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.


The deadline for comments has been extended from April 23, 2013, 


to May 8, 2013. Two additional public hearings will be held, one on 

April 10, 2013 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., and the second on April 30, 2013 

from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., via public conference call and webinar.


ADDRESSES: Addresses for the two additional public hearings are: 

Stafford Branch Library, 129 North Main Street, Manahawkin, NJ 08050 

and via public conference call and webinar. To participate in the 

conference call dial 1-800-779-0686 and enter the passcode 2132689.

    As published on February 22, 2013 (78 FR 12273), written comments 

on this action may be submitted, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0026, by 

any of the following methods:

     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 

comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0026, click the 

``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 

attach your comments.

     Mail: Submit written comments to the Highly Migratory 

Species Management Division, NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries, 1315 

East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark on the outside 

of the envelope ``Comments on Amendment 8 to the HMS FMP.''

     Fax: 301-713-1917; Attn: Jennifer Cudney.

    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 generally will be posted for public viewing on 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. Do not submit confidential 

business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. 

NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required 

fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 

comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file 

formats only.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Pearson at 727-824-5399 or 

Jennifer Cudney at 301-427-8503.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  Atlantic tunas and swordfish are managed 

under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 

and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tunas 

Convention Act (ATCA). Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National 

Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must, consistent with the National 

Standards, prevent overfishing while achieving, on

a continuing basis, the optimum yield (OY) from each fishery and 

rebuild overfished fisheries. Under ATCA, the Secretary of Commerce 

(Secretary) shall promulgate regulations as may be necessary and 

appropriate to carry out recommendations by the International 

Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The 

authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA 

has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator 

for Fisheries, NOAA (AA). Atlantic HMS regulations are found at 50 CFR 

part 635.

    Consistent with these legal obligations and based on the rebuilt 

status of North Atlantic swordfish, the renewed interest in commercial 

handgears, and the goal to more fully utilize the U.S. ICCAT-

recommended swordfish quota allocation, NMFS proposed fishery 

management measures for Draft Amendment 8 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS 

FMP in a proposed rule published on February 22, 2013 (78 FR 12273). 

The proposed rule provides additional details.

    The preferred alternatives in Amendment 8 would establish a new 

open-access commercial swordfish vessel permit to allow for the 

retention and sale of a limited number (zero to six fish) of swordfish 

caught on rod and reel, handline, harpoon, bandit gear, or green-stick. 

HMS Charter/Headboat vessel permit holders would also be authorized to 

fish with rod and reel and handline under open-access swordfish 

commercial retention limits when they are not on a for-hire trip. In 

addition, the preferred alternatives would establish swordfish 

management regions. We have proposed an initial one-fish retention 

limit for the Florida Swordfish Management Area, a two-fish retention 

limit for the Caribbean region (to be consistent with the newly created 

HMS Commercial Caribbean Handgear Permit), and a three-fish retention 

limit for the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions.


Dates and Locations of Public Meetings


    The two additional public meetings dates and locations are as 



 April 10, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m., Stafford Branch Library, 129 

North Main Street, Manahawkin, NJ 08050

 April 30, 2013, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Conference Call and Webinar, 

To participate in conference call, call: (800) 779-0686, Passcode: 



    To participate in webinar, RSVP at:

    A confirmation email with webinar log-in information will be sent 

after RSVP is registered.