Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Shortfin Mako Shark Management Measures
NMFS announces the availability of an Issues and Options document and its intent to prepare an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyzing impacts of potential new management measures for shortfin mako sharks. Such measures would be implemented through rulemaking to address overfishing and to implement, as necessary and appropriate, measures adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) (ICCAT Recommendation 17-08) in response to the 2017 shortfin mako shark stock assessment. Based on that assessment, NMFS determined that North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks were overfished and experiencing overfishing in December 2017. Management alternatives considered would be to meet NMFS's obligations related to ending overfishing and establishing a foundation for rebuilding the shortfin mako shark stock consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA). Scoping is underway for this action, and NMFS requests comments on a preliminary Issues and Options document that presents range of commercial and recreational management measures, in both directed and incidental fisheries, including, but not limited to, commercial and recreational retention limits, quota levels, minimum size limits, gear modifications, and electronic reporting.
Determination of Overfishing or an Overfished Condition
This action serves as a notice that NMFS, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), has found that the following stocks are subject to overfishing, overfished, or approaching an overfished condition. Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish is now subject to overfishing. The southern Georges Bank/Mid-Atlantic stock of red hake and North Atlantic shortfin mako shark are now both subject to overfishing and overfished. The following Atlantic stocks are still overfished: Atlantic wolffish, ocean pout, the Southern New England/ Mid-Atlantic stock of winter flounder, the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank stock of windowpane flounder, and witch flounder. In addition, three stocks of yellowtail flounder (Georges Bank, Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic), and two stocks of Atlantic cod (Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine) are all still subject to overfishing and overfished. NMFS, on behalf of the Secretary, notifies the appropriate fishery management council (Council) whenever it determines that a stock is subject to overfishing, is in an overfished condition, or is approaching an overfished condition.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries; General Category Fishery
NMFS transfers 10 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Reserve category to the January 2018 subquota period (from January 1 through March 31, 2018, or until the available subquota for this period is reached, whichever comes first) and closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant BFT until the General category reopens on June 1, 2018. The quota transfer is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. The intent of the closure is to prevent overharvest of the available General category January 2018 BFT subquota as adjusted in this action.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of the Aleut Corporation's and the Community Development Quota pollock directed fishing allowances from the Aleutian Islands subarea to the Bering Sea subarea directed fisheries. These actions are necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2018 total allowable catch of pollock, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Less Than 50 Feet Length Overall Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels less than 50 feet length overall (LOA) using hook-and- line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to catcher vessels less than 50 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Bravo Wharf Recapitalization Project, Year 2
In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic (the Navy) to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during construction activities associated with recapitalization of Bravo Wharf, Year 2, in Naval Station Mayport (NSM), Jacksonville, Florida.
Endangered Species; File No. 21467
Notice is hereby given that Karen Holloway-Adkins, Ph.D., East Coast Biologists, Inc., P.O. Box 37715, Indialantic, Florida 32903, has applied in due form for a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.
Endangered Species; File No. 21366
Notice is hereby given that Margaret Lamont, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey, 7320 NW 71st St., Gainesville, FL 32653, has applied in due form for a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Essential Fish Habitat Amendments
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) submitted Amendment 115 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, Amendment 105 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, Amendment 49 to the FMP for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, Amendment 13 to the FMP for the Salmon Fisheries in the EEZ Off Alaska, and Amendment 2 to the FMP for Fish Resources of the Arctic Management Area, (collectively Amendments) to the Secretary of Commerce for review. If approved, these Amendments would revise the FMPs by updating the description and identification of essential fish habitat (EFH), and updating information on adverse impacts to EFH based on the best scientific information available. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMPs, and other applicable laws.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Navy Marine Structure Maintenance and Pile Replacement in Washington
NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting construction activities related to marine structure maintenance and pile replacement at facilities in Washington, over the course of five years (2018-2023). As required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is proposing regulations to govern that take, and requests comments on the proposed regulations. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorization and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision.