Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Amendment 18, 82058-82069 [2011-33187]

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82058 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 101206604–1758–02] RIN 0648–BB33 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Amendment 18 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 18 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared and submitted by the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils). This rule removes species from the FMP; modifies the framework procedures; establishes two migratory groups for cobia; and establishes annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs) for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. In addition, Amendment 18 sets allocations for Atlantic migratory group cobia and establishes control rules for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. The intent of this rule is to specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining sustainable catch levels. DATES: This rule is effective January 30, 2012. Written comments specific to the revisions to § 622.44(b)(2) must be received on or before January 30, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the specific revisions contained in this final rule to § 622.44(b)(2), identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011– 0202’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, click on ‘‘submit a comment,’’ then enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2011–0202’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search.’’ To view posted comments during the comment period, enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0202’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search.’’ NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not be considered. Electronic copies of Amendment 18, which includes an environmental assessment and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ MackerelHomepage.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone: (727) 824– 5305, or email: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The coastal migratory pelagic (CMP) fishery in the Gulf and the Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Councils and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On September 29, 2011, NMFS published a notice of availability for Amendment 18 and requested public comment (76 FR 60444). On October 24, 2011, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 18 and requested public comment (76 FR 65662). The proposed rule and Amendment 18 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by this final rule are provided below. Removal of Species from the FMP The Councils have determined that cero, little tunny, dolphin (in the Gulf), and bluefish (in the Gulf) are not in need of Federal management and will therefore be removed from the FMP with this final rule. The species were originally included in the FMP ‘‘for data collection purposes,’’ but data collection PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 on any species is required of fishermen and dealers that hold Federal permits, regardless of the presence of that species in an FMP. If landings or effort change for any of these species and the Councils determine management at the Federal level is needed, these species could be added back into the FMP at a later date. Cobia Migratory Groups This final rule establishes two migratory groups for cobia, a Gulf migratory group and an Atlantic migratory group. The boundary is the line of demarcation between the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the South Atlantic EEZ. ACLs and AMs are established separately for each migratory group. The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group cobia is 1.46 million lb (0.66 million kg) and for Atlantic migratory group cobia, the stock ACL is 1,571,399 lb (712,775 kg). However, this rule does not change the current possession limit of two cobia per person per day for either commercial or recreational fishermen. Gulf Migratory Group King Mackerel For Gulf migratory group king mackerel, this final rule establishes separate ACLs and AMs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on sector allocations. The commercial sector AMs will close by zone, subzone, or gear type when the commercial quota for the applicable zone, subzone, or gear type is reached or is projected to be reached. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the commercial sector quota which is set for the 2012 to 2013 fishing year at 3.808 million lb (1.728 million kg) and for the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, at 3.456 million lb (1.568 million kg). For Gulf migratory group king mackerel, the recreational sector ACL is set at 8.092 million lb (3.670 million kg). In addition, current trip limit adjustments will remain in place as specified at § 622.44(a)(2). For the recreational sector AMs, the Regional Administrator will have the authority to revert the bag and possession limit to zero if the recreational allocation (recreational ACL) is reached or projected to be reached. This bag and possession limit would also apply on board a vessel for which a valid charter vessel/headboat permit has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 82059 Atlantic Migratory Group King Mackerel Atlantic Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel stock ACL is 1.46 million lb (0.66 million kg). For Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, this final rule establishes separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on sector allocations. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the commercial quota of 3.88 million lb (1.76 million kg). This rule also sets a stock ACL and an ACT for the recreational sector. The recreational ACT for the commercial sector is set at 6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg and the stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel is 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg). The AM for the commercial sector is that the sector will close when the commercial ACL is reached or projected to be reached. When the commercial sector closes, harvest and possession of king mackerel would be prohibited for persons aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for king mackerel has been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter vessel/headboat permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, harvest and possession of king mackerel would be limited to the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase of king mackerel would be prohibited, including king mackerel taken under the bag or possession limits, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. For the recreational sector AM, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any year, the bag limit will be reduced the next fishing year by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL. A payback will be assessed if Atlantic migratory group king mackerel are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded, and will include a reduction in the sector ACL for the following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the prior fishing year. For Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel, this final rule establishes separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on sector allocations. This rule also sets an ACT for the recreational sector. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the commercial sector quota of 3.13 million lb (1.42 million kg). The recreational sector ACT is 2.32 million lb (1.05 million kg) and the recreational sector ACL is 2.56 million lb (1.16 million kg). The AM for the commercial sector is that the commercial sector will close when the commercial quota is reached or projected to be reached. In addition, current trip limit adjustments will remain in place as specified at § 622.44(b). When the commercial sector closes, harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited for persons aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for Spanish mackerel has been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter vessel/headboat permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel would be limited to the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, including Spanish mackerel taken under the bag or possession limits, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. For the recreational sector AM, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any year, the bag limit will be reduced the next fishing year by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year. A payback will be assessed if the Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The payback will include a reduction in the sector ACL for the following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the prior fishing year. Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia This final rule also establishes separate ACLs for Atlantic migratory group cobia for the commercial and recreational sectors based on sector allocations and establishes sector AMs. Amendment 18 sets an allocation of 8 percent of the ACL for the commercial sector and 92 percent of the ACL for the recreational sector. This rule also sets an ACT for the recreational sector. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the commercial sector quota of 125,712 lb (57,022 kg). The AM is that the commercial sector would close when the commercial ACL is reached or projected to be reached. Sale and purchase of cobia would be prohibited, including cobia taken under the possession limit, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. The recreational sector ACT is set at 1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg) and the recreational sector ACL is set at 1,445,687 (655,753 kg). The AM to be implemented for the recreational sector is that if the stock ACL is exceeded in any year, the fishing season will be reduced the following year by the amount necessary to ensure that recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year. A payback will be assessed if Atlantic migratory group cobia are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The payback will include a reduction in the sector ACL for the following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the prior fishing year. wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 Gulf Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel This final rule establishes stock ACLs and AMs for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. For AMs for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel, both the commercial and recreational sectors will close when the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached. Harvest, possession, sale, and purchase of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel is 5.15 million lb (4.75 million kg). VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 Gulf Migratory Group Cobia Modification of Generic Framework Procedures To facilitate timely adjustments to harvest parameters and other management measures, this final rule revises the current framework procedures. This revision gives the Councils and NMFS greater flexibility to more promptly alter harvest parameters and other management measures as new scientific information becomes available. This final rule establishes stock ACLs and AMs for Gulf migratory group cobia. A stock ACT will be set that is 90 percent of the ACL. The AMs to be implemented are that both the commercial and recreational sectors will close when the stock ACT is reached or projected to be reached. For Gulf migratory group cobia, the stock ACT is 1.31 million lb (0.59 million kg) and the Comments and Responses NMFS received public comment submissions from 11 individuals and one non-governmental organization on Amendment 18 and the proposed rule. Two Federal agencies also submitted letters stating they had no comment on the rule. Four comments were generally in favor of the amendment and three were generally in opposition. Five PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 82060 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations comments suggested additional management measures for coastal migratory species including changing the fishing year for cobia in the Atlantic, increasing the minimum size limit for cobia, buying back king mackerel Federal permits, increasing the commercial quota for the Gulf’s Florida west coast subzone, and requiring fishermen to declare in which zone they will fish for mackerel. These management measures are not included in Amendment 18 but may be considered in future amendments and framework actions. Comments that pertain to specific actions addressed in Amendment 18 or the proposed rule are summarized and responded to below. Comment 1: Spanish mackerel (Atlantic migratory group) show signs of rebuilding and last year’s large yearclass will increase the chance of a commercial closure in 2012. The 2008 stock assessment used poor data and was rejected; the ABC shouldn’t be reduced because of that mistake. The ABC and ACL should stay at the current 7.04 million lb (3.19 million kg) until the 2012 assessment is complete. Response: Because the most recent assessment was rejected, the South Atlantic Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) determined the ABC for Spanish mackerel would be calculated using the ABC control rule for unassessed species. Originally, they had used the median of landings, which is appropriate for stocks where an increase in catch would lead to a decline in stock or stock concerns, according to the control rule. After reconsidering the ABC for Spanish mackerel, they determined an increase in catch would not lead to a decline in stock or stock concerns, so the 80th percentile, or in this case the third highest landings over a 10 year period, was set as the ABC. The ABC and ACL for Spanish mackerel will likely change after the 2012 stock assessment; however, the Councils and their SSCs chose to be relatively precautionary in their establishment of an ABC and ACL at this time. Comment 2: Do not specify a recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. Response: ACTs provide a buffer from the ACL to account for management uncertainty. Because recreational landings are survey based, there is greater uncertainty associated with those data than for commercial landings information that are reported by dealers. Establishment of an ACT will help keep landings from exceeding the ACL and triggering AMs. A recreational ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is also consistent with the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 recreational ACTs set for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel and cobia. Comment 3: The entire timeframe should be used for allocation of cobia (Atlantic migratory group) between the commercial and recreational sectors. Response: The allocation chosen by the Councils was based on landings from the years 2000–2008, with greater weight given to landings during 2006– 2008. The Councils determined this method best reflected how the fishery is currently prosecuted. Comment 4: NMFS should disapprove the action to remove species. The rule does not provide a scientifically sound justification for removing species from Federal management and may put those populations unknowingly at risk of overfishing. It is not clear how removing these species from any conservation and management without strong justification and much more thorough analysis accomplishes any of the following: prevents overfishing and protects, restores and promotes the long-term health of the fishery; rebuilds, restores or maintains fishery resources and the marine environment; or avoids irreversible or long-term adverse effects on fishery resources and the marine environment. Response: According to National Standard 7 guidelines, the MagnusonStevens Act requires Councils to prepare FMPs only for overfished fisheries and for other fisheries where regulation would serve some useful purpose and where the present or future benefits of regulation would justify the costs. The guidelines further state that the principle implicit in National Standard 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is that not every fishery needs regulation. As thoroughly discussed in Amendment 18, an analysis of the factors contained in the National Standard 7 guidelines does not support the retention in the FMP of the species currently sought to be removed. The species in question were originally placed in the FMP to assure that they would be included in any monitoring programs, rather than because they were considered to be in need of management. These species have been in the management unit since 1983 without any Federal regulations, and there is no reason to believe additional fisheries will develop now to target and harvest these and other species not included in the management unit for the FMP. The overfishing status of these stocks is unknown, except that little tunny in the Gulf are not undergoing overfishing. During the development of both Councils’ respective ACL amendments, the SSCs PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 met multiple times to set ABCs and OFLs for federally managed species, including many unassessed stocks. However, the SSCs never included cero, little tunny, bluefish, or dolphin (in the Gulf) in their deliberations. The indication is they had no concern that these stocks are in need of additional management. Future overfishing or risks to these species would not be expected to occur without NMFS knowledge. Species that are removed by this final rule will continue to have their commercial and recreational landings monitored through standard record-keeping requirements of the Marine Recreational Information Program and commercial trip ticket records. Should a substantial change in landings or effort be noted, or should some other concern indicating a need for conservation arise, the Councils could develop a plan amendment to add the species back into the management unit. If the species were retained in the FMP, the Councils would have to follow the same plan amendment process or implement new measures via the framework process established in the FMP. Therefore, retention of species in the FMP would not significantly improve the timeliness of implementing the action. Comment 5: Four species are removed from the FMU even though they have a high level of landings compared to the criteria used by these Councils to justify the removal of species from Federal management in other amendments. Three of the four species (i.e., bluefish, little tunny, and dolphinfish) have substantial fisheries, primarily in the recreational sector and in waters off Florida’s coast. In addition, one species (cero) may have identification or reporting issues with similar species. Response: Decisions whether to retain species in the FMP are necessarily made on a case by case basis consistent with the principles established in the MSA and the National Standard guidelines. Landings criteria were not as explicitly evaluated in Amendment 18 as they were in other FMPs and by other councils. The landings criteria developed for other ACL amendments to each FMP in the Gulf, South Atlantic, and the Caribbean considered specific characteristics of the fishery and the species. For example, for the Gulf reef fish fishery, average landings needed to be 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or less (among other criteria) for a species to be considered for removal; for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery, less than 5 percent of landings (among other criteria) must come from Federal waters for a species to be considered for removal. E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Criteria based on landings level or harvest location were not used in Amendment 18 because the species included are so vastly different from one another that a single criterion would not be practical. Landings that are ‘‘high’’ for one stock may be ‘‘low’’ for another stock. Instead, guidelines for National Standard 7 were used to determine if a stock is in need of Federal management. This guidance gives seven factors, each of which was considered for the four species in question. NMFS recognizes that cero are often mistaken for king mackerel; however, best available data indicate that cero are caught infrequently and in low numbers. ACLs for species with very low landings do not provide meaningful management benchmarks. Further, the difficulty in tracking landings and monitoring could prove costly to implement. Therefore, the benefits of imposing an ACL on a species with such low landings would not justify the costs. In addition, since 1983, the Councils have not found a need to impose regulations on cero, and no benefit of doing so now is apparent. Councils should prepare FMPs only for overfished fisheries and for other fisheries where regulation would serve some useful purpose and where the present or future benefits of regulation would justify the costs. Comment 6: Amendment 18 ignores available data with which to set catch limits for these species proposed for removal. Peer-reviewed, scientifically valid methods have been developed that provide a means to develop catch levels for species for which catch or landings statistics are the primary data available. The amendment does not analyze state regulations for the four species to determine whether they are sufficient or whether the state managing agencies will extend their management into Federal waters. The rule relies on criteria of National Standard 7 to provide the rationale for this action without sufficient analysis. Response: Landings data for all four species proposed for removal are provided in Section 1 of Amendment 18. The decision to remove species was not based on availability of data, but on the need for Federal management. If the species were retained in the FMP, landings data could be used to set ACLs for some species, although ACLs for species with very low landings (e.g., cero) would not provide meaningful management benchmarks. However, despite addressing other unassessed species, neither Council’s SSC chose to develop ABC or overfishing limit recommendations upon which an ACL could be based. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 No Federal regulations currently exist for these species, but some states have regulations for CMP species that apply to fishing in state waters. For example, Florida has a size and recreational bag limit for dolphin in state waters. If Federal management does not exist, states have always had the option to extend their regulations into Federal waters, but chose not to. Because the fishery for these species has proceeded under this scenario for many years, removal of these species from the FMP retains the same level of regulation as the status quo. As set forth fully in Amendment 18, landings data for all four species proposed for removal are provided in Section 1 of Amendment 18. National Standard 7 has seven factors to be considered when determining if a stock is in need of Federal management. Each was considered for the species proposed for removal and has been adequately analyzed in Amendment 18. National Standard 7 implicitly states that every fishery does not need regulation. If it is subsequently determined a removed species is in need of Federal management, the species could be added back into the FMU through the FMP amendment process. Changes From the Proposed Rule The adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel was revised. When finalizing the commercial ACL, which equals the commercial quota specified at § 622.42(c)(2)(ii), NMFS realized that the adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel needed to be revised as well. The adjusted commercial quota is relevant to trip limits for the commercial sector and is specified at § 622.44(b)(2), but it was inadvertently not changed in the proposed rule. In this final rule, NMFS revises the adjusted quota from 3.63 million lb (1.64 million kg) to 2.88 million lb (1.31 million kg) as a result of the ACL designated through this rulemaking. In addition, language was added to § 622.44(b)(2) to clarify that while the intent of the adjusted quota is to allow continued harvest after the adjusted quota is reached, total harvest for the fishing year is still necessarily constrained by the ACL and AM contained in § 622.49(h)(4). This means that if the ACL is reached, commercial harvest will not be able to occur for the remainder of the fishing year, even with the implementation of the 500 lb (227 kg) trip limit. Public comment is solicited regarding the adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel as this adjusted PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 82061 quota had not been provided in the proposed rule for Amendment 18. Following the comment period ending January 30, 2012, NMFS will publish in the Federal Register rulemaking that discusses any relevant comments and that this action is in effect. Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the species within Amendment 18 and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), as required by section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, for this final rule. The FRFA describes the economic impact this final rule is expected to have on small entities. A description of the rule, why it is being considered, the objectives of, and legal basis for this rule are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA follows. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. No significant issues were raised by public comments in response to the IRFA. Therefore, no changes were made in the final rule as a result of such comments. This final rule affects all fishing in the EEZ that is managed under the FMP. This includes the EEZ in the Gulf and South Atlantic, as well as the EEZ in the Mid-Atlantic for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. For purposes of fishery management, Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups have been designated for each of the mackerels, and, under this rule, cobia. This final rule is expected to apply to 1,000 to 2,000 commercial fishing vessels and as many as 2,500 vessels that have Federal permits to engage in for-hire fishing for CMP species. The commercial fishing vessels expected to be affected by this final rule are estimated to average $28,000 to $46,000 (2008 dollars) in gross revenue per vessel for vessels fishing for king and Spanish mackerel, and $16,000 to $277,000 for vessels harvesting other CMP species (the lower value is for vessels harvesting cero while the upper value is for vessels harvesting dolphin; E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 82062 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations this range encompasses the vessels harvesting all the remaining CMP species). The for-hire vessels expected to be affected by this rule are mostly charter boats, which charge by the trip, often with six or fewer anglers (paying passengers), and a smaller number of head boats, which charge for each individual angler (only 15 percent of all of the vessels possessing a for-hire permit for CMP species can carry more than six anglers). Including revenue from all activities, charter boats are estimated to average approximately $88,000 (2008 dollars) in gross revenue per year, while headboats average approximately $461,000 (2008 dollars). The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A business involved in commercial finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A for-hire business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries). Based on the average revenue estimates provided above, all commercial and for-hire fishing vessels expected to be directly affected by this final rule are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business entities. The actions in this final rule can be classified into three categories: (1) Actions that are jointly applicable to the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups; (2) actions that are applicable to only the Gulf migratory groups; and (3) actions that are applicable to only the South Atlantic migratory groups. All of the actions in this final rule that are jointly applicable to the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups are either administrative or allow status quo harvest behavior. As a result, none of these actions are expected to result in any direct economic impacts on small entities. With the exception of the AMs for the Gulf migratory groups of king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, the actions in this final rule applicable to the Gulf migratory groups are either administrative or allow status quo harvests and fishing behavior. As a result, these actions are not expected to result in any direct economic impacts VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 on small entities. The AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, if triggered, will result in unquantifiable short-term reductions in economic benefits as a result of the harvest restrictions implemented to correct for harvest overages, should such overages be forecast or occur. These impacts cannot be quantified at this time because the overages, and necessary corrections, cannot be forecast. However, any harvest correction, and associated reduction in short-term economic benefits, will aid the preservation of the long-term biological goals and economic benefits associated with the harvest of these stocks. Because the majority of the actions in this final rule applicable to the Atlantic migratory groups are either administrative or allow status quo harvests and fishing behavior, few economic effects are expected to occur. Only the Spanish mackerel ACL and AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, if triggered, are expected to result in direct adverse economic impacts. The specification of the Spanish mackerel ACL is expected to result in a reduction in ex-vessel revenue to commercial fishermen of approximately $680,000 because of the reduction in the allowable commercial harvest and the AM requirement that harvest, possession, and sale of Spanish mackerel be prohibited when the commercial quota is met. The economic activity associated with this reduced revenue is an estimated 17 harvester and 10 dealer/processor full-time equivalent jobs. The relative effect of this estimated reduction per small entity is unknown. For the 2004/2005 through 2008/2009 fishing years, an average of 349 vessels recorded Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel harvests in the Southeast Federal logbook program. These vessels averaged approximately $28,000 in ex-vessel revenue per vessel per year from all species recorded in the logbook. If divided among these vessels, the estimated reduction in Spanish mackerel revenue equates to a reduction in average vessel gross revenue of approximately 7 percent. These results do not include any reduction in gross revenue for other species if trips are cancelled as a result of a prohibition on Spanish mackerel commercial harvest. Total Federal logbook-recorded landings of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel accounted for approximately 57 percent (approximately 2.03 million lb (0.9 million kg)) of the total Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel harvest (approximately 3.57 million lb (1.62 million kg)) during this period. A significant portion of the difference PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 between these harvest totals may be attributed to harvest in Florida state waters where Federal permits and logbooks are not required for the harvest or possession of Spanish mackerel. The average annual revenue profile of the vessels that harvested the remaining portion (43 percent) of Spanish mackerel is unknown. As a result, the total relative effect of the projected reduction in ex-vessel revenue on the profit of all affected commercial vessels is not known. Similar to the discussion of the effects of the Gulf migratory group AMs, the AMs for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, if triggered, will result in unquantifiable short-term reductions in economic benefits as a result of the harvest restrictions implemented to correct for harvest overages, should such overages be forecast or occur. These impacts cannot be quantified at this time because the overages, and necessary corrections, cannot be forecast. However, any harvest correction, and associated reduction in short-term economic benefits, will aid the preservation of the long-term biological goals and economic benefits associated with the harvest of these stocks. Three alternatives, including 13 options or sub-options, were considered for the action to modify the FMU. This final rule incorporates 7 of the 13 options and sub-options and removes cero, little tunny, and dolphin from the FMP for both the Gulf and South Atlantic regions, and removes bluefish from the FMP for the Gulf region. The no-action alternative, which would retain the four subject species in the FMP for data-collection purposes only, was not adopted because it would not satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines, which do not allow species to be retained in an FMU for data collection purposes only. The third alternative would add the four species to the FMU and set ACLs and AMs for each, following the stated geographic designations. This alternative was not adopted because the Councils determined that these species no longer require Federal management in the respective regions. This action is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on small entities. Five alternatives, including three options, were considered for the action to modify the framework procedures. The no-action alternative would not change the framework procedures and was not adopted because it is not consistent with current assessment and management methods. The remaining alternatives were not adopted either because they would either allow fewer E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations or more management aspects to be changed through framework procedures, or would give the Councils and NMFS either too much or too little authority to change management outside of the plan amendment process. This action is administrative in nature and is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on small entities. Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish separate Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups of cobia. This rule separates cobia into two groups at the Gulf and South Atlantic jurisdictional boundary. The no-action alternative would not split cobia into two migratory groups and was not adopted because the Councils determined that sufficient information exists to demonstrate there are at least two cobia migratory groups and regional management is appropriate. The third alternative would establish two migratory groups and split the migratory group jurisdiction at the Miami-Dade/ Monroe County line. This alternative was not adopted because the Councils determined that it would not best meet the goals and objectives established for the FMP. This action is administrative in nature and is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on small entities. Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group cobia. This rule establishes a single stock ACL and sets the ACL equal to the ABC. The noaction alternative was not adopted because it would not establish an ACL, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Another alternative would also set the total ACL equal to the ABC, but would specify recreational and commercial sector ACLs. This alternative was not adopted because both sectors are currently managed with the same harvest restrictions and sector separation would not be expected to be beneficial at this time. The remaining alternatives and associated options would establish a buffer between the ACL and ABC and result in lower stock or sector ACLs. These alternatives and options were not adopted because the Councils elected to establish a buffer to the ABC for this species through the ACT rather than the ACL. Three alternatives, including four options, were considered for the action to set the ACT for Gulf migratory group cobia. This final rule specifies a single stock ACT and sets the ACT equal to 90 percent of the ACL. The no-action alternative would not establish an ACT, but would be an acceptable action because an ACT is not required. This alternative was not adopted because the Councils determined that a buffer VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 between the ABC and allowable harvest was appropriate for this stock and the adoption of the no-action alternative would be inconsistent with the Councils’ decision to establish this buffer through the ACT instead of the ACL. The other options were not adopted because they would establish sector ACTs, which would be inconsistent with the decision to establish a single stock ACL, and/or they would specify a lower stock ACT than this rule and, thereby, establish a larger buffer than is expected to be necessary for this stock. Three alternatives, including seven options (options listed under the noaction alternative were not included in this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf migratory group cobia. This rule sets an in-season AM and prohibits harvest for the remainder of the fishing year from the date the ACT is reached or is projected to be reached. AMs for the commercial harvest of this stock do not exist under the status quo. As a result, the no-action alternative was not adopted because it would not establish AMs that account for the harvest from all sectors, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Two options to the rule would also establish in-season AMs but would trigger the AMs when 90 percent of the ACT is reached or is projected to be reached. Both options would reduce the possession limit to one fish per person per day, but only one option would prohibit possession of cobia and only if the ACL is reached. These options were not adopted because just reducing the possession limit would provide insufficient assurance that the ACL would not be exceeded and data monitoring issues in tandem with the minimal buffer between the AM trigger and the ACT would likely render adjustment at the 90-percent threshold ineffective. The remaining alternative and associated four options would establish post-season AMs, each varying in method (overage payback, reduction in possession limit, reduced season) or period of assessment (the overage assessment would be based on multiyear averages). These options were not adopted because the Councils determined that in-season assessment would be more effective in ensuring the ACL is not exceeded. This action is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on small entities because the ACT (1.31 million lb (0.59 million kg)) exceeds the estimated status-quo harvest (1.07 million lb (0.49 million kg)) for Gulf migratory group cobia. Five alternatives, including 12 options, were considered for the action PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 82063 to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group king mackerel. This final rule sets the aggregate (stock) ACL equal to the ABC, and sets sector ACLs using current allocation percentages. The no-action alternative would set the stock ACL equal to the current total allowable catch (TAC), and was not adopted because the TAC is less than the ABC and, as a result, would have resulted in less economic benefits than the stock ACL set by this final rule. The remaining three alternatives would set the stock ACL at 80–90 percent of ABC, and were not adopted because each would have allowed lower harvest, and associated economic benefits, than this final rule, and the Councils have determined that the condition of this stock and level of management uncertainty does not require a buffer between the ACL and ABC. The stock ACL set by this final rule is expected to allow continued average annual harvest. As a result, this action is not expected to result in any direct economic impacts on small entities. Three alternatives, including 7 options or sub-options (options and suboptions listed under the no-action alternative were not included in this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf migratory group king mackerel. This rule adopts the no-action alternative and does not set new AMs for this stock. The alternatives, and associated options or sub-options, to this final rule can be divided into two general categories: alternatives that would change the current in-season AMs (two options), and alternatives that would set postseason AMs (two options encompassing five sub-options). None of these options or sub-options were adopted because the Councils determined that current Federal regulations provide sufficient AMs for the recreational and commercial sectors. This action is not expected to have any direct economic impact on small entities. Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered for the action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. This final rule sets the aggregate ACL equal to the ABC and establishes a single stock ACL encompassing harvest by both the recreational and commercial sectors. The no-action alternative would maintain an ACL equal to the current TAC. This alternative was not adopted because the ACL cannot exceed the ABC and the status quo TAC is greater than the proposed ABC. Some options to the rule would establish sector ACLs. These options were not adopted because the Councils determined the establishment of sector ACLs would unnecessarily E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 82064 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations restrict catch. The remaining two alternatives, encompassing six options, would specify a single stock ACL as a portion of ABC (80 percent or 90 percent of ABC). These alternatives and options would result in less economic benefits than this final rule and were not adopted because the Councils determined that a buffer between the ACL and ABC was not needed for this stock. Three alternatives, including six options or sub-options (options and suboptions listed under the no-action alternative were not included in this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. This rule establishes in-season AMs that allow harvest of Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel to be prohibited if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to be reached. The no-action alternative would maintain current Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel AMs and was not adopted because the current AMs are implemented by sector and are inconsistent with the decision to establish a single stock ACL. One option within Amendment 18 would establish in-season AMs that implement a commercial trip limit and reduced recreational bag limits if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to be reached. This option was not adopted because it would require multiple in-season actions and may result in a lower certainty that the ACL not be exceeded compared to this final rule as it would not be prohibited to harvest Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The remaining alternative and associated options would establish post-season AMs. These options were not adopted because they would be expected to impose an increased and unnecessary burden on fishermen and the administration. This action is not expected to have any short-term economic impact on small entities because the stock ACL (5.15 million lb (2.34 million kg)) is greater than the 5year average (3.63 million lb (1.65 million kg)) or 10-year average (3.95 million lb (1.79 million kg) landings. Five alternatives, including five options, were considered for the action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. This final rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC, with the ABC set equal to the average of the current South Atlantic Council’s SSC’s ABC recommendations for the 2011–2013 seasons. This results in an ACL of 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg). The no-action alternative was not adopted because it would not have resulted in as concise of a methodology for setting the ACL and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 OY and would have resulted in a lower ACL, 10.0 million lb (4.54 million kg). Two alternatives to this final rule would also set the ACL and OY equal to the ABC but would set the ABC equal to the lowest and highest SSC recommended ABCs for 2011–2013, respectively. These alternatives were not adopted because they were determined to be excessively or insufficiently conservative, respectively. The final alternative for this action, which included five options, would set the ACL and OY equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 65–90 percent. These options were not adopted because the Councils determined that the status and management certainty of the king mackerel stock did not require a buffer between the ACL or OY and the ABC. Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. This final rule sets the ACT based on the uncertainty associated with the estimate of the ACL and results in a recreational sector ACT of 6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg), which is less than the recreational sector ACL, but greater than current average annual harvests. As a result, this action is not expected to result in any reduction in current recreational harvest or associated economic benefits to small entities. The no-action alternative would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the Councils determined that the management uncertainty associated with the recreational harvest of this stock is sufficient to require a buffer between allowable harvest and the ACL. The two remaining alternatives for this action would set the recreational sector ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted because each would result in an ACT that was less reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL and each of these alternatives would result in a lower recreational harvest, and reduced economic benefits, than this final rule. Four alternatives, including ten options, were considered for the action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. This final rule includes seven of the options spread over three alternatives. This final rule continues in-season quota monitoring and closure if the commercial sector ACL is met or projected to be met, as occurs under the status quo, and adopts post-season adjustments. These adjustments include reduction in the recreational bag limit, based on moving multi-year average harvests, to assure that the recreational sector ACL is not exceeded. Post-season bag limit reduction will only occur, PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 however, if the stock ACL (both sectors) is exceeded. Post-season overage payback will be required for both sectors, where appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The no-action alternative would continue the current quota monitoring for the commercial sector, and closure when appropriate; it also includes authority under the framework procedures for the Regional Administrator to implement several actions, including reduction of the recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational allocation has been met or is projected to be met. This alternative was not adopted because it would not have been as flexible as the procedures established by this final rule in factoring in the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. One option within Amendment 18 would reduce the length of the subsequent recreational fishing season instead of a reduction in the bag limit in the event of a recreational overage. This alternative was not adopted because allowing the sector to continue harvest all year under a reduced bag limit, as will be allowed under this rule, is expected to result in more economic benefits than a closed season. The remaining options for this action would impose sector paybacks regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted because each would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in economic benefits. Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. This final rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC. The no-action alternative was not adopted because it would not result in as concise a procedure as the preferred alternative to determine the ACL based on the ABC, and the resultant ACL would exceed the proposed ABC, which would be inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 guidelines (January 16, 2009, 74 FR 3178). The third alternative for this action, which included five options, would set the ACL equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 75–95 percent. These options were not adopted because they would be inconsistent with the determination by the Councils that specification of a buffer for this stock could be adequately accomplished through the ACT. Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. In this final rule, the recreational sector Atlantic migratory E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations group Spanish mackerel ACT will be based on the uncertainty associated with the estimate of the sector ACL, and will equal 2.32 million lb (1.05 million kg), which is less than the recreational sector ACL, but greater than current average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in current harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts on small entities in the recreational sector is expected to occur. The noaction alternative would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the Councils determined that the management uncertainty associated with the recreational harvest of this stock requires a buffer between allowable harvest and the ACL. The two remaining alternatives would set the recreational sector ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted because they would result in an ACT that was less reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL. Each of these alternatives would also result in a lower recreational harvest and reduced economic benefits than the ACT established by this rule. Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. This rule includes six of the options spread over three alternatives. This rule will result in enhanced quota monitoring for the commercial sector and impose post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on moving multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the bag limit to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded, if the stock ACL is exceeded. This final rule will also result in sector payback, where appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The noaction alternative would continue the current quota monitoring and staged trip limits for the commercial sector in place of sector closure. The no-action alternative also includes authority under the framework procedures for the RA to implement several actions, including reduction of the recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational allocation has been met or is projected to be met. This alternative was not adopted because it would not be as flexible in factoring in the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. This alternative was also not adopted because it would not provide for an inseason closure for the commercial sector. In the event of a sector overage, one option within Amendment 18 would have reduced the length of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 subsequent recreational fishing season (no reduction in the bag limit) to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded. This option was not adopted because it would result in lower economic benefits than this final rule. The remaining two options would have imposed sector paybacks regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted because each would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in economic benefits. Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC. The noaction alternative was not adopted because it would not set the ACL or OY, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The third alternative, which included five options, would set the ACL and OY equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 75–95 percent. These options were not adopted because the Councils determined that specification of a buffer for this stock could be adequately accomplished through the ACT. Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This final rule sets the ACT based on the uncertainty associated with the estimate of the ACL and results in a recreational sector ACT of 1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg), which is less than the sector ACL but equal to current average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in current recreational harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts on small entities is expected to occur. The no-action alternative would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the Councils determined that the management uncertainty associated with the recreational harvest of this stock requires a buffer between allowable harvest and the sector ACL. The two remaining alternatives would set the recreational sector ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted because each would result in an ACT that was less reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL than the methodology established by this final rule. Five alternatives, including seven options, were considered for the action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This rule includes five of these options spread over three alternatives and implements in-season quota monitoring for the commercial sector; adopts post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on moving PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 82065 multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the season length to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded if the stock ACL is exceeded; and requires sector overage payback, where appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The noaction alternative would continue the current authority to reduce the recreational and commercial possession limit to zero if the sectors have met or are projected to meet their allocation. This alternative was not adopted because it would not be as flexible as the AMs established by this final rule in factoring the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. One alternative to this final rule would explicitly prohibit the purchase and sale of cobia if the commercial quota is met or projected to be met. This restriction would be functionally equivalent to the status quo because a zero possession limit would preclude purchase or sale. This alternative would not establish additional AMs for the recreational sector, resulting in current recreational AMs remaining in effect. Thus, this alternative would be functionally equivalent to the status quo. Nevertheless, this alternative was not adopted because it would not be as flexible as the AMs established by this rule, similar to the no-action alternative, in factoring the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. The remaining options would impose sector paybacks regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted because each would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in economic benefits. Additional actions and alternatives were considered in Amendment 18 but are not included in this rule because they either simply establish management reference points or do not result in regulatory change. Discussion of these actions and alternatives was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: December 20, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 82066 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, as specified in § 600.105(c) of this chapter. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.4, revise the first sentence of paragraph (a)(2)(iv) to read as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. § 622.1 § 622.4 [Amended] 2. In § 622.1, in Table 1, remove footnotes 2 and 3 and redesignate footnotes 4 through 6 as footnotes 2 through 4. ■ 3. In § 622.2, the definitions for ‘‘Coastal migratory pelagic fish’’, ‘‘Dolphin’’, and ‘‘Migratory group’’ are revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.2 Definitions and acronyms. wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 * * * * * Coastal migratory pelagic fish means a whole fish, or a part thereof, of one or more of the following species: (1) Cobia, Rachycentron canadum. (2) King mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla. (3) Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculatus. * * * * * Dolphin means a whole fish, or a part there of, of the species Coryphaena equiselis or C. hippurus. * * * * * Migratory group, for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, means a group of fish that may or may not be a separate genetic stock, but that is treated as a separate stock for management purposes. King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia are divided into migratory groups—the boundaries between these groups are as follows: (1) King mackerel—(i) Summer separation. From April 1 through October 31, the boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of king mackerel is 25°48′ N. lat., which is a line directly west from the Monroe/ Collier County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of the EEZ. (ii) Winter separation. From November 1 through March 31, the boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of king mackerel is 29°25′ N. lat., which is a line directly east from the Volusia/ Flagler County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of the EEZ. (2) Spanish mackerel. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of Spanish mackerel is 25°20.4′ N. lat., which is a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of the EEZ. (3) Cobia. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of cobia is the line of demarcation VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 Permits and fees. (a) * * * (2) * * * (iv) Spanish mackerel. For a person aboard a vessel to be eligible for exemption from the bag limits, a commercial vessel permit for Spanish mackerel must have been issued to the vessel and must be on board. * * * * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.41, remove paragraph (c)(1)(vi), redesignate paragraph (c)(1)(vii) as paragraph (c)(1)(vi), and revise paragraph (c)(1)(v) and newly redesignated paragraph (c)(1)(vi) to read as follows: § 622.41 Species specific limitations. * * * * * (c) * * * (1) * * * (v) Cobia in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic EEZ—automatic reel, bandit gear, handline, rod and reel, and pelagic longline. (vi) Cobia in the Gulf EEZ—all gear except drift gillnet and long gillnet. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 622.42, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 622.42 Quotas. * * * * * (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. King and Spanish mackerel quotas apply to persons who fish under commercial vessel permits for king or Spanish mackerel, as required under § 622.4(a)(2)(iii) or (iv). Cobia quotas apply to persons who fish for cobia and sell their catch. A fish is counted against the quota for the area where it is caught. (1) Migratory groups of king mackerel—(i) Gulf migratory group. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota for the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel is 3.808 million lb (1.728 million kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota for the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel is 3.456 million lb (1.568 million kg). The Gulf migratory group is divided into eastern and western zones separated by 87°31.1′ W. long., which is a line directly south from the Alabama/ Florida boundary. Quotas for the eastern and western zones are as follows: (A) Eastern zone. The eastern zone is divided into subzones with quotas as follows: (1) Florida east coast subzone. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 1,215,228 lb (551,218 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota is 1,102,896 lb (500,265 kg). (2) Florida west coast subzone. (i) Southern. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is 1,215,228, (515,218 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota is 1,102,896 lb (500,265 kg), which is further divided into a quota for vessels fishing with hook-and-line and a quota for vessels fishing with run-around gillnets. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the hook-and-line quota is 607,614 lb (275,609 kg) and the run-around gillnet quota is 607,614 lb (275,609 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the hook-andline quota is 551,448 lb (250,133 kg) and the run-around gillnet quota is 551,448 lb (250,133 kg). (ii) Northern. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is 197,064 lb (89,387 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota is 178,848 lb (81,124 kg). (3) Description of Florida subzones. From November 1 through March 31, the Florida east coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone south of 29°25′ N. lat. (a line directly east from the Flagler/Volusia County, FL, boundary) and north of 25°20.4′ N. lat. (a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/ Monroe County, FL, boundary). From April 1 through October 31, the Florida east coast subzone is no longer part of the Gulf migratory group king mackerel area; it is part of the Atlantic migratory group king mackerel area. The Florida west coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone south and west of 25°20.4′ N. lat. The Florida west coast subzone is further divided into southern and northern subzones. From November 1 through March 31, the southern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that extends south and west from 25°20.4′ N. lat., north to 26°19.8′ N. lat. (a line directly west from the Lee/ Collier County, FL, boundary). From April 1 through October 31, the southern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that is between 26°19.8′ N. lat. and 25°48′ N. lat. (a line directly west from the Monroe/Collier County, FL, boundary). The northern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that is between 26°19.8′ N. lat. north and west to 87°31.1′ W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary) year round. (B) Western zone. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is 1,180,480 lb (535,457 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations years, the quota is 1,071,360 lb (485,961 kg). (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory group of king mackerel is 3.88 million lb (1.76 million kg). No more than 0.40 million lb (0.18 million kg) may be harvested by purse seines. (2) Migratory groups of Spanish mackerel—(i) Gulf migratory group. [Reserved] (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory group of Spanish mackerel is 3.13 million lb (1.42 million kg). (3) Migratory groups of cobia—(i) Gulf migratory group. [Reserved] (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory group of cobia is 125,712 lb (57,022 kg). * * * * * ■ 7. In § 622.43, revise the heading of paragraph (a), add a sentence at the end of the introductory text in paragraph (a), revise the heading of paragraph (a)(3), remove the introductory text in paragraph (a)(3), and revise paragraphs (a)(3)(iii), (b)(1), and (c) to read as follows: wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 § 622.43 Closures. (a) Quota closures. * * * (See § 622.49 for closure provisions when an ACL is reached or projected to be reached). (3) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. * * * * * (iii) The sale or purchase of king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, or cobia of the closed species, migratory group, subzone, or gear type, is prohibited, including any king or Spanish mackerel taken under the bag limits, or cobia taken under the limited-harvest species possession limit specified in § 622.32(c)(1). * * * * * (b) * * * (1) The prohibition on sale/purchase during a closure for Gulf reef fish, coastal migratory pelagic fish, royal red shrimp, or specified snapper-grouper species in paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(3)(iii), (a)(4), or (a)(5) and (a)(6), respectively, of this section does not apply to the indicated species that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. * * * * * (c) Reopening. When a sector has been closed based on a projection of the quota specified in § 622.42, or the ACL specified in 622.49, being reached and subsequent data indicate that the quota or ACL was not reached, the Assistant Administrator may file a notification to VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. Such notification may reopen the sector to provide an opportunity for the quota or ACL to be harvested. ■ 8. In § 622.44, paragraph (b)(2) is revised to read as follows: § 622.44 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) For the purpose of paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section, the adjusted quota is 2.88 million (1.31 million kg). The adjusted quota is the quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel reduced by an amount calculated to allow continued harvests of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel at the rate of 500 lb (227 kg) per vessel per day for the remainder of the fishing year after the adjusted quota is reached. Total commercial harvest is still subject to the annual catch limit and accountability measures. By filing a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, the Assistant Administrator will announce when 75 percent and 100 percent of the adjusted quota is reached or projected to be reached. * * * * * ■ 9. In § 622.48, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 622.48 Adjustment of management measures. * * * * * (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. For a species or species group: Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish in whole condition, use as bait). * * * * * ■ 10. In § 622.49, add paragraph (h) to read as follows: § 622.49 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs). * PO 00000 * * Frm 00011 * Fmt 4701 * Sfmt 4700 82067 (h) Coastal migratory pelagic fish—(1) Gulf migratory group king mackerel—(i) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable quota specified in § 622.42(c)(1)(i) (commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for that zone, subzone, or gear type for the remainder of the fishing year. (ii) Recreational sector. If recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 8.092 million lb (3.670 million kg), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to implement a bag and possession limit for Gulf migratory group king mackerel of zero, unless the best scientific information available determines that a bag limit reduction is unnecessary. This bag and possession limit would also apply in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/ headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. (iii) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will be monitored based on the commercial fishing year, July 1 through June 1. (2) Atlantic migratory group king mackerel—(i) Commercial sector—(A) If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the quota specified in § 622.42(c)(1)(ii) (commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(2)(i)(A) of this section, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group king mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) for that following year by the amount of any commercial sector overage in the prior fishing year. (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 82068 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations year to reduce the bag limit by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational annual catch target (ACT), but do not exceed the recreational ACL, in the following fishing year. The recreational ACT is 6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg). The recreational ACL is 6.58 million lb (2.99 million lb). (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(2)(ii)(A) of this section, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group king mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACL and ACT for that following year by the amount of any recreational sector overage in the prior fishing year. (C) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will be evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, March through February. Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel is 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg). (3) Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel—(i) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel is prohibited and the harvest and possession limit of this species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. This possession limit also applies in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will be evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, April through March. (iii) The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel is 5.15 million lb (4.75 million kg). (4) Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel—(i) Commercial sector—(A) If VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the quota specified in § 622.42(c)(2)(ii) (commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(4)(i)(A) of this section, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(4)(iii), and Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) for that following year by the amount of any commercial sector overage in the prior fishing year. (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(4)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the bag limit by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL, in the following fishing year. The recreational ACT is 2.32 million lb (1.05 million kg). The recreational ACL is 2.56 million lb (1.16 million kg). (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(4)(ii)(A) of this section, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(4)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACT for that following year by the amount of any recreational sector overage in the prior fishing year. (C) For purposes of tracking the ACL and ACT, recreational landings will be evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, March through February. Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is 5.69 million lb (2.58 million kg). PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 (5) Gulf migratory group cobia—(i) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACT, as specified in paragraph (h)(5)(ii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf migratory group cobia is prohibited and the harvest and possession limit of this species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. This bag and possession limit also applies in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/ headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal water. (ii) The stock ACT for Gulf migratory group cobia is 1.31 million lb (0.59 million kg). The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group cobia is 1.46 million lb (0.66 million kg). (6) Atlantic migratory group cobia—(i) Commercial sector—(A) If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the quota specified in § 622.42(c)(3)(ii) (commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(6)(i)(A) of this section, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(6)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group cobia are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) for that following year by the amount of any commercial sector overage in the prior fishing year. (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(6)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the length of the following recreational fishing season by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year. Further, during that E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / Rules and Regulations wreier-aviles on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with RULES3 following year, if necessary, the AA may file additional notification with the Office of the Federal Register to readjust the reduced fishing season to ensure recreational harvest achieves but does not exceed the intended harvest level. The recreational ACT is 1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg). The recreational ACL is 1,445,687 (655,753 kg). (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (h)(6)(ii)(A) of this section, if the sum of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:59 Dec 28, 2011 Jkt 226001 commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (h)(6)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group cobia are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACL and ACT for that following year by the amount of PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 82069 any recreational sector overage in the prior fishing year. (C) Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group cobia is 1,571,399 lb (712,775 kg). [FR Doc. 2011–33187 Filed 12–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29DER3.SGM 29DER3

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 250 (Thursday, December 29, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 82058-82069]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33187]



[[Page 82057]]

Vol. 76

Thursday,

No. 250

December 29, 2011

Part III





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Part 622





Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal 
Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; 
Amendment 18; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 82058]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 101206604-1758-02]
RIN 0648-BB33


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
Region; Amendment 18

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 18 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in 
the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared and submitted 
by the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Councils (Councils). This rule removes species from the FMP; modifies 
the framework procedures; establishes two migratory groups for cobia; 
and establishes annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets 
(ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs) for king mackerel, Spanish 
mackerel, and cobia. In addition, Amendment 18 sets allocations for 
Atlantic migratory group cobia and establishes control rules for king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. The intent of this rule is to 
specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining 
sustainable catch levels.

DATES: This rule is effective January 30, 2012. Written comments 
specific to the revisions to Sec.  622.44(b)(2) must be received on or 
before January 30, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the specific revisions contained 
in this final rule to Sec.  622.44(b)(2), identified by ``NOAA-NMFS-
2011-0202'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 
13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov 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.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, click on ``submit a comment,'' then enter ``NOAA-
NMFS-2011-0202'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0202'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    Electronic copies of Amendment 18, which includes an environmental 
assessment and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), may 
be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/MackerelHomepage.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone: (727) 824-
5305, or email: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The coastal migratory pelagic (CMP) fishery 
in the Gulf and the Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was 
prepared by the Councils and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR 
part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On September 29, 2011, NMFS published a notice of availability for 
Amendment 18 and requested public comment (76 FR 60444). On October 24, 
2011, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 18 and requested 
public comment (76 FR 65662). The proposed rule and Amendment 18 
outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A 
summary of the actions implemented by this final rule are provided 
below.

Removal of Species from the FMP

    The Councils have determined that cero, little tunny, dolphin (in 
the Gulf), and bluefish (in the Gulf) are not in need of Federal 
management and will therefore be removed from the FMP with this final 
rule. The species were originally included in the FMP ``for data 
collection purposes,'' but data collection on any species is required 
of fishermen and dealers that hold Federal permits, regardless of the 
presence of that species in an FMP. If landings or effort change for 
any of these species and the Councils determine management at the 
Federal level is needed, these species could be added back into the FMP 
at a later date.

Cobia Migratory Groups

    This final rule establishes two migratory groups for cobia, a Gulf 
migratory group and an Atlantic migratory group. The boundary is the 
line of demarcation between the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 
the South Atlantic EEZ. ACLs and AMs are established separately for 
each migratory group. The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group cobia is 
1.46 million lb (0.66 million kg) and for Atlantic migratory group 
cobia, the stock ACL is 1,571,399 lb (712,775 kg). However, this rule 
does not change the current possession limit of two cobia per person 
per day for either commercial or recreational fishermen.

Gulf Migratory Group King Mackerel

    For Gulf migratory group king mackerel, this final rule establishes 
separate ACLs and AMs for the commercial and recreational sectors based 
on sector allocations. The commercial sector AMs will close by zone, 
subzone, or gear type when the commercial quota for the applicable 
zone, subzone, or gear type is reached or is projected to be reached. 
The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the commercial sector quota 
which is set for the 2012 to 2013 fishing year at 3.808 million lb 
(1.728 million kg) and for the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent 
fishing years, at 3.456 million lb (1.568 million kg). For Gulf 
migratory group king mackerel, the recreational sector ACL is set at 
8.092 million lb (3.670 million kg). In addition, current trip limit 
adjustments will remain in place as specified at Sec.  622.44(a)(2).
    For the recreational sector AMs, the Regional Administrator will 
have the authority to revert the bag and possession limit to zero if 
the recreational allocation (recreational ACL) is reached or projected 
to be reached. This bag and possession limit would also apply on board 
a vessel for which a valid charter vessel/headboat permit has been 
issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in 
state or Federal waters.

[[Page 82059]]

Atlantic Migratory Group King Mackerel

    For Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, this final rule 
establishes separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors 
based on sector allocations. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to 
the commercial quota of 3.88 million lb (1.76 million kg). This rule 
also sets a stock ACL and an ACT for the recreational sector. The 
recreational ACT for the commercial sector is set at 6.11 million lb 
(2.77 million kg and the stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group king 
mackerel is 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg).
    The AM for the commercial sector is that the sector will close when 
the commercial ACL is reached or projected to be reached. When the 
commercial sector closes, harvest and possession of king mackerel would 
be prohibited for persons aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit 
for king mackerel has been issued. If that vessel also has a valid 
charter vessel/headboat permit on board for CMP species and is 
operating as a charter vessel or headboat, harvest and possession of 
king mackerel would be limited to the applicable bag limit. Also, sale 
and purchase of king mackerel would be prohibited, including king 
mackerel taken under the bag or possession limits, without regard to 
where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    For the recreational sector AM, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any 
year, the bag limit will be reduced the next fishing year by the amount 
necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational 
ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL. A payback will be assessed 
if Atlantic migratory group king mackerel are determined to be 
overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded, and will include a reduction 
in the sector ACL for the following year by the amount of the overage 
by that sector in the prior fishing year.

Gulf Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel

    This final rule establishes stock ACLs and AMs for Gulf migratory 
group Spanish mackerel. For AMs for Gulf migratory group Spanish 
mackerel, both the commercial and recreational sectors will close when 
the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached. Harvest, 
possession, sale, and purchase of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or 
Federal waters. The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel 
is 5.15 million lb (4.75 million kg).

Atlantic Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel

    For Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel, this final rule 
establishes separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors 
based on sector allocations. This rule also sets an ACT for the 
recreational sector. The commercial sector ACL is equivalent to the 
commercial sector quota of 3.13 million lb (1.42 million kg). The 
recreational sector ACT is 2.32 million lb (1.05 million kg) and the 
recreational sector ACL is 2.56 million lb (1.16 million kg).
    The AM for the commercial sector is that the commercial sector will 
close when the commercial quota is reached or projected to be reached. 
In addition, current trip limit adjustments will remain in place as 
specified at Sec.  622.44(b). When the commercial sector closes, 
harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited for 
persons aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for Spanish 
mackerel has been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter 
vessel/headboat permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a 
charter vessel or headboat, harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel 
would be limited to the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase 
of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, including Spanish mackerel 
taken under the bag or possession limits, without regard to where such 
species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    For the recreational sector AM, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any 
year, the bag limit will be reduced the next fishing year by the amount 
necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the recreational 
ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing 
year. A payback will be assessed if the Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is 
exceeded. The payback will include a reduction in the sector ACL for 
the following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the 
prior fishing year.

Gulf Migratory Group Cobia

    This final rule establishes stock ACLs and AMs for Gulf migratory 
group cobia. A stock ACT will be set that is 90 percent of the ACL. The 
AMs to be implemented are that both the commercial and recreational 
sectors will close when the stock ACT is reached or projected to be 
reached. For Gulf migratory group cobia, the stock ACT is 1.31 million 
lb (0.59 million kg) and the stock ACL is 1.46 million lb (0.66 million 
kg).

Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia

    This final rule also establishes separate ACLs for Atlantic 
migratory group cobia for the commercial and recreational sectors based 
on sector allocations and establishes sector AMs. Amendment 18 sets an 
allocation of 8 percent of the ACL for the commercial sector and 92 
percent of the ACL for the recreational sector. This rule also sets an 
ACT for the recreational sector. The commercial sector ACL is 
equivalent to the commercial sector quota of 125,712 lb (57,022 kg). 
The AM is that the commercial sector would close when the commercial 
ACL is reached or projected to be reached. Sale and purchase of cobia 
would be prohibited, including cobia taken under the possession limit, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or 
Federal waters.
    The recreational sector ACT is set at 1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg) and 
the recreational sector ACL is set at 1,445,687 (655,753 kg). The AM to 
be implemented for the recreational sector is that if the stock ACL is 
exceeded in any year, the fishing season will be reduced the following 
year by the amount necessary to ensure that recreational landings may 
achieve the recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in 
the following fishing year. A payback will be assessed if Atlantic 
migratory group cobia are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL 
is exceeded. The payback will include a reduction in the sector ACL for 
the following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the 
prior fishing year.

Modification of Generic Framework Procedures

    To facilitate timely adjustments to harvest parameters and other 
management measures, this final rule revises the current framework 
procedures. This revision gives the Councils and NMFS greater 
flexibility to more promptly alter harvest parameters and other 
management measures as new scientific information becomes available.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received public comment submissions from 11 individuals and 
one non-governmental organization on Amendment 18 and the proposed 
rule. Two Federal agencies also submitted letters stating they had no 
comment on the rule. Four comments were generally in favor of the 
amendment and three were generally in opposition. Five

[[Page 82060]]

comments suggested additional management measures for coastal migratory 
species including changing the fishing year for cobia in the Atlantic, 
increasing the minimum size limit for cobia, buying back king mackerel 
Federal permits, increasing the commercial quota for the Gulf's Florida 
west coast subzone, and requiring fishermen to declare in which zone 
they will fish for mackerel. These management measures are not included 
in Amendment 18 but may be considered in future amendments and 
framework actions. Comments that pertain to specific actions addressed 
in Amendment 18 or the proposed rule are summarized and responded to 
below.
    Comment 1: Spanish mackerel (Atlantic migratory group) show signs 
of rebuilding and last year's large year-class will increase the chance 
of a commercial closure in 2012. The 2008 stock assessment used poor 
data and was rejected; the ABC shouldn't be reduced because of that 
mistake. The ABC and ACL should stay at the current 7.04 million lb 
(3.19 million kg) until the 2012 assessment is complete.
    Response: Because the most recent assessment was rejected, the 
South Atlantic Council's Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) 
determined the ABC for Spanish mackerel would be calculated using the 
ABC control rule for unassessed species. Originally, they had used the 
median of landings, which is appropriate for stocks where an increase 
in catch would lead to a decline in stock or stock concerns, according 
to the control rule. After reconsidering the ABC for Spanish mackerel, 
they determined an increase in catch would not lead to a decline in 
stock or stock concerns, so the 80th percentile, or in this case the 
third highest landings over a 10 year period, was set as the ABC. The 
ABC and ACL for Spanish mackerel will likely change after the 2012 
stock assessment; however, the Councils and their SSCs chose to be 
relatively precautionary in their establishment of an ABC and ACL at 
this time.
    Comment 2: Do not specify a recreational sector ACT for Atlantic 
migratory group Spanish mackerel.
    Response: ACTs provide a buffer from the ACL to account for 
management uncertainty. Because recreational landings are survey based, 
there is greater uncertainty associated with those data than for 
commercial landings information that are reported by dealers. 
Establishment of an ACT will help keep landings from exceeding the ACL 
and triggering AMs. A recreational ACT for Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel is also consistent with the recreational ACTs set for 
Atlantic migratory group king mackerel and cobia.
    Comment 3: The entire timeframe should be used for allocation of 
cobia (Atlantic migratory group) between the commercial and 
recreational sectors.
    Response: The allocation chosen by the Councils was based on 
landings from the years 2000-2008, with greater weight given to 
landings during 2006-2008. The Councils determined this method best 
reflected how the fishery is currently prosecuted.
    Comment 4: NMFS should disapprove the action to remove species. The 
rule does not provide a scientifically sound justification for removing 
species from Federal management and may put those populations 
unknowingly at risk of overfishing. It is not clear how removing these 
species from any conservation and management without strong 
justification and much more thorough analysis accomplishes any of the 
following: prevents overfishing and protects, restores and promotes the 
long-term health of the fishery; rebuilds, restores or maintains 
fishery resources and the marine environment; or avoids irreversible or 
long-term adverse effects on fishery resources and the marine 
environment.
    Response: According to National Standard 7 guidelines, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act requires Councils to prepare FMPs only for 
overfished fisheries and for other fisheries where regulation would 
serve some useful purpose and where the present or future benefits of 
regulation would justify the costs. The guidelines further state that 
the principle implicit in National Standard 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act is that not every fishery needs regulation. As thoroughly discussed 
in Amendment 18, an analysis of the factors contained in the National 
Standard 7 guidelines does not support the retention in the FMP of the 
species currently sought to be removed.
    The species in question were originally placed in the FMP to assure 
that they would be included in any monitoring programs, rather than 
because they were considered to be in need of management. These species 
have been in the management unit since 1983 without any Federal 
regulations, and there is no reason to believe additional fisheries 
will develop now to target and harvest these and other species not 
included in the management unit for the FMP. The overfishing status of 
these stocks is unknown, except that little tunny in the Gulf are not 
undergoing overfishing. During the development of both Councils' 
respective ACL amendments, the SSCs met multiple times to set ABCs and 
OFLs for federally managed species, including many unassessed stocks. 
However, the SSCs never included cero, little tunny, bluefish, or 
dolphin (in the Gulf) in their deliberations. The indication is they 
had no concern that these stocks are in need of additional management.
    Future overfishing or risks to these species would not be expected 
to occur without NMFS knowledge. Species that are removed by this final 
rule will continue to have their commercial and recreational landings 
monitored through standard record-keeping requirements of the Marine 
Recreational Information Program and commercial trip ticket records. 
Should a substantial change in landings or effort be noted, or should 
some other concern indicating a need for conservation arise, the 
Councils could develop a plan amendment to add the species back into 
the management unit. If the species were retained in the FMP, the 
Councils would have to follow the same plan amendment process or 
implement new measures via the framework process established in the 
FMP. Therefore, retention of species in the FMP would not significantly 
improve the timeliness of implementing the action.
    Comment 5: Four species are removed from the FMU even though they 
have a high level of landings compared to the criteria used by these 
Councils to justify the removal of species from Federal management in 
other amendments. Three of the four species (i.e., bluefish, little 
tunny, and dolphinfish) have substantial fisheries, primarily in the 
recreational sector and in waters off Florida's coast. In addition, one 
species (cero) may have identification or reporting issues with similar 
species.
    Response: Decisions whether to retain species in the FMP are 
necessarily made on a case by case basis consistent with the principles 
established in the MSA and the National Standard guidelines. Landings 
criteria were not as explicitly evaluated in Amendment 18 as they were 
in other FMPs and by other councils. The landings criteria developed 
for other ACL amendments to each FMP in the Gulf, South Atlantic, and 
the Caribbean considered specific characteristics of the fishery and 
the species. For example, for the Gulf reef fish fishery, average 
landings needed to be 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or less (among other 
criteria) for a species to be considered for removal; for the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery, less than 5 percent of landings 
(among other criteria) must come from Federal waters for a species to 
be considered for removal.

[[Page 82061]]

    Criteria based on landings level or harvest location were not used 
in Amendment 18 because the species included are so vastly different 
from one another that a single criterion would not be practical. 
Landings that are ``high'' for one stock may be ``low'' for another 
stock. Instead, guidelines for National Standard 7 were used to 
determine if a stock is in need of Federal management. This guidance 
gives seven factors, each of which was considered for the four species 
in question.
    NMFS recognizes that cero are often mistaken for king mackerel; 
however, best available data indicate that cero are caught infrequently 
and in low numbers. ACLs for species with very low landings do not 
provide meaningful management benchmarks. Further, the difficulty in 
tracking landings and monitoring could prove costly to implement. 
Therefore, the benefits of imposing an ACL on a species with such low 
landings would not justify the costs. In addition, since 1983, the 
Councils have not found a need to impose regulations on cero, and no 
benefit of doing so now is apparent. Councils should prepare FMPs only 
for overfished fisheries and for other fisheries where regulation would 
serve some useful purpose and where the present or future benefits of 
regulation would justify the costs.
    Comment 6: Amendment 18 ignores available data with which to set 
catch limits for these species proposed for removal. Peer-reviewed, 
scientifically valid methods have been developed that provide a means 
to develop catch levels for species for which catch or landings 
statistics are the primary data available. The amendment does not 
analyze state regulations for the four species to determine whether 
they are sufficient or whether the state managing agencies will extend 
their management into Federal waters. The rule relies on criteria of 
National Standard 7 to provide the rationale for this action without 
sufficient analysis.
    Response: Landings data for all four species proposed for removal 
are provided in Section 1 of Amendment 18. The decision to remove 
species was not based on availability of data, but on the need for 
Federal management. If the species were retained in the FMP, landings 
data could be used to set ACLs for some species, although ACLs for 
species with very low landings (e.g., cero) would not provide 
meaningful management benchmarks. However, despite addressing other 
unassessed species, neither Council's SSC chose to develop ABC or 
overfishing limit recommendations upon which an ACL could be based.
    No Federal regulations currently exist for these species, but some 
states have regulations for CMP species that apply to fishing in state 
waters. For example, Florida has a size and recreational bag limit for 
dolphin in state waters. If Federal management does not exist, states 
have always had the option to extend their regulations into Federal 
waters, but chose not to. Because the fishery for these species has 
proceeded under this scenario for many years, removal of these species 
from the FMP retains the same level of regulation as the status quo.
    As set forth fully in Amendment 18, landings data for all four 
species proposed for removal are provided in Section 1 of Amendment 18. 
National Standard 7 has seven factors to be considered when determining 
if a stock is in need of Federal management. Each was considered for 
the species proposed for removal and has been adequately analyzed in 
Amendment 18. National Standard 7 implicitly states that every fishery 
does not need regulation. If it is subsequently determined a removed 
species is in need of Federal management, the species could be added 
back into the FMU through the FMP amendment process.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    The adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel was revised. When finalizing the commercial ACL, which equals 
the commercial quota specified at Sec.  622.42(c)(2)(ii), NMFS realized 
that the adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel needed to be revised as well. The adjusted commercial quota is 
relevant to trip limits for the commercial sector and is specified at 
Sec.  622.44(b)(2), but it was inadvertently not changed in the 
proposed rule. In this final rule, NMFS revises the adjusted quota from 
3.63 million lb (1.64 million kg) to 2.88 million lb (1.31 million kg) 
as a result of the ACL designated through this rulemaking. In addition, 
language was added to Sec.  622.44(b)(2) to clarify that while the 
intent of the adjusted quota is to allow continued harvest after the 
adjusted quota is reached, total harvest for the fishing year is still 
necessarily constrained by the ACL and AM contained in Sec.  
622.49(h)(4). This means that if the ACL is reached, commercial harvest 
will not be able to occur for the remainder of the fishing year, even 
with the implementation of the 500 lb (227 kg) trip limit. Public 
comment is solicited regarding the adjusted commercial quota for 
Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel as this adjusted quota had 
not been provided in the proposed rule for Amendment 18. Following the 
comment period ending January 30, 2012, NMFS will publish in the 
Federal Register rulemaking that discusses any relevant comments and 
that this action is in effect.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined 
that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management 
of the species within Amendment 18 and is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), as 
required by section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, for this 
final rule. The FRFA describes the economic impact this final rule is 
expected to have on small entities. A description of the rule, why it 
is being considered, the objectives of, and legal basis for this rule 
are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in 
the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA follows.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules 
have been identified.
    No significant issues were raised by public comments in response to 
the IRFA. Therefore, no changes were made in the final rule as a result 
of such comments.
    This final rule affects all fishing in the EEZ that is managed 
under the FMP. This includes the EEZ in the Gulf and South Atlantic, as 
well as the EEZ in the Mid-Atlantic for king mackerel, Spanish 
mackerel, and cobia. For purposes of fishery management, Atlantic and 
Gulf migratory groups have been designated for each of the mackerels, 
and, under this rule, cobia.
    This final rule is expected to apply to 1,000 to 2,000 commercial 
fishing vessels and as many as 2,500 vessels that have Federal permits 
to engage in for-hire fishing for CMP species. The commercial fishing 
vessels expected to be affected by this final rule are estimated to 
average $28,000 to $46,000 (2008 dollars) in gross revenue per vessel 
for vessels fishing for king and Spanish mackerel, and $16,000 to 
$277,000 for vessels harvesting other CMP species (the lower value is 
for vessels harvesting cero while the upper value is for vessels 
harvesting dolphin;

[[Page 82062]]

this range encompasses the vessels harvesting all the remaining CMP 
species). The for-hire vessels expected to be affected by this rule are 
mostly charter boats, which charge by the trip, often with six or fewer 
anglers (paying passengers), and a smaller number of head boats, which 
charge for each individual angler (only 15 percent of all of the 
vessels possessing a for-hire permit for CMP species can carry more 
than six anglers). Including revenue from all activities, charter boats 
are estimated to average approximately $88,000 (2008 dollars) in gross 
revenue per year, while headboats average approximately $461,000 (2008 
dollars).
    The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for 
all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A 
business involved in commercial finfish harvesting is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 
114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A 
for-hire business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual receipts not in excess of $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, 
recreational industries). Based on the average revenue estimates 
provided above, all commercial and for-hire fishing vessels expected to 
be directly affected by this final rule are determined for the purpose 
of this analysis to be small business entities.
    The actions in this final rule can be classified into three 
categories: (1) Actions that are jointly applicable to the Gulf and 
Atlantic migratory groups; (2) actions that are applicable to only the 
Gulf migratory groups; and (3) actions that are applicable to only the 
South Atlantic migratory groups. All of the actions in this final rule 
that are jointly applicable to the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups 
are either administrative or allow status quo harvest behavior. As a 
result, none of these actions are expected to result in any direct 
economic impacts on small entities.
    With the exception of the AMs for the Gulf migratory groups of king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, the actions in this final rule 
applicable to the Gulf migratory groups are either administrative or 
allow status quo harvests and fishing behavior. As a result, these 
actions are not expected to result in any direct economic impacts on 
small entities. The AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, 
if triggered, will result in unquantifiable short-term reductions in 
economic benefits as a result of the harvest restrictions implemented 
to correct for harvest overages, should such overages be forecast or 
occur. These impacts cannot be quantified at this time because the 
overages, and necessary corrections, cannot be forecast. However, any 
harvest correction, and associated reduction in short-term economic 
benefits, will aid the preservation of the long-term biological goals 
and economic benefits associated with the harvest of these stocks.
    Because the majority of the actions in this final rule applicable 
to the Atlantic migratory groups are either administrative or allow 
status quo harvests and fishing behavior, few economic effects are 
expected to occur. Only the Spanish mackerel ACL and AMs for king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, if triggered, are expected to 
result in direct adverse economic impacts. The specification of the 
Spanish mackerel ACL is expected to result in a reduction in ex-vessel 
revenue to commercial fishermen of approximately $680,000 because of 
the reduction in the allowable commercial harvest and the AM 
requirement that harvest, possession, and sale of Spanish mackerel be 
prohibited when the commercial quota is met. The economic activity 
associated with this reduced revenue is an estimated 17 harvester and 
10 dealer/processor full-time equivalent jobs. The relative effect of 
this estimated reduction per small entity is unknown. For the 2004/2005 
through 2008/2009 fishing years, an average of 349 vessels recorded 
Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel harvests in the Southeast 
Federal logbook program. These vessels averaged approximately $28,000 
in ex-vessel revenue per vessel per year from all species recorded in 
the logbook. If divided among these vessels, the estimated reduction in 
Spanish mackerel revenue equates to a reduction in average vessel gross 
revenue of approximately 7 percent. These results do not include any 
reduction in gross revenue for other species if trips are cancelled as 
a result of a prohibition on Spanish mackerel commercial harvest. Total 
Federal logbook-recorded landings of Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel accounted for approximately 57 percent (approximately 2.03 
million lb (0.9 million kg)) of the total Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel harvest (approximately 3.57 million lb (1.62 million 
kg)) during this period. A significant portion of the difference 
between these harvest totals may be attributed to harvest in Florida 
state waters where Federal permits and logbooks are not required for 
the harvest or possession of Spanish mackerel. The average annual 
revenue profile of the vessels that harvested the remaining portion (43 
percent) of Spanish mackerel is unknown. As a result, the total 
relative effect of the projected reduction in ex-vessel revenue on the 
profit of all affected commercial vessels is not known.
    Similar to the discussion of the effects of the Gulf migratory 
group AMs, the AMs for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, Spanish 
mackerel, and cobia, if triggered, will result in unquantifiable short-
term reductions in economic benefits as a result of the harvest 
restrictions implemented to correct for harvest overages, should such 
overages be forecast or occur. These impacts cannot be quantified at 
this time because the overages, and necessary corrections, cannot be 
forecast. However, any harvest correction, and associated reduction in 
short-term economic benefits, will aid the preservation of the long-
term biological goals and economic benefits associated with the harvest 
of these stocks.
    Three alternatives, including 13 options or sub-options, were 
considered for the action to modify the FMU. This final rule 
incorporates 7 of the 13 options and sub-options and removes cero, 
little tunny, and dolphin from the FMP for both the Gulf and South 
Atlantic regions, and removes bluefish from the FMP for the Gulf 
region. The no-action alternative, which would retain the four subject 
species in the FMP for data-collection purposes only, was not adopted 
because it would not satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines, which 
do not allow species to be retained in an FMU for data collection 
purposes only. The third alternative would add the four species to the 
FMU and set ACLs and AMs for each, following the stated geographic 
designations. This alternative was not adopted because the Councils 
determined that these species no longer require Federal management in 
the respective regions. This action is not expected to result in any 
direct economic impact on small entities.
    Five alternatives, including three options, were considered for the 
action to modify the framework procedures. The no-action alternative 
would not change the framework procedures and was not adopted because 
it is not consistent with current assessment and management methods. 
The remaining alternatives were not adopted either because they would 
either allow fewer

[[Page 82063]]

or more management aspects to be changed through framework procedures, 
or would give the Councils and NMFS either too much or too little 
authority to change management outside of the plan amendment process. 
This action is administrative in nature and is not expected to result 
in any direct economic impact on small entities.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish 
separate Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups of cobia. This rule 
separates cobia into two groups at the Gulf and South Atlantic 
jurisdictional boundary. The no-action alternative would not split 
cobia into two migratory groups and was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that sufficient information exists to demonstrate 
there are at least two cobia migratory groups and regional management 
is appropriate. The third alternative would establish two migratory 
groups and split the migratory group jurisdiction at the Miami-Dade/
Monroe County line. This alternative was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that it would not best meet the goals and 
objectives established for the FMP. This action is administrative in 
nature and is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on 
small entities.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the ACL for 
Gulf migratory group cobia. This rule establishes a single stock ACL 
and sets the ACL equal to the ABC. The no-action alternative was not 
adopted because it would not establish an ACL, as required by the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. Another alternative would also set the total ACL 
equal to the ABC, but would specify recreational and commercial sector 
ACLs. This alternative was not adopted because both sectors are 
currently managed with the same harvest restrictions and sector 
separation would not be expected to be beneficial at this time. The 
remaining alternatives and associated options would establish a buffer 
between the ACL and ABC and result in lower stock or sector ACLs. These 
alternatives and options were not adopted because the Councils elected 
to establish a buffer to the ABC for this species through the ACT 
rather than the ACL.
    Three alternatives, including four options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACT for Gulf migratory group cobia. This final rule 
specifies a single stock ACT and sets the ACT equal to 90 percent of 
the ACL. The no-action alternative would not establish an ACT, but 
would be an acceptable action because an ACT is not required. This 
alternative was not adopted because the Councils determined that a 
buffer between the ABC and allowable harvest was appropriate for this 
stock and the adoption of the no-action alternative would be 
inconsistent with the Councils' decision to establish this buffer 
through the ACT instead of the ACL. The other options were not adopted 
because they would establish sector ACTs, which would be inconsistent 
with the decision to establish a single stock ACL, and/or they would 
specify a lower stock ACT than this rule and, thereby, establish a 
larger buffer than is expected to be necessary for this stock.
    Three alternatives, including seven options (options listed under 
the no-action alternative were not included in this tabulation), were 
considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf migratory group cobia. 
This rule sets an in-season AM and prohibits harvest for the remainder 
of the fishing year from the date the ACT is reached or is projected to 
be reached. AMs for the commercial harvest of this stock do not exist 
under the status quo. As a result, the no-action alternative was not 
adopted because it would not establish AMs that account for the harvest 
from all sectors, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Two options 
to the rule would also establish in-season AMs but would trigger the 
AMs when 90 percent of the ACT is reached or is projected to be 
reached. Both options would reduce the possession limit to one fish per 
person per day, but only one option would prohibit possession of cobia 
and only if the ACL is reached. These options were not adopted because 
just reducing the possession limit would provide insufficient assurance 
that the ACL would not be exceeded and data monitoring issues in tandem 
with the minimal buffer between the AM trigger and the ACT would likely 
render adjustment at the 90-percent threshold ineffective. The 
remaining alternative and associated four options would establish post-
season AMs, each varying in method (overage payback, reduction in 
possession limit, reduced season) or period of assessment (the overage 
assessment would be based on multi-year averages). These options were 
not adopted because the Councils determined that in-season assessment 
would be more effective in ensuring the ACL is not exceeded. This 
action is not expected to result in any direct economic impact on small 
entities because the ACT (1.31 million lb (0.59 million kg)) exceeds 
the estimated status-quo harvest (1.07 million lb (0.49 million kg)) 
for Gulf migratory group cobia.
    Five alternatives, including 12 options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group king mackerel. This 
final rule sets the aggregate (stock) ACL equal to the ABC, and sets 
sector ACLs using current allocation percentages. The no-action 
alternative would set the stock ACL equal to the current total 
allowable catch (TAC), and was not adopted because the TAC is less than 
the ABC and, as a result, would have resulted in less economic benefits 
than the stock ACL set by this final rule. The remaining three 
alternatives would set the stock ACL at 80-90 percent of ABC, and were 
not adopted because each would have allowed lower harvest, and 
associated economic benefits, than this final rule, and the Councils 
have determined that the condition of this stock and level of 
management uncertainty does not require a buffer between the ACL and 
ABC. The stock ACL set by this final rule is expected to allow 
continued average annual harvest. As a result, this action is not 
expected to result in any direct economic impacts on small entities.
    Three alternatives, including 7 options or sub-options (options and 
sub-options listed under the no-action alternative were not included in 
this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf 
migratory group king mackerel. This rule adopts the no-action 
alternative and does not set new AMs for this stock. The alternatives, 
and associated options or sub-options, to this final rule can be 
divided into two general categories: alternatives that would change the 
current in-season AMs (two options), and alternatives that would set 
post-season AMs (two options encompassing five sub-options). None of 
these options or sub-options were adopted because the Councils 
determined that current Federal regulations provide sufficient AMs for 
the recreational and commercial sectors. This action is not expected to 
have any direct economic impact on small entities.
    Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. This 
final rule sets the aggregate ACL equal to the ABC and establishes a 
single stock ACL encompassing harvest by both the recreational and 
commercial sectors. The no-action alternative would maintain an ACL 
equal to the current TAC. This alternative was not adopted because the 
ACL cannot exceed the ABC and the status quo TAC is greater than the 
proposed ABC. Some options to the rule would establish sector ACLs. 
These options were not adopted because the Councils determined the 
establishment of sector ACLs would unnecessarily

[[Page 82064]]

restrict catch. The remaining two alternatives, encompassing six 
options, would specify a single stock ACL as a portion of ABC (80 
percent or 90 percent of ABC). These alternatives and options would 
result in less economic benefits than this final rule and were not 
adopted because the Councils determined that a buffer between the ACL 
and ABC was not needed for this stock.
    Three alternatives, including six options or sub-options (options 
and sub-options listed under the no-action alternative were not 
included in this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs 
for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. This rule establishes in-
season AMs that allow harvest of Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel 
to be prohibited if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to be 
reached. The no-action alternative would maintain current Gulf 
migratory group Spanish mackerel AMs and was not adopted because the 
current AMs are implemented by sector and are inconsistent with the 
decision to establish a single stock ACL. One option within Amendment 
18 would establish in-season AMs that implement a commercial trip limit 
and reduced recreational bag limits if the stock ACL is reached or is 
projected to be reached. This option was not adopted because it would 
require multiple in-season actions and may result in a lower certainty 
that the ACL not be exceeded compared to this final rule as it would 
not be prohibited to harvest Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The 
remaining alternative and associated options would establish post-
season AMs. These options were not adopted because they would be 
expected to impose an increased and unnecessary burden on fishermen and 
the administration. This action is not expected to have any short-term 
economic impact on small entities because the stock ACL (5.15 million 
lb (2.34 million kg)) is greater than the 5-year average (3.63 million 
lb (1.65 million kg)) or 10-year average (3.95 million lb (1.79 million 
kg) landings.
    Five alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group king 
mackerel. This final rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC, with 
the ABC set equal to the average of the current South Atlantic 
Council's SSC's ABC recommendations for the 2011-2013 seasons. This 
results in an ACL of 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg). The no-action 
alternative was not adopted because it would not have resulted in as 
concise of a methodology for setting the ACL and OY and would have 
resulted in a lower ACL, 10.0 million lb (4.54 million kg). Two 
alternatives to this final rule would also set the ACL and OY equal to 
the ABC but would set the ABC equal to the lowest and highest SSC 
recommended ABCs for 2011-2013, respectively. These alternatives were 
not adopted because they were determined to be excessively or 
insufficiently conservative, respectively. The final alternative for 
this action, which included five options, would set the ACL and OY 
equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 65-90 percent. These 
options were not adopted because the Councils determined that the 
status and management certainty of the king mackerel stock did not 
require a buffer between the ACL or OY and the ABC.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. 
This final rule sets the ACT based on the uncertainty associated with 
the estimate of the ACL and results in a recreational sector ACT of 
6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg), which is less than the recreational 
sector ACL, but greater than current average annual harvests. As a 
result, this action is not expected to result in any reduction in 
current recreational harvest or associated economic benefits to small 
entities. The no-action alternative would not set a recreational sector 
ACT and was not adopted because the Councils determined that the 
management uncertainty associated with the recreational harvest of this 
stock is sufficient to require a buffer between allowable harvest and 
the ACL. The two remaining alternatives for this action would set the 
recreational sector ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of the 
ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted because each would 
result in an ACT that was less reflective of the uncertainty associated 
with the estimation of the ACL and each of these alternatives would 
result in a lower recreational harvest, and reduced economic benefits, 
than this final rule.
    Four alternatives, including ten options, were considered for the 
action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. This 
final rule includes seven of the options spread over three 
alternatives. This final rule continues in-season quota monitoring and 
closure if the commercial sector ACL is met or projected to be met, as 
occurs under the status quo, and adopts post-season adjustments. These 
adjustments include reduction in the recreational bag limit, based on 
moving multi-year average harvests, to assure that the recreational 
sector ACL is not exceeded. Post-season bag limit reduction will only 
occur, however, if the stock ACL (both sectors) is exceeded. Post-
season overage payback will be required for both sectors, where 
appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. 
The no-action alternative would continue the current quota monitoring 
for the commercial sector, and closure when appropriate; it also 
includes authority under the framework procedures for the Regional 
Administrator to implement several actions, including reduction of the 
recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational allocation has been 
met or is projected to be met. This alternative was not adopted because 
it would not have been as flexible as the procedures established by 
this final rule in factoring in the status of the stock, the total 
harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into 
the AM decision. One option within Amendment 18 would reduce the length 
of the subsequent recreational fishing season instead of a reduction in 
the bag limit in the event of a recreational overage. This alternative 
was not adopted because allowing the sector to continue harvest all 
year under a reduced bag limit, as will be allowed under this rule, is 
expected to result in more economic benefits than a closed season. The 
remaining options for this action would impose sector paybacks 
regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted because each 
would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in economic 
benefits.
    Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel. This final rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC. The no-
action alternative was not adopted because it would not result in as 
concise a procedure as the preferred alternative to determine the ACL 
based on the ABC, and the resultant ACL would exceed the proposed ABC, 
which would be inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act National 
Standard 1 guidelines (January 16, 2009, 74 FR 3178). The third 
alternative for this action, which included five options, would set the 
ACL equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 75-95 percent. These 
options were not adopted because they would be inconsistent with the 
determination by the Councils that specification of a buffer for this 
stock could be adequately accomplished through the ACT.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. 
In this final rule, the recreational sector Atlantic migratory

[[Page 82065]]

group Spanish mackerel ACT will be based on the uncertainty associated 
with the estimate of the sector ACL, and will equal 2.32 million lb 
(1.05 million kg), which is less than the recreational sector ACL, but 
greater than current average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction 
in current harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts on small 
entities in the recreational sector is expected to occur. The no-action 
alternative would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted 
because the Councils determined that the management uncertainty 
associated with the recreational harvest of this stock requires a 
buffer between allowable harvest and the ACL. The two remaining 
alternatives would set the recreational sector ACT based on alternative 
fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted 
because they would result in an ACT that was less reflective of the 
uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL. Each of these 
alternatives would also result in a lower recreational harvest and 
reduced economic benefits than the ACT established by this rule.
    Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered to set 
AMs for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. This rule includes 
six of the options spread over three alternatives. This rule will 
result in enhanced quota monitoring for the commercial sector and 
impose post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on 
moving multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the bag 
limit to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded, if the stock ACL 
is exceeded. This final rule will also result in sector payback, where 
appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. 
The no-action alternative would continue the current quota monitoring 
and staged trip limits for the commercial sector in place of sector 
closure. The no-action alternative also includes authority under the 
framework procedures for the RA to implement several actions, including 
reduction of the recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational 
allocation has been met or is projected to be met. This alternative was 
not adopted because it would not be as flexible in factoring in the 
status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest variability 
by the recreational sector into the AM decision. This alternative was 
also not adopted because it would not provide for an in-season closure 
for the commercial sector. In the event of a sector overage, one option 
within Amendment 18 would have reduced the length of the subsequent 
recreational fishing season (no reduction in the bag limit) to assure 
that the sector ACL is not exceeded. This option was not adopted 
because it would result in lower economic benefits than this final 
rule. The remaining two options would have imposed sector paybacks 
regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted because each 
would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in economic 
benefits.
    Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This 
rule sets the ACL and OY equal to the ABC. The no-action alternative 
was not adopted because it would not set the ACL or OY, as required by 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The third alternative, which 
included five options, would set the ACL and OY equal to a percentage 
of the ABC, varying from 75-95 percent. These options were not adopted 
because the Councils determined that specification of a buffer for this 
stock could be adequately accomplished through the ACT.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This final 
rule sets the ACT based on the uncertainty associated with the estimate 
of the ACL and results in a recreational sector ACT of 1,184,688 lb 
(537,365 kg), which is less than the sector ACL but equal to current 
average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in current 
recreational harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts on 
small entities is expected to occur. The no-action alternative would 
not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that the management uncertainty associated with the 
recreational harvest of this stock requires a buffer between allowable 
harvest and the sector ACL. The two remaining alternatives would set 
the recreational sector ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of 
the ACL. Neither of these alternatives was adopted because each would 
result in an ACT that was less reflective of the uncertainty associated 
with the estimation of the ACL than the methodology established by this 
final rule.
    Five alternatives, including seven options, were considered for the 
action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group cobia. This rule 
includes five of these options spread over three alternatives and 
implements in-season quota monitoring for the commercial sector; adopts 
post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on moving 
multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the season length 
to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded if the stock ACL is 
exceeded; and requires sector overage payback, where appropriate, if 
the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The no-action 
alternative would continue the current authority to reduce the 
recreational and commercial possession limit to zero if the sectors 
have met or are projected to meet their allocation. This alternative 
was not adopted because it would not be as flexible as the AMs 
established by this final rule in factoring the status of the stock, 
the total harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational 
sector into the AM decision. One alternative to this final rule would 
explicitly prohibit the purchase and sale of cobia if the commercial 
quota is met or projected to be met. This restriction would be 
functionally equivalent to the status quo because a zero possession 
limit would preclude purchase or sale. This alternative would not 
establish additional AMs for the recreational sector, resulting in 
current recreational AMs remaining in effect. Thus, this alternative 
would be functionally equivalent to the status quo. Nevertheless, this 
alternative was not adopted because it would not be as flexible as the 
AMs established by this rule, similar to the no-action alternative, in 
factoring the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual 
harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. 
The remaining options would impose sector paybacks regardless of stock 
status. These options were not adopted because each would be expected 
to result in unnecessary reductions in economic benefits.
    Additional actions and alternatives were considered in Amendment 18 
but are not included in this rule because they either simply establish 
management reference points or do not result in regulatory change. 
Discussion of these actions and alternatives was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Virgin Islands.

    Dated: December 20, 2011.
 Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

[[Page 82066]]

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.


Sec.  622.1   [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  622.1, in Table 1, remove footnotes 2 and 3 and redesignate 
footnotes 4 through 6 as footnotes 2 through 4.

0
3. In Sec.  622.2, the definitions for ``Coastal migratory pelagic 
fish'', ``Dolphin'', and ``Migratory group'' are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.2   Definitions and acronyms.

* * * * *
    Coastal migratory pelagic fish means a whole fish, or a part 
thereof, of one or more of the following species:
    (1) Cobia, Rachycentron canadum.
    (2) King mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla.
    (3) Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculatus.
* * * * *
    Dolphin means a whole fish, or a part there of, of the species 
Coryphaena equiselis or C. hippurus.
* * * * *
    Migratory group, for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, 
means a group of fish that may or may not be a separate genetic stock, 
but that is treated as a separate stock for management purposes. King 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia are divided into migratory 
groups--the boundaries between these groups are as follows:
    (1) King mackerel--(i) Summer separation. From April 1 through 
October 31, the boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory 
groups of king mackerel is 25[deg]48' N. lat., which is a line directly 
west from the Monroe/Collier County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of 
the EEZ.
    (ii) Winter separation. From November 1 through March 31, the 
boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of king 
mackerel is 29[deg]25' N. lat., which is a line directly east from the 
Volusia/Flagler County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of the EEZ.
    (2) Spanish mackerel. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic 
migratory groups of Spanish mackerel is 25[deg]20.4' N. lat., which is 
a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL, boundary to 
the outer limit of the EEZ.
    (3) Cobia. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory 
groups of cobia is the line of demarcation between the Atlantic Ocean 
and the Gulf of Mexico, as specified in Sec.  600.105(c) of this 
chapter.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  622.4, revise the first sentence of paragraph (a)(2)(iv) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  622.4   Permits and fees.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) Spanish mackerel. For a person aboard a vessel to be eligible 
for exemption from the bag limits, a commercial vessel permit for 
Spanish mackerel must have been issued to the vessel and must be on 
board. * * *
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  622.41, remove paragraph (c)(1)(vi), redesignate paragraph 
(c)(1)(vii) as paragraph (c)(1)(vi), and revise paragraph (c)(1)(v) and 
newly redesignated paragraph (c)(1)(vi) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.41   Species specific limitations.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) Cobia in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic EEZ--automatic 
reel, bandit gear, handline, rod and reel, and pelagic longline.
    (vi) Cobia in the Gulf EEZ--all gear except drift gillnet and long 
gillnet.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  622.42, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.42  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. King and Spanish mackerel 
quotas apply to persons who fish under commercial vessel permits for 
king or Spanish mackerel, as required under Sec.  622.4(a)(2)(iii) or 
(iv). Cobia quotas apply to persons who fish for cobia and sell their 
catch. A fish is counted against the quota for the area where it is 
caught.
    (1) Migratory groups of king mackerel--(i) Gulf migratory group. 
For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota for the Gulf migratory 
group of king mackerel is 3.808 million lb (1.728 million kg). For the 
2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota for 
the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel is 3.456 million lb (1.568 
million kg). The Gulf migratory group is divided into eastern and 
western zones separated by