Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the NMFS Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers (NWFSC and SWFSC, respectively) will hold a public workshop to review and critique its groundfish stock assessment process in 2015. The Groundfish Stock Assessment Process Review Workshop is open to the public.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic Shark Management Measures
This final rule implements Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 9) to bring smoothhound sharks under Federal management and establishes an effective date for previously-adopted shark management measures finalized in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP (Amendment 3) and the 2011 Final Rule to Modify the Retention of Incidentally-Caught Highly Migratory Species in Atlantic Trawl Fisheries (August 10, 2011) (2011 HMS Trawl Rule). Specifically, this final rule establishes Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regional smoothhound shark annual commercial quotas based on recent stock assessments; implements the shark gillnet requirements of the 2012 Shark and Smoothhound Biological Opinion (BiOp); and modifies current regulations related to the use of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) by Atlantic shark fishermen using gillnet gear. The term ``smoothhound sharks'' collectively refers to smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis), Florida smoothhound (M. norrisi), Gulf smoothhound (M. sinusmexicanus), small eye smoothhound (M. higmani), and any other Mustelus spp. that might be found in U.S. waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, collectively. This rule also implements the smooth dogfish specific provisions in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (SCA). The SCA requires that all sharks landed from Federal waters in the United States be landed with their fins naturally attached to the carcass, but includes a limited exception for smooth dogfish. For the Federal Atlantic shark fisheries, current HMS regulations require federally-permitted shark fishermen to land all sharks with fins naturally attached to the carcass. The SCA's fins-attached requirement is being addressed nationwide through a separate ongoing rulemaking. This final rule only addresses the provision contained in the SCA that allows at-sea fin removal of Atlantic smooth dogfish. Additionally, NMFS will hold an operator-assisted, public conference call and webinar on December 15, 2015, to discuss the methodology used to calculate the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark quotas (see ADDRESSES).
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area
Upon application from the U.S. Navy (Navy), we (the National Marine Fisheries Service) are issuing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Study Area from November 2015 through November 2020. These regulations allow us to issue Letters of Authorization (LOAs) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the Navy's specified activities and timeframes, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take. These regulations also allow us to authorize modifications to watchstander requirements for observed behavior of marine mammals during Major Training Events (MTEs) in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT), Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT), Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT), and Gulf of Alaska Training (GOA) study areas. Modifications to the Navy watchstander requirements include a revision to regulatory text in current regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals during training and/or testing activities in these study areas. There are no MTEs associated with Navy training and testing activities in the NWTT Study Area.