[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 56 (Monday, March 24, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 15924-15925]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-06386]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 130214139-3542-02]
RIN 0648-XD201


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries; General Category Fishery

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS closes the General category fishery for large medium and 
giant Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) until the General category reopens on 
June 1, 2014. This action is being taken to prevent any further 
overharvest of the General category January BFT subquota.

DATES: Effective 11:30 p.m., local time, March 21, 2014, through May 
31, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978-
281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635.
    NMFS is required, under Sec.  635.28(a)(1), to file a closure 
notice with the Office of the Federal Register for publication when a 
BFT quota is reached or is projected to be reached. On and after the 
effective date and time of such notification, for the remainder of the 
fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the 
notification, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under that quota 
category is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period 
or until such date as specified in the notice.
    The current General category baseline quota is 435.1 mt, with 23.1 
mt allocated for the January time period. On November 30, 2011, NMFS 
published a final rule to address adjustments to the General and 
Harpoon category regulations. Among other actions, this final rule 
allowed the General category BFT season to remain open from January 1 
until the ``January subquota'' amount is reached, or March 31 
(whichever happens first).
    Based on the best available BFT landings information for the 
General category BFT fishery, NMFS has determined that the General 
category January subquota has been reached. Therefore, through May 31, 
2014, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by 
persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and 
Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat categories (while 
fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on March 21, 
2014. The General category will reopen automatically on June 1, 2014, 
for the June through August subperiod. This action is taken consistent 
with the regulations at Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(1)(iii) and 635.28(a)(1). 
The intent of this closure is to prevent any further overharvest of the 
General category January BFT subquota.
    Fishermen may catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all 
sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and the 
tag-and-release programs at Sec.  635.26. Fishermen are also reminded 
that all BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will 
maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water, 
consistent with requirements at Sec.  635.21(a)(1). For additional 
information on safe handling, see the ``Careful Catch and Release'' 
brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.
    If needed, subsequent General category adjustments will be 
published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the 
Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or 
access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan provide for inseason 
retention limit adjustments and fishery closures to respond to the 
unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the 
migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the 
BFT fishery. The closure of the General category January BFT fishery is 
necessary to prevent any further overharvest of the General category 
January BFT subquota. NMFS provides notification of closures by 
publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who 
have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News

[[Page 15925]]

electronic newsletter, and updating the information posted on the 
Atlantic Tunas Information Line and on hmspermits.noaa.gov.
    These fisheries are currently underway and delaying this action 
would be contrary to the public interest as it could result in 
excessive BFT landings that may result in future potential quota 
reductions for the General category. NMFS must close the General 
category January BFT fishery to prevent the available subquota from 
being exceeded any further. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 
U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(1)(iii) and 
635.28(a)(1), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: March 19, 2014.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-06386 Filed 3-19-14; 4:15 pm]
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