Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Retention Standard
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 79 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). If approved, Amendment 79 would add a management objective to the goals and objectives section of the FMP that would improve the retention of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish species where practicable through the establishment of a minimum Groundfish Retention Standard (GRS). This action is intended to promote the management objectives of the Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IRIU) program, the FMP, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). This action is necessary to reduce discards and improve utilization in BSAI groundfish fisheries.
New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council's (Council) Herring Oversight Committee along with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will meet to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; Framework Adjustment 17
NMFS proposes regulations to implement Framework 17 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (Framework 17) developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council). Framework 17 would require that vessels issued a general category scallop permit and that intend to land over 40 lb (18.14 kg) of shucked, or 5 bu (176.2 L) of in-shell scallops, install and operate vessel monitoring systems (VMS). Framework 17 would also allow general category scallop vessels with VMS units to turn off (power-down) the VMS units after they have offloaded scallops and while they are tied to a fixed dock or mooring. Finally, Framework 17 proposes to revise the broken trip adjustment provision for limited access scallop vessels fishing in the Sea Scallop Area Access Program. The intent of this action is to provide more complete monitoring of the general category scallop fleet, to reduce VMS operating costs, and to eliminate a provision that may have a negative influence on vessel operator decisions at sea.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Recovery Plans for Listed Marine Mammals
NMFS announces the availability of the final revision of the recovery plan for the western North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, as required by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA).
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Snapper Rebuilding Plan
NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 22 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Amendment 22) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule provides the regulatory authority to implement a mandatory observer program for selected commercial and for-hire (charter vessel/headboat) vessels in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. In addition, consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Amendment 22 establishes a stock rebuilding plan, biological reference points, and stock status determination criteria for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. The intended effect of this final rule is to contribute to ending overfishing and rebuilding the red snapper resource. Finally, NMFS informs the public of the approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule and publishes the OMB control numbers for those collections.
Evaluation of State Coastal Management Programs and National Estuarine Research Reserves
The NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) announces a revised time and location for a public meeting previously included in an announcement of intent to evaluate the performance of the Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program. Notice was previously given in the Federal Register on March 9, 2005, of the date of the site visit for the evaluation of the Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program and the date, local time, and location of the public meeting. Notice is hereby given of the revised local time and revised location of the public meeting during the site visit. The Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program evaluation site visit will be held June 20-24, 2005. One public meeting will be held during the week. The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 22, 2005, at 6 p.m. at the Puerto Rico Environmental Agencies Building, Road 8838, Km 6.3, Sector El Cinco, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
Announcement of Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve Revised Management Plan Including a Boundary Expansion
Notice is hereby given that the Estuarine Reserves Division, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce has approved the revised management plan, which includes an expansion of the boundary of the reserve, for the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Delaware Reserve was designated in 1993, pursuant to Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1461. The reserve has been operating under a management plan approved in 1993. Pursuant to 15 CFR 921.33(c), a state must revise their management plan every five years. The submission of this plan fulfills this requirement and sets a course for successful implementation of the goals and objectives of the reserve. The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is administered in partnership with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The reserve consists of two component sites that are located thirty miles apart. These components include both brackish and freshwater estuaries and represent the diverse estuarine ecosystems found throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The Upper Blackbird Creek site in New Castle County is a low salinity brackish or freshwater system that is located in a rural area. The Lower St. Jones River site in Kent County is located just south of the state capital and represents a more saline estuary that has experienced greater impacts from the surrounding development. These diverse settings provide an ideal opportunity to study anthropogenic impacts to natural estuarine and coastal systems and to convey information about the importance of estuarine habitats and functions to the citizens of Delaware. The mission of the reserve is to preserve and manage the natural resources within the two reserve components for research, to provide education and outreach programs that promote better understanding of Delaware's estuarine and coastal areas, and to promote informed coastal decisionmaking. Goals and objectives to advance this mission are identified within the management plan for administration; facilities and construction; public access; education, interpretation and outreach; environmental research and monitoring; and stewardship. Administrative goals for the Delaware Reserve include increasing volunteer activities; coordinating with partners to promote science based management; and ensuring that education, research, monitoring, and land management efforts are supported with staff, facilities and operational necessities. Facilities that were constructed over the past three years at the St. Jones component site will be maintained for reserve and for community and partner use. Education, interpretation and outreach efforts will focus on enhancing public understanding of the function of estuaries and promoting the wise use of estuarine resources to encourage an environmental ethic. Programs for the public, for students, teachers, and coastal decisionmakers will be offered and exhibits at the visitor center will be maintained and updated as needed. The reserve education program will continue to improve the use of Web based tools and public events to promote increased estuarine awareness among target audiences and the general public. The Delaware reserve's research and monitoring program will focus on anthropogenic impacts that contribute to habitat degradation or loss. The reserve research and monitoring goals are to identify the various types, quality, and quantity of habitats available in the estuary to facilitate proper management and protection; and to identify, monitor, and limit the anthropogenic impacts to the estuarine system. Specifically, the reserve will develop an on site library of reference materials and data; collect baseline data and build a database for use in long term studies; promote the use of the reserve within the research community in the study of anthropogenic changes; disseminate important research and monitoring results about Delaware estuaries to key decisionmakers and the scientific community; and increase monitoring. Habitat protection and restoration efforts over the next five years will address controlling invasive species, developing best management practices for agricultural lands surrounding the reserve, monitoring land use decisions within the reserve watershed, and developing conservation plans for all reserve owned property. One hundred and forty seven privately held acres adjacent to the Upper Blackbird Creek component were acquired by the reserve in 2004. Obtaining land adjacent to the Blackbird Creek will ensure that researchers have adequate access to the natural resources of the reserve and will add woodland, marsh and open field upland habitats to this component site. The management plan incorporates the land into the reserve boundary and outlines a plan to phase in public access, education programming, and restoration activities on the new property.
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; NOAA Ocean Exploration Advisory Working Group
The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere has requested the NOAA Science Advisory Board to provide it with timely and expert advice and oversight of the Ocean Exploration Program. The SAB is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and is the only Federal Advisory Committee with the responsibility to advise the Under Secretary on long- and short-range strategies for research, education, and application of science to resource management and environmental assessment and prediction. The SAB is forming an external panel to provide general priorities for ocean exploration, including geographic areas of interest as well as subject matter topics; advice concerning emerging ocean exploration-relevant technologies; and to conduct periodic reviews of the program for the purpose of assessing program accomplishments and providing guidance and perspective for the program's future. Nominations to the panel are being solicited. The intent is to select from the nominees; however, the SAB retains the prerogative to name people to the working group that were not nominated if it deems it is necessary to achieve the desired balance. Once selected, the SAB will post the review panel members' names at http://www.sab.noaa.gov.