[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 105 (Monday, June 2, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 31227-31228]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-12670]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 130402317-3966-02]
RIN 0648-XD312


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Gulf of Mexico 
Blacktip Shark Fishery

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS is closing the commercial blacktip shark fishery in the 
Gulf of Mexico region. This action is necessary because projections 
indicate that the commercial landings of Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks 
for the 2014 fishing season could reach 80 percent of the available 
commercial quota as of June 3, 2014.

DATES: Commercial Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark fishery is closed 
effective 11:30 p.m. local time June 2, 2014, until the end of the 2014 
fishing season on December 31, 2014, or until and if NMFS announces via 
a notice in the

[[Page 31228]]

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 Sec.  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, on 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 a new quota for aggregated large coastal sharks 
(LCS), hammerhead sharks, and blacktip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico 
region and linked the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS and Gulf of Mexico 
hammerhead shark management groups. Because the blacktip shark quota is 
not linked to either the aggregated LCS or hammerhead shark quotas, it 
was not closed along with the aggregated LCS and hammerhead management 
groups on May 20, 2014 (79 FR 28849; May 20, 2014).
    On November 26, 2013 (78 FR 70500), NMFS announced that the 
commercial Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota for 2014 was 274.3 
metric tons (mt) dressed weight (604,626 lb dw). Dealer reports 
received through May 20, 2014, indicate that 180.5 mt dw or 66 percent 
of the available Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota has been landed. 
Based on projections, NMFS estimates that the 80-percent limit could be 
exceeded by June 3, 2014, or earlier. Accordingly, NMFS is closing the 
blacktip shark fishery in the Gulf of Mexico region as of 11:30 p.m. 
local time June 2, 2014.
    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 blacktip 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 
blacktip 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 blacktip 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 blacktip 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 blacktip 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 harvested 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 
blacktip 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 27, 2014.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-12670 Filed 5-28-14; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P