Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Gear Considerations

Published date03 May 2024
Record Number2024-09269
Citation89 FR 36763
CourtNational Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration
SectionNotices
Federal Register, Volume 89 Issue 87 (Friday, May 3, 2024)
[Federal Register Volume 89, Number 87 (Friday, May 3, 2024)]
                [Notices]
                [Pages 36763-36764]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2024-09269]
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                DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
                National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
                RTID 0648-XD861
                Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Gear Considerations
                AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
                Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
                ACTION: Notice of availability of scoping document; request for
                comments.
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                SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of a scoping document to
                consider changes to gear regulations and requirements in fisheries
                targeting Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS). While management
                measures implemented since 1999 have helped achieve fishery management
                and conservation goals, the combination of over two decades of gear-
                specific measures may have had unanticipated consequences. Changes in
                species distribution, fishing gears, fishing techniques, market
                conditions, and fishing interests may warrant a reexamination of some
                gear-specific management measures to see if they are still meeting
                applicable goals. NMFS requests comments on the options presented in
                the scoping document as well as additional ideas that may warrant
                consideration.
                DATES: Written comments on this notice of availability and the scoping
                document must be received on or before July 31, 2024. Three virtual
                scoping meetings will be held during the comment period. See
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for all meeting dates and times.
                ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the scoping document and the public
                hearing presentation may also be obtained on the internet at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/public-comment-requested-gear-considerations-atlantic-highly-migratory-species-fisheries. You may
                submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2024-0050,
                via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov,
                enter NOAA-NMFS-2024-0050 into the search box, click the ``Comment''
                icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
                 Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other
                address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period,
                may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the
                public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on
                https://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying
                information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 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).
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Guy DuBeck ([email protected]),
                Steve Durkee ([email protected]), Becky Curtis
                ([email protected]), or Karyl Brewster-Geisz ([email protected]) by email, or by phone at (301) 427-8503 for information
                on the scoping document.
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                Background
                 Atlantic HMS fisheries are managed under the 2006 Consolidated HMS
                Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments, pursuant to the
                Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
                Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and consistent with the Atlantic
                Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). HMS implementing
                regulations are at 50 CFR part 635. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act,
                conservation and management measures must prevent overfishing while
                achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery
                (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(1)). Where a fishery is determined to be in or
                approaching an overfished condition, NMFS must adopt conservation and
                management measures to prevent or end overfishing and rebuild the
                fishery (16 U.S.C. 1853(a)(10) and 1854(e)). In addition, NMFS must,
                among other things, comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act's 10 national
                standards, including a requirement to use the best scientific
                information available as well as to consider potential impacts on
                residents of different States, efficiency, costs,
                [[Page 36764]]
                fishing communities, bycatch, and safety at sea (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(1-
                10)). Under ATCA, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations as may be
                necessary and appropriate to carry out binding recommendations adopted
                by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
                (ICCAT).
                 Since the 1999 Federal FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and
                Sharks and amendment 1 to the Atlantic Billfish FMP (64 FR 29090, May
                28, 1999), NMFS has implemented a wide range of management measures
                specific to fishing gear in order to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens
                Act and ATCA. These management measures were designed to, among other
                things, prevent or stop overfishing and to minimize bycatch to the
                extent practicable. Many of these management measures included
                restrictions on fishing gear to reduce impacts on bycatch species,
                increase post-release survivability, limit the use of some gears to
                reduce lost and derelict gear, and meet other objectives as necessary.
                While each of these management measures helped achieve fishery
                management and conservation goals, the combination of over two decades
                of gear-specific measures may have had unanticipated consequences given
                the many changes in species distributions, fishing gears, fishing
                techniques, market conditions, and fishing interests that have occurred
                over the years. These unanticipated consequences could include limiting
                fishing opportunities, which in turn may limit the ability to achieve
                optimum yield from the fisheries. Additionally, these unanticipated
                consequences may reduce the ability of fishermen to adjust their
                fishing techniques to account for a changing environment and changing
                species distributions and/or to modify their gear to be more efficient
                or less likely to catch non-target species. As such, NMFS announces the
                availability of a scoping document and requests comments to consider
                whether certain gear-specific management measures are still meeting
                applicable goals. NMFS anticipates potential changes to gear
                regulations and requirements in fisheries targeting Atlantic HMS
                through a future rulemaking.
                Scoping Document
                 In the scoping document, NMFS details a wide range of potential
                management options based on comments and suggestions from constituents,
                including members of the HMS Advisory Panel. See ADDRESSES section for
                information to access the scoping document and the public hearing
                presentation. NMFS is considering options to facilitate targeting of
                swordfish deeper in the water column; authorize additional species for
                certain gears along with gears under additional permit types; and
                address gear regulation inconsistencies across HMS and non-HMS
                fisheries.
                 The management measures presented in the scoping document should
                not be considered an exhaustive list. The management options are
                intended to facilitate discussion of the merits of each range of topics
                under consideration.
                Request for Comments
                 NMFS invites public comment on the options presented in the scoping
                document as well as additional ideas that could provide increased
                flexibility and still meet applicable fishery management and
                conservation goals. Three virtual scoping meetings will be held during
                the comment period (table 1). Any comments received on the scoping
                document will be used to assist in the development of options to be
                considered in a future rulemaking.
                 Table 1--Dates, Times, and Information for Virtual Scoping Meeting
                 Conference Calls/Webinars
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                 Conference call/
                 Meeting type Date, time webinar information
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                Conference calls/Webinars..... May 29, 2024, 5 https://
                 p.m.-7 p.m. ET. www.fisheries.noaa.g
                 June 28, 2024, 10 ov/action/public-
                 a.m.-12:00 p.m. comment-requested-
                 ET.. gear-considerations-
                 July 17, 2024, 1 atlantic-highly-
                 p.m.-3 p.m. ET.. migratory-species-
                 fisheries.
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                 The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at virtual
                scoping meetings to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning
                of each meeting, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules
                (e.g., all comments are to be directed to the Agency; attendees will be
                called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to
                speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; and
                attendees should not interrupt one another). A NMFS representative will
                attempt to structure the meeting so that all attending members of the
                public will be able to comment if they so choose, regardless of the
                controversial nature of the subject matter. If attendees do not respect
                the ground rules they will be asked to leave the scoping meeting. For
                the virtual scoping meetings, participants are strongly encouraged to
                log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show the
                presentations via webinar and allow public comment during identified
                times on the agenda.
                 In addition to the scoping meetings, NMFS will discuss the topics
                in the scoping document at the May 2024 HMS Advisory Panel meeting. The
                HMS Advisory Panel meeting will be accessible via conference call and
                webinar. Conference call and webinar access information are available
                at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/public-comment-requested-gear-considerations-atlantic-highly-migratory-species-fisheries. NMFS
                has requested to present the scoping document to four Atlantic Regional
                Fishery Management Councils (the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South
                Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils) that are
                meeting during the public comment period. Please see the Councils' and
                Commissions' meeting notices for times and locations.
                 Dated: April 24, 2024.
                Everett Wayne Baxter,
                Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine
                Fisheries Service.
                [FR Doc. 2024-09269 Filed 5-2-24; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
                

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