Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Amendment 26
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council) and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) have jointly submitted Amendment 26 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 26 would adjust the management boundary for the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and Atlantic migratory groups of king mackerel; revise management reference points, stock and sector annual catch limits (ACLs), commercial quotas, and recreational annual catch targets (ACTs) for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel; allow limited retention and sale of Atlantic migratory group king mackerel incidentally caught in the shark gillnet fishery; establish a commercial split season for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel in the Atlantic southern zone; establish a commercial trip limit system for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel in the Atlantic southern zone; revise reference points and stock and sector ACLs for Gulf migratory group king mackerel; revise commercial zone quotas for Gulf migratory group king mackerel; and modify the recreational bag limit for Gulf migratory group king mackerel. The purpose of Amendment 26 is to ensure that king mackerel management is based on the best scientific information available, while increasing the social and economic benefits of the fishery.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Retention Limit for Blacknose Sharks and Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the Atlantic Region
This final rule establishes a commercial retention limit of eight blacknose sharks for all Atlantic shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region south of 34[deg]00' N. latitude. NMFS manages four small coastal shark (SCS) species in the Atlantic: Blacknose, Atlantic sharpnose, finetooth, and bonnethead. All of these species except blacknose sharks are managed in a management group called the ``non-blacknose SCS.'' This action is being taken to reduce discards of non-blacknose small coastal sharks (SCS) while increasing the utilization of available Atlantic non-blacknose SCS quota and aid in rebuilding and ending overfishing of Atlantic blacknose sharks. The final action affects fishermen who fish in the Atlantic region and who hold commercial shark limited access permits. In addition, this final rule implements two small, unrelated administrative changes to existing regulatory text to remove cross-references to an unrelated section and a section that does not exist. These two changes are administrative in nature, and are not expected to result in any impacts to the environment or current fishing operations.
2017 Annual Determination to Implement the Sea Turtle Observer Requirement
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is providing notification that the agency will not identify additional fisheries to observe on the Annual Determination (AD) for 2017, pursuant to its authority under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Through the AD, NMFS identifies U.S. fisheries operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean that will be required to take observers upon NMFS' request. The purpose of observing identified fisheries is to learn more about sea turtle interactions in a given fishery, evaluate measures to prevent or reduce sea turtle takes, and implement the prohibition against sea turtle takes. Fisheries identified on the 2015 AD (see Table 1) remain on the AD for a 5-year period and are required to carry observers upon NMFS' request until December 31, 2019.
Gulf of Mexico Coast Conservation Corps (GulfCorps) Program
The principal objective of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Gulf of Mexico Coast Conservation Corps (``GulfCorps'') Program solicitation is to develop a Gulf-wide conservation corps that will contribute to meaningful Gulf of Mexico ecosystem restoration benefiting coastal habitat and water quality in each of the Gulf states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida), while economically benefiting coastal communities through education, training, and employment opportunities. NOAA's GulfCorps Program grant recipients will recruit, train, and employ workers to work on habitat restoration projects and develop skills in support of long-term Gulf coast restoration. See the full GulfCorps Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO), located on Grants.gov as described in the ADDRESSES section, for a complete description of program goals and how applications will be evaluated.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Amendment 16
This final rule implements regulations in Amendment 16 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 16 protects deep-sea corals from the effects of commercial fishing gear in the Mid-Atlantic. The management measures implemented in this rule are intended to protect deep-sea coral and deep-sea coral habitat while promoting the sustainable utilization and conservation of several different marine resources managed under the authority of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.