Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit Adjustment, 32490-32492 [2017-14778]

Download as PDF 32490 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 134 / Friday, July 14, 2017 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150413357–5999–02] RIN 0648–XF501 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit Adjustment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS is adjusting the commercial aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management group retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This action is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. The retention limit will remain at 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region through the rest of the 2017 fishing season or until NMFS announces via a document in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure. This retention limit adjustment affects anyone with a directed shark limited access permit fishing for LCS in the Atlantic region. DATES: This retention limit adjustment is effective on July 16, 2017 through December 31, 2017, or until NMFS announces via a document in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure, if warranted. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: ´ Lauren Latchford, Guy DuBeck, or Karyl Brewster-Geisz 301–427–8503; fax 301– 713–1917. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), its amendments, and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 635) issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Atlantic shark fisheries have separate regional (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic) mstockstill on DSK30JT082PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 13, 2017 Jkt 241001 quotas for all management groups except for the shark research fishery for LCS and sandbar sharks, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups. The boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined at § 635.27(b)(1) as a line beginning on the East Coast of Florida at the mainland at 25°20.4′ N. lat, proceeding due east. Any water and land to the north and east of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, to be within the Atlantic region. This inseason action only affects the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region. Under § 635.24(a)(8), NMFS may adjust the commercial retention limits in the shark fisheries during the fishing season. Before making any adjustment, NMFS must consider specified regulatory criteria and other relevant factors (see § 635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi)). After considering these criteria as discussed below, NMFS has concluded that increasing the retention limit of the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders will allow use of available aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management group quotas and will provide fishermen throughout the Atlantic region equitable fishing opportunities for the rest of the year. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the commercial Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit in the Atlantic region from 3 to 36 LCS other than sandbar shark per vessel per trip. Based on public comments NMFS received during the rulemaking for the 2017 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season Rule (81 FR 84491; November 23, 2016), constituents preferred the historical retention limit of 36 LCS other than sandbars sharks per vessel per trip to the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbars sharks per vessel per trip, because they believed it would ensure the quota lasted longer and the fishing season could stay open later in the year. NMFS considered the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria listed at § 635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi), which includes (broken down by bullet points): • The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area, region, or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports. Based on dealer reports through June 16, 2017, 52.6 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) (116,048 pounds (lb) dw), or 31 percent, of the 168.9 mt dw shark PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 quota for aggregated LCS and 4.9 mt dw (10,836 lb dw), or 18 percent, of the 27.1 mt dw shark quota for the hammerhead management groups have been harvested in the Atlantic region. This means that approximately 69 percent of the aggregated LCS quota remains available and approximately 82 percent of the hammerhead shark quota remains available. NMFS took action previously this year to reduce retention rates, after considering the need for all regions to have an equitable opportunity to utilize the quota. Given the geographic distribution of the sharks at this time of year (i.e., they are heading north before moving south again later in the year), the retention limit needs to be adjusted upwards to ensure that fishermen in the Atlantic region have an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas in the region throughout the remainder of the year. • The catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes in the region or subregion, to date, based on dealer reports. Based on the current commercial retention limit and average catch rate of landings data from dealer reports, the amount of aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks harvested in the Atlantic region on a daily basis is low. Using current catch rates, projections indicate that landings would not reach 80 percent of the quota before the end of the 2017 fishing season (December 31, 2017). In other words, this daily average catch rate means that aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks are being harvested too slowly to promote fishing opportunities and ensure full utilization of the quota in the Atlantic region. • Estimated date of fishery closure based on when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the realized catch rates. Once the landings reach 80 percent of either the aggregated LCS or hammerhead shark quotas, NMFS would, as required by the regulations, close the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups since they are ‘‘linked quotas.’’ Current catch rates would likely result in the fisheries remaining open for the remainder of the year, but with the quotas being underutilized in the Atlantic region. The higher retention limit should help make it possible to more fully utilize the quota in the Atlantic region. • Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Increasing the retention limit on the aggregated LCS and hammerhead management group in the Atlantic region from 3 to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would E:\FR\FM\14JYR1.SGM 14JYR1 mstockstill on DSK30JT082PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 134 / Friday, July 14, 2017 / Rules and Regulations allow for fishing opportunities later in the year, consistent with the FMP’s objective to ensure equitable fishing opportunities throughout the fishing season. The higher retention limit is also consistent with the FMP’s objective to limit bycatch and discards of sharks, because fishermen will be able to retain sharks that currently must be disposed of as bycatch or discards under the current retention limit of 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. • Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based knowledge. The directed shark fisheries in the Atlantic region exhibit a mixed species composition, with a high abundance of aggregated LCS caught in conjunction with hammerhead sharks. Migratory patterns of many LCS in the Atlantic region indicate the sharks move farther north in the summer and then return south in the fall. Increasing the retention limit in the Atlantic region at this time provides for fishing opportunities by fishermen farther north as the sharks are likely going to be in the northern areas of the region for only a short period of time before migrating south again. As a result, by increasing the harvest and landings on a per-trip basis, fishermen throughout the region will likely experience equitable fishing opportunities. • Effects of catch rates in one part of a region or sub-region precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota. NMFS has previously provided notice to the regulated community (81 FR 84491; November 23, 2016, and 82 FR 17765; April 13, 2017) that a goal of this year’s fishery is to ensure fishing opportunities throughout the fishing season and fishing region. While dealer reports indicate that, under current catch rates, the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region would remain open for the remainder of the year, the catch rates also indicate that the quotas would likely not be fully harvested under the current retention limit. If the harvest of these species is increased through an increased retention limit, NMFS estimates that the fishery would still remain open for the remainder of the year and fishermen throughout the Atlantic region would have a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the quota. On November 23, 2016 (81 FR 84491), NMFS announced in a final rule that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark fisheries management groups for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 13, 2017 Jkt 241001 Atlantic region would open on January 1 with a quota of 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), respectively. We had published a proposed rule on August 29, 2016 (81 FR 59167) and accepted public comment. In the final rule, NMFS also announced that if it appeared that the quota is being harvested too quickly, thus precluding fishing opportunities throughout the entire region (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS would consider reducing the commercial retention limit to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks and then later consider increasing the retention limit, perhaps to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2017, consistent with the applicable regulatory requirements. In April 2017, dealer reports indicated that landings had exceeded 20 percent of the quota, and NMFS therefore reduced the commercial Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit from 25 to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on April 6, 2017 (82 FR 17765; April 13, 2017) after considering the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria listed in § 635.24(a)(8). Based on dealer reports through June 16, 2017, approximately 69 percent and 82 percent of the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas remain, respectively. At this point in the season, fishermen in the Atlantic region may not have an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas in the region for the remainder of the year if the retention limits are not increased, and available quota will be underutilized. Accordingly, as of July 16, 2017, NMFS is increasing the retention limit for the commercial aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region for directed shark limited access permit holders from 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This retention limit adjustment does not apply to directed shark limited access permit holders if the vessel is properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip, in which case the recreational retention limits for sharks and ‘‘no sale’’ provisions apply (§ 635.22(a) and (c)); or if the vessel possesses a valid shark research permit under § 635.32 and a NMFS-approved observer is onboard, in which case the restrictions noted on the shark research permit apply. All other retention limits and shark fisheries in the Atlantic region remain unchanged. This retention limit will PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 32491 remain at 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the rest of the 2017 fishing season, or until NMFS announces via a document in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure, if warranted. 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: Prior notice is impracticable because the regulatory criteria for inseason retention limit adjustments are intended to allow the agency to respond quickly to existing management considerations, including remaining available shark quotas, estimated dates for the fishery closures, the regional variations in the shark fisheries, and equitable fishing opportunities. Additionally, regulations implementing Amendment 6 of the 2006 Atlantic Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50074, August 18, 2015) intended that the LCS retention limit could be adjusted quickly throughout the fishing season to provide management flexibility for the shark fisheries and provide equitable fishing opportunities to fishermen throughout a region. Based on available shark quotas and informed by shark landings in previous seasons, responsive adjustment to the LCS commercial retention limit from the incidental level is warranted as quickly as possible to allow fishermen to take advantage of available quotas while sharks are present in their region. For such adjustment to be practicable, it must occur in a timeframe that allows fishermen to take advantage of it. Adjustment of the LCS fisheries retention limit in the Atlantic region will begin on July 16, 2017. Prior notice would result in delays in increasing the retention limit and would adversely affect those shark fishermen that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the current retention limit of 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip and could result in low catch rates and underutilized quotas. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit upward to 36 would result in minimal risks of exceeding the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas in the Atlantic region based on our consideration of previous years’ data, in which the fisheries have opened in July. With quota available and with no measurable impacts to the stocks expected, it would be contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait to harvest the sharks otherwise E:\FR\FM\14JYR1.SGM 14JYR1 32492 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 134 / Friday, July 14, 2017 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK30JT082PROD with RULES allowable through this action. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. Adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit in the Atlantic region is effective July 16, 2017, to minimize any unnecessary disruption in fishing patterns, to allow the impacted fishermen to benefit from the adjustment, and to not preclude fishing opportunities by fishermen farther north VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 13, 2017 Jkt 241001 as the sharks are likely going to be in the northern areas of the region for only a short period of time before migrating south again. Foregoing opportunities to harvest the respective quotas could have negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available quotas. Therefore, the AA finds there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 This action is being taken under § 635.24(a)(2) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: July 10, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–14778 Filed 7–11–17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\14JYR1.SGM 14JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 134 (Friday, July 14, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 32490-32492]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-14778]



[[Page 32490]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150413357-5999-02]
RIN 0648-XF501


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Aggregated Large 
Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit 
Adjustment

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the commercial aggregated large coastal 
shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management group retention limit for 
directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region 
from 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 36 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This action is based on 
consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding 
inseason adjustments. The retention limit will remain at 36 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region through 
the rest of the 2017 fishing season or until NMFS announces via a 
document in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention 
limit or a fishery closure. This retention limit adjustment affects 
anyone with a directed shark limited access permit fishing for LCS in 
the Atlantic region.

DATES: This retention limit adjustment is effective on July 16, 2017 
through December 31, 2017, or until NMFS announces via a document in 
the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a 
fishery closure, if warranted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Latchford, Gu[yacute] DuBeck, 
or Karyl Brewster-Geisz 301-427-8503; fax 301-713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under 
the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP), its amendments, and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
635) issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    Atlantic shark fisheries have separate regional (Gulf of Mexico and 
Atlantic) quotas for all management groups except for the shark 
research fishery for LCS and sandbar sharks, blue shark, porbeagle 
shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) 
management groups. The boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and 
the Atlantic region is defined at Sec.  635.27(b)(1) as a line 
beginning on the East Coast of Florida at the mainland at 25[deg]20.4' 
N. lat, proceeding due east. Any water and land to the north and east 
of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring 
and setting of quotas, to be within the Atlantic region. This inseason 
action only affects the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups in the Atlantic region.
    Under Sec.  635.24(a)(8), NMFS may adjust the commercial retention 
limits in the shark fisheries during the fishing season. Before making 
any adjustment, NMFS must consider specified regulatory criteria and 
other relevant factors (see Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi)). After 
considering these criteria as discussed below, NMFS has concluded that 
increasing the retention limit of the Atlantic aggregated LCS and 
hammerhead management groups for directed shark limited access permit 
holders will allow use of available aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
management group quotas and will provide fishermen throughout the 
Atlantic region equitable fishing opportunities for the rest of the 
year. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the commercial Atlantic aggregated 
LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit in the Atlantic region from 3 
to 36 LCS other than sandbar shark per vessel per trip. Based on public 
comments NMFS received during the rulemaking for the 2017 Atlantic 
Shark Commercial Fishing Season Rule (81 FR 84491; November 23, 2016), 
constituents preferred the historical retention limit of 36 LCS other 
than sandbars sharks per vessel per trip to the default retention limit 
of 45 LCS other than sandbars sharks per vessel per trip, because they 
believed it would ensure the quota lasted longer and the fishing season 
could stay open later in the year.
    NMFS considered the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria 
listed at Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi), which includes (broken 
down by bullet points):
     The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area, 
region, or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports.
    Based on dealer reports through June 16, 2017, 52.6 metric tons 
(mt) dressed weight (dw) (116,048 pounds (lb) dw), or 31 percent, of 
the 168.9 mt dw shark quota for aggregated LCS and 4.9 mt dw (10,836 lb 
dw), or 18 percent, of the 27.1 mt dw shark quota for the hammerhead 
management groups have been harvested in the Atlantic region. This 
means that approximately 69 percent of the aggregated LCS quota remains 
available and approximately 82 percent of the hammerhead shark quota 
remains available. NMFS took action previously this year to reduce 
retention rates, after considering the need for all regions to have an 
equitable opportunity to utilize the quota. Given the geographic 
distribution of the sharks at this time of year (i.e., they are heading 
north before moving south again later in the year), the retention limit 
needs to be adjusted upwards to ensure that fishermen in the Atlantic 
region have an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas in the region 
throughout the remainder of the year.
     The catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes in 
the region or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports.
    Based on the current commercial retention limit and average catch 
rate of landings data from dealer reports, the amount of aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead sharks harvested in the Atlantic region on a daily basis 
is low. Using current catch rates, projections indicate that landings 
would not reach 80 percent of the quota before the end of the 2017 
fishing season (December 31, 2017). In other words, this daily average 
catch rate means that aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks are being 
harvested too slowly to promote fishing opportunities and ensure full 
utilization of the quota in the Atlantic region.
     Estimated date of fishery closure based on when the 
landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the 
realized catch rates.
    Once the landings reach 80 percent of either the aggregated LCS or 
hammerhead shark quotas, NMFS would, as required by the regulations, 
close the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups since 
they are ``linked quotas.'' Current catch rates would likely result in 
the fisheries remaining open for the remainder of the year, but with 
the quotas being underutilized in the Atlantic region. The higher 
retention limit should help make it possible to more fully utilize the 
quota in the Atlantic region.
     Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives 
of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments.
    Increasing the retention limit on the aggregated LCS and hammerhead 
management group in the Atlantic region from 3 to 36 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would

[[Page 32491]]

allow for fishing opportunities later in the year, consistent with the 
FMP's objective to ensure equitable fishing opportunities throughout 
the fishing season. The higher retention limit is also consistent with 
the FMP's objective to limit bycatch and discards of sharks, because 
fishermen will be able to retain sharks that currently must be disposed 
of as bycatch or discards under the current retention limit of 3 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip.
     Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or 
migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific 
and fishery-based knowledge.
    The directed shark fisheries in the Atlantic region exhibit a mixed 
species composition, with a high abundance of aggregated LCS caught in 
conjunction with hammerhead sharks. Migratory patterns of many LCS in 
the Atlantic region indicate the sharks move farther north in the 
summer and then return south in the fall. Increasing the retention 
limit in the Atlantic region at this time provides for fishing 
opportunities by fishermen farther north as the sharks are likely going 
to be in the northern areas of the region for only a short period of 
time before migrating south again. As a result, by increasing the 
harvest and landings on a per-trip basis, fishermen throughout the 
region will likely experience equitable fishing opportunities.
     Effects of catch rates in one part of a region or sub-
region precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region 
from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the 
relevant quota.
    NMFS has previously provided notice to the regulated community (81 
FR 84491; November 23, 2016, and 82 FR 17765; April 13, 2017) that a 
goal of this year's fishery is to ensure fishing opportunities 
throughout the fishing season and fishing region. While dealer reports 
indicate that, under current catch rates, the aggregated LCS and 
hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region would remain 
open for the remainder of the year, the catch rates also indicate that 
the quotas would likely not be fully harvested under the current 
retention limit. If the harvest of these species is increased through 
an increased retention limit, NMFS estimates that the fishery would 
still remain open for the remainder of the year and fishermen 
throughout the Atlantic region would have a reasonable opportunity to 
harvest a portion of the quota.
    On November 23, 2016 (81 FR 84491), NMFS announced in a final rule 
that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark fisheries management 
groups for the Atlantic region would open on January 1 with a quota of 
168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), 
respectively. We had published a proposed rule on August 29, 2016 (81 
FR 59167) and accepted public comment. In the final rule, NMFS also 
announced that if it appeared that the quota is being harvested too 
quickly, thus precluding fishing opportunities throughout the entire 
region (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of the quota is caught at the 
beginning of the year), NMFS would consider reducing the commercial 
retention limit to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks and then 
later consider increasing the retention limit, perhaps to 36 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2017, 
consistent with the applicable regulatory requirements. In April 2017, 
dealer reports indicated that landings had exceeded 20 percent of the 
quota, and NMFS therefore reduced the commercial Atlantic aggregated 
LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit from 25 to 3 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on April 6, 2017 (82 FR 17765; April 
13, 2017) after considering the inseason retention limit adjustment 
criteria listed in Sec.  635.24(a)(8). Based on dealer reports through 
June 16, 2017, approximately 69 percent and 82 percent of the 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas remain, respectively. At 
this point in the season, fishermen in the Atlantic region may not have 
an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas in the region for the 
remainder of the year if the retention limits are not increased, and 
available quota will be underutilized.
    Accordingly, as of July 16, 2017, NMFS is increasing the retention 
limit for the commercial aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups in the Atlantic region for directed shark limited access permit 
holders from 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 36 
LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This retention limit 
adjustment does not apply to directed shark limited access permit 
holders if the vessel is properly permitted to operate as a charter 
vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip, in which 
case the recreational retention limits for sharks and ``no sale'' 
provisions apply (Sec.  635.22(a) and (c)); or if the vessel possesses 
a valid shark research permit under Sec.  635.32 and a NMFS-approved 
observer is onboard, in which case the restrictions noted on the shark 
research permit apply.
    All other retention limits and shark fisheries in the Atlantic 
region remain unchanged. This retention limit will remain at 36 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the rest of the 2017 
fishing season, or until NMFS announces via a document in the Federal 
Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery 
closure, if warranted.

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:
    Prior notice is impracticable because the regulatory criteria for 
inseason retention limit adjustments are intended to allow the agency 
to respond quickly to existing management considerations, including 
remaining available shark quotas, estimated dates for the fishery 
closures, the regional variations in the shark fisheries, and equitable 
fishing opportunities. Additionally, regulations implementing Amendment 
6 of the 2006 Atlantic Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50074, August 18, 
2015) intended that the LCS retention limit could be adjusted quickly 
throughout the fishing season to provide management flexibility for the 
shark fisheries and provide equitable fishing opportunities to 
fishermen throughout a region. Based on available shark quotas and 
informed by shark landings in previous seasons, responsive adjustment 
to the LCS commercial retention limit from the incidental level is 
warranted as quickly as possible to allow fishermen to take advantage 
of available quotas while sharks are present in their region. For such 
adjustment to be practicable, it must occur in a timeframe that allows 
fishermen to take advantage of it.
    Adjustment of the LCS fisheries retention limit in the Atlantic 
region will begin on July 16, 2017. Prior notice would result in delays 
in increasing the retention limit and would adversely affect those 
shark fishermen that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest 
more than the current retention limit of 3 LCS other than sandbar 
sharks per vessel per trip and could result in low catch rates and 
underutilized quotas. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment 
of the LCS commercial retention limit upward to 36 would result in 
minimal risks of exceeding the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
quotas in the Atlantic region based on our consideration of previous 
years' data, in which the fisheries have opened in July. With quota 
available and with no measurable impacts to the stocks expected, it 
would be contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait to 
harvest the sharks otherwise

[[Page 32492]]

allowable through this action. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 
5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment. Adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit in the 
Atlantic region is effective July 16, 2017, to minimize any unnecessary 
disruption in fishing patterns, to allow the impacted fishermen to 
benefit from the adjustment, and to not preclude fishing opportunities 
by fishermen farther north as the sharks are likely going to be in the 
northern areas of the region for only a short period of time before 
migrating south again. Foregoing opportunities to harvest the 
respective quotas could have negative social and economic impacts for 
U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available quotas. 
Therefore, the AA finds there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.24(a)(2) and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: July 10, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-14778 Filed 7-11-17; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P