Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2017 Northern Albacore Tuna Quota, 2017 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, and 2017 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota, 43500-43503 [2017-19777]

Download as PDF 43500 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 179 / Monday, September 18, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Amendments of 1972, as amended; 33 U.S.C. 1251; 1311; 1314(b), (c), (e), and (g); 1316; 1317; 1318 and 1361). 2. Amend § 423.11 by revising paragraph (t) introductory text to read as follows: ■ § 423.11 Specialized definitions. * * * * * (t) The phrase ‘‘as soon as possible’’ means November 1, 2018 (except for purposes of § 423.13(g)(1)(i) and (k)(1)(i), and § 423.16(e) and (g), in which case it means November 1, 2020), unless the permitting authority establishes a later date, after receiving information from the discharger, which reflects a consideration of the following factors: * * * * * § 423.13 [Amended] 3. Amend § 423.13 paragraphs (g)(1)(i) and (k)(1)(i) by removing the text ‘‘November 1, 2018’’ and adding the text ‘‘November 1, 2020’’ in its place. ■ § 423.16 [Amended] 4. Amend § 423.16 paragraphs (e) two times, and (g) by removing the text ‘‘November 1, 2018’’ and adding the text ‘‘November 1, 2020’’ in its place. ■ [FR Doc. 2017–19821 Filed 9–15–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 170602535–7835–01] RIN 0648–XF480 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2017 Northern Albacore Tuna Quota, 2017 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, and 2017 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary final rule. AGENCY: NMFS adjusts the northern albacore tuna annual baseline quota for 2017 with available underharvest of the 2016 adjusted U.S. northern albacore quota. NMFS also adjusts the North and South Atlantic swordfish baseline quotas for 2017 based on available underharvest from the 2016 adjusted U.S. quotas and international quota transfers. NMFS also augments the 2017 sradovich on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Sep 15, 2017 Jkt 241001 Atlantic bluefin tuna Reserve category quota with available underharvest of the 2016 adjusted U.S. bluefin tuna quota. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Effective September 18, 2017, through December 31, 2017. ADDRESSES: Supporting documents such as Environmental Assessments and Fishery Management Plans and their Amendments described below may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are available upon request from Sarah McLaughlin, Steve Durkee, or Gray Redding at the telephone numbers below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 978–281–9260, Steve Durkee, 202–670–6637, or Gray Redding, 301–427–8503. 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 northern albacore, swordfish, and bluefin tuna by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27(e) describes the northern albacore annual quota recommended by ICCAT and the annual northern albacore quota adjustment process. Section 635.27(c) describes the quota adjustment process for both North and South Atlantic swordfish. Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-recommended U.S. bluefin tuna quota among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and describes the annual bluefin tuna quota adjustment process. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quotas. The northern albacore quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the bluefin tuna PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 quota adjustment process, were previously analyzed in Amendment 7, which published in August 2014 and included a Final Environmental Impact Statement, Final Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), and Final Social Impact Statement. ICCAT conducted another bluefin tuna stock assessment update in 2014, and, after considering the scientific advice in the stock assessment, adopted a recommendation regarding western Atlantic bluefin tuna management that increases the U.S. bluefin tuna quota for 2015 and 2016 (ICCAT Recommendation 14–05). NMFS published a final rule to implement that baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota on August 28, 2015 (80 FR 52198), and prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), RIR, and FRFA for that action. ICCAT Recommendation 16–08 extended the U.S. bluefin tuna allocation established in Recommendation 14–05 through 2017. The North Atlantic swordfish quota adjustment process was previously analyzed in the EA, RIR, and FRFA that were prepared for the 2012 Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (July 31, 2012; 77 FR 45273). The South Atlantic swordfish quota adjustment process was previously analyzed in the EA, RIR, and FRFA that were prepared for the 2007 Swordfish Quota Specification Final Rule (October 5, 2007; 72 FR 56929). In the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas Adjustment Final Rule (July 26, 2016, 81 FR 48719), after taking public comment on the issue, NMFS announced its intent to no longer issue proposed and final specifications/ rules for North and South Atlantic swordfish quotas adjustments in cases where the quota adjustment follows previously codified and analyzed formulas. Therefore, beginning this year, NMFS is instead issuing a temporary final rule to adjust the quota, in a similar process to northern albacore and bluefin tuna quota adjustments. NMFS will continue to undertake notice and comment rulemaking when adopting new quotas, quota formulas, or otherwise altering conservation and management measures. Note that weight information for northern albacore and bluefin tuna below is shown in metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww), and both dressed weight (dw) and ww is shown for swordfish. Northern Albacore Annual Quota and Adjustment Process Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the northern albacore fishery. The current E:\FR\FM\18SER1.SGM 18SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 179 / Monday, September 18, 2017 / Rules and Regulations ICCAT northern albacore recommendation (Recommendation 16– 06) includes a total allowable catch (TAC) at 28,000 metric tons (mt) for 2017 and specific recommendations regarding the northern albacore conservation and management. The U.S. baseline quota for 2017 is 527 mt, annually. The baseline quota of 527 mt is codified at § 635.27(e) and will remain in effect until changed. For example, Recommendation 16–06 specifies that the quota for 2019 and 2020 will be 564.6 mt. It also specifies that if, in any year, the combined contracting parties’ landings exceed the TAC, the Commission will re-evaluate the Recommendation and recommend further conservation measures, as appropriate. Amendment 7 established the process by which NMFS adjusts the U.S. annual northern albacore quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. The maximum underharvest that a Contracting Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 25 percent of its initial catch quota, which equals 131.75 mt for the United States. Adjustment of the 2017 Northern Albacore Quota For 2016, the adjusted quota was 658.75 mt (527 mt plus 131.75 mt of 2015 underharvest carried forward to 2016). The total 2016 northern albacore catch was 249.60 mt, which is 409.15 mt less than the 2016 adjusted quota. Thus, the underharvest for 2016 is 409.15 mt, 131.75 mt of which may be carried forward to the 2017 fishing year. Thus, the adjusted 2017 northern albacore quota is 527 mt plus 131.75 mt, totaling 658.75 mt. North and South Atlantic Swordfish Annual Quota and Adjustment Process North Atlantic Swordfish At the 2016 ICCAT annual meeting, Recommendation 16–03 maintained the North Atlantic swordfish TAC of 10,301 mt dw (13,700 mt ww) through 2017. Of this TAC, the United States’ baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw (3,907 mt ww) per year. ICCAT Recommendation 16– 03 also includes an 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) annual quota transfer from the United States to Mauritania and limits underharvest carryover to 15 percent of a Contracting Party’s baseline quota. Therefore, the United States may carry over a maximum of 440.6 mt dw (586.0 mt ww) of underharvest from 2016 to 2017. This final rule adjusts the U.S. baseline quota for the 2017 fishing year to account for the annual quota transfer to Mauritania and the 2016 underharvest. The 2017 North Atlantic swordfish baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw (3,907 mt ww). The total 2016 North Atlantic swordfish catch and dead discards totaled 1,144.4 mt dw, which is 2,215 mt dw less than the 2016 adjusted quota of 3,359.4 mt dw. Thus, the North Atlantic swordfish underharvest for 2016 was 2,215 mt dw, and NMFS is carrying forward 440.6 mt dw, the maximum carryover allowed under Recommendation 16–03. The 2,937.6 mt dw baseline quota is reduced by the 18.8 mt dw annual quota transfer to Mauritania and increased by the underharvest carryover of 440.6 mt dw, resulting in a final adjusted North Atlantic swordfish quota for the 2017 fishing year of 3,359.4 mt dw (2,937.6¥18.8 + 440.6 = 3,359.4 mt dw). From that adjusted quota, 50 mt dw will be allocated to the reserve category for inseason adjustments and research, and 300 mt dw will be allocated to the 43501 incidental category, which includes recreational landings and landings by incidental swordfish permit holders, in accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(c)(1)(i). This would result in an allocation of 3,009.4 mt dw (3,359.4¥50¥300 = 3,009.4 mt dw) for the directed category, which would be split equally between two seasons in 2017 (January through June, and July through December) (Table 1). South Atlantic Swordfish In 2016, ICCAT Recommendation 16– 04 maintained the South Atlantic swordfish TAC at 11,278.2 mt dw (15,000 mt ww) through 2017. Of this, the United States receives 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww). Recommendation 16–04 limits the amount of South Atlantic swordfish underharvest that can be carried forward from one year to the next, and the United States may carry forward up to 100 percent of its baseline quota (75.2 mt dw). Recommendation 16–04 also included a total of 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) of quota transfers from the United States to other countries. These transfers were 37.6 mt dw (50 mt ww) to Namibia, 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) ˆ to Cote d’Ivoire, and 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Belize. U.S. fishermen landed no South Atlantic swordfish in 2016. The adjusted 2016 South Atlantic swordfish quota was 75.1 mt dw due to nominal landings in previous years. Therefore, 75.1 mt dw of underharvest is available to carry over to 2017. NMFS is carrying forward 75.1 mt dw to be added to the 75.2 mt dw baseline quota. The quota is then reduced by the 75.2 mt dw of annual international quota transfers outlined above, resulting in an adjusted South Atlantic swordfish quota of 75.1 mt dw for the 2017 fishing year (Table 1). TABLE 1—2017 NORTH AND SOUTH ATLANTIC SWORDFISH QUOTAS 2016 2017 sradovich on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES North Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw) Baseline Quota .............................................................................................................. International Quota Transfer .......................................................................................... Total Underharvest from Previous Year ........................................................................ Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year + .............................................................. Adjusted Quota .............................................................................................................. Quota Allocation: Directed Category ................................................................................................... Incidental Category ................................................................................................. Reserve Category ................................................................................................... 2,937.6 ............................... (¥)18.8 (to Mauritania) ...... 2,181.6 ............................... (+) 440.6 ............................. 3,359.4 ............................... 2,937.6 (¥)18.8 (to Mauritania) 2,215.0 (+) 440.6 3,359.4 3,009.4 ............................... 300 ..................................... 50 ....................................... 3,009.4 300 50 South Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw) Baseline Quota .............................................................................................................. International Quota Transfers* ...................................................................................... Total Underharvest from Previous Year ........................................................................ Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year + .............................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Sep 15, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 75.2 .................................... (¥)75.2 .............................. 75.1 .................................... 75.1 .................................... E:\FR\FM\18SER1.SGM 18SER1 75.2 (¥)75.2 75.1 75.1 43502 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 179 / Monday, September 18, 2017 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1—2017 NORTH AND SOUTH ATLANTIC SWORDFISH QUOTAS—Continued 2016 Adjusted quota ............................................................................................................... 2017 75.1 .................................... 75.1 + Allowable underharvest carryover is capped at 15 percent of the baseline quota allocation for the North Atlantic and 75.2 dw (100 mt ww) for the South Atlantic. ˆ * Under Recommendation 16–04, the United States transfers 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) annually to Namibia (37.6 mt dw, 50 mt ww), Cote d’Ivoire (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww), and Belize (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww). sradovich on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES Bluefin Tuna Annual Quota and Adjustment Process Pursuant to Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota to the extent that underharvest from the prior year’s adjusted U.S. bluefin tuna quota is available. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is available and finalized. Consistent with the bluefin tuna quota regulations, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota pursuant to regulatory determination criteria described at § 635.27(a)(8), or for scientific research. NMFS implemented ICCAT Recommendation 14–05 in the bluefin tuna quota final rule in August 2015 (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). That rulemaking implemented Recommendation 14–05, which included a western bluefin tuna TAC of 2,000 mt (for 2015 and 2016) and the recommended annual U.S. baseline quota of 1,058.79 mt. The total annual U.S. quota, including the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED) is 1,083.79 mt. Any underharvest of a CPC’s total quota in a given year may be carried forward to the next year but is limited to 10 percent of the CPC’s initial quota allocation (for the United States, its baseline quota plus 25 mt for the NED). ICCAT Recommendation 16–08 extended these provisions through 2017. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota of 1,058.79 mt is codified at § 635.27(a) and will remain in effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT western bluefin tuna TAC recommendation is adopted). Adjustment of the 2016 Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota The total 2016 bluefin tuna catch was 1,025.10 mt. This total catch includes landings and dead discards. The total catch of 1,025.10 mt is 167.07 mt less than the 2016 adjusted quota of 1,083.79 mt. Per ICCAT Recommendation 16–08, only 10 percent of the total 2016 U.S. quota, or 108.38 mt, of that underharvest may be carried forward to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Sep 15, 2017 Jkt 241001 the 2017 fishing year, resulting in a 2017 adjusted quota of 1,192.17 mt (baseline quota of 1,083.79 mt + underharvest carryover of 108.38 mt). The codified Reserve category quota is 24.8 mt. Consistent with the process established in Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota with 108.38 mt in this action. Effective February 28, 2017, NMFS adjusted the Reserve category quota for 2017 to 118 mt by reallocating 138.2 mt of Purse Seine quota to the Reserve category (based on 2016 catch by Purse Seine category participants) and also transferring 45 mt of Reserve category quota to the Longline category (82 FR 12296, March 2, 2017). Effective March 2, 2017, NMFS transferred 40 mt from the Reserve to the General category (82 FR 12747, March 7, 2017). Additionally, effective August 11, 2017, NMFS transferred an additional 30 mt from the Reserve to the Harpoon category (82 FR 38853, August 16, 2017). Thus, as of the effective date of this action (September 18, 2017), the adjusted 2017 Reserve category quota would be 156.38 mt (24.8 + 138.2¥45¥40¥30 + 108.38). Classification The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this temporary final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law. Pursuant to section 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)), the AA finds that it would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the reasons described below. NMFS solicited and accepted public comment on the northern albacore quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the bluefin tuna quota adjustment process, as part of the Amendment 7 rulemaking. Public comments on these provisions in response to the proposed Amendment 7 rule were generally supportive and were addressed in the Response to Comments section of the Amendment 7 final rule. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (See comments 18, 19, and 105 at 79 FR 71530–71531 and 71553). Similarly, in the past, North and South Atlantic swordfish quota adjustments were performed through an annual notice and comment rulemaking process. In the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (81 FR 48719, July 26, 2016), NMFS announced the intent to no longer issue proposed and final specifications/rules for North and South Atlantic swordfish quota adjustments in cases where the quota adjustment simply follows previously codified and analyzed formulas. Public comments on this process change were generally supportive. Beginning this year, NMFS will instead issue a temporary final rule to adjust the quota. NMFS will continue to undertake notice and comment rulemaking if adopting new quotas, quota formulas, or otherwise altering conservation and management measures for North and South Atlantic swordfish. This action applies the formulas which the public received notice of in the earlier actions (Amendment 7 and the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule), using the best available data regarding 2016 catch and underharvest and calculating allowable underharvest consistent with ICCAT recommendations. The rulemakings for Amendment 7 and the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule specifically provided prior notice of, and accepted public comment on, these formulaic quota adjustment processes and the manner in which they occur. The application of this formula in this action does not have discretionary aspects requiring additional agency consideration and thus it would be unnecessarily duplicative to accept public comment for this action. There is good cause under U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date and to make the rule effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The fisheries for northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and bluefin tuna began on January 1, 2017. NMFS monitors northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and bluefin E:\FR\FM\18SER1.SGM 18SER1 sradovich on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 179 / Monday, September 18, 2017 / Rules and Regulations tuna annual catch and measures the annual catch data against the applicable available quotas. Delaying the effective date of these quota adjustments would complicate the management of the northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, and bluefin tuna fisheries, all of which rely on management flexibility to respond quickly to fishery conditions to ensure that fishermen have a reasonable opportunity to catch the available quotas. For example, under the northern albacore fishery closure regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the annual fishery quota is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on the baseline (codified) quota versus the adjusted northern albacore quota could preclude the fishery from harvesting northern albacore that are legally available consistent with the ICCAT recommendations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Adjusting the North and South Atlantic swordfish quota allows the United States to comply with the ICCAT allowance to carry over quota underharvest and the obligation of international quota transfers. Adjusting the bluefin tuna Reserve category as soon as possible provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer quota from the Reserve to other fishing categories inseason after considering the regulatory determination criteria, including fishery conditions at the time of the transfer. The amount of quota currently in the Reserve category is relatively low, and NMFS may need to transfer quota soon in order to reduce the likelihood of fishery closure during the September or subsequent subquota time periods. NMFS could not appropriately adjust the annual quotas for 2017 sooner because the data needed to make the determination did not become available until August, and additional time was needed for agency analysis and consideration of the data. Additionally, to prevent confusion and potential overharvests, these adjustments should be in place as soon as possible in order to allow the impacted sectors to benefit from any subsequent quota adjustments to the fishing categories, give them a reasonable opportunity to catch available quota, and provide them the opportunity for planning operations accordingly. This action is being taken under § 635.27(e) and § 635.27(a)(10), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This action does not contain a collection-of-information requirement VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Sep 15, 2017 Jkt 241001 for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are inapplicable. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: September 13, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–19777 Filed 9–15–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 161020985–7181–02] RIN 0648–XF654 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Correction National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; reallocations; correction. AGENCY: NMFS is correcting a temporary rule that reallocated Pacific cod from vessels using jig gear and catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. The amount reallocated from vessels using jig gear was incorrect. DATES: Effective September 18, 2017 through 2400 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t) December 31, 2017, and is applicable beginning August 30, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Need for Correction NMFS published the reallocation of Pacific cod on September 5, 2017 (82 FR 41899). The document contains incorrect amounts of Pacific cod to be PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 43503 transferred to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear from vessels using jig gear. These corrections will not affect the fishing operations. These corrections are necessary to provide the correct information about the amount of the Pacific cod transferred from vessels using jig gear and eliminate potential avoid confusion by fishery participants. Correction In the Federal Register of September 5, 2017, (82 FR 41899) in FR Doc. 2017– 18733, on page 41900, column 1, paragraph 2, sentences 1 and 2 are corrected to read as follows: ‘‘The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) has determined that jig vessels will not be able to harvest 1,186 mt of the remaining 2017 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(1). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A), NMFS apportions 1,186 mt of Pacific cod to the annual amount specified for catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.’’ Classification The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This actions corrects an error that attributed the total amount of Pacific cod being transferred to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear from multiple sectors (1,612 mt), rather than the amount of Pacific cod being reallocated from vessels using jig gear (1,186 mt). This correction does not change operating practices in the fisheries. Corrections should be made as soon as possible to avoid confusion for participants in the fisheries. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 12, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–19628 Filed 9–15–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18SER1.SGM 18SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 179 (Monday, September 18, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 43500-43503]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-19777]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 170602535-7835-01]
RIN 0648-XF480


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Adjustments to 2017 Northern 
Albacore Tuna Quota, 2017 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas, 
and 2017 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota

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

ACTION: Temporary final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS adjusts the northern albacore tuna annual baseline quota 
for 2017 with available underharvest of the 2016 adjusted U.S. northern 
albacore quota. NMFS also adjusts the North and South Atlantic 
swordfish baseline quotas for 2017 based on available underharvest from 
the 2016 adjusted U.S. quotas and international quota transfers. NMFS 
also augments the 2017 Atlantic bluefin tuna Reserve category quota 
with available underharvest of the 2016 adjusted U.S. bluefin tuna 
quota. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and 
to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Effective September 18, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 978-281-9260, Steve 
Durkee, 202-670-6637, or Gray Redding, 301-427-8503.

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 northern 
albacore, swordfish, and bluefin tuna by persons and vessels subject to 
U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27(e) 
describes the northern albacore annual quota recommended by ICCAT and 
the annual northern albacore quota adjustment process. Section 
635.27(c) describes the quota adjustment process for both North and 
South Atlantic swordfish. Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-
recommended U.S. bluefin tuna quota among the various domestic fishing 
categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by 
Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 
71510, December 2, 2014), and describes the annual bluefin tuna quota 
adjustment process. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-
Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable 
opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quotas.
    The northern albacore quota implementation and quota adjustment 
processes, along with the bluefin tuna quota adjustment process, were 
previously analyzed in Amendment 7, which published in August 2014 and 
included a Final Environmental Impact Statement, Final Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), and 
Final Social Impact Statement. ICCAT conducted another bluefin tuna 
stock assessment update in 2014, and, after considering the scientific 
advice in the stock assessment, adopted a recommendation regarding 
western Atlantic bluefin tuna management that increases the U.S. 
bluefin tuna quota for 2015 and 2016 (ICCAT Recommendation 14-05). NMFS 
published a final rule to implement that baseline annual U.S. bluefin 
tuna quota on August 28, 2015 (80 FR 52198), and prepared an 
Environmental Assessment (EA), RIR, and FRFA for that action. ICCAT 
Recommendation 16-08 extended the U.S. bluefin tuna allocation 
established in Recommendation 14-05 through 2017.
    The North Atlantic swordfish quota adjustment process was 
previously analyzed in the EA, RIR, and FRFA that were prepared for the 
2012 Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (July 31, 2012; 77 FR 45273). The 
South Atlantic swordfish quota adjustment process was previously 
analyzed in the EA, RIR, and FRFA that were prepared for the 2007 
Swordfish Quota Specification Final Rule (October 5, 2007; 72 FR 
56929). In the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas 
Adjustment Final Rule (July 26, 2016, 81 FR 48719), after taking public 
comment on the issue, NMFS announced its intent to no longer issue 
proposed and final specifications/rules for North and South Atlantic 
swordfish quotas adjustments in cases where the quota adjustment 
follows previously codified and analyzed formulas. Therefore, beginning 
this year, NMFS is instead issuing a temporary final rule to adjust the 
quota, in a similar process to northern albacore and bluefin tuna quota 
adjustments. NMFS will continue to undertake notice and comment 
rulemaking when adopting new quotas, quota formulas, or otherwise 
altering conservation and management measures.
    Note that weight information for northern albacore and bluefin tuna 
below is shown in metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww), and both dressed 
weight (dw) and ww is shown for swordfish.

Northern Albacore Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the 
northern albacore fishery. The current

[[Page 43501]]

ICCAT northern albacore recommendation (Recommendation 16-06) includes 
a total allowable catch (TAC) at 28,000 metric tons (mt) for 2017 and 
specific recommendations regarding the northern albacore conservation 
and management. The U.S. baseline quota for 2017 is 527 mt, annually. 
The baseline quota of 527 mt is codified at Sec.  635.27(e) and will 
remain in effect until changed. For example, Recommendation 16-06 
specifies that the quota for 2019 and 2020 will be 564.6 mt. It also 
specifies that if, in any year, the combined contracting parties' 
landings exceed the TAC, the Commission will re[hyphen]evaluate the 
Recommendation and recommend further conservation measures, as 
appropriate.
    Amendment 7 established the process by which NMFS adjusts the U.S. 
annual northern albacore quota for allowable underharvest, if any, in 
the previous year. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent with ICCAT 
limits and when complete catch information for the prior year is 
available and finalized. The maximum underharvest that a Contracting 
Party may carry forward from one year to the next is 25 percent of its 
initial catch quota, which equals 131.75 mt for the United States.

Adjustment of the 2017 Northern Albacore Quota

    For 2016, the adjusted quota was 658.75 mt (527 mt plus 131.75 mt 
of 2015 underharvest carried forward to 2016). The total 2016 northern 
albacore catch was 249.60 mt, which is 409.15 mt less than the 2016 
adjusted quota. Thus, the underharvest for 2016 is 409.15 mt, 131.75 mt 
of which may be carried forward to the 2017 fishing year. Thus, the 
adjusted 2017 northern albacore quota is 527 mt plus 131.75 mt, 
totaling 658.75 mt.

North and South Atlantic Swordfish Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

North Atlantic Swordfish

    At the 2016 ICCAT annual meeting, Recommendation 16-03 maintained 
the North Atlantic swordfish TAC of 10,301 mt dw (13,700 mt ww) through 
2017. Of this TAC, the United States' baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw 
(3,907 mt ww) per year. ICCAT Recommendation 16-03 also includes an 
18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) annual quota transfer from the United States to 
Mauritania and limits underharvest carryover to 15 percent of a 
Contracting Party's baseline quota. Therefore, the United States may 
carry over a maximum of 440.6 mt dw (586.0 mt ww) of underharvest from 
2016 to 2017. This final rule adjusts the U.S. baseline quota for the 
2017 fishing year to account for the annual quota transfer to 
Mauritania and the 2016 underharvest.
    The 2017 North Atlantic swordfish baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw 
(3,907 mt ww). The total 2016 North Atlantic swordfish catch and dead 
discards totaled 1,144.4 mt dw, which is 2,215 mt dw less than the 2016 
adjusted quota of 3,359.4 mt dw. Thus, the North Atlantic swordfish 
underharvest for 2016 was 2,215 mt dw, and NMFS is carrying forward 
440.6 mt dw, the maximum carryover allowed under Recommendation 16-03. 
The 2,937.6 mt dw baseline quota is reduced by the 18.8 mt dw annual 
quota transfer to Mauritania and increased by the underharvest 
carryover of 440.6 mt dw, resulting in a final adjusted North Atlantic 
swordfish quota for the 2017 fishing year of 3,359.4 mt dw (2,937.6-
18.8 + 440.6 = 3,359.4 mt dw). From that adjusted quota, 50 mt dw will 
be allocated to the reserve category for inseason adjustments and 
research, and 300 mt dw will be allocated to the incidental category, 
which includes recreational landings and landings by incidental 
swordfish permit holders, in accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 
635.27(c)(1)(i). This would result in an allocation of 3,009.4 mt dw 
(3,359.4-50-300 = 3,009.4 mt dw) for the directed category, which would 
be split equally between two seasons in 2017 (January through June, and 
July through December) (Table 1).

South Atlantic Swordfish

    In 2016, ICCAT Recommendation 16-04 maintained the South Atlantic 
swordfish TAC at 11,278.2 mt dw (15,000 mt ww) through 2017. Of this, 
the United States receives 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww). Recommendation 16-04 
limits the amount of South Atlantic swordfish underharvest that can be 
carried forward from one year to the next, and the United States may 
carry forward up to 100 percent of its baseline quota (75.2 mt dw). 
Recommendation 16-04 also included a total of 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) of 
quota transfers from the United States to other countries. These 
transfers were 37.6 mt dw (50 mt ww) to Namibia, 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) 
to C[ocirc]te d'Ivoire, and 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Belize.
    U.S. fishermen landed no South Atlantic swordfish in 2016. The 
adjusted 2016 South Atlantic swordfish quota was 75.1 mt dw due to 
nominal landings in previous years. Therefore, 75.1 mt dw of 
underharvest is available to carry over to 2017. NMFS is carrying 
forward 75.1 mt dw to be added to the 75.2 mt dw baseline quota. The 
quota is then reduced by the 75.2 mt dw of annual international quota 
transfers outlined above, resulting in an adjusted South Atlantic 
swordfish quota of 75.1 mt dw for the 2017 fishing year (Table 1).

         Table 1--2017 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          2016                2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 North Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota...................  2,937.6...........  2,937.6
International Quota Transfer.....  (-)18.8 (to         (-)18.8 (to
                                    Mauritania).        Mauritania)
Total Underharvest from Previous   2,181.6...........  2,215.0
 Year.
Underharvest Carryover from        (+) 440.6.........  (+) 440.6
 Previous Year \+\.
Adjusted Quota...................  3,359.4...........  3,359.4
Quota Allocation:
    Directed Category............  3,009.4...........  3,009.4
    Incidental Category..........  300...............  300
    Reserve Category.............  50................  50
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 South Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota...................  75.2..............  75.2
International Quota Transfers*...  (-)75.2...........  (-)75.2
Total Underharvest from Previous   75.1..............  75.1
 Year.
Underharvest Carryover from        75.1..............  75.1
 Previous Year \+\.

[[Page 43502]]

 
Adjusted quota...................  75.1..............  75.1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\+\ Allowable underharvest carryover is capped at 15 percent of the
  baseline quota allocation for the North Atlantic and 75.2 dw (100 mt
  ww) for the South Atlantic.
* Under Recommendation 16-04, the United States transfers 75.2 mt dw
  (100 mt ww) annually to Namibia (37.6 mt dw, 50 mt ww), C[ocirc]te
  d'Ivoire (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww), and Belize (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww).

Bluefin Tuna Annual Quota and Adjustment Process

    Pursuant to Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category quota 
to the extent that underharvest from the prior year's adjusted U.S. 
bluefin tuna quota is available. NMFS makes such adjustments consistent 
with ICCAT limits and when complete catch information for the prior 
year is available and finalized. Consistent with the bluefin tuna quota 
regulations, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category 
quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota 
pursuant to regulatory determination criteria described at Sec.  
635.27(a)(8), or for scientific research.
    NMFS implemented ICCAT Recommendation 14-05 in the bluefin tuna 
quota final rule in August 2015 (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). That 
rulemaking implemented Recommendation 14-05, which included a western 
bluefin tuna TAC of 2,000 mt (for 2015 and 2016) and the recommended 
annual U.S. baseline quota of 1,058.79 mt. The total annual U.S. quota, 
including the 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline 
fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED) is 
1,083.79 mt. Any underharvest of a CPC's total quota in a given year 
may be carried forward to the next year but is limited to 10 percent of 
the CPC's initial quota allocation (for the United States, its baseline 
quota plus 25 mt for the NED). ICCAT Recommendation 16-08 extended 
these provisions through 2017. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna 
quota of 1,058.79 mt is codified at Sec.  635.27(a) and will remain in 
effect until changed (for instance, if a new ICCAT western bluefin tuna 
TAC recommendation is adopted).

Adjustment of the 2016 Bluefin Tuna Reserve Category Quota

    The total 2016 bluefin tuna catch was 1,025.10 mt. This total catch 
includes landings and dead discards. The total catch of 1,025.10 mt is 
167.07 mt less than the 2016 adjusted quota of 1,083.79 mt. Per ICCAT 
Recommendation 16-08, only 10 percent of the total 2016 U.S. quota, or 
108.38 mt, of that underharvest may be carried forward to the 2017 
fishing year, resulting in a 2017 adjusted quota of 1,192.17 mt 
(baseline quota of 1,083.79 mt + underharvest carryover of 108.38 mt). 
The codified Reserve category quota is 24.8 mt. Consistent with the 
process established in Amendment 7, NMFS augments the Reserve category 
quota with 108.38 mt in this action. Effective February 28, 2017, NMFS 
adjusted the Reserve category quota for 2017 to 118 mt by reallocating 
138.2 mt of Purse Seine quota to the Reserve category (based on 2016 
catch by Purse Seine category participants) and also transferring 45 mt 
of Reserve category quota to the Longline category (82 FR 12296, March 
2, 2017). Effective March 2, 2017, NMFS transferred 40 mt from the 
Reserve to the General category (82 FR 12747, March 7, 2017). 
Additionally, effective August 11, 2017, NMFS transferred an additional 
30 mt from the Reserve to the Harpoon category (82 FR 38853, August 16, 
2017). Thus, as of the effective date of this action (September 18, 
2017), the adjusted 2017 Reserve category quota would be 156.38 mt 
(24.8 + 138.2-45-40-30 + 108.38).

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) has determined that this 
temporary final rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law.
    Pursuant to section 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act 
(5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)), the AA finds that it would be unnecessary and 
contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an 
opportunity for public comment on, this action for the reasons 
described below.
    NMFS solicited and accepted public comment on the northern albacore 
quota implementation and quota adjustment processes, along with the 
bluefin tuna quota adjustment process, as part of the Amendment 7 
rulemaking. Public comments on these provisions in response to the 
proposed Amendment 7 rule were generally supportive and were addressed 
in the Response to Comments section of the Amendment 7 final rule. (See 
comments 18, 19, and 105 at 79 FR 71530-71531 and 71553). Similarly, in 
the past, North and South Atlantic swordfish quota adjustments were 
performed through an annual notice and comment rulemaking process. In 
the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule (81 
FR 48719, July 26, 2016), NMFS announced the intent to no longer issue 
proposed and final specifications/rules for North and South Atlantic 
swordfish quota adjustments in cases where the quota adjustment simply 
follows previously codified and analyzed formulas. Public comments on 
this process change were generally supportive. Beginning this year, 
NMFS will instead issue a temporary final rule to adjust the quota. 
NMFS will continue to undertake notice and comment rulemaking if 
adopting new quotas, quota formulas, or otherwise altering conservation 
and management measures for North and South Atlantic swordfish.
    This action applies the formulas which the public received notice 
of in the earlier actions (Amendment 7 and the 2016 North and South 
Atlantic Swordfish Quota Adjustment Rule), using the best available 
data regarding 2016 catch and underharvest and calculating allowable 
underharvest consistent with ICCAT recommendations. The rulemakings for 
Amendment 7 and the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quota 
Adjustment Rule specifically provided prior notice of, and accepted 
public comment on, these formulaic quota adjustment processes and the 
manner in which they occur. The application of this formula in this 
action does not have discretionary aspects requiring additional agency 
consideration and thus it would be unnecessarily duplicative to accept 
public comment for this action.
    There is good cause under U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effective date and to make the rule effective upon publication 
in the Federal Register. The fisheries for northern albacore, North and 
South Atlantic swordfish, and bluefin tuna began on January 1, 2017. 
NMFS monitors northern albacore, North and South Atlantic swordfish, 
and bluefin

[[Page 43503]]

tuna annual catch and measures the annual catch data against the 
applicable available quotas. Delaying the effective date of these quota 
adjustments would complicate the management of the northern albacore, 
North and South Atlantic swordfish, and bluefin tuna fisheries, all of 
which rely on management flexibility to respond quickly to fishery 
conditions to ensure that fishermen have a reasonable opportunity to 
catch the available quotas. For example, under the northern albacore 
fishery closure regulations, NMFS must close the fishery when the 
annual fishery quota is reached. Closure of the fishery based only on 
the baseline (codified) quota versus the adjusted northern albacore 
quota could preclude the fishery from harvesting northern albacore that 
are legally available consistent with the ICCAT recommendations and the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. Adjusting the North and South 
Atlantic swordfish quota allows the United States to comply with the 
ICCAT allowance to carry over quota underharvest and the obligation of 
international quota transfers. Adjusting the bluefin tuna Reserve 
category as soon as possible provides NMFS the flexibility to transfer 
quota from the Reserve to other fishing categories inseason after 
considering the regulatory determination criteria, including fishery 
conditions at the time of the transfer. The amount of quota currently 
in the Reserve category is relatively low, and NMFS may need to 
transfer quota soon in order to reduce the likelihood of fishery 
closure during the September or subsequent subquota time periods. NMFS 
could not appropriately adjust the annual quotas for 2017 sooner 
because the data needed to make the determination did not become 
available until August, and additional time was needed for agency 
analysis and consideration of the data.
    Additionally, to prevent confusion and potential overharvests, 
these adjustments should be in place as soon as possible in order to 
allow the impacted sectors to benefit from any subsequent quota 
adjustments to the fishing categories, give them a reasonable 
opportunity to catch available quota, and provide them the opportunity 
for planning operations accordingly.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.27(e) and Sec.  
635.27(a)(10), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not 
required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the 
analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq., are inapplicable.

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

    Dated: September 13, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-19777 Filed 9-15-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P