Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Changes to Vessel Replacement and Upgrade Provisions for Fishing Vessels Issued Limited Access Federal Fishery Permits, 61661-61663 [2011-25746]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Proposed Rules Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.101 related to cost or pricing data. Included within the definition of ‘‘data other than certified cost or pricing data’’ is a statement that such data may include the identical types of data as ‘‘certified cost or pricing data,’’ but without the certification. Thus, the definitions of both ‘‘certified cost or pricing data’’ and ‘‘data other than certified cost or pricing data’’ refer to cost or pricing data. required. Finally, this rule does not have a significant effect on a substantial number of small entities because small businesses are exempt from the application of the Cost Accounting Standards. Therefore, this proposed rule does not require a regulatory flexibility analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. Chapter 6. C. Conclusion The CAS Board believes the August 30, 2010 revisions to FAR 2.101 may cause some confusion over the applicability of CAS in view of the current wording of the (b)(15) FFP exemption. Consistent with Section 802, it has not been the CAS Board’s intent to apply CAS to FFP contracts or subcontracts awarded on the basis of adequate price competition where certified cost or pricing data was not obtained. Therefore, the CAS Board is considering a proposed change to the wording of the (b)(15) FFP exemption. Cost accounting standards, Government procurement. List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 9903 Daniel I. Gordon, Chair, Cost Accounting Standards Board. For the reasons set forth in this preamble, chapter 99 of Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations is proposed to be amended as set forth below: PART 9903—CONTRACT COVERAGE 1. The authority citation for Part 9903 continues to read as follows: Authority: Public Law 111–350, 124 Stat. 3677, 41 U.S.C. 1502. jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS D. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, Subchapter I) does not apply to this rulemaking, because this rule imposes no additional paperwork burden on offerors, affected contractors and subcontractors, or members of the public which requires the approval of OMB under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq. The purpose of this proposed rule is to clarify the implementation of the ‘‘Streamlined Applicability of Cost Accounting Standards’’ at Section 802 of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000. SUBPART 9903.2—CAS PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS E. Executive Order 12866, the Congressional Review Act, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act This rule serves to clarify the elimination of certain administrative requirements associated with the application and administration of the Cost Accounting Standards by covered Government contractors and subcontractors, consistent with the provisions of ‘‘Streamlined Applicability of Cost Accounting Standards’’ at Section 802 of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000. The economic impact on contractors and subcontractors is, therefore, expected to be minor. As a result, the CAS Board has determined that this proposed rule will not result in the promulgation of an ‘‘economically significant rule’’ under the provisions of Executive Order 12866, and that a regulatory impact analysis will not be BILLING CODE P VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:06 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 2. Section 9903.201–1 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(15) to read as follows: 9903.201–1 CAS applicability. * * * * * (b) * * * (15) Firm-fixed-price contracts or subcontracts awarded on the basis of adequate price competition without submission of certified cost or pricing data. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2011–25623 Filed 10–4–11; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 110907562–1598–01] RIN 0648–BB40 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Changes to Vessel Replacement and Upgrade Provisions for Fishing Vessels Issued Limited Access Federal Fishery Permits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 61661 Advance notice of proposed rulemaking. ACTION: NMFS, in consultation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) and the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils), is considering changes to the current system of regulations that limit the potential size of a replacement vessel. This advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) provides background information and requests public comment on the administrative and financial burdens of the current system, as well as on what type of changes would be appropriate to reduce that burden and the regulatory complexity without adversely affecting the fishery. NMFS will consider all recommendations received in response to this ANPR prior to any proposed rulemaking. SUMMARY: Comments must be received on or before December 5, 2011. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2011–0213, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, and then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011– 0213 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail and hand delivery: Submit written comments to Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: ‘‘Comments on Vessel Upgrade ANPR.’’ • Fax: (978) 281–9135. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected DATES: E:\FR\FM\05OCP1.SGM 05OCP1 61662 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Proposed Rules information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9341, fax (978) 281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Background Measures to limit the potential size of a replacement vessel were first implemented in the Northeast Region in 1994 in conjunction with the adoption of limited access permits in the Northeast Multispecies and Atlantic Scallop Fishery Management Plans (FMP). NMFS enacted these measures to promote conservation of the fish species by limiting the potential increase in fishing capacity of the fleet and thereby maintaining total fishing mortality within the requirements of the respective rebuilding schedule of the FMP. In the following years, NMFS adopted limited access permits for other fisheries in the Northeast, some of which included various restrictions on how a permitted vessel could be replaced. In 1999, an omnibus amendment (Consistency Amendment) to all the FMPs of the Councils was implemented (64 FR 8263, February 19, 1999) to expand and standardize the upgrade restrictions to encompass most of the limited access fisheries in the Northeast. The current regulations restrict the size and horsepower of any replacement vessel, or modifications to the current vessel, based on the specifications of a baseline vessel. The baseline vessel for each limited access permit is typically the first vessel issued the limited access permit in that fishery at the time that permit was issued. In the case of fisheries that adopted baseline restrictions through the Consistency Amendment, the permitted vessel as of the date of the final rule’s implementation sets the baseline. In some cases, this methodology resulted in a single vessel with permits for multiple fisheries having more than one baseline. In that situation, the most restrictive combination of baseline specifications applies, unless the vessel owner chooses to relinquish permanently the permit with the more restrictive baseline(s). Current regulations allow vessel owners to increase (or upgrade) a specification either by moving the limited access permit to a new vessel or by modifying the current vessel, up to VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:06 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 10 percent above of the baseline vessel’s length overall, gross registered tonnage, and net tonnage and up to 20 percent above the baseline vessel’s horsepower. As a matter of NMFS policy, all calculated maximum upgrade values are rounded up to the next whole number. The baseline size and horsepower specifications associated with a permit can only be upgraded once, although the vessel size characteristics (length overall, gross registered tonnage, and net tonnage) and engine horsepower can be upgraded at different times. For example, a vessel owner looking to replace his current vessel, which has a baseline engine horsepower of 300, may, if the horsepower on that permit was not upgraded before, move it to a vessel with up to 360 horsepower (20 percent greater than the 300-horsepower baseline). If the owner opts for a new vessel with a 340-horsepower engine, that action counts as the one-time upgrade, and any future replacement vessel could not exceed that new 340horsepower maximum limit. The baseline size characteristics can be upgraded through this same vessel replacement or used another time. However, since size characteristics are upgraded as a group, if the baseline length overall is upgraded but not the gross and net tonnages, the baseline tonnage specifications cannot be upgraded in the future. When a vessel owner wants to move a limited access Federal fishery permit to a replacement vessel, as part of the application he must provide documentation from a third party to demonstrate that the length, gross registered tonnage, net tonnage, and horsepower are within the limits for that permit. Many vessels use the U.S. Coast Guard vessel documentation certificate for length and tonnages, although the documentation certificate should then reflect the length overall as required by NMFS regulation, rather than the typical registered length. Vessels that are not documented by the U.S. Coast Guard must provide other documentation for vessel size. Obtaining vessel specification documents may involve the time and expense of having the new vessel measured by a marine surveyor or other qualified individual. Engine horsepower documentation may require testing by a marine mechanic and documentation of the results on formal letterhead. On the other hand, all of this information might be routinely obtained for other purposes (e.g., for insurance coverage) and it could be a minimal additional cost to provide copies as part of a permit transfer application. The cost of documenting vessel PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 specifications has been previously estimated at $375 for calculating the burden to the public under the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The full cost to the industry of this process is not clear, and the public is encouraged to submit comments on how much of a financial and time burden this process has been. Some members of the fishing industry have reported that it can be difficult to find a suitable replacement vessel within allowed upgrades, especially for small boats. For example, a replacement for a 25-ft (7.6-m) baseline vessel could not exceed 28 ft (8.5 m), and manufacturers may not make vessels in the allowed size range that also meet other specific needs of a vessel owner. Similarly, modern marine engines are manufactured to meet more stringent emissions standards, and horsepower ratings may not be as adjustable as in the past without violating those limits. The safety of a vessel at sea, especially in adverse weather conditions, is affected by many factors, including the size of the vessel. NMFS encourages comments from the public on the availability of suitable replacement vessels, and the impact this has on safety at sea. The primary justification for the adoption of upgrade restrictions was to control the potential increase in catch from each permitted vessel that could occur with increases in vessel size and horsepower and, therefore, to prevent unexpected increases in fishing mortality that could hinder a rebuilding program. Since the initial implementation of vessel upgrade and replacement restrictions, many fisheries have also adopted trip limits or other measures that control the potential harvest of a vessel beyond just restricting vessel size. In addition, the recent adoption in all fisheries of annual catch limits that cap total harvest in a given year may reduce the concern over excessive fishing mortality. In light of these other measures, it is possible that vessel baseline restrictions could be relaxed without adversely affecting stock rebuilding. However, the upgrade restriction is considered one factor that is helping to preserve the small vessel character of the fishing fleet in the Northeast region. Larger and more powerful vessels could also have increased impacts on habitat or bycatch of non-target species. Further, fishery management actions adopted by the coastal states through the Commission may rely on the baseline upgrade restrictions for federally permitted vessels to control harvest potential. These considerations will have to be more fully understood before a change E:\FR\FM\05OCP1.SGM 05OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / Proposed Rules jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS to current regulation can be implemented. A wide range of options could be considered as part of any action to change vessel baseline regulations. NMFS would like public input on the full range of potential actions, including suggestions for other changes to baseline regulations that are not specifically listed in this announcement, such as how to treat vessels that have multiple baselines and/or have already upgraded under the current system. Potential changes may include one or more of the following. 1. Eliminate tonnages from vessel baseline regulations. The tonnages are often considered the most malleable of baseline specifications. The gross registered tonnage can vary significantly depending on whether exact measurements or the simplified calculation method is used. Similarly, net tonnage can be calculated based either on the gross tonnage or from measurements of the vessel, and may be changed by modifying internal bulkheads. Tonnage has also been a concern for owners of vessels built outside of the United States that are determined to be under 5 net tons (14.16 m3) for import purposes. 2. Eliminate the one-time upgrade provision. This would eliminate the incentive to use as much of the available upgrade as possible to avoid ‘‘losing’’ some amount of future upgrade. The change could also simplify upgrade considerations by establishing the VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:06 Oct 04, 2011 Jkt 226001 maximum specifications of any future vessel without needing to know whether any specification has already been upgraded. For example, under this option, if the permit on your vessel has a baseline horsepower specification of 300, and at some point moved to a vessel with 340 horsepower, a future replacement vessel could still be up to 360 horsepower (20 percent greater than the 300-horsepower baseline). 3. Change from a system of fixed upgrades to a system of size classes. This option would allow a vessel owner to move a permit to any vessel that fits within the specified size class. The specifics of this type of change, including the number and size of the size classes, have not been fully developed, and NMFS seeks comment to this end. Specific size classes could be based on vessel length, horsepower, or a combination. Such a system would simplify the vessel replacement considerations by making them uniform for all vessels in a particular size class rather than the current system where potential upgrades are unique to each permit. However, determining specific size classes that are appropriate for all fisheries may be difficult, and such a system might disadvantage vessels that are already at the upper limit of a size class. 4. Remove baseline upgrade restrictions for vessels under 30 ft (9.1 m). The Councils discussed this potential measure in 1998 during the development of the Consistency PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 61663 Amendment, and again in 2003, but took no formal action at either time. This approach would remove the burden on the smallest vessels as long as they stay under 30 ft (9.1 m), but would establish upgrade provisions that are not uniform for all vessels, which might be confusing or seen as unfair. 5. Complete removal of upgrade restrictions. This would allow any vessel owner to move his/her permit to any other vessel. It would provides maximum flexibility to the industry, but would remove the baseline system’s restrictions on fleet structure and would likely have the largest impacts on the fishery and the environment. The long comment period for this ANPR is intended to overlap with meetings of both Councils. While this topic may be discussed at the Council meetings, please submit written comments on the burden of the current vessel baseline system, the potential changes outlined here, or any suggestions for other changes that might be appropriate through one of the methods identified in the ADDRESSES section of this ANPR, to ensure that they are fully considered. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 30, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–25746 Filed 10–4–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\05OCP1.SGM 05OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 193 (Wednesday, October 5, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61661-61663]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25746]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 110907562-1598-01]
RIN 0648-BB40


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Changes to Vessel 
Replacement and Upgrade Provisions for Fishing Vessels Issued Limited 
Access Federal Fishery Permits

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

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS, in consultation with the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission (Commission) and the New England and Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Councils (Councils), is considering changes to the 
current system of regulations that limit the potential size of a 
replacement vessel. This advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) 
provides background information and requests public comment on the 
administrative and financial burdens of the current system, as well as 
on what type of changes would be appropriate to reduce that burden and 
the regulatory complexity without adversely affecting the fishery. NMFS 
will consider all recommendations received in response to this ANPR 
prior to any proposed rulemaking.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2011-0213, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, 
first click the ``submit a comment'' icon, and then enter NOAA-NMFS-
2011-0213 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to 
comment on from the resulting list and click on the ``Submit a 
Comment'' icon on the right of that line.
     Mail and hand delivery: Submit written comments to 
Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional 
Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside 
of the envelope: ``Comments on Vessel Upgrade ANPR.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected

[[Page 61662]]

information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the 
required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to 
electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9341, fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Measures to limit the potential size of a replacement vessel were 
first implemented in the Northeast Region in 1994 in conjunction with 
the adoption of limited access permits in the Northeast Multispecies 
and Atlantic Scallop Fishery Management Plans (FMP). NMFS enacted these 
measures to promote conservation of the fish species by limiting the 
potential increase in fishing capacity of the fleet and thereby 
maintaining total fishing mortality within the requirements of the 
respective rebuilding schedule of the FMP. In the following years, NMFS 
adopted limited access permits for other fisheries in the Northeast, 
some of which included various restrictions on how a permitted vessel 
could be replaced. In 1999, an omnibus amendment (Consistency 
Amendment) to all the FMPs of the Councils was implemented (64 FR 8263, 
February 19, 1999) to expand and standardize the upgrade restrictions 
to encompass most of the limited access fisheries in the Northeast.
    The current regulations restrict the size and horsepower of any 
replacement vessel, or modifications to the current vessel, based on 
the specifications of a baseline vessel. The baseline vessel for each 
limited access permit is typically the first vessel issued the limited 
access permit in that fishery at the time that permit was issued. In 
the case of fisheries that adopted baseline restrictions through the 
Consistency Amendment, the permitted vessel as of the date of the final 
rule's implementation sets the baseline. In some cases, this 
methodology resulted in a single vessel with permits for multiple 
fisheries having more than one baseline. In that situation, the most 
restrictive combination of baseline specifications applies, unless the 
vessel owner chooses to relinquish permanently the permit with the more 
restrictive baseline(s).
    Current regulations allow vessel owners to increase (or upgrade) a 
specification either by moving the limited access permit to a new 
vessel or by modifying the current vessel, up to 10 percent above of 
the baseline vessel's length overall, gross registered tonnage, and net 
tonnage and up to 20 percent above the baseline vessel's horsepower. As 
a matter of NMFS policy, all calculated maximum upgrade values are 
rounded up to the next whole number. The baseline size and horsepower 
specifications associated with a permit can only be upgraded once, 
although the vessel size characteristics (length overall, gross 
registered tonnage, and net tonnage) and engine horsepower can be 
upgraded at different times. For example, a vessel owner looking to 
replace his current vessel, which has a baseline engine horsepower of 
300, may, if the horsepower on that permit was not upgraded before, 
move it to a vessel with up to 360 horsepower (20 percent greater than 
the 300-horsepower baseline). If the owner opts for a new vessel with a 
340-horsepower engine, that action counts as the one-time upgrade, and 
any future replacement vessel could not exceed that new 340-horsepower 
maximum limit. The baseline size characteristics can be upgraded 
through this same vessel replacement or used another time. However, 
since size characteristics are upgraded as a group, if the baseline 
length overall is upgraded but not the gross and net tonnages, the 
baseline tonnage specifications cannot be upgraded in the future.
    When a vessel owner wants to move a limited access Federal fishery 
permit to a replacement vessel, as part of the application he must 
provide documentation from a third party to demonstrate that the 
length, gross registered tonnage, net tonnage, and horsepower are 
within the limits for that permit. Many vessels use the U.S. Coast 
Guard vessel documentation certificate for length and tonnages, 
although the documentation certificate should then reflect the length 
overall as required by NMFS regulation, rather than the typical 
registered length. Vessels that are not documented by the U.S. Coast 
Guard must provide other documentation for vessel size. Obtaining 
vessel specification documents may involve the time and expense of 
having the new vessel measured by a marine surveyor or other qualified 
individual. Engine horsepower documentation may require testing by a 
marine mechanic and documentation of the results on formal letterhead. 
On the other hand, all of this information might be routinely obtained 
for other purposes (e.g., for insurance coverage) and it could be a 
minimal additional cost to provide copies as part of a permit transfer 
application. The cost of documenting vessel specifications has been 
previously estimated at $375 for calculating the burden to the public 
under the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The full cost to 
the industry of this process is not clear, and the public is encouraged 
to submit comments on how much of a financial and time burden this 
process has been.
    Some members of the fishing industry have reported that it can be 
difficult to find a suitable replacement vessel within allowed 
upgrades, especially for small boats. For example, a replacement for a 
25-ft (7.6-m) baseline vessel could not exceed 28 ft (8.5 m), and 
manufacturers may not make vessels in the allowed size range that also 
meet other specific needs of a vessel owner. Similarly, modern marine 
engines are manufactured to meet more stringent emissions standards, 
and horsepower ratings may not be as adjustable as in the past without 
violating those limits. The safety of a vessel at sea, especially in 
adverse weather conditions, is affected by many factors, including the 
size of the vessel. NMFS encourages comments from the public on the 
availability of suitable replacement vessels, and the impact this has 
on safety at sea.
    The primary justification for the adoption of upgrade restrictions 
was to control the potential increase in catch from each permitted 
vessel that could occur with increases in vessel size and horsepower 
and, therefore, to prevent unexpected increases in fishing mortality 
that could hinder a rebuilding program. Since the initial 
implementation of vessel upgrade and replacement restrictions, many 
fisheries have also adopted trip limits or other measures that control 
the potential harvest of a vessel beyond just restricting vessel size. 
In addition, the recent adoption in all fisheries of annual catch 
limits that cap total harvest in a given year may reduce the concern 
over excessive fishing mortality. In light of these other measures, it 
is possible that vessel baseline restrictions could be relaxed without 
adversely affecting stock rebuilding. However, the upgrade restriction 
is considered one factor that is helping to preserve the small vessel 
character of the fishing fleet in the Northeast region. Larger and more 
powerful vessels could also have increased impacts on habitat or 
bycatch of non-target species. Further, fishery management actions 
adopted by the coastal states through the Commission may rely on the 
baseline upgrade restrictions for federally permitted vessels to 
control harvest potential. These considerations will have to be more 
fully understood before a change

[[Page 61663]]

to current regulation can be implemented.
    A wide range of options could be considered as part of any action 
to change vessel baseline regulations. NMFS would like public input on 
the full range of potential actions, including suggestions for other 
changes to baseline regulations that are not specifically listed in 
this announcement, such as how to treat vessels that have multiple 
baselines and/or have already upgraded under the current system. 
Potential changes may include one or more of the following.
    1. Eliminate tonnages from vessel baseline regulations. The 
tonnages are often considered the most malleable of baseline 
specifications. The gross registered tonnage can vary significantly 
depending on whether exact measurements or the simplified calculation 
method is used. Similarly, net tonnage can be calculated based either 
on the gross tonnage or from measurements of the vessel, and may be 
changed by modifying internal bulkheads. Tonnage has also been a 
concern for owners of vessels built outside of the United States that 
are determined to be under 5 net tons (14.16 m\3\) for import purposes.
    2. Eliminate the one-time upgrade provision. This would eliminate 
the incentive to use as much of the available upgrade as possible to 
avoid ``losing'' some amount of future upgrade. The change could also 
simplify upgrade considerations by establishing the maximum 
specifications of any future vessel without needing to know whether any 
specification has already been upgraded. For example, under this 
option, if the permit on your vessel has a baseline horsepower 
specification of 300, and at some point moved to a vessel with 340 
horsepower, a future replacement vessel could still be up to 360 
horsepower (20 percent greater than the 300-horsepower baseline).
    3. Change from a system of fixed upgrades to a system of size 
classes. This option would allow a vessel owner to move a permit to any 
vessel that fits within the specified size class. The specifics of this 
type of change, including the number and size of the size classes, have 
not been fully developed, and NMFS seeks comment to this end. Specific 
size classes could be based on vessel length, horsepower, or a 
combination. Such a system would simplify the vessel replacement 
considerations by making them uniform for all vessels in a particular 
size class rather than the current system where potential upgrades are 
unique to each permit. However, determining specific size classes that 
are appropriate for all fisheries may be difficult, and such a system 
might disadvantage vessels that are already at the upper limit of a 
size class.
    4. Remove baseline upgrade restrictions for vessels under 30 ft 
(9.1 m). The Councils discussed this potential measure in 1998 during 
the development of the Consistency Amendment, and again in 2003, but 
took no formal action at either time. This approach would remove the 
burden on the smallest vessels as long as they stay under 30 ft (9.1 
m), but would establish upgrade provisions that are not uniform for all 
vessels, which might be confusing or seen as unfair.
    5. Complete removal of upgrade restrictions. This would allow any 
vessel owner to move his/her permit to any other vessel. It would 
provides maximum flexibility to the industry, but would remove the 
baseline system's restrictions on fleet structure and would likely have 
the largest impacts on the fishery and the environment.
    The long comment period for this ANPR is intended to overlap with 
meetings of both Councils. While this topic may be discussed at the 
Council meetings, please submit written comments on the burden of the 
current vessel baseline system, the potential changes outlined here, or 
any suggestions for other changes that might be appropriate through one 
of the methods identified in the ADDRESSES section of this ANPR, to 
ensure that they are fully considered.

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

    Dated: September 30, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-25746 Filed 10-4-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P