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Title 50

Displaying title 50, up to date as of 9/16/2021. Title 50 was last amended 9/16/2021.

Title 50

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§ 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 calendar year 2021, 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 calendar year 2021 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 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 . 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 ; 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, 2021, to 2400 hours on November 8, 2021, 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 2021. The following is applicable to the U.S. commercial fishery for Pacific bluefin tuna in the Convention Area in the year 2021.

(1) All commercial fishing vessels of the United States combined may capture, retain, transship, or land no more than 425 metric tons.

(2) A 20-metric ton trip limit will be in effect until any of the following criteria are met:

(i) If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 250 metric tons during January through March, a 15-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section. If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 325 metric tons during January through March, a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section.

(ii) If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 275 metric tons during April through June, a 15-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section. If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 350 metric tons during April through June, a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section.

(iii) If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 300 metric tons during July through September, a 15-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section. If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 375 metric tons during July through September, a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section.

(iv) If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 325 metric tons during October through December, a 15-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section. If NMFS anticipates cumulative catch will reach 375 metric tons during October through December, a 2-metric ton trip limit will be in effect upon the effective date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section.

(3) After NMFS determines that the catch limit under paragraph (g)(1) of this section is expected to be reached, NMFS will close the fishery effective upon the date provided in the actual notice, in accordance with paragraph (g)(6) of this section. Upon the effective date in the actual notice, targeting, retaining on board, transshipping, or landing Pacific bluefin tuna captured in the Convention Area shall be prohibited as described in paragraph (g)(4) of this section.

(4) Beginning on the date provided in the actual notice of the fishing closure announced under paragraph (g)(3) 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. 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.

(5) If an inseason action taken under paragraph (g)(2), (3), or (4) 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)(6) of this section.

(6) Inseason actions taken under paragraphs (g)(2), (3), (4), and (5) of this section will be by actual notice from posting on the NMFS website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/west-coast/sustainable-fisheries/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 4 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), or at the time the inseason action published in the Federal Register is effective, whichever comes first.

(7) If landing Pacific bluefin tuna into the State of California, fish landing receipts must be submitted to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in accordance with the requirements of applicable State law and regulations, with the exception that the submission must occur within 24 hours of landing.

[64 FR 44431, Aug. 16, 1999]