Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit Adjustment, 55638-55640 [2018-24274]

Download as PDF 55638 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 216 / Wednesday, November 7, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Fraser River Panel Order Number 2018– 10: Issued 1:05 p.m., August 21, 2018 Treaty Indian Fisheries Areas 4B, 5, and 6C: Extend for drift gillnets from 12 p.m. (noon), Wednesday, August 22, 2018, to 1 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2018. Areas 6, 7, and 7A: Open to net fishing from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2018. Fraser River Panel Order Number 2018– 11: Issued 3:10 p.m., August 23, 2018 Treaty Indian Fisheries Areas 4B, 5, and 6C: Extend for drift gillnets from 1 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. (midnight), Friday August 24, 2018. Areas 6, 7, and 7A: Extend for purse seines from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2018. Extend for gillnets from 1 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. (midnight), Friday, August 24, 2018. Fraser River Panel Order Number 2018– 12: Issued 12:10 p.m., September 11, 2018 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with RULES Treaty Indian and All Citizen Fisheries Areas 4B, 5, 6, 6C, 7, and 7A, excluding the Apex: Relinquish regulatory control effective 11:59 p.m. (midnight), Saturday, September 15, 2018. The Apex is those waters north and west of the Area 7A ‘‘East Point Line,’’ defined as a line projected from the low water range marker in Boundary Bay on the International Boundary through the east tip of Point Roberts in the state of Washington to the East Point light on Saturna Island in the Province of British Columbia. Classification The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries NOAA (AA), finds that good cause exists for the inseason orders to be issued without affording the public prior notice and opportunity for comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such prior notice and opportunity for comments is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment is impracticable because NMFS has insufficient time to allow for prior notice and opportunity for public comment between the time the stock abundance information is available to determine how much fishing can be allowed and the time the fishery must open and close in order to harvest the appropriate amount of fish while they are available. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date, required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), of the inseason orders. A delay in the effective date of the inseason orders VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:15 Nov 06, 2018 Jkt 247001 would not allow fishers appropriately controlled access to the available fish at that time they are available. This action is authorized by 50 CFR 300.97, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 3636(b). Dated: November 2, 2018. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–24371 Filed 11–6–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150413357–5999–02] RIN 0648–XG582 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit Adjustment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS is adjusting the commercial aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management group retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This action is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. The retention limit will remain at 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region through the rest of the 2018 fishing season or until NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure. This retention limit adjustment affects anyone with a directed shark limited access permit fishing for LCS in the Atlantic region. DATES: This retention limit adjustment is effective on November 6, 2018 through December 31, 2018, or until NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure, if warranted. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Latchford, Chante´ Davis, or Karyl Brewster-Geisz 301–427–8503; fax 301–713–1917. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), its amendments, and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 635) issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). Atlantic shark fisheries have separate regional (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic) quotas for all management groups except those for blue shark, porbeagle shark, pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle or blue sharks), and the shark research fishery for LCS and sandbar sharks. The boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined at § 635.27(b)(1) as a line beginning on the East Coast of Florida at the mainland at 25°20.4′ N lat., proceeding due east. Any water and land to the north and east of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of setting and monitoring quotas, to be within the Atlantic region. This inseason action only affects the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region. Under § 635.24(a)(8), NMFS may adjust the commercial retention limits in the shark fisheries during the fishing season. Before making any adjustment, NMFS must consider specified regulatory criteria (see § 635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi)). After considering these criteria as discussed below, NMFS has concluded that increasing the retention limit of the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region will allow use of available aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management group quotas and will provide fishermen throughout the region equitable fishing opportunities for the rest of the year. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the commercial Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit in the Atlantic region from 36 to 45 LCS other than sandbar shark per vessel per trip. NMFS considered the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria listed at § 635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi), which includes: • The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area, region, or sub-region to date, based on dealer reports. Based on dealer reports through October 15, 2018, 65.2 metric tons (mt) E:\FR\FM\07NOR1.SGM 07NOR1 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 216 / Wednesday, November 7, 2018 / Rules and Regulations dressed weight (dw) (143,809 lb dw), or 39 percent, of the 168.9 mt dw shark quota for aggregated LCS and 8.3 mt dw (18,328 lb dw), or 31 percent, of the 27.1 mt dw shark quota for the hammerhead management groups have been harvested in the Atlantic region. This means that approximately 61 percent of the aggregated LCS quota remains available and approximately 69 percent of the hammerhead shark quota remains available. NMFS took action in May of 2018 to reduce retention rates after considering the relevant inseason adjustment criteria, particularly the need for all regions to have an equitable opportunity to utilize the quota (83 FR 21744; May 10, 2018). • The catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes in the region or subregion, to date, based on dealer reports. Based on the current commercial retention limit and average catch rate of landings data from dealer reports, the amount of Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quota available is high, while harvest in the Atlantic region on a daily basis is low. Using current catch rates, projections indicate that landings would not reach 80 percent of the quota before the end of the 2018 fishing season (December 31, 2018). A higher retention limit authorized under this action will promote increased fishing opportunities and utilization of available quota in the Atlantic region. • Estimated date of fishery closure based on when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or subregional quota, if the fishery’s landings are not projected to reach 100 percent of the applicable quota before the end of the season. Once the landings reach 80 percent of either the aggregated LCS or hammerhead shark quotas, NMFS would, as required by the regulations at § 635.28(b)(3), close the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups since they are ‘‘linked quotas.’’ However, current catch rates would likely result in the fisheries remaining open for the remainder of the year. The higher retention limit should increase the likelihood of full utilization of the quota in the Atlantic region. • Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Increasing the retention limit on the aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups in the Atlantic region from 36 to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would continue to allow for fishing opportunities throughout the rest of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:15 Nov 06, 2018 Jkt 247001 year while not compromising the rebuilding objectives established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. • Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based knowledge. The directed shark fisheries in the Atlantic region are composed of a mix of species, with a high abundance of aggregated LCS caught in conjunction with hammerhead sharks. Migratory patterns of many LCS in the Atlantic region indicate that sharks move farther north in the summer and then return south in the fall. Taking these migration patterns into account, NMFS increased the retention limit on July 18, 2018 from 3 to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip (83 FR 33870) to provide additional fishing opportunities for fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas. However, based on dealer reports through October 15, 2018, harvest in the Atlantic region on a daily basis has been low. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the retention limit from 36 to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in order to fully utilize the quota in the entire Atlantic region. • Effects of catch rates in one part of a region or sub-region precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota. NMFS’ goal for the 2018 commercial shark fishery is to ensure fishing opportunities throughout the fishing season and the Atlantic region (82 FR 55512; November 22, 2017, 83 FR 21744; May 10, 2018, and 83 FR 33870; July 18, 2018). While dealer reports indicate that, under current catch rates, the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region would remain open for the remainder of the year, the catch rates also indicate that the quotas would likely not be fully harvested under the current retention limit. If the harvest of these species is increased through an increased retention limit, NMFS estimates that the fishery would remain open for the remainder of the year and fishermen throughout the Atlantic region would have a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the quota. On November 22, 2017 (82 FR 55512), NMFS announced in a final rule that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark fisheries management groups for the Atlantic region would open on January 1 with a quota of 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), respectively, and a commercial retention limit of 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip for directed PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 55639 shark limited access permit holders in those fisheries. NMFS published a proposed rule on August 22, 2017 (82 FR 39735) and invited and considered public comment. In the final rule, NMFS explained that if it appeared that the quota is being harvested too quickly, thus precluding fishing opportunities throughout the entire region (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS would consider reducing the commercial retention limit to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks and then later consider increasing the retention limit, perhaps to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2018, consistent with the applicable regulatory requirements. In May 2018, dealer reports indicated that landings had reached 19 percent of the quota, and NMFS therefore reduced the commercial Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit from 25 to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on May 12, 2018 (83 FR 21744; May 10, 2018) after considering the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria listed in § 635.24(a)(8). Based on dealer reports through June 18, 2018, approximately 75 percent and 82 percent of the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas remain unharvested, respectively. On July 18, 2018, NMFS increased the retention limit from 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks (83 FR 33870). Based on dealer reports through October 15, 2018, approximately 61 percent and 69 percent of the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas remain unharvested, respectively. Commercial shark landings in the Atlantic region at this point in the season are uncharacteristically low. Fishermen in the Atlantic region may not have an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas for the remainder of the year if the retention limits are not increased, and available quota will be underutilized. Accordingly, as of November 6, 2018, NMFS is increasing the retention limit for the commercial aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region for directed shark limited access permit holders from 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This retention limit adjustment does not apply to directed shark limited access permit holders if the vessel is properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip, in which case the recreational retention limits for sharks E:\FR\FM\07NOR1.SGM 07NOR1 55640 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 216 / Wednesday, November 7, 2018 / Rules and Regulations amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with RULES and ‘‘no sale’’ provisions apply (§ 635.22(a) and (c)); or if the vessel possesses a valid shark research permit under § 635.32 and a NMFS-approved observer is onboard, in which case the restrictions noted on the shark research permit apply. All other retention limits and shark fisheries in the Atlantic region remain unchanged. This retention limit will remain at 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the rest of the 2018 fishing season, or until NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery closure, if warranted. Classification The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: Prior notice is impracticable because the regulatory criteria for inseason retention limit adjustments are intended to allow the agency to respond quickly to existing management considerations, including remaining available shark quotas, estimated dates for the fishery closures, the regional variations in the shark fisheries, and equitable fishing opportunities. Additionally, regulations implementing Amendment 6 of the 2006 Atlantic Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50074, August 18, 2015) intended that the LCS retention limit could be adjusted quickly throughout the fishing season to provide management flexibility for the shark fisheries and provide equitable fishing opportunities to fishermen throughout a region. Based on available shark quotas and informed by shark landings in previous seasons, responsive adjustment to the LCS commercial retention limit from the incidental level is warranted as quickly as possible to allow fishermen to take advantage of available quotas while sharks are present in their region. For such adjustment to be practicable, it must occur in a timeframe that allows fishermen to take advantage of it. Adjustment of the LCS fisheries retention limit in the Atlantic region will begin on November 6, 2018. Prior notice would result in delays in increasing the retention limit and would adversely affect those shark fishermen that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the current retention limit of 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip and could result in low catch rates and underutilized quotas. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:15 Nov 06, 2018 Jkt 247001 upward to 45 would result in minimal risks of exceeding the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas in the Atlantic region based on our consideration of previous years’ data, in which the fisheries have opened in July. With quota available and with no measurable impacts to the stocks expected, it would be contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait to harvest the sharks otherwise allowable through this action. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. Adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit in the Atlantic region is effective November 6, 2018, to minimize any unnecessary disruption in fishing patterns and to allow fishermen to benefit from the adjustment. Foregoing opportunities to harvest the respective quotas could have negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available quotas. Therefore, the AA finds there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under § 635.24(a)(2) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 1, 2018. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–24274 Filed 11–6–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 900124–0127] RIN 0648–XG418 Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fisheries; 2019 Fishing Quotas for Atlantic Surfclams and Ocean Quahogs; and Suspension of Minimum Atlantic Surfclam Size Limit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule. AGENCY: NMFS suspends the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams for the 2019 fishing year. NMFS also announces that the quotas for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries for 2019 will remain SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 status quo. Regulations governing these fisheries require NMFS to notify the public of the allowable harvest levels for Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs from the Exclusive Economic Zone if the previous year’s quota specifications remain unchanged. DATES: Effective January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9341. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The regulations implementing the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan (FMP) at 50 CFR 648.75(b)(3) authorize the Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), to suspend annually, by publication in the Federal Register, the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams. This action may be taken unless discard, catch, and biological sampling data indicate that 30 percent or more of the Atlantic surfclam resource have a shell length less than 4.75 inches (120 mm), and the overall reduced size is not attributable to harvest from beds where growth of the individual clams has been reduced because of density-dependent factors. At its June 2018 meeting, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council recommended the Regional Administrator suspend the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams for the 2019 fishing year. Commercial surfclam data for 2018 were analyzed to determine the percentage of surfclams that were smaller than the minimum size requirement. The analysis indicated that 20.2 percent of the overall commercial landings were composed of surfclams that were less than the 4.75in (120-mm) default minimum size. Based on the information available, the Regional Administrator concurs with the Council’s recommendation, and is suspending the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams in the upcoming fishing year (January 1 through December 31, 2019). The Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog FMP requires that NMFS issue a notice in the Federal Register of the upcoming year’s quota, even in cases where the quota remains unchanged from the previous year. At its June 2018 meeting, the Council recommended no change to the quota specifications for Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs for the 2019 fishing year. As a result, we are announcing that the 2018 quota levels of 3.4 million bu (181 million L) for Atlantic surfclams, 5.33 million bu (288 million L) for ocean quahogs, and 100,000 Maine bu (3.52 million L) for Maine ocean quahogs, as announced in E:\FR\FM\07NOR1.SGM 07NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 216 (Wednesday, November 7, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 55638-55640]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-24274]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150413357-5999-02]
RIN 0648-XG582


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

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason retention limit adjustment.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the commercial aggregated large coastal 
shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management group retention limit for 
directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region 
from 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 45 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This action is based on 
consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding 
inseason adjustments. The retention limit will remain at 45 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region through 
the rest of the 2018 fishing season or until NMFS announces via a 
notice in the Federal Register another adjustment to the retention 
limit or a fishery closure. This retention limit adjustment affects 
anyone with a directed shark limited access permit fishing for LCS in 
the Atlantic region.

DATES: This retention limit adjustment is effective on November 6, 2018 
through December 31, 2018, or until NMFS announces via a notice in the 
Federal Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery 
closure, if warranted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Latchford, Chant[eacute] Davis, 
or Karyl Brewster-Geisz 301-427-8503; fax 301-713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under 
the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP), its amendments, and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
635) issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    Atlantic shark fisheries have separate regional (Gulf of Mexico and 
Atlantic) quotas for all management groups except those for blue shark, 
porbeagle shark, pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle or blue sharks), 
and the shark research fishery for LCS and sandbar sharks. The boundary 
between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined at 
Sec.  635.27(b)(1) as a line beginning on the East Coast of Florida at 
the mainland at 25[deg]20.4' N lat., proceeding due east. Any water and 
land to the north and east of that boundary is considered, for the 
purposes of setting and monitoring quotas, to be within the Atlantic 
region. This inseason action only affects the aggregated LCS and 
hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region.
    Under Sec.  635.24(a)(8), NMFS may adjust the commercial retention 
limits in the shark fisheries during the fishing season. Before making 
any adjustment, NMFS must consider specified regulatory criteria (see 
Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi)). After considering these criteria 
as discussed below, NMFS has concluded that increasing the retention 
limit of the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups 
for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region 
will allow use of available aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
management group quotas and will provide fishermen throughout the 
region equitable fishing opportunities for the rest of the year. 
Therefore, NMFS is increasing the commercial Atlantic aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead shark retention limit in the Atlantic region from 36 to 
45 LCS other than sandbar shark per vessel per trip.
    NMFS considered the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria 
listed at Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i) through (vi), which includes:
     The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area, 
region, or sub-region to date, based on dealer reports.
    Based on dealer reports through October 15, 2018, 65.2 metric tons 
(mt)

[[Page 55639]]

dressed weight (dw) (143,809 lb dw), or 39 percent, of the 168.9 mt dw 
shark quota for aggregated LCS and 8.3 mt dw (18,328 lb dw), or 31 
percent, of the 27.1 mt dw shark quota for the hammerhead management 
groups have been harvested in the Atlantic region. This means that 
approximately 61 percent of the aggregated LCS quota remains available 
and approximately 69 percent of the hammerhead shark quota remains 
available. NMFS took action in May of 2018 to reduce retention rates 
after considering the relevant inseason adjustment criteria, 
particularly the need for all regions to have an equitable opportunity 
to utilize the quota (83 FR 21744; May 10, 2018).
     The catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes in 
the region or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports.
    Based on the current commercial retention limit and average catch 
rate of landings data from dealer reports, the amount of Atlantic 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quota available is high, while 
harvest in the Atlantic region on a daily basis is low. Using current 
catch rates, projections indicate that landings would not reach 80 
percent of the quota before the end of the 2018 fishing season 
(December 31, 2018). A higher retention limit authorized under this 
action will promote increased fishing opportunities and utilization of 
available quota in the Atlantic region.
     Estimated date of fishery closure based on when the 
landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the available overall, 
regional, and/or sub-regional quota, if the fishery's landings are not 
projected to reach 100 percent of the applicable quota before the end 
of the season.
    Once the landings reach 80 percent of either the aggregated LCS or 
hammerhead shark quotas, NMFS would, as required by the regulations at 
Sec.  635.28(b)(3), close the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
management groups since they are ``linked quotas.'' However, current 
catch rates would likely result in the fisheries remaining open for the 
remainder of the year. The higher retention limit should increase the 
likelihood of full utilization of the quota in the Atlantic region.
     Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives 
of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments.
    Increasing the retention limit on the aggregated LCS and hammerhead 
management groups in the Atlantic region from 36 to 45 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip would continue to allow for fishing 
opportunities throughout the rest of the year while not compromising 
the rebuilding objectives established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.
     Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or 
migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific 
and fishery-based knowledge.
    The directed shark fisheries in the Atlantic region are composed of 
a mix of species, with a high abundance of aggregated LCS caught in 
conjunction with hammerhead sharks. Migratory patterns of many LCS in 
the Atlantic region indicate that sharks move farther north in the 
summer and then return south in the fall. Taking these migration 
patterns into account, NMFS increased the retention limit on July 18, 
2018 from 3 to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip (83 
FR 33870) to provide additional fishing opportunities for fishermen in 
the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas. However, based on dealer 
reports through October 15, 2018, harvest in the Atlantic region on a 
daily basis has been low. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the retention 
limit from 36 to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip 
in order to fully utilize the quota in the entire Atlantic region.
     Effects of catch rates in one part of a region or sub-
region precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region 
from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the 
relevant quota.
    NMFS' goal for the 2018 commercial shark fishery is to ensure 
fishing opportunities throughout the fishing season and the Atlantic 
region (82 FR 55512; November 22, 2017, 83 FR 21744; May 10, 2018, and 
83 FR 33870; July 18, 2018). While dealer reports indicate that, under 
current catch rates, the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management 
groups in the Atlantic region would remain open for the remainder of 
the year, the catch rates also indicate that the quotas would likely 
not be fully harvested under the current retention limit. If the 
harvest of these species is increased through an increased retention 
limit, NMFS estimates that the fishery would remain open for the 
remainder of the year and fishermen throughout the Atlantic region 
would have a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the quota.
    On November 22, 2017 (82 FR 55512), NMFS announced in a final rule 
that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark fisheries management 
groups for the Atlantic region would open on January 1 with a quota of 
168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), 
respectively, and a commercial retention limit of 25 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per trip for directed shark limited access permit 
holders in those fisheries. NMFS published a proposed rule on August 
22, 2017 (82 FR 39735) and invited and considered public comment. In 
the final rule, NMFS explained that if it appeared that the quota is 
being harvested too quickly, thus precluding fishing opportunities 
throughout the entire region (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of the 
quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS would consider 
reducing the commercial retention limit to 3 or fewer LCS other than 
sandbar sharks and then later consider increasing the retention limit, 
perhaps to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around 
July 15, 2018, consistent with the applicable regulatory requirements. 
In May 2018, dealer reports indicated that landings had reached 19 
percent of the quota, and NMFS therefore reduced the commercial 
Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark retention limit from 25 to 
3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on May 12, 2018 (83 
FR 21744; May 10, 2018) after considering the inseason retention limit 
adjustment criteria listed in Sec.  635.24(a)(8). Based on dealer 
reports through June 18, 2018, approximately 75 percent and 82 percent 
of the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas remain unharvested, 
respectively. On July 18, 2018, NMFS increased the retention limit from 
3 LCS other than sandbar sharks to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks (83 
FR 33870). Based on dealer reports through October 15, 2018, 
approximately 61 percent and 69 percent of the aggregated LCS and 
hammerhead shark quotas remain unharvested, respectively. Commercial 
shark landings in the Atlantic region at this point in the season are 
uncharacteristically low. Fishermen in the Atlantic region may not have 
an opportunity to fully utilize the quotas for the remainder of the 
year if the retention limits are not increased, and available quota 
will be underutilized.
    Accordingly, as of November 6, 2018, NMFS is increasing the 
retention limit for the commercial aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
management groups in the Atlantic region for directed shark limited 
access permit holders from 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel 
per trip to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This 
retention limit adjustment does not apply to directed shark limited 
access permit holders if the vessel is properly permitted to operate as 
a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip, 
in which case the recreational retention limits for sharks

[[Page 55640]]

and ``no sale'' provisions apply (Sec.  635.22(a) and (c)); or if the 
vessel possesses a valid shark research permit under Sec.  635.32 and a 
NMFS-approved observer is onboard, in which case the restrictions noted 
on the shark research permit apply.
    All other retention limits and shark fisheries in the Atlantic 
region remain unchanged. This retention limit will remain at 45 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the rest of the 2018 
fishing season, or until NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal 
Register another adjustment to the retention limit or a fishery 
closure, if warranted.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    Prior notice is impracticable because the regulatory criteria for 
inseason retention limit adjustments are intended to allow the agency 
to respond quickly to existing management considerations, including 
remaining available shark quotas, estimated dates for the fishery 
closures, the regional variations in the shark fisheries, and equitable 
fishing opportunities. Additionally, regulations implementing Amendment 
6 of the 2006 Atlantic Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50074, August 18, 
2015) intended that the LCS retention limit could be adjusted quickly 
throughout the fishing season to provide management flexibility for the 
shark fisheries and provide equitable fishing opportunities to 
fishermen throughout a region. Based on available shark quotas and 
informed by shark landings in previous seasons, responsive adjustment 
to the LCS commercial retention limit from the incidental level is 
warranted as quickly as possible to allow fishermen to take advantage 
of available quotas while sharks are present in their region. For such 
adjustment to be practicable, it must occur in a timeframe that allows 
fishermen to take advantage of it.
    Adjustment of the LCS fisheries retention limit in the Atlantic 
region will begin on November 6, 2018. Prior notice would result in 
delays in increasing the retention limit and would adversely affect 
those shark fishermen that would otherwise have an opportunity to 
harvest more than the current retention limit of 36 LCS other than 
sandbar sharks per vessel per trip and could result in low catch rates 
and underutilized quotas. Analysis of available data shows that 
adjustment of the LCS commercial retention limit upward to 45 would 
result in minimal risks of exceeding the aggregated LCS and hammerhead 
shark quotas in the Atlantic region based on our consideration of 
previous years' data, in which the fisheries have opened in July. With 
quota available and with no measurable impacts to the stocks expected, 
it would be contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait 
to harvest the sharks otherwise allowable through this action. 
Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive 
prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. Adjustment of the 
LCS commercial retention limit in the Atlantic region is effective 
November 6, 2018, to minimize any unnecessary disruption in fishing 
patterns and to allow fishermen to benefit from the adjustment. 
Foregoing opportunities to harvest the respective quotas could have 
negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend 
upon catching the available quotas. Therefore, the AA finds there is 
also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.24(a)(2) and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: November 1, 2018.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-24274 Filed 11-6-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P