Receipt of an Application for Incidental Take Permit (16230), 61670-61672 [2011-25752]

Download as PDF 61670 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Notices from the provisions relating to public meetings found in 5 U.S.C. App. (10)(a)(1) and 10(a)(3). The portion of the meeting dealing with matters requiring disclosure of trade secrets and commercial or financial information as described in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(4) shall be exempt from the provisions relating to public meetings found in 5 U.S.C. App. §§ (10)(a)(1) and 10(a)(3). The remaining portions of the meeting will be open to the public. Copies of CINTAC meeting minutes will be available within 90 days of the meeting. Edward A. O’Malley, Director, Office of Energy and Environmental Industries. [FR Doc. 2011–25667 Filed 10–4–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DR–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA718 Receipt of an Application for Incidental Take Permit (16230) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: NMFS has received an application for an incidental take permit (Permit) from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). As required by the ESA, NCDMF’s application includes a conservation plan designed to minimize and mitigate take of endangered or threatened species. The permit application is for the incidental take of ESA-listed adult and juvenile sea turtles associated with otherwise lawful commercial gill net fisheries operating in inshore waters of North Carolina. The duration of the proposed permit is for 3 years. NMFS is providing this notice to allow other agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on the application and associated conservation plan. All comments received will become part of the public record and will be available for review. DATES: Written comments from interested parties on the permit application and Plan must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern daylight time on December 5, 2011. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 You may submit comments on the permit application and conservation plan, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2011–0231, by any of the following methods during the 60-day comment period: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011–0231 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail: Submit written comments to Kristy Long, Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East West Highway, 13th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910. • Fax: 301–713–0376; Attn: Kristy Long. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Long (ph. 301–427–8402, e-mail Kristy.Long@noaa.gov; Dennis Klemm (ph. 727–824–5312, e-mail Dennis.Klemm@noaa.gov). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the ‘‘taking’’ of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The term ‘‘take’’ is defined under the ESA to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under limited circumstances, to take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for authorizing incidental take of listed ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 species. NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are published at 50 CFR 222.307. Species Covered in This Notice The following species are included in the conservation plan and Permit application: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles. Background NMFS issued Permit No. 1259 to NCDMF (65 FR 65840, November 2, 2000), Permit No. 1348 (66 FR 51023, October 5, 2001), Permit No. 1398 (67 FR 67150, November 4, 2002), and Permit No. 1528 (70 FR 52984, September 6, 2005) authorizing the incidental take of the foregoing species in certain segments of the commercial fall gill net fisheries for flounder in Pamlico Sound subject to a series of mandatory sea turtle management and monitoring requirements and limits on the numbers of individuals that could be taken annually. On August 18, 2011, NCDMF submitted a revised application to NMFS for Permit No. 16230, authorizing incidental take of ESAlisted sea turtles associated with commercial and recreational gillnet fisheries in inshore state waters for 3 years. This application includes endangered Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, and hawksbill sea turtles and threatened green and loggerhead sea turtles. This permit, if issued, and implementing the conservation plan would allow for the incidental take of specified numbers of sea turtles incidental to the continued commercial harvest of target fish species subject to conservation, management and monitoring requirements set forth in the plan and as permit conditions deemed necessary and appropriate by the NMFS. Conservation Plan The conservation plan prepared by NCDMF describes measures designed to monitor, minimize, and mitigate the incidental take of ESA-listed sea turtles. The conservation plan includes managing inshore gill net fisheries by dividing estuarine waters into 5 management units (i.e., A–E). Each of the management units would be monitored seasonally and by fishery. Management Units were delineated on the basis of three primary factors: Similarity of fisheries and management; extent of known protected species interactions in commercial gill net fisheries; and unit size and the ability of E:\FR\FM\05OCN1.SGM 05OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Notices the NCDMF to monitor fishing effort. Management Unit A encompasses all estuarine waters north of 35° 46.30′ N to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. This includes all of Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan, and Roanoke sounds as well as the contributing river systems in this area. Management Unit B encompasses all estuarine waters South of 35° 46.30′ N, East of 76° 28.00′ W and North of 34° 48.27′ N. This Management Unit will include all of Pamlico Sound and the Northern portion of Core Sound. Management Unit C will include the Pamlico, Pungo and Neuse river drainages west of 76° 28.00′ W. Management Unit D is divided into two areas, D–1 and D–2, to allow the NCDMF to effectively address areas of high sea turtle abundance or ‘‘hot spots.’’ Management Unit D–1 encompasses all estuarine waters South of 34° 48.27′ N. and east of a line running from 34° 40.70′ N.–76° 22.50′ W. to 34° 42.48′ N.–76° 36.70′ W. Management Unit D–1 includes Southern Core Sound, Back Sound and North River. Management Unit D–2 encompasses all estuarine waters west of a line running from 34° 40.70′ N.–76° 22.50′ W. to 34° 42.48′ N.–76° 36.70′ W. to the Western side of White Oak River. Management Unit D–2 includes Newport River, Bogue Sound and White Oak River. Management Unit E encompasses all estuarine waters south and west of the Western side of the White Oak River to the North Carolina/ South Carolina state line. This includes the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway and adjacent sounds, and the New, Cape Fear, Lockwood Folly and Shallotte rivers. The large mesh (≥ 5 inch stretched mesh (12.7 cm)) gill net fisheries primarily target southern flounder (Paralicthys lethostigma), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), American shad (Alosa americana), hickory shad (Polomolobus mediocris), and catfishes (Ictalurus sp.). Large mesh gill net fisheries for flounder traditionally operate throughout the majority of the sounds and lower estuarine river systems with peaks in effort in the spring/summer months (April–June), and in the fall months (September– November). Fisheries for striped bass are more limited in time and space due to the anadromous migration pattern of this species. Striped bass gill net fisheries are prosecuted from late October through late April; fishermen are prohibited from targeting striped bass from May through early October. Consequently, the majority of striped bass effort occurs in Albemarle Sound with seasonal effort occurring in the VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and Neuse River systems. American and hickory shad fishing operations occur almost exclusively from January 1 through April 14 due to their anadromous migration patterns and distribution. Catfish are harvested with large mesh gill nets in the river and Western Albemarle Sound with the majority of catches occurring during the winter to spring months. The most common mesh size for all large mesh gill net fisheries is 51⁄2 inch (13.97 cm) stretched mesh. The small mesh (<5 inch stretched mesh (12.7 cm)) gillnet fisheries primarily target spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), striped mullet (Mugil cephalus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculates), white perch (Morone americana), and kingfishes (Menticirrhus sp.). Peaks in spot landings occur in the spring/ summer (April to June) and fall (October to November) months; spot are landed throughout the estuarine waters and river systems. Striped mullet are landed year round with peaks in the fall/winter months (October to January). Bluefish are also landed year round throughout the estuarine and river systems with most landings occurring in the spring during April and May. Spotted seatrout and weakfish are targeted by small mesh gillnet operations primarily in the fall/ winter (September to January) months. Weakfish landings may also peak in the spring during April and May. Atlantic menhaden are mostly targeted during the spring (February to May) with another peak in landings occurring in October. Spanish mackerel are primarily targeted during the spring and fall months. White perch are almost exclusively targeted during the winter/ spring months (December to April). Kingfishes are targeted primarily in the spring and the fall throughout the estuarine and river systems. Mesh sizes used in small mesh gill net operations vary more than those used in large mesh fisheries. However, the most commonly used small mesh sizes generally fall between 3 inch (7.62 cm) and 33⁄4 inch (9.53 cm) stretched mesh. Management measures identified in the Conservation Plan include: (1) Restricted soak times for large mesh gillnets from one hour before sunset on Monday through Thursday and one hour after sunrise from Tuesday through Friday (i.e., fishing is prohibited from one hour after sunrise on Friday through one hour before sunset on Monday); (2) restrictions on the maximum net length PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 61671 per large mesh fishing operation (i.e., 2,000 yards (1.83 km, 6,000 ft) per operation except south of the NC Highway 58 bridge where 1,000 yards (0.91 km, 3,000 ft) is maximum; (3) restrictions on large mesh net-shot lengths to 100 yards (91.44 m, 300 ft) with a 25 yard (22.86 m, 75 ft) separation between each net-shot; and (4) requirement for large mesh nets to be low profile (e.g., maximum of 15 meshes in depth, tie-downs prohibited, floats or corks prohibited along float lines north of the NC Highway 58 bridge). NCDMF proposes to monitor sea turtle interactions through reports from fishery observers (both traditional and alternative platform), fishermen, and NCDMF Marine Patrol at a minimum of 7% coverage annually for large mesh gillnet trips. The proposed conservation plan also includes a requirement for NCDMF to provide monthly reports of sea turtle interactions to NMFS with estimates of take by management unit, season, sea turtle species, and disposition. The annual incidental take of sea turtles, using a 90% confidence limit, is anticipated to be 295 lethal and 607 non-lethal. Specifically, the anticipated lethal and non-lethal take by species is 55 lethal and 116 non-lethal Kemp’s ridley, 216 lethal and 436 non-lethal green, 23 lethal and 50 non-lethal loggerhead turtles, and 1 lethal and 5 non-lethal hawksbill turtles. NCDMF is proposing to limit inshore gillnet fisheries such that the impacts on ESAlisted sea turtles will be minimized. NCDMF would use a variety of adaptive fishery management measures and restrictions through their state proclamation authority to reduce sea turtle mortality and prohibit fishing in Management Units or sub-units where incidental take thresholds are exceeded. NCDMF considered and rejected one other alternative, not applying for a permit and closing the fishery, when developing their conservation plan. National Environmental Policy Act Issuing a permit would constitute a Federal action requiring NMFS to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) as implemented by 40 CFR parts 1500–1508 and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, Environmental Review Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (1999). NMFS intends to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider a range of reasonable alternatives and fully evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts likely to result from issuing a permit. E:\FR\FM\05OCN1.SGM 05OCN1 61672 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Notices Next Steps This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If we determine that the requirements of section 10(a) and the procedural requirements of NEPA are met, NMFS will issue a permit for incidental takes of ESA-listed sea turtles under the jurisdiction of NMFS. The final NEPA and permit determinations will not be completed until after the end of the 60day comment period. NMFS will fully consider all public comments received during the comment period. NMFS will publish a record of its final action in the Federal Register. Dated: September 29, 2011. Helen Golde, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–25752 Filed 10–4–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee Meeting National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: This notice announces a public meeting of the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee provides advice to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information on spectrum management policy matters. DATES: The meeting will be held on November 10, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4830, Washington, DC 20230. Public comments may be mailed to Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4099, Washington, DC 20230 or e-mailed to spectrumadvisory@ntia.doc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bruce M. Washington, Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 482–6415 or mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 BWashington@ntia.doc.gov; and/or visit NTIA’s Web site at http://www.ntia.doc. gov/category/CSMAC. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background: The Committee provides advice to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information on needed reforms to domestic spectrum policies and management in order to: license radio frequencies in a way that maximizes their public benefits; keep wireless networks as open to innovation as possible; and make wireless services available to all Americans (See charter, at http://www.ntia.doc.gov//page/2011/ csmac-charter). This Committee is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C. App. 2, and is consistent with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Act, 47 U.S.C. § 904(b). The Committee functions solely as an advisory body in compliance with the FACA. For more information about the Committee visit: http://www.ntia.doc. gov/category/CSMAC. Matters To Be Considered: The Committee will deliberate on the findings and recommendations from its four subcommittees (Search for 500 MHz, Spectrum Sharing, Spectrum Management Improvements, and Unlicensed), and identify future requirements for assessments. NTIA will post a detailed agenda on its Web site, http://www.ntia.doc.gov, prior to the meeting. There also will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting. Time and Date: The meeting will be held on November 10, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. The times and the agenda topics are subject to change. The meeting may be webcast or made available via audio link. Please refer to NTIA’s Web site, http:// www.ntia.doc.gov, for the most up-todate meeting agenda and access information. Place: The meeting will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4830, Washington, DC 20230. The meeting will be open to the public and press on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. The public meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other ancillary aids, are asked to notify Mr. Washington, at (202) 482–6415 or BWashington@ntia.doc.gov, at least five (5) business days before the meeting. Status: Interested parties are invited to attend and to submit written PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 comments to the Committee at any time before or after the meeting. Parties wishing to submit written comments for consideration by the Committee in advance of this meeting must send them to NTIA’s Washington, DC office at the above-listed address and comments must be received by close of business on October 28, 2011, to provide sufficient time for review. Comments received after October 28, 2011, will be distributed to the Committee, but may not be reviewed prior to the meeting. It would be helpful if paper submissions also include a compact disc (CD) in HTML, ASCII, Word, or WordPerfect format (please specify version). CDs should be labeled with the name and organizational affiliation of the filer, and the name of the word processing program used to create the document. Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically to spectrumadvisory@ntia.doc.gov. Comments provided via electronic mail also may be submitted in one or more of the formats specified above. Records: NTIA maintains records of all Committee proceedings. Committee records are available for public inspection at NTIA’s Washington, DC office at the address above. Documents including the Committee’s charter, member list, agendas, minutes, and any reports are available on NTIA’s Committee web page at http:// www.ntia.doc.gov/category/CSMAC. Dated: September 29, 2011. Kathy D. Smith, Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. [FR Doc. 2011–25669 Filed 10–4–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P COORDINATING COUNCIL ON JUVENILE JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION [OJP (OJJDP) Docket No. 1570] Meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. ACTION: Notice of meeting. AGENCY: The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Council) announces its October 2011 meeting. DATES: Friday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ADDRESSES: The meeting will take place in the third floor main conference room at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\05OCN1.SGM 05OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 193 (Wednesday, October 5, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61670-61672]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25752]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA718


Receipt of an Application for Incidental Take Permit (16230)

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application for an incidental take permit 
(Permit) from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). As 
required by the ESA, NCDMF's application includes a conservation plan 
designed to minimize and mitigate take of endangered or threatened 
species. The permit application is for the incidental take of ESA-
listed adult and juvenile sea turtles associated with otherwise lawful 
commercial gill net fisheries operating in inshore waters of North 
Carolina. The duration of the proposed permit is for 3 years. NMFS is 
providing this notice to allow other agencies and the public an 
opportunity to review and comment on the application and associated 
conservation plan. All comments received will become part of the public 
record and will be available for review.

DATES: Written comments from interested parties on the permit 
application and Plan must be received at the appropriate address or fax 
number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern daylight time on 
December 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the permit application and 
conservation plan, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2011-0231, by any of the 
following methods during the 60-day comment period:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, 
first click the ``submit a comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0231 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on 
from the resulting list and click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on 
the right of that line.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Kristy Long, Office of 
Protected Resources, 1315 East West Highway, 13th Floor, Silver Spring, 
MD 20910.
     Fax: 301-713-0376; Attn: Kristy Long.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Long (ph. 301-427-8402, e-mail 
Kristy.Long@noaa.gov; Dennis Klemm (ph. 727-824-5312, e-mail 
Dennis.Klemm@noaa.gov).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations 
prohibit the ``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term ``take'' is defined under the ESA to mean harass, 
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or 
to attempt to engage in any such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under 
limited circumstances, to take listed species incidental to, and not 
the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA provides for authorizing incidental take of listed species. NMFS 
regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are 
published at 50 CFR 222.307.

Species Covered in This Notice

    The following species are included in the conservation plan and 
Permit application: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia 
mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys 
imbricata), and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles.

Background

    NMFS issued Permit No. 1259 to NCDMF (65 FR 65840, November 2, 
2000), Permit No. 1348 (66 FR 51023, October 5, 2001), Permit No. 1398 
(67 FR 67150, November 4, 2002), and Permit No. 1528 (70 FR 52984, 
September 6, 2005) authorizing the incidental take of the foregoing 
species in certain segments of the commercial fall gill net fisheries 
for flounder in Pamlico Sound subject to a series of mandatory sea 
turtle management and monitoring requirements and limits on the numbers 
of individuals that could be taken annually. On August 18, 2011, NCDMF 
submitted a revised application to NMFS for Permit No. 16230, 
authorizing incidental take of ESA-listed sea turtles associated with 
commercial and recreational gillnet fisheries in inshore state waters 
for 3 years. This application includes endangered Kemp's ridley, 
leatherback, and hawksbill sea turtles and threatened green and 
loggerhead sea turtles. This permit, if issued, and implementing the 
conservation plan would allow for the incidental take of specified 
numbers of sea turtles incidental to the continued commercial harvest 
of target fish species subject to conservation, management and 
monitoring requirements set forth in the plan and as permit conditions 
deemed necessary and appropriate by the NMFS.

Conservation Plan

    The conservation plan prepared by NCDMF describes measures designed 
to monitor, minimize, and mitigate the incidental take of ESA-listed 
sea turtles. The conservation plan includes managing inshore gill net 
fisheries by dividing estuarine waters into 5 management units (i.e., 
A-E). Each of the management units would be monitored seasonally and by 
fishery.
    Management Units were delineated on the basis of three primary 
factors: Similarity of fisheries and management; extent of known 
protected species interactions in commercial gill net fisheries; and 
unit size and the ability of

[[Page 61671]]

the NCDMF to monitor fishing effort. Management Unit A encompasses all 
estuarine waters north of 35[deg] 46.30' N to the North Carolina/
Virginia state line. This includes all of Albemarle, Currituck, 
Croatan, and Roanoke sounds as well as the contributing river systems 
in this area. Management Unit B encompasses all estuarine waters South 
of 35[deg] 46.30' N, East of 76[deg] 28.00' W and North of 34[deg] 
48.27' N. This Management Unit will include all of Pamlico Sound and 
the Northern portion of Core Sound. Management Unit C will include the 
Pamlico, Pungo and Neuse river drainages west of 76[deg] 28.00' W. 
Management Unit D is divided into two areas, D-1 and D-2, to allow the 
NCDMF to effectively address areas of high sea turtle abundance or 
``hot spots.'' Management Unit D-1 encompasses all estuarine waters 
South of 34[deg] 48.27' N. and east of a line running from 34[deg] 
40.70' N.-76[deg] 22.50' W. to 34[deg] 42.48' N.-76[deg] 36.70' W. 
Management Unit D-1 includes Southern Core Sound, Back Sound and North 
River. Management Unit D-2 encompasses all estuarine waters west of a 
line running from 34[deg] 40.70' N.-76[deg] 22.50' W. to 34[deg] 42.48' 
N.-76[deg] 36.70' W. to the Western side of White Oak River. Management 
Unit D-2 includes Newport River, Bogue Sound and White Oak River. 
Management Unit E encompasses all estuarine waters south and west of 
the Western side of the White Oak River to the North Carolina/South 
Carolina state line. This includes the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway 
and adjacent sounds, and the New, Cape Fear, Lockwood Folly and 
Shallotte rivers.
    The large mesh (>= 5 inch stretched mesh (12.7 cm)) gill net 
fisheries primarily target southern flounder (Paralicthys lethostigma), 
striped bass (Morone saxatilis), American shad (Alosa americana), 
hickory shad (Polomolobus mediocris), and catfishes (Ictalurus sp.). 
Large mesh gill net fisheries for flounder traditionally operate 
throughout the majority of the sounds and lower estuarine river systems 
with peaks in effort in the spring/summer months (April-June), and in 
the fall months (September-November). Fisheries for striped bass are 
more limited in time and space due to the anadromous migration pattern 
of this species. Striped bass gill net fisheries are prosecuted from 
late October through late April; fishermen are prohibited from 
targeting striped bass from May through early October. Consequently, 
the majority of striped bass effort occurs in Albemarle Sound with 
seasonal effort occurring in the Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and 
Neuse River systems. American and hickory shad fishing operations occur 
almost exclusively from January 1 through April 14 due to their 
anadromous migration patterns and distribution. Catfish are harvested 
with large mesh gill nets in the river and Western Albemarle Sound with 
the majority of catches occurring during the winter to spring months. 
The most common mesh size for all large mesh gill net fisheries is 5\1/
2\ inch (13.97 cm) stretched mesh.
    The small mesh (<5 inch stretched mesh (12.7 cm)) gillnet fisheries 
primarily target spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), striped mullet (Mugil 
cephalus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion 
nebulosus), weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia 
tyrannus), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculates), white perch 
(Morone americana), and kingfishes (Menticirrhus sp.). Peaks in spot 
landings occur in the spring/summer (April to June) and fall (October 
to November) months; spot are landed throughout the estuarine waters 
and river systems. Striped mullet are landed year round with peaks in 
the fall/winter months (October to January). Bluefish are also landed 
year round throughout the estuarine and river systems with most 
landings occurring in the spring during April and May. Spotted seatrout 
and weakfish are targeted by small mesh gillnet operations primarily in 
the fall/winter (September to January) months. Weakfish landings may 
also peak in the spring during April and May. Atlantic menhaden are 
mostly targeted during the spring (February to May) with another peak 
in landings occurring in October. Spanish mackerel are primarily 
targeted during the spring and fall months. White perch are almost 
exclusively targeted during the winter/spring months (December to 
April). Kingfishes are targeted primarily in the spring and the fall 
throughout the estuarine and river systems. Mesh sizes used in small 
mesh gill net operations vary more than those used in large mesh 
fisheries. However, the most commonly used small mesh sizes generally 
fall between 3 inch (7.62 cm) and 3\3/4\ inch (9.53 cm) stretched mesh.
    Management measures identified in the Conservation Plan include: 
(1) Restricted soak times for large mesh gillnets from one hour before 
sunset on Monday through Thursday and one hour after sunrise from 
Tuesday through Friday (i.e., fishing is prohibited from one hour after 
sunrise on Friday through one hour before sunset on Monday); (2) 
restrictions on the maximum net length per large mesh fishing operation 
(i.e., 2,000 yards (1.83 km, 6,000 ft) per operation except south of 
the NC Highway 58 bridge where 1,000 yards (0.91 km, 3,000 ft) is 
maximum; (3) restrictions on large mesh net-shot lengths to 100 yards 
(91.44 m, 300 ft) with a 25 yard (22.86 m, 75 ft) separation between 
each net-shot; and (4) requirement for large mesh nets to be low 
profile (e.g., maximum of 15 meshes in depth, tie-downs prohibited, 
floats or corks prohibited along float lines north of the NC Highway 58 
bridge). NCDMF proposes to monitor sea turtle interactions through 
reports from fishery observers (both traditional and alternative 
platform), fishermen, and NCDMF Marine Patrol at a minimum of 7% 
coverage annually for large mesh gillnet trips. The proposed 
conservation plan also includes a requirement for NCDMF to provide 
monthly reports of sea turtle interactions to NMFS with estimates of 
take by management unit, season, sea turtle species, and disposition.
    The annual incidental take of sea turtles, using a 90% confidence 
limit, is anticipated to be 295 lethal and 607 non-lethal. 
Specifically, the anticipated lethal and non-lethal take by species is 
55 lethal and 116 non-lethal Kemp's ridley, 216 lethal and 436 non-
lethal green, 23 lethal and 50 non-lethal loggerhead turtles, and 1 
lethal and 5 non-lethal hawksbill turtles. NCDMF is proposing to limit 
inshore gillnet fisheries such that the impacts on ESA-listed sea 
turtles will be minimized. NCDMF would use a variety of adaptive 
fishery management measures and restrictions through their state 
proclamation authority to reduce sea turtle mortality and prohibit 
fishing in Management Units or sub-units where incidental take 
thresholds are exceeded. NCDMF considered and rejected one other 
alternative, not applying for a permit and closing the fishery, when 
developing their conservation plan.

National Environmental Policy Act

    Issuing a permit would constitute a Federal action requiring NMFS 
to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.) as implemented by 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 and NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6, Environmental Review Procedures for 
Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (1999). NMFS intends 
to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider a range of 
reasonable alternatives and fully evaluate the direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts likely to result from issuing a permit.

[[Page 61672]]

Next Steps

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS 
will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If we determine that the 
requirements of section 10(a) and the procedural requirements of NEPA 
are met, NMFS will issue a permit for incidental takes of ESA-listed 
sea turtles under the jurisdiction of NMFS. The final NEPA and permit 
determinations will not be completed until after the end of the 60-day 
comment period. NMFS will fully consider all public comments received 
during the comment period. NMFS will publish a record of its final 
action in the Federal Register.

    Dated: September 29, 2011.
Helen Golde,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-25752 Filed 10-4-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P