| Amendment 7 to the fishery ecosystem plan for pelagic fisheries of the Western Pacific region (RIN 0648-BD46) : supplemental environmental assessment - :10208 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) | National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
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Amendment 7 to the fishery ecosystem plan for pelagic fisheries of the Western Pacific region (RIN 0648-BD46) : supplemental environmental assessment
  • Published Date:
Filetype[PDF-1.70 MB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    United States, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration., Office of Program Planning and Integration, ; United States, National Marine Fisheries Service., Office of Protected Resources, ; Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (U.S.)
  • Description:
    NMFS prepared this Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Council on Environmental Quality Regulations at 40 Code of Federal Regulations 1500-1508, and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6. This SEA supplements the environmental assessment (EA) prepared for the proposed action described in Amendment 7 to the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (Pelagic FEP). The proposed action described in Amendment 7 establishes a management framework and process for specifying catch and effort limits for highly migratory fish stocks for U.S. Pacific territories, which are American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The framework also authorizes the government of each territory to allocate a portion of its catch or fishing effort limit to a U.S. fishing vessel or vessels through a specified fishing agreement, and would establish the criteria that an agreement would need to satisfy. For 2014 only, the proposed action specifies a limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for pelagic fisheries in the U.S. Pacific territories, and authorizes each territory to allocate and transfer up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to a U.S. longline fishing vessel or vessels based in a U.S. participating territory or Hawaii, and identified in a specified fishing agreement. Additionally, when NMFS projects a territorial catch or allocated limit will be reached, NMFS would, through accountability measures, restrict catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the U.S. territories, or by vessels operating under a specified fishing agreement, depending on which limit is being approached. Accountability measures may include, but are not limited to, a prohibition on retention, closure of a fishery, closure of specific areas, or other catch or fishing effort restrictions. On December 30, 2013, NMFS published in the Federal Register a notice of availability for a draft of Amendment 7 and the EA (78 FR 79388) and provided 60 days for public review and comment on the documents. On January 8, 2014, NMFS published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to implement the management framework described in Amendment 7, as well as the proposed 2014 territorial big eye tuna catch and allocation limit specifications, and provided 45 days for public review and comment. After considering public comments received on the draft Amendment 7, the EA, the proposed rule, and the proposed specifications, NMFS finalized the EA and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) determination on March 27, 2014, and approved Amendment 7 on March 28, 2014. Before publishing the final rule to implement Amendment 7, and the final 2014 territorial bigeye tuna catch and allocation limit specifications, NMFS received new information that could affect the environmental analysis contained in the original EA upon which NMFS' approval was based. Specifically, this new information includes the increased rate of leatherback sea turtle interactions in the Hawaii-deep set longline fishery that resulted in the fishery exceeding the level of anticipated interactions with leatherback sea turtles authorized in a 2005 Biological Opinion for the fishery. In addition, following issuance of the FONSI, NMFS separately published a final rule listing two species of sharks and 20 species of reef-building coral under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and produced new analysis of the potential impacts of the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery on ESA-listed cetaceans, including humpback whales, sperm whales and main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whales. This SEA supplements the EA for Amendment 7 that was completed on March 27, 2014, by describing this new information and providing additional analysis to help NMFS determine whether or not the proposed action would result in significant environmental impacts to the human environment. The March 2014 EA is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

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