Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 83832-83834 [2020-28215]

Download as PDF 83832 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 23, 2020 / Rules and Regulations By the Board, Board Members Begeman, Fuchs, and Oberman. Jeffrey Herzig, Clearance Clerk. (iii) Board action. The Chief, Section of Administration, Office of Proceedings will notify the fee waiver applicant of the decision to grant or deny the request for waiver or reduction. (3) Review. No third-party appeals of fee waiver or reduction decisions are permitted. * * * * * For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Surface Transportation Board amends part 1002 of title 49, chapter X, of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: [FR Doc. 2020–28408 Filed 12–22–20; 8:45 am] PART 1002—FEES BILLING CODE 4915–01–P 1. The authority citation for part 1002 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A), (a)(6)(B), and 553; 31 U.S.C. 9701; and 49 U.S.C. 1321. 2. Amend § 1002.2 by revising paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii) and adding paragraph (e)(3) to read as follows: ■ § 1002.2 Filing fees. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES * * * * * (e) * * * (1) Except as noted in this paragraph (e)(1), filing fees are waived for an application, petition, notice, tariff, contract summary, or other document that is filed by a federal government agency or a state or local government entity. A fee waiver is not available under this paragraph for a quasigovernmental entity or governmentsubsidized transportation company. A fee waiver is also not available to any state or local government entity that is acting in the capacity of a carrier or shipper or that owns or proposes to own a carrier and is before the agency in its proprietary role. (i) When to request. At the time that a filing is submitted to the Board, the fee waiver applicant may request a waiver of the fee prescribed in this part. Such request should be addressed to the Chief, Section of Administration, Office of Proceedings, Surface Transportation Board. (ii) Board action. The Board will either stamp the relevant filing with the notation ‘‘Filing Fee Waived,’’ or the fee waiver applicant will be notified of the decision to grant or deny the request for waiver by the Chief, Section of Administration, Office of Proceedings. (2) * * * (i) When to request. At the time that a filing is submitted to the Board, the fee waiver applicant may request a waiver or reduction of the fee prescribed in this part. Such request should be addressed to the Chief, Section of Administration, Office of Proceedings. (ii) Basis. The fee waiver applicant must show the waiver or reduction of the fee is in the best interest of the public, or that payment of the fee would impose an undue hardship on the fee waiver applicant. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02; RTID 0648–XA699] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) from the 28.9-mt General category December 2021 subquota to the January through March 2021 subquota period. This action is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: Effective January 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, sarah.mclaughlin@ noaa.gov, 978–281–9260, Nicholas Velseboer, nicholas.velseboer@ noaa.gov, or Larry Redd, larry.redd@ noaa.gov, 301–427–8503. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 and as implemented by the United States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota. The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. See § 635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January through March, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a ‘‘subquota’’ or portion of the annual General category quota. The baseline subquotas for each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for January through March; 277.9 mt for June through August; 147.3 mt for September; 72.2 mt for October through November; and 28.9 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward from one time period to the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods. Transfer of 19.5 mt From the December 2021 Subquota to the January Through March 2021 Subquota Under § 635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to this inseason quota transfer. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by BFT dealers provide valuable data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT, and potentially over a greater portion of the January through March time period, would support the continued collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including in December 2020 and during the winter fishery in the last several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 23, 2020 / Rules and Regulations and (ix)). Without a quota transfer from December 2021, the quota available for the January through March period would be 29.5 mt (5.3 percent of the General category quota), and participants would have to stop BFT fishing activities once that amount is met, while commercial-sized BFT may remain available in the areas where General category permitted vessels operate. Transferring 19.5 mt of the 28.9-mt quota available for December 2021 (with 28.9 mt representing 5.2 percent of the General category quota) would result in 49 mt (8.8 percent of the General category quota) being available for the January through March 2021 subquota period. This quota transfer would provide additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while preserving the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the winter BFT fishery at both the beginning and end of the calendar year. Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the fishing year (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the last several years. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. Any unused General category quota from the January through March subperiod that remains as of March 31 will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year (i.e., the June through August time period). In early 2020, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of quota from the December 2020 subquota to the January through March 2020 subquota period, resulting in a subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2020 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2020 period (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020). NMFS also made a transfer of 51 mt from the Reserve to the General category effective February 5, 2020, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 100 mt for the January through March 2020 period (85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020), and closed the General category fishery for the January through March subquota period effective February 24 (85 FR 10993, February 26, 2020). Under a one-fish General category daily retention limit (i.e., of large medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) effective January 1 through February 24, a total of 124.1 mt were landed. NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2021 landings and dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2021 landings and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that. Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of the availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent consistent with the available amount of transferrable quota and other management objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance. NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent with the current quotas, which were established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule (83 FR 51391, October 11, 2018), and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments and is not expected to negatively impact stock health or to affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those documents. Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this includes providing opportunity equitably across all time periods. NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2020 adjusted U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2021 and placed in the Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations. This, in addition to the fact that any unused General category quota will roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year, as well as NMFS’ plan to actively manage the subquotas to avoid any exceedances, makes it likely that General category quota will remain available through the end of 2021 for December fishery participants, even with the quota transfer. NMFS also may choose to transfer unused quota from the Reserve or other categories, inseason, based on consideration of the determination criteria, as NMFS did for late 2020. PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 83833 NMFS anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2021, through active inseason management actions such as retention limit adjustments and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable. Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt of the 28.9-mt General category quota allocated for the December 2021 period to the January through March 2021 period, resulting in a subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2021 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 period. Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landings reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872–8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.). Under § 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a maximum of five per vessel based on consideration of the relevant criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). However, at this time, NMFS is maintaining the default daily retention limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel per day/trip (§ 635.23(a)(2)) for the January through March 2021 General category fishery. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip, no more than a single day’s retention limit may be possessed, retained, or landed. For example (and specific to the limit that will apply beginning January 1, 2021), whether a vessel fishing under the General category limit takes a 2-day trip or makes two trips in 1 day, the daily limit of one fish may not be exceeded upon landing. This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT, and applies to those vessels permitted in the General category, as well as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 83834 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 23, 2020 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., quota adjustment, daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) is necessary to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. As needed, NMFS will close the General category fishery when the adjusted January through March period subquota has been reached. Even if the adjusted subquota is not reached, the General category fishery will close automatically on March 31, 2021, and will remain closed until it reopens on June 1, 2021. Fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is consistent with regulations at 50 CFR part 635, which were issued pursuant to section 304(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons: The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments provide for inseason quota transfers to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer for the January through March 2021 subquota period is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as NMFS could not have proposed this action earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated landings data, including the recently available December 2020 data, in deciding to transfer a portion of the December 2021 subquota to the January through March 2021 subquota. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having appropriately considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 the regulatory criteria, and/or could result in selection of a retention limit inappropriately high for the amount of quota available for the period. This action does not raise conservation and management concerns. Transferring quota within the General category does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and available data shows the adjustment would have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS notes that the public had an opportunity to comment on the underlying rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT quota and the inseason adjustment criteria. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: December 17, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–28215 Filed 12–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [[Docket No. 200221–0062] RTID 0648–XA725 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason Adjustment to the 2021 Gulf of Alaska Pollock and Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the 2021 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts for the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) pollock and Pacific cod fishery. This action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the GOA pollock and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate amount based on the best available scientific information for pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. DATES: Effective 0001 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 1, 2021, until PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 the effective date of the final 2021 and 2022 harvest specifications for GOA groundfish, unless otherwise modified or superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal Register. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 7, 2021. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2019–0102 by any of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20190102, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802–1668. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020 and revision to implement Amendment 109, 85 FR 74266, November 20, 2020) set the 2021 pollock TAC at 119,239 metric tons (mt) in the GOA. In December 2020, the Council recommended a 2021 pollock TAC of 113,227 mt for the GOA, which is less than the 119,239 mt established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 23, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 83832-83834]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-28215]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02; RTID 0648-XA699]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin 
tuna (BFT) from the 28.9-mt General category December 2021 subquota to 
the January through March 2021 subquota period. This action is based on 
consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding 
inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category 
(commercial) permitted vessels and Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
(HMS) Charter/Headboat category vessels with a commercial sale 
endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.

DATES: Effective January 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin, 
[email protected], 978-281-9260, Nicholas Velseboer, 
[email protected], or Larry Redd, [email protected], 301-
427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) and as implemented by the United States among the various 
domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 
2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments. 
NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide 
U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the 
ICCAT-recommended quota.
    The current baseline General and Reserve category quotas are 555.7 
mt and 29.5 mt, respectively. See Sec.  635.27(a). Each of the General 
category time periods (January through March, June through August, 
September, October through November, and December) is allocated a 
``subquota'' or portion of the annual General category quota. The 
baseline subquotas for each time period are as follows: 29.5 mt for 
January through March; 277.9 mt for June through August; 147.3 mt for 
September; 72.2 mt for October through November; and 28.9 mt for 
December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward from one time 
period to the next and is available for use in subsequent time periods.

Transfer of 19.5 mt From the December 2021 Subquota to the January 
Through March 2021 Subquota

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota 
among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory 
determination criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). NMFS has 
considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their 
applicability to this inseason quota transfer. These considerations 
include, but are not limited to, the following:
    Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in 
the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the 
status of the stock (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples 
collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by 
BFT dealers provide valuable data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT 
age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional 
opportunity to land BFT, and potentially over a greater portion of the 
January through March time period, would support the continued 
collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock 
monitoring purposes.
    NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to 
date (including in December 2020 and during the winter fishery in the 
last several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of 
the fishery if no adjustment is made (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(ii)

[[Page 83833]]

and (ix)). Without a quota transfer from December 2021, the quota 
available for the January through March period would be 29.5 mt (5.3 
percent of the General category quota), and participants would have to 
stop BFT fishing activities once that amount is met, while commercial-
sized BFT may remain available in the areas where General category 
permitted vessels operate. Transferring 19.5 mt of the 28.9-mt quota 
available for December 2021 (with 28.9 mt representing 5.2 percent of 
the General category quota) would result in 49 mt (8.8 percent of the 
General category quota) being available for the January through March 
2021 subquota period. This quota transfer would provide additional 
opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while 
preserving the opportunity for General category fishermen to 
participate in the winter BFT fishery at both the beginning and end of 
the calendar year.
    Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the 
particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the 
additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the 
fishing year (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General 
category landings over the last several years. Landings are highly 
variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing 
conditions, among other factors. Any unused General category quota from 
the January through March subperiod that remains as of March 31 will 
roll forward to the next subperiod within the calendar year (i.e., the 
June through August time period). In early 2020, NMFS transferred 19.5 
mt of quota from the December 2020 subquota to the January through 
March 2020 subquota period, resulting in a subquota of 49 mt for the 
January through March 2020 period and a subquota of 9.4 mt for the 
December 2020 period (85 FR 17, January 2, 2020). NMFS also made a 
transfer of 51 mt from the Reserve to the General category effective 
February 5, 2020, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 100 mt for the 
January through March 2020 period (85 FR 6828, February 6, 2020), and 
closed the General category fishery for the January through March 
subquota period effective February 24 (85 FR 10993, February 26, 2020). 
Under a one-fish General category daily retention limit (i.e., of large 
medium or giant BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or 
greater) effective January 1 through February 24, a total of 124.1 mt 
were landed.
    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for 
other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2021 landings and 
dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have 
been below the available U.S. quota such that the United States has 
carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT 
from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2021 landings 
and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations, and anticipates having sufficient quota to do that. 
Thus, this quota transfer would allow fishermen to take advantage of 
the availability of fish on the fishing grounds to the extent 
consistent with the available amount of transferrable quota and other 
management objectives, while avoiding quota exceedance.
    NMFS also considered the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock 
and the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This 
transfer would be consistent with the current quotas, which were 
established and analyzed in the 2018 BFT quota final rule (83 FR 51391, 
October 11, 2018), and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
and amendments and is not expected to negatively impact stock health or 
to affect the stock in ways not already analyzed in those documents. 
Another principal consideration is the objective of providing 
opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota without 
exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis 
and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their 
full BFT quota allocations (related to Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific 
to the General category, this includes providing opportunity equitably 
across all time periods.
    NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2020 adjusted 
U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2021 and placed in the 
Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations. This, in addition 
to the fact that any unused General category quota will roll forward to 
the next subperiod within the calendar year, as well as NMFS' plan to 
actively manage the subquotas to avoid any exceedances, makes it likely 
that General category quota will remain available through the end of 
2021 for December fishery participants, even with the quota transfer. 
NMFS also may choose to transfer unused quota from the Reserve or other 
categories, inseason, based on consideration of the determination 
criteria, as NMFS did for late 2020. NMFS anticipates that General 
category participants in all areas and time periods will have 
opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2021, through 
active inseason management actions such as retention limit adjustments 
and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable.
    Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt of 
the 28.9-mt General category quota allocated for the December 2021 
period to the January through March 2021 period, resulting in a 
subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2021 period and a 
subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 period.

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are 
required to submit landings reports within 24 hours of a dealer 
receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to 
timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to 
report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours 
of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov 
or by using the HMS Catch Reporting app, or calling (888) 872-8862 
(Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).
    Under Sec.  635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily 
retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range of zero to a 
maximum of five per vessel based on consideration of the relevant 
criteria provided under Sec.  635.27(a)(8). However, at this time, NMFS 
is maintaining the default daily retention limit of one large medium or 
giant BFT per vessel per day/trip (Sec.  635.23(a)(2)) for the January 
through March 2021 General category fishery. Regardless of the duration 
of a fishing trip, no more than a single day's retention limit may be 
possessed, retained, or landed. For example (and specific to the limit 
that will apply beginning January 1, 2021), whether a vessel fishing 
under the General category limit takes a 2-day trip or makes two trips 
in 1 day, the daily limit of one fish may not be exceeded upon landing. 
This General category retention limit is effective in all areas, except 
for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT, 
and applies to those vessels permitted in the General category, as well 
as to those HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial 
sale

[[Page 83834]]

endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.
    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., quota adjustment, 
daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) is necessary to ensure 
available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific data 
collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If 
needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal 
Register. As needed, NMFS will close the General category fishery when 
the adjusted January through March period subquota has been reached. 
Even if the adjusted subquota is not reached, the General category 
fishery will close automatically on March 31, 2021, and will remain 
closed until it reopens on June 1, 2021. Fishermen may call the 
Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access 
hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason 
adjustments.

Classification

    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. This action is consistent with regulations at 50 CFR part 
635, which were issued pursuant to section 304(c) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments provide for inseason quota transfers to respond to the 
unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the 
migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the 
BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment 
to implement the quota transfer for the January through March 2021 
subquota period is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as 
NMFS could not have proposed this action earlier, as it needed to 
consider and respond to updated landings data, including the recently 
available December 2020 data, in deciding to transfer a portion of the 
December 2021 subquota to the January through March 2021 subquota. If 
NMFS was to offer a public comment period now, after having 
appropriately considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from 
harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the 
regulatory criteria, and/or could result in selection of a retention 
limit inappropriately high for the amount of quota available for the 
period. This action does not raise conservation and management 
concerns. Transferring quota within the General category does not 
affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and available data shows the 
adjustment would have a minimal risk of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated 
quota. NMFS notes that the public had an opportunity to comment on the 
underlying rulemakings that established the U.S. BFT quota and the 
inseason adjustment criteria. For all of the above reasons, there is 
good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness.

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

    Dated: December 17, 2020.
Jennifer M. Wallace,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-28215 Filed 12-22-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P