On November 26, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in response to several shark stock assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. As described in the proposed rule, NMFS is proposing measures that would reduce fishing mortality and effort in order to rebuild overfished Atlantic shark species while ensuring that a limited sustainable shark fishery can be maintained consistent with our legal obligations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP as amended. The proposed measures include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of sharks. Comments received by NMFS will be considered in the development and finalization of Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. This notice announces the rescheduling of the Louisiana public hearing and the addition of two public hearings in Maryland and Texas.
Written comments will be accepted until February 12, 2013. Public hearings, conference calls, and an HMS Advisory Panel meeting for the Amendment 5 proposed rule will be held from December 2012 to February 2013. See below for meeting dates, times, and locations.
ADDRESSES: Additional and rescheduled public hearings will be held in Maryland, Texas, and Louisiana. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times, and locations.
You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0161, by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0161, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Cooper, SF1/NMFS/NOAA, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on the Draft Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.''
Fax: 301-713-1917; Attn: Peter Cooper.
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 generally will 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
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Cooper, Gu[yacute] DuBeck,
Jennifer Cudney or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed
under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Management of these species is
described in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, which
are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. Copies of the 2006
Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments are available from NMFS on request
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
On November 26, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule (77 FR 70552)
for draft Amendment 5 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP based on several
shark stock assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. The
assessments for Atlantic blacknose, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead
sharks indicated that these species are overfished and experiencing
overfishing. As described in the proposed rule, NMFS is proposing
measures that would reduce fishing mortality and effort in order to
rebuild overfished Atlantic shark species while ensuring that a limited
sustainable shark fishery can be maintained consistent with our legal
obligations and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP. The proposed measures
include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation
of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area
closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and
the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of
sharks. Any comments received during the comment period will be
considered in the development and finalization of Amendment 5 to the
2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.
Request for Comments
Public hearings in Florida (2), Louisiana, Massachusetts, New
Jersey, and North Carolina were recently announced in the Federal
Register to provide the opportunity for public comment on the measures
described in the proposed rule and draft Amendment 5 (77 FR 73608;
December 11, 2012). NMFS will also hold two public conference calls/
webinars to provide individuals opportunities to submit public comment
if they are unable to attend a public hearing. NMFS has rescheduled the
public hearing in Louisiana due to a previously scheduled event in the
New Orleans area, which may affect constituent traveling to the public
hearing location. Also, NMFS announces two additional public hearings
that will be held in Maryland and Texas. The Maryland public hearing
will be held in conjunction with a state stakeholder meeting being held
by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Draft Amendment 5.
Table 1--Dates, Times and Locations of Upcoming Additional and Rescheduled Public Hearings.
Venue Date/time Meeting locations information
Public Hearing..................... January 15, 2013...... Belle Chasse, LA...... Belle Chasse Auditorium,
5 p.m.-8 p.m.......... 8398 Hwy 23, Belle Chasse,
Public Hearing..................... January 30, 2013...... Ocean Pines, MD....... Ocean Pines Branch,
5 p.m.-8 p.m.......... Worcester County Library,
11107 Cathell Road, Ocean
Pines, MD 21811, (410) 208-
Public Hearing..................... February 7, 2013...... Houston, TX........... Clear Lake City-County
5 p.m.-8 p.m.......... Freeman Branch Library,
16616 Diana Lane, Houston,
Texas 77062, 281-488-1906
NMFS welcomes comments on any aspect of, or alternative considered,
in the proposed rule. NMFS is specifically seeking comments on the
administration of dusky shark bycatch caps program in select areas
given limited additional observer program resources; the name of
reconfigured groupings of sharks that would continue to be managed
collectively in the reminder of what is currently the large coastal
shark complex for quota monitoring purposes; suggestions for improving
angler identification of shark species and reducing dusky shark
mortality in the recreational fishery; and whether NMFS should permit
the transit of closed areas if certain otherwise prohibited gear is
properly stowed and inoperable.
Public Hearing Code of Conduct
The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public
hearings and on phone conferences to conduct themselves appropriately.
At the beginning of each meeting, a representative of NMFS will explain
the ground rules (e.g., alcohol is prohibited from the meeting room;
attendees will be called to give their comments in the order in which
they registered to speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of
time to speak; attendees may not interrupt one another; etc.). The NMFS
representative will structure the meeting so that all attending members
of the public will be able to comment, if they choose, regardless of
the controversial nature of the subject(s). Attendees are expected to
respect the ground rules, and those that do not will be asked to leave