Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 62512-62514 [2018-26325]

Download as PDF 62512 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 4, 2018 / Rules and Regulations Dated: November 29, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.190, revise paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (iii) to read as follows: ■ § 622.190 Quotas. * * * * * (a) * * * (2) * * * (i) Commercial sector (hook-and-line and longline components combined)— 331,740 lb (150,475 kg). (ii) Hook-and-line component— 82,935 lb (37,619 kg). (iii) Longline component—248,805 lb (112,856 kg). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 622.193, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iii), and (a)(2), to read as follows: § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). (a) * * * (1) * * * (i) Hook-and-line component. If commercial hook-and-line landings for golden tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL (commercial quota) specified in § 622.190(a)(2)(ii), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the hookand-line component of the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. Applicable restrictions after a commercial quota closure are specified in § 622.190(c). (ii) Longline component. If commercial longline landings for golden tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the longline commercial ACL (commercial quota) specified in § 622.190(a)(2)(iii), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the longline component of the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. After the commercial ACL for the longline component is reached or projected to be reached, golden tilefish may not be fished for or possessed by a vessel with a golden tilefish longline endorsement. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 03, 2018 Jkt 247001 Applicable restrictions after a commercial quota closure are specified in § 622.190(c). (iii) If all commercial landings of golden tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL (including both the hook-and-line and longline component quotas) specified in § 622.190(a)(2)(i), and the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 342,000 lb (155,129 kg) is exceeded during the same fishing year, and golden tilefish are overfished based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the commercial ACL for that following fishing year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings of golden tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 2,316 fish, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year regardless if the stock is overfished, unless NMFS determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limits for golden tilefish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. (ii) If recreational landings of golden tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL specified of 2,316 fish, then during the following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings, and if necessary, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season and the recreational ACL by the amount of the recreational ACL overage, if the species is overfished based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and if the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 342,000 lb (155,129 kg) is exceeded during the same fishing year. The AA will use the best scientific information available to determine if reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and recreational ACL is necessary. When the recreational sector is closed as a result of NMFS reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and ACL, the bag and possession limits for golden tilefish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2018–26317 Filed 12–3–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02] RIN 0648–XG651 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS is transferring 129.2 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category, and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category to the General category for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year, to account for accrued overharvests of previous time period subquotas. This action is intended to provide opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the December General category fishery, which is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2018, and is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: The quota transfer is effective November 29, 2018 through December 31, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Uriah Forest-Bulley, 978–675–2154, or Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and as implemented by the United States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04DER1.SGM 04DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 4, 2018 / Rules and Regulations 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). 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 quota. NMFS published a final rule (i.e., the ‘‘quota rule’’ (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018)) that increased the baseline U.S. BFT quota from 1,058.79 mt to 1,247.86 mt consistent with a 2017 ICCAT recommendation and accordingly increased the category quotas for 2018. Within the General category quota, each time period (January, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is further allocated a subquota or portion of the annual General category quota. Although it is called the ‘‘January’’ subquota, the regulations allow the General category fishery under this quota to continue until the subquota is reached or March 31, whichever comes first. The baseline subquotas for each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January; 277.9 mt for June through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward from one time period to the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods within the fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year. For the January 2018 subquota period, NMFS transferred 14.3 mt of BFT quota from the December 2018 subquota period, and transferred 10 mt from the Reserve category, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 53.8 mt for the January 2018 period and a subquota of 14.6 mt for the December 2018 period (82 FR 60680, December 22, 2017, and 83 FR 9232, March 5, 2018, respectively). For 2018, NMFS also transferred a total of 75 mt from the Reserve and 40 mt from the Harpoon category to the General category through two inseason actions in September and October, resulting in an adjusted 2018 General category quota of 680.8 mt and adjusted 2018 Harpoon category of 36 mt (83 FR 47843, September 21, 2018, and 83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018, respectively). NMFS closed the October through November General category fishery after multiple reopenings when the subquota (127.2 mt) was met, effective November 16, 2018 (83 FR 57340, November 15, 2018). The 2018 General category fishery reopens December 1, 2018, and will remain open until December 31, 2018, or until the General category quota is reached, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 03, 2018 Jkt 247001 whichever comes first. Prior to this action, the adjusted Reserve category quota was 142.9 mt, and was most recently adjusted in the October 11, 2018 quota rule, which augmented the 2018 BFT Reserve category quota with available underharvest of the 2017 adjusted U.S. BFT quota. The Harpoon category fishery automatically closed for the year on November 15, 2018. Quota Transfer Under § 635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory determination criteria at § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to the General category fishery. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by BFT dealers continue to provide NMFS with valuable data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT over the longest time-period allowable would support the collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). Preliminary landings data as of November 26, 2018, indicate that the Harpoon category landed 26.1 mt of the 36 mt adjusted Harpoon quota before closing. They also indicate that the General category has landed 770 mt this year, which exceeds the overall General category adjusted quota of 680.8 mt. For all commercial categories, however, approximately 23 percent (267.9 mt) of the total of the BFT category quotas remains available as of November 26, 2018 (i.e., 881 mt of 1148.9 mt has been harvested), and NMFS anticipates that some amount of quota may remain unused by the end of the year even with the transfer. Absent a transfer, the December General category fishery would remain closed, even though quota remains available within the overall quota for the year and NMFS anticipates that commercial-sized BFT will be readily available on the fishing grounds when the fishery is otherwise PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 62513 scheduled to re-open December 1, 2018. Transferring 129.2 mt of BFT quota from the Reserve category, and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category would allow the General category fishery to resume as scheduled and would result in a total of 50.0 mt being available to the General category in December after accounting for quota exceedances. It would also leave 13.7 mt in the Reserve category to account for any BFT mortalities associated with research and/or any overharvests that may occur in December. In analyzing the criteria for transfer, NMFS also considered the fact that BFT quota management throughout the year had been informed, in part, by anticipated upward adjustments to the overall quota. Such adjustments, while not certain, were anticipated as a result of the 2017 ICCAT recommendation increasing the overall BFT quota and upward adjustments for last year’s underharvests, although any such adjustments would only take effect after appropriate rulemaking procedures and actions (i.e., the 2018 quota rule). Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the fishing year (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the last several years and landings to date this year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. A portion of the transferred quota covers overharvests in the category to date, and NMFS anticipates that General category participants will be able to harvest the remaining 50 mt of transferred BFT quota by the end of the fishing year. NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2018 landings and dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have been below the total available U.S. quota such that the United States has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2018 landings and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and NMFS anticipates having sufficient quota to do that, even with this 139.1 mt transfer to the General category. This transfer would be consistent with the current U.S. quota, which was established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule, and with E:\FR\FM\04DER1.SGM 04DER1 62514 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 233 / Tuesday, December 4, 2018 / Rules and Regulations objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 129.2 mt from the Reserve category to the General category. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the General category December subquota quota to 50.0 mt for the 2018 General category fishing season and adjusts the Reserve category quota to 13.7 mt. The 2018 General category fishery reopens December 1, 2018, and will remain open until December 31, 2018, or until the adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes first. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872–8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., quota adjustment or closure) is necessary to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens December 1, 2018, the BFT General category daily retention limit VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 03, 2018 Jkt 247001 will be one large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73’’ or greater) per vessel per day/trip. 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: The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer for the remainder of 2018 is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as such a delay would result in continued closure of the General category fishery (because the available quota has been exceeded) and the need to re-open the fishery later in the December time period, rather than the fishery automatically re-opening on December 1. The delay would preclude the fishery from harvesting BFT that are available on the fishing grounds and that might otherwise become unavailable during a delay. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under § 635.27(a)(9) (Inseason adjustments) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: November 29, 2018. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–26325 Filed 11–29–18; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170816769–8162–02] RIN 0648–XG470 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Less Than 50 Feet Length Overall Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels less than 50 feet length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to catcher vessels less than 50 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 1, 2018, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens 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. Regulations governing sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR part 680. The 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) apportioned to catcher vessels less than 50 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA is 880 metric tons (mt), as established by the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) has SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04DER1.SGM 04DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 233 (Tuesday, December 4, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 62512-62514]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-26325]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02]
RIN 0648-XG651


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason quota transfer.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 129.2 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic 
bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General 
category, and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category to the General category 
for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year, to account for accrued 
overharvests of previous time period subquotas. This action is intended 
to provide opportunities for General category fishermen to participate 
in the December General category fishery, which is scheduled to reopen 
on December 1, 2018, and is based on consideration of the regulatory 
determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action 
would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted 
vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category 
permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing 
commercially for BFT.

DATES: The quota transfer is effective November 29, 2018 through 
December 31, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Uriah Forest-Bulley, 978-675-2154, or 
Brad McHale, 978-281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) and as implemented by the United States among the various 
domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 
2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery

[[Page 62513]]

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). 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 quota.
    NMFS published a final rule (i.e., the ``quota rule'' (83 FR 51391, 
October 11, 2018)) that increased the baseline U.S. BFT quota from 
1,058.79 mt to 1,247.86 mt consistent with a 2017 ICCAT recommendation 
and accordingly increased the category quotas for 2018. Within the 
General category quota, each time period (January, June through August, 
September, October through November, and December) is further allocated 
a subquota or portion of the annual General category quota. Although it 
is called the ``January'' subquota, the regulations allow the General 
category fishery under this quota to continue until the subquota is 
reached or March 31, whichever comes first. The baseline subquotas for 
each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January; 277.9 mt for June 
through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through 
November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota 
rolls forward from one time period to the next and is available for use 
in subsequent time periods within the fishing year, which coincides 
with the calendar year.
    For the January 2018 subquota period, NMFS transferred 14.3 mt of 
BFT quota from the December 2018 subquota period, and transferred 10 mt 
from the Reserve category, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 53.8 mt 
for the January 2018 period and a subquota of 14.6 mt for the December 
2018 period (82 FR 60680, December 22, 2017, and 83 FR 9232, March 5, 
2018, respectively). For 2018, NMFS also transferred a total of 75 mt 
from the Reserve and 40 mt from the Harpoon category to the General 
category through two inseason actions in September and October, 
resulting in an adjusted 2018 General category quota of 680.8 mt and 
adjusted 2018 Harpoon category of 36 mt (83 FR 47843, September 21, 
2018, and 83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018, respectively). NMFS closed the 
October through November General category fishery after multiple 
reopenings when the subquota (127.2 mt) was met, effective November 16, 
2018 (83 FR 57340, November 15, 2018). The 2018 General category 
fishery reopens December 1, 2018, and will remain open until December 
31, 2018, or until the General category quota is reached, whichever 
comes first. Prior to this action, the adjusted Reserve category quota 
was 142.9 mt, and was most recently adjusted in the October 11, 2018 
quota rule, which augmented the 2018 BFT Reserve category quota with 
available underharvest of the 2017 adjusted U.S. BFT quota. The Harpoon 
category fishery automatically closed for the year on November 15, 
2018.

Quota Transfer

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota 
among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory 
determination criteria at Sec.  635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all 
of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to the 
General category fishery. These considerations include, but are not 
limited to, the following:
    Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in 
the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the 
status of the stock (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples 
collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by 
BFT dealers continue to provide NMFS with valuable data for ongoing 
scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive 
status. Additional opportunity to land BFT over the longest time-period 
allowable would support the collection of a broad range of data for 
these studies and for stock monitoring purposes.
    NMFS considered the catches of the General category quota to date 
(including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last 
several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the 
fishery if no adjustment is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). 
Preliminary landings data as of November 26, 2018, indicate that the 
Harpoon category landed 26.1 mt of the 36 mt adjusted Harpoon quota 
before closing. They also indicate that the General category has landed 
770 mt this year, which exceeds the overall General category adjusted 
quota of 680.8 mt. For all commercial categories, however, 
approximately 23 percent (267.9 mt) of the total of the BFT category 
quotas remains available as of November 26, 2018 (i.e., 881 mt of 
1148.9 mt has been harvested), and NMFS anticipates that some amount of 
quota may remain unused by the end of the year even with the transfer. 
Absent a transfer, the December General category fishery would remain 
closed, even though quota remains available within the overall quota 
for the year and NMFS anticipates that commercial-sized BFT will be 
readily available on the fishing grounds when the fishery is otherwise 
scheduled to re-open December 1, 2018. Transferring 129.2 mt of BFT 
quota from the Reserve category, and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category 
would allow the General category fishery to resume as scheduled and 
would result in a total of 50.0 mt being available to the General 
category in December after accounting for quota exceedances. It would 
also leave 13.7 mt in the Reserve category to account for any BFT 
mortalities associated with research and/or any overharvests that may 
occur in December. In analyzing the criteria for transfer, NMFS also 
considered the fact that BFT quota management throughout the year had 
been informed, in part, by anticipated upward adjustments to the 
overall quota. Such adjustments, while not certain, were anticipated as 
a result of the 2017 ICCAT recommendation increasing the overall BFT 
quota and upward adjustments for last year's underharvests, although 
any such adjustments would only take effect after appropriate 
rulemaking procedures and actions (i.e., the 2018 quota rule).
    Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the 
particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the 
additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the 
fishing year (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General 
category landings over the last several years and landings to date this 
year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-
sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. A portion of the 
transferred quota covers overharvests in the category to date, and NMFS 
anticipates that General category participants will be able to harvest 
the remaining 50 mt of transferred BFT quota by the end of the fishing 
year.
    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for 
other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2018 landings and 
dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have 
been below the total available U.S. quota such that the United States 
has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT 
from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2018 landings 
and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations, and NMFS anticipates having sufficient quota to do 
that, even with this 139.1 mt transfer to the General category.
    This transfer would be consistent with the current U.S. quota, 
which was established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule, 
and with

[[Page 62514]]

objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). Another principal consideration is the 
objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. 
BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield 
on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit 
categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to 
Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)).
    Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 129.2 mt 
from the Reserve category to the General category. Therefore, NMFS 
adjusts the General category December subquota quota to 50.0 mt for the 
2018 General category fishing season and adjusts the Reserve category 
quota to 13.7 mt. The 2018 General category fishery reopens December 1, 
2018, and will remain open until December 31, 2018, or until the 
adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes first.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are 
required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer 
receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to 
timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to 
report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours 
of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov 
or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 
(Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., quota adjustment or 
closure) is necessary to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or 
to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities 
in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be 
published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the 
Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access 
hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason 
adjustments.
    NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery 
reopens December 1, 2018, the BFT General category daily retention 
limit will be one large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73'' or greater) 
per vessel per day/trip.

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:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond 
to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, 
the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in 
the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public 
comment to implement the quota transfer for the remainder of 2018 is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest as such a delay would 
result in continued closure of the General category fishery (because 
the available quota has been exceeded) and the need to re-open the 
fishery later in the December time period, rather than the fishery 
automatically re-opening on December 1. The delay would preclude the 
fishery from harvesting BFT that are available on the fishing grounds 
and that might otherwise become unavailable during a delay. Therefore, 
the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice 
and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also 
is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.27(a)(9) (Inseason 
adjustments) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: November 29, 2018.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-26325 Filed 11-29-18; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P