International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Commercial Fishing Restrictions for Tropical Tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean
NOAA Fisheries is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C-20-05 (Conservation Measures for Tropical Tunas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean During 2021), which was adopted at the 96th Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in December 2020. This interim final rule implements the C-20-05 fishing management measures for tropical tuna (i.e., bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (T. albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)) in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) waters of the IATTC Convention Area.
This interim final rule, which will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, implements the management measures for tropical tuna (i.e., yellowfin, bigeye, and skipjack) for 2021 in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) waters of the IATTC Convention Area. The rule continues to apply the regulations applicable in 2018-2020 for purse seine vessels of class sizes 4-6 (carrying capacity of 182 metric tons (mt) or greater) and longline vessels greater than 24 meters in overall length that fish for tropical tuna in the EPO. This includes a 72-day fishing closure period and a time/area closure in the EPO for 31 days for purse seine vessels; provisions for exemptions from the 72-day closure period due to force majeure; a catch limit of 750 mt of bigeye tuna caught in the EPO by U.S. longline vessels; catch limit transfer requirements for bigeye tuna; a requirement that all tropical tuna be retained and landed (with some exceptions); and restrictions related to the use and design of fish aggregating devices.
This interim final rule is necessary for the conservation of tropical tuna stocks in the EPO and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC. This rule is effective January 19, 2021.