NMFS National Appeals Office Rules of Procedure

This proposed rule would establish procedures governing the National Appeals Office (NAO), a division of NMFS' Office of Management and Budget within NOAA. NAO's central mission is to provide an efficient means of adjudicating appeals by providing due process and consistency to NMFS' administrative decisions. This proposed rule would establish a process by which NMFS could review, and if necessary correct, decisions about certain limited access privilege programs under Section 303A of the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The proposed procedures could also be used to adjudicate appeals from other offices that incorporate these rules into their regulations or otherwise notify potential appellants of the procedures' applicability to their proceedings.

DATES: NMFS invites interested persons to submit comments on this proposed rule. To ensure consideration, comments must be in writing and must be received by July 9, 2012.

Turn Around Time Improved for Renewing and Applying for Licenses with USCG

NACO has worked hard to shorten the turn around time for applying and renewing your license. The following story was published in the Washington Post by The Partnership for Public Service and supports what we have told you in the past about our success.   

There are 210,000 mariners licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard who are engaged in the movement of cargo and passengers within the United States and overseas, operating merchant ships, tugboats, ferries, dredges and other vessels on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals and harbors.

Carbon Dioxide Fire Suppression Systems

The Coast Guard is amending the current regulations for fire suppression systems on several classes of commercial vessels including some Subchapter T charter vessels. The amendments clarify that approved alternatives to carbon dioxide systems may be used to protect some spaces on these vessels, and set general requirements for alternative systems. Additionally, certain new carbon dioxide systems must be equipped with lockout valves and odorizing units to protect persons after a carbon dioxide discharge. By requiring these features on carbon dioxide systems and by making a wider range of fire suppression systems available, the regulations advance the Coast Guard's strategic goals of promoting marine safety and maritime mobility.

DATES: This final rule is effective July 9, 2012. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register on July 9, 2012.

National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee Meeting

The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) was established by the Secretary of Commerce under the authority of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to synthesize and summarize the science and information pertaining to current and future impacts of climate.

Time and Date: The meeting will be held June 14, 2012 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and June 15, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. These times are subject to change. Please refer to the Web page http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/NCADAC/index.html for changes and for the most up-to-date meeting agenda.

NACO Announces That LightSquared Has Filed For Bankruptcy

Nearly a year ago, NACO wrote a comment letter and encouraged you (our members) to speak out about the potential loss of reliable GPS by a private venture. LightSquared was backed by billions of dollars in funding, had plans to build a nationwide 4G broadband cellular telephone network but unfortunately, tests had shown this plan would interfere with GPS signals creating grave safety concerns. The company recently announced that it has filed for bankruptcy after the build-out of the network was halted by the FCC.

We want to thank the 18,000 boaters and other GPS users who wrote the FCC asking the guardian of the nation's airwaves to ensure the future integrity of the GPS signal, and the FCC for listening and acting on our concerns.

Even with the company's May 14 Chapter 11 filing, LightSquared continues to be a challenging adversary, stating, "The voluntary Chapter 11 filing is intended to give LightSquared sufficient breathing room to continue working through the regulatory process that will allow us to build our 4G wireless network." Under federal bankruptcy law, LightSquared would maintain exclusive control for several months over the right to craft a path to emerge from Chapter 11. The company originally asked the FCC for permission to build 40,000 network ground stations across the country. Recent government reports concluded interference issues with the GPS system could not be overcome. 

New Guidance on Calibrating MRIP Catch Estimates

Stock assessment scientists looking to incorporate the recently re-estimated MRIP catch numbers into their analyses have new guidance from NOAA Fisheries. Final reports from the Calibration Workshop and resulting Ad Hoc Working Group are now available on the MRIP website.

Validation of Merchant Mariners' Vital Information and Issuance of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner's Licenses and Certificates of Registry (MMLs)

The Coast Guard is finalizing regulations previously published 

as an interim rule on January 13, 2006. The interim rule was published 

to amend the maritime personnel licensing rules to include new security 

requirements when mariners apply for original, renewal, and raise-of-

grade licenses and certificates of registry, but was never published as 

a final rule. The Coast Guard is finalizing the one remaining section 

of the interim rule that has remained unfinalized, which is the 

definition of a dangerous drug.

This final rule is effective June 28, 2012.

Validation of Merchant Mariners' Vital Information and Issuance of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner's Documents (MMDs)

The Coast Guard is finalizing one section of regulations 

previously published as an interim rule on January 6, 2004. The interim 

rule was published to enhance the application procedures for the 

Merchant Mariner Licensing and Documentation program, which were 

necessary to improve maritime safety and promote the national security 

interest of the United States, but was never published as a final rule. 

The Coast Guard is finalizing the one remaining section of the interim 

rule that has remained unfinalized, which is a statement of the purpose 

of the rules in this part.

DATES: This final rule is effective June 28, 2012.

Petition to List 83 Species of Coral Threatened or Endangered Will Hold Listening Sessions and Workshops

NMFS will begin their public listening sessions and science workshops related to our status review of 82 coral species in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to list 83 coral species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The purposes of the listening sessions are toexplain to the public the process and information we are using to decide whether listing one or more of the 82 corals species is warranted, and to allow opportunity for the public to provide us with additional information that may further inform that decision. The purpose of the science workshops is to provide the opportunity for additional individual expert advice and public input on the science relevant to our decision concerning the 82 species of coral being considered for listing under the ESA.

Confidentiality of Information...Definition of Limited Access

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes 

revisions to existing regulations governing the confidentiality of 

information submitted in compliance with any requirement or regulation 

under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

(Magnuson-Stevens Act or MSA). The purposes of these revisions are to 

make both substantive and non-substantive changes necessary to comply 

with the MSA as amended by the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 

Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (MSRA) and the 1996 

Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA). In addition, revisions are necessary 

to address some significant issues that concern NMFS' application of 

the MSA confidentiality provision to requests for information.