Dear Assistant Administrator Sobeck and Regional Administrator Stelle:
Our organizations are writing to request immediate compliance with non-discretionary regulations governing the California Drift Gillnet Fishery. Current regulations prohibit fishing with drift gillnet gear in the Pacific loggerhead conservation area from June 1 to August 31 during a forecasted El Niño event and require the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) to publish notice of such closure in the Federal Register. 50 C.F.R. § 660.713(c)(2). NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has released numerous public pronouncements that an El Niño event will occur this summer, and there have been documented sea surface temperature anomalies in southern California. Nonetheless, NMFS has failed to publish the required notice. On June 26, 2014, we participated in a telephone conversation with NMFS staff from the West Coast Region in which we expressed our concerns but received no assurances that NMFS would comply with its obligations. Absent an indication from you that NMFS will immediately take action to come into compliance with these requirements by July 8, 2014, our organizations will consider all available options to compel action. Our concerns are detailed below. We look forward to your prompt response.
Click here to read the complete letter from Turtle Island Restoration Network, Center for Biological Diversity and Oceana to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region (PDF).