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Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: Annual adjustment of Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas; 34-mt Quota Transfer from the Reserve Category to the Longline Category; Reminder of 2016 Quotas and Subquotas

January 4, 2016

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has adjusted the Atlantic bluefin tuna Purse Seine and Reserve category quotas for 2016, based on regulations implemented in the final rule for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014).  NMFS also has transferred inseason 34 metric tons (mt) of bluefin tuna quota from the Reserve category to the Longline category.  See the end of this notice for a table summarizing available quotas and subquotas for 2016.

Annual Adjustment of the Bluefin Tuna Purse Seine and Reserve Category Quotas:  In accordance with procedures adopted in Amendment 7, NMFS has determined the 2016 Purse Seine category quota available to Purse Seine fishery participants is 82.9 mt.  The amount of Purse Seine category quota reallocated to the Reserve category is 101.4 mt.  This reallocation would result in a 2016 Reserve category quota of 126.2 mt (24.8 mt + 101.4 mt).  However, NMFS also is transferring 34 mt from the Reserve category to the Longline category, described below, such that the 2016 Reserve category quota as adjusted by this action as a whole is 92.2 mt. 

Quota Transfer from the Reserve Category to the Longline Category: NMFS has transferred 34 mt of bluefin tuna quota from the 2016 Reserve category to the 2016 Longline category, resulting in an adjusted 2016 Longline quota of 182.3 mt.  This transfer is intended to increase the amount of quota available to pelagic longline vessels with Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) and therefore help vessel owners account for bluefin tuna landings and dead discards while fostering conditions in which permit holders become more willing to lease IBQ.  This transfer does not preclude future inseason quota transfers to any of the quota categories.

As a result of this quota transfer, 0.25 mt (551 lb) of Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) will be distributed to each of the 136 Longline category permit holders who received IBQ shares under Amendment 7.  IBQ allocation will be distributed by January 15, 2016, via the electronic IBQ system to the vessel accounts with eligible permits associated with a vessel.  For those permits that qualified for IBQ shares and are not associated with a vessel at the time of the quota transfer, the IBQ will not be usable by the permit holder (i.e., may not be leased or used to account for bluefin tuna) until the permit is associated with a vessel.  Further, the allocated IBQ will include the regional designation, either Gulf of Mexico (GOM) IBQ, Atlantic (ATL) IBQ, or both GOM and ATL IBQ, according to the eligible permit share’s regional designations (and totaling 0.25 mt). 

Specifically, NMFS has taken this action after considering the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, including optimizing fishing opportunity, accounting for dead discards, and the effects of the adjustment on the stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP.  This action should enhance the ability of vessel owners to account for bluefin tuna catch, reduce quota debt, facilitate quota leasing, and reduce uncertainty in the fishery.

Longline category permit holders are reminded that all bluefin tuna discarded dead must be reported through the Vessel Monitoring System, and accounted for in the on-line IBQ system. NMFS will continue to monitor the bluefin tuna fisheries, including the pelagic longline fishery, through the mandatory landings and catch reports. 

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

The following table summarizes the available quotas and subquotas for 2016 as of this action.

Quota Category

Quota for 2016 (mt)

Subquotas (mt), where relevant




January-March: 49*; June-August:  233.3; September: 123.7; October-November: 60.7; December: 0*





Purse Seine

82.9 (adjusted amount, based on criteria for individual participant allocations, reflecting reallocation of 101.4 mt of Purse Seine category quota to the Reserve category)



182.3 (not including 25-mt ICCAT set-aside for Northeast Distant Gear Restricted Area)







Subquotas:  School: 108.4 (Reserve: 20.1; North 41.7; South 46.6); Large School /Small Medium: 82.3 (North 38.9; South 43.5); Trophy: 4.5  (North 1.5; South 1.5; Gulf of Mexico: 1.5)



92.2 (adjusted amount, reflecting reallocation of 101.4 mt of Purse Seine category quota)



*2016 subquotas adjusted via inseason action on December 14, 2015 (80 FR 77264), reflecting transfer of 24.3 mt from the December 2016 subquota period to the January 2016 subquota period.

The above quotas are based upon the currently codified U.S. quota of 1,058.79 mt and the application of the Amendment 7 regulations.  The baseline (prior to adjustment) Purse Seine, Longline, and Reserve category quotas were 184.3 mt, 148.3 mt, and 24.8 mt respectively. 

NMFS anticipates that it will announce additional bluefin tuna quota adjustments during 2016.  For example, when complete 2015 bluefin tuna catch information is available and finalized, NMFS may augment the Reserve further by carrying forward underharvest, if any, from 2015, consistent with ICCAT limits.  Subsequent notices will be published in the Federal Register.  In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access, for updates. 

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