Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries, 43707-43709 [E6-12482]

Download as PDF mstockstill on PROD1PC68 with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 148 / Wednesday, August 2, 2006 / Proposed Rules addition, copies of the final SEIS, a revised RIR, and a revised IRFA, prepared by NMFS are also available from the Council at the address above. Copies of all of these documents may also be downloaded from the Council’s Web site at www.gulfcouncil.org. The final supplemental environmental impact statement (FSEIS) for this amendment includes discussion and analyses NMFS added to the environmental impact statement contained in the amendment the Council approved and submitted for Secretarial review. In the FSEIS, NMFS also included a revision of the IFRA originally integrated in the Council amendment. Additional text and analyses clarify the distinction between IFQ shareholders and IFQ allocation holders, and more clearly distinguish the roles and responsibilities of these two participant types. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Phil Steele, 727 824 5305; fax 727–824–5308; e-mail: phil.steele@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Council addressed overcapacity in the red snapper fishery in 1995 through Amendment 8 to the FMP. In this amendment, the Council examined several management alternatives including license limitation, IFQs, and more traditional management measures (i.e., open access), and determined an IFQ program had the most potential to address the immediate overcapitalization problems and achieve OY from the fishery. However, Amendment 8 was never implemented because of congressional action. Following the expiration of the congressional IFQ moratorium, NMFS conducted a referendum required by Section 407(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) to determine whether commercial red snapper fishermen supported further consideration of an IFQ program. The Council began developing this amendment following a majority ‘‘yes’’ vote on the referendum. NMFS conducted the second referendum required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to determine whether fishermen approved the IFQ amendment developed by the Council for submission to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). Following a majority ‘‘yes’’ vote in the second referendum, the Council at its March 2006 meeting voted to submit the IFQ amendment to the Secretary for review. The main action in this amendment (Action 1) is to establish an IFQ program. The following actions (Actions 2–11) determine the structure of the VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:39 Aug 01, 2006 Jkt 208001 program. These actions are: IFQ program duration; ownership caps and restrictions on IFQ share certificates; eligibility for initial IFQ allocation; initial apportionment of IFQ shares; establishment and structure of an appeals process; transfer eligibility requirements; use it or lose it clause for IFQ shares or allocations; adjustments in commercial quota; use of a vessel monitoring system; and a cost recovery plan. A proposed rule that would implement the measures outlined in Amendment 26 has been received from the Council. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment. Comments received by October 2, 2006, whether specifically directed to Amendment 26 or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment. Comments received after that date will not be considered by NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed in the final rule. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: July 28, 2006. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–6645 Filed 7–28–06; 2:19 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 060719196–6196–01.; I.D. 071106F] RIN 0648–AU54 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule, request for comments. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43707 SUMMARY: The final rule implementing the specifications for the 2005 fishing year for Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish (MSB) clarified the expiration date of the limited entry program for Illex squid, established a minimum mesh requirement for the butterfish fishery, and removed a regulatory requirement for annual specifications to be published by a specific date. These regulatory measures were intended to be of a permanent nature, unlike the specifications themselves, which expired January 1, 2006. An error in the final rule caused these three measures to expire; this proposed rule would restore the regulatory requirements. This action is being taken by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, on August 17, 2006. ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents used by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council), including the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), for the 2005 specifications are available from: Daniel Furlong, Executive Director, MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council, Room 2115, Federal Building, 300 South New Street, Dover, DE 19904–6790. The EA/RIR/IRFA is accessible via the Internet at http:/www.nero.noaa.gov. Comments on the proposed rule should be sent to: Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, Northeast Regional Office, NMFS, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298. Please mark the envelope, ‘‘Comments– 2005 MSB Specifications Corrections.’’ Comments also may be sent via facsimile (fax) to 978–281–9135. Comments on the specifications may be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is MSB2005corrections@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: ‘‘Comments–2005 MSB Corrections.’’ Comments may also be submitted via Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.com by following the instructions at that site for submitting comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Frei, Fishery Management Specialist, 978–281–9221, fax 978–281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background NMFS published final specifications for the 2005 fishing year for MSB in the E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1 43708 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 148 / Wednesday, August 2, 2006 / Proposed Rules Federal Register on March 21, 2005 (70 FR 13406), and the measures became effective on April 20, 2005. The final rule included regulatory changes that were meant to be permanent, as well as the MSB specifications which were intended to expire on January 1, 2006. However, in the effective dates section of the final rule, the distinction between the annual specifications and the permanent regulations was not defined and, as a result, all of the measures of the final rule expired on January 1, 2006. This proposed action permanently reestablishes the regulatory measures as intended. Proposed Measures Illex Moratorium Permits Framework 4 to the MSB Fishery Management Plan (FMP) became effective July 1, 2004(69 FR 30839, June 1, 2004), and extended the limited entry program for the Illex squid fishery through July 1, 2009. In a subsequent regulatory action, the text reflecting the extension was, as mentioned above, not identified as a permanent regulation and therefore expired on January 1, 2006. This proposed rule would specify the July 1, 2009, expiration date in the regulatory text. Gear Specifications For Otter Trawl Butterfish Trips The final rule implementing the 2005 MSB specifications included a 3.0–inch (7.62–cm) minimum codend mesh size requirement for butterfish otter trawl trips of greater than 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). The measure was described in detail in the proposed rule for the 2005 MSB specifications (70 FR 1686, January 10, 2005) and is only summarized here. The purpose of this minimum mesh size requirement is to allow for escapement of unmarketable butterfish and butterfish below the size at which 50 percent are sexually mature. This minimum mesh size requirement reduces discards in the directed fishery, especially of small, sexually immature butterfish, which will increase the chance of successful recruitment and aid in stock rebuilding. This proposed rule would re-establish the minimum mesh size requirements in the regulations. mstockstill on PROD1PC68 with PROPOSALS Annual Specifications The final rule for implementing the 2005 MSB specifications included a clarification to the regulations in § 648.21, removing references to the dates on which the proposed and final rules for the annual specifications must be published by the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:39 Aug 01, 2006 Jkt 208001 Administrator), because it is not necessary to specify those dates in regulatory text. This proposed rule would re-instate that clarification by removing the unnecessary dates. Classification This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866. The Council prepared an IRFA for the 2005 MSB specifications, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which describes the economic impacts this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A copy of the IRFA can be obtained from the Council or NMFS (see ADDRESSES) or via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov. A summary of the analysis follows: A description of the reasons why this action is being considered, and the objectives of and legal basis for this action, is contained in the preamble to this proposed rule and the proposed rule for the 2005 MSB specifications and is not repeated here. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Will Apply The number of potential fishing vessels in the 2005 fisheries were 72 for Illex squid, and 2,119 vessels with incidental catch permits for squid/ butterfish, based on vessel permit issuance. There are no large entities participating in this fishery, as defined in section 601 of the RFA. Therefore, there are no disproportionate economic impacts. Many vessels participate in more than one of these fisheries; therefore, the numbers are not additive. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This action does not contain any new collection-of-information, reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. It does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. Minimizing Significant Economic Impacts on Small Entities The proposed action would implement a 3.0–inch (7.62–cm) minimum codend mesh size requirement for otter trawl trips landing more than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish. During the period 2001– 2003, 16,854 trips landed butterfish, based on unpublished NMFS Vessel Trip Report (VTR) data. More than half (57 percent) of the landings of butterfish during 2001–2003 were taken with mesh sizes less than 3.0 inches (7.62– cm). Within this mesh size range, most PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 were taken with mesh sizes between 2.5 inches (6.35–cm) and 3.0 inches (7.62– cm). The trips using this mesh size range (i.e., less than 3.0 inches (7.62– cm))could potentially be affected by the proposed mesh size. However, the proposed 3.0–inch (7.62–cm) mesh requirement would only apply to otter trawl trips landing 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) or more of butterfish. In terms of numerical frequency of trips, the vast majority of trips during 2001–2003 landed less than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish, based on NMFS VTR data. While 57 percent of the landings by weight were taken on trips of greater than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) during the period, fewer than 1 percent of the trips landing butterfish landed more than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg). Only 26 vessels had trips that included landings of butterfish of 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) or more, and also reported using mesh sizes less than 3.0 inches (7.62 cm) on those trips. Therefore, it is expected that the economic impact of this proposed measure would be negligible, because the vast majority of trips and vessels would not be affected. The costs for those vessels that do land butterfish on trips of more than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish should also be negligible because virtually all of those vessels already possess codends with 3.0- inch (7.62–cm) mesh or greater (because they are fishing for butterfish or in another fishery that uses nets of that size, e.g., whiting). Therefore, they should not incur any additional costs due to the proposed minimum mesh size requirement. When the Council considered implementing a mesh size requirement for butterfish landings, the only alternative to the proposed action considered was not implementing any mesh size requirement. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: July 27, 2006. William T. Hogarth, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.4, the introductory text of paragraph (a)(5)(i) is added to read as follows: § 684.4 Vessel permits. (a) * * * E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 148 / Wednesday, August 2, 2006 / Proposed Rules (5) * * * (i) Loligo squid/butterfish and Illex squid moratorium permits (Illex squid moratorium is in effect until July 1, 2009). * * * * * 3. In § 648.14, paragraphs (a)(74) and (p)(5) are added and paragraph (p)(11) is added to read as follows: § 648.14 Prohibitions. (a) * * * (74) Possess nets or netting with mesh not meeting the minimum size requirements of § 648.23, and not stowed in accordance with the requirements of § 648.23, if in possession of Loligo or butterfish harvested in or from the EEZ. * * * * * (p) * * * (5) Fish with or possess nets or netting that do not meet the minimum mesh requirements for Loligo or butterfish specified in § 648.23(a), or that are modified, obstructed, or constricted, if subject to the minimum mesh requirements, unless the nets or netting are stowed in accordance with § 648.23(b) or the vessel is fishing under an exemption specified in § 648.23(a). * * * * * (11) Possess 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) or more of butterfish, unless the vessel meets the minimum mesh size requirement specified in § 648.23(a)(2). * * * * * 4. In § 648.21, paragraph (d) is added to read as follows: § 648.21 Procedures for determining initial annual amounts. mstockstill on PROD1PC68 with PROPOSALS * * * * * (d) Annual fishing measures. (1) The Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee will review the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received thereon, the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee must recommend to the MAFMC appropriate specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded. The MAFMC will review these recommendations and, based on the recommendations and any public comment received thereon, must recommend to the Regional Administrator appropriate specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded. The MAFMC’s recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental, economic, and social VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:39 Aug 01, 2006 Jkt 208001 impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator will review the recommendations and will publish notification in the Federal Register proposing specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and providing a 30–day public comment period. If the proposed specifications differ from those recommended by the MAFMC, the reasons for any differences must be clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the criteria set forth in this section. The MAFMC’s recommendations will be available for inspection at the office of the Regional Administrator during the public comment period. If the annual specifications for squid, mackerel, and butterfish are not published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year, the previous year’s annual specifications, excluding specifications of TALFF, will remain in effect. The previous year’s specifications will be superceded as of the effective date of the final rule implementing the current year’s annual specifications. (2) The Assistant Administrator will make a final determination concerning the specifications for each species and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications contained in the Federal Register notification will not be exceeded. After the Assistant Administrator considers all relevant data and any public comments, notification of the final specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and responses to the public comments will be published in the Federal Register. If the final specification amounts differ from those recommended by the MAFMC, the reason(s) for the difference(s) must be clearly stated and the revised specifications must be consistent with the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. * * * * * 5. In § 648.23, paragraph (a) is added to read as follows: § 648.23 PO 00000 for at least 100 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, or for codends with less than 100 meshes, the minimum mesh size codend shall be a minimum of one-third of the net measured from the terminus of the codend to the headrope. (3) Owners or operators of otter trawl vessels possessing Loligo harvested in or from the EEZ may only fish with nets having a minimum mesh size of 1 7/8 inches (48 mm) diamond mesh, inside stretch measure, applied throughout the codend for at least 150 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, or for codends with less than 150 meshes, the minimum mesh size codend shall be a minimum of one-third of the net measured from the terminus of the codend to the headrope, unless they are fishing during the months of June, July, August, and September for Illex seaward of the following coordinates (copies of a map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request): Point Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 N. Lat. W. Long. 43 ° 58.0′ 43 °50.0′ 43 °30.0′ 43 °20.0′ 42 °45.0′ 42 °13.0′ 41 °00.0′ 41 °45.0′ 42 °10.0′ 41 °18.6′ 40 °55.5′ 40 °45.5′ 40 °37.0′ 40 °30.0′ 40 °22.7′ 40 °18.7′ 40 °21.0′ 39 °41.0′ 38 °47.0′ 38 °04.0′ 37 °08.0′ 36 °00.0′ 35 °45.0′ 35 °28.0′ M1 M2 M3 M4 M5 M6 M7 M8 M9 M10 M11 M12 M13 M14 M15 M16 M17 M18 M19 M20 M21 M22 M23 M24 Gear restrictions. (a) Mesh restrictions and exemptions. (1) Vessels subject to the mesh restrictions outlined in this paragraph (a) may not have available for immediate use any net, or any piece of net, with a mesh size smaller than that required. (2) Owners or operators of otter trawl vessels possessing 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) or more of butterfish harvested in or from the EEZ may only fish with nets having a minimum codend mesh of 3 inches (76 mm) diamond mesh, inside stretch measure, applied throughout the codend 43709 67 ° 22.0′ 68 °35.0′ 69 °40.0′ 70 °00.0′ 70 °10.0′ 69 °55.0′ 69 °00.0′ 68 °15.0′ 67 °10.0′ 66 °24.8′ 66 °38.0′ 68 °00.0′ 68 °00.0′ 69 °00.0′ 69 °00.0′ 69 °40.0′ 71 °03.0′ 72 °32.0′ 73 °11.0′ 74 °06.0′ 4 °46.0′ 74 °52.0′ 74 °53.0′ 74 °52.0′ (4) Vessels fishing under this exemption may not have available for immediate use, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, any net, or any piece of net, with a mesh size less than 1 7/ 8 inches (48 mm) diamond mesh or any net, or any piece of net, with mesh that is rigged in a manner that is prohibited by paragraph (c) and (d) of this section, when the vessel is landward of the specified coordinates. [FR Doc. E6–12482 Filed 8–1–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 148 (Wednesday, August 2, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 43707-43709]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-12482]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 060719196-6196-01.; I.D. 071106F]
RIN 0648-AU54


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, 
Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries

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

ACTION:  Proposed rule, request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY:  The final rule implementing the specifications for the 2005 
fishing year for Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish (MSB) 
clarified the expiration date of the limited entry program for Illex 
squid, established a minimum mesh requirement for the butterfish 
fishery, and removed a regulatory requirement for annual specifications 
to be published by a specific date. These regulatory measures were 
intended to be of a permanent nature, unlike the specifications 
themselves, which expired January 1, 2006. An error in the final rule 
caused these three measures to expire; this proposed rule would restore 
the regulatory requirements. This action is being taken by NMFS under 
the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES:  Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., Eastern 
Daylight Time, on August 17, 2006.

ADDRESSES:  Copies of supporting documents used by the Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (Council), including the Environmental 
Assessment (EA) and Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), for the 2005 specifications are available 
from: Daniel Furlong, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, Room 2115, Federal Building, 300 South New Street, 
Dover, DE 19904-6790. The EA/RIR/IRFA is accessible via the Internet at 
http:/www.nero.noaa.gov.
    Comments on the proposed rule should be sent to: Patricia A. 
Kurkul, Regional Administrator, Northeast Regional Office, NMFS, One 
Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298. Please mark the envelope, 
``Comments-2005 MSB Specifications Corrections.'' Comments also may be 
sent via facsimile (fax) to 978-281-9135. Comments on the 
specifications may be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for 
providing e-mail comments is MSB2005corrections@noaa.gov. Include in 
the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document 
identifier: ``Comments-2005 MSB Corrections.'' Comments may also be 
submitted via Webform at the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
www.regulations.com by following the instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Frei, Fishery Management 
Specialist, 978-281-9221, fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    NMFS published final specifications for the 2005 fishing year for 
MSB in the

[[Page 43708]]

Federal Register on March 21, 2005 (70 FR 13406), and the measures 
became effective on April 20, 2005. The final rule included regulatory 
changes that were meant to be permanent, as well as the MSB 
specifications which were intended to expire on January 1, 2006. 
However, in the effective dates section of the final rule, the 
distinction between the annual specifications and the permanent 
regulations was not defined and, as a result, all of the measures of 
the final rule expired on January 1, 2006. This proposed action 
permanently reestablishes the regulatory measures as intended.

Proposed Measures

Illex Moratorium Permits

    Framework 4 to the MSB Fishery Management Plan (FMP) became 
effective July 1, 2004(69 FR 30839, June 1, 2004), and extended the 
limited entry program for the Illex squid fishery through July 1, 2009. 
In a subsequent regulatory action, the text reflecting the extension 
was, as mentioned above, not identified as a permanent regulation and 
therefore expired on January 1, 2006. This proposed rule would specify 
the July 1, 2009, expiration date in the regulatory text.

Gear Specifications For Otter Trawl Butterfish Trips

    The final rule implementing the 2005 MSB specifications included a 
3.0-inch (7.62-cm) minimum codend mesh size requirement for butterfish 
otter trawl trips of greater than 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). The measure was 
described in detail in the proposed rule for the 2005 MSB 
specifications (70 FR 1686, January 10, 2005) and is only summarized 
here. The purpose of this minimum mesh size requirement is to allow for 
escapement of unmarketable butterfish and butterfish below the size at 
which 50 percent are sexually mature. This minimum mesh size 
requirement reduces discards in the directed fishery, especially of 
small, sexually immature butterfish, which will increase the chance of 
successful recruitment and aid in stock rebuilding. This proposed rule 
would re-establish the minimum mesh size requirements in the 
regulations.

Annual Specifications

    The final rule for implementing the 2005 MSB specifications 
included a clarification to the regulations in Sec.  648.21, removing 
references to the dates on which the proposed and final rules for the 
annual specifications must be published by the Administrator, Northeast 
Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), because it is not necessary to 
specify those dates in regulatory text. This proposed rule would re-
instate that clarification by removing the unnecessary dates.

Classification

    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and has been 
determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866. The 
Council prepared an IRFA for the 2005 MSB specifications, as required 
by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which describes 
the economic impacts this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on 
small entities. A copy of the IRFA can be obtained from the Council or 
NMFS (see ADDRESSES) or via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov. A 
summary of the analysis follows:
    A description of the reasons why this action is being considered, 
and the objectives of and legal basis for this action, is contained in 
the preamble to this proposed rule and the proposed rule for the 2005 
MSB specifications and is not repeated here.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Will Apply

    The number of potential fishing vessels in the 2005 fisheries were 
72 for Illex squid, and 2,119 vessels with incidental catch permits for 
squid/butterfish, based on vessel permit issuance. There are no large 
entities participating in this fishery, as defined in section 601 of 
the RFA. Therefore, there are no disproportionate economic impacts. 
Many vessels participate in more than one of these fisheries; 
therefore, the numbers are not additive.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This action does not contain any new collection-of-information, 
reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. It does not 
duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules.
    Minimizing Significant Economic Impacts on Small Entities
    The proposed action would implement a 3.0-inch (7.62-cm) minimum 
codend mesh size requirement for otter trawl trips landing more than 
5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish. During the period 2001-2003, 16,854 
trips landed butterfish, based on unpublished NMFS Vessel Trip Report 
(VTR) data. More than half (57 percent) of the landings of butterfish 
during 2001-2003 were taken with mesh sizes less than 3.0 inches (7.62-
cm). Within this mesh size range, most were taken with mesh sizes 
between 2.5 inches (6.35-cm) and 3.0 inches (7.62-cm). The trips using 
this mesh size range (i.e., less than 3.0 inches (7.62-cm))could 
potentially be affected by the proposed mesh size. However, the 
proposed 3.0-inch (7.62-cm) mesh requirement would only apply to otter 
trawl trips landing 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) or more of butterfish. In terms 
of numerical frequency of trips, the vast majority of trips during 
2001-2003 landed less than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish, based on 
NMFS VTR data. While 57 percent of the landings by weight were taken on 
trips of greater than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) during the period, fewer than 
1 percent of the trips landing butterfish landed more than 5,000 lb 
(2,278 kg). Only 26 vessels had trips that included landings of 
butterfish of 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) or more, and also reported using mesh 
sizes less than 3.0 inches (7.62 cm) on those trips. Therefore, it is 
expected that the economic impact of this proposed measure would be 
negligible, because the vast majority of trips and vessels would not be 
affected. The costs for those vessels that do land butterfish on trips 
of more than 5,000 lb (2,278 kg) of butterfish should also be 
negligible because virtually all of those vessels already possess 
codends with 3.0- inch (7.62-cm) mesh or greater (because they are 
fishing for butterfish or in another fishery that uses nets of that 
size, e.g., whiting). Therefore, they should not incur any additional 
costs due to the proposed minimum mesh size requirement. When the 
Council considered implementing a mesh size requirement for butterfish 
landings, the only alternative to the proposed action considered was 
not implementing any mesh size requirement.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: July 27, 2006.
William T. Hogarth,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed 
to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

    1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    2. In Sec.  648.4, the introductory text of paragraph (a)(5)(i) is 
added to read as follows:


Sec.  684.4  Vessel permits.

    (a) * * *

[[Page 43709]]

    (5) * * *
    (i) Loligo squid/butterfish and Illex squid moratorium permits 
(Illex squid moratorium is in effect until July 1, 2009).
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  648.14, paragraphs (a)(74) and (p)(5) are added and 
paragraph (p)(11) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

    (a) * * *
    (74) Possess nets or netting with mesh not meeting the minimum size 
requirements of Sec.  648.23, and not stowed in accordance with the 
requirements of Sec.  648.23, if in possession of Loligo or butterfish 
harvested in or from the EEZ.
* * * * *
    (p) * * *
    (5) Fish with or possess nets or netting that do not meet the 
minimum mesh requirements for Loligo or butterfish specified in Sec.  
648.23(a), or that are modified, obstructed, or constricted, if subject 
to the minimum mesh requirements, unless the nets or netting are stowed 
in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b) or the vessel is fishing under an 
exemption specified in Sec.  648.23(a).
* * * * *
    (11) Possess 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) or more of butterfish, unless the 
vessel meets the minimum mesh size requirement specified in Sec.  
648.23(a)(2).
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  648.21, paragraph (d) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.21  Procedures for determining initial annual amounts.

* * * * *
    (d) Annual fishing measures. (1) The Squid, Mackerel, and 
Butterfish Committee will review the recommendations of the Monitoring 
Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment 
received thereon, the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee must 
recommend to the MAFMC appropriate specifications and any measures 
necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded. The 
MAFMC will review these recommendations and, based on the 
recommendations and any public comment received thereon, must recommend 
to the Regional Administrator appropriate specifications and any 
measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be 
exceeded. The MAFMC's recommendations must include supporting 
documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental, economic, 
and social impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator 
will review the recommendations and will publish notification in the 
Federal Register proposing specifications and any measures necessary to 
assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and providing a 30-
day public comment period. If the proposed specifications differ from 
those recommended by the MAFMC, the reasons for any differences must be 
clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the criteria 
set forth in this section. The MAFMC's recommendations will be 
available for inspection at the office of the Regional Administrator 
during the public comment period. If the annual specifications for 
squid, mackerel, and butterfish are not published in the Federal 
Register prior to the start of the fishing year, the previous year's 
annual specifications, excluding specifications of TALFF, will remain 
in effect. The previous year's specifications will be superceded as of 
the effective date of the final rule implementing the current year's 
annual specifications.
    (2) The Assistant Administrator will make a final determination 
concerning the specifications for each species and any measures 
necessary to assure that the specifications contained in the Federal 
Register notification will not be exceeded. After the Assistant 
Administrator considers all relevant data and any public comments, 
notification of the final specifications and any measures necessary to 
assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and responses to 
the public comments will be published in the Federal Register. If the 
final specification amounts differ from those recommended by the MAFMC, 
the reason(s) for the difference(s) must be clearly stated and the 
revised specifications must be consistent with the criteria set forth 
in paragraph (b) of this section.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  648.23, paragraph (a) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.23  Gear restrictions.

    (a) Mesh restrictions and exemptions. (1) Vessels subject to the 
mesh restrictions outlined in this paragraph (a) may not have available 
for immediate use any net, or any piece of net, with a mesh size 
smaller than that required.
    (2) Owners or operators of otter trawl vessels possessing 5,000 lb 
(2.27 mt) or more of butterfish harvested in or from the EEZ may only 
fish with nets having a minimum codend mesh of 3 inches (76 mm) diamond 
mesh, inside stretch measure, applied throughout the codend for at 
least 100 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, or for 
codends with less than 100 meshes, the minimum mesh size codend shall 
be a minimum of one-third of the net measured from the terminus of the 
codend to the headrope.
    (3) Owners or operators of otter trawl vessels possessing Loligo 
harvested in or from the EEZ may only fish with nets having a minimum 
mesh size of 1 7/8 inches (48 mm) diamond mesh, inside stretch measure, 
applied throughout the codend for at least 150 continuous meshes 
forward of the terminus of the net, or for codends with less than 150 
meshes, the minimum mesh size codend shall be a minimum of one-third of 
the net measured from the terminus of the codend to the headrope, 
unless they are fishing during the months of June, July, August, and 
September for Illex seaward of the following coordinates (copies of a 
map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator 
upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Point                      N. Lat.           W. Long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
M1                                    43 [deg] 58.0'     67 [deg] 22.0'
M2                                    43 [deg]50.0'       68 [deg]35.0'
M3                                    43 [deg]30.0'       69 [deg]40.0'
M4                                    43 [deg]20.0'       70 [deg]00.0'
M5                                    42 [deg]45.0'       70 [deg]10.0'
M6                                    42 [deg]13.0'       69 [deg]55.0'
M7                                    41 [deg]00.0'       69 [deg]00.0'
M8                                    41 [deg]45.0'       68 [deg]15.0'
M9                                    42 [deg]10.0'       67 [deg]10.0'
M10                                   41 [deg]18.6'       66 [deg]24.8'
M11                                   40 [deg]55.5'       66 [deg]38.0'
M12                                   40 [deg]45.5'       68 [deg]00.0'
M13                                   40 [deg]37.0'       68 [deg]00.0'
M14                                   40 [deg]30.0'       69 [deg]00.0'
M15                                   40 [deg]22.7'       69 [deg]00.0'
M16                                   40 [deg]18.7'       69 [deg]40.0'
M17                                   40 [deg]21.0'       71 [deg]03.0'
M18                                   39 [deg]41.0'       72 [deg]32.0'
M19                                   38 [deg]47.0'       73 [deg]11.0'
M20                                   38 [deg]04.0'       74 [deg]06.0'
M21                                   37 [deg]08.0'        4 [deg]46.0'
M22                                   36 [deg]00.0'       74 [deg]52.0'
M23                                   35 [deg]45.0'       74 [deg]53.0'
M24                                   35 [deg]28.0'       74 [deg]52.0'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (4) Vessels fishing under this exemption may not have available for 
immediate use, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, any net, or 
any piece of net, with a mesh size less than 1 7/8 inches (48 mm) 
diamond mesh or any net, or any piece of net, with mesh that is rigged 
in a manner that is prohibited by paragraph (c) and (d) of this 
section, when the vessel is landward of the specified coordinates.
[FR Doc. E6-12482 Filed 8-1-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S