Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2016 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season
This final rule establishes an opening date of January 1, 2016, for all Atlantic shark fisheries, including the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. This final rule also establishes the quotas for the 2016 fishing season based on over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2015 and previous fishing seasons. The large coastal shark (LCS) retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders will start at 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip in the Gulf of Mexico region and at 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip in the Atlantic region. These retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders may decrease or increase during the year to provide, to the extent practicable, fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. NMFS anticipates that the retention limit in the Atlantic region will likely increase to the default limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip around July 15, 2016, subject to NMFS' evaluation of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria. These actions could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.