Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries; General Category Fishery, 3724-3726 [2019-02190]

Download as PDF 3724 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 30 / Wednesday, February 13, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES a Federal commercial permit to harvest Gulf king mackerel using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone must have landed ashore and bartered, traded, or sold such king mackerel prior to 12 p.m., eastern time, on February 8, 2019. Persons aboard a vessel for which a Federal commercial permit for Gulf king mackerel has been issued, except persons who also possess a king mackerel gillnet permit, may fish for or retain Gulf king mackerel harvested using hook-and-line gear in the southern zone unless the commercial quota for hook-and-line gear has been met and the hook-and-line component of the commercial sector has been closed. In addition, as long as the recreational sector for Gulf king mackerel is open (50 CFR 622.384(e)(1)), a person aboard a vessel that has a valid Federal commercial gillnet permit for king mackerel may continue to retain king mackerel under the bag and possession limits set forth in 50 CFR 622.382(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2). During the closure, Gulf king mackerel harvested using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone may not be purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to Gulf king mackerel harvested using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor (50 CFR 622.384(e)(2)). Classification The Regional Administrator for the NMFS Southeast Region has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of Gulf king mackerel and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.8(b) and 622.388(a)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action responds to the best scientific information available. The NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial fishery component that uses run-around gillnet gear constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), because prior notice and opportunity for public comment on VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:46 Feb 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 this temporary rule is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the rule implementing the commercial quota and the associated AM has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest, because any delay in the closure of the commercial harvest could result in the commercial quota being exceeded. There is a need to immediately implement this action to protect the king mackerel resource, because the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action would require time and would potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established quota. For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 8, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02193 Filed 2–8–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02] RIN 0648–XG787 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries; General Category Fishery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS transfers 26 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category January 2019 period (from January 1 through March 31, 2019, or until the available subquota for this period is reached, whichever comes first). This action is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (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 February 8, 2019, through March 31, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Uriah Forest-Bulley, 978–675–2154, or Sarah McLaughlin, 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 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 domestic category quotas for 2018, until changed via a subsequent ICCAT recommendation. 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 E:\FR\FM\13FER1.SGM 13FER1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 30 / Wednesday, February 13, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods within the fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year. Effective January 1, 2019, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of the 28.9mt General category quota allocated for the December 2019 period to the January 2019 period, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 49 mt for the January period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2018 period (83 FR 67140, December 28, 2018). Transfer of 26 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category 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 winter fishery 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)). As of February 5, 2019, the General category landed 37 mt (76 percent) of its adjusted January 2019 subquota of 49 mt. Without a quota transfer, NMFS would have to close the January 2019 General category fishery, while unused quota remains in the Reserve category and while commercial-sized BFT remain available in the areas where General category permitted vessels operate at this time of year. 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:46 Feb 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. NMFS anticipates that all 26 mt of quota will be used by March 31. In the unlikely event that any of this quota is unused by March 31, the unused quota will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year (i.e., the June through August time period), and NMFS anticipates that it would be used by the subquota category before 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 2019 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 2019 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 26-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 objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). At this time, there is a relatively small amount of quota in the Reserve category available to transfer to other categories or use for scientific research and for prudent responsive management. In the past, NMFS has conducted the annual reallocation of unused Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category early in the calendar year, which resulted in more Reserve category quota available at this time of year. However, a government shutdown occurred due to a lack of appropriations during December 2018-January 2019, which resulted in an administrative backlog that will delay that action for 2019. Given that consideration, current catch rates, and the availability of fish on the fishing grounds, NMFS is moving forward with this inseason transfer based on the immediate needs of the General category fishery. Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota equitably 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 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 3725 quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2018 adjusted U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2019 and placed in the Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations, later this year. This, in addition to the fact that any unused General category quota will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year and NMFS’ plan to actively manage the subquotas to avoid any exceedances, makes it likely that General category quota will remain available through the end of 2019 for December fishery participants. NMFS also may transfer unused quota from the Reserve or other categories, inseason, based on consideration of the determination criteria, as it did in 2018 (i.e., transferred 60 mt from the Reserve category effective September 18, 2018 (83 FR 47843, September 21, 2018); 40 mt form the Harpoon category and 15 mt from the Reserve category effective October 4, 2018 (83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018); and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category and 129.2 mt from the General category effective November 29, 2018 (83 FR 62512, December 4, 2018). NMFS anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2019, through active inseason management measures, such as retention limit adjustments and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable. Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent consistent with the available amount of transferrable quota and other management objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance. Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 26 mt from the Reserve category to the General category for the January 2019 fishery, resulting in a subquota of 75 mt for the January 2019 fishery and 3.5 mt in the Reserve category. 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 E:\FR\FM\13FER1.SGM 13FER1 3726 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 30 / Wednesday, February 13, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 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. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 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 quota transfers 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. These fisheries are currently underway and the currently available quota for the subcategory is projected to be reached shortly. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as such a delay would result in would likely result in exceedance of the General category January fishery subquota or earlier closure of the fishery while fish are available on the fishing grounds. 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 § 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:46 Feb 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 Dated: February 8, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02190 Filed 2–8–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170816769–8162–02] RIN 0648–XG973 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 620 in 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 pollock in Statistical Area 620 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2019 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 620 in the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 8, 2019, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 10, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 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. The A season allowance of the 2019 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock in Statistical Area 620 of the GOA is 23,236 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (83 FR 8768, March 1, 2018) and inseason adjustment (84 FR 33, January 4, 2019). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator has SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 determined that the A season allowance of the 2019 TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 620 of the GOA is necessary to account for the incidental catch in other anticipated fisheries. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 23,000 mt and is setting aside the remaining 236 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. 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 pollock in Statistical Area 620 of the GOA. While this closure is effective the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the closure of directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 620 of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of February 7, 2019. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 8, 2019. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02148 Filed 2–8–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\13FER1.SGM 13FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 30 (Wednesday, February 13, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 3724-3726]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02190]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02]
RIN 0648-XG787


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries; General Category Fishery

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 transfers 26 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna 
(BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category January 
2019 period (from January 1 through March 31, 2019, or until the 
available subquota for this period is reached, whichever comes first). 
This action is based on consideration of the regulatory determination 
criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to 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 February 8, 2019, through March 
31, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Uriah Forest-Bulley, 978-675-2154, or 
Sarah McLaughlin, 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 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 domestic category quotas for 2018, until 
changed via a subsequent ICCAT recommendation. 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

[[Page 3725]]

the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods within the 
fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year. Effective January 
1, 2019, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of the 28.9-mt General category quota 
allocated for the December 2019 period to the January 2019 period, 
resulting in an adjusted subquota of 49 mt for the January period and a 
subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2018 period (83 FR 67140, December 
28, 2018).

Transfer of 26 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category

    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 winter fishery 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)). As of February 5, 
2019, the General category landed 37 mt (76 percent) of its adjusted 
January 2019 subquota of 49 mt. Without a quota transfer, NMFS would 
have to close the January 2019 General category fishery, while unused 
quota remains in the Reserve category and while commercial-sized BFT 
remain available in the areas where General category permitted vessels 
operate at this time of year.
    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. NMFS anticipates 
that all 26 mt of quota will be used by March 31. In the unlikely event 
that any of this quota is unused by March 31, the unused quota will 
roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year (i.e., the 
June through August time period), and NMFS anticipates that it would be 
used by the subquota category before 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 2019 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 2019 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 26-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 objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments 
(Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). At this time, there is a relatively 
small amount of quota in the Reserve category available to transfer to 
other categories or use for scientific research and for prudent 
responsive management. In the past, NMFS has conducted the annual 
reallocation of unused Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve 
category early in the calendar year, which resulted in more Reserve 
category quota available at this time of year. However, a government 
shutdown occurred due to a lack of appropriations during December 2018-
January 2019, which resulted in an administrative backlog that will 
delay that action for 2019. Given that consideration, current catch 
rates, and the availability of fish on the fishing grounds, NMFS is 
moving forward with this inseason transfer based on the immediate needs 
of the General category fishery. Another principal consideration is the 
objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. 
BFT quota equitably 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)).
    NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2018 adjusted 
U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2019 and placed in the 
Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations, later this year. 
This, in addition to the fact that any unused General category quota 
will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year and 
NMFS' plan to actively manage the subquotas to avoid any exceedances, 
makes it likely that General category quota will remain available 
through the end of 2019 for December fishery participants. NMFS also 
may transfer unused quota from the Reserve or other categories, 
inseason, based on consideration of the determination criteria, as it 
did in 2018 (i.e., transferred 60 mt from the Reserve category 
effective September 18, 2018 (83 FR 47843, September 21, 2018); 40 mt 
form the Harpoon category and 15 mt from the Reserve category effective 
October 4, 2018 (83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018); and 9.9 mt from the 
Harpoon category and 129.2 mt from the General category effective 
November 29, 2018 (83 FR 62512, December 4, 2018). NMFS anticipates 
that General category participants in all areas and time periods will 
have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2019, 
through active inseason management measures, such as retention limit 
adjustments and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable. Thus, 
this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the 
availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent consistent 
with the available amount of transferrable quota and other management 
objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance.
    Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 26 mt from 
the Reserve category to the General category for the January 2019 
fishery, resulting in a subquota of 75 mt for the January 2019 fishery 
and 3.5 mt in the Reserve category.

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

[[Page 3726]]

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.

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 quota transfers 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. These fisheries are currently underway and the currently 
available quota for the subcategory is projected to be reached shortly. 
Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement 
the quota transfer is impracticable and contrary to the public interest 
as such a delay would result in would likely result in exceedance of 
the General category January fishery subquota or earlier closure of the 
fishery while fish are available on the fishing grounds. 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: February 8, 2019.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-02190 Filed 2-8-19; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P