[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 189 (Thursday, September 30, 1999)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 52759-52760]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-25463]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[I.D. 092399D]


Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Hearings

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

ACTION: Notice of public meeting/public scoping hearing/public hearing.

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SUMMARY: The Western Pacific Fishery Council (Council) will hold its 
72nd meeting of its Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) in Honolulu, HI. A public hearing will be held on the draft Coral 
Reef Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan (FMP). A public scoping hearing 
on the intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will 
be held on the Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish FMP.

DATES: The SSC meeting will be held on October 12-14, 1999, from 8:30 
a.m. to 5:00 p.m., each day, except for the first day, which will start 
at 9:00 a.m.

ADDRESSES: The 72th SSC meeting will be held at the Council 
office conference room, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI; 
telephone: (808-522-8220).
    Council address: Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, 1164 
Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The SSC will discuss and may make 
recommendations to the Council on the agenda items listed here. The 
order in which agenda items will be addressed are subject to change.

8:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 12, 1999

A. Draft Coral Reef Ecosystem FMP/Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(DEIS)

    1. Introduction to the FMP
    2. Description of the fisheries
    3. Description of threats/management issues
    4. Management objectives, program and impacts
    a. Fishing permit (alternatives include, but are not limited to, 
exploratory permit and reporting requirement, general permit based on 
standard eligibility requirements, moratorium to prohibit all harvest 
of coral reef species, and status quo (no action))
    b. Marine Protected Areas (alternatives include, but are not 
limited to, candidate areas, such as remote U.S. atolls, and the 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands shallower than 20 meters, or status quo 
(no action))
    c. Restrictions of gear and methods (alternatives include, but are 
not limited to, allow only selective, non-destructive gear and methods, 
allow no gear or methods, allow use of other gears and/or methods, 
restrict other methods and practices, or status quo (no action))
    d. Restrict harvest of a particular management unit species 
(alternatives include, but are not limited to, restrict harvest of 
corals and live rock, restrict harvest of other selected species, 
restrict the harvest of all management unit species, or no restrictions 
(no action))
    e. Framework provisions (alternatives include, but are not limited 
to, establish a framework regulatory process with options for future 
consideration, or status quo (no action))
    5. Description of resource ecosystem
    6. Essential Fish Habitat
    7. Sustainable Fishery Act determinations
    8. Relationship to existing laws and policies
    9. Future needs
    10. Plan Team recommendations
    11. Advisory Panel recommendations
    12. Public hearing on draft FMP/DEIS

B. Bottomfish FMP issues

    1. Update on status of activities
    a. Main Hawaiian Islands bottomfish meeting
    b. Need to prepare EIS for Bottomfish FMP
    2. Public scoping hearing on Bottomfish FMP

C. Precious Corals FMP issues

    1. Final action on adjustments to the FMP regarding harvest quotas, 
definitions, size limits, gear restrictions, bed classifications and 
reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Recent research and surveys 
have provided new information on precious corals in the waters around 
Hawaii, including information on the size and condition of certain 
classified precious coral beds, potential increases in fishing pressure 
on black corals, the presence of a new precious coral bed near French 
Frigate Shoals and the possible importance of precious coral beds as 
foraging areas for Hawaiian monk seals. Based on a discussion of these 
issues at the 100th Council meeting, the Council identified 
the following preferred actions: Suspend the harvest quota for gold 
coral at the Makapu'u Bed until additional information is available on 
the impact of harvesting on subsequent recruitment of gold coral at the 
Makapu'u Bed; redefine precious coral as precious coral that has live 
coral polyps or tissue, and redefine dead precious coral as precious 
coral that no longer has any live coral polyps or tissue; apply size 
limits to live coral only; prohibit the harvest of black coral unless 
it has attained either a minimum stem diameter of 1 inch (2.54 cm), 
measured 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the top of the living holdfast, or a 
minimum height of 48 inches (121.92 cm), measured from the base to the 
greatest vertical extremity of the colony; only selective gear may be 
used to harvest precious corals from all permit areas; apply the 
current size limit for pink coral to all permit areas; revise the 
boundaries of Brooks Bank, Permit Area C-B-3, to include the area 
within a radius of 2.5 nautical miles (nm) of a point 23 deg. 58.8' N. 
lat. and 166 deg. 42' W. long., and change the harvest quota for pink 
coral to 200 kg and suspend the harvest quota for gold coral until 
additional scientific information becomes available on the impact of 
harvesting gold coral on monk seal foraging habitat; classify the 
newly-discovered French Frigate Shoals-Gold Pinnacles Bed as a 
conditional bed, Permit Area C-B-5, which includes the area within a 
radius of 0.25 nm of a point at 23 deg. 55' N. lat. and 165 deg. 23.11' 
W. long., and set the annual harvest quota for all types of precious 
coral at zero until additional information becomes available on the 
impact of harvesting gold coral on monk seal foraging habitat; list all 
managed species of precious corals on the NMFS Daily Precious Coral 
Harvest Log and Precious Coral Sales Trip Report, and revise reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements as follows: A permit holder shall, 
within 72 hours of landing, mail to NMFS Pacific Island Area Office 
(PIAO) a copy of the NMFS Daily Precious Coral Harvest Log with 
complete information including:
    (1) Vessel information -(i) Name of vessel; (ii) Call sign of 
vessel; and (iii) permit number of vessel.
    (2) Fishing information - (i) beginning and ending time, and date, 
of all dives, including the dives when no harvest is made; (ii) 
beginning and ending position in degrees latitude and longitude of each 
dive, and distance traveled; (iii) maximum and minimum depth of each 
dive; (iv) number of live and dead colonies harvested on each dive, by 
species; (v) weight of harvested coral on each dive by species, to the 
nearest tenth of a kilogram (landed weight air dried for at least 24 
hours); (vi) number of live and dead colonies

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damaged but not harvested on each dive, by species; (vii) method of 
harvest; (viii) observations that may be made about the habitat 
(current, bottom type, bottom topography, bottom slope, etc.).
    (3 Sale information - (i) amount of coral sold, by species; (ii) 
sale price; (iii) date of sale; (iv) name(s) and address(es) of 
buyer(s).
    (4) any other information specified in the permit. Any video tapes 
made during harvest operations shall be made available to the NMFS PIAO 
upon request. The video recording should continuously display date and 
time. Although these measures were identified as the preferred actions, 
the other alternatives are still being analyzed and considered.

Plan Team Recommendations

8:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 13, 1999

D. Pelagic FMP issues

    1. 2nd quarter 1999 Hawaii and American Samoa longline 
fishery report
    2. Status of bigeye and yellowfin tuna tagging around the Hawaiian 
Islands
    3. Shark incidental catch in the Hawaii longline fishery
    a. Update on catch trends and NMFS shark studies
    b. Cultural study of sharks and shark fishing in Western Pacific 
(WP) Region
    c. Management of shark fishing in the WP Region
    d. State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and 
Council action on sharks in Hawaii.
    4. Seabird interactions in the Hawaii longline fishery
    a. Update on trends and numbers
    b. Mitigation project final draft
    c. Final action on measures to reduce the incidental catch of 
seabirds in the Hawaii longline fishery.
    Based on a discussion of these issues at the 100th 
Council meeting, the Council identified the following preferred 
actions: Require vessels with Hawaii Longline Limited Entry Permits 
operating with longline gear above 25 deg. N. lat. to adhere to two or 
more of the following measures to mitigate seabird-longline 
interactions: maintain adequate quantities of blue dye on board and use 
only completely thawed, blue-dyed bait; use strategic offal discards 
while setting and hauling the line; tow a NMFS-approved deterrent (such 
as a tori line or a buoy) while setting and hauling the line; deploy 
line with a shooter so that the line is set faster than the vessel's 
speed; ensure that weights greater than 45 grams are attached to branch 
lines within 1 meter of each hook; begin setting 1 hour after sunset 
and complete setting 1 hour before sunrise, using minimal vessel 
lighting. In addition, vessels must make every reasonable effort to 
ensure that birds brought onboard alive are released alive and that 
hooks are removed without jeopardizing the life of the birds, and all 
vessel captains must complete an annual protected species educational 
workshop conducted by NMFS. Although these measures were identified as 
the preferred actions, the other alternatives are still being analyzed 
and considered.
    5. Turtles longline fishery interactions
    a. Update on trends and numbers
    b. Update on mitigation studies
    c. Outcome of recent litigation
    6. Marine debris
    7. International meetings
    8. Recreational fisheries data task force

8:30 am Thursday, October 14, 1999

E. Crustaceans FMP issues (NWHI lobster fishery)

    1. Status of the fishery
    2. Public Education Project
    3. Status of state regulations for NWHI import license
    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come 
before this 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 any 
issue arising after publication of this document that requires 
emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified 
of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

F. Other Business

    List of authorized fishing gear/fisheries

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 meeting date.

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

    Dated: September 27, 1999.
Gary C. Matlock,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 99-25463 Filed 9-27-99; 4:56 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F