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National fisheries news update

Stay currrent with important national fisheries information.

International United States Pushes for Action at Global Tuna Summit

National U.S. Seafood Consumption Declines Slightly in 2005; Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and New Bedford Remain Top U.S. Fishing Ports

National Notification of Overfishing in Winter Skate, Gag, Gray Triggerfish and Eastern Pacific Yellowfin Tuna Fisheries

National Proposal Would Promote Safety and Efficiency of Observers

Northeast 2007 Management Measures Set for Bluefish

Northeast Temporary Gear Restrictions in Effect to Protect Right Whales

Northeast 2007 Measures Set for Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish

Gulf of Mexico Grouper Forum Planned

Northwest NOAA Fisheries Accepts States' Application for Sea Lion Removal Authority; Task Force to be Established

Pacific Coast Proposed Rule Clarifies Process for Closure of Drift Gillnet Fisheries to Protect Sea Turtles

Pacific Coast Mackerel Harvest Guidelines Set

Review past archived Northeast region fisheries news here.....

International - United States Pushes for Action at Global Tuna Summit
The United States participated in the first ever joint meeting of the world's five tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) in Kobe, Japan during the week of January 22, 2007. These organizations are responsible for the management of highly migratory species, such as bluefin tuna and swordfish, throughout the world's oceans. The groups represented at the meeting included the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

The newly reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act calls for the United States to use multilateral activities such as the Kobe meeting to strengthen regional action on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and bycatch. The issue of IUU fishing was discussed throughout the week, particularly as it related to overcapacity and effects on non-target species. In addition, the meeting included discussion of performance evaluations for each of the five tuna RFMOs as has been called for by the U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement Review Conference.

Participants agreed to a "Course of Action", which lays out 14 key areas and challenges facing the tuna RFMOs. Within this course of action was the formation of a technical Working Group to look at issues such as harmonization of trade tracking programs. The United States will host the first meeting of the technical Working Group and a meeting of the tuna RFMO Chairs as part of the follow up to the Kobe meeting.

For more information, contact

National - U.S. Seafood Consumption Declines Slightly in 2005; Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and New Bedford Remain Top U.S. Fishing Ports
NOAA has just released its annual publication, Fisheries of the United States. Americans ate 16.2 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2005, a two percent decrease from the 2004 consumption figure of 16.6 pounds. Despite the decline in consumption, consumer expenditures for seafood products increased by $3.3 billion, representing a five percent increase for a total of $65.2 billion. The commercial marine fishing industry contributed $32.9 billion to the U.S. Gross National Product in 2005, up from $31.6 billion in 2004. In 2005, Americans spent $44.5 billion in seafood restaurants, a $1.7 billion increase over 2004. Americans also purchased $20.5 billion worth of seafood for home consumption, an increase of $1.6 billion over 2004.

Despite the slight decrease in 2005, overall seafood consumption in the United States has shown an upward trend over the past five years. The United States imports roughly 80 percent of its seafood, and remains the third largest global consumer of fish and shellfish, behind Japan and China. Shrimp continues to be the top seafood consumed in the United States.

Commercial fishermen unloaded 887.6 million pounds of fish and shellfish in 2005 at the port of Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, AK, making it the country's top port for landings for 17 consecutive years. This represents a 1.2 million pound increase in landings over 2004. Intracoastal City, LA , jumped from fifth to the number two position, while Reedville, VA, slipped into the number three position. Cameron , LA , dropped off the top 10 list to rank 50th, with landings declining from 243.1 million pounds in 2004 to 10.6 million pounds in 2005. The port of Los Angeles is new to the top 10 list, now ranking 9th. Total domestic commercial landings for 2005 were 9.6 billion pounds, valued at $3.9 billion.

The port of New Bedford, MA, once again claimed the top spot for value of landings, setting a new record at $282.5 million – an increase of $75 million from 2004. The last record high value was set by Dutch Harbor-Unalaksa in 1994 at $224 million. This was the sixth year in a row that the dollar value of landings at New Bedford increased. Dutch Harbor-Unalaska was ranked second in value of landings at $166.1 million.

For more information, read the press releases posted at NOAA Fisheries' Media Center.

National - Notification of Overfishing in Winter Skate, Gag, Gray Triggerfish and Eastern Pacific Yellowfin Tuna Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, has determined that overfishing is occurring in fisheries for Northeast winter skate; Gulf of Mexico gag and gray triggerfish; and Eastern Pacific Ocean yellowfin tuna. NOAA has also determined that the rebuilding plan for Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack needs to be revised. NOAA Fisheries has notified the respective regional fishery management councils responsible for these fisheries. The Councils are required to take action within one year following NOAA Fisheries' notification that overfishing is occurring or a stock is approaching overfishing, a stock is overfished or approaching an overfished condition, or existing remedial action taken to end overfishing or rebuild an overfished stock has not resulted in adequate progress.

For more information on these determinations, read the Federal Register notice or contact

National - Proposal Would Promote Safety and Efficiency of Observers
This proposed rule would enhance the safety of fishery observers and the efficiency of their deployment at sea. The proposal would clarify prohibited actions regarding observers, reinforce that an observer may not be deployed or stay aboard an unsafe vessel, clarify when a fishing vessel is inadequate for observer deployment and how an owner or operator can resolve discrepancies, improve communications between observer programs and fishing vessel owners and operators, and provide for an alternate safety equipment examination of certain small fishing vessels. This proposed rule is necessary to maintain and improve the safety and effectiveness of fishing vessel observers while carrying out their duties.

Comments on the proposed changes may be sent to through 5pm, EST, on March 1, 2007.

More information is available online, or contact

Northeast - 2007 Management Measures Set for Bluefish
NOAA Fisheries has set management measures for the 2007 Atlantic bluefish fishery, including state-by-state commercial quotas, a recreational harvest limit, and recreational possession limits. The intent of these measures is to establish the allowable 2007 harvest levels and possession limits to attain the target fishing mortality rate, consistent with the stock rebuilding program for Atlantic bluefish. Although the Mid-Atlantic Council's recommendation was based on the best information available at the time, more recent information has been used to develop a new landings projection for the 2007 fishing year.

Based on data provided by the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistic Survey (MRFSS) program, estimated recreational landings in 2006 were 18,823,384 lb. Using this amount as a proxy for expected landings in 2007, NOAA has determined that the proposed transfer would exceed the amount allowable under the regulations. Therefore, this final rule reduces the amount of the transfer from the recreational to the commercial sector by 810,780 lb, to account for the increase in projected recreational landings. After adjusting for the research set aside quota, the final 2007 specifications include a commercial quota of 8,574,939 lb and a recreational harvest limit of 18,823,384 lb. This final rule is effective March 2 through December 31, 2007.

For more information, contact

Northeast - Temporary Gear Restrictions in Effect to Protect Right Whales
Temporary restrictions are in effect for lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 2,185 nm 2. The restricted area is in the proximity of Jeffreys Bank, approximately 80nm east of Portland, ME. The purpose of this action is to provide protection to an aggregation of northern right whales. On January 22, 2007, an aerial survey reported a sighting of thirty right whales in the proximity 43[deg] 22' N. lat. and 68[deg] 21' W. long. (east of Portland, ME). After conducting an investigation, NOAA Fisheries determined that the report came from a qualified individual and that the report was reliable.

The use of lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear is prohibited in the designated area through February 20, 2007, unless it is modified in the manner described in this temporary rule.

For more information, contact

Northeast - 2007 Measures Set for Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish
This action implements 2007 specifications and management measures for Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish and modifies existing management measures. Specifically, it implements trimester quota allocations for the Loligo squid fishery and establishes the protocol for an inseason adjustment to increase the mackerel harvest, if landings approach harvest limits. The incidental Loligo squid possession limit for Illex squid moratorium vessels during closures of the directed Loligo squid fishery continues to be 2,500 lb per trip per calendar day.

This final rule takes effect March 1, 2007.

Gulf of Mexico- Grouper Forum Planned
NOAA Fisheries, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are sponsoring a Gulf of Mexico Grouper Forum. This free public forum provides a unique opportunity for the agencies and stakeholders to explore more effective ways to work together. Topics of discussion will include the following: Understanding the State and Federal Regulatory Process; Understanding Grouper Assessments and Management; Update on Grouper Assessments; Enhancing Public Participation in Science and Management; and Enhancing Communication between Fishery Managers and the Public. The Forum will take place February 27-28 at the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, FL.

Please go to and click on Grouper Forum to access the registration form.

For more information, contact

Northwest - NOAA Fisheries Accepts States' Application for Sea Lion Removal Authority; Task Force to be Established
Last month, the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho formally asked NOAA Fisheries for permission to permanently remove California sea lions that are having a significant negative impact on populations of salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NOAA has agreed to consider this request, under conditions provided for in the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The MMPA allows NOAA Fisheries to authorize the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds that are having a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonids that are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

NOAA is currently seeking public comment on the states' application, as well as any additional information on sea lion predation of salmon at Bonneville Dam. In particular, NOAA Fisheries requests information regarding:

1) Observations of sea lions (number, species and predation on salmonids) in the Columbia River above or below Bonneville Dam;

2) Information on areas where numbers of sea lions are concentrated in the lower Columbia River, between Tongue Point (river mile 16) and Navigation Marker 85 (river mile 135), including resting (haulout) sites and locations where sea lions have been repeatedly observed taking salmonids; and

3) Dates when sea lions have been observed in the river above Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam.

Please send information to by April 2, 2007.

In addition, a special task force will be set up to examine the states' request. NOAA is seeking the names and affiliations of experts from the academic and scientific community, tribes, Federal and state agencies, and the private sector for consideration as potential Task Force members. Nominations must include sufficient background information (e.g., 1-page resume) and should also indicate the prospective candidate's willingness to serve without compensation.

For more information, visit the Northwest Region's website.

Pacific Coast - Proposed Rule Clarifies Process for Closure of Drift Gillnet Fisheries to Protect Sea Turtles
NOAA Fisheries has proposed to amend regulations governing closures of the California/Oregon swordfish/thresher shark drift gillnet fishery in the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area during El Nino events. The regulations are necessary to avoid jeopardizing loggerhead sea turtles, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. These proposed changes would clarify the time period during which the area is to be closed and the methods that NOAA Fisheries will use to determine if an El Nino event is occurring or forecast to occur. This action would also correct an inaccurate cross-reference in the regulations governing special requirements for fishing activities to protect endangered sea turtles under the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species.

Send comments on the proposed rule to by March 1, 2007.

For more information, contact

Pacific Coast - Mackerel Harvest Guidelines Set
NOAA Fisheries has published a final rule to implement the annual harvest guideline for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the Pacific coast for the fishing season of July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007. Based on the estimated biomass of 112,700 mt and the formula in the fishery management plan, a harvest guideline of 19,845 mt will be in effect for the fishery which began on July 1, 2006. This harvest guideline applies to Pacific mackerel harvested in the U.S. EEZ off the Pacific coast from 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2006, through 11:59 pm on June 30, 2007, unless the harvest guideline is attained and the fishery is closed before June 30, 2007. All landings made after July 1, 2006, will be counted toward the 2006-2007 harvest guideline of 19,845 mt.

This season, there will be a directed fishery of 13,845 mt, followed by an incidental fishery of 6,000 mt. An incidental allowance of 40 percent of Pacific mackerel in landings of any coastal pelagic species will become effective after the date when 13,845 mt of Pacific mackerel is estimated to have been harvested. A landing of 1 mt of Pacific mackerel per trip will be permitted during the incidental fishery for trips in which no other coastal pelagic species is landed.

For more information, contact


New Magnuson-Stevens Act Webpage Created
NOAA Fisheries has created a new webpage for materials related to
the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The page currently contains a draft "redline" version of the new MSA, as well as statements and press releases related to the reauthorization. The site will be revised regularly to include fact sheets, notices of upcoming public comment periods, and updates on MSA implementation. The address is:

Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Issues 2006 Report Card
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (composed of the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy) has issued its 2006 report card on U.S. ocean policies. The report card can be viewed online at

Mid-Atlantic Council and Committees to Meet; Feb 13-15 in Claymont, DE
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and its Bycatch/Limited Access Privilege Program (LAPP) Committee, Ecosystem Committee, Tilefish Committee, Executive Committee, and Law Enforcement Committee will meet February 13-15, 2007, at the Holiday Inn Select in Claymont, DE. A detailed agenda is provided in the meeting notice.

For more information, contact the Council at (302) 674-2331.

Western Pacific Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee to Meet; Feb 20-22 in Honolulu, HI
The 94th meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee will convene February 20-22, 2007, in Honolulu, HI. A detailed agenda is provided in the meeting notice.

For more information, contact the Council at (808) 522-8220.

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Seeks Education Representative for its Advisory Council; Deadline Feb 23
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for the Primary Education seat on its Sanctuary Advisory Council. Applications are due February 23, 2007.

More information is available online, or contact

Criteria Amended for Social Science Fellowship; Deadline Extended to Feb 28
NOAA's National Ocean Service has amended the eligibility criteria for the Social Science Fellowship in the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program to allow part-time students to apply for the program. In addition, two National Estuarine Research Reserves have been added to the list of eligible reserves where candidates can propose their research (Huron, OH and Watsonville, CA ). The deadline for applications has been extended to February 28, 2007.

For more information, read the Federal Register notice.

King Mackerel Closure
The commercial run-around gillnet fishery for king mackerel is closed in the southern Florida west coast subzone of the EEZ. The closure is effective through 6am, January 22, 2008.

For more information, contact

Pacific Cod Closure
Directed fishing for Pacific cod is prohibited for catcher vessels 60 feet and longer using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is effective though 1200 hrs, Alaska local time, on June 10, 2007.

For more information, contact



For a list of only those actions open for public comment, try going to and scroll search for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For a list of all daily actions, check the Federal register online at:



January 29, 2007
Rule - Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic coastal migratory pelagic resources

Notice - National Estuarine Research Reserve; Social Science Fellowships

January 30, 2007
Rule - Pacific cod

Rule - Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish

Proposed rule - Domestic fisheries; observer health and safety

Rule - Western Pacific fisheries; Highly migratory species

Notice - California sea lions; pinniped removal authority

Notice - Meeting; Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Notice - Meeting; Western Pacific Regional Fishery Council

January 31, 2007
Rule - Atlantic bluefish

Rule - Pacific mackerel

Notice - Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Back to top



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