NACO

National Association of Charterboat Operators

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Action

Notice of availability; request for comments.

Summary

The Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 7 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (Reef Fish FMP), Amendment 6 to the FMP for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Spiny Lobster FMP), Amendment 5 to the FMP for the Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Coral FMP), and Amendment 4 to the FMP for the Queen Conch Resources of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Queen Conch FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. In combination, these amendments represent the Application of Accountability Measures (AM) Amendment (AM Application Amendment). The AM Application Amendment would resolve an existing inconsistency between language in the four Council FMPs and the regulations implementing application of AMs in the U.S. Caribbean exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The purpose of the AM Application Amendment is to ensure the regulations governing AMs in the Caribbean EEZ are consistent with their authorizing FMPs.

Dates

Written comments must be received on or before April 4, 2016.

Click here for the complete notice: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0124-0001

 

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Notice of Public Hearings on Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Amendment 5

On November 26, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in response to several shark stock assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. As described in the proposed rule, NMFS is proposing measures that would reduce fishing mortality and effort in order to rebuild overfished Atlantic shark species while ensuring that a limited sustainable shark fishery can be maintained consistent with our legal obligations. The proposed measures include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of sharks. Comments received by NMFS will be considered in the development and finalization of Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. This notice announces public hearings, conference calls, and an HMS Advisory Panel meeting to discuss the proposed rule.

Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2013. Public hearings, conference calls, and an HMS Advisory Panel meeting for the Amendment 5 proposed rule will be held from December 2012 to February 2013.

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New Information Collection Proposed

This request is for a new information collection to benefit local fishery managers in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Non-commercial fishing is an important activity on St. Croix, USVI yet robust data characterizing the catch, effort and cultural attributes of such fishing are limited. Without these basic data on the non-commercial fishery on St. Croix, it is not possible to develop required fishery management plans. Consequently, local fishery managers have asked for collection of information required to make management decisions, information that will help them to balance the need for more effective fishery management with social, economic and cultural imperatives of the region.

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Caribbean Council Meeting December 19-20

The Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council) and its Administrative Committee will hold meetings.

The meetings will be held on December 19-20, 2012. The Council will convene on Tuesday, December 19, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Administrative Committee will meet from 5:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Council will reconvene on Wednesday, December 20, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Amendment to HMS Plan to Account for Shark Assessments

NMFS is amending the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan based on several shark stock assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. The assessments for Atlantic blacknose, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead sharks indicated that these species are overfished and experiencing overfishing. The assessment for sandbar sharks indicated that this species is overfished, but not experiencing overfishing. The assessment for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, adopted in this rulemaking, indicated that the stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. The assessment for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks was not accepted; therefore, the overfished and overfishing statuses have been determined to be unknown.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act requires the Agency to implement management measures that prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks, as necessary. Based on the new stock assessments, and after considering public comments received during scoping and on a predraft document, we are proposing measures that would reduce fishing mortality and effort in order to rebuild overfished Atlantic shark species while ensuring that a limited sustainable shark fishery can be maintained consistent with our legal obligations. The proposed measures include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of sharks. The proposed measures could affect U.S. commercial or recreational fishermen who harvest sharks within the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2013. NMFS will announce the dates and locations of public hearings in a future Federal Register notice.

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Assessments of the Caribbean Blue Tang and Queen Triggerfish

The SEDAR 30 assessments of the Caribbean blue tang and queen triggerfish will consist of a series of workshops and webinars. This notice is for a webinar associated with the Assessment portion of the SEDAR process. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

The SEDAR 30 Assessment Webinar I will be held November 29, 2012 from 10 a.m. until approximately 12 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The established times may be adjusted as necessary to accommodate the timely completion of discussion relevant to the assessment process. Such adjustments may result in the meeting being extended from, or completed prior to, the time established by this notice.

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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel Member Sought

NMFS solicits nominations for the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Advisory Panel (AP). NMFS consults with and considers the comments and views of the HMS AP when preparing and implementing Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) or FMP amendments for Atlantic tunas, swordfish, sharks, and billfish. Nominations are being sought to fill approximately one-third (10) of the seats on the HMS AP for a 3-year appointment. Individuals with definable interests in the recreational and commercial fishing and related industries, environmental community, academia, and non-governmental organizations are considered for membership in the HMS AP (note that there are no Environmental/NGO terms expiring, so no nominations for that sector will be considered at this time).

DATES: Nominations must be received on or before November 19, 2012.

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NOAA Manual for Coastal Managers Gives Tips on Combating Invasive Lionfish

Scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and its partners teamed up to create the first ever guidelines for coastal managers to control the spread of invasive lionfish that are taking food and habitat from native fish that are important to the local ecology and economy.  Lionfish have no natural predators and are now found in waters from North Carolina south to Florida, the Caribbean, and all Gulf of Mexico states.

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