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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of November 19, 2019

Title 50Chapter IIIPart 300 → Subpart C


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS


Subpart C—Eastern Pacific Tuna Fisheries


Contents
§300.20   Purpose and scope.
§300.21   Definitions.
§300.22   Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
§300.23   Eastern Pacific fisheries - Persons and vessels exempted.
§300.24   Prohibitions.
§300.25   Fisheries management.
§300.26   Vessel monitoring system (VMS).
§300.27   Incidental catch and tuna retention requirements.
§300.28   FAD restrictions.

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951 et seq.

§300.20   Purpose and scope.

The regulations in this subpart are issued under the authority of the Tuna Conventions Act of 1950, as amended, (Act) and apply to persons and vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The regulations implement recommendations and other decisions of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) for the conservation and management of stocks of tunas and tuna-like species and other species of fish taken by vessels fishing for tunas and tuna-like species in the IATTC Convention Area. The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and, with respect to enforcement measures, the U.S. Coast Guard, may promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the U.S. international obligations under the Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (Convention), the Convention for the Strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica (Antigua Convention), and the Act, including recommendations and other decisions adopted by the IATTC.

[82 FR 17385, Apr. 11, 2017]

§300.21   Definitions.

In addition to the terms defined in §300.2, in the Act, the Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (Convention), and the Convention for the Strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica (Antigua Convention), the terms used in this subpart have the following meanings. If a term is defined differently in §300.2, in the Act, or in the Antigua Convention, the definition in this section shall apply.

Active FAD means a FAD whose location is being tracked by the vessel owner or operator using tracking equipment, such as radio or satellite buoys. A FAD shall be considered an Active FAD unless/until the vessel is no longer tracking its location and the vessel owner or operator notifies the IATTC that the FAD is no longer active (i.e., deactivated).

Commercial with respect to commercial fishing, means fishing in which the fish harvested, either in whole or in part, are intended to enter commerce through sale, barter or trade.

Commercial passenger fishing vessel means any vessel licensed for commercial passenger fishing purposes within the State out of which it is operating and from which, while under charter or hire, persons are legally permitted to conduct sportfishing activities.

Convention Area or IATTC Convention Area means:

(1) For the purpose of §300.22(b), all waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by 50° N. latitude from the coast of North America to its intersection with 150° W. longitude, then 150° W. longitude to its intersection with 50° S. latitude, and then 50° S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South America; and

(2) For the purpose of all other sections and paragraphs of this subpart, all waters of the Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by 50° N. latitude from the coast of North America to its intersection with 150° W. longitude, then 150° W. longitude to its intersection with 4° S. latitude, then 4° S. to its intersection with 130° W. longitude, then 130° W. longitude to its intersection with 50° S. latitude, and then 50° S. latitude to its intersection with the coast of South America.

Data buoy means, for the purpose of §300.25, a floating device, either drifting or anchored, which is deployed by one or more governmental or recognized scientific organizations or entities for the purpose of electronically collecting and measuring environmental data, and not for the purpose of fishing activities, and which has been reported to the IATTC by a Member or Cooperating non-Member of the Commission.

Dolphin set means a purse seine set where a class size 6 U.S. purse seine vessel (greater than 363 metric tons carrying capacity) deploys a net on, or encircles, dolphins to catch yellowfin tuna.

Fish aggregating device (FAD) means a manmade raft or other floating object used to attract tuna and make them available to fishing vessels.

Fishing trip means a period that a fishing vessel spends at sea between port visits and during which any fishing occurs.

Fishing vessel means any vessel, boat, ship, or other craft that is used for, equipped to be used for, or of a type that is normally used for fishing or for assisting or supporting a vessel engaged in fishing, except purse seine skiffs.

Floating object means any natural object or FAD around which fishing vessels may catch tuna.

Floating object set means a purse seine set in which purse seine gear is deployed to encircle a floating object.

Force majeure means, for the purpose of §300.25, a situation in which a vessel at sea, except while transiting between ports on a trip during which no fishing operations occur, is disabled by mechanical and/or structural failure, fire or explosion.

Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Branch means the Chief of the HMS Branch of the Sustainable Fisheries Division, National Marine Fisheries Service West Coast Region, Suite 4200, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802.

Incidental catch or incidental species means species caught while fishing with the primary purpose of catching a different species. An incidental catch is expressed as a percentage of the weight of the total fish on board.

Land or Landing means to begin transfer of fish from a fishing vessel. Once transfer begins, all fish on board the vessel are counted as part of the landing.

Longline gear means a type of fishing gear consisting of a main line that exceeds 1 nautical mile in length, is suspended horizontally in the water column anchored, floating, or attached to a vessel, and from which branch or dropper lines with hooks are attached.

Mesh size means the distance between the inside of one knot to the inside of the opposing knot when the mesh is stretched, regardless of twine size.

Mobulid ray means any animal in the family Mobulidae, which includes manta rays (Manta spp.) and devil rays (Mobula spp.).

Observer means an individual placed aboard a fishing vessel under the IATTC observer program or any other international observer program in which the United States may participate.

Overall length means registered length, or the horizontal distance between the outboard side of the foremost part of the stem and the outboard side of the aftermost part of the stern, excluding rudders, outboard motor brackets, and other similar fittings and attachments for a single-hull vessel; for a multi-hull vessel, it is the horizontal distance between the outboard side of the foremost part of the stem of the foremost hull and the outboard side of the aftermost part of the stern of the aftermost hull, excluding fittings or attachments (See 46 CFR 69.203).

Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator for the West Coast Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, or a designee.

Regional Vessel Register (hereafter referred to as Vessel Register) means the regional register of vessels authorized to fish for tuna and tuna-like species in the Convention Area, as established by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission in June 2000.

Shark line means a type of fishing gear used to target sharks and consisting of an individual hooked line or hooked lines attached to the floatline or directly to the floats of longline gear and deployed in the water column at depths shallower than the mainline.

South Pacific Tuna Treaty means the Treaty on Fisheries Between the Governments of Certain Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States of America (50 CFR part 300, subpart D).

Sustainable Fisheries Division (SFD) means the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Sustainable Fisheries Division, West Coast Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, or a designee.

Tender vessel means a vessel that does not engage in purse seine fishing but tends to FADs in support of tuna fishing operations.

Transship means to unload fish from a vessel that caught fish to another vessel.

Transshipment receiving vessel means any vessel, boat, ship, or other craft that is used to receive fish from a fishing vessel.

Trip limit means the total allowable amount of a species by weight of fish that may be retained on board, transshipped, or landed from a single fishing trip by a vessel that harvests tuna or tuna-like species.

Tropical tuna means any of the following species:

Common nameScientific name
Bigeye tunaThunnus obesus.
Skipjack tunaKatsuwonus pelamis.
Yellowfin tunaThunnus albacares.

Tuna means any fish of the genus Thunnus and the species Euthynnus (Katsuwonus) pelamis.

Vessel monitoring system (VMS) means an automated, remote system that provides information about a vessel's identity, location and activity, for the purposes of routine monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of area and time restrictions and other fishery management measures.

VMS unit, sometimes known as a “mobile transmitting unit,” means a transceiver or communications device, including all hardware and software that is carried and operated on a vessel as part of a VMS.

[61 FR 35550, July 5, 1996]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §300.21, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

§300.22   Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

(a) Logbooks and reporting on whale sharks and FADs—(1) Logbook reporting. The master or other person in charge of a commercial fishing vessel or commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) authorized to fish for tuna and tuna-like species in the Convention Area, or a person authorized in writing to serve as the agent for either person, must keep an accurate log of operations conducted from the fishing vessel. For vessels greater than 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity that are authorized to purse seine for tuna in the Convention Area, the log must include for each day the date, noon position (stated in latitude and longitude or in relation to known physical features), and the tonnage of fish on board, by species. The record and bridge log maintained and submitted at the request of the IATTC shall be sufficient to comply with this paragraph, provided the items of information specified by the IATTC are accurately entered in the log. For purse seine vessels of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less and for non-purse seine vessels, maintaining and submitting any logbook required by existing state or federal regulation shall be sufficient to comply with this paragraph.

(2) Whale shark encirclement reporting. The owner and operator of a purse seine fishing vessel of the United States that encircles a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) while commercially fishing in the Convention Area must ensure that the incident is recorded on the log that is required by this paragraph (a). The log must include the following information: The number of individual whale sharks with which the vessel interacted, details of how and why the encirclement happened, where it occurred, steps taken to ensure safe release, and an assessment of the life status of the whale shark upon release (including whether the animal was released alive, but subsequently died), as may be further specified by NMFS.

(3) FAD data reporting for purse seine vessels—(i) Reporting on FAD interactions. U.S. vessel owners and operators must ensure that any interaction or activity with a FAD is reported using a standard format provided by the HMS Branch. The owner and operator shall ensure that the form is submitted within 30 days of each landing or transshipment of tuna or tuna-like species to the address specified by the HMS Branch.

(ii) Reporting on Active FADs. U.S. vessel owners and operators must record or maintain daily information on all Active FADs that have been deployed in the water in the IATTC Convention Area in the format and to the address provided by the HMS Branch. This information must be submitted for each calendar month no later than 90 days after the month covered by the report.

(b) Vessel Register. The Vessel Register shall include, consistent with resolutions of the IATTC, all commercial fishing vessels and CPFVs authorized to fish for tuna and tuna-like species in the Convention Area. Except as provided under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, tuna purse seine vessels must be listed on the Vessel Register and categorized as active under paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section in order to fish for tuna and tuna-like species in the Convention Area.

(1) Exception. Once per year, a vessel that is permitted and authorized under an alternative international tuna purse seine fisheries management regime in the Pacific Ocean may exercise an option to fish with purse seine gear to target tuna in the Convention Area without being listed on the Vessel Register and without being categorized as active under paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section, for a fishing trip that does not exceed 90 days in duration. No more than 32 of such trips are allowed each calendar year. After the commencement of the 32nd such trip, the Regional Administrator shall announce, in the Federal Register and by other appropriate means, that no more such trips are allowed for the remainder of the calendar year. Under §216.24(b)(6)(iii)(C) of this title, vessel assessment fees must be paid for vessels exercising this option.

(2) Requirements for inclusion of purse seine vessels on the vessel register. The tuna purse seine portion of the Vessel Register shall include, consistent with resolutions of the IATTC, only vessels that fished in the Convention Area prior to June 28, 2002. Inclusion on the tuna purse seine portion of the Vessel Register is valid through December 31 of each year. New tuna purse seine vessels may be added to the Vessel Register at any time to replace those previously removed by the Regional Administrator, provided that the total capacity of the replacement vessel or vessels does not exceed that of the tuna purse seine vessel or vessels being replaced.

(3) Vessel information. (i) Information on each commercial fishing vessel or CPFV authorized to use purse seine, longline, drift gillnet, harpoon, troll, rod and reel, or pole and line fishing gear to fish for tuna and tuna-like species in the Convention Area for sale shall be collected by the Regional Administrator to conform to IATTC resolutions governing the Vessel Register. This information initially includes, but is not limited to, the vessel name and registration number; the name and business address of the owner(s) and managing owner(s); a photograph of the vessel with the registration number legible; previous vessel name(s) and previous flag (if known and if any); port of registry; International Radio Call Sign; vessel length, beam, and moulded depth; gross tonnage, fish hold capacity in cubic meters, and carrying capacity in metric tons and cubic meters; engine horsepower; date and place where built; and type of fishing method or methods used. The required information shall be collected as part of existing information collections as described in this and other parts of the CFR.

(ii) IMO numbers. For the purpose of this section, an “IMO number” is the unique six or seven digit number issued for a vessel under the ship identification number scheme adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and managed by the entity identified by the IMO (currently IHS Maritime) and is also known as a Lloyd's Register number.

(iii) Requirement for IMO number. The owner of a fishing vessel of the United States used for commercial fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the IATTC Convention Area shall ensure that an IMO number has been issued for the vessel if the vessel's Certificate of Documentation issued under 46 CFR part 67 indicates that the vessel's total internal volume is 100 gross register tons or greater. A vessel owner may request that an IMO number be issued for a vessel by following the instructions given by the administrator of the IMO ship identification number scheme; those instructions are currently available on the Web site of IHS Maritime.

(iv) Request for exemption. In the event that a fishing vessel owner, after following the instructions given by the designated manager of the IMO ship identification number scheme, is unable to ensure that an IMO number is issued for the fishing vessel, the fishing vessel owner may request an exemption from the requirement from the West Coast Regional Administrator. The request must be sent by mail to NMFS West Coast Region, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802, and must include the vessel's name, the vessel's official number, a description of the steps taken to request an IMO number, and a description of any responses from the administrator of the IMO ship identification number scheme.

(v) Exemption process. Upon receipt of a request for an exemption under paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section, the West Coast Regional Administrator will, to the extent he or she determines appropriate, assist the fishing vessel owner in requesting an IMO number. If the West Coast Regional Administrator determines that the fishing vessel owner has followed all appropriate procedures and yet is unable to obtain an IMO number for the fishing vessel, he or she will issue an exemption from the requirements of paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section for the vessel and its owner and notify the owner of the exemption. The West Coast Regional Administrator may limit the duration of the exemption. The West Coast Regional Administrator may rescind an exemption at any time. If an exemption is rescinded, the fishing vessel owner must comply with the requirements of paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section within 30 days of being notified of the rescission. If the ownership of a fishing vessel changes, an exemption issued to the former fishing vessel owner becomes void.

(4) Purse seine vessel register status. For a purse seine vessel to be listed on the Vessel Register and to be categorized as either “active” or “inactive” in the following calendar year, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator the required permit applications, written notifications, and fees as described under §216.24(b) of this title and under paragraphs (b)(4)(i) and (b)(4)(iii) of this section.

(i) Active status. As early as August 1 of each year, vessel owners or managing owners may request that a purse seine vessel qualified to be listed on the Vessel Register under paragraph (b)(2) of this section be categorized as active for the following calendar year. To request a purse seine vessel in excess of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity be listed on the Vessel Register and be categorized as active, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator the vessel permit application and payment of the permit application fee and vessel assessment fee. To request a purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less be listed on the Vessel Register and be categorized as active, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator written notification including, but not limited to, a vessel photograph, the vessel information as described under paragraph (b)(3) of this section, and the owner or managing owner's signature and business telephone and fax numbers. If a purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less is required by the Agreement on the IDCP to carry an observer, the vessel owner or managing owner must also submit payment of the vessel assessment fee to the Regional Administrator. Vessel permit applications and written notifications must be submitted by fax to (562) 980-4047. The Regional Administrator must receive the vessel permit application or written notification and payment of the permit application fee and vessel assessment fee no later than September 15 for vessels for which a DML was requested for the following year and no later than November 30 for vessels for which a DML was not requested for the following year. Submission of the vessel permit application or written notification and payment of the vessel assessment fee and permit application fee will be interpreted by the Regional Administrator as a request for a vessel to be categorized as active. The following restrictions apply to active status:

(A) The cumulative carrying capacity of all purse seine vessels categorized as active on the Vessel Register may not exceed 31,775 cubic meters in a given year;

(B) A purse seine vessel may not be added to active status on the Vessel Register unless the captain of the vessel has obtained a valid operator permit under §216.24(b)(2) of this title;

(C) Requests for active status will be prioritized according to the following hierarchy:

(1) Requests received for vessels that were categorized as active in the previous year, unless the request for active status was determined to be frivolous by the Regional Administrator under paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section;

(2) Requests received for vessels that were categorized as inactive under paragraph (b)(4)(iii) of this section in the previous year;

(3) Requests for vessels not described in paragraphs (b)(4)(i)(C)(1) or (2) of this section will be prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis according to the date and time stamp printed by the incoming fax machine upon receipt, provided that the associated vessel assessment fee is paid by the applicable deadline described in §216.24(b)(6)(iii) of this title; and

(4) Requests received from owners or managing owners of vessels that were determined by the Regional Administrator to have made a frivolous request for active status under paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section.

(ii) Frivolous requests for active status. (A) Except as described under paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(B) of this section, requests for active status under paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section will be considered frivolous if, for a vessel categorized as active in a given calendar year:

(1) Less than 20 percent of the vessel's total landings, by weight, in that same year is comprised of tuna harvested by purse seine in the Convention Area; or

(2) The vessel did not fish for tuna at all in the Convention Area in that same year.

(B) Exceptions. Requests described under paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(A) of this section will not be considered frivolous requests if:

(1) The vessel's catch pattern fell within the criteria described in pargraph (b)(4)(ii)(A) as a result of force majeure or other extraordinary circumstances as determined by the Regional Administrator; or

(2) The vessel's carrying capacity is 400 st (362.8 mt) or less and landings of tuna caught by the vessel in the Convention Area comprise 50 percent or less of the vessel's total landings, by weight, for a given calendar year.

(iii) Inactive status. From August 1 through November 30 of each year, vessel owners or managing owners may request that purse seine vessels qualified to be listed on the Vessel Register under paragraph (b)(2) of this section be categorized as inactive for the following calendar year. To request a purse seine vessel in excess of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity be listed on the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive for the following calendar year, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator payment of the associated vessel assessment fee. Payment of the vessel assessment fee consistent with inactive status will be interpreted by the Regional Administrator as a request for the vessel to be categorized as inactive. To request a purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less be listed on the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive for the following calendar year, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit by mail to the Regional Administrator a written notification including, but not limited to, the vessel name and registration number and the vessel owner or managing owner's name, signature, business address, and business telephone and fax numbers. Payment of the vessel assessment fee is not required for vessels of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less to be categorized as inactive. At any time during the year, a vessel owner or managing owner may request that a purse seine vessel qualified to be listed on the Vessel Register under paragraph (b)(2) of this section be categorized as inactive for the remainder of the calendar year. To request a purse seine vessel in excess of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity be listed on the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive for the remainder of the calendar year, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator payment of the associated vessel assessment fee. To request a purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less be listed on the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive for the remainder of the calendar year, the vessel owner or managing owner must submit to the Regional Administrator written notification as described in this paragraph (payment of the vessel assessment fee is not required).

(5) Removal from the vessel register. A vessel may be removed from the Vessel Register by the Regional Administrator:

(i) If the vessel has sunk;

(ii) Upon written request by the vessel's owner or managing owner;

(iii) Following a final agency action on a permit sanction for a violation;

(iv) For failure to pay a penalty or for default on a penalty payment agreement resulting from a final agency action for a violation;

(v) If the U.S. Maritime Administration or the U.S. Coast Guard notifies NMFS that:

(A) The owner has submitted an application for transfer of the vessel to foreign registry and flag; or

(B) The documentation for the vessel will be or has been deleted for any reason.

(vi) If the vessel does not have a valid state registration or U.S. Coast Guard certificate of documentation;

(vii) For tuna purse seine vessels, upon receipt of written notification from the owner or managing owner of the intent to transfer the vessel to foreign registry and flag, as described in paragraph (b)(8) of this section; or

(viii) For tuna purse seine vessels, if the request for active status on the Vessel Register has been determined to be a frivolous request.

(6) Process for Removal from the Vessel Register. When a vessel is removed from the Vessel Register under paragraph (b)(5) of this section, the Regional Administrator shall promptly notify the vessel owner in writing of the removal and the reasons therefor. For a removal from the Vessel Register under §300.22(b)(5)(iii), the Regional Administrator will not accept a request to reinstate the vessel to the Vessel Register for the term of the permit sanction. For a removal from the Vessel Register under §300.22(b)(5)(iv), the Regional Administrator will not accept a request to reinstate the vessel to the Vessel Register until such time as payment is made on the penalty or penalty agreement, or such other duration as NOAA and the vessel owner may agree upon.

(7) Procedures for replacing purse seine vessels removed from the Vessel Register. (i) A purse seine vessel in excess of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity that was previously listed on the Vessel Register, but not included for a given year or years, may be added back to the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive at any time during the year, provided the owner or managing owner of the vessel pays the vessel assessment fee associated with inactive status. A purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less that was previously listed on the Vessel Register, but not included for a given year or years, may be added back to the Vessel Register and categorized as inactive at any time during the year, provided the owner or managing owner of the vessel submits written notification as described in paragraph (b)(4)(iii) of this section.

(ii) A purse seine vessel may be added to the Vessel Register and categorized as active in order to replace a vessel removed from active status under paragraph (b)(5) of this section, provided the total carrying capacity of the active vessels does not exceed 31,775 cubic meters and the owner submits a complete request under paragraph (b)(7)(iv) or (b)(7)(v) of this section.

(iii) After a purse seine vessel categorized as active is removed from the Vessel Register, the Regional Administrator will notify owners or managing owners of vessels categorized as inactive that replacement capacity is available on the active list of the Vessel Register. In the event that owners of inactive vessels do not request to replace a removed vessel, the Regional Administrator will notify owners of vessels eligible for, but not included on, the Vessel Register that replacement capacity is available on the active list of the Vessel Register.

(iv) Vessel owners or managing owners may request a purse seine vessel of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity or less be categorized as active to replace a vessel or vessels removed from the Vessel Register by submitting to the Regional Administrator written notification as described in paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section and, only if the vessel is required by the Agreement on the IDCP to carry an observer, payment of the vessel assessment fee within 10 business days after submission of the faxed written notification. The replacement vessel will be eligible to be categorized as active on the Vessel Register if it has a carrying capacity equal to or less than the vessel or vessels being replaced. Payments received will be subject to a 10 percent surcharge for vessels that were listed as active on the Vessel Register in the previous calendar year, but not listed as inactive at the beginning of the calendar year for which active status was requested.

(v) Vessel owners or managing owners may request a purse seine vessel in excess of 400 st (362.8 mt) carrying capacity be categorized as active to replace a vessel or vessels removed from the Vessel Register by submitting to the Regional Administrator the vessel permit application as described under §216.24(b) of this title and payment of the vessel assessment fee and permit application fee within 10 business days after submission of the faxed vessel permit application for the replacement vessel. The replacement vessel will be eligible to be categorized as active on the Vessel Register if it has a carrying capacity equal to or less than the vessel or vessels being replaced, and the captain of the replacement vessel possesses an operator permit under §216.24(b) of this title. Payments received will be subject to a 10 percent surcharge for vessels that were listed as active on the Vessel Register in the previous calendar year, but not listed as inactive at the beginning of the calendar year for which active status was requested.

(vi) The Regional Administrator will forward requests to replace vessels removed from the Vessel Register within 15 days of receiving each request.

(8) The owner or managing owner of a purse seine vessel listed on the Vessel Register must provide written notification to the Regional Administrator prior to submitting an application for transfer of the vessel to foreign registry and flag. Written notification must be submitted by mail and received by the Regional Administrator at least 10 business days prior to submission of the application for transfer. The written notification must include the vessel name and registration number; the expected date that the application for transfer will be submitted; and the vessel owner or managing owner's name and signature. Vessels that require approval by the U.S. Maritime Administration prior to transfer of the vessel to foreign registry and flag will not be subject to the notification requirement described in this paragraph.

[61 FR 35550, July 5, 1996, as amended at 66 FR 49320, Sept. 27, 2001; 70 FR 19010, Apr. 12, 2005; 74 FR 1618, Jan. 13, 2009; 76 FR 287, Jan. 4, 2011; 76 FR 68337, Nov. 4, 2011; 79 FR 56018, Sept. 18, 2014; 81 FR 1879, Jan. 14, 2016; 81 FR 36184, June 6, 2016; 83 FR 15509, Apr. 11, 2018]

§300.23   Eastern Pacific fisheries - Persons and vessels exempted.

This subpart does not apply to:

(a) Any person or vessel authorized by the IATTC, the Assistant Administrator, or any state of the United States to engage in fishing for research purposes.

(b) Any person or vessel engaged in sport fishing for personal use.

[61 FR 35550, July 5, 1996, as amended at 74 FR 1620, Jan. 13, 2009]

§300.24   Prohibitions.

In addition to the prohibitions in §300.4, it is unlawful for any person or vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to:

(a) Land any species of tuna during the closed season for that species in excess of the amount allowed by the Regional Administrator.

(b) [Reserved]

(c) Use tender vessels in the Convention Area.

(d) Transship purse seine-caught tuna at sea within the Convention Area.

(e) Fail to retain any bigeye, skipjack, or yellowfin tuna caught by a fishing vessel of the United States of class size 4-6 using purse seine gear in the Convention Area as required under §300.27(a).

(f) When using purse seine gear to fish for tuna in the Convention Area, fail to release any non-tuna species as soon as practicable after being identified on board the vessel during the brailing operation as required in §300.27(b).

(g) Land any non-tuna fish species taken in a purse seine set in the Convention Area.

(h) Fail to use the sea turtle handling, release, and resuscitation procedures in §300.27(c).

(i) Fail to report information when requested by the Regional Administrator under §300.22.

(j) Fail to provide written notification as described under §300.22(b)(8) to the Regional Administrator at least 10 business days prior to submission of an application to transfer a purse seine vessel listed on the Vessel Register to foreign registry and flag, unless transfer of the vessel requires approval by the U.S. Maritime Administration.

(k) Use a U.S. fishing vessel over 24 meters in length to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna caught by longline gear in the Convention Area or to fish in contravention of §300.25(a)(4)(i) or (ii).

(l) Use a U.S. fishing vessel over 24 meters in overall length to fish with longline gear in the Pacific Ocean both inside and outside the Convention Area on the same fishing trip in contravention of §300.25(a)(4)(iii).

(m) Fail to stow gear as required in §300.25(a)(4)(iv) or (e)(6).

(n) Use a fishing vessel of class size 4-6 to fish with purse seine gear in the Convention Area in contravention of §300.25(e)(1), (2), or (5).

(o) Use a U.S. longline or purse seine fishing vessel used to fish for HMS within one nautical mile of an anchored data buoy while the fishing vessel is in the Convention Area in contravention of §300.25(f)(1).

(p) Use a U.S. fishing vessel used for fishing for HMS, or any gear, equipment, or watercraft deployed by such a fishing vessel, to interact with a data buoy in the Convention Area in contravention of §300.25(f)(2).

(q) Remove from the water a data buoy and place it on board or tow a data buoy with a U.S. fishing vessel used for fishing for HMS while the vessel is in the Convention Area without authorization by the owner of the data buoy or the owner's authorized representative in contravention of §300.25(f)(3).

(r) In the event of an entanglement of a data buoy with a U.S. fishing vessel, or its fishing gear, equipment, or associated watercraft, used for fishing for HMS in the Convention Area, fail to promptly remove the data buoy with as little damage to the data buoy and its mooring and anchor lines as possible, in contravention of §300.25(f)(4).

(s) Fail to take all reasonable measures to avoid fishing gear entanglement or interaction with drifting data buoys in contravention of §300.25(f)(5).

(t) Use a U.S. fishing vessel to fish for HMS in the Convention Area and retain on board, transship, land, store, sell, or offer for sale any part or whole carcass of an oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) or fail to release unharmed, to the extent practicable, all oceanic whitetip sharks when brought alongside the vessel in contravention of §300.27(d).

(u) Use a United States commercial fishing vessel in the Convention Area to target, retain on board, transship, or land Pacific bluefin tuna in contravention of §300.25(g)(4) through (8) and (g)(10) through (11).

(v) Fail to maintain, submit, or ensure submission of a log that includes all the information required in §300.22(a).

(w) Set or attempt to set a purse seine on or around a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in contravention of §300.27(g).

(x) Fail to release a whale shark encircled in a purse seine net of a fishing vessel as required in §300.27(h).

(y) Fail to install, activate, or operate a VMS unit as required in §300.26(c).

(z) In the event of VMS unit failure or interruption; fail to repair or replace a VMS unit; fail to notify the Special-Agent-In-Charge, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee); and follow the instructions provided; or otherwise fail to act as provided in §300.26(c)(4).

(aa) Disable, destroy, damage or operate improperly a VMS unit installed under §300.26, or attempt to do any of the same, or fail to ensure that its operation is not impeded or interfered with, as provided in §300.26(e).

(bb) Fail to make a VMS unit installed under §300.26 or the position data obtained from it available for inspection, as provided in §300.26 (f) and (g).

(cc) To retain on board, transship, store, land, sell, or offer for sale any part or whole carcass of a mobulid ray, as described in §300.27(i).

(dd) Fail to handle or release a mobulid ray as required in §300.27(j).

(ee) Fail to ensure characters of a unique code are marked indelibly on a FAD deployed or modified on or after January 1, 2017, in accordance with §300.28(a)(2).

(ff) Fail to record or report data on FADs as required in §300.22(a)(3).

(gg) Use a commercial purse seine fishing vessel of the United States to retain on board, transship, store, or land any part or whole carcass of a silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) in contravention of §300.27(e).

(hh) Use a U.S. longline vessel to catch silky shark in contravention of §300.27(f).

(ii) Fail to handle or release a shark as required in §300.27(k).

(jj) Use a shark line in contravention of §300.27(l).

(kk) When deploying a FAD, activate the transmission equipment attached to a FAD in a location other than on a purse seine vessel at sea as required in §300.28(b).

(ll) Fail to turn on the tracking equipment for an Active FAD before deploying at sea as required in §300.28(b).

(mm) Deploy a FAD in the IATTC Convention Area that is not an Active FAD.

(nn) Have more Active FADs than specified in §300.28(c) in the IATTC Convention Area at any one time.

(oo) Deploy a FAD in the IATTC Convention Area during a period of 15 days prior to the start of the selected closure period in contravention of §300.28(d)(1).

(pp) Fail to timely remove from the water a number of FADs in the IATTC Convention Area equal to the number of FADs set upon by the vessel during the 15 days prior to the start of the selected closure period as required in §300.28(d)(2).

(qq) Deploy, or have onboard a vessel, a FAD in the IATTC Convention Area that fails to comply with the FAD design requirements in §300.28(e).

[61 FR 35550, July 5, 1996]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §300.24, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

§300.25   Fisheries management.

(a) Longline tuna catch limits. (1) Fishing seasons for all tuna species begin on 0000 hours Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) January 1 and end either on 2400 hours UTC December 31 or when NMFS closes the fishery for a specific species.

(2) For the calendar years 2018, 2019, 2020, there is a limit of 750 metric tons of bigeye tuna that may be caught by longline gear in the Convention Area by U.S. commercial fishing vessels that are over 24 meters in overall length. The catch limit within a calendar year is subject to increase if the United States receives a transfer of catch limit from another IATTC member or cooperating non-member, per paragraph (a)(5) of this section.

(3) NMFS will project a date the limit of bigeye tuna established under paragraph (a)(2) of this section will be reached (i.e., a closure date) by monitoring longline landings, data submitted in logbooks, and other available information. NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register at least 7 calendar days in advance of that projected closure date announcing that the limit has been reached. The Federal Register notice will specify that the restrictions described in paragraph (a)(4) of this section will be in effect through the end of the calendar year.

(4) Once the closure date is announced, pursuant to paragraph (a)(3) of this section the following restrictions will apply during the period specified in the announcement:

(i) A fishing vessel of the United States over 24 meters in overall length may not be used to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye tuna captured by longline gear in the Convention Area, except as follows:

(A) Any bigeye tuna already on board a U.S. fishing vessel upon the effective closure date may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed, to the extent authorized by applicable laws and regulations, provided that the bigeye tuna is landed within 14 days after the effective closure date.

(B) The 14-day limit is waived in the case of a U.S. fishing vessel that has already declared to NMFS, pursuant to §665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip type is shallow-setting. However, the number of bigeye tuna retained on board, transshipped, or landed must not exceed the number on board the vessel upon the effective closure date, as recorded by the NMFS observer on board the vessel.

(ii) Bigeye tuna caught by a vessel of the United States over 24 meters in overall length and using longline gear in the Convention Area may not be transshipped to a fishing vessel unless that fishing vessel is operated in compliance with a valid permit issued under §660.707 or §665.801 of this title.

(iii) A fishing vessel of the United States over 24 meters in overall length may not be used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using longline gear both inside and outside the Convention Area during the same fishing trip. The only exceptions are: a fishing trip during which the closure date was announced under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, and a trip for which a declaration has been made to NMFS, pursuant to §665.803(a) of this title, that the current trip is shallow-setting.

(iv) If a fishing vessel of the United States over 24 meters in overall length is used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using longline gear outside the Convention Area and the vessel enters the Convention Area at any time during an effective closure period on the same fishing trip, the longline gear on the fishing vessel must be stowed in a manner so as not to be readily available for fishing. Specifically, the hooks, branch or dropper lines, and floats used to buoy the mainline must be stowed and not available for immediate use, and any power-operated mainline hauler on deck must be covered in such a manner that it is not readily available for use. This provision does not apply to trips in which vessels have made a declaration to NMFS, pursuant to §665.803(a) of this title, that the trip type is shallow-setting.

(5) If the United States engages in a transfer of a bigeye tuna catch limit with another IATTC member or cooperating non-member, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the new catch limit that is available to U.S. commercial fishing vessels that are over 24 meters in overall length. All restrictions described in paragraphs (a)(1) and (3) through (4) of this section will continue to apply.

(b) Use of tender vessels. No person subject to these regulations may use a tender vessel in the Convention Area.

(c) Transshipments at sea. No person subject to these regulations may transship purse seine-caught tuna from one vessel to another vessel at sea within the Convention Area.

(d) [Reserved]

(e) Purse seine closures—(1) 72-day closure. A commercial purse seine fishing vessel of the United States that is of class size 4-6 (more than 182 metric tons carrying capacity) may not be used to fish with purse seine gear in the Convention Area for 72 days in each of the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 during one of the following two periods:

(i) From 0000 hours Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) July 29, to 2400 hours UTC October 8, or

(ii) From 0000 hours UTC November 9 to 2400 hours UTC January 19 of the following year.

(2) Choice of closure period. A vessel owner, manager, or association representative of a vessel that is subject to the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section must provide written notification to the Regional Administrator declaring to which one of the two closure periods identified in paragraph (e)(1) of this section his or her vessel will adhere in that year. This written notification must be submitted by fax at (562) 980-4047 or email at RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov and must be received no later than July 1 prior to the first closure period within a calendar year. The written notification must include the vessel name and registration number, the closure dates that will be adhered to by that vessel, and the vessel owner or managing owner's name, signature, business address, and business telephone number.

(3) Default closure period. If written notification is not submitted per paragraph (e)(2) of this section for a vessel subject to the requirements under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, that vessel must adhere to the second closure period under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section.

(4) Request for exemption due to force majeure. A request for exemption due to force majeure must be made to the Sustainable Fisheries Division within 20 calendar days after the vessel has been unable to proceed to sea for 72 days by fax at (562) 980-4047 or emailed to RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov. The request must include the name and official number of the vessel, vessel owner or manager's name and signature, and evidence to support the request, which may include but is not limited to photographs, repair bills, certificates of departure from port, and in the case of a marine casualty, a completed copy of the U.S. Coast Guard Form CG-2692A (See 46 CFR 4.05-10).

(i) If accepted by the Sustainable Fisheries Division, the request for exemption due to force majeure will be forwarded to the IATTC Director. If declined by the Sustainable Fisheries Division, within 10 days of the date of that rejection, the applicant may give additional information or documentation to the Regional Administrator with a request that the initial decision be reconsidered by fax at (562) 980-4047 or email to RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov; the Regional Administrator shall respond within 14 business days.

(ii) If the request for an exemption due to force majeure is accepted by the IATTC, the vessel must observe a closure period of 40 consecutive days in the same year during which the force majeure event occurred, in one of the two closure periods described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section.

(iii) If the request for an exemption due to force majeure is accepted by the IATTC and the vessel has already observed a closure period described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section in the same year during which the force majeure event occurred, the vessel must observe a closure period of 40 consecutive days the following year the force majeure event occurred, in one of the two closure periods described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section.

(iv) Any purse seine vessel, for which a force majeure request is accepted by the IATTC, must carry an observer aboard authorized pursuant to the International Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program.

(5) 31-day area closure. A fishing vessel of the United States of class size 4-6 (more than 182 metric tons carrying capacity) may not be used from 0000 hours on October 9 to 2400 hours on November 8 in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to fish with purse seine gear within the area bounded at the east and west by 96° and 110° W longitude and bounded at the north and south by 4° N and 3° S latitude.

(6) Requirement to stow gear. At all times while a vessel is in a time/area closed period established under paragraphs (e)(1) or (5) of this section, unless fishing under the exception under paragraph (e)(4) of this section, the fishing gear of the vessel must be stowed in a manner as not to be readily available for fishing. In particular, the boom must be lowered as far as possible so that the vessel cannot be used for fishing, but so that the skiff is accessible for use in emergency situations; the helicopter, if any, must be tied down; and launches must be secured.

(f) Restrictions on fishing in proximity to data buoys. (1) A longline or purse seine fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to fish for HMS within one nautical mile of an anchored data buoy in the Convention Area. The one-nautical-mile distance shall be measured from the data buoy to the nearest portion of the fishing vessel or items associated with the fishing vessel, such as gear or watercraft deployed by the fishing vessel, to the data buoy. This prohibition shall not apply if and when the fishing vessel is operated as part of a scientific research program that has received specific authorization by the IATTC or is conducting work on behalf of the IATTC.

(2) A fishing vessel of the United States used to fish for HMS, or any fishing gear, equipment, or watercraft deployed by such a fishing vessel, may not be used to interact with a data buoy while the fishing vessel is in the Convention Area. Interact with a data buoy means to engage in conduct that could impair the functioning of a data buoy through actions that include but that are not limited to the following: encircling the buoy with fishing gear; tying up to or attaching the vessel, or any fishing gear, part or portion of the fishing vessel, including equipment such as watercraft, to a data buoy or its mooring; or cutting a data buoy anchor line.

(3) A vessel operator, crew member, or other persons on board a fishing vessel of the United States that is used to fish for HMS may not remove a data buoy or any parts thereof from the water and place it on board the fishing vessel or tow a data buoy when in the Convention Area unless authorized to do so by the owner of the data buoy or an authorized representative or agent of the owner. When practicable, advance written authorization must be available onboard a U.S. fishing vessel that has taken on board or tows a data buoy. In all other cases, a written document (e.g., fax, email) verifying the authorization must be obtained by the vessel owner or operator within 15 days of landing.

(4) In the event that a fishing vessel of the United States that is used to fish for HMS or any of its fishing gear, equipment, or associated watercraft, becomes entangled with a data buoy while the fishing vessel is in the Convention Area, the owner and operator of the fishing vessel must promptly remove the entangled fishing vessel, fishing gear, equipment, or associated watercraft with as little damage to the data buoy and its mooring and anchor lines as possible.

(5) A vessel operator, crew member, or other persons on board a fishing vessel of the United States that is used to fish for HMS must take all reasonable measures to avoid fishing gear entanglement or interaction with drifting data buoys.

(g) Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) commercial catch limits in the eastern Pacific Ocean for 2019-2020. The following is applicable to the U.S. commercial fishery for Pacific bluefin tuna in the Convention Area in the years 2019 and 2020.

(1) The 2019-2020 biennial limit is 630 metric tons.

(2) For the calendar year 2019, all commercial fishing vessels of the United States combined may capture, retain, transship, or land no more than 425 metric tons.

(3) In 2020, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the 2020 catch limit. For the calendar year 2020, all commercial fishing vessels of the United States combined may capture, retain on board, transship, or land no more than the 2020 annual catch limit. The 2020 catch limit is the lesser of: The 2019-2020 biennial limit reduced by the amount caught by U.S. commercial vessels in 2019; or 425 metric tons.

(4) In 2019 and 2020, a 15-metric ton trip limit will be in effect until NMFS anticipates that catch will be within 50 metric tons of the catch limit, after which a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(8) of this section. In 2020, if the catch limit is 125 mt or less, a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect for the entire calendar year.

(5) After NMFS determines that the catch limits under paragraphs (g)(2) and (3) of this section are expected to be reached, NMFS will close the fishery effective upon the date and time provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(9) of this section. Upon the effective date in the actual notice, targeting, retaining on board, transshipping, or landing Pacific bluefin tuna in the Convention Area shall be prohibited, as described in paragraph (g)(6) of this section.

(6) After NMFS determines that the catch limits under paragraph (g)(4) of this section are expected to be reached, a 2 mt trip limit will be in effect upon the date and time provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(9) of this section. Pacific bluefin tuna in excess of 2 mt already on board a vessel on the effective date and time of the actual notice may be landed within 48 hours of the effective date and time provided in the actual notice, provided a pre-trip notification has been submitted to NMFS.

(7) Beginning on the date provided in the actual notice of the fishing closure announced under paragraph (g)(5) of this section, a commercial fishing vessel of the United States may not be used to target, retain on board, transship, or land Pacific bluefin tuna captured in the Convention Area through the end of the calendar year, with the exception that any Pacific bluefin tuna already on board a fishing vessel on the effective date of the notice may be retained on board, transshipped, and/or landed within 14 days after the effective date published in the fishing closure notice, to the extent authorized by applicable laws and regulations.

(8) If an inseason action taken under paragraphs (g)(4), (5), (6), or (7) of this section is based on overestimate of actual catch, NMFS will reverse that action in the timeliest possible manner, provided NMFS finds that reversing that action is consistent with the management objectives for the affected species. The fishery will reopen effective on the date provided in the actual notice in accordance with paragraph (g)(9) of this section.

(9) Inseason actions taken under paragraphs (g)(4), (5), (6), (7), and (8) of this section will be by actual notice from posting on the National Marine Fisheries Service website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/west-coast/commercial-fishing/pacific-bluefin-tuna-commercial-harvest-status) and a United States Coast Guard Notice to Mariners. The Notice to Mariners will be broadcast three times daily for four days. This action will also be published in the Federal Register as soon as practicable. Inseason actions will be effective from the time specified in the actual notice of the action (i.e., website posting and United States Coast Guard Notice to Mariners), unless the inseason action is published in the Federal Register at an earlier time.

(10) For a purse seine vessel to retain or land greater than 2 metric tons of Pacific bluefin tuna while the 15-metric ton trip limit is in effect, the vessel owner or operator must provide a pre-trip notification to NMFS 24 hours in advance of departing on the fishing trip. The notification shall be made to NMFS at pbf.notifications@noaa.gov, and must include the owner or operator's name, contact information, vessel name, port of departure, and intended date and time of departure.

(11) As of July 1, 2019, if landing Pacific bluefin tuna into the State of California, fish landing receipts (i.e., E-tickets) must be submitted within 24 hours to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in accordance with the requirements of applicable State regulations.

[64 FR 44431, Aug. 16, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §300.25, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

§300.26   Vessel monitoring system (VMS).

(a) Assistant Director (AD), NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee) and VMS Helpdesk contact information and business hours. (1) The contact information for the AD for the purpose of this section: 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone: (808) 725-6100; facsimile: 808-725-6199; email: pidvms@noaa.gov; business hours: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time.

(2) The contact information for the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk is telephone: (888) 219-9228, ext. 2; email: ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov. The business hours of the VMS Helpdesk are Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.

(b) Applicability. This section applies to any U.S. commercial fishing vessel that is 24 meters or more in overall length and engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area, and for which either of the following permits is required: Pacific highly migratory species permit under §660.707, or high seas fishing permit under §300.13 of this part.

(c) Provisions for Installation, Activation and Operation—(1) VMS Unit Installation. The vessel owner or operator must obtain and have installed on the fishing vessel, in accordance with instructions provided by the AD and the VMS unit manufacturer, a VMS unit that is type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in the IATTC Convention Area. The vessel owner or operator shall arrange for a NOAA-approved mobile communications service provider to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit to NOAA at a default reporting interval of at least once per hour. NOAA, the USCG, and other authorized entities are authorized to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit. The NOAA OLE VMS Helpdesk is available to provide instructions for VMS installation and a list of the current type-approved VMS units and mobile communication service providers.

(2) VMS Unit Activation. If the VMS unit has not yet been activated as described in this paragraph, or if the VMS unit has been newly installed or reinstalled, or if the mobile communications service provider has changed since the previous activation, or if directed by the AD, the vessel owner or operator must, prior to leaving port:

(i) Turn on the VMS unit to make it operational;

(ii) Submit a written activation report to the AD, via mail, facsimile or email, that includes the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; the VMS unit manufacturer and identification number; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator; and

(iii) Receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD that the proper VMS unit transmissions are being received from the VMS unit.

(3) VMS Unit Operation. The vessel owner and operator shall continuously operate the VMS unit at all times, except that the VMS unit may be shut down while the vessel is in port or otherwise not at sea, or if, after the end of the fishing season, the vessel will no longer be engaging in fishing activities in the Convention Area for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or a high seas fishing permit is required, provided that the owner or operator:

(i) Prior to shutting down the VMS unit, reports to the AD or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk via facsimile, email, or web-form the following information: The intent to shut down the VMS unit; the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; an estimate for when the vessel's VMS may be turned back on; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator. In addition, the vessel owner or operator shall receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD before shutting down the VMS unit after the end of the fishing season; and

(ii) When turning the VMS unit back on, report to the AD or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk, via mail, facsimile or email, the following information: That the VMS unit has been turned on; the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator; and

(iii) Prior to leaving port, receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD that proper transmissions are being received from the VMS unit.

(4) Failure of VMS unit. If the VMS unit has become inoperable or transmission of automatic position reports from the VMS unit has been interrupted, or if notified by NOAA or the USCG that automatic position reports are not being received from the VMS unit or that an inspection of the VMS unit has revealed a problem with the performance of the VMS unit, the vessel owner or operator shall comply with the following requirements:

(i) If the vessel is at port: The vessel owner or operator shall repair or replace the VMS unit and ensure it is operable before the vessel leaves port.

(ii) If the vessel is at sea: The vessel owner, operator, or designee shall contact the AD by telephone, facsimile, or email at the earliest opportunity during the AD's business hours and identify the caller and vessel. The vessel operator shall follow the instructions provided by the AD which could include, but are not limited to, ceasing fishing, stowing fishing gear, returning to port, and/or submitting periodic position reports at specified intervals by other means; and repair or replace the VMS unit and ensure it is operable before starting the next trip.

(5) Related VMS Requirements. Installing, carrying and operating a VMS unit in compliance with the requirements in part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665 of this title relating to the installation, carrying, and operation of VMS units shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements of this paragraph (c), provided that the VMS unit is operated continuously and at all times while the vessel is at sea, unless the AD authorizes a VMS unit to be shut down as described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, the VMS unit and mobile communications service providers are type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in IATTC Convention Area, and the specific requirements of paragraph (c)(4) of this section are followed. If the VMS unit is owned by NOAA, the requirement under paragraph (c)(4) of this section to repair or replace the VMS unit will be the responsibility of NOAA, but the vessel owner and operator shall be responsible for ensuring that the VMS unit is operable before leaving port or starting the next trip.

(d) Costs. The vessel owner and operator shall be responsible for all costs associated with the purchase, installation and maintenance of the VMS unit and for all charges levied by the mobile communications service provider as necessary to ensure the transmission of automatic position reports to NOAA as required in paragraph (c) of this section. However, if NOAA is paying for the VMS-associated costs because the VMS unit is carried and operated under a requirement of part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665 of this title, the vessel owner and operator shall not be responsible for costs that those regulations specify are the responsibility of NOAA. In addition, NOAA is responsible for the cost of any temporary increase in the default reporting interval to support active enforcement investigations of specific vessels.

(e) Tampering. The vessel owner and operator must ensure that the VMS unit is not tampered with, disabled, destroyed, damaged or maintained improperly, and that its operation is not impeded or interfered with.

(f) Inspection. The vessel owner and operator must make the VMS unit, including its antenna, connectors and antenna cable, available for inspection by authorized officers.

(g) Access to data. The vessel owner and operator must make the vessel's position data obtained from the VMS unit or other means immediately and always available for inspection by NOAA personnel, USCG personnel, and authorized officers.

[80 FR 60538, Oct. 7, 2015]

§300.27   Incidental catch and tuna retention requirements.

(a) Tuna retention requirements for purse seine vessels. Bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna caught in the Convention Area by a fishing vessel of the United States of class size 4-6 (more than 182 metric tons carrying capacity) using purse seine gear must be retained on board and landed, except for fish deemed unfit for human consumption for reasons other than size. This requirement shall not apply to the last set of a trip if the available well capacity is insufficient to accommodate the entire catch.

(b) Release requirements for non-tuna species on purse seine vessels. All purse seine vessels must release all billfish, ray (not including mobulid rays, which are subject to paragraph (i) of this section), dorado (Coryphaena hippurus), and other non-tuna fish species, except those being retained for consumption aboard the vessel, as soon as practicable after being identified on board the vessel during the brailing operation. Sharks caught in the IATTC Convention Area and that are not retained for consumption aboard the vessel must be released according to the requirements in paragraph (k) of this section.

(c) Sea turtle handling and release. All purse seine vessels must apply special sea turtle handling and release requirements, as follows:

(1) Whenever a sea turtle is sighted in the net, a speedboat shall be stationed close to the point where the net is lifted out of the water to assist in release of the sea turtle;

(2) If a sea turtle is entangled in the net, net roll shall stop as soon as the sea turtle comes out of the water and shall not resume until the sea turtle has been disentangled and released;

(3) If, in spite of the measures taken under paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of this section, a sea turtle is accidentally brought on board the vessel alive and active, the vessel's engine shall be disengaged and the sea turtle shall be released as quickly as practicable;

(4) If a sea turtle brought on board under paragraph (c)(3) of this section is alive but comatose or inactive, the resuscitation procedures described in §223.206(d)(1)(i)(B) of this title shall be used before release of the turtle.

(d) Oceanic whitetip shark restrictions. The crew, operator, or owner of a fishing vessel of the United States used to fish for HMS in the Convention Area shall be prohibited from retaining on board, transshipping, landing, storing, selling, or offering for sale any part or whole carcass of an oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) and must release unharmed, to the extent practicable, all oceanic whitetip sharks when brought alongside the vessel.

(e) Silky shark restrictions for purse seine vessels. The crew, operator, and owner of a commercial purse seine fishing vessel of the United States used to fish for tuna or tuna-like species is prohibited from retaining on board, transshipping, storing, or landing any part or whole carcass of a silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) that is caught in the Convention Area.

(f) Silky shark restrictions for longline vessels. The crew, operator, and owner of a longline vessel of the United States used to fish for tuna or tuna-like species must limit the retained catch of silky sharks caught in the IATTC Convention Area to a maximum of 20 percent in weight of the total catch during each fishing trip that occurs in whole or in part in the IATTC Convention Area.

(g) Whale shark restrictions for purse seine vessels. Owners, operators, and crew of fishing vessels of the United States commercially fishing for tuna in the Convention Area may not set or attempt to set a purse seine on or around a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) if the animal is sighted prior to the commencement of the set or the attempted set.

(h) Whale shark release. The crew, operator, and owner of a fishing vessel of the United States commercially fishing for tuna in the Convention Area must release as soon as possible, any whale shark that is encircled in a purse seine net, and must ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure its safe release. No whale shark may be towed out of a purse seine net (e.g., using towing ropes).

(i) Mobulid ray restrictions. The crew, operator, and owner of a U.S. commercial fishing vessel is prohibited from retaining on board, transshipping, storing, landing, selling, or offering for sale any part or whole carcass of a mobulid ray that is caught in the IATTC Convention Area, except as provided in the following sentence. In the case of any mobulid ray caught in the IATTC Convention Area on an observed purse seine vessel that is not seen during fishing operations and is delivered into the vessel hold, the mobulid ray may be stored on board and landed, but the vessel owner or operator must show the whole mobulid ray to the on-board observer at the point of landing for recording purposes, and then dispose of the mobulid ray at the direction of the responsible government authority. In U.S. ports the responsible governmental authority is the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement divisional office nearest to the port, or other authorized personnel. Mobulid rays that are caught and landed in this manner may not be sold or bartered, but may be donated for purposes of domestic human consumption consistent with relevant laws and policies.

(j) Mobulid ray handling and release. The crew, operator, and owner of a U.S. commercial fishing vessel must promptly release unharmed, to the extent practicable, any mobulid ray (whether live or dead) caught in the IATTC Convention Area as soon as it is seen in the net, on the hook, or on the deck, without compromising the safety of any persons. If a mobulid ray is live when caught, the crew, operator, and owner of a U.S. commercial fishing vessel must use the release procedures described in the following two paragraphs.

(1) No mobulid ray may be gaffed, no mobulid ray may be lifted by the gill slits or spiracles or by using bind wire against or inserted through the body, and no holes may be punched through the bodies of mobulid ray (e.g., to pass a cable through for lifting the mobulid ray).

(2) Applicable to purse seine operations, large mobulid rays must be brailed out of the net by directly releasing the mobulid ray from the brailer into the ocean. Large mobulid rays that cannot be released without compromising the safety of persons or the mobulid ray before being landed on deck, must be returned to the water as soon as possible, either utilizing a ramp from the deck connecting to an opening on the side of the boat, or lowered with a sling or net, using a crane if available. The minimum size for the sling or net must be at least 25 feet in diameter.

(k) Shark handling and release requirements for purse seine vessels. The crew, operator, and owner of a U.S. commercial purse seine fishing vessel must promptly release unharmed, to the extent practicable, any shark (whether live or dead) caught in the IATTC Convention Area, as soon as it is seen in the net or on the deck, without compromising the safety of any persons. If a shark is live when caught, the crew, operator, or owner must follow release procedures in the following two paragraphs.

(1) Sharks must be released out of the purse seine net by directly releasing the shark from the brailer into the ocean. Sharks that cannot be released without compromising the safety of persons or the sharks before being landed on deck must be returned to the water as soon as possible, either utilizing a ramp from the deck connecting to an opening on the side of the boat, or through escape hatches. If ramps or escape hatches are not available, the sharks must be lowered with a sling or cargo net, using a crane or similar equipment, if available.

(2) No shark may be gaffed or hooked, lifted by the head, tail, gill slits or spiracles, or lifted by using bind wire against or inserted through the body, and no holes may be punched through the bodies of sharks (e.g., to pass a cable through for lifting the shark).

(l) Shark line prohibition for longline vessels. Any U.S. longline vessel used to fish for tuna or swordfish is prohibited from using any shark line in the IATTC Convention Area.

[81 FR 50403, Aug. 1, 2016, as amended at 81 FR 86970, Dec. 2, 2016; 82 FR 56178, Nov. 28, 2017]

§300.28   FAD restrictions.

(a) FAD identification requirements for purse seine vessels. (1) For each FAD deployed or modified on or after January 1, 2017, in the IATTC Convention Area, the vessel owner or operator must either: obtain a unique code from HMS Branch; or use an existing unique identifier associated with the FAD (e.g., the manufacturer identification code for the attached buoy).

(2) U.S. purse seine vessel owners and operators shall ensure the characters of the unique code or unique identifier be marked indelibly at least five centimeters in height on the upper portion of the attached radio or satellite buoy in a location that does not cover the solar cells used to power the equipment. For FADs without attached radio or satellite buoys, the characters shall be on the uppermost or emergent top portion of the FAD. The vessel owner or operator shall ensure the marking is visible at all times during daylight. In circumstances where the on-board observer is unable to view the code, the captain or crew shall assist the observer (e.g., by providing the FAD identification code to the observer).

(b) Activating FADs for purse seine vessels. When deploying a FAD, a vessel owner, operator, or crew shall turn on the tracking equipment while the FAD is onboard the purse seine vessel and before it is deployed in the water.

(c) Restrictions on Active FADs for purse seine vessels. U.S. vessel owners and operators of purse-seine vessels with the following well volume (m3) must not have more than the following number of Active FADs per vessel in the IATTC Convention Area at any one time:

Well volume
(m3)
Active FAD limit
1,200 or more450
426-1,199300
213-425120
0-21270

(d) Restrictions on FAD deployments and removals. (1) U.S. vessel owners, operators, and crew of purse seine vessels of class size 4-6 (more than 182 metric tons carrying capacity) must not deploy a FAD during a period of 15 days prior to the start of the selected closure period described in §300.25(e)(1).

(2) During the 15 days prior to the start of the closure period selected by the vessel per §300.25(e)(1), U.S. vessel owners, operators, and crew of purse seine vessels of class size 6 (greater than 363 metric tons carrying capacity) must remove from the water a number of FADs equal to the number of FADs set upon by the vessel during that same 15 day period.

(e) FAD design requirements to reduce entanglements. All FADs onboard or deployed by U.S. vessel owners, operators, or crew, must comply with the following design requirements:

(1) Raft: If the FAD design includes a raft (e.g., flat raft or rolls of material) and if mesh netting is used as part of the structure, the mesh netting shall have a mesh size less than 7 centimeters and the mesh net must be tightly wrapped such that no netting hangs below the FAD when deployed; and,

(2) Subsurface: Any netting used in the subsurface structure of the FAD must be tightly tied into bundles (“sausages”), or have stretched mesh size less than 7 centimeters in a panel that is weighted on the lower end with at least enough weight to keep the netting taut in the water column.

[83 FR 15510, Apr. 11, 2018, as amended at 83 FR 62734, Dec. 6, 2018]

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