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Rule

Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2018 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for American Samoa

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Announcement of a valid specified fishing agreement.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2018 bigeye tuna limit for the Territory of American Samoa to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels. The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and fisheries development in American Samoa.

DATES:

December 7, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. The analyses, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2018-0026, are available from https://www.regulations.gov/​docket?​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2018-0026, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

The Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) is available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, or http://www.wpcouncil.org.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808-725-5184.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In a final rule published on October 23, 2018, NMFS specified a 2018 limit of 2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for the U.S. Pacific Island territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI (83 FR 53399). NMFS allows each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t of the 2,000 t limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement.

On November 19, 2018, NMFS received from the Council a specified fishing agreement between the government of American Samoa and Quota Management, Inc. (QMI). The Council's Executive Director advised that the specified fishing agreement was consistent with the criteria set forth in 50 CFR 665.819(c)(1). NMFS reviewed the agreement and determined that it is consistent with the Pelagic FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, implementing regulations, and other applicable laws.

In accordance with 50 CFR 300.224(d) and 50 CFR 665.819(c)(9), vessels identified in the agreement may retain and land bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean under the American Samoa limit. NMFS will begin attributing bigeye tuna caught by vessels identified in the agreement to American Samoa starting on December 10, 2018. This is seven days before December 17, 2018, which is the date NMFS forecasted the fishery would reach the CNMI bigeye tuna allocation limit. If NMFS determines that the fishery will reach the American Samoa 1,000-t attribution, we would restrict the retention of bigeye tuna caught by vessels identified in the agreement, unless the vessels are included in a subsequent specified fishing agreement with another U.S. territory, and we would publish a notice to that effect in the Federal Register.

Start Authority

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

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Start Printed Page 63429

Dated: December 4, 2018.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2018-26616 Filed 12-7-18; 8:45 am]

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