81 FR 33196 - Mariana Archipelago Fisheries; Remove the CNMI Medium and Large Vessel Bottomfish Prohibited Areas

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 101 (May 25, 2016)

Page Range33196-33197
FR Document2016-12347

NMFS announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Mariana Archipelago. If approved, Amendment 4 would remove the medium and large vessel bottomfish (BF) prohibited fishing areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Amendment 4 considers the best available scientific, commercial, and other information about the fisheries, and supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources.

Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33196-33197]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12347]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

RIN 0648-BF37


Mariana Archipelago Fisheries; Remove the CNMI Medium and Large 
Vessel Bottomfish Prohibited Areas

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery ecosystem plan amendment; 
request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the Western Pacific Fishery Management 
Council (Council) proposes to amend the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the 
Mariana Archipelago. If approved, Amendment 4 would remove the medium 
and large vessel bottomfish (BF) prohibited fishing areas in the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Amendment 4 
considers the best available scientific, commercial, and other 
information about the fisheries, and supports the long-term 
sustainability of fishery resources.

DATES: NMFS must receive comments on the proposed amendment by July 25, 
2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0115, 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-2015-0115, 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), 1845 Wasp 
Blvd. Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other 
method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end 
of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public 
record, and NMFS will generally post them 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).
    The Council prepared Amendment 4, including an environmental 
assessment and regulatory impact review, that provides background 
information on the proposed action. The amendment is available from 
www.regulations.gov or the Council, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, 
Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, 
www.wpcouncil.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Ellgen, Sustainable Fisheries 
Division, NMFS PIR, 808-725-5173.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Council and NMFS manage the bottomfish 
fishery in federal waters in the CNMI under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan 
for the Mariana Archipelago (Mariana FEP). The Mariana FEP and 
implementing Federal regulations currently prohibit medium and large 
vessels (vessels over 40 ft) from fishing for bottomfish in certain 
Federal waters around the CNMI. The prohibited areas include waters 
within approximately 50 nautical miles (nm) of the Southern Islands 
(i.e., Rota, Aquijan, Tinian, Saipan and Farallon de Medenilla) and 
within 10 nm of Alamagan Island.
    The Council established the prohibited areas in 2008 in response to 
concerns expressed by CNMI fishermen that Guam bottomfish fishermen 
would travel to fish in CNMI waters after establishment of the large 
vessel prohibited fishing area in Guam. CNMI fishermen were concerned 
that such additional fishing by the vessels from Guam would create 
localized depletion of bottomfish, gear conflicts, and catch 
competition.
    The CNMI bottomfish fishery has changed since 2008, and the 
conditions that led the Council and NMFS to establish the prohibited 
areas are no longer present. Large vessels from Guam have not shown 
interest in fishing for CNMI bottomfish. The prohibited areas may also 
be negatively impacting the CNMI bottomfish fishery. Only a few small 
vessels have been operating on a regular basis, and the few medium and 
large vessels have faced declining participation, possibly as a result 
of higher fuel costs that prevent them from traveling beyond the 
prohibited areas. The CNMI bottomfish fishery may not be achieving 
optimum yield, and the prohibited areas may be contributing to the 
potential under-utilization of the bottomfish resource in CNMI.
    To address fishery conditions resulting from the BF prohibited 
areas, the Council recommended that NMFS remove them. The Council and 
NMFS would continue to manage the fishery under a suite of management 
requirements that include the specification of annual catch limits and 
accountability measures, post-season review of catches and effort 
including against ACLs, requirements for vessel markings, federal catch 
and sales reporting, and the vessel monitoring system. The fishing 
requirements for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument would 
also remain unchanged.

[[Page 33197]]

    Amendment 4 is intended to improve the efficiency and economic 
viability of the CNMI bottomfish fishery. The Council and NMFS will 
annually review the effects of the proposed amendment. Any future 
changes would be subject to additional environmental review and 
opportunity for public review and comment.
    NMFS must receive comments on Amendment 4 by the date provided in 
the DATES section to be considered by NMFS in the decision to approve, 
partially approve, or disapprove the amendment. NMFS soon expects to 
publish and request public comment on a proposed rule that would 
implement the measures recommended in Amendment 4.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 20, 2016.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-12347 Filed 5-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P


81_FR_33297
Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionProposed Rules
ActionNotice of availability of fishery ecosystem plan amendment; request for comments.
DatesNMFS must receive comments on the proposed amendment by July 25, 2016.
ContactSarah Ellgen, Sustainable Fisheries Division, NMFS PIR, 808-725-5173.
FR Citation81 FR 33196 
RIN Number0648-BF37

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