Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Regulatory Amendment, 54385-54391 [2011-22436]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment during normal business hours with the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrianne Borgia, EPA Region IX, (415) 97–3576, Borgia.adrianne@epa.gov. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds. Dated: August 19, 2011. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, Region IX. Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.220 published in the Federal Register on July 15, 2011, (76 FR 41717) is withdrawn as of September 1, 2011. [FR Doc. 2011–22289 Filed 8–31–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P analysis of the impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of the regulatory amendment, including the EA, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are available from: NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The EA/RIR/IRFA is also accessible via the Internet at http:// www.nero.nmfs.gov. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this rule should be submitted to NMFS, at the address above, and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by email at OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202–395–7285. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9272, fax 978–281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 110131079–1521–02] RIN 0648–BA79 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Regulatory Amendment National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS revises the reporting requirements for vessels issued Atlantic herring (herring) permits, because more timely catch information is necessary to monitor herring catch against the stockwide herring annual catch limit (ACL) and herring management area sub-ACLs, to help prevent sub-ACLs overages and the chance of premature fishery closures. This action requires limited access herring vessels to report catch daily via vessel monitoring systems (VMS), open access herring vessels to report catch weekly via the interactive voice response (IVR) system, and all herring-permitted vessels to submit vessel trip reports (VTRs) weekly. DATES: Effective September 8, 2011. ADDRESSES: An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for this regulatory amendment; it describes the proposed action and other considered alternatives, and provides a thorough wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 The herring fishery in the United States is managed by a fishery management plan (FMP) developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), and implemented by NMFS, in 2000. The harvest of herring is managed by a stock-wide ACL that is divided among three management areas, one of which has two sub-areas. Area 1 is located in the Gulf of Maine and is divided into an inshore section (Area 1A) and an offshore section (Area 1B). Area 2 is located in the coastal waters between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 is on Georges Bank. In order to monitor catch against management area quota allocations (i.e., sub-ACLs), reporting requirements for the herring fishery were implemented as part of the original Herring FMP in 2000, and are specified at § 648.7. This action revises catch reporting requirements for owners/operators of vessels issued herring permits. A proposed rule revising reporting requirements for the herring fishery was published on June 15, 2011 (75 FR 34947), with a comment period ending June 30, 2011. Because the proposed rule included detailed information on the background and rationale for the revised reporting requirements, that information is only briefly summarized in this final rule. Fishing year 2010 was the first year that NMFS monitored herring catch against recently reduced herring management area allocations (reduced from 2009 levels by 20 to 60 percent). When catch is projected to reach 95 percent of a management area sub-ACL, NMFS implements a 2,000-lb (907.2-kg) PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54385 possession limit for that management area, essentially closing that area to the directed herring fishery, to prevent the sub-ACL from being exceeded. In 2010, NMFS experienced difficulty projecting a closure date in Area 1B because of a pulse of fishing effort. NMFS had similar difficulties projecting a closure date in Area 1A, resulting in premature fishery closures, because bycatch rates were highly variable. Preliminary 2010 data indicate that catches from Area 1B and Area 1A exceeded their respective allocations. Overage determinations, and any subsequent overage deductions, will be determined when the 2010 herring catch data are finalized. NMFS’s monitoring experiences in 2010 illustrated the need for more timely catch reporting to better monitor herring catch against management area sub-ACLs, help prevent sub-ACL overages, and reduce the chance of premature fishery closures. The Council is in the process of developing Amendment 5 to the Herring FMP (Amendment 5), which considers revisions to catch reporting requirements for the herring fishery, but that amendment, if approved, is not anticipated to be implemented before 2013. NMFS recognizes the importance of timely catch information to monitor herring catch against management areas sub-ACLs in 2011 and beyond, as well as to help catch achieve, but not exceed, sub-ACLs. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) section 402(a)(2), in conjunction with regulations at § 648.7, provide NMFS with the authority to revise fishery reporting requirements as necessary to monitor a FMP. Therefore, in this action, NMFS requires that: Limited access herring vessels report herring catch daily via VMS; open access herring vessels report catch weekly via IVR; and all herringpermitted vessels submit VTRs weekly. Reporting Requirements for Limited Access Herring Vessels To ensure timely catch data are available to better inform management decisions, NMFS requires owners/ operators of vessels issued limited access herring permits to report herring catch, retained and discarded, daily via VMS. Daily catch reports would include the following information: Vessel name; VTR serial number; date; and the amount of herring retained and discarded from each management area. During a declared herring trip, catch reports would be required to be submitted via VMS by 9 a.m., eastern time, for herring caught the previous calendar day (0000–2400 hr). If no fish were caught on a particular day during E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 54386 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations the trip, a negative report (0 lb) would be submitted. In this action, NMFS also requires owners/operators of vessels issued limited access herring permits to submit VTRs on a weekly basis. VTRs would be due by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week (Sunday– Saturday). This requirement would increase the frequency of information reporting from status quo, but the required content of the VTR would be unchanged. wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES Reporting Requirements for Open Access Herring Vessels In an effort to simplify reporting requirements, to improve the timeliness of herring catch data, and to more efficiently apportion catch to management areas, NMFS requires owners/operators of vessels issued open access herring permits to report catch, retained and discarded, weekly via the IVR system. An IVR report would be required by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for any herring caught the previous week (Sunday–Saturday). If no herring was caught during a week, no IVR report would be required. Consistent with the VTR requirements for limited access vessels, NMFS requires owners/operators of vessels issued open access herring permits be required to submit VTRs on a weekly basis. VTRs would be due by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week (Sunday–Saturday). This requirement would increase the frequency of information reporting from status quo, but the required content of the VTR would be unchanged. Comments and Responses Seven comment letters were received on the proposed rule for this action; one from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), two from herring fishing organizations (Lunds Fisheries Inc., O’Hara Corporation/Starlight Inc.), one from a fishing/environmental organization (CHOIR Coalition), one from an environmental advocacy group (Herring Alliance), one from the State of Maine, and one from a member of the public. All commenters expressed general support for the proposed measures because they think the measures will improve catch monitoring, but several commenters qualified their support with recommendations for revisions to the proposed measures. Comment 1: The ASMFC supported measures in the proposed rule, because daily reporting will reduce the chance of premature closures and overages, which increase operational costs and reduce market stability, with little VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 change to reporting burden. The ASMFC also commented that VMS reporting has been used successfully in the Northeast multispecies fishery, and that it is pleased to see consistent requirements for the herring fishery. Response: While this action does increase the reporting burden on owners/operators of vessels issued herring permit, NMFS believes that the potential benefits of more frequent reporting, such as the decreased likelihood of sub-ACL overages and premature fishery closures, justifies the increase in reporting burden. Comment 2: A member of the public commented that the proposed measures will allow for better enforcement of the ACL and more accountability and efficiency to herring monitoring with little change to the reporting burden on vessels. Response: See response to Comment 1. Comment 3: The Herring Alliance and CHOIR both expressed support for more timely catch reporting in the herring fishery, but believe this action is only an interim step, and that there is still a need to develop a comprehensive monitoring system, including independent, third-party monitoring, in Amendment 5. Response: This action is intended to address the specific need for more timely catch reporting while Amendment 5 is being developed and implemented. Comment 4: The Herring Alliance and CHOIR both commented that weekly IVR reporting is unnecessary for vessels issued open access permits. The Herring Alliance explained that, because open access vessels catch less than 1 percent of the herring harvest and contribute little to the problem of pulse fishing activities, simply requiring weekly VTRs seems sufficient to monitor herring catch from open access vessels. The Herring Alliance commented that the IVR system is reported to be complex, unreliable, and challenging. But it also suggested maintaining the current IVR requirement (i.e., open access vessels submit weekly IVR reports only if catch is equal to or greater than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) on a trip) rather than requiring open access vessels to report all catch weekly via IVR. Because the catch from open access vessels is only a percentage of the herring harvest, CHOIR commented that requiring weekly IVR reports from all open access vessels would lead to a large amount of reporting confusion for little benefit to herring management. Response: VTRs do not allow herring catch to be reported by herring management area; instead, VTR catch PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 information must be apportioned to management area using latitude and longitude. Given that these vessels land a low percentage of the total herring catch, it would create needless work to process a large amount of VTRs weekly. Therefore, at this time, IVR reporting is the most efficient and timely way to track the catch of open access vessels against management area sub-ACLs. In addition, there has been confusion with the existing 2,000-lb (907.2-kg) IVR reporting trigger (i.e., is it a trip limit or a weekly limit?); and this misunderstanding likely affected IVR reporting compliance. This action simplifies the IVR reporting requirement by requiring a report if any herring are caught. If weekly IVR reporting by open access vessels proves to be unnecessary, the weekly IVR reporting requirement can be modified or eliminated in a future action. Comment 5: Lunds opposed the proposed measures requiring open access vessels to report weekly via IVR and exempting open access vessels from submitting an IVR report if no fish were caught during a week. Instead, Lunds proposed that open access vessels be required to operate a VMS and submit daily VMS catch reports when they are directing fishing effort on herring. Response: Currently, the Herring FMP does not require vessels with open access herring permits to operate a VMS, but many of these vessels possess a VMS as a result of other permit requirements. Because open access vessels catch such a small percentage of the total herring harvest, requiring open access vessels to obtain/operate a VMS and submit daily VMS catch reports was not considered in this action. At this time, NMFS believes that VMS catch reporting by limited access vessels and weekly IVR reporting by open assess vessels is the most efficient and cost effective way to monitor catch in the herring fishery. Comment 6: Lunds, O’Hara/Starlight, and the State of Maine supported the proposed measure requiring daily VMS reporting for limited access vessels, but opposed the proposed 0900 hr reporting deadline and recommend that the reporting deadline be delayed until later in the day. The commenters explained that mornings are a busy time on the docks and vessels are often offloading their catch at 0900 hr. If the reporting deadline was later in the day (Lunds and O’Hara/Starlight recommended 1700 hr; the State of Maine recommended 1500 hr), vessels could complete their offloads before the catch reports were due, thereby improving the accuracy of catch reports and E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations compliance with the reporting requirement. Response: The daily VMS catch report is intended to be a hail weight of the previous day’s catch. Throughout a trip, limited access vessels will be submitting hail weights via VMS for each day’s catch. The methods used to estimate a hail weight for the last day of a fishing trip should be similar to the methods used to estimate catch on the previous days. Vessels are not expected to verify catch estimates with offload information, and reporting need not occur at 0900 hr, it can occur any time between 0000 and 0900 hr. Additionally, as herring catch approaches management area sub-ACLs, daily adjustments to catch projections will likely be necessary. If catch reports are not due until the afternoon, catch projections will not include the previous day’s catch. Because herring catch can be highly variable, catch projections incorporating the previous day’s catch will likely be better at preventing overages and premature fishery closures. Comment 7: Lunds commented that, if technological issues prevent a vessel from submitting a catch report, particularly while at sea, provisions should be made so that the report can be delayed without penalty. Response: Rather than modify the regulations, any penalty for a delay in reporting should remain at the discretion of the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement, which can take extenuating circumstances, such as those described by the commenter, into account. Comment 8: Lunds also commented that if a sub-ACL overage occurs, the amount of the overage should not be subsequently deducted from the corresponding sub-ACL unless the stock-wide herring ACL has been exceeded, consistent with accountability measures (AMs) for the Atlantic scallop fishery. Response: Amendment 4 to the Herring FMP established an AM that provides for overage deductions. Once the total catch of herring for a fishing year is determined, using all available information, any ACL or sub-ACL overage would result in a reduction of the corresponding ACL/sub-ACL the following year. Adjusting this AM is beyond the scope of this rulemaking and would require action by the Council. Comment 9: Because 2010 catch data for the herring fishery have not yet been finalized, the State of Maine questioned language in the proposed rule stating that 2010 herring catch exceeded quota allocations for Areas 1A and 1B, and that those overages will be deducted VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 from the corresponding sub-ACLs in 2012. Response: Preliminary NMFS data indicate that catch exceeded quota allocations for Areas 1A and 1B in 2010. Any overage determinations, and any subsequent overage deductions, will be determined when NMFS finalizes the 2010 herring catch data. Comment 10: The Herring Alliance commented that, because herring discards are not adequately tracked against management area sub-ACLs, this action should implement a real-time protocol to use observer data to calculate a fishery-wide discard estimate and measures to address catch that is discarded without first being made available to the observer for sampling. Response: Vessels with herring permits report herring catch (i.e., retained and discarded) by management area and that catch is tracked against area sub-ACLs. With this action, limited access vessels will be reporting discards daily, rather than weekly, and open access vessels will be reporting discards weekly, rather than monthly. Measures to address catch that is discarded without being sampled by an observer are beyond the scope of this rulemaking, but such measures are being considered in Amendment 5. Comment 11: The Herring Alliance commented that tracking catch from vessels fishing near and across management area boundaries is a monitoring challenge. Because vessels report herring catch by management area, the Herring Alliance is concerned about the potential for reporting confusion when vessels fish across management boundaries and in multiple management areas. Because inshore subACLs are smaller than offshore subACLs, Herring Alliance believes there may also be incentives for misreporting. The Herring Alliance recommends that VMS information be used to verify vessel catch reports and consider prohibiting towing across area boundaries. Response: NMFS currently uses VMS information to verify vessel catch reports. Prohibiting fishing in multiple management areas was beyond the scope of this action, but those measures could be considered in Amendment 5. Comment 12: The Herring Alliance commented that measures should have been included in this action to improve the tracking of groundfish caught by herring vessels fishing in groundfish closed areas by requiring vessels with Category A and Category B limited access herring permits to report groundfish catch daily via VMS. PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54387 Response: This action addresses the need for more frequent reporting of herring. The Northeast Multispecies (Multispecies) FMP contains measures for monitoring the catch of groundfish species, and revising those measures is beyond the scope of this action. Revisions to haddock reporting requirements for herring vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear are currently being considered in Framework 46 to the Multispecies FMP (Framework 46), and requirements for herring vessels fishing in groundfish closed areas are being considered in Amendment 5. Comment 13: The Herring Alliance commented that the EA for this action does not adequately analyze the effect of the herring fishery on non-target stocks and contains incorrect stock status information for Atlantic mackerel (mackerel). Response: This action is administrative and is not anticipated to result in changes in effort or fishing behavior beyond those analyzed as part of the 2010–2012 herring specifications. The analysis of non-target stocks in the EA is consistent with the scope of an administrative action. Framework 46 considers haddock bycatch in the herring fishery and Amendment 5 considers groundfish and river herring/ shad bycatch in the herring fishery. In Section 3.1.2 of the EA, the status of mackerel is listed as not overfished and not subject to overfishing. This information is consistent with mackerel stock status described in the quarterly updates for the 2010 Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries. Comment 14: The Herring Alliance commented that the requirements for declaring into the herring fishery, and those associated with being on a declared herring trip, are unclear. Response: On January 22, 2010, NMFS issued a permit holder letter that provided guidance on declaring into the herring fishery and being on a declared herring trip. The letter explained that, if a vessel has been issued a limited access herring permit, a vessel representative must activate the VMS and declare that the vessel is participating in the herring fishery, by entering the code ‘‘HER’’ prior to leaving port, otherwise that vessel may not harvest, possess, or land herring on that trip. This guidance will also be provided in the compliance guide for this action. Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes from the proposed rule. Classification The Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, determined that this regulatory E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES 54388 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations amendment is necessary for the conservation and management of the herring fishery and that it is consistent with the MSA and other applicable law. There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this rule and establish an effective date 7 days after publication in the Federal Register. Fishing year 2010 was the first year that NMFS monitored herring catch against recently reduced herring management area quota allocations (reduced from 2009 levels by 20 to 60 percent). That year, a pulse of fishing effort in Area 1B made it difficult to project a closure date. NMFS had similar difficulties projecting a closure date in Area 1A, resulting in premature fishery closures, because catch rates were highly variable. Catch information needs to be available quickly to help prevent overages and reduce the likelihood of premature fishery closures. Premature fishing closures unnecessarily interrupt fishing and processing operations and likely result in increased operational costs to the industry, contrary to public interest. Preliminary data indicate that catch from Areas 1A and 1B exceeded their respective allocations. If catch did exceed area allocations, those overages will need to be deducted from the corresponding sub-ACLs in 2012. Overages in any management area can be detrimental to both the fish stock and the fishery and, therefore, also contrary to public interest. Herring is a relatively long-lived species (over 10 years) and multiple year classes are harvested by the fishery (typically ages 2 through 6x). These characteristics suggest that the herring stock may be robust to overage deductions. However, the health of a stock, size of an overage, and the frequency of overages could combine to affect the stock in the future. Additionally, overages result in lower sub-ACLs, thus harming the industry by reducing potential profits. To help prevent sub-ACL overages, subsequent sub-ACL deductions, and premature fishery closures, these reporting requirements need to be effective before the fishery becomes active in September 2011. This action revises the method and frequency of reporting, but maintains the content of existing reporting requirements. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The FRFA incorporates the IRFA and analyses contained in this regulatory amendment and its accompanying EA/RIR/IRFA. Copies of these analyses are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 Statement of Need This action is necessary because more timely catch information is needed to monitor herring catch against the stockwide herring ACL and herring management area sub-ACLs, to help prevent sub-ACLs overages, and reduce the chance of premature fishery closures. A description of the action, why it was considered, and the legal authority for the action is contained in the preamble and not repeated here. A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public Comments in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Assessment of the Agency of Such Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Proposed Rule as a Result of Such Comments Seven comment letters were received during the comment periods on the proposed rule, but none of the comments were specifically directed to the IRFA. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply All participants in the herring fishery are small entities as defined by the Small Business Administration’s size standards, as none grossed more than $4 million annually; therefore, there are no disproportionate economic impacts on small entities. In 2010, 42 vessels were issued Category A herring permits, 4 vessels were issued Category B herring permits, 55 vessels were issued Category C herring permits, and 2,258 vessels were issued Category D herring permits. A complete description of the number of small entities to which this rule applies is provided in Section 3.1.5 of this action’s EA/RFA/IRFA (see ADDRESSES). Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This action contains a collection-ofinformation requirement subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement was submitted to OMB for approval under Control Numbers 0648– 0202 and 0648–0212. This action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes, Including a Statement of the Factual, Policy, and Legal Reasons for Selecting the Alternative Adopted in the Final Rule and Why Each One of the Other Significant Alternatives to the Rule Considered by the Agency Which Affect the Impact on Small Entities Was Rejected This action directly affects all participants in the herring fishery because it increases the reporting burden for owners/operators of vessels issued herring permits. A complete description of the economic impacts associated with the proposed action and the non-selected alternatives is provided in Section 4.3 of action’s EA/RFA/IRFA (see ADDRESSES). In developing this rule, NMFS considered three alternatives: The no action alternative, which would require weekly IVR reporting by limited access vessels, weekly IVR reporting by open access vessels with catch equal to or greater than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) on a trip, and monthly VTR reports from all herring-permitted vessels; this action, which requires daily VMS reporting by limited access vessels, weekly IVR reporting by open access vessels, and weekly VTR reports from all herringpermitted vessels; and a non-selected action alternative, which would require both limited access and open accesspermitted vessels to provide NMFS with trip-by-trip IVR reports and weekly VTR reports. This action increases reporting costs for herring fishery participants. VMS reporting and the submission of VTRs have a direct cost associated with the submission of the report. The cost of transmitting a catch report via VMS is $0.60 per transmission. In 2010, the average number of fishing days for a limited access herring vessel was 93. Therefore, the annual cost of daily VMS reporting is estimated to be $55.80 per vessel. The estimated annual VMS reporting burden (i.e., time) is the submission of 93 reports per limited access vessel. Because the IVR system phone number is toll-free, there is no direct cost associated with reporting via the IVR system. The estimated annual IVR reporting burden is the submission of 52 reports per open access vessel. Additionally, this action requires weekly VTR submissions, which cost each vessel $17.60 annually. This cost was calculated by multiplying 40 (52 weeks in a year minus 12 (number of monthly reports)) by $0.44 (cost of a E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations postage stamp) to equal $17.60). The annual VTR reporting burden is the submission of 52 reports per vessel. Adding these costs together, this action is estimated to have an annual increased reporting cost of approximately $73.40 per limited access herring vessel (submission of 145 VMS reports and VTRs), and approximately $17.60 per open access herring vessel (submission of 104 IVR reports and VTRs). The ex-vessel value of the herring fishery varies by permit category. For limited access vessels, this action increases reporting costs by less than 1.8 percent of the average ex-vessel value of the fishery (2008–2010). For vessels with open access herring permits, this action increases reporting costs by 7.2 percent of the average exvessel herring value. While the increased reporting costs associated with this action may seem high for open access vessels, open access vessels typically operate in several fisheries and revenue from herring catch is likely only a small portion of their total exvessel value. Additionally, the majority of vessels issued open access herring permits (92 percent) are already paying these increased reporting costs, because they also possess a Northeast multispecies permit that requires weekly submission of VTRs, so they will not experience an increase in overall costs. Under this action, catch data are updated more frequently and will likely better inform catch projections. If catch projections are less uncertain, ACL/subACL overages, and the subsequent overage deduction, may become less likely. Additionally, the fleet may be allowed to harvest up to the 95 percent sub-ACL closure threshold without the management area being prematurely closed and herring potentially left unharvested. For limited access vessels, reporting via VMS is more flexible (reports can be made from sea or from land) than reporting via IVR (reports usually made only from land). For open access vessels, reporting weekly rather than trip-by-trip still provides timely catch data, but likely results in a lower reporting burden. For these reasons, there may be indirect positive impacts for fishery participants associated with this action. As compared to this action, the reporting burden under the no action alternative would be less. The no action alternative would require weekly reporting via IVR for limited access vessels, weekly reporting via IVR for open access vessels when catch was greater than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip, and monthly submission of VTRs for all vessels issued herring permits. Because VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 the IVR system phone number is tollfree, there is no direct cost associated with reporting via the IVR system. The no action alternative is estimated to have an annual reporting cost of approximately $5.28 per limited access herring vessel (submission of 64 reports) and approximately $5.28 per open access herring vessel (submission of 19 reports). Under the no action alternative, there is the possibility that catch data may not be timely enough to inform catch projections increasing the likelihood of either an ACL/sub-ACL overage or a premature implementation of a reduced possession limit. Because of issues with phone reception, reporting via IVR is often not possible while at sea. Therefore, reporting for limited access vessels would be less flexible under the no action alternative than under this action. For these reasons, there may be indirect negative economic impacts to fishery participants resulting from the no action alternative, including overage deductions, increased operational costs if fishing activities are interrupted by a premature closure, and the potential risk that a premature closure may result in a percentage of a management area sub-ACL left unharvested. The reporting burden under the nonselected action alternative would be less costly than reporting under this action (because IVR is less costly than VMS), but the number of reports submitted may be higher than under this action (because trip-by-trip reporting would likely result in the submission of more reports than weekly reporting). The nonselected action alternative would require trip-by-trip reporting via IVR and weekly submission of VTRs for all vessels issued herring permits. The nonselected action alternative is estimated to have an annual reporting cost of approximately $17.60 per herring vessel. Because trips can vary in length from 1 day to several days, the frequency of trip-by-trip reporting would be variable. Under the nonselected action alternative, IVR reporting and weekly VTR submission would result in a minimum annual submission of 104 reports per vessel. The ex-vessel value of the herring fishery varies by permit category. For limited access vessels, the non-selected action alternative would have increased reporting costs that are less than 0.0007 percent of the average ex-vessel value of the fishery (2008–2010). The nonselected action alternative would have increased reporting costs of 7.2 percent of the average ex-vessel value of the herring fishery for open access vessels. While the increased reporting costs PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54389 associated with the non-selected action alternative may seem high for open access vessels, open assess vessels typically operate in several fisheries and revenue from herring catch is likely only a small portion of their total exvessel value. Additionally, the majority of vessels issued open access herring permits (92 percent) are already paying these increased reporting costs, because they also possess a Northeast multispecies permit that requires weekly submission of VTRs. Similar to this action, catch data under the non-selected action alternative would be updated frequently and would likely be sufficient to inform catch projections. If catch projections contained less uncertainty, ACL/subACL overages, and the subsequent overage deduction, may be less likely. Additionally, the fleet may be allowed to harvest up to the 95-percent sub-ACL closure threshold without the management area being prematurely closed and herring potentially left unharvested. For limited access vessels, reporting via IVR is less flexible than reporting via VMS, so reporting for limited access vessels would be less flexible under the non-selected action alternative than under this action. For these reasons, there may be both indirect positive and indirect negative impacts for fishery participants under the non-selected action alternative. This final rule contains a collectionof-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control numbers 0648–0202 and 0648–0212. Public reporting burden for catch reporting is estimated to average 5 min per individual per VMS response, 7 min per individual per IVR response, and 5 min per individual per VTR response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection information. Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these, or any other aspects of the collection of information, to NMFS, E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 54390 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations Northeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and to the OMB by e-mail at 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: August 26, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.7, paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (f)(2)(i) are revised, and paragraph (b)(3) is added to read as follows: ■ § 648.7 Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators issued an open access permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued an open access permit to fish for herring must report catch (retained and discarded) of herring to an IVR system for each week herring was caught, unless exempted by the Regional Administrator. IVR reports are not required for weeks when no herring was caught. The report shall include at least the following information, and any other information required by the Regional Administrator: Vessel identification; week in which herring are caught; management areas fished; and pounds retained and pounds discarded of herring caught in each management area. The IVR reporting week begins on Sunday at 0001 hr (12:01 a.m.) local time and ends Saturday at 2400 hr (12 midnight). Weekly Atlantic herring catch reports must be submitted via the IVR system by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week. Reports are required even if herring caught during the week has not yet been landed. This VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable reporting requirements of this section. (A) Atlantic herring IVR reports are not required from Atlantic herring carrier vessels. (B) Reporting requirements for vessels transferring herring at sea. A vessel that transfers herring at sea must comply with these requirements in addition to those specified at § 648.13(f). (1) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to a vessel that receives it for personal use as bait must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. (2) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an authorized carrier vessel must report all transfers weekly via the IVR system and must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel offloads to the carrier vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of reporting requirements and possession allowances. (3) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an at-sea processor must report all transfers weekly via the IVR system and must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel offloads to the at-sea processing vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of the reporting requirements and possession allowances. For each trip, the vessel must submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and the at-sea processing vessel must submit the detailed dealer report specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. (4) A transfer between two vessels issued open access permits requires each vessel to submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report, filled out as required by the LOA to transfer herring at sea, and a weekly IVR report for the amount of herring each vessel lands. * * * * * (3) VMS Catch Reports. (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators issued a limited access permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access permit to fish for herring must report catches (retained and discarded) of herring daily via VMS, unless exempted by the Regional Administrator. The report shall include at least the following information, and any other information required by the Regional Administrator: Fishing Vessel Trip Report serial number; month and day herring was caught; pounds retained for each herring management area; and pounds discarded for each herring management area. Daily Atlantic herring VMS catch reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals for each day and must be submitted by 0900 hr of the following day. Reports are PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 required even if herring caught that day has not yet been landed. This report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable reporting requirements of this section. (A) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a limited access herring permit must submit an Atlantic herring catch report via VMS each day, regardless of how much herring is caught (including days when no herring is caught), unless exempted from this requirement by the Regional Administrator. (B) Atlantic herring VMS reports are not required from Atlantic herring carrier vessels. (C) Reporting requirements for vessels transferring herring at sea. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access permit to fish for herring that transfers herring at sea must comply with these requirements in addition to those specified at § 648.13(f). (1) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to a vessel that receives it for personal use as bait must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. (2) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an authorized carrier vessel must report all catch daily via VMS and must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel offloads to the carrier vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of reporting requirements and possession allowances. (3) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an at-sea processor must report all catch daily via VMS and must report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel offloads to the at-sea processing vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of the reporting requirements and possession allowances. For each trip, the vessel must submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and the at-sea processing vessel must submit the detailed dealer report specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. (4) A transfer between two vessels issued limited access permits requires each vessel to submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report, filled out as required by the LOA to transfer herring at sea, and a daily VMS catch report for the amount of herring each vessel catches. (ii) [Reserved] * * * * * (f) * * * (2) * * * (i) For any vessel not issued a NE multispecies or Atlantic herring permit, fishing vessel log reports, required by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, must be postmarked or received by NMFS E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 170 / Thursday, September 1, 2011 / Rules and Regulations wreier-aviles on DSKDVH8Z91PROD with RULES within 15 days after the end of the reporting month. If no fishing trip is made during a particular month for such a vessel, a report stating so must be submitted, as instructed by the Regional Administrator. For any vessel issued a NE multispecies or Atlantic herring permit, Fishing Vessel Trip Reports must be postmarked or received by midnight of the first Tuesday following the end of the reporting week. If no fishing trip is made during a reporting week for such a vessel, a report stating so must be submitted and received by NMFS by midnight of the first Tuesday VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Aug 31, 2011 Jkt 223001 following the end of the reporting week, as instructed by the Regional Administrator. For the purposes of this paragraph (f)(2)(i), the date when fish are offloaded will establish the reporting week or month that the Fishing Vessel Trip Report must be submitted to NMFS, as appropriate. Any fishing activity during a particular reporting week (i.e., starting a trip, landing, or offloading catch) will constitute fishing during that reporting week and will eliminate the need to submit a negative fishing report to NMFS for that reporting week. For example, if a vessel PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 54391 issued a NE multispecies or Atlantic herring permit begins a fishing trip on Wednesday, but returns to port and offloads its catch on the following Thursday (i.e., after a trip lasting 8 days), the VTR for the fishing trip would need to be submitted by midnight Tuesday of the third week, but a negative report (i.e., a ‘‘did not fish’’ report) would not be required for either week. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2011–22436 Filed 8–31–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 170 (Thursday, September 1, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54385-54391]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-22436]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 110131079-1521-02]
RIN 0648-BA79


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring 
Fishery; Regulatory Amendment

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS revises the reporting requirements for vessels issued 
Atlantic herring (herring) permits, because more timely catch 
information is necessary to monitor herring catch against the stock-
wide herring annual catch limit (ACL) and herring management area sub-
ACLs, to help prevent sub-ACLs overages and the chance of premature 
fishery closures. This action requires limited access herring vessels 
to report catch daily via vessel monitoring systems (VMS), open access 
herring vessels to report catch weekly via the interactive voice 
response (IVR) system, and all herring-permitted vessels to submit 
vessel trip reports (VTRs) weekly.

DATES: Effective September 8, 2011.

ADDRESSES: An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for this 
regulatory amendment; it describes the proposed action and other 
considered alternatives, and provides a thorough analysis of the 
impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of the 
regulatory amendment, including the EA, the Regulatory Impact Review 
(RIR), and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are 
available from: NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The EA/RIR/IRFA is also accessible via the 
Internet at http://www.nero.nmfs.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
rule should be submitted to NMFS, at the address above, and to the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by e-mail at OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, 978-281-9272, fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The herring fishery in the United States is managed by a fishery 
management plan (FMP) developed by the New England Fishery Management 
Council (Council), and implemented by NMFS, in 2000. The harvest of 
herring is managed by a stock-wide ACL that is divided among three 
management areas, one of which has two sub-areas. Area 1 is located in 
the Gulf of Maine and is divided into an inshore section (Area 1A) and 
an offshore section (Area 1B). Area 2 is located in the coastal waters 
between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 is on Georges 
Bank. In order to monitor catch against management area quota 
allocations (i.e., sub-ACLs), reporting requirements for the herring 
fishery were implemented as part of the original Herring FMP in 2000, 
and are specified at Sec.  648.7. This action revises catch reporting 
requirements for owners/operators of vessels issued herring permits. A 
proposed rule revising reporting requirements for the herring fishery 
was published on June 15, 2011 (75 FR 34947), with a comment period 
ending June 30, 2011. Because the proposed rule included detailed 
information on the background and rationale for the revised reporting 
requirements, that information is only briefly summarized in this final 
rule.
    Fishing year 2010 was the first year that NMFS monitored herring 
catch against recently reduced herring management area allocations 
(reduced from 2009 levels by 20 to 60 percent). When catch is projected 
to reach 95 percent of a management area sub-ACL, NMFS implements a 
2,000-lb (907.2-kg) possession limit for that management area, 
essentially closing that area to the directed herring fishery, to 
prevent the sub-ACL from being exceeded. In 2010, NMFS experienced 
difficulty projecting a closure date in Area 1B because of a pulse of 
fishing effort. NMFS had similar difficulties projecting a closure date 
in Area 1A, resulting in premature fishery closures, because bycatch 
rates were highly variable. Preliminary 2010 data indicate that catches 
from Area 1B and Area 1A exceeded their respective allocations. Overage 
determinations, and any subsequent overage deductions, will be 
determined when the 2010 herring catch data are finalized.
    NMFS's monitoring experiences in 2010 illustrated the need for more 
timely catch reporting to better monitor herring catch against 
management area sub-ACLs, help prevent sub-ACL overages, and reduce the 
chance of premature fishery closures. The Council is in the process of 
developing Amendment 5 to the Herring FMP (Amendment 5), which 
considers revisions to catch reporting requirements for the herring 
fishery, but that amendment, if approved, is not anticipated to be 
implemented before 2013. NMFS recognizes the importance of timely catch 
information to monitor herring catch against management areas sub-ACLs 
in 2011 and beyond, as well as to help catch achieve, but not exceed, 
sub-ACLs. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(MSA) section 402(a)(2), in conjunction with regulations at Sec.  
648.7, provide NMFS with the authority to revise fishery reporting 
requirements as necessary to monitor a FMP. Therefore, in this action, 
NMFS requires that: Limited access herring vessels report herring catch 
daily via VMS; open access herring vessels report catch weekly via IVR; 
and all herring-permitted vessels submit VTRs weekly.

Reporting Requirements for Limited Access Herring Vessels

    To ensure timely catch data are available to better inform 
management decisions, NMFS requires owners/operators of vessels issued 
limited access herring permits to report herring catch, retained and 
discarded, daily via VMS. Daily catch reports would include the 
following information: Vessel name; VTR serial number; date; and the 
amount of herring retained and discarded from each management area. 
During a declared herring trip, catch reports would be required to be 
submitted via VMS by 9 a.m., eastern time, for herring caught the 
previous calendar day (0000-2400 hr). If no fish were caught on a 
particular day during

[[Page 54386]]

the trip, a negative report (0 lb) would be submitted.
    In this action, NMFS also requires owners/operators of vessels 
issued limited access herring permits to submit VTRs on a weekly basis. 
VTRs would be due by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the 
previous week (Sunday-Saturday). This requirement would increase the 
frequency of information reporting from status quo, but the required 
content of the VTR would be unchanged.

Reporting Requirements for Open Access Herring Vessels

    In an effort to simplify reporting requirements, to improve the 
timeliness of herring catch data, and to more efficiently apportion 
catch to management areas, NMFS requires owners/operators of vessels 
issued open access herring permits to report catch, retained and 
discarded, weekly via the IVR system. An IVR report would be required 
by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for any herring caught the 
previous week (Sunday-Saturday). If no herring was caught during a 
week, no IVR report would be required.
    Consistent with the VTR requirements for limited access vessels, 
NMFS requires owners/operators of vessels issued open access herring 
permits be required to submit VTRs on a weekly basis. VTRs would be due 
by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week (Sunday-
Saturday). This requirement would increase the frequency of information 
reporting from status quo, but the required content of the VTR would be 
unchanged.

Comments and Responses

    Seven comment letters were received on the proposed rule for this 
action; one from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 
(ASMFC), two from herring fishing organizations (Lunds Fisheries Inc., 
O'Hara Corporation/Starlight Inc.), one from a fishing/environmental 
organization (CHOIR Coalition), one from an environmental advocacy 
group (Herring Alliance), one from the State of Maine, and one from a 
member of the public. All commenters expressed general support for the 
proposed measures because they think the measures will improve catch 
monitoring, but several commenters qualified their support with 
recommendations for revisions to the proposed measures.
    Comment 1: The ASMFC supported measures in the proposed rule, 
because daily reporting will reduce the chance of premature closures 
and overages, which increase operational costs and reduce market 
stability, with little change to reporting burden. The ASMFC also 
commented that VMS reporting has been used successfully in the 
Northeast multispecies fishery, and that it is pleased to see 
consistent requirements for the herring fishery.
    Response: While this action does increase the reporting burden on 
owners/operators of vessels issued herring permit, NMFS believes that 
the potential benefits of more frequent reporting, such as the 
decreased likelihood of sub-ACL overages and premature fishery 
closures, justifies the increase in reporting burden.
    Comment 2: A member of the public commented that the proposed 
measures will allow for better enforcement of the ACL and more 
accountability and efficiency to herring monitoring with little change 
to the reporting burden on vessels.
    Response: See response to Comment 1.
    Comment 3: The Herring Alliance and CHOIR both expressed support 
for more timely catch reporting in the herring fishery, but believe 
this action is only an interim step, and that there is still a need to 
develop a comprehensive monitoring system, including independent, 
third-party monitoring, in Amendment 5.
    Response: This action is intended to address the specific need for 
more timely catch reporting while Amendment 5 is being developed and 
implemented.
    Comment 4: The Herring Alliance and CHOIR both commented that 
weekly IVR reporting is unnecessary for vessels issued open access 
permits. The Herring Alliance explained that, because open access 
vessels catch less than 1 percent of the herring harvest and contribute 
little to the problem of pulse fishing activities, simply requiring 
weekly VTRs seems sufficient to monitor herring catch from open access 
vessels. The Herring Alliance commented that the IVR system is reported 
to be complex, unreliable, and challenging. But it also suggested 
maintaining the current IVR requirement (i.e., open access vessels 
submit weekly IVR reports only if catch is equal to or greater than 
2,000 lb (907.2 kg) on a trip) rather than requiring open access 
vessels to report all catch weekly via IVR. Because the catch from open 
access vessels is only a percentage of the herring harvest, CHOIR 
commented that requiring weekly IVR reports from all open access 
vessels would lead to a large amount of reporting confusion for little 
benefit to herring management.
    Response: VTRs do not allow herring catch to be reported by herring 
management area; instead, VTR catch information must be apportioned to 
management area using latitude and longitude. Given that these vessels 
land a low percentage of the total herring catch, it would create 
needless work to process a large amount of VTRs weekly. Therefore, at 
this time, IVR reporting is the most efficient and timely way to track 
the catch of open access vessels against management area sub-ACLs. In 
addition, there has been confusion with the existing 2,000-lb (907.2-
kg) IVR reporting trigger (i.e., is it a trip limit or a weekly 
limit?); and this misunderstanding likely affected IVR reporting 
compliance. This action simplifies the IVR reporting requirement by 
requiring a report if any herring are caught. If weekly IVR reporting 
by open access vessels proves to be unnecessary, the weekly IVR 
reporting requirement can be modified or eliminated in a future action.
    Comment 5: Lunds opposed the proposed measures requiring open 
access vessels to report weekly via IVR and exempting open access 
vessels from submitting an IVR report if no fish were caught during a 
week. Instead, Lunds proposed that open access vessels be required to 
operate a VMS and submit daily VMS catch reports when they are 
directing fishing effort on herring.
    Response: Currently, the Herring FMP does not require vessels with 
open access herring permits to operate a VMS, but many of these vessels 
possess a VMS as a result of other permit requirements. Because open 
access vessels catch such a small percentage of the total herring 
harvest, requiring open access vessels to obtain/operate a VMS and 
submit daily VMS catch reports was not considered in this action. At 
this time, NMFS believes that VMS catch reporting by limited access 
vessels and weekly IVR reporting by open assess vessels is the most 
efficient and cost effective way to monitor catch in the herring 
fishery.
    Comment 6: Lunds, O'Hara/Starlight, and the State of Maine 
supported the proposed measure requiring daily VMS reporting for 
limited access vessels, but opposed the proposed 0900 hr reporting 
deadline and recommend that the reporting deadline be delayed until 
later in the day. The commenters explained that mornings are a busy 
time on the docks and vessels are often offloading their catch at 0900 
hr. If the reporting deadline was later in the day (Lunds and O'Hara/
Starlight recommended 1700 hr; the State of Maine recommended 1500 hr), 
vessels could complete their offloads before the catch reports were 
due, thereby improving the accuracy of catch reports and

[[Page 54387]]

compliance with the reporting requirement.
    Response: The daily VMS catch report is intended to be a hail 
weight of the previous day's catch. Throughout a trip, limited access 
vessels will be submitting hail weights via VMS for each day's catch. 
The methods used to estimate a hail weight for the last day of a 
fishing trip should be similar to the methods used to estimate catch on 
the previous days. Vessels are not expected to verify catch estimates 
with offload information, and reporting need not occur at 0900 hr, it 
can occur any time between 0000 and 0900 hr. Additionally, as herring 
catch approaches management area sub-ACLs, daily adjustments to catch 
projections will likely be necessary. If catch reports are not due 
until the afternoon, catch projections will not include the previous 
day's catch. Because herring catch can be highly variable, catch 
projections incorporating the previous day's catch will likely be 
better at preventing overages and premature fishery closures.
    Comment 7: Lunds commented that, if technological issues prevent a 
vessel from submitting a catch report, particularly while at sea, 
provisions should be made so that the report can be delayed without 
penalty.
    Response: Rather than modify the regulations, any penalty for a 
delay in reporting should remain at the discretion of the NMFS Office 
of Law Enforcement, which can take extenuating circumstances, such as 
those described by the commenter, into account.
    Comment 8: Lunds also commented that if a sub-ACL overage occurs, 
the amount of the overage should not be subsequently deducted from the 
corresponding sub-ACL unless the stock-wide herring ACL has been 
exceeded, consistent with accountability measures (AMs) for the 
Atlantic scallop fishery.
    Response: Amendment 4 to the Herring FMP established an AM that 
provides for overage deductions. Once the total catch of herring for a 
fishing year is determined, using all available information, any ACL or 
sub-ACL overage would result in a reduction of the corresponding ACL/
sub-ACL the following year. Adjusting this AM is beyond the scope of 
this rulemaking and would require action by the Council.
    Comment 9: Because 2010 catch data for the herring fishery have not 
yet been finalized, the State of Maine questioned language in the 
proposed rule stating that 2010 herring catch exceeded quota 
allocations for Areas 1A and 1B, and that those overages will be 
deducted from the corresponding sub-ACLs in 2012.
    Response: Preliminary NMFS data indicate that catch exceeded quota 
allocations for Areas 1A and 1B in 2010. Any overage determinations, 
and any subsequent overage deductions, will be determined when NMFS 
finalizes the 2010 herring catch data.
    Comment 10: The Herring Alliance commented that, because herring 
discards are not adequately tracked against management area sub-ACLs, 
this action should implement a real-time protocol to use observer data 
to calculate a fishery-wide discard estimate and measures to address 
catch that is discarded without first being made available to the 
observer for sampling.
    Response: Vessels with herring permits report herring catch (i.e., 
retained and discarded) by management area and that catch is tracked 
against area sub-ACLs. With this action, limited access vessels will be 
reporting discards daily, rather than weekly, and open access vessels 
will be reporting discards weekly, rather than monthly. Measures to 
address catch that is discarded without being sampled by an observer 
are beyond the scope of this rulemaking, but such measures are being 
considered in Amendment 5.
    Comment 11: The Herring Alliance commented that tracking catch from 
vessels fishing near and across management area boundaries is a 
monitoring challenge. Because vessels report herring catch by 
management area, the Herring Alliance is concerned about the potential 
for reporting confusion when vessels fish across management boundaries 
and in multiple management areas. Because inshore sub-ACLs are smaller 
than offshore sub-ACLs, Herring Alliance believes there may also be 
incentives for misreporting. The Herring Alliance recommends that VMS 
information be used to verify vessel catch reports and consider 
prohibiting towing across area boundaries.
    Response: NMFS currently uses VMS information to verify vessel 
catch reports. Prohibiting fishing in multiple management areas was 
beyond the scope of this action, but those measures could be considered 
in Amendment 5.
    Comment 12: The Herring Alliance commented that measures should 
have been included in this action to improve the tracking of groundfish 
caught by herring vessels fishing in groundfish closed areas by 
requiring vessels with Category A and Category B limited access herring 
permits to report groundfish catch daily via VMS.
    Response: This action addresses the need for more frequent 
reporting of herring. The Northeast Multispecies (Multispecies) FMP 
contains measures for monitoring the catch of groundfish species, and 
revising those measures is beyond the scope of this action. Revisions 
to haddock reporting requirements for herring vessels fishing with 
midwater trawl gear are currently being considered in Framework 46 to 
the Multispecies FMP (Framework 46), and requirements for herring 
vessels fishing in groundfish closed areas are being considered in 
Amendment 5.
    Comment 13: The Herring Alliance commented that the EA for this 
action does not adequately analyze the effect of the herring fishery on 
non-target stocks and contains incorrect stock status information for 
Atlantic mackerel (mackerel).
    Response: This action is administrative and is not anticipated to 
result in changes in effort or fishing behavior beyond those analyzed 
as part of the 2010-2012 herring specifications. The analysis of non-
target stocks in the EA is consistent with the scope of an 
administrative action. Framework 46 considers haddock bycatch in the 
herring fishery and Amendment 5 considers groundfish and river herring/
shad bycatch in the herring fishery. In Section 3.1.2 of the EA, the 
status of mackerel is listed as not overfished and not subject to 
overfishing. This information is consistent with mackerel stock status 
described in the quarterly updates for the 2010 Report on the Status of 
U.S. Fisheries.
    Comment 14: The Herring Alliance commented that the requirements 
for declaring into the herring fishery, and those associated with being 
on a declared herring trip, are unclear.
    Response: On January 22, 2010, NMFS issued a permit holder letter 
that provided guidance on declaring into the herring fishery and being 
on a declared herring trip. The letter explained that, if a vessel has 
been issued a limited access herring permit, a vessel representative 
must activate the VMS and declare that the vessel is participating in 
the herring fishery, by entering the code ``HER'' prior to leaving 
port, otherwise that vessel may not harvest, possess, or land herring 
on that trip. This guidance will also be provided in the compliance 
guide for this action.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes from the proposed rule.

Classification

    The Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, determined that this 
regulatory

[[Page 54388]]

amendment is necessary for the conservation and management of the 
herring fishery and that it is consistent with the MSA and other 
applicable law.
    There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness for this rule and establish an effective date 7 
days after publication in the Federal Register. Fishing year 2010 was 
the first year that NMFS monitored herring catch against recently 
reduced herring management area quota allocations (reduced from 2009 
levels by 20 to 60 percent). That year, a pulse of fishing effort in 
Area 1B made it difficult to project a closure date. NMFS had similar 
difficulties projecting a closure date in Area 1A, resulting in 
premature fishery closures, because catch rates were highly variable. 
Catch information needs to be available quickly to help prevent 
overages and reduce the likelihood of premature fishery closures. 
Premature fishing closures unnecessarily interrupt fishing and 
processing operations and likely result in increased operational costs 
to the industry, contrary to public interest. Preliminary data indicate 
that catch from Areas 1A and 1B exceeded their respective allocations. 
If catch did exceed area allocations, those overages will need to be 
deducted from the corresponding sub-ACLs in 2012. Overages in any 
management area can be detrimental to both the fish stock and the 
fishery and, therefore, also contrary to public interest. Herring is a 
relatively long-lived species (over 10 years) and multiple year classes 
are harvested by the fishery (typically ages 2 through 6x). These 
characteristics suggest that the herring stock may be robust to overage 
deductions. However, the health of a stock, size of an overage, and the 
frequency of overages could combine to affect the stock in the future. 
Additionally, overages result in lower sub-ACLs, thus harming the 
industry by reducing potential profits. To help prevent sub-ACL 
overages, subsequent sub-ACL deductions, and premature fishery 
closures, these reporting requirements need to be effective before the 
fishery becomes active in September 2011. This action revises the 
method and frequency of reporting, but maintains the content of 
existing reporting requirements.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The 
FRFA incorporates the IRFA and analyses contained in this regulatory 
amendment and its accompanying EA/RIR/IRFA. Copies of these analyses 
are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

Statement of Need

    This action is necessary because more timely catch information is 
needed to monitor herring catch against the stock-wide herring ACL and 
herring management area sub-ACLs, to help prevent sub-ACLs overages, 
and reduce the chance of premature fishery closures. A description of 
the action, why it was considered, and the legal authority for the 
action is contained in the preamble and not repeated here.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public Comments in 
Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Assessment of the Agency of Such 
Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Proposed Rule as a 
Result of Such Comments

    Seven comment letters were received during the comment periods on 
the proposed rule, but none of the comments were specifically directed 
to the IRFA.

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

    All participants in the herring fishery are small entities as 
defined by the Small Business Administration's size standards, as none 
grossed more than $4 million annually; therefore, there are no 
disproportionate economic impacts on small entities. In 2010, 42 
vessels were issued Category A herring permits, 4 vessels were issued 
Category B herring permits, 55 vessels were issued Category C herring 
permits, and 2,258 vessels were issued Category D herring permits. A 
complete description of the number of small entities to which this rule 
applies is provided in Section 3.1.5 of this action's EA/RFA/IRFA (see 
ADDRESSES).

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This action contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA). This requirement was submitted to OMB for approval under Control 
Numbers 0648-0202 and 0648-0212. This action does not duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes, Including a Statement of the 
Factual, Policy, and Legal Reasons for Selecting the Alternative 
Adopted in the Final Rule and Why Each One of the Other Significant 
Alternatives to the Rule Considered by the Agency Which Affect the 
Impact on Small Entities Was Rejected

    This action directly affects all participants in the herring 
fishery because it increases the reporting burden for owners/operators 
of vessels issued herring permits. A complete description of the 
economic impacts associated with the proposed action and the non-
selected alternatives is provided in Section 4.3 of action's EA/RFA/
IRFA (see ADDRESSES).
    In developing this rule, NMFS considered three alternatives: The no 
action alternative, which would require weekly IVR reporting by limited 
access vessels, weekly IVR reporting by open access vessels with catch 
equal to or greater than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) on a trip, and monthly VTR 
reports from all herring-permitted vessels; this action, which requires 
daily VMS reporting by limited access vessels, weekly IVR reporting by 
open access vessels, and weekly VTR reports from all herring-permitted 
vessels; and a non-selected action alternative, which would require 
both limited access and open access-permitted vessels to provide NMFS 
with trip-by-trip IVR reports and weekly VTR reports.
    This action increases reporting costs for herring fishery 
participants. VMS reporting and the submission of VTRs have a direct 
cost associated with the submission of the report. The cost of 
transmitting a catch report via VMS is $0.60 per transmission. In 2010, 
the average number of fishing days for a limited access herring vessel 
was 93. Therefore, the annual cost of daily VMS reporting is estimated 
to be $55.80 per vessel. The estimated annual VMS reporting burden 
(i.e., time) is the submission of 93 reports per limited access vessel. 
Because the IVR system phone number is toll-free, there is no direct 
cost associated with reporting via the IVR system. The estimated annual 
IVR reporting burden is the submission of 52 reports per open access 
vessel. Additionally, this action requires weekly VTR submissions, 
which cost each vessel $17.60 annually. This cost was calculated by 
multiplying 40 (52 weeks in a year minus 12 (number of monthly 
reports)) by $0.44 (cost of a

[[Page 54389]]

postage stamp) to equal $17.60). The annual VTR reporting burden is the 
submission of 52 reports per vessel.
    Adding these costs together, this action is estimated to have an 
annual increased reporting cost of approximately $73.40 per limited 
access herring vessel (submission of 145 VMS reports and VTRs), and 
approximately $17.60 per open access herring vessel (submission of 104 
IVR reports and VTRs). The ex-vessel value of the herring fishery 
varies by permit category. For limited access vessels, this action 
increases reporting costs by less than 1.8 percent of the average ex-
vessel value of the fishery (2008-2010). For vessels with open access 
herring permits, this action increases reporting costs by 7.2 percent 
of the average ex-vessel herring value. While the increased reporting 
costs associated with this action may seem high for open access 
vessels, open access vessels typically operate in several fisheries and 
revenue from herring catch is likely only a small portion of their 
total ex-vessel value. Additionally, the majority of vessels issued 
open access herring permits (92 percent) are already paying these 
increased reporting costs, because they also possess a Northeast 
multispecies permit that requires weekly submission of VTRs, so they 
will not experience an increase in overall costs.
    Under this action, catch data are updated more frequently and will 
likely better inform catch projections. If catch projections are less 
uncertain, ACL/sub-ACL overages, and the subsequent overage deduction, 
may become less likely. Additionally, the fleet may be allowed to 
harvest up to the 95 percent sub-ACL closure threshold without the 
management area being prematurely closed and herring potentially left 
unharvested. For limited access vessels, reporting via VMS is more 
flexible (reports can be made from sea or from land) than reporting via 
IVR (reports usually made only from land). For open access vessels, 
reporting weekly rather than trip-by-trip still provides timely catch 
data, but likely results in a lower reporting burden. For these 
reasons, there may be indirect positive impacts for fishery 
participants associated with this action.
    As compared to this action, the reporting burden under the no 
action alternative would be less. The no action alternative would 
require weekly reporting via IVR for limited access vessels, weekly 
reporting via IVR for open access vessels when catch was greater than 
2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip, and monthly submission of VTRs for all 
vessels issued herring permits. Because the IVR system phone number is 
toll-free, there is no direct cost associated with reporting via the 
IVR system. The no action alternative is estimated to have an annual 
reporting cost of approximately $5.28 per limited access herring vessel 
(submission of 64 reports) and approximately $5.28 per open access 
herring vessel (submission of 19 reports). Under the no action 
alternative, there is the possibility that catch data may not be timely 
enough to inform catch projections increasing the likelihood of either 
an ACL/sub-ACL overage or a premature implementation of a reduced 
possession limit. Because of issues with phone reception, reporting via 
IVR is often not possible while at sea. Therefore, reporting for 
limited access vessels would be less flexible under the no action 
alternative than under this action. For these reasons, there may be 
indirect negative economic impacts to fishery participants resulting 
from the no action alternative, including overage deductions, increased 
operational costs if fishing activities are interrupted by a premature 
closure, and the potential risk that a premature closure may result in 
a percentage of a management area sub-ACL left unharvested.
    The reporting burden under the non-selected action alternative 
would be less costly than reporting under this action (because IVR is 
less costly than VMS), but the number of reports submitted may be 
higher than under this action (because trip-by-trip reporting would 
likely result in the submission of more reports than weekly reporting). 
The non-selected action alternative would require trip-by-trip 
reporting via IVR and weekly submission of VTRs for all vessels issued 
herring permits. The non-selected action alternative is estimated to 
have an annual reporting cost of approximately $17.60 per herring 
vessel. Because trips can vary in length from 1 day to several days, 
the frequency of trip-by-trip reporting would be variable. Under the 
non-selected action alternative, IVR reporting and weekly VTR 
submission would result in a minimum annual submission of 104 reports 
per vessel. The ex-vessel value of the herring fishery varies by permit 
category. For limited access vessels, the non-selected action 
alternative would have increased reporting costs that are less than 
0.0007 percent of the average ex-vessel value of the fishery (2008-
2010). The non-selected action alternative would have increased 
reporting costs of 7.2 percent of the average ex-vessel value of the 
herring fishery for open access vessels. While the increased reporting 
costs associated with the non-selected action alternative may seem high 
for open access vessels, open assess vessels typically operate in 
several fisheries and revenue from herring catch is likely only a small 
portion of their total ex-vessel value. Additionally, the majority of 
vessels issued open access herring permits (92 percent) are already 
paying these increased reporting costs, because they also possess a 
Northeast multispecies permit that requires weekly submission of VTRs.
    Similar to this action, catch data under the non-selected action 
alternative would be updated frequently and would likely be sufficient 
to inform catch projections. If catch projections contained less 
uncertainty, ACL/sub-ACL overages, and the subsequent overage 
deduction, may be less likely. Additionally, the fleet may be allowed 
to harvest up to the 95-percent sub-ACL closure threshold without the 
management area being prematurely closed and herring potentially left 
unharvested. For limited access vessels, reporting via IVR is less 
flexible than reporting via VMS, so reporting for limited access 
vessels would be less flexible under the non-selected action 
alternative than under this action. For these reasons, there may be 
both indirect positive and indirect negative impacts for fishery 
participants under the non-selected action alternative.
    This final rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been 
approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control 
numbers 0648-0202 and 0648-0212. Public reporting burden for catch 
reporting is estimated to average 5 min per individual per VMS 
response, 7 min per individual per IVR response, and 5 min per 
individual per VTR response, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection information.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the Agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on 
these, or any other aspects of the collection of information, to NMFS,

[[Page 54390]]

Northeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and to the OMB by e-mail at 
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: August 26, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.7, paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (f)(2)(i) are revised, and 
paragraph (b)(3) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.7  Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators issued an open access 
permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued an open access permit 
to fish for herring must report catch (retained and discarded) of 
herring to an IVR system for each week herring was caught, unless 
exempted by the Regional Administrator. IVR reports are not required 
for weeks when no herring was caught. The report shall include at least 
the following information, and any other information required by the 
Regional Administrator: Vessel identification; week in which herring 
are caught; management areas fished; and pounds retained and pounds 
discarded of herring caught in each management area. The IVR reporting 
week begins on Sunday at 0001 hr (12:01 a.m.) local time and ends 
Saturday at 2400 hr (12 midnight). Weekly Atlantic herring catch 
reports must be submitted via the IVR system by midnight each Tuesday, 
eastern time, for the previous week. Reports are required even if 
herring caught during the week has not yet been landed. This report 
does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable reporting 
requirements of this section.
    (A) Atlantic herring IVR reports are not required from Atlantic 
herring carrier vessels.
    (B) Reporting requirements for vessels transferring herring at sea. 
A vessel that transfers herring at sea must comply with these 
requirements in addition to those specified at Sec.  648.13(f).
    (1) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to a vessel that 
receives it for personal use as bait must report all transfers on the 
Fishing Vessel Trip Report.
    (2) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an authorized carrier 
vessel must report all transfers weekly via the IVR system and must 
report all transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the 
vessel offloads to the carrier vessel is defined as a trip for the 
purposes of reporting requirements and possession allowances.
    (3) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an at-sea processor 
must report all transfers weekly via the IVR system and must report all 
transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel 
offloads to the at-sea processing vessel is defined as a trip for the 
purposes of the reporting requirements and possession allowances. For 
each trip, the vessel must submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and the 
at-sea processing vessel must submit the detailed dealer report 
specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
    (4) A transfer between two vessels issued open access permits 
requires each vessel to submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report, filled out 
as required by the LOA to transfer herring at sea, and a weekly IVR 
report for the amount of herring each vessel lands.
* * * * *
    (3) VMS Catch Reports. (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators 
issued a limited access permit. The owner or operator of a vessel 
issued a limited access permit to fish for herring must report catches 
(retained and discarded) of herring daily via VMS, unless exempted by 
the Regional Administrator. The report shall include at least the 
following information, and any other information required by the 
Regional Administrator: Fishing Vessel Trip Report serial number; month 
and day herring was caught; pounds retained for each herring management 
area; and pounds discarded for each herring management area. Daily 
Atlantic herring VMS catch reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals 
for each day and must be submitted by 0900 hr of the following day. 
Reports are required even if herring caught that day has not yet been 
landed. This report does not exempt the owner or operator from other 
applicable reporting requirements of this section.
    (A) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a limited access 
herring permit must submit an Atlantic herring catch report via VMS 
each day, regardless of how much herring is caught (including days when 
no herring is caught), unless exempted from this requirement by the 
Regional Administrator.
    (B) Atlantic herring VMS reports are not required from Atlantic 
herring carrier vessels.
    (C) Reporting requirements for vessels transferring herring at sea. 
The owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access permit to 
fish for herring that transfers herring at sea must comply with these 
requirements in addition to those specified at Sec.  648.13(f).
    (1) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to a vessel that 
receives it for personal use as bait must report all transfers on the 
Fishing Vessel Trip Report.
    (2) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an authorized carrier 
vessel must report all catch daily via VMS and must report all 
transfers on the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel 
offloads to the carrier vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of 
reporting requirements and possession allowances.
    (3) A vessel that transfers herring at sea to an at-sea processor 
must report all catch daily via VMS and must report all transfers on 
the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. Each time the vessel offloads to the 
at-sea processing vessel is defined as a trip for the purposes of the 
reporting requirements and possession allowances. For each trip, the 
vessel must submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and the at-sea 
processing vessel must submit the detailed dealer report specified in 
paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
    (4) A transfer between two vessels issued limited access permits 
requires each vessel to submit a Fishing Vessel Trip Report, filled out 
as required by the LOA to transfer herring at sea, and a daily VMS 
catch report for the amount of herring each vessel catches.
    (ii) [Reserved]
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) For any vessel not issued a NE multispecies or Atlantic herring 
permit, fishing vessel log reports, required by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of 
this section, must be postmarked or received by NMFS

[[Page 54391]]

within 15 days after the end of the reporting month. If no fishing trip 
is made during a particular month for such a vessel, a report stating 
so must be submitted, as instructed by the Regional Administrator. For 
any vessel issued a NE multispecies or Atlantic herring permit, Fishing 
Vessel Trip Reports must be postmarked or received by midnight of the 
first Tuesday following the end of the reporting week. If no fishing 
trip is made during a reporting week for such a vessel, a report 
stating so must be submitted and received by NMFS by midnight of the 
first Tuesday following the end of the reporting week, as instructed by 
the Regional Administrator. For the purposes of this paragraph 
(f)(2)(i), the date when fish are offloaded will establish the 
reporting week or month that the Fishing Vessel Trip Report must be 
submitted to NMFS, as appropriate. Any fishing activity during a 
particular reporting week (i.e., starting a trip, landing, or 
offloading catch) will constitute fishing during that reporting week 
and will eliminate the need to submit a negative fishing report to NMFS 
for that reporting week. For example, if a vessel issued a NE 
multispecies or Atlantic herring permit begins a fishing trip on 
Wednesday, but returns to port and offloads its catch on the following 
Thursday (i.e., after a trip lasting 8 days), the VTR for the fishing 
trip would need to be submitted by midnight Tuesday of the third week, 
but a negative report (i.e., a ``did not fish'' report) would not be 
required for either week.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-22436 Filed 8-31-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P