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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.


General category closure.


NMFS has determined that the 2001 fishing year Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category quota will be attained by November 30, 2001. Therefore, the General category fishery will be closed effective 11:30 p.m. on November 30, 2001. This action is being taken to prevent overharvest of the total adjusted General category quota of 919.7 metric tons (mt).


Effective 11:30 p.m. local time on November 30, 2001, through May 31, 2002.

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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 Convention 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. The General category landings quota, including time-period subquotas and the New York Bight set-aside, are specified annually as required under § 635.27 (a)(1). The 2001 fishing year General category quota and effort control specifications were issued on July 13, 2001 (66 FR 37421, July 18, 2001).

General Category Closure

NMFS is required, under § 635.28 (a)(1), to file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of closure when a BFT quota is reached, or is projected to be reached. On and after the effective date and time of such closure notification, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the notification, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under that quota category is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period or until such date as specified in the notification.

The adjusted 2001 fishing year BFT quota specifications issued pursuant to § 635.27 set a total adjusted General category quota of 919.7 mt, including the New York bight set-aside, of large medium and giant BFT to be harvested from the regulatory area during the 2001 fishing year. Based on reported landings and effort, NMFS projects that this quota will be reached by November 30, 2001. Therefore, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT intended for sale by persons aboard vessels in the General or Charter/Headboat categories must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time November 30, 2001. The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the quota established for the General category.

General category permit holders may tag and release BFT while the General category is closed, subject to the requirements of the tag-and-release program at § 635.26. Vessels permitted in the Charter/Headboat category may continue to fish for and retain BFT under the Angling category regulations. The current Angling category daily retention limit, effective from November 1, 2001 through May 31, 2002 is one large school or small medium BFT (measuring from 47 to less than 73 inches (from 69 to less than 119 cm) curved fork length) (66 FR 31844, June 13, 2001). In addition, Angling and Charter/Headboat category vessels may retain one large medium or giant “trophy” BFT, measuring 73 inches (185 cm) or greater, per fishing year (June 1 through May 31).


This action is taken under § 635.28 (a) 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: November 28, 2001.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-29981 Filed 11-29-01; 4:00 pm]