[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 1, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 25669-25677]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10459]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 120412411-2411-01]
RIN 0648-BB75


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; North and South Atlantic 
Swordfish Quotas and Management Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement the International 
Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) 
Recommendation 11-02, which maintains the U.S. North Atlantic swordfish 
base quota allocation, limits the annual underharvest carryover to 25 
percent of the base quota, and requires an annual quota transfer to 
Morocco. ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 also includes an alternative 
swordfish minimum size of 25-inches cleithrum-caudal keel (CK).
    This proposed rule also considers changes to swordfish minimum size 
requirements, including the 25-inch CK alternative swordfish minimum 
size and whether the bill of a swordfish must be attached when 
measuring swordfish using the existing lower jaw fork length minimum 
size requirement. The rule also includes regulatory modifications and 
clarifications regarding swordfish fishery season closures and the 
North Atlantic swordfish quota reserve category.
    Finally, this proposed rule would also adjust the North and South 
Atlantic swordfish quotas for the 2012 fishing year to account for 2011 
underharvests and landings, as required by ICCAT Recommendations 11-02 
and 09-03, and implemented in regulations at 50 CFR 635.27. This 
proposed rule could affect commercial and recreational fishing for 
swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf 
of Mexico. This action implements ICCAT recommendations, consistent 
with the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and furthers domestic 
management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m., local time, on June 
5, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2012-0094 by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-0094 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.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, 
1315 East West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910.
     Fax: 301-713-1917, Phone: 301-427-8503; Attn: Margo 
Schulze-Haugen.
    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 
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.
    NMFS will hold one conference call and three public hearings on 
this proposed rule on May 22, 23, 25, and 31, 2012. The public hearings 
will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Silver Spring, Maryland; and 
Manahawkin, New Jersey. For specific locations, dates and times see the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
    Copies of the supporting documents--including the draft 
Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP)--
are available from the HMS Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or by contacting LeAnn Hogan at 301-427-8503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Durkee by phone: 202-670-6637, 
or LeAnn Hogan or Delisse Ortiz by phone: 301-427-8503 or by fax: 301-
713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: North and South Atlantic swordfish are 
managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA, 
which 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, NOAA (AA). On October 2, 2006, 
NMFS published in the Federal Register (71 FR 58058) final regulations, 
effective November 1, 2006, implementing the 2006 Consolidated Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which details 
management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries. The implementing 
regulations for the Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments are at 50 
CFR part 635.
    ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna-like 
species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. ICCAT recommendations 
are binding on Contracting Parties, non-Contracting Cooperating 
Parties, Entities and Fishing Entities (CPCs), unless Parties object 
pursuant to the treaty. All ICCAT recommendations are available on the 
ICCAT Web site at http://www.iccat.int/en/. In November 2011, ICCAT 
adopted Recommendation 11-02 for North Atlantic swordfish. This 
recommendation maintains the U.S. baseline quota of 2,937.6 metric tons 
(mt) dressed weight (dw) for 2012 and 2013. Previous North Atlantic 
swordfish recommendations included a quota transfer of 18.8 mt dw from 
the United States to Canada; however, Recommendation 11-02 eliminates 
this quota transfer and includes a transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the 
United States to Morocco to support joint scientific

[[Page 25670]]

research and Morocco's efforts to eliminate the use of driftnets. 
Recommendation 11-02 also includes a provision for the submission of 
annual swordfish management plans and a change to the underharvest 
carryover provisions. The recommendation limits the amount of 
underharvested quota that can be carried over by a CPC allocated a 
baseline quota greater than 500 mt to 25 percent of the baseline quota. 
All other CPCs are limited to an underharvest carryover limit of 50 
percent of their baseline quota. This recommendation also includes an 
option for countries to use a CK minimum size measurement of 25 inches. 
This recommendation was adopted by ICCAT based on the most recent North 
Atlantic swordfish stock assessment.
    In this proposed rule, NMFS considers changes to the HMS 
regulations at 50 CFR part 635 consistent with ICCAT Recommendation 11-
02. Specifically, NMFS proposes regulatory changes to the adjusted 
quotas and minimum sizes that would affect commercial and recreational 
vessels that catch Atlantic swordfish. Under ATCA, the United States 
promulgates regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to 
implement binding recommendations of ICCAT. NMFS prepared a draft 
Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), and an 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), which present and 
analyze anticipated environmental, social, and economic impacts of each 
alternative contained in this proposed rule. A summary of the 
alternatives considered and related analyses are provided below. The 
complete list of alternatives and related analyses is provided in the 
draft EA/RIR/IRFA. A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA prepared for this 
proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

ICCAT North Atlantic Swordfish Quota Implementation

    In this action, NMFS proposes to maintain the U.S. base quota of 
2,937.6 mt dw and implement both of the other quota-related measures in 
ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 for North Atlantic swordfish. The first 
measure requires an annual quota transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the 
United States to Morocco to support joint scientific research and 
Morocco's efforts to eliminate the use of driftnets. The second measure 
limits the amount of underharvested quota relevant ICCAT parties can 
carryover to the subsequent fishing year. Previously, the ICCAT allowed 
underharvests of up to 50 percent of the annual base quota (1,468.8 mt 
dw for the United States); however, ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 limits 
this carryover to 25 percent of the base quota (734.4 mt dw for the 
United States). Due to the quota transfer and reduced underharvest 
carryover limit, the maximum U.S. North Atlantic swordfish adjusted 
quota would be reduced to 3,559.2 mt dw (2,937.6 mt dw base quota + 
734.4 mt dw underharvest-112.8 mt dw transfer) compared to 4,406.4 mt 
dw under previous recommendations. These North Atlantic swordfish 
quotas would be maintained until the quotas are changed by ICCAT.
    This proposed action would likely have neutral ecological and 
economic impacts in the short-term because the United States is 
unlikely to achieve 100 percent quota utilization in the short-term. 
Consequently, minor changes to the adjusted quota through international 
quota transfers or through reduced underharvest carryover limits are 
unlikely to impact total annual revenues from the fishery, swordfish 
catch rates or mortality levels. In the long-term, however, the 
proposed action could have minor beneficial ecological impacts on the 
North Atlantic swordfish stock as the U.S. swordfish fishery nears 100 
percent quota utilization.
    With regard to long-term socioeconomic impacts, a lower adjusted 
quota could have minor adverse impacts assuming the U.S. swordfish 
fishery nears 100 percent quota utilization. At that time, an adjusted 
quota that reflects the annual quota transfer to Morocco and the lower 
underharvest carryover limit would lead to a lower available quota 
relative to the current adjusted quota. This lower level of adjusted 
quota would result in a decrease in total possible fishery-wide annual 
revenues. If NMFS deducts the 112.8 mt dw quota transfer from the U.S. 
base quota of 2,937.6 mt dw and limits underharvest carryover to 25 
percent, the total U.S. adjusted quota could reach 3,559.2 mt dw 
(7,846,612 lbs dw). Assuming an average ex-vessel price of $4.31 per 
pound and 100 percent quota utilization, total possible gross revenues 
across the domestic fishery would be estimated to be $33,818,898 
compared to $41,868,844 under the current adjusted quota of 4,406.4 mt 
dw. Therefore, this proposed action could result in annual gross 
revenues that are $8,049,946 less ($41,868,844-$33,818,898) than the 
possible annual gross revenues under the current adjusted quota of 
4,406.4 mt dw. However, the quota transfer to Morocco and the reduction 
in the underharvest carryover limit are binding ICCAT measures and the 
United States is required to implement these measures as necessary and 
appropriate to comply with ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 and ATCA.

Swordfish Minimum Size Measures

    In this action, NMFS proposes to implement the swordfish minimum 
size provision of the 2011 ICCAT North Atlantic swordfish 
Recommendation 11-02. This alternative minimum size is 25 inches CK and 
would replace the existing 29-inch CK minimum size that is in place for 
the U.S. Atlantic swordfish fishery. The 25-inch CK minimum size is 
equivalent to a greater number of 47-inch LJFL swordfish as opposed to 
the 29-inch CK minimum size and was calculated to provide a 
scientifically-based equivalent measurement for dressed swordfish. 
Since the 25-inch CK minimum size is equivalent to the 47-inch LJFL 
minimum size, NMFS does not expect any ecological impacts to result 
from this action. The alternative CK minimum size would simplify and 
facilitate compliance and enforcement of the minimum size requirements. 
Simplifying enforcement and compliance could lead to an increase in the 
number of fish legally retained, but NMFS expects that this increase 
would be modest and well within the ICCAT SCRS minimum size 
requirements. Implementing the proposed 25-inch CK minimum size could 
better address the operational needs of the U.S. swordfish fleet while 
not leading to negative ecological impacts to swordfish stocks because 
any retention would still be within the specified quota limits.
    Implementing the 25-inch CK minimum size would likely have moderate 
beneficial socioeconomic impacts in both the short and long-term. 
Currently, fishermen do not have a minimum size measurement that allows 
for the retention of dressed swordfish that measure at or slightly 
above 47 inches LJFL. If a fisherman catches a swordfish that meets the 
47-inch LJFL minimum size, but not the current 29-inch CK minimum size, 
the fisherman must either land the fish with the head naturally 
attached or discard the fish. Due to storage capacity limitations and 
uncertainty in minimum size regulations, fishermen sometimes choose to 
discard legal fish that do not meet the 29-inch CK minimum size. 
Similarly, dealers sometimes will not accept fish that meet the 47-inch 
LJFL measurement but not the 29-inch CK minimum size. Even when these 
swordfish are landed with the head naturally attached, some dealers 
have expressed concern that, once the head is

[[Page 25671]]

removed, the fish could be in violation of minimum size requirements. 
For these reasons, implementing the ICCAT alternative minimum CK size 
of 25 inches could lead to increased retention of fish that measure at 
or slightly above 47 inches LJFL, since this CK minimum size is 
equivalent to a greater number of 47-inch LJFL fish than the existing 
29-inch CK minimum size. The increase in retained catch could lead to 
increased revenues for both fishermen and dealers. This increase would 
occur without any corresponding impact to the swordfish stock since all 
retained catch would continue to measure at least 47 inches LJFL which 
is the scientifically-determined sustainable minimum size.
    In this action, NMFS also proposes to allow the LJFL minimum size 
to be applied to swordfish without a bill, provided the bill has been 
removed forward of the anterior tip of the lower jaw. Due to 
morphological differences between individual swordfish, fishermen 
occasionally retain swordfish that meet the 47-inch LJFL minimum size, 
but not the current 29-inch CK minimum size. In these cases, the 
fishermen must leave the head of the swordfish naturally attached in 
order to maintain the carcass in a form that can be measured using the 
LJFL minimum size measurement. Scenarios such as this could continue 
even if NMFS implements the new ICCAT minimum CK length of 25 inches, 
although they would likely become less common. Currently, there is some 
confusion as to whether the head is still ``naturally attached'' if the 
bill is removed. The bill imposes a storage capacity cost, poses some 
safety concerns, and is not necessary for determining whether a 
swordfish is undersized. NMFS proposes to explicitly allow fishermen to 
remove the bill of the swordfish and still consider the head naturally 
attached, provided the bill is removed forward of the anterior tip of 
the lower jaw. Consequently, the LJFL minimum size standard could still 
be used. NMFS expects that this action would not have any ecological 
impacts on the Atlantic swordfish stock. Keeping the bill of a 
swordfish attached to the carcass is unnecessary when performing 
minimum size measurements as long as the lower jaw remains intact. Both 
the LJFL and CK minimum size measurements use two end points posterior 
to the bill; therefore, removing the bill would not have any impact on 
determining compliance with minimum size measurements. The action would 
not provide any additional impacts to the swordfish stock from 
increased catch or effort or contribute to the harvest of undersized 
individuals.
    Allowing the LJFL minimum size to be applied to swordfish without a 
bill would likely result in short and long-term minor beneficial 
socioeconomic impacts. Neither the LJFL nor the CK minimum size require 
the bill of the swordfish to be attached; therefore, the bill is 
unnecessary in determining if a swordfish is of legal size. However, 
the bill of a swordfish can complicate fishing operations by presenting 
safety concerns and imposing storage capacity costs. If NMFS allows 
fishermen to continue to employ the LJFL measurement in the absence of 
the bill, commercial vessels could more efficiently pack the swordfish 
catch, leaving more room for additional product. This proposed action 
provides increased flexibility for fisherman, increases safety, and 
allows for more efficient packing while not impacting the ability to 
determine if the fish meets the LJFL minimum size requirement. While 
NMFS is proposing to change the CK minimum size and allow for a 
swordfish to be measured using the LJFL measurement, even with its bill 
removed, NMFS also considered several other minimum size alternatives. 
These alternatives include eliminating the LJFL as an authorized size 
measurement and using only a CK measurement, and reinstating the 33 
pound live weight measurement. These alternatives are fully described 
in the draft EA/RIR/IRFA.

Administrative Changes

    This proposed rule also makes several modifications to the 
regulatory text for clarification or management purposes. The current 
regulatory language found in Sec.  635.27 (c)(2)(i) explicitly 
authorizes the inseason transfer of North Atlantic swordfish quota 
among the directed, incidental, and reserve categories. This rule 
proposes to allow NMFS to transfer quota from the directed category to 
the incidental or reserve quota categories as well. In this action, 
NMFS also analyzes the impacts of scientific research and exempted 
fishing permits on Atlantic swordfish and considers using quota in the 
reserve category to account for fishery-independent research landings. 
Therefore, the North Atlantic swordfish reserve category description is 
simplified and the annual reserve category allocation is explicitly 
stated to be 50 mt dw in Sec.  635.27(c)(1)(i)(D). Additionally, the 
regulatory language is modified so that ICCAT-negotiated quota 
transfers will be removed from the North Atlantic swordfish baseline 
quota rather than the reserve category.

2012 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Specifications

North Atlantic Swordfish Quota

    At the 2011 ICCAT meeting, Recommendation 11-02 was adopted, 
maintaining the North Atlantic swordfish total allowable catch (TAC) of 
13,700 metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww) (10,301 mt dressed weight 
(dw)) through 2013. Of this TAC, the United States baseline quota is 
2,937.6 mt dw (3,907.0 mt ww) per year. ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 also 
includes a new 112.8 mt dw annual quota transfer to Morocco and limits 
the underharvest carryover to 25 percent of the baseline quotas. 
Therefore, the United States may carry over a maximum of 734.4 mt dw of 
underharvests from the previous year (2011) to be added to the 2012 
baseline quota. This proposed rule would adjust the U.S. baseline quota 
for the 2012 fishing year to account for the annual quota transfer to 
Morocco and the 2011 underharvest. The 2012 North Atlantic swordfish 
baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw. The preliminary North Atlantic 
swordfish underharvest for 2011 was 2,750.1 mt dw, which exceeds the 
maximum carryover cap of 734.4 mt dw. Therefore, NMFS is proposing to 
carry forward the maximum amount allowed per ICCAT Recommendation 11-
02. The baseline quota reduced by the 112.8 mt dw annual quota transfer 
to Morocco and increased by the underharvest carryover maximum of 734.4 
mt dw equals 3,559.2 mt dw, which is the proposed adjusted quota for 
the 2012 fishing year. From that proposed adjusted quota, the directed 
category would be allocated 3,209.2 mt dw and would be split equally 
into two seasons in 2012 (January through June, and July through 
December). The reserve category would be allocated 50 mt dw for 
inseason adjustments and research, and 300 mt dw would be allocated to 
the incidental category, which includes recreational landings and catch 
by incidental swordfish permit holders for the 2012 fishing season, per 
Sec.  635.27(c)(1)(i)(B) (Table 1). These landings are based on 
preliminary data. As late reports are received and the data undergo 
quality control processes, some data may change. Any changes will be 
described in the final rule, as appropriate.

South Atlantic Swordfish Quota

    ICCAT Recommendation 06-03 established the South Atlantic swordfish 
TAC at 17,000 mt ww for 2007, 2008, and 2009. Of this, the United 
States received 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww). As with the North Atlantic 
swordfish recommendation, ICCAT

[[Page 25672]]

Recommendation 06-03 established a cap on the amount of underharvest 
that can be carried forward. For South Atlantic swordfish, the United 
States is limited to carrying forward 100 percent (75.2 mt dw). The 
most recent South Atlantic swordfish measure, Recommendation 09-03, is 
a 3-year measure that reduced the TAC to 15,000 mt dw but maintains the 
previous years' U.S. quota share of 75.2 mt dw (100 mt ww) and 
underharvest carryover limit through 2012.
    ICCAT Recommendation 09-03 also transfers a total of 75.2 mt dw 
(100 mt ww) of the U.S. South Atlantic swordfish quota to other 
countries. These transfers are 37.6 mt dw (50 mt ww) to Namibia, 18.8 
mt dw (25 mt ww) to Cote d'Ivore, and 18.8 mt dw (25 mt ww) to Belize. 
In 2011, U.S. fishermen did not land any South Atlantic swordfish, 
therefore, 75.2 mt dw of underharvest is available to carry over to 
2012 and can cover the entire 75.2 mt dw of annual international quota 
transfers outlined above. Therefore, the 2012 adjusted quota for South 
Atlantic swordfish is 75.2 mt dw (Table 1).
    Impacts resulting from the 2012 North Atlantic swordfish 
specifications are analyzed in the Environmental Assessment (EA) 
accompanying this rule. The impacts are summarized above in the ICCAT 
North Atlantic Swordfish Quota Implementation section. The impacts 
resulting from the 2012 South Atlantic swordfish specifications were 
analyzed in the EA that was prepared for the 2007 Swordfish Quota 
Specification Final Rule published on October 5, 2007 (72 FR 56929). 
The quota adjustments would not increase overall quotas and are not 
expected to increase fishing effort, protected species interactions, or 
environmental effects beyond those considered in the 2007 EA. 
Therefore, because there would be no changes to the South Atlantic 
swordfish management measures in this proposed rule, or the affected 
environment or any environmental effects that have not been previously 
analyzed, NMFS has determined that the South Atlantic swordfish 
specifications portion of this proposed rule and impacts to the human 
environment as a result of the quota adjustments do not require 
additional NEPA analysis beyond that discussed in the 2007 EA.

         Table 1--2012 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         North Atlantic swordfish quota (mt dw)                2012
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota..........................................         2,937.6
Quota Transfer to Morocco...............................        (-)112.8
Total Underharvest from Previous Year \+\...............         2,750.1
Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year \+\...........           734.4
Adjusted Quota..........................................         3,559.2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quota Allocation..................  Directed Category...         3,209.2
                                    Incidental Category.             300
                                    Reserve Category....              50
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         South Atlantic swordfish quota (mt dw)                2012
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota..........................................            75.2
International Quota Transfers *.........................         (-)75.2
Total Underharvest from Previous Year \+\...............            75.2
Underharvest Carryover from Previous Year \+\...........            75.2
Adjusted quota..........................................            75.2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\+\ Underharvest is capped at 25 percent of the baseline quota
  allocation for the North Atlantic and 75.2 dw (100 mt ww) for the
  South Atlantic.
* Under 09-03, 100 mt ww of the U.S. underharvest and base quota, as
  necessary, was transferred to Namibia (37.6 mt dw, 50 mt ww), Cote
  d'Ivore (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww), and Belize (18.8 mt dw, 25 mt ww).

Public Hearings

    Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov, mail, or fax and comments may also be submitted at 
a public hearing. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule by May 
31, 2012. During the comment period, NMFS will hold 3 public hearings 
and one conference call for this proposed rule. The hearing locations 
will be physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for 
sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed 
to Steve Durkee at 202-670-6637, at least 7 days prior to the meeting.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Location                        Date                    Time                     Address
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Conference call....................  May 22, 2012..........  2:30-5:30 p.m.........  Conference line: 888-957-
                                                                                      9840, Passcode: 3094714.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL.................  May 23, 2012..........  5:00-8:00 p.m.........  Broward County Main
                                                                                      Library, 100 S. Andrews
                                                                                      Avenue, Fort Lauderdale,
                                                                                      FL 33301.
Silver Spring, MD..................  May 25, 2012..........  2:00-5:00 p.m.........  NMFS Science Center, 1301
                                                                                      East-West Highway, Silver
                                                                                      Spring, MD 20910.
Manahawkin, NJ.....................  May 31, 2012..........  5:00-8:00 p.m.........  Stafford Branch Library,
                                                                                      129 N. Main Street,
                                                                                      Manahawkin, NJ 08050.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at the public 
hearings to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of each 
public hearing, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules 
(e.g., alcohol is prohibited from the hearing room; attendees will be 
called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to 
speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; and 
attendees should not interrupt one another). The NMFS representative 
will attempt to structure the meeting so that all attending

[[Page 25673]]

members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, 
regardless of the controversial nature of the subject(s). Attendees are 
expected to respect the ground rules, and, if they do not, they will be 
asked to leave the hearing.

Classification

    Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    NMFS prepared a draft EA for this rule that discusses the impact on 
the environment that would occur as a result of this proposed action. 
In this proposed action, NMFS is considering implementation of ICCAT 
Recommendation 11-02 including quota allocation, international quota 
transfers, and modifications to minimum size requirements per the 
alternative ICCAT minimum size and requests from commercial fishery 
participants. This draft EA also analyzes the impacts of deducting 
fishery independent research landings of swordfish from the reserve 
category quota. A copy of the EA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the RFA (RFA). The IRFA describes the 
economic impact this proposed rule would have on small entities if 
adopted. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and 
the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this 
section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A 
summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available 
from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, the purpose of this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its 
amendments, to implement recommendations of ICCAT pursuant to ATCA and 
to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act.
    In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, the objectives of this proposed rulemaking are to consider changes 
to the HMS regulations at 50 CFR part 635 consistent with ICCAT 
recommendations. In this action, NMFS proposes to adjust the 2012 
Atlantic swordfish quotas and implement ICCAT Recommendation 11-02, 
which includes quota allocation, underharvest carryover provisions, 
international quota transfer requirements, and a new alternative 
minimum size measurement for Atlantic swordfish, consistent with ATCA, 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and other applicable laws. The regulatory 
changes would affect vessels that catch Atlantic swordfish, including 
commercial vessels that deploy PLL gear or hold HMS Angling and 
Charter/Headboat permits. In compliance with ATCA, NMFS is required to 
implement domestic regulations consistent with recommendations adopted 
by ICCAT as may be necessary and appropriate.
    Section 603(b)(3) requires Federal agencies to provide an estimate 
of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. In 
accordance with the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards, 
NMFS used the following thresholds to determine if an entity regulated 
under this action would be considered a small entity: Average annual 
receipts less than $4.0 million for fish-harvesting; average annual 
receipts less than $6.5 million for charter/party boats; 100 or fewer 
employees for wholesale dealers; or 500 or fewer employees for seafood 
processors. Using these thresholds, NMFS determined that all HMS permit 
holders are small entities. Specifically, this proposed action would 
apply to all participants in the Atlantic HMS commercial and 
recreational fisheries that retain Atlantic swordfish. As of October 
2011, 245 vessels held a directed or incidental commercial swordfish 
permit and are reasonably expected to use PLL gear, 78 held a 
commercial handgear permit, 23,138 held an Atlantic HMS Angling permit, 
and 4,194 vessels held an Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit. Vessels 
holding these permits could be affected by this action.
    This proposed rule does not contain any new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements (5 U.S.C. 603 (b)(4)). 
Similarly, this proposed rule would not conflict, duplicate, or overlap 
with other relevant Federal rules (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(5)). Fishermen, 
dealers, and other participants in these fisheries must comply with a 
number of international agreements, domestic laws, and other FMPs. 
These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, 
the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 
the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the 
Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. NMFS does 
not believe that the proposed regulations would duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with any relevant regulations, Federal or otherwise.
    Under section 603(c), agencies are required to describe any 
alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated 
objectives and which minimize any significant economic impacts. These 
impacts are discussed below and in the draft EA for the proposed 
action. Additionally, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 603 (c) 
(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of significant alternatives that 
would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. 
These categories of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, 
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting 
requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of 
performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from 
coverage of the rule for small entities.
    In order to meet the objectives of this proposed rule, consistent 
with Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change 
the reporting requirements only for small entities because all the 
entities affected are considered small entities. Thus, there are no 
alternatives discussed that fall under the first, second, and fourth 
categories described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or 
design standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of 
this rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. Thus, there are no alternatives considered under the third 
category. As described below, NMFS analyzed several different 
alternatives in this proposed rulemaking and provides rationale for 
identifying the preferred alternatives to achieve the desired 
objective.
    NMFS has prepared this IRFA to analyze the impacts on small 
entities of the alternatives for implementing ICCAT Recommendation 11-
02 for all domestic fishing categories that fish for Atlantic 
swordfish. The IRFA assesses the impacts of the various alternatives on 
the vessels that participate in the Atlantic HMS commercial and 
recreational fisheries that retain Atlantic swordfish, all of which are 
considered small entities. Six alternatives were considered and 
analyzed and include: (1) No Action; (2) Implement the 2011 ICCAT North 
Atlantic swordfish Recommendation 11-02, which

[[Page 25674]]

includes an annual quota transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the United States 
to Morocco and an annual underharvest carryover limit of 25 percent of 
the base quota (annual carryover limit of 734.4 mt dw); maintain status 
quo for North Atlantic quotas--Preferred Alternative; (3) Implement the 
alternative swordfish CK minimum size measurement of 25 inches per the 
2011 ICCAT North Atlantic swordfish Recommendation 11-02--Preferred 
Alternative; (4) Use the CK measurement as the sole minimum size and 
discontinue the use of the LJFL minimum length standard in U.S. 
domestic fisheries; (5) Allow the LJFL minimum size to be applied to 
swordfish without a bill, provided the bill has been removed forward of 
the anterior tip of the lower jaw- Preferred Alternative; and (6) 
Reintroduce the 33 pound minimum weight standard.
    Under Alternative 1, NMFS would not implement any of the measures 
contained in the 2011 ICCAT North Atlantic swordfish Recommendation 11-
02, including the quota allocation, underharvest carryover limit, 
international quota transfer, or CK minimum size measurement. 
Alternative 1 would likely have net direct minor adverse socioeconomic 
impacts in the short-term. No impacts would be expected if NMFS does 
not implement the quota portion of ICCAT Recommendation 11-02; however, 
direct, minor, adverse socioeconomic short-term impacts could result if 
NMFS does not implement the alternative CK minimum size. The U.S. quota 
specified in ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 is unchanged from previous 
years; therefore, the base quota would not be affected. The only effect 
of non-action would be that the transferred quota would not be deducted 
from the U.S. base quota. Since the United States has not harvested the 
entire allocated swordfish quota and is unlikely to do so in the short-
term, deducting the transferred quota from the domestic base quota is 
unlikely to result in changes to annual revenue or revenue to 
individual vessels. Similarly, if NMFS does not reduce the annual 
carryover limit from 50 percent to 25 percent, the higher annual 
adjusted quota is unlikely to be utilized and is unlikely to result in 
changes in landings or revenue to individual vessels. However, if NMFS 
does not implement the alternative CK minimum size, there could be 
direct, minor, adverse socioeconomic short-term impacts. The 25-inch CK 
minimum size is equivalent to the existing 47-inch LJFL minimum size. 
Currently, fishermen do not have a minimum size measurement that allows 
for the retention of dressed swordfish that measure at or slightly 
above 47 inches LJFL. If a fisherman catches a swordfish that meets the 
47-inch LJFL minimum size but not the current 29-inch CK minimum size, 
the fisherman must either land the fish with the head naturally 
attached or discard the fish. Due to storage capacity limitations and 
uncertainty in minimum size regulations, fishermen sometimes choose to 
discard fish that legally meet the 47-inch LJFL measurement but do not 
meet the 29-inch CK minimum size. Similarly, dealers sometimes will not 
accept fish that meet the 47-inch LJFL measurement but not the 29-inch 
CK minimum size. These fish are landed with the head naturally 
attached, but once removed, some dealers have expressed concern that 
they may be found out of compliance with minimum size regulations in 
the absence of proof that the fish was landed with the head and met the 
47-inch LJFL measurement. For these reasons, if NMFS does not implement 
the alternative CK minimum size, fishermen would continue to discard 
(and not land) some fish that meet the LJFL minimum size but not the 
current CK minimum size, resulting in direct short-term minor adverse 
socioeconomic impacts. Quantifying the economic impact to individual 
vessels is difficult without estimates of the number of legal fish that 
are discarded; however, fish in this size range are often encountered 
by pelagic longline, handgear, and incidental (including squid trawl) 
swordfish permit holders. These permit holders would likely experience 
minor adverse economic impacts if the CK minimum size was not changed 
to 25 inches.
    In the long-term, Alternative 1 could have net, direct, minor 
beneficial socioeconomic impacts. Due to a variety of swordfish 
revitalization efforts within and outside of the Agency, NMFS expects 
that U.S. fishermen could achieve near 100 percent quota utilization. 
If NMFS does not take action to reduce the base quota due to the annual 
quota transfer to Morocco nor reduce the adjusted quota by limiting 
underharvest carryover, the domestic fishery could land more swordfish 
resulting in higher annual revenues. The United States is allocated 
2,937.6 mt dw of North Atlantic swordfish. If 112.8 mt dw of quota is 
not transferred to Morocco, and if up to 50 percent of the base quota 
can be carried over, the total U.S. adjusted quota could reach 4406.4 
mt dw (9,714,349 lb dw). Assuming an average ex-vessel price of $4.31 
per pound and 100 percent quota utilization, the total possible annual 
gross revenues across the domestic fishery would be estimated to be 
$41,868,844 under Alternative 1. In 2011, there were 178 directed 
swordfish permit holders, 67 incidental swordfish permit holders, and 
78 swordfish handgear permit holders. The Incidental HMS Squid Trawl 
Permit, which allows for limited retention of swordfish caught in the 
Illex squid trawl fishery, became effective toward the end of 2011; 
therefore, NMFS does not yet have a reliable estimate of the number of 
vessels that have or will avail themselves of this permit. Due to quota 
tracking complexities, NMFS does not have a proportional breakdown of 
the total landings by permit type; however, the average annual ex-
vessel revenue across all swordfish permit types is $129,625 per vessel 
($41,868,844/(178 directed swordfish permit holders, 67 incidental 
swordfish permit holders, and 78 swordfish handgear permit holders)). 
Since retention limits are higher for directed permit holders than 
incidental permit holders, actual per vessel revenue would likely be 
higher for directed permit holders and lower for incidental permit 
holders. Handgear permit holders do not have a retention limit; 
however, the gear used by these permit holders is less efficient, 
therefore, actual per vessel revenue is somewhere in between directed 
and incidental permit holders. As in the short-term, fishermen might 
still discard fish that meet the LJFL minimum size but not the current 
minimum size, precluding ex-vessel revenue from these landings; 
however, the larger quota would likely offset this impact. Under ATCA, 
the United States shall promulgate regulations as may be necessary and 
appropriate to implement binding recommendations of ICCAT and because 
this alternative would not implement ICCAT Recommendation 11-02, NMFS 
does not prefer this alternative at this time.
    Alternative 2 would implement the ICCAT Recommendation 11-02 
provisions pertaining to quota allocation, the underharvest carryover 
limit, and the quota transfer to Morocco. Alternative 2 would likely 
have direct neutral socioeconomic impacts in the short-term. As noted 
in the ecological impact discussion for Alternative 1, the United 
States is unlikely to achieve 100 percent quota utilization in the 
short-term. Consequently, minor changes to the base quota through 
international quota transfers or to the adjusted quota through reduced 
underharvest carryover limits are unlikely to impact swordfish fishing 
effort levels or annual revenues. In the long-term, however, 
Alternative 2

[[Page 25675]]

could have direct minor adverse socioeconomic impacts assuming the U.S. 
swordfish fishery nears 100 percent quota utilization. At that time, an 
adjusted quota that reflects the annual international quota transfer to 
Morocco and the lower underharvest carryover limit could lead to a 
lower available quota than the level possible under Alternative 1. This 
lower level of adjusted quota would result in a decrease in the total 
possible fishery-wide annual revenue. If NMFS deducts the 112.8 mt dw 
quota transfer from the U.S. base quota of 2,937.6 mt dw and limits 
underharvest carryover to 25 percent, the total U.S. adjusted quota 
could reach 3,559.2 mt dw (7,846,612 lbs dw). Assuming an average ex-
vessel price of $4.31 per pound and 100 percent quota utilization, 
total possible gross revenues across the domestic fishery would be 
estimated to be $33,818,898 under Alternative 2. Therefore, Alternative 
2 could result in annual gross revenues that are $8,049,946 less 
($41,868,844--$33,818,898) than the possible annual gross revenues 
under Alternative 1. This potential decrease in average annual ex-
vessel revenue across all swordfish permit types is $24,922 per vessel 
($8,049,946/(178 directed swordfish permit holders, 67 incidental 
swordfish permit holders, and 78 swordfish handgear permit holders)). 
Since retention limits are higher for directed permit holders than 
incidental permit holders, actual per vessel revenue loss would likely 
be higher for directed permit holders and lower for incidental permit 
holders. Handgear permit holders do not have a retention limit; 
however, the gear used by these permit holders is less efficient, 
therefore, actual per vessel revenue loss is somewhere in between 
directed and incidental permit holders. The United States, however, is 
required to implement these measures in order to be in compliance with 
ICCAT recommendation 11-02 under ATCA; therefore, NMFS prefers this 
alternative at this time.
    Under Alternative 3, NMFS would implement the swordfish minimum 
size portion of the 2011 ICCAT swordfish Recommendation 11-02, which 
allows a 25-inch CK measurement. This alternative would likely have 
direct, moderate, beneficial socioeconomic impacts in both the short- 
and long-term. The 25-inch CK minimum size is equivalent to the 
existing 47-inch LJFL minimum size. Currently, fishermen do not have a 
minimum size measurement that allows for the retention of dressed 
swordfish that measure at or slightly above 47 inches LJFL. If a 
fisherman catches a swordfish that meets the 47-inch LJFL minimum size 
but not the current 29-inch CK minimum size, the fisherman must either 
land the fish with the head naturally attached or discard the fish. Due 
to storage capacity limitations and uncertainty in minimum size 
regulations, fishermen sometimes choose to discard fish that legally 
meet the 47-inch LJFL measurement but do not meet the 29-inch CK 
minimum size. Similarly, dealers sometimes will not accept fish that 
meet the 47-inch LJFL measurement but not the 29-inch CK minimum size. 
These fish are landed with the head naturally attached, but once 
removed, some dealers have expressed concern that a minimum size 
violation could occur in the absence of proof that the fish was landed 
with the head and met the 47-inch LJFL measurement. For these reasons, 
implementing the ICCAT alternative minimum CK size of 25 inches could 
lead to increased retention of previously discarded legal fish that 
measure at or slightly above 47 inches LJFL, since this CK minimum size 
is equivalent to a greater number of 47-inch LJFL fish. Fish in this 
size range are the most frequently encountered fish; therefore, 
increased landings of fish in this size range are not trivial. The 
increase in retained catch could lead to increased annual revenues for 
both fishermen and dealers, resulting in direct, moderate, beneficial 
socioeconomic impacts in both the short- and long-term. Quantifying the 
economic impact to individual vessels is difficult without estimates on 
the number of legal fish that are discarded; however, fish in this size 
range are often encountered by pelagic longline, handgear, and 
incidental (including squid trawl) swordfish permit holders. These 
permit holders would likely experience minor beneficial economic 
impacts if the CK minimum size is changed to 25 inches. Because this 
alternative provides these benefits to fishermen but does not lead to 
increased mortality of undersized swordfish, NMFS prefers this 
alternative at this time.
    Under Alternative 4, NMFS would use the CK measurement as the sole 
minimum size and discontinue the use of the LJFL minimum size in U.S. 
domestic fisheries. This alternative would be unlikely to have any 
direct socioeconomic impacts in the short- or long-term, provided that 
the new ICCAT alternative CK minimum size of 25 inches is implemented 
under Alternative 4. The current LJFL minimum size of 47 inches and the 
proposed CK minimum size of 25 inches equate to the same size fish in 
the majority of instances. Therefore, the LJFL minimum size could be 
redundant with the CK minimum size. Removal of the LFJL minimum size 
and use of only the CK measurement could simplify enforcement and 
compliance with minimum size requirements. Additionally, since the two 
minimum sizes refer to the same size fish, removal of the LJFL minimum 
size is unlikely to result in increased landings for individual 
vessels. However, removing one of the minimum size measurements could 
reduce flexibility for fishermen in how they choose to measure and land 
swordfish; therefore NMFS does not prefer this alternative at this 
time.
    Under Alternative 5, NMFS would allow the LJFL minimum size to be 
applied to swordfish without a bill, provided the bill has been removed 
forward of the anterior tip of the lower jaw. Adoption of Alternative 5 
would likely result in short- and long-term direct, minor, beneficial 
socioeconomic impacts. Swordfish are currently measured using either 
the lower jaw and fork of the tail (in the case of LJFL) or the 
cleithrum and caudal keel (in the case of CK) as endpoints. Neither of 
these measurement methods require the bill of the swordfish to be 
attached; therefore, the bill is unnecessary in determining if a 
swordfish is of legal size. The bill of a swordfish can complicate 
fishing operations by presenting safety concerns and imposing storage 
capacity costs. If NMFS allows fishermen to continue to employ the LJFL 
measurement in the absence of the bill, commercial vessels could more 
efficiently pack the swordfish catch, leaving more room for additional 
product. This additional product could increase revenues for both 
fishermen and dealers, although quantifying the economic benefits on a 
per-vessel basis is not possible. Because this alternative would 
simplify fishing operations and provide additional economic benefits 
for both fishermen and dealers without affecting compliance of minimum 
size requirements or impacting the sustainability of the stock, NMFS 
prefers Alternative 5 at this time.
    Under Alternative 6, NMFS would reintroduce the 33-pound minimum 
weight standard. This alternative would be unlikely to have any net 
direct socioeconomics in the short- or long-term, provided that the new 
ICCAT alternative CK minimum size of 25 inches is implemented under 
Alternative 4. NMFS employed the 33-pound minimum weight, in 
combination with two minimum lengths, until 2009. At that time, NMFS 
removed the 33-pound minimum weight

[[Page 25676]]

and specified landing condition-specific minimum sizes. The impetus for 
this change was twofold. First, the use of three minimum sizes (weight, 
LJFL, and CK) complicated minimum size enforcement because all three 
measurements had to be taken to prove that a fish was undersized. This 
can require substantial time investments, particularly in cases with 
thousands of pounds of swordfish. Second, neither enforcement agents 
nor fishermen could definitively determine the accurate weight and 
subsequent legality of fish while at sea, presenting both compliance 
and enforcement problems. To address these enforcement and compliance 
complexities, NMFS simplified the swordfish minimum size requirements 
by removing the 33-pound minimum weight and specified landing 
condition-specific minimum lengths. Reintroducing the minimum dressed 
weight could provide some benefits and some disadvantages. The 33-pound 
minimum weight and the proposed 25-inch CK minimum size equate to the 
same size fish in the majority of instances. The primary benefit is 
that fishermen might be able to retain more swordfish because some fish 
meet the minimum weight but not the minimum length. Reintroducing the 
minimum weight could provide the opportunity to retain these fish. 
Disadvantages include those discussed above, including the enforcement 
and compliance difficulties. Since a definitive weight cannot be taken 
at sea, fishermen are unlikely to be able to determine the legality of 
swordfish weighing near 33 pounds. This presents uncertainties and 
compliance difficulties. The possible benefits and possible 
disadvantages, when taken together, result in neutral socioeconomic 
impacts across the fishery and to individual vessels. Additionally, 
since the 33-pound minimum weight and the proposed 25-inch CK minimum 
size equate to the same size fish in the majority of instances, 
reintroducing the minimum weight standard could be unnecessary. Since 
Alternative 7 poses enforcement and compliance concerns, and because 
the socioeconomic impacts may be neutral compared to the beneficial 
socioeconomic impacts under Alternatives 4 and 6, NMFS does not prefer 
this alternative at this time. However, should the enforcement and 
compliance issues be resolved in the future, NMFS may reconsider 
reintroduction of the 33-pound minimum weight standard.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, 
Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: April 26, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

    For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is proposed to 
be amended as follows:

PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

    1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. In Sec.  635.2, revise the definitions for ``LJFL'' and 
``Naturally attached'' to read as follows:


Sec.  635.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    LJFL (lower jaw-fork length) means the straight-line measurement of 
a fish from the anterior tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the caudal 
fin. The measurement is not made along the curve of the body.
* * * * *
    Naturally attached, as it is used to describe shark fins refers to 
shark fins that remain attached to the shark carcass via at least some 
portion of uncut skin. As used to describe the head of a swordfish, 
naturally attached refers to the whole head remaining fully attached to 
the carcass except for the bill, which may be removed provided it has 
been removed forward of the anterior tip of the lower jaw.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  635.20, paragraph (f)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.20  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) If the head of a swordfish is no longer naturally attached, the 
CK measurement is the sole criterion for determining the size of a 
swordfish. No person shall take, retain, possess, or land a dressed 
North or South Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit that 
is not equal to or greater than 25 inches (63 cm) CK length. A 
swordfish that is damaged by shark bites may be retained only if the 
length of the remainder of the carcass is equal to or greater than 25 
inches (63 cm) CK length.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  635.27, paragraphs (c)(1)(i)(A), (c)(1)(i)(D), 
(c)(2)(ii), and (c)(3)(ii) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.27  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) A swordfish from the North Atlantic stock caught prior to the 
directed fishery closure by a vessel for which a directed fishery 
permit, or a handgear permit for swordfish, has been issued or is 
required to be issued is counted against the directed fishery quota. 
The total baseline annual fishery quota, before any adjustments, is 
2,937.6 mt dw for each fishing year. Consistent with applicable ICCAT 
recommendations, a portion of the total baseline annual fishery quota 
may be used for transfers to another ICCAT contracting party. The 
annual directed category quota is calculated by adjusting for over- or 
underharvests, dead discards, any applicable transfers, the incidental 
category quota, the reserve quota and other adjustments as needed, and 
is subdivided into two equal semi-annual: one for January 1 through 
June 30, and the other for July 1 through December 31.
* * * * *
    (D) 50 mt of the annual fishery quota of North Atlantic swordfish 
may be held in reserve for inseason adjustments to fishing categories, 
to compensate for projected or actual overharvest in any category, for 
fishery research, or for other purposes consistent with management 
objectives.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) If NMFS determines that the annual incidental catch quota will 
not be taken before the end of the fishing year, excess quota may be 
allocated to the directed fishery quota or to the reserve, as 
necessary. If NMFS determines that the annual directed catch quota will 
not be taken before the end of the fishing year, some of the excess 
quota may be allocated to the incidental fishery quota or to the 
reserve, as necessary.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) If consistent with applicable ICCAT recommendations, total 
landings above or below the specific North Atlantic or South Atlantic 
swordfish annual quota will be subtracted from, or added to, the 
following year's quota for that area. As necessary to meet management 
objectives, such carryover adjustments may be apportioned to fishing 
categories and/or to the reserve. Carryover adjustments for the North 
Atlantic shall be limited to 25 percent of the baseline quota 
allocation for that year. Carryover adjustments for the

[[Page 25677]]

South Atlantic shall be limited to 100 mt ww (75.2 mt dw) for that 
year. Any adjustments to the 12-month directed fishery quota will be 
apportioned equally between the two semiannual fishing seasons. NMFS 
will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any 
adjustment or apportionment made under this paragraph.
* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2012-10459 Filed 4-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P