[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 72 (Thursday, April 14, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22194-22195]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-07944]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XB934]


Identification of Nations or Entities Engaged in Illegal, 
Unreported, or Unregulated Fishing, Bycatch of Protected Living Marine 
Resources, or Shark Fishing on the High Seas

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

ACTION: Notice; request for information.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is seeking information regarding nations or entities 
whose vessels are engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) 
fishing; fishing practices that result in the bycatch of protected 
living marine resources (PLMRs) without a regulatory program comparable 
in effectiveness to that of the United States; and/or fishing 
activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that target or 
incidentally catch sharks without a regulatory program comparable to 
that of the United States. Such information will be reviewed for the 
purposes of the identification of nations or entities pursuant to the 
High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium 
Protection Act).

DATES: Information should be received on or before December 31, 2022. 
However, we encourage submission of information as early as possible.

ADDRESSES: Information may be submitted either by mail to: NMFS Office 
of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce, Attn.: Moratorium 
Protection Act Information, F/IATC 1315 East-West Highway, Silver 
Spring, MD 20910, or electronically to: [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellie Bors, phone (240) 429-4461, or 
email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Moratorium Protection Act requires the Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary) to issue a Biennial Report to Congress that identifies 
nations and entities whose vessels are engaged in IUU fishing, bycatch 
of PLMRs, and/or fishing activities in waters beyond any national 
jurisdiction that target or incidentally catch sharks, in specific 
circumstances elaborated below. NMFS is soliciting information from the 
public regarding fishing activities by foreign fishing vessels in 2020, 
2021, and/or 2022 that may support identification of those nations and 
entities in the Biennial Report.
    The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-348) amended the 
Moratorium Protection Act by requiring action by the United States to 
strengthen shark conservation globally, including the potential 
identification of nations and entities with vessels fishing for sharks 
on the high seas (16 U.S.C. 1826k(a)(2)). In November 2015, the 
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 
(Pub. L. 114-81) further amended the Moratorium Protection Act by, 
among other things, expanding the scope of information that can be used 
for the identification of nations and entities to three years for the 
IUU fishing and bycatch provisions (see 16 U.S.C. 1826j-1826k). In 
December 2016, the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act (Pub. L. 
114-327) amended the Moratorium Protection Act by also expanding the 
scope of information that can be used for the identification of nations 
and entities to three years for the shark provisions (see 16 U.S.C. 
1826k).
    The seventh biennial report to Congress was submitted in August 
2021 and is available online at: https://media.fisheries.noaa.gov/2021-08/2021ReporttoCongressonImprovingInternationalFisheriesManagement.pdf. 
The report identified seven nations and entities for IUU fishing and 29 
nations and entities for the bycatch of PLMRs without a regulatory 
program comparable in effectiveness to that of the United States.
    In fulfillment of its requirements under the Moratorium Protection 
Act, NMFS is preparing the eighth biennial report to Congress, and will 
consider whether information exists to support the identification of 
nations or entities whose vessels are engaged in IUU fishing; fishing 
practices that result in bycatch of PLMRs without a regulatory program 
comparable in effectiveness to that of the United States; and/or 
fishing activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that 
target or incidentally catch sharks without a regulatory program 
comparable to that of the United States.

IUU Fishing

    The Moratorium Protection Act requires the Secretary to identify in 
a biennial report to Congress those nations and entities whose fishing 
vessels are engaged, or have been engaged at any point during the 
preceding three years, in IUU fishing. The definition of IUU fishing 
can be found at 50 CFR 300.201 and includes:
    (1) Fishing activities that violate conservation and management 
measures required under an international fishery management agreement 
to which the United States is a party, including catch limits or 
quotas, capacity restrictions, bycatch reduction requirements, shark 
conservation measures, and data reporting;
    (2) In the case of non-parties to an international fishery 
management agreement to which the United States is a party, fishing 
activities that would undermine the conservation of the resources 
managed under that agreement;
    (3) Overfishing of fish stocks shared by the United States, for 
which there are no applicable international conservation or management 
measures or in areas with no applicable international fishery 
management organization or agreement, that has adverse impacts on such 
stocks;
    (4) Fishing activity that has an adverse impact on vulnerable 
marine ecosystems such as seamounts, hydrothermal vents, cold water 
corals and other vulnerable marine ecosystems located beyond any 
national jurisdiction, for which there are no applicable conservation 
or management measures or in areas with no applicable international 
fishery management organization or agreement; and
    (5) Fishing activities by foreign-flagged vessels in U.S. waters 
without authorization of the United States.

PLMR Bycatch

    In addition, the Secretary must identify in the biennial report 
those nations and entities whose fishing vessels are engaged, or have 
been engaged at any point during the preceding three years in fishing 
activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that result in 
bycatch of a PLMR, or beyond the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 
that result in bycatch of a PLMR shared by the United States, and that 
have not implemented measures to address that bycatch that are 
comparable in effectiveness to U.S. regulatory requirements. In this 
context, PLMRs are defined as non-target fish (including sharks), sea 
turtles, or marine mammals that are protected under U.S. law or 
international agreement, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 
the Endangered Species Act, the Shark Finning Prohibition Act, and the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora 
and Fauna. PLMRs do not include species, except sharks, managed under 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the 
Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, or any international fishery management

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agreement. A list of species considered as PLMRs for the purposes of 
identification under the Moratorium Protection Act is available online 
at: https://media.fisheries.noaa.gov/dam-migration/plmr_list_2019.pdf.

Shark Catch in Waters Beyond Any National Jurisdiction

    Furthermore, the Moratorium Protection Act requires that the 
Secretary identify nations and entities in the biennial report to 
Congress whose fishing vessels are engaged, or have been engaged during 
the preceding three years in fishing activities or practices in waters 
beyond any national jurisdiction that target or incidentally catch 
sharks and when the nation has not adopted a regulatory program to 
provide for the conservation of sharks, including measures to prohibit 
removal of any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and 
discarding the carcass of the shark at sea, that is comparable to that 
of the United States, taking into account different conditions. When 
determining whether to identify nations or entities for these 
activities, NMFS will take into account all relevant matters including, 
but not limited to, the history, nature, circumstances, duration, and 
gravity of the fishing activity of concern.

Information Solicited

    NMFS is soliciting information from the public that could be 
relevant to the identification of nations and entities engaged in 
activities that meet the criteria described above for IUU fishing, PLMR 
bycatch, or shark catch in waters beyond any national jurisdiction. 
Some types of information that may prove relevant to the process 
include:
     Documentation (photographs, verifiable catch data, etc.) 
of IUU fishing activity, fishing vessels engaged in PLMR bycatch, or 
catch of sharks on the high seas;
     Documentation (photographs, etc.) of fishing vessels 
engaged in bycatch of shared PLMRs in any waters beyond the U.S. EEZ;
     Documentation (photos, video, witness testimony, publicly 
available data, etc.) of illegal shark fishing in contravention of 
shark conservation and management measures adopted by Regional 
Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to which the United States 
is a Party (shark finning without full utilization of the carcass, non-
reporting of shark catch, retention of prohibited shark species, etc.);
     Reports from off-loading facilities, port-side government 
officials, enforcement agents, military personnel, port inspectors, 
transshipment vessel workers and fish importers;
     Sightings of vessels included on RFMO IUU vessel lists;
     RFMO catch documents and statistical document programs;
     Nations' domestic regulations for bycatch and shark 
conservation and management, including any regulations that prohibit 
the removal of any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and 
discarding the carcass of the shark at sea;
     Action or inaction at the national level, resulting in 
non-compliance with RFMO conservation and management measures, such as 
exceeding quotas or catch limits, or failing to report or misreporting 
data of the nation's fishing activities; and
     Relevant reports from governments, international 
organizations, or nongovernmental organizations.
    NMFS will consider all available information, as appropriate, when 
making a determination whether or not to identify a particular nation 
or entity in the biennial report to Congress. As stated previously, 
NMFS is limited in the time frame for data it may use as the basis of a 
nation's identification. Appropriate information includes IUU fishing 
activity, bycatch of PLMRs, and shark fishing activity in waters beyond 
any national jurisdiction that occurred in 2020, 2021, and 2022. 
Information should be as specific as possible as this will assist NMFS 
in its review. NMFS will consider several criteria when determining 
whether information is appropriate for use in making identifications, 
including but not limited to:
     Corroboration of information;
     Whether multiple sources have been able to provide 
information in support of an identification;
     The methodology used to collect the information;
     Specificity of the information provided;
     Susceptibility of the information to falsification and 
alteration;
     Credibility of the individuals or organization providing 
the information; and
     Ability to share the provided information with a nation or 
entity in the event that it is identified, so that the nation can take 
specific corrective actions.
    More information regarding the identification process and how the 
information received will be used in that process can be found at 16 
U.S.C. 1826j-1826k and in the regulations codified at 50 CFR 300.200 et 
seq. Note that the timeframe for activities to be considered for IUU 
fishing, bycatch, and shark identifications has not yet been changed in 
the implementing regulations to reflect the amendments in the Illegal, 
Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 and the 
Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act of 2016, which extend the 
timeframe to three years in each case. Such conforming amendments to 
the implementing regulations are under development.

    Dated: April 8, 2022.
Alexa Cole,
Director, Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2022-07944 Filed 4-13-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P