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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BK88 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: ●Emergency Purse Seine Observer Waivers in the Eastern Pacific Ocean 

On March 27, 2020, NMFS published a temporary rule for an emergency action in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (85 FR 17285), that provides the authority to waive observer coverage requirements implemented under certain statutes, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Tuna Conventions Act.  That temporary rule was extended and is currently in effect until March 26, 2022 (86 FR 16307), or until the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that the COVID-19 Pandemic is no longer a public health emergency, whichever is earlier.  Pursuant to the emergency rule, and in accordance with exemption procedures adopted by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), NMFS WCR established procedures, subject to revocation or extension as circumstances warrant, for issuing temporary exemptions on an individual basis to the observer requirements under 50 CFR 216.24(e) and 50 CFR 300.25(e)(4)(iv). With travel restrictions continuing to be enforced at American Samoa and other port states where observers embark on United States flagged purse seine vessels, placement of observers is not always possible. If the temporary rule expires in March 2022, and is not renewed, NMFS will no longer possess the emergency authority to issue observer waivers in these cases. With the potential for travel restrictions that prevent the placement of observers continuing beyond March 2022, NMFS is proposing to implement an emergency waiver provision to allow NMFS to issue temporary written waivers from the observer requirements, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with IATTC exemption procedures. NMFS is undertaking this action under the authority of the Tuna Conventions Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act to satisfy the obligations of the United States as a Member of the IATTC. This rule is not expected to trigger either opposition from any sector of the public or congressional interest.  NMFS has considered this action under E.O. 12866. Based on that review, this action is not expected to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or have an adverse effect in a material way on the economy. Furthermore, this action would not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; or materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or raise novel or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in this E.O.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 300   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951    16 U.S.C. 952    16 U.S.C. 953    16 U.S.C. 954    16 U.S.C. 955    16 U.S.C. 956    16 U.S.C. 957    16 U.S.C. 958    16 U.S.C. 959    16 U.S.C. 960    16 U.S.C. 961    16 U.S.C. 962   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  11/00/2021 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Barry Thom
Regional Administrator, West Coast Region
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1201 NE Lloyd Boulevard, Suite 1100,
Portland, OR 97232
Phone:503 231-6266