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NMFS Announces a Final Rule to Implement the ICCAT Electronic Bluefin Tuna Catch Documentation System

March 31, 2016

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is implementing recommendations by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to transition the 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, which was updated by Recommendation 15-10 at the November 2015 ICCAT annual meeting.  Recommendation 15-10 requires implementation of the eBCD system by May 1, 2016, unless determined otherwise by ICCAT.  In the future, if ICCAT informs ICCAT parties of a need to temporarily use paper BCDs instead of the eBCD system, NMFS will notify the public of the change.  The eBCD system collects largely the same information that was collected under the paper-based BCD program.  Consistent with these recommendations, NMFS is revising trade documentation regulations to transition to the eBCD system.  Highly Migratory Species (HMS) international trade permit (ITP) holders who import, export, or re-export Atlantic bluefin tuna will be required to complete all relevant trade documentation in the eBCD system effective May 1, 2016.    

HMS ITP holders are invited to set up a user profile in the eBCD system prior to May 1.  To set up a user profile or for questions on use of the eBCD system, please contact Customer Service at (301) 427-8589 or

NMFS also notes, for informational purposes only, that on December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a proposed rule (80 FR 81251) that would transition the agency’s trade monitoring programs to a fully electronic process in 2016, in coordination with Customs and Border Protection, through the creation and implementation of a single electronic system, the International Trade Data System (ITDS), to process transactions for the import and export of products regulated by any U.S. Federal Agency.  This proposed rule would consolidate existing international trade permits for regulated seafood products under several programs, including the HMS ITP, under the International Fisheries Trade Permit (IFTP).

Public Webinars

NMFS will hold three public conference call/webinars to provide further information on requirements of the final rule and use of the eBCD system on April 21, April 22, and May 3, 2016.  Details for accessing the conference call/webinars are provided in the table below.

Date and Time Access Information

April 21, 2016

2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

To participate in conference call, call: (888) 989-4714

Passcode: 2848482


To participate in webinar, go to:

Meeting Number: 994 455 972
Meeting Password: tijeshGb

April 22, 2016

2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

To participate in conference call, call: (800) 779-5244

Passcode: 9942853


To participate in webinar, go to:

Meeting Number: 996 520 461
Meeting Password: HVGU39hq

May 3, 2016

2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

To participate in conference call, call: (888) 323-9870

Passcode: 8184849


To participate in webinar, go to:

Meeting Number: 998 820 477
Meeting Password: JwdMqJyU


Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting.  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.  The final rule and supporting documents may be found on the HMS website at: