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The draft environmental impact state- ment includes the ecological and socioeco- nomic analyses of the amendment. “All those involved in the bluefin

tuna fi shery -- scientists, managers, fi shers and environmentalists -- share a common concern about the large number of dead discards of incidentally caught bluefin tuna,” said Sam Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The proposed measures that fi led today underscore the nation’s commitment to sus- tainable, science-based management of this vital fi sh stock. These proposed rules help to end overfi shing and are consistent with the rebuilding program for western Atlantic bluefi n tuna.”

The proposed measures in the draft

of Amendment 7 to the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan are designed to control bluefi n tuna landings and dead discards in the pelagic longline fi shery, enhance reporting in all bluefi n tuna fi sheries, and ensure U.S. compliance with binding recommendations of the Interna- tional Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

These proposed measures include:

Revising bluefi n quota allocations among the fi shery participants to increase the allo- cation to the longline fi shery, because dead discards will now be counted against their individual vessel allocations; Allocating individual shares of bluefi n catch (landings and dead discards) to increase accountabil- ity and reduce dead discards in the longline fi shery; Enhancing reporting requirements to improve accounting for dead discards in all bluefi n tuna fi sheries; Allowing longline fi shermen who have demonstrated their ability to avoid bluefi n while fi shing for swordfi sh and other tunas to fi sh in areas where many bluefi n are found, and restrict- ing fi shermen who cannot avoid bluefi n from those areas, and; Prohibiting pelagic longline fi shing for all species when the longline bluefi n quota is reached.

Under these proposed measures, fi sh- ermen will have a strong incentive to avoid catching bluefi n tuna incidentally when pursuing swordfi sh and other Atlantic tunas, since bluefi n tuna catch (landings and dead discards) are proposed to be counted against individual longline vessels. Reaching the bluefi n quota could result in prohibition of further longline fi shing. Atlantic bluefi n tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is regarded as one of the most important and prized species in the ocean. Weighing in upwards of 550 pounds and reaching more than six feet long, bluefi n tuna are near the top of the ocean food chain, giving them an important role in the marine ecosystem. They are also extremely valuable on the commercial market, which makes them particularly vulnerable to unreported and unregulated fi shing internationally. NOAA Fisheries has identifi ed bluefi n tuna as a species of concern, but it is not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries will hold numerous public hearings for this action along the At- lantic Coast, and in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico regions until the comment period closes on October 23.

During these hearings, NOAA Fisheries will accept public comments on the pro- posed management measures. Dates, times and locations of the public hearings will be announced at a later date. In addition, NOAA Fisheries will consult with the Highly Mi- gratory Species Advisory Panel at its public meeting at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel in Silver Spring, Md., September 9 through 12.

Comments may be submitted (iden- tified by “NOAA-NMFS-2013-0101”) through October 23, by using any one of the following methods:

Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Fed- eral e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://!docketDetail;D=-

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NOAA-NMFS-2013-0101, click the “Com- ment Now!” icon, complete the required fi elds, and enter or attach your comments. Mail: Thomas Warren, Highly Mi- gratory Species Management Division, NOAA Fisheries, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930; Fax: 978-281-9340, Attn: Thomas Warren

Copies of the proposed rule and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement are available upon request from the NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Man- agement Division at 978-281-9260, and online at hms/.

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