Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit, 15738-15741 [E8-6009]

Download as PDF 15738 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 58 / Tuesday, March 25, 2008 / Notices mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with NOTICES • Timeliness of the company’s completed application, participation agreement, and payment of the mission participation fee; • Certification that the company’s products and/or services are manufactured or produced in the United States or, if manufactured/produced outside of the United States, the products/services must be marketed under the name of a U.S. firm and have U.S. content representing at least 51 percent of the value of the finished goods or services; • Diversity of health-care sectors represented; and • Rank/seniority of the designated company representative. Any partisan political activities of an applicant, including political contributions, will be entirely irrelevant to the selection process. The mission will be promoted through the following venues: ITA’s Export Assistance Centers, the Health and Consumer Goods team, the Service Industries team, the Asia Pacific Team, the Trade Events List http:// www.export.gov; the Federal Register; relevant trade associations; past Commerce health-care policy event participants; and the Commerce Department trade missions calendar: http://www.ita.doc.gov/doctm/ tmcal.html. Recruitment will begin immediately and will close on April 1, 2007. The trade mission participation fee will be U.S. $1,250 per company. Each participating organization will be allowed to send only one representative. The participation fee does not include the cost of travel, lodging, some ground transportation, or some meals. Participation is open to 15 qualified U.S. companies. Invited companies must submit the trade mission participation fee and completed participation agreement within one week of receipt of their invitation in order to secure their place in the mission. After that time, other companies may be invited to fill that spot. Applications received after the closing date will be considered only if space and scheduling constraints permit. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anthony Cino, U.S. Department of Commerce, e-mail: anthony_cino@ita.doc.gov, telephone: VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:33 Mar 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 202–482–5679, facsimile: 202–482– 2266. Anthony Cino, Office of the Chinese Economic Area, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. [FR Doc. E8–5935 Filed 3–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–25–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Notice of Inventions Available for Licensing National Institute of Standards and Technology, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of inventions available for licensing. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The inventions listed below are owned in whole or in part by the U.S. Government, as represented by the Secretary of Commerce. The U.S. Government’s interest in these inventions is available for licensing in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 207 and 37 CFR part 404 to achieve expeditious commercialization of results of federally funded research and development. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Technical and licensing information on these inventions may be obtained by writing to: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Office of Technology Partnerships, Attn: Mary Clague, Building 222, Room A155, Gaithersburg, MD 20899. Information is also available via telephone: 301–975– 4188, fax 301–975–3482, or e-mail: mary.clague@nist.gov. Any request for information should include the NIST Docket number and title for the invention as indicated below. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NIST may enter into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (‘‘CRADA’’) with the licensee to perform further research on the invention for purposes of commercialization. The inventions available for licensing are: [NIST DOCKET NUMBER: 7–003] Title: Highly Charged Ion Modified Oxides (HCIMO) for Tunable Resistance. Abstract: Highly Charged Ion Modified Oxides (HCIMO) are achieved by irradiating a thin, high resistance oxide with highly charged ions (HCIs) and then depositing a conducting material of choice on top the irradiated oxide. The irradiation by HCIs preferentially ablates a region on the order of a cubic nanometer at each HCI’s impact site breaking a hole through the ultra-thin oxide. This is demonstrated PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 by preparing an insulating layer of aluminum oxide on a cobalt lower electrode layer, exposing the oxide to very dilute HCI radiation, and then depositing a cobalt upper layer. The data show a clear and systematic decrease in the resistance of the multilayer devices correlated to the HCI dose at very dilute doses. The nanometer dimensions of individual HCI impacts and the precise control over the dose combine to allow high precision selection of the material’s resistance over a wide range of values, currently demonstrated over three orders of magnitude. As HCI modification only occurs within a few nanometers of the surface and generally does not affect metals, no special measures are needed to protect surrounding device structures from HCI damage. Since the size of the material modification is determined by the properties of a single ion, precise alignment is not required, only uniform illumination of the device area by the HCI beam, greatly simplifying commercial integration of HCI irradiation. [NIST DOCKET NUMBER: 7–008] Title: A Four-Wave Mixing Source of Squeezed Light for Image Processing and Interferometry Abstract: The invention provides a source of squeezed light, generated using a 4-level, four-wave mixing scheme in rubidium vapor. Strong relative-number squeezing between two beams has been demonstrated; much stronger than previously seen in any four-wave mixing system. The scheme relies on a chi(3) nonlinearity, and a single-pass, no-cavity, experimental implementation which has relaxed phase matching requirements, as compared to chi(2) crystal sources, and easily produces squeezing in multiple spatial modes. Dated: March 18, 2008. Richard F. Kayser, Acting Deputy Director. [FR Doc. E8–6029 Filed 3–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG61 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\25MRN1.SGM 25MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 58 / Tuesday, March 25, 2008 / Notices Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. Comments on this notice may be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is StudyFleetEFP@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: ‘‘Comments on NEFSC Study Fleet Programmatic EFP.’’ Written comments should be sent to Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on NEFSC Study Fleet Programmatic EFP.’’ Comments may also be sent via facsimile (fax) to (978) 281–9135. ADDRESSES: SUMMARY: The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Northeast Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator) has made a preliminary determination that the subject programmatic Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application for the Study Fleet Program contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. Study Fleet projects are managed by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and funded under the Northeast Cooperative Research Partners Program (NCRPP) contracts and Research Set-Aside (RSA) grants to regional institutions. The programmatic EFP would grant exemptions from minimum fish size and possession and landing limits. However, further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional Administrator proposes to issue a programmatic EFP that would allow up to 30 vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations governing the fisheries of the Northeastern United States. Regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed EFPs. DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 9, 2008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone: 978–281–9218, fax: 978–281– 9135. The EFP would programmatically exempt federally permitted commercial fishing vessels from the regulations detailed below participating in the Study Fleet Program and operating under projects managed by the NEFSC and funded by NCRPP contracts and Research-SetAside (RSA) grants. The programmatic EFP would cover two tiers of exemptions. The first tier would exempt vessels operators and technicians from minimum size and possession limits for the time it takes to weigh and measure fish that would otherwise be discarded. The second tier would exempt vessels from minimum size and possession and landing limits of otherwise prohibited fish. The programmatic EFP would cover the following Study Fleet projects, the vessels associated with such SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 15739 projects, and the study fleet technicians and vessel operators: (1) NEFSC - NCRPP Groundfish Fleet Northern (three vessels) and Southern (two vessels) trawlers, with up to five additional vessels. (2) NEFSC - Groundfish/Loligo Fleet (three vessels, up to three additional vessels). (3) NEFSC - University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) Cooperative Marine Education and Research (CMER) Southern New England (SNE) Yellowtail Flounder Fleet (three vessels). (4) NEFSC - Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) - Monkfish Fleet (up to five vessels). (5) SMAST - Georges Bank (GB) Multispecies Fleet (five vessels). A project- and vessel-specific EFP, detailing all vessels involved in each the projects, would be granted to each vessel to facilitate this research. The EFP would specify under which restrictions and exemptions the vessel would be required to operate. The Tier 1 EFP would specify that the retention of otherwise prohibited fish is temporary only, and fish must be returned to the sea as quickly as possible, after weighing and measuring. The Tier 2 EFP would specify the limited amounts of otherwise prohibited fish that could be retained and landed. The following table details the regulations that the participating vessels would be exempted from, and the number of at-sea days that vessels would be permitted to operate under the exemptions: # of Vessels Discard Sampling at-sea days (Technician) Discard Sampling at-sea days (Crew/ Captain) Biological Sampling atsea days (Technician) Biological Sampling at-sea days (Crew/Captain) Exempted Regulations in 50 CFR part 648 NEFSC/NRCPP Groundfish Fleet up to 10 100 50 0 March - April samples 4-6 totes whole haddock § 648.83(a)(3) NE multispecies minimum size Possession limits § 648.86(b) Atlantic cod § 648.86(c) Atlantic halibut § 648.86(e) White hake § 648.86(g) Yellowtail flounder § 648.86(j) GB winter flounder NEFSC Groundfish/ Loligo up to 6 60 30 60 0 All of the above, plus, if during closure of directed fishery, § 648.22(c) Incidental possession limit of Loligo NEFSC/SMAST/ CMERSNE Yellowtail Flounder 3 30 90 30 Monthly totes at least 100 fish each § 648.83(a)(3) NE multispecies minimum size § 648.86(g)(1) SNE Yellowtail flounder possession limit mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with NOTICES Study Fleet Project VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:33 Mar 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\25MRN1.SGM 25MRN1 15740 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 58 / Tuesday, March 25, 2008 / Notices # of Vessels Discard Sampling at-sea days (Technician) Discard Sampling at-sea days (Crew/ Captain) Biological Sampling atsea days (Technician) NEFSC/GMRI Monkfish 5 80 160 80 0 § 648.93 Monkfish minimum fish size § 648.94 Monkfish possession limit SMAST GB Groundfish 5 50 0 50 0 Same as NEFSC/ NRCPP Groundfish Fleet Project Study Fleet Project Tier 1 The first aspect of the project would temporarily exempt the Study Fleet vessels from all minimum size and possession limits for the time it takes to measure and weigh otherwise prohibited fish. This exemption would allow NEFSC to understand the issues that affect the accuracy of estimated discard weights and to improve analyses. The protocol under which the NEFSC staff and the vessel operators would conduct these measurements is not significantly different than the protocol currently used by NMFScertified observers. Under this protocol, no other change to normal commercial fishing operators would occur. Initially, NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians would be onboard the vessels to provide data entry training and to observe and report on sorting and discarding practices under normal fishing operations. On some subsequent trips, technicians would sort, weigh, and measure fish that are to be discarded, in a method that is consistent with current NEFSC observer protocols. An exemption is required because some discarded species would be on deck slightly longer than under normal sorting procedures. The goal is to identify sorting routines that would minimally impact the duration of catch processing, and technicians would return the fish to the water as soon as possible. On other trips, the vessel operators and crew would be responsible for sorting, weighing, and measuring the fish that are to be discarded from a random number of tows and trips, following the established protocol. These crew and operators would be trained in the protocol by the NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians and would return the fish to the water as soon as possible. mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with NOTICES Tier 2 The second aspect of the programmatic EFP for the Study Fleet would allow more in-depth biological sampling to occur on various ages of fish by exempting vessels from minimum size, possession, and landing VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:33 Mar 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 Biological Sampling at-sea days (Crew/Captain) limits of species of interest. Some of the biological sampling would be done by a Study Fleet technician during a trip, as available during normal commercial fishingoperations. That is, while a crew member is dressing a fish for storage, the Study Fleet technician would collect the stomach and gonads of that fish for later research. For this tier, vessels would be exempted from minimum size requirements and possession and landing limits, as applicable, in very limited circumstances. Vessel operators on specified trips, using marked totes, would collect fish to be provided to the NEFSC for biological sampling only. Project-specific biological sampling to obtain maturity, fecundity, age, and growth data would require a separate EFP for possession and sampling of species of interest, including undersized individuals, possibly in excess of trip limits, where samples may be processed at sea or retained for delivery to research facilities on shore by the Study Fleet vessels. The current interest in enhanced biological sampling is in response to initial Study Fleet goals endorsed by the NCRPP and the New England Fishery Management Council’s Research Steering Committee. The initial biological sampling program and protocol development would focus on obtaining haddock and yellowtail flounder samples to evaluate maturity and fecundity patterns that may be affected by recent strong year classes. Samples of large monkfish, large cod, and other species would be used to fill in gaps in port-based sampling. See below for detailed descriptions of catch estimates for each of the five Study Fleet projects. A small number of live fish would also be collected to support laboratory studies in survival. Sampling would be done by NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians and by trained crew members. On trips where the technicians would be on board, standard NEFSC sampling protocols would be followed. None of the landed biological samples from these trips would be sold. On trips where technicians would not be on board, select vessel operators or crew would PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Exempted Regulations in 50 CFR part 648 separate fish to be sampled by technicians in port. The EFP for biological sampling would allow fishermen to retain specified amounts of specific species in whole or round weight condition, including some undersized individuals, in marked totes, which would be delivered to Study Fleet technicians or local NMFS port agents for enumeration and measurement. It is anticipated that these whole fish may cause a vessel to exceed a regulatory trip limit. The EFP would exempt the vessels from the trip limits in limited situations so that the vessel is not disadvantaged when collecting biological samples. NMFS would receive advance notification of specific plans for retention under this EFP. This notification would provide the vessel name and vessel operator, the number of marked totes that would be delivered, an estimate of the number of undersized individuals that would be retained, and an estimated time frame for the sampling trips. The amount of fish delivered to the Study Fleet technicians would not exceed five totes, or 700 lb (317.51 kg) per trip. Vessels fishing under this EFP would be required to call into the Interactive Voice Response system to identify the trip, following the standard EFP protocol. Each of the biological sampling projects is detailed below. Please see the table above for details on the regulations that would be exempted. The NEFSC Groundfish and Groundfish and Loligo projects would involve sampling seven species on a maximum of 20 trips with technicians aboard. This sampling would not affect trip limits because the undersized fish would be discarded at sea. The estimated maximum discard weight of sampled sub-legal fish is 4,000 lb (1,814.37kg) per species per trip (100 lengths X 20 trips = 2,000 individuals X mean weight of 2 lb (0.91 kg) = 4,000 lb (1,814.37 kg) per species), not to exceed 8,000 lb (3628.74 kg) per species per trip if two statistical areas are sampled on the same trip. Also under the NEFSC Groundfish project, GB haddock maturity and E:\FR\FM\25MRN1.SGM 25MRN1 mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 58 / Tuesday, March 25, 2008 / Notices fecundity data would be collected. NEFSC is requesting an EFP to collect one tote of undersized haddock for sampling. The vessels would deliver up to five totes of fish (600 lb, 272.16 kg), four of which would contain legal sized fish, and one of which would contain undersized fish. The fish would be whole and iced. The total amount of GB haddock that would be authorized under this EFP would not exceed 1,300 lb (589.67 kg). NEFSC staff would meet the captain at the dock to collect the fish. None of the fish would be sold. The NEFSC/SMAST/CMER SNE Yellowtail Flounder project would obtain 100 yellowtail flounder per month during the April through August spawning period on three vessels, up to 1,500 fish total, followed by nonspawning month sampling for 7 months at 25 fish per month per vessel, for up to an additional 525 fish. The resulting length frequency and maturity sampling would account for approximately 2,025 undersized yellowtail flounder, or 2,500 lb (1133.98 kg). The GMRI Monkfish project would require the biological sampling EFP to allow fishermen to retain the entire monkfish catch on the last tow for two trips per month for eight months on five vessels, resulting in 80 separate samples, not to exceed 550 lb (249.48 kg) of monkfish per sample. Each sample would be delivered to a GMRI sampler. Legal sized fish would be allowed to be sold by the vessel, but undersized fish would be retained by GMRI. It is estimated that the amount of undersized fish for the 80 samples would not exceed 4,800 lb (2177.24 kg). The SMAST GB Groundfish project is requesting the following under the biological sampling EFP: Up to 100 monkfish (750 lb, 340.19 kg) for age and growth, not to exceed 20 monkfish (150 lb, 68.04 kg) per trip; 50 whole skates (150 lb, 68.04 kg), not to exceed 10 (30 lb, 13.61 kg) per trip; and, 10 cod (100 lb, 45.36 kg), not to exceed 2 (20 lb, 9.07 kg) per trip. In addition, 100 lengths of kept fish and 100 lengths of discarded fish of each of the following species would be collected: Cod, winter flounder, grey sole, yellowtail flounder, haddock, monkfish, and American plaice. The applicant may make requests to NMFS for minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted by NMFS without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and result in only a minimal change in the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. In accordance with NOAA Administrative VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:33 Mar 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 Order 216–6, a Categorical Exclusion or other appropriate NEPA document would be completed prior to the issuance of the EFP. Further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. After publication of this document in the Federal Register, the EFP, if approved, may become effective following a 15-day public comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: March 20, 2008. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–6009 Filed 3–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG39 Endangered Species; File No. 1614–01 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for modification. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Region, Protected Resources Division [Responsible Party: Mary Colligan], One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930, has requested a modification to scientific research Permit No. 1614. DATES: Written, telefaxed, or e-mail comments must be received on or before April 24, 2008. ADDRESSES: The modification request and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following offices: Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)713–2289; fax (301)427–2520; Northeast Region, NMFS, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298; phone (978)281–9300; fax (978)281–9394; and Southeast Region, NMFS, 263 13th Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; phone (727)824–5312; fax (727)824– 5309. Written comments or requests for a public hearing on this request should be submitted to the Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, F/PR1, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 15741 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Those individuals requesting a hearing should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this particular modification request would be appropriate. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile at (301)427–2520, provided the facsimile is confirmed by hard copy submitted by mail and postmarked no later than the closing date of the comment period. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: File No. 1614–01. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brandy Belmas or Jennifer Skidmore, (301)713–2289. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject modification to Permit No. 1614, issued on February 28, 2008 (73 FR 11873), is requested under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR 222– 226). Permit No. 1614 authorizes the permit holder to collect, receive and transport 100 dead shortnose sturgeon, or parts thereof, annually. In the case of an unusual mortality event, takes may be increased from 100 up to 1,000 animals with written approval from the Director, Office of Protected Resources. Researchers are also authorized the receipt and transport of up to 50 captive bred, dead shortnose sturgeon annually from any U.S. facility authorized to hold captive sturgeon. This permit authorizes the conduct of the aforementioned research over a period of five years. The permit holder requests authorization to increase the number of dead captive bred shortnose sturgeon received annually to 350 individuals throughout the remainder of the permit. This request stems from the probable availability of a greater number of dead captive bred shortnose sturgeon than was originally anticipated. The applicant would like to obtain these sturgeon to help meet the objectives of their current research, including reviewing research procedures and developing necropsy protocols for shortnose sturgeon. Dated: March 19, 2008. P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–5937 Filed 3–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\25MRN1.SGM 25MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 58 (Tuesday, March 25, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 15738-15741]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-6009]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG61


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic 
Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

[[Page 15739]]

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable 
Fisheries, Northeast Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator) 
has made a preliminary determination that the subject programmatic 
Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application for the Study Fleet Program 
contains all of the required information and warrants further 
consideration. Study Fleet projects are managed by the Northeast 
Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and funded under the Northeast 
Cooperative Research Partners Program (NCRPP) contracts and Research 
Set-Aside (RSA) grants to regional institutions. The programmatic EFP 
would grant exemptions from minimum fish size and possession and 
landing limits. However, further review and consultation may be 
necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. 
Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional Administrator 
proposes to issue a programmatic EFP that would allow up to 30 vessels 
to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the 
regulations governing the fisheries of the Northeastern United States.
    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act require publication of this notification to provide 
interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for 
proposed EFPs.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 9, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Comments on this notice may be submitted by e-mail. The 
mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is 
StudyFleetEFP@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail 
comment the following document identifier: ``Comments on NEFSC Study 
Fleet Programmatic EFP.'' Written comments should be sent to Patricia 
A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 1 
Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope 
``Comments on NEFSC Study Fleet Programmatic EFP.'' Comments may also 
be sent via facsimile (fax) to (978) 281-9135.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
phone: 978-281-9218, fax: 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP would programmatically exempt 
federally permitted commercial fishing vessels from the regulations 
detailed below participating in the Study Fleet Program and operating 
under projects managed by the NEFSC and funded by NCRPP contracts and 
Research-Set-Aside (RSA) grants. The programmatic EFP would cover two 
tiers of exemptions. The first tier would exempt vessels operators and 
technicians from minimum size and possession limits for the time it 
takes to weigh and measure fish that would otherwise be discarded. The 
second tier would exempt vessels from minimum size and possession and 
landing limits of otherwise prohibited fish. The programmatic EFP would 
cover the following Study Fleet projects, the vessels associated with 
such projects, and the study fleet technicians and vessel operators:
    (1) NEFSC - NCRPP Groundfish Fleet Northern (three vessels) and 
Southern (two vessels) trawlers, with up to five additional vessels.
    (2) NEFSC - Groundfish/Loligo Fleet (three vessels, up to three 
additional vessels).
    (3) NEFSC - University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science 
and Technology (SMAST) - Cooperative Marine Education and Research 
(CMER) Southern New England (SNE) Yellowtail Flounder Fleet (three 
vessels).
    (4) NEFSC - Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) - Monkfish 
Fleet (up to five vessels).
    (5) SMAST - Georges Bank (GB) Multispecies Fleet (five vessels).
    A project- and vessel-specific EFP, detailing all vessels involved 
in each the projects, would be granted to each vessel to facilitate 
this research. The EFP would specify under which restrictions and 
exemptions the vessel would be required to operate. The Tier 1 EFP 
would specify that the retention of otherwise prohibited fish is 
temporary only, and fish must be returned to the sea as quickly as 
possible, after weighing and measuring. The Tier 2 EFP would specify 
the limited amounts of otherwise prohibited fish that could be retained 
and landed.
    The following table details the regulations that the participating 
vessels would be exempted from, and the number of at-sea days that 
vessels would be permitted to operate under the exemptions:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Discard
                                               Discard      Sampling    Biological    Biological     Exempted
                                    Sampling at-    at-sea    Sampling at-  Sampling at- Regulations in
      Study Fleet Project       of Vessels     sea days       days       sea days      sea days     50 CFR part
                                             (Technician)    (Crew/    (Technician)     (Crew/          648
                                                            Captain)                   Captain)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NEFSC/NRCPP Groundfish Fleet     up to 10   100            50         0              March -       Sec.
                                                                                      April        648.83(a)(3)
                                                                                      samples 4-   NE
                                                                                      6 totes      multispecies
                                                                                      whole        minimum size
                                                                                      haddock     Possession
                                                                                                   limits
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(b)
                                                                                                   Atlantic cod
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(c)
                                                                                                   Atlantic
                                                                                                   halibut
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(e)
                                                                                                   White hake
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(g)
                                                                                                   Yellowtail
                                                                                                   flounder
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(j) GB
                                                                                                   winter
                                                                                                   flounder
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NEFSC Groundfish/Loligo         up to 6     60             30         60             0            All of the
                                                                                                   above, plus,
                                                                                                   if during
                                                                                                   closure of
                                                                                                   directed
                                                                                                   fishery, Sec.
                                                                                                     648.22(c)
                                                                                                   Incidental
                                                                                                   possession
                                                                                                   limit of
                                                                                                   Loligo
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NEFSC/SMAST/CMERSNE Yellowtail  3           30             90         30             Monthly       Sec.
 Flounder                                                                             totes at     648.83(a)(3)
                                                                                      least 100    NE
                                                                                      fish each    multispecies
                                                                                                   minimum size
                                                                                                   Sec.
                                                                                                   648.86(g)(1)
                                                                                                   SNE
                                                                                                   Yellowtail
                                                                                                   flounder
                                                                                                   possession
                                                                                                   limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 15740]]

 
NEFSC/GMRI Monkfish             5           80             160        80             0             Sec.   648.93
                                                                                                   Monkfish
                                                                                                   minimum fish
                                                                                                   size
                                                                                                   Sec.   648.94
                                                                                                   Monkfish
                                                                                                   possession
                                                                                                   limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SMAST GB Groundfish             5           50             0          50             0            Same as NEFSC/
                                                                                                   NRCPP
                                                                                                   Groundfish
                                                                                                   Fleet Project
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tier 1

    The first aspect of the project would temporarily exempt the Study 
Fleet vessels from all minimum size and possession limits for the time 
it takes to measure and weigh otherwise prohibited fish. This exemption 
would allow NEFSC to understand the issues that affect the accuracy of 
estimated discard weights and to improve analyses. The protocol under 
which the NEFSC staff and the vessel operators would conduct these 
measurements is not significantly different than the protocol currently 
used by NMFS-certified observers. Under this protocol, no other change 
to normal commercial fishing operators would occur.
    Initially, NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians would be 
onboard the vessels to provide data entry training and to observe and 
report on sorting and discarding practices under normal fishing 
operations. On some subsequent trips, technicians would sort, weigh, 
and measure fish that are to be discarded, in a method that is 
consistent with current NEFSC observer protocols. An exemption is 
required because some discarded species would be on deck slightly 
longer than under normal sorting procedures. The goal is to identify 
sorting routines that would minimally impact the duration of catch 
processing, and technicians would return the fish to the water as soon 
as possible. On other trips, the vessel operators and crew would be 
responsible for sorting, weighing, and measuring the fish that are to 
be discarded from a random number of tows and trips, following the 
established protocol. These crew and operators would be trained in the 
protocol by the NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians and would 
return the fish to the water as soon as possible.

Tier 2

    The second aspect of the programmatic EFP for the Study Fleet would 
allow more in-depth biological sampling to occur on various ages of 
fish by exempting vessels from minimum size, possession, and landing 
limits of species of interest. Some of the biological sampling would be 
done by a Study Fleet technician during a trip, as available during 
normal commercial fishingoperations. That is, while a crew member is 
dressing a fish for storage, the Study Fleet technician would collect 
the stomach and gonads of that fish for later research. For this tier, 
vessels would be exempted from minimum size requirements and possession 
and landing limits, as applicable, in very limited circumstances. 
Vessel operators on specified trips, using marked totes, would collect 
fish to be provided to the NEFSC for biological sampling only.
    Project-specific biological sampling to obtain maturity, fecundity, 
age, and growth data would require a separate EFP for possession and 
sampling of species of interest, including undersized individuals, 
possibly in excess of trip limits, where samples may be processed at 
sea or retained for delivery to research facilities on shore by the 
Study Fleet vessels. The current interest in enhanced biological 
sampling is in response to initial Study Fleet goals endorsed by the 
NCRPP and the New England Fishery Management Council's Research 
Steering Committee. The initial biological sampling program and 
protocol development would focus on obtaining haddock and yellowtail 
flounder samples to evaluate maturity and fecundity patterns that may 
be affected by recent strong year classes. Samples of large monkfish, 
large cod, and other species would be used to fill in gaps in port-
based sampling. See below for detailed descriptions of catch estimates 
for each of the five Study Fleet projects. A small number of live fish 
would also be collected to support laboratory studies in survival.
    Sampling would be done by NEFSC or partner Study Fleet technicians 
and by trained crew members. On trips where the technicians would be on 
board, standard NEFSC sampling protocols would be followed. None of the 
landed biological samples from these trips would be sold. On trips 
where technicians would not be on board, select vessel operators or 
crew would separate fish to be sampled by technicians in port. The EFP 
for biological sampling would allow fishermen to retain specified 
amounts of specific species in whole or round weight condition, 
including some undersized individuals, in marked totes, which would be 
delivered to Study Fleet technicians or local NMFS port agents for 
enumeration and measurement. It is anticipated that these whole fish 
may cause a vessel to exceed a regulatory trip limit. The EFP would 
exempt the vessels from the trip limits in limited situations so that 
the vessel is not disadvantaged when collecting biological samples.
    NMFS would receive advance notification of specific plans for 
retention under this EFP. This notification would provide the vessel 
name and vessel operator, the number of marked totes that would be 
delivered, an estimate of the number of undersized individuals that 
would be retained, and an estimated time frame for the sampling trips. 
The amount of fish delivered to the Study Fleet technicians would not 
exceed five totes, or 700 lb (317.51 kg) per trip. Vessels fishing 
under this EFP would be required to call into the Interactive Voice 
Response system to identify the trip, following the standard EFP 
protocol. Each of the biological sampling projects is detailed below. 
Please see the table above for details on the regulations that would be 
exempted.
    The NEFSC Groundfish and Groundfish and Loligo projects would 
involve sampling seven species on a maximum of 20 trips with 
technicians aboard. This sampling would not affect trip limits because 
the undersized fish would be discarded at sea. The estimated maximum 
discard weight of sampled sub-legal fish is 4,000 lb (1,814.37kg) per 
species per trip (100 lengths X 20 trips = 2,000 individuals X mean 
weight of 2 lb (0.91 kg) = 4,000 lb (1,814.37 kg) per species), not to 
exceed 8,000 lb (3628.74 kg) per species per trip if two statistical 
areas are sampled on the same trip.
    Also under the NEFSC Groundfish project, GB haddock maturity and

[[Page 15741]]

fecundity data would be collected. NEFSC is requesting an EFP to 
collect one tote of undersized haddock for sampling. The vessels would 
deliver up to five totes of fish (600 lb, 272.16 kg), four of which 
would contain legal sized fish, and one of which would contain 
undersized fish. The fish would be whole and iced. The total amount of 
GB haddock that would be authorized under this EFP would not exceed 
1,300 lb (589.67 kg). NEFSC staff would meet the captain at the dock to 
collect the fish. None of the fish would be sold.
    The NEFSC/SMAST/CMER SNE Yellowtail Flounder project would obtain 
100 yellowtail flounder per month during the April through August 
spawning period on three vessels, up to 1,500 fish total, followed by 
non-spawning month sampling for 7 months at 25 fish per month per 
vessel, for up to an additional 525 fish. The resulting length 
frequency and maturity sampling would account for approximately 2,025 
undersized yellowtail flounder, or 2,500 lb (1133.98 kg).
    The GMRI Monkfish project would require the biological sampling EFP 
to allow fishermen to retain the entire monkfish catch on the last tow 
for two trips per month for eight months on five vessels, resulting in 
80 separate samples, not to exceed 550 lb (249.48 kg) of monkfish per 
sample. Each sample would be delivered to a GMRI sampler. Legal sized 
fish would be allowed to be sold by the vessel, but undersized fish 
would be retained by GMRI. It is estimated that the amount of 
undersized fish for the 80 samples would not exceed 4,800 lb (2177.24 
kg).
    The SMAST GB Groundfish project is requesting the following under 
the biological sampling EFP: Up to 100 monkfish (750 lb, 340.19 kg) for 
age and growth, not to exceed 20 monkfish (150 lb, 68.04 kg) per trip; 
50 whole skates (150 lb, 68.04 kg), not to exceed 10 (30 lb, 13.61 kg) 
per trip; and, 10 cod (100 lb, 45.36 kg), not to exceed 2 (20 lb, 9.07 
kg) per trip. In addition, 100 lengths of kept fish and 100 lengths of 
discarded fish of each of the following species would be collected: 
Cod, winter flounder, grey sole, yellowtail flounder, haddock, 
monkfish, and American plaice.
    The applicant may make requests to NMFS for minor modifications and 
extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and 
extensions may be granted by NMFS without further notice if they are 
deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and 
result in only a minimal change in the scope or impact of the initially 
approved EFP request. In accordance with NOAA Administrative Order 216-
6, a Categorical Exclusion or other appropriate NEPA document would be 
completed prior to the issuance of the EFP. Further review and 
consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to 
issue the EFP. After publication of this document in the Federal 
Register, the EFP, if approved, may become effective following a 15-day 
public comment period.

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

    Dated: March 20, 2008.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-6009 Filed 3-24-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S