Swordfish Regulatory Changes

NMFS proposes regulatory changes to the adjusted quotas and minimum sizes that would affect commercial and recreational vessels that catch Atlantic swordfish.

North and South Atlantic swordfish are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA, which authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to implement ICCAT recommendations. The authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA). On October 2, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register final regulations, effective November 1, 2006, implementing the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which details management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries. 

ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. ICCAT recommendations are binding on Contracting Parties, non-Contracting Cooperating Parties, Entities and Fishing Entities (CPCs), unless Parties object pursuant to the treaty. All ICCAT recommendations are available on the ICCAT Web site at http://www.iccat.int/en/. In November 2011, ICCAT adopted Recommendation 11-02 for North Atlantic swordfish. This recommendation maintains the U.S. baseline quota of 2,937.6 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) for 2012 and 2013. Previous North Atlantic swordfish recommendations included a quota transfer of 18.8 mt dw from the United States to Canada; however, Recommendation 11-02 eliminates this quota transfer and includes a transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the United States to Morocco to support joint scientific research and Morocco's efforts to eliminate the use of driftnets. Recommendation 11-02 also includes a provision for the submission of annual swordfish management plans and a change to the underharvest carryover provisions. The recommendation limits the amount of underharvested quota that can be carried over by a CPC allocated a baseline quota greater than 500 mt to 25 percent of the baseline quota. 

Environmental Protection Advisory Panel

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a meeting of its Habitat and Environmental Protection (Habitat) Advisory Panel (AP) to provide input on measures in Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3 and other habitat related topics. 

DATES: The Habitat AP meeting will be held May 15, 2012, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held via webinar. The webinar is open to members of the public. Persons interested in participating in the webinar should contact Mike Collins via email at mike.collins@safmc.net or by calling the Council office at (843) 571-4366 or toll free (866) SAFMC-10. Information will also be available from the Council's Web site at www.safmc.net.

MRIP to Meet with Constituents

MRIP is conducting a Road Show this spring and summer to meet with constituents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The meetings provide anglers and other stakeholders the opportunity to pose questions, share their ideas and concerns, and learn the latest MRIP news.

The Communications and Education Team began its Road Show with a series of listening sessions, both formal and informal, with recreational fishermen in New Jersey at the beginning of April. We traveled up and down the state's coastline to meet with tackle shop owners, fishing groups, recreational fishing advocates, members of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Marine Fisheries Division, and everyday anglers from all walks of life.

Recreational Yellowfin Tuna Data for Future Quotas

At its 2011 meeting, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) actively considered country-specific yellowfin tuna allocations as well as the potential landings histories that could be the basis for those allocations. While the final recommendation did not establish any country-specific allocations, some members of the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel and the public have expressed an interest in discussing historical and future data collection in the U.S. recreational yellowfin tuna fishery, in case this issue comes up at the 2012 ICCAT meeting. 

To participate in this conference call 

Stock Assessment Schedule

This federal register notice announces a webinar meeting to establish the Stock assessment schedule for 2014-18 and a rule that reduces the current Greater Amberjack commercial sector quota of 1,169,931 lb, gutted weight, to 769,388 lb, gutted weight.

The SEDAR Steering Committee will meet on Friday, May 18, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna; HMS Amendment

ACTION: Notice of intent (NOI) to hold public scoping meetings and to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS); request for comments.

SUMMARY: NMFS announces its intent to hold public scoping meetings to determine the scope and significance of issues to be analyzed in a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on management measures for Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) and a potential proposed amendment to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP based on that process. The public process will help NMFS determine if existing measures are the best means of achieving certain management objectives for Atlantic BFT and providing flexibility for future management, consistent with the Consolidated HMS FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and other relevant Federal laws. NMFS is also announcing the availability of a scoping document describing measures for potential inclusion in a proposed Amendment. Table 1, below, provides details for seven scoping meetings to discuss and collect comments on the scoping document and certain management objectives for BFT. NMFS is requesting comments on this NOI, and the management of BFT, including, but not limited to, those described in the scoping document.

Advisory Panel Seats Currently Open to Applicants


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently soliciting applications for available seats on its advisory panels. Advisory panel members provide information and guidance in the development and implementation of federal fishery management plans. Members are appointed from the recreational and commercial sectors, seafood dealers and processors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientists, and concerned citizens.

Applications are now being considered for the following advisory panels: Coral; Dolphin Wahoo; Golden Crab; Habitat & Environmental Protection; King & Spanish Mackerel; Law Enforcement; Deepwater Shrimp; Shrimp; and the SEDAR Pool.

Applications must be received by MAY 1, 2012.

Application forms and a copy of the news release regarding the open seats are available at: www.safmc.net 


NOAA Wants To Expand Bottlenose Dolphin Surveys

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

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before June 18, 2012.

Change to Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Retention Limit

NMFS has determined that the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limit that applies to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) should be adjusted for the remainder of 2012, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and based on preliminary 2012 landings data. NMFS also closes the southern area Angling category fishery for large medium and giant (``trophy'') BFT. These actions are being taken consistent with the BFT fishery management objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (Consolidated HMS FMP) and to prevent overharvest of the 2012 Angling category quota.

DATES: Effective April 7, 2012, through December 31, 2012.

Council Seeks Input on MPA Use for Species Protection

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold two public workshops in April and May to solicit information regarding the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) to help protect speckled hind and Warsaw grouper, two species currently listed as undergoing overfishing. The first workshop will be held April 18, 2012 in North Charleston, SC and the second on May 16, 2012 in Pooler, GA. Three additional workshops will be scheduled for North Carolina and Florida later this year.

MPA Public Workshops - 6:00 PM
April 18, 2012 May 16, 2012
Hilton Garden Inn Mighty 8th Air Force Museum
5265 International Blvd. 175 Bourne Avenue
North Charleston, SC 29418 Pooler, GA 31322
(843) 308-9330 (912) 748-8888

The workshops are designed to give the public the opportunity to provide data on locations of speckled hind and Warsaw grouper and important habitat for the two species. The Council will consider input from the first two public workshops during its June 11-15, 2012 meeting in Orlando, Florida. The Council will also accept written comments until 12:00 noon on May 21, 2012.
Read More about the workshops.