Catch limit proposed for Pacific bluefin

 The National Marine Fisheries Services has moved to impose catch limits on commercial bluefin tuna fishing in the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean.

The proposed rule, which is intended to prevent overfishing, would allow commercial fishing ships from the United States to catch more than 500 metric tons of bluefin tuna in 2013, so long as the worldwide catch total doesn’t exceed 10,000 metric tons for 2012 and 2013. 

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The rule would carry out the recommendations of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which includes the United States, Peru, France, Mexico, Japan, Costa Rica and other countries. The commission, established in 1949, is responsible for the conservation of tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Seafood Watch, a seafood consumer resource program by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, classifies bluefin tuna as a fish to avoid, because it is caught quicker than the slow-maturing species can reproduce. The group calls “international management bodies” largely ineffective in ensuring the sustainability of the tuna population.

The proposed regulation says the U.S. commercial catch of bluefin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean reached 415 metric tons in 2009, the highest amount in a decade. In 2008, the bluefin tuna catch exceeded 500 metric tons. Further, bluefin tuna represents a small portion of the West Coast’s tuna catch totals. 

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is extending the comment period for the rules surrounding “incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum” until early to mid-2013, following requests from the industry.

The National Association of Broadcasters and CTIA–the Wireless Association requested an extension last month due to “the complex economic, engineering and policy issues” surrounding the auction. 

The FCC voted in September to auction broadcast television frequencies to wireless service providers in order to keep up with the increasing data demands of smartphones and tablets.

Both the FCC and the industry hope to begin the auctions in mid-2014, but face a daunting, complex and expensive planning period that could cost billions of dollars.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, has compared designing the auctions to playing “three-dimensional chess while blindfolded.”

Comment periods have been extended as requested by the National Association of Broadcasters and CTIA, to Jan. 25, 2013, and March 12, 2013, respectively.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

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The Department of Energy is seeking public comment about reversing a ban from 2000 on recycling scrap metals derived from Department of Energy radioactive sites. 

The ban was imposed in response to public concerns, but last September, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu approved a recommendation to manage the clearance and removal of the potentially radioactive scrap metal.

The agency is concerned that the buildup of debris has become too large since the 2000 ban and says it has been conducting public health and environmental evaluations to ensure the recycling process is done correctly and safely. The agency warns that the result of inaction — or continued storage — may have damaging effects on public health.

Metal with “volumetric” radioactive contamination would not be included in the process, and the scraps would have to meet certain requirements in order to be recycled. Comments are due Jan. 12.