Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendment to the Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plan of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 4 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (Coral FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 4 to the Coral FMP proposes to modify management of seagrasses in the U.S. Caribbean exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The intent of Amendment 4 to the Coral FMP is to address the future management of seagrasses in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Monkfish Fishery; Emergency Action
NMFS proposes to implement a temporary emergency action that would suspend existing monkfish possession limits for vessels issued both a Federal limited access Northeast multispecies permit and a limited access monkfish Category C or D permit that are fishing under a Northeast multispecies day-at-sea in the monkfish Northern Fishery Management Area for 180 days beginning on May 1, 2013. This action is necessary to help mitigate expected adverse economic and social harm resulting from substantial reductions to the 2013 annual catch limits for several groundfish stocks managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The intended effect of this action is to provide additional fishing opportunities to vessels affected by reductions to groundfish catch limits, without resulting in overfishing monkfish within the Northern Fishery Management Area.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings and Hearings
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) has announced its annual preseason management process for the 2013 ocean salmon fisheries. This notice informs the public of opportunities to provide comments on the 2013 ocean salmon management measures which will publish as a final rule and be effective May 1, 2013.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Groundfish Retention Standard
NMFS publishes a regulatory amendment to modify the groundfish retention standard (GRS) program in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). This final rule removes certain regulatory requirements that mandate minimum levels of groundfish retention by the owners and operators of trawl catcher/processor (C/P) vessels not listed in the American Fisheries Act (AFA), commonly referred to as either non-AFA trawl C/Ps or Amendment 80 vessels, and Amendment 80 cooperatives participating in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. The GRS program was implemented to increase the retention and utilization of groundfish; however, NMFS has discovered that the regulatory methodology used to calculate compliance with the GRS requires individual Amendment 80 vessels and Amendment 80 cooperatives to retain groundfish at rates well above the minimum retention rates recommended by the Council or implemented by NMFS. As a result, the GRS imposes significantly higher than predicted compliance costs on vessel owners and operators due to the increased level of retention needed to meet the minimum retention rates. Additionally, NMFS discovered that enforcement of the GRS has proven far more complex, challenging, and potentially costly than anticipated by NMFS. This action is necessary to relieve Amendment 80 vessels and Amendment 80 cooperatives from undue compliance costs stemming from the minimum retention rates while continuing to promote the GRS program goals of increased groundfish retention and utilization. This action maintains current monitoring requirements for the Amendment 80 fleet and establishes a new requirement for Amendment 80 cooperatives to annually report groundfish retention performance as part of the report submitted to NMFS. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the fishery management plan, and other applicable law.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to 2013 Annual Catch Limits
This action reduces the Atlantic herring 2013 sub-annual catch limits in herring management area 1A to account for catch overages in 2011, and to prevent overfishing.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seismic Survey in Cook Inlet, AK
In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to the Apache Alaska Corporation (Apache) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a proposed 3D seismic survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska, between March 2013 and March 2014.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; North and South Atlantic 2013 Commercial Swordfish Quotas
This proposed rule would adjust the 2013 fishing season quotas for North and South Atlantic swordfish based upon 2012 commercial quota underharvests and international quota transfers consistent with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Recommendations 11-02 and 12-01. This proposed rule could affect commercial and recreational fishing for swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. This action implements ICCAT recommendations, consistent with the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and furthers domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Rule To List 66 Reef-Building Coral Species; Proposed Reclassification of Elkhorn Acropora palmata and Staghorn Acropora cervicornis Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); Extension of Public Comment Period and Notice of Public Hearing
NMFS hereby extends the comment period on the proposed listing determinations of 66 reef-building coral species and the proposed reclassifications of elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals under the ESA until April 6, 2013, and announces a public hearing to be held in Silver Spring, MD, on March 12, 2013.