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NMFS proposes to modify local longline fishery entry program

National Marine Fisheries Service logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) is proposing to modify the American Samoa longline fishery limited entry program to consolidate vessel class sizes, modify permit eligibility requirements, and reduce the minimum harvest requirements for small vessels.

The intent of this proposed rule is to reduce regulatory barriers that may be limiting small vessel participation in the fishery, and provide for sustained community and indigenous American Samoan participation in the fishery.

This proposed rule also makes several administrative updates to remove outdated regulations, according to the NMFS notice published on federal portal [] and that the federal agency is accepting comments on the proposed rule through Sept. 2nd.

NMFS said only a few small vessels have been active in the fishery since 2007. Participation by large vessels was somewhat stable from 2001 through 2010, but has declined and remained below 20 active vessels annually since then.

Currently, NMFS says that there are likely younger fishermen in American Samoa who own vessels in the small vessel class, but are restricted from participating in the fishery because they do not have prior history.

For example, it has been 12 years since NMFS implemented the longline limited entry program, and some of the fishermen who had documented participation in the fishery have since passed away.

“Their children may be interested in joining the fishery, but regulations may be excluding them from the fishery because they do not have documented participation,” said NMFS.

Specific details of the proposed rule as well as to provide comments is online [], identified by NOAA-NMFS-2018-0023 or send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region, 1845 Wasp Blvd. Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.