Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific Research, Display, and Chartering Permits; Letters of Acknowledgment, 72678-72680 [2011-30399]

Download as PDF 72678 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 227 / Friday, November 25, 2011 / Notices countervailing duty law of the country that made the determination. Under Article 1904 of the Agreement, which came into force on January 1, 1994, the Government of the United States, the Government of Canada and the Government of Mexico established Rules of Procedure for Article 1904 Binational Panel Reviews (‘‘Rules’’). These Rules were published in the Federal Register on February 23, 1994 (59 FR 8686). A first Request for Panel Review was filed with the Mexican Section of the NAFTA Secretariat, pursuant to Article 1904 of the Agreement, on November 4, 2011, requesting panel review of the final determination described above. The Rules provide that: (a) A Party or interested person may challenge the final determination in whole or in part by filing a Complaint in accordance with Rule 39 within 30 days after the filing of the first Request for Panel Review (the deadline for filing a Complaint is December 5, 2011); (b) A Party, investigating authority or interested person that does not file a Complaint but that intends to appear in support of any reviewable portion of the final determination may participate in the panel review by filing a Notice of Appearance in accordance with Rule 40 within 45 days after the filing of the first Request for Panel Review (the deadline for filing a Notice of Appearance is December 19, 2011); and (c) The panel review shall be limited to the allegations of error of fact or law, including the jurisdiction of the investigating authority, that are set out in the Complaints filed in the panel review and the procedural and substantive defenses raised in the panel review. Dated: November 18, 2011. Marsha Ann Y. Iyomasa, Deputy United States Secretary, NAFTA Secretariat. [FR Doc. 2011–30314 Filed 11–23–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–GT–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wreier-aviles on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES RIN 0648–XA799 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific Research, Display, and Chartering Permits; Letters of Acknowledgment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:31 Nov 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 Notice of intent; request for comments. ACTION: NMFS announces its intent to issue Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), Scientific Research Permits (SRPs), Display Permits, Letters of Acknowledgment (LOAs), and Chartering Permits for the collection of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) in 2012. In general, EFPs and related permits would authorize collection of a limited number of tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data collection and public display. Chartering Permits allow the collection of HMS on the high seas or in the Exclusive Economic Zone of other nations. Generally, these permits will be valid from the date of issuance through December 31, 2012, unless otherwise specified, subject to the terms and conditions of individual permits. DATES: Written comments on these activities received in response to this notice will be considered by NMFS when issuing EFPs and related permits and must be received on or before December 27, 2011. ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods: • Email: HMSEFP.2012@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line the following identifier: 0648–XA799. • Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. • Fax: (301) 713–1917. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell, phone: (301) 427–8503, fax: (301) 713–1917, or Jackie Wilson at (240) 338–3936. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Issuance of EFPs and related permits are necessary for the collection of HMS for public display and scientific research that is exempt from regulations (e.g., seasons, prohibited species, authorized gear, and minimum sizes) that may prohibit the collection of live animals or biological samples. Collection for scientific research and display represents a small portion of the overall fishing mortality for HMS, and this mortality is counted against the quota of the species harvested. The terms and conditions of individual permits are unique; however, all permits will include reporting requirements, limit the number and species of HMS to be collected, and only authorize collection in Federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 EFPs and related permits are issued under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and/or the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). Regulations at 600.745 and 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted fishing, chartering arrangements, and exempted educational activities with respect to Atlantic HMS. Since the MagnusonStevens Act does not consider scientific research to be ‘‘fishing,’’ scientific research is exempt from this statute, and NMFS does not issue EFPs for bona fide research activities (e.g., research conducted from a research vessel and not a commercial or recreational fishing vessel) involving species that are only regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (e.g., most species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS requests copies of scientific research plans for these activities and indicates concurrence by issuing an LOA to researchers to indicate that the proposed activity meets the definition of research and is therefore exempt from regulation. Examples of research conducted under LOAs include tagging and releasing of sharks during bottom longline surveys to understand the distribution and seasonal abundance of different shark species, and collecting and sampling sharks caught during trawl surveys for life history studies. Scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. NMFS issues SRPs for collection of species managed under this statute (e.g., tunas, swordfish, billfish, and some species of sharks), which authorize researchers to collect HMS from bona fide research vessels. One example of research conducted under SRPs consists of scientific surveys of HMS conducted from the NOAA research vessels. EFPs are issued to researchers collecting ATCAmanaged species and conducting research from commercial or recreational fishing vessels. NMFS regulations concerning the implantation or attachment of archival tags in Atlantic HMS require scientists to report their activities associated with these tags. Examples of research conducted under EFPs include deploying pop-up satellite archival tags on billfish, sharks, and tunas to determine migration patterns of these species; conducting billfish larval tows to determine billfish habitat use, life history, and population structure; and determining catch rates and gear characteristics of the swordfish buoy gear fishery. NMFS is also seeking public comment on its intent to issue Display Permits for E:\FR\FM\25NON1.SGM 25NON1 wreier-aviles on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 227 / Friday, November 25, 2011 / Notices the collection of sharks and other HMS for public display in 2011. Collection of sharks and other HMS sought for public display in aquaria often involves collection when the commercial fishing seasons are closed, collection of otherwise prohibited species, and collection of fish below the minimum size for recreational permit holders. NMFS established a 60-metric ton (mt) whole weight (ww) (approximately 3,000 sharks) quota for the public display and research of sharks (combined) in the final Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP). Collections of animals in both state and federal waters are deducted from this quota. The quotas available for scientific research and public display of sandbar and dusky sharks were modified in Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (June 24, 2008, 73 FR 35778; corrected on July 15, 2008 73 FR 40658) in light of the results of recent stock assessments. The public display and scientific research quotas for sandbar sharks are now limited to 2.78 mt ww (2 mt dressed weight (dw)): 1.39 mt ww for public display and 1.39 mt ww for scientific research. Furthermore, Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP limited dusky shark collection to bona fide scientific research and prohibits dusky shark collection for public display. The rule did not modify the overall 60-mt ww quota; rather, it adjusted the proportion of the quota allocated to sandbar and dusky sharks. These quotas have been analyzed in conjunction with other sources of mortality under Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, and NMFS has determined that harvesting this amount for public display will not have a significant impact on the stocks. The number of sharks harvested for display and research has remained under the annual 60-mt ww quota every year since establishment of the quota. In 2010, approximately 69 percent of the sharks authorized for public display and scientific research purposes were actually harvested or discarded dead. Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP also established a separate set-aside quota for smoothhound sharks (i.e., smooth dogfish and Florida smoothhounds) taken for research purposes, which would be in addition to the overall 60-mt ww quota for the public display and research of all sharks. However, the smoothhound shark research set-aside quota is not yet effective and their harvest resulting VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:31 Nov 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 from research activities is not yet deducted from the set aside quota for public display and research of sharks. NMFS will announce when such regulations become effective through a publication in the Federal Register. Exempted fishing permits will continue to be considered for issuance in 2012, for bycatch reduction research in closed areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea to test gear modifications and fishing techniques aimed to avoid incidental capture of non-target species. In addition to this opportunity for public comment, the HMS Management Division will seek additional public comment, as necessary, on specific proposals where research is not being conducted solely from bona fide research vessels or fishing vessels specifically contracted to conduct scientific research. NMFS generally does not consider recreational or commercial vessels bona fide research vessels. However, if the vessels have been contracted to only conduct research and not participate in any commercial or recreational fishing activities during that research, NMFS may consider those vessels as bona fide research platforms while conducting the specified research. As an example, NMFS has considered the recreational and commercial vessels contracted to conduct research under the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill as bona fide research platforms. Furthermore, NMFS will provide the public with additional opportunities for comment, as necessary and appropriate, if research could allow commercial fishing vessels to conduct limited fishing trips inside closed areas in conjunction with specified research. The HMS Management Division is also requesting comments on chartering permits considered for issuance in 2012 to U.S. vessels fishing for HMS while operating under chartering arrangements. In 2011 there were no chartering permits issued to U.S. fishing vessels. A chartering arrangement is a contract or agreement between a U.S. vessel owner and a foreign entity by which the control, use, or services of a vessel are secured for a period of time for fishing for Atlantic HMS. Before fishing under a chartering arrangement, the owner of the U.S. fishing vessel must apply for a Chartering Permit. The vessel chartering regulations can be found at 635.5(a)(4) and 635.32(e). In addition, Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP implemented a shark research fishery. This research fishery is conducted under the auspices PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 72679 of the exempted fishing program. Research fishery permit holders assist NMFS in collecting valuable shark life history data and data for future shark stock assessments. Fishermen must fill out an application for a shark research permit under the exempted fishing program to participate in the shark research fishery. Shark research fishery participants are subject to 100-percent observer coverage in addition to other terms and conditions. A Federal Register notice describing the objectives for the shark research fishery in 2012 published on October 31, 2011 (76 FR 67149). The authorized number of species for 2011, as well as the number of specimens collected in 2010, is summarized in Table 1. The number of specimens collected in 2011 will be available when all 2011 interim and annual reports are submitted to NMFS. In 2010, the number of specimens collected was less than the number of authorized specimens for most permit types, with the exception of the number of larvae collected under billfish EFPs, and sharks taken under SRPs and Display permits. It is difficult to control the quantity of larvae that may be caught when sampling fish larvae. However, the impacts of these collections on fish populations are not expected to be significant given the high level of natural mortality of fish larvae. As for sharks taken under SRPs and Display Permits, 374 of the sharks taken were Atlantic sharpnose sharks collected during trips using longline gear; it is also difficult to control the number and species of animals caught when using this gear type. However, as Atlantic sharpnose sharks were not found to be overfished nor have overfishing occurring during its most recent stock assessment in 2007, these collections are not expected to have any impacts on Atlantic sharpnose populations. In all cases, mortality associated with an EFP, SRP, Display Permit, or LOA (except for larvae) is counted against the appropriate quota. NMFS issued a total of 28 EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, and LOAs in 2010 for the collection of HMS. As of October 31, 2011, NMFS has issued a total of 32 EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, and LOAs. These do not include permits that were issued for research related to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, seven permits were issued for research related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. E:\FR\FM\25NON1.SGM 25NON1 72680 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 227 / Friday, November 25, 2011 / Notices TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF HMS EXEMPTED PERMITS ISSUED IN 2010 AND 2011. ‘‘HMS’’ REFERS TO MULTIPLE SPECIES BEING COLLECTED UNDER A GIVEN PERMIT TYPE 2010 Permit type Permits issued * * 2011 Authorized fish (num) Authorized larvae (num) Fish kept/ discarded dead (num) Larvae kept (num) Permits issued * * Authorized fish (num) Authorized larvae (num) EFP HMS .......................... Shark ......................... Tuna .......................... Billfish ........................ SRP HMS .......................... Shark ......................... Tuna .......................... Display HMS .......................... Shark ......................... 1 9 5 2 454 755 295 0 0 0 0 1,000 0 607 67 0 0 0 0 2,327 2 8 5 2 273 1,377 695 40 0 0 0 1,000 0 1 0 0 140 0 0 0 0 0 †345 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 83 1,365 110 0 0 0 2 2 153 107 0 0 1 †113 0 0 2 3 124 87 0 0 Total ................... LOA * Shark ......................... 22 1,904 1,000 1,133 2,327 27 4,154 1,000 6 4,140 0 2,000 0 5 5,367 0 * LOAs are issued for bona fide scientific research activities involving non-ATCA managed species (e.g., most species of sharks). Collections made under an LOA are not authorized; rather this estimated harvest for research is acknowledged by NMFS. Permitees are encouraged to report all fishing activities in a timely manner. * * 2010 & 2011 permits issued listed in Table 1 do not include permits issued solely for research related to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill research in the Gulf of Mexico. † All additional collections above the authorized levels were due to incidentally caught Atlantic sharpnose sharks. Final decisions on the issuance of any EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, and Chartering Permits will depend on the submission of all required information about the proposed activities, NMFS’s review of public comments received on this notice, an applicant’s reporting history on past permits issued, past law enforcement violations, consistency with relevant NEPA documents, and any consultations with appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, states, or Federal agencies. NMFS does not anticipate any significant environmental impacts from the issuance of these EFPs as assessed in the 1999 FMP and Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 21, 2011. Steven Thur, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–30399 Filed 11–23–11; 8:45 am] wreier-aviles on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:31 Nov 23, 2011 Jkt 226001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA078 [File No. 15750] Marine Mammals National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that a permit has been issued to ABR, Inc. Environmental Research and Services, Fairbanks, AK, to conduct research on marine mammals in Alaska. ADDRESSES: The permit and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following offices: Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427–8401; fax (301) 713–0376; and Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668; phone (907) 586–7221; fax (907) 586–7249. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tammy Adams or Laura Morse, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 9, 2010, notice was published in the Federal Register (75 FR 76703) SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 that a request for a permit had been submitted by the above-named applicant. The requested permit has been issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222–226), and the Fur Seal Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.). The permit is valid for five years and allows harassment of the following marine mammal species during conduct of aerial surveys to document seasonal distribution and abundance of marine mammals in western lower Cook Inlet, Alaska: Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), Dall’s porpoises (Phocoenoides dalli), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus), killer whales (Orcinus orca), northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), fin whales (B. physalus), and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared analyzing the effects of the permitted activities on the human environment in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of E:\FR\FM\25NON1.SGM 25NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 227 (Friday, November 25, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72678-72680]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-30399]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA799


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific 
Research, Display, and Chartering Permits; Letters of Acknowledgment

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

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces its intent to issue Exempted Fishing Permits 
(EFPs), Scientific Research Permits (SRPs), Display Permits, Letters of 
Acknowledgment (LOAs), and Chartering Permits for the collection of 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) in 2012. In general, EFPs and 
related permits would authorize collection of a limited number of 
tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the 
Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of 
scientific data collection and public display. Chartering Permits allow 
the collection of HMS on the high seas or in the Exclusive Economic 
Zone of other nations. Generally, these permits will be valid from the 
date of issuance through December 31, 2012, unless otherwise specified, 
subject to the terms and conditions of individual permits.

DATES: Written comments on these activities received in response to 
this notice will be considered by NMFS when issuing EFPs and related 
permits and must be received on or before December 27, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     Email: HMSEFP.2012@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line 
the following identifier: 0648-XA799.
     Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management 
Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 
20910.
     Fax: (301) 713-1917.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell, phone: (301) 427-8503, 
fax: (301) 713-1917, or Jackie Wilson at (240) 338-3936.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Issuance of EFPs and related permits are 
necessary for the collection of HMS for public display and scientific 
research that is exempt from regulations (e.g., seasons, prohibited 
species, authorized gear, and minimum sizes) that may prohibit the 
collection of live animals or biological samples. Collection for 
scientific research and display represents a small portion of the 
overall fishing mortality for HMS, and this mortality is counted 
against the quota of the species harvested. The terms and conditions of 
individual permits are unique; however, all permits will include 
reporting requirements, limit the number and species of HMS to be 
collected, and only authorize collection in Federal waters of the 
Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.
    EFPs and related permits are issued under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and/or the Atlantic 
Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). Regulations at 
600.745 and 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted 
fishing, chartering arrangements, and exempted educational activities 
with respect to Atlantic HMS. Since the Magnuson-Stevens Act does not 
consider scientific research to be ``fishing,'' scientific research is 
exempt from this statute, and NMFS does not issue EFPs for bona fide 
research activities (e.g., research conducted from a research vessel 
and not a commercial or recreational fishing vessel) involving species 
that are only regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (e.g., most 
species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS requests copies of 
scientific research plans for these activities and indicates 
concurrence by issuing an LOA to researchers to indicate that the 
proposed activity meets the definition of research and is therefore 
exempt from regulation. Examples of research conducted under LOAs 
include tagging and releasing of sharks during bottom longline surveys 
to understand the distribution and seasonal abundance of different 
shark species, and collecting and sampling sharks caught during trawl 
surveys for life history studies.
    Scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. NMFS 
issues SRPs for collection of species managed under this statute (e.g., 
tunas, swordfish, billfish, and some species of sharks), which 
authorize researchers to collect HMS from bona fide research vessels. 
One example of research conducted under SRPs consists of scientific 
surveys of HMS conducted from the NOAA research vessels. EFPs are 
issued to researchers collecting ATCA-managed species and conducting 
research from commercial or recreational fishing vessels. NMFS 
regulations concerning the implantation or attachment of archival tags 
in Atlantic HMS require scientists to report their activities 
associated with these tags. Examples of research conducted under EFPs 
include deploying pop-up satellite archival tags on billfish, sharks, 
and tunas to determine migration patterns of these species; conducting 
billfish larval tows to determine billfish habitat use, life history, 
and population structure; and determining catch rates and gear 
characteristics of the swordfish buoy gear fishery.
    NMFS is also seeking public comment on its intent to issue Display 
Permits for

[[Page 72679]]

the collection of sharks and other HMS for public display in 2011. 
Collection of sharks and other HMS sought for public display in aquaria 
often involves collection when the commercial fishing seasons are 
closed, collection of otherwise prohibited species, and collection of 
fish below the minimum size for recreational permit holders. NMFS 
established a 60-metric ton (mt) whole weight (ww) (approximately 3,000 
sharks) quota for the public display and research of sharks (combined) 
in the final Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Tunas, 
Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP). Collections of animals in both state 
and federal waters are deducted from this quota. The quotas available 
for scientific research and public display of sandbar and dusky sharks 
were modified in Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (June 24, 
2008, 73 FR 35778; corrected on July 15, 2008 73 FR 40658) in light of 
the results of recent stock assessments. The public display and 
scientific research quotas for sandbar sharks are now limited to 2.78 
mt ww (2 mt dressed weight (dw)): 1.39 mt ww for public display and 
1.39 mt ww for scientific research. Furthermore, Amendment 2 to the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP limited dusky shark collection to bona fide 
scientific research and prohibits dusky shark collection for public 
display. The rule did not modify the overall 60-mt ww quota; rather, it 
adjusted the proportion of the quota allocated to sandbar and dusky 
sharks. These quotas have been analyzed in conjunction with other 
sources of mortality under Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP, and NMFS has determined that harvesting this amount for public 
display will not have a significant impact on the stocks. The number of 
sharks harvested for display and research has remained under the annual 
60-mt ww quota every year since establishment of the quota. In 2010, 
approximately 69 percent of the sharks authorized for public display 
and scientific research purposes were actually harvested or discarded 
dead. Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP also established a 
separate set-aside quota for smoothhound sharks (i.e., smooth dogfish 
and Florida smoothhounds) taken for research purposes, which would be 
in addition to the overall 60-mt ww quota for the public display and 
research of all sharks. However, the smoothhound shark research set-
aside quota is not yet effective and their harvest resulting from 
research activities is not yet deducted from the set aside quota for 
public display and research of sharks. NMFS will announce when such 
regulations become effective through a publication in the Federal 
Register.
    Exempted fishing permits will continue to be considered for 
issuance in 2012, for bycatch reduction research in closed areas of the 
Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea to test gear 
modifications and fishing techniques aimed to avoid incidental capture 
of non-target species. In addition to this opportunity for public 
comment, the HMS Management Division will seek additional public 
comment, as necessary, on specific proposals where research is not 
being conducted solely from bona fide research vessels or fishing 
vessels specifically contracted to conduct scientific research. NMFS 
generally does not consider recreational or commercial vessels bona 
fide research vessels. However, if the vessels have been contracted to 
only conduct research and not participate in any commercial or 
recreational fishing activities during that research, NMFS may consider 
those vessels as bona fide research platforms while conducting the 
specified research. As an example, NMFS has considered the recreational 
and commercial vessels contracted to conduct research under the 
Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill as bona fide research platforms. 
Furthermore, NMFS will provide the public with additional opportunities 
for comment, as necessary and appropriate, if research could allow 
commercial fishing vessels to conduct limited fishing trips inside 
closed areas in conjunction with specified research.
    The HMS Management Division is also requesting comments on 
chartering permits considered for issuance in 2012 to U.S. vessels 
fishing for HMS while operating under chartering arrangements. In 2011 
there were no chartering permits issued to U.S. fishing vessels. A 
chartering arrangement is a contract or agreement between a U.S. vessel 
owner and a foreign entity by which the control, use, or services of a 
vessel are secured for a period of time for fishing for Atlantic HMS. 
Before fishing under a chartering arrangement, the owner of the U.S. 
fishing vessel must apply for a Chartering Permit. The vessel 
chartering regulations can be found at 635.5(a)(4) and 635.32(e).
    In addition, Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
implemented a shark research fishery. This research fishery is 
conducted under the auspices of the exempted fishing program. Research 
fishery permit holders assist NMFS in collecting valuable shark life 
history data and data for future shark stock assessments. Fishermen 
must fill out an application for a shark research permit under the 
exempted fishing program to participate in the shark research fishery. 
Shark research fishery participants are subject to 100-percent observer 
coverage in addition to other terms and conditions. A Federal Register 
notice describing the objectives for the shark research fishery in 2012 
published on October 31, 2011 (76 FR 67149).
    The authorized number of species for 2011, as well as the number of 
specimens collected in 2010, is summarized in Table 1. The number of 
specimens collected in 2011 will be available when all 2011 interim and 
annual reports are submitted to NMFS. In 2010, the number of specimens 
collected was less than the number of authorized specimens for most 
permit types, with the exception of the number of larvae collected 
under billfish EFPs, and sharks taken under SRPs and Display permits. 
It is difficult to control the quantity of larvae that may be caught 
when sampling fish larvae. However, the impacts of these collections on 
fish populations are not expected to be significant given the high 
level of natural mortality of fish larvae. As for sharks taken under 
SRPs and Display Permits, 374 of the sharks taken were Atlantic 
sharpnose sharks collected during trips using longline gear; it is also 
difficult to control the number and species of animals caught when 
using this gear type. However, as Atlantic sharpnose sharks were not 
found to be overfished nor have overfishing occurring during its most 
recent stock assessment in 2007, these collections are not expected to 
have any impacts on Atlantic sharpnose populations.
    In all cases, mortality associated with an EFP, SRP, Display 
Permit, or LOA (except for larvae) is counted against the appropriate 
quota. NMFS issued a total of 28 EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, and LOAs 
in 2010 for the collection of HMS. As of October 31, 2011, NMFS has 
issued a total of 32 EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, and LOAs. These do 
not include permits that were issued for research related to the 
Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, seven 
permits were issued for research related to the oil spill in the Gulf 
of Mexico.


[[Page 72680]]



     Table 1--Summary of HMS Exempted Permits Issued in 2010 and 2011. ``HMS'' Refers to Multiple Species Being Collected Under a Given Permit Type
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       2010                                                                         2011
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Authorized   Fish kept/                                          Authorized
                   Permit type                      Permits     Authorized     larvae     discarded   Larvae kept    Permits     Authorized     larvae
                                                   issued * *   fish (num)     (num)      dead (num)     (num)      issued * *   fish (num)     (num)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EFP
    HMS.........................................            1          454            0            0            0            2          273            0
    Shark.......................................            9          755            0          607            0            8        1,377            0
    Tuna........................................            5          295            0           67            0            5          695            0
    Billfish....................................            2            0        1,000            0        2,327            2           40        1,000
SRP
    HMS.........................................            0            0            0            0            0            1           83            0
    Shark.......................................            1          140            0  [dagger]345            0            3        1,365            0
    Tuna........................................            0            0            0            0            0            1          110            0
Display
    HMS.........................................            2          153            0            1            0            2          124            0
    Shark.......................................            2          107            0  [dagger]113            0            3           87            0
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................................           22        1,904        1,000        1,133        2,327           27        4,154        1,000
LOA *
    Shark.......................................            6        4,140            0        2,000            0            5        5,367            0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* LOAs are issued for bona fide scientific research activities involving non-ATCA managed species (e.g., most species of sharks). Collections made under
  an LOA are not authorized; rather this estimated harvest for research is acknowledged by NMFS. Permitees are encouraged to report all fishing
  activities in a timely manner.
* * 2010 & 2011 permits issued listed in Table 1 do not include permits issued solely for research related to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill
  research in the Gulf of Mexico.
[dagger] All additional collections above the authorized levels were due to incidentally caught Atlantic sharpnose sharks.

    Final decisions on the issuance of any EFPs, SRPs, Display Permits, 
and Chartering Permits will depend on the submission of all required 
information about the proposed activities, NMFS's review of public 
comments received on this notice, an applicant's reporting history on 
past permits issued, past law enforcement violations, consistency with 
relevant NEPA documents, and any consultations with appropriate 
Regional Fishery Management Councils, states, or Federal agencies. NMFS 
does not anticipate any significant environmental impacts from the 
issuance of these EFPs as assessed in the 1999 FMP and Amendment 2 to 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.

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

    Dated: November 21, 2011.
Steven Thur,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-30399 Filed 11-23-11; 8:45 am]
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