[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 103 (Tuesday, May 29, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31562-31563]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-12976]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

RIN 0648-BB29


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management 
Measures

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

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; 
request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering the 
inclusion of Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks in an amendment to the 2006 
Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan that is 
currently under development. This amendment process began in October 
2011 to address the results of recent stock assessments for scalloped 
hammerhead, dusky, sandbar, and blacknose sharks. A new stock 
assessment is ongoing for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, and is 
expected to be complete and available before the amendment process is 
completed. Therefore, we are considering including Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks in the amendment to ensure any changes in the shark 
fisheries as a result of recent stock assessments are considered at the 
same time for public clarity and for administrative efficiency.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time, on 
June 21, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2011-0229, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the eRulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0229 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 Peter Cooper, 1315 East-
West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the 
envelope ``Comments on including Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks in 
Amendment 5 to the Consolidated HMS FMP.''
     Fax: (301) 713-1917. Attn: Peter Cooper.
    Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure 
that the comments are received, documented, and considered by the 
National Marine Fisheries Service. 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. We 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Peter Cooper 
at (301) 427-8503, or online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or 
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/Index.jsp.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act. The 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery 
Management Plan is implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635.
    The National Marine Fisheries Service published a notice of intent 
to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement as required by the 
National Environmental Policy Act to amend the fishery management plan 
on October 7, 2011(76 FR 62331). This amendment is designed to rebuild 
and/or end overfishing on several shark stocks that were determined to 
be overfished and/or have overfishing occurring. We anticipate 
completing this amendment and any related documents in April 2013.
    In December 2011, the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review 29 
stock assessment process for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks began. This 
process has included, among other things, a data and assessment 
workshop along with two assessment webinars that have been open to the 
public to attend. A third assessment webinar is expected in late May. 
According to the schedule of events for the assessment, the assessment 
should be completed in August 2012.

[[Page 31563]]

    Therefore, we are expecting the final assessment results in early 
Fall 2012. Because final results of the assessment would be available 
in the Fall before the amendment is finalized in April 2013, we are 
considering adding Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks to the amendment. We 
believe that this addition would facilitate administrative efficiency 
by optimizing our resources, and would allow us to address new 
scientific information in the most timely manner. This addition would 
also provide better clarity to and understanding by the public 
regarding any possible impacts of the rulemaking on shark fisheries by 
combining potential management measures resulting from recent shark 
stock assessments into one rulemaking.
    Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks are currently managed within the 
non-sandbar large coastal shark (LCS) complex and are caught in 
recreational and commercial fisheries targeting sharks. Commercial 
regulations for blacktip sharks include, but are not limited to, a trip 
limit of 33 non-sandbar LCS for directed shark permit holders and a 
trip limit of 3 non-sandbar LCS for incidental shark permit holders. 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks are part of the non-sandbar LCS annual 
Gulf of Mexico quota of 390.5 mt dw, which is adjusted each year for 
any overharvest from past fishing years. Recreational regulations for 
blacktip sharks include, but are not limited to, retention limit of 1 
shark per vessel per trip with a 4.5-ft (54-in) fork length minimum 
size.
    We may consider adjusting or implementing management measures for 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks in this amendment based on the results 
of the current stock assessment. These measures for Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks could include, but are not limited to, implementing a 
specific commercial quota outside of the non-sandbar LCS quota, 
modifying commercial trip limits, and adjusting recreational retention 
limits.
    We request comments regarding the addition of Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks to the amendment. These comments will help determine if 
we should move forward with adding Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks to 
the amendment.

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

    Dated: May 22, 2012.
Carrie Selberg,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-12976 Filed 5-25-12; 8:45 am]
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