Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fisheries; 2019 Fishing Quotas for Atlantic Surfclams and Ocean Quahogs; and Suspension of Minimum Atlantic Surfclam Size Limit, 55640-55641 [2018-24368]

Download as PDF 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 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 216 / Wednesday, November 7, 2018 / Rules and Regulations the Federal Register on February 6, 2018 (83 FR 5212), remain effective for the 2019 fishing year. Classification This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. [FR Doc. 2018–24368 Filed 11–6–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 RIN 0648–XG025 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2018 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Announcement of a valid specified fishing agreement. AGENCY: NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2018 bigeye tuna limit for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels. The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and fisheries development in the CNMI. DATES: The specified fishing agreement is valid on November 6, 2018. ADDRESSES: NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. The analyses, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0026, are available from https://www.regulations.gov/ docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0026, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. The Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) is available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with RULES 16:15 Nov 06, 2018 Jkt 247001 In a final rule published on October 23, 2018, NMFS specified a 2018 limit of 2,000 t of longline-caught bigeye tuna for the U.S. Pacific Island territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI (83 FR 53399). NMFS allows each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t of the 2,000 t limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement. On October 22, 2018, NMFS received from the Council a specified fishing agreement between the CNMI and Quota Management, Inc. (QMI). The Council’s Executive Director advised that the specified fishing agreement was consistent with the criteria set forth in 50 CFR 665.819(c)(1). NMFS reviewed the agreement and determined that it is consistent with the Pelagic FEP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, implementing regulations, and other applicable laws. In accordance with 50 CFR 300.224(d) and 50 CFR 665.819(c)(9), vessels identified in the agreement may retain and land bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean under the CNMI limit. NMFS will begin attributing bigeye tuna caught by vessels identified in the agreement to the CNMI starting on October 25, 2018. If NMFS determines that the fishery will reach the attribution limit of 1,000 t, we will restrict the retention of bigeye tuna caught by vessels identified in the agreement, unless the vessels are included in a subsequent specified fishing agreement with another U.S. territory. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: November 2, 2018. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. VerDate Sep<11>2014 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Walker, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5184. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. SUMMARY: 808–522–8220, fax 808–522–8226, or http://www.wpcouncil.org. 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. 2018–24278 Filed 11–6–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 55641 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170817779–8161–02] RIN 0648–XG116 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Eastern Aleutian district (EAI) of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) by vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2018 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific ocean perch in the EAI allocated to vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 2, 2018, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The 2018 TAC of Pacific ocean perch, in the EAI, allocated to vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery was established as a directed fishing allowance of 794 metric tons by the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (83 FR 8365, February 27, 2018). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the EAI by vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\07NOR1.SGM 07NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 216 (Wednesday, November 7, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 55640-55641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-24368]


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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

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

ACTION: Temporary rule.

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SUMMARY: 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 
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 4.75-in (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

[[Page 55641]]

the Federal Register on February 6, 2018 (83 FR 5212), remain effective 
for the 2019 fishing year.

Classification

    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: November 2, 2018.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-24368 Filed 11-6-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P