[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 197 (Thursday, October 11, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61727-61728]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25009]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

RIN 0648-BA64


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Vessel Monitoring Systems

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

ACTION: Notice of effective date for VMS requirements in Atlantic HMS 
fisheries.

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

SUMMARY: As of January 1, 2013, all vessels participating in Atlantic 
HMS fisheries that are subject to VMS requirements, including vessels 
with pelagic longline gear on board, vessels with bottom longline gear 
on board in the vicinity of the mid-Atlantic closed area (between 
33[deg] N and 36[deg]30[min] N) from January 1 to July 31, and vessels 
with shark gillnet gear on board fishing between November 15 and April 
15, must have an Enhanced Mobile Transmitting Unit (E-MTU) installed by 
a qualified marine electrician and must provide hail in/hail out 
declarations specifying target species, gear possessed onboard, and 
location and timing of landing. These requirements were originally 
effective March 1, 2011, consistent with a December 2, 2011 final rule. 
On February 29, 2012, NMFS provided notice that HMS vessels could use 
either old MTUs or new E-MTUs without providing hail in/hail out 
declarations specifying target species, gear possessed onboard, and 
location and timing of landing. However, no new installations of MTUs 
were permitted, all installations of E-MTUs were required to be done by 
a qualified marine electrician, and vessels were to provide hourly 
position reports using VMS units starting two hours prior to leaving 
port and at all times away from port.

DATES: As of January 1, 2013, all vessels participating in Atlantic HMS 
fisheries that are subject to VMS requirements, including vessels with 
pelagic longline gear on board, vessels with bottom longline gear on 
board in the vicinity of the mid-Atlantic closed area (between 33[deg] 
N and 36[deg]30' N) from January 1 to July 31, and vessels with shark 
gillnet

[[Page 61728]]

gear on board fishing between November 15 and April 15, must have an E-
MTU VMS unit installed by a qualified marine electrician and must 
provide hail in/hail out declarations specifying target species, gear 
possessed onboard, and location and timing of landing.

ADDRESSES: Supporting documents associated with the December 2, 2011 
final rule, including the Regulatory Impact Review, Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (RIR/FRFA), and compliance guides completed in 
conjunction with the December 2, 2011, final rule are available from 
Michael Clark, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, 
Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910. These documents and others, such as the 
Fishery Management Plans described below, also may be downloaded from 
the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. A list of E-MTU VMS 
units that are currently type-approved for use in Atlantic HMS 
fisheries is available on the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement Web site 
at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/docs/2012/noaa_fisheries_service_type.pdf. Copies of this list and other information may be obtained by 
contacting the VMS Support Center at (phone) 888-219-9228, (fax) 301-
427-0049, ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov, or write to NOAA Fisheries Office for 
Law Enforcement (OLE), VMS Support Center, 8484 Georgia Avenue, Suite 
415, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on this notice and 
regulations for Atlantic HMS fisheries, contact Michael Clark (phone: 
301-427-8503, fax: 301-713-1917). For questions regarding the status of 
VMS provider evaluations, contact Kelly Spalding, VMS Management 
Analyst, phone 301-427-2300; fax 301-427-0049. For questions regarding 
Atlantic HMS fisheries VMS requirements, contact Pat O'Shaughnessy, 
Southeast Division VMS Program Manager, at phone 727-824-5358; fax 727-
824-5318.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 2, 2011, NMFS published a final 
rule (76 FR 75492) and type approval notice (76 FR 75523) updating VMS 
requirements in Atlantic HMS fisheries. The final rule required that as 
of March 1, 2012 all HMS vessels subject to VMS requirements have a 
type-approved E-MTU VMS unit capable of two-way communication and 
installed by a qualified marine electrician install. Further, the final 
rule required vessels to declare target species, fishing gear 
possessed, and location/timing of landing using the E-MTU VMS unit and 
to provide hourly position reports using VMS units starting two hours 
prior to leaving port and at all times away from port, effective March 
1, 2012.
    In late February 2012, we became aware of issues that would affect 
the ability of fishermen to obtain the required units and to comply 
with the December 2011 rule. Due to these unforeseen circumstances that 
would have limited some vessel operators' ability to comply fully with 
the E-MTU VMS requirements, NMFS notified provided notice on February 
29, 2012, that HMS vessels could use either old MTUs or new E-MTUs and 
were not required to provide hail in/hail out declarations specifying 
target species, gear possessed onboard, and location and timing of 
landing. However, no new installation of MTUs were permitted, any 
installations of E-MTUs were required to be done by a qualified marine 
electrician, and vessels were required to provide hourly position 
reports using VMS units starting two hours prior to leaving port and at 
all times away from port.
    The issues that would have prevented some vessels from fully 
complying with the requirements have now been resolved and NMFS is 
announcing that MTU VMS units will no longer be allowed after December 
31, 2012.
    On any fishing trip beginning on or after January 1, 2013, HMS 
vessels subject to VMS requirements must have an E-MTU that was 
installed by a qualified marine electrician and must provide hail in/
hail out declarations specifying target species, gear possessed 
onboard, and location and timing of landing, as specified in the 
December 2011 final rule. This Notice should allow sufficient time for 
all HMS vessel owners who have not already replaced their MTU with an 
E-MTU to do so prior to January 1, 2013.

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

    Dated: October 5, 2012.
Emily H. Menashes,
Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-25009 Filed 10-10-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P