Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to 2012 Annual Catch Limits, 79610-79612 [2011-32846]

Download as PDF 79610 53.105 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 246 / Thursday, December 22, 2011 / Proposed Rules Computer generation. (a) The forms prescribed by this part may be computer generated without exception approval (see 53.103), provided— (1) There is no change to the name, content, or sequence of the data elements, and the form carries the Standard or Optional Form number and edition date (see 53.111); or (2) The form is in an electronic format covered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) X12 Standards published by the Accredited Standards Committee X12 on Electronic Data Interchange or a format that can be translated into one of those standards. (b) The standards listed in paragraph (a)(2) above may also be used for submission of data set forth in other parts for which specific forms have not been prescribed. [FR Doc. 2011–32722 Filed 12–21–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820–EP–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 111207734–1733–01] RIN 0648–BB50 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to 2012 Annual Catch Limits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: This action proposes to reduce the 2012 annual catch limits (ACLs) for the Atlantic herring (herring) fishery to account for catch overages in 2010 and to prevent overfishing. DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on January 6, 2012. ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents, the 2010–2012 Herring Specifications and Amendment 4 to the Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP), are available from: Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone (978) 465–0492. These documents are also accessible via the Internet at http:// www.nero.nmfs.gov. jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:15 Dec 21, 2011 Jkt 226001 You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2011–0275, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011–0275 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail: NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on Adjustment to 2012 Herring Catch Limits.’’ • Fax: (978) 281–9135, Attn: Carrie Nordeen. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF formats only. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9272, fax (978) 281–9135. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Atlantic herring harvest in the United States is managed under the Herring FMP developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), and implemented by NMFS, in 2000. The Council developed herring specifications for 2010–2012, which were approved by NMFS on August 12, 2010 (75 FR 48874). Although herring is not overfished and is not experiencing overfishing, the herring annual acceptable biological catch for fishing years 2010–2012 (106,000 mt) was reduced from previous years (145,000 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 mt in 2009) due to concerns about a retrospective pattern in the 2009 herring stock assessment that over-estimates biomass. The stock-wide herring ACL (91,200 mt) is divided among three management areas, one of which has two sub-areas. Area 1 is located in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and is divided into an inshore section (Area 1A) and an offshore section (Area 1B). Area 2 is located in the coastal waters between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 is on Georges Bank (GB). The herring stock complex is considered to be a single stock, but there are inshore (GOM) and offshore (GB) stock components. The GOM and GB stock components segregate during spawning and mix during feeding and migration. Each management area has its own subACL to allow greater control of the fishing mortality on each stock component. While the stock-wide herring ACL for 2010–2012 was not reduced below the 2008 catch level, the management area sub-ACLs were reduced from 2009 levels by 20 to 60 percent. The management area subACLs established for 2010–2012 were: 26,546 mt for Area 1A, 4,362 mt for Area 1B, 22,146 mt for Area 2, and 38,146 mt for Area 3. Amendment 4 to the Herring FMP (Amendment 4) (76 FR 11373, March 2, 2011) revised the specification-setting process, bringing the Herring FMP into compliance with ACL and accountability measure (AM) requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Under the FMP, if NMFS determines catch will reach 95 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to a management area or seasonal period, then NMFS prohibits vessels from fishing for, possessing, catching, transferring, or landing more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring per trip from that area or period. This AM slows catch to prevent or minimize catch in excess of a management area or seasonal period sub-ACL. As a way to account for ACL overages in the herring fishery, Amendment 4 established an AM that provided for overage deductions. If the catch of herring in any given fishing year exceeds any ACL or sub-ACL, the overage will subsequently be deducted from the corresponding ACL/sub-ACL. Fishing year 2010 was the first year that NMFS monitored herring catch against the recently reduced management area sub-ACLs. NMFS experienced difficulty determining when to implement the 2,000-lb (907.2kg) possession limit in Area 1B because of a pulse of fishing effort in that area. NMFS had similar difficulties E:\FR\FM\22DEP1.SGM 22DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 246 / Thursday, December 22, 2011 / Proposed Rules determining when to implement the possession limit in Area 1A because catch rates were highly variable. Ultimately, catch from Areas 1B and 1A exceeded their allocations by 1,639 mt and 1,878 mt, respectively. These experiences demonstrated that more timely catch reporting was needed to better monitor catch against sub-ACLs and to allow catch to achieve, but not exceed, management area sub-ACLs. Therefore, in September 2011, NMFS revised vessels reporting requirements to obtain more timely catch reports (76 FR 54385, September 1, 2011). As a result of that rulemaking, limited access herring vessels are required to report herring catch daily via vessel monitoring systems, open access herring vessels are required report catch weekly via the interactive voice response system, and all herring-permitted vessels are required to submit vessel trip reports (VTRs) weekly. Proposed Measures In accordance with regulations at § 648.201(a)(3), this action proposes to deduct the 2010 overages from 2012 catch limits. Therefore, in 2012, the subACL for Area 1A would be 24,668 mt (reduced from 26,546 mt) and the subACL for Area 1B would be 2,723 mt (reduced from 4,362 mt). The sub-ACLs for Areas 2 and 3 would remain unchanged at 22,146 mt for Area 2 and 38,146 mt for Area 3. NMFS determined 2010 herring landings based on dealer reports (Federal and state) containing herring purchases, supplemented with VTRs (Federal and State of Maine) containing herring landings. NMFS compared dealer reports to VTRs for all trips that landed herring in 2010. Because VTRs are generally a hail weight or estimate of landings, with an assumed 10 percent margin of error, dealer reports are a more accurate source of landings data. However, if the amount of herring reported via VTR exceeded the amount of herring reported by the dealer by 10-percent or more, it was assumed that the dealer report for that trip was in error. In those instances, the amount of herring reported via VTR was used to determine the amount of herring landed on that trip. Herring landings in the VTR database were checked for accuracy against the scanned image of the paper VTRs submitted by the owner/ operator of the vessel. VTR landings were also verified by comparing reported landings to harvesting potential and applicable possession limits for each vessel. Federal dealer reports for 2010 were finalized in June 2011 and state dealer reports for 2010 were finalized in September 2011. Herring landings reported on the VTRs were assigned to herring management areas using latitude and longitude coordinates. VTRs with missing or invalid latitude/longitude coordinates were manually corrected using the statistical area reported on the VTR. If no statistical area was reported on the VTR, then a combination of recent fishing activity and a review of the scanned images of the original VTR were used to assign landings to herring management area. Dealer reports without corresponding VTRs were prorated to herring management area using the proportion of total herring landings stratified by week, gear type, and management area. As NMFS was reviewing the 2010 herring data, and comparing individual VTRs with individual dealer reports, it resolved data errors resulting from misreporting. Common dealer reporting issues were: Missing dealer reports; incorrect or missing VTR serial numbers; incorrect or missing vessel permit numbers; and incorrect dates. VTRs had similar errors. Common VTR reporting issues were: Missing VTRs; missing or incorrect dealer information; incorrect amounts of landed herring; incorrect dates; and missing or incorrect statistical area. The quality of herring landings data is affected by unresolved data errors; therefore, NMFS strongly encourages vessel owner/operators and dealers to double check reports for 79611 accuracy and ensure reports are submitted on a timely basis. Discards of herring in 2010 were determined by extrapolating Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (observer) data to the entire herring fishery. The amount of observed herring discards (‘‘Atlantic herring’’ and ‘‘herring unidentified’’) was divided by the amount of observed fish landed. That discard ratio was then multiplied by the amount of all fish landed for each trip to calculate total amount of herring discards in 2010. The amount of discards was determined for each management area and gear type. Observer data for 2010 were finalized in April 2011. NMFS calculated the total herring catch for 2010 by adding the amount of herring landings to the amount of herring discarded. The methodology used by NMFS to calculate the amount of landed herring and the amount of discarded herring was reviewed by the Council’s Herring Plan Development Team (PDT). NMFS convened a Herring PDT conference call on October 19, 2011, to review landed catch and discard methodology. The Herring PDT recommended that prorated dealer reports should account for fishing effort and seasonality in its calculations. Based on the Herring PDT’s recommendations, NMFS revised its methodologies to include stratification by week, gear type, and area for dealer reports that were prorated to management area. Additionally, the Herring PDT recommended that the extrapolation of discards be stratified by gear type and area. NMFS revised its discard methodology accordingly. NMFS convened a follow-up Herring PDT conference call on November 3, 2011, and updated the PDT on its revised methodology. The Herring PDT concluded that the methodologies used by NMFS to calculate the total amount of herring catch (landings and discards) in 2010 were appropriate. The following chart contains information on the 2010 herring fishery: TOTAL CATCH OF ATLANTIC HERRING IN 2010 Sub-ACL (mt) jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Management area 1A ..................................................................... 1B ..................................................................... 2 ....................................................................... 3 ....................................................................... VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:15 Dec 21, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Landed herring (mt) 26,546 4,362 22,146 38,146 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 28,364 5,997 20,781 17,573 Sfmt 4702 Discarded herring (mt) Total herring catch (mt) 60 3 50 23 E:\FR\FM\22DEP1.SGM 28,424 6,001 20,831 17,596 22DEP1 Herring catch as percentage of Sub-ACL 107 138 94 46 79612 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 246 / Thursday, December 22, 2011 / Proposed Rules jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Classification Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Herring FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. The National Environmental Policy Act analysis to support this action was completed in Amendment 4 (76 FR 11373, March 2, 2011). This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Orders 12866. This proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In 2010, there were catch limit overages in herring management areas 1A and 1B equal to 1,878 mt and 1,639 mt, respectively. In accordance with regulations at § 648.201(a)(3), this action proposes to deduct the 2010 overages from 2012 catch limits. Therefore, in 2012, the sub-ACL for Area 1A would be 24,668 mt (reduced from 26,546 mt) and the sub-ACL for Area 1B would be 2,723 mt (reduced from 4,362 mt). Amendment 4 analyzed the effects of deducting ACL/sub-ACL overages from the subsequent corresponding ACL/subACL. During a year when the ACL/subACL is exceeded, fishery participants may benefit economically from higher catch. In the subsequent year, when the amount of the overage is deducted from that ACL/sub-ACL and the amount of harvest is lower, fishery participants may experience negative economic impacts. Since deductions are the same magnitude as the overages, there would be no overall change to the amount of fish available for harvest. Therefore, if participants are active in the fishery during the overage year and the deduction year, the total economic impact on participants would be neutral. In 2010, 101 vessels were issued limited access herring permits and 2, 258 were issued open access herring permits. All participants in the herring fishery are small entities as defined by the SBA under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as none grossed more than $4 million annually, so there VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:15 Dec 21, 2011 Jkt 226001 would be no disproportionate economic impacts on small entities. Total herring revenue in 2010 equaled approximately $18.8 million for limited access vessels and $150,000 for open access vessels. Because most vessels that harvest herring participate in other fisheries, revenue generated by herring catch is only a portion of their income. Herring revenue averaged 20 percent of total fisheries revenue for limited access vessels in 2010 and less than 1 percent of total fisheries revenue for open access vessels in 2010. The reduced sub-ACLs in Areas 1A and 1B are estimated to equal $1 million in lost revenue in 2012. Absent the sub-ACL reductions in Areas 1A and 1B, the total potential herring revenue in 2012 is estimated to be $26.4 million. The sub-ACL reductions in Areas 1A and 1B would reduce the total potential herring revenue by 4 percent in 2012. While this action reduces the amount of fish available for harvest, both the fishery-wide and individualvessel economic effects are anticipated to be minimal because the reduction is relatively minor and herring vessels generate most of their revenue participating in other fisheries. For all the reasons described above, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 19, 2011. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–32846 Filed 12–21–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 110901552–1736–01] RIN 0648–BB34 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery; Amendment 17 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 NMFS proposes regulations to implement measures in Amendment 17 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This action would amend the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to explicitly define and facilitate the effective operation of state-operated permit banks. As proposed in Amendment 17, state-operated permit banks would be allocated an annual catch entitlement and specifically authorized to provide their annual catch entitlement and/or days-at-sea to approved groundfish sectors for the purpose of enhancing the fishing opportunities available to sector members. This action also includes a provision that would allow NMFS to issue a days-at-sea credit to a vessel that cancels a fishing trip prior to setting or hauling fishing gear and the vessel, therefore, does not catch or land fish at any time on the trip. DATES: Comments must be received by January 23, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2011–0186, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011–0186 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail: Submit written comments to Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on NE Multispecies Amendment 17.’’ • Fax: (978) 281–9135, Attn: William Whitmore Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22DEP1.SGM 22DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 246 (Thursday, December 22, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 79610-79612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32846]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 111207734-1733-01]
RIN 0648-BB50


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring 
Fishery; Adjustment to 2012 Annual Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This action proposes to reduce the 2012 annual catch limits 
(ACLs) for the Atlantic herring (herring) fishery to account for catch 
overages in 2010 and to prevent overfishing.

DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., Eastern 
Standard Time, on January 6, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents, the 2010-2012 Herring 
Specifications and Amendment 4 to the Herring Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP), are available from: Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New 
England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, 
Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone (978) 465-0492. These documents are 
also accessible via the Internet at http://www.nero.nmfs.gov.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2011-0275, by any 
one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0275 in the keyword search. 
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and 
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on the right of that line.
     Mail: NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope 
``Comments on Adjustment to 2012 Herring Catch Limits.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Carrie Nordeen.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF formats 
only.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Atlantic herring harvest in the United States is managed under 
the Herring FMP developed by the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council), and implemented by NMFS, in 2000. The Council developed 
herring specifications for 2010-2012, which were approved by NMFS on 
August 12, 2010 (75 FR 48874). Although herring is not overfished and 
is not experiencing overfishing, the herring annual acceptable 
biological catch for fishing years 2010-2012 (106,000 mt) was reduced 
from previous years (145,000 mt in 2009) due to concerns about a 
retrospective pattern in the 2009 herring stock assessment that over-
estimates biomass.
    The stock-wide herring ACL (91,200 mt) is divided among three 
management areas, one of which has two sub-areas. Area 1 is located in 
the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and is divided into an inshore section (Area 
1A) and an offshore section (Area 1B). Area 2 is located in the coastal 
waters between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 is on 
Georges Bank (GB). The herring stock complex is considered to be a 
single stock, but there are inshore (GOM) and offshore (GB) stock 
components. The GOM and GB stock components segregate during spawning 
and mix during feeding and migration. Each management area has its own 
sub-ACL to allow greater control of the fishing mortality on each stock 
component. While the stock-wide herring ACL for 2010-2012 was not 
reduced below the 2008 catch level, the management area sub-ACLs were 
reduced from 2009 levels by 20 to 60 percent. The management area sub-
ACLs established for 2010-2012 were: 26,546 mt for Area 1A, 4,362 mt 
for Area 1B, 22,146 mt for Area 2, and 38,146 mt for Area 3.
    Amendment 4 to the Herring FMP (Amendment 4) (76 FR 11373, March 2, 
2011) revised the specification-setting process, bringing the Herring 
FMP into compliance with ACL and accountability measure (AM) 
requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (MSA). Under the FMP, if NMFS determines catch will 
reach 95 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to a management area or 
seasonal period, then NMFS prohibits vessels from fishing for, 
possessing, catching, transferring, or landing more than 2,000 lb 
(907.2 kg) of herring per trip from that area or period. This AM slows 
catch to prevent or minimize catch in excess of a management area or 
seasonal period sub-ACL. As a way to account for ACL overages in the 
herring fishery, Amendment 4 established an AM that provided for 
overage deductions. If the catch of herring in any given fishing year 
exceeds any ACL or sub-ACL, the overage will subsequently be deducted 
from the corresponding ACL/sub-ACL.
    Fishing year 2010 was the first year that NMFS monitored herring 
catch against the recently reduced management area sub-ACLs. NMFS 
experienced difficulty determining when to implement the 2,000-lb 
(907.2-kg) possession limit in Area 1B because of a pulse of fishing 
effort in that area. NMFS had similar difficulties

[[Page 79611]]

determining when to implement the possession limit in Area 1A because 
catch rates were highly variable. Ultimately, catch from Areas 1B and 
1A exceeded their allocations by 1,639 mt and 1,878 mt, respectively. 
These experiences demonstrated that more timely catch reporting was 
needed to better monitor catch against sub-ACLs and to allow catch to 
achieve, but not exceed, management area sub-ACLs. Therefore, in 
September 2011, NMFS revised vessels reporting requirements to obtain 
more timely catch reports (76 FR 54385, September 1, 2011). As a result 
of that rulemaking, limited access herring vessels are required to 
report herring catch daily via vessel monitoring systems, open access 
herring vessels are required report catch weekly via the interactive 
voice response system, and all herring-permitted vessels are required 
to submit vessel trip reports (VTRs) weekly.

Proposed Measures

    In accordance with regulations at Sec.  648.201(a)(3), this action 
proposes to deduct the 2010 overages from 2012 catch limits. Therefore, 
in 2012, the sub-ACL for Area 1A would be 24,668 mt (reduced from 
26,546 mt) and the sub-ACL for Area 1B would be 2,723 mt (reduced from 
4,362 mt). The sub-ACLs for Areas 2 and 3 would remain unchanged at 
22,146 mt for Area 2 and 38,146 mt for Area 3.
    NMFS determined 2010 herring landings based on dealer reports 
(Federal and state) containing herring purchases, supplemented with 
VTRs (Federal and State of Maine) containing herring landings. NMFS 
compared dealer reports to VTRs for all trips that landed herring in 
2010. Because VTRs are generally a hail weight or estimate of landings, 
with an assumed 10 percent margin of error, dealer reports are a more 
accurate source of landings data. However, if the amount of herring 
reported via VTR exceeded the amount of herring reported by the dealer 
by 10-percent or more, it was assumed that the dealer report for that 
trip was in error. In those instances, the amount of herring reported 
via VTR was used to determine the amount of herring landed on that 
trip. Herring landings in the VTR database were checked for accuracy 
against the scanned image of the paper VTRs submitted by the owner/
operator of the vessel. VTR landings were also verified by comparing 
reported landings to harvesting potential and applicable possession 
limits for each vessel. Federal dealer reports for 2010 were finalized 
in June 2011 and state dealer reports for 2010 were finalized in 
September 2011.
    Herring landings reported on the VTRs were assigned to herring 
management areas using latitude and longitude coordinates. VTRs with 
missing or invalid latitude/longitude coordinates were manually 
corrected using the statistical area reported on the VTR. If no 
statistical area was reported on the VTR, then a combination of recent 
fishing activity and a review of the scanned images of the original VTR 
were used to assign landings to herring management area. Dealer reports 
without corresponding VTRs were prorated to herring management area 
using the proportion of total herring landings stratified by week, gear 
type, and management area.
    As NMFS was reviewing the 2010 herring data, and comparing 
individual VTRs with individual dealer reports, it resolved data errors 
resulting from misreporting. Common dealer reporting issues were: 
Missing dealer reports; incorrect or missing VTR serial numbers; 
incorrect or missing vessel permit numbers; and incorrect dates. VTRs 
had similar errors. Common VTR reporting issues were: Missing VTRs; 
missing or incorrect dealer information; incorrect amounts of landed 
herring; incorrect dates; and missing or incorrect statistical area. 
The quality of herring landings data is affected by unresolved data 
errors; therefore, NMFS strongly encourages vessel owner/operators and 
dealers to double check reports for accuracy and ensure reports are 
submitted on a timely basis.
    Discards of herring in 2010 were determined by extrapolating 
Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (observer) data to the entire 
herring fishery. The amount of observed herring discards (``Atlantic 
herring'' and ``herring unidentified'') was divided by the amount of 
observed fish landed. That discard ratio was then multiplied by the 
amount of all fish landed for each trip to calculate total amount of 
herring discards in 2010. The amount of discards was determined for 
each management area and gear type. Observer data for 2010 were 
finalized in April 2011.
    NMFS calculated the total herring catch for 2010 by adding the 
amount of herring landings to the amount of herring discarded. The 
methodology used by NMFS to calculate the amount of landed herring and 
the amount of discarded herring was reviewed by the Council's Herring 
Plan Development Team (PDT). NMFS convened a Herring PDT conference 
call on October 19, 2011, to review landed catch and discard 
methodology. The Herring PDT recommended that prorated dealer reports 
should account for fishing effort and seasonality in its calculations. 
Based on the Herring PDT's recommendations, NMFS revised its 
methodologies to include stratification by week, gear type, and area 
for dealer reports that were prorated to management area. Additionally, 
the Herring PDT recommended that the extrapolation of discards be 
stratified by gear type and area. NMFS revised its discard methodology 
accordingly. NMFS convened a follow-up Herring PDT conference call on 
November 3, 2011, and updated the PDT on its revised methodology. The 
Herring PDT concluded that the methodologies used by NMFS to calculate 
the total amount of herring catch (landings and discards) in 2010 were 
appropriate.
    The following chart contains information on the 2010 herring 
fishery:

                                                         Total Catch of Atlantic Herring in 2010
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                        Herring catch as
                        Management area                           Sub-ACL  (mt)    Landed herring       Discarded       Total herring     percentage of
                                                                                        (mt)          herring  (mt)      catch  (mt)         Sub-ACL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1A............................................................            26,546            28,364                60            28,424               107
1B............................................................             4,362             5,997                 3             6,001               138
2.............................................................            22,146            20,781                50            20,831                94
3.............................................................            38,146            17,573                23            17,596                46
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 79612]]

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with 
the Atlantic Herring FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other 
applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.
    The National Environmental Policy Act analysis to support this 
action was completed in Amendment 4 (76 FR 11373, March 2, 2011).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Orders 12866. This proposed rule does not contain 
a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    In 2010, there were catch limit overages in herring management 
areas 1A and 1B equal to 1,878 mt and 1,639 mt, respectively. In 
accordance with regulations at Sec.  648.201(a)(3), this action 
proposes to deduct the 2010 overages from 2012 catch limits. Therefore, 
in 2012, the sub-ACL for Area 1A would be 24,668 mt (reduced from 
26,546 mt) and the sub-ACL for Area 1B would be 2,723 mt (reduced from 
4,362 mt).
    Amendment 4 analyzed the effects of deducting ACL/sub-ACL overages 
from the subsequent corresponding ACL/sub-ACL. During a year when the 
ACL/sub-ACL is exceeded, fishery participants may benefit economically 
from higher catch. In the subsequent year, when the amount of the 
overage is deducted from that ACL/sub-ACL and the amount of harvest is 
lower, fishery participants may experience negative economic impacts. 
Since deductions are the same magnitude as the overages, there would be 
no overall change to the amount of fish available for harvest. 
Therefore, if participants are active in the fishery during the overage 
year and the deduction year, the total economic impact on participants 
would be neutral.
    In 2010, 101 vessels were issued limited access herring permits and 
2, 258 were issued open access herring permits. All participants in the 
herring fishery are small entities as defined by the SBA under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, as none grossed more than $4 million 
annually, so there would be no disproportionate economic impacts on 
small entities.
    Total herring revenue in 2010 equaled approximately $18.8 million 
for limited access vessels and $150,000 for open access vessels. 
Because most vessels that harvest herring participate in other 
fisheries, revenue generated by herring catch is only a portion of 
their income. Herring revenue averaged 20 percent of total fisheries 
revenue for limited access vessels in 2010 and less than 1 percent of 
total fisheries revenue for open access vessels in 2010. The reduced 
sub-ACLs in Areas 1A and 1B are estimated to equal $1 million in lost 
revenue in 2012. Absent the sub-ACL reductions in Areas 1A and 1B, the 
total potential herring revenue in 2012 is estimated to be $26.4 
million. The sub-ACL reductions in Areas 1A and 1B would reduce the 
total potential herring revenue by 4 percent in 2012. While this action 
reduces the amount of fish available for harvest, both the fishery-wide 
and individual-vessel economic effects are anticipated to be minimal 
because the reduction is relatively minor and herring vessels generate 
most of their revenue participating in other fisheries.
    For all the reasons described above, an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

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

    Dated: December 19, 2011.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-32846 Filed 12-21-11; 8:45 am]
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