[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 227 (Monday, November 26, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70551-70582]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28056]



[[Page 70551]]

Vol. 77

Monday,

No. 227

November 26, 2012

Part II





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Part 635





Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management Measures; Proposed 
Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 227 / Monday, November 26, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 70552]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 110831548-2430-01]
RIN 0648-BB29


Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is amending the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan based on several shark stock 
assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. The assessments for 
Atlantic blacknose, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead sharks indicated 
that these species are overfished and experiencing overfishing. The 
assessment for sandbar sharks indicated that this species is 
overfished, but not experiencing overfishing. The assessment for Gulf 
of Mexico blacktip sharks, adopted in this rulemaking, indicated that 
the stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. The 
assessment for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks was not accepted; 
therefore, the overfished and overfishing statuses have been determined 
to be unknown. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Reauthorization Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires the Agency to 
implement management measures that prevent overfishing and rebuild 
overfished stocks, as necessary. Based on the new stock assessments, 
and after considering public comments received during scoping and on a 
predraft document, we are proposing measures that would reduce fishing 
mortality and effort in order to rebuild overfished Atlantic shark 
species while ensuring that a limited sustainable shark fishery can be 
maintained consistent with our legal obligations. The proposed measures 
include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation 
of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area 
closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and 
the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of 
sharks. The proposed measures could affect U.S. commercial or 
recreational fishermen who harvest sharks within the Atlantic Ocean, 
including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

DATES: Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2013. NMFS 
will announce the dates and locations of public hearings in a future 
Federal Register notice.

ADDRESSES: NMFS will announce the dates and locations of public 
hearings in a future Federal Register notice.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2012-0161, 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-2012-0161 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.
     Fax: 301-713-1917; Attn: Peter Cooper
    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.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to the Highly Migratory Species 
Management Division of the Office of Sustainable Fisheries and by email 
to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Cooper, Gu[yacute] DuBeck, 
Michael Clark, or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic tunas and swordfish are managed 
under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tuna 
Conventions Act (ATCA), which authorizes the Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary) to promulgate regulations as may be necessary and 
appropriate to implement recommendations of the International 
Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Federal 
Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. 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 May 28, 1999, 
NMFS published in the Federal Register (64 FR 29090) final regulations, 
effective July 1, 1999, implementing the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP). 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) FMP, which details the 
management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries, including the Atlantic 
shark fisheries.

Background

    A brief summary of the background of this proposed action is 
provided below. Additional information regarding Atlantic HMS 
management can be found in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for 
Amendment 5, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the 
annual HMS Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reports, and online 
at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.
    On April 28, 2011, we made the determination that scalloped 
hammerhead sharks were overfished and experiencing overfishing (76 FR 
23794). On October 7, 2011, we published a notice announcing our intent 
to prepare a proposal for Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
with an Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (76 FR 62331) 
based on several assessments and determinations. In that notice, we 
made stock status determinations based on the results of the Southeast 
Data, Assessment, and Review 21 process. Determinations in the October 
2011

[[Page 70553]]

notice included that sandbar sharks are still overfished, but no longer 
experiencing overfishing, and that dusky sharks are still overfished 
and still experiencing overfishing (i.e., their stock status has not 
changed). The October 2011 notice also acknowledged recent available 
scientific information indicating that there are two stocks of 
blacknose sharks, the Atlantic blacknose shark and the Gulf of Mexico 
blacknose shark, and that the Atlantic blacknose shark stock is 
overfished and experiencing overfishing, and the Gulf of Mexico 
blacknose shark stock status is unknown.
    In that notice, as part of a scoping process for Amendment 5, we 
asked for comments on existing commercial and recreational shark 
management measures that would assist us in determining options for 
conservation and management of scalloped hammerhead, sandbar, dusky, 
and blacknose sharks consistent with relevant Federal statutes. We held 
six scoping meetings from October through December 2011 and released a 
scoping presentation in conjunction with the Federal Register notice. 
In the presentation and at the scoping meetings, we described results 
of stock assessments and potential options for management of scalloped 
hammerhead, sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks to reach rebuilding 
goals.
    We released a predraft of Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP, which summarized and incorporated comments received during 
scoping, to the HMS Advisory Panel on March 14, 2012, and made it 
available to the public on the Internet for broader public comment. The 
predraft included, among other things, the outcome of stock assessments 
for sandbar, dusky, scalloped hammerhead, Atlantic blacknose, and Gulf 
of Mexico blacknose sharks as well as potential management measures for 
these species/stocks. We requested that the HMS Advisory Panel and 
Consulting Parties (Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean Fishery Management 
Councils, Marine Fisheries Commissions, U.S. Coast Guard, and other 
State and Federal Agency representatives) submit comments on the 
predraft by April 13, 2012. The predraft was published online and 
public comments were collected.
    We published a Federal Register notice on May 29, 2012 (77 FR 
31562) notifying the public that we were considering the addition of 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks to Amendment 5. This addition was 
proposed because Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks were undergoing a stock 
assessment as part of the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 29 
process, and that process would be completed before this amendment was 
finalized. Therefore, we believed that the addition of Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks to this amendment would facilitate administrative 
efficiency by optimizing our resources, and would allow us to address 
new scientific information in the timeliest manner. We also expected 
that this addition would 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. Public comments on 
this addition to Amendment 5 were accepted until June 21, 2012. We 
received two comments on the notice, one supporting the addition of 
blacktip sharks, the other opposing the addition. The commenter who 
opposed the addition felt that more time was needed in the predraft 
scoping period to provide comment on any particular proposals regarding 
blacktip shark management. While it is preferable to have a pre-draft, 
it is not a legal requirement and we believe that ample opportunity 
will be presented through the rulemaking process for public input and 
comment. The commenter who supported the addition felt that this was 
the most responsive and timely way to address the stock assessment.
    The Final Stock Assessment Report for Gulf of Mexico Blacktip 
Sharks was completed in June 2012, and the peer review was completed in 
July 2012. The assessment was conducted through the Southeast Data, 
Assessment, and Review process and the peer review was conducted by two 
scientists under the Center for Independent Experts. Both peer 
reviewers raised questions about the assessment. One reviewer accepted 
the model and its results. The other peer reviewer supported the 
assessment's conclusion that the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark stock is 
not overfished, but concluded that the status regarding overfishing is 
uncertain. The Southeast Fisheries Science Center addressed the 
questions from the peer reviewers in a post peer-review ``updates and 
projections'' document written by stock assessment scientists, who were 
the lead scientists during the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 
29 process. The scientists concluded that the reviewer's conclusion on 
the overfishing status was based on the reviewer's interpretation that 
the model configuration was not appropriate for the stock. 
Specifically, the peer reviewer did not think that reasonable variation 
in recruitment was incorporated into the model and was not confident 
about the conclusion of ``no overfishing'' reached in the assessment 
because three of the indices had declined in the last five years and 
because maximum sustainable yield fishing mortality (FMSY) 
was low. The peer reviewer stated that a model with reasonable 
variation in recruitment could indicate a current fishing mortality 
more similar to FMSY and thus show the stock approaching an 
overfishing condition. The stock assessment scientists showed in the 
post-review updates and projections document that process error in 
recruitment was fully considered and that recruitment in the model was 
reasonable. They also showed that the low value of FMSY is 
consistent with what is expected from the biology of sharks, and that 
of the three indices mentioned by the reviewer that showed a decline, 
two show an increase in the terminal year of 2010. Therefore, the stock 
assessment scientists concluded that the stock assessment result of no 
overfishing is warranted. As such, in this proposed rule, we accept the 
results of the stock assessment as final and declare the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark stock to be not overfished with no overfishing 
occurring.
    Results of the stock assessment show that Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
sharks are not overfished (SSF2009/SSFMSY = 2.50-
2.78) and are not experiencing overfishing (F2009/
FMSY = 0.03-0.106). Because the stock is healthy, 
projections and the calculations needed to determine the acceptable 
biological catch were not considered part of the statement of work for 
the stock assessment and therefore were not conducted during the stock 
assessment itself (for an overfished stock, these calculations would 
have been done before completion of the stock assessment). Rather, the 
Southeast Fisheries Science Center calculated the projections after the 
stock assessment as a whole was peer reviewed. The stock assessment 
noted that current removal rates are sustainable, and the subsequent 
projections, which were completed outside the Southeast Data, 
Assessment, and Review process, indicate that current removals are 
unlikely to lead to an overfished fish stock by 2040. The projections 
also indicate that higher levels of removal (those associated with an 
FTARGET scenario) are unlikely to result in an overfished 
stock; however, the methodology for estimating FTARGET is 
currently in development for sharks and has yet to be introduced and 
reviewed within the Southeast Data, Assessment,

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and Review process for this species. Therefore, we analyze a range of 
alternatives to calculate the total allowable catch and define a draft 
preferred alternative. Once this rule and Amendment is finalized in 
2013, we will establish the total allowable catch described in the 
final preferred alternative to be the annual catch limit for the stock. 
As described above and in the Alternative Suites, we split the total 
allowable catch into recreational harvest, dead discards, and 
commercial landings to calculate the different sector annual catch 
limits. These sector annual catch limits are currently in draft and 
their calculation depends on the amount calculated for the total 
allowable catch. Thus, we analyze a range of sector annual catch limits 
dependent on the total allowable catch.
    Based on comments received during scoping, on the predraft, and on 
our notice considering the addition of Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark, 
we determined the scope of significant issues of concern that would be 
addressed in this draft amendment. The objectives in the draft 
amendment and this proposed rule are driven by statutory mandates under 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, such as rebuilding overfished sandbar, dusky, 
scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose shark stocks, and ending 
overfishing of dusky, scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose 
sharks. The specific goals and objectives of the draft amendment and 
proposed rule are: (1) To end overfishing and achieve optimum yield for 
dusky, scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose sharks; (2) to 
implement a rebuilding plan for scalloped hammerhead and Atlantic 
blacknose sharks to ensure that fishing mortality levels for both 
species are maintained at or below levels that would result in a 70-
percent probability of rebuilding in the timeframe recommended by the 
assessments; (3) to modify the current rebuilding plan for dusky sharks 
to ensure that fishing mortality levels for dusky sharks are maintained 
at or below levels that would result in a 70-percent probability of 
rebuilding in the timeframe recommended by the assessment; (4) to 
maintain the rebuilding plan for sandbar sharks to ensure a 70-percent 
probability of rebuilding in the timeframe recommended by the 
assessment; and (5) to achieve optimum yield and provide an opportunity 
for the sustainable harvest of Gulf of Mexico blacknose, Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks, and other sharks, as appropriate.
    To meet these objectives, we consider a range of alternatives for 
several different issues including establishing total allowable 
catches, quota limits, time/area closures and bycatch caps, as well as 
establishing rebuilding plans for overfished stocks, and recreational 
measures. Because many of the species-specific total allowable catch, 
commercial quota, and recreational measures are interlinked, these 
alternatives are arranged and analyzed in groups of Alternative Suites. 
In addition to the Alternative Suites, which focus on quotas and 
recreational measures, we developed potential stand-alone alternatives 
for pelagic and bottom longline effort modifications or controls. These 
alternatives contain independent measures to modify and/or establish 
time/area closures, bycatch caps, and restrictions within the shark 
research fishery. Many of these effort modification alternatives are 
designed to reduce fishing mortality of dusky sharks, a species that 
has been prohibited from commercial and recreational retention since 
2000, but was still determined to be overfished and experiencing 
overfishing. For details regarding all the alternatives considered and 
their potential impacts, please see draft Amendment 5. A summary of the 
alternatives and their expected impact is found below. The proposed 
measures in this rule are the preferred alternatives in draft Amendment 
5.
    It is important to note that while the alternatives could affect 
all shark fishing, this proposed rule and the draft Amendment 5 do not 
propose changes to the current total allowable catch or commercial 
quota for sandbar sharks. According to the 2010/2011 stock assessment, 
current management measures implemented in Amendment 2 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP in 2008 appear to have stopped overfishing on 
sandbar sharks. Additionally, according to the most recent stock 
assessment, the sandbar shark stock status is improving, and the 
current rebuilding timeframe, with the 2008 total allowable catch of 
220 metric tons (mt) whole weight (ww) (158.3 mt dressed weight (dw)), 
provides a greater than 70-percent probability of rebuilding by 2070. 
Having a 70-percent probability of rebuilding is the level of success 
for rebuilding of sharks that was established in the 1999 FMP for 
Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks and carried over in the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP. The recent stock assessment also indicates that 
reducing the total allowable catch from the current 220 to 178 mt ww 
(128 mt dw) would provide a 70-percent chance of rebuilding the stock 
by the year 2066, a reduction of 4 years from the current rebuilding 
timeframe. Because the current total allowable catch already provides a 
greater than 70-percent probability of rebuilding, and because 
overfishing is not occurring and the stock status is improving, we 
believe that maintaining the current total allowable catch and 
rebuilding plan is fully consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
requirements and the National Standard Guidelines. Additionally, a 
change in the rebuilding plan that would result in a reduction in total 
allowable catch of sandbar sharks from 220 to 178 mt ww could have 
significant economic impacts to fishermen participating in the shark 
research fishery. If fishermen feel the economic impacts are 
sufficiently negative, they are less likely to participate in the shark 
research fishery which, in turn, would likely reduce the ability of the 
Agency to both collect biological and other data for stock assessments 
from the research fishery and monitor the status of sandbar and other 
sharks. Furthermore, we anticipate that the other measures proposed, 
such as modifications to the recreational minimum size and new or 
expanded time/area closures, would likely further reduce fishing 
mortality of sandbar sharks beyond the reductions considered in the 
assessment, and that these reductions will likely provide assurances of 
meeting or reducing the current rebuilding timeframe. After considering 
this information, we are maintaining the current sandbar shark total 
allowable catch of 220 mt ww and the current sandbar shark rebuilding 
plan including regulations prohibiting possession of sandbar sharks in 
commercial and recreational shark fisheries and allowing retention only 
in a shark research fishery.
    In addition to the management measures considered in this proposed 
action and below, we are also proposing several minor changes in the 
regulations for corrective or clarification purposes. The proposed 
changes are not expected to have any ecological or economic impacts and 
do not impose any new requirements on the regulated community or 
require fishermen to change their actions to comply with the 
regulations. These administrative changes are: (1) The addition of a 
definition for ``fork length''; (2) an update to the permit Web page 
and name of the reporting system at Sec.  635.5(c)(1); (3) the deletion 
of incorrect text referring to swordfish permits in a sentence 
regarding tunas at Sec.  635.20(a); (4) a correction changing the term 
``NED closed area'' to ``NED restricted area'' at Sec.  
635.21(c)(5)(iii)(C);

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(5) the removal of smoothhound shark language at Sec.  635.24(a)(7) 
that incorrectly remained after the final rule (November 10, 2011, 76 
FR 70064) delaying the effectiveness of the smoothhound measures 
indefinitely; (6) the removal of language at Sec.  635.27(b)(1)(iv)(C) 
that required landings reported by dealers located in certain areas to 
be counted against the regional quota where the dealer is located. 
Measures recently put in place in the electronic dealer reporting rule 
(August 8, 2012, 77 FR 47303) allow dealers to report and to count 
landed fish against the appropriate quota of the region where the fish 
was caught; and (7) in Table 1 of Appendix A, a correction to the 
scientific name of Atlantic angel sharks along with a removal of the 
headings ``ridgeback'' and ``non-ridgeback sharks'' since, with the 
proposed changes in this rule, those terms are no longer used. 
Additionally, to accommodate the changes being proposed and to more 
clearly organize the regulations Sec.  635.27(b) has been reorganized. 
Changes to the operative text are minimal and include: removing 
language and sentences that refer to text that will be expired before 
this rule is finalized and removing terms such as ``non-sandbar LCS'' 
that would no longer be operable based on the proposed changes in this 
rule.

Summary of the Alternatives Considered Regarding Total Allowable 
Catches, Commercial Quotas, and Recreational Measures

    As described above, because many of the species-specific total 
allowable catch, commercial quota, and recreational measures are 
interlinked, these alternatives are arranged in groups of Alternative 
Suites. We considered five Alternative Suites that were chosen to meet 
the objectives of the rulemaking consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, and other 
requirements. Each Alternative Suite analyzes certain management 
actions under seven different topics including: Scalloped hammerhead 
measures, large coastal shark (LCS) measures, blacktip measures, 
blacknose measures, non-blacknose small coastal shark (SCS) measures, 
quota linkage measures, and recreational measures.

A. Analyses of the Proposed Alternative Suite

    We are proposing the management measures in Preferred Alternative 
Suite A2, the Preferred Alternative Suite in the draft Amendment 5. 
Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would establish species-specific total 
allowable catches for scalloped hammerhead, Atlantic blacknose, Gulf of 
Mexico blacknose, and Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks. It also would 
also create regional commercial quotas for all hammerheads combined, 
blacknose, non-blacknose SCS, and ``aggregated LCS,'' and species-
specific commercial quotas for blacknose and Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
sharks. Furthermore, certain quota would be linked to prevent 
overfishing, and there are multiple recreational measures that would be 
implemented, including increasing the minimum size and requiring non-
tournament reporting of hammerhead sharks. The details and impacts of 
each of these measures are described below, starting with impacts of 
the alternative as a whole followed by the impacts of the alternative 
on each of the seven topics in the Alternative Suite.
    Overall, Preferred Alternative Suite A2 is expected to have direct, 
moderate, beneficial ecological impacts in the short- and long-term as 
these measures in the Atlantic shark fisheries would end overfishing 
and rebuild the stocks. These impacts would mostly affect scalloped 
hammerhead and blacknose sharks, because the quotas for those species 
would be reduced slightly. The quota linkages between species and 
species groups would ensure that overfishing ends because shark species 
that are undergoing rebuilding would not be caught as bycatch in other 
shark fisheries once the directed quota category has been closed. These 
management measures would cause neutral indirect impacts in the short- 
and long-term since fishermen would not be expected to redirect fishing 
pressure on other species. The cumulative direct and indirect impacts 
on essential fish habitat, predator/prey relationships, and protected 
resources would be neutral for the short- and long-term because 
commercial quotas would be similar to or reduced slightly compared to 
current levels and fishing pressure is not expected to change.
    Overall, Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would likely have direct 
short- and long-term minor adverse socioeconomic impacts. These impacts 
would mostly affect fishermen targeting scalloped hammerhead and 
blacknose sharks, because those quotas for those species would be 
reduced. Fishermen are likely to adapt to the new regulations by 
fishing in other fisheries, or changing their fishing habitats. 
Recreational management measures would increase the size limit and 
would require fishermen to catch and release sharks (rather than land 
them), although tournament participants should not be impacted because 
tournament participants typically target larger sharks and the sharks 
many tournaments target, such as shortfin mako, blue, and thresher, 
grow to larger than 96 inches FL. Neutral socioeconomic impacts are 
expected for fishermen targeting the newly configured ``aggregated 
LCS'' and non-blacknose SCS groups since the new proposed quotas are 
based on the average landings for each species. Quota linkages would 
affect the socioeconomic impacts based on the fishing rate of each 
linked shark quota. For example, the Preferred Alternative Suite A2 
proposes to link regional hammerhead shark and aggregated LCS quotas so 
that the two quotas will open and close together. If fishermen fill 
both quotas at about the same rate, there will be little or no 
unutilized quota. If, however, one or the other is filled at a much 
faster rate than the other and both quotas close, there could be quota 
available that otherwise could have been harvested and sold by 
fishermen. When we compare the socioeconomic impacts of Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2 to the other Alternative Suites, this Alternative 
Suite would cause fewer impacts overall to fishermen. For this reason 
and the ecological reasons stated above, we prefer this Alternative 
Suite at this time.
1. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, scalloped, smooth, and great 
hammerhead sharks (hammerhead sharks) would be removed from what is now 
the ``non-sandbar LCS'' complex, and separate Atlantic and Gulf of 
Mexico hammerhead shark quotas would be established. To calculate the 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark quotas, we would estimate 
the maximum sustainable level of scalloped hammerhead shark commercial 
landings by using the total allowable catch calculated in the 2009 
stock assessment and all sources of scalloped hammerhead mortality 
(including recreational landings, commercial discards, and research 
mortality). We would then split this maximum sustainable level of 
scalloped hammerhead shark commercial landings between each region, and 
make it applicable to scalloped, smooth, and great hammerhead sharks. 
As a result, we are proposing that the total Atlantic and Gulf of 
Mexico commercial hammerhead shark quota would be 52.2 mt dw (115,076 
lb dw). This quota would be split between the two regions using the 
average percentage of hammerhead sharks landed in each region from 2008 
to 2011, or 54.2 percent for the Atlantic region and 45.8 percent for 
the Gulf of Mexico region.

[[Page 70556]]

    This action would have short- and long-term direct, moderate, 
beneficial ecological impacts for the following reasons. A separate 
hammerhead shark quota in each region would allow us to more precisely 
monitor commercial landings of the species to keep mortality within the 
recommended total allowable catch in the stock assessment and to 
rebuild within the parameters set by the rebuilding plan. Additionally, 
including all three large hammerhead species (scalloped, great, and 
smooth hammerhead sharks) under the same quota would prevent fishing in 
excess of the quota that could occur as a result of species 
identification problems. The three large hammerhead species can be 
difficult to differentiate, particularly when dressed with the head 
removed. Including all three species under one quota is proposed, 
because, otherwise, scalloped hammerhead sharks that are mistakenly 
identified as one of the other large hammerhead species could 
improperly be reported under the LCS quota. Including all three species 
in one quota will therefore enable us to more effectively monitor 
commercial landings of hammerhead sharks and will provide additional 
ecological benefits for the species by better tracking the populations 
and more carefully enforcing the quota limits. Preferred Alternative 
Suite A2 would cause neutral direct and indirect impacts on essential 
fish habitat, predator/prey relationships, and protected resources in 
the short- and long-term because the changed hammerhead shark complex 
and quota should not increase fishing pressure.
    This action would have short- and long-term direct minor adverse 
socioeconomic impacts due to the reduction in hammerhead shark quotas. 
From 2008 through 2011, the data indicate that fishermen caught and 
sold an annual average 63,404 lb dw of hammerhead sharks in the 
Atlantic and 53,613 lb dw in the Gulf of Mexico. Under Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2, harvest of hammerhead sharks would be limited to 
62,371 lb dw in the Atlantic and 52,705 lb dw in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Using the ex-vessel prices described in the DEIS under Alternative 
Suite A1 and assuming a fin-to-carcass ratio of 5 percent, this would 
result in the hammerhead fishery having an average annual ex-vessel 
value of $50,721 in the Atlantic (63,404 lb of meat, 3,170 lb of fins) 
and $53,618 in the Gulf of Mexico (53,613 lb of meat, 2,681 lb of 
fins). Under the quotas proposed under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, 
ex-vessel hammerhead shark revenue would be reduced by $809 to $49,912 
in the Atlantic (62,390 lb of meat, 3,120 lb of fins) and reduced by 
$928 to $52,690 in the Gulf of Mexico (52,690 lb of meat, 2,634 lb of 
fins), assuming the same ex-vessel values and fin-to-carcass ratio. 
These reductions in revenue would negatively impact fishermen in the 
directed and incidental hammerhead shark fishery but not to a great 
extent. Additionally, hammerhead sharks species rarely make up a 
significant portion of the catch. Therefore, short- and long-term 
direct minor adverse socioeconomic impacts are expected.
2. Large Coastal Shark Complex
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, species formerly grouped in 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS complexes would be re-
grouped. Some species now would be addressed individually while others 
would continue to be managed within a newly-configured and re-named 
complex. In the Atlantic, all three hammerhead sharks (scalloped, 
smooth, and great hammerhead sharks) would be removed from the Atlantic 
non-sandbar LCS quota and a separate Atlantic hammerhead shark quota 
would be established. The methodology for establishing the Atlantic 
hammerhead shark quota is outlined above. After removing hammerhead 
sharks, the sharks remaining from the Atlantic non-sandbar LCS quota 
would be renamed the ``Atlantic Aggregated LCS quota'' and would 
include blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, silky, spinner, and tiger sharks. 
Using the methodology outlined in draft Amendment 5, under Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2, the Atlantic Aggregated LCS commercial quota 
would be 168.2 mt dw. For the Gulf of Mexico region, blacktip sharks as 
well as all three hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and great 
hammerhead sharks) would be removed from the current Gulf of Mexico 
non-sandbar LCS complex, and the complex, composed of the remaining 
species, would be renamed the ``Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS.'' In 
addition, a separate quota would be established for both blacktip 
sharks and hammerhead sharks. The Gulf of Mexico Aggregated LCS would 
include bull, lemon, nurse, silky, spinner, and tiger sharks. Using the 
methodology described in the draft Amendment 5, under Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2, the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS commercial 
quota would be 157.9 mt dw.
    The aggregated LCS quota would be based on average annual landings 
of the remaining species. Therefore, those species comprising the 
aggregated LCS management groups would not experience a change in 
fishing pressure, and landings would be capped at recent levels. For 
these reasons, short- and long-term direct ecological impacts resulting 
from this portion of Preferred Alternative Suite A2 are expected to be 
neutral. Similarly, the short- and long-term direct socioeconomic 
impacts resulting from this portion of Preferred Alternative Suite A2 
are expected to be neutral. We do not expect any additional ecological 
or socioeconomic impacts to occur as the result of the measures in this 
Alternative Suite.
3. Blacktip Sharks
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, blacktip sharks would be 
removed from the non-sandbar LCS quota complex in the Gulf of Mexico 
and a separate blacktip quota would be established along with a new 
``aggregated LCS'' commercial quota. The assessment of Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip sharks was recently completed and we adopt its results as 
final in this proposed rule. The assessment and the projections 
completed by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center indicate that the 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark stock is not overfished and overfishing 
is not occurring, that current removal rates are sustainable and are 
unlikely to lead to an overfished stock by 2040, and that higher levels 
of removal are unlikely to result in an overfished stock. Based on this 
information, we would establish a total allowable catch based on 
current sustainable levels of catch. This total allowable catch would 
be 413.4 mt dw and would be calculated by summing all of the sources of 
mortality (recreational landings, commercial discards, and research 
set-aside mortality) and the commercial quota. The commercial quota 
would be calculated by taking the proportion of current Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark landings that make up the Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS 
quota multiplied by the Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS quota that will 
be in effect in 2013. This would result in a commercial quota of 256.7 
mt dw (565,921 lb dw).
    Neutral short- and long-term direct impacts would be expected under 
Alternative Suite A2, the preferred alternative, as overfishing is not 
occurring and commercial landings would be capped at current fishing 
levels. Based on the stock assessment, this alternative would cause 
neutral direct and indirect impacts on EFH, predator/prey 
relationships, and protected resources in the short- and long-term 
because fishing pressure would be similar to current levels and is not 
anticipated to change.
    This alternative suite's proposed blacktip shark measure is likely 
to result

[[Page 70557]]

in short- and long-term direct socioeconomic neutral impacts. The quota 
of 256.7 mt dw (565,921 lb dw) of blacktip sharks is representative of 
the current blacktip shark landings percentage applied to the 2013 Gulf 
of Mexico non-sandbar LCS quota (see draft Amendment 5 for further 
details). Based on current average annual landings, the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark fishery has average annual revenues of $650,809 across 
the whole fishery (2008-2011 median ex-vessel values of $0.40 for meat 
and $15for fins, based on a 5 percent fin-to-carcass ratio). Given the 
current stock status, fishermen would likely continue to realize this 
revenue, fishery-wide. Therefore, short- and long-term direct 
socioeconomic impacts are expected to be neutral.
4. Blacknose Sharks
    In 2010, Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 3) 
removed blacknose sharks from the SCS complex and established a 
separate quota for blacknose sharks that covered both the Atlantic and 
Gulf of Mexico regions. Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would create 
separate commercial quotas for Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacknose 
sharks based on the recent blacknose assessments conducted under the 
Southeast, Data, Assessment and Review 21 process, which determined 
that two separate stocks exist (Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico). The 
Atlantic commercial quota would be derived from the total allowable 
catch of 7,300 blacknose sharks, or 21.2 mt dw, that was specified in 
the stock assessment. Within the total allowable catch of 21.2 mt dw, 
all of the sources of mortality (recreational landings, commercial 
discards, and research set-aside mortality) would be summed and 
subtracted from the total allowable catch to calculate the commercial 
quota of 18 mt dw (39,749 lb dw).
    The Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 21 Review Panel did not 
accept the Gulf of Mexico stock assessment for blacknose sharks, and 
therefore, we did not receive a total allowable catch recommendation. 
Therefore, we determined that the stock status for the Gulf of Mexico 
blacknose shark stock is unknown (76 FR 62331; October 7, 2011). As 
such, we explored how to calculate a Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark 
total allowable catch that would include all commercial and 
recreational landings and any dead discards in all fisheries that 
interact with Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks. A total allowable catch 
of 34.9 mt dw for blacknose sharks was calculated by summing mortality 
from the 2011 commercial fishery and average recreational and discard 
mortality since the implementation of blacknose shark measures from 
Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery FMP in 2010. Amendment 
3 removed blacknose sharks from the SCS quota and created a blacknose 
shark-specific quota of 19.9 mt dw (43,872 lb dw) for both regions. 
Also, the blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS quotas were linked, so 
if either the blacknose shark quota or non-blacknose SCS quota (488,540 
lb dw; 221.6 mt dw) reaches 80 percent, both fisheries close for the 
rest of the season. The reduced quotas and quota linkage changed the 
fishery as fishermen began avoiding blacknose sharks to ensure that the 
larger non-blacknose SCS quota remained open. The 2011 commercial 
mortality was used to calculate the total allowable catch instead of 
average commercial mortality since Amendment 3 was implemented because 
of a shortened 2010 fishing season due to the implementation of 
Amendment 3 (season opened on June 1, 2010) and fishing restrictions 
due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. On May 11, 2010, we issued 
an emergency rule to close portions of the Gulf of Mexico Exclusive 
Economic Zone to all fishing, in order to respond to the evolving 
nature of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (75 
FR 27217). Thus, a large portion of the fishing grounds for blacknose 
and non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico, whose commercial fishing 
season opened on June 1, 2010, were closed for most of the 2010 
commercial fishing season. Using 2011 commercial landings of blacknose 
sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, the new Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark 
commercial quota would be 2.0 mt dw (4,513 lb dw). Establishing this 
total allowable catch would account for the blacknose shark mortality 
that occurs as bycatch in the shrimp trawl and reef fish fisheries in 
the Gulf of Mexico region. Since the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management 
Council manages the shrimp trawl and reef fish fisheries, we would 
continue to work with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to 
establish bycatch reduction methods, as appropriate, to reduce 
mortality in the shrimp trawl and reef fish fisheries.
    Preferred Alternative Suite A2 is anticipated to have minor, 
beneficial ecological impacts for blacknose sharks as it would separate 
blacknose sharks into two separate regions (Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of 
Mexico) as recommended in the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review 21 
stock assessment and reduce fishing mortality based on the total 
allowable catch. The Atlantic blacknose shark stock is overfished with 
overfishing occurring, while the Gulf of Mexico stock status is 
unknown. Projections of the base model indicated that the Atlantic 
stock could rebuild by 2043 with a total allowable catch of 7,300 
blacknose sharks. For the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark stock, we 
would use a total allowable catch of 17,802 blacknose sharks, which was 
determined by using the average mortality of blacknose sharks since 
Amendment 3 as well as commercial landings from 2011. Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2 would cause neutral direct and indirect impacts on 
essential fish habitat, predator/prey relationships, and protected 
resources in the short- and long-term because the fishery would not 
change.
    This alternative would decrease the blacknose shark quotas overall 
in each region. In the Atlantic region, blacknose shark landings would 
be reduced by 61 percent to allow for a total allowable catch of 7,300 
blacknose sharks consistent with the assessment. The new commercial 
quota for the Atlantic blacknose sharks would be 18.0 mt dw (39,749 lb 
dw) under Preferred Alternative Suite A2. Average annual gross revenues 
for the blacknose shark landings for the Atlantic region would decrease 
by $3,268 from $58,122 under the No Action alternative to $54,854 under 
Preferred Alternative Suite A2. We anticipate these directed and 
incidental shark permit holders would experience minor direct adverse 
socioeconomic impacts in the short- and long-term as blacknose sharks 
are not the targeted shark species for SCS fishermen.
    For the Gulf of Mexico, we would implement a blacknose shark quota 
that is equal to the 2011 commercial landings. The new quota would be 
2.0 mt dw (4,513 lb dw) under this alternative. This would cause a 
minor increase to the average annual gross revenues for the blacknose 
shark landings for the Gulf of Mexico region from $3,273 under the No 
Action alternative to $5,650 under Preferred Alternative Suite A2. We 
anticipate these directed and incidental shark permit holders would 
experience neutral direct socioeconomic impacts in the short- and long-
term since the new Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark quota would be 
consistent with current landings.
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, we anticipate that there 
would be direct moderate adverse socioeconomic impacts in the short-
term from the proposed quotas under this Alternative Suite. In the 
short-term, lost revenues would be moderate for the 22 directed

[[Page 70558]]

shark permit and 3 incidental shark permit holders that land blacknose 
sharks in the Atlantic region, and the 8 directed shark and the 2 
incidental shark permits that land blacknose sharks in the Gulf of 
Mexico. Over the long-term, the socioeconomic impact would be minor, as 
the fishermen are likely to adapt to the new regulations by fishing in 
other fisheries, or change their fishing habitats. The indirect 
socioeconomic impacts from Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would be 
adverse, but minor in the short-term, as the anticipated reduction in 
blacknose landings would result in a corresponding loss of revenue for 
a small number of businesses as blacknose shark product does not make 
up a large part of the market. In the long-term, these indirect impacts 
would be neutral as businesses would be expected to find other sources 
of revenue to augment the losses from the reduced quotas.
5. Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks
    Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would separate the non-blacknose SCS 
quota into two separate regions (Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico) 
based on the percentage of regional landings since implementation of 
the Amendment 3 blacknose shark quotas. As described above, blacknose 
sharks were removed from the SCS complex and a non-blacknose shark-
specific quota of 221.6 mt dw (488,540 lb dw) was created for both 
regions. Blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS quotas were also linked 
so that if either the non-blacknose SCS quota or blacknose shark quota 
reaches 80 percent, both fisheries close for the rest of the fishing 
year. The reduced quotas and quota linkage changed how the SCS fishery 
operated as fishermen began to specifically avoid blacknose sharks to 
ensure that the larger non-blacknose SCS quota would remain open. 
According to 2010 and 2011 dealer data, an average of 89.3 percent of 
non-blacknose landings occurred in the Atlantic region (94.2 and 85.2 
percent for 2010 and 2011, respectively). The 2010 and 2011 Gulf of 
Mexico non-blacknose SCS landings were 5.8 and 14.8 percent, 
respectively, for an average of 10.7 percent for total Gulf of Mexico 
non-blacknose SCS landings. Based on these averages, the new non-
blacknose SCS quota in the Atlantic would be 197.9 mt dw (436,290 lb 
dw), while the Gulf of Mexico quota would be 23.7 mt dw (52,249 lb dw).
    This alternative is anticipated to have direct, minor beneficial 
ecological impacts for Atlantic sharpnose, bonnethead, and finetooth 
sharks in the short- and long-term as it would create regional quotas 
and restrict fishing mortality below the total allowable catch 
established for SCS in the last stock assessment for those species. 
Currently, there is one quota for non-blacknose SCS in both the 
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, and, according to landings reports from 
2008 through 2011, fishing pressure for non-blacknose SCS is higher in 
the Atlantic region. Over time, this could cause unsustainable fishing 
pressure on non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region. However, regional 
quotas would cap fishing pressure at levels since Amendment 3 was 
implemented and prevent overfishing. Since fishing pressure would be 
similar to current levels, the impacts on essential fish habitat, 
predator/prey relationships, and protected resources would be neutral.
    Based on the landings data, the non-blacknose SCS quota in the 
Atlantic would be 197.9 mt dw (436,243 lb dw) and the Gulf of Mexico 
quota would be 23.7 mt dw (52,296 lb dw). In the Atlantic, an average 
of approximately 33 vessels with directed shark permits landed 
blacknose sharks, while approximately 10 vessels with incidental shark 
permits landed non-blacknose SCS. The average annual gross revenues 
from Atlantic non-blacknose SCS meat were $314,095 and average annual 
gross revenues for Atlantic non-blacknose SCS fins were $261,746, 
making total average annual gross revenues for blacknose shark landings 
for the entire fishery $575,841.
    In the Gulf of Mexico, an average of approximately nine vessels 
with directed shark permits landed blacknose sharks, while 
approximately three vessels with incidental shark permits landed non-
blacknose SCS since Amendment 3. The average annual gross revenues from 
Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS meat were $31,378 and average annual 
gross revenues for Atlantic non-blacknose SCS fins were $39,222, making 
total average annual gross revenues for blacknose shark landings for 
the entire fishery $70,600.
    Under the Preferred Alternative Suite A2, there would be neutral 
direct and indirect socioeconomic impacts to directed and incidental 
shark permit holders as the average annual gross revenues from non-
blacknose SCS landings would be the same as the status quo in the 
short- and long-term. Fishermen and shark dealers would be expected to 
operate in the same manner as the status quo in the short- term. 
However, this Alternative Suite could have minor negative direct and 
indirect socioeconomic impacts on fishermen and shark dealers and 
associated shark businesses that deal with non-blacknose SCS product if 
fishing effort increases for non-blacknose SCS. Currently, the fishery 
never reaches the allowable quota, but that could change with a smaller 
regional quota and if fishermen are displaced from other fisheries.
6. Quota Linkages
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, several quota linkages would 
be implemented to prevent exceeding the newly established quotas. 
Generally, two or more shark species with separate quotas are caught 
together on the same set or trip. If the quota for one of these species 
has been filled and closed, that species could still be caught in other 
directed shark fisheries as bycatch, possibly resulting in mortality 
and negating some of the conservation benefit of quota closures. 
Preferred Alternative Suite A2 would link several quotas to ensure that 
the quota for shark species that are caught together open and close at 
the same time. In the Atlantic, the hammerhead shark and aggregated LCS 
quotas would be linked. These two quotas would open at the same time 
and both quotas would close when landings of either hammerhead sharks 
or aggregated LCS reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the 
quota. Opening and closing these two quotas concurrently would 
strengthen the conservation benefits of either group's quota closure. 
Similarly, in the Gulf of Mexico, hammerhead sharks, blacktip sharks, 
and the aggregated LCS quota would open at the same time and all three 
quotas would close when landings of any one of the three quotas reach, 
or are expected to reach, 80 percent. Also, linkage of the blacknose 
and non-blacknose SCS regional quotas would be implemented under this 
alternative. The Atlantic blacknose shark quota would be linked to the 
Atlantic non-blacknose SCS quota, and the Gulf of Mexico blacknose 
shark quota would be linked to the Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS 
quota.
    We would also establish a mechanism to allow inseason and annual 
regional quota transfers between species or species groups where the 
quota was split regionally for management purposes and not as a result 
of a stock assessment. At this time, only the Atlantic and Gulf of 
Mexico non-blacknose SCS and the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico hammerhead 
regional quotas meet this criterion. Monitoring total mortality for 
these quotas, not regional-specific mortality, is necessary for 
conservation purposes. Providing this regional quota transfer 
flexibility would facilitate overall quota management while having no 
negative conservation impacts on stocks where

[[Page 70559]]

regional mortality is not a concern for stock conservation. Before 
making any inseason quota transfer, we would consider certain criteria 
and other relevant factors described in Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(iii)(A) 
through (b)(2)(iii)(H).
    The quota linkages proposed under this Alternative Suite would be 
expected to have short- and long-term direct moderate beneficial 
ecological impacts. Linking quotas of species that are often caught 
together on the same set or trip can prevent incidental catch of sharks 
caught in other directed shark fisheries as bycatch, possibly resulting 
in mortality and negating some of the conservation benefit of quota 
closures. For quotas that are linked, the fisheries would open and 
close together. In the Atlantic, the hammerhead shark and aggregated 
LCS quotas would be linked as would the non-blacknose SCS and blacknose 
shark quotas. If, for example, the Atlantic the hammerhead quota closes 
based on landings information, the Atlantic aggregated LCS quota would 
close as well, preventing additional incidental hammerhead mortality 
from occurring in the directed aggregated LCS fishery. Similarly, if 
the aggregated LCS quota closes, a hammerhead quota closure would 
prevent incidental aggregated LCS landings in the directed hammerhead 
fishery, to the extent that a directed hammerhead fishery occurs. In 
the Gulf of Mexico, the blacktip, hammerhead, and aggregated LCS quota 
would be linked as would the non-blacknose SCS and blacknose shark 
quotas. In addition, we would allow inseason regional quota transfers 
between regions for species or management groups where the species are 
the same between regions and the quota is split between regions for 
management purposes and not as a result of a stock assessment. At this 
time, only the hammerhead sharks and the regional non-blacknose SCS 
meet this description; and therefore, we are proposing that only the 
hammerhead shark and non-blacknose SCS regional quotas can be 
transferred on an inseason basis between regions. Before making any 
inseason quota transfer, we would consider certain criteria and other 
relevant factors described in Sec.  635.27(b)(2)(iii)(A-H). This would 
help ensure that the hammerhead shark and non-blacknose SCS fisheries 
are not limited by the smaller regional quotas. All quota transfers 
would be announced in a Federal Register notice. These measures would 
have direct, minor beneficial ecological impacts because they provide 
additional protection against exceeding the scientifically-determined 
total allowable catch for each species and complex.
    The quota linkages proposed under this Alternative Suite could have 
short- and long-term direct moderate adverse socioeconomic impacts. 
Quota linkages are explicitly designed to concurrently close multiple 
shark quotas, regardless of whether all the linked quotas are filled. 
This provides protection against incidental capture for species for 
which the quota has been reached, but it can also preclude fishermen 
from harvesting the entirety of each of the linked quotas. A 
quantitative analysis of the economic impact is not possible without 
comparing the rates of hammerhead shark, blacktip shark, and aggregated 
LCS catch, and without knowing the extent to which fishermen can avoid 
hammerhead sharks. However, a qualitative analysis can provide insight 
on possible adverse socioeconomic impacts. Under Preferred Alternative 
Suite A2, both the hammerhead shark and aggregated LCS quotas would 
close when landings of either reaches or is expected to reach 80 
percent of the quota. If hammerhead shark landings reach 80 percent of 
the hammerhead shark quota, the aggregated LCS fishery would close, 
regardless of what portion of the aggregated LCS quota has been filled. 
If the entire Aggregate LCS quota has not been harvested, the fishery 
would not realize the full level of revenues possible under the 
established quota. A similar situation could occur in the Gulf of 
Mexico under Preferred Alternative Suite A2 where both the hammerhead 
shark and blacktip shark quotas would be linked to the aggregated LCS 
quota.
    The blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS socioeconomic impacts 
would be the same as the aggregated LCS since there would be similar 
scenarios with the quota linkage by species and region. In addition, we 
would allow inseason quota transfer between non-blacknose SCS regions. 
This would have minor beneficial socioeconomic impacts for this fishery 
as the non-blacknose SCS quota would not be the limiting factor. 
Consequently, the quota linkages proposed under this Alternative Suite 
could have short- and long-term direct moderate adverse socioeconomic 
impacts.
7. Recreational Measures
    Under Preferred Alternative Suite A2, the minimum recreational size 
limit for sharks would increase from 54 to 96 inches fork length (FL) 
(8 ft or 244 cm). Currently, the recreational size limit for authorized 
shark species (except for Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks) is 
54-inches FL. This minimum size was established based on the size at 
maturity of sandbar sharks. This new size limit is based on the best 
available scientific information, which reported female dusky shark 
size-at-maturity to be 235 cm fork length (approximately 93 inches). 
Since 93 inches does not equate to a round number of feet (93 inches = 
7.75 feet), we are proposing to round up the minimum size to the whole 
foot, resulting in a proposed minimum size of 96 inches FL (8 feet). 
Dusky sharks have been prohibited in the recreational fishery since 
1999, but are still landed due to misidentification issues. To address 
the misidentification issues, we would increase outreach to the 
recreational community to increase awareness of current regulations and 
shark identification, specifically for dusky and sandbar sharks which 
are prohibited, and for the three species of hammerhead sharks (great, 
scalloped, and smooth).
    This increased recreational size limit will also help reduce 
blacknose, sandbar, and scalloped hammerhead shark catches because 
fishermen usually do not catch sharks that large frequently. Blacknose 
shark retention in the recreational fishery effectively would be 
eliminated with a 96-inch FL recreational size limit. Blacknose sharks 
rarely reach a size greater than the current Federal minimum size of 
54-inch FL; therefore, the 96-inch FL size limit creates a de facto 
retention prohibition of blacknose sharks in Federal waters. In the 
draft Amendment 3, we proposed prohibiting retention of blacknose 
sharks in the recreational fishery. During the public comment period 
for Amendment 3, we received comments that if we prohibited the 
retention of blacknose sharks in Federal waters, then states would also 
have to implement the prohibition in state waters. The comments also 
stated that because some states have a well-managed blacknose 
recreational fishery and conservation measures in place to adequately 
protect this species in state waters, prohibiting their retention is 
unnecessary. However, since we did not prohibit blacknose sharks in 
Amendment 3, some states continued to allow recreational landings of 
blacknose sharks below the 54-inch FL in state waters. Overfishing 
continued to occur on the Atlantic blacknose shark stock based on the 
recent assessment, and we need to reduce the recreational mortality of 
blacknose sharks to meet rebuilding target for the established total 
allowable catch.
    Like dusky sharks, recreational fishermen are not allowed to retain 
sandbar sharks, but fishermen still land them due to misidentification. 
The

[[Page 70560]]

larger size limit would reduce recreational catches since sandbar 
sharks do not grow to 96 inches FL. We plan to conduct outreach to the 
recreational community to better inform anglers of prohibited species 
as well as identifying dusky and sandbar sharks. This increase in 
minimum size would also reduce scalloped hammerhead sharks catches in 
the recreational fishery and help rebuild this overfished stock. Female 
scalloped hammerhead sharks reach maturity at approximately 78-inches 
FL. The larger recreational size limit would limit the retention of 
scalloped hammerhead sharks to mature individuals and help rebuild the 
stock faster consistent with rebuilding goals. We are currently working 
on an identification guide for all of the prohibited shark species to 
help with this outreach. This identification guide would complement the 
existing guide of shark species that can be landed by focusing on the 
species that cannot be landed.
    In addition to the change in minimum size, we would require 
mandatory reporting of all hammerhead sharks landed recreationally 
through the non-tournament reporting system. The non-tournament 
reporting system was established to track the trips that released 
(alive or dead) or retained bluefin tuna, blue marlin, white marlin, 
roundscale spearfish, longbill spearfish, sailfish, and swordfish. 
Fishermen can report online or over the phone. Recreational fishermen 
who land hammerhead sharks would need to submit similar information, 
thus providing us more timely and accurate estimates of recreational 
hammerhead landings.
    This alternative would have short- and long-term moderate, 
beneficial ecological impacts on dusky, sandbar, scalloped hammerhead, 
and blacknose sharks. Increasing the size limit, providing outreach 
material, and establishing mandatory reporting for hammerhead sharks 
should reduce recreational catches and provide us better and timelier 
estimates of recreational ladings of hammerhead sharks. There would be 
beneficial indirect ecological impacts since increasing the size limit 
would reduce the recreational catch of other shark species that do not 
grow larger than 96 inches FL. Overall, the reductions in recreational 
mortality along with the commercial management measures are expected to 
help rebuild the overfished stocks. The increased recreational size 
limit would cause neutral direct and indirect impacts on essential fish 
habitat, predator/prey relationships, and protected resources in the 
short- and long-term.
    This alternative would result in direct minor adverse socioeconomic 
impacts for recreational fishermen in the short-term due to the reduced 
incentive to recreationally fish for sharks. However, management 
measures to address overfishing of dusky, sandbar, scalloped 
hammerhead, and blacknose sharks are needed based on the stock 
assessments. Tournaments awarding points for sharks are unlikely to be 
impacted by implementing the 96 inch FL minimum size. Tournament 
participants typically target larger sharks and the sharks many 
tournaments target, such as shortfin mako, blue, and thresher, grow to 
larger than 96 inches FL. These measures could change the way that the 
recreational shark fishery operates, which could cause short-term 
moderate adverse direct socioeconomic impacts. Implementation of 
management measures that would significantly alter the way charter 
vessels operate, or reduce opportunity and demand for recreational 
shark fishing, could create adverse socioeconomic impacts. In the long-
term, increased recreational fisheries opportunities may result as 
these measures end overfishing and overfished stocks rebuild.

B. Summary of the Other Alternative Suites Considered

    In addition to Preferred Alternative Suite A2, we considered four 
other Alternative Suites ranging from status quo or no action 
(Alternative Suite A1) to closing all shark fisheries (Alternative 
Suite A5). Alternative Suite A1 is the No Action Alternative. Under 
this alternative, we would maintain current total allowable catches, 
commercial quotas, and recreational measures in all shark fisheries. 
Choosing this alternative would not end overfishing or rebuild 
overfished stocks. Taken as a whole, this alternative would have direct 
moderate, adverse ecological impacts in the short-term since there 
would be no change to harvest levels in the Atlantic shark fisheries 
and overfishing of scalloped hammerhead and blacknose sharks would 
continue. This alternative could result in direct significant, adverse 
long-term ecological impacts for certain LCS and SCS, since this 
alternative would result in continued overfishing of scalloped 
hammerhead, dusky, and Atlantic blacknose sharks, which would lead to 
further stock decline of these species, and could increase fishing 
pressure on the other LCS and SCS species as fishermen shift their 
efforts to other species to make up for the reduced catches. This 
alternative would have indirect neutral ecological impacts in the 
short-term since no action would be taken, but may result in moderate, 
adverse indirect impacts over time due to the increasing decline of the 
scalloped hammerhead, dusky, and Atlantic blacknose shark populations. 
Alternative Suite A1 would cause neutral direct and indirect impacts on 
essential fish habitat, predator/prey relationships, and protected 
resources in the short- and long-term no action would be taken relative 
to the status quo.
    Alternative Suite A1 would likely have direct neutral social and 
economic impacts in the short-term because the fisheries would continue 
to operate as they currently do. In the long-term, it could cause 
direct moderate adverse social and economic impacts because overfished 
stocks would not rebuild and catches would decline. The decline in 
catches would lead to a moderate reduction in sales and revenue. 
Additionally, Alternative Suite A1 would likely have neutral indirect 
short-term socioeconomic impacts. Dealers and supporting businesses, 
such as bait and tackle suppliers, would be unlikely to experience any 
impacts in the short-term. In the long-term, catches of the overfished 
stocks would decline, and minor negative socioeconomic impacts would 
occur as dealers and supporting businesses would have to offset reduced 
revenues from shark landings. For these reasons, we do not prefer this 
Alternative Suite at this time.
    Alternative Suite A3 is similar to the proposed Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2 except we would not create regional hammerhead 
shark and non-blacknose SCS quotas, there would be no quota linkage for 
the shark fisheries, and there would be an increase in the recreational 
minimum size limit for only hammerhead sharks. Specifically, 
Alternative Suite A3 would establish new species complexes by regions, 
adjust LCS and SCS quotas, prohibit retention of commercial blacknose 
sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, and increase the hammerhead shark minimum 
recreational size to 78'' FL. This alternative would remove hammerhead 
sharks from the non-sandbar LCS complex to form a separate non-regional 
quota of 52.2 mt dw, while non-blacknose SCS regulations and quota 
would remain the same (221.6 mt dw). This alternative would also create 
regional quotas for blacknose sharks as well as remove blacktip sharks 
from the Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS complex. Additionally, this 
alternative would reconfigure and rename the species remaining in the 
non-sandbar LCS complex as the ``aggregated LCS'' in both the Atlantic 
and Gulf of Mexico

[[Page 70561]]

regions. The new Gulf of Mexico base quotas would be as follows: 
blacktip sharks--380.7 mt dw; and non-sandbar LCS--157.3 mt dw. The new 
aggregated LCS complex in the Gulf of Mexico region would consist of 
bull, lemon, nurse, spinner, silky, and tiger sharks. In the Atlantic 
region, base quotas would be as follows: Non-sandbar LCS--168.2 mt dw; 
and blacknose sharks--18 mt dw. The new aggregated LCS complex in the 
Atlantic would consist of blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, spinner, silky, 
and tiger sharks. We would need to prohibit the retention of blacknose 
sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region so we can meet the rebuilding plan 
for this species.
    When taken as a whole, Alternative Suite A3 would have direct 
moderate, beneficial ecological impacts in the short-term since changes 
to the Atlantic shark fisheries would help rebuild scalloped hammerhead 
and blacknose shark stocks, but long-term impacts would be minor and 
adverse because the absence of quota linkages could allow overfishing 
to continue through dead discards in other fisheries. The indirect 
ecological impacts would be neutral to essential fish habitat, 
predator/prey relationships, or protected resources because fishing 
pressure is expected to remain near current levels. Establishing a Gulf 
of Mexico blacktip shark total allowable catch at a level 30 percent 
greater than the total allowable catch calculated in Alternative Suite 
2 could increase shark fishing effort and, as described above, might 
have adverse ecological impacts on other shark stocks and other 
species. It is also uncertain what impact the increase would have on 
the Gulf of Mexico shark stock because there is high degree of 
uncertainty associated with the projections, particularly since these 
projections were not peer reviewed as part of the Southeast Data, 
Assessment and Review process.
    Additionally, Alternative Suite A3 would likely have direct short- 
and long-term moderate beneficial socioeconomic impacts, mainly 
resulting from the increase in Gulf of Mexico blacktip quota. Adverse 
impacts would mostly affect fishermen catching hammerhead and blacknose 
sharks. The hammerhead shark quota would be based on the scalloped 
hammerhead shark total allowable catch and would reduce all hammerhead 
shark landings. The blacknose shark quota in the Atlantic would be 
reduced, while the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark retention would be 
prohibited to meet the total allowable catch. Recreational management 
measures would affect fishermen who catch hammerhead sharks since the 
increased size limit would result in more hammerhead sharks having to 
be released, and blacknose sharks would be prohibited under this 
Alternative Suite. Neutral socioeconomic impacts are expected for 
fishermen targeting the aggregated LCS and non-blacknose SCS complexes 
since these management measures would maintain status quo in these 
fisheries. Furthermore, the lack of quota linkages in Alternative Suite 
A3 would allow fishermen to fully harvest all of the quotas. This 
alternative would likely have indirect short-term minor adverse 
socioeconomic impacts. The measures in this Alternative Suite adjust 
quotas based on new scientific information and would impact shark 
landings. Consequently, dealers and supporting businesses such as bait 
and tackle suppliers may experience minor adverse impacts in the short-
term, but since they do not rely solely on the shark fishery and buy 
from and sell to a variety of fisheries, the impacts are expected to be 
neutral in the long-term. The changes to quotas would impact fishermen 
retaining sharks, but the changes are small enough that dealers and 
supporting businesses are unlikely to experience impacts from this 
Alternative Suite. While Alternative Suite A3 might have more 
beneficial direct socioeconomic impacts than the proposed Preferred 
Alternative Suite A2, the ecological impacts would be adverse and would 
not achieve the rebuilding plan targets for these stocks.
    Indirect short- and long-term moderate beneficial socioeconomic 
impacts would likely result from this Alternative Suite's actions. The 
measures in this Alternative Suite adjust quotas based on new 
scientific information and would impact shark landings. Consequently, 
the increase in the commercial Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota 
could result in short- and long-term beneficial economic impacts for 
dealers and supporting businesses such as bait and tackle suppliers. 
The other changes to quotas (e.g., scalloped hammerhead, blacknose) 
would impact fishermen retaining sharks, but the changes are small 
enough that dealers and supporting businesses are unlikely to 
experience impacts from this alternative suite. This increase in the 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip quota could lead to increased revenues of 
$314,376 when compared to the quota calculated in Alternative Suite A2. 
Because of the uncertainty in the projections and because this 
Alternative Suite does not have quota linkages that would prevent quota 
exceedances from occurring (and thus would affect the ability to end 
overfishing and rebuild the species), we do not prefer this Alternative 
Suite at this time.
    We also considered Alternative Suite A4. This Alternative Suite is 
different than the Proposed Alternative Suite A2 because it would 
establish regional scalloped hammerhead shark quotas, establish 
regional aggregated LCS quotas based on the largest landings, divide 
the non-blacknose SCS quota in half for each region, and establish 
species-specific recreational shark quotas. Specifically, Alternative 
Suite A4 would establish new species complexes by regions, adjust LCS 
and SCS quotas, prohibit retention of commercial blacknose sharks in 
the Gulf of Mexico region, link appropriate quotas, and establish 
species-specific recreational shark quotas. The alternative would 
remove scalloped hammerhead sharks from the non-sandbar LCS complex to 
form separate regional quotas, and create regional quotas for blacknose 
and non-blacknose SCS. Also, blacktip sharks would be removed from the 
Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS complex and the non-sandbar LCS complex 
would be renamed ``aggregated LCS'' in both the Atlantic and Gulf of 
Mexico. The new Gulf of Mexico base quotas would be as follows: 
scalloped hammerhead sharks 24.4 mt dw; blacktip sharks 1,992.6 mt dw; 
non-sandbar LCS 185.2 mt dw; and non-blacknose SCS 110.8 mt dw. The new 
aggregated LCS complex in the Gulf of Mexico region would consist of 
bull, lemon, nurse, spinner, silky, and tiger sharks. In the Atlantic 
region, base quotas would be as follows: scalloped hammerhead sharks 
27.8 mt dw; non-sandbar LCS 180.1 mt dw; blacknose sharks 18 mt dw; and 
non-blacknose SCS 110.8 mt dw. The new aggregated LCS in the Atlantic 
region would consist of blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, spinner, silky, 
and tiger sharks. This Alternative Suite would also link the species 
within regional LCS and SCS quotas to prevent overfishing of one 
species while fishing for another species/group continues. Under this 
Alternative Suite, we would prohibit the retention of blacknose sharks 
in the Gulf of Mexico to end overfishing and meet the rebuilding plan 
target for this species.
    Considering all the ecological impacts for each species, complex, 
or issue as discussed above, when taken as a whole, Alternative Suite 
A4 would likely have direct short- and long-term minor beneficial 
ecological impacts. Overfishing on scalloped hammerhead and Atlantic 
blacknose sharks would be addressed, and the rebuilding plans for these 
stocks would be implemented.

[[Page 70562]]

However, only scalloped hammerhead sharks would be included under the 
scalloped hammerhead total allowable catch, rather than all three large 
hammerhead species as in Alternative Suites A2 and A3, possibly leading 
to exceedances of scalloped hammerhead total allowable catch due to 
capture and retention of scalloped hammerheads misidentified as other 
hammerhead species. Additionally, the Atlantic non-blacknose SCS 
commercial quota would be reduced. Indirect short- and long-term 
ecological impacts resulting from any of the Alternative Suite A4 
actions would likely be neutral. Similarly, all impacts on protected 
resources would be neutral as well because the measures in Alternative 
Suite A4 would be unlikely to significantly alter effort in the 
Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico shark fisheries. Therefore, additional 
impacts to essential fish habitat, predator/prey relationships, or 
protected resources are unlikely. Although this alternative suite would 
allow for the highest Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota, 
it is based on base model projections, which the NMFS scientists who 
participated in the stock assessment felt had a high degree of 
uncertainty, and, because these projections were developed outside of 
the standard Southeast Data, Assessment and Review process and were not 
been peer reviewed, they could not conclude with certainty that such a 
high level of catch would not result in overfishing. Therefore, given 
the uncertainty in the results of the projections at this level of 
catch, this alternative suite could lead to long-term adverse 
ecological impacts due to overfishing if the projections were overly 
optimistic.
    Alternative Suite A4 would likely have direct short- and long-term 
minor adverse socioeconomic impacts. These impacts would mostly affect 
fishermen catching blacknose sharks. The blacknose shark quota in the 
Atlantic would be reduced, while the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark 
retention would be prohibited to prevent exceedance of the total 
allowable catch. Recreational management measures would affect 
fishermen who retain sharks since we would implement species- and 
complex-specific quotas for the recreational fishery. Neutral 
socioeconomic impacts are expected for recreational and commercial 
fishermen targeting scalloped hammerhead sharks, aggregated LCS, and 
non-blacknose SCS as detailed in those sections of this Alternative 
Suite. While this alternative suite might have minor adverse 
socioeconomic impacts, there is the potential for more adverse 
socioeconomic impacts if quotas are exceeded in the future. Although 
this alternative suite would allow for the highest Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark commercial quota, as described above, the stock 
assessment scientists could not conclude with certainty that such a 
high level of catch would not result in overfishing. In addition to the 
uncertainty in the model, the blacktip shark quota proposed under this 
alternative suite could lead to increased bycatch of other species due 
to increased fishing effort.
    Indirect short-term minor adverse socioeconomic impacts would 
likely result from this Alternative Suite's actions. The measures in 
this Alternative Suite adjust quotas based on new scientific 
information and would impact shark landings. Consequently, dealers and 
supporting businesses such as bait and tackle suppliers may experience 
minor adverse impacts in the short-term, but since they do not rely 
solely on the shark fishery and buy from and sell to a variety of 
fisheries, the impacts are expected to be neutral in the long-term. The 
changes to quotas would impact fishermen retaining sharks, but the 
changes are small enough that dealers and supporting businesses are 
unlikely to experience impacts from this Alternative Suite. In summary, 
this Alternative Suite is less likely to end overfishing on scalloped 
hammerhead due to catch and misidentification as other hammerheads and 
because of the administrative difficulties in establishing and 
monitoring numerous hammerhead species-specific recreational quotas. 
Additionally, this Alternative Suite may not prevent overfishing on 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks and could increase fishing mortality of 
other sharks as bycatch. Furthermore, while this Alternative Suite 
might have minor adverse socioeconomic impacts, there is the potential 
for more adverse socioeconomic impacts if quotas are exceeded and 
stocks are prevented from rebuilding it may become necessary to 
implement smaller quotas and more strict retention limits. For all 
these reasons, and because of the potential for additional adverse 
socioeconomic impacts if quotas are exceeded, we do not prefer this 
Alternative Suite at this time.
    The last Alternative Suite we considered in this section is 
Alternative Suite A5. Under this Alternative Suite, all commercial and 
recreational shark fisheries, except spiny dogfish, in all regions (the 
Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) would 
close. As a whole, Alternative Suite A5 would have significant 
beneficial ecological impacts in the short- and long-term. Overfishing 
on scalloped hammerhead and Atlantic blacknose sharks would end, and 
rebuilding plan targets would be achieved. By preventing the landing of 
any sharks, except spiny dogfish, in the Atlantic Ocean, including the 
Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, we would affect not only the species 
that are overfished, but all other shark species. This Alternative 
Suite would cause an increase in the number of dead discards of sharks 
that are caught as bycatch in other fisheries because none of those 
sharks could be legally landed. Also, closing the recreational shark 
fishery effectively would create a catch and release requirement for 
all Atlantic sharks, except spiny dogfish, in the recreational fishery 
and all tournaments that have Atlantic shark prize categories. Indirect 
short- and long-term ecological impacts resulting from any of the 
Alternative Suite A5 actions would likely be significantly beneficial. 
These measures could eliminate effort in the Atlantic Ocean, including 
the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, shark fisheries; therefore 
additional impacts to essential fish habitat, predator/prey 
relationships, or protected resources are unlikely. This Alternative 
Suite would likely have direct short- and long-term significant adverse 
socioeconomic impacts because all recreational and commercial shark 
fishing would be prohibited. Indirect short- and long-term 
socioeconomic impacts resulting from this Alternative Suite's actions 
would likely be moderately adverse. The measures in this Alternative 
Suite would shut down the commercial and recreational shark fisheries, 
and dealers and supporting businesses such as bait and tackle suppliers 
would likely be adversely impacted due to decreased shark catches and 
sales. Because other alternatives should meet the objectives of this 
Amendment with less significant adverse socioeconomic impacts, and 
because this Alternative Suite would curtail data collection for future 
stock assessments, we do not prefer this Alternative Suite at this 
time.

Summary of the Alternatives Considered Regarding Pelagic and Bottom 
Longline Effort Modifications/Controls

    Dusky sharks are overfished and continue to experience overfishing, 
even though they have been a prohibited shark species since 2000. 
Therefore, we are considering a number of individually-assessed 
alternatives that would address pelagic and bottom longline fishing 
effort to further reduce

[[Page 70563]]

interactions and fishing mortality of dusky sharks, especially since 
dusky sharks tend to have high at-vessel mortality rates on commercial 
fishing gear. Although these alternatives are mainly targeted at dusky 
sharks, they should also help end overfishing on other shark species 
including scalloped hammerhead sharks and help rebuild other species of 
sharks such as scalloped hammerhead and sandbar sharks. We chose to 
consider the alternatives described in this section because they meet 
the objectives of this rulemaking consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, and other 
requirements.
    Some of the alternatives are based on current time/area closures 
while others would develop additional time/area closures. The first 
time/area closure in the HMS regulations was implemented in the 1999 
FMP with the Northeastern U.S. closure off New Jersey in June to reduce 
bluefin tuna discards. Since then, additional closures have been 
implemented by us and the Regional Fishery Management Councils that 
affect HMS fishermen. The goals of all of the HMS time/area closures 
are to: (1) Maximize the reduction in bycatch; (2) minimize the effects 
of any reduction in the target catch; and (3) consider impacts on non-
target HMS (e.g., bluefin tuna, undersized swordfish) to minimize or 
reduce non-target catch levels, to the extent practicable.
    In looking at time/area closures, we analyzed various fishing data 
using two different methodologies. One methodology is to assume 
redistribution of effort. Under this methodology, fishing effort that 
occurred in an area considered for closure is assumed to move into 
areas that remain open. In other words, we assumed all fishermen would 
continue fishing in an open area for the duration of the closure or 
would sell their permits to other fishermen who would continue fishing 
in the open areas. A second methodology is to assume no redistribution 
of effort. Under this methodology, fishing effort that occurred in an 
area considered for closure is assumed to stop. In other words, we 
assumed all fishermen would stop fishing entirely for the duration of 
the closure rather than fish in an open area. In reality, the impact of 
any particular closure or group of closures is likely to be somewhere 
between the results of these two methodologies as some fishermen will 
continue fishing while other fishermen will move onto different species 
or to other occupations.

C. Summary of the Proposed Individual Alternatives

    We are proposing three Alternatives (Alternatives B3, B5, and B6) 
that would modify pelagic and bottom longline fishing effort. The first 
alternative is Alternative B3. Alternative B3 would identify discrete 
areas in space and time where high dusky shark interactions occurred 
(according to HMS logbook data from 2008-2010), and would prohibit 
pelagic longline fishing in these dusky shark ``hotspot'' areas by all 
U.S. flagged-vessels permitted to fish for HMS. ``Hotspot'' areas were 
identified by using Geographic Information System software to plot the 
location and timing of dusky shark interactions based on latitude and 
longitude coordinates of individual sets made with pelagic longline 
gear between 2008 and 2010. In order to maximize the efficacy of 
hotspot closed areas, areas were selected based on the number and 
concentration of interactions and the ability to delineate a simple 
polygon that would encapsulate these interactions. Discrete, 
identifiable areas with fishing effort that contributed to greater than 
10 dusky shark interactions over the 3-year period were included for 
analysis. Areas with fewer than 10 dusky shark interactions over the 3-
year period were not included because they would not make a significant 
contribution to reducing dusky shark interactions. Furthermore, odd-
shaped or excessively large polygons were avoided in favor of more 
discrete areas for shorter periods of time to avoid significant 
disruptions to fishing activity while ensuring dusky shark interactions 
are reduced. Using this methodology, a total of eight hotspot areas are 
proposed to be closed to pelagic longline fishing.
    In draft Amendment 5, the eight hotspot closed areas are subdivided 
into alternatives B3a through B3h. While draft Amendment 5 looks at the 
impact of each individual hotspot closed area, all of these hotspot 
closed areas are included and proposed under Alternative B3 because 
their cumulative reduction in dusky shark interactions would be 
necessary to assist in reaching reductions in fishing mortality 
recommended by the stock assessment. A summary of the cumulative impact 
of all eight hotspot closed areas is included below. For more details 
regarding the impact of each individual hotspot closed area, please see 
draft Amendment 5.
    The primary goal of the proposed hotspot closed areas for pelagic 
longline gear is to maximize reductions in interactions with dusky 
sharks while minimizing impacts to target species or other bycatch, 
including protected resources. By limiting the size and duration of 
these hotspot closed areas, the Agency is attempting to minimize any 
negative ecological impacts that could occur if fishing effort 
redistributes to adjacent areas. The cumulative impact of combining the 
eight preferred hotspot closed areas for pelagic longline gear under 
Alternative B3 and assuming redistribution of fishing effort would 
reduce the number of dusky shark interactions by 854 dusky sharks. This 
represents a 49-percent reduction in the number of dusky shark 
interactions compared to current levels. If fishing effort were not 
redistributed, dusky shark interactions would be reduced by 55-percent. 
Reducing dusky shark interactions to this extent would result in 
direct, moderate, beneficial long-term ecological benefits for dusky 
shark populations consistent with stock assessment recommendations to 
reduce fishing mortality by 62 percent in all fisheries. Short-term, 
moderate beneficial impacts for dusky sharks are expected as well; 
however, it would take time to see any impacts on the dusky shark 
population.
    The ecological impacts on 34 HMS and non-HMS target species, 
prohibited species, and bycatch depends on the species and whether or 
not interactions increase or decrease after redistribution of fishing 
effort as a result of the eight closures. See draft Amendment 5 for 
tables summarizing the impacts of the proposed closure for these 
individual species, both with and without redistribution of fishing 
effort. Generally, we expect direct, moderate, beneficial, short- and 
long-term ecological impacts for protected sea turtles because after 
redistributing fishing effort to adjacent open areas, interactions with 
sea turtles would decrease by three leatherback and 23 loggerhead sea 
turtles. Given the moderate direct impacts of most species, with the 
exception of dusky sharks, the indirect impacts of Alternative B3 on 
ecosystem function and predator/prey relationships are anticipated to 
be neutral in the short- and long-term.
    These pelagic longline hotspot closed areas are being considered 
along with other measures that would affect the number of dusky shark 
interactions in bottom longline and recreational fisheries, although 
the alternatives are being assessed individually. While Alternative B3 
may not reduce the number of dusky shark interactions in the pelagic 
longline fishery by the 62-percent target outlined in the 2009 stock 
assessment, measures proposed for the bottom longline and recreational 
fisheries may reduce interactions by

[[Page 70564]]

more than 62-percent. Considered together, the target reductions for 
dusky shark interactions outlined in the stock assessment would be 
achieved. Furthermore, in May of 2011, the Agency implemented a 
requirement that pelagic longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico use 
weak hooks in order to minimize bycatch of large, spawning bluefin tuna 
on the spawning grounds. Based on research conducted by the Southeast 
Fisheries Science Center, Mississippi Laboratory, two dusky sharks were 
caught on experimental weak hooks and four dusky sharks were caught on 
the standard (non-weak) hooks. This requirement has direct ecological 
benefits for dusky shark populations in the Gulf of Mexico, and is also 
included in the reduction targets for dusky sharks to end overfishing 
and rebuild the stock. Between 2008 and 2010, logbook reports indicate 
that 133 dusky sharks were discarded in the Gulf of Mexico. The number 
of dusky shark discards is expected to decrease with the implementation 
of weak hooks because larger dusky sharks may be able to straighten the 
hook.
    Implementing the eight time/area hotspot closed areas included in 
Alternative B3 would result in direct, moderate, adverse socioeconomic 
impacts in the short-term on participants in the pelagic longline 
fishery. While these impacts may become less adverse in the long-term 
as the pelagic longline fleet adjusts their fishing activities after 
implementation of the closures, the time/area closures would result in 
reduced fishing opportunities in the near-term. In addition to direct 
impacts to vessels owners, operators, and crew members, these time/area 
closures would have minor, adverse indirect impacts in the short- and 
long-term on fish dealers, processors, bait/gear suppliers, and other 
shore-based businesses impacted by reduced fishing opportunities for 
pelagic longline vessel owners in the vicinity of the proposed 
closures. The closures may result in indirect social impacts ranging 
from disruption of local fishing communities to relocation of vessels 
and homeports, loss of crew, increased time at sea, and other social 
hardships stemming from further reducing fishing opportunities in the 
vicinity of the respective closures. Overall, the proposed time/area 
closures in Alternative B3 would reduce annual revenues by $385,423 per 
year and would impact 72 unique vessels that have fished in these 
hotspot closed areas between 2008 and 2010.
    In addition to Alternative B3, we are also proposing Alternative 
B5, which would modify the timing of the existing mid-Atlantic shark 
time/area closure from January 1 through July 31 to December 15 through 
July 15. In other words, this alternative would modify the timing of 
the existing mid-Atlantic shark time/area closure by two weeks. The 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Shark Plan closes state 
waters in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey from May 15 
through July 15 every year to protect nursery areas during pupping 
season. The purpose of Alternative B5 is to ensure that the end date of 
the closure coincides with the season opening dates in the Atlantic 
States Marine Fisheries Commission Shark Plan (i.e., July 15) while 
maintaining the total length of the closure, and to address requests 
from the State of North Carolina to revisit this time/area closure in 
regards to impacts to that one state. The State of North Carolina has 
made several requests, both formally and informally, since 2008 for the 
Agency to reconsider the timing of the end date of the mid Atlantic 
Shark Closed Area because North Carolina feels the current opening of 
July 31 disadvantages its fishermen, contrary to National Standard 4, 
compared to other states in the region. Thus, North Carolina would like 
to have Federal waters available to its fishermen on July 15, 
consistent with the ASMFC Shark Plan and other states near it. These 
comments have been received during the public comment period for 
actions that affect the shark fishery. The dimensions of the closure 
would remain the same and only the start and end dates of the closure 
would change.
    The mid-Atlantic closed area was implemented to reduce bycatch of 
dusky sharks, along with neonate and juvenile sandbar sharks. 
Alternative B5 would result in direct and indirect, neutral, short- and 
long-term ecological benefits for both dusky and sandbar shark stocks 
as the closure area timing would be shifted by 15 days and should not 
have a significant impact on fishing effort with bottom longline gear 
in this area. Fishing effort for sharks in this area would continue to 
be impacted by the timing of the Federal shark season for LCS, which in 
recent years, has not opened until July. This alternative would not 
affect the rebuilding plans for dusky and sandbar sharks and would have 
neutral impacts on protected resources because the duration of the 
closure is not affected, while the timing of the closure is affected 
(15 days). Direct, neutral, short- and long-term ecological impacts for 
protected resources are expected. Given the neutral impacts on most 
species, the indirect impacts of Alternative B5 on ecosystem function 
and predator/prey relationships are also anticipated to be neutral in 
the short- and long-term.
    Alternative B5 is anticipated to have direct, minor, beneficial 
short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts because fishermen in North 
Carolina would have access to adjacent Federal waters, consistent with 
other shark fisheries in other states and the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission Shark Plan. In the short-term, revenue gain would 
be minor for the 17 directed shark permit and 12 incidental shark 
permit holders along with state-water fishermen that might normally 
fish in the mid-Atlantic closed area. These North Carolina fishermen 
would be able to fish sooner than in previous years, but the adjustment 
to the starting date of the closure would have minor impacts. In the 
past 4 years, the non-sandbar LCS fishery, which primarily uses bottom 
longline gear, has only been open beyond December 15 once. This 
occurred in 2008 when the fishery opened in late July under the current 
fishing regulations. Since then, the non-sandbar LCS fishery has closed 
before December 15. Over the long-term, the economic impact would be 
minor, as the fishermen are likely to adapt to the new regulations.
    Alternative B5 is preferred because it would result in beneficial 
economic impacts and would not have adverse ecological impacts. This 
alternative was included in response to several requests from the State 
of North Carolina for the Agency to reconsider the timing of the end 
date of the mid-Atlantic Shark Closed Area because North Carolina feels 
the current opening of July 31 disadvantages its fishermen, contrary to 
National Standard 4, compared to other states in the region. Thus, 
North Carolina would like to have Federal waters available to its 
fishermen on July 15, consistent with the ASMFC Shark Plan and other 
states near it. These comments have been received in writing during the 
public comment period for actions that affect the shark fishery. The 
dimensions of the closure would remain the same and only the start and 
end dates of the closure would change. It is not expected to have any 
impacts to the rebuilding plans for dusky or sandbar sharks because 
overall fishing effort (and fishing mortality) would still be regulated 
by quotas and retention limits for target species.
    The last effort-control proposed alternative is alternative B6. 
This alternative would modify the existing bottom longline shark 
research fishery to reduce dusky shark interactions by 62 percent, at a 
minimum, while still allowing for shark biological and catch

[[Page 70565]]

rate data to be collected. In 2008, we implemented a shark research 
fishery that allowed fishermen to target and retain sandbar sharks to 
maintain the commercial fishery time series and to obtain biological 
information for stock assessments. Fishermen participating in the shark 
research fishery are generally targeting sandbar sharks, and can catch 
dusky sharks as bycatch. A total of 450 dusky sharks were caught during 
shark research fishery trips from 2008 through 2011 with 263 being 
discarded dead. We need to reduce the bycatch of dusky sharks in the 
shark research fishery to ensure that the dusky rebuilding plan target 
is achieved. Measures considered to reduce dusky shark interactions, 
include, but are not limited to: Limitations on soak time, limits on 
the number of hooks deployed per set, prohibiting participants from 
deploying bottom longline gear at times and in areas where elevated 
levels of dusky shark interactions have been observed, and/or stopping 
the shark research fishery, or a specific vessel in the fishery, for 
the year if a certain number of dusky shark interactions is reached. 
Reduction in dusky shark interactions may need to be greater than 62 
percent in the shark research fishery if reductions in other fisheries 
(i.e., pelagic longline and recreational) do not reach their targets.
    There are a several options we could use to reduce dusky shark 
mortality in this fishery. Based on preliminary data, we would have to 
limit soak times to approximately 4 hours to reduce dusky shark 
mortality by 50 percent. Another way to reduce dusky shark mortality 
would be to limit the number of hooks deployed per set. Decreasing the 
number of hooks and limiting the soak time would decrease the mortality 
and possible interaction with dusky sharks. In addition, we have 
noticed certain areas where a large number of dusky sharks have been 
caught (i.e., the mid-Atlantic shark bottom longline closed area). 
Fishing in these locations resulted in 71 percent of the dusky shark 
dead discards from 2008 through 2011. We could prohibit participants 
from deploying bottom longline gear at times and/or in areas where 
elevated levels of dusky shark interactions have been observed. Another 
potential way to decrease dead discards of dusky sharks would be to 
implement a bycatch cap for dusky shark interactions in the shark 
research fishery. The potential ramifications of a dusky shark bycatch 
cap could limit the fishing opportunities to collect data for the shark 
research fishery if the bycatch cap is reached.
    Alternative B6 would have direct, moderate, beneficial ecological 
impacts for dusky sharks in the short- and long-term. Indirect, minor 
beneficial impacts would be expected as a result of limiting soak time 
because of increased post-release survival rates of sharks, and 
teleosts in the short- and long-term. The potential changes in the 
shark research fishery are targeted to reduce dusky shark dead 
discards, but the possible modifications would benefit all sharks. 
Limiting soak time, decreasing the number of hooks per set, restricting 
fishing areas, or reducing overall fishing effort by restricting 
participation in the research fishery would have minor, indirect 
beneficial ecological impacts. However, extensive modifications to the 
shark research fishery could become so restricting in the view of 
fishery participants that participation decreases and valuable data 
from the shark research fishery could be lost. Direct, neutral, short- 
and long-term ecological impacts for protected resources are expected. 
Given the neutral to minor beneficial ecological impacts on most 
species, with the exception of dusky sharks, the indirect impacts of 
Alternative B6 on ecosystem function and predator/prey relationships 
are also anticipated to be neutral in the short- and long-term.
    Alternative B6 could result in direct, minor adverse socioeconomic 
impacts in the short-term for fishermen participating in the shark 
research fishery because of additional restrictions placed on 
participating vessels. Long-term impacts are not anticipated because 
the pool of applicants and those selected for participation in the 
shark research fishery changes on an annual basis. Fishermen 
participating in the research fishery are targeting sandbar sharks; 
however, dusky sharks are often caught as bycatch when targeting 
sandbar sharks. These measures could change the way that the shark 
research fishery operates, which could result in direct, short-term, 
minor adverse socioeconomic impacts. However, it is anticipated that 
vessels will continue to want to participate in the shark research 
fishery because these vessels have the exclusive privilege of being 
able to target and harvest sandbar sharks, a high-fin-value species. 
There is a possibility that these measures would help sandbar sharks 
rebuild more quickly and increase commercial fisheries opportunities in 
the future. Indirect impacts in the short-term would be minor and 
adverse due to reduced revenues for fish dealers and other support 
industries that may occur if fishing effort is curtailed in the shark 
research fishery.
    An objective of this rulemaking is to reduce fishing mortality of 
dusky sharks. Alternative B6 is preferred because it would result in 
beneficial ecological impacts by reducing the number of dusky shark 
interactions that occur on bottom longline gear. Since the majority of 
the interactions with dusky sharks and bottom longline gear occur in 
the shark research fishery, it is important that modifications in this 
fishery that reduce interactions with dusky sharks by vessels targeting 
sandbar sharks. Economic impacts are expected to be minor and adverse 
as a result of reduced soak time, limiting the number of hooks deployed 
per set, or preventing fishermen from fishing in areas with elevated 
densities of sandbar sharks in order to reduce the potential for dusky 
shark interactions.

D. Summary of the Other Individual Alternatives Considered

    In addition to proposed alternatives B3, B5, and B6, we considered 
four other alternatives, including Alternative B1, the status quo or No 
Action Alternative; Alternative B2, which would extend the existing 
Charleston Bump time/area closure through May (Feb. 1 through May 31) 
and prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear by all U.S. flagged-
vessels permitted to fish for HMS in this area; Alternative B4, which 
would implement bycatch caps on dusky shark interactions in hotspot 
areas identified for closure in Alternative B3; and Alternative B7, 
which would prohibit the use of pelagic and bottom longline gear in HMS 
fisheries in all areas to enhance rebuilding of overfished dusky 
sharks, as well as other overfished shark species (sharks would still 
be able to be retained recreationally and commercially with gillnets).
    Alternative B1, the No Action Alternative, would maintain all 
existing time/area closures for pelagic and bottom longline fishermen. 
The pelagic longline fishery for Atlantic HMS primarily targets 
swordfish, yellowfin tuna, and bigeye tuna in various areas and 
seasons. Secondary target species include dolphin, albacore tuna, and, 
to a lesser degree, sharks, among other species. Although this gear can 
be modified (e.g., depth of set, hook type, hook size, bait, etc.) to 
target swordfish, tunas, or sharks, it is generally a multi-species 
fishery. These vessel operators are opportunistic, switching gear style 
and making subtle changes to target the best available economic 
opportunity of each individual trip. Pelagic longline gear sometimes 
attracts and hooks non-target finfish with little or no commercial 
value, as well as species that cannot be retained by commercial 
fishermen due to regulations, such as

[[Page 70566]]

billfish. Pelagic longline gear may also interact with protected 
species such as marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. As of 
October 2011, there were 242 vessels that could use pelagic longline to 
catch HMS. The effectiveness of existing pelagic longline time/area 
closures in reducing bycatch has been evaluated on an annual basis 
since 2006 for the HMS Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report. 
In the 2011 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report, we examined 
the combined effects of the individual time/area closures and gear 
restrictions, comparing the reported catch and discards from 2005 
through 2010 to the averages for 1997 through 1999, throughout the 
entire U.S. Atlantic fishery. Overall effort, expressed as the number 
of hooks reported per set, declined by 27.6 percent during 2005 through 
2010 compared to1997 through 1999. We also noted declines in both the 
numbers of kept animals and discards of almost all species examined, 
including swordfish, tunas, sharks, billfish, and sea turtles. The only 
increases from the base period were the numbers of bluefin tuna and 
dolphin kept. The closures also had an impact with respect to the 
number of interactions with bycatch and protected species (turtles).
    The bottom longline fishery targets sharks. Comparing landings 
reported from the South Atlantic region between 2002 through 2004 
(without closed area) with 2005 (with closed area) indicates that 
landings of LCS decreased by 22.3 percent after implementation of the 
mid-Atlantic shark closed area. Landings of sandbar sharks in the South 
Atlantic region decreased by 26.7 percent in 2005 compared to 2002-
2004, which could have been a result of the mid-Atlantic shark closed 
area. In addition, observer data from 1994 to 2004 (i.e., before the 
implementation of the closed area) indicate that there have been five 
loggerhead sea turtles observed caught on bottom longline gear in the 
vicinity of the mid-Atlantic shark closed area, two of which were 
released alive. Therefore, maintaining the mid-Atlantic closed area 
under Alternative B1 may maintain reductions in sea turtle interactions 
with sea turtles and bottom longline gear when compared to pre-closure 
levels, and, therefore have positive ecological impacts for protected 
resources.
    Despite the ecological benefits of the existing pelagic and bottom 
longline time/area closures, dusky sharks continue to experience 
overfishing, and additional measures to reduce interactions and 
mortality of dusky sharks in HMS fisheries are necessary based on the 
most recent assessment. Maintaining the existing time/area closures, 
and not implementing additional closures, would result in direct, 
minor, adverse, short-term ecological impacts for dusky sharks. These 
impacts would likely become moderate and/or significant as existing 
interaction rates for dusky sharks would continue to exacerbate 
overfishing, thus inhibiting the probability that dusky shark 
populations would rebuild by 2099. The direct and indirect impacts on 
other species, both HMS and non-HMS target species, bycatch, and 
protected resources, are expected to be neutral in the short- and long-
term because the existing time/area closures would be maintained. Given 
the minor direct impacts of most species, including dusky sharks, we 
expect the indirect impacts to ecosystem function and predator/prey 
relationships as a result of Alternative B1 to be neutral in the short- 
and long-term.
    Maintaining the existing pelagic and bottom longline closures and 
not implementing additional time/area closures, as proposed in this 
rulemaking, would have direct, neutral, short-term economic impacts. 
Vessels would continue to operate subject to existing regulations, 
including time/area closures, therefore no new economic impacts would 
be associated with maintaining the status quo. However, in the long-
term, if additional measures to prevent overfishing of dusky sharks and 
allow populations to rebuild were implemented, including time/area 
closures, minor to moderate adverse economic impacts could be 
experienced by participants in the pelagic and bottom longline 
fisheries.
    In addition to direct impacts to vessels owners, operators, and 
crew members, this alternative would have also have neutral indirect 
impacts in the short- and long-term on fish dealers, processors, bait/
gear suppliers, and other shore-based businesses impacted by fishing 
opportunities for pelagic and bottom longline vessels. Maintaining the 
status quo would also result in neutral impacts on local fishing 
communities because it would not modify the existing time/area closures 
or require that vessels relocate from homeports, have longer trips at 
sea, and other social hardships that stem from further reducing fishing 
opportunities for Atlantic HMS vessels.
    Alternative B1, the No Action Alternative, is not preferred because 
maintaining the status quo would not reduce dusky shark fishing 
mortality by 62 percent, consistent with the stock assessment 
recommendations. Although the economic impacts of maintaining the 
status quo would be largely neutral, the adverse ecological impacts are 
unacceptable and inconsistent with the objectives of this rulemaking, 
specifically, to implement ``stand-alone measures to reduce shark 
fishing mortality to rebuild overfished stocks and end overfishing.''
    Alternative B2 would extend the Charleston Bump time/area closure 
through the month of May. This alternative would result in direct, 
moderate, beneficial ecological impacts for dusky sharks. In the short-
term, these impacts may be minor compared to the long-term where 
impacts may increase to ``moderate'' because the benefits of reducing 
interactions with individual dusky sharks may take several years to 
affect the dusky shark population. However, the ecological impacts on 
numerous HMS and non-HMS target species, prohibited species, and other 
bycatch depends on the species and whether or not interactions increase 
or decrease after redistribution of fishing effort from the closed area 
to adjacent open areas in the Charleston Bump. The direct ecological 
impacts of closing the Charleston Bump during the month of May would 
have minor beneficial impacts in the short- and long-term for protected 
resources because interactions with leatherback and loggerhead sea 
turtles would decrease by one turtle per species.
    Additionally, Alternative B2 would result in direct, moderate, 
adverse short- and long-term economic impacts. On average from 2008 to 
2010, 27 vessels fished in the area that would be closed. However, all 
pelagic longline vessels could potentially be affected by reduced 
fishing opportunities. Overall, the annual average reduction in 
revenues as a result of this closure would be $385,887 (fishery-wide), 
after adjusting for redistribution of effort into remaining open areas 
of the South Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area. Vessels fishing 
in this area during the month of May are primarily targeting swordfish 
and dolphin, and, to a lesser extent, wahoo and yellowfin tuna. 
Reductions of 46 percent (-$356,001) and 12 percent (-$148,447) for 
swordfish and dolphin, respectively, would be expected on a regional 
basis after fishing effort is redistributed to remaining open areas of 
the South Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area. Wahoo revenues 
would decrease by 78 percent regionally (-$7,434) with redistribution 
of fishing effort. Redistributing fishing effort to remaining open 
areas of the South Atlantic Bight would increase interactions and 
revenues from bluefin tuna (+$32,758), yellowfin tuna

[[Page 70567]]

(+$60,831), and bigeye tuna (+$23,111). While most pelagic longline 
vessels do not target sharks, revenues from sharks (predominately from 
shortfin mako sharks) would increase by $9,442.
    Alternative B2 would extend an existing three month time/area 
closure for pelagic longline vessels in the Charleston Bump region for 
an additional month, which would impose limits on regional fishing 
opportunities. In addition to direct impacts to vessels owners, 
operators, and crew members, this alternative would have minor, adverse 
indirect impacts in the short- and long-term on fish dealers, 
processors, bait/gear suppliers, and other shore-based businesses in 
the vicinity of the closure. Impacts would be more pronounced in the 
vicinity of the proposed closure because of the size and duration of 
the closure because regional vessel owners would have to travel further 
to fish in open areas; however, pelagic longline vessels from other 
areas that have traditionally fished in the proposed closure would also 
experience adverse economic impacts. The closure may result in numerous 
indirect social impacts ranging from disruption of local fishing 
communities to relocation of vessels and homeports, loss of crew, 
increased time at sea, and other social hardships stemming from further 
reducing fishing opportunities in the Charleston Bump region.
    Alternative B2 is not preferred because Alternative B3 meets the 
Amendment's objectives and Alternative B2 would result in adverse 
economic impacts compared to Alternative B3. Alternative B3 includes a 
sub alternative (Alternative B3a) that would close a portion of the 
area encapsulated in Alternative B2 where the majority of the dusky 
shark interactions occur but would not close the entire Charleston 
Bump. The objective of this rulemaking is to reduce fishing mortality 
of dusky sharks, and Alternative B2 would reduce dusky shark 
interactions by an additional nine fish, compared to Alternative B3a. 
However, interactions with some other species would increase (tiger 
sharks, hammerhead sharks, sandbar sharks, bluefin tuna, and blue 
marlin). On balance, Alternative B2 is not selected and Alternative B3 
is preferred because Alternative B3a provides ecological benefits that 
meet the Amendment's objectives while mitigating economic impacts.
    Alternative B4 would implement bycatch caps on dusky shark 
interactions in hotspot areas identified for closure in Alternatives 
B3. Under this alternative, fishermen could fish in hotspot areas until 
a specified number of dusky shark interactions occur. If vessel owners 
are selected for observer coverage and an observer is available, these 
vessels would be able to fish in hotspot areas within statistical 
reporting areas for which they had been selected. Vessel operators 
would be able to fish outside of an area for which they had been 
selected but they would not be able to fish within any hotspot areas in 
other statistical reporting areas. This alternative would not 
completely close the hotspot areas and fishing would still be allowed, 
with 100-percent observer coverage. The number of dusky shark 
interactions allowed in hotspot areas would be set at 10 percent of the 
estimated 3-year reduction in dusky shark interactions by closing each 
hotspot area and accounting for redistribution of effort. Once observed 
interactions with dusky sharks meet the 10-percent threshold for a 
particular hotspot area, then that area would be closed for the 
remainder of the 3-year period. Any overharvests in excess of the 
bycatch cap would be accounted for in the subsequent 3-year period.
    The ecological impacts of hotspot area closures in Alternative B4 
would be similar to those described for the proposed hotspot closed 
areas in Alternative B3. Overall, for dusky sharks, this alternative 
would also have moderate, direct beneficial impacts for dusky sharks. 
In the short-term, these benefits may be somewhat reduced compared to 
the long-term because the benefits of reducing interactions with 
individual dusky sharks may take several years to affect the dusky 
shark population. Interactions with the 34 HMS and non-HMS target 
species, prohibited species, and bycatch, analyzed in Alternative B3 
could be increased or decreased by 10-percent compared to completely 
closing the area to fishing because vessels would be able to fish in 
these areas (with an observer) until the 10 percent bycatch cap for 
dusky sharks was reached. However, because vessels would have to be 
selected for observer coverage and have an observer onboard to fish in 
these areas, overall fishing effort and how vessels fish in these 
hotspot areas would be affected. It is very likely that fishing effort 
would be reduced considerably in the hotspot areas, especially compared 
to the status quo, because only a limited number of vessels could gain 
access in the hotspot area every year subject to observer availability. 
Furthermore, if a bycatch cap were implemented, vessels may change 
fishing practices in order to reduce the likelihood of a dusky shark 
interaction. In the past, fishermen may not have had any incentive to 
avoid dusky sharks. If bycatch caps were implemented, interactions with 
dusky sharks in excess of the cap would close the area for up to 3 
years, in which case fishermen may change fishing behavior to minimize 
the likelihood of catching a dusky shark. Fishermen may deploy ``feeler 
sets'' (shorter sets in length with fewer hooks that are shorter in 
duration compared to other sets) in order to ascertain whether dusky 
sharks are in the vicinity. Avoiding water of a certain temperature, 
shorter soak times, and changes to hook and bait configurations also 
may be employed to try to avoid dusky sharks.
    Implementing bycatch caps in conjunction with the proposed hotspot 
closed described in Alternative B3 would result in direct, minor 
adverse socioeconomic impacts in the short- and long-term consistent 
with the social and economic impacts described for each of the hotspot 
closed areas included in Alternative B3. The direct economic impacts of 
Alternative B4 would be less adverse in the short-term than 
implementing the proposed hotspot closed areas because bycatch caps 
would allow a limited amount of fishing to continue within the hotspot 
area until a bycatch cap was reached. The exact economic impacts of 
implementing bycatch caps would depend on the number of vessels 
authorized to fish in the hotspot areas (vessels selected for observer 
coverage and carrying an observer) on an annual basis and the number of 
trips that occur within each hotspot area before the bycatch cap is 
met. After the cap is met, economic impacts would be more pronounced 
and consistent with impacts of Alternative B3, because the hotspot area 
would close for the remainder of the 3-year period.
    Alternative B4 is not preferred because it would result in 
additional challenges for pelagic longline observers. Relative to 
target catch and incidentally retained pelagic sharks, interactions 
with dusky sharks are a rare event, making positive identification 
difficult without bringing the fish onboard. Furthermore, if and when 
vessel operators and crew interact with a prohibited species, their 
goal is to cut the line and release the fish in a manner that maximizes 
the probability of survival, therefore observers may not have the time 
and viewing opportunities necessary to identify the sharks with 
absolute certainty. Pelagic longline vessels typically use longer 
gangions and have a higher freeboard than other vessels, which also 
hinders an observer's ability to get an adequate view of the shark to 
ensure that it is a dusky shark and not another

[[Page 70568]]

Carcharhinid shark (e.g., sandbar or silky sharks are commonly confused 
with dusky sharks). Assuming that all unidentified Carcharhinid sharks 
are dusky sharks may alleviate this concern to a degree; however, we 
prefer implementation of the hotspot closed areas described in 
Alternative B3, without bycatch caps, at this time.
    Alternative B7 would prohibit the use of pelagic longline and 
bottom longline gear in all HMS fisheries. Prohibiting the use of 
pelagic longline gears would have direct, significant beneficial 
ecological impacts on target and non-target HMS, prohibited species, 
and bycatch in the short- and long-term. The species-specific 
ecological impacts on 34 HMS and non-HMS target species, prohibited 
species, and other bycatch depends on the species' life history, 
population status, and interaction rates in the pelagic longline 
fishery. Of the alternatives considered, this alternative would have 
the most beneficial ecological impacts for dusky sharks because the 
number of interactions would be reduced by 586 sharks per year. The 
number of harvested and discarded swordfish would decrease by 48,926 
fish per year. Yellowfin tuna harvested would decrease by 35,757 fish 
per year. Blue and white marlin discards would also decrease by 
prohibiting the use of pelagic longline gear by 734 and 779 fish per 
year, respectively. Bluefin tuna kept and discarded 1,853 fish per 
year. Interactions with loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles would 
decrease by 162 and 70 turtles per year, respectively. Interactions 
with pelagic sharks, prohibited sharks, and LCS would all be decreased 
substantially.
    Prohibiting the use of bottom longline gear--which is primarily 
used to target LCS in HMS fisheries--would have direct, significant, 
and beneficial ecological impacts on dusky sharks. Indirect, 
significant, beneficial impacts on HMS and non-HMS target species 
(primarily LCS), non-target HMS, and protected species in the short- 
and long-term are also expected. The majority of LCS are caught on 
bottom longline gear. In 2010, approximately 73 percent of LCS were 
caught on bottom longline gear. The species-specific ecological impacts 
on HMS and non-HMS target species, prohibited species, and other 
bycatch depends on the species' life history, population status, and 
interaction rates in the bottom longline fishery. Observers are onboard 
for 100 percent of the trips targeting sandbars in the shark research 
fishery and for 2-3 percent of the trips outside the shark research 
fishery. Prohibiting bottom longline gear and closing the shark 
research fishery would decrease the number of dusky shark interactions 
because dusky sharks are predominately caught in the bottom longline 
fishery by vessels targeting sandbar sharks. Between 2008 and 2010, 
there were 325 observed interactions with dusky sharks in the shark 
research fishery.
    Closing the pelagic and bottom longline fisheries would have 
indirect, minor negative ecological impacts because these fisheries are 
the primary source of fishery dependent data. These data are critical 
to scientific understanding of the species that the fisheries interact 
with, and the basis of stock assessments for many target and bycatch 
species frequently encountered. Closing these fisheries would eliminate 
the logbooks submitted by longline vessel operators and remove the 
Agency's ability to deploy observers on longline vessels. Observer 
programs for the pelagic and bottom longline fishery, administered by 
the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, rely on observers for tagging 
studies, collecting biological samples, and for enhancing understanding 
on the life history and ecology of living marine resources. Closing the 
pelagic and bottom longline fisheries would result in direct, 
significant adverse economic impacts in the short- and long-term for 
longline vessel owners, operators, and crew. In 2010, there were 242 
tuna longline permits (pelagic longline) and 217 shark directed permit 
holders (bottom longline) that would be affected. In 2010, the pelagic 
and bottom longline fisheries had revenues of $27,026,120, which 
equates to approximately 70 percent of the total revenues for all 
commercial HMS fisheries.
    In addition to direct impacts to vessels owners, operators, and 
crew members, this alternative would have significant, adverse indirect 
impacts in the short- and long-term on fish dealers, processors, bait/
gear suppliers, and other shore-based businesses in the vicinity of the 
fishing ports impacted by reduced fishing opportunities for longline 
vessel owners. Prohibiting the use of longline gear would result in 
significant, indirect social impacts ranging from disruption of local 
fishing communities to relocation of vessels and homeports, loss of 
crew, increased time at sea, and other social hardships stemming from 
further reducing fishing opportunities for HMS participants. The states 
with the most tuna permit holders are Massachusetts (31.5 percent), 
North Carolina (12.9 percent), Maine (10.2 percent), New Jersey (7.0 
percent), and New York (6.4 percent). The states with the most 
swordfish permit holders are Florida (32.4 percent), New Jersey (13.9 
percent), Louisiana (11.9 percent), Massachusetts (9.1 percent), and 
New York (8.0 percent). The states with the majority of shark directed 
permit holders include Florida (62 percent), New Jersey (11 percent), 
and North Carolina (7 percent).
    Alternative B7 would result in ecological benefits for the 34 
species considered in this analysis because prohibiting bottom longline 
and pelagic longline gear would eliminate a significant source of 
fishing mortality for these species. However, the economic impacts 
stemming from prohibiting of these gears would also be significant. 
While an objective of this rulemaking is to reduce fishing mortality of 
dusky sharks and this alternative would meet this goal, we do not 
prefer this alternative at this time because this objective can be 
achieved via implementation of other measures, as described above.

Request for Comments

    We are requesting comments on the alternatives and analyses 
described in this proposed rule and in the draft Amendment 5. Comments 
on this proposed rule may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov, 
mail, or fax. Comments may also be submitted at a public hearing (see 
Public Hearings and Special Accommodations below). We solicit comments 
on this proposed rule by February 12, 2013 (see DATES and ADDRESSES).
    We will announce the dates and locations of public hearings in a 
future Federal Register notice. Additionally, we have requested to 
present a summary of the draft amendment and this proposed rule to the 
five Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils (the New England, 
Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Fishery 
Management Councils) and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries 
Commissions during the public comment period. Please consult the 
Councils' and Commissions' fall meeting notices for times and 
locations.
    We are also requesting comments on specific items related to the 
alternatives to clarify sections of the regulatory text or in analyzing 
potential impacts of the alternatives. Specifically, we request 
comments on:
    1. Monitoring dusky shark bycatch caps. We are seeking public 
comment on how to administer monitoring of dusky shark bycatch caps 
with limited additional observer program resources. One alternative 
that we are considering would implement dusky shark bycatch caps on 
vessels fishing with pelagic longline gear. This alternative would 
allow pelagic longline vessels limited

[[Page 70569]]

access to high dusky shark interaction areas while limiting the number 
of dusky shark interactions that could occur in these areas. Once the 
dusky shark bycatch cap for an area is reached, that area would close 
until the end of the 3-year bycatch cap period (see Alternative B4 
above). To implement this alternative, we would need an appropriate 
level of monitoring and accuracy to ensure the mortality rate of dusky 
sharks, as determined by the stock assessment and this amendment, is 
not exceeded. However, additional funding sources to provide increased 
observer coverage to monitor dusky bycatch cap areas are unlikely, and 
we are looking for comments on how to monitor these areas if this 
alternative is implemented. Options that we are exploring range from 
allowing access only to vessels that have been selected for pelagic 
longline observer program coverage under its current selection process 
and when they are on a trip with an observer on board, to establishing 
other monitoring programs, such as an industry-funded observer program, 
or the use of electronic monitoring technology (e.g., video 
monitoring).
    2. The name ``aggregated LCS.'' We are seeking public comment on 
what to name the reconfigured grouping of sharks that would continue to 
be managed collectively in the remainder of what is currently the LCS 
complex for quota monitoring purposes. When we began managing sharks, 
we grouped sharks for management purposes into three species complexes: 
large coastal, small coastal, and pelagic sharks. Over time, as a 
result of numerous species-specific stock assessments and increasing 
requests for species-specific management, we have begun managing a 
number of species separately and have removed those species from the 
original LCS complex. In the draft Amendment 5 and this proposed rule, 
we use the name ``aggregated LCS.'' However, other names may exist that 
are more descriptive or appropriate and that could help avoid confusion 
in the fishery as the groupings are reconfigured.
    3. Suggestions for improving angler identification of shark species 
and reducing dusky shark mortality in the recreational fishery. We are 
looking for comments and suggestions on how to improve angler 
identification of the different shark species. Many shark species are 
similar looking, particularly to recreational anglers who may not see 
sharks on a regular basis. This difficulty in identifying sharks 
correctly has resulted in recreational shark management measures that 
try to group all sharks together (e.g., the recreational retention 
limit of one shark per vessel per trip). However, these measures have 
not been effective for some species, such as dusky sharks, which are 
prohibited but look similar enough to other species that some anglers 
land them in error. In the draft Amendment 5 and this proposed rule, we 
propose increasing outreach to anglers and have suggested a companion 
to the current shark placard that would describe the characteristics of 
sharks that cannot be landed recreationally. We are looking for 
comments and suggestions on additional methods we can use to provide 
recreational anglers, particularly those that rarely fish for sharks, 
information on how to identify sharks and comply with the regulations. 
We are also looking for comments on additional approaches that could 
reduce dusky shark mortality in the recreational fishery to help meet 
the rebuilding targets of the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 21 
stock assessment. Because dusky sharks are prohibited from recreational 
retention, we are proposing enhancing outreach and education efforts 
along with increasing the recreational minimum size from 4.5 feet fork 
length to 8 feet fork length to reach the rebuilding target, but 
acknowledge that there may be other approaches that could assist in 
reaching that target while also resulting in fewer changes to the way 
the recreational fishery currently operates.
    4. Stowing longline gear to transit closed areas. We are looking 
for comments on the proposed change that would allow longline fishermen 
to stow gear and transit closed areas. There are currently a number of 
time/area closures for pelagic and bottom longline fishermen that have 
commercial swordfish and/or shark limited access permits. The 
regulations do not provide these fishermen the ability to stow their 
gear and transit the areas. Instead, fishermen must go around the areas 
to remain in compliance with the regulations. Among other things, this 
restriction has raised safety-at-sea concerns and could increase the 
economic cost of fishing by requiring fishermen to spend more time at 
sea and use more fuel. Over the years, we have heard from fishermen 
that they should be allowed to transit the closed areas if the 
hydraulics are disconnected from the mainline and drum. However, we 
have not implemented that in lieu of a stowage requirement because of 
concerns that the hydraulics are easily reconnected and, therefore, 
disconnecting them does not effectively render the gear unavailable for 
use. In this proposed rule, we propose language similar to the language 
used in Sec.  622.34 and Sec.  648.23 that would allow fishermen to 
transit the closed areas if they remove and stow the gangions, hooks, 
and buoys from the mainline and drum. The hooks could not be baited. We 
are seeking comments on whether this language is appropriate, if 
following those requirements is possible on bottom and pelagic longline 
vessels, and if disconnecting the hydraulics is a feasible option to 
consider.

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, ATCA, and other applicable law, subject to 
further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    We prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for this 
rule that discusses the impact on the environment that would result 
from this rule. A copy of the EIS is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). The Notice of Availability of the EIS is publishing in the 
Federal Register on the same day as this proposed rule. A summary of 
the impacts of the alternatives considered is described above.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule would require recreational fishermen who are not 
fishing in a tournament to report all landings of hammerhead sharks. If 
finalized, this requirement would be considered a collection-of-
information requirement and would be subject to review and approval by 
OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). Because we are currently 
in the process of renewing the existing non-tournament recreational 
reporting requirement for billfish, swordfish, and bluefin tuna and 
cannot make changes while in the renewal process, we have not yet 
submitted this collection-of-information to OMB for approval. If we 
finalize this permitting requirement, we would submit an application 
amending the existing non-tournament recreational reporting collection-
of-information to OMB for approval and would delay implementation of 
that portion of the rule pending approval.
    Public comment is sought regarding: whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the

[[Page 70570]]

information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden 
estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the 
collection of information, including through the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send 
comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information 
to (enter office name) at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to, a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, 
would have on small entities. 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 RFA, the purpose of 
this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, to 
rebuild and end overfishing of certain species of sharks, as 
appropriate. As described earlier in the preamble of this proposed rule 
and in Chapter 1 of the draft Amendment 5, based on the results of the 
Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 21 stock assessments for 
sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks, and a published stock assessment 
for scalloped hammerhead sharks, we have determined that sandbar, 
dusky, scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose sharks are 
overfished and that dusky, scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose 
sharks are experiencing overfishing. In addition, the overfishing and 
overfished status of the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark stock is 
unknown, and the results of the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark stock 
assessment are to be incorporated into this amendment as appropriate.
    In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the RFA, the objectives of 
this proposed rulemaking are to provide for the sustainable management 
of shark species under authority of the Secretary consistent with the 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other statutes which may 
apply to such management, including the Endangered Species Act, Marine 
Mammal Protection Act, and Atlantic Tunas Convention Act. As described 
earlier in the preamble of this proposed rule and in Chapter 1 of the 
draft Amendment 5, the management objectives of the proposed 
regulations will be to amend the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP to achieve 
the following: end overfishing and achieve optimum yield for dusky, 
scalloped hammerhead, and Atlantic blacknose sharks; implement a 
rebuilding plan for scalloped hammerhead and Atlantic blacknose sharks 
to ensure that fishing mortality levels for both species are maintained 
at or below levels that would result in a 70 percent probability of 
rebuilding in the timeframe recommended by the assessments; modify the 
current rebuilding plan for dusky sharks to ensure that fishing 
mortality levels for dusky sharks are maintained at or below levels 
that would result in a 70 percent probability of rebuilding in the 
timeframe recommended by the assessment; maintain the rebuilding plan 
for sandbar sharks to ensure 70 percent probability of rebuilding in 
the timeframe recommended by the assessment; and achieve optimum yield 
and provide an opportunity for the sustainable harvest of Gulf of 
Mexico blacknose, Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, and other sharks, as 
appropriate.
    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Agencies to provide an 
estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. 
The Small Business Administration has defined a ``small'' fishing 
entity as one with average annual receipts of less than $4.0 million; a 
small charter/party boat entity is one with average annual receipts of 
less than $6.5 million; a small wholesale dealer as one with 100 or 
fewer employees; and a small seafood processor as one with 500 or fewer 
employees. Under these standards, we consider all Atlantic HMS permit 
holders subject to this rulemaking to be small entities.
    The proposed rule would apply to the 479 commercial shark permit 
holders in the Atlantic shark fishery based on an analysis of permit 
holders in October 2011. Of these permit holders, 217 have directed 
shark permits and 262 hold incidental shark permits. Not all permit 
holders are active in the fishery in any given year. We estimate that 
between 2008 and 2011, approximately 169 vessels with directed shark 
permits and 121 vessels with incidental shark permits landed sharks. 
The hotspot closed area alternatives also impact pelagic longline 
vessels. Based on the number of Tuna Longline permit holders, we 
estimate that there are 242 longline vessels with HMS permits that 
could potentially be impacted by the proposed hotspot closed areas. Of 
those pelagic longline vessels, 116 actively fished in 2011.
    The recreational measures proposed would also impact HMS Angling 
category and HMS Charter/Headboat category permit holders. In general, 
the HMS Charter/Headboat category permit holders can be regarded as 
small businesses, while HMS Angling category permits are typically 
obtained by individuals who are not considered small entities for 
purposes of the RFA. In 2011, 4,194 vessels obtained HMS Charter/
Headboat category permits. It is unknown what portion of these permit 
holders actively participate in shark fishing or market shark fishing 
services for recreational anglers.
    Under section 603(b)(4) of the RFA, Agencies are required to 
describe any new reporting, record-keeping and other compliance 
requirements. Most of the proposed commercial and recreational measures 
would not introduce any new reporting and record-keeping requirements. 
However, Alternative Suite A2 would require hammerhead shark reporting 
through the non-tournament reporting system. While this reporting 
requirement primarily impacts recreational fishermen, it also impacts 
small entities that operate charter/headboat trips that catch 
hammerhead sharks. The 4,194 charter/headboat permit holders in 2011 
would be required to submit hammerhead shark landings through the non-
tournament reporting system. Some small portion of those charter/
headboat permit holders, primarily vessels in the Gulf of Mexico or 
South Atlantic targeting sharks, would actually be submitting reports 
because most charter-headboat trips target other HMS species and not 
hammerhead sharks.
    Under section 603(b)(5) of the RFA, Agencies must identify, to the 
extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, dealers, and managers 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. The new regulations proposed to be 
implemented

[[Page 70571]]

do not 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 summarized below and in Amendment 5.
    One of the requirements of an IRFA is 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. Additionally, the RFA (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 the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and ESA, we 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. Under the third category, ``use of performance rather than 
design standards,'' we consider Alternative B4 addressing dusky shark 
bycatch caps in the pelagic longline fishery, to be a performance 
standard rather than a design standard. It establishes performance 
levels for pelagic longline vessels for avoiding interactions with 
dusky sharks, and only triggers closures of hotspot areas if those 
performance levels are exceeded. As described below, we analyzed 
several different alternatives in this proposed rulemaking and provide 
the rationale for identifying the preferred alternative to achieve the 
desired objective.
    In this rulemaking, we considered two different categories of 
issues to address shark management measures where each issue had its 
own range of alternatives that would meet the objectives of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. The first 
category (Alternative Suites A1-A5) covers five alternative suites that 
address various shark quotas and total allowable catch. The second 
category of alternatives (Alternatives B1-B7) involves pelagic longline 
and bottom longline effort modifications, including time/area closures, 
bycatch caps, modification to the existing bottom longline shark 
research fishery, and gear restrictions. The expected economic impacts 
of the different alternatives considered and analyzed are discussed 
below. The potential impacts these alternatives may have on small 
entities have been analyzed and are summarized below. The full IRFA and 
all its analyses can be found in draft Amendment 5. The proposed action 
includes: Alternative Suite A2, Alternative B3, Alternative B5, and 
Alternative B6. The economic impacts that would occur under these 
proposed actions were compared with the other alternatives considered 
to determine if economic impacts to small entities could be minimized 
while still accomplishing the stated objectives of this rule.
    Under the first group of alternatives that address various shark 
quotas and total allowable catches, Alternative Suite A1 (status quo) 
would not change current management of the Atlantic shark fisheries. 
Specifically, for hammerhead sharks, from 2008 through 2011, 
approximately 39 vessels with directed shark permits had hammerhead 
shark landings, while approximately 9 vessels with incidental shark 
permits had hammerhead shark landings in the Atlantic. In the Gulf of 
Mexico, approximately 25 vessels with directed shark permits had 
hammerhead shark landings, while approximately 4 vessels with 
incidental shark permits had hammerhead shark landings. Spread amongst 
the directed and incidental shark permit holders that landed scalloped 
hammerhead in the Atlantic, the average directed shark permit holder 
earned $748 in average annual gross revenues, and the average 
incidental shark permit holder earned $760 in average annual gross 
revenues from scalloped hammerhead shark landings. Spread amongst the 
directed and incidental shark permit holders that landed scalloped 
hammerhead in the Gulf of Mexico, the average directed shark permit 
holder earned $1,363 in average annual gross revenues, and the average 
incidental shark permit holder earned $1,387 in average annual gross 
revenues from scalloped hammerhead shark landings. Scalloped hammerhead 
sharks compose a small portion of total non-sandbar LCS landings; an 
annual average of 7.6 percent of non-sandbar LCS landings are scalloped 
hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic and 4.3 percent on the Gulf of 
Mexico. Scalloped hammerhead sharks are overfished with overfishing 
occurring, and the stock could become increasingly unproductive, 
therefore we do not prefer this alternative at this time.
    For LCS, from 2008 through 2011, approximately 68 vessels with 
directed shark permits had non-sandbar LCS landings, while 
approximately 25 vessels with incidental shark permits had non-sandbar 
LCS landings in the Atlantic. In the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 45 
vessels with directed shark permits had non-sandbar LCS landings, while 
approximately 11 vessels with incidental shark permits had non-sandbar 
LCS landings. It is estimated that these permit holders would be the 
most affected by management measures proposed for non-sandbar LCS. 
Spread amongst the directed and incidental shark permit holders that 
landed non-sandbar LCS in the Atlantic, the average directed shark 
permit holder earned $7,656 in average annual gross revenues, and the 
average incidental shark permit holder earned $7,703 in average annual 
gross revenues from non-sandbar LCS landings. Spread amongst the 
directed and incidental shark permit holders that landed non-sandbar 
LCS, the average directed shark permit holder earned $19,001 in average 
annual gross revenues, and the average incidental shark permit holder 
earned $19,433 in average annual gross revenues from non-sandbar LCS 
landings.
    For Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, from 2008 through 2011, 
approximately 41 vessels with directed shark permits had blacktip shark 
landings, while approximately 4 vessels with incidental shark permits 
had blacktip shark landings in the Gulf of Mexico. Spread amongst the 
directed and incidental shark permit holders that landed blacktip 
shark, the average directed shark permit holder earned $13,861 in 
average annual gross revenues, and the average incidental shark permit 
holder earned $14,051 in average annual gross revenues from blacktip 
shark landings.
    For blacknose sharks, since Amendment 3 to the 2006 HMS FMP was 
implemented in 2010, an average of approximately 25 vessels with 
directed shark permits had blacknose shark landings, while 
approximately 4 vessels with incidental shark permits had blacknose 
shark landings. It is estimated that these permit holders would be the 
most affected by management measures proposed for blacknose sharks. 
Spread amongst the directed and incidental shark permit holders that 
landed blacknose, the average directed shark permit holder earned 
$1,739 in average annual gross revenues, and the average

[[Page 70572]]

incidental shark permit holder earned $222 in average annual gross 
revenues from blacknose shark landings.
    Similarly, for non-blacknose SCS, since Amendment 3 to the 2006 HMS 
FMP was implemented in 2010, an average of approximately 39 vessels 
with directed shark permits had blacknose shark landings, while 
approximately 13 vessels with incidental shark permits had non-
blacknose SCS landings. It is estimated that these permit holders would 
be the most affected by management measures proposed for non-blacknose 
SCS. Spread amongst the directed and incidental shark permit holders 
that landed non-blacknose SCS, the average directed shark permit holder 
earned $13,414 in average annual gross revenues, and the average 
incidental shark permit holder earned $1,677 in average annual gross 
revenues from non-blacknose SCS landings.
    Regarding quota linkages, since Alternative Suite A1 does not 
create any new species or species complex, new quota linkages would be 
unnecessarily. Consequently, there are no additional direct or indirect 
socioeconomic impacts in the short or long-term beyond those discussed 
for scalloped hammerhead, blacktip sharks, non-blacknose SCS, and 
blacknose sharks.
    Regarding recreational measures, under Alternative Suite A1, there 
would be no changes to the existing recreational retention limits for 
all species. Therefore, small entities, such as charter/headboat 
operators and tournaments that target sharks, would not experience any 
change in economic impact under this alternative.
    When taken as a whole, Alternative Suite A1 would likely have 
neutral economic impacts on small entities in the short-term because 
the fisheries would continue to operate as status quo. In the long-
term, it could cause direct minor adverse economic impacts because we 
would need to make to changes to the fishery to address the overfishing 
and overfished stocks. Since Alternative Suite A1 does not address the 
overfished and/or overfishing determination based on recent stock 
assessments, we do not prefer this alternative at this time.
    Alternative Suite A2, the preferred alternative, would establish 
new species complexes by regions, adjust LCS and SCS quotas, link 
appropriate quotas, and increase the shark minimum recreational size to 
96'' FL. Specifically, for scalloped hammerhead sharks, under 
Alternative Suite A2, we would establish an Atlantic and a Gulf of 
Mexico hammerhead shark quota (including scalloped, smooth, and great 
hammerhead sharks). Under those quotas, the reduction in revenue 
fishery-wide would be $809 in the Atlantic and $928 in the Gulf of 
Mexico. Therefore, there would be minimal impact on the annual revenues 
of individual vessels actively involved in the fishery.
    For LCS, Alternative Suite A2 would establish new, separate quotas 
for scalloped hammerhead sharks and Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, 
necessitating removal of these species from the non-sandbar LCS complex 
(which will then be renamed aggregated LCS complex in both the Atlantic 
and Gulf of Mexico). The aggregated LCS quota would be based on average 
annual landings of the remaining species, therefore, those species 
composing the aggregated LCS complex would not experience a change in 
fishing pressure and landings would be capped at recent levels. For 
these reasons, economic impacts to small entities resulting from this 
portion of Alternative Suite A2 are expected to be neutral.
    For Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, this alternative suite's 
proposed blacktip shark action would essentially maintain the current 
fishing levels and is likely to result in neutral economic impacts to 
small entities. We have determined that the Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
shark stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. The 
results of the most recent stock assessment indicate the Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark stock can sustain current fishing levels and should not 
result in any additional impacts to small entities.
    For blacknose sharks, under Alternative Suite A2, we would separate 
blacknose sharks into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions as 
suggested in the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 21 stock 
assessment. These alternatives would decrease the blacknose shark 
landings in each region. Average annual gross revenues for the 
blacknose shark landings for the Atlantic region would decrease from 
$58,122 under the No Action alternative down to $54,854 under 
Alternative Suite A2. We anticipate these directed and incidental shark 
permit holders would experience minor economic impacts as blacknose 
sharks are not the targeted shark species for SCS fishermen. Average 
annual gross revenues for the blacknose shark landings for the Gulf of 
Mexico region would increase from $3,273 under the No Action 
alternative to $5,650 under Alternative Suite A2. We anticipate these 
directed and incidental shark permit holders would experience neutral 
economic impacts since the new Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark quota is 
consistent with current landings. In the short-term, lost revenues 
would be moderate for the 22 directed shark permit and 3 incidental 
shark permit holders that land blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region, 
and the 8 directed shark and the 2 incidental shark permits that land 
blacknose sharks in the Gulf of Mexico.
    For non-blacknose SCS, Alternative Suite A2 would establish 
regional quotas for non-blacknose SCS based on the landings since 
Amendment 3 to the 2006 HMS FMP was implemented in 2010. In the 
Atlantic, an average of approximately 33 vessels with directed shark 
permits had blacknose shark landings, while approximately 10 vessels 
with incidental shark permits had non-blacknose SCS landings. In the 
Gulf of Mexico, an average of approximately 9 vessels with directed 
shark permits had blacknose shark landings, while approximately 3 
vessels with incidental shark permits had non-blacknose SCS landings 
since Amendment 3. Under the Alternative Suite A2, there would be 
neutral economic impacts to directed and incidental shark permit 
holders as the average annual gross revenues from non-blacknose SCS 
landings would be the same as the status quo in the short- and long-
term. Fishermen would be expected to operate in the same manner as the 
status quo in the short-term. However, this alternative suite could 
have minor negative economic impacts on fishermen if fishing effort 
increases for non-blacknose SCS. The fishery has never filled the 
entire quota established for the fishery in 2010, but that could change 
with a smaller regional quota and if fishermen are displaced from other 
fisheries.
    Under Alternative Suite A2, the quota linkages could have short and 
long-term moderate adverse economic impacts. Quota linkages are 
explicitly designed to concurrently close multiple shark quotas, 
regardless of whether all the linked quotas are filled. This provides 
protection from exceeding the quota by incidental capture where a 
directed fishery has been closed because it filled its quota, but it 
could also preclude fishermen from harvesting the entirety of each of 
the linked quotas. A quantitative analysis of the economic impact is 
not possible without comparing the rates of hammerhead shark, blacktip 
shark, and aggregated LCS catch and without knowing the extent to which 
fishermen can avoid hammerhead sharks because. If fisherman are unable 
to sufficiently avoid hammerhead sharks the quotas will likely close 
much sooner, but if they can successfully avoid hammerhead sharks, it 
is likely that

[[Page 70573]]

they will be able to fully utilize the other shark quotas. However, a 
qualitative analysis can provide insight on possible adverse 
socioeconomic impacts. Under Alternative Suite A2, both the hammerhead 
shark and aggregated LCS quotas would close when landings of either 
reaches or is expected to reach 80 percent of the quota. If hammerhead 
shark landings reach 80 percent of the quota, the aggregated LCS 
fishery would close, regardless of what portion of the quota has been 
filled. If the entire aggregate LCS quota has not been harvested, the 
fishery would not realize the full level of revenues possible under the 
established quota. A similar situation could occur in the Gulf of 
Mexico under Alternative Suite A2 where both the hammerhead shark and 
blacktip shark quotas would be linked to the aggregated LCS quota. The 
blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS socioeconomic impacts would be 
the same as the LCS since there would be similar scenarios with the 
quota linkage by species and region. In addition, we would allow 
inseason quota transfer between non-blacknose SCS regions. This would 
have minor beneficial economic impacts for the fishery as the non-
blacknose SCS quota would not be the limiting factor. Consequently, the 
quota linkages proposed under Alternative Suite A2 could have moderate 
adverse economic impacts.
    Under Alternative Suite A2, we would increase the current 
recreational size limit for all authorized shark species to 96 inches 
FL, implement mandatory reporting of landed hammerhead sharks, and 
provide identification guide for all of the prohibition shark species. 
Implementation of these management measures would significantly alter 
the way tournaments and charter vessels operate, or reduce opportunity 
and demand for recreational shark fishing, could create adverse 
economic impacts. However, these measures would help the stocks rebuild 
and possibly increase recreational fisheries opportunities in the 
future.
    When taken as a whole, Alternative Suite A2 would likely have 
direct short and long-term minor adverse economic impacts. These 
impacts would mostly affect fishermen targeting scalloped hammerhead 
and blacknose sharks since the quotas would be reduced. These fishermen 
are likely to adapt to the new regulations by fishing in other 
fisheries, or change their fishing habitats. Recreational management 
measures would increase the size limit and cause fishermen to catch and 
release more sharks. Neutral economic impacts are expected for 
fishermen targeting the aggregated LCS and non-blacknose SCS complexes 
since the new proposed quotas are based on the average landings for 
each species. Furthermore, quota linkages would affect the economic 
impacts based on the fishing rate of each linked shark quota. When we 
compare the economic impacts of Alternative Suite A2 to the other 
alternative suites, this alternative suite would cause fewer impacts 
overall to fishermen. For this reason and the ecological reasons 
previously discussed, we prefer this alternative suite at this time.
    Alternative Suite A3 would establish new species complexes by 
regions, adjust LCS and SCS quotas, prohibit retention of commercial 
blacknose sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, and increase the hammerhead 
shark minimum recreational size to 96'' FL. Specifically, for 
hammerhead sharks, we would remove hammerhead sharks from the non-
sandbar LCS quota and establish a separate hammerhead shark quota for 
the three species of large hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth, and 
great hammerhead sharks), similar to the action proposed under 
Alternative Suite A2. In contrast to Alternative Suite A2, however, the 
hammerhead shark quota under Alternative Suite A3 would not be split 
between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, leaving one hammerhead shark 
quota across both regions. Although this difference could create some 
administrative difficulties, it is unlikely to alter the economic 
impacts from Alternative Suite A2's minor adverse economic impacts. 
Alternative B2 would have split the quota between the two regions based 
on historical landings; therefore, under Alternative Suite A3, a 
similar breakdown of landings would likely occur.
    Non-sandbar LCS complex management measures under Alternative Suite 
A3 are identical to those under Alternative Suite A2. See the LCS 
complex section of Alternative Suite A2 for more details on impacts.
    Alternative Suite A3 would create a separate Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark total allowable catch and commercial quota, by 
increasing the total allowable catch calculated in Alternative Suite A2 
by 30 percent, which is based on the current landings percentage of 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks. This would result in a commercial quota 
of 380.7 mt dw (839,291 lb dw), which is a 48 percent increase from 
average Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark landings from 2008-2011 (256.7 mt 
dw; 565,921 lb dw). This is an increase of $314,376 when compared to 
current landings. From 2008 through 2011, approximately 41 vessels with 
directed shark permits had blacktip shark landings, while approximately 
4 vessels with incidental shark permits had blacktip shark landings in 
the Gulf of Mexico. Spread amongst the directed and incidental shark 
permit holders that landed blacktip shark, the average shark permit 
holder could potentially land up to $6,986 in additional annual revenue 
from Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks.
    The blacknose shark management measures under Alternative Suite A3 
are identical to those under Alternative Suite A2 for the Atlantic 
region. Under Alternative Suite A3, we would prohibit blacknose sharks 
in the commercial and recreational shark fisheries in the Gulf of 
Mexico region and work with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management 
Council to reduce the mortality of blacknose sharks to attain the total 
allowable catch of 11,900 sharks. Currently, the average annual gross 
revenues for blacknose shark landings for the entire commercial fishery 
are $3,273, but would be reduced to $0 under this alternative. Under 
Alternative Suite A3, lost revenues would lead to moderate direct 
adverse economic impacts for the 8 directed shark and the 2 incidental 
shark permits that land blacknose sharks in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Alternative Suite A3 would keep the non-blacknose SCS complex and 
quota as status quo with one regional quota of 221.6 mt dw (488,539 lb 
dw). There would be neutral economic impacts to shark permit holders.
    Under Alternative Suite A3, no quota linkages would be implemented. 
All shark quotas would open and close independently of each other. 
Quota linkages can lead to closures of quotas that are not yet filled 
if quotas of other sharks caught concurrently are closed. If each quota 
opens and closes independently, each quota would have a higher 
likelihood of being filled, allowing for full realization of potential 
revenues. Thus, the lack of quota linkages under this alternative suite 
could lead to minor beneficial economic impacts. However, this could 
result in adverse ecological impacts for overfished shark species.
    Alternative Suite A3 would increase the minimum recreational size 
for all hammerhead sharks (great, smooth, and scalloped) to 78 inches 
FL, provide identification guide for all of the prohibition shark 
species, and prohibit the retention of blacknose sharks in the 
recreational fishery. Therefore, this alternative would likely result 
in minor adverse economic impacts for charter/head boat operators and 
tournaments

[[Page 70574]]

that target hammerhead and blacknose sharks because of the reduced 
incentive to recreationally fish for these species. Increasing the 
recreational size limit for hammerhead sharks would ensure that only 
larger or ``trophy'' sized sharks would be landed.
    When taken as a whole, Alternative Suite A3 would likely have 
moderate adverse economic impacts on small entities. These impacts 
would mostly affect fishermen catching hammerhead and blacknose sharks. 
The hammerhead shark quota would be based on the scalloped hammerhead 
shark total allowable catch and would reduce all hammerhead shark 
landings. The blacknose shark quota in the Atlantic would be reduced, 
while the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark retention would be prohibited. 
Recreational management measures would affect fishermen who catch 
hammerhead sharks since the increased size limit would result in more 
hammerhead sharks having to be released and blacknose sharks as 
blacknose sharks would be prohibited under this alternative suite. In 
addition, no quota linkages would allow fishermen to fully harvest all 
of the quotas. While this alternative suite might have more beneficial 
direct economic impacts than Alternative Suite A2, the ecological 
impacts would be adverse and would not achieve the rebuilding plan 
targets for these stocks.
    Alternative Suite A4 would establish new species complexes by 
regions, adjust LCS and SCS quotas, prohibit retention of commercial 
blacknose sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, link appropriate quotas, and 
establish a species-specific recreational shark quota. Specifically, 
for scalloped hammerhead sharks, Alternative Suite A4 would use the 
scalloped hammerhead shark total allowable catch established in the 
stock assessment to create separate Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico quotas 
applicable to only scalloped hammerheads sharks rather than all three 
large hammerhead sharks as proposed under Alternative Suite A2. The 
proposed quotas in both regions are higher than current landings. 
Therefore, we expect neutral economic impacts. Great and smooth 
hammerhead sharks could continue to be landed at current levels under 
the aggregated LCS quota.
    For LCS, Alternative Suite A4 would establish new aggregated LCS 
quotas in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico using a similar methodology 
to that outlined in Alternative Suite A2, except for one difference. 
While Alternative Suite A2 would calculate each species' contribution 
to total non-sandbar LCS landings using average annual landings between 
2008 and 2011, Alternative Suite A4 would instead calculate each 
species' contribution to total non-sandbar LCS landings using the year 
with the highest annual landings for the complex between 2008 and 2011 
for each species. The year with the highest non-sandbar LCS landings in 
the Atlantic was 2008 and the highest in the Gulf of Mexico was 2011. 
This deviation in method does not substantially change the quotas; 
therefore, economic impacts are unchanged from Alternative Suite A2.
    Alternative Suite A4 would establish a separate Gulf of Mexico 
blacktip shark quota of 1,992.6 mt dw based upon projections produced 
by stock assessment scientists. The quota of 1,992.6 mt dw is more than 
five times the current Gulf of Mexico non-sandbar LCS quota. Ex-vessel 
revenue resulting from this quota could increase by up to $4,427,322 
across the entire Gulf of Mexico blacktip. Spread amongst the 45 
directed and incidental shark permit holders that landed blacktip 
shark, the average shark permit holder could potentially land up to 
$98,385 in additional annual revenue from Gulf of Mexico blacktip 
sharks. However, it is unlikely that this value would be realized. The 
Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be linked to the Gulf of 
Mexico aggregated LCS and scalloped hammerhead shark quotas. All three 
of these quotas would close when one reached, or was expected to reach, 
80 percent of the respective quota. Either the aggregated or scalloped 
hammerhead quota would be likely to be filled before the large blacktip 
quota was filled. Regardless, the increase blacktip quota would allow 
for increased fishing opportunities and positive impacts to small 
entities.
    Under Alternative Suite A4, the mortality of blacknose sharks in 
the Atlantic region will be reduced by at least 61 percent in the 
Atlantic region as recommended in the stock assessment. All of the 
economic impacts resulting from this portion of the alternative suite 
are the same as those analyzed in Alternative Suite A2.
    For the Gulf of Mexico, we would establish a total allowable catch 
of 9,792 blacknose sharks. As described in Alternative Suite A3, we 
would prohibit blacknose sharks in any shark fishery in the Gulf of 
Mexico in order to meet this proposed total allowable catch given the 
blacknose mortality in non-HMS fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. We 
would also work with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to 
reduce bycatch mortality of blacknose sharks in the shrimp trawl and 
reef fish fisheries. The average annual gross revenues for blacknose 
shark landings for the commercial fishery are $3,273, but would be 
reduced to $0 under this alternative. Under Alternative Suite A4, it is 
anticipated that there would be moderate adverse economic impacts. In 
the short-term lost revenues would be moderate for the 8 directed shark 
and the 2 incidental shark permits that land blacknose sharks in the 
Gulf of Mexico. Over the long-term the economic impact would be 
moderate, as the other management measures could be implemented to 
reduce the discards of blacknose sharks.
    For non-sandbar SCS, under Alternative Suite A4, we would establish 
regional quotas for non-blacknose SCS by dividing the current quota in 
half. This alternative would cause significant adverse economic impacts 
for shark fishermen in the Atlantic region. Alternative Suite A4 would 
restrict fishing of non-blacknose in the Atlantic to 244,269.5 lb dw 
and potentially reduce current annual revenue by $253,411. In the Gulf 
of Mexico, this alternative would cause beneficial economic impacts for 
non-blacknose SCS fishery as the quota would be larger than their 
average landings. This larger quota could potentially increase gross 
revenues by $259,157. However, this alternative suite would cause 
adverse impacts on blacknose sharks since current fishing and bycatch 
levels of blacknose sharks could increase. Since Alternative Suite A4 
would not reduce blacknose shark mortality in the Gulf of Mexico and 
decrease the Atlantic non-blacknose SCS fishing levels, we do not 
prefer this alternative at this time.
    Quota linkages under Alternative Suite A4 are nearly identical to 
those under Alternative Suite A2, except that instead of linking the 
hammerhead quotas to the aggregated LCS quota in the Atlantic and Gulf 
of Mexico, the scalloped hammerhead quota would be linked instead. This 
deviation should not change the expected economic impacts. In addition, 
we would link the Atlantic blacknose and non-blacknose SCS quotas and 
Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark and non-blacknose SCS quotas, and allow 
inseason quota transfer between the non-blacknose SCS regions. The 
quota linkages proposed under Alternative Suite A4 would be expected to 
have moderate adverse economic impacts.
    Under Alternative Suite A4, we would establish species-specific 
recreational shark quotas and prohibit the recreational retention of 
blacknose sharks. This alternative would cause short-term neutral 
economic impacts for recreational fishermen as it would restrict 
landings to current levels. In the

[[Page 70575]]

long-term, this alternative could have minor adverse socioeconomic 
impacts if the species-specific recreational shark quotas are exceeded 
and we implement additional management measures. This would have a 
greater effect on tournaments and charter vessels that target sharks.
    Overall, Alternative Suite A4 would likely have direct short and 
long-term minor adverse economic impacts. These impacts would mostly 
affect fishermen catching blacknose sharks. The blacknose shark quota 
in the Atlantic would be reduced, while the Gulf of Mexico blacknose 
shark retention would be prohibited to meet the total allowable catch. 
Recreational management measures would affect fishermen who retain 
sharks since we would implement a species-specific quota for the 
recreational fishery. Neutral economic impacts are expected for 
recreational and commercial fishermen targeting scalloped hammerhead 
sharks, aggregated LCS and non-blacknose SCS. While this alternative 
suite might have minor adverse economic impacts, there is the potential 
for more adverse economic impacts if quotas are exceeded in the future. 
Although this alternative suite would allow for the highest Gulf of 
Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota, it is based on base model 
projections produced by stock assessment scientists after the formal 
stock assessment process. These stock assessment scientists felt that 
the projections had a high degree of uncertainty in the base model used 
to create the projections. Furthermore, these projections were 
developed outside of the standard stock assessment process and were not 
reviewed. In addition to the uncertainty in the model, the blacktip 
shark quota proposed under this alternative suite could lead to 
increased bycatch of other species due to increased fishing effort. For 
all these reasons, and because of the potential for additional adverse 
socioeconomic impacts if quotas are exceeded, we do not prefer this 
alternative suite at this time.
    Alternative Suite A5 would close all commercial and recreational 
shark fisheries. Currently, scalloped hammerhead sharks provide 
fishery-wide revenue of $75,633 (as discussed under Alternative Suite 
A1), which would be lost under this alternative suite. Consequently, 
the scalloped hammerhead portion of Alternative Suite A5 would be 
expected to only have moderate adverse direct economic impacts. Closure 
of the non-sandbar LCS fishery would have significant adverse direct 
economic impacts. Many fishermen rely on the non-sandbar LCS fishery 
for a large portion of annual earnings. A closure of the fishery would 
significantly impact the livelihoods of these fishermen. Currently, the 
non-sandbar LCS fishery provides fishery-wide revenue of $1,781,996 (as 
discussed under Alternative Suite A1), which would be lost under this 
alternative suite. Currently, Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks provide 
fishery-wide revenue of $624,496 (as discussed under Alternative Suite 
A1), which would be lost under this alternative suite and reduce the 
annual revenue of the approximately 45 direct and incidental shark 
permit holders that had blacktip shark landings by $13,878 per permit 
holder. Consequently, the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark portion of 
Alternative Suite A5 would be expected to have significant adverse 
economic impacts. Alternative Suite A5 would close the entire blacknose 
commercial shark fishery, prohibiting the landing of any blacknose 
sharks. This alternative would have significant, adverse, economic 
impacts on fishermen with directed and incidental shark permits that 
fish for blacknose: the 29 directed shark permit holders, and the 4 
incidental shark permit holders that had blacknose shark landings 
during 2008 through 2011. The result would be a loss of average annual 
gross revenues of $35,797 from blacknose shark landings. While this 
alternative could reduce blacknose mortality below the commercial 
allowance required to rebuild blacknose shark stocks, it would also 
drastically reduce non-blacknose SCS landings, and have the largest 
social and economic impacts of all the alternatives considered. This 
action would require fishermen to leave the closed shark fisheries 
altogether. Alternative Suite A5 would close the entire SCS commercial 
shark fishery, prohibiting the landing of any SCS, including finetooth, 
Atlantic sharpnose, and bonnethead. This alternative would have 
significant, adverse, socioeconomic impacts on fishermen with directed 
and incidental shark permits that fish for non-blacknose SCS, the 39 
directed shark permit holders, and the 13 incidental shark permit 
holders that had non-blacknose SCS landings since Amendment 3. The 
result would be a loss of average annual gross revenues of $544,954 
from non-blacknose SCS landings. This action would require fishermen to 
leave the closed shark fisheries altogether. Alternative Suite A5 would 
close all federally managed Atlantic recreational and commercial shark 
fisheries, obviating the need for quota linkages. The quota linkages 
portion of Alternative Suite A5 would likely result in no additional 
economic impacts on small entities. Alternative Suite A5 would have 
direct significant adverse socioeconomic impacts because it would 
prohibit the retention of all sharks for recreational anglers. This 
would have a significant effect on tournaments and charter vessels that 
target sharks. Alternative Suite A5 would likely have significant 
adverse economic impacts because recreational and commercial shark 
fishing in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean would be 
prohibited. Because other alternatives should meet the objectives of 
this Amendment with less significant adverse socioeconomic impacts, we 
do not prefer this alternative suite at this time.
    As explained above, in addition to Alternatives Suites A1 through 
B5, we also considered a second category of alternatives (Alternatives 
B1 through B7) that involve pelagic longline and bottom longline effort 
modifications, including time/area closures, bycatch caps, modification 
to the existing bottom longline shark research fishery, and gear 
restrictions. Alternative B1 is the no action alternative in this group 
and would maintain existing time/area closures and would not implement 
any new time/area closures. Under this alternative, maintaining the 
existing closures and not implementing additional time area closures 
would have neutral, direct economic impacts in the short term. Vessels 
would continue to operate subject to existing regulations, including 
time/area closures, therefore no new economic impacts would be 
associated with maintaining the status quo. However, in the long-term, 
if additional measures to prevent overfishing of dusky sharks and allow 
populations to rebuild were implemented, including time/area closures, 
minor to moderate adverse economic impacts could be experienced by 
participants in the PLL and BLL fisheries.
    Alternative B2 would modify the existing Charleston Bump Pelagic 
Longline time/area closure by extending the timing of the closure 
through May 31 every year. Closing the entire Charleston Bump during 
the month of May would result in direct, moderate adverse economic 
impacts in the short and long-term. On average from 2008 to 2010, 27 
vessels fished in the proposed closure and would be affected. The 
annual average reduction in revenues per affected vessel as a result of 
the closure would be $14,292, after adjusting for redistribution of 
effort into open areas of the South Atlantic Bight Statistical 
reporting area.

[[Page 70576]]

    Alternative B3 would create additional time/area closures based on 
dusky shark interaction hotspot areas. This is the preferred 
alternative and under this alternative, we consider several different 
sub-alternatives, all of which are preferred. Alternative B3a would 
prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in HMS fisheries in a portion 
of the Charleston Bump during the month of May. This sub-alternative 
would result in direct, minor adverse economic impacts in the short and 
long-term, although this would be offset by a potential increase in 
dolphin revenues. On average from 2008 to 2010, 17 vessels fished in 
the proposed closure and would be affected. The annual average 
reduction in revenues per affected vessel as a result of the closure 
would be $1,074, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open 
areas of the Charleston Bump closed area.
    Alternative B3b would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in the vicinity of the Cape Hatteras Special Research/
Hatteras Shelf Area during the month of May. This sub-alternative would 
result in direct, minor adverse economic impacts in the short and long-
term. On average from 2008 to 2010, 10 vessels fished in the proposed 
closure during that month and would be affected. The annual average 
reduction in revenues per affected vessel as a result of the closure 
would be $2,982, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open 
areas of the Mid Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3c would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in the vicinity of the Cape Hatteras Special Research/
Hatteras Shelf Area during the month of June. This sub-alternative 
would result in direct, minor adverse economic impacts in the short and 
long-term. On average from 2008 to 2010, 11 vessels fished in the 
proposed closure and would be affected. The annual average reduction in 
revenues per affected vessel as a result of the closure would be 
$2,559, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open areas of 
the Mid Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3d would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in the vicinity of the Cape Hatteras Special Research/
Hatteras Shelf Area during the month of November. This sub-alternative 
would result in direct, minor adverse economic impacts in the short and 
long-term. On average from 2008 to 2010, 9 vessels fished in the 
proposed closure and would be affected. The annual average reduction in 
revenues per affected vessel as a result of the closure would be 
$4,177, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open areas of 
the Mid Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3e would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in three distinct closures in the vicinity of the Mid 
Atlantic Bight Canyons during the month of October. This sub-
alternative would result in neutral direct ecological impacts in the 
short and long-term. On average from 2008 to 2010, 24 vessels fished in 
the proposed closure and would be affected. The annual average increase 
in revenues per affected vessel as a result of the closure would be 
+$5,707, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open areas 
of the Mid Atlantic Bight Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3f would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in an area in the vicinity of the existing Northeastern 
closed area during the month of July. This sub-alternative would result 
in direct, moderate adverse economic impacts in the short term becoming 
minor in the long-term as fishing vessels adjust to fishing in 
different areas during the proposed closure. On average from 2008 to 
2010, 15 vessels fished in the proposed closure and would be affected. 
The annual average reduction in revenues per vessel as a result of the 
closure would be -$12,518 after adjusting for redistribution of effort 
into open areas of the Northeast Coastal Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3g would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in an area in the vicinity of the existing Northeastern 
closed area during the month of August. This sub-alternative would 
result in direct, moderate adverse economic impacts in the short term 
becoming minor in the long-term as fishing vessels adjust to fishing in 
different areas during the proposed closure. On average from 2008 to 
2010, 15 vessels fished in the proposed closure and would be affected. 
The annual average reduction in revenues per affected vessel as a 
result of the closure would be -$7,557, after adjusting for 
redistribution of effort into open areas of the Northeast Coastal 
Statistical reporting area.
    Alternative B3h would prohibit the use of pelagic longline gear in 
HMS fisheries in a portion of the Charleston Bump during the month of 
November. This sub-alternative would result in direct, moderate adverse 
economic impacts in the short-term becoming minor in the long-term as 
fishing vessels adjust to fishing in different areas during the 
proposed closure. On average from 2008 to 2010, 12 vessels fished in 
the proposed closure and would be affected. The annual average 
reduction in revenues per vessel as a result of the closure would be 
$8,954, after adjusting for redistribution of effort into open areas of 
the Charleston Bump area.
    Under Alternative B4, we would implement dusky shark bycatch caps 
in the pelagic longline fishery. Implementing bycatch caps in 
conjunction with the proposed time/area closures described in 
Alternative B3 would result in direct, minor economic impacts in the 
short and long-term consistent with the economic impacts described for 
each of the hotspot closed areas included in Alternative B3. The 
economic impacts of Alternative B4 would be less adverse in the short-
term than implementing the preferred time/area closures because bycatch 
caps would allow a limited amount of fishing to continue within the 
time/area closures until a bycatch cap was reached. The exact economic 
impacts of implementing bycatch caps would depend on the number of 
vessels authorized to fish in the hotspot areas (vessels selected for 
observer coverage and carrying an observer on an annual basis and the 
number of trips that occur within each hotspot areas before the bycatch 
cap is met. After the cap is met, economic impacts would be more 
pronounced because of the fact that the hotspot area would close for 
the remainder of the three year period.
    Between 2008 and 2010, a total of 72 unique vessels fished in the 
proposed hotspot closed areas. The number of vessels that would be 
authorized to fish in these areas would decrease as a result of 
selecting this alternative, however, a limited number of vessels would 
still be authorized to fish in the hotspot areas with an observer 
therefore the economic impacts of this alternative would be more 
adverse than the status quo (Alternative B1) and less adverse than the 
preferred alternative (Alternative B3).
    Under Alternative B5, we would modify the timing of the existing 
mid-Atlantic shark closed area to December 15 to July 15. This is a 
preferred alternative. Under Alternative B2, we would modify the timing 
of the existing mid-Atlantic shark closed area to coincide with the 
season opening dates in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 
Shark Plan. This is anticipated to have direct, minor, socioeconomic 
impacts in the short- and long-term because fishermen in North Carolina 
would have access to adjacent Federal waters at the same that state 
waters open, consistent with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission Shark Plan. In the short-

[[Page 70577]]

term, revenue gain would be minor for the 17 directed shark permit and 
12 incidental shark permit holders along with state-water fishermen 
that might normally fish in the mid-Atlantic closed area. These North 
Carolina fishermen would be able to fish sooner than in previous years, 
but the adjustment to the starting date of the closure would have very 
minor impacts. In the past four years, the non-sandbar LCS fishery, 
which primarily uses bottom longline gear, has only been open beyond 
December 15th once. This occurred in 2008 when the fishery opened in 
late July under the current fishing regulations. Since then, the non-
sandbar LCS fishery has closed before December 15th. Over the long-
term, the economic impact would be minor, as the fishermen are likely 
to adapt to the new regulations. Because the economic impacts of this 
alternative would have direct, minor economic benefits and neutral 
ecological impacts, we prefer this alternative suite at this time.
    Under Alternative B6, we would modify the existing bottom longline 
shark research fishery to ensure that dusky shark interactions are 
reduced. This alternative is also preferred. Under Alternative B6, we 
would implement measures in the shark research fishery to reduce the 
interactions with dusky sharks. This alternative would result in 
direct, minor adverse socioeconomic impacts in the short and long term 
for fishermen participating in the shark research fishery because of 
additional restrictions placed on vessels participating in the shark 
research fishery, including, but not limited to: Limitations on soak 
time, limits on the number of hooks deployed per set, prohibiting 
participants from deploying bottom longline gear at times and in areas 
where elevated levels of dusky shark interactions have been observed, 
and/or stopping the shark research fishery for the year if a certain 
number of dusky shark interactions is reached. Fishermen participating 
in the research fishery are targeting sandbar sharks; however, dusky 
sharks are often caught as bycatch when targeting sandbar sharks. These 
measures could change the way that the shark research fishery operates, 
which could result in direct, long-term, minor adverse socioeconomic 
impacts. However, it is anticipated that vessels will continue to want 
to participate in the shark research fishery because these vessels have 
the exclusive privilege of being able to target and harvest sandbar 
sharks which are desired because of their high fin value. It is likely 
that these measures would help sandbar sharks rebuild more quickly and 
increase commercial fisheries opportunities in the future. Indirect 
impacts, in the short and long term would be minor and adverse due to 
reduced revenues for fish dealers and other support industries that may 
occur if fishing effort is curtailed in the shark research fishery.
    Alternative B7 would prohibit the use of pelagic longline and 
bottom longline gear in Atlantic HMS fisheries. Closing the pelagic and 
bottom longline fisheries would result in direct, significant adverse 
economic impacts in the short and long-term for longline vessel owners, 
operators, and crew. In 2010, there were 242 tuna longline permits 
(pelagic longline) and 217 shark directed permit holders (bottom 
longline) that would be affected. We estimate that between 2008 and 
2011, approximately 169 vessels with directed shark permits landed 
sharks and 116 pelagic longline vessels made a set in 2011. In 2010, 
the pelagic and bottom longline fisheries had revenues of $27,026,120, 
which equates to approximately 70 percent of the total revenues for all 
commercial HMS fisheries. Assuming these revenues are distributed 
evenly among the 285 active vessels, the estimated annual reduction in 
revenues per vessel would be approximately $94,828. Given that other 
alternatives meet the objectives of this rule at significantly lower 
economic impacts to small entities, this alternative is not preferred.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

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

    Dated: November 14, 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 
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:
    a. Remove the definitions of ``Non-ridgeback large coastal shark,'' 
``Non-sandbar LCS,'' and ``Ridgeback large coastal shark''; and
    b. Add the definitions of ``Atlantic Aggregated LCS,'' ``Canyons 
Hotspot closed area,'' ``Charleston Bump May Hotspot closed area,'' 
``Charleston Bump November Hotspot closed area,'' ``FL (fork length),'' 
``Gulf of Mexico Aggregated LCS,'' ``Hammerhead Shark(s),'' ``Hatteras 
Shelf Hotspot closed area,'' ``Research LCS,'' and ``Southern Georges 
Bank Hotspot closed'' in alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  635.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Atlantic Aggregated LCS means one of the following species, or 
parts thereof, as listed in Table 1 of Appendix A of this part: 
Atlantic blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, silky, spinner, and tiger.
* * * * *
    Canyons Hotspot closed area means a closed area comprised of three 
separate rectangular areas of the Atlantic Ocean. Each of these areas 
is bounded by straight lines connecting the following coordinates in 
the order stated:
    (1) South area: 37[deg] 30' N. Lat., 74[deg] 50' W. Long.; 37[deg] 
30' N. Lat., 74[deg] 20' W. Long.; 36[deg] 30' N. Lat., 74[deg] 20' W. 
Long.; 36[deg] 30' N. Lat., 74[deg] 50' W. Long; 37[deg] 30' N. Lat., 
74[deg] 50' W. Long.
    (2) Middle area: 39[deg] 10' N. Lat., 73[deg] 20' W. Long.; 39[deg] 
10' N. Lat., 72[deg] 40' W. Long.; 38[deg] 40' N. Lat., 72[deg] 40' W. 
Long; 38[deg] 40' N. Lat., 74[deg] 50' W. Long; 39[deg] 10' N. Lat., 
73[deg] 20' W. Long.
    (3) North area: 40[deg] 00' N. Lat., 72[deg] 00' W. Long.; 40[deg] 
00' N. Lat., 70[deg] 30' W. Long.; 39[deg] 30' N. Lat., 70[deg] 30' W. 
Long.; 39[deg] 30' N. Lat., 72[deg] 00' W. Long; 40[deg] 00' N. Lat., 
72[deg] 00' W. Long.
* * * * *
    Charleston Bump May Hotspot closed area means a closed area 
comprised of the rectangular area of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by 
straight lines connecting the following coordinates in the order 
stated: 31[deg]30' N. Lat., 80[deg]00' W. Long.; 31[deg]30' N. Lat., 
78[deg]20' W. Long.; 31[deg]00' N. Lat., 78[deg]20' W. Long.; 
31[deg]00' N. Lat., 80[deg]00' W. Long.; 31[deg]30' N. Lat., 80[deg]00' 
W. Long.
    Charleston Bump November Hotspot closed area means a closed area 
comprised of the polygon area of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by straight 
lines connecting the following coordinates in the order stated: 
31[deg]10' N. Lat., 79[deg]20' W. Long.; 31[deg]10' N. Lat., 79[deg]10' 
W. Long.; 31[deg]20' N. Lat., 79[deg]10' W. Long.; 31[deg]20' N. Lat., 
78[deg]50' W. Long.; 31[deg]00' N. Lat., 78[deg]50' W. Long.; 
31[deg]00' N. Lat., 79[deg]20' W. Long.; 31[deg]10' N. Lat., 79[deg]20' 
W. Long.
* * * * *
    FL (fork length) means the straight line measurement along the 
length of

[[Page 70578]]

the fish from the tip of the upper jaw to the fork of the tail.
* * * * *
    Gulf of Mexico Aggregated LCS means one of the following species, 
or parts thereof, as listed in Table 1 of appendix A of this part: 
bull, lemon, nurse, silky, spinner, and tiger.
* * * * *
    Hammerhead Shark(s) means great, scalloped, and smooth hammerhead 
shark species, or parts thereof, as listed in Table 1 in Appendix A of 
this part.
* * * * *
    Hatteras Shelf Hotspot closed area means a closed area comprised of 
the rectangular area of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by straight lines 
connecting the following coordinates in the area stated: 36[deg]10' N. 
Lat., 75[deg]00' W. Long.; 36[deg]10' N. Lat., 74[deg]40' W. Long.; 
35[deg]10' N. Lat., 74[deg]40' W. Long.; 35[deg]10' N. Lat., 75[deg]00' 
W. Long.; 36[deg]10' N. Lat., 75[deg]00' W. Long.
* * * * *
    Research LCS means one of the species, or part thereof, listed 
under heading A of Table 1 in Appendix A of this part, other than the 
sandbar shark.
* * * * *
    Southern Georges Bank Hotspot closed area means a closed area 
comprised of the parallelogram shaped area of the Atlantic Ocean 
bounded by straight lines connecting the following coordinates in the 
area stated: 40[deg]50' N. Lat., 68[deg]50' W. Long.; 40[deg]50' N. 
Lat., 66[deg]30' W. Long.; 39[deg]40' N. Lat., 67[deg]40' W. Long.; 
39[deg]40' N. Lat., 70[deg]00' W. Long.; 40[deg]50' N. Lat., 68[deg]50' 
W. Long.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  635.5, introductory paragraph (c) and paragraphs (c)(1) 
and (c)(2) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.5  Recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (c) Anglers. All bluefin tuna, billfish, North Atlantic swordfish, 
and hammerhead shark non-tournament landings must be reported as 
specified under paragraphs (c)(1) or (c)(2) of this section, unless an 
alternative recreational catch reporting system has been established as 
specified under paragraph (c)(3) of this section. Tournament landings 
must be reported as specified under paragraph (d) of this section.
    (1) Bluefin tuna. The owner of a vessel permitted, or required to 
be permitted, in the Atlantic HMS Angling or Atlantic HMS Charter/
Headboat category must report all BFT landings under the Angling 
category quota designated at Sec.  635.27(a) through the NMFS automated 
landings reporting system within 24 hours of the landing. Such reports 
may be made by calling 1-888-872-8862 or by submitting the required 
information over the Internet at: www.hmspermits.gov.
    (2) The owner, or the owner's designee, of a vessel permitted, or 
required to be permitted, in the Atlantic HMS Angling or Atlantic HMS 
Charter/Headboat category must report all non-tournament landings of 
Atlantic blue marlin, Atlantic white marlin, roundscale spearfish, and 
Atlantic sailfish, and all non-tournament and non-commercial landings 
of North Atlantic swordfish and hammerhead sharks to NMFS by telephone 
to a number designated by NMFS, or electronically via the internet to 
an internet Web site designated by NMFS, or by other means as specified 
by NMFS, within 24 hours of that landing. For telephone landing 
reports, the owner, or the owner's designee, must provide a contact 
phone number so that a NMFS designee can call the vessel owner, or the 
owner's designee, for follow up questions and to confirm the reported 
landing. Regardless of how submitted, landing reports submitted to NMFS 
are not complete unless the vessel owner, or the owner's designee, has 
received a confirmation number from NMFS or a NMFS designee.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  635.20, paragraphs (a) and (e)(2) are revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  635.20  Size limits.

    (a) General. The CFL will be the sole criterion for determining the 
size and/or size class of whole (head on) Atlantic tunas.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (2) All sharks landed under the recreational retention limits 
specified at Sec.  635.22(c)(2) must be at least 96 inches (243.8 cm) 
FL.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  635.21:
    a. Remove the introductory paragraph; and
    b. Revise introductory paragraph (c), paragraph (c)(1)(i), 
introductory paragraph (c)(2), paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (ii), 
introductory paragraph (c)(5)(iii)(c), introductory paragraph (d), and 
paragraphs (d)(1)(i) and (d)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  635.21  Gear operation and deployment restrictions.

* * * * *
    (c) Pelagic longlines. For purposes of this part, a vessel is 
considered to have pelagic longline gear on board when a power-operated 
longline hauler, a mainline, floats capable of supporting the mainline, 
and leaders (gangions) with hooks are on board. Removal of any one of 
these elements constitutes removal of pelagic longline gear. If a 
vessel issued a permit under this part is in a closed area designated 
under paragraph (c)(2) of this section with pelagic longline gear on 
board, it is a rebuttable presumption that fish on board such vessel 
were taken with pelagic longline gear in the closed area except where 
such possession is aboard a vessel transiting a closed area with 
fishing gear stowed appropriately. ``In transit'' or ``transiting'' 
means non-stop progression through an area. Longline gear is stowed 
appropriately as long as all gangions and hooks are disconnected from 
the mainline and are stowed on or below deck, hooks are not baited, and 
all buoys are disconnected from the mainline and drum (buoys may remain 
on deck).
    (1) * * *
    (i) Is in a closed area designated under paragraph (c)(2) of this 
section with bottom longline gear onboard, and is not transiting such 
closed area and does not have with fishing gear stowed appropriately as 
defined above, the vessel may not, at any time, possess or land any 
pelagic species listed in table 2 of appendix A to this part in excess 
of 5 percent, by weight, of the total weight of pelagic and demersal 
species possessed or landed, that are listed in tables 2 and 3 of 
appendix A to this part.
* * * * *
    (2) If pelagic longline gear is on board a vessel issued a permit 
under this part, persons aboard that vessel may not fish or deploy any 
type of fishing gear:
    (i) In the following month-long closures every year: the Charleston 
Bump May Hotspot closed area in May; Northeastern United States closed 
area in June; the Canyons Hotspot closed area in October; the Hatteras 
Shelf Hotspot closed area in November; and the Charleston Bump November 
Hotspot closed area in November;
    (ii) In the following multi-month closures each year: Charleston 
Bump Hotspot closed area from February through April; the Hatteras 
Shelf Hotspot closed area in May and June; and the Southern Georges 
Bank Hotspot closed area in July and August;
* * * * *
    (5) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (C) Hook size, type, and bait. Vessels fishing outside of the 
Northeast Distant gear restricted area, as defined at Sec.  635.2, that 
have pelagic longline gear on board, and that have, or are required to 
have, a limited access swordfish, shark, or tuna longline category 
permit

[[Page 70579]]

for use in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf 
of Mexico, are limited, at all times, to possessing on board and/or 
using only whole finfish and/or squid bait, and the following types and 
sizes of fishing hooks:
* * * * *
    (d) Bottom longlines. For the purposes of this part, a vessel is 
considered to have bottom longline gear on board when a power-operated 
longline hauler, a mainline, weights and/or anchors capable of 
maintaining contact between the mainline and the ocean bottom, and 
leaders (gangions) with hooks are on board. Removal of any one of these 
elements constitutes removal of bottom longline gear. Bottom longline 
vessels may have a limited number of floats and/or high flyers onboard 
for the purposes of marking the location of the gear but removal of 
these floats does not constitute removal of bottom longline gear. If a 
vessel issued a permit under this part is in a closed area designated 
under paragraph (d)(1) of this section with bottom longline gear on 
board, it is a rebuttable presumption that any fish on board such a 
vessel were taken with bottom longline in the closed area except where 
such possession is aboard a vessel transiting a closed area fishing 
gear stowed appropriately. ``In transit'' or ``transiting'' means non-
stop progression through an area. Longline gear is stowed appropriately 
as long as all gangions and hooks are disconnected from the mainline 
and are stowed on or below deck, hooks are not baited, and all buoys 
are disconnected from the mainline and drum (buoys may remain on deck).
    (1) * * *
    (i) The mid-Atlantic shark closed area from December 15 through 
July 15 every year;
* * * * *
    (4) If a vessel issued or required to be issued a permit under this 
part is in a closed area designated under paragraph (d)(1) of this 
section with pelagic longline gear onboard, and is not transiting such 
closed area and does not have with gear stowed appropriately as defined 
above, the vessel may not, at any time, possess or land any demersal 
species listed in Table 3 of Appendix A to this part in excess of 5 
percent, by weight, of the total weight of pelagic and demersal species 
possessed or landed, that are listed in Tables 2 and 3 of Appendix A to 
this part.
* * * * *
    6. In Sec.  635.22, paragraph (c)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.22  Recreational retention limits.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) Only one shark from the following list may be retained per 
vessel per trip, subject to the size limits described in Sec.  
635.20(e)(2): Atlantic blacktip, Gulf of Mexico blacktip, bull, great 
hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, lemon, nurse, 
spinner, tiger, blue, common thresher, oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, 
shortfin mako, Atlantic sharpnose, finetooth, Atlantic blacknose, Gulf 
of Mexico blacknose, and bonnethead.
* * * * *
    7. In Sec.  635.24:
    a. Remove and reserve paragraph (a)(7); and
    b. Revise paragraphs (a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(4)(ii) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  635.24  Commercial retention limits for sharks and swordfish.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a 
directed LAP for sharks and does not have a valid shark research 
permit, or a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued 
a directed LAP for sharks and that has been issued a shark research 
permit but does not have a NMFS-approved observer on board, may retain, 
possess, or land no more than 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per 
vessel per trip if the respective LCS fishery(ies) is open per Sec.  
635.27 and Sec.  635.28. Such persons may not retain, possess, or land 
sandbar sharks.
    (3) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued an 
incidental LAP for sharks and does not have a valid shark research 
permit, or a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued 
an incidental LAP for sharks and that has been issued a valid shark 
research permit but does not have a NMFS-approved observer on board, 
may retain, possess, or land no more than 3 LCS other than sandbar 
sharks per vessel per trip if the respective LCS fishery(ies) is open 
per Sec.  635.27 and Sec.  635.28. Such persons may not retain, 
possess, or land sandbar sharks.
    (4) * * *
    (ii) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a 
directed shark LAP may retain, possess, or land blacknose and non-
blacknose SCS if the respective blacknose and non-blacknose SCS 
fisheries are open per Sec. Sec.  635.27 and 635.28.
* * * * *
    8. In Sec.  635.27, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.27  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (b) Sharks--(1) Commercial quotas. The commercial quotas for sharks 
specified in this section apply to all sharks harvested from the 
management unit, regardless of where harvested. The base quotas listed 
below may be adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Sharks 
taken and landed commercially from state waters, even by fishermen 
without Federal shark permits, must be counted against the commercial 
quota. Any sharks landed commercially as unclassified will be counted 
against the appropriate quota based on the species composition 
calculated from data collected by observers on non-research trips and/
or dealer data. No prohibited sharks, including parts or pieces of 
prohibited sharks, which are listed under heading D of Table 1 of 
Appendix A to this part, may be retained except as authorized under 
Sec.  635.32. For the purposes of this section, the boundary between 
the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined as a line 
beginning on the east coast of Florida at the mainland at 25[deg]20.4' 
N. lat, proceeding due east. Any water and land to the south and west 
of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring 
and setting of quotas, to be within the Gulf of Mexico region. Any 
water and land to the north and east of that boundary, for the purposes 
of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, is considered to be within 
the Atlantic region.
    (i) Sandbar sharks. The base annual commercial quota for sandbar 
sharks is 116.6 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of 
this section, is available only to the owners of commercial shark 
vessels that have been issued a valid shark research permit and that 
have a NMFS-approved observer onboard.
    (ii) Atlantic aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial quota for 
Atlantic aggregated LCS is 168.2 mt dw. The commercial quota for the 
Atlantic aggregated LCS, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, applies only to those species of sharks that were caught in 
the Atlantic region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (iii) Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial 
quota for Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS is 157.3 mt dw. The commercial 
quota for the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS, as adjusted per paragraph 
(b)(2), applies only to those species of sharks that were caught in the 
Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (iv) Research LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Research 
LCS is

[[Page 70580]]

50 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section, 
is available only to the owners of commercial shark vessels that have 
been issued a valid shark research permit and that have a NMFS-approved 
observer onboard.
    (v) Hammerhead sharks. The base annual commercial quota for all 
hammerhead sharks is 52.2 mt dw. This quota is split between the 
regions defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section as follows: 
Atlantic region receives 54.2% of the base quota, except as adjusted 
per paragraph (b)(2) of this section; Gulf of Mexico region receives 
45.8% of the base quota, except as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of 
this section. The commercial quota for Atlantic hammerhead sharks 
applies only to those species of sharks that were caught in the 
Atlantic region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The 
commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks applies only to 
those species of sharks that were caught in the Gulf of Mexico region, 
as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (vi) Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks. The base annual commercial 
quota for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks is 256.7 mt dw. The commercial 
quota for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, as adjusted per paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section, applies only to those species of sharks that 
were caught in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section.
    (vii) Non-blacknose small coastal sharks. The base annual 
commercial quota for non-blacknose small coastal sharks across all 
regions is 221.6 mt dw. This quota is split between the regions defined 
in paragraph (b)(1) of this section as follows: The Atlantic region 
receives 89.3% of the base quota, except as adjusted per paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section; the Gulf of Mexico region receives 10.7% of the 
base quota, except as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section. 
The commercial quota for Atlantic non-blacknose SCS applies only to 
those species of sharks that were caught in the Atlantic region, as 
defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The commercial quota for 
Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS applies only to those species of 
sharks that were caught in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (viii) Atlantic blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial quota 
for Atlantic blacknose sharks is 18 mt dw. The commercial quota for 
Atlantic blacknose sharks, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, applies only to those species of sharks that were caught in 
the Atlantic region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (ix) Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial 
quota for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks is 2 mt dw. The commercial 
quota for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks, as adjusted per paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section, applies only to those species of sharks that 
were caught in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section.
    (x) Pelagic sharks. The base annual commercial quotas for pelagic 
sharks are 273 mt dw for blue sharks, 1.7 mt dw for porbeagle sharks, 
and 488 mt dw for pelagic sharks other than blue sharks or porbeagle 
sharks.
    (2) Annual and inseason adjustments of commercial quotas. NMFS will 
publish in the Federal Register any annual or inseason adjustments to 
the base annual commercial quotas. The base annual quota will not be 
available, and the fishery will not open, until any adjustments are 
published and effective in the Federal Register. Within a fishing year 
or at the start of a fishing year, NMFS may transfer quotas between 
regions of the same species or management group, as appropriate, based 
on the criteria in paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C) of this section.
    (i) Annual overharvest adjustments. Except as noted in this 
paragraph, if any of the available commercial base or adjusted quotas 
as described in this section is exceeded in any fishing year, NMFS will 
deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) from the base quota 
the following fishing year or, depending on the level of 
overharvest(s), NMFS may deduct from the base quota an amount 
equivalent to the overharvest(s) spread over a number of subsequent 
fishing years to a maximum of five years. If the blue shark quota is 
exceeded, NMFS will reduce the annual commercial quota for pelagic 
sharks by the amount that the blue shark quota is exceeded prior to the 
start of the next fishing year or, depending on the level of 
overharvest(s), deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) 
spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five 
years.
    (ii) Annual underharvest adjustments. Except as noted in this 
paragraph, if any of the annual base or adjusted quotas as described in 
this section is not harvested, NMFS may adjust the annual base quota 
depending on the status of the stock or quota group. If a species or a 
specific species within a management group is declared to be 
overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown 
status, NMFS may not adjust the following fishing year's base quota for 
any underharvest, and the following fishing year's quota will be equal 
to the base annual quota. If the species or all species in a management 
group is not declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, 
or to have an unknown status, NMFS may increase the following year's 
base annual quota by an equivalent amount of the underharvest up to 50 
percent above the base annual quota. Except as noted below, 
underharvests are not transferable between regions, species, and/or 
management groups.
    (iii) Determination criteria for inseason and annual quota 
transfers between regions. Inseason and/or annual quota transfers of 
regional quotas between regions may be conducted only for species or 
management groups where the species are the same between regions and 
the quota is split between regions for management purposes and not as a 
result of a stock assessment. Before making any inseason or annual 
quota transfer between regions, NMFS will consider the following 
criteria and other relevant factors:
    (A) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the 
particular management group for biological sampling and monitoring of 
the status of the respective shark species and/or management group.
    (B) The catches of the particular species and/or management group 
quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the 
fishery if no adjustment is made.
    (C) The projected ability of the vessels fishing under the 
particular species and/or management group quota to harvest the 
additional amount of corresponding quota before the end of the fishing 
year.
    (D) Effects of the adjustment on the status of all shark species.
    (E) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of 
the fishery management plan.
    (F) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration 
patterns of the appropriate shark species and/or management group.
    (G) Effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in 
another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion 
of the quota.
    (H) Review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the 
availability of the respective shark species and/or management group on 
the fishing grounds.
    (3) Opening commercial fishing season criteria. NMFS will file with 
the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of the 
opening dates of the shark fishery for each species and management 
group. Before making any decisions, NMFS would consider the following 
criteria and other

[[Page 70581]]

relevant factors in establishing the opening dates:
    (i) The available annual quotas for the current fishing season for 
the different species/complexes based on any over- and/or underharvests 
experienced during the previous commercial shark fishing seasons;
    (ii) Estimated season length based on available quota(s) and 
average weekly catch rates of different species and/or management group 
from the previous years;
    (iii) Length of the season for the different species and/or 
management group in the previous years and whether fishermen were able 
to participate in the fishery in those years;
    (iv) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory 
patterns of the different species/complexes based on scientific and 
fishery information;
    (v) Effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding 
vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable 
opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or 
management quotas;
    (vi) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; and/or,
    (vii) Effects of a delayed opening with regard to fishing 
opportunities in other fisheries.
    (4) Public display and non-specific research quotas. All sharks 
collected under the authority of a display permit or EFP, subject to 
restrictions at Sec.  635.32, will be counted against the following:
    (i) The base annual quota for persons who collect LCS other than 
sandbar, SCS, pelagic sharks, blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, or 
prohibited species under a display permit or EFP is 57.2 mt ww (41.2 mt 
dw).
    (ii) The base annual quota for persons who collect sandbar sharks 
under a display permit is 1.4 mt ww (1 mt dw) and under an EFP is 1.4 
mt ww (1 mt dw).
    (iii) No persons may collect dusky sharks under a display permit. 
Collection of dusky sharks for research under EFPs and/or SRPs may be 
considered on a case by case basis and any associated mortality would 
be deducted from the shark research and display quota.
* * * * *
    9. In Sec.  635.28, the section heading and paragraph (b) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.28  Fishery closures.

* * * * *
    (b) Sharks--(1) Non-linked quotas: If the quota of a species or 
management group is not linked to another species or management group, 
then if quota is available as specified by a publication in the Federal 
Register, the commercial fishery for the shark species management group 
specified in Sec.  635.27(b) will remain open. When NMFS calculates 
that the landings for the shark species management group, as specified 
in Sec.  635.27(b)(1), has reached or is projected to reach 80 percent 
of the available quota as specified in Sec.  635.27(b)(1), NMFS will 
file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice 
of closure for that shark species, shark management group, and/or 
region that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. 
From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, 
via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that 
additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries 
for the shark species or management group are closed, even across 
fishing years.
    (2) Linked Quotas: As specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this 
section, the quotas of some shark species and/or management groups are 
linked to the quotas of other shark species and/or management groups. 
For these linked species and/or management groups, if the quota 
specified in Sec.  635.27(b)(1) is available for all the linked species 
and/or management groups as specified by a publication in the Federal 
Register, the commercial fishery for all linked species and/or 
management groups will remain open. When NMFS calculates that the 
landings for any species and/or management group of a linked group has 
reached or is projected to reach 80 percent of the available quota as 
specified in Sec.  635.27(b)(1), NMFS will file for publication with 
the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for all of the 
species and/or management groups in a linked group that will be 
effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective 
date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication 
of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available 
and the season is reopened, the fishery for all species and/or 
management groups in a linked group is closed, even across fishing 
years.
    (3) The quotas of the following species and/or management groups 
are linked:
    (i) Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic aggregated LCS.
    (ii) Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks, Gulf of Mexico aggregated 
LCS, and Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks.
    (iii) Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS.
    (iv) Gulf of Mexico blacknose and Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS.
    (4) When the fishery for a shark species and/or management group is 
closed, a fishing vessel, issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark 
permit pursuant to Sec.  635.4, may not possess or sell a shark of that 
species and/or management group, except under the conditions specified 
in Sec.  635.22(a) and (c) or if the vessel possesses a valid shark 
research permit under Sec.  635.32, a NMFS-approved observer is 
onboard, and the sandbar and/or Research LCS fishery is open. A shark 
dealer, issued a permit pursuant to Sec.  635.4, may not purchase or 
receive a shark of that species and/or management group from a vessel 
issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, except that a 
permitted shark dealer or processor may possess sharks that were 
harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered, prior to the 
effective date of the closure and were held in storage. Under a closure 
for a shark species group, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to 
Sec.  635.4 may, in accordance with State regulations, purchase or 
receive a shark of that species or management group if the sharks were 
harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that 
fishes only in State waters and that has not been issued a Federal 
Atlantic commercial shark permit, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/
Headboat permit pursuant to Sec.  635.4. Additionally, under a closure 
for a shark species and/or management group, a shark dealer, issued a 
permit pursuant to Sec.  635.4, may purchase or receive a shark of that 
species group if the sandbar and/or Research LCS fishery is open and 
the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered 
from a vessel issued a valid shark research permit (per Sec.  635.32) 
that had a NMFS-approved observer on board during the trip sharks were 
collected.
* * * * *
    10. In Sec.  635.31, paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(4) are revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  635.31  Restrictions on sale and purchase.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) Persons who own or operate a vessel that possesses a shark from 
the management unit may sell such shark only if the vessel has a valid 
commercial shark permit issued under this part. Persons may possess and 
sell a shark only when the fishery for that species, management group, 
and/or region has

[[Page 70582]]

not been closed, as specified in Sec.  635.28(b).
* * * * *
    (4) Only dealers who have a valid shark dealer permit may purchase 
shark from the owner or operator of a fishing vessel. Dealers may 
purchase a shark only from an owner or operator of a vessel who has a 
valid commercial shark permit issued under this part, except that 
dealers may purchase a shark from an owner or operator of a vessel who 
does not have a commercial permit for shark if that vessel fishes 
exclusively in state waters. Dealers may purchase a sandbar shark only 
from an owner or operator of a vessel who has a valid shark research 
permit and who had a NMFS-approved observer onboard the vessel for the 
trip in which the sandbar shark was collected. Dealers may purchase a 
shark from an owner or operator of fishing vessel who has a permit 
issued under this part only when the fishery for that species, 
management group, and/or region has not been closed, as specified in 
Sec.  635.28(b).
* * * * *
    11. In Sec.  635.71, paragraphs (d)(3) and (d)(4) are revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  635.71  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (3) Retain, possess, or land a shark of a species group when the 
fishery for that species, management group, and/or region is closed, as 
specified in Sec.  635.28(b).
    (4) Sell or purchase a shark of a species group when the fishery 
for that species, management group, and/or region is closed, as 
specified in Sec.  635.28(b).
* * * * *
    12. In Appendix A to part 635, Sections A, B, and D of Table 1 are 
revised to read as follows:

Appendix A to Part 635--Species Tables

Table 1 of Appendix A to Part 635--Oceanic Sharks

A. Large Coastal Sharks

Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacktip, Carcharhinus limbatus
Bull, Carcharhinus leucas
Great hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran
Lemon, Negaprion brevirostris
Nurse, Ginglymostoma cirratum
Sandbar, Carcharhinus plumbeus
Scalloped hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini
Silky, Carcharhinus falciformis
Smooth hammerhead, Sphyrna zygaena
Spinner, Carcharhinus brevipinna
Tiger, Galeocerdo cuvier

B. Small Coastal Sharks

Atlantic sharpnose, Rhizoprionodon terraenovae
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacknose, Carcharhinus acronotus
Bonnethead, Sphyrna tiburo
Finetooth, Carcharhinus isodon
* * * * *

D. Prohibited Sharks

Atlantic angel, Squatina dumeril
Basking, Cetorhinus maximus
Bigeye sand tiger, Odontaspis noronhai
Bigeye sixgill, Hexanchus nakamurai
Bigeye thresher, Alopias superciliosus
Bignose, Carcharhinus altimus
Caribbean reef, Carcharhinus perezii
Caribbean sharpnose, Rhizoprionodon porosus
Dusky, Carcharhinus obscurus
Galapagos, Carcharhinus galapagensis
Longfin mako, Isurus paucus
Narrowtooth, Carcharhinus brachyurus
Night, Carcharhinus signatus
Sand tiger, Carcharias taurus
Sevengill, Heptranchias perlo
Sixgill, Hexanchus griseus
Smalltail, Carcharhinus porosus
Whale, Rhincodon typus
White, Carcharodon carcharias
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-28056 Filed 11-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P