Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, 23014-23016 [2019-10567]

Download as PDF jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 23014 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules fees, it may require that the requester provide proof of identity. (4) In cases in which the Committee requires advance payment, the request will not be considered received and further work will not be completed until the required payment is received. If the requester does not pay the advance payment within 30 calendar days after the date of the Committee’s fee determination, the request will be closed. (j) Other statutes specifically providing for fees. The fee schedule of this section does not apply to fees charged under any statute that specifically requires an agency to set and collect fees for particular types of records. In instances where records responsive to a request are subject to a statutorily-based fee schedule program, the Committee shall inform the requester of the contact information for that program. (k) Requirements for waiver or reduction of fees. (1) Requesters may seek a waiver of fees by submitting a written application demonstrating how disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. (2) The Committee will furnish records responsive to a request without charge or at a reduced rate when it determines, based on all available information, that the factors described in paragraphs (k)(2)(i) through (ii) of this section are satisfied: (i) Disclosure of the requested information would shed light on the operations or activities of the government. The subject of the request must concern identifiable operations or activities of the Federal Government with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated. (ii) Disclosure of the requested information is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of those operations or activities. This factor is satisfied when the following criteria are met: (A) Disclosure of the requested records must be meaningfully informative about the Committee operations or activities. The disclosure of information that already is in the public domain, in either the same or a substantially identical form, would not be meaningfully informative if nothing new would be added to the public’s understanding. (B) The disclosure must contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:36 May 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 subject, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requester. A requester’s expertise in the subject area as well as the requester’s ability and intention to effectively convey information to the public must be considered. The Committee ordinarily will presume that a representative of the news media will satisfy this consideration. (iii) The disclosure must not be primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. To determine whether disclosure of the requested information is primarily in the commercial interest of the requester, the Committee will consider the following criteria: (A) The Committee must identify whether the requester has any commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure. A commercial interest includes any commercial, trade, or for profit interest. Requesters must be given an opportunity to provide explanatory information regarding this consideration. (B) If there is an identified commercial interest, the Committee must determine whether that is the primary interest furthered by the request. A waiver or reduction of fees is justified when the requirements of paragraphs (k)(2)(i) through (ii) of this section are satisfied and any commercial interest is not the primary interest furthered by the request. The Committee ordinarily will presume that when a news media requester has satisfied the requirements of paragraphs (k)(2)(i) through (ii) of this section, the request is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. Disclosure to data brokers or others who merely compile and market government information for direct economic return will not be presumed to primarily serve the public interest. (3) Where only some of the records to be released satisfy the requirements for a waiver of fees, a waiver shall be granted for those records. (4) Requests for a waiver or reduction of fees should be made when the request is first submitted to the Committee and should address the criteria referenced above. A requester may submit a fee waiver request at a later time as long as the underlying record request is pending or on administrative appeal. When a requester who has committed to pay fees subsequently asks for a waiver of those fees and that waiver is denied, the requester must pay any costs incurred up to the date the fee waiver request was received. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 51–8.11 Other Rights and Services. Nothing in this subpart shall be construed to entitle any person, as of right, to any service or to the disclosure of any record to which such person is not entitled under the FOIA. Patricia Briscoe, Deputy Director, Business Operations, (Pricing and Information Management). [FR Doc. 2019–08336 Filed 5–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 RIN 0648–BI59 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS); request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the availability of the scoping document on Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) and its intent to prepare an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA Given revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act National Standard 1 (NS1) guidelines, NMFS is exploring options related to the implementation of those new guidelines as they relate to annual catch limits (ACLs) for Atlantic sharks in the HMS management unit. In the scoping document, NMFS begins the process for re-examining how to establish these ACLs, including an examination of how to establish the acceptable biological catch (ABC) and account for uncertainty arising from the stock assessment and the impacts to the management measures. NMFS expects to consider the comments received on the scoping document for developing Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. NMFS will announce the date and times for the scoping meetings in a separate Federal Register notice at a later date. DATES: Topics included in this NOI will be discussed at the HMS Advisory Panel, May 21–23, 2019. Additional SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules scoping meetings and a conference call will be announced in a subsequent notice in the Federal Register. Please see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this NOI for more specifics regarding the HMS Advisory Panel meeting. NMFS requests receipt of any comments on the scoping document by July 31, 2019. ADDRESSES: The presentation at the HMS Advisory Panel will be held at the Sheraton, 8777 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. You may submit comments on the scoping document, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2019–0040, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190040, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Cooper, NMFS/SF1, 1315 EastWest Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). The Scoping Document on Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan and supporting documents are available from the HMS Management Division website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantichighly-migratory-species, or contact Ian Miller by phone at 301–427–8503 for hard copies. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ian Miller or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301– 427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that any FMP or FMP amendment be consistent with ten National Standards. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:36 May 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 Specifically, NS1 requires that conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery for the United States fishing industry. In 2016, NMFS revised the NS1 guidelines to improve and streamline them, enhance their utility for managers and the public, and to facilitate compliance with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and provide management flexibility in doing so. The revisions address a range of issues, including providing guidance on phasing in changes to catch limits and carrying over unused quota from one year to the next (81 FR 71858; October 18, 2016). With the changes in the NS1 guidelines and given that NMFS is seeking additional management flexibility in establishment of shark reference points, NMFS is exploring options related to the implementation of those new provisions as it relates to shark ACLs. Shark stock assessments conducted by the SouthEast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process and conducted by the science branch of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Species are assessed individually to the extent possible, with matching TACs. In some cases, the available data are not sufficient for estimating a TAC for use in management (e.g., dusky shark). Also, in some cases, TACs for individual species may be aggregated into species complexes for management purposes (e.g., pelagic shark complex, large coastal shark complex, etc.). Since Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP, NMFS has set the acceptable biological catch (ABC), overfishing limit (OFL), and overall ACL for these stocks equal to the TAC. NMFS has used this ABC to calculate the shark sector ACLs and commercial quotas for the fishery. In the NS1 guidelines, NMFS defines the ABC as a level of a stock or stock complex’s annual catch, which is based on an ABC control rule that accounts for the scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL, any other scientific uncertainty, and the Council’s risk policy (see 50 CFR 600.310(f)(1)(ii)). NMFS defines ACL as a limit on the total annual catch of a stock or stock complex, which cannot exceed the ABC, which serves as the basis for invoking AMs. An ACL may be divided into sector-ACLs (see 50 CFR 600.310(f)(1)(iii)). For the prohibited shark complex, where commercial and recreational retention and landings are not allowed, NMFS has, consistent with NS1 guideline provisions, set the ACL equal to zero, PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 23015 although a small amount of bycatch occurs during other fishing operations. In the scoping document, NMFS begins the process for re-examining how to establish the ACLs for shark species that are in the HMS management unit based on the 2016 final rule updating the NS1 guidelines (81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016), and examines how to establish the ABC and account for uncertainty arising from the stock assessment and the impacts to the management measures. Additionally, this document discusses how to establish ACLs in the absence of a full stock assessment and considers changes to quota carry-over provisions. The HMS shark regulations govern conservation and management of sharks in the management unit, under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. For sharks, the ‘‘management unit’’ means all fish of the species listed in Table 1 of Appendix A to 50 CFR part 635, in the western north Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. For some shark stocks caught in association with ICCAT fisheries, ICCAT adopts conservation and management measures, and NMFS implements them consistent with ATCA. NMFS welcomes comments on the appropriate scope of the action as it relates to the species with management measures under ICCAT. NMFS has several ongoing actions affecting HMS management that are, or soon will be, available for public comment. While each of these actions are separate, they are related in some ways, and the comment periods may overlap. Depending on the outcomes, one action could have impacts on other actions. The following summarizes these other actions for the regulated community’s information and background. NMFS recently released its ‘‘Draft Three-Year Review of the Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) Program.’’ The IBQ Program, adopted in Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7), is a catch share program that introduced individual vessel accountability for bluefin bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. Formal reviews of such catch share programs are required to evaluate whether their objectives are met. In Amendment 7, NMFS proposed and finalized a plan to formally evaluate the success and performance of the IBQ Program after three years of operation and to provide the HMS Advisory Panel with a publicly-available written document with its findings. NMFS also recently released a document (Amendment 13 Issues and Options Paper) for use in 2019 for E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1 23016 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 21, 2019 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS scoping, a public process during which NMFS will consider a range of issues and objectives, as well as possible options for bluefin tuna management. The options being presented in the Issues and Options Paper consider the preliminary results of the Draft ThreeYear Review and respond to recent changes in the bluefin fishery and input from the public and HMS Advisory Panel. The options include refining the IBQ Program; reassessing allocation of bluefin tuna quotas (including the potential elimination or phasing out of the Purse Seine category); and other regulatory provisions regarding bluefin directed fisheries and bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery, to determine if existing measures are the best means of achieving current management objectives for bluefin tuna management. During scoping, public feedback will be accepted via written comments or scoping meetings as described in separate Federal Register notices. NMFS also is currently in the process of developing a Proposed Rule to Modify Pelagic Longline Bluefin Tuna Area-Based and Weak Hook Management Measures. To analyze the potential environmental effects of a range of alternatives, NMFS recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS evaluates whether current area-based and gear management measures remain necessary to reduce and/or maintain low numbers of bluefin tuna discards and interactions in the pelagic longline fishery, given more recent management measures, including the IBQ Program. The DEIS prefers alternatives that undertake a process to evaluate the need for the Northeastern United States Closed Area and the Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area; removes the Cape Hatteras Gear Restricted Area; and adjusts the Gulf of Mexico weak hook effective period from year-round to seasonal (January–June). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:36 May 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 The comment period for the DEIS and proposed rule are open through July 31, 2019. NMFS is holding four public hearings across the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast. There will also be two webinars that will serve as public hearings for interested members of the public from all geographic locations. After consideration of public comments, NMFS expects to finalize the rule in the late fall of 2019. The proposed rule related to this DEIS is expected to be released shortly. Finally, NMFS also released an Issues and Options Paper considering approaches to collect data and perform research in areas that are currently closed to certain gears or fishing activities for Atlantic HMS. Such research will help evaluate and support spatial fisheries management for Atlantic HMS. ‘‘Spatial management’’ refers to a suite of fisheries conservation and management measures that are based on geographic area. When some spatial management tools, such as closed areas, are deployed, the collection of fishery-dependent data is reduced or eliminated. This loss of data can compromise effective fisheries management. The Issues and Options Paper considers approaches to collect data and perform research in areas that may otherwise restrict commercial or recreational fishing, making the collection of fisheries-dependent data challenging or not possible. During scoping, public feedback will be accepted via written comments or at scoping meetings as described in separate Federal Register notices. Request for Comments NMFS anticipates changes to management of the shark species that are in the HMS management unit. Based on the guidelines for NS1. This notice requests additional information and comments from the public related to the PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 establishment of TACs and ACLs. The HMS shark regulations govern conservation and management of sharks in the management unit, under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. For sharks, the ‘‘management unit’’ means all fish of the species listed in Table 1 of Appendix A to 50 CFR part 635, in the western north Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. For some shark stocks caught in association with ICCAT fisheries, ICCAT adopts conservation and management measures, and NMFS implements them consistent with ATCA. NMFS welcomes comments on the appropriate scope of the action as it relates to the species with management measures under ICCAT. The document includes a summary of the anticipated purpose and need for the FMP amendment, and the potential environmental, social, and economic impacts of some potential conservation and management options. The scoping document is available online at the HMS website: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantichighly-migratory-species. The scoping meetings and a conference call will be announced in a subsequent notice in the Federal Register. The comments received on the scoping document will be considered to assist in the development of the upcoming amendment to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP. NMFS anticipates that a proposed rule and draft environment impact statement (DEIS) will be available in late 2019 and the Final Amendment 14 and its related documents will be available in 2020. Dated: May 16, 2019. Kelly L. Denit, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–10567 Filed 5–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21MYP1.SGM 21MYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 98 (Tuesday, May 21, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23014-23016]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-10567]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

RIN 0648-BI59


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Amendment 14 to the 2006 
Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS); request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of the scoping document on 
Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) and its intent to 
prepare an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA Given 
revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act National Standard 1 (NS1) guidelines, NMFS is exploring options 
related to the implementation of those new guidelines as they relate to 
annual catch limits (ACLs) for Atlantic sharks in the HMS management 
unit. In the scoping document, NMFS begins the process for re-examining 
how to establish these ACLs, including an examination of how to 
establish the acceptable biological catch (ABC) and account for 
uncertainty arising from the stock assessment and the impacts to the 
management measures. NMFS expects to consider the comments received on 
the scoping document for developing Amendment 14 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP. NMFS will announce the date and times for the 
scoping meetings in a separate Federal Register notice at a later date.

DATES: Topics included in this NOI will be discussed at the HMS 
Advisory Panel, May 21-23, 2019. Additional

[[Page 23015]]

scoping meetings and a conference call will be announced in a 
subsequent notice in the Federal Register. Please see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this NOI for more specifics regarding the HMS 
Advisory Panel meeting. NMFS requests receipt of any comments on the 
scoping document by July 31, 2019.

ADDRESSES: The presentation at the HMS Advisory Panel will be held at 
the Sheraton, 8777 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. You may 
submit comments on the scoping document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2019-
0040, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0040, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Cooper, NMFS/SF1, 
1315 East-West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    The Scoping Document on Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan and 
supporting documents are available from the HMS Management Division 
website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species, or contact Ian Miller by phone at 301-427-8503 for 
hard copies.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ian Miller or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 
301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that any FMP or FMP amendment be 
consistent with ten National Standards. Specifically, NS1 requires that 
conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while 
achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery 
for the United States fishing industry. In 2016, NMFS revised the NS1 
guidelines to improve and streamline them, enhance their utility for 
managers and the public, and to facilitate compliance with the 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and provide management 
flexibility in doing so.
    The revisions address a range of issues, including providing 
guidance on phasing in changes to catch limits and carrying over unused 
quota from one year to the next (81 FR 71858; October 18, 2016). With 
the changes in the NS1 guidelines and given that NMFS is seeking 
additional management flexibility in establishment of shark reference 
points, NMFS is exploring options related to the implementation of 
those new provisions as it relates to shark ACLs.
    Shark stock assessments conducted by the SouthEast Data, 
Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process and conducted by the science 
branch of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic 
Tunas (ICCAT). Species are assessed individually to the extent 
possible, with matching TACs. In some cases, the available data are not 
sufficient for estimating a TAC for use in management (e.g., dusky 
shark). Also, in some cases, TACs for individual species may be 
aggregated into species complexes for management purposes (e.g., 
pelagic shark complex, large coastal shark complex, etc.).
    Since Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP, NMFS 
has set the acceptable biological catch (ABC), overfishing limit (OFL), 
and overall ACL for these stocks equal to the TAC. NMFS has used this 
ABC to calculate the shark sector ACLs and commercial quotas for the 
fishery. In the NS1 guidelines, NMFS defines the ABC as a level of a 
stock or stock complex's annual catch, which is based on an ABC control 
rule that accounts for the scientific uncertainty in the estimate of 
OFL, any other scientific uncertainty, and the Council's risk policy 
(see 50 CFR 600.310(f)(1)(ii)). NMFS defines ACL as a limit on the 
total annual catch of a stock or stock complex, which cannot exceed the 
ABC, which serves as the basis for invoking AMs. An ACL may be divided 
into sector-ACLs (see 50 CFR 600.310(f)(1)(iii)). For the prohibited 
shark complex, where commercial and recreational retention and landings 
are not allowed, NMFS has, consistent with NS1 guideline provisions, 
set the ACL equal to zero, although a small amount of bycatch occurs 
during other fishing operations.
    In the scoping document, NMFS begins the process for re-examining 
how to establish the ACLs for shark species that are in the HMS 
management unit based on the 2016 final rule updating the NS1 
guidelines (81 FR 71858, October 18, 2016), and examines how to 
establish the ABC and account for uncertainty arising from the stock 
assessment and the impacts to the management measures. Additionally, 
this document discusses how to establish ACLs in the absence of a full 
stock assessment and considers changes to quota carry-over provisions. 
The HMS shark regulations govern conservation and management of sharks 
in the management unit, under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. For sharks, the ``management unit'' means all fish of the species 
listed in Table 1 of Appendix A to 50 CFR part 635, in the western 
north Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean 
Sea. For some shark stocks caught in association with ICCAT fisheries, 
ICCAT adopts conservation and management measures, and NMFS implements 
them consistent with ATCA. NMFS welcomes comments on the appropriate 
scope of the action as it relates to the species with management 
measures under ICCAT.
    NMFS has several ongoing actions affecting HMS management that are, 
or soon will be, available for public comment. While each of these 
actions are separate, they are related in some ways, and the comment 
periods may overlap. Depending on the outcomes, one action could have 
impacts on other actions. The following summarizes these other actions 
for the regulated community's information and background.
    NMFS recently released its ``Draft Three-Year Review of the 
Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) Program.'' The IBQ Program, adopted in 
Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7), is a catch 
share program that introduced individual vessel accountability for 
bluefin bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. Formal reviews of such 
catch share programs are required to evaluate whether their objectives 
are met. In Amendment 7, NMFS proposed and finalized a plan to formally 
evaluate the success and performance of the IBQ Program after three 
years of operation and to provide the HMS Advisory Panel with a 
publicly-available written document with its findings.
    NMFS also recently released a document (Amendment 13 Issues and 
Options Paper) for use in 2019 for

[[Page 23016]]

scoping, a public process during which NMFS will consider a range of 
issues and objectives, as well as possible options for bluefin tuna 
management. The options being presented in the Issues and Options Paper 
consider the preliminary results of the Draft Three-Year Review and 
respond to recent changes in the bluefin fishery and input from the 
public and HMS Advisory Panel. The options include refining the IBQ 
Program; reassessing allocation of bluefin tuna quotas (including the 
potential elimination or phasing out of the Purse Seine category); and 
other regulatory provisions regarding bluefin directed fisheries and 
bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery, to determine if existing 
measures are the best means of achieving current management objectives 
for bluefin tuna management. During scoping, public feedback will be 
accepted via written comments or scoping meetings as described in 
separate Federal Register notices.
    NMFS also is currently in the process of developing a Proposed Rule 
to Modify Pelagic Longline Bluefin Tuna Area-Based and Weak Hook 
Management Measures. To analyze the potential environmental effects of 
a range of alternatives, NMFS recently released a Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS evaluates whether current area-based 
and gear management measures remain necessary to reduce and/or maintain 
low numbers of bluefin tuna discards and interactions in the pelagic 
longline fishery, given more recent management measures, including the 
IBQ Program. The DEIS prefers alternatives that undertake a process to 
evaluate the need for the Northeastern United States Closed Area and 
the Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area; removes the Cape Hatteras Gear 
Restricted Area; and adjusts the Gulf of Mexico weak hook effective 
period from year-round to seasonal (January-June). The comment period 
for the DEIS and proposed rule are open through July 31, 2019. NMFS is 
holding four public hearings across the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
Coast. There will also be two webinars that will serve as public 
hearings for interested members of the public from all geographic 
locations. After consideration of public comments, NMFS expects to 
finalize the rule in the late fall of 2019. The proposed rule related 
to this DEIS is expected to be released shortly.
    Finally, NMFS also released an Issues and Options Paper considering 
approaches to collect data and perform research in areas that are 
currently closed to certain gears or fishing activities for Atlantic 
HMS. Such research will help evaluate and support spatial fisheries 
management for Atlantic HMS. ``Spatial management'' refers to a suite 
of fisheries conservation and management measures that are based on 
geographic area. When some spatial management tools, such as closed 
areas, are deployed, the collection of fishery-dependent data is 
reduced or eliminated. This loss of data can compromise effective 
fisheries management. The Issues and Options Paper considers approaches 
to collect data and perform research in areas that may otherwise 
restrict commercial or recreational fishing, making the collection of 
fisheries-dependent data challenging or not possible. During scoping, 
public feedback will be accepted via written comments or at scoping 
meetings as described in separate Federal Register notices.

Request for Comments

    NMFS anticipates changes to management of the shark species that 
are in the HMS management unit. Based on the guidelines for NS1. This 
notice requests additional information and comments from the public 
related to the establishment of TACs and ACLs. The HMS shark 
regulations govern conservation and management of sharks in the 
management unit, under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. For 
sharks, the ``management unit'' means all fish of the species listed in 
Table 1 of Appendix A to 50 CFR part 635, in the western north Atlantic 
Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. For some 
shark stocks caught in association with ICCAT fisheries, ICCAT adopts 
conservation and management measures, and NMFS implements them 
consistent with ATCA. NMFS welcomes comments on the appropriate scope 
of the action as it relates to the species with management measures 
under ICCAT. The document includes a summary of the anticipated purpose 
and need for the FMP amendment, and the potential environmental, 
social, and economic impacts of some potential conservation and 
management options. The scoping document is available online at the HMS 
website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species. The scoping meetings and a conference call will be 
announced in a subsequent notice in the Federal Register. The comments 
received on the scoping document will be considered to assist in the 
development of the upcoming amendment to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic 
HMS FMP. NMFS anticipates that a proposed rule and draft environment 
impact statement (DEIS) will be available in late 2019 and the Final 
Amendment 14 and its related documents will be available in 2020.

    Dated: May 16, 2019.
Kelly L. Denit,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-10567 Filed 5-20-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P