[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 34 (Wednesday, February 20, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11788-11789]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-03847]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 120306154-2241-02]
RIN 0648-XC506

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 
Fisheries; General Category Fishery

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.


SUMMARY: NMFS closes the General category fishery for large medium and 
giant Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) until the General category reopens on 
June 1, 2013. This action is being taken to prevent overharvest of the 
General category January BFT subquota.

DATES: Effective 11:30 p.m., local time, February 15, through May 31, 

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by 
persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR 
part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by 
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 
(ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, consistent with 
the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 
58058, October 2, 2006) and subsequent rulemaking.
    NMFS is required, under Sec.  635.28(a)(1), to file a closure 
notice with the Office of the Federal Register for publication when a 
BFT quota is reached or is projected to be reached. On and after the 
effective date and time of such notification, for the remainder of the 
fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the 
notification, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under that quota 
category is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period 
or until such date as specified in the notice.

[[Page 11789]]

    The current General category baseline quota is 435.1 mt, with 23.1 
mt allocated for the January time period. On November 30, 2011, NMFS 
published a final rule to address adjustments to the General and 
Harpoon category regulations. Among other actions, this final rule 
allowed the General category BFT season to remain open until the 
``January subquota'' amount is reached or March 31 (whichever happens 
    Based on the best available BFT landings information for the 
General category BFT fishery (i.e., 20.4 mt of the available 23.1 mt 
landed as of February 12, 2013), NMFS has determined that the General 
category January subquota will be reached by February 15, 2013. 
Therefore, through May 31, 2013, retaining, possessing, or landing 
large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the 
Atlantic tunas General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories (while 
fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on February 
15, 2013. The General category will reopen automatically on June 1, 
2013, for the June through August subperiod. This action is taken 
consistent with the regulations at Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(1)(iii) and 
635.28(a)(1). The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of 
the General category January BFT subquota.
    Fishermen may catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all 
sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and the 
tag-and-release programs at Sec.  635.26. Fishermen are also reminded 
that all BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will 
maximize survivability, and without removing the fish from the water, 
consistent with requirements at Sec.  635.21(a)(1). For additional 
information on safe handling, see the ``Careful Catch and Release'' 
brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.
    If needed, subsequent General category adjustments will be 
published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the 
Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or 
access www.hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates.


    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior 
notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for 
the following reasons:
    The regulations implementing the Consolidated HMS FMP provide for 
inseason retention limit adjustments and fishery closures to respond to 
the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, 
the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in 
the BFT fishery. The closure of the General category January BFT 
fishery is necessary to prevent overharvest of the General category 
January BFT subquota. NMFS provides notification of closures by 
publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who 
have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and 
updating the information posted on the Atlantic Tunas Information Line 
and on www.hmspermits.noaa.gov.
    These fisheries are currently underway and delaying this action 
would be contrary to the public interest as it could result in 
excessive BFT landings that may result in future potential quota 
reductions for the General category. NMFS must close the General 
category January BFT fishery before landings of large medium and giant 
BFT exceed the available subquota. Therefore, the AA finds good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for 
public comment. For all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 
5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.
    This action is being taken under Sec. Sec.  635.27(a)(1)(iii) and 
635.28(a)(1), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: February 14, 2013.
Emily H. Menashes,
Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-03847 Filed 2-14-13; 4:15 pm]