[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 52 (Friday, March 16, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 15712-15716]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-6453]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 120306154-2152-01]
RIN 0648-XA920


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2012 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Quota Specifications

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2012 quota specifications for the Atlantic 
bluefin tuna (BFT) fishery. This action is necessary to implement 
binding recommendations of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic 
Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management 
objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 16, 2012. 
Dates and locations for public hearings on this proposed action will be 
specified in a separate document in the Federal Register to be 
published at a later date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-
0048'', by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. 
To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the 
``submit a comment'' icon, then enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0048'' in the 
keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the 
resulting list and click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on the right 
of that line.
     Fax: 978-281-9340, Attn: Sarah McLaughlin
     Mail: Sarah McLaughlin, Highly Migratory Species 
Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 55 
Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930
     Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the 
above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.
    Supporting documents, including the 2011 Environmental Assessment, 
Regulatory Impact Review, and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as 
well as others, such as the Fishery Management Plans described below 
may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. 
These documents also are available by sending your request to Sarah 
McLaughlin at the mailing address specified above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978-
281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore 
tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as 
``Atlantic tunas'') are managed under the dual authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA. As an active member of ICCAT, the United 
States implements binding ICCAT recommendations to comply with this 
international treaty. ATCA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be necessary and 
appropriate, to implement ICCAT recommendations. The authority to issue 
regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been delegated 
from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS.

Background

    On May 28, 1999, NMFS published in the Federal Register (64 FR 
29090) final regulations, effective July 1, 1999, implementing the 
Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 
FMP). The 1999 FMP included a framework process to promulgate annual 
specifications for the BFT fishery, in accordance with ATCA and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and to implement the annual recommendations of 
ICCAT. Since 1982, ICCAT has

[[Page 15713]]

recommended a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of BFT, and since 1991, ICCAT 
has recommended specific limits (quotas) for the United States and 
other Contracting Parties with BFT fisheries.
    On October 2, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register (71 FR 
58058) a final rule, effective November 1, 2006, implementing the 2006 
Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan 
(Consolidated HMS FMP), which consolidated management of all Atlantic 
HMS (i.e., sharks, swordfish, tunas, and billfish) into one 
comprehensive FMP. The implementing regulations for Atlantic HMS are at 
50 CFR part 635. Among other things, the Consolidated HMS FMP 
maintained an allocation scheme, established in the 1999 FMP, for 
dividing the baseline annual U.S. BFT quota among several domestic 
quota categories based on gear type (i.e., Harpoon, Purse Seine, 
Angling, General, Longline, and Trap categories).
    The 2012 BFT quota specifications are necessary to adjust the 
annual U.S. baseline BFT quota, recommended for 2011 and for 2012 by 
ICCAT, to account for any underharvest or overharvest of the adjusted 
2011 U.S. BFT quota. Preliminary information indicates an underharvest 
of the 2011 adjusted BFT quota. Final 2011 landings and dead discard 
information will be available in May 2012.

2010 ICCAT Recommendation and 2011 Implementing Rule

    At its 2010 annual meeting, ICCAT recommended a TAC of 1,750 mt 
annually for 2011 and for 2012, inclusive of dead discards (ICCAT 
Recommendation 10-03--Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT concerning 
the Western Atlantic BFT Rebuilding Program). This amount is expected 
to allow for continued stock growth under the both the low and high 
stock recruitment scenarios developed by ICCAT's scientific body at the 
last BFT stock assessment. The U.S. share of the TAC, adjusted for two 
specific bycatch allocations, is 54.02 percent, resulting in a baseline 
quota of 923.7 mt. The annual total U.S. quota, including 25 mt to 
account for bycatch related to pelagic longline fisheries in the 
Northeast Distant gear restricted area (NED), is 948.7 mt. Currently, 
ICCAT limits the amount of underharvest that may be carried forward 
from one year to the next to no more than 10 percent of a country's 
quota. This limits the amount of 2011 U.S. underharvest that may be 
carried forward to 94.9 mt (10 percent of the 948.7-mt total U.S. 
quota).
    Through a final rule implementing the BFT quotas and Atlantic tuna 
fisheries management measures (76 FR 39019, July 5, 2011), NMFS 
modified the baseline quota to 948.7 mt to implement ICCAT 
Recommendation 10-03 and set the domestic BFT fishing category 
subquotas per the allocation scheme established in the Consolidated HMS 
FMP and as permitted in implementing regulations (71 FR 58058, October 
2, 2006). The baseline quota and category subquotas are codified and 
will be effective until changed; for instance, as a result of any new 
ICCAT BFT TAC recommendation. However, consistent with the Consolidated 
HMS FMP, NMFS will make underharvest and overharvest adjustments as 
necessary for the 2012 fishing year. Until the final specifications are 
effective, the existing BFT base quotas continue to apply as codified. 
See Table 1, second column.

Accounting for Dead Discards

    The United States must report BFT landings data and BFT dead 
discard estimates to ICCAT annually. Currently, the best available 
annual estimate of dead discards for 2011 and that can be expected for 
2012 is the 2010 estimate of 122.3 mt. Only pelagic longline dead 
discard estimates are available at this time. Estimates from other BFT 
gear types and fishing sectors that are not observed at sufficient 
levels for estimation and that do not report via a logbook are not 
included in this calculation. However, bycatch and bycatch mortality of 
BFT by vessels using handgear and purse seine gear is considered to be 
relatively low. Using the 2010 estimate as a proxy for estimated 2012 
dead discards for the proposed action is appropriate because it is the 
best available and most complete information NMFS currently has 
regarding dead discards and is the established protocol in the 
regulations. When the 2011 BFT dead discard estimate becomes available 
(late spring 2012), it will be used to prepare the final specifications 
and will be reported to ICCAT along with total 2011 BFT landings.

2012 Quota Specifications

    The 2012 BFT quota specifications are necessary to adjust the 
annual U.S. baseline BFT quota, which was recommended by ICCAT for 2011 
and for 2012, to account for underharvest or overharvest of the 
adjusted 2011 U.S. BFT quota. Based on preliminary data available as of 
January 18, 2012, landings for 2011 totaled 746.3 mt. Adding the 122.3-
mt estimate of dead discards results in a preliminary 2011 total catch 
of 868.6 mt, which is 175 mt less than the amount of quota (inclusive 
of dead discards) allowed under ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 (948.7 mt 
plus 94.9 mt of 2010 underharvest carried forward to 2011, totaling 
1,043.6 mt). However, the current ICCAT recommendation limits the 
amount of underharvest the United States may carry forward to 2012 to 
94.9 mt, 10 percent of the total U.S. quota.
    NMFS proposes to account up front (i.e., at the beginning of the 
fishing year) for half of the expected dead discards for 2012, using 
the best available estimate of dead discards, and deducting that 
portion directly from the Longline category subquota. This is the same 
approach that NMFS took for the final 2011 BFT quota specifications. 
Accounting for dead discards in the Longline category in this way may 
provide further incentive for pelagic longline fishermen to reduce 
those interactions that may result in dead discards. NMFS would apply 
half of the amount of underharvest that is allowed to be carried 
forward to 2012 to the Longline category and maintain the other half in 
the Reserve category. Maintaining this portion of the underharvest in 
the Reserve category until later in the fishing year would provide 
maximum flexibility in accounting for 2012 landings and dead discards. 
Consistent with determination criteria at Sec.  635.27(a)(8), NMFS may 
allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or 
annual adjustments to any other quota category.
    Specifically, NMFS would deduct half of the dead discard estimate 
of 122.3 mt (i.e., 61.2 mt) from the 2012 baseline Longline category 
subquota of 74.8 mt and apply half of the 94.9 mt allowed to be carried 
forward to 2012 to the Longline category, i.e., 74.8 - 61.2 + 47.5 = 
61.1 mt adjusted Longline subquota (not including the 25-mt allocation 
set aside by ICCAT for the NED). NMFS would add the remainder of the 
2011 underharvest that can be carried forward to 2012 (47.4 mt) to the 
Reserve category's baseline allocation of 23.1 mt, for an adjusted 
Reserve category quota of 70.5 mt.
    For the directed fishing categories (i.e., the Angling, General, 
Harpoon, Purse Seine categories) as well as the Trap category, NMFS is 
not proposing adjustments to the baseline BFT subquotas (i.e., the 
allocations that result from applying the scheme established in the 
Consolidated HMS FMP to the baseline U.S. BFT quota).
    Thus, in accordance with the ICCAT Recommendation 10-03, the 
Consolidated HMS FMP allocation scheme for the domestic categories, and 
regulations regarding annual adjustments at Sec.  635.27(a)(10), NMFS 
proposes quota specifications for the

[[Page 15714]]

2012 fishing year as follows and as shown in Table 1: General 
category--435.1 mt; Harpoon category--36 mt; Purse Seine category--
171.8 mt; Angling category--182 mt; Longline category--61.1 mt; and 
Trap category--0.9 mt. The amount allocated to the Reserve category for 
inseason adjustments, scientific research collection, potential 
overharvest in any category except the Purse Seine category, and 
potential quota transfers would be 70.3 mt.
    NMFS will make any necessary adjustments to the 2012 specifications 
in the final rule after considering updated 2011 landings information 
and the final dead discard estimate for 2011. It is important to note 
that NMFS and ICCAT have separate schedules and approaches for 
accounting for U.S. landings and dead discards. Through the 
specifications process used in 2011 (and proposed here), NMFS accounted 
proactively for half of the best estimate of dead discards at the 
beginning of the fishing year, and indicated that total 2011 U.S. BFT 
landings and dead discards would be accounted for and reported to 
ICCAT, and NMFS would make any ICCAT-required adjustments to future 
U.S. BFT quotas, if necessary. In contrast, ICCAT assesses quota 
compliance at its annual meeting in November by comparing the prior 
year's landings and reported dead discards against the adjusted U.S. 
quota. At the 2012 ICCAT annual meeting, ICCAT will compare actual 2011 
landings and dead discards against the 948.7-mt base quota for 2011, 
plus the 94.9 mt allowed to be carried forward from 2010 to 2011 (for a 
total 2011 adjusted U.S. quota of 1,043.6 mt), to determine the United 
States' compliance with ICCAT.
    If the final 2011 landings and dead discards information results in 
a total of greater than 948.7 mt (e.g., if the final dead discards 
estimate increases by more than 80.1 mt) but less than 1,043.6 mt, then 
the amount of 2011 underharvest that the United States may carry 
forward to 2012 would need to be reduced from 94.9 mt accordingly. In 
such an event, NMFS could decide to provide half of the available 
amount carried forward to the Longline category and the other half to 
the Reserve category (e.g., if the 2011 landings and the final dead 
discard estimate total 963.6 mt, 80 mt would be available to carry 
forward and NMFS could provide 40 mt to the Longline category and 40 mt 
to the Reserve category). NMFS could also decide to provide the entire 
amount to the Longline or Reserve category, particularly if the amount 
is small, such as 20 mt, or could allocate the amount carried forward 
in another manner after considering domestic management needs for 2012. 
In these examples, the baseline subquotas for the directed fishing 
categories and Trap category would be maintained (i.e., not changed). 
NMFS invites public comment on the range of possible allocations of the 
amount carried forward should that amount be greater than 0 mt and less 
than 94.9 mt.
    Conversely, if the complete 2011 landings information and the final 
dead discard estimate for 2011 total more than the adjusted 2011 U.S. 
BFT quota of 1,043.6 mt, NMFS may need to take further action, 
consistent with the BFT quota adjustment regulations and with ICCAT 
Recommendation 10-03. Also, the United States may be subject to 
adjustment of the U.S. BFT quota, consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations. Given the amount of dead discards the United States 
has reported to ICCAT in the last few years (ranging from 122 to 204 
mt), NMFS considers this potential situation to be unlikely, as the 
dead discard estimate would need to be approximately 300 mt. However, 
NMFS requests public comment on the potential adjustment of the final 
2012 quota and subquotas to account for potential overharvest of the 
2011 adjusted U.S. quota. For example, NMFS may determine that reducing 
either the Longline and/or the Reserve category quotas is necessary, or 
that the overall 2012 BFT quota must be reduced, which would affect all 
category subquotas.
    The adjusted Longline category subquota for 2012 would be further 
subdivided in accordance with the North/South allocation percentages 
(i.e., no more than 60 percent to the south of 31[deg] N. latitude) in 
the Consolidated HMS FMP. Thus, the proposed Longline category subquota 
of 61.1 mt would be subdivided as follows: 24.4 mt to pelagic longline 
vessels landing BFT north of 31[deg] N. latitude, and 36.7 mt to 
pelagic longline vessels landing BFT south of 31[deg] N. latitude. NMFS 
would account for landings under the 25-mt NED allocation separately 
from other Longline category landings.
    NMFS considers this a transitional approach from the method used 
for 2007 through 2010. From 2007 through 2010, there were substantial 
underharvests of some of the commercial BFT subquotas. Consistent with 
the Consolidated HMS FMP and its implementing regulations, NMFS 
provided the Longline category a substantial portion of prior year U.S. 
underharvest that was allowed to be carried forward (limited to 50 
percent of the total U.S. quota at that time) during the annual 
specification process at the beginning of the fishing year. This 
provided quota sufficient for the pelagic longline fleet to operate for 
the entire fishing year while also accounting for dead discards ``up 
front'' using the best available estimate of anticipated dead discards. 
NMFS was also able to increase the directed categories' quotas and the 
Reserve category quota using available underharvest.
    This new method is appropriate again for 2012 as NMFS plans to 
begin an HMS FMP amendment process to determine whether existing 
management measures need to be adjusted more broadly to meet the 
multiple goals for the BFT fishery in the future. In the meantime, 
management of the BFT fishery continues under the current Consolidated 
HMS FMP, implementing regulations, and ICCAT Recommendations. Through 
the FMP amendment process, NMFS may begin to expand BFT data collection 
programs, including collection of dead discard information, for all 
categories and may revise measures to account for and control dead 
discards. In contemplating how to account for dead discards within the 
U.S. BFT quota, NMFS believes that the operational issues facing the 
pelagic longline fishery and implications regarding BFT dead discards 
that may occur while the fleet continues directed fishing operations 
for swordfish and other tunas should be considered. NMFS anticipates 
that dead discards in the pelagic longline fishery may be reduced due 
to continued implementation of the weak hook requirement in the Gulf of 
Mexico in 2011 (76 FR 18653, April 5, 2011).

[[Page 15715]]



                  Table 1--Proposed 2012 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quotas and Quota Specifications
                                                [in metric tons]
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                                                                         2011 Quota specifications
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                                     Baseline allocation                        2011
                                      for 2011 and 2012     Dead discard    Underharvest
   Category (% share of baseline       (per 2010 ICCAT     deduction (1/2     to carry     Adjusted 2012 fishing
              quota)                  recommendation and    of 2011 proxy    forward to          year quota
                                     consolidated HMS FMP   of 122.3 mt)    2012 (94.9 mt
                                         allocations)                          total)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total (100).......................  923.7*                 ..............  ..............  957.4
Angling (19.7)....................  182.0                  ..............  ..............  182.0
                                    SUBQUOTAS:             ..............  ..............  SUBQUOTAS:
                                    School 94.9            ..............  ..............  School 94.9
                                      Reserve 17.6         ..............  ..............    Reserve 17.6
                                      North 36.5           ..............  ..............    North 36.5
                                      South 40.8           ..............  ..............    South 40.8
                                    LS/SM 82.9             ..............  ..............  LS/SM 82.9
                                      North 39.1           ..............  ..............    North 39.1
                                      South 43.8           ..............  ..............    South 43.8
                                    Trophy 4.2             ..............  ..............  Trophy 4.2
                                      North 1.4            ..............  ..............    North 1.4
                                      South 2.8            ..............  ..............    South 2.8
General (47.1)....................  435.1                  ..............  ..............  435.1
                                    SUBQUOTAS:             ..............  ..............  SUBQUOTAS:
                                      Jan 23.1             ..............  ..............    Jan 23.1
                                      Jun-Aug 217.6        ..............  ..............    Jun-Aug 217.6
                                      Sept 115.3           ..............  ..............    Sept 115.3
                                      Oct-Nov 56.6         ..............  ..............    Oct-Nov 56.6
                                      Dec 22.6             ..............  ..............    Dec 22.6
Harpoon (3.9).....................  36.0                   ..............  ..............  36.0
Purse Seine (18.6)................  171.8                  ..............  ..............  171.8
Longline (8.1)....................  74.8                            -61.2           +47.5  61.1
                                    SUBQUOTAS:             ..............  ..............  SUBQUOTAS:
                                      North (-NED) 29.9    ..............  ..............    North (-NED) 24.4
                                      NED 25.0 *           ..............  ..............    NED 25.0 *
                                      South 44.9           ..............  ..............    South 36.7
Trap (0.1)........................  0.9                    ..............  ..............  0.9
Reserve (2.5).....................  23.1                   ..............           +47.4  70.5
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* 25-mt ICCAT set-aside to account for bycatch of BFT in pelagic longline fisheries in the NED. Not included in
  totals at top of table.

Request for Comments

    NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through April 16, 
2012. See instructions in ADDRESSES section above.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed 
rule is consistent with the Consolidated HMS FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration 
after public comment.
    This proposed rule is exempt from the procedures of E.O. 12866 
because this action contains no implementing regulations.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq., the Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The reasoning for this certification is as follows:
    These annual quota Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) specifications 
(effective January 1 through December 31, 2012) are necessary to 
implement recommendations of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic 
Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management 
objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under ATCA, the United 
States must promulgate regulations as necessary and appropriate to 
implement binding recommendations of ICCAT.
    The proposed rule would adjust the annual U.S. baseline BFT quota, 
which was recommended for 2011 and for 2012 by ICCAT, to account for 
any underharvest or overharvest of the adjusted 2011 U.S. BFT quota. 
Preliminary information indicates an underharvest of the 2011 adjusted 
BFT quota. This proposed action was developed in accordance with the 
framework process set forth in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP), and 
is supported by the Environmental Impact Statement/Regulatory Impact 
Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis prepared for the 
Consolidated HMS FMP and the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact 
Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for the 
2011 final rule implementing BFT quotas and Atlantic tuna fisheries 
management measures (see ADDRESSES).
    On July 5, 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
published a final rule (76 FR 39019) that modified the baseline quota 
to 948.7 mt to implement ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 (Supplemental 
Recommendation by ICCAT concerning the Western Atlantic BFT Rebuilding 
Program) and set the category subquotas per the allocations established 
in the Consolidated HMS FMP (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006). The FRFA 
prepared for the 2011 BFT quota specifications indicated that there 
were 8,311 commercial Atlantic tunas or Atlantic HMS permit holders 
(3,849 in the Atlantic Tunas General category; 29 in the Atlantic Tunas 
Harpoon category; 5 in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine

[[Page 15716]]

category; 248 in the Atlantic Tunas Longline category; 6 in the 
Atlantic Tunas Trap category; and 4,174 in the HMS Charter/Headboat 
category). This constitutes the best available information regarding 
the universe of permit holders recently analyzed.
    Under the SBA's regulations implementing the RFA, a small fishing 
entity is one that has less than $4 million in annual revenue ($6.5 
million for charter/party boats). This action would apply to all 
participants in the Atlantic BFT fishery, all of which are considered 
small entities.
    The most recent ex-vessel average price per pound information for 
each commercial quota is used to estimate potential ex-vessel gross 
revenues under the 2012 baseline subquotas and the 2012 proposed 
adjusted subquotas, which would reduce the Longline category subquota 
in the same manner as implemented for 2011 (i.e., 2011 prices for the 
General, Harpoon, and Longline/Trap categories, and 2009 for the Purse 
Seine category, when Purse Seine category landing were last recorded). 
The 2012 baseline quotas could result in estimated gross revenues for 
each category, if fully utilized, as follows: General category: $8.5 
million (435.1 mt * $8.90/lb); Harpoon category: $565,000 (36 mt * 
$7.12/lb); Longline category: $1 million (74.8 mt * $6.10/lb); Purse 
Seine category: $2.3 million (171.8 mt * $5.96/lb); and Trap category: 
$12,000 (0.9 mt * $6.10/lb). Under the adjusted quota for the Longline 
category, gross revenues could be $822,000 (61.1 mt * $6.10/lb). 
Estimated potential 2012 revenues on a per vessel basis, considering 
the number of permit holders listed above, could be $2,200 for the 
General category; $19,500 for the Harpoon category; $3,300 for the 
Longline category under the proposed adjusted subquota (reduced from 
$4,100 under the baseline subquota); $451,000 for the Purse Seine 
category; and $2,000 for the Trap category. Thus, all of the entities 
affected by this rule are considered to be small entities for the 
purposes of the RFA.
    However, this proposed rule would not change the BFT baseline quota 
and category subquotas, or implement any new management measures not 
previously considered. ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 is in effect until 
changed, for instance, as a result of a new ICCAT BFT quota 
recommendation. The domestic BFT baseline quotas and subquotas are 
codified in the regulations. Thus, the affected entities will not 
experience any negative price impacts as a result of this rule.
    Carryover of underharvest: ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 limits the 
amount of underharvest that may be carried forward from one year to the 
next to no more than 10 percent of a country's quota. This limits the 
amount of 2011 U.S. underharvest that may be carried forward to 94.9 mt 
(10 percent of the 948.7-mt total U.S. quota). NMFS proposes to carry 
94.9 mt forward to 2012 and distribute that amount in the same manner 
as specified for 2011. The adjusted BFT quota and subquotas for the 
2012 fishing year would be the same as for the 2011 fishing year based 
on the best available data regarding 2011 landings and the best 
available estimate of dead discards, which must be accounted for and 
reported to ICCAT. The annual specification process that this proposed 
rule follows, including application of underharvests and overharvests, 
is described in detail in Chapters 2 and 4 of the Consolidated HMS FMP. 
Because the economic impacts of the carryover of underharvest, to the 
extent that there are any, are expected to be generally positive, this 
rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    Because this rule does not change the catch limits significantly, 
and will not have an economic impact (except a positive one) on the 
affected entities, it does not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities, no initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis is required, and none has been prepared.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: March 13, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-6453 Filed 3-15-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P