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Closure of Commercial Fishing for Porbeagle Sharks from December 17, 2014 and for the Entire 2015 Fishing Season

Posted: December 12, 2014
 

Commercial shark dealer reports indicate that the landings for the commercial porbeagle shark fishery have exceeded the available adjusted commercial quota.  Dealer reports recently received through December 10, 2014, indicate that 2.5 mt dw (5,586 lb dw) or 198 percent, of the available porbeagle shark quota has been landed.  Accordingly, because the available 2014 commercial quota has been exceeded, as described below, that makes 2015 commercial quota unavailable, NMFS is closing fishing for the commercial porbeagle shark quota as of 11:30 p.m. local time December 17, 2014 through 2015

NMFS previously established a January 1, 2015 season opening date for the commercial porbeagle shark quota in a December 2, 2014 final rule (79 FR 71331).  This notice supercedes that provision in the December 2 final rule, and commercial fishing for porbeagle sharks will remain closed until further notice. 

Also in the December 2, 2014 final rule, NMFS announced that the available 2015 commercial porbeagle shark quota was 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw).  As of December 10, 2014, the 2014 landings exceeded the 2014 commercial quota by 1.3 mt dw (5,586 - 2, 820 lb dw = 2,766 lb dw).  Accounting for this overharvest provides for a 2015 commercial quota of 0.4 mt dw (3,748 - 2,766 lb dw = 982 lb dw).  It would be difficult to  monitor such a small amount of quota and to timely assess when landings are projected to reach 80 percent of it in a way that allows NMFS to close fishing for the quota before overharvests would occur (i.e., when landings reach 0.3 mt dw or 786 lb dw; § 635.28(b)(1)).  Additionally, it is possible that additional porbeagle landings could be reported in 2014 before this closure becomes effective, making even less quota available for 2015.  Thus, quota effectively is not available for the 2015 fishing season.  Given the effect of the updated landings data on the availability of quota for 2015 and the regulatory closure provision that fishing for the commercial porbeagle shark quota remains closed, even across fishing years, until NMFS announces by Federal Register notice that additional quota is available and the season is reopened (§ 635.28(b)(1)), commercial fishing for porbeagle sharks will not re-open on January 1, 2015; it will remain closed unless NMFS issues a subsequent notice.  Table 1 from the December 2, 2014 final rule is amended accordingly to reflect updated landings and actions (no commercial fishing for porbeagle sharks and change in available quota) associated with this notice.

During the closure, retention of porbeagle sharks is prohibited for persons fishing aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit (LAP) under 50 CFR 635.4.  However, persons aboard a commercially-permitted vessel that is also properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip could fish under the recreational retention limits for sharks and “no sale” provisions (50 CFR 635.22(a) and (c)).  A shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may not purchase or receive porbeagle sharks from a vessel issued an Atlantic shark LAP, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess porbeagle sharks that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered, prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage.  Under this closure, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may, in accordance with state regulations, purchase or receive a porbeagle sharks if the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in state waters and that has not been issued an Atlantic Shark LAP, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4. 

This notice is a courtesy to the HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For further information on this landings update or the closure, contact Alexis Jackson or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503.

Table 1.  2015 Annual Quotas and Opening Dates for the Atlantic Shark Fisheries.  (All quotas and landings are dressed weight (dw), in metric tons (mt), unless specified otherwise.)

Region

Management Group

2014
Annual Quota
(A)

Preliminary
2014
Landings
1
(B)

Adjustments
(C)

2015
Base Annual
Quota
(D)

2015
Final Annual Quota
(D+C)

Season Opening
Dates

Gulf of Mexico

Blacktip Sharks

274.3 mt dw(604,626 lb dw)

202.3 mt dw(446,024 lb dw)

72.0 mt dw(158,602 lb dw)2

256.6 mt dw (565,700 lb dw)

328.6 mt dw
(724,302 lb dw)

January 1, 2015

Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks

151.2 mt dw (333,828 lb dw)

153.7 mt dw(338,923 lb dw)

- 1.0 mt dw
(2,337 lb dw)3

157.5 mt dw (347,317 lb dw)

156.5 mt dw 
(344,980 lb dw)

Hammerhead Sharks

25.3 mt dw (55,722 lb dw)

14.4 mt dw(31,733 lb dw)

-

25.3 mt dw 
(55,722 lb dw)

25.3 mt dw 
(55,722 lb dw)

Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks

68.3 mt dw(150,476 lb dw)

66.8 mt dw(147,366 lb dw)

-

45.5 mt dw
(100,317 lb dw)

45.5mt dw
(100,317 lb dw)

Blacknose Sharks

1.8 mt dw
(4,076 lb dw)

1.4 mt dw
(3,149 lb dw)

-0.2 mt dw
(-437 lb dw) 4

2.0 mt dw
(4,513 lb dw)

1.8 mt dw
(4,076 lb dw)

Atlantic

Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks

168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw)

101.6 mt dw(224,098 lb dw)

-

168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw)

168.9 mt dw 
(372,552 lb dw)

July 1, 2015

Hammerhead Sharks

27.1 mt dw (59,736  lb dw)

6.0 mt dw
(13,223 lb dw)

-

27.1 mt dw (59,736  lb dw)

27.1 mt dw 
(59,736  lb dw)

Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks

264.1 mt dw

(582,333 lb dw)

103.1 mt dw

(227,202 lb dw)

-

176.1 mt dw

(388,222 lb dw)

176.1 mt dw

(388,222 lb dw)

January 1, 2015

Blacknose Sharks

17.5 mt dw
(38,638 lb dw)

17.4 mt dw
(38,437 lb dw)

-0.5 mt dw
(-1,111 lb dw)4

18.0 mt dw 
(39,749 lb dw)

17.5 mt dw
(38,638 lb dw)

No

regional

quotas

Non-Sandbar LCS Research

50.0 mt dw(110,230 lb dw)

14.3 mt dw(31,543 lb dw)

-

50.0 mt dw
(110,230 lb dw)

50.0 mt dw
(110,230 lb dw)

January 1, 2015

Sandbar Shark Research

116.6 mt dw(257,056 lb dw)

37.5 mt dw(82,737 lb dw)

-

116.6 mt dw(257,056 lb dw)

116.6 mt dw
(257,056 lb dw)

Blue Sharks

273.0 mt dw(601,856 lb dw)

7.8 mt dw
(17,157 lb dw)

-

273.0 mt dw(601,856 lb dw)

273.0 mt dw
(601,856 lb dw)

Porbeagle Sharks

1.2 mt dw
(2,820 lb dw)

2.5 mt dw
(5,586 lb dw)

-1.3 mt dw
(-2,766 lb dw)

1.7 mt dw
(3,748 lb dw)

0.4 mt dw
(982 lb dw)

Closed 5

Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue

488 mt dw(1,075,856 lb dw)

126.7 mt dw(279,276 lb dw)

-

488.0 mt dw(1,075,856 lb dw)

488.0 mt dw(1,075,856 lb dw)

January 1, 2015

 

1 All landings except for the porbeagle shark landings are from January 1, 2014, through October 15, 2014, and are subject to change.  Porbeagle shark landings are from January 1, 2014, through December 10, 2014.

2 This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2014.  Therefore, the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark adjusted quota will be 328.6 mt dw for the 2015 fishing season.    

3 This adjustment accounts for overharvests from 2013 and 2014.  In the final rule establishing the 2014 quotas (78 FR 70500; November 26, 2013), the 2013 Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS quota was overharvested by 6.2 mt dw (13,489 lb dw).  After the final rule establishing the 2014 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the  quota was overharvested by an additional 0.1 mt dw (408 lb dw), for a total overharvest of 6.3 mt dw (13,897 lb dw).  Recently, NMFS determined that the 2014 final rule overestimated the overharvest from 2013 by 1.3 mt dw (2,758 lb dw).  In 2014, the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS quota was overharvested by 2.3 mt dw (5,095 lb dw).  Therefore, this final rule reduces the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS quota by 1.0 mt dw (2.3 mt dw overharvest in 2014 – 1.3 mt dw overestimated from 2013).  NMFS will adjust the 2015 base annual quota based on the updated overharvest estimates from 2013 and 2014. 

4 This adjustment accounts for overharvest in 2012.  After the final rule establishing the 2012 quotas published, late dealer reports indicated the blacknose shark quota was overharvested by 3.5 mt dw (7,742 lb dw).  In the final rule establishing the 2014 quotas, NMFS implemented a 5-year adjustment of the overharvest amount by the percentage of landings in 2012.  Thus, NMFS will reduce the Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark quota by 0.2 mt dw (437 lb dw) and the Atlantic blacknose shark quota by 0.5 mt dw (1,111 lb dw) each year from 2014 through 2018.  NMFS will reduce the 2015 base annual quota based on overharvest from 2012.  

5 This closure accounts for overharvest in 2014.  After the final rule establishing the 2015 quotas published, dealer reports indicated that the porbeagle quota was overharvested by 1.3 mt dw (2,766 lb dw).  Accounting for this large overharvest would result in a 2015 commercial quota of 0.4 mt dw (3,748 - 2,766 lb dw = 982 lb dw).  It would be difficult to  monitor such a small amount of quota and to timely assess when landings are projected to reach 80 percent of it in a way that allows NMFS to close the fishery before overharvests would occur (i.e., when landings reach 0.3 mt dw or 786 lb dw; § 635.28(b)(1)).       

 

 

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