Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2016 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season, 49974-49984 [2015-19915]

Download as PDF 49974 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules Federal Register entitled ‘‘Medicare and Medicaid Programs; CY 2016 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update; Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model; and Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements.’’ The comment due date for the proposed rule published in the Federal Register on July 10, 2015 (80 FR 39839) remains September 4, 2015. Dated: August 12, 2015. Madhura Valverde, Executive Secretary to the Department, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2015–20336 Filed 8–14–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4120–01–P DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Brazil, (410) 786–1648. [Docket No. 150413357–5667–01] I. Background RIN 0648–XD898 In FR Doc. 2015–16790, published in the Federal Register on July 10, 2015 (80 FR 39839), there were technical errors that are identified and corrected in the Correction of Errors section of this correcting document. II. Summary of Errors On page 39898, in our discussion of collection of OASIS data, we inadvertently provided an incorrect Web address for a Web site. On page 39898, in our discussion concerning the specifications and data for NQF #0678, we inadvertently provided an incorrect Web address for a Web site. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS III. Correction of Errors In proposed rule FR Doc. 2015–16790, beginning on page 39840 in the issue of July 10, 2015, make the following corrections in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1. On page 39898, in the first column, in the second full paragraph, the reference to the Web site beginning on line 25, ‘‘OASIS Manual http:// www.cms.gov/Medicare/QualityInitiatives-Patient-AssessmentInstruments/’’ is corrected to read ‘‘downloads section https:// www.cms.gov/Medicare/QualityInitiatives-Patient-AssessmentInstruments/HomeHealthQualityInits/ HHQIQualityMeasures.html’’. 2. On page 39898, in the second column, in the first full paragraph, the Web site in line 11, ‘‘http:// www.cms.gov/Medicare/QualityInitiatives-Patient-AssessmentInstruments/Post-Acute-Care-QualityInitiatives/PAC-Quality-Initiatives.html’’ is corrected to read ‘‘https:// www.cms.gov/Medicare/QualityInitiatives-Patient-AssessmentInstruments/HomeHealthQualityInits/ HHQIQualityMeasures.html’’. 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Jkt 235001 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2016 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: This proposed rule would establish opening dates and adjust quotas for the 2016 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries. Quotas would be adjusted as allowable based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2015 and previous fishing seasons. In addition, NMFS proposes season openings based on adaptive management measures to provide, to the extent practicable, fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. The proposed measures could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. DATES: Written comments must be received by September 17, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0068, by any 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-20150068, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, NMFS/SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 will generally 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). ´ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Guy DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301– 427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments established, among other things, commercial shark retention limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, accounting measures for under- and overharvests for the shark fisheries, and adaptive management measures such as flexible opening dates for the fishing season and inseason adjustments to shark trip limits, which provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. This proposed rule would establish quotas and opening dates for the 2016 Atlantic shark commercial fishing season based in part on the management measures in the recently published final rule for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS established, among other things, an adjusted commercial shark retention limit for large coastal sharks (LCS) other than sandbar sharks, revised sandbar shark quota within the shark research fishery, sub-regional quotas in the Gulf of Mexico region for LCS, revised total allowable catches (TACs) and commercial quotas for the nonblacknose small coastal shark (SCS) fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, and revised management measures for blacknose sharks. E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 2016 Proposed Quotas This proposed rule would adjust the quota levels for the different shark stocks and management groups for the 2016 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season based on over- and underharvests that occurred during 2015 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(b)(2). Over- and underharvests are accounted for in the same region, sub-region, and/or fishery in which they occurred the following year, except that large overharvests may be spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of 5 years. Shark stocks or management groups that contain one or more stocks that are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status, will not have underharvest carried over in the following year. Stocks that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring may have any underharvest carried over in the following year, up to 50 percent of the base quota. The quotas in this proposed rule are based on dealer reports received as of July 17, 2015. In the final rule, NMFS will adjust the quotas based on dealer reports received as of a date in midOctober or mid-November 2015. For prior shark quota rules, NMFS has used information from dealer reports received as of October 15 through November 26, depending on the timing of the final rule. Thus, all of the 2016 proposed quotas for the respective stocks and management groups will be subject to further adjustment after NMFS considers the October/November dealer reports. All dealer reports that are received after the October or November date will be used to adjust the 2017 quotas, as appropriate. For the sandbar shark, aggregated LCS, hammerhead shark, non-blacknose SCS, blacknose shark, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups, the 2015 underharvests cannot be carried over to VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 the 2016 fishing season because those stocks or management groups have been determined to be overfished, overfished with overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status. Thus, for all of these management groups, the 2016 proposed quotas would be equal to the applicable base quota minus any overharvests that occurred in 2015 and previous fishing seasons, as applicable. For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, which has been determined not to be overfished and to have no overfishing occurring, available underharvest (up to 50 percent of the base quota) from the 2015 fishing season may be applied to the 2016 quota, and NMFS proposes to do so. Regarding the blacknose shark management group, in the final rule establishing quotas for the 2014 shark season (78 FR 70500; November 26, 2013), NMFS decided to spread out the 2012 overharvest of the blacknose shark quota across 5 years (2014 through 2018) in both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. In the final rule for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS modified the regulations for blacknose shark fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. In the Gulf of Mexico region and north of 34° N. latitude in the Atlantic region, NMFS has prohibited the retention of blacknose sharks. Thus, in this proposed rule, NMFS is not proposing any quotas for blacknose sharks in those areas. However, NMFS is proposing to reduce the blacknose shark quota for fishermen operating south of 34° N. latitude in the Atlantic region by 0.5 mt dw to account for the 2012 overharvest. Thus, before accounting for any landings from 2015, the 2016 adjusted annual quota for the Atlantic blacknose shark management group would be 16.7 mt dw (36,818 lb dw). Based on current landings, the 2015 blacknose shark management group in the Atlantic region was overharvested by 2.9 mt dw (6,328 lb dw). NMFS is PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 49975 proposing to spread out the overharvest accounting over 3 years from 2016 through 2018, the same time period remaining for accounting for the 2012 overharvest, and NMFS is specifically requesting comments on whether NMFS should adjust the quotas over three or more (four or five) years or simply account for the entire overharvest in 2016. In the Atlantic region, accounting for the overharvest over 3 years would result in an overharvest reduction of 1.0 mt dw for 2016 and 2017, and 0.9 mt dw for 2018. This reduction combined with the 0.5 mt dw 2012 overharvest reduction represents 9 percent of the Atlantic region blacknose quota and thus would have both minimal economic impacts on the fishermen and minimal ecological impacts on the stocks. If NMFS reduced the 2016 quota by the full overharvest amount combined with the 2012 overharvest reduction (3.4 mt dw) in one year, this would result in a 20 percent reduction from the base quota, which could negatively impact fishermen and data collection, since the reduced quota would be below regional landings from past fishing seasons and could result in closing the non-blacknose SCS fishery in the Atlantic region south of 34° N. latitude earlier than it has in recent years. NMFS does not believe that accounting for the overharvests over time (1.0 mt dw for 2016 and 2017, and 0.9 mt dw for 2018) would affect the status of the Atlantic blacknose stock because fishing mortality levels would be maintained below levels established in the rebuilding plan. Thus, NMFS is proposing to reduce the 2016 base annual quota for the blacknose shark management group in the Atlantic region based on overharvests from 2012 and 2015. The proposed 2016 quotas by species and management group are summarized in Table 1; the description of the calculations for each stock and management group can be found below. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 49976 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 235001 Region or Subregion Management Group 2015 Annual Quota (A) Preliminary 2015 Landings 1 2016 Base Arumal Quota 25.1 mt dw (55,439lb dw) 2S.9 mt dw (63,835 lb dw) - 85.5 mt dw (188,593 1b dw) 85.5 mtdw (188,593 lb dw) - 13.4 mtdw (29,42llb dw) 13.4 mtdw (29,42llb dw) 231.5 mtdw (510,26llb dw) 266.6 mtdw (587,538 lb dw) - 72.0 mtdw (158,724 lb dw) 72.0 mtdw (158,724 lb dw) - 11.9 mtdw (23,30llb dw) 11.9 mt dw (23,30llb dw) 112.6 mtdw (248,215 lb dw) 107.3 mtdw (236,603 lb dw) 0.0 mtdw (0 lb dw) 0.0 mt dw (0 lb dw) (B) 25.1 mtdw (55,439lb dw) 21.4mtdw (47,35llb dw) Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 85.5 mtdw (188,593 lb dw) 82.2 mtdw (181,2621b dw) Hammerhead Sharks 13.4 mtdw (29,42llb dw) 7.3 mtdw (16.012lb dw) Sfmt 4725 Blacktip Sharks 231.5 mt dw (510,26llb dw) 197.4 mt dw (435,818lb dw) 2 Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 72.0 mtdw (158,724 lb dw) 69.2 mt dw (152,554lb dw) 2 Hammerhead Sharks 11.9 mt dw (23,30llb dw) 6.5 mtdw (1L314lb dw) Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 45.5mtdw (l00,317lb dw) 46.2 mtdw (101,948 1b dw) -5.3 mt dw (-11,612lb dw) Blacknose Sharks 1.8 mt dw (4,076lb dw) l.O mtdw (2. 096 lb dw) - Frm 00047 Blacktip Sharks Fmt 4702 PO 00000 (D) 2016 Proposed Ammal Quota (D+C) Adjustments (C) Eastern Gulf of Mexico E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM Western Gulf of Mexico 2 2 2 2 3.S mt dw (8,396 lb dw) 3 35.1mtdw (77,277 lb dw) 3 18AUP1 4 Gulf of Mexico EP18AU15.000</GPH> Season Opening Dates January 1, 2016 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Table 1. 2016 Proposed Quotas and Opening Dates for the Atlantic Shark Management Groups. All quotas and landings are dressed weight (dw), in metric tons (mt), unless specified otherwise. Table includes landings data as of July 17, 2015; final ------- ---- --- biect to chan2:e based on Iandin2:s as of October or November 2015. 1 rut= 2,204.6 lb asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 235001 E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 0.7 mtdw (1,476lb dw) - 27.1mtdw (59,736 lb dw) 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 176.1ml dw (388,222 lb dw) 98.6 ml dw (217,360 lb dw) 264.1ml dw (582,333 lb dw) 264.1ml dw (582,333 lb dw) 17.5 mt dw (38,638lb dw) 20.4 mtdw (44,966lb dw) -1.5 mt dw (-3,221lb dw) 17.2 mt dw (37,921lb dw) 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw) 50.0 mtdw (110,230 lb dw) 14.8 mt dw (32,593 lb dw) - 50.0 mtdw (110,230 lb dw) 50.0 mtdw (110,230 lb dw) 116.6 mtdw (257,056 lb dw) 60.6 mtdw (133,496 lb dw) - 90.7 mtdw (199,943 lb dw) 90.7 mtdw (199,943 lb dw) Blue Sharks 273.0 mtdw (601,856 lb dw) 0.5 mtdw (U14lb dw) - 273.0 mtdw (601,856lb dw) 273.0 mtdw (60L856lb dw) Omtdw (0 lb dw) Omtdw (0 lb dw) - 1.7 mtdw (3,748lb dw) 1.7 mtdw (3,748 lb dw) Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue Sfmt 4725 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) Porbeagle Sharks Fmt 4702 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) Sandbar Shark Research Frm 00048 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) Non-Sandbar LCS Research PO 00000 - Blacknose Sharks (South of 34' N. lat. only) No regional quotas 12.3 mt dw (27,100 lb dw) Hammerhead Sharks Atlantic 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) 488.0 mtdw (1,075,856 lb dw) 50.7 mtdw (111,701lb dw) - 488.0 mtdw (1,075,856 lb dw) 488.0 mtdw (1,075,856 lb dw) January 1, 2016 5 January 1, 2016 Landings are from January 1, 2015, through July 17,2015, and are subject to change. The blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management group preliminary 2015 landings were split based on the sub-regional quota percentage splits established in Amendment o to the 200o Consolidated IIMS J<'MP. 3 This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2014 and 2015. In the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 2014), the 2014 GulfofMexico blacktip shark quota was undcrharvested by 72.0 mt dw ( 158,602 lb dw). After the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the quota was 2 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 49977 EP18AU15.001</GPH> asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 49978 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 EP18AU15.002</GPH> underharvested by an additionall.4 mt dw (3,142lb dw), for a total underharvest of73.4 mt dw (161,744lb dw). In 2015, the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota was underharvested by 37.5 mt (82,531 lb dw). Therefore, this proposed rule would increase the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 38.9 mt dw (37.5 mt dw underharvest in 2015 + 1.4 mt dw underharvest from 2014 ). Recently, NMFS implemented Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP which, among other things, established subregional quotas for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group. NMFS would account for underharvest based on the sub-regional quota percentage split. Thus, the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 3.8 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the underharvest, while the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 35.1 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the underharvest. 4 This adjustment accounts for overharvests from 2014. In the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 2014), the 2014 Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota was not overharvested. After the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the quota was overharvested by 5.3 mt dw (11,612 lb dw) due to landings by state-water fishermen fishing in state-waters after the federal closure. NMFS will decrease the 2016 base annual quota based on the overharvest estimate of 5.3 mt from 2014. Based on the original2015 annual commercial quota, the 2015 annual quota was overharvested by 0.7 mt dw (1,63llb dw) as of July 17,2015. In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS increased the connnercial Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota to 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) andreopened the fishery. Based on the revised annual commercial quota, reported landings have not exceeded the revised 2015 base quota to date. 5 This adjustment accounts for overharvest in 2012 and 2015. After the final rule establishing the 2012 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the blacknose shark quota was overharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,742lb dw). In the final rule establishing the 2014 quotas, NMFS implemented a 5-year adjustment of the overharvest amount by the percentage oflandings in 2012. Thus, NMFS will reduce the Atlantic blacknose sharks by 0.5 mt dw (l,llllb dw) each year for 5 years from 2014-2018. In 2015, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was overharvested by 2.9 (6,328lb dw). NMFS is proposing an additional3-year adjustment of the overharvest amount in 2015. NMFS would reduce the quota by 1.0 mt dw (2,110 lb dw) each year for 2016 and 2017 and 0.9 mt dw (2,108lb dw) for 2018. Therefore, this proposed rule would decrease the Atlantic blacknose shark quota by 1.5 mt dw (1.0 mt dw overharvest in 2015 + 0.5 mt dw overharvest from 2012). Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules BILLING CODE 3510–22–C 2. Proposed 2016 Quotas for the Aggregated LCS in the Gulf of Mexico Region asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1. Proposed 2016 Quotas for the Blacktip Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2016 proposed commercial quota for blacktip sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 28.9 mt dw (63,835 lb dw) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 266.6 mt dw (587,538 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings for blacktip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region were at 89 percent (291.1 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks have not been declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), underharvests for blacktip sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2015 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. In the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 2014), the 2014 Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota was underharvested by 72.0 mt dw (158,602 lb dw). After the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the quota was underharvested by an additional 1.4 mt dw (3,142 lb dw), for a total underharvest of 73.4 mt dw (161,744 lb dw). During the 2015 fishing season to date, the regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota has been underharvested by 37.5 mt (82,531 lb dw). Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2016 Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 38.9 mt dw (37.5 mt dw underharvest in 2015 + 1.4 mt dw additional underharvest from 2014), which is less than the 50 percent limit (128.3 mt dw) allowed pursuant to the regulations. Thus, the proposed commercial regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota is 295.5 mt dw. Recently, NMFS implemented Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, which, among other things, established sub-regional quotas for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group. Under these regulations, the eastern sub-region receives 9.8 percent of the regional Gulf of Mexico quota and the western subregion receives 90.2 percent. Thus, the proposed eastern sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 28.9 mt dw and the proposed western sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 266.6 mt dw. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 The 2016 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings for aggregated LCS in the Gulf of Mexico region were at 96 percent (150.4 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Given the unknown status of some of the shark species within the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried over pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 3. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Aggregated LCS in the Atlantic Region The 2016 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region is 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, the aggregated LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings indicate 93 percent of the quota is still available. Given the unknown status of some of the shark species within the Atlantic aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried over pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust the 2016 quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region, because there has not been any overharvests and underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 4. Proposed 2016 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Regions The 2016 proposed commercial quotas for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, and Atlantic region are 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw), 11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw), and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), respectively. As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings for hammerhead sharks were at 54 percent (13.8 mt dw) PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 49979 of their 2015 quota levels in the Gulf of Mexico region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Currently, the hammerhead shark fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings indicate 98 percent of the quota is still available. Given the overfished status of hammerhead sharks, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, western Gulf of Mexico subregion, and Atlantic region, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 5. Proposed 2016 Quotas for Research LCS and Sandbar Sharks Within the Shark Research Fishery The 2016 proposed commercial quotas within the shark research fishery are 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) for research LCS and 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) for sandbar sharks. Within the shark research fishery, as of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of research LCS were at 30 percent (14.8 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels, and sandbar shark reported landings were at 52 percent (60.6 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quotas to date. Under § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), because sandbar sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks within the research LCS management group have been determined to be either overfished or overfished with overfishing occurring, underharvests for these management groups cannot be carried forward to the 2016 quotas. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas in the shark research fishery because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 6. Proposed 2016 Quota for the NonBlacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2016 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region is 107.3 mt dw (236,603 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 102 percent (46.2 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Gulf of Mexico region. Because reported E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 49980 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS landings had exceeded the 2015 quota, the fishery was closed on July 4, 2015 (80 FR 38016). In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS increased the commercial Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota to 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). Based on the current landings at that time, NMFS re-opened the non-blacknose SCS fishery and the reported landings have not exceeded the revised 2015 base quota to date. In the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 2014), the 2015 Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota was not overharvested. However, after the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the quota was overharvested by 5.3 mt dw (11,612 lb dw) in 2014. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(i), overharvest of nonblacknose sharks would be applied to the regional quota over a maximum of 5 years. NMFS is proposing to apply the entire 2014 overharvest to the 2016 regional quota, because the overharvest is relatively small compared to the overall regional quota, and therefore NMFS anticipates minimal impacts from applying the overharvest in a single year. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes to reduce the 2016 Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota to 107.3 mt dw (112.6 mt dw annual base quota¥5.3 mt dw 2014 overharvest = 107.3 mt dw 2016 adjusted annual quota). 7. Proposed 2016 Quota for the NonBlacknose SCS in the Atlantic Region The 2016 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region is 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 56 percent (98.6 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Atlantic region. Though reported landings had not yet reached or exceeded the 2015 quota, the fishery was closed on June 7, 2015 (80 FR 32040), due to the quota linkage with blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region. In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS increased the commercial Atlantic nonblacknose SCS quota to 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw), removed the quota linkage between non-blacknose SCS and blacknose sharks for fishermen fishing north of 34° N. latitude, and re-opened the non-blacknose SCS fishery north of 34° N. latitude. Non-blacknose SCS fishing south of 34° N. latitude remained closed in 2015. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Atlantic non-blacknose SCS management group, underharvests VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust the 2016 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 8. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Blacknose Sharks in the Atlantic Region The 2016 proposed commercial quota for blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region is 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of blacknose sharks were at 116 percent (20.4 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Atlantic region. Reported landings have exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and the fishery was closed on June 7, 2015 (80 FR 32040). In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS removed the quota linkage between nonblacknose SCS and blacknose sharks for fishermen fishing north of 34° N. latitude, but the blacknose shark management group south of 34° N. latitude remained closed, since the quota had been landed. Blacknose sharks have been declared to be overfished with overfishing occurring in the Atlantic region. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(i), overharvests of blacknose sharks would be applied to the regional quota over a maximum of 5 years. As described above, the 2012 blacknose quota was overharvested and NMFS decided to adjust the regional quotas over 5 years from 2014 through 2018 to mitigate the impacts of adjusting for the overharvest in a single year. In 2015, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was overharvested by 2.9 mt dw (6,328 lb dw). NMFS is proposing to spread the 2015 overharvest over 3 years to mitigate the impacts of adjusting for the overharvest in a single year. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), the 2016 proposed commercial adjusted base quota for blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region is 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw) (17.2 mt dw annual base quota¥0.5 mt dw 2012 adjusted 5-year overharvest¥1.0 mt dw 2015 adjusted 3-year overharvest = 15.7 mt dw 2016 adjusted annual quota). Note, the blacknose shark quota is available in the Atlantic region only for those vessels operating south of 34° N. latitude; north of 34° N. latitude; retention, landing, and sale of blacknose sharks is prohibited. PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 9. Proposed 2019 Quotas for Pelagic Sharks The 2016 proposed commercial quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) are 273 mt dw (601,856 lb dw), 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw), and 488 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw), respectively. The porbeagle shark fishery was closed in 2015 due to overharvest in 2014. As of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of blue sharks and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) were at less than 1 percent (0.5 mt dw) and 10 percent (50.7 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels, respectively. Given these pelagic species are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for blue sharks and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks), because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. Proposed Fishing Season Notification for the 2015 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Season For each fishery, NMFS considered the seven ‘‘Opening Commercial Fishing Season Criteria’’ listed at § 635.27(b)(3). The ‘‘Opening Fishing Season’’ criteria consider factors such as the available annual quotas for the current fishing season, estimated season length and average weekly catch rates from previous years, length of the season and fishermen participation in past years, impacts to accomplishing objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, temporal variation in behavior or biology target species (e.g., seasonal distribution or abundance), impact of catch rates in one region on another, and effects of delayed season openings. Specifically, NMFS examined the 2015 and previous fishing years’ overand/or underharvests of the different management groups to determine the effects of the 2016 proposed commercial quotas on fishermen across regional and sub-regional fishing areas. NMFS also examined the potential season length and previous catch rates to ensure that equitable fishing opportunities would be provided to fishermen in all areas. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal variation of the different species/ management groups and the effects on fishing opportunities. E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules In addition to considering the seven ‘‘Opening Commercial Fishing Season Criteria,’’ NMFS is also considering the revised commercial shark retention limit and other management measures in the final rule for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP in determining the proposed opening dates for 2016. NMFS is proposing that the 2016 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season for all shark management groups in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, open on or about January 1, 2016, after the publication of the final rule for this action. NMFS is also proposing to start the 2016 commercial shark fishing season with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. In the Atlantic region, NMFS proposes opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups on or about January 1, 2016. This opening date takes into account all the criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas. In addition, during the comment periods for the 2015 shark season proposed rule (79 FR 54252; September 11, 2014) and proposed rule for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 2648; January 20, 2015), NMFS received comments from fishermen from all areas of the Atlantic requesting that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups open in January. In public comments during Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, constituents suggested a January opening date such that a portion of the quota could be harvested in the beginning of the year and then the trip limits be reduced such that the rest of the quota could be harvested at the end of the fishing year. As such, NMFS is intending to use the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria in the regulations per § 635.24(a)(8) for the first time in 2016. The inseason trip limit adjustment criteria would allow more equitable fishing opportunities across the fishery. The proposed opening date with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip should allow fishermen to harvest some of the 2016 quota at the beginning of the year, when sharks are more prevalent in the South Atlantic area. If it appears that the quota is being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire region an opportunity to fish, NMFS VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 would reduce the commercial retention limits taking into account § 635.27(b)(3) and the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria listed in § 635.24(a)(8), particularly the consideration of whether catch rates in one part of a region or sub-region are precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota (§ 635.24(a)(8)(vi)). If that occurs, NMFS would file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any inseason adjustments of the retention limit to an appropriate limit between 0 and 55 sharks per trip. NMFS would increase the commercial retention limits per trip at a later date to provide fishermen in the northern portion of the Atlantic region an opportunity to retain non-sandbar LCS. For example, the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups could open in January and NMFS could allow approximately 30 percent of the quota to be retained. Once the quota reaches about 30 percent, NMFS could reduce the retention limit to incidental levels (3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another level calculated to reduce the harvest of LCS. If the quota continues to be harvested quickly, NMFS could reduce the retention limit to 0 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to ensure enough quota remains until later in the year. At some point later in the year, potentially equivalent to recent fishing season opening dates (e.g., July 1 or July 15), NMFS could increase the retention limit to the default level (45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another amount, as deemed appropriate after considering the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria. If the quota is being harvested too fast or too slow, NMFS could adjust the retention limit appropriately to ensure the fishery remains open most of the rest of the year. In the Gulf of Mexico region, opening the fishing season on or about January 1, 2016, for aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and hammerhead sharks with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fisheries management subregions. This opening date takes into account all the criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the length of the season for the different species and/or management group in the previous years and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years. Similar to the retention limit adjustment process described for PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 49981 the Atlantic region, NMFS may consider adjusting the retention limit in the Gulf of Mexico region throughout the season to ensure fishermen in all parts of the region have an opportunity to harvest aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and hammerhead sharks. All of the shark management groups would remain open until December 31, 2016, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for any shark management group has reached, or is projected to reach, 80 percent of the available quota. In the final rule for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS revised non-linked and linked quotas and explained that the linked quotas are explicitly designed to concurrently close multiple shark management groups that are caught together to prevent incidental catch mortality from causing total allowable catch to be exceeded. If NMFS determines that a non-linked shark species or management group must be closed, then, consistent with § 635.28(b)(2) for non-linked quotas (e.g., eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip, western Gulf of Mexico blacktip, Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS, or pelagic sharks), NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species, shark management group, region, and/or sub-region that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries for the shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years. If NMFS determines that a linked shark species or management group must be closed, then, consistent with § 635.28(b)(3) for linked quotas, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for all of the species and/or management groups in a linked group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries for all linked species and/ or management groups are closed, even across fishing years. The linked quotas of the species and/or management groups are Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic aggregated LCS; eastern Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and eastern Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS; western Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and western Gulf of Mexico E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 49982 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS aggregated LCS; and Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south of 34° N. latitude. NMFS may close the fishery for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering the criteria listed at § 635.28(b)(5). NMFS determined that the final rules to implement Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (June 24, 2008, 73 FR 35778; corrected on July 15, 2008, 73 FR 40658), Amendment 5a to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (78 FR 40318; July 3, 2013), and Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP are consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program of coastal states on the Atlantic including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Pursuant to 15 CFR 930.41(a), NMFS provided the Coastal Zone Management Program of each coastal state a 60-day period to review the consistency determination and to advise the Agency of their concurrence. NMFS received concurrence with the consistency determinations from several states and inferred consistency from those states that did not respond within the 60-day time period. This proposed action to establish opening dates and adjust quotas for the 2016 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries does not change the framework previously consulted upon; therefore, no additional consultation is required. Request for Comments Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http:// www.regulations.gov and mail. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule by September 17, 2015 (see DATES and ADDRESSES). In addition to comments on the entire rule, NMFS is specifically requesting comments on the proposed 3year adjustment for the blacknose shark quota in the Atlantic Region to account for the overharvest of blacknose sharks in 2015. NMFS is proposing to spread the overharvested amount over a 3-year period (2016 to 2018) to reduce impacts on the blacknose shark and nonblacknose SCS fisheries, which are linked fisheries in the Atlantic region south of 34° N. latitude. Since the overharvested quota would be spread over 3 years in addition to the 2012 overharvest reduction which continues through 2018, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota would be reduced by 1.5 mt dw (3,221 lb dw) in 2016 and the adjusted quota would be 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw). If additional overharvest occurs, the adjusted blacknose shark quota could be further reduced to account for this potential overharvest. If VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 NMFS accounted for the full 2015 overharvest amount in the 2016 quota in addition to the 2012 overharvest reduction, the blacknose shark quota would be reduced by 3.4 mt dw (7,439 lb dw) and the adjusted quota would be 13.8 mt dw (30,482 lb dw), which could result in an early fishery closure in the Atlantic region south of 34° N. latitude and have adverse impacts for blacknose and non-blacknose fishermen and dealers. This second scenario would not have any 2015 overharvest impacts beyond 2016. Public Hearings Public hearings on this proposed rule are not currently scheduled. If you would like to request a public hearing, ´ please contact Guy DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone at 301–427– 8503. 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, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. These proposed specifications are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA analysis follows. Section 603(b)(1) of the RFA requires Agencies to explain the purpose of the rule. This rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, is being proposed to establish the 2016 commercial shark fishing quotas and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2015, and would not open until another action was taken. This proposed rule would be implemented according to the regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Thus, NMFS expects few, if any, economic impacts to fishermen other than those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, based on the quota adjustments. Section 603(b)(2) of the RFA requires Agencies to explain the rule’s objectives. The objectives of this rule are to: Adjust the baseline quotas for all Atlantic shark management groups based on any over- and/or PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 underharvests from the previous fishing year(s) and to establish the opening dates of the various management groups in order to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fishing management regions and/or sub-regions while also considering the ecological needs of the different shark species. Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Federal 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. The SBA size standards are $20.5 million for finfish fishing, $5.5 million for shellfish fishing, and $7.5 million for other marine fishing, for-hire businesses, and marinas (79 FR 33467; June 12, 2014). NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $20.5 million for finfish-harvesting. The commercial shark fisheries are comprised of fishermen who hold shark directed or incidental limited access permits and the related shark dealers, all of which NMFS considers to be small entities according to the size standards set by the SBA. The proposed rule would apply to the approximately 208 directed commercial shark permit holders, 255 incidental commercial shark permit holders, and 100 commercial shark dealers as of July 2015. NMFS solicits public comment on the IRFA. This proposed rule does not contain any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(4)). Similarly, this proposed rule would not conflict, duplicate, or overlap with other relevant Federal rules (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(5)). Fishermen, dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements as domestically implemented, domestic laws, and FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Section 603(c) of the RFA requires each IRFA to contain a description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which would accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C.603 (c)(1)–(4)) lists four general E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules 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, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected are considered small entities; therefore, there are no alternatives discussed that fall under the first, third, and fourth categories described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of this rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act; therefore, there are no alternatives considered under the third category. This rulemaking does not establish management measures to be implemented, but rather implements previously adopted and analyzed measures with adjustments, as specified in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the Environmental Assessment (EA) that accompanied the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 76302; December 8, 2010). Thus, NMFS proposes to adjust quotas established and analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by subtracting the underharvest or adding the overharvest as allowable. Thus, NMFS has limited flexibility to modify the quotas in this rule, the impacts of which were analyzed in previous regulatory flexibility analyses. Based on the 2014 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 2016 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total fleet revenues of $4,583,514 (see Table 2). For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS is proposing to increase the baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2015. The increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $8,413 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that subregion, while the increase for the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a 49983 $77,432 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS management group, NMFS is proposing to reduce the baseline quota due to the overharvest in 2014. This would cause a potential loss in revenue of $7,571 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region. For the Atlantic blacknose shark management group, NMFS will continue to reduce the baseline quota through 2018 to account for overharvest in 2012 and is proposing to reduce the baseline quota for the next 3 years to account for overharvest in 2015. These reductions would cause a potential loss in revenue of $3,157 for the fleet in the Atlantic region. All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. The FRFAs for those amendments concluded that the economic impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time. TABLE 2—AVERAGE EX-VESSEL PRICES PER LB DW FOR EACH SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP, 2014 Average ex-vessel meat price Region Species Gulf of Mexico .................................. Blacktip Shark ........................................................................................... Aggregated LCS ........................................................................................ Hammerhead Shark .................................................................................. Non-Blacknose SCS .................................................................................. Blacknose Shark ....................................................................................... Aggregated LCS ........................................................................................ Hammerhead Shark .................................................................................. Non-Blacknose SCS .................................................................................. Blacknose Shark ....................................................................................... Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated LCS) ............................................. Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar only) ................................................... Blue shark ................................................................................................. Porbeagle shark ........................................................................................ Other Pelagic sharks ................................................................................. Atlantic ............................................. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS No Region ........................................ For this rule, NMFS also reviewed the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3) to determine when opening each fishery would provide equitable opportunities for fishermen while also considering the ecological needs of the different species. The opening of the fishing season could vary depending upon the available annual quota, catch rates, and number of fishing participants during the year. For the 2016 fishing season, NMFS is proposing to open all of the shark management groups on the effective VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 date of the final rule for this action (expected to be on or about January 1). The direct and indirect economic impacts would be neutral on a shortand long-term basis, because NMFS is not proposing to change the opening dates of these fisheries from the status quo, except for aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic. Opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region on the effective date of the final rule for this action PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 $0.50 0.54 0.48 0.36 0.86 0.75 0.57 0.74 0.78 0.58 0.69 0.67 1.41 1.41 Average ex-vessel fin price $9.53 10.04 10.21 5.84 5.84 4.19 2.33 4.00 4.00 7.68 10.12 2.34 2.34 2.34 (expected to be on or about January 1) would result in short-term, direct, moderate, beneficial economic impacts, as fishermen and dealers in the southern portion of the Atlantic region would be able to fish for aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks starting on or about January. These fishermen would be able to fish earlier in the 2016 fishing season compared to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 fishing seasons, which did not start until June or July. These fishermen commented during the public comment E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1 49984 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 159 / Tuesday, August 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS period for the past shark specification rulemakings and Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP that they felt that opening the fishery in July was not fair to them because, by July, the sharks have migrated north and are no longer available. With the implementation of the HMS electronic reporting system in 2013, NMFS now monitors the quota on a more real-time basis compared to the paper reporting system that was in place before 2013. This ability, along with the inseason adjustment criteria in § 635.24(a)(8), should allow NMFS the flexibility to further provide equitable fishing opportunities for fishermen across all regions, to the extent practicable. Depending on how quickly the quota is being harvested, NMFS could reduce the retention limits to ensure that fishermen farther north have sufficient quota for a fishery later in the 2016 fishing season. The direct impacts to shark fishermen in the Atlantic region of reducing the trip limit would depend on VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:36 Aug 17, 2015 Jkt 235001 the needed reduction in the trip limit and the timing of such a reduction. Therefore, such a reduction in the trip limit is only anticipated to have minor adverse direct economic impacts to fishermen in the short-term; long-term impacts are not anticipated as these reductions would not be permanent. In the northern portion of the Atlantic region, a potential January 1 opening for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups, with inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure quota is available later in the season, would have direct, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the short-term for fishermen as they would potentially have access to the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas earlier than in past seasons. Fishermen in this area have stated that, depending on the weather, some aggregated LCS species might be available to retain in January. Thus, fishermen would be able to target or retain aggregated LCS while targeting non-blacknose SCS. There would be indirect, minor, beneficial PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 economic impacts in the short- and long-term for shark dealers and other entities that deal with shark products in this region as they would also have access to aggregated LCS products earlier than in past seasons. Thus, opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in January and using inseaon trip limit adjustments to ensure a fishery later in the year in 2016 would cause beneficial cumulative economic impacts, since it would allow for a more equitable distribution of the quotas among constituents in this region, which was the original intent of Amendments 2 and 6. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 6, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–19915 Filed 8–17–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18AUP1.SGM 18AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 159 (Tuesday, August 18, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49974-49984]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-19915]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150413357-5667-01]
RIN 0648-XD898


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2016 Atlantic Shark Commercial 
Fishing Season

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This proposed rule would establish opening dates and adjust 
quotas for the 2016 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark 
fisheries. Quotas would be adjusted as allowable based on any over- 
and/or underharvests experienced during 2015 and previous fishing 
seasons. In addition, NMFS proposes season openings based on adaptive 
management measures to provide, to the extent practicable, fishing 
opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. 
The proposed measures could affect fishing opportunities for commercial 
shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf 
of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

DATES: Written comments must be received by September 17, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0068, by any 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-2015-0068, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, 
NMFS/SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, 
SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    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 will generally 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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gu[yacute] DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-
Geisz at 301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory 
Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are 
implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic 
commercial shark fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments established, among other things, commercial shark retention 
limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, accounting 
measures for under- and overharvests for the shark fisheries, and 
adaptive management measures such as flexible opening dates for the 
fishing season and inseason adjustments to shark trip limits, which 
provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing 
opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark 
fishermen in all regions and areas.
    This proposed rule would establish quotas and opening dates for the 
2016 Atlantic shark commercial fishing season based in part on the 
management measures in the recently published final rule for Amendment 
6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. In Amendment 6 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS established, among other things, an adjusted 
commercial shark retention limit for large coastal sharks (LCS) other 
than sandbar sharks, revised sandbar shark quota within the shark 
research fishery, sub-regional quotas in the Gulf of Mexico region for 
LCS, revised total allowable catches (TACs) and commercial quotas for 
the non-blacknose small coastal shark (SCS) fisheries in the Atlantic 
and Gulf of Mexico regions, and revised management measures for 
blacknose sharks.

[[Page 49975]]

2016 Proposed Quotas

    This proposed rule would adjust the quota levels for the different 
shark stocks and management groups for the 2016 Atlantic commercial 
shark fishing season based on over- and underharvests that occurred 
during 2015 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing 
regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(b)(2). Over- and underharvests are 
accounted for in the same region, sub-region, and/or fishery in which 
they occurred the following year, except that large overharvests may be 
spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of 5 
years. Shark stocks or management groups that contain one or more 
stocks that are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or have an 
unknown status, will not have underharvest carried over in the 
following year. Stocks that are not overfished and have no overfishing 
occurring may have any underharvest carried over in the following year, 
up to 50 percent of the base quota.
    The quotas in this proposed rule are based on dealer reports 
received as of July 17, 2015. In the final rule, NMFS will adjust the 
quotas based on dealer reports received as of a date in mid-October or 
mid-November 2015. For prior shark quota rules, NMFS has used 
information from dealer reports received as of October 15 through 
November 26, depending on the timing of the final rule. Thus, all of 
the 2016 proposed quotas for the respective stocks and management 
groups will be subject to further adjustment after NMFS considers the 
October/November dealer reports. All dealer reports that are received 
after the October or November date will be used to adjust the 2017 
quotas, as appropriate.
    For the sandbar shark, aggregated LCS, hammerhead shark, non-
blacknose SCS, blacknose shark, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and 
pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups, 
the 2015 underharvests cannot be carried over to the 2016 fishing 
season because those stocks or management groups have been determined 
to be overfished, overfished with overfishing occurring, or have an 
unknown status. Thus, for all of these management groups, the 2016 
proposed quotas would be equal to the applicable base quota minus any 
overharvests that occurred in 2015 and previous fishing seasons, as 
applicable.
    For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, which has 
been determined not to be overfished and to have no overfishing 
occurring, available underharvest (up to 50 percent of the base quota) 
from the 2015 fishing season may be applied to the 2016 quota, and NMFS 
proposes to do so.
    Regarding the blacknose shark management group, in the final rule 
establishing quotas for the 2014 shark season (78 FR 70500; November 
26, 2013), NMFS decided to spread out the 2012 overharvest of the 
blacknose shark quota across 5 years (2014 through 2018) in both the 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. In the final rule for Amendment 6 
to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS modified the regulations for 
blacknose shark fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. 
In the Gulf of Mexico region and north of 34[deg] N. latitude in the 
Atlantic region, NMFS has prohibited the retention of blacknose sharks. 
Thus, in this proposed rule, NMFS is not proposing any quotas for 
blacknose sharks in those areas. However, NMFS is proposing to reduce 
the blacknose shark quota for fishermen operating south of 34[deg] N. 
latitude in the Atlantic region by 0.5 mt dw to account for the 2012 
overharvest. Thus, before accounting for any landings from 2015, the 
2016 adjusted annual quota for the Atlantic blacknose shark management 
group would be 16.7 mt dw (36,818 lb dw).
    Based on current landings, the 2015 blacknose shark management 
group in the Atlantic region was overharvested by 2.9 mt dw (6,328 lb 
dw). NMFS is proposing to spread out the overharvest accounting over 3 
years from 2016 through 2018, the same time period remaining for 
accounting for the 2012 overharvest, and NMFS is specifically 
requesting comments on whether NMFS should adjust the quotas over three 
or more (four or five) years or simply account for the entire 
overharvest in 2016. In the Atlantic region, accounting for the 
overharvest over 3 years would result in an overharvest reduction of 
1.0 mt dw for 2016 and 2017, and 0.9 mt dw for 2018. This reduction 
combined with the 0.5 mt dw 2012 overharvest reduction represents 9 
percent of the Atlantic region blacknose quota and thus would have both 
minimal economic impacts on the fishermen and minimal ecological 
impacts on the stocks. If NMFS reduced the 2016 quota by the full 
overharvest amount combined with the 2012 overharvest reduction (3.4 mt 
dw) in one year, this would result in a 20 percent reduction from the 
base quota, which could negatively impact fishermen and data 
collection, since the reduced quota would be below regional landings 
from past fishing seasons and could result in closing the non-blacknose 
SCS fishery in the Atlantic region south of 34[deg] N. latitude earlier 
than it has in recent years. NMFS does not believe that accounting for 
the overharvests over time (1.0 mt dw for 2016 and 2017, and 0.9 mt dw 
for 2018) would affect the status of the Atlantic blacknose stock 
because fishing mortality levels would be maintained below levels 
established in the rebuilding plan. Thus, NMFS is proposing to reduce 
the 2016 base annual quota for the blacknose shark management group in 
the Atlantic region based on overharvests from 2012 and 2015.
    The proposed 2016 quotas by species and management group are 
summarized in Table 1; the description of the calculations for each 
stock and management group can be found below.
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BILLING CODE 3510-22-C
1. Proposed 2016 Quotas for the Blacktip Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for blacktip sharks in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 28.9 mt dw (63,835 lb dw) and the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 266.6 mt dw (587,538 lb dw). As of 
July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings for blacktip sharks in the 
Gulf of Mexico region were at 89 percent (291.1 mt dw) of their 2015 
quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to 
date, and the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip sharks have not been declared to be overfished, to have 
overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status. Pursuant to Sec.  
635.27(b)(2)(ii), underharvests for blacktip sharks within the Gulf of 
Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2015 quotas up to 50 
percent of the base quota. In the final rule establishing the 2015 
quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 2014), the 2014 Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark quota was underharvested by 72.0 mt dw (158,602 lb dw). 
After the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, late 
dealer reports indicated the quota was underharvested by an additional 
1.4 mt dw (3,142 lb dw), for a total underharvest of 73.4 mt dw 
(161,744 lb dw). During the 2015 fishing season to date, the regional 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota has been underharvested by 37.5 mt 
(82,531 lb dw). Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2016 Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip shark quota by 38.9 mt dw (37.5 mt dw underharvest in 
2015 + 1.4 mt dw additional underharvest from 2014), which is less than 
the 50 percent limit (128.3 mt dw) allowed pursuant to the regulations. 
Thus, the proposed commercial regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark 
quota is 295.5 mt dw.
    Recently, NMFS implemented Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP, which, among other things, established sub-regional quotas for the 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group. Under these 
regulations, the eastern sub-region receives 9.8 percent of the 
regional Gulf of Mexico quota and the western sub-region receives 90.2 
percent. Thus, the proposed eastern sub-regional Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark commercial quota is 28.9 mt dw and the proposed western 
sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 266.6 mt 
dw.
2. Proposed 2016 Quotas for the Aggregated LCS in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) and the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). As of 
July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings for aggregated LCS in the 
Gulf of Mexico region were at 96 percent (150.4 mt dw) of their 2015 
quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to 
date, and the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Given 
the unknown status of some of the shark species within the Gulf of 
Mexico aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried 
over pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on 
preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at 
Sec.  635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for 
aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico 
sub-regions, because there have not been any overharvests and because 
underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
3. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Aggregated LCS in the Atlantic Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the 
Atlantic region is 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, 
the aggregated LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and 
preliminary landings indicate 93 percent of the quota is still 
available. Given the unknown status of some of the shark species within 
the Atlantic aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be 
carried over pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on 
preliminary estimates and consistent with current regulations at Sec.  
635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust the 2016 quota for 
aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region, because there has not been any 
overharvests and underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock 
status.
4. Proposed 2016 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and 
Atlantic Regions
    The 2016 proposed commercial quotas for hammerhead sharks in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, 
and Atlantic region are 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw), 11.9 mt dw (23,301 
lb dw), and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), respectively. As of July 17, 
2015, preliminary reported landings for hammerhead sharks were at 54 
percent (13.8 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Gulf of Mexico 
region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and 
the fishery was closed on May 3, 2015 (80 FR 24836). Currently, the 
hammerhead shark fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and 
preliminary landings indicate 98 percent of the quota is still 
available. Given the overfished status of hammerhead sharks, 
underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to Sec.  
635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and 
consistent with the current regulations at Sec.  635.27(b)(2), NMFS is 
not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for hammerhead sharks in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, 
and Atlantic region, because there have not been any overharvests and 
because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
5. Proposed 2016 Quotas for Research LCS and Sandbar Sharks Within the 
Shark Research Fishery
    The 2016 proposed commercial quotas within the shark research 
fishery are 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) for research LCS and 90.7 mt dw 
(199,943 lb dw) for sandbar sharks. Within the shark research fishery, 
as of July 17, 2015, preliminary reported landings of research LCS were 
at 30 percent (14.8 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels, and sandbar 
shark reported landings were at 52 percent (60.6 mt dw) of their 2015 
quota levels. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2015 quotas to 
date. Under Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(ii), because sandbar sharks and 
scalloped hammerhead sharks within the research LCS management group 
have been determined to be either overfished or overfished with 
overfishing occurring, underharvests for these management groups cannot 
be carried forward to the 2016 quotas. Therefore, based on preliminary 
estimates and consistent with the current regulations at Sec.  
635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas in the shark 
research fishery because there have not been any overharvests and 
because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
6. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Non-Blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the 
Gulf of Mexico region is 107.3 mt dw (236,603 lb dw). As of July 17, 
2015, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 102 
percent (46.2 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Gulf of Mexico 
region. Because reported

[[Page 49980]]

landings had exceeded the 2015 quota, the fishery was closed on July 4, 
2015 (80 FR 38016). In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, 
NMFS increased the commercial Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota to 
112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). Based on the current landings at that 
time, NMFS re-opened the non-blacknose SCS fishery and the reported 
landings have not exceeded the revised 2015 base quota to date. In the 
final rule establishing the 2015 quotas (79 FR 71331; December 2, 
2014), the 2015 Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota was not 
overharvested. However, after the final rule establishing the 2015 
quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the quota was 
overharvested by 5.3 mt dw (11,612 lb dw) in 2014. Pursuant to Sec.  
635.27(b)(2)(i), overharvest of non-blacknose sharks would be applied 
to the regional quota over a maximum of 5 years. NMFS is proposing to 
apply the entire 2014 overharvest to the 2016 regional quota, because 
the overharvest is relatively small compared to the overall regional 
quota, and therefore NMFS anticipates minimal impacts from applying the 
overharvest in a single year. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates 
and consistent with the current regulations at Sec.  635.27(b)(2), NMFS 
proposes to reduce the 2016 Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota to 
107.3 mt dw (112.6 mt dw annual base quota-5.3 mt dw 2014 overharvest = 
107.3 mt dw 2016 adjusted annual quota).
7. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Non-Blacknose SCS in the Atlantic Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the 
Atlantic region is 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, 
preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 56 percent 
(98.6 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Atlantic region. Though 
reported landings had not yet reached or exceeded the 2015 quota, the 
fishery was closed on June 7, 2015 (80 FR 32040), due to the quota 
linkage with blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region. In Amendment 6 to 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS increased the commercial Atlantic 
non-blacknose SCS quota to 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw), removed the 
quota linkage between non-blacknose SCS and blacknose sharks for 
fishermen fishing north of 34[deg] N. latitude, and re-opened the non-
blacknose SCS fishery north of 34[deg] N. latitude. Non-blacknose SCS 
fishing south of 34[deg] N. latitude remained closed in 2015. Given the 
unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Atlantic non-blacknose 
SCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant 
to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates 
and consistent with the current regulations at Sec.  635.27(b)(2), NMFS 
is not proposing to adjust the 2016 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the 
Atlantic region, because there have not been any overharvests and 
because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
8. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Blacknose Sharks in the Atlantic Region
    The 2016 proposed commercial quota for blacknose sharks in the 
Atlantic region is 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw). As of July 17, 2015, 
preliminary reported landings of blacknose sharks were at 116 percent 
(20.4 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels in the Atlantic region. 
Reported landings have exceeded the 2015 quota to date, and the fishery 
was closed on June 7, 2015 (80 FR 32040). In Amendment 6 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS removed the quota linkage between non-
blacknose SCS and blacknose sharks for fishermen fishing north of 
34[deg] N. latitude, but the blacknose shark management group south of 
34[deg] N. latitude remained closed, since the quota had been landed. 
Blacknose sharks have been declared to be overfished with overfishing 
occurring in the Atlantic region. Pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(i), 
overharvests of blacknose sharks would be applied to the regional quota 
over a maximum of 5 years. As described above, the 2012 blacknose quota 
was overharvested and NMFS decided to adjust the regional quotas over 5 
years from 2014 through 2018 to mitigate the impacts of adjusting for 
the overharvest in a single year. In 2015, the Atlantic blacknose shark 
quota was overharvested by 2.9 mt dw (6,328 lb dw). NMFS is proposing 
to spread the 2015 overharvest over 3 years to mitigate the impacts of 
adjusting for the overharvest in a single year. Therefore, based on 
preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at 
Sec.  635.27(b)(2), the 2016 proposed commercial adjusted base quota 
for blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region is 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb 
dw) (17.2 mt dw annual base quota-0.5 mt dw 2012 adjusted 5-year 
overharvest-1.0 mt dw 2015 adjusted 3-year overharvest = 15.7 mt dw 
2016 adjusted annual quota). Note, the blacknose shark quota is 
available in the Atlantic region only for those vessels operating south 
of 34[deg] N. latitude; north of 34[deg] N. latitude; retention, 
landing, and sale of blacknose sharks is prohibited.
9. Proposed 2019 Quotas for Pelagic Sharks
    The 2016 proposed commercial quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle 
sharks, and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) are 
273 mt dw (601,856 lb dw), 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw), and 488 mt dw 
(1,075,856 lb dw), respectively. The porbeagle shark fishery was closed 
in 2015 due to overharvest in 2014. As of July 17, 2015, preliminary 
reported landings of blue sharks and pelagic sharks (other than 
porbeagle and blue sharks) were at less than 1 percent (0.5 mt dw) and 
10 percent (50.7 mt dw) of their 2015 quota levels, respectively. Given 
these pelagic species are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or 
have an unknown status, underharvests cannot be carried forward 
pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary 
estimates and consistent with the current regulations at Sec.  
635.27(b)(2), NMFS is not proposing to adjust 2016 quotas for blue 
sharks and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks), 
because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests 
cannot be carried over due to stock status.

Proposed Fishing Season Notification for the 2015 Atlantic Commercial 
Shark Fishing Season

    For each fishery, NMFS considered the seven ``Opening Commercial 
Fishing Season Criteria'' listed at Sec.  635.27(b)(3). The ``Opening 
Fishing Season'' criteria consider factors such as the available annual 
quotas for the current fishing season, estimated season length and 
average weekly catch rates from previous years, length of the season 
and fishermen participation in past years, impacts to accomplishing 
objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, 
temporal variation in behavior or biology target species (e.g., 
seasonal distribution or abundance), impact of catch rates in one 
region on another, and effects of delayed season openings.
    Specifically, NMFS examined the 2015 and previous fishing years' 
over- and/or underharvests of the different management groups to 
determine the effects of the 2016 proposed commercial quotas on 
fishermen across regional and sub-regional fishing areas. NMFS also 
examined the potential season length and previous catch rates to ensure 
that equitable fishing opportunities would be provided to fishermen in 
all areas. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal variation of the 
different species/management groups and the effects on fishing 
opportunities.

[[Page 49981]]

    In addition to considering the seven ``Opening Commercial Fishing 
Season Criteria,'' NMFS is also considering the revised commercial 
shark retention limit and other management measures in the final rule 
for Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP in determining the 
proposed opening dates for 2016.
    NMFS is proposing that the 2016 Atlantic commercial shark fishing 
season for all shark management groups in the northwestern Atlantic 
Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, open on or 
about January 1, 2016, after the publication of the final rule for this 
action. NMFS is also proposing to start the 2016 commercial shark 
fishing season with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip.
    In the Atlantic region, NMFS proposes opening the aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead shark management groups on or about January 1, 2016. 
This opening date takes into account all the criteria listed in Sec.  
635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the 
effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in 
another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to 
harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas. In 
addition, during the comment periods for the 2015 shark season proposed 
rule (79 FR 54252; September 11, 2014) and proposed rule for Amendment 
6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 2648; January 20, 2015), NMFS 
received comments from fishermen from all areas of the Atlantic 
requesting that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups open in January. In public comments during Amendment 6 to the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, constituents suggested a January opening 
date such that a portion of the quota could be harvested in the 
beginning of the year and then the trip limits be reduced such that the 
rest of the quota could be harvested at the end of the fishing year. As 
such, NMFS is intending to use the inseason trip limit adjustment 
criteria in the regulations per Sec.  635.24(a)(8) for the first time 
in 2016. The inseason trip limit adjustment criteria would allow more 
equitable fishing opportunities across the fishery. The proposed 
opening date with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip should allow fishermen to harvest 
some of the 2016 quota at the beginning of the year, when sharks are 
more prevalent in the South Atlantic area. If it appears that the quota 
is being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire 
region an opportunity to fish, NMFS would reduce the commercial 
retention limits taking into account Sec.  635.27(b)(3) and the 
inseason trip limit adjustment criteria listed in Sec.  635.24(a)(8), 
particularly the consideration of whether catch rates in one part of a 
region or sub-region are precluding vessels in another part of that 
region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a 
portion of the relevant quota (Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(vi)). If that occurs, 
NMFS would file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication 
notification of any inseason adjustments of the retention limit to an 
appropriate limit between 0 and 55 sharks per trip. NMFS would increase 
the commercial retention limits per trip at a later date to provide 
fishermen in the northern portion of the Atlantic region an opportunity 
to retain non-sandbar LCS.
    For example, the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups could open in January and NMFS could allow approximately 30 
percent of the quota to be retained. Once the quota reaches about 30 
percent, NMFS could reduce the retention limit to incidental levels (3 
LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another level 
calculated to reduce the harvest of LCS. If the quota continues to be 
harvested quickly, NMFS could reduce the retention limit to 0 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to ensure enough quota remains 
until later in the year. At some point later in the year, potentially 
equivalent to recent fishing season opening dates (e.g., July 1 or July 
15), NMFS could increase the retention limit to the default level (45 
LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another amount, 
as deemed appropriate after considering the inseason trip limit 
adjustment criteria. If the quota is being harvested too fast or too 
slow, NMFS could adjust the retention limit appropriately to ensure the 
fishery remains open most of the rest of the year.
    In the Gulf of Mexico region, opening the fishing season on or 
about January 1, 2016, for aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and 
hammerhead sharks with the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would provide, to the extent 
practicable, equitable opportunities across the fisheries management 
sub-regions. This opening date takes into account all the criteria 
listed in Sec.  635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criterion that NMFS 
consider the length of the season for the different species and/or 
management group in the previous years and whether fishermen were able 
to participate in the fishery in those years. Similar to the retention 
limit adjustment process described for the Atlantic region, NMFS may 
consider adjusting the retention limit in the Gulf of Mexico region 
throughout the season to ensure fishermen in all parts of the region 
have an opportunity to harvest aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and 
hammerhead sharks.
    All of the shark management groups would remain open until December 
31, 2016, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for 
any shark management group has reached, or is projected to reach, 80 
percent of the available quota. In the final rule for Amendment 6 to 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS revised non-linked and linked 
quotas and explained that the linked quotas are explicitly designed to 
concurrently close multiple shark management groups that are caught 
together to prevent incidental catch mortality from causing total 
allowable catch to be exceeded. If NMFS determines that a non-linked 
shark species or management group must be closed, then, consistent with 
Sec.  635.28(b)(2) for non-linked quotas (e.g., eastern Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip, western Gulf of Mexico blacktip, Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose 
SCS, or pelagic sharks), NMFS will file for publication with the Office 
of the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species, 
shark management group, region, and/or sub-region that will be 
effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective 
date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication 
of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available 
and the season is reopened, the fisheries for the shark species or 
management group are closed, even across fishing years.
    If NMFS determines that a linked shark species or management group 
must be closed, then, consistent with Sec.  635.28(b)(3) for linked 
quotas, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal 
Register a notice of closure for all of the species and/or management 
groups in a linked group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days 
from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure 
until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal 
Register, that additional quota is available and the season is 
reopened, the fisheries for all linked species and/or management groups 
are closed, even across fishing years. The linked quotas of the species 
and/or management groups are Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic 
aggregated LCS; eastern Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and eastern 
Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS; western Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks 
and western Gulf of Mexico

[[Page 49982]]

aggregated LCS; and Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS 
south of 34[deg] N. latitude. NMFS may close the fishery for the Gulf 
of Mexico blacktip shark before landings reach, or are expected to 
reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering the criteria listed 
at Sec.  635.28(b)(5).
    NMFS determined that the final rules to implement Amendment 2 to 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (June 24, 2008, 73 FR 35778; corrected on 
July 15, 2008, 73 FR 40658), Amendment 5a to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP (78 FR 40318; July 3, 2013), and Amendment 6 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP are consistent to the maximum extent practicable 
with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management 
program of coastal states on the Atlantic including the Gulf of Mexico 
and the Caribbean Sea. Pursuant to 15 CFR 930.41(a), NMFS provided the 
Coastal Zone Management Program of each coastal state a 60-day period 
to review the consistency determination and to advise the Agency of 
their concurrence. NMFS received concurrence with the consistency 
determinations from several states and inferred consistency from those 
states that did not respond within the 60-day time period. This 
proposed action to establish opening dates and adjust quotas for the 
2016 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries does 
not change the framework previously consulted upon; therefore, no 
additional consultation is required.

Request for Comments

    Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov and mail. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed 
rule by September 17, 2015 (see DATES and ADDRESSES). In addition to 
comments on the entire rule, NMFS is specifically requesting comments 
on the proposed 3-year adjustment for the blacknose shark quota in the 
Atlantic Region to account for the overharvest of blacknose sharks in 
2015. NMFS is proposing to spread the overharvested amount over a 3-
year period (2016 to 2018) to reduce impacts on the blacknose shark and 
non-blacknose SCS fisheries, which are linked fisheries in the Atlantic 
region south of 34[deg] N. latitude. Since the overharvested quota 
would be spread over 3 years in addition to the 2012 overharvest 
reduction which continues through 2018, the Atlantic blacknose shark 
quota would be reduced by 1.5 mt dw (3,221 lb dw) in 2016 and the 
adjusted quota would be 15.7 mt dw (34,700 lb dw). If additional 
overharvest occurs, the adjusted blacknose shark quota could be further 
reduced to account for this potential overharvest. If NMFS accounted 
for the full 2015 overharvest amount in the 2016 quota in addition to 
the 2012 overharvest reduction, the blacknose shark quota would be 
reduced by 3.4 mt dw (7,439 lb dw) and the adjusted quota would be 13.8 
mt dw (30,482 lb dw), which could result in an early fishery closure in 
the Atlantic region south of 34[deg] N. latitude and have adverse 
impacts for blacknose and non-blacknose fishermen and dealers. This 
second scenario would not have any 2015 overharvest impacts beyond 
2016.

Public Hearings

    Public hearings on this proposed rule are not currently scheduled. 
If you would like to request a public hearing, please contact 
Gu[yacute] DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone at 301-427-8503.

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, and other applicable law, subject 
to further consideration after public comment.
    These proposed specifications are exempt from review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, 
would have on small entities. The IRFA analysis follows.
    Section 603(b)(1) of the RFA requires Agencies to explain the 
purpose of the rule. This rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, is being 
proposed to establish the 2016 commercial shark fishing quotas and 
fishing seasons. Without this rule, the commercial shark fisheries 
would close on December 31, 2015, and would not open until another 
action was taken. This proposed rule would be implemented according to 
the regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments. Thus, NMFS expects few, if any, economic impacts to 
fishermen other than those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP and its amendments, based on the quota adjustments.
    Section 603(b)(2) of the RFA requires Agencies to explain the 
rule's objectives. The objectives of this rule are to: Adjust the 
baseline quotas for all Atlantic shark management groups based on any 
over- and/or underharvests from the previous fishing year(s) and to 
establish the opening dates of the various management groups in order 
to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across 
the fishing management regions and/or sub-regions while also 
considering the ecological needs of the different shark species.
    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Federal 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. The SBA size standards are $20.5 million for finfish 
fishing, $5.5 million for shellfish fishing, and $7.5 million for other 
marine fishing, for-hire businesses, and marinas (79 FR 33467; June 12, 
2014). NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities 
because they had average annual receipts of less than $20.5 million for 
finfish-harvesting. The commercial shark fisheries are comprised of 
fishermen who hold shark directed or incidental limited access permits 
and the related shark dealers, all of which NMFS considers to be small 
entities according to the size standards set by the SBA. The proposed 
rule would apply to the approximately 208 directed commercial shark 
permit holders, 255 incidental commercial shark permit holders, and 100 
commercial shark dealers as of July 2015. NMFS solicits public comment 
on the IRFA.
    This proposed rule does not contain any new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(4)). 
Similarly, this proposed rule would not conflict, duplicate, or overlap 
with other relevant Federal rules (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(5)). Fishermen, 
dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of 
international agreements as domestically implemented, domestic laws, 
and FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the High Seas Fishing 
Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered 
Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork 
Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.
    Section 603(c) of the RFA requires each IRFA to contain a 
description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which 
would accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and 
minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small 
entities. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C.603 (c)(1)-(4)) lists four 
general

[[Page 49983]]

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, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting 
requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected 
are considered small entities; therefore, there are no alternatives 
discussed that fall under the first, third, and fourth categories 
described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design 
standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of this 
rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act; therefore, there are no alternatives considered under the third 
category.
    This rulemaking does not establish management measures to be 
implemented, but rather implements previously adopted and analyzed 
measures with adjustments, as specified in the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP and its amendments and the Environmental Assessment (EA) that 
accompanied the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 76302; 
December 8, 2010). Thus, NMFS proposes to adjust quotas established and 
analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by 
subtracting the underharvest or adding the overharvest as allowable. 
Thus, NMFS has limited flexibility to modify the quotas in this rule, 
the impacts of which were analyzed in previous regulatory flexibility 
analyses.
    Based on the 2014 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 
2016 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total 
fleet revenues of $4,583,514 (see Table 2). For the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark management group, NMFS is proposing to increase the 
baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2015. The 
increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group 
could result in a $8,413 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that 
sub-region, while the increase for the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
shark management group could result in a $77,432 gain in total revenues 
for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose 
SCS management group, NMFS is proposing to reduce the baseline quota 
due to the overharvest in 2014. This would cause a potential loss in 
revenue of $7,571 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region. For the 
Atlantic blacknose shark management group, NMFS will continue to reduce 
the baseline quota through 2018 to account for overharvest in 2012 and 
is proposing to reduce the baseline quota for the next 3 years to 
account for overharvest in 2015. These reductions would cause a 
potential loss in revenue of $3,157 for the fleet in the Atlantic 
region.
    All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes 
in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments. The FRFAs for those amendments concluded that the economic 
impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark 
quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual 
rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting 
the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time.

                Table 2--Average Ex-Vessel Prices per lb dw for Each Shark Management Group, 2014
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Average  ex-    Average  ex-
                   Region                                  Species                 vessel  meat     vessel  fin
                                                                                       price           price
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gulf of Mexico.............................  Blacktip Shark.....................           $0.50           $9.53
                                             Aggregated LCS.....................            0.54           10.04
                                             Hammerhead Shark...................            0.48           10.21
                                             Non-Blacknose SCS..................            0.36            5.84
                                             Blacknose Shark....................            0.86            5.84
Atlantic...................................  Aggregated LCS.....................            0.75            4.19
                                             Hammerhead Shark...................            0.57            2.33
                                             Non-Blacknose SCS..................            0.74            4.00
                                             Blacknose Shark....................            0.78            4.00
No Region..................................  Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated             0.58            7.68
                                              LCS).
                                             Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar                0.69           10.12
                                              only).
                                             Blue shark.........................            0.67            2.34
                                             Porbeagle shark....................            1.41            2.34
                                             Other Pelagic sharks...............            1.41            2.34
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For this rule, NMFS also reviewed the criteria at Sec.  
635.27(b)(3) to determine when opening each fishery would provide 
equitable opportunities for fishermen while also considering the 
ecological needs of the different species. The opening of the fishing 
season could vary depending upon the available annual quota, catch 
rates, and number of fishing participants during the year. For the 2016 
fishing season, NMFS is proposing to open all of the shark management 
groups on the effective date of the final rule for this action 
(expected to be on or about January 1). The direct and indirect 
economic impacts would be neutral on a short- and long-term basis, 
because NMFS is not proposing to change the opening dates of these 
fisheries from the status quo, except for aggregated LCS and hammerhead 
sharks in the Atlantic.
    Opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups 
in the Atlantic region on the effective date of the final rule for this 
action (expected to be on or about January 1) would result in short-
term, direct, moderate, beneficial economic impacts, as fishermen and 
dealers in the southern portion of the Atlantic region would be able to 
fish for aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks starting on or about 
January. These fishermen would be able to fish earlier in the 2016 
fishing season compared to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 fishing 
seasons, which did not start until June or July. These fishermen 
commented during the public comment

[[Page 49984]]

period for the past shark specification rulemakings and Amendment 6 to 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP that they felt that opening the fishery 
in July was not fair to them because, by July, the sharks have migrated 
north and are no longer available. With the implementation of the HMS 
electronic reporting system in 2013, NMFS now monitors the quota on a 
more real-time basis compared to the paper reporting system that was in 
place before 2013. This ability, along with the inseason adjustment 
criteria in Sec.  635.24(a)(8), should allow NMFS the flexibility to 
further provide equitable fishing opportunities for fishermen across 
all regions, to the extent practicable. Depending on how quickly the 
quota is being harvested, NMFS could reduce the retention limits to 
ensure that fishermen farther north have sufficient quota for a fishery 
later in the 2016 fishing season. The direct impacts to shark fishermen 
in the Atlantic region of reducing the trip limit would depend on the 
needed reduction in the trip limit and the timing of such a reduction. 
Therefore, such a reduction in the trip limit is only anticipated to 
have minor adverse direct economic impacts to fishermen in the short-
term; long-term impacts are not anticipated as these reductions would 
not be permanent.
    In the northern portion of the Atlantic region, a potential January 
1 opening for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups, with inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure quota is 
available later in the season, would have direct, minor, beneficial 
economic impacts in the short-term for fishermen as they would 
potentially have access to the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
quotas earlier than in past seasons. Fishermen in this area have stated 
that, depending on the weather, some aggregated LCS species might be 
available to retain in January. Thus, fishermen would be able to target 
or retain aggregated LCS while targeting non-blacknose SCS. There would 
be indirect, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the short- and long-
term for shark dealers and other entities that deal with shark products 
in this region as they would also have access to aggregated LCS 
products earlier than in past seasons. Thus, opening the aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead shark management groups in January and using inseaon 
trip limit adjustments to ensure a fishery later in the year in 2016 
would cause beneficial cumulative economic impacts, since it would 
allow for a more equitable distribution of the quotas among 
constituents in this region, which was the original intent of 
Amendments 2 and 6.

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

    Dated: August 6, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-19915 Filed 8-17-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P