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Title 50Chapter VIPart 635 → Subpart C


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 635—ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES


Subpart C—Management Measures


Contents
§635.19   Authorized gears.
§635.20   Size limits.
§635.21   Gear operation and deployment restrictions.
§635.22   Recreational retention limits.
§635.23   Retention limits for bluefin tuna.
§635.24   Commercial retention limits for sharks, swordfish, and BAYS tunas.
§635.25   Fishing areas.
§635.26   Catch and release.
§635.27   Quotas.
§635.28   Fishery closures.
§635.29   Transfer at sea and transshipment.
§635.30   Possession at sea and landing.
§635.31   Restrictions on sale and purchase.
§635.32   Specifically authorized activities.
§635.33   Archival tags.
§635.34   Adjustment of management measures.

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§635.19   Authorized gears.

(a) General. No person may fish for, catch, possess, or retain any Atlantic HMS with gears other than the primary gears specifically authorized in this part. Consistent with §635.21(a), secondary gears may be used at boat side to aid and assist in subduing, or bringing on board a vessel, Atlantic HMS that have first been caught or captured using primary gears. For purposes of this part, secondary gears include, but are not limited to, dart harpoons, gaffs, flying gaffs, tail ropes, etc. Secondary gears may not be used to capture, or attempt to capture, free-swimming or undersized HMS. Except for vessels permitted under §635.4(o) or as specified in this section, a vessel using or having onboard in the Atlantic Ocean any unauthorized gear may not possess an Atlantic HMS on board.

(b) Atlantic tunas. A person that fishes for, retains, or possesses an Atlantic bluefin tuna may not have on board a vessel or use on board a vessel any primary gear other than those authorized for the category for which the Atlantic tunas or HMS permit has been issued for such vessel. Primary gears are the gears specifically authorized in this section. When fishing for Atlantic tunas other than bluefin tuna, primary gear authorized for any Atlantic Tunas permit category may be used, except that purse seine gear may be used only on board vessels permitted in the Purse Seine category and pelagic longline gear may be used only on board vessels issued an Atlantic Tunas Longline category tuna permit, a LAP other than handgear for swordfish, and a LAP for sharks. A person issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit who fishes for, retains, or possesses BAYS tunas in the U.S. Caribbean, as defined at §622.2 of this chapter, may have on board and use handline, harpoon, rod and reel, bandit gear, green-stick gear, and buoy gear.

(1) Angling. Speargun (for BAYS tunas only), and rod and reel (including downriggers) and handline (for all tunas).

(2) Charter/headboat. Rod and reel (including downriggers), bandit gear, handline, and green-stick gear are authorized for all recreational and commercial Atlantic tuna fisheries. Speargun is authorized for recreational Atlantic BAYS tuna fisheries only.

(3) General. Rod and reel (including downriggers), handline, harpoon, bandit gear, and green-stick.

(4) Harpoon. Harpoon.

(5) Longline. Longline and green-stick.

(6) Purse seine. Purse seine.

(7) Trap. Pound net and fish weir.

(c) Billfish. (1) Only persons who have been issued a valid HMS Angling or valid Charter/Headboat permit, or who have been issued a valid Atlantic Tunas General category or Swordfish General Commercial permit and are participating in a tournament as provided in §635.4(c), may possess a blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish in, or take a blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish from, its management unit. Blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish may only be harvested by rod and reel.

(2) Only persons who have been issued a valid HMS Angling or valid Charter/Headboat permit, or who have been issued a valid Atlantic Tunas General category or Swordfish General Commercial permit and are participating in a tournament as provided in §635.4(c), may possess or take a sailfish shoreward of the outer boundary of the Atlantic EEZ. Sailfish may only be harvested by rod and reel.

(d) Sharks. (1) No person may possess a shark without a permit issued under §635.4.

(2) No person issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under §635.4 may possess a shark taken by any gear other than rod and reel, handline, bandit gear, longline, or gillnet, except that smoothhound sharks may be retained incidentally while fishing with trawl gear subject to the restrictions specified in §635.24(a)(7).

(3) No person issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit may possess a shark taken from the U.S. Caribbean, as defined at §622.2 of this chapter, by any gear other than with rod and reel, handline or bandit gear.

(4) Persons on a vessel issued a permit with a shark endorsement under §635.4 may possess a shark only if the shark was taken by rod and reel or handline, except that persons on a vessel issued both an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement (with or without a shark endorsement) and a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit may possess sharks taken by rod and reel, handline, bandit gear, longline, or gillnet if the vessel is engaged in a non for-hire fishing trip and the commercial shark fishery is open pursuant to §635.28(b).

(e) Swordfish. (1) No person may possess north Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit by any gear other than handgear, green-stick, or longline, except that such swordfish taken incidentally while fishing with a squid trawl may be retained by a vessel issued a valid Incidental HMS squid trawl permit, subject to restrictions specified in §635.24(b)(2). No person may possess south Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit by any gear other than longline.

(2) An Atlantic swordfish may not be retained or possessed on board a vessel with a gillnet. A swordfish will be deemed to have been harvested by gillnet when it is onboard, or offloaded from, a vessel fishing with or having on board a gillnet.

(3) A person aboard a vessel issued or required to be issued a valid directed handgear LAP for Atlantic swordfish or an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit may not fish for swordfish with any gear other than handgear. A swordfish will be deemed to have been harvested by longline when the fish is on board or offloaded from a vessel fishing with or having on board longline gear. Only vessels that have been issued a valid directed or handgear swordfish LAP or an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit under this part may utilize or possess buoy gear.

(4) Except for persons aboard a vessel that has been issued a directed, incidental, or handgear swordfish LAP, a Swordfish General Commercial permit, an Incidental HMS squid trawl permit, or an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit under §635.4, no person may fish for North Atlantic swordfish with, or possess a North Atlantic swordfish taken by, any gear other than handline or rod and reel.

(5) A person aboard a vessel issued or required to be issued a valid Swordfish General Commercial permit may only possess North Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit by rod and reel, handline, bandit gear, green-stick, or harpoon gear.

[79 FR 71594, Dec. 2, 2014, as amended at 80 FR 73144, Nov. 24, 2015; 82 FR 16506, Apr. 4, 2017; 82 FR 57549, Dec. 6, 2017; 83 FR 33154, July 17, 2018]

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§635.20   Size limits.

(a) General. The CFL will be the sole criterion for determining the size and/or size class of whole (head on) Atlantic tunas.

(b) BFT size classes. If the head of a BFT is no longer attached, the size class of the BFT shall be determined using pectoral fin curved fork length (PFCFL) multiplied by a conversion factor of 1.35. The CFL, as determined by conversion of the PFCFL, will be the sole criterion for determining the size class of a beheaded BFT. The conversion factor may be adjusted after consideration of additional scientific information and fish measurement data, and will be made effective by filing notification of the adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication.

(c) BFT, bigeye tuna, and yellowfin tuna. (1) No person shall take, retain, or possess a BFT, bigeye tuna, or yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean that is less than 27 inches (69 cm) CFL;

(2) Applying the conversion factor from PFCFL to CFL for a beheaded BFT in §635.20(b) means that no person shall retain or possess a BFT, with the head removed, that is less than 20 inches (51 cm) PFCFL.

(3) No person aboard a vessel shall remove the head of a bigeye tuna or yellowfin tuna if the remaining portion would be less than 27 inches (69 cm) from the fork of the tail to the forward edge of the cut. A bigeye or yellowfin tuna that is damaged through predation by sharks or other marine species may be retained, possessed, or landed only if the length of the remainder of the fish is equal to or greater than 27 inches (69 cm). No person shall cut or otherwise alter the predation-damaged area in any manner.

(d) Billfish. (1) No person shall take, retain or possess a blue marlin taken from its management unit that is less than 99 inches (251 cm), LJFL.

(2) No person shall take, retain or possess a white marlin taken from its management unit that is less than 66 inches (168 cm), LJFL.

(3) No person shall take, retain or possess shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ a sailfish taken from its management unit that is less than 63 inches (160 cm), LJFL.

(4) No person shall take, retain or possess a roundscale spearfish taken from its management unit that is less than 66 inches (168 cm), LJFL.

(5) The Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish minimum size limits, specified in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2) of this section, may be adjusted to sizes between 117 and 138 inches (297.2 and 350.5 cm) for blue marlin and 70 and 79 inches (177.8 and 200.7 cm) for white marlin and roundscale spearfish, to achieve, but not exceed, the annual Atlantic marlin landing limit specified in §635.27(d). Minimum size limit increases will be based upon a review of landings, the period of time remaining in the current fishing year, current and historical landing trends, and any other relevant factors. NMFS will adjust the minimum size limits specified in this section by filing an adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. In no case shall the adjustments be effective less than 14 calendar days after the date of publication. The adjusted minimum size limits will remain in effect through the end of the applicable fishing year or until otherwise adjusted.

(e) Sharks. The following size limits change depending on the species being caught and the retention limit under which they are being caught as specified under §635.22(c).

(1) All sharks landed under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c) must have the head, tail, and fins naturally attached.

(2) All sharks, except as otherwise specified in paragraphs (e)(3) through (6) of this section, landed under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c)(2) must be at least 54 inches (137 cm) FL.

(3) There is no size limit for Atlantic sharpnose or bonnethead sharks taken under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c)(3).

(4) All hammerhead sharks landed under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c)(2) must be at least 78 inches (198.1 cm) FL.

(5) There is no size limit for smoothhound sharks taken under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c)(6).

(6) For North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks landed under the recreational retention limits specified at §635.22(c)(2), males must be at least 71 inches (180 cm) fork length, and females must be at least 83 inches (210 cm) fork length.

(f) Swordfish. (1) For a swordfish that has its head naturally attached, the LJFL is the sole criterion for determining the size of a swordfish. No person shall take, retain, possess, or land a whole (head on) North or South Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit that is not equal to or greater than 47 inches (119 cm) LJFL. A swordfish with the head naturally attached that is damaged by shark bites may be retained only if the length of the remainder of the fish is equal to or greater than 47 inches (119 cm) LJFL.

(2) If the head of a swordfish is no longer naturally attached, the CK measurement is the sole criterion for determining the size of a swordfish. No person shall take, retain, possess, or land a dressed North or South Atlantic swordfish taken from its management unit that is not equal to or greater than 25 inches (63 cm) CK length. A swordfish that is damaged by shark bites may be retained only if the length of the remainder of the carcass is equal to or greater than 25 inches (63 cm) CK length.

(3) No person shall import into the United States an Atlantic swordfish weighing less than 33 lb (15 kg) dressed weight, or a part derived from a swordfish that weighs less than 33 lb (15 kg) dressed weight.

(4) Except for a swordfish landed in a Pacific state and remaining in that Pacific state of landing, a swordfish, or part thereof, not meeting the minimum size measurements specified in §635.20(f)(1) or (2) will be deemed to be an Atlantic swordfish harvested by a vessel of the United States and to be in violation of the minimum size requirement of this section unless such swordfish, or part thereof, is accompanied by a swordfish statistical document attesting that the swordfish was lawfully imported. Refer to §300.186 of this title for the requirements related to the swordfish statistical document.

(5) A swordfish, or part thereof, will be monitored for compliance with the minimum size requirement of this section from the time it is landed in, or imported into, the United States up to, and including, the point of first transaction in the United States.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 64 FR 37704, July 13, 1999; 66 FR 42804, Aug. 15, 2001; 68 FR 714, Jan. 7, 2003; 68 FR 74785, Dec. 24, 2003; 69 FR 67284, Nov. 17, 2004; 71 FR 58167, Oct. 2, 2006; 74 FR 66587, Dec. 19, 2009; 75 FR 30525, June 1, 2010; 75 FR 57701, Sept. 22, 2010; 76 FR 70066, Nov. 10, 2011; 77 FR 45280, July 31, 2012; 78 FR 40346, July 3, 2013; 80 FR 73145, Nov. 24, 2015; 83 FR 33154, July 17, 2018; 83 FR 51397, Oct. 11, 2018; 84 FR 5376, Feb. 21, 2019]

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§635.21   Gear operation and deployment restrictions.

(a) All Atlantic HMS fishing gears. (1) An Atlantic HMS harvested from its management unit that is not retained must be released in a manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival, but without removing the fish from the water.

(2) If a billfish is caught by a hook and not retained, the fish must be released by cutting the line near the hook or by using a dehooking device, in either case without removing the fish from the water.

(3) Restricted gear and closed areas for all Atlantic HMS fishing gears. (i) No person may fish for, catch, possess, or retain any Atlantic HMS or anchor a fishing vessel that has been issued a permit or is required to be permitted under this part, in the areas and seasons designated at §622.34(a)(3) of this chapter, and in the Tortugas marine reserves HAPC designated at §622.74(c) of this chapter.

(ii) From November through April of each year, no vessel issued, or required to be issued, a permit under this part may fish or deploy any type of fishing gear in the Madison-Swanson closed area or the Steamboat Lumps closed area, as defined in §635.2.

(iii) From May through October of each year, no vessel issued, or required to be issued, a permit under this part may fish or deploy any type of fishing gear in the Madison-Swanson or the Steamboat Lumps closed areas except for surface trolling. For the purposes of this section, surface trolling is defined as fishing with lines trailing behind a vessel which is in constant motion at speeds in excess of four knots with a visible wake. Such trolling may not involve the use of down riggers, wire lines, planers, or similar devices.

(iv) From January through April of each year, no vessel issued, or required to be issued, a permit under this part may fish or deploy any type of fishing gear in the Edges 40 Fathom Contour closed area, as defined in §635.2.

(4) Any person on board a vessel that is issued a commercial shark permit must release all shortfin mako sharks, whether alive or dead, caught with any gear other than pelagic longline, bottom longline, or gillnet gear, except that any person on board a vessel that is issued a commercial shark permit in combination with a permit that has a shark endorsement may retain shortfin mako sharks subject to the recreational minimum size limits in §635.20, the recreational retention limits in §635.22, and authorized gear requirements in §635.19.

(b) Longline—general restrictions. (1) All vessels that have pelagic or bottom longline gear onboard and that have been issued, or are required to have, a swordfish, shark, or Atlantic Tunas Longline category LAP for use in the Atlantic Ocean including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico must possess inside the wheelhouse the document provided by NMFS entitled “Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury,” and must also post inside the wheelhouse the sea turtle handling and release guidelines provided by NMFS.

(2) Transiting and gear stowage: If a vessel issued or required to be issued a LAP under this part has pelagic or bottom longline gear onboard and is in a closed or gear restricted area as designated in paragraph (c)(2) of this section or a monitoring area designated in paragraph (c)(3) of this section that has been closed, it is a rebuttable presumption that any fish on board such a vessel were taken with pelagic or bottom longline gear in the area except where such possession is aboard a vessel transiting such an area with all fishing gear stowed appropriately. Longline gear is stowed appropriately if all gangions and hooks are disconnected from the mainline and are stowed on or below deck, hooks are not baited, and all buoys and weights are disconnected from the mainline and drum (buoys may remain on deck).

(3) When a marine mammal or sea turtle is hooked or entangled by pelagic or bottom longline gear, the operator of the vessel must immediately release the animal, retrieve the pelagic or bottom longline gear, and move at least 1 nm (2 km) from the location of the incident before resuming fishing. Similarly, when a smalltooth sawfish is hooked or entangled by bottom longline gear, the operator of the vessel must immediately release the animal, retrieve the bottom longline gear, and move at least 1 nm (2 km) from the location of the incident before resuming fishing. Reports of marine mammal entanglements must be submitted to NMFS consistent with regulations in §229.6 of this title.

(4) Vessels that have pelagic or bottom longline gear on board and that have been issued, or are required to have been issued, a permit under this part must have only corrodible hooks on board.

(c) Pelagic longlines. (1) If a vessel issued or required to be issued a permit under this part:

(i) Has bottom longline gear on board and is in a closed or gear restricted area designated under paragraph (c)(2) of this section or is in a monitoring area designated under paragraph (c)(3) of this section that has been closed, the vessel may not, at any time, possess or land any pelagic species listed in table 2 of appendix A to this part in excess of 5 percent, by weight, of the total weight of pelagic and demersal species possessed or landed, that are listed in tables 2 and 3 of appendix A to this part.

(ii) Has pelagic longline gear on board, persons aboard that vessel may not possess, retain, transship, land, sell, or store silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, or scalloped, smooth, or great hammerhead sharks.

(iii) Has pelagic longline gear on board, persons aboard that vessel are required to release unharmed, to the extent practicable, porbeagle sharks that are alive at the time of haulback.

(iv) Has pelagic longline gear on board, persons aboard that vessel are required to promptly release in a manner that causes the least harm any shortfin mako shark that is alive at the time of haulback. Any shortfin mako shark that is dead at the time of haulback may be retained provided the electronic monitoring system is installed and functioning in compliance with the requirements at §635.9.

(2) If pelagic longline gear is on board a vessel issued or required to be issued a LAP under this part, persons aboard that vessel may not fish or deploy any type of fishing gear:

(i) In the Charleston Bump closed area from February 1 through April 30 each calendar year;

(ii) In the East Florida Coast closed area at any time;

(iii) In the Desoto Canyon closed area at any time;

(iv) In the Northeast Distant gear restricted area at any time, unless persons onboard the vessel complies with the following:

(A) The vessel is limited to possessing onboard and/or using only 18/0 or larger circle hooks with an offset not to exceed 10 degrees. The outer diameter of the circle hook at its widest point must be no smaller than 2.16 inches (55 mm) when measured with the eye on the hook on the vertical axis (y-axis) and perpendicular to the horizontal axis (x-axis), and the distance between the circle hook point and the shank (i.e., the gap) must be no larger than 1.13 inches (28.8 mm). The allowable offset is measured from the barbed end of the hook and is relative to the parallel plane of the eyed-end, or shank, of the hook when laid on its side. The only allowable offset circle hooks are those that are offset by the hook manufacturer. If green-stick gear, as defined at §635.2, is onboard, a vessel may possess up to 20 J-hooks. J-hooks may be used only with green-stick gear, and no more than 10 hooks may be used at one time with each green-stick gear. J-hooks used with green-stick gear may be no smaller than 1.5 inch (38.1 mm) when measured in a straight line over the longest distance from the eye to any other part of the hook; and,

(B) The vessel is limited, at all times, to possessing onboard and/or using only whole Atlantic mackerel and/or squid bait, except that artificial bait may be possessed and used only with green-stick gear, as defined at §635.2, if green-stick gear is onboard; and,

(C) Vessels must possess, inside the wheelhouse, a document provided by NMFS entitled, “Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury,” and must post, inside the wheelhouse, sea turtle handling and release guidelines provided by NMFS; and,

(D) Required sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, which NMFS has approved under paragraph (c)(5)(iv) of this section, on the initial list of “NMFS-Approved Models For Equipment Needed For The Careful Release of Sea Turtles Caught In Hook And Line Fisheries,” must be carried onboard, and must be used in accordance with the handling requirements specified in paragraphs (c)(2)(iv)(E) through (G) of this section; and,

(E) Sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section, must be used to disengage any hooked or entangled sea turtles that cannot be brought on board, and to facilitate access, safe handling, disentanglement, and hook removal or hook cutting from sea turtles that can be brought on board, where feasible. Sea turtles must be handled, and bycatch mitigation gear must be used, in accordance with the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(C) of this section, and in accordance with the onboard handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) of this title.

(F) Boated turtles: When practicable, active and comatose sea turtles must be brought on board, with a minimum of injury, using a dipnet approved on the initial list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section. All turtles less than 3 ft. (.91 m) carapace length should be boated, if sea conditions permit. A boated turtle should be placed on a standard automobile tire, or cushioned surface, in an upright orientation to immobilize it and facilitate gear removal. Then, it should be determined if the hook can be removed without causing further injury. All externally embedded hooks should be removed, unless hook removal would result in further injury to the turtle. No attempt to remove a hook should be made if the hook has been swallowed and the insertion point is not visible, or if it is determined that removal would result in further injury. If a hook cannot be removed, as much line as possible should be removed from the turtle using approved monofilament line cutters from the initial list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section, and the hook should be cut as close as possible to the insertion point, using bolt cutters from that list, before releasing the turtle. If a hook can be removed, an effective technique may be to cut off either the barb, or the eye, of the hook using bolt cutters, and then to slide the hook out. When the hook is visible in the front of the mouth, an approved mouth-opener from the initial list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section may facilitate opening the turtle's mouth, and an approved gag from that list may facilitate keeping the mouth open. Short-handled dehookers for ingested hooks, long-nose pliers, or needle-nose pliers from the initial list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section should be used to remove visible hooks that have not been swallowed from the mouth of boated turtles, as appropriate. As much gear as possible must be removed from the turtle without causing further injury prior to its release. Refer to the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines required in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(C) of this section, and the handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) of this title, for additional information.

(G) Non-boated turtles: If a sea turtle is too large, or hooked in a manner that precludes safe boating without causing further damage or injury to the turtle, sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section, must be used to disentangle sea turtles from fishing gear and disengage any hooks, or to clip the line and remove as much line as possible from a hook that cannot be removed, prior to releasing the turtle, in accordance with the protocols specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(C) of this section. Non-boated turtles should be brought close to the boat and provided with time to calm down. Then, it must be determined whether or not the hook can be removed without causing further injury. A front flipper or flippers of the turtle must be secured, if possible, with an approved turtle control device from the list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section. All externally embedded hooks must be removed, unless hook removal would result in further injury to the turtle. No attempt should be made to remove a hook if it has been swallowed, or if it is determined that removal would result in further injury. If the hook cannot be removed and/or if the animal is entangled, as much line as possible must be removed prior to release, using an approved line cutter from the list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section. If the hook can be removed, it must be removed using a long-handled dehooker from the initial list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section. Without causing further injury, as much gear as possible must be removed from the turtle prior to its release. Refer to the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines required in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(C) of this section, and the handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) of this title, for additional information.

(3) From April 2, 2020 to December 31, 2022, a vessel issued or required to be issued a LAP under this part may fish with pelagic longline gear in the Northeastern United States Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area during the month of June or in the Spring Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area during the months of April and May until the annual IBQ allocation threshold for the monitoring area has been reached or is projected to be reached. The annual IBQ allocation threshold is 150,519 lb for the Northeastern United States Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area, and 63,150 lb for the Spring Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Monitoring Area. If between April 2, 2020 and December 31, 2022, the U.S. allocation of ICCAT bluefin tuna quota codified at §635.27(a) is reduced, and the BFT Longline category quota established at §635.26 (a)(3) is subsequently reduced, the annual IBQ allocation thresholds for each monitoring area will be modified as follows: The Gulf of Mexico threshold will be 55 percent of the Gulf of Mexico regional designation as defined at §635.15 (b)(2) and 72 percent of the Atlantic regional designation as defined at §635.15 (b)(2). When the relevant threshold is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a closure for that monitoring area, which will be effective no fewer than five days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure forward, vessels issued or required to be issued a LAP under this part and that have pelagic longline gear on board are prohibited from deploying pelagic longline gear within the boundaries of the relevant monitoring area during the months specified for that area in this paragraph above. After December 31, 2022, if no closure of a particular monitoring area has been implemented under the provisions of this paragraph, vessels with pelagic longline gear on board may continue to deploy pelagic longline gear in that area; if a closure has been issued for a particular monitoring area under the provisions of this paragraph, vessels with pelagic longline gear on board will continue to be prohibited from deploying pelagic longline gear in that area.

(4) In the Gulf of Mexico, pelagic longline gear may not be fished or deployed from a vessel issued or required to have been issued a LAP under this part with live bait affixed to the hooks; and, a person aboard a vessel issued or required to have been issued a LAP under this part that has pelagic longline gear on board may not possess live baitfish, maintain live baitfish in any tank or well on board the vessel, or set up or attach an aeration or water circulation device in or to any such tank or well. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).

(5) The operator of a vessel permitted or required to be permitted under this part and that has pelagic longline gear on board must undertake the following sea turtle bycatch mitigation measures:

(i) Possession and use of required mitigation gear. Required sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, which NMFS has approved under paragraph (c)(5)(iv) of this section as meeting the minimum design standards specified in paragraphs (c)(5)(i)(A) through (M) of this section, must be carried onboard, and must be used to disengage any hooked or entangled sea turtles in accordance with the handling requirements specified in paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section.

(A) Long-handled line clipper or cutter. Line cutters are intended to cut high test monofilament line as close as possible to the hook, and assist in removing line from entangled sea turtles to minimize any remaining gear upon release. NMFS has established minimum design standards for the line cutters, which may be purchased or fabricated from readily available and low-cost materials. The LaForce line cutter and the Arceneaux line clipper are models that meet these minimum design standards. One long-handled line clipper or cutter meeting the minimum design standards, and a set of replacement blades, are required to be onboard. The minimum design standards for line cutters are as follows:

(1) A protected and secured cutting blade. The cutting blade(s) must be capable of cutting 2.0-2.1 mm (0.078 in.-0.083 in.) monofilament line (400-lb test) or polypropylene multistrand material, known as braided or tarred mainline, and must be maintained in working order. The cutting blade must be curved, recessed, contained in a holder, or otherwise designed to facilitate its safe use so that direct contact between the cutting surface and the sea turtle or the user is prevented. The cutting instrument must be securely attached to an extended reach handle and be easily replaceable. One extra set of replacement blades meeting these standards must also be carried on board to replace all cutting surfaces on the line cutter or clipper.

(2) An extended reach handle. The line cutter blade(s) must be securely fastened to an extended reach handle or pole with a minimum length equal to, or greater than, 150 percent of the height of the vessel's freeboard, or 6 feet (1.83 m), whichever is greater. It is recommended, but not required, that the handle break down into sections. There is no restriction on the type of material used to construct this handle as long as it is sturdy and facilitates the secure attachment of the cutting blade.

(B) Long-handled dehooker for ingested hooks. A long-handled dehooking device is intended to remove ingested hooks from sea turtles that cannot be boated. It should also be used to engage a loose hook when a turtle is entangled but not hooked, and line is being removed. The design must shield the barb of the hook and prevent it from re-engaging during the removal process. One long-handled device, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard to remove ingested hooks. The minimum design standards are as follows:

(1) Hook removal device. The hook removal device must be constructed of 5/16-inch (7.94 mm) 316 L stainless steel and have a dehooking end no larger than 1-7/8-inches (4.76 cm) outside diameter. The device must securely engage and control the leader while shielding the barb to prevent the hook from re-engaging during removal. It may not have any unprotected terminal points (including blunt ones), as these could cause injury to the esophagus during hook removal. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish and tuna.

(2) Extended reach handle. The dehooking end must be securely fastened to an extended reach handle or pole with a minimum length equal to or greater than 150 percent of the height of the vessel's freeboard, or 6 ft. (1.83 m), whichever is greater. It is recommended, but not required, that the handle break down into sections. The handle must be sturdy and strong enough to facilitate the secure attachment of the hook removal device.

(C) Long-handled dehooker for external hooks. A long-handled dehooker, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard for use on externally-hooked sea turtles that cannot be boated. The long-handled dehooker for ingested hooks described in paragraph (c)(5)(i)(B) of this section would meet this requirement. The minimum design standards are as follows:

(1) Construction. A long-handled dehooker must be constructed of 5/16-inch (7.94 mm) 316 L stainless steel rod. A 5-inch (12.7-cm) tube T-handle of 1-inch (2.54 cm) outside diameter is recommended, but not required. The design should be such that a fish hook can be rotated out, without pulling it out at an angle. The dehooking end must be blunt with all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish and tuna.

(2) Extended reach handle. The handle must be a minimum length equal to the height of the vessel's freeboard or 6 ft. (1.83 m), whichever is greater.

(D) Long-handled device to pull an “inverted V.” This tool is used to pull a “V” in the fishing line when implementing the “inverted V” dehooking technique, as described in the document entitled “Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release With Minimal Injury,” required under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, for disentangling and dehooking entangled sea turtles. One long-handled device to pull an “inverted V”, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard. If a 6-ft (1.83 m) J-style dehooker is used to comply with paragraph (c)(5)(i)(C) of this section, it will also satisfy this requirement. Minimum design standards are as follows:

(1) Hook end. This device, such as a standard boat hook or gaff, must be constructed of stainless steel or aluminum. A sharp point, such as on a gaff hook, is to be used only for holding the monofilament fishing line and should never contact the sea turtle.

(2) Extended reach handle. The handle must have a minimum length equal to the height of the vessel's freeboard, or 6 ft. (1.83 m), whichever is greater. The handle must be sturdy and strong enough to facilitate the secure attachment of the gaff hook.

(E) Dipnet. One dipnet, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard. Dipnets are to be used to facilitate safe handling of sea turtles by allowing them to be brought onboard for fishing gear removal, without causing further injury to the animal. Turtles must not be brought onboard without the use of a dipnet. The minimum design standards for dipnets are as follows:

(1) Size of dipnet. The dipnet must have a sturdy net hoop of at least 31 inches (78.74 cm) inside diameter and a bag depth of at least 38 inches (96.52 cm) to accommodate turtles below 3 ft. (0.914 m) carapace length. The bag mesh openings may not exceed 3 inches (7.62 cm). There must be no sharp edges or burrs on the hoop, or where the hoop is attached to the handle.

(2) Extended reach handle. The dipnet hoop must be securely fastened to an extended reach handle or pole with a minimum length equal to, or greater than, 150 percent of the height of the vessel's freeboard, or at least 6 ft (1.83 m), whichever is greater. The handle must made of a rigid material strong enough to facilitate the sturdy attachment of the net hoop and able to support a minimum of 100 lbs (34.1 kg) without breaking or significant bending or distortion. It is recommended, but not required, that the extended reach handle break down into sections.

(F) Tire. A minimum of one tire is required onboard for supporting a turtle in an upright orientation while it is onboard, although an assortment of sizes is recommended to accommodate a range of turtle sizes. The required tire must be a standard passenger vehicle tire, and must be free of exposed steel belts.

(G) Short-handled dehooker for ingested hooks. One short-handled device, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard for removing ingested hooks. This dehooker is designed to remove ingested hooks from boated sea turtles. It can also be used on external hooks or hooks in the front of the mouth. Minimum design standards are as follows:

(1) Hook removal device. The hook removal device must be constructed of 14 -inch (6.35 mm) 316 L stainless steel, and must allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process. It must be no larger than 1516 inch (3.33 cm) outside diameter. It may not have any unprotected terminal points (including blunt ones), as this could cause injury to the esophagus during hook removal. A sliding PVC bite block must be used to protect the beak and facilitate hook removal if the turtle bites down on the dehooking device. The bite block should be constructed of a 34 -inch (1.91 cm) inside diameter high impact plastic cylinder (e.g., Schedule 80 PVC) that is 10 inches (25.4 cm) long to allow for 5 inches (12.7 cm) of slide along the shaft. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish and tuna.

(2) Handle length. The handle should be approximately 16-24 inches (40.64 cm-60.69 cm) in length, with approximately a 5-inch (12.7 cm) long tube T-handle of approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter.

(H) external hooks. One short-handled dehooker for external hooks, meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard. The short-handled dehooker for ingested hooks required to comply with paragraph (c)(5)(i)(G) of this section will also satisfy this requirement. Minimum design standards are as follows:

(1) Hook removal device. The dehooker must be constructed of 516 -inch (7.94 cm) 316 L stainless steel, and the design must be such that a hook can be rotated out without pulling it out at an angle. The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish and tuna.

(2) Handle length. The handle should be approximately 16-24 inches (40.64 cm-60.69 cm) long with approximately a 5-inch (12.7 cm) long tube T-handle of approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter.

(I) Long-nose or needle-nose pliers. One pair of long-nose or needle-nose pliers, meeting the minimum design standards, is required on board. Required long-nose or needle-nose pliers can be used to remove deeply embedded hooks from the turtle's flesh that must be twisted during removal. They can also hold PVC splice couplings, when used as mouth openers, in place. To meet the minimum design standards such pliers must generally be approximately 12 inches (30.48 cm) in length, and should be constructed of stainless steel material.

(J) Bolt cutters. One pair of bolt cutters, meeting the minimum design standards, is required on board. Required bolt cutters may be used to cut hooks to facilitate their removal. They should be used to cut off the eye or barb of a hook, so that it can safely be pushed through a sea turtle without causing further injury. They should also be used to cut off as much of the hook as possible, when the remainder of the hook cannot be removed. To meet the minimum design standards such bolt cutters must generally be approximately 17 inches (43.18 cm) in total length, with 4-inch (10.16 cm) long blades that are 214 inches (5.72 cm) wide, when closed, and with 13-inch (33.02 cm) long handles. Required bolt cutters must be able to cut hard metals, such as stainless or carbon steel hooks, up to 14 -inch (6.35 mm) diameter.

(K) Monofilament line cutters. One pair of monofilament line cutters is required on board. Required monofilament line cutters must be used to remove fishing line as close to the eye of the hook as possible, if the hook is swallowed or cannot be removed. To meet the minimum design standards such monofilament line cutters must generally be approximately 712 inches (19.05 cm) in length. The blades must be 1 in (4.45 cm) in length and 58 -in (1.59 cm) wide, when closed, and are recommended to be coated with Teflon (a trademark owned by E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company Corp.).

(L) Mouth openers/mouth gags. Required mouth openers and mouth gags are used to open sea turtle mouths, and to keep them open when removing ingested hooks from boated turtles. They must allow access to the hook or line without causing further injury to the turtle. Design standards are included in the item descriptions. At least two of the seven different types of mouth openers/gags described below are required:

(1) A block of hard wood. Placed in the corner of the jaw, a block of hard wood may be used to gag open a turtle's mouth. A smooth block of hard wood of a type that does not splinter (e.g. maple) with rounded edges should be sanded smooth, if necessary, and soaked in water to soften the wood. The dimensions should be approximately 11 inches (27.94 cm) 1 inch (2.54 cm) 1 inch (2.54 cm). A long-handled, wire shoe brush with a wooden handle, and with the wires removed, is an inexpensive, effective and practical mouth-opening device that meets these requirements.

(2) A set of three canine mouth gags. Canine mouth gags are highly recommended to hold a turtle's mouth open, because the gag locks into an open position to allow for hands-free operation after it is in place. A set of canine mouth gags must include one of each of the following sizes: small (5 inches) (12.7 cm), medium (6 inches) (15.24 cm), and large (7 inches) (17.78 cm). They must be constructed of stainless steel. A 1-inch (4.45 cm) piece of vinyl tubing ( 34 -inch (1.91 cm) outside diameter and 58 -inch (1.59 cm) inside diameter) must be placed over the ends to protect the turtle's beak.

(3) A set of two sturdy dog chew bones. Placed in the corner of a turtle's jaw, canine chew bones are used to gag open a sea turtle's mouth. Required canine chews must be constructed of durable nylon, zylene resin, or thermoplastic polymer, and strong enough to withstand biting without splintering. To accommodate a variety of turtle beak sizes, a set must include one large (512 -8 inches (13.97 cm-20.32 cm) in length), and one small (312 -412 inches (8.89 cm-11.43 cm) in length) canine chew bones.

(4) A set of two rope loops covered with hose. A set of two rope loops covered with a piece of hose can be used as a mouth opener, and to keep a turtle's mouth open during hook and/or line removal. A required set consists of two 3-foot (0.91 m) lengths of poly braid rope ( 38 -inch (9.52 mm) diameter suggested), each covered with an 8-inch (20.32 cm) section of 12 -inch (1.27 cm) or 34 -inch (1.91 cm) light-duty garden hose, and each tied into a loop. The upper loop of rope covered with hose is secured on the upper beak to give control with one hand, and the second piece of rope covered with hose is secured on the lower beak to give control with the user's foot.

(5) A hank of rope. Placed in the corner of a turtle's jaw, a hank of rope can be used to gag open a sea turtle's mouth. A 6-foot (1.83 m) lanyard of approximately 316 -inch (4.76 mm) braided nylon rope may be folded to create a hank, or looped bundle, of rope. Any size soft-braided nylon rope is allowed, however it must create a hank of approximately 2-4 inches (5.08 cm-10.16 cm) in thickness.

(6) A set of four PVC splice couplings. PVC splice couplings can be positioned inside a turtle's mouth to allow access to the back of the mouth for hook and line removal. They are to be held in place with the needle-nose pliers. To ensure proper fit and access, a required set must consist of the following Schedule 40 PVC splice coupling sizes: 1 inch (2.54 cm), 114 inch (3.18 cm), 112 inch (3.81 cm), and 2 inches (5.08 cm).

(7) A large avian oral speculum. A large avian oral speculum provides the ability to hold a turtle's mouth open and to control the head with one hand, while removing a hook with the other hand. The avian oral speculum must be 9-inches (22.86 cm) long, and constructed of 316 -inch (4.76 mm) wire diameter surgical stainless steel (Type 304). It must be covered with 8 inches (20.32 cm) of clear vinyl tubing ( 516 -inch (7.9 mm) outside diameter, 316 -inch (4.76 mm) inside diameter).

(M) Turtle control devices. One turtle control device, as described in paragraph (c)(5)(i)(M)(1) or (2) of this section, and meeting the minimum design standards, is required onboard and must be used to secure a front flipper of the sea turtle so that the animal can be controlled at the side of the vessel. It is strongly recommended that a pair of turtle control devices be used to secure both front flippers when crew size and conditions allow. Minimum design standards consist of:

(1) Turtle tether and extended reach handle. Approximately 15-20 feet of 12 -inch hard lay negative buoyance line is used to make an approximately 30-inch loop to slip over the flipper. The line is fed through a 34 -inch fair lead, eyelet, or eyebolt at the working end of a pole and through a 34 -inch eyelet or eyebolt in the midsection. A 12 -inch quick release cleat holds the line in place near the end of the pole. A final 34 -inch eyelet or eyebolt should be positioned approximately 7-inches behind the cleat to secure the line, while allowing a safe working distance to avoid injury when releasing the line from the cleat. The line must be securely fastened to an extended reach handle or pole with a minimum length equal to, or greater than, 150 percent of the height of the vessel's freeboard, or a minimum of 6 feet (1.83 m), whichever is greater. There is no restriction on the type of material used to construct this handle, as long as it is sturdy. The handle must include a tag line to attach the tether to the vessel to prevent the turtle from breaking away with the tether still attached.

(2) T&G ninja sticks and extended reach handles. Approximately 30-35 feet of 12 -inch to 58 -inch soft lay polypropylene or nylon line or similar is fed through 2 PVC conduit, fiberglass, or similar sturdy poles and knotted using an overhand (recommended) knot at the end of both poles or otherwise secured. There should be approximately 18-24 inches of exposed rope between the poles to be used as a working surface to capture and secure the flipper. Knot the line at the ends of both poles to prevent line slippage if they are not otherwise secured. The remaining line is used to tether the apparatus to the boat unless an additional tag line is used. Two lengths of sunlight resistant 34 -inch schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit, fiberglass, aluminum, or similar material should be used to construct the apparatus with a minimum length equal to, or greater than, 150 percent of the height of the vessel's freeboard, or 6 feet (1.83 m), whichever is greater.

(ii) Handling and release requirements. (A) Sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, as required by paragraphs (c)(5)(i)(A) through (D) of this section, must be used to disengage any hooked or entangled sea turtles that cannot be brought onboard. Sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, as required by paragraphs (c)(5)(i)(E) through (M) of this section, must be used to facilitate access, safe handling, disentanglement, and hook removal or hook cutting of sea turtles that can be brought onboard, where feasible. Sea turtles must be handled, and bycatch mitigation gear must be used, in accordance with the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, and in accordance with the onboard handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) of this title.

(B) Boated turtles. When practicable, active and comatose sea turtles must be brought on board, with a minimum of injury, using a dipnet as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i)(E) of this section. All turtles less than 3 ft. (.91 m) carapace length should be boated, if sea conditions permit.

(1) A boated turtle should be placed on a standard automobile tire, or cushioned surface, in an upright orientation to immobilize it and facilitate gear removal. Then, it should be determined if the hook can be removed without causing further injury.

(2) All externally embedded hooks should be removed, unless hook removal would result in further injury to the turtle. No attempt to remove a hook should be made if it has been swallowed and the insertion point is not visible, or if it is determined that removal would result in further injury.

(3) If a hook cannot be removed, as much line as possible should be removed from the turtle using monofilament cutters as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section, and the hook should be cut as close as possible to the insertion point before releasing the turtle, using boltcutters as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section.

(4) If a hook can be removed, an effective technique may be to cut off either the barb, or the eye, of the hook using bolt cutters, and then to slide the hook out. When the hook is visible in the front of the mouth, a mouth-opener, as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section, may facilitate opening the turtle's mouth and a gag may facilitate keeping the mouth open. Short-handled dehookers for ingested hooks, long-nose pliers, or needle-nose pliers, as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section, should be used to remove visible hooks from the mouth that have not been swallowed on boated turtles, as appropriate.

(5) As much gear as possible must be removed from the turtle without causing further injury prior to its release. Refer to the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines required in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, and the handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) of this title, for additional information.

(C) Non-boated turtles. If a sea turtle is too large, or hooked in a manner that precludes safe boating without causing further damage or injury to the turtle, sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear required by paragraphs (c)(5)(i)(A) through (D) of this section must be used to disentangle sea turtles from fishing gear and disengage any hooks, or to clip the line and remove as much line as possible from a hook that cannot be removed, prior to releasing the turtle, in accordance with the protocols specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(1) Non-boated turtles should be brought close to the boat and provided with time to calm down. Then, it must be determined whether or not the hook can be removed without causing further injury. A front flipper or flippers of the turtle must be secured with an approved turtle control device from the list specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv)(D) of this section.

(2) All externally embedded hooks must be removed, unless hook removal would result in further injury to the turtle. No attempt should be made to remove a hook if it has been swallowed, or if it is determined that removal would result in further injury. If the hook cannot be removed and/or if the animal is entangled, as much line as possible must be removed prior to release, using a line cutter as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section. If the hook can be removed, it must be removed using a long-handled dehooker as required by paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section.

(3) Without causing further injury, as much gear as possible must be removed from the turtle prior to its release. Refer to the careful release protocols and handling/release guidelines required in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, and the handling and resuscitation requirements specified in §223.206(d)(1) for additional information.

(iii) Gear modifications. The following measures are required of vessel operators to reduce the incidental capture and mortality of sea turtles:

(A) Gangion length. The length of any gangion on vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board and that have been issued, or are required to have, a swordfish, shark, or Atlantic Tunas Longline category LAP for use in the Atlantic Ocean including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico must be at least 10 percent longer than any floatline length if the total length of any gangion plus the total length of any floatline is less than 100 meters.

(B) Bait. Vessels fishing outside of the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, as defined at §635.2, that have pelagic longline gear on board, and that have been issued or are required to be issued a LAP under this part, are limited, at all times, to possessing on board and/or using only whole finfish and/or squid bait except that if green-stick gear is also on board, artificial bait may be possessed, but may be used only with green-stick gear.

(C) Hook size and type. Vessels fishing outside of the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, as defined at §635.2, that have pelagic longline gear on board, and that have been issued or are required to be issued a LAP under this part are limited, at all times, to possessing on board and/or using only 16/0 or larger non-offset circle hooks or 18/0 or larger circle hooks with an offset not to exceed 10°. These hooks must meet the criteria listed in paragraphs (c)(5)(iii)(C)(1) through (3) of this section. A limited exception for the possession and use of J hooks when green-stick gear is on board is described in paragraph (c)(5)(iii)(C)(4) of this section.

(1) For the 18/0 or larger circle hooks with an offset not to exceed 10°, the outer diameter of an 18/0 circle hook at its widest point must be no smaller than 2.16 inches (55 mm), when measured with the eye of the hook on the vertical axis (y-axis) and perpendicular to the horizontal axis (x-axis). The distance between the hook point and the shank (i.e., the gap) on an 18/0 circle hook must be no larger than 1.13 inches (28.8 mm). The allowable offset is measured from the barbed end of the hook, and is relative to the parallel plane of the eyed-end, or shank, of the hook when laid on its side. The only allowable offset circle hooks are those that are offset by the hook manufacturer.

(2) For the 16/0 or larger non-offset circle hooks, the outer diameter of a 16/0 circle hook at its widest point must be no smaller than 1.74 inches (44.3 mm), when measured with the eye of the hook on the vertical axis (y-axis) and perpendicular to the horizontal axis (x-axis). The distance between the hook point and the shank (i.e., the gap) on a 16/0 circle hook must be no larger than 1.01 inches (25.8 mm).

(3) Between the months of January through June of any given calendar year in the Gulf of Mexico, all circle hooks must also be constructed of corrodible round wire stock that is no larger than 3.65 mm in diameter. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).

(4) If green-stick gear, as defined at §635.2, is also on board, a vessel that has pelagic longline gear on board, may possess up to 20 J-hooks. J-hooks may be used only with green-stick gear, and no more than 10 hooks may be used at one time with each green-stick gear. J-hooks used with green-stick gear may be no smaller than 1.5 inch (38.1 mm) when measured in a straight line over the longest distance from the eye to any other part of the hook.

(iv) Approval of sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication an initial list of required sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear that NMFS has approved as meeting the minimum design standards specified under paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section. Other devices proposed for use, such as line clippers or cutters or dehookers, as specified under paragraphs (c)(5)(i)(A) through (C), (G), and (H) through (K) of this section, must be approved as meeting the minimum design standards before being used. NMFS will examine new devices, as they become available, to determine if they meet the minimum design standards, and will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any new devices that are approved as meeting the standards.

(6) The owner or operator of a vessel permitted or required to be permitted under this part and that has pelagic longline gear on board must undertake the following shark bycatch mitigation measures:

(i) Handling and release requirements. As safely as practicable, any hooked or entangled sharks that are not being retained must be released using dehookers or line clippers or cutters. If using a line clipper or cutter, the gangion must be cut so that less than three feet (91.4 cm) of line remains attached to the hook.

(ii) Fleet communication and relocation protocol. The owner or operator of any vessel that catches a dusky shark must, as quickly as practicable, broadcast the location of the dusky shark interaction over the radio to other fishing vessels in the surrounding area. Subsequent fishing sets by that vessel on that trip must be at least 1 nmi from the reported location of the dusky shark catch. Vessel owners and operators are encouraged to move the vessel further away than 1 nmi if conditions (e.g., water temperature, depth, tide, etc.) indicate that moving a greater distance is warranted to avoid additional dusky shark interactions.

(d) Bottom longlines. (1) If bottom longline gear is onboard a vessel issued a permit under this part, persons aboard that vessel may not fish or deploy any type of fishing gear in the following areas:

(i) The mid-Atlantic shark closed area from January 1 through July 31 each calendar year;

(ii) The areas designated at §622.435(a)(2)(i) through (iii) of this chapter, year-round; and

(iii) The areas described in paragraphs (d)(1)(iii)(A) through (H) of this section, year-round.

(A) Snowy Grouper Wreck. Bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 33°25 N. lat., 77°04.75 W. long.; 33°34.75 N. lat., 76°51.3 W. long.; 33°25.5 N. lat., 76°46.5 W. long.; 33°15.75 N. lat., 77°00.0 W. long.; 33°25 N. lat., 77°04.75 W. long.

(B) Northern South Carolina. Bounded on the north by 32°53.5 N. lat.; on the south by 32°48.5 N. lat.; on the east by 78°04.75 W. long.; and on the west by 78°16.75 W. long.

(C) Edisto. Bounded on the north by 32°24 N. lat.; on the south by 32°18.5 N. lat.; on the east by 78°54.0 W. long.; and on the west by 79°06.0 W. long.

(D) Charleston Deep Artificial Reef. Bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 32°9.65 N lat., 79°9.2 W long.; 32°7.155 N lat., 79°5.595 W long.; 32°2.36 N lat., 79°9.975 W long.; 32°5.04 N lat., 79°13.575 W long.

(E) Georgia. Bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 31°43 N. lat., 79°31 W. long.; 31°43 N. lat., 79°21 W. long.; 31°34 N. lat., 79°29 W. long.; 31°34 N. lat., 79°39 W. long; 31°43 N. lat., 79°31 W. long.

(F) North Florida. Bounded on the north by 30°29 N. lat.; on the south by 30°19 N. lat.; on the east by 80°02 W. long.; and on the west by 80°14 W. long.

(G) St. Lucie Hump. Bounded on the north by 27°08 N. lat.; on the south by 27°04 N. lat.; on the east by 79°58 W. long.; and on the west by 80°00 W. long.

(H) East Hump. Bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 24°36.5 N. lat., 80°45.5 W. long.; 24°32 N. lat., 80°36 W. long; 24°27.5 N. lat., 80°38.5 W. long; 24°32.5 N. lat., 80°48 W. long.; 24°36.5 N. lat., 80°45.5 W. long.

(2) The operator of a vessel required to be permitted under this part and that has bottom longline gear on board must undertake the following bycatch mitigation measures:

(i) Possession and use of required mitigation gear. The equipment listed in paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section must be carried on board and must be used to handle, release, and disentangle hooked or entangled sea turtles, prohibited sharks, or smalltooth sawfish in accordance with requirements specified in paragraph (d)(2)(ii) of this section.

(ii) Handling and release requirements. Sea turtle bycatch mitigation gear, as required by paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, must be used to disengage any hooked or entangled sea turtle as stated in paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section. This mitigation gear should also be employed to disengage any hooked or entangled species of prohibited sharks as listed under heading D, Prohibited Sharks, of Table 1 of appendix A to this part, any hooked or entangled species of sharks that exceed the retention limits as specified in §635.24(a), and any hooked or entangled smalltooth sawfish. In addition, if a smalltooth sawfish is caught, the fish should be kept in the water while maintaining water flow over the gills and the fish should be examined for research tags. All smalltooth sawfish must be released in a manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival, but without removing the fish from the water or any research tags from the fish.

(iii) Fleet communication and relocation protocol. The owner or operator of any vessel that catches a dusky shark must, as quickly as practicable, broadcast the location of the dusky shark interaction over the radio to other fishing vessels in the surrounding area. Subsequent fishing sets by that vessel on that trip must be at least 1 nmi from the reported location of the dusky shark catch. Vessel owners and operators are encouraged to move the vessel further away than 1 nmi if conditions (e.g., water temperature, depth, tide, etc.) indicate that moving a greater distance is warranted to avoid additional dusky shark interactions.

(3) If a vessel issued or required to be issued a permit under this part is in a closed area designated under paragraph (d)(1) of this section and has pelagic longline gear onboard, the vessel may not, at any time, possess or land any demersal species listed in Table 3 of Appendix A to this part in excess of 5 percent, by weight, of the total weight of pelagic and demersal species possessed or landed, that are listed in Tables 2 and 3 of Appendix A to this part.

(4) Vessels that have bottom longline gear on board and that have been issued, or are required to have been issued, a directed shark limited access permit under §635.4(e) must have only circle hooks as defined at §635.2 on board.

(5) If a vessel issued or required to be issued a permit under this part has bottom longline gear on board persons aboard that vessel are required to promptly release in a manner that causes the least harm, any shortfin mako shark that is alive at the time of haulback.

(e) Purse seine—(1) Mesh size. A purse seine used in directed fishing for bluefin tuna must have a mesh size equal to or smaller than 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) in the main body (stretched when wet) and must have at least 24-count thread throughout the net.

(2) Inspection of purse seine vessels. Persons that own or operate an Atlantic Tunas purse seine vessel must have their fishing gear inspected for mesh size by an enforcement agent of NMFS prior to commencing fishing for the season in any fishery that may result in the harvest of Atlantic tunas. Such persons must request such inspection at least 24 hours before commencement of the first fishing trip of the season. If NMFS does not inspect the vessel within 24 hours of such notification, the inspection requirement is waived. In addition, at least 24 hours before commencement of offloading any bluefin tuna after a fishing trip, such persons must request an inspection of the vessel and catch by notifying NMFS. If, after notification by the vessel, NMFS does not arrange to inspect the vessel and catch at offloading, the inspection requirement is waived.

(f) Rod and reel. (1) Persons who have been issued or are required to be issued a permit under this part and who are participating in a “tournament,” as defined in §635.2, that bestows points, prizes, or awards for Atlantic billfish must deploy only non-offset circle hooks when using natural bait or natural bait/artificial lure combinations, and may not deploy a J-hook or an offset circle hook in combination with natural bait or a natural bait/artificial lure combination.

(2) A person on board a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued a permit with a shark endorsement under this part and who is participating in an HMS registered tournament that bestows points, prizes, or awards for Atlantic sharks must deploy only non-offset, corrodible circle hooks when fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing sharks, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.

(3) A person on board a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued an HMS Angling permit with a shark endorsement or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a shark endorsement must deploy only non-offset, corrodible circle hooks when fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing sharks, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.

(g) Gillnet. (1) Persons fishing with gillnet gear must comply with the provisions implementing the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan, the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan, the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan, and any other relevant Take Reduction Plan set forth in §§229.32 through 229.35 of this title. If a listed whale is taken, the vessel operator must cease fishing operations immediately and contact NMFS as required under part 229 of this title.

(2) While fishing with a drift gillnet, a vessel issued or required to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark LAP and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit must conduct net checks at least every 2 hours to look for and remove any sea turtles, marine mammals, Atlantic sturgeon, or smalltooth sawfish, and the drift gillnet must remain attached to at least one vessel at one end, except during net checks. Smalltooth sawfish must not be removed from the water while being removed from the net.

(3) While fishing with a sink gillnet, vessels issued or required to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark LAP and/or a Federal commercial smoothhound permit must limit the soak time of the sink gillnet gear to no more than 24 hours, measured from the time the sink gillnet first enters the water to the time it is completely removed from the water. Smalltooth sawfish must not be removed from the water while being removed from the net.

(4) No person may fish for sharks with a gillnet with a total length of 2.5 km or more. No vessel may have on board a gillnet with a total length of 2.5 km or more.

(5) Fleet communication and relocation protocol. The owner or operator of any vessel issued or required to be issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark limited access permit that catches a dusky shark must, as quickly as practicable, broadcast the location of the dusky shark interaction over the radio to other fishing vessels in the surrounding area. Subsequent fishing sets by that vessel that trip must be at least 1 nmi from the reported location of the dusky shark catch. Vessel owners and operators are encouraged to move the vessel further away than 1 nmi if conditions (e.g., water temperature, depth, tide, etc.) indicate that moving a greater distance is warranted to avoid additional dusky shark interactions.

(6) If a vessel issued or required to be issued a permit under this part has gillnet gear onboard, persons aboard that vessel are required to promptly release in a manner that causes the least harm any shortfin mako shark that is alive at the time of haulback.

(h) Buoy gear. Vessels utilizing buoy gear may not possess or deploy more than 35 floatation devices, and may not deploy more than 35 individual buoy gears per vessel. Buoy gear must be constructed and deployed so that the hooks and/or gangions are attached to the vertical portion of the mainline. Floatation devices may be attached to one but not both ends of the mainline, and no hooks or gangions may be attached to any floatation device or horizontal portion of the mainline. If more than one floatation device is attached to a buoy gear, no hook or gangion may be attached to the mainline between them. Individual buoy gears may not be linked, clipped, or connected together in any way. Buoy gears must be released and retrieved by hand. All deployed buoy gear must have some type of monitoring equipment affixed to it including, but not limited to, radar reflectors, beeper devices, lights, or reflective tape. If only reflective tape is affixed, the vessel deploying the buoy gear must possess on board an operable spotlight capable of illuminating deployed floatation devices. If a gear monitoring device is positively buoyant, and rigged to be attached to a fishing gear, it is included in the 35 floatation device vessel limit and must be marked appropriately.

(i) Speargun fishing gear. Speargun fishing gear may only be utilized when recreational fishing for Atlantic BAYS tunas and only from vessels issued either a valid HMS Angling or valid HMS Charter/Headboat permit. Persons fishing for Atlantic BAYS tunas using speargun gear, as specified in §635.19, must be physically in the water when the speargun is fired or discharged, and may freedive, use SCUBA, or other underwater breathing devices. Only free-swimming BAYS tunas, not those restricted by fishing lines or other means, may be taken by speargun fishing gear. “Powerheads,” as defined at §600.10 of this chapter, or any other explosive devices, may not be used to harvest or fish for BAYS tunas with speargun fishing gear.

(j) Green-stick gear. Green-stick gear may only be utilized when fishing from vessels issued a valid Atlantic Tunas General, Swordfish General Commercial, HMS Charter/Headboat, or Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit. The gear must be attached to the vessel, actively trolled with the mainline at or above the water's surface, and may not be deployed with more than 10 hooks or gangions attached.

(k) Handline. (1) A person on board a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued a permit with a shark endorsement under this part and who is participating in an HMS registered tournament that bestows points, prizes, or awards for Atlantic sharks must deploy only non-offset, corrodible circle hooks when fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing sharks, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.

(2) A person on board a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued an HMS Angling permit with a shark endorsement or a person on board a vessel with an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a shark endorsement must deploy only non-offset, corrodible circle hooks when fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.

[79 FR 71594, Dec. 2, 2014, as amended at 80 FR 60567, Oct. 7, 2015; 80 FR 73145, Nov. 24, 2015; 81 FR 57806, Aug. 24, 2016; 82 FR 16507, Apr. 4, 2017; 83 FR 33154, July 17, 2018; 84 FR 5376, Feb. 21, 2019; 85 FR 18841, Apr. 2, 2020]

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§635.22   Recreational retention limits.

(a) General. (1) Atlantic HMS caught, possessed, retained, or landed under these recreational limits may not be sold or transferred to any person for a commercial purpose. Recreational retention limits apply to a longbill spearfish taken or possessed shoreward of the outer boundary of the Atlantic EEZ, to a shark taken from or possessed in the Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, to a North Atlantic swordfish taken from or possessed in the Atlantic Ocean, and to bluefin and yellowfin tuna taken from or possessed in the Atlantic Ocean. The operator of a vessel for which a retention limit applies is responsible for the vessel retention limit and for the cumulative retention limit based on the number of persons aboard. Federal recreational retention limits may not be combined with any recreational retention limit applicable in state waters.

(2) Vessels issued an HMS General Category permit under §635.4(d) that are participating in a HMS registered tournament, vessels issued a HMS Angling category permit under §635.4(c), or vessels issued a HMS Charter/Headboat permit under §635.4(b) may not retain, possess or land oceanic whitetip sharks or scalloped, smooth, or great hammerhead sharks if swordfish, tuna, or billfish are retained or possessed on board, or offloaded from, the vessel. Such vessels also may not retain, possess or land swordfish, tuna, or billfish if oceanic whitetip sharks, or scalloped, smooth, or great hammerhead sharks are retained or possessed on board, or offloaded from, the vessel.

(3) Vessels issued an HMS General Category permit under §635.4(d) that are participating in an HMS registered tournament, vessels issued a Swordfish General commercial permit under §635.4(f) that are participating in an HMS registered tournament, vessels issued a HMS Angling category permit under §635.4(c), or vessels issued a HMS Charter/Headboat permit under §635.4(b) are required to release unharmed, to the extent practicable, porbeagle sharks that are alive at the time of haulback if swordfish, tuna, or billfish are retained or possessed on board, or offloaded from, the vessel during that trip.

(b) Billfish. No longbill spearfish from the management unit may be taken, retained, or possessed shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ.

(c) Sharks. (1) The recreational retention limit for sharks applies to any person who fishes in any manner on a vessel that has been issued or is required to have been issued a permit with a shark endorsement, except as noted in paragraph (c)(7) of this section. The retention limit can change depending on the species being caught and the size limit under which they are being caught as specified under §635.20(e). A person on board a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued a permit with a shark endorsement under §635.4 is required to use non-offset, corrodible circle hooks as specified in §635.21(f) and (k) in order to retain sharks per the retention limits specified in this section.

(2) Only one shark from the following list may be retained per vessel per trip, subject to the size limits described in §635.20(e)(2) and (4): Atlantic blacktip, Gulf of Mexico blacktip, bull, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, lemon, nurse, spinner, tiger, blue, common thresher, oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, shortfin mako, Atlantic sharpnose, finetooth, Atlantic blacknose, Gulf of Mexico blacknose, and bonnethead.

(3) In addition to the sharks listed under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, one Atlantic sharpnose shark and one bonnethead shark may be retained per person per trip, subject to the size limits described in §635.20(e)(3).

(4) No prohibited sharks, including parts or pieces of prohibited sharks, which are listed in section D of Table 1 of Appendix A to this part, may be retained regardless of where harvested.

(5) Sharks listed in Table 1 of appendix A to this part that are not listed in this section, must be released by persons aboard a vessel that has not been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark vessel permit under §635.4(e).

(6) The smoothhound sharks listed in Section E of Table 1 of Appendix A to this part may be retained and are subject only to the size limits described in §635.20(e)(5).

(7) For persons on board vessels issued both a commercial shark permit and a permit with a shark endorsement, the recreational retention limit and sale prohibition applies for shortfin mako sharks at all times, even when the commercial pelagic shark quota is open. If such vessels retain a shortfin mako shark under the recreational retention limit, all other sharks retained by such vessels may only be retained under the applicable recreational retention limits and may not be sold. If a commercial Atlantic shark quota is closed under §635.28(b), the recreational retention limit for sharks and no sale provision in paragraph (a) of this section will be applied to persons aboard a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark vessel permit under §635.4(e), if that vessel has also been issued a permit with a shark endorsement under §635.4(b) and is engaged in a for-hire fishing trip or is participating in a registered HMS tournament per §635.4(c)(2).

(d) Yellowfin tuna. Three yellowfin tunas per person per day may be retained. Regardless of the length of a trip, no more than three yellowfin tuna per person may be possessed on board a vessel. The recreational retention limit for yellowfin tuna applies to a person who fishes in any manner, except to a person aboard a vessel issued an Atlantic Tunas vessel permit under §635.4(d). The recreational retention limit for yellowfin tuna applies to persons, including captain and crew, aboard a vessel that has been issued an Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit under §635.4(b) only when the vessel is engaged in a for-hire trip.

(e) Bluefin tuna. Refer to §635.23 for Atlantic bluefin tuna recreational retention limits.

(f) North Atlantic swordfish. The recreational retention limits for North Atlantic swordfish apply to persons who fish in any manner, except to persons aboard a vessel that has been issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement under §635.4(b) and only when on a non for-hire trip; a directed, incidental or handgear swordfish LAP under §635.4(e) and (f); a Swordfish General Commercial permit under §635.4(f); an Incidental HMS Squid Trawl permit under §635.4(n); or an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small boat permit under §635.4(o).

(1) When on a for-hire trip as defined at §635.2, vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit under §635.4(b), that are charter boats as defined under §600.10 of this chapter, may retain, possess, or land no more than one North Atlantic swordfish per paying passenger and up to six North Atlantic swordfish per vessel per trip. When such vessels have been issued a commercial sale endorsement and are on a non for-hire trip, they must comply with the commercial retention limits for swordfish specified at §635.24(b)(4).

(2) When on a for-hire trip as defined at §635.2, vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit under §635.4(b), that are headboats as defined under §600.10 of this chapter, may retain, possess, or land no more than one North Atlantic swordfish per paying passenger and up to 15 North Atlantic swordfish per vessel per trip. When such vessels have been issued a commercial sale endorsement and are on a non for-hire trip, they may land no more than the commercial retention limits for swordfish specified at §635.24(b)(4).

(3) Vessels issued an HMS Angling category permit under §635.4(c), may retain, possess, or land no more than one North Atlantic swordfish per person and up to four North Atlantic swordfish per vessel per trip.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §635.22, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§635.23   Retention limits for bluefin tuna.

The retention limits in this section are subject to the quotas and closure provisions in §§635.27 and 635.28.

(a) General category. (1) No person aboard a vessel that has a General category Atlantic Tunas permit may possess, retain, land, or sell a BFT in the school, large school, or small medium size class.

(2) On an RFD, no person aboard a vessel that has been issued an Atlantic Tunas General category permit may fish for, possess, retain, land, or sell a BFT of any size class, and catch-and-release or tag-and-release fishing for BFT under §635.26(a) is not authorized from such vessel. On days other than RFDs, and when the General category is open, large medium or giant BFT may be caught and landed from such vessels up to the daily retention limit in effect for that day. NMFS will annually publish a schedule of RFDs in the Federal Register.

(3) Regardless of the length of a trip, no more than a single day's retention limit of large medium or giant BFT may be possessed or retained aboard a vessel that has a General category Atlantic Tunas permit. On days other than RFDs, when the General category is open, no person aboard such vessel may continue to fish, and the vessel must immediately proceed to port once the applicable limit for large medium or giant BFT is retained.

(4) To provide for maximum utilization of the quota for BFT, NMFS may increase or decrease the daily retention limit of large medium and giant BFT over a range from zero (on RFDs) to a maximum of five per vessel. Such increase or decrease will be based on the criteria provided under §635.27(a)(8). NMFS will adjust the daily retention limit specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section by filing an adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. In no case shall such adjustment be effective less than 3 calendar days after the date of filing with the Office of the Federal Register, except that previously designated RFDs may be waived effective upon closure of the General category fishery so that persons aboard vessels permitted in the General category may conduct tag-and-release fishing for BFT under §635.26(a).

(b) Angling category. BFT may be retained and landed under the daily limits and quotas applicable to the Angling category by persons aboard vessels issued an HMS Angling permit as follows:

(1) Large medium and giant BFT. (i) No large medium or giant BFT may be retained, possessed, landed, or sold in the Gulf of Mexico, except one per vessel per year may be landed if caught incidentally to fishing for other species.

(ii) One per vessel per year may be retained, possessed, and landed outside the Gulf of Mexico.

(iii) When a large medium or giant BFT has been caught and retained under this paragraph (b)(1), no person aboard the vessel may continue to fish, the vessel must immediately proceed to port, and no such BFT may be sold or transferred to any person for a commercial purpose.

(2) School, large school, or small medium BFT. (i) No school, large school, or small medium BFT may be retained, possessed, landed, or sold in the Gulf of Mexico.

(ii) One school, large school, or small medium BFT per vessel per day may be retained, possessed, or landed outside the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of the length of a trip, no more than a single day's allowable catch of school, large school, or small medium BFT may be possessed or retained.

(3) Changes to retention limits. To provide for maximum utilization of the quota for BFT over the longest period of time, NMFS may increase or decrease the retention limit for any size class of BFT, or change a vessel trip limit to an angler trip limit and vice versa. Such increase or decrease in retention limit will be based on the criteria provided under §635.27 (a)(8). The retention limits may be adjusted separately for persons aboard a specific vessel type, such as private vessels, headboats, or charter boats. NMFS will adjust the daily retention limit specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section by filing an adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. In no case shall such adjustment be effective less than 3 calendar days after the date of filing with the Office of the Federal Register.

(c) HMS Charter/Headboat. Persons aboard a vessel issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit may retain and land BFT under the daily limits and quotas applicable to the Angling category or the General category as follows:

(1) When fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, the restrictions applicable to the Angling category specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section apply.

(2) When fishing other than in the Gulf of Mexico when the fishery for the General category is closed, the restrictions applicable to the Angling category specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(3) of this section apply.

(3) When fishing other than in the Gulf of Mexico and when the fishery under the General category has not been closed under §635.28, a person aboard a vessel that has been issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement may fish under either the retention limits applicable to the General category specified in paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section or the retention limits applicable to the Angling category specified in paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) of this section. The size category of the first BFT retained will determine the fishing category applicable to the vessel that day. A person aboard a vessel that has been issued an HMS Charter/Headboat without a commercial sale endorsement permit may fish only under the retention limits applicable to the Angling category.

(d) Harpoon category. Persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Harpoon category may retain, possess, or land an unlimited number of giant bluefin tuna per day. An incidental catch of two large medium bluefin tuna per vessel per day may be retained, possessed, or landed, unless the retention limits is increased by NMFS through an inseason adjustment to three, or a maximum of four, large medium bluefin tuna per vessel per day, based upon the criteria under §635.27(a)(8). NMFS will implement an adjustment via publication in the Federal Register. If adjusted upwards to three or four large medium bluefin tuna per vessel per day, NMFS may subsequently decrease the retention limit down to the default level of two, based on the criteria under §635.27(a)(8).

(e) Purse Seine category. Persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category may retain giant bluefin tuna (81 inches and larger), and smaller bluefin, as restricted by paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section, up to the amount of individual quota allocated under §635.27(a)(4)(ii). Purse seine vessel owners who, through landing and/or leasing, have no remaining bluefin tuna quota allocation may not use their permitted vessels in any fishery in which Atlantic bluefin tuna might be caught, regardless of whether bluefin tuna are retained, unless such vessel owners lease additional allocation through the Individual Bluefin Quota Allocation Leasing Program, under §635.15(c). Persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category,

(1) May retain, possess, land, or sell large medium bluefin in amounts not exceeding 15 percent, by weight, of the total amount of giant bluefin landed during that fishing year.

(2) May retain, possess, or land bluefin smaller than the large medium size class that are taken incidentally when fishing for skipjack tuna in an amount not exceeding 1 percent, by weight, of the skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna landed on that trip. Landings of bluefin smaller than the large medium size class may not be sold and are counted against the Purse Seine category bluefin quota allocated to that vessel.

(3) May fish for yellowfin, bigeye, albacore, or skipjack tuna at any time; however, landings of bluefin tuna taken incidental to fisheries targeting other Atlantic tunas or in any fishery in which bluefin tuna might be caught will be deducted from the individual vessel's quota.

(f) Longline category. Persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Longline category are subject to the bluefin tuna retention restrictions in paragraphs (f)(1) and (2) of this section.

(1) A vessel fishing with pelagic longline gear may retain, possess, land and sell large medium and giant bluefin tuna taken incidentally when fishing for other species if in compliance with all the IBQ requirements of §635.15, including the requirement that a vessel may not declare into or depart on a fishing trip with pelagic longline onboard unless it has the required minimum bluefin tuna IBQ allocation required for the region where fishing activity will occur.

(2) A vessel with pelagic longline gear onboard must retain all dead bluefin tuna that are 73 inches or greater CFL.

(g) Trap category. Persons aboard a vessel permitted in the Atlantic Tunas Trap category may retain, possess, land, and sell each fishing year only one large medium or giant BFT that is taken incidentally while fishing for other species with a pound net or fish weir. No other Atlantic tunas caught in a pound net or fish weir may be retained.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 65 FR 42887, July 12, 2000; 67 FR 77438, Dec. 18, 2002; 68 FR 32417, May 30, 2003; 68 FR 56788, Oct. 2, 2003; 68 FR 74511, Dec. 24, 2003; 69 FR 40758, July 6, 2004; 70 FR 10900, Mar. 7, 2005; 71 FR 58169, Oct. 2, 2006; 76 FR 39031, July 5, 2011; 76 FR 74009, Nov. 30, 2011; 79 FR 71601, Dec. 2, 2014; 82 FR 57550, Dec. 6, 2017; 83 FR 33156, July 17, 2018]

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§635.24   Commercial retention limits for sharks, swordfish, and BAYS tunas.

The retention limits in this section are subject to the quotas and closure provisions in §§635.27 and 635.28, and the gear operation and deployment restrictions in §635.21.

(a) Sharks. (1) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a valid shark research permit under §635.32(f) and who has a NMFS-approved observer on board may retain, possess, or land LCS, including sandbar sharks, in excess of the retention limits in paragraphs (a)(2) through (6) of this section. The amount of LCS that can be landed by such a person will vary as specified on the shark research permit. Only a person who owns or operates a vessel issued a valid shark research permit with a NMFS-approved observer on board may retain, possess, or land sandbar sharks.

(2) The commercial retention limit for LCS other than sandbar sharks for a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a directed LAP for sharks and does not have a valid shark research permit, or a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a directed LAP for sharks and that has been issued a shark research permit but does not have a NMFS-approved observer on board, may range between zero and 55 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip if the respective LCS management group(s) is open per §§635.27 and 635.28. Such persons may not retain, possess, or land sandbar sharks. At the start of each fishing year, the default commercial retention limit is 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip unless NMFS determines otherwise and files with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of an inseason adjustment. During the fishing year, NMFS may adjust the retention limit per the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria listed in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(3) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued an incidental LAP for sharks and does not have a valid shark research permit, or a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued an incidental LAP for sharks and that has been issued a valid shark research permit but does not have a NMFS-approved observer on board, may retain, possess, or land no more than 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip if the respective LCS management group(s) is open per §§635.27 and 635.28. Such persons may not retain, possess, or land sandbar sharks.

(4)(i) Except as provided in §635.22(c)(7), a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a directed shark LAP may retain, possess, land, or sell pelagic sharks if the pelagic shark fishery is open per §§635.27 and 635.28. Shortfin mako sharks may be retained by persons aboard vessels using pelagic longline, bottom longline, or gillnet gear only if the shark is dead at the time of haulback and consistent with the provisions of §635.21(c)(1), (d)(5), and (g)(6) and 635.22(c)(7).

(ii) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a shark LAP and is operating south of 34°00 N. lat. in the Atlantic region, as defined at §635.27(b)(1), may retain, possess, land, or sell blacknose and non-blacknose SCS if the respective blacknose and non-blacknose SCS management groups are open per §§635.27 and 635.28. Such persons may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 8 blacknose sharks per vessel per trip. A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a shark LAP and is operating north of 34°00 N. lat. in the Atlantic region, as defined at §635.27(b)(1), or a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a shark LAP and is operating in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined at §635.27(b)(1), may not retain, possess, land, or sell any blacknose sharks, but may retain, possess, land, or sell non-blacknose SCS if the respective non-blacknose SCS management group is open per §§635.27 and 635.28.

(iii) Consistent with paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, a person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued an incidental shark LAP may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 16 SCS and pelagic sharks, combined, per vessel per trip, if the respective fishery is open per §§635.27 and 635.28. Of those 16 SCS and pelagic sharks per vessel per trip, no more than 8 shall be blacknose sharks. Shortfin mako sharks may only be retained under the commercial retention limits by persons using pelagic longline, bottom longline, or gillnet gear, only if the shark is dead at the time of haulback and consistent with the provisions at §635.21(c)(1), (d)(5), and (g)(6). If the vessel has also been issued a permit with a shark endorsement and retains a shortfin mako shark, recreational retention limits apply to all sharks retained and none may be sold, per §635.22(c)(7).

(iv) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit may retain, possess, or land any LCS, SCS or pelagic sharks only when the HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit trip limit is set above zero. The current shark trip limit for HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit holders is set at zero.

(5) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit may not retain, possess, land, sell, or purchase prohibited sharks, including any parts or pieces of prohibited sharks, which are listed in section D of Table 1 of Appendix A to this part under prohibited sharks.

(6) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, and who decides to retain sharks, must retain, subject to the trip limits, all dead, legal-sized, non-prohibited sharks that are brought onboard the vessel and cannot replace those sharks with sharks of higher quality or size that are caught later in the trip. Any fish that are to be released cannot be brought onboard the vessel and must be released in the water in a manner that maximizes survival.

(7) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may retain, possess, and land smoothhound sharks if the smoothhound fishery is open in accordance with §§635.27 and 635.28. Persons aboard a vessel in a trawl fishery that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit and are in compliance with all other applicable regulations, may retain, possess, land, or sell incidentally-caught smoothhound sharks, but only up to an amount that does not exceed 25 percent, by weight, of the total catch on board and/or offloaded from the vessel. A vessel is in a trawl fishery when it has no commercial fishing gear other than trawls on board and when smoothhound sharks constitute no more than 25 percent by weight of the total catch on board or offloaded from the vessel.

(8) Inseason trip limit adjustment criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any inseason adjustments to trip limits by region or sub-region. Before making any adjustment, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(i) The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area, region, or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports;

(ii) The catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes in the region or sub-region, to date, based on dealer reports;

(iii) Estimated date of fishery closure based on when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the realized catch rates and whether they are projected to reach 100 percent before the end of the fishing season;

(iv) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments;

(v) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based knowledge; and/or

(vi) Effects of catch rates in one part of a region or sub-region precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota.

(9) Notwithstanding other provisions in this subsection, possession, retention, transshipment, landing, sale, or storage of silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, and scalloped, smooth, and great hammerhead sharks is prohibited on vessels issued a permit under this part that have pelagic longline gear on board or on vessels issued both an HMS Charter/Headboat permit and a commercial shark permit when tuna, swordfish or billfish are on board the vessel, offloaded from the vessel, or being offloaded from the vessel.

(10) Notwithstanding other provisions in this paragraph (a), vessels issued a permit under this part that have pelagic longline gear on board or on vessels issued both an HMS Charter/Headboat permit and a commercial shark permit when tuna, swordfish, or billfish are on board the vessel, offloaded from the vessel, or being offloaded from the vessel, are required to release unharmed, to the extent practicable, porbeagle sharks that are alive at the time of haulback.

(b) Swordfish. (1) Persons aboard a vessel that has been issued an incidental LAP for swordfish may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 30 swordfish per trip in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat.

(2) Persons aboard a vessel in the squid trawl fishery that has been issued an Incidental HMS squid trawl permit may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 15 swordfish per trip in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. A vessel is considered to be in the squid trawl fishery when it has no commercial fishing gear other than trawls on board and when squid constitute not less than 75 percent by weight of the total fish on board or offloaded from the vessel.

(3) Persons aboard a vessel that has been issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat vessel permit may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 2 swordfish per trip in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat.

(4) Persons aboard a vessel that has been issued a Swordfish General Commercial permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement (and only when on a non for-hire trip) are subject to the regional swordfish retention limits specified at paragraph (b)(4)(iii) of this section, which may be adjusted during the fishing year based upon the inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria identified in paragraph (b)(4)(iv) of this section.

(i) Regions. Regional retention limits for swordfish apply in four regions. For purposes of this section, these regions are: the Florida Swordfish Management Area as defined in §635.2; the Northwest Atlantic region (federal waters along the entire Atlantic coast of the United States north of 28°1710 N. latitude); the Gulf of Mexico region (any water located in the EEZ in the entire Gulf of Mexico west of 82° W. longitude); and the Caribbean region (the U.S. territorial waters within the Caribbean as defined in §622.2 of this chapter).

(ii) Vessels that have been issued a Swordfish General Commercial permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement (and only when on a non for-hire trip), as a condition of these permits, may not possess, retain, or land any more swordfish than is specified for the region in which the vessel is located.

(iii) Regional retention limits. The swordfish regional retention limits for each region will range between zero to six swordfish per vessel per trip. At the start of each fishing year, the default regional retention limits will apply. During the fishing year, NMFS may adjust the default retention limits per the inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria listed in §635.24(b)(4)(iv), if necessary. The default retention limits for the regions set forth under paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section are:

(A) Zero swordfish per vessel per trip for the Florida Swordfish Management Area.

(B) Two swordfish per vessel per trip for the Caribbean region.

(C) Three swordfish per vessel per trip for the Northwest Atlantic region.

(D) Three swordfish per vessel per trip for the Gulf of Mexico region.

(iv) Inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any inseason adjustments to the regional retention limits. Before making any inseason adjustments to regional retention limits, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(A) The usefulness of information obtained from biological sampling and monitoring of the North Atlantic swordfish stock;

(B) The estimated ability of vessels participating in the fishery to land the amount of swordfish quota available before the end of the fishing year;

(C) The estimated amounts by which quotas for other categories of the fishery might be exceeded;

(D) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan and its amendments;

(E) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of swordfish;

(F) Effects of catch rates in one region precluding vessels in another region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall swordfish quota; and

(G) Review of dealer reports, landing trends, and the availability of swordfish on the fishing grounds.

(c) BAYS tunas. Persons aboard a vessel that has been issued an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit under §635.4 may retain, possess, land, or sell no more than 10 BAYS tunas per vessel per trip.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §635.24, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§635.25   Fishing areas.

(a) General. Persons on board fishing vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are authorized to fish for, catch, retain, or land species governed by an international catch sharing agreement implemented under this part only in or from those management areas for which the United States has received an allocation.

(b) Exemptions. Persons and vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States intending to fish for regulated species in fishing areas not otherwise authorized under this part, whether for the purposes of scientific research or commercial fishing under a chartering arrangement, must have a permit from NMFS issued under §635.32.

(c) Atlantic bluefin tuna. No person aboard a U.S. fishing vessel shall fish for bluefin tuna in, or possess on board that fishing vessel a bluefin tuna taken from, the Mediterranean Sea.

[67 FR 70026, Nov. 20, 2002]

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§635.26   Catch and release.

(a) BFT. (1) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this part, a person aboard a vessel issued a permit under this part, other than a person aboard a vessel permitted in the General category on a designated RFD, may fish with rod and reel or handline gear for BFT under a catch-and-release or tag-and-release program. When fishing under a tag-and-release program, vessel owner/operators should use tags issued or approved by NMFS. If a BFT is tagged, the tag information, including information on any previously applied tag remaining on the fish, must be reported to NMFS. All BFT caught under the catch-and-release or tag-and-release programs must be returned to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury.

(2) Persons may obtain NMFS-issued conventional tags, reporting cards, and detailed instructions for their use from the NMFS Cooperative Tagging Center. Persons may use a conventional tag obtained from a source other than NMFS to tag BFT, provided the use of such tags is registered each year with the Cooperative Tagging Center and the NMFS program manager has approved the use of a conventional tag from that source. An angler using an alternative source of tags wishing to tag BFT may contact the NMFS Cooperative Tagging Center at the Southeast Fishery Science Center.

(3) An angler registering for the HMS tagging program is required to provide his or her name, address, phone number and, if applicable, the identity of the alternate source of tags.

(b) Billfish. NMFS is encouraging further catch and release of Atlantic billfish by establishing a recreational catch-and-release fishery management program, consistent with the guidance of §600.350(c).

(c) Sharks. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this part, a person may fish for white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) with rod and reel, provided the person releases such fish to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury, and that such fish may not be removed from the water.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 65 FR 42887, July 12, 2000; 70 FR 10900, Mar. 7, 2005]

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§635.27   Quotas.

(a) Bluefin tuna. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and with paragraph (a)(10)(iv) of this section, NMFS may subtract the most recent, complete, and available estimate of dead discards from the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, and make the remainder available to be retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The remaining baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota will be allocated among the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, Longline, Trap, and Reserve categories, as described in this section. Bluefin tuna quotas are specified in whole weight. The baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota is 1,247.86 mt, not including an additional annual 25-mt allocation provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. The bluefin quota for the quota categories is calculated through the following process. First, 68 mt is subtracted from the baseline annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota and allocated to the Longline category quota. Second, the remaining quota is divided among the categories according to the following percentages: General—47.1 percent (555.7 mt); Angling—19.7 percent (232.4 mt), which includes the school bluefin tuna held in reserve as described under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section; Harpoon—3.9 percent (46 mt); Purse Seine—18.6 percent (219.5 mt); Longline—8.1 percent (95.6) plus the 68-mt allocation (i.e., 163.6 mt total not including the 25-mt allocation from paragraph (a)(3)); Trap—0.1 percent (1.2 mt); and Reserve—2.5 percent (29.5 mt). NMFS may make inseason and annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section, including quota adjustments as a result of the annual reallocation of Purse Seine quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section.

(1) General category quota. (i) Catches from vessels for which General category Atlantic Tunas permits have been issued and certain catches from vessels for which an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued are counted against the General category quota in accordance with §635.23(c)(3). Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold under the General category quota is 555.7 mt, and is apportioned as follows, unless modified as described under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section:

(A) January 1 through the effective date of a closure notice filed by NMFS announcing that the January subquota is reached, or projected to be reached under §635.28(a)(1), or through March 31, whichever comes first—5.3 percent (29.5 mt);

(B) June 1 through August 31—50 percent (277.9 mt);

(C) September 1 through September 30—26.5 percent (147.3 mt);

(D) October 1 through November 30—13 percent (72.2 mt); and

(E) December 1 through December 31—5.2 percent (28.9 mt).

(ii) NMFS may adjust each period's apportionment based on overharvest or underharvest in the prior period, and may transfer subquota from one time period to another time period, earlier in the year, through inseason action or annual specifications. For example, subquota could be transferred from the December 1 through December 31 time period to the January time period; or from the October 1 through November 30 time period to the September time period. This inseason adjustment may occur prior to the start of that year. In other words, although subject to the inseason criteria under paragraph (a)(8) of this section, the adjustment could occur prior to the start of the fishing year. For example, an inseason action transferring the 2016 December 1 through December 31 time period subquota to the 2016 January 1 time period subquota could be filed in 2015.

(iii) When the General category fishery has been closed in any quota period specified under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, NMFS will publish a closure action as specified in §635.28. The subsequent time-period subquota will automatically open in accordance with the dates specified under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section.

(2) Angling category quota. In accordance with the framework procedures of the Consolidated HMS FMP, prior to each fishing year, or as early as feasible, NMFS will establish the Angling category daily retention limits. In accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, and landed by anglers aboard vessels for which an HMS Angling permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit has been issued is 232.4 mt. No more than 2.3 percent (5.3 mt) of the annual Angling category quota may be large medium or giant bluefin tuna. In addition, no more than 10 percent of the annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota, inclusive of the allocation specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may be school bluefin tuna (i.e., 127.3 mt). The Angling category quota includes the amount of school bluefin tuna held in reserve under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section. The size class subquotas for bluefin tuna are further subdivided as follows:

(i) After adjustment for the school bluefin tuna quota held in reserve (under paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this section), 52.8 percent (54.8 mt) of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18 N lat. The remaining school bluefin tuna Angling category quota (49 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18 N lat.

(ii) An amount equal to 52.8 percent (52.7 mt) of the large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed south of 39°18 N lat. The remaining large school/small medium bluefin tuna Angling category quota (47.1 mt) may be caught, retained, possessed or landed north of 39°18 N lat.

(iii) One third (1.8 mt) of the large medium and giant bluefin tuna Angling category quota may be caught retained, possessed, or landed, in each of the three following geographic areas: North of 39°18 N lat.; south of 39°18 N lat., and outside of the Gulf of Mexico; and in the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this section, the Gulf of Mexico region includes all waters of the U.S. EEZ west and north of the boundary stipulated at 50 CFR 600.105(c).

(3) Longline category quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, discarded dead, or retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits is 163.6 mt. In addition, 25 mt shall be allocated for incidental catch by pelagic longline vessels fishing in the Northeast Distant gear restricted area, and subject to the restrictions under §635.15(b)(8).

(4) Purse Seine category quota—(i) Baseline Purse Seine quota. Pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the baseline amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permits is 219.5 mt, unless adjusted as a result of inseason and/or annual adjustments to quotas as specified in paragraphs (a)(9) and (10) of this section; or adjusted (prior to allocation to individual participants) based on the previous year's catch as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Annually, NMFS will make a determination when the Purse Seine fishery will start, based on variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna, cumulative and projected landings in other commercial fishing categories, the potential for gear conflicts on the fishing grounds, or market impacts due to oversupply. NMFS will start the bluefin tuna purse seine season between June 1 and August 15, by filing an action with the Office of the Federal Register, and notifying the public. The Purse Seine category fishery closes on December 31 of each year.

(ii) Allocation of bluefin quota to Purse Seine category participants. Annually, NMFS will make equal allocations of the baseline Purse Seine category quota described under paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section to individual Purse Seine participants (i.e., 36.9 mt each), then make further determinations regarding the allocations per paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Allocations of individual bluefin quota to individual Purse Seine participants may only be transferred through leasing in accordance with procedures and requirements at §635.15(c) and other requirements under this paragraph (a)(4).

(iii) Duration. Bluefin tuna quota allocation issued under this section is valid for the relevant fishing year unless it is revoked, suspended, or modified or unless the Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category quota is closed per §635.28(a).

(iv) Unused bluefin allocation. Any quota allocation that is unused at the end of the fishing year may not be carried forward by a Purse Seine participant to the following year, but would remain associated with the Purse Seine category as a whole, and subject to the quota regulations under §635.27, including annual quota adjustments.

(v) Annual reallocation of Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category quota. (A) By the end of each year, NMFS will determine the amount of quota available to each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant for the upcoming fishing year, based on his/her bluefin catch (landings and dead discards). Specifically, NMFS will allocate each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant either 100 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent, or 25 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, described in paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, according to the following criteria: if the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one ranges from 0 to 20 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, as described under paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, the Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 25 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 75 percent of his/her individual allocation would be reallocated to the Reserve category for that year. Similarly, if the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is from greater than 20 percent up to 45 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 50 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 50 percent of his/her individual allocation would be reallocated to the Reserve category for that year. If the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is from greater than 45 percent up to 70 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 75 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and 25 percent of his/her individual allocation would be transferred to the Reserve category for that year. If the Purse Seine participant's catch in year one is greater than 70 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation, that Purse Seine category participant would be allocated 100 percent of his/her individual baseline quota allocation in year two, and no quota would be transferred to the Reserve category for that year. These criteria would apply following the same pattern in years two and beyond.

(B) Purse Seine category participants may only lease to eligible IBQ participants allocated quota available to them that year, consistent with the purse seine allocation availability provisions in this section. For example, if a Purse Seine category participant was allocated 50 percent of his/her baseline quota, he/she would be able to catch and/or lease that allocation to an eligible IBQ participant. The individual participant's remaining baseline quota would not be available to lease but would be transferred to the Reserve category. Allocation of less than 100% of a participant's baseline quota (i.e., 25 percent, 50 percent, or 75 percent) does not preclude the participant from leasing additional quota, as needed, consistent with §635.15(c).

(C) NMFS will inform each Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category participant annually of its determination regarding the amount of individual quota allocated for the subsequent year through the electronic IBQ system established under §635.15 and in writing via a permit holder letter, when NMFS has the complete catch data for the Purse Seine fishery.

(5) Harpoon category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, landed, or sold by vessels that possess Harpoon category Atlantic Tunas permits is 46 mt. The Harpoon category fishery commences on June 1 of each year, and closes on November 15 of each year.

(6) Trap category quota. The total amount of large medium and giant bluefin tuna that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by vessels that possess Trap category Atlantic Tunas permits is 1.2 mt.

(7) Reserve category quota. (i) The total amount of bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and research using quota or subquotas is 29.5 mt, which may be augmented by allowable underharvest from the previous year, or annual reallocation of Purse Seine category quota as described under paragraph (a)(4)(v) of this section. Consistent with paragraphs (a)(8) through (10) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the Reserve category quota for inseason or annual adjustments to any fishing category quota.

(ii) The total amount of school bluefin tuna that is held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments and fishery-independent research is 18.5 percent (23.5 mt) of the total school bluefin tuna Angling category quota as described under paragraph (a)(2) of this section. This amount is in addition to the amounts specified in paragraph (a)(7)(i) of this section. Consistent with paragraph (a)(8) of this section, NMFS may allocate any portion of the school bluefin tuna Angling category quota held in reserve for inseason or annual adjustments to the Angling category.

(8) Determination criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of any inseason or annual adjustments. Before making any adjustment, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(i) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock.

(ii) The catches of the particular category quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made.

(iii) The projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota to harvest the additional amount of BFT before the end of the fishing year.

(iv) The estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded.

(v) Effects of the adjustment on BFT rebuilding and overfishing.

(vi) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan.

(vii) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of BFT.

(viii) Effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the category's quota.

(ix) Review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the BFT on the fishing grounds.

(x) Optimize fishing opportunity.

(xi) Account for dead discards.

(xii) Facilitate quota accounting.

(xiii) Support other fishing monitoring programs through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue.

(xiv) Support research through quota allocations and/or generation of revenue.

(9) Inseason adjustments. To be effective for all, or a part of a fishing year, NMFS may transfer quotas specified under this section, among fishing categories or, as appropriate, subcategories, based on the criteria in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(10) Annual adjustments. (i) Adjustments to category quotas specified under paragraphs (a) (1) through (7) of this section may be made in accordance with the restrictions of this paragraph and ICCAT recommendations. Based on landing, catch statistics, other available information, and in consideration of the criteria in paragraph (a)(8) of this section, if NMFS determines that a bluefin quota for any category or, as appropriate, subcategory has been exceeded (overharvest), NMFS may subtract all or a portion of the overharvest from that quota category or subcategory for the following fishing year. If NMFS determines that a bluefin quota for any category or, as appropriate, subcategory has not been reached (underharvest), NMFS may add all or a portion of the underharvest to, that quota category or subcategory, and/or the Reserve category for the following fishing year. The underharvest that is carried forward may not exceed 100 percent of each category's baseline allocation specified in paragraph (a) of this section, and the total of the adjusted fishing category quotas and the Reserve category quota are consistent with ICCAT recommendations. Although quota may be carried over for the Longline or Purse Seine categories as a whole (at the category level), individual fishery participants that have been allocated individual quota may not carry over such quota from one year to the next, as specified under §635.15(b)(6) and (7) for the pelagic longline fishery, and under paragraph (a)(4)(iv) of this section for the purse seine fishery.

(ii) NMFS may allocate any quota remaining in the Reserve category at the end of a fishing year to any fishing category, provided such allocation is consistent with the determination criteria specified in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(iii) Regardless of the estimated landings in any year, NMFS may adjust the annual school bluefin tuna quota to ensure compliance with the ICCAT-recommended procedures for addressing overharvest of school bluefin tuna.

(iv) NMFS may subtract the best available estimate of dead discards from the amount of BFT that can be landed in the subsequent fishing year by those categories accounting for the dead discards.

(v) NMFS will file any annual adjustment with the Office of the Federal Register for publication and specify the basis for any quota reductions or increases made pursuant to this paragraph (a)(10).

(b) Sharks—(1) Commercial quotas. The commercial quotas for sharks specified in this section apply to all sharks harvested from the management unit, regardless of where harvested. Sharks caught and landed commercially from state waters, even by fishermen without Federal shark permits, must be counted against the appropriate commercial quota. Any of the base quotas listed below, including regional and/or sub-regional base quotas, may be adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Any sharks landed commercially as “unclassified” will be counted against the appropriate quota based on the species composition calculated from data collected by observers on non-research trips and/or dealer data. No prohibited sharks, including parts or pieces of prohibited sharks, which are listed under heading D, Prohibited Sharks, of Table 1 of appendix A to this part, may be retained except as authorized under §635.32. For the purposes of this section, the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined as a line beginning on the east coast of Florida at the mainland at 25°20.4 N. lat., proceeding due east. Any water and land to the south and west of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, to be within the Gulf of Mexico region. Any water and land to the north and east of that boundary, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, is considered to be within the Atlantic region.

(i) Commercial quotas that apply only in the Atlantic Region. The commercial quotas specified in this paragraph (b)(1)(i) apply only to those species of sharks and management groups within the management unit that were harvested in the Atlantic region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

(A) Atlantic aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic aggregated LCS is 168.9 mt dw.

(B) Atlantic hammerhead sharks. The regional base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks caught in the Atlantic region is 27.1 mt dw (51.7% of the overall base quota established in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section).

(C) Atlantic non-blacknose SCS. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic non-blacknose SCS is 264.1 mt dw.

(D) Atlantic blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic blacknose sharks is 17.2 mt dw. Blacknose sharks may only be harvested for commercial purposes in the Atlantic region south of 34°00 N. lat. The harvest of blacknose sharks by persons aboard a vessel that has been issued or should have been issued a shark LAP and that is operating north of 34°00 N. lat. is prohibited.

(E) Atlantic smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Atlantic smoothhound sharks is 1,201.7 mt dw.

(ii) Commercial quotas that apply only in the Gulf of Mexico Region. The commercial quotas specified in this paragraph (b)(1)(ii) apply only to those species of sharks and management groups within the management unit that were harvested in the Gulf of Mexico region, as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The Gulf of Mexico region is further split into western and eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-regions by a boundary that is drawn along 88°00 W. long. All sharks harvested within the Gulf of Mexico region in fishing catch areas in waters westward of 88°00 W. long. are considered to be from the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, and all sharks harvested within the Gulf of Mexico region in fishing catch areas in waters east of 88°00 W. long., including within the Caribbean Sea, are considered to be from the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region.

(A) Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS is 157.5 mt dw. The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 85.5 mt dw (54.3% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 72.0 mt dw (45.7% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota).

(B) Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks. The regional base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks caught in the Gulf of Mexico region is 25.3 mt dw (48.3% of the overall base quota established in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section). The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 13.4 mt dw (52.8% of this regional base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 11.9 mt dw (47.2% of this regional base quota).

(C) Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks is 256.6 mt dw. The eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 25.1 mt dw (9.8% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota) and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region base quota is 231.5 mt dw (90.2% of the Gulf of Mexico region base quota).

(D) Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS is 112.6 mt dw. This base quota is not split between the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico sub-regions.

(E) Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks is 0.0 mt dw. The harvest of blacknose sharks by persons aboard a vessel that has been issued or should have been issued a shark LAP and that is operating in the Gulf of Mexico region is prohibited.

(F) Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks. The base annual commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 336.4 mt dw.

(iii) Commercial quotas that apply in all regions. The commercial quotas specified in this section apply to any sharks or management groups within the management unit that were harvested in either the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico regions.

(A) Sandbar sharks. The base annual commercial quota for sandbar sharks is 90.7 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section, is available only to the owners of commercial shark vessels that have been issued a valid shark research permit and that have a NMFS-approved observer onboard.

(B) Research LCS. The base annual commercial quota for Research LCS is 50 mt dw. This quota, as adjusted per paragraph (b)(2) of this section, is available only to the owners of commercial shark vessels that have been issued a valid shark research permit and that have a NMFS-approved observer onboard.

(C) Hammerhead sharks. The overall base annual commercial quota for hammerhead sharks is 52.4 mt dw. This overall base quota is further split for management purposes between the regions defined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section.

(D) Pelagic sharks. The base annual commercial quotas for pelagic sharks are 273.0 mt dw for blue sharks, 1.7 mt dw for porbeagle sharks, and 488.0 mt dw for pelagic sharks other than blue sharks or porbeagle sharks.

(2) Annual and inseason adjustments of commercial quotas. NMFS will publish in the Federal Register any annual or inseason adjustments to the base annual commercial overall, regional, or sub-regional quotas. No quota will be available, and the fishery will not open, until any adjustments are published in the Federal Register and effective. Within a fishing year or at the start of a fishing year, NMFS may transfer quotas between regions and sub-regions of the same species or management group, as appropriate, based on the criteria in paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section.

(i) Annual overharvest adjustments—(A) Adjustments of annual overall and regional base quotas. Except as noted in this section, if any of the available commercial base or adjusted overall quotas or regional quotas, as described in this section, is exceeded in any fishing year, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) from the base overall or regional quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), NMFS may deduct from the overall or regional base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years. If the blue shark quota is exceeded, NMFS will reduce the annual commercial quota for pelagic sharks by the amount that the blue shark quota is exceeded prior to the start of the next fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), deduct an amount equivalent to the overharvest(s) spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years.

(B) Adjustments to sub-regional quotas. If a sub-regional quota is exceeded but the regional quota is not, NMFS will not reduce the annual regional base quota the following year and sub-regional quotas will be determined as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. If both a sub-regional quota(s) and the regional quota are exceeded, for each sub-region in which an overharvest occurred, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to that sub-region's overharvest from that sub-region's quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest, NMFS may deduct from that sub-region's base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years.

(C) Adjustments to quotas when the species or management group is split into regions or sub-regions for management purposes and not as a result of a stock assessment. If a regional quota for a species that is split into regions for management purposes only is exceeded but the overall quota is not, NMFS will not reduce the overall base quota for that species or management group the following year and the regional quota will be determined as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. If both a regional quota(s) and the overall quota is exceeded, for each region in which an overharvest occurred, NMFS will deduct an amount equivalent to that region's overharvest from that region's quota the following fishing year or, depending on the level of overharvest(s), NMFS may deduct from that region's base quota an amount equivalent to the overharvest spread over a number of subsequent fishing years to a maximum of five years. If a sub-regional quota of a species or management group that is split into regions for management purposes only is exceeded, NMFS will follow the procedures specified in paragraph (b)(2)(i)(B) of this section.

(ii) Annual underharvest adjustments. Except as noted in this paragraph (b)(2)(ii), if any of the annual base or adjusted quotas, including regional quotas, as described in this section is not harvested, NMFS may adjust the annual base quota, including regional quotas, depending on the status of the stock or management group. If a species or a specific species within a management group is declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status, NMFS may not adjust the following fishing year's base quota, including regional quota, for any underharvest, and the following fishing year's quota will be equal to the base annual quota. If the species or all species in a management group is not declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status, NMFS may increase the following year's base annual quota, including regional quota, by an equivalent amount of the underharvest up to 50 percent above the base annual quota. Except as noted in paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section, underharvests are not transferable between regions, species, and/or management groups.

(iii) Determination criteria for inseason and annual quota transfers between regions and sub-regions. Inseason or annual quota transfers of quotas between regions or sub-regions may be conducted only for species or management groups where the species are the same between regions or sub-regions and the quota is split between regions or sub-regions for management purposes and not as a result of a stock assessment. Before making any inseason or annual quota transfer between regions or sub-regions, NMFS will consider the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(A) The usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular management group for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the respective shark species and/or management group;

(B) The catches of the particular species and/or management group quota to date and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made;

(C) The projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular species and/or management group quota to harvest the additional amount of corresponding quota before the end of the fishing year;

(D) Effects of the adjustment on the status of all shark species;

(E) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan;

(F) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of the appropriate shark species and/or management group;

(G) Effects of catch rates in one area precluding vessels in another area from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the quota; and/or

(H) Review of dealer reports, daily landing trends, and the availability of the respective shark species and/or management group on the fishing grounds.

(3) Opening commercial fishing season criteria. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of the opening dates of the overall, regional, and sub-regional shark fisheries for each species and management group. Before making any decisions, NMFS would consider the following criteria and other relevant factors in establishing the opening dates:

(i) The available annual quotas for the current fishing season for the different species/management groups based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during the previous commercial shark fishing seasons;

(ii) Estimated season length based on available quota(s) and average weekly catch rates of different species and/or management group from the previous years;

(iii) Length of the season for the different species and/or management group in the previous years and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years;

(iv) Variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the different species/management groups based on scientific and fishery information;

(v) Effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas;

(vi) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; and/or,

(vii) Effects of a delayed opening with regard to fishing opportunities in other fisheries.

(4) Public display and non-specific research quotas. All sharks collected under the authority of a display permit or EFP, subject to restrictions at §635.32, will be counted against the following:

(i) The base annual quota for persons who collect LCS other than sandbar, SCS, pelagic sharks, blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, or prohibited species under a display permit or EFP is 57.2 mt ww (41.2 mt dw).

(ii) The base annual quota for persons who collect sandbar sharks under a display permit is 1.4 mt ww (1.0 mt dw) and under an EFP is 1.4 mt ww (1.0 mt dw).

(iii) No persons may collect dusky sharks under a display permit. Collection of dusky sharks for research under EFPs and/or SRPs may be considered on a case-by-case basis and any associated mortality would be deducted from the shark research and display quota.

(iv) The base annual quota for persons who collect smoothhound sharks under a display permit or EFP is 6 mt ww (4.3 mt dw).

(c) Swordfish—(1) Categories. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations, the fishing year's total amount of swordfish that may be caught, retained, possessed, or landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction is divided into quotas for the North Atlantic swordfish stock and the South Atlantic swordfish stock. The quota for the North Atlantic swordfish stock is further divided into equal semi-annual directed fishery quotas, an annual incidental catch quota for fishermen targeting other species or taking swordfish recreationally, and a reserve category.

(i) North Atlantic swordfish. (A) A swordfish from the North Atlantic stock caught prior to the directed fishery closure by a vessel for which a directed swordfish LAP, a swordfish handgear LAP, an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement (and only when on a non for-hire trip) has been issued or is required to have been issued is counted against the directed fishery quota. The total baseline annual fishery quota, before any adjustments, is 2,937.6 mt dw for each fishing year. Consistent with applicable ICCAT recommendations, a portion of the total baseline annual fishery quota may be used for transfers to another ICCAT contracting party. The annual directed category quota is calculated by adjusting for over- or under harvests, dead discards, any applicable transfers, the incidental category quota, the reserve quota and other adjustments as needed, and is subdivided into two equal semiannual periods: One for January 1 through June 30, and the other for July 1 through December 31.

(B) A swordfish from the North Atlantic swordfish stock landed by a vessel for which an incidental swordfish LAP, an incidental HMS Squid Trawl permit, an HMS Angling permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit (and only when on a for-hire trip) has been issued, or a swordfish from the North Atlantic stock caught after the effective date of a closure of the directed fishery from a vessel for which a swordfish directed LAP, a swordfish handgear LAP, an HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit, or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement (when on a non for-hire trip) has been issued, is counted against the incidental category quota. The annual incidental category quota is 300 mt dw for each fishing year.

(C) All swordfish discarded dead from U.S. fishing vessels, regardless of whether such vessels are permitted under this part, shall be counted against the annual directed fishing quota.

(D) Fifty (50) mt of the annual fishery quota of North Atlantic swordfish may be held in reserve for inseason adjustments to fishing categories, to compensate for projected or actual overharvest in any category, for fishery research, or for other purposes consistent with management objectives.

(E) In the event of an overharvest of South Atlantic swordfish, up to 150.4 mt dw of swordfish landed between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude may be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. Otherwise, swordfish landed from this area shall be applied against the South Atlantic swordfish quota. For example, if the South Atlantic swordfish quota were 100 mt dw, and 50 mt dw were landed between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude, and 75 mt dw were caught south of 5 degrees South latitude, then 25 mt dw of the swordfish caught between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude would be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. If only 25 mt dw of swordfish were caught between 5 degrees North and 5 degrees South latitude, and 150 mt dw of swordfish were caught south of 5 degrees South latitude, 25 mt dw would be applied against the North Atlantic swordfish quota. The remaining 50 mt dw overharvest would be counted against the following year's South Atlantic swordfish quota.

(ii) South Atlantic Swordfish. The annual directed fishery quota for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is 75.2 mt dw. After December 31, 2007, the annual quota is subdivided into two equal semi-annual quotas of 37.6 mt dw: one for January 1 through June 30, and the other for July 1 through December 31. The entire quota for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is reserved for vessels with pelagic longline gear onboard and that have been issued a directed fishery permit for swordfish. No person may retain swordfish caught incidental to other fishing activities or with other fishing gear in the Atlantic Ocean south of 5 degrees North latitude.

(2) Inseason adjustments. (i) NMFS may adjust the July 1 through December 31 semiannual directed fishery quota or, as applicable, the reserve category, to reflect actual directed fishery and incidental fishing category catches during the January 1 through June 30 semiannual period.

(ii) If NMFS determines that the annual incidental catch quota will not be taken before the end of the fishing year, excess quota may be allocated to the directed fishery quota or to the reserve, as necessary. If NMFS determines that the annual directed catch quota will not be taken before the end of the fishing year, some of the excess quota may be allocated to the incidental fishery quota or to the reserve, as necessary.

(iii) If NMFS determines that it is necessary to close the directed swordfish fishery prior to the scheduled end of a semi-annual fishing season, any estimated overharvest or underharvest of the directed fishery quota for that semi-annual season will be used to adjust the annual incidental catch quota or the reserve as necessary to maintain landings and discards within the required annual limits.

(iv) NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any inseason swordfish quota adjustment and its apportionment to fishing categories or to the reserve made under paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

(3) Annual adjustments. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notice of the following adjustments to or apportionments of the annual quota:

(i) Adjustments to the quota necessary to meet the objectives of the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan consistent with the quota provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(ii) If consistent with applicable ICCAT recommendations, total landings above or below the specific North Atlantic or South Atlantic swordfish annual quota will be subtracted from, or added to, the following year's quota for that area. As necessary to meet management objectives, such adjustments may be apportioned to fishing categories and/or to the reserve. Carryover adjustments for the North Atlantic shall be limited to 15 percent of the annual baseline quota allocation. Carryover adjustments for the South Atlantic shall be limited to 100 mt ww (75.2 mt dw). Any adjustments to the 12-month directed fishery quota will be apportioned equally between the two semiannual fishing seasons.

(iii) The dressed weight equivalent of the amount by which dead discards exceed the allowance specified at paragraph (c)(1)(i)(C) of this section will be subtracted from the landings quota in the following fishing year or from the reserve category.

(d) Atlantic blue and white marlin. (1) Unless adjusted under paragraph (d)(2) of this section or by an ICCAT recommendation, the annual landings limit is 250 Atlantic blue and white marlin, combined. Annual landings of roundscale spearfish are also included to the blue and white marlin annual landings limit. Should the U.S. recreational Atlantic marlin landing limit be adjusted by an ICCAT recommendation, NMFS will file a notice identifying the new landing limit with the Office of the Federal Register for publication prior to the start of the next fishing year or as early as possible.

(2) Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, and based on landings statistics and other information as appropriate, if NMFS determines that aggregate landings of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish exceeded the annual landings limit for a given fishing year, as established in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, NMFS will subtract any overharvest from the landings limit for the following fishing year. Additionally, if NMFS determines that aggregate landings of Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish were below the annual landings limit for a given fishing year, as established in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, NMFS may add any underharvest, or portion thereof, to the landings limit for the following fishing year. Such adjustments to the annual recreational marlin landings limit, as specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, if necessary, will be filed with the Office of the Federal Register for publication prior to the start of the next fishing year or as early as possible.

(3) When the annual marlin landings limit specified in paragraph (d)(1) or, if adjusted, as specified in paragraph (d)(2) of this section is reached or projected to be reached, based upon a review of landings, the period of time remaining in the current fishing year, current and historical landings trends, and any other relevant factors, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register and action restricting fishing for Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish to catch-and-release fishing only. In no case shall such adjustment be effective less than 14 calendar days after the date of publication. From the effective date and time of such action until additional landings become available, no blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish from the management unit may be taken, retained, or possessed.

(e) Northern albacore tuna—(1) Annual quota. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, the total baseline annual fishery quota is 632.4 mt ww. The total quota, after any adjustments made per paragraph (e)(2) of this section, is the fishing year's total amount of northern albacore tuna that may be landed by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

(2) Annual adjustments. Consistent with ICCAT recommendations and domestic management objectives, and based on landings statistics and other information as appropriate, if for a particular year the total landings are above or below the annual quota for that year, the difference between the annual quota and the landings will be subtracted from, or added to, the following year's quota, respectively, or subtracted or added through a delayed, or multi-year adjustment. Carryover adjustments shall be limited to 25 percent of the baseline quota allocation for that year. NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication any adjustment or apportionment made under this paragraph (e)(2).

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §635.27, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§635.28   Fishery closures.

(a) Bluefin tuna. (1) When a bluefin tuna quota specified in §635.27(a), is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. On and after the effective date and time of such action, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the notice, fishing for, retaining, possessing, or landing bluefin tuna under that quota is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period or until such date as specified in the notice.

(2) If NMFS determines that variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of bluefin, or the catch rate in one area, precludes participants in another area from a reasonable opportunity to harvest any allocated domestic category quota, as stated in §635.27(a), NMFS may close all or part of the fishery under that category. NMFS may reopen the fishery at a later date if NMFS determines that reasonable fishing opportunities are available, e.g., bluefin have migrated into the area or weather is conducive for fishing. In determining the need for any such interim closure or area closure, NMFS will also take into consideration the criteria specified in §635.27(a)(8).

(3) When the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is reached, projected to be reached, or exceeded, or when there is high uncertainty regarding the estimated or documented levels of bluefin tuna catch, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. On and after the effective date and time of such action, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the closure action, vessels that have been issued or are required to have a LAP under §635.4 and that have pelagic longline gear onboard are prohibited from leaving port, regardless of the amount of bluefin tuna quota allocation remaining to each vessel or the amount of fishery quota remaining for other species. In addition to providing notice in the Federal Register, NMFS will also notify vessels of any closures and their timing via VMS and may use other electronic methods, such as email. Vessels would be required to return to port prior to the closure date/time. When considering whether to close or reopen the Longline category quota, NMFS may consider the following factors:

(i) Total estimated bluefin tuna catch (landings and dead discards) in relation to the quota;

(ii) The estimated amount by which the bluefin tuna quota might be exceeded;

(iii) The usefulness of data relevant to monitoring the quota;

(iv) The uncertainty in the documented or estimated dead discards or landings of bluefin tuna;

(v) The amount of bluefin tuna landings or dead discards within a short time;

(vi) The effects of continued fishing on bluefin tuna rebuilding and overfishing;

(vii) The provision of reasonable opportunity for pelagic longline vessels to pursue the target species;

(viii) The variations in seasonal distribution, abundance or migration patterns of bluefin tuna; and

(viii) Other relevant factors.

(b) Sharks. (1) A shark fishery that meets any of the following circumstances is closed and subject to the requirements of paragraph (b)(6) of this section:

(i) No overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, is specified at §635.27(b)(1);

(ii) The overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, specified at §635.27(b)(1) is zero;

(iii) After accounting for overharvests as specified at §635.27(b)(2), the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota, as applicable, is determined to be zero or close to zero and NMFS has closed the fishery by publication of a notice in the Federal Register;

(iv) The species is a prohibited species as listed under heading D, Prohibited Species of Table 1 of appendix A to this part; or

(v) Landings of the species and/or management group meet the requirements specified in §635.28(b)(2) through (5) and NMFS has closed the fishery by publication of a notice in the Federal Register.

(2) Non-linked quotas. If the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota of a species or management group is not linked to another species or management group and that overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available as specified by a publication in the Federal Register, then that overall, regional, and/or sub-regional commercial fishery for the shark species or management group will open as specified in §635.27(b). When NMFS calculates that the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional landings for a shark species and/or management group, as specified in §635.27(b)(1), has reached or is projected to reach 80 percent of the applicable available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota as specified in §635.27(b)(1) and is projected to reach 100 percent of the relevant quota by the end of the fishing season, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of an overall, regional, and/or sub-regional closure, as applicable, for that shark species and/or shark management group that will be effective no fewer than 4 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available and the season is reopened, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fisheries for that shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years.

(3) Linked quotas. As specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quotas of some shark species and/or management groups are linked to the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quotas of other shark species and/or management groups. For each pair of linked species and/or management groups, if the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota specified in §635.27(b)(1) is available for both of the linked species and/or management groups as specified by a publication in the Federal Register, then the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional commercial fishery for both of the linked species and/or management groups will open as specified in §635.27(b)(1). When NMFS calculates that the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional landings for any species and/or management group of a linked group have reached or are projected to reach 80 percent of the applicable available overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota as specified in §635.27(b)(1) and are projected to reach 100 percent of the relevant quota before the end of the fishing season, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of an overall, regional, and/or sub-regional closure for all of the species and/or management groups in that linked group that will be effective no fewer than 4 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quota is available and the season is reopened, the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fishery for all species and/or management groups in that linked group is closed, even across fishing years.

(4) The quotas of the following species and/or management groups are linked:

(i) Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic aggregated LCS.

(ii) Eastern Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and eastern Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS.

(iii) Western Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and western Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS.

(iv) Atlantic blacknose sharks and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south of 34°00 N. lat.

(5) NMFS may close the regional or sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group(s) before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering the following criteria and other relevant factors:

(i) Estimated Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark season length based on available sub-regional quotas and average sub-regional weekly catch rates during the current fishing year and from previous years;

(ii) Variations in regional and/or sub-regional seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of blacktip sharks, hammerhead sharks, and aggregated LCS based on scientific and fishery information;

(iii) Effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments;

(iv) The amount of remaining shark quotas in the relevant sub-regions, to date, based on dealer or other reports; and,

(v) The regional and/or sub-regional catch rates of the relevant shark species or management group(s), to date, based on dealer or other reports.

(6) When the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional fishery for a shark species and/or management group is closed, a fishing vessel, issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit pursuant to §635.4, may not possess, retain, land, or sell a shark of that species and/or management group that was caught within the closed region or sub-region, except under the conditions specified in §635.22(a) and (c) or if the vessel possesses a valid shark research permit under §635.32, a NMFS-approved observer is onboard, and the sandbar and/or Research LCS fishery, as applicable, is open. A shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to §635.4, may not purchase or receive a shark of that species and/or management group that was caught within the closed region or sub-region from a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess sharks that were caught in the closed region or sub-region that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered, prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage. Under a closure for a shark species or management group, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to §635.4 may, in accordance with State regulations, purchase or receive a shark of that species or management group if the shark was harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in State waters and that has not been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to §635.4. Additionally, under an overall, a regional, or a sub-regional closure for a shark species and/or management group, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to §635.4, may purchase or receive a shark of that species group if the sandbar or Research LCS fishery, as applicable, is open and the shark was harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel issued a valid shark research permit (per §635.32) that had a NMFS-approved observer on board during the trip the shark was collected.

(7) If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess, retain, land, or sell sharks.

(c) Swordfish—(1) Directed fishery closure. When the annual or semiannual directed fishery quota specified in §635.27(c)(1)(i) or (ii) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of closure at least 14 days before the effective date. From the effective date and time of the closure until additional directed fishery quota becomes available, the directed fishery for the appropriate stock is closed and the following catch limits apply:

(i) When the directed fishery for the North Atlantic swordfish stock is closed,

(A) No more than 15 swordfish per trip may be possessed in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel using or having on board a pelagic longline, or issued an Incidental HMS squid trawl permit. However, North Atlantic swordfish legally taken prior to the effective date of the closure may be possessed in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5 N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel with a pelagic longline on board, provided the harvesting vessel does no fishing after the closure in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5 N. lat., and reports positions with a vessel monitoring system, as specified in §635.69. Additionally, legally taken swordfish from the South Atlantic swordfish stock may be possessed or landed north of 5 N. lat. provided the harvesting vessel does no fishing on that trip north of 5 N. lat., and reports positions with a vessel monitoring system as specified in §635.69. NMFS may adjust the incidental catch retention limit by filing with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of the change at least 14 days before the effective date. Changes in the incidental catch limits will be based upon the length of the directed fishery closure and the estimated rate of catch by vessels fishing under the incidental catch quota.

(B) No more than 2 swordfish per trip may be possessed in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel that has been issued a handgear permit under §635.4(f)(1) provided that such swordfish were not taken with a harpoon.

(C) No swordfish may be possessed, landed, or sold by vessels issued a Swordfish General Commercial open access permit.

(D) No swordfish may be sold by vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit

(ii) When the directed fishery for the South Atlantic swordfish stock is closed, swordfish from that stock taken incidental to fishing for other species may not be retained.

(2) Incidental catch closure. When the annual incidental catch quota specified in §635.27(c)(1)(i) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file with the Office of the Federal Register for publication notification of closure. From the effective date and time of such notification until additional incidental catch quota becomes available, no swordfish may be landed in an Atlantic coastal state, or be possessed or sold in or from the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. unless the directed fishery is open and the appropriate permits have been issued to the vessel. In the event of a directed and incidental North Atlantic swordfish category closure, South Atlantic swordfish may be possessed in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat. and/or landed in an Atlantic coastal state on a vessel with longline gear onboard, provided that the harvesting vessel does not fish on that trip in the Atlantic Ocean north of 5° N. lat., the fish were taken legally from waters of the Atlantic Ocean south of 5° N. lat., and the harvesting vessel reports positions with a vessel monitoring system as specified in §635.69.

(3) Bluefin tuna Longline category closure. If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess or land any North Atlantic swordfish or bluefin tuna.

(d) Northern albacore tuna. When the annual fishery quota specified in §635.27(e) is reached, or is projected to be reached, NMFS will file a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication. When the fishery for Northern albacore tuna is closed, Northern albacore tuna may not be retained. If the Atlantic Tunas Longline category quota is closed as specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, vessels that have pelagic longline gear on board cannot possess or land any Northern albacore tuna.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §635.28, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§635.29   Transfer at sea and transshipment.

(a) A person who owns or operates a vessel issued a permit, or required to be issued a permit, under §635.4 may not transfer any tuna or tuna-like species, or other HMS, at sea or in port, regardless of where the fish was harvested, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section.

(b) For the purposes of this part, “transfer” means the act of “transshipping” as defined at 50 CFR 300.301. Notwithstanding the definition of “harvest” at §600.10, for the purposes of this part, transfer also includes, but is not limited to, moving or attempting to move a tuna that is on fishing gear or other gear in the water from one vessel to another vessel.

(c) An owner or operator of a vessel for which an Atlantic Tunas Purse Seine category permit has been issued under §635.4 may use an auxiliary vessel (i.e., a skiff) associated with the permitted vessel to assist in routine purse seine fishery operations, provided that the auxiliary vessel has not been issued an Atlantic Tunas or HMS vessel permit and functions only in an auxiliary capacity during routine purse seine operations (i.e., it conducts limited assistance activities such as assistance with purse seine deployment and removal of BFT from the purse seine). The auxiliary vessel may transfer large medium and giant Atlantic BFT to its associated purse seine vessel during routine purse seine operations, provided that the amount transferred does not cause the receiving vessel to exceed its currently authorized vessel allocation, including incidental catch limits.

[79 FR 72559, Dec. 8, 2014, as amended at 80 FR 52204, Aug. 28, 2015]

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§635.30   Possession at sea and landing.

(a) Atlantic tunas. Persons that own or operate a fishing vessel that possesses an Atlantic tuna in the Atlantic Ocean or that lands an Atlantic tuna in an Atlantic coastal port must maintain such Atlantic tuna through offloading either in round form or eviscerated with the head and fins removed, provided one pectoral fin and the tail remain attached. The upper and lower lobes of the tuna tail may be removed for storage purposes as long as the fork of the tail remains intact.

(b) Billfish. Any person that possesses a blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish taken from its management unit or a sailfish taken shoreward of the outer boundary of the EEZ or lands a blue marlin, white marlin, or roundscale spearfish in an Atlantic coastal port must maintain such billfish with its head, fins, and bill intact through offloading. Persons may eviscerate such billfish, but it must otherwise be maintained whole.

(c) Shark. (1) In addition to the regulations issued at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter, a person who owns or operates a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under §635.4 must maintain all the shark fins including the tail naturally attached to the shark carcass until the shark has been offloaded from the vessel, except for under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. While sharks are on board and when sharks are being offloaded, persons issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit under §635.4 are subject to the regulations at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter.

(2) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has a valid Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit may remove the head and viscera of the shark while on board the vessel. At any time when on the vessel, sharks must not have the backbone removed and must not be halved, quartered, filleted, or otherwise reduced. All fins, including the tail, must remain naturally attached to the shark through offloading, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. While on the vessel, fins may be sliced so that the fin can be folded along the carcass for storage purposes as long as the fin remains naturally attached to the carcass via at least a small portion of uncut skin. The fins and tail may only be removed from the carcass once the shark has been landed and offloaded, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.

(3) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit and who lands sharks in an Atlantic coastal port, including ports in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, must have all fins and carcasses weighed and recorded on the weighout slips specified in §635.5(a)(2) and in accordance with part 600, subpart N, of this chapter. Persons may not possess any shark fins not naturally attached to a shark carcass on board a fishing vessel at any time, except under the conditions specified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section. Once landed and offloaded, sharks that have been halved, quartered, filleted, cut up, or reduced in any manner may not be brought back on board a vessel that has been or should have been issued a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit.

(4) Persons aboard a vessel that has been issued or is required to be issued a permit with a shark endorsement must maintain a shark intact through landing and offloading with the head, tail, and all fins naturally attached. The shark may be bled and the viscera may be removed.

(5) A person who owns or operates a vessel that has been issued a Federal commercial smoothhound permit may remove the fins and tail of a smooth dogfish shark prior to offloading if the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section have been met. If the conditions in paragraphs (c)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section have not been met, all fins, including the tail, must remain naturally attached to the smooth dogfish through offloading from the vessel:

(i) The smooth dogfish was caught within waters of the United States located shoreward of a line drawn in such a manner that each point on it is 50 nautical miles from the baseline of an Atlantic State from which the territorial sea is measured, from Maine south through Florida to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shark regional boundary defined in §635.27(b)(1).

(ii) The vessel has been issued both a Federal commercial smoothhound permit and a valid State commercial fishing permit that allows for fishing for smooth dogfish.

(iii) Smooth dogfish make up at least 25 percent of the catch on board at the time of landing.

(iv) Total weight of the smooth dogfish fins landed or found on board a vessel cannot exceed 12 percent of the total dressed weight of smooth dogfish carcasses on board or landed from the fishing vessel.

(d) Swordfish. Persons that own or operate a fishing vessel that possesses a swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean or lands a swordfish in an Atlantic coastal port must maintain such swordfish in round or dressed form through off-loading.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 67 FR 6201, Feb. 11, 2002; 69 FR 53362, Sept. 1, 2004; 71 FR 58173, Oct. 2, 2006; 73 FR 40711, July 15, 2008; 75 FR 30528, June 1, 2010; 75 FR 57702, Sept. 22, 2010; 76 FR 39032, July 5, 2011; 80 FR 73145, Nov. 24, 2015; 84 FR 5377, Feb. 21, 2019]

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§635.31   Restrictions on sale and purchase.

(a) Atlantic tunas. (1) A person that owns or operates a vessel from which an Atlantic tuna is landed or offloaded may sell such Atlantic tuna only if that vessel has a valid HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement; a valid General, Harpoon, Longline, Purse Seine, or Trap category permit for Atlantic tunas; or a valid HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit issued under this part, and the appropriate category has not been closed, as specified at §635.28(a). However, no person may sell a bluefin tuna smaller than the large medium size class. Also, no large medium or giant bluefin tuna taken by a person aboard a vessel with an Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat permit fishing in the Gulf of Mexico at any time, or fishing outside the Gulf of Mexico when the fishery under the General category has been closed, may be sold (see §635.23(c)). A person may sell Atlantic bluefin tuna only to a dealer that has a valid permit for purchasing Atlantic bluefin tuna issued under this part. A person may not sell or purchase Atlantic tunas harvested with speargun fishing gear.

(2) Dealers may purchase Atlantic tunas only from a vessel that has a valid commercial permit for Atlantic tunas issued under this part in the appropriate category and the appropriate category has not been closed, as specified at §635.28(a).

(i) Dealers may purchase Atlantic bluefin tuna only from a vessel that has a valid Federal commercial permit for Atlantic tunas issued under this part in the appropriate category. Vessel owners and operators of vessels that have been issued an Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit can sell bluefin tuna and dealers can purchase bluefin tuna from such vessels only if the Longline category is open, per §635.28(a) and if:

(A) The vessel has met the minimum quota allocation and accounting requirements at §635.15(b)(4) and (5) for vessels departing on a trip with pelagic longline gear aboard, and

(B) The dealer and vessel have met the IBQ program participant requirements at §635.15(a)(2).

(ii) Dealers may first receive BAYS tunas only if they have submitted reports to NMFS according to reporting requirements at §635.5(b)(1)(ii), and only from a vessel that has a valid Federal commercial permit for Atlantic tunas issued under this part in the appropriate category. Vessel owners and operators of vessels that have been issued an Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit can sell BAYS tunas and dealers can purchase BAYS tunas from such vessels only if the Longline category is open per §635.28(a). Individuals issued a valid HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, and operating in the U.S. Caribbean as defined at §622.2 of this chapter, may sell their trip limits of BAYS tunas, codified at §635.24(c), to dealers and non-dealers. Persons may only sell albacore tuna and dealers may only first receive albacore tuna if the northern albacore tuna fishery has not been closed as specified at §635.28 (d).

(3) Dealers or seafood processors may not purchase or sell a BFT smaller than the large medium size class unless it is lawfully imported and is accompanied by a bluefin tuna statistical document, as specified in §300.185(a) of this title.

(4) A BFT in the possession of a dealer or seafood processor is deemed to be from the Atlantic Ocean. However, a BFT will not be deemed to be from the Atlantic Ocean if—

(i) It was landed in a Pacific state and remains in the state of landing, or

(ii) It is accompanied by a bluefin tuna statistical document, as specified in §300.185(a) of this title.

(b) Billfish. Persons may not sell or purchase a billfish taken from its management unit.

(c) Shark. (1) Persons that own or operate a vessel that possesses, retains, or lands a shark from the management unit may sell such shark only if the vessel has a valid commercial shark permit issued under this part. Persons may possess, retain, land, and sell a shark only to a federally-permitted dealer and only when the fishery for that species, management group, region, and/or sub-region has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(b). Persons that own or operate a vessel that has pelagic longline gear onboard can possess, retain, land, and sell a shark only if the Atlantic Tunas Longline category has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(a).

(2) Persons that own or operate a vessel for which a valid Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit has been issued and on which a shark from the management unit is possessed, may sell, barter or trade such shark only to a dealer that has a valid permit for shark issued under this part.

(3) Regulations governing the harvest, possession, landing, purchase, and sale of shark fins are found at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter and in §635.30(c).

(4) Only dealers who have a valid Federal Atlantic shark dealer permit and who have submitted reports to NMFS according to reporting requirements of §635.5(b)(1)(ii) may first receive a shark from an owner or operator of a vessel that has, or is required to have, a valid Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit issued under this part. Dealers may purchase a shark only from an owner or operator of a vessel who has a valid commercial shark permit issued under this part, except that dealers may purchase a shark from an owner or operator of a vessel who does not have a Federal Atlantic commercial shark permit if that vessel fishes exclusively in state waters and does not possess a HMS Angling permit or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to §635.4. Atlantic shark dealers may purchase a sandbar shark only from an owner or operator of a vessel who has a valid shark research permit and who had a NMFS-approved observer onboard the vessel for the trip in which the sandbar shark was collected. Atlantic shark dealers may purchase a shark from an owner or operator of a fishing vessel who has a valid commercial shark permit issued under this part only when the fishery for that species, management group, region, and/or sub-region has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(b). Atlantic shark dealers may first receive a shark from a vessel that has pelagic longline gear onboard only if the Atlantic Tunas Longline category has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(a).

(5) An Atlantic shark dealer issued a permit under this part may first receive shark fins from an owner or operator of a fishing vessel only if the shark fins were harvested in accordance with the regulations found at part 600, subpart N, of this chapter and in §635.30(c).

(6) A dealer issued a permit under this part may not first receive silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks or scalloped, smooth, or great hammerhead sharks from an owner or operator of a fishing vessel with pelagic longline gear on board, or from the owner of a fishing vessel issued both a HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a commercial sale endorsement and a commercial shark permit when tuna, swordfish or billfish are on board the vessel, offloaded from the vessel, or being offloaded from the vessel.

(d) Swordfish. (1) Persons that own or operate a vessel on which a swordfish in or from the Atlantic Ocean is possessed may sell such swordfish only if the vessel has a valid commercial permit for swordfish issued under this part. Persons may offload such swordfish only to a dealer who has a valid permit for swordfish issued under this part; except that individuals issued a valid HMS Commercial Caribbean Small Boat permit, and operating in the U.S. Caribbean as defined at §622.2 of this chapter, may sell swordfish, as specified at §635.24(b)(3), to non-dealers. Persons that own or operate a vessel that has pelagic longline gear onboard can only possess and sell a swordfish if the Atlantic Tunas Longline category has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(a)(4).

(2) Atlantic swordfish dealers may first receive a swordfish harvested from the Atlantic Ocean only from an owner or operator of a fishing vessel that has a valid commercial permit for swordfish issued under this part, and only if the dealer has submitted reports to NMFS according to reporting requirements of §635.5(b)(1)(ii). Atlantic swordfish dealers may first receive a swordfish from a vessel that has pelagic longline gear onboard only if the Atlantic Tunas Longline category has not been closed, as specified in §635.28(a)(3).

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §635.31, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§635.32   Specifically authorized activities.

(a) General. (1) Consistent with the provisions of §600.745 of this chapter, except as indicated in this section, NMFS may authorize activities otherwise prohibited by the regulations contained in this part for the conduct of scientific research, the acquisition of information and data, the enhancement of safety at sea, the purpose of collecting animals for public education or display, the investigation of bycatch, economic discard and regulatory discard, or for chartering arrangements.

(2) Activities subject to the provisions of this section include, but are not limited to: scientific research resulting in, or likely to result in, the take, harvest, or incidental mortality of Atlantic HMS; exempted fishing and educational activities; programs under which regulated species retained in contravention to otherwise applicable regulations may be donated through approved food bank networks; or chartering arrangements. Such activities must be authorized in writing and are subject to all conditions specified in any letter of acknowledgment, EFP, scientific research permit, display permit, chartering permit, or shark research permit issued in response to requests for authorization under this section.

(3) For the purposes of all regulated species covered under this part, NMFS has the sole authority to issue permits, authorizations, and acknowledgments. If a regulated species landed or retained under the authority of this section is subject to a quota, the fish shall be counted against the quota category as specified in the written authorization.

(4) Inspection requirements specified in §635.5(e) apply to the owner or operator of a fishing vessel that has been issued an exempted fishing permit, scientific research permit, display permit, or chartering permit.

(b) Scientific research activities. For the purposes of all species covered under this part regulated under the authority of ATCA, the provisions for research plans under §600.745(a) and reports under §600.745(c)(1) of this chapter are mandatory. In such cases of authorized scientific research activities, NMFS shall issue scientific research permits. For scientific research activities involving the capture of Atlantic sharks, research plans and reports are requested; letters of acknowledgment shall be issued by NMFS as indicated under §600.745(a) of this chapter.

(c) Exempted fishing permits. (1) For activities consistent with the purposes of this section and §600.745(b)(1) of this chapter, other than scientific research conducted from a scientific research vessel, NMFS may issue exempted fishing permits.

(2) [Reserved]

(d) Display permits. (1) For activities consistent with the purposes of this section and §600.745(b)(1) of this chapter, NMFS may issue display permits.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of §600.745 of this chapter and other provisions of this part, a valid display permit is required to fish for, take, retain, or possess an HMS in or from the Atlantic EEZ for the purposes of public display. A valid display permit must be on board the harvesting vessel, must be available when the fish is landed, must be available when the fish is transported to the display facility, and must be presented for inspection upon request of an authorized officer. A display permit is valid for the specific time, area, gear, and species specified on it. Species landed under a display permit shall be counted against the appropriate quota specified in §635.27 or as otherwise provided in the display permit.

(3) To be eligible for a display permit, a person must provide all information concerning his or her identification, numbers by species of HMS to be collected, when and where they will be collected, vessel(s) and gear to be used, description of the facility where they will be displayed, and any other information that may be necessary for the issuance or administration of the permit, as requested by NMFS.

(4) Collectors of HMS for public display must notify the local NMFS Office for Law Enforcement at least 24 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, prior to departing on a collection trip, regardless of whether the fishing activity will occur in or outside the EEZ, as to collection plans and location and the number of animals to be collected. In the event that a NMFS agent is not available, a message may be left.

(5) All live HMS collected for public display are required to have either a conventional dart tag or a microchip Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag applied by the collector at the time of the collection. Both types of tags will be supplied by NMFS. Conventional dart tags will be issued unless PIT tags are specifically requested in the permit application and their use approved by NMFS. Terms and conditions of the permit will address requirements associated with the use of the tags supplied on a case-by-case basis.

(e) Chartering permits. (1) For activities consistent with the purposes of this section, §635.5(a), and §600.745(b)(1) of this chapter, NMFS may issue chartering permits for record keeping and reporting purposes. An application for a chartering permit must include all information required under §600.745(b)(2) of this chapter and, in addition, written notification of: the species of fish covered by the chartering arrangement and quota allocated to the Contracting Party of which the chartering foreign entity is a member; duration of the arrangement; measures adopted by the chartering Contracting Party of which the foreign entity is a member to implement ICCAT chartering provisions; copies of fishing licenses, permits, and/or other authorizations issued by the chartering Contracting Party of which the foreign entity is a member for the vessel to fish under the arrangement; a copy of the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act Permit pursuant to 50 CFR 300.10; documentation regarding interactions with protected resources; and documentation regarding the legal establishment of the chartering company. To be considered complete, an application for a chartering permit for a vessel must include all information specified in §600.745(b)(2) of this chapter and in §635.32(e) and (f).

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of §600.745 of this chapter and other provisions of this part, a valid chartering permit is required to fish for, take, retain, or possess ICCAT-regulated species under chartering arrangements as specified in §635.5(a)(6). A valid chartering permit must be on board the harvesting vessel, must be available when ICCAT-regulated species are landed, and must be presented for inspection upon request of an authorized officer. A chartering permit is valid for the duration of the chartering arrangement or until the expiration date specified on the permit, whichever comes first. Vessels issued a chartering permit shall not be authorized to fish under applicable Atlantic Highly Migratory Species quotas or entitlements of the United States until the chartering permit expires or is terminated.

(3) Charter permit holders must submit logbooks and comply with reporting requirements as specified in §635.5. NMFS will provide specific conditions and requirements in the chartering permit, so as to ensure consistency, to the extent possible, with laws of foreign countries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, as well as ICCAT recommendations.

(4) Observers may be placed on board vessels issued chartering permits as specified under §635.7.

(5) NMFS will issue a chartering permit only if it determines that the chartering arrangement is in conformance with ICCAT's conservation and management programs.

(6) A vessel shall be authorized to fish under only one chartering arrangement at a time.

(7) All chartering permits are subject to sanctions and denials as indicated under §635.4(a)(6).

(f) Shark research permits. (1) For activities consistent with the purposes of this section and §600.745(b)(1) of this chapter, NMFS may issue shark research permits.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of §600.745 of this chapter and other provisions of this part, a valid shark research permit is required to fish for, take, retain, or possess Atlantic sharks, including sandbar sharks, in excess of the retention limits described in §635.24(a). A valid shark research permit must be on board the harvesting vessel, must be available for inspection when the shark is landed, and must be presented for inspection upon request of an authorized officer. A shark research permit is only valid for the vessel and owner(s) combination specified and cannot be transferred to another vessel or owner(s). A shark research permit is only valid for the retention limits, time, area, gear specified, and other terms and conditions as listed on the permit and only when a NMFS-approved observer is onboard. Species landed under a shark research permit shall be counted against the appropriate quota specified in §635.27 or as otherwise provided in the shark research permit.

(3) Regardless of the number of applicants, NMFS will issue only a limited number of shark research permits depending on available quotas as described in §635.27, research needs for stock assessments and other scientific purposes, and the number of sharks expected to be harvested by vessels issued LAPs for sharks.

(4) In addition to the workshops required under §635.8, persons issued a shark research permit, and/or operators of vessels specified on the shark research permit, may be required to attend other workshops (e.g., shark identification workshops, captain's meeting, etc.) as deemed necessary by NMFS to ensure the collection of high quality data.

(5) Issuance of a shark research permit does not guarantee the permit holder that a NMFS-approved observer will be deployed on any particular trip. Rather, permit issuance indicates that a vessel is eligible for a NMFS-approved observer to be deployed on the vessel for a particular trip and that, on such observed trips, the vessel may be allowed to harvest Atlantic sharks, including sandbar sharks, in excess of the retention limits described in §635.24(a).

(6) The shark research permit may be revoked, limited, or modified at any time, does not confer any right to engage in activities beyond those authorized by the permit, and does not confer any right of compensation to the holder.

(g) Applications and renewals. (1) Application procedures shall be as indicated under §600.745(b)(2) of this chapter, except that NMFS may consolidate requests for the purpose of obtaining public comment. In such cases, NMFS may file with the Office of the Federal Register, on an annual or more frequent basis as necessary, notification of previously authorized exempted fishing, scientific research, public display, chartering, and shark research activities and to solicit public comment on anticipated EFP, scientific research permit, letter of acknowledgment, public display, chartering, or shark research permit activities. Applications for EFPs, scientific research permits, public display permits, chartering permits, or shark research permits are required to include all reports specified in the applicant's previous permit including, if applicable, the year-end report, all delinquent reports for permits issued in prior years, and all other specified information. In situations of delinquent reports, applications will be deemed incomplete and a permit will not be issued under this section.

(2) For the shark research permit, NMFS will publish annually, in a Federal Register notice(s), a description for the following fishing year of the expected research objectives. This description may include information such as the number of vessels needed, regions and seasons for which vessels are needed, the specific criteria for selection, and the application deadline. Complete applications, including all information requested in the applicable Federal Register notice(s) and on the application form and any previous reports required pursuant to this section and §635.5, must be received by NMFS by the application deadline in order for the vessel to be considered. Requested information could include, but is not limited to, applicant name and address, permit information, vessel information, availability of the vessel, past involvement in the shark fishery, and compliance with HMS regulations including observer regulations. NMFS will only review complete applications received by the published deadline to determine eligibility for participation in the shark research fishery. Qualified vessels will be chosen based on the information provided on the applications and their ability to meet the selection criteria as published in the Federal Register notice. A commercial shark permit holder whose vessel was selected to carry an observer in the previous two years for any HMS fishery but failed to comply with the observer regulations specified in §635.7 will not be considered. A commercial shark permit holder that has been charged criminally or civilly (i.e., issued a Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) or Notice of Permit Sanction) for any HMS related violation will not be considered for participation in the shark research fishery. Qualified vessels will be randomly selected to participate in the shark research fishery based on their availability and the temporal and spatial needs of the research objectives. If a vessel issued a shark research permit cannot conduct the shark research tasks, for whatever reason, that permit will be revoked and, depending on the status of the research and the fishing year, NMFS will randomly select another qualified vessel to be issued a shark research permit.

(h) Terms and conditions. (1) For EFPs, scientific research permits, and public display permits: Written reports on fishing activities, and disposition of all fish captured under a permit issued under this section must be submitted to NMFS within 5 days of return to port. NMFS will provide specific conditions and requirements as needed, consistent with the Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan, in the permit. If an individual issued a Federal permit under this section captures no HMS in any given month, either in or outside the EEZ, a “no-catch” report must be submitted to NMFS within 5 days of the last day of that month.

(2) For chartering permits, written reports of fishing activities must be submitted to NMFS by a date specified, and to an address designated, in the terms and conditions of each chartering permit.

(3) An annual written summary report of all fishing activities, and disposition of all fish captured, under the permit must be submitted to NMFS for all EFPs, scientific research permits, display permits, and chartering permits issued under this section within 30 days after the expiration date of the permit.

(4) For shark research permits, all owners and/or operators must comply with the recordkeeping and reporting requirements specified in §635.5 per the requirement of holding a LAP for sharks.

(5) As stated in §635.4(a)(6), failure to comply with the recordkeeping and reporting requirements of this section could result in the EFP, scientific research permit, display permit, chartering permit, or shark research permit being revoked, suspended, or modified, and in the denial of any future applications.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 68 FR 63742, Nov. 10, 2003; 68 FR 74786, Dec. 24, 2003; 69 FR 70399, Dec. 6, 2004; 73 FR 40711, July 15, 2008; 75 FR 30528, June 1, 2010]

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§635.33   Archival tags.

(a) Landing an HMS with a surgically implanted archival tag. Notwithstanding other provisions of this part, persons may catch, possess, retain, and land an Atlantic HMS in which an archival tag has been surgically implanted, provided such persons return the tag to the research entity indicated on the tag or to NMFS at an address designated by NMFS and report the fish as required in §635.5.

(b) Quota monitoring. If an Atlantic HMS landed under the authority of paragraph (a) of this section is subject to a quota, the fish will be counted against the applicable quota for the species consistent with the fishing gear and activity which resulted in the catch. In the event such fishing gear or activity is otherwise prohibited under applicable provisions of this part, the fish shall be counted against the reserve or research quota established for that species, as appropriate.

[81 FR 55379, Aug. 19, 2016]

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§635.34   Adjustment of management measures.

(a) NMFS may adjust the IBQ shares or resultant allocations for bluefin tuna, as specified in §635.15; catch limits for bluefin tuna, as specified in §635.23; the overall, regional, and/or sub-regional quotas for bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish, and northern albacore tuna as specified in §635.27; the retention limits for sharks, as specified at §635.24; the regional retention limits for Swordfish General Commercial permit holders, as specified at §635.24; the marlin landing limit, as specified in §635.27(d); and the minimum sizes for Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish as specified in §635.20.

(b) In accordance with the framework procedures in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS may establish or modify for species or species groups of Atlantic HMS the following management measures: Maximum sustainable yield or optimum yield based on the latest stock assessment or updates in the SAFE report; domestic quotas; recreational and commercial retention limits, including target catch requirements; size limits; fishing years or fishing seasons; shark fishing regions, or regional and/or sub-regional quotas; species in the management unit and the specification of the species groups to which they belong; species in the prohibited shark species group; classification system within shark species groups; permitting and reporting requirements; workshop requirements; the IBQ shares or resultant allocations for bluefin tuna; administration of the IBQ program (including but not limited to requirements pertaining to leasing of IBQ allocations, regional or minimum IBQ share requirements, IBQ share caps (individual or by category), permanent sale of shares, NED IBQ rules, etc.); time/area restrictions; allocations among user groups; gear prohibitions, modifications, or use restriction; effort restrictions; observer coverage requirements; EM requirements; essential fish habitat; and actions to implement ICCAT recommendations, as appropriate.

(c) NMFS may add species to the prohibited shark species group specified in heading D, Prohibited Sharks, of Table 1 of appendix A to this part if, after considering the criteria in paragraphs (c)(1) through (4) of this section, the species is determined to meet at least two of the criteria. Alternatively, NMFS may remove species from the prohibited shark species group and place them in the appropriate shark species group in Table 1 of appendix A if, after considering the criteria in paragraphs (c)(1) through (4) of this section, NMFS determines the species only meets one criterion.

(1) Biological information indicates that the stock warrants protection.

(2) Information indicates that the species is rarely encountered or observed caught in HMS fisheries.

(3) Information indicates that the species is not commonly encountered or observed caught as bycatch in fishing operations for species other than HMS.

(4) The species is difficult to distinguish from other prohibited species.

(d) When considering a framework adjustment to add, change, or modify time/area closures and/or gear restricted areas, NMFS will consider, consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law, but is not limited to the following criteria: Any Endangered Species Act related issues, concerns, or requirements, including applicable BiOps; bycatch rates of protected species, prohibited HMS, or non-target species both within the specified or potential closure area(s) and throughout the fishery; bycatch rates and post-release mortality rates of bycatch species associated with different gear types; new or updated landings, bycatch, and fishing effort data; evidence or research indicating that changes to fishing gear and/or fishing practices can significantly reduce bycatch; social and economic impacts; and the practicability of implementing new or modified closures compared to other bycatch reduction options. If the species is an ICCAT managed species, NMFS will also consider the overall effect of the U.S.'s catch on that species before implementing time/area closures, gear restricted areas, or access to closed areas.

[64 FR 29135, May 28, 1999, as amended at 68 FR 74788, Dec. 24, 2003; 71 FR 58173, Oct. 2, 2006; 75 FR 57702, Sept. 22, 2010; 78 FR 52031, Aug. 21, 2013; 79 FR 71606, Dec. 2, 2014; 80 FR 50102, Aug. 18, 2015; 83 FR 33157, July 17, 2018]

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