Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 36728-36729 [2014-15269]

Download as PDF 36728 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 125 / Monday, June 30, 2014 / Notices (NAO 216–6), and CEQ’s NEPA regulations. The draft revised and updated NEPA procedures are intended to: • Add additional references to NEPA’s requirements; • Add additional description about Council processes; • Add greater specificity to certain timing requirements; and • Clarify NMFS’s intent with regards to usage of NEPA documents. Both the 2013 Policy Directive, and the draft revised and updated NEPA procedures for MSA actions are available online at https://www.nmfs. noaa.gov/msa2007/nepa.htm. After considering comments, NMFS intends to finalize the proposed NEPA procedures for MSA actions and to withdraw the proposed May 2008 rule. Dated: June 24, 2014. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2014–15270 Filed 6–27–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XD349 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has made a preliminary determination that an application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) warrants further consideration and an opportunity for public comment. The application was submitted by the owner and operator of an Atlantic tunas Purse Seine categorypermitted vessel, requesting an exemption from annual incidental purse seine retention limit on the harvest of large medium Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) (i.e., measuring 73 to less than 81 inches curved fork length). The applicants propose that NMFS, through issuance of the EFP, assess the possibility of reducing regulatory discards related to this limit to increase the likelihood of harvesting the vessel’s individual purse seine vessel BFT quota and the category subquota overall. NMFS is interested in assessing this possibility consistent with the purposes mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:01 Jun 27, 2014 Jkt 232001 of EFPs and the associated data that could be gathered through such an EFP and requests public comment on the information provided in this notice and the application submitted. DATES: Comments must be received by July 21, 2014. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this notice, identified by 0648– XD349, by any one of the following methods: • Email: NMFS.PSEFP.2014@ noaa.gov. • Mail: Margo Schulze-Haugen, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on 2014 purse seine EFP application.’’ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A copy of the application can viewed at the following Web site: https:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/news/ breaking_news.html; or by contacting Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, NMFS, (301) 427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS published a notice of intent to issue EFPs, Scientific Research Permits, Letters of Acknowledgement, and Chartering Permits for Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) in 2014 (78 FR 69823, November 21, 2013). Although that notice anticipated a variety of applications, it stated that occasionally NMFS receives applications for activities that were not anticipated at the time of the general notice and that NMFS would provide additional opportunity for public comment if that were to occur. As discussed in the November 2013 notice of intent to issue EFPs and other permits, issuance of EFPs and related permits are necessary for the collection of HMS for public display and scientific research to exempt them from specified regulations (e.g., fishing seasons, prohibited species, authorized gear, closed areas, and minimum sizes) that may otherwise prohibit such collection. Specifically, NMFS may authorize activities otherwise prohibited by the regulations at 50 CFR part 635 for the conduct of scientific research; the acquisition of information and data; the enhancement of safety at sea; the purpose of collecting animals for public education or display; the investigation of bycatch, economic or regulatory discard; or for chartering arrangements. See 50 CFR 635.32(a)(1). The terms and conditions of individual permits are unique; however, all permits include reporting requirements, limit the number and species of HMS to be PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 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 50 CFR 600.745 and 635.32 govern exempted fishing permits, as well as scientific research activity, chartering arrangements, and exempted public display and educational activities. Current Atlantic HMS regulations specify that persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category ‘‘may retain, possess, land, or sell large medium BFT in amounts not exceeding 15 percent, by weight, of the total amount of giant BFT landed during that fishing year.’’ See 50 CFR 635.23(e)(1). As a result, Purse Seine category vessels may discard large medium BFT to reduce the risk of exceeding the annual purse seine retention limit. This has the effect of focusing effort in the purse seine fishery on giant BFT but may also result in dead discards of the smaller BFT. The retention limits that apply to most commercial categories allow the retention of large medium BFT. In the Draft Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP), NMFS considered but did not further analyze the possibility of altering this limit. Although there has been past interest in altering this limit, e.g., the issue was raised in the comments on the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, this alternative was not considered further in the DEIS because there were few data available to determine whether such a change might be warranted or the impacts of such a change given recent low catch/landings from the Purse Seine category. Data are now available on dead discards by size relative to retained catch for the Purse Seine category from the 2013 fishing year, reflecting dead discards for the smaller size categories. NMFS believes that additional analysis about the potential benefits of altering the limit, both by reducing dead discards and improving the Purse Seine category’s opportunity to harvest its subquota, may be warranted and beneficial to the stock and the fishery. Additional data are needed to conduct such analyses and to make fishery management decisions. An EFP would allow NMFS to collect and review such additional data regarding the annual incidental purse seine retention limit by E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 125 / Monday, June 30, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES allowing the applicant to fish for commercial sized BFT in 2014, without the limit on large medium BFT, to determine the capability of reducing regulatory discards related to this restriction and harvesting the vessel’s individual quota. An EFP, if issued, would expire on December 31, 2014. Among the purposes of EFPs in the regulations (at 50 CFR 635.32(a)(1)) are ‘‘the investigation of bycatch, economic discard and regulatory discard,’’ and such an EFP would be in furtherance of those purposes. NMFS specifically invites comment on potential terms and conditions if such an EFP were to be issued, including the following: • The appropriate level of observer coverage for permitted trips. Currently, NMFS places observers on purse seine vessels via the Northeast Fishery Observer Program consistent with the HMS regulations and Recommendation 10–10 of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Recommendation by ICCAT to Establish Minimum Standards for Fishing Vessel Observer Programs) that there be a minimum of 5 percent observer coverage of purse seine fishing effort (as measured in number of sets or trips), among other things. • The appropriate number of trips or tonnage that should be authorized. Under the BFT regulations, individual Purse Seine category permitted vessels’ BFT quotas may be combined and transferred for use by one vessel, the 2014 codified purse seine category quota of 171.8 mt would be the upper limit on potential retention under this EFP. All BFT catch, including dead discards and landings, would count toward this quota. • The appropriate timing of such trips. Currently, the Purse Seine category opens July 15 of each year and closes December 31. • All BFT would be available for measurement and biological sampling or other specified research activity as appropriate. Analysis of Impacts to BFT NMFS largely considers the effects of this EFP, if issued, to have been analyzed in previous analyses that considered the overall U.S. quota and subquotas as set out in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and subsequent environmental analyses for the annual BFT specifications process. Exemption from the limit on large medium BFT would provide harvest flexibility within the existing individual purse seine vessel quota(s). The exemption would affect the size of BFT that could be retained and landed, but VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:01 Jun 27, 2014 Jkt 232001 NMFS does not expect that it would significantly alter fishing practices, given the short duration of the fishing activity, the limited number of vessels fishing, and other limits that would be placed on the EFP. The maximum amount of BFT that could be harvested would remain constrained at its upper limit to 171.8 mt, the total for the category, which could be authorized for one vessel if all individual vessel quotas were appropriately combined. NMFS does not anticipate authorizing the full category quota for harvest under this EFP but notes the maximum possible retention for the purposes of assessing potential impacts. For this quota level, the effects were analyzed within existing environmental assessment documents. Thus, activities under this EFP would not affect the total amount of BFT allowed to be harvested, limited by the ICCAT-recommended U.S. quota (which has been established consistent with ICCAT’s western Atlantic BFT rebuilding program) and by the associated Purse Seine category subquota. Issuance of this EFP would not be expected to affect BFT stock health or rebuilding in ways not previously analyzed for the existing quotas and specifications. Nor would NMFS expect the size selectivity of the western Atlantic BFT fishery to change. Existing BFT management measures, including the ICCAT rebuilding program, are based on total allowable catch (in weight) and assume that the pattern of fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age, also known as size selectivity of the fishery) will not change dramatically. As long as the U.S. quota is not exceeded and there is no significant change in fishery selectivity, issuance of an EFP would not be expected to have effects beyond those already analyzed. Collection of data regarding BFT released during the permitted purse seine fishing activity could improve monitoring and accounting of BFT discards and would inform future, potential regulatory actions. All BFT mortalities resulting from this EFP would be counted against the applicant’s individual Purse Seine category quota and would be within the overall, previously-analyzed quota for the category. Dead discards of all BFT less than 73 inches would be counted against the vessel’s quota. No live BFT less than 73 inches would be lethally sampled during fishing operations under this EFP. NMFS’ analysis of bycatch in the purse seine fishery has found dead discards to be limited to tunas (76 FR 39019, July 5, 2011). The applicant does PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 36729 not anticipate interactions with protected species or marine mammals. Final decisions on the issuance of this EFP will depend on the submission of all required information about the proposed activities, NMFS’ review of public comments received on this notice, any prior violations of marine resource laws administered by NOAA, 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 this EFP as assessed in the 1999 FMP (64 FR 29090, May 28, 1999), the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and its amendments, the 2011 final rule implementing the BFT quotas and Atlantic tuna fisheries management measures (76 FR 39019, July 5, 2011), and the 2013 BFT Quota Specifications (78 FR 36685, June 19, 2013). NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration. The agency may impose possible conditions on this EFP, if it is granted, based on consideration of public comments and further analyses. Reports on the fishing would be due at the conclusion of fishing trips, and summary a report 30 days from the expiration of the EFP, if issued, to be submitted to NMFS. NMFS requests comments and offers a 21-day comment period on this notice, consistent with EFP regulations at 600.45. The 21-day comment period balances the need to give the public an opportunity to comment with the fact that the Purse Seine category season starts July 15 and that further delay in any EFP issuance would reduce the time available to harvest the fish as permitted, and the ability for NMFS to gather useful information about normal operations during a typical purse seine season. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: June 25, 2014. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2014–15269 Filed 6–27–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 125 (Monday, June 30, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36728-36729]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-15269]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XD349


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing 
permit; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has made a preliminary determination that an application 
for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) warrants further consideration and 
an opportunity for public comment. The application was submitted by the 
owner and operator of an Atlantic tunas Purse Seine category-permitted 
vessel, requesting an exemption from annual incidental purse seine 
retention limit on the harvest of large medium Atlantic bluefin tuna 
(BFT) (i.e., measuring 73 to less than 81 inches curved fork length). 
The applicants propose that NMFS, through issuance of the EFP, assess 
the possibility of reducing regulatory discards related to this limit 
to increase the likelihood of harvesting the vessel's individual purse 
seine vessel BFT quota and the category subquota overall. NMFS is 
interested in assessing this possibility consistent with the purposes 
of EFPs and the associated data that could be gathered through such an 
EFP and requests public comment on the information provided in this 
notice and the application submitted.

DATES: Comments must be received by July 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this notice, identified by 0648-
XD349, by any one of the following methods:
     Email: NMFS.PSEFP.2014@noaa.gov.
     Mail: Margo Schulze-Haugen, Highly Migratory Species 
Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver 
Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on 
2014 purse seine EFP application.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A copy of the application can viewed 
at the following Web site: https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/news/breaking_news.html; or by contacting Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory 
Species Management Division, NMFS, (301) 427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS published a notice of intent to issue 
EFPs, Scientific Research Permits, Letters of Acknowledgement, and 
Chartering Permits for Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) in 2014 
(78 FR 69823, November 21, 2013). Although that notice anticipated a 
variety of applications, it stated that occasionally NMFS receives 
applications for activities that were not anticipated at the time of 
the general notice and that NMFS would provide additional opportunity 
for public comment if that were to occur.
    As discussed in the November 2013 notice of intent to issue EFPs 
and other permits, issuance of EFPs and related permits are necessary 
for the collection of HMS for public display and scientific research to 
exempt them from specified regulations (e.g., fishing seasons, 
prohibited species, authorized gear, closed areas, and minimum sizes) 
that may otherwise prohibit such collection. Specifically, NMFS may 
authorize activities otherwise prohibited by the regulations at 50 CFR 
part 635 for the conduct of scientific research; the acquisition of 
information and data; the enhancement of safety at sea; the purpose of 
collecting animals for public education or display; the investigation 
of bycatch, economic or regulatory discard; or for chartering 
arrangements. See 50 CFR 635.32(a)(1). The terms and conditions of 
individual permits are unique; however, all permits 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 50 CFR 600.745 and 635.32 govern exempted 
fishing permits, as well as scientific research activity, chartering 
arrangements, and exempted public display and educational activities.
    Current Atlantic HMS regulations specify that persons aboard a 
vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category ``may 
retain, possess, land, or sell large medium BFT in amounts not 
exceeding 15 percent, by weight, of the total amount of giant BFT 
landed during that fishing year.'' See 50 CFR 635.23(e)(1). As a 
result, Purse Seine category vessels may discard large medium BFT to 
reduce the risk of exceeding the annual purse seine retention limit. 
This has the effect of focusing effort in the purse seine fishery on 
giant BFT but may also result in dead discards of the smaller BFT. The 
retention limits that apply to most commercial categories allow the 
retention of large medium BFT.
    In the Draft Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS 
Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP), NMFS considered 
but did not further analyze the possibility of altering this limit. 
Although there has been past interest in altering this limit, e.g., the 
issue was raised in the comments on the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, this 
alternative was not considered further in the DEIS because there were 
few data available to determine whether such a change might be 
warranted or the impacts of such a change given recent low catch/
landings from the Purse Seine category.
    Data are now available on dead discards by size relative to 
retained catch for the Purse Seine category from the 2013 fishing year, 
reflecting dead discards for the smaller size categories. NMFS believes 
that additional analysis about the potential benefits of altering the 
limit, both by reducing dead discards and improving the Purse Seine 
category's opportunity to harvest its subquota, may be warranted and 
beneficial to the stock and the fishery. Additional data are needed to 
conduct such analyses and to make fishery management decisions. An EFP 
would allow NMFS to collect and review such additional data regarding 
the annual incidental purse seine retention limit by

[[Page 36729]]

allowing the applicant to fish for commercial sized BFT in 2014, 
without the limit on large medium BFT, to determine the capability of 
reducing regulatory discards related to this restriction and harvesting 
the vessel's individual quota. An EFP, if issued, would expire on 
December 31, 2014. Among the purposes of EFPs in the regulations (at 50 
CFR 635.32(a)(1)) are ``the investigation of bycatch, economic discard 
and regulatory discard,'' and such an EFP would be in furtherance of 
those purposes.
    NMFS specifically invites comment on potential terms and conditions 
if such an EFP were to be issued, including the following:
     The appropriate level of observer coverage for permitted 
trips. Currently, NMFS places observers on purse seine vessels via the 
Northeast Fishery Observer Program consistent with the HMS regulations 
and Recommendation 10-10 of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Recommendation by ICCAT to Establish 
Minimum Standards for Fishing Vessel Observer Programs) that there be a 
minimum of 5 percent observer coverage of purse seine fishing effort 
(as measured in number of sets or trips), among other things.
     The appropriate number of trips or tonnage that should be 
authorized. Under the BFT regulations, individual Purse Seine category 
permitted vessels' BFT quotas may be combined and transferred for use 
by one vessel, the 2014 codified purse seine category quota of 171.8 mt 
would be the upper limit on potential retention under this EFP. All BFT 
catch, including dead discards and landings, would count toward this 
quota.
     The appropriate timing of such trips. Currently, the Purse 
Seine category opens July 15 of each year and closes December 31.
     All BFT would be available for measurement and biological 
sampling or other specified research activity as appropriate.

Analysis of Impacts to BFT

    NMFS largely considers the effects of this EFP, if issued, to have 
been analyzed in previous analyses that considered the overall U.S. 
quota and subquotas as set out in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
subsequent environmental analyses for the annual BFT specifications 
process.
    Exemption from the limit on large medium BFT would provide harvest 
flexibility within the existing individual purse seine vessel quota(s). 
The exemption would affect the size of BFT that could be retained and 
landed, but NMFS does not expect that it would significantly alter 
fishing practices, given the short duration of the fishing activity, 
the limited number of vessels fishing, and other limits that would be 
placed on the EFP. The maximum amount of BFT that could be harvested 
would remain constrained at its upper limit to 171.8 mt, the total for 
the category, which could be authorized for one vessel if all 
individual vessel quotas were appropriately combined. NMFS does not 
anticipate authorizing the full category quota for harvest under this 
EFP but notes the maximum possible retention for the purposes of 
assessing potential impacts. For this quota level, the effects were 
analyzed within existing environmental assessment documents. Thus, 
activities under this EFP would not affect the total amount of BFT 
allowed to be harvested, limited by the ICCAT-recommended U.S. quota 
(which has been established consistent with ICCAT's western Atlantic 
BFT rebuilding program) and by the associated Purse Seine category 
subquota. Issuance of this EFP would not be expected to affect BFT 
stock health or rebuilding in ways not previously analyzed for the 
existing quotas and specifications. Nor would NMFS expect the size 
selectivity of the western Atlantic BFT fishery to change. Existing BFT 
management measures, including the ICCAT rebuilding program, are based 
on total allowable catch (in weight) and assume that the pattern of 
fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age, also known as size 
selectivity of the fishery) will not change dramatically. As long as 
the U.S. quota is not exceeded and there is no significant change in 
fishery selectivity, issuance of an EFP would not be expected to have 
effects beyond those already analyzed.
    Collection of data regarding BFT released during the permitted 
purse seine fishing activity could improve monitoring and accounting of 
BFT discards and would inform future, potential regulatory actions. All 
BFT mortalities resulting from this EFP would be counted against the 
applicant's individual Purse Seine category quota and would be within 
the overall, previously-analyzed quota for the category. Dead discards 
of all BFT less than 73 inches would be counted against the vessel's 
quota. No live BFT less than 73 inches would be lethally sampled during 
fishing operations under this EFP.
    NMFS' analysis of bycatch in the purse seine fishery has found dead 
discards to be limited to tunas (76 FR 39019, July 5, 2011). The 
applicant does not anticipate interactions with protected species or 
marine mammals.
    Final decisions on the issuance of this EFP will depend on the 
submission of all required information about the proposed activities, 
NMFS' review of public comments received on this notice, any prior 
violations of marine resource laws administered by NOAA, 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 this EFP as assessed in the 1999 FMP (64 FR 29090, May 28, 
1999), the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and 
its amendments, the 2011 final rule implementing the BFT quotas and 
Atlantic tuna fisheries management measures (76 FR 39019, July 5, 
2011), and the 2013 BFT Quota Specifications (78 FR 36685, June 19, 
2013).
    NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration. The 
agency may impose possible conditions on this EFP, if it is granted, 
based on consideration of public comments and further analyses. Reports 
on the fishing would be due at the conclusion of fishing trips, and 
summary a report 30 days from the expiration of the EFP, if issued, to 
be submitted to NMFS.
    NMFS requests comments and offers a 21-day comment period on this 
notice, consistent with EFP regulations at 600.45. The 21-day comment 
period balances the need to give the public an opportunity to comment 
with the fact that the Purse Seine category season starts July 15 and 
that further delay in any EFP issuance would reduce the time available 
to harvest the fish as permitted, and the ability for NMFS to gather 
useful information about normal operations during a typical purse seine 
season.

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

    Dated: June 25, 2014.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-15269 Filed 6-27-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P