[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 39 (Wednesday, February 27, 2002)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8927-8930]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-4674]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[I.D. 021902D]


Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings

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

ACTION: Notice of public meetings/public hearings.

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SUMMARY: The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council)and 
its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will meet in March (see 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for specific times, dates, and agenda items).

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ADDRESSES: The SSC meeting will be held in the Council conference room, 
1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI; telephone: (808) 522-
8220. The Council meeting and the hearings will be held at the Ala 
Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu, HI; telephone: 808-955-4811.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kitty M. Simonds, Executive Director; 
telephone: 808-522-8220.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Dates and Locations

Scientific and Statistical Committee

    The SSC will meet Tuesday, March 12 through 14, 2002, from 8:30 
a.m. to 5 p.m. Public comment periods will be provided throughout the 
meeting. The order in which agenda items are addressed may change. The 
SSC will meet as late as necessary to complete scheduled business.
    The agenda for the SSC will include the items listed here:
    1. Introductions
    2. Approval of draft agenda and assignment of rapporteurs
    3. Approval of the minutes of the 78th meeting
    4. Crustaceans fisheries (NWHI lobsters)
    A. Report on the modeling workshop
    5. Bottom Fisheries
    A. Research
    (i) Acoustic research
    (ii) Ulua/other species tagging
    B. Report on main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) bottomfish area closures
    C. NWHI amendment to adjustment permit renewal criteria
    6. Hawaiian Monk Seals
    A. Quarterly report on activities of the Marine Mammal Recovery 
Plan (MMRP)
    (i) Update on the population status/monitoring efforts
    (ii) Update on new/ongoing research
    (iii) Findings from the foraging ecology workshop
    (iv) Results from the shark culling project in the NWHI
    B. Report on the progress of the recovery team meeting
    C. Update on the satellite tagging of great white sharks
    7. Pelagic Fisheries
    A. 4th quarter 2001 Hawaii and American Samoa longline fishery 
reports
    B. Options for managing Cross Seamount/NOAA weather buoy fishery
    C. American Samoa
    (i) Closed area final rule
    (ii)Limited entry program
    D. Sea turtle conservation and management
    (i) Workshop and findings
    (ii) Sea turtle research
    (a) Section 10 permitted Honolulu lab mitigation research
    (b) Honolulu Lab turtle population modeling workshops
    (c) Estimated incidental catches of turtles in Hawaii longline 
fishery
    (iii) FMP regulatory amendment implementing turtle Biological 
Opinion/New Biological Opinion
    (iv) Implementation status of Pacific sea turtle recovery plan 
action items
    E. Seabird conservation and management
    (i) Underwater setting chute deployment in Hawaii longline fishery
    (ii) Update on seabird breeding populations in the Western Pacific 
Region
    (iii) Update on U.S. Geological Service demographic modeling of 
North Pacific Albatross populations
    (iv) Estimated incidental catches of seabirds in Hawaii longline 
fishery
    (v) FMP regulatory amendment implementing Short-tail albatross 
Biological Opinion
    (vi) Update on National Plan of Action requirements
    F. Redrafting of Amendment 9 to the Pelagic Fishery Management Plan 
for shark management measures
    G. Report on International Meetings Co Interim Scientific Committee 
(ISC) for tuna and tuna-like species in the North Pacific Ocean 
prepatory conference, Pelagic fisheries research program protected 
species modeling workshop
    8. Precious Corals Fisheries
    A. Report on research at Makapu'u
    9. Ecosystem and Habitat
    A. Inclusion Amendment EFH alternative, final meeting
    B. State of Hawaii NWHI fishery management area regulatory proposal
    C. Reef fish stock assessment workshop
    D. Marine Protected Area (MPA)related studies
    E. MPA working group report
    10. Other Business
    A. Comprehensive Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) amendments for 
bycatch, overfishing and communities
    B. NMFS cooperative research
    C. Council/NMFS long term research planning for Western Pacific 
Region
    D. New NMFS Pacific Islands Region
    E. Council's 5 year program plan
    11. Summary of Recommendations to Council
    12. SSC meeting Schedule for 2002

Public Hearings

    Public hearings will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, 2002, 
for final action on inclusion amendment to consider EFH alternatives; 
at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2002, for initial action adjustment 
to NWHI bottomfish annual landing requirements; at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 
March 20, 2002, for American Samoa limited entry and Cross Seamount 
management options; and at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, 2002, for 
final action on revisions to the comprehensive SFA amendment that will 
define overfishing, bycatch and communities.

Committee Meetings

    The following Standing Committees of the Council will meet on March 
18, 2002. Enforcement/Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) from 8 a.m. to 10 
a.m.; Fishery Rights of Indigenous People from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; 
International Fisheries/Pelagics from 10 a.m. to 12 noon; Precious 
Corals from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Crustaceans from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.; 
Bottomfish from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m; Ecosystem and Habitat from 3 p.m. 
to 4:30 p.m.; Research from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Executive/Budget and 
Program from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    In addition, the Council will hear recommendations from its 
advisory panels, plan teams, SSC, and other ad hoc groups. Public 
comment periods will be provided throughout the agenda. The order in 
which agenda items are addressed may change. The Council will meet as 
late as necessary to complete scheduled business.
    The agenda during the full Council meeting will include the items 
listed here:
    1. Introductions
    2. Approval of agenda
    3. Approval of 111th meeting minutes
    4. Island reports
    A. American Samoa
    B. Guam
    C. Hawaii
    D. CNMI
    5. Federal fishery agency and organization reports
    A. Department of Commerce
    (1) NMFS
    (a) Southwest Region, Pacific Islands Area Office
    (b) Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla and Honolulu 
Laboratories
    (2) NOAA General Counsel, Southwest Region
    (3) National Ocean Service NWHI sanctuary designation
    B. Department of the Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    C. U.S. State Department
    6. Enforcement/Vessel monitoring systems (VMS)
    A. Report on U.S. Coast Guard activities
    B. Report on NMFS activities
    C. Commonwealth, Territories and State Activities

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    D. Status of violations
    E. Report on VMS/Enforcement meeting
    7. Ecosystems and Habitat
    A. Report on the status of the Coral Reef Ecosystems Fishery 
Management Plan
    B. State of Hawaii NWHI fishery management area regulatory 
proposal/Memorandum of Agreement
    C. EFH Final Rule
    D. EFH Consultation update
    E. EFH alternatives requirements for new bottomfish species
    F. Invasive Species
    (i) Major Issues
    (ii) Discussion of potential mitigation measures
    G. MPAs
    (i) MPA related studies
    (ii) MPA working group report
    H. Vessel Grounding Workshop report
    I. Public Hearing
    The Council will hold a public hearing on an amendment to include 
as managed areas, CNMI and the PRIAs exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 
under the Fishery Management Plans (FMP) for Crustaceans, Bottomfish 
and Seamount Groundfish, and Precious Corals Fisheries of the Western 
Pacific Region. The amendment will allow fishery management measures 
under these FMPs to be applied in these areas.
    The amendment will also designate 49 additional management unit 
species for the Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish FMP. The inclusion 
of these species will provide for a more accurate representation of the 
species currently being harvested by bottomfish fisheries operating in 
the Western Pacific Region. EFH for these new species will also be 
designated by this amendment.
    8. Crustaceans Fisheries
    A. Report on the modeling workshop
    B. Status of Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Biological 
Opinion
    9. Precious Corals Fisheries
    A. November 2001 Research at Makapu'u
    B. Status of framework measures
    10. Guest Speaker: Eldon Hout Co NOAA Services
    11. Observer Program
    A. NMFS Pacific Islands Area Office
    (i) Bottomfish
    (ii) American Samoa
    (iii) Hawaii longline
    B. Native Observer Program
    12. Hawaiian Monk Seals
    A. Status of revised recovery plan, delisting criteria and recovery 
team
    B. MMRP quarterly report
    (i) Update on the population status/monitoring efforts
    (ii) Update on new/ongoing research
    (iii) Findings from the foraging ecology workshop
    (iv) Results from the shark culling project in the NWHI
    (v) Update on Hawaiian monk seal models
    C. Update on the satellite tagging of great white sharks
    13. Bottomfish Fisheries
    A. NWHI Framework Action: adjustment to landing requirements
    B. Status of Biological Opinion and Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement
    C. Report on MHI area closures
    D. Acoustics research
    E. Public hearing
    The Council will consider an amendment to its Fishery Management 
Plan for Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fisheries of the Western 
Pacific Region to modify the annual landing requirements or permit 
renewal and prohibitions on the lease and charter of permits from the 
NWHI Ho'omalu and Mau zone management regimes. The Council expects that 
these adjustments will best address the key objectives to maintain 
opportunities for small scale fisheries, maintain availability of high-
quality fresh bottomfish, and balance harvest capacity with harvestable 
fishery stocks. The basic approach is to structure the permit system so 
that evidence of participation is used for new entry and the total 
number of permits are maintained at target levels.
    14. Fishery rights of indigenous peoples
    A. Marine conservation plans
    B. Report on Community demonstration projects
    C. Community development program
    15. Pelagic Fisheries
    A. 4th quarter 2001 Hawaii and American Samoa longline reports
    B. American Samoa longline fishery management
    (i) Closed area final rule
    (ii) Limited entry program
    C. Options for managing Cross Seamount/NOAA weather buoy fishery
    D. Public hearing
    The Council will hold a public hearing on American Samoa limited 
entry and Cross Seamount management options. The number of fishing 
vessels participating in the American Samoa longline fishery doubled in 
2001, and the level of fishing effort in terms of hooks set quadrupled. 
The new entrants comprised mainly large conventional longliners which 
are fifty feet or larger, as opposed to the small 30-40 ft (9.144-
12.192 m)outboard-powered alia-catamarans with hand deployed longline 
gear with which the American Samoa fishery originated.
    In 2002 the Council implemented a 50 nm-area closure around the 
American Samoa islands which excludes longline vessels larger than 50 
ft (15.2 m). However there are concerns about unconstrained entry of 
fishing vessels into the American Samoa fishery. Unlike Hawaii, fishing 
vessels in the American Samoa fishery are confined to fishing within 
the EEZ, and gear conflict and competition for resources are likely to 
increase as the level of fishing increases. Consequently, the Council 
is developing a limited entry program for the fishery, and this will be 
the initial Council meeting in the fishery management plan amendment 
process at which alternatives will be discussed and comments solicited 
from the public.
    The offshore tuna handline fishery in Hawaii, based primarily on 
the Cross Seamount, continues to generate concerns due to the high 
volume of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tunas caught at this location, 
and its effects on tuna stocks around Hawaii. Handline fishermen using 
the Cross Seamount have in the past expressed concerns about longline 
vessels fishing in the same location, due to gear interactions and 
safety at-sea issues. Concerns were also expressed about uncontrolled 
entry into the handline fishery by longline vessels displaced by recent 
management measures imposed on the Hawaii-based longline fishery.
    The Council responded in part by implementing a new control date 
for the fishery of July 15, 2000. More recently, the downturn in the 
economy may lead to an increase in the level of new entrants into to 
the Cross Seamount fishery from other fishery sectors. The Council 
wants to consider management options for the Cross Seamount for the 
various fisheries that participate in fishing at this location. The 
Council will prepare an options paper for consideration at the 112th 
Council meeting and take comments from the public on the options 
therein. The Council may wish to proceed with the development of 
management alternatives for fisheries that make use of the Cross 
Seamount and request that this topic be placed on the agenda for the 
next Council meeting.
    E. Litigation
    F. Sea turtle conservation and management
    (i) Cooperative sea turtle research and conservation workshop
    (ii) Research (progress since October 2001)
    (a) Status of field experiments to reduce longline turtle bycatch
    (b) Laboratory research to reduce longline turtle bycatch
    (c) Turtle population biology workshops
    (d) Estimated incidental catches of turtles in Hawaii longline 
fishery

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    (iii) FMP regulatory amendment implementing turtle Biological 
Opinion
    (iv) Implementation status of Pacific sea turtle recovery plan 
action items
    G. Seabird conservation and management
    (i) Underwater setting chute deployment in Hawaii longline fishery
    (ii) Estimated incidental catches of seabirds in Hawaii longline 
fishery
    (iii) FMP regulatory amendment implementing Short-tail albatross 
Biological Opinion
    (iv) Update on National Plan of Action requirements
    H. Sharks
    (i) Shark finning regulations final rule
    (ii) Redrafting of Amendment 9 to the Pelagic Fishery Management 
Plan for shark management measures
    I. International meetings
    (i) ISC
    (ii) Second International Fishers Forum
    16. Program planning
    A. NMFS cooperative research
    B. Education initiatives
    C. Comprehensive Sustainable Fisheries Amendment (SFA) revisions to 
define overfishing, bycatch and communities
    D. Funding allocations
    (ii) Pelagics
    E. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (5 
year review)
    F. Digital video monitoring pilot project
    G. Council/NMFS long term research planning for the Western Pacific 
Region
    H. New NMFS Pacific Island Region
    I. NWHI Hokule'a voyage
    K. Public hearing on Comprehensive SFA amendment revisions.
    In 1998, the Council submitted a comprehensive amendment to all the 
Council's fishery management plans, which was generated in response to 
the 1996 re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This amendment 
received only partial approval. The disapproved sections included 
maximum sustainable yield and overfishing reference points for 
bottomfish, crustaceans and pelagics, bycatch provisions for bottomfish 
and pelagics, and the definition of Hawaii as a single fishing 
community. The Council has addressed NMFS' concerns about the 
disapproved sections of the original comprehensive amendment and will 
solicit public comment prior to taking final action.
    17. Administrative Matters
    A. Financial reports
    B. Administrative report
    C. Meetings and workshops

Other Business

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come 
before the Council for discussion, those issues may not be the subject 
of formal Council action during this meeting. Council action will be 
restricted to those issues specifically listed in this document and to 
any issue arising after publication of this document that requires 
emergency action under section 305 (c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
provided that the public has been notified of the Council's intent to 
take final action to address the emergency.

Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. 
Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids 
should be directed to Kitty M. Simonds, 808-522-8220 (voice) or 808-
522-8226 (fax), at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

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

    Dated: February 22, 2002.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-4674 Filed 2-26-02; 8:45 am]
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