Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 18A, 4754-4756 [2012-2081]

Download as PDF 4754 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 20 / Tuesday, January 31, 2012 / Proposed Rules Authority: 42 U.S.C. 2996e(b)(1); Pub. L. 104–134, 110 Stat. 1321, Sec. 509; Pub. L. 105–119, 111 Stat. 2440, Sec. 501(b). 10. Amend § 1623.4 by revising paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 1623.4 Suspension procedures. * * * * * (e) The Corporation may at any time rescind or modify the terms of the final determination to suspend and, on written notice to the recipient, may reinstate the suspension without further proceedings under this part. Except as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, the total time of a suspension shall not exceed 90 days, unless the Corporation and the recipient agree to a continuation of the suspension without further proceedings under this part. * * * * * Victor M. Fortuno, Vice President & General Counsel. [FR Doc. 2012–1984 Filed 1–30–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7050–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648–BB56 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 18A National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 18A to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 18A) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. The amendment proposes actions to update the current rebuilding strategy for black sea bass, modify the current system of accountability measures for black sea bass, limit effort in the black sea bass component of the snapper-grouper fishery, and improve fisheries data reporting in the for-hire sector of the snapper-grouper fishery. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 2, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:19 Jan 30, 2012 Jkt 226001 ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0282’’ 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: Kate Michie, 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– 2011–0282’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search’’. To view posted comments during the comment period, enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0282’’ 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 received through means not specified in this rule will not be considered. Electronic copies of Amendment 18A may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Amendment 18A includes an Environmental Impact Statement, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a Fishery Impact Statement. Kate Michie, telephone: (727) 824–5305, or email: Kate.Michie@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any fishery management plan or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available for review and comment. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. Background The primary purpose of Amendment 18A is to address derby fishing conditions in the black sea bass component of the snapper-grouper fishery by reducing effort in the fishery and reducing the rate of harvest to optimize use of the resource among fishery participants. Amendment 18A would also implement measures to update the current rebuilding strategy for black sea bass in response to the outcome a new stock assessment for the species, and improve data reporting in the for-hire sector of the snappergrouper fishery. Targeting of black sea bass has increased as restrictions are placed on other species, and black sea bass has been in a constant catch rebuilding plan since 2006, where the allowable catch is held steady as the stock rebuilds. Furthermore, as black sea bass rebuilds and the population size becomes larger, fish are being harvested at a faster rate. Due to these circumstances, the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) have been met before the end of the fishing year for the past 3 fishing years, and the ACL closures have occurred earlier in each consecutive fishing year. In an effort to extend fishing opportunities further into the fishing season, the Council has approved several actions intended to reduce effort and the rate of harvest in the black sea bass segment of the snapper-grouper fishery. To reduce effort in the commercial sector for black sea bass, Amendment 18A contains an action to establish a black sea bass pot endorsement program. In order to qualify for a black sea bass pot endorsement the following eligibility criteria must be met: (1) The permit holder must have a South Atlantic Unlimited SnapperGrouper Permit that is valid (not expired) on the effective date of the final rule implementing Amendment 18A, if approved; (2) the South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit must have black sea bass landings with pot gear between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2010, of at least 2,500 lb (1,134 kg), round weight; and (3) the South Atlantic Unlimited SnapperGrouper Permit must have reported black sea bass landings with pot gear between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2010. There are 31 South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit E:\FR\FM\31JAP1.SGM 31JAP1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 20 / Tuesday, January 31, 2012 / Proposed Rules holders who meet the criteria and who would receive an endorsement to fish for black sea bass using pot gear, which constitutes a sizable reduction from the 50 permit holders who fished using black sea bass pot gear during the 2011/ 2012 fishing year. Related to the proposed endorsement program are provisions contained in Amendment 18A to allow for transferability of the endorsements once they are issued, and a 90-day opportunity to appeal the non-issuance of endorsements based on landings records. Additionally, Amendment 18A proposes to limit the number of black sea bass pot tags issued to any endorsement holder to 35 per vessel each permit year. Previously there was no limit on the number of pot tags a South Atlantic Unlimited SnapperGrouper Permit holder could obtain and use. Amendment 18A also includes a 1,000 lb (454 kg), round weight, commercial trip limit intended to further reduce the rate of harvest of black sea bass. This action, paired with the endorsement program, is expected to result in the commercial fishing season, which begins on June 1, remaining open until August or September of the 2012/ 2013 fishing year, which is approximately 1 to 2 months longer than the previous fishing year. The Council determined a modification to the current size limit regulations for black sea bass may also help to reduce the rate of harvest in the commercial and recreational sectors. Therefore, Amendment 18A contains an action to change the recreational minimum size limit from 12 inches (30.5 cm), total length (TL) to 13 inches (33 cm), TL, and to increase the commercial minimum size limit from 10 inches (25.4 cm), TL, to 11 inches (28 cm), TL. In addition, Amendment 18A would require that all black sea bass pots be returned to shore (but may remain on the vessel) at the conclusion of each trip, in order to reduce bycatch of non-target species and reduce the risk of protected species interactions with vertical line gear. In October 2011, a new stock assessment for black sea bass was completed through the Southeast Data Assessment and Review process. The stock assessment indicates that black sea bass are no longer overfished but have not yet been fully rebuilt. A 10year rebuilding plan was implemented in 2006 and should end in 2016. Amendment 18A contains actions to modify the current rebuilding strategy for black sea bass based on the outcome of this new stock assessment. The Council voted to modify the current VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:19 Jan 30, 2012 Jkt 226001 constant catch rebuilding strategy to one that would hold catch constant (847,000 lb (384,193 kg)) round weight, (718,000 lb (325,679 kg)) gutted weight, in fishing years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 and then change to Frebuild in 2014/2015. Frebuild is defined as a constant fishing mortality strategy that maintains the 66 percent probability of recovery rate throughout the remaining fishing seasons of the rebuilding timeframe. After the 2015/2016 fishing season, the fishing mortality rate would be held constant until modified. Additionally, Amendment 18A would set a new stock ACL for black sea bass, which would be equal to the optimum yield and the acceptable biological catch (ABC), which is 847,000 lb (384,193 kg) round weight, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) gutted weight. The ACL would remain the same during the next two fishing seasons, after which a new assessment update would need to be completed to determine whether or not it is appropriate to increase the ACL in the 2015/2016 fishing year. Based on the current allocation formula implemented through the final rule for Amendment 13C to the FMP (71 FR 55096, September 21, 2006), the commercial allocation is 43 percent of the ABC and the recreational allocation is 57 percent of the ABC. Therefore, the commercial ACL would be set at 309,000 lb (140,160 kg) gutted weight, 364,620 lb (165,389 kg) round weight, and the recreational ACL would be set at 409,000 lb (185,519 kg) gutted weight, 482,620 lb (218,913 kg) round weight. Amendment 18A also proposes an annual catch target (ACT) of 357,548 lb (162,180 kg kg) gutted weight, 421,907 lb (191,400 kg) round weight, for the recreational sector, which is set at a level lower than the ACL to help prevent ACL overages from occurring. In the case of black sea bass, the recreational ACT would not trigger any preventative or corrective action. The ACT would serve as a management reference point to track the effectiveness of management measures intended to control recreational harvest. Amendment 17B to the FMP (Amendment 17B) implemented a system of accountability measures (AMs) for the commercial and recreational black sea bass sectors to limit harvest to the sector ACLs and correct for ACL overages if they occur. Subsequent to the implementation of Amendment 17B, the Council determined the methodology employed by the system of AMs under Amendment 17B may not be the most appropriate way to constrain harvest at or below the sector ACLs and it could unnecessarily penalize participants in PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4755 the commercial and recreational sectors of the black sea bass component of the snapper-grouper fishery. Therefore, Amendment 18A proposes to modify the AMs specified in Amendment 17B to eliminate the use of the 3-year running average to determine ACL overages. Eliminating the 3-year running average would result in a reduced risk of implementing overly conservative AMs. The modified AMs in Amendment 18A would also implement a payback provision if the commercial ACL is exceeded, and includes a payback provision in the event the recreational ACL is exceeded regardless of the overfished status of the stock. In addition to the actions listed previously, Amendment 18A would also require vessels that have South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Snapper-Grouper Permits to report landings information electronically, if selected to do so by NMFS. Reporting would be required on a weekly or daily basis. The Council has submitted Amendment 18A for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. The decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 18A will be based, in part, on consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received during the comment period on this notice of availability. After consideration of these factors, and in consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, NMFS will publish a notice of agency action in the Federal Register announcing the Agency’s decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 18A, and the associated rationale. Proposed Rule for Amendment 18A A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 18A has been received from the Council. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating Amendment 18A to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment. Consideration of Public Comments Comments received by April 2, 2012, whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment. Comments received after that date will not be considered by NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the E:\FR\FM\31JAP1.SGM 31JAP1 4756 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 20 / Tuesday, January 31, 2012 / Proposed Rules amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed in the final rule. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: January 26, 2012. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–2081 Filed 1–30–12; 8:45 am] wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:19 Jan 30, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\31JAP1.SGM 31JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 20 (Tuesday, January 31, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4754-4756]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2081]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

RIN 0648-BB56


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 18A

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

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 18A to the Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region 
(Amendment 18A) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. The 
amendment proposes actions to update the current rebuilding strategy 
for black sea bass, modify the current system of accountability 
measures for black sea bass, limit effort in the black sea bass 
component of the snapper-grouper fishery, and improve fisheries data 
reporting in the for-hire sector of the snapper-grouper fishery.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 2, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0282'' 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: Kate Michie, 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-2011-0282'' in the keyword search and click on ``search''. To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0282'' 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 received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    Electronic copies of Amendment 18A may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. 
Amendment 18A includes an Environmental Impact Statement, an Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a 
Fishery Impact Statement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Michie, telephone: (727) 824-
5305, or email: Kate.Michie@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional 
fishery management council to submit any fishery management plan or 
amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or 
disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon 
receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal 
Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available 
for review and comment.
    The South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery is managed under the 
FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and implemented by NMFS under 
the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 
622.

Background

    The primary purpose of Amendment 18A is to address derby fishing 
conditions in the black sea bass component of the snapper-grouper 
fishery by reducing effort in the fishery and reducing the rate of 
harvest to optimize use of the resource among fishery participants. 
Amendment 18A would also implement measures to update the current 
rebuilding strategy for black sea bass in response to the outcome a new 
stock assessment for the species, and improve data reporting in the 
for-hire sector of the snapper-grouper fishery.
    Targeting of black sea bass has increased as restrictions are 
placed on other species, and black sea bass has been in a constant 
catch rebuilding plan since 2006, where the allowable catch is held 
steady as the stock rebuilds. Furthermore, as black sea bass rebuilds 
and the population size becomes larger, fish are being harvested at a 
faster rate. Due to these circumstances, the commercial and 
recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) have been met before the end of 
the fishing year for the past 3 fishing years, and the ACL closures 
have occurred earlier in each consecutive fishing year. In an effort to 
extend fishing opportunities further into the fishing season, the 
Council has approved several actions intended to reduce effort and the 
rate of harvest in the black sea bass segment of the snapper-grouper 
fishery.
    To reduce effort in the commercial sector for black sea bass, 
Amendment 18A contains an action to establish a black sea bass pot 
endorsement program. In order to qualify for a black sea bass pot 
endorsement the following eligibility criteria must be met:
    (1) The permit holder must have a South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-
Grouper Permit that is valid (not expired) on the effective date of the 
final rule implementing Amendment 18A, if approved; (2) the South 
Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit must have black sea bass 
landings with pot gear between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2010, 
of at least 2,500 lb (1,134 kg), round weight; and (3) the South 
Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit must have reported black sea 
bass landings with pot gear between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 
2010. There are 31 South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit

[[Page 4755]]

holders who meet the criteria and who would receive an endorsement to 
fish for black sea bass using pot gear, which constitutes a sizable 
reduction from the 50 permit holders who fished using black sea bass 
pot gear during the 2011/2012 fishing year.
    Related to the proposed endorsement program are provisions 
contained in Amendment 18A to allow for transferability of the 
endorsements once they are issued, and a 90-day opportunity to appeal 
the non-issuance of endorsements based on landings records. 
Additionally, Amendment 18A proposes to limit the number of black sea 
bass pot tags issued to any endorsement holder to 35 per vessel each 
permit year. Previously there was no limit on the number of pot tags a 
South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit holder could obtain and 
use.
    Amendment 18A also includes a 1,000 lb (454 kg), round weight, 
commercial trip limit intended to further reduce the rate of harvest of 
black sea bass. This action, paired with the endorsement program, is 
expected to result in the commercial fishing season, which begins on 
June 1, remaining open until August or September of the 2012/2013 
fishing year, which is approximately 1 to 2 months longer than the 
previous fishing year.
    The Council determined a modification to the current size limit 
regulations for black sea bass may also help to reduce the rate of 
harvest in the commercial and recreational sectors. Therefore, 
Amendment 18A contains an action to change the recreational minimum 
size limit from 12 inches (30.5 cm), total length (TL) to 13 inches (33 
cm), TL, and to increase the commercial minimum size limit from 10 
inches (25.4 cm), TL, to 11 inches (28 cm), TL. In addition, Amendment 
18A would require that all black sea bass pots be returned to shore 
(but may remain on the vessel) at the conclusion of each trip, in order 
to reduce bycatch of non-target species and reduce the risk of 
protected species interactions with vertical line gear.
    In October 2011, a new stock assessment for black sea bass was 
completed through the Southeast Data Assessment and Review process. The 
stock assessment indicates that black sea bass are no longer overfished 
but have not yet been fully rebuilt. A 10-year rebuilding plan was 
implemented in 2006 and should end in 2016. Amendment 18A contains 
actions to modify the current rebuilding strategy for black sea bass 
based on the outcome of this new stock assessment. The Council voted to 
modify the current constant catch rebuilding strategy to one that would 
hold catch constant (847,000 lb (384,193 kg)) round weight, (718,000 lb 
(325,679 kg)) gutted weight, in fishing years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 
and then change to Frebuild in 2014/2015. 
Frebuild is defined as a constant fishing mortality strategy 
that maintains the 66 percent probability of recovery rate throughout 
the remaining fishing seasons of the rebuilding timeframe. After the 
2015/2016 fishing season, the fishing mortality rate would be held 
constant until modified. Additionally, Amendment 18A would set a new 
stock ACL for black sea bass, which would be equal to the optimum yield 
and the acceptable biological catch (ABC), which is 847,000 lb (384,193 
kg) round weight, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) gutted weight. The ACL would 
remain the same during the next two fishing seasons, after which a new 
assessment update would need to be completed to determine whether or 
not it is appropriate to increase the ACL in the 2015/2016 fishing 
year. Based on the current allocation formula implemented through the 
final rule for Amendment 13C to the FMP (71 FR 55096, September 21, 
2006), the commercial allocation is 43 percent of the ABC and the 
recreational allocation is 57 percent of the ABC. Therefore, the 
commercial ACL would be set at 309,000 lb (140,160 kg) gutted weight, 
364,620 lb (165,389 kg) round weight, and the recreational ACL would be 
set at 409,000 lb (185,519 kg) gutted weight, 482,620 lb (218,913 kg) 
round weight. Amendment 18A also proposes an annual catch target (ACT) 
of 357,548 lb (162,180 kg kg) gutted weight, 421,907 lb (191,400 kg) 
round weight, for the recreational sector, which is set at a level 
lower than the ACL to help prevent ACL overages from occurring. In the 
case of black sea bass, the recreational ACT would not trigger any 
preventative or corrective action. The ACT would serve as a management 
reference point to track the effectiveness of management measures 
intended to control recreational harvest.
    Amendment 17B to the FMP (Amendment 17B) implemented a system of 
accountability measures (AMs) for the commercial and recreational black 
sea bass sectors to limit harvest to the sector ACLs and correct for 
ACL overages if they occur. Subsequent to the implementation of 
Amendment 17B, the Council determined the methodology employed by the 
system of AMs under Amendment 17B may not be the most appropriate way 
to constrain harvest at or below the sector ACLs and it could 
unnecessarily penalize participants in the commercial and recreational 
sectors of the black sea bass component of the snapper-grouper fishery. 
Therefore, Amendment 18A proposes to modify the AMs specified in 
Amendment 17B to eliminate the use of the 3-year running average to 
determine ACL overages. Eliminating the 3-year running average would 
result in a reduced risk of implementing overly conservative AMs. The 
modified AMs in Amendment 18A would also implement a payback provision 
if the commercial ACL is exceeded, and includes a payback provision in 
the event the recreational ACL is exceeded regardless of the overfished 
status of the stock.
    In addition to the actions listed previously, Amendment 18A would 
also require vessels that have South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Snapper-
Grouper Permits to report landings information electronically, if 
selected to do so by NMFS. Reporting would be required on a weekly or 
daily basis.
    The Council has submitted Amendment 18A for Secretarial review, 
approval, and implementation. The decision to approve, partially 
approve, or disapprove Amendment 18A will be based, in part, on 
consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received 
during the comment period on this notice of availability. After 
consideration of these factors, and in consistency with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws, NMFS will publish a notice of 
agency action in the Federal Register announcing the Agency's decision 
to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 18A, and the 
associated rationale.

Proposed Rule for Amendment 18A

    A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 
18A has been received from the Council. In accordance with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating Amendment 18A to determine 
whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will 
publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and 
comment.

Consideration of Public Comments

    Comments received by April 2, 2012, whether specifically directed 
to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in 
its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the 
amendment. Comments received after that date will not be considered by 
NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the

[[Page 4756]]

amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods 
will be addressed in the final rule.

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

    Dated: January 26, 2012.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-2081 Filed 1-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P