[Federal Register: October 10, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 196)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 60118-60120]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr10oc00-16]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 991228354-0078-02; I.D. 100300A]
RIN 0648-AM49

 
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, 
Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; 2000 Specifications Adjustment

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

ACTION: Inseason adjustment of Loligo squid annual specifications; 
announcement of a limited directed fishery and subsequent closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the Regional Administrator, Northeast 
Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), is increasing the annual 
specifications for Loligo squid, including allowable biological catch 
(ABC), initial optimum yield (IOY), domestic annual harvest (DAH) and 
domestic annual processing (DAP), from 13,000 metric tons (mt) to 
15,000 mt. The regulations governing the Atlantic mackerel, squid and 
butterfish fisheries require notice to provide interested parties the 
opportunity to comment on the adjustments. NMFS also announces that the 
Period III directed Loligo squid commercial fishery in the exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ) is reopened until 0001 hours October 26, 2000, as a 
result of this adjustment.

DATES: The Period III directed Loligo squid commercial fishery in the 
EEZ is reopened effective October 7, 2000, through October 25, 2000. 
Effective 0001 hours, October 26, 2000, the directed fishery for Loligo 
squid will close through December 31, 2000. Comments on the Loligo 
squid inseason adjustment notice must be received by November 9, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 1 Blackburn Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark on the outside of the envelope ``Comments on 
Adjustment of Loligo Squid Annual Specifications.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul H. Jones, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9273, fax 978-281-9135, e-mail paul.h.jones@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 28, 2000, NMFS published final 2000

[[Page 60119]]

initial specifications for the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish 
fisheries at 65 FR 16341. The Loligo squid specifications were 
established as follows: 26,000 mt maximum optimum yield (Max OY); 
13,000 mt ABC, IOY, DAH and DAP; 0 mt joint venture processing (JVP); 
and 0 mt total allowable level of foreign fishing (TALFF). The final 
rule also specified that the Loligo squid IOY of 13,000 mt be 
subdivided into three, 4-month quota periods (Period I (Jan-Apr)--5,460 
mt, Period II (May-Aug)--2,340 mt, and Period III (Sep-Dec)--5,200 mt). 
This quota is made available to the directed fishery until 95 percent 
of the annual allocation is landed. When landings reach that level, the 
directed fishery is closed and incidental landings only are allowed, 
with a limit of 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) per trip.
    The most recent assessment of the Loligo stock (29th Northeast 
Regional Stock Assessment Workshop, August 1999 (SAW-29)) concluded 
that the stock was approaching an overfished condition and overfishing 
was occurring. The control rule adopted in Amendment 8 to the FMP 
assumes a linear relationship between biomass levels and fishing 
mortality rate (F), and implies that, at the current biomass levels, F 
should be reduced to near zero. However, SAW-29 projections indicated 
that the control rule is overly conservative, and that, given the 
nature of the stock, the biomass can rebuild in a relatively short 
time, even at fishing mortality rates approaching FMSY. Consistent with 
this advice, the initial specifications for 2000 were set at 90 percent 
of FMSY, or 13,000 mt.
    The most recent data from the NMFS research survey for Loligo squid 
indicate that abundance of this species has increased significantly 
since the most recent assessment was conducted (SAW-29). Estimates of 
biomass based on NMFS' Northeast Fisheries Science Center autumn 1999 
and spring 2000 survey indices for Loligo squid indicate that the stock 
is currently at, or near, the biomass level that produces maximum 
sustainable yield (Bmsy).
    Section 648.21(e) allows the Regional Administrator, in 
consultation with the Council, to recommend inseason adjustments to the 
annual specifications during the fishing year by publishing 
notification in the Federal Register and providing a 30-day public 
comment period. Accordingly, based on the new survey data, the Council 
requested that NMFS process an inseason action to adjust the annual 
specifications for Loligo squid, including ABC, IOY, DAH and DAP, from 
13,000 mt to 15,000 mt. Given the short-lived nature of this species (1 
year) and the most recent survey information, the 2,000-mt increase is 
justified. Quota Periods I and II are closed to directed fishing when 
90 percent of each allocation is harvested, directed fishing for the 
remainder of the year is ended when 95 percent of the annual DAH is 
reached. Due to overages in Period I and II in 2000, only approximately 
720 mt will be available for harvest by the directed fishery for the 
remainder of this fishing year, even with the 2,000-mt adjustment. 
However, the additional allocation will provide the industry with an 
additional fishing opportunity in Period III and keep vessels from 
fishing for other, less robust species. Max OY remains at 26,000 mt, 
and JVP and TALFF remain at 0 mt.

2000 Final Specifications

    The following table contains the final adjusted specifications for 
the 2000 Atlantic mackerel, Loligo and Illex squids, and butterfish 
fisheries.

Table 1. Final Annual Specifications for Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish
for the Fishing Year January 1
                                           through December 31, 2000.
                                                Metric Tons (mt)
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                                                                        Squid
                       Specifications                       
--------------------------   Atlantic    Butterfish
                                                                 Loligo      
Illex       Mackerel
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MAX OY                                                             26,000      
24,000       N/A\1\       16,000
ABC                                                                15,000      
24,000      347,000        7,200
IOY                                                                15,000      
24,000    75,000\2\        5,900
DAH                                                                 15,00      
24,000    75,000\3\        5,900
DAP                                                                 15,00      
24,000       50,000        5,900
JVP                                                                     0          
 0    10,000\4\            0
TALFF                                                                   0          
 0            0           0
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\1\Not applicable.
\2\OY may be increased during the year, but the total ABC will not exceed 347,000
mt.
\3\Includes 15,000 mt of Atlantic mackerel recreational allocation.
\4\JVP may be increased up to 15,000 mt at discretion of the Regional
Administrator.


[[Page 60120]]

Reopening of the Period III Loligo Squid Commercial Fishery

    Section 648.22 requires the closure of the directed Loligo squid 
fishery in the EEZ when 95 percent of the total annual DAH Loligo squid 
has been harvested. NMFS is further required to notify, in advance of 
the closure, the Executive Directors of the Mid-Atlantic, New England, 
and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils; mail notification of 
the closure to all holders of Loligo squid permits at least 72 hours 
before the effective date of the closure; provide adequate notice of 
the closure to recreational participants in the fishery; and publish 
notification of the closure in the Federal Register.
    NMFS issued a notification in the Federal Register on September 6, 
2000 (65 FR 53940), announcing that the directed fishery for Loligo 
squid in the EEZ would close on September 7, 2000. This inseason 
adjustment will reopen the fishery effective 0001 hours, October 7, 
2000. Based on the rate of fishing in the Loligo fishery in prior 
years, NMFS has determined that 95 percent of the total annual DAH for 
Loligo squid will be harvested by October 25, 2000. Therefore, vessels 
issued a commercial Federal fisheries permit for the Loligo squid 
fishery may land Loligo squid effective 0001 hours, October 7, 2000, 
through October 25, 2000. Effective 0001 hours, October 26, 2000, the 
directed fishery for Loligo squid will close and vessels issued Federal 
permits for Loligo squid may not retain or land more than 2,500 lb 
(1.13 mt) of Loligo per trip. The directed fishery will reopen 
effective 0001 hours, January 1, 2001, which is the beginning of the 
Period I quota for the 2001 fishing year.

Classification

    This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under E.O. 12866.

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

    Dated: October 3, 2000.
Richard W. Surdi,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 00-25939 Filed 10-4-00; 4:45 pm]
BILLING CODE: 3510-22 -S