Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 69137-69139 [2011-28906]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 216 / Tuesday, November 8, 2011 / Rules and Regulations The effective date for the temporary rule published at 76 FR 31874, June 2, 2011, is extended from November 30, 2011, to June 2, 2012, unless NMFS publishes a superseding document in the Federal Register or until suspended by another final rule. ADDRESSES: Copies of the final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), a regulatory impact review, and an environmental assessment (EA) may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at: http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ GrouperSnapperandReefFish.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: (727) 824–5305, or email: Peter.Hood@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On June 2, 2011, NMFS published the final temporary rule (76 FR 31874) to implement measures to reduce the commercial quota for gag from 1.49 million lb (0.68 million kg) to 430,000 lb (195,045 kg), reduce the commercial SWG quota from 6.22 million lb (2.82 million kg) to 5.16 million lb (2.34 million kg), suspend red grouper multiuse allocation in the Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ program, and implement a recreational fishing season for gag from September 16 through November 15, with a 2-fish daily bag limit. This temporary rule extends these measures for an additional 186 days, unless this rule is superseded by subsequent rulemaking. The purpose of the interim measures and this extension of the rule is to reduce the overfishing of the gag resource in the Gulf while long-term management measures are developed and implemented through Amendment 32 to the FMP, approved by the Council at its August 2011 meeting. Amendment 32 will include management measures to end overfishing of gag, allow the gag stock to rebuild, and co-manage gag and red grouper by implementing concurrent management measures. The proposed rule for Amendment 32 published on November 2, 2011 (76 FR 67656) and requested public comment. Section 305(c)(2) of the MagnusonStevens Act provides the Council the authority to request interim measures, if necessary, to reduce overfishing. The Council, at its October 2011 meeting tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES DATES: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Nov 07, 2011 Jkt 226001 69137 concurred with extending the interim measures currently in place. Section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act allows for interim measures to be extended for one additional period of 186 days provided that the public has had an opportunity to comment on the interim measures and that the Council is actively preparing a plan amendment to address the overfishing on a permanent basis. A proposed temporary rule, published on April 21, 2011 (76 FR 22345), requested public comments on these same interim measures. NMFS responded to these comments in the final temporary rule published on June 2, 2011 (76 FR 31874), and they are not repeated here. The conditions prompting the initial temporary rule still remain, and more permanent measures to be completed through Amendment 32 have not yet been finalized. Failure to extend these interim measures, while NOAA finalizes the more permanent measures in Amendment 32, would result in additional overfishing of the Gulf gag stock, which is contrary to the public interest and in violation of National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this rule. Classification The Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, (RA) has determined that the interim measures this temporary rule extends are necessary for the conservation and management of the Gulf gag stock, until more permanent measures are implemented, and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The Council has developed and submitted Amendment 32 to establish long-term measures to end the overfishing of Gulf gag and rebuild the stock. Amendment 32 and its associated regulations are still being implemented and are not expected to become effective until sometime in early 2012. This temporary rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866. This temporary rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment. An EA was prepared for the interim measures contained in the June 2, 2011, temporary rule (76 FR 31874). Because the conditions that existed at the time the June 2, 2011, temporary rule was implemented have not changed, the impacts of continuing the interim measures through this extension have already been considered. Copies of the EA are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553 (b)(B) to waive prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule extension. Providing prior notice and opportunity for public comment would be contrary to the public interest. This rule would continue interim measures implemented by the June 2, 2011, temporary rule, for not more than an additional 186 days beyond the current expiration date of November 29, 2011. Dated: November 3, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. [FR Doc. 2011–28917 Filed 11–7–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 RIN 0648–XA802 [Docket No. 110210132–1275–02] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason quota transfer and General category retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS has determined that an Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota transfer is appropriate, and transfers 50 metric tons (mt) from the Reserve category to the General category for the remainder of the 2011 fishing year. NMFS also has determined that the General category daily BFT retention limit should be adjusted from three to two large medium or giant BFT for the remainder of the 2011 fishing year (i.e., through December 31, 2011) based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels (when fishing commercially for BFT). SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08NOR1.SGM 08NOR1 69138 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 216 / Tuesday, November 8, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Effective November 6, 2011, through December 31, 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Tom Warren, (978) 281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, consistent with the allocations established in the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and subsequent rulemaking. The 2011 BFT fishing year began on January 1, 2011, and ends December 31, 2011. The 2011 BFT quota specifications (76 FR 39019, July 5, 2011) established a quota of 435.1 mt for the General category fishery (the commercial tunas fishery in which handgear is used). Each of the General category time periods (January, June– August, September, October–November, and December) is allocated a portion of the annual General category quota, thereby ensuring extended fishing opportunities throughout the fishing season, particularly in years when catch rates are high. The General category fishery is open until December 31, 2011, or until the General category quota is reached. The 2011 BFT quota specifications also established a Reserve category of 70.5 mt for inseason adjustments, and potential quota transfers, scientific research collection, and accounting for potential overharvest in any category except the Purse Seine category. DATES: tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Inseason Transfer to the General Category Under § 635.27(a)(7), NMFS has the authority to allocate any portion of the Reserve category to any category quota in the fishery, other than the Angling category school BFT subquota (for which there is a separate reserve), after considering determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8), which include: The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock; the catches of the particular category quota VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Nov 07, 2011 Jkt 226001 to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made; the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT before the end of the fishing year; the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded; effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding and overfishing; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of BFT; effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the category’s quota; and a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the BFT on the fishing grounds. NMFS has considered the determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and their applicability to the General category fishery for the remainder of the 2011 fishing year. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following. As of October 26, 2011, the General category has landed 413.1 mt, or 95 percent of its 2011 quota of 435.1 mt. Overall, approximately 64 percent of the available commercial BFT quota (775.4 mt) has been harvested. Several Atlantic tuna dealers are currently providing biological samples from BFT caught by General category vessels to support ongoing NMFS-approved research regarding reproduction status and feeding habits of BFT. Continued landings of BFT would support the collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. Some categories are not expected to use their available 2011 quotas (i.e., approximately 200 mt or more may remain unused). NMFS will need to account for 2011 BFT landings and dead discards within the U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations. While transferring quota from the Reserve category decreases the amount of unused quota that would be available, if needed, to account for all landings and dead discards within the total 2011 U.S. quota once the dead discard information is available, NMFS’ best estimates of current dead discards and quota that will remain unused indicate that the risk of exceeding the overall quota is small. This risk is also outweighed by the potential benefit of keeping the General category, which is successfully harvesting available quota, open for the remainder of the year. A quota transfer at this time would provide additional opportunities to PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while preserving the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the winter BFT fishery in the mid-Atlantic region that typically begins in December when commercial-sized BFT become available in that area. Per the Consolidated HMS FMP, the December General category fishery is allocated 5.2 percent of the General category quota (i.e., 22.6 mt for December 2011). Based on the considerations above, as well as the available quota, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that a quota transfer is warranted and transfers 50 mt of the 70.5 mt of the Reserve category to the General category. Thus, the General category quota is adjusted to 485.1 mt for the 2011 fishing year. Once the adjusted General category quota has been reached, or on December 31, 2011 (whichever comes first), the 2011 General category fishery will be closed. The 2012 General category fishery begins January 1, 2012. Reduction of General Category Daily Retention Limit Under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a maximum of three per vessel based on consideration of the criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8), as listed above. For the 2011 fishing year to date, NMFS adjusted the General category limit from the default level of one large medium or giant BFT as follows: two large medium or giant BFT for January (75 FR 79309, December 20, 2010), and three large medium or giant BFT for June through August (76 FR 32086, June 3, 2011) and three large medium or giant BFT for September through December (76 FR 52886, August 24, 2011). In these actions, NMFS indicated that additional retention limit adjustments could be made, if necessary. As indicated above, the General category has landed 413.1 mt, or 95 percent of its 2011 quota of 435.1 mt based on landings through October 26, 2011. Based on considerations of the available quota, fishery performance in recent years (landings and discards), and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that the General category retention limit should be reduced. Accordingly, NMFS adjusts the General category retention limit from three to two large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip effective November 14, 2011, through December 31, 2011. NMFS expects that this retention limit, in conjunction with E:\FR\FM\08NOR1.SGM 08NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 216 / Tuesday, November 8, 2011 / Rules and Regulations tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES the 50-mt quota transfer, would allow the General category to remain open through the end of the fishing year while not risking overharvest of the U.S. BFT quota, including accounting for dead discards as required by ICCAT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the daily limit of two fish may not be exceeded upon landing. This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, and applies to vessels permitted in the General category as well as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels fishing commercially for BFT. This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. landings quota of BFT without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; to help achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery; to collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes; and to be consistent with the objectives of the Consolidated HMS FMP. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS selected the daily retention limit for the remainder of the 2011 fishing year after examining an array of data as it pertains to the determination criteria. These data included, but were not limited to, current and previous catch and effort rates in the BFT fisheries, quota availability, previous public comments on inseason management measures, and stock status. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely through the mandatory dealer landing reports, which NMFS requires to be submitted within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional action is necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. NMFS will address the January 2012 General category daily retention limit via a separate inseason action later in the year, if necessary. Closure of the General category or subsequent adjustments to the daily retention limits, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872–8862 or (978) 281–9260, or access http://www.hmspermits.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and retention limit adjustments. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:12 Nov 07, 2011 Jkt 226001 69139 Classification DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: The regulations implementing the Consolidated HMS FMP provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Based on available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, a quota transfer is warranted to provide additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota, including preserving the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the winter BFT fishery in the mid-Atlantic region that typically begins in December. A reduction in the General category daily retention limit is necessary to extend fishing opportunities throughout the fishing year while reducing the risk of combined landings and dead discards exceeding the available U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement these retention limits is impracticable as it would preclude NMFS from acting promptly to allow continued harvest of BFT that are available on the fishing grounds via a quota transfer from the Reserve category to the General category. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of the above reasons, and because this action relieves a restriction (i.e., the General category retention limit will remain open due to the quota transfer from the Reserve category rather than closing at this time), there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and 635.27(a)(7), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: November 3, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–28906 Filed 11–3–11; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 0906221072–91425–02] RIN 0648–XA781 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Inseason Action To Close the Commercial Non-Sandbar Large Coastal Shark Fishery in the Atlantic Region National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Fishery closures. AGENCY: NMFS is closing the commercial fishery for non-sandbar large coastal sharks (LCS) in the Atlantic region. This action is necessary under existing regulations because landings in this fishery have exceeded 80 percent of the available quota. DATES: The commercial non-sandbar LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is closed effective 11:30 p.m. local time November 15, 2011, until the effective date of the final 2012 shark season specifications, which NMFS will publish as a separate document in the Federal Register. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Peter Cooper, (301) 427–8503; (fax) (301) 713–1917. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), its amendments, and its implementing regulations found at 50 CFR part 635 and issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Under § 635.5(b)(1), shark dealers are required to report to NMFS every two weeks all sharks landed. Dealer reports for fish received between the 1st and 15th of any month must be received by NMFS by the 25th of that month. Dealer reports for fish received between the 16th and the end of any month must be received by NMFS by the 10th of the following month. Under § 635.28(b)(2), when NMFS projects that fishing season landings for a species group have reached or are about to reach 80 percent of the available quota, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08NOR1.SGM 08NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 216 (Tuesday, November 8, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 69137-69139]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-28906]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

RIN 0648-XA802
[Docket No. 110210132-1275-02]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason quota transfer and General category 
retention limit adjustment.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that an Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota 
transfer is appropriate, and transfers 50 metric tons (mt) from the 
Reserve category to the General category for the remainder of the 2011 
fishing year. NMFS also has determined that the General category daily 
BFT retention limit should be adjusted from three to two large medium 
or giant BFT for the remainder of the 2011 fishing year (i.e., through 
December 31, 2011) based on consideration of the regulatory 
determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action 
applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted 
vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category 
permitted vessels (when fishing commercially for BFT).

[[Page 69138]]


DATES: Effective November 6, 2011, through December 31, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Tom Warren, (978) 
281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, consistent with 
the allocations established in the Consolidated Highly Migratory 
Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, 
October 2, 2006) and subsequent rulemaking.
    The 2011 BFT fishing year began on January 1, 2011, and ends 
December 31, 2011. The 2011 BFT quota specifications (76 FR 39019, July 
5, 2011) established a quota of 435.1 mt for the General category 
fishery (the commercial tunas fishery in which handgear is used). Each 
of the General category time periods (January, June-August, September, 
October-November, and December) is allocated a portion of the annual 
General category quota, thereby ensuring extended fishing opportunities 
throughout the fishing season, particularly in years when catch rates 
are high. The General category fishery is open until December 31, 2011, 
or until the General category quota is reached. The 2011 BFT quota 
specifications also established a Reserve category of 70.5 mt for 
inseason adjustments, and potential quota transfers, scientific 
research collection, and accounting for potential overharvest in any 
category except the Purse Seine category.

Inseason Transfer to the General Category

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(7), NMFS has the authority to allocate any 
portion of the Reserve category to any category quota in the fishery, 
other than the Angling category school BFT subquota (for which there is 
a separate reserve), after considering determination criteria provided 
under Sec.  635.27(a)(8), which include: The usefulness of information 
obtained from catches in the particular category for biological 
sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock; the catches of the 
particular category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that 
segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made; the projected ability 
of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota to harvest 
the additional amount of BFT before the end of the fishing year; the 
estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the 
fishery might be exceeded; effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding 
and overfishing; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the 
objectives of the fishery management plan; variations in seasonal 
distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of BFT; effects of catch 
rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a 
reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the category's quota; 
and a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the 
availability of the BFT on the fishing grounds.
    NMFS has considered the determination criteria regarding inseason 
adjustments and their applicability to the General category fishery for 
the remainder of the 2011 fishing year. These considerations include, 
but are not limited to, the following. As of October 26, 2011, the 
General category has landed 413.1 mt, or 95 percent of its 2011 quota 
of 435.1 mt. Overall, approximately 64 percent of the available 
commercial BFT quota (775.4 mt) has been harvested. Several Atlantic 
tuna dealers are currently providing biological samples from BFT caught 
by General category vessels to support ongoing NMFS-approved research 
regarding reproduction status and feeding habits of BFT. Continued 
landings of BFT would support the collection of a broad range of data 
for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. Some categories 
are not expected to use their available 2011 quotas (i.e., 
approximately 200 mt or more may remain unused). NMFS will need to 
account for 2011 BFT landings and dead discards within the U.S. quota, 
consistent with ICCAT recommendations. While transferring quota from 
the Reserve category decreases the amount of unused quota that would be 
available, if needed, to account for all landings and dead discards 
within the total 2011 U.S. quota once the dead discard information is 
available, NMFS' best estimates of current dead discards and quota that 
will remain unused indicate that the risk of exceeding the overall 
quota is small. This risk is also outweighed by the potential benefit 
of keeping the General category, which is successfully harvesting 
available quota, open for the remainder of the year.
    A quota transfer at this time would provide additional 
opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while 
preserving the opportunity for General category fishermen to 
participate in the winter BFT fishery in the mid-Atlantic region that 
typically begins in December when commercial-sized BFT become available 
in that area. Per the Consolidated HMS FMP, the December General 
category fishery is allocated 5.2 percent of the General category quota 
(i.e., 22.6 mt for December 2011).
    Based on the considerations above, as well as the available quota, 
fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the 
fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that a quota transfer is warranted 
and transfers 50 mt of the 70.5 mt of the Reserve category to the 
General category. Thus, the General category quota is adjusted to 485.1 
mt for the 2011 fishing year. Once the adjusted General category quota 
has been reached, or on December 31, 2011 (whichever comes first), the 
2011 General category fishery will be closed. The 2012 General category 
fishery begins January 1, 2012.

Reduction of General Category Daily Retention Limit

    Under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily 
retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a 
maximum of three per vessel based on consideration of the criteria 
provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8), as listed above.
    For the 2011 fishing year to date, NMFS adjusted the General 
category limit from the default level of one large medium or giant BFT 
as follows: two large medium or giant BFT for January (75 FR 79309, 
December 20, 2010), and three large medium or giant BFT for June 
through August (76 FR 32086, June 3, 2011) and three large medium or 
giant BFT for September through December (76 FR 52886, August 24, 
2011). In these actions, NMFS indicated that additional retention limit 
adjustments could be made, if necessary.
    As indicated above, the General category has landed 413.1 mt, or 95 
percent of its 2011 quota of 435.1 mt based on landings through October 
26, 2011. Based on considerations of the available quota, fishery 
performance in recent years (landings and discards), and the 
availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that 
the General category retention limit should be reduced. Accordingly, 
NMFS adjusts the General category retention limit from three to two 
large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip effective November 
14, 2011, through December 31, 2011. NMFS expects that this retention 
limit, in conjunction with

[[Page 69139]]

the 50-mt quota transfer, would allow the General category to remain 
open through the end of the fishing year while not risking overharvest 
of the U.S. BFT quota, including accounting for dead discards as 
required by ICCAT.
    Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention 
limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a vessel fishing under 
the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in 
one day, the daily limit of two fish may not be exceeded upon landing. 
This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except 
for the Gulf of Mexico, and applies to vessels permitted in the General 
category as well as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels 
fishing commercially for BFT.
    This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to 
harvest the U.S. landings quota of BFT without exceeding it, while 
maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; to help 
achieve optimum yield in the General category BFT fishery; to collect a 
broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes; and to be consistent 
with the objectives of the Consolidated HMS FMP.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS selected the daily retention limit for the remainder of the 
2011 fishing year after examining an array of data as it pertains to 
the determination criteria. These data included, but were not limited 
to, current and previous catch and effort rates in the BFT fisheries, 
quota availability, previous public comments on inseason management 
measures, and stock status. NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT 
fishery closely through the mandatory dealer landing reports, which 
NMFS requires to be submitted within 24 hours of a dealer receiving 
BFT. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional action is necessary to ensure 
available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data 
collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. 
NMFS will address the January 2012 General category daily retention 
limit via a separate inseason action later in the year, if necessary.
    Closure of the General category or subsequent adjustments to the 
daily retention limits, if any, will be published in the Federal 
Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas 
Information Line at (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or access http://www.hmspermits.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and retention limit 
adjustments.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the Consolidated HMS FMP provide for 
inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable 
nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature 
of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Based 
on available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, and the 
availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, a quota transfer is 
warranted to provide additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT 
quota, including preserving the opportunity for General category 
fishermen to participate in the winter BFT fishery in the mid-Atlantic 
region that typically begins in December. A reduction in the General 
category daily retention limit is necessary to extend fishing 
opportunities throughout the fishing year while reducing the risk of 
combined landings and dead discards exceeding the available U.S. quota, 
consistent with ICCAT recommendations.
    Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to 
implement these retention limits is impracticable as it would preclude 
NMFS from acting promptly to allow continued harvest of BFT that are 
available on the fishing grounds via a quota transfer from the Reserve 
category to the General category. Therefore, the AA finds good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for 
public comment. For all of the above reasons, and because this action 
relieves a restriction (i.e., the General category retention limit will 
remain open due to the quota transfer from the Reserve category rather 
than closing at this time), there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and 
635.27(a)(7), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: November 3, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-28906 Filed 11-3-11; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P