International Fisheries; South Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Procedures To Request Licenses and a System To Allocate Licenses
Pursuant to its authority under the South Pacific Tuna Act of 1988 (SPTA), NMFS issues regulations to modify the procedures that U.S. purse seine vessels use to request fishing licenses to fish in areas managed under the SPTA. This rule also establishes a system for allocating licenses in the event more applications are received than there are licenses available. Such an allocation system is needed because the number of applications is approaching the number of available licenses, and may exceed that number. The license allocation system includes objective criteria to be used by NMFS in prioritizing among license applicants. The license application procedures are modified in accordance with the allocation system, and are designed to provide license holders and prospective license applicants with a clear and certain regulatory process. The regulations for vessels licensed under the SPTA are also modified to require that the vessel monitoring system units (VMS units), also known as mobile transmitting units, installed and carried on the vessels are a type that is NMFS-approved.
Schedules for Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Protected Species Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops
Free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Protected Species Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in January, February, and March of 2011. Certain fishermen and shark dealers are required to attend a workshop to meet regulatory requirements and maintain valid permits. Specifically, the Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop is mandatory for all federally permitted Atlantic shark dealers. The Protected Species 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 2011.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Emergency Rule Extension, Pollock Catch Limit Revisions
NMFS extends the pollock specifications implemented by a July 20, 2010, emergency rule, which is scheduled to expire on January 11, 2011. Specifically, this temporary rule maintains the new stock status determination criteria for pollock and associated increases in pollock catch limits under the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP), for an additional 186 days, in order to implement pollock catch limits through either the end of fishing year (FY) 2010 (i.e., through April 30, 2011) or until superseded by limits for FY 2011.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Construction of the Parsons Slough Sill Project
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 NOAA Restoration Center, Southwest Region, to take, by Level B Harassment only, small numbers of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) incidental to pile driving associated with the Parsons Slough Sill Project.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Emergency Fisheries Closure in the Gulf of Mexico Due to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 Oil Spill; Amendment 3
NMFS issues this temporary rule to revise the existing procedures for closing and reopening areas of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for the royal red component of the Gulf shrimp fishery in response to a fishery interaction of the Gulf shrimp fishery with oil or oil byproducts from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill. The revisions to the procedures for closing and reopening allow for timely adjustment to the spatial and temporal scale of closed areas to fishing for royal red shrimp in response to new information regarding a fishery interaction with the Gulf shrimp fishery with sub- surface oil and oil byproducts. To facilitate timely notice to the public of such closures, the closed portions of Federal waters will be updated on a regular basis and announced to the public via NOAA Weather Radio, Fishery Bulletin, and NOAA Web site updates, or the public may obtain the information by calling the Deepwater MC252 Oil Spill Hotline at 800-627-6622. The action being taken pursuant to this temporary rule is to prohibit royal red shrimp fishing in a specific area of the Gulf in response to a known interaction of this component of the shrimp fishery with sub-surface oil and oil byproducts. This temporary rule would remain in effect for 10 days, unless superseded by subsequent rulemaking. The intended effect of this temporary rule is to promote seafood safety and consumer confidence in seafood products.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Grouper Management Measures
NMFS issues this final rule to implement actions identified in a regulatory amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule reduces the commercial quota for red grouper and, thus, the combined commercial quota for shallow water grouper (SWG) species, and requires vessels with valid commercial Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish permits to mark their buoy gear with the official vessel number. This rule also implements minor revisions to codified text, including a revised definition of buoy gear, re-codification of the commercial and recreational quotas for greater amberjack, revision of the recreational accountability measure for greater amberjack, and removal of outdated language for the red snapper individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. The intended effect of this final rule is to help prevent overfishing of red grouper while achieving optimum yield (OY) by reducing red grouper harvest, consistent with the findings of the recent stock assessment for this species, and to implement technical corrections to the regulations.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gag Grouper Management Measures
NMFS issues this final temporary rule to implement interim measures to reduce overfishing of gag in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). This final rule reduces the commercial quota for gag and, thus, the combined commercial quota for shallow-water grouper species (SWG), prohibits recreational harvest of gag, and suspends red grouper multi- use allocation in the Gulf grouper and tilefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, as requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The intended effect of this final temporary rule is to reduce overfishing of the gag resource in the Gulf.