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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BK54 Publication ID: Fall 2023 
Title: Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Prohibiting Retention of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks in U.S. Atlantic Waters and Hammerhead Sharks in the Caribbean Sea 

Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) fisheries are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA). On May 15, 2020, NOAA Fisheries issued two Biological Opinions (BiOps) under Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These BiOps covered the pelagic longline fishery for Atlantic HMS and the non-pelagic longline HMS fisheries, as managed under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments. The BiOps concluded that the fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species nor adversely affect their designated critical habitat.  The BiOps included conservation recommendations under Section 7(a)(1) of the ESA. These conservation recommendations encouraged the prohibition of the commercial and recreational retention of both scalloped hammerhead sharks (specifically in the Southwest and Caribbean distinct population segments) and oceanic whitetip sharks, both of which are listed as threatened under the ESA. As a result, this action considers implementing this conservation recommendation. Under existing regulations, retention and possession of oceanic whitetip and all hammerhead sharks are prohibited for commercial fishermen using pelagic longline gear; this action would extend the prohibition to commercial shark permit holders using other gears and to recreational permit holders who target or catch sharks. This action is being taken pursuant to the rulemaking authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, sec. 304(g), and ATCA. The Agency's final actions for this rule will be based in part on public comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment, RIR, and IRFA. The comments received were generally supportive of the proposed action; some commenters requested additional protections for scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 635   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  03/22/2023  88 FR 17171   
NPRM Comment Period End  05/22/2023 
Final Action  12/00/2023 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Kelly Denit
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway, Room 13362,
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Phone:301 427-8500