Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish; Amendment 20
NMFS approves and implements through regulations measures included in Amendment 20 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, as adopted by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This action is necessary to prevent the reactivation of latent effort in the longfin squid fishery, preserve economic opportunities for more recently active participants in the longfin squid fishery, avoid overharvest during Trimester II (May- August) of the longfin squid fishery, and reduce potential negative impacts on inshore spawning longfin squid aggregations and squid egg masses. This action is intended to promote the sustainable utilization and conservation of the squid and butterfish resources, while promoting the sustained participation of fishing communities and minimizing adverse economic impacts on such communities.
Evaluation of State Coastal Management Programs
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office for Coastal Management will hold a public meeting to solicit comments on the performance evaluation of the Rhode Island Coastal Management Program.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans
We, NMFS, announce that the Proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) Recovery Plan for Puget Sound Steelhead (Proposed Plan) is available for public review and comment. The Proposed Plan addresses the Puget Sound Steelhead (Onchorhynchus mykiss) Distinct Population Segment (DPS), which was listed as threatened under the ESA on May 11, 2007. As required under the ESA, the Proposed Plan contains objective, measurable delisting criteria, site-specific management actions necessary to achieve the Proposed Plan's goals, and estimates of the time and cost required to implement recovery actions. We are soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Proposed Plan.
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.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Permit Renewal Applications
NMFS issues this final rule to implement administrative revisions to the renewal process for Federal vessel permits, licenses, and endorsements, and dealer permits in the NMFS Southeast Region. This final rule removes the regulatory requirement that NMFS must mail a renewal application to a permit holder whose Federal vessel, license, or endorsement, or dealer permit is expiring. NMFS will continue to provide notice of the upcoming expiration date to the permit holder. This final rule also removes the regulatory requirement that NMFS must notify an applicant of any deficiency in a renewal application only through sending a letter via traditional mail, such as through the U.S. Postal Service, which allows NMFS expanded options for notifying permit holders. The purpose of this final rule is to reduce the administrative costs and burden to NMFS of renewing Federal permits, while still maintaining the renewal notice, information, and services to the public.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council) Groundfish Management Team (GMT) will hold a week-long work session that is open to the public.
Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting
The SEDAR 64 assessment process of Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic yellowtail snapper will consist of a Data Workshop, and a series of assessment webinars, and a Review Workshop. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting
The SEDAR 61 stock assessment process for Gulf of Mexico red grouper will consist of an In-person Workshop, and a series of data and assessment webinars. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
Fisheries of the South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting
The SEDAR 60 assessment of the South Atlantic stock of Red Porgy will consist of a series of webinars and an in-person workshop. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will host a webinar meeting of the Area 2A Pacific halibut governmental management entities. This meeting is open to the public.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessels Operating as Catcher Vessels Using Pot Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by non- American Fisheries Act (AFA) crab vessels that are subject to sideboard limits, and operating as catcher vessels (CVs) using pot gear, in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2018 Pacific cod sideboard limit established for non-AFA crab vessels that are operating as CVs using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to National Park Service's Research and Monitoring Activities in Southern Alaska National Parks
NMFS has received a request from the National Park Service (NPS) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to research and monitoring activities in southern Alaska over the course of five years (2019-2024). These activities include glaucous-winged gull and climate monitoring activities in Glacier Bay National Park (GLBA NP), Alaska and marine bird and mammal survey activities conducted by the Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network (SWAN) in national parks and adjacent lands. As required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is proposing regulations to govern that take and requests comments on the proposed regulations.
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic; 2018 Recreational Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Red Grouper
NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for the red grouper recreational sector in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic for the 2018 fishing year through this temporary rule. NMFS estimates recreational landings of red grouper in 2018 have exceeded the recreational annual catch limit (ACL). Therefore, NMFS closes the red grouper recreational sector in the South Atlantic EEZ at 12:01 a.m., local time, on December 12, 2018 for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year. This closure is necessary to protect the red grouper resource.
Schedules for Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops
Free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in January, February, and March of 2019. Certain fishermen and shark dealers are required to attend a workshop to meet regulatory requirements and to maintain valid permits. Specifically, the Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop is mandatory for all federally permitted Atlantic shark dealers. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshop is mandatory for vessel owners and operators who use bottom longline, pelagic longline, or gillnet gear, and who have also been issued shark or swordfish limited access permits. Additional free workshops will be conducted during 2019 and will be announced in a future notice.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS); Atlantic HMS Tournament Registration and Reporting; Selection of All Atlantic HMS Tournaments for Reporting
NMFS announces that all Atlantic HMS tournaments will be selected for reporting beginning on January 1, 2019. Previously, only a portion of Atlantic HMS tournaments were selected for reporting. An Atlantic HMS tournament is a tournament that awards points or prizes for catching Atlantic HMS (i.e., swordfish, billfish, sharks and/or tunas). When selected for reporting, Atlantic HMS tournament operators are required to submit an HMS tournament catch summary report within seven days after tournament fishing has ended. NMFS uses the data to estimate the total annual catch of HMS and the impact of tournament operations in relation to other types of fishing activities.
Fishing Capacity Reduction Program for the Longline Catcher Processor Subsector of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Non Pollock Groundfish Fishery
NMFS issues this notice to inform the public that there will be an increase of the fee rate required to repay the $35,000,000 reduction loan financing the non-pollock groundfish fishing capacity reduction program. Effective January 1, 2019, NMFS is increasing the Loan A fee rate to $0.017 per pound to ensure timely loan repayment. The fee rate for Loan B will remain unchanged at $0.001 per pound.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs
NMFS publishes the individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for cost recovery for the IFQ Program for the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific (IFQ Program). The fee percentage for 2018 is 2.8 percent. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2018 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2019.
Endangered Species; File Nos. 21857, 22078, and 22324
Notice is hereby given that three applicants have applied in due form for permits to take smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) for purposes of scientific research, with one also requesting to receive, import, and export parts of five foreign species of sawfish, including dwarf (P. clavata), narrow (Anoxypristis cuspidata), green (P. zijsron), largetooth (P. Pristis), and non-U.S. DPS smalltooth sawfish for scientific research.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2019-2020 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures
This final rule establishes the 2019-2020 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. This final rule revises the management measures that are intended to keep the total catch of each groundfish stock or stock complex within the harvest specifications. These measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management measures are based on the best scientific information available.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is announcing the re-opening of a public comment period regarding recreational fisheries in the State of Idaho. The FMEP, provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), specifies the implementation of fisheries targeting adipose-fin-clipped, hatchery-origin Snake River steelhead within the State of Idaho and in boundary waters with Oregon and Washington. On November 6, 2018, NMFS opened a 30-day public comment period on a Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan (FMEP) pursuant to the protective regulations promulgated for Pacific salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). That comment period ended on December 6, 2018. In response to a request received from the public, NMFS intends to obtain additional information.
Science Advisory Board
This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of a meeting of the NOAA Science Advisory Board (SAB). The members will discuss issues outlined in the section on Matters to be considered.
Marine Mammals; File No. 20532
Notice is hereby given that Stephen John Trumble, Ph.D., Baylor University, 101 Bagby Ave, Waco, TX 76706, has applied in due form for an amendment to Scientific Research Permit No. 20532 for the import, export, and receipt of marine mammal parts for scientific research.
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Modifications of the West Coast Recreational and Commercial Salmon Fisheries; Inseason Actions #12 through #37
NMFS announces 26 inseason actions in the ocean salmon fisheries. These inseason actions modified the commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the area from the U.S./Canada border to the U.S./Mexico border.
Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Limits of Application of the Take Prohibitions
The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
Marine Mammals; File No. 22294
Notice is hereby given that Plimsoll Productions, Whiteladies House, 51-55 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2LY, United Kingdom (Responsible Party: Bill Markham) has withdrawn their application for a permit to conduct commercial or educational photography on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
2019 Annual Determination To Implement the Sea Turtle Observer Requirement
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is providing notification that the agency will not identify additional fisheries to observe on the 2019 Annual Determination (AD), pursuant to its authority under the Endangered Species Act (ESA or Act). Through the AD, NMFS identifies U.S. fisheries operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean that will be required to take observers upon NMFS' request. The purpose of observing identified fisheries is to learn more about sea turtle interactions in a given fishery, evaluate measures to prevent or reduce sea turtle takes, and implement the prohibition against sea turtle takes. Fisheries identified on the 2015 and 2018 ADs (see Table 1) remain on the AD for a 5-year period and are required to carry observers upon NMFS' request until December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2022, respectively.
Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2018 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits for American Samoa
NMFS announces a valid specified fishing agreement that allocates up to 1,000 metric tons (t) of the 2018 bigeye tuna limit for the Territory of American Samoa to identified U.S. longline fishing vessels. The agreement supports the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands, and fisheries development in American Samoa.
Public Comment for the NOAA Research and Development Plan
This notice sets forth a public comment for NOAA's Research and Development (R&D) Plan set for release in 2019. NOAA R&D is an investment in the scientific knowledge and technology that will allow the United States to protect lives and property, adapt to challenges, sustain a strong economy, and manage natural resources. The R&D strategic plan will provide a common understanding among NOAA's leadership, workforce, partners, and constituents on the value and direction of NOAA R&D activities.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys in the Atlantic Ocean
In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued incidental harassment authorizations (IHA) to five separate applicants to incidentally harass marine mammals during geophysical survey activities in the Atlantic Ocean.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Re-Opening of Commercial Harvest for South Atlantic Red Snapper
NMFS announces the re-opening of the commercial sector for red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic through this temporary rule. The most recent commercial landings of red snapper indicate that the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for the 2018 fishing year has not yet been reached. Therefore, NMFS re-opens the commercial sector for red snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ for 10 calendar days to allow the commercial ACL to be reached, while minimizing the risk of the commercial ACL being exceeded.
Implementation of Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act-Notification of Comparability Findings
Under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (Assistant Administrator) has issued comparability findings for the Government of Mexico's following fisheries: Upper Gulf of California shrimp trawl fishery for both small and large vessels; Upper Gulf of California shrimp suripera fishery; Upper Gulf of California sierra purse seine fishery; Upper Gulf of California sierra hook and line fishery; Upper Gulf of California chano trawl fishery, for small vessels; Upper Gulf of California curvina purse seine fishery; and Upper Gulf of California sardine/curvina purse seine fishery for both small and large vessels. The Assistant Administrator is denying a comparability finding for the El Golfo de Santa Clara curvina rodeo-style gillnet fishery. NMFS bases the comparability findings on documentary evidence submitted by the Government of Mexico and other relevant, readily-available information including scientific literature and the reports of the ``Comit[eacute] Internacional para la Recuperaci[oacute]n de la Vaquita'' (CIRVA) (the international recovery team for vaquita).
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish
NMFS proposes 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish
NMFS proposes 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2019 and 2020 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Fishing Restrictions for Fish Aggregating Devices in the Eastern Pacific Ocean
NMFS is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C-18-05 (Amendment of Resolution C-16-01 on the Collection and Analysis of Data on Fish-Aggregating Devices), which was adopted at the 93rd Meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in August 2018. The Resolution includes construction standards for fish aggregating devices (FADs) intended to reduce entanglements of marine life when fishing for tropical tuna (i.e., bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)) in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). This final rule will revise the existing regulations for consistency with the new Resolution. In addition, this rule revises the definition of ``Active FAD'' and regulations related to activating FADs at sea that were codified in the April 2018 rule. This final rule is necessary for the conservation of living marine resources in the EPO and for the United States to satisfy its obligations as a member of the IATTC.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries
NMFS is transferring 129.2 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the General category, and 9.9 mt from the Harpoon category to the General category for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year, to account for accrued overharvests of previous time period subquotas. This action is intended to provide opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the December General category fishery, which is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2018, and is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action would affect Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic Region; Regulatory Amendment 28
NMFS issues regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 28 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP) (Regulatory Amendment 28), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule revises the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic. The purpose of this final rule is to end overfishing of golden tilefish while minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse socio-economic effects and achieve optimum yield (OY) on a continuing basis.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Less Than 50 Feet Length Overall Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels less than 50 feet length overall (LOA) using hook-and- line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to catcher vessels less than 50 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Revisions to Red Snapper and Hogfish Management Measures
NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in two framework actions to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The framework actions are titled ``Modify the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for the Gulf Red Snapper and Hogfish Stocks'' (ACL Framework Action) and ``Modify the Red Snapper Recreational Annual Catch Targets (ACT)'' (ACT Framework Action). This proposed rule would modify Gulf red snapper commercial and recreational ACLs (quotas) and ACTs, as well as the Gulf hogfish (West Florida stock) stock ACL, as a result of recent stock assessments for each species. Additionally, this proposed rule would reduce the Federal charter vessel/headboat (for-hire) component's red snapper ACT buffer to a level that would allow a greater harvest in 2019 while continuing to constrain landings to the component and total recreational ACLs. The purposes of this proposed rule are to respond to updated stock assessment information, maximize socio-economic opportunities for red snapper in the Federal for-hire component, and to continue to achieve optimum yield (OY) for each stock.
Fishing Capacity Reduction Program for the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery
NMFS issues this notice to decrease the fee rate to 4.0 percent for the Pacific Coast Groundfish fee-share fishery to repay the $28,428,719 groundfish sub-loan of the $35,662,471 reduction loan that financed the Pacific Coast Groundfish fishing capacity reduction program. NMFS annually recalculates the fee rate that will be reasonably necessary to ensure reduction loan repayment within the specified 30-year term. NMFS has determined that the current fee rate of 4.5 percent for the groundfish fishery is projected to collect more than the annual amortization amount needed for 2019.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Groundfish Bottom Trawl and Midwater Trawl Gear in the Trawl Rationalization Program
This rule revises Federal regulations that currently restrict the use and configuration of bottom and midwater trawl gear for vessels fishing under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery's Trawl Rationalization Program. The revisions implemented through this rule were developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to address restrictions that are no longer necessary because of changes to the fishery including implementation of the Trawl Rationalization Program in 2011 and improved status of a number of overfished rockfish stocks. This action will likely increase flexibility in how vessels can use and configure gear to increase access to target stocks and efficiency of fishing practices, while still limiting the catch of target and non- target discards to meet the conservation objectives of the Trawl Rationalization Program.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council) Ad Hoc Ecosystem Workgroup (EWG) will hold a webinar, which is open to the public.
Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings
The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its 175th Council meeting by teleconference and webinar to take actions on fishery management issues in the Western Pacific Region. The Council will also hold a meeting of the Protected Species Advisory Committee (PSAC) by teleconference and webinar.
Fishing Capacity Reduction Program for the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Salmon Fishery
NMFS issues this notice to inform persons of their eligibility to vote and the voting period for the proposed second fishing capacity reduction program loan in the Southeast Alaska Purse Seine Salmon Fishery. This notice informs the public of the permanent permit holders eligible to vote in the referendum. The referendum, if approved, will result in a loan of $10.1 million and permanently retire an additional 36 permits from the fishery.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to Atlantic Herring Specifications and Sub-Annual Catch Limits for 2019
This action proposes an in-season adjustment to the Atlantic herring specifications and sub-annual catch limits for 2019. These adjustments are necessary to reduce 2018 herring catch limits that would otherwise remain in effect for 2019. This action is intended to prevent overfishing of the herring resource while minimizing negative social and economic impacts of reduced catch limits.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Georges Bank Cod Trip Limit Adjustment for the Common Pool Fishery
This action adjusts the possession and trip limits of Georges Bank cod for Northeast multispecies common pool vessels for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year, in order to ensure that the common pool fishery is able to harvest, but not exceed, its annual quota for the stock. These changes are intended to provide the common pool fishery with additional fishing opportunities.