Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas; Addition of Monkfish Incidental Catch Trip Limits, 33922-33924 [E8-13492]

Download as PDF 33922 * * * * Issued: May 30, 2008. James F. Ports, Jr., Deputy Administrator. [FR Doc. E8–13063 Filed 6–13–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 080123074–8654–02] RIN 0648–AW31 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas; Addition of Monkfish Incidental Catch Trip Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES AGENCY: SUMMARY: This action modifies the regulations implementing the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to create three NE Multispecies Scallop Exemptions that are identical to the current scallop VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:56 Jun 13, 2008 Jkt 214001 exemptions, except for the addition of an incidental monkfish catch limit. These new scallop exemptions are restricted to vessels issued either a General Category Atlantic sea scallop permit or a limited access Atlantic sea scallop permit (when not fishing under a scallop days-at-sea (DAS) limitation), when fishing for scallops with small dredge gear (combined width not to exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m)). Vessels that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new scallop exemptions are required to possess, and have onboard, a valid limited access monkfish permit, or an open access monkfish Incidental Catch permit. The intent of this action is to allow small scallop dredge vessels to land monkfish that are currently being discarded, consistent with the bycatch reduction objectives of the FMP and National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: Effective July 16, 2008. Copies of this regulatory amendment, and its small entity compliance guide, are available from Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The small entity compliance guide is also accessible via the Internet at http:// www.nero.noaa.gov/. ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy Cardiasmenos, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone (978) 281–9204, fax (978) 281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Current regulations, implemented under Framework Adjustment 9 to the FMP, and expanded under Amendment 7 to the FMP, contain a NE multispecies fishing mortality and bycatch reduction measure that is applied to the Gulf of Maine (GOM), Georges Bank (GB), and Southern New England (SNE) Exemption Areas. This measure prohibits vessels from fishing in these areas unless they are fishing under a NE multispecies or a scallop DAS allocation, are fishing with exempted gear, are fishing under the Small Vessel Handgear (A or B) or Party/Charter permit restrictions, or are fishing in an exempted fishery. The procedure for adding, modifying, or deleting fisheries from the list of exempted fisheries is found in § 648.80. A fishery may be exempted by the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (RA), after consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), if the RA determines, based on available data or information, that the bycatch of regulated species is, or can be reduced to, on average, less than 5 percent per trip, by weight on board, and that such E:\FR\FM\16JNR1.SGM 16JNR1 ER16JN08.006</GPH> * Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 116 / Monday, June 16, 2008 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 116 / Monday, June 16, 2008 / Rules and Regulations exemption will not jeopardize the fishing mortality objectives of the FMP. At present, there are three scallop exemptions for scallop dredge vessels when fishing under the open access scallop General Category permit, or under the limited access scallop permit when not fishing under a scallop DAS. They are referred to as: The GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, established in Framework 21 to the FMP (February 1997); the SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, established in Amendment 13 to the FMP (April 2004); and the Great South Channel (GSC) Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, established by the authority of the RA (August 2006). On November 2, 2007, a request was submitted on behalf of the General Category scallop fleet to establish an incidental monkfish catch limit of 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip, consistent with the Monkfish FMP, within the three scallop exemptions. This rule creates three new exemptions, identical to the existing scallop exemption areas, described at § 648.80(a)(11)(i)(A), (a)(18)(ii)(A), and (b)(11)(ii)(A), with the addition of a 50– lb (23–kg) tail weight or 166–lb (75–kg) whole weight incidental monkfish catch limit per trip, provided the fishery does not jeopardize the fishing mortality objectives of the FMP. The data analyzed for this action consist of observer data from both General Category and limited access scallop dredge trips within the GOM, GSC, and SNE scallop exemption areas from 2001 to 2007. A total of 85 General Category trips and 198 limited access trips were observed during that period. Bycatch rates were calculated on a tripby-trip basis by adding up the total weight of NE multispecies, scallops (inshell weight), and all other catch on each observed trip, and then calculating the percentage of the total catch represented by regulated NE multispecies. The percent bycatch of regulated NE multispecies in the exemption areas ranged from 0 to 10.33 percent in General Category trips (N=85), and 0 to 8.6 percent in limited access trips (N=198). The mean percent bycatch of regulated NE multispecies by weight of the total catch across all areas in the General Category and limited access fisheries was less than 1 percent. From a total of 85 observed General Category trips into the exemption areas, the mean percent bycatch was 0.97 percent of the total catch. From the 198 observed limited access scallop dredge trips into those same areas, the mean percent bycatch was estimated to be 0.93 percent of the total catch. VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:56 Jun 13, 2008 Jkt 214001 Monkfish discards were analyzed within this same dataset. Monkfish discards within the current exemption areas ranged from 0 to 611 lb (0–277 kg) tail weight per trip in the General Category fishery (N=85). From a total of 85 General Category trips into the current exemption areas, the mean monkfish discard was 48.1 lb (22 kg) tail weight per trip, and the mean trip was 0.44 days (11 hr). This action will allow a level of monkfish incidental bycatch within the scallop exemptions of 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip. This level of monkfish fishing mortality from scallop dredge vessels is within the allowable limit specified under Framework 4 of the Monkfish FMP (72 FR 53942, September 21, 2007; i.e., 150 lb (68 kg) tail weight or 498 lb (226 kg) whole weight per trip). GSC Scallop Dredge Exemption Area From a total of 38 observed General Category trips into the current GSC Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfisk catch per trip was 28.98 lb (13 kg) tail weight, and only 1 trip discarded more than 150 lb (68 kg) tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0–302.71 lb (0– 137 kg) tail weight per trip. GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area From a total of 29 observed General Category trips into the GOM Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfish catch per trip was 40.6 lb (18 kg) tail weight, and only 3 trips discarded in excess of 150 lb (68 kg) tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0–425 lb (0–193 kg) tail weight per trip. SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area From a total of 18 observed General Category trips into the SNE Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfish catch per trip was 100.5 lb (46 kg) tail weight, and only 3 trips discarded more than 150 lb (68 kg) tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0–611 lb (277 kg) tail weight per trip. The observed level of monkfish discard within the current scallop exemptions, as detailed above, is consistent with the monkfish incidental catch limit instituted by this action. This level of monkfish fishing mortality in the General Category scallop dredge fleet was previously analyzed within Framework 4 to the Monkfish FMP. Since the data indicate that the monkfish incidental catch limit instituted by this action is currently being discarded, no change in fishing behavior is expected, and it is not anticipated that there will be an increase in regulated species bycatch. These new scallop exemptions are PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 33923 identical to the existing scallop exemptions, with the addition of an incidental catch of monkfish, and are therefore expected to meet both the bycatch and the fishing mortality requirements of the regulations. Public comment regarding this action was solicited in the proposed rule (73 FR 23175, April 29, 2008). The comment period closed on May 14, 2008. Management Measures GOM, SNE, and the GSC Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas Based on the analysis of available data, the bycatch of regulated species by scallop dredge vessels is less than, on average, 5 percent per trip, by weight on board, within the exemption areas and the monkfish bycatch is consistent with the incidental catch level analyzed within the Monkfish FMP. The data analysis shows that, on average, scallop dredge vessels are currently discarding 48.1 lb (22 kg) tail weight of monkfish per trip within the three exemption areas, a level consistent with the monkfish incidental catch (50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip) instituted by this action. In addition, there are no data to suggest that modifying the present exemptions to accommodate a monkfish incidental catch at 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip would cause a shift in effort towards monkfish or NE multispecies. Therefore, the RA has determined that a monkfish incidental catch of 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip, within the GOM, SNE, and GSC Scallop Exemptions, meets the exemption requirements specified in § 648.80(a)(8), and would not be inconsistent with the monkfish fishing mortality goals of the Monkfish FMP. Therefore, this rule creates three scallop exemptions (GOM, SNE, and GSC), identical to the existing scallop exemptions, with the addition of a 50– lb (23–kg) tail weight or 166–lb (75–kg) whole weight per trip monkfish incidental catch possession limit. These new scallop exemptions are restricted to vessels issued either a General Category Atlantic sea scallop permit or a limited access sea scallop permit (when not fishing under a scallop DAS limitation), when fishing with small dredges (combined width not to exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m)). Vessels that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new scallop exemptions are required to possess, and have onboard, a valid limited access monkfish permit, or a monkfish open access Incidental Catch permit. E:\FR\FM\16JNR1.SGM 16JNR1 33924 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 116 / Monday, June 16, 2008 / Rules and Regulations Changes From the Proposed Rule There was one comment received in support of the proposed rule, and there are no substantive changes to the proposed rule. Additional language was added to the final rule, to clarify that scallop dredge vessels that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new scallop exemptions, who do not currently possess a monkfish permit, must obtain a monkfish open access Incidental Catch permit. mstockstill on PROD1PC66 with RULES Classification NMFS has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMP and has determined that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. There are no Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the final rule. This action creates three scallop exemptions for General Category scallop vessels, or limited access scallop vessels not fishing on a DAS allocation, identical to the current scallop exemptions, with the addition of an incidental catch of monkfish. This action was categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act, as an action that includes minor technical additions, corrections, or changes to an FMP. The economic impacts of the action are expected to be minimal and positive. This action allows the General Category scallop fleet, while fishing under a scallop exemption, to land up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip, in addition to scallops. This allows the fleet to utilize these resources in a manner consistent with the bycatch and mortality objectives of the FMP. This action allows a small incidental catch of monkfish, and as such is expected to minimally increase revenues for scallop dredge vessels fishing under the General Category permit provisions. VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:56 Jun 13, 2008 Jkt 214001 Small Entity Compliance Guide Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the action a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of the guide will be sent to all holders of commercial Federal scallop permits. The guide will also be available on the internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov. Copies of the guide can also be obtained from the Regional Administrator (see ADDRESSES). Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements This action does not contain an additional collection-of-information requirement subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. specified in this paragraph (a)(11) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip. * * * * * (18) * * * (ii) * * * (A) A vessel fishing in the Great South Channel Scallop Dredge Exemption Area specified in this paragraph (a)(18) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip. * * * * * (b) * * * (11) * * * (ii) * * * (A) A vessel fishing in the SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area may not fish for, posses on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip. * * * * * [FR Doc. E8–13492 Filed 6–13–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Dated: June 11, 2008. James W. Balsiger, Acting Assistant Administrator For Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: [Docket No. 071030625–7696–02] I 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 § 648.80, paragraphs (a)(8)(iv) introductory text, (a)(11)(i)(A), (a)(18)(ii)(A), and (b)(11)(ii)(A) are revised to read as follows: I § 648.80 NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on gear and methods of fishing. * * * * * (a) * * * (8) * * * (iv) Unless otherwise specified within the exempted fisheries authorized under this paragraph (a)(8), incidental catch is restricted, at a minimum, to the following: * * * * * (11) * * * (i) * * * (A) A vessel fishing in the GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Area PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 50 CFR Part 648 RIN 0648–XI40 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Scup Fishery; Commercial Quota Harvested for 2008 Summer Period National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS announces the closure of the scup commercial coastwide fishery from Maine through North Carolina for the Summer Period. Regulations governing the scup fishery require publication of this notification to advise the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina that this quota has been harvested and to advise Federal vessel permit holders and Federal dealer permit holders that no commercial quota is available for landing scup in these states. Federally permitted commercial vessels may not land scup in these states for the E:\FR\FM\16JNR1.SGM 16JNR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 116 (Monday, June 16, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33922-33924]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-13492]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 080123074-8654-02]
RIN 0648-AW31


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas; Addition of 
Monkfish Incidental Catch Trip Limits

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This action modifies the regulations implementing the 
Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to create 
three NE Multispecies Scallop Exemptions that are identical to the 
current scallop exemptions, except for the addition of an incidental 
monkfish catch limit. These new scallop exemptions are restricted to 
vessels issued either a General Category Atlantic sea scallop permit or 
a limited access Atlantic sea scallop permit (when not fishing under a 
scallop days-at-sea (DAS) limitation), when fishing for scallops with 
small dredge gear (combined width not to exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m)). 
Vessels that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new 
scallop exemptions are required to possess, and have onboard, a valid 
limited access monkfish permit, or an open access monkfish Incidental 
Catch permit. The intent of this action is to allow small scallop 
dredge vessels to land monkfish that are currently being discarded, 
consistent with the bycatch reduction objectives of the FMP and 
National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act.

DATES: Effective July 16, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Copies of this regulatory amendment, and its small entity 
compliance guide, are available from Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1 Blackburn Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930. The small entity compliance guide is also 
accessible via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy Cardiasmenos, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, phone (978) 281-9204, fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Current regulations, implemented under Framework Adjustment 9 to 
the FMP, and expanded under Amendment 7 to the FMP, contain a NE 
multispecies fishing mortality and bycatch reduction measure that is 
applied to the Gulf of Maine (GOM), Georges Bank (GB), and Southern New 
England (SNE) Exemption Areas. This measure prohibits vessels from 
fishing in these areas unless they are fishing under a NE multispecies 
or a scallop DAS allocation, are fishing with exempted gear, are 
fishing under the Small Vessel Handgear (A or B) or Party/Charter 
permit restrictions, or are fishing in an exempted fishery. The 
procedure for adding, modifying, or deleting fisheries from the list of 
exempted fisheries is found in Sec.  648.80. A fishery may be exempted 
by the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (RA), after consultation 
with the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), if the RA 
determines, based on available data or information, that the bycatch of 
regulated species is, or can be reduced to, on average, less than 5 
percent per trip, by weight on board, and that such

[[Page 33923]]

exemption will not jeopardize the fishing mortality objectives of the 
FMP.
    At present, there are three scallop exemptions for scallop dredge 
vessels when fishing under the open access scallop General Category 
permit, or under the limited access scallop permit when not fishing 
under a scallop DAS. They are referred to as: The GOM Scallop Dredge 
Exemption Area, established in Framework 21 to the FMP (February 1997); 
the SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, established in Amendment 13 to 
the FMP (April 2004); and the Great South Channel (GSC) Scallop Dredge 
Exemption Area, established by the authority of the RA (August 2006). 
On November 2, 2007, a request was submitted on behalf of the General 
Category scallop fleet to establish an incidental monkfish catch limit 
of 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip, 
consistent with the Monkfish FMP, within the three scallop exemptions. 
This rule creates three new exemptions, identical to the existing 
scallop exemption areas, described at Sec.  648.80(a)(11)(i)(A), 
(a)(18)(ii)(A), and (b)(11)(ii)(A), with the addition of a 50-lb (23-
kg) tail weight or 166-lb (75-kg) whole weight incidental monkfish 
catch limit per trip, provided the fishery does not jeopardize the 
fishing mortality objectives of the FMP.
    The data analyzed for this action consist of observer data from 
both General Category and limited access scallop dredge trips within 
the GOM, GSC, and SNE scallop exemption areas from 2001 to 2007. A 
total of 85 General Category trips and 198 limited access trips were 
observed during that period. Bycatch rates were calculated on a trip-
by-trip basis by adding up the total weight of NE multispecies, 
scallops (in-shell weight), and all other catch on each observed trip, 
and then calculating the percentage of the total catch represented by 
regulated NE multispecies. The percent bycatch of regulated NE 
multispecies in the exemption areas ranged from 0 to 10.33 percent in 
General Category trips (N=85), and 0 to 8.6 percent in limited access 
trips (N=198). The mean percent bycatch of regulated NE multispecies by 
weight of the total catch across all areas in the General Category and 
limited access fisheries was less than 1 percent. From a total of 85 
observed General Category trips into the exemption areas, the mean 
percent bycatch was 0.97 percent of the total catch. From the 198 
observed limited access scallop dredge trips into those same areas, the 
mean percent bycatch was estimated to be 0.93 percent of the total 
catch.
    Monkfish discards were analyzed within this same dataset. Monkfish 
discards within the current exemption areas ranged from 0 to 611 lb (0-
277 kg) tail weight per trip in the General Category fishery (N=85). 
From a total of 85 General Category trips into the current exemption 
areas, the mean monkfish discard was 48.1 lb (22 kg) tail weight per 
trip, and the mean trip was 0.44 days (11 hr). This action will allow a 
level of monkfish incidental bycatch within the scallop exemptions of 
50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip. This 
level of monkfish fishing mortality from scallop dredge vessels is 
within the allowable limit specified under Framework 4 of the Monkfish 
FMP (72 FR 53942, September 21, 2007; i.e., 150 lb (68 kg) tail weight 
or 498 lb (226 kg) whole weight per trip).

GSC Scallop Dredge Exemption Area

    From a total of 38 observed General Category trips into the current 
GSC Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfisk catch per trip was 28.98 lb 
(13 kg) tail weight, and only 1 trip discarded more than 150 lb (68 kg) 
tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0-302.71 lb (0-137 kg) 
tail weight per trip.

GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area

    From a total of 29 observed General Category trips into the GOM 
Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfish catch per trip was 40.6 lb (18 kg) 
tail weight, and only 3 trips discarded in excess of 150 lb (68 kg) 
tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0-425 lb (0-193 kg) tail 
weight per trip.

SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area

    From a total of 18 observed General Category trips into the SNE 
Scallop Exemption, the mean monkfish catch per trip was 100.5 lb (46 
kg) tail weight, and only 3 trips discarded more than 150 lb (68 kg) 
tail weight. Monkfish bycatch ranged between 0-611 lb (277 kg) tail 
weight per trip.
    The observed level of monkfish discard within the current scallop 
exemptions, as detailed above, is consistent with the monkfish 
incidental catch limit instituted by this action. This level of 
monkfish fishing mortality in the General Category scallop dredge fleet 
was previously analyzed within Framework 4 to the Monkfish FMP. Since 
the data indicate that the monkfish incidental catch limit instituted 
by this action is currently being discarded, no change in fishing 
behavior is expected, and it is not anticipated that there will be an 
increase in regulated species bycatch. These new scallop exemptions are 
identical to the existing scallop exemptions, with the addition of an 
incidental catch of monkfish, and are therefore expected to meet both 
the bycatch and the fishing mortality requirements of the regulations. 
Public comment regarding this action was solicited in the proposed rule 
(73 FR 23175, April 29, 2008). The comment period closed on May 14, 
2008.

Management Measures

GOM, SNE, and the GSC Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas

    Based on the analysis of available data, the bycatch of regulated 
species by scallop dredge vessels is less than, on average, 5 percent 
per trip, by weight on board, within the exemption areas and the 
monkfish bycatch is consistent with the incidental catch level analyzed 
within the Monkfish FMP. The data analysis shows that, on average, 
scallop dredge vessels are currently discarding 48.1 lb (22 kg) tail 
weight of monkfish per trip within the three exemption areas, a level 
consistent with the monkfish incidental catch (50 lb (23 kg) tail 
weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip) instituted by this 
action. In addition, there are no data to suggest that modifying the 
present exemptions to accommodate a monkfish incidental catch at 50 lb 
(23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip would cause 
a shift in effort towards monkfish or NE multispecies. Therefore, the 
RA has determined that a monkfish incidental catch of 50 lb (23 kg) 
tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight per trip, within the GOM, 
SNE, and GSC Scallop Exemptions, meets the exemption requirements 
specified in Sec.  648.80(a)(8), and would not be inconsistent with the 
monkfish fishing mortality goals of the Monkfish FMP.
    Therefore, this rule creates three scallop exemptions (GOM, SNE, 
and GSC), identical to the existing scallop exemptions, with the 
addition of a 50-lb (23-kg) tail weight or 166-lb (75-kg) whole weight 
per trip monkfish incidental catch possession limit. These new scallop 
exemptions are restricted to vessels issued either a General Category 
Atlantic sea scallop permit or a limited access sea scallop permit 
(when not fishing under a scallop DAS limitation), when fishing with 
small dredges (combined width not to exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m)). Vessels 
that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new scallop 
exemptions are required to possess, and have onboard, a valid limited 
access monkfish permit, or a monkfish open access Incidental Catch 
permit.

[[Page 33924]]

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There was one comment received in support of the proposed rule, and 
there are no substantive changes to the proposed rule. Additional 
language was added to the final rule, to clarify that scallop dredge 
vessels that land an incidental catch of monkfish within these new 
scallop exemptions, who do not currently possess a monkfish permit, 
must obtain a monkfish open access Incidental Catch permit.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMP 
and has determined that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared. There are no Federal 
rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the final rule. This 
action creates three scallop exemptions for General Category scallop 
vessels, or limited access scallop vessels not fishing on a DAS 
allocation, identical to the current scallop exemptions, with the 
addition of an incidental catch of monkfish. This action was 
categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act, as 
an action that includes minor technical additions, corrections, or 
changes to an FMP.
    The economic impacts of the action are expected to be minimal and 
positive. This action allows the General Category scallop fleet, while 
fishing under a scallop exemption, to land up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail 
weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip, in addition 
to scallops. This allows the fleet to utilize these resources in a 
manner consistent with the bycatch and mortality objectives of the FMP. 
This action allows a small incidental catch of monkfish, and as such is 
expected to minimally increase revenues for scallop dredge vessels 
fishing under the General Category permit provisions.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the action a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide was prepared. 
Copies of the guide will be sent to all holders of commercial Federal 
scallop permits. The guide will also be available on the internet at 
http://www.nero.noaa.gov. Copies of the guide can also be obtained from 
the Regional Administrator (see ADDRESSES).

Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements

    This action does not contain an additional collection-of-
information requirement subject to review by the Office of Management 
and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: June 11, 2008.
James W. Balsiger,
Acting Assistant Administrator For Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

0
For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 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.

0
2. In Sec.  648.80, paragraphs (a)(8)(iv) introductory text, 
(a)(11)(i)(A), (a)(18)(ii)(A), and (b)(11)(ii)(A) are revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  648.80  NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on 
gear and methods of fishing.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (8) * * *
    (iv) Unless otherwise specified within the exempted fisheries 
authorized under this paragraph (a)(8), incidental catch is restricted, 
at a minimum, to the following:
* * * * *
    (11) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) A vessel fishing in the GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption 
Area specified in this paragraph (a)(11) may not fish for, possess on 
board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and 
up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of 
monkfish per trip.
* * * * *
    (18) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) A vessel fishing in the Great South Channel Scallop Dredge 
Exemption Area specified in this paragraph (a)(18) may not fish for, 
possess on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea 
scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole 
weight of monkfish per trip.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (11) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) A vessel fishing in the SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area may 
not fish for, posses on board, or land any species of fish other than 
Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 
kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. E8-13492 Filed 6-13-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S