Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2021 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Year, 77007-77013 [2020-26341]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations rule will not have a significant impact on the operations of a substantial number of small rural hospitals. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 VI. Unfunded Mandates Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) requires that agencies assess anticipated costs and benefits and take certain other actions before issuing a proposed rule that includes any federal mandate that may result in expenditures in any 1 year by state, local, or Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million in 1995 dollars, updated annually for inflation. In 2020, that threshold is approximately $156 million. Although we have not been able to quantify all costs, we expect the combined impact on state, local, or Tribal governments and the private sector to be below the threshold. VII. Federalism Executive Order 13132 establishes certain requirements that an agency must meet when it issues a proposed rule that imposes substantial direct costs on state and local governments, preempts state law, or otherwise has federalism implications. In compliance with the requirement of Executive Order 13132 that agencies examine closely any policies that may have federalism implications or limit the policymaking discretion of the states, we have engaged in efforts to consult with and work cooperatively with affected states, including participating in conference calls with and attending conferences of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and consulting with state insurance officials on an individual basis. While developing this final rule, we attempted to balance the states’ interests in regulating health insurance issuers with the need to ensure market stability and adopt refinements to HHS–RADV standards. By doing so, it is our view that we have complied with the requirements of Executive Order 13132. Because states have flexibility in designing their Exchange and Exchangerelated programs, state decisions will ultimately influence both administrative expenses and overall premiums. States are not required to establish an Exchange or risk adjustment program. HHS operates risk adjustment on behalf of any state that does not elect to do so. Beginning with the 2017 benefit year, HHS has operated risk adjustment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In our view, while this final rule would not impose substantial direct requirement costs on state and local governments, it has federalism VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 implications due to direct effects on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the state and Federal Governments relating to determining standards about health insurance that is offered in the individual and small group markets. VIII. Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs Executive Order 13771 requires that the costs associated with significant new regulations ‘‘to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations.’’ This final rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771 because it is expected to result in no more than de minimis costs. IX. Conclusion In accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 12866, this regulation was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. Dated: November 18, 2020. Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dated: November 23, 2020. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2020–26338 Filed 11–25–20; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4120–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No.: 201124–0317] RTID 0648–XT038 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2021 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Year National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule; fishing season notification. AGENCY: This final rule establishes the 2021 opening date for all Atlantic shark fisheries, including the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This final rule also establishes the shark fisheries quotas for the 2021 fishing year, with adjustments based on harvest levels during 2020, and establishes the large coastal shark (LCS) retention limits for directed shark limited access permit SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 77007 holders. NMFS may increase or decrease these retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders during the year, in accordance with existing regulations, to provide equitable fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas, to the extent practicable. These actions could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. DATES: This rule is effective on January 1, 2021. The 2021 Atlantic commercial shark fishing year opening dates and quotas are provided in Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantichighly-migratory-species. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Latchford (lauren.latchford@ noaa.gov), Guy Eroh (guy.eroh@ noaa.gov), or Karyl Brewster-Geisz (karyl.brewster-geisz@noaa.gov) at 301– 427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed primarily under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments established, among other things, measures related to commercial shark retention limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, and accounting for under- and overharvests in the shark fisheries. Regulations include adaptive management measures, such as flexibility in establishing opening dates for the fishing season and the ability to make inseason trip limit adjustments, which provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. On September 29, 2020, NMFS published a proposed rule (85 FR 60947) regarding management measures for the commercial shark fisheries for the 2021 fishing year. The rule proposed opening all Atlantic commercial shark management groups on January 1, 2021, setting initial retention limits for large coastal sharks (LCS) by directed shark E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 77008 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations limited access permit holders, and adjusting certain quotas for the 2021 fishing year based on harvest levels during 2020. The proposed rule contains background information and details that are not repeated here. The comment period on the proposed rule closed on October 29, 2020. NMFS received six written comments during the comment period. Those comments, along with NMFS’ responses, are summarized below. After considering all the comments, NMFS is finalizing the rule as proposed. Specifically, NMFS is opening the fishing year for all shark management groups on January 1, 2021. As described in the proposed rule, in establishing the opening date, NMFS considered the ‘‘opening commercial fishing season’’ criteria at 50 CFR 635.27(b)(3). These criteria include the following factors: Available annual quotas for the current fishing season; estimated season length and average weekly catch rates from previous years; length of the season and fishermen participation in past years; impacts to accomplishing objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; temporal variation in behavior or biology of target species (e.g., seasonal distribution or abundance); impact of catch rates in one region on another; and effects of delayed season openings. This final rule also establishes a starting retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders in the blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management groups of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the entire Gulf of Mexico region (which includes both the eastern and western sub-regions), and 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the Atlantic region. This final rule does not affect or change the current retention limit for incidental shark limited access permit holders for all regions. Consistent with § 635.24(a)(3) and (4), the current retention limit will remain at 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip, and no more than 16 small coastal sharks (SCS) and pelagic sharks, combined, per vessel per trip. Additionally, the retention limit for blacknose sharks for all permit holders in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N lat. will remain at eight blacknose sharks per trip consistent with § 635.24(a)(4). Blacknose sharks may not be harvested in the Gulf of Mexico region. This final rule adjusts certain annual commercial quotas for 2021 based on over- and/or underharvests, calculated after accounting for landings reported by October 9, 2020, consistent with existing regulations. Updated landings VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 information as of October 9, 2020 has been considered, and no quotas are changed from the proposed rule as a result. While this action adjusts certain quotas as allowable, it does not establish or change the annual baseline commercial quotas established under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments for any shark management group. The baseline quotas were established under previous actions, and any changes to those baseline quotas would be performed through a separate action. Response to Comments NMFS received six written comments on the proposed rule from interested members of the public. All written comments can be found at https:// www.regulations.gov/ by searching for NOAA–NMFS–2020–0108–0001. All of the comments received are summarized below. Comment 1: NMFS received four comments requesting a reduction in or prohibition of all commercial shark fishing. One of these comments requested that more research be conducted on shark stocks, and that more international management be considered given the migratory nature of some of these species. Response: These comments are outside the scope of this rulemaking because the purpose of this rulemaking is to adjust certain quotas for the 2021 shark season based on over- and underharvests from the previous years and to set opening dates and commercial retention limits for the 2021 shark season. This action does not reanalyze the overall management measures for sharks, which have been analyzed and implemented through previous rulemaking processes for the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. This action also does not address international management of shark stocks, although we note that the United States complies with recommendations made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and other international regional fisheries management fora, as appropriate, regarding international management of relevant shark stocks. Comment 2: NMFS received two comments supporting the proposed rule. Although generally supportive overall, one of those comments cautioned against allowing carryover of underharvest for smoothhound and blacktip sharks due to the potential for climate change and other environmental factors to have impacts on those species. PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Response: With regard to the caution against carryover of underharvest, this portion of the comment is outside the scope of this rulemaking. This action carries out and applies quota adjustment measures that were previously adopted and codified through rulemaking. This action does not alter the underlying regulations governing the process for taking into account over- and underharvests from the previous years and establishing opening dates and commercial retention limits. We note that NMFS is considering shark management measures regarding the carryover of under- and overharvests of quotas in Draft Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (85 FR 60132; September 24, 2020). To provide comments on Draft Amendment 14, please see www.regulations.gov and search for NOAA–NMFS–2019–0040–0009. More information can also be found at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ amendment-14-2006-consolidated-hmsfishery-management-plan-shark-quotamanagement. Comments on Draft Amendment 14 can be submitted until December 31, 2020. Changes From the Proposed Rule After considering public comments, NMFS is finalizing the rule as proposed, without changes regarding the fishing season opening dates, retention limits, or quota harvest thresholds at which to consider adjusting retention limits. 2021 Annual Quotas This final rule adjusts certain 2021 commercial quotas due to overharvests and/or underharvests in 2020 and previous fishing years, based on landings data received by October 9, 2020. Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished, have no overfishing occurring, or do not have an unknown status. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base annual quota. The 2021 annual quotas are summarized in Table 1 by species and management group. At this time, NMFS anticipates that landings in dealer reports that are received by NMFS after October 9, 2020, will be accounted for by adjusting certain 2022 quotas, as appropriate, although such landings could also be accounted for in 2021. A description of the quota calculations is provided in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 77009 TABLE 1—2021 PROPOSED QUOTAS AND OPENING DATE FOR THE ATLANTIC SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUPS Preliminary 2020 landings 1 Adjustments 2 2021 Base annual quota 2021 Proposed annual quota Region or sub-region Management group 2020 Annual quota (A) (B) (C) (D) (D + C) Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 3 ............................. 223.1 mt dw (491,750 lb dw). 81.6 mt dw (179,958 lb dw). <3.6 mt dw (<8,000 lb dw). 4.0 mt dw (8,809 lb dw) 115.7 mt dw (255,131 lb dw). ...................................... Porbeagle Sharks ........................... 347.2 mt dw (765,392 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw). 37.7 mt dw (83,158 lb dw). 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). 1,802.6 mt dw (3,971,587 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) ......... ...................................... 231.5 mt dw (510,261 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw). 25.1 mt dw (55,439 lb dw). 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). 336.4 mt dw (741,627 lb dw). 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). 1,201.7 mt dw (2,649,268 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) Pelagic Sharks Other Porbeagle or Blue. 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). 33.8 mt dw (74,442 lb dw). ...................................... 347.2 mt dw (765,392 lb dw). 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw). 37.7 mt dw (83,158 lb dw). 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). 1,802.6 mt dw (3,971,587 lb dw). 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw). 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). Aggregated 4 Large Coastal Sharks Hammerhead Sharks ...................... Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 3 ............................. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Hammerhead Sharks ...................... Gulf of Mexico .............. Atlantic ......................... Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Smoothhound Sharks ..................... Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Hammerhead Sharks ...................... Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N lat. only). Smoothhound Sharks ..................... No regional quotas ....... Non-Sandbar LCS Research .......... Sandbar Shark Research ............... Blue Sharks ..................................... Than 66.2 mt dw (146,047 lb dw). <3.4 mt dw (<7,500 lb dw). 46.3 mt dw (102,034 lb dw). 1.4 mt dw (3,144 lb dw) 54.7 mt dw (120,663 lb dw). 13.6 mt dw (30,018 lb dw). 64.7 mt dw (142,611 lb dw). 4.0 mt dw (8,848 lb dw) 231.8 mt dw (510,957 lb dw). 5.3 mt dw (11,792 lb dw). <18.1 mt dw (<40,000 lb dw). 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) ......... ...................................... 12.6 mt dw (27,719 lb dw). ...................................... ...................................... ...................................... 168.2 mt dw (370,814 lb dw). ...................................... ...................................... ...................................... ...................................... 600.9 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw). ...................................... ...................................... ...................................... 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 1 Landings are from January 1, 2020, through October 9, 2020, and are subject to change. 2 Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished have no overfishing occurring, or do not have an unknown status. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base annual quota. 3 This adjustment accounts for the underharvest in 2020. This final rule would increase the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 128.3 mt dw (282,850 lb dw). Since any underharvest would be divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota will be increased by 115.7 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the quota adjustment, while the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota will be increased by 12.6 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the quota adjustment. 4 While there is an overharvest of the western Gulf of Mexico Aggregated LCS sub-regional quota in 2020, the full Gulf of Mexico regional quota has not been filled. Thus, this rule maintains the full baseline quota in 2021. 2021 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Year After considering the seven ‘‘opening commercial fishing season’’ criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), as described in the proposed rule (85 FR 60947; September 29, 2020), and after considering public comment, this rule establishes a January 1, 2021 commercial shark fishing year start date for all management groups in all regions. Regarding the LCS retention limit, as shown in Table 2, directed shark limited access permit holders fishing on the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management groups will start the commercial fishing year with a limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Directed shark limited access permits fishing on the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups will start the commercial fishing year with a limit of 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. These retention limits could be changed throughout the year based on consideration of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria at § 635.24(a)(8). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Specifically, in the Atlantic region, NMFS will closely monitor the quota at the beginning of the year. If it appears that the quota is being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire region the opportunity to fish (e.g., if approximately 40 percent of the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS will consider reducing the commercial retention limit, potentially to three LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Given the geographic distribution and migration patterns of the sharks at this time of year (i.e., they head north before moving south again later in the year), the retention limit would be adjusted to ensure there is quota available later in the year (see the criteria at § 635.24(a)(8)(i), (ii), (v), and (vi)). Then, based on prior years’ fishing activity, and to allow more consistent fishing opportunities later in the year, NMFS may consider raising the commercial retention limit later in the year. Any future increase or decrease in a retention limit would depend on a review of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria at § 635.24(a)(8). All of the shark management groups will remain open until December 31, 2021, or until NMFS determines that the PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 landings for any shark management group have reached, or are projected to reach, 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, if the fishery’s landings are not also projected to reach 100 percent of the applicable quota before the end of the season, or when the quota-linked management group is closed. For the blacktip shark management group, regulations at § 635.28(b)(5)(i) through (v) authorize NMFS to close the management group before landings reach or are expected to reach 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota after considering the following criteria and other relevant factors: Season length based on available sub-regional quota and average sub-regional catch rates; variability in regional and/or subregional seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns; effects on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments; amount of remaining shark quotas in the relevant sub-region; and regional and/or subregional catch rates of the relevant shark species or management groups. Additionally, NMFS has previously E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 77010 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations established non-linked and linked quotas; linked quotas are explicitly designed to concurrently close multiple shark management groups that are caught together to prevent incidental catch mortality from exceeding the total allowable catch. The linked and nonlinked quotas are shown in Table 2. If NMFS determines that a shark species or management group must be closed, then NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register of closure for that shark species, shark management group, region, and/or sub-region that will be effective no fewer than 4 days from the date of filing for public inspection (§ 635.28(b)(2) and (3)). From the effective date of the notice and time of the closure, the fisheries for the shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years, until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened. TABLE 2—QUOTA LINKAGES, OPENING DATES, AND COMMERCIAL RETENTION LIMIT BY REGIONAL OR SUB-REGIONAL SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP Commercial retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders (in season adjustments are available) Region or sub-region Management group Quota linkages Opening dates Eastern Gulf of Mexico ..... Blacktip Sharks ............... Not Linked ....................... January 1, 2021 .............. 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Linked. Western Gulf of Mexico .... Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Blacktip Sharks ............... January 1, 2021 .............. 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Not Linked ....................... January 1, 2021 .............. N/A. Not Linked ....................... Linked .............................. January 1, 2021 .............. January 1, 2021 .............. ......................................... ......................................... Linked (South of 34° N lat. only). ......................................... January 1, 2021 .............. N/A. 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. If quota is landed quickly (e.g., if approximately 40 percent of the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS anticipates considering an inseason reduction and later considering an inseason increase.1 N/A. Not Linked ....................... Linked .............................. January 1, 2021 .............. January 1, 2021 .............. 8 blacknose sharks per vessel per trip (applies to directed and incidental permit holders). N/A. N/A. Not Linked ....................... January 1, 2021 .............. N/A. Gulf of Mexico ................... Atlantic .............................. No regional quotas ............ Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks. Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Smoothhound Sharks ..... Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks. Hammerhead Sharks ...... Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N lat. only). Smoothhound Sharks ..... Non-Sandbar LCS Research. Sandbar Shark Research. Blue Sharks ..................... Porbeagle Sharks. Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue. Not Linked ....................... Linked. ......................................... 1 This action modifies the percent of quota harvested at which it considers adjusting the retention limit. NMFS will consider adjustment to 40 percent to allow fishermen in the Atlantic region to more fully utilize the quota. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the final rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that there is good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness for the adjusted quotas and opening dates for the pelagic shark, shark research, blacknose shark, nonblacknose small coastal shark, and nonsandbar large coastal shark fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, because such a delay is contrary to the public interest. A delay in the date of effectiveness for this rule would cause negative economic and ecological impacts as VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 discussed below. Regarding the pelagic shark fishery, a delay in the effectiveness of the quotas in this rule would postpone the start of the 2021 pelagic shark fishery until 30 days after the publication date of this rule. Most pelagic shark species are captured incidentally in swordfish and tuna pelagic longline fisheries that will be open in early January. If the quotas in this rule are not made effective as close to January 1, 2021, as possible, fishermen in those fisheries will have to discard, dead or alive, any pelagic sharks that are caught, while quota is technically available to be used for their retention. Regarding the shark research fishery, NMFS selects a small number of fishermen to participate in the shark research fishery each year for the purpose of providing NMFS with PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 biological and catch data to inform stock assessments and effectively manage the Atlantic shark fisheries. All trips in this fishery are monitored with 100 percent observer coverage. Delaying the opening of the shark research fishery would prevent NMFS from maintaining the data for the monthly time-series of wintertime abundance for shark species or collecting vital biological and regional data during this time of year. Not conducting the research trips could limit information available for stock assessments and, thus, NMFS’ ability to properly manage the shark fisheries because needed information would not be available for stock assessments, which would be contrary to the public interest. Regarding the blacknose shark, nonblacknose small coastal shark, and smoothhound shark fisheries, these E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations fisheries have both a directed component, where fishermen target these shark species, and an incidental component, where fishermen target other species such as Spanish mackerel and bluefish, but may incidentally catch these shark species and potentially land them. The incidental fishery catches small coastal and smoothhound sharks throughout the year. Delaying this action for 30 days would force all fishermen to discard, dead or alive, any small coastal and smoothhound sharks that would be caught before this rule becomes effective. Opening the fishery as close to January 1, 2021, as possible ensures that any mortality associated with landings is counted against the commercial quota in real-time. Additionally, a month-long delay in opening the small coastal shark and smoothhound shark fisheries would occur during the time period when fishermen typically target these shark species, resulting in fishermen experiencing negative economic impacts, which would be contrary to the public interest. Regarding the non-sandbar large coastal shark fishery in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico region, opening on January 1, 2021, would allow south Atlantic fishermen to have a winter fishery and to potentially benefit from a better price per pound, given the geographic distribution of the sharks at this time of year. Delaying the opening of the non-sandbar large coastal shark fishery in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico region for an additional 30 days would have negative economic impacts on fishermen because they would not be able to fish for that period. Additionally, many of the primary species targeted in the non-sandbar large coastal shark fisheries are locally available in the southern portion of the Atlantic region in January and a 30-day delay would cause fishermen to miss fishing opportunities, and the associated revenue. Therefore, delaying this action for 30 days is contrary to the public interest. For the reasons described above, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness of the quotas and opening dates for the pelagic shark, shark research, blacknose shark, nonblacknose small coastal shark, smoothhound shark, and non-sandbar large coastal shark fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. These final specifications are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. In compliance with section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Analysis (FRFA) for this final rule. The FRFA analyzes the anticipated economic impacts of the final actions and any significant economic impacts on small entities. The FRFA is below. Section 604(a)(1) of the RFA requires an explanation of the purpose of the rulemaking. The purpose of this final rule is, consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, to establish the 2021 Atlantic commercial shark adjusted fishing quotas, retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2020, and would not reopen until appropriate action was taken. While there may be some direct negative economic impacts associated with the opening dates for fishermen in certain northern Atlantic areas, given the geographic distribution and migration patterns of the sharks at this time of year (i.e., they head north before moving south again later in the year), there could also be positive effects for other fishermen in the south Atlantic region. The opening dates were chosen to allow for an equitable distribution of the available quotas among all fishermen across regions and states, to the extent practicable. Section 604(a)(2) of the RFA requires NMFS to summarize significant issues raised by the public in response to the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), provide a summary of NMFS’ assessment of such issues, and provide a statement of any changes made as a result of the comments. The IRFA was completed as part of the proposed rule for the 2021 Atlantic Commercial Shark Season Specifications. NMFS did not receive any comments specific to the IRFA. Section 604(a)(3) of the RFA requires NMFS to the respond to any comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the proposed rule and provide a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule as a result of the comments. NMFS did not receive any comments from the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA on the proposed rule. Section 604(a)(4) of the RFA requires NMFS to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA’s regulations for an agency to develop its own industryspecific size standards after consultation with SBA and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 77011 Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use by NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of the agency’s obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the Federal Register, which NMFS did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81194; 50 CFR 200.2). In that final rule effective on July 1, 2016, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing. As of October 2020, the final rule would apply to the approximately 214 directed commercial shark permit holders, 256 incidental commercial shark permit holders, 163 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 93 commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 470 directed and incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 18 permit holders landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 74 landed sharks in the Atlantic region. Of the 163 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 65 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and fewer than 4 landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. NMFS has determined that the final rule would not likely affect any small governmental jurisdictions. Section 604(a)(5) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the final rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities which would be subject to the requirements of the report or record. None of the actions in this final rule would result in additional reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirements beyond those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Section 604(a)(6) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the steps taken to minimize the economic impact on small entities, consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes. This rulemaking does not establish new management measures to be implemented, but rather implements E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 77012 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations previously adopted and analyzed measures as adjustments within a range of previously-authorized activities, as specified in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 76302; December 8, 2010). Thus, in this rulemaking, NMFS adjusted certain baseline quotas established and analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by subtracting the underharvest or adding the overharvest, as specified and allowable in existing regulations. Under current regulations (§ 635.27(b)(2)), all shark fisheries close on December 31 of each year, or when NMFS determines that the landings for any shark management group has reached, or is projected to reach, 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota if the fishery’s landings are not projected to reach 100 percent of the applicable quota before the end of the season, or when the quota-linked management group is closed. The fisheries do not open until NMFS takes action, such as this rulemaking, to reopen the fisheries. Thus, not implementing these management measures would negatively affect shark fishermen and related small entities, such as dealers, and also would not provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. Based on the 2019 ex-vessel meat and fin prices (Table 3), fully harvesting the unadjusted 2021 Atlantic shark commercial base quotas could result in total fleet revenues of $9,997,263. For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS will increase the baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2020. The increase for the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $241,691 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region, while the increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $27,645 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS will increase the baseline quotas due to the underharvest in 2020. This would cause a potential gain in revenue of $403,475 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region and a potential gain in revenue of $1,112,680 for the fleet in the Atlantic region. All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. The FRFAs for those amendments concluded that the economic impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time. TABLE 3—AVERAGE EX-VESSEL PRICES PER lb dw FOR EACH SHARK MANAGEMENT GROUP, 2019 Region Species Average ex-vessel meat price Average ex-vessel fin price Western Gulf of Mexico ............................... Blacktip Shark ................................................................................ Aggregated LCS ............................................................................ Hammerhead Shark ....................................................................... Blacktip Shark ................................................................................ Aggregated LCS ............................................................................ Hammerhead Shark ....................................................................... Non-Blacknose SCS ...................................................................... Smoothhound Shark ...................................................................... Aggregated LCS ............................................................................ Hammerhead Shark ....................................................................... Non-Blacknose SCS ...................................................................... Blacknose Shark ............................................................................ Smoothhound Shark ...................................................................... Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated LCS) .................................. Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar only) ....................................... Blue shark ...................................................................................... Porbeagle shark ............................................................................. Other Pelagic sharks ..................................................................... $0.70 0.73 0.52 0.75 0.56 0.50 0.59 1.06 0.99 0.46 1.02 1.27 0.78 0.86 0.68 ........................ 0.36 1.35 $9.16 15.81 12.00 8.00 12.00 13.43 5.81 ........................ 3.51 ........................ 4.60 ........................ 1.68 15.15 ........................ ........................ 2.51 7.60 Eastern Gulf of Mexico ............................... Gulf of Mexico ............................................. Atlantic ......................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 No Region ................................................... For this final rule, NMFS reviewed the ‘‘opening commercial fishing season’’ criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(i) through (vii) to determine when opening each fishery will provide equitable opportunities for fishermen, to the extent practicable, while also considering the ecological needs of the different species. The 2020 fishing year and previous years’ over- and/or underharvests were examined for the different species/complexes to determine the effects of the 2021 final quotas on fishermen across regional fishing areas. NMFS examined season lengths and previous catch rates to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 ensure equitable fishing opportunities for fishermen. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal variation of the different species/complexes and the effects on fishing opportunities. In addition to these criteria, NMFS also considered updated landings data and public comment on the proposed rule before arriving at the final opening dates for the 2021 Atlantic shark management groups. For the 2021 fishing year, NMFS is opening the shark management groups on January 1, 2021. The direct economic impacts will be neutral on a short- and long-term basis for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark, Gulf of PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Mexico aggregated LCS, Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark, Gulf of Mexico nonblacknose shark SCS, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark, Atlantic non-blacknose shark SCS, Atlantic blacknose shark, sandbar shark, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups, because NMFS did not change the opening dates of these fisheries from the status quo of January 1. Opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region on January 1 will result in short-term, direct, moderate, E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 231 / Tuesday, December 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES3 beneficial economic impacts, as fishermen and dealers in the southern portion of the Atlantic region will be able to fish for and sell aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks starting in January. The opening date finalized in this rule for the Atlantic region has been the same or similar to those since 2016. Based on past public comments, some Atlantic fishermen in the southern and northern parts of the region prefer a January 1 opening for the fishery as long as the majority of the quota is available later in the year. Along with the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria in § 635.24(a)(8), NMFS monitors the quota through the HMS electronic reporting system on a realtime basis. This allows NMFS the flexibility to further provide equitable fishing opportunities for fishermen across all regions, to the extent practicable. The direct impacts to shark fishermen in the Atlantic region of reducing the retention limit depend on the needed reduction in the retention limit and the timing of such a reduction. Therefore, such a reduction in the retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders is only anticipated to have minor adverse direct economic impacts to fishermen in the short-term; long-term impacts are not VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:24 Nov 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 anticipated as these reductions would not be permanent. In the northern portion of the Atlantic region, a January 1 opening for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups, with inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure quota is available later in the season, will have direct, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the short-term for fishermen as they will potentially have access to the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas earlier than in past seasons. Fishermen in this area have stated that, depending on the weather, some aggregated LCS species might be available to retain in January. Thus, fishermen will be able to target or retain aggregated LCS while targeting nonblacknose SCS. In addition, opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in January and using inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure the fishery is open later in the year in 2021 will cause beneficial cumulative economic impacts, because the action allows for a more equitable distribution of the quotas among constituents in this region, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. This rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act. PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 77013 Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, NMFS has prepared a listserv summarizing fishery information and regulations for Atlantic shark fisheries for 2021. This listserv also serves as the small entity compliance guide. Copies of the compliance guide are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 24, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–26341 Filed 11–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 231 (Tuesday, December 1, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 77007-77013]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26341]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No.: 201124-0317]
RTID 0648-XT038


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2021 Atlantic Shark Commercial 
Fishing Year

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

ACTION: Final rule; fishing season notification.

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SUMMARY: This final rule establishes the 2021 opening date for all 
Atlantic shark fisheries, including the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico 
and Caribbean. This final rule also establishes the shark fisheries 
quotas for the 2021 fishing year, with adjustments based on harvest 
levels during 2020, and establishes the large coastal shark (LCS) 
retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders. NMFS 
may increase or decrease these retention limits for directed shark 
limited access permit holders during the year, in accordance with 
existing regulations, to provide equitable fishing opportunities for 
commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas, to the extent 
practicable. These actions could affect fishing opportunities for 
commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, 
including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

DATES: This rule is effective on January 1, 2021. The 2021 Atlantic 
commercial shark fishing year opening dates and quotas are provided in 
Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

ADDRESSES: Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, 
1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Latchford 
([email protected]), Guy Eroh ([email protected]), or Karyl 
Brewster-Geisz ([email protected]) at 301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed primarily under 
the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic 
HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic commercial shark 
fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments 
established, among other things, measures related to commercial shark 
retention limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, 
and accounting for under- and overharvests in the shark fisheries. 
Regulations include adaptive management measures, such as flexibility 
in establishing opening dates for the fishing season and the ability to 
make inseason trip limit adjustments, which provide management 
flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the 
extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and 
areas.
    On September 29, 2020, NMFS published a proposed rule (85 FR 60947) 
regarding management measures for the commercial shark fisheries for 
the 2021 fishing year. The rule proposed opening all Atlantic 
commercial shark management groups on January 1, 2021, setting initial 
retention limits for large coastal sharks (LCS) by directed shark

[[Page 77008]]

limited access permit holders, and adjusting certain quotas for the 
2021 fishing year based on harvest levels during 2020. The proposed 
rule contains background information and details that are not repeated 
here. The comment period on the proposed rule closed on October 29, 
2020. NMFS received six written comments during the comment period. 
Those comments, along with NMFS' responses, are summarized below. After 
considering all the comments, NMFS is finalizing the rule as proposed.
    Specifically, NMFS is opening the fishing year for all shark 
management groups on January 1, 2021. As described in the proposed 
rule, in establishing the opening date, NMFS considered the ``opening 
commercial fishing season'' criteria at 50 CFR 635.27(b)(3). These 
criteria include the following factors: Available annual quotas for the 
current fishing season; estimated season length and average weekly 
catch rates from previous years; length of the season and fishermen 
participation in past years; impacts to accomplishing objectives of the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; temporal variation in 
behavior or biology of target species (e.g., seasonal distribution or 
abundance); impact of catch rates in one region on another; and effects 
of delayed season openings. This final rule also establishes a starting 
retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders in the 
blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management groups of 45 LCS 
other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for the entire Gulf of 
Mexico region (which includes both the eastern and western sub-
regions), and 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for 
the Atlantic region. This final rule does not affect or change the 
current retention limit for incidental shark limited access permit 
holders for all regions. Consistent with Sec.  635.24(a)(3) and (4), 
the current retention limit will remain at 3 LCS other than sandbar 
sharks per vessel per trip, and no more than 16 small coastal sharks 
(SCS) and pelagic sharks, combined, per vessel per trip. Additionally, 
the retention limit for blacknose sharks for all permit holders in the 
Atlantic region south of 34[deg]00' N lat. will remain at eight 
blacknose sharks per trip consistent with Sec.  635.24(a)(4). Blacknose 
sharks may not be harvested in the Gulf of Mexico region.
    This final rule adjusts certain annual commercial quotas for 2021 
based on over- and/or underharvests, calculated after accounting for 
landings reported by October 9, 2020, consistent with existing 
regulations. Updated landings information as of October 9, 2020 has 
been considered, and no quotas are changed from the proposed rule as a 
result. While this action adjusts certain quotas as allowable, it does 
not establish or change the annual baseline commercial quotas 
established under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments for 
any shark management group. The baseline quotas were established under 
previous actions, and any changes to those baseline quotas would be 
performed through a separate action.

Response to Comments

    NMFS received six written comments on the proposed rule from 
interested members of the public. All written comments can be found at 
https://www.regulations.gov/ by searching for NOAA-NMFS-2020-0108-0001. 
All of the comments received are summarized below.
    Comment 1: NMFS received four comments requesting a reduction in or 
prohibition of all commercial shark fishing. One of these comments 
requested that more research be conducted on shark stocks, and that 
more international management be considered given the migratory nature 
of some of these species.
    Response: These comments are outside the scope of this rulemaking 
because the purpose of this rulemaking is to adjust certain quotas for 
the 2021 shark season based on over- and underharvests from the 
previous years and to set opening dates and commercial retention limits 
for the 2021 shark season. This action does not reanalyze the overall 
management measures for sharks, which have been analyzed and 
implemented through previous rulemaking processes for the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. This action also does not 
address international management of shark stocks, although we note that 
the United States complies with recommendations made by the 
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and other 
international regional fisheries management fora, as appropriate, 
regarding international management of relevant shark stocks.
    Comment 2: NMFS received two comments supporting the proposed rule. 
Although generally supportive overall, one of those comments cautioned 
against allowing carryover of underharvest for smoothhound and blacktip 
sharks due to the potential for climate change and other environmental 
factors to have impacts on those species.
    Response: With regard to the caution against carryover of 
underharvest, this portion of the comment is outside the scope of this 
rulemaking. This action carries out and applies quota adjustment 
measures that were previously adopted and codified through rulemaking. 
This action does not alter the underlying regulations governing the 
process for taking into account over- and underharvests from the 
previous years and establishing opening dates and commercial retention 
limits. We note that NMFS is considering shark management measures 
regarding the carryover of under- and overharvests of quotas in Draft 
Amendment 14 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (85 FR 60132; September 24, 2020). To provide 
comments on Draft Amendment 14, please see www.regulations.gov and 
search for NOAA-NMFS-2019-0040-0009. More information can also be found 
at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-14-2006-consolidated-hms-fishery-management-plan-shark-quota-management. 
Comments on Draft Amendment 14 can be submitted until December 31, 
2020.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    After considering public comments, NMFS is finalizing the rule as 
proposed, without changes regarding the fishing season opening dates, 
retention limits, or quota harvest thresholds at which to consider 
adjusting retention limits.

2021 Annual Quotas

    This final rule adjusts certain 2021 commercial quotas due to 
overharvests and/or underharvests in 2020 and previous fishing years, 
based on landings data received by October 9, 2020. Underharvest 
adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are 
not overfished, have no overfishing occurring, or do not have an 
unknown status. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 
percent of the base annual quota. The 2021 annual quotas are summarized 
in Table 1 by species and management group. At this time, NMFS 
anticipates that landings in dealer reports that are received by NMFS 
after October 9, 2020, will be accounted for by adjusting certain 2022 
quotas, as appropriate, although such landings could also be accounted 
for in 2021. A description of the quota calculations is provided in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here.

[[Page 77009]]



                                 Table 1--2021 Proposed Quotas and Opening Date for the Atlantic Shark Management Groups
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                                                                           Preliminary 2020                        2021 Base annual      2021 Proposed
      Region or sub-region         Management group    2020 Annual quota     landings \1\       Adjustments \2\          quota           annual quota
                                                      (A)...............  (B)...............  (C)...............  (D)...............  (D + C)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western Gulf of Mexico..........  Blacktip Sharks     347.2 mt dw         223.1 mt dw         115.7 mt dw         231.5 mt dw         347.2 mt dw
                                   \3\.                (765,392 lb dw).    (491,750 lb dw).    (255,131 lb dw).    (510,261 lb dw).    (765,392 lb dw).
                                  Aggregated \4\      72.0 mt dw          81.6 mt dw          ..................  72.0 mt dw          72.0 mt dw
                                   Large Coastal       (158,724 lb dw).    (179,958 lb dw).                        (158,724 lb dw).    (158,724 lb dw).
                                   Sharks.
                                  Hammerhead Sharks.  11.9 mt dw (26,301  <3.6 mt dw (<8,000  ..................  11.9 mt dw (26,301  11.9 mt dw (26,301
                                                       lb dw).             lb dw).                                 lb dw).             lb dw).
Eastern Gulf of Mexico..........  Blacktip Sharks     37.7 mt dw (83,158  4.0 mt dw (8,809    12.6 mt dw (27,719  25.1 mt dw (55,439  37.7 mt dw (83,158
                                   \3\.                lb dw).             lb dw).             lb dw).             lb dw).             lb dw).
                                  Aggregated Large    85.5 mt dw          66.2 mt dw          ..................  85.5 mt dw          85.5 mt dw
                                   Coastal Sharks.     (188,593 lb dw).    (146,047 lb dw).                        (188,593 lb dw).    (188,593 lb dw).
                                  Hammerhead Sharks.  13.4 mt dw (29,421  <3.4 mt dw (<7,500  ..................  13.4 mt dw (29,421  13.4 mt dw (29,421
                                                       lb dw).             lb dw).                                 lb dw).             lb dw).
Gulf of Mexico..................  Non-Blacknose       112.6 mt dw         46.3 mt dw          ..................  112.6 mt dw         112.6 mt dw
                                   Small Coastal       (248,215 lb dw).    (102,034 lb dw).                        (248,215 lb dw).    (248,215 lb dw).
                                   Sharks.
                                  Smoothhound Sharks  504.6 mt dw         1.4 mt dw (3,144    168.2 mt dw         336.4 mt dw         504.6 mt dw
                                                       (1,112,441 lb dw).  lb dw).             (370,814 lb dw).    (741,627 lb dw).    (1,112,441 lb
                                                                                                                                       dw).
Atlantic........................  Aggregated Large    168.9 mt dw         54.7 mt dw          ..................  168.9 mt dw         168.9 mt dw
                                   Coastal Sharks.     (372,552 lb dw).    (120,663 lb dw).                        (372,552 lb dw).    (372,552 lb dw).
                                  Hammerhead Sharks.  27.1 mt dw (59,736  13.6 mt dw (30,018  ..................  27.1 mt dw (59,736  27.1 mt dw (59,736
                                                       lb dw).             lb dw).                                 lb dw).             lb dw).
                                  Non-Blacknose       264.1 mt dw         64.7 mt dw          ..................  264.1 mt dw         264.1 mt dw
                                   Small Coastal       (582,333 lb dw).    (142,611 lb dw).                        (582,333 lb dw).    (582,333 lb dw).
                                   Sharks.
                                  Blacknose Sharks    17.2 mt dw (37,921  4.0 mt dw (8,848    ..................  17.2 mt dw (37,921  17.2 mt dw (37,921
                                   (South of 34[deg]   lb dw).             lb dw).                                 lb dw).             lb dw).
                                   N lat. only).
                                  Smoothhound Sharks  1,802.6 mt dw       231.8 mt dw         600.9 mt dw         1,201.7 mt dw       1,802.6 mt dw
                                                       (3,971,587 lb dw).  (510,957 lb dw).    (1,323,862 lb dw).  (2,649,268 lb dw).  (3,971,587 lb
                                                                                                                                       dw).
No regional quotas..............  Non-Sandbar LCS     50.0 mt dw          5.3 mt dw (11,792   ..................  50.0 mt dw          50.0 mt dw
                                   Research.           (110,230 lb dw).    lb dw).                                 (110,230 lb dw).    (110,230 lb dw).
                                  Sandbar Shark       90.7 mt dw          <18.1 mt dw         ..................  90.7 mt dw          90.7 mt dw
                                   Research.           (199,943 lb dw).    (<40,000 lb dw).                        (199,943 lb dw).    (199,943 lb dw).
                                  Blue Sharks.......  273.0 mt dw         0 mt dw (0 lb dw).  ..................  273.0 mt dw         273.0 mt dw
                                                       (601,856 lb dw).                                            (601,856 lb dw).    (601,856 lb dw).
                                  Porbeagle Sharks..  1.7 mt dw (3,748    0 mt dw (0 lb dw).  ..................  1.7 mt dw (3,748    1.7 mt dw (3,748
                                                       lb dw).                                                     lb dw).             lb dw).
                                  Pelagic Sharks      488.0 mt dw         33.8 mt dw (74,442  ..................  488.0 mt dw         488.0 mt dw
                                   Other Than          (1,075,856 lb dw).  lb dw).                                 (1,075,856 lb dw).  (1,075,856 lb
                                   Porbeagle or Blue.                                                                                  dw).
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\1\ Landings are from January 1, 2020, through October 9, 2020, and are subject to change.
\2\ Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished have no overfishing occurring, or do not have an
  unknown status. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base annual quota.
\3\ This adjustment accounts for the underharvest in 2020. This final rule would increase the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 128.3 mt dw
  (282,850 lb dw). Since any underharvest would be divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark
  quota will be increased by 115.7 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the quota adjustment, while the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota will be
  increased by 12.6 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the quota adjustment.
\4\ While there is an overharvest of the western Gulf of Mexico Aggregated LCS sub-regional quota in 2020, the full Gulf of Mexico regional quota has
  not been filled. Thus, this rule maintains the full baseline quota in 2021.

2021 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Year

    After considering the seven ``opening commercial fishing season'' 
criteria listed in Sec.  635.27(b)(3), as described in the proposed 
rule (85 FR 60947; September 29, 2020), and after considering public 
comment, this rule establishes a January 1, 2021 commercial shark 
fishing year start date for all management groups in all regions.
    Regarding the LCS retention limit, as shown in Table 2, directed 
shark limited access permit holders fishing on the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management groups 
will start the commercial fishing year with a limit of 45 LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Directed shark limited access 
permits fishing on the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark 
management groups will start the commercial fishing year with a limit 
of 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. These 
retention limits could be changed throughout the year based on 
consideration of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria at Sec.  
635.24(a)(8).
    Specifically, in the Atlantic region, NMFS will closely monitor the 
quota at the beginning of the year. If it appears that the quota is 
being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire 
region the opportunity to fish (e.g., if approximately 40 percent of 
the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS will consider 
reducing the commercial retention limit, potentially to three LCS other 
than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Given the geographic 
distribution and migration patterns of the sharks at this time of year 
(i.e., they head north before moving south again later in the year), 
the retention limit would be adjusted to ensure there is quota 
available later in the year (see the criteria at Sec.  635.24(a)(8)(i), 
(ii), (v), and (vi)). Then, based on prior years' fishing activity, and 
to allow more consistent fishing opportunities later in the year, NMFS 
may consider raising the commercial retention limit later in the year. 
Any future increase or decrease in a retention limit would depend on a 
review of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria at Sec.  
635.24(a)(8).
    All of the shark management groups will remain open until December 
31, 2021, or until NMFS determines that the landings for any shark 
management group have reached, or are projected to reach, 80 percent of 
the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, if the 
fishery's landings are not also projected to reach 100 percent of the 
applicable quota before the end of the season, or when the quota-linked 
management group is closed. For the blacktip shark management group, 
regulations at Sec.  635.28(b)(5)(i) through (v) authorize NMFS to 
close the management group before landings reach or are expected to 
reach 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-
regional quota after considering the following criteria and other 
relevant factors: Season length based on available sub-regional quota 
and average sub-regional catch rates; variability in regional and/or 
sub-regional seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns; 
effects on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments; amount of remaining shark quotas 
in the relevant sub-region; and regional and/or sub-regional catch 
rates of the relevant shark species or management groups. Additionally, 
NMFS has previously

[[Page 77010]]

established non-linked and linked quotas; linked quotas are explicitly 
designed to concurrently close multiple shark management groups that 
are caught together to prevent incidental catch mortality from 
exceeding the total allowable catch. The linked and non-linked quotas 
are shown in Table 2. If NMFS determines that a shark species or 
management group must be closed, then NMFS will publish a notice in the 
Federal Register of closure for that shark species, shark management 
group, region, and/or sub-region that will be effective no fewer than 4 
days from the date of filing for public inspection (Sec.  635.28(b)(2) 
and (3)). From the effective date of the notice and time of the 
closure, the fisheries for the shark species or management group are 
closed, even across fishing years, until NMFS announces, via the 
publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota 
is available and the season is reopened.

    Table 2--Quota Linkages, Opening Dates, and Commercial Retention Limit by Regional or Sub-Regional Shark
                                                Management Group
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                                                                                           Commercial retention
                                                                                            limits for directed
                                                                                           shark  limited access
      Region or sub-region        Management group    Quota linkages     Opening dates      permit holders  (in
                                                                                          season adjustments are
                                                                                                available)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern Gulf of Mexico.........  Blacktip Sharks..  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  45 LCS other than
                                                                                           sandbar sharks per
                                                                                           vessel per trip.
                                 Aggregated Large   Linked...........
                                  Coastal Sharks.
                                 Hammerhead Sharks
Western Gulf of Mexico.........  Blacktip Sharks..  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  45 LCS other than
                                                                                           sandbar sharks per
                                                                                           vessel per trip.
                                 Aggregated Large   Linked...........
                                  Coastal Sharks.
                                 Hammerhead Sharks
Gulf of Mexico.................  Non-Blacknose      Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                  Small Coastal
                                  Sharks.
                                 Smoothhound        Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                  Sharks.
Atlantic.......................  Aggregated Large   Linked...........  January 1, 2021..  36 LCS other than
                                  Coastal Sharks.                                          sandbar sharks per
                                                                                           vessel per trip.
                                 Hammerhead Sharks  .................  .................  If quota is landed
                                                                                           quickly (e.g., if
                                                                                           approximately 40
                                                                                           percent of the quota
                                                                                           is caught at the
                                                                                           beginning of the
                                                                                           year), NMFS
                                                                                           anticipates
                                                                                           considering an
                                                                                           inseason reduction
                                                                                           and later considering
                                                                                           an inseason
                                                                                           increase.\1\
                                 Non-Blacknose      Linked (South of   January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                  Small Coastal      34[deg] N lat.
                                  Sharks.            only).
                                 Blacknose Sharks   .................  .................  8 blacknose sharks per
                                  (South of                                                vessel per trip
                                  34[deg] N lat.                                           (applies to directed
                                  only).                                                   and incidental permit
                                                                                           holders).
                                 Smoothhound        Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                  Sharks.
No regional quotas.............  Non-Sandbar LCS    Linked...........  January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                  Research.
                                 Sandbar Shark
                                  Research.
                                 Blue Sharks......  Not Linked.......  January 1, 2021..  N/A.
                                 Porbeagle Sharks.
                                 Pelagic Sharks
                                  Other Than
                                  Porbeagle or
                                  Blue.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ This action modifies the percent of quota harvested at which it considers adjusting the retention limit.
  NMFS will consider adjustment to 40 percent to allow fishermen in the Atlantic region to more fully utilize
  the quota.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the final rule 
is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the NMFS Assistant Administrator 
has determined that there is good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
the date of effectiveness for the adjusted quotas and opening dates for 
the pelagic shark, shark research, blacknose shark, non-blacknose small 
coastal shark, and non-sandbar large coastal shark fisheries in the 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, because such a delay is contrary 
to the public interest.
    A delay in the date of effectiveness for this rule would cause 
negative economic and ecological impacts as discussed below. Regarding 
the pelagic shark fishery, a delay in the effectiveness of the quotas 
in this rule would postpone the start of the 2021 pelagic shark fishery 
until 30 days after the publication date of this rule. Most pelagic 
shark species are captured incidentally in swordfish and tuna pelagic 
longline fisheries that will be open in early January. If the quotas in 
this rule are not made effective as close to January 1, 2021, as 
possible, fishermen in those fisheries will have to discard, dead or 
alive, any pelagic sharks that are caught, while quota is technically 
available to be used for their retention.
    Regarding the shark research fishery, NMFS selects a small number 
of fishermen to participate in the shark research fishery each year for 
the purpose of providing NMFS with biological and catch data to inform 
stock assessments and effectively manage the Atlantic shark fisheries. 
All trips in this fishery are monitored with 100 percent observer 
coverage. Delaying the opening of the shark research fishery would 
prevent NMFS from maintaining the data for the monthly time-series of 
wintertime abundance for shark species or collecting vital biological 
and regional data during this time of year. Not conducting the research 
trips could limit information available for stock assessments and, 
thus, NMFS' ability to properly manage the shark fisheries because 
needed information would not be available for stock assessments, which 
would be contrary to the public interest.
    Regarding the blacknose shark, non-blacknose small coastal shark, 
and smoothhound shark fisheries, these

[[Page 77011]]

fisheries have both a directed component, where fishermen target these 
shark species, and an incidental component, where fishermen target 
other species such as Spanish mackerel and bluefish, but may 
incidentally catch these shark species and potentially land them. The 
incidental fishery catches small coastal and smoothhound sharks 
throughout the year. Delaying this action for 30 days would force all 
fishermen to discard, dead or alive, any small coastal and smoothhound 
sharks that would be caught before this rule becomes effective. Opening 
the fishery as close to January 1, 2021, as possible ensures that any 
mortality associated with landings is counted against the commercial 
quota in real-time. Additionally, a month-long delay in opening the 
small coastal shark and smoothhound shark fisheries would occur during 
the time period when fishermen typically target these shark species, 
resulting in fishermen experiencing negative economic impacts, which 
would be contrary to the public interest.
    Regarding the non-sandbar large coastal shark fishery in the 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico region, opening on January 1, 2021, would 
allow south Atlantic fishermen to have a winter fishery and to 
potentially benefit from a better price per pound, given the geographic 
distribution of the sharks at this time of year. Delaying the opening 
of the non-sandbar large coastal shark fishery in the Atlantic and Gulf 
of Mexico region for an additional 30 days would have negative economic 
impacts on fishermen because they would not be able to fish for that 
period. Additionally, many of the primary species targeted in the non-
sandbar large coastal shark fisheries are locally available in the 
southern portion of the Atlantic region in January and a 30-day delay 
would cause fishermen to miss fishing opportunities, and the associated 
revenue. Therefore, delaying this action for 30 days is contrary to the 
public interest.
    For the reasons described above, the Assistant Administrator finds 
good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness of 
the quotas and opening dates for the pelagic shark, shark research, 
blacknose shark, non-blacknose small coastal shark, smoothhound shark, 
and non-sandbar large coastal shark fisheries in the Atlantic and Gulf 
of Mexico regions.
    These final specifications are exempt from review under Executive 
Order 12866.
    In compliance with section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
(RFA), NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for 
this final rule. The FRFA analyzes the anticipated economic impacts of 
the final actions and any significant economic impacts on small 
entities. The FRFA is below.
    Section 604(a)(1) of the RFA requires an explanation of the purpose 
of the rulemaking. The purpose of this final rule is, consistent with 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments, to establish the 2021 Atlantic commercial shark adjusted 
fishing quotas, retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this 
rule, the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries would close on December 
31, 2020, and would not reopen until appropriate action was taken. 
While there may be some direct negative economic impacts associated 
with the opening dates for fishermen in certain northern Atlantic 
areas, given the geographic distribution and migration patterns of the 
sharks at this time of year (i.e., they head north before moving south 
again later in the year), there could also be positive effects for 
other fishermen in the south Atlantic region. The opening dates were 
chosen to allow for an equitable distribution of the available quotas 
among all fishermen across regions and states, to the extent 
practicable.
    Section 604(a)(2) of the RFA requires NMFS to summarize significant 
issues raised by the public in response to the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), provide a summary of NMFS' assessment of 
such issues, and provide a statement of any changes made as a result of 
the comments. The IRFA was completed as part of the proposed rule for 
the 2021 Atlantic Commercial Shark Season Specifications. NMFS did not 
receive any comments specific to the IRFA.
    Section 604(a)(3) of the RFA requires NMFS to the respond to any 
comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) in response to the proposed rule and provide a 
detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rule as a result 
of the comments. NMFS did not receive any comments from the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA on the proposed rule.
    Section 604(a)(4) of the RFA requires NMFS to provide an estimate 
of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The SBA 
has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the 
United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA's 
regulations for an agency to develop its own industry-specific size 
standards after consultation with SBA and an opportunity for public 
comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may 
establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA 
Office of Size Standards, but only for use by NMFS and only for the 
purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of 
the agency's obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS 
must publish such size standards in the Federal Register, which NMFS 
did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81194; 50 CFR 200.2). In that final 
rule effective on July 1, 2016, NMFS established a small business size 
standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in 
the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance 
purposes. NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities 
because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for 
commercial fishing.
    As of October 2020, the final rule would apply to the approximately 
214 directed commercial shark permit holders, 256 incidental commercial 
shark permit holders, 163 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 93 
commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the 
fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit 
holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark 
based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 470 directed and 
incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 18 permit holders 
landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 74 landed sharks in 
the Atlantic region. Of the 163 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 
65 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and 
fewer than 4 landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. 
NMFS has determined that the final rule would not likely affect any 
small governmental jurisdictions.
    Section 604(a)(5) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the 
projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements 
of the final rule, including an estimate of the classes of small 
entities which would be subject to the requirements of the report or 
record. None of the actions in this final rule would result in 
additional reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirements beyond 
those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments.
    Section 604(a)(6) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the steps 
taken to minimize the economic impact on small entities, consistent 
with the stated objectives of applicable statutes. This rulemaking does 
not establish new management measures to be implemented, but rather 
implements

[[Page 77012]]

previously adopted and analyzed measures as adjustments within a range 
of previously-authorized activities, as specified in the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 
76302; December 8, 2010). Thus, in this rulemaking, NMFS adjusted 
certain baseline quotas established and analyzed in the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by subtracting the underharvest 
or adding the overharvest, as specified and allowable in existing 
regulations. Under current regulations (Sec.  635.27(b)(2)), all shark 
fisheries close on December 31 of each year, or when NMFS determines 
that the landings for any shark management group has reached, or is 
projected to reach, 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/
or sub-regional quota if the fishery's landings are not projected to 
reach 100 percent of the applicable quota before the end of the season, 
or when the quota-linked management group is closed. The fisheries do 
not open until NMFS takes action, such as this rulemaking, to re-open 
the fisheries. Thus, not implementing these management measures would 
negatively affect shark fishermen and related small entities, such as 
dealers, and also would not provide management flexibility in 
furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent 
practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas.
    Based on the 2019 ex-vessel meat and fin prices (Table 3), fully 
harvesting the unadjusted 2021 Atlantic shark commercial base quotas 
could result in total fleet revenues of $9,997,263. For the Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS will increase the baseline 
sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2020. The increase for 
the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result 
in a $241,691 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region, 
while the increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark 
management group could result in a $27,645 gain in total revenues for 
fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS will increase the baseline 
quotas due to the underharvest in 2020. This would cause a potential 
gain in revenue of $403,475 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region 
and a potential gain in revenue of $1,112,680 for the fleet in the 
Atlantic region.
    All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes 
in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments. The FRFAs for those amendments concluded that the economic 
impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark 
quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual 
rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting 
the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time.

                Table 3--Average Ex-Vessel Prices per lb dw for Each Shark Management Group, 2019
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Average  ex-    Average  ex-
                    Region                                   Species               vessel  meat     vessel  fin
                                                                                       price           price
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western Gulf of Mexico........................  Blacktip Shark..................           $0.70           $9.16
                                                Aggregated LCS..................            0.73           15.81
                                                Hammerhead Shark................            0.52           12.00
Eastern Gulf of Mexico........................  Blacktip Shark..................            0.75            8.00
                                                Aggregated LCS..................            0.56           12.00
                                                Hammerhead Shark................            0.50           13.43
Gulf of Mexico................................  Non-Blacknose SCS...............            0.59            5.81
                                                Smoothhound Shark...............            1.06  ..............
Atlantic......................................  Aggregated LCS..................            0.99            3.51
                                                Hammerhead Shark................            0.46  ..............
                                                Non-Blacknose SCS...............            1.02            4.60
                                                Blacknose Shark.................            1.27  ..............
                                                Smoothhound Shark...............            0.78            1.68
No Region.....................................  Shark Research Fishery                      0.86           15.15
                                                 (Aggregated LCS).
                                                Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar             0.68  ..............
                                                 only).
                                                Blue shark......................  ..............  ..............
                                                Porbeagle shark.................            0.36            2.51
                                                Other Pelagic sharks............            1.35            7.60
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For this final rule, NMFS reviewed the ``opening commercial fishing 
season'' criteria at Sec.  635.27(b)(3)(i) through (vii) to determine 
when opening each fishery will provide equitable opportunities for 
fishermen, to the extent practicable, while also considering the 
ecological needs of the different species. The 2020 fishing year and 
previous years' over- and/or underharvests were examined for the 
different species/complexes to determine the effects of the 2021 final 
quotas on fishermen across regional fishing areas. NMFS examined season 
lengths and previous catch rates to ensure equitable fishing 
opportunities for fishermen. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal 
variation of the different species/complexes and the effects on fishing 
opportunities. In addition to these criteria, NMFS also considered 
updated landings data and public comment on the proposed rule before 
arriving at the final opening dates for the 2021 Atlantic shark 
management groups. For the 2021 fishing year, NMFS is opening the shark 
management groups on January 1, 2021. The direct economic impacts will 
be neutral on a short- and long-term basis for the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark, Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS, Gulf of Mexico 
hammerhead shark, Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose shark SCS, Gulf of 
Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark, Atlantic non-blacknose shark 
SCS, Atlantic blacknose shark, sandbar shark, blue shark, porbeagle 
shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) 
management groups, because NMFS did not change the opening dates of 
these fisheries from the status quo of January 1.
    Opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups 
in the Atlantic region on January 1 will result in short-term, direct, 
moderate,

[[Page 77013]]

beneficial economic impacts, as fishermen and dealers in the southern 
portion of the Atlantic region will be able to fish for and sell 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks starting in January. The opening 
date finalized in this rule for the Atlantic region has been the same 
or similar to those since 2016.
    Based on past public comments, some Atlantic fishermen in the 
southern and northern parts of the region prefer a January 1 opening 
for the fishery as long as the majority of the quota is available later 
in the year. Along with the inseason retention limit adjustment 
criteria in Sec.  635.24(a)(8), NMFS monitors the quota through the HMS 
electronic reporting system on a real-time basis. This allows NMFS the 
flexibility to further provide equitable fishing opportunities for 
fishermen across all regions, to the extent practicable. The direct 
impacts to shark fishermen in the Atlantic region of reducing the 
retention limit depend on the needed reduction in the retention limit 
and the timing of such a reduction. Therefore, such a reduction in the 
retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders is 
only anticipated to have minor adverse direct economic impacts to 
fishermen in the short-term; long-term impacts are not anticipated as 
these reductions would not be permanent.
    In the northern portion of the Atlantic region, a January 1 opening 
for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups, with 
inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure quota is available later in 
the season, will have direct, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the 
short-term for fishermen as they will potentially have access to the 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas earlier than in past 
seasons. Fishermen in this area have stated that, depending on the 
weather, some aggregated LCS species might be available to retain in 
January. Thus, fishermen will be able to target or retain aggregated 
LCS while targeting non-blacknose SCS. In addition, opening the 
aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in January and 
using inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure the fishery is open 
later in the year in 2021 will cause beneficial cumulative economic 
impacts, because the action allows for a more equitable distribution of 
the quotas among constituents in this region, consistent with the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments.
    This rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, NMFS has prepared a listserv summarizing 
fishery information and regulations for Atlantic shark fisheries for 
2021. This listserv also serves as the small entity compliance guide. 
Copies of the compliance guide are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

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

    Dated: November 24, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-26341 Filed 11-30-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P