Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 29, 15911-15912 [E9-7855]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 8, 2009 / Proposed Rules Issued at Washington DC this 25th day of March 2009. Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation. For reasons discussed in the preamble, the Department of Transportation proposes to amend Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 26, as follows: 1. The authority citation for 49 CFR part 26 is amended to read as follows: Authority: 23 U.S.C. 324; 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.; 49 U.S.C. 1615, 47107, 47113, 47123; Public Law 105–59, sec. 1101(b). 2. Revise § 26.45(f)(1) to read as follows: § 26.45 goals? How do recipients set overall * * * * * (f)(1) If you set overall goals on a fiscal year basis, you must submit them to the applicable DOT operating administration by August 1 at three-year intervals, based on a schedule established by the FAA, FTA, or FHWA, as applicable, and posted on that agency’s Web site. * * * * * [FR Doc. E9–7904 Filed 4–7–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–9X–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648–AX39 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 29 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of Availability of Amendment 29 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico; request for comments. SUMMARY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 29 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 29 proposes actions to establish an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for grouper and tilefish species, establish design elements of the program, allow permit stacking, and VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:21 Apr 07, 2009 Jkt 217001 establish dual classifications to the shallow water and deepwater management units for speckled hind and warsaw grouper. The measures contained in the subject amendment are intended to reduce effort in the Gulf of Mexico grouper and tilefish fisheries. DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on June 8, 2009. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment, identified by ‘‘0648– AX39’’, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. • Mail: Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, enter ‘‘NOAANMFS–2008–0223’’ in the keyword search, then check the box labeled ‘‘Select to find documents accepting comments or submissions’’, then select ‘‘Send a Comment or Submission.’’ 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. Copies of Amendment 29 may be obtained from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2203 North Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, FL 33607; telephone 813–348–1630; fax 813–348–1711; e-mail gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org; or may be downloaded from the Council’s website at http://www.gulfcouncil.org/. Amendment 29 includes an Environmental Impact Statement, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a Social Impact Assessment/Fishery Impact Statement. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone: 727–824– 5305; fax: 727–824–5308; e-mail: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 15911 is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Background Current regulatory measures used to manage the commercial fisheries for the grouper/tilefish complex in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) include a license limitation system, quotas, trip limits, minimum size limits, area/gear restrictions, and seasonal closures. Nonetheless, the commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries have become overcapitalized, which has caused increasingly restrictive commercial regulations. Under the current management structure, the commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries are expected to continue to have higher than necessary levels of capital investment, increased operating costs, increased likelihood of shortened seasons, reduced safety at-sea, wide fluctuations in grouper supply, and depressed ex-vessel prices. The Council chose a multi-species IFQ program for grouper and tilefish species in the Gulf EEZ as the preferred alternative for effort management. The Magnuson-Stevens Act stipulates the Council may not submit, and the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) may not approve, an IFQ program that has not first been approved by a majority of eligible voters in a referendum. NMFS conducted a referendum in December 2008, with more than 80 percent of the respondents voting in favor of the IFQ program. Amendment 29 contains many design elements of the IFQ program, as well as major requirements for limited access privilege programs listed in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Initial IFQ share distribution, and transfer of shares and allocation during the first 5 years, would be restricted to commercial reef fish permit holders. Initially, shares would be distributed proportionately among eligible participants based on landings during 1999–2004, with an allowance for dropping 1 year. The Regional Administrator would establish a formal appeals process and reserve 3 percent of the total available IFQ shares during the first year of the program for use in resolving disputes. If NMFS implemented commercial quota adjustments or reallocations, IFQ allocation would be redistributed proportionally among shareholders. Five species-specific share types would be established for red grouper, gag, other shallow water groupers, E:\FR\FM\08APP1.SGM 08APP1 15912 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 8, 2009 / Proposed Rules rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 deepwater groupers, and tilefishes. In addition, 4 percent of red grouper allocation and 8 percent of gag grouper allocation for each participant would be converted into multi-use allocation valid for harvesting red or gag grouper, with restrictions. Each share type would have a separate share cap equal to the maximum share of that type assigned to an IFQ participant during initial distribution. A cap on total annual allocation equivalent to the share caps would also be established. All dealer and shareholder operations would be conducted online. Up to 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of a transaction could be charged as cost recovery fees. IFQ share or allocation holders would be responsible for these fees and IFQ dealers would be responsible for fee collection and submission on a quarterly basis. Fishermen would be allowed to select landing sites for IFQ programs, but would require approval by NMFS Office of Law Enforcement. VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:21 Apr 07, 2009 Jkt 217001 Amendment 29 also contains actions to allow permit consolidation and to create dual classification for speckled hind and warsaw grouper. Permit consolidation would allow the owner of multiple Gulf of Mexico reef fish commercial vessel permits to consolidate some or all of his/her permits into one, which could contribute to a faster reduction in the number of permits and ease permit renewal requirements. Dual classification of speckled hind and warsaw grouper would reduce bycatch and allow more flexibility in the IFQ program because these species are caught in both shallow and deep water. The Council has submitted Amendment 29 for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 29 has been received from the Council. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the proposed rule to determine whether it is PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 consistent with the FMP, the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment. Comments received by June 8, 2009, whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment. Comments received after that date will not be considered by NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed in the final rule. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: April 1, 2009. Kristen C. Koch, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E9–7855 Filed 4–7–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\08APP1.SGM 08APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 66 (Wednesday, April 8, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 15911-15912]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-7855]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

RIN 0648-AX39


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 29

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

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Amendment 29 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico; request 
for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has 
submitted Amendment 29 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish 
Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and 
implementation by NMFS. Amendment 29 proposes actions to establish an 
individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for grouper and tilefish 
species, establish design elements of the program, allow permit 
stacking, and establish dual classifications to the shallow water and 
deepwater management units for speckled hind and warsaw grouper. The 
measures contained in the subject amendment are intended to reduce 
effort in the Gulf of Mexico grouper and tilefish fisheries.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on 
June 8, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment, identified by 
``0648-AX39'', by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov.
     Mail: Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 
13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2008-0223'' in the keyword 
search, then check the box labeled ``Select to find documents accepting 
comments or submissions'', then select ``Send a Comment or 
Submission.'' 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.
    Copies of Amendment 29 may be obtained from the Gulf of Mexico 
Fishery Management Council, 2203 North Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, 
FL 33607; telephone 813-348-1630; fax 813-348-1711; e-mail 
gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org; or may be downloaded from the Council's 
website at http://www.gulfcouncil.org/. Amendment 29 includes an 
Environmental Impact Statement, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a Social Impact Assessment/
Fishery Impact Statement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone: 727-824-
5305; fax: 727-824-5308; e-mail: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico 
(Gulf) is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council 
and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    Current regulatory measures used to manage the commercial fisheries 
for the grouper/tilefish complex in the Gulf exclusive economic zone 
(EEZ) include a license limitation system, quotas, trip limits, minimum 
size limits, area/gear restrictions, and seasonal closures. 
Nonetheless, the commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries have become 
overcapitalized, which has caused increasingly restrictive commercial 
regulations. Under the current management structure, the commercial 
grouper and tilefish fisheries are expected to continue to have higher 
than necessary levels of capital investment, increased operating costs, 
increased likelihood of shortened seasons, reduced safety at-sea, wide 
fluctuations in grouper supply, and depressed ex-vessel prices.
    The Council chose a multi-species IFQ program for grouper and 
tilefish species in the Gulf EEZ as the preferred alternative for 
effort management. The Magnuson-Stevens Act stipulates the Council may 
not submit, and the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) may not approve, 
an IFQ program that has not first been approved by a majority of 
eligible voters in a referendum. NMFS conducted a referendum in 
December 2008, with more than 80 percent of the respondents voting in 
favor of the IFQ program.
    Amendment 29 contains many design elements of the IFQ program, as 
well as major requirements for limited access privilege programs listed 
in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Initial IFQ share distribution, and 
transfer of shares and allocation during the first 5 years, would be 
restricted to commercial reef fish permit holders. Initially, shares 
would be distributed proportionately among eligible participants based 
on landings during 1999-2004, with an allowance for dropping 1 year. 
The Regional Administrator would establish a formal appeals process and 
reserve 3 percent of the total available IFQ shares during the first 
year of the program for use in resolving disputes. If NMFS implemented 
commercial quota adjustments or reallocations, IFQ allocation would be 
redistributed proportionally among shareholders.
    Five species-specific share types would be established for red 
grouper, gag, other shallow water groupers,

[[Page 15912]]

deepwater groupers, and tilefishes. In addition, 4 percent of red 
grouper allocation and 8 percent of gag grouper allocation for each 
participant would be converted into multi-use allocation valid for 
harvesting red or gag grouper, with restrictions. Each share type would 
have a separate share cap equal to the maximum share of that type 
assigned to an IFQ participant during initial distribution. A cap on 
total annual allocation equivalent to the share caps would also be 
established.
    All dealer and shareholder operations would be conducted online. Up 
to 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of a transaction could be charged 
as cost recovery fees. IFQ share or allocation holders would be 
responsible for these fees and IFQ dealers would be responsible for fee 
collection and submission on a quarterly basis. Fishermen would be 
allowed to select landing sites for IFQ programs, but would require 
approval by NMFS Office of Law Enforcement.
    Amendment 29 also contains actions to allow permit consolidation 
and to create dual classification for speckled hind and warsaw grouper. 
Permit consolidation would allow the owner of multiple Gulf of Mexico 
reef fish commercial vessel permits to consolidate some or all of his/
her permits into one, which could contribute to a faster reduction in 
the number of permits and ease permit renewal requirements. Dual 
classification of speckled hind and warsaw grouper would reduce bycatch 
and allow more flexibility in the IFQ program because these species are 
caught in both shallow and deep water.
    The Council has submitted Amendment 29 for Secretarial review, 
approval, and implementation. A proposed rule that would implement 
measures outlined in Amendment 29 has been received from the Council. 
In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the 
proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination 
is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal 
Register for public review and comment.
    Comments received by June 8, 2009, whether specifically directed to 
the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its 
decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment. 
Comments received after that date will not be considered by NMFS in 
this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the amendment or the 
proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed 
in the final rule.

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

    Dated: April 1, 2009.
Kristen C. Koch,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E9-7855 Filed 4-7-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S