[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 129 (Monday, July 7, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38255-38259]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-15773]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 140115049-4528-02]
RIN 0648-XD092


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2014 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Quota Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS establishes 2014 quota specifications for the Atlantic 
bluefin tuna (BFT) fishery. This action is necessary to implement 
binding recommendations of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic 
Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management 
objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Effective August 2, 2014 through December 31, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Supporting documents such as the Environmental Assessments 
and Fishery Management Plans described below may be downloaded from the 
HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are 
available upon request from Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale at the 
telephone number below.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore 
tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as 
``Atlantic tunas'') are managed under the dual authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA. As an active member of ICCAT, the United 
States implements binding ICCAT recommendations. ATCA authorizes the 
Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be 
necessary and appropriate to carry out ICCAT recommendations. The 
authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA 
has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator 
for Fisheries, NMFS.

Background

    NMFS annually implements BFT quota specifications to adjust the 
annual U.S. baseline BFT quota to account for any underharvest or 
overharvest of the adjusted U.S. BFT quota from the prior year.
    In May 2011, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA)/
Regulatory Impact Review/Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for a 
final rule that: (1) Implemented and allocated the U.S. BFT quota 
recommended by ICCAT for 2011 and for 2012 (ICCAT Recommendation 10-
03); (2) adjusted the 2011 U.S. quota and subquotas to account for 
unharvested 2010 quota allowed to be carried forward to 2011, and to 
account for a portion of the estimated 2011 dead discards up front; and 
(3) implemented several other BFT management measures (76 FR 39019, 
July 5, 2011). In that final rule, NMFS implemented the 923.7-mt 
baseline quota consistent with ICCAT Recommendation 10-03 and set the 
domestic BFT fishing category subquotas per the allocation percentages 
established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) and implementing 
regulations (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006). The baseline quota and 
category subquotas are codified and remain effective until changed (for 
instance, if any new ICCAT BFT Total Allowable Catch (TAC) 
recommendation is adopted). NMFS prepared a Supplemental EA for the 
2013 BFT Quota Specifications (78 FR 36685, June 19, 2013) to present 
updated information regarding the affected environment, including 
information from a 2012 ICCAT stock assessment for BFT, among other 
things. ICCAT conducted a stock assessment update in 2013, although the 
results were not substantively different than those of the 2010 and 
2012 assessments, which were analyzed in the May 2011 EA and June 2013 
Supplemental EA.
    In its 2013 recommendation (Recommendation 13-09--Recommendation by 
ICCAT Amending the Supplemental Recommendation by ICCAT concerning the 
Western Atlantic BFT Rebuilding Program), ICCAT recommended a one-year 
rollover of the 1,750-mt TAC. This amount is expected to allow for 
continued stock growth under both the low and high stock recruitment 
scenarios, considering the 2013 ICCAT BFT stock assessment update. The 
annual U.S. baseline quota for 2014 continues to be 923.7 mt, and the 
annual total U.S. quota, including 25 mt to account for bycatch related 
to pelagic longline fisheries in the Northeast Distant gear restricted 
area (NED), continues to be 948.7 mt.
    Until the final specifications for 2014 are effective, the existing 
BFT baseline quota and subquotas continue to apply as codified. (See 
Table 1, second column.) Although the baseline quota is unchanged this 
year because the 2013 ICCAT recommendation included the same TAC as the 
prior recommendation, NMFS is carrying forward underharvest from 2013, 
consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and the ICCAT 
recommendation. Thus, this final action adjusts the quota as 
appropriate and allowable for the 2014 fishing year. Further background 
information, including the need for the 2014 BFT quota specifications, 
was provided in the preamble to the proposed rule (79 FR 18870, April 
4, 2014) and is not repeated here.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    NMFS determines the amount of BFT quota actually available for the 
year by adjusting the ICCAT-recommended baseline BFT quota for 
overharvest or underharvest from the previous fishing year and any 
accounting for dead discards. For the proposed rule, NMFS used a 219.5-
mt estimate as a proxy for potential 2014 dead discards, based on the 
2012 estimate of 205.8 mt for the pelagic longline fishery and the 2013 
observed dead discards of 13.7 mt for the purse seine fishery, because 
the BFT pelagic longline dead discard estimate for 2013 was not yet 
available. The preliminary 2013 pelagic longline dead discard estimate 
of 127.1 mt is now available from the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science 
Center. Adding the

[[Page 38256]]

2013 observed dead discards of 13.7 mt for the purse seine fishery, the 
best available annual estimate of U.S. dead discards that could be 
expected in 2014 is now 140.8 mt. As anticipated and explained to the 
public at the proposed rule stage, NMFS is using the updated total in 
this final rule because it is the best available and most complete 
information NMFS has regarding dead discards.
    Based on preliminary data available as of May 30, 2014, BFT 
landings in 2013 totaled 518.6 mt. Adding the 140.8-mt estimate of dead 
discards results in a preliminary 2013 total catch of 659.4 mt, which 
is 384.2 mt less than the amount of quota (inclusive of dead discards) 
allowed under ICCAT Recommendation 13-09 (i.e., 948.7 mt plus 94.9 mt 
of 2012 underharvest carried forward to 2013, totaling 1,043.6 mt). 
Thus, the underharvest for 2013 is 384.2 mt. ICCAT limits the amount of 
underharvest that may be carried forward from one year to the next to 
no more than 10 percent of a country's total quota, which limits the 
amount of 2013 U.S. underharvest that may be carried forward to 2014 to 
94.9 mt. NMFS anticipated this amount of available underharvest to 
carry forward to 2014 in the proposed rule.
    As anticipated in the proposed rule, for the Longline category, 
NMFS is accounting up front (i.e., at the beginning of the fishing 
year) for half of the expected dead discards for 2014, using the best 
available estimate of dead discards (now the 2013 estimate), and 
deducting that portion directly from the baseline Longline category 
subquota. This is the same approach that NMFS took for the final 2011 
through 2013 BFT quota specifications. Consistent with that approach, 
NMFS proposed to deduct half of the anticipated purse seine vessel dead 
discards from the Purse Seine category subquota up front. NMFS does so 
in the final rule as well after considering the relevant comments and 
the relevant regulatory criteria. Thus, for the Purse Seine category 
NMFS is deducting half of the 2013 observed dead discards (as an 
estimate of potential 2014 dead discards) from the baseline Purse Seine 
category subquota.
    Regarding the unharvested 2013 BFT quota, NMFS had proposed to 
carry 94.9 mt of available underharvest forward to 2014 and apply the 
full 94.9 mt to the Longline category. NMFS stated that any necessary 
adjustments to the 2014 specifications would be made in the final rule 
after considering updated 2013 landings information and the 2013 
pelagic longline dead discard estimate.
    Considering the best available information regarding 2013 landings 
and estimated dead discards, as well as actual 2014 Longline category 
BFT landings to date and domestic management needs for 2014, NMFS is 
finalizing the 2014 BFT specifications as follows: As shown in the 
third column of Table 1, NMFS is accounting for half of the 2013 
pelagic longline dead discard estimate of 127.1 mt (i.e., 63.6 mt) up 
front by deducting that portion of estimated longline discards directly 
from the baseline Longline category subquota of 74.8 mt. NMFS is also 
accounting for half of the 2013 observed purse seine dead discards of 
13.7 mt (6.9 mt) up front by deducting that portion of the discards 
directly from the baseline Purse Seine category subquota of 171.8 mt. 
NMFS has decided in the final rule to provide 6.9 mt of the 2013 
underharvest that can be carried forward to 2014 (i.e., 94.9 mt) to the 
Purse Seine category and provide the remainder (88.0 mt) to the 
Longline category (fourth column). Given the reduction in the pelagic 
longline dead discard estimate from 2012 to 2013, and the associated 
reduction in the deduction from the Longline category to account for 
one half of dead discards up front, NMFS has determined that providing 
6.9 mt of the available underharvest to the Purse Seine category is 
appropriate as it provides the Purse Seine category its baseline 
subquota amount, consistent with NMFS' approach for the past several 
years of maintaining the directed fishing categories at their baseline 
quotas. It also provides the Longline category a reasonable amount of 
quota for 2014 and reduces potential ``regulatory discards'' that may 
otherwise result if closure of the Longline category fishery to BFT 
retention is necessary mid-year, as discussed in the proposed rule.
    Although these final quota specifications adjust the Longline quota 
to an amount greater than its baseline subquota, it is important to 
note that in 2011 and 2013, the adjusted Longline category quota was 
substantially lower than the baseline subquota, and it was necessary to 
close the Longline category fishery to BFT retention in June 2013. The 
Longline category was also closed in June in 2012 when the base quota 
was reached. Landings by the directed handgear categories in 2013 did 
not approach the available quotas for those categories (e.g., 64 
percent, 48 percent, and 72 percent of the General, Harpoon, and 
Angling categories were harvested, respectively). Thus, there is not a 
demonstrated need for NMFS to expand the subquotas for the directed 
handgear categories beyond their base subquotas at this time or to 
provide additional quota to the Reserve category. NMFS will monitor 
landings closely and may take action to transfer quota among 
categories, including the Reserve category, if appropriate, based on 
consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding 
inseason adjustments at Sec.  635.27(a)(8). These criteria include: The 
usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular 
category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the 
stock; effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding and overfishing; 
effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 
fishery management plan; variations in seasonal BFT distribution, 
abundance, or migration patterns; effects of catch rates in one area 
precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity 
to harvest a portion of the category's quota; and review of dealer 
reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of BFT on the 
fishing grounds. In these quota specifications, NMFS is balancing the 
need of the pelagic longline fishery to continue fishing for swordfish 
and Atlantic tunas with the need of directed bluefin fisheries 
participants to receive their base quota.

2014 Quota Specifications

    In this final rule, NMFS deducts half of the 2013 pelagic longline 
dead discard estimate of 127.1 mt directly from the baseline Longline 
category quota of 74.8 mt and applies the 88.0 of the 94.9 mt allowed 
to be carried forward to 2014 to the Longline category, for an adjusted 
Longline subquota of 99.2 mt (i.e., 74.8 -63.6 + 88.0 = 99.2 mt), not 
including the 25-mt allocation set aside by ICCAT for the NED. For the 
Purse Seine category, NMFS deducts half of the 2013 observed dead 
discards (as an estimate of potential 2014 dead discards) from the 
baseline Purse Seine category quota of 171.8 mt and applies 6.9 of the 
94.9 mt allowed to be carried forward to 2014 for an adjusted quota of 
171.8 mt (i.e., 171.8 -6.9 + 6.9 = 171.8 mt). For the handgear 
categories, as well as the Trap category (in which BFT may be caught 
incidentally), NMFS maintains the codified baseline BFT quotas and 
subquotas that were established in July 2011 (76 FR 39019, July 5, 
2011), as proposed.
    Thus, in accordance with ICCAT Recommendation 13-09, the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP allocation scheme for the domestic categories, and 
regulations regarding annual adjustments at Sec.  635.27(a)(10), NMFS 
establishes BFT quota specifications for

[[Page 38257]]

the 2014 fishing year as follows, and as shown in Table 1: General 
category--435.1 mt; Harpoon category--36 mt; Purse Seine category--
171.8 mt; Angling category--182 mt; Longline category--99.2 mt; and 
Trap category--0.9 mt. The Longline category quota of 99.2 mt is 
subdivided as follows: 39.7 mt to pelagic longline vessels landing BFT 
north of 31[deg] N. latitude, and 59.5 mt to pelagic longline vessels 
landing BFT south of 31[deg] N. latitude. NMFS accounts for landings 
under the 25-mt NED allocation separately from other Longline category 
landings. The amount allocated to the Reserve category for inseason 
adjustments, scientific research collection, potential overharvest in 
any category except the Purse Seine category, and potential quota 
transfers, is 23.1 mt.
    As described in the proposed rule, NMFS considers the 
specifications approaches taken in 2011 through 2014 as a transition 
from the method used for 2007 through 2010, as NMFS continues to 
develop Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Among other 
things, Amendment 7 would reallocate BFT quota among categories in a 
way to more accurately reflect annual fishery operations and needs 
while decreasing bycatch in the non-directed fisheries. This amendment 
will address related BFT fishery management issues consistent with the 
need to end overfishing and rebuild the stock, including revisiting 
quota allocations; reducing and accounting for dead discards; adding or 
modifying time/area closures or gear-restricted areas; and improving 
the reporting and monitoring of dead discards and landings in all 
categories. Depending on the management measures implemented in the 
Amendment 7 final rule, the quota specifications process may be 
substantially different in upcoming years. NMFS anticipates publishing 
a final rule to implement Amendment 7 in Fall 2014, with implementation 
dates varying by topic.

                 Table 1--Final 2014 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT) Quotas and Quota Specifications
                                                [In metric tons]
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                                                                         2014 Quota specifications
                                     Baseline allocation  ------------------------------------------------------
                                      (per current ICCAT                        2013
  Category (% share  of baseline     recommendation  and                    underharvest
              quota)                       the 2006         Dead discard      to carry     Adjusted 2014 fishing
                                    consolidated  HMS FMP     deduction      forward to          year quota
                                         allocations)                           2014
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total (100)...................  923.7 \1\............           -70.5           +94.9  948.1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Angling (19.7)....................  182.0................  ..............  ..............  182.0
                                    SUBQUOTAS:                                             SUBQUOTAS:
                                    School--94.9                                           School--94.9
                                     Reserve--17.6.......                                   Reserve--17.6
                                     North--36.5.........                                   North--36.5
                                     South--40.8.........                                   South--40.8
                                    LS/SM--82.9                                            LS/SM--82.9
                                     North--39.1.........                                   North--39.1
                                     South--43.8.........                                   South--43.8
                                    Trophy--4.2                                            Trophy--4.2
                                     North--1.4..........                                   North--1.4
                                     South--2.8..........                                   South--2.8
General (47.1)....................  435.1................  ..............  ..............  435.1
                                    SUBQUOTAS:                                             SUBQUOTAS:
                                    Jan--23.1                                              Jan--23.1
                                    Jun-Aug--217.6.......                                  Jun-Aug--217.6
                                    Sept--115.3..........                                  Sept--115.3
                                    Oct-Nov--56.6........                                  Oct-Nov--56.6
                                    Dec--22.6............                                  Dec--22.6
Harpoon (3.9).....................  36.0.................  ..............  ..............  36.0
Purse Seine (18.6)................  171.8................        -6.9 \2\            +6.9  171.8
Longline (8.1)....................  74.8.................       -63.6 \3\           +88.0  99.2
                                    SUBQUOTAS:                                             SUBQUOTAS:
                                    North (-NED)--29.9...                                  North (-NED)--39.7
                                    NED--25.0 *..........                                  NED--25.0 *
                                    South--44.9..........                                  South--59.5
Trap (0.1)........................  0.9..................  ..............  ..............  0.9
Reserve (2.5).....................  23.1.................  ..............  ..............  23.1
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\1\ 25-mt ICCAT set-aside to account for bycatch of BFT in pelagic longline fisheries in the NED. Not included
  in totals at top of table.
\2\ (\1/2\ of 2013 observed purse seine dead discards of 13.7 mt as estimate for 2014).
\3\ (\1/2\ of 2013 pelagic longline dead discard estimate of 127.1 mt as estimate for 2014).

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received a total of nine written comments to the proposed 
rule, as well as three verbal comments at the HMS Advisory Panel April 
meeting and a public conference call/webinar.
    Few of the comments NMFS received focused specifically on the 
proposed quota specifications. Below, NMFS summarizes and responds to 
all comments made specifically on the proposed rule during the comment 
period. Most of the comments received were outside the scope of this 
rule and are summarized under ``Other Issues'' below.
    Comment 1: Two commenters supported implementing a lower U.S. 
bluefin quota or a quota of zero.
    Response: NMFS is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA 
to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a

[[Page 38258]]

reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota. The 
western Atlantic BFT TAC, which includes the U.S. quota, is expected to 
allow for continued BFT stock growth under both the low and high stock 
recruitment scenarios considered by ICCAT's Standing Committee on 
Research and Statistics and is consistent with ICCAT recommendations, 
ATCA, and domestic and international management objectives.
    The approach used for these final 2014 quota specifications is an 
appropriate continuation of the approach used in 2011 through 2013 as a 
transition from the method used from 2007 through 2010. Changes in 
ICCAT's approach to western BFT management in 2006 (i.e., 
discontinuation of the dead discard allowance, and the associated 
provision that the western Atlantic BFT TAC Catch include dead 
discards) have had implications for NMFS' domestic management of the 
fishery, because landings and dead discards must be accounted for 
within the total U.S. quota (rather than an additional allocation for 
dead discards). This interim approach balances the needs of the pelagic 
longline fishery to continue fishing for swordfish and Atlantic tunas 
with the needs of directed BFT fisheries participants.
    Comment 2: Two commenters supported finalizing the specifications 
as proposed but encouraged NMFS to change regulations (i.e., modify 
when the General category is open as well as the percentage allocations 
to the General category subquotas) to allow more of the available 
bluefin quota to be harvested.
    Response: This rulemaking addresses adjustment of the U.S. baseline 
quota for 2014 with the available underharvest from 2013. Issues 
regarding management measures, such as the opening dates for the 
General category, are beyond the scope of this rulemaking. NMFS notes, 
however, that to date in 2014, NMFS has taken three inseason actions to 
increase the General and Angling category retention limit from the 
default levels (78 FR 77362; December 23, 2013; 79 FR 25707, May 6, 
2014; and 79 FR 30745, May 29, 2014). These actions may result in more 
of the General and Angling category subquotas to be harvested, relative 
to 2013, depending on the availability of BFT to the fisheries.
    Regarding the comments related to the allocations to the General 
category subquotas, NMFS makes the baseline allocations consistent with 
the formula established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Changes to 
the baseline BFT subquota allocations and category-specific management 
measures are outside the scope of this rulemaking. Specific to the 
General category open season and subquota allocations, these issues are 
being considered in Amendment 7.
    Comment 3: One commenter believes that underreporting is occurring 
and that there cannot actually be any underharvest of the 2013 quota.
    Response: NMFS collects BFT landings data through multiple closely 
monitored reporting systems. Commercial BFT harvest data are reported 
through dealers within 24 hours of landing. As a condition of the HMS 
Angling category vessel permit, owners are required to report 
recreational landings through the Automated Catch Reporting System or, 
in certain states, through catch cards, also within 24 hours of 
landing, and to comply with the Large Pelagics Survey during dockside 
or telephone interviews. NMFS also has multiple domestic and 
international reporting obligations which require close monitoring and/
or reliable estimates of dead discards. In preparing the quota 
specifications and other fishery management actions, NMFS uses the best 
available data, and in cases where information is not yet available, 
uses the most recent, complete information as a proxy for the amount 
that could be expected (such as anticipated dead discards in the 
current fishing year). As described above, the best available 
information as of the end of May indicates that there is an 
approximately 384-mt underharvest of the 2013 adjusted U.S. quota. 
Carrying forward underharvest (limited to no more than 10 percent of 
the total U.S. quota) is consistent with the ICCAT recommendation, 
ATCA, and the BFT quota regulations that implement the western Atlantic 
BFT rebuilding plan adopted at ICCAT and relevant measures in the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP.
    Comment 4: One commenter encouraged NMFS to deduct the full amount 
of Purse Seine bluefin dead discards from the baseline Purse Seine 
category quota, and to extrapolate the dead discards for any unobserved 
sets.
    Response: Deducting half of the 2013 observed dead discards up 
front is consistent with NMFS' past practice of deducting half of the 
pelagic longline dead discards estimate up front. As described in the 
proposed rule, NMFS is accounting proactively for half of the best 
estimate of dead discards at the beginning of the fishing year, and 
total 2014 U.S. landings and dead discards will be accounted for at the 
end of the year and reported to ICCAT in 2015.
    Regarding the pelagic longline fishery, which has a greater 
proportion of unobserved trips than the purse seine fishery, NMFS 
currently applies a BFT dead discard extrapolation methodology that has 
been approved by ICCAT's Standing Committee on Research and Statistics 
to calculate and report dead discards for both stock assessment 
purposes and quota compliance purposes. Furthermore, the observed 
amount of BFT dead discards from the Purse Seine category in 2013 
accurately reflects the total 2013 BFT dead discards for that category 
and it is not necessary to extrapolate the amount, given the recent 
participation level (number of vessels and trips) and observer coverage 
in 2013. If such extrapolation were to become necessary, NMFS would 
consult with its Fisheries Science Centers on the appropriate method.
    Comment 5: Three commenters opposed deducting Purse Seine dead 
discard estimates from the baseline Purse Seine category quota for 
various reasons including: it is inappropriate and unnecessarily 
highlights dead discards given that the Purse Seine category could 
absorb these discards within the available quota (unlike the Longline 
category, for which total catch vastly exceeds available quota); Purse 
Seine dead discards for 2013 could be counted against the 2013 Reserve 
category instead; and it sets a precedent that could be applied to the 
handgear categories as well.
    Response: As proposed, NMFS is accounting up front (i.e., at the 
beginning of the fishing year) for half of the expected dead discards 
for 2014, using the best estimate of dead discards, from the Longline 
and Purse Seine category subquotas, as applicable. The U.S. BFT quota 
includes dead discards. To comply with ICCAT Recommendation 13-09, the 
United States reports BFT landings and dead discards by gear type 
annually via the U.S. National Report to ICCAT. To not account for the 
dead discards that could be expected in 2014 based on the best 
available information or to count the 2013 observed purse seine BFT 
dead discards against the 2013 Reserve would be inconsistent with NMFS' 
annual quota specifications approach over the last several years and 
would inappropriately treat the purse seine and longline sectors 
differently in the current quota specifications process. After 
considering total 2013 BFT landings and the 2013 BFT dead discard 
estimate, however, NMFS has decided that 6.9 mt of the available 
underharvest will be provided to the Purse Seine category in the final 
specifications,

[[Page 38259]]

effectively adjusting the Purse Seine category quota for 2014 to its 
base level. This is consistent with NMFS' specifications practice in 
the past several years of keeping the directed categories at their 
baseline quotas, while still providing a reasonable amount of quota for 
pelagic longline operations as the fleet continues directed fishing 
operations for swordfish and other tunas.
    NMFS does not consider accounting for dead discards within the 
Purse Seine category to be setting a precedent as characterized by the 
commenter. Through Amendment 7, NMFS is considering how best to reduce 
and account for BFT dead discards, as well as methods to improve 
reporting and monitoring of all BFT discards and landings (i.e., for 
all gear types) in the future. As stated in the proposed rule, 
depending on the management measures implemented in the Amendment 7 
final rule, the quota specifications process may be substantially 
different in upcoming years.

Other Issues

    In addition to the above comments specifically on the content of 
the proposed rule, other comments raised issues beyond the scope of 
this rule, regarding HMS management measures generally, as well as 
those specifically considered in Amendment 7. Specifically, commenters 
articulated: support for NMFS to eliminate the annual percentage limit 
on the total weight of large medium BFT (73 to less than 81 inches) 
that Purse Seine category vessels can harvest, which the commenters 
perceive as inconsistent with regulations that apply to other 
commercial categories, a cause of regulatory discards, and not based on 
current research on the size of bluefin at maturity; support for 
allowing Purse Seine category vessels to retain bluefin as small as the 
ICCAT minimum size (i.e., 47 inches); support for expanded research 
funding and improved access for researchers to biological samples; 
support for adaptive management of BFT fisheries for optimal economic, 
scientific, and conservation returns; full support for implementation 
of Amendment 7 as proposed; support for 100-percent observer coverage 
of Purse Seine vessels; opposition to pelagic longlining and harpooning 
of tunas; opposition to Mediterranean Sea bluefin harvests; and 
opposition to ICCAT deducting the U.S. 25-mt allocation for bycatch in 
the vicinity of the western/eastern Atlantic BFT management area 
boundary from the western Atlantic BFT Total Allowable Catch since 
2002, when that language was first added to the western Atlantic BFT 
Recommendation.
    NMFS anticipates that Amendment 7 may address some of the issues 
raised in comments that were outside the scope of the 2014 BFT quota 
specifications. Some of the ICCAT issues raised involve international 
management and could not be addressed by the United States 
unilaterally. The remaining domestic management issues would have to be 
considered in the context of future management action(s). In addition 
to the formal regulatory process of proposed and final rulemaking, NMFS 
considers issues, discussed management ideas, and obtains public input 
in the context of the HMS Advisory Panel, which typically convenes 
twice a year at meetings that are open to the public.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final 
rule is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other 
applicable law, and is necessary to achieve domestic management 
objectives under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.
    The final rule is exempt from the procedures of E.O. 12866 because 
this action contains no implementing regulations.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, NMFS has prepared a brochure summarizing 
fishery information and regulations for Atlantic tuna fisheries for 
2014. This brochure also serves as the small entity compliance guide. 
Copies of the compliance guide are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

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

    Dated: July 1, 2014.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-15773 Filed 7-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P