[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 97 (Monday, May 20, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29331-29332]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11954]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC689


Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; 
Horseshoe Crabs; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit, 2013

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

ACTION: Notification of a proposal to conduct exempted fishing; request 
for comments.

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[[Page 29332]]

SUMMARY: The Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, has made 
a preliminary determination that the subject exempted fishing permit 
(EFP) application submitted by Limuli Laboratories of Cape May Court 
House, NJ, contains all the required information and warrants further 
consideration. The proposed EFP would allow the harvest of up to 10,000 
horseshoe crabs from the Carl N. Shuster Jr. Horseshoe Crab Reserve 
(Reserve) for biomedical purposes and require, as a condition of the 
EFP, the collection of data related to the status of horseshoe crabs 
within the reserve. The Deputy Director has also made a preliminary 
determination that the activities authorized under the EFP would be 
consistent with the goals and objectives of the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Horseshoe Crab Interstate Fisheries 
Management Plan (FMP). However, further review and consultation may be 
necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. 
Therefore, NMFS announces that the Deputy Director proposes to 
recommend that an EFP be issued that would allow up to two commercial 
fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise 
restricted by the regulations promulgated under the Atlantic Coastal 
Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (Atlantic Coastal Act). The EFP 
would allow for an exemption from the Reserve.
    Regulations under the Atlantic Coastal Act require publication of 
this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to 
comment on applications for proposed EFPs.

DATES: Written comments on this action must be received on or before 
June 4, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Emily Menashes, Deputy 
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East-West 
Highway, Room 13362, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Mark the outside of the 
envelope ``Comments on Horseshoe Crab EFP Proposal.'' Comments may also 
be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596. Comments on this notice may also be 
submitted by email to: derek.orner@noaa.gov. Include in the subject 
line of the email comment the following document identifier: 
``Horseshoe Crab EFP Proposal Comments.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Derek Orner, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries, (301) 427-8567.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Limuli Laboratories submitted an application for an EFP dated 
January 9, 2013, to collect up to 10,000 horseshoe crabs for biomedical 
and data collection purposes from the Reserve. The applicant has 
applied for, and received, a similar EFP every year from 2001-2012. The 
current EFP application specifies that: (1) The same methods would be 
used in 2013 that were used in years 2001-2012, (2) at least 15 percent 
of the bled horseshoe crabs would be tagged, and (3) there had not been 
any sighting or capture of marine mammals or endangered species in the 
trawling nets of fishing vessels engaged in the collection of horseshoe 
crabs since 1993. The project submitted by Limuli Laboratories would 
provide morphological data on horseshoe crab catch, would tag a portion 
of the caught horseshoe crabs, and would use the blood from the caught 
horseshoe crabs to manufacture Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL), an 
important health and safety product used for the detection of 
endotoxins. The LAL assay is used by medical professionals, drug 
companies, and pharmacies to detect endotoxins in intravenous 
pharmaceuticals and medical devices that come into contact with human 
blood or spinal fluid.

Result of 2012 EFP

    No horseshoe crabs were collected from the Reserve by the applicant 
during the 2012 season. Thus, no results were submitted. The last year 
in which the applicant actually collected horseshoe crabs authorized 
under an EFP was 2011. Results from 2011 were published in the Federal 
Register on September 10, 2012 (77 FR 55457), and thus are not repeated 
here. Data collected under previous EFPs were supplied to NMFS, the 
Commission and the State of New Jersey.

Proposed 2013 EFP

    Limuli Laboratories proposes to conduct an exempted fishery 
operation using the same means, methods, and seasons proposed/utilized 
during the EFPs in 2001-2012. Limuli proposes to continue to tag at 
least 15 percent of the bled horseshoe crabs as they did in 2011. NMFS 
would require that the following terms and conditions be met for 
issuance and continuation of the EFP for 2013:
    1. Limiting the number of horseshoe crabs collected in the Reserve 
to no more than 500 crabs per day and to a total of no more than 10,000 
crabs per year;
    2. Requiring collections to take place over a total of 
approximately 20 days during the months of July, August, September, 
October, and November. (Horseshoe crabs are readily available in 
harvestable concentrations nearshore earlier in the year, and offshore 
in the Reserve from July through November.);
    3. Requiring that a 5\1/2\ inch (14.0 cm) flounder net be used by 
the vessel to collect the horseshoe crabs. This condition would allow 
for continuation of traditional harvest gear and adds to the 
consistency in the way horseshoe crabs are harvested for data 
collection;
    4. Limiting trawl tow times to 30 minutes as a conservation measure 
to protect sea turtles, which are expected to be migrating through the 
area during the collection period, and are vulnerable to bottom 
trawling;
    5. Requiring that the collected horseshoe crabs be picked up from 
the fishing vessels at docks in the Cape May Area and transported to 
local laboratories, bled for LAL, and released alive the following 
morning into the Lower Delaware Bay; and
    6. Requiring that any turtle take be reported to NMFS, Northeast 
Region, Assistant Regional Administrator of Protected Resources 
Division, within 24 hours of returning from the trip in which the 
incidental take occurred.
    As part of the terms and conditions of the EFP, for all horseshoe 
crabs bled for LAL, NMFS would require that the EFP holder provide data 
on sex ratio and daily harvest. Also, the EFP holder would be required 
to examine at least 200 horseshoe crabs for morphometric data. Terms 
and conditions may be added or amended prior to the issuance of the 
EFP.
    The proposed EFP would exempt two commercial vessels from 
regulations at 50 CFR 697.7(e) and 697.23(f), which prohibit the 
harvest and possession of horseshoe crabs from the Reserve on a vessel 
with a trawl or dredge gear aboard.

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

    Dated: May 15, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-11954 Filed 5-17-13; 8:45 am]
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