Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2017 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season, 59167-59177 [2016-20505]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 12014, 2 T.W., Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, requests to establish a tolerance in 40 CFR part 180.626 for residues of the fungicide, prothioconazole in or on cotton, gin by-products at 4.0 parts per million (ppm). The liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) is used to measure and evaluate the chemical prothioconazole. Contact: RD. 5. PP 6F8461. (EPA–HQ–OPP–2016– 0255). Bayer CropScience, P.O. Box 12014, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, requests to establish a tolerance in 40 CFR part 180 for residues of the insecticide spirotetramat in or on sugar beet, root at 0.15 ppm; and sugar beet, molasses at 0.20 ppm. The high pressure liquid chromatography/triple stage quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC/MS/ MS) analytical method is used to measure and evaluate the chemical spirotetramat. Contact: RD. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Amended Tolerances 1. PP 5F8400. (EPA–HQ–OPP–2015– 0695). Isagro S.P.A. (d/b/a Isagro USA, Inc.), 430 Davis Drive, Suite 240, Morrisville, NC 27560, requests to amend the tolerances in 40 CFR 180.557 for residues of the fungicide tetraconazole in or on beet sugar, dried pulp at 0.20 parts per million (ppm), beet sugar, molasses at 0.25 ppm, and beet sugar, root at 0.15 ppm. The capillary gas chromatography with electron capture detector (GC/ECD)) as well as a QuEChERS multi-residue method (LC/MS–MS detection) is used to measure and evaluate the chemical tetraconazole. Contact: RD. 2. PP 6F8465. (EPA–HQ–OPP–2016– 0307). Nichino America, Inc., 4550 New Linden Hill Road, Suite 501, Wilmington, DE 19808, requests to amend the tolerances in 40 CFR 180.566 for residues of the insecticide fenpyroximate in or on fruit, citrus, Group 10–10 at 1.0 parts per million (ppm), citrus dried pulp at 4.0 ppm, and citrus oil at 14 ppm. The high performance liquid chromatography using tandem mass spectrometric detection (LC/MS/MS) is used to measure and evaluate the chemical fenpyroximate and the M–1 Metabolite. Contact: RD. New Tolerance Exemptions 1. PP 6F8444. (EPA–HQ–OPP–2016– 0348). Marrone Bio Innovations, 1540 Drew Ave., Davis, CA 95618, requests to establish an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance in 40 CFR part 180 for residues of the bactericide and fungicide Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain F727 in or on all food commodities. The petitioner VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 believes no analytical method is needed because when used as proposed, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain F727 would not result in residues that are of toxicological concern. Contact: BPPD. 2. PP 6F8459. (EPA–HQ–OPP–2016– 0259). Spring Trading Co., 203 Dogwood Trl., Magnolia, TX 77354 (on behalf of CH Biotech R&D Co. Ltd., No. 121 Xian An Rd., Xianxi Township, Changhua County 50741 Taiwan R.O.C.), requests to establish an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance in 40 CFR part 180 for residues of the plant regulator 1-Triacontanol in or on raw agricultural commodity growing crops on in products to treat animals. The petitioner believes no analytical method is needed because the 10X standard safety factor is unnecessary for 1Triacontanol since it is a compound found in plant cuticle waxes and beeswax. Contact: BPPD. 3. PP IN–10851. (EPA–HQ–OPP– 2016–0378). Technology Sciences Group, 1150 18th Street, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036, on behalf of Jeneil Biosurfactant Company, 400 N. Dekora Woods Blvd., Saukville, WI 53080, requests to establish an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of isoamyl acetate (CAS Reg. No. 123–92–2) when used as an inert ingredient (solvent) in pesticide formulations applied to growing crops and raw agricultural commodities after harvest under 40 CFR 180.910. The petitioner believes no analytical method is needed because the request is for an exemption from the requirements of a pesticide tolerance. Contact: RD. Authority: 21 U.S.C. 346a. Dated: August 16, 2016. Michael Goodis, Acting Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs. [FR Doc. 2016–20653 Filed 8–26–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 160620545–6545–01] RIN 0648–XE696 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2017 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 59167 Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: This proposed rule would establish quotas, opening dates, and retention limits for the 2017 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries. Quotas would be adjusted as required or allowable based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2016 and previous fishing seasons. In addition, NMFS proposes season opening dates and commercial retention limits 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 28, 2016. An operator-assisted, public conference call and webinar will be held on September 22, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., EST. ADDRESSES: The conference call information is phone number (888) 635– 5002; participant passcode 5315520. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: https://noaa events2.webex.com/noaaevents2/ onstage/g.php?MTID=ea9172a6c190 7b6efc462ce9117952e21, event password: NOAA. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. Participants that have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to view the webinar. You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2016–0096, 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-2016-0096, 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 SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 59168 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 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). Presentation materials and copies of the supporting documents are available from the HMS Management Division Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ ´ sfa/hms/ or by contacting Guy DuBeck by phone at 301–427–8503. ´ 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. 2017 Proposed Quotas This proposed rule would adjust the quota levels for the different shark stocks and management groups for the 2017 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season based on over- and underharvests that occurred during 2016 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(b). 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 up 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 15, 2016. In the final rule, NMFS will adjust the quotas as needed based on dealer reports received as of a date in mid-October 2016. Thus, all of the 2017 proposed quotas for the respective stocks and management groups will be subject to further adjustment after NMFS considers the mid-October dealer reports. All dealer reports that are received after the October date will be used to adjust the 2018 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 2016 underharvests cannot be carried over to the 2017 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 2017 proposed quotas would be equal to the applicable base quota minus any overharvests that occurred in 2016 and/or previous fishing seasons, as applicable. Because the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group and smoothhound shark management groups in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic regions have been determined not to be overfished and to have no overfishing occurring, available underharvest (up to 50 percent of the base quota) from the 2016 fishing season for these management groups may be applied to the respective 2017 quotas, and NMFS proposes to do so. The proposed 2017 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. TABLE 1—2017 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 15, 2016; final quotas are subject to change based on landings as of October 2016. 1 mt = 2,204.6 lb.] Management group 2016 annual quota Preliminary 2016 landings 1 Adjustments 2 2017 base annual quota 2017 proposed annual quota (A) Region or sub-region (B) (C) (D) (D + C) 10.9 mt dw (23,961 lb dw) 3. ............................ 25.1 mt dw (55,439 lb dw). 36.0 mt dw (79,400 lb dw). 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 231.5 mt dw (510,261 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw). 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). 336.4 mt dw (741,627). 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 331.8 mt dw (730,803 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw). 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). Blacktip Sharks .. 28.9 mt dw (63,189 lb dw). 18.0 mt dw (39,584 lb dw). Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Blacktip Sharks .. 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 266.5 mt dw (587,396 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw). 107.3 mt dw (236,603 lb dw). 336.4 mt dw (741,627). 42.9 mt dw (93,593 lb dw). Western Gulf of Mexico ... jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Eastern Gulf of Mexico .... Gulf of Mexico .................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Smoothhound Sharks. 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 6.7 mt dw ............................ (14,865 lb dw). 166.2 mt dw 100.3 mt dw (366497 lb dw). (220,542 lb dw) 3. 66.1 mt dw ............................ (145,624 lb dw). 16.8 mt dw ............................ (37,063 lb dw). 41.0 mt dw ............................ (90,320 lb dw). 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 168.2 mt dw (370,814 lb dw). Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 Season opening dates January 1, 2017. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 59169 TABLE 1—2017 PROPOSED QUOTAS AND OPENING DATES FOR THE ATLANTIC SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUPS— Continued [All quotas and landings are dressed weight (dw), in metric tons (mt), unless specified otherwise. Table includes landings data as of July 15, 2016; final quotas are subject to change based on landings as of October 2016. 1 mt = 2,204.6 lb.] Atlantic ............................. No regional quotas .......... Management group Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N. lat. only). Smoothhound Sharks. Non-Sandbar LCS Research. Sandbar Shark Research. Blue Sharks ....... Porbeagle Sharks. Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue. 2016 annual quota Preliminary 2016 landings 1 Adjustments 2 2017 base annual quota 2017 proposed annual quota (A) Region or sub-region (B) (C) (D) (D + C) 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 15.7 mt dw (34,653 lb dw). 42.0 mt dw (92,692 lb dw). ............................ 9.6 mt dw (21,122 lb dw). 40.4 mt dw (89,048 lb dw). ............................ 12.2 mt dw (26,916 lb dw). ............................ 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) 4. 1,201.7 mt dw (2,647,725 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) 183.2 mt dw (403,795 lb dw). 7.2 mt dw (15,829 lb dw). 600.9 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw). ............................ 34.9 mt dw (77,050 lb dw). ............................ 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) ............................ 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) ............................ 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). 54.1 mt dw (119,336 lb dw). ............................ 1,201.7 mt dw (2,647,725 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw). 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). 1,802.6 mt dw (3,971,587 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw). 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). ............................ Season opening dates January 1, 2017. January 1, 2017. 1 Landings are from January 1, 2016, through July 15, 2016, and are subject to change. adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base quota. 3 This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2016. This proposed rule would increase the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 111.2 mt dw (244,504 lb dw). Since any underharvest would be divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 10.9 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the underharvest, while the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 100.3 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the underharvest. 4 Based on overharvest in 2012 and 2015, NMFS had previously reduced the Atlantic blacknose shark base annual quota by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb dw) each year through 2018. However, in 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). NMFS is proposing to use the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining overharvest amount of 3.0 mt dw (6,536 lb dw) and not to adjust the 2017 Atlantic blacknose shark base annual quota. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 2 Underharvest 1. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Blacktip Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for blacktip sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 36.0 mt dw (79,400 lb dw) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 331.8 mt dw (730,803 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings for blacktip sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 62 percent (18.0 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (28.9 mt dw), while the blacktip sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were also at 62 percent (166.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (266.5 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 quota to date, and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region fishery was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602). 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 blacktip sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2017 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Any underharvest would be split based on the sub-regional quota percentages of 9.8 percent for eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks and 90.2 percent for western Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks (§ 635.27(b)(1)(ii)). To date, the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group was underharvested by 111.2 mt dw (244,504 lb dw). Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 10.9 mt dw (111.2 mt dw underharvest in 2016 * 9.8 percent = 10.9 mt dw eastern sub-region underharvest) and increase the 2017 western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 100.3 mt dw (111.2 mt dw underharvest in 2016 * 90.2 percent = 100.3 mt dw western sub-region underharvest). Thus, the proposed eastern sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 36.0 PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 mt dw and the proposed western subregional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 331.8 mt dw. 2. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Aggregated LCS in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2017 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 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings for aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 50 percent (42.5 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (85.5 mt dw), while the aggregated LCS in the western Gulf of Mexico subregion were at 92 percent (66.1 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (72.0 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 quota to date, and the western aggregated LCS sub-region fishery was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602). Given the unknown status of E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 59170 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 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 proposes that the 2017 quotas for aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 3. Proposed 2017 Quota for the Aggregated LCS in the Atlantic Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region is 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, the aggregated LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings indicate that only 25 percent of the quota has been harvested. 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 4. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region In the Gulf of Mexico, hammerhead shark quotas are divided into two subregions: Western and eastern. The 2017 proposed commercial quotas for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region and western Gulf of Mexico sub-region are 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) and 11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw), respectively. As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 50 percent (6.7 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (13.4 mt dw), while landings of hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 141 percent (16.8 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (11.9 mt dw). Even though the reported landings in the western Gulf of Mexico exceed the 2016 sub-regional quota, which was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602), the total regional Gulf of Mexico reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 quota to date. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 Consistent with the regulations implemented through Amendment 6 to the Consolidated HMS FMP, subregional quota overages (e.g., western Gulf of Mexico sub-region) are only deducted in the next year if the total regional quota (e.g., Gulf of Mexico region) is also exceeded. Thus, pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(i), at this time, because the overall regional quota has not been overharvested, NMFS is not proposing to adjust the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region quota to account for the overharvest. However, because the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is open and quota is still available in that sub-region, NMFS expects that landings will continue to occur. If landings in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region exceed 8.5 mt dw (18,659 lb dw) (i.e., the remainder of the total regional Gulf of Mexico quota), then NMFS would reduce the western Gulf of Mexico subregion quota to account for overharvests, pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(i). If the quota is not fully harvested, given the overfished status of hammerhead sharks, NMFS would not carry forward any underharvests, pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), at this time, NMFS proposes that the 2017 quotas for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. However, as noted above, if landings in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region exceed 8.5 mt dw, NMFS would adjust the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region quota accordingly in the final rule. 5. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Atlantic Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic region is 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). Currently, the hammerhead shark fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings as of July 15, 2016, indicate that only 35 percent of the quota has been harvested. 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 6. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Research LCS and Sandbar Sharks Within the Shark Research Fishery The 2017 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 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of research LCS were at 14 percent (7.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (50.0 mt dw), and sandbar shark reported landings were at 39 percent (34.9 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (27.1 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 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 2017 quotas. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2017 quota in the shark research fishery be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 7. Proposed 2017 Quota for the NonBlacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region is 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 38 percent (41.0 mt dw) of their 2016 quota level (107.3 mt dw) in the Gulf of Mexico region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 quota to date. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS management group, 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 8. Proposed 2016 Quota for the NonBlacknose SCS in the Atlantic Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region is 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 15 percent (40.4 mt dw) of their 2016 quota level (264.1 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. Though reported landings had not yet reached or exceeded the 2016 quota, the fishery south of 34° N. latitude was closed on May 29, 2016 (81 FR 18541), due to the quota linkage with blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region. The non-blacknose SCS fishery north of 34° N. latitude remains open at this time. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Atlantic non-blacknose SCS management group, 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. 9. Proposed 2017 Quota for the Blacknose Sharks in the Atlantic Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region is 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of blacknose sharks were at 78 percent (12.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (15.7 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. The fishery was closed on May 29, 2016 (81 FR 18541). In the final rule establishing quotas for the 2014 shark season (78 FR 70500; November 26, 2013), NMFS spread out the 2012 overharvest (2.5 mt dw; 5,555 lb dw) of the blacknose shark quota across 5 years (2014 through 2018) in the Atlantic region by 0.5 mt dw (1,111 lb dw) each year. This approach for spreading large overharvests over several years up to 5 years is consistent with the approach adopted in Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (see § 635.27(b)(2)(i)), which determined to spread out the pay back over five years depending on the magnitude of the overharvest and the potential impact on the fishery (73 FR 40658; July 15, 2008). In 2015, the blacknose shark quota was overharvested by 3.0 mt dw (6,471 lb dw). In the final rule establishing quotas for the 2016 shark season (80 FR 74999; December 1, 2015), NMFS spread this 2015 overharvest amount over 3 years at 1.0 mt dw (2,157 lb dw) each year from VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 2016 through 2018. Thus, in the final rule establishing quotas for the 2016 shark season, NMFS decided to reduce the blacknose shark base annual quota by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb dw), based on the 2012 and 2015 overharvest amount, in 2016, 2017, and 2018. On May 29, 2016, NMFS closed the Atlantic blacknose shark management group because the quota was projected to exceed 80 percent. However, as of July 15, 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). This underharvest (3.5 mt dw) is greater than the remaining amount of the 2012 and 2015 overharvests (3.0 mt dw)(6,636 lb dw). As such, NMFS is proposing to use the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining 2012 and 2015 overharvest. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2), because blacknose sharks have been declared to be overfished with overfishing occurring in the Atlantic region, NMFS could not carry forward the remaining underharvest (0.5 mt dw). Therefore, NMFS proposes that the 2017 Atlantic blacknose shark quota be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment. 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 are prohibited. 10. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Smoothhound Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, there are no preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. Gulf of Mexico smoothhound 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 smoothhound sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2017 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests in 2016 as allowed. The proposed 2017 adjusted base annual quota for Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) (336.4 mt dw annual base quota + 168.2 mt dw 2016 underharvest = 504.6 mt dw 2017 adjusted annual quota). PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 59171 11. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Smoothhound Sharks in the Atlantic Region The 2017 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region is 1,802.6 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks were at 15 percent (183.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (1,201.7 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. Atlantic smoothhound 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 smoothhound sharks within the Atlantic region therefore could be applied to the 2017 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 Atlantic smoothhound shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests in 2016 as allowed. The proposed 2017 adjusted base annual quota for Atlantic smoothhound sharks is 1,802.6 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw) (1,201.7 mt dw annual base quota + 600.9 mt dw 2016 underharvest = 1,802.6 mt dw 2017 adjusted annual quota). 12. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Pelagic Sharks The 2017 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. As of July 15, 2016, there are no preliminary reported landings of blue sharks and porbeagle sharks, while preliminary reported landings of pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) were at 11 percent (54.1 mt dw) of their 2016 quota level (488.0 mt dw). Given that 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 proposes that the 2017 quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status. Proposed Opening Dates and Retention Limits for the 2017 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Season For each fishery, NMFS considered the seven ‘‘Opening Commercial Fishing E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 59172 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 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, as described above and below, NMFS examined the 2016 and previous fishing years’ over- and/or underharvests of the different management groups to determine the effects of the 2017 proposed commercial quotas on the shark stocks and fishermen across regional and subregional fishing areas. NMFS also examined the potential season length and previous catch rates to ensure, to the extent practicable, that equitable fishing opportunities 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. As described below, NMFS also considered the six ‘‘Inseason trip limit adjustment criteria’’ listed at § 635.24(a)(8) for directed shark limited access permit holders intending to land LCS other than sandbar sharks. Those criteria are: The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area or region, to date, based on dealer reports; the catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes, to date, based on dealer reports; estimated date of fishery closure based on when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the realized catch rates; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based knowledge; and/or 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 relevant quota. After considering these criteria, NMFS is proposing that the 2017 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, 2017, after the publication of the final rule for this action (Table 2). NMFS is also proposing to start the 2017 commercial shark fishing season with the commercial retention limit of 30 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, and 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region (Table 2). However, at the time of writing this proposed rule, some management groups remain open and, for those management groups that are already closed, landings are still being calculated and checked for quality control and assurance. Thus, NMFS may implement different opening dates and commercial retention limits in the final rule if there are underharvested quotas or quota exceedances in 2016 that are not accounted for in this proposed rule. TABLE 2—QUOTA LINKAGES, SEASON OPENING DATES, AND COMMERCIAL RETENTION LIMIT BY REGIONAL OR SUBREGIONAL SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP Region or sub-region Management group Quota linkages Season opening dates Commercial retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders (inseason adjustments are possible) Eastern Gulf of Mexico .. Blacktip Sharks ............ Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Blacktip Sharks ............ Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Smoothhound Sharks .. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Not Linked .... Linked ........... January 1, 2017 ........... 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Not Linked .... Linked ........... January 1, 2017 ........... 30 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Not Linked .... January 1, 2017 ........... N/A. Not Linked .... Linked ........... January 1, 2017 ........... January 1, 2017 ........... Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N. lat. only). Smoothhound Sharks .. Non-Sandbar LCS Research. Sandbar Shark Research. Blue Sharks .................. Porbeagle Sharks. Linked (South of 34° N. lat. only). January 1, 2017 ........... N/A. 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. If quota is landed quickly (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS anticipates an inseason reduction (e.g., to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip), then an inseason increase to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2017. N/A. Not Linked .... Linked ........... January 1, 2017 ........... January 1, 2017 ........... N/A. N/A. Not Linked .... January 1, 2017 ........... N/A. Western Gulf of Mexico Gulf of Mexico ................ jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Atlantic ........................... No regional quotas ......... VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 59173 TABLE 2—QUOTA LINKAGES, SEASON OPENING DATES, AND COMMERCIAL RETENTION LIMIT BY REGIONAL OR SUBREGIONAL SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP—Continued Region or sub-region Management group Quota linkages Season opening dates Commercial retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders (inseason adjustments are possible) jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue. In the Gulf of Mexico region, we are opening the fishing season on or about January 1, 2017, for the aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and hammerhead shark management groups with the commercial retention limits of 30 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark permit holders in the western sub-region—and 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark permit holders in the eastern sub-region. This would provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fisheries management sub-regions. This opening date takes into account all the season opening criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criteria that NMFS consider the length of the season for the different species and/or management group in the previous years (§ 635.27(b)(3)(ii) and (iii)) and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years (§ 635.27(b)(3)(v)). The proposed commercial retention limits take into account the criteria listed in § 635.24 (a)(8), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes based on dealer reports to date (§ 635.24(a)(8)(ii)). 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 (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(v) and § 635.24(a)(8)(ii), (v), and (vi)). In 2016, the quota in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region was harvested quickly and NMFS closed these management groups on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602) (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(i), (ii), and (iii) and § 635.24(a)(8)(i) and (iii)). As such, in 2017, NMFS is proposing a slightly lower trip limit in order to slow the harvest level and ensure the management group is open until at least April 2017, which is when the State of Louisiana closes state waters to shark fishing and when that State has asked that we close Federal shark fisheries to VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 match state regulations if quotas are limited (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(vii) and 635.24(a)(8)(iii)). In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, NMFS is proposing the same commercial trip limit for these management groups that was set in 2016. Currently, the aggregated LCS, blacktip shark, and hammerhead shark management groups are still open in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(i), (ii), (iii), and (v), and § 635.24(a)(8)(i), (ii), (iii), (v), and (vi)). If those fisheries close, and after the overall preliminary landings for the Gulf of Mexico region are estimated for the 2016 fishing season, NMFS could make changes to the 2017 opening dates and commercial retention limits if necessary to ensure equitable fishing opportunities. In the Atlantic region, NMFS proposes opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups on or about January 1, 2017. This opening date is the same date that these management groups opened in 2016, although that decision later attracted significant attention and opposition from shark advocates, particularly within the scuba diving community, with respect to what they argue to be a lemon shark aggregation site (see discussion below). As described below, this opening date also 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 (§ 635.27(b)(3)(v)). In 2016, the data indicate that an opening date of January 1 provided a reasonable opportunity for every part of each region to harvest a portion of the available quotas (§ 635.27(b)(3)(i)) while accounting for variations in seasonal distribution of the different species in the management groups (§ 635.27(b)(3)(iv)). Furthermore, in 2016, the fishing season for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups remains currently open with 25 percent of the quotas available as of July 15, 2016. Because PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the quotas in 2017 are proposed to be the same as the quotas in 2016, NMFS expects that the season lengths and therefore the participation of various fishermen throughout the region, would be similar in 2017 (§ 635.27(b)(3)(ii) and (iii)). Based on the recent performance of the fishery, the January 1 opening date appears to be meet the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments ((§ 635.27(b)(3)(vi)). Therefore, there is no information that indicates changing the opening date is necessary. After the final rule for the 2016 shark season published on December 1, 2015 (80 FR 74999), and well outside the close of the public comment period for that rule (September 17, 2015), NMFS received extensive public comments opposing the January 1 opening date (for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups) because of their concerns about a lemon shark aggregation site off the east coast of Florida which has become a popular local shark scuba diving site. Commenters requested that NMFS change the opening date to the summer months (e.g., June or July) to protect this lemon shark aggregation. NMFS also received a petition to postpone the opening date in the Atlantic region signed by more than 18,000 people. NMFS responded to the petition as a petition for emergency rulemaking but did not change the January 1 start date in response. Based on these comments and the petition, NMFS held a public conference call on December 11, 2015, to answer public questions regarding the Atlantic commercial shark fishery. NMFS also gave a presentation on the biology and current stock status of lemon sharks at the March 2016 HMS Advisory Panel meeting. Data presented at the Advisory Panel meeting indicated that lemon sharks may be more productive than previously thought, the commercial shark fishery is not having a significant impact on lemon sharks in the aggregation area or elsewhere, and current data on relative abundance suggest population is stable. Landings of lemon sharks to date in the Atlantic region are approximately 4,855 mt dw (2.2 lb dw), which are less than the E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 59174 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules average landings over the past 6 years (see the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(iv), (v), and (vi) and § 635.24(a)(8)(ii), (iv), and (v)). There is no evidence that these landings have negatively impacted the lemon shark population according to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center scientists. Furthermore, NMFS considered information in the comments received on the December 2015 final rule in proposing a start date for 2017 and has determined they presented no new or additional information that was not previously considered by the agency that would warrant a different opening date. Therefore, NMFS is proposing the same opening dates for the 2017 fishing season. This opening date meets the management objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments (see the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(vi)) particularly in regard to ensuring fishermen throughout the region have reasonable opportunities to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management group quotas (see the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(v) and (vii)) while also considering important scientific information on the seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns of the different species within the management group (see the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(ii)). As described above, the fishery has performed well, and in accordance with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, under the January 1 opening date. Therefore, there is no information suggesting that changing the opening date is necessary. However, NMFS will consider through this rulemaking any comments on the opening date and any new information on lemon sharks (or other species) not previously considered, and may in the final rule, adjust the opening dates if warranted. The Notice of Availability for Amendment 10 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, which should be publishing soon, will address essential fish habitat and potential habitat areas of particular concern for HMS species, including lemon sharks. In addition, for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region, NMFS is proposing that the commercial retention trip limit for directed shark limited access permit holders on the proposed opening date be 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This retention limit should allow fishermen to harvest some of the 2017 quota at the beginning of the year when sharks are more prevalent in the South Atlantic area (see the criteria at § 635.24(a)(3)(i), (ii), (v), and (vi)). As was done in 2016, if it appears that the quota is being VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 harvested too quickly (i.e., about 20 percent) to allow directed fishermen throughout the entire region an opportunity to fish and ensure enough quota remains until later in the year, NMFS would reduce the commercial retention limits to incidental levels (3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another level calculated to reduce the harvest of LCS 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 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. If either situation occurs, NMFS would publish in the Federal Register notification of any inseason adjustments of the retention limit to an appropriate limit of sharks per trip. In 2016, NMFS reduced the retention limit to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks on April 2, 2016 (81 FR 18541) when hammerhead shark landings reached approximately 24 percent of the hammerhead quota, and did not need to reduce it further. Also, as was done in 2016, NMFS will consider increasing the commercial retention limits per trip at a later date if necessary to provide fishermen in the northern portion of the Atlantic region an opportunity to retain non-sandbar LCS after considering the appropriate inseason adjustment criteria. Similarly, at some point later in the year (e.g., July 15), potentially equivalent to how the 2016 fishing season operated, NMFS may consider increasing 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 quickly or too slowly, NMFS could adjust the retention limit appropriately to ensure the fishery remains open most of the rest of the year. Since the fishery is still open with majority of the quota available, NMFS will monitor the rest of the fishing season and could make changes to the proposed 2017 opening date if necessary to ensure equitable fishing opportunities. All of the shark management groups would remain open until December 31, 2017, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for any shark management group have reached, or are PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 projected to reach, 80 percent of the available quota. 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, pelagic sharks, or the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks), NMFS will publish in 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. For the blacktip shark management group, regulations at § 635.28(b)(5)(i) through (v) authorize NMFS to close the management group before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota after considering the following criteria and other relevant factors: Season length based on available sub-regional quota and average sub-regional catch rates; variability in regional and/or subregional seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns; effects on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; amount of remaining shark quotas in the relevant sub-region; and regional and/or sub-regional catch rates of the relevant shark species or management groups. 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 publish in 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 aggregated LCS; and Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 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). Request for Comments Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http:// www.regulations.gov by mail, and at a public hearing. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule by September 27, 2016 (see DATES and ADDRESSES). In addition to comments on the entire proposed rule, NMFS is specifically requesting comments on the proposed accounting of the 2012 and 2015 overharvest of Atlantic blacknose sharks from the 2016 underharvest. As described above, in 2016, NMFS closed the Atlantic blacknose shark management group once the quota was projected to exceed 80 percent. As of July 15, 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). This underharvest (3.5 mt dw) is greater than the remaining amounts of the 2012 and 2015 overharvests (3.0 mt dw) (6,636 lb dw). As such, NMFS is proposing to use the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining 2012 and 2015 overharvest. This proposal would reduce potential negative social and economic impacts on the blacknose shark and nonblacknose SCS fisheries, which are linked fisheries in the Atlantic region south of 34° N. latitude while maintaining the ecological benefits of the current blacknose shark rebuilding plan. If NMFS continued to spread the overharvest from 2012 and 2015 through 2018, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota in 2017 would be reduced by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb dw) in 2017 and the 2017 adjusted quota would be 15.7 mt dw (34,653 lb dw). However, if NMFS uses the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining overharvest 2012 and 2015 overharvest, the blacknose shark quota would not be reduced in 2017 or 2018 as a result of the 2012 and 2015 overharvests. As a result of this proposal, the 2017 annual base quota would be 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw), which could result in the fishery remaining open longer in the Atlantic region south of 34° N. latitude and have social and economic beneficial impacts for blacknose and non-blacknose fishermen and dealers. During the comment period, NMFS will hold one conference call and webinar for this proposed rule. NMFS is requesting comments on any of the measures or analyses described in this proposed rule. The conference call and VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 webinar will be held on September 22, 2016, from 2–4 p.m. EST. Please see the DATES and ADDRESSES headings for more information. The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants on phone conferences to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules (e.g., all comments are to be directed to the agency on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; attendees may not interrupt one another; etc.). NMFS representative(s) will structure the meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject(s). Attendees are expected to respect the ground rules, and those that do not may be removed from the conference call. 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. 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), Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50073; August 18, 2015), and Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 73128; November 24, 2015) 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 as required under the Coastal Zone Management Act. 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 2017 fishing season PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 59175 for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries does not change the framework previously consulted upon; therefore, no additional consultation is required. 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 2017 commercial shark fishing quotas, retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2016, 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 overand/or underharvests from the previous fishing year(s); establish the opening dates of the various management groups; and establish the retention limits for the blacktip shark, aggregated large coastal shark, and hammerhead shark management groups in order to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fishing management regions and/or subregions while also considering the ecological needs of the different shark species. Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires agencies to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA’s regulations for an agency to develop its own industry-specific size standards after consultation with Advocacy and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use by E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 59176 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of the agency’s obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the Federal Register (FR), which NMFS did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). In this final rule effective on July 1, 2016, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing. As of July 2016, the proposed rule would apply to the approximately 224 directed commercial shark permit holders, 272 incidental commercial shark permit holders, 89 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 108 commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 496 directed and incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 23 permit holders landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 88 landed sharks in the Atlantic region. Of the 89 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 49 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and none landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. NMFS has determined that the proposed rule would not likely affect any small governmental jurisdictions. 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 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 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 2015 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 2017 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total fleet revenues of $8,265,467 (see Table 3). For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS is proposing to increase the baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2016. The increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $24,141 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 $222,196 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS is proposing to increase the baseline quotas due to the underharvest in 2016. This would cause a potential gain in revenue of $270,323 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region and a potential gain in revenue of $965,095 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 final regulatory flexibility analyses 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. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS TABLE 3—AVERAGE EX-VESSEL PRICES PER LB DW FOR EACH SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP, 2015 Average ex-vessel meat price Region Species Gulf of Mexico .............................................................. Blacktip Shark ............................................................... Aggregated LCS ........................................................... Hammerhead Shark ..................................................... Non-Blacknose SCS ..................................................... Smoothhound Shark * ................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 $0.51 0.55 0.61 0.35 0.65 Average ex-vessel fin price $9.95 9.96 11.98 6.72 1.58 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Proposed Rules 59177 TABLE 3—AVERAGE EX-VESSEL PRICES PER LB DW FOR EACH SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP, 2015—Continued Average ex-vessel meat price Region Species Atlantic .......................................................................... Aggregated LCS ........................................................... Hammerhead Shark ..................................................... Non-Blacknose SCS ..................................................... Blacknose Shark ........................................................... Smoothhound Shark * ................................................... Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated LCS) ................ Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar only) ...................... Blue shark ..................................................................... Porbeagle shark ........................................................... Other Pelagic sharks .................................................... No Region ..................................................................... Average ex-vessel fin price 0.80 0.65 0.73 0.97 0.65 0.68 0.76 0.60 1.50 1.50 4.73 10.25 4.36 4.00 1.58 9.24 10.62 2.93 2.93 2.93 * Ex-vessel prices for smoothhound sharks come from HMS dealers who submitted landings data voluntarily before it was a requirement on March 15, 2016. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS For this proposed rule, NMFS also reviewed the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3) to determine when opening each fishery would provide equitable opportunities for fishermen, to the extent practicable, while also considering the ecological needs of the different species. The opening dates of the fishing season(s) could vary depending upon the available annual quota, catch rates, and number of fishing participants during VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:53 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 the year. For the 2017 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. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 22, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–20505 Filed 8–26–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 167 (Monday, August 29, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 59167-59177]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-20505]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 160620545-6545-01]
RIN 0648-XE696


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2017 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 quotas, opening dates, and 
retention limits for the 2017 fishing season for the Atlantic 
commercial shark fisheries. Quotas would be adjusted as required or 
allowable based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during 
2016 and previous fishing seasons. In addition, NMFS proposes season 
opening dates and commercial retention limits 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 28, 2016. An 
operator-assisted, public conference call and webinar will be held on 
September 22, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., EST.

ADDRESSES: The conference call information is phone number (888) 635-
5002; participant passcode 5315520. NMFS will show a brief presentation 
via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: 
https://noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/onstage/g.php?MTID=ea9172a6c1907b6efc462ce9117952e21, event password: NOAA. 
Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to 
the meeting. Participants that have not used WebEx before will be 
prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to 
view the webinar.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2016-0096, 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-2016-0096, 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

[[Page 59168]]

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).
    Presentation materials and copies of the supporting documents are 
available from the HMS Management Division Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or by contacting Gu[yacute] DuBeck by phone 
at 301-427-8503.

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.

2017 Proposed Quotas

    This proposed rule would adjust the quota levels for the different 
shark stocks and management groups for the 2017 Atlantic commercial 
shark fishing season based on over- and underharvests that occurred 
during 2016 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing 
regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(b). 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 up 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 15, 2016. In the final rule, NMFS will adjust the 
quotas as needed based on dealer reports received as of a date in mid-
October 2016. Thus, all of the 2017 proposed quotas for the respective 
stocks and management groups will be subject to further adjustment 
after NMFS considers the mid-October dealer reports. All dealer reports 
that are received after the October date will be used to adjust the 
2018 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 2016 underharvests cannot be carried over to the 2017 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 2017 
proposed quotas would be equal to the applicable base quota minus any 
overharvests that occurred in 2016 and/or previous fishing seasons, as 
applicable.
    Because the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group and 
smoothhound shark management groups in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
regions have been determined not to be overfished and to have no 
overfishing occurring, available underharvest (up to 50 percent of the 
base quota) from the 2016 fishing season for these management groups 
may be applied to the respective 2017 quotas, and NMFS proposes to do 
so.
    The proposed 2017 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.

                                Table 1--2017 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 15, 2016;
                              final quotas are subject to change based on landings as of October 2016. 1 mt = 2,204.6 lb.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Preliminary
     Region or sub-region      Management group    2016 annual     2016 landings   Adjustments \2\     2017 base      2017 proposed     Season opening
                                                      quota             \1\                           annual quota     annual quota          dates
                               ................  (A)............  (B)............  (C)............  (D)............  (D + C)........
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern Gulf of Mexico.......  Blacktip Sharks.  28.9 mt dw       18.0 mt dw       10.9 mt dw       25.1 mt dw       36.0 mt dw       January 1, 2017.
                                                  (63,189 lb dw).  (39,584 lb dw).  (23,961 lb dw)   (55,439 lb dw).  (79,400 lb dw).
                                                                                    \3\.
                               Aggregated Large  85.5 mt dw       42.9 mt dw       ...............  85.5 mt dw       85.5 mt dw
                                Coastal Sharks.   (188,593 lb      (93,593 lb dw).                   (188,593 lb      (188,593 lb
                                                  dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Hammerhead        13.4 mt dw       6.7 mt dw        ...............  13.4 mt dw       13.4 mt dw
                                Sharks.           (29,421 lb dw).  (14,865 lb dw).                   (29,421 lb dw).  (29,421 lb dw).
Western Gulf of Mexico.......  Blacktip Sharks.  266.5 mt dw      166.2 mt dw      100.3 mt dw      231.5 mt dw      331.8 mt dw
                                                  (587,396 lb      (366497 lb dw).  (220,542 lb      (510,261 lb      (730,803 lb
                                                  dw).                              dw) \3\.         dw).             dw).
                               Aggregated Large  72.0 mt dw       66.1 mt dw       ...............  72.0 mt dw       72.0 mt dw
                                Coastal Sharks.   (158,724 lb      (145,624 lb                       (158,724 lb      (158,724 lb
                                                  dw).             dw).                              dw).             dw).
                               Hammerhead        11.9 mt dw       16.8 mt dw       ...............  11.9 mt dw       11.9 mt dw
                                Sharks.           (26,301 lb dw).  (37,063 lb dw).                   (23,301 lb dw).  (23,301 lb dw).
Gulf of Mexico...............  Non-Blacknose     107.3 mt dw      41.0 mt dw       ...............  112.6 mt dw      112.6 mt dw
                                Small Coastal     (236,603 lb      (90,320 lb dw).                   (248,215 lb      (248,215 lb
                                Sharks.           dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Smoothhound       336.4 mt dw      0 mt dw (0 lb    168.2 mt dw      336.4 mt dw      504.6 mt dw
                                Sharks.           (741,627).       dw).             (370,814 lb      (741,627).       (1,112,441 lb
                                                                                    dw).                              dw).

[[Page 59169]]

 
Atlantic.....................  Aggregated Large  168.9 mt dw      42.0 mt dw       ...............  168.9 mt dw      168.9 mt dw      January 1, 2017.
                                Coastal Sharks.   (372,552 lb      (92,692 lb dw).                   (372,552 lb      (372,552 lb
                                                  dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Hammerhead        27.1 mt dw       9.6 mt dw        ...............  27.1 mt dw       27.1 mt dw
                                Sharks.           (59,736 lb dw).  (21,122 lb dw).                   (59,736 lb dw).  (59,736 lb dw).
                               Non-Blacknose     264.1 mt dw      40.4 mt dw       ...............  264.1 mt dw      264.1 mt dw
                                Small Coastal     (582,333 lb      (89,048 lb dw).                   (582,333 lb      (582,333 lb
                                Sharks.           dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Blacknose Sharks  15.7 mt dw       12.2 mt dw       ...............  17.2 mt dw       17.2 mt dw
                                (South of         (34,653 lb dw).  (26,916 lb dw).                   (37,921 lb dw).  (37,921 lb dw)
                                34[deg] N. lat.                                                                       \4\.
                                only).
                               Smoothhound       1,201.7 mt dw    183.2 mt dw      600.9 mt dw      1,201.7 mt dw    1,802.6 mt dw
                                Sharks.           (2,647,725 lb    (403,795 lb      (1,323,862 lb    (2,647,725 lb    (3,971,587 lb
                                                  dw).             dw).             dw).             dw).             dw).
No regional quotas...........  Non-Sandbar LCS   50.0 mt dw       7.2 mt dw        ...............  50.0 mt dw       50.0 mt dw       January 1, 2017.
                                Research.         (110,230 lb      (15,829 lb dw).                   (110,230 lb      (110,230 lb
                                                  dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Sandbar Shark     90.7 mt dw       34.9 mt dw       ...............  90.7 mt dw       90.7 mt dw
                                Research.         (199,943 lb      (77,050 lb dw).                   (199,943 lb      (199,943 lb
                                                  dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Blue Sharks.....  273.0 mt dw      0 mt dw (0 lb    ...............  273.0 mt dw      273.0 mt dw
                                                  (601,856 lb      dw).                              (601,856 lb      (601,856 lb
                                                  dw).                                               dw).             dw).
                               Porbeagle Sharks  0 mt dw (0 lb    0 mt dw (0 lb    ...............  1.7 mt dw        1.7 mt dw
                                                  dw).             dw).                              (3,748 lb dw).   (3,748 lb dw).
                               Pelagic Sharks    488.0 mt dw      54.1 mt dw       ...............  488.0 mt dw      488.0 mt dw
                                Other Than        (1,075,856 lb    (119,336 lb                       (1,075,856 lb    (1,075,856 lb
                                Porbeagle or      dw).             dw).                              dw).             dw).
                                Blue.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Landings are from January 1, 2016, through July 15, 2016, and are subject to change.
\2\ Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring. Also, the
  underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base quota.
\3\ This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2016. This proposed rule would increase the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 111.2 mt dw
  (244,504 lb dw). Since any underharvest would be divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark
  quota would be increased by 10.9 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the underharvest, while the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased
  by 100.3 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the underharvest.
\4\ Based on overharvest in 2012 and 2015, NMFS had previously reduced the Atlantic blacknose shark base annual quota by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb dw) each
  year through 2018. However, in 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). NMFS is proposing to use the
  2016 underharvest to cover the remaining overharvest amount of 3.0 mt dw (6,536 lb dw) and not to adjust the 2017 Atlantic blacknose shark base annual
  quota.

1. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Blacktip Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for blacktip sharks in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 36.0 mt dw (79,400 lb dw) and the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 331.8 mt dw (730,803 lb dw). As of 
July 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings for blacktip sharks in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 62 percent (18.0 mt dw) of 
their 2016 quota levels (28.9 mt dw), while the blacktip sharks in the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were also at 62 percent (166.2 mt dw) 
of their 2016 quota levels (266.5 mt dw). Reported landings have not 
exceeded the 2016 quota to date, and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-
region fishery was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602). 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 2017 quotas up to 50 
percent of the base quota. Any underharvest would be split based on the 
sub-regional quota percentages of 9.8 percent for eastern Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip sharks and 90.2 percent for western Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks (Sec.  635.27(b)(1)(ii)). To date, the overall Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip shark management group was underharvested by 111.2 mt 
dw (244,504 lb dw). Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 
eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 10.9 mt dw (111.2 mt dw 
underharvest in 2016 * 9.8 percent = 10.9 mt dw eastern sub-region 
underharvest) and increase the 2017 western Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
shark quota by 100.3 mt dw (111.2 mt dw underharvest in 2016 * 90.2 
percent = 100.3 mt dw western sub-region underharvest). Thus, the 
proposed eastern sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial 
quota is 36.0 mt dw and the proposed western sub-regional Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 331.8 mt dw.
2. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Aggregated LCS in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2017 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 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings for aggregated LCS in the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 50 percent (42.5 mt dw) of 
their 2016 quota levels (85.5 mt dw), while the aggregated LCS in the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 92 percent (66.1 mt dw) of 
their 2016 quota levels (72.0 mt dw). Reported landings have not 
exceeded the 2016 quota to date, and the western aggregated LCS sub-
region fishery was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602). Given the 
unknown status of

[[Page 59170]]

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 
proposes that the 2017 quotas for aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of 
Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual 
base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any 
overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to 
stock status.
3. Proposed 2017 Quota for the Aggregated LCS in the Atlantic Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the 
Atlantic region is 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, 
the aggregated LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and 
preliminary landings indicate that only 25 percent of the quota has 
been harvested. 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for aggregated 
LCS in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without 
adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and 
underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
4. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    In the Gulf of Mexico, hammerhead shark quotas are divided into two 
sub-regions: Western and eastern. The 2017 proposed commercial quotas 
for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region and 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region are 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) and 
11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw), respectively. As of July 15, 2016, 
preliminary reported landings for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf 
of Mexico sub-region were at 50 percent (6.7 mt dw) of their 2016 quota 
levels (13.4 mt dw), while landings of hammerhead sharks in the western 
Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 141 percent (16.8 mt dw) of their 
2016 quota levels (11.9 mt dw). Even though the reported landings in 
the western Gulf of Mexico exceed the 2016 sub-regional quota, which 
was closed on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602), the total regional Gulf of 
Mexico reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 quota to date. 
Consistent with the regulations implemented through Amendment 6 to the 
Consolidated HMS FMP, sub-regional quota overages (e.g., western Gulf 
of Mexico sub-region) are only deducted in the next year if the total 
regional quota (e.g., Gulf of Mexico region) is also exceeded. Thus, 
pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(i), at this time, because the overall 
regional quota has not been overharvested, NMFS is not proposing to 
adjust the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region quota to account for the 
overharvest. However, because the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 
open and quota is still available in that sub-region, NMFS expects that 
landings will continue to occur. If landings in the eastern Gulf of 
Mexico sub-region exceed 8.5 mt dw (18,659 lb dw) (i.e., the remainder 
of the total regional Gulf of Mexico quota), then NMFS would reduce the 
western Gulf of Mexico sub-region quota to account for overharvests, 
pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(i). If the quota is not fully harvested, 
given the overfished status of hammerhead sharks, NMFS would not carry 
forward any underharvests, 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), at this time, NMFS proposes 
that the 2017 quotas for hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of 
Mexico and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual 
base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any 
overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to 
stock status. However, as noted above, if landings in the eastern Gulf 
of Mexico sub-region exceed 8.5 mt dw, NMFS would adjust the western 
Gulf of Mexico sub-region quota accordingly in the final rule.
5. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Hammerhead Sharks in the Atlantic Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for hammerhead sharks in the 
Atlantic region is 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). Currently, the hammerhead 
shark fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary 
landings as of July 15, 2016, indicate that only 35 percent of the 
quota has been harvested. 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 
proposes that the 2017 quota for hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic 
region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because 
there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot 
be carried over due to stock status.
6. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Research LCS and Sandbar Sharks Within the 
Shark Research Fishery
    The 2017 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 15, 2016, preliminary reported landings of research LCS were 
at 14 percent (7.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (50.0 mt dw), and 
sandbar shark reported landings were at 39 percent (34.9 mt dw) of 
their 2016 quota levels (27.1 mt dw). Reported landings have not 
exceeded the 2016 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 2017 quotas. 
Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the 
current regulations at Sec.  635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2017 
quota in the shark research fishery be equal to the annual base quota 
without adjustment because there have not been any overharvests and 
because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.
7. Proposed 2017 Quota for the Non-Blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico 
Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the 
Gulf of Mexico region is 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). As of July 15, 
2016, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 38 
percent (41.0 mt dw) of their 2016 quota level (107.3 mt dw) in the 
Gulf of Mexico region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2016 
quota to date. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the 
Gulf of Mexico 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 proposes that the 2017 quota for non-blacknose 
SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region be equal to the annual base quota 
without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and 
because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

[[Page 59171]]

8. Proposed 2016 Quota for the Non-Blacknose SCS in the Atlantic Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the 
Atlantic region is 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, 
preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 15 percent 
(40.4 mt dw) of their 2016 quota level (264.1 mt dw) in the Atlantic 
region. Though reported landings had not yet reached or exceeded the 
2016 quota, the fishery south of 34[deg] N. latitude was closed on May 
29, 2016 (81 FR 18541), due to the quota linkage with blacknose sharks 
in the Atlantic region. The non-blacknose SCS fishery north of 34[deg] 
N. latitude remains open at this time. 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 
proposes that the 2017 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic 
region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because 
there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot 
be carried over due to stock status.
9. Proposed 2017 Quota for the Blacknose Sharks in the Atlantic Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for blacknose sharks in the 
Atlantic region is 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). As of July 15, 2016, 
preliminary reported landings of blacknose sharks were at 78 percent 
(12.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (15.7 mt dw) in the Atlantic 
region. The fishery was closed on May 29, 2016 (81 FR 18541). In the 
final rule establishing quotas for the 2014 shark season (78 FR 70500; 
November 26, 2013), NMFS spread out the 2012 overharvest (2.5 mt dw; 
5,555 lb dw) of the blacknose shark quota across 5 years (2014 through 
2018) in the Atlantic region by 0.5 mt dw (1,111 lb dw) each year. This 
approach for spreading large overharvests over several years up to 5 
years is consistent with the approach adopted in Amendment 2 to the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (see Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(i)), which determined 
to spread out the pay back over five years depending on the magnitude 
of the overharvest and the potential impact on the fishery (73 FR 
40658; July 15, 2008). In 2015, the blacknose shark quota was 
overharvested by 3.0 mt dw (6,471 lb dw). In the final rule 
establishing quotas for the 2016 shark season (80 FR 74999; December 1, 
2015), NMFS spread this 2015 overharvest amount over 3 years at 1.0 mt 
dw (2,157 lb dw) each year from 2016 through 2018. Thus, in the final 
rule establishing quotas for the 2016 shark season, NMFS decided to 
reduce the blacknose shark base annual quota by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb 
dw), based on the 2012 and 2015 overharvest amount, in 2016, 2017, and 
2018. On May 29, 2016, NMFS closed the Atlantic blacknose shark 
management group because the quota was projected to exceed 80 percent. 
However, as of July 15, 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was 
underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). This underharvest (3.5 mt 
dw) is greater than the remaining amount of the 2012 and 2015 
overharvests (3.0 mt dw)(6,636 lb dw). As such, NMFS is proposing to 
use the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining 2012 and 2015 
overharvest. Pursuant to Sec.  635.27(b)(2), because blacknose sharks 
have been declared to be overfished with overfishing occurring in the 
Atlantic region, NMFS could not carry forward the remaining 
underharvest (0.5 mt dw). Therefore, NMFS proposes that the 2017 
Atlantic blacknose shark quota be equal to the annual base quota 
without adjustment. 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 are prohibited.
10. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Smoothhound Sharks in the Gulf of 
Mexico Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the 
Gulf of Mexico region is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). As of July 15, 
2016, there are no preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks 
in the Gulf of Mexico region. Gulf of Mexico smoothhound 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 smoothhound sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region 
therefore could be applied to the 2017 quotas up to 50 percent of the 
base quota. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 Gulf of 
Mexico smoothhound shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests 
in 2016 as allowed. The proposed 2017 adjusted base annual quota for 
Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) 
(336.4 mt dw annual base quota + 168.2 mt dw 2016 underharvest = 504.6 
mt dw 2017 adjusted annual quota).
11. Proposed 2017 Quotas for the Smoothhound Sharks in the Atlantic 
Region
    The 2017 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the 
Atlantic region is 1,802.6 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw). As of July 15, 
2016, preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks were at 15 
percent (183.2 mt dw) of their 2016 quota levels (1,201.7 mt dw) in the 
Atlantic region. Atlantic smoothhound 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 
smoothhound sharks within the Atlantic region therefore could be 
applied to the 2017 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. 
Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2017 Atlantic smoothhound 
shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests in 2016 as allowed. 
The proposed 2017 adjusted base annual quota for Atlantic smoothhound 
sharks is 1,802.6 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw) (1,201.7 mt dw annual base 
quota + 600.9 mt dw 2016 underharvest = 1,802.6 mt dw 2017 adjusted 
annual quota).
12. Proposed 2017 Quotas for Pelagic Sharks
    The 2017 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. As of July 15, 2016, there are no 
preliminary reported landings of blue sharks and porbeagle sharks, 
while preliminary reported landings of pelagic sharks (other than 
porbeagle and blue sharks) were at 11 percent (54.1 mt dw) of their 
2016 quota level (488.0 mt dw). Given that 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 
proposes that the 2017 quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and 
pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) be equal to their 
annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any 
overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to 
stock status.

Proposed Opening Dates and Retention Limits for the 2017 Atlantic 
Commercial Shark Fishing Season

    For each fishery, NMFS considered the seven ``Opening Commercial 
Fishing

[[Page 59172]]

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, as described above and below, NMFS examined the 2016 
and previous fishing years' over- and/or underharvests of the different 
management groups to determine the effects of the 2017 proposed 
commercial quotas on the shark stocks and fishermen across regional and 
sub-regional fishing areas. NMFS also examined the potential season 
length and previous catch rates to ensure, to the extent practicable, 
that equitable fishing opportunities 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.
    As described below, NMFS also considered the six ``Inseason trip 
limit adjustment criteria'' listed at Sec.  635.24(a)(8) for directed 
shark limited access permit holders intending to land LCS other than 
sandbar sharks. Those criteria are: The amount of remaining shark quota 
in the relevant area or region, to date, based on dealer reports; the 
catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes, to date, based on 
dealer reports; estimated date of fishery closure based on when the 
landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the 
realized catch rates; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the 
objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; 
variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns 
of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based 
knowledge; and/or 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 relevant quota.
    After considering these criteria, NMFS is proposing that the 2017 
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, 2017, after the 
publication of the final rule for this action (Table 2). NMFS is also 
proposing to start the 2017 commercial shark fishing season with the 
commercial retention limit of 30 LCS other than sandbar sharks per 
vessel per trip in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, 45 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the eastern Gulf of Mexico 
sub-region, and 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in 
the Atlantic region (Table 2). However, at the time of writing this 
proposed rule, some management groups remain open and, for those 
management groups that are already closed, landings are still being 
calculated and checked for quality control and assurance. Thus, NMFS 
may implement different opening dates and commercial retention limits 
in the final rule if there are underharvested quotas or quota 
exceedances in 2016 that are not accounted for in this proposed rule.

 Table 2--Quota Linkages, Season Opening Dates, and Commercial Retention Limit by Regional or Sub-Regional Shark
                                                Management Group
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           Commercial retention
                                                                                            limits for directed
                                                                         Season opening    shark limited access
      Region or sub-region        Management group    Quota linkages         dates            permit holders
                                                                                           (inseason adjustments
                                                                                               are possible)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern Gulf of Mexico.........  Blacktip Sharks..  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  45 LCS other than
                                 Aggregated Large   Linked...........                      sandbar sharks per
                                  Coastal Sharks.                                          vessel per trip.
                                 Hammerhead
                                  Sharks..
Western Gulf of Mexico.........  Blacktip Sharks..  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  30 LCS other than
                                 Aggregated Large   Linked...........                      sandbar sharks per
                                  Coastal Sharks.                                          vessel per trip.
                                 Hammerhead
                                  Sharks..
Gulf of Mexico.................  Non-Blacknose      Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                  Small Coastal
                                  Sharks.
                                 Smoothhound        Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                  Sharks.
Atlantic.......................  Aggregated Large   Linked...........  January 1, 2017..  36 LCS other than
                                  Coastal Sharks.                                          sandbar sharks per
                                 Hammerhead                                                vessel per trip.
                                  Sharks..                                                If quota is landed
                                                                                           quickly (e.g., if
                                                                                           approximately 20
                                                                                           percent of quota is
                                                                                           caught at the
                                                                                           beginning of the
                                                                                           year), NMFS
                                                                                           anticipates an
                                                                                           inseason reduction
                                                                                           (e.g., to 3 or fewer
                                                                                           LCS other than
                                                                                           sandbar sharks per
                                                                                           vessel per trip),
                                                                                           then an inseason
                                                                                           increase to 45 LCS
                                                                                           other than sandbar
                                                                                           sharks per vessel per
                                                                                           trip around July 15,
                                                                                           2017.
                                 Non-Blacknose      Linked (South of   January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                  Small Coastal      34[deg] N. lat.
                                  Sharks.            only).
                                 Blacknose Sharks
                                  (South of
                                  34[deg] N. lat.
                                  only)..
                                 Smoothhound        Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                  Sharks.
No regional quotas.............  Non-Sandbar LCS    Linked...........  January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                  Research.
                                 Sandbar Shark
                                  Research.
                                 Blue Sharks......  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2017..  N/A.
                                 Porbeagle Sharks.

[[Page 59173]]

 
                                 Pelagic Sharks
                                  Other Than
                                  Porbeagle or
                                  Blue.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the Gulf of Mexico region, we are opening the fishing season on 
or about January 1, 2017, for the aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and 
hammerhead shark management groups with the commercial retention limits 
of 30 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed 
shark permit holders in the western sub-region--and 45 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark permit holders in 
the eastern sub-region. This would provide, to the extent practicable, 
equitable opportunities across the fisheries management sub-regions. 
This opening date takes into account all the season opening criteria 
listed in Sec.  635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criteria that NMFS 
consider the length of the season for the different species and/or 
management group in the previous years (Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(ii) and 
(iii)) and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in 
those years (Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(v)). The proposed commercial retention 
limits take into account the criteria listed in Sec.  635.24 (a)(8), 
and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the catch rates of 
the relevant shark species/complexes based on dealer reports to date 
(Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(ii)). 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 (see the 
criteria listed at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(v) and Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(ii), 
(v), and (vi)). In 2016, the quota in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-
region was harvested quickly and NMFS closed these management groups on 
March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602) (see the criteria listed at Sec.  
635.27(b)(3)(i), (ii), and (iii) and Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i) and (iii)). 
As such, in 2017, NMFS is proposing a slightly lower trip limit in 
order to slow the harvest level and ensure the management group is open 
until at least April 2017, which is when the State of Louisiana closes 
state waters to shark fishing and when that State has asked that we 
close Federal shark fisheries to match state regulations if quotas are 
limited (see the criteria listed at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(vii) and 
635.24(a)(8)(iii)). In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, NMFS is proposing 
the same commercial trip limit for these management groups that was set 
in 2016. Currently, the aggregated LCS, blacktip shark, and hammerhead 
shark management groups are still open in the eastern Gulf of Mexico 
sub-region (see the criteria listed at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(i), (ii), 
(iii), and (v), and Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i), (ii), (iii), (v), and (vi)). 
If those fisheries close, and after the overall preliminary landings 
for the Gulf of Mexico region are estimated for the 2016 fishing 
season, NMFS could make changes to the 2017 opening dates and 
commercial retention limits if necessary to ensure equitable fishing 
opportunities.
    In the Atlantic region, NMFS proposes opening the aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead shark management groups on or about January 1, 2017. 
This opening date is the same date that these management groups opened 
in 2016, although that decision later attracted significant attention 
and opposition from shark advocates, particularly within the scuba 
diving community, with respect to what they argue to be a lemon shark 
aggregation site (see discussion below). As described below, this 
opening date also 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 
(Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(v)). In 2016, the data indicate that an opening 
date of January 1 provided a reasonable opportunity for every part of 
each region to harvest a portion of the available quotas (Sec.  
635.27(b)(3)(i)) while accounting for variations in seasonal 
distribution of the different species in the management groups (Sec.  
635.27(b)(3)(iv)). Furthermore, in 2016, the fishing season for the 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups remains currently 
open with 25 percent of the quotas available as of July 15, 2016. 
Because the quotas in 2017 are proposed to be the same as the quotas in 
2016, NMFS expects that the season lengths and therefore the 
participation of various fishermen throughout the region, would be 
similar in 2017 (Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(ii) and (iii)). Based on the recent 
performance of the fishery, the January 1 opening date appears to be 
meet the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments 
((Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(vi)). Therefore, there is no information that 
indicates changing the opening date is necessary.
    After the final rule for the 2016 shark season published on 
December 1, 2015 (80 FR 74999), and well outside the close of the 
public comment period for that rule (September 17, 2015), NMFS received 
extensive public comments opposing the January 1 opening date (for the 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups) because of their 
concerns about a lemon shark aggregation site off the east coast of 
Florida which has become a popular local shark scuba diving site. 
Commenters requested that NMFS change the opening date to the summer 
months (e.g., June or July) to protect this lemon shark aggregation. 
NMFS also received a petition to postpone the opening date in the 
Atlantic region signed by more than 18,000 people. NMFS responded to 
the petition as a petition for emergency rulemaking but did not change 
the January 1 start date in response. Based on these comments and the 
petition, NMFS held a public conference call on December 11, 2015, to 
answer public questions regarding the Atlantic commercial shark 
fishery. NMFS also gave a presentation on the biology and current stock 
status of lemon sharks at the March 2016 HMS Advisory Panel meeting. 
Data presented at the Advisory Panel meeting indicated that lemon 
sharks may be more productive than previously thought, the commercial 
shark fishery is not having a significant impact on lemon sharks in the 
aggregation area or elsewhere, and current data on relative abundance 
suggest population is stable. Landings of lemon sharks to date in the 
Atlantic region are approximately 4,855 mt dw (2.2 lb dw), which are 
less than the

[[Page 59174]]

average landings over the past 6 years (see the criteria at Sec.  
635.27(b)(3)(iv), (v), and (vi) and Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(ii), (iv), and 
(v)). There is no evidence that these landings have negatively impacted 
the lemon shark population according to the Southeast Fisheries Science 
Center scientists. Furthermore, NMFS considered information in the 
comments received on the December 2015 final rule in proposing a start 
date for 2017 and has determined they presented no new or additional 
information that was not previously considered by the agency that would 
warrant a different opening date. Therefore, NMFS is proposing the same 
opening dates for the 2017 fishing season. This opening date meets the 
management objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments (see the criteria at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(vi)) particularly in 
regard to ensuring fishermen throughout the region have reasonable 
opportunities to harvest a portion of the different species and/or 
management group quotas (see the criteria at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(v) and 
(vii)) while also considering important scientific information on the 
seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns of the 
different species within the management group (see the criteria at 
Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(ii)). As described above, the fishery has performed 
well, and in accordance with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP, under the January 1 opening date. Therefore, there is no 
information suggesting that changing the opening date is necessary. 
However, NMFS will consider through this rulemaking any comments on the 
opening date and any new information on lemon sharks (or other species) 
not previously considered, and may in the final rule, adjust the 
opening dates if warranted. The Notice of Availability for Amendment 10 
to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, which should be publishing soon, will 
address essential fish habitat and potential habitat areas of 
particular concern for HMS species, including lemon sharks.
    In addition, for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups in the Atlantic region, NMFS is proposing that the commercial 
retention trip limit for directed shark limited access permit holders 
on the proposed opening date be 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per 
vessel per trip. This retention limit should allow fishermen to harvest 
some of the 2017 quota at the beginning of the year when sharks are 
more prevalent in the South Atlantic area (see the criteria at Sec.  
635.24(a)(3)(i), (ii), (v), and (vi)). As was done in 2016, if it 
appears that the quota is being harvested too quickly (i.e., about 20 
percent) to allow directed fishermen throughout the entire region an 
opportunity to fish and ensure enough quota remains until later in the 
year, NMFS would reduce the commercial retention limits to incidental 
levels (3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another 
level calculated to reduce the harvest of LCS 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 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. 
If either situation occurs, NMFS would publish in the Federal Register 
notification of any inseason adjustments of the retention limit to an 
appropriate limit of sharks per trip. In 2016, NMFS reduced the 
retention limit to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks on April 2, 2016 (81 
FR 18541) when hammerhead shark landings reached approximately 24 
percent of the hammerhead quota, and did not need to reduce it further.
    Also, as was done in 2016, NMFS will consider increasing the 
commercial retention limits per trip at a later date if necessary to 
provide fishermen in the northern portion of the Atlantic region an 
opportunity to retain non-sandbar LCS after considering the appropriate 
inseason adjustment criteria. Similarly, at some point later in the 
year (e.g., July 15), potentially equivalent to how the 2016 fishing 
season operated, NMFS may consider increasing 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 quickly or too slowly, NMFS could adjust the retention 
limit appropriately to ensure the fishery remains open most of the rest 
of the year. Since the fishery is still open with majority of the quota 
available, NMFS will monitor the rest of the fishing season and could 
make changes to the proposed 2017 opening date if necessary to ensure 
equitable fishing opportunities.
    All of the shark management groups would remain open until December 
31, 2017, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for 
any shark management group have reached, or are projected to reach, 80 
percent of the available quota. 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, pelagic sharks, or the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico smoothhound 
sharks), NMFS will publish in 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. 
For the blacktip shark management group, regulations at Sec.  
635.28(b)(5)(i) through (v) authorize NMFS to close the management 
group before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of 
the quota after considering the following criteria and other relevant 
factors: Season length based on available sub-regional quota and 
average sub-regional catch rates; variability in regional and/or sub-
regional seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns; 
effects on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP and its amendments; amount of remaining shark quotas in the 
relevant sub-region; and regional and/or sub-regional catch rates of 
the relevant shark species or management groups. 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 publish in 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 aggregated 
LCS; and Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south

[[Page 59175]]

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).

Request for Comments

    Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov by mail, and at a public hearing. NMFS solicits 
comments on this proposed rule by September 27, 2016 (see DATES and 
ADDRESSES).
    In addition to comments on the entire proposed rule, NMFS is 
specifically requesting comments on the proposed accounting of the 2012 
and 2015 overharvest of Atlantic blacknose sharks from the 2016 
underharvest. As described above, in 2016, NMFS closed the Atlantic 
blacknose shark management group once the quota was projected to exceed 
80 percent. As of July 15, 2016, the Atlantic blacknose shark quota was 
underharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,737 lb dw). This underharvest (3.5 mt 
dw) is greater than the remaining amounts of the 2012 and 2015 
overharvests (3.0 mt dw) (6,636 lb dw). As such, NMFS is proposing to 
use the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining 2012 and 2015 
overharvest. This proposal would reduce potential negative social and 
economic impacts on the blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS 
fisheries, which are linked fisheries in the Atlantic region south of 
34[deg] N. latitude while maintaining the ecological benefits of the 
current blacknose shark rebuilding plan. If NMFS continued to spread 
the overharvest from 2012 and 2015 through 2018, the Atlantic blacknose 
shark quota in 2017 would be reduced by 1.5 mt dw (3,268 lb dw) in 2017 
and the 2017 adjusted quota would be 15.7 mt dw (34,653 lb dw). 
However, if NMFS uses the 2016 underharvest to cover the remaining 
overharvest 2012 and 2015 overharvest, the blacknose shark quota would 
not be reduced in 2017 or 2018 as a result of the 2012 and 2015 
overharvests. As a result of this proposal, the 2017 annual base quota 
would be 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw), which could result in the fishery 
remaining open longer in the Atlantic region south of 34[deg] N. 
latitude and have social and economic beneficial impacts for blacknose 
and non-blacknose fishermen and dealers.
    During the comment period, NMFS will hold one conference call and 
webinar for this proposed rule. NMFS is requesting comments on any of 
the measures or analyses described in this proposed rule. The 
conference call and webinar will be held on September 22, 2016, from 2-
4 p.m. EST. Please see the DATES and ADDRESSES headings for more 
information.
    The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants on phone 
conferences to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of 
the conference call, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground 
rules (e.g., all comments are to be directed to the agency on the 
proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments in the 
order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have an 
equal amount of time to speak; attendees may not interrupt one another; 
etc.). NMFS representative(s) will structure the meeting so that all 
attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so 
choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject(s). 
Attendees are expected to respect the ground rules, and those that do 
not may be removed from the conference call.

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.
    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), Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP (80 FR 50073; August 18, 2015), and Amendment 9 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 73128; November 24, 2015) 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 as required under 
the Coastal Zone Management Act. 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 2017 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries 
does not change the framework previously consulted upon; therefore, no 
additional consultation is required.
    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 2017 commercial shark fishing quotas, 
retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the 
commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2016, 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); establish 
the opening dates of the various management groups; and establish the 
retention limits for the blacktip shark, aggregated large coastal 
shark, and hammerhead shark 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 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. Provision is made under SBA's regulations for an agency to 
develop its own industry-specific size standards after consultation 
with Advocacy and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 
121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards 
that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, 
but only for use by

[[Page 59176]]

NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic 
effects in fulfillment of the agency's obligations under the RFA. To 
utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the 
Federal Register (FR), which NMFS did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 
81194, December 29, 2015). In this final rule effective on July 1, 
2016, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in 
annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing 
industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all 
HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual 
receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing.
    As of July 2016, the proposed rule would apply to the approximately 
224 directed commercial shark permit holders, 272 incidental commercial 
shark permit holders, 89 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 108 
commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the 
fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit 
holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark 
based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 496 directed and 
incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 23 permit holders 
landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 88 landed sharks in 
the Atlantic region. Of the 89 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 
49 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and 
none landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. NMFS has 
determined that the proposed rule would not likely affect any small 
governmental jurisdictions.
    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 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 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 2015 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 
2017 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total 
fleet revenues of $8,265,467 (see Table 3). For the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark management group, NMFS is proposing to increase the 
baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2016. The 
increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group 
could result in a $24,141 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 $222,196 gain in total 
revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and 
Atlantic smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS is proposing to 
increase the baseline quotas due to the underharvest in 2016. This 
would cause a potential gain in revenue of $270,323 for the fleet in 
the Gulf of Mexico region and a potential gain in revenue of $965,095 
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 final regulatory flexibility analyses 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 3--Average Ex-Vessel Prices per lb dw for Each Shark Management Group, 2015
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Average ex-     Average ex-
                    Region                                   Species                vessel meat     vessel fin
                                                                                       price           price
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gulf of Mexico................................  Blacktip Shark..................           $0.51           $9.95
                                                Aggregated LCS..................            0.55            9.96
                                                Hammerhead Shark................            0.61           11.98
                                                Non-Blacknose SCS...............            0.35            6.72
                                                Smoothhound Shark *.............            0.65            1.58

[[Page 59177]]

 
Atlantic......................................  Aggregated LCS..................            0.80            4.73
                                                Hammerhead Shark................            0.65           10.25
                                                Non-Blacknose SCS...............            0.73            4.36
                                                Blacknose Shark.................            0.97            4.00
                                                Smoothhound Shark *.............            0.65            1.58
No Region.....................................  Shark Research Fishery                      0.68            9.24
                                                 (Aggregated LCS).
                                                Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar             0.76           10.62
                                                 only).
                                                Blue shark......................            0.60            2.93
                                                Porbeagle shark.................            1.50            2.93
                                                Other Pelagic sharks............            1.50            2.93
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Ex-vessel prices for smoothhound sharks come from HMS dealers who submitted landings data voluntarily before
  it was a requirement on March 15, 2016.

    For this proposed rule, NMFS also reviewed the criteria at Sec.  
635.27(b)(3) to determine when opening each fishery would provide 
equitable opportunities for fishermen, to the extent practicable, while 
also considering the ecological needs of the different species. The 
opening dates of the fishing season(s) could vary depending upon the 
available annual quota, catch rates, and number of fishing participants 
during the year. For the 2017 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.

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

    Dated: August 22, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-20505 Filed 8-26-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P