Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Specifications and Management Measures, 70187-70192 [2010-29002]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules concerning this proposed rule. We encourage the public’s involvement in this matter and therefore have scheduled a public hearing to be held in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. This public hearing will be held on January 20, 2011, at the McCoy Pavilion at the Ala Moana Park, 1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. NMFS will consider requests for additional public hearings that are made in writing and received (see ADDRESSES) by January 31, 2011. If additional public hearings are requested and will be held, details regarding location(s), date(s), and time(s) will be published in a forthcoming Federal Register notice. believed to occur, and those states will be invited to comment on this proposal. We have conferred with the state of Hawaii in the course of assessing the status of the Hawaiian insular false killer DPS, and considered, among other things, Federal, state, and local conservation measures. As we proceed, we intend to continue engaging in informal and formal contacts with the state, and other affected local or regional entities, giving careful consideration to all written and oral comments received. References A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Dated: November 10, 2010. Eric C. Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. Classification National Environmental Policy Act The 1982 amendments to the ESA, in section 4(b)(1)(A), restrict the information that may be considered when assessing species for listing. Based on this limitation of criteria for a listing decision and the opinion in Pacific Legal Foundation v. Andrus, 657 F. 2d 829 (6th Cir. 1981), we have concluded that ESA listing actions are not subject to the environmental assessment requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (See NOAA Administrative Order 216–6). erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the ESA, economic impacts cannot be considered when assessing the status of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. In addition, this proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Executive Order 13132, Federalism In accordance with E.O. 13132, we determined that this proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects and that a Federalism assessment is not required. In keeping with the intent of the Administration and Congress to provide continuing and meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual state and Federal interest, this proposed rule will be given to the relevant state agencies in each state in which the species is VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 224 Endangered marine and anadromous species. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 224 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 224—ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531–1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. § 224.101 [Amended] 2. In § 224.101, amend paragraph (b) by adding, ‘‘False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens), Hawaiian insular distinct population segment’’ in alphabetical order. [FR Doc. 2010–28843 Filed 11–16–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 100804323–0544–01] RIN 0648–BA03 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Specifications and Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule, request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2011 specifications and management measures for Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish (MSB). This action proposes to modify the measure that SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 70187 transfers Loligo squid (Loligo) quota underages from Trimester I to Trimesters II and III by limiting the Trimester II quota increase to no more than 50 percent. This action also proposes to revise the 72-hr pre-trip observer notification requirement for the Loligo fishery to accommodate vessels departing for multiple day trips in a week. These proposed specifications and management measures promote the utilization and conservation of the MSB resource. DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern standard time, on December 17, 2010. ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents used by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council), including the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are available from: Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Room 2115, Federal Building, 300 South New Street, Dover, DE 19904–6790. The EA/ RIR/IRFA is accessible via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov. You may submit comments, identified by 0648–BA03, by any one of the following methods: Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal http:// www.regulations.gov; Fax: (978) 281–9135, Attn: Aja PetersMason; Mail to NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Dr, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on 2011 MSB Specifications.’’ Instructions: No comments will be posted for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. 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). You may submit attachments to electronic comments 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 E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 70188 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules rule may be submitted to NMFS, Northeast Regional Office and by e-mail to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202–395–7285. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aja Peters-Mason, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9195, fax 978–281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Regulations implementing the MSB Fishery Management Plan (FMP) appear at 50 CFR part 648, subpart B. Regulations governing foreign fishing appear at 50 CFR part 600, subpart F. The regulations at §§ 648.21 and 600.516(c) require that NMFS, based on the maximum optimum yield (Max OY) of each fishery as established by the regulations, annually publish a proposed rule specifying the amounts of the initial optimum yield (IOY), allowable biological catch (ABC), domestic annual harvest (DAH), and domestic annual processing (DAP), as well as, where applicable, the amounts for total allowable level of foreign fishing (TALFF) and joint venture processing (JVP) for the affected species managed under the FMP. In addition, these regulations allow specifications to be specified for up to 3 years, subject to annual review. The regulations at § 648.21 also specify that IOY for Illex and Loligo squid is equal to the combination of research quota (RQ) and DAH, with no TALFF specified for squid. For butterfish, the regulations specify that a butterfish bycatch TALFF will be specified only if TALFF is specified for mackerel. At its June 8–10, 2010, meeting in New York, NY, the Council recommended MSB specifications for the 2011 fishing year. The Council considered the recommendations made by its Monitoring Committee and Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The SSC recommends ABC. SSC advice accounts for scientific uncertainty regarding stock status and biological reference points in recommending the ABC, and the Council relies on that ABC recommendation to set other specifications. In addition to 2011 specifications for each of the MSB species, the Council recommended a modification in the provision that transfers Trimester I quota underages to Trimesters II and III for the Loligo fishery. The Council submitted these recommendations, along with the required analyses, for agency review on July 19, 2010, with final submission on September 23, 2010. Research Quota The Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program allows research projects to be funded through the sale of fish that has been set aside from the total annual quota. The RQ may vary between 0 and 3 percent of the overall quota for each species. The Council has recommended that 3 percent of the 2011 Illex squid (Illex), butterfish, and Atlantic mackerel (mackerel) IOY be set aside to fund projects selected under the 2011 MidAtlantic RSA Program. For Loligo, only 330 mt (1.65 percent) is proposed to be available for RSA, to reduce impacts on butterfish from RSA Loligo fishing. NMFS solicited research proposals under the 2011 Mid-Atlantic RSA Program through the Federal Register (75 FR 3092, January 19, 2010). The deadline for submission was March 22, 2010. The project selection and award process for the 2011 Mid-Atlantic RSA Program has not concluded and, therefore, the research quota awards are not known at this time. When the selection process has been concluded, projects requesting RQ will be forwarded to the NOAA Grants Office for award. If any portion of the RQ is not awarded, NMFS will return any unawarded RQ to the commercial fishery either through the final 2011 MSB specification rulemaking process or through the publication of a separate notice in the Federal Register notifying the public of a quota adjustment. Vessels harvesting RQ in support of approved research projects would be issued exempted fishing permits (EFP) authorizing them to exceed Federal possession limits and to fish during Federal quota closures. The MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that interested parties be provided an opportunity to comment on all proposed EFPs. These exemptions are necessary to allow project investigators to recover research expenses, as well as adequately compensate fishing industry participants harvesting RQ. Vessels harvesting RQ would operate within all other regulations that govern the commercial fishery, unless otherwise exempted through a separate EFP. 2011 Proposed Specifications and Management Measures TABLE 1—PROPOSED SPECIFICATIONS, IN METRIC TONS (MT), FOR ATLANTIC MACKEREL, SQUID, AND BUTTERFISH FOR 2011 FISHING YEAR Specifications Loligo Max OY .................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................... IOY ........................................................................................................................................... DAH .......................................................................................................................................... DAP .......................................................................................................................................... JVP ........................................................................................................................................... TALFF ...................................................................................................................................... 1 Includes Unknown 24,000 23,328 23,328 23,328 N/A N/A Mackerel Unknown 47,395 46,779 1 46,779 31,779 0 0 Butterfish Unknown 1,500 500 500 500 0 0 a 15,000-mt catch of Atlantic mackerel by the recreational fishery. Atlantic Mackerel erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 32,000 24,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 N/A N/A Illex The status of the mackerel stock was assessed by the Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC) in March 2010. Though the 2010 TRAC Status Report indicated reduced productivity in the stock and a lack of older fish in both the survey and catch data, the status of the mackerel stock is unknown, because biomass VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 reference points could not be determined. According to the FMP, mackerel ABC must be calculated using the formula U.S. ABC = T¥C, where C is the estimated catch of mackerel in Canadian waters for the upcoming fishing year, and T is the yield associated with a fishing mortality rate that is equal to the target fishing mortality rate (F). Due to uncertainty in PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the assessment, the TRAC recommended that total annual catches not exceed the average total landings (80,000 mt) over the last 3 years (2006– 2008) until new information is available. Since there is no calculation of yield at target F available from the most recent assessment, the Council’s SSC recommended specifying the stockwide ABC for 2011 at 80,000 mt, E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 70189 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules consistent with the TRAC recommendation. Expected Canadian catch (32,605 mt) was derived by examining the relationship between U.S. landings in one year for the years 1994–2008 and the Canadian landings in the next year (1995–2009); the two landings series were found to be strongly correlated (correlation coefficient = 0.86). During this time series, Canadian landings in one year were on average 1.71 times higher than U.S. landings the previous year; the relationship can thus be used as a scaling factor for determining expected Canadian catch. Analysis revealed that multiplying U.S. catch in one year by 3.218 (95th percentile of scaling factors 1994–2009) would have underestimated Canadian catch in the following year in only 1 out of 15 of those ‘‘year pairs.’’ The 95th percentile scaling factor was applied to 2010 U.S. mackerel catch (10,000 mt prior to July 1) to derive expected Canadian catch for 2011 (32,180 mt); this was increased to 32,605 mt to account for Canadian mackerel discards. Subtracting the expected 2011 Canadian catch of 32,605 mt from the stock-wide ABC of 80,000 mt yields a proposed 2011 U.S. ABC of 47,395 mt. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides that the specification of TALFF, if any, shall be that portion of the optimum yield (OY) of a fishery that will not be harvested by vessels of the United States. TALFF would allow foreign vessels to harvest U.S. fish and sell their product on the world market, in direct competition with the U.S. industry efforts to expand exports. While a surplus existed between ABC and DAH for many years, that surplus has disappeared due to downward adjustments of the specifications in recent years. Based on analysis and a review of the state of the world mackerel market and possible increases in U.S. production levels, the Council concluded that specifying an IOY resulting in zero TALFF will yield positive social and economic benefits to both U.S. harvesters and processors, and to the Nation. For these reasons, consistent with the Council’s recommendation, NMFS proposes to specify IOY at a level that can be fully harvested by the domestic fleet, thereby precluding the specification of a TALFF, in order to support the U.S. mackerel industry. NMFS concurs that it is reasonable to assume that in 2011 the commercial fishery has the ability to harvest 46,779 mt of mackerel. The 2010 TRAC assessment also estimated U.S. mackerel discards from 1989–2008. For the most recent 5 years for which complete data are available VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 (2004–2008), total discards accounted for 1.3 percent of total catch. In order to account for discards, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, specifying the mackerel IOY and DAH at 46,779 m (ABC minus 1.3 percent for discards). The DAH includes commercial harvest plus the 15,000 mt available for the recreational fishery. NMFS proposes to maintain JVP at zero (the most recent allocation was 5,000 mt of JVP in 2004), consistent with the Council’s recommendation. In the past, the Council recommended a JVP greater than zero because it believed U.S. processors lacked the ability to process the total amount of mackerel that U.S. harvesters could land. However, for the past 7 years, the Council has recommended zero JVP because U.S. shoreside processing capacity for mackerel has expanded. The Council concluded that processing capacity was no longer a limiting factor relative to domestic production of mackerel, even at the higher DAP of 100,000 mt; this is even more true with the proposed DAP of 31,779 mt. Atlantic Squids Loligo Because Loligo is a sub-annual species (i.e., has a lifespan of less than 1 year), the stock is solely dependent on sufficient recruitment year to year to prevent stock collapse. Based on advice provided in November 2001 by the most recent Loligo stock assessment review committee meeting (SARC 34), the FMP uses fishing mortality rate (F) proxies that are fixed values based on average fishing mortality rates achieved during a time period when the stock biomass was fairly resilient (1987–2000). The use of a proxy is necessary because it is currently not possible to accurately predict Loligo stock biomass, because recruitment, which occurs throughout the year, is highly variable interannually and influenced by changing environmental conditions. To determine if overfishing is occurring, the FThreshold proxy is the 75th percentile of fishing mortality rates during 1987–2000. The FTarget proxy used to determine OY is the average F during the same period. Using these proxies, the SSC recommended a Loligo Max OY of 32,000 mt, and recommended that 75 percent of that value, 24,000 mt, be used for an ABC. SARC 34 also recommended that the Council limit total landings and discards to 20,000 mt. Therefore, the Council proposed that IOY, DAH, and DAP be set at 20,000 mt. NMFS concurs with the Council’s recommendation; therefore, this action proposes a 2011 Loligo Max OY of PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 32,000 mt, an ABC of 24,000 mt, and an IOY, DAH, and DAP of 20,000 mt. The FMP does not authorize the specification of JVP and TALFF for the Loligo fishery because of the domestic industry’s capacity to harvest and process the OY for this fishery. Distribution of the Loligo DAH The proposed 2011 Loligo DAH would be allocated into trimesters, according to percentages specified in the FMP, as follows: TABLE 2—PROPOSED TRIMESTER ALLOCATION OF LOLIGO QUOTA IN 2011 Trimester Percent Metric tons I (Jan–Apr) ................ II (May–Aug) ............. III (Sep–Dec) ............ 43 17 40 8,600 3,400 8,000 Total ................... 100 20,000 This action proposes to adjust how Trimester I underages would be distributed among the remaining Trimesters. Currently, Trimester I Loligo underages greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota are distributed evenly between Trimesters II and III. The Council expressed concern that the butterfish mortality cap on the Loligo fishery, established in 2010 by MSB Amendment 10 (75 FR 11441, March 11, 2010), could result in a substantial Trimester I underage if the Loligo fishery is closed because the Trimester I butterfish catch cap is reached. Under current management, this could result in a large roll-over of Loligo quota to Trimester II, when the butterfish catch cap cannot close the fishery. To avoid this situation, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, that the roll-over of quota from Trimester I to Trimester II should be no more than 50 percent of the Trimester II allocation. This proposed adjustment will continue to prevent an underharvest of the annual quota by distributing the quota across the remaining trimesters, while reducing management uncertainty related to the implementation of the butterfish mortality cap for the Loligo fishery. Adjustment to the Loligo Pre-trip Trip Notification Requirement The rule proposes to change the 72hr pre-trip observer notification requirement established through Amendment 10 for vessels issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit. Starting January 1, 2011, such vessels intending to land more than 2,500 lb of Loligo will be required to E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 70190 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules notify the NMFS Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) at least 72 hr prior to departing on a trip. A large number of the Loligo vessels embark on multiple trips that last less than 24 hr during a single week. In order to reduce the burden of this requirement for these vessels, this action proposes to streamline the requirement such that vessels must notify NEFOP at least 72 hr, but not more than 10 days before embarking on a Loligo trip. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Illex Squid The Illex stock was most recently assessed at SARC 42 in late 2005. While it was not possible to evaluate current stock status because there are no reliable current estimates of stock biomass or F, qualitative analyses determined that overfishing had not likely been occurring. The SSC recommended an ABC of 24,000 mt based on observations that catches in this range, and up to 26,000 mt, have not caused any apparent harm to the stock. The Council recommended that the IOY be reduced to 23,328 mt to account for discards (2.8 percent of catch) based on the discard estimate ratios from the last assessment. Consistent with the Council’s recommendation, NMFS proposes to specify the Illex ABC as 24,000 mt, and to specify IOY, DAH, and DAP as 23,328 mt. The FMP does not authorize the specification of JVP and TALFF for the Illex fishery because of the domestic fishing industry’s capacity to harvest and to process the IOY from this fishery. Butterfish The status of the butterfish stock was most recently assessed at SARC 49 in February 2010. The estimates of butterfish fishing mortality and total biomass resulting from SARC 49 are highly uncertain, and the final assessment report states that it would be inappropriate to compare the previous status determination criteria from SARC 38 in 2004 with the current assessment estimates of spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality, because measures of population abundance in the current assessment are scaled much higher than those in the previous assessment. The current status of the butterfish stock is unknown, because biomass reference points could not be determined in the SARC 49 assessment. Though the butterfish population appears to be declining over time, fishing mortality does not seem to be the major cause. Butterfish have a high natural mortality rate, and the current estimated F (F = 0.02) is well below all candidate overfishing threshold reference points. The assessment report noted that predation is likely an VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 important component of the butterfish natural mortality rate (currently assumed to be 0.8), but also noted that estimates of consumption of butterfish by predators appear to be very low. In short, the underlying causes for population decline are unknown. Given the uncertainty in the assessment, the SSC recommended a status quo ABC of 1,500 mt. Assuming that butterfish discards equal twice the level of landings, the amount of butterfish discards associated with 500 mt of landings is approximately 1,000 mt. Therefore, the proposed specifications would set the ABC at 1,500 mt, and the IOY, DAH, and DAP at 500 mt. Additionally, consistent with MSB regulations, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, zero TALFF for butterfish in 2010 because zero TALFF is proposed for mackerel. Amendment 10 created a butterfish mortality cap for the Loligo fishery which will go into effect on January 1, 2011. If the butterfish mortality cap is harvested during Trimester I (January– April) or Trimester III (September– December), the directed Loligo fishery will close for the remainder of that trimester. The mortality cap is equal to 75 percent of the butterfish ABC (1,125 mt). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, other provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Council prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available from the Council or NMFS (see ADDRESSES) or via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov. Statement of Objective and Need This action proposes 2011 specifications and management measures for mackerel, squid, and butterfish, proposes to modify accounting procedures for underages of Trimester I quotas in the Loligo fishery, and proposes to adjust the 72-hr pre-trip observer notification requirement for Loligo vessels. A complete description PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 of the reasons why this action is being considered, and the objectives of and legal basis for this action, are contained in the preamble to this proposed rule and are not repeated here. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Will Apply Based on permit data for 2010, the numbers of potential fishing vessels in the 2011 fisheries are as follows: 360 Loligo/butterfish moratorium permits, 76 Illex moratorium permits, 2,156 mackerel permits, 1,844 incidental squid/butterfish permits, and 1,844 MSB party/charter permits. There are no large entities participating in this fishery, as defined in section 601 of the RFA. Therefore, there are no disproportionate economic impacts on small entities. Many vessels participate in more than one of these fisheries; therefore, permit numbers are not additive. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This proposed rule contains a change to an information collection previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0648–0601: Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Amendment 10 Data Collection. This action proposes to require that vessels intending to embark on Loligo trips notify NEFOP at least 72 hr, but no more than 10 days before their intended departure dates. The adjustment will also allow vessels to submit an email address for contact. A change request has been submitted to OMB for approval. This action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. Minimizing Significant Economic Impacts on Small Entities Proposed Actions The mackerel IOY proposed in this action (46,779 mt, with 15,000 mt allocated to recreational catch) represents a reduction from status quo (115,000 mt). Despite the reduction, the proposed IOY is above recent U.S. landings; mackerel landings for 2007– 2009 averaged 23,310 mt. Thus, the reduction does not pose a constraint to vessels relative to the landings in recent years. Accordingly, no reductions in revenues for the mackerel fishery are expected as a result of this proposed action. The Loligo IOY (20,000 mt) represents a slight increase from the status quo (19,000 mt). Loligo landings for 2007– 2009 averaged 11,019 mt. This provides E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules an opportunity to increase landings, though if recent trends continue, there may be no increase in landings despite the increase in the allocation. No reductions in revenues for the Loligo fishery are expected as a result of this proposed action. The Illex IOY (23,328 mt) proposed in this action represents a slight decrease compared to status quo (24,000 mt). Though annual Illex landings have been increasing over the past 3 years (9,002 mt for 2007, 15,900 mt for 2008, and 18,419 mt for 2009), the landings were lower than the level proposed. Thus, implementation of this proposed action should not result in a reduction in revenue or a constraint on expansion of the fishery in 2011. The butterfish IOY proposed in this action (500 mt) represents status quo, as compared to 2010, and represents only a minimal constraint to vessels relative to the landings in recent years. Due to market conditions, there has not been a directed butterfish fishery in recent years; therefore, recent landings have been low. Given the lack of a directed butterfish fishery and low butterfish landings, the proposed action is not expected to reduce revenues in this fishery more than minimally. As discussed in the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for MSB Amendment 10, the butterfish mortality cap has a potential for economic impact on fishery participants. The Loligo fishery will close during Trimesters I and III, if the butterfish mortality cap is reached. If the Loligo fishery is closed in response to butterfish catch before the entire Loligo quota is harvested, then a loss in revenue is possible. The potential for Loligo revenue loss is dependent upon the size of the butterfish mortality cap, which is based on the level of butterfish abundance. As the butterfish stock rebuilds, the mortality cap will increase, and the potential for lost Loligo revenue should decrease. When the butterfish stock rebuilds, a directed butterfish fishery could resume, provided discards are kept low, and would have economic benefits for fishery participants. The accounting methods for Loligo trimester underages proposed in this action would distribute any substantial underage in Trimester I (greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota) between Trimester II and III, but would limit the transfer of quota such that the Trimester II quota could increase by 50 percent, at most. The proposed adjustment may provide some economic benefit to the fishery during Trimesters II and III because it will allow access to underutilized Trimester I quota later in the fishing year. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 The proposed change to the pre-trip observer notification requirement, which would allow vessels to notify at least 72 hr, but no more than 10 days prior to fishing trips, is an administrative measure to facilitate the placement of observers aboard the Loligo fleet, and is intended to reduce the burden of the notification requirement for vessels that depart on multiple trips in a short period by allowing for advance notification. The economic burden on fishery participants associated with this measure is expected to be minimal. Alternatives to the Proposed Rule The Council analysis evaluated two alternatives to the proposed action for mackerel. Based on recent harvest levels, neither of the ABC and IOY alternatives would represent a constraint on vessels in this fishery. The first alternative (status quo; least restrictive), which would have set the ABC at 156,000 mt, and IOY at 115,000 mt, was not selected because the ABC would have exceeded the SSC’s recommendation. As in the proposed action (intermediately restrictive), the second alternative (most restrictive) started from the SSC recommended stockwide ABC of 80,000 mt, but instead subtracted an estimated 41,556 mt for Canadian landings. This would have resulted in a U.S. ABC of 38,444 mt, and an IOY and DAH of 37,944 mt (U.S. ABC minus 1.3 percent for discards). For this alternative, expected Canadian catch (41,556 mt) was derived by examining the relationship between Canadian landings in one year (e.g., 1994) and the Canadian landings 2 years later (e.g., 1996); this analysis was chosen so that 2009 Canadian landings could be used to determine expected Canadian landings for 2011. The years examined included 1962–2009. Though the two landings series were found to be strongly correlated (correlation coefficient = 0.71), this method of deriving expected Canadian catch (and the resulting specifications alternative) was not selected over the proposed alternative. The landings series compared in the method used to derive 2011 Canadian catch in the proposed alternative (U.S. landings in one year and Canadian landings in the next year) were found to have a stronger correlation (correlation coefficient = 0.86) than the landings series compared in this alternative. Thus, using the Canadian catch derivation method in the proposed alternative provides a more reliable estimate of 2011 Canadian catch. PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 70191 There were two alternatives to the proposed action evaluated for Loligo. Both alternatives set the Max OY at 32,000 mt, the same level as the proposed action. The first alternative (status quo) would have set the ABC and IOY at 19,000 mt; this alternative was not chosen, because it was not consistent with the ABC recommended by the SSC. The second alternative (least restrictive) would have set the ABC at the level recommended by the SSC (24,000 mt), but would have set the IOY at 22,560 mt (ABC reduced by 6 percent to account for discards). This alternative was not adopted by the Council because two sources of uncertainty, namely the uncertainty regarding the discard estimate and the management uncertainty regarding the operation of the Loligo fishery in 2011, given the impending implementation of the butterfish mortality cap, warranted setting the IOY at the more precautionary level specified in the proposed action (intermediately restrictive). The alternatives also differed in how Trimester I underages and overages would be applied to the Loligo quotas in the following Trimesters. The first alternative (status quo) would maintain the current measure to distribute an underage in Trimester I greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota evenly between Trimesters II and III. The current measure was not considered to be sufficient to address management uncertainty related to the implementation of the butterfish mortality cap in 2011. Two non-selected alternatives were considered for Illex; both would have set the ABC at 24,000 mt. The first alternative would have set IOY, DAH, and DAP at 24,000 mt (status quo; least restrictive) rather than 23,328 mt specified in the proposed action (intermediately restrictive). This alternative was not selected because the higher specifications were inconsistent with the results of the most recent stock assessment. The second alternative (most restrictive) would have set IOY, DAH, and DAP at 22,656 mt (ABC reduced by 5.6 percent, based on double the discard ratio estimate). The Council considered this alternative unnecessarily restrictive. One non-selected alternative was considered for butterfish that would maintain the status quo, which only differs from the proposed alternative in that it would have set Max OY at 12,175 mt. The proposed alternative would remove the specification of Max OY, because it is no longer supported by available science. All other E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 70192 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 221 / Wednesday, November 17, 2010 / Proposed Rules specifications are identical to the status quo alternative. This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which was previously approved by OMB under OMB Control Number 0648–0601. The public reporting burden for the phone call to declare a Loligo fishing trip is estimated to average 2 min per call per trip. Public burden for the phone call to cancel a Loligo trip is estimated to average 1 min. Send comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by e-mail to OIRA_Submission@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 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: November 12, 2010. Eric C. Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.21, paragraph (f)(2) is revised to read as follows: § 648.21 Procedures for determining initial annual amounts. erowe on DSK5CLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 * * * * * (f) * * * (2) Any underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that are greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be reallocated to Trimesters II and III of the same year. The reallocation of quota from Trimester I to Trimester II is limited, such that the Trimester II quota may only be increased by 50 percent; the remaining portion of the underage will be reallocated to Trimester III. Any underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that are less than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be applied to Trimester III of the same year. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Nov 16, 2010 Jkt 223001 Any overages of commercial quota for Trimesters I and II will be subtracted from Trimester III of the same year. * * * * * 3. In § 648.22, paragraph (a)(2)(i) is revised to read as follows: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE § 648.22 [Docket No. 101029427–0427–01] Closure of the fishery. (a) * * * (2) * * * (i) If the Regional Administrator determines that the Trimester I closure threshold has been underharvested by 25 percent or more, then the amount of the underharvest shall be reallocated to Trimesters II and III, as specified at § 648.21(f)(2), through notice in the Federal Register. * * * * * 4. Section 648.26 as amended at 75 FR 11450, March 11, 2010, effective January 1, 2011, and is further amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (d) to read as follows: § 648.26 Observer requirements for the Loligo fishery. (a) A vessel issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit, as specified at § 648.4(a)(5)(i), must, for the purposes of observer deployment, have a representative provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer deployment, telephone number or email address for contact; and the date, time, port of departure, and approximate trip duration, at least 72 hr, but no more than 10 days prior to beginning any fishing trip, unless it complies with the possession restrictions in paragraph (c) of this section. * * * * * (d) If a vessel issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit, as specified at § 648.4(a)(5)(i), intends to possess, harvest, or land 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) or more of Loligo per trip or per calendar day, has a representative notify NMFS of an upcoming trip, is selected by NMFS to carry an observer, and then cancels that trip, then the representative is required to provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer deployment, and telephone number or email for contact, and the intended date, time, and port of departure for the cancelled trip prior to the planned departure time. In addition, if a trip selected for observer coverage is canceled, then that vessel is required to carry an observer, provided an observer is available, on its next trip. [FR Doc. 2010–29002 Filed 11–16–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 RIN 0648–XY82 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2011 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications; 2011 Research Set-Aside Projects National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes specifications for the 2011 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries and provides notice of three projects that may be requesting Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) as part of the MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Research Set-Aside (RSA) program. The implementing regulations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) require NMFS to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public comment. Furthermore, regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., require a notice to be published to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for EFPs. The intent of this action is to establish 2011 specifications for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries, and to provide notice of EFP requests, in accordance with the FMP and Magnuson-Stevens Act. DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 2, 2010. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648–XY82, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. • Fax: (978) 281–9135. • Mail and Hand Delivery: Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: ‘‘Comments on 2011 Summer Flounder, SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 221 (Wednesday, November 17, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70187-70192]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-29002]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 100804323-0544-01]
RIN 0648-BA03


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

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

ACTION: Proposed rule, request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2011 specifications and management measures for 
Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish (MSB). This action proposes to 
modify the measure that transfers Loligo squid (Loligo) quota underages 
from Trimester I to Trimesters II and III by limiting the Trimester II 
quota increase to no more than 50 percent. This action also proposes to 
revise the 72-hr pre-trip observer notification requirement for the 
Loligo fishery to accommodate vessels departing for multiple day trips 
in a week. These proposed specifications and management measures 
promote the utilization and conservation of the MSB resource.

DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern 
standard time, on December 17, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents used by the Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (Council), including the Environmental 
Assessment (EA) and Regulatory Impact Review (RIR)/Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are available from: Dr. Christopher M. 
Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 
Room 2115, Federal Building, 300 South New Street, Dover, DE 19904-
6790. The EA/RIR/IRFA is accessible via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov.
    You may submit comments, identified by 0648-BA03, by any one of the 
following methods:

Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking portal http://www.regulations.gov;
Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Aja Peters-Mason;
Mail to NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Dr, 
Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on 
2011 MSB Specifications.''

    Instructions: No comments will be posted for public viewing until 
after the comment period has closed. 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). You may submit attachments to 
electronic comments 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

[[Page 70188]]

rule may be submitted to NMFS, Northeast Regional Office and by e-mail 
to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aja Peters-Mason, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, 978-281-9195, fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Regulations implementing the MSB Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
appear at 50 CFR part 648, subpart B. Regulations governing foreign 
fishing appear at 50 CFR part 600, subpart F. The regulations at 
Sec. Sec.  648.21 and 600.516(c) require that NMFS, based on the 
maximum optimum yield (Max OY) of each fishery as established by the 
regulations, annually publish a proposed rule specifying the amounts of 
the initial optimum yield (IOY), allowable biological catch (ABC), 
domestic annual harvest (DAH), and domestic annual processing (DAP), as 
well as, where applicable, the amounts for total allowable level of 
foreign fishing (TALFF) and joint venture processing (JVP) for the 
affected species managed under the FMP. In addition, these regulations 
allow specifications to be specified for up to 3 years, subject to 
annual review. The regulations at Sec.  648.21 also specify that IOY 
for Illex and Loligo squid is equal to the combination of research 
quota (RQ) and DAH, with no TALFF specified for squid. For butterfish, 
the regulations specify that a butterfish bycatch TALFF will be 
specified only if TALFF is specified for mackerel.
    At its June 8-10, 2010, meeting in New York, NY, the Council 
recommended MSB specifications for the 2011 fishing year. The Council 
considered the recommendations made by its Monitoring Committee and 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The SSC recommends ABC. SSC 
advice accounts for scientific uncertainty regarding stock status and 
biological reference points in recommending the ABC, and the Council 
relies on that ABC recommendation to set other specifications. In 
addition to 2011 specifications for each of the MSB species, the 
Council recommended a modification in the provision that transfers 
Trimester I quota underages to Trimesters II and III for the Loligo 
fishery. The Council submitted these recommendations, along with the 
required analyses, for agency review on July 19, 2010, with final 
submission on September 23, 2010.

Research Quota

    The Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program allows research 
projects to be funded through the sale of fish that has been set aside 
from the total annual quota. The RQ may vary between 0 and 3 percent of 
the overall quota for each species. The Council has recommended that 3 
percent of the 2011 Illex squid (Illex), butterfish, and Atlantic 
mackerel (mackerel) IOY be set aside to fund projects selected under 
the 2011 Mid-Atlantic RSA Program. For Loligo, only 330 mt (1.65 
percent) is proposed to be available for RSA, to reduce impacts on 
butterfish from RSA Loligo fishing.
    NMFS solicited research proposals under the 2011 Mid-Atlantic RSA 
Program through the Federal Register (75 FR 3092, January 19, 2010). 
The deadline for submission was March 22, 2010. The project selection 
and award process for the 2011 Mid-Atlantic RSA Program has not 
concluded and, therefore, the research quota awards are not known at 
this time. When the selection process has been concluded, projects 
requesting RQ will be forwarded to the NOAA Grants Office for award. If 
any portion of the RQ is not awarded, NMFS will return any un-awarded 
RQ to the commercial fishery either through the final 2011 MSB 
specification rulemaking process or through the publication of a 
separate notice in the Federal Register notifying the public of a quota 
adjustment.
    Vessels harvesting RQ in support of approved research projects 
would be issued exempted fishing permits (EFP) authorizing them to 
exceed Federal possession limits and to fish during Federal quota 
closures. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that interested parties be provided an 
opportunity to comment on all proposed EFPs. These exemptions are 
necessary to allow project investigators to recover research expenses, 
as well as adequately compensate fishing industry participants 
harvesting RQ. Vessels harvesting RQ would operate within all other 
regulations that govern the commercial fishery, unless otherwise 
exempted through a separate EFP.

2011 Proposed Specifications and Management Measures

  Table 1--Proposed Specifications, in Metric Tons (mt), for Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish for 2011
                                                  Fishing Year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Specifications                 Loligo               Illex             Mackerel           Butterfish
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Max OY...........................  32,000              Unknown             Unknown             Unknown
ABC..............................  24,000              24,000              47,395              1,500
IOY..............................  20,000              23,328              46,779              500
DAH..............................  20,000              23,328              \1\ 46,779          500
DAP..............................  20,000              23,328              31,779              500
JVP..............................  N/A                 N/A                 0                   0
TALFF............................  N/A                 N/A                 0                   0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Includes a 15,000-mt catch of Atlantic mackerel by the recreational fishery.

Atlantic Mackerel

    The status of the mackerel stock was assessed by the Transboundary 
Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC) in March 2010. Though the 2010 
TRAC Status Report indicated reduced productivity in the stock and a 
lack of older fish in both the survey and catch data, the status of the 
mackerel stock is unknown, because biomass reference points could not 
be determined. According to the FMP, mackerel ABC must be calculated 
using the formula U.S. ABC = T-C, where C is the estimated catch of 
mackerel in Canadian waters for the upcoming fishing year, and T is the 
yield associated with a fishing mortality rate that is equal to the 
target fishing mortality rate (F). Due to uncertainty in the 
assessment, the TRAC recommended that total annual catches not exceed 
the average total landings (80,000 mt) over the last 3 years (2006-
2008) until new information is available. Since there is no calculation 
of yield at target F available from the most recent assessment, the 
Council's SSC recommended specifying the stock-wide ABC for 2011 at 
80,000 mt,

[[Page 70189]]

consistent with the TRAC recommendation.
    Expected Canadian catch (32,605 mt) was derived by examining the 
relationship between U.S. landings in one year for the years 1994-2008 
and the Canadian landings in the next year (1995-2009); the two 
landings series were found to be strongly correlated (correlation 
coefficient = 0.86). During this time series, Canadian landings in one 
year were on average 1.71 times higher than U.S. landings the previous 
year; the relationship can thus be used as a scaling factor for 
determining expected Canadian catch. Analysis revealed that multiplying 
U.S. catch in one year by 3.218 (95th percentile of scaling factors 
1994-2009) would have underestimated Canadian catch in the following 
year in only 1 out of 15 of those ``year pairs.'' The 95th percentile 
scaling factor was applied to 2010 U.S. mackerel catch (10,000 mt prior 
to July 1) to derive expected Canadian catch for 2011 (32,180 mt); this 
was increased to 32,605 mt to account for Canadian mackerel discards. 
Subtracting the expected 2011 Canadian catch of 32,605 mt from the 
stock-wide ABC of 80,000 mt yields a proposed 2011 U.S. ABC of 47,395 
mt.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides that the specification of TALFF, 
if any, shall be that portion of the optimum yield (OY) of a fishery 
that will not be harvested by vessels of the United States. TALFF would 
allow foreign vessels to harvest U.S. fish and sell their product on 
the world market, in direct competition with the U.S. industry efforts 
to expand exports. While a surplus existed between ABC and DAH for many 
years, that surplus has disappeared due to downward adjustments of the 
specifications in recent years. Based on analysis and a review of the 
state of the world mackerel market and possible increases in U.S. 
production levels, the Council concluded that specifying an IOY 
resulting in zero TALFF will yield positive social and economic 
benefits to both U.S. harvesters and processors, and to the Nation. For 
these reasons, consistent with the Council's recommendation, NMFS 
proposes to specify IOY at a level that can be fully harvested by the 
domestic fleet, thereby precluding the specification of a TALFF, in 
order to support the U.S. mackerel industry. NMFS concurs that it is 
reasonable to assume that in 2011 the commercial fishery has the 
ability to harvest 46,779 mt of mackerel.
    The 2010 TRAC assessment also estimated U.S. mackerel discards from 
1989-2008. For the most recent 5 years for which complete data are 
available (2004-2008), total discards accounted for 1.3 percent of 
total catch. In order to account for discards, the Council recommended, 
and NMFS is proposing, specifying the mackerel IOY and DAH at 46,779 m 
(ABC minus 1.3 percent for discards). The DAH includes commercial 
harvest plus the 15,000 mt available for the recreational fishery.
    NMFS proposes to maintain JVP at zero (the most recent allocation 
was 5,000 mt of JVP in 2004), consistent with the Council's 
recommendation. In the past, the Council recommended a JVP greater than 
zero because it believed U.S. processors lacked the ability to process 
the total amount of mackerel that U.S. harvesters could land. However, 
for the past 7 years, the Council has recommended zero JVP because U.S. 
shoreside processing capacity for mackerel has expanded. The Council 
concluded that processing capacity was no longer a limiting factor 
relative to domestic production of mackerel, even at the higher DAP of 
100,000 mt; this is even more true with the proposed DAP of 31,779 mt.

Atlantic Squids

Loligo

    Because Loligo is a sub-annual species (i.e., has a lifespan of 
less than 1 year), the stock is solely dependent on sufficient 
recruitment year to year to prevent stock collapse. Based on advice 
provided in November 2001 by the most recent Loligo stock assessment 
review committee meeting (SARC 34), the FMP uses fishing mortality rate 
(F) proxies that are fixed values based on average fishing mortality 
rates achieved during a time period when the stock biomass was fairly 
resilient (1987-2000). The use of a proxy is necessary because it is 
currently not possible to accurately predict Loligo stock biomass, 
because recruitment, which occurs throughout the year, is highly 
variable inter-annually and influenced by changing environmental 
conditions. To determine if overfishing is occurring, the 
FThreshold proxy is the 75th percentile of fishing mortality 
rates during 1987-2000. The FTarget proxy used to determine 
OY is the average F during the same period.
    Using these proxies, the SSC recommended a Loligo Max OY of 32,000 
mt, and recommended that 75 percent of that value, 24,000 mt, be used 
for an ABC. SARC 34 also recommended that the Council limit total 
landings and discards to 20,000 mt. Therefore, the Council proposed 
that IOY, DAH, and DAP be set at 20,000 mt.
    NMFS concurs with the Council's recommendation; therefore, this 
action proposes a 2011 Loligo Max OY of 32,000 mt, an ABC of 24,000 mt, 
and an IOY, DAH, and DAP of 20,000 mt. The FMP does not authorize the 
specification of JVP and TALFF for the Loligo fishery because of the 
domestic industry's capacity to harvest and process the OY for this 
fishery.

Distribution of the Loligo DAH

    The proposed 2011 Loligo DAH would be allocated into trimesters, 
according to percentages specified in the FMP, as follows:

     Table 2--Proposed Trimester Allocation of Loligo Quota in 2011
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 Metric
                     Trimester                       Percent      tons
------------------------------------------------------------------------
I (Jan-Apr).......................................         43      8,600
II (May-Aug)......................................         17      3,400
III (Sep-Dec).....................................         40      8,000
                                                   ---------------------
    Total.........................................        100     20,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action proposes to adjust how Trimester I underages would be 
distributed among the remaining Trimesters. Currently, Trimester I 
Loligo underages greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota are 
distributed evenly between Trimesters II and III. The Council expressed 
concern that the butterfish mortality cap on the Loligo fishery, 
established in 2010 by MSB Amendment 10 (75 FR 11441, March 11, 2010), 
could result in a substantial Trimester I underage if the Loligo 
fishery is closed because the Trimester I butterfish catch cap is 
reached. Under current management, this could result in a large roll-
over of Loligo quota to Trimester II, when the butterfish catch cap 
cannot close the fishery. To avoid this situation, the Council 
recommended, and NMFS is proposing, that the roll-over of quota from 
Trimester I to Trimester II should be no more than 50 percent of the 
Trimester II allocation. This proposed adjustment will continue to 
prevent an underharvest of the annual quota by distributing the quota 
across the remaining trimesters, while reducing management uncertainty 
related to the implementation of the butterfish mortality cap for the 
Loligo fishery.

Adjustment to the Loligo Pre-trip Trip Notification Requirement

    The rule proposes to change the 72-hr pre-trip observer 
notification requirement established through Amendment 10 for vessels 
issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit. Starting January 1, 
2011, such vessels intending to land more than 2,500 lb of Loligo will 
be required to

[[Page 70190]]

notify the NMFS Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) at least 72 
hr prior to departing on a trip. A large number of the Loligo vessels 
embark on multiple trips that last less than 24 hr during a single 
week. In order to reduce the burden of this requirement for these 
vessels, this action proposes to streamline the requirement such that 
vessels must notify NEFOP at least 72 hr, but not more than 10 days 
before embarking on a Loligo trip.

Illex Squid

    The Illex stock was most recently assessed at SARC 42 in late 2005. 
While it was not possible to evaluate current stock status because 
there are no reliable current estimates of stock biomass or F, 
qualitative analyses determined that overfishing had not likely been 
occurring. The SSC recommended an ABC of 24,000 mt based on 
observations that catches in this range, and up to 26,000 mt, have not 
caused any apparent harm to the stock. The Council recommended that the 
IOY be reduced to 23,328 mt to account for discards (2.8 percent of 
catch) based on the discard estimate ratios from the last assessment.
    Consistent with the Council's recommendation, NMFS proposes to 
specify the Illex ABC as 24,000 mt, and to specify IOY, DAH, and DAP as 
23,328 mt. The FMP does not authorize the specification of JVP and 
TALFF for the Illex fishery because of the domestic fishing industry's 
capacity to harvest and to process the IOY from this fishery.

Butterfish

    The status of the butterfish stock was most recently assessed at 
SARC 49 in February 2010. The estimates of butterfish fishing mortality 
and total biomass resulting from SARC 49 are highly uncertain, and the 
final assessment report states that it would be inappropriate to 
compare the previous status determination criteria from SARC 38 in 2004 
with the current assessment estimates of spawning stock biomass and 
fishing mortality, because measures of population abundance in the 
current assessment are scaled much higher than those in the previous 
assessment.
    The current status of the butterfish stock is unknown, because 
biomass reference points could not be determined in the SARC 49 
assessment. Though the butterfish population appears to be declining 
over time, fishing mortality does not seem to be the major cause. 
Butterfish have a high natural mortality rate, and the current 
estimated F (F = 0.02) is well below all candidate overfishing 
threshold reference points. The assessment report noted that predation 
is likely an important component of the butterfish natural mortality 
rate (currently assumed to be 0.8), but also noted that estimates of 
consumption of butterfish by predators appear to be very low. In short, 
the underlying causes for population decline are unknown.
    Given the uncertainty in the assessment, the SSC recommended a 
status quo ABC of 1,500 mt. Assuming that butterfish discards equal 
twice the level of landings, the amount of butterfish discards 
associated with 500 mt of landings is approximately 1,000 mt.
    Therefore, the proposed specifications would set the ABC at 1,500 
mt, and the IOY, DAH, and DAP at 500 mt. Additionally, consistent with 
MSB regulations, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, zero 
TALFF for butterfish in 2010 because zero TALFF is proposed for 
mackerel.
    Amendment 10 created a butterfish mortality cap for the Loligo 
fishery which will go into effect on January 1, 2011. If the butterfish 
mortality cap is harvested during Trimester I (January-April) or 
Trimester III (September-December), the directed Loligo fishery will 
close for the remainder of that trimester. The mortality cap is equal 
to 75 percent of the butterfish ABC (1,125 mt).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, other 
provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Council prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic 
impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A 
summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is available 
from the Council or NMFS (see ADDRESSES) or via the Internet at http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

Statement of Objective and Need

    This action proposes 2011 specifications and management measures 
for mackerel, squid, and butterfish, proposes to modify accounting 
procedures for underages of Trimester I quotas in the Loligo fishery, 
and proposes to adjust the 72-hr pre-trip observer notification 
requirement for Loligo vessels. A complete description of the reasons 
why this action is being considered, and the objectives of and legal 
basis for this action, are contained in the preamble to this proposed 
rule and are not repeated here.

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

    Based on permit data for 2010, the numbers of potential fishing 
vessels in the 2011 fisheries are as follows: 360 Loligo/butterfish 
moratorium permits, 76 Illex moratorium permits, 2,156 mackerel 
permits, 1,844 incidental squid/butterfish permits, and 1,844 MSB 
party/charter permits. There are no large entities participating in 
this fishery, as defined in section 601 of the RFA. Therefore, there 
are no disproportionate economic impacts on small entities. Many 
vessels participate in more than one of these fisheries; therefore, 
permit numbers are not additive.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This proposed rule contains a change to an information collection 
previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
OMB Control Number 0648-0601: Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish 
Amendment 10 Data Collection. This action proposes to require that 
vessels intending to embark on Loligo trips notify NEFOP at least 72 
hr, but no more than 10 days before their intended departure dates. The 
adjustment will also allow vessels to submit an email address for 
contact. A change request has been submitted to OMB for approval. This 
action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal 
rules.

Minimizing Significant Economic Impacts on Small Entities

Proposed Actions
    The mackerel IOY proposed in this action (46,779 mt, with 15,000 mt 
allocated to recreational catch) represents a reduction from status quo 
(115,000 mt). Despite the reduction, the proposed IOY is above recent 
U.S. landings; mackerel landings for 2007-2009 averaged 23,310 mt. 
Thus, the reduction does not pose a constraint to vessels relative to 
the landings in recent years. Accordingly, no reductions in revenues 
for the mackerel fishery are expected as a result of this proposed 
action.
    The Loligo IOY (20,000 mt) represents a slight increase from the 
status quo (19,000 mt). Loligo landings for 2007-2009 averaged 11,019 
mt. This provides

[[Page 70191]]

an opportunity to increase landings, though if recent trends continue, 
there may be no increase in landings despite the increase in the 
allocation. No reductions in revenues for the Loligo fishery are 
expected as a result of this proposed action.
    The Illex IOY (23,328 mt) proposed in this action represents a 
slight decrease compared to status quo (24,000 mt). Though annual Illex 
landings have been increasing over the past 3 years (9,002 mt for 2007, 
15,900 mt for 2008, and 18,419 mt for 2009), the landings were lower 
than the level proposed. Thus, implementation of this proposed action 
should not result in a reduction in revenue or a constraint on 
expansion of the fishery in 2011.
    The butterfish IOY proposed in this action (500 mt) represents 
status quo, as compared to 2010, and represents only a minimal 
constraint to vessels relative to the landings in recent years. Due to 
market conditions, there has not been a directed butterfish fishery in 
recent years; therefore, recent landings have been low. Given the lack 
of a directed butterfish fishery and low butterfish landings, the 
proposed action is not expected to reduce revenues in this fishery more 
than minimally.
    As discussed in the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) 
for MSB Amendment 10, the butterfish mortality cap has a potential for 
economic impact on fishery participants. The Loligo fishery will close 
during Trimesters I and III, if the butterfish mortality cap is 
reached. If the Loligo fishery is closed in response to butterfish 
catch before the entire Loligo quota is harvested, then a loss in 
revenue is possible. The potential for Loligo revenue loss is dependent 
upon the size of the butterfish mortality cap, which is based on the 
level of butterfish abundance. As the butterfish stock rebuilds, the 
mortality cap will increase, and the potential for lost Loligo revenue 
should decrease. When the butterfish stock rebuilds, a directed 
butterfish fishery could resume, provided discards are kept low, and 
would have economic benefits for fishery participants.
    The accounting methods for Loligo trimester underages proposed in 
this action would distribute any substantial underage in Trimester I 
(greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota) between Trimester II 
and III, but would limit the transfer of quota such that the Trimester 
II quota could increase by 50 percent, at most. The proposed adjustment 
may provide some economic benefit to the fishery during Trimesters II 
and III because it will allow access to underutilized Trimester I quota 
later in the fishing year.
    The proposed change to the pre-trip observer notification 
requirement, which would allow vessels to notify at least 72 hr, but no 
more than 10 days prior to fishing trips, is an administrative measure 
to facilitate the placement of observers aboard the Loligo fleet, and 
is intended to reduce the burden of the notification requirement for 
vessels that depart on multiple trips in a short period by allowing for 
advance notification. The economic burden on fishery participants 
associated with this measure is expected to be minimal.

Alternatives to the Proposed Rule

    The Council analysis evaluated two alternatives to the proposed 
action for mackerel. Based on recent harvest levels, neither of the ABC 
and IOY alternatives would represent a constraint on vessels in this 
fishery. The first alternative (status quo; least restrictive), which 
would have set the ABC at 156,000 mt, and IOY at 115,000 mt, was not 
selected because the ABC would have exceeded the SSC's recommendation.
    As in the proposed action (intermediately restrictive), the second 
alternative (most restrictive) started from the SSC recommended 
stockwide ABC of 80,000 mt, but instead subtracted an estimated 41,556 
mt for Canadian landings. This would have resulted in a U.S. ABC of 
38,444 mt, and an IOY and DAH of 37,944 mt (U.S. ABC minus 1.3 percent 
for discards). For this alternative, expected Canadian catch (41,556 
mt) was derived by examining the relationship between Canadian landings 
in one year (e.g., 1994) and the Canadian landings 2 years later (e.g., 
1996); this analysis was chosen so that 2009 Canadian landings could be 
used to determine expected Canadian landings for 2011. The years 
examined included 1962-2009. Though the two landings series were found 
to be strongly correlated (correlation coefficient = 0.71), this method 
of deriving expected Canadian catch (and the resulting specifications 
alternative) was not selected over the proposed alternative. The 
landings series compared in the method used to derive 2011 Canadian 
catch in the proposed alternative (U.S. landings in one year and 
Canadian landings in the next year) were found to have a stronger 
correlation (correlation coefficient = 0.86) than the landings series 
compared in this alternative. Thus, using the Canadian catch derivation 
method in the proposed alternative provides a more reliable estimate of 
2011 Canadian catch.
    There were two alternatives to the proposed action evaluated for 
Loligo. Both alternatives set the Max OY at 32,000 mt, the same level 
as the proposed action. The first alternative (status quo) would have 
set the ABC and IOY at 19,000 mt; this alternative was not chosen, 
because it was not consistent with the ABC recommended by the SSC. The 
second alternative (least restrictive) would have set the ABC at the 
level recommended by the SSC (24,000 mt), but would have set the IOY at 
22,560 mt (ABC reduced by 6 percent to account for discards). This 
alternative was not adopted by the Council because two sources of 
uncertainty, namely the uncertainty regarding the discard estimate and 
the management uncertainty regarding the operation of the Loligo 
fishery in 2011, given the impending implementation of the butterfish 
mortality cap, warranted setting the IOY at the more precautionary 
level specified in the proposed action (intermediately restrictive).
    The alternatives also differed in how Trimester I underages and 
overages would be applied to the Loligo quotas in the following 
Trimesters. The first alternative (status quo) would maintain the 
current measure to distribute an underage in Trimester I greater than 
25 percent of the Trimester I quota evenly between Trimesters II and 
III. The current measure was not considered to be sufficient to address 
management uncertainty related to the implementation of the butterfish 
mortality cap in 2011.
    Two non-selected alternatives were considered for Illex; both would 
have set the ABC at 24,000 mt. The first alternative would have set 
IOY, DAH, and DAP at 24,000 mt (status quo; least restrictive) rather 
than 23,328 mt specified in the proposed action (intermediately 
restrictive). This alternative was not selected because the higher 
specifications were inconsistent with the results of the most recent 
stock assessment. The second alternative (most restrictive) would have 
set IOY, DAH, and DAP at 22,656 mt (ABC reduced by 5.6 percent, based 
on double the discard ratio estimate). The Council considered this 
alternative unnecessarily restrictive.
    One non-selected alternative was considered for butterfish that 
would maintain the status quo, which only differs from the proposed 
alternative in that it would have set Max OY at 12,175 mt. The proposed 
alternative would remove the specification of Max OY, because it is no 
longer supported by available science. All other

[[Page 70192]]

specifications are identical to the status quo alternative.
    This proposed rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which was previously 
approved by OMB under OMB Control Number 0648-0601. The public 
reporting burden for the phone call to declare a Loligo fishing trip is 
estimated to average 2 min per call per trip. Public burden for the 
phone call to cancel a Loligo trip is estimated to average 1 min. Send 
comments regarding these burden estimates or any other aspect of this 
data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS 
(see ADDRESSES) and by e-mail to OIRA_Submission@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 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: November 12, 2010.
Eric C. Schwaab,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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

    2. In Sec.  648.21, paragraph (f)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.21  Procedures for determining initial annual amounts.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) Any underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that 
are greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be 
reallocated to Trimesters II and III of the same year. The reallocation 
of quota from Trimester I to Trimester II is limited, such that the 
Trimester II quota may only be increased by 50 percent; the remaining 
portion of the underage will be reallocated to Trimester III. Any 
underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that are less than 
25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be applied to Trimester III of 
the same year. Any overages of commercial quota for Trimesters I and II 
will be subtracted from Trimester III of the same year.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  648.22, paragraph (a)(2)(i) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.22  Closure of the fishery.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) If the Regional Administrator determines that the Trimester I 
closure threshold has been underharvested by 25 percent or more, then 
the amount of the underharvest shall be reallocated to Trimesters II 
and III, as specified at Sec.  648.21(f)(2), through notice in the 
Federal Register.
* * * * *
    4. Section 648.26 as amended at 75 FR 11450, March 11, 2010, 
effective January 1, 2011, and is further amended by revising 
paragraphs (a) and (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.26  Observer requirements for the Loligo fishery.

    (a) A vessel issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit, as 
specified at Sec.  648.4(a)(5)(i), must, for the purposes of observer 
deployment, have a representative provide notice to NMFS of the vessel 
name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer 
deployment, telephone number or email address for contact; and the 
date, time, port of departure, and approximate trip duration, at least 
72 hr, but no more than 10 days prior to beginning any fishing trip, 
unless it complies with the possession restrictions in paragraph (c) of 
this section.
* * * * *
    (d) If a vessel issued a Loligo and butterfish moratorium permit, 
as specified at Sec.  648.4(a)(5)(i), intends to possess, harvest, or 
land 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) or more of Loligo per trip or per calendar day, 
has a representative notify NMFS of an upcoming trip, is selected by 
NMFS to carry an observer, and then cancels that trip, then the 
representative is required to provide notice to NMFS of the vessel 
name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer 
deployment, and telephone number or email for contact, and the intended 
date, time, and port of departure for the cancelled trip prior to the 
planned departure time. In addition, if a trip selected for observer 
coverage is canceled, then that vessel is required to carry an 
observer, provided an observer is available, on its next trip.

[FR Doc. 2010-29002 Filed 11-16-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P