[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 152 (Thursday, August 7, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 46217-46233]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-18671]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 110819516-4534-01]
RIN 0648-BB02


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic 
Shark Management Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This proposed rule to implement draft Amendment 9 to the 2006 
Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP) considers management measures in the smoothhound and shark 
fisheries. In addition to the measures in draft Amendment 9, this 
rulemaking would establish an effective date for previously-adopted 
shark management measures finalized in Amendment 3 to the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 3) and the 2011 HMS Trawl Rule that 
were delayed, and proposes to increase the smoothhound shark annual 
quota that was finalized in Amendment 3, using updated landings data. 
It also proposes to implement the smoothhound shark-specific 
requirements of the 2012 Shark Biological Opinion (BiOp), and considers 
modifying current regulations related to the use of Vessel Monitoring 
Systems (VMS) by Atlantic shark fishermen using gillnet gear. For 
purposes of this rulemaking, the term ``smoothhound sharks'' 
collectively refers to smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis), Florida 
smoothhound (M. norrisi), Gulf smoothhound (M. sinusmexicanus), small 
eye smoothhound (M. higmani), and any other Mustelus spp. that might be 
found in U.S. waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, 
collectively. Finally, this action considers the implementation of the 
smooth dogfish-specific provisions in the Shark Conservation Act of 
2010 (the ``SCA''). The SCA requires that all sharks landed from 
federal waters in the United States be landed with their fins naturally 
attached to the carcass, but includes a limited exception for smooth 
dogfish. Throughout this document, the term ``fins'' includes both the 
tail and the fins of the shark. For the federal Atlantic shark 
fisheries, current HMS regulations require federally-permitted shark 
fishermen to land all sharks with fins naturally attached to the 
carcass. The SCA's fins-attached requirement is being addressed 
nationwide through a separate ongoing rulemaking. Thus, regarding the 
SCA, this rulemaking addresses only the provision that allows fin 
removal at sea of Atlantic smooth dogfish.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before November 14, 
2014. NMFS will announce the dates

[[Page 46218]]

and locations of public hearings in a future Federal Register document.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2014-0100, by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0100, click the 
``Comment Now'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach 
your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, 
NMFS/SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, 
SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    Instructions: Please include the identifier NOAA-NMFS-2014-0100 
when submitting comments. Comments sent by any other method, to any 
other address or individual, or received after the close of the comment 
period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part 
of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). 
Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, 
Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Written comments regarding the 
burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information 
requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the 
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division by email to 
OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.
    Copies of the supporting documents--including the draft 
Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and the 2006 Consolidated 
Atlantic HMS FMP are available from the HMS Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or by contacting Steve Durkee at 202-670-
6637.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: LeAnn Hogan or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by 
phone: 301-427-8503 or Steve Durkee by phone: 202-670-6637, or by fax: 
301-713-1917.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic sharks, including smoothhound 
sharks, are managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and the 
authority to issue regulations has been delegated from the Secretary to 
the Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries, NOAA. On October 2, 
2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register (71 FR 58058) final 
regulations, effective November 1, 2006, implementing the 2006 
Consolidated HMS FMP, which details management measures for Atlantic 
HMS fisheries. The implementing regulations for the 2006 Consolidated 
HMS FMP and its amendments are at 50 CFR part 635. This proposed rule 
addresses implementation of Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP.
    Except for restrictions on finning, smoothhound sharks were not 
managed by the Federal government before 2010. In the 1999 FMP for 
Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP), NMFS included 
smoothhound sharks in a Federal fishery management unit that included 
deep water and other sharks to prevent finning of all of these species. 
These species of smoothhound sharks were removed from the fishery 
management unit in the 2003 when NMFS amended the 1999 FMP in Amendment 
1, since these sharks became protected from finning under the Shark 
Finning Prohibition Act (67 FR 6124, February 11, 2002). In 2008, the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) adopted management 
measures for smoothhound sharks in state waters; the ASMFC measures 
became effective in January 2010.
    In 2010, through Amendment 3, NMFS determined that smoothhound 
sharks were in need of federal conservation and management measures. 
NMFS included smoothhound sharks within the HMS-managed stocks because 
of the wide geographic distribution and range of smoothhound sharks and 
because NMFS has management authority over HMS, including ``oceanic 
sharks,'' under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Details about NMFS' authority 
and decision to manage smoothhound sharks can be found in the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Amendment 3. At that time, 
``smoothhound sharks'' referred to a species complex consisting of 
smooth dogfish and Florida smoothhounds (75 FR 30484, June 1, 2010). 
The final rule implementing Amendment 3 published in June 2010 and 
delayed the effective date of the smoothhound shark management measures 
until approximately 2012, pending approval for the data collection 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). NMFS delayed the effective date also to provide time to 
implement a permit requirement, for NMFS to complete a BiOp under 
section 7 of the ESA, and for affected fishermen to change business 
practices, particularly as they related to keeping the fins attached to 
the carcass through offloading (June 1, 2010, 75 FR 30484). OMB 
approved the PRA data collection in May of 2011, and NMFS met 
informally with smoothhound shark fishermen along the east coast in the 
fall of 2010.
    In January 2011, the President signed the SCA (Pub. L. 111-348). 
This legislation requires that all sharks, except for smooth dogfish 
(Mustelus canis), landed from federal waters in the United States be 
landed with their fins and tail naturally attached to the carcass. It 
included, however, a limited exception for smooth dogfish (Mustelus 
canis), stating that the amendments made by the SCA do not apply to an 
``individual engaged in commercial fishing for smooth dogfish (Mustelus 
canis) in that area of the waters of the United States located 
shoreward of a line drawn in such a manner that each point on it is 50 
nautical miles from the baseline of a State from which the territorial 
sea is measured, if the individual holds a valid State commercial 
fishing license, unless the total weight of smooth dogfish fins landed 
or found on board a vessel to which this subsection applies exceeds 12 
percent of the total weight of smooth dogfish carcasses landed or found 
on board.'' Public Law 111-348, section 103(b)(1). Throughout this 
document, the term ``fins'' includes both the tail and the fins of the 
shark.
    Also, in 2011, NMFS published a final rule regarding trawl gear 
(August 10, 2011, 76 FR 49368). The HMS trawl rule, among other things, 
allowed for the retention of smoothhound sharks caught incidentally 
with trawl gear, provided that total smoothhound shark catch on board 
or offloaded does not exceed 25 percent of the total catch by weight.
    In November 2011, NMFS published a final rule (76 FR 70064, 
November 10, 2011) that delayed the effective date for all smoothhound 
shark management measures in both Amendment 3 and the 2011 trawl rule 
indefinitely to provide time for NMFS to consider the smooth dogfish-
specific provisions in the SCA, and for NMFS to finalize a Biological 
Opinion on the federal actions in Amendment 3, among other things.
    Since that time, the 2012 Atlantic Shark Biological Opinion (2012 
Shark

[[Page 46219]]

BiOp) on Federal actions in Amendment 3 has been completed. Except for 
consideration of the smooth dogfish-specific measures in the SCA, all 
reasons for delaying implementation of Amendment 3 and the 2011 HMS 
trawl gear rule have been addressed and completed. Thus, NMFS is ready 
to make effective previously-finalized smoothhound shark measures from 
Amendment 3 and the 2011 HMS trawl gear rule. In addition, new landings 
information and data about the smoothhound shark fishery has become 
available. Draft Amendment 9 considers that new information and data, 
and considers resulting adjustments to the quota based on that 
information, as well as considering implementation of smooth dogfish-
specific provisions of the SCA. Draft Amendment 9 is amending the HMS 
FMP because of the significant modification to the Atlantic smoothhound 
shark quota based upon updated landings information.
    During the development of Amendment 3 in 2009, molecular and 
morphological research indicated that Florida smoothhound (Mustelus 
norrisi) had been historically misclassified as a separate species from 
smooth dogfish (M. canis). Additionally, the Southeast Fisheries 
Science Center (SEFSC) advised that there were insufficient data at the 
time to separate smooth dogfish and Florida smoothhound into two 
separate species, and that they should be treated as a single stock 
until scientific evidence indicated otherwise. Accordingly, in 
Amendment 3, NMFS decided to manage both Florida smoothhound sharks and 
smooth dogfish together as ``smoothhound sharks'' because of this 
taxonomic correction and based upon SEFSC advice. Since the 
finalization of Amendment 3 in 2010, additional scientific information 
has become available from the SEFSC regarding species identification of 
smoothhound sharks. This updated scientific data shows that M. norrisi 
(Florida smoothhound), M. canis (smooth dogfish) and M. sinusmexicanus 
(Gulf smoothhound) are separate species, and that there may be 
additional smoothhound species in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The majority of the landings in the commercial smoothhound fishery 
currently occur in the mid-Atlantic region. Scientific evidence 
indicates that smooth dogfish are almost exclusively the species found 
in this area and along the coast throughout the Atlantic region; 
however, there have been a very limited number of Florida smoothhounds 
reported off of southern Florida. In the Gulf of Mexico region, all 
three Mustelus species are commonly found off Florida in the Gulf of 
Mexico. The best available scientific information collected for the 
upcoming SEDAR 39 stock assessment for smoothhound sharks indicates 
that smooth dogfish are likely the only smoothhound shark species found 
along the Atlantic coast. In the Gulf of Mexico, however, there are at 
least three different smoothhound species, with no practical way to 
distinguish among them. For more information, see Draft EA for 
Amendment 9.
    Identification between these species is difficult, and all three 
species' ranges overlap in the Gulf of Mexico. The most commonly used 
macroscopically visible external characteristics, such as dermal 
denticle and labial furrow differences, cannot be reliably used for 
species identification. Some limited success has been achieved by using 
other external characteristics, such as hyomandibular pore 
distribution, but misidentification is still common, especially for 
juvenile specimens. Data examined for the ongoing SEDAR 39 smoothhound 
stock assessment found that during shark surveys, Florida smoothhound 
was only correctly identified 40 percent of the time and Gulf 
smoothhound was only correctly identified 64 percent of the time, with 
the greatest identification difficulty occurring between Gulf 
smoothhound and smooth dogfish. Thus, it is unlikely that shark 
fishermen and enforcement officers would be able to tell these three 
species of smoothhound sharks apart without genetic analyses to 
differentiate between the three species. For more information, see 
Draft EA for Amendment 9.
    Because of the overlap in range between the different species and 
the extreme difficulty in distinguishing among the three species, NMFS 
will continue to group all the smoothhound species (all Mustelus 
species within the U.S. EEZ of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and 
Caribbean) together within the term ``smoothhound sharks'' for 
management purposes and will manage them as a complex. As a result, 
this proposed rule expands the definition of smoothhound sharks that 
NMFS previously adopted in Amendment 3 to an inclusive reference to 
Mustelus species. The SCA, however, explicitly limits the fin-removal 
exception to commercial fishing for smooth dogfish, identifying the 
species by scientific name. Given the above issues, NMFS examines two 
alternatives for applying the exception for smooth dogfish: one that 
applies the exception along the Atlantic Coast and the Florida Coast in 
the Gulf of Mexico, and a second that would apply the exception along 
the Atlantic Coast but not the Florida Coast in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Given the challenges posed by correctly identifying different 
smoothhound shark species, the specificity of the SCA's application, 
and the presence of multiple smoothhound shark species in the Gulf of 
Mexico, NMFS is requesting public comment on alternatives for 
implementing and enforcing the SCA smooth dogfish exception.
    In addition to proposing to implement exceptions found in the SCA 
that specifically apply to smooth dogfish, this rule would also 
establish an effective date for previously-adopted shark management 
measures finalized in Amendment 3 (June 1, 2010, 75 FR 30483) and the 
2011 HMS trawl rule (August 10, 2011; 76 FR 49368). These measures 
include increasing the previously-adopted commercial quota for 
smoothhound sharks based on updated scientific information and data, 
implementing limited exceptions from certain provisions of the SCA that 
specifically apply to smooth dogfish, implementing Term and Condition 4 
of the 2012 Shark BiOp, which required either net checks or soak time 
restrictions in the Atlantic shark gillnet fisheries, and reducing the 
VMS requirements for shark gillnet fishermen.
    NMFS prepared a draft EA, RIR, and an IRFA, which present and 
analyze anticipated environmental, social, and economic impacts of each 
alternative contained in this proposed rule. A summary of the 
alternatives considered and related analyses are provided below. The 
complete list of alternatives and related analyses are provided in the 
draft EA/RIR/IRFA. A copy of the draft EA/RIR/IRFA prepared for this 
proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

Establishing an Effective Date for Previously-Adopted Shark Management 
Measures Finalized in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
in the 2011 HMS Trawl Rule

    Amendment 3 finalized certain conservation and management measures 
for smoothhound sharks. As described above, implementation of these 
measures was delayed indefinitely. This action will implement an 
effective date for the previously-delayed Amendment 3 management 
measures for smoothhound sharks, including:
     A research set-aside quota;
     An accountability measure (AM), which closes the fishery 
when smoothhound shark landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 
percent of the quota;
     A requirement for a dealer permit to purchase smoothhound 
sharks;

[[Page 46220]]

     A requirement for dealers to report smoothhound shark 
purchases;
     A smoothhound permit requirement for commercial and 
recreational fishing and retention;
     A requirement for vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks 
to carry an observer, if NMFS selects them;
     A requirement for vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks 
to comply with applicable Take Reduction Plans pursuant to the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act; and
     A requirement for commercial vessels to sell catch only to 
federally-permitted shark dealers.
    In addition, this action addresses an effective date for the 
smoothhound shark management measures in the 2011 HMS trawl rule 
published on August 10, 2011 (76 FR 49368). As described above, the HMS 
trawl rule allowed, among other things, for the retention of 
smoothhound sharks caught incidentally with trawl gear, provided that 
total smoothhound shark catch on board or offloaded does not exceed 25 
percent of the total catch by weight.

 FMP Amendment Adjusting the Quota for the Smoothhound Shark Fishery

    When Amendment 3 was finalized, smoothhound shark data was 
available through 2007, although there was no stock assessment for the 
species. Updated information is now available--in some cases as 
recently as 2013--although data on the number of participants, total 
catch, fishing techniques, spatial and temporal availability, etc., are 
still incomplete because of the lack of mandatory reporting 
requirements for this shark species. Data can be expected to improve in 
the future with implementation of the previously-delayed Amendment 3 
requirements for a Federal permit, dealer reporting, and observer 
coverage as well as completion of the current smoothhound shark stock 
assessment. As stated in Amendment 3, NMFS' goal has been to 
characterize and collect data on the smoothhound fishery while 
minimizing changes in the fishery until it can be better assessed and 
additional management measures can be developed. Thus, as described in 
the final rule for Amendment 3, NMFS established a smoothhound shark 
quota using the best data available at that time equal to the highest 
reported annual landings between 1998 and 2007, plus two standard 
deviations in order to account for any underreporting due to the lack 
of smoothhound shark reporting requirements and to follow advice from 
the Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers (June 1, 2010, 75 
FR 30484).
    Since publishing Amendment 3, NMFS has received updated reported 
landings data from the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program 
(ACCSP) that warrants adjusting the quota established in Amendment 3, 
using the same methodology presented in Amendment 3 but with the new 
data. This quota adjustment would be done through an amendment to the 
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. Additionally, NMFS has begun conducting a 
smoothhound shark stock assessment (79 FR 17509, March 28, 2014; 79 FR 
23327, April 28, 2014). In this action, NMFS analyzes quota 
alternatives ranging from the status quo (the quota calculated in 
Amendment 3) to adjusting the quota based on updated landings 
information to establishing the quota based on quota scenarios that 
could result from the ongoing stock assessment. Additional 
environmental analyses and regulatory action may be considered if 
warranted by the stock assessment outcomes, or depending on the 
magnitude of any resultant changes in management approaches. Landings 
from both the directed and incidental smoothhound shark fisheries would 
count against the adopted quota.
    The preferred alternative in this proposed rule would establish a 
smoothhound quota of 1,739.9 mt dw, which is equal to the maximum 
annual landings from the 10 most recent years available at this time 
(i.e., 2004-2013) plus two standard deviations. The quota alternative 
that was finalized in Amendment 3 was selected because NMFS, with 
guidance from the NEFSC and SEFSC, determined that adding two standard 
deviations to the maximum annual landings was the best way to account 
for any underreporting in the fishery while minimizing changes in catch 
levels and catch rates in the smoothhound shark fishery. While the 
quota under the current preferred alternative is higher than the quota 
calculated in Amendment 3, it caps the quota at a level that reflects 
the current operation of the smoothhound shark fishery without allowing 
the quota to increase in the future if reported landings increase. As 
stated when establishing this methodology in Amendment 3, since 
landings data could be underestimated due to underreporting, setting 
the quota above current reported landings levels should allow the 
fishery to continue at current levels, minimizing changes to the 
fishery while collecting information on catch and participants.
    In the short-term, this preferred alternative is expected to have 
neutral direct ecological impacts on the smoothhound stock, as the 
quota-setting approach was designed to bring the species under Federal 
management while minimizing immediate changes in the fishery. The 
preferred alternative could have long-term direct minor adverse 
ecological impacts due to a potential for increased landings of 
smoothhound compared to other alternatives with lower quotas. In the 
preferred alternative, allowable effort and landings would be higher 
than the quota set under Amendment 3; however, the allowable landings 
would more accurately represent current fishing activity and would be 
constrained with a cap that prevents future growth of the fishery. 
Implementing such a cap on landings would help ensure that the 
smoothhound stock is maintained at a healthy level. This preferred 
alternative appropriately adjusts the Amendment 3 quota and remains 
within the intended outcome of the range of alternatives considered in 
the Amendment 3 rulemaking. The intent of Amendment 3 was to minimize 
changes in catch levels and catch rates in the fishery to allow for the 
collection of catch and participant information pending completion of a 
stock assessment to guide Federal management. A smoothhound shark stock 
assessment is currently being conducted. NMFS believes it is imperative 
to bring smoothhound sharks under Federal management as quickly as 
possible, particularly given that time has passed since Amendment 3 was 
first published. Although a smoothhound shark stock assessment is 
currently underway, NMFS is proceeding with developing a quota based on 
landings history to avoid any further delays in federally managing this 
stock. As explained below, this rulemaking considers another 
alternative that would further adjust the quota(s) if necessary based 
on this stock assessment if it is available before publication of the 
final rule.
    The preferred smoothhound quota alternative would result in 
potential annual revenues in the entire fishery of $3,016,460 
(3,835,784 lb. of meat, 460,294 lb. of fins) assuming an ex-vessel 
price of $1.72 lb. for fins and $0.58 for meat. Setting the quota at 
current landings levels with room for presumed underreporting should 
allow the fishery to continue throughout the year, rather than be 
closed for part of the year, allowing NMFS to collect year-long 
information that can be used in future stock assessments. NMFS 
anticipates direct moderate, beneficial short- and long-term 
socioeconomic impacts with implementing a quota based on maximum 
reported recent

[[Page 46221]]

annual landings plus two standard deviations to allow for a buffer for 
potential unreported landings during that time to reflect actual 
landings. This would allow the fishery to continue at the landings rate 
and level reported in recent years. Under this alternative, NMFS 
anticipates the fishery would operate as it currently does, resulting 
in indirect, moderate beneficial socioeconomic impacts in the short- 
and long-term for shark dealers and processors. The preferred 
alternative accounts for recent trends in the fishery and the best 
available landings data as recalculated and reported by ACCSP, reflects 
recent behavior in the fishery, and provides an appropriate buffer to 
account for underreporting in the fishery. Additionally, providing a 
maximum cap on the fishery would allow fishermen, dealers, and 
processors to make better business decisions based on a more 
predictable yield (assuming that the fishery is fished to near-full 
capacity each year).
    NMFS is also considering three other quota alternatives that are 
not preferred at this time. The first would not adjust the commercial 
smoothhound shark quota, and would instead implement the quota as 
calculated in Amendment 3. This alternative is not preferred because it 
does not use the best available information and would result in 
premature fishery closures, inconsistent with the objectives in 
Amendment 3 and in this Amendment, which are to bring smoothhound 
sharks within Federal management, collect data to improve future 
management measures, and minimize changes to the fishery in the 
meantime. The second alternative considers a rolling quota that would 
recalculate the quota each year based on the previous 5 years of 
available landings data. This rolling quota alternative was not 
preferred because the quota could grow, expanding the fishery without 
limit, which could lead to unsustainable fishing levels. The third 
quota alternative would implement a TAC and smoothhound shark quota(s) 
consistent with the results of the 2014 smoothhound shark stock 
assessment if the results become available before publication of the 
final rule for this action. This alternative is based on a possible 
range of quota recommendations that reasonably could be expected to 
result from the assessment. The potential range of quota 
recommendations from the assessment are quota(s): (1) Equal to 
approximately one-half the Amendment 3 quota (357.8 mt dw); (2) 
approximately equal to the Amendment 3 quota; (3) half way in between 
Amendment 3 and the proposed quota, or 1,227.7 mt dw; and (4) larger 
than Amendment 3, approximately equal to or greater than the quota 
under preferred alternative (1,739.9 mt dw). Because the stock 
assessment is not yet final and it is unknown if it will be available 
before the final rule for this action publishes, NMFS does not prefer 
this alternative at this time. Additional environmental analyses and 
regulatory action may be considered, if warranted by the stock 
assessment outcomes or depending on the magnitude of any resultant 
changes in management approaches.

Implementation of the Smooth Dogfish-Specific Provisions of the Shark 
Conservation Act of 2010

    The SCA amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide greater 
protection from illegal ``finning'' of sharks. Shark finning is the 
practice of taking a shark, removing a fin or fins (whether or not 
including the tail), and returning the remainder of the shark to the 
sea. Among the provisions in subsection 103(a) of the SCA is a 
requirement that all sharks landed from federal waters in the United 
States be maintained with the fins naturally-attached to the carcass 
through offloading. Subsection (b), however, provides the following 
exception: ``The amendments made by subsection (a) do not apply to an 
individual engaged in commercial fishing for smooth dogfish (Mustelus 
canis) in that area of the waters of the United States located 
shoreward of a line drawn in such a manner that each point on it is 50 
nautical miles from the baseline of a State from which the territorial 
sea is measured, if the individual holds a valid State commercial 
fishing license, unless the total weight of smooth dogfish fins landed 
or found on board a vessel to which this subsection applies exceeds 12 
percent of the total weight of smooth dogfish carcasses landed or found 
on board.'' The SCA provides that ``State'' has the same meaning as in 
section 803 of Public Law 103-206 (16 U.S.C. 5102), which refers to 
``Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North 
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the District of Columbia, 
or the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.'' To implement the 
exception, this proposed rule considers three issues: Catch 
composition, state permit requirements, and geographic applicability of 
the exception--and explores alternatives for each issue. If a 
federally-permitted shark fisherman does not qualify for this exception 
under the SCA, he will be required to land smooth dogfish with the fins 
naturally attached. Note that although several Atlantic coast states 
have laws addressing shark fins, those state laws as of the date of 
this proposed rule provide an exception for smooth dogfish, and so 
present no conflict with the SCA as applied to smooth dogfish, whether 
or not the SCA exception applies.
    NMFS considered four Catch Composition sub-alternatives to address 
the SCA text regarding ``an individual engaged in commercial fishing 
for smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis).'' Because the SCA specifies that 
the exception applies when an individual is fishing ``for'' smooth 
dogfish as opposed to fishing ``for'' other species and incidentally 
catching smooth dogfish or simply ``when fishing,'' the proposed rule 
examines alternatives that limit the exception to those fishing for 
smooth dogfish, i.e., fishing with the object of commercially 
harvesting smooth dogfish.
    Under the preferred sub-alternative, smoothhound sharks must make 
up 75 percent of the retained catch on board a vessel to constitute a 
trip fishing ``for'' smooth dogfish. Implementing a target catch 
requirement of 75 percent smooth dogfish would preclude fishermen on 
trips for other species but who incidentally catch smooth dogfish from 
removing smooth dogfish fins at sea. Only those fishermen fishing for 
smooth dogfish as defined by this rulemaking would be allowed to remove 
the fins of the species while at sea. Under this preferred sub-
alternative, no sharks other than smooth dogfish could be retained when 
smooth dogfish fins are removed at sea. This requirement would ensure 
that no other shark species are on board with fins removed, ensuring 
consistency with other provisions of the SCA. This sub-alternative 
would likely have direct short- and long-term minor beneficial impacts. 
Indirect ecological impacts to species caught with smooth dogfish would 
likely both be neutral in the short- and long-term, because fishing 
effort or rates are not expected to change under this sub-alternative. 
The only changes that would occur under this sub-alternative would be 
in fisheries for other species that incidentally catch smooth dogfish. 
Fishermen in these incidental fisheries do not plan trips around smooth 
dogfish; rather, they engage in fishing operations based on the target 
species availability and market. Therefore, a prohibition on at-sea fin 
removal of smooth dogfish fins in the incidental fishery would not be 
expected to alter effort. Indirect impacts are generally positively 
correlated with effort. Effort

[[Page 46222]]

would not likely be affected, and indirect impacts would be neutral. 
Since this sub-alternative would be unlikely to have adverse ecological 
impacts and provides some flexibility in retained catch, NMFS prefers 
this sub-alternative at this time.
    Because some fishermen catch smooth dogfish while fishing for other 
species, the preferred catch composition sub-alternative is likely to 
have short- and long-term direct, minor, adverse socioeconomic impacts 
since it would reduce flexibility in which species may be retained, 
though not to the extent that other alternatives would. The number of 
mixed species trips where fishermen could take advantage of the fins-
attached exception would decrease. However, this sub-alternative 
provides more flexibility than other sub-alternatives, specifically the 
sub-alternative that examines a 100-percent smooth dogfish catch 
composition requirement for the exception to apply. For these reasons, 
NMFS prefers this sub-alternative at this time.
    NMFS also considered three other catch composition sub-
alternatives. The first would not implement any catch composition 
requirement, allowing the fins of smooth dogfish to be removed at sea 
regardless of the composition of the rest of the catch, provided no 
other sharks are retained. This measure was not preferred because it 
would not limit the at-sea processing allowance to ``fishing for smooth 
dogfish,'' consistent with the SCA. Second, NMFS considered a 25-
percent smooth dogfish catch composition for at-sea processing, which 
would allow some fishermen who are fishing for species other than 
smooth dogfish and catching smooth dogfish incidental to those fishing 
activities to use the limited exception. This measure was not preferred 
because it would not limit the at-sea processing allowance to 
individuals ``fishing for smooth dogfish,'' consistent with the SCA. 
Third, NMFS considered a 100-percent smooth dogfish catch composition 
for at-sea processing. Although this sub-alternative would even more 
narrowly limit the fins-attached exception to fishermen only ``fishing 
for smooth dogfish,'' consistent with the SCA, it would remove all 
flexibility in retained catch on board vessels that remove smooth 
dogfish fins at sea, possibly increasing dead discards without 
providing any clear benefits beyond the preferred sub-alternative. For 
this reason, NMFS does not prefer that sub-alternative at this time.
    NMFS considered two State Fishing Permit sub-alternatives to 
address text in the SCA exception regarding ``if the individual holds a 
valid State commercial fishing license.'' The preferred sub-alternative 
would require federally-permitted smooth dogfish fishermen to possess a 
State commercial fishing license that allows fishing for smooth dogfish 
in order to be able to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea. A ``valid 
state commercial fishing license'' would be any state license that 
allows the individual to engage in commercial fishing for smooth 
dogfish, whether it is dogfish-specific or a general shark permit or a 
general commercial fishing permit. This sub-alternative recognizes 
variations in state fishing permit processes that allow commercial 
fishing for smooth dogfish.
    NMFS is also examining a sub-alternative based on a more narrow 
application of the exception. The language in the smooth dogfish-
specific provision of the SCA states that it applies to an ``individual 
engaged in commercial fishing for smooth dogfish . . . if the 
individual holds a valid State commercial fishing license.'' Sub-
alternative 2 would interpret this more narrowly to mean that the 
individual has a smoothhound-specific State commercial fishing license, 
since the exception applies only to ``individuals engaged in commercial 
fishing `for' smooth dogfish.''' By requiring a smooth dogfish-specific 
permit and not a general state commercial license, NMFS would be 
further ensuring that the individual is one ``engaged in commercial 
fishing for smooth dogfish,'' which NMFS interprets as narrowing the 
limited at-sea fin removal allowance only to those fishing for smooth 
dogfish. Requiring a smooth dogfish-specific State fishing permit would 
likely lead to direct and indirect short and long-term neutral 
ecological impacts since this sub-alternative would not increase 
fishing effort. Because not all states have smooth dogfish-specific 
permits, NMFS does not prefer this alternative at this time but is 
seeking comments, particularly from the States, about their preferences 
and what approach would work best in conjunction with their state 
approach to permitting and state fishery objectives.
    NMFS considered two alternatives for Geographic Application of the 
SCA exception: Applying the exception along the Atlantic Coast and the 
Florida Coast in the Gulf of Mexico, and applying the exception only 
along the Atlantic Coast. As explained earlier, as a practical matter, 
smooth dogfish and other smoothhound species are essentially 
indistinguishable in the field, and while the Atlantic population is 
entirely smooth dogfish but for the occasional Florida smoothhound, the 
Gulf of Mexico population includes all three species. The best 
available scientific information indicates smooth dogfish are the 
predominant smoothhound species along the Atlantic coast (only a 
handful of Florida smoothhound have ever been recorded in the Atlantic, 
and those have been near southern Florida). In the Gulf of Mexico, 
however, there are at least three different smoothhound species, with 
no practical way to readily distinguish among them. The non-preferred 
sub- alternative would apply the smooth dogfish exception 50 nautical 
miles from the baseline of all the States that fall under the SCA 
definition of ``State,'' including the west coast of Florida in the 
Gulf of Mexico. This sub-alternative could result in smoothhound sharks 
other than smooth dogfish indirectly falling under the exception, 
because they cannot be distinguished from smooth dogfish, which would 
violate the specific requirements of the SCA and pose enforcement 
difficulties. The preferred sub-alternative would apply the exception 
only along the Atlantic Coast where the population is almost entirely 
smooth dogfish, but not in the Gulf of Mexico--even on the Florida 
Coast. By limiting the exception to the Atlantic region, as specified 
at Sec.  635.27(b)(1), this sub-alternative would ensure that the 
exception would only apply where the population is almost entirely 
smooth dogfish, reducing identification problems and inadvertent 
finning violations. NMFS expects neutral direct and indirect short- and 
long-term ecological impacts because, at this time, there is no 
commercial fishery for smooth dogfish in the Gulf of Mexico. For the 
same reason, NMFS expects neutral direct and indirect short- and long-
term socioeconomic impacts. NMFS prefers this sub-alternative at this 
time because it simplifies enforcement and compliance without adverse 
impacts.

Implementation of the 2012 Shark Biological Opinion

    On December 12, 2012, following consultation under section 7(a)(2) 
of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NMFS determined that the continued 
operation of the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries is not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Atlantic sturgeon, 
smalltooth sawfish, or any species of ESA-listed large whale or sea 
turtles. In order to avoid take prohibited by Section 9 of the ESA, 
NMFS must comply with the Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs) and 
the Terms and Conditions (TCs) in the 2012 Shark BiOp. NMFS has 
reviewed the 2012 Shark BiOp and associated TCs and has determined that 
the current

[[Page 46223]]

regulations meet the specifications of all the TCs except for TC 4, 
which requires either net checks or soak time restrictions in the 
Atlantic shark gillnet fisheries. Therefore, this rulemaking considers 
measures that would ensure the Atlantic shark gillnet fisheries operate 
consistent with TC 4 in the 2012 Shark BiOp.
    NMFS proposes to establish a soak time limit of 24 hours for 
fishermen using sink gillnet gear and a 2-hour net check requirement 
for fishermen using drift gillnet gear in the Atlantic shark and 
smoothhound shark fisheries. Drift gillnets would be defined as those 
that are unattached to the ocean bottom with a float line at the 
surface, and sink gillnet gear would be defined as those with a weight 
line that sinks to the ocean bottom, has a submerged float line, and is 
designed to be fished on or near the bottom. Most smoothhound shark 
gillnet fishermen would be required to limit soak times to 24 hours, 
since they primarily use sink gillnet gear. This requirement would not 
significantly change smoothhound shark fishing practices. With regard 
to other Atlantic shark fishermen, fishermen who use sink gillnet gear 
would be required to limit soak times to 24 hours and those that use 
drift gillnets would be required to perform net checks at least every 2 
hours. Currently, all Atlantic shark fishermen that use gillnet gear to 
fish for or who are in possession of any large coastal, small coastal, 
or pelagic shark, regardless of gillnet type, are required to perform 
net checks at least every 2 hours (see Sec.  635.21(e)(3)(v)). During 
the net checks, fishermen are required to look for and remove any sea 
turtles, marine mammals, or smalltooth sawfish. Only a few Atlantic 
shark limited access permit holders use gillnet gear and the 
proportions of each type (e.g., sink or drift) vary in any one year. 
Fishermen are not required to report the type of gillnet gear used, so 
the proportion of each type is best estimated using data from observed 
gillnet trips, although it is important to note that not all observed 
trips targeted sharks. From 2009 through 2012, the portion of gillnet 
trips that used sink gillnet gear ranged from a low in 2009 of 47 
percent, up to 87 percent, 100 percent, and 93 percent in 2010-2012, 
respectively. For a variety of reasons (e.g., reduced LCS retention 
limits and gillnet gear fishing restrictions), it appears that the 
fishery has moved predominately to sink gillnet gear. Under the 
preferred alternative, shark gillnet fishermen that use sink gillnet 
gear would no longer be required to perform net checks at least every 2 
hours under this alternative. Instead, they would be required to limit 
soak times to 24 hours. In the 2002 rulemaking that implemented the net 
checks (July 9, 2002, 67 FR 45393), NMFS stated that the net checks 
would be unlikely to impact the bycatch of species that are not 
protected resources. This statement was made because the net checks do 
not require fishermen to remove or disentangle any animals except 
protected species during the net checks, thus, non-protected resource 
bycatch species would be unlikely to be removed from the net. In the 
2012 BiOp, the requirement to use either net checks or the 24 hour set 
limitation was determined to ensure that any incidentally taken ESA-
listed species are detected and released in a timely manner, reducing 
the likelihood of mortality.
    As such, this preferred alternative would likely result in short- 
and long-term direct minor adverse ecological impacts because the 
target species, sharks, could remain in the gillnet for longer periods 
of time before being released, reducing the chances of a live release. 
Similarly, this alternative could result in short- and long-term 
indirect neutral ecological impacts to non-target, incidentally caught 
fish species and bycatch because net checks do not require fishermen to 
remove or disentangle any animals except protected species during the 
net checks. This alternative would likely have, however, short- and 
long-term minor beneficial impacts on protected resources since it 
would implement one of the Terms and Conditions of the 2012 Shark BiOp 
to minimize impacts on protected resources. Since this alternative 
complies with the Biological Opinion, has only minor adverse direct and 
indirect ecological impacts to other species, and allows all 
smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen to continue current fishing 
practices, NMFS prefers this alternative at this time.
    This action would likely result in neutral short- and long-term 
direct socioeconomic impacts. Smoothhound shark fishermen, who 
typically use sink gillnets, would be required to limit soak times to 
24 hours and as discussed above, this requirement is unlikely to 
significantly alter smoothhound shark fishing practices. Drift gillnet 
fishermen, who are more likely to target Atlantic sharks rather than 
smoothhound sharks, would be required to check their nets at least 
every 2 hours, as is currently required. Thus, this alternative is 
unlikely to have any socioeconomic impacts to Atlantic shark and 
smoothhound shark fishermen since it would not change current fishing 
practices. Similarly, this alternative would likely result in neutral 
short- and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts since supporting 
businesses, including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers, 
should not be impacted. The preferred alternative would impact the 
approximately 31 vessels that annually direct on smoothhound sharks 
with gillnet gear. Since this action would have minimal economic impact 
but is still consistent with the 2012 Shark BiOp, and thus sufficiently 
protects protected resources, NMFS prefers this alternative at this 
time.
    NMFS also considered three other alternatives to implement the 2012 
Shark BiOp gillnet requirements in the Atlantic shark fisheries. First, 
NMFS considered not implementing the requirements, but does not prefer 
this alternative because it would not be consistent with the 2012 Shark 
BiOp. Second, NMFS considered requiring smoothhound shark fishermen to 
conduct net checks at least every 2 hours to look for and remove any 
protected species. This measure was not preferred because it would 
change current fishing practices, reducing efficiency and landings, 
thus reducing profitability, without reducing the likelihood of 
mortality of protected species per the 2012 BiOp. Third, NMFS 
considered different requirements based on permit type. It would 
establish a gillnet soak time limit of 24 hours for smoothhound shark 
permit holders. Under this alternative, fishermen holding both an 
Atlantic shark limited access permit and a smoothhound shark permit 
would have to abide by the 24-hour soak time restriction and conduct 
net checks at least every 2 hours. This would disadvantage smoothhound 
shark fishermen holding both permits relative to smoothhound shark 
fishermen only holding a smoothhound shark permit without ecological 
benefits to protected resources. For this reason, this measure is not 
preferred at this time.

Atlantic Shark Gillnet Vessel Monitoring System Requirements

    This proposed rule would also revise the requirement to use VMS by 
shark fishermen using gillnet gear. Currently, Federal directed shark 
permit holders with gillnet gear on board are required to use VMS, 
regardless of vessel location. This requirement was implemented as part 
of the 2003 Amendment 1 to the 1999 FMP to ensure shark gillnet vessels 
were complying with the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan 
(ALWTRP) time/area closures and observer requirements (50 CFR 229.32). 
The ALWTRP requirements apply only to

[[Page 46224]]

Atlantic directed shark limited access permit holders with gillnet gear 
on board in the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. At the time of 
implementation in 2003, NMFS determined that requiring all gillnet 
fishermen with a directed shark permit to use VMS regardless of 
geographic location would simplify compliance and outreach, 
particularly if these fishermen regularly fished different regions, 
including in the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. Since then, however, 
it has become apparent that while some of these fishermen fish multiple 
regions, many do not fish in or even near the Southeast U.S. Monitoring 
Area. Thus, this rulemaking considers measures to bring the VMS 
requirements in-line with the requirements of the ALWTRP.
    NMFS proposes to require Federal directed Atlantic shark limited 
access permit holders with gillnet gear on board to use VMS only in the 
vicinity of the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area, pursuant to ALWTRP 
requirements. This action is expected to have neutral short- and long-
term direct and indirect ecological impacts. These VMS requirements are 
an enforcement tool for complying with the ALWTRP requirements and 
would not affect catch. VMS requirements do not impact incidentally 
caught species. The preferred alternative would likely provide short- 
and long-term moderate beneficial impacts for protected resources, 
because it maintains the requirement to have VMS on board when gillnet 
fishing in the U.S. Southeast Monitoring Area, as required in the 
ALWTRP. The difference between this alternative and the No Action 
alternative is that this alternative would limit the VMS requirement 
for Atlantic shark permit holders using gillnet gear to the vicinity of 
the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area. Requirements to minimize large 
whale interactions would not change, only the geographic area of the 
VMS requirement. For this reason, protected resource impacts resulting 
from the preferred alternative are the same as for the no action 
alternative. Thus, because this alternative maintains the VMS 
requirements for large whales consistent with the ALWTRP, and at the 
same time reduces adverse socioeconomic impacts, NMFS prefers this 
alternative at this time.
    This change to the VMS gillnet requirement would have short- and 
long-term direct minor beneficial socioeconomic impacts. Atlantic shark 
gillnet fishermen fishing in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S 
Monitoring Area would still incur the installation costs of the VMS, 
but data transmission would be limited to those times when the vessel 
is in this area. Furthermore, shark gillnet fishermen outside of this 
area that do not fish in the vicinity of the Southeast U.S Monitoring 
Area would not need to install a VMS unit or, if they already have one, 
maintain the VMS unit or replace a malfunctioning one. Thus, the 
socioeconomic impacts from this alternative, while still adverse, are 
of a lesser degree than those under the No Action alternative. This 
alternative would likely result in neutral short- and long-term 
indirect socioeconomic impacts since supporting businesses including 
dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers would not be impacted. 
Since this alternative is more in line with the requirements of the 
ALWTRP, and because it would reduce socioeconomic impacts while still 
maintaining beneficial ecological impacts for protected whale species, 
NMFS prefers this alternative at this time.

Other Measures

    Currently, the Atlantic shark fishery observer program is 
administered by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). 
However, because a portion of the commercial smoothhound shark fishery 
occurs in the Northeast region, there is a possibility that the 
smoothhound shark observer program could be run by the NMFS Northeast 
Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). The two regional science center 
observers programs differ in the way they notify fishermen of their 
selection to carry an observer. The SEFSC notifies fishermen in writing 
at the time of selection. This process is currently in the 50 CFR part 
635 regulations. The NEFSC does not require written notification of 
selection and any vessel holding an applicable permit can be selected. 
Thus, NMFS is proposing changes to the observer regulations in 50 CFR 
part 635 to incorporate the relevant portions of the Northeast observer 
regulations found at 50 CFR part 648. In this action, NMFS proposes to 
update the regulatory text to incorporate the observer selection 
process used by the NEFSC into the current selection process used by 
the SEFSC. These proposed changes are administrative in nature, will 
not have any biological, economic, or social impacts or impacts on the 
physical environment and are not anticipated to affect the current 
fishing level or practices in commercial highly migratory species 
fisheries, and, therefore, are not further analyzed in this document.

Request for Comments

    Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov, or mail, and comments may also be submitted at a 
public hearing. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule by 
November 14, 2014 (See DATES and ADDRESSES). We will announce the dates 
and locations of public hearings in a future Federal Register notice.

Classification

    Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with 
the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    NMFS prepared a draft EA for Draft Amendment 9 that discusses the 
impact on the environment that would occur as a result of this proposed 
action. In this proposed action, NMFS is considering measures for the 
smoothhound shark fishery, smooth dogfish, and the Atlantic shark 
gillnet fishery. A copy of the EA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement has 
been submitted to OMB for approval.
    The Federal commercial smoothhound shark permit requirement 
analyzed in Amendment 3 will become effective upon the effective date 
of a final rule. NMFS submitted a PRA change request to OMB to add this 
permit to the existing HMS permit PRA package (OMB control number 0648-
0327). OMB subsequently accepted the change request to add the Federal 
commercial smoothhound shark permit to the HMS permit PRA package.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments

[[Page 46225]]

on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to 
(enter office name) at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to 
comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule would have on 
small entities if adopted. A description of the action, why it is being 
considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at the 
beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of 
the preamble. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this 
analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    This proposed action is designed to implement the smooth dogfish 
provisions of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and to implement the 
smoothhound sharks measures in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 
FMP (75 FR 30484, June 1, 2010) and the 2011 Atlantic HMS Trawl Rule 
(76 FR 49368, August 10, 2011) that are currently on hold. This action 
also reexamines the smoothhound shark quota that would be implemented 
along with the Amendment 3 measures. NMFS has updated landings data 
that could necessitate a recalculation of the quota. See Section 1.3 of 
the Draft EA for Amendment 9 for more information.
    On December 12, 2012, consistent with Section 7(b)(4) of the ESA, 
NMFS determined that the continued operation of the Atlantic shark and 
smoothhound shark fisheries is not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of Atlantic sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish, or any species of 
ESA-listed large whale or sea turtles. In order to be exempt from take 
prohibitions established by Section 9 of the ESA, NMFS must comply with 
the RPMs and TCs listed in the 2012 Shark BiOp. One purpose of 
Amendment 9 is to propose measures to implement the 2012 Shark BiOp TCs 
that are specific to the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark 
fisheries. See Section 1.3 of the Draft EA for Amendment 9 for more 
information.
    Currently, Federal directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear 
on board are required to use VMS regardless of vessel location. This 
requirement was originally implemented to comply with the ALWTRP 
requirements at 50 CFR 229.32. However, these requirements require 
federal directed shark permit holders with gillnet gear on board to use 
VMS only when fishing in a certain area in the South Atlantic. Thus, 
another purpose of this rulemaking is to examine measures to bring 
current VMS regulations for Federal directed shark permit holders using 
gillnet gear in-line with the current requirements of the ALWTRP at 50 
CFR 229.32. See Section 1.3 of the Draft EA for Amendment 9 for more 
information.
    The management goals and objectives of this action are to provide 
for the sustainable management of smoothhound sharks and Atlantic shark 
species under authority of the Secretary consistent with the 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other statutes which may 
apply to such management, including the ESA and the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act (MMPA). The management objectives are to achieve the 
following:
     Implement the smooth dogfish provisions of the SCA.
     Implement other measures, as necessary, to ensure that the 
smooth dogfish provisions of the SCA do not negatively impact the 
sustainable fishery of other shark species.
     Reexamine the smoothhound shark quota in light of updated 
landings data.
     Implement the Term and Condition of the 2012 Smoothhound 
Shark and Atlantic Shark Biological Opinion related to gillnet impacts 
on ESA-listed species.
     Reexamine Atlantic shark gillnet VMS regulation in 
compliance with the ALWTRP, per the MMPA.
    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires Agencies to provide an 
estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. 
On June 12, 2014, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a 
final rule revising the small business size standards for several 
industries effective July 14, 2014 (79 FR 33647; June 12, 2014). The 
rule increased the size standard for Finfish Fishing from $19.0 to 20.5 
million. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this action in 
light of the new size standards. Under the former, lower size 
standards, all entities subject to this action were considered small 
entities; thus, they all would continue to be considered small entities 
under the new standards. NMFS does not believe that the new size 
standards affect analyses prepared for this action and solicits public 
comment on the analyses in light of the new size standards. Under these 
standards, NMFS considers all Atlantic HMS permit holders subject to 
draft Amendment 9 to be small entities.
    As discussed in Section 6.1 of the Draft EA for Amendment 9, NMFS 
does not have exact numbers on affected commercial fishermen. The 
smoothhound shark commercial permit has not yet been created, so NMFS 
does not know how many smoothhound shark fishermen will be impacted. An 
annual average of 275 vessels reported retaining smooth dogfish through 
VTR from 2003-2012. This is NMFS' best estimate of affected smoothhound 
shark fishermen.
    While the retention of sharks in federal waters requires one of two 
limited access commercial shark permits, these permits do not specify 
gear type, such as gillnets. For this reason, NMFS does not know the 
exact number of affected shark gillnet fishermen. As of July 11, 2013, 
there are 216 directed shark and 261 incidental shark permit holders. 
Logbook records indicate that there are usually about 10 Atlantic shark 
directed permit holders that use gillnet gear in any year. However, the 
universe of directed permit holders using gillnet gear can change from 
year to year and could include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark 
directed permit.
    As of July 11, 2013, there are 96 Atlantic shark dealers. These 
dealers could be affected by these measures to varying degrees. Not all 
of these dealers purchase smoothhound sharks and those that do are 
concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic region. NMFS will know more about the 
number of affected dealers when smoothhound reporting requirements go 
into place. Similarly, not all of these dealers purchase Atlantic 
sharks caught with gillnet gear. The number is likely low and is 
concentrated in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
    NMFS has determined that the proposed rule is not likely to affect 
any small governmental jurisdictions. More information regarding the 
description of the fisheries affected, and the categories and number of 
permit holders can be found in Chapter 3 of the Draft EA for Amendment 
9.
    Under section 603(b)(4) of the RFA, Agencies are required to 
describe any new reporting, record-keeping and other compliance 
requirements. The Federal commercial smoothhound shark permit 
requirement analyzed in Amendment 3 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP 
will become effective upon the effective date of this rule. NMFS 
submitted a PRA change request to OMB to add this permit to the 
existing HMS permit PRA package (OMB control number 0648-

[[Page 46226]]

0327). OMB subsequently accepted the change request to add the federal 
commercial smoothhound shark permit to the HMS permit PRA package.
    On November 15, 2013, NMFS published a final rule (78 FR 68757) 
that modifies declaration requirements for Atlantic shark fishermen 
using VMS. The final rule implements requirements for operators of 
vessels that have been issued Atlantic HMS permits and are required to 
use their VMS units to provide hourly position reports 24 hours a day, 
7 days a week (24/7). The final rule implements requirements allowing 
the operators of such vessels to make declarations out of the fishery 
when not retaining or fishing for Atlantic HMS for specified periods of 
time that encompass two or more trips. These changes alter the burden 
estimates under the existing HMS permit PRA package (OMB control number 
0648-0327).
    Under section 603(b)(5) of the RFA, agencies must identify, to the 
extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or 
conflict with the proposed rule. Fishermen, dealers, and managers in 
these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements, 
domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the High Seas Fishing Compliance 
Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the 
National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the 
Coastal Zone Management Act. This proposed rule has also been 
determined not to duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other 
Federal rules.
    One of the requirements of an IRFA is to describe any alternatives 
to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives and which 
minimize any significant economic impacts. These impacts are discussed 
below. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603(c) (1)-(4)) lists four 
general categories of ``significant'' alternatives that would assist an 
agency in the development of significant alternatives. These categories 
of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing compliance or 
reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the 
resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, 
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting 
requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of 
performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from 
coverage of the rule for small entities.
    In order to meet the objectives of this proposed rule, consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and the ESA, NMFS cannot establish 
differing compliance requirements for small entities or exempt small 
entities from compliance requirements. Thus, there are no alternatives 
discussed that fall under the first and fourth categories described 
above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design standards that 
would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of draft Amendment 9 while, 
concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. As described 
below, NMFS analyzed several different alternatives in this proposed 
rulemaking and provides rationale for identifying the preferred 
alternative to achieve the desired objective.
    The alternatives considered and analyzed are described below. The 
IRFA assumes that each vessel will have similar catch and gross 
revenues to show the relative impact of the proposed action on vessels.
    With regard to the implementation of the SCA, NMFS considered two 
alternatives. Alternative A1, which would not implement the smooth 
dogfish-specific provisions of the SCA and would instead implement the 
fins attached requirement finalized in Amendment 3, and Alternative A2, 
which proposes to implement the smooth dogfish-specific provisions of 
the SCA and has sub-alternatives that address the specific elements of 
the smooth dogfish-specific provisions.
    Alternative A1 would not implement the smooth dogfish-specific 
provisions of the SCA and would require all smooth dogfish to be landed 
with fins naturally attached. This alternative would change current 
fishing practices since smooth dogfish caught in the directed and 
incidental fisheries are fully processed while at sea. As a result, 
this Alternative A1 would likely lead to reduced landings and a lower 
ex-vessel price since the product would not be fully processed. This 
could lead to adverse socioeconomic impacts.
    Under Alternative A2, the preferred alternative, an allowance for 
the removal of smooth dogfish fins at sea would increase efficiency in 
the smooth dogfish fishery and provide a more highly processed product 
for fishermen to sell to dealers. Quantifying the financial benefits is 
difficult since baseline effort and increases in efficiency cannot be 
calculated, but the benefit would not exceed $585,516, the ex-vessel 
value of the entire smooth dogfish gillnet fishery. The benefit to 
individual vessels is likely equal to the average annual per vessel 
revenues from smooth dogfish caught in the directed sink gillnet 
fishery was which was $15,365.
    Supporting entities, such as bait and tackle suppliers, ice 
suppliers, dealers, and other similar businesses, could experience 
increased revenue if the efficiency of fin removal at sea results in a 
higher quality product. However, while supporting businesses would 
benefit from the increased profitability of the fishery, they do not 
solely rely on the smooth dogfish fishery. In the long-term, it is 
likely that changes in the smooth dogfish fishery would not have large 
impacts on these businesses.
    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1a, smooth dogfish could make up any 
portion of the retained catch on board, provided that no other sharks 
are retained. This sub-alternative would authorize smooth dogfish 
fishermen to retain any non-shark species of fish while still availing 
themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance. Smooth dogfish are 
often caught incidentally during other fishing operations, thus this 
sub-alternative would allow fishermen to maximize the profitability of 
each trip and allow individual operators the flexibility to make 
decisions, before the trip and while on the water, as to the retained 
catch composition that would maximize ex-vessel revenues. Under this 
alternative, fishermen could remove smooth dogfish fins at sea during 
any type of trip including those trips that are directing on other non-
shark species. This alternative would maintain the current practice in 
the fishery and vessels could continue to have ex-vessel revenues of 
$585,516 per year in the smooth dogfish gillnet fishery.
    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1b, fishermen could avail themselves of 
the at-sea fin removal allowance only if smooth dogfish comprise 25 
percent of the retained catch on board. This sub-alternative would 
authorize smooth dogfish fishermen to retain some non-shark species of 
fish while still availing themselves of the at-sea fin removal 
allowance. Smooth dogfish are often caught incidentally during other 
fishing operations, thus this sub-alternative would allow fishermen to 
increase the profitability of each trip and allow individual operators 
the flexibility to make decisions, before the trip and while on the 
water, as to the retained catch composition that would increase ex-
vessel revenues. This increase in flexibility would be to a lesser 
extent than Sub-Alternative A2-1a, which would not have a catch 
composition requirement, but greater than the other sub-alternatives 
that limit the fins-attached exception to the directed fishery. This 
sub-alternative would decrease total ex-vessel revenues relative to the 
current level of $585,516

[[Page 46227]]

per year in the smooth dogfish gillnet fishery.
    Under Sub-Alternative A2-1c, a preferred sub-alternative, fishermen 
could avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance only if 
smooth dogfish comprise 75 percent of the retained catch on board. NMFS 
chose this threshold because in other HMS fisheries, 75 percent 
retention of the target catch is considered a trip where the fisherman 
is fishing for that species. Thus, implementing a target catch 
requirement of 75 percent smooth dogfish would limit the at-sea fin 
removal allowance to those fishing for smooth dogfish. Because some 
fishermen catch smooth dogfish while fishing for other species, this 
sub-alternative is likely to reduce flexibility in which species may be 
retained and would decrease the number of mixed species trips where 
fishermen could take advantage of the at-sea fin removal allowance. 
Between 2003 and 2012, an annual average of 275 vessels landed smooth 
dogfish, but only around 30 vessels targeted smooth dogfish in any 
given year. For this reason, NMFS estimates that approximately 245 
vessels in the mixed species fishery would be impacted by sub-
Alternative A2-1c.
    Sub-Alternative A2-1d would require smooth dogfish to comprise 100 
percent of the retained catch on board the vessel in order for 
fishermen to avail themselves of the at-sea fin removal allowance for 
smooth dogfish. This sub-alternative would eliminate the ability of 
mixed trips to take advantage of the at-sea fin removal, and would 
reduce flexibility in deciding which species to retain on each fishing 
trip. However, the approximately 30 vessels (annual average 2003-2012) 
that target smooth dogfish often only retain smooth dogfish due to the 
processing practices in place. Thus, these fishermen would only have 
smooth dogfish on board and would not be impacted by a 100 percent 
smooth dogfish requirement, and would benefit from the ability to 
remove the smooth dogfish fins at sea.
    Sub-Alternative A2-2a would require federal smoothhound permitted 
fishermen to obtain a smooth dogfish-specific state commercial fishing 
license in order to be able to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea. The 
requirement to obtain a smooth dogfish-specific state commercial 
fishing license may be more difficult for fishermen who are in states 
that do not have smooth dogfish-specific permits in place. This sub-
alternative would result in the increased burden on fishermen to obtain 
another permit, and depending upon the state, could result in an 
additional permit charge. Since most permits are valid for one year, 
fishermen would likely need to renew the permit each year for as long 
as they wish to retain smooth dogfish and remove the fins while at sea. 
Because not all states have smooth dogfish-specific permits, NMFS does 
not prefer this alternative at this time but is seeking comments, 
particularly from the States, about their preferences and what approach 
would work best in conjunction with their state approach to permitting 
and state fishery objectives.
    Sub-Alternative A2-2b, the preferred alternative, would require 
fishermen to hold any state commercial fishing permit that allows 
retention of smooth dogfish. It is likely, however, that most smooth 
dogfish fishermen already hold this type of state permit and would be 
unaffected by this requirement. This sub-alternative would likely be 
the most straightforward for regulatory compliance since the permit 
requirement would be the simpler than sub-alternative A2-2a. Thus, NMFS 
prefers this sub-alternative at this time but is seeking comments, 
particularly from the States, about their preferences and what approach 
would work best in conjunction with their state approach to permitting 
and state fishery objectives.
    NMFS considered two alternatives for Geographic Application of the 
SCA exception. Under Sub-Alternative A2-3a, the exception would apply 
along the Atlantic Coast and the Florida west coast in the Gulf of 
Mexico. As explained earlier, as a practical matter, smooth dogfish and 
other smoothhound species are indistinguishable. The best available 
scientific information indicates that smooth dogfish are likely the 
only smoothhound shark species along the Atlantic coast. In the Gulf of 
Mexico, however, there are at least three different smoothhound 
species, with no practical way to distinguish among them. This sub-
alternative would apply the smooth dogfish exception 50 nautical miles 
from the baseline of all the States that fall under the SCA definition 
of ``State.'' This sub-alternative could result in other smoothhound 
sharks indirectly falling under the exception, because they cannot be 
distinguished from smooth dogfish. NMFS does not expect any impacts 
from this alternative because there is no commercial fishery for smooth 
dogfish in the Gulf of Mexico at this time. However, NMFS does not 
prefer this sub-alternative at this time because, if a fishery does 
develop, species misidentification could result in enforcement action.
    Under Sub-Alternative 3b, the preferred sub-alternative, the 
exception would only apply along the Atlantic coast and not the Florida 
west coast in the Gulf of Mexico. By not extending the exception into 
the Gulf of Mexico, this sub-alternative would ensure that the smooth 
dogfish fins attached exception would only apply along the Atlantic 
Coast where the population is almost entirely smooth dogfish, reducing 
identification problems and inadvertent finning violations. NMFS does 
not expect any impacts from this alternative because, at this time, 
there is no commercial fishery for smooth dogfish in the Gulf of 
Mexico. NMFS prefers this sub-alternative at this time because it 
simplifies enforcement and compliance without adverse impacts.
    NMFS considered 4 alternatives to the smoothhound quota 
alternatives. Alternative B1, which would implement the smoothhound 
shark quota finalized in Amendment 3; Alternative B2, which would 
establish a rolling quota based on the most recent five years of 
landings data; Alternative B3, the preferred alternative, which would 
calculate the smoothhound quota using the same method as in Amendment 3 
but would use updated smoothhound landings information; and Alternative 
B4 which would establish smoothhound shark quotas that reflect any 
necessary adjustments as a result of the 2014 smoothhound shark stock 
assessment.
    Alternative B1 would implement the quota finalized in Amendment 3 
(715.5 mt dw), which was based on the calculation of quotas from a 
historical period in the fishery (1998 to 2007) and adding two standard 
deviations. Current reported smoothhound shark landings are higher than 
the quota level in Alternative B1. As such, implementing this quota 
would prevent fishermen from fishing at current levels, resulting in 
lost revenues. In 2011, the most recent year when landings exceeded the 
Amendment 3 quota, smoothhound shark landings totaled 2,078,251 lb dw 
(ACCSP data), resulting in revenues across the entire smoothhound shark 
fishery of $1,634,337 (2,078,251 lb of meat, 249,390 lb of fins). 
Implementation of the Amendment 3 quota (715.5 mt dw) would result in 
ex-vessel revenues of only $1,240,460 (1,577,391 lb of meat, 189,287 lb 
of fins), which is $393,877 less than 2011 ex-vessel revenues. Both of 
these estimates assume $1.72/lb for fins, $0.58/lb for meat based on 
2013 HMS dealer data, and a 12 percent fin-to-carcass ratio from the 
SCA. Seventy-six percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark 
fishery come from sink gillnets, and there are approximately 82 vessels 
that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an 
average of 82 sink

[[Page 46228]]

gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota in this 
alternative would result in annual ex-vessel revenues of $15,128 per 
vessel, which is less than current ex-vessel revenues of $19,931 per 
vessel. This is an average across all directed and incidental sink 
gillnet vessels and this individual annual vessel ex-vessel revenue may 
fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound 
sharks.
    The quota in Alternative B1 does not accurately characterize 
current reported landings of smoothhound sharks. The VTR data for the 
Northeastern United States shows that an average of 31 vessels between 
2002 and 2012 directed on smoothhound shark. These vessels likely 
fished opportunistically on multiple species of coastal migratory fish 
and elasmobranches, and it is unlikely that any sector within the 
fishing industry in the Northeast (fisherman, dealer, or processor) 
relies wholly upon smoothhound sharks. Longer-term impacts are expected 
to be neutral given the small size of the fishery and the generalist 
nature of the sink gillnet fishery.
    Alternative B2 would establish a rolling smoothhound shark quota 
set above the maximum annual landings for the preceding five years; 
this quota would be recalculated annually to account for the most 
recent landing trends within the smoothhound complex (2015 quota would 
be 1,663 mt dw based on 2009-2013 data). The 2015 quota under this 
alternative would likely result in annual revenues of $2,883,139 
(3,666,250 lb of meat, 439,950 lb of fins) assuming an ex-vessel price 
of $1.72 lb for fins and $0.58 lb for meat based on 2013 HMS dealer 
data. Seventy-six percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark 
fishery come from sink gillnets, and there are approximately 82 vessels 
that use sink gillnet gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an 
average of 82 sink gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the 
quota in this alternative would result in individual vessel annual 
revenues of $35,160, which is more than current ex-vessel revenues of 
$19,931 per vessel. This is an average across all directed and 
incidental sink gillnet vessels, and this individual annual vessel 
revenue may fluctuate based on the degree to which fishermen direct on 
smoothhound sharks.
    Per the intent of Amendment 3, smoothhound management measures are 
designed to characterize and collect data while minimizing changes in 
catch levels and catch rates in the fishery. This goal necessitates a 
quota near actual exploitation levels. Thus, setting the quota above 
current landings levels should allow the fishery to continue, rather 
than be closed, allowing for NMFS to collect more information that can 
be used in future stock assessments. Alternative B2 is consistent with 
the intent of Amendment 3, which was to minimize changes to the fishery 
while information on catch and participants was collected. Because 
landings in the smoothhound shark fishery are likely underreported, it 
is unclear at this time whether the increase in reported landings is 
due to existing smoothhound fishermen reporting in anticipation of 
future management or increased effort (e.g., new entrants into the 
fishery). While a rolling quota would cover all current reporting and 
likely cover all underreporting of landings, the fishery could grow 
exponentially if reported landings continue to increase over 
consecutive years, possibly resulting in stock declines and in turn a 
potential loss of revenue to the fishing industry. The rolling quota 
could also lead to lower quotas in consecutive years if landings 
decrease over time. Thus, the changing nature of the rolling quota 
could lead to uncertainty in the fishery and could cause direct and 
indirect minor adverse socioeconomic impacts in the long term.
    Alternative B3, the preferred alternative, would create a 
smoothhound quota equal to the maximum annual landings from 2004-2013 
plus two standard deviations, and would equal 1,739.9 mt dw. This 
alternative establishes a smoothhound quota two standard deviations 
above the maximum annual landings reported over the last ten years, 
which is the method used to calculate the smoothhound shark quota that 
was finalized in Amendment 3. This quota would result in potential 
annual revenues in the entire fishery of $3,016,460 (3,835,784 lb of 
meat, 460,294 lb of fins) assuming an ex-vessels price of $1.72 lb for 
fins and $0.58 for fins based on 2013 HMS dealer data. Seventy six 
percent of all landings in the smoothhound shark fishery come from sink 
gillnets, and there are approximately 82 vessels that use sink gillnet 
gear to fish for smoothhound sharks. Assuming an average of 82 sink 
gillnet vessels fishing for smoothhound sharks, the quota proposed in 
this alternative would result in individual vessel annual revenues of 
$36,786. This is an average across all directed and incidental sink 
gillnet vessels and this individual annual vessel revenue may fluctuate 
based on the degree to which fishermen direct on smoothhound sharks.
    Consistent with the intent of Amendment 3, the preferred 
alternative B3 would set the quota above current landings levels to 
allow the fishery to continue throughout the year, rather than be 
closed for part of the year. This would allow NMFS to collect year-
round fishery data that could be used in future smoothhound shark stock 
assessments. Because landings in the smoothhound fishery are likely 
underreported, it is unclear at this time whether the increase in 
reported landings is due to existing smoothhound shark fishermen 
reporting in anticipation of future management or increased effort. 
Under this alternative, NMFS anticipates the fishery would operate as 
it currently does. Alternative B3 accounts for recent trends in the 
fishery and the best available landings data as recalculated and 
reported by ACCSP reflects recent behavior in the fishery, and provides 
an appropriate buffer to account for underreporting in the fishery. 
Alternative B3 provides for more stability in the fishery due to a 
quota that does not change from year to year as in alternative B2. 
Additionally, providing a maximum cap on the fishery would allow 
fishermen, dealers, and processors to make better business decisions 
based on a more predictable yield (assuming that the fishery is fished 
to near-full capacity each year).
    Alternative B4 would implement a smoothhound shark quota consistent 
with the results of the 2014 smoothhound shark stock assessment, if the 
results become available before publication of the final rule for this 
action. For the entire smoothhound shark complex, there are four 
possible outcomes: (1) One or more of the stocks is found to be 
overfished but not experiencing overfishing; (2) one or more of the 
stocks is found to be experiencing overfishing but not yet overfished; 
(3) one or more of the stocks is found to be overfished and 
experiencing overfishing; or (4) all stocks are found to not be 
overfished or experiencing overfishing (healthy). A smoothhound shark 
quota that is based on the results of a stock assessment would provide 
short and long-term ecological benefits and the resulting sustainable 
fishery will ensure long-term socioeconomic benefits for the 
smoothhound shark fishermen. Unless the stock assessment indicates that 
current fishing levels are unsustainable, short-term negative 
socioeconomic impacts are unlikely to result from this alternative. 
However, the stock assessment is not yet available and NMFS is unsure 
if it will be available

[[Page 46229]]

before the final rule for this action publishes. Therefore, NMFS does 
not prefer this alternative at this time.
    In order to implement the TCs of the 2012 Shark BiOp in the 
smoothhound shark fishery, NMFS considered 4 alternatives. The No 
Action alternative, which would not implement TC 4 of the 2012 Shark 
BiOp; C2 which would require smoothhound shark fishermen to conduct net 
checks at least every 2 hours; C3 which would require smoothhound shark 
fishermen to limit their gillnet soak time to 24 hours and those 
smoothhound shark fishermen that also have a Atlantic shark limited 
access permit to check their nets at least every 2 hours; and C4 which 
would require smoothhound and Atlantic shark fishermen using sink 
gillnet to soak their nets no longer than 24 hours and those fishermen 
using drift gillnets to check their nets at least every 2 hours.
    Alternative C1 would not implement the BiOp term and condition 
requiring all smoothhound shark permit holders to either check their 
gillnet gear at least every 2.0 hours, or limit their soak time to no 
more than 24 hours. This alternative would likely result in short- and 
long-term neutral direct socioeconomic impacts. Under Alternative C1, 
smoothhound shark fishermen would continue to fish as they do now and 
so this alternative would not have economic impacts that differ from 
the status quo. Similarly, this alternative would likely result in 
neutral short and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts since 
supporting businesses including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice 
suppliers would not be impacted.
    Alternative C2 would require smoothhound shark fishermen using 
gillnet gear to conduct net checks at least every 2 hours to check for 
and remove any protected species, and would likely result in short- and 
long-term direct moderate adverse socioeconomic impacts. Some 
smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen fish multiple nets at one time or 
deploy their net(s), leave the vicinity, and return at some later time. 
Alternative C2 would require these fishermen to check each gillnet at 
least once every 2 hours, making fishing with multiple nets or leaving 
nets unattended difficult. This would likely lead to a reduction in 
effort and landing levels, resulting in lower ex-vessel revenues. 
Quantifying the loss of income is difficult without information 
characterizing the fishery, including the number of nets fished. 
However, limiting the amount of fishing effort in this manner is likely 
to reduce total landings of smoothhound sharks or, in order to keep 
landing levels high, extend the length of trips. Landings of 
incidentally caught fish species could be reduced as well, although 
under preferred sub-Alternative A2-1c, smoothhound shark fishermen that 
wish to remove smooth dogfish fins at sea could not retain other 
species. This alternative would not have a large impact on supporting 
businesses such as dealers or bait, tackle, and ice suppliers, since 
these businesses do not solely rely on the smoothhound shark fishery. 
The smoothhound shark fishery is small relative to other fisheries. 
Thus, Alternative C2 would likely result in short- and long-term 
indirect neutral socioeconomic impacts. Alternative C2 would impact the 
approximately 31 vessel that annually direct on smoothhound sharks with 
gillnet gear (annual average from 2003-2013).
    Alternative C3 would establish a gillnet soak time limit of 24 
hours for smoothhound shark permit holders. Under this alternative, 
fishermen holding both an Atlantic shark limited access permit and a 
smoothhound shark permit must abide by the 24 hour soak time 
restriction and conduct net checks at least every 2 hours. This 
alternative would likely result in short- and long-term direct minor 
adverse socioeconomic impacts to those smoothhound permitted fishermen 
that also have an Atlantic shark limited access permit, and therefore 
would be required to check their nets at least every 2 hours. 
Currently, smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen sometimes fish multiple 
nets or leave nets unattended for short periods of time. Rarely are 
these nets soaked for more than 24 hours, thus, this alternative would 
not impact smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen that do not have an 
Atlantic shark limited access permit. Adverse socioeconomic impacts 
resulting from this alternative would likely occur to the subset of 
smoothhound shark fishermen that also hold an Atlantic shark limited 
access permit. These smoothhound shark fishermen would be at a 
disadvantage to other smoothhound shark fishermen that do not have an 
Atlantic shark limited access permit, because they would be required to 
check their gillnets at least every 2 hours, which is a large change in 
the way the smoothhound shark fishery currently operates. Dropping the 
Atlantic shark permit to avoid the net check requirement is not likely 
feasible, since Atlantic shark permits are limited access and cannot be 
easily obtained. Additionally, pelagic longline fishermen are required 
to have an incidental or directed shark permit when targeting swordfish 
or tunas, even if they are not fishing for sharks, due to the 
likelihood of incidental shark catch. In practical terms, this 
alternative could result in smoothhound shark gillnet fishermen abiding 
by the 2 hour net check requirement even if they do not fish for 
Atlantic sharks and only hold a Atlantic shark limited access permit to 
fish for swordfish or tunas (note that gillnets cannot be used to 
target swordfish or tunas, but some vessels may switch gears between 
trips). For this subset of fishermen, basing gillnet requirements on 
permit types could introduce fishing inefficiencies when compared to 
other smoothhound fishermen, likely resulting in adverse socioeconomic 
impacts to these fishermen. It is unlikely that this alternative would 
have a large impact on supporting businesses such as dealers or bait, 
tackle, and ice suppliers since these businesses do not solely rely on 
the smoothhound shark fishery. As noted above, the smoothhound shark 
fishery is small relative to other fisheries, and it is difficult to 
determine the number of fishermen that would be adversely affected 
since NMFS does not yet know which vessels will obtain a smoothhound 
shark fishing permit. However, it is likely that this number will be 
approximately 170, which is the average annual number of vessel that 
retain smoothhound sharks.
    Alternative C4, the preferred alternative, would establish a soak 
time limit of 24 hours for fishermen using sink gillnet gear and a 2 
hour net check requirement for fishermen using drift gillnet gear in 
the Atlantic shark and smoothhound shark fisheries. Drift gillnets 
would be defined as those that are unattached to the ocean bottom with 
a float line at the surface. Sink gillnet gear would be defined as 
those with a weight line that sinks to the ocean bottom, has a 
submerged float line, and is designed to be fished on or near the 
bottom. Alternative C4 would likely result in neutral short- and long-
term direct socioeconomic impacts. Smoothhound shark fishermen, who 
typically use sink gillnets, would be required to limit soak times to 
24 hours and as discussed above, this requirement is unlikely to 
significantly alter smoothhound shark fishing practices. Drift gillnet 
fishermen, who are more likely to target Atlantic sharks other than 
smoothhound sharks, would be required to check their nets at least 
every 2 hours, as is currently required. Thus, this alternative is 
unlikely to have any socioeconomic impacts to Atlantic shark and 
smoothhound shark fishermen since it would not change

[[Page 46230]]

current fishing practices. Similarly, this alternative would likely 
result in neutral short- and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts 
since supporting businesses including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice 
suppliers should not be impacted. Alternative C4 would impact the 
approximately 31 vessels that annually direct on smoothhound sharks 
with gillnet gear. Since Alternative C4 would have minimal economic 
impact but is still consistent with the 2012 Shark BiOp, NMFS prefers 
this alternative at this time.
    NMFS also considered two alternatives to streamline the current VMS 
requirements for Atlantic shark fishermen with gillnet gear on board. 
NMFS considered two alternatives, the No Action alternative that would 
maintain the current requirement to have VMS on board when fishing for 
Atlantic sharks with gillnet regardless of where the vessel is fishing, 
and alternative D2 that would only require VMS on board for Atlantic 
shark fishermen using gillnet gear in an area specified by the ALWTRP 
requirements at 50 CFR 229.32.
    Alternative D1 would maintain the current requirement that Atlantic 
shark permit holders fishing with gillnet gear must have VMS on board 
from November 15-April 15, regardless of where the vessel is fishing. 
These VMS requirements were put in place as an enforcement tool for 
complying with the ALWTRP requirements set forth in 50 CFR 229.32. Per 
50 CFR 229.32 (h)(2)(i) Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen are only 
required to have VMS if they are fishing in the Southeast U.S. 
Monitoring Area. Purchasing and installing a VMS unit costs fishermen 
around $3,500 and monthly data transmission charges cost, on average, 
approximately $44.00. Because these monthly costs are currently 
incurred whenever a shark gillnet fishermen is fishing from November 
15-April 15, these costs can affect the fishermen's annual revenues. 
Although the affected fishermen already have VMS installed, they 
continue to pay for transmission and maintenance costs, and could need 
to buy a new unit if theirs fails. NMFS notes that there may be a 
reimbursement program that would defray part of the purchase cost, but 
whether that program will exist is not certain at this time. Thus, it 
is likely that this alternative could have short and long-term direct 
minor adverse socioeconomic impacts to fishermen due to the cost of 
purchasing and maintaining a VMS unit. While the retention of sharks in 
federal waters requires one of two limited access commercial shark 
permits, these permits do not specify gear type, including gillnets. 
For this reason, NMFS does not know the exact number of affected shark 
gillnet fishermen. As of July 11, 2013, there are 216 directed shark 
and 261 incidental shark permit holders. Logbook records indicate that 
there are usually about 10 Atlantic shark directed permit holders that 
use gillnet gear in any year. However, the universe of directed permit 
holders using gillnet gear can change from year to year and could 
include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark directed permit.
    Alternative D2, the preferred alternative, would change the gillnet 
VMS requirements to require federal directed shark permit holders with 
gillnet gear on board to use VMS only in the vicinity of the Southeast 
U.S. Monitoring Area, pursuant to ALWTRP requirements. This alternative 
would have short- and long-term direct minor beneficial socioeconomic 
impacts. Atlantic shark gillnet fishermen fishing in the vicinity of 
the Southeast U.S. Monitoring Area would still incur the installation 
costs of the VMS, but data transmission would be limited to those times 
when the vessel is in this area. Furthermore, shark gillnet fishermen 
outside of this area that do not fish in the vicinity of the Southeast 
U.S Monitoring Area would not need to install a VMS unit or, if they 
already have one, maintain the VMS unit or replace a malfunctioning 
one. Thus, the socioeconomic impacts from this alternative, while still 
adverse, are of a lesser degree than those under Alternative D1, the No 
Action alternative. This alternative would likely result in neutral 
short- and long-term indirect socioeconomic impacts, since supporting 
businesses including dealers and bait, tackle, and ice suppliers would 
not be impacted. As noted in the other alternatives discussions, NMFS 
does not know the exact number of shark gillnet fishermen that would be 
affected by this alternative. As of July 11, 2013, there are 216 
directed shark and 261 incidental shark permit holders. Logbook records 
indicate that there are usually about 10 Atlantic shark directed permit 
holders that use gillnet gear in any year. However, the universe of 
directed permit holders using gillnet gear can change from year to year 
and could include anyone who holds an Atlantic shark directed permit. 
Since this alternative is more in line with the requirements of the 
ALWTRP, and because it would reduce socioeconomic impacts while still 
maintaining beneficial ecological impacts for protected whale species, 
NMFS prefers this alternative at this time.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Penalties, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Retention limits.

    Dated: August 1, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is proposed to 
be amended as follows:

 PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

0
1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  635.2, definitions for ``Atlantic States,'' ``Drift 
gillnet,'' ``Sink gillnet,'' and ``Smoothhound shark'' are added in 
alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  635.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Atlantic States, consistent with section 803 of Public law 103-206 
(16 U.S.C. 5102), refers to Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, 
the District of Columbia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, 
for purposes of applying the Shark Conservation Act exception at 50 CFR 
635.30(c)(5).
* * * * *
    Drift gillnet means a gillnet that is unattached to the ocean 
bottom and not anchored, secured or weighted to the ocean bottom.
* * * * *
    Sink gillnet means a gillnet that is designed to be or is fished on 
or near the bottom in the lower third of the water column by means of a 
weight line or enough weights and anchors that the bottom of the 
gillnet sinks to, on, or near the ocean bottom.
* * * * *
    Smoothhound shark(s) means one of the species, or part thereof, 
listed in section E of table 1 in appendix A to this part.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  635.4, paragraphs (e)(4) and (m)(2) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  635.4  Permits and fees.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (4) Owners of vessels that fish for, take, retain, or possess the 
Atlantic

[[Page 46231]]

oceanic sharks listed in section E of Table 1 of Appendix A with an 
intention to sell must obtain a Federal commercial smoothhound permit. 
A Federal commercial smoothhound permit may be issued to a vessel alone 
or to a vessel that also holds either a Federal Atlantic commercial 
shark directed or incidental limited access permit.
* * * * *
    (m) * * *
    (2) Shark and swordfish permits. A vessel owner must obtain the 
applicable limited access permit(s) issued pursuant to the requirements 
in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section and/or a Federal commercial 
smoothhound permit issued under paragraph (e) of this section; or an 
HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit issued under paragraph (o) 
of this section, if: The vessel is used to fish for or take sharks 
commercially from the management unit; sharks from the management unit 
are retained or possessed on the vessel with an intention to sell; or 
sharks from the management unit are sold from the vessel. A vessel 
owner must obtain the applicable limited access permit(s) issued 
pursuant to the requirements in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section, 
a Swordfish General Commercial permit issued under paragraph (f) of 
this section, an Incidental HMS Squid Trawl permit issued under 
paragraph (n) of this section, an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat 
permit issued under paragraph (o) of this section, or an HMS Charter/
Headboat permit issued under paragraph (b) of this section, which 
authorizes a Charter/Headboat to fish commercially for swordfish on a 
non for-hire trip subject to the retention limits at Sec.  635.24(b)(4) 
if: The vessel is used to fish for or take swordfish commercially from 
the management unit; swordfish from the management unit are retained or 
possessed on the vessel with an intention to sell; or swordfish from 
the management unit are sold from the vessel. The commercial retention 
and sale of swordfish from vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat 
permit is permissible only when the vessel is on a non for-hire trip. 
Only persons holding non-expired shark and swordfish limited access 
permit(s) in the preceding year are eligible to renew those limited 
access permit(s). Transferors may not renew limited access permits that 
have been transferred according to the procedures in paragraph (l) of 
this section.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  635.7, paragraph (a) is revised and paragraph (g) is added 
to read as follows:


Sec.  635.7  At-sea observer coverage.

    (a) Applicability. NMFS may select for at-sea observer coverage any 
vessel that has an Atlantic HMS, tunas, shark or swordfish permit 
issued under Sec.  635.4 or Sec.  635.32. Vessels permitted in the HMS 
Charter/Headboat and Angling categories will be requested to take 
observers on a voluntary basis. When selected, vessels issued any other 
permit under Sec.  635.4 or Sec.  635.32 are required to take observers 
on a mandatory basis. Requirements for selection, notification, and 
assignment of observers for vessels that have been issued Federal 
commercial smoothhound permits are set forth in paragraph (g) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (g) Selection, Notification, and Assignment of Observers for 
Commercial Smoothhound Vessels. (1) NMFS may request any vessel issued 
a Federal commercial smoothhound shark permit to carry a NMFS-approved 
observer.
    (2) If requested to carry an observer, it is the responsibility of 
the vessel owner to arrange for and facilitate observer placements. 
Owners of vessels selected for observer coverage must notify NMFS, at 
an address specified by NMFS, before commencing any fishing trip that 
may result in the harvest of smoothhound sharks. Notification 
procedures are set forth in paragraph (4) below.
    (3) NMFS may waive the requirement to carry an observer if an 
observer is not available for placement or if the facilities on a 
vessel for housing the observer, or for carrying out observer 
functions, are so inadequate or unsafe that the health or safety of the 
observer, or the safe operation of the vessel, would be jeopardized.
    (4) A vessel issued a Federal smoothhound permit may not begin a 
fishing trip without providing notice as required under this paragraph 
and receiving an observer notification or waiver pursuant to paragraph 
(g)(5) of this section. Unless otherwise notified by NMFS, at least 48 
hours prior to departing port on any trip, the owner or operator of a 
vessel issued a Federal smoothhound permit must provide notice to NMFS 
at an address specified by NMFS of the vessel name and permit number; 
contact name and telephone number for coordination of observer 
deployment; date, time, and port of departure; and the vessel's trip 
plan, including area to be fished and gear type to be used. For trips 
lasting 48 hours or less from the time the vessel leaves port to begin 
a fishing trip until the time the vessel returns to port upon the 
completion of the fishing trip, the vessel owner or operator may make a 
weekly notification rather than trip-by-trip calls. For weekly 
notifications, a vessel owner or operator must notify NMFS at an 
address specified by NMFS by 1 a.m. of the Friday preceding the week 
(Sunday through Saturday) that it intends to complete at least one 
smoothhound trip during the following week and provide the date, time, 
port of departure, area to be fished, and gear type to be used for each 
trip during that week. Such weekly notifications must be made no more 
than 10 days in advance of each fishing trip. The vessel owner or 
operator must notify NMFS of any trip plan changes at least 24 hours 
prior to vessel departure from port.
    (5) Within 24 hours of a notice made under paragraph (g)(4) of this 
section, NMFS will notify the vessel owner or operator via the 
information provided by the vessel owner or operator, whether the 
vessel must carry an observer or if a waiver has been granted pursuant 
to paragraph (g)(3) of this section. All trip notifications shall be 
issued a unique confirmation number. A vessel may not fish on a 
smoothhound shark trip with an observer waiver confirmation number that 
does not match the trip plan that was provided to NMFS, pursuant to 
paragraph (g)(4) of this section. Confirmation numbers for trip 
notification calls are valid for 48 hours from the intended sail date. 
If a trip is interrupted and returns to port due to bad weather or 
other circumstance beyond the owner's or operator's control, and goes 
back out within 48 hours, the same confirmation number and observer 
status remains. If the layover time is greater than 48 hours, a new 
trip notification must be made by the operator or owner of the vessel.
0
5. In Sec.  635.20, paragraph (e)(4) is revised to read as follows


Sec.  635.20  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (4) There is no size limit for smoothhound sharks taken under the 
recreational retention limits specified at Sec.  635.22(c)(6).
* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  635.21, paragraphs (g)(2) and (3), as proposed to be 
amended at 78 FR 52032, August 21, 2013, are further revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  635.21  Gear operation and deployment restrictions.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (2) While fishing with a drift gillnet, a vessel issued or required 
to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark

[[Page 46232]]

limited access permit and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit 
must conduct net checks at least every 2 hours to look for and remove 
any sea turtles, marine mammals, Atlantic sturgeon, or smalltooth 
sawfish, and the drift gillnet must remain attached to at least one 
vessel at one end, except during net checks. Smalltooth sawfish must 
not be removed from the water while being removed from the net.
    (3) While fishing with a sink gillnet, vessels issued or required 
to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark limited access permit 
and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit must limit the soak time 
of the sink gillnet gear to 24 hours, measured from the time the sink 
gillnet first enters the water to the time it is completely removed 
from the water.
* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  635.22, paragraph (c)(6) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.22  Recreational retention limits.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (6) The smoothhound sharks listed in Section E of Table 1 of 
Appendix A to this part may be retained and are subject only to the 
size limits described in Sec.  635.20(e)(4).
* * * * *
0
8. In Sec.  635.24, paragraph (a)(7) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.24  Commercial retention limits for sharks, swordfish, and 
BAYS tunas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (7) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a 
Federal commercial smoothhound permit may retain, possess, and land 
smoothhound sharks if the smoothhound fishery is open in accordance 
with Sec. Sec.  635.27 and 635.28. Persons aboard a vessel in a trawl 
fishery that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit 
and are in compliance with all other applicable regulations, may 
retain, possess, land, or sell incidentally-caught smoothhound sharks, 
but only up to an amount that does not exceed 25 percent, by weight, of 
the total catch on board and/or offloaded from the vessel. A vessel is 
in a trawl fishery when it has no commercial fishing gear other than 
trawls on board and when smoothhound sharks constitute no more than 25 
percent by weight of the total catch on board or offloaded from the 
vessel.
* * * * *
0
9. In Sec.  635.27, paragraphs (b)(1)(xi) and (b)(4)(iv) are added and 
read as follows:


Sec.  635.27  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (xi) Smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for 
smoothhound sharks is 1782.2 mt dw.
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (iv) The base annual quota for persons who collect smoothhound 
sharks under a display permit or EFP is 6 mt ww (4.3 mt dw).
* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  635.30, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.30  Possession at sea and landing.

* * * * *
    (c) Shark. (1) In addition to the regulations issued at part 600, 
subpart N, of this chapter, a person who owns or operates a vessel 
issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under Sec.  635.4 
must maintain all the shark fins including the tail naturally attached 
to the shark carcass until the shark has been offloaded from the 
vessel, except for under the conditions specified in Sec.  
635.30(c)(5). While sharks are on board and when sharks are being 
offloaded, persons issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit 
under Sec.  635.4 are subject to the regulations at part 600, subpart 
N, of this chapter.
    (2) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has a valid Federal 
Atlantic commercial shark permit may remove the head and viscera of the 
shark while on board the vessel. At any time when on the vessel, sharks 
must not have the backbone removed and must not be halved, quartered, 
filleted, or otherwise reduced. All fins, including the tail, must 
remain naturally attached to the shark through offloading, except under 
the conditions specified for smooth dogfish in paragraph (c)(5) of this 
section. While on the vessel, fins may be sliced so that the fin can be 
folded along the carcass for storage purposes as long as the fin 
remains naturally attached to the carcass via at least a small portion 
of uncut skin. The fins and tail may only be removed from the carcass 
once the shark has been landed and offloaded, except under the 
conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.
    (3) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a 
Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit and who lands sharks in an 
Atlantic coastal port, including ports in the Gulf of Mexico and 
Caribbean Sea, must have all fins and carcasses weighed and recorded on 
the weighout slips specified in Sec.  635.5(a)(2) and in accordance 
with part 600, subpart N, of this chapter. Persons may not possess any 
shark fins not naturally attached to a shark carcass on board a fishing 
vessel at any time, except under the conditions specified in paragraph 
(c)(5) of this section. Once landed and offloaded, sharks that have 
been halved, quartered, filleted, cut up, or reduced in any manner may 
not be brought back on board a vessel that has been or should have been 
issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit.
    (4) Persons aboard a vessel that does not have a Federal Atlantic 
commercial shark permit must maintain a shark intact through landing 
with the head, tail, and all fins naturally attached, except under the 
conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. The shark may 
be bled and the viscera may be removed.
    (5) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued or 
is required to be issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may 
remove the fins and tail of a smooth dogfish shark prior to offloading 
if the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section 
have been met. If the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) 
have not been met, all fins, including the tail, must remain naturally 
attached to the smooth dogfish through offloading from the vessel:
    (i) The smooth dogfish was caught within waters of the United 
States located shoreward of a line drawn in such a manner that each 
point on it is 50 nautical miles from the baseline of an Atlantic 
State, from which the territorial sea is measured, from Maine south 
through Florida to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shark regional 
boundary defined in Sec.  635.27(b)(1).
    (ii) The vessel has been issued both a Federal commercial 
smoothhound permit and a valid State commercial fishing permit that 
allows for fishing for smooth dogfish.
    (iii) Smooth dogfish make up at least 75 percent of the retained 
catch on board, and no other shark species are retained.
    (iv) Total weight of the smooth dogfish fins landed or found on 
board a vessel cannot exceed 12 percent of the total dressed weight of 
smooth dogfish carcasses on board or landed from the fishing vessel.
* * * * *
0
11. In Sec.  635.69, paragraph (a)(3) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  635.69  Vessel monitoring systems.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) Pursuant to Atlantic large whale take reduction plan 
requirements at 50

[[Page 46233]]

CFR 229.32(h), whenever a vessel issued a directed shark LAP has a 
gillnet(s) on board.
* * * * *
0
12. In Sec.  635.71, paragraphs (d)(6), (d)(7), and (d)(18) are revised 
to read as follows:


Sec.  635.71  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (6) Fail to maintain a shark in its proper form, as specified in 
Sec.  635.30(c). Fail to maintain naturally attached shark fins through 
offloading as specified in Sec.  635.30(c), except for under the 
conditions specified in Sec.  635.30(c)(5).
    (7) Sell or purchase smooth dogfish fins that are disproportionate 
to the weight of smooth dogfish carcasses, as specified in Sec.  
635.30(c)(5).
* * * * *
    (18) Retain or possess on board a vessel in the trawl fishery 
smoothhound sharks in an amount that exceeds 25 percent, by weight, of 
the total fish on board or offloaded from the vessel, as specified at 
Sec.  635.24(a)(7).
* * * * *
0
13. In appendix A to part 635, section E of table 1 is revised to read 
as follows:

Appendix A to Part 635--Species Tables

Table 1 of Appendix A to Part 635--Oceanic Sharks

* * * * *

E. Smoothhound Sharks

Smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis
Florida smoothhound, Mustelus norrisi
Gulf smoothhound, Mustelus sinusmexicanus
Mustelus species

[FR Doc. 2014-18671 Filed 8-6-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P