[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 123 (Tuesday, June 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38011-38012]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15575]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 110210132-1275-02]
RIN 0648-XC055


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries

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

[[Page 38012]]


ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS closes the incidental Longline category northern area 
fishery for large medium and giant Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) for the 
remainder of 2012. Fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT 
in the Longline category northern area is prohibited for the remainder 
of 2012. The Longline fishery in the Northeast Distant gear restricted 
area (NED) remains open at this time. This action is being taken to 
prevent overharvest of the Longline category northern area BFT 
subquota.

DATES: Effective 11:30 p.m., local time, June 30, 2012, through 
December 31, 2012.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27(a) subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended 
by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, consistent with 
the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 
58058, October 2, 2006) and subsequent rulemaking.
    Under Sec.  635.27(a)(3), the total amount of large medium and 
giant BFT (measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length (CFL) or 
greater) that may be caught incidentally and retained, possessed, or 
landed by vessels that possess Longline category Atlantic Tunas permits 
is 8.1 percent of the baseline annual U.S. BFT quota. NMFS may allocate 
no more than 60 percent of the Longline category incidental BFT quota 
may be allocated for landing in the area south of 31[deg]00' N. lat. 
(i.e., the ``southern area''), with the remainder allocated for landing 
in the area north of 31[deg]00' N. lat. (i.e., the ``northern area''). 
The current Longline category baseline BFT quota is 74.8 mt, with 29.9 
mt allocated to the northern area.
    In addition to the Longline category quota of 74.8 mt, 25 mt are 
allocated, consistent with ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 (Supplemental 
Recommendation by ICCAT concerning the Western BFT Rebuilding Program), 
for incidental catch of BFT by pelagic longline vessels fishing in the 
NED, an area far offshore the northeastern United States. The NED is 
the Atlantic Ocean area bounded by straight lines connecting the 
following coordinates in the order stated: 35[deg]00' N. lat., 
60[deg]00' W. long.; 55[deg]00' N. lat., 60[deg]00' W. long.; 
55[deg]00' N. lat., 20[deg]00' W. long.; 35[deg]00' N. lat., 20[deg]00' 
W. long.; 35[deg]00' N. lat., 60[deg]00' W. long. This action is taken 
consistent with the regulations at Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(3) and 
635.28(a)(1). NMFS accounts for landings under the 25-mt NED allocation 
separately from other Longline category landings.
    NMFS is required, under Sec.  635.28(a)(1), to file a closure 
notice with the Office of the Federal Register for publication when a 
BFT quota is reached or is projected to be reached. On and after the 
effective date and time of such notification, for the remainder of the 
fishing year, or for a specified period as indicated in the 
notification, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under 
that quota category is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent 
quota period or until such date as specified in the notice. Earlier 
this year, NMFS announced a closure of the Longline category southern 
area BFT fishery, effective May 29, 2012 (77 FR 31546, May 29, 2012).
    Based on the best available landings information for the incidental 
Longline category northern area BFT fishery (i.e., 23.7 mt of the 
available 29.9 mt landed as of June 14, 2012), NMFS projects that the 
Longline category northern area BFT subquota will be reached by the end 
of June 2012. Given the extended duration of longline fishing trips in 
the northern area, NMFS has determined that a closure of the Longline 
category northern area bluefin tuna fishery is warranted at this time. 
Therefore, through December 31, 2012, fishing for, retaining, 
possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT north of 31[deg]00' N. 
lat., other than BFT caught inside the NED, by vessels permitted in the 
Atlantic tunas Longline category must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on 
June 30, 2012. The Longline fishery in the NED remains open at this 
time. The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the 
Longline category northern area BFT subquota.
    NMFS will continue to monitor incidental Longline category BFT 
landings from the NED against the 25 mt allocated for that area and may 
take further action, if necessary. Any subsequent adjustments to the 
Longline category fishery for 2012 would be published in the Federal 
Register. In addition, fishermen may call (978) 281-9260, or access 
www.hmspermits.gov, for fishery updates.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The closure of the Longline category northern area BFT fishery, 
i.e., prohibiting further BFT landings against the Longline category 
northern area subquota is necessary to prevent overharvest of the 
Longline northern area BFT subquota. NMFS provides notification of 
closures by publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing 
individuals who have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic 
newsletter, and updating the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas 
Information Line and on www.hmspermits.gov.
    These fisheries are currently underway, and delaying this action 
would be contrary to the public interest as it could result in 
excessive BFT landings, which could have adverse effects on the stock 
and/or may result in future potential quota reductions for the Longline 
category. NMFS must close the Longline category northern area fishery 
to landings before large medium and giant BFT exceed the available 
subquota for that area. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 
U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(3) and 
635.28(a)(1), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: June 20, 2012.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-15575 Filed 6-21-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P