[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 213 (Monday, November 4, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 65887-65888]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-26450]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 300

[Docket No. 110620342-1659-03]
RIN 0648-XC922


International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; 2013 Bigeye Tuna 
Longline Fishery Closure in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; fishery closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye 
tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) as a result of the fishery 
reaching the 2013 catch limit of 500 metric tons. This action is 
intended to limit fishing mortality on bigeye tuna caused by

[[Page 65888]]

longline fishing in the EPO, and contribute to the long-term 
conservation of bigeye tuna at levels that support healthy fisheries.

DATES: Effective November 11, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heidi Taylor, NMFS West Coast Region, 
562-980-4039.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pelagic longline fishing in the eastern 
Pacific Ocean is managed, in part, under the Tuna Conventions Act of 
1950 (Act), 16 U.S.C. 951-962. Under the Act, NMFS must publish 
regulations to carry out recommendations of the Inter-American Tropical 
Tuna Commission (IATTC) that have been approved by the Department of 
State (DOS). The United States is a member of the IATTC, which was 
established under the Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-
American Tropical Tuna Commission signed in 1949 (Convention) to 
provide an international arrangement to ensure the effective 
international conservation and management of highly migratory species 
of fish in the Convention Area.
    The Convention Area for this purpose is defined to include the 
waters of the eastern Pacific bounded by the coast of the Americas, the 
50[deg] N. and 50[deg] S. parallels, and the 150[deg] W. meridian. 
Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the 
Act appear at 50 CFR part 300, subpart C. Those regulations implement 
recommendations of the IATTC for the conservation and management of 
highly migratory fish resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
    The IATTC has recommended, and the DOS approved, annual catch 
limits of bigeye tuna for U.S. longline vessels. For calendar year 
2013, the catch and landing of bigeye tuna by longline gear in the 
Convention Area by fishing vessels of the United States that are over 
24 meters in overall length is limited to 500 metric tons (76 FR 68332, 
November 4, 2011, and codified at 50 CFR 300.25).
    NMFS monitored the retained catches of bigeye tuna using logbook 
data submitted by vessel captains and other available information, and 
determined that the 2013 catch limit is expected to be reached on or by 
November 8, 2013. In accordance with 50 CFR 300.25(b), this temporary 
rule serves as advance notification to fishermen, the fishing industry, 
and the public that the U.S. longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the 
Convention Area will be closed starting on November 11, 2013, through 
the end of the 2013 calendar year. The 2014 fishing year is scheduled 
to open on January 1, 2014.
    During the closure, a U.S. fishing vessel over 24 meters in overall 
length may not be used to retain on board, transship, or land bigeye 
tuna captured by longline gear in the Convention Area, except as 
follows:
     Any bigeye tuna already on board a fishing vessel upon the 
effective date of the prohibitions may be retained on board, 
transshipped, and/or landed, to the extent authorized by applicable 
laws and regulations, provided that they are landed within 14 days 
after the prohibitions become effective, that is, by November 18, 2013.
     In the case of a vessel that has declared to NMFS that the 
current trip type is shallow-setting, the 14-day limit is waived, but 
the number of bigeye tuna retained on board, transshipped, or landed 
must not exceed the number on board the vessel upon the effective date 
of the prohibitions, as recorded by the NMFS observer on board the 
vessel.
     Bigeye tuna caught by longline gear used on a vessel of 
the United States over 24 meters in the Convention Area may not be 
transshipped to a fishing vessel unless that fishing vessel is operated 
in compliance with a valid permit issued under Sec.  660.707 or Sec.  
665.801.
     A fishing vessel of the United States over 24 meters, 
other than a vessel for which a declaration has been made to NMFS that 
the current trip is shallow-setting, may not be used to fish in the 
Pacific Ocean using longline gear both inside and outside the 
Convention Area during the same fishing trip, with the exception of a 
fishing trip during which the prohibitions were put into effect.
     If a vessel over 24 meters that is not on a declared 
shallow-set trip is used to fish in the Pacific Ocean using longline 
gear outside the Convention Area, and the vessel enters the Convention 
Area at any time during the same fishing trip, the longline gear on the 
fishing vessel must be stowed in a manner so as not to be readily 
available for fishing. Specifically, the hooks, branch lines, and 
floats must be stowed and not available for immediate use, and any 
power-operated mainline hauler on deck must be covered in such a manner 
that it is not readily available for use.

Classification

    There is good cause to waive prior notice and opportunity for 
public comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). This action is based on 
the best available information and is necessary for the conservation 
and management of bigeye tuna. Compliance with the notice and comment 
requirement would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest, 
since NMFS would be unable to ensure that the 2013 bigeye tuna catch 
limit is not exceeded. The annual catch limit is an important mechanism 
to ensure that the U.S. complies with its international obligations in 
preventing overfishing and managing the fishery at optimum yield. 
Moreover, NMFS previously solicited public comments on the rule that 
established the catch limit (76 FR 68332, November 4, 2011). For the 
same reasons, there is good cause to establish an effective date less 
than 30 days after date of publication of this notice.
    This action is required by Sec.  300.25(b) and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951-962 et seq.

    Dated: October 31, 2013.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-26450 Filed 10-31-13; 4:15 pm]
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