Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Chinook Salmon Bycatch Management in the Gulf of Alaska Pollock Fishery; Amendment 93
NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 93 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The proposed regulations would apply exclusively to the directed pollock trawl fisheries in the Central and Western Reporting Areas of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (Central and Western GOA). If approved, Amendment 93 would establish separate prohibited species catch (PSC) limits in the Central and Western GOA for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), which would cause NMFS to close the directed pollock fishery in the Central or Western regulatory areas of the Gulf of Alaska, if the applicable limit is reached. This action also would require retention of salmon by all vessels in the Central and Western GOA pollock fisheries until the catch is delivered to a processing facility where an observer is provided the opportunity to count the number of salmon and to collect scientific data or biological samples from the salmon. Amendment 93 would increase observer coverage on vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) length overall that participate in the directed pollock fishery in the Central or Western regulatory areas of the GOA by January 2013, unless the restructured North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program is in place by this time. Amendment 93 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.
Research Area Within Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary; Notice of Effective Date
NOAA published a final rule for the establishment of a research area within the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary on October 14, 2011 (76 FR 63824). Pursuant to Section 304(b) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 U.S.C. 1434(b)) the final regulations take effect after 45 days of continuous session of Congress beginning on October 14, 2011. Through this notice, NOAA is announcing the regulations became effective on December 4, 2011.
Availability of Seats for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council
The ONMS is seeking applications for the following vacant seats on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council: Native Hawaiian Representative, Ocean Related Tourism Representative, Conservation Alternate, Native Hawaiian (Elder) Alternate, and, two Native Hawaiian Alternates. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; and philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine and cultural resources. Applicants, who are chosen as members, should expect to serve 2 year terms, pursuant to the council's charter, or until a Monument Alliance is formed in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
Availability of Seats for the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
The ONMS is seeking applications for the following vacant seats on the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Community-at-Large: West Side of Tutuila, Community-at-Large: East Side of Tutuila, and Student (including youth). Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as Community-at-Large members should expect to serve 3-year terms, pursuant to the council's Charter. Applicants who are chosen as Student members should expect to serve 2- year terms, pursuant to the council's Charter.
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2012 Specifications and Management Measures and Secretarial Amendment 1
This final rule establishes the 2012 harvest specifications and management measures for certain groundfish species taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 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 (PCGFMP). This action includes regulations to implement Secretarial Amendment 1 to the PCGFMP. Secretarial Amendment 1 contains the rebuilding plans for overfished species and new reference points for assessed flatfish species.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Threatened Status for Subspecies of the Ringed Seal
We, NMFS, announce a 6-month extension of the deadline for a final determination regarding the December 10, 2010, proposed rule to list four subspecies of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida) as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We are taking this action because there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the proposed listing rule. An additional 6 months will allow us to solicit additional data, evaluate and assess special independent peer review of the aspects of the status review report over which there is substantial disagreement, and better inform our final determination on the proposed listing rule.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Threatened Status for Distinct Population Segments of the Bearded Seal
We, NMFS, announce a 6-month extension of the deadline for a final determination regarding the December 10, 2010, proposed rule to list two distinct population segments (DPS) of the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus) as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We are taking this action because there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the proposed listing rule. An additional 6 months will allow us to solicit additional data, evaluate and assess special independent peer review of those aspects of the status review report over which there is substantial disagreement, and better inform our final determination on the proposed listing rule.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Initiation of Status Review for Ribbon Seal
We, NMFS, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), announce the initiation of a status review for the ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata). We conduct status reviews to determine whether the entity should be listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this species (see below).
Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish
Notice is hereby given that NMFS has received an application for scientific research from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) in Sacramento, CA. This document serves to notify the public of the availability of the permit application for review and comment before a final approval or disapproval is made by NMFS.
New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Joint Whiting Oversight and Advisory Panel, in January, 2012, to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.
Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting
The SEDAR 28 assessments of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic stocks of Spanish mackerel and cobia will consist of a series of workshops and webinars: A Data Workshop and webinar, an Assessment Workshop and webinars, and a Review Workshop. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs
NMFS publishes individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for the IFQ cost recovery program in the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific. The fee percentage for 2011 is 1.6%. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2011 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2012.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies; Amendment 17
The New England Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 17 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan for review by the Secretary of Commerce. NMFS is requesting comments from the public on Amendment 17, which was adopted by the Council, including an Environmental Assessment prepared by NMFS, to explicitly define and facilitate the effective operation of state-operated permit banks.
Hawaii Crustacean Fisheries; 2012 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Lobster Harvest Guideline
NMFS establishes the annual harvest guideline for the commercial lobster fishery in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) for calendar year 2012 at zero lobsters.
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 2012. 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 2012.
New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scallop Oversight Committee, in January, 2012, to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.
Affirmation of Vertical Datum for Surveying and Mapping Activities for the Islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands
This Notice announces a decision by the Federal Geographic Data Committee's Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget; Circular A-16 (https:// www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a016/a016.html), to affirm the Virgin Islands Vertical Datum of 2009 (VIVD09) as the official civilian vertical datum for surveying and mapping activities for the islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas of the United States Virgin Islands, and to the extent practicable, legally allowable and feasible, require that all Federal agencies, with the exception of those with specific military related applications, using or producing vertical height information undertake an orderly transition to VIVD09.
Draft Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species” and “Threatened Species”
We, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services), announce a draft policy to provide our interpretation of the phrase ``significant portion of its range'' in the Endangered Species Act's (Act's) definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' The purpose of this notice is to provide a draft interpretation and application of ``significant portion of its range'' that reflects a permissible reading of the law and its legislative history and minimizes undesirable policy outcomes, while fulfilling the conservation purposes of the Act. We seek public comments on this draft policy. It is our intent to publish a final policy that will provide a consistent standard for interpretation of the phrase and its role in listing determinations that will be accorded deference by the federal courts.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries
NMFS has determined that the Atlantic tunas General category daily retention limit of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) should be adjusted for the January 2012 subquota period, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments. This action 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 of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) from catcher vessels using trawl gear and jig gear sectors to American Fisheries Act (AFA) trawl catcher/ processors and catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to allow the 2011 TAC of Pacific cod to be harvested.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Sculpins in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NMFS apportions amounts of the non-specified reserve to the initial total allowable catch of sculpins in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow fishing operations to continue. It is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area.
Endangered Species; File No. 16134
Notice is hereby given that Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Foundation [Responsible Party: Mark Swingle], 717 General Booth Blvd. Virginia Beach, VA 23451, has applied in due form for a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.
Marine Mammals; File No. 16473
Notice is hereby given that D. Ann Pabst, Ph.D., University of North Carolina Wilmington, has applied in due form for a permit to conduct research on marine mammals.
Notice is hereby given that NOAA's Office of Science and Technology, Silver Spring, MD, (Brandon Southall, Ph.D.Principal Investigator) has applied for an amendment to Scientific Research Permit No. 14534-01.
Marine Mammals; File No. 14241, Correction
Notice is hereby given that Dr. Peter Tyack, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA has applied for an amendment to Permit No. 14241-02 to conduct research on marine mammals. This document makes a correction to a previously published document (December 2, 2011) in which the DATES section was inadvertently omitted.
Endangered and Threatened Species; 5-Year Reviews for 4 Distinct Population Segments of Steelhead in California
We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southwest Region, announce the availability of 5-year reviews for four DPSs of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in California, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Information about the 5-year review process, including copies of the 5-year review reports, may be obtained by visiting the NMFS Southwest Regional Office Web site at https:// swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council) Highly Migratory Species Management Team (HMSMT) will a hold work session, which is open to the public.
Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; West Coast Groundfish Trawl Economic Data Collection
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.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Marine Geophysical Survey in the Central Pacific Ocean, November, 2011 Through January, 2012
In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulation, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO), a part of Columbia University, for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a marine geophysical survey in the central Pacific Ocean, November, 2011 through January, 2012.
Notice is hereby given that Dr. Peter Tyack, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA has applied for an amendment to Permit No. 14241-02 to conduct research on marine mammals.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Spiny Lobster Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Amendment 10
NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP), as prepared and submitted by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils). This rule revises the lobster species contained within the fishery management unit; establishes an annual catch limit (ACL) for Caribbean spiny lobster; revises the Federal spiny lobster tail-separation permit requirements; revises the regulations specifying the condition of spiny lobster landed during a fishing trip; modifies the undersized attractant regulations; modifies the framework procedures and the protocol for cooperative management with Florida; and authorizes the removal of derelict traps in Federal waters off Florida through Florida's trap cleanup program. Additionally, this rule revises codified text to reflect updated contact information for the state of Florida and regulatory references for the Florida Administrative Code. The intent of this final rule is to specify ACLs for spiny lobster while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the resource.
Vessel Monitoring Systems; Approved Mobile Transmitting Units and Communications Service Providers for Use in Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fisheries
This document provides notice that three mobile transmitting unit (MTU) vessel monitoring systems (VMS) that were previously approved for use in Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) fisheries are no longer approved for use. This document also provides a list and describes relevant features of the enhanced mobile transmitting unit (E-MTU) VMS and communications service providers that are currently approved by NMFS for use by vessels participating in Atlantic HMS fisheries.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Vessel Monitoring Systems
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is finalizing requirements for fishermen to replace currently required Mobile Transmitting Unit (MTU) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units with Enhanced Mobile Transmitting Unit (E-MTU) VMS in Atlantic HMS fisheries. The key difference between MTU and E-MTU VMS units is that the E-MTU VMS units are capable of two-way communication. The purpose of this final action is to facilitate enhanced communication with HMS vessels at sea, provide HMS fishery participants with an additional means of sending and receiving information at sea, ensure that HMS VMS units are consistent with the current VMS technology and type approval requirements that apply to newly installed units, and to provide NMFS enforcement with additional information describing gear onboard and target species. This rule affects all HMS pelagic longline (PLL), bottom longline (BLL), and shark gillnet fishermen who are currently required to have VMS onboard their vessels.
Notice is hereby given that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 21 South Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561 [Responsible Party: Kathryn Hattala], has been issued a permit to take shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) for purposes of scientific research.
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; 2011 Bigeye Tuna Longline Fishery Closure
NMFS withdraws the temporary rule that would have closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean as a result of the fishery reaching the 2011 catch limit. NMFS no longer expects that the fishery will reach the limit by the date specified in the temporary rule.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Amendment 11
NMFS announces approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of collection-of-information requirements in regulations implementing Amendment 11 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This final rule sets the effective date of the collection-of-information requirements.
Forum-Trends in Extreme Winds, Waves, and Extratropical Storms Along the Coasts
This notice sets forth the schedule and topics of an upcoming forum hosted by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina on January 11-13, 2012. Invited participants will discuss topics as outlined below. Members of the public are invited to attend the forum and are required to RSVP to Brooke.Stewart@noaa.gov by 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, December 28, 2011 if they wish to attend. The forum is to be held in a federal facility; building security restrictions preclude attendance by members of the public who do not RSVP by the deadline. Space is also limited and public attendees will be admitted based on the order in which RSVPs are received. Members of the public will be invited to offer their comments during a 30-minute period to be held from 9:30 to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Each individual or group making a verbal presentation will be limited to a total time of five minutes. Please indicate your intention to participate in the public comment period when submitting your RSVP. Time for public comments will be allotted based on the order in which RSVPs are received. Written comments may be submitted via email or in hardcopy and must be received by December 28, 2011. For information on how to submit written comments, please see addresses below. Special Accommodations: These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Brooke Stewart (828) 257- 3020, Brooke.Stewart@noaa.gov) by December 28, 2011.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod Allocations in the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 83
NMFS publishes regulations to implement Amendment 83 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). Amendment 83 allocates Western and Central GOA Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) limits among various gear and operational sectors. Sector allocations limit the amount of Western and Central GOA Pacific cod that each sector is authorized to harvest. This action reduces competition among sectors and supports stability in the Pacific cod fishery. This rule limits access to the Federal Pacific cod TAC fisheries prosecuted in State of Alaska waters, commonly known as the parallel fishery, adjacent to the Western and Central GOA. This action is intended to promote community participation and provide incentives for new entrants in the jig sector. It also promotes the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Fishery Management Plan, and other applicable laws.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment for the South Atlantic
NMFS proposes regulations to implement the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment (Comprehensive ACL Amendment) to the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper), the Golden Crab Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Golden Crab), the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the Atlantic States (Dolphin and Wahoo), and the Pelagic Sargassum Habitat of the South Atlantic Region (Sargassum) as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would specify annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for species in the FMPs for Snapper- Grouper, Dolphin and Wahoo, and Golden Crab. The rule would also describe the current terminology and measures in place in the Sargassum FMP that are equivalent to an ACL and AMs. For Sargassum, the rule would not specifically set an ACL because there is currently a commercial quota in place which functions as an ACL, and there are commercial closure provisions in the event the quota is met or projected to be met which functions as an AM. In addition, the rule would revise the snapper-grouper fishery management unit (FMU), including the removal of some species, designation of ecosystem component (EC) species, and the development of species groups. This rule would establish a daily vessel limit for the recreational possession of wreckfish, create a closed season for the wreckfish recreational sector, prohibit recreational bag limit sales of dolphin from for-hire vessels, and set a minimum size limit for dolphin off most of the South Atlantic states. The intent of this rule is to specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the resource.
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Program Improvement and Enhancement; Amendment 21-1
This action implements revisions to the Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program (program), a catch share program, and includes regulations that affect all commercial sectors (limited entry trawl, limited entry fixed gear, and open access) managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action includes regulatory amendments to further implement Amendments 20 and 21 to the FMP and an FMP amendment to further revise Amendment 21 (called Amendment 21-1). This action includes, but is not limited to: Revisions to the Pacific halibut trawl bycatch mortality limit; clarification that Amendment 21 supersedes limited entry/open access allocations for certain groundfish species; revisions to the observer coverage requirement while a vessel is in port and before the offload is complete; revisions to the electronic fish ticket reporting requirements; revisions to the first receiver site license requirement; further clarification on moving between limited entry and open access fisheries; a process for end-of-the-year vessel account reconciliation; and an exemption from processing at sea for qualified participants in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program.
National Marine Protected Areas Center External Review
On May 26, 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order (EO) 13158, directing federal agencies (led by NOAA and DOI) to establish a comprehensive national system of MPAs serving multiple conservation and management goals. To this end, the EO directs NOAA to establish a National Marine Protected Area Center (``MPA Center'') within NOAA (Sec. 4(e)) to carry out several provisions in cooperation with the Department of the Interior. Over the past decade, the MPA Center has conducted a variety of efforts to establish and support the growing national system through targeted science, information resources, coordination and policy development. An external review of the MPA Center is needed to maximize its effectiveness and transparency and to ensure that the MPA Center is conducting high quality work of significant value to NOAA and the nation. To this end, the MPA Center is seeking external feedback, including public comment on the program's approach to balancing competing priorities. All comments received in response to this request will be summarized and provided to an expert review panel scheduled to convene in late January, 2012.