Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Commercial Shark Management Measures, 58366-58369 [05-20111]

Download as PDF 58366 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 193 / Thursday, October 6, 2005 / Proposed Rules Community Conservancy manages the Conservancy (unit 1a) of the same name. With the exception of the Glendora Community Conservancy, these entities exceed the threshold established for small governments (service population of 50,000 or less). Therefore, the Glendora Community Conservancy is the only land manager considered in this screening analysis. The DEA (See Section 6) estimates potential costs to public and private land management entities. Of the entities analyzed, the Glendora Community Conservancy is the only small entity. This section estimates potential impacts of Brodiaea filifolia conservation activities to the Conservancy. The Conservancy’s overall annual budget ranges from $15,000 to $30,000 and includes such elements as insurance, discounted land taxes, weed abatement, and trail maintenance. The analysis estimates that potential future costs associated with Brodiaea filifolia conservation activities at the Conservancy may range from $1,600 to $2,600 on an annualized basis (assuming a seven percent discount rate). These costs represent approximately 11 percent to 17 percent of annual expenditures assuming the low-end estimate of the annual budget ($15,000) and 5 percent to 9 percent assuming the high-end estimate ($30,000). Considering that the Glendora Community Conservancy is in the business of conservation, this is not an unexpected expenditure for the Conservancy. Consequently, we do not believe that the designation of critical habitat for B. filifolia will significantly or uniquely affect any small governmental entity addressed in the DEA. As such, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. Takings In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (‘‘Government Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights’’), we have analyzed the potential takings implications of proposing critical habitat for Brodiaea filifolia. Critical habitat designation does not affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. In conclusion, the designation of critical habitat for B. filifolia does not pose significant takings implications. Author The primary authors of this notice are the staff of the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: September 26, 2005. Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 05–20050 Filed 10–5–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 050927248–5248–01; I.D. 090805C] RIN 0648–AT74 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Commercial Shark Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: SUMMARY: This proposed rule would establish the 2006 first trimester season quotas for large coastal sharks (LCS) and small coastal sharks (SCS) based on over- and underharvests from the 2005 first trimester season. In addition, this rule proposes the opening and closing dates for the LCS fishery based on adjustments to the trimester quotas. The intended effect of these proposed actions is to provide advance notice of quotas and season dates for the Atlantic commercial shark fishery. Written comments will be accepted until November 7, 2005. DATES: Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to Chris Rilling, Highly Migratory Species Management Division via: • E-mail: SF1.090805C@noaa.gov. • Mail: 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on Proposed Rule for 1st Trimester Season Lengths and Quotas.’’ • Fax: 301–713–1917. • Federal e-Rulemaking portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Include in the subject line the following identifier: I.D. 090805C. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Rilling or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone: 301–713–2347 or by fax: 301– 713–1917. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Proposed Opening and Closing Dates and Quotas Proposed opening and closing dates and quotas for the 2006 first trimester season by region are provided in Table 1. TABLE 1 — PROPOSED OPENING AND CLOSING DATES AND QUOTAS Species Group Region Quota January 1, 2006 April 15, 2006 11:30 p.m. local time 222.8 mt dw (491,185 lb dw) South Atlantic March 15, 2006 11:30 p.m. local time 141.3 mt dw (311,510 lb dw) North Atlantic Small Coastal Sharks Closing Date Gulf of Mexico Large Coastal Sharks Opening Date April 30, 2006 11:30 p.m. local time 5.3 mt dw (11,684 lb dw) To be determined, as necessary 14.8 mt dw (32,628 lb dw) Gulf of Mexico January 1, 2006 South Atlantic VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:32 Oct 05, 2005 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 284.6 mt dw (627,429 lb dw) Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\06OCP1.SGM 06OCP1 58367 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 193 / Thursday, October 6, 2005 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1 — PROPOSED OPENING AND CLOSING DATES AND QUOTAS—Continued Species Group Region Opening Date Closing Date North Atlantic Blue sharks 18.7 mt dw (41,226 lb dw) No regional quotas Porbeagle sharks To be determined, as necessary January 1, 2006 The Atlantic shark fishery is managed under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, finalized in 1999, and Amendment 1 to the FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (Amendment 1), finalized in 2003, are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. On December 24, 2003, NMFS published a final rule (68 FR 74746) for Amendment 1 that established, among other things, an annual landings quota of 1,017 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) for LCS, and an annual landings quota of 454 mt dw for SCS. The final rule also established regional LCS and SCS quotas for the commercial shark fishery in the Gulf of Mexico (Texas to the west coast of Florida), South Atlantic (east coast of Florida to North Carolina and the Caribbean), and North Atlantic (Virginia to Maine). The quota for LCS was split among the three regions based upon historic landings. On November 30, 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 69537) that, among other things, adjusted the 2005 regional quotas for LCS and SCS based on updated landings information, divided the quotas among the three trimester seasons, and implemented a new process for notifying participants of season opening and closing dates and quotas. Consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(iii), as adjusted by the 2004 final rule, the annual LCS quota (1,017 mt dw) is split among the three regions as follows: 52 percent to the Gulf of Mexico, 41 percent to the South Atlantic, and 7 percent to the North Atlantic. The annual SCS quota (454 mt dw) is split among the three regions as follows: 10 percent to the Gulf of Mexico, 87 percent to the South Atlantic, and 3 percent to the North Atlantic. The regional quotas for LCS VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:32 Oct 05, 2005 Jkt 208001 91 mt dw (200,619 lb dw) 30.7 mt dw (67,681 lb dw) Pelagic sharks other than blue or porbeagle Background Quota 162.7 mt dw (358,688 lb dw) and SCS were divided equally between the trimester seasons in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and according to historical landings of 4, 88, and 8 percent for LCS, and 1, 9, and 90 percent for SCS in the first, second, and third trimester seasons, respectively, in the North Atlantic. The quotas were divided in this manner because sharks are available throughout much of the year in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions, but primarily during the summer months in the North Atlantic region. Dividing the quotas equally between the three trimester seasons in the South Atlantic also resulted in a greater proportion of the quota being made available during August and September when the time/area closure off North Carolina is no longer in effect. Consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(vi), any over- or underharvest in a given region from the 2005 first trimester season will be carried over to the 2006 first trimester season. This action would not change the 2006 base landings quota or the 2006 regional quotas established in the November 30, 2004, final rule. In addition, the November 30, 2004, final rule established a process for issuing proposed and final rules to notify interested parties of season lengths and quotas and to facilitate public comment. Annual Landings Quotas Pursuant to Amendment 1, the 2006 annual base landings quotas are 1,017 mt dw (2,242,078 lb dw) for LCS and 454 mt dw (1,000,888.4 lb dw) for SCS. The 2006 quota levels for pelagic, blue, and porbeagle sharks are 488 mt dw (1,075,844.8 lb dw), 273 mt dw (601,855.8 lb dw), and 92 mt dw (202,823.2 lb dw), respectively. This proposed rule does not propose any changes to these overall base landings quotas. As of August 22, 2005, the overall 2005 first trimester season quotas for LCS and SCS had not been exceeded. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Reported landings of LCS for all regions combined were at 84 percent (249.6 mt dw) of the LCS first trimester season quota (295.9 mt dw), and SCS landings for all regions combined were at 30 percent (74.6 mt dw) of the overall SCS trimester quota (246.0 mt dw). Gulf of Mexico Regional Landings Quotas For all regions, the proposed quotas may change depending on any updates to the reported landings from the 2005 first trimester season. In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the Gulf of Mexico had an underharvest of 46.7 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a result, the Gulf of Mexico LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester season is proposed to be 222.8 mt dw, ((1,017*0.52*0.333)+46.7). In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the Gulf of Mexico had an overharvest of 0.3 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a result, the Gulf of Mexico SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester season is proposed to be 14.8 mt dw, ((454*0.10*0.333)-0.3). South Atlantic Regional Landings Quotas In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the South Atlantic had an underharvest of 2.4 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a result, the South Atlantic LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester season is proposed to be 141.3 mt dw, ((1,017*0.41*0.333)+2.4). In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the South Atlantic had an underharvest of 153.1 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a result, the South Atlantic SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester season is proposed to be 284.6 mt dw, ((454*0.87*0.333)+153.1). North Atlantic Regional Landings Quotas In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the North Atlantic had an underharvest of 2.5 mt dw in the first trimester season. The North Atlantic LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester E:\FR\FM\06OCP1.SGM 06OCP1 58368 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 193 / Thursday, October 6, 2005 / Proposed Rules season is proposed to be 5.3 mt dw, ((1,017*0.07*0.04)+2.5). In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the North Atlantic had an underharvest of 18.6 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a result, the North Atlantic SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester season is proposed to be 18.7 mt dw, ((454*0.03*0.01)+18.6). Pelagic Shark Quotas As of August 2005, approximately 23.1 mt dw had been reported landed in the 2005 first trimester fishing season in total for pelagic, blue, and porbeagle sharks combined. Thus, the pelagic shark quota does not need to be reduced consistent with the current regulations 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(iv). The 2006 first trimester season quotas for pelagic, blue, and porbeagle sharks are proposed to be 162.7 mt dw (358,688 lb dw), 91 mt dw (200,619 lb dw), and 30.7 mt dw (67,681 lb dw), respectively. Proposed Fishing Season Notification for the First Trimester Season The first trimester fishing season of the 2006 fishing year for SCS, pelagic sharks, blue sharks, and porbeagle sharks in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, is proposed to open on January 1, 2006. When quotas are projected to be reached for the SCS, pelagic, blue, or porbeagle sharks, the Assistant Administrator (AA) will file notification of closures at the Office of Federal Register at least 14 days before the effective date, consistent with 50 CFR 635.28(b)(2). The first trimester fishing season of the 2006 fishing year for LCS is proposed to open on January 1, 2006, in the South Atlantic, North Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico regions. To estimate the LCS fishery closing dates for the first trimester season, NMFS calculated the average catch rates from January through April during the first season in recent years (2002–2005). Because state landings during a Federal closure are counted against the quota, NMFS also calculated the average amount of quota reported received during the Federal closure dates of the years used to estimate catch rates. Pursuant to 50 CFR 635.5(b)(1), shark dealers must report any sharks received twice a month. More specifically, sharks received between the first and 15th of every month must be reported to NMFS by the 25th of that same month and those received between the 16th and the end of the month must be reported to NMFS by the 10th of the following month. Thus, in order to provide consistency and predictability in managing the fishery, NMFS proposes to VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:32 Oct 05, 2005 Jkt 208001 close the Federal LCS fishery on either the 15th or the end of any given month. Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in recent years in the Gulf of Mexico region, approximately 91 percent of the available first trimester LCS quota (222.8 mt dw) would likely be taken by the second week in April, and 103 percent of the available LCS quota would likely be taken by the end of April. Dealer data also indicate that, on average, approximately 5.4 mt dw of LCS has been reported received by dealers during a Federal closure. This is approximately 2.4 percent of the proposed available quota. If catch rates in 2006 are similar to the average catch rates from 2002 through 2005, 93.4 percent (91 + 2.4 percent) of the first trimester quota could be caught by the second week in April. If the fishery remains open until the end of April, the quota could be exceeded (103 + 2.4 = 105.4 percent). Thus, NMFS proposes to close the fishery in the Gulf of Mexico on April 15, 2006. Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in recent years in the South Atlantic region, and accounting for the reduction in effort due to the time/area closure off North Carolina, approximately 79 percent of the available first trimester LCS quota (141.3 mt dw) would likely be taken by the second week in March, and 88 percent of the available LCS quota would likely be taken by the end of March. Dealer data also indicate that, on average, approximately 28 mt dw of LCS has been reported received by dealers during a Federal closure. This is approximately 20 percent of the proposed available quota. If catch rates in 2006 are similar to the average catch rates from 2002 through 2005, 99 percent (79 + 20 percent) of the first trimester quota could be caught by the second week in March. If the fishery remains open until the end of March, the quota could be exceeded (88 + 20 = 108 percent). Thus, NMFS proposes to close the fishery in the South Atlantic on March 15, 2006. Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in recent years in the North Atlantic region, approximately 57 percent of the available first trimester LCS quota (5.4 mt dw) would likely be taken by the end of April. Dealer data also indicate that no LCS landings have been reported received by dealers after a Federal closure and before the start of the second trimester season on May 1, 2006. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to close the fishery in the North Atlantic on April 30, 2006. PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Request for Comments Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via email, mail, or fax by November 7, 2005 (see DATES and ADDRESSES). Classification This proposed rule is published under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(vi), the purpose of this action is to adjust the LCS trimester quotas based on over- or underharvests from the 2005 fishing season, and to announce the 2006 first trimester season opening and closing dates. This proposed rule will not increase the overall quotas or landings for LCS or SCS, and is not expected to increase fishing effort or protected species interactions. On November 30, 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 69537) that, among other things, adjusted the 2005 regional quotas for LCS and SCS based on updated landings information and divided the quotas among the three trimester seasons. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) conducted for the November 2004 rule indicated that there were approximately 253 directed commercial shark permit holders, 358 incidental commercial shark permit holders, and 267 commercial shark dealers, all of which are considered small entities according to the Small Business Administration’s standard for defining a small entity (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3)). The FRFA concluded that overall economic impacts of adjusting the regional quotas on these small entities were expected to be minimal. As of April 20, 2005, there were approximately 229 directed commercial shark permit holders, 321 incidental commercial shark permit holders, and 230 commercial shark dealers. This proposed rule would not change the overall LCS or SCS base landings quotas or the overall regional quotas established in the November 2004 rule, or implement any new management measures not previously considered, and is not expected to increase fishing effort or protected species interactions. This proposed rule would adjust the quotas for each of the regions based on underharvests from the 2005 first trimester season consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(vi). The Gulf of Mexico was the only region with an overharvest of 0.3 mt dw of its SCS quota, and will have its SCS regional quota lowered by this corresponding amount. The 2003 average ex-vessel price for LCS flesh was $0.78/lb dw, and the average ex- E:\FR\FM\06OCP1.SGM 06OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 193 / Thursday, October 6, 2005 / Proposed Rules vessel price for SCS flesh was $0.43/lb dw. Although shark fins command a higher price ($17.09/lb dw), they represent only a small proportion of the total landings. The Gulf of Mexico experienced a net underharvest of 46.7 mt dw (+$80,304, excluding fins) of LCS, and a net overharvest of 0.3 mt dw (-$284) of SCS during the 2005 first trimester season. Thus the net economic impact to the Gulf of Mexico is approximately +$80,020. This represents approximately 20 percent of the estimated 2006 first trimester gross revenue of $397,154, ($383,124 for LCS, excluding fins, + $13,875 for SCS) for the Gulf of Mexico region. Given that there are approximately 35 active shark vessels (defined as vessels with greater than 25 percent of landings derived from sharks as reported in the snappergrouper logbook) in the Gulf of Mexico, this could result in an increase in revenue of approximately $2,286 per vessel during the 2006 first trimester season. For the South Atlantic and North Atlantic, which both experienced underharvests of 2.4 and 2.5 mt dw for LCS, respectively, and 153.1 and 18.6 mt dw for SCS, respectively, during the 2005 first trimester season, the net economic impact would also be positive. For the South Atlantic, if the entire quota is caught, this could result VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:32 Oct 05, 2005 Jkt 208001 in a net economic benefit of approximately $149,262, ($4,127 for LCS, excluding fins, + $145,135 for SCS). This represents approximately 29 percent of the estimated 2006 first trimester season gross revenue of $512,771, ($242,977 for LCS, excluding fins, + $269,794 for SCS) for the South Atlantic region. Given that there are approximately 28 active shark vessels in the South Atlantic, this could result in an increase in revenue of approximately $5,330 per vessel during the 2006 first trimester season. For the North Atlantic, if the entire quota is caught, this could result in an economic benefit of approximately $4,299 for LCS, excluding fins, + $17,632 for SCS. This represents approximately 16 percent of the 2006 first trimester season gross revenue of $26,840, ($9,113 for LCS, excluding fins, + $17,727 for SCS) for the North Atlantic region. Given that there are fewer than 10 active shark vessels in the North Atlantic, this could result in an increase in revenue of approximately $2,684 per vessel during the 2006 first trimester season. The increases in possible revenue as a result of transferring the underharvests are only potential amounts that may or may not be realized. If it is not realized, then there would be no economic impact because the fishermen did not receive PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 58369 any benefit from the transfer. If it is realized, then it will result in a positive impact as described above. Thus, the Chief Counsel for Regulation at the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities beyond those considered in Amendment 1, or the November 2004 final rule (69 FR 69537). This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. NMFS has determined preliminarily that these regulations would be implemented in a manner consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of those coastal states on the Atlantic including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean that have approved coastal zone management programs. Letters have been sent to the relevant states asking for their concurrence. Dated: October 3, 2005. William T. Hogarth, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 05–20111 Filed 10–3–05; 2:24 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\06OCP1.SGM 06OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 193 (Thursday, October 6, 2005)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 58366-58369]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-20111]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 050927248-5248-01; I.D. 090805C]
RIN 0648-AT74


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Commercial Shark 
Management Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would establish the 2006 first trimester 
season quotas for large coastal sharks (LCS) and small coastal sharks 
(SCS) based on over- and underharvests from the 2005 first trimester 
season. In addition, this rule proposes the opening and closing dates 
for the LCS fishery based on adjustments to the trimester quotas. The 
intended effect of these proposed actions is to provide advance notice 
of quotas and season dates for the Atlantic commercial shark fishery.

DATES: Written comments will be accepted until November 7, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to 
Chris Rilling, Highly Migratory Species Management Division via:
     E-mail: SF1.090805C@noaa.gov.
     Mail: 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 
Please mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on Proposed Rule for 
1\st\ Trimester Season Lengths and Quotas.''
     Fax: 301-713-1917.
     Federal e-Rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Include in the subject line the following identifier: I.D. 090805C.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Rilling or Karyl Brewster-Geisz 
by phone: 301-713-2347 or by fax: 301-713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Proposed Opening and Closing Dates and Quotas

    Proposed opening and closing dates and quotas for the 2006 first 
trimester season by region are provided in Table 1.

        Table 1 -- Proposed Opening and Closing Dates and Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Opening    Closing
        Species Group          Region     Date       Date        Quota
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Large Coastal Sharks          Gulf of   January   April 15,   222.8 mt
                               Mexico    1, 2006   2006        dw
                                                   11:30       (491,185
                                                   p.m.        lb dw)
                                                   local
                                                   time
                             ----------          -----------------------
                              South     ........  March 15,   141.3 mt
                               Atlanti             2006        dw
                               c                   11:30       (311,510
                                                   p.m.        lb dw)
                                                   local
                                                   time
                             ----------          -----------------------
                              North     ........  April 30,   5.3 mt dw
                               Atlanti             2006        (11,684
                               c                   11:30       lb dw)
                                                   p.m.
                                                   local
                                                   time
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Coastal Sharks          Gulf of   January   To be       14.8 mt dw
                               Mexico    1, 2006   determine   (32,628
                                                   d, as       lb dw)
                                                   necessary
                             ----------                      -----------
                              South     ........  ..........  284.6 mt
                               Atlanti                         dw
                               c                               (627,429
                                                               lb dw)
                             ----------                      -----------

[[Page 58367]]

 
                              North     ........  ..........  18.7 mt dw
                               Atlanti                         (41,226
                               c                               lb dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blue sharks                   No        ........  To be       91 mt dw
                               regiona             determine   (200,619
                               l                   d, as       lb dw)
                               quotas              necessary
-----------------------------                                -----------
Porbeagle sharks              ........  January   ..........  30.7 mt dw
                                         1, 2006               (67,681
                                                               lb dw)
-----------------------------                                -----------
Pelagic sharks other than     ........  ........  ..........  162.7 mt
 blue or porbeagle                                             dw
                                                               (358,688
                                                               lb dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Background

    The Atlantic shark fishery is managed under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act). The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Tunas, 
Swordfish, and Sharks, finalized in 1999, and Amendment 1 to the FMP 
for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (Amendment 1), finalized in 
2003, are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635.
    On December 24, 2003, NMFS published a final rule (68 FR 74746) for 
Amendment 1 that established, among other things, an annual landings 
quota of 1,017 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) for LCS, and an 
annual landings quota of 454 mt dw for SCS. The final rule also 
established regional LCS and SCS quotas for the commercial shark 
fishery in the Gulf of Mexico (Texas to the west coast of Florida), 
South Atlantic (east coast of Florida to North Carolina and the 
Caribbean), and North Atlantic (Virginia to Maine). The quota for LCS 
was split among the three regions based upon historic landings.
    On November 30, 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 69537) 
that, among other things, adjusted the 2005 regional quotas for LCS and 
SCS based on updated landings information, divided the quotas among the 
three trimester seasons, and implemented a new process for notifying 
participants of season opening and closing dates and quotas.
    Consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(iii), as adjusted by the 2004 
final rule, the annual LCS quota (1,017 mt dw) is split among the three 
regions as follows: 52 percent to the Gulf of Mexico, 41 percent to the 
South Atlantic, and 7 percent to the North Atlantic. The annual SCS 
quota (454 mt dw) is split among the three regions as follows: 10 
percent to the Gulf of Mexico, 87 percent to the South Atlantic, and 3 
percent to the North Atlantic. The regional quotas for LCS and SCS were 
divided equally between the trimester seasons in the South Atlantic and 
the Gulf of Mexico, and according to historical landings of 4, 88, and 
8 percent for LCS, and 1, 9, and 90 percent for SCS in the first, 
second, and third trimester seasons, respectively, in the North 
Atlantic.
    The quotas were divided in this manner because sharks are available 
throughout much of the year in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic 
regions, but primarily during the summer months in the North Atlantic 
region. Dividing the quotas equally between the three trimester seasons 
in the South Atlantic also resulted in a greater proportion of the 
quota being made available during August and September when the time/
area closure off North Carolina is no longer in effect.
    Consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(vi), any over- or underharvest 
in a given region from the 2005 first trimester season will be carried 
over to the 2006 first trimester season. This action would not change 
the 2006 base landings quota or the 2006 regional quotas established in 
the November 30, 2004, final rule.
    In addition, the November 30, 2004, final rule established a 
process for issuing proposed and final rules to notify interested 
parties of season lengths and quotas and to facilitate public comment.

Annual Landings Quotas

    Pursuant to Amendment 1, the 2006 annual base landings quotas are 
1,017 mt dw (2,242,078 lb dw) for LCS and 454 mt dw (1,000,888.4 lb dw) 
for SCS. The 2006 quota levels for pelagic, blue, and porbeagle sharks 
are 488 mt dw (1,075,844.8 lb dw), 273 mt dw (601,855.8 lb dw), and 92 
mt dw (202,823.2 lb dw), respectively. This proposed rule does not 
propose any changes to these overall base landings quotas.
    As of August 22, 2005, the overall 2005 first trimester season 
quotas for LCS and SCS had not been exceeded. Reported landings of LCS 
for all regions combined were at 84 percent (249.6 mt dw) of the LCS 
first trimester season quota (295.9 mt dw), and SCS landings for all 
regions combined were at 30 percent (74.6 mt dw) of the overall SCS 
trimester quota (246.0 mt dw).

Gulf of Mexico Regional Landings Quotas

    For all regions, the proposed quotas may change depending on any 
updates to the reported landings from the 2005 first trimester season. 
In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the Gulf of Mexico had 
an underharvest of 46.7 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a 
result, the Gulf of Mexico LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester 
season is proposed to be 222.8 mt dw, ((1,017*0.52*0.333)+46.7).
    In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the Gulf of Mexico 
had an overharvest of 0.3 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a 
result, the Gulf of Mexico SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester 
season is proposed to be 14.8 mt dw, ((454*0.10*0.333)-0.3).

South Atlantic Regional Landings Quotas

    In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the South Atlantic 
had an underharvest of 2.4 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a 
result, the South Atlantic LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester 
season is proposed to be 141.3 mt dw, ((1,017*0.41*0.333)+2.4).
    In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the South Atlantic 
had an underharvest of 153.1 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a 
result, the South Atlantic SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester 
season is proposed to be 284.6 mt dw, ((454*0.87*0.333)+153.1).

North Atlantic Regional Landings Quotas

    In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for LCS, the North Atlantic 
had an underharvest of 2.5 mt dw in the first trimester season. The 
North Atlantic LCS quota for the 2006 first trimester

[[Page 58368]]

season is proposed to be 5.3 mt dw, ((1,017*0.07*0.04)+2.5).
    In 2005, preliminary data indicate that for SCS, the North Atlantic 
had an underharvest of 18.6 mt dw in the first trimester season. As a 
result, the North Atlantic SCS quota for the 2006 first trimester 
season is proposed to be 18.7 mt dw, ((454*0.03*0.01)+18.6).

Pelagic Shark Quotas

    As of August 2005, approximately 23.1 mt dw had been reported 
landed in the 2005 first trimester fishing season in total for pelagic, 
blue, and porbeagle sharks combined. Thus, the pelagic shark quota does 
not need to be reduced consistent with the current regulations 50 CFR 
635.27(b)(1)(iv). The 2006 first trimester season quotas for pelagic, 
blue, and porbeagle sharks are proposed to be 162.7 mt dw (358,688 lb 
dw), 91 mt dw (200,619 lb dw), and 30.7 mt dw (67,681 lb dw), 
respectively.

Proposed Fishing Season Notification for the First Trimester Season

    The first trimester fishing season of the 2006 fishing year for 
SCS, pelagic sharks, blue sharks, and porbeagle sharks in the 
northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the 
Caribbean Sea, is proposed to open on January 1, 2006. When quotas are 
projected to be reached for the SCS, pelagic, blue, or porbeagle 
sharks, the Assistant Administrator (AA) will file notification of 
closures at the Office of Federal Register at least 14 days before the 
effective date, consistent with 50 CFR 635.28(b)(2).
    The first trimester fishing season of the 2006 fishing year for LCS 
is proposed to open on January 1, 2006, in the South Atlantic, North 
Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico regions. To estimate the LCS fishery 
closing dates for the first trimester season, NMFS calculated the 
average catch rates from January through April during the first season 
in recent years (2002-2005). Because state landings during a Federal 
closure are counted against the quota, NMFS also calculated the average 
amount of quota reported received during the Federal closure dates of 
the years used to estimate catch rates.
    Pursuant to 50 CFR 635.5(b)(1), shark dealers must report any 
sharks received twice a month. More specifically, sharks received 
between the first and 15th of every month must be reported to NMFS by 
the 25th of that same month and those received between the 16th and the 
end of the month must be reported to NMFS by the 10th of the following 
month. Thus, in order to provide consistency and predictability in 
managing the fishery, NMFS proposes to close the Federal LCS fishery on 
either the 15th or the end of any given month.
    Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in 
recent years in the Gulf of Mexico region, approximately 91 percent of 
the available first trimester LCS quota (222.8 mt dw) would likely be 
taken by the second week in April, and 103 percent of the available LCS 
quota would likely be taken by the end of April. Dealer data also 
indicate that, on average, approximately 5.4 mt dw of LCS has been 
reported received by dealers during a Federal closure. This is 
approximately 2.4 percent of the proposed available quota. If catch 
rates in 2006 are similar to the average catch rates from 2002 through 
2005, 93.4 percent (91 + 2.4 percent) of the first trimester quota 
could be caught by the second week in April. If the fishery remains 
open until the end of April, the quota could be exceeded (103 + 2.4 = 
105.4 percent). Thus, NMFS proposes to close the fishery in the Gulf of 
Mexico on April 15, 2006.
    Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in 
recent years in the South Atlantic region, and accounting for the 
reduction in effort due to the time/area closure off North Carolina, 
approximately 79 percent of the available first trimester LCS quota 
(141.3 mt dw) would likely be taken by the second week in March, and 88 
percent of the available LCS quota would likely be taken by the end of 
March. Dealer data also indicate that, on average, approximately 28 mt 
dw of LCS has been reported received by dealers during a Federal 
closure. This is approximately 20 percent of the proposed available 
quota. If catch rates in 2006 are similar to the average catch rates 
from 2002 through 2005, 99 percent (79 + 20 percent) of the first 
trimester quota could be caught by the second week in March. If the 
fishery remains open until the end of March, the quota could be 
exceeded (88 + 20 = 108 percent). Thus, NMFS proposes to close the 
fishery in the South Atlantic on March 15, 2006.
    Based on the average January through April LCS catch rates in 
recent years in the North Atlantic region, approximately 57 percent of 
the available first trimester LCS quota (5.4 mt dw) would likely be 
taken by the end of April. Dealer data also indicate that no LCS 
landings have been reported received by dealers after a Federal closure 
and before the start of the second trimester season on May 1, 2006. 
Accordingly, NMFS proposes to close the fishery in the North Atlantic 
on April 30, 2006.

Request for Comments

    Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via email, mail, or 
fax by November 7, 2005 (see DATES and ADDRESSES).

Classification

    This proposed rule is published under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Consistent with 50 CFR 
635.27(b)(1)(vi), the purpose of this action is to adjust the LCS 
trimester quotas based on over- or underharvests from the 2005 fishing 
season, and to announce the 2006 first trimester season opening and 
closing dates. This proposed rule will not increase the overall quotas 
or landings for LCS or SCS, and is not expected to increase fishing 
effort or protected species interactions.
    On November 30, 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 69537) 
that, among other things, adjusted the 2005 regional quotas for LCS and 
SCS based on updated landings information and divided the quotas among 
the three trimester seasons. A final regulatory flexibility analysis 
(FRFA) conducted for the November 2004 rule indicated that there were 
approximately 253 directed commercial shark permit holders, 358 
incidental commercial shark permit holders, and 267 commercial shark 
dealers, all of which are considered small entities according to the 
Small Business Administration's standard for defining a small entity (5 
U.S.C. 603(b)(3)). The FRFA concluded that overall economic impacts of 
adjusting the regional quotas on these small entities were expected to 
be minimal. As of April 20, 2005, there were approximately 229 directed 
commercial shark permit holders, 321 incidental commercial shark permit 
holders, and 230 commercial shark dealers.
    This proposed rule would not change the overall LCS or SCS base 
landings quotas or the overall regional quotas established in the 
November 2004 rule, or implement any new management measures not 
previously considered, and is not expected to increase fishing effort 
or protected species interactions. This proposed rule would adjust the 
quotas for each of the regions based on underharvests from the 2005 
first trimester season consistent with 50 CFR 635.27(b)(1)(vi).
    The Gulf of Mexico was the only region with an overharvest of 0.3 
mt dw of its SCS quota, and will have its SCS regional quota lowered by 
this corresponding amount. The 2003 average ex-vessel price for LCS 
flesh was $0.78/lb dw, and the average ex-

[[Page 58369]]

vessel price for SCS flesh was $0.43/lb dw. Although shark fins command 
a higher price ($17.09/lb dw), they represent only a small proportion 
of the total landings. The Gulf of Mexico experienced a net 
underharvest of 46.7 mt dw (+$80,304, excluding fins) of LCS, and a net 
overharvest of 0.3 mt dw (-$284) of SCS during the 2005 first trimester 
season. Thus the net economic impact to the Gulf of Mexico is 
approximately +$80,020. This represents approximately 20 percent of the 
estimated 2006 first trimester gross revenue of $397,154, ($383,124 for 
LCS, excluding fins, + $13,875 for SCS) for the Gulf of Mexico region. 
Given that there are approximately 35 active shark vessels (defined as 
vessels with greater than 25 percent of landings derived from sharks as 
reported in the snapper-grouper logbook) in the Gulf of Mexico, this 
could result in an increase in revenue of approximately $2,286 per 
vessel during the 2006 first trimester season.
    For the South Atlantic and North Atlantic, which both experienced 
underharvests of 2.4 and 2.5 mt dw for LCS, respectively, and 153.1 and 
18.6 mt dw for SCS, respectively, during the 2005 first trimester 
season, the net economic impact would also be positive. For the South 
Atlantic, if the entire quota is caught, this could result in a net 
economic benefit of approximately $149,262, ($4,127 for LCS, excluding 
fins, + $145,135 for SCS). This represents approximately 29 percent of 
the estimated 2006 first trimester season gross revenue of $512,771, 
($242,977 for LCS, excluding fins, + $269,794 for SCS) for the South 
Atlantic region. Given that there are approximately 28 active shark 
vessels in the South Atlantic, this could result in an increase in 
revenue of approximately $5,330 per vessel during the 2006 first 
trimester season.
    For the North Atlantic, if the entire quota is caught, this could 
result in an economic benefit of approximately $4,299 for LCS, 
excluding fins, + $17,632 for SCS. This represents approximately 16 
percent of the 2006 first trimester season gross revenue of $26,840, 
($9,113 for LCS, excluding fins, + $17,727 for SCS) for the North 
Atlantic region. Given that there are fewer than 10 active shark 
vessels in the North Atlantic, this could result in an increase in 
revenue of approximately $2,684 per vessel during the 2006 first 
trimester season. The increases in possible revenue as a result of 
transferring the underharvests are only potential amounts that may or 
may not be realized. If it is not realized, then there would be no 
economic impact because the fishermen did not receive any benefit from 
the transfer. If it is realized, then it will result in a positive 
impact as described above. Thus, the Chief Counsel for Regulation at 
the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy 
at the Small Business Administration that this action would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
beyond those considered in Amendment 1, or the November 2004 final rule 
(69 FR 69537).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS has determined preliminarily that these regulations would be 
implemented in a manner consistent to the maximum extent practicable 
with the enforceable policies of those coastal states on the Atlantic 
including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean that have approved coastal 
zone management programs. Letters have been sent to the relevant states 
asking for their concurrence.

    Dated: October 3, 2005.
William T. Hogarth,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 05-20111 Filed 10-3-05; 2:24 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S