Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 19615-19618 [2017-08777]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 81 / Friday, April 28, 2017 / Rules and Regulations (b) The effective date of the plan submitted on January 10, 2013 is May 30, 2017. [FR Doc. 2017–08668 Filed 4–27–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 64 [WC Docket No. 13–39; FCC 13–135; FCC 14–175] Rural Call Completion Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements; Correction Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Final rule; correction. AGENCY: The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) published a document in the Federal Register on March 4, 2015, concerning its rural call completion recordkeeping and reporting requirements. That document inadvertently omitted reference to the Order on Reconsideration (Reconsideration Order) WC Docket No. 13–39, FCC 14–175, which adopted minor amendments to those requirements. This document corrects that error. DATES: This correction is effective April 28, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nirali Patel, Wireline Competition Bureau, Competition Policy Division, (202) 418–7830, or send an email to nirali.patel@fcc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document makes the following corrections to the Commission’s final rule, FR Doc. No. 2015–04415, published on March 4, 2015, at 80 FR 11594: 1. On page 115494, in the heading of the rule, add ‘‘; FCC 14–175’’ after ‘‘FCC 13–135’’. 2. On page 11594, in the SUMMARY section, in the first sentence, add ‘‘and the Commission’s Order on Reconsideration (Reconsideration Order) WC Docket No. 13–39, FCC 14– 175.’’ to the end of the sentence. 3. On page 11594, In the DATES section, add ‘‘and the amendments to 47 CFR 64.2101, 64.2103, and 64.2105, published at 79 FR 73227, December 10, 2014, and corrected at 80 FR 1007, January 8, 2015,’’ after ‘‘December 17, 2013’’ and before ‘‘are effective on March 4, 2015.’’ 4. On page 11594, in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section: i. In the first sentence, add ‘‘and the Commission’s Reconsideration Order, jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Apr 27, 2017 Jkt 241001 FCC 14–175, published at 79 FR 73227, December 10, 2014, and corrected at 80 FR 1007, January 8, 2015.’’ to the end of the sentence; ii. In the third sentence, add ‘‘, and paragraph 66 of document WC Docket No. 13–39, FCC 14–175.’’ to the end of the sentence; and iii. In the third column, under the heading ‘‘Needs and Uses,’’ add the following two sentences between the twelfth and thirteenth sentences: ‘‘On November 13, 2014, the Commission adopted a Reconsideration Order in WC Docket No. 13–39, FCC 14–175, 79 FR 73227, corrected at 80 FR 1007, Rural Call Completion. The Reconsideration Order reduced the burden on covered providers by excluding certain traffic from the reporting and retention requirements adopted in the Order.’’ Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2017–08581 Filed 4–27–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150121066–5717–02] RIN 0648–XF346 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason Angling category retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limit that applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) should be adjusted for the remainder of 2017, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. NMFS is adjusting the Angling category BFT daily retention limit to two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits); and three school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip for charter SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19615 vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/ Headboat permits when fishing recreationally). These retention limits are effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT. DATES: Effective May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. 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 BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments, and in accordance with implementing regulations. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota. As a method for limiting fishing mortality on juvenile BFT, ICCAT recommends a tolerance limit on the annual harvest of BFT measuring less than 115 cm (straight fork length) to no more than 10 percent by weight of a Contracting Party’s total BFT quota. Any overharvest of such tolerance limit from one year must be subtracted from the tolerance limit applicable in the next year or the year after that. The United States implements this provision by limiting the harvest of school BFT (measuring 27 to less than 47 inches) as appropriate to not exceed the 10-percent limit. The currently codified baseline U.S. quota is 1,058.9 mt (not including the 25 mt ICCAT allocated to the United States to account for bycatch of BFT in pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant Gear Restricted Area). See § 635.27(a). The currently codified Angling category quota is 195.2 mt (108.4 mt for school BFT, 82.3 mt for large school/small medium BFT, and 4.5 mt for large medium/giant BFT). The 2017 BFT fishing year, which is managed on a calendar-year basis and subject to an annual calendar-year E:\FR\FM\28APR1.SGM 28APR1 19616 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 81 / Friday, April 28, 2017 / Rules and Regulations quota, began January 1, 2017. The Angling category season opened January 1, 2017, and continues through December 31, 2017. The size classes of BFT are summarized in Table 1. Please note that large school and small medium BFT traditionally have been managed as one size class, as described below, i.e., a limit of one large school/ small medium BFT (measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). Currently, the default Angling category daily retention limit of one school, large school, or small medium BFT applies (§ 635.23(b)(2)). This retention limit applies to HMS Angling and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels (when fishing recreationally for BFT). TABLE 1—BFT SIZE CLASSES Size class Curved fork length School ............................................. Large school ................................... Small medium ................................. Large medium ................................. Giant ................................................ 27 47 59 73 81 to less than 47 inches (68.5 to less than 119 cm). to less than 59 inches (119 to less than 150 cm). to less than 73 inches (150 to less than 185 cm). to less than 81 inches (185 to less than 206 cm). inches or greater (206 cm or greater). Table 2 summarizes the recreational quota, subquotas, landings, and retention limit information for 2015 and 2016, by size class. TABLE 2—ANGLING CATEGORY QUOTAS (mt), ESTIMATED LANDINGS (mt), AND DAILY RETENTION LIMITS, 2015–2016 2015 Subquotas and total quota (mt) Size class 2016 Amount of subquotas and total quota used (percent) Landings (mt) Subquotas and total quota (mt) Landings (mt) Amount of subquotas and total quota used (percent) School ...................................................... Large School/Small Medium .................... Trophy: Large Medium/Giant ................... 108.4 82.3 4.5 26.2 80.2 6.7 24 97 149 108.4 82.3 4.5 40.3 96.8 5.9 37 118 131 Total .................................................. 195.2 113.1 58 195.2 143 73 January 1 through May 14: 1 school, large school, or small medium (default) January 1 through April 22: 1 school, large school, or small medium (default) May 15 through December 31 (80 FR 27863, May 15, 2015): April 23 through December 31 (81 FR 23438, April 21, 2016): Private boats: 1 school and 1 large school/small medium Private boats: 2 school and 1 large school/small medium Charter/Headboats: 2 school and 1 large school/ small medium jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Daily Retention Limits (per Vessel) Charter/Headboats: 3 school and 1 large school/ small medium Adjustment of Angling Category Daily Retention Limit Under § 635.23(b)(3), NMFS may increase or decrease the Angling category retention limit for any size class of BFT after considering regulatory determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). Recreational retention limits may be adjusted separately for specific vessel type, such as private vessels, headboats, or charter vessels. NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to the change in the Angling category retention limit. The criteria and their application are discussed below. NMFS considered the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Apr 27, 2017 Jkt 241001 the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)). Biological samples collected from BFT landed by recreational fishermen continue to provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT would support the collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS considered the catches of the Angling category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii)). NMFS anticipates that the full 2017 Angling category quota would not be harvested under the default retention limit. As shown in Table 2, Angling category landings were approximately 58 and 73 percent of the PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 184.3-mt annual Angling category quota in 2015 and 2016, respectively. NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on bluefin tuna rebuilding and overfishing and the effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). These retention limits would be consistent with the quotas established and analyzed in the bluefin tuna quota final rule (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015), and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, and is not expected to negatively impact stock health or to affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those documents. It is also important that we limit landings to the subquotas both to adhere to the FMP quota allocations and to ensure that E:\FR\FM\28APR1.SGM 28APR1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 81 / Friday, April 28, 2017 / Rules and Regulations landings are as consistent as possible with the pattern of fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age) that was assumed in the projections of stock rebuilding. Another principal consideration in setting the retention limit is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full Angling category quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). The 2016 school bluefin tuna landings represent 3.7 percent of the total U.S. quota for 2016, well under the ICCAT recommended 10-percent limit. Landings of school bluefin tuna in 2015 represented 2.4 percent of the total U.S. quota for 2015. Given that the Angling category landings fell short of the available quota and considering the regulatory criteria above, NMFS has determined that the Angling category retention limit applicable to participants on HMS Angling and HMS Charter/ Headboat category permitted vessels should be adjusted upwards from the default level. NMFS has also concluded that implementation of separate limits for private and charter/headboat vessels remains appropriate, recognizing the different nature, socio-economic needs, and recent landings results of the two components of the recreational BFT fishery. For example, charter operators historically have indicated that a multifish retention limit is vital to their ability to attract customers. In addition, Large Pelagics Survey estimates indicate that charter/headboat BFT landings averaged approximately 30 percent of recent recreational landings for 2015 through 2016, with the remaining 70 percent landed by private vessels. Therefore, for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits), this action adjusts the limit upwards to two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip (i.e., two BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). For charter vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/Headboat permits), this action adjusts the limit upwards to three school BFT and one large school/ small medium BFT per vessel per day/ trip when fishing recreationally for BFT (i.e., three BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). These retention limits are effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Apr 27, 2017 Jkt 241001 BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a private vessel (fishing under the Angling category retention limit) takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the day/trip limit of two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT applies and may not be exceeded upon landing. NMFS anticipates that the BFT daily retention limits in this action will result in landings during 2017 that would not exceed the available subquotas. Lower retention limits could result in substantial underharvest of the codified Angling category subquota, and increasing the daily limits further may risk exceeding the available quota, contrary to the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. NMFS is not setting higher school BFT limit for private and charter vessels due to the potential risk of exceeding the ICCAT tolerance limit on school BFT and other considerations, such as potential effort shifts to BFT fishing as a result of current, reduced recreational retention limits for New England groundfish and striped bass. NMFS will monitor 2017 landings closely and will make further adjustments, including closure if necessary, with an inseason action if warranted. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely through the mandatory landings and catch reports. HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the Android or iPhone app. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments or closures are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. Subsequent actions, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. HMS Angling and HMS Charter/ Headboat category permit holders may catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at § 635.26. Anglers are also reminded that PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19617 all BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize survival, and without removing the fish from the water, consistent with requirements at § 635.21(a)(1). For additional information on safe handling, see the ‘‘Careful Catch and Release’’ brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. Classification The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the daily retention limit for the remainder of 2017 at this time is impracticable. Based on available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, immediate adjustment to the Angling category BFT daily retention limit from the default levels is warranted to allow fishermen to take advantage of the availability of fish and of quota. NMFS could not have proposed these actions earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated data and information from the 2016 Angling category fishery. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having appropriately considered that data, it would preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the regulatory criteria, and/or could result in selection of a retention limit inappropriately high or low for the amount of quota available for the period. Fisheries under the Angling category daily retention limit are currently underway and thus prior notice would be contrary to the public interest. Delays in increasing daily recreational BFT retention limit would adversely affect those HMS Angling and Charter/ Headboat category vessels that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the default retention limit of one school, large school, or small medium BFT per day/trip and may exacerbate the problem of low catch rates and quota rollovers. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment to the BFT daily retention limit from the default level would result in minimal E:\FR\FM\28APR1.SGM 28APR1 19618 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 81 / Friday, April 28, 2017 / Rules and Regulations risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS provides notification of retention limit adjustments by publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on hmspermits.noaa.gov. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under § 635.23(b)(3), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: April 26, 2017. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–08777 Filed 4–27–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 170104016–7016–01] RIN 0648–XF138 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2017 and 2018 Sector Operations Plans and 2017 Allocation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Interim final rule. AGENCY: We have approved sector operations plans for fishing years 2017 and 2018, granting regulatory exemptions for fishing years 2017 and 2018, and providing Northeast multispecies annual catch entitlements to approved sectors for fishing year 2017. Approval of sector operations plans is necessary to allocate annual catch entitlements to the sectors and for the sectors to operate. The Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan allows limited access permit holders to form sectors, and requires sectors to submit their operations plans and contracts to us, NMFS, for approval or jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:52 Apr 27, 2017 Jkt 241001 disapproval. This interim final rule approves sector operations plans, grants regulatory exemptions for sectors, and provides preliminary allocations of annual catch entitlements to sectors for the start of the 2017 fishing year. Changes to exemptions and updates to sector annual catch entitlements may be considered in subsequent rulemakings. DATES: Sector operations plans and regulatory exemptions are effective May 1, 2017, through April 30, 2019. Northeast multispecies annual catch entitlements for sectors are effective May 1, 2017, through April 30, 2018. The default catch limit for Eastern Georges Bank cod is effective May 1, 2017, through July 31, 2017, or until the final rule for Framework 56 is implemented if prior to July 31, 2017. Written comments must be received on or before May 30, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2017–0016, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2017-0016, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Kyle Molton, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of each sector’s final operations plan and contract are available from the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. These documents are also accessible via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Molton, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9236. To review Federal Register documents referenced in this PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 rule, you can visit: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainable/species/multispecies. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Amendment 13 to the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (69 FR 22906; April 27, 2004) established a process for forming sectors within the NE multispecies (groundfish) fishery, and Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 18262; April 9, 2010), followed by Framework Adjustment 45 to the FMP (76 FR 23042; April 25, 2011) and Framework 48 to the FMP (78 FR 26118; May 3, 2013), expanded and revised sector management. The FMP defines a sector as ‘‘[a] group of persons (three or more persons, none of whom have an ownership interest in the other two persons in the sector) holding limited access vessel permits who have voluntarily entered into a contract and agree to certain fishing restrictions for a specified period of time, and which has been granted a TAC(s) [sic] in order to achieve objectives consistent with applicable FMP goals and objectives.’’ Sectors are self-selecting, meaning each sector can choose its members. The NE multispecies sector management system allocates a portion of the NE multispecies stocks to each sector. These annual sector allocations are known as annual catch entitlements (ACEs) and are based on the collective fishing history of a sector’s members. Sectors may receive allocations of largemesh NE multispecies stocks with the exception of Atlantic halibut, windowpane flounder, Atlantic wolffish, and ocean pout, which are non-allocated species. The ACEs are a portion of a stock’s annual catch limit (ACL) available to commercial NE multispecies vessels within a sector. A sector determines how to harvest its ACEs and may decide to limit operations to fewer vessels. Because sectors elect to receive an allocation under a quota-based system, the FMP grants sector vessels several ‘‘universal’’ exemptions from the FMP’s effort controls. These universal exemptions apply to: Trip limits on allocated stocks; the Georges Bank (GB) Seasonal Closure Area; NE multispecies days-at-sea (DAS) restrictions; the requirement to use a 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) mesh codend when fishing with selective gear on GB; portions of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Cod Protection Closures; and the at-sea monitoring (ASM) coverage level for sector vessels fishing exclusively in the Southern New England (SNE) and Inshore GB Broad Stock Areas (BSA) with extra-large mesh E:\FR\FM\28APR1.SGM 28APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 81 (Friday, April 28, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19615-19618]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-08777]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150121066-5717-02]
RIN 0648-XF346


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason Angling category retention limit 
adjustment.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily 
retention limit that applies to vessels permitted in the Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat 
category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) should be adjusted for 
the remainder of 2017, based on consideration of the regulatory 
determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. NMFS is 
adjusting the Angling category BFT daily retention limit to two school 
BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip for 
private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling category permits); and 
three school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per 
day/trip for charter vessels (i.e., those with HMS Charter/Headboat 
permits when fishing recreationally). These retention limits are 
effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS 
prohibits targeted fishing for BFT.

DATES: Effective May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017.

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 BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the 
allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory 
Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 
58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments, and in accordance with 
implementing regulations. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-
Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable 
opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota.
    As a method for limiting fishing mortality on juvenile BFT, ICCAT 
recommends a tolerance limit on the annual harvest of BFT measuring 
less than 115 cm (straight fork length) to no more than 10 percent by 
weight of a Contracting Party's total BFT quota. Any overharvest of 
such tolerance limit from one year must be subtracted from the 
tolerance limit applicable in the next year or the year after that. The 
United States implements this provision by limiting the harvest of 
school BFT (measuring 27 to less than 47 inches) as appropriate to not 
exceed the 10-percent limit.
    The currently codified baseline U.S. quota is 1,058.9 mt (not 
including the 25 mt ICCAT allocated to the United States to account for 
bycatch of BFT in pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant 
Gear Restricted Area). See Sec.  635.27(a). The currently codified 
Angling category quota is 195.2 mt (108.4 mt for school BFT, 82.3 mt 
for large school/small medium BFT, and 4.5 mt for large medium/giant 
BFT).
    The 2017 BFT fishing year, which is managed on a calendar-year 
basis and subject to an annual calendar-year

[[Page 19616]]

quota, began January 1, 2017. The Angling category season opened 
January 1, 2017, and continues through December 31, 2017. The size 
classes of BFT are summarized in Table 1. Please note that large school 
and small medium BFT traditionally have been managed as one size class, 
as described below, i.e., a limit of one large school/small medium BFT 
(measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). Currently, the default Angling 
category daily retention limit of one school, large school, or small 
medium BFT applies (Sec.  635.23(b)(2)). This retention limit applies 
to HMS Angling and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels 
(when fishing recreationally for BFT).

                        Table 1--BFT Size Classes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Size class                       Curved fork length
------------------------------------------------------------------------
School............................  27 to less than 47 inches (68.5 to
                                     less than 119 cm).
Large school......................  47 to less than 59 inches (119 to
                                     less than 150 cm).
Small medium......................  59 to less than 73 inches (150 to
                                     less than 185 cm).
Large medium......................  73 to less than 81 inches (185 to
                                     less than 206 cm).
Giant.............................  81 inches or greater (206 cm or
                                     greater).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Table 2 summarizes the recreational quota, subquotas, landings, and 
retention limit information for 2015 and 2016, by size class.

                          Table 2--Angling Category Quotas (mt), Estimated Landings (mt), and Daily Retention Limits, 2015-2016
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               2015                                            2016
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Amount of                                       Amount of
                                                           Subquotas and                   subquotas and   Subquotas and                   subquotas and
                       Size class                           total quota    Landings (mt)    total quota     total quota    Landings (mt)    total quota
                                                               (mt)                       used (percent)       (mt)                       used (percent)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
School..................................................           108.4            26.2              24           108.4            40.3              37
Large School/Small Medium...............................            82.3            80.2              97            82.3            96.8             118
Trophy: Large Medium/Giant..............................             4.5             6.7             149             4.5             5.9             131
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................           195.2           113.1              58           195.2             143              73
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Daily Retention Limits (per Vessel)                       January 1 through May 14: 1 school, large
                                                          school, or small medium (default)
                                                          January 1 through April 22: 1 school, large
                                                          school, or small medium (default)
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          May 15 through December 31 (80 FR 27863, May
                                                          15, 2015):
                                                          April 23 through December 31 (81 FR 23438,
                                                          April 21, 2016):
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Private boats: 1 school and 1 large school/
                                                          small medium
                                                          Private boats: 2 school and 1 large school/
                                                          small medium
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Charter/Headboats: 2 school and 1 large school/
                                                          small medium
                                                          Charter/Headboats: 3 school and 1 large school/
                                                          small medium
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adjustment of Angling Category Daily Retention Limit

    Under Sec.  635.23(b)(3), NMFS may increase or decrease the Angling 
category retention limit for any size class of BFT after considering 
regulatory determination criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). 
Recreational retention limits may be adjusted separately for specific 
vessel type, such as private vessels, headboats, or charter vessels.
    NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and 
their applicability to the change in the Angling category retention 
limit. The criteria and their application are discussed below.
    NMFS considered the usefulness of information obtained from catches 
in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of 
the status of the stock (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(i)). Biological samples 
collected from BFT landed by recreational fishermen continue to provide 
NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT 
age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional 
opportunity to land BFT would support the collection of a broad range 
of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes.
    NMFS considered the catches of the Angling category quota to date 
and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no 
adjustment is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii)). NMFS anticipates that the 
full 2017 Angling category quota would not be harvested under the 
default retention limit. As shown in Table 2, Angling category landings 
were approximately 58 and 73 percent of the 184.3-mt annual Angling 
category quota in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
    NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on bluefin tuna 
rebuilding and overfishing and the effects of the adjustment on 
accomplishing the objectives of the FMP (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and 
(vi)). These retention limits would be consistent with the quotas 
established and analyzed in the bluefin tuna quota final rule (80 FR 
52198, August 28, 2015), and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP and amendments, and is not expected to negatively impact stock 
health or to affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those 
documents. It is also important that we limit landings to the subquotas 
both to adhere to the FMP quota allocations and to ensure that

[[Page 19617]]

landings are as consistent as possible with the pattern of fishing 
mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age) that was assumed in the 
projections of stock rebuilding.
    Another principal consideration in setting the retention limit is 
the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full Angling 
category quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield 
on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit 
categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to 
Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)).
    The 2016 school bluefin tuna landings represent 3.7 percent of the 
total U.S. quota for 2016, well under the ICCAT recommended 10-percent 
limit. Landings of school bluefin tuna in 2015 represented 2.4 percent 
of the total U.S. quota for 2015. Given that the Angling category 
landings fell short of the available quota and considering the 
regulatory criteria above, NMFS has determined that the Angling 
category retention limit applicable to participants on HMS Angling and 
HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels should be adjusted 
upwards from the default level. NMFS has also concluded that 
implementation of separate limits for private and charter/headboat 
vessels remains appropriate, recognizing the different nature, socio-
economic needs, and recent landings results of the two components of 
the recreational BFT fishery. For example, charter operators 
historically have indicated that a multi-fish retention limit is vital 
to their ability to attract customers. In addition, Large Pelagics 
Survey estimates indicate that charter/headboat BFT landings averaged 
approximately 30 percent of recent recreational landings for 2015 
through 2016, with the remaining 70 percent landed by private vessels.
    Therefore, for private vessels (i.e., those with HMS Angling 
category permits), this action adjusts the limit upwards to two school 
BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip 
(i.e., two BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT 
measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). For charter vessels (i.e., those 
with HMS Charter/Headboat permits), this action adjusts the limit 
upwards to three school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per 
vessel per day/trip when fishing recreationally for BFT (i.e., three 
BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to 
less than 73 inches). These retention limits are effective in all 
areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted 
fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the 
daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example, whether a 
private vessel (fishing under the Angling category retention limit) 
takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the day/trip limit 
of two school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT applies and may 
not be exceeded upon landing.
    NMFS anticipates that the BFT daily retention limits in this action 
will result in landings during 2017 that would not exceed the available 
subquotas. Lower retention limits could result in substantial 
underharvest of the codified Angling category subquota, and increasing 
the daily limits further may risk exceeding the available quota, 
contrary to the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments. NMFS is not setting higher school BFT limit for private and 
charter vessels due to the potential risk of exceeding the ICCAT 
tolerance limit on school BFT and other considerations, such as 
potential effort shifts to BFT fishing as a result of current, reduced 
recreational retention limits for New England groundfish and striped 
bass. NMFS will monitor 2017 landings closely and will make further 
adjustments, including closure if necessary, with an inseason action if 
warranted.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely through the 
mandatory landings and catch reports. HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling 
category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT 
retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of 
each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the Android or 
iPhone app. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of 
BFT, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments or 
closures are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to 
enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, 
all geographic areas. Subsequent actions, if any, will be published in 
the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic 
Tunas Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access 
hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason 
adjustments.
    HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat category permit holders may 
catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all sizes, subject to the 
requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at 
Sec.  635.26. Anglers are also reminded that all BFT that are released 
must be handled in a manner that will maximize survival, and without 
removing the fish from the water, consistent with requirements at Sec.  
635.21(a)(1). For additional information on safe handling, see the 
``Careful Catch and Release'' brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond 
to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, 
the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in 
the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public 
comment to implement the daily retention limit for the remainder of 
2017 at this time is impracticable. Based on available BFT quotas, 
fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the 
fishing grounds, immediate adjustment to the Angling category BFT daily 
retention limit from the default levels is warranted to allow fishermen 
to take advantage of the availability of fish and of quota. NMFS could 
not have proposed these actions earlier, as it needed to consider and 
respond to updated data and information from the 2016 Angling category 
fishery. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having 
appropriately considered that data, it would preclude fishermen from 
harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the 
regulatory criteria, and/or could result in selection of a retention 
limit inappropriately high or low for the amount of quota available for 
the period.
    Fisheries under the Angling category daily retention limit are 
currently underway and thus prior notice would be contrary to the 
public interest. Delays in increasing daily recreational BFT retention 
limit would adversely affect those HMS Angling and Charter/Headboat 
category vessels that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest 
more than the default retention limit of one school, large school, or 
small medium BFT per day/trip and may exacerbate the problem of low 
catch rates and quota rollovers. Analysis of available data shows that 
adjustment to the BFT daily retention limit from the default level 
would result in minimal

[[Page 19618]]

risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS provides 
notification of retention limit adjustments by publishing the notice in 
the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have subscribed to the 
Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating the information 
posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on 
hmspermits.noaa.gov. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. 
For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to 
waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.23(b)(3), and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: April 26, 2017.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-08777 Filed 4-27-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P