Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific Research, Display, and Shark Research Fishery Permits; Letters of Acknowledgment, 64277-64280 [2019-25276]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 225 / Thursday, November 21, 2019 / Notices p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, November 25, 2019. Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who wish to speak but cannot be accommodated on the agenda, and those who are unable to attend are invited to submit written statements to the NCST, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 8604, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899–8604, or electronically by email to Benjamin.Davis@nist.gov. Anyone wishing to attend this meeting via teleconference must register by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, November 25, 2019, to attend. Please submit your full name, email address, and phone number to Benjamin Davis at Benjamin.Davis@nist.gov; his phone number is (301) 975–6071. Kevin A. Kimball, Chief of Staff. [FR Doc. 2019–25183 Filed 11–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Title: Marine Recreational Information Program Social Network Analysis InPerson Survey. OMB Control Number: 0648–xxxx. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular (new collection). Number of Respondents: 180. Average Hours per Response: 0.5. Burden Hours: 90. Needs and Uses: NOAA Fisheries needs to educate and inform anglers about Marine Recreational Information Programs (MRIP) generally, and the agency is looking to identify how and where anglers get and share their information to more effectively communicate with recreational anglers on data collection issues by focusing communications efforts on important channels. In 2020, MRIP will conduct the Social Network Analysis In-Person Survey, which is the follow up to the 2019 Social Network Analysis Mail Survey. The subsequent analysis will VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Nov 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 allow MRIP to more effectively engage with its audiences by identifying key influencers and information pathways, and identifying the areas of greatest need and greatest opportunity for relationship-building. Data gathered will include angler use of and trust in different sources and channels of fisheries management information. These data will be used to identify key information sources for recreational anglers, evaluate regional differences in information sources, and evaluate recreational angler confidence in management and data collection efforts. The information obtained will allow MRIP to more effectively communicate with recreational anglers on data collection issues by focusing communications efforts on important network channels. Affected Public: Individuals or Households. Frequency: One-time reporting. Respondent’s Obligation: Voluntary. This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. Sheleen Dumas, Departmental Lead PRA Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Commerce Department. [FR Doc. 2019–25232 Filed 11–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XT025] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific Research, Display, and Shark Research Fishery Permits; Letters of Acknowledgment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments; public webinar. AGENCY: NMFS announces its intent to issue exempted fishing permits (EFPs), scientific research permits (SRPs), display permits, letters of acknowledgment (LOAs), and shark research fishery permits for Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) in 2020. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64277 EFPs and related permits would authorize collection of a limited number of HMS, including tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks, from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific research, data collection, the investigation of bycatch, and public display, among other things. LOAs acknowledge that scientific research activity aboard a scientific research vessel is being conducted. Generally, EFPs and related permits would be valid from the date of issuance through December 31, 2020, unless otherwise specified, subject to the terms and conditions of individual permits. This notice also schedules a public webinar/conference call for applicants, during which NMFS will provide a general overview of the EFP program and hold a question and answer session. DATES: Written comments received in response to this notice will be considered by NMFS when issuing EFPs and related permits and must be received on or before December 23, 2019. ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted 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-20190132, click the ‘‘Comment Now’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell, phone: (301) 427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Issuance of EFPs and related permits are necessary because HMS regulations (e.g., regarding fishing seasons, prohibited species, authorized gear, closed areas, and minimum sizes) may otherwise prohibit the collection of live animals and/or biological samples for data collection and public display purposes or may otherwise prohibit certain fishing activity that NMFS has an interest in permitting or acknowledging. Pursuant to 50 CFR parts 600 and 635, a NMFS Regional Administrator or Director may authorize, for limited testing, public display, data collection, exploratory fishing, compensation fishing, conservation engineering, health and safety surveys, environmental cleanup, and/or hazard removal purposes, the target or incidental harvest of species managed under an FMP or fishery E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 64278 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 225 / Thursday, November 21, 2019 / Notices regulations that would otherwise be prohibited. These permits exempt permit holders from the specific portions of the regulations that may otherwise prohibit the collection of HMS for public education, public display, or scientific research. Permit holders are not exempted from the regulations in their entirety. Collection of HMS under EFPs, SRPs, display, and shark research fishery permits represents a small portion of the overall fishing mortality for HMS, and this mortality is counted against the quota of the species harvested, as appropriate and applicable. The terms and conditions of individual permits are unique; however, all permits will include reporting requirements, limit the number and/or species of HMS to be collected, and only authorize collection in Federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. EFPs and related permits are issued under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and/or the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). Regulations at 50 CFR 600.745 and 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted fishing, and exempted public display and educational activities with respect to Atlantic HMS. Because the MagnusonStevens Act states that scientific research activity which is conducted on a scientific research vessel is not fishing, NMFS issues LOAs and not EFPs for bona fide research activities (e.g., scientific research being conducted from a research vessel and not a commercial or recreational fishing vessel) involving species that are only regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (e.g., most species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS generally does not consider recreational or commercial vessels to be bona fide research vessels. However, if the vessels have been contracted only to conduct research and not participate in any commercial or recreational fishing activities during that research, NMFS may consider those vessels as bona fide research platforms while conducting the specified research. For example, in the past, NMFS has determined that commercial pelagic longline vessels assisting with population surveys for sharks may be considered ‘‘bona fide research vessels’’ while engaged only in the specified research. For such activities, NMFS reviews scientific research plans and may issue an LOA acknowledging that the proposed activity is scientific research under the Magnuson-Stevens VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Nov 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 Act. Examples of research acknowledged by LOAs include tagging and releasing sharks during bottom longline surveys to understand the distribution and seasonal abundance of different shark species, and collecting and sampling sharks caught during trawl surveys for life history and bycatch studies. While scientific research is not defined as ‘‘fishing’’ subject to the MSA, scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. Therefore, NMFS issues SRPs that authorize researchers to collect HMS from bona fide research vessels for collection of species managed under this statute (e.g., tunas, swordfish, and billfish)). One example of research conducted under SRPs consists of scientific surveys of tunas, swordfish, and billfish conducted from NOAA research vessels. EFPs are issued for activities conducted from commercial or recreational fishing vessels. Examples of activities conducted under EFPs include collection of young-of-year bluefin tuna for genetic research; conducting billfish larval tows from private vessels to determine billfish habitat use, life history, and population structure, and tagging sharks caught on commercial or recreational fishing gear to determine post-release mortality rates. NMFS is also seeking public comment on its intent to issue display permits for the collection of sharks and other HMS for public display in 2020. Collection of sharks and other HMS sought for public display in aquaria often involves collection when the commercial fishing seasons are closed, collection of otherwise prohibited species (e.g., sand tiger sharks), and collection of fish below the regulatory minimum size. Under Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan, NMFS determined that dusky sharks cannot be collected for public display. The majority of EFPs and related permits described in this annual notice relate to scientific sampling and tagging of Atlantic HMS within existing quotas and the impacts of the activities to be conducted usually have been previously analyzed in various environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for Atlantic HMS management. In most such cases, NMFS intends to issue these permits without additional opportunity for public comment beyond what is provided in this notice. Occasionally, NMFS receives applications for research activities that were not anticipated, or for research that is outside the scope of general scientific sampling and tagging of Atlantic HMS, or rarely, for research PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 that is particularly controversial. Should NMFS receive such applications, NMFS will provide additional opportunity for public comment, consistent with the regulations at 50 CFR 600.745. On September 13, 2018, NMFS received an application for an EFP requesting an exemption from the regulations that prohibit the retention of bluefin tuna with unauthorized gear onboard. See 50 CFR 635.19(b). This application was submitted by the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance (CCCFA). The applicants suggested that with the use of electronic monitoring (EM) and through issuance of an EFP, there would be sufficient at-sea monitoring to verify the catch of bluefin tuna occurred with authorized gear (e.g., rod and reel and harpoon gear) and not on the unauthorized gear onboard the vessel (e.g., benthic longline, jigging machines, handgear, demersal gillnet, or otter trawl). An EFP was issued to the CCCFA on June 12, 2019 that exempted eight vessels from 50 CFR 635.19(b). Since issuance of the permit, 13 trips have been taken from May through September in New England, four bluefin tuna were retained, and one tuna was lost at the boat. On two of the 13 trips, harpoon gear was used, but no fish were harvested. There were a total of two sharks caught on rod and reel gear both of which were released alive. Comments are invited specifically on these issues related to issuance of a similar permit to the CCCFA this year. In addition, Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) implemented a shark research fishery. This research fishery is conducted under the auspices of the exempted fishing permit program. Shark research fishery permit holders assist NMFS in collecting valuable shark life history and other scientific data required in shark stock assessments. Since the shark research fishery was established in 2008, the research fishery has allowed for: The collection of fishery dependent data for current and future stock assessments; the operation of cooperative research to meet NMFS’ ongoing research objectives; the collection of updated life-history information used in the sandbar shark (and other species) stock assessment; the collection of data on habitat preferences that might help reduce fishery interactions through bycatch mitigation; the evaluation of the utility of the mid-Atlantic closed area on the recovery of dusky sharks; the collection of hook-timer and pop-up satellite archival tag information to determine atvessel and post-release mortality of dusky sharks; and the collection of sharks to update the weight conversion E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 64279 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 225 / Thursday, November 21, 2019 / Notices factor from dressed weight to whole weight. Fishermen who wish to participate must fill out an application for a shark research fishery permit under the exempted fishing program. Shark research fishery participants are subject to 100-percent observer coverage. All non-prohibited shark species brought back to the vessel dead must be retained and will count against the appropriate quotas of the shark research fishery participant. In recent years, all participants of the shark research fishery were limited to a very small number of dusky shark mortalities on a regional basis. Once the designated number of dusky shark mortalities occurs in a specific region certain terms and conditions are applied (e.g. soak time limits). If subsequent interactions occur in the region all shark research fishery activities must stop within that region. Participants would continue to be limited in the number of sets allowed on each trip and the number of hooks allowed on each set. All participants are also limited to a maximum of 500 hooks onboard the vessel while on a shark research fishery trip. A Federal Register notice describing the specific objectives for the shark research fishery in 2020 and requesting applications from interested and eligible shark fishermen is expected to publish in the near future. NMFS requests public comment regarding NMFS’ intent to issue shark research fishery permits in 2020 during the comment period of this notice. The number of specimens that have been authorized thus far under EFPs and other related permits for 2019, as well as the number of specimens collected in 2018, is summarized in Table 1. The total amount of collections in 2018 were within the analyzed quotas for all quota managed Atlantic HMS species. The number of specimens collected in 2019 will be available when all 2019 interim and annual reports are submitted to NMFS. In all cases, mortalities associated with EFPs, SRPs, or display permits (except for larvae) are counted against the appropriate quota. NMFS issued a total of 39 EFPs, SRPs, display permits, and LOAs in 2018 for the collection of HMS and 6 shark research fishery permits. As of October 28, 2019, NMFS has issued a total of 40 EFPs, SRPs, display permits, and LOAs and 5 shark research fishery permits. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF HMS EXEMPTED FISHING PERMITS ISSUED IN 2018 AND 2019, OTHER THAN SHARK RESEARCH FISHERY PERMITS 2018 Permit type Authorized fish (num) ** Permits issued ** EFP: HMS .............................................................................. Shark ............................................................................. Tuna .............................................................................. SRP: HMS .............................................................................. Shark ............................................................................. Tuna .............................................................................. Display: HMS .............................................................................. Shark ............................................................................. Total ....................................................................... LOA: * Shark ............................................................................. 2019 Fish kept/ discarded dead (num) Authorized fish (num) ** Permits issued ** 2 4 2 162 0 750 6 3 2 7 4 2 120 20 750 6 1 1 2,030 487 0 1 653 0 4 1 0 549 486 0 2 6 84 185 1 50 2 5 82 193 24 3,698 716 25 3,698 15 185 1,109 15 0 * LOAs acknowledge scientific research activity but do not authorize activity. Thus, the number of sharks in the authorized fish column are estimates of harvest under LOAs. Permittees are encouraged to report all fishing activities in a timely manner. ** Some shark EFPs, SRPs, and LOAs were issued for the purposes of tagging and the opportunistic sampling of sharks and were not expected to result in large amounts of mortality, thus no limits on sampling were set. Given this, some mortality may occur throughout 2019 and will be accounted for under the 60 metric ton shark research and display quota. Note: ‘‘HMS’’ refers to multiple species being collected under a given permit type. Final decisions on the issuance of any EFPs, SRPs, display permits, and shark research fishery permits will depend on the submission of all required information about the proposed activities, NMFS’ review of public comments received on this notice, an applicant’s reporting history on past permits, if vessels or applicants were issued any prior violations of marine resource laws administered by NOAA, consistency with relevant NEPA VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Nov 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 documents, and any consultations with appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, states, or Federal agencies. NMFS does not anticipate any significant environmental impacts from the issuance of these EFPs, consistent with the assessment of such activities within the environmental impacts analyses in existing HMS actions, including the 1999 FMP, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the Environmental PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Assessment for the 2012 Swordfish Specifications, and the Environmental Assessment for the 2015 Final Bluefin Tuna Quota and Atlantic Tuna Fisheries Management Measures. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1 64280 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 225 / Thursday, November 21, 2019 / Notices Dated: November 18, 2019. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–25276 Filed 11–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No. PTO–P–2019–0039] 2019 is available at https:// www.uspto.gov/TrialPracticeGuide3 and the Practice Guide update from August 2018 is available at https://go.usa.gov/ xU7GP. The full version of the original August 2012 Practice Guide continues to be available for reference on the USPTO website at https://go.usa.gov/ xU7GK. Comments regarding the Practice Guide can be sent to PTABAIATrialSuggestions@uspto.gov. Dated: November 14, 2019. Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Office Patent Trial Practice Guide, November 2019 Edition United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: [FR Doc. 2019–25281 Filed 11–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–16–P The United States Patent and Trademark Office (‘‘Office’’) is issuing a consolidated Office Patent Trial Practice Guide (‘‘Practice Guide’’) to incorporate prior updates to the original August 2012 Practice Guide. The Office publishes the Practice Guide to provide practitioners with guidance on typical procedures and timeframes for taking action in post-grant trials implemented following the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (‘‘AIA’’), as well as to bring greater procedural consistency among panels of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (‘‘Board’’). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Tierney and William Fink, Vice Chief Administrative Patent Judges, by telephone at (571) 272–9797. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office is issuing a consolidated Practice Guide to incorporate prior updates to the original August 2012 Practice Guide. The Office previously issued updates to the original 2012 Practice Guide in August 2018 and July 2019. The consolidated Practice Guide includes no substantive changes from the prior updates or current Board practices. The topic of such revisions and updates include: • Institution of trial after SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018); • use of sur-replies in lieu of observations; • how parties may contact the Board to request an initial conference call; • use of word counts; • updates to the sample scheduling order for derivation proceedings; and • updates to the default protective order. The November 2019 edition of the Practice Guide may be viewed or downloaded from the USPTO website at https://www.uspto.gov/ TrialPracticeGuideConsolidated. The earlier Practice Guide update from July SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:41 Nov 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery Meeting Notice Department of the Army, DoD. Notice of open committee meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: The Department of the Army is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal advisory committee meeting of the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery (ACANC), the Remember and Explore Subcommittee, and the Honor Subcommittee. These meetings are open to the public. For more information, please visit: http:// www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/About/ Advisory-Committee-on-ArlingtonNational-Cemetery/ACANC-Meetings. DATES: The Remember and Explore Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Honor Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The full Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery (ACANC) will meet on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: Arlington National Cemetery Welcome Center, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Matthew Davis; Alternate Designated Federal Officer for the Committee, in writing at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or by email at matthew.r.davis.civ@mail.mil, or by phone at 1–877–907–8585. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This meeting is being held under the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Sunshine in the Government Act of 1976 (U.S.C. 552b, as amended) and 41 Code of the Federal Regulations (CFR 102–3.150). Purpose of the Meeting: The primary purpose of the Remember & Explore Subcommittee is to recommend methods to maintain the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Monument, including the cracks in the large marble sarcophagus, the adjacent marble slabs, and the potential replacement marble stone for the sarcophagus already gifted to the Army; accomplish an independent assessment of requests to place commemorative monuments within ANC; and identify means to capture and convey ANC’s history, including Section 60 gravesite mementos, and improve the quality of visitors’ experiences now and for generations to come. The primary purpose of the Honor Subcommittee is to accomplish an independent assessment of methods to address the long-term future of the Army national cemeteries, including how best to extend the active burials and what ANC should focus on once all available space is used. The Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery is an independent Federal advisory committee chartered to provide the Secretary of the Army independent advice and recommendations on Arlington National Cemetery, including, but not limited to, cemetery administration, the erection of memorials at the cemetery, and master planning for the cemetery. The Secretary of the Army may act on the Committee’s advice and recommendations. Agenda: The Remember and Explore Subcommittee will receive briefings on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial plan; review the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Commemorative works proposal; and review the status of the educational outreach program efforts by ANC. The Honor Subcommittee will receive an update on the design and progress of the security fence project at Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall; a status report on the Southern Expansion project design and funding; an update on the Pentagon Memorial Fund Visitor Center and a briefing on the potential for further expansion into federal areas surrounding ANC. The Committee will receive an update briefing on the Southern expansion project; receive a state of the cemetery briefing; vote on a recommendation for placement of an OSS commemorative E:\FR\FM\21NON1.SGM 21NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 225 (Thursday, November 21, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64277-64280]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25276]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XT025]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Exempted Fishing, Scientific 
Research, Display, and Shark Research Fishery Permits; Letters of 
Acknowledgment

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

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments; public webinar.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces its intent to issue exempted fishing permits 
(EFPs), scientific research permits (SRPs), display permits, letters of 
acknowledgment (LOAs), and shark research fishery permits for Atlantic 
highly migratory species (HMS) in 2020. EFPs and related permits would 
authorize collection of a limited number of HMS, including tunas, 
swordfish, billfishes, and sharks, from Federal waters in the Atlantic 
Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific 
research, data collection, the investigation of bycatch, and public 
display, among other things. LOAs acknowledge that scientific research 
activity aboard a scientific research vessel is being conducted. 
Generally, EFPs and related permits would be valid from the date of 
issuance through December 31, 2020, unless otherwise specified, subject 
to the terms and conditions of individual permits. This notice also 
schedules a public webinar/conference call for applicants, during which 
NMFS will provide a general overview of the EFP program and hold a 
question and answer session.

DATES: Written comments received in response to this notice will be 
considered by NMFS when issuing EFPs and related permits and must be 
received on or before December 23, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted 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-2019-0132, click the 
``Comment Now'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach 
your comments.
     Mail: Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management 
Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 
20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Cockrell, phone: (301) 427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Issuance of EFPs and related permits are 
necessary because HMS regulations (e.g., regarding fishing seasons, 
prohibited species, authorized gear, closed areas, and minimum sizes) 
may otherwise prohibit the collection of live animals and/or biological 
samples for data collection and public display purposes or may 
otherwise prohibit certain fishing activity that NMFS has an interest 
in permitting or acknowledging. Pursuant to 50 CFR parts 600 and 635, a 
NMFS Regional Administrator or Director may authorize, for limited 
testing, public display, data collection, exploratory fishing, 
compensation fishing, conservation engineering, health and safety 
surveys, environmental cleanup, and/or hazard removal purposes, the 
target or incidental harvest of species managed under an FMP or fishery

[[Page 64278]]

regulations that would otherwise be prohibited. These permits exempt 
permit holders from the specific portions of the regulations that may 
otherwise prohibit the collection of HMS for public education, public 
display, or scientific research. Permit holders are not exempted from 
the regulations in their entirety. Collection of HMS under EFPs, SRPs, 
display, and shark research fishery permits represents a small portion 
of the overall fishing mortality for HMS, and this mortality is counted 
against the quota of the species harvested, as appropriate and 
applicable. The terms and conditions of individual permits are unique; 
however, all permits will include reporting requirements, limit the 
number and/or species of HMS to be collected, and only authorize 
collection in Federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and 
Caribbean Sea.
    EFPs and related permits are issued under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and/or the Atlantic 
Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). Regulations at 50 
CFR 600.745 and 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted 
fishing, and exempted public display and educational activities with 
respect to Atlantic HMS. Because the Magnuson-Stevens Act states that 
scientific research activity which is conducted on a scientific 
research vessel is not fishing, NMFS issues LOAs and not EFPs for bona 
fide research activities (e.g., scientific research being conducted 
from a research vessel and not a commercial or recreational fishing 
vessel) involving species that are only regulated under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act (e.g., most species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS 
generally does not consider recreational or commercial vessels to be 
bona fide research vessels. However, if the vessels have been 
contracted only to conduct research and not participate in any 
commercial or recreational fishing activities during that research, 
NMFS may consider those vessels as bona fide research platforms while 
conducting the specified research. For example, in the past, NMFS has 
determined that commercial pelagic longline vessels assisting with 
population surveys for sharks may be considered ``bona fide research 
vessels'' while engaged only in the specified research. For such 
activities, NMFS reviews scientific research plans and may issue an LOA 
acknowledging that the proposed activity is scientific research under 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Examples of research acknowledged by LOAs 
include tagging and releasing sharks during bottom longline surveys to 
understand the distribution and seasonal abundance of different shark 
species, and collecting and sampling sharks caught during trawl surveys 
for life history and bycatch studies.
    While scientific research is not defined as ``fishing'' subject to 
the MSA, scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. 
Therefore, NMFS issues SRPs that authorize researchers to collect HMS 
from bona fide research vessels for collection of species managed under 
this statute (e.g., tunas, swordfish, and billfish)). One example of 
research conducted under SRPs consists of scientific surveys of tunas, 
swordfish, and billfish conducted from NOAA research vessels.
    EFPs are issued for activities conducted from commercial or 
recreational fishing vessels. Examples of activities conducted under 
EFPs include collection of young-of-year bluefin tuna for genetic 
research; conducting billfish larval tows from private vessels to 
determine billfish habitat use, life history, and population structure, 
and tagging sharks caught on commercial or recreational fishing gear to 
determine post-release mortality rates.
    NMFS is also seeking public comment on its intent to issue display 
permits for the collection of sharks and other HMS for public display 
in 2020. Collection of sharks and other HMS sought for public display 
in aquaria often involves collection when the commercial fishing 
seasons are closed, collection of otherwise prohibited species (e.g., 
sand tiger sharks), and collection of fish below the regulatory minimum 
size. Under Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery 
Management Plan, NMFS determined that dusky sharks cannot be collected 
for public display.
    The majority of EFPs and related permits described in this annual 
notice relate to scientific sampling and tagging of Atlantic HMS within 
existing quotas and the impacts of the activities to be conducted 
usually have been previously analyzed in various environmental 
assessments and environmental impact statements for Atlantic HMS 
management. In most such cases, NMFS intends to issue these permits 
without additional opportunity for public comment beyond what is 
provided in this notice. Occasionally, NMFS receives applications for 
research activities that were not anticipated, or for research that is 
outside the scope of general scientific sampling and tagging of 
Atlantic HMS, or rarely, for research that is particularly 
controversial. Should NMFS receive such applications, NMFS will provide 
additional opportunity for public comment, consistent with the 
regulations at 50 CFR 600.745.
    On September 13, 2018, NMFS received an application for an EFP 
requesting an exemption from the regulations that prohibit the 
retention of bluefin tuna with unauthorized gear onboard. See 50 CFR 
635.19(b). This application was submitted by the Cape Cod Commercial 
Fishermen's Alliance (CCCFA). The applicants suggested that with the 
use of electronic monitoring (EM) and through issuance of an EFP, there 
would be sufficient at-sea monitoring to verify the catch of bluefin 
tuna occurred with authorized gear (e.g., rod and reel and harpoon 
gear) and not on the unauthorized gear onboard the vessel (e.g., 
benthic longline, jigging machines, handgear, demersal gillnet, or 
otter trawl). An EFP was issued to the CCCFA on June 12, 2019 that 
exempted eight vessels from 50 CFR 635.19(b). Since issuance of the 
permit, 13 trips have been taken from May through September in New 
England, four bluefin tuna were retained, and one tuna was lost at the 
boat. On two of the 13 trips, harpoon gear was used, but no fish were 
harvested. There were a total of two sharks caught on rod and reel gear 
both of which were released alive. Comments are invited specifically on 
these issues related to issuance of a similar permit to the CCCFA this 
year.
    In addition, Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) implemented a shark research fishery. This 
research fishery is conducted under the auspices of the exempted 
fishing permit program. Shark research fishery permit holders assist 
NMFS in collecting valuable shark life history and other scientific 
data required in shark stock assessments. Since the shark research 
fishery was established in 2008, the research fishery has allowed for: 
The collection of fishery dependent data for current and future stock 
assessments; the operation of cooperative research to meet NMFS' 
ongoing research objectives; the collection of updated life-history 
information used in the sandbar shark (and other species) stock 
assessment; the collection of data on habitat preferences that might 
help reduce fishery interactions through bycatch mitigation; the 
evaluation of the utility of the mid-Atlantic closed area on the 
recovery of dusky sharks; the collection of hook-timer and pop-up 
satellite archival tag information to determine at-vessel and post-
release mortality of dusky sharks; and the collection of sharks to 
update the weight conversion

[[Page 64279]]

factor from dressed weight to whole weight. Fishermen who wish to 
participate must fill out an application for a shark research fishery 
permit under the exempted fishing program. Shark research fishery 
participants are subject to 100-percent observer coverage. All non-
prohibited shark species brought back to the vessel dead must be 
retained and will count against the appropriate quotas of the shark 
research fishery participant. In recent years, all participants of the 
shark research fishery were limited to a very small number of dusky 
shark mortalities on a regional basis. Once the designated number of 
dusky shark mortalities occurs in a specific region certain terms and 
conditions are applied (e.g. soak time limits). If subsequent 
interactions occur in the region all shark research fishery activities 
must stop within that region. Participants would continue to be limited 
in the number of sets allowed on each trip and the number of hooks 
allowed on each set. All participants are also limited to a maximum of 
500 hooks onboard the vessel while on a shark research fishery trip. A 
Federal Register notice describing the specific objectives for the 
shark research fishery in 2020 and requesting applications from 
interested and eligible shark fishermen is expected to publish in the 
near future. NMFS requests public comment regarding NMFS' intent to 
issue shark research fishery permits in 2020 during the comment period 
of this notice.
    The number of specimens that have been authorized thus far under 
EFPs and other related permits for 2019, as well as the number of 
specimens collected in 2018, is summarized in Table 1. The total amount 
of collections in 2018 were within the analyzed quotas for all quota 
managed Atlantic HMS species. The number of specimens collected in 2019 
will be available when all 2019 interim and annual reports are 
submitted to NMFS.
    In all cases, mortalities associated with EFPs, SRPs, or display 
permits (except for larvae) are counted against the appropriate quota. 
NMFS issued a total of 39 EFPs, SRPs, display permits, and LOAs in 2018 
for the collection of HMS and 6 shark research fishery permits. As of 
October 28, 2019, NMFS has issued a total of 40 EFPs, SRPs, display 
permits, and LOAs and 5 shark research fishery permits.

   Table 1--Summary of HMS Exempted Fishing Permits Issued in 2018 and 2019, Other Than Shark Research Fishery
                                                     Permits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       2018                                    2019
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Permit type                                              Fish kept/
                                  Permits issued    Authorized    discarded dead  Permits issued    Authorized
                                        **         fish (num) **       (num)            **         fish (num) **
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EFP:
    HMS.........................               2             162               6               7             120
    Shark.......................               4               0               3               4              20
    Tuna........................               2             750               2               2             750
SRP:
    HMS.........................               6           2,030               1               4             549
    Shark.......................               1             487             653               1             486
    Tuna........................               1               0               0               0               0
Display:
    HMS.........................               2              84               1               2              82
    Shark.......................               6             185              50               5             193
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...................              24           3,698             716              25           3,698
LOA: *
    Shark.......................              15             185           1,109              15               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* LOAs acknowledge scientific research activity but do not authorize activity. Thus, the number of sharks in the
  authorized fish column are estimates of harvest under LOAs. Permittees are encouraged to report all fishing
  activities in a timely manner.
** Some shark EFPs, SRPs, and LOAs were issued for the purposes of tagging and the opportunistic sampling of
  sharks and were not expected to result in large amounts of mortality, thus no limits on sampling were set.
  Given this, some mortality may occur throughout 2019 and will be accounted for under the 60 metric ton shark
  research and display quota.
Note: ``HMS'' refers to multiple species being collected under a given permit type.

    Final decisions on the issuance of any EFPs, SRPs, display permits, 
and shark research fishery permits will depend on the submission of all 
required information about the proposed activities, NMFS' review of 
public comments received on this notice, an applicant's reporting 
history on past permits, if vessels or applicants were issued any prior 
violations of marine resource laws administered by NOAA, consistency 
with relevant NEPA documents, and any consultations with appropriate 
Regional Fishery Management Councils, states, or Federal agencies. NMFS 
does not anticipate any significant environmental impacts from the 
issuance of these EFPs, consistent with the assessment of such 
activities within the environmental impacts analyses in existing HMS 
actions, including the 1999 FMP, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments, the Environmental Assessment for the 2012 Swordfish 
Specifications, and the Environmental Assessment for the 2015 Final 
Bluefin Tuna Quota and Atlantic Tuna Fisheries Management Measures.

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


[[Page 64280]]


    Dated: November 18, 2019.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-25276 Filed 11-20-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P