[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 168 (Wednesday, August 29, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 52259-52261]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-21318]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 300 and 635

[Docket No. 120510051-2335-02]
RIN 0648-BC16

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Lifting Trade Restrictive 

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

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This final rule lifts the trade restrictions on importing 
bigeye tuna from Bolivia and Georgia to implement a recommendation 
adopted at the 2011 meeting of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Additionally, this rule changes 
the regulations containing species-specific harmonized tariff codes to 
be consistent with recent changes adopted by the U.S. International 
Trade Commission (ITC).

DATES: Effective September 28, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Warren at 978-281-9260.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. Atlantic tuna fisheries are managed 
under the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management 
Plan and regulations at 50 CFR part 635, pursuant to the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act), and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA). Under ATCA, 
the Secretary shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary and 
appropriate to carry out ICCAT Recommendations.

[[Page 52260]]

Trade Measures

    In 2002 and 2003, ICCAT adopted binding measures for Parties to 
prohibit imports of Atlantic bigeye tuna and its products from Bolivia 
and Georgia. Specifically, Recommendations 02-17 and 03-18 prohibited 
the imports to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated catches of 
tuna (especially bigeye tuna) by large-scale Bolivian and Georgian 
longline vessels respectively, because they operated in a manner that 
diminished the effectiveness of ICCAT measures. Recommendation 02-17 
expressed concern regarding the overfished status of bigeye tuna in the 
Atlantic Ocean and noted ICCAT had reviewed information that Bolivian 
vessels fishing for Atlantic bigeye tuna had continued to operate in a 
manner that diminished the effectiveness of ICCAT conservation and 
management measures. Similarly, Recommendation 03-18 expressed concern 
regarding the overfished status of bigeye tuna in the Atlantic Ocean 
and stated that Georgian vessels had continued to operate in a manner 
that diminished the effectiveness of ICCAT conservation and management 
measures. In 2004, NMFS published a final rule (69 FR 70396; December 
6, 2004) that implemented these ICCAT recommendations. When the import 
prohibitions were implemented in the 2004 final rule, neither Bolivia 
nor Georgia had exported Atlantic bigeye tuna to the United States in 
the previous 10 years; therefore, NMFS determined that the import 
prohibitions would have no socioeconomic impact on fishery 
    At its 2011 annual meeting, ICCAT examined recent actions of 
Bolivia and Georgia, and determined that the actions of their vessels 
no longer diminish the effectiveness of ICCAT's conservation and 
management measures. Some of the relevant considerations were as 
follows: (1) Bolivia and Georgia have been responsive to ICCAT requests 
for information on actions taken to control their vessels; (2) Since 
2006, Bolivia has not registered any fishing vessels to carry out 
fishing-related activities in the Convention area, and information 
available to ICCAT has indicated that Bolivia has not fished for ICCAT 
species in recent years; and (3) Georgia has recently taken action to 
de-register those of its vessels fishing without authorization in the 
Convention area and has considered increased participation in the work 
    Thus, ICCAT adopted Recommendation 11-19, which requires Parties to 
lift import prohibitions on Atlantic bigeye tuna from Bolivia and 
Georgia as soon as possible in accordance with domestic procedures. 
Therefore, on June 26, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to remove 
the Atlantic bigeye tuna import prohibitions from Bolivia and Georgia 
(77 FR 38030), and provided a 30-day public comment period, which ended 
July 26, 2012. Because there were no imports of Atlantic bigeye tuna 
from these countries prior to the implementation of the prohibitions, 
and because NMFS does not expect imports in the future, NMFS does not 
expect that lifting the prohibitions will result in socioeconomic 
impacts on U.S. traders.
    Consistent with the regulations at 50 CFR Sec.  635.40(c), for one 
year after the date of filing of the final rule lifting the import 
restrictions, every shipment that previously was subject to the import 
restrictions will continue to be denied entry unless the shipment is 
accompanied by a certification executed by an authorized official of 
the country of export and authenticated by a consular officer or 
consular agent of the United States certifying that no portion of the 
shipment is composed of fish taken prior to or during the import 

Harmonized Tariff Codes

    The June 26, 2012, proposed rule also included administrative 
changes in support of the International Trade Permit program. 
Importers, exporters and re-exporters of Atlantic, Pacific, and 
Southern bluefin tuna, swordfish, frozen bigeye tuna, and shark fins 
must obtain an International Trade Permit consistent with regulations 
at 50 CFR 300, subpart M. Permit holders must include the species-
specific harmonized tariff codes on the necessary trade documentation 
when trading these species. The Harmonized System is an international 
product nomenclature system developed by the World Customs 
Organization. It is updated every 5 years, and the most recent update 
occurred in 2012, with subsequent modifications to the Harmonized 
Tariff Schedule of the United States. Thus, the section of the 
regulations that include harmonized tariff codes for highly migratory 
species products located at 50 CFR 300.184 is being changed 
accordingly. These changes are not expected to have economic impacts 
and are necessary to maintain consistency with current trade 
regulations and to ensure that permit holders have the most recent 
information in order to simplify compliance with the regulations. The 
Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States is published by 
the ITC. The chapter pertaining to fish, including Highly Migratory 
Species (HMS), is available at the following Web site: http://www.usitc.gov/publications/docs/tata/hts/bychapter/1202C03.pdf.

Responses to Public Comments

    NMFS received two written comments on the proposed rule during the 
public comment period.
    Comment 1: The commenter opposed the regulatory changes, and 
suggested that Bolivia and Georgia ``keep their fish''.
    Response: If importers determine it is feasible and economically 
beneficial to import bigeye tuna from Bolivia or Georgia, they are now 
legally free to do so consistent with a binding decision made at the 
relevant international regional fishery management organization 
(ICCAT). That said, NMFS does not anticipate any imports as a result of 
this change.
    Comment 2: The commenter noted that the regulations containing 
excerpts of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (for HMS) exclude fresh 
bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna and suggested that NMFS investigate the 
issue due to concerns about illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) 
fishing and trade in these species.
    Response: The commenter stated that the regulations contain 
``excerpts of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.'' To clarify, the 
regulations will no longer ``excerpt'' the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. 
Instead, the revised regulations will simply list the fish and fish 
products that are subject to reporting requirements. The commenter 
notes that fresh bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna are not among the 
species subject to the reporting requirements. NMFS includes on the 
list at Sec.  300.184 those species that are subject to trade tracking 
and documentation requirements by one or more regional fishery 
management organizations (RFMO), including ICCAT. Yellowfin and fresh 
bigeye tuna currently are not the subject of such reporting 
requirements and thus are not on the list of species. NMFS will 
continue to consider this issue as part of international discussions on 
IUU fishing and in conjunction with future requests to the ITC, to help 
determine whether additional tracking measures and attendant additional 
HTS codes are needed in the future.


    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
necessary for the conservation and management of the Atlantic highly 
migratory species

[[Page 52261]]

fishery, and is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration at the proposed rule stage that this rule, if adopted, 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. None of the public comments submitted to NMFS addressed 
the certification, and no new information has become available that 
would change this determination. As a result, a final regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 300

    Antarctica, Canada, Exports, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Imports, 
Indians, Labeling, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Russian Federation, Transportation, Treaties, Wildlife.

50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, 
Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: August 23, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 300 and 635 
are amended as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951-961 and 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et 

2. Section 300.184 is revised to read as follows:

Sec.  300.184  Species subject to permitting, documentation, reporting, 
and recordkeeping requirements.

    (a) Except as noted at (b), the following fish or fish products are 
subject to the requirements of this subpart, regardless of ocean area 
of catch, and must be accompanied by the appropriate heading or 
subheading numbers from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United 
States (HTS).
    (1) Bluefin tuna,
    (2) Southern bluefin tuna,
    (3) Frozen bigeye tuna,
    (4) Swordfish, and
    (5) Shark fins.
    (b) For bluefin tuna, southern bluefin tuna, frozen bigeye tuna, 
and swordfish, fish parts other than meat (e.g., heads, eyes, roe, 
guts, and tails) may be imported without documentation.


3. 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.

Sec.  635.41  [Amended]

4. In Sec.  635.41, remove and reserve paragraph (a).

[FR Doc. 2012-21318 Filed 8-28-12; 8:45 am]