Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 24, 19169-19175 [2012-7721]

Download as PDF srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules reported any wreckfish landings between April 16, 2006, and January 14, 2011. (iii) Percentage share set-aside to accommodate resolution of appeals. During the 2012–2013 fishing year, the RA will reserve 5 percent of wreckfish ITQ shares prior to redistributing shares (see paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section) to accommodate resolution of appeals, if necessary. NMFS will distribute any portion of the 5-percent share remaining after the appeals process as soon as possible among the remaining shareholders. (iv) Procedure for appealing wreckfish quota share status and landings information. Appeals must be submitted to the RA postmarked no later than [date 90 days after the effective date of the final rule] and must contain documentation supporting the basis for the appeal. The only items subject to appeal are the status of wreckfish quota shares, as active or inactive and the accuracy of the amount of landings. The RA will review and evaluate all appeals, render final decisions on the appeals, and advise the appellant of the final decision. Appeals based on hardship factors will not be considered. The RA will determine the outcome of appeals based on NMFS’ logbooks. If NMFS’ logbooks are not available, the RA may use state landings records. Appellants must submit NMFS’ logbooks or state landings records, as appropriate, to support their appeal. (2) Share transfers. All or a portion of a person’s percentage shares are transferrable. Transfer of shares must be reported on a form available from the RA. The RA will confirm, in writing, each transfer of shares. The effective date of each transfer is the confirmation date provided by the RA. NMFS charges a fee for each transfer of shares and calculates the amount in accordance with the procedures of the NOAA Finance Handbook. The handbook is available from the RA. The fee may not exceed such costs and is specified with each transfer form. The appropriate fee must accompany each transfer form. (3) ITQ share cap. No person, including a corporation or other entity, may individually or collectively hold ITQ shares in excess of 49 percent of the total shares. For the purposes of considering the share cap, a corporation’s total ITQ share is determined by adding the corporation’s ITQ shares to any other ITQ shares the corporation owns in another corporation. If an individual ITQ shareholder is also a shareholder in a corporation that holds ITQ shares, an individual’s total ITQ share is determined by adding the applicable VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 ITQ shares held by the individual to the applicable ITQ shares equivalent to the corporate share the individual holds in a corporation. A corporation must provide the RA the identity of the shareholders of the corporation and their percent of shares in the corporation, and provide updated information to the RA within 30 days of when a change occurs. This information must also be provided to the RA any time a commercial vessel permit for wreckfish is renewed or transferred. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2012–7604 Filed 3–29–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 101202599–0641–01] RIN 0648–BA52 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 24 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement Amendment 24 to the Fishery Management Plan for the SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish red grouper commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs); establish red grouper sector accountability measures (AMs); and remove the combined gag, black grouper, and red grouper commercial quota, and commercial and recreational sector ACLs and AMs. The intent of this rule is to specify ACLs and AMs for red grouper while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the red grouper resource. Additionally, Amendment 24 would implement a rebuilding plan for red grouper in the South Atlantic. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 30, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0298’’ by any of the following methods: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 19169 • Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Rick DeVictor, 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– 2011–0298’’ in the keyword search and click on ‘‘search.’’ To view posted comments during the comment period, enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0298’’ 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 24, which includes an environmental assessment, 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/sf/pdfs/ SGAmend24_121411.pdf. Rick DeVictor, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is 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 red grouper stock in the South Atlantic was assessed through the Southeast, Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process in 2010. The assessment indicates that the stock is experiencing overfishing and is overfished. As required by the E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 19170 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Council must implement a rebuilding plan which ends overfishing immediately and provides for rebuilding the fishery. The intent of a rebuilding plan is to increase biomass of overfished stocks to a sustainable level within a specified period of time. A plan should achieve conservation goals, while minimizing to the extent practicable adverse socioeconomic impacts. NMFS notified the Council of the red grouper stock status on June 9, 2010, and the MagnusonStevens Act specifies that measures to end overfishing and rebuild the stock must be implemented within two years of notification. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that ACLs and AMs be implemented to prevent overfishing and achieve the OY from a fishery. An ACL is the level of annual catch of a stock that if exceeded, triggers AMs. AMs are management controls to prevent ACLs from being exceeded and to correct any overages of ACLs if they occur. Two examples of AMs include an in-season closure if catch approaches the ACL and reducing the ACL by an overage that occurred the previous fishing year. This rule would divide the red grouper ACL into sector-ACLs based upon allocation decisions and apply sector specific AMs. srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule Gag, Black Grouper, and Red Grouper, Combined ACLs and AMs Currently, Federal regulations specify a commercial sector ACL (equivalent to the commercial quota) and recreational sector ACL for gag, black grouper, and red grouper, combined. The current combined gag, black grouper, and red grouper ACLs and AMs were implemented through Amendment 17B to the FMP (75 FR 82280, December 30, 2010), before black grouper and red grouper stock assessments were completed through SEDAR. This rule would remove the gag, black grouper, and red grouper, combined commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs as the ACLs are not based upon the best scientific information. Gag individual ACLs and AMs were previously implemented through Amendment 16 to the FMP (June 29, 2009, 74 FR 30964) and black grouper ACLs and AMs will be implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (proposed rule published December 1, 2011, 76 FR 74757) and will remain in effect. This rule would remove this combined species group from the Federal regulations and complete the VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 implementation of measures to specify individual ACLs and AMs for these three species. complexes in rebuilding plans that ensure rebuilding occurs within the specified timeframe. Red Grouper Commercial and Recreational Sector ACLs and AMs Amendment 24 would implement red grouper ACLs and AMs for the commercial and recreational sectors. The Council decided to define the red grouper ACL equal to ABC. The SSC’s recommendation for ABC is the projected yield stream with a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success. The Council has chosen to define the rebuilding yield stream at the equivalent of OY (75 percent of fishing mortality (F) at maximum sustainable yield (MSY)(FMSY)). The resultant red grouper stock ACLs in this proposed rule are 647,000 lb (293,474 kg) for 2012, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb (353,802 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. If the ACLs, as estimated by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) are exceeded in a fishing year, then during the following fishing year, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA) will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to state that both the commercial and recreational sectors will not have an increase in their respective sector ACLs during that following fishing year. Additionally, this rule would establish sector specific ACLs for the red grouper commercial and recreational sectors. The commercial sector ACLs would be 284,680 lb (129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb (155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. The recreational sector ACLs would be 362,320 lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb (182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. This rule would implement in-season commercial and recreational sector AMs for red grouper. If NMFS-estimated commercial or recreational landings for red grouper reach or are projected to reach the applicable ACL, then NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial or recreational sector, as applicable, for the remainder of the fishing year. This rule would also implement overage adjustments for red grouper. If commercial or recreational landings for red grouper exceed the applicable ACL, NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the applicable ACL the following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. In particular, overage adjustments are needed for red grouper to follow guidance for stocks and stock Measures Contained in Amendment 24 That Are Not in This Proposed Rule Amendment 24 also contains actions that are not specifically addressed through this rulemaking. These items include revising the definitions of management thresholds for South Atlantic red grouper, establishing a red grouper rebuilding plan, specifying commercial and recreational sector allocations, and establishing a recreational sector annual catch target (ACT). PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Modify the Current Definitions for Management Thresholds Definitions of MSY, OY, and minimum stock size threshold (MSST) were set for red grouper in Amendment 11 to the FMP. The Council is revising these definitions based upon the most recent scientific information. Amendment 24 would specify the MSY value for red grouper equal to 1.11 million lb (503,488 kg). The OY would be set equal to the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and ACL. The MSST, which is the overfished definition, would be changed. The current MSST definition specifies MSST at a level reduced from the spawning stock biomass when fishing at the MSY level. The level to be reduced depends on the natural mortality rate of the stock. Amendment 24 would change the MSST definition to 75 percent of the spawning stock biomass when fishing at the MSY level. Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan The Council selected a 10-year rebuilding plan for red grouper in Amendment 24. This is the maximum time frame allowed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, because the Council intends to manage the stock using the fishing mortality at OY yield stream, the stock is projected to have an 81 percent chance of rebuilding in 10 years, greater than the 70 percent probability recommended by the Council’s SSC. Given management uncertainties and uncertainties regarding stock assessment projections more than a few years in the future, a 10-year rebuilding plan would allow for fluctuations in catches and provide leeway to account for the needs of fishing communities when setting catch levels and management measures. Red Grouper Commercial and Recreational Sector Allocations Amendment 24 would implement red grouper sector allocations for the E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules commercial and recreational sectors. The Council has decided that sector specific ACLs and AMs are important components of red grouper management as each sector differs in its scientific and management uncertainty. The allocation of red grouper among the commercial and recreational sectors is 44 percent and 56 percent, respectively. The allocations were determined by using 50 percent of the average combined commercial and recreational landings from 1986 through 2008, in addition to using 50 percent of average combined landings from 2006 through 2008. This proposed rule would implement ACLs for the red grouper commercial and recreational sectors based on this allocation. srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Red Grouper Recreational ACT Amendment 24 would establish ACTs for the red grouper recreational sector. The ACT is the amount of annual catch of a stock or stock complex that is the management target of the fishery and accounts for management uncertainty in controlling the actual catch below the ACL so that the ACL is not exceeded. The recreational ACTs would be equal to the greater of either half of the recreational ACL or a portion of the recreational ACL, dependent on the precision of the recreational catch estimates. The recreational ACTs established through Amendment 24 would be 271,740 lb (123,259 kg) for 2012, 301,560 lb (136,785 kg) for 2013, and 327,600 lb (148,597 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. If, in the future, the Council chose to limit recreational harvest to the recreational ACT, which would serve as an in-season AM for the recreational sector, establishing the ACT lower than the recreational ACL would also reduce or eliminate the need to close or implement post-season recreational AMs that are meant to correct for an ACL overage. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the AA has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 24, 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, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603, for this rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the proposed rule, why VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 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 NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. The proposed rule would specify a total red grouper ACL as equal to ABC and ABC equal to OY. This proposed rule would allocate the total ACL into 44 percent for the commercial sector and 56 percent for the recreational sector. This rule would also remove the commercial and recreational combined ACLs for black grouper, red grouper, and gag as well as the commercial and recreational AMs associated with the combined ACLs for the three species. The actual levels of the commercial and recreational ACLs are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. This proposed rule would implement in-season commercial and recreational sector AMs for red grouper. If commercial and recreational landings for red grouper reach or are projected to reach the applicable ACL, then NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. This proposed rule would also implement overage adjustments for red grouper. If NMFS estimated commercial or recreational landings for red grouper exceed the applicable ACL, NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the applicable ACL the following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. In particular, overage adjustments are needed for red grouper to follow Magnuson-Stevens Act guidance for stocks and stock complexes in rebuilding plans to include overage adjustments that reduce the ACLs in the next fishing year following an ACL overage. Amendment 24 would establish a recreational ACT equal to the greater of either half of the recreational ACL or a portion of the recreational ACL, dependent on the estimate of precision of the recreational catch. The intent of this proposed rule and Amendment 24 is to develop and implement a rebuilding plan to end overfishing and rebuild the spawning stock of red grouper by establishing a rebuilding schedule and a rebuilding strategy; specifying or re-specifying ABC, commercial/recreational allocation, ACLs and OY; and establishing ACTs for the recreational sector and AMs for the commercial and PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 19171 recreational sectors. Amendment 24 would also redefine MSY and MSST. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for the proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. The proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial fishers and for-hire operators. 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, other qualifiers apply and the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries). From 2005–2009, an annual average of 892 vessels with valid permits to operate in the commercial snappergrouper fishery landed snapper-grouper, generating dockside revenues of approximately $13.817 million (2009 dollars). Each vessel, therefore, generated an average of approximately $15,500 in gross revenues from snappergrouper. Gross dockside revenues by area were distributed as follows: $4.196 million in North Carolina, $3.612 million in South Carolina, $3.219 million in Georgia/East Florida, and $2.790 in the west coast of Florida. Vessels that operate in the snappergrouper fishery may also operate in other fisheries, the revenues of which cannot be determined with available data and are not reflected in these totals. Based on revenue information, all commercial vessels affected by the proposed action can be considered small entities. From 2005–2009, an annual average of 2,018 vessels had valid permits to operate in the snapper-grouper for-hire fishery, of which 82 are estimated to have operated as headboats. 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. The charterboat annual average gross revenue is estimated to range from approximately $62,000–$84,000 for Florida vessels, $73,000–$89,000 for North Carolina vessels, $68,000–$83,000 for Georgia vessels, and $32,000– $39,000 for South Carolina vessels. For headboats, the corresponding estimates are $170,000–$362,000 for Florida E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 19172 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules vessels, and $149,000–$317,000 for vessels in the other states. Based on these average revenue figures, all for-hire operations that would be affected by the proposed action can be considered small entities. Some fleet activity, i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single entity, may exist in both the commercial and forhire snapper-grouper sectors but the extent of such activity is unknown, and all vessels are treated as independent entities in this analysis. For this fleet to reach the $4 million threshold, each permitted vessel would have to generate yearly receipts of approximately $333,000. It is not known for certain whether this is the case, but it appears that such a figure of yearly receipts is too high given the above noted average gross revenues per vessel. The proposed rule is expected to directly affect all federally-permitted commercial and for-hire vessels that operate in the South Atlantic snappergrouper fishery. All directly affected entities have been determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. Therefore, it is determined that the proposed action will affect a substantial number of small entities. All entities that are expected to be affected by the proposed rule are considered small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case. The proposed action on the rebuilding strategy, ABC, and ACL would result in an increase in cumulative commercial vessel profits of $990,000 over the first 7 years of the rebuilding schedule with an additional $310,000 generated in years 8 through 10, assuming a discount rate of 7 percent. The corresponding effects on the for-hire vessels would also be an increase in cumulative profits but the magnitude cannot be estimated based on available information. These increases in commercial vessel and forhire vessel profits are mainly a result of increases in the ACL over time which are assumed to be fully harvested. To the extent that the proposed action for the commercial/recreational allocation of total ACL would maintain the baseline landings distribution of red grouper between the two sectors, no profit changes to the commercial or forhire vessels are expected to occur as a direct result of the proposed action. The proposed action for ACL/OY would provide the largest ACL/OY for red grouper, so that this proposed action may be expected to increase the profits of the commercial and for-hire vessels. The proposed action eliminating the aggregate black grouper, red grouper, and gag quota would tend to ensure VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 profit increases from the largest ACL/ OY alternative for red grouper would be realized. The proposed action on the recreational ACT would have no impacts on the profits of for-hire vessels in the short term, because this measure is not used to trigger AM applications. Should this ACT be used in the future to trigger AMs, then it may be expected to reduce the profits of for-hire vessels. The magnitude of such reduction cannot be estimated with available information. The proposed in-season and postseason AMs for the commercial sector are expected to limit the increases in the profits of commercial vessels as a result of ACL increases especially since the most recent landings information suggests the proposed series of ACLs would likely be exceeded in the near future. In principle, the proposed in-season and post-season AMs for the recreational sector are expected to limit the increases in profits of for-hire vessels as a result of ACL increases. However, the most recent (2010) recreational harvest of red grouper was well below the proposed ACL for the recreational sector, suggesting that the proposed AM has a low probability of being triggered in the near future. In effect, the proposed AM for the recreational sector may be expected to have a low likelihood of affecting the profits of for-hire vessels in the near future. Redefining MSY and MSST and establishing a rebuilding schedule for red grouper would not alter the current harvest or use of the resource and thus would not affect the profitability of small entities. Defining a rebuilding schedule as the maximum time to rebuild the stock to biomass at MSY would add flexibility in designing management measures that would have the least short-term effects on the profitability of small entities. Six alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the rebuilding strategy and ABC. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a rebuilding strategy for red grouper. Within a rebuilding strategy, the specification of targets and limits, such as ACLs is a crucial component of any management program involving natural resources. Without the designation of these components, regulations may not be sufficient to prevent overfishing and rebuild the stock. The second alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 biomass at MSY in 10 years. This alternative would provide the best profitability scenario for the commercial and for-hire vessels over the entire rebuilding timeframe. However, it would allow a higher fishing mortality rate than what would be appropriate if the stock was not overfished. Both this alternative and the preferred alternative would maintain catches at a similar level to what they have been in recent years, but the preferred alternative is more consistent with fishing at a level that would produce OY. The third alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at 65 percent of FMSY. This alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, because it would require more restrictive management measures. The fourth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 7 years. This alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, because it would require more restrictive management measures. The fifth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 8 years. This alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, because it would require more restrictive management measures. Two alternatives were considered for sector allocation, with one alternative being the no action alternative which would not establish sector allocation and the second would establish sector allocation. The no action alternative would not allow specification of sector ACLs and corresponding AMs, such that both sectors would be accountable for any ACL overages even if there is only one sector responsible for an ACL overage. Under the second alternative, five sub-alternatives including the preferred sub-alternative were considered. The first sub-alternative would establish a 52 percent commercial and 48 percent recreational allocation; the second sub-alternative, 54 percent commercial and 46 percent recreational allocation; the third subalternative, 49 percent commercial and 51 percent recreational allocation; and, the fourth sub-alternative, 41 percent commercial and 59 percent recreational allocation. All of these alternatives, including the preferred alternative, E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules would base the allocation ratio solely on a sector distribution of landings. No economic valuation was considered due to the absence of sufficient information. In terms of effects on the profits of small entities, the general nature of the various allocation alternatives is to favor one sector over another. The higher the allocation to one sector, the higher would be the profit potential to that sector and the lower would be the profit potential to the other sector. Among the alternatives, the preferred alternative was found to have neutral effects on profits on both the commercial and forhire vessels, because the resulting allocation would be the same as the historical sector distribution of landings used as the baseline landings distribution. Six alternatives, including the three preferred alternatives, were considered for ACL and OY. The three preferred alternatives are not mutually exclusive but are rather complementary to one another. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a specific ACL for red grouper. This alternative would not allow for specific management actions to address the overfished/overfishing status of the red grouper stock. The second alternative would specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 90 percent of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small entities than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 80 percent of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small entities than the preferred alternative. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the commercial sector ACT. The first and second alternatives would set the commercial ACT equal to 90 percent and 80 percent of commercial ACL, respectively. If ACTs were used to trigger AM applications, these two alternatives would result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. The Council chose not to establish a commercial ACT (no action alternative) because the current method to track commercial harvests is adequate to determine whether the commercial ACL is met or projected to be met. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the recreational ACT. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not specify a recreational ACT for red grouper. This alternative would not allow consideration of management uncertainty which is deemed high in the recreational sector. Without VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 consideration of management uncertainty, the probability of exceeding the ACL would be relatively high, increasing the probability of implementing more stringent management measures. The second and third alternatives would specify a recreational ACT equal to 85 percent and 75 percent of the recreational ACL, respectively. The second alternative would likely result in the same effects on the short-run profits of small entities as the preferred alternative. The third alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. These short-run effects of the ACT alternatives assume that ACTs would be used in the future to trigger AM applications. Three alternatives, including the two preferred alternatives, were considered for the commercial AM. The two preferred alternatives are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary to one another. The only alternative to the preferred alternatives is the no action alternative, which would not specify a commercial AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain the current commercial AM specified for the group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular AM could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow implementing management measures that would specifically address the overfished and undergoing overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. In addition, the current AM for the aggregate species of red grouper, black grouper, and gag does not provide for post-season AMs. The lack of post-season AMs under the no action alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. However, there is an expectation that the long-term profit environment would be better under the preferred alternatives because they would provide for higher ACLs over time, and therefore higher profits on a more sustainable basis. It should also be noted that a separate commercial sector ACL/AM for black grouper will be implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (proposed rule published on December 1, 2011, 76 FR 74757), negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM. Four alternatives were considered for the recreational AM. The first alternative is the no action alternative which would not set a specific recreational AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain the current recreational AM specified for the group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 19173 AM could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow implementing management measures that would specifically address the overfished/ overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. It should also be noted that a separate recreational sector ACL/AM for black grouper will be implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment, negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM. The second alternative would specify a recreational sector AM trigger and includes five sub-alternatives, including the preferred sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector AM trigger. This subalternative would likely result in higher profits to small entities than the preferred sub-alternative. However, it would not address the overfished/ overfishing condition of red grouper. The second sub-alternative specifies that AM would be triggered if the mean recreational landings for the past 3 years exceed the recreational ACL. The profit environment for small entities under this sub-alternative may be lower or higher than that of the preferred subalternative, depending on whether the trend in landings is upward or downward. The third sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the modified mean (highest and lowest landings dropped) landings for the past 5 years exceed the recreational sector ACL. This sub-alternative would have the same effects on profitability as the second sub-alternative, although the magnitude may be lower. The fourth sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the lower bound of the 90 percent confidence interval estimate of the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey landings’ population mean plus headboat landings is greater than the recreational ACL. This sub-alternative is likely to produce the same effects on profitability as the first sub-alternative, but the magnitude could be lower or higher. The third alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a recreational sector in-season AM and includes two sub-alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The only subalternative to the preferred alternative is the no action alternative which would not specify a recreational in-season AM. This alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small entities, but it would not constrain recreational fishing pressure and thus would not aid in addressing the overfished/overfishing condition for red grouper. E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 19174 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules The fourth alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a recreational sector post-season AM if the current fishing year’s recreational sector ACL is exceeded, and includes seven sub-alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector post-season AM. This sub-alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, although the expectation is for long-term profitability to better under the preferred subalternative. The second sub-alternative would compare the recreational sector ACL with the 2011 landings for 2011, with the mean 2011 and 2012 landings for 2012, and mean landings of the most recent 3 years for 2013 and beyond for triggering a post-season AM. This subalternative may or may not have the same sort of effects on profitability as the preferred alternative, depending on the specific AM measure that would be implemented. The third sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, with the Regional Administrator (RA) taking management actions as necessary. This sub-alternative would likely result in the lower adverse effects on short-term profits than the preferred alternative, although the actual effects would depend on the type of restrictions that would be imposed by the RA. The fourth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational fishing season as necessary. This subalternative would likely result in less adverse effects on short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent that post-season AM may not be imposed depending on how persistent the upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the preferred alternative since it would set a specific red grouper recreational season closure date, allowing for-hire vessels to make the necessary changes in their operations. The fifth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational bag limit as necessary to prevent harvest from exceeding the recreational ACL. This sub-alternative would likely result in less adverse effects on short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 that post-season AMs may not be imposed depending on how persistent the upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the preferred alternative since it would allow for-hire vessels to operate year round, although at lower bag limits. The sixth subalternative specifies that the RA publish a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the following year’s recreational fishing season to ensure landings do not exceed the following fishing season’s recreational ACL. There is a good possibility that this sub-alternative would result in the same fishing season length as the preferred alternative, assuming no significant changes in effort would occur in the following fishing year. It is possible that other measures, like a bag limit reduction, may be employed under the preferred alternative to effect a longer season that would provide more fishing opportunities. Whichever of these two sub-alternatives can provide more fishing opportunities may be considered better than the other from the standpoint of profits to small entities. Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for redefining MSY. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the definition of MSY which would not reflect the conclusions of the latest stock assessment. This alternative, like the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability of small entities. Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for redefining MSST. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the definition of MSST as equal to natural mortality (M) times the biomass at MSY. The second alternative would set MSST equal to 50 percent of biomass at MSY. The third alternative would set MSST equal to 85 percent of biomass at MSY. The fourth alternative would set MSST as the minimum stock size at which rebuilding to MSY would be expected to occur within 10 years at the maximum fishing mortality threshold level. All these alternatives, like the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability of small entities. Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the rebuilding schedule. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not implement a rebuilding schedule. This alternative would not comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement to rebuild an overfished red grouper stock. The second, third, and fourth alternatives would establish a PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 rebuilding period of 3 years (shortest), 7 years, and 8 years, respectively. These other alternatives would provide for a shorter rebuilding timeframe than the preferred alternative, and thus may be expected to restrict the flexibility in designing management measures that would minimize the economic effects on the profits of small entities. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: March 27, 2012. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting 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. § 622.42 [Amended] 2. In § 622.42, paragraph (e)(8) is removed. 3. In § 622.43, paragraph (a)(5)(iii) is revised to read as follows: § 622.43 Closures. (a) * * * (5) * * * (iii) For gag, when the appropriate commercial quota is reached, the provisions of paragraph (a)(5)(i) and (ii) of this section apply to gag and all other SASWG. * * * * * 4. In § 622.49, paragraph (b)(4) is revised to read as follows: § 622.49 Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs). * * * * * (b) * * * (4) Red grouper—(i) Commercial sector. (A) If commercial landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(i)(C) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of red grouper is prohibited and harvest or possession of this species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limit. This bag and possession limit applies in the South E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. (B) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the ACL for that following year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. (C) The applicable commercial ACLs, in round weight, are 284,680 lb (129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb (155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(C) 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 the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limit is zero. This bag and possession limit applies in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. (B) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the applicable ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the recreational ACL the following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing. (C) The applicable recreational ACLs, in round weight, are 362,320 lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb (182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (iii) Without regard to overfished status, if the combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as estimated by the SRD, is exceeded in a fishing year, then during the following fishing year, an automatic increase will not be applied to the commercial and recreational sector ACLs during that following fishing year. The SRD will evaluate the landings data to determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will be applied. The applicable combined commercial and recreational sector ACLs, in round weight are 647,000 lb (293,474 kg) for 2012, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb (353,802 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (A) Following an overage of the total ACL, if there is no overage the following VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 fishing year, the SRD will evaluate the landings data to determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will be applied. (B)[Reserved] * * * * * [FR Doc. 2012–7721 Filed 3–29–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 RIN 0648–XA920 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2012 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Quota Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public hearings. AGENCY: On March 16, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to establish 2012 BFT quota specifications, and announced that public hearings would be scheduled in a future notice. In this notice NMFS is announcing public hearings in Gloucester, MA, and Silver Spring, MD, in order to provide greater opportunity for public comment on the proposed rule. DATES: A hearing will be held on April 4, 2012, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Gloucester, MA, and a hearing will be held on April 10, 2012, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Silver Spring, MD. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before April 16, 2012. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details. ADDRESSES: As published on March 16, 2012 (77 FR 15712), you may submit comments, identified by ‘‘NOAA– NMFS–2012–0048’’, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2012–0048’’ 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. • Fax: 978–281–9340, Attn: Sarah McLaughlin. • Mail: Sarah McLaughlin, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 19175 (F/SF1), NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. • Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Supporting documents, including the 2011 Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review, and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as well as others, such as the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plans may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are available by sending your request to Sarah McLaughlin at the mailing address specified above. The public hearing locations are: 1. Gloucester, MA—NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. 2. Silver Spring, MD—NMFS Science Center, 1301 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978–281–9260. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna (hereafter referred to as ‘‘Atlantic tunas’’) are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA). As an active member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the United States implements binding ICCAT recommendations to comply with this international treaty. ATCA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations, as may be necessary and appropriate, to implement ICCAT recommendations. The authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 19169-19175]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7721]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 101202599-0641-01]
RIN 0648-BA52


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 24

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement Amendment 24 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic 
Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish red 
grouper commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs); 
establish red grouper sector accountability measures (AMs); and remove 
the combined gag, black grouper, and red grouper commercial quota, and 
commercial and recreational sector ACLs and AMs. The intent of this 
rule is to specify ACLs and AMs for red grouper while maintaining catch 
levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the red grouper 
resource. Additionally, Amendment 24 would implement a rebuilding plan 
for red grouper in the South Atlantic.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 30, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0298'' 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: Rick DeVictor, 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-2011-0298'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0298'' 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 24, which includes an environmental 
assessment, 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/sf/pdfs/SGAmend24_121411.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick DeVictor, telephone: 727-824-
5305, or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council 
and is 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 red grouper stock in the South Atlantic was assessed through 
the Southeast, Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process in 2010. 
The assessment indicates that the stock is experiencing overfishing and 
is overfished. As required by the

[[Page 19170]]

Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Council must implement a rebuilding plan 
which ends overfishing immediately and provides for rebuilding the 
fishery. The intent of a rebuilding plan is to increase biomass of 
overfished stocks to a sustainable level within a specified period of 
time. A plan should achieve conservation goals, while minimizing to the 
extent practicable adverse socio-economic impacts. NMFS notified the 
Council of the red grouper stock status on June 9, 2010, and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act specifies that measures to end overfishing and 
rebuild the stock must be implemented within two years of notification.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that ACLs and AMs be implemented 
to prevent overfishing and achieve the OY from a fishery. An ACL is the 
level of annual catch of a stock that if exceeded, triggers AMs. AMs 
are management controls to prevent ACLs from being exceeded and to 
correct any overages of ACLs if they occur. Two examples of AMs include 
an in-season closure if catch approaches the ACL and reducing the ACL 
by an overage that occurred the previous fishing year.
    This rule would divide the red grouper ACL into sector-ACLs based 
upon allocation decisions and apply sector specific AMs.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

Gag, Black Grouper, and Red Grouper, Combined ACLs and AMs

    Currently, Federal regulations specify a commercial sector ACL 
(equivalent to the commercial quota) and recreational sector ACL for 
gag, black grouper, and red grouper, combined. The current combined 
gag, black grouper, and red grouper ACLs and AMs were implemented 
through Amendment 17B to the FMP (75 FR 82280, December 30, 2010), 
before black grouper and red grouper stock assessments were completed 
through SEDAR. This rule would remove the gag, black grouper, and red 
grouper, combined commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs as the ACLs 
are not based upon the best scientific information. Gag individual ACLs 
and AMs were previously implemented through Amendment 16 to the FMP 
(June 29, 2009, 74 FR 30964) and black grouper ACLs and AMs will be 
implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (proposed rule 
published December 1, 2011, 76 FR 74757) and will remain in effect.
    This rule would remove this combined species group from the Federal 
regulations and complete the implementation of measures to specify 
individual ACLs and AMs for these three species.

Red Grouper Commercial and Recreational Sector ACLs and AMs

    Amendment 24 would implement red grouper ACLs and AMs for the 
commercial and recreational sectors. The Council decided to define the 
red grouper ACL equal to ABC. The SSC's recommendation for ABC is the 
projected yield stream with a 70 percent probability of rebuilding 
success. The Council has chosen to define the rebuilding yield stream 
at the equivalent of OY (75 percent of fishing mortality (F) at maximum 
sustainable yield (MSY)(FMSY)). The resultant red grouper 
stock ACLs in this proposed rule are 647,000 lb (293,474 kg) for 2012, 
718,000 lb (325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb (353,802 kg) for 2014 
and subsequent fishing years. If the ACLs, as estimated by the 
Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) are exceeded in a fishing 
year, then during the following fishing year, the Assistant 
Administrator for Fisheries (AA) will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to state that both the commercial and 
recreational sectors will not have an increase in their respective 
sector ACLs during that following fishing year. Additionally, this rule 
would establish sector specific ACLs for the red grouper commercial and 
recreational sectors. The commercial sector ACLs would be 284,680 lb 
(129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb 
(155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. The recreational 
sector ACLs would be 362,320 lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb 
(182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and 
subsequent fishing years.
    This rule would implement in-season commercial and recreational 
sector AMs for red grouper. If NMFS-estimated commercial or 
recreational landings for red grouper reach or are projected to reach 
the applicable ACL, then NMFS would file a notification with the Office 
of the Federal Register to close the commercial or recreational sector, 
as applicable, for the remainder of the fishing year.
    This rule would also implement overage adjustments for red grouper. 
If commercial or recreational landings for red grouper exceed the 
applicable ACL, NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register to reduce the applicable ACL the following fishing 
year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. In 
particular, overage adjustments are needed for red grouper to follow 
guidance for stocks and stock complexes in rebuilding plans that ensure 
rebuilding occurs within the specified timeframe.

Measures Contained in Amendment 24 That Are Not in This Proposed Rule

    Amendment 24 also contains actions that are not specifically 
addressed through this rulemaking. These items include revising the 
definitions of management thresholds for South Atlantic red grouper, 
establishing a red grouper rebuilding plan, specifying commercial and 
recreational sector allocations, and establishing a recreational sector 
annual catch target (ACT).

Modify the Current Definitions for Management Thresholds

    Definitions of MSY, OY, and minimum stock size threshold (MSST) 
were set for red grouper in Amendment 11 to the FMP. The Council is 
revising these definitions based upon the most recent scientific 
information. Amendment 24 would specify the MSY value for red grouper 
equal to 1.11 million lb (503,488 kg). The OY would be set equal to the 
Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and ACL. The MSST, which is the 
overfished definition, would be changed. The current MSST definition 
specifies MSST at a level reduced from the spawning stock biomass when 
fishing at the MSY level. The level to be reduced depends on the 
natural mortality rate of the stock. Amendment 24 would change the MSST 
definition to 75 percent of the spawning stock biomass when fishing at 
the MSY level.

Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan

    The Council selected a 10-year rebuilding plan for red grouper in 
Amendment 24. This is the maximum time frame allowed under the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, because the Council intends to manage 
the stock using the fishing mortality at OY yield stream, the stock is 
projected to have an 81 percent chance of rebuilding in 10 years, 
greater than the 70 percent probability recommended by the Council's 
SSC. Given management uncertainties and uncertainties regarding stock 
assessment projections more than a few years in the future, a 10-year 
rebuilding plan would allow for fluctuations in catches and provide 
leeway to account for the needs of fishing communities when setting 
catch levels and management measures.

Red Grouper Commercial and Recreational Sector Allocations

    Amendment 24 would implement red grouper sector allocations for the

[[Page 19171]]

commercial and recreational sectors. The Council has decided that 
sector specific ACLs and AMs are important components of red grouper 
management as each sector differs in its scientific and management 
uncertainty. The allocation of red grouper among the commercial and 
recreational sectors is 44 percent and 56 percent, respectively. The 
allocations were determined by using 50 percent of the average combined 
commercial and recreational landings from 1986 through 2008, in 
addition to using 50 percent of average combined landings from 2006 
through 2008. This proposed rule would implement ACLs for the red 
grouper commercial and recreational sectors based on this allocation.

Red Grouper Recreational ACT

    Amendment 24 would establish ACTs for the red grouper recreational 
sector. The ACT is the amount of annual catch of a stock or stock 
complex that is the management target of the fishery and accounts for 
management uncertainty in controlling the actual catch below the ACL so 
that the ACL is not exceeded. The recreational ACTs would be equal to 
the greater of either half of the recreational ACL or a portion of the 
recreational ACL, dependent on the precision of the recreational catch 
estimates. The recreational ACTs established through Amendment 24 would 
be 271,740 lb (123,259 kg) for 2012, 301,560 lb (136,785 kg) for 2013, 
and 327,600 lb (148,597 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. If, 
in the future, the Council chose to limit recreational harvest to the 
recreational ACT, which would serve as an in-season AM for the 
recreational sector, establishing the ACT lower than the recreational 
ACL would also reduce or eliminate the need to close or implement post-
season recreational AMs that are meant to correct for an ACL overage.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
AA has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 
24, 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, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603, for this rule. The IRFA describes the 
economic impact that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on 
small entities. A description of the proposed 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 NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The proposed rule would specify a total red grouper ACL as equal to 
ABC and ABC equal to OY. This proposed rule would allocate the total 
ACL into 44 percent for the commercial sector and 56 percent for the 
recreational sector. This rule would also remove the commercial and 
recreational combined ACLs for black grouper, red grouper, and gag as 
well as the commercial and recreational AMs associated with the 
combined ACLs for the three species. The actual levels of the 
commercial and recreational ACLs are contained at the beginning of this 
section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble.
    This proposed rule would implement in-season commercial and 
recreational sector AMs for red grouper. If commercial and recreational 
landings for red grouper reach or are projected to reach the applicable 
ACL, then NMFS would file a notification with the Office of the Federal 
Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the 
remainder of the fishing year.
    This proposed rule would also implement overage adjustments for red 
grouper. If NMFS estimated commercial or recreational landings for red 
grouper exceed the applicable ACL, NMFS would file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the applicable ACL the 
following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior 
fishing year. In particular, overage adjustments are needed for red 
grouper to follow Magnuson-Stevens Act guidance for stocks and stock 
complexes in rebuilding plans to include overage adjustments that 
reduce the ACLs in the next fishing year following an ACL overage.
    Amendment 24 would establish a recreational ACT equal to the 
greater of either half of the recreational ACL or a portion of the 
recreational ACL, dependent on the estimate of precision of the 
recreational catch.
    The intent of this proposed rule and Amendment 24 is to develop and 
implement a rebuilding plan to end overfishing and rebuild the spawning 
stock of red grouper by establishing a rebuilding schedule and a 
rebuilding strategy; specifying or re-specifying ABC, commercial/
recreational allocation, ACLs and OY; and establishing ACTs for the 
recreational sector and AMs for the commercial and recreational 
sectors. Amendment 24 would also redefine MSY and MSST.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for the 
proposed rule.
    No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been 
identified.
    The proposed rule is expected to directly affect commercial fishers 
and for-hire operators. 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, other 
qualifiers apply and the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million 
(NAICS code 713990, recreational industries).
    From 2005-2009, an annual average of 892 vessels with valid permits 
to operate in the commercial snapper-grouper fishery landed snapper-
grouper, generating dockside revenues of approximately $13.817 million 
(2009 dollars). Each vessel, therefore, generated an average of 
approximately $15,500 in gross revenues from snapper-grouper. Gross 
dockside revenues by area were distributed as follows: $4.196 million 
in North Carolina, $3.612 million in South Carolina, $3.219 million in 
Georgia/East Florida, and $2.790 in the west coast of Florida. Vessels 
that operate in the snapper-grouper fishery may also operate in other 
fisheries, the revenues of which cannot be determined with available 
data and are not reflected in these totals.
    Based on revenue information, all commercial vessels affected by 
the proposed action can be considered small entities.
    From 2005-2009, an annual average of 2,018 vessels had valid 
permits to operate in the snapper-grouper for-hire fishery, of which 82 
are estimated to have operated as headboats. 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. The 
charterboat annual average gross revenue is estimated to range from 
approximately $62,000-$84,000 for Florida vessels, $73,000-$89,000 for 
North Carolina vessels, $68,000-$83,000 for Georgia vessels, and 
$32,000-$39,000 for South Carolina vessels. For headboats, the 
corresponding estimates are $170,000-$362,000 for Florida

[[Page 19172]]

vessels, and $149,000-$317,000 for vessels in the other states.
    Based on these average revenue figures, all for-hire operations 
that would be affected by the proposed action can be considered small 
entities.
    Some fleet activity, i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single 
entity, may exist in both the commercial and for-hire snapper-grouper 
sectors but the extent of such activity is unknown, and all vessels are 
treated as independent entities in this analysis. For this fleet to 
reach the $4 million threshold, each permitted vessel would have to 
generate yearly receipts of approximately $333,000. It is not known for 
certain whether this is the case, but it appears that such a figure of 
yearly receipts is too high given the above noted average gross 
revenues per vessel.
    The proposed rule is expected to directly affect all federally-
permitted commercial and for-hire vessels that operate in the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery. All directly affected entities have 
been determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small 
entities. Therefore, it is determined that the proposed action will 
affect a substantial number of small entities.
    All entities that are expected to be affected by the proposed rule 
are considered small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects 
on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case.
    The proposed action on the rebuilding strategy, ABC, and ACL would 
result in an increase in cumulative commercial vessel profits of 
$990,000 over the first 7 years of the rebuilding schedule with an 
additional $310,000 generated in years 8 through 10, assuming a 
discount rate of 7 percent. The corresponding effects on the for-hire 
vessels would also be an increase in cumulative profits but the 
magnitude cannot be estimated based on available information. These 
increases in commercial vessel and for-hire vessel profits are mainly a 
result of increases in the ACL over time which are assumed to be fully 
harvested.
    To the extent that the proposed action for the commercial/
recreational allocation of total ACL would maintain the baseline 
landings distribution of red grouper between the two sectors, no profit 
changes to the commercial or for-hire vessels are expected to occur as 
a direct result of the proposed action.
    The proposed action for ACL/OY would provide the largest ACL/OY for 
red grouper, so that this proposed action may be expected to increase 
the profits of the commercial and for-hire vessels. The proposed action 
eliminating the aggregate black grouper, red grouper, and gag quota 
would tend to ensure profit increases from the largest ACL/OY 
alternative for red grouper would be realized.
    The proposed action on the recreational ACT would have no impacts 
on the profits of for-hire vessels in the short term, because this 
measure is not used to trigger AM applications. Should this ACT be used 
in the future to trigger AMs, then it may be expected to reduce the 
profits of for-hire vessels. The magnitude of such reduction cannot be 
estimated with available information.
    The proposed in-season and post-season AMs for the commercial 
sector are expected to limit the increases in the profits of commercial 
vessels as a result of ACL increases especially since the most recent 
landings information suggests the proposed series of ACLs would likely 
be exceeded in the near future.
    In principle, the proposed in-season and post-season AMs for the 
recreational sector are expected to limit the increases in profits of 
for-hire vessels as a result of ACL increases. However, the most recent 
(2010) recreational harvest of red grouper was well below the proposed 
ACL for the recreational sector, suggesting that the proposed AM has a 
low probability of being triggered in the near future. In effect, the 
proposed AM for the recreational sector may be expected to have a low 
likelihood of affecting the profits of for-hire vessels in the near 
future.
    Redefining MSY and MSST and establishing a rebuilding schedule for 
red grouper would not alter the current harvest or use of the resource 
and thus would not affect the profitability of small entities.
    Defining a rebuilding schedule as the maximum time to rebuild the 
stock to biomass at MSY would add flexibility in designing management 
measures that would have the least short-term effects on the 
profitability of small entities.
    Six alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the rebuilding strategy and ABC. The first alternative, 
the no action alternative, would not establish a rebuilding strategy 
for red grouper. Within a rebuilding strategy, the specification of 
targets and limits, such as ACLs is a crucial component of any 
management program involving natural resources. Without the designation 
of these components, regulations may not be sufficient to prevent 
overfishing and rebuild the stock. The second alternative would define 
a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at 
FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have 
a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 10 
years. This alternative would provide the best profitability scenario 
for the commercial and for-hire vessels over the entire rebuilding 
timeframe. However, it would allow a higher fishing mortality rate than 
what would be appropriate if the stock was not overfished. Both this 
alternative and the preferred alternative would maintain catches at a 
similar level to what they have been in recent years, but the preferred 
alternative is more consistent with fishing at a level that would 
produce OY. The third alternative would define a rebuilding strategy 
that sets ABC equal to the yield at 65 percent of FMSY. This 
alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than 
the preferred alternative, because it would require more restrictive 
management measures. The fourth alternative would define a rebuilding 
strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which 
is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of 
rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 7 years. This alternative would 
likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred 
alternative, because it would require more restrictive management 
measures. The fifth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that 
sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing 
mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding 
success to biomass at MSY in 8 years. This alternative would likely 
result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred 
alternative, because it would require more restrictive management 
measures.
    Two alternatives were considered for sector allocation, with one 
alternative being the no action alternative which would not establish 
sector allocation and the second would establish sector allocation. The 
no action alternative would not allow specification of sector ACLs and 
corresponding AMs, such that both sectors would be accountable for any 
ACL overages even if there is only one sector responsible for an ACL 
overage. Under the second alternative, five sub-alternatives including 
the preferred sub-alternative were considered. The first sub-
alternative would establish a 52 percent commercial and 48 percent 
recreational allocation; the second sub-alternative, 54 percent 
commercial and 46 percent recreational allocation; the third sub-
alternative, 49 percent commercial and 51 percent recreational 
allocation; and, the fourth sub-alternative, 41 percent commercial and 
59 percent recreational allocation. All of these alternatives, 
including the preferred alternative,

[[Page 19173]]

would base the allocation ratio solely on a sector distribution of 
landings. No economic valuation was considered due to the absence of 
sufficient information. In terms of effects on the profits of small 
entities, the general nature of the various allocation alternatives is 
to favor one sector over another. The higher the allocation to one 
sector, the higher would be the profit potential to that sector and the 
lower would be the profit potential to the other sector. Among the 
alternatives, the preferred alternative was found to have neutral 
effects on profits on both the commercial and for-hire vessels, because 
the resulting allocation would be the same as the historical sector 
distribution of landings used as the baseline landings distribution.
    Six alternatives, including the three preferred alternatives, were 
considered for ACL and OY. The three preferred alternatives are not 
mutually exclusive but are rather complementary to one another. The 
first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a 
specific ACL for red grouper. This alternative would not allow for 
specific management actions to address the overfished/overfishing 
status of the red grouper stock. The second alternative would specify 
an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 90 percent of ABC. 
This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small 
entities than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would 
specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 80 percent 
of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to 
small entities than the preferred alternative.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the commercial sector ACT. The first and second 
alternatives would set the commercial ACT equal to 90 percent and 80 
percent of commercial ACL, respectively. If ACTs were used to trigger 
AM applications, these two alternatives would result in lower profits 
to small entities than the preferred alternative. The Council chose not 
to establish a commercial ACT (no action alternative) because the 
current method to track commercial harvests is adequate to determine 
whether the commercial ACL is met or projected to be met.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the recreational ACT. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not specify a recreational ACT for red 
grouper. This alternative would not allow consideration of management 
uncertainty which is deemed high in the recreational sector. Without 
consideration of management uncertainty, the probability of exceeding 
the ACL would be relatively high, increasing the probability of 
implementing more stringent management measures. The second and third 
alternatives would specify a recreational ACT equal to 85 percent and 
75 percent of the recreational ACL, respectively. The second 
alternative would likely result in the same effects on the short-run 
profits of small entities as the preferred alternative. The third 
alternative would likely result in lower profits to small entities than 
the preferred alternative. These short-run effects of the ACT 
alternatives assume that ACTs would be used in the future to trigger AM 
applications.
    Three alternatives, including the two preferred alternatives, were 
considered for the commercial AM. The two preferred alternatives are 
not mutually exclusive but rather complementary to one another. The 
only alternative to the preferred alternatives is the no action 
alternative, which would not specify a commercial AM for red grouper. 
This alternative would retain the current commercial AM specified for 
the group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. 
This particular AM could be either more or less restrictive than the 
preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not 
allow implementing management measures that would specifically address 
the overfished and undergoing overfishing condition of the red grouper 
stock. In addition, the current AM for the aggregate species of red 
grouper, black grouper, and gag does not provide for post-season AMs. 
The lack of post-season AMs under the no action alternative would 
result in higher short-term profits to small entities than the 
preferred alternative. However, there is an expectation that the long-
term profit environment would be better under the preferred 
alternatives because they would provide for higher ACLs over time, and 
therefore higher profits on a more sustainable basis. It should also be 
noted that a separate commercial sector ACL/AM for black grouper will 
be implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (proposed rule 
published on December 1, 2011, 76 FR 74757), negating the need for the 
aggregate species ACL/AM.
    Four alternatives were considered for the recreational AM. The 
first alternative is the no action alternative which would not set a 
specific recreational AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain 
the current recreational AM specified for the group of species 
consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular AM 
could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM 
alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow 
implementing management measures that would specifically address the 
overfished/overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. It should 
also be noted that a separate recreational sector ACL/AM for black 
grouper will be implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment, 
negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM.
    The second alternative would specify a recreational sector AM 
trigger and includes five sub-alternatives, including the preferred 
sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a 
recreational sector AM trigger. This sub-alternative would likely 
result in higher profits to small entities than the preferred sub-
alternative. However, it would not address the overfished/overfishing 
condition of red grouper. The second sub-alternative specifies that AM 
would be triggered if the mean recreational landings for the past 3 
years exceed the recreational ACL. The profit environment for small 
entities under this sub-alternative may be lower or higher than that of 
the preferred sub-alternative, depending on whether the trend in 
landings is upward or downward.
    The third sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered 
if the modified mean (highest and lowest landings dropped) landings for 
the past 5 years exceed the recreational sector ACL. This sub-
alternative would have the same effects on profitability as the second 
sub-alternative, although the magnitude may be lower. The fourth sub-
alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the lower bound 
of the 90 percent confidence interval estimate of the Marine 
Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey landings' population mean plus 
headboat landings is greater than the recreational ACL. This sub-
alternative is likely to produce the same effects on profitability as 
the first sub-alternative, but the magnitude could be lower or higher.
    The third alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a 
recreational sector in-season AM and includes two sub-alternatives, of 
which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The only sub-alternative to 
the preferred alternative is the no action alternative which would not 
specify a recreational in-season AM. This alternative would result in 
higher short-term profits to small entities, but it would not constrain 
recreational fishing pressure and thus would not aid in addressing the 
overfished/overfishing condition for red grouper.

[[Page 19174]]

    The fourth alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a 
recreational sector post-season AM if the current fishing year's 
recreational sector ACL is exceeded, and includes seven sub-
alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The first 
sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector post-season AM. 
This sub-alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small 
entities than the preferred alternative, although the expectation is 
for long-term profitability to better under the preferred sub-
alternative. The second sub-alternative would compare the recreational 
sector ACL with the 2011 landings for 2011, with the mean 2011 and 2012 
landings for 2012, and mean landings of the most recent 3 years for 
2013 and beyond for triggering a post-season AM. This sub-alternative 
may or may not have the same sort of effects on profitability as the 
preferred alternative, depending on the specific AM measure that would 
be implemented.
    The third sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year's 
landings for persistence in increased landings, with the Regional 
Administrator (RA) taking management actions as necessary. This sub-
alternative would likely result in the lower adverse effects on short-
term profits than the preferred alternative, although the actual 
effects would depend on the type of restrictions that would be imposed 
by the RA. The fourth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the 
following year's landings for persistence in increased landings, with 
the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the 
recreational fishing season as necessary. This sub-alternative would 
likely result in less adverse effects on short term profits than the 
preferred sub-alternative to the extent that post-season AM may not be 
imposed depending on how persistent the upward trend in landings would 
be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this sub-alternative could 
still result in higher profits than the preferred alternative since it 
would set a specific red grouper recreational season closure date, 
allowing for-hire vessels to make the necessary changes in their 
operations.
    The fifth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year's 
landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing 
a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational bag limit 
as necessary to prevent harvest from exceeding the recreational ACL. 
This sub-alternative would likely result in less adverse effects on 
short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent 
that post-season AMs may not be imposed depending on how persistent the 
upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, 
this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the 
preferred alternative since it would allow for-hire vessels to operate 
year round, although at lower bag limits. The sixth sub-alternative 
specifies that the RA publish a notice in the Federal Register to 
reduce the following year's recreational fishing season to ensure 
landings do not exceed the following fishing season's recreational ACL. 
There is a good possibility that this sub-alternative would result in 
the same fishing season length as the preferred alternative, assuming 
no significant changes in effort would occur in the following fishing 
year. It is possible that other measures, like a bag limit reduction, 
may be employed under the preferred alternative to effect a longer 
season that would provide more fishing opportunities. Whichever of 
these two sub-alternatives can provide more fishing opportunities may 
be considered better than the other from the standpoint of profits to 
small entities.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for redefining MSY. The first alternative, the no action 
alternative, would retain the definition of MSY which would not reflect 
the conclusions of the latest stock assessment. This alternative, like 
the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability 
of small entities.
    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for redefining MSST. The first alternative, the no action 
alternative, would retain the definition of MSST as equal to natural 
mortality (M) times the biomass at MSY. The second alternative would 
set MSST equal to 50 percent of biomass at MSY. The third alternative 
would set MSST equal to 85 percent of biomass at MSY. The fourth 
alternative would set MSST as the minimum stock size at which 
rebuilding to MSY would be expected to occur within 10 years at the 
maximum fishing mortality threshold level. All these alternatives, like 
the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability 
of small entities.
    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the rebuilding schedule. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not implement a rebuilding schedule. This 
alternative would not comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement to 
rebuild an overfished red grouper stock. The second, third, and fourth 
alternatives would establish a rebuilding period of 3 years (shortest), 
7 years, and 8 years, respectively. These other alternatives would 
provide for a shorter rebuilding timeframe than the preferred 
alternative, and thus may be expected to restrict the flexibility in 
designing management measures that would minimize the economic effects 
on the profits of small entities.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

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

    Dated: March 27, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting 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.  622.42  [Amended]

    2. In Sec.  622.42, paragraph (e)(8) is removed.
    3. In Sec.  622.43, paragraph (a)(5)(iii) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.43  Closures.

    (a) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (iii) For gag, when the appropriate commercial quota is reached, 
the provisions of paragraph (a)(5)(i) and (ii) of this section apply to 
gag and all other SASWG.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  622.49, paragraph (b)(4) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.49  Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures 
(AMs).

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Red grouper--(i) Commercial sector. (A) If commercial landings 
for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to 
reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(i)(C) of this section, the 
AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to 
close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On 
and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or 
purchase of red grouper is prohibited and harvest or possession of this 
species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and 
possession limit. This bag and possession limit applies in the South

[[Page 19175]]

Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/
headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or 
Federal waters.
    (B) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the ACL for that 
following year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year.
    (C) The applicable commercial ACLs, in round weight, are 284,680 lb 
(129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb 
(155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years.
    (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If recreational landings for red 
grouper, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the applicable 
ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(C) 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 the fishing year. On and after 
the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limit 
is zero. This bag and possession limit applies in the South Atlantic on 
board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit 
for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to 
where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    (B) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the 
SRD, exceed the applicable ACL, the AA will file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the recreational ACL the 
following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior 
fishing.
    (C) The applicable recreational ACLs, in round weight, are 362,320 
lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb (182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 
lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years.
    (iii) Without regard to overfished status, if the combined 
commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as estimated by the 
SRD, is exceeded in a fishing year, then during the following fishing 
year, an automatic increase will not be applied to the commercial and 
recreational sector ACLs during that following fishing year. The SRD 
will evaluate the landings data to determine whether or not an increase 
in the respective sector ACLs will be applied. The applicable combined 
commercial and recreational sector ACLs, in round weight are 647,000 lb 
(293,474 kg) for 2012, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb 
(353,802 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years.
    (A) Following an overage of the total ACL, if there is no overage 
the following fishing year, the SRD will evaluate the landings data to 
determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will 
be applied.
    (B)[Reserved]
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-7721 Filed 3-29-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P