Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas, 33467-33474 [2015-14284]

Download as PDF 33467 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules Dated: June 3, 2015. Gina McCarthy, Administrator. 2. Amend § 82.8 by revising the table in paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows: ■ PART 82—PROTECTION OF STRATOSPHERIC OZONE 1. The authority citation for part 82 continues to read as follows: ■ For the reasons set forth in the preamble, EPA proposes to amend 40 CFR part 82 as follows: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7414, 7601, 7671– 7671q. § 82.8 Grant of essential use allowances and critical use allowances. * * * (c) * * * (1) * * * * * 2016 Critical use allowances for pre-plant uses * (kilograms) Company 2016 Critical use allowances for post-harvest uses * (kilograms) Great Lakes Chemical Corp. A Chemtura Company .......................................................................... Albemarle Corp .................................................................................................................................... ICL–IP America .................................................................................................................................... TriCal, Inc ............................................................................................................................................ 84,222 34,634 19,140 596 1,179 485 268 8 Total .............................................................................................................................................. 138,592 1,939 * For production or import of Class I, Group VI controlled substance exclusively for the Pre-Plant or Post-Harvest uses specified in appendix L to this subpart. * * * * * 3. Amend subpart A by revising appendix L to read as follows: Appendix L to Subpart A of Part 82— Approved Critical Uses and Limiting Critical Conditions for Those Uses for the 2016 Control Period ■ Column A Column B Column C Approved Critical Uses ....... Approved Critical User, Location of Use ......................... Limiting Critical Conditions that exist, or that the approved critical user reasonably expects could arise without methyl bromide fumigation. PRE-PLANT USES Strawberry Fruit .................. California growers ............................................................ Moderate to severe black root rot or crown rot. Moderate to severe yellow or purple nutsedge infestation. Moderate to severe nematode infestation. Local township limits prohibiting 1,3-dichloropropene. POST-HARVEST USES Dry Cured Pork Products .... Members of the National Country Ham Association and the American Association of Meat Processors, Nahunta Pork Center (North Carolina), and Gwaltney of Smithfield Inc. Proposed rule; request for comments; notice of public hearing. ACTION: [FR Doc. 2015–14473 Filed 6–11–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P NMFS proposes to modify the baseline annual U.S. quota and subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT). NMFS also proposes minor modifications to the regulatory text regarding Atlantic tuna purse seine auxiliary vessel activity under the ‘‘transfer at sea’’ provisions. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). SUMMARY: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS [Docket No. 150121066–5497–01] RIN 0648–BE81 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 Red legged ham beetle infestation. Cheese/ham skipper infestation. Dermestid beetle infestation. Ham mite infestation. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Written comments must be received on or before July 13, 2015. NMFS will host an operator-assisted public hearing conference call and webinar on July 1, 2015, from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT, providing an opportunity for individuals from all geographic areas to participate. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0011,’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150011, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. DATES: E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 33468 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules • Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah McLaughlin, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. • Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). The public hearing conference call information is phone number 1–800– 779–5379; participant passcode 1594994. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: https:// noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/ onstage/g.php?d=990480432&t=a. Enter your name, email address, and password ‘‘webtuna’’ (without typing the quotation marks) and click the ‘‘JOIN’’ button. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plugin program that will enable them to view the webinar. Supporting documents, including the Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review, and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are available by contacting Sarah McLaughlin at the mailing address specified above. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as ‘‘Atlantic tunas’’) are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA. As an active member of ICCAT, the United States implements binding ICCAT recommendations. ATCA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. The authority to VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 issue regulations under the MagnusonStevens Act and ATCA has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS. Background Since 1982, ICCAT has recommended a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of western Atlantic BFT, and since 1991, ICCAT has recommended specific limits (quotas) for the United States and other Contracting Parties. In 2006, NMFS published a final rule in the Federal Register implementing the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP), which consolidated management of all Atlantic HMS (i.e., sharks, swordfish, tunas, and billfish) into one comprehensive FMP (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006). Among other things, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP maintained an allocation scheme, established in the 1999 Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP), for dividing the baseline annual U.S. BFT quota among several domestic quota categories. NMFS amended the BFT allocations, effective January 1, 2015, in the recently published Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014). Regulations implemented under the authority of ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 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. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota. Section 635.27 currently codifies the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota first recommended by ICCAT in 2010 and divides it among the various domestic fishing categories consistent with the process established in Amendment 7. Adjustment of the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota is necessary to implement the new quota adopted in a 2014 ICCAT recommendation for western BFT, as required by ATCA, and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including rebuilding stocks and ending overfishing. NMFS also is proposing minor modifications to regulatory text to clarify that while transfer at sea is prohibited, an auxiliary vessel (i.e., a skiff) may conduct limited assistance activities for its associated purse seine vessel in catch operations for BFT. The text modification reflects current practice but is necessary to clarify that PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ‘‘transfer at sea’’ is prohibited consistent with ICCAT Recommendation 14–05 (Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic BFT Rebuilding Program) and its intended application. This text modification is administrative, reflects current practice, and would have no environmental impacts or effects on current fishing operations. NMFS has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), which present and analyze anticipated environmental, social, and economic impacts of several alternatives for each of the major issues contained in this proposed rule. The list of alternatives and their analyses are provided in the draft EA/RIR/IRFA and are not repeated here in their entirety. A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA prepared for this proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). 2014 ICCAT Recommendation At its November 2014 meeting, ICCAT adopted a western Atlantic BFT TAC of 2,000 mt annually for 2015 and 2016 after considering the results of the 2014 BFT stock assessment and following negotiations among Contracting Parties (ICCAT Recommendation 14–05). This TAC, which is an increase from the 1,750-mt TAC that has applied annually since 2011, is consistent with scientific advice from the 2014 stock assessment, which indicated that annual catches of less than 2,250 mt would have a 50percent probability of allowing the spawning stock biomass to be at or above its 2013 level by 2019 under either recruitment scenario, and that annual catches of 2,000 mt or less would continue to allow stock growth under both the low and high recruitment scenarios for the remainder of the rebuilding program. All TAC, quota, and weight information discussed in this notice are whole weight amounts. For 2015 and 2016, the ICCAT Recommendation also makes the following allocations from the western BFT 2,000-mt TAC for bycatch related to directed longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED): 15 mt for Canada and 25 mt for the United States. Following subtraction of these allocations from the TAC, the recommendation allocates the remainder to the United States (54.02 percent), Canada (22.32 percent) Japan (17.64 percent), Mexico (5.56 percent), UK (0.23 percent), and France (0.23 percent). For the United States, 54.02 percent of the remaining 1,960 mt is E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 33469 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules 1,058.79 mt annually for 2015 and 2016. This represents an increase of approximately 135 mt (approximately 14 percent) from the U.S. baseline BFT quota that applied annually for 2011 through 2014. Thus, the annual total U.S. quota, including the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the NED, is 1,083.79 mt. As a method for limiting fishing mortality on juvenile BFT, ICCAT continued to recommend a tolerance limit on the annual harvest of BFT measuring less than 115 cm (straight fork length) to no more than 10 percent by weight of a Contracting Party’s total BFT quota over the 2015 and 2016 fishing periods. The United States implements this provision by limiting the harvest of school BFT (measuring 27 to less than 47 inches (68.5 to less than 119 cm curved fork length)) as appropriate to not exceed the 10-percent limit over the two-year period. Domestic Allocations and Quotas The 1999 FMP and its implementing regulations established baseline percentage quota shares for the domestic fishing categories. These percentage shares were based on allocation procedures that NMFS developed over several years, based on historical share, fleet size, effort, and landings by category, and stock assessment data collection needs. The baseline percentage quota shares established in the 1999 FMP were continued in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP modified the quota calculation process as follows: First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. BFT quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General—47.1 percent; Angling—19.7 percent; Harpoon—3.9 percent; Purse Seine—18.6 percent; Longline—8.1 percent (plus the 68-mt initial allocation); Trap—0.1 percent; and Reserve—2.5 percent. The table below shows the proposed quotas and subquotas that result from applying this process. These quotas would be codified at § 635.27(a) and would remain in effect until changed (for instance, if any new ICCAT western BFT TAC recommendation is adopted). Because ICCAT adopted TACs for 2015 and 2016 in Recommendation 14–05, NMFS currently anticipates that these annual base quotas would be in effect through 2016. TABLE 1—PROPOSED ANNUAL ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA (BFT) QUOTAS [In metric tons] Category Annual baseline quotas and subquotas Quota General ............................................................................... Subquotas 466.7 January–March 1 ..................................... June–August ........................................... September ............................................... October–November ................................. December ................................................ School ..................................................... Reserve ............................................ North of 39°18′ N. lat ....................... South of 39°18′ N. lat ...................... Large School/Small Medium ................... North of 39°18′ N. lat ....................... South of 39°18′ N. lat ...................... Trophy ..................................................... North of 39°18′ N. lat ....................... South of 39°18′ N. lat ...................... Gulf of Mexico .................................. Harpoon .............................................................................. Longline .............................................................................. Trap .................................................................................... Purse Seine ........................................................................ Angling ............................................................................... 24.7 233.3 123.7 60.7 24.3 108.4 38.6 148.3 1.0 2 184.3 195.2 20.1 41.7 46.6 82.3 38.9 43.5 4.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 2 24.8 Reserve .............................................................................. U.S. Baseline BFT Quota .................................................. 3 1,058.9 Total U.S. Quota, including 25 mt for NED (Longline) 3 1,083.9 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached or projected to be reached, or through March 31, whichever comes first. 2 Baseline amount shown. Does not reflect the annual adjustment process (for the Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas) adopted in Amendment 7, discussed below. 3 Totals subject to rounding error. Also as a result of the Amendment 7 process and consistent with the regulations, NMFS at the beginning of the year calculated the quota available to individual Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category fishery participants for 2015 based on BFT catch (landings and dead discards) by those fishery VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 participants in 2014 and then reallocated the remaining 87.4 mt of available Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category for the 2015 fishing year. This process resulted in revised Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas of 71.7 mt and 108.8 mt, respectively (80 FR 7547, February 11, 2015). If PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 NMFS finalizes the U.S. baseline BFT quota as proposed here, NMFS will again calculate the amounts of quota available to individual Purse Seine fishery participants for 2015 applying the baseline Purse Seine category quota as finalized (and adjust the Reserve category quota as appropriate). Based on E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 33470 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules modifications to this regulatory text to clarify that this text was not meant to allow ‘‘transfer at sea,’’ which clearly is prohibited by ICCAT Recommendation 14–05, but only to allow the routine, limited operations of an auxiliary vessel (i.e., a skiff) that is assisting its associated purse seine vessel in catch operations for BFT. Such activities are not the type of activity meant to be prohibited by that Recommendation. This clarification would be administrative, reflect current practice, and would have no environmental impacts or effects on current fishing operations. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS the proposed U.S. baseline BFT quota, the Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas would be further adjusted to 82.9 mt (an 11.2-mt increase) and 126.2 mt (a 17.4-mt decrease), respectively. Consistent with § 635.27(a)(4)(v)(C), NMFS would notify Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine fishery participants of the adjusted amount of quota available for their use in 2015 through the Individual Bluefin Quota electronic system established under § 635.15 and in writing and will publish notice of the adjusted Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas for 2015 in the Federal Register notice announcing the final rule. Amendment 7 also changed the way that NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual quota for any previous year’s underharvest. Rather than publishing proposed and final quota specifications annually to adjust the quota for the underharvest as NMFS has in the past, NMFS will automatically augment the Reserve category quota to the extent that underharvest from the previous year is available. Such adjustment will be consistent with ICCAT limits and will be calculated when complete BFT catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota pursuant to regulatory determination criteria described at 50 CFR 635.27(a)(8), or for scientific research. Although preliminary 2014 landings and dead discard estimates indicate an underharvest of approximately 218 mt (using the 160.6-mt 2013 dead discard estimate as a proxy), the amount the United States may carry forward to 2015 is limited to 94.9 mt by ICCAT recommendation. The final 2013 estimate and a preliminary 2014 estimate will be available in June 2015, and NMFS will announce any adjustment to the 2015 Reserve category quota based on the amount of 2014 underharvest. Public Hearing Conference Call NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on July 1, 2015, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, to allow for an additional opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed quota rule. The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public hearings and on conference calls to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules (all comments are to be directed to the agency on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; and attendees should not interrupt one another). The NMFS representative will attempt to structure the meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject(s). Attendees are expected to respect the ground rules, and, if they do not, they will be asked to leave the meeting. Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine Auxiliary Vessel Activity Currently, HMS regulations specify that an owner or operator of a vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permit has been issued ‘‘may transfer large medium and giant BFT at sea from the net of the catching vessel to another vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permit has been issued, provided the amount transferred does not cause the receiving vessel to exceed its currently authorized vessel allocation, including incidental catch limits.’’ NMFS is proposing minor Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 Request for Comments NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through July 13, 2015. See instructions in ADDRESSES section. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the purpose of this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP objectives, the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, to analyze the impacts of the alternatives for implementing and allocating the ICCAT-recommended U.S. quota for 2015 and 2016; and to clarify the purse seine transfer at sea regulations for Atlantic tunas. In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the objective of this proposed rulemaking is to implement ICCAT recommendations. Section 603(b)(3) requires agencies to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. This proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas permit or Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit. In general, the HMS Charter/Headboat category permit holders can be regarded as small entities for RFA purposes. HMS Angling (recreational) category permit holders are typically obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities for purposes of the RFA. The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States including fish harvesters (79 FR 33647; June 12, 2014). A business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a ‘‘small business’’ if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts (revenue) not in excess of $20.5 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing). NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, a standard system used by business and government to classify business establishments into industries, according to their economic activity. The United States government developed NAICS to collect, analyze, and publish data about the economy. In addition, the SBA has defined a small charter/party boat entity (NAICS code 487210, for-hire) as one with average annual receipts (revenue) of less than $7.5 million. E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules As described in the recently published final rule to implement Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), the average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline vessel was estimated to be $187,000 based on the 170 active vessels between 2006 and 2012 that produced an estimated $31.8 million in revenue annually. The maximum annual revenue for any pelagic longline vessel during that time period was less than $1.4 million, well below the SBA size threshold of $20.5 million in combined annual receipts. Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit holders to be small entities. NMFS is unaware of any other Atlantic Tunas category permit holders that potentially could earn more than $20.5 million in revenue annually. NMFS is also unaware of any charter/headboat businesses that could exceed the $7.5 million thresholds for those small entities. HMS Angling category permit holders are typically obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities for purposes of the RFA. Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas permit holders and HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders subject to this action to be small entities. This action would apply to all participants in the Atlantic BFT fishery, i.e., to the over 27,000 vessels that held an Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat, Atlantic HMS Angling, or an Atlantic Tunas permit as of October 2014. This proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas permit or Atlantic HMS Charter/ Headboat permit. It is unknown what portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in the BFT fishery or fishing services for recreational anglers. As summarized in the 2014 SAFE Report for Atlantic HMS, there were 6,792 commercial Atlantic tunas or Atlantic HMS permits in 2014, as follows: 2,782 in the Atlantic Tunas General category; 14 in the Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category; 5 in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category; 246 in the Atlantic Tunas Longline category; 3 in the Atlantic Tunas Trap category; and 3,742 in the HMS Charter/ Headboat category. In the process of developing the IBQ regulations implemented in the Amendment 7 final rule, NMFS deemed 135 Longline category vessels as eligible for IBQ shares (i.e., 135 vessels reported a set in the HMS logbook between 2006 and 2012 and had valid Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits on a vessel as of August 21, 2013, the publication date of the Amendment 7 proposed rule). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 This constitutes the best available information regarding the universe of permits and permit holders recently analyzed. No impacts are expected to occur from the clarification of the transfer at sea prohibition regulatory text. NMFS has determined that this action would not likely directly affect any small government jurisdictions defined under the RFA. Under section 603(b)(4) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies are required to describe any new reporting, record-keeping, and other compliance requirements. There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements in any of the alternatives considered for this action. Under section 603(b)(5) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies must identify, to the extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements, domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the ATCA, the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. This proposed rule has also been determined not to duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any relevant regulations, Federal or otherwise. Under section 603(c) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies are required to describe any alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives and which minimize any significant economic impacts. These alternatives and their impacts are discussed below. Additionally, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 603 (c) (1)–(4)) lists four general categories of significant alternatives that would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. These categories of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from coverage of the rule for small entities. In order to meet the objectives of this proposed rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and the ESA, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 33471 requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected are considered small entities. Thus, no alternatives are discussed that fall under the first and fourth categories described above. Amendment 7 implemented criteria for determining the availability of quota for Purse Seine fishery category participants and IBQs for the Longline category. Both of these and the eligibility criteria for IBQs and access to the Cape Hatteras GRA for the Longline category can be considered individual performance standards. NMFS has not yet found a practical means of applying individual performance standards to the other quota categories while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Thus, there are no alternatives considered under the third category. NMFS has estimated the average impact that establishing the increased baseline annual U.S. BFT quota for all domestic fishing categories would have on each quota category and the vessels within those categories. As mentioned above, the 2014 ICCAT recommendation increased the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for each of 2015 and 2016 to 1,058.79 mt and provides 25 mt annually for incidental catch of BFT related to directed longline fisheries in the NED. The baseline annual subquotas would be adjusted consistent with the process established in Amendment 7 (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and these amounts would be codified. To calculate the average ex-vessel revenues under the proposed action, NMFS first estimated potential categorywide revenues. The most recent exvessel average price per pound information for each commercial quota category is used to estimate potential exvessel gross revenues under the proposed subquotas (i.e., 2014 prices for the General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Longline/Trap categories). For comparison, in 2014, gross revenues were approximately $7.8 million, broken out by category as follows: General—$5.9 million, Harpoon— $544,778, Purse Seine—$391,607, Longline—$953,055, and Trap—$0. The proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross revenues of $11 million, if finalized and fully utilized, broken out by category as follows: General category: $6.8 million (466.7 mt * $6.60/lb); Harpoon category: $611,851 (38.6 mt * $7.19/lb); Purse Seine category: $1.9 million (184.3 mt * $ 4.77/lb); Longline category: $1.7 million (148.3 mt * $5.22/lb); and Trap category: $11,508 (1.0 mt * $ 5.22/lb). This rulemaking proposes to implement the recently adopted ICCAT-recommended U.S. quota and applies the allocations E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 33472 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules for each quota category as recently amended in the implementing regulations for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. This action would be consistent with ATCA, under which the Secretary promulgates regulations as necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. No affected entities would be expected to experience negative, direct economic impacts as a result of this action. On the contrary, each of the quota categories would increase relative to the baseline quotas that applied in 2011 through 2014 and the quotas finalized in Amendment 7. To the extent that Purse Seine fishery participants and IBQ participants could receive additional quota as a result of Amendment 7-implemented allocation formulas being applied to increases in available Purse Seine and Longline category quota, those participants would receive varying increases, which would result in direct benefits from either increased fishing opportunities or quota leasing. To estimate potential average exvessel revenues that could result from this action, NMFS divides the potential annual gross revenues for the General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Trap category by the number of permit holders. For the Longline category, NMFS divides the potential annual gross revenues by the number of active vessels as defined in Amendment 7. This is an appropriate approach for BFT fisheries, in particular because available landings data (weight and ex-vessel value of the fish in price-per-pound) allow NMFS to calculate the gross revenue earned by a fishery participant on a successful trip. The available data (particularly from non-Longline participants) do not, however, allow NMFS to calculate the effort and cost associated with each successful trip (e.g., the cost of gas, bait, ice, etc.), so net revenue for each participant cannot be calculated. As a result, NMFS analyzes the average impact of the proposed alternatives among all participants in each category. Success rates vary widely across participants in each category (due to extent of vessel effort and availability of commercial-sized BFT to participants where they fish) but for the sake of estimating potential revenues per vessel, category-wide revenues can be divided by the number of permitted vessels in each category. For the Longline fishery, the number of vessels deemed eligible for IBQ shares is used, and actual revenues would depend, in part, on each vessel’s IBQ in 2015. Although HMS Charter/Headboat vessels may fish commercially under the General VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 category quota and retention limits, because it is unknown what portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in the BFT fishery, NMFS is estimating potential General category ex-vessel revenue changes using the number of General category vessels only. Estimated potential 2015 revenues on a per vessel basis, considering the number of permit holders listed above and the proposed subquotas, could be $2,441 for the General category; $43,703 for the Harpoon category; $387,618 for the Purse Seine category; $12,642 for the Longline category, using the 135 vessels eligible for IBQ shares; and $3,836 for the Trap category. Thus, all of the entities affected by this rule are considered to be small entities for the purposes of the RFA. Consistent with Amendment 7 regulations, NMFS calculated the quota available to Purse Seine fishery participants for 2015 and then reallocated the remaining 87.4 mt of available Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category (80 FR 7547, February 11, 2015). NMFS will further adjust those amounts if the U.S. baseline BFT quota in this proposed rule is finalized. The analyses in this IRFA are limited to the proposed baseline subquotas. Because the directed commercial categories have underharvested their subquotas in recent years, the potential increases in ex-vessel revenues above may overestimate the probable economic impacts to those categories relative to recent conditions. Additionally, there has been substantial interannual variability in ex-vessel revenues per category in recent years due to recent changes in BFT availability and other factors. The proposed modifications to the regulatory text concerning Atlantic tunas purse seine transfer at sea are intended to clarify the prohibition on transfer at sea. They apply to the five Purse Seine fishery participants only and are not expected to have significant economic impacts as they are administrative in nature, reflect current practice, and would not result in changes to Atlantic tunas purse seine operations. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635 Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Dated: June 8, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 635—ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 635.27, paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1)(i), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4)(i), (a)(5), (a)(6), (a)(7)(i), and (a)(7)(ii) are revised to read as follows: ■ § 635.27 Quotas. (a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,058.79 mt, not including an additional annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General—47.1 percent (466.7 mt); Angling—19.7 percent (195.2 mt), which includes the school bluefin tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section; Harpoon—3.9 percent (38.6 mt); Purse Seine—18.6 percent (184.3 mt); Longline—8.1 percent (80.3 mt) plus the 68-mt allocation (i.e., 148.3 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph (a)(3)); Trap—0.1 percent (1.0 mt); and Reserve—2.5 percent (24.8 mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules Purse Seine quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. (1) * * * (i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an HMS Charter/ Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the General category quota in accordance with § 635.23(c)(3). Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold under the General category quota is 466.7 mt, and is apportioned as follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section: (A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected to be reached under § 635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever comes first—5.3 percent (24.7 mt); (B) June 1 through August 31—50 percent (233.3 mt); (C) September 1 through September 30—26.5 percent (123.7 mt); (D) October 1 through November 30— 13 percent (60.7 mt); and (E) December 1 through December 31—5.2 percent (24.3 mt). * * * * * (2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 195.2 mt. No more than 2.3 percent (4.5 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, over each two-consecutive-year period (starting with 2015–2016), no more than 10 percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school bluefin tuna (i.e., 108.4 mt). The Angling category quota includes the amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna are further subdivided as follows: (i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent (46.6 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (41.7 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat. (ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (43.5 mt) of the large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota (38.9 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat. (iii) One third (1.5 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed, in each of the three following geographic areas: (1) North of 39°18′ N. lat.; (2) south of 39°18′ N. lat., and outside of the Gulf of Mexico; and (3) in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c). (3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 148.3 mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under § 635.15(b)(8). (4) * * * (i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 184.3 mt, unless adjusted as a result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted (prior to allocation to individual participants) based on the previous year’s catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS will start the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 33473 and August 15, by filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, and notifying the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on December 31 of each year. * * * * * (5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category Atlantic Tunas permits is 38.6 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, and closes on November 15 of each year. (6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.0 mt. (7) * * * (i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 24.8 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota. (ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fisheryindependent research is 18.5 percent (20.1 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this section. This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments to the Angling category. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 635.29, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows: § 635.29 Transfer at sea and transshipment. * * * * * (c) An owner or operator of a vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permit has been issued under § 635.4 may use an auxiliary vessel associated with the permitted vessel (i.e., a skiff) to assist in routine purse seine fishery operations, provided that the vessel has not been issued an Atlantic Tunas or HMS vessel permit and functions only in an auxiliary E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1 33474 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 113 / Friday, June 12, 2015 / Proposed Rules srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS capacity during routine purse seine operations. The auxiliary vessel may transfer large medium and giant Atlantic BFT to its associated purse seine vessel VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:51 Jun 11, 2015 Jkt 235001 during routine purse seine operations, provided that the amount transferred does not cause the receiving vessel to exceed its currently authorized vessel PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 allocation, including incidental catch limits. [FR Doc. 2015–14284 Filed 6–11–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\12JNP1.SGM 12JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 113 (Friday, June 12, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33467-33474]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-14284]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150121066-5497-01]
RIN 0648-BE81


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments; notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to modify the baseline annual U.S. quota and 
subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT). NMFS also proposes minor 
modifications to the regulatory text regarding Atlantic tuna purse 
seine auxiliary vessel activity under the ``transfer at sea'' 
provisions. This action is necessary to implement binding 
recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of 
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention 
Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before July 13, 2015. 
NMFS will host an operator-assisted public hearing conference call and 
webinar on July 1, 2015, from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT, providing an opportunity 
for individuals from all geographic areas to participate. See 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0011,'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0011, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.

[[Page 33468]]

     Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah McLaughlin, Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
     Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any 
other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment 
period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part 
of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    The public hearing conference call information is phone number 1-
800-779-5379; participant passcode 1594994. Participants are strongly 
encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will 
show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To 
join the webinar, go to: https://noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/onstage/g.php?d=990480432&t=a. Enter your name, email address, and 
password ``webtuna'' (without typing the quotation marks) and click the 
``JOIN'' button. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be 
prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to 
view the webinar.
    Supporting documents, including the Environmental Assessment, 
Regulatory Impact Review, and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, 
may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. 
These documents also are available by contacting Sarah McLaughlin at 
the mailing address specified above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978-
281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore 
tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as 
``Atlantic tunas'') are managed under the dual authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA. As an active member of ICCAT, the United 
States implements binding ICCAT recommendations. ATCA authorizes the 
Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be 
necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. The 
authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA 
has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator 
for Fisheries, NMFS.

Background

    Since 1982, ICCAT has recommended a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 
western Atlantic BFT, and since 1991, ICCAT has recommended specific 
limits (quotas) for the United States and other Contracting Parties.
    In 2006, NMFS published a final rule in the Federal Register 
implementing the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP), which consolidated 
management of all Atlantic HMS (i.e., sharks, swordfish, tunas, and 
billfish) into one comprehensive FMP (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006). 
Among other things, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP maintained an 
allocation scheme, established in the 1999 Fishery Management Plan for 
Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP), for dividing the 
baseline annual U.S. BFT quota among several domestic quota categories. 
NMFS amended the BFT allocations, effective January 1, 2015, in the 
recently published Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
(Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014).
    Regulations implemented under the authority of ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 
et seq.) and the 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. NMFS is required under ATCA 
and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a 
reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota. Section 
635.27 currently codifies the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota first 
recommended by ICCAT in 2010 and divides it among the various domestic 
fishing categories consistent with the process established in Amendment 
7. Adjustment of the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota is necessary to 
implement the new quota adopted in a 2014 ICCAT recommendation for 
western BFT, as required by ATCA, and to achieve domestic management 
objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including rebuilding stocks 
and ending overfishing. NMFS also is proposing minor modifications to 
regulatory text to clarify that while transfer at sea is prohibited, an 
auxiliary vessel (i.e., a skiff) may conduct limited assistance 
activities for its associated purse seine vessel in catch operations 
for BFT. The text modification reflects current practice but is 
necessary to clarify that ``transfer at sea'' is prohibited consistent 
with ICCAT Recommendation 14-05 (Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the 
Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic 
BFT Rebuilding Program) and its intended application. This text 
modification is administrative, reflects current practice, and would 
have no environmental impacts or effects on current fishing operations.
    NMFS has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA), which present and analyze anticipated environmental, social, 
and economic impacts of several alternatives for each of the major 
issues contained in this proposed rule. The list of alternatives and 
their analyses are provided in the draft EA/RIR/IRFA and are not 
repeated here in their entirety. A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA 
prepared for this proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

2014 ICCAT Recommendation

    At its November 2014 meeting, ICCAT adopted a western Atlantic BFT 
TAC of 2,000 mt annually for 2015 and 2016 after considering the 
results of the 2014 BFT stock assessment and following negotiations 
among Contracting Parties (ICCAT Recommendation 14-05). This TAC, which 
is an increase from the 1,750-mt TAC that has applied annually since 
2011, is consistent with scientific advice from the 2014 stock 
assessment, which indicated that annual catches of less than 2,250 mt 
would have a 50-percent probability of allowing the spawning stock 
biomass to be at or above its 2013 level by 2019 under either 
recruitment scenario, and that annual catches of 2,000 mt or less would 
continue to allow stock growth under both the low and high recruitment 
scenarios for the remainder of the rebuilding program. All TAC, quota, 
and weight information discussed in this notice are whole weight 
amounts.
    For 2015 and 2016, the ICCAT Recommendation also makes the 
following allocations from the western BFT 2,000-mt TAC for bycatch 
related to directed longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear 
restricted area (NED): 15 mt for Canada and 25 mt for the United 
States. Following subtraction of these allocations from the TAC, the 
recommendation allocates the remainder to the United States (54.02 
percent), Canada (22.32 percent) Japan (17.64 percent), Mexico (5.56 
percent), UK (0.23 percent), and France (0.23 percent). For the United 
States, 54.02 percent of the remaining 1,960 mt is

[[Page 33469]]

1,058.79 mt annually for 2015 and 2016. This represents an increase of 
approximately 135 mt (approximately 14 percent) from the U.S. baseline 
BFT quota that applied annually for 2011 through 2014. Thus, the annual 
total U.S. quota, including the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to 
pelagic longline fisheries in the NED, is 1,083.79 mt.
    As a method for limiting fishing mortality on juvenile BFT, ICCAT 
continued to recommend a tolerance limit on the annual harvest of BFT 
measuring less than 115 cm (straight fork length) to no more than 10 
percent by weight of a Contracting Party's total BFT quota over the 
2015 and 2016 fishing periods. The United States implements this 
provision by limiting the harvest of school BFT (measuring 27 to less 
than 47 inches (68.5 to less than 119 cm curved fork length)) as 
appropriate to not exceed the 10-percent limit over the two-year 
period.

Domestic Allocations and Quotas

    The 1999 FMP and its implementing regulations established baseline 
percentage quota shares for the domestic fishing categories. These 
percentage shares were based on allocation procedures that NMFS 
developed over several years, based on historical share, fleet size, 
effort, and landings by category, and stock assessment data collection 
needs. The baseline percentage quota shares established in the 1999 FMP 
were continued in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Amendment 7 to the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP modified the quota calculation process as 
follows: First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. BFT 
quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the 
remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the 
following percentages: General--47.1 percent; Angling--19.7 percent; 
Harpoon--3.9 percent; Purse Seine--18.6 percent; Longline--8.1 percent 
(plus the 68-mt initial allocation); Trap--0.1 percent; and Reserve--
2.5 percent.
    The table below shows the proposed quotas and subquotas that result 
from applying this process. These quotas would be codified at Sec.  
635.27(a) and would remain in effect until changed (for instance, if 
any new ICCAT western BFT TAC recommendation is adopted). Because ICCAT 
adopted TACs for 2015 and 2016 in Recommendation 14-05, NMFS currently 
anticipates that these annual base quotas would be in effect through 
2016.

                           Table 1--Proposed Annual Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT) Quotas
                                                [In metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Category                                                    Annual baseline quotas and subquotas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Quota                         Subquotas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
General...................................        466.7
                                                         January-March \1\............         24.7
                                                         June-August..................        233.3
                                                         September....................        123.7
                                                         October-November.............         60.7
                                                         December.....................         24.3
Harpoon...................................         38.6
Longline..................................        148.3
Trap......................................          1.0
Purse Seine...............................    \2\ 184.3
Angling...................................        195.2
                                                         School.......................        108.4
                                                            Reserve...................                      20.1
                                                            North of 39[deg]18' N. lat                      41.7
                                                            South of 39[deg]18' N. lat                      46.6
                                                         Large School/Small Medium....         82.3
                                                            North of 39[deg]18' N. lat                      38.9
                                                            South of 39[deg]18' N. lat                      43.5
                                                         Trophy.......................          4.5
                                                            North of 39[deg]18' N. lat                       1.5
                                                            South of 39[deg]18' N. lat                       1.5
                                                            Gulf of Mexico............                       1.5
Reserve...................................     \2\ 24.8
U.S. Baseline BFT Quota...................  \3\ 1,058.9
                                           -------------
    Total U.S. Quota, including 25 mt for   \3\ 1,083.9
     NED (Longline).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota
  is reached or projected to be reached, or through March 31, whichever comes first.
\2\ Baseline amount shown. Does not reflect the annual adjustment process (for the Purse Seine and Reserve
  category quotas) adopted in Amendment 7, discussed below.
\3\ Totals subject to rounding error.

    Also as a result of the Amendment 7 process and consistent with the 
regulations, NMFS at the beginning of the year calculated the quota 
available to individual Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category fishery 
participants for 2015 based on BFT catch (landings and dead discards) 
by those fishery participants in 2014 and then reallocated the 
remaining 87.4 mt of available Purse Seine category quota to the 
Reserve category for the 2015 fishing year. This process resulted in 
revised Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas of 71.7 mt and 108.8 
mt, respectively (80 FR 7547, February 11, 2015). If NMFS finalizes the 
U.S. baseline BFT quota as proposed here, NMFS will again calculate the 
amounts of quota available to individual Purse Seine fishery 
participants for 2015 applying the baseline Purse Seine category quota 
as finalized (and adjust the Reserve category quota as appropriate). 
Based on

[[Page 33470]]

the proposed U.S. baseline BFT quota, the Purse Seine and Reserve 
category quotas would be further adjusted to 82.9 mt (an 11.2-mt 
increase) and 126.2 mt (a 17.4-mt decrease), respectively. Consistent 
with Sec.  635.27(a)(4)(v)(C), NMFS would notify Atlantic Tunas Purse 
Seine fishery participants of the adjusted amount of quota available 
for their use in 2015 through the Individual Bluefin Quota electronic 
system established under Sec.  635.15 and in writing and will publish 
notice of the adjusted Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas for 2015 
in the Federal Register notice announcing the final rule.
    Amendment 7 also changed the way that NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual 
quota for any previous year's underharvest. Rather than publishing 
proposed and final quota specifications annually to adjust the quota 
for the underharvest as NMFS has in the past, NMFS will automatically 
augment the Reserve category quota to the extent that underharvest from 
the previous year is available. Such adjustment will be consistent with 
ICCAT limits and will be calculated when complete BFT catch information 
for the prior year is available and finalized. NMFS may allocate any 
portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual 
adjustments to any fishing category quota pursuant to regulatory 
determination criteria described at 50 CFR 635.27(a)(8), or for 
scientific research.
    Although preliminary 2014 landings and dead discard estimates 
indicate an underharvest of approximately 218 mt (using the 160.6-mt 
2013 dead discard estimate as a proxy), the amount the United States 
may carry forward to 2015 is limited to 94.9 mt by ICCAT 
recommendation. The final 2013 estimate and a preliminary 2014 estimate 
will be available in June 2015, and NMFS will announce any adjustment 
to the 2015 Reserve category quota based on the amount of 2014 
underharvest.

Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine Auxiliary Vessel Activity

    Currently, HMS regulations specify that an owner or operator of a 
vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permit has been 
issued ``may transfer large medium and giant BFT at sea from the net of 
the catching vessel to another vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse 
Seine category permit has been issued, provided the amount transferred 
does not cause the receiving vessel to exceed its currently authorized 
vessel allocation, including incidental catch limits.'' NMFS is 
proposing minor modifications to this regulatory text to clarify that 
this text was not meant to allow ``transfer at sea,'' which clearly is 
prohibited by ICCAT Recommendation 14-05, but only to allow the 
routine, limited operations of an auxiliary vessel (i.e., a skiff) that 
is assisting its associated purse seine vessel in catch operations for 
BFT. Such activities are not the type of activity meant to be 
prohibited by that Recommendation. This clarification would be 
administrative, reflect current practice, and would have no 
environmental impacts or effects on current fishing operations.

Request for Comments

    NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through July 13, 2015. 
See instructions in ADDRESSES section.

Public Hearing Conference Call

    NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on July 
1, 2015, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, to allow for an additional 
opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic 
areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed quota rule.
    The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public 
hearings and on conference calls to conduct themselves appropriately. 
At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will 
explain the ground rules (all comments are to be directed to the agency 
on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments 
in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have 
an equal amount of time to speak; and attendees should not interrupt 
one another). The NMFS representative will attempt to structure the 
meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to 
comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of 
the subject(s). Attendees are expected to respect the ground rules, 
and, if they do not, they will be asked to leave the meeting.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed 
rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed 
rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the 
action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action 
are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A summary of the 
analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, the purpose of this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law, to analyze the impacts of the alternatives for 
implementing and allocating the ICCAT-recommended U.S. quota for 2015 
and 2016; and to clarify the purse seine transfer at sea regulations 
for Atlantic tunas.
    In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, the objective of this proposed rulemaking is to implement ICCAT 
recommendations.
    Section 603(b)(3) requires agencies to provide an estimate of the 
number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small 
Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all 
major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. 
This proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial and for-
hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas permit or Atlantic 
HMS Charter/Headboat permit. In general, the HMS Charter/Headboat 
category permit holders can be regarded as small entities for RFA 
purposes. HMS Angling (recreational) category permit holders are 
typically obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities 
for purposes of the RFA. The SBA has established size criteria for all 
major industry sectors in the United States including fish harvesters 
(79 FR 33647; June 12, 2014). A business involved in fish harvesting is 
classified as a ``small business'' if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual receipts (revenue) not in excess 
of $20.5 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide (NAICS 
code 114111, finfish fishing). NAICS is the North American Industry 
Classification System, a standard system used by business and 
government to classify business establishments into industries, 
according to their economic activity. The United States government 
developed NAICS to collect, analyze, and publish data about the 
economy. In addition, the SBA has defined a small charter/party boat 
entity (NAICS code 487210, for-hire) as one with average annual 
receipts (revenue) of less than $7.5 million.

[[Page 33471]]

    As described in the recently published final rule to implement 
Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (79 FR 71510, December 2, 
2014), the average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline 
vessel was estimated to be $187,000 based on the 170 active vessels 
between 2006 and 2012 that produced an estimated $31.8 million in 
revenue annually. The maximum annual revenue for any pelagic longline 
vessel during that time period was less than $1.4 million, well below 
the SBA size threshold of $20.5 million in combined annual receipts. 
Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit 
holders to be small entities. NMFS is unaware of any other Atlantic 
Tunas category permit holders that potentially could earn more than 
$20.5 million in revenue annually. NMFS is also unaware of any charter/
headboat businesses that could exceed the $7.5 million thresholds for 
those small entities. HMS Angling category permit holders are typically 
obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities for 
purposes of the RFA. Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas 
permit holders and HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders subject to this 
action to be small entities.
    This action would apply to all participants in the Atlantic BFT 
fishery, i.e., to the over 27,000 vessels that held an Atlantic HMS 
Charter/Headboat, Atlantic HMS Angling, or an Atlantic Tunas permit as 
of October 2014. This proposed rule is expected to directly affect 
commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas 
permit or Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit. It is unknown what 
portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in 
the BFT fishery or fishing services for recreational anglers. As 
summarized in the 2014 SAFE Report for Atlantic HMS, there were 6,792 
commercial Atlantic tunas or Atlantic HMS permits in 2014, as follows: 
2,782 in the Atlantic Tunas General category; 14 in the Atlantic Tunas 
Harpoon category; 5 in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category; 246 in 
the Atlantic Tunas Longline category; 3 in the Atlantic Tunas Trap 
category; and 3,742 in the HMS Charter/Headboat category. In the 
process of developing the IBQ regulations implemented in the Amendment 
7 final rule, NMFS deemed 135 Longline category vessels as eligible for 
IBQ shares (i.e., 135 vessels reported a set in the HMS logbook between 
2006 and 2012 and had valid Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits on 
a vessel as of August 21, 2013, the publication date of the Amendment 7 
proposed rule). This constitutes the best available information 
regarding the universe of permits and permit holders recently analyzed. 
No impacts are expected to occur from the clarification of the transfer 
at sea prohibition regulatory text.
    NMFS has determined that this action would not likely directly 
affect any small government jurisdictions defined under the RFA.
    Under section 603(b)(4) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies 
are required to describe any new reporting, record-keeping, and other 
compliance requirements. There are no new reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements in any of the alternatives considered for this action.
    Under section 603(b)(5) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies 
must identify, to the extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which 
duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, 
dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of 
international agreements, domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include, 
but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the ATCA, the High 
Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act, 
the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. This 
proposed rule has also been determined not to duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with any relevant regulations, Federal or otherwise.
    Under section 603(c) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies 
are required to describe any alternatives to the proposed rule which 
accomplish the stated objectives and which minimize any significant 
economic impacts. These alternatives and their impacts are discussed 
below. Additionally, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 603 (c) 
(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of significant alternatives that 
would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. 
These categories of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, 
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting 
requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of 
performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from 
coverage of the rule for small entities.
    In order to meet the objectives of this proposed rule, consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and the ESA, NMFS cannot exempt 
small entities or change the reporting requirements only for small 
entities because all the entities affected are considered small 
entities. Thus, no alternatives are discussed that fall under the first 
and fourth categories described above. Amendment 7 implemented criteria 
for determining the availability of quota for Purse Seine fishery 
category participants and IBQs for the Longline category. Both of these 
and the eligibility criteria for IBQs and access to the Cape Hatteras 
GRA for the Longline category can be considered individual performance 
standards. NMFS has not yet found a practical means of applying 
individual performance standards to the other quota categories while, 
concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Thus, there are 
no alternatives considered under the third category.
    NMFS has estimated the average impact that establishing the 
increased baseline annual U.S. BFT quota for all domestic fishing 
categories would have on each quota category and the vessels within 
those categories. As mentioned above, the 2014 ICCAT recommendation 
increased the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for each of 2015 and 2016 
to 1,058.79 mt and provides 25 mt annually for incidental catch of BFT 
related to directed longline fisheries in the NED. The baseline annual 
subquotas would be adjusted consistent with the process established in 
Amendment 7 (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and these amounts would be 
codified.
    To calculate the average ex-vessel revenues under the proposed 
action, NMFS first estimated potential category-wide revenues. The most 
recent ex-vessel average price per pound information for each 
commercial quota category is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross 
revenues under the proposed subquotas (i.e., 2014 prices for the 
General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Longline/Trap categories). For 
comparison, in 2014, gross revenues were approximately $7.8 million, 
broken out by category as follows: General--$5.9 million, Harpoon--
$544,778, Purse Seine--$391,607, Longline--$953,055, and Trap--$0. The 
proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross revenues of 
$11 million, if finalized and fully utilized, broken out by category as 
follows: General category: $6.8 million (466.7 mt * $6.60/lb); Harpoon 
category: $611,851 (38.6 mt * $7.19/lb); Purse Seine category: $1.9 
million (184.3 mt * $ 4.77/lb); Longline category: $1.7 million (148.3 
mt * $5.22/lb); and Trap category: $11,508 (1.0 mt * $ 5.22/lb). This 
rulemaking proposes to implement the recently adopted ICCAT-recommended 
U.S. quota and applies the allocations

[[Page 33472]]

for each quota category as recently amended in the implementing 
regulations for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. This 
action would be consistent with ATCA, under which the Secretary 
promulgates regulations as necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT 
recommendations.
    No affected entities would be expected to experience negative, 
direct economic impacts as a result of this action. On the contrary, 
each of the quota categories would increase relative to the baseline 
quotas that applied in 2011 through 2014 and the quotas finalized in 
Amendment 7. To the extent that Purse Seine fishery participants and 
IBQ participants could receive additional quota as a result of 
Amendment 7-implemented allocation formulas being applied to increases 
in available Purse Seine and Longline category quota, those 
participants would receive varying increases, which would result in 
direct benefits from either increased fishing opportunities or quota 
leasing.
    To estimate potential average ex-vessel revenues that could result 
from this action, NMFS divides the potential annual gross revenues for 
the General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Trap category by the number of 
permit holders. For the Longline category, NMFS divides the potential 
annual gross revenues by the number of active vessels as defined in 
Amendment 7. This is an appropriate approach for BFT fisheries, in 
particular because available landings data (weight and ex-vessel value 
of the fish in price-per-pound) allow NMFS to calculate the gross 
revenue earned by a fishery participant on a successful trip. The 
available data (particularly from non-Longline participants) do not, 
however, allow NMFS to calculate the effort and cost associated with 
each successful trip (e.g., the cost of gas, bait, ice, etc.), so net 
revenue for each participant cannot be calculated. As a result, NMFS 
analyzes the average impact of the proposed alternatives among all 
participants in each category.
    Success rates vary widely across participants in each category (due 
to extent of vessel effort and availability of commercial-sized BFT to 
participants where they fish) but for the sake of estimating potential 
revenues per vessel, category-wide revenues can be divided by the 
number of permitted vessels in each category. For the Longline fishery, 
the number of vessels deemed eligible for IBQ shares is used, and 
actual revenues would depend, in part, on each vessel's IBQ in 2015. 
Although HMS Charter/Headboat vessels may fish commercially under the 
General category quota and retention limits, because it is unknown what 
portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in 
the BFT fishery, NMFS is estimating potential General category ex-
vessel revenue changes using the number of General category vessels 
only.
    Estimated potential 2015 revenues on a per vessel basis, 
considering the number of permit holders listed above and the proposed 
subquotas, could be $2,441 for the General category; $43,703 for the 
Harpoon category; $387,618 for the Purse Seine category; $12,642 for 
the Longline category, using the 135 vessels eligible for IBQ shares; 
and $3,836 for the Trap category. Thus, all of the entities affected by 
this rule are considered to be small entities for the purposes of the 
RFA.
    Consistent with Amendment 7 regulations, NMFS calculated the quota 
available to Purse Seine fishery participants for 2015 and then 
reallocated the remaining 87.4 mt of available Purse Seine category 
quota to the Reserve category (80 FR 7547, February 11, 2015). NMFS 
will further adjust those amounts if the U.S. baseline BFT quota in 
this proposed rule is finalized. The analyses in this IRFA are limited 
to the proposed baseline subquotas.
    Because the directed commercial categories have underharvested 
their subquotas in recent years, the potential increases in ex-vessel 
revenues above may overestimate the probable economic impacts to those 
categories relative to recent conditions. Additionally, there has been 
substantial interannual variability in ex-vessel revenues per category 
in recent years due to recent changes in BFT availability and other 
factors.
    The proposed modifications to the regulatory text concerning 
Atlantic tunas purse seine transfer at sea are intended to clarify the 
prohibition on transfer at sea. They apply to the five Purse Seine 
fishery participants only and are not expected to have significant 
economic impacts as they are administrative in nature, reflect current 
practice, and would not result in changes to Atlantic tunas purse seine 
operations.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, 
Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: June 8, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

0
1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  635.27, paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1)(i), 
(a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4)(i), (a)(5), (a)(6), (a)(7)(i), and (a)(7)(ii) 
are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.27  Quotas.

    (a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most 
recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the 
annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be 
retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. 
jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota 
will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, 
Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. 
Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual 
U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,058.79 mt, not including an additional 
annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. 
The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the 
following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual 
U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. 
Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according 
to the following percentages: General--47.1 percent (466.7 mt); 
Angling--19.7 percent (195.2 mt), which includes the school bluefin 
tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this 
section; Harpoon--3.9 percent (38.6 mt); Purse Seine--18.6 percent 
(184.3 mt); Longline--8.1 percent (80.3 mt) plus the 68-mt allocation 
(i.e., 148.3 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph 
(a)(3)); Trap--0.1 percent (1.0 mt); and Reserve--2.5 percent (24.8 
mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as 
specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including 
quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of

[[Page 33473]]

Purse Seine quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section.
    (1) * * *
    (i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas 
permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an 
HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the 
General category quota in accordance with Sec.  635.23(c)(3). Pursuant 
to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant 
bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold 
under the General category quota is 466.7 mt, and is apportioned as 
follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of 
this section:
    (A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed 
by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected 
to be reached under Sec.  635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever 
comes first--5.3 percent (24.7 mt);
    (B) June 1 through August 31--50 percent (233.3 mt);
    (C) September 1 through September 30--26.5 percent (123.7 mt);
    (D) October 1 through November 30--13 percent (60.7 mt); and
    (E) December 1 through December 31--5.2 percent (24.3 mt).
* * * * *
    (2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework 
procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or 
as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily 
retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the 
total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, 
and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or 
an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 195.2 mt. No more 
than 2.3 percent (4.5 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be 
large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, over each two-
consecutive-year period (starting with 2015-2016), no more than 10 
percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the 
allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school 
bluefin tuna (i.e., 108.4 mt). The Angling category quota includes the 
amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph 
(a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna 
are further subdivided as follows:
    (i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in 
reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent 
(46.6 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be 
caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39[deg]18' N. lat. The 
remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (41.7 mt) may be 
caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39[deg]18' N. lat.
    (ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (43.5 mt) of the large school/
small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, 
retained, possessed, or landed south of 39[deg]18' N. lat. The 
remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota 
(38.9 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 
39[deg]18' N. lat.
    (iii) One third (1.5 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna 
Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed, 
in each of the three following geographic areas: (1) North of 
39[deg]18' N. lat.; (2) south of 39[deg]18' N. lat., and outside of the 
Gulf of Mexico; and (3) in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this 
section, the Gulf of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ 
west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).
    (3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this 
section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that 
may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by 
vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 148.3 
mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by 
pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear 
restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under Sec.  
635.15(b)(8).
    (4) * * *
    (i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this 
section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna 
that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that 
possess Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 184.3 mt, unless 
adjusted as a result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as 
specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted 
(prior to allocation to individual participants) based on the previous 
year's catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. 
Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery 
will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or 
migration patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings 
in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear 
conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. 
NMFS will start the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 and 
August 15, by filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, 
and notifying the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on 
December 31 of each year.
* * * * *
    (5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and 
giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or 
sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category Atlantic Tunas permits is 
38.6 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, 
and closes on November 15 of each year.
    (6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant 
bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by 
vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.0 mt.
    (7) * * *
    (i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for 
inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 
24.8 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the 
previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as 
described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with 
paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any 
portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual 
adjustments to any fishing category quota.
    (ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in 
reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fishery-independent 
research is 18.5 percent (20.1 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna 
Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this 
section. This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in 
paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) 
of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin 
tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual 
adjustments to the Angling category.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  635.29, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.29  Transfer at sea and transshipment.

* * * * *
    (c) An owner or operator of a vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas 
Purse Seine category permit has been issued under Sec.  635.4 may use 
an auxiliary vessel associated with the permitted vessel (i.e., a 
skiff) to assist in routine purse seine fishery operations, provided 
that the vessel has not been issued an Atlantic Tunas or HMS vessel 
permit and functions only in an auxiliary

[[Page 33474]]

capacity during routine purse seine operations. The auxiliary vessel 
may transfer large medium and giant Atlantic BFT to its associated 
purse seine vessel during routine purse seine operations, provided that 
the amount transferred does not cause the receiving vessel to exceed 
its currently authorized vessel allocation, including incidental catch 
limits.

[FR Doc. 2015-14284 Filed 6-11-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P