Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management Measures, 62331-62335 [2011-26021]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 195 / Friday, October 7, 2011 / Proposed Rules B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 1–800–378–3160 or via e-mail http:// www.BCPIWEB.com. This document does not contain proposed information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed information collection burden ‘‘for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,’’ pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107–198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4). Provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 do not apply to this proceeding. Members of the public should note that from the time a Notice of Proposed Rule Making is issued until the matter is no longer subject to Commission consideration or court review, all ex parte contacts are prohibited in Commission proceedings, such as this one, which involve channel allotments. See 47 CFR 1.1204(b) for rules governing permissible ex parte contacts. For information regarding proper filing procedures for comments, see 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.420. List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73 Radio, Radio broadcasting. Federal Communications Commission. Nazifa Sawez, Assistant Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau. PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 334, 336. pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 [Amended] 2. Amend § 73.202(b) Table of FM Allotments as follows: a. Remove Cove, under Arkansas, Cove, Channel 232A and Daisy, Channel 293C3. b. Remove Alamo, under Georgia, Channel 287C3. c. Remove Grayville, under Illinois, Channel 229A. d. Remove Clayton, under Louisiana, Channel 266A. e. Remove Harrison, under Michigan, Channel 280A. f. Remove Alton, under Missouri, Channel 290A. g. Remove Ennis, under Montana, Channel 254C2. h. Remove Buffalo, under Oklahoma, Channel 224C2; Erick, Channel 259C2; VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Oct 06, 2011 Jkt 226001 [FR Doc. 2011–26028 Filed 10–6–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 RIN 0648–BB29 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Stock Status Determinations; Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); request for comments. AGENCY: Based on the 2010/2011 Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) assessments for sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks, NMFS is declaring the following stock status determinations. Sandbar sharks are still overfished, but no longer experiencing overfishing. Dusky sharks are still overfished and still experiencing overfishing (i.e., their stock status has not changed). Blacknose sharks were assessed as two separate stocks for the first time in the 2010/2011 assessment (Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico); therefore, NMFS is making separate stock status determinations for the two blacknose shark stocks. The Atlantic stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, and the status of the Gulf of Mexico stock is unknown. Scalloped hammerhead sharks were previously determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing by NMFS in April 2011. As such, NMFS announces its intent to prepare an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This EIS would assess the potential effects on the human environment of action proposed through rulemaking to rebuild and end overfishing of these stocks, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Through the SUMMARY: For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 73 as follows: § 73.202 Haworth, Channel 294A; Leedey, Channel 297A; Reydon, Channel 264C2; Taloga, Channel 226A; Thomas, Channel 288A; and Wright City, Channel 226A. i. Remove Weinert, under Texas, Channel 266C3. j. Remove Boscobel, under Wisconsin, Channel 244C3; Owen, Channel 242C3; and Tigerton, Channel 295A. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 62331 rulemaking process, NMFS would amend the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and examine management alternatives available to rebuild these shark stocks and end overfishing, as necessary. To begin scoping for that rulemaking process, NMFS is requesting comments on a range of commercial and recreational management measures, in both directed and incidental fisheries, including, but not limited to, quota levels, regional and seasonal quotas, retention limits, gear modifications, and time/area closures. DATES: Five scoping meetings and a conference call will be held from October through December 2011. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for meeting and call dates and locations. Scoping comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time, on December 31, 2011. ADDRESSES: Scoping meetings will be held in Galloway, New Jersey; Morehead City, North Carolina; Panama City and Fort Pierce, Florida; and Belle Chasse, Louisiana. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates and locations. You may also submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2011–0229, by any of the following methods: • 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–2011–0229 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 Peter Cooper, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Scoping Comments on Amendment 5 to HMS FMP.’’ • Fax: (301) 713–1917. Attn: Peter Cooper. 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 E:\FR\FM\07OCP1.SGM 07OCP1 62332 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 195 / Friday, October 7, 2011 / Proposed Rules 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 a copy of the stock assessments, please contact Peter Cooper (301) 427– 8503. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Peter Cooper at (301) 427–8503, or Jackie Wilson at (240) 338–3936, or online at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or http:// www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/Index.jsp. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Act. The 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP is implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Determination of Overfished Shark Fisheries NMFS’ determination of the status of a stock relative to overfishing and an overfished condition is based on both the exploitation rate and the current stock size. Thresholds used to determine the status of Atlantic HMS are fully described in Chapter 3 of the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Shark, and were fully adopted in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. A species is considered overfished when the current biomass is less than the minimum stock size threshold. The minimum stock size threshold is determined based on the natural mortality of the stock and the biomass at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY). Maximum sustainable yield is the maximum long-term average yield that can be produced by a stock on a continuing basis. The biomass can be lower than BMSY, and the stock not declared overfished, as long as the biomass is above the biomass at the minimum stock size threshold. Overfishing may be occurring on a species if the current fishing mortality is greater than the fishing mortality (F) at maximum sustainable yield (FMSY) (F>FMSY). In the case of F, the maximum fishing mortality threshold is FMSY. Thus, if F exceeds FMSY, the stock is experiencing overfishing. Recent assessments of sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks were completed through the SEDAR process (SEDAR 21). The SEDAR process is a cooperative process initiated in 2002 to improve the quality and reliability of fishery stock assessments in the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean. For VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Oct 06, 2011 Jkt 226001 these assessments, SEDAR used two face-to-face workshops and a series of webinars. The Data Workshop was a week-long face-to-face meeting, during which fisheries, monitoring, and life history data were reviewed and compiled. The SEDAR 21 Data Workshop was held June 21–25, 2010, in Charleston, SC (May 4, 2010, 75 FR 23676). The Assessment Process was conducted via a series of webinars, during which assessment models were developed and population parameters were estimated using the information provided from the Data Workshop. The SEDAR 21 Assessment Process was held via 18 webinars between September 2010 and January 2011 (August 26, 2010, 75 FR 52510; October 12, 2010, 75 FR 62506; November 17, 2010, 75 FR 70216; December 16, 2010, 75 FR 78679). Finally, the Review Workshop was a week-long face-to-face meeting during which independent experts reviewed the input data, assessment methods, and assessment products. The Review Workshop for these assessments was held in Annapolis, MD, on April 18–22, 2011 (March 15, 2011, 76 FR 13985). All meetings were open to the public, and all materials from these meetings are available on the SEDAR Web site or upon request. The final 2010/2011 stock assessment reports for sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico were recently completed (76 FR 61092, October 3, 2011). In each assessment, a base model was used to assess the individual populations. In addition, numerous sensitivity analyses were conducted during the assessment cycle for each assessment, which provided verification that the results of the assessment were robust to the assumptions about the underlying stock productivity and assumed levels of removal. Of these sensitivity runs, the Review Panel of the SEDAR 21 Review Panel Workshop selected which runs represented plausible ‘‘states of nature’’ of the stocks and requested projections of these and the base model. The ranges based on these selected sensitivity runs and the base models are given below. However, details on the different sensitivity analyses and projections are provided in the SEDAR 21 Stock Assessment Report for each assessment. In the following stock assessment summaries, total allowable catch (TAC) is equal to the annual catch limit (ACL) for all fisheries that interact with the species, including directed commercial, incidental commercial, and recreational fisheries. After accounting for the mortality associated with other fisheries, NMFS is able to establish PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 quotas for each stock, which are a subset of the ACL or TAC. Copies of the final 2010/2011 SEDAR 21 Stock Assessment Reports for each species are available (see ADDRESSES). A. Sandbar Sharks The 2010/2011 sandbar shark stock assessment provides an update from the 2005/2006 stock assessment on the status of the stock and projects their future abundance under a variety of catch levels in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Based on the 2005/2006 assessment, sandbar sharks were determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. NMFS established a rebuilding plan for this species in July 2008. The 2010/2011 assessment includes updated catch estimates, new biological data, and a number of fisheryindependent and fishery-dependent catch rate series. The base model used in the 2010/ 2011 sandbar assessment, an agestructured production model, indicated that the stock is overfished (spawning stock fecundity [SSF]2009/SSFMSY=0.66), but no longer experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=0.62). In addition, 20 sensitivity runs were performed throughout the assessment cycle. The Review Panel selected seven sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess the underlying states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., SSF) values from these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the stock is overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY=0.51–0.72). In addition, current F values from most of the selected sensitivity runs indicated that the stock is currently not experiencing overfishing (F2009/ FMSY=0.29–0.93); whereas the low productivity sensitivity run indicated overfishing is occurring (F2009/ FMSY=2.62). The assessment scientists, however, noted that the low and high productivity scenarios were unlikely to represent the true state of nature of the stock. Based on this, NMFS has determined that sandbar sharks are still overfished, but are no longer experiencing overfishing. Projections of the base model indicated that there is a 70 percent probability of rebuilding by 2066 with a TAC of 178 metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww) (128 mt dressed weight [dw]). There is a 50 percent probability of rebuilding by 2066 with a TAC of 286 mt ww (205.8 mt dw). The rebuilding year determined from the base model in the 2010/2011 assessment was calculated as the year the stock would rebuild with no fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 2046, plus one generation time (the generation time for sandbar sharks is 20 years). The target year for E:\FR\FM\07OCP1.SGM 07OCP1 62333 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 195 / Friday, October 7, 2011 / Proposed Rules rebuilding ranged from 2047 to 2360 depending on the state of nature (i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. In addition, it was determined that the current TAC for the fishery (i.e., 220 mt ww or 158.3 mt dw) could result in a greater than 70 percent probability of rebuilding by the current rebuilding date of 2070. B. Dusky Sharks The 2010/2011 dusky stock assessment provided an update to the 2006 dusky assessment. This is the first assessment for dusky sharks conducted within the SEDAR process. Based on the 2006 assessment, dusky sharks were determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. NMFS established a rebuilding plan for this species in July 2008. The base model used for the 2010/2011 assessment, an age-structured catch-free production model, showed that dusky sharks continue to be overfished (spawning stock biomass [SSB]2009/SSBMSY=0.44) and are still experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=1.59). In addition, 19 sensitivity analyses were performed during the assessment cycle. The Review Panel selected four sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess the underlying states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., SSB) values from these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the stock is overfished (SSB2009/SSBMSY=0.41–0.50). In addition, current F values from the selected sensitivity runs indicated that the stock is currently experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=1.39–4.35). Based on this, NMFS has determined that dusky sharks are still overfished and experiencing overfishing. The 2006 assessment predicted that dusky sharks could rebuild within 100 to 400 years. The rebuilding year determined from the base model in the 2010/2011 assessment was calculated as the year the stock would rebuild with no fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 2059, plus one generation time (the generation time for dusky sharks is 40 years) or 2099. The target year for rebuilding ranged from 2081 to 2257 depending on the state of nature (i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. The base model indicated that the current fishing mortality (F2009=0.06) would have to be reduced by more than half (to F=0.02) in order to have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding by 2099. The base model also estimated that with the current fishing mortality rate there is a low probability (11 percent) of stock recovery by 2408 (or 400 years). C. Blacknose Sharks The 2010/2011 blacknose shark stock assessment provides an update from the 2007 blacknose shark stock assessment. However, unlike the 2007 assessment, the 2010/2011 assessment assessed blacknose sharks for the first time as two separate stocks: a Gulf of Mexico and an Atlantic stock. In addition, because the assessment model for the Gulf of Mexico stock was unable to fit the apparent trends in some of the abundance indices and there was a fundamental lack of fit of the model to some of the input data, the Review Panel of the SEDAR 21 Review Panel Workshop did not accept the stock assessment for the Gulf of Mexico blacknose stock. Therefore, NMFS is declaring the status of the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark stock as unknown. For the Atlantic blacknose shark stock, the base model used for the 2010/ 2011 assessment, an age-structured production model, showed that Atlantic blacknose sharks are overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY=0.60) and experiencing overfishing (F2009/ FMSY=5.02). In addition, 14 sensitivity analyses were performed over the assessment cycle. The Review Panel selected five sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess the underlying states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., SSF) values from these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the stock is overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY=0.43–0.64). In addition, current F values from the selected sensitivity runs indicated that the stock is currently experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=3.26–22.53). Based on this, NMFS has determined that the Atlantic blacknose shark stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing. Projections of the base model indicated that the stock could rebuild by 2043 with a TAC of 7,300 blacknose sharks. The rebuilding year determined from the base model in the 2010/2011 assessment was calculated as the year the stock would rebuild with no fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 2034, plus one generation time (the generation time for Atlantic blacknose sharks is 9 years). The target year for rebuilding ranged from 2033 to 2086 depending on the state of nature (i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. Thus, Atlantic blacknose sharks would not be able to rebuild by the current rebuilding target of 2027 under the current fishery-wide TAC of 19,200 blacknose sharks. TABLE 1—SUMMARY TABLE OF BIOMASS AND FISHING MORTALITY FOR THE 2010/2011 SEDAR SHARK STOCK ASSESSMENTS [Age-Structured Production Models (ASPMs) Were Used for Sandbar and Blacknose Sharks, and an Age-Structured Catch-Free Production Model (ASCFM) Was Used for Dusky Sharks] Species Sandbars sharks ............... pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Dusky sharks .................... Atlantic blacknose sharks Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks. Current relative biomass level* 0.51–0.72 (SSF2009/ SSFMSY) 0.41–0.50 (SSB2009/ SSBMSY) 0.43–0.64 (SSF2009/ SSFMSY) ***NA Current biomass (SSF2009) Maximum sustainable yield biomass (SSFMSY) Minimum stock size threshold (MSST) Current relative fishing mortality rate (F2009/FMSY) Maximum fishing mortality threshold (FMSY) Outlook 215,900– 984,770 349,330– 1,377,800 395,922– 423,622 0.29–2.62† 0.004–0.06 Overfished; overfishing is not occurring. **NA **NA **NA 1.39–4.35 0.01–0.05 Overfished; Overfishing is occurring. 38,816– 168,300 77,577– 288,360 72,607– 77,447 3.26–22.53 0.01–0.15 Overfished; Overfishing is occurring. ***NA ***NA ***NA ***NA ***NA ***NA * Spawning stock fecundity (SSF) or spawning stock biomass (SSB) was used as a proxy of biomass. ** An age-structured catch-free production model was used for the dusky shark stock assessment; therefore, absolute estimates of number of sharks are not available. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Oct 06, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\07OCP1.SGM 07OCP1 62334 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 195 / Friday, October 7, 2011 / Proposed Rules *** The Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark stock assessment was rejected because the model was unable to fit the apparent trends in some of the abundance indices and there was a fundamental lack of fit of the model to some of the input data; therefore, estimates are not available. † F values from most of the selected sensitivity runs indicated that the stock is currently not experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=0.29–0.93) whereas the low productivity sensitivity run indicated overfishing is occurring (F2009/FMSY=2.62). The assessment scientists, however, noted that the low and high productivity scenarios were unlikely to represent the true state of nature of the stock. Request for Comments Currently, both commercial and recreational fishermen may target blacknose sharks. However, dusky sharks are prohibited in all fisheries, and sandbar sharks are only allowed to be commercially harvested within a limited Shark Research Fishery. Recreational anglers are not allowed to retain sandbar sharks. In addition, scalloped hammerhead sharks, which were recently determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing (April 28, 2011, 76 FR 23794), are managed within the non-sandbar large coastal shark (LCS) complex and are caught in recreational and commercial fisheries targeting sharks and in commercial pelagic longline (PLL) fisheries targeting tuna and swordfish. However, scalloped hammerhead sharks may only be retained when caught in directed recreational and commercial shark fisheries, and they are not allowed to be retained when caught in association with tuna and tuna-like fisheries, such as tuna and swordfish PLL fisheries per a recent final rule (August 29, 2011, 76 FR 53652). Commercial regulations for blacknose sharks include, but are not limited to, no retention limit for directed shark permit holders, 16 pelagic and small coastal shark (SCS) species combined per vessel per trip for incidental shark permit holders, and an annual blacknose shark quota of 19.9 mt dw, which is adjusted each year for any overharvest in past fishing years. Commercial regulations for scalloped hammerhead sharks include, but are not limited to, a trip limit of 33 non-sandbar LCS for directed shark permit holders and a trip limit of 3 non-sandbar LCS for incidental shark permit holders. Scalloped hammerhead sharks are part of the non-sandbar LCS annual quota of 578.3 mt dw, which is split between the Gulf of Mexico (390.5 mt dw) and the Atlantic (187.8 mt dw). This quota is also adjusted each year for any overharvest from past fishing years. Recreational regulations for blacknose and scalloped hammerhead sharks include, but are not limited to, retention limit of 1 shark per vessel per trip with a 4.5-ft (54-in) fork length minimum size, although blacknose sharks rarely reach this minimum size. Within the sandbar Shark Research Fishery, sandbar shark harvest is contingent upon the conditions of a Shark Research Fishery Permit, which is issued on an annual basis. There is an annual quota of 116.6 mt dw for sandbar sharks, and as with quotas for blacknose sharks and non-sandbar LCS, this quota is adjusted each year for any overharvest in past fishing years. Vessels participating in the Shark Research Fishery must carry federal fisheries observers whenever harvesting sandbar sharks, and all sharks, including blacknose and scalloped hammerhead sharks, must be offloaded with all their fins naturally attached. NMFS anticipates changes to shark management as a result of the latest stock assessments through the rulemaking process and requests comments on potential future management options for this action. Five scoping meetings and a conference call will be held (see Table 2 for meeting times and locations) to provide the opportunity for public comment on potential shark management measures. These comments will be used to assist in the development of the upcoming amendment to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP. Based on the assessment results, NMFS will focus on dusky sharks, which are already prohibited but found to still be experiencing overfishing; scalloped hammerhead sharks, which are often brought to the vessel dead and whose retention is limited in certain fisheries; and Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks, which may require regional management. It appears that current management measures for sandbar sharks may remain appropriate, with the current TAC having a high probability of rebuilding within the rebuilding timeframe. Because of the mixed nature of the fisheries, it is likely that any changes could affect effort and mortality for all sharks. TABLE 2—TIME AND LOCATIONS OF THE FIVE SCOPING MEETINGS AND CONFERENCE CALL Time Meeting location Meeting address October 12, 2011 ............... 7–9 p.m. ............................................ Dolce Seaview Resort ...................... October 26, 2011 ............... 5–7 p.m. ............................................ Belle Chasse Auditorium .................. November 2, 2011 ............. 4:30–6:30 p.m. .................................. November 3, 2011 ............. 4:30–6:30 p.m. .................................. Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Panama City Laboratory. Fort Pierce Branch Library ............... December 7, 2011 ............. 4:30–6:30 p.m. .................................. December 15, 2011 ........... pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Date 2–4 p.m. ............................................ 401 South New York Road, Galloway, NJ 08205. 8398 HWY. 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037. 3500 Delwood Beach Drive, Panama City, FL 32408. 101 Melody Lane, Fort Pierce, FL 34950. 5285 HWY. 70 West/Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557. To participate, please call: 888–989– 7538; Passcode: 3994893. In addition to the five scoping meetings and conference call, NMFS has requested to present the issues and options presentation to the five Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils (the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Oct 06, 2011 Jkt 226001 North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Central District Office. Conference Call ................................ Fishery Management Councils) and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions during the public comment period. Please see the Councils’ and Commissions’ fall meeting notices for times and locations. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 NMFS requests comments on potential commercial management options including, but not limited to, quota levels, regional and seasonal quotas, trip limits, minimum sizes, gear and effort modifications, time/area closures, and prohibited species. In E:\FR\FM\07OCP1.SGM 07OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 195 / Friday, October 7, 2011 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 addition, NMFS is seeking comments on recreational management options including, but not limited to, retention limits, minimum sizes, authorized gears, and prohibited species. NMFS also seeks comments on display quotas and collection of sharks through exempted fishing permits, display permits, and scientific research permits. Comments received during scoping will assist NMFS in determining the options for future proposed rulemaking to conserve and manage shark resources and shark fisheries, consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. NMFS has drafted an issues VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:24 Oct 06, 2011 Jkt 226001 and options presentation that summarizes the scalloped hammerhead, sandbar, dusky, and blacknose stock assessments, and offers preliminary ideas on potential management approaches to address overfishing on/ overfished stocks in order to encourage and initiate public comment. The scoping meetings will focus on the issues raised in the issues and options presentation. NMFS welcomes additional thoughts and comments on appropriate management measures. The issues/options presentation is available online and by request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 62335 Based on the 2010/2011 stock assessments, NMFS believes the implementation of new management measures via the rulemaking process to amend the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP is necessary to rebuild Atlantic shark stocks. NMFS anticipates completing this amendment and any related documents in April of 2013. Dated: October 4, 2011. Steven Thur, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–26021 Filed 10–4–11; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\07OCP1.SGM 07OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 195 (Friday, October 7, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 62331-62335]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-26021]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

RIN 0648-BB29


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management 
Measures

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

ACTION: Stock Status Determinations; Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); request for comments.

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SUMMARY: Based on the 2010/2011 Southeast Data, Assessment and Review 
(SEDAR) assessments for sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks, NMFS is 
declaring the following stock status determinations. Sandbar sharks are 
still overfished, but no longer experiencing overfishing. Dusky sharks 
are still overfished and still experiencing overfishing (i.e., their 
stock status has not changed). Blacknose sharks were assessed as two 
separate stocks for the first time in the 2010/2011 assessment 
(Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico); therefore, NMFS is making separate stock 
status determinations for the two blacknose shark stocks. The Atlantic 
stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, and the status of the 
Gulf of Mexico stock is unknown. Scalloped hammerhead sharks were 
previously determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing by 
NMFS in April 2011. As such, NMFS announces its intent to prepare an 
EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This EIS would 
assess the potential effects on the human environment of action 
proposed through rulemaking to rebuild and end overfishing of these 
stocks, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Through the rulemaking process, 
NMFS would amend the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and examine management alternatives 
available to rebuild these shark stocks and end overfishing, as 
necessary. To begin scoping for that rulemaking process, NMFS is 
requesting comments on a range of commercial and recreational 
management measures, in both directed and incidental fisheries, 
including, but not limited to, quota levels, regional and seasonal 
quotas, retention limits, gear modifications, and time/area closures.

DATES: Five scoping meetings and a conference call will be held from 
October through December 2011. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for 
meeting and call dates and locations. Scoping comments must be received 
no later than 5 p.m., local time, on December 31, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Scoping meetings will be held in Galloway, New Jersey; 
Morehead City, North Carolina; Panama City and Fort Pierce, Florida; 
and Belle Chasse, Louisiana. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates 
and locations. You may also submit comments on this document, 
identified by NOAA-NMFS-2011-0229, by any of the following methods:
     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-
0229 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 Peter Cooper, 1315 East-
West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the 
envelope ``Scoping Comments on Amendment 5 to HMS FMP.''
     Fax: (301) 713-1917. Attn: Peter Cooper.
    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

[[Page 62332]]

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 a copy of the stock assessments, please contact Peter Cooper 
(301) 427-8503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Peter Cooper 
at (301) 427-8503, or Jackie Wilson at (240) 338-3936, or online at 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/Index.jsp.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP is implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635.

Determination of Overfished Shark Fisheries

    NMFS' determination of the status of a stock relative to 
overfishing and an overfished condition is based on both the 
exploitation rate and the current stock size. Thresholds used to 
determine the status of Atlantic HMS are fully described in Chapter 3 
of the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Shark, and were 
fully adopted in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. A species is considered 
overfished when the current biomass is less than the minimum stock size 
threshold. The minimum stock size threshold is determined based on the 
natural mortality of the stock and the biomass at maximum sustainable 
yield (BMSY). Maximum sustainable yield is the maximum long-
term average yield that can be produced by a stock on a continuing 
basis. The biomass can be lower than BMSY, and the stock not 
declared overfished, as long as the biomass is above the biomass at the 
minimum stock size threshold. Overfishing may be occurring on a species 
if the current fishing mortality is greater than the fishing mortality 
(F) at maximum sustainable yield (FMSY) (F>FMSY). 
In the case of F, the maximum fishing mortality threshold is 
FMSY. Thus, if F exceeds FMSY, the stock is 
experiencing overfishing.
    Recent assessments of sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks were 
completed through the SEDAR process (SEDAR 21). The SEDAR process is a 
cooperative process initiated in 2002 to improve the quality and 
reliability of fishery stock assessments in the South Atlantic, Gulf of 
Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean. For these assessments, SEDAR used two face-
to-face workshops and a series of webinars. The Data Workshop was a 
week-long face-to-face meeting, during which fisheries, monitoring, and 
life history data were reviewed and compiled. The SEDAR 21 Data 
Workshop was held June 21-25, 2010, in Charleston, SC (May 4, 2010, 75 
FR 23676). The Assessment Process was conducted via a series of 
webinars, during which assessment models were developed and population 
parameters were estimated using the information provided from the Data 
Workshop. The SEDAR 21 Assessment Process was held via 18 webinars 
between September 2010 and January 2011 (August 26, 2010, 75 FR 52510; 
October 12, 2010, 75 FR 62506; November 17, 2010, 75 FR 70216; December 
16, 2010, 75 FR 78679). Finally, the Review Workshop was a week-long 
face-to-face meeting during which independent experts reviewed the 
input data, assessment methods, and assessment products. The Review 
Workshop for these assessments was held in Annapolis, MD, on April 18-
22, 2011 (March 15, 2011, 76 FR 13985). All meetings were open to the 
public, and all materials from these meetings are available on the 
SEDAR Web site or upon request.
    The final 2010/2011 stock assessment reports for sandbar, dusky, 
and blacknose sharks in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico were 
recently completed (76 FR 61092, October 3, 2011). In each assessment, 
a base model was used to assess the individual populations. In 
addition, numerous sensitivity analyses were conducted during the 
assessment cycle for each assessment, which provided verification that 
the results of the assessment were robust to the assumptions about the 
underlying stock productivity and assumed levels of removal. Of these 
sensitivity runs, the Review Panel of the SEDAR 21 Review Panel 
Workshop selected which runs represented plausible ``states of nature'' 
of the stocks and requested projections of these and the base model. 
The ranges based on these selected sensitivity runs and the base models 
are given below. However, details on the different sensitivity analyses 
and projections are provided in the SEDAR 21 Stock Assessment Report 
for each assessment.
    In the following stock assessment summaries, total allowable catch 
(TAC) is equal to the annual catch limit (ACL) for all fisheries that 
interact with the species, including directed commercial, incidental 
commercial, and recreational fisheries. After accounting for the 
mortality associated with other fisheries, NMFS is able to establish 
quotas for each stock, which are a subset of the ACL or TAC. Copies of 
the final 2010/2011 SEDAR 21 Stock Assessment Reports for each species 
are available (see ADDRESSES).

A. Sandbar Sharks

    The 2010/2011 sandbar shark stock assessment provides an update 
from the 2005/2006 stock assessment on the status of the stock and 
projects their future abundance under a variety of catch levels in the 
U.S. Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Based on the 
2005/2006 assessment, sandbar sharks were determined to be overfished 
and experiencing overfishing. NMFS established a rebuilding plan for 
this species in July 2008. The 2010/2011 assessment includes updated 
catch estimates, new biological data, and a number of fishery-
independent and fishery-dependent catch rate series.
    The base model used in the 2010/2011 sandbar assessment, an age-
structured production model, indicated that the stock is overfished 
(spawning stock fecundity [SSF]2009/SSFMSY=0.66), 
but no longer experiencing overfishing (F2009/
FMSY=0.62). In addition, 20 sensitivity runs were performed 
throughout the assessment cycle. The Review Panel selected seven 
sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess the underlying 
states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., SSF) values from 
these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the stock is 
overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY=0.51-0.72). In 
addition, current F values from most of the selected sensitivity runs 
indicated that the stock is currently not experiencing overfishing 
(F2009/FMSY=0.29-0.93); whereas the low 
productivity sensitivity run indicated overfishing is occurring 
(F2009/FMSY=2.62). The assessment scientists, 
however, noted that the low and high productivity scenarios were 
unlikely to represent the true state of nature of the stock. Based on 
this, NMFS has determined that sandbar sharks are still overfished, but 
are no longer experiencing overfishing. Projections of the base model 
indicated that there is a 70 percent probability of rebuilding by 2066 
with a TAC of 178 metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww) (128 mt dressed 
weight [dw]). There is a 50 percent probability of rebuilding by 2066 
with a TAC of 286 mt ww (205.8 mt dw). The rebuilding year determined 
from the base model in the 2010/2011 assessment was calculated as the 
year the stock would rebuild with no fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 
2046, plus one generation time (the generation time for sandbar sharks 
is 20 years). The target year for

[[Page 62333]]

rebuilding ranged from 2047 to 2360 depending on the state of nature 
(i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. In addition, it was determined 
that the current TAC for the fishery (i.e., 220 mt ww or 158.3 mt dw) 
could result in a greater than 70 percent probability of rebuilding by 
the current rebuilding date of 2070.

B. Dusky Sharks

    The 2010/2011 dusky stock assessment provided an update to the 2006 
dusky assessment. This is the first assessment for dusky sharks 
conducted within the SEDAR process. Based on the 2006 assessment, dusky 
sharks were determined to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. 
NMFS established a rebuilding plan for this species in July 2008. The 
base model used for the 2010/2011 assessment, an age-structured catch-
free production model, showed that dusky sharks continue to be 
overfished (spawning stock biomass [SSB]2009/
SSBMSY=0.44) and are still experiencing overfishing 
(F2009/FMSY=1.59). In addition, 19 sensitivity 
analyses were performed during the assessment cycle. The Review Panel 
selected four sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess 
the underlying states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., 
SSB) values from these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the 
stock is overfished (SSB2009/SSBMSY=0.41-0.50). 
In addition, current F values from the selected sensitivity runs 
indicated that the stock is currently experiencing overfishing 
(F2009/FMSY=1.39-4.35). Based on this, NMFS has 
determined that dusky sharks are still overfished and experiencing 
overfishing. The 2006 assessment predicted that dusky sharks could 
rebuild within 100 to 400 years. The rebuilding year determined from 
the base model in the 2010/2011 assessment was calculated as the year 
the stock would rebuild with no fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 2059, 
plus one generation time (the generation time for dusky sharks is 40 
years) or 2099. The target year for rebuilding ranged from 2081 to 2257 
depending on the state of nature (i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. 
The base model indicated that the current fishing mortality 
(F2009=0.06) would have to be reduced by more than half (to 
F=0.02) in order to have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding by 
2099. The base model also estimated that with the current fishing 
mortality rate there is a low probability (11 percent) of stock 
recovery by 2408 (or 400 years).

C. Blacknose Sharks

    The 2010/2011 blacknose shark stock assessment provides an update 
from the 2007 blacknose shark stock assessment. However, unlike the 
2007 assessment, the 2010/2011 assessment assessed blacknose sharks for 
the first time as two separate stocks: a Gulf of Mexico and an Atlantic 
stock. In addition, because the assessment model for the Gulf of Mexico 
stock was unable to fit the apparent trends in some of the abundance 
indices and there was a fundamental lack of fit of the model to some of 
the input data, the Review Panel of the SEDAR 21 Review Panel Workshop 
did not accept the stock assessment for the Gulf of Mexico blacknose 
stock. Therefore, NMFS is declaring the status of the Gulf of Mexico 
blacknose shark stock as unknown.
    For the Atlantic blacknose shark stock, the base model used for the 
2010/2011 assessment, an age-structured production model, showed that 
Atlantic blacknose sharks are overfished (SSF2009/
SSFMSY=0.60) and experiencing overfishing (F2009/
FMSY=5.02). In addition, 14 sensitivity analyses were 
performed over the assessment cycle. The Review Panel selected five 
sensitivity runs in addition to the base model to assess the underlying 
states of nature of the stock. Current biomass (i.e., SSF) values from 
these selected sensitivity runs all indicated that the stock is 
overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY=0.43-0.64). In 
addition, current F values from the selected sensitivity runs indicated 
that the stock is currently experiencing overfishing (F2009/
FMSY=3.26-22.53). Based on this, NMFS has determined that 
the Atlantic blacknose shark stock is overfished and experiencing 
overfishing. Projections of the base model indicated that the stock 
could rebuild by 2043 with a TAC of 7,300 blacknose sharks. The 
rebuilding year determined from the base model in the 2010/2011 
assessment was calculated as the year the stock would rebuild with no 
fishing pressure (i.e., F=0), or 2034, plus one generation time (the 
generation time for Atlantic blacknose sharks is 9 years). The target 
year for rebuilding ranged from 2033 to 2086 depending on the state of 
nature (i.e., sensitivity run) of the stock. Thus, Atlantic blacknose 
sharks would not be able to rebuild by the current rebuilding target of 
2027 under the current fishery-wide TAC of 19,200 blacknose sharks.

                         Table 1--Summary Table of Biomass and Fishing Mortality for the 2010/2011 SEDAR Shark Stock Assessments
[Age-Structured Production Models (ASPMs) Were Used for Sandbar and Blacknose Sharks, and an Age-Structured Catch-Free Production Model (ASCFM) Was Used
                                                                    for Dusky Sharks]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Current
                                               Current                   Maximum      Minimum      relative     Maximum
                                               relative     Current    sustainable   stock size    fishing      fishing
                  Species                      biomass      biomass       yield      threshold    mortality    mortality              Outlook
                                                level*     (SSF2009)     biomass       (MSST)    rate (F2009/  threshold
                                                                         (SSFMSY)                   FMSY)        (FMSY)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sandbars sharks............................    0.51-0.72  215,900-984  349,330-1,3  395,922-423  0.29-2.62[d   0.004-0.06  Overfished; overfishing is
                                               (SSF2009/         ,770       77,800         ,622       agger]                not occurring.
                                                 SSFMSY)
Dusky sharks...............................    0.41-0.50         **NA         **NA         **NA    1.39-4.35    0.01-0.05  Overfished; Overfishing is
                                               (SSB2009/                                                                    occurring.
                                                 SSBMSY)
Atlantic blacknose sharks..................    0.43-0.64  38,816-168,  77,577-288,  72,607-77,4   3.26-22.53    0.01-0.15  Overfished; Overfishing is
                                               (SSF2009/          300          360           47                             occurring.
                                                 SSFMSY)
Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks............        ***NA        ***NA        ***NA        ***NA        ***NA        ***NA  ***NA
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Spawning stock fecundity (SSF) or spawning stock biomass (SSB) was used as a proxy of biomass.
** An age-structured catch-free production model was used for the dusky shark stock assessment; therefore, absolute estimates of number of sharks are
  not available.

[[Page 62334]]

 
*** The Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark stock assessment was rejected because the model was unable to fit the apparent trends in some of the abundance
  indices and there was a fundamental lack of fit of the model to some of the input data; therefore, estimates are not available.
[dagger] F values from most of the selected sensitivity runs indicated that the stock is currently not experiencing overfishing (F2009/FMSY=0.29-0.93)
  whereas the low productivity sensitivity run indicated overfishing is occurring (F2009/FMSY=2.62). The assessment scientists, however, noted that the
  low and high productivity scenarios were unlikely to represent the true state of nature of the stock.

Request for Comments

    Currently, both commercial and recreational fishermen may target 
blacknose sharks. However, dusky sharks are prohibited in all 
fisheries, and sandbar sharks are only allowed to be commercially 
harvested within a limited Shark Research Fishery. Recreational anglers 
are not allowed to retain sandbar sharks. In addition, scalloped 
hammerhead sharks, which were recently determined to be overfished and 
experiencing overfishing (April 28, 2011, 76 FR 23794), are managed 
within the non-sandbar large coastal shark (LCS) complex and are caught 
in recreational and commercial fisheries targeting sharks and in 
commercial pelagic longline (PLL) fisheries targeting tuna and 
swordfish. However, scalloped hammerhead sharks may only be retained 
when caught in directed recreational and commercial shark fisheries, 
and they are not allowed to be retained when caught in association with 
tuna and tuna-like fisheries, such as tuna and swordfish PLL fisheries 
per a recent final rule (August 29, 2011, 76 FR 53652).
    Commercial regulations for blacknose sharks include, but are not 
limited to, no retention limit for directed shark permit holders, 16 
pelagic and small coastal shark (SCS) species combined per vessel per 
trip for incidental shark permit holders, and an annual blacknose shark 
quota of 19.9 mt dw, which is adjusted each year for any overharvest in 
past fishing years. Commercial regulations for scalloped hammerhead 
sharks include, but are not limited to, a trip limit of 33 non-sandbar 
LCS for directed shark permit holders and a trip limit of 3 non-sandbar 
LCS for incidental shark permit holders. Scalloped hammerhead sharks 
are part of the non-sandbar LCS annual quota of 578.3 mt dw, which is 
split between the Gulf of Mexico (390.5 mt dw) and the Atlantic (187.8 
mt dw). This quota is also adjusted each year for any overharvest from 
past fishing years. Recreational regulations for blacknose and 
scalloped hammerhead sharks include, but are not limited to, retention 
limit of 1 shark per vessel per trip with a 4.5-ft (54-in) fork length 
minimum size, although blacknose sharks rarely reach this minimum size.
    Within the sandbar Shark Research Fishery, sandbar shark harvest is 
contingent upon the conditions of a Shark Research Fishery Permit, 
which is issued on an annual basis. There is an annual quota of 116.6 
mt dw for sandbar sharks, and as with quotas for blacknose sharks and 
non-sandbar LCS, this quota is adjusted each year for any overharvest 
in past fishing years. Vessels participating in the Shark Research 
Fishery must carry federal fisheries observers whenever harvesting 
sandbar sharks, and all sharks, including blacknose and scalloped 
hammerhead sharks, must be offloaded with all their fins naturally 
attached.
    NMFS anticipates changes to shark management as a result of the 
latest stock assessments through the rulemaking process and requests 
comments on potential future management options for this action. Five 
scoping meetings and a conference call will be held (see Table 2 for 
meeting times and locations) to provide the opportunity for public 
comment on potential shark management measures. These comments will be 
used to assist in the development of the upcoming amendment to the 2006 
Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP. Based on the assessment results, NMFS 
will focus on dusky sharks, which are already prohibited but found to 
still be experiencing overfishing; scalloped hammerhead sharks, which 
are often brought to the vessel dead and whose retention is limited in 
certain fisheries; and Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks, 
which may require regional management. It appears that current 
management measures for sandbar sharks may remain appropriate, with the 
current TAC having a high probability of rebuilding within the 
rebuilding timeframe. Because of the mixed nature of the fisheries, it 
is likely that any changes could affect effort and mortality for all 
sharks.

                  Table 2--Time and Locations of the Five Scoping Meetings and Conference Call
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Date                           Time                Meeting location           Meeting address
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
October 12, 2011.................  7-9 p.m..................  Dolce Seaview Resort....  401 South New York Road,
                                                                                         Galloway, NJ 08205.
October 26, 2011.................  5-7 p.m..................  Belle Chasse Auditorium.  8398 HWY. 23, Belle
                                                                                         Chasse, LA 70037.
November 2, 2011.................  4:30-6:30 p.m............  Southeast Fisheries       3500 Delwood Beach
                                                               Science Center, Panama    Drive, Panama City, FL
                                                               City Laboratory.          32408.
November 3, 2011.................  4:30-6:30 p.m............  Fort Pierce Branch        101 Melody Lane, Fort
                                                               Library.                  Pierce, FL 34950.
December 7, 2011.................  4:30-6:30 p.m............  North Carolina Division   5285 HWY. 70 West/
                                                               of Marine Fisheries,      Arendell Street,
                                                               Central District Office.  Morehead City, NC
                                                                                         28557.
December 15, 2011................  2-4 p.m..................  Conference Call.........  To participate, please
                                                                                         call: 888-989-7538;
                                                                                        Passcode: 3994893.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to the five scoping meetings and conference call, NMFS 
has requested to present the issues and options presentation to the 
five Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils (the New England, 
Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Fishery 
Management Councils) and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries 
Commissions during the public comment period. Please see the Councils' 
and Commissions' fall meeting notices for times and locations.
    NMFS requests comments on potential commercial management options 
including, but not limited to, quota levels, regional and seasonal 
quotas, trip limits, minimum sizes, gear and effort modifications, 
time/area closures, and prohibited species. In

[[Page 62335]]

addition, NMFS is seeking comments on recreational management options 
including, but not limited to, retention limits, minimum sizes, 
authorized gears, and prohibited species. NMFS also seeks comments on 
display quotas and collection of sharks through exempted fishing 
permits, display permits, and scientific research permits. Comments 
received during scoping will assist NMFS in determining the options for 
future proposed rulemaking to conserve and manage shark resources and 
shark fisheries, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP. NMFS has drafted an issues and options 
presentation that summarizes the scalloped hammerhead, sandbar, dusky, 
and blacknose stock assessments, and offers preliminary ideas on 
potential management approaches to address overfishing on/overfished 
stocks in order to encourage and initiate public comment. The scoping 
meetings will focus on the issues raised in the issues and options 
presentation. NMFS welcomes additional thoughts and comments on 
appropriate management measures. The issues/options presentation is 
available online and by request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Based on the 2010/2011 stock assessments, NMFS believes the 
implementation of new management measures via the rulemaking process to 
amend the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP is necessary to rebuild Atlantic 
shark stocks. NMFS anticipates completing this amendment and any 
related documents in April of 2013.

    Dated: October 4, 2011.
Steven Thur,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-26021 Filed 10-4-11; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P