Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 72857-72859 [2021-27898]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 4. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.21: ■ a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i); ■ b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and ■ c. Revise the first sentence in paragraphs (b)(11)(i) and (b)(11)(ii)(A) introductory text. The revisions read as follows: ■ § 622.21 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf red snapper. (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. * * * * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for Gulf red snapper as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the NMFS IFQ website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov/, may establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted vessel. * * * * * * * * (11) * * * (i) * * * A current participant in the red snapper IFQ program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. * * * (ii) * * * (A) To establish an IFQ account, a person must first complete the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov. * * * * * * * * ■ 5. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.22: ■ a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i); ■ b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and ■ c. Revise the first sentence in paragraph (b)(11)(i). The revisions read as follows: jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 § 622.22 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. * * * * * * * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for the applicable species, as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the NMFS IFQ website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, may establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted vessel. * * * * * * * * (11) * * * (i) A current participant in the Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. * * * * * * * * ■ 6. Effective December 23, 2021, in § 622.41, revise paragraph (k) to read as follows: § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (k) Lane snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, as specified in this paragraph (k), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. The stock ACL for lane snapper is 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg), round weight. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–27752 Filed 12–22–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02; RTID 0648–XB640] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the 28.9-mt General category December 2022 subquota to the January through March 2022 subquota SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 72857 period. The adjusted General category January through March 2022 subquota is 49 mt. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens January 1, 2022, the daily retention limit will be one large medium or giant bluefin tuna (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) per vessel per day/trip. This action is intended to provide further opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the January through March General category fishery, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. Effective January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Redd, Jr., larry.redd@noaa.gov, 301–427–8503, Nicholas Velseboer, nicholas.velsboer@noaa.gov, 978–281– 9260, or Thomas Warren, thomas.warren@noaa.gov, 978–281– 9347. Atlantic HMS fisheries, including BFT fisheries, are managed 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.). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 divides 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 HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest quotas under relevant international fishery agreements such as the ICCAT Convention, which is implemented domestically pursuant to ATCA. The baseline General category quota is 555.7 mt. The General category baseline subquota for the January through March time-period is 29.5 mt. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 72858 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Transfer of 19.5 mt From the December 2022 Subquota to the January Through March 2022 Subquota Under § 635.27(a)(1)(ii), NMFS has the authority to transfer subquota from one time period to another time period through inseason action after considering 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 tuna dealers provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category would support the 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 2021 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) and (ix)). Without a quota transfer from the December 2022 subquota period, the quota available for the January through March period would be 29.5 mt and participants would have to stop BFT fishing activities once that amount is met, while commercial-sized BFT remain available in the areas where General category permitted vessels operate. Transferring 19.5 mt of the 28.9-mt quota available for the December 2022 subquota period would result in 49 mt (29.5 mt + 19.5 mt = 49 mt) being available for the January through March 2022 subquota period. This quota transfer would provide limited additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT quota while avoiding 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 General category quota 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. NMFS may adjust each period’s subquota based on overharvest or underharvest in the prior period and may transfer subquota from one time period to another time period. By allowing for such quota adjustments and transfers, NMFS anticipates that the General category quota would be used before the end of the fishing year. For 2021, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of quota from the December 2021 subquota period to the January through March 2021 subquota period, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2021 period and an adjusted subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 period (85 FR 83832, December 23, 2020). NMFS also made a transfer of 26 mt from the Reserve to the General category effective February 8, 2021, resulting in an adjusted subquota of 75 mt for the January through March 2021 period (86 FR 8717, February 9, 2021), and closed the General category fishery for the January through March subquota period effective February 27, 2021 (86 FR 12291). NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the BFT fishery might be exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2022 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 2022 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 FMP (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent with established quotas and subquotas, which are implemented consistent with ICCAT recommendations (established in Recommendation 17–06 and maintained in Recommendation 20–06), ATCA, and the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. While not yet implemented, NMFS anticipates this transfer would also be consistent with PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 ICCAT Recommendation 21–07. In establishing these quotas and subquotas and associated management measures, ICCAT and NMFS considered the best scientific information available, objectives for stock management and status, and effects on the stock. This quota transfer is in line with the established management measures and stock status determinations. Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the available General category quota without exceeding the annual quota, based on the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to allow all permit categories a reasonable opportunity to harvest available BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, this includes providing opportunities equitably across all time-periods. NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2021 adjusted U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2022 and placed in the Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations. This, in addition to the fact that NMFS may adjust each period’s subquota based on overharvest or underharvest in the prior period, 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 2022 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 2021. NMFS anticipates that General category participants in all areas and time periods will have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2022, through active inseason management actions such as retention limit adjustments and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable. Given these considerations, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt of the available 28.9-mt General category quota allocated for the December 2022 period to the January through March 2022 period, resulting in an adjusted January through March 2022 subquota of 49 mt, and an adjusted December 2022 subquota of 9.4 mt. The General category fishery will remain open until March 31, 2022, or until the adjusted General category quota is reached, whichever comes first. E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Monitoring and Reporting NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS’ ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General category and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or the 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 2022 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, 2022), 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 endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional adjustments (e.g., quota adjustment, daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) are necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281–9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 quota monitoring and inseason adjustments. Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and regulations at 50 CFR part 635 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for NMFS 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 its amendments provide for inseason adjustments 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, an opportunity for public comment, and a delay in effective date regarding this quota transfer for the January through March 2022 subquota period is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. NMFS could not have proposed this action earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated landings data, including the recently available December 2021 data, in deciding to transfer a portion of the December 2022 subquota to the January through March 2022 subquota. If NMFS was to offer a public comment period or delay in effective date now, after having appropriately considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the regulatory criteria. This action does not raise conservation and management concerns. Transferring quota within the General category does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and 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. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq. Dated: December 20, 2021. Ngagne Jafnar Gueye, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–27898 Filed 12–20–21; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 72859 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 211217–0262; RTID 0648– XX072] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; 2022 and Projected 2023 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS announces 2022 and projected 2023 specifications for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea fisheries. The implementing regulations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species. This action is intended to inform the public of the specifications for the start of the 2022 fishing year for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. DATES: This rule is effective January 1, 2022. ADDRESSES: A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the 2022–2023 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass specifications. Copies of the SIR are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The SIR is also accessible via the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/s/ SFSBSB_2022-2023_specs_SIR_ final.pdf. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Keiley, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9116. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: General Background The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) outlines the Council’s process for establishing specifications. The FMP requires NMFS to set an acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 244 (Thursday, December 23, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 72857-72859]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-27898]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 180117042-8884-02; RTID 0648-XB640]


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin 
tuna (BFT) quota from the 28.9-mt General category December 2022 
subquota to the January through March 2022 subquota period. The 
adjusted General category January through March 2022 subquota is 49 mt. 
NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery 
reopens January 1, 2022, the daily retention limit will be one large 
medium or giant bluefin tuna (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved 
fork length or greater) per vessel per day/trip. This action is 
intended to provide further opportunities for General category 
fishermen to participate in the January through March General category 
fishery, based on consideration of the regulatory determination 
criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic Tunas 
General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory 
Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale 
endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.

DATES: Effective January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Redd, Jr., [email protected], 
301-427-8503, Nicholas Velseboer, [email protected], 978-281-
9260, or Thomas Warren, [email protected], 978-281-9347.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic HMS fisheries, including BFT 
fisheries, are managed 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.). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations 
at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 divides 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 HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS 
is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing 
vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest quotas under relevant 
international fishery agreements such as the ICCAT Convention, which is 
implemented domestically pursuant to ATCA.
    The baseline General category quota is 555.7 mt. The General 
category baseline subquota for the January through March time-period is 
29.5 mt.

[[Page 72858]]

Transfer of 19.5 mt From the December 2022 Subquota to the January 
Through March 2022 Subquota

    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(1)(ii), NMFS has the authority to transfer 
subquota from one time period to another time period through inseason 
action after considering 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 
tuna dealers provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing 
scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive 
status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category 
would support the continued collection of a broad range of data for 
these studies and for stock monitoring purposes.[FEDREG][VOL]*[/
VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/DATE][RULES][RULE][PREAMB][AGENCY]*[/
AGENCY][SUBJECT]*[/SUBJECT][/PREAMB][SUPLINF][HED]*[/HED]
    NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to 
date (including in December 2021 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) and (ix)). 
Without a quota transfer from the December 2022 subquota period, the 
quota available for the January through March period would be 29.5 mt 
and participants would have to stop BFT fishing activities once that 
amount is met, while commercial-sized BFT remain available in the areas 
where General category permitted vessels operate. Transferring 19.5 mt 
of the 28.9-mt quota available for the December 2022 subquota period 
would result in 49 mt (29.5 mt + 19.5 mt = 49 mt) being available for 
the January through March 2022 subquota period. This quota transfer 
would provide limited additional opportunities to harvest the U.S. BFT 
quota while avoiding 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 
General category quota 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. 
NMFS may adjust each period's subquota based on overharvest or 
underharvest in the prior period and may transfer subquota from one 
time period to another time period. By allowing for such quota 
adjustments and transfers, NMFS anticipates that the General category 
quota would be used before the end of the fishing year. For 2021, NMFS 
transferred 19.5 mt of quota from the December 2021 subquota period to 
the January through March 2021 subquota period, resulting in an 
adjusted subquota of 49 mt for the January through March 2021 period 
and an adjusted subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 period (85 FR 
83832, December 23, 2020). NMFS also made a transfer of 26 mt from the 
Reserve to the General category effective February 8, 2021, resulting 
in an adjusted subquota of 75 mt for the January through March 2021 
period (86 FR 8717, February 9, 2021), and closed the General category 
fishery for the January through March subquota period effective 
February 27, 2021 (86 FR 12291).
    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for 
other gear categories of the BFT fishery might be exceeded (Sec.  
635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2022 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 2022 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 FMP 
(Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). This transfer would be consistent 
with established quotas and subquotas, which are implemented consistent 
with ICCAT recommendations (established in Recommendation 17-06 and 
maintained in Recommendation 20-06), ATCA, and the objectives of the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. While not yet implemented, 
NMFS anticipates this transfer would also be consistent with ICCAT 
Recommendation 21-07. In establishing these quotas and subquotas and 
associated management measures, ICCAT and NMFS considered the best 
scientific information available, objectives for stock management and 
status, and effects on the stock. This quota transfer is in line with 
the established management measures and stock status determinations. 
Another principal consideration is the objective of providing 
opportunities to harvest the available General category quota without 
exceeding the annual quota, based on the objectives of the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, including to achieve optimum 
yield on a continuing basis and to allow all permit categories a 
reasonable opportunity to harvest available BFT quota allocations 
(related to Sec.  635.27(a)(8)(x)). Specific to the General category, 
this includes providing opportunities equitably across all time-
periods.
    NMFS also anticipates that some underharvest of the 2021 adjusted 
U.S. BFT quota will be carried forward to 2022 and placed in the 
Reserve category, in accordance with the regulations. This, in addition 
to the fact that NMFS may adjust each period's subquota based on 
overharvest or underharvest in the prior period, 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 2022 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 2021. NMFS anticipates 
that General category participants in all areas and time periods will 
have opportunities to harvest the General category quota in 2022, 
through active inseason management actions such as retention limit 
adjustments and/or the timing of quota transfers, as practicable.
    Given these considerations, NMFS is transferring 19.5 mt of the 
available 28.9-mt General category quota allocated for the December 
2022 period to the January through March 2022 period, resulting in an 
adjusted January through March 2022 subquota of 49 mt, and an adjusted 
December 2022 subquota of 9.4 mt. The General category fishery will 
remain open until March 31, 2022, or until the adjusted General 
category quota is reached, whichever comes first.[FEDREG][VOL]*[/
VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/DATE][RULES][RULE][PREAMB][AGENCY]*[/
AGENCY][SUBJECT]*[/SUBJECT][/PREAMB][SUPLINF][HED]*[/HED]

[[Page 72859]]

Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are 
required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer 
receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to 
timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustments, 
as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. 
Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, 
General category and HMS Charter/Headboat vessel owners are required to 
report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours 
of the landing(s) or the 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 2022 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, 2022), 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 endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.
    Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, 
NMFS may determine that additional adjustments (e.g., quota adjustment, 
daily retention limit adjustment, or closure) are necessary to ensure 
available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data 
collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If 
needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal 
Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas 
Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for 
updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments.

Classification

    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and regulations at 50 CFR part 635 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS 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 its 
amendments provide for inseason adjustments 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, an opportunity for public comment, 
and a delay in effective date regarding this quota transfer for the 
January through March 2022 subquota period is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest. NMFS could not have proposed this 
action earlier, as it needed to consider and respond to updated 
landings data, including the recently available December 2021 data, in 
deciding to transfer a portion of the December 2022 subquota to the 
January through March 2022 subquota. If NMFS was to offer a public 
comment period or delay in effective date now, after having 
appropriately considered that data, it could preclude fishermen from 
harvesting BFT that are legally available consistent with all of the 
regulatory criteria. This action does not raise conservation and 
management concerns. Transferring quota within the General category 
does not affect the overall U.S. BFT quota, and 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. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. 
For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to 
waive the 30-day delay in effective date.

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

    Dated: December 20, 2021.
Ngagne Jafnar Gueye,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-27898 Filed 12-20-21; 4:15 pm]
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