Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing Permits, 12340-12341 [2017-04010]

Download as PDF 12340 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 40 / Thursday, March 2, 2017 / Notices Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Title: Application and Reports for Registration as a Tanner Agent. OMB Control Number: 0648–0179. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection). Number of Respondents: 12. Average Hours per Response: 2 hours each, for applications and reports. Burden Hours: 24. Needs and Uses: This request is for extension of a currently approved information collection. The Marine Mammal Protection Act exempts Alaskan natives from the prohibitions on taking, killing, or injuring marine mammals if the taking is done for subsistence or for creating and selling authentic native articles of handicraft or clothing. The natives need no permit, but non-natives who wish to act as a tanner or agent for such native products must register with NOAA and maintain and submit certain records. The information is necessary for law enforcement purposes. Affected Public: Business or other forprofit organizations; state, local or tribal government. Frequency: Annually and on occasion. Respondent’s Obligation: Mandatory. This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. Dated: February 24, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2017–04020 Filed 3–1–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:13 Mar 01, 2017 Jkt 241001 Title: Chesapeake Bay Watershed Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool. OMB Control Number: 0648–xxxx. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular (request for a new information collection). Number of Respondents: 503. Average Hours per Response: 90 minutes. Burden Hours: 528, annualized. Needs and Uses: This request is for a new information collection. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement of 2014 requires monitoring of progress towards the environmental literacy goal: ‘‘Enable students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watersheds.’’ The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Program, will ask the state education agencies for Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to survey their local education agencies (LEAs) to determine: (1) LEA capacity to implement a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy education, (2) student participation in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences during the school year, (3) sustainability practices at schools, and (4) LEA needs for improving environmental literacy education programming. LEAs (generally school districts, in some cases charter school administration) are asked to complete the survey on the status of their LEA on a set of key indicators for the four areas listed above. One individual from each LEA is asked to complete this survey once every two years. Affected Public: State, local or tribal government. Frequency: Biennially. Respondent’s Obligation: Voluntary. This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. Dated: February 24, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2017–04021 Filed 3–1–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE943 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing Permits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: On November 16, 2016, NMFS published a Notice of Intent (NOI) announcing our intent to issue exempted fishing permits (EFPs), scientific research permits (SRPs), letters of acknowledgement (LOAs), and display permits for research regarding highly migratory species (HMS) in 2017. In the NOI, NMFS requested comments regarding the issuance of EFPs and LOAs for HMS research. In general, EFPs and related permits would authorize collection of a limited number of tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data collection and public display. Comments were accepted on the NOI until December 16, 2016, and many of the comments received were related to white shark research and the need to provide additional opportunity for public review of such research before permits are issued. In this notice, NMFS summarizes public comments received on the initial NOI, and announces the receipt of applications for permits under the EFP program to conduct research on white sharks during 2017. NMFS invites additional public comment on these requests. SUMMARY: Written comments must be received on or before April 3, 2017. ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by either of the following methods: • Email: nmfs.hms.efp2017@ noaa.gov. Include in the subject line the following identifier: 0648–XE943. • Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell at (301) 427–8503. The comments received on the NOI that published in November 2016, the Federal Register notice, and the applications for EFPs received to date may be found on the HMS Management Division’s Web site at: http:// DATES: E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 40 / Thursday, March 2, 2017 / Notices www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ compliance/efp/index.html. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Background On November 16, 2016 (81 FR 80646), NMFS published a Notice of Intent (NOI) announcing the intent to issue EFPs, scientific research permits (SRP), display permits, LOAs, and chartering permits for the collection and tagging of a limited number of tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data collection and public display. Regulations specify that ‘‘NMFS may authorize activities otherwise prohibited by the regulations contained in this part for the conduct of scientific research, the acquisition of information and data, the enhancement of safety at sea, the purpose of collecting animals for public education or display, the investigation of bycatch, economic discard and regulatory discard, or for chartering arrangements.’’ 50 CFR 635.32(a)(1). During the comment period for the November 2016 NOI, NMFS received numerous comments regarding previous years’ white shark research in Federal waters, focusing primarily on concerns about the need for coordination among researchers regarding the potential effects of one project on another. The volume of these comments indicated to us that any EFPs or SRP applications involving white sharks in 2017 should be considered ‘‘controversial’’ and would warrant an additional opportunity for public comment, which we would consider before issuing the permits. Summary of Comments In response to the NOI, NMFS received comments regarding white shark research in Federal waters and impacts to existing research being conducted in state or Federal waters. A number of the comments requested that NMFS consult with the public before issuing permits for white shark research for the purpose of expressing concerns related to the specifics of those EFP applications (e.g., any potential interference with ongoing white shark research). Additionally, many of the comments specifically mentioned interactions between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts markrecapture study on white sharks in their state waters and the research activities being conducted by the research group OCEARCH in adjacent Federal waters. NMFS also received a comment in support of issuing an EFP to a purse seine fishery participant and two VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:13 Mar 01, 2017 Jkt 241001 comments in support of the continued issuance of display permits for Atlantic HMS. In 2016, NMFS issued an SRP to OCEARCH to tag and collect tissue samples from a variety of sharks in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, including white, tiger, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, bull, sand tiger, shortfin mako, longfin mako, oceanic whitetip, blue, silky, and Caribbean reef sharks. In mid-September, OCEARCH moved to Federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts and began their tagging and collection activities. NMFS was not aware of any potential conflict between OCEARCH’s shark research in Federal waters and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts white shark research in state waters until after the 2016 SRP had been issued and the research was underway. Once it became clear that OCEARCH was intending to conduct research in Federal waters just outside of Massachusetts state waters, the state and other organizations expressed concern regarding the potential impact of OCEARCH’s tagging activities on the state’s mark-recapture study. Current Applications for White Shark Research In 2016, NMFS issued an SRP to OCEARCH because the group was deploying archival tags on Atlantic sharks, and the regulations in place at the time specifically required written authorization for such activities. Due to the final rule modifying archival tag permitting and reporting requirements (August 19, 2016, 81 FR 55376), OCEARCH no longer needs an SRP for its tagging activities, as archival tagging activities no longer require written authorization from NMFS. NMFS recently received an application for OCEARCH to conduct tagging and nonlethal biological sampling activities within Federal waters in 2017. Because the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act states that scientific research activity conducted on a scientific research vessel is not defined as ‘‘fishing’’ under the Act, NMFS does not otherwise require a permit for the research activities and would consider issuing a LOA to OCEARCH and its associated scientists after reviewing their research plan. An LOA only acknowledges the activity as scientific research, but NMFS has in the past requested that applicants comply with certain terms and conditions, usually in association with Endangered Species Act requirements. Since research is not considered fishing, there would be no regulatory exemptions or limitations on fishing PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 12341 gear or fishing areas (within Federal waters) as long as the activities being conducted are consistent with the research plan provided to NMFS. In addition to the application from OCEARCH, NMFS has received one application from Dr. Gregory Skomal, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, to conduct research on white sharks from both research vessels and recreational vessels. Dr. Skomal and associated researchers would examine the fine- and broad-scale movements of several shark species by tagging them with an acoustic transmitter, M-tag, and/or a satellite tag. Non-lethal biological samples (e.g., blood samples, fin clips) would also be collected from the tagged sharks. The research would be conducted in Federal waters from Florida to Maine. NMFS expects that this research would require an EFP if issued because part of this research would be conducted from private vessels, not bona-fide research vessels. NMFS invites comments on this specific application and the impacts it may pose to other research being conducted on white sharks in the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. NMFS notes that before issuing any EFP or SRP, NMFS does consider whether environmental impacts or socioeconomic impacts will occur beyond the existing analyses and whether additional consultation or analyses are needed over the impacts. Absent such impacts, we do not conduct detailed analyses about the impact of one research project on another. Coordination among researchers regarding research goals, methodologies, and research areas and practices is primarily the responsibility of the researchers themselves. Comments must be submitted by April 3, 2017. For more information about the applications, see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 24, 2017. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–04010 Filed 3–1–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 40 (Thursday, March 2, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12340-12341]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-04010]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE943


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing Permits

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: On November 16, 2016, NMFS published a Notice of Intent (NOI) 
announcing our intent to issue exempted fishing permits (EFPs), 
scientific research permits (SRPs), letters of acknowledgement (LOAs), 
and display permits for research regarding highly migratory species 
(HMS) in 2017. In the NOI, NMFS requested comments regarding the 
issuance of EFPs and LOAs for HMS research. In general, EFPs and 
related permits would authorize collection of a limited number of 
tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the 
Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of 
scientific data collection and public display. Comments were accepted 
on the NOI until December 16, 2016, and many of the comments received 
were related to white shark research and the need to provide additional 
opportunity for public review of such research before permits are 
issued. In this notice, NMFS summarizes public comments received on the 
initial NOI, and announces the receipt of applications for permits 
under the EFP program to conduct research on white sharks during 2017. 
NMFS invites additional public comment on these requests.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 3, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by either of the following 
methods:
     Email: nmfs.hms.efp2017@noaa.gov. Include in the subject 
line the following identifier: 0648-XE943.
     Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management 
Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 
20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell at (301) 427-8503. The 
comments received on the NOI that published in November 2016, the 
Federal Register notice, and the applications for EFPs received to date 
may be found on the HMS Management Division's Web site at: http://

[[Page 12341]]

www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/efp/index.html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On November 16, 2016 (81 FR 80646), NMFS published a Notice of 
Intent (NOI) announcing the intent to issue EFPs, scientific research 
permits (SRP), display permits, LOAs, and chartering permits for the 
collection and tagging of a limited number of tunas, swordfish, 
billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, 
Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data 
collection and public display.
    Regulations specify that ``NMFS may authorize activities otherwise 
prohibited by the regulations contained in this part for the conduct of 
scientific research, the acquisition of information and data, the 
enhancement of safety at sea, the purpose of collecting animals for 
public education or display, the investigation of bycatch, economic 
discard and regulatory discard, or for chartering arrangements.'' 50 
CFR 635.32(a)(1). During the comment period for the November 2016 NOI, 
NMFS received numerous comments regarding previous years' white shark 
research in Federal waters, focusing primarily on concerns about the 
need for coordination among researchers regarding the potential effects 
of one project on another. The volume of these comments indicated to us 
that any EFPs or SRP applications involving white sharks in 2017 should 
be considered ``controversial'' and would warrant an additional 
opportunity for public comment, which we would consider before issuing 
the permits.

Summary of Comments

    In response to the NOI, NMFS received comments regarding white 
shark research in Federal waters and impacts to existing research being 
conducted in state or Federal waters. A number of the comments 
requested that NMFS consult with the public before issuing permits for 
white shark research for the purpose of expressing concerns related to 
the specifics of those EFP applications (e.g., any potential 
interference with ongoing white shark research). Additionally, many of 
the comments specifically mentioned interactions between the 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts mark-recapture study on white sharks in 
their state waters and the research activities being conducted by the 
research group OCEARCH in adjacent Federal waters. NMFS also received a 
comment in support of issuing an EFP to a purse seine fishery 
participant and two comments in support of the continued issuance of 
display permits for Atlantic HMS.
    In 2016, NMFS issued an SRP to OCEARCH to tag and collect tissue 
samples from a variety of sharks in Federal waters of the Gulf of 
Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, including white, tiger, great hammerhead, 
smooth hammerhead, bull, sand tiger, shortfin mako, longfin mako, 
oceanic whitetip, blue, silky, and Caribbean reef sharks. In mid-
September, OCEARCH moved to Federal waters off the coast of 
Massachusetts and began their tagging and collection activities. NMFS 
was not aware of any potential conflict between OCEARCH's shark 
research in Federal waters and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts white 
shark research in state waters until after the 2016 SRP had been issued 
and the research was underway. Once it became clear that OCEARCH was 
intending to conduct research in Federal waters just outside of 
Massachusetts state waters, the state and other organizations expressed 
concern regarding the potential impact of OCEARCH's tagging activities 
on the state's mark-recapture study.

Current Applications for White Shark Research

    In 2016, NMFS issued an SRP to OCEARCH because the group was 
deploying archival tags on Atlantic sharks, and the regulations in 
place at the time specifically required written authorization for such 
activities. Due to the final rule modifying archival tag permitting and 
reporting requirements (August 19, 2016, 81 FR 55376), OCEARCH no 
longer needs an SRP for its tagging activities, as archival tagging 
activities no longer require written authorization from NMFS. NMFS 
recently received an application for OCEARCH to conduct tagging and 
non-lethal biological sampling activities within Federal waters in 
2017. Because the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act states that scientific research activity conducted on a scientific 
research vessel is not defined as ``fishing'' under the Act, NMFS does 
not otherwise require a permit for the research activities and would 
consider issuing a LOA to OCEARCH and its associated scientists after 
reviewing their research plan. An LOA only acknowledges the activity as 
scientific research, but NMFS has in the past requested that applicants 
comply with certain terms and conditions, usually in association with 
Endangered Species Act requirements. Since research is not considered 
fishing, there would be no regulatory exemptions or limitations on 
fishing gear or fishing areas (within Federal waters) as long as the 
activities being conducted are consistent with the research plan 
provided to NMFS.
    In addition to the application from OCEARCH, NMFS has received one 
application from Dr. Gregory Skomal, Massachusetts Division of Marine 
Fisheries, to conduct research on white sharks from both research 
vessels and recreational vessels. Dr. Skomal and associated researchers 
would examine the fine- and broad-scale movements of several shark 
species by tagging them with an acoustic transmitter, M-tag, and/or a 
satellite tag. Non-lethal biological samples (e.g., blood samples, fin 
clips) would also be collected from the tagged sharks. The research 
would be conducted in Federal waters from Florida to Maine. NMFS 
expects that this research would require an EFP if issued because part 
of this research would be conducted from private vessels, not bona-fide 
research vessels. NMFS invites comments on this specific application 
and the impacts it may pose to other research being conducted on white 
sharks in the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
    NMFS notes that before issuing any EFP or SRP, NMFS does consider 
whether environmental impacts or socioeconomic impacts will occur 
beyond the existing analyses and whether additional consultation or 
analyses are needed over the impacts. Absent such impacts, we do not 
conduct detailed analyses about the impact of one research project on 
another. Coordination among researchers regarding research goals, 
methodologies, and research areas and practices is primarily the 
responsibility of the researchers themselves.
    Comments must be submitted by April 3, 2017. For more information 
about the applications, see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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

    Dated: February 24, 2017.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-04010 Filed 3-1-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P