Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Retention Standard; Emergency Rule Extension
NMFS is exempting, through this emergency rule extension, trawl catcher/processor vessels (C/Ps) that are not specified in regulation as American Fisheries Act (AFA) vessels, and Amendment 80 cooperatives from the groundfish retention standard (GRS) program in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. The GRS was implemented to increase the retention and utilization of groundfish caught by the non-AFA trawl C/Ps and to respond to bycatch reduction goals described in National Standard 9. NMFS recently discovered that the regulatory methodology used to calculate compliance with and to enforce the GRS percentages established for 2010 and 2011 effectively require the sector to meet a GRS well above that considered by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council or that implemented by NMFS. As a result, the retention requirements are expected to impose significantly higher costs due to the increased level of retention and to generate an unanticipated level of noncompliance in the Amendment 80 fleet. Further, monitoring and enforcement of the GRS have proven far more complex, challenging, and potentially costly than anticipated by NMFS. This emergency rule extension is necessary to exempt non-AFA trawl C/Ps and Amendment 80 cooperatives from the minimum retention requirements of the GRS program for the remainder of the 2011 fishing season. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, and other applicable law.
Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; Horseshoe Crabs; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit
The Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, has made a preliminary determination that the subject exempted fishing permit (EFP) application submitted by Limuli Laboratories of Cape May Court House, NJ, contains all the required information and warrants further consideration. The proposed EFP would allow the harvest of up to 10,000 horseshoe crabs from the Carl N. Shuster Jr. Horseshoe Crab Reserve (Reserve) for biomedical purposes and require, as a condition of the EFP, the collection of data related to the status of horseshoe crabs within the reserve. The Acting Director has also made a preliminary determination that the activities authorized under the EFP would be consistent with the goals and objectives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Horseshoe Crab Interstate Fisheries Management Plan (FMP). However, further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Acting Director proposes to recommend that an EFP be issued that would allow up to two commercial fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations promulgated under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (Atlantic Coastal Act). The EFP would allow for an exemption from the Reserve. Regulations under the Atlantic Coastal Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed EFPs.
Marine Mammals; File No. 15748
Notice is hereby given that a permit has been issued to the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC), Seward, AK, to conduct research on marine mammals.
Marine Mammals; File No. 14329
Notice is hereby given that a major amendment to Permit No. 14329 has been issued to the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium (NPUMMRC), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC., Canada.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gag Grouper Management Measures
This final temporary rule, issued pursuant to NMFS' authority to issue emergency and interim rules under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), replaces a temporary rule made effective January 1, 2011, and implements interim measures to reduce overfishing of gag in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). This rule reduces the commercial quota for gag and, thus, the combined commercial quota for shallow-water grouper species (SWG), establishes a 2-month recreational season for gag, and suspends red grouper multi-use allocation in the Gulf grouper and tilefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, as recommended by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The rule will be effective for 180 days, unless superseded by subsequent rulemaking, although NMFS may extend its effectiveness for an additional 186 days pursuant to the Magnuson- Stevens Act. The intended effect of this final temporary rule is to reduce overfishing of the gag resource in the Gulf.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Rulemaking To Revise Critical Habitat for Hawaiian Monk Seals
We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose revising the current critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) by extending the current designation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) out to the 500-meter (m) depth contour and including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specific areas proposed for the MHI include terrestrial and marine habitat from 5 m inland from the shoreline extending seaward to the 500-m depth contour around: Kaula Island, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui Nui (including Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai), and Hawaii (except those areas that have been identified as not included in the designation). We propose to exclude the following areas from designation because the national security benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, and exclusion will not result in extinction of the species: Kingfisher Underwater Training area in marine areas off the northeast coast of Niihau; Pacific Missile Range Facility Main Base at Barking Sands, Kauai; Pacific Missile Range Facility Offshore Areas in marine areas off the western coast of Kauai; the Naval Defensive Sea Area and Puuloa Underwater Training Range in marine areas outside Pearl Harbor, Oahu; and the Shallow Water Minefield Sonar Training Range off the western coast of Kahoolawe in the Maui Nui area. We solicit comments on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts. We will consider additional information received prior to making a final designation.