EIS Notice for Atlantic Shark Management Measures

Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); request for comments

On October 7, 2011, we published an NOI to prepare an EIS for Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to address the results of recent shark stock assessments for several shark species, including dusky sharks. In that notice, based on the 2010/2011 Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) assessments for sandbar, dusky, and blacknose sharks, we declared that the status of the dusky shark stock is still overfished and still experiencing overfishing (i.e., their stock status has not changed). On November 26, 2012, we published a proposed rule for draft Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. After fully considering the public comments received on draft Amendment 5 and its proposed rule, we decided that further analysis and consideration of management approaches, data sources, and available information are needed for dusky sharks beyond those considered in the proposed rule. Thus, we announce our intent to prepare a separate EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to conduct further analyses and explore management options specific to rebuilding and ending overfishing of dusky sharks. This EIS would assess the potential effects on the human environment of action to rebuild and end overfishing of the dusky shark stock, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Through the rulemaking process, we would amend the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and examine management alternatives available to rebuild dusky sharks and end overfishing, as necessary.

Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., local time, on May 24, 2013.


2013 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quota Specifications

Based on preliminary data available as of February 26, 2013, BFT landings in 2012 totaled 713.2 mt. Adding the 145.2-mt estimate of dead discards results in a preliminary 2012 total catch of 858.4 mt, which is 185.2 mt less than the amount of quota (inclusive of dead discards) allowed under ICCAT Recommendation 10-03, which applied in 2012 (i.e., 948.7 mt plus 94.9 mt of 2011 underharvest carried forward to 2012, totaling 1,043.6 mt). ICCAT limits the amount of underharvest that may be carried forward from one year to the next to no more than 10 percent of a country's quota, which limits the amount of 2012 U.S. underharvest that may be carried forward to 2013 to 94.9 mt.


NMFS proposes 2013 quota specifications for the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) fishery, and seeks comments from the public on the allocation of available underharvest among the fishery categories under certain circumstances. This action is necessary to implement binding recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as required by the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and to achieve domestic management objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Written comments must be received on or before May 13, 2013. 

Public hearings will be held on April 29, 2013, from 2 to 4 p.m., and on May 3, 2013, from 1 to 3 p.m. Click below for further details.


Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 Implementing Regulations

NMFS issues this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to provide background information and request public comment on potential issues related to the implementation of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012.

NMFS is considering issuing regulations to implement the BCA. Rulemaking is needed to provide notice to the regulated community, increase public understanding of the elements of the billfish prohibitions, facilitate enforcement, and ensure consistent implementation of the BCA nationally. Through this ANPR, NMFS seeks the public's views on the potential scope of any future regulations to implement the BCA, including the scope of the exemption in section 4(c) of the BCA and the possible use of a modified version of the current billfish COE to document that billfish offered for sale qualifies for exemption from the general prohibition on sale. Also, what, if any, restrictions can NMFS impose on the transportation and sale of billfish caught by U.S. vessels and landed in Hawaii or the Pacific Insular Areas?

Written comments regarding the issues in this ANPR must be received by 5 p.m., local time, on July 3, 2013.


Bluefin Tuna Retention Limit

NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limit that applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) should be adjusted for the remainder of 2013, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and based on preliminary 2013 landings data. The adjusted limit for HMS Charter/Headboat vessels is one school BFT and one large school/small medium BFT per vessel per day/trip when fishing recreationally for BFT (i.e., one BFT measuring 27 to less than 47 inches, and one BFT measuring 47 to less than 73 inches). This retention limit is effective in all areas, except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NMFS prohibits targeted fishing for BFT. NMFS also closes the southern area Angling category fishery for large medium and giant (``trophy'') BFT. These actions are being taken consistent with the BFT fishery management objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) and to prevent overharvest of the 2013 Angling category quota.

Effective April 4, 2013, through December 31, 2013.


NOAA Economists Filling in Picture of Marine Recreational Fishing Value in the Northeast

A new NOAA Fisheries Service study on the for-hire marine recreational fishing business in the Northeast provides the most comprehensive picture to date of its economic value and importance in the region. 

In 2010, Northeast for-hire vessels made $140.3 million in gross revenues, provided $50.4 million in income to vessel owners, hired captains, crew/mates, and office staff, and directly employed more than 3,200 individuals. When multiplier effects of supporting businesses are included, these operations generated $334.0 million in sales, $116.9 million in income, and supported 4,500 jobs in the Northeast regional economy.


Billfish Conservation Act of 2012

NOAA Fisheries announces that it is considering issuing regulations to implement the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (BCA).  The BCA prohibits any person from offering billfish or billfish products for sale, selling them, or having custody, control, or possession of them for purposes of offering them for sale.  


Atlantic Highly Migratory Species News

NOAA’s Fisheries Service, in response to a petition submitted by the WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals is proposing to list four populations of scalloped hammerhead sharks under the Endangered Species Act, two as threatened and two as endangered.  U.S. fisheries are not likely to be impacted by the proposed listings, because current regulatory mechanisms in the United States are sufficient for us to find that listing the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and Central Pacific Distinct Population Segments under the ESA are not warranted.  


New England Council Will Hold 3 Day Meeting

The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a three-day meeting on to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 23-25, 2013 starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and at 8:30 a.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Recreational Advisory Panel to Meet in April

The New England Fishery Management Council's (Council) Recreational Advisory Panel will meet to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The two-day meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 beginning at 12 p.m. and Wednesday, April 17, 2013 beginning at 8:30 a.m.


HMS Amendment 8 (Swordfish) Extension of Comment Period

On February 22, 2013, NMFS published a proposed rule for Draft Amendment 8 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to address several new proposed North Atlantic swordfish commercial fishery management measures, including a new open access permit that would allow the retention and sale of swordfish caught with certain handgears. We announced the date and location for six public hearings and a comment period ending on April 23, 2013. In this notice, NMFS announces the dates and logistics for two additional public hearings, and an extension of the comment period from April 23, 2013, to May 8, 2013, to provide additional opportunities for the five Fishery Management Councils, the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions, and other interested parties to comment on the swordfish management measures proposed in Draft Amendment 8.