Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 22734-22737 [2019-10455]

Download as PDF 22734 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 97 / Monday, May 20, 2019 / Rules and Regulations information regardless of when they were licensed or registered: • Earth station call sign (or IBFS file number if a registration filed between April 19, 2018, and October 31, 2018, is pending); • Address where the equipment is typically stored; • The area within which the equipment is typically used; • How often the equipment is used and the duration of such use (i.e., please provide examples of typical deployments, e.g., operation x days a week at sports arenas within a radius of y miles of its home base); • Number of transponders typically used in the 3.7–4.2 GHz band and extent of use on both the uplink and downlink; and • Licensee/registrant and point of contact information.9 All earth station operators, including those exempt from the requirements of this Public Notice, are required to update their information in IBFS in the event of a change in contact information or any of the operational parameters.10 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Required Space Station Data Operators with existing FSS space station licenses with coverage of the United States or grants of United States market access in the 3.7–4.2 GHz band must provide the following information: • Satellite call sign, name, and orbital location; • Expected end-of-life for satellite; • The approximate dates that any additional C-band (3.7–4.2 GHz band) satellites with a currently pending application in IBFS are planned for launch to serve the United States market (note whether this satellite is a replacement); • Any additional C-band satellites that do not have a currently pending application in IBFS that are planned for launch to serve the United States market and the approximate date of such launch (note whether this satellite is a replacement); • For each transponder on each satellite operating in the 3.7–4.2 GHz range that is operational and legally authorized to serve customers in the United States, provide the following for the most recent month, i.e., for March 2019: • The frequency range of the transponder and the transponder number; 11 9 See Order, 33 FCC Rcd 6923–24, paras. 19–21. Sections 25.117 (Modifications of station license), 25.118 (Modification not requiring prior authorization), and 25.171 (Contact information reporting requirements). 11 For purposes of this information collection, ‘‘transponder number’’ refers to a standard 36 10 See VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 May 17, 2019 Jkt 247001 • The total capacity (megahertz) and in terms of the number of megahertz on each transponder that are currently under contract (also provide this data for one month in 2016); • For each day in March 2019, the average percentage of each transponder’s capacity (megahertz) utilized and the maximum percentage of capacity utilized on that day. Parties may supplement this required daily data for March 2019 with historical trend data over recent months up to three years (provide the date range at which the data was collected) to show utilization variances; and • For all data reported regarding capacity under contract and capacity utilization, specify the percentage (if any) only for customers outside of the United States. • The center frequency and bandwidth of the Telemetry Tracking and Command (TT&C) beam(s); and • The call sign and geographic location (using NAD83 coordinates) of each TT&C receive site. Filing Procedures the form or response. If you have any comments on this estimate, or on how we can improve the collection and reduce the burden it causes you, please write the Federal Communications Commission, Office of Managing Director, AMD PERM, Washington, DC 20554, Paperwork Reduction Act Project (3060 0678). We will also accept your PRA comments via the internet if you send an email to PRA@fcc.gov. Please DO NOT SEND COMPLETED CERTIFICATIONS OR DATA TO THIS ADDRESS. You are not required to respond to a collection of information sponsored by the Federal government, and the government may not conduct or sponsor this collection, unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number and/or we fail to provide you with this document. This collection has been assigned an OMB control number of 3060–0678. This document is required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13, October 1, 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3507. All information required by the Order, and repeated in the Public Notice, must be submitted electronically in IBFS, https://licensing.fcc.gov/myibfs, using the ‘‘Pleadings and Comments’’ link. Fixed, temporary fixed, and transportable earth station licensees must file certifications as a pleading type ‘‘C-band certification’’ for each call sign. Temporary fixed and transportable earth station licensees and space station licensees must file the additional earth station and space station data requested above using the pleading type ‘‘Other’’ for each call sign. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary. Paperwork Reduction Act Notice RIN 0648–HMS–A001 We have estimated that your response to this collection of information will take 6 hours per response (additional information on temporary fixed earth stations in 3.7–4.2 GHz) and 40 hours per response (additional information on space stations in 3.7–4.2 GHz).12 Our estimate includes the time to read the instructions, look through existing records, gather and maintain required data, and actually complete and review Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries megahertz wide transponder and that transponder numbering (1–24) is based on the former centerfrequency requirement for C-band space stations. See 47 CFR 25.211(a) (2014). Although this rule is no longer in effect, most satellites providing service to the United States in the 3.7–4.2 GHz band are configured in accordance with the transponder plan described in the rule. 12 The earth station certification requirement is not considered information for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act and as such is not included in the estimated burden hours. See 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(1). PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 [FR Doc. 2019–10412 Filed 5–17–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02] National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason General category retention limit adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category daily retention limit from the default limit of one large medium or giant BFT to three large medium or giant BFT for June 1 through August 31, 2019. 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) SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\20MYR1.SGM 20MYR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 97 / Monday, May 20, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: Effective June 1, 2019, through August 31, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 978–281–9260 or Larry Redd, 301–427–8503. 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) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and in accordance with implementing regulations. 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. The baseline quota for the General category is 555.7 mt. See § 635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a 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: 24.7 mt for January; 233.3 mt for June through August; 123.7 mt for September; 60.7 mt for October through November; and 24.3 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward within the fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year, from one time period to the next, and is available for use in subsequent time periods. This action would adjust the daily retention limit for the second time period in 2019, June through August. Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limit Unless changed, the General category daily retention limit starting on June 1 would be the default retention limit of VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 May 17, 2019 Jkt 247001 one large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length (CFL) or greater) per vessel per day/trip (§ 635.23(a)(2)). This default retention limit would apply to General category permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing commercially for BFT. Under § 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a maximum of five per vessel based on consideration of the relevant criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered these criteria and their applicability to the General category BFT retention limit for June through August 2019. 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 would support the collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including landings and catch rates during the last several years) and the likelihood of closure of the General category if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii)). Commercial-size BFT are anticipated to migrate to the fishing grounds off the northeast U.S. coast by early June. Based on General category catch rates during the June through August time period over the last several years, it is unlikely that the June through August subquota will be filled with the default daily retention limit of one BFT per vessel. NMFS set the June through August 2018 time period limit at three fish initially and reduced it to one fish effective August 23 through August 31. Due to a combination of fish availability and extremely favorable fishing conditions, NMFS needed to close the General category fishery in the September subquota time period and the October through November time period (including two subsequent reopenings and closures of the October through November time period) to allow for harvest of the subsequent subquotas without exceeding the adjusted General category quota while simultaneously maintaining equitable distribution of fishing opportunities. NMFS is setting PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 22735 the June through August 2019 limit in such a way that NMFS believes, informed by past experience, increases the likelihood that the fishery will remain open throughout the subperiod and year. NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and the effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). The adjusted retention limit would be consistent with the quotas established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule, which implemented the ICCAT quota consistent with ATCA, and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments and is not expected to negatively impact stock health or to affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those documents. It is also important that NMFS limit landings to the subquotas both adhere to the FMP quota allocations and to ensure that landings are as consistent as possible with the pattern of fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at each age) that was assumed in the latest stock assessment. Another principal consideration in setting the retention limit is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full General category 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)). Adjustment of the retention limit is also supported by the Environmental Analysis for the 2011 final rule regarding General and Harpoon category management measures, which increased the General category maximum daily retention limit from three to five fish. Despite elevated General category limits, the vast majority of successful trips (i.e., General or Charter/Headboat trips on which at least one BFT is landed under General category quota) land only one or two BFT. For instance, the landings data for 2018 show that, under the three-fish limit that applied June 1 through August 22, the proportion of trips that landed one, two, or three bluefin tuna was as follows: 84 percent landed one; 12 percent landed two; and 4 percent landed three. In the last few years, NMFS has received conflicting comments that a high daily retention limit (specifically five fish) is needed to optimize General category fishing opportunities and account for seasonal distributions by enabling vessels to make overnight trips to distant fishing grounds. Others have E:\FR\FM\20MYR1.SGM 20MYR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 22736 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 97 / Monday, May 20, 2019 / Rules and Regulations noted that a higher General category limit at the start of the June–August period would reduce the likelihood of effort shifting into the Harpoon category, which has a relatively small quota. NMFS also has received general comment that a lower limit increases the likelihood that opportunities will extend through the late fall and the end of the calendar year, as well as improve market conditions. Although this may sometimes be true, 2018 landings data did not indicate that the fall fishery could have been extended substantially through implementation of a lower limit starting June 1. Requests tend to vary depending on actual fish behavior, weather, and availability (i.e., abundance and proximity to shore) in any given year. NMFS anticipates that some underharvest of the 2018 adjusted U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2019 to the Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations, this summer when complete BFT catch information for 2018 is available and finalized. Because such quota would be available to be transferred from the Reserve category to the General category, and such transfers have occurred in the past, the carryover of underharvest would make it more likely that General category quota will remain available through the end of 2019 for December fishery participants, despite the transfer of 19.5 mt from the 28.9-mt General category December 2019 subquota period to the January 2019 period (83 FR 67140, December 28, 2018); 26 mt from the Reserve category effective February 8, 2019 (84 FR 3724, February 13, 2019); and 25 mt from the Reserve category effective February 25, 2019 (84 FR 6701, February 28, 2019). General category landings were relatively high in the summer and fall of 2018, due to a combination of fish availability, favorable fishing conditions, and higher daily retention limits. NMFS transferred 60 mt from the Reserve category (83 FR 447843, September 21, 2018), transferred 40 mt from the Harpoon category and 15 mt from the Reserve category (83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018), and later transferred 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category and 129.2 mt from the Reserve category (83 FR 62512, December 4, 2018). Although NMFS needed to close the September and the October-November fisheries to prevent further overharvest of the adjusted 2018 General category subquotas, NMFS anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2019, through more proactive inseason management such as VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 May 17, 2019 Jkt 247001 retention limit adjustments and/or the timing and amount of quota transfers (based on consideration of the determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments), as practicable. NMFS will closely monitor General category catch rates associated with the various authorized gear types (e.g., harpoon, rod and reel) during the June through August period and actively adjust the daily retention limit as appropriate to enhance scientific data collection from, and ensure fishing opportunities in, all respective timeperiod subquotas as well as ensure available quota is not exceeded. A limit lower than three fish at the start of the June through August period could result in diminished fishing opportunities for those General category vessels using harpoon gear based on past fish behavior early in the season. Lower limits may also result in effort shifts from the General category to the Harpoon category, which could result in premature closure of the Harpoon category, and potentially additional inseason adjustments. General category harpoon gear participants land approximately five to seven percent of the General category landings each year and these landings occur early in the season. A three-fish retention limit for an appropriate period of time will provide a greater opportunity to harvest the June through August subquota with harpoon gear without exceeding it while also maintaining equitable distribution of fishing opportunities for harpoon and rod and reel participants. NMFS also considered general input on 2019 General category limits from the HMS Advisory Panel at its September 2018 meeting. Based on these considerations, we have determined that a three-fish General category retention limit is warranted for the beginning of the June– August 2019 subquota period. This limit would provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the full U.S. BFT quota (including the expected increase in available 2019 quota based on 2018 underharvest), without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help optimize the ability of the General category to harvest its full quota; allow the collection of a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes; and be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. Therefore, NMFS increases the General category retention limit from the default limit (one) to three large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip, effective June 1, 2019, through August 31, 2019. PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention limit applies upon landing. For example (and specific to the June through August 2019 limit), whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the daily limit of three fish may not be exceeded upon landing. This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeting fishing for BFT, and applies to those vessels permitted in the General category, as well as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT fishing commercially for BFT. For information regarding the HMS Charter/Headboat commercial sale endorsement, see 82 FR 57543, December 6, 2017. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will actively 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 adjustments, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/ Headboat vessel owners are required to report their own 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, 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 adjustments are necessary to ensure available quota is 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 E:\FR\FM\20MYR1.SGM 20MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 97 / Monday, May 20, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 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. The timing of this rulemaking will allow approximately two weeks’ prior notice to the regulated community. Affording additional prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the change in the daily retention limit from the default level for the June through August 2019 subquota period would be impracticable. Based on available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, responsive adjustment to the General category BFT daily retention limit from the default level is warranted to allow fishermen to take advantage of availability of fish and of quota. NMFS could not have proposed these actions earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated data and information about fishery conditions and this year’s landings. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having appropriately considered that data, it would preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the regulatory criteria, and/or could result in selection of a retention limit VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:55 May 17, 2019 Jkt 247001 inappropriate to the amount of quota available for the period. Fisheries under the General category daily retention limit will commence on June 1 and thus prior notice would be contrary to the public interest. Delays in increasing these retention limits would adversely affect those General and Charter/Headboat category vessels that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the default retention limit of one BFT per day/trip and may result in low catch rates and quota rollovers. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment to the BFT daily retention limit from the default level would result in minimal risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS provides notification of retention limit adjustments by publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on hmspermits.noaa.gov. With quota available and fish available on the grounds, and with no expected impacts to the stock, it would be contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait to harvest the additional fish allowed through this action. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 22737 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. Adjustment of the General category retention limit needs to be effective June 1, 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter, to minimize any unnecessary disruption in fishing patterns, to allow the impacted sectors to benefit from the adjustment, and to not preclude fishing opportunities for fishermen in geographic areas with access to the fishery only during this time period. Foregoing opportunities to harvest the respective quotas may have negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available quota within the time periods designated in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. Therefore, the AA finds there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. This action is being taken under § 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: May 15, 2019. Kelly L. Denit, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–10455 Filed 5–15–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20MYR1.SGM 20MYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 97 (Monday, May 20, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22734-22737]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-10455]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02]
RIN 0648-HMS-A001


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 General category retention limit 
adjustment.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General 
category daily retention limit from the default limit of one large 
medium or giant BFT to three large medium or giant BFT for June 1 
through August 31, 2019. 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)

[[Page 22735]]

Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale 
endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.

DATES: Effective June 1, 2019, through August 31, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 978-281-9260 or 
Larry Redd, 301-427-8503.

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) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the 
allocations established in Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP) (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), 
and in accordance with implementing regulations. 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.
    The baseline quota for the General category is 555.7 mt. See Sec.  
635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January, June 
through August, September, October through November, and December) is 
allocated a 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: 24.7 mt for January; 233.3 mt for June 
through August; 123.7 mt for September; 60.7 mt for October through 
November; and 24.3 mt for December. Any unused General category quota 
rolls forward within the fishing year, which coincides with the 
calendar year, from one time period to the next, and is available for 
use in subsequent time periods. This action would adjust the daily 
retention limit for the second time period in 2019, June through 
August.

Adjustment of General Category Daily Retention Limit

    Unless changed, the General category daily retention limit starting 
on June 1 would be the default retention limit of one large medium or 
giant BFT (measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length (CFL) or 
greater) per vessel per day/trip (Sec.  635.23(a)(2)). This default 
retention limit would apply to General category permitted vessels and 
to HMS Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing 
commercially for BFT.
    Under Sec.  635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily 
retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a 
maximum of five per vessel based on consideration of the relevant 
criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered these 
criteria and their applicability to the General category BFT retention 
limit for June through August 2019. 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 would support the collection 
of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring 
purposes.
    NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to 
date (including landings and catch rates during the last several years) 
and the likelihood of closure of the General category if no adjustment 
is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii)). Commercial-size BFT are anticipated 
to migrate to the fishing grounds off the northeast U.S. coast by early 
June. Based on General category catch rates during the June through 
August time period over the last several years, it is unlikely that the 
June through August subquota will be filled with the default daily 
retention limit of one BFT per vessel. NMFS set the June through August 
2018 time period limit at three fish initially and reduced it to one 
fish effective August 23 through August 31. Due to a combination of 
fish availability and extremely favorable fishing conditions, NMFS 
needed to close the General category fishery in the September subquota 
time period and the October through November time period (including two 
subsequent reopenings and closures of the October through November time 
period) to allow for harvest of the subsequent subquotas without 
exceeding the adjusted General category quota while simultaneously 
maintaining equitable distribution of fishing opportunities. NMFS is 
setting the June through August 2019 limit in such a way that NMFS 
believes, informed by past experience, increases the likelihood that 
the fishery will remain open throughout the subperiod and year.
    NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock 
and the effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of 
the FMP (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). The adjusted retention limit 
would be consistent with the quotas established and analyzed in the 
2018 BFT quota final rule, which implemented the ICCAT quota consistent 
with ATCA, and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments and is not expected to negatively impact stock health or to 
affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those documents. It is 
also important that NMFS limit landings to the subquotas both adhere to 
the FMP quota allocations and to ensure that landings are as consistent 
as possible with the pattern of fishing mortality (e.g., fish caught at 
each age) that was assumed in the latest stock assessment.
    Another principal consideration in setting the retention limit is 
the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full General 
category 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)). Adjustment of the retention limit is also 
supported by the Environmental Analysis for the 2011 final rule 
regarding General and Harpoon category management measures, which 
increased the General category maximum daily retention limit from three 
to five fish.
    Despite elevated General category limits, the vast majority of 
successful trips (i.e., General or Charter/Headboat trips on which at 
least one BFT is landed under General category quota) land only one or 
two BFT. For instance, the landings data for 2018 show that, under the 
three-fish limit that applied June 1 through August 22, the proportion 
of trips that landed one, two, or three bluefin tuna was as follows: 84 
percent landed one; 12 percent landed two; and 4 percent landed three. 
In the last few years, NMFS has received conflicting comments that a 
high daily retention limit (specifically five fish) is needed to 
optimize General category fishing opportunities and account for 
seasonal distributions by enabling vessels to make overnight trips to 
distant fishing grounds. Others have

[[Page 22736]]

noted that a higher General category limit at the start of the June-
August period would reduce the likelihood of effort shifting into the 
Harpoon category, which has a relatively small quota. NMFS also has 
received general comment that a lower limit increases the likelihood 
that opportunities will extend through the late fall and the end of the 
calendar year, as well as improve market conditions. Although this may 
sometimes be true, 2018 landings data did not indicate that the fall 
fishery could have been extended substantially through implementation 
of a lower limit starting June 1. Requests tend to vary depending on 
actual fish behavior, weather, and availability (i.e., abundance and 
proximity to shore) in any given year.
    NMFS anticipates that some underharvest of the 2018 adjusted U.S. 
BFT quota will be carried forward to 2019 to the Reserve category, in 
accordance with the regulations, this summer when complete BFT catch 
information for 2018 is available and finalized. Because such quota 
would be available to be transferred from the Reserve category to the 
General category, and such transfers have occurred in the past, the 
carryover of underharvest would make it more likely that General 
category quota will remain available through the end of 2019 for 
December fishery participants, despite the transfer of 19.5 mt from the 
28.9-mt General category December 2019 subquota period to the January 
2019 period (83 FR 67140, December 28, 2018); 26 mt from the Reserve 
category effective February 8, 2019 (84 FR 3724, February 13, 2019); 
and 25 mt from the Reserve category effective February 25, 2019 (84 FR 
6701, February 28, 2019).
    General category landings were relatively high in the summer and 
fall of 2018, due to a combination of fish availability, favorable 
fishing conditions, and higher daily retention limits. NMFS transferred 
60 mt from the Reserve category (83 FR 447843, September 21, 2018), 
transferred 40 mt from the Harpoon category and 15 mt from the Reserve 
category (83 FR 50857, October 10, 2018), and later transferred 9.9 mt 
from the Harpoon category and 129.2 mt from the Reserve category (83 FR 
62512, December 4, 2018). Although NMFS needed to close the September 
and the October-November fisheries to prevent further overharvest of 
the adjusted 2018 General category subquotas, NMFS anticipates that 
General category participants in all areas and time periods will have 
opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2019, through 
more proactive inseason management such as retention limit adjustments 
and/or the timing and amount of quota transfers (based on consideration 
of the determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments), as 
practicable. NMFS will closely monitor General category catch rates 
associated with the various authorized gear types (e.g., harpoon, rod 
and reel) during the June through August period and actively adjust the 
daily retention limit as appropriate to enhance scientific data 
collection from, and ensure fishing opportunities in, all respective 
time-period subquotas as well as ensure available quota is not 
exceeded.
    A limit lower than three fish at the start of the June through 
August period could result in diminished fishing opportunities for 
those General category vessels using harpoon gear based on past fish 
behavior early in the season. Lower limits may also result in effort 
shifts from the General category to the Harpoon category, which could 
result in premature closure of the Harpoon category, and potentially 
additional inseason adjustments. General category harpoon gear 
participants land approximately five to seven percent of the General 
category landings each year and these landings occur early in the 
season. A three-fish retention limit for an appropriate period of time 
will provide a greater opportunity to harvest the June through August 
subquota with harpoon gear without exceeding it while also maintaining 
equitable distribution of fishing opportunities for harpoon and rod and 
reel participants. NMFS also considered general input on 2019 General 
category limits from the HMS Advisory Panel at its September 2018 
meeting.
    Based on these considerations, we have determined that a three-fish 
General category retention limit is warranted for the beginning of the 
June-August 2019 subquota period. This limit would provide a reasonable 
opportunity to harvest the full U.S. BFT quota (including the expected 
increase in available 2019 quota based on 2018 underharvest), without 
exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing 
opportunities; help optimize the ability of the General category to 
harvest its full quota; allow the collection of a broad range of data 
for stock monitoring purposes; and be consistent with the objectives of 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. Therefore, NMFS increases 
the General category retention limit from the default limit (one) to 
three large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip, effective June 
1, 2019, through August 31, 2019.
    Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, the daily retention 
limit applies upon landing. For example (and specific to the June 
through August 2019 limit), whether a vessel fishing under the General 
category limit takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day, the 
daily limit of three fish may not be exceeded upon landing. This 
General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except for 
the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeting fishing for BFT, and 
applies to those vessels permitted in the General category, as well as 
to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale 
endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT fishing commercially for 
BFT. For information regarding the HMS Charter/Headboat commercial sale 
endorsement, see 82 FR 57543, December 6, 2017.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will actively 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 adjustments, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to report 
their own 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, 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 adjustments are necessary to ensure 
available quota is 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

[[Page 22737]]

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. The timing of this rulemaking will allow approximately 
two weeks' prior notice to the regulated community. Affording 
additional prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the 
change in the daily retention limit from the default level for the June 
through August 2019 subquota period would be impracticable. Based on 
available BFT quotas, fishery performance in recent years, and the 
availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, responsive adjustment to 
the General category BFT daily retention limit from the default level 
is warranted to allow fishermen to take advantage of availability of 
fish and of quota. NMFS could not have proposed these actions earlier, 
as it needed to consider and respond to updated data and information 
about fishery conditions and this year's landings. If NMFS was to offer 
a public comment period now, after having appropriately considered that 
data, it would preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally 
available consistent with all of the regulatory criteria, and/or could 
result in selection of a retention limit inappropriate to the amount of 
quota available for the period.
    Fisheries under the General category daily retention limit will 
commence on June 1 and thus prior notice would be contrary to the 
public interest. Delays in increasing these retention limits would 
adversely affect those General and Charter/Headboat category vessels 
that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the 
default retention limit of one BFT per day/trip and may result in low 
catch rates and quota rollovers. Analysis of available data shows that 
adjustment to the BFT daily retention limit from the default level 
would result in minimal risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. 
NMFS provides notification of retention limit adjustments by publishing 
the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have 
subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating 
the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on 
hmspermits.noaa.gov. With quota available and fish available on the 
grounds, and with no expected impacts to the stock, it would be 
contrary to the public interest to require vessels to wait to harvest 
the additional fish allowed 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 General category retention limit needs to be 
effective June 1, 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter, to minimize 
any unnecessary disruption in fishing patterns, to allow the impacted 
sectors to benefit from the adjustment, and to not preclude fishing 
opportunities for fishermen in geographic areas with access to the 
fishery only during this time period. Foregoing opportunities to 
harvest the respective quotas may have negative social and economic 
impacts for U.S. fishermen that depend upon catching the available 
quota within the time periods designated in the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP and amendments. Therefore, the AA finds there is also good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec.  635.23(a)(4) and is exempt 
from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: May 15, 2019.
Kelly L. Denit,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-10455 Filed 5-15-19; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P