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Editor's note: See 83-Inch Size Limit Announced for Makos. Fifty-four inches was previously the size limit for all shark species legal to bag.

From an email from the National Marine Fisheries Service:

NOAA Fisheries Requests Comments
On Options to Address Overfishing
O f North Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks 

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Amendment to comply with International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) Recommendation 17-08 and address overfishing and establish the foundation for a rebuilding plan for North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. 

The measures initially will be implemented through an interim final rule, under the emergency rulemaking authority of section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. 

Since the interim final rule may only be effective for up to 366 days, NOAA Fisheries is developing a regulatory amendment to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan that will consider and evaluate conservation and management options to address overfishing and to establish a foundation for a rebuilding plan the North Atlantic shortfin mako shark stock when the interim rule has expired.    

NOAA Fisheries announces the scoping phase of this rulemaking process. 

NOAA Fisheries has drafted an issues and options document that summarizes the North Atlantic shortfin mako shark stock assessment and the ICCAT recommendation and offers preliminary ideas on potential management approaches to address overfishing on the stock in order to encourage and initiate public comment. 

NOAA Fisheries has scheduled the following scoping meetings and conference call to take public comment.

Public Scoping Meeting – March 15, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
          National Marine Fisheries Service
          Southeast Fisheries Science Center
          3500 Delwood Beach Road
          Panama City, FL 3240

Public Scoping Meeting – March 21, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
          Commissioners Meeting Room
          Dare County Administration Building
          954 Marshall C. Collins Drive
          Manteo, NC 27954

Conference Call Scoping Meeting – April 4, 2018 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
          To participate in the conference call, please call: (800) 779-3136
          Passcode: 9421185
          To participate in the webinar, click on the RSVP link, A confirmation email with webinar log-in information will be sent after RSVP is registered.

Public Scoping Meeting – April 12, 2018 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
           Stafford Branch Public Library
           129 North Main St
           Manahawkin, NJ 08050

Public Scoping Meeting – April 19, 2018 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
           National Marine Fisheries Service
           Grater Atlantic Regional Office
           55 Great Republic Drive
           Gloucester, MA 01930
Because the rulemakings overlap for some gear types, the public scoping meetings being held in Panama City, FL, Manteo, NC, and Manahawkin, NJ will be held in conjunction with public scoping meetings for pelagic longline bluefin tuna area-based and weak hook management. 

The shortfin mako shark management measure presentation will likely be given first unless polling of the audience indicates another approach is appropriate.

After each presentation, public comment for that issue will be received. 

Meeting attendees interested in this issue are encouraged to show up at the beginning of the meeting to help determine the order of the presentations. 

The second presentation will not start any later than 6 p.m.

In addition to the four scoping meetings and conference call, NOAA Fisheries has requested to present the issues and options presentation to the five Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils (the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils) and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions during the public comment period. 

Please see the Councils’ and Commissions’ spring meeting notices for times and locations. 

NOAA Fisheries welcomes additional thoughts and comments on appropriate management measures. 

The issues and options document is available on the HMS website

Specifically, NOAA Fisheries requests comments on commercial management options including, but not limited to, the ICCAT recommendations, quota levels, electronic monitoring, minimum sizes, retention restrictions, and prohibited species. 

In addition, NOAA Fisheries is seeking comments on recreational management options including, but not limited to, retention limits and restrictions, minimum sizes, gear modifications, landings restrictions and prohibited species. 

NOAA Fisheries also seeks comments on recreational monitoring requirements and the rebuilding program options for shortfin mako sharks. 

Comments received during scoping will assist NOAA Fisheries in determining the options for future proposed rulemaking to conserve and manage shark resources and shark fisheries, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. 

Submit Comments by May 7, 2018:

Written comments, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2018-0011”, may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or mail to the contact information included below.  

All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to Federal eRulemaking Portal without change. 

All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. 

Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. 

NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). 

You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

This notice is a courtesy to Atlantic HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fisheries. 

For further information on these emergency measures, contact the HMS Management Division at (301) 427-8503 or visit the HMS website

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