(a)Types of information covered. NOAA is authorized under the Act and other statutes to collect and maintain information. This section applies to confidential information collected under authority of the Act.
(b)Collection and maintenance of information—
(i) Any information required to be submitted to the Secretary, a State fishery management agency, or a Marine Fisheries Commission under the Act shall be provided to the Assistant Administrator.
(ii) Any observer information collected under the Act shall be provided to the Assistant Administrator.
(iii) Appropriate safeguards as specified by NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-100 or other NOAA/NMFS internal procedures, apply to the collection and maintenance of any information collected pursuant to paragraphs (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section, whether separated from identifying particulars or not, so as to ensure their confidentiality. Information submitted to the Secretary in compliance with this subpart shall not be disclosed except as authorized herein or by other law or regulation.
(2)Collection agreements with States or Marine Fisheries Commissions.
(i) The Assistant Administrator may enter into an agreement with a State or a Marine Fisheries Commission authorizing the State or Marine Fisheries Commission to collect information on behalf of the Secretary.
(ii) To enter into a cooperative collection agreement with a State or a Marine Fisheries Commission, NMFS must ensure that:
(A) The State has authority to protect the information from disclosure in a manner at least as protective as these regulations.
(B) The Marine Fisheries Commission has enacted policies and procedures to protect the information from public disclosure.
(3)Collection services by observer employer/observer provider. The Assistant Administrator shall make the following determinations before issuing a permit or letting a contract or grant to an organization that provides observer services:
(i) That the observer employer/observer provider has enacted policies and procedures to protect the information from public disclosure;
(ii) That the observer employer/observer provider has entered into an agreement with the Assistant Administrator that prohibits public disclosure and specifies penalties for such disclosure; and
(iii) That the observer employer/observer provider requires each observer to sign an agreement with NOAA/NMFS that prohibits public disclosure of observer information and specifies penalties for such disclosure.
(c)Access to information—
(1)General. This section establishes procedures intended to manage, preserve, and protect the confidentiality of information submitted in compliance with the Act and its implementing regulations. This section applies to those persons and organizations deemed eligible to access confidential information subject to the terms and conditions described in this section and the Act. All other persons requesting access to confidential information should follow the procedures set forth in the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, 15 CFR parts 15 and 903, NAO 205-14, and Department of Commerce Administrative Orders 205-12 and 205-14, as applicable. Persons eligible to access confidential information under this section shall submit to NMFS a written request with the following information:
(i) The specific types of information requested;
(ii) The relevance of the information to requirements of the Act;
(iii) The duration of time that access will be required: continuous, infrequent, or one-time; and
(iv) An explanation of why the availability of information in aggregate or summary form from other sources would not satisfy the requested needs.
(2)Federal employees. Confidential information will only be accessible to the following:
(i) Federal employees who are responsible for administering, implementing, or enforcing the Act. Such persons are exempt from the provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
(ii) NMFS employees responsible for the collection, processing, and storage of the information or performing research that requires access to confidential information. Such persons are exempt from the provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
(iii) Other NOAA employees on a demonstrable need-to-know basis.
(iv) Persons that need access to confidential information to perform functions authorized under a Federal contract, cooperative agreement, or grant awarded by NOAA/NMFS.
(i) Confidential information will be subject to disclosure to the Commission, but only if:
(A) The information is required to be submitted to the Commission under the requirements of the WCPF Convention or the decisions of the Commission;
(B) The provision of such information is in accord with the requirements of the Act, the WCPF Convention, and the decisions of the Commission, including any procedures, policies, or practices adopted by the Commission relating to the receipt, maintenance, protection or dissemination of information by the Commission; and
(C) The provision of such information is in accord with any agreement between the United States and the Commission that includes provisions to prevent public disclosure of the identity or business of any person.
(ii) The provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section do not apply to the release of confidential information to the Commission.
(4)State employees. Confidential information may be made accessible to a State employee only by written request and only upon the determination by NMFS that at least one of the following conditions is met:
(i) The employee has a need for confidential information to further the Department of Commerce's mission, and the State has entered into a written agreement between the Assistant Administrator and the head of the State's agency that manages marine and/or anadromous fisheries. The agreement shall contain a finding by the Assistant Administrator that the State has confidentiality protection authority comparable to the Act and that the State will exercise this authority to prohibit public disclosure of the identity or business of any person.
(ii) The employee enforces the Act or fishery management plans prepared under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act, and the State for which the employee works has entered into a fishery enforcement agreement with the Secretary and the agreement is in effect.
(5)Marine Fisheries Commission employees. Confidential information may be made accessible to Marine Fisheries Commission employees only upon written request of the Marine Fisheries Commission and only if the request demonstrates a need for confidential information to further the Department of Commerce's mission, and the executive director of the Marine Fisheries Commission has entered into a written agreement with the Assistant Administrator. The agreement shall contain a finding by the Assistant Administrator that the Marine Fisheries Commission has confidentiality protection policies and procedures to protect from public disclosure information that would reveal the identity or business of any person.
(6)Homeland and national security activities. Confidential information may be made accessible to Federal employees for purposes of promoting homeland security or national security at the request of another Federal agency only if:
(i) Providing the information promotes homeland security or national security purposes including the USCG's homeland security missions as defined in section 888(a)(2) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 468(a)(2)); and
(ii) The requesting agency has entered into a written agreement with the Assistant Administrator. The agreement shall contain a finding by the Assistant Administrator that the requesting agency has confidentiality policies and procedures to protect the information from public disclosure.
(7)Observer and observer employer/observer provider. Confidential information used for purposes other than those contained in this subpart or in part 600 of this title may only be used by observers and observer employers/observer providers in order:
(i) To adjudicate observer certifications;
(ii) To allow the sharing of observer information among the observers and between observers and observer employers/observer providers as necessary to train and prepare observers for deployments on specific vessels; or
(iii) To validate the accuracy of the observer information collected.
(8) Persons having access to confidential information may be subject to criminal and civil penalties for unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information. See 18 U.S.C. 1905, 16 U.S.C. 1857, and NOAA/NMFS internal procedures, including NAO 216-100.
(1) The Assistant Administrator maintains a control system to protect the identity or business of any person who submits information in compliance with any requirement or regulation under the Act. The control system:
(i) Identifies those persons who have access to the information;
(ii) Contains procedures to limit access to confidential information to authorized users; and
(iii) Provides handling and physical storage protocols for safeguarding of the information.
(2) This system requires that all persons who have authorized access to the information be informed of the confidentiality of the information. These persons, with the exception of employees and contractors of the Commission, are required to sign a statement that they:
(i) Have been informed that the information is confidential; and
(ii) Have reviewed and are familiar with the procedures to protect confidential information.
(e)Release of information.
(1) The Assistant Administrator will not disclose to the public any confidential information, except:
(i) When the Secretary has obtained from the person who submitted the information an authorization to release the information to persons for reasons not otherwise provided for in this subpart. In situations where a person provides information through a second party, both parties are considered joint submitters of information and either party may request a release. The authorization to release such information will require:
(A) A written statement from the person(s) who submitted the information authorizing the release of the submitted information; and
(B) A finding by the Secretary that such release does not violate other requirements of the Act or other applicable laws.
(ii) Observer information as authorized by a fishery management plan (prepared under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act) or regulations under the authority of the North Pacific Council to allow disclosure of observer information to the public of weekly summary bycatch information identified by vessel or for haul-specific bycatch information without vessel identification.
(iii) When such information is required to be submitted for any determination under a limited access program.
(iv) When required by a court order.
(2) All requests from the public for confidential information will be processed in accordance with the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552a, 15 CFR parts 4 and 903, NAO 205-14, and Department of Commerce Administrative Orders DAO 205-12 and DAO 205-14. Nothing in this section is intended to confer any right, claim, or entitlement to obtain access to confidential information not already established by law.
(3) NMFS does not release or allow access to confidential information in its possession to members of advisory groups of the Regional Fishery Management Councils established under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, except as provided by law.