Shrimp Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Revisions of Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Protocols, 21679-21683 [2012-8730]

Download as PDF 21679 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 70 / Wednesday, April 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or otherwise have any unique impacts on local governments. Thus, the Agency has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled Federalism (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and Executive Order 13175, entitled Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000) do not apply to this final rule. In addition, this final rule does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (Pub. L, 104–4). Although this action does not require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994), EPA seeks to achieve environmental justice, the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of any group, including minority and/or low-income populations, in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. As such, to the extent that information is publicly available or was submitted in comments to EPA, the Agency considered whether groups or segments of the population, as a result of their location, cultural practices, or other factors, may have atypical or disproportionately high and adverse human health impacts or environmental effects from exposure to the pesticide discussed in this document, compared to the general population. One comment was received from a private citizen who opposed the authorization to sell any pesticide that leaves residue on food. The Agency understands the commenter’s concerns and recognizes that some individuals believe that no residue of pesticides should be allowed. However, under the existing legal framework provided by section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) EPA is authorized to establish pesticide tolerances or exemptions where persons seeking such tolerances or exemptions have demonstrated that the pesticide meets the safety standard imposed by the statute. the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of this rule in the Federal Register. This rule is not a ‘‘major rule’’ as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180 Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: April 3, 2012. Lois Rossi, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs. Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows: PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371. 2. In § 180.960, the table is amended by adding alphabetically the following polymer to read as follows: ■ XI. Congressional Review Act The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report to each House of § 180.960 Polymer; exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance. * * * * * CAS No. Polymer * * * * * * * Silicic acid, sodium salt, reaction products with chlorotrimethylsilane and iso-propyl alcohol, reaction with poly(oxypropylene)- None. poly(oxyethylene) glycol, minimum number average molecular weight (in amu), 75,000. * * * * Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. [FR Doc. 2012–8733 Filed 4–10–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ACTION: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE 50 CFR Part 622 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES [Docket No. 111104664–2106–02] RIN 0648–BB61 Shrimp Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Revisions of Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Protocols National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:48 Apr 10, 2012 Jkt 226001 Final rule. In accordance with the framework procedures for adjusting management measures of the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf FMP) and the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (South Atlantic FMP), this rule certifies two new bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) for use in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, and revises a harvesting restriction for shrimp vessels fishing in Federal waters of the Gulf. Both BRDs represent modifications to the Composite Panel BRD, which is SUMMARY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration AGENCY: * PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 * * provisionally certified through May 24, 2012. This rule incorporates these BRDs into the list of allowable BRDs, and provides technical specifications for the construction and subsequent legal enforcement of these BRDs. Additionally, this rule reduces the shrimp effort threshold for the Gulf shrimp fishery. The intended effect of this final rule is to improve bycatch reduction efforts in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, provide greater flexibility to the industry, reduce the potential adverse social and economic impacts to fishing communities of previous restrictions, and meet the requirements of National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) which E:\FR\FM\11APR1.SGM 11APR1 21680 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 70 / Wednesday, April 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations requires, to the extent practicable, the minimization of bycatch and bycatch mortality. This rule is effective May 11, 2012, except for the amendments to § 622.41(g)(3)(ii) and Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G., which are effective May 25, 2012. ADDRESSES: Documents related to this final rule may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ GulfShrimp.htm. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, telephone: 727–824– 5305, email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov. The shrimp fishery in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf is managed under the Gulf FMP prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council), and the shrimp fishery in the EEZ of the South Atlantic is managed under the South Atlantic FMP prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). The Gulf and South Atlantic FMPs are implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. On January 9, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to certify two new BRDs for use in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, and revise a harvesting restriction for shrimp vessels fishing in Federal waters of the Gulf and requested public comment (77 FR 1045). On January 23, 2012, NMFS published a correction to the proposed rule to correct an error in the preamble, which stated that the ‘‘Expanded Mesh BRD’’ would be decertified for use by the Gulf shrimp fishery after May 24, 2012, when it should have stated the ‘‘Extended Funnel BRD’’ would be decertified for use in the Gulf shrimp fishery after May 24, 2012 (77 FR 3224). The proposed rule outlined the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule and is not repeated here. This final rule certifies two new BRDs for use in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, namely the Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD and the Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel BRD, and provides technical specifications for the construction of these BRDs. The two BRDS that are currently provisionally certified, through May 24, 2012, namely the Composite Panel BRD and the Extended Funnel BRD (Gulf only), will automatically be decertified on the date their preliminary certification expires. The Extended Funnel BRD will wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:48 Apr 10, 2012 Jkt 226001 continue to be certified in the South Atlantic. This final rule also revises a harvesting restriction for shrimp vessels fishing in Federal waters of the Gulf. In accordance with regulations established when Joint Amendment 14/27 to the Gulf FMP and the FMP for the Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf (Joint Amendment 14/27) were implemented on February 28, 2008 (73 FR 3117, January 29, 2008), the rate of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on juvenile red snapper found in the 10 to 30 fathom depth contours, west of Mobile Bay, Alabama, must be reduced by at least 74 percent, compared to the average rate of fishing mortality documented during 2001 through 2003. Joint Amendment 14/27 further documented a direct correlation between shrimp trawl bycatch mortality and shrimping effort, as measured in days fished by shrimp vessels; meaning that shrimping effort, measured in days fished, can be used as proxy for shrimp trawl bycatch mortality rates. Based on data from 2001 through 2003, the benchmark mortality or ‘‘F’’ rate for shrimp trawl bycatch was 0.617. Using days fished as a proxy for bycatch mortality, that F rate corresponds to 82,811 days fished. To comply with Joint Amendment 14/27, the days fished needs to be reduced by 74 percent, to meet the required 74 percent reduction in bycatch mortality. To ensure that the F rate is reduced by 74 percent to 0.160, the number of days fished in a particular year cannot exceed 21,531 days (i.e., a 74 percent reduction from 82,811 days). To date, the annual shrimping effort has not exceeded the threshold level of 21,531 days, and no closures in the following fishing year have been needed. Joint Amendment 14/27 also established that this restriction would be relaxed in 2011 by requiring only a 67 percent reduction (not 74 percent) in shrimp trawl bycatch mortality. In accordance with Joint Amendment 14/ 27, this rule requires that the annual rate of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality must now be reduced by 67 percent, again using shrimping effort as a proxy for mortality. Using effort as measured in days fished as a proxy for bycatch mortaility, to reduce mortality by at least 67 percent, the number of days fished cannot now exceed a threshold of 27,328 days. The intent of relaxing this restriction on fishing effort is to benefit the shrimp fleet for its contribution to red snapper recovery, much like increasing allowable catch to the directed fishery as the red snapper stock recovers on its rebuilding trajectory. PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Comments and Responses One letter was received commenting on the proposed rule, identifying three issues. These comments and NMFS’ responses are presented below. Comment 1: One of the elements of the Composite Panel BRD that makes it preferable for use is that it can be constructed within the existing standard turtle excluder device (TED) extension. This allows the TED/BRD manufacturer to install both devices into the same extension of webbing, resulting in labor and material savings. The regulations should allow the BRD webbing extension to consist of the aft portion of a currently legal TED extension with all the components of the BRD otherwise installed, as described, and the openings cut into the existing TED extension, as described. Response: This final rule does not prohibit installing the Composite Panel BRD designs (Composite Panel BRD, Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD, and the SMP Composite Panel BRD) within the existing TED extension, provided that the extension material in the aft portion of the TED meets the specifications for the BRD installation as well (i.e., 241⁄2 meshes by 150 to 160 meshes). There is no requirement to cut the TED extension off and sew a complete Composite Panel BRD extension on the shortened TED extension. However, this may be more efficient for some fishers who do not wish to take their TED extensions out of their nets and take them to the net shop to have a new Composite Panel BRD installed. Nevertheless, the BRD can be installed in the TED extension. The portion of the extension that constitutes the BRD extension must be installed no more than 4 meshes from the posterior edge of the TED and the BRD escape openings must be installed 11⁄2 meshes from the leading edge of the BRD extension. Therefore, if a Composite Panel BRD design is installed in the TED extension, the BRD escape openings must be no more than 51⁄2 meshes from the posterior edge of the grid. Comment 2: The instructions describing the starting point for attachment of the leading edges of the panels should be changed from ‘‘* * * extension starting 12 meshes up from the bottom center on each side * * *’’ to ‘‘* * * extension starting 12–14–16– 18 meshes (i.e., 10 percent of the circumference of the extension) up from the bottom center on each side * * *’’ This would more accurately keep the opening in the same relative position to the original Composite Panel testing, which was done using a 120-mesh E:\FR\FM\11APR1.SGM 11APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 70 / Wednesday, April 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES extension, as in the original write-up of the provisional certification of the Composite Panel BRD. Establishing a requirement in terms of percentages instead of meshes would allow for the same opening position orientation in extensions as large as 180 meshes or even 200 meshes. This should also more accurately place the openings in the 150 to 160 mesh extensions. Response: The Composite Panel BRD regulations, as published February 13, 2008 (73 FR 8219), require that the BRD be constructed with a webbing extension with the dimensions of 241⁄2 meshes by 150 to 160 meshes, not 120 meshes. All configurations of the Composite Panel BRDs were tested with TED/BRD extensions of 150 to 160 meshes. It is not known what the effect of installing the BRD into an extension of 180 or 200 meshes would have regarding the performance of the BRD. Therefore, the portion of the extension that forms the BRD should be no more than 160 meshes. Allowing the current provisionally certified Composite Panel BRD to be installed in extensions of 180 to 200 meshes would require additional certification tests with the larger extensions. Comment 3: The twine size of the currently described webbing extension is not stated in the proposed rule (77 FR 1045, January 9, 2012) for either modification of the Composite Panel BRD. Response: The current regulations for the provisional certification of the Composite Panel BRD do not specify the twine size for the BRD extension. The purpose of this omission is to allow the Composite Panel BRDs to be installed in the TED extensions. NMFS acknowledges that the construction and installation manual posted on the Southeast Regional Office Web site (http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/ Composite%20BRD%20Instructions .pdf) erroneously specifies a specific twine size for the extension webbing. This error will be corrected in the new construction and installation manuals for the two new modifications of the Composite Panel BRD. Changes From the Proposed Rule The two BRDs whose provisional certification expires May 25, 2012 will still be provisionally certified at the time this final rule takes effect. NMFS prepared the regulatory text in the proposed rule under the assumption that the final rule would be effective on a date concurrent with the expiration of the provisional certification of these two BRDs. However, due to the timing of this final rule, the two provisionally certified BRDS may still be used until VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:48 Apr 10, 2012 Jkt 226001 May 25, 2012. Therefore, the regulatory text has been revised to include these provisionally certified BRDs through their date of effectiveness. The effective date for the BRD construction instructions in § 622.41, paragraph (g)(3)(ii), is delayed until May 25, 2012, when the two provisionally certified BRDs expire. Additionally, the effective date for the removal of the description of the Composite BRD in Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G., is delayed until May 25, 2012. Finally, the description of the two new BRDs being certified through this rule are added to Appendix D in part 622, in paragraphs H. and I., instead of paragraphs G. and H., as written in the proposed rule regulatory text. To improve this rule’s clarity, NMFS is adding the number of days fished that result from the 67-percent target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper in § 622.34 (l)(1). NMFS is also correcting a typo in the description of the two new BRDs being certified through this rule. The term ‘‘number’’ is removed from the first sentence of part 622, Appendix D H.2.a. and I.2.a. The minimum construction and installation requirements for the Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD and the SMP Composite Panel BRD do not specify a number for the twine size of the stretch mesh, to allow for more flexibility in the construction of these BRDs, therefore the term ‘‘number’’ can be removed from these specifications. Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator, Southeast Region, has determined that the actions contained in this rule are necessary for the conservation and management of the shrimp fishery in the Gulf and South Atlantic and that they are consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was proposed. PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 21681 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: April 6, 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 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. 2. In § 622.34, the second sentence of paragraph (l)(1) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.34 Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures. * * * * * (l) * * * (1) * * * The RA’s determination of the need for such closure and its geographical scope and duration will be based on an annual assessment, by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, of the shrimp effort and associated shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper in the 10–30 fathom area of statistical zones 10–21, compared to the 67percent target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper from the benchmark years of 2001–2003 established in the FMP (which corresponds in terms of annual shrimp effort to 27,328 days fished). * * * * * * * * ■ 3. In § 622.41, paragraph (g)(3)(ii) is removed and reserved and paragraphs (g)(3)(i)(G) and (H) are added to read as follows: § 622.41 Species specific limitations. * * * * * (g) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * (G) Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel. (H) Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel. * * * * * ■ 4. In Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G. is removed and reserved and paragraphs H. and I. are added to read as follows: Appendix D to Part 622—Specifications for Certified BRDS * E:\FR\FM\11APR1.SGM * * 11APR1 * * wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 21682 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 70 / Wednesday, April 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations H. Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel. 1. Description. The Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD is a variation to the alternative funnel construction method of the Jones-Davis BRD, except the funnel is assembled by using depth-stretched and heatset polyethylene webbing with square mesh panels on the inside instead of the flaps formed from the extension webbing. In addition, no hoops are used to hold the BRD open. 2. Minimum Construction and Installation Requirements. The Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD must contain all of the following: (a) Webbing extension. The webbing extension must be constructed from a single rectangular piece of 11⁄2-inch to 13⁄4-inch (3.8-cm to 4.5-cm) stretch mesh with dimensions of 241⁄2 meshes by 150 to 160 meshes. A tube is formed from the extension webbing piece by sewing the 241⁄2-mesh sides together. The leading edge of the webbing extension must be attached no more than 4 meshes from the posterior edge of the TED grid. (b) Funnel. The V-shaped funnel consists of two webbing panels attached to the extension along the leading edge of the panels. The top and bottom edges of the panels are sewn diagonally across the extension toward the center to form the funnel. The panels are 2-ply in design, each with an inner layer of 11⁄2-inch to 15⁄8-inch (3.8-cm to 4.1-cm) heat-set and depthstretched polyethylene webbing and an outer layer constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-cm) square mesh webbing (1-inch bar). The inner webbing layer must be rectangular in shape, 36 meshes on the leading edge by 20 meshes deep. The 36-mesh leading edges of the polyethylene webbing should be sewn evenly to 24 meshes of the extension webbing 11⁄2 meshes from and parallel to the leading edge of the extension starting 12 meshes up from the bottom center on each side. Alternately sew 2 meshes of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension webbing then 1 mesh of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension webbing toward the top. The bottom 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene layers are sewn evenly to the extension webbing on a 2 bar 1 mesh angle toward the bottom back center forming a v-shape in the bottom of the extension webbing. The top 20mesh edges of the polyethylene layers are sewn evenly along the bars of the extension webbing toward the top back center. The square mesh layers must be rectangular in shape and constructed of no larger than 2inch (5.1-cm) webbing that is 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length on the leading edge. The depth of the square mesh layer must be no more than 2 inches (5.1 cm) less than the 20 mesh side of the inner polyethylene layer when stretched taught. The 18-inch (45.7-cm) leading edge of each square mesh layer must be sewn evenly to the 36-mesh leading edge of the polyethylene section and the sides are sewn evenly (in length) to the 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene webbing. This will form a v-shape funnel using the top of the extension webbing as the top of the funnel and the bottom of the extension webbing as the bottom of the funnel. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:17 Apr 10, 2012 Jkt 226001 (c) Cutting the escape opening. There are two escape openings on each side of the funnel. The leading edge of the escape openings must be located on the same row of meshes in the extension webbing as the leading edge of the composite panels. The lower openings are formed by starting at the first attachment point of the composite panels and cutting 9 meshes in the extension webbing on an even row of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 degrees and cut 15 points on an even row toward the back of the extension webbing. At this point turn and cut 18 bars toward the bottom front of the extension webbing. Finish the escape opening by cutting 6 points toward the original starting point. The top escape openings start 5 meshes above and mirror the lower openings. Starting at the leading edge of the composite panel and 5 meshes above the lower escape opening, cut 9 meshes in the extension on an even row of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 degrees, and cut 6 points on an even row toward the back of the extension webbing. Then cut 18 bars toward the bottom back of the extension. To complete the escape opening, cut 15 points forward toward the original starting point. The area of each escape opening must total at least 212 in2 (1,368 cm2). The four escape openings must be double selvaged for strength. (d) Cone fish deflector. The cone fish deflector is constructed of 2 pieces of 15⁄8inch (4.1-cm) polypropylene or polyethylene webbing, 40 meshes wide by 20 meshes in length and cut on the bar on each side forming a triangle. Starting at the apex of the two triangles, the two pieces must be sewn together to form a cone of webbing. The apex of the cone fish deflector must be positioned within 12 inches (30.5 cm) of the posterior edge of the funnel. (e) 11-inch (27.9-cm) cable hoop for cone deflector. A single hoop must be constructed of 5⁄16-inch (0.79-cm) or 3⁄8-inch (0.95-cm) cable 341⁄2 inches (87.6 cm) in length. The ends must be joined by a 3-inch (7.6-cm) piece of 3⁄8-inch (0.95-cm) aluminum pipe pressed together with a 1⁄4-inch (0.64-cm) die. The hoop must be inserted in the webbing cone, attached 10 meshes from the apex and laced all the way around with heavy twine. (f) Installation of the cone in the extension. The apex of the cone must be installed in the extension within 12 inches (30.5 cm) behind the back edge of the funnel and attached in four places. The midpoint of a piece of number 60 twine (or at least 4-mesh wide strip of number 21 or heavier webbing) 3 ft (1.22 m) in length must be attached to the apex of the cone. This piece of twine or webbing must be attached within 5 meshes of the aft edge of the funnel at the center of each of its sides. Two 12-inch (30.5-cm) pieces of number 60 (or heavier) twine must be attached to the top and bottom of the 11inch (27.9-cm) cone hoop. The opposite ends of these two pieces of twine must be attached to the top and bottom center of the extension webbing to keep the cone from inverting into the funnel. I. Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel. 1. Description. The SMP is a panel of square mesh webbing placed in the top of the cod end to provide finfish escape openings. PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2. Minimum Construction and Installation Requirements. The SMP Composite Panel BRD must contain all of the following: (a) Webbing extension. The webbing extension must be constructed from a single rectangular piece of 11⁄2-inch to 13⁄4-inch (3.8-cm to 4.5-cm) stretch mesh with dimensions of 241⁄2 meshes by 150 to 160 meshes. A tube is formed from the extension webbing piece by sewing the 241⁄2-mesh sides together. The leading edge of the webbing extension must be attached no more than 4 meshes from the posterior edge of the TED grid. (b) Funnel. The V-shaped funnel consists of two webbing panels attached to the extension along the leading edge of the panels. The top and bottom edges of the panels are sewn diagonally across the extension toward the center to form the funnel. The panels are 2-ply in design, each with an inner layer of 11⁄2-inch to 15⁄8-inch (3.8-cm to 4.1-cm) heat-set and depthstretched polyethylene webbing and an outer layer constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-cm) square mesh webbing (1-inch bar). The inner webbing layer must be rectangular in shape, 36 meshes on the leading edge by 20 meshes deep. The 36-mesh leading edges of the polyethylene webbing should be sewn evenly to 24 meshes of the extension webbing 11⁄2 meshes from and parallel to the leading edge of the extension starting 12 meshes up from the bottom center on each side. Alternately sew 2 meshes of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension webbing then 1 mesh of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension webbing toward the top. The bottom 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene layers are sewn evenly to the extension webbing on a 2 bar 1 mesh angle toward the bottom back center forming a v-shape in the bottom of the extension webbing. The top 20mesh edges of the polyethylene layers are sewn evenly along the bars of the extension webbing toward the top back center. The square mesh layers must be rectangular in shape and constructed of no larger than 2inch (5.1-cm) webbing that is 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length on the leading edge. The depth of the square mesh layer must be no more than 2 inches (5.1 cm) less than the 20 mesh side of the inner polyethylene layer when stretched taught. The 18-inch (45.7-cm) leading edge of each square mesh layer must be sewn evenly to the 36-mesh leading edge of the polyethylene section and the sides are sewn evenly (in length) to the 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene webbing. This will form a v-shape funnel using the top of the extension webbing as the top of the funnel and the bottom of the extension webbing as the bottom of the funnel. (c) Cutting the escape opening. There are two escape openings on each side of the funnel. The leading edge of the escape openings must be located on the same row of meshes in the extension webbing as the leading edge of the composite panels. The lower openings are formed by starting at the first attachment point of the composite panels and cutting 9 meshes in the extension webbing on an even row of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 E:\FR\FM\11APR1.SGM 11APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 70 / Wednesday, April 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations degrees and cut 15 points on an even row toward the back of the extension webbing. At this point turn and cut 18 bars toward the bottom front of the extension webbing. Finish the escape opening by cutting 6 points toward the original starting point. The top escape openings start 5 meshes above and mirror the lower openings. Starting at the leading edge of the composite panel and 5 meshes above the lower escape opening, cut 9 meshes in the extension on an even row of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 degrees, and cut 6 points on an even row toward the back of the extension webbing. Then cut 18 bars toward the bottom back of the extension. To complete the escape opening, cut 15 points forward toward the original starting point. The area of each escape opening must total at least 212 in2 (1,368 cm2). The four escape openings must be double selvaged for strength. (d) SMP. The SMP is constructed from a single piece of square mesh webbing with a minimum dimension of 5 squares wide and 12 squares in length with a minimum mesh size of 3-inch (76-mm) stretched mesh. The maximum twine diameter of the square mesh is number 96 twine (4 mm). (e) Cutting the SMP escape opening. The escape opening is a rectangular hole cut in the top center of the cod end webbing. The posterior edge of the escape opening must be placed no farther forward that 8 ft (2.4 m) from the cod end drawstring (tie-off rings). The width of the escape opening, as measured across the cod end, must be four cod end meshes per square of the SMP (i.e., a cut of 20 cod end meshes for a SMP that is 5 meshes wide). The stretched mesh length of the escape opening must be equal to the total length of the SMP. No portion of the SMP escape opening may be covered with additional material or netting such as chaffing webbing, which might impede or prevent fish escapement. (f) Installation of the SMP. The SMP must be attached to the edge of the escape opening evenly around the perimeter of the escape opening cut with heavy twine. [FR Doc. 2012–8730 Filed 4–10–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 111207737–2141–02] wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES RIN 0648–XB174 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher/processors Using Trawl Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:48 Apr 10, 2012 Jkt 226001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/ processors (C/Ps) using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to C/Ps using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), April 8, 2012, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., September 1, 2012. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. Regulations governing sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR part 680. The A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) apportioned to C/Ps using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA is 847 metric tons (mt), as established by the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) has determined that the A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod TAC apportioned to C/Ps using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 547 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 300 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by C/Ps using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 21683 After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the directed fishing closure of Pacific cod for C/Ps using trawl gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of April 5, 2012. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: April 6, 2012. Carrie Selberg, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–8710 Filed 4–6–12; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\11APR1.SGM 11APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 70 (Wednesday, April 11, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 21679-21683]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8730]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 111104664-2106-02]
RIN 0648-BB61


Shrimp Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; 
Revisions of Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Protocols

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the framework procedures for adjusting 
management measures of the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp 
Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf FMP) and the Fishery Management 
Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (South 
Atlantic FMP), this rule certifies two new bycatch reduction devices 
(BRDs) for use in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic shrimp 
fisheries, and revises a harvesting restriction for shrimp vessels 
fishing in Federal waters of the Gulf. Both BRDs represent 
modifications to the Composite Panel BRD, which is provisionally 
certified through May 24, 2012. This rule incorporates these BRDs into 
the list of allowable BRDs, and provides technical specifications for 
the construction and subsequent legal enforcement of these BRDs. 
Additionally, this rule reduces the shrimp effort threshold for the 
Gulf shrimp fishery. The intended effect of this final rule is to 
improve bycatch reduction efforts in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp 
fisheries, provide greater flexibility to the industry, reduce the 
potential adverse social and economic impacts to fishing communities of 
previous restrictions, and meet the requirements of National Standard 9 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) which

[[Page 21680]]

requires, to the extent practicable, the minimization of bycatch and 
bycatch mortality.

DATES: This rule is effective May 11, 2012, except for the amendments 
to Sec.  622.41(g)(3)(ii) and Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G., 
which are effective May 25, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Documents related to this final rule may be obtained from 
the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/GulfShrimp.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, telephone: 727-824-
5305, email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The shrimp fishery in the exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ) of the Gulf is managed under the Gulf FMP prepared by the 
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council), and the 
shrimp fishery in the EEZ of the South Atlantic is managed under the 
South Atlantic FMP prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Council (South Atlantic Council). The Gulf and South Atlantic FMPs are 
implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
    On January 9, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to certify two 
new BRDs for use in the Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, and 
revise a harvesting restriction for shrimp vessels fishing in Federal 
waters of the Gulf and requested public comment (77 FR 1045). On 
January 23, 2012, NMFS published a correction to the proposed rule to 
correct an error in the preamble, which stated that the ``Expanded Mesh 
BRD'' would be decertified for use by the Gulf shrimp fishery after May 
24, 2012, when it should have stated the ``Extended Funnel BRD'' would 
be decertified for use in the Gulf shrimp fishery after May 24, 2012 
(77 FR 3224). The proposed rule outlined the rationale for the actions 
contained in this final rule and is not repeated here.
    This final rule certifies two new BRDs for use in the Gulf and 
South Atlantic shrimp fisheries, namely the Cone Fish Deflector 
Composite Panel BRD and the Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel 
BRD, and provides technical specifications for the construction of 
these BRDs. The two BRDS that are currently provisionally certified, 
through May 24, 2012, namely the Composite Panel BRD and the Extended 
Funnel BRD (Gulf only), will automatically be decertified on the date 
their preliminary certification expires. The Extended Funnel BRD will 
continue to be certified in the South Atlantic.
    This final rule also revises a harvesting restriction for shrimp 
vessels fishing in Federal waters of the Gulf. In accordance with 
regulations established when Joint Amendment 14/27 to the Gulf FMP and 
the FMP for the Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf (Joint Amendment 14/27) 
were implemented on February 28, 2008 (73 FR 3117, January 29, 2008), 
the rate of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on juvenile red snapper 
found in the 10 to 30 fathom depth contours, west of Mobile Bay, 
Alabama, must be reduced by at least 74 percent, compared to the 
average rate of fishing mortality documented during 2001 through 2003. 
Joint Amendment 14/27 further documented a direct correlation between 
shrimp trawl bycatch mortality and shrimping effort, as measured in 
days fished by shrimp vessels; meaning that shrimping effort, measured 
in days fished, can be used as proxy for shrimp trawl bycatch mortality 
rates. Based on data from 2001 through 2003, the benchmark mortality or 
``F'' rate for shrimp trawl bycatch was 0.617. Using days fished as a 
proxy for bycatch mortality, that F rate corresponds to 82,811 days 
fished. To comply with Joint Amendment 14/27, the days fished needs to 
be reduced by 74 percent, to meet the required 74 percent reduction in 
bycatch mortality. To ensure that the F rate is reduced by 74 percent 
to 0.160, the number of days fished in a particular year cannot exceed 
21,531 days (i.e., a 74 percent reduction from 82,811 days). To date, 
the annual shrimping effort has not exceeded the threshold level of 
21,531 days, and no closures in the following fishing year have been 
needed.
    Joint Amendment 14/27 also established that this restriction would 
be relaxed in 2011 by requiring only a 67 percent reduction (not 74 
percent) in shrimp trawl bycatch mortality. In accordance with Joint 
Amendment 14/27, this rule requires that the annual rate of shrimp 
trawl bycatch mortality must now be reduced by 67 percent, again using 
shrimping effort as a proxy for mortality. Using effort as measured in 
days fished as a proxy for bycatch mortaility, to reduce mortality by 
at least 67 percent, the number of days fished cannot now exceed a 
threshold of 27,328 days. The intent of relaxing this restriction on 
fishing effort is to benefit the shrimp fleet for its contribution to 
red snapper recovery, much like increasing allowable catch to the 
directed fishery as the red snapper stock recovers on its rebuilding 
trajectory.

Comments and Responses

    One letter was received commenting on the proposed rule, 
identifying three issues. These comments and NMFS' responses are 
presented below.
    Comment 1: One of the elements of the Composite Panel BRD that 
makes it preferable for use is that it can be constructed within the 
existing standard turtle excluder device (TED) extension. This allows 
the TED/BRD manufacturer to install both devices into the same 
extension of webbing, resulting in labor and material savings. The 
regulations should allow the BRD webbing extension to consist of the 
aft portion of a currently legal TED extension with all the components 
of the BRD otherwise installed, as described, and the openings cut into 
the existing TED extension, as described.
    Response: This final rule does not prohibit installing the 
Composite Panel BRD designs (Composite Panel BRD, Cone Fish Deflector 
Composite Panel BRD, and the SMP Composite Panel BRD) within the 
existing TED extension, provided that the extension material in the aft 
portion of the TED meets the specifications for the BRD installation as 
well (i.e., 24\1/2\ meshes by 150 to 160 meshes). There is no 
requirement to cut the TED extension off and sew a complete Composite 
Panel BRD extension on the shortened TED extension. However, this may 
be more efficient for some fishers who do not wish to take their TED 
extensions out of their nets and take them to the net shop to have a 
new Composite Panel BRD installed. Nevertheless, the BRD can be 
installed in the TED extension. The portion of the extension that 
constitutes the BRD extension must be installed no more than 4 meshes 
from the posterior edge of the TED and the BRD escape openings must be 
installed 1\1/2\ meshes from the leading edge of the BRD extension. 
Therefore, if a Composite Panel BRD design is installed in the TED 
extension, the BRD escape openings must be no more than 5\1/2\ meshes 
from the posterior edge of the grid.
    Comment 2: The instructions describing the starting point for 
attachment of the leading edges of the panels should be changed from 
``* * * extension starting 12 meshes up from the bottom center on each 
side * * *'' to ``* * * extension starting 12-14-16-18 meshes (i.e., 10 
percent of the circumference of the extension) up from the bottom 
center on each side * * *'' This would more accurately keep the opening 
in the same relative position to the original Composite Panel testing, 
which was done using a 120-mesh

[[Page 21681]]

extension, as in the original write-up of the provisional certification 
of the Composite Panel BRD. Establishing a requirement in terms of 
percentages instead of meshes would allow for the same opening position 
orientation in extensions as large as 180 meshes or even 200 meshes. 
This should also more accurately place the openings in the 150 to 160 
mesh extensions.
    Response: The Composite Panel BRD regulations, as published 
February 13, 2008 (73 FR 8219), require that the BRD be constructed 
with a webbing extension with the dimensions of 24\1/2\ meshes by 150 
to 160 meshes, not 120 meshes. All configurations of the Composite 
Panel BRDs were tested with TED/BRD extensions of 150 to 160 meshes. It 
is not known what the effect of installing the BRD into an extension of 
180 or 200 meshes would have regarding the performance of the BRD. 
Therefore, the portion of the extension that forms the BRD should be no 
more than 160 meshes. Allowing the current provisionally certified 
Composite Panel BRD to be installed in extensions of 180 to 200 meshes 
would require additional certification tests with the larger 
extensions.
    Comment 3: The twine size of the currently described webbing 
extension is not stated in the proposed rule (77 FR 1045, January 9, 
2012) for either modification of the Composite Panel BRD.
    Response: The current regulations for the provisional certification 
of the Composite Panel BRD do not specify the twine size for the BRD 
extension. The purpose of this omission is to allow the Composite Panel 
BRDs to be installed in the TED extensions. NMFS acknowledges that the 
construction and installation manual posted on the Southeast Regional 
Office Web site (http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/Composite%20BRD%20Instructions.pdf) erroneously specifies a specific 
twine size for the extension webbing. This error will be corrected in 
the new construction and installation manuals for the two new 
modifications of the Composite Panel BRD.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    The two BRDs whose provisional certification expires May 25, 2012 
will still be provisionally certified at the time this final rule takes 
effect. NMFS prepared the regulatory text in the proposed rule under 
the assumption that the final rule would be effective on a date 
concurrent with the expiration of the provisional certification of 
these two BRDs. However, due to the timing of this final rule, the two 
provisionally certified BRDS may still be used until May 25, 2012. 
Therefore, the regulatory text has been revised to include these 
provisionally certified BRDs through their date of effectiveness.
    The effective date for the BRD construction instructions in Sec.  
622.41, paragraph (g)(3)(ii), is delayed until May 25, 2012, when the 
two provisionally certified BRDs expire. Additionally, the effective 
date for the removal of the description of the Composite BRD in 
Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G., is delayed until May 25, 2012. 
Finally, the description of the two new BRDs being certified through 
this rule are added to Appendix D in part 622, in paragraphs H. and I., 
instead of paragraphs G. and H., as written in the proposed rule 
regulatory text.
    To improve this rule's clarity, NMFS is adding the number of days 
fished that result from the 67-percent target reduction of shrimp trawl 
bycatch mortality on red snapper in Sec.  622.34 (l)(1).
    NMFS is also correcting a typo in the description of the two new 
BRDs being certified through this rule. The term ``number'' is removed 
from the first sentence of part 622, Appendix D H.2.a. and I.2.a. The 
minimum construction and installation requirements for the Cone Fish 
Deflector Composite Panel BRD and the SMP Composite Panel BRD do not 
specify a number for the twine size of the stretch mesh, to allow for 
more flexibility in the construction of these BRDs, therefore the term 
``number'' can be removed from these specifications.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator, Southeast Region, has determined 
that the actions contained in this rule are necessary for the 
conservation and management of the shrimp fishery in the Gulf and South 
Atlantic and that they are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was proposed.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

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

    Dated: April 6, 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 amended 
as follows:

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

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  622.34, the second sentence of paragraph (l)(1) is revised 
to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (1) * * * The RA's determination of the need for such closure and 
its geographical scope and duration will be based on an annual 
assessment, by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, of the shrimp 
effort and associated shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper in 
the 10-30 fathom area of statistical zones 10-21, compared to the 67-
percent target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red 
snapper from the benchmark years of 2001-2003 established in the FMP 
(which corresponds in terms of annual shrimp effort to 27,328 days 
fished). * * *
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  622.41, paragraph (g)(3)(ii) is removed and reserved and 
paragraphs (g)(3)(i)(G) and (H) are added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.41  Species specific limitations.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (G) Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel.
    (H) Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel.
* * * * *

0
4. In Appendix D to part 622, paragraph G. is removed and reserved and 
paragraphs H. and I. are added to read as follows:

Appendix D to Part 622--Specifications for Certified BRDS

* * * * *

[[Page 21682]]

    H. Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel.
    1. Description. The Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD is a 
variation to the alternative funnel construction method of the 
Jones-Davis BRD, except the funnel is assembled by using depth-
stretched and heat-set polyethylene webbing with square mesh panels 
on the inside instead of the flaps formed from the extension 
webbing. In addition, no hoops are used to hold the BRD open.
    2. Minimum Construction and Installation Requirements. The Cone 
Fish Deflector Composite Panel BRD must contain all of the 
following:
    (a) Webbing extension. The webbing extension must be constructed 
from a single rectangular piece of 1\1/2\-inch to 1\3/4\-inch (3.8-
cm to 4.5-cm) stretch mesh with dimensions of 24\1/2\ meshes by 150 
to 160 meshes. A tube is formed from the extension webbing piece by 
sewing the 24\1/2\-mesh sides together. The leading edge of the 
webbing extension must be attached no more than 4 meshes from the 
posterior edge of the TED grid.
    (b) Funnel. The V-shaped funnel consists of two webbing panels 
attached to the extension along the leading edge of the panels. The 
top and bottom edges of the panels are sewn diagonally across the 
extension toward the center to form the funnel. The panels are 2-ply 
in design, each with an inner layer of 1\1/2\-inch to 1\5/8\-inch 
(3.8-cm to 4.1-cm) heat-set and depth-stretched polyethylene webbing 
and an outer layer constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-cm) 
square mesh webbing (1-inch bar). The inner webbing layer must be 
rectangular in shape, 36 meshes on the leading edge by 20 meshes 
deep. The 36-mesh leading edges of the polyethylene webbing should 
be sewn evenly to 24 meshes of the extension webbing 1\1/2\ meshes 
from and parallel to the leading edge of the extension starting 12 
meshes up from the bottom center on each side. Alternately sew 2 
meshes of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension 
webbing then 1 mesh of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the 
extension webbing toward the top. The bottom 20-mesh edges of the 
polyethylene layers are sewn evenly to the extension webbing on a 2 
bar 1 mesh angle toward the bottom back center forming a v-shape in 
the bottom of the extension webbing. The top 20-mesh edges of the 
polyethylene layers are sewn evenly along the bars of the extension 
webbing toward the top back center. The square mesh layers must be 
rectangular in shape and constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-
cm) webbing that is 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length on the leading 
edge. The depth of the square mesh layer must be no more than 2 
inches (5.1 cm) less than the 20 mesh side of the inner polyethylene 
layer when stretched taught. The 18-inch (45.7-cm) leading edge of 
each square mesh layer must be sewn evenly to the 36-mesh leading 
edge of the polyethylene section and the sides are sewn evenly (in 
length) to the 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene webbing. This will 
form a v-shape funnel using the top of the extension webbing as the 
top of the funnel and the bottom of the extension webbing as the 
bottom of the funnel.
    (c) Cutting the escape opening. There are two escape openings on 
each side of the funnel. The leading edge of the escape openings 
must be located on the same row of meshes in the extension webbing 
as the leading edge of the composite panels. The lower openings are 
formed by starting at the first attachment point of the composite 
panels and cutting 9 meshes in the extension webbing on an even row 
of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 degrees and 
cut 15 points on an even row toward the back of the extension 
webbing. At this point turn and cut 18 bars toward the bottom front 
of the extension webbing. Finish the escape opening by cutting 6 
points toward the original starting point. The top escape openings 
start 5 meshes above and mirror the lower openings. Starting at the 
leading edge of the composite panel and 5 meshes above the lower 
escape opening, cut 9 meshes in the extension on an even row of 
meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 degrees, and 
cut 6 points on an even row toward the back of the extension 
webbing. Then cut 18 bars toward the bottom back of the extension. 
To complete the escape opening, cut 15 points forward toward the 
original starting point. The area of each escape opening must total 
at least 212 in\2\ (1,368 cm\2\). The four escape openings must be 
double selvaged for strength.
    (d) Cone fish deflector. The cone fish deflector is constructed 
of 2 pieces of 1\5/8\-inch (4.1-cm) polypropylene or polyethylene 
webbing, 40 meshes wide by 20 meshes in length and cut on the bar on 
each side forming a triangle. Starting at the apex of the two 
triangles, the two pieces must be sewn together to form a cone of 
webbing. The apex of the cone fish deflector must be positioned 
within 12 inches (30.5 cm) of the posterior edge of the funnel.
    (e) 11-inch (27.9-cm) cable hoop for cone deflector. A single 
hoop must be constructed of \5/16\-inch (0.79-cm) or \3/8\-inch 
(0.95-cm) cable 34\1/2\ inches (87.6 cm) in length. The ends must be 
joined by a 3-inch (7.6-cm) piece of \3/8\-inch (0.95-cm) aluminum 
pipe pressed together with a \1/4\-inch (0.64-cm) die. The hoop must 
be inserted in the webbing cone, attached 10 meshes from the apex 
and laced all the way around with heavy twine.
    (f) Installation of the cone in the extension. The apex of the 
cone must be installed in the extension within 12 inches (30.5 cm) 
behind the back edge of the funnel and attached in four places. The 
midpoint of a piece of number 60 twine (or at least 4-mesh wide 
strip of number 21 or heavier webbing) 3 ft (1.22 m) in length must 
be attached to the apex of the cone. This piece of twine or webbing 
must be attached within 5 meshes of the aft edge of the funnel at 
the center of each of its sides. Two 12-inch (30.5-cm) pieces of 
number 60 (or heavier) twine must be attached to the top and bottom 
of the 11-inch (27.9-cm) cone hoop. The opposite ends of these two 
pieces of twine must be attached to the top and bottom center of the 
extension webbing to keep the cone from inverting into the funnel.
    I. Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel.
    1. Description. The SMP is a panel of square mesh webbing placed 
in the top of the cod end to provide finfish escape openings.
    2. Minimum Construction and Installation Requirements. The SMP 
Composite Panel BRD must contain all of the following:
    (a) Webbing extension. The webbing extension must be constructed 
from a single rectangular piece of 1\1/2\-inch to 1\3/4\-inch (3.8-
cm to 4.5-cm) stretch mesh with dimensions of 24\1/2\ meshes by 150 
to 160 meshes. A tube is formed from the extension webbing piece by 
sewing the 24\1/2\-mesh sides together. The leading edge of the 
webbing extension must be attached no more than 4 meshes from the 
posterior edge of the TED grid.
    (b) Funnel. The V-shaped funnel consists of two webbing panels 
attached to the extension along the leading edge of the panels. The 
top and bottom edges of the panels are sewn diagonally across the 
extension toward the center to form the funnel. The panels are 2-ply 
in design, each with an inner layer of 1\1/2\-inch to 1\5/8\-inch 
(3.8-cm to 4.1-cm) heat-set and depth-stretched polyethylene webbing 
and an outer layer constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-cm) 
square mesh webbing (1-inch bar). The inner webbing layer must be 
rectangular in shape, 36 meshes on the leading edge by 20 meshes 
deep. The 36-mesh leading edges of the polyethylene webbing should 
be sewn evenly to 24 meshes of the extension webbing 1\1/2\ meshes 
from and parallel to the leading edge of the extension starting 12 
meshes up from the bottom center on each side. Alternately sew 2 
meshes of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the extension 
webbing then 1 mesh of the polyethylene webbing to 1 mesh of the 
extension webbing toward the top. The bottom 20-mesh edges of the 
polyethylene layers are sewn evenly to the extension webbing on a 2 
bar 1 mesh angle toward the bottom back center forming a v-shape in 
the bottom of the extension webbing. The top 20-mesh edges of the 
polyethylene layers are sewn evenly along the bars of the extension 
webbing toward the top back center. The square mesh layers must be 
rectangular in shape and constructed of no larger than 2-inch (5.1-
cm) webbing that is 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length on the leading 
edge. The depth of the square mesh layer must be no more than 2 
inches (5.1 cm) less than the 20 mesh side of the inner polyethylene 
layer when stretched taught. The 18-inch (45.7-cm) leading edge of 
each square mesh layer must be sewn evenly to the 36-mesh leading 
edge of the polyethylene section and the sides are sewn evenly (in 
length) to the 20-mesh edges of the polyethylene webbing. This will 
form a v-shape funnel using the top of the extension webbing as the 
top of the funnel and the bottom of the extension webbing as the 
bottom of the funnel.
    (c) Cutting the escape opening. There are two escape openings on 
each side of the funnel. The leading edge of the escape openings 
must be located on the same row of meshes in the extension webbing 
as the leading edge of the composite panels. The lower openings are 
formed by starting at the first attachment point of the composite 
panels and cutting 9 meshes in the extension webbing on an even row 
of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90

[[Page 21683]]

degrees and cut 15 points on an even row toward the back of the 
extension webbing. At this point turn and cut 18 bars toward the 
bottom front of the extension webbing. Finish the escape opening by 
cutting 6 points toward the original starting point. The top escape 
openings start 5 meshes above and mirror the lower openings. 
Starting at the leading edge of the composite panel and 5 meshes 
above the lower escape opening, cut 9 meshes in the extension on an 
even row of meshes toward the top of the extension. Next, turn 90 
degrees, and cut 6 points on an even row toward the back of the 
extension webbing. Then cut 18 bars toward the bottom back of the 
extension. To complete the escape opening, cut 15 points forward 
toward the original starting point. The area of each escape opening 
must total at least 212 in\2\ (1,368 cm\2\). The four escape 
openings must be double selvaged for strength.
    (d) SMP. The SMP is constructed from a single piece of square 
mesh webbing with a minimum dimension of 5 squares wide and 12 
squares in length with a minimum mesh size of 3-inch (76-mm) 
stretched mesh. The maximum twine diameter of the square mesh is 
number 96 twine (4 mm).
    (e) Cutting the SMP escape opening. The escape opening is a 
rectangular hole cut in the top center of the cod end webbing. The 
posterior edge of the escape opening must be placed no farther 
forward that 8 ft (2.4 m) from the cod end drawstring (tie-off 
rings). The width of the escape opening, as measured across the cod 
end, must be four cod end meshes per square of the SMP (i.e., a cut 
of 20 cod end meshes for a SMP that is 5 meshes wide). The stretched 
mesh length of the escape opening must be equal to the total length 
of the SMP. No portion of the SMP escape opening may be covered with 
additional material or netting such as chaffing webbing, which might 
impede or prevent fish escapement.
    (f) Installation of the SMP. The SMP must be attached to the 
edge of the escape opening evenly around the perimeter of the escape 
opening cut with heavy twine.

[FR Doc. 2012-8730 Filed 4-10-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P