Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act; Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery, 20984-20986 [E6-6108]

Download as PDF 20984 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 78 / Monday, April 24, 2006 / Notices Committee advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration with respect to technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to transportation and related equipment or technology. Agenda: 1. Welcome and Introductions. 2. Regulatory Overview. 3. Policy Overview. 4. Missile Technology Control Regime. 5. Report on the Wassenaar Experts Group Meeting. 6. Jurisdiction Technical Working Group Report. 7. Proposal by Boeing for a New Working Group Focused on Composite Materials. 8. Presentation of Papers and Comments by the Public. 9. Follow-up on Open Action Items. The meeting willl be open to the public and a limited number of seats wil be available. Reservations are not accepted. To the extent time permits, members of the public may present oral statements to the Committee. Written statements may be submitted at any time before or after the meeting. However, to facilitate distribution of public presentation materials to Committee members, the Committee suggests that presenters forward the public presentation materails to Yvette Springer at Yspringer@bis.doc.gov For more information contact Ms. Springer on (202) 482–4814. Dated: April 17, 2006. Yvette Springer, Committee Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 06–3832 Filed 4–27–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–JT–M DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Export Trade Certificate of Review Notice of Application to Amend an Export Trade Certificate of Review. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES ACTION: SUMMARY: Export Trading Company Affairs (‘‘ETCA’’), International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, has received an application to amend an Export Trade Certificate of Review (‘‘Certificate’’). This notice summarizes the proposed amendment and requests comments relevant to whether the Certificate should be issued. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey Anspacher, Director, Export Trading Company Affairs, International Trade Administration, (202) 482–5131 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:56 Apr 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 (this is not a toll-free number) or E-mail at oetca@ita.doc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title III of the Export Trading Company Act of 1982 (15 U.S.C. 4001–21) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to issue Export Trade Certificates of Review. An Export Trade Certificate of Review protects the holder and the members identified in the Certificate from state and federal government antitrust actions and from private treble damage antitrust actions for the export conduct specified in the Certificate and carried out in compliance with its terms and conditions. Section 302(b)(1) of the Export Trading Company Act of 1982 and 15 CFR 325.6(a) require the Secretary to publish a notice in the Federal Register identifying the applicant and summarizing its proposed export conduct. Request for Public Comments Interested parties may submit written comments relevant to the determination whether an amended Certificate should be issued. If the comments include any privileged or confidential business information, it must be clearly marked and a nonconfidential version of the comments (identified as such) should be included. Any comments not marked privileged or confidential business information will be deemed to be nonconfidential. An original and five (5) copies, plus two (2) copies of the nonconfidential version, should be submitted no later than 20 days after the date of this notice to: Export Trading Company Affairs, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 7021–B H, Washington, DC 20230. Information submitted by any person is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). However, nonconfidential versions of the comments will be made available to the applicant if necessary for determining whether or not to issue the Certificate. Comments should refer to this application as ‘‘Export Trade Certificate of Review, application number 05–A0001.’’ A summary of the application for an amendment follows. Summary of the Application: Applicant: Central America Poultry Export Quota, Inc. (‘‘CA–PEQ’’), 901 New York Avenue, NW., Third Floor, Washington, DC 20001–4413. Contact: Kyd D. Brenner, Partner, DTB Associates, LLP, Telephone: (202) 661–7098. Application No.: 05–A0001. Date Deemed Submitted: April 12, 2006. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The original CA–PEQ Certificate was issued on January 30, 2006 (71 FR 6753, February 9, 2006). Proposed Amendment: CA–PEQ seeks to amend its Certificate to: 1. Add the following company as a new ‘‘Member’’ of the Certificate within the meaning of section 325.2(l) of the Regulations (15 CFR 325.2(l)): Federacion de Avicultores de Honduras (‘‘FEDAVIH’’), San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Dated: April 19, 2006. Jeffrey C. Anspacher, Director, Export Trading Company Affairs. [FR Doc. 06–3903 Filed 4–21–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DR–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [I.D. 041806D] Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act; Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of scoping process; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Based on recommendations contained in Amendment 6 to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6) and comments received from an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), NMFS previously announced its intent to begin a scoping process to gather information for the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Initial scoping occurred during nine public hearings in November-December 2003. Due to the significant time that had passed since these initial scoping hearings, NMFS is seeking additional scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal management options to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped Bass. The purpose of this notice is to alert the interested public of this further scoping process and to provide for public participation in compliance with environmental documentation requirements. DATES: Comments on this notice must be received (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before May 24, 2006. ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for copies of the draft document should be sent to: Tom E:\FR\FM\24APN1.SGM 24APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 78 / Monday, April 24, 2006 / Notices Meyer, State-Federal Fisheries Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13248, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Striped Bass Scoping.’’ An electronic copy of the draft document and supporting documents (ANPR and a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS (NOI)) may also be obtained on the State-Federal Fisheries Division’s website under Regulatory Activities at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/statelfederal/ statelfederal.htm. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713–0596, or via e-mail to: StripedBass.Comments@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the fax or e-mail the following document identifier: Striped Bass Scoping. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Meyer, telephone (301) 713–2334, x173. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES Background An ANPR was published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2003 (68 FR 43074), with the comment period closing on August 20, 2003. The comment period was subsequently reopened on August 26, 2003 (68 FR 51232) for an additional 30–days. NMFS announced that it was considering proposed rulemaking to revise Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations to be compatible with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6), and was seeking comments on the implementation of ASMFC’s recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic striped bass. NMFS also solicited comments on possible alternative management measures and issues that NMFS should consider relative to these recommendations. After review of comments received from the public during the ANPR comment period, NMFS determined there were sufficient issues raised, both in support of and in opposition to the ASMFC recommendation, to warrant further evaluation of the potential impacts of opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. That determination resulted in the initiation of a decision-making process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A ‘‘Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and notice of scoping process’’ (NOI) was published in the Federal Register on October 20, 2003 (68 FR 59906). The notice presented a summary of the VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:56 Apr 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 ANPR comments, and requested further public input on a list of potential alternatives and other management measures. Public meetings were held in nine Atlantic coast states between November 5 - December 10, 2003, and public comment period closed on December 22, 2003. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of the ANPR or the NOI. Atlantic striped bass management is based on ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP), first adopted in 1981. From 1981 - 1994, four ISFMP Amendments were developed that provided a series of management measures that led to the rebuilding of the stocks. In 1995, ASMFC declared the Atlantic striped bass population fully restored and implemented Amendment 5 to the ISFMP to perpetuate the stock so as to allow a commercial and recreational harvest consistent with the long-term maintenance of the striped bass stock. Since then the population has expanded to record levels of abundance. To maintain this recovered population, ASMFC approved Amendment 6 in February 2003 (copies of Amendment 6 are available via ASMFC’s website under Interstate Fisheries Managementstriped bass at http://www.asmfc.org). ASMFC believes that the measures contained in Amendment 6 are necessary to prevent the overfishing of the Atlantic striped bass resource while allowing growth in both the commercial and recreational fishery. Development of Amendment 6 took almost 4 years and involved extensive input from technical and industry advisors, and provided numerous opportunities for the public to comment on the future management of the species. Amendment 6 incorporates results of the 2001 Atlantic striped bass stock assessment, developed by the Atlantic Coast States, ASMFC, NMFS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see section 1.2.2 of Amendment 6 for summary). Amendment 6 also included recommendations to the Secretary on the development of complementary measures in the EEZ. Management of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ was one of the issues that was considered throughout development of Amendment 6. Recommendation to the Secretary In addition to the recommendations to the Secretary in Amendment 6, the Secretary also received a letter on April 24, 2003, from ASMFC with the following three recommendations for implementation of regulations in the EEZ: (1) Remove the moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic striped bass in the PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 20985 EEZ; (2) implement a 28–inch (71.1–cm) minimum size limit for recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fisheries in the EEZ; and (3) allow states the ability to adopt more restrictive rules for fishermen and vessels licensed in their jurisdictions. In support of its request, ASMFC cited a number of reasons, including: ASMFC declared the triped bass stock restored in 1995; commercial harvest is controlled by individual state quotas; with the EEZ closed striped bass caught there are required to be discarded, and are often dead when thrown back Opening the EEZ will convert some of the discarded bycatch of striped bass to landings; and Amendment 6 incorporates measures that would address future concerns about the stock status. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of the NOI, which has a complete list of ASMFC’s cited reasons. ASMFC also stated that its Atlantic Striped Bass Technical Committee would monitor annually the Atlantic striped bass population, and, if at some point in the future ASMFC determines that the Atlantic striped bass population is overfished or that overfishing is occurring, it may recommend further management measures for the EEZ. Delay in the Development of an EIS In September 2004, ASMFC’s Striped Bass Technical Committee prepared its 2004 Stock Assessment Report for use by the Striped Bass Management Board (Board), which included data through 2003. That assessment contradicted previous assessments, which had indicated that the striped bass population was not overfished and continued to grow in abundance. Instead, the results of the modeling portion of the 2004 assessment indicated that the stock was overfished and that spawning stock biomass had been reduced to below target levels. However, the members of the Technical Committee did not feel the assessment provided an accurate representation of stock status, especially given that results of tagging study analyses did not show a similar increase in fishing mortality. The Technical Committee was concerned with any conclusions that might be derived from these estimated and recommended the 2004 assessment results not be used for management decisions until both the modeling software and the input data sets were reevaluated during the 2005 assessment process. The results from the 2004 stock assessment have not been used by ASMFC for management decisions. With the great uncertainty in estimates of spawning stock biomass, E:\FR\FM\24APN1.SGM 24APN1 20986 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 78 / Monday, April 24, 2006 / Notices and fishing mortality rates during 2003, as presented in the 2004 stock assessment, NMFS decided to delay the completion of the EIS to be able to incorporate the 2005 stock assessment in the EIS. During 2005, the Technical Committee and Stock Assessment Subcommittee reviewed model inputs and the model itself to determine if the results from the 2004 assessment truly reflected status of the population or were an artifact of data or model errors. They concluded that a number of the indices used in the 2004 effort were not consistent with what was observed in the population as a whole, or were contradictory to the majority of other reliable time series. Those indices were removed from subsequent model runs. The Technical Committee believes the current assessment reflects the true status of the population (within reasonable ranges of certainty). Both the 2004 and 2005 Striped Bass Stock Assessments are available on ASMFC’s website under Interstate Fisheries Management-striped bass at http:// www.asmfc.org. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES Addendum I to Amendment 6 During the development of Amendment 6, there were concerns over the impacts of bycatch mortality on the overall population. To address these concerns, ASMFC is currently developing Addendum 1 to Amendment 6 to increase the accuracy of data on striped bass bycatch in all sectors of the striped bass fishery. Addendum I will outline mandatory data collection and bycatch mortality studies for the commercial, recreational, and for-hire fisheries for striped bass. Further Public Participation Due to the significant time that has passed since the nine initial scoping hearings were held in NovemberDecember 2003, NMFS is seeking additional scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal management options to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped Bass. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of the draft document and where to send comments. At this time, a preferred option has not been identified. Options being considered in this draft document include: (1) Open the entire EEZ, implement a 28–inch (71.1–cm) minimum size limit, and allow states to adopt more restrictive regulations for fishermen and vessels licensed in their state (ASMFC recommendation); (2) open the entire EEZ, implement a 28– inch (71.1–cm) minimum size limit, allow states to adopt more restrictive VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:56 Apr 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 regulations for fishermen and vessels licensed in their state, implement a recreational bag limit of 2 fish per day, require circle hooks for all commercial and recreational hook and line fishing using bait, and commercial trip limits and bycatch trip limit options; (3) open the entire EEZ, implement a 28–inch (71.1–cm) minimum size limit, allow states to adopt more restrictive regulations for fishermen and vessels licensed in their state, allow hook and line gear only, implement a recreational bag limit of 2 fish per day, require circle hooks for all commercial and recreational hook and line fishing using bait, and implement a commercial trip limit of 30 fish per trip or day whichever is greater; and (4) status quo - maintain moratorium in EEZ. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 5151 et seq. Dated: April 19, 2006. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E6–6108 Filed 4–21–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [I.D. 011806L] Small Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Exercise Training Events Within the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area (OpArea) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application and proposed incidental take authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting RIMPAC ASW training events, in which submarines, surface ships, and aircraft from the United States and multiple foreign nations participate in ASW training exercises, utilizing mid-frequency sonar (1 kilohertz (kHz) to 10 kHz), in the U.S. Navy’s Hawaiian Operating Area (OpArea) in the summer of 2006. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to the Navy to PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 incidentally harass several species of marine mammals during the training exercises. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than May 24, 2006. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Steve Leathery, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910–3225. The mailbox address for providing email comments is PR1.011806L@noaa.gov. NMFS is not responsible for e-mail comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via e-mail, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10–megabyte file size. A copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. In March, 2006, the Navy prepared a revised 2006 Supplement on the 2002 Programmatic Environmental Assessment on RIMPAC. That document will be posted on the Navy’s website (http://www.smdcen.us/rimpac06/) concurrently with this notice and the Navy will be accepting public comments. The Navy has also prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for its Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR), which contains detailed supporting information for some of the issues discussed in this document and may be viewed at: http:// projects.earthtech.com. NMFS’ Ocean Acoustics Program has made additional information and references relating to the effects of anthropogenic sound available on the NMFS website at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/ bibliography.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 713–2289, ext 166. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of marine mammals E:\FR\FM\24APN1.SGM 24APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 78 (Monday, April 24, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 20984-20986]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-6108]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[I.D. 041806D]


Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act; Atlantic Striped Bass 
Fishery

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

ACTION:  Notice of scoping process; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY:  Based on recommendations contained in Amendment 6 to Atlantic 
States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery 
Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6) and comments 
received from an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), NMFS 
previously announced its intent to begin a scoping process to gather 
information for the preparation of an environmental impact statement 
(EIS). Initial scoping occurred during nine public hearings in 
November-December 2003. Due to the significant time that had passed 
since these initial scoping hearings, NMFS is seeking additional 
scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal management options 
to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped Bass. The purpose of 
this notice is to alert the interested public of this further scoping 
process and to provide for public participation in compliance with 
environmental documentation requirements.

DATES: Comments on this notice must be received (see ADDRESSES) no 
later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before May 24, 2006.

ADDRESSES:  Written comments and requests for copies of the draft 
document should be sent to: Tom

[[Page 20985]]

Meyer, State-Federal Fisheries Division, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13248, Silver Spring, MD 
20910. Mark the outside of the envelope ``Striped Bass Scoping.'' An 
electronic copy of the draft document and supporting documents (ANPR 
and a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS (NOI)) may also be obtained on 
the State-Federal Fisheries Division's website under Regulatory 
Activities at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/state_federal/state_
federal.htm. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596, or 
via e-mail to: Striped-Bass.Comments@noaa.gov. Include in the subject 
line of the fax or e-mail the following document identifier: Striped 
Bass Scoping.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Meyer, telephone (301) 713-2334, 
x173.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    An ANPR was published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2003 (68 
FR 43074), with the comment period closing on August 20, 2003. The 
comment period was subsequently reopened on August 26, 2003 (68 FR 
51232) for an additional 30-days. NMFS announced that it was 
considering proposed rulemaking to revise Federal Atlantic striped bass 
regulations to be compatible with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission's (ASMFC) Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management 
Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6), and was seeking comments 
on the implementation of ASMFC's recommendations to the Secretary of 
Commerce (Secretary) to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic striped 
bass. NMFS also solicited comments on possible alternative management 
measures and issues that NMFS should consider relative to these 
recommendations. After review of comments received from the public 
during the ANPR comment period, NMFS determined there were sufficient 
issues raised, both in support of and in opposition to the ASMFC 
recommendation, to warrant further evaluation of the potential impacts 
of opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. That determination resulted 
in the initiation of a decision-making process required under the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A ``Notice of intent to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and notice of scoping 
process'' (NOI) was published in the Federal Register on October 20, 
2003 (68 FR 59906). The notice presented a summary of the ANPR 
comments, and requested further public input on a list of potential 
alternatives and other management measures. Public meetings were held 
in nine Atlantic coast states between November 5 - December 10, 2003, 
and public comment period closed on December 22, 2003. See ADDRESSES 
for information on how to obtain a copy of the ANPR or the NOI.
    Atlantic striped bass management is based on ASMFC's Atlantic 
Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP), first adopted 
in 1981. From 1981 - 1994, four ISFMP Amendments were developed that 
provided a series of management measures that led to the rebuilding of 
the stocks. In 1995, ASMFC declared the Atlantic striped bass 
population fully restored and implemented Amendment 5 to the ISFMP to 
perpetuate the stock so as to allow a commercial and recreational 
harvest consistent with the long-term maintenance of the striped bass 
stock. Since then the population has expanded to record levels of 
abundance. To maintain this recovered population, ASMFC approved 
Amendment 6 in February 2003 (copies of Amendment 6 are available via 
ASMFC's website under Interstate Fisheries Management-striped bass at 
http://www.asmfc.org). ASMFC believes that the measures contained in 
Amendment 6 are necessary to prevent the overfishing of the Atlantic 
striped bass resource while allowing growth in both the commercial and 
recreational fishery. Development of Amendment 6 took almost 4 years 
and involved extensive input from technical and industry advisors, and 
provided numerous opportunities for the public to comment on the future 
management of the species.
    Amendment 6 incorporates results of the 2001 Atlantic striped bass 
stock assessment, developed by the Atlantic Coast States, ASMFC, NMFS, 
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see section 1.2.2 of Amendment 
6 for summary). Amendment 6 also included recommendations to the 
Secretary on the development of complementary measures in the EEZ. 
Management of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ was one of the issues 
that was considered throughout development of Amendment 6.

Recommendation to the Secretary

    In addition to the recommendations to the Secretary in Amendment 6, 
the Secretary also received a letter on April 24, 2003, from ASMFC with 
the following three recommendations for implementation of regulations 
in the EEZ: (1) Remove the moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic 
striped bass in the EEZ; (2) implement a 28-inch (71.1-cm) minimum size 
limit for recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fisheries 
in the EEZ; and (3) allow states the ability to adopt more restrictive 
rules for fishermen and vessels licensed in their jurisdictions.
    In support of its request, ASMFC cited a number of reasons, 
including: ASMFC declared the triped bass stock restored in 1995; 
commercial harvest is controlled by individual state quotas; with the 
EEZ closed striped bass caught there are required to be discarded, and 
are often dead when thrown back - Opening the EEZ will convert some of 
the discarded bycatch of striped bass to landings; and Amendment 6 
incorporates measures that would address future concerns about the 
stock status. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of 
the NOI, which has a complete list of ASMFC's cited reasons.
    ASMFC also stated that its Atlantic Striped Bass Technical 
Committee would monitor annually the Atlantic striped bass population, 
and, if at some point in the future ASMFC determines that the Atlantic 
striped bass population is overfished or that overfishing is occurring, 
it may recommend further management measures for the EEZ.

Delay in the Development of an EIS

    In September 2004, ASMFC's Striped Bass Technical Committee 
prepared its 2004 Stock Assessment Report for use by the Striped Bass 
Management Board (Board), which included data through 2003. That 
assessment contradicted previous assessments, which had indicated that 
the striped bass population was not overfished and continued to grow in 
abundance. Instead, the results of the modeling portion of the 2004 
assessment indicated that the stock was overfished and that spawning 
stock biomass had been reduced to below target levels. However, the 
members of the Technical Committee did not feel the assessment provided 
an accurate representation of stock status, especially given that 
results of tagging study analyses did not show a similar increase in 
fishing mortality. The Technical Committee was concerned with any 
conclusions that might be derived from these estimated and recommended 
the 2004 assessment results not be used for management decisions until 
both the modeling software and the input data sets were reevaluated 
during the 2005 assessment process. The results from the 2004 stock 
assessment have not been used by ASMFC for management decisions.
    With the great uncertainty in estimates of spawning stock biomass,

[[Page 20986]]

and fishing mortality rates during 2003, as presented in the 2004 stock 
assessment, NMFS decided to delay the completion of the EIS to be able 
to incorporate the 2005 stock assessment in the EIS.
    During 2005, the Technical Committee and Stock Assessment 
Subcommittee reviewed model inputs and the model itself to determine if 
the results from the 2004 assessment truly reflected status of the 
population or were an artifact of data or model errors. They concluded 
that a number of the indices used in the 2004 effort were not 
consistent with what was observed in the population as a whole, or were 
contradictory to the majority of other reliable time series. Those 
indices were removed from subsequent model runs. The Technical 
Committee believes the current assessment reflects the true status of 
the population (within reasonable ranges of certainty). Both the 2004 
and 2005 Striped Bass Stock Assessments are available on ASMFC's 
website under Interstate Fisheries Management-striped bass at http://
www.asmfc.org.

Addendum I to Amendment 6

    During the development of Amendment 6, there were concerns over the 
impacts of bycatch mortality on the overall population. To address 
these concerns, ASMFC is currently developing Addendum 1 to Amendment 6 
to increase the accuracy of data on striped bass bycatch in all sectors 
of the striped bass fishery. Addendum I will outline mandatory data 
collection and bycatch mortality studies for the commercial, 
recreational, and for-hire fisheries for striped bass.

Further Public Participation

    Due to the significant time that has passed since the nine initial 
scoping hearings were held in November-December 2003, NMFS is seeking 
additional scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal 
management options to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped 
Bass. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of the 
draft document and where to send comments.
    At this time, a preferred option has not been identified. Options 
being considered in this draft document include: (1) Open the entire 
EEZ, implement a 28-inch (71.1-cm) minimum size limit, and allow states 
to adopt more restrictive regulations for fishermen and vessels 
licensed in their state (ASMFC recommendation); (2) open the entire 
EEZ, implement a 28-inch (71.1-cm) minimum size limit, allow states to 
adopt more restrictive regulations for fishermen and vessels licensed 
in their state, implement a recreational bag limit of 2 fish per day, 
require circle hooks for all commercial and recreational hook and line 
fishing using bait, and commercial trip limits and bycatch trip limit 
options; (3) open the entire EEZ, implement a 28-inch (71.1-cm) minimum 
size limit, allow states to adopt more restrictive regulations for 
fishermen and vessels licensed in their state, allow hook and line gear 
only, implement a recreational bag limit of 2 fish per day, require 
circle hooks for all commercial and recreational hook and line fishing 
using bait, and implement a commercial trip limit of 30 fish per trip 
or day whichever is greater; and (4) status quo - maintain moratorium 
in EEZ.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 5151 et seq.

    Dated: April 19, 2006.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E6-6108 Filed 4-21-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S