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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fisheries; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Adjustment of General category daily retention limit on previously designated restricted fishing days.

SUMMARY:

NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category restricted fishing day (RFD) schedule should be adjusted; i.e., certain RFDs should be waived in order to allow for maximum utilization of the General category subquota for the October—December fishing period. Therefore, NMFS increases the daily retention limit from zero to one large medium or giant BFT on the following previously designated RFDs for 2000: October 7, 10, 14, and 15.

DATES:

Effective October 4, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Pat Scida or Brad McHale, 978-281-9260.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. General category effort controls (including time-period subquotas and RFDs) are specified annually under 50 CFR 635.23(a) and 635.27(a). The 2000 General category effort controls were specified on July 7, 2000 (65 FR 42883, July 12, 2000).

Adjustment of Daily Retention Limit for Selected Dates

Under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4), NMFS may increase or decrease the daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range from zero (on RFDs) to a maximum of three per vessel to allow for maximum utilization of the quota for BFT. Catch rates have continued to vary this season, and NMFS recognizes that at this time of year they can be very dependent on weather conditions. In addition, due to the temporal and geographical nature of the fishery, certain gear types and areas are more productive at various times during the fishery. Based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, and weather conditions, NMFS has determined that adjustment to the RFD schedule, and, therefore, an increase of the daily retention limit for certain previously designated RFDs, is necessary. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the daily retention limit for October 7, 10, 14, and 15, 2000, to one large medium or giant BFT per vessel. NMFS has selected these days in order to give adequate advance notice to fishery participants and NMFS enforcement.

The intent of this adjustment is to allow for maximum utilization of the General category subquotas for the October—December fishing period (specified under 50 CFR 635.27(a)) by General category participants in order to help achieve optimum yield in the General category fishery, to collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes, and to be consistent with the objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish and Sharks. For these same reasons, NMFS has already adjusted the General category daily retention limit for ten previously scheduled RFDs in July and August (65 FR 46654, July 31, 2000), and six previously scheduled RFDs in September (65 FR 54970, September 12, 2000). The remaining previously scheduled RFD (which has not been waived) corresponds to a market closure in Japan, and could promote better ex-vessel prices.

Classification

This action is taken under 50 CFR 635.23(a)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

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Dated: October 4, 2000.

Bruce C. Morehead,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 00-25958 Filed 10-4-00; 4:45 pm]

BILLING CODE: 3510-22-S