[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 147 (Tuesday, July 31, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 45273-45281]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18672]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 120606145-2251-01]
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: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule implements the International Commission for 
the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Commission) Recommendation 11-02, 
which maintains the U.S. North Atlantic swordfish base quota 
allocation, reduces the annual underharvest carryover from 50 to 25 
percent of the base quota, establishes an quota transfer to Morocco for 
2012 and 2013, and includes an alternative swordfish minimum size of 
25-inches cleithrum to caudal keel (CK). This final rule also 
implements Recommendation 09-03 for South Atlantic swordfish. It also 
allows fishermen to remove the bill of the swordfish while still 
meeting the ``head-naturally-attached'' requirement for measuring 
swordfish using the lower jaw fork length minimum size, modifies and 
clarifies regulations regarding swordfish fishery season closures and 
the North Atlantic swordfish quota reserve category, and adjusts the 
North and South Atlantic swordfish quotas for the 2012 fishing year to 
account for 2011 underharvests and landings. This final rule could 
affect commercial and recreational fishermen who are fishing for 
swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf 
of Mexico.

DATES: Effective on August 30, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the supporting documents--including the 2012 
Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review, and Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, the 2007 Environmental Assessment, 
Regulatory Impact Review, Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, 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/.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. North and South Atlantic swordfish 
fisheries are managed under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, its 
amendments, and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 635, 
pursuant to the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and the Atlantic Tunas 
Convention Act (ATCA). Under ATCA, the Secretary shall promulgate such 
regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out Commission 
recommendations.
    In November 2011, the Commission adopted Recommendation 11-02 for 
North Atlantic swordfish. This recommendation was adopted by the 
Commission based on the most recent North Atlantic swordfish stock 
assessment and maintains the U.S. baseline quota of 2,937.6 metric tons 
(mt) dressed weight (dw) for 2012 and 2013. Previous Commission 
recommendations for North Atlantic swordfish 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 
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 CPCs, including the 
United States, allocated a baseline quota greater than 500 mt from 50 
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.
    The proposed rule (77 FR 25669, May 1, 2012) and draft 
environmental assessment contained additional details regarding the 
impacts of the alternatives considered and a brief summary of the 
recent management history. Those details are not repeated here.
    In this final action, NMFS maintains the U.S. base quota of 2,937.6 
mt dw for North Atlantic swordfish, implements the quota transfer of 
112.8 mt dw from the United States to Morocco for 2012, and reduces the 
North Atlantic swordfish underharvest carryover from 50 to 25 percent 
of the base quota pursuant to Recommendation 11-02. For South Atlantic 
swordfish, this action implements Recommendation 09-03, which set the 
2012 U.S. South Atlantic swordfish quota at 100 mt ww (75.2 mt dw), 
limits the U.S. carryforward of underharvest to 75 mt dw, and 
authorizes the transfer of 50 mt ww (37.6 mt dw) to Namibia, 25 mt ww 
(18.8 mt dw) to C[ocirc]te d'Ivore, and 25 mt ww (18.8 mt dw) to 
Belize. In addition, this final action implements a new alternative 25-
inch CK minimum size measurement per Recommendation 11-02 and allows 
the existing 47-inch lower jaw fork length measurement to apply to 
swordfish without a bill, provided the bill has been removed forward of 
the anterior tip of the lower jaw and the head is naturally attached. 
Finally, this final rule will allow NMFS to transfer quota from the 
directed category to the incidental or reserve quota categories and use 
the quota in the reserve category to account for fishery research 
landings. This simplifies the North Atlantic swordfish reserve category 
description and explicitly states the annual reserve category 
allocation to be 50 mt dw. Additionally, the regulatory language is 
modified so that Commission-negotiated quota transfers of North 
Atlantic swordfish will be moved from the U.S. baseline quota rather 
than the reserve category.

[[Page 45274]]

2012 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Specifications

A. North Atlantic Swordfish Quota

    Recommendation 11-02 maintained the North Atlantic swordfish total 
allowable catch of 13,700 mt ww (10,301 mt dw) through 2013. Of this 
total allowable catch, the United States baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt 
dw (3,907.0 mt ww) per year. The recommendation includes a new 112.9 mt 
dw annual quota transfer to Moroco but does not continue the previous 
recommendation's quota transfer of 18.8 mt dw to Canada, and limits the 
underharvest carryover to 25 percent of the U.S. baseline quota. 
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 final rule adjusts 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 2,208.3 mt dw, which exceeds the maximum carryover cap of 
734.4 mt dw. Therefore, NMFS is carrying forward the maximum amount 
allowed per 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 final adjusted quota for the 2012 fishing year. From that 
final adjusted quota, the directed category will be allocated 3,209.2 
mt dw and will be split equally into two seasons in 2012 (January 
through June, and July through December). The U.S. 2012 North Atlantic 
swordfish baseline quota is 2,937.6 mt dw. The baseline quota reduced 
by the 112.8 mt dw 2012 quota transfer to Morocco and increased by the 
allowable underharvest carryover maximum of 734.4 mt dw equals 3,559.2 
mt dw, which is the final adjusted quota for the 2012 fishing year. 
From that final adjusted quota, the directed category will be allocated 
3,209.2 mt dw and will be split equally into two seasons in 2012 
(January through June, and July through December). The reserve category 
will be allocated 50 mt dw for inseason adjustments and fishery 
research, and 300 mt dw will 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).

B. South Atlantic Swordfish Quota

    Recommendation 06-03 established the South Atlantic swordfish total 
allowable catch 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, 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 total allowable catch 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.
    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. 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 final Environmental Assessment 
accompanying this rule. The Environmental Assessment that was prepared 
for the 2007 Swordfish Quota Specifications Final Rule published on 
October 5, 2007 (72 FR 56929) analyzed the impacts resulting from 
Recommendation 06-03 for South Atlantic swordfish.

         Table 1--2012 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              2012
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 North Atlantic Swordfish Quota (mt dw)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baseline Quota.......................................            2,937.6
Quota Transfer to Morocco............................           (-)112.8
Total Underharvest from Previous Year \+\............            2,208.3
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)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 for the South Atlantic
  per Rec. 11-02.
* Under 09-03, 75.2 mt dw of the U.S. underharvest and base quota, as
  necessary, was transferred to Namibia (37.6 mt dw,), Cote d'Ivore
  (18.8 mt dw,), and Belize (18.8 mt dw).

Response to Comments

    During the proposed rule stage, NMFS received 10 comments from non-
governmental organizations, fishermen, dealers, and other interested 
parties. A summary of the major comments received for each proposed 
measure (swordfish quota measures, minimum size measures, and 
miscellaneous

[[Page 45275]]

measures) on the proposed rule during the public comment period is 
shown below with NMFS' responses. All written comments submitted during 
the comment period can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/by 
searching for RIN 0648-BB75.

Swordfish Quota Measures

    Comment 1: NMFS should implement the quota measures in 
Recommendation 11-02 in order to maintain compliance with the 
Commission. No underharvest should be carried over from one year to the 
next. The underharvest carryover limit should not be reduced from 50 
percent to 25 percent of the base quota. NMFS should not transfer quota 
to other countries unless it gets something of value in return.
    Response: NMFS agrees that it should implement the quota measures 
in Recommendation 11-02 in order to be compliant with the Commission's 
recommendations. NMFS does not agree, however, that it should not 
carryover allowable underharvest from one year to the next, where such 
carryover is consistent with Commission recommendations. The 
Commission's recommendations, including the provision to reduce the 
underharvest carryover limit from 50 to 25 percent, for this rebuilt 
stock take into consideration the health and status of the stock. 
Implementing the Commission-recommended U.S. North Atlantic swordfish 
baseline quota as well as the underharvest carry over and quota 
transfer to Morocco are consistent with Recommendation 11-02. Under the 
Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the Secretary shall promulgate such 
regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out the 
Commission's recommendations. The regulations as finalized 
appropriately carry out the Commission's recommendations regarding the 
North Atlantic Swordfish stock, while meeting NMFS's legal obligations 
and management needs. During complex Commission negotiations, the U.S. 
delegation works to ensure that resource allocation, including quota 
transfers, considers domestic interests while ensuring the sustainable 
harvest of species under the Commission purview.

Minimum Size Measures

    Comment 2: The 47 inch lower jaw fork length minimum size, and the 
equivalent dressed swordfish minimum size of 25 inches cleithrum to 
caudal keel, refers to a juvenile swordfish that is too small to be 
harvested.
    Response: The Commission established the 47 inch lower jaw fork 
length minimum size in the 1999 North Atlantic swordfish rebuilding 
plan (Rec 99-02) based on advice from the Standing Committee on 
Research and Statistics (SCRS). Based on the SCRS's most recent stock 
assessment (2009), the 47 inch lower jaw fork length minimum size was 
deemed appropriate because it protected small swordfish from being 
harvested, helping to reduce mortality of immature swordfish. This 
minimum size has contributed to the successful rebuilding of the North 
Atlantic swordfish stock. The proposed alternative 25 inch cleithrum to 
caudal keel minimum length is equivalent to the 47 inch lower jaw fork 
length minimum size, and therefore is as appropriate for a minimum size 
as the current 47 inch lower jaw fork length measurement.
    Comment 3: NMFS should implement the 25 inch cleithrum to caudal 
keel minimum size because the previous 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 
minimum size was inconsistent with the 47 inch lower jaw fork length 
measurement. The current 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size 
required fishermen to sometimes leave the head attached which is 
hazardous, makes the fish difficult to handle, and can lead to 
inconsistent enforcement once the head is removed. NMFS should 
implement the 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel since it will increase 
the number of retained fish without reducing the minimum size.
    Response: NMFS agrees that implementing the 25 inch cleithrum to 
caudal keel alternative minimum size measurement provides numerous 
benefits to fishermen without undermining protection of immature 
swordfish. In addition, NMFS is finalizing a definition of naturally 
attached, as used to describe the head of a swordfish, that allows for 
removal of the bill forward of the anterior tip of the lower jaw. A 
swordfish with its head naturally attached in this manner may be 
measured using the lower jaw fork length measurement to determine 
compliance with minimum size requirements. NMFS believes that these two 
changes should accommodate the operational needs of the U.S. swordfish 
fishery, including safety on board and storage efficiency, while also 
having the ancillary benefit of increased landings.
    Comment 4: NMFS received two comments regarding the minimum weight 
standard. The first commenter stated that NMFS should not reintroduce 
minimum weight because it is too hard for fishermen to obtain an 
accurate weight at sea. Fishermen can only obtain accurate dressed 
weight once the fish is processed, precluding the live release of a 
fish that does not meet the minimum weight. The second commenter stated 
that NMFS should reintroduce the 33 lb minimum weight standard to give 
more flexibility to fishermen. Failure to retain all Commission-defined 
minimum size criterion is inconsistent with Atlantic Tunas Convention 
Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS is exceeding the Commission's 
recommendation by removing the minimum weight standard for United 
States fishermen.
    Response: At this time, NMFS believes that the disadvantages of re-
implementing the 33 pound minimum weight outweigh the benefits. 
Obtaining an accurate dressed weight at sea can be difficult and cannot 
be obtained until the swordfish is fully dressed, thus precluding the 
ability to release an undersized swordfish alive. The minimum weight 
measurement was often used by fishermen when they encountered swordfish 
that were shorter than the 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel measurement 
but potentially heavier than 33 pounds. However, NMFS believes that 
implementation of the 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel measurement 
eliminates the need for the weight measurement as fish meeting the 33 
pound minimum weight would almost certainly measure greater than 25 
inches cleithrum to caudal keel. Furthermore, under the Atlantic Tunas 
Convention Act, the Secretary shall promulgate such regulations as may 
be necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. ICCAT 
Recommendation 11-02 allows for discretion as to which minimum sizes to 
implement in each Party's domestic fisheries and does not require 
implementation of all the different options. Recommendation 11-02 
offers the option for ICCAT Parties to implement a 25 kg live weight or 
in the alternative, a 125 cm lower jaw fork length minimum size with a 
15 percent tolerance for incidentally caught smaller fish. 
Alternatively, ICCAT Parties can implement a15 kg live weight or a 119 
cm lower jaw fork length minimum size but may not avail themselves of 
the 15 percent tolerance for incidentally caught smaller fish. In 
addition, for swordfish that have been dressed, a cleithrum to caudal 
keel measurement of 63 cm can also be applied. NMFS believes that the 
preferred alternatives are fully compliant with Recommendation 11-02.
    Comment 5: NMFS also received two comments regarding maintaining 
the lower jaw fork length minimum size. The first commenter stated that 
NMFS should maintain the lower jaw fork length minimum size because 
failure to

[[Page 45276]]

retain all ICCAT-defined minimum size criterion is inconsistent with 
the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 
second commenter stated that NMFS should remove the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size because it would simplify compliance and 
enforcement with minimal impact on the number of retained swordfish.
    Response: At this time, NMFS prefers to maintain the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size. As described in the comment above, Recommendation 
11-02 provides the flexibility to use different minimum sizes and does 
not require the use of all the minimum sizes. NMFS also notes that 
removal of the lower jaw fork length minimum size could simplify 
compliance and enforcement since only one minimum size measurement 
would be needed rather than multiple landing-condition-specific minimum 
sizes. However, it is possible that removal of the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size could preclude the retention of some fish that meet 
the lower jaw fork length minimum size but not the cleithrum to caudal 
keel minimum size, even with the implementation of the alternative 25 
inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size. In addition, the lower jaw 
fork length measurement is easier for recreational fishermen to obtain 
from a swordfish without removing the fish from the water. Recreational 
fishermen will often bring the swordfish to the side of the vessel and 
use the easier straight-line lower jaw fork length measurement to 
visually determine if the fish meets the lower jaw fork length minimum 
size. If the cleithrum to caudal keel measurement was the only minimum 
size measurement required, this may be more difficult for recreational 
fishermen and may increase swordfish handling time. In the future, if 
commercial and recreational fishermen begin to use only the cleithrum 
to caudal keel minimum size or it is found that that the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size is not needed, NMFS may consider the issue in a 
future rulemaking.
    Comment 6: NMFS should estimate the impact of the 25 inches 
cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size on landings.
    Response: In response to requests from commenters on the proposed 
rulemaking, NMFS analyzed the impact of implementing the 25 inch 
cleithrum to cadual keel minimum size under Alternative 3 in the 
Environmental Assessment. According to this analysis, approximately 
51.4 mt dw (113,316 lbs dw) of swordfish greater than 47 inch lower jaw 
fork length could be landed as a result of the change in minimum size. 
However, this estimate is very rough and relies on a number of caveats 
that are more fully described in the Environmental Assessment. While 
there could be an increase in swordfish landings as a result of 
implementing Alternative 3, the increase in retained fish would come 
almost exclusively from legal fish that were previously discarded and 
not as a result of an increase in fishing effort.
    Comment 7: NMFS should only implement the 25 inch cleithrum to 
caudal keel minimum size in the pelagic longline fishery since 
swordfish in this fishery have high at-vessel mortality. The 25 inch 
cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size should not be implemented in the 
recreational, buoy gear, or commercial handgear fisheries since it will 
result in greater handling time when measuring the fish leading to a 
decrease in live releases. In non-pelagic longline fisheries, the lower 
jaw fork length minimum size should be raised to 52 inches, rather than 
implementing a reduction in the cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size.
    Response: This action strives to simplify swordfish minimum size 
regulations to the extent practicable without disadvantaging fishermen 
or harming the sustainability of the stock. NMFS believes that limiting 
the 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel measurement to the pelagic fishery 
could unnecessarily complicate minimum size regulations and increase 
confusion in compliance and enforcement by requiring different minimum 
size measures across fishing sectors. Also, the swordfish handgear and 
recreational fisheries can continue to use the 47 inch lower jaw fork 
length measurement. Furthermore, there is no indication that the 
current 47 inch lower jaw fork length minimum size, or an equivalent 
dressed swordfish cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size, is of a 
concern in the swordfish fishery. This minimum size has contributed to 
the successful rebuilding of the North Atlantic swordfish stock and 
there is no evidence that this minimum size is inappropriate as 
explained in Comment 2.
    Comment 8: NMFS should not enforce the minimum size past the first 
point of landing. The second or third dealer or restaurant owners 
should not be responsible for minimum size requirements.
    Response: Enforcement of minimum size requirements with respect to 
carcasses that are in the round, measureable form should not have any 
practical effect on the legal supply chain. Swordfish are monitored for 
compliance with minimum size requirements from the time they are landed 
until they are filleted, cut into steaks or processing in any way that 
physically alters the fish so it is not longer in round, measurable 
form. Limiting minimum size enforcement to fishermen and first dealers 
would preclude the ability to investigate violations further along the 
supply chain and limit NOAA's ability to enforce minimum size 
requirements.

Miscellaneous

    Comment 9: Swordfish are experiencing overfishing and NMFS should 
prohibit fishing for the species. Fishermen should be strongly 
encouraged to release any live fish that are close to the minimum size 
and only retain those fish that cannot be returned to the sea alive.
    Response: According to the 2009 swordfish stock assessment, the 
North Atlantic swordfish stock has been fully rebuilt under the 
rebuilding plan developed through the Commission. This minimum size has 
contributed to the successful rebuilding of the North Atlantic 
swordfish stock and there is no evidence that this minimum size is 
inappropriate. An assessment for North Atlantic swordfish is scheduled 
for 2013 and the Commission will take appropriate action based on the 
results of this stock assessment, consistent with recommendations from 
the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics. NMFS strongly 
encourages fishermen to only retain legal-size fish and has developed 
catch and release guideline material to educate and encourage the catch 
and release of saltwater pelagic fish, including swordfish, in order to 
maximize their survival.
    Comment 10: NMFS needs to reconsider the pelagic longline closed 
areas. The 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size led to several 
pelagic longline closed areas, particularly off the coast of Florida. 
This area was closed to pelagic longline fishing primarily based on 
regulatory discards of undersized swordfish using the larger 29 inch 
cleithrum to caudal keel measurement.
    Response: The East Florida Coast pelagic longline closed area was 
implemented in 2001 as part of a group of measures, including other 
time/area closures and live bait restrictions, that were designed, to 
the extent practicable, to reduce bycatch, bycatch mortality, and 
incidental catch of undersized swordfish, billfish, and other 
overfished and protected species caught in the pelagic longline 
fishery. The analyses on which the closed area were based examined 
areas that included a relatively large number of discards of

[[Page 45277]]

swordfish, billfish, bluefin tuna, and pelagic and large coastal sharks 
compared to the landings of target species such as swordfish, tunas, 
mahi, and pelagic and large coastal sharks. The analyses did not rely 
on the 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size; however, to some 
extent the closed area analyses considered dead discards of swordfish 
and many of those discards were likely undersized swordfish. NMFS is 
not aware, at this time, how many of those swordfish dead discards in 
the East Florida Coast area could have met the 25 inch cleithrum to 
caudal keel and how many would need to be discarded dead. As described 
above, NMFS does expect the minimum size change from 29 to 25 inch 
cleithrum to caudal keel to result in a small increase in swordfish 
landings across the entire fishery. However, NMFS does not expect the 
change in swordfish minimum size to impact discards of other species 
that were also considered in the analyses that resulted in the East 
Florida Coast closure. Thus, at this time, NMFS does not feel that the 
change in the cleithrum to caudal keel measurement for the swordfish 
minimum size from 29 to 25 inches while maintaining the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size measurement is justification for reconsidering the 
East Florida Coast or any other pelagic longline closed areas.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    No changes have been made to the proposed rule in this final rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that the final rule is consistent with the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis was prepared. The final 
analysis incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis, a 
summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in 
response to the initial analysis, NMFS' responses to those comments, 
and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action. A 
summary of the final analysis, addressing each of the requirements in 5 
U.S.C. 604(a)(1)-(5) is below. A copy of the full final analysis is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    Section 604(a)(1) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that 
the Agency describe the need for, and objectives of, the final rule. 
The purpose of this rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other 
applicable law, to adjust the 2012 annual North and South Atlantic 
swordfish quotas and implement the management measures contained in 
Recommendation 11-02, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 
Atlantic Tunas Convention Act. Under the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, 
the United States shall promulgate regulations as may be necessary and 
appropriate to implement binding recommendations of the Commission. An 
objective of this action is to adjust the 2012 Atlantic swordfish 
quotas and implement the management measures contained in 
Recommendation 11-02 including underharvest carryover provisions, 
international quota transfer requirements, and a new minimum size 
measurement for Atlantic swordfish, consistent with the Atlantic Tunas 
Convention Act, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and other applicable 
laws.
    Section 604(a)(2) requires a summary of the significant issues 
raised by the public comments in response to the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis and a statement of any changes made in the 
proposed rule as a result of such comments. NMFS received numerous 
comments on the proposed rule during the comment period. A summary of 
these comments and the Agency's responses are included in the 
Environmental Assessment and the final rule. Although NMFS did not 
receive comments specifically on the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis, NMFS received some comments on the economic impacts from the 
reduction in underharvest carryover limit, international quota 
transfer, and implementation of the 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 
minimum size.
    Most commenters supported implementation of the quota measures, 
including the reduction in the underharvest carryover limit and quota 
transfer to Morocco, in order to remain consistent with the 
Commission's Recommendation. However, a few commenters expressed 
concern that these quota measures could economically disadvantage U.S. 
fishermen since they lower the amount of adjusted quota potentially 
available for U.S. harvest of swordfish. NMFS does not believe that 
these concerns warrant a change in preferred alternatives because the 
United States has not harvested the entire allocated quota in a number 
of years and is unlikely to do so in the short-term. Consequently, a 
lower adjusted quota is unlikely to impact U.S. fishermen. Furthermore, 
these measures are necessary to remain compliant with the Commission. 
Under the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the Secretary shall promulgate 
such regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out the 
Commission's recommendations.
    Comments regarding the change in the cleithrum to caudal keel 
minimum size were almost universally supportive. The 25 inch cleithrum 
to caudal keel minimum size has many advantages such as increased 
safety at sea and simpler enforcement and compliance. Additionally, 
commenters noted that the new cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size 
would have positive economic impacts as well. Storage efficiency would 
increase allowing fishermen to retain more swordfish, and since the 25 
inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size provides an equivalent 
dressed measurement to 47 inch lower jaw fork length fish, would reduce 
discards. Detailed discussion of these benefits is available in Section 
4.0 of the Final Environmental Assessment.
    Under Section 604(a)(3), Federal agencies must provide an estimate 
of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The 
Small Business Administration (SBA) standards for a ``small'' versus 
``large'' business entity are entities that have 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. This action would apply to all participants in the Atlantic 
HMS commercial and recreational fisheries that retain Atlantic 
swordfish. NMFS considers all these participants to be small entities. 
As of October 2011, 245 vessels held a directed or incidental 
commercial swordfish permit and are reasonably expected to use pelagic 
longline gear although they could also use handgear. Also, as of 
October 2011, 78 vessels held a commercial handgear permit, 23,138 held 
an Atlantic HMS Angling permit, and 4,194 vessels held an Atlantic HMS 
Charter/Headboat permit. 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. NMFS has 
preliminary estimates on the number of vessels that may have acquired 
this permit based on the number of existing Illex squid trawl 
moratorium permit holders. As of August 10, 2010, there were a total of 
76 Illex squid moratorium permit holders that may have or will avail 
themselves of this permit (76 FR49368).

[[Page 45278]]

    Under Section 604(a)(4), Federal agencies must provide a 
description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other 
compliance requirements of the rule. The action does not contain any 
new collection of information, reporting, recordkeeping, or other 
compliance requirements.
    Under section 604(a)(5), agencies are required to describe any 
alternatives to the rule which accomplish the stated objectives and 
which minimize any significant economic impacts. These impacts are 
discussed below. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603 (c)(1)-(4)) lists 
four general categories of ``significant'' alternatives that will 
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 rule, consistent with 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and Atlantic Tunas Convention 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 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 and Atlantic Tunas Convention Act. Thus, there are 
no alternatives considered under the third category. As described 
below, NMFS analyzed several different alternatives in this rulemaking 
that fall under the second category above and provides rationale for 
identifying the preferred alternative to achieve the desired objective.
    NMFS considered and analyzed the following six alternatives: (1) No 
Action; (2) Implement Recommendation 11-02, which includes a quota 
transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the United States to Morocco in 2012 and 
2013 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 cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size measurement 
of 25 inches per Recommendation 11-02--Preferred Alternative; (4) Use 
the cleithrum to caudal keel measurement as the sole minimum size and 
discontinue the use of the lower jaw fork length minimum length 
standard in U.S. domestic fisheries; (5) Allow the lower jaw fork 
length 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 Recommendation 11-02, including the quota allocation, 
underharvest carryover limit, international quota transfer, or 
cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size measurement. Fishermen and 
dealers would be unlikely to notice any direct economic impacts in the 
short term if NMFS does not implement the quota portion of 
Recommendation 11-02, however, they might notice short-term negative 
impacts if NMFS does not implement the alternative cleithrum to caudal 
keel minimum size. The U.S. quota specified in 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 cleithrum to caudal 
keel minimum size, there could be minor adverse economic short-term 
impacts. The 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size is 
equivalent to the existing 47 inch lower jaw fork length 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 lower jaw fork length. If a fisherman catches a 
swordfish that meets the 47 inch lower jaw fork length minimum size but 
not the current 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 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 lower jaw fork length measurement but do 
not meet the 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size. Similarly, 
dealers sometimes will not accept fish that meet the 47 inch lower jaw 
fork length measurement but not the 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 
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 lower jaw fork length 
measurement. For these reasons, if NMFS does not implement the 
alternative cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size, fishermen would 
continue to discard and not land some fish that meet the lower jaw fork 
length minimum size but not the current cleithrum to caudal keel 
minimum size, resulting in direct short-term minor adverse economic 
impacts. An analysis of the possible impact to swordfish landings 
resulting from the implementation of the new 25 inch cleithrum to 
caudaul keel minimum size measurement indicated a possible increase in 
swordfish landings of 51.4 mt dw (113,316 lbs dw) (Section 4.1). 
Therefore, if NMFS does not implement the alternative cleithrum to 
caudal keel minimum size measurement, this would result in forgone 
revenue totaling $1,547 ($499,724 divided by 178 directed swordfish 
permit holders, 67 incidental swordfish permit holders and 78 swordfish 
handgear permit holders) per vessel annually. As such, these permit 
holders would likely experience minor adverse economic impacts if the 
cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size was not changed to 25 inches. 
Because the United States has an obligation to implement the 
Commission's recommendations under Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, NMFS 
does not prefer this alternative at this time.
    Alternative 2, the preferred alternative, would implement the 
Commission's Recommendation 11-02 provisions pertaining to quota 
allocation, the underharvest carryover limit, and the quota transfer to 
Morocco. Alternative 2 would likely have neutral economic impacts to 
small entities in the short-term. As noted in the 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

[[Page 45279]]

transfers or to the adjusted quota through reduced underharvest 
carryover limits are unlikely to impact swordfish fishing effort levels 
or annual revenues. However, Alternative 2 could have minor adverse 
economic impacts if 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 $4.41 per pound (NMFS 2011) and 
100 percent quota utilization, total possible gross revenues across the 
domestic fishery would be estimated to be $34,603,559 under Alternative 
2. Therefore, Alternative 2 could result in annual gross revenues that 
are $8,236,720 less ($42,840,279-$34,603,559) than the possible annual 
gross revenues under Alternative 1. This potential decrease in average 
annual ex-vessel revenue across all swordfish permit types is $25,501 
per vessel ($8,236,720/(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 the Commission's recommendation 11-02 under the 
Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, therefore, we prefer this alternative at 
this time.
    Under Alternative 3, the preferred alternative, NMFS would 
implement the swordfish minimum size portion of Recommendation 11-02 
which allows a 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel measurement. This 
alternative would likely have moderate beneficial economic impacts in 
both the short- and long-term. The 25 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 
minimum size is equivalent to the existing 47 inch lower jaw fork 
length 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 lower jaw fork length. If a 
fisherman catches a swordfish that meets the 47 inch lower jaw fork 
length minimum size but not the current 29 inch cleithrum to caudal 
keel 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 lower 
jaw fork length measurement but do not meet the 29 inch cleithrum to 
caudal keel minimum size. Similarly, dealers sometimes will not accept 
fish that meet the 47 inch lower jaw fork length measurement but not 
the 29 inch cleithrum to caudal keel 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 lower jaw fork length measurement. For these reasons, implementing 
the Commission's alternative minimum cleithrum to caudal keel size of 
25 inches could lead to increased retention of previously discarded 
legal fish that measure at or slightly above 47 inches lower jaw fork 
length, since this cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size is equivalent 
to a greater number of 47 inch lower jaw fork length fish. Fish in this 
size range are the most frequently encountered fish; note that the 
figures provide lengths in centimeters, 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 economic impacts in 
both the short and long-term. NMFS estimated this additional revenue to 
be $1,547 per swordfish permit holder annually under this alternative. 
These permit holders would likely experience minor beneficial economic 
impacts if the cleithrum to caudal keel 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 cleithrum to caudal keel 
measurement as the sole minimum size and discontinue the use of the 
lower jaw fork length minimum size in U.S. domestic fisheries. This 
alternative would be unlikely to have any direct socioeconomics in the 
short or long-term, provided that the new Commission's alternative 
cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size of 25 inches is implemented under 
Alternative 4. The current lower jaw fork length minimum size of 47 
inches and the proposed cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size of 25 
inches equate to the same size fish in the majority of instances. 
Therefore, the lower jaw fork length minimum size could be redundant 
with the cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size. Removal of the lower 
jaw fork length minimum size and use of only the cleithrum to caudal 
keel 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 lower jaw fork length 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, the preferred alternative, NMFS would allow 
the lower jaw fork length 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 minor beneficial economic impacts. 
Swordfish are currently measured using either the lower jaw and fork of 
the tail (in the case of lower jaw fork length) or the cleithrum and 
caudal keel (in the case of cleithrum to caudal keel) 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 
lower jaw fork length 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. NMFS 
prefers Alternative 5 at this time.
    Under Alternative 6, NMFS would reintroduce the 33 pound minimum

[[Page 45280]]

weight standard. This alternative would be unlikely to have any net 
economic impacts in the short or long-term, provided that the new 
Commission's alternative cleithrum to caudal keel minimum size of 25 
inches is implemented under Alternative 4. As discussed in the 
Environmental Assessment, NMFS employed the 33 pound minimum weight, in 
combination with two minimum lengths, until 2009. At that time, we 
removed the 33 pound minimum weight and specified landing condition-
specific minimum sizes. The impetus for this change was twofold. First, 
the use of three minimum sizes (weight, lower jaw fork length, and 
cleithrum to caudal keel) complicated minimum size enforcement because 
all three measurements had to be taken to prove that a fish was 
undersized. This can require heavy 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 
cleithrum to caudal keel 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, as demonstrated in 
the Environmental Assessment. 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 economic impacts across the fishery and to individual vessels. 
Additionally, since the 33 pound minimum weight and the proposed 25 
inch cleithrum to caudal keel 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 economic impacts may be neutral 
compared to the beneficial economic 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.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small 
entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such 
publications as ``small entity compliance guides.'' The agency shall 
explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a 
rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a small 
entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of this final rule and 
compliance guide are available upon request from NMFS or on the Web 
page (see ADDRESSES).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

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

    Dated: July 25, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

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

PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

0
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.


0
2. In Sec.  635.2, the ``LJFL'' and ``Naturally attached'' definitions 
are revised 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.
* * * * *


0
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.
* * * * *

0
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.
* * * * *

[[Page 45281]]

    (D) Fifty (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 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. 2012-18672 Filed 7-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P