Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Scientific Research, Exempted Fishing, and Exempted Activity Submissions

Summary:

The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Table of Contents

Dates:

Written comments must be submitted on or before March 14, 2011.

Addresses:

Direct all written comments to Diana Hynek, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at dHynek@doc.gov).

For further information contact:

Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Jackie Wilson, (240) 338-3936 or Jackie.Wilson@noaa.gov.

Supplementary information:

I. Abstract

Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), Scientific Research Permits (SRPs), Display Permits, Letters of Acknowledgment (LOAs), and Shark Research Permits are issued under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801et seq.) and/or theAtlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA) (16 U.S.C. 971et seq.). Issuance of EFPs and related permits are necessary for the collection of Highly Migratory Species (HMS) for public display and scientific research that is exempt from regulations (e.g., seasons, prohibited species, authorized gear, and minimum sizes) that may prohibit the collection of live animals or biological samples. A Display Permit is issued for the collection of HMS for the purpose of public display whereas a Shark Research Permit allows the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and commercial shark fishermen to conduct cooperative research to collect fishery-dependent data for management of the Atlantic shark fishery.

The regulations at 50 CFR 600.745 and 50 CFR 635.32 govern scientific research activity, exempted fishing, and exempted educational activities with respect to Atlantic HMS. Since the Magnuson-Stevens Act does not consider scientific research to be “fishing,” scientific research is exempt from this statute, and NMFS does not issue EFPs for bona fide research activities (e.g., research conducted from a research vessel and not a commercial or recreational fishing vessel) involving species that are regulated only under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (e.g., most species of sharks) and not under ATCA. NMFS requests copies of scientific research plans for these activities and indicates concurrence by issuing a LOA to researchers to indicate that the proposed activity meets the definition of research and is therefore exempt from regulation.

Scientific research is not exempt from regulation under ATCA. NMFS issues SRPs for collection of species managed under this statute (e.g., tunas, swordfish, billfish), which authorize researchers to collect HMS from bona fide research vessels (e.g., NMFS or university research vessel.) NMFS will issue an EFP when research/collection involving Atlantic tunas, swordfish, and billfishes occurs from commercial or recreational fishing platforms.

To regulate these fishing activities, NMFS needs information to determine the justification of granting an EFP, LOA, SRP, Display or Shark Research Permit. The application requirements are detailed at 50 CFR 600.745(b)(2). Interim, annual and no-catch/fishing reports must also be submitted to the HMS Management Division within NMFS. The authority for the HMS Management Division for requiring this information is found at 50 CFR 635.32(a).

II. Method of Collection

Respondents have a choice of either electronic or paper forms. Methods of submittal include e-mail of electronic forms, mail and facsimile transmission of paper forms.

III. Data

OMB Control Number:0648-0471.

Form Number: None.

Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved collection).

Affected Public: Non-profit institutions; State, local, or tribal government; business or other for-profit organizations.

Estimated Number of Respondents:75.

Estimated Time Per Response:2 hours for a scientific research plan; 40 minutes for an application for an EFP, Display Permit, SRP, Shark Research Permit or LOA for HMS; 1 hour for an interim report; 40 minutes for an annual fishing report; 15 minutes for an application for an amendment; 5 minutes for notification of departure phone calls to NMFS Enforcement; 2 minutes for “no-catch” reports; and 2 minutes for tag applications.

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours:236.

Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public:$119 in recordkeeping/reporting costs.

IV. Request for Comments

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

Dated: January 5, 2011. Gwellnar Banks,

Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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