Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act; Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery, 30386-30387 [06-4894]

Download as PDF 30386 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 102 / Friday, May 26, 2006 / Notices Dated: May 19, 2006. P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E6–8181 Filed 5–26–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S 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; extension of comment period. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES AGENCY: SUMMARY: In a document published in the Federal Register on April 24, 2006, NMFS announced its intention to reopen the scoping process and accept further comments on the recommendations contained in Amendment 6 to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6). NMFS originally conducted scoping on the matter in 2003, but decided to reopen the scoping process and accept further comments due to the passage of significant time and the availability of new information. The intent of this document is to announce the extension of the public comment period from May 26, 2006, to June 26, 2006. DATES: Comments on this action must be received (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before June 26, 2006. ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for copies of the draft document should be sent to: Tom 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 Web site 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 VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:12 May 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 following document identifier: Striped Bass Scoping. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Meyer, telephone (301) 713–2334, x173. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As announced in the Federal Register on July 21, 2003 (68 FR 43074), NMFS requested comments on potential revisions to the Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations for the U.S. EEZ in response to recommendations from the Commission to the Secretary. The comment period was subsequently reopened on August 26, 2003 (68 FR 51232), for an additional 30–days. 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) and public meetings were held in nine Atlantic coast states between November 5 - December 10, 2003, and the public comment period closed on December 22, 2003. Significant time has passed since the nine initial scoping hearings. Accordingly, NMFS thought it prudent to seek additional scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal management options to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped Bass. NMFS, therefore, re-opened the scoping process in a Federal Register Notice on April 24, 2006 (71 FR 20984) and established a 30 day public comment period. NMFS believes that extending the comment period an additional 30 days would provide the public a more appropriate opportunity to provide meaningful commentary on the agency’s list of potential alternatives and other management measures. See ADDRESSES for information on how to obtain a copy of the draft document and where to send comments. Background 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 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 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 striped 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 E:\FR\FM\26MYN1.SGM 26MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 102 / Friday, May 26, 2006 / Notices Addendum I to Amendment 6 is overfished or that overfishing is occurring, it may recommend further management measures for the EEZ. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 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, 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. VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:12 May 25, 2006 Jkt 208001 30387 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE 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. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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 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 the EEZ. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 5151 et seq. Dated: May 23, 2006. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–4894 Filed 5–23–06; 2:25 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 [I.D. 051206A] Marine Mammals; File No. 945-1776 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Christine M. Gabriele, Principal Investigator) P.O. Box 140, Gustavus, AK 99826, (File No. 945-1776) has been issued a permit to conduct scientific research. ADDRESSES: The permit and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following office(s): Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)713–2289; fax (301)427–2521; and Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668; phone (907)586–7221; fax (907)586–7249. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Hubard or Amy Hapeman, (301)713–2289. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On February 17, 2005, notice was published in the Federal Register (70 FR 8076) that a request for a scientific research permit to take marine mammals had been submitted by the above-named organization. The requested permit has been issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the Regulations Governing the Taking and Importing of Marine Mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222–226). Permit No. 945–1776 authorizes Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to conduct population studies on numerous cetacean species with a particular emphasis on humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), and killer whales (Orcinus orca). Takes will occur by close approach via vessel survey for photo-identification, behavioral observation, passive acoustic recording, collection of sloughed skin and feces, prey sampling, and incidental harassment. The permit is valid for five years. E:\FR\FM\26MYN1.SGM 26MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 102 (Friday, May 26, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 30386-30387]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-4894]


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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; extension of comment period.

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

SUMMARY: In a document published in the Federal Register on April 24, 
2006, NMFS announced its intention to re-open the scoping process and 
accept further comments on the recommendations contained in Amendment 6 
to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Interstate 
Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (Amendment 6). NMFS 
originally conducted scoping on the matter in 2003, but decided to re-
open the scoping process and accept further comments due to the passage 
of significant time and the availability of new information. The intent 
of this document is to announce the extension of the public comment 
period from May 26, 2006, to June 26, 2006.

DATES: Comments on this action must be received (see ADDRESSES) no 
later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before June 26, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for copies of the draft 
document should be sent to: Tom 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 Web site 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: As announced in the Federal Register on July 
21, 2003 (68 FR 43074), NMFS requested comments on potential revisions 
to the Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations for the U.S. EEZ in 
response to recommendations from the Commission to the Secretary. The 
comment period was subsequently reopened on August 26, 2003 (68 FR 
51232), for an additional 30-days. 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) and public meetings were held in nine Atlantic coast states 
between November 5 - December 10, 2003, and the public comment period 
closed on December 22, 2003.
    Significant time has passed since the nine initial scoping 
hearings. Accordingly, NMFS thought it prudent to seek additional 
scoping on its preliminary draft analyses of Federal management options 
to open the EEZ to the harvest of Atlantic Striped Bass. NMFS, 
therefore, re-opened the scoping process in a Federal Register Notice 
on April 24, 2006 (71 FR 20984) and established a 30 day public comment 
period. NMFS believes that extending the comment period an additional 
30 days would provide the public a more appropriate opportunity to 
provide meaningful commentary on the agency's list of potential 
alternatives and other management measures. See ADDRESSES for 
information on how to obtain a copy of the draft document and where to 
send comments.

Background

    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 striped 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

[[Page 30387]]

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, 
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 the EEZ.

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

    Dated: May 23, 2006.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 06-4894 Filed 5-23-06; 2:25 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S