Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Scoping Process; Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public Hearings
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Mid-Atlantic Council) announces its intention to prepare, in cooperation with NMFS, an EIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act to assess potential effects on the human environment of alternative measures to protect deep-sea corals in the Mid-Atlantic region. This notice announces a public process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed, and for identifying the significant issues related to deep-sea coral protections in the Mid-Atlantic. This notice is to alert the interested public of the scoping process, the development of the Draft EIS, and to provide for public participation in that process. If, during development of the Draft EIS, it can be determined that the alternatives are not expected to have significant impacts on the human environment, an Environmental Assessment (EA) may be prepared in place of an EIS. This determination will depend on the scope of issues raised and the alternatives developed. Information obtained during the scoping process will be used to develop either an EIS or an EA as appropriate. This action is necessary to provide analytical support for an amendment (Amendment 16) to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB), which addresses protections of deep-sea corals from the impacts of fishing gear.
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a forthcoming meeting of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC). The members will discuss and provide advice on issues outlined in the agenda below.
International Pacific Halibut Commission Appointments
In Spring 2012, NOAA Fisheries publicly solicited nominations for two presidential appointments to serve as U.S. Commissioners to the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). While the nomination list included many strong candidates, the combination of a number of factors resulted in the decision to re-initiate this public nomination process. These factors include heightened interest by diverse user groups, the lapse of time since original nominees expressed interest in an appointment, and considerations of balanced representation on the Commission. In their official IPHC duties, Commissioners represent the interests of the United States and all of its stakeholders in the Pacific halibut fishery, while working to develop the Pacific halibut stocks to levels that will permit the optimum yield from the Pacific halibut fishery. Thus, NOAA is again soliciting nominations for two individuals to serve as U.S. Commissioners to the IPHC.
Draft 2012 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports
NMFS reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs) in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and solicited public comment on draft 2012 SARs. Subsequently, SARs for ten stocks of marine mammals in the Atlantic region have been updated with revised abundance estimates and some corrections to bycatch estimates. NMFS solicits public comments on revised draft 2012 SARs for these ten stocks.
High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act; Identification and Certification Procedures To Address Shark Conservation
This final action sets forth identification and certification procedures to implement provisions of the Shark Conservation Act, which amended the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium Protection Act), to address shark conservation in areas beyond any national jurisdiction. This action also amends the definition of illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing for purposes of the Moratorium Protection Act.
Endangered and Threatened Species: Designation of a Nonessential Experimental Population for Middle Columbia River Steelhead above the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project in the Deschutes River Basin, OR
We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), are issuing a final rule to authorize the continued release of Middle Columbia River (MCR) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that are currently being reintroduced as part of an ongoing reintroduction effort into the upper Deschutes River basin in portions of Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes Counties, Oregon, and designate them as a nonessential experimental population (NEP) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. The geographic boundaries of the NEP extend upstream from Round Butte Dam on the Deschutes River (about river mile (RM) 110, river kilometer (rkm) 177) and all accessible reaches of the Deschutes River and its tributary Whychus Creek; on the Crooked River from its confluence with the Deschutes River upstream to Bowman Dam (RM 70, rkm 113) and all accessible tributaries between these points; and on the Metolius River from its confluence with the Deschutes River upstream to all accessible tributaries between these points. This NEP designation will have an expiration date 12 years from the effective date of this final rule. We anticipate providing a notice in the Federal Register about 1 year before the NEP designation is set to expire to provide adequate notice to the public.
Marine Mammals; File Nos. 14451, 14353, and 13846
Notice is hereby given that Joseph Mobley, Jr., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2528 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, HI 96816; Ann Zoidis, Cetos Research Organization, 33 Echo Ave., Suite 5, Oakland, CA 94611; and Jim Darling, Ph.D., Whale Trust, P.O. Box 384, Tofino, BC V0R2Z0, Canada, have applied for amendments to Scientific Research Permit Nos. 14451, 14353, and 13846, respectively.
Marine Mammals; File No. 17005
Notice is hereby given that Peter Rogers, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Atlanta, GA 30332, has applied in due form for a permit to conduct research on cetacean species not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council)-Public Meetings
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will hold a series of scoping meetings and public hearings pertaining to Amendment 5 to the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and Amendment 27 to the Snapper Grouper FMP.
Availability of Seats for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
The ONMS is seeking applications for the following vacant seats on the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: recreational fishing, research, education, and conservation. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve 3-year terms, pursuant to the council's charter.
Notice of Applicability of Special Use Permit Requirements to Certain Categories of Activities Conducted Within the National Marine Sanctuary System
In accordance with a requirement of Public Law 106-513 (16 U.S.C. 1441(b)), NOAA hereby gives public notice of the applicability of the special use permit requirements of Section 310 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act to certain categories of activities conducted within the National Marine Sanctuary System. In addition, NOAA is seeking public comment on the subject of special use permits.
Endangered Species; File No. 16645
Notice is hereby given that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) has been issued a permit for the incidental take of shortnose (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Atlantic sturgeon (A. oxyrinchus) associated with the otherwise lawful commercial shad fishery in Georgia.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Designation of Critical Habitat for Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead
We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for lower Columbia River coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Puget Sound steelhead (O. mykiss), currently listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The specific areas proposed for designation for lower Columbia River coho include approximately 2,288 mi (3,681 km) of freshwater and estuarine habitat in Oregon and Washington. The specific areas proposed for designation for Puget Sound steelhead include approximately 1,880 mi (3,026 km) of freshwater and estuarine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. We propose to exclude a number of particular areas from designation because the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species. We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed designations, as well as the benefits to the species from designations. We will consider additional information received prior to making final designations.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will convene a conference call of its Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team (CPSMT) and Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (CPSAS). A listening station will be available at the Pacific Council offices for interested members of the public, and there may be opportunities to attend the meeting remotely.
New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC); Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a four-day meeting on January 28-31, 2013 to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Construction of the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
In accordance with provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) has been issued to the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) to take small numbers of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whales, by harassment, incidental to construction of a replacement bridge for the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SF- OBB) in California.
Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit
NMFS announces the receipt of exempted fishing permit (EFP) applications for 2013 and 2014, and is considering issuance of EFPs for vessels participating in the EFP fisheries. The EFPs are necessary to allow activities that are otherwise prohibited by Federal regulations. The EFPs would be effective no earlier than February 11, 2013, and would expire no later than December 31, 2014, but could be terminated earlier under terms and conditions of the EFPs and other applicable laws.
Nominations to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
Nominations are being sought for an appointment by the Secretary of Commerce to fill one vacancy on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC or Committee) beginning in the spring of 2013. MAFAC is the only Federal advisory committee with the responsibility to advise the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) on all matters concerning living marine resources that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. The Committee makes recommendations to the Secretary to assist in the development and implementation of Departmental regulations, policies and programs critical to the mission and goals of the NMFS. NMFS seeks to restore the geographic balance of the Committee created by recent vacancies and encourages candidates from the Hawaii region to apply, although nominations from all interested and qualified parties will be accepted. Nominees should possess demonstrable expertise in a field related to the management of living marine resources and be able to fulfill the time commitments required for two annual meetings. Individuals serve for a term of three years for no more than two consecutive terms if re-appointed.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Proposed Rule To Implement a Targeted Acadian Redfish Fishery for Sector Vessels; Reopening of Comment Period
This action reopens the comment period for an Acadian redfish- related proposed rule that published on November 8, 2012. The original comment period closed on November 23, 2012. This action clarifies a bycatch threshold incorrectly explained in the proposed rule. The public comment period is being reopened to solicit additional public comment on this correction.
Nominations for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Advisory Committee
NMFS, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, is seeking nominations for the advisory committee established under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (Act). The advisory committee, to be composed of individuals from groups concerned with the fisheries covered by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention (Convention), will be given the opportunity to provide input to the United States Commissioners to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (Commission) regarding the deliberations and decisions of the Commission.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; St. George Reef Light Station Restoration and Maintenance at Northwest Seal Rock, Del Norte County, CA
We have received an application from the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society (Society), for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting aircraft operations, lighthouse renovation, and light maintenance activities on the St. George Reef Light Station on Northwest Seal Rock (NWSR) in the northeast Pacific Ocean from the period of February through April, 2013 and during the period of November through December, 2013. Per the Marine Mammal Protection Act, we are requesting comments on our proposal to issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Society to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, four species of marine mammals during the specified activity.
Boundary Expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries; Intent To Prepare Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Meetings
On December 21, 2012, NOAA published a notice of intent in the Federal Register to revise the boundaries of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries. This document makes a correction to the dates of the scoping meetings. The end of the scoping period remains March 1, 2013.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish
Notice is hereby given that NMFS has issued Permit 14808 to the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Permit 15573 to the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID), Permit 16543 to the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR), Permit 13791 to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Permit 17077 to Dr. Peter Moyle with the University of California, Davis (UCD).
Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish
Notice is hereby given that NMFS has received six scientific research permit application requests relating to Pacific salmon. The proposed research is intended to increase knowledge of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to help guide management and conservation efforts. The applications may be viewed online at: https:/ /apps.nmfs.noaa.gov/preview/previewopenforcomment.cfm.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish
Notice is hereby given that NMFS has received an application for a permit for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation and survival of a listed species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), from the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and PacifiCorp for a 10 year period. As part of this permit application, the CDFG has submitted a draft HGMP. The HGMP specifies methods for the operation of the Iron Gate hatchery coho salmon program, located along the Klamath River, within the State of California. This document serves to notify the public of the availability of the permit application and HGMP for public review and comment prior to a decision by NMFS whether to issue the permit. This notice also announces the availability for public review and comment of a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding issuance of the permit, which involves take of coho salmon listed as threatened under the ESA.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Hydrographic Surveys
NMFS' Office of Protected Resources has received a request from the NOAA Office of Coast Survey (OCS) for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to conducting hydrographic surveys, over the course of 5 years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of OCS's request under the MMPA for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. We invite information, suggestions, and comments on OCS's application and request.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Trip Limit Reduction
NMFS reduces the commercial trip limit of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Atlantic migratory group southern zone to 1,500 lb (680 kg), round weight, per day. This trip limit reduction is necessary to maximize the socioeconomic benefits of the quota.
New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council's (Council) Groundfish Oversight Committee will meet jointly with the Groundfish Advisory Panel and Recreational Advisory Panel to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Reconsideration of Allocation of Whiting
This action proposes revisions to several portions of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Trawl Rationalization Program regulations and requests comments on NMFS' preliminary conclusion that the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council's) selection of the no action alternative regarding the reconsideration of initial allocation of Pacific whiting (whiting) is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and other applicable law.. This action is necessary to comply with a court order requiring NMFS to reconsider the initial allocation of whiting to the shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery and the at-sea mothership fishery. These proposed regulatory changes would affect the transfer of quota share (QS) and individual bycatch quota (IBQ) between QS accounts in the shorebased IFQ fishery, and severability of catch history assignments in the mothership fishery, both of which would be allowed on specified dates with the exception of widow rockfish. Widow rockfish is no longer an overfished species and transfer of QS for this species will be reinstated pending reconsideration of the allocation of widow rockfish QS in a future action. The divestiture period for widow rockfish QS in the IFQ fishery is also proposed to be delayed indefinitely.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; Quota Transfer
NMFS announces that the State of North Carolina is transferring a portion of its 2012 commercial summer flounder quota to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of North Carolina is transferring a portion of its 2012 commercial summer flounder quota to the State of Connecticut, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is transferring a portion of its 2012 commercial summer flounder quota to the State of Rhode Island. NMFS is adjusting the quotas and announcing the revised commercial quota for each state involved.