • Developing cost-effective approaches to developing ACLs and AMs for data-poor stocks.
     • How to best use cooperative research programs to augment needed data.
     • Coordinating the roles of Science Centers, SSCs, and peer review systems in providing the best scientific information available.
     • Identifying improvements to commercial and recreational fishery monitoring programs to provide scientists and managers with the data they need.

For further information please contact Richard Methot, Office of Science and Technology, NMFS at richard.methot@noaa.gov, or at (206) 860-3365. The meeting location is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mark Nelson at (301) 713 2341 at least five working days prior to the meeting.

 

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Director, Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce seeks a dynamic, innovative leader for the Director, Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor for the National Marine Fisheries Service. This is a Senior Executive Service position located in Silver Spring, Maryland, with a salary range of $119,554 to $179,700, and is limited to U.S. citizens. The incumbent serves as the principal spokesperson on scientific and technology issues and guides and directs the work of the agency’s six regional science centers, the Headquarters Office of Science and Technology and coordinates the ecosystem science, research and technology programs throughout the organization to ensure the compatibility and effectiveness of all NOAA’s marine ecosystem activities. The research conducted is used to support fisheries management; recovery of protected resources; conservation and enhancement of habitat; international fisheries affairs; fishery development, trade and industry assistance activities; and the scientific and technical aspects of NOAA’s marine fisheries resources programs. The vacancy is now open through March 11, 2011, and can be accessed via http://www.usajobs.gov/, Announcement NOAA#11-05/NJH. Please contact Norma Hughes at 301-713-6307 if you have any questions. The U.S. Department of Commerce is an equal-opportunity employer.

 

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Public Hearings/Scoping Meetings to Address Federal Fisheries Issues

The Council will hold a series of public hearings and scoping meetings regarding fisheries management measure proposed for several federally managed species, including those within the snapper grouper management complex, dolphin (fish), wahoo, golden crab and octocorals within the South Atlantic region. These measures will impact both commercial and recreational fishermen who fish in federal waters between 3 and 200 miles offshore ranging from the North Carolina/Virginia state line southward to the east coast of Florida and the Florida Keys.

Public Hearings will be held on three separate amendments:
     • Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment to establish Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures for species not currently listed as undergoing      overfishing as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Annual Catch Limits (pounds or number of fish) will be set for species      in the snapper grouper management complex as well as dolphin, wahoo, and golden crab.
     • Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 9 includes commercial trip limit options for greater amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, and gag grouper.
     • Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 2 includes actions relative to the management of octocorals and non-regulatory actions that update existing      Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) information. Also, modifications to the management of Special Management Zones in South Carolina, sea turtle release gear      requirements for the commercial snapper grouper fishery, designation of new EFH areas and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern are being considered.

Informal Public Scoping comments will be taken on four amendments currently being considered by the Council:
     • A Comprehensive Catch Shares Amendment (Amendment 21) is being considered to look at options for catch share programs for species currently under      management through quotas (except snowy grouper), effort and participation reduction, and endorsement actions.
     • Snapper Grouper Amendment 22 explores options for long-term management of red snapper as the stock begins to rebuild.
     • Amendment 24 addresses the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to end overfishing and rebuild the red grouper stock.
     • Scoping comments will also be taken on Golden Crab Amendment 5 to implement a catch share program for the commercial golden crab fishery.

The hearings/meetings will be open from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Council staff will provide periodic presentations and be on hand to answer questions. Local Council representatives will take formal comments on the public hearing documents any time between those hours. Public testimony will be video-streamed live via a link from the Council’s website as they occur.

The Council is also accepting written and email comments from January 12, 2011 until 5:00 p.m. on February 14, 2011. Copies of the public hearing and scoping documents with details on how to submit written comments will be posted on the Council’s website and available by contacting the Council office at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10.

Click here for more information and the public hearing/scoping meeting schedule and locations.

 

NOAA Fisheries/Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Seeking Proposals for 2012 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside Program

NOAA Fisheries, in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, is soliciting proposals under the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside Program that address research priorities for the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid, Illex squid, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, and bluefish, and tilefish fisheries. Applications must be received by March 7, 2011. Click here for more information.

 

 


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