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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fisheries; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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


Quota transfers; fishery reopening.


NMFS adjusts the October-December subquota for the General category Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) fishery by transferring 40 metric tons (mt) from the Longline South subcategory quota, 50 mt from the Angling category (25 mt from the school size class North and 25 mt from the school size class South subcategories), and 3 mt from the Trap category for a revised coastwide General category subquota of approximately 431.9 mt for October-December, including the addition of underharvest from previous time periods. NMFS reopens the coastwide BFT General category until the adjusted October-December subquota has been filled. These actions are being taken to allow for maximum utilization of the U.S. landings quota of BFT while maintaining a fair distribution of fishing opportunities, preventing overharvest of the adjusted subquotas for the affected fishing categories, helping to achieve optimum yield in the General category fishery, and allowing the collection of a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes, consistent with the objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (HMS FMP).


The quota transfers are effective November 9, 2001, through December 31, 2001. The General category reopening is effective November 12, 2001, through December 31, 2001.

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

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Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Start Printed Page 57398Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 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. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas among the various domestic fishing categories.

Quota Transfers

Under the implementing regulations at 50 CFR 635.27 (a)(8), NMFS has the authority to transfer quotas among categories, or, as appropriate, subcategories, of the fishery, after considering the following factors: (1) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock; (2) the catches of the particular category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no allocation is made; (3) 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; (4) the estimated amounts by which quotas established for other gear segments of the fishery might be exceeded; (5) the effects of the transfer on BFT rebuilding and overfishing; and (6) the effects of the transfer on accomplishing the objectives of the HMS FMP.

If it is determined, based on the factors listed here and the probability of exceeding the total quota, that vessels fishing under any category or subcategory quota are not likely to take that quota, NMFS may transfer inseason any portion of the remaining quota of that fishing category to any other fishing category or to the Reserve quota.

Quota Adjustments

Annual BFT quota specifications issued under § 635.27 provide for a quota of 666.7 mt of large medium and giant BFT to be harvested from the regulatory area by vessels fishing under the General category quota during the 2001 fishing year. The General category BFT quota is further subdivided into time period subquotas to provide for broad temporal and geographic distribution of scientific data collection and fishing opportunities. The October-December subquota was initially set at 65.7 mt for the 2001 fishing year, and is currently 338.9 mt, after the addition of approximately 113.2 mt of unharvested subquota from previous periods and a previous quota transfer of 160 mt (66 FR 53346, October 22, 2001). As of October 26, 2001, General category landings against this adjusted October-December subquota have totaled approximately 402.1 mt, exceeding the available coastwide quota by 64.5 mt. An additional 10 mt has been set aside for the traditional fall New York Bight fishery.

After considering the factors for making transfers between categories, NMFS has determined that 40 mt of the remaining adjusted Longline South subcategory quota of approximately 116.6 mt should be transferred to the General category quota. While substantial quota remains in the Longline category, NMFS is in the process of developing proposed regulations to adjust the target catch requirements for pelagic longline vessels retaining bluefin tuna, and is therefore not transferring additional quota from the Longline category. NMFS has also determined that 50 mt of the remaining Angling school subcategory quota of approximately 118.7 mt (25 mt of the remaining Angling school north subcategory quota of approximately 74.7 mt, and 25 mt of the remaining Angling school south subcategory quota of approximately 59 mt) should be transferred to the General category. Finally, NMFS has determined to transfer 3 mt of the remaining Trap category quota of 3.9 mt into the General category quota. The adjusted subquota for the coastwide General category fishery for the October-December period is 431.9 mt. Landings of Trap category BFT have been nonexistent in recent years and this transfer should not adversely impact this category.

Once the adjusted General category subquota for the October-December period has been attained, the coastwide fishery will be close. Announcement of the closure will be filed with the Office of the Federal Register, stating the effective date of closure, and further communicated through the Highly Migratory Species Fax Network, the Atlantic Tunas Information Line, NOAA weather radio, and Coast Guard Notice to Mariners. Although notification of closure will be provided as far in advance as possible, fishermen are encouraged to call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (888) USA-TUNA or (978) 281-9305, to check the status of the fishery before leaving for a fishing trip.


This action is taken under 50 CFR 635.23 and 635.27, is consistent with the management measures contained in the HMS FMP, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: November 9, 2001.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-28648 Filed 11-9-01; 4:32 pm]