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NOAA Fisheries Announces a Final Rule to Adjust Individual Bluefin Tuna Quota (IBQ) Program Regulations for Distribution of Inseason Quota Transfers

Posted December 28, 2016

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) modifies the Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) regulations regarding the distribution of inseason Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota transfers to the Longline category. 

Specifically, this final rule modifies the regulations to specify that the distribution of BFT quota that NMFS transfers inseason  may be either to qualified IBQ share recipients (i.e., share recipients who have associated their permit with a vessel), or to permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessels with recent fishing activity as determined by logbook, vessel monitoring system (VMS), or electronic monitoring data from the subject and previous year indicating fishing activity with pelagic longline gear (e.g., for inseason transfers in 2017, NMFS would examine fishing activity data for 2016 and 2017 to determine if there was fishing activity during that period).    

This action does not affect the annual IBQ allocation distributed at the beginning of each year to the qualified IBQ share recipients.   

Since implementation of Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan began on January 1, 2015, NMFS has received requests (among other suggestions about the IBQ Program and management of the pelagic longline fishery) to distribute quota inseason only to those vessels that are currently fishing to optimize fishing opportunity and account for dead discards.  Providing quota inseason (through distribution of quota transferred from the Reserve category to the Longline category) to vessels with recent fishing activity includes some permitted vessels that are not associated with IBQ shares.  Such vessels may include new entrants to the fishery.  This final rule provides the ability for NMFS to distribute BFT quota inseason either to all qualified IBQ share recipients or to permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessels with recent fishing activity.

This notice is a courtesy to fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.  For further information, contact Thomas Warren or Sarah McLaughlin at (978) 281-9260, or Carrie Soltanoff at (301) 427-8503.  This information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms.

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