Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Revisions to Allowable Bycatch Reduction Devices
In accordance with the framework procedures for adjusting management measures of the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), NMFS issues this final rule to decertify the expanded mesh bycatch reduction device (BRD), the ``Gulf fisheye'' BRD, and the ``fisheye'' BRD, as currently specified, for use in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) shrimp fishery. NMFS is also certifying a new specification for the fisheye device to be used in the Gulf. In addition, this final rule incorporates a number of minor revisions to remove outdated regulatory text and revise references within regulatory text. The intended effect of this final rule is to improve bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery and better meet the requirements of national standard 9.
Sea Turtle Conservation; Fishing Gear Inspection Program
NMFS establishes an inspection program for modified pound net leaders in the Virginia waters of the mainstem Chesapeake Bay. Current regulations require modified pound net leaders, as defined in the regulations, in a portion of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay while also allowing them to be used in a different portion of the Chesapeake Bay. This action would help ensure that leaders used in those areas do in fact meet the definition of a modified pound net leader. This action, taken under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended, is intended to facilitate compliance with the existing regulation, which is designed to help protect threatened and endangered sea turtles.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Swordfish Quotas
This proposed rule would adjust the North and South Atlantic swordfish quotas for the 2008 fishing year (January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008) to account for underharvests, and to transfer 18.8 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) to Canada per the 2006 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) recommendations 06-02 and 06-03. The North Atlantic 2008 directed baseline quotas plus the 2007 underharvest would be divided equally between the semiannual periods of January through May and June through December. In addition, NMFS proposes to modify the vessel chartering regulations to potentially allow Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) limited access permit (LAP) holders to charter foreign vessels under a chartering arrangement where catches taken would count against U.S. Atlantic HMS quotas or entitlements.
Marine Mammals; File No. 87-1851
Notice is hereby given that Dr. Daniel P. Costa, Department of Biology and Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, has applied for an amendment to Scientific Research Permit No. 87-1851-00.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 30B
NMFS issues this proposed rule to implement Amendment 30B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This proposed rule would establish annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for commercial and recreational gag, red grouper, and shallow-water grouper (SWG); establish a commercial quota for gag; adjust the commercial quotas for red grouper and shallow-water grouper; establish an incidental bycatch allowance trip limit for commercial gag and red grouper; reduce the commercial minimum size limit for red grouper; reduce the gag bag limit and the aggregate grouper bag limit; increase the red grouper bag limit; extend the closed season for recreational shallow-water grouper; establish a new reef fish seasonal-area closure; eliminate the end date for the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves; and require that federally permitted reef fish vessels comply with the more restrictive of Federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing in state waters. In addition, Amendment 30B would establish management targets and thresholds for gag consistent with the requirements of the Sustainable Fisheries Act; set the gag and red grouper total allowable catch (TAC); and establish interim allocations for the commercial and recreational gag and red grouper fisheries. This proposed rule is intended to end overfishing of gag and maintain catch levels of red grouper consistent with achieving optimum yield.
Caribbean Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings
The Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council) and its Administrative Committee will hold meetings.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and its advisory committees will hold public meetings, December 10-16, 2008, in Anchorage, AK.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Inseason Action to Close the Commercial Porbeagle Shark Fishery
NMFS is closing the commercial fishery for porbeagle sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. This action is necessary because the porbeagle shark quotas for the 2008 fishing season have reached or are projected to have reached at least 80 percent of the available quota.
Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Application Form for Membership on a National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
Notice of Intent
In accordance with section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, the State of Wisconsin and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration intend to conduct a public scoping meeting on December 1, 2008, in Superior, Wisconsin, as part of NOAA's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Draft Management Plan (DEIS/DMP) process to solicit comments for the preparation of a DEIS/ DMP.
Evaluation of State Coastal Management Programs and National Estuarine Research Reserves
The NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) announces its intent to evaluate the performance of the Hudson River (New York) National Estuarine Research Reserve and the California Coastal Commission Coastal Management Program. The Coastal Zone Management Program evaluation will be conducted pursuant to section 312 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended (CZMA) and regulations at 15 CFR part 923, Subpart L. The National Estuarine Research Reserve evaluation will be conducted pursuant to sections 312 and 315 of the CZMA and regulations at 15 CFR Part 921, Subpart E and Part 923, Subpart L. The CZMA requires continuing review of the performance of states with respect to coastal program implementation. Evaluation of Coastal Management Programs and National Estuarine Research Reserves requires findings concerning the extent to which a state has met the national objectives, adhered to its Coastal Management Program document or Reserve final management plan approved by the Secretary of Commerce, and adhered to the terms of financial assistance awards funded under the CZMA. Each evaluation will include a site visit, consideration of public comments, and consultations with interested Federal, state, and local agencies and members of the public. A public meeting will be held as part of the site visit. Notice is hereby given of the dates of the site visits for the listed evaluations, and the dates, local times, and locations of the public meetings during the site visits.
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Annual Specifications
NMFS issues this final rule to implement the annual harvest guideline (HG) for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for the fishing season of July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. This HG has been calculated according to the regulations implementing the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and establishes allowable harvest levels for Pacific mackerel off the Pacific coast. The HG for the 2008-2009 fishing season is 40,000 metric tons (mt). If this total is reached, Pacific mackerel fishing will be closed to directed harvest and only incidental harvest will be allowed at a 45 percent by weight incidental catch rate when landed with other CPS, except that up to one mt of Pacific mackerel can be landed without landing any other CPS.