Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Regional Fishery Management Councils; Operations, 13386-13394 [E9-6896]

Download as PDF 13386 [FR Doc. E9–6891 Filed 3–26–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710–FW–C DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 600 [Docket No. 080102007–81097–01] RIN 0648–AW18 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Regional Fishery Management Councils; Operations pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. SUMMARY: NMFS proposes changes to the regulations that address the operations and administration of regional fishery management councils (Councils). The regulatory changes are needed to implement amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) that, among other things, govern the Council Coordination Committee (CCC), expand the role of the Councils’ Scientific and VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Statistical Committee (SSC), require that SSC members disclose their financial interests, and provide for training of Council members and staff. Additionally, the proposed rule would make changes to the regulations requiring Councils to provide procedures for proposed regulations, clarifying restrictions on lobbying, and clarifying timing in the Council member nomination process. The proposed rule would also make technical and minor corrections to the regulations unrelated to the most recent Magnuson-Stevens Act amendments. DATES: Written comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. e.d.t. on July 6, 2009. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by ‘‘RIN 0648–AW18,’’ by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. • Fax: 301–713–1175. • Mail: Alan Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 EastWest Highway, SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Council Operations.’’ Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter n/a in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe pdf file formats only. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the Office of Sustainable Fisheries at the mailing address or fax number specified above and by e-mail to DavidlRostker@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395–7285. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Chappell, at 301–713–2337. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 302 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act includes provisions for the establishment and administration of the Councils. The Magnuson-Stevens Act was reauthorized on January 12, 2007, with amendments throughout, and this proposed rule would implement some of the changes that were made to Section 302. Additionally, several issues regarding Council operations and membership have prompted proposed E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 EP27MR09.420</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules changes to the regulations. Key aspects of the proposed rule are: requirements relative to the CCC; requirements for SSCs and financial interest reporting for SSC members; an update of Council and committee meeting announcement requirements; a requirement for Councils to have procedures for proposed regulations; designation of an alternate for the Indian tribal representative of the Pacific Fishery Management Council; requirements for nominating individuals to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; revisions to the process and deadline for governors to submit Council member nominations to the Secretary; restrictions on direct or indirect lobbying by Council members, Council staff, and contractors; addition of lobbying and advocacy as types of financial interest activities that must be reported by affected individuals; and the requirement for new Council members to attend a training course. Additionally, the proposed rule would implement several minor changes in Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302, as well as a number of technical changes and minor corrections, unrelated to the reauthorization of the Act. Many of the key aspects of the proposed rule reiterate statutory requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS is including this statutory text in regulations so that relevant Council process provisions both statutory and regulatory are presented together for ease of reference. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 Statement of Organization, Practices and Procedures (SOPPs) There have been continuing questions regarding Councils’ SOPPs. The general public often does not understand the Councils’ functions, how they are organized and what their limits are in fisheries management and policy. SOPPs have provided that information, but the public must go to the Council office for a copy or request a copy by mail. The increased use of the Internet makes it appropriate for the Councils to post their SOPPs on line. Therefore, NMFS proposes to amend § 600.115 to require that Council SOPPs be made available on the Internet. Additionally, NMFS proposes to clarify the regulatory sections with which the SOPPs must comply. Council Coordinating Committee (CCC) The proposed rule at a new § 600.117 would govern the CCC. The CCC consists of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors of each of the eight Councils or other Council members or staff, and discusses issues of relevance to all Councils, as specified in the VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Magnuson-Stevens Act at section 302(l). The CCC is exempt from the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Procedures for announcing and conducting open and closed meetings of the CCC are reflected in § 600.135. Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs) This proposed rule addresses several changes in Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(1) regarding SSCs. Section 600.133 of the proposed rule requires SSC members, appointed by the Councils, to be Federal employees, State employees, academicians, or independent experts with strong scientific or technical credentials and experience. It also requires SSC meetings to be held in conjunction with Council meetings to the extent practicable. Section 302(g)(1)(D) of the MagnusonStevens Act includes a new requirement that SSC members shall be treated as ‘‘affected individuals’’ for purposes of sections 302(j)(2), (3)(B), (4) and (5)(A) of the Act, which pertain to the disclosure of financial interests by affected individuals. Consistent with the Act, the proposed rule at § 600.235 would require an SSC member to file the Financial Interest Form with the NMFS Regional Administrator within 45 days prior to appointment and within 30 days of substantial changes to his/her financial interests and update his/her form annually. NMFS would retain the records for five years. Sections 302(j)(5)(B-C), (6) and (7) of the Act include requirements for public inspection of, and access to, Council member Financial Interest Forms and recusals from voting. Because SSC members are not ‘‘affected individuals’’ for purposes of these sections, the proposed rule does not require that SSC members’ Financial Interest Forms be made available for inspection or made available on the internet. In addition, the proposed rule states that SSC members are not subject to the restrictions on voting under § 600.235. The proposed rule also clarifies that SSC members are not automatically subject to the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 208, which pertains to actions affecting personal financial interests. Those requirements would only apply if a person is an officer or employee of the executive branch of the United States Government, or falls under another category of persons specified in that statute. NMFS seeks comments from the public on the proposed regulations that would affect the composition, purpose, and operation of the SSC, as well as the financial disclosure requirements for its PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 13387 members. Finally, existing regulations at § 600.235(h) provide that 18 U.S.C. 208 would also not apply to an affected individual who is in compliance with the requirements of that section for filing a financial disclosure report. Consistent with section 302(j)(8) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the proposed rule would clarify this exemption only applies to an affected individual ‘‘who is a voting member of a Council appointed by the Secretary, as described under section 302(j)(1)(A)(ii) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.’’ Additional changes in MagnusonStevens Act section 302(g)(1)(A), (B) and (E) regard the function and roles of the SSC and the establishment of a peer review process. Some aspects of those changes were addressed in the National Standard 1 Guidelines revisions (74 FR 3178, January 16, 2009), which included guidance on annual catch limits and accountability measures and other aspects of overfishing and rebuilding. NMFS is continuing to explore other guidance that may be needed regarding these statutory changes. Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(1)(F) requires the Secretary, subject to the availability of funds, to pay a stipend to members of SSCs and advisory panels who are not employed by the Federal Government or a State marine fisheries agency. NMFS seeks comment from the public on the implementation of stipends should funding be available. In addition to issues such as the amount and frequency of the payments, and what criteria must be satisfied for one to qualify for the stipend, NMFS seeks input from the public on the funding priority that should be given payment of the stipend, relative to the Councils’ other financial obligations. In anticipation of the stipend requirement, NMFS has begun to examine how Councils develop and use their SSCs, advisory panels, and other advisory committees. One concern has been that Councils use the terms ‘‘advisory panel’’ and ‘‘advisory committee’’ inconsistently. To help prepare for a clear analysis of the number and types of advisory committees and for a determination of who may be entitled to receive the stipend, NMFS proposes definitions in § 600.10 for an ‘‘advisory panel’’, which would be established pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(2), and a ‘‘fishing industry advisory committee’’, established by a Council pursuant to section 302(g)(3)(A). In addition, definitions for ‘‘Region,’’ ‘‘Regional Administrator,’’ and ‘‘Science and Research Director’’ would be updated to reflect that there E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 13388 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules are now 6 regions, each with a regional administrator and a science and research director. Public Notice of Meetings The proposed rule at § 600.135 would specify revised means for announcing meetings of a Council, SSC, advisory panels, other committees, and the CCC. The regulations currently require public notification specifically through the news media. The revised regulations would allow for notice of regular, emergency, and closed meetings by any means that will result, per section 302(i)(2)(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of the region and those other ports with an interest in any of the fisheries likely to be addressed in the proceedings. Also, the proposed rule stipulates that notices about regular and emergency meetings by website and email postings alone are not sufficient. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 Council Procedure for Proposed Regulations A new § 600.140 is proposed to be added that would require each Council to establish clear internal procedures for proposed regulations, consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act section 303(c). Section 303(c) pertains to the submission of proposed regulations to the Secretary which a Council deems necessary or appropriate for the purposes of implementing a fishery management plan or plan amendment and making modifications to regulations implementing a plan or plan amendment. Section 600.140 would require that each Council establish a clear procedure that sets forth how it deems proposed regulations as necessary or appropriate and also how it formally submits such regulations to the Secretary. Section 600.140 proposes that the procedure be described in the Council’s SOPP or other written documentation available to the public to inform the public how it operates. The form and detail of the procedure may be prescribed by each Council, and may be based on any existing procedures as appropriate, subject to the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and approval by the Secretary. Pacific Fishery Management Council Tribal Member Alternate The proposed rule would establish a new section, § 600.207, to specify the conditions under which a tribal Indian representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council may designate an alternate for the period of the representative’s term. The requirements for designating an alternate would be similar to those of state members. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Nominations The proposed rule would specify new procedures in § 600.215 for nominating and appointing members to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Consistent with new language in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the proposed rule requires the Governors of each Gulf state to ensure their list of nominees for appointment to the Council includes representatives of certain fishery sectors, as well as at least one other individual knowledgeable in fishery conservation and management. The rule also provides a process for the citizens of a Gulf coastal state to nominate individuals, should the Governor’s nominees be determined by the Secretary to be unqualified for appointment. Council Member Nomination Process NMFS proposes to amend § 600.215 regarding the submission of Council member nominations by state governors to allow more flexibility in the timing. Current guidelines require state governors to submit names of Council seat nominees and their complete nomination packages to NMFS by March 15. The proposed rule would soften the deadline, requiring submission of nominees’ names by March 15 and allowing until March 31 for submission of the completed nomination packages. This proposed rule change is needed to accommodate the lengthy and complex procedure for Council nominees to file for and receive official security assurances. The security assurance application procedure requires extensive personal history information to be submitted by computer. Due to timing of the process, software and internet connectivity problems, and availability of the personal information, the security assurance filings can be delayed, resulting in submission of the completed nomination packages after March 15. Recognizing the difficulty of the process, NMFS has accommodated late submission of nomination packages. NMFS intends to provide states every reasonable opportunity to submit nominations for open Council seats, and, therefore, while submission of the names for nomination must be submitted by March 15, the proposed rule would give states until March 31 to submit the completed nomination package. NMFS retains the requirement for having completed packages prior to accepting nominations for any seat, and PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the option not to consider any nominations for at-large seats not completed by March 31. It remains NMFS’ expectation that governors will submit, at a minimum, their list of nominees by March 15. The Secretary must make Council member appointments by June 27 to allow new members to be seated by August 11 and complete the regular nomination cycle. Any later submission of nominees jeopardizes that process. Notifying governors and commencing the nomination process earlier may help the situation but would not solve the problem of late nomination package submissions. Currently, NMFS contacts governors each December and January to solicit nominations for upcoming obligatory and at-large seats. Some gubernatorial terms begin in January and a change in administration, as well as other year-end priorities can confound the state’s Council nomination process. Restrictions on Lobbying NMFS proposes to add a new paragraph concerning lobbying to § 600.225, which sets forth the Council Rules of Conduct. There have been recent questions from the Councils and inquiries from the public regarding what is allowed and not allowed in the way of direct or indirect lobbying by Council members and staff. Direct lobbying involves contacts with legislators, their staffs, or other government officials, either in person or through written or oral communication. Indirect or ‘‘grassroots’’ lobbying involves contacting others and urging them to support or to advocate for improve appropriations or changes to legislation or policy. To provide Council members, Council staff and members of the public a better idea of restrictions on lobbying activities, NMFS proposes to add a new § 600.227 Lobbying. Restrictions on lobbying activities that apply to the Regional Fishery Management Councils, as recipients of Federal financial assistance, are encompassed in 31 U.S.C. 1352(a)(1)and (2), 15 CFR 28.100(a), and in applicable costprinciples set forth at 2 CFR part 230. As a condition of receiving such assistance, the Councils agree to abide by these restrictions. The proposed § 600.227 would provide not only references to these lobbying restrictions, but also general guidance with respect to certain proscribed actions. Financial Disclosure by Council and SSC Members The amended Magnuson-Stevens Act expands the array of business activities E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules one full year must have elapsed after the completion of a member’s third consecutive term before that person may take a seat on the same Council. The text of an oath of office would be reinserted in § 600.220. This oath was removed during the regulations consolidation in 1996, however it is still in use by the Councils and it requested by them and others, particularly when new members are about to be sworn in. The oath acknowledges and affirms the members’ commitment to the conservation and management of living marine resources. Section 600.240 would be clarified by requiring that background checks be acceptable rather than just completed. Several additional minor corrections and clarifications reflecting changes already discussed would be made throughout the subparts. Council Member Training Another new section, § 600.250, addresses a Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement for the Secretary to develop a training course and for newly appointed Council members to attend the training course within one year of appointment. The minimum course content is specified in the MagnusonStevens Act and not addressed in this regulation. The course would be made available, not only to new Council members, but also to existing Council members, Council staff, and NMFS staff. The course may also be made available to Council committee and advisory panel members. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 that must be reported by affected individuals in their financial disclosures. An ‘‘affected individual’’ is a person who is nominated by a state Governor or appointed by the Secretary to serve as a voting member of a Council under section 302(b)(2) and (b)(5) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Members of an SSC are also considered affected individuals for specific paragraphs of § 600.235. Affected individuals must disclose any financial interests they have in certain activities that may fall under the jurisdiction of the Council. Per the amended Magnuson-Stevens Act, lobbying and advocacy are added to fishery harvesting, processing, and marketing as the types of activities, upon which the individual must report. The proposed rule would implement this change by expanding and updating the definition of financial interests in § 600.235 to include the activities of lobbying and advocacy. It would also remove from the definition of financial interests the exclusion of financial concerns associated with environmental advocacy. For clarity, Financial Interest Form is defined. Consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act, at § 600.235 the proposed rule would require the financial disclosures made by Council members appointed by the Secretary to be posted on the internet and accessible to the public. This proposed rule would update operational and administrative procedures of the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. It consists of varied measures which implement 2007 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, respond to emerging Council issues, and make minor changes and technical corrections to the Council regulations. The proposed rule includes: 1. Requirements relative to the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) consisting of Council chairs, executive directors, and others, to work on issues of common concern; 2. Requirements relative to the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in the regulations and requirements for financial interest reporting by the SSC; 3. Update meeting announcement requirements for the Councils, their committees, advisory panels (AP), Fishing Industry Advisory Committees (FIAC), and the CCC, consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act; 4. Requirement for Councils to establish a procedure for proposed regulations submitted to the Secretary; 5. Designation of an alternate for the Indian tribal representative of the Pacific Fishery Management Council; 6. Requirements for nominating individuals to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; 7. Revisions to the process and deadline for governors to submit Council member nominations to the Secretary; Technical Changes In addition to implementing amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the proposed rule would make several technical changes and corrections to 50 CFR part 600 subparts A, B, and C. In § 600.105, ‘‘intercouncil boundaries,’’ the latitude of the seaward boundary between Virginia and North Carolina would be corrected. In § 600.125, citations to two documents that direct a Council’s financial management would be updated. Section 600.10 would be revised to clarify that VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:22 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Classification This action 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 that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 13389 8. Restrictions on direct or indirect lobbying of legislators by Council members, Council staff, and contractors. 9. Addition of lobbying and advocacy as types of financial interest activities that must be reported by affected individuals; 10. Specifying that SSC members be treated as ‘‘affected individuals’’ as regards certain financial interest reporting requirements, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act; 11. Requirement that financial disclosures made by appointed Council members to be posted on the internet, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act; and 12. Requirement that new Council members to attend a training course developed by the Secretary, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Additionally, the proposed rule would make several technical changes and minor corrections to the existing regulations. For example, in the section on inter-council boundaries, the latitude of the seaward boundary between Virginia and North Carolina is corrected; citations to two documents that direct the Councils’ financial management are updated; and the text of an oath of office is added to the regulations. Several additional minor corrections have been made throughout the subparts. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been approved by OMB under Control Number 0649–0192. Public reporting burden for completing and submitting the Statement of Financial Interests, Form 88–195, is estimated to average 35 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by e-mail to DavidlRostker@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–7285. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 600 Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business information, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Statistics. E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 13390 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules Dated: March 23, 2009. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. c. Add new paragraphs (a)(5) and (a)(10) to read as follows: § 600.15 For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 600 as follows: PART 600—MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS 1. The authority citation for part 600 continues to read: Authority: 5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 600.10, add definitions for ‘‘Advisory panel (AP)’’ and ‘‘Fishing industry advisory committee (FIAC)’’ in alphabetical order; and revise the definitions for ‘‘Region’’, ‘‘Regional Administrator’’, and ‘‘Science and Research Director’’ to read as follows: § 600.10 Definitions. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 * * * * * Advisory panel (AP) means a standing committee formed and selected by a regional fishery management council, under the authority of MagnusonStevens Act section 302(g)(2), to assist it in carrying out its functions. An AP may include individuals who are not members of the council. * * * * * Fishing industry advisory committee (FIAC) means an advisory group formed and selected by a regional fishery management council under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(3)(A). A FIAC is not an ‘‘advisory panel’’ as defined under this section. * * * * * Region means one of six NMFS Regional Offices responsible for administering the management and development of marine resources in the United States in their respective geographical regions. Regional Administrator means the Administrator of one of the six NMFS Regions described in Table 1 to § 600.502, or a designee. Formerly known as Regional Director. * * * * * Science and Research Director means the Director of one of the six NMFS Fisheries Science Centers described in Table 1 to § 600.502, or a designee, also known as Center Director. * * * * * 3. In § 600.15: a. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(9) through (a)(15) as paragraphs (a)(11) through (a)(17), respectively. b. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(5) through (a)(8) as paragraphs (a)(6) through (a)(9), respectively. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Other acronyms. (a) * * * (5) CCC Council coordination committee * * * * * (10) FIAC Fishing industry advisory committee * * * * * 4. In § 600.105, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 600.105 Intercouncil boundaries. * * * * * (b) Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Councils. The boundary begins at the seaward boundary between the States of Virginia and North Carolina (36 33’01.0’’ N. lat), and proceeds due east to the point of intersection with the outward boundary of the EEZ as specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. * * * * * 5. In § 600.115, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 600.115 Statement of organization, practices, and procedures (SOPP). * * * * * (b) Amendments to current SOPPs must be consistent with the guidelines in this section, subpart C of this part, the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement (the funding agreement between the Council and NOAA that establishes Council funding and mandates specific requirements regarding the use of those funds), the statutory requirements of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law. Upon approval of a Council’s SOPP amendment by the Secretary, a notice of availability must be published in the Federal Register that includes an internet address from which the amended SOPP may be read and downloaded and a mailing address to which the public may write to request copies. * * * * * 6. Section 600.117 is added to subpart B to read as follows: § 600.117 (CCC). Council coordination committee (a) The Councils may establish a Council coordination committee (CCC) consisting of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors of each of the eight Councils or other Council members or staff, in order to discuss issues of relevance to all Councils. (b) The CCC is not subject to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2). Procedures for announcing and conducting open and closed meetings of PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the CCC shall be in accordance with § 600.135. 7. In § 600.125, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 600.125 Budgeting, funding, and accounting. (a) Council grant activities are governed by 15 CFR part 14 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-Profit and Commercial Organizations), 2 CFR part 230 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations), 15 CFR part 14 (Audit Requirements for Institutions of Higher Education and Other Non-Profit Organizations), and the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement. * * * * * 8. Section 600.133 is added to subpart B to read as follows: § 600.133 Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). (a) Establishment of an SSC. (1) Each Council shall establish, maintain, and appoint the members of an SSC to assist it in the development, collection, evaluation, and peer review of such statistical, biological, economic, social, and other scientific information as is relevant to such Council’s development and amendment of any fishery management plan. (2) Each SSC shall provide its Council ongoing scientific advice for fishery management decisions, including recommendations for acceptable biological catch, preventing overfishing, maximum sustainable yield, and achieving rebuilding targets, and reports on stock status and health, bycatch, habitat status, social and economic impacts of management measures, and sustainability of fishing practices. (3) Members appointed by the Councils to the SSCs shall be Federal employees, State employees, academicians, or independent experts and shall have strong scientific or technical credentials and experience. (4) An SSC shall hold its meetings in conjunction with the meetings of the Council, to the extent practicable. (b) [Reserved] (c) [Reserved] 9. In § 600.135, paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) are revised to read as follows: § 600.135 Meeting procedures. (a) Regular meetings. Public notice of regular meetings of each Council, CCC, SSC, and AP, including the meeting agenda, must be published in the Federal Register at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting date. E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules Appropriate notice by any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of the region (and in other major fishing ports having a direct interest in the affected fishery) must be given. E-mail notification and website postings alone are not sufficient. The published agenda of a regular meeting may not be modified to include additional matters for Council action without public notice, or such notice must be given at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting date, unless such modification is necessary to address an emergency under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in which case public notice shall be given immediately. Drafts of all regular public meeting notices must be received by NMFS headquarters office at least 23 calendar days before the first day of the regular meeting. Councils must ensure that all public meetings are accessible to persons with disabilities, and that the public can make timely requests for language interpreters or other auxiliary aids at public meetings. (b) Emergency meetings. Drafts of emergency public notices must be transmitted to the NMFS headquarters office; recommended at least 5 working days prior to the first day of the emergency meeting. Although notices of and agendas for emergency meetings are not required to be published in the Federal Register, notices of emergency meetings must be promptly announced through any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of the region. E-mail notification and website postings alone are not sufficient. (c) Closed meetings. After proper notification by any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports within the region, having included in the notification the time and place of the meeting and the reason for closing any meeting or portion thereof to the public: (1) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC must close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns information bearing a national security classification. (2) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns matters or information pertaining to national security, employment matters, or briefings on litigation in which the Council is interested. (3) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns internal administrative matters other than employment. Examples of other internal administrative matters include candidates for appointment to AP, SSC, VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 FIAC, and other subsidiary bodies and public decorum or medical conditions of members of a Council or its subsidiary bodies. In deciding whether to close a portion of a meeting to discuss internal administrative matters, the CCC, a Council, or subsidiary body should consider not only the privacy interests of individuals whose conduct or qualifications may be discussed, but also the interest of the public in being informed of Council operations and actions. (d) Without the notice required by paragraph (c) of this section, a Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may briefly close a portion of a meeting to discuss employment or other internal administrative matters. The closed portion of a meeting that is closed without notice may not exceed two hours. (e) Before closing a meeting or portion thereof, the CCC, a Council, or subsidiary body should consult with the NOAA General Counsel Office to ensure that the matters to be discussed fall within the exceptions to the requirement to hold public meetings described in paragraph (c) of this section. * * * * * 10. Section 600.140 is added to subpart B to read as follows: § 600.140 Procedure for proposed regulations. (a) Each Council must establish a written procedure for proposed regulations consistent with section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The procedure must describe how the Council deems proposed regulations necessary or appropriate for the purposes of implementing a fishery management plan or a plan amendment, or making modifications to regulations implementing a fishery management plan or plan amendment. In addition, the procedure must describe how the Council submits proposed regulations to the Secretary. (b) The Councils must include the procedure for proposed regulations in its SOPP, see § 600.115, or other written documentation that is available to the public. 11. Section 600.207 is added to subpart C to read as follows: § 600.207 Pacific Fishery Management Council Tribal Indian representation and alternate. (a) The tribal Indian representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council may designate an alternate during the period of the representative’s term. The designee must be knowledgeable concerning tribal rights, tribal law, and PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 13391 the fishery resources of the geographical area concerned. (b) New or revised designations of an alternate by the tribal Indian representative must be delivered in writing to the appropriate NMFS Regional Administrator and the Council chair at least 48 hours before the designee may vote on any issue before the Council. In that written document, the tribal Indian representative must indicate how the designee meets the knowledge requirements under paragraph (a) of this section. 12. In § 600.210 revise paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 600.210 Terms of Council members. * * * * * (c) A member who has completed three consecutive terms will be eligible for appointment to another term one full year after completion of the third consecutive term. 13. In § 600.215, redesignate paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) as paragraphs (d), (e), and (f), respectively; add new paragraph (c); and revise the newly redesignated paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 600.215 Council nomination and appointment procedures. * * * * * (c) Nominees to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. (1) The Governors of States submitting nominees to the Secretary for appointment to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council shall include: (i) At least one nominee each from the commercial, recreational, and charter fishing sectors, except that an individual who owns or operates a fish farm outside the United States shall not be considered to be a representative of the commercial or recreational sector; and (ii) At least one other individual who is knowledgeable regarding the conservation and management of fisheries resources in the jurisdiction of the Council. (2) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, if the Secretary determines that the list of names submitted by the Governor does not meet the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Secretary shall: (i) Publish a notice in the Federal Register asking the residents of that State to submit the names and pertinent biographical data of individuals who would meet the requirements of this section that were not met for appointment to the Council; and (ii) Add the name of any qualified individual submitted by the public who E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 13392 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules meets the requirements of this section that were not met to the list of names submitted by the Governor. (3) The requirements of this paragraph (c) shall expire at the end of fiscal year 2012, meaning through September 30, 2012. * * * * * (e) Nomination deadlines. Nomination packages (governors’ letters and completed nomination kits) should be forwarded by express mail under a single mailing to the address specified by the Assistant Administrator by March 15. For appointments outside the normal cycle, the Secretary will provide a deadline for receipt of nominations to the affected Council and state governors. (1) Obligatory seats. (i) The Governor of the state for which the term of an obligatory seat is expiring should submit the names of at least three qualified individuals to fill that seat by the March 15 deadline. The Secretary will appoint to the Pacific Fishery Management Council a representative of an Indian tribe from a list of no fewer than three individuals submitted by the tribal Indian governments. (ii) If the Governor or tribal Indian governments fail to provide a nomination letter and at least three complete nomination kits by March 15, the obligatory seat will remain vacant until all required information has been received and processed and the Secretary has made the appointment. (2) At-large seats. (i) If a Governor chooses to submit nominations for an atlarge seat, he/she should submit lists that contain at least three qualified nominees for each vacant seat. A nomination letter and a nomination kit for each qualified nominee should be forwarded by express mail under a single mailing to the address specified by the Assistant Administrator by March 15. (ii) Nomination packages that are not substantially complete by March 31 will be returned to the nominating Governor and will be processed no further. Atlarge members will be appointed from among the nominations submitted by the governors who complied with the nomination requirements. * * * * * 14. Section 600.220 is revised to read as follows: pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 § 600.220 Oath of office. As trustees of the nation’s fishery resources, all voting members must take an oath specified by the Secretary as follows: ‘‘I, [name of the person taking oath], as a duly appointed member of a Regional Fishery Management Council established under the Magnuson- VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, hereby promise to conserve and manage the living marine resources of the United States of America by carrying out the business of the Council for the greatest overall benefit of the Nation. I recognize my responsibility to serve as a knowledgeable and experienced trustee of the Nation’s marine fisheries resources, being careful to balance competing private or regional interests, and always aware and protective of the public interest in those resources. I commit myself to uphold the provisions, standards, and requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable law, and shall conduct myself at all times according to the rules of conduct prescribed by the Secretary of Commerce. This oath is given freely and without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.’’ 15. In § 600.225 redesignate paragraphs (b)(2) through (b)(8) as paragraphs (b)(3) through (b)(9) respectively; and add a new paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows: § 600.225 Rules of conduct. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) Council members, employees, and contractors must comply with the Federal Cost Principles Applicable to Regional Fishery Management Council Grants and Cooperative Agreements, especially with regard to lobbying, and other restrictions with regard to lobbying as specified in § 600.227 of this part. * * * * * 16. Section 600.227 is added to subpart C to read as follows: § 600.227 Lobbying. (a) Council members, employees and contractors must comply with the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 1352 and Department of Commerce implementing regulations published at 15 CFR 28, ‘‘New Restrictions on Lobbying.’’ These provisions generally prohibit the use of Federal funds for lobbying the Executive or Legislative Branches of the Federal Government in connection with the award. Because the Councils receive in excess of $100,000 in Federal funding, the regulations mandate that the Councils must complete Form SF-LLL, ‘‘Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,’’ regarding the use of non Federal funds for lobbying. The Form SF-LLL shall be submitted within 30 days following the end of the calendar quarter in which there occurs any event that requires disclosure or that materially affects the accuracy of the information contained PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 in any disclosure form previously filed. The recipient must submit the Forms SF-LLL, including those received from subrecipients, contractors, and subcontractors, to the Grants Officer. (b) Council members, employees, and contractors must comply with the Federal Cost Principles Applicable to Regional Fishery Management Council Grants and Cooperative Agreements summarized as follows: (1) Title 2 CFR part 230 - Cost Principles for Nonprofit Organizations (OMB CircularA–122) is applicable to the Federal assistance awards issued to the Councils. (2) The purpose of the cost principles at 2 CFR part 230 is to define what costs can be paid on Federal awards issued to non-profit organizations. The regulation establishes both general principles and detailed items of costs. (3) Under 2 CFR part 230, costs for certain lobbying activities are unallowable as charges to Federal awards. These activities would include any attempts to influence: (i) The introduction of Federal or state legislation; (ii) The enactment or modification of any pending legislation by preparing, distributing, or using publicity or propaganda, or by urging members of the general public to contribute to or to participate in any demonstration, march, rally, fundraising drive, lobbying campaign, or letter writing or telephone campaign. (4) Generally, costs associated with providing a technical and factual presentation directly related to the performance of a grant, through hearing testimony, statements, or letters to Congress or a state legislature are allowable if made in response to a documented request. (5) Costs associated with lobbying to influence state legislation in order to reduce the cost or to avoid material impairment of the organization’s authority to perform the grant are also allowable. 17. In § 600.235: a. In paragraph (a), add paragraph (3) to the definition of ‘‘Affected individual’’, remove the definition of ‘‘Financial interest in harvesting, processing, or marketing’’, and add definitions for ‘‘Financial Interest Form’’ and ‘‘Financial interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing’’ in alphabetical order. b. Revise paragraph (b). c. Revise paragraph (c)(2) and add paragraph (c)(4). d. Revise paragraphs (h) and (i). The revisions and additions read as follows: E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 § 600.235 Financial disclosure. (a) * * * Affected individual * * * (3) A member of an SSC shall be treated as an affected individual for the purposes of paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(5) through (b)(7), and (i) of this section. * * * * * Financial Interest Form means NOAA Form 88–195, ‘‘STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS For Use By Voting Members of, and Nominees to, the Regional Fishery Management Councils, and Members of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC)’’ or such other form as the Secretary may prescribe. Financial interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing (1) includes: (i) Stock, equity, or other ownership interests in, or employment with, any company, business, fishing vessel, or other entity engaging in any harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council concerned; (ii) Stock, equity, or other ownership interests in, or employment with, any company or other entity that provides equipment or other services essential to harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activities in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council concerned, such as a chandler or a dock operation; (iii) Employment with, or service as an officer, director, or trustee of, an association whose members include companies, vessels, or other entities engaged in any harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council concerned; and (iv) Employment with an entity providing consulting, legal, or representational services to any entity engaging in, or providing equipment or services essential to harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activities in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council concerned, or to any association whose members include entities engaged in the activities described in paragraphs (1)(i) and (ii) of this definition; (2) Does not include stock, equity, or other ownership interests in, or employment with, an entity engaging in scientific fisheries research in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council concerned, unless it is covered under paragraph (1) of this definition. A financial interest in such entities is covered by 18 U.S.C. 208, the Federal conflict-of-interest statute. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 (b) Reporting. (1) The MagnusonStevens Act requires the disclosure by each affected individual of any financial interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity, and of any such financial interest of the affected individual’s spouse, minor child, partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee. The information required to be reported must be disclosed on the Financial Interest Form (as defined in paragraph (a) of this section), or such other form as the Secretary may prescribe. (2) The Financial Interest Form must be filed by each nominee for Secretarial appointment to the Council with the Assistant Administrator by April 15 or, if nominated after March 15, one month after nomination by the Governor. A seated voting member appointed by the Secretary must file a Financial Interest Form with the Executive Director of the appropriate Council within 45 days of taking office; must file an update of his or her statement with the Executive Director of the appropriate Council within 30 days of the time any such financial interest is acquired or substantially changed by the affected individual or the affected individual’s spouse, minor child, partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee; and must update his or her form annually and file that update with the Executive Director of the appropriate Council by February 1 of each year. (3) The Executive Director must, in a timely manner, provide copies of and updates to the Financial Interest Forms of appointed Council members to the NMFS Regional Administrator, the Regional Attorney who advises the Council, the Department of Commerce Assistant General Counsel for Administration, and the NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries. These completed Financial Interest Forms shall be kept on file in the office of the NMFS Regional Administrator and at the Council offices, and shall be made available for public inspection at such offices during normal office hours. In addition, the forms shall be made available at each Council meeting or hearing and shall be posted for download from the internet on the Council’s website. (4) Councils must retain the Financial Interest Form for a Council member for at least 5 years after the expiration of that individual’s last term. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 13393 (5) An individual being considered for appointment to an SSC must file the Financial Interest Form with the Regional Administrator for the geographic area concerned within 45 days prior to appointment. A member of the SSC must file an update of his or her statement with the Regional Administrator for the geographic area concerned within 30 days of the time any such financial interest is acquired or substantially changed by the SSC member or the SSC member’s spouse, minor child, partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee; and must update his or her form annually and file that update with the Regional Administrator by February 1 of each year. (6) An individual who serves as an SSC member to more than one Council shall file Financial Interest Forms with each Regional Administrator for the geographic areas concerned. (7) The Regional Administrator shall maintain on file the Financial Interest Forms of all SSC members for at least five years after the expiration of that individual’s term on the SSC. Such Forms are not subject to sections 302(j)(5)(B) and (C) of the MagnusonStevens Act. (c) * * * (2) As used in this section, a Council decision will be considered to have a ‘‘significant and predictable effect on a financial interest’’ if there is a close causal link between the decision and an expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the financial interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing of any affected individual or the affected individual’s spouse, minor child, partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee, relative to the financial interests of other participants in the same gear type or sector of the fishery. The relative financial interests of the affected individual and other participants will be determined with reference to the most recent fishing year for which information is available. However, for fisheries in which IFQs are assigned, the percentage of IFQs assigned to the affected individual will be dispositive. * * * * * (4) A member of an SSC is not subject to the restrictions on voting under this section. * * * * * (h) The provisions of 18 U.S.C. 208 regarding conflicts of interest do not E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1 13394 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 58 / Friday, March 27, 2009 / Proposed Rules pwalker on PROD1PC71 with PROPOSALS3 apply to an affected individual who is a voting member of a Council appointed by the Secretary, as described under section 302(j)(1)(A)(ii) of the MagnusonStevens Act, and who is in compliance with the requirements of this section for filing a financial disclosure report. The provisions of 18 U.S.C. 208 do not apply to a member of an SSC, unless that individual is an officer or employee of the United States or is otherwise covered by the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 208. (i) It is unlawful for an affected individual to knowingly and willfully fail to disclose, or to falsely disclose, any financial interest as required by this section, or to knowingly vote on a Council decision in violation of this section. In addition to the penalties applicable under § 600.735, a violation of this provision may result in removal of the affected individual from Council or SSC membership. VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:07 Mar 26, 2009 Jkt 217001 18. In § 600.240, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 600.240 Security assurances. (a) DOC Office of Security will issue security assurances to Council nominees and members following completion of acceptable background checks. Security assurances will be valid for 5 years from the date of issuance. A security assurance will not entitle the member to access classified data. In instances in which Council members may need to discuss, at closed meetings, materials classified for national security purposes, the agency or individual (e.g., Department of State, U.S. Coast Guard) providing such classified information will be responsible for ensuring that Council members and other attendees have the appropriate security clearances. * * * * * 19. Section 600.250 is added to subpart C to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 600.250 Council member training. (a) The Secretary shall provide a training course covering a variety of topics relevant to matters before the Councils and shall make the training course available to all Council members and staff and staff from NMFS regional offices and science centers. To the extent resources allow, the Secretary will make the training available to Council committee and advisory panel members. (b) Council members appointed after January 12, 2007, shall, within one year of appointment, complete the training course developed by the Secretary. Any Council member who completed such a training course within 24 months of January 12, 2007, is considered to have met the training requirement of this section. [FR Doc. E9–6896 Filed 3–26–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\27MRP1.SGM 27MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 58 (Friday, March 27, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 13386-13394]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-6896]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 600

[Docket No. 080102007-81097-01]
RIN 0648-AW18


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; 
Regional Fishery Management Councils; Operations

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

ACTION:  Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY:  NMFS proposes changes to the regulations that address the 
operations and administration of regional fishery management councils 
(Councils). The regulatory changes are needed to implement amendments 
to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) that, among other things, govern the Council 
Coordination Committee (CCC), expand the role of the Councils' 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), require that SSC members 
disclose their financial interests, and provide for training of Council 
members and staff. Additionally, the proposed rule would make changes 
to the regulations requiring Councils to provide procedures for 
proposed regulations, clarifying restrictions on lobbying, and 
clarifying timing in the Council member nomination process. The 
proposed rule would also make technical and minor corrections to the 
regulations unrelated to the most recent Magnuson-Stevens Act 
amendments.

DATES: Written comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. e.d.t. on 
July 6, 2009.

ADDRESSES:  You may submit comments, identified by ``RIN 0648-AW18,'' 
by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov.
     Fax: 301-713-1175.
     Mail: Alan Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please mark the outside of the envelope 
``Council Operations.''
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter n/a in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe pdf file formats only.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to the Office of Sustainable Fisheries 
at the mailing address or fax number specified above and by e-mail to 
David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Chappell, at 301-713-2337.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 302 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
includes provisions for the establishment and administration of the 
Councils. The Magnuson-Stevens Act was reauthorized on January 12, 
2007, with amendments throughout, and this proposed rule would 
implement some of the changes that were made to Section 302. 
Additionally, several issues regarding Council operations and 
membership have prompted proposed

[[Page 13387]]

changes to the regulations. Key aspects of the proposed rule are: 
requirements relative to the CCC; requirements for SSCs and financial 
interest reporting for SSC members; an update of Council and committee 
meeting announcement requirements; a requirement for Councils to have 
procedures for proposed regulations; designation of an alternate for 
the Indian tribal representative of the Pacific Fishery Management 
Council; requirements for nominating individuals to the Gulf of Mexico 
Fishery Management Council; revisions to the process and deadline for 
governors to submit Council member nominations to the Secretary; 
restrictions on direct or indirect lobbying by Council members, Council 
staff, and contractors; addition of lobbying and advocacy as types of 
financial interest activities that must be reported by affected 
individuals; and the requirement for new Council members to attend a 
training course. Additionally, the proposed rule would implement 
several minor changes in Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302, as well as a 
number of technical changes and minor corrections, unrelated to the 
reauthorization of the Act. Many of the key aspects of the proposed 
rule reiterate statutory requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS 
is including this statutory text in regulations so that relevant 
Council process provisions both statutory and regulatory are presented 
together for ease of reference.

Statement of Organization, Practices and Procedures (SOPPs)

    There have been continuing questions regarding Councils' SOPPs. The 
general public often does not understand the Councils' functions, how 
they are organized and what their limits are in fisheries management 
and policy. SOPPs have provided that information, but the public must 
go to the Council office for a copy or request a copy by mail. The 
increased use of the Internet makes it appropriate for the Councils to 
post their SOPPs on line. Therefore, NMFS proposes to amend Sec.  
600.115 to require that Council SOPPs be made available on the 
Internet. Additionally, NMFS proposes to clarify the regulatory 
sections with which the SOPPs must comply.

Council Coordinating Committee (CCC)

    The proposed rule at a new Sec.  600.117 would govern the CCC. The 
CCC consists of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors of 
each of the eight Councils or other Council members or staff, and 
discusses issues of relevance to all Councils, as specified in the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act at section 302(l). The CCC is exempt from the 
requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Procedures for 
announcing and conducting open and closed meetings of the CCC are 
reflected in Sec.  600.135.

Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs)

    This proposed rule addresses several changes in Magnuson-Stevens 
Act section 302(g)(1) regarding SSCs. Section 600.133 of the proposed 
rule requires SSC members, appointed by the Councils, to be Federal 
employees, State employees, academicians, or independent experts with 
strong scientific or technical credentials and experience. It also 
requires SSC meetings to be held in conjunction with Council meetings 
to the extent practicable.
    Section 302(g)(1)(D) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act includes a new 
requirement that SSC members shall be treated as ``affected 
individuals'' for purposes of sections 302(j)(2), (3)(B), (4) and 
(5)(A) of the Act, which pertain to the disclosure of financial 
interests by affected individuals. Consistent with the Act, the 
proposed rule at Sec.  600.235 would require an SSC member to file the 
Financial Interest Form with the NMFS Regional Administrator within 45 
days prior to appointment and within 30 days of substantial changes to 
his/her financial interests and update his/her form annually. NMFS 
would retain the records for five years.
    Sections 302(j)(5)(B-C), (6) and (7) of the Act include 
requirements for public inspection of, and access to, Council member 
Financial Interest Forms and recusals from voting. Because SSC members 
are not ``affected individuals'' for purposes of these sections, the 
proposed rule does not require that SSC members' Financial Interest 
Forms be made available for inspection or made available on the 
internet. In addition, the proposed rule states that SSC members are 
not subject to the restrictions on voting under Sec.  600.235. The 
proposed rule also clarifies that SSC members are not automatically 
subject to the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 208, which pertains to actions 
affecting personal financial interests. Those requirements would only 
apply if a person is an officer or employee of the executive branch of 
the United States Government, or falls under another category of 
persons specified in that statute. NMFS seeks comments from the public 
on the proposed regulations that would affect the composition, purpose, 
and operation of the SSC, as well as the financial disclosure 
requirements for its members. Finally, existing regulations at Sec.  
600.235(h) provide that 18 U.S.C. 208 would also not apply to an 
affected individual who is in compliance with the requirements of that 
section for filing a financial disclosure report. Consistent with 
section 302(j)(8) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the proposed rule would 
clarify this exemption only applies to an affected individual ``who is 
a voting member of a Council appointed by the Secretary, as described 
under section 302(j)(1)(A)(ii) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.''
    Additional changes in Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(1)(A), 
(B) and (E) regard the function and roles of the SSC and the 
establishment of a peer review process. Some aspects of those changes 
were addressed in the National Standard 1 Guidelines revisions (74 FR 
3178, January 16, 2009), which included guidance on annual catch limits 
and accountability measures and other aspects of overfishing and 
rebuilding. NMFS is continuing to explore other guidance that may be 
needed regarding these statutory changes.
    Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(1)(F) requires the Secretary, 
subject to the availability of funds, to pay a stipend to members of 
SSCs and advisory panels who are not employed by the Federal Government 
or a State marine fisheries agency. NMFS seeks comment from the public 
on the implementation of stipends should funding be available. In 
addition to issues such as the amount and frequency of the payments, 
and what criteria must be satisfied for one to qualify for the stipend, 
NMFS seeks input from the public on the funding priority that should be 
given payment of the stipend, relative to the Councils' other financial 
obligations.
    In anticipation of the stipend requirement, NMFS has begun to 
examine how Councils develop and use their SSCs, advisory panels, and 
other advisory committees. One concern has been that Councils use the 
terms ``advisory panel'' and ``advisory committee'' inconsistently. To 
help prepare for a clear analysis of the number and types of advisory 
committees and for a determination of who may be entitled to receive 
the stipend, NMFS proposes definitions in Sec.  600.10 for an 
``advisory panel'', which would be established pursuant to Magnuson-
Stevens Act section 302(g)(2), and a ``fishing industry advisory 
committee'', established by a Council pursuant to section 302(g)(3)(A). 
In addition, definitions for ``Region,'' ``Regional Administrator,'' 
and ``Science and Research Director'' would be updated to reflect that 
there

[[Page 13388]]

are now 6 regions, each with a regional administrator and a science and 
research director.

Public Notice of Meetings

    The proposed rule at Sec.  600.135 would specify revised means for 
announcing meetings of a Council, SSC, advisory panels, other 
committees, and the CCC. The regulations currently require public 
notification specifically through the news media. The revised 
regulations would allow for notice of regular, emergency, and closed 
meetings by any means that will result, per section 302(i)(2)(c) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of 
the region and those other ports with an interest in any of the 
fisheries likely to be addressed in the proceedings. Also, the proposed 
rule stipulates that notices about regular and emergency meetings by 
website and e-mail postings alone are not sufficient.

Council Procedure for Proposed Regulations

    A new Sec.  600.140 is proposed to be added that would require each 
Council to establish clear internal procedures for proposed 
regulations, consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act section 303(c). 
Section 303(c) pertains to the submission of proposed regulations to 
the Secretary which a Council deems necessary or appropriate for the 
purposes of implementing a fishery management plan or plan amendment 
and making modifications to regulations implementing a plan or plan 
amendment. Section 600.140 would require that each Council establish a 
clear procedure that sets forth how it deems proposed regulations as 
necessary or appropriate and also how it formally submits such 
regulations to the Secretary. Section 600.140 proposes that the 
procedure be described in the Council's SOPP or other written 
documentation available to the public to inform the public how it 
operates. The form and detail of the procedure may be prescribed by 
each Council, and may be based on any existing procedures as 
appropriate, subject to the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
and approval by the Secretary.

Pacific Fishery Management Council Tribal Member Alternate

    The proposed rule would establish a new section, Sec.  600.207, to 
specify the conditions under which a tribal Indian representative to 
the Pacific Fishery Management Council may designate an alternate for 
the period of the representative's term. The requirements for 
designating an alternate would be similar to those of state members.

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Nominations

    The proposed rule would specify new procedures in Sec.  600.215 for 
nominating and appointing members to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 
Management Council. Consistent with new language in the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, the proposed rule requires the Governors of each Gulf 
state to ensure their list of nominees for appointment to the Council 
includes representatives of certain fishery sectors, as well as at 
least one other individual knowledgeable in fishery conservation and 
management. The rule also provides a process for the citizens of a Gulf 
coastal state to nominate individuals, should the Governor's nominees 
be determined by the Secretary to be unqualified for appointment.

Council Member Nomination Process

    NMFS proposes to amend Sec.  600.215 regarding the submission of 
Council member nominations by state governors to allow more flexibility 
in the timing. Current guidelines require state governors to submit 
names of Council seat nominees and their complete nomination packages 
to NMFS by March 15. The proposed rule would soften the deadline, 
requiring submission of nominees' names by March 15 and allowing until 
March 31 for submission of the completed nomination packages.
    This proposed rule change is needed to accommodate the lengthy and 
complex procedure for Council nominees to file for and receive official 
security assurances. The security assurance application procedure 
requires extensive personal history information to be submitted by 
computer. Due to timing of the process, software and internet 
connectivity problems, and availability of the personal information, 
the security assurance filings can be delayed, resulting in submission 
of the completed nomination packages after March 15.
    Recognizing the difficulty of the process, NMFS has accommodated 
late submission of nomination packages. NMFS intends to provide states 
every reasonable opportunity to submit nominations for open Council 
seats, and, therefore, while submission of the names for nomination 
must be submitted by March 15, the proposed rule would give states 
until March 31 to submit the completed nomination package.
    NMFS retains the requirement for having completed packages prior to 
accepting nominations for any seat, and the option not to consider any 
nominations for at-large seats not completed by March 31. It remains 
NMFS' expectation that governors will submit, at a minimum, their list 
of nominees by March 15.
    The Secretary must make Council member appointments by June 27 to 
allow new members to be seated by August 11 and complete the regular 
nomination cycle. Any later submission of nominees jeopardizes that 
process.
    Notifying governors and commencing the nomination process earlier 
may help the situation but would not solve the problem of late 
nomination package submissions. Currently, NMFS contacts governors each 
December and January to solicit nominations for upcoming obligatory and 
at-large seats. Some gubernatorial terms begin in January and a change 
in administration, as well as other year-end priorities can confound 
the state's Council nomination process.

Restrictions on Lobbying

    NMFS proposes to add a new paragraph concerning lobbying to Sec.  
600.225, which sets forth the Council Rules of Conduct. There have been 
recent questions from the Councils and inquiries from the public 
regarding what is allowed and not allowed in the way of direct or 
indirect lobbying by Council members and staff. Direct lobbying 
involves contacts with legislators, their staffs, or other government 
officials, either in person or through written or oral communication. 
Indirect or ``grassroots'' lobbying involves contacting others and 
urging them to support or to advocate for improve appropriations or 
changes to legislation or policy.
    To provide Council members, Council staff and members of the public 
a better idea of restrictions on lobbying activities, NMFS proposes to 
add a new Sec.  600.227 Lobbying. Restrictions on lobbying activities 
that apply to the Regional Fishery Management Councils, as recipients 
of Federal financial assistance, are encompassed in 31 U.S.C. 
1352(a)(1)and (2), 15 CFR 28.100(a), and in applicable cost-principles 
set forth at 2 CFR part 230. As a condition of receiving such 
assistance, the Councils agree to abide by these restrictions. The 
proposed Sec.  600.227 would provide not only references to these 
lobbying restrictions, but also general guidance with respect to 
certain proscribed actions.

Financial Disclosure by Council and SSC Members

    The amended Magnuson-Stevens Act expands the array of business 
activities

[[Page 13389]]

that must be reported by affected individuals in their financial 
disclosures. An ``affected individual'' is a person who is nominated by 
a state Governor or appointed by the Secretary to serve as a voting 
member of a Council under section 302(b)(2) and (b)(5) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. Members of an SSC are also considered affected individuals 
for specific paragraphs of Sec.  600.235. Affected individuals must 
disclose any financial interests they have in certain activities that 
may fall under the jurisdiction of the Council. Per the amended 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, lobbying and advocacy are added to fishery 
harvesting, processing, and marketing as the types of activities, upon 
which the individual must report. The proposed rule would implement 
this change by expanding and updating the definition of financial 
interests in Sec.  600.235 to include the activities of lobbying and 
advocacy. It would also remove from the definition of financial 
interests the exclusion of financial concerns associated with 
environmental advocacy. For clarity, Financial Interest Form is 
defined.
    Consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, at Sec.  600.235 the 
proposed rule would require the financial disclosures made by Council 
members appointed by the Secretary to be posted on the internet and 
accessible to the public.

Council Member Training

    Another new section, Sec.  600.250, addresses a Magnuson-Stevens 
Act requirement for the Secretary to develop a training course and for 
newly appointed Council members to attend the training course within 
one year of appointment. The minimum course content is specified in the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and not addressed in this regulation. The course 
would be made available, not only to new Council members, but also to 
existing Council members, Council staff, and NMFS staff. The course may 
also be made available to Council committee and advisory panel members.

Technical Changes

    In addition to implementing amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
the proposed rule would make several technical changes and corrections 
to 50 CFR part 600 subparts A, B, and C. In Sec.  600.105, 
``intercouncil boundaries,'' the latitude of the seaward boundary 
between Virginia and North Carolina would be corrected. In Sec.  
600.125, citations to two documents that direct a Council's financial 
management would be updated. Section 600.10 would be revised to clarify 
that one full year must have elapsed after the completion of a member's 
third consecutive term before that person may take a seat on the same 
Council. The text of an oath of office would be reinserted in Sec.  
600.220. This oath was removed during the regulations consolidation in 
1996, however it is still in use by the Councils and it requested by 
them and others, particularly when new members are about to be sworn 
in. The oath acknowledges and affirms the members' commitment to the 
conservation and management of living marine resources. Section 600.240 
would be clarified by requiring that background checks be acceptable 
rather than just completed. Several additional minor corrections and 
clarifications reflecting changes already discussed would be made 
throughout the subparts.

Classification

    This action 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 that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual basis for this determination is as follows:

    This proposed rule would update operational and administrative 
procedures of the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. It 
consists of varied measures which implement 2007 amendments to the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, respond to emerging Council issues, and make 
minor changes and technical corrections to the Council regulations. 
The proposed rule includes:
    1. Requirements relative to the Council Coordination Committee 
(CCC) consisting of Council chairs, executive directors, and others, 
to work on issues of common concern;
    2. Requirements relative to the Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC) in the regulations and requirements for financial 
interest reporting by the SSC;
    3. Update meeting announcement requirements for the Councils, 
their committees, advisory panels (AP), Fishing Industry Advisory 
Committees (FIAC), and the CCC, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act;
    4. Requirement for Councils to establish a procedure for 
proposed regulations submitted to the Secretary;
    5. Designation of an alternate for the Indian tribal 
representative of the Pacific Fishery Management Council;
    6. Requirements for nominating individuals to the Gulf of Mexico 
Fishery Management Council;
    7. Revisions to the process and deadline for governors to submit 
Council member nominations to the Secretary;
    8. Restrictions on direct or indirect lobbying of legislators by 
Council members, Council staff, and contractors.
    9. Addition of lobbying and advocacy as types of financial 
interest activities that must be reported by affected individuals;
    10. Specifying that SSC members be treated as ``affected 
individuals'' as regards certain financial interest reporting 
requirements, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act;
    11. Requirement that financial disclosures made by appointed 
Council members to be posted on the internet, consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act; and
    12. Requirement that new Council members to attend a training 
course developed by the Secretary, consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act.
    Additionally, the proposed rule would make several technical 
changes and minor corrections to the existing regulations. For 
example, in the section on inter-council boundaries, the latitude of 
the seaward boundary between Virginia and North Carolina is 
corrected; citations to two documents that direct the Councils' 
financial management are updated; and the text of an oath of office 
is added to the regulations. Several additional minor corrections 
have been made throughout the subparts.
    As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.

    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been 
approved by OMB under Control Number 0649-0192. Public reporting burden 
for completing and submitting the Statement of Financial Interests, 
Form 88-195, is estimated to average 35 minutes per response, including 
the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, 
gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing 
the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden 
estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including 
suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by e-
mail to David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 600

    Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business 
information, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, 
Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Statistics.


[[Page 13390]]


    Dated: March 23, 2009.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 
CFR part 600 as follows:

PART 600--MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS

    1. The authority citation for part 600 continues to read:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    2. In Sec.  600.10, add definitions for ``Advisory panel (AP)'' and 
``Fishing industry advisory committee (FIAC)'' in alphabetical order; 
and revise the definitions for ``Region'', ``Regional Administrator'', 
and ``Science and Research Director'' to read as follows:


Sec.  600.10  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Advisory panel (AP) means a standing committee formed and selected 
by a regional fishery management council, under the authority of 
Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(2), to assist it in carrying out 
its functions. An AP may include individuals who are not members of the 
council.
* * * * *
    Fishing industry advisory committee (FIAC) means an advisory group 
formed and selected by a regional fishery management council under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act section 302(g)(3)(A). A FIAC is 
not an ``advisory panel'' as defined under this section.
* * * * *
    Region means one of six NMFS Regional Offices responsible for 
administering the management and development of marine resources in the 
United States in their respective geographical regions.
    Regional Administrator means the Administrator of one of the six 
NMFS Regions described in Table 1 to Sec.  600.502, or a designee. 
Formerly known as Regional Director.
* * * * *
    Science and Research Director means the Director of one of the six 
NMFS Fisheries Science Centers described in Table 1 to Sec.  600.502, 
or a designee, also known as Center Director.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  600.15:
    a. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(9) through (a)(15) as paragraphs 
(a)(11) through (a)(17), respectively.
    b. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(5) through (a)(8) as paragraphs 
(a)(6) through (a)(9), respectively.
    c. Add new paragraphs (a)(5) and (a)(10) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.15  Other acronyms.

    (a) * * *
    (5) CCC Council coordination committee
* * * * *
    (10) FIAC Fishing industry advisory committee
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  600.105, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.105  Intercouncil boundaries.

* * * * *
    (b) Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Councils. The boundary begins 
at the seaward boundary between the States of Virginia and North 
Carolina (36 33'01.0'' N. lat), and proceeds due east to the point of 
intersection with the outward boundary of the EEZ as specified in the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  600.115, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.115  Statement of organization, practices, and procedures 
(SOPP).

* * * * *
    (b) Amendments to current SOPPs must be consistent with the 
guidelines in this section, subpart C of this part, the terms and 
conditions of the cooperative agreement (the funding agreement between 
the Council and NOAA that establishes Council funding and mandates 
specific requirements regarding the use of those funds), the statutory 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. 
Upon approval of a Council's SOPP amendment by the Secretary, a notice 
of availability must be published in the Federal Register that includes 
an internet address from which the amended SOPP may be read and 
downloaded and a mailing address to which the public may write to 
request copies.
* * * * *
    6. Section 600.117 is added to subpart B to read as follows:


Sec.  600.117  Council coordination committee (CCC).

    (a) The Councils may establish a Council coordination committee 
(CCC) consisting of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors of 
each of the eight Councils or other Council members or staff, in order 
to discuss issues of relevance to all Councils.
    (b) The CCC is not subject to the requirements of the Federal 
Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2). Procedures for announcing and 
conducting open and closed meetings of the CCC shall be in accordance 
with Sec.  600.135.
    7. In Sec.  600.125, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.125  Budgeting, funding, and accounting.

    (a) Council grant activities are governed by 15 CFR part 14 
(Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with 
Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-Profit and 
Commercial Organizations), 2 CFR part 230 (Cost Principles for Non-
Profit Organizations), 15 CFR part 14 (Audit Requirements for 
Institutions of Higher Education and Other Non-Profit Organizations), 
and the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement.
* * * * *
    8. Section 600.133 is added to subpart B to read as follows:


Sec.  600.133  Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).

    (a) Establishment of an SSC. (1) Each Council shall establish, 
maintain, and appoint the members of an SSC to assist it in the 
development, collection, evaluation, and peer review of such 
statistical, biological, economic, social, and other scientific 
information as is relevant to such Council's development and amendment 
of any fishery management plan.
    (2) Each SSC shall provide its Council ongoing scientific advice 
for fishery management decisions, including recommendations for 
acceptable biological catch, preventing overfishing, maximum 
sustainable yield, and achieving rebuilding targets, and reports on 
stock status and health, bycatch, habitat status, social and economic 
impacts of management measures, and sustainability of fishing 
practices.
    (3) Members appointed by the Councils to the SSCs shall be Federal 
employees, State employees, academicians, or independent experts and 
shall have strong scientific or technical credentials and experience.
    (4) An SSC shall hold its meetings in conjunction with the meetings 
of the Council, to the extent practicable.
    (b) [Reserved]
    (c) [Reserved]
    9. In Sec.  600.135, paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  600.135  Meeting procedures.

    (a) Regular meetings. Public notice of regular meetings of each 
Council, CCC, SSC, and AP, including the meeting agenda, must be 
published in the Federal Register at least 14 calendar days prior to 
the meeting date.

[[Page 13391]]

Appropriate notice by any means that will result in wide publicity in 
the major fishing ports of the region (and in other major fishing ports 
having a direct interest in the affected fishery) must be given. E-mail 
notification and website postings alone are not sufficient. The 
published agenda of a regular meeting may not be modified to include 
additional matters for Council action without public notice, or such 
notice must be given at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting 
date, unless such modification is necessary to address an emergency 
under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in which case public 
notice shall be given immediately. Drafts of all regular public meeting 
notices must be received by NMFS headquarters office at least 23 
calendar days before the first day of the regular meeting. Councils 
must ensure that all public meetings are accessible to persons with 
disabilities, and that the public can make timely requests for language 
interpreters or other auxiliary aids at public meetings.
    (b) Emergency meetings. Drafts of emergency public notices must be 
transmitted to the NMFS headquarters office; recommended at least 5 
working days prior to the first day of the emergency meeting. Although 
notices of and agendas for emergency meetings are not required to be 
published in the Federal Register, notices of emergency meetings must 
be promptly announced through any means that will result in wide 
publicity in the major fishing ports of the region. E-mail notification 
and website postings alone are not sufficient.
    (c) Closed meetings. After proper notification by any means that 
will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports within the 
region, having included in the notification the time and place of the 
meeting and the reason for closing any meeting or portion thereof to 
the public:
    (1) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC must close any meeting, or 
portion thereof, that concerns information bearing a national security 
classification.
    (2) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may close any meeting, or 
portion thereof, that concerns matters or information pertaining to 
national security, employment matters, or briefings on litigation in 
which the Council is interested.
    (3) A Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may close any meeting, or 
portion thereof, that concerns internal administrative matters other 
than employment. Examples of other internal administrative matters 
include candidates for appointment to AP, SSC, FIAC, and other 
subsidiary bodies and public decorum or medical conditions of members 
of a Council or its subsidiary bodies. In deciding whether to close a 
portion of a meeting to discuss internal administrative matters, the 
CCC, a Council, or subsidiary body should consider not only the privacy 
interests of individuals whose conduct or qualifications may be 
discussed, but also the interest of the public in being informed of 
Council operations and actions.
    (d) Without the notice required by paragraph (c) of this section, a 
Council, CCC, SSC, AP, or FIAC may briefly close a portion of a meeting 
to discuss employment or other internal administrative matters. The 
closed portion of a meeting that is closed without notice may not 
exceed two hours.
    (e) Before closing a meeting or portion thereof, the CCC, a 
Council, or subsidiary body should consult with the NOAA General 
Counsel Office to ensure that the matters to be discussed fall within 
the exceptions to the requirement to hold public meetings described in 
paragraph (c) of this section.
* * * * *
    10. Section 600.140 is added to subpart B to read as follows:


Sec.  600.140  Procedure for proposed regulations.

    (a) Each Council must establish a written procedure for proposed 
regulations consistent with section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
The procedure must describe how the Council deems proposed regulations 
necessary or appropriate for the purposes of implementing a fishery 
management plan or a plan amendment, or making modifications to 
regulations implementing a fishery management plan or plan amendment. 
In addition, the procedure must describe how the Council submits 
proposed regulations to the Secretary.
    (b) The Councils must include the procedure for proposed 
regulations in its SOPP, see Sec.  600.115, or other written 
documentation that is available to the public.
    11. Section 600.207 is added to subpart C to read as follows:


Sec.  600.207  Pacific Fishery Management Council Tribal Indian 
representation and alternate.

    (a) The tribal Indian representative to the Pacific Fishery 
Management Council may designate an alternate during the period of the 
representative's term. The designee must be knowledgeable concerning 
tribal rights, tribal law, and the fishery resources of the 
geographical area concerned.
    (b) New or revised designations of an alternate by the tribal 
Indian representative must be delivered in writing to the appropriate 
NMFS Regional Administrator and the Council chair at least 48 hours 
before the designee may vote on any issue before the Council. In that 
written document, the tribal Indian representative must indicate how 
the designee meets the knowledge requirements under paragraph (a) of 
this section.
    12. In Sec.  600.210 revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.210  Terms of Council members.

* * * * *
    (c) A member who has completed three consecutive terms will be 
eligible for appointment to another term one full year after completion 
of the third consecutive term.
    13. In Sec.  600.215, redesignate paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) as 
paragraphs (d), (e), and (f), respectively; add new paragraph (c); and 
revise the newly redesignated paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.215  Council nomination and appointment procedures.

* * * * *
    (c) Nominees to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. (1) 
The Governors of States submitting nominees to the Secretary for 
appointment to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council shall 
include:
    (i) At least one nominee each from the commercial, recreational, 
and charter fishing sectors, except that an individual who owns or 
operates a fish farm outside the United States shall not be considered 
to be a representative of the commercial or recreational sector; and
    (ii) At least one other individual who is knowledgeable regarding 
the conservation and management of fisheries resources in the 
jurisdiction of the Council.
    (2) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of 
this section, if the Secretary determines that the list of names 
submitted by the Governor does not meet the requirements of paragraph 
(c)(1) of this section, the Secretary shall:
    (i) Publish a notice in the Federal Register asking the residents 
of that State to submit the names and pertinent biographical data of 
individuals who would meet the requirements of this section that were 
not met for appointment to the Council; and
    (ii) Add the name of any qualified individual submitted by the 
public who

[[Page 13392]]

meets the requirements of this section that were not met to the list of 
names submitted by the Governor.
    (3) The requirements of this paragraph (c) shall expire at the end 
of fiscal year 2012, meaning through September 30, 2012.
* * * * *
    (e) Nomination deadlines. Nomination packages (governors' letters 
and completed nomination kits) should be forwarded by express mail 
under a single mailing to the address specified by the Assistant 
Administrator by March 15. For appointments outside the normal cycle, 
the Secretary will provide a deadline for receipt of nominations to the 
affected Council and state governors.
    (1) Obligatory seats. (i) The Governor of the state for which the 
term of an obligatory seat is expiring should submit the names of at 
least three qualified individuals to fill that seat by the March 15 
deadline. The Secretary will appoint to the Pacific Fishery Management 
Council a representative of an Indian tribe from a list of no fewer 
than three individuals submitted by the tribal Indian governments.
    (ii) If the Governor or tribal Indian governments fail to provide a 
nomination letter and at least three complete nomination kits by March 
15, the obligatory seat will remain vacant until all required 
information has been received and processed and the Secretary has made 
the appointment.
    (2) At-large seats. (i) If a Governor chooses to submit nominations 
for an at-large seat, he/she should submit lists that contain at least 
three qualified nominees for each vacant seat. A nomination letter and 
a nomination kit for each qualified nominee should be forwarded by 
express mail under a single mailing to the address specified by the 
Assistant Administrator by March 15.
    (ii) Nomination packages that are not substantially complete by 
March 31 will be returned to the nominating Governor and will be 
processed no further. At-large members will be appointed from among the 
nominations submitted by the governors who complied with the nomination 
requirements.
* * * * *
    14. Section 600.220 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  600.220  Oath of office.

    As trustees of the nation's fishery resources, all voting members 
must take an oath specified by the Secretary as follows: ``I, [name of 
the person taking oath], as a duly appointed member of a Regional 
Fishery Management Council established under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act, hereby promise to conserve and 
manage the living marine resources of the United States of America by 
carrying out the business of the Council for the greatest overall 
benefit of the Nation. I recognize my responsibility to serve as a 
knowledgeable and experienced trustee of the Nation's marine fisheries 
resources, being careful to balance competing private or regional 
interests, and always aware and protective of the public interest in 
those resources. I commit myself to uphold the provisions, standards, 
and requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act and other applicable law, and shall conduct myself at 
all times according to the rules of conduct prescribed by the Secretary 
of Commerce. This oath is given freely and without mental reservation 
or purpose of evasion.''
    15. In Sec.  600.225 redesignate paragraphs (b)(2) through (b)(8) 
as paragraphs (b)(3) through (b)(9) respectively; and add a new 
paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.225  Rules of conduct.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Council members, employees, and contractors must comply with 
the Federal Cost Principles Applicable to Regional Fishery Management 
Council Grants and Cooperative Agreements, especially with regard to 
lobbying, and other restrictions with regard to lobbying as specified 
in Sec.  600.227 of this part.
* * * * *
    16. Section 600.227 is added to subpart C to read as follows:


Sec.  600.227  Lobbying.

    (a) Council members, employees and contractors must comply with the 
requirements of 31 U.S.C. 1352 and Department of Commerce implementing 
regulations published at 15 CFR 28, ``New Restrictions on Lobbying.'' 
These provisions generally prohibit the use of Federal funds for 
lobbying the Executive or Legislative Branches of the Federal 
Government in connection with the award. Because the Councils receive 
in excess of $100,000 in Federal funding, the regulations mandate that 
the Councils must complete Form SF-LLL, ``Disclosure of Lobbying 
Activities,'' regarding the use of non Federal funds for lobbying. The 
Form SF-LLL shall be submitted within 30 days following the end of the 
calendar quarter in which there occurs any event that requires 
disclosure or that materially affects the accuracy of the information 
contained in any disclosure form previously filed. The recipient must 
submit the Forms SF-LLL, including those received from subrecipients, 
contractors, and subcontractors, to the Grants Officer.
    (b) Council members, employees, and contractors must comply with 
the Federal Cost Principles Applicable to Regional Fishery Management 
Council Grants and Cooperative Agreements summarized as follows:
    (1) Title 2 CFR part 230 - Cost Principles for Nonprofit 
Organizations (OMB CircularA-122) is applicable to the Federal 
assistance awards issued to the Councils.
    (2) The purpose of the cost principles at 2 CFR part 230 is to 
define what costs can be paid on Federal awards issued to non-profit 
organizations. The regulation establishes both general principles and 
detailed items of costs.
    (3) Under 2 CFR part 230, costs for certain lobbying activities are 
unallowable as charges to Federal awards. These activities would 
include any attempts to influence:
     (i) The introduction of Federal or state legislation;
    (ii) The enactment or modification of any pending legislation by 
preparing, distributing, or using publicity or propaganda, or by urging 
members of the general public to contribute to or to participate in any 
demonstration, march, rally, fundraising drive, lobbying campaign, or 
letter writing or telephone campaign.
    (4) Generally, costs associated with providing a technical and 
factual presentation directly related to the performance of a grant, 
through hearing testimony, statements, or letters to Congress or a 
state legislature are allowable if made in response to a documented 
request.
    (5) Costs associated with lobbying to influence state legislation 
in order to reduce the cost or to avoid material impairment of the 
organization's authority to perform the grant are also allowable.
    17. In Sec.  600.235:
    a. In paragraph (a), add paragraph (3) to the definition of 
``Affected individual'', remove the definition of ``Financial interest 
in harvesting, processing, or marketing'', and add definitions for 
``Financial Interest Form'' and ``Financial interest in harvesting, 
processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing'' in alphabetical order.
    b. Revise paragraph (b).
    c. Revise paragraph (c)(2) and add paragraph (c)(4).
    d. Revise paragraphs (h) and (i).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:

[[Page 13393]]

Sec.  600.235  Financial disclosure.

    (a) * * *
    Affected individual * * *
    (3) A member of an SSC shall be treated as an affected individual 
for the purposes of paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(5) through (b)(7), and (i) 
of this section.
* * * * *
    Financial Interest Form means NOAA Form 88-195, ``STATEMENT OF 
FINANCIAL INTERESTS For Use By Voting Members of, and Nominees to, the 
Regional Fishery Management Councils, and Members of the Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC)'' or such other form as the Secretary may 
prescribe.
    Financial interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, 
or marketing (1) includes:
    (i) Stock, equity, or other ownership interests in, or employment 
with, any company, business, fishing vessel, or other entity engaging 
in any harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing 
activity in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council 
concerned;
    (ii) Stock, equity, or other ownership interests in, or employment 
with, any company or other entity that provides equipment or other 
services essential to harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or 
marketing activities in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the 
Council concerned, such as a chandler or a dock operation;
    (iii) Employment with, or service as an officer, director, or 
trustee of, an association whose members include companies, vessels, or 
other entities engaged in any harvesting, processing, lobbying, 
advocacy, or marketing activity in any fishery under the jurisdiction 
of the Council concerned; and
    (iv) Employment with an entity providing consulting, legal, or 
representational services to any entity engaging in, or providing 
equipment or services essential to harvesting, processing, lobbying, 
advocacy, or marketing activities in any fishery under the jurisdiction 
of the Council concerned, or to any association whose members include 
entities engaged in the activities described in paragraphs (1)(i) and 
(ii) of this definition;
    (2) Does not include stock, equity, or other ownership interests 
in, or employment with, an entity engaging in scientific fisheries 
research in any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Council 
concerned, unless it is covered under paragraph (1) of this definition. 
A financial interest in such entities is covered by 18 U.S.C. 208, the 
Federal conflict-of-interest statute.
    (b) Reporting. (1) The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the disclosure 
by each affected individual of any financial interest in harvesting, 
processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity, and of any such 
financial interest of the affected individual's spouse, minor child, 
partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that 
individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or 
employee. The information required to be reported must be disclosed on 
the Financial Interest Form (as defined in paragraph (a) of this 
section), or such other form as the Secretary may prescribe.
    (2) The Financial Interest Form must be filed by each nominee for 
Secretarial appointment to the Council with the Assistant Administrator 
by April 15 or, if nominated after March 15, one month after nomination 
by the Governor. A seated voting member appointed by the Secretary must 
file a Financial Interest Form with the Executive Director of the 
appropriate Council within 45 days of taking office; must file an 
update of his or her statement with the Executive Director of the 
appropriate Council within 30 days of the time any such financial 
interest is acquired or substantially changed by the affected 
individual or the affected individual's spouse, minor child, partner, 
or any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual 
is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee; and 
must update his or her form annually and file that update with the 
Executive Director of the appropriate Council by February 1 of each 
year.
    (3) The Executive Director must, in a timely manner, provide copies 
of and updates to the Financial Interest Forms of appointed Council 
members to the NMFS Regional Administrator, the Regional Attorney who 
advises the Council, the Department of Commerce Assistant General 
Counsel for Administration, and the NMFS Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries. These completed Financial Interest Forms shall be kept on 
file in the office of the NMFS Regional Administrator and at the 
Council offices, and shall be made available for public inspection at 
such offices during normal office hours. In addition, the forms shall 
be made available at each Council meeting or hearing and shall be 
posted for download from the internet on the Council's website.
    (4) Councils must retain the Financial Interest Form for a Council 
member for at least 5 years after the expiration of that individual's 
last term.
    (5) An individual being considered for appointment to an SSC must 
file the Financial Interest Form with the Regional Administrator for 
the geographic area concerned within 45 days prior to appointment. A 
member of the SSC must file an update of his or her statement with the 
Regional Administrator for the geographic area concerned within 30 days 
of the time any such financial interest is acquired or substantially 
changed by the SSC member or the SSC member's spouse, minor child, 
partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which that 
individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or 
employee; and must update his or her form annually and file that update 
with the Regional Administrator by February 1 of each year.
    (6) An individual who serves as an SSC member to more than one 
Council shall file Financial Interest Forms with each Regional 
Administrator for the geographic areas concerned.
    (7) The Regional Administrator shall maintain on file the Financial 
Interest Forms of all SSC members for at least five years after the 
expiration of that individual's term on the SSC. Such Forms are not 
subject to sections 302(j)(5)(B) and (C) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    (c) * * *
    (2) As used in this section, a Council decision will be considered 
to have a ``significant and predictable effect on a financial 
interest'' if there is a close causal link between the decision and an 
expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the financial 
interest in harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing of 
any affected individual or the affected individual's spouse, minor 
child, partner, or any organization (other than the Council) in which 
that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, 
or employee, relative to the financial interests of other participants 
in the same gear type or sector of the fishery. The relative financial 
interests of the affected individual and other participants will be 
determined with reference to the most recent fishing year for which 
information is available. However, for fisheries in which IFQs are 
assigned, the percentage of IFQs assigned to the affected individual 
will be dispositive.
* * * * *
    (4) A member of an SSC is not subject to the restrictions on voting 
under this section.
    * * * * *
    (h) The provisions of 18 U.S.C. 208 regarding conflicts of interest 
do not

[[Page 13394]]

apply to an affected individual who is a voting member of a Council 
appointed by the Secretary, as described under section 302(j)(1)(A)(ii) 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and who is in compliance with the 
requirements of this section for filing a financial disclosure report. 
The provisions of 18 U.S.C. 208 do not apply to a member of an SSC, 
unless that individual is an officer or employee of the United States 
or is otherwise covered by the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 208.
    (i) It is unlawful for an affected individual to knowingly and 
willfully fail to disclose, or to falsely disclose, any financial 
interest as required by this section, or to knowingly vote on a Council 
decision in violation of this section. In addition to the penalties 
applicable under Sec.  600.735, a violation of this provision may 
result in removal of the affected individual from Council or SSC 
membership.
    18. In Sec.  600.240, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  600.240  Security assurances.

    (a) DOC Office of Security will issue security assurances to 
Council nominees and members following completion of acceptable 
background checks. Security assurances will be valid for 5 years from 
the date of issuance. A security assurance will not entitle the member 
to access classified data. In instances in which Council members may 
need to discuss, at closed meetings, materials classified for national 
security purposes, the agency or individual (e.g., Department of State, 
U.S. Coast Guard) providing such classified information will be 
responsible for ensuring that Council members and other attendees have 
the appropriate security clearances.
* * * * *
    19. Section 600.250 is added to subpart C to read as follows:


Sec.  600.250  Council member training.

    (a) The Secretary shall provide a training course covering a 
variety of topics relevant to matters before the Councils and shall 
make the training course available to all Council members and staff and 
staff from NMFS regional offices and science centers. To the extent 
resources allow, the Secretary will make the training available to 
Council committee and advisory panel members.
    (b) Council members appointed after January 12, 2007, shall, within 
one year of appointment, complete the training course developed by the 
Secretary. Any Council member who completed such a training course 
within 24 months of January 12, 2007, is considered to have met the 
training requirement of this section.
[FR Doc. E9-6896 Filed 3-26-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S