Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). This action is necessary to fully use the 2013 total allowable catch of Pacific cod allocated to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the BSAI.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska; Amendment 95 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish
NMFS announces that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 95 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) for review by the Secretary of Commerce. If approved, Amendment 95 would modify the FMP to: establish halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits for the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) in Federal regulation; reduce the GOA halibut PSC limits for trawl and hook-and-line gear; reduce trawl halibut PSC sideboard limits for American Fisheries Act, Amendment 80, and Central GOA Rockfish Program vessels; and provide two additional management measures associated with halibut PSC accounting for Amendment 80 vessels subject to halibut PSC sideboards and for halibut PSC made by trawl vessels from May 15 through June 30, which would maintain groundfish harvest while achieving the halibut PSC limit reductions intended by this action. This action is necessary to reduce halibut bycatch in the GOA, and is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson- Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable law.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Vessel Monitoring Systems
NMFS proposes to modify the declaration requirements for vessels required to use Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units in Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fisheries. This proposed rule would require operators of vessels that have been issued HMS permits and are required to use VMS to use their VMS units to provide hourly position reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7). The proposed rule would also allow the operators of such vessels to make declarations out of the fishery when not retaining or fishing for HMS for specified periods of time encompassing two or more trips. These changes would make the current Atlantic HMS VMS requirements consistent with other VMS-monitored Atlantic fisheries and provide additional reporting flexibility for vessel operators by eliminating the requirement to hail-out two hours in advance of leaving port. Additionally, these changes will continue to provide NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) with information necessary to facilitate enforcement of HMS regulations. This rule would affect all commercial fishermen who fish for Atlantic HMS who are required to use VMS.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the North Pacific Population of the Humpback Whale and Notice of Status Review
We, NMFS, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to identify the North Pacific population of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and delist the DPS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The humpback whale was listed as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species and Conservation Act of 1969, which was later superseded by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We find that the petition viewed in the context of information readily available in our files presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are hereby initiating a status review of the North Pacific population of the humpback whale to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this population from any interested party.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 48, Framework Adjustment 50; 2013 Sector Operations Plans, Contracts, and Allocation Annual Catch Entitlements
This final rule finalizes interim measures put in place for the May 1, 2013, start of the Northeast (NE) multispecies fishing year. This action intends to do the following: Finalize interim rule measures put in place by Framework Adjustment (FW) 48, FW 50, and in the 2013 Sector Operations Plan rulemakings; respond to public comments received on the interim measures; and notify the public of changes being made to Eastern U.S./Canada Area quota monitoring and associated reporting requirements.
List of Fisheries for 2013
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2013, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The final LOF for 2013 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of serious injury and mortality of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan (TRP) requirements. The fishery classifications and list of marine mammal stocks incidentally injured or killed described in the Final LOF for 2012 remain in effect until the effective date of the Final LOF for 2013.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Amendment 14
NMFS proposes regulations to implement measures in Amendment 14 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Management Plan. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed Amendment 14 to improve catch monitoring for the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries and to address incidental catch of river herring and shad through responsible management. Amendment 14 management measures include: Revising dealer and vessel reporting requirements, and requirements for vessel monitoring systems; increasing observer coverage on midwater trawl mackerel and Tier 1, 2 and 3 small-mesh bottom trawl mackerel vessels; implementing partial industry funding for observer coverage; revising vessel requirements to improve at-sea sampling by observers; establishing slippage caps to discourage the discarding of catch prior to sampling by observers; and establishing a mortality cap for river herring and shad with amounts to be set during specifications.