50 CFR 635.28 - Closures.

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§ 635.28 Fishery closures.

(a) Bluefin tuna.

(1) When a bluefin tuna quota specified in § 635.27(a), is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. On and after the effective date and time of such action, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the notice, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing bluefin tuna under that quota is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period or until such date as specified in the notice.

(2) If NMFS determines that variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of bluefin, or the catch rate in one area, precludes participants in another area from a reasonable opportunity to harvest any allocated domestic category quota, as stated in § 635.27(a), NMFS may close all or part of the fishery under that category. NMFS may reopen the fishery at a later date if NMFS determines that reasonable fishing opportunities are available, e.g., bluefin have migrated into the area or weather is conducive for fishing. In determining the need for any such interim closure or area closure, NMFS will also take into consideration the criteria specified in § 635.27(a)(8).

(3) When the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is reached, projected to be reached, or exceeded, or when there is high uncertainty regarding the estimated or documented levels of bluefin tuna catch, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. On and after the effective date and time of such action, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the closure action, vessels that have been issued or are required to have a limited access permit under § 635.4 and that have pelagic longline gear onboard are prohibited from leaving port, regardless of the amount of bluefin tuna quota allocation remaining to each vessel or the amount of fishery quota remaining for other species. In addition to providing notice in the Federal Register, NMFS will also notify vessels of any closures and their timing via VMS and may use other electronic methods, such as email. Vessels would be required to return to port prior to the closure date/time. When considering whether to close or reopen the Longline category quota, NMFS may consider the following factors:

(i) Total estimated bluefin tuna catch (landings and dead discards) in relation to the quota;

(ii) The estimated amount by which the bluefin tuna quota might be exceeded;

(iii) The usefulness of data relevant to monitoring the quota;

(iv) The uncertainty in the documented or estimated dead discards or landings of bluefin tuna;

(v) The amount of bluefin tuna landings or dead discards within a short time;

(vi) The effects of continued fishing on bluefin tuna rebuilding and overfishing;

(vii) The provision of reasonable opportunity for pelagic longline vessels to pursue the target species;

(viii) The variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna; and

(viii) Other relevant factors.

(b) Sharks.

(1) A shark fishery that meets any of the following circumstances is closed and subject to the requirements of paragraph (b)(6) of this section:

(i) No overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, is specified at § 635.27(b)(1);

(ii) The overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, specified at § 635.27(b)(1) is zero;

(iii) After accounting for overharvests as specified at § 635.27(b)(2), the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, is determined to be zero or close to zero and NMFS has closed the fishery by publication of a notice in the Federal Register;

(iv) The species is a prohibited species as listed under Table 1 of appendix A of this part; or

(v) Landings of the species and/or management group meet the requirements specified in § 635.28(b)(2) through (5) and NMFS has closed the fishery by publication of a notice in the Federal Register.

(2) Non-linked quotas. If the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota of a species or management group is not linked to another species or management group and that overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available as specified by a publication in the Federal Register, then that overall, regional, and/or sub-regional commercial fishery for the shark species or management group will open as specified in § 635.27(b). When NMFS calculates that the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional landings for a shark species and/or management group, as specified in § 635.27(b)(1), has reached or is projected to reach 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota as specified in § 635.27(b)(1), NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of an overall, regional, and/or sub-regional closure, as applicable, for that shark species and/or shark management group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available and the season is reopened, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fisheries for that shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years.

(3) Linked quotas. As specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quotas of some shark species and/or management groups are linked to the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quotas of other shark species and/or management groups. For each pair of linked species and/or management groups, if the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota specified in § 635.27(b)(1) is available for both of the linked species and/or management groups as specified by a publication in the Federal Register, then the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional commercial fishery for both of the linked species and/or management groups will open as specified in § 635.27(b)(1). When NMFS calculates that the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional landings for any species and/or management group of a linked group has reached or is projected to reach 80 percent of the available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota as specified in § 635.27(b)(1), NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of an overall, regional, and/or sub-regional closure for all of the species and/or management groups in that linked group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available and the season is reopened, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fishery for all species and/or management groups in that linked group is closed, even across fishing years.

(4) The quotas of the following species and/or management groups are linked:

(i) Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic aggregated LCS.

(ii) Eastern Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and eastern Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS.

(iii) Western Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and western Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS.

(iv) Atlantic blacknose sharks and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south of 34°00′ N. lat.

(5) NMFS may close the regional or sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group(s) before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(i) Estimated Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark season length based on available sub-regional quotas and average sub-regional weekly catch rates during the current fishing year and from previous years;

(ii) Variations in regional and/or sub-regional seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of blacktip sharks, hammerhead sharks, and aggregated LCS based on scientific and fishery information;

(iii) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments;

(iv) The amount of remaining shark quotas in the relevant sub-regions, to date, based on dealer or other reports; and,

(v) The regional and/or sub-regional catch rates of the relevant shark species or management group(s), to date, based on dealer or other reports.

(6) When the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fishery for a shark species and/or management group is closed, a fishing vessel, issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit pursuant to § 635.4, may not possess, retain, land, or sell a shark of that species and/or management group that was caught within the closed region or sub-region, except under the conditions specified in § 635.22(a) and (c) or if the vessel possesses a valid shark research permit under § 635.32, a NMFS-approved observer is onboard, and the sandbar and/or Research LCS fishery, as applicable, is open. A shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4, may not purchase or receive a shark of that species and/or management group that was caught within the closed region or sub-region from a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess sharks that were caught in the closed region or sub-region that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered, prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage. Under a closure for a shark species or management group, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4 may, in accordance with State regulations, purchase or receive a shark of that species or management group if the shark was harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in State waters and that has not been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to § 635.4. Additionally, under an overall, a regional, or a sub-regional closure for a shark species and/or management group, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4, may purchase or receive a shark of that species group if the sandbar or Research LCS fishery, as applicable, is open and the shark was harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel issued a valid shark research permit (per § 635.32) that had a NMFS-approved observer on board during the trip the shark was collected.

(7) If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess, retain, land, or sell sharks.

(c) Swordfish -

(1) Directed fishery closure. When the annual or semiannual directed fishery quota specified in § 635.27(c)(1)(i) or (ii) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of closure at least 14 days before the effective date. From the effective date and time of the closure until additional directed fishery quota becomes available, the directed fishery for the appropriate stock is closed and the following catch limits apply:

(i) When the directed fishery for the North Atlantic swordfish stock is closed,

(A) No more than 15 swordfish per trip may be possessed in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel using or having on board a pelagic longline, or issued an Incidental HMS squid trawl permit. However, North Atlantic swordfish legally taken prior to the effective date of the closure may be possessed in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5 N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel with a pelagic longline on board, provided the harvesting vessel does no fishing after the closure in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5 N. lat., and reports positions with a vessel monitoring system, as specified in § 635.69. Additionally, legally taken swordfish from the South Atlantic swordfish stock may be possessed or landed north of 5 N. lat. provided the harvesting vessel does no fishing on that trip north of 5 N. lat., and reports positions with a vessel monitoring system as specified in § 635.69. NMFS may adjust the incidental catch retention limit by filing with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of the change at least 14 days before the effective date. Changes in the incidental catch limits will be based upon the length of the directed fishery closure and the estimated rate of catch by vessels fishing under the incidental catch quota.

(B) No more than 2 swordfish per trip may be possessed in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel that has been issued a handgear permit under § 635.4(f)(1) provided that such swordfish were not taken with a harpoon.

(C) No swordfish may be possessed, landed, or sold by vessels issued a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit.

(D) No swordfish may be sold by vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit

(ii) When the directed fishery for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is closed, swordfish from that stock taken incidental to fishing for other species may not be retained.

(2) Incidental catch closure. When the annual incidental catch quota specified in § 635.27(c)(1)(i) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of closure. From the effective date and time of such notification until additional incidental catch quota becomes available, no swordfish may be landed in an Atlantic coastal state, or be possessed or sold in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. unless the directed fishery is open and the appropriate permits have been issued to the vessel. In the event of a directed and incidental North Atlantic swordfish category closure, South Atlantic swordfish may be possessed in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. and/or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel with longline gear onboard, provided that the harvesting vessel does not fish on that trip in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat., the fish were taken legally from waters of the Atlantic Ocean south of 5° N. lat., and the harvesting vessel reports positions with a vessel monitoring system as specified in § 635.69.

(3) Bluefin tuna Longline category closure. If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess or land any North Atlantic swordfish or bluefin tuna.

(d) Northern albacore tuna - When the annual fishery quota specified in § 635.27(e) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. When the fishery for northern albacore tuna is closed, northern albacore tuna may not be retained. If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess or land any northern albacore tuna.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]
Editorial Note:
For Federal Register citations affecting § 635.28, 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