NACO

National Association of Charterboat Operators

Plan for Periodic Review of Regulations

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) periodically review existing regulations that have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, such as small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions. This plan describes how NMFS will perform this review and describes the regulations that are being proposed for review during the current review-cycle.

Written comments must be received by NMFS by August 15, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 0648-XC012 by any of the following methods:

     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 

comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 

submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 

comment'' icon, then enter 0648-XC012. Locate the document you wish to 

comment on from the resulting list and click on the ``Submit a 

Comment'' icon on the right of that line.

     Mail: Submit written comments to Wendy Morrison, National 

Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, 1315 

East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (mark outside of envelope 

``Comments on 610 review'').

     Fax: 301-713-1193; Attn: Wendy Morrison.

Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy Morrison, (301) 427-8504, for questions on rules under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section listed in items 1 through 72; and Heather Coll, (301) 427-8455, for questions on rules under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section listed in items 73 through 76.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601, requires that Federal agencies take into 

account how their regulations affect ``small entities,'' including 

small businesses, small Governmental jurisdictions and small organizations. For regulations 

proposed after January 1, 1981, the agency must either prepare a 

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis or certify that the regulation, if 

promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a 

substantial number of small entities. Section 602 requires that NMFS 

issue an Agenda of Regulations identifying rules the Agency is 

developing that are likely to have a significant economic impact on a 

substantial number of small entities.

    Section 610 of the RFA requires Federal agencies to review existing 

regulations. It requires that NMFS publish a plan in the Federal 

Register explaining how it will review its existing regulations which 

have or will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 

of small entities. Regulations that become effective after January 1, 

1981, must be reviewed within 10 years of the publication date of the 

final rule. Section 610(c) requires that NMFS publish annually in the 

Federal Register a list of rules it will review during the succeeding 

12 months. The list must describe the rule, explain the need for it, 

give the legal basis for it, and invite public comment.

Criteria for Review of Existing Regulations

    The purpose of the review is to determine whether existing rules 

should be left unchanged, or whether they should be revised or 

rescinded in order to minimize significant economic impacts on a 

substantial number of small entities, consistent with the objectives of 

other applicable statutes. In deciding whether change is necessary, the 

RFA establishes five factors that NMFS will consider:

    (1) Whether the rule is still needed;

    (2) What type of complaints or comments were received concerning 

the rule from the public;

    (3) The complexity of the rule;

    (4) How much the rule overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with other 

Federal rules, and, to the extent feasible, with State and local 

governmental rules; and

    (5) How long it has been since the rule has been evaluated or how 

much the technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed 

in the area affected by the rule.

Plan for Periodic Review of Rules

    NMFS will conduct reviews in such a way as to ensure that all rules 

for which a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis was prepared are 

reviewed within 10 years of the year in which they were originally 

issued. By December 31, 2012, NMFS will review all such rules issued 

during 2003 and 2004:

    1. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Steller Sea 

Lion Protection Measures for the Groundfish Fisheries off Alaska. RIN 

0648-AQ08 (68 FR 204, January 2, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to 

implement Steller sea lion protection measures to avoid the likelihood 

that the groundfish fisheries off Alaska would jeopardize the continued 

existence of the western distinct population segment of Steller sea 

lions or adversely modify its critical habitat. These management 

measures dispersed fishing effort over time and area to provide 

protection from potential competition for important Steller sea lion 

prey species in waters adjacent to rookeries and important haulouts. 

The intended effect of this final rule was to protect the endangered 

western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions, as required 

under the Endangered Species Act, and to conserve and manage the 

groundfish resources in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands management area 

and the Gulf of Alaska in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    2. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Revisions 

to Observer Coverage Requirements for Vessels and Shoreside Processors 

in the North Pacific Groundfish Fisheries. RIN 0648-AM44 (68 FR 715, 

January 7, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to amend regulations 

governing the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program. This action 

was necessary to refine observer coverage requirements and improve 

support for observers. This action was intended to ensure continued 

collection of high-quality observer data to support the management 

objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of 

the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area and the Fishery Management 

Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, and was intended to promote 

the goals and objectives contained in those FMPs.

    3. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Amendment 

69 to Revise American Fisheries Act Inshore Cooperative Requirements. 

RIN 0648-AP71 (68 FR 6833, February 11, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule 

to implement Amendment 69 to the Fishery Management Plan for the 

Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutians Area. This final 

rule allowed an American Fisheries Act inshore cooperative to contract 

with a non-member vessel to harvest a portion of the cooperative's 

pollock allocation. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council 

developed Amendment 69 to provide greater flexibility to inshore 

catcher vessel cooperatives to arrange for the harvest of their pollock 

allocation, and to address potential emergency situations, such as 

vessel breakdowns, that would prevent a cooperative from harvesting its 

entire allocation. This action was designed to be consistent with the 

environmental and socioeconomic objectives of the American Fisheries 

Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Fishery Management Plan, and other 

applicable laws.

    4. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Western 

Alaska Community Development Quota Program. RIN 0648-AL97 (68 FR 9902, 

March 3, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to amend portions of the 

regulations governing the halibut fishery under the Western Alaska 

Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. These changes increased the 

Regulatory Area (Area) 4E trip limit from 6,000 lb (2.72 metric tons 

(mt)) to 10,000 lb (4.54 mt) and modified the Area 4 Catch Sharing Plan 

to allow CDQ Program participants to harvest allocations of Area 4D 

halibut CDQ in Area 4E. This action was intended to enhance harvesting 

opportunities for halibut CDQ fishermen and to further the goals and 

objectives of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council with respect 

to the CDQ program and the Pacific halibut fishery, consistent with the 

regulations and resource management objectives of the International 

Pacific Halibut Commission.

    5. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Seasonal 

Area Closure to Trawl, Pot, and Hook-and-Line Fishing in Waters off 

Cape Sarichef. RIN 0648-AQ46 (68 FR 11004, March 7, 2003). NMFS issued 

a final rule to seasonally close a portion of the waters located near 

Cape Sarichef in the Bering Sea subarea to directed fishing for 

groundfish by vessels using trawl, pot, or hook-and-line gear. This 

action was necessary to support NMFS research on the effect of fishing 

on the localized abundance of Pacific cod. It was intended to further 

the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for the 

Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area.

    6. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Opening 

Waters to Pacific Cod Pot Fishing off Cape Barnabas and Caton Island. 

RIN 0648-AQ45 (68 FR 31629, May 28, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to 

allow use of pot gear in waters around Cape Barnabas and Caton Island 

located in the Gulf of Alaska for directed fishing for Pacific cod. 

Prior to this regulation, waters within 3 nautical miles of these sites were closed to Pacific 

cod fishing by vessels using pot gear and named on a Federal fisheries 

permit. This action was necessary to provide consistency between State 

and Federal fishing restrictions and to relieve a potential burden on 

the Pacific cod pot gear fishing sector. This final rule was intended 

to meet the objectives in the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to further the 

goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of 

the Gulf of Alaska.

    7. Individual Fishing Quota Program for Pacific Halibut and 

Sablefish; Amendment 72/64 to Revise Recordkeeping and Reporting 

Requirements. RIN 0648-AP92 (68 FR 44473, July 29, 2003). NMFS issued a 

final rule to implement Amendment 72 to the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area and 

Amendment 64 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf 

of Alaska. This action revised certain recordkeeping and reporting 

requirements for the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for fixed 

gear Pacific halibut and sablefish fisheries and the Western Alaska 

Community Development Quota Program for the Pacific halibut fishery. 

This action was necessary to improve IFQ fishing operations, while 

complying with IFQ Program requirements; to improve NMFS' ability to 

efficiently administer the program; and to improve the clarity and 

consistency of IFQ Program regulations. This action was intended to 

meet the conservation and management requirements of the Northern 

Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 with respect to halibut, and of the 

Magnuson-Stevens Act with respect to sablefish, and to further the 

goals and objectives of the groundfish Fishery Management Plans.

    8. Fisheries off the Exclusive Economic Zone; Amendment of 

Eligibility Criteria for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 

Area Pacific Cod Hook-and-Line and Pot Gear Fisheries. RIN 0648-AQ75 

(68 FR 44666, July 30, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to amend 

eligibility criteria for Pacific cod endorsements to groundfish 

licenses issued under the License Limitation Program. These 

endorsements are necessary to participate in the Bering Sea and 

Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) Pacific cod hook-and-line or 

pot gear fisheries with vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet length 

overall. This action was necessary to allow additional participation in 

the BSAI Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot gear fisheries, as intended 

by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The intended effect of 

this action was to prevent unnecessary restriction on participation in 

the BSAI Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot gear fisheries and to 

conserve and manage the Pacific cod resources in the BSAI in accordance 

with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    9. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; License 

Limitation Program. RIN 0648-AQ73 (68 FR 46117, August 5, 2003). NMFS 

issued a final rule to amend eligibility criteria for Bering Sea and 

Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab species licenses issued under the License 

Limitation Program and required for participation in the BSAI crab 

fisheries. This action was necessary to allow participation in the BSAI 

crab fisheries in a manner intended by the North Pacific Fishery 

Management Council. The intended effect of this action was to allow 

vessels with recent participation in the BSAI crab fisheries to qualify 

for a License Limitation Program crab species license and to conserve 

and manage the crab resources in the BSAI in accordance with the 

Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    10. Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Guideline Harvest Levels for the 

Guided Recreational Halibut Fishery. RIN 0648-AK17 (68 FR 47256, August 

8, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to implement a guideline harvest 

level for managing the harvest of Pacific halibut in the guided 

recreational fishery in International Pacific Halibut Commission areas 

2C and 3A in and off of Alaska. The guideline harvest level established 

an amount of halibut that would be monitored annually in the guided 

recreational fishery. This action was necessary to allow NMFS to manage 

more comprehensively the Pacific halibut stocks in waters off Alaska. 

It was intended to further the management and conservation goals of the 

Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982.

    11. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Removal of 

Full Retention and Utilization Requirements for Rock Sole and Yellowfin 

Sole. RIN 0648-AQ78 (68 FR 52142, September 2, 2003). NMFS issued 

regulatory changes to implement the partial approval of Amendment 75 to 

the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering 

Sea and Aleutian Islands Area. As partially approved, this amendment 

eliminated all reference to the requirements for 100-percent retention 

and utilization of rock sole and yellowfin sole in the groundfish 

fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. This 

action was necessary to amend regulations to maintain consistency with 

the the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act, the 

Fishery Management Plan, and other applicable laws.

    12. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Electronic 

Reporting Requirements. RIN 0648-AP66 (68 FR 58038, October 8, 2003). 

NMFS issued a final rule to amend regulations governing the North 

Pacific Groundfish Observer Program. This action was necessary to 

refine requirements for the facilitation of observer data transmission 

and improve support for observers. The final rule was necessary to 

improve the timely transmission of high-quality observer data for a 

sector of catcher vessels in these fisheries. It was intended to 

support the management objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Area and 

the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.

    13. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Allocation 

of Pacific Cod Among Fixed Gear Sectors. RIN 0648-AR31 (68 FR 67086, 

December 1, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 77 

to the Fishery Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering 

Sea and Aleutian Islands Area. This action allocated the fixed gear 

portion of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) 

Pacific cod total allowable catch among the fixed gear sectors. In 

addition, this action further split the pot sector share of the total 

allowable catch between pot catcher/processors and pot catcher vessels; 

changed how the 2 percent annual BSAI Pacific cod allocation to jig 

gear was seasonally apportioned; and changed how unused portions were 

reallocated to other gear types. Amendment 77 and its implementing 

regulations were necessary to maintain the stability of the fixed gear 

Pacific cod fishery. This action was intended to promote the goals and 

objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act the Fishery Management Plan, and 

other applicable laws.

    14. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Revision 

to the Management of ``Other Species'' Community Development Quota. RIN 

0648-AQ88 (68 FR 69974, December 16, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule 

that modified the management of the ``other species'' Community 

Development Quota (CDQ) reserve by eliminating specific allocations of 

``other species'' CDQ to individual CDQ managing organizations. The 

action instead allowed NMFS to manage the ``other species'' CDQ reserve 

with the general limitations used to manage the catch of 

non-CDQ groundfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management 

area. This action also eliminated the CDQ non-specific reserve and made 

other changes to improve the clarity and consistency of CDQ Program 

regulations. This action was necessary to improve NMFS' ability to 

effectively administer the CDQ Program. It was intended to further the 

goals and objectives of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council 

with respect to this program.

    15. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Halibut 

Fisheries in U.S. Convention Waters Off Alaska; Management Measures to 

Reduce Seabird Incidental Take in the Hook-and-Line Halibut and 

Groundfish Fisheries. RIN 0648-AM30 (69 FR 1930, January 13, 2004). 

NMFS issued a final rule to revise regulations requiring seabird 

avoidance measures in the hook-and-line groundfish fisheries of the 

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area and Gulf of Alaska, and 

in the Pacific halibut fishery in U.S. Convention waters off Alaska. 

This action was intended to improve the pre-existing requirements and 

further mitigate interactions with the shorttailed albatross 

(Phoebastria albatrus), an endangered species protected under the 

Endangered Species Act, and with other seabird species in hook-and-line 

fisheries in and off Alaska, and thus further the goals and objectives 

of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, 

the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

    16. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish 

Observer Program. RIN 0648-AR32 (69 FR 1951, January 13, 2004). NMFS 

issued a final rule to amend regulations governing the North Pacific 

Groundfish Observer Program. This action was necessary to provide added 

flexibility in the deployment of observers in the Exclusive Economic 

Zone off the coast of Alaska. In addition, this action was intended to 

ensure continued collection of high-quality observer data. It was 

necessary to support the management objectives of the Fishery 

Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and 

Aleutian Islands Area and the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of 

the Gulf of Alaska, and to promote the goals and objectives contained 

in those Fishery Management Plans.

    17. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Provisions 

of the American Fisheries Act (AFA). RIN 0648-AR13 (69 FR 6198, 

February 10, 2004). NMFS issued a final rule to remove the expiration 

date of regulations published in the Federal Register on December 30, 

2002, implementing the AFA. The AFA final rule inadvertently specified 

a period of effectiveness that would expire December 31, 2007. This 

rule made the amendments to the AFA rule permanent, as originally 

intended. This action was necessary to implement the AFA consistent 

with statutory requirements, and was intended to do so in a manner 

consistent with the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 

applicable laws.

    18. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; 

Recordkeeping and Reporting. RIN 0648-AR08 (69 FR 21975, April 23, 

2004). NMFS issued this final rule to revise the descriptions of Gulf 

of Alaska (GOA) reporting areas 620 and 630 in paragraph (b) of Figure 

3 to 50 CFR part 679 to include the entire Alitak/Olga/Deadman's/

Portage Bay complex of Kodiak Island within reporting area 620. This 

action was necessary to improve quota management and fishery 

enforcement in the GOA. This action was intended to meet the 

conservation and management requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 

and to further the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan 

for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.

    19. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Individual 

Fishing Quota Program; Community Purchase. RIN 0648-AQ98 (69 FR 23681, 

April 30, 2004). NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 66 to 

the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, and 

an amendment to the Pacific halibut commercial fishery regulations for 

waters in and off of Alaska. Amendment 66 to the Fishery Management 

Plan and the regulatory amendment modified the Individual Fishing Quota 

(IFQ) Program by revising the eligibility criteria to receive halibut 

and sablefish IFQ and quota share (QS) by transfer to allow eligible 

communities in the Gulf of Alaska to establish non-profit entities to 

purchase and hold QS for lease to, and use by, community residents as 

defined by specific elements of the proposed action. This action 

improved the effectiveness of the IFQ Program by providing additional 

opportunities for residents of fishery dependent communities and was 

necessary to promote the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 

Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 with respect to the IFQ fisheries.

    20. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Skates 

Management in the Groundfish Fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska. RIN 0648-

AR73 (69 FR 26313, May 12, 2004). NMFS issued a final rule to implement 

Amendment 63 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf 

of Alaska. Amendment 63 moved skates from the ``other species'' list to 

the ``target species'' list in the Fishery Management Plan. By listing 

skates as a target species, management of a directed fishery for skates 

in the Gulf of Alaska was improved. The final rule revised the 

definition of ``other species'' and revised the listings for skates and 

``other species'' to allow for the management of incidental catch of 

skates in groundfish fisheries and for groundfish in the skates 

directed fishery. This action was necessary to reduce the potential for 

overfishing skates. This action was intended to promote the goals and 

objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Fishery Management Plan, 

and other applicable laws.

    21. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; General 

Limitations. RIN 0648-AR41 (69 FR 32901, June 14, 2004). NMFS issued a 

final rule amending regulations establishing pollock Maximum Retainable 

Amounts (MRA). This action adjusted the MRA enforcement period for 

pollock harvested in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management 

area from enforcement at anytime during a fishing trip to enforcement 

at the time of offload. This action was necessary to reduce regulatory 

discards of pollock caught incidentally in the directed fisheries for 

non-pollock groundfish species. The intended effect of this action was 

to better use incidentally caught pollock in accordance with the goals 

and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Fishery Management 

Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 

Area.

    22. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Revisions 

to the Annual Harvest Specifications Process for the Groundfish 

Fisheries of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 

Management Area. RIN 0648-AR77 (69 FR 64683, November 8, 2004). NMFS 

issued a final rule that implemented Amendment 48 to the Fishery 

Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and 

Amendment 48 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the 

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) (Amendments 48/

48). Amendments 48/48 revised the administrative process used to 

establish annual harvest specifications for the groundfish fisheries of 

the GOA and the BSAI, and updated the Fishery Management Plans by: 

Revising the description of the groundfish fisheries and participants, revising the 

name of the BSAI Fishery Management Plan, revising text to simplify 

wording and correct typographical errors, and revising the description 

of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Groundfish Plan Teams' 

responsibilities. The final rule revised regulations to implement the 

new harvest specifications process in Amendments 48/48 and revised the 

name of the BSAI Fishery Management Plan. This action was intended to 

promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 

Fishery Management Plans, and other applicable laws.

    23. Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Full 

Retention of Demersal Shelf Rockfish in the Southeast Outside District 

of the Gulf of Alaska. RIN 0648-AP73 (69 FR 68095, November 23, 2004). 

NMFS issued a final rule that requires the operator of a federally 

permitted catcher vessel using hook-and-line or jig gear in the 

Southeast Outside District of the Gulf of Alaska to retain and land all 

demersal shelf rockfish caught while fishing for groundfish or for 

Pacific halibut under the Individual Fishing Quota program. This action 

was necessary to improve estimates of fishing mortality of demersal 

shelf rockfish. This final rule was intended to further the goals and 

objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Fishery Management Plan 

for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.

    24. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea 

Scallop Fishery; Framework Adjustment 15. RIN 0648-AQ28 (68 FR 9580, 

February 28, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement Framework 

15 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan developed by the 

New England Fishery Management Council. This final rule implemented 

management measures for the 2003 fishing year, including a days-at-sea 

adjustment, and continuation of a Sea Scallop Area Access Program for 

2003. The intent of this action was to achieve the goals and objectives 

of the Fishery Management Plan under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to 

achieve optimum yield in the scallop fishery. In addition, this final 

rule included regulatory text that codifies an additional gear stowage 

provision for scallop dredge gear that was established by the 

Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS in 2001.

    25. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer 

Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Summer Flounder, Scup, 

and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. RIN 0648-AN12 (68 FR 10181, 

March 4, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement approved 

measures contained in Amendment 13 to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and 

Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. Pursuant to the Magnuson-

Stevens Act and the Fishery Management Plan, this final rule 

established an annual coastwide quota for black sea bass and allowed 

vessels to fish under a Southeast Region Snapper/Grouper permit and to 

retain their Northeast Region Black Sea Bass Permit during a Federal 

fishery closure. Finally, this final rule required that vessels issued 

a Federal moratorium permit for summer flounder, scup, and black sea 

bass be subject to the presumption that any fish of these species on 

board were harvested from the exclusive economic zone.

    26. Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; American 

Lobster Fishery. RIN 0648-AP15 (68 FR14902, March 27, 2003). NMFS 

amended regulations to modify the management measures applicable to the 

American lobster fishery. This action responded to the following 

recommendations made by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 

(Commission): To control fishing effort as determined by historical 

participation in the American lobster trap fisheries conducted in the 

offshore Lobster Conservation Management Area 3 (Area 3) and in the 

nearshore LCMAs of the Exclusive Economic Zone from New York through 

North Carolina (Areas 4 and 5); to implement a mechanism for 

conservation equivalency and associated trap limits for owners of 

vessels in possession of a Federal lobster permit fishing in New 

Hampshire state waters; and to clarify lobster management area 

boundaries in Massachusetts waters. NMFS included in this final rule a 

mechanism for Federal consideration of future Commission requests to 

implement conservation-equivalent measures and a technical amendment to 

the regulations clarifying that Federal lobster permit holders must 

attach federally approved lobster trap tags to all lobster traps fished 

in any portion of any management area (whether in state or Federal 

waters). This requirement was not new, but was not previously specified 

in the regulatory text. This announcement was intended to make the 

regulations easier to understand.

    27. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 

Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 37 to the Northeast 

Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. RIN 0648-AQ35 (68 FR 22333, April 

28, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement measures contained 

in Framework Adjustment 37 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery 

Management Plan to eliminate the Year 4 default measure for whiting in 

both stock areas; reinstate the Cultivator Shoal whiting fishery season 

through October 31 each year; eliminate the 10-percent restriction on 

red hake incidental catch in the Cultivator Shoal whiting fishery; 

adjust the incidental catch allowances in Small Mesh Areas 1 and 2 so 

that they are consistent with those in the Cape Cod Bay raised footrope 

trawl fishery; clarify the transfer-at-sea provisions for small-mesh 

multispecies for use as bait; modify slightly the Cape Cod Bay raised 

footrope trawl fishery area; and retain the 30,000-lb (13.6 mt) trip 

limit for the Cultivator Shoal whiting fishery.

    28. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Monkfish 

Fishery; Framework Adjustment 2. RIN 0648-AQ29 (68 FR 22325, April 28, 

2003). NMFS implemented measures contained in Framework Adjustment 2 to 

the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan. This final rule modified the 

monkfish overfishing definition reference points and optimum yield 

target control rule to be consistent with the best scientific 

information available and the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 

This rule also implemented an expedited process for setting annual 

target total allowable catch levels (TACs); established a method for 

adjusting monkfish trip limits and days-at-sea allocations to achieve 

the annual target TACs; and established target TACs and corresponding 

trip limits for the 2003 fishing year. As a result, this rule 

eliminated the default measures adopted in the original Fishery 

Management Plan that would have resulted in the elimination of the 

directed monkfish fishery and reduced incidental catch limits. Finally, 

this final rule clarified the regulations pertaining to the monkfish 

area declaration requirements by specifying that vessels intending to 

fish under either a monkfish, Northeast multispecies, or scallop days-

at-sea, under the less restrictive measures of the Northern Fishery 

Management Area (NFMA), declare their intent to fish in the NFMA for a 

minimum of 30 days.

    29. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 

Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 38 to the Northeast 

Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. RIN 0648-AQ76 (68

FR 40808, July 9, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement 

measures contained in Framework Adjustment 38 to the Northeast (NE) 

Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to exempt a fishery from the Gulf 

of Maine Regulated Mesh Area mesh size regulations. Framework 38 

established an exempted small mesh silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis) 

(whiting) fishery in the inshore Gulf of Maine. The exempted fishery 

was authorized from July 1 through November 30 each year; required the 

use of specific exempted grate-raised footrope trawl gear; established 

a maximum whiting possession limit of 7,500 lb (3,402 kg); and included 

incidental catch restrictions.

    30. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 

Skate Complex Fisheries; Skate Fishery Management Plan. RIN 0648-AO10 

(68 FR 49693, August 19, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to 

implement approved measures contained in the Skate Fishery Management 

Plan. These regulations implemented the following measures: A 

possession limit for skate wings; a bait-only exemption to the wing 

possession limit restrictions; a procedure for the development, 

revision, and/or review of management measures on an annual, biennial, 

and interannual basis, including a framework adjustment process; open 

access permitting requirements for fishing vessels, operators, and 

dealers; new species-level reporting requirements for skate vessels and 

dealers; new discard reporting requirements for Federal vessels; and 

prohibitions on possessing smooth skates in the Gulf of Maine Regulated 

Mesh Area, and thorny skates and barndoor skates throughout the 

management unit. This final rule also implemented other measures for 

administration and enforcement. The intended effect of this final rule 

was to implement permanent management measures for the Northeast skate 

fisheries pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Fishery 

Management Plan, and to prevent overfishing of skate resources. Also, 

NMFS informed the public of the approval by the Office of Management 

and Budget of the collection-of-information requirements contained in 

this final rule and publishes the Office of Management and Budget 

control numbers for these collections.

    31. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 

Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Framework Adjustment 3. RIN 0648-

AR43 (68 FR 62250, November 3, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to 

implement measures contained in Framework Adjustment 3 to the Summer 

Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan to allow the 

rollover of unused commercial scup quota from the Winter I period to 

the Winter II period, and to change the regulations regarding the scup 

commercial quota counting procedures. NMFS also adjusted the 2003 

Winter II commercial scup quota and possession limit.

    32. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic 

Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery; Amendment 13 to the Surfclam and 

Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan. RIN 0648-AP57 (68 FR 69970, 

December 16, 2003). NMFS implemented measures contained in Amendment 13 

to the Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 13 established: A new 

surfclam overfishing definition; multi-year fishing quotas; a mandatory 

vessel monitoring system, when such a system was economically viable; 

the ability to suspend or adjust the surfclam minimum size limit 

through a framework adjustment; and an analysis of fishing gear impacts 

on essential fish habitat for surfclams and ocean quahogs. This final 

rule included technical corrections to the regulations implementing the 

Fishery Management Plan, which clarified the Mid-Atlantic Fishery 

Management Council's intent not to restrict allocation ownership to 

only those entities that also own a permitted vessel, and to eliminate 

the restriction on the transfer of allocation tags of amounts less than 

160 bushels (bu) (i.e., 5 cage tags). The primary purpose of Amendment 

13 was to rectify the disapproved surfclam overfishing definition and 

the essential fish habitat analysis and rationale contained in 

Amendment 12 in order to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and to 

simplify the regulatory requirements of the Fishery Management Plan.

    33. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recordkeeping and 

Reporting Requirements; Regulatory Amendment To Modify Seafood Dealer 

Reporting Requirements. RIN 0648-AR79 (69 FR 13482, March 23, 2004). 

NMFS issued this final rule to implement approved management measures 

contained in a regulatory amendment to modify the reporting and 

recordkeeping regulations for federally permitted seafood dealers 

participating in the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Atlantic 

sea scallop, Northeast (NE) multispecies, monkfish, Atlantic mackerel, 

squid, butterfish, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, Atlantic herring, 

Atlantic deep-sea red crab, tilefish, Atlantic bluefish, skates, and/or 

spiny dogfish fisheries in the NE Region. The purpose of this action 

was to improve monitoring of commercial landings by collecting more 

timely and accurate data, enhance enforceability of the existing 

regulations, promote compliance with existing regulations, and ensure 

consistency in reporting requirements among fisheries.

    34. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 

Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Framework Adjustment 4. RIN 0648-

AR62 (69 FR 16175, March 29, 2004). NMFS issued a final rule 

implementing measures contained in Framework Adjustment 4 to the Summer 

Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan that allowed 

for the transfer at sea of scup between commercial fishing vessels, and 

clarified the circumstances under which a vessel must operate with the 

specified mesh. Regulations regarding the establishment and 

administration of research set-aside quota were also amended to clarify 

how unused research set-aside quota was to be returned to the fishery.

    35. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Monkfish Fishery. 

RIN 0648-AR89 (69 FR 18291, April 7, 2004). NMFS implemented measures 

to establish target total allowable catch (TAC) levels for the monkfish 

fishery for the 2004 fishing year. The regulation also adjusted trip 

limits and days-at-sea for limited access monkfish vessels fishing in 

the Southern Fishery Management Area based upon the methods established 

in Framework Adjustment 2 to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan. 

Based on these methods, this final rule established FY 2004 target TACs 

of 16,968 mt for the Northern Fishery Management Area, and 6,772 mt for 

the Southern Fishery Management Area; adjusted the trip limits for 

vessels fishing in the Southern Fishery Management Area to 550 lb (250 

kg) tail weight per days-at-sea for limited access Category A and C 

vessels, and 450 lb (204 kg) tail weight per days-at-sea for limited 

access Category B and D vessels; and restricted the fishing year 2004 

days-at-sea available for monkfish limited access vessels fishing in 

the Southern Fishery Management Area to 28 days-at-sea.

    36. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Tilefish Fishery; 

Reinstatement of Permit Requirements for the Tilefish Fishery. RIN 

0648-AR75 (69 FR 22454, April 26, 2004). NMFS reinstated the permit 

requirements for commercial tilefish vessels. These permit requirements were set aside 

in a Federal Court Order on the grounds that the limited access program 

contained in the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan violated National 

Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Court found that there was 

insufficient support for the various limited access permit criteria in 

the administrative record for the Fishery Management Plan. NMFS 

reinstated these permit requirements based on additional information in 

the form of a supplemental administrative record to the Fishery 

Management Plan provided by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council 

that supported and explained the basis for the limited access permit 

criteria contained in the Fishery Management Plan. This action also 

allocated the remainder of the fishing year 2004 (November 1, 2003-

October 31, 2004) tilefish total allowable landings to the various 

limited access permit categories according to the regulations, based 

upon a projection of tilefish landings through the effective date of 

this rule, and using dealer reports. This action enabled NMFS to manage 

the tilefish fishery in accordance with the provisions of the Magnuson-

Stevens Act by preventing overfishing, and ensuring that the stock 

rebuilding objective of the Fishery Management Plan was achieved.

    37. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast (NE) 

Multispecies Fishery; Amendment 13. RIN 0648-AN17 (69 FR 22906, April 

27, 2004). NMFS implemented approved measures contained in Amendment 13 

to the NE Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 13 was 

developed by the New England Fishery Management Council to end 

overfishing and rebuild NE multispecies (groundfish) stocks managed 

under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and to make other 

changes in the management of the groundfish fishery. This rule 

implemented the following measures: Changes in the days-at-sea baseline 

for determining historical participation in the groundfish fishery; 

days-at-sea reductions from the baseline; creation of new categories of 

days-at-sea and criteria for their allocation and use in the fishery; 

changes in minimum fish size and possession limits for recreationally 

caught fish; a new limited access permit category for Handgear vessels; 

elimination of the northern shrimp fishery exemption line; access to 

groundfish closed areas for tuna purse seiners; an exemption program 

for southern New England scallop dredge vessels; modifications to 

Vessel Monitoring System requirements; changes to procedures for 

exempted fisheries; changes to the process for making periodic 

adjustments to management measures in the groundfish fishery; revisions 

to trip limits for cod and yellowtail flounder; changes in gear 

restrictions, including minimum mesh sizes and gillnet limits; a days-

at-sea Transfer Program; a days-at-sea Leasing Program; implementing 

measures for the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding for cod, 

haddock, and yellowtail flounder on Georges Bank; a Special Access 

Program to allow increased targeting of Georges Bank yellowtail 

flounder; revisions to overfishing definitions and control rules; 

measures to protect essential fish habitat; new reporting requirements; 

sector allocation procedures; and a Georges Bank Cod Hook Gear Sector 

Allocation. The effort-reduction measures in Amendment 13 were intended 

to end overfishing on all stocks and constitute rebuilding programs for 

those groundfish stocks that require rebuilding. Other measures were 

intended to provide flexibility and business options for permit 

holders. Also, NMFS informed the public of the approval by the Office 

of Management and Budget of the collection-of information requirements 

contained in this final rule and publishes the Office of Management and 

Budget control numbers for these collections.

    38. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea 

Scallop Fishery; Amendment 10. RIN 0648-AN16 (69 FR 35194, June 23, 

2004). NMFS implemented approved measures contained in Amendment 10 to 

the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan, developed by the New 

England Fishery Management Council. Amendment 10 included a long-term, 

comprehensive program to manage the sea scallop fishery through an area 

rotation management program to maximize scallop yield. Areas were 

defined and would be closed and reopened to fishing on a rotational 

basis, depending on the condition and size of the scallop resource in 

the areas. This rule included measures to minimize the adverse effects 

of fishing on essential fish habitat to the extent practicable. 

Amendment 10 also included updated days-at-sea allocations, measures to 

minimize bycatch to the extent practicable, and other measures to make 

the management program more effective, efficient, and flexible. In 

addition, NMFS published the Office of Management and Budget control 

numbers for collection of-information requirements contained in this 

final rule.

    39. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 

Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Framework Adjustment 5. RIN 0648-

AR50 (69 FR 62818, October 28, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule to 

implement measures contained in Framework Adjustment 5 to the Summer 

Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan that allowed 

for specification of annual Total Allowable Landings for multiple 

years. The intent was to provide flexibility and efficiency to the 

management of the species. In addition, this final rule included 

several administrative modifications to the existing regulations for 

clarification purposes.

    40. Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea 

Scallop Fishery and Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery; Framework 16 

and Framework 39. RIN 0648-AR55 (69 FR 63460, November 2, 2004). NMFS 

implemented concurrently Framework 16 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop 

Fishery Management Plan and Framework 39 to the Northeast Multispecies 

Fishery Management Plan developed by the New England Fishery Management 

Council. The Joint Frameworks established Scallop Access Areas within 

Northeast multispecies Closed Area I, Closed Area II, and the Nantucket 

Lightship Closed Area. Prior to these regulations, the NE multispecies 

closed areas were closed year-round to all fishing that was capable of 

catching NE multispecies, including scallop fishing. The Joint 

Frameworks allowed the scallop fishery to access the scallop resource 

within portions of the NE multispecies closed areas during specified 

seasons, and ensured that NE multispecies catches by scallop vessels 

were consistent with the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The 

Joint Frameworks also revised the essential fish habitat closed areas 

implemented under Amendment 10 to the Scallop Fishery Management Plan 

in order to make the areas consistent with the essential fish habitat 

closures under the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, as established 

by Amendment 13 to the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan.

    41. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 

Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast (NE) 

Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 40-A. RIN 0648-AS34 (69 FR 

67780, November 19, 2004). NMFS implemented approved measures contained 

in Framework Adjustment

 

[[Page 41735]]

 

40-A to the NE Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Framework 

Adjustment 40-A was developed by the New England Fishery Management 

Council to provide additional opportunities for vessels in the fishery 

to target healthy stocks of groundfish in order to mitigate the 

economic and social impacts resulting from the effort reductions 

required by Amendment 13 to the Fishery Management Plan, and to harvest 

groundfish stocks at levels that approach optimum yield. This rule 

implemented three programs to allow vessels to use Category B Days-at-

Sea (both Regular and Reserve) to target healthy stocks: Regular B 

days-at-sea Pilot Program; Closed Area (CA) I Hook Gear Haddock Special 

Access Program for the Georges Bank Cod Hook Sector; and Eastern U.S./

Canada Haddock Special Access Program Pilot Program. In addition, 

Framework Adjustment 40-A relieved an Amendment 13 restriction that 

prohibited vessels from fishing both in the Western U.S./Canada Area 

and outside that area on the same trip.

    42. Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Amendment 17. RIN 0648-AQ68 (68 FR 

52519, September 4, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement 

Amendment 17 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. 

Amendment 17 changed the Pacific Fishery Management Council's 

(Council's) annual groundfish management process from an annual to a 

biennial process. Amendment 17 was intended to ensure that the 

specifications and management measures process comports with a Federal 

Court ruling, to make the Council's development process for 

specifications and management measures more efficient so that more time 

was available for other management activities, and to streamline the 

NMFS regulatory process for implementing the specifications and 

management measures.

    43. Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Vessel Monitoring Systems and 

Incidental Catch Measures. RIN 0648-AQ58 (68 FR62374, November 4, 

2003). NMFS issued a final rule to require vessels registered to 

Pacific Coast groundfish fishery limited entry permits to carry and use 

mobile vessel monitoring system transceiver units while fishing in 

state or Federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and 

California. This action was necessary to monitor compliance with large-

scale depth-based conservation areas that restrict fishing across much 

of the continental shelf. This final rule also required the operators 

of any vessel registered to a limited entry permit and any open access 

or tribal vessel using trawl gear, including exempted gear used to take 

pink shrimp, spot and ridgeback prawns, California halibut and sea 

cucumber, to declare their intent to fish within a conservation area 

specific to their gear type, in a manner that was consistent with the 

conservation area requirements. This action was intended to further the 

conservation goals and objectives of the Pacific Coast Groundfish 

Fishery Management Plan by allowing fishing to continue in areas and 

with gears that can harvest healthy stocks while reducing the 

incidental catch of low-abundance species.

    44. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Amendment 16-1. RIN 0648-AR36 (69 

FR8861, February 26, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule to implement 

Amendment 16-1 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. 

Amendment 16-1 set a process for and standards by which the Council 

would specify rebuilding plans for groundfish stocks declared 

overfished by the Secretary of Commerce. Amendment 16-1 was intended to 

ensure that Pacific Coast groundfish overfished species rebuilding 

plans meet the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in particular 

national standard 1 on overfishing, which addresses rebuilding 

overfished fisheries. Amendment 16-1 was also intended to partially 

respond to a Court order in which NMFS was ordered to provide Pacific 

Coast groundfish rebuilding plans as Fishery Management Plans, 

amendments, or regulations, per the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    45. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Amendment 16-2. RIN 0648-AR35 (69 

FR19347, April 13, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule to implement 

Amendment 16-2 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. 

Amendment 16-2 amended the Fishery Management Plan to include 

overfished species rebuilding plans for lingcod, canary rockfish, 

darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch within the Fishery 

Management Plan. This final rule added two rebuilding parameters to the 

Code of Federal Regulations for each overfished stock, the target year 

for rebuilding and the harvest control rule. Amendment 16-2 addressed 

the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to protect and rebuild 

overfished species managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan. 

Amendment 16-2 also responded to a Court order, in which NMFS was 

ordered to provide Pacific Coast groundfish rebuilding plans as Fishery 

Management Plans, amendments, or regulations, per the Magnuson-Stevens 

Act.

    46. Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Groundfish Observer Program. RIN 

0648-AK26 (69 FR31751, June 7, 2004). NMFS published this interim final 

rule to amend the regulations implementing the Pacific Coast Groundfish 

Fishery Management Plan to provide for a mandatory, vessel-financed 

observer program on at-sea processing vessels. This action was 

necessary to satisfy the standardized bycatch reporting methodology 

requirements of the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments to the 

Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    47. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Amendment 16-3; Corrections. RIN 

0648-AS26 (69 FR57874, September 28, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule 

to implement Amendment 16-3 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 

Management Plan. Amendment 16-3 amended the Fishery Management Plan to 

include overfished species rebuilding plans for bocaccio, cowcod, widow 

rockfish, and yelloweye rockfish within the Fishery Management Plan. 

This final rule added two rebuilding parameters to the Code of Federal 

Regulations for each overfished stock, the target year for rebuilding 

and the harvest control rule. Amendment 16-3 addressed the requirements 

of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to protect and rebuild overfished species 

managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 16-3 also 

responded to a Court order in which NMFS was ordered to provide Pacific 

Coast groundfish rebuilding plans as Fishery Management Plans, 

amendments, or regulations, per the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This rule 

also updated the list of rockfish species defined in the Code of 

Federal Regulations to match those listed in the Fishery Management 

Plan and contained corrections to 50 CFR part 660, subpart G.

    48. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery off the Southern 

Atlantic States; Amendment 5. RIN 0648-AP41 (68 FR 2188, January 16, 

2003). NMFS issued this final rule to implement Amendment 5 to the 

Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery off the Southern 

Atlantic States. This final rule established a limited access program 

for the rock shrimp fishery in the exclusive economic zone off Georgia 

and off the east coast of Florida (limited access 

area), established a minimum mesh size for a rock shrimp trawl net in 

the limited access area, required the use of an approved vessel 

monitoring system by vessels allowed to fish for rock shrimp in the 

limited access program, and required an operator of a vessel in the 

rock shrimp fishery in the exclusive economic zone off the southern 

Atlantic states (North Carolina through the east coast of Florida) to 

have an operator permit. In addition, NMFS informed the public of the 

approval by the Office of Management and Budget of the collection-of-

information requirements contained in this final rule and published the 

Office of Management and Budget control numbers for those collections. 

The intended effects of this final rule were to minimize additional 

increases in harvesting capacity in the rock shrimp fishery; reduce the 

bycatch of small, unmarketable rock shrimp; enhance compliance with 

fishery management regulations; improve protection of essential fish 

habitat, including an area that contains the last 20 acres (8 hectares) 

of intact Oculina coral remaining in the world; and ensure the long-

term economic viability of the rock shrimp industry.

    49. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South 

Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Revision of Charter 

Vessel and Headboat Permit Moratorium Eligibility Criterion. RIN 0648-

AQ70 (68 FR 26230, May 15, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to 

implement a corrected Amendment for the charter vessel/headboat permit 

moratorium established in Amendment 14 to the Fishery Management Plan 

for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and 

South Atlantic and in Amendment 20 to the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. This final rule revised, 

consistent with the actions taken by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 

Management Council (Council), one of the eligibility criteria for 

obtaining a charter vessel/headboat permit under the moratorium. This 

final rule also reopened the application process for obtaining Gulf 

charter vessel/headboat moratorium permits and extended the applicable 

deadlines; extended the expiration dates of valid or renewable open 

access permits for these fisheries; clarified, as requested by the 

Council, a constraint on issuance of historical captain permits under 

the moratorium; and extended the expiration date of the moratorium to 

account for the delay in implementation. In addition, NMFS informed the 

public of the approval by the Office of Management and Budget of the 

collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule and 

published the Office of Management and Budget control numbers for those 

collections. The intended effect of this final rule was to implement 

the charter vessel/headboat moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico consistent 

with the actions taken by the Council.

    50. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Pelagic Sargassum Habitat of the South Atlantic Region. RIN 0648-AN87 

(68 FR 57375, October 3, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to 

implement the Fishery Management Plan for Pelagic Sargassum Habitat of 

the South Atlantic Region. This final rule limited the harvest or 

possession of pelagic sargassum in or from the exclusive economic zone 

off the southern Atlantic states to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) annually; 

restricted fishing for pelagic sargassum in the South Atlantic 

exclusive economic zone to an area no less than 100 nautical miles 

offshore of North Carolina and to the months of November through June; 

required vessel owners or operators to accommodate NMFS-approved 

observers on all pelagic sargassum fishing trips; and restricted the 

mesh and frame sizes of nets used to harvest pelagic sargassum. The 

Fishery Management Plan also defined the management unit, maximum 

sustainable yield, optimum yield, and overfishing parameters. In 

addition, NMFS informed the public of the approval by the Office of 

Management and Budget of the collection-of-information requirements 

contained in this final rule and published the Office of Management and 

Budget control numbers for those collections. The intended effects were 

to conserve and manage pelagic sargassum and to protect essential fish 

habitat.

    51. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 10. RIN 0648-AM23 (69 

FR 1538, January 9, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule to implement the 

approved measures of Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, as prepared and submitted by 

the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. This final rule 

required, with limited exceptions, the use of NMFS-certified bycatch 

reduction devices in shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico exclusive 

economic zone (Gulf EEZ) east of 85[deg]30'W longitude (approximately 

Cape San Blas, FL). In addition, this final rule identified the 

certified BRDs authorized for use in the Gulf EEZ east of 85[deg]30'W 

longitude and modified the ``Gulf Of Mexico Bycatch Reduction Device 

Testing Protocol Manual'' to reflect the specific bycatch reduction 

criterion applicable for certification of bycatch reduction devices 

used in this area of the Gulf EEZ. The intended effect of this final 

rule was to reduce bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery to the 

extent practicable.

    52. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Snapper-Grouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 

13A. RIN 0648-AP03 (69 FR 15731, March 26, 2004). NMFS issued this 

final rule to implement Amendment 13A to the Fishery Management Plan 

for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. This 

final rule extended the previous prohibitions on fishing for South 

Atlantic snapper grouper in the experimental closed area and on 

retaining such species in or from the area. The experimental closed 

area included a portion of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular 

Concern, which is in the exclusive economic zone in the Atlantic Ocean 

off Ft. Pierce, FL. The intended effect was to continue the benefits of 

the closed area--in particular, enhanced stock stability and increased 

recruitment of South Atlantic snapper-grouper by providing an area 

where deepwater snapper-grouper species can grow and reproduce without 

being subjected to fishing mortality.

    53. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Extension of Marine Reserves. 

RIN 0648-AR66 (69 FR 24532, May 4, 2004). NMFS issued final regulations 

to implement Amendment 21 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef 

Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico prepared by the Gulf of Mexico 

Fishery Management Council. These final regulations modified the 

fishing restrictions that apply within the Madison and Swanson sites 

and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and 

these final regulations extended the period of effectiveness of those 

restrictions through June 16, 2010. The intended effect of these final 

regulations was to protect the spawning aggregations of species within 

these areas, prevent overfishing, and aid in the evaluation of the 

effectiveness of marine reserves as a management.

    54. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States. RIN 0648-AO63 (69 FR 

30235, May 27, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule to implement the 

approved measures of the Fishery Management Plan for the Dolphin and Wahoo 

Fishery off the Atlantic States. For the dolphin and wahoo fishery in 

the exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic states (Maine through the 

east coast of Florida), this final rule required vessel owners to 

obtain commercial vessel and charter vessel/headboat permits and, if 

selected, submit reports; required operators of commercial vessels, 

charter vessels, and headboats to obtain operator permits; required 

dealers to obtain permits and, if selected, submit reports; established 

bag limits and a minimum size limit (dolphin only); closed the longline 

fisheries in areas closed to the use of such gear for highly migratory 

pelagic species; prohibited sale without a commercial vessel permit; 

specified allowable gear; and established a framework procedure by 

which the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council could establish and 

modify certain management measures in a timely manner. The Fishery 

Management Plan also specified maximum sustainable yield, optimum 

yield, the determinants of overfishing (maximum fishing mortality 

threshold) and overfished (minimum stock size threshold), the 

management unit, the fishing year, and essential fish habitat and 

essential fish habitat habitat areas of particular concern. In 

addition, NMFS informed the public of the approval by the Office of 

Management and Budget of the collection-of-information requirements 

contained in this final rule and publishes the Office of Management and 

Budget control numbers for those collections. The intended effects were 

to conserve and manage dolphin and wahoo and to ensure that no new 

fisheries for dolphin and wahoo develop.

    55. Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 

Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan. 

RIN 0648-AP95 (69 FR 33315, June 15, 2004). NMFS issued this final rule 

to implement Secretarial Amendment 1 to the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Secretarial Amendment 1 

was prepared by the Secretary of Commerce and the Gulf of Mexico 

Fishery Management Council pursuant to the rebuilding requirements of 

the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This final rule established a quota for red 

grouper, provided for closure of the entire shallow-water grouper 

fishery when either the shallow-water grouper quota or the red grouper 

quota was reached, established a bag limit of two red grouper per 

person per day, reduced the shallow-water grouper quota, reduced the 

deep-water grouper quota, and established a quota for tilefishes. In 

addition, for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, Secretarial Amendment 

1 established a 10-year stock rebuilding plan, biological reference 

points, and stock status determination criteria consistent with the 

requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This final rule was designed 

to end overfishing and rebuild the red grouper resource.

    56. Fisheries off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery; Regulatory Amendment. RIN 0648-AQ94 

(68 FR 52523, September 4, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule to implement 

a regulatory amendment to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery 

Management Plan that changed the management subareas and the allocation 

process for Pacific sardine. The purpose of this final rule was to 

establish a more effective and efficient allocation process for Pacific 

sardine and increase the possibility of achieving optimum yield.

    57. Taking of Threatened or Endangered Species Incidental to 

Commercial Fishing Operations. RIN 0648-AR53 (69 FR 11540, March 11, 

2004). NMFS issued a final rule to prohibit shallow longline sets of 

the type normally targeting swordfish on the high seas in the Pacific 

Ocean east of 150[deg] W longitude by vessels managed under the Fishery 

Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory 

Species. This action was intended to protect endangered and threatened 

sea turtles from the adverse impacts of shallow longline fishing by 

U.S. longline fishing vessels in the Pacific Ocean and operating out of 

the west coast. This rule supplemented the regulations that implemented 

the Fishery Management Plan that prohibited shallow longline sets on 

the high seas in the Pacific Ocean west of 150[deg] W longitude by 

vessels managed under that Fishery Management Plan. The Fishery 

Management Plan was partially approved by NMFS on February 4, 2004. 

Together, these two regulations are expected to conserve leatherback 

and loggerhead sea turtles as required under the Endangered Species Act 

(ESA).

    58. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Highly Migratory Species Fisheries. RIN 0648-AP42. (69 FR 18444, April 

7, 2004). NMFS published a final rule to implement the approved 

portions of the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries 

for Highly Migratory Species. The intended effect of this final rule 

was to establish Federal management of U.S. fisheries for Pacific 

tunas, sharks, billfish, swordfish, and other highly migratory fish in 

the surface hook and line, drift gillnet, harpoon, pelagic longline, 

purse seine, and recreational fisheries in the U.S. exclusive economic 

zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and (for U.S. 

vessels) in adjacent high seas waters. This final rule was issued to 

prevent overfishing of the fish stocks to the extent practicable and 

achieve optimum yield for the U.S. fisheries involved while minimizing 

bycatch and protected species interactions consistent with the 

Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law. The final rule 

implemented consistent management of these fisheries with respect to 

the states, other fishery management councils, and international 

agreements. The final rule was intended to promote the long-term 

economic health of the fisheries.

    59. International Fisheries Regulations; Pacific Tuna Fisheries. 

RIN 0648-AQ22. (69 FR 31531, June 4, 2004). NMFS issued regulations to 

implement the 1981 Treaty Between the Government of the United States 

of America and the Government of Canada on Pacific Coast Albacore Tuna 

Vessels and Port Privileges (Treaty) as authorized by recently passed 

legislation. This final rule established vessel marking, recordkeeping, 

and reporting requirements for U.S. albacore tuna fishing vessel 

operators, as well as for vessel marking and reporting requirements for 

Canadian albacore tuna fishing vessel operators fishing under the 

Treaty. The intended effect of this final rule was to allow the United 

States to carry out its obligations under the Treaty by limiting 

fishing by both U.S. and Canadian vessels as provided for in the 

Treaty.

    60. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Coral Reef Ecosystems Fishery Management Plan for the Western Pacific. 

RIN 0648-AM97. (69 FR 8336, February 24, 2004). NMFS published this 

final rule to implement the Fishery Management Plan for Coral Reef 

Ecosystems of the Western Pacific Region. The rule established a coral 

reef ecosystem regulatory area, marine protected areas, permitting and 

reporting requirements, no-anchoring zone, gear restrictions, and a 

framework regulatory process. This rule also pertained to the other 

four western Pacific fishery management plans with respect to fishing 

activities in the U.S. exclusive economic zone of the western Pacific 

region and implemented Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for 

the Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region, Amendment 11 to 

the Fishery Management Plan for the Crustacean 

Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region, Amendment 7 to the Fishery 

Management Plan for the Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fisheries of 

the Western Pacific Region, and Amendment 5 to the Fishery Management 

Plan for the Precious Coral Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region.

    61. Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 

Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; Pelagic Longline Fishing 

Restrictions, Seasonal Area Closure, Limit on Swordfish Fishing Effort, 

Gear Restrictions, and Other Sea Turtle Take Mitigation Measures. RIN 

0648-AR84. (69 FR 17329, April 2, 2004). NMFS approved a regulatory 

amendment under the Fishery Management Plan for the Pelagic Fisheries 

of the Western Pacific Region submitted by the Western Pacific Fishery 

Management Council and issued this final rule to establish a number of 

conservation and management measures for the fisheries managed under 

the Fishery Management Plan. This final rule was intended to achieve 

certain objectives of the Fishery Management Plan, including achieving 

optimum yield for managed species while avoiding the likelihood of 

jeopardizing the continued existence of any species listed as 

endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This final 

rule eliminated a seasonal closure for longline fishing in an area 

south of the Hawaiian Islands and reopened the swordfish-directed 

component of the Hawaii-based longline fishery. In order to minimize 

adverse impacts on sea turtles, the swordfish component of the Hawaii-

based longline fishery was subjected to restrictions on the types of 

hooks and bait that may be used, annual fleet-wide limits on fishery 

interactions with leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, an annual 

fleet-wide limit on fishing effort, and other mitigation measures.

    62. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Incidental Catch 

Requirements of Bluefin Tuna. RIN 0648-AO75. (68 FR 32414, May 30, 

2003). NMFS amended regulations under the framework provisions of the 

Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks 

governing the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery as they affected landing of 

Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery. The 

intent of this action was to minimize dead discards of Atlantic bluefin 

tuna and improve management of the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery, 

while complying with the National Standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 

and allowing harvest consistent with recommendations of the 

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

    63. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quota 

Specification, General Category Effort Controls, and Permit Revisions. 

RIN 0648-AQ38. (68 FR 56783, October 2, 2003). NMFS announced the final 

initial 2003 fishing year specifications for the Atlantic bluefin tuna 

fishery to set Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas for each of the established 

fishing categories; to set General category effort controls; to 

allocate 25 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna to account for 

incidental catch of Atlantic bluefin tuna by pelagic longline vessels 

``in the vicinity of the management boundary area;'' to define the 

management boundary area and applicable restrictions; and to revise 

permit requirements to allow General registered recreational Highly 

Migratory Species (HMS) fishing tournaments and to allow permit 

applicants a 10-calendar-day period to make permit category changes to 

correct potential errors. The final initial quota specifications, 

including the quota allocation to account for incidental catch of 

Atlantic bluefin tuna by pelagic longline vessels in the vicinity of 

the management boundary area and the General category effort controls, 

were necessary to implement recommendations of the International 

Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, pursuant to the 

Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, and to achieve domestic management 

objectives under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The definition of the 

management boundary area was to assist management, monitoring, and 

enforcement of the 25 mt allocated to the Longline category. The permit 

revisions to allow General category permitted vessels to participate in 

registered recreational HMS fishing tournaments and to allow a time 

period for permit category changes were intended to relieve 

restrictions and help achieve domestic management objectives.

    64. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Shark Management 

Measures. RIN 0648-AQ95. (68 FR 74746, December 24, 2003). This final 

rule was necessary to ensure that shark regulations were based on the 

results of the 2002 stock assessments for large coastal sharks (LCS) 

and small coastal sharks (SCS). The results of these stock assessments 

indicated that the LCS complex continued to be overfished, and 

overfishing was occurring; that sandbar sharks were not overfished, but 

overfishing was occurring; that blacktip sharks were rebuilt and 

healthy; that the SCS complex was healthy; and that finetooth sharks 

were not overfished, but overfishing was occurring. Based on these 

results, NMFS revised the rebuilding timeframe for LCS to 26 years from 

2004; changed some of the commercial regulations; changed some of the 

recreational regulations; implemented measures to reduce bycatch and 

bycatch mortality, including a time/area closure; removed the 

deepwater/other sharks from the management unit; established criteria 

regarding adding or removing sharks from the prohibited species group; 

and established a display permit for fishermen who wish to harvest 

highly migratory species for public display. NMFS also updated 

essential fish habitat identifications for sandbar, blacktip, 

finetooth, dusky, and nurse sharks. NMFS also notified eligible 

participants of the opening and closing dates for the Atlantic large 

coastal, small coastal, and pelagic shark fishing seasons.

    65. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Bluefin Tuna Season and Size 

Limit Adjustments. RIN 0648-AR12. (68 FR 74504, December 24, 2003). 

Under the framework provisions of the Fishery Management Plan for 

Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks governing the Atlantic bluefin 

tuna fishery, NMFS amended the regulations regarding the opening date 

of the Purse seine category, closure dates of the Harpoon and General 

categories, and size tolerances of large-medium Atlantic bluefin tuna 

for the Purse seine and Harpoon categories. The intent of this final 

rule was to further achieve domestic management objectives under the 

HMS Fishery Management Plan and Magnuson-Stevens Act and to implement 

recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of 

Atlantic Tunas pursuant to the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act.

    66. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS); Pelagic Longline 

Fishery. RIN 0648-AR80. (69 FR 40734, July 6, 2004). This final rule 

implemented new sea turtle bycatch and bycatch mortality mitigation 

measures for all Atlantic vessels that have pelagic longline (PLL) gear 

onboard and that have been issued, or are required to have, Federal HMS 

limited access permits, consistent with the requirements of the 

Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other domestic 

laws. These measures included mandatory circle hook and bait 

requirements, and mandatory possession and use of sea turtle release 

equipment to reduce bycatch mortality. This final rule also allowed 

vessels with pelagic longline gear onboard that have been issued, or 

are required to have, Federal HMS limited access permits to fish in the Northeast Distant Closed Area, if 

they possess and/or use certain circle hooks and baits, sea turtle 

release equipment, and comply with specified sea turtle handling and 

release protocols.

    67. International Fisheries; Atlantic Highly Migratory Species. RIN 

0648-AQ37. (69 FR 67268, November 17, 2004). This final rule 

implemented international trade tracking recommendations of the 

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and the 

Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission for bluefin tuna, swordfish, 

and frozen bigeye tuna, regardless of ocean area of origin. Trade 

monitoring requirements for species covered under the recommendations 

and for southern bluefin tuna were established by this rule, including: 

A highly migratory species international trade permit; statistical 

documents and re-export certificates; and recordkeeping, reporting, and 

inspection requirements.

    68. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Commercial Shark 

Management Measures. RIN 0648-AS08. (69 FR 69537, November 30, 2004). 

This final rule adjusted the regional quotas and established new 

trimester season quotas for large coastal sharks and small coastal 

sharks based on updated landings information. This final rule included 

a framework mechanism for the annual adjustment of quotas, a method of 

accounting for over- or under harvests in the transition from semi-

annual to trimester seasons, and a new process for notifying 

participants of season opening and closing dates and quotas. This final 

rule also announced the opening and closing dates for the large coastal 

sharks fishery based on adjustments to the regional and trimester 

quotas. This action was necessary to ensure that the landings quotas in 

the Atlantic commercial shark fishery represent the latest landings 

data and accurately reflected historic fishing effort.

    69. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Trade Restrictive 

Measures. RIN 0648-AR10. (69 FR 70396, December 6, 2004). NMFS adjusted 

the regulations governing the trade of species regulated by the 

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) 

in the North and South Atlantic Ocean to implement recommendations 

adopted at the 2002 and 2003 meetings of ICCAT. This final rule lifted 

or implemented import prohibitions for bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna, and 

swordfish on Honduras, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Sierra 

Leone, Bolivia, and Georgia. This rule also prohibited imports from 

vessels on the ICCAT illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing list 

and from vessels that are not listed on ICCAT's record of vessels that 

are authorized to fish in the Convention Area. Additionally, this rule 

required issuance of a chartering permit before a vessel begins fishing 

under a chartering arrangement.

    70. Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act 

Provisions; Weakfish Fishery. RIN 0648-AR11. (68 FR 56789, October 2, 

2003). NMFS issued this final rule to increase the incidental catch 

allowance for weakfish caught in the exclusive economic zone from 150 

lb (67 kg) to no more than 300 lb (135 kg) per day or trip, whichever 

was longer in duration; to remove Connecticut from the list of states 

where commercially caught weakfish from the exclusive economic zone can 

be landed; and to add to NMFS' regulations the Director, Office of 

Sustainable Fisheries, as an official who can grant Exempted Fishing 

Permits. The intent of this final rule was to modify regulations for 

the Atlantic coast stock of weakfish to promote the effectiveness of 

the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Interstate Fishery 

Management Plan for weakfish.

    71. Fishing Capacity Reduction Program for the Crab Species Covered 

by the Fishery Management Plan for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King 

and Tanner Crabs. RIN 0648-AP25. (68 FR 69331, December 12, 2003). This 

final rule established a fishing capacity reduction program in the 

fishery for the crab species managed under the Bering Sea/Aleutian 

Islands King and Tanner Crabs Fishery Management Plan. The program 

reduced excess capacity and promoted economic efficiency in the crab 

fishery. It was authorized under both special legislation and existing 

NMFS regulations governing fishing capacity reduction programs. Its 

objectives included: Increasing harvesting productivity for crab 

fishermen who remain after capacity reduction, helping conserve and 

manage fishery resources, and encouraging harvesting effort 

rationalization. Program participation was voluntary. Under the 

program, NMFS paid participants for withdrawing vessels from fishing, 

relinquishing fishing licenses, and surrendering fishing histories. 

NMFS financed the program's $100 million cost with a 30-year loan to be 

repaid by post-reduction fishermen.

    72. Antartic Marine Living Resources; CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring 

Permits; Vessel Monitoring System; Catch Documentation Scheme; Fishing 

Season; Registered Agent; and Disposition of Seized AMLR. RIN 0648-

AP74. (68 FR 23224, May 1, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule to: 

Lengthen the duration of the permit required to enter a Commission for 

the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) 

Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) site from 1 year to up to 5 years; 

define the CCAMLR fishing season and require the use of an automated 

satellite-linked vessel monitoring system for U.S. vessels harvesting 

Antarctic marine living resources (AMLR) in the area of the Convention 

on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (Convention); 

require foreign entities to designate and maintain a registered agent 

within the United States; prohibit the import of Dissostichus species 

(toothfish) identified as originating from certain high seas areas 

outside the Convention Area; incorporate into the Code of Federal 

Regulations the prohibition on the import of toothfish issued a 

Specially Validated Dissostichus Catch Document; and institute a 

preapproval system for U.S. receivers and importers of Dissostichus 

eleginoides (Patagonian toothfish) and Dissostichus mawsoni (Antarctic 

toothfish). This final rule was intended to implement U.S. obligations 

as a Member of CCAMLR and to conserve Antarctic and Patagonian 

toothfish by preventing and discouraging unlawful harvest and trade in 

these species and streamlining the administration of the Dissostichus 

Catch Document scheme.

    73. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Sea Turtle Conservation 

Requirements. RIN 0648-AN62. (68 FR 8456, February 21, 2003). NMFS 

amended the turtle excluder device (TED) regulations to enhance their 

effectiveness in reducing sea turtle mortality resulting from trawling 

in the southeastern United States. NMFS determined that: Some 

previously approved TED designs did not adequately exclude leatherback 

turtles and large, immature and sexually mature loggerhead and green 

turtles; several approved TED designs were structurally weak and did 

not function properly under normal fishing conditions; and 

modifications to the trynet and bait shrimp exemptions to the TED 

requirements were necessary to decrease lethal take of sea turtles. 

These amendments were necessary to protect endangered and threatened 

sea turtles in the Atlantic Area (all waters of the Atlantic Ocean 

south of the North Carolina/Virginia border and adjacent seas, other 

than the Gulf Area, and all waters shoreward thereof) and Gulf Area 

(all waters of the Gulf of Mexico west of 

81[deg] W longitude and all waters shoreward thereof).

    74. Taking of Threatened or Endangered Species Incidental to 

Commercial Fishing Operations. RIN 0648-AQ13. (68 FR 69962, December 

16, 2003). NMFS issued a final rule prohibiting fishing with drift 

gillnets in the California/Oregon (CA/OR) thresher shark/swordfish 

drift gillnet fishery in U.S. waters off southern California in waters 

east of the 120[deg] W, for the months of June, July, and August, when 

the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries publishes a notice that El 

Nino conditions are forecasted or present off southern California. NMFS 

has determined that the incidental take of loggerhead sea turtles by 

this fishery correlates to the area and season being fished during 

these oceanographic conditions. The intent of this regulation was to 

reduce the take of loggerhead turtles by the fishery and reduce the 

likelihood of the CA/OR drift gillnet fishery jeopardizing the 

continued existence of the loggerhead turtle population.

    75. Taking of Threatened or Endangered Species Incidental to 

Commercial Fishing Operations. RIN 0648-AR53. (69 FR 11540, March 11, 

2004). NMFS issued a final rule to prohibit shallow longline sets of 

the type normally targeting swordfish on the high seas in the Pacific 

Ocean east of 150[deg] W longitude by vessels managed under the Fishery 

Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory 

Species (FMP). This action was intended to protect endangered and 

threatened sea turtles from the adverse impacts of shallow longline 

fishing by U.S. longline fishing vessels in the Pacific Ocean and 

operating out of the west coast. This rule supplemented the regulations 

that implemented the FMP that prohibit shallow longline sets on the 

high seas in the Pacific Ocean west of 150[deg] W longitude by vessels 

managed under that FMP. The FMP was partially approved by NMFS on 

February 4, 2004. Together, these two regulations were expected to 

conserve leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles as required under the 

Endangered Species Act.

    76. Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing 

Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations. RIN 

0648-AQ04. (68 FR 51195, August 26, 2003). NMFS issued this final rule 

to amend the regulations that implement the Atlantic Large Whale Take 

Reduction Plan to identify gear modifications that sufficiently reduce 

the risk of entanglement to western North Atlantic right whales under 

the dynamic area management program and, as such, allowed NMFS to 

utilize the option of allowing gear with certain modifications within a 

dynamic area management zone. Specifically, NMFS identified anchored 

gillnet and lobster trap/pot gear modifications that could be allowed 

within a dynamic area management zone. This final rule included a 

provision to correct and clarify the regulations implementing the 

seasonal area management program with respect to lobster trap gear in 

northern inshore state lobster waters and northern nearshore lobster 

waters that overlap with a seasonal area management area.

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