NACO

National Association of Charterboat Operators

Fishing in the Marianas Trench, Pacific Remote Islands, and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments

NMFS proposes to establish requirements for fishing in the Marianas Trench, Pacific Remote Islands, and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments. The proposed rule is intended to implement fishery management measures consistent with Presidential Proclamations 8335, 8336, and 8337 that established the Monuments.

NMFS must receive comments on the proposed rule by April 8, 2013.

 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this proposed rule, identified by 

 

NOAA-NMFS-2012-0070, by either of the following methods:

     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 

comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 

www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0070, click the 

``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 

attach your comments.

     Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 

Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1601 

Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814-4700.

    Instructions: 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 will generally 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), and will accept attachments to electronic comments in 

Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

    The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared 

Amendment 3 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Mariana Archipelago, 

Amendment 2 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Pacific Remote Island 

Areas, Amendment 3 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for American Samoa, 

and Amendment 6 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of 

the Western Pacific. The amendments are presented as a single document, 

which includes background information on this proposed rule, an 

environmental assessment, and a regulatory impact review. You may 

obtain the draft amendment document from www.regulations.gov or from 

the Council, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-

522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, or from www.wpcouncil.org.

    You may submit written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates 

or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements 

contained in this proposed rule to Michael D. Tosatto (see ADDRESSES) 

and by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIR Sustainable 

Fisheries, tel  808-944-2108.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Council and NMFS manage fisheries 

through fishery ecosystem plans for American Samoa, the Mariana 

Archipelago (Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 

(CNMI)), the Pacific Remote Islands (PRI), Hawaii, and western Pacific 

pelagic fisheries. Fishing regulations for the western Pacific are 

found mostly in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 665 

(50 CFR 665).

    In 2009, President Bush issued Presidential Proclamations that 

established three marine national monuments in the central and western 

Pacific under the authority of the Antiquities Act, as follows:

     Proclamation 8335 of January 6, 2009, ``Establishment of 

the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument'' (74 FR 1557, January 12, 

2009).

     Proclamation 8336 of January 6, 2009, ``Establishment of 

the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument'' (74 FR 1565, 

January 12, 2009).

     Proclamation 8337 of January 6, 2009, ``Establishment of 

the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument'' (74 FR 1577, January 12, 

2009).

    The proclamations recognize that it is in the public interest to 

preserve these submerged lands, waters, and marine resources, which are 

biologically diverse, contain sites of historical and scientific 

interest, and are essential to the long-term study of tropical marine 

ecosystems. For more detailed information regarding the marine 

resources and background for the management of the Monuments, please 

refer to the Proclamations, available at www.regulations.gov.

    Among other things, the Proclamations define the Monuments' 

boundaries, prohibit commercial fishing, and describe the management of 

Monument resources. The Proclamations direct the Secretary of Commerce 

to take action under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 

Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) to regulate fisheries and ensure 

proper care and management of the monument, including allowing for 

traditional indigenous fishing practices. The Council recommended 

incorporating the Proclamations' fishery management provisions into its 

fishery ecosystem plans, and recommended that NMFS establish certain 

provisions relating to traditional indigenous fishing practices. This 

proposed rule would implement the Council's recommendations.

    The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (Fig. 1) includes the 

waters and submerged lands of the three northernmost islands of the 

CNMI (Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas), Maug, and Asuncion, collectively 

the ``Islands Unit''), the submerged lands of designated volcanic sites 

(``Volcanic Unit''), and the Marianas Trench (``Trench Unit''). The 

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Figs. 2 through 6) 

includes the waters and submerged and emergent lands of Wake Island, 

Baker Island, Howland Island, and Jarvis Islands, Johnston Atoll, 

Kingman Reef, and Palmyra Atoll (``Pacific Remote Islands''), seaward 

to a distance approximately 50 nautical miles (nm). The Rose Atoll 

Marine National Monument in American Samoa (Fig. 7) includes the 

emergent and submerged lands and waters of Rose Atoll, seaward to a 

distance approximately 50 nm.

    Consistent with the Proclamations, and based on recommendation from 

the Council, this proposed rule would create new subparts in 50 CFR 

Part 665, one for each of the three Monuments. Briefly, the proposed 

rule would implement new requirements as follows:

 

 Codify the boundaries of the Monuments and their various 

management units.

 Prohibit commercial fishing in the Pacific Remote Islands and 

Rose Atoll Monuments, and in the Islands Unit of the Marianas Trench 

Monument.

 Establish management measures for non-commercial and 

recreational fishing in the Monuments, including but not limited to the 

following:

    [cir] Require Federal permits and reporting for non-commercial and 

recreational charter fishing to aid in the monitoring of fishing 

activities.

    [cir] Allow customary exchange in non-commercial fisheries in the

 Marianas Trench and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments to help 

preserve traditional, indigenous, and cultural fishing practices.

    [cir] Define customary exchange as the non-market exchange of 

marine resources between fishermen and community residents for goods, 

and/or services for cultural, social, or religious reasons, and which 

may include cost recovery through monetary reimbursements and other 

means for actual trip expenses (ice, bait, food, or fuel) that may be 

necessary to participate in fisheries in the western Pacific.

    [cir] Limit permit eligibility for non-commercial fishing to 

community residents, as identified in the fishery ecosystem plans--

specifically, American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI are fishing 

communities--and limit permit eligibility for recreational charters to 

businesses of local fishing communities for the Rose Atoll Monument and 

Marianas Monument Islands Unit.

    [cir] Prohibit all fishing within 12 nm of the Pacific Remote 

Islands, subject to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authority to allow 

non-commercial fishing in consultation with NMFS and the Council.

    [cir] Prohibit all fishing within 12 nm around Rose Atoll. The 

Council and NMFS would review this regulation after three years.

     Prohibit the conduct of commercial fishing outside the 

Monument and non-commercial fishing within the Monument during the same 

trip.

 

    NMFS would make administrative housekeeping changes to the Federal 

permit and reporting requirements at 50 CFR 665.13 and 665.14, and the 

vessel identification requirements at 50 CFR 665.16 to incorporate the 

new permits that this proposed rule would establish.

    NMFS would also make administrative housekeeping changes to the 

requirements for low-use marine protected areas in the Pacific Remote 

Islands. NMFS currently allows limited fishing within certain areas of 

the Pacific Remote Islands (at Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll, and Wake 

Island). Because this proposed rule would prohibit fishing within 12 nm 

of the islands, it supersedes the provisions allowing fishing in the 

low-use marine protected areas. To eliminate the potential conflicting 

requirements, NMFS would remove the provisions allowing limited take in 

the monument areas; specifically, the definition of the low-use area at 

50 CFR 665.599, applicable permit provisions at 50 CFR 665.624, and the 

related prohibition at 50 CFR 665.625.

    NMFS must receive any public comments on this proposed rule by the 

close of business on April 8, 2013, and will not consider late 

comments. In addition to soliciting public comments on this proposed 

rule, NMFS is soliciting comments through April 2, 2013, on proposed 

amendments to the Fishery Ecosystem Plans for the Marianas Archipelago, 

the Pacific Remote Island Areas, American Samoa, and Western Pacific 

Pelagics Fisheries, as stated in the Notice of Availability published 

on February 2, 2013 (78 FR 7385). The Secretary of Commerce will 

consider public comments on this proposed rule in the decision to 

approve, disapprove, or partially approve the FEP amendments, if NMFS 

receives such comments by April 2, 2013.

 

 

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