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Rule

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fisheries; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Increase of Atlantic bluefin tuna General category daily retention limit.

SUMMARY:

NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category daily catch limit should be adjusted to two large medium or giant BFT per vessel in order to allow for maximum utilization of the General category September time-period subquota.

DATES:

Effective September 1, 2002, until September 14, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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. 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, and General category effort controls (including time-period subquotas and restricted fishing days ( RFDs)) are specified annually under 50 CFR 635.23(a) and 635.27(a). The 2002 General category effort controls were proposed on July 27, 2002 (67 FR 43266).

Adjustment of Daily Retention Limits

Under § 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. Based on a review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, NMFS has determined that an increase of the daily retention limit for the first half of September is appropriate and necessary to allow full use of the September subquota. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the daily retention limit for September 1 through September 14 to two large medium or giant BFT per vessel.

The intent of this adjustment is to allow for maximum utilization of the General category subquotas for the September 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 HMS FMP.

While catch rates have continued to be low so far this season, NMFS recognizes that they may increase. If catch rates remain depressed, NMFS may increase the daily retention limits and/or waive some or all of the previously scheduled RFDs. The RFD schedule will be announced with the publication of the final initial 2002 BFT quota specifications and General category effort controls. Until these specifications have been announced, no RFDs have been implemented.

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 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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Dated: August 30, 2002.

Theophilus R. Brainerd,

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

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[FR Doc. 02-22666 Filed 8-30-02; 4:42 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S