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NOAA Fisheries Announces a Proposed Rule to Implement the ICCAT Electronic Bluefin Tuna Catch Documentation System

Posted: October 8, 2015

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes to implement recommendations by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to transition the current paper-based bluefin tuna catch documentation program (BCD program) to an electronic bluefin tuna catch documentation system (eBCD system).

In response to the need to detect fraud and deter illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) shipments, as well as to improve tracking of bluefin tuna catch and commerce, ICCAT has adopted recommendations establishing an eBCD system.  In 2010, ICCAT adopted Recommendation 10-11 to develop an eBCD system, which would build on and ultimately replace the paper-based BCD program.  ICCAT Recommendation 13-17 established a timeline for implementation of the eBCD system.  NMFS anticipates that the system will be fully developed by 2016, with implementation required as early as March 1, 2016.  NMFS anticipates more precise dates and timing requirements to be established by ICCAT at its annual meeting in November 2015.  The eBCD system is anticipated to collect the same information that is currently collected under the paper-based BCD program.  Consistent with these recommendations, NMFS is proposing to revise current regulations to transition to the eBCD system.  NMFS will provide detailed information to Highly Migratory Species (HMS) international trade permit (ITP) holders on use of the eBCD system via the HMS website and webinar. 

Public Comment Requested

You may submit comments (identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2015-0116”) through November 9, 2015, by using any one of the following methods:

Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

Public Hearing/Webinar

NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on October 13, 2015, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, to allow for an additional opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed rule. The public hearing conference call information is phone number (800) 593-7191; participant passcode 9589317. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: https://noaaevents3.webex.com/noaaevents3/onstage/g.php?d=999829506&t=a; meeting number: 999 829 506; password: NOAA. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to view the webinar.

This notice is a courtesy to fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register. For further information, contact Carrie Soltanoff at (301) 427-8503.  This information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms.

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