[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 155 (Monday, August 14, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 37825-37826]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-17122]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 635

[Docket No. 150121066-5717-02]
RIN 0648-XF534

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure of Angling category northern area 
trophy fishery.


SUMMARY: NMFS closes the northern area Angling category fishery for 
large medium and giant (``trophy'' (i.e., measuring 73 inches curved 
fork length or greater)) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT). This action is 
being taken to prevent

[[Page 37826]]

overharvest of the Angling category northern area trophy BFT subquota.

DATES: Effective 11:30 p.m., local time, August 11, 2017, through 
December 31, 2017.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations implemented under the authority 
of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 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, per the 
allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly 
Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) 
(71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006) and amendments.
    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.

Angling Category Large Medium and Giant Northern ``Trophy'' Fishery 

    The 2017 BFT fishing year, which is managed on a calendar-year 
basis and subject to an annual calendar-year quota, began January 1, 
2017. The Angling category season opened January 1, 2017, and continues 
through December 31, 2017. The currently codified Angling category 
quota is 195.2 mt, of which 4.5 mt is allocated for the harvest of 
large medium and giant (trophy) BFT by vessels fishing under the 
Angling category quota, with 1.5 mt allocated for each of the following 
areas: North of 39[deg]18' N. lat. (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ) (the 
``northern area''); south of 39[deg]18' N. lat. and outside the Gulf of 
Mexico (the ``southern area''); and in the Gulf of Mexico. Trophy BFT 
measure 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater.
    Based on reported landings from the NMFS Automated Catch Reporting 
System, NMFS has determined that the codified Angling category northern 
area trophy BFT subquota has been reached and that a closure of the 
northern area trophy BFT fishery is warranted. Therefore, retaining, 
possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT north of 39[deg]18' N. 
lat. by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category 
and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) 
must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on August 11, 2017. This closure 
will remain effective through December 31, 2017. This action is 
intended to prevent overharvest of the Angling category northern area 
trophy BFT subquota, and is taken consistent with the regulations at 
Sec.  635.28(a)(1). NMFS previously closed the 2017 trophy BFT fishery 
in the southern area on March 20, 2017 (82 FR 14162, March 17, 2017) 
and in the Gulf of Mexico on June 7, 2017 (82 FR 26603, June 8, 2017). 
Therefore, as of August 11, 2017, the Angling category trophy BFT 
fishery will be closed in all areas for 2017.
    If needed, subsequent Angling category adjustments will be 
published in the Federal Register. Information regarding the Angling 
category fishery for Atlantic tunas, including daily retention limits 
for BFT measuring 27 inches (68.5 cm) to less than 73 inches and any 
further Angling category adjustments, is available at 
hmspermits.noaa.gov or by calling (978) 281-9260. HMS Angling and HMS 
Charter/Headboat category permit holders may catch and release (or tag 
and release) BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the 
catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at Sec.  635.26. Anglers 
are also reminded that all BFT that are released must be handled in a 
manner that will maximize survival, 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/.
    HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are 
required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, 
within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing 
hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting App.


    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 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and 
amendments 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 northern 
area Angling category trophy fishery is necessary to prevent any 
further overharvest of the northern area trophy fishery 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 
    These fisheries are currently underway and delaying this action 
would be contrary to the public interest as it could result in 
excessive trophy BFT landings that may result in future potential quota 
reductions for the Angling category, depending on the magnitude of a 
potential Angling category overharvest. NMFS must close the northern 
area trophy BFT fishery before additional landings of these sizes of 
BFT occur. 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 50 CFR 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: August 9, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-17122 Filed 8-9-17; 4:15 pm]