Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 76615-76617 [E6-21866]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 245 / Thursday, December 21, 2006 / Rules and Regulations retention limits for the Atlantic tunas General category should be adjusted to provide reasonable opportunity to harvest the General category January time-period subquota. Therefore, NMFS increases the daily BFT retention limits for the entire month of January, including previously scheduled Restricted Fishing Days (RFDs), to provide enhanced commercial General category fishing opportunities in all areas while minimizing the risk of an overharvest of the General category BFT quota. DATES: The effective dates for the BFT daily retention limits are provided in Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. process changes; and changes that are within the range on which the original determination was based. * * * * * Table 9—[Amended] 6. Table 9 to subpart G of part 63 is amended by removing the entry for ‘‘Methyl ethyl ketone (2–Butanone).’’ I Table 34—[Amended] 7. Table 34 to subpart G of part 63 is amended by removing the entry for ‘‘Methyl ethyl ketone (2–Butanone).’’ I Table 36—[Amended] 8. Table 36 to subpart G of part 63 is amended by removing the entry for ‘‘Methyl ethyl ketone (2–Butanone).’’ I FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: [FR Doc. E6–21869 Filed 12–20–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. The 2006 BFT fishing year began on June 1, 2006, and ends May 31, 2007. The final initial 2006 BFT specifications and General category effort controls were published on May 30, 2006 (71 FR 30619). These final specifications divided the General category quota among three subperiods (June through August, the month of September, and October through January) in accordance with the 1999 Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (1999 FMP) DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [I.D. 121206B] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the daily Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) 76615 (May 29, 1999; 64 FR 29090), and implementing regulations at § 635.27. The final initial 2006 BFT specifications increased the General category retention limit to three fish for the June though August time-period, as well as established the following General category RFD schedule: all Saturday and Sundays from November 18, 2006, through January 31, 2007, and Thursday November 23, 2006, and Monday December 25, 2006, inclusive. Due to the large amount of available quota and the low catch rates, NMFS extended the three-fish retention limit through September (71 FR 51529, August 30, 2006), October (71 FR 58287, October 3, 2006), November (71 FR 64165, November 1, 2006), and December (71 FR 68752, November 28, 2006) to enhance fishing opportunities while minimizing the risk of exceeding available quota. On October 2, 2006, NMFS published a final rule (71 FR 58058) implementing the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (HMS FMP). The HMS FMP revised the General category time-period subquota allocation scheme by dividing the coastwide General category into the following five distinct time-periods; June through August, September, October through November, December, and January of the following year. The effective date of these timeperiods and their associated subquota was November 1, 2006. Daily Retention Limits Pursuant to this action and the final initial 2006 BFT specifications, noted above, the daily BFT retention limits for Atlantic tunas General category are as follows: TABLE 1. EFFECTIVE DATES FOR RETENTION LIMIT ADJUSTMENTS Permit Category Effective Dates BFT Size Class Limit December 1 - 31, 2006, inclusive All Three BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length (CFL) or larger January 1 - 31, 2007, inclusive All Three BFT per vessel per day/trip, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) CFL or larger February 1 through May 31, 2007, inclusive General Areas All CLOSED cprice-sewell on PROD1PC66 with RULES Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limits Under § 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the General category daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range from zero (on RFDs) to a maximum of three per vessel to allow for a reasonable opportunity to harvest the quota for VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:33 Dec 20, 2006 Jkt 211001 BFT. As part of the final specifications on May 30, 2006 (71 FR 30619), NMFS adjusted the commercial daily BFT retention limit, in all areas, for those vessels fishing under the General category quota, to three large medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) or greater curved fork length (CFL), per vessel per day/trip. This retention PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 limit, which was to remain in effect through August 31, 2006, inclusive, was extended through September, October, November, and December via separate actions published in the Federal Register. From January 1 - 31, 2007, inclusive, the General category daily BFT retention limit was scheduled to E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1 cprice-sewell on PROD1PC66 with RULES 76616 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 245 / Thursday, December 21, 2006 / Rules and Regulations revert to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip. The total General category timeperiod subquota allocations for the 2006 fishing year equal 1,163.3 metric tons (mt). As of December 11, 2006, 114.9 mt has been landed in the General category, resulting in an available balance of 1048.4 mt, and catch rates remain at less than 1.0 mt per day. If catch rates remain at current levels and January RFDs remain as scheduled, approximately 43.0 mt would be landed through January 31, 2007. This projection would bring the cumulative time-period subquota landings to approximately 157.9 mt, resulting in an underharvest of approximately 1,005.4 mt. The October 2, 2006, final rule (71 FR 58058) established stand-alone General category time-periods for the months of December and January. Each of these time-periods are allocated a portion of the coastwide General category, thereby ensuring fishing opportunities are provided in years where high catch rates are experienced. In combination with the subquota rollover from previous time-periods, scheduled RFDs, current catch rates, and the daily retention limit reverting to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day on January 1, 2007, NMFS anticipates the full January timeperiod subquota will not be harvested. In the past, however, the fishery has had the capability of increasing landings rates dramatically in winter months, particularly off southern states. If the fishery was to perform at these past levels with high landings rates (although not witnessed during the winter of 2005/2006), it may alleviate concern of excessive roll-overs from one fishing year to the next, but raises the possibility of unprecedented, and potentially unsustainable, catch rates during the winter fishery. The final initial 2006 BFT specifications scheduled a number of RFDs for the month of January, including all Saturdays and Sundays. These RFDs were designed to provide for an extended late season, south Atlantic BFT fishery for the commercial handgear fishermen in the General category. For the reasons referred to above, NMFS has determined that the scheduled January RFDs are no longer required to meet their original purpose, and may in fact exacerbate low catch rates. Therefore, NMFS determined that an increase in the General category daily BFT retention limit on those previously established RFDs for the month of January is warranted. NMFS has selected these days in order to give adequate advance notice to fishery participants. While catch rates have VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:33 Dec 20, 2006 Jkt 211001 continued to be low so far this season, NMFS recognizes that they may increase at any time late in the season. Therefore, based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, available quota, revised time-periods, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that an increase in the General category daily BFT retention limit effective from January 1 through January 31, 2007, inclusive of previously scheduled RFDs for the month of January, is warranted. Thus, the General category daily retention limit of three large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip (see Table 1) is extended through January 31, 2007, including all Saturdays and Sundays of January as well. Under the current regulations for the Atlantic HMS, the 2006 General category BFT season will close on January 31, 2007. Therefore, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 inches curved fork length, or greater, under the General category quota, must cease at 11:30 p.m., local time, January 31, 2007. Persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic Tunas General category may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all size classes while the General category is closed. All BFT should be released, or tagged and released, with a minimum of injury. This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. landings quota of BFT while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities, to help achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery, to collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes, and to be consistent with the objectives of the HMS FMP. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS selected the daily retention limits and their duration after examining current and previous fishing year catch and effort rates, taking into consideration public comment on the annual specifications and inseason management measures for the General category received during the 2006 BFT quota specifications rulemaking process, and analyzing the available quota for the 2006 fishing year. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely through dealer landing reports, the Automated Landings Reporting System, state harvest tagging programs in North Carolina and Maryland, and the Large Pelagics Survey. Depending on the level of fishing effort, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments are necessary prior to January 31, 2007. PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Closures or subsequent adjustments to the daily retention limits, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872–8862 or (978) 281–9260, or access the internet at www.hmspermits.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and retention limit adjustments. Classification The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA), finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: NMFS has recently become aware of increased availability of large medium and giant BFT in close proximity to shores of southern Atlantic states, as derived from fishing reports and landings data from dealers. This increase in abundance provides the potential to increase General category landings rates if fishery participants are authorized to harvest three large medium or giant BFT per day. Although landings to date have been low (i.e., averaging less than one mt per day) there is the potential for increased availability of BFT during the winter to allow for an increase in fishery landing rates. The regulations implementing the HMS FMP provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Adjustment of retention limits, including waiving previously scheduled RFDs in the month of January, is also necessary to avoid excessive quota underharvests. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement these retention limits is impracticable as it would preclude NMFS from acting promptly to allow harvest of BFT that are still available on the fishing grounds. Analysis of available data shows that the General category BFT retention limit may be increased for the Atlantic tuna General and HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders with minimal risks of exceeding the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas allocated quota. Delays in increasing the retention limits would be contrary to the public interest. Limited opportunities to harvest the respective quotas may have negative social and economic impacts to U.S. fishermen that either depend on catching the available quota designated in the HMS FMP, or depend on multiple BFT retention limits to attract individuals to book charters. For both E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 245 / Thursday, December 21, 2006 / Rules and Regulations the General and the HMS Charter/ Headboat sectors, the retention limits must be adjusted as expeditiously as possible so the impacted sectors can benefit from the adjustment. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of the above reasons, and because this action relieves a restriction (i.e., current default retention limit is one fish per vessel/trip but this action increases that limit and allows retention of more fish), there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: December 15, 2006. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E6–21866 Filed 12–20–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 051104293–5344–02; I.D. 111406C] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; Commercial Quota Harvested for New Jersey National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Closure of commercial fishery. AGENCY: cprice-sewell on PROD1PC66 with RULES SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the summer flounder commercial quota VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:33 Dec 20, 2006 Jkt 211001 available to New Jersey has been harvested. Vessels issued a commercial Federal fisheries permit for the summer flounder fishery may not land summer flounder in New Jersey for the remainder of calendar year 2006, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer from another state. Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery require publication of this notification to advise New Jersey that the quota has been harvested and to advise vessel permit holders and dealer permit holders that no commercial quota is available for landing summer flounder in New Jersey. DATES: Effective 0001 hours, December 21, 2006, through 2400 hours, December 31, 2006. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9341 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned on a percentage basis among the coastal states from North Carolina through Maine. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state is described in § 648.100. The initial total commercial quota for summer flounder for the 2006 calendar year was set equal to 14,154,000 lb (6,420 mt) (70 FR 77061, December 29, 2005). The percent allocated to vessels landing summer flounder in New Jersey is 16.72499 percent, resulting in a commercial quota of 2,367,255 lb (1,073,787 kg). The 2006 allocation was reduced to 2,331,554 lb (1,057,593 kg) due to research set-aside. Section 648.101(b) requires the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) to monitor state commercial quotas and to determine when a state’s commercial quota has been harvested. NMFS then PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 76617 publishes a notification in the Federal Register to advise the state and to notify Federal vessel and dealer permit holders that, effective upon a specific date, the state’s commercial quota has been harvested and no commercial quota is available for landing summer flounder in that state. The Regional Administrator has determined, based upon dealer reports and other available information, that New Jersey has harvested its quota for 2006. The regulations at § 648.4(b) provide that Federal permit holders agree, as a condition of the permit, not to land summer flounder in any state that the Regional Administrator has determined no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective 0001 hours, December 21, 2006, further landings of summer flounder in New Jersey by vessels holding summer flounder commercial Federal fisheries permits are prohibited for the remainder of the 2006 calendar year, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register. Effective 0001 hours, December 21, 2006, federally permitted dealers are also notified that they may not purchase summer flounder from federally permitted vessels that land in New Jersey for the remainder of the calendar year, or until additional quota becomes available through a transfer from another state. Classification This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 15, 2006. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–9811 Filed 12–18–06; 2:45 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\21DER1.SGM 21DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 245 (Thursday, December 21, 2006)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 76615-76617]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-21866]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[I.D. 121206B]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the daily Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) 
retention limits for the Atlantic tunas General category should be 
adjusted to provide reasonable opportunity to harvest the General 
category January time-period subquota. Therefore, NMFS increases the 
daily BFT retention limits for the entire month of January, including 
previously scheduled Restricted Fishing Days (RFDs), to provide 
enhanced commercial General category fishing opportunities in all areas 
while minimizing the risk of an overharvest of the General category BFT 
quota.

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

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635.
    The 2006 BFT fishing year began on June 1, 2006, and ends May 31, 
2007. The final initial 2006 BFT specifications and General category 
effort controls were published on May 30, 2006 (71 FR 30619). These 
final specifications divided the General category quota among three 
subperiods (June through August, the month of September, and October 
through January) in accordance with the 1999 Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (1999 FMP) (May 29, 1999; 64 FR 29090), and 
implementing regulations at Sec.  635.27. The final initial 2006 BFT 
specifications increased the General category retention limit to three 
fish for the June though August time-period, as well as established the 
following General category RFD schedule: all Saturday and Sundays from 
November 18, 2006, through January 31, 2007, and Thursday November 23, 
2006, and Monday December 25, 2006, inclusive.
    Due to the large amount of available quota and the low catch rates, 
NMFS extended the three-fish retention limit through September (71 FR 
51529, August 30, 2006), October (71 FR 58287, October 3, 2006), 
November (71 FR 64165, November 1, 2006), and December (71 FR 68752, 
November 28, 2006) to enhance fishing opportunities while minimizing 
the risk of exceeding available quota. On October 2, 2006, NMFS 
published a final rule (71 FR 58058) implementing the Consolidated 
Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (HMS FMP). The HMS FMP 
revised the General category time-period subquota allocation scheme by 
dividing the coastwide General category into the following five 
distinct time-periods; June through August, September, October through 
November, December, and January of the following year. The effective 
date of these time-periods and their associated subquota was November 
1, 2006.

Daily Retention Limits

    Pursuant to this action and the final initial 2006 BFT 
specifications, noted above, the daily BFT retention limits for 
Atlantic tunas General category are as follows:

        Table 1. Effective dates for retention limit adjustments
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        BFT Size Class
   Permit Category      Effective Dates      Areas          Limit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
General               December 1 - 31,     All       Three BFT per
                       2006, inclusive                vessel per day/
                                                      trip, measuring 73
                                                      inches (185 cm)
                                                      curved fork length
                                                      (CFL) or larger
                     ---------------------------------------------------
                      January 1 - 31,      All       Three BFT per
                       2007, inclusive                vessel per day/
                                                      trip, measuring 73
                                                      inches (185 cm)
                                                      CFL or larger
                     ---------------------------------------------------
                      February 1 through   All       CLOSED
                       May 31, 2007,
                       inclusive
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limits

    Under Sec.  635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the General 
category daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a 
range from zero (on RFDs) to a maximum of three per vessel to allow for 
a reasonable opportunity to harvest the quota for BFT. As part of the 
final specifications on May 30, 2006 (71 FR 30619), NMFS adjusted the 
commercial daily BFT retention limit, in all areas, for those vessels 
fishing under the General category quota, to three large medium or 
giant BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) or greater curved fork length 
(CFL), per vessel per day/trip. This retention limit, which was to 
remain in effect through August 31, 2006, inclusive, was extended 
through September, October, November, and December via separate actions 
published in the Federal Register. From January 1 - 31, 2007, 
inclusive, the General category daily BFT retention limit was scheduled 
to

[[Page 76616]]

revert to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip.
    The total General category time-period subquota allocations for the 
2006 fishing year equal 1,163.3 metric tons (mt). As of December 11, 
2006, 114.9 mt has been landed in the General category, resulting in an 
available balance of 1048.4 mt, and catch rates remain at less than 1.0 
mt per day. If catch rates remain at current levels and January RFDs 
remain as scheduled, approximately 43.0 mt would be landed through 
January 31, 2007. This projection would bring the cumulative time-
period subquota landings to approximately 157.9 mt, resulting in an 
underharvest of approximately 1,005.4 mt. The October 2, 2006, final 
rule (71 FR 58058) established stand-alone General category time-
periods for the months of December and January. Each of these time-
periods are allocated a portion of the coastwide General category, 
thereby ensuring fishing opportunities are provided in years where high 
catch rates are experienced. In combination with the subquota rollover 
from previous time-periods, scheduled RFDs, current catch rates, and 
the daily retention limit reverting to one large medium or giant BFT 
per vessel per day on January 1, 2007, NMFS anticipates the full 
January time-period subquota will not be harvested. In the past, 
however, the fishery has had the capability of increasing landings 
rates dramatically in winter months, particularly off southern states. 
If the fishery was to perform at these past levels with high landings 
rates (although not witnessed during the winter of 2005/2006), it may 
alleviate concern of excessive roll-overs from one fishing year to the 
next, but raises the possibility of unprecedented, and potentially 
unsustainable, catch rates during the winter fishery.
    The final initial 2006 BFT specifications scheduled a number of 
RFDs for the month of January, including all Saturdays and Sundays. 
These RFDs were designed to provide for an extended late season, south 
Atlantic BFT fishery for the commercial handgear fishermen in the 
General category. For the reasons referred to above, NMFS has 
determined that the scheduled January RFDs are no longer required to 
meet their original purpose, and may in fact exacerbate low catch 
rates. Therefore, NMFS determined that an increase in the General 
category daily BFT retention limit on those previously established RFDs 
for the month of January is warranted. NMFS has selected these days in 
order to give adequate advance notice to fishery participants. While 
catch rates have continued to be low so far this season, NMFS 
recognizes that they may increase at any time late in the season.
    Therefore, based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing 
trends, available quota, revised time-periods, and the availability of 
BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that an increase in the 
General category daily BFT retention limit effective from January 1 
through January 31, 2007, inclusive of previously scheduled RFDs for 
the month of January, is warranted. Thus, the General category daily 
retention limit of three large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/
trip (see Table 1) is extended through January 31, 2007, including all 
Saturdays and Sundays of January as well.
    Under the current regulations for the Atlantic HMS, the 2006 
General category BFT season will close on January 31, 2007. Therefore, 
fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant 
BFT, measuring 73 inches curved fork length, or greater, under the 
General category quota, must cease at 11:30 p.m., local time, January 
31, 2007. Persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic Tunas 
General category may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all 
size classes while the General category is closed. All BFT should be 
released, or tagged and released, with a minimum of injury.
    This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to 
harvest the U.S. landings quota of BFT while maintaining an equitable 
distribution of fishing opportunities, to help achieve optimum yield in 
the General category BFT fishery, to collect a broad range of data for 
stock monitoring purposes, and to be consistent with the objectives of 
the HMS FMP.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS selected the daily retention limits and their duration after 
examining current and previous fishing year catch and effort rates, 
taking into consideration public comment on the annual specifications 
and inseason management measures for the General category received 
during the 2006 BFT quota specifications rulemaking process, and 
analyzing the available quota for the 2006 fishing year. NMFS will 
continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely through dealer landing 
reports, the Automated Landings Reporting System, state harvest tagging 
programs in North Carolina and Maryland, and the Large Pelagics Survey. 
Depending on the level of fishing effort, NMFS may determine that 
additional retention limit adjustments are necessary prior to January 
31, 2007.
    Closures or subsequent adjustments to the daily retention limits, 
if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, 
fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872-
8862 or (978) 281-9260, or access the internet at www.hmspermits.gov, 
for updates on quota monitoring and retention limit adjustments.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA), finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    NMFS has recently become aware of increased availability of large 
medium and giant BFT in close proximity to shores of southern Atlantic 
states, as derived from fishing reports and landings data from dealers. 
This increase in abundance provides the potential to increase General 
category landings rates if fishery participants are authorized to 
harvest three large medium or giant BFT per day. Although landings to 
date have been low (i.e., averaging less than one mt per day) there is 
the potential for increased availability of BFT during the winter to 
allow for an increase in fishery landing rates. The regulations 
implementing the HMS FMP provide for inseason retention limit 
adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability 
on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the 
regional variations in the BFT fishery. Adjustment of retention limits, 
including waiving previously scheduled RFDs in the month of January, is 
also necessary to avoid excessive quota underharvests. Affording prior 
notice and opportunity for public comment to implement these retention 
limits is impracticable as it would preclude NMFS from acting promptly 
to allow harvest of BFT that are still available on the fishing 
grounds. Analysis of available data shows that the General category BFT 
retention limit may be increased for the Atlantic tuna General and HMS 
Charter/Headboat permit holders with minimal risks of exceeding the 
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
allocated quota.
    Delays in increasing the retention limits would be contrary to the 
public interest. Limited opportunities to harvest the respective quotas 
may have negative social and economic impacts to U.S. fishermen that 
either depend on catching the available quota designated in the HMS 
FMP, or depend on multiple BFT retention limits to attract individuals 
to book charters. For both

[[Page 76617]]

the General and the HMS Charter/Headboat sectors, the retention limits 
must be adjusted as expeditiously as possible so the impacted sectors 
can benefit from the adjustment.
    Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to 
waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of 
the above reasons, and because this action relieves a restriction 
(i.e., current default retention limit is one fish per vessel/trip but 
this action increases that limit and allows retention of more fish), 
there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 15, 2006.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. E6-21866 Filed 12-20-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S