Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment for the Gulf of Mexico, 66021-66031 [2011-27589]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Service’s Southwest Regional Office, Ecological Services (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Shrimp, and Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery Management Plans for the Gulf of Mexico (FMPs) as prepared and submitted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would allow management of selected species by other Federal and/or state agencies; remove species not currently in need of Federal management from the FMPs; develop species groups; modify framework procedures; establish annual catch limits (ACLs); and establish accountability measures (AMs). The intent of this rule is to specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the resource. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before November 18, 2011. Author ADDRESSES: If you submitted comments or information previously on the May 22, 2003, proposed rule (68 FR 27961), please do not resubmit them. These comments have been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the preparation of our final determination. The Service will finalize a new listing determination after we have completed our review of the best available scientific and commercial information, including information and comments submitted during this comment period. References Cited The primary author of this notice is staff of the Service’s Southwest Regional Office, Ecological Services (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: October 12, 2011. Gregory E. Siekaniec, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2011–27372 Filed 10–24–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 100217097–0101–01] RIN 0648–AY22 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment for the Gulf of Mexico National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement the Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment (Generic ACL Amendment) to the Reef Fish Resources, Red Drum, SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:53 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 223001 You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0143’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, click on ‘‘submit a comment,’’ then enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2011–0143’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search.’’ To view posted comments during the comment period, enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0143’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search.’’ NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Comments through means not specified in this rule will not be accepted. Electronic copies of the Generic ACL Amendment, which includes a final environmental impact statement (FEIS), an initial regulatory flexibility analysis PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66021 (IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web Site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone 727–824–5305; e-mail: Rich.Malinowski@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fisheries for reef fish, red drum, shrimp, and coral and coral reefs of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) are managed under their respective FMPs. The FMPs were prepared by the Council and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Background The 2006 revisions to the MagnusonStevens Act require that by 2011, for fisheries determined by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to not be subject to overfishing, NMFS establish ACLs and AMs at a level that prevents overfishing and helps to achieve OY. This mandate is intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule By removing selected stocks from certain FMPs, this rule would defer to other entities management of those stocks. The rule would also remove 10 species that do not require conservation and management from the Reef Fish FMP; create and revise the species groupings for reef fish; modify the framework procedures; and establish ACLs and AMs for the required species within the Generic ACL Amendment. Defer to Other Entities Management of Selected Stocks Some stocks currently managed by FMPs are uncommon in Gulf Federal waters. These stocks are also primarily harvested within areas under the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). National Standard 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act states that, to the extent practicable, conservation and management measures shall avoid unnecessary duplication. The proposed rule would remove Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish FMP, and the Council will request that the Secretary designate the South Atlantic Council as the responsible council for Nassau grouper. E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 66022 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules If this provision of the Generic ACL Amendment is approved and the South Atlantic Council is designated as the lead council, the South Atlantic Council will need to amend its Snapper-Grouper FMP to extend authority over Nassau grouper into Gulf Federal waters. Given the time necessary to implement these measures, NMFS intends to delay the effective date for removing the prohibition on the harvest of Nassau grouper until the South Atlantic Council has implemented the changes to the Snapper-Grouper FMP. This delay will prevent any lapse in the protective regulations necessary for the species. Similarly, the rule would remove octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP. Most octocorals are harvested in waters under the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic Council, which will continue to manage octocorals in their region. Octocorals harvested in the Gulf are primarily taken in Florida state waters; Florida manages octocorals in its state waters, and has notified the Council that it will assume management of octocorals in Gulf Federal waters as well. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Removal of Stocks From Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan Approximately 50 species of fish are under consideration for management actions in the Generic ACL Amendment. Many uncommonly harvested species were originally placed in fishery management plans for data monitoring purposes, rather than because they were considered to be in need of Federal management. This rule would remove 10 of the less frequently landed species in the Reef Fish FMP, because the Council determined these species are not in need of Federal management. Species proposed for removal include those species for which average landings are less than 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) annually, or that are harvested primarily in state waters, and include: anchor tilefish, misty grouper, sand perch, dwarf sand perch, blackline tilefish, schoolmaster, red hind, rock hind, dog snapper, and mahogany snapper. Species Groupings In some cases, groups of stocks share a common habitat and are caught with the same gear in the same area at the same time. Some species groupings, such as shallow-water grouper (SWG), deep-water grouper (DWG), and tilefishes, are already managed in in Gulf Federal water. The Council determined that grouping together species with similar fishery characteristics would allow for more effective management of those lesser VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 caught species because individual single species information is often insufficient. This rule would modify existing species groupings and create the following additional groupings: other SWG (black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, and yellowfin grouper); DWG (warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and yellowedge grouper); tilefishes (golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, and goldface tilefish); jacks (almaco jack, banded rudderfish, and lesser amberjack); and mid-water snapper (silk snapper, wenchman, blackfin snapper, and queen snapper). Modification of Generic Framework Procedures To facilitate timely adjustments to harvest parameters and other management measures, the Council has added the ability to adjust ACLs and AMs, and to establish and adjust annual target catch (ACT) levels, to the current framework procedures. These adjustments or additions may be accomplished through a regulatory amendment which is less time-intensive than an FMP amendment. By including ACLs, AMs, and ACTs in the framework procedures, the Councils and NMFS would have the flexibility to more promptly alter those harvest parameters as new scientific information becomes available. The proposed addition of other management options into the framework procedures would also add flexibility and the ability to more timely respond to certain future Council decisions through the framework procedures. Specification of ACLs This rule would establish 13 initial ACLs for 26 species or species groups, 8 ACLs for individual species, and 5 ACLs for stock complexes. Individual ACLs would be established for vermilion snapper, lane snapper, gray snapper, hogfish, cubera snapper, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, and royal red shrimp. Species complex ACLs would be established for deepwater grouper, other shallow-water grouper, tilefishes, jacks, and mid-water snappers. Additionally, the ACL for the other SWG complex would be revised. The rule would also establish allowable biological catch (ABC) limits in the Gulf Council’s area of jurisdiction for several species managed separately by both the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils, but for which only single stock assessments, and single ABCs covering both Council’s areas of jurisdiction, were provided. Based on historical landings and recommendations from their respective SSC’s, the two councils have agreed to PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 apportion those overarching ABCs between them. This proposed rule would establish commercial and recreational harvest allocations for black grouper for the Gulf based upon historical landings. The ACLs to be implemented have been developed based upon the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standards 1 guidelines that state that the Council must establish an ABC control rule based on scientific advice from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Additionally, the ABC should be based, when possible, on the probability that an actual catch equal to the stock’s ABC would not result in overfishing. The Council selected the ABC control rule based upon SSC recommendations to use varying levels of scientific uncertainty in setting the ACL. Standard methods for determining the appropriate ABC allow the Council’s SSC to determine an objective and efficient assignment of ABC at or less than the overfishing limit (OFL). The SSC’s selection of an ABC takes into account scientific uncertainty regarding the harvest levels that would lead to overfishing. The quality and quantity of landings information varies according to the stock in question, thus separate control rules are needed for dataadequate and data-poor stocks. In some cases, the nature of the fishery or other management considerations may require a separate control rule for a given stock. The default buffer level for each stock is to set the ABC at 75 percent of the OFL unless a different risk level is determined by the Council. The Generic ACL Amendment describes the process by which the ABC would be established for the applicable species. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ACTs are optional management targets intended to help constrain harvest to levels so that the ACL is not exceeded. Establishing control rules for setting these catch levels would provide guidance to the Council on setting an objective and efficient assignment of ACLs that takes into account the potential for management uncertainty. As with the ABC control rule, different levels of landings information about catch levels and management of stocks may require separate control rules for data-adequate and data-poor stocks. The ACT control rule was also developed by the SSC and provided to the Council. It uses assessment information and characterization of uncertainty to develop a percentage for calculating the ACT from the ACL. There are nine ACTs that would be established through this rule. National Standard 1 guidelines recommend that an ACT be used for E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS stocks when in-season AMs are not used. Accountability Measures Accountability measures (AMs) may be used for both in-season and postseason management of a stock to control or mitigate harvest levels with respect to the ACL. With the exception of royal red shrimp, the stocks and stock complexes requiring AMs are in the reef fish fishery management unit. The reef fish species requiring AMs within the Generic ACL Amendment are contained in two categories. The first category is for reef fish stocks and stock complexes where the commercial sector is managed under the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes, but the recreational sector does not currently have an AM in place. For these species, a portion of the ACL has been apportioned to the commercial sector for IFQ allocation within the IFQ program. For species within the commercial sector of a Gulf IFQ program, this rule would make the IFQ program itself the AM for the commercial sector because commercial landings are closely monitored and IFQ participants are limited to their specific IFQ allocation each fishing year. Thus, if the stock ACL were exceeded, the reason for the overage would be attributable to an excessive harvest by the recreational sector. Therefore, this rule would implement AMs for the recreational sector in the event of a stock ACL overage for the IFQ related species. The three stock complexes whose commercial sectors are managed under an IFQ program but whose recreational sectors do not currently have AMs in place are tilefishes, other SWG, and DWG. The second category of species or species groups that would have AMs implemented through this rule are those species or species groups that do not currently have AMs in place for either the commercial or recreational sector. This rule would implement new ACLs and AMs in both sectors for the following: Vermilion snapper, lane snapper, mid-water snappers (silk snapper, wenchman, blackfin snapper, and queen snapper), mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, gray snapper, cubera snapper, hogfish, jacks (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish), and royal red shrimp. For this second category of stocks, with the exception of royal red shrimp and vermilion snapper, if a stock or stock complex exceeds its ACL in a given fishing year, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the commercial and recreational sectors would be closed for the remainder of that fishing year. There is no federally managed recreational sector for royal red shrimp, so the ACL only applies to the commercial sector. The AM for royal red shrimp would apply if commercial landings exceed the ACL in a given fishing year. In that case then during the following fishing year, if the commercial landings reach, or are projected to reach, the ACL, the commercial sector would be closed for the remainder of that fishing year. In the case of vermilion snapper, in any fishing year, if the combined commercial and recreational landings reach or exceed the stock ACL during the fishing year, then both the commercial and recreational sectors would be closed for the remainder of that fishing year. For stocks for which an ACL would be set through this rulemaking, none are currently overfished, in a rebuilding plan, or undergoing overfishing. Therefore, there is a reduced likelihood an ACL would be exceeded. Species in the Amendment Without a Codified ACL or AM The Generic ACL Amendment proposes to retain Federal management for, and keep within their respective fishery management units, several species that will not have specifically codified ACLs and AMs. These species are red drum, goliath grouper, and corals (excluding octocorals). Harvesting these species is currently prohibited in Gulf Federal waters, and they therefore have a functional ACL of zero. Additionally, the harvest prohibition serves as a functional AM to manage the ACL. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Generic ACL Amendment, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an IRFA for this rule, as required by Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for the rule are contained at the beginning of this section in the PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66023 preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The rule would remove octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP; remove Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP; and remove species that have average annual landings of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or less or those that are primarily harvested in state waters, including anchor tilefish, blackline tilefish, red hind, rock hind, misty grouper, schoolmaster, dog snapper, and mahogany snapper, sand perch and dwarf sand perch from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP. The rule would also create the additional species groups other shallow-water groupers (black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, and yellowfin grouper), deep-water groupers (warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and yellowedge grouper), tilefishes (golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, and goldface tilefish), jacks (almaco jack, banded rudderfish, and lesser amberjack), and mid-water snapper (silk snapper, wenchman, blackfin snapper, and queen snapper), without using any indicator species within each group. The rule would adopt an ABC control rule providing separate guidance in setting ABC for Tier 1 species (assessed stocks with estimates of MSY and probability distribution around the estimate), Tier 2 species (assessed stocks without estimates of MSY or its proxy), Tier 3a (unassessed stocks but deemed stable over time), and Tier 3b (unassessed stocks with current fishing levels deemed by the SSC as not sustainable). The rule would additionally establish an initial estimate of ACL/ACT, based on a spreadsheet method and followed by a review by the Council’s Socioeconomic Panel, for seven individual reef fish species (vermilion snapper, lane snapper, gray snapper, hogfish, cubera snapper, mutton snapper, and yellowtail snapper) and five reef fish species complexes (other shallow-water grouper, deep-water grouper, tilefishes, jacks, and mid-water snappers). The rule would also adopt a generic framework procedure by modifying existing framework procedures under the Reef Fish, Gulf Shrimp, and Red Drum Fishery FMPs and establishing a framework procedure for the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP; and would specify an ACL of 334,000 lb (151,500 kg) of tails for royal red shrimp based on the overfishing limit of 392,000 lb (177,808 kg) of tails as recommended by the SSC. Moreover, the rule would establish the ABCs in the Gulf Council’s area of E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 66024 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules jurisdiction for several species managed separately by both the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils, but for which only single stock assessments, and single ABCs covering both Council’s areas of jurisdictions, were provided. The amendment would set the following apportionment of those overarching ABC’s: 47 percent of the black grouper ABC for the South Atlantic Council and 53 percent for the Gulf Council; 75 percent of the yellowtail snapper for the South Atlantic Council and 25 percent for the Gulf Council; 82 percent of the mutton snapper ABC for the South Atlantic Council and 18 percent for the Gulf Council. The rule would also further allocate the Gulf Council’s black grouper ACL into 27 percent for the recreational sector and 73 percent for the commercial sector; set annual ACLs and optional ACTs based on the ACL/ ACT control rule, with ACL being equal to ABC, unless otherwise specified by the Council. The rule would implement in-season AMs for vermilion snapper by closing the commercial and recreational sectors when the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached within a fishing year; implement in-season AMs for other reef fish species without an existing AM and royal red shrimp if the stock ACL is exceeded in the previous year; set the trigger for post-season AMs when landings exceed the ACL without applying any overage adjustment to the following year’s ACL. The purpose of this rule is to implement the National Standard 1 guidelines to establish the methods for implementing ACLs, AMs and associated parameters for stocks managed by the Gulf Council, along with initial specifications of an ACL that may be changed under the framework procedures for specifying an ACL. Additionally, this rule is intended to improve management capability to prevent or end overfishing and to maintain stocks at healthy levels, and to do so in a consistent and structured manner across all FMPs. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. The rule would not establish any new reporting or record-keeping requirements. However, the AMs may constitute a new compliance requirement and are analyzed later in the IRFA. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified for this rule. Management of certain species affected by this rule was developed with explicit consideration of applicable rules in the state of Florida and the South Atlantic Council. The rule is expected to directly affect commercial harvesting and for-hire fishing vessels that harvest reef fish, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 royal red shrimp, red drum, or octocorals in the Gulf. It should be noted that harvest and possession of red drum in the Gulf EEZ is currently prohibited. The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters and for-hire operations. A business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. For for-hire vessels, all the above qualifiers apply except that the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries). In 2009, there were 999 vessels with Gulf commercial reef fish permits and 430 vessels with Gulf royal red shrimp permits. There is no entity possessing a Federal permit for harvesting red drum or octocorals in the Gulf EEZ. Based on home states, as reported in Federal permit applications, vessels with commercial reef fish permits were distributed as follows: 37 vessels in Alabama, 814 vessels in Florida, 48 vessels in Louisiana, 15 vessels in Mississippi, 77 vessels in Texas, and 8 vessels in other states. The corresponding distribution of vessels with royal red shrimp permits is as follows: 57 vessels in Alabama, 65 vessels in Florida, 88 vessels in Louisiana, 25 vessels in Mississippi, 152 vessels in Texas, and 43 vessels in other states. In 2008 and 2009, the maximum annual commercial fishing revenue by an individual vessel with a commercial Gulf reef fish permit was approximately $606,000 (2008 dollars). The maximum revenue by an individual vessel in the royal red shrimp or coral fisheries was far less than $606,000. The for-hire fleet is comprised of charterboats, which charge a fee on a vessel basis, and headboats, which charge a fee on an individual angler (head) basis. In 2009, there were 1,419 for-hire vessels that were permitted to operate in the Gulf reef fish fishery. These vessels were distributed as follows: 141 vessels in Alabama, 876 vessels in Florida, 100 vessels in Louisiana, 52 vessels in Mississippi, 232 vessels in Texas, and 18 vessels in other states. The for-hire permit does not distinguish between headboats and charter boats, but in 2009 the headboat survey program included 79 headboats. The majority of headboats were located in Florida (43), followed by Texas (22), Alabama (10), and Louisiana (4). The PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 average charterboat is estimated to earn approximately $88,000 (2008 dollars) in annual revenues, while the average headboat is estimated to earn approximately $461,000 (2008 dollars). Based on the foregoing revenue estimates, all commercial and for-hire vessels expected to be directly affected by this rule are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business entities. Some fleet activity (i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single entity) may exist in the for-hire sector but its extent is unknown, and all vessels are treated as independent entities in this analysis. Because all entities expected to be directly affected by this rule are small business entities, no disproportionate effects on small entities relative to large entities are expected because of this rule. Removing octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP is mainly administrative in nature and would have no direct effects on the profitability of small business entities. Removing Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP, with eventual management of the species being assumed by the South Atlantic Council, has no direct effects on the profits of small entities, given the current prohibition on the harvest of this species. Removing species from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP which have average annual landings of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or less (except those misidentified as another species or those exhibiting a trend landings that may indicate a change is status), or those mainly harvested in state waters, such as anchor tilefish, blackline tilefish, red hind, rock hind, misty grouper, schoolmaster, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, sand perch, and dwarf sand fish, would not directly change the current harvest or use of a resource, and therefore would not affect the profitability of small entities. Similarly, rearranging species into species groupings would not directly change the current harvest or use of a resource, and therefore would not affect the profitability of small entities. The establishment of an ABC control rule is not anticipated to directly affect the harvest and other typical uses of the resource since this action is administrative in nature. As such, this management action is not expected to result in any direct effects on the profits of small entities. The establishment of an ACL/ACT control rule is an administrative action and would not affect the harvest and other customary uses of the resource. Therefore, this action has no direct E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules consequence on the profitability of small entities. Modifications to the framework procedure are also administrative in nature. Since these modifications would not affect the harvest and other customary uses of the resource, they would have no direct consequence on the profitability of small entities. Any management actions enacted through the modified framework procedure would be evaluated as to their effects on the profits of small entities at the time of their implementation. Initial ACL specification for royal red shrimp would set the ACL for the species at 334,000 lb tails (151,500 kg) which are significantly above the historical landings (138,116 lb (62,648 kg) in 2008). This action, therefore, would not affect harvests and profits of small entities in the foreseeable future. Apportioning black grouper between the Gulf and South Atlantic Council’s jurisdictional areas would result in an increase of profits (producer surplus) to the commercial sector ranging from approximately $90,000 to $113,000 annually for all vessels combined. The effects on for-hire profits are expected to be positive but cannot be quantified with available information. The apportionment of yellowtail snapper between the Gulf and South Atlantic Council’s jurisdictional areas is very close to the recent landings ratio of the species between the two jurisdictional areas. Thus, this management action is expected to have minimal effects on the profits of small entities in both areas. The apportionment of mutton snapper between the Gulf and South Atlantic Council’s jurisdictional areas would favor the Gulf fishing fleet and thus would be expected to increase the profits of the Gulf fishing fleet. The effects on the profits of the South Atlantic fishing fleet would, in turn, decrease. In the absence of sufficient information to quantify the effects of this action, its net effects on the fishing fleets of both areas cannot be determined. The apportionment of black grouper in the Gulf between the commercial and recreational sectors would tend to favor the commercial over the recreational sector. In this sense, the commercial sector is expected to experience profit increases ranging from approximately $11,000 to $14,000 annually for all vessels combined. The negative effects on the for-hire fleet cannot be estimated with available information. Potential effects on small entities anticipated from the implementation of ACLs and/ or ACTs for reef fish stocks and stock groupings would depend on the extent VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 to which ACLs and ACTs under consideration would affect the harvest or other customary uses of the resource. While this action does not set any reef fish species and stock groupings ACLs or ACTs for the recreational sector, aggregate catch limits and targets and the ACLs and ACTs specified for the commercial sector would allow for an increased harvest levels for both sectors. Therefore, positive effects on the profits of small entities would be expected to result from this action in the near future. Specifying in-season AMs for vermilion snapper when the ACL is reached or projected to be reached within the fishing year would result in short-term negative effects on the profits of small entities. The expectation, however, over the medium and longterm is for profits of these small entities to increase or at least not be further impaired due to increased protection for the stock. Implementing AMs for royal red shrimp and other reef fish species that do not currently have AMs enacted the following year after their ACLs are exceeded would negatively affect the short-term profits of small entities. Again, the expectation is for this action to improve medium and long-term profitability. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the management of octocorals. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the management of species under the Gulf Coral and Coral Reefs FMP. The second alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred alternative, these two other alternatives would have no direct effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic Council. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the management of Nassau grouper. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the management of the species under the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The second alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred alternative, these two other alternatives would have no direct effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic Council. PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66025 Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the management of yellowtail snapper. The first alternative would remove the species from the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The second alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. The third alternative would add the species to a joint plan with the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred no action alternative, these three other alternatives would have no effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic Council. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the management of mutton snapper. The first alternative would remove the species from the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The second alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. The third alternative would add the species to a joint plan with the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred no action alternative, these three other alternatives would have no direct effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic Council while the third alternative would entail additional administrative costs on both Councils. Five alternatives, of which two are the preferred alternatives, were considered for removing stocks from the Reef Fish FMP. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not remove any species from Gulf Reef Fish FMP. This alternative would have no direct effects on the short-term profitability of small entities, but over time this is more likely to result in profit reduction than the preferred alternative when certain species with historically low landings become subject to restrictive measures. The second alternative would remove species with average landings of 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) or below from the Reef Fish FMP, except for species that are long-lived, may be misidentified as another species, or have trends in landings that may indicate a change in status. This alternative would have no direct short-term effects on profits of small entities, but with a relatively high historical landings threshold certain species may not be well protected for long-term sustainability. This could then eventually lead to lower harvest and lower profits to small entities over time. The third alternative would E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 66026 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules remove species from the Reef Fish FMP if Federal waters are at the edge of the species distribution. This alternative would not directly affect the profitability of small entities, and could possibly have similar long-term effects as the preferred alternative. Five alternatives, of which two with one sub-alternative are the preferred alternatives, were considered for species groupings. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would maintain the current species groupings. This alternative would have no direct shortterm economic effects on small entities. The second alternative would revise the species groupings by adding groupings when life history and landings data may be too sparse to set individual catch limits. Although this alternative would have no direct consequence on the economic status of small entities, it would provide for a greater number of groupings. The third alternative would use species groupings based on NMFS analysis, which uses fishery-dependent data from multiple sectors over multiple years and life history data when available creating complexes and subcomplexes. This alternative would have no direct effects on the economic status of small entities, but it would provide for more groupings than the preferred alternative. In addition to these alternatives, two other sub-alternatives were considered regarding the selection of an indicator species within each grouping, noting that the preferred suboption is not to use any indicator species. The first sub-option is to use as an indicator species the most vulnerable stock in the group based on productivity-susceptibility analysis. This sub-option would likely result in more restrictive environment that would condition the implementation of ACLs and other management measures. The second sub-option would use the assessed species as an indicator species. This sub-option has similar effects as the first sub-option but it would be relatively less constrictive. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the ABC control rule. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not specify an ABC control rule. This alternative would have no immediate effects on the economic status of small entities, but it may not comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 guidelines, which require Councils to establish an acceptable ABC control rule. The second alternative would adopt an ABC control rule fixing the buffer between the overfishing limit and ABC at a level such that ABC is equal to 75 percent of the overfishing limit or ABC is equal to VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 the yield at 75 percent of FMSY (fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield). Although this alternative is simpler than the preferred alternative, it lacks the stock specificity contained in the preferred alternative. Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the ACL/ACT control rule. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish an ACL/ACT control rule. The second alternative would establish an initial estimate of ACL/ACT based upon a flow chart method that reviews data availability, data timeliness, and data quality to develop the ACT buffer percentage, and followed by a review by the Council’s Socioeconomic Panel. This alternative would have economic effects similar to the preferred alternative, but it would produce a less conservative buffer when comparing stock complexes or stocks with high dead discard levels. Therefore, this alternative may result in less adverse economic impacts in the short term than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would set the buffer between ACL and ACT at a fixed percentage of 25 percent for all sectors, 0 percent for IFQ (individual fishing quota) fisheries and 25 percent for all other sectors, or 2 percent for IFQ fisheries and 25 percent for all other sectors, and followed by a review by the Council’s Socioeconomic Panel. This alternative may result in lower economic benefits than the preferred alternative, because it would establish control rules that may not take account of stock specificity. The fourth alternative would set the buffer between ACL and ACT at a fixed percentage of 0 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, or 25 percent, followed by a review by the Council’s Socioeconomic Panel. This alternative has about the same economic implications as the third alternative, except possibly when dealing with IFQ species, so that it would also tend to provide lower economic benefits than the preferred alternative. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the generic framework procedures. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the current framework procedures for implementing management measures. The second alternative would add modifications that would make the framework procedures broader than the preferred alternative while the third alternative would make the framework procedures narrower than the preferred alternative. Similar to the preferred alternative, these three other alternatives would have no direct economic effects on small entities. PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for specifying ACL for royal red shrimp. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not set an ACL for the species. This alternative is the least likely to affect the profits of small entities but it would not meet the legal requirements for establishing an ACL by 2011. The second alternative would set an ACL for the species based on average landings from 1962–2008 (141,379 lb (64,128 kg) of tails), from the last 5 years (191,860 lb (87,026 kg) of tails), or from the last 10 years (233,182 lb (105,770 kg) of tails). This alternative would likely result in a harvest reduction and profit reduction as well, except when the ACL is set at the highest of the three suboptions. Other sub-options would set the ACL equal to 75 percent of ABC (250,500 lb (113,625 kg)) or set the ACL corresponding to the ACL/ACT control rule. These sub-options would be unlikely to result in short-term profit reductions although they are more restrictive than the preferred alternative/sub-alternative. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional apportionment of the black grouper ABC, as agreed upon by both councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings and potentially the economic benefits between the Gulf and South Atlantic fishing fleets. The second alternative would evenly apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. The resulting effects of this alternative on small entities would be lower profits than the preferred alternative. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional apportionment of the yellowtail snapper ABC, as agreed upon by both councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings and potentially the economic benefits between the Gulf and South Atlantic fishing fleets. The second alternative would apportion 73 percent of the species ABC to the South Atlantic Council and 27 percent to the Gulf Council. This alternative would potentially yield higher profits to the Gulf fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, but the difference in the profit outcome of the two alternatives would be relatively small. The third E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules alternative would apportion 77 percent to the South Atlantic Council and 23 percent to the Gulf Council. This alternative would result in lower profits to the Gulf fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, although the difference in profit outcome between the two alternatives would be relatively small. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional apportionment of the mutton snapper ABC, as agreed upon by both councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings and potentially economic benefits between the Gulf and South Atlantic fishing fleets. The second alternative would apportion 79 percent of the species ABC to the South Atlantic Council and 21 percent to the Gulf Council. This alternative would result in lower profits to Gulf fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, although the difference in profit outcome between the two alternatives would be relatively small. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the sector allocation of black grouper. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish sector allocation of the species. This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings and potentially economic benefits between the commercial and recreational sectors. The second alternative would allocate 18 percent of the species ACL to the recreational sector and 82 percent to the commercial sector. This alternative would result in higher profit increases to the commercial sector than the preferred alternative. However, it would also result in higher profit reductions to the for-hire fleet. The net effects of this alternative cannot be estimated with available information. The third alternative would allocate 24 percent of the species ACL to the recreational sector and 76 percent to the commercial sector. This alternative would provide slightly higher profitability to the commercial sector and lower profitability to the for-hire sector than the preferred alternative. The net effects of this alternative cannot be estimated with available information. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, and two suboptions, one of which is the preferred sub-option, were considered for specifying ACLs/ACTs for reef fish stocks and stock groupings. The first alternative, the no action alternative, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 would not set an annual ACL/ACT for stocks or stock groups, but this would not meet the legal requirements for establishing an ACL by 2011. The second alternative would set a 10 percent buffer between the ABC and ACL or between the ACL and ACT if ACL is equal to ABC. This alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. The second sub-option would set the ABC equal to the value specified in the ACL/ACT control rule, with the ACT not being used unless specified otherwise by the Council. This alternative would likely result in profits to small entities that would be equal to or less than those of the preferred alternative. Four alternatives, of which two are the preferred alternatives, and five suboptions, of which two are the preferred sub-options, were considered for AMs. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not create new AMs for reef fish and royal red shrimp. This alternative would likely result in higher profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, but it would not be consistent with the requirement to establish AMs for stocks managed by the Council. The second alternative would implement only post-season AMs for stocks and sectors that do not currently have AMs should the ACL for a year be exceeded. This alternative would likely result in larger profit reductions in the short-term than the preferred alternative due to possibly more restrictive corrective actions being implemented to address ACL overages. The first suboption would set the trigger for postseason AMs if the average landings for the past 3 years exceed the ACL. This sub-option would likely result in lower short-term profit reductions than the preferred alternative, although over time it would result in larger profit reductions due to more restrictive actions to remedy the overages. The second sub-option would set the trigger for post-season AMs if average landings for the past 5 years, after excluding the highest and lowest values, exceed the ACL. This alternative would have nearly similar effects as the second alternative. The third sub-option would provide for an overage adjustment if the ACL for the stock or sector is exceeded and the stock is under a rebuilding plan. The amount of adjustment would equal the full amount of the overage, unless the best scientific information shows a lesser amount is needed to mitigate the effects of exceeding the ACL. This sub-option would result in larger profit reductions in the short-term than the preferred alternative due to harvest reductions PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66027 that would be implemented to mitigate the overages. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: October 20, 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 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. § 622.1 [Amended] 2. In § 622.1, paragraph (b), in Table 1, remove the row titled, ‘‘FMP for Coral and Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Mexico’’. 3. In § 622.2, the definitions for ‘‘deep-water grouper (DWG)’’ and ‘‘shallow-water grouper (SWG)’’ are revised to read as follows: § 622.2 Definitions and acronyms. * * * * * Deep-water grouper (DWG) means, in the Gulf, yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind. In addition, for the purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes in § 622.20, scamp are also included as DWG as specified in § 622.20(b)(2)(vi). * * * * * Shallow-water grouper (SWG) means, in the Gulf, gag, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper. In addition, for the purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes in § 622.20, speckled hind and warsaw grouper are also included as SWG as specified in § 622.20(b)(2)(v). * * * * * 4. In § 622.3, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows: § 622.3 Relation to other laws and regulations. * * * * * (c) For allowable octocoral, if a state has a catch, landing, or gear regulation that is more restrictive than a catch, landing, or gear regulation in this part, a person landing in such state allowable octocoral taken from the South Atlantic EEZ must comply with the more restrictive state regulation. * * * * * E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 66028 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules 5. In § 622.4, the first sentence of paragraph (a)(2)(ix) and paragraph (a)(3)(ii) are revised to read as follows: § 622.4 Permits and fees. (a) * * * (2) * * * (ix) Gulf IFQ vessel accounts. For a person aboard a vessel, for which a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, to fish for, possess, or land Gulf red snapper or Gulf groupers (including DWG and SWG, as specified in § 622.20(a)) or tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish), regardless of where harvested or possessed, a Gulf IFQ vessel account for the applicable species or species groups must have been established. * * * * * * * * (3) * * * (ii) Allowable octocoral. For an individual to take or possess allowable octocoral in the South Atlantic EEZ, other than allowable octocoral that is landed in Florida, a Federal allowable octocoral permit must have been issued to the individual. Such permit must be available for inspection when the permitted activity is being conducted and when allowable octocoral is possessed, through landing ashore. * * * * * 6. In § 622.20, the first three sentences in paragraph (a) are revised to read as follows: erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS § 622.20 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. Prohibited gear and methods. * * * * * (f) Power-assisted tools. A powerassisted tool may not be used in the Caribbean EEZ to take a Caribbean coral reef resource, in the Gulf EEZ to take VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 § 622.32 Prohibited and limited-harvest species. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (iii) Red drum may not be harvested or possessed in or from the Gulf EEZ. *** * * * * * 9. In § 622.34, the third sentence of paragraph (g)(1) is revised to read as follows: § 622.34 Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures. * * * * * (g) * * * (1) * * * The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to hogfish. * * * * * 10. In § 622.37, paragraph (d)(1)(iii) is revised to read as follows: § 622.37 (a) General. This section establishes an IFQ program for the commercial components of the Gulf reef fish fishery for groupers (including DWG, red grouper, gag, and other SWG) and tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish). For the purposes of this IFQ program, DWG includes yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind, and scamp, but only as specified in paragraph (b)(2)(vi) of this section. For the purposes of this IFQ program, other SWG includes black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper, and warsaw grouper and speckled hind, but only as specified in paragraph (b)(2)(v) of this section. * * * * * * * * 7. In § 622.31, paragraphs (f) and (n) are revised to read as follows: § 622.31 prohibited coral or live rock, or in the South Atlantic EEZ to take allowable octocoral, prohibited coral, or live rock. * * * * * (n) Gulf reef fish may not be used as bait in any fishery, except that, when purchased from a fish processor, the filleted carcasses and offal of Gulf reef fish may be used as bait in trap fisheries for blue crab, stone crab, deep-water crab, and spiny lobster. 8. In § 622.32, the first sentence of paragraph (b)(2)(iii) is revised to read as follows: Size limits. * * * * * (d) * * * (1) * * * (iii) Cubera, gray, and yellowtail snappers—12 inches (30.5 cm), TL. * * * * * 11. In § 622.39, the first sentence in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) and paragraph (b)(1)(v) are revised to read as follows: § 622.39 Bag and possession limits. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (ii) Groupers, combined, excluding goliath grouper—4 per person per day, but not to exceed 1 speckled hind or 1 warsaw grouper per vessel per day, or 2 gag per person per day. * * * * * * * * (v) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (b)(1)(iv) and paragraphs (b)(1)(vi) through (b)(1)(vii) of this section—20. * * * * * 12. In § 622.42, paragraph (a)(1)(ii), the introductory paragraph for paragraph (a)(1)(iii), paragraph PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (a)(1)(iii)(A), paragraph (a)(1)(iv), and paragraph (b) are revised to read as follows: § 622.42 Quotas. (a) * * * (1) * * * (ii) Deep-water groupers (DWG) have a combined quota, as specified in paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(A) through (E) of this section. These quotas are specified in gutted weight, that is eviscerated, but otherwise whole. (A) For fishing year 2012—1.127 million lb (0.511 million kg). (B) For fishing year 2013—1.118 million lb (0.507 million kg). (C) For fishing year 2014—1.110 million lb (0.503 million kg). (D) For fishing year 2015—1.101 million lb (0.499 million kg). (E) For fishing year 2016 and subsequent fishing years—1.024 million lb (0.464 million kg). (iii) Shallow-water groupers (SWG) have separate quotas for gag and red grouper and a combined quota for other shallow-water grouper (SWG) species (including black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper), as specified in paragraphs (a)(1)(iii)(A) through (C) of this section. These quotas are specified in gutted weight, that is eviscerated but otherwise whole. (A) Other SWG combined. (1) For fishing year 2012—509,000 lb (230,879 kg). (2) For fishing year 2013—518,000 lb (234,961 kg). (3) For fishing year 2014—523,000 lb (237,229 kg). (4) For fishing year 2015 and subsequent fishing years—525,000 lb (238,136 kg). * * * * * (iv) Tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish)— 582,000 lb (263,991 kg), gutted weight, that is, eviscerated but otherwise whole. * * * * * (b) South Atlantic allowable octocoral. The quota for all persons who harvest allowable octocoral in the EEZ of the South Atlantic is 50,000 colonies. A colony is a continuous group of coral polyps forming a single unit. * * * * * 13. In § 622.43, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows: § 622.43 Closures. (a) * * * (2) South Atlantic allowable octocoral. Allowable octocoral may not be harvested or possessed in the South Atlantic EEZ and the sale or purchase of E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules allowable octocoral in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is prohibited. * * * * * 14. In § 622.48, paragraphs (d), (e), (i), and (j) are revised and paragraph (p) is added to read as follows: § 622.48 Adjustment of management measures. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (d) Gulf reef fish. For a species or species group: Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish in whole condition, use as bait). (e) Gulf royal red shrimp. Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining shrimp in whole condition, use as bait). * * * * * (i) Gulf shrimp. For a species or species group: Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining shrimp in whole condition, use as bait), target effort and fishing mortality reduction levels, bycatch reduction criteria, BRD certification and decertification criteria, BRD testing protocol, certified BRDs, and BRD specification. (j) Gulf red drum. Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish in whole condition, use as bait). * * * * * (p) Gulf coral resources. For a species or species group: Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested corals. 15. In § 622.49, the heading for § 622.49 and paragraph (a)(3) are revised and paragraphs (a)(6) through (a)(16) and paragraph (d) are added to read as follows: § 622.49 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs). (a) * * * (3) Other shallow-water grouper (SWG) combined (including black PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66029 grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper). (i) Commercial sector. The IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for other commercial SWG. The commercial ACL for other SWG is equal to the applicable quota specified in § 622.42(a)(1)(iii)(A). (ii) Recreational sector. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock complex ACL specified in paragraph (a)(3)(iii), then during the following fishing year, if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the applicable ACL specified in (a)(3)(iii), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of that fishing year. (iii) The stock complex ACLs for other SWG, in gutted weight, are 688,000 lb (312,072 kg) for 2012, 700,000 lb (317,515 kg) for 2013, 707,000 lb (320,690 kg) for 2014, and 710,000 lb (322,051 kg) for 2015 and subsequent years. * * * * * (6) Deep-water grouper (DWG) combined (including yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind)— (i) Commercial sector. The IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for commercial DWG. The commercial ACL for DWG is equal to the applicable quota specified in § 622.42(a)(1)(ii). (ii) Recreational sector. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock complex ACL specified in paragraph (a)(6)(iii) of this section, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the applicable ACL specified in (a)(6)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of that fishing year. (iii) The stock complex ACLs for DWG, in gutted weight, are 1.216 million lb (0.552 million kg) for 2012, 1.207 million lb (0.547 million kg) for 2013, 1.198 million lb (0.543 million kg) for 2014, 1.189 million lb (0.539 million kg) for 2015, and 1.105 million lb (0.501 million kg) for 2016 and subsequent years. (7) Tilefishes combined (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish)—(i) Commercial sector. The IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes in E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 66030 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules the Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for commercial tilefishes. The commercial ACL for tilefishes is equal to the applicable quota specified in § 622.42(a)(1)(iv). (ii) Recreational sector. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock complex ACL specified in paragraph (a)(7)(iii) of this section, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the applicable ACL specified in (a)(7)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of that fishing year. (iii) The stock complex ACL for tilefishes is 608,000 lb (275,784 kg), gutted weight. (8) Lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish, combined. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock complex ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock complex ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock complex ACL for lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish, is 312,000 lb (141,521 kg), round weight. (9) Silk snapper, queen snapper, blackfin snapper, and wenchman, combined. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock complex ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock complex ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock complex ACL for silk snapper, queen snapper, blackfin snapper, and wenchman, is 166,000 lb (75,296 kg), round weight. (10) Vermilion snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. The stock ACL for vermilion snapper is 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), round weight. (11) Lane snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for lane snapper is 301,000 lb (136,531 kg), round weight. (12) Gray snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for gray snapper is 2.42 million lb (1.10 million kg), round weight. (13) Cubera snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for cubera snapper is 5,065 lb (2,297 kg), round weight. (14) Yellowtail snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for yellowtail snapper is 725,000 lb (328,855 kg), round weight. (15) Mutton snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for mutton snapper is 203,000 lb (92,079 kg), round weight. (16) Hogfish. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4700 and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for hogfish is 208,000 lb (94,347 kg), round weight. * * * * * (d) Royal red shrimp in the Gulf. (1) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL, then during the following fishing year, if commercial landings reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of that fishing year. The commercial ACL for royal red shrimp is 334,000 lb (151,500 kg), tail weight. (2) [Reserved] 16. In Appendix A to part 622, Table 3 is revised to read as follows: Appendix A to Part 622—Species Tables * * * * * Table 3 of Appendix A to Part 622—Gulf Reef Fish Balistidae—Triggerfishes Gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus Carangidae—Jacks Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili Lesser amberjack, Seriola fasciata Almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana Banded rudderfish, Seriola zonata Labridae—Wrasses Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus Lutjanidae—Snappers Queen snapper, Etelis oculatus Mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis Blackfin snapper, Lutjanus buccanella Red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus Cubera snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus Gray (mangrove) snapper, Lutjanus griseus Lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris Silk snapper, Lutjanus vivanus Yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus Wenchman, Pristipomoides aquilonaris Vermilion snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens Malacanthidae—Tilefishes Goldface tilefish, Caulolatilus chrysops Blueline tilefish, Caulolatilus microps Tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps Serranidae—Groupers Speckled hind, Epinephelus drummondhayi Yellowedge grouper, Epinephelus flavolimbatus Goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara Red grouper, Epinephelus morio Warsaw grouper, Epinephelus nigritus Snowy grouper, Epinephelus niveatus Black grouper, Mycteroperca bonaci Yellowmouth grouper, Mycteroperca interstitialis Gag, Mycteroperca microlepis Scamp, Mycteroperca phenax E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 206 / Tuesday, October 25, 2011 / Proposed Rules Yellowfin grouper, Mycteroperca venenosa * * * * * [FR Doc. 2011–27589 Filed 10–24–11; 8:45 am] erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:38 Oct 24, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\25OCP1.SGM 25OCP1 66031

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 206 (Tuesday, October 25, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 66021-66031]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27589]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 100217097-0101-01]
RIN 0648-AY22


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment for the 
Gulf of Mexico

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement the Generic Annual 
Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment (Generic ACL Amendment) 
to the Reef Fish Resources, Red Drum, Shrimp, and Coral and Coral Reefs 
Fishery Management Plans for the Gulf of Mexico (FMPs) as prepared and 
submitted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). 
If implemented, this rule would allow management of selected species by 
other Federal and/or state agencies; remove species not currently in 
need of Federal management from the FMPs; develop species groups; 
modify framework procedures; establish annual catch limits (ACLs); and 
establish accountability measures (AMs). The intent of this rule is to 
specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining 
catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the 
resource.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before November 18, 
2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0143'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 
263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, click on ``submit a comment,'' then enter ``NOAA-
NMFS-2011-0143'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0143'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments through means not specified in this rule will not be 
accepted.
    Electronic copies of the Generic ACL Amendment, which includes a 
final environmental impact statement (FEIS), an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis (IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be 
obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web Site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone 727-824-5305; e-mail: Rich.Malinowski@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fisheries for reef fish, red drum, 
shrimp, and coral and coral reefs of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) are 
managed under their respective FMPs. The FMPs were prepared by the 
Council and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The 2006 revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act require that by 
2011, for fisheries determined by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) 
to not be subject to overfishing, NMFS establish ACLs and AMs at a 
level that prevents overfishing and helps to achieve OY. This mandate 
is intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the greatest 
overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing 
food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine 
ecosystems.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    By removing selected stocks from certain FMPs, this rule would 
defer to other entities management of those stocks. The rule would also 
remove 10 species that do not require conservation and management from 
the Reef Fish FMP; create and revise the species groupings for reef 
fish; modify the framework procedures; and establish ACLs and AMs for 
the required species within the Generic ACL Amendment.

Defer to Other Entities Management of Selected Stocks

    Some stocks currently managed by FMPs are uncommon in Gulf Federal 
waters. These stocks are also primarily harvested within areas under 
the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council 
(South Atlantic Council). National Standard 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act states that, to the extent practicable, conservation and management 
measures shall avoid unnecessary duplication. The proposed rule would 
remove Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish FMP, and the Council will 
request that the Secretary designate the South Atlantic Council as the 
responsible council for Nassau grouper.

[[Page 66022]]

If this provision of the Generic ACL Amendment is approved and the 
South Atlantic Council is designated as the lead council, the South 
Atlantic Council will need to amend its Snapper-Grouper FMP to extend 
authority over Nassau grouper into Gulf Federal waters. Given the time 
necessary to implement these measures, NMFS intends to delay the 
effective date for removing the prohibition on the harvest of Nassau 
grouper until the South Atlantic Council has implemented the changes to 
the Snapper-Grouper FMP. This delay will prevent any lapse in the 
protective regulations necessary for the species. Similarly, the rule 
would remove octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP. Most 
octocorals are harvested in waters under the jurisdiction of the South 
Atlantic Council, which will continue to manage octocorals in their 
region. Octocorals harvested in the Gulf are primarily taken in Florida 
state waters; Florida manages octocorals in its state waters, and has 
notified the Council that it will assume management of octocorals in 
Gulf Federal waters as well.

Removal of Stocks From Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan

    Approximately 50 species of fish are under consideration for 
management actions in the Generic ACL Amendment. Many uncommonly 
harvested species were originally placed in fishery management plans 
for data monitoring purposes, rather than because they were considered 
to be in need of Federal management. This rule would remove 10 of the 
less frequently landed species in the Reef Fish FMP, because the 
Council determined these species are not in need of Federal management. 
Species proposed for removal include those species for which average 
landings are less than 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) annually, or that are 
harvested primarily in state waters, and include: anchor tilefish, 
misty grouper, sand perch, dwarf sand perch, blackline tilefish, 
schoolmaster, red hind, rock hind, dog snapper, and mahogany snapper.

Species Groupings

    In some cases, groups of stocks share a common habitat and are 
caught with the same gear in the same area at the same time. Some 
species groupings, such as shallow-water grouper (SWG), deep-water 
grouper (DWG), and tilefishes, are already managed in in Gulf Federal 
water. The Council determined that grouping together species with 
similar fishery characteristics would allow for more effective 
management of those lesser caught species because individual single 
species information is often insufficient. This rule would modify 
existing species groupings and create the following additional 
groupings: other SWG (black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, and 
yellowfin grouper); DWG (warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, 
and yellowedge grouper); tilefishes (golden tilefish, blueline 
tilefish, and goldface tilefish); jacks (almaco jack, banded 
rudderfish, and lesser amberjack); and mid-water snapper (silk snapper, 
wenchman, blackfin snapper, and queen snapper).

Modification of Generic Framework Procedures

    To facilitate timely adjustments to harvest parameters and other 
management measures, the Council has added the ability to adjust ACLs 
and AMs, and to establish and adjust annual target catch (ACT) levels, 
to the current framework procedures. These adjustments or additions may 
be accomplished through a regulatory amendment which is less time-
intensive than an FMP amendment. By including ACLs, AMs, and ACTs in 
the framework procedures, the Councils and NMFS would have the 
flexibility to more promptly alter those harvest parameters as new 
scientific information becomes available. The proposed addition of 
other management options into the framework procedures would also add 
flexibility and the ability to more timely respond to certain future 
Council decisions through the framework procedures.

Specification of ACLs

    This rule would establish 13 initial ACLs for 26 species or species 
groups, 8 ACLs for individual species, and 5 ACLs for stock complexes. 
Individual ACLs would be established for vermilion snapper, lane 
snapper, gray snapper, hogfish, cubera snapper, mutton snapper, 
yellowtail snapper, and royal red shrimp. Species complex ACLs would be 
established for deep-water grouper, other shallow-water grouper, 
tilefishes, jacks, and mid-water snappers. Additionally, the ACL for 
the other SWG complex would be revised.
    The rule would also establish allowable biological catch (ABC) 
limits in the Gulf Council's area of jurisdiction for several species 
managed separately by both the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils, but 
for which only single stock assessments, and single ABCs covering both 
Council's areas of jurisdiction, were provided. Based on historical 
landings and recommendations from their respective SSC's, the two 
councils have agreed to apportion those overarching ABCs between them. 
This proposed rule would establish commercial and recreational harvest 
allocations for black grouper for the Gulf based upon historical 
landings.
    The ACLs to be implemented have been developed based upon the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standards 1 guidelines that state that 
the Council must establish an ABC control rule based on scientific 
advice from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). 
Additionally, the ABC should be based, when possible, on the 
probability that an actual catch equal to the stock's ABC would not 
result in overfishing. The Council selected the ABC control rule based 
upon SSC recommendations to use varying levels of scientific 
uncertainty in setting the ACL.
    Standard methods for determining the appropriate ABC allow the 
Council's SSC to determine an objective and efficient assignment of ABC 
at or less than the overfishing limit (OFL). The SSC's selection of an 
ABC takes into account scientific uncertainty regarding the harvest 
levels that would lead to overfishing. The quality and quantity of 
landings information varies according to the stock in question, thus 
separate control rules are needed for data-adequate and data-poor 
stocks. In some cases, the nature of the fishery or other management 
considerations may require a separate control rule for a given stock. 
The default buffer level for each stock is to set the ABC at 75 percent 
of the OFL unless a different risk level is determined by the Council. 
The Generic ACL Amendment describes the process by which the ABC would 
be established for the applicable species.
    Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ACTs are optional management 
targets intended to help constrain harvest to levels so that the ACL is 
not exceeded. Establishing control rules for setting these catch levels 
would provide guidance to the Council on setting an objective and 
efficient assignment of ACLs that takes into account the potential for 
management uncertainty. As with the ABC control rule, different levels 
of landings information about catch levels and management of stocks may 
require separate control rules for data-adequate and data-poor stocks. 
The ACT control rule was also developed by the SSC and provided to the 
Council. It uses assessment information and characterization of 
uncertainty to develop a percentage for calculating the ACT from the 
ACL. There are nine ACTs that would be established through this rule. 
National Standard 1 guidelines recommend that an ACT be used for

[[Page 66023]]

stocks when in-season AMs are not used.

Accountability Measures

    Accountability measures (AMs) may be used for both in-season and 
post-season management of a stock to control or mitigate harvest levels 
with respect to the ACL.
    With the exception of royal red shrimp, the stocks and stock 
complexes requiring AMs are in the reef fish fishery management unit.
    The reef fish species requiring AMs within the Generic ACL 
Amendment are contained in two categories. The first category is for 
reef fish stocks and stock complexes where the commercial sector is 
managed under the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf 
groupers and tilefishes, but the recreational sector does not currently 
have an AM in place. For these species, a portion of the ACL has been 
apportioned to the commercial sector for IFQ allocation within the IFQ 
program. For species within the commercial sector of a Gulf IFQ 
program, this rule would make the IFQ program itself the AM for the 
commercial sector because commercial landings are closely monitored and 
IFQ participants are limited to their specific IFQ allocation each 
fishing year. Thus, if the stock ACL were exceeded, the reason for the 
overage would be attributable to an excessive harvest by the 
recreational sector. Therefore, this rule would implement AMs for the 
recreational sector in the event of a stock ACL overage for the IFQ 
related species. The three stock complexes whose commercial sectors are 
managed under an IFQ program but whose recreational sectors do not 
currently have AMs in place are tilefishes, other SWG, and DWG.
    The second category of species or species groups that would have 
AMs implemented through this rule are those species or species groups 
that do not currently have AMs in place for either the commercial or 
recreational sector. This rule would implement new ACLs and AMs in both 
sectors for the following: Vermilion snapper, lane snapper, mid-water 
snappers (silk snapper, wenchman, blackfin snapper, and queen snapper), 
mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, gray snapper, cubera snapper, 
hogfish, jacks (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish), 
and royal red shrimp.
    For this second category of stocks, with the exception of royal red 
shrimp and vermilion snapper, if a stock or stock complex exceeds its 
ACL in a given fishing year, then during the following fishing year, if 
the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected 
to reach the stock ACL, the commercial and recreational sectors would 
be closed for the remainder of that fishing year. There is no federally 
managed recreational sector for royal red shrimp, so the ACL only 
applies to the commercial sector. The AM for royal red shrimp would 
apply if commercial landings exceed the ACL in a given fishing year. In 
that case then during the following fishing year, if the commercial 
landings reach, or are projected to reach, the ACL, the commercial 
sector would be closed for the remainder of that fishing year.
    In the case of vermilion snapper, in any fishing year, if the 
combined commercial and recreational landings reach or exceed the stock 
ACL during the fishing year, then both the commercial and recreational 
sectors would be closed for the remainder of that fishing year.
    For stocks for which an ACL would be set through this rulemaking, 
none are currently overfished, in a rebuilding plan, or undergoing 
overfishing. Therefore, there is a reduced likelihood an ACL would be 
exceeded.

Species in the Amendment Without a Codified ACL or AM

    The Generic ACL Amendment proposes to retain Federal management 
for, and keep within their respective fishery management units, several 
species that will not have specifically codified ACLs and AMs. These 
species are red drum, goliath grouper, and corals (excluding 
octocorals). Harvesting these species is currently prohibited in Gulf 
Federal waters, and they therefore have a functional ACL of zero. 
Additionally, the harvest prohibition serves as a functional AM to 
manage the ACL.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Generic ACL Amendment, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA for this rule, as required by Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic impact 
that this rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description 
of the rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and 
legal basis for the rule are contained at the beginning of this section 
in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of 
the full analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A 
summary of the IRFA follows.
    The rule would remove octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs 
FMP; remove Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP; and remove 
species that have average annual landings of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or 
less or those that are primarily harvested in state waters, including 
anchor tilefish, blackline tilefish, red hind, rock hind, misty 
grouper, schoolmaster, dog snapper, and mahogany snapper, sand perch 
and dwarf sand perch from the Reef Fish Fishery FMP. The rule would 
also create the additional species groups other shallow-water groupers 
(black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, and yellowfin grouper), 
deep-water groupers (warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and 
yellowedge grouper), tilefishes (golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, 
and goldface tilefish), jacks (almaco jack, banded rudderfish, and 
lesser amberjack), and mid-water snapper (silk snapper, wenchman, 
blackfin snapper, and queen snapper), without using any indicator 
species within each group.
    The rule would adopt an ABC control rule providing separate 
guidance in setting ABC for Tier 1 species (assessed stocks with 
estimates of MSY and probability distribution around the estimate), 
Tier 2 species (assessed stocks without estimates of MSY or its proxy), 
Tier 3a (unassessed stocks but deemed stable over time), and Tier 3b 
(unassessed stocks with current fishing levels deemed by the SSC as not 
sustainable). The rule would additionally establish an initial estimate 
of ACL/ACT, based on a spreadsheet method and followed by a review by 
the Council's Socioeconomic Panel, for seven individual reef fish 
species (vermilion snapper, lane snapper, gray snapper, hogfish, cubera 
snapper, mutton snapper, and yellowtail snapper) and five reef fish 
species complexes (other shallow-water grouper, deep-water grouper, 
tilefishes, jacks, and mid-water snappers). The rule would also adopt a 
generic framework procedure by modifying existing framework procedures 
under the Reef Fish, Gulf Shrimp, and Red Drum Fishery FMPs and 
establishing a framework procedure for the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP; 
and would specify an ACL of 334,000 lb (151,500 kg) of tails for royal 
red shrimp based on the overfishing limit of 392,000 lb (177,808 kg) of 
tails as recommended by the SSC.
    Moreover, the rule would establish the ABCs in the Gulf Council's 
area of

[[Page 66024]]

jurisdiction for several species managed separately by both the Gulf 
and South Atlantic Councils, but for which only single stock 
assessments, and single ABCs covering both Council's areas of 
jurisdictions, were provided. The amendment would set the following 
apportionment of those overarching ABC's: 47 percent of the black 
grouper ABC for the South Atlantic Council and 53 percent for the Gulf 
Council; 75 percent of the yellowtail snapper for the South Atlantic 
Council and 25 percent for the Gulf Council; 82 percent of the mutton 
snapper ABC for the South Atlantic Council and 18 percent for the Gulf 
Council. The rule would also further allocate the Gulf Council's black 
grouper ACL into 27 percent for the recreational sector and 73 percent 
for the commercial sector; set annual ACLs and optional ACTs based on 
the ACL/ACT control rule, with ACL being equal to ABC, unless otherwise 
specified by the Council. The rule would implement in-season AMs for 
vermilion snapper by closing the commercial and recreational sectors 
when the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached within a 
fishing year; implement in-season AMs for other reef fish species 
without an existing AM and royal red shrimp if the stock ACL is 
exceeded in the previous year; set the trigger for post-season AMs when 
landings exceed the ACL without applying any overage adjustment to the 
following year's ACL.
    The purpose of this rule is to implement the National Standard 1 
guidelines to establish the methods for implementing ACLs, AMs and 
associated parameters for stocks managed by the Gulf Council, along 
with initial specifications of an ACL that may be changed under the 
framework procedures for specifying an ACL. Additionally, this rule is 
intended to improve management capability to prevent or end overfishing 
and to maintain stocks at healthy levels, and to do so in a consistent 
and structured manner across all FMPs.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule.
    The rule would not establish any new reporting or record-keeping 
requirements. However, the AMs may constitute a new compliance 
requirement and are analyzed later in the IRFA. No duplicative, 
overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified for this 
rule. Management of certain species affected by this rule was developed 
with explicit consideration of applicable rules in the state of Florida 
and the South Atlantic Council.
    The rule is expected to directly affect commercial harvesting and 
for-hire fishing vessels that harvest reef fish, royal red shrimp, red 
drum, or octocorals in the Gulf. It should be noted that harvest and 
possession of red drum in the Gulf EEZ is currently prohibited. The 
Small Business Administration has established size criteria for all 
major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters and for-
hire operations. A business involved in fish harvesting is classified 
as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 
114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. 
For for-hire vessels, all the above qualifiers apply except that the 
annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, 
recreational industries).
    In 2009, there were 999 vessels with Gulf commercial reef fish 
permits and 430 vessels with Gulf royal red shrimp permits. There is no 
entity possessing a Federal permit for harvesting red drum or 
octocorals in the Gulf EEZ. Based on home states, as reported in 
Federal permit applications, vessels with commercial reef fish permits 
were distributed as follows: 37 vessels in Alabama, 814 vessels in 
Florida, 48 vessels in Louisiana, 15 vessels in Mississippi, 77 vessels 
in Texas, and 8 vessels in other states. The corresponding distribution 
of vessels with royal red shrimp permits is as follows: 57 vessels in 
Alabama, 65 vessels in Florida, 88 vessels in Louisiana, 25 vessels in 
Mississippi, 152 vessels in Texas, and 43 vessels in other states. In 
2008 and 2009, the maximum annual commercial fishing revenue by an 
individual vessel with a commercial Gulf reef fish permit was 
approximately $606,000 (2008 dollars). The maximum revenue by an 
individual vessel in the royal red shrimp or coral fisheries was far 
less than $606,000.
    The for-hire fleet is comprised of charterboats, which charge a fee 
on a vessel basis, and headboats, which charge a fee on an individual 
angler (head) basis. In 2009, there were 1,419 for-hire vessels that 
were permitted to operate in the Gulf reef fish fishery. These vessels 
were distributed as follows: 141 vessels in Alabama, 876 vessels in 
Florida, 100 vessels in Louisiana, 52 vessels in Mississippi, 232 
vessels in Texas, and 18 vessels in other states. The for-hire permit 
does not distinguish between headboats and charter boats, but in 2009 
the headboat survey program included 79 headboats. The majority of 
headboats were located in Florida (43), followed by Texas (22), Alabama 
(10), and Louisiana (4). The average charterboat is estimated to earn 
approximately $88,000 (2008 dollars) in annual revenues, while the 
average headboat is estimated to earn approximately $461,000 (2008 
dollars).
    Based on the foregoing revenue estimates, all commercial and for-
hire vessels expected to be directly affected by this rule are 
determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business 
entities. Some fleet activity (i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single 
entity) may exist in the for-hire sector but its extent is unknown, and 
all vessels are treated as independent entities in this analysis.
    Because all entities expected to be directly affected by this rule 
are small business entities, no disproportionate effects on small 
entities relative to large entities are expected because of this rule.
    Removing octocorals from the Coral and Coral Reefs FMP is mainly 
administrative in nature and would have no direct effects on the 
profitability of small business entities. Removing Nassau grouper from 
the Reef Fish Fishery FMP, with eventual management of the species 
being assumed by the South Atlantic Council, has no direct effects on 
the profits of small entities, given the current prohibition on the 
harvest of this species. Removing species from the Reef Fish Fishery 
FMP which have average annual landings of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) or less 
(except those misidentified as another species or those exhibiting a 
trend landings that may indicate a change is status), or those mainly 
harvested in state waters, such as anchor tilefish, blackline tilefish, 
red hind, rock hind, misty grouper, schoolmaster, dog snapper, mahogany 
snapper, sand perch, and dwarf sand fish, would not directly change the 
current harvest or use of a resource, and therefore would not affect 
the profitability of small entities. Similarly, rearranging species 
into species groupings would not directly change the current harvest or 
use of a resource, and therefore would not affect the profitability of 
small entities.
    The establishment of an ABC control rule is not anticipated to 
directly affect the harvest and other typical uses of the resource 
since this action is administrative in nature. As such, this management 
action is not expected to result in any direct effects on the profits 
of small entities.
    The establishment of an ACL/ACT control rule is an administrative 
action and would not affect the harvest and other customary uses of the 
resource. Therefore, this action has no direct

[[Page 66025]]

consequence on the profitability of small entities.
    Modifications to the framework procedure are also administrative in 
nature. Since these modifications would not affect the harvest and 
other customary uses of the resource, they would have no direct 
consequence on the profitability of small entities.
    Any management actions enacted through the modified framework 
procedure would be evaluated as to their effects on the profits of 
small entities at the time of their implementation. Initial ACL 
specification for royal red shrimp would set the ACL for the species at 
334,000 lb tails (151,500 kg) which are significantly above the 
historical landings (138,116 lb (62,648 kg) in 2008). This action, 
therefore, would not affect harvests and profits of small entities in 
the foreseeable future.
    Apportioning black grouper between the Gulf and South Atlantic 
Council's jurisdictional areas would result in an increase of profits 
(producer surplus) to the commercial sector ranging from approximately 
$90,000 to $113,000 annually for all vessels combined. The effects on 
for-hire profits are expected to be positive but cannot be quantified 
with available information. The apportionment of yellowtail snapper 
between the Gulf and South Atlantic Council's jurisdictional areas is 
very close to the recent landings ratio of the species between the two 
jurisdictional areas. Thus, this management action is expected to have 
minimal effects on the profits of small entities in both areas.
    The apportionment of mutton snapper between the Gulf and South 
Atlantic Council's jurisdictional areas would favor the Gulf fishing 
fleet and thus would be expected to increase the profits of the Gulf 
fishing fleet. The effects on the profits of the South Atlantic fishing 
fleet would, in turn, decrease. In the absence of sufficient 
information to quantify the effects of this action, its net effects on 
the fishing fleets of both areas cannot be determined.
    The apportionment of black grouper in the Gulf between the 
commercial and recreational sectors would tend to favor the commercial 
over the recreational sector. In this sense, the commercial sector is 
expected to experience profit increases ranging from approximately 
$11,000 to $14,000 annually for all vessels combined. The negative 
effects on the for-hire fleet cannot be estimated with available 
information. Potential effects on small entities anticipated from the 
implementation of ACLs and/or ACTs for reef fish stocks and stock 
groupings would depend on the extent to which ACLs and ACTs under 
consideration would affect the harvest or other customary uses of the 
resource. While this action does not set any reef fish species and 
stock groupings ACLs or ACTs for the recreational sector, aggregate 
catch limits and targets and the ACLs and ACTs specified for the 
commercial sector would allow for an increased harvest levels for both 
sectors. Therefore, positive effects on the profits of small entities 
would be expected to result from this action in the near future.
    Specifying in-season AMs for vermilion snapper when the ACL is 
reached or projected to be reached within the fishing year would result 
in short-term negative effects on the profits of small entities. The 
expectation, however, over the medium and long-term is for profits of 
these small entities to increase or at least not be further impaired 
due to increased protection for the stock. Implementing AMs for royal 
red shrimp and other reef fish species that do not currently have AMs 
enacted the following year after their ACLs are exceeded would 
negatively affect the short-term profits of small entities. Again, the 
expectation is for this action to improve medium and long-term 
profitability.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the management of octocorals. The first alternative, the 
no action alternative, would retain the management of species under the 
Gulf Coral and Coral Reefs FMP. The second alternative would remove the 
species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the 
responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred 
alternative, these two other alternatives would have no direct effects 
on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly 
entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic 
Council.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the management of Nassau grouper. The first alternative, 
the no action alternative, would retain the management of the species 
under the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The second alternative would remove the 
species from the FMP, with eventual management of the species being the 
responsibility of the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred 
alternative, these two other alternatives would have no direct effects 
on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would mainly 
entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South Atlantic 
Council.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the management of yellowtail snapper. The first 
alternative would remove the species from the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The 
second alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual 
management of the species being the responsibility of the South 
Atlantic Council. The third alternative would add the species to a 
joint plan with the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred no 
action alternative, these three other alternatives would have no 
effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would 
mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South 
Atlantic Council.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the management of mutton snapper. The first alternative 
would remove the species from the Gulf Reef Fish FMP. The second 
alternative would remove the species from the FMP, with eventual 
management of the species being the responsibility of the South 
Atlantic Council. The third alternative would add the species to a 
joint plan with the South Atlantic Council. Similar to the preferred no 
action alternative, these three other alternatives would have no direct 
effects on the profits of small entities. The second alternative would 
mainly entail additional administrative cost on the part of the South 
Atlantic Council while the third alternative would entail additional 
administrative costs on both Councils.
    Five alternatives, of which two are the preferred alternatives, 
were considered for removing stocks from the Reef Fish FMP. The first 
alternative, the no action alternative, would not remove any species 
from Gulf Reef Fish FMP. This alternative would have no direct effects 
on the short-term profitability of small entities, but over time this 
is more likely to result in profit reduction than the preferred 
alternative when certain species with historically low landings become 
subject to restrictive measures. The second alternative would remove 
species with average landings of 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) or below from 
the Reef Fish FMP, except for species that are long-lived, may be 
misidentified as another species, or have trends in landings that may 
indicate a change in status. This alternative would have no direct 
short-term effects on profits of small entities, but with a relatively 
high historical landings threshold certain species may not be well 
protected for long-term sustainability. This could then eventually lead 
to lower harvest and lower profits to small entities over time. The 
third alternative would

[[Page 66026]]

remove species from the Reef Fish FMP if Federal waters are at the edge 
of the species distribution. This alternative would not directly affect 
the profitability of small entities, and could possibly have similar 
long-term effects as the preferred alternative.
    Five alternatives, of which two with one sub-alternative are the 
preferred alternatives, were considered for species groupings. The 
first alternative, the no action alternative, would maintain the 
current species groupings. This alternative would have no direct short-
term economic effects on small entities. The second alternative would 
revise the species groupings by adding groupings when life history and 
landings data may be too sparse to set individual catch limits. 
Although this alternative would have no direct consequence on the 
economic status of small entities, it would provide for a greater 
number of groupings. The third alternative would use species groupings 
based on NMFS analysis, which uses fishery-dependent data from multiple 
sectors over multiple years and life history data when available 
creating complexes and sub-complexes. This alternative would have no 
direct effects on the economic status of small entities, but it would 
provide for more groupings than the preferred alternative. In addition 
to these alternatives, two other sub-alternatives were considered 
regarding the selection of an indicator species within each grouping, 
noting that the preferred sub-option is not to use any indicator 
species. The first sub-option is to use as an indicator species the 
most vulnerable stock in the group based on productivity-susceptibility 
analysis. This sub-option would likely result in more restrictive 
environment that would condition the implementation of ACLs and other 
management measures. The second sub-option would use the assessed 
species as an indicator species. This sub-option has similar effects as 
the first sub-option but it would be relatively less constrictive.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the ABC control rule. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not specify an ABC control rule. This 
alternative would have no immediate effects on the economic status of 
small entities, but it may not comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
National Standard 1 guidelines, which require Councils to establish an 
acceptable ABC control rule. The second alternative would adopt an ABC 
control rule fixing the buffer between the overfishing limit and ABC at 
a level such that ABC is equal to 75 percent of the overfishing limit 
or ABC is equal to the yield at 75 percent of FMSY (fishing 
mortality at maximum sustainable yield). Although this alternative is 
simpler than the preferred alternative, it lacks the stock specificity 
contained in the preferred alternative.
    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the ACL/ACT control rule. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not establish an ACL/ACT control rule. The 
second alternative would establish an initial estimate of ACL/ACT based 
upon a flow chart method that reviews data availability, data 
timeliness, and data quality to develop the ACT buffer percentage, and 
followed by a review by the Council's Socioeconomic Panel. This 
alternative would have economic effects similar to the preferred 
alternative, but it would produce a less conservative buffer when 
comparing stock complexes or stocks with high dead discard levels. 
Therefore, this alternative may result in less adverse economic impacts 
in the short term than the preferred alternative. The third alternative 
would set the buffer between ACL and ACT at a fixed percentage of 25 
percent for all sectors, 0 percent for IFQ (individual fishing quota) 
fisheries and 25 percent for all other sectors, or 2 percent for IFQ 
fisheries and 25 percent for all other sectors, and followed by a 
review by the Council's Socioeconomic Panel. This alternative may 
result in lower economic benefits than the preferred alternative, 
because it would establish control rules that may not take account of 
stock specificity. The fourth alternative would set the buffer between 
ACL and ACT at a fixed percentage of 0 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 
or 25 percent, followed by a review by the Council's Socioeconomic 
Panel. This alternative has about the same economic implications as the 
third alternative, except possibly when dealing with IFQ species, so 
that it would also tend to provide lower economic benefits than the 
preferred alternative.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the generic framework procedures. The first alternative, 
the no action alternative, would retain the current framework 
procedures for implementing management measures. The second alternative 
would add modifications that would make the framework procedures 
broader than the preferred alternative while the third alternative 
would make the framework procedures narrower than the preferred 
alternative. Similar to the preferred alternative, these three other 
alternatives would have no direct economic effects on small entities.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for specifying ACL for royal red shrimp. The first 
alternative, the no action alternative, would not set an ACL for the 
species. This alternative is the least likely to affect the profits of 
small entities but it would not meet the legal requirements for 
establishing an ACL by 2011. The second alternative would set an ACL 
for the species based on average landings from 1962-2008 (141,379 lb 
(64,128 kg) of tails), from the last 5 years (191,860 lb (87,026 kg) of 
tails), or from the last 10 years (233,182 lb (105,770 kg) of tails). 
This alternative would likely result in a harvest reduction and profit 
reduction as well, except when the ACL is set at the highest of the 
three sub-options. Other sub-options would set the ACL equal to 75 
percent of ABC (250,500 lb (113,625 kg)) or set the ACL corresponding 
to the ACL/ACT control rule. These sub-options would be unlikely to 
result in short-term profit reductions although they are more 
restrictive than the preferred alternative/sub-alternative.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional 
apportionment of the black grouper ABC, as agreed upon by both 
councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not 
apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. 
This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings 
and potentially the economic benefits between the Gulf and South 
Atlantic fishing fleets. The second alternative would evenly apportion 
the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. The 
resulting effects of this alternative on small entities would be lower 
profits than the preferred alternative.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional 
apportionment of the yellowtail snapper ABC, as agreed upon by both 
councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not 
apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. 
This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings 
and potentially the economic benefits between the Gulf and South 
Atlantic fishing fleets. The second alternative would apportion 73 
percent of the species ABC to the South Atlantic Council and 27 percent 
to the Gulf Council. This alternative would potentially yield higher 
profits to the Gulf fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, but 
the difference in the profit outcome of the two alternatives would be 
relatively small. The third

[[Page 66027]]

alternative would apportion 77 percent to the South Atlantic Council 
and 23 percent to the Gulf Council. This alternative would result in 
lower profits to the Gulf fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, 
although the difference in profit outcome between the two alternatives 
would be relatively small.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for establishing the Gulf portion of the jurisdictional 
apportionment of the mutton snapper ABC, as agreed upon by both 
councils. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not 
apportion the species ABC between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils. 
This alternative would tend to maintain the distribution of landings 
and potentially economic benefits between the Gulf and South Atlantic 
fishing fleets. The second alternative would apportion 79 percent of 
the species ABC to the South Atlantic Council and 21 percent to the 
Gulf Council. This alternative would result in lower profits to Gulf 
fishing fleet than the preferred alternative, although the difference 
in profit outcome between the two alternatives would be relatively 
small.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the sector allocation of black grouper. The first 
alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish sector 
allocation of the species. This alternative would tend to maintain the 
distribution of landings and potentially economic benefits between the 
commercial and recreational sectors. The second alternative would 
allocate 18 percent of the species ACL to the recreational sector and 
82 percent to the commercial sector. This alternative would result in 
higher profit increases to the commercial sector than the preferred 
alternative. However, it would also result in higher profit reductions 
to the for-hire fleet. The net effects of this alternative cannot be 
estimated with available information. The third alternative would 
allocate 24 percent of the species ACL to the recreational sector and 
76 percent to the commercial sector. This alternative would provide 
slightly higher profitability to the commercial sector and lower 
profitability to the for-hire sector than the preferred alternative. 
The net effects of this alternative cannot be estimated with available 
information.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, and two 
sub-options, one of which is the preferred sub-option, were considered 
for specifying ACLs/ACTs for reef fish stocks and stock groupings. The 
first alternative, the no action alternative, would not set an annual 
ACL/ACT for stocks or stock groups, but this would not meet the legal 
requirements for establishing an ACL by 2011. The second alternative 
would set a 10 percent buffer between the ABC and ACL or between the 
ACL and ACT if ACL is equal to ABC. This alternative would likely 
result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred 
alternative. The second sub-option would set the ABC equal to the value 
specified in the ACL/ACT control rule, with the ACT not being used 
unless specified otherwise by the Council. This alternative would 
likely result in profits to small entities that would be equal to or 
less than those of the preferred alternative.
    Four alternatives, of which two are the preferred alternatives, and 
five sub-options, of which two are the preferred sub-options, were 
considered for AMs. The first alternative, the no action alternative, 
would not create new AMs for reef fish and royal red shrimp. This 
alternative would likely result in higher profits to small entities 
than the preferred alternative, but it would not be consistent with the 
requirement to establish AMs for stocks managed by the Council. The 
second alternative would implement only post-season AMs for stocks and 
sectors that do not currently have AMs should the ACL for a year be 
exceeded. This alternative would likely result in larger profit 
reductions in the short-term than the preferred alternative due to 
possibly more restrictive corrective actions being implemented to 
address ACL overages. The first sub-option would set the trigger for 
post-season AMs if the average landings for the past 3 years exceed the 
ACL. This sub-option would likely result in lower short-term profit 
reductions than the preferred alternative, although over time it would 
result in larger profit reductions due to more restrictive actions to 
remedy the overages. The second sub-option would set the trigger for 
post-season AMs if average landings for the past 5 years, after 
excluding the highest and lowest values, exceed the ACL. This 
alternative would have nearly similar effects as the second 
alternative. The third sub-option would provide for an overage 
adjustment if the ACL for the stock or sector is exceeded and the stock 
is under a rebuilding plan. The amount of adjustment would equal the 
full amount of the overage, unless the best scientific information 
shows a lesser amount is needed to mitigate the effects of exceeding 
the ACL. This sub-option would result in larger profit reductions in 
the short-term than the preferred alternative due to harvest reductions 
that would be implemented to mitigate the overages.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Virgin Islands.

    Dated: October 20, 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 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC

    1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as 
follows:

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


Sec.  622.1  [Amended]

    2. In Sec.  622.1, paragraph (b), in Table 1, remove the row 
titled, ``FMP for Coral and Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Mexico''.
    3. In Sec.  622.2, the definitions for ``deep-water grouper (DWG)'' 
and ``shallow-water grouper (SWG)'' are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.2  Definitions and acronyms.

* * * * *
    Deep-water grouper (DWG) means, in the Gulf, yellowedge grouper, 
warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind. In addition, for the 
purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes in Sec.  
622.20, scamp are also included as DWG as specified in Sec.  
622.20(b)(2)(vi).
* * * * *
    Shallow-water grouper (SWG) means, in the Gulf, gag, red grouper, 
black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper. In 
addition, for the purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and 
tilefishes in Sec.  622.20, speckled hind and warsaw grouper are also 
included as SWG as specified in Sec.  622.20(b)(2)(v).
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  622.3, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.3  Relation to other laws and regulations.

* * * * *
    (c) For allowable octocoral, if a state has a catch, landing, or 
gear regulation that is more restrictive than a catch, landing, or gear 
regulation in this part, a person landing in such state allowable 
octocoral taken from the South Atlantic EEZ must comply with the more 
restrictive state regulation.
* * * * *

[[Page 66028]]

    5. In Sec.  622.4, the first sentence of paragraph (a)(2)(ix) and 
paragraph (a)(3)(ii) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.4  Permits and fees.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ix) Gulf IFQ vessel accounts. For a person aboard a vessel, for 
which a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, to 
fish for, possess, or land Gulf red snapper or Gulf groupers (including 
DWG and SWG, as specified in Sec.  622.20(a)) or tilefishes (including 
goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish), regardless of 
where harvested or possessed, a Gulf IFQ vessel account for the 
applicable species or species groups must have been established. * * *
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Allowable octocoral. For an individual to take or possess 
allowable octocoral in the South Atlantic EEZ, other than allowable 
octocoral that is landed in Florida, a Federal allowable octocoral 
permit must have been issued to the individual. Such permit must be 
available for inspection when the permitted activity is being conducted 
and when allowable octocoral is possessed, through landing ashore.
* * * * *
    6. In Sec.  622.20, the first three sentences in paragraph (a) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.20  Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers 
and tilefishes.

    (a) General. This section establishes an IFQ program for the 
commercial components of the Gulf reef fish fishery for groupers 
(including DWG, red grouper, gag, and other SWG) and tilefishes 
(including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish). For the 
purposes of this IFQ program, DWG includes yellowedge grouper, warsaw 
grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind, and scamp, but only as 
specified in paragraph (b)(2)(vi) of this section. For the purposes of 
this IFQ program, other SWG includes black grouper, scamp, yellowfin 
grouper, and yellowmouth grouper, and warsaw grouper and speckled hind, 
but only as specified in paragraph (b)(2)(v) of this section. * * *
* * * * *
    7. In Sec.  622.31, paragraphs (f) and (n) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.31  Prohibited gear and methods.

* * * * *
    (f) Power-assisted tools. A power-assisted tool may not be used in 
the Caribbean EEZ to take a Caribbean coral reef resource, in the Gulf 
EEZ to take prohibited coral or live rock, or in the South Atlantic EEZ 
to take allowable octocoral, prohibited coral, or live rock.
* * * * *
    (n) Gulf reef fish may not be used as bait in any fishery, except 
that, when purchased from a fish processor, the filleted carcasses and 
offal of Gulf reef fish may be used as bait in trap fisheries for blue 
crab, stone crab, deep-water crab, and spiny lobster.
    8. In Sec.  622.32, the first sentence of paragraph (b)(2)(iii) is 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.32  Prohibited and limited-harvest species.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) Red drum may not be harvested or possessed in or from the 
Gulf EEZ. * * *
* * * * *
    9. In Sec.  622.34, the third sentence of paragraph (g)(1) is 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.34  Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * * The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to hogfish.
* * * * *
    10. In Sec.  622.37, paragraph (d)(1)(iii) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.37  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Cubera, gray, and yellowtail snappers--12 inches (30.5 cm), 
TL.
* * * * *
    11. In Sec.  622.39, the first sentence in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) and 
paragraph (b)(1)(v) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.39  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Groupers, combined, excluding goliath grouper--4 per person 
per day, but not to exceed 1 speckled hind or 1 warsaw grouper per 
vessel per day, or 2 gag per person per day. * * *
* * * * *
    (v) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in 
paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (b)(1)(iv) and paragraphs (b)(1)(vi) 
through (b)(1)(vii) of this section--20.
* * * * *
    12. In Sec.  622.42, paragraph (a)(1)(ii), the introductory 
paragraph for paragraph (a)(1)(iii), paragraph (a)(1)(iii)(A), 
paragraph (a)(1)(iv), and paragraph (b) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.42  Quotas.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Deep-water groupers (DWG) have a combined quota, as specified 
in paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(A) through (E) of this section. These quotas 
are specified in gutted weight, that is eviscerated, but otherwise 
whole.
    (A) For fishing year 2012--1.127 million lb (0.511 million kg).
    (B) For fishing year 2013--1.118 million lb (0.507 million kg).
    (C) For fishing year 2014--1.110 million lb (0.503 million kg).
    (D) For fishing year 2015--1.101 million lb (0.499 million kg).
    (E) For fishing year 2016 and subsequent fishing years--1.024 
million lb (0.464 million kg).
    (iii) Shallow-water groupers (SWG) have separate quotas for gag and 
red grouper and a combined quota for other shallow-water grouper (SWG) 
species (including black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and 
yellowmouth grouper), as specified in paragraphs (a)(1)(iii)(A) through 
(C) of this section. These quotas are specified in gutted weight, that 
is eviscerated but otherwise whole.
    (A) Other SWG combined. (1) For fishing year 2012--509,000 lb 
(230,879 kg).
    (2) For fishing year 2013--518,000 lb (234,961 kg).
    (3) For fishing year 2014--523,000 lb (237,229 kg).
    (4) For fishing year 2015 and subsequent fishing years--525,000 lb 
(238,136 kg).
* * * * *
    (iv) Tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, 
and tilefish)--582,000 lb (263,991 kg), gutted weight, that is, 
eviscerated but otherwise whole.
* * * * *
    (b) South Atlantic allowable octocoral. The quota for all persons 
who harvest allowable octocoral in the EEZ of the South Atlantic is 
50,000 colonies. A colony is a continuous group of coral polyps forming 
a single unit.
* * * * *
    13. In Sec.  622.43, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.43  Closures.

    (a) * * *
    (2) South Atlantic allowable octocoral. Allowable octocoral may not 
be harvested or possessed in the South Atlantic EEZ and the sale or 
purchase of

[[Page 66029]]

allowable octocoral in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is prohibited.
* * * * *
    14. In Sec.  622.48, paragraphs (d), (e), (i), and (j) are revised 
and paragraph (p) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.48  Adjustment of management measures.

* * * * *
    (d) Gulf reef fish. For a species or species group: Reporting and 
monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and possession 
limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip 
limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits 
(ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of 
zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, 
management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, 
gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), 
gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, 
allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding 
plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish 
in whole condition, use as bait).
    (e) Gulf royal red shrimp. Reporting and monitoring requirements, 
permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed 
seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual 
catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), 
accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management 
parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear 
restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear 
markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, 
allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding 
plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining 
shrimp in whole condition, use as bait).
* * * * *
    (i) Gulf shrimp. For a species or species group: Reporting and 
monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, vessel 
trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch 
limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota 
of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, 
management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, 
gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), 
gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, 
allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding 
plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining 
shrimp in whole condition, use as bait), target effort and fishing 
mortality reduction levels, bycatch reduction criteria, BRD 
certification and decertification criteria, BRD testing protocol, 
certified BRDs, and BRD specification.
    (j) Gulf red drum. Reporting and monitoring requirements, 
permitting requirements, bag and possession limits (including a bag 
limit of zero), size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or 
areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets 
(ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures 
(AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, management parameters such as 
overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from 
regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, 
vessel markings and identification, allowable biological catch (ABC) 
and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, sale and purchase 
restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and restrictions relative to 
conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish in whole condition, use 
as bait).
* * * * *
    (p) Gulf coral resources. For a species or species group: Reporting 
and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and 
possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel 
trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch 
limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota 
of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, 
management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, 
gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), 
gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, 
allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding 
plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested corals.
    15. In Sec.  622.49, the heading for Sec.  622.49 and paragraph 
(a)(3) are revised and paragraphs (a)(6) through (a)(16) and paragraph 
(d) are added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.49  Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs).

    (a) * * *
    (3) Other shallow-water grouper (SWG) combined (including black 
grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper). (i) 
Commercial sector. The IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes in the 
Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for other 
commercial SWG. The commercial ACL for other SWG is equal to the 
applicable quota specified in Sec.  622.42(a)(1)(iii)(A).
    (ii) Recreational sector. If the sum of the commercial and 
recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock 
complex ACL specified in paragraph (a)(3)(iii), then during the 
following fishing year, if the sum of the commercial and recreational 
landings reaches or is projected to reach the applicable ACL specified 
in (a)(3)(iii), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of 
that fishing year.
    (iii) The stock complex ACLs for other SWG, in gutted weight, are 
688,000 lb (312,072 kg) for 2012, 700,000 lb (317,515 kg) for 2013, 
707,000 lb (320,690 kg) for 2014, and 710,000 lb (322,051 kg) for 2015 
and subsequent years.
* * * * *
    (6) Deep-water grouper (DWG) combined (including yellowedge 
grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind)--
    (i) Commercial sector. The IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes 
in the Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for 
commercial DWG. The commercial ACL for DWG is equal to the applicable 
quota specified in Sec.  622.42(a)(1)(ii).
    (ii) Recreational sector. If the sum of the commercial and 
recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock 
complex ACL specified in paragraph (a)(6)(iii) of this section, then 
during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and 
recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the applicable 
ACL specified in (a)(6)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the 
recreational sector for the remainder of that fishing year.
    (iii) The stock complex ACLs for DWG, in gutted weight, are 1.216 
million lb (0.552 million kg) for 2012, 1.207 million lb (0.547 million 
kg) for 2013, 1.198 million lb (0.543 million kg) for 2014, 1.189 
million lb (0.539 million kg) for 2015, and 1.105 million lb (0.501 
million kg) for 2016 and subsequent years.
    (7) Tilefishes combined (including goldface tilefish, blueline 
tilefish, and tilefish)--(i) Commercial sector. The IFQ program for 
groupers and tilefishes in

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the Gulf of Mexico serves as the accountability measure for commercial 
tilefishes. The commercial ACL for tilefishes is equal