Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Essential Fish Habitat, 54384-54386 [E8-21846]

Download as PDF 54384 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 183 / Friday, September 19, 2008 / Notices jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES making available to the ITC all nonprivileged and non-proprietary information relating to this investigation. We will allow the ITC access to all privileged and business proprietary information in our files, provided the ITC confirms that it will not disclose such information, either publicly or under an administrative protective order, without the written consent of the Assistant Secretary for Import Administration. In accordance with section 705(b)(2) of the Act, if our final determination is affirmative, the ITC will make its final determination within 45 days after the Department makes its final determination. Disclosure and Public Comment In accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b), we will disclose to the parties the calculations for this preliminary determination within five days of its announcement. Case briefs for this investigation must be submitted no later than one week after the issuance of the last verification report. See 19 CFR 351.309(c) (for a further discussion of case briefs). Rebuttal briefs must be filed within five days after the deadline for submission of case briefs, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(d)(1). A list of authorities relied upon, a table of contents, and an executive summary of issues should accompany any briefs submitted to the Department. Executive summaries should be limited to five pages total, including footnotes. Section 774 of the Act provides that the Department will hold a public hearing to afford interested parties an opportunity to comment on arguments raised in case or rebuttal briefs, provided that such a hearing is requested by an interested party. If a request for a hearing is made in this investigation, the hearing will tentatively be held two days after the deadline for submission of the rebuttal briefs, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(d), at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20230. Parties should confirm by telephone the time, date, and place of the hearing 48 hours before the scheduled time. Interested parties who wish to request a hearing, or to participate if one is requested, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 1870, within 30 days of the publication of this notice, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c). Requests should contain: (1) The party’s name, address, and telephone; (2) the number of participants; and (3) a list of the issues to be discussed. Oral VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Sep 18, 2008 Jkt 214001 presentations will be limited to issues raised in the briefs. This determination is published pursuant to sections 703(f) and 777(i) of the Act. Dated: September 12, 2008. David M. Spooner, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration. [FR Doc. E8–21949 Filed 9–18–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–AV00 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Essential Fish Habitat National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft integrated environmental impact statement and a fishery management plan amendment; request for written comments; notice of public hearings. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of an draft integrated environmental impact statement and fishery management plan amendment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that examines alternatives to revise existing Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Essential Fish Habitat (EFH); considers additional Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs); and analyzes fishing and non– fishing impacts on EFH consistent with the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson–Stevens Act) and other relevant Federal laws. DATES: Public hearings for the draft integrated document will be held from September through December, 2008. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for hearing dates, times, and locations. Written comments on this action must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time, on November 18, 2008. ADDRESSES: Public hearings will be held in Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Alabama. Written comments on this action must be sent to Chris Rilling, Highly Migratory Species Management Division by any of the following methods: • E-mail: HMSEFH@noaa.gov. • Mail: 1315 East–West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on EFH Amendment to HMS FMP.’’ PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • Fax: 301–713–1917. Copies of the draft Amendment 1 to the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are available from the HMS website under Breaking News at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/ hms/ or by contacting Chris Rilling (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Rilling or Sari Kiraly by phone at (301) 713–2347 or by fax at (301) 713– 1917. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson–Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act (Public Law 104–297) requires the identification and description of EFH in FMPs and the consideration of actions to ensure the conservation and enhancement of such habitat. The EFH regulatory guidelines (50 CFR 600.815) state that NMFS should periodically review and revise EFH, as warranted, based on available information. EFH, including HAPCs, for HMS was identified and described in the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, and in the 1999 Amendment 1 to the Atlantic Billfish FMP. EFH for five shark species was updated in the 2003 Amendment 1 to that FMP. Later, NMFS reviewed all new and existing EFH data in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and determined that revisions to existing EFH for some Atlantic HMS may be warranted. The draft integrated environmental impact statement and amendment to the Consolidated HMS FMP (hereafter Draft Amendment 1) proposes alternatives to amend the existing EFH identifications and descriptions. Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs) To further the conservation and enhancement of EFH, the EFH guidelines encourage FMPs to identify HAPCs. HAPCs are areas within EFH that should be identified based on one or more of the following considerations: 1) the importance of the ecological function provided by the habitat; 2) the extent to which the habitat is sensitive to human–induced environmental degradation; 3) whether, and to what extent, development activities are, or will be stressing the habitat type; and 4) the rarity of the habitat type. HAPCs can be used to focus conservation efforts on specific habitat types or areas that are especially important ecologically or particularly vulnerable to degradation. HAPCs are not required to have any specific management measures and an HAPC designation does not E:\FR\FM\19SEN1.SGM 19SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 183 / Friday, September 19, 2008 / Notices jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES automatically result in closures or other fishing restrictions. Rather, the areas are intended to focus conservation efforts and bring heightened awareness to the importance of the habitat being considered as an HAPC. Draft Amendment 1 considers several alternatives for designating HAPCs for bluefin tuna (BFT) spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico. A growing body of evidence collected in the Gulf of Mexico, including but not limited to, NMFS observer program data, NMFS larval surveys, and peer–reviewed publications that include information from pop–up archival tags (PATs) and pop–up satellite archival tags (PSATs) have highlighted the central Gulf of Mexico as an important BFT spawning area. Although no directed BFT fishing is permitted in the Gulf of Mexico, and there are no direct environmental effects of designating the Gulf or portions of the Gulf as a HAPC, the designation could help identify additional conservation efforts, for example, to minimize the impacts of oil and gas development projects on BFT spawning habitat. Fishing and Non–Fishing Activities In addition to considering revisions to existing EFH and designating new HAPCs, the EFH guidelines require that FMPs identify fishing and non–fishing activities that may adversely affect EFH. Each FMP must include an evaluation of the potential adverse impacts of fishing on EFH designated under the FMP, effects of each fishing activity regulated under the FMP, as well as the effects of other Federal FMPs and non–federally managed fishing activities (i.e., state fisheries) on EFH. The FMPs must describe each fishing activity and review and discuss all available relevant information such as the intensity, extent, and frequency of any adverse effects on EFH; the type of habitat within EFH that may be adversely affected; and the habitat functions that may be disturbed (50 CFR 600.815(a)(2)). If adverse effects of fishing activities are identified, then the Magnuson–Stevens Act requires the effects of such fishing activities on EFH to be minimized to the extent practicable (Magnuson–Steven Act section 303(a)(7)). NMFS completed the original analysis of fishing and non–fishing impacts in the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, and presented all new information gathered during the five-year review, including a comprehensive review of all fishing gears and non–fishing activities that could potentially impact EFH, in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. In that FMP, NMFS preliminarily concluded VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Sep 18, 2008 Jkt 214001 that no HMS gear, other than bottom longline, was likely to have an effect on HMS or other managed species’ EFH since most HMS gears such as rod and reel, handline, and pelagic longline, are fished in the water column where they are unlikely to affect either the water column or benthic habitat that define EFH for managed species. Bottom longline gear is used predominantly in the Atlantic commercial shark fishery to target large and small coastal sharks. The Consolidated FMP also indicated that additional analyses would be initiated to determine the extent to which bottom longline gear might be impacting specific habitats such as coral reefs. which are generally considered the habitat type most likely to be adversely affected by bottom longline gear. This draft amendment includes: an assessment of whether HMS bottom longline gear is used in EFH; an analysis of the intensity, extent, and frequency of such impacts; and a determination as to whether those impacts are more than minimal and not temporary. The ‘‘more than minimal and not temporary’’ threshold was established by NMFS as the necessary threshold for taking additional action to minimize such impacts. Based on the analysis, NMFS has determined that bottom longline gear is not having more than a minimal and temporary effect on EFH and thus has not proposed any measures to restrict the use of bottom longline gear. The findings are based on observer program data which indicate that only a small fraction of bottom longline sets occur within coral reef habitat, as well as recent measures included in Amendment 2 to the Consolidated HMS FMP which are expected to greatly reduce fishing effort in the Atlantic shark fishery (73 FR 40658; July 15, 2008). Nevertheless, NMFS will continue to work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils to identify areas where bottom longline gear used in the reef fish fishery or snapper grouper fishery may be having an adverse effect on habitat, and where the Councils may propose to prohibit bottom longline gear. In those cases, NMFS may consider complementary regulations to prohibit shark bottom longline gear as was done in the Caribbean (72 FR 5633, February 7, 2007) and most recently in the South Atlantic Marine Protected Areas (73 FR 40658, July 15, 2008). Public Hearings and Special Accommodations As listed in the table below, NMFS will hold six public hearings to receive comments from fishery participants and PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 54385 other members of the public regarding this draft amendment to the Consolidated HMS FMP. Date Time Hearing Location Sept 30, 2008 3:30–4:30 p.m. Crowne Plaza Hotel, 8777 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910 Oct 14, 2008 7:00–9:00 p.m. Key Largo Grand Resort & Beach Club, 97000 South Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037 Oct 15, 2008 7:00–9:00 p.m. Ramada Inn, 1701 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948 Oct 28, 2008 7:00–9:00 p.m. Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel, 64 South Water St., Mobile, AL 36602 Nov 18, 2008 7:00–9:00 p.m. Sheraton Ferncroft Resort, 50 Ferncroft Rd., Danvers, MA 01923 Dec 3, 2008 7:00–9:00 p.m. Hilton Wilmington Riverside, 301 N. Water Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 These hearings will be physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Chris Rilling at (301) 713–2347 at least 7 days prior to the hearing date. NMFS has requested time to present this draft amendment to the five Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions at their meetings during the public comment period. Please see the Councils’ and Commissions’ fall and winter meeting notices for dates, times, and locations. NMFS also anticipates holding a meeting of its HMS Advisory Panel (AP) from September 30 – Oct 2, E:\FR\FM\19SEN1.SGM 19SEN1 54386 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 183 / Friday, September 19, 2008 / Notices 2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland, and will present the draft amendment to the HMS AP. Copies of Draft Amendment 1 to the Consolidated HMS FMP are available for review (see ADDRESSES). NMFS anticipates completing this integrated document and any related documents by the spring of 2009. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 10, 2008. James P. Burgess Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–21846 Filed 9–18–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XD16 Marine Mammals; File No. 782–1702 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit amendment. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that NMFS National Marine Mammal Laboratory, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE, Seattle, WA 98115–0070 has been issued an amendment to scientific research Permit No. 782–1702. ADDRESSES: The amendment 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; Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, BIN C15700, Bldg. 1, Seattle, WA 98115–0700; phone (206)526–6150; fax (206)526–6426; and Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802–4213; phone (562)980–4001; fax (562)980–4018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tammy Adams or Kate Swails, (301)713–2289. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: An amendment to Permit No. 782–1702–04 has been granted under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216). jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Sep 18, 2008 Jkt 214001 The amended permit extends the duration of the permit through September 30, 2009 to allow continuation of research on harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), and northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) in California, Washington, and Oregon. This minor amendment also revokes authority to take Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus). This is the fifth amendment of the subject permit, which was issued originally issued on September 16, 2003 (68 FR 58663). In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), a final determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Dated: September 16, 2008. P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–21988 Filed 9–18–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XK36 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting; Cancellation National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of cancellation of a public meeting. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The New England Fishery Management Council has cancelled the public meeting of its Groundfish Committee that was scheduled for Monday, September 29, 2008 beginning at 9 a.m., in Peabody, MA. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The initial notice was published on September 11, 2008, (73 FR 52831), and the meeting will be rescheduled at a later date and announced in the Federal Register. Dated: September 16, 2008. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–21900 Filed 9–18–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 COMMITTEE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXTILE AGREEMENTS Determination under the Textile and Apparel Commercial Availability Provision of the Dominican RepublicCentral America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR Agreement) September 15, 2008. The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements ACTION: Determination to add a product in unrestricted quantities to Annex 3.25 of the CAFTA-DR Agreement. AGENCY: EFFECTIVE DATE: September 19, 2008. SUMMARY: The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) has determined that certain three-yarn circular stretch knit fleece fabrics, as specified below, are not available in commercial quantities in a timely manner in the CAFTA-DR countries. The product will be added to the list in Annex 3.25 of the CAFTA-DR Agreement in unrestricted quantities. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Dybczak, Office of Textiles and Apparel, U.S. Department of Commerce, (202) 482 3651. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ONLINE: http://web.ita.doc.gov/tacgi/ CaftaReqTrack.nsf.Reference number: 82.2008.08.05.Fabric.ST&RforBadger Sportswear SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority: Section 203(o)(4) of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (CAFTA-DR Act); the Statement of Administrative Action (SAA), accompanying the CAFTA-DR Act; Presidential Proclamations 7987 (February 28, 2006) and 7996 (March 31, 2006). BACKGROUND: The CAFTA-DR Agreement provides a list in Annex 3.25 for fabrics, yarns, and fibers that the Parties to the CAFTA-DR Agreement have determined are not available in commercial quantities in a timely manner in the territory of any Party. The CAFTA-DR Agreement provides that this list may be modified pursuant to Article 3.25(4)-(5), when the President of the United States determines that a fabric, yarn, or fiber is not available in commercial quantities in a timely manner in the territory of any Party. See Annex 3.25, Note; see also section 203(o)(4)(C) of the CAFTADR Act. The CAFTA-DR Act requires the President to establish procedures governing the submission of a request and providing opportunity for interested E:\FR\FM\19SEN1.SGM 19SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 183 (Friday, September 19, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54384-54386]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-21846]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-AV00


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Essential Fish Habitat

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft integrated environmental 
impact statement and a fishery management plan amendment; request for 
written comments; notice of public hearings.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of an draft integrated 
environmental impact statement and fishery management plan amendment 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that examines 
alternatives to revise existing Highly Migratory Species (HMS) 
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH); considers additional Habitat Areas of 
Particular Concern (HAPCs); and analyzes fishing and non-fishing 
impacts on EFH consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and other 
relevant Federal laws.

DATES: Public hearings for the draft integrated document will be held 
from September through December, 2008. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
for hearing dates, times, and locations. Written comments on this 
action must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time, on November 
18, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Public hearings will be held in Massachusetts, Delaware, 
Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Alabama. Written comments on 
this action must be sent to Chris Rilling, Highly Migratory Species 
Management Division by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: HMSEFH@noaa.gov.
     Mail: 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 
Please mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on EFH Amendment to 
HMS FMP.''
     Fax: 301-713-1917.
    Copies of the draft Amendment 1 to the Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are available 
from the HMS website under Breaking News at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/
sfa/hms/ or by contacting Chris Rilling (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Rilling or Sari Kiraly by phone 
at (301) 713-2347 or by fax at (301) 713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et 
seq.) as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act (Public Law 104-297) 
requires the identification and description of EFH in FMPs and the 
consideration of actions to ensure the conservation and enhancement of 
such habitat. The EFH regulatory guidelines (50 CFR 600.815) state that 
NMFS should periodically review and revise EFH, as warranted, based on 
available information.
    EFH, including HAPCs, for HMS was identified and described in the 
1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, and in the 1999 
Amendment 1 to the Atlantic Billfish FMP. EFH for five shark species 
was updated in the 2003 Amendment 1 to that FMP. Later, NMFS reviewed 
all new and existing EFH data in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
determined that revisions to existing EFH for some Atlantic HMS may be 
warranted. The draft integrated environmental impact statement and 
amendment to the Consolidated HMS FMP (hereafter Draft Amendment 1) 
proposes alternatives to amend the existing EFH identifications and 
descriptions.

Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs)

    To further the conservation and enhancement of EFH, the EFH 
guidelines encourage FMPs to identify HAPCs. HAPCs are areas within EFH 
that should be identified based on one or more of the following 
considerations: 1) the importance of the ecological function provided 
by the habitat; 2) the extent to which the habitat is sensitive to 
human-induced environmental degradation; 3) whether, and to what 
extent, development activities are, or will be stressing the habitat 
type; and 4) the rarity of the habitat type. HAPCs can be used to focus 
conservation efforts on specific habitat types or areas that are 
especially important ecologically or particularly vulnerable to 
degradation. HAPCs are not required to have any specific management 
measures and an HAPC designation does not

[[Page 54385]]

automatically result in closures or other fishing restrictions. Rather, 
the areas are intended to focus conservation efforts and bring 
heightened awareness to the importance of the habitat being considered 
as an HAPC.
    Draft Amendment 1 considers several alternatives for designating 
HAPCs for bluefin tuna (BFT) spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico. A 
growing body of evidence collected in the Gulf of Mexico, including but 
not limited to, NMFS observer program data, NMFS larval surveys, and 
peer-reviewed publications that include information from pop-up 
archival tags (PATs) and pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) have 
highlighted the central Gulf of Mexico as an important BFT spawning 
area. Although no directed BFT fishing is permitted in the Gulf of 
Mexico, and there are no direct environmental effects of designating 
the Gulf or portions of the Gulf as a HAPC, the designation could help 
identify additional conservation efforts, for example, to minimize the 
impacts of oil and gas development projects on BFT spawning habitat.

Fishing and Non-Fishing Activities

    In addition to considering revisions to existing EFH and 
designating new HAPCs, the EFH guidelines require that FMPs identify 
fishing and non-fishing activities that may adversely affect EFH. Each 
FMP must include an evaluation of the potential adverse impacts of 
fishing on EFH designated under the FMP, effects of each fishing 
activity regulated under the FMP, as well as the effects of other 
Federal FMPs and non-federally managed fishing activities (i.e., state 
fisheries) on EFH. The FMPs must describe each fishing activity and 
review and discuss all available relevant information such as the 
intensity, extent, and frequency of any adverse effects on EFH; the 
type of habitat within EFH that may be adversely affected; and the 
habitat functions that may be disturbed (50 CFR 600.815(a)(2)). If 
adverse effects of fishing activities are identified, then the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the effects of such fishing activities on 
EFH to be minimized to the extent practicable (Magnuson-Steven Act 
section 303(a)(7)).
    NMFS completed the original analysis of fishing and non-fishing 
impacts in the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, and 
presented all new information gathered during the five-year review, 
including a comprehensive review of all fishing gears and non-fishing 
activities that could potentially impact EFH, in the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP. In that FMP, NMFS preliminarily concluded that no HMS gear, 
other than bottom longline, was likely to have an effect on HMS or 
other managed species' EFH since most HMS gears such as rod and reel, 
handline, and pelagic longline, are fished in the water column where 
they are unlikely to affect either the water column or benthic habitat 
that define EFH for managed species. Bottom longline gear is used 
predominantly in the Atlantic commercial shark fishery to target large 
and small coastal sharks. The Consolidated FMP also indicated that 
additional analyses would be initiated to determine the extent to which 
bottom longline gear might be impacting specific habitats such as coral 
reefs. which are generally considered the habitat type most likely to 
be adversely affected by bottom longline gear.
    This draft amendment includes: an assessment of whether HMS bottom 
longline gear is used in EFH; an analysis of the intensity, extent, and 
frequency of such impacts; and a determination as to whether those 
impacts are more than minimal and not temporary. The ``more than 
minimal and not temporary'' threshold was established by NMFS as the 
necessary threshold for taking additional action to minimize such 
impacts. Based on the analysis, NMFS has determined that bottom 
longline gear is not having more than a minimal and temporary effect on 
EFH and thus has not proposed any measures to restrict the use of 
bottom longline gear. The findings are based on observer program data 
which indicate that only a small fraction of bottom longline sets occur 
within coral reef habitat, as well as recent measures included in 
Amendment 2 to the Consolidated HMS FMP which are expected to greatly 
reduce fishing effort in the Atlantic shark fishery (73 FR 40658; July 
15, 2008). Nevertheless, NMFS will continue to work with the Regional 
Fishery Management Councils to identify areas where bottom longline 
gear used in the reef fish fishery or snapper grouper fishery may be 
having an adverse effect on habitat, and where the Councils may propose 
to prohibit bottom longline gear. In those cases, NMFS may consider 
complementary regulations to prohibit shark bottom longline gear as was 
done in the Caribbean (72 FR 5633, February 7, 2007) and most recently 
in the South Atlantic Marine Protected Areas (73 FR 40658, July 15, 
2008).

Public Hearings and Special Accommodations

    As listed in the table below, NMFS will hold six public hearings to 
receive comments from fishery participants and other members of the 
public regarding this draft amendment to the Consolidated HMS FMP.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Date                     Time              Hearing Location
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sept 30, 2008            3:30-4:30 p.m.           Crowne Plaza Hotel,
                                                   8777 Georgia Ave.,
                                                   Silver Spring, MD
                                                   20910
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oct 14, 2008             7:00-9:00 p.m.           Key Largo Grand Resort
                                                   & Beach Club, 97000
                                                   South Overseas
                                                   Highway, Key Largo,
                                                   FL 33037
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oct 15, 2008             7:00-9:00 p.m.           Ramada Inn, 1701 S.
                                                   Virginia Dare Trail,
                                                   Kill Devil Hills, NC
                                                   27948
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oct 28, 2008             7:00-9:00 p.m.           Renaissance Riverview
                                                   Plaza Hotel, 64 South
                                                   Water St., Mobile, AL
                                                   36602
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nov 18, 2008             7:00-9:00 p.m.           Sheraton Ferncroft
                                                   Resort, 50 Ferncroft
                                                   Rd., Danvers, MA
                                                   01923
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dec 3, 2008              7:00-9:00 p.m.           Hilton Wilmington
                                                   Riverside, 301 N.
                                                   Water Street,
                                                   Wilmington, NC 28401
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These hearings will be physically accessible to people with 
disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other 
auxiliary aids should be directed to Chris Rilling at (301) 713-2347 at 
least 7 days prior to the hearing date.
    NMFS has requested time to present this draft amendment to the five 
Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic and Gulf 
States Marine Fisheries Commissions at their meetings during the public 
comment period. Please see the Councils' and Commissions' fall and 
winter meeting notices for dates, times, and locations. NMFS also 
anticipates holding a meeting of its HMS Advisory Panel (AP) from 
September 30 - Oct 2,

[[Page 54386]]

2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland, and will present the draft amendment 
to the HMS AP.
    Copies of Draft Amendment 1 to the Consolidated HMS FMP are 
available for review (see ADDRESSES). NMFS anticipates completing this 
integrated document and any related documents by the spring of 2009.

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

    Dated: September 10, 2008.
James P. Burgess
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-21846 Filed 9-18-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S