NOAA Fisheries will undertake a public process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues relating to the management of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species, with a focus on area- based management measures and weak hook management measures that were implemented to reduce dead discards of, and interactions with, bluefin tuna in the pelagic longline fishery. NOAA Fisheries encourages participation, by all persons affected or otherwise interested in bluefin tuna area-based and weak hook management measures, in the process to determine the scope and significance of issues to be analyzed in a draft environmental impact analysis and regulatory amendment. NOAA Fisheries intends to hold public scoping meetings in the geographic areas that may be affected by these measures, including locations on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and will present the scoping document and consult with the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel.
Public Scoping Meetings
March 8, 2018 from 2:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel
8777 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
March 15, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Southeast Fisheries Science Center
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, FL 32408
March 21, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Commissioners Meeting Room
Dare County Administration Building
954 Marshall C. Collins Dr.
Manteo, NC 27954
April 2, 2018 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Terrebonne Parish Main Library
Large Conference Room
151 Library Drive
Houma, LA 70360
April 11, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Little Egg Harbor Branch Public Library
290 Mathistown Road
Little Egg Harbor, NJ 08087
April 18, 2018 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Greater Atlantic Regional Office
55 Great Republic Dr.
Gloucester, MA 01930
Conference Call Scoping Meeting
March 13, 2018 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Teleconference line: 800-988-9546
Participant pass code: 27079
Because the rulemakings overlap for some gear types, the public scoping meetings being held in Panama City, Florida, Manteo, North Carolina, and Manahawkin, New Jersey will be held in conjunction with public scoping meetings for pelagic longline bluefin tuna area-based and weak hook management. The shortfin mako shark management measure presentation will likely be given first unless polling of the audience indicates another approach is appropriate. After each presentation, public comment for that issue will be received. Meeting attendees interested in this issue are encouraged to show up at the beginning of the meeting to help determine the order of the presentations. The second presentation will not start any later than 6 pm.
The scoping process, and future proposed rule and draft environmental impact analysis, are intended to determine if the suite of existing measures are the best means of achieving the current management objectives for the pelagic longline fishery and providing flexibility to adapt to fishing variability in the future, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, and other relevant Federal laws. Depending on the results of the scoping process, the environmental impact analysis will include either an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement.
NOAA Fisheries requests comments on the notice of intent to develop an environmental impact analysis. NOAA Fisheries also requests comments on the management options described in the scoping document concerning bluefin area-based management and weak hook measures that were implemented to minimize bluefin tuna bycatch and/or interactions, and relevant options that would meet the purpose and need for this action.
Comments should be submitted online at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal (search for “NOAA-NMFS-2018-0035”) or in writing to Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Comments are due by May 1, 2018.