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Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Scientific Research, Exempted Fishing, and Exempted Activity Submissions

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.




The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.


Written comments must be submitted on or before September 15, 2017.


Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at

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Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 13533 F/SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 427-8503; or

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I. Abstract

This request is for extension of a current information collection.

Exempted fishing permits (EFPs), scientific research permits (SRPs), display permits, letters of acknowledgment (LOAs), and shark research fishery permits are issued under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and/or the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.). Issuance of EFPs and related permits is necessary for the collection of Highly Migratory Species (HMS) for public display and scientific research that requires exemption from regulations (e.g., seasons, prohibited species, authorized gear, and minimum sizes) that otherwise may prohibit such collection. Display permits are issued for the collection of HMS for the purpose of public display, and a limited number of shark research fishery permits are issued for the collection of fishery-dependent data for future stock assessments and cooperative research with commercial fishermen to meet the shark research objectives of the Agency.

Regulations at 50 CFR 600.745 and 50 CFR 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted fishing, and exempted educational activities with respect to Atlantic HMS. Since the Magnuson-Stevens Act does not include scientific research within the definition of “fishing”, scientific research is exempt from this statute, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) does not issue EFPs for bona fide research activities (e.g., research conducted from a research vessel and not a commercial or recreational fishing vessel) involving species that are only regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (e.g., most species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS requests copies of scientific research plans for these activities and indicates concurrence by issuing a LOA to researchers to indicate that the proposed activity meets the definition of scientific research and is therefore exempt from regulation.

Scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. NMFS issues SRPs for collection of species managed under this statute (e.g., tunas, swordfish, billfish, and some shark species), which authorize researchers to collect HMS from bona fide research vessels (e.g., NMFS or university research vessel.) NMFS will issue an EFP when research/collection involving such species occurs from commercial or recreational fishing platforms.

To regulate these fishing activities, NMFS needs information to determine the justification for granting an EFP, LOA, SRP, display, or shark research fishery permit. The application requirements are detailed at 50 CFR 600.745(b)(2). Interim, annual, and no-catch/fishing reports must also be submitted to the HMS Management Division within NMFS. The authority for the NMFS requiring this information is found at 50 CFR 635.32(a).

NMFS has updated the burden estimates based on participation in the Atlantic HMS Management Division's exempted fishing program from 2014 to 2016 and the Shark Research Fishery from 2014-2016. Since 2014 the shark research fishery application and the exempted fishing permit application have been separate applications. The burden estimates for these two applications remain the same for each application (40 minutes).Start Printed Page 32686

II. Method of Collection

Respondents have a choice of either electronic or paper forms. Methods of submittal include email of electronic forms, mail and facsimile transmission of paper forms.

III. Data

OMB Control Number: 0648-0471.

Form Number(s): None.

Type of Review: Regular submission (revision of a currently approved collection).

Affected Public: Non-profit institutions; State, local, or tribal government; business or other for-profit organizations.

Estimated Number of Respondents for Research and Display Permits: 39.

Estimated Number of Respondents for Shark Research Fishery Permits: 16.

Estimated Number of Calls to Request an Observer for Shark Research Fishery Participants: 84.

Estimated Time Per Response: 2 hours for a scientific research plan; 40 minutes for an application for an EFP, Display Permit, SRP, LOA, or Shark Research Permit; 1 hour for an interim report; 40 minutes for an annual fishing report; 15 minutes for an application for an amendment; 5 minutes for notification of departure phone calls to NMFS Enforcement; 10 minutes for calls to request and observer; and 2 minutes for “no-catch” reports.

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 616.

Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $7.84.

IV. Request for Comments

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

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Dated: July 11, 2017.

Sarah Brabson,

NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.

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[FR Doc. 2017-14863 Filed 7-14-17; 8:45 am]