Bluefin Tuna Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Fishery

Docket ID: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0007
Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Parent Agency: Department of Commerce (DOC)
NMFS proposes to require the use of “weak hooks” in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) pelagic longline (PLL) fishery. A weak hook is a circle hook that meets NMFS’ current size and offset restrictions for the GOM PLL fishery, but is constructed of round stock wire that is thinner-gauge than the circle hooks currently used, i.e., no larger than 3.65 mm in diameter. Weak hooks can allow incidentally hooked bluefin tuna (BFT) to escape capture because the hooks are more likely to straighten when a large fish is hooked. Requiring weak hooks in the GOM will reduce bycatch of BFT, allow the long-term beneficial socio-economic benefits of normal operation of directed fisheries in the GOM with minimal short-term negative socio-economic impacts, and have both short- and long-term beneficial impacts on the stock status of Atlantic BFT, an overfished species. Since 2007, NMFS has conducted research on weak hooks used on PLL vessels operating in the GOM to reduce the incidental catch of large BFT during directed PLL fishing for other species. Preliminary results show that the use of a weak hook can significantly reduce the amount of BFT caught incidentally by PLL vessels in the GOM. The purpose of the proposed action is to reduce PLL catch of Atlantic BFT in the GOM, which is the only known BFT spawning area for the western Atlantic stock of BFT. This action would be consistent with the advice of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Standing Committee for Research and Statistics that ICCAT may wish to protect the strong 2003 year class until it reaches maturity and can contribute to spawning. The purpose is also to allow directed fishing for other species to continue within allocated BFT sub-quota limits. This measure would be consistent with the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, including the BFT rebuilding program.
RIN: 0648-BA39
Impacts and Effects: None
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 639
Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant
UA and Regulatory Plan Information open glossary dialog  
Publication Period: Spring 2011
Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Completed Action
Major Rule: No
Legal Authorities: 16 USC 1801
Legal Deadlines: None
Government Levels Affected: No
Federalism Implications: No
Unfunded Mandates: No
Requires Regulatory Flexibility Analysis: Business
Small Entities Affected: No
International Impacts: No
Energy Effects: No
Included in Regulatory Plan: No
ActionDateFR Citation
NPRM01/13/201176 FR 2313
NPRM Comment Period End02/12/2011
Final Action04/05/201176 FR 18653
Docket Details open glossary dialog  
Related RINs: None
Related Dockets: None
Type: Rulemaking

Primary Documents

View All  (1)
Comment Period Closed
Feb 12, 2011 11:59 PM ET
Proposed Rule
Posted: 01/13/2011
ID: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0007-0001

Supporting Documents

View All  (2)
Comments Not Accepted
Supporting & Related Material
Posted: 01/13/2011
ID: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0007-0002
Comments Not Accepted
Supporting & Related Material
Posted: 01/13/2011
ID: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0007-0003


View All  (773)

Comments Received*
Regulatory Timeline
Pre Rule
Current Stage
Proposed Rule
Current Stage
Final Rule
Current Stage
Current Stage
Agency Contact
Margo Schulze-Haugen
Supervisory Fish Management Officer
301 713-0234
301 713-1917 (Fax)
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
*This count refers to the total comment/submissions received on this docket, as of 11:59 PM yesterday. Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign. This can result in discrepancies between this count and those displayed when conducting searches on the Public Submission document type. For specific information about an agency’s public submission policy, refer to its website or the Federal Register document.