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NOAA Fisheries Announces a Proposed Rule Addressing the Transshipment of Atlantic HMS, Inspection of Vessels Landing HMS in Foreign Ports, and Unique Vessel Identifiers

Posted: September 11, 2014

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has published a proposed rule to implement two recent recommendations of the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  To further combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing activities, and to strengthen its monitoring, control, and surveillance regime, ICCAT adopted new recommendations that pertain to the transshipment of Atlantic HMS (Recommendation 12-06); international port inspection for vessels landing Atlantic HMS (Recommendation 12-07); and, unique vessel identifiers (Recommendation 13-13). 

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

NMFS also proposes to revise its 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 proposed action 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 of any port inspection conducted by an authorized official of a Port State when landing HMS in a foreign port.  These proposed regulations are necessary to ensure that U.S.-permitted vessels have the most current information when landing HMS 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 needed, vessel owners of commercial HMS-permitted vessels (20 meters or greater in length) will need to obtain an IMO/LR number and to include that number on their permit application by no later than January 2016.  For more information about obtaining an IMO/LR number, please visit IMO Number Requests - Welcome.  

The comment period for this proposed rule is open until October 14, 2014.   NMFS will conduct a conference call/webinar from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.on September 19, 2014, to obtain public comment.  To participate in the conference call, call 888- 282-0568; Passcode: 3095296.  To participate in the webinar, go to: https://noaa-meets.webex.com/noaa-meets/j.php?MTID=m49d28c3aebcdf2f294fb4ddb86f27506.  
Meeting number: 998 128 071
Meeting password: NOAA

Written comments, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2014-0063”, may be submitted electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov, or sent by mail to the contact information included below.   All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change.  All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible.  Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.  NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous).  You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

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 proposed rule, contact Rick Pearson at 727-824-5399.  Copies of the proposed rule are available upon request from the HMS Management Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 20910. The information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/