50 CFR 635.27 - Quotas.

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§ 635.27 Quotas.

(a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,058.79 mt, not including an additional annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General - 47.1 percent (466.7 mt); Angling - 19.7 percent (195.2 mt), which includes the school bluefin tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section; Harpoon - 3.9 percent (38.6 mt); Purse Seine - 18.6 percent (184.3 mt); Longline - 8.1 percent (80.3 mt) plus the 68-mt allocation (i.e., 148.3 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph (a)(3)); Trap - 0.1 percent (1.0 mt); and Reserve - 2.5 percent (24.8 mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of Purse Seine quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section.

(1) General category quota.

(i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the General category quota in accordance with § 635.23(c)(3). Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold under the General category quota is 466.7 mt, and is apportioned as follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section:

(A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected to be reached under § 635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever comes first - 5.3 percent (24.7 mt);

(B) June 1 through August 31 - 50 percent (233.3 mt);

(C) September 1 through September 30 - 26.5 percent (123.7 mt);

(D) October 1 through November 30 - 13 percent (60.7 mt); and

(E) December 1 through December 31 - 5.2 percent (24.3 mt).

(ii) NMFS may adjust each period's apportionment based on overharvest or underharvest in the prior period, and may transfer subquota from one time period to another time period, earlier in the year, through inseason action or annual specifications. For example, subquota could be transferred from the December 1 through December 31 time period to the January time period; or from the October 1 through November 30 time period to the September time period. This inseason adjustment may occur prior to the start of that year. In other words, although subject to the inseason criteria under paragraph (a)(8) of this section, the adjustment could occur prior to the start of the fishing year. For example, an inseason action transferring the 2016 December 1 through December 31 time period subquota to the 2016 January 1 time period subquota could be filed in 2015.

(iii) When the General category fishery has been closed in any quota period specified under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, NMFS will publish a closure action as specified in § 635.28. The subsequent time-period subquota will automatically open in accordance with the dates specified under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section.

(2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 195.2 mt. No more than 2.3 percent (4.5 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, over each two-consecutive-year period (starting with 2015-2016), no more than 10 percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school bluefin tuna (i.e., 108.4 mt). The Angling category quota includes the amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna are further subdivided as follows:

(i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent (46.6 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (41.7 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat.

(ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (43.5 mt) of the large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18′ N. lat. The remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota (38.9 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18′ N. lat.

(iii) One third (1.5 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught retained, possessed, or landed, in each of the three following geographic areas: North of 39°18′ N. lat.; south of 39°18′ N. lat., and outside of the Gulf of Mexico; and in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).

(3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 148.3 mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under § 635.15(b)(8).

(4) Purse Seine category quota -

(i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 184.3 mt, unless adjusted as a result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted (prior to allocation to individual participants) based on the previous year's catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS will start the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 and August 15, by filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, and notifying the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on December 31 of each year.

(ii) Allocation of bluefin quota to Purse Seine category participants. Annually, NMFS will make equal allocations of the baseline Purse Seine category quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section to individual Purse Seine participants (i.e., 36.9 mt each), then make further determinations regarding the allocations per paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Allocations of individual bluefin quota to individual Purse Seine participants may only be transferred through leasing in accordance with procedures and requirements at § 635.15(c) and other requirements under this paragraph (a)(4).

(iii) Duration. Bluefin tuna quota allocation issued under this section is valid for the relevant fishing year unless it is revoked, suspended, or modified or unless the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category quota is closed per § 635.28(a).

(iv) Unused bluefin allocation. Any quota allocation that is unused at the end of the fishing year may not be carried forward by a Purse Seine participant to the following year, but would remain associated with the Purse Seine category as a whole, and subject to the quota regulations under § 635.27, including annual quota adjustments.

(v) Annual reallocation of Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category quota.

(A) By the end of each year, NMFS will determine the amount of quota available to each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant for the upcoming fishing year, based on his/her bluefin catch (landings and dead discards). Specifically, NMFS will allocate each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant either 100 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent, or 25 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, described in paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, according to the following criteria: if the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one ranges from 0 to 20 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, as described under paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, the Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 25 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 75 percent of his/her individual allocation would be reallocated to the Reserve category for that year. Similarly, if the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is from greater than 20 percent up to 45 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 50 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 50 percent of his/her individual allocation would be reallocated to the Reserve category for that year. If the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is from greater than 45 percent up to 70 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 75 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 25 percent of his/her individual allocation would be transferred to the Reserve category for that year. If the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is greater than 70 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 100 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and no quota would be transferred to the Reserve category for that year. These criteria would apply following the same pattern in years two and beyond.

(B) Purse Seine category participants may only lease to eligible IBQ participants allocated quota available to them that year, consistent with the purse seine allocation availability provisions in this section. For example, if a Purse Seine category participant was allocated 50 percent of his/her baseline quota, he/she would be able to catch and/or lease that allocation to an eligible IBQ participant. The individual participant's remaining baseline quota would not be available to lease but would be transferred to the Reserve category. Allocation of less than 100% of a participant's baseline quota (i.e., 25 percent, 50 percent, or 75 percent) does not preclude the participant from leasing additional quota, as needed, consistent with § 635.15(c).

(C) NMFS will inform each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant annually of its determination regarding the amount of individual quota allocated for the subsequent year through the electronic IBQ system established under § 635.15 and in writing via a permit holder letter, when NMFS has the complete catch data for the Purse Seine fishery.

(5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category Atlantic Tunas permits is 38.6 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, and closes on November 15 of each year.

(6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.0 mt.

(7) Reserve category quota.

(i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 24.8 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota.

(ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fishery-independent research is 18.5 percent (20.1 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this section. This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments to the Angling category.

(8) Determination criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any inseason or annual adjustments. Before making any adjustment, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(i) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock.

(ii) The catches of the particular category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made.

(iii) The projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT before the end of the fishing year.

(iv) The estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded.

(v) Effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding and overfishing.

(vi) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan.

(vii) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of BFT.

(viii) Effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the category's quota.

(ix) Review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the BFT on the fishing grounds.

(x) Optimize fishing opportunity.

(xi) Account for dead discards.

(xii) Facilitate quota accounting.

(xiii) Support other fishing monitoring programs through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue.

(xiv) Support research through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue.

(9) Inseason adjustments. To be effective for all, or a part of a fishing year, NMFS may transfer quotas specified under this section, among fishing categories or, as appropriate, subcategories, based on the criteria in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(10) Annual adjustments.

(i) Adjustments to category quotas specified under paragraphs (a) (1) through (7) of this section may be made in accordance with the restrictions of this paragraph and ICCAT recommendations. Based on landing, catch statistics, other available information, and in consideration of the criteria in paragraph (a)(8) of this section, if NMFS determines that a bluefin quota for any category or, as appropriate, subcategory has been exceeded (overharvest), NMFS may subtract all or a portion of the overharvest from that quota category or subcategory for the following fishing year. If NMFS determines that a bluefin quota for any category or, as appropriate, subcategory has not been reached (underharvest), NMFS may add all or a portion of the underharvest to, that quota category or subcategory, and/or the Reserve category for the following fishing year. The underharvest that is carried forward may not exceed 100 percent of each category's baseline allocation specified in paragraph (a) of this section, and the total of the adjusted fishing category quotas and the Reserve category quota are consistent with ICCAT recommendations. Although quota may be carried over for the Longline or Purse Seine categories as a whole (at the category level), individual fishery participants that have been allocated individual quota may not carry over such quota from one year to the next, as specified under § 635.15(b)(6) and (7) for the pelagic longline fishery, and under paragraph (a)(4)(iv) of this section for the purse seine fishery.

(ii) NMFS may allocate any quota remaining in the Reserve category at the end of a fishing year to any fishing category, provided such allocation is consistent with the determination criteria specified in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(iii) Regardless of the estimated landings in any year, NMFS may adjust the annual school bluefin quota to ensure that the average take of school bluefin over each ICCAT-recommended balancing period does not exceed 10 percent by weight of the total annual U.S. bluefin quota, inclusive of the allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section (NED), for that period, consistent with ICCAT recommendations.

(iv) NMFS may subtract the best available estimate of dead discards from the amount of BFT that can be landed in the subsequent fishing year by those categories accounting for the dead discards.

(v) NMFS will file any annual adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication and specify the basis for any quota reductions or increases made pursuant to this paragraph (a)(10).

(b) Sharks -

(1) Commercial quotas. The commercial quotas for sharks specified in this section apply to all sharks harvested from the management unit, regardless of where harvested. Sharks caught and landed commercially from state waters, even by fishermen without Federal shark permits, must be counted against the appropriate commercial quota. Any of the base quotas listed below, including regional and/or sub-regional base quotas, may be adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Any sharks landed commercially as “unclassified” will be counted against the appropriate quota based on the species composition calculated from data collected by observers on non-research trips and/or dealer data. No prohibited sharks, including parts or pieces of prohibited sharks, which are listed under heading D of Table 1 of appendix A to this part, may be retained except as authorized under § 635.32. For the purposes of this section, the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined as a line beginning on the east coast of Florida at the mainland at 25°20.4′ N. lat., proceeding due east. Any water and land to the south and west of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, to be within the Gulf of Mexico region. Any water and land to the north and east of that boundary, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, is considered to be within the Atlantic region.

(i) Commercial quotas that apply only in the Atlantic Region. The commercial quotas specified in this paragraph (b)(1)(i) apply only to those species of sharks and management groups within the management unit that were harvested in the Atlantic region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

(A) Atlantic aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic aggregated LCS is 168.9 mt dw.

(B) Atlantic hammerhead sharks. The regional base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks caught in the Atlantic region is 27.1 mt dw (51.7% of the overall base quota established in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section).

(C) Atlantic non-blacknose SCS. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic non-blacknose SCS is 264.1 mt dw.

(D) Atlantic blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic blacknose sharks is 17.2 mt dw. Blacknose sharks may only be harvested for commercial purposes in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N. lat. The harvest of blacknose sharks by persons aboard a vessel that has been issued or should have been issued a shark LAP and that is operating north of 34°00′ N. lat. is prohibited.

(E) Atlantic smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic smoothhound sharks is 1,201.7 mt dw.

(ii) Commercial quotas that apply only in the Gulf of Mexico Region. The commercial quotas specified in this paragraph (b)(1)(ii) apply only to those species of sharks and management groups within the management unit that were harvested in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The Gulf of Mexico region is further split into western and eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-regions by a boundary that is drawn along 88°00′ W. long. All sharks harvested within the Gulf of Mexico region in fishing catch areas in waters westward of 88°00′ W. long. are considered to be from the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, and all sharks harvested within the Gulf of Mexico region in fishing catch areas in waters east of 88°00′ W. long., including within the Caribbean Sea, are considered to be from the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region.

(A) Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS is 157.5 mt dw. The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 85.5 mt dw (54.3% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 72.0 mt dw (45.7% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota).

(B) Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks. The regional base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks caught in the Gulf of Mexico region is 25.3 mt dw (48.3% of the overall base quota established in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section). The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 13.4 mt dw (52.8% of this regional base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 11.9 mt dw (47.2% of this regional base quota).

(C) Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks is 256.6 mt dw. The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 25.1 mt dw (9.8% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 231.5 mt dw (90.2% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota).

(D) Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS is 112.6 mt dw. This base quota is not split between the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions.

(E) Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks is 0.0 mt dw. The harvest of blacknose sharks by persons aboard a vessel that has been issued or should have been issued a shark LAP and that is operating in the Gulf of Mexico region is prohibited.

(F) Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 336.4 mt dw.

(iii) Commercial quotas that apply in all regions. The commercial quotas specified in this section apply to any sharks or management groups within the management unit that were harvested in either the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico regions.

(A) Sandbar sharks. The base annual commercial quota for sandbar sharks is 90.7 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section, is available only to the owners of commercial shark vessels that have been issued a valid shark research permit and that have a NMFS-approved observer onboard.

(B) Research LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Research LCS is 50 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section, is available only to the owners of commercial shark vessels that have been issued a valid shark research permit and that have a NMFS-approved observer onboard.

(C) Hammerhead sharks. The overall base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks is 52.4 mt dw. This overall base quota is further split for management purposes between the regions defined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section.

(D) Pelagic sharks. The base annual commercial quotas for pelagic sharks are 273.0 mt dw for blue sharks, 1.7 mt dw for porbeagle sharks, and 488.0 mt dw for pelagic sharks other than blue sharks or porbeagle sharks.

(iv) The base annual quota for persons who collect smoothhound sharks under a display permit or EFP is 6 mt ww (4.3 mt dw).

(2) Annual and inseason adjustments of commercial quotas. NMFS will publish in the Federal Register any annual or inseason adjustments to the base annual commercial overall, regional, or sub-regional quotas. No quota will be available, and the fishery will not open, until any adjustments are published in the Federal Register and effective. Within a fishing year or at the start of a fishing year, NMFS may transfer quotas between regions and sub-regions of the same species or management group, as appropriate, based on the criteria in paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section.

(i) Annual overharvest adjustments -

(A) Adjustments of annual overall and regional base quotas. Except as noted in this section, if any of the available commercial base or adjusted overall quotas or regional quotas, as described in this section, is exceeded in any fishing year, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) from the base overall or regional quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), NMFS may deduct from the overall or regional base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years. If the blue shark quota is exceeded, NMFS will reduce the annual commercial quota for pelagic sharks by the amount that the blue shark quota is exceeded prior to the start of the next fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years.

(B) Adjustments to sub-regional quotas. If a sub-regional quota is exceeded but the regional quota is not, NMFS will not reduce the annual regional base quota the following year and sub-regional quotas will be determined as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. If both a sub-regional quota(s) and the regional quota are exceeded, for each sub-region in which an overharvest occurred, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to that sub-region's overharvest from that sub-region's quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest, NMFS may deduct from that sub-region's base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years.

(C) Adjustments to quotas when the species or management group is split into regions or sub-regions for management purposes and not as a result of a stock assessment. If a regional quota for a species that is split into regions for management purposes only is exceeded but the overall quota is not, NMFS will not reduce the overall base quota for that species or management group the following year and the regional quota will be determined as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. If both a regional quota(s) and the overall quota is exceeded, for each region in which an overharvest occurred, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to that region's overharvest from that region's quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), NMFS may deduct from that region's base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years. If a sub-regional quota of a species or management group that is split into regions for management purposes only is exceeded, NMFS will follow the procedures specified in paragraph (b)(2)(i)(B) of this section.

(ii) Annual underharvest adjustments. Except as noted in this paragraph (b)(2)(ii), if any of the annual base or adjusted quotas, including regional quotas, as described in this section is not harvested, NMFS may adjust the annual base quota, including regional quotas, depending on the status of the stock or management group. If a species or a specific species within a management group is declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status, NMFS may not adjust the following fishing year's base quota, including regional quota, for any underharvest, and the following fishing year's quota will be equal to the base annual quota. If the species or all species in a management group is not declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status, NMFS may increase the following year's base annual quota, including regional quota, by an equivalent amount of the underharvest up to 50 percent above the base annual quota. Except as noted in paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section, underharvests are not transferable between regions, species, and/or management groups.

(iii) Determination criteria for inseason and annual quota transfers between regions and sub-regions. Inseason or annual quota transfers of quotas between regions or sub-regions may be conducted only for species or management groups where the species are the same between regions or sub-regions and the quota is split between regions or sub-regions for management purposes and not as a result of a stock assessment. Before making any inseason or annual quota transfer between regions or sub-regions, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(A) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular management group for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the respective shark species and/or management group;

(B) The catches of the particular species and/or management group quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made;

(C) The projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular species and/or management group quota to harvest the additional amount of corresponding quota before the end of the fishing year;

(D) Effects of the adjustment on the status of all shark species;

(E) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan;

(F) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of the appropriate shark species and/or management group;

(G) Effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the quota; and/or

(H) Review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the respective shark species and/or management group on the fishing grounds.

(3) Opening commercial fishing season criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of the opening dates of the overall, regional, and sub-regional shark fisheries for each species and management group. Before making any decisions, NMFS would consider the following criteria and other relevant factors in establishing the opening dates:

(i) The available annual quotas for the current fishing season for the different species/management groups based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during the previous commercial shark fishing seasons;

(ii) Estimated season length based on available quota(s) and average weekly catch rates of different species and/or management group from the previous years;

(iii) Length of the season for the different species and/or management group in the previous years and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years;

(iv) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the different species/management groups based on scientific and fishery information;

(v) Effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas;

(vi) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; and/or,

(vii) Effects of a delayed opening with regard to fishing opportunities in other fisheries.

(4) Public display and non-specific research quotas. All sharks collected under the authority of a display permit or EFP, subject to restrictions at § 635.32, will be counted against the following:

(i) The base annual quota for persons who collect LCS other than sandbar, SCS, pelagic sharks, blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, or prohibited species under a display permit or EFP is 57.2 mt ww (41.2 mt dw).

(ii) The base annual quota for persons who collect sandbar sharks under a display permit is 1.4 mt ww (1.0 mt dw) and under an EFP is 1.4 mt ww (1.0 mt dw).

(iii) No persons may collect dusky sharks under a display permit. Collection of dusky sharks for research under EFPs and/or SRPs may be considered on a case-by-case basis and any associated mortality would be deducted from the shark research and display quota.

(c) Swordfish -

(1) Categories. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, the fishing year's total amount of swordfish that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction is divided into quotas for the North Atlantic swordfish stock and the South Atlantic swordfish stock. The quota for the North Atlantic swordfish stock is further divided into equal semi-annual directed fishery quotas, an annual incidental catch quota for fishermen targeting other species or taking swordfish recreationally, and a reserve category.

(i) North Atlantic swordfish.

(A) A swordfish from the North Atlantic stock caught prior to the directed fishery closure by a vessel for which a directed swordfish limited access permit, a swordfish handgear limited access permit, a HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit (and only when on a non for-hire trip) has been issued or is required to have been issued is counted against the directed fishery quota. The total baseline annual fishery quota, before any adjustments, is 2,937.6 mt dw for each fishing year. Consistent with applicable ICCAT recommendations, a portion of the total baseline annual fishery quota may be used for transfers to another ICCAT contracting party. The annual directed category quota is calculated by adjusting for over- or under harvests, dead discards, any applicable transfers, the incidental category quota, the reserve quota and other adjustments as needed, and is subdivided into two equal semi-annual periods: one for January 1 through June 30, and the other for July 1 through December 31.

(B) A swordfish from the North Atlantic swordfish stock landed by a vessel for which an incidental swordfish limited access permit, an incidental HMS Squid Trawl permit, an HMS Angling permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit (and only when on a for-hire trip) has been issued, or a swordfish from the North Atlantic stock caught after the effective date of a closure of the directed fishery from a vessel for which a swordfish directed limited access permit, a swordfish handgear limited access permit, a HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit (when on a non for-hire trip) has been issued, is counted against the incidental category quota. The annual incidental category quota is 300 mt dw for each fishing year.

(C) All swordfish discarded dead from U.S. fishing vessels, regardless of whether such vessels are permitted under this part, shall be counted against the annual directed fishing quota.

(D) Fifty (50) mt of the annual fishery quota of North Atlantic swordfish may be held in reserve for inseason adjustments to fishing categories, to compensate for projected or actual overharvest in any category, for fishery research, or for other purposes consistent with management objectives.

(E) In the event of an overharvest of South Atlantic swordfish, up to 150.4 mt dw of swordfish landed between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude may be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. Otherwise, swordfish landed from this area shall be applied against the South Atlantic swordfish quota. For example, if the South Atlantic swordfish quota were 100 mt dw, and 50 mt dw were landed between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude, and 75 mt dw were caught south of 5 degrees South latitude, then 25 mt dw of the swordfish caught between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude would be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. If only 25 mt dw of swordfish were caught between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude, and 150 mt dw of swordfish were caught south of 5 degrees South latitude, 25 mt dw would be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. The remaining 50 mt dw overharvest would be counted against the following year's South Atlantic swordfish quota.

(ii) South Atlantic Swordfish. The annual directed fishery quota for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is 75.2 mt dw. After December 31, 2007, the annual quota is subdivided into two equal semi-annual quotas of 37.6 mt dw: one for January 1 through June 30, and the other for July 1 through December 31. The entire quota for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is reserved for vessels with pelagic longline gear onboard and that have been issued a directed fishery permit for swordfish. No person may retain swordfish caught incidental to other fishing activities or with other fishing gear in the Atlantic Ocean south of 5 degrees North latitude.

(2) Inseason adjustments.

(i) NMFS may adjust the July 1 through December 31 semiannual directed fishery quota or, as applicable, the reserve category, to reflect actual directed fishery and incidental fishing category catches during the January 1 through June 30 semiannual period.

(ii) If NMFS determines that the annual incidental catch quota will not be taken before the end of the fishing year, excess quota may be allocated to the directed fishery quota or to the reserve, as necessary. If NMFS determines that the annual directed catch quota will not be taken before the end of the fishing year, some of the excess quota may be allocated to the incidental fishery quota or to the reserve, as necessary.

(iii) If NMFS determines that it is necessary to close the directed swordfish fishery prior to the scheduled end of a semi-annual fishing season, any estimated overharvest or underharvest of the directed fishery quota for that semi-annual season will be used to adjust the annual incidental catch quota or the reserve as necessary to maintain landings and discards within the required annual limits.

(iv) NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any inseason swordfish quota adjustment and its apportionment to fishing categories or to the reserve made under paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

(3) Annual adjustments.

(i) Except for the carryover provisions of paragraphs (c)(3)(ii) and (iii) of this section, NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any adjustment to the annual quota necessary to meet the objectives of the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan.

(ii) If consistent with applicable ICCAT recommendations, total landings above or below the specific North Atlantic or South Atlantic swordfish annual quota will be subtracted from, or added to, the following year's quota for that area. As necessary to meet management objectives, such adjustments may be apportioned to fishing categories and/or to the reserve. Carryover adjustments for the North Atlantic shall be limited to 25 percent of the baseline quota allocation through 2014. Starting in the 2015 fishing year, carryover adjustments shall be limited to 15 percent of the annual baseline quota allocation. Carryover adjustments for the South Atlantic shall be limited to 100 mt ww (75.2 mt dw). Any adjustments to the 12-month directed fishery quota will be apportioned equally between the two semiannual fishing seasons. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any adjustment or apportionment made under this paragraph.

(iii) The dressed weight equivalent of the amount by which dead discards exceed the allowance specified at paragraph (c)(1)(i)(C) of this section will be subtracted from the landings quota in the following fishing year or from the reserve category. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any adjustment made under this paragraph (c)(3)(iii).

(d) Atlantic blue and white marlin.

(1) Effective January 1, 2007, and consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, NMFS will establish the annual landings limit of Atlantic blue and white marlin to be taken, retained, or possessed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. For the year 2007 and thereafter, unless adjusted under paragraph (d)(2) of this section or by ICCAT recommendation, this annual landings limit is 250 Atlantic blue and white marlin, combined. Effective January 1, 2011, annual landings of roundscale spearfish are also included to the blue and white marlin annual landings limit. Should the U.S. recreational Atlantic marlin landing limit be adjusted by an ICCAT recommendation, NMFS will file a notice identifying the new landing limit with the Office of the Federal Register for publication prior to the start of the next fishing year or as early as possible.

(2) Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, and based on landings statistics and other information as appropriate, if NMFS determines that aggregate landings of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish exceeded the annual landings limit for a given fishing year, as established in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, NMFS will subtract any overharvest from the landings limit for the following fishing year. Additionally, if NMFS determines that aggregate landings of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish were below the annual landings limit for a given fishing year, as established in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, NMFS may add any underharvest, or portion thereof, to the landings limit for the following fishing year. Such adjustments to the annual recreational marlin landings limit, as specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, if necessary, will be filed with the Office of the Federal Register for publication prior to the start of the next fishing year or as early as possible.

(3) When the annual marlin landings limit specified in paragraph (d)(1) or, if adjusted, as specified in paragraph (d)(2) of this section is reached or projected to be reached, based upon a review of landings, the period of time remaining in the current fishing year, current and historical landings trends, and any other relevant factors, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register and action restricting fishing for Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish to catch-and-release fishing only. In no case shall such adjustment be effective less than 14 calendar days after the date of publication. From the effective date and time of such action until additional landings become available, no blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish from the management unit may be taken, retained, or possessed.

(e) Northern albacore tuna -

(1) Annual quota. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, the total baseline annual fishery quota is 527 mt ww. The total quota, after any adjustments made per paragraph (e)(2) of this section, is the fishing year's total amount of northern albacore tuna that may be landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

(2) Annual adjustments. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, and based on landings statistics and other information as appropriate, if for a particular year the total landings are above or below the annual quota for that year, the difference between the annual quota and the landings will be subtracted from, or added to, the following year's quota, respectively, or subtracted or added through a delayed, or multi-year adjustment. Carryover adjustments shall be limited to 25 percent of the baseline quota allocation for that year. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any adjustment or apportionment made under this paragraph (e)(2).

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]
Editorial Note:
For Federal Register citations affecting § 635.27, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.fdsys.gov.

Title 50 published on 2015-10-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 50 CFR Part 635 after this date.

  • 2015-12-02; vol. 80 # 231 - Wednesday, December 2, 2015
    1. 80 FR 75436 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Commercial Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Temporary rule; closure.
      The commercial fishery for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region is closed effective 11:30 p.m. local time December 5, 2015, until the end of the 2015 fishing season on December 31, 2015, and will reopen on January 1, 2016.
      50 CFR Part 635