Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; Amendment 99
NMFS issues a proposed rule that would implement Amendment 99 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP). If approved, Amendment 99 would enable the holders of license limitation program (LLP) licenses authorizing a designated vessel to catch and process Pacific cod in the BSAI hook-and-line fisheries to use newly built or existing vessels that are not eligible under current vessel length and capacity restrictions. This action is necessary to promote safety-at-sea by encouraging the replacement of older vessels with newer and more efficient vessels that are able to meet modern vessel safety standards. This action is intended to facilitate the increased retention and utilization of groundfish by allowing sector participants to use larger vessels with increased processing and hold capabilities. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the BSAI FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson- Stevens Act), and other applicable laws.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Monkfish Fishery; Emergency Action Extension
Pursuant to its emergency authority, NMFS extends and revises an emergency action that temporarily suspended and modified monkfish landing limits for vessels issued a Federal limited access monkfish Category C or D fishing under a Northeast multispecies day-at-sea, or both a Northeast multispecies and monkfish day-at-sea, in the monkfish Northern Fishery Management Area. This action is necessary to help mitigate expected adverse economic and social harm resulting from substantial reductions to the 2013 annual catch limits for several stocks managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The intent is to provide additional fishing opportunities for vessels affected by recent reductions to Northeast multispecies annual catch limits, without resulting in overfishing monkfish within the Northern or Southern Fishery Management Areas.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Revisions to Headboat Reporting Requirements for Species Managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
NMFS proposes regulations to implement management measures described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plans for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council); and Coastal Migratory Pelagic (CMP) Resources of the Gulf and South Atlantic Region, as prepared by the Gulf Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council) (Headboat Reporting Framework). If implemented, this rule would modify the recordkeeping and reporting requirements for headboat owners and operators who fish for species managed by the Gulf Council through the previously mentioned FMPs. These revisions would require fishing records to be submitted electronically (via computer or internet) on a weekly basis or at intervals shorter than a week if notified by the NMFS' Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) Science and Research Director (SRD), and would prohibit headboats from continuing to fish if they are delinquent in submitting reports. The purpose of this rule is to obtain timelier fishing information from headboats to better monitor recreational annual catch limits (ACLs), improve stock assessments, and improve compliance with reporting in Gulf fisheries.
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a meeting of the Socioeconomic Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).
Notice of Change to the Nation's Tidal Datums With the Adoption of a Modified Procedure for Computation of Tidal Datums in Area of Anomalous Sea-Level Change
NOAA has typically updated tidal datum elevations for the nation to new National Tidal Datum Epoch (NTDE) time periods every 20- 25 years. Updates are necessary due to long-term sea level change. In 1998, NOS recognized the need for a modified procedure for determination of tidal datums for regions with anomalously high rates of relative sea level change. This modified procedure is necessary at selected stations to ensure that the tidal datums accurately represent the existing stand of sea level. The procedure is limited only to those stations in areas with high rates of vertical land motion that have documented anomalous relative sea level trends exceeding 9.0 millimeters per year. Sea level analyses in these anomalous regions are conducted approximately every 5 years to determine if the mean sea level difference exceeds the established threshold tolerances in order to qualify for a special update. Anomalous relative sea level trends are seen along the western Gulf Coast, southeast Alaska, and southern Cook Inlet, AK. For example, the magnitude of the sea level trends in these areas is +9.24 millimeters per year in Grand Isle, LA; -12.92 millimeters per year in Juneau, AK; and -9.45 millimeters per year in Seldovia, AK. This procedure is necessary to provide the most accurate information available for applications that are essential to supporting Federal, State and private sector coastal zone activities, including hydrographic surveys and coastal mapping, navigational safety, wetland restoration, marine boundary determinations, coastal engineering, storm warnings and hazard mitigation, emergency management, and hydrodynamic modeling. While maintaining the 19 year NTDE computational period for tidal mean range and diurnal range, a shorter more recent 5 year computational period is used to compute the mean tide level datums to better reflect the current elevation of mean sea level relative to the land. Consequently, tidal datums at stations exhibiting anomalous trends are computed from mean sea level, diurnal tide level and mean tide level values for the most recent 5 year time period, and tidal ranges (GT and MN) based on the most recent full 19 year NTDE at stations. The average absolute difference between 19 year NTDE time periods across the nation of 0.03 meters (0.10 foot) is generally used as the threshold difference to warrant consideration of a 19 year NTDE update, and a 20-25 year review cycle has been adequate to capture the changes of 0.03-0.04 meters for most locations. To meet this target at locations with anomalous rates of sea level change, tidal datum elevation updates must occur more frequently. In general, the vertical changes in datum elevations which result from these more frequent special tidal datum updates every 5 years are kept as close to the 0.03 meters (0.10 foot) to 0.05 meter target as possible. In comparison to the overall accuracy of hydrographic- cartographic processes and scale and resolution and accuracy of soundings on the NOAA nautical charts, these elevations changes will not necessitate a correction or update to the charts every time a datum update is issued. However, in regions that have experienced rapid land movement, the changes to actual soundings and shoreline depiction may need to be updated on the next regularly scheduled chart edition. Although depictions of the datum changes will not be evident on the largest scale NOAA nautical charts, the datum changes will be noticeable when establishing or re-occupying tide stations using accepted surveying techniques and updating elevations on tidal bench marks provided by NOAA. Appropriate outreach will be conducted per office guidelines prior to performing each update.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 in the Gulf of Alaska
NMFS is opening directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the 2013 total allowable catch of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List 23 Species of Corals as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act
We (NMFS) announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list 23 species of corals as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted for 3 species: Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana. Therefore, we will conduct status reviews of the three species to determine if the petitioned actions are warranted. To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to these petitioned species from any interested party. We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted for 20 species: Acropora roseni, Acropora suharsonoi, Alveopora excelsa, Alveopora minuta, Ctenella chagius, Hydnophora bonsai, Isopora togianensis, Lithophyllon ranjithi, Lobophyllia serratus, Millepora boschmai, Millepora striata, Montipora setosa, Parasimplastrea sheppardi, Pectinia maxima, Pocillopora fungiformis, Porites desilveri, Porites eridani, Porites ornata, Rhizopsammia wellingtoni, and Stylophora madagascarensis.