Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and Northern Albacore Tuna Quotas, 31517-31525 [2018-14452]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules This is a synopsis of the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making, MB Docket No. 18–126, adopted April 25, 2018, and released April 26, 2018. The full text of this document is available for public inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC’s Reference Information Center at Portals II, CY– A257, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS (https://www.fcc.gov/ cgb/ecfs/). (Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Word 97, and/ or Adobe Acrobat.) To request this document in accessible formats (computer diskettes, large print, audio recording, and Braille), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418–0530 (voice), (202) 418–0432 (TTY). This document does not contain proposed information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed information collection burden ‘‘for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,’’ pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107–198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4). Provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 do not apply to this proceeding. Members of the public should note that from the time a Notice of Proposed Rule Making is issued until the matter is no longer subject to Commission consideration or court review, all ex parte contacts (other than ex parte presentations exempt under 47 CFR 1.1204(a)) are prohibited in Commission proceedings, such as this one, which involve channel allotments. See 47 CFR 1.1208 for rules governing restricted proceedings. For information regarding proper filing procedures for comments, see 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.420. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73 Television. Federal Communications Commission. Barbara Kreisman, Chief, Video Division, Media Bureau. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Proposed Rules For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 73 as follows: PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 1. The authority citation for Part 73 continues to read as follows: ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 309, 310, 334, 336, and 339. § 73.622 [Amended] 2. Section 73.622(i), the PostTransition Table of DTV Allotments under Connecticut is amended by adding the entry for Stamford to read as follows: ■ § 73.622 Digital television table of allotments. * * * * * (i) Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments. * * * * * CONNECTICUT * * * Stamford ............................... * * * * * * * * 49 * * * * * [FR Doc. 2018–14260 Filed 7–5–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8548–01] RIN 0648–BH54 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and Northern Albacore Tuna Quotas National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments; notice of public hearing. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to modify the baseline annual U.S. quota and subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) and the baseline annual U.S. North Atlantic albacore (northern albacore or NALB) quota. The proposed action also would modify regulations to update regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements. Finally, NMFS also proposes to make a minor change to the Atlantic tunas size limit regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31517 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: Written comments must be received on or before August 6, 2018. NMFS will host an operator-assisted public hearing conference call and webinar on July 17, 2018, from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT, providing an opportunity for individuals from all geographic areas to participate. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2018–0004,’’ 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-2018-0004, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah McLaughlin, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 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. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will 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). The public hearing conference call information is phone number 1–800– 593–7188; participant passcode 6548000. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: https:// noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/ onstage/g.php?MTID=e051cd980 da5c8b77c9062c866bbb3c95; meeting number: 993 478 244; password: NOAA. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to view the webinar. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 31518 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules Supporting documents, including the Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review, and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, may be downloaded from the HMS website at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantichighly-migratory-species/. These documents also are available by contacting Sarah McLaughlin at the mailing address specified above. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as ‘‘Atlantic tunas’’) are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). As a member of ICCAT, the United States implements binding ICCAT recommendations pursuant to ATCA, which authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. The authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS. Regulations implemented under the authority of ATCA and the MagnusonStevens Act governing the harvest of BFT and NALB by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-recommended U.S. BFT quota among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and provides the annual BFT quota adjustment process. Section 635.27(e) implements the ICCAT-recommended U.S. NALB quota and provides the annual NALB quota adjustment process. Section 635.20(c) implements the size limit restrictions applicable to BFT, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCATrecommended quotas. Since 1982, ICCAT has recommended a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of western Atlantic BFT for contracting parties fishing on the stock, and since 1991, ICCAT has recommended specific VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 quotas within that TAC for the United States and other contracting parties. Since 1999, ICCAT has managed western BFT in accordance with a 20year rebuilding program adopted in 1998. Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations regarding the NALB fishery, including quotas for the major harvesters. In 2009, ICCAT established a NALB rebuilding program, including a TAC and several provisions to limit catches by contracting parties (for major and minor harvesters). ICCAT sets BFT and NALB conservation and management measures, including TACs, following consideration of the latest stock assessment information and management advice provided by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS), ICCAT’s scientific body. Through this action, NMFS proposes to adjust the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota and subquotas and the annual U.S. baseline NALB quota to implement the new quotas adopted in 2017 by ICCAT as required by ATCA, and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS also is proposing minor modifications to the Atlantic tunas size limit regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites. This change would allow retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and yellowfin tuna for which the otherwiserequired measurement to the fork of the tail may not be possible, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the applicable minimum sizes. Minimum fish size regulations apply to Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna but this change would apply only to bigeye and yellowfin tunas. This change is not a result of ICCAT recommendations but rather clarifies the applicability of size limits to a situation that is not addressed by the current regulations. The clarification is included in this action for purposes of administrative efficiency and because it addresses Atlantic tunas management, like the other actions being implemented here. Finally, this action would modify regulations to update regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements. NMFS has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), which analyze the anticipated environmental, social, and economic impacts of several alternatives for each of the major issues contained in this proposed rule. The list of alternatives and their analyses are provided in the draft EA/RIR/IRFA and are not repeated here in their entirety. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The effects of the changes related to retention of shark-bitten tunas are primarily economic and administrative in nature and thus are not analyzed in the draft EA. The effects of updating regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements are administrative in nature and thus are not analyzed in the draft EA. A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA prepared for this proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). Bluefin Tuna Annual Quota and Subquotas 2017 ICCAT Stock Assessment and Recommendation The SCRS took a substantially different approach in 2017 from prior years in evaluating and providing management advice for the western BFT stock. In the past, significant uncertainties in some population characteristics resulted in assessments with very divergent stock status estimates, creating serious challenges for management. In an effort to improve this situation, the SCRS moved away from assessing the western stock against biomass-based reference points and instead evaluated the stock and provided management advice based on fishing mortality rate-based reference points. The draft EA provides more detailed information about the differences between the previous stock assessments’ approach and the current approach, focusing on the last (2014) stock assessment, to offer more context and information. In past western BFT stock assessments and updates, the SCRS presented status and projection information based on two divergent stock recruitment potential scenarios (low and high) and stated that it had insufficient evidence to favor either scenario over the other. Generally, under the low recruitment scenario, it was assumed that the stock is not as productive as it once was (i.e., prior to the 1970s) and therefore the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is fairly low, and the stock is considered rebuilt. Under the high recruitment scenario, it was assumed that the stock could be much more productive as it recovers and MSY is much higher. However, under this scenario, the stock could not be rebuilt within the rebuilding period, even with no catch. The SCRS’ findings did not permit specification of a single MSY level for management purposes. Given the conflicting scenarios, ICCAT selected a TAC that would ensure continued stock growth under either scenario. Following the 2014 stock assessment, NMFS applied domestic E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules stock status determination criteria and concluded that the status of the stock should be changed from ‘‘overfished and subject to overfishing’’ to ‘‘overfished and no longer subject to overfishing,’’ indicating an improved stock status under either scenario. The SCRS next conducted a stock assessment for western Atlantic bluefin tuna in 2017. The 2017 stock assessment report stated that, despite considerable efforts to improve the historical data for the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock and resolve assessment uncertainties, the SCRS has not gained any further insights into future recruitment potential. The assessment concluded that any additional improvements to the historical data are likely to be rather modest in scope and the SCRS expects such insights to ‘‘remain elusive.’’ Moreover, the SCRS stated that the ICCAT Convention objective of stabilizing the stock near the biomass necessary to produce MSY (BMSY) by its very nature tends to prevent the stock from reaching the high and low biomass levels needed to provide adequate contrast for estimating the spawnerrecruit relationship in this situation, which may help resolve the divergent recruitment potential scenarios. The SCRS indicated that it is not possible to calculate biomass-based reference points (e.g., BMSY and the fishing mortality rate consistent with achieving MSY, FMSY) without additional knowledge (or making assumptions) about how future recruitment potential relates to spawning stock biomass. In other words, the SCRS continues to be unable to provide one BMSY and corresponding allowable fishing mortality rate that applies regardless of the stock’s long-term recruitment potential. In light of the continued inability to set such biomass-based reference points and the unlikelihood of resolution in the near future, the SCRS decided to take a new approach to the stock assessment, focusing on fishing mortality rate-based reference points. The SCRS indicated that in other situations with stocks facing such uncertainties, several fishing mortality rate-based reference points have been recommended as proxies for FMSY as a strategy for effective stock management. A fishing mortality rate-based approach does not rely on or assume a stockrecruitment relationship but is derived from the yield-per-recruit curve. More detail about the F0.1 approach is provided in the draft EA. The SCRS stated in the assessment that it VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 considers F0.1 to be a reasonable proxy for FMSY for the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock and indicated that fishing consistently at F0.1 will, over the longterm, cause the stock to fluctuate around the corresponding long-term biomass (B0.1), whatever the future recruitment potential. The SCRS advised that annual constant catches from 2018–2020 should not be greater than 2,500 metric tons (mt) as that would exceed the median yield associated with F0.1. A table showing the probability of avoiding overfishing for various constant TACs was included in the report. The SCRS noted that nearly all constant catch options shown (i.e., TACs greater than 1,000 mt) would result in an estimated decrease in biomass between 2018 and 2020; the percentage decrease being larger for the larger catches. For further detail, see pages 98 and 111 through 121 of the SCRS report at https://www.iccat.int/ Documents/Meetings/Docs/2017_SCRS_ REP_ENG.pdf. At its November 2017 meeting, after considering the SCRS advice, ICCAT adopted a recommendation for an interim conservation and management plan for western Atlantic BFT for 2018 through 2020 (ICCAT Recommendation 17–06). An interim approach was selected in light of the SCRS’ new stock assessment approach and ICCAT’s development of management procedures for the stock by 2020. Management procedures are a way to manage stocks in light of stock assessment and other scientific uncertainties and include use of stock monitoring, pre-agreed actions based on triggers, and evaluation to help ensure identified management objectives are achieved. See EA for more details. The Recommendation includes a TAC of 2,350 mt annually (i.e., an increase of approximately 17.5 percent) for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020. This TAC is within the SCRS-recommended range and provides a buffer from the top end of the range to help further account for identified stock assessment uncertainties. Relevant provisions of the Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Rebuilding Program (Recommendation 16–08) were also maintained in Recommendation 17–06, such as those involving effort and capacity limits, the 10-percent limit on the amount of unused quota Contracting Parties may carry forward, minimum fish size requirements and protection of PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31519 small fish (including the 10-percent tolerance limit on the harvest of BFT measuring less than 115 cm and the procedures for addressing overharvest of the tolerance limit), area and time restrictions, transshipment, scientific research, and data and reporting requirements. Following the 2017 stock assessment, NMFS, applying domestic stock status determination criteria, concluded that the overfished status of the stock is unknown and the stock is not subject to overfishing, stating that changing from overfished to unknown status was appropriate given the continued inability to resolve the two widely divergent stock recruitment potential scenarios and the SCRS’ rejection of that approach in the 2017 assessment in favor of a new approach. Quotas and Domestic Allocations Recommendation 17–06 maintained the quota sharing arrangement (i.e., the percentages to each Contracting Party) of previous recommendations. Under the ICCAT recommendation, the annual U.S. quota is 1,247.86 mt, plus 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED), resulting in a total of 1,272.86 mt. All TAC, quota, and weight information in this action are whole weight amounts. This action proposes implementing the ICCAT-recommended quota of 1,272.86 mt, which would remain in effect until changed (for instance as a result of a new ICCAT BFT TAC and U.S. quota recommendation). NMFS currently anticipates that the annual baseline quota and subquotas would be in effect through 2020. The ICCAT-recommended BFT quota proposed in this action would then be divided among the established regulatory domestic BFT subquota categories. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General— 47.1 percent; Angling—19.7 percent; Harpoon—3.9 percent; Purse Seine— 18.6 percent; Longline—8.1 percent (plus the 68-mt initial allocation); Trap—0.1 percent; and Reserve—2.5 percent. The table below shows the proposed quotas and subquotas that result from applying this process. These quotas would be codified at § 635.27(a) and would remain in effect until changed. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 31520 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—PROPOSED ANNUAL ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA QUOTAS [In metric tons] Category Annual baseline quotas and subquotas Quota General ........................................................... Subquotas 555.7 January–March 1 ............................................ June–August .................................................. September ...................................................... October–November ........................................ December ....................................................... ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ School ............................................................ Reserve ................................................... North of 39°18′ N lat ............................... South of 39°18′ N lat .............................. Large School/Small Medium .......................... North of 39°18′ N lat ............................... South of 39°18′ N lat .............................. Trophy ............................................................ North of 39°18′ N lat ............................... South of 39°18′ N lat .............................. Gulf of Mexico ......................................... Harpoon .......................................................... Longline ........................................................... Trap ................................................................. Purse Seine .................................................... Angling ............................................................ 29.5 277.9 147.3 72.2 28.9 127.3 ........................ ........................ ........................ 99.8 ........................ ........................ 5.3 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 23.5 49.0 54.8 ........................ 47.1 52.7 ........................ 1.8 1.8 1.8 46.0 163.6 1.2 2 219.5 232.4 2 29.5 Reserve ........................................................... U.S. Baseline Quota ....................................... Total U.S. Quota, including 25 mt for NED (Longline). 3 1,247.86 3 1,272.86 1 January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached or projected to be reached, or through March 31, whichever comes first. 2 Baseline amount shown. Does not reflect the annual quota reallocation process (for the Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas) adopted in Amendment 7 and codified in the regulations. 3 Totals subject to rounding error. Within the BFT quota proposed in this action and consistent with the ICCAT-recommended limit on the harvest of school BFT (measuring 27 to less than 47 inches curved fork length (CFL)), the school BFT subquota would be 127.3 mt. The proposed action also would amend the regulations regarding annual quota adjustments to specify that NMFS may adjust the annual school BFT subquota to ensure compliance with the ICCAT-recommended procedures for addressing overharvest of school BFT. This amendment is needed because the current regulatory text refers to outdated language (regarding multi-year ‘‘balancing periods’’) from a previous ICCAT recommendation. NALB Annual Quota daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Recent ICCAT Stock Assessment and Recommendations In 2016, following consideration of the 2016 stock assessment, which showed that the stock was no longer overfished and not subject to overfishing, ICCAT determined that a rebuilding program was no longer needed and adopted a recommendation for a conservation and management program for northern albacore (ICCAT VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 Recommendation 16–06 on a MultiAnnual Conservation and Management Program for North Atlantic Albacore). Recommendation 16–06 maintained the 28,000-mt TAC from the prior recommendation for each of 2017 and 2018, with the possibility of an increase to 30,000 mt for 2019–2020 subject to a decision by the Commission based on updated SCRS advice in 2018. However, in the event that ICCAT adopted a harvest control rule during the 2017– 2020 period, the recommendation called for the TAC to be modified accordingly. The annual U.S. quota under that Recommendation was 527 mt. Key provisions continued to include: Quotas for the major harvesters and catch limits for other Contracting Parties and a 10percent limit on the amount of unused quota Contracting Parties may carry forward. Recommendation 16–06 also incorporated capacity management measures from other active recommendations, including language establishing an authorized vessel list for NALB, operative paragraphs regarding anticipated harvest control rules and management strategy evaluation for the PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 stock, and performance indicators to support future decision making. In 2017, following consideration of SCRS’ work to test a set of harvest control rules through management strategy evaluation simulations, ICCAT adopted an interim harvest control rule for NALB, the first for any ICCAT stock, with the goal of adopting a long-term harvest control rule following further management strategy evaluation testing over the next few years. ICCAT Recommendation 17–04 (Recommendation by ICCAT on a Harvest Control Rule for North Atlantic Albacore Supplementing the Multiannual Conservation and Management Programme, Recommendation 16–06) establishes various biomass and fishing mortality rate-based reference points and includes the specific harvest control rule formula and figure, as well as the formula for setting the appropriate fishing mortality rate and, in turn, the TAC. The 3-year constant annual TAC adopted by ICCAT in 2017 is 33,600 t for 2018–2020; this 20-percent increase from the current 28,000-t TAC is consistent with the Commission’s chosen stability clause, which limits the TAC increase to 20 E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules percent. Application of ICCAT’s NALB allocations to Contracting Parties results in a U.S. quota of 632.4 mt, which is a 20-percent increase (105.4 mt) from the current 527-mt quota. The recommendation calls on the SCRS to continue to develop the management strategy evaluation framework over the 2018–2020 period and calls on ICCAT to review the interim harvest control rule in 2020 with a view to adopting a longterm management procedure at that point. ICCAT plans to consolidate Recommendations 17–04 and 16–06, as well as consider refinements of the interim harvest control rule, at the 2018 Commission meeting. Following the 2016 stock assessment, NMFS applied domestic stock status determination criteria and concluded that the status of the stock should be changed from ‘‘not overfished— rebuilding’’ to ‘‘rebuilt.’’ daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Domestic Quotas The currently-codified baseline annual U.S. NALB quota is 527 mt, which NMFS implemented in 2015 to reflect the amount in the previous ICCAT Recommendation (Recommendation 13–05, Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT Concerning the North Atlantic Albacore Rebuilding Program). This action proposes implementing the current ICCATrecommended quota of 632.4 mt. Modification of the Size Limit Regulations To Address SharkDamaged Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna Minimum fish size regulations have applied for Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna since 1996, when NMFS implemented the 27-inch minimum size for BFT consistent with ICCAT requirements, and also implemented a 27-inch minimum size for bigeye and yellowfin tuna for identification and enforcement purposes. These fish may be landed round with fins intact, or eviscerated with the head and fins removed as long as one pectoral fin and the tail remain attached. They cannot be filleted or cut into pieces at sea. The upper and lower lobes of the tail may be removed from tunas for storage purposes but the fork of the tail must remain intact. To facilitate enforcement, total CFL is the sole criterion for determining the size class of whole (with head) Atlantic tunas. CFL is measured by tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the upper jaw to the fork of the tail in a line that runs along the top of the pectoral fin and the top of the caudal keel. Pectoral fin curved fork length (PFCFL) is the sole criterion for determining the size class of a bluefin tuna with the head VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 removed and is multiplied by 1.35 to obtain total CFL. For detailed diagrams and measuring instructions, see the HMS Compliance Guides at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highlymigratory-species/atlantic-highlymigratory-species-fishery-complianceguides. Currently, the size limit regulations prohibit a person from taking, retaining, or possessing a BFT, bigeye tuna, or yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean that is less than 27 inches CFL. The regulations also prohibit removing the head of a bigeye tuna or yellowfin tuna if the remaining portion would be less than 27 inches from the fork of the tail to the forward edge of the cut. NMFS proposes minor modifications to the applicable Atlantic tunas size limit regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and yellowfin damaged by shark bites. NMFS implemented similar measures to address shark-damaged swordfish in 1996 (61 FR 27304, May 31, 1996). Specifically, NMFS proposes to add text to the size limit regulations applicable to bigeye and yellowfin tunas to indicate that a ‘‘bigeye or yellowfin tuna that is damaged by shark bites may be retained, possessed, or landed only if the length of the remainder of the fish is equal to or greater than 27 inches (69 cm).’’ These changes would allow retention, possession, and landing of yellowfin and bigeye tuna for which a measurement to the fork of the tail may not be possible, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the current minimum size (e.g., 27 inches for yellowfin and bigeye tuna). For enforcement purposes to preserve evidence that the carcass was sharkbitten, the action also proposes that no tissue may be cut away from or other alterations made to the shark-damaged area of the fish. The effects of this change are primarily economic and administrative and no environmental effects are anticipated because the change only allows for retention of a very limited number of fish that would otherwise be caught but need to be discarded. Request for Comments NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through August 6, 2018. See instructions in ADDRESSES section. Public Hearing Conference Call NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on July 17, 2018, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, to allow for an additional opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed quota rule. PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31521 The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public hearings and on conference calls to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules (all comments are to be directed to the agency on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; and attendees should not interrupt one another). The NMFS representative will attempt to structure the meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject matter. If attendees do not respect the ground rules, they will be asked to leave the conference call. Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION sections of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the RFA, the purpose of this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, to analyze the impacts of the alternatives for implementing the ICCAT-recommended U.S. BFT and NALB quotas and allocating the BFT quota per the codified quota regulations. The proposed action also would update regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements and would make a minor change to the Atlantic tunas size limit regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites. In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the RFA, the objective of this proposed rulemaking is to implement ICCAT recommendations and achieve E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 31522 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Agencies to provide descriptions of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA’s regulations for an agency to develop its own industry-specific size standards after consultation with Advocacy and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use by NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of the agency’s obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the Federal Register, which NMFS did in a December 29, 2015, final rule (80 FR 81194) which was effective on July 1, 2016 (50 CFR 200.2). In 50 CFR 200.2, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all commercial HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing. As described in the recently published final rule to implement quarterly Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) accounting (82 FR 61489, December 28, 2017), the average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline vessel was estimated to be $308,050 for 2013 through 2016. NMFS considers all HMS Atlantic Tunas Longline permit holders (280 as of October 2017) to be small entities because these vessels have reported annual gross receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing. The average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline vessel was estimated to be $187,000, based on the 170 active vessels between 2006 and 2012 that produced an estimated $31.8 million in revenue annually. The maximum annual revenue for any pelagic longline vessel between 2006 and 2015 was $1.9 million, well below the NMFS small business size threshold of $11 million in gross receipts for commercial fishing. NMFS is unaware of any other Atlantic Tunas category permit holders that potentially could earn more than $11 million in revenue annually. HMS Angling category VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 permits, which are recreational fishing permits, are typically obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities for purposes of the RFA. Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas permit holders and HMS Charter/ Headboat permit holders subject to this action to be small entities. This action would apply to all participants in the Atlantic tunas fisheries, i.e., to the over 27,000 vessels that held an Atlantic HMS Charter/ Headboat, Atlantic HMS Angling, or an Atlantic Tunas permit as of October 2017. This proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas permit or Atlantic HMS Charter/ Headboat permit. It is unknown what portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in the BFT and NALB fisheries or fishing services for recreational anglers. As summarized in the 2017 SAFE Report for Atlantic HMS, there were 6,855 commercial Atlantic tunas or Atlantic HMS permits in 2017, as follows: 2,940 in the Atlantic Tunas General category; 11 in the Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category; 5 in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category; 280 in the Atlantic Tunas Longline category; 1 in the Atlantic Tunas Trap category; and 3,618 in the HMS Charter/Headboat category. In the process of developing the IBQ regulations implemented in the final rule for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), NMFS deemed 136 Longline category vessels as eligible for IBQ shares (i.e., 136 vessels reported a set in the HMS logbook between 2006 and 2012 and had valid Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits on a vessel as of August 21, 2013, the publication date of the Amendment 7 proposed rule). This constitutes the best available information regarding the universe of permits and permit holders recently analyzed. It is unknown what portion of fishery participants would benefit from the minor change in the regulations to allow retention, possession, and landing of shark-damaged bigeye and yellowfin tuna, for which a measurement to the fork of the tail may not be possible, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the current minimum sizes (e.g., 27 inches for yellowfin, and bigeye tunas). NMFS has determined that this action would not likely directly affect any small government jurisdictions defined under the RFA. Under section 603(b)(4) of the RFA, agencies are required to describe any new reporting, record-keeping, and other compliance requirements. The action does not contain any new PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 collection of information, reporting, or record-keeping requirements. Under section 603(b)(5) of the RFA, agencies must identify, to the extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements, domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the MagnusonStevens Act, ATCA, the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. This proposed rule has also been determined not to duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any relevant regulations, Federal or otherwise. Under section 603(c) of the RFA, agencies are required to describe any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives of the applicable statutes and which minimize any significant economic impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. These alternatives and their impacts are discussed below. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)–(4)) lists four general categories of significant alternatives that would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. These categories of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities. Regarding the first, second, and fourth categories, NMFS cannot establish differing compliance or reporting requirements for small entities or exempt small entities from coverage of the rule or parts of it, because all of the businesses impacted by this rule are considered small entities, and thus the requirements are already designed for small entities. Thus, no alternatives are discussed that fall under the first and fourth categories described above. Amendment 7 in 2014 implemented criteria for determining the availability of BFT quota for Purse Seine fishery category participants and IBQs for the Longline category. Both of these and the eligibility criteria for IBQs and access to the Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules for the Longline category can be considered individual performance standards. NMFS has not yet found a practical means of applying individual performance standards to the other quota categories while concurrently complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Thus, there are no alternatives considered under the third category. NMFS has estimated the average impact that establishing the increased annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for all domestic fishing categories would have on individual categories and the vessels within those categories. As mentioned above, the 2017 BFT ICCAT recommendation increased the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020 to 1,247.86 mt and provides 25 mt annually for incidental catch of BFT related to directed longline fisheries in the NED. The annual U.S. baseline BFT subquotas would be adjusted consistent with the process (i.e., the formulas) established in Amendment 7 (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014) and as codified in the quota regulations, and these amounts (in mt) would be codified. This rulemaking proposes to implement the recently adopted ICCATrecommended U.S. BFT and NALB quotas and, for BFT, to apply the allocations for each quota category per the codified quota regulations. This action would be consistent with ATCA, under which the Secretary promulgates regulations as necessary and appropriate to implement binding ICCAT recommendations. To calculate the average ex-vessel BFT revenues under this action, NMFS first estimated potential category-wide revenues. The most recent ex-vessel average price per pound information for each commercial quota category is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross revenues under the proposed subquotas (i.e., 2017 prices for the General, Harpoon, and Longline/Trap categories, and 2015 prices for the Purse Seine category). For comparison, in 2017, gross revenues were approximately $9.2 million, broken out by category as follows: General—$7.8 million, Harpoon—$496,968, Purse Seine—$0, Longline—$878,824, and Trap—$0. The proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross revenues of $10 million annually, if finalized and fully utilized, broken out by category as follows: General category: $6.5 million (555.7 mt * $5.30/lb); Harpoon category: $526,326 (46 mt * $5.19/lb); Purse Seine category: $1.5 million (219.5 mt * $3.21/ lb); Longline category: $1.4 million (163.6 mt * $3.99/lb); and Trap category: $10,556 (1.2 mt * $3.99/lb). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 No affected entities would be expected to experience negative, direct economic impacts as a result of this action. On the contrary, each of the BFT quota categories would increase relative to the baseline quotas that applied in 2015 through 2017. To the extent that Purse Seine fishery participants and IBQ participants could receive additional quota as a result of the Amendment 7implemented allocation formulas being applied to increases in available Purse Seine and Longline category quota, those participants would receive varying amounts of an increase, which would result in direct benefits from either increased fishing opportunities or quota leasing. To estimate potential average exvessel revenues that could result from this action for BFT, NMFS divides the potential annual gross revenues for the General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Trap category by the number of permit holders. For the Longline category, NMFS divides the potential annual gross revenues by the number of IBQ share recipients. This is an appropriate approach for BFT fisheries, in particular, because available landings data (weight and ex-vessel value of the fish in price-per-pound) allow NMFS to calculate the gross revenue earned by a fishery participant on a successful trip. The available data (particularly from non-Longline participants) do not, however, allow NMFS to calculate the effort and cost associated with each successful trip (e.g., the cost of gas, bait, ice, etc.), so net revenue for each participant cannot be calculated. As a result, NMFS analyzes the average impact of the proposed alternatives among all participants in each category. Success rates vary widely across participants in each category (due to extent of vessel effort and availability of commercial-sized BFT to participants where they fish), but for the sake of estimating potential revenues per vessel, category-wide revenues can be divided by the number of permitted vessels in each category. For the Longline fishery, actual revenues would depend, in part, on each vessel’s IBQ in 2018. It is unknown what portion of HMS Charter/ Headboat permit holders actively participate in the BFT fishery. HMS Charter/Headboat vessels may fish commercially under the General category quota and retention limits. Therefore, NMFS is estimating potential General category ex-vessel revenue changes using the number of General category vessels only. Estimated potential 2018 revenues on a per vessel basis, considering the number of permit holders listed above and the proposed subquotas, could be PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31523 $2,409 for the General category; $47,848 for the Harpoon category; $310,670 for the Purse Seine category; $10,582 for the Longline category, using the 136 IBQ share recipients; and $10,556 for the Trap category. Thus, all of the entities affected by this rule are considered to be small entities for the purposes of the RFA. Consistent with the codified BFT quota regulations at § 635.27(a)(v), NMFS will continue to annually calculate the quota available to historical Purse Seine fishery participants and reallocate the remaining Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category. NMFS will further adjust those amounts if the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota in this proposed rule is finalized. The analyses in this IRFA are limited to the proposed baseline subquotas. Because the directed commercial categories have underharvested their subquotas in recent years, the potential increases in ex-vessel revenues above may overestimate the probable economic impacts to those categories relative to recent conditions. Additionally, there has been substantial interannual variability in ex-vessel revenues in each category in recent years, due to recent changes in BFT availability and other factors. The 2017 NALB ICCAT recommendation increased the annual U.S. baseline NALB quota for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020 to 632.4 mt. Based on knowledge of current participants in the fishery and estimated gross revenues, NMFS considers all of the entities affected by the NALB quota action be small entities for the purposes of the RFA. NMFS does not subdivide the U.S. NALB quota into category subquotas. The most recent ex-vessel average price per pound information is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross revenues. The proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross revenues of $1.8 million annually, if finalized and fully utilized ((632.4 mt/ 1.25) * $1.63/lb dw). No affected entities would be expected to experience negative, direct economic impacts as a result of this action. The proposed change to the regulatory text concerning Atlantic bigeye and yellowfin tuna size limits applies to all fishery participants but is not expected to have significant economic impacts. This is because shark damage to caught bigeye and yellowfin tuna is rare, and the proposed change to the regulatory text is not expected to result in changes to Atlantic tunas fishery operations. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 31524 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635 Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. Dated: June 29, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 635 to read as follows: PART 635—ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. Amend § 635.20, by revising paragraph (c)(3) to read as follows: ■ § 635.20 Size limits. * * * * * (c) * * * (3) No person aboard a vessel shall remove the head of a bigeye tuna or yellowfin tuna if the remaining portion would be less than 27 inches (69 cm) from the fork of the tail to the forward edge of the cut. A bigeye or yellowfin tuna that is damaged by shark bites may be retained, possessed, or landed only if the length of the remainder of the fish is equal to or greater than 27 inches (69 cm). No person shall cut or otherwise alter the shark-damaged area in any manner. * * * * * ■ 3. Amend § 635.27, by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1)(i), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4)(i), (a)(5), (a)(6), (a)(7)(i), (a)(7)(ii), (a)(10)(iii), and (e)(1) to read as follows: daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS § 635.27 Quotas. (a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,247.86 mt, not including an additional annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 of this section. The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General—47.1 percent (555.7 mt); Angling—19.7 percent (232.4 mt), which includes the school bluefin tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section; Harpoon—3.9 percent (46 mt); Purse Seine—18.6 percent (219.5 mt); Longline—8.1 percent (95.6) plus the 68-mt allocation (i.e., 163.6 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph (a)(3)); Trap—0.1 percent (1.2 mt); and Reserve—2.5 percent (29.5 mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of Purse Seine quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. (1) * * * (i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an HMS Charter/ Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the General category quota in accordance with § 635.23(c)(3). Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold under the General category quota is 555.7 mt, and is apportioned as follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section: (A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected to be reached under § 635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever comes first—5.3 percent (29.5 mt); (B) June 1 through August 31—50 percent (277.9 mt); (C) September 1 through September 30—26.5 percent (147.3 mt); (D) October 1 through November 30— 13 percent (72.2 mt); and (E) December 1 through December 31—5.2 percent (28.9 mt). * * * * * (2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 retained, possessed, and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 232.4 mt. No more than 2.3 percent (5.3 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, no more than 10 percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school bluefin tuna (i.e., 127.3 mt). The Angling category quota includes the amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna are further subdivided as follows: (i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent (54.8 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (49 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat. (ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (52.7 mt) of the large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota (47.1 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat. (iii) One third (1.8 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught retained, possessed, or landed, in each of the three following geographic areas: North of 39°18′ N. lat.; south of 39°18′ N. lat., and outside of the Gulf of Mexico; and in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c). (3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 163.6 mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under § 635.15(b)(8). (4) * * * (i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 130 / Friday, July 6, 2018 / Proposed Rules daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 219.5 mt, unless adjusted as a result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted (prior to allocation to individual participants) based on the previous year’s catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS will start the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 and August 15, by filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, and notifying the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on December 31 of each year. * * * * * (5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Jul 05, 2018 Jkt 244001 Atlantic Tunas permits is 46 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, and closes on November 15 of each year. (6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.2 mt. (7) * * * (i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 29.5 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota. (ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fisheryindependent research is 18.5 percent (23.5 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this section. PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 31525 This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments to the Angling category. * * * * * (10) * * * (iii) Regardless of the estimated landings in any year, NMFS may adjust the annual school bluefin tuna quota to ensure compliance with the ICCATrecommended procedures for addressing overharvest of school bluefin tuna. * * * * * (e) Northern albacore tuna—(1) Annual quota. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, the total baseline annual fishery quota is 632.4 mt ww. The total quota, after any adjustments made per paragraph (e)(2) of this section, is the fishing year’s total amount of northern albacore tuna that may be landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2018–14452 Filed 7–5–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 130 (Friday, July 6, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31517-31525]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-14452]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8548-01]
RIN 0648-BH54


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and 
Northern Albacore Tuna Quotas

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments; notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to modify the baseline annual U.S. quota and 
subquotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) and the baseline annual U.S. 
North Atlantic albacore (northern albacore or NALB) quota. The proposed 
action also would modify regulations to update regulatory language on 
school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements. Finally, NMFS also 
proposes to make a minor change to the Atlantic tunas size limit 
regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and 
yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites. 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: Written comments must be received on or before August 6, 2018. 
NMFS will host an operator-assisted public hearing conference call and 
webinar on July 17, 2018, from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT, providing an 
opportunity for individuals from all geographic areas to participate. 
See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2018-0004,'' 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-2018-0004, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Sarah McLaughlin, Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 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. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and generally will 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).
    The public hearing conference call information is phone number 1-
800-593-7188; participant passcode 6548000. Participants are strongly 
encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will 
show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To 
join the webinar, go to: https://noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/onstage/g.php?MTID=e051cd980da5c8b77c9062c866bbb3c95; meeting number: 
993 478 244; password: NOAA. Participants who have not used WebEx 
before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will 
enable them to view the webinar.

[[Page 31518]]

    Supporting documents, including the Environmental Assessment, 
Regulatory Impact Review, and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, 
may be downloaded from the HMS website at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species/. These documents also are available 
by contacting Sarah McLaughlin at the mailing address specified above.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore 
tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as 
``Atlantic tunas'') are managed under the dual authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and ATCA (16 U.S.C. 971 
et seq.). As a member of ICCAT, the United States implements binding 
ICCAT recommendations pursuant to ATCA, which authorizes the Secretary 
of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be necessary 
and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. The authority to 
issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been 
delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NMFS.
    Regulations implemented under the authority of ATCA and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act governing the harvest of BFT and NALB by persons 
and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. 
Section 635.27(a) subdivides the ICCAT-recommended U.S. BFT quota among 
the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations 
established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, 
October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and provides the 
annual BFT quota adjustment process. Section 635.27(e) implements the 
ICCAT-recommended U.S. NALB quota and provides the annual NALB quota 
adjustment process. Section 635.20(c) implements the size limit 
restrictions applicable to BFT, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna. 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.
    Since 1982, ICCAT has recommended a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 
western Atlantic BFT for contracting parties fishing on the stock, and 
since 1991, ICCAT has recommended specific quotas within that TAC for 
the United States and other contracting parties. Since 1999, ICCAT has 
managed western BFT in accordance with a 20-year rebuilding program 
adopted in 1998. Since 1998, ICCAT has adopted recommendations 
regarding the NALB fishery, including quotas for the major harvesters. 
In 2009, ICCAT established a NALB rebuilding program, including a TAC 
and several provisions to limit catches by contracting parties (for 
major and minor harvesters). ICCAT sets BFT and NALB conservation and 
management measures, including TACs, following consideration of the 
latest stock assessment information and management advice provided by 
the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS), ICCAT's 
scientific body.
    Through this action, NMFS proposes to adjust the annual U.S. 
baseline BFT quota and subquotas and the annual U.S. baseline NALB 
quota to implement the new quotas adopted in 2017 by ICCAT as required 
by ATCA, and to achieve domestic management objectives under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS also is proposing minor modifications to the 
Atlantic tunas size limit regulations to address retention, possession, 
and landing of bigeye and yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites. This 
change would allow retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and 
yellowfin tuna for which the otherwise-required measurement to the fork 
of the tail may not be possible, provided that the remainder of the 
fish meets the applicable minimum sizes. Minimum fish size regulations 
apply to Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna but 
this change would apply only to bigeye and yellowfin tunas. This change 
is not a result of ICCAT recommendations but rather clarifies the 
applicability of size limits to a situation that is not addressed by 
the current regulations. The clarification is included in this action 
for purposes of administrative efficiency and because it addresses 
Atlantic tunas management, like the other actions being implemented 
here. Finally, this action would modify regulations to update 
regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT 
requirements.
    NMFS has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA), which analyze the anticipated environmental, social, and 
economic impacts of several alternatives for each of the major issues 
contained in this proposed rule. The list of alternatives and their 
analyses are provided in the draft EA/RIR/IRFA and are not repeated 
here in their entirety. The effects of the changes related to retention 
of shark-bitten tunas are primarily economic and administrative in 
nature and thus are not analyzed in the draft EA. The effects of 
updating regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT 
requirements are administrative in nature and thus are not analyzed in 
the draft EA.
    A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA prepared for this proposed rule is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

Bluefin Tuna Annual Quota and Subquotas

2017 ICCAT Stock Assessment and Recommendation

    The SCRS took a substantially different approach in 2017 from prior 
years in evaluating and providing management advice for the western BFT 
stock. In the past, significant uncertainties in some population 
characteristics resulted in assessments with very divergent stock 
status estimates, creating serious challenges for management. In an 
effort to improve this situation, the SCRS moved away from assessing 
the western stock against biomass-based reference points and instead 
evaluated the stock and provided management advice based on fishing 
mortality rate-based reference points. The draft EA provides more 
detailed information about the differences between the previous stock 
assessments' approach and the current approach, focusing on the last 
(2014) stock assessment, to offer more context and information.
    In past western BFT stock assessments and updates, the SCRS 
presented status and projection information based on two divergent 
stock recruitment potential scenarios (low and high) and stated that it 
had insufficient evidence to favor either scenario over the other. 
Generally, under the low recruitment scenario, it was assumed that the 
stock is not as productive as it once was (i.e., prior to the 1970s) 
and therefore the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is fairly low, and 
the stock is considered rebuilt. Under the high recruitment scenario, 
it was assumed that the stock could be much more productive as it 
recovers and MSY is much higher. However, under this scenario, the 
stock could not be rebuilt within the rebuilding period, even with no 
catch. The SCRS' findings did not permit specification of a single MSY 
level for management purposes. Given the conflicting scenarios, ICCAT 
selected a TAC that would ensure continued stock growth under either 
scenario. Following the 2014 stock assessment, NMFS applied domestic

[[Page 31519]]

stock status determination criteria and concluded that the status of 
the stock should be changed from ``overfished and subject to 
overfishing'' to ``overfished and no longer subject to overfishing,'' 
indicating an improved stock status under either scenario.
    The SCRS next conducted a stock assessment for western Atlantic 
bluefin tuna in 2017. The 2017 stock assessment report stated that, 
despite considerable efforts to improve the historical data for the 
western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock and resolve assessment 
uncertainties, the SCRS has not gained any further insights into future 
recruitment potential. The assessment concluded that any additional 
improvements to the historical data are likely to be rather modest in 
scope and the SCRS expects such insights to ``remain elusive.'' 
Moreover, the SCRS stated that the ICCAT Convention objective of 
stabilizing the stock near the biomass necessary to produce MSY 
(BMSY) by its very nature tends to prevent the stock from 
reaching the high and low biomass levels needed to provide adequate 
contrast for estimating the spawner-recruit relationship in this 
situation, which may help resolve the divergent recruitment potential 
scenarios. The SCRS indicated that it is not possible to calculate 
biomass-based reference points (e.g., BMSY and the fishing 
mortality rate consistent with achieving MSY, FMSY) without 
additional knowledge (or making assumptions) about how future 
recruitment potential relates to spawning stock biomass. In other 
words, the SCRS continues to be unable to provide one BMSY 
and corresponding allowable fishing mortality rate that applies 
regardless of the stock's long-term recruitment potential. In light of 
the continued inability to set such biomass-based reference points and 
the unlikelihood of resolution in the near future, the SCRS decided to 
take a new approach to the stock assessment, focusing on fishing 
mortality rate-based reference points. The SCRS indicated that in other 
situations with stocks facing such uncertainties, several fishing 
mortality rate-based reference points have been recommended as proxies 
for FMSY as a strategy for effective stock management. A 
fishing mortality rate-based approach does not rely on or assume a 
stock-recruitment relationship but is derived from the yield-per-
recruit curve. More detail about the F0.1 approach is 
provided in the draft EA. The SCRS stated in the assessment that it 
considers F0.1 to be a reasonable proxy for FMSY 
for the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock and indicated that fishing 
consistently at F0.1 will, over the long-term, cause the 
stock to fluctuate around the corresponding long-term biomass 
(B0.1), whatever the future recruitment potential.
    The SCRS advised that annual constant catches from 2018-2020 should 
not be greater than 2,500 metric tons (mt) as that would exceed the 
median yield associated with F0.1. A table showing the 
probability of avoiding overfishing for various constant TACs was 
included in the report. The SCRS noted that nearly all constant catch 
options shown (i.e., TACs greater than 1,000 mt) would result in an 
estimated decrease in biomass between 2018 and 2020; the percentage 
decrease being larger for the larger catches. For further detail, see 
pages 98 and 111 through 121 of the SCRS report at https://www.iccat.int/Documents/Meetings/Docs/2017_SCRS_REP_ENG.pdf.
    At its November 2017 meeting, after considering the SCRS advice, 
ICCAT adopted a recommendation for an interim conservation and 
management plan for western Atlantic BFT for 2018 through 2020 (ICCAT 
Recommendation 17-06). An interim approach was selected in light of the 
SCRS' new stock assessment approach and ICCAT's development of 
management procedures for the stock by 2020. Management procedures are 
a way to manage stocks in light of stock assessment and other 
scientific uncertainties and include use of stock monitoring, pre-
agreed actions based on triggers, and evaluation to help ensure 
identified management objectives are achieved. See EA for more details. 
The Recommendation includes a TAC of 2,350 mt annually (i.e., an 
increase of approximately 17.5 percent) for each of 2018, 2019, and 
2020. This TAC is within the SCRS-recommended range and provides a 
buffer from the top end of the range to help further account for 
identified stock assessment uncertainties. Relevant provisions of the 
Recommendation by ICCAT Amending the Supplemental Recommendation by 
ICCAT Concerning the Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Rebuilding Program 
(Recommendation 16-08) were also maintained in Recommendation 17-06, 
such as those involving effort and capacity limits, the 10-percent 
limit on the amount of unused quota Contracting Parties may carry 
forward, minimum fish size requirements and protection of small fish 
(including the 10-percent tolerance limit on the harvest of BFT 
measuring less than 115 cm and the procedures for addressing 
overharvest of the tolerance limit), area and time restrictions, 
transshipment, scientific research, and data and reporting 
requirements.
    Following the 2017 stock assessment, NMFS, applying domestic stock 
status determination criteria, concluded that the overfished status of 
the stock is unknown and the stock is not subject to overfishing, 
stating that changing from overfished to unknown status was appropriate 
given the continued inability to resolve the two widely divergent stock 
recruitment potential scenarios and the SCRS' rejection of that 
approach in the 2017 assessment in favor of a new approach.

Quotas and Domestic Allocations

    Recommendation 17-06 maintained the quota sharing arrangement 
(i.e., the percentages to each Contracting Party) of previous 
recommendations. Under the ICCAT recommendation, the annual U.S. quota 
is 1,247.86 mt, plus 25 mt to account for bycatch related to pelagic 
longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED), 
resulting in a total of 1,272.86 mt. All TAC, quota, and weight 
information in this action are whole weight amounts.
    This action proposes implementing the ICCAT-recommended quota of 
1,272.86 mt, which would remain in effect until changed (for instance 
as a result of a new ICCAT BFT TAC and U.S. quota recommendation). NMFS 
currently anticipates that the annual baseline quota and subquotas 
would be in effect through 2020.
    The ICCAT-recommended BFT quota proposed in this action would then 
be divided among the established regulatory domestic BFT subquota 
categories. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the annual U.S. baseline 
BFT quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the 
remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the 
following percentages: General--47.1 percent; Angling--19.7 percent; 
Harpoon--3.9 percent; Purse Seine--18.6 percent; Longline--8.1 percent 
(plus the 68-mt initial allocation); Trap--0.1 percent; and Reserve--
2.5 percent.
    The table below shows the proposed quotas and subquotas that result 
from applying this process. These quotas would be codified at Sec.  
635.27(a) and would remain in effect until changed.

[[Page 31520]]



                              Table 1--Proposed Annual Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas
                                                [In metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Category                                                 Annual baseline quotas and subquotas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Quota                               Subquotas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
General............................           555.7
                                                     January-March \1\..........            29.5  ..............
                                                     June-August................           277.9  ..............
                                                     September..................           147.3  ..............
                                                     October-November...........            72.2  ..............
                                                     December...................            28.9  ..............
Harpoon............................            46.0
Longline...........................           163.6
Trap...............................         1.2 \2\
Purse Seine........................           219.5
Angling............................           232.4
                                                     School.....................           127.3  ..............
                                                        Reserve.................  ..............            23.5
                                                        North of 39[deg]18' N     ..............            49.0
                                                         lat.
                                                        South of 39[deg]18' N     ..............            54.8
                                                         lat.
                                                     Large School/Small Medium..            99.8  ..............
                                                        North of 39[deg]18' N     ..............            47.1
                                                         lat.
                                                        South of 39[deg]18' N     ..............            52.7
                                                         lat.
                                                     Trophy.....................             5.3  ..............
                                                        North of 39[deg]18' N     ..............             1.8
                                                         lat.
                                                        South of 39[deg]18' N     ..............             1.8
                                                         lat.
                                                        Gulf of Mexico..........  ..............             1.8
Reserve............................        \2\ 29.5
U.S. Baseline Quota................    \3\ 1,247.86
Total U.S. Quota, including 25 mt      \3\ 1,272.86
 for NED (Longline).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota
  is reached or projected to be reached, or through March 31, whichever comes first.
\2\ Baseline amount shown. Does not reflect the annual quota reallocation process (for the Purse Seine and
  Reserve category quotas) adopted in Amendment 7 and codified in the regulations.
\3\ Totals subject to rounding error.

    Within the BFT quota proposed in this action and consistent with 
the ICCAT-recommended limit on the harvest of school BFT (measuring 27 
to less than 47 inches curved fork length (CFL)), the school BFT 
subquota would be 127.3 mt. The proposed action also would amend the 
regulations regarding annual quota adjustments to specify that NMFS may 
adjust the annual school BFT subquota to ensure compliance with the 
ICCAT-recommended procedures for addressing overharvest of school BFT. 
This amendment is needed because the current regulatory text refers to 
outdated language (regarding multi-year ``balancing periods'') from a 
previous ICCAT recommendation.

NALB Annual Quota

Recent ICCAT Stock Assessment and Recommendations

    In 2016, following consideration of the 2016 stock assessment, 
which showed that the stock was no longer overfished and not subject to 
overfishing, ICCAT determined that a rebuilding program was no longer 
needed and adopted a recommendation for a conservation and management 
program for northern albacore (ICCAT Recommendation 16-06 on a Multi-
Annual Conservation and Management Program for North Atlantic 
Albacore). Recommendation 16-06 maintained the 28,000-mt TAC from the 
prior recommendation for each of 2017 and 2018, with the possibility of 
an increase to 30,000 mt for 2019-2020 subject to a decision by the 
Commission based on updated SCRS advice in 2018. However, in the event 
that ICCAT adopted a harvest control rule during the 2017-2020 period, 
the recommendation called for the TAC to be modified accordingly. The 
annual U.S. quota under that Recommendation was 527 mt. Key provisions 
continued to include: Quotas for the major harvesters and catch limits 
for other Contracting Parties and a 10-percent limit on the amount of 
unused quota Contracting Parties may carry forward.
    Recommendation 16-06 also incorporated capacity management measures 
from other active recommendations, including language establishing an 
authorized vessel list for NALB, operative paragraphs regarding 
anticipated harvest control rules and management strategy evaluation 
for the stock, and performance indicators to support future decision 
making.
    In 2017, following consideration of SCRS' work to test a set of 
harvest control rules through management strategy evaluation 
simulations, ICCAT adopted an interim harvest control rule for NALB, 
the first for any ICCAT stock, with the goal of adopting a long-term 
harvest control rule following further management strategy evaluation 
testing over the next few years. ICCAT Recommendation 17-04 
(Recommendation by ICCAT on a Harvest Control Rule for North Atlantic 
Albacore Supplementing the Multiannual Conservation and Management 
Programme, Recommendation 16-06) establishes various biomass and 
fishing mortality rate-based reference points and includes the specific 
harvest control rule formula and figure, as well as the formula for 
setting the appropriate fishing mortality rate and, in turn, the TAC. 
The 3-year constant annual TAC adopted by ICCAT in 2017 is 33,600 t for 
2018-2020; this 20-percent increase from the current 28,000-t TAC is 
consistent with the Commission's chosen stability clause, which limits 
the TAC increase to 20

[[Page 31521]]

percent. Application of ICCAT's NALB allocations to Contracting Parties 
results in a U.S. quota of 632.4 mt, which is a 20-percent increase 
(105.4 mt) from the current 527-mt quota. The recommendation calls on 
the SCRS to continue to develop the management strategy evaluation 
framework over the 2018-2020 period and calls on ICCAT to review the 
interim harvest control rule in 2020 with a view to adopting a long-
term management procedure at that point. ICCAT plans to consolidate 
Recommendations 17-04 and 16-06, as well as consider refinements of the 
interim harvest control rule, at the 2018 Commission meeting.
    Following the 2016 stock assessment, NMFS applied domestic stock 
status determination criteria and concluded that the status of the 
stock should be changed from ``not overfished--rebuilding'' to 
``rebuilt.''

Domestic Quotas

    The currently-codified baseline annual U.S. NALB quota is 527 mt, 
which NMFS implemented in 2015 to reflect the amount in the previous 
ICCAT Recommendation (Recommendation 13-05, Supplemental Recommendation 
by ICCAT Concerning the North Atlantic Albacore Rebuilding Program). 
This action proposes implementing the current ICCAT-recommended quota 
of 632.4 mt.

Modification of the Size Limit Regulations To Address Shark-Damaged 
Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna

    Minimum fish size regulations have applied for Atlantic bluefin 
tuna, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna since 1996, when NMFS implemented 
the 27-inch minimum size for BFT consistent with ICCAT requirements, 
and also implemented a 27-inch minimum size for bigeye and yellowfin 
tuna for identification and enforcement purposes. These fish may be 
landed round with fins intact, or eviscerated with the head and fins 
removed as long as one pectoral fin and the tail remain attached. They 
cannot be filleted or cut into pieces at sea. The upper and lower lobes 
of the tail may be removed from tunas for storage purposes but the fork 
of the tail must remain intact.
    To facilitate enforcement, total CFL is the sole criterion for 
determining the size class of whole (with head) Atlantic tunas. CFL is 
measured by tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the upper 
jaw to the fork of the tail in a line that runs along the top of the 
pectoral fin and the top of the caudal keel. Pectoral fin curved fork 
length (PFCFL) is the sole criterion for determining the size class of 
a bluefin tuna with the head removed and is multiplied by 1.35 to 
obtain total CFL. For detailed diagrams and measuring instructions, see 
the HMS Compliance Guides at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highly-migratory-species/atlantic-highly-migratory-species-fishery-compliance-guides. Currently, the size limit regulations prohibit a person from 
taking, retaining, or possessing a BFT, bigeye tuna, or yellowfin tuna 
in the Atlantic Ocean that is less than 27 inches CFL. The regulations 
also prohibit removing the head of a bigeye tuna or yellowfin tuna if 
the remaining portion would be less than 27 inches from the fork of the 
tail to the forward edge of the cut.
    NMFS proposes minor modifications to the applicable Atlantic tunas 
size limit regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of 
bigeye and yellowfin damaged by shark bites. NMFS implemented similar 
measures to address shark-damaged swordfish in 1996 (61 FR 27304, May 
31, 1996). Specifically, NMFS proposes to add text to the size limit 
regulations applicable to bigeye and yellowfin tunas to indicate that a 
``bigeye or yellowfin tuna that is damaged by shark bites may be 
retained, possessed, or landed only if the length of the remainder of 
the fish is equal to or greater than 27 inches (69 cm).'' These changes 
would allow retention, possession, and landing of yellowfin and bigeye 
tuna for which a measurement to the fork of the tail may not be 
possible, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the current 
minimum size (e.g., 27 inches for yellowfin and bigeye tuna). For 
enforcement purposes to preserve evidence that the carcass was shark-
bitten, the action also proposes that no tissue may be cut away from or 
other alterations made to the shark-damaged area of the fish. The 
effects of this change are primarily economic and administrative and no 
environmental effects are anticipated because the change only allows 
for retention of a very limited number of fish that would otherwise be 
caught but need to be discarded.

Request for Comments

    NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through August 6, 
2018. See instructions in ADDRESSES section.

Public Hearing Conference Call

    NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on July 
17, 2018, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, to allow for an additional 
opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic 
areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed quota rule.
    The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public 
hearings and on conference calls to conduct themselves appropriately. 
At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will 
explain the ground rules (all comments are to be directed to the agency 
on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments 
in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have 
an equal amount of time to speak; and attendees should not interrupt 
one another). The NMFS representative will attempt to structure the 
meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to 
comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of 
the subject matter. If attendees do not respect the ground rules, they 
will be asked to leave the conference call.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed 
rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this 
proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description 
of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this 
action are contained in the SUMMARY and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
sections of the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of 
this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the RFA, the purpose of 
this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, to 
analyze the impacts of the alternatives for implementing the ICCAT-
recommended U.S. BFT and NALB quotas and allocating the BFT quota per 
the codified quota regulations. The proposed action also would update 
regulatory language on school BFT to reflect current ICCAT requirements 
and would make a minor change to the Atlantic tunas size limit 
regulations to address retention, possession, and landing of bigeye and 
yellowfin tuna damaged by shark bites.
    In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the RFA, the objective of 
this proposed rulemaking is to implement ICCAT recommendations and 
achieve

[[Page 31522]]

domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Agencies to provide 
descriptions of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small 
entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business 
Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major 
industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. 
Provision is made under SBA's regulations for an agency to develop its 
own industry-specific size standards after consultation with Advocacy 
and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under 
this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from 
those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use 
by NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic 
effects in fulfillment of the agency's obligations under the RFA. To 
utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the 
Federal Register, which NMFS did in a December 29, 2015, final rule (80 
FR 81194) which was effective on July 1, 2016 (50 CFR 200.2). In 50 CFR 
200.2, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million 
in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing 
industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all 
commercial HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had 
average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial 
fishing.
    As described in the recently published final rule to implement 
quarterly Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) accounting (82 FR 61489, 
December 28, 2017), the average annual gross revenue per active pelagic 
longline vessel was estimated to be $308,050 for 2013 through 2016. 
NMFS considers all HMS Atlantic Tunas Longline permit holders (280 as 
of October 2017) to be small entities because these vessels have 
reported annual gross receipts of less than $11 million for commercial 
fishing. The average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline 
vessel was estimated to be $187,000, based on the 170 active vessels 
between 2006 and 2012 that produced an estimated $31.8 million in 
revenue annually. The maximum annual revenue for any pelagic longline 
vessel between 2006 and 2015 was $1.9 million, well below the NMFS 
small business size threshold of $11 million in gross receipts for 
commercial fishing. NMFS is unaware of any other Atlantic Tunas 
category permit holders that potentially could earn more than $11 
million in revenue annually. HMS Angling category permits, which are 
recreational fishing permits, are typically obtained by individuals who 
are not considered small entities for purposes of the RFA. Therefore, 
NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas permit holders and HMS Charter/
Headboat permit holders subject to this action to be small entities.
    This action would apply to all participants in the Atlantic tunas 
fisheries, i.e., to the over 27,000 vessels that held an Atlantic HMS 
Charter/Headboat, Atlantic HMS Angling, or an Atlantic Tunas permit as 
of October 2017. This proposed rule is expected to directly affect 
commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that possess an Atlantic Tunas 
permit or Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit. It is unknown what 
portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively participate in 
the BFT and NALB fisheries or fishing services for recreational 
anglers. As summarized in the 2017 SAFE Report for Atlantic HMS, there 
were 6,855 commercial Atlantic tunas or Atlantic HMS permits in 2017, 
as follows: 2,940 in the Atlantic Tunas General category; 11 in the 
Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category; 5 in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine 
category; 280 in the Atlantic Tunas Longline category; 1 in the 
Atlantic Tunas Trap category; and 3,618 in the HMS Charter/Headboat 
category. In the process of developing the IBQ regulations implemented 
in the final rule for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
(Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), NMFS deemed 136 Longline 
category vessels as eligible for IBQ shares (i.e., 136 vessels reported 
a set in the HMS logbook between 2006 and 2012 and had valid Atlantic 
Tunas Longline category permits on a vessel as of August 21, 2013, the 
publication date of the Amendment 7 proposed rule). This constitutes 
the best available information regarding the universe of permits and 
permit holders recently analyzed. It is unknown what portion of fishery 
participants would benefit from the minor change in the regulations to 
allow retention, possession, and landing of shark-damaged bigeye and 
yellowfin tuna, for which a measurement to the fork of the tail may not 
be possible, provided that the remainder of the fish meets the current 
minimum sizes (e.g., 27 inches for yellowfin, and bigeye tunas). NMFS 
has determined that this action would not likely directly affect any 
small government jurisdictions defined under the RFA.
    Under section 603(b)(4) of the RFA, agencies are required to 
describe any new reporting, record-keeping, and other compliance 
requirements. The action does not contain any new collection of 
information, reporting, or record-keeping requirements.
    Under section 603(b)(5) of the RFA, agencies must identify, to the 
extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, dealers, and managers in 
these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements, 
domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, 
the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the 
National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the 
Coastal Zone Management Act. This proposed rule has also been 
determined not to duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any relevant 
regulations, Federal or otherwise.
    Under section 603(c) of the RFA, agencies are required to describe 
any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the 
stated objectives of the applicable statutes and which minimize any 
significant economic impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. 
These alternatives and their impacts are discussed below. Additionally, 
the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of 
significant alternatives that would assist an agency in the development 
of significant alternatives. These categories of alternatives are: (1) 
Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small 
entities; (3) use of performance rather than design standards; and, (4) 
exemptions from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    Regarding the first, second, and fourth categories, NMFS cannot 
establish differing compliance or reporting requirements for small 
entities or exempt small entities from coverage of the rule or parts of 
it, because all of the businesses impacted by this rule are considered 
small entities, and thus the requirements are already designed for 
small entities. Thus, no alternatives are discussed that fall under the 
first and fourth categories described above. Amendment 7 in 2014 
implemented criteria for determining the availability of BFT quota for 
Purse Seine fishery category participants and IBQs for the Longline 
category. Both of these and the eligibility criteria for IBQs and 
access to the Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area

[[Page 31523]]

for the Longline category can be considered individual performance 
standards. NMFS has not yet found a practical means of applying 
individual performance standards to the other quota categories while 
concurrently complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Thus, there are 
no alternatives considered under the third category.
    NMFS has estimated the average impact that establishing the 
increased annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for all domestic fishing 
categories would have on individual categories and the vessels within 
those categories. As mentioned above, the 2017 BFT ICCAT recommendation 
increased the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota for each of 2018, 2019, 
and 2020 to 1,247.86 mt and provides 25 mt annually for incidental 
catch of BFT related to directed longline fisheries in the NED. The 
annual U.S. baseline BFT subquotas would be adjusted consistent with 
the process (i.e., the formulas) established in Amendment 7 (79 FR 
71510, December 2, 2014) and as codified in the quota regulations, and 
these amounts (in mt) would be codified.
    This rulemaking proposes to implement the recently adopted ICCAT-
recommended U.S. BFT and NALB quotas and, for BFT, to apply the 
allocations for each quota category per the codified quota regulations. 
This action would be consistent with ATCA, under which the Secretary 
promulgates regulations as necessary and appropriate to implement 
binding ICCAT recommendations.
    To calculate the average ex-vessel BFT revenues under this action, 
NMFS first estimated potential category-wide revenues. The most recent 
ex-vessel average price per pound information for each commercial quota 
category is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross revenues under 
the proposed subquotas (i.e., 2017 prices for the General, Harpoon, and 
Longline/Trap categories, and 2015 prices for the Purse Seine 
category). For comparison, in 2017, gross revenues were approximately 
$9.2 million, broken out by category as follows: General--$7.8 million, 
Harpoon--$496,968, Purse Seine--$0, Longline--$878,824, and Trap--$0. 
The proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross 
revenues of $10 million annually, if finalized and fully utilized, 
broken out by category as follows: General category: $6.5 million 
(555.7 mt * $5.30/lb); Harpoon category: $526,326 (46 mt * $5.19/lb); 
Purse Seine category: $1.5 million (219.5 mt * $3.21/lb); Longline 
category: $1.4 million (163.6 mt * $3.99/lb); and Trap category: 
$10,556 (1.2 mt * $3.99/lb).
    No affected entities would be expected to experience negative, 
direct economic impacts as a result of this action. On the contrary, 
each of the BFT quota categories would increase relative to the 
baseline quotas that applied in 2015 through 2017. To the extent that 
Purse Seine fishery participants and IBQ participants could receive 
additional quota as a result of the Amendment 7-implemented allocation 
formulas being applied to increases in available Purse Seine and 
Longline category quota, those participants would receive varying 
amounts of an increase, which would result in direct benefits from 
either increased fishing opportunities or quota leasing.
    To estimate potential average ex-vessel revenues that could result 
from this action for BFT, NMFS divides the potential annual gross 
revenues for the General, Harpoon, Purse Seine, and Trap category by 
the number of permit holders. For the Longline category, NMFS divides 
the potential annual gross revenues by the number of IBQ share 
recipients. This is an appropriate approach for BFT fisheries, in 
particular, because available landings data (weight and ex-vessel value 
of the fish in price-per-pound) allow NMFS to calculate the gross 
revenue earned by a fishery participant on a successful trip. The 
available data (particularly from non-Longline participants) do not, 
however, allow NMFS to calculate the effort and cost associated with 
each successful trip (e.g., the cost of gas, bait, ice, etc.), so net 
revenue for each participant cannot be calculated. As a result, NMFS 
analyzes the average impact of the proposed alternatives among all 
participants in each category.
    Success rates vary widely across participants in each category (due 
to extent of vessel effort and availability of commercial-sized BFT to 
participants where they fish), but for the sake of estimating potential 
revenues per vessel, category-wide revenues can be divided by the 
number of permitted vessels in each category. For the Longline fishery, 
actual revenues would depend, in part, on each vessel's IBQ in 2018. It 
is unknown what portion of HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders actively 
participate in the BFT fishery. HMS Charter/Headboat vessels may fish 
commercially under the General category quota and retention limits. 
Therefore, NMFS is estimating potential General category ex-vessel 
revenue changes using the number of General category vessels only.
    Estimated potential 2018 revenues on a per vessel basis, 
considering the number of permit holders listed above and the proposed 
subquotas, could be $2,409 for the General category; $47,848 for the 
Harpoon category; $310,670 for the Purse Seine category; $10,582 for 
the Longline category, using the 136 IBQ share recipients; and $10,556 
for the Trap category. Thus, all of the entities affected by this rule 
are considered to be small entities for the purposes of the RFA.
    Consistent with the codified BFT quota regulations at Sec.  
635.27(a)(v), NMFS will continue to annually calculate the quota 
available to historical Purse Seine fishery participants and reallocate 
the remaining Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category. NMFS 
will further adjust those amounts if the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota 
in this proposed rule is finalized. The analyses in this IRFA are 
limited to the proposed baseline subquotas.
    Because the directed commercial categories have underharvested 
their subquotas in recent years, the potential increases in ex-vessel 
revenues above may overestimate the probable economic impacts to those 
categories relative to recent conditions. Additionally, there has been 
substantial interannual variability in ex-vessel revenues in each 
category in recent years, due to recent changes in BFT availability and 
other factors.
    The 2017 NALB ICCAT recommendation increased the annual U.S. 
baseline NALB quota for each of 2018, 2019, and 2020 to 632.4 mt. Based 
on knowledge of current participants in the fishery and estimated gross 
revenues, NMFS considers all of the entities affected by the NALB quota 
action be small entities for the purposes of the RFA.
    NMFS does not subdivide the U.S. NALB quota into category 
subquotas. The most recent ex-vessel average price per pound 
information is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross revenues. The 
proposed baseline subquotas could result in estimated gross revenues of 
$1.8 million annually, if finalized and fully utilized ((632.4 mt/1.25) 
* $1.63/lb dw). No affected entities would be expected to experience 
negative, direct economic impacts as a result of this action.
    The proposed change to the regulatory text concerning Atlantic 
bigeye and yellowfin tuna size limits applies to all fishery 
participants but is not expected to have significant economic impacts. 
This is because shark damage to caught bigeye and yellowfin tuna is 
rare, and the proposed change to the regulatory text is not expected to 
result in changes to Atlantic tunas fishery operations.

[[Page 31524]]

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, 
Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: June 29, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR part 635 to read as follows:

PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

0
1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. Amend Sec.  635.20, by revising paragraph (c)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  635.20  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) No person aboard a vessel shall remove the head of a bigeye 
tuna or yellowfin tuna if the remaining portion would be less than 27 
inches (69 cm) from the fork of the tail to the forward edge of the 
cut. A bigeye or yellowfin tuna that is damaged by shark bites may be 
retained, possessed, or landed only if the length of the remainder of 
the fish is equal to or greater than 27 inches (69 cm). No person shall 
cut or otherwise alter the shark-damaged area in any manner.
* * * * *
0
3. Amend Sec.  635.27, by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, 
(a)(1)(i), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4)(i), (a)(5), (a)(6), (a)(7)(i), 
(a)(7)(ii), (a)(10)(iii), and (e)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  635.27  Quotas.

    (a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most 
recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the 
annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be 
retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. 
jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota 
will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, 
Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. 
Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual 
U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,247.86 mt, not including an additional 
annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. 
The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the 
following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual 
U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. 
Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according 
to the following percentages: General--47.1 percent (555.7 mt); 
Angling--19.7 percent (232.4 mt), which includes the school bluefin 
tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this 
section; Harpoon--3.9 percent (46 mt); Purse Seine--18.6 percent (219.5 
mt); Longline--8.1 percent (95.6) plus the 68-mt allocation (i.e., 
163.6 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph 
(a)(3)); Trap--0.1 percent (1.2 mt); and Reserve--2.5 percent (29.5 
mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as 
specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including 
quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of Purse Seine 
quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section.
    (1) * * *
    (i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas 
permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an 
HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the 
General category quota in accordance with Sec.  635.23(c)(3). Pursuant 
to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant 
bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold 
under the General category quota is 555.7 mt, and is apportioned as 
follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of 
this section:
    (A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed 
by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected 
to be reached under Sec.  635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever 
comes first--5.3 percent (29.5 mt);
    (B) June 1 through August 31--50 percent (277.9 mt);
    (C) September 1 through September 30--26.5 percent (147.3 mt);
    (D) October 1 through November 30--13 percent (72.2 mt); and
    (E) December 1 through December 31--5.2 percent (28.9 mt).
* * * * *
    (2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework 
procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or 
as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily 
retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the 
total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, 
and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or 
an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 232.4 mt. No more 
than 2.3 percent (5.3 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be 
large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, no more than 10 
percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the 
allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school 
bluefin tuna (i.e., 127.3 mt). The Angling category quota includes the 
amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph 
(a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna 
are further subdivided as follows:
    (i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in 
reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent 
(54.8 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be 
caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39[deg]18' N. lat. The 
remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (49 mt) may be 
caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39[deg]18' N. lat.
    (ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (52.7 mt) of the large school/
small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, 
retained, possessed, or landed south of 39[deg]18' N. lat. The 
remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota 
(47.1 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 
39[deg]18' N. lat.
    (iii) One third (1.8 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna 
Angling category quota may be caught retained, possessed, or landed, in 
each of the three following geographic areas: North of 39[deg]18' N. 
lat.; south of 39[deg]18' N. lat., and outside of the Gulf of Mexico; 
and in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf 
of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of 
the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).
    (3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this 
section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that 
may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by 
vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 163.6 
mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by 
pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear 
restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under Sec.  
635.15(b)(8).
    (4) * * *
    (i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this 
section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna 
that may be

[[Page 31525]]

caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic 
Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 219.5 mt, unless adjusted as a 
result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as specified in 
paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted (prior to 
allocation to individual participants) based on the previous year's 
catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Annually, 
NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery will start, 
based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration 
patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings in other 
commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the 
fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS will start 
the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 and August 15, by 
filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, and notifying 
the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on December 31 of 
each year.
* * * * *
    (5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and 
giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or 
sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category Atlantic Tunas permits is 
46 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, 
and closes on November 15 of each year.
    (6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant 
bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by 
vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.2 mt.
    (7) * * *
    (i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for 
inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 
29.5 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the 
previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as 
described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with 
paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any 
portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual 
adjustments to any fishing category quota.
    (ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in 
reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fishery-independent 
research is 18.5 percent (23.5 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna 
Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this 
section. This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in 
paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) 
of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin 
tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual 
adjustments to the Angling category.
* * * * *
    (10) * * *
    (iii) Regardless of the estimated landings in any year, NMFS may 
adjust the annual school bluefin tuna quota to ensure compliance with 
the ICCAT-recommended procedures for addressing overharvest of school 
bluefin tuna.
* * * * *
    (e) Northern albacore tuna--(1) Annual quota. Consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations and domestic management objectives, the total baseline 
annual fishery quota is 632.4 mt ww. The total quota, after any 
adjustments made per paragraph (e)(2) of this section, is the fishing 
year's total amount of northern albacore tuna that may be landed by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2018-14452 Filed 7-5-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P