2/12/15 – NOAA Fisheries – NMFS Announces the Availability of Draft Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan for Management of Atlantic Sharks

NMFS Announces the Availability of Draft Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan for Management of Atlantic Sharks

Draft Amendment 6 to the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) proposes a range of management measures for the commercial shark fisheries to respond to the problems facing these fisheries, such as commercial landings that exceed the quotas, declining numbers of fishing permits since limited access was implemented, complex regulations, derby fishing conditions due to small quotas and short seasons, increasing numbers of regulatory discards, and declining market prices. In addition, these measures are based on recent determinations made by NMFS as a result of the 2013 stock assessments for Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks. These determinations are:

  • There are two stocks of Atlantic sharpnose sharks (Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico). Each stock has a status of "not overfished" and "no overfishing occurring."
  • There are two stocks of bonnethead sharks (Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico). Each stock has a status of "unknown."

Who is affected?

Draft Amendment 6 could affect:

  • Any commercial shark fishermen using pelagic, bottom longline, or gillnet gear, including fishermen who fish in the Caribbean EEZ.
  • Any dealers who buy or sell sharks or shark products.

What will it do?

The full range of alternatives considered can be found in the draft environmental impact statement and/or proposed rule, which can be found at:

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/documents/fmp/am6/index.html.  

The preferred alternatives are summarized below:

  • Permit Stacking: Do not implement permit stacking (No Action).
  • Commercial Retention Limit: Increase the LCS retention limit for directed permit holders to 55 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip and adjust the sandbar shark research fishery quota to 75.7 mt dw (166,826 lb dw).
  • Atlantic Regional and Sub-Regional Quotas (Figure 1): Split the Atlantic regional commercial quotas for certain LCS and SCS management groups along 34° 00' N Lat.; maintain SCS quota linkages in the southern sub-region; remove the SCS quota linkages in the northern sub-region and prohibit the harvest and landing of blacknose sharks in that sub-region; and establish a non-blacknose SCS TAC and maintain the current commercial base annual quota of 176.1 mt dw (388,222 lb dw).
  • Gulf of Mexico Regional and Sub-Regional Quotas (Figure 2): Split the Gulf of Mexico regional commercial quotas for aggregated LCS, blacktip, and hammerhead sharks along 89° 00' W Long.; maintain the LCS quota linkages for aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks in the eastern sub-region; remove the LCS quota linkage in the western sub-region and prohibit the harvest and landing of hammerhead sharks in that sub-region; and establish a non-blacknose SCS TAC and increase the quota to the current adjusted annual quota of 68.3 mt dw (150,476 lb dw).
  • Commercial Vessel Upgrading Restrictions: Remove current upgrading restrictions for shark limited access permit holders.

Figure 1: Map of proposed Atlantic regional and sub-regional quotas

Figure 2: Map of proposed Gulf of Mexico regional and sub-regional quotas

Submit Comments by April 3, 2015:

During the comment period, NMFS will hold 4 public hearings and 1 conference call for this proposed rule (Table 1). NMFS has also asked to present information on the proposed rule and draft Amendment 6 to the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, and New England Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions at their meetings during the public comment period. Please see their meeting notices for dates, times, and locations.    

Table 1. Dates, times, and locations of upcoming public hearings and conference call.

Venue

Date/time

Meeting locations

Location contact information

Public Hearing

February 17, 2015, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

St. Petersburg, FL

National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

Public Hearing

February 18, 2015, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Melbourne, FL

Melbourne Public Library, 540 E. Fee Ave, Melbourne, FL 32901

Public Hearing

February 23, 2015, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Belle Chasse, LA

Belle Chasse Branch Library, 8442 Louisiana 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037

Public Hearing

February 26, 2015, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Manteo, NC

Commissioners Meeting Room, Dare County Administration Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo, NC 27954

Conference call

March 25, 2015,

2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

 

To participate in conference call, call: (877) 918-1344
Passcode: 7371832
To participate in webinar, RSVP at: https://noaaevents2.webex.com/mw0401lsp12/mywebex/default.do?nomenu=true&siteurl=noaaevents2&service=6&rnd=0.2829262696375121&main_url=https%3A%2F%2Fnoaaevents2.webex.com%2Fec0701lsp12%2Feventcenter%2Fevent%2FeventAction.do%3FtheAction%3Ddetail%26confViewID%3D1662548276%26%26EMK%3D4832534b00000002118d670bc1a6ae80ca625db657d53fd33d8359850e8e5e2d92a3919d94ae3043%26%26%26siteurl%3Dnoaaevents2, A confirmation email with webinar log-in information will be sent after RSVP is registered.

During these hearings, NMFS will receive public feedback on the proposed management measures. Written comments, identified by "NOAA-NMFS-2010-0188", may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, https://www.regulations.gov/, or sent by fax or mail to the contact information included below. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted to https://www.regulations.gov/ without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may 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). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

This notice is a courtesy to Atlantic HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of Federal actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register. For further information on this proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement, contact LeAnn Hogan, Guý DuBeck, Delisse Ortiz, Alexis Jackson, or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503. Copies of the proposed rule, draft environmental impact statement, and other supporting documents are available upon request from the Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (phone: 301-427-8503, fax: 301-713-1917). The information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

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Summary:

NMFS Announces the Availability of Draft Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan for Management of Atlantic Sharks