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NOAA Fisheries Announces a Final Rule Addressing the Transshipment of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS), Inspection of Vessels Landing HMS in Foreign Ports, and Unique Vessel Identifiers for Commercially Permitted Vessels ≥ 20 Meters

Posted: December 5, 2014

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will publish a final rule on December 8, 2014, to implement two recommendations of the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  The final rule is effective on January 7, 2015. 

To further combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing activities, and to strengthen its monitoring, control, and surveillance regime, ICCAT adopted recommendations that pertain to the transshipment of Atlantic HMS (Recommendation 12-06); international port inspection for vessels landing Atlantic HMS  in foreign ports or making port calls in foreign ports (Recommendation 12-07); and, unique vessel identifiers (Recommendation 13-13). 

NMFS is implementing regulations to prohibit the transfer of any tuna, tuna-like species, or other HMS between HMS-permitted vessels (or vessels required to have an Atlantic HMS permit) both in port and at sea, and also to prohibit the transfer of these species outside the ICCAT Convention Area, regardless of where the fish were harvested.  The sole exception is that Atlantic tuna Purse Seine category vessels would continue to be allowed to transfer Atlantic bluefin tuna from the catcher vessel to the receiving vessel.

NMFS is also implementing regulations for U.S.-permitted vessels landing tuna, tuna-like species, or other HMS in foreign ports or making port calls in foreign ports.  The final rule describes additional information about notification requirements prior to arrival in a foreign port, additional items that may be inspected by an authorized official of a Port State, and procedures for reporting the results by a Port State of any inspection conducted by an authorized official of the Port State.  These regulations will ensure that U.S.-permitted vessels have the most current information when landing HMS in foreign ports or making port calls in foreign ports.    

ICCAT Recommendation 13-13 requires vessels 20 meters or greater to obtain an International Maritime Organization (IMO)/Lloyd’s Registry (LR) number by no later than January 1, 2016.  While no regulatory changes for Recommendation 13-13 are being implemented, vessel owners of commercial HMS-permitted vessels (20 meters or greater in length) will need to obtain an IMO/LR number and include that number on their permit application by no later than January 1, 2016.  For more information about obtaining an IMO/LR number, please visit:  

This notice is a courtesy to Atlantic HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of Federal actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of Federal Register.  For further information on this final rule, contact Rick Pearson at 727-824-5399.  Copies of the final rule are available upon request from the HMS Management Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 20910. The Federal Register notice for this Final Rule can be found here.


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