[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 97 (Tuesday, May 20, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 28849-28850]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-11599]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 130402317-3966-02]
RIN 0648-XD281


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Gulf of Mexico 
Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Gulf of Mexico Hammerhead Shark 
Management Groups

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the commercial aggregated large coastal sharks 
(LCS) and hammerhead sharks management groups in the Gulf of Mexico 
region. This action is necessary because the commercial landings of 
Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS for the 2014 fishing season have exceeded 
80 percent of the available commercial quota as of May 13, 2014.

DATES: The commercial Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS and Gulf of Mexico 
hammerhead shark management groups are closed effective 11:30 p.m. 
local time May 20, 2014, until the end of the 2014 fishing season on 
December 31, 2014, or until and if NMFS announces via a notice in the 
Federal Register that additional quota is available and the season is 
reopened.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Alexis Jackson 
301-427-8503; fax 301-713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed 
under the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP), its amendments, and its implementing regulations 
(50 CFR part 635) issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    Under 50 CFR 635.5(b)(1), dealers must electronically submit 
reports on sharks that are first received from a vessel on a weekly 
basis through a NMFS-approved electronic reporting system, received by 
NMFS no later than midnight, local time, of the first Tuesday following 
the end of the reporting week unless the dealer is otherwise notified 
by NMFS. Under Sec.  635.28(b)(2), when NMFS calculates that the 
landings for any species and/or management group of a linked group have 
reached or are projected to reach 80 percent of the available quota, 
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 and if 
NMFS announces, via a notice in the Federal Register, that additional 
quota is available and the season is reopened, the fishery for all 
linked species and/or management groups is closed, even across fishing 
years.
    On July 3, 2013 (78 FR 40318), NMFS announced the final rule for 
Amendment 5a to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, which, among other 
things, established new quotas for aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks 
in the Gulf of Mexico region and linked the Gulf of Mexico aggregated 
LCS and Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark management groups. As a result 
of the quota linkage, when the quota for one management group is 
reached and is closed, the other management group closes at the same 
time. On November 26, 2013 (78 FR 70500), NMFS announced that the 
commercial Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS quota for 2014 was 151.2 
metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) (333,828 lb dw), and the Gulf of 
Mexico hammerhead shark quota was 25.3 mt dw (55,722 lb dw). Dealer 
reports recently received through May 13, 2014, indicate that 124.0 mt 
dw or 82 percent of the available Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS quota 
has been landed, and that 10.7 mt dw or 42 percent of the available 
Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark quota has been landed. Based on these 
dealer reports, NMFS estimates that the 80-percent limit specified for 
a closure notice in the regulations has been exceeded as of May 13, 
2014. Accordingly, NMFS is closing both the commercial aggregated LCS 
and hammerhead management groups in the Gulf of Mexico region as of 
11:30 p.m. local time May 20, 2014. All other shark species or 
management groups that are currently open will remain open, including 
the commercial Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks.
    At Sec.  635.27(b)(1), 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 monitoring and setting 
quotas, to be within the Gulf of Mexico region.
    During the closure, retention of aggregated LCS and hammerhead 
sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region is prohibited for persons fishing 
aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit under 
Sec.  635.4. However, persons aboard a commercially permitted vessel 
that is also properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or 
headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip could fish under the 
recreational retention limits for sharks and ``no sale'' provisions 
(Sec.  635.22(a) and (c)). Similarly, persons aboard a commercially 
permitted vessel that possesses a valid shark research permit under 
Sec.  635.32 and has a NMFS-approved observer onboard may continue to 
harvest and sell aggregated

[[Page 28850]]

LCS and hammerhead sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region pursuant to the 
terms and conditions of the shark research permit.
    During this closure, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 
Sec.  635.4 may not purchase or receive aggregated LCS and/or 
hammerhead sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region from a vessel issued an 
Atlantic Shark Limited Access Permit (LAP), except that a permitted 
shark dealer or processor may possess aggregated LCS and/or hammerhead 
sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region that were harvested, off-loaded, 
and sold, traded, or bartered prior to the effective date of the 
closure and were held in storage consistent with Sec.  635.28(b)(5). 
Additionally, a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess 
aggregated LCS and/or hammerhead sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region 
that were harvested by a vessel issued a valid shark research fishery 
permit per Sec.  635.32 with a NMFS-approved observer onboard during 
the trip the sharks were taken on as long as the LCS research fishery 
quota remains open. Similarly, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant 
to Sec.  635.4 may, in accordance with relevant state regulations, 
purchase or receive aggregated LCS and/or hammerhead sharks in the Gulf 
of Mexico region 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 an Atlantic Shark LAP, HMS Angling permit, or 
HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to Sec.  635.4.

Classification

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that providing prior notice and public 
comment for this action is impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest because the fishery is currently underway and any delay in 
this action would result in overharvest of the quota and be 
inconsistent with management requirements and objectives. Similarly, 
affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this 
action is contrary to the public interest because if the quota is 
exceeded, the stock may be negatively affected and fishermen ultimately 
could experience reductions in the available quota and a lack of 
fishing opportunities in future seasons. For these reasons, the AA also 
finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effective date pursuant 
to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This action is required under Sec.  635.28(b)(2) 
and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: May 15, 2014.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-11599 Filed 5-15-14; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P