Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2016 Northern Albacore Tuna and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas, 60286-60288 [2016-21067]

Download as PDF 60286 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 29, 2016. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–21090 Filed 8–29–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 160706586–6780–01] RIN 0648–XE726 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2016 Northern Albacore Tuna and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary final rule; adjustments to 2016 northern albacore quota and 2016 Atlantic bluefin tuna Reserve category quota. AGENCY: NMFS adjusts the northern albacore (NALB) annual baseline quota for 2016 with available underharvest of the 2015 adjusted U.S. NALB quota. NMFS also augments the 2016 Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Reserve category quota with available underharvest of the 2015 adjusted U.S. BFT quota. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Effective September 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. ADDRESSES: Supporting documents such as the Environmental Assessments and Fishery Management Plans and their Amendments described below may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are available upon request from Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale at the telephone number below. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of NALB and BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27(e) describes the NALB annual quota recommended by ICCAT and the annual NALB quota adjustment process. Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-recommended U.S. BFT quota among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and describes the annual BFT quota adjustment process. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quotas. The NALB quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the BFT quota adjustment process, were previously analyzed in Amendment 7, which included a Final Environmental Impact Statement, Final Regulatory Impact Review, Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, and Final Social Impact Statement, published in August 2014. ICCAT conducted another BFT stock assessment update in 2014, and, after considering the scientific advice in the stock assessment, adopted a recommendation regarding western Atlantic bluefin tuna management that increases the U.S. bluefin tuna quota for 2015 and 2016 (ICCAT Recommendation 14–05: ‘‘Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic BFT Rebuilding Program’’). NMFS published a final rule to implement that baseline annual U.S. BFT quota on August 28, 2015 (‘‘BFT Quota Rule,’’ 80 FR 52198), and prepared an Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review, and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for that action. NALB Annual Quota and Adjustment Process As described in the final rule implementing Amendment 7, since PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the NALB fishery. A multiyear management measure for northern albacore tuna was first adopted in 2003, setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) at 34,500 mt. ICCAT’s Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) assessed the northern albacore tuna stock in 2009 and concluded that the stock continues to be overfished with overfishing occurring, recommending a level of catch of no more than 28,000 mt to meet ICCAT management objectives by 2020. In response, in 2009, ICCAT established the NALB rebuilding program via Recommendation 09–05, effective for 2010 and 2011, setting a 28,000-mt TAC and including several provisions to limit catches by individual ICCAT Contracting Parties (for major and minor harvesters) and reduce the amount of unharvested quota that could be carried forward from one year to the next, from 50 percent to 25 percent of a Contracting Party’s initial catch quota. Subsequent ICCAT NALB Recommendations 11–04 and 13–05 (both entitled ‘‘Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the North Atlantic Albacore Rebuilding Program’’) maintained the TAC at 28,000 mt for 2012 through 2016 and contained specific recommendations regarding the NALB rebuilding program, including allocation of the annual TAC among the European Union, Chinese Taipei, the United States, and Venezuela. The U.S. quota for 2012 through 2016 has been 527 mt, annually. These recommendations limit Japanese northern albacore tuna catches to 4 percent in weight of its total Atlantic bigeye tuna longline catch, and limits the catches of other ICCAT parties to 200 mt. Recommendation 13–05 also specifies that quota adjustments for a given year’s underharvest or overharvest must be made within 2 years from the subject year (i.e., adjustments based on 2015 catches would be made during or before 2017). The maximum underharvest can be carried forward from one year to the next remains at 25 percent of a Contracting Party’s initial catch quota. The annual U.S. NALB quota of 527 mt is codified at § 635.27(e) and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT NALB TAC recommendation is adopted). Because ICCAT adopted TACs for 2014, 2015, and 2016 in Recommendation 13–05, NMFS currently anticipates that these annual base quotas would be in effect through 2016, but they will remain in place unless and until a new NALB TAC and catch limits are adopted by ICCAT. Amendment 7 established the process by which NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations annual baseline quotas would be in effect through 2016, but they will remain in place unless and until a new western BFT TAC and catch limits are adopted by ICCAT. NALB quota for any previous year’s underharvest. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Adjustment of the 2016 NALB Quota Based on NMFS’ best available information as of July 21, 2016, the total 2015 NALB catch is 247.70 mt, which is 293.61 mt less than the 2015 adjusted quota (i.e., 527 mt plus 14.31 mt of 2014 underharvest carried forward to 2015, totaling 541.31 mt). Thus, the underharvest for 2015 is 293.61 mt. Per the 2013 ICCAT recommendation, only 25 percent of the total 2015 U.S. quota, or 131.75 mt, of that underharvest may be carried forward to the 2016 fishing year. Consistent with the process established in Amendment 7, the adjusted 2016 NALB quota is 527 mt plus 131.75 mt, totaling 658.75 mt. BFT Annual Quota and Adjustment Process Pursuant to Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota to the extent that underharvest from the prior year’s adjusted U.S. BFT quota is available. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Consistent with the BFT quota regulations, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota pursuant to regulatory determination criteria described at § 635.27(a)(8), or for scientific research. NMFS implemented ICCAT Recommendation 14–05 in the BFT quota final rule in August 2015 (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). That rulemaking implemented Recommendation 14–05, which included a 2,000-mt western BFT TAC of 2,000 mt (for 2015 and 2016) and the recommended annual U.S. baseline quota of 1,058.79 mt. The total annual U.S. quota, including the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED) is 1,083.79 mt. The maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 10 percent of its total quota. The baseline annual U.S. BFT quota of 1,058.79 mt is codified at § 635.27(a) and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT western BFT TAC recommendation is adopted). Because ICCAT adopted TACs for 2015 and 2016 in Recommendation 14–05, NMFS currently anticipates that these VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Adjustment of the 2016 BFT Reserve Category Quota Based on NMFS’ best available information as of July 21, 2016, the total 2015 BFT catch is 896.30 mt. This total catch includes 876.80 mt of landings and 19.50 mt of dead discards, which includes the best available estimate of 14.60 mt of dead discards for the pelagic longline fishery and the observed dead discards of 4.90 mt for the purse seine fishery. The total catch of 896.30 mt is 282.36 mt less than the quota available for 2015 landings and dead discards (i.e., 1,083.79 mt plus 94.87 mt of 2014 underharvest carried forward to 2015, totaling 1,178.66 mt). Thus, the underharvest for 2015 is 282.36 mt. Per the 2014 ICCAT recommendation, only 10 percent of the total 2015 U.S. quota, or 108.38 mt, of that underharvest may be carried forward to the 2016 fishing year. The codified Reserve category quota is 24.8 mt. Consistent with the process established in Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota with 108.38 mt in this action. Effective January 1, 2016, NMFS adjusted the Reserve category quota for 2016 to 92.2 mt by reallocating 101.4 mt of Purse Seine quota to the Reserve category (based on 2015 catch by Purse Seine category participants and provisions for calculating Purse Seine allocations in Amendment 7) and also transferring 34 mt of Reserve category quota to the Longline category (81 FR 19, January 4, 2016). Thus, as of the effective date of this action (September 1, 2016), the adjusted 2016 Reserve category quota will be 200.58 mt (i.e., 92.2 mt plus 108.38 mt). Classification The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, ATCA, and other applicable law. The AA finds that it would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: NMFS solicited and accepted public comment on the NALB quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the BFT quota adjustment process, as part of the Amendment 7 rulemaking. Comments on these provisions in response to the PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60287 proposed Amendment 7 rulemaking were generally supportive and were addressed in the Response to Comments section of the Amendment 7 final rule. (See comments 18, 19, and 105 at 79 FR 71530–71531 and 71553). This action applies the formula noticed to the public in the earlier action (Amendment 7), using the best available data regarding 2015 catch and underharvest and calculating allowable underharvest consistent with ICCAT recommendations. The Amendment 7 rulemaking specifically provided prior notice of, and accepted public comment on, these formulaic quota adjustment processes and the manner in which they occur. The application of this formula in this action does not have discretionary aspects requiring additional agency consideration and thus public comment for this action would not and could not result in any changes. There is good cause under U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date and make the rule effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The fisheries for NALB and BFT began on January 1, 2016. NMFS monitors NALB and BFT annual catch against the available quota. Delaying the effective date of these quota adjustments would unnecessarily complicate the management of the NALB and BFT fisheries, which rely on management flexibility to respond quickly to fishery conditions to ensure that fishermen have a reasonable opportunity to catch the available quota. For example, under the NALB fishery closure regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the annual fishery quota is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on the baseline (codified) quota versus the adjusted NALB quota would preclude the fishery from harvesting NALB that are legally available consistent with the ICCAT recommendations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Adjusting the BFT Reserve category as soon as possible provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer quota from the Reserve to other fishing categories inseason after considering the regulatory determination criteria, including fishery conditions at the time of the transfer. NMFS could not appropriately adjust the annual quotas for 2016 sooner because the data needed to make the determination only became available in late July and additional time was needed for agency analysis and consideration of the data. Additionally, to prevent confusion and potential overharvests, these adjustments should be in place as soon as possible to allow the impacted sectors to benefit from any subsequent E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 60288 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations quota adjustments to the fishing categories, give them a reasonable opportunity to catch available quota, and provide them the opportunity for planning operations accordingly. This action is being taken under §§ 635.27(e) and 635.27(a)(10) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This final rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are inapplicable. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: August 25, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–21067 Filed 8–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140904754–5188–02] RIN 0648–BG27 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015–2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures. AGENCY: This final rule announces inseason changes to management measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. DATES: This final rule is effective September 1, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Benjamin Mann, phone: 206–526–6117, asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 fax: 206–526–6736, or email: benjamin.mann@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic Access This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Copies of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Groundfish Specifications and Management Measures for 2015– 2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter are available from Chuck Tracy, Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503–820–2280. Background The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council)—in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California—recommended changes to groundfish management measures at its June 21–28, 2016, meeting. Specifically, the Council recommended taking a portion of the Pacific ocean perch (POP) initially deducted from the annual catch limit (ACL) and making it available to the mothership (MS) sector; a trip limit increase for black rockfish in the limited entry fixed gear (LEFG) and open access (OA) fisheries in northern California; and trip limit reductions in the OA sablefish daily trip limit (DTL) fishery north of 36° N. lat. Transferring POP to the Mothership Sector As part of biennial harvest specifications and management measures, ACLs are set for non-whiting groundfish species, deductions are made ‘‘off-the-top’’ from the ACL to account for various sources of mortality (including scientific research activities) and the remainder, the fishery harvest guideline, is allocated among the various groundfish fisheries. The limited availability of overfished species that can be taken as incidental catch in the Pacific whiting fishery, particularly darkblotched rockfish, POP, and canary rockfish, led NMFS to implement sector-specific allocations for these species to the Pacific whiting fisheries. If the sector-specific allocation for a non-whiting species is reached, NMFS may close one or more of the at-sea sectors automatically, per regulations at § 660.60(d). At the June, 2016 meeting, MS and catcher/processor (C/P) sectors requested more POP to accommodate PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 higher than anticipated harvest and prevent closure of the fishery prior to harvesting their allocations of Pacific whiting. At the start of 2016, the MS and C/P sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery were allocated 7.2 mt and 10.2 mt of POP respectively, per regulations at § 660.55(c)(1)(i)(B). According to the best fishery information available at the June 2016 meeting, POP bycatch in the MS sector was approximately double 2016 POP bycatch projections. At that time, best available information regarding bycatch rates of POP in the MS sector indicated that if those rates continued, only 53 percent (38,246 mt) of the Pacific whiting allocation would be harvested by the end of the 2016 fishery. Therefore, the Council recommended that NMFS monitor fishery harvest of Pacific whiting and POP relative to their respective at-sea sector allocations, update projections of Pacific whiting allocation attainment based on new, updated POP bycatch rates, and if necessary, transfer some POP that would otherwise go unharvested to either the MS or C/P sectors as needed. Current projections by the Northwest Fishery Science Center indicate that approximately 3.7 mt of POP off-the-top deductions for scientific research would remain unharvested through the end of the year. As of August 11, 2016, the C/ P sector has only harvested approximately 4.1 percent (0.41 mt) of its 2016 POP allocation indicating the C/P sector has sufficient POP allocation to cover their Pacific whiting harvests. However, approximately 70 percent (5.0 mt) of the total MS sector POP allocation has been harvested and only approximately 47 percent (34,256.46 mt) of the Pacific whiting allocation has been harvested. Using the most recent catch data through August 11, 2016, NMFS projects that at current rates, the MS sector will only harvest approximately 49 percent (35,486.35 mt) of its total Pacific whiting allocation (74,415 mt) before reaching the 7.2 mt POP allocation. Therefore, consistent with the Council’s June recommendation to take into account the best estimates of the amount of POP available and the updated bycatch rates in the MS and C/P fisheries, NMFS is transferring 3.0 mt of POP to the at-sea sectors. This rule transfers 3.0 mt of POP that is expected to go unharvested from the scientific research off-the-top deduction to the MS sector. This transfer increases the MS sector POP allocation from 7.2 mt to 10.2 mt. The remaining amount in the off-the-top deduction for scientific research is anticipated to go E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 170 (Thursday, September 1, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 60286-60288]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-21067]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 160706586-6780-01]
RIN 0648-XE726


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2016 Northern 
Albacore Tuna and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas

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

ACTION: Temporary final rule; adjustments to 2016 northern albacore 
quota and 2016 Atlantic bluefin tuna Reserve category quota.

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SUMMARY: NMFS adjusts the northern albacore (NALB) annual baseline 
quota for 2016 with available underharvest of the 2015 adjusted U.S. 
NALB quota. NMFS also augments the 2016 Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) 
Reserve category quota with available underharvest of the 2015 adjusted 
U.S. BFT quota. This action is necessary to implement binding 
recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of 
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention 
Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

DATES: Effective September 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Supporting documents such as the Environmental Assessments 
and Fishery Management Plans and their Amendments described below may 
be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. 
These documents also are available upon request from Sarah McLaughlin 
or Brad McHale at the telephone number below.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of NALB and 
BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 
CFR part 635. Section 635.27(e) describes the NALB annual quota 
recommended by ICCAT and the annual NALB quota adjustment process. 
Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-recommended U.S. BFT quota among 
the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations 
established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, 
October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and describes 
the annual BFT quota adjustment process. NMFS is required under ATCA 
and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a 
reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quotas.
    The NALB quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along 
with the BFT quota adjustment process, were previously analyzed in 
Amendment 7, which included a Final Environmental Impact Statement, 
Final Regulatory Impact Review, Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, 
and Final Social Impact Statement, published in August 2014. ICCAT 
conducted another BFT stock assessment update in 2014, and, after 
considering the scientific advice in the stock assessment, adopted a 
recommendation regarding western Atlantic bluefin tuna management that 
increases the U.S. bluefin tuna quota for 2015 and 2016 (ICCAT 
Recommendation 14-05: ``Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the 
Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic 
BFT Rebuilding Program''). NMFS published a final rule to implement 
that baseline annual U.S. BFT quota on August 28, 2015 (``BFT Quota 
Rule,'' 80 FR 52198), and prepared an Environmental Assessment, 
Regulatory Impact Review, and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for 
that action.

NALB Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    As described in the final rule implementing Amendment 7, since 
1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the NALB fishery. A 
multiyear management measure for northern albacore tuna was first 
adopted in 2003, setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) at 34,500 mt. 
ICCAT's Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) assessed 
the northern albacore tuna stock in 2009 and concluded that the stock 
continues to be overfished with overfishing occurring, recommending a 
level of catch of no more than 28,000 mt to meet ICCAT management 
objectives by 2020. In response, in 2009, ICCAT established the NALB 
rebuilding program via Recommendation 09-05, effective for 2010 and 
2011, setting a 28,000-mt TAC and including several provisions to limit 
catches by individual ICCAT Contracting Parties (for major and minor 
harvesters) and reduce the amount of unharvested quota that could be 
carried forward from one year to the next, from 50 percent to 25 
percent of a Contracting Party's initial catch quota. Subsequent ICCAT 
NALB Recommendations 11-04 and 13-05 (both entitled ``Supplemental 
Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the North Atlantic Albacore 
Rebuilding Program'') maintained the TAC at 28,000 mt for 2012 through 
2016 and contained specific recommendations regarding the NALB 
rebuilding program, including allocation of the annual TAC among the 
European Union, Chinese Taipei, the United States, and Venezuela. The 
U.S. quota for 2012 through 2016 has been 527 mt, annually. These 
recommendations limit Japanese northern albacore tuna catches to 4 
percent in weight of its total Atlantic bigeye tuna longline catch, and 
limits the catches of other ICCAT parties to 200 mt. Recommendation 13-
05 also specifies that quota adjustments for a given year's 
underharvest or overharvest must be made within 2 years from the 
subject year (i.e., adjustments based on 2015 catches would be made 
during or before 2017). The maximum underharvest can be carried forward 
from one year to the next remains at 25 percent of a Contracting 
Party's initial catch quota.
    The annual U.S. NALB quota of 527 mt is codified at Sec.  635.27(e) 
and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT 
NALB TAC recommendation is adopted). Because ICCAT adopted TACs for 
2014, 2015, and 2016 in Recommendation 13-05, NMFS currently 
anticipates that these annual base quotas would be in effect through 
2016, but they will remain in place unless and until a new NALB TAC and 
catch limits are adopted by ICCAT.
    Amendment 7 established the process by which NMFS adjusts the U.S. 
annual

[[Page 60287]]

NALB quota for any previous year's underharvest. NMFS makes such 
adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch 
information for the prior year is available and finalized.

Adjustment of the 2016 NALB Quota

    Based on NMFS' best available information as of July 21, 2016, the 
total 2015 NALB catch is 247.70 mt, which is 293.61 mt less than the 
2015 adjusted quota (i.e., 527 mt plus 14.31 mt of 2014 underharvest 
carried forward to 2015, totaling 541.31 mt). Thus, the underharvest 
for 2015 is 293.61 mt. Per the 2013 ICCAT recommendation, only 25 
percent of the total 2015 U.S. quota, or 131.75 mt, of that 
underharvest may be carried forward to the 2016 fishing year. 
Consistent with the process established in Amendment 7, the adjusted 
2016 NALB quota is 527 mt plus 131.75 mt, totaling 658.75 mt.

BFT Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    Pursuant to Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota 
to the extent that underharvest from the prior year's adjusted U.S. BFT 
quota is available. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT 
limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is 
available and finalized. Consistent with the BFT quota regulations, 
NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for 
inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota pursuant 
to regulatory determination criteria described at Sec.  635.27(a)(8), 
or for scientific research.
    NMFS implemented ICCAT Recommendation 14-05 in the BFT quota final 
rule in August 2015 (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). That rulemaking 
implemented Recommendation 14-05, which included a 2,000-mt western BFT 
TAC of 2,000 mt (for 2015 and 2016) and the recommended annual U.S. 
baseline quota of 1,058.79 mt. The total annual U.S. quota, including 
the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries 
in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED) is 1,083.79 mt. The 
maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from 
one year to the next is 10 percent of its total quota.
    The baseline annual U.S. BFT quota of 1,058.79 mt is codified at 
Sec.  635.27(a) and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, 
if a new ICCAT western BFT TAC recommendation is adopted). Because 
ICCAT adopted TACs for 2015 and 2016 in Recommendation 14-05, NMFS 
currently anticipates that these annual baseline quotas would be in 
effect through 2016, but they will remain in place unless and until a 
new western BFT TAC and catch limits are adopted by ICCAT.

Adjustment of the 2016 BFT Reserve Category Quota

    Based on NMFS' best available information as of July 21, 2016, the 
total 2015 BFT catch is 896.30 mt. This total catch includes 876.80 mt 
of landings and 19.50 mt of dead discards, which includes the best 
available estimate of 14.60 mt of dead discards for the pelagic 
longline fishery and the observed dead discards of 4.90 mt for the 
purse seine fishery. The total catch of 896.30 mt is 282.36 mt less 
than the quota available for 2015 landings and dead discards (i.e., 
1,083.79 mt plus 94.87 mt of 2014 underharvest carried forward to 2015, 
totaling 1,178.66 mt). Thus, the underharvest for 2015 is 282.36 mt. 
Per the 2014 ICCAT recommendation, only 10 percent of the total 2015 
U.S. quota, or 108.38 mt, of that underharvest may be carried forward 
to the 2016 fishing year. The codified Reserve category quota is 24.8 
mt. Consistent with the process established in Amendment 7, NMFS 
augments the Reserve category quota with 108.38 mt in this action. 
Effective January 1, 2016, NMFS adjusted the Reserve category quota for 
2016 to 92.2 mt by reallocating 101.4 mt of Purse Seine quota to the 
Reserve category (based on 2015 catch by Purse Seine category 
participants and provisions for calculating Purse Seine allocations in 
Amendment 7) and also transferring 34 mt of Reserve category quota to 
the Longline category (81 FR 19, January 4, 2016). Thus, as of the 
effective date of this action (September 1, 2016), the adjusted 2016 
Reserve category quota will be 200.58 mt (i.e., 92.2 mt plus 108.38 
mt).

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this 
final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 2006 
Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, ATCA, and other 
applicable law.
    The AA finds that it would be unnecessary and contrary to the 
public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for 
public comment on, this action for the following reasons:
    NMFS solicited and accepted public comment on the NALB quota 
implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the BFT quota 
adjustment process, as part of the Amendment 7 rulemaking. Comments on 
these provisions in response to the proposed Amendment 7 rulemaking 
were generally supportive and were addressed in the Response to 
Comments section of the Amendment 7 final rule. (See comments 18, 19, 
and 105 at 79 FR 71530-71531 and 71553). This action applies the 
formula noticed to the public in the earlier action (Amendment 7), 
using the best available data regarding 2015 catch and underharvest and 
calculating allowable underharvest consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations. The Amendment 7 rulemaking specifically provided prior 
notice of, and accepted public comment on, these formulaic quota 
adjustment processes and the manner in which they occur. The 
application of this formula in this action does not have discretionary 
aspects requiring additional agency consideration and thus public 
comment for this action would not and could not result in any changes.
    There is good cause under U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effective date and make the rule effective upon publication in 
the Federal Register. The fisheries for NALB and BFT began on January 
1, 2016. NMFS monitors NALB and BFT annual catch against the available 
quota. Delaying the effective date of these quota adjustments would 
unnecessarily complicate the management of the NALB and BFT fisheries, 
which rely on management flexibility to respond quickly to fishery 
conditions to ensure that fishermen have a reasonable opportunity to 
catch the available quota. For example, under the NALB fishery closure 
regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the annual fishery quota 
is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on the baseline 
(codified) quota versus the adjusted NALB quota would preclude the 
fishery from harvesting NALB that are legally available consistent with 
the ICCAT recommendations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as 
amended. Adjusting the BFT Reserve category as soon as possible 
provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer quota from the Reserve to 
other fishing categories inseason after considering the regulatory 
determination criteria, including fishery conditions at the time of the 
transfer. NMFS could not appropriately adjust the annual quotas for 
2016 sooner because the data needed to make the determination only 
became available in late July and additional time was needed for agency 
analysis and consideration of the data.
    Additionally, to prevent confusion and potential overharvests, 
these adjustments should be in place as soon as possible to allow the 
impacted sectors to benefit from any subsequent

[[Page 60288]]

quota adjustments to the fishing categories, give them a reasonable 
opportunity to catch available quota, and provide them the opportunity 
for planning operations accordingly.
    This action is being taken under Sec. Sec.  635.27(e) and 
635.27(a)(10) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    This final rule does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not 
required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the 
analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq., are inapplicable.

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

    Dated: August 25, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-21067 Filed 8-31-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P