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NOAA Fisheries Transfers 40 mt from the Reserve Category to the Harpoon Category for 2015

Posted: August 3, 2015

Actions being taken and important dates

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) adjusts the Harpoon category Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota by transferring 40 mt from the Reserve category.  With this transfer, the adjusted Harpoon category quota is 73.4 mt for the 2015 fishing season (i.e., through November 15, 2015, or until the Harpoon category quota is reached, whichever comes first). 

NMFS takes this action after considering the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include, among other things, available quota, fishery performance in recent years, the anticipated availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, the effects of the adjustment on the BFT stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan and its amendments.  This adjustment is intended to provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help achieve optimum yield in the BFT fishery; and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

As of July 28, 2015, the Harpoon category has landed 33.1 mt.  Without a quota transfer at this time, Harpoon category participants would have to stop BFT fishing activities with very short notice (i.e., 3 days after the date of filing of a closure notice with the Office of the Federal Register), while commercial-sized BFT remain available in the areas Harpoon category permitted vessels operate.  NMFS anticipates that the Harpoon category could harvest the transferred 40 mt prior to the end of the Harpoon category season, subject to weather conditions and BFT availability. 

The 2015 Reserve quota is currently 74.8 mt as a result of various actions to date.  NMFS has considered the fact that it has published a proposed BFT quota rule that would implement and give domestic effect to the 2014 ICCAT recommendation on western Atlantic BFT management, which increased the U.S. BFT quota for 2015 and 2016 by 14 percent from the 2014 level (80 FR 33467, June 12, 2015).  The domestic subquotas to be proposed in that action would result from application of the allocation process established in Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP to the increased U.S. quota, and would include an increase in the Harpoon category quota from the currently codified 33.4 mt to 38.6 mt.  Although the proposed rule would increase the baseline Harpoon category quota by 5.2 mt, NMFS is transferring 40 mt at this time regardless of the proposed quota increase. 

Who is affected?

This action applies only to Atlantic tunas Harpoon category (commercial) permitted vessels.

NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely.  General, HMS Charter/Headboat, Harpoon, and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov.  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, NMFS may determine that additional adjustment or closure is necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

This notice is a courtesy to HMS fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For additional information, call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

 

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