Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 48490-48493 [05-16386]

Download as PDF 48490 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 159 / Thursday, August 18, 2005 / Rules and Regulations foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Given the expanded range, number of newly discovered population locations and individuals, the increased knowledge of the genetics of this species, and the protection offered by State and Federal landowners, we conclude, based on the best scientific and commercial information, that H. eggertii does not warrant the protection of the Act. Therefore, we are removing H. eggertii from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Effect of This Rule This rule will revise 50 CFR 17.12(h) to remove Helianthus eggertii from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Because no critical habitat was ever designated for this species, this rule will not affect 50 CFR 17.96. Once this species is removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants, Endangered Species Act protection will no longer apply. Removal of H. eggertii from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants will relieve Federal agencies from the need to consult with us to insure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of this species. Post-Delisting Monitoring The 1988 amendments to the Act (section 4(g)(1)) require us to implement a system, in cooperation with the States, to monitor all species that have been delisted due to recovery for at least 5 years following delisting. The purpose of this post-delisting monitoring (PDM) is to verify that a species that is delisted due to recovery remains secure from the risk of extinction after it no longer has the protections of the Act. If the species does not remain secure, we can use the emergency listing authorities under section 4(b)(7) of the Act. Section 4(g) of the Act explicitly requires cooperation with the States in development and implementation of PDM programs. However, we are responsible for compliance with section 4(g) and must remain actively engaged in all phases of the PDM. The Service has drafted a PDM plan for Eggert’s sunflower and is making it available for review and comment in a separate notice in this issue of the Federal Register (see the Notices section of today’s Federal Register). Following the end of the comment period, any comments will be incorporated as appropriate into the final PDM plan. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which VerDate jul<14>2003 09:27 Aug 17, 2005 Jkt 205001 implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), require that Federal agencies obtain approval from OMB before collecting information from the public. This rule does not contain any new collections of information that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. This rule will not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. National Environmental Policy Act We have determined that we do not need to prepare an Environmental Assessment, as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). References Cited Alabama Natural Heritage Database. 2003. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama Natural Heritage Database. 2004. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery, Alabama. Cruzan, M.B. 2002. Population and Ecological Genetics of Helianthus eggertii Report. Prepared for Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Base. Jones, R.L. 1991. Status report on Helianthus eggertii. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville Field Office, through the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Kentucky Natural Heritage Database. 2003. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, Kentucky. Kentucky Natural Heritage Database. 2004. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, Kentucky. Spring, O., and E.E. Schilling. 1991. The sesquiterpene lactone chemistry of Helianthus Sect. Atrorubentes (Asteraceae: Heliantheae). Biochemical Systematices and Ecology 19:59–79. Starnes, J.H. 2004. Effects of Management and Population Size on Genetic Diversity of Eggert’s Sunflower (Helianthus eggertii; Asteraceae). Master Thesis. Western Kentucky University. 62 pp. Tennessee Natural Heritage Database. 2003. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee Natural Heritage Database. 2004. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, Tennessee. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 U.S. Air Force. 2002. Barrens Management Plan for Arnold Air Force Base. Tullahoma, Tennessee. 63 pp. U.S. Air Force. 2001. Eggert’s Sunflower (Helianthus eggertii) Management Plan for Arnold Air Force Base. Tullahoma, Tennessee. 47 pp. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999a. Recovery Plan for Helianthus eggertii Small (Eggert’s sunflower). Atlanta, Georgia. 40 pp. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999b. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants 50 CFR 17.11 and 17.12; As of December 31, 1999. Special Reprint. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 56. Author The primary author of this proposed rule is Timothy Merritt (see ADDRESSES section). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Regulation Promulgation For the reasons given in the preamble, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: I PART 17—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: I Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531–1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201–4245; Pub. L. 99– 625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted. § 17.12 [Amended] 2. Amend § 17.12(h) by removing the entry ‘‘Helianthus eggertii’’ under ‘‘Flowering Plants’’ from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. I Dated: July 20, 2005. Marshall Jones, Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 05–16274 Filed 8–17–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [I.D. 080405B] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\18AUR1.SGM 18AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 159 / Thursday, August 18, 2005 / Rules and Regulations Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment. ACTION: The effective dates for BFT daily retention limits are provided in Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. The 2005 BFT fishing year began on June 1, 2005, and ends May 31, 2006. The final initial 2005 BFT specifications and General category effort controls were provided on June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33033). During this rulemaking, NMFS specifically requested comment on DATES: SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the daily Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) retention limits for the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat categories should be adjusted. The adjustment will allow maximum utilization of the General category September time-period subquota, and will enhance recreational BFT fishing opportunities aboard HMS Charter/Headboat vessels in the later portion of the season. Therefore, NMFS increases the daily BFT retention limits to provide enhanced commercial General category and recreational HMS Charter/Headboat fishing opportunities in all areas while minimizing the risk of an overharvest of the General and Angling category BFT quotas. 48491 options related to a recommendation of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) regarding a four-year average, 8 percent tolerance on harvest of school BFT. Numerous comments were received on this issue as well as a wide range of topics, including inseason management measures for the General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories throughout the 2005 fishing year. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the ICCAT among the various domestic fishing categories. Daily Retention Limits Pursuant to this action and the final initial 2005 BFT specifications, noted above, the daily BFT retention limits for Atlantic tunas General, HMS Charter/ Headboat, and HMS Angling categories are as follows: TABLE 1. EFFECTIVE DATES FOR RETENTION LIMIT ADJUSTMENTS Permit Category General Effective Dates Areas BFT Size Class Limit August 1 through September 30, 2005, inclusive All One BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) CFL or larger August 1 - 31, 2005, inclusive All One BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL September 1 - 30, 2005, inclusive All Three BFT per vessel per day/ trip, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL. Of the three BFT, a maximum of two BFT are allowed per vessel per day/trip measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 cm) CFL October 1, 2005, through May 31, 2006, inclusive All One BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (119 to less than 185 cm) CFL June 1, 2005, through May 31, 2006, inclusive Angling Two BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length (CFL) or larger October 1, 2005, through January 31, 2006, inclusive Charter/Headboat All All One BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limits Under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the General category daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range from zero (on Restricted Fishing Days) to a maximum of three per vessel to allow for maximum utilization of the quota for BFT. On June 7, 2005 (70 FR VerDate jul<14>2003 09:27 Aug 17, 2005 Jkt 205001 33039), NMFS adjusted the commercial daily BFT retention limit, in all areas, for those vessels fishing under the General category quota, to two large medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) or greater curved fork length (CFL), per vessel per day/trip. This retention limit was to remain in effect through August 31, 2005, inclusive. From September 1, 2005, PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 through January 31, 2006, inclusive, the General category daily BFT retention limit was scheduled to revert to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip. The June through August time-period subquota allocation for the 2005 fishing year totaled approximately 540 metric tons (mt). As of August 5, 2005, 32.5 mt have been landed in the General E:\FR\FM\18AUR1.SGM 18AUR1 48492 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 159 / Thursday, August 18, 2005 / Rules and Regulations category and catch rates equal approximately 0.5 mt per day. If catch rates are to remain at current levels, approximately 13 mt would be landed during the remainder of August. This projection would bring the June though August time-period subquota landings to approximately 45 mt, resulting in an underharvest of approximately 500 mt. This carryover combined with the September time-period subquota allocation of 270 mt would allow for 770 mt to be harvested in the month of September. In combination with an expected subquota rollover from the June through August time-period, the September time-period subquota allocation, current catch rates, and the daily retention limit reverting to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day on September 1, 2005, NMFS anticipates the full September timeperiod subquota will not be harvested. This could result in a potential excessive rollover into the October through January time-period. Adding an excessive amount of unused quota from one time-period subquota to the subsequent time period subquota is undesirable because it effectively changes the time-period subquota allocation percentages established in the HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This issue has been discussed extensively during public comment periods for annual BFT quota specification and during HMS Advisory Panel meetings. Therefore, based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, available quota, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that an increase in the General category daily BFT retention limit effective from September 1, 2005, through September 30, 2005, inclusive, is warranted. Thus, the general category daily retention limit of two large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip (see Table 1) will be extended through September 30, 2005. Starting on October 1, 2005, through January 31, 2006, inclusive, the General category default daily BFT retention limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip will apply. It is highly likely that, with a combination of the default retention limit starting on October 1, 2005, and the large amount of General category quota available, there will be sufficient quota for the coastwide General category season to extend into the winter months and allow for a southern Atlantic fishery to take place on an order of magnitude of prior years. The intent of this adjustment is to allow for maximum utilization of the U.S. landings quota of BFT while maintaining an equitable distribution of VerDate jul<14>2003 09:27 Aug 17, 2005 Jkt 205001 fishing opportunities, to help achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery, to collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes, and to be consistent with the objectives of the HMS FMP. Adjustment of HMS Charter/Headboat Permit Category Daily Retention Limits A recommendation of ICCAT requires that NMFS limit the catch of school BFT, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 cm) CFL, to no more than 8 percent by weight of the total domestic landings quota over each four-consecutive-year period. NMFS is implementing this ICCAT recommendation through annual and inseason adjustments to the school BFT retention limits, as necessary, and through the establishment of a school BFT reserve (64 FR 29090, May 28, 1999; 64 FR 29806, June 3, 1999). The ICCAT recommendation allows for interannual adjustments for overharvests and underharvests, provided that the 8 percent landings limit is not exceeded over the applicable four-consecutive-year period. The 2005 fishing year is the third year in the current accounting period. This multiyear block quota approach provides NMFS with the flexibility to enhance fishing opportunities and to collect information on a broad range of BFT size classes while minimizing the risk of overharvest of the school size class. Implementing regulations for the Atlantic tuna fisheries at § 635.23 set the daily recreational retention limits for BFT and allow for adjustments to the daily recreational retention limits in order to provide for maximum utilization of the Angling category quota over the longest possible period of time. NMFS may increase or decrease the retention limit for any size class BFT or change a vessel trip limit to an angler limit or vice versa. Such adjustments to the retention limits may be applied separately for persons aboard a specific vessels type, such as private vessels, headboats and charter boats. On June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33039), NMFS adjusted the daily recreational retention limit, in all areas, for vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category, to three BFT per vessel per day/trip, consisting of BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL in the school, large school, or small medium size classes. Of the three BFT, a maximum of two school BFT were allowed per vessel per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 cm) CFL. This retention limit remained in effect through July 31, 2005, inclusive. Starting on August 1, 2005, inclusive, the daily retention limit PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 for vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category, reverted back to one school, large school, or small medium BFT, per vessel per day/ trip. This default daily retention limit was scheduled to remain in place through May 31, 2006, inclusive. Based on available quota, historical information regarding fish migration patterns, BFT availability off the east coast, particularly off the mid-Atlantic states, and current recreational BFT catch information derived from the Maryland BFT tagging program and Automated Landing Reporting System (ALRS), NMFS has determined that a modest increase in the daily retention limit, of a limited duration, is appropriate for HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels. NMFS deemed this modest increase as appropriate because of concerns regarding how the default one BFT retention limit might impact charterboat operations late in the season particularly where long distances must be traveled to locate BFT as well as a concern that a recreational retention limit of less than three BFT per vessel per day/trip may not provide reasonable fishing opportunities for charter/ headboats, which carry multiple feepaying passengers. Thus, NMFS adjusts the daily BFT retention limit, in all areas, for vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category, effective September 1, 2005, through September 30, 2005, inclusive, to three BFT per vessel per day/trip, consisting of BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL in the school, large school, or small medium size classes. Of the three BFT, a maximum of two school BFT are allowed per vessel per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 cm) CFL. Effective October 1, 2005, through May 31, 2006, the default daily recreational retention limit of one school, large school, or small medium BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL, per vessel per day/trip will apply in all areas, for all vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category. HMS Angling Category Daily Retention Limits For privately owned and operated recreational vessels, permitted in the HMS Angling category, the daily recreational retention limit will remain at one school, large school, or small medium BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL, per vessel per day/trip effective June 1, 2005 through May 31, 2006, inclusive. E:\FR\FM\18AUR1.SGM 18AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 159 / Thursday, August 18, 2005 / Rules and Regulations Monitoring and Reporting NMFS selected the daily retention limits and their duration after examining current and previous fishing year catch and effort rates, taking into consideration public comment on the options to achieve the ICCAT recommended four-year average 8 percent tolerance on harvest of school BFT, and inseason management measures for the General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories received during the 2005 BFT quota specifications rulemaking process, and analyzing the available quota for the 2005 fishing year. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely through dealer landing reports, the ALRS, state harvest tagging programs in North Carolina and Maryland, and the Large Pelagics Survey. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or, to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. Additionally, NMFS may determine that an allocation from the school BFT reserve is warranted to further fishery management objectives. Closures or subsequent adjustments to the daily retention limits, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872–8862 or (978) 281–9260 for updates on quota monitoring and retention limit adjustments. All BFT landed under the Angling category quota must be reported within 24 hours of landing to the NMFS ALRS via toll-free phone at (888) 872– 8862; or the Internet www.nmfspermits.com; or, if landed in the states of North Carolina or Maryland, to a reporting station prior to offloading. Information about these state harvest tagging programs, including reporting station locations, can be obtained in North Carolina by calling (800) 338–7804, and in Maryland by calling (410) 213–1531. VerDate jul<14>2003 09:27 Aug 17, 2005 Jkt 205001 Classification The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action. NMFS has recently become aware of increased availability of large medium and giant BFT on the New England fishing grounds. This increase in abundance provides the potential to increase General category landings rates for the New England fishery if participants are authorized to harvest two large medium or giant BFT per day. Also, since the end of the 2005 BFT specification comment period to the present day, the HMS Management Division has continued to receive more information refining its understanding of both the commercial and charter/ headboat sectors’ specific needs regarding BFT retention limits. The regulations implementing the HMS FMP provide for inseason retention limit adjustments in order to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Adjustment of retention limits is also necessary in order to avoid excessive quota rollovers to subsequent General category time-period subquotas. Recreational size class BFT traditionally start to migrate during the early fall and are currently available in the northern area. NMFS has already provided a window of enhanced fishing opportunities to HMS Charter/Headboat vessels operating off the coast of midAtlantic states from mid-June through July. In order to balance concerns regarding continued utilization of available quota with not exceeding allotted amounts providing for reasonable fishing opportunities along the entire Atlantic coast, NMFS needs to act promptly to provide enhanced fishing opportunities to northern area fishermen similar to those previously provided to the mid-Atlantic area. Preliminary recreational BFT data also PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 48493 show that a limited increase in the recreational BFT retention limit is possible for the HMS Charter/Headboat fleet while minimizing risks of exceeding the ICCAT allocated quota and the school limit recommendation. Delays in increasing the retention limits would be contrary to the public interest. Such delays would adversely affect those General and HMS Charter/ Headboat category vessels that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than one BFT per day and would further exacerbate the problem of quota rollovers, and/or lack of booked charters. Limited opportunities to access the respective quotas may have negative social and economic impacts to U.S. fishermen that either depend on catching the available quota within the time-periods designated in the HMS FMP, or depend on multiple BFT retention limits to attract individuals to book charters. For both the General and the HMS Charter/Headboat sectors, an adjustment to the retention limits needs to be done as expeditiously as possible for the impacted sectors to benefit from the adjustment. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of the above reasons, and because this action relieves a restriction (i.e., current, default retention limit is one fish per vessel/trip but this action relaxes that limit and allows retention of more fish), there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: August 12, 2005. Anne M. Lange, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 05–16386 Filed 8–15–05; 3:54 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\18AUR1.SGM 18AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 159 (Thursday, August 18, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 48490-48493]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-16386]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[I.D. 080405B]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

[[Page 48491]]


ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the daily Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) 
retention limits for the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory 
Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat categories should be adjusted. The 
adjustment will allow maximum utilization of the General category 
September time-period subquota, and will enhance recreational BFT 
fishing opportunities aboard HMS Charter/Headboat vessels in the later 
portion of the season. Therefore, NMFS increases the daily BFT 
retention limits to provide enhanced commercial General category and 
recreational HMS Charter/Headboat fishing opportunities in all areas 
while minimizing the risk of an overharvest of the General and Angling 
category BFT quotas.

DATES: The effective dates for BFT daily retention limits are provided 
in Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad McHale, 978-281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. The 2005 BFT fishing year began on June 1, 2005, and ends May 
31, 2006. The final initial 2005 BFT specifications and General 
category effort controls were provided on June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33033). 
During this rulemaking, NMFS specifically requested comment on options 
related to a recommendation of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) regarding a four-year average, 8 
percent tolerance on harvest of school BFT. Numerous comments were 
received on this issue as well as a wide range of topics, including 
inseason management measures for the General and HMS Charter/Headboat 
categories throughout the 2005 fishing year. Section 635.27 subdivides 
the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the ICCAT among the various domestic 
fishing categories.

Daily Retention Limits

    Pursuant to this action and the final initial 2005 BFT 
specifications, noted above, the daily BFT retention limits for 
Atlantic tunas General, HMS Charter/Headboat, and HMS Angling 
categories are as follows:

        Table 1. Effective dates for retention limit adjustments
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         BFT Size Class
 Permit Category    Effective Dates         Areas             Limit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
General            August 1 through   All               Two BFT per
                    September 30,                        vessel per day/
                    2005, inclusive                      trip, measuring
                                                         73 inches (185
                                                         cm) curved fork
                                                         length (CFL) or
                                                         larger
                  ------------------------------------------------------
                   October 1, 2005,   All               One BFT per
                    through January                      vessel per day/
                    31, 2006,                            trip, measuring
                    inclusive                            73 inches (185
                                                         cm) CFL or
                                                         larger
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Charter/Headboat   August 1 - 31,     All               One BFT per
                    2005, inclusive                      vessel per day/
                                                         trip, measuring
                                                         27 to less than
                                                         73 inches (69
                                                         to less than
                                                         185 cm) CFL
                  ------------------------------------------------------
                   September 1 - 30,  All               Three BFT per
                    2005, inclusive                      vessel per day/
                                                         trip, measuring
                                                         27 to less than
                                                         73 inches (69
                                                         to less than
                                                         185 cm) CFL. Of
                                                         the three BFT,
                                                         a maximum of
                                                         two BFT are
                                                         allowed per
                                                         vessel per day/
                                                         trip measuring
                                                         27 to less than
                                                         47 inches (69
                                                         to less than
                                                         119 cm) CFL
                  ------------------------------------------------------
                   October 1, 2005,   All               One BFT per
                    through May 31,                      vessel per day/
                    2006, inclusive                      trip, measuring
                                                         27 to less than
                                                         73 inches (119
                                                         to less than
                                                         185 cm) CFL
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Angling            June 1, 2005,      All               One BFT per
                    through May 31,                      vessel per day/
                    2006, inclusive                      trip, measuring
                                                         27 to less than
                                                         73 inches (69
                                                         to less than
                                                         185 cm) CFL
------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limits

    Under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the 
General category daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT 
over a range from zero (on Restricted Fishing Days) to a maximum of 
three per vessel to allow for maximum utilization of the quota for BFT. 
On June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33039), NMFS adjusted the commercial daily BFT 
retention limit, in all areas, for those vessels fishing under the 
General category quota, to two large medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 
inches (185 cm) or greater curved fork length (CFL), per vessel per 
day/trip. This retention limit was to remain in effect through August 
31, 2005, inclusive. From September 1, 2005, through January 31, 2006, 
inclusive, the General category daily BFT retention limit was scheduled 
to revert to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip.
    The June through August time-period subquota allocation for the 
2005 fishing year totaled approximately 540 metric tons (mt). As of 
August 5, 2005, 32.5 mt have been landed in the General

[[Page 48492]]

category and catch rates equal approximately 0.5 mt per day. If catch 
rates are to remain at current levels, approximately 13 mt would be 
landed during the remainder of August. This projection would bring the 
June though August time-period subquota landings to approximately 45 
mt, resulting in an underharvest of approximately 500 mt. This 
carryover combined with the September time-period subquota allocation 
of 270 mt would allow for 770 mt to be harvested in the month of 
September. In combination with an expected subquota rollover from the 
June through August time-period, the September time-period subquota 
allocation, current catch rates, and the daily retention limit 
reverting to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day on 
September 1, 2005, NMFS anticipates the full September time-period 
subquota will not be harvested. This could result in a potential 
excessive rollover into the October through January time-period. Adding 
an excessive amount of unused quota from one time-period subquota to 
the subsequent time period subquota is undesirable because it 
effectively changes the time-period subquota allocation percentages 
established in the HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This issue has 
been discussed extensively during public comment periods for annual BFT 
quota specification and during HMS Advisory Panel meetings.
    Therefore, based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing 
trends, available quota, and the availability of BFT on the fishing 
grounds, NMFS has determined that an increase in the General category 
daily BFT retention limit effective from September 1, 2005, through 
September 30, 2005, inclusive, is warranted. Thus, the general category 
daily retention limit of two large medium or giant BFT per vessel per 
day/trip (see Table 1) will be extended through September 30, 2005. 
Starting on October 1, 2005, through January 31, 2006, inclusive, the 
General category default daily BFT retention limit of one large medium 
or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip will apply. It is highly likely 
that, with a combination of the default retention limit starting on 
October 1, 2005, and the large amount of General category quota 
available, there will be sufficient quota for the coastwide General 
category season to extend into the winter months and allow for a 
southern Atlantic fishery to take place on an order of magnitude of 
prior years.
    The intent of this adjustment is to allow for maximum utilization 
of the U.S. landings quota of BFT while maintaining an equitable 
distribution of fishing opportunities, to help achieve optimum yield in 
the General category BFT fishery, to collect a broad range of data for 
stock monitoring purposes, and to be consistent with the objectives of 
the HMS FMP.

Adjustment of HMS Charter/Headboat Permit Category Daily Retention 
Limits

    A recommendation of ICCAT requires that NMFS limit the catch of 
school BFT, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 
cm) CFL, to no more than 8 percent by weight of the total domestic 
landings quota over each four-consecutive-year period. NMFS is 
implementing this ICCAT recommendation through annual and inseason 
adjustments to the school BFT retention limits, as necessary, and 
through the establishment of a school BFT reserve (64 FR 29090, May 28, 
1999; 64 FR 29806, June 3, 1999). The ICCAT recommendation allows for 
interannual adjustments for overharvests and underharvests, provided 
that the 8 percent landings limit is not exceeded over the applicable 
four-consecutive-year period. The 2005 fishing year is the third year 
in the current accounting period. This multi-year block quota approach 
provides NMFS with the flexibility to enhance fishing opportunities and 
to collect information on a broad range of BFT size classes while 
minimizing the risk of overharvest of the school size class.
    Implementing regulations for the Atlantic tuna fisheries at Sec.  
635.23 set the daily recreational retention limits for BFT and allow 
for adjustments to the daily recreational retention limits in order to 
provide for maximum utilization of the Angling category quota over the 
longest possible period of time. NMFS may increase or decrease the 
retention limit for any size class BFT or change a vessel trip limit to 
an angler limit or vice versa. Such adjustments to the retention limits 
may be applied separately for persons aboard a specific vessels type, 
such as private vessels, headboats and charter boats.
    On June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33039), NMFS adjusted the daily recreational 
retention limit, in all areas, for vessels permitted in the HMS 
Charter/Headboat category, to three BFT per vessel per day/trip, 
consisting of BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 
185 cm) CFL in the school, large school, or small medium size classes. 
Of the three BFT, a maximum of two school BFT were allowed per vessel 
per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 
cm) CFL. This retention limit remained in effect through July 31, 2005, 
inclusive. Starting on August 1, 2005, inclusive, the daily retention 
limit for vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category, 
reverted back to one school, large school, or small medium BFT, per 
vessel per day/trip. This default daily retention limit was scheduled 
to remain in place through May 31, 2006, inclusive.
    Based on available quota, historical information regarding fish 
migration patterns, BFT availability off the east coast, particularly 
off the mid-Atlantic states, and current recreational BFT catch 
information derived from the Maryland BFT tagging program and Automated 
Landing Reporting System (ALRS), NMFS has determined that a modest 
increase in the daily retention limit, of a limited duration, is 
appropriate for HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels. NMFS deemed 
this modest increase as appropriate because of concerns regarding how 
the default one BFT retention limit might impact charterboat operations 
late in the season particularly where long distances must be traveled 
to locate BFT as well as a concern that a recreational retention limit 
of less than three BFT per vessel per day/trip may not provide 
reasonable fishing opportunities for charter/headboats, which carry 
multiple fee-paying passengers. Thus, NMFS adjusts the daily BFT 
retention limit, in all areas, for vessels permitted in the HMS 
Charter/Headboat category, effective September 1, 2005, through 
September 30, 2005, inclusive, to three BFT per vessel per day/trip, 
consisting of BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 
185 cm) CFL in the school, large school, or small medium size classes. 
Of the three BFT, a maximum of two school BFT are allowed per vessel 
per day/trip, measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (69 to less than 119 
cm) CFL.
    Effective October 1, 2005, through May 31, 2006, the default daily 
recreational retention limit of one school, large school, or small 
medium BFT measuring 27 to less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) 
CFL, per vessel per day/trip will apply in all areas, for all vessels 
permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat category.

HMS Angling Category Daily Retention Limits

    For privately owned and operated recreational vessels, permitted in 
the HMS Angling category, the daily recreational retention limit will 
remain at one school, large school, or small medium BFT measuring 27 to 
less than 73 inches (69 to less than 185 cm) CFL, per vessel per day/
trip effective June 1, 2005 through May 31, 2006, inclusive.

[[Page 48493]]

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS selected the daily retention limits and their duration after 
examining current and previous fishing year catch and effort rates, 
taking into consideration public comment on the options to achieve the 
ICCAT recommended four-year average 8 percent tolerance on harvest of 
school BFT, and inseason management measures for the General and HMS 
Charter/Headboat categories received during the 2005 BFT quota 
specifications rulemaking process, and analyzing the available quota 
for the 2005 fishing year. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT 
fishery closely through dealer landing reports, the ALRS, state harvest 
tagging programs in North Carolina and Maryland, and the Large Pelagics 
Survey. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of 
BFT, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments are 
necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or, to enhance 
scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all 
geographic areas. Additionally, NMFS may determine that an allocation 
from the school BFT reserve is warranted to further fishery management 
objectives.
    Closures or subsequent adjustments to the daily retention limits, 
if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, 
fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872-
8862 or (978) 281-9260 for updates on quota monitoring and retention 
limit adjustments. All BFT landed under the Angling category quota must 
be reported within 24 hours of landing to the NMFS ALRS via toll-free 
phone at (888) 872-8862; or the Internet www.nmfspermits.com; or, if 
landed in the states of North Carolina or Maryland, to a reporting 
station prior to offloading. Information about these state harvest 
tagging programs, including reporting station locations, can be 
obtained in North Carolina by calling (800) 338-7804, and in Maryland 
by calling (410) 213-1531.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that it 
is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action.
    NMFS has recently become aware of increased availability of large 
medium and giant BFT on the New England fishing grounds. This increase 
in abundance provides the potential to increase General category 
landings rates for the New England fishery if participants are 
authorized to harvest two large medium or giant BFT per day. Also, 
since the end of the 2005 BFT specification comment period to the 
present day, the HMS Management Division has continued to receive more 
information refining its understanding of both the commercial and 
charter/headboat sectors' specific needs regarding BFT retention 
limits. The regulations implementing the HMS FMP provide for inseason 
retention limit adjustments in order to respond to the unpredictable 
nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature 
of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. 
Adjustment of retention limits is also necessary in order to avoid 
excessive quota rollovers to subsequent General category time-period 
subquotas.
    Recreational size class BFT traditionally start to migrate during 
the early fall and are currently available in the northern area. NMFS 
has already provided a window of enhanced fishing opportunities to HMS 
Charter/Headboat vessels operating off the coast of mid-Atlantic states 
from mid-June through July. In order to balance concerns regarding 
continued utilization of available quota with not exceeding allotted 
amounts providing for reasonable fishing opportunities along the entire 
Atlantic coast, NMFS needs to act promptly to provide enhanced fishing 
opportunities to northern area fishermen similar to those previously 
provided to the mid-Atlantic area. Preliminary recreational BFT data 
also show that a limited increase in the recreational BFT retention 
limit is possible for the HMS Charter/Headboat fleet while minimizing 
risks of exceeding the ICCAT allocated quota and the school limit 
recommendation.
    Delays in increasing the retention limits would be contrary to the 
public interest. Such delays would adversely affect those General and 
HMS Charter/Headboat category vessels that would otherwise have an 
opportunity to harvest more than one BFT per day and would further 
exacerbate the problem of quota rollovers, and/or lack of booked 
charters. Limited opportunities to access the respective quotas may 
have negative social and economic impacts to U.S. fishermen that either 
depend on catching the available quota within the time-periods 
designated in the HMS FMP, or depend on multiple BFT retention limits 
to attract individuals to book charters. For both the General and the 
HMS Charter/Headboat sectors, an adjustment to the retention limits 
needs to be done as expeditiously as possible for the impacted sectors 
to benefit from the adjustment.
    Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to 
waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of 
the above reasons, and because this action relieves a restriction 
(i.e., current, default retention limit is one fish per vessel/trip but 
this action relaxes that limit and allows retention of more fish), 
there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: August 12, 2005.
Anne M. Lange,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 05-16386 Filed 8-15-05; 3:54 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S