Marine Mammals and Endangered Species
Notice is hereby given that permits or permit amendments have been issued to the following entities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as applicable.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Disapproval of Northeast Fishery Sector IX Operational Plan
This rule withdraws approval of the 2017 and 2018 Northeast Fishery Sector IX operations plan. The Regional Administrator determined that the sector and its participants are not complying with the requirements of the approved operations plan, and that the continuation of the operations plan will undermine achievement of conservation and management objectives of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule is intended to ensure that sector operations are consistent with approved plans for accurately monitoring and reporting sector catch to ensure that overages of a sector's allocation do not occur.
Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances Policy
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (Services when referring to both, and Service when referring to an action taken by one agency), announce the intention to review and potentially revise the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances policy under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. In a separate document published in today's Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the intention to review and potentially revise its regulations regarding Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances to make them consistent with any changes to the policy.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Casitas Pier Fender Pile Replacement
In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Venoco LLC (Venoco) to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during construction activities associated with a fender pile replacement project in Carpinteria, California.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season
This final rule establishes the 2018 opening date for all Atlantic shark fisheries, including the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This final rule also establishes the quotas for the 2018 fishing season based on over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2017 and previous fishing seasons. The large coastal shark (LCS) retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders is 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip in the Gulf of Mexico region and 25 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 after considering the specified inseason action regulatory criteria to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. These actions could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries
NMFS is transferring 25.6 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Harpoon category to the General category for the remainder of the 2017 fishing year, to account for overharvests of the September and October through November subquotas, and utilize the unused portion of the adjusted Harpoon category quota. This action results in an adjusted General category subquota of 12.7 mt for the December subquota period. It is intended to preserve the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the December General category fishery, which reopens on December 1, 2017, and is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing commercially for BFT.
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Amendment 16 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan
NMFS issues this proposed rule to implement Amendment 16 of the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The purpose of this proposed rule is to amend the CPS regulations to allow for very small amounts of directed, non-live bait fishing on CPS finfish to occur when a fishery is otherwise closed to directed fishing. Currently, when directed fishing closures are enacted, a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery has been precluded from fishing and/or harvesting even minor amounts because this activity does not fall under the existing exemptions during closures for incidental harvest or for harvesting CPS to be sold as live bait. NMFS is proposing changes to the CPS regulations to allow this sector to continue directed fishing after other directed fisheries are closed, unless otherwise specified or if an applicable annual catch limit (ACL) is anticipated to be exceeded. As a further restriction, to ensure this minor directed fishing provision is not exploited to make large aggregate harvests, minor directed fishing would not be allowed to exceed landings of 1 metric ton (mt) per day per vessel or person or one fishing trip per day by any vessel.
Vessel and Aircraft Discharges From United States Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries
With this proposed rule, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) considers allowing the United States Coast Guard (USCG or Coast Guard) to carry out certain otherwise prohibited activities within waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) approximately 3 nautical miles (nm) from the shore, in the areas of the sanctuaries that were expanded in 2015. The discharges under consideration are: Untreated vessel sewage, vessel graywater as defined by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (FWPCA), that does not meet the definition of ``clean'' as defined by the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations, and ammunition and pyrotechnic (warning projectile, flare, smoke float and marine marker) materials used in USCG training exercises for use of force (live fire or gunnery) and training exercises for search and rescue (SAR) of vessels or persons in distress. No change is proposed to the regulatory prohibitions or exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion boundaries of the two sanctuaries. A draft environmental assessment (DEA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has been prepared for this proposed action. NOAA is soliciting public comment on the proposed rule and DEA.
Delay of Discharge Requirements for U.S. Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expanded the boundaries of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (now renamed Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary or GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) to an area north and west of their previous boundaries with a final rule published on March 12, 2015. The final rule entered into effect on June 9, 2015. At that time, NOAA postponed, with regard to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) activities, the effectiveness of the discharge requirements for six months in the regulations for both sanctuaries in the newly added areas. Since then, NOAA published four documents to extend the postponement of the discharge requirements to provide adequate time for completion of an environmental assessment, and subsequent rulemaking regarding USCG activities, as appropriate. The current extension would end on December 9, 2017. This document, published concurrently with a proposed rule to address discharges by the USCG and an environmental assessment, will extend the postponement of the discharge requirements for USCG activities in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS for one year beyond the end of the current extension to provide adequate time for completion, if appropriate, of a final environmental assessment and final rule. This extension will end on December 9, 2018, or 30 days after publication of a final rule, whichever comes first.