Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 75918-75920 [2020-26218]

Download as PDF 75918 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 229 / Friday, November 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations NMFS implements an accountability measure for the commercial sector of gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). NMFS projects commercial landings of gray triggerfish will reach the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for the July through December season by November 29, 2020. Therefore, NMFS is closing the commercial sector for gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic EEZ on November 29, 2020. This closure is necessary to protect the gray triggerfish resource. DATES: This temporary rule is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 29, 2020, through December 31, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: mary.vara@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes gray triggerfish and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. All weights in this temporary rule are given in round weight. The commercial ACL (equivalent to the commercial quota) for gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic is divided into two 6-month fishing seasons. The total commercial ACL of 312,324 lb (141,668 kg) is allocated 50 percent to each commercial fishing season, or 156,162 lb (70,834 kg) for January through June, and the same amount for July through December, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(8)(i) and (ii). After the January through June 2020 fishing season, 25,468 lb (11,552 kg) of the gray triggerfish commercial quota remained unharvested. As specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(8)(iii), NMFS added this unused portion of the gray triggerfish commercial quota to the commercial quota for the July through December 2020 fishing season. Therefore, the gray triggerfish commercial quota for the July through December 2020 fishing season is 181,630 lb (82,385 kg). Any unused commercial quota for the July through December fishing season becomes void and will not be added to any subsequent quota (622.190(a)(8)(iii)). Under 50 CFR 622.193(q)(1)(i), NMFS is required to close the commercial jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Nov 25, 2020 Jkt 253001 sector for gray triggerfish when the commercial quota specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(8)(ii) is reached or is projected to be reached by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for South Atlantic gray triggerfish for the July through December 2020 fishing season will be reached by November 29, 2020. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South Atlantic gray triggerfish is closed effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 29, 2020, and remains closed until the start of the next January through June fishing season on January 1, 2021. The operator of a vessel with a valid Federal commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper with gray triggerfish on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such gray triggerfish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 29, 2020. During the commercial closure, the recreational bag limit specified in 50 CFR 622.187(b)(8), and the recreational possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.187(c), apply to all harvest or possession of gray triggerfish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ. Also during the commercial closure, the sale or purchase of gray triggerfish taken from the South Atlantic EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on the sale or purchase does not apply to gray triggerfish that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 29, 2020, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, the bag and possession limits and sale and purchase prohibitions for gray triggerfish apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(ii). Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR 622.193(q)(1)(i), which was issued pursuant to section 304(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and is excempt from review under Executive Order 12866. These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment as such procedures are unnecessary and PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the regulations associated with the commercial quota for South Atlantic gray triggerfish have already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the commercial closure for the remainder of the July through December 2020 fishing season. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action is contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement the commercial closure to protect South Atlantic gray triggerfish, since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would potentially result in a harvest that exceeds the commercial quota. For the aforementioned reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 23, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–26233 Filed 11–24–20; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02] RTID 0648–XA652 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category. This action is intended to provide additional opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the December General category fishery, which is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2020, and is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 229 / Friday, November 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations For the January 2020 subquota period, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of BFT quota from the December 2020 subquota period, and transferred 51 mt from the Reserve category, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 100 mt for the January 2020 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2020 period (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020, and 85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020). The General category fishery is currently closed and reopens December 1, 2020. and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. Effective December 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Sarah McLaughlin or Nicholas Velseboer, 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) and as implemented by the United States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCATrecommended quota. The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. See § 635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a ‘‘subquota’’ or portion of the annual General category quota. The baseline subquotas for each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January; 277.9 mt for June through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward from one time period to the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods. To date for 2020, NMFS has taken several actions that resulted in adjustments to the General and Reserve category quotas, leaving 20 mt of quota currently available in the Reserve category (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020; 85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020; 85 FR 43148, July 16, 2020; 85 FR 59445, September 22, 2020; 85 FR 61872, October 1, 2020; 85 FR 64411, October 13, 2020; and 85 FR 68798, October 30, 2020). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Nov 25, 2020 Jkt 253001 Transfer of 19.5 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category Under § 635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to this inseason quota transfer. 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 valuable data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category 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 during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). Preliminary landings data as of November 16, 2020, indicate that the General category has landed approximately 818 mt this year, which is also the total of the adjusted subquotas for the January through November time period. Absent a transfer, the December General category fishery would reopen on December 1 with an available quota of 9.4 mt, which, depending on BFT availability and fishing conditions, could be harvested quickly. Transferring 19.5 mt of BFT quota from the Reserve category would result in 28.9 mt being available to the General category in December, restoring the December subquota to its base amount prior to the January 2, 2020 action (85 FR 17), and would leave 0.5 mt in the Reserve category to account PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 75919 for any BFT mortalities associated with research. Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the fishing year (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the last several years and landings to date this year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. NMFS anticipates that General category participants will be able to harvest the 19.5 mt of transferred BFT quota by the end of the fishing year. NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2020 landings and dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2020 landings and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that, even with this 19.5 mt transfer to the General category. Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent consistent with the available amount of transferrable quota and other management objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance. NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent with the current quotas, which were established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018), 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. Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1 75920 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 229 / Friday, November 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this includes providing opportunity equitably across all time periods. Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt from the Reserve category to the General category. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the General category December 2020 subquota quota to 28.9 mt and adjusts the Reserve category quota to 0.5 mt. The General category fishery reopens December 1, 2020, and will remain open until December 31, 2020, or until the adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes first. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872–8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., closure) is necessary to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens December 1, 2020, the BFT General category daily retention limit will be one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip. Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR part 635, which was issued pursuant to section 304(c), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Nov 25, 2020 Jkt 253001 and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments provide for inseason quota transfers to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer for the December 2020 subquota period at this time is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as NMFS could not have proposed this action earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated landings data in deciding to transfer a portion of the Reserve quota to the General category quota. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having appropriately considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the regulatory criteria. This action does not raise conservation and management concerns. Transferring quota from the Reserve category to the General category does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and available data shows the adjustment would have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS notes that the public had an opportunity to comment on the underlying rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT quota and the inseason adjustment criteria. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: November 23, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–26218 Filed 11–25–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 201119–0308] RIN 0648–BI04 Fisheries Off West Coast States; West Coast Salmon Fisheries; Rebuilding Chinook Salmon Stocks National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. NMFS issues a final rule under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to approve and implement rebuilding plans recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) for two overfished salmon stocks: Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon (KRFC) and Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon (SRFC). NMFS determined in 2018 that these stocks were overfished under the MSA, due to spawning escapement falling below the required level for the three-year period 2015– 2017. The MSA requires overfished stocks to be rebuilt, generally within 10 years. DATES: This final rule is effective December 28, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peggy Mundy at 206–526–4323. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background In June 2018, NMFS determined that two stocks of Chinook salmon managed under the Council’s Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP) met the overfished criteria of the FMP and the MSA. Overfished is defined in the FMP to be when the three-year geometric mean of a salmon stock’s annual spawning escapements falls below the reference point known as the minimum stock size threshold (MSST). The three-year geometric mean of spawning escapement fell below MSST for both KRFC and SRFC salmon stocks for the period 2015–2017. In response to the overfished determination, the Council developed rebuilding plans for these stocks, which were transmitted to NMFS for approval and implementation. NMFS published a proposed rule (85 FR 6135, February 4, 2020) describing the rebuilding plans and soliciting comments from the public on the proposed rule and on the draft environmental assessments (EA) that were prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Response to Comments NMFS published a proposed rule on February 4, 2020 (85 6135) and related draft EAs for public comment. The comment period ended on March 5, 2020. NMFS received four public comment submissions from individuals on the proposed rule and no comments on the draft EA. The comments and responses are below. Comment 1: One person objected to NOAA’s management of salmon stocks E:\FR\FM\27NOR1.SGM 27NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 229 (Friday, November 27, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 75918-75920]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26218]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02]
RTID 0648-XA652


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin 
tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category. 
This action is intended to provide additional opportunities for General 
category fishermen to participate in the December General category 
fishery, which is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2020, and is based 
on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding 
inseason adjustments. This action would affect Atlantic tunas General 
category (commercial) permitted vessels

[[Page 75919]]

and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted 
vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially 
for BFT.

DATES: Effective December 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Nicholas 
Velseboer, 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) and as implemented by the United States among the various 
domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 
2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan 
(2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and 
amendments. 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 current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 
mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. 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 ``subquota'' or portion 
of the annual General category quota. The baseline subquotas for each 
time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January; 277.9 mt for June 
through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through 
November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota 
rolls forward from one time period to the next and is available for use 
in subsequent time periods. To date for 2020, NMFS has taken several 
actions that resulted in adjustments to the General and Reserve 
category quotas, leaving 20 mt of quota currently available in the 
Reserve category (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020; 85 FR 6828, February 6, 
2020; 85 FR 43148, July 16, 2020; 85 FR 59445, September 22, 2020; 85 
FR 61872, October 1, 2020; 85 FR 64411, October 13, 2020; and 85 FR 
68798, October 30, 2020).
    For the January 2020 subquota period, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of 
BFT quota from the December 2020 subquota period, and transferred 51 mt 
from the Reserve category, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 100 mt 
for the January 2020 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 
2020 period (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020, and 85 FR 6828, February 6, 
2020). The General category fishery is currently closed and reopens 
December 1, 2020.

Transfer of 19.5 mt From the Reserve Category to the General Category

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota 
among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory 
determination criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). NMFS has 
considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their 
applicability to this inseason quota transfer. 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 valuable data for ongoing scientific 
studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. 
Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category 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 during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last 
several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the 
fishery if no adjustment is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). 
Preliminary landings data as of November 16, 2020, indicate that the 
General category has landed approximately 818 mt this year, which is 
also the total of the adjusted subquotas for the January through 
November time period. Absent a transfer, the December General category 
fishery would reopen on December 1 with an available quota of 9.4 mt, 
which, depending on BFT availability and fishing conditions, could be 
harvested quickly. Transferring 19.5 mt of BFT quota from the Reserve 
category would result in 28.9 mt being available to the General 
category in December, restoring the December subquota to its base 
amount prior to the January 2, 2020 action (85 FR 17), and would leave 
0.5 mt in the Reserve category to account for any BFT mortalities 
associated with research.
    Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the 
particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the 
additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the 
fishing year (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General 
category landings over the last several years and landings to date this 
year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-
sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. NMFS anticipates 
that General category participants will be able to harvest the 19.5 mt 
of transferred BFT quota by the end of the fishing year.
    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for 
other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2020 landings and 
dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have 
been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has 
carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT 
from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2020 landings 
and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that, 
even with this 19.5 mt transfer to the General category. Thus, this 
quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the 
availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent consistent 
with the available amount of transferrable quota and other management 
objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance.
    NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock 
and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the 
FMP (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent 
with the current quotas, which were established and analyzed in the 
2018 BFT quota final rule (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018), 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. Another principal 
consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest 
the full annual U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals 
of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve 
optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all 
permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related 
to

[[Page 75920]]

Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this includes 
providing opportunity equitably across all time periods.
    Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt 
from the Reserve category to the General category. Therefore, NMFS 
adjusts the General category December 2020 subquota quota to 28.9 mt 
and adjusts the Reserve category quota to 0.5 mt. The General category 
fishery reopens December 1, 2020, and will remain open until December 
31, 2020, or until the adjusted General category quota is reached, 
whichever comes first.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are 
required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer 
receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to 
timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to 
report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours 
of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov 
or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 
(Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., closure) is necessary 
to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific 
data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic 
areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the 
Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas 
Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for 
updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments.
    NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery 
reopens December 1, 2020, the BFT General category daily retention 
limit will be one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip.

Classification

    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR part 635, which was 
issued pursuant to section 304(c), and is exempt from review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments provide for inseason quota transfers to respond to the 
unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the 
migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the 
BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment 
to implement the quota transfer for the December 2020 subquota period 
at this time is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as 
NMFS could not have proposed this action earlier, as it needed to 
consider and respond to updated landings data in deciding to transfer a 
portion of the Reserve quota to the General category quota. If NMFS was 
to offer a public comment period now, after having appropriately 
considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT 
that are legally available consistent with all of the regulatory 
criteria. This action does not raise conservation and management 
concerns. Transferring quota from the Reserve category to the General 
category does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and available data 
shows the adjustment would have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-
allocated quota. NMFS notes that the public had an opportunity to 
comment on the underlying rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT 
quota and the inseason adjustment criteria. For all of the above 
reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness.

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

    Dated: November 23, 2020.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-26218 Filed 11-25-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P