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Rule

Notification of U.S. Fish Quotas and an Effort Allocation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule; notification of U.S. fish quotas and an effort allocation.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that fish quotas and an effort allocation are available for harvest by U.S. fishermen in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area. This action is necessary to make available to U.S. fishermen a fishing privilege on an equitable basis.

DATES:

All fish quotas and the effort allocation are effective January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2007. Expressions of interest regarding U.S. fish quota allocations for all species except 3L shrimp will be accepted throughout 2007. Expressions of interest regarding the U.S. 3L shrimp quota allocation and the 3M shrimp effort allocation will be accepted through January 4, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Expressions of interest regarding the U.S. effort allocation and quota allocations should be made in writing to Patrick E. Moran in the NMFS Office of International Affairs, at 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (phone: 301-713-2276, fax: 301-713-2313, e-mail: pat.moran@noaa.gov).

Information relating to NAFO fish quotas, NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures, and the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act (HSFC) Permit is available from Allison McHale, at the NMFS Northeast Regional Office at One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester,MA 01930 (phone: 978-281-9103, fax: 978-281-9135, e-mail: allison.mchale@noaa.gov) and from NAFO on the World Wide Web at http://www.nafo.int.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Patrick E. Moran, 301-713-2276.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

NAFO has established and maintains conservation measures in its Regulatory Area that include one effort limitation fishery as well as fisheries with total allowable catches (TACs) and member nation quota allocations. The principal species managed are cod, flounder, redfish, American plaice, halibut, capelin, shrimp, and squid. At the 2006 NAFO Annual Meeting, the United States received fish quota allocations for three NAFO stocks and an effort allocation for one NAFO stock to be fished during 2007. The species, location, and allocation (in metric tons or effort) of these U.S. fishing opportunities, as found in Annexes I.A, I.B, and I.C of the 2007 NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures, are as follows:

(1) RedfishNAFO Division 3M69 mt
(2) Squid (Illex)NAFO Subareas 3 & 4453 mt
(3) ShrimpNAFO Division 3L245 mt
(4) ShrimpNAFO Division 3M1 vessel/100 days

Additionally, U.S. vessels may be authorized to fish any available portion of the 627 mt allocation of oceanic redfish in NAFO Subarea 2 and Divisions 1F and 3K allocated to NAFO members that are not also members of the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission. Fishing opportunities may also be authorized for U.S. fishermen in the “Others” category for: Division 3LNO yellowtail flounder (76 mt); Division 3NO white hake (500 mt); Division 3LNO skates (500 mt); and Division 3O redfish (100 mt). Procedures for obtaining NMFS authorization are specified here.

U.S. Fish Quota Allocations

Expressions of interest to fish for any or all of the U.S. fish quota allocations and “Others” category allocations in NAFO will be considered from U.S. vessels in possession of a valid High Seas Fishing Compliance (HSFC) permit, which is available from the NMFS Northeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). All expressions of interest should be directed in writing to Patrick E. Moran (see ADDRESSES). Letters of interest from U.S. vessel owners should include the name, registration, and home port of the applicant vessel as required by NAFO in advance of fishing operations. In addition, any available information on intended target species and dates of fishing operations should be included. To ensure equitable access by U.S. vessel owners, NMFS may promulgate regulations designed to choose one or more U.S. applicants from among expressions of interest.

Note that vessels issued valid HSFC permits under 50 CFR part 300 are exempt from multispecies permit, mesh size, effort-control, and possession limit restrictions, specified in 50 CFR 648.4, 648.80, 648.82 and 648.86, respectively, while transiting the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with multispecies on board the vessel, or landing multispecies in U.S. ports that were caught while fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area, provided:

(1) The vessel operator has a letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator on board the vessel;

(2) For the duration of the trip, the vessel fishes, except for transiting purposes, exclusively in the NAFO Regulatory Area and does not harvest fish in, or possess fish harvested in, or from, the U.S. EEZ;

(3) When transiting the U.S. EEZ, all gear is properly stowed in accordance with one of the applicable methods specified in 50 CFR 648.23(b); and

(4) The vessel operator complies with the HSFC permit and all NAFO conservation and enforcement measures while fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area.

U.S. 3M Effort Allocation

Expressions of interest in harvesting the U.S. portion of the 2007 NAFO 3M shrimp effort allocation (1 vessel/100 days) will be considered from owners of U.S. vessels in possession of a valid HSFC permit. All expressions of interest should be directed in writing to Patrick E. Moran (see ADDRESSES).

Letters of interest from U.S. vessel owners should include the name, registration and home port of the applicant vessel as required by NAFO in advance of fishing operations. In the event that multiple expressions of interest are made by U.S. vessel owners, NMFS may promulgate regulations designed to choose one U.S. applicant from among expressions of interest.Start Printed Page 76222

NAFO Conservation and Management Measures

Relevant NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures include, but are not limited to, maintenance of a fishing logbook with NAFO-designated entries; adherence to NAFO hail system requirements; presence of an on-board observer; deployment of a functioning, autonomous vessel monitoring system; and adherence to all relevant minimum size, gear, bycatch, and other requirements. Further details regarding these requirements are available from the NMFS Northeast Regional Office, and can also be found in the current NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures on the Internet (see ADDRESSES).

Chartering Arrangements

In the event that no adequate expressions of interest in harvesting the U.S. portion of the 2007 NAFO 3L shrimp quota allocation and/or 3M shrimp effort allocation are made on behalf of U.S. vessels, expressions of interest will be considered from U.S. fishing interests intending to make use of vessels of other NAFO Parties under chartering arrangements to fish the 2007 U.S. quota allocation for 3L shrimp and/or the effort allocation for 3M shrimp. Under NAFO rules in effect through 2007, a vessel registered to another NAFO Contracting Party may be chartered to fish the U.S. effort allocation provided that written consent for the charter is obtained from the vessel's flag state and the U.S. allocation is transferred to that flag state. NAFO Parties must be notified of such a chartering operation through a mail notification process.

A NAFO Contracting Party wishing to enter into a chartering arrangement with the United States must be in full current compliance with the requirements outlined in the NAFO Convention and Conservation and Enforcement Measures including, but not limited to, submission of the following reports to the NAFO Executive Secretary: provisional monthly catches within 30 days following the calendar month in which the catches were made; provisional daily catches of shrimp taken from Division 3L; provisional monthly fishing days in Division 3M within 30 days following the calendar month in which the catches were made; observer reports within 30 days following the completion of a fishing trip; and an annual statement of actions taken in order to comply with the NAFO Convention. Furthermore, the United States may also consider a Contracting Party's previous compliance with the NAFO incidental catch limits, as outlined in the NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures, before entering into a chartering arrangement.

Expressions of interest from U.S. fishing interests intending to make use of vessels from another NAFO Contracting Party under chartering arrangements should include information required by NAFO regarding the proposed chartering operation, including: the name, registration and flag of the intended vessel; a copy of the charter; the fishing opportunities granted; a letter of consent from the vessel's flag state; the date from which the vessel is authorized to commence fishing on these opportunities; and the duration of the charter (not to exceed six months). More details on NAFO requirements for chartering operations are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). In addition, expressions of interest for chartering operations should be accompanied by a detailed description of anticipated benefits to the United States. Such benefits might include, but are not limited to, the use of U.S. processing facilities/personnel; the use of U.S. fishing personnel; other specific positive effects on U.S. employment; evidence that fishing by the chartered vessel actually would take place; and documentation of the physical characteristics and economics of the fishery for future use by the U.S. fishing industry.

In the event that multiple expressions of interest are made by U.S. fishing interests proposing the use of chartering operations, the information submitted regarding benefits to the United States will be used in making a selection. In the event that applications by U.S. fishing interests proposing the use of chartering operations are considered, all applicants will be made aware of the allocation decision as soon as possible. Once the allocation has been awarded for use in a chartering operation, NMFS will immediately take appropriate steps to notify NAFO and transfer the U.S. 3L shrimp quota allocation and/or the 3M shrimp effort allocation to the appropriate Contracting Party.

After reviewing all requests for allocations submitted, NMFS may decide not to grant any allocations if it is determined that no requests meet the criteria described in this notice. All individuals/companies submitting expressions of interest to NMFS will be contacted if an allocation has been awarded. Please note that if the U.S. portion of the 2007 NAFO 3L shrimp quota allocation and/or 3M shrimp effort allocation is awarded to a U.S. vessel or a specified chartering operation, it may not be transferred without the express, written consent of NMFS.

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Dated: December 14, 2006.

Rebecca Lent,

Director, Office of International Affairs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. E6-21741 Filed 12-19-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S