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NOAA Seeks Comments on Gulf of Mexico Bluefin Tuna Bycatch Reduction

Published: January 22, 2011

NOAA Fisheries seeks comments on its proposal to require the use of "weak hooks" in the Gulf of Mexico pelagic longline fishery. A weak hook is a circle hook that meets NOAA Fisheries' current size and offset restrictions for this fishery, but is constructed of round stock wire that is thinner-gauge than the circle hooks currently used. Weak hooks can allow incidentally hooked bluefin tuna to escape capture because the hooks are more likely to straighten when a large fish is hooked. Requiring weak hooks in the Gulf of Mexico will reduce bycatch of bluefin tuna, allow long-term socio-economic benefits of normal operation of directed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal short-term negative socio-economic impacts, and have both short- and long-term beneficial impacts on the stock status of Atlantic bluefin tuna, an overfished species.

Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2011. NOAA Fisheries will hold three public hearings on this proposed rule on February 7, 2011, in Silver Spring, MD; February 9, 2011, in Panama City, FL; and February 10, 2011, in Kenner, LA to receive comments from fishery participants and other members of the public regarding this proposed rule. An operator-assisted conference call will be held to receive public comments, only on this proposed rulemaking, from Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel members on February 8, 2011.

For more information or to submit a comment, visit:


NOAA Extends Comment Period for Western Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures

NOAA Fisheries is extending the comment period for the interim final rule to reduce commercial fishing for groundfish stocks in the Aleutian Islands. The objective of the rule is to ensure the groundfish fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of or adversely modify critical habitat for the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions. The public comment period has been extended for an additional 45 days, to February 28, 2011. Send comments to Dr. James W. Balsiger, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-BA31, by any one of the following methods:
• Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at
• Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
• Fax: (907) 586–7557.
• Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

source: NOAA Fish News