Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2012, 25394-25399 [2012-10358]

Download as PDF 25394 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules (2) LPR devices operating under this section must confine their fundamental emission bandwidth within the 5.925– 7.250 GHz, 24.05–29.00 GHz, and 75–85 GHz bands under all conditions of operation. (f) Fundamental Emissions Limits (1) All emission limits provided in this section are expressed in terms of Equivalent Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP). (2) The EIRP level is to be determined from the maximum measured power within a specified bandwidth. (i) The EIRP in 1 MHz is computed from the maximum power level measured within any 1-MHz bandwidth using a power averaging detector; (ii) The EIRP in 50 MHz is computed from the maximum power level measured with a peak detector in a 50MHz bandwidth centered on the frequency at which the maximum average power level is realized. (3) The EIRP limits for LPR operations in the bands authorized by this rule section are provided in the following table: Frequency band of operation (GHz) EIRP limit in 1 MHz (dBm) EIRP limit in 50 MHz (dBm) 5.925–7.250 ...... 24.05–29.00 ...... 75–85 ................ ¥33 ¥14 ¥3 7 26 34 main beam coupling between the LPR and test antennas (boresight). (2) Measurements of the unwanted emissions radiating from an LPR shall be made utilizing elevation and azimuth scans to determine the location at which the emissions are maximized. (3) All emissions at and below 960 MHz are based on measurements employing a CISPR quasi-peak detector. (4) The fundamental emission bandwidth measurement shall be made using a peak detector with a resolution bandwidth of 1 MHz and a video bandwidth of at least 3 MHz. (5) The provisions in § 15.35(b) and (c) of this part that require emissions to be averaged over a 100 millisecond period and that limit the peak power to 20 dB above the average limit do not apply to devices operating under this section. (6) Compliance measurements of frequency-agile LPR devices shall be performed with any related frequency sweep, step, or hop function activated. (7) Compliance measurements shall be made in accordance with the specific procedures published or otherwise authorized by the Commission. [FR Doc. 2012–9984 Filed 4–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (g) Unwanted Emissions Limits (1) All emission limits provided in this section are expressed in terms of Equivalent Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) and are computed based on the maximum average power level measured within any 1-MHz bandwidth. (2) Unwanted emission limits applicable to LPR devices shall not exceed the general emission limits in § 15.209. (h) Antenna Beamwidth (1) LPR devices operating under the provisions of this section within the 5.925–7.250 GHz and 24.05–29.00 GHz bands must use an antenna with a maximum half-power beamwidth of 12 degrees. (2) LPR devices operating under the provisions of this section within the 75– 85 GHz band must use an antenna with a maximum half-power beamwidth of 8 degrees. (i) Antenna Side Lobe Gain (1) LPR devices operating under the provisions of this section must limit the side lobe antenna gain to ¥10 dBi for off-axis angles from the main beam of greater than 60 degrees. (j) Measurement Procedures (1) Radiated measurements of the fundamental emission bandwidth and power shall be made with maximum VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 120321208–2010–01] RIN 0648–BC07 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2012 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes management measures for the 2012 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries. The implementing regulations for these fisheries require NMFS to publish recreational measures for the fishing year and to provide an opportunity for public comment. The intent of these measures is to prevent overfishing of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass resources. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Comments must be received by 5 p.m. local time, on May 15, 2012. DATES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2012–0081, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking 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– 0081 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) 281–9135, Attn: Comments on 2012 Proposed Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Recreational Measures, NOAA–NMFS– 2012–0081. • Mail and Hand Delivery: Daniel S. Morris, Acting Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: ‘‘Comments on 2012 FSB Recreational Measures.’’ Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted 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. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Copies of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (SEA/ IRFA) and other supporting documents for the recreational harvest measures, are available from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The recreational harvest measures document is also accessible via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules General Background The summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission), in consultation with the New England and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. The management units specified in the FMP include summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the southern border of North Carolina (NC) northward to the U.S./Canada border, and scup (Stenotomus chrysops) and black sea bass (Centropristis striata) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from 35 E. 13.3′ N. lat. (the latitude of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, NC) northward to the U.S./Canada border. The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR part 648, subparts A (general provisions), G (summer flounder), H (scup), and I (black sea bass). General regulations governing fisheries of the Northeastern U.S. also appear at 50 CFR part 648. States manage these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under the Commission’s plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The applicable speciesspecific Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass Federal charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish. recreational management measures recommendation process is therefore not repeated in this preamble. The FMP established monitoring committees for the three fisheries, consisting of representatives from the Commission, the Council, state marine fishery agency representatives from MA to NC, and NMFS. The FMP’s implementing regulations require the monitoring committees to review scientific and other relevant information annually and to recommend management measures necessary to constrain landings within the recreational harvest limits established for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries for the upcoming fishing year. The FMP limits the choices for the types of measures to minimum fish size, possession limit, and fishing season. The Council’s Demersal Species Committee and the Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board (Board) then consider the monitoring committees’ recommendations and any public comment in making their recommendations to the Council and the Commission, respectively. The Council reviews the recommendations of the Demersal Species Committee, makes its own recommendations, and forwards them to NMFS for review. The Commission similarly adopts recommendations for the states. NMFS is required to review the Council’s recommendations to ensure that they are consistent with the targets specified for each species in the FMP and all applicable laws and Executive Orders before ultimately implementing measures for Federal waters. All minimum fish sizes discussed hereafter are total length measurements of the fish, i.e., the straight-line distance from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail while the fish is lying on its side. For black sea bass, total length measurement does not include the caudal fin tendril. All possession limits discussed below are per person. Recreational Management Measures Background The Council process for devising recreational management measures to recommend to NMFS for rulemaking is generically described in the following section. All meetings are open to the public and the materials utilized during such meetings, as well as any documents created to summarize the meeting results, are public information and typically posted on the Council’s Web site (www.mafmc.org) or are available from the Council by request. Extensive background on the 2012 Proposed 2012 Recreational Management Measures NMFS is proposing the following measures that would apply in the Federal waters of the EEZ and to all federally permitted party/charter vessels with applicable summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass permits regardless of where they fish for the 2012 recreational summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries: For summer flounder, use of state-by-state conservation equivalency measures, which are the status quo measures; for scup, a 10.5inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9218. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 25395 20-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of January 1 through December 31; and, for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.71-cm) minimum fish size, a 15-fish per person possession limit for a January 1 through February 29 open season, and a 25-fish per person possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 14 and November 1 through December 31. NMFS will consider retaining or reinstating status quo black sea bass measures, as needed, for Federal waters (i.e., a 12.5-in (31.75-cm) minimum fish size, a 25-fish per person possession limit, and fishing seasons from May 22– October 11 and November 1–December 31) if the Commission develops and implements a state-waters conservation equivalency system that, when paired with the Council’s recommended measures, does not provide the necessary conservation to ensure the 2012 recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded. More detail on these proposed measures is provided in the following sections. Summer Flounder Recreational Management Measures The 2012 recreational harvest limit for summer flounder is 8.76 million lb (3,973 mt), as published in interim final rule (76 FR 82189, December 30, 2011). Final landings for 2011 are approximately 5.6 million lb (2,541.57 mt), well below the recreational harvest limit. The Council and Commission have recommended the use of conservation equivalency to manage the 2012 summer flounder recreational fishery. NMFS implemented Framework Adjustment 2 to the FMP on July 29, 2001 (66 FR 36208), to permit the use of conservation equivalency to manage the recreational summer flounder fishery. Conservation equivalency allows each state to establish its own recreational management measures (possession limits, minimum fish size, and fishing seasons) to achieve its state harvest limit partitioned by the Commission from the coastwide recreational harvest limit, as long as the combined effect of all of the states’ management measures achieves the same level of conservation as would Federal coastwide measures. The Council and Board annually recommend that either state- or regionspecific recreational measures be developed (conservation equivalency) or coastwide management measures be implemented by all states to ensure that the recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded. Even when the Council and Board recommend conservation equivalency, the Council must specify a E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 25396 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules set of coastwide measures that would apply if conservation equivalency is not approved for use in Federal waters. When conservation equivalency is recommended, and following confirmation that the proposed state measures developed through the Commission’s technical and policy review processes achieve conservation equivalency, NMFS may waive the permit condition found at § 648.4(b), which requires Federal permit holders to comply with the more restrictive management measures when state and Federal measures differ. In such a situation, federally permitted summer flounder charter/party permit holders and individuals fishing for summer flounder in the EEZ would then be subject to the recreational fishing measures implemented by the state in which they land summer flounder, rather than the coastwide measures. In addition, the Council and the Board must recommend precautionary default measures when recommending conservation equivalency. The Commission would require adoption of the precautionary default measures by any state that either does not submit a summer flounder management proposal to the Commission’s Summer Flounder Technical Committee, or that submits measures that would exceed the Commission-specified harvest limit for that state. Much of the conservation equivalency measures development process happens at both the Commission and individual state level. The selection of appropriate data and analytic techniques for technical review of potential state conservation equivalent measures and the process by which the Commission evaluates and recommends proposed conservation equivalent measures is wholly a function of the Commission and its individual member states. Individuals seeking information regarding the process to develop specific state measure or the Commission process for technical evaluation of proposed measures should contact the marine fisheries agency in the state of interest, the Commission, or both. Once states select their final 2012 summer flounder management measures through their respective development, analytical, and review processes and submit them to the Commission, the Commission will conduct further review and evaluation of the state-submitted proposals, ultimately notifying NMFS as to which individual state proposals have been approved or disapproved. NMFS has no overarching authority in the state or Commission management measure development, but is an equal VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 participant along with all the member states in the measures review process. NMFS retains the final authority either to approve or to disapprove the use of conservation equivalency in place of the coastwide measures in Federal waters, and will publish its determination as a final rule in the Federal Register to establish the 2012 recreational measures for these fisheries. States that do not submit conservation equivalency proposals, or whose proposals are disapproved by the Commission, will be required by the Commission to adopt the precautionary default measures. In the case of states that are initially assigned precautionary default measures, but subsequently receive Commission approval of revised state measures, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a waiver of the permit condition at § 648.4(b). The 2012 precautionary default measures recommended by the Council and Board are for a 20.0-inch (50.80-cm) minimum fish size, a possession limit of two fish, and an open season of May 1 through September 30, 2012. In this action, NMFS proposes to implement conservation equivalency with a precautionary default backstop, as previously outlined, for states that either fail to submit conservation equivalent measures or whose measures are not approved by the Commission. NMFS proposes the alternative of coastwide measures, as previously described, for use if conservation equivalency is not approved in the final rule. The coastwide measures would be waived if conservation equivalency is approved in the final rule. Scup Recreational Management Measures The 2012 scup recreational harvest limit is 8.45 million lb (3,833 mt), as published in interim final rule (December 30, 2011; 76 FR 82189). Estimated 2011 scup recreational landings are 3.48 million lb (1,580.39 mt). The Council and Commission’s recommended measures for the 2012 scup recreational fishery are for a 10.5-in (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a 20-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of January 1 through December 31. NMFS proposes to implement the recommended scup recreational management measures for 2012 in Federal waters. NMFS acknowledges that the Commission has indicated its intent to continue managing the recreational scup fishery through a Commission-based conservation equivalency program that has no comparable measures in the Federal FMP. Thus, recreational PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 management measures will differ between state and Federal waters in 2012. Historically, very little of the scup recreational harvest comes from the Federal waters of the EEZ. The scup recreational harvest from Federal waters for 2010 was approximately 4 percent of the total coastwide landings. Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures The 2012 black sea bass recreational harvest limit is 1.32 million lb (599 mt), as published in interim final rule (December 30, 2011; 76 FR 82189). The 2011 black sea bass recreational landings were 1.09 million lb (494 mt); however, at the time the Council and Commission were making recommendations for the 2012 recreational black sea bass fishery, the 2011 landings were estimated to be 0.99 million lb (449 mt). The Council has recommended measures designed to allow for an increase in black sea bass recreational landings (from the estimated 0.99 million lb to the allowable 1.32 million lb). These measures for Federal waters are a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 15-fish per person possession limit for an open season of January 1 through February 28; and a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 25-fish per person possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 14 and November 1 through December 31. The Commission is developing conservation equivalency measures for state waters based on the original 2011 landings, which would have allowed for an increase in landings and more flexibility. NMFS is proposing to implement the aforementioned Councilrecommended measures for Federal waters while the Commission’s process for determining state waters conservation equivalency proceeds. However, it may be necessary to maintain the status quo measures (12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size, 25-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of May 22 through October 11 and November 1 through December 31), if the proposed Council recommended measures and the Commission’s state waters conservation equivalency measures are likely to result in the recreational harvest limit being exceeded. If the timing of this Commission process is complete, including the necessary correspondence to NMFS and the Council, before a final rule has been issued by NMFS for the 2011 recreational management measures, NMFS may implement the Council’s recommended measures for Federal E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS waters. The decision to implement the Council’s recommended measures for Federal waters will be contingent on the as of yet to be completed analyses and recommendation from the Commission, and any such decision would be relayed in the final rule published in the Federal Register. If the Commission conservation equivalency development process extends beyond the issuance of a recreational management measures final rule, NMFS may issue a second rule to implement the Council’s recommended 2012 measures for Federal waters, pending the completion of the Commission process and concurrence by NMFS that the combination of state waters conservation equivalency and the Council’s recommended measures will achieve the desired 2012 fishery performance. Should NMFS ultimately determine that the Commission’s conservation equivalency measures for use in state waters for the 2012 fishery and the Council’s recommended measures would likely result in the recreational harvest limit being exceeded, then Federal status quo measures would remain for the duration of the 2012 fishing year: A 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size, 25-fish possession limit, and May 22 through October 14 and November 1 through December 31 open seasons. The proposed January 1 through February 29 open season has already passed, but would roll-over into fishing year 2013, if approved in the final rule. However, because the fishing year 2013 recreational harvest limit is unknown, it is not possible to determine the impact that this additional fishing opportunity would have on keeping the fishery within the 2013 recreational harvest limit. As such, if this additional season is approved and implemented in the final rule for the 2012 recreational harvest measures, NMFS may reevaluate the open season during the 2013 specifications process. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. In order to ensure that any final rule can be published as soon as possible, NMFS is requesting that comments for this proposed rule be submitted within 15 days. This will allow interested parties adequate opportunity to comment while ensuring that NMFS can publish a final VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 rule in a timely manner in an attempt to avoid a delay in the opening of the fishing season, should the proposed black sea bass fishing season be approved. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Council prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is included in the Supplemental EA and supplemented by information contained in the preamble to this proposed rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section of the preamble and in the SUMMARY of this proposed rule. A summary of the IRFA follows. A copy of this analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). All of the entities (charter/party permitted fishing vessels) affected by this action are considered small entities under the Small Business Administration size standards for businesses in the recreational fishery with gross revenues of up to $7.0 million. Therefore, there are no disproportionate effects on small versus large entities. Information on costs in the fishery is not readily available and individual vessel profitability cannot be determined directly; therefore, expected changes in gross revenues were used as a proxy for profitability. This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply The proposed recreational management measures could affect any recreational angler who fishes for summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass in the EEZ or on a party/charter vessel issued a Federal permit for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass. However, the only regulated entities affected by this action are party/ charter vessels issued a Federal permit for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass, and so the IRFA focuses upon the expected impacts on this segment of the affected public. These vessels are all considered small entities for the purposes of the RFA, i.e., businesses in the recreational fishery with gross revenues of up to $7.0 million. These small entities can be specifically PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 25397 identified in the Federal vessel permit database and would be impacted by the recreational measures, regardless of whether they fish in Federal or state waters. Although fishing opportunities by individual recreational anglers may be impacted by this action, they are not considered small entities under the RFA. The Council estimated that the proposed measures could affect any of the 902 vessels possessing a Federal charter/party permit for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass in 2010, the most recent year for which complete permit data are available. However, only 355 vessels reported active participation in the 2010 recreational summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass fisheries. Economic Impacts of the Proposed Action Compared to Significant NonSelected Alternatives In the IRFA, the no-action alternative (i.e., maintenance of the regulations as codified) is: (1) For summer flounder, coastwide measures of a 18-inch (45.72cm) minimum fish size, a 2-fish possession limit, and an open season from May 1 through September 30; (2) for scup, a 10.5-inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a 10-fish possession limit, and an open season of June 6 through September 26; and (3) for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum size, a 25-fish possession limit, and open seasons of May 22 through October 11 and November 1 through December 31. The status quo alternative is: (1) For summer flounder, conservation equivalency, with precautionary default measures of a 20-inch (50.8-cm) minimum fish size, a 2-fish possession limit, and an open season of May 1 through September 30; (2) for scup and black sea bass, the same as the no action alternative. The proposed alternative is: (1) For summer flounder, the same as the status quo alternative; (2) for scup, a 10.5-inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a 10-fish possession limit, and an open season of January 1 through December 31; and (3) for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 15fish possession limit for an open season of January 1 through February 28, and a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 25-fish possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 14 and November 1 through December 31. The impacts of the alternatives on small entities (i.e., federally permitted party/charter vessels in each state in the Northeast region) were analyzed, assessing potential changes in gross revenues for all 18 combinations of E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1 srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 25398 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules alternatives proposed. Although NMFS’s RFA guidance recommends assessing changes in profitability as a result of proposed measures, the quantitative impacts were instead evaluated using expected changes in party/charter vessel revenues as a proxy for profitability. This is because reliable cost and revenue information is not available for charter/party vessels at this time. Without reliable cost and revenue data, profits cannot be discriminated from gross revenues. As reliable cost data become available, impacts to profitability can be more accurately forecast. Similarly, changes to long-term solvency were not assessed, due both to the absence of cost data and because the recreational management measures change annually according to the specification-setting process. Effects of the various management measures were analyzed by employing quantitative approaches, to the extent possible. Where quantitative data were not available, qualitative analyses were utilized. Because the proposed action is less restrictive than the other alternatives considered and provides the most opportunity for recreational fishing, the affected regulated entities are expected to be able to maximize fishery-related revenue under the preferred alternative relative to the non-preferred alternatives. The preferred alternative for scup would open the fishing season from June 6–September 26 to all year, and the preferred alternative for black sea bass would increase the summer season from May 22–October 11 to May 19–October 14, plus provide for a two month season in January–February 2013. For summer flounder, the preferred alternative for conservation equivalency is expected to increase fishing opportunities because, under the Commission’s plan, all states but one (Delaware) are authorized to increase landings in 2012. The Council and NMFS did not consider any alternatives that would provide additional fishing opportunities because any such alternative would increase the risk of the fishery exceeding the recreational harvest limit, which could result in overfishing the stock and/or exceeding the annual catch limit. This would be contrary to the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained in any of the alternatives considered for this action. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 Dated: April 25, 2012. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.107, paragraph (a) introductory text and paragraph (b) are revised to read as follows: § 648.107 Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder party/ charter and recreational fishery. (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational fishing measures proposed to be implemented by Massachusetts through North Carolina for 2012 are the conservation equivalent of the season, minimum fish size, and possession limit prescribed in §§ 648.105, 648.104(b), and 648.106(a), respectively. This determination is based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. * * * * * (b) Federally permitted vessels subject to the recreational fishing measures of this part, and other recreational fishing vessels subject to the recreational fishing measures of this part and registered in states whose fishery management measures are not determined by the Regional Administrator to be the conservation equivalent of the season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in §§ 648.105, 648.104(b) and 648.106(a), respectively, due to the lack of, or the reversal of, a conservation equivalent recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, shall be subject to the following precautionary default measures: Season—May 1 through September 30; minimum size— 20.0 inches (50.80 cm); and possession limit—two fish. 3. Section 648.127 is revised to read as follows: § 648.127 season. Scup recreational fishing Fishermen and vessels that are not eligible for a moratorium permit under § 648.4(a)(6), may possess scup yearround, subject to the possession limit specified in § 648.128(a). The recreational fishing season may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in § 648.122. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4. In § 648.128, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows: § 648.128 Scup possession restrictions. (a) Party/Charter and recreational possession limits. No person shall possess more than 20 scup in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a scup moratorium permit, or is issued a scup dealer permit. Persons aboard a commercial vessel that is not eligible for a scup moratorium permit are subject to this possession limit. The owner, operator, and crew of a charter or party boat issued a scup moratorium permit are subject to the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or when carrying more than five crew members for a party boat, or more than three crew members for a charter boat. This possession limit may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in § 648.122. * * * * * 5. In § 648.145, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows: § 648.145 Black sea bass possession limit. (a) From January 1 through February 29, no person shall possess more than 15 black sea bass in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a black sea bass moratorium permit, or is issued a black sea bass dealer permit. From May 19 through October 14, and from November 1 through December 31, no person shall possess more than 25 black sea bass in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a black sea bass moratorium permit, or is issued a black sea bass dealer permit. Persons aboard a commercial vessel that is not eligible for a black sea bass moratorium permit may not retain more than 15 black sea bass from January 1 through February 29, or more than 25 black sea bass from May 19 through October 14 and from November 1 through December 31. The owner, operator, and crew of a charter or party boat issued a black sea bass moratorium permit are subject to the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or when carrying more than five crew members for a party boat, or more than three crew members for a charter boat. This possession limit may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in § 648.142. * * * * * 6. Section 648.146 is revised to read as follows: § 648.146 Black sea bass recreational fishing season. Vessels that are not eligible for a moratorium permit under § 648.4(a)(7), E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Proposed Rules and fishermen subject to the possession limit specified in § 648.145(a), may possess black sea bass from January 1 through February 28, May 19 through October 14, and November 1 through December 31, unless this time period is adjusted pursuant to the procedures in § 648.142. [FR Doc. 2012–10358 Filed 4–25–12; 4:15 pm] srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:34 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 25399 E:\FR\FM\30APP1.SGM 30APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 83 (Monday, April 30, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 25394-25399]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10358]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120321208-2010-01]
RIN 0648-BC07


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational 
Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
Fisheries; Fishing Year 2012

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes management measures for the 2012 summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries. The 
implementing regulations for these fisheries require NMFS to publish 
recreational measures for the fishing year and to provide an 
opportunity for public comment. The intent of these measures is to 
prevent overfishing of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass 
resources.

DATES: Comments must be received by 5 p.m. local time, on May 15, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0081, 
by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking 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-
0081 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) 281-9135, Attn: Comments on 2012 Proposed 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Recreational Measures, NOAA-
NMFS-2012-0081.
     Mail and Hand Delivery: Daniel S. Morris, Acting Regional 
Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: 
``Comments on 2012 FSB Recreational Measures.''
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are part of the public 
record and will generally be posted 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.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to 
electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF 
file formats only.
    Copies of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (SEA/IRFA) and other supporting 
documents for the recreational harvest measures, are available from Dr. 
Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. 
The recreational harvest measures document is also accessible via the 
Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

[[Page 25395]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9218.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

General Background

    The summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are managed 
cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and 
Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-
Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States 
Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission), in consultation with the New 
England and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. The management 
units specified in the FMP include summer flounder (Paralichthys 
dentatus) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the southern border 
of North Carolina (NC) northward to the U.S./Canada border, and scup 
(Stenotomus chrysops) and black sea bass (Centropristis striata) in 
U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from 35 E. 13.3' N. lat. (the 
latitude of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, NC) northward to the 
U.S./Canada border.
    The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 
16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 
CFR part 648, subparts A (general provisions), G (summer flounder), H 
(scup), and I (black sea bass). General regulations governing fisheries 
of the Northeastern U.S. also appear at 50 CFR part 648. States manage 
these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, 
under the Commission's plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea 
bass. The applicable species-specific Federal regulations govern 
vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer 
flounder, scup, or black sea bass Federal charter/party vessel permit, 
regardless of where they fish.

Recreational Management Measures Background

    The Council process for devising recreational management measures 
to recommend to NMFS for rulemaking is generically described in the 
following section. All meetings are open to the public and the 
materials utilized during such meetings, as well as any documents 
created to summarize the meeting results, are public information and 
typically posted on the Council's Web site (www.mafmc.org) or are 
available from the Council by request. Extensive background on the 2012 
recreational management measures recommendation process is therefore 
not repeated in this preamble.
    The FMP established monitoring committees for the three fisheries, 
consisting of representatives from the Commission, the Council, state 
marine fishery agency representatives from MA to NC, and NMFS. The 
FMP's implementing regulations require the monitoring committees to 
review scientific and other relevant information annually and to 
recommend management measures necessary to constrain landings within 
the recreational harvest limits established for the summer flounder, 
scup, and black sea bass fisheries for the upcoming fishing year. The 
FMP limits the choices for the types of measures to minimum fish size, 
possession limit, and fishing season.
    The Council's Demersal Species Committee and the Commission's 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board (Board) then 
consider the monitoring committees' recommendations and any public 
comment in making their recommendations to the Council and the 
Commission, respectively. The Council reviews the recommendations of 
the Demersal Species Committee, makes its own recommendations, and 
forwards them to NMFS for review. The Commission similarly adopts 
recommendations for the states. NMFS is required to review the 
Council's recommendations to ensure that they are consistent with the 
targets specified for each species in the FMP and all applicable laws 
and Executive Orders before ultimately implementing measures for 
Federal waters.
    All minimum fish sizes discussed hereafter are total length 
measurements of the fish, i.e., the straight-line distance from the tip 
of the snout to the end of the tail while the fish is lying on its 
side. For black sea bass, total length measurement does not include the 
caudal fin tendril. All possession limits discussed below are per 
person.

Proposed 2012 Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is proposing the following measures that would apply in the 
Federal waters of the EEZ and to all federally permitted party/charter 
vessels with applicable summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass 
permits regardless of where they fish for the 2012 recreational summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries: For summer flounder, use 
of state-by-state conservation equivalency measures, which are the 
status quo measures; for scup, a 10.5-inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish 
size, a 20-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of 
January 1 through December 31; and, for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch 
(31.71-cm) minimum fish size, a 15-fish per person possession limit for 
a January 1 through February 29 open season, and a 25-fish per person 
possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 14 and 
November 1 through December 31. NMFS will consider retaining or 
reinstating status quo black sea bass measures, as needed, for Federal 
waters (i.e., a 12.5-in (31.75-cm) minimum fish size, a 25-fish per 
person possession limit, and fishing seasons from May 22-October 11 and 
November 1-December 31) if the Commission develops and implements a 
state-waters conservation equivalency system that, when paired with the 
Council's recommended measures, does not provide the necessary 
conservation to ensure the 2012 recreational harvest limit will not be 
exceeded. More detail on these proposed measures is provided in the 
following sections.

Summer Flounder Recreational Management Measures

    The 2012 recreational harvest limit for summer flounder is 8.76 
million lb (3,973 mt), as published in interim final rule (76 FR 82189, 
December 30, 2011). Final landings for 2011 are approximately 5.6 
million lb (2,541.57 mt), well below the recreational harvest limit. 
The Council and Commission have recommended the use of conservation 
equivalency to manage the 2012 summer flounder recreational fishery.
    NMFS implemented Framework Adjustment 2 to the FMP on July 29, 2001 
(66 FR 36208), to permit the use of conservation equivalency to manage 
the recreational summer flounder fishery. Conservation equivalency 
allows each state to establish its own recreational management measures 
(possession limits, minimum fish size, and fishing seasons) to achieve 
its state harvest limit partitioned by the Commission from the 
coastwide recreational harvest limit, as long as the combined effect of 
all of the states' management measures achieves the same level of 
conservation as would Federal coastwide measures.
    The Council and Board annually recommend that either state- or 
region-specific recreational measures be developed (conservation 
equivalency) or coastwide management measures be implemented by all 
states to ensure that the recreational harvest limit will not be 
exceeded. Even when the Council and Board recommend conservation 
equivalency, the Council must specify a

[[Page 25396]]

set of coastwide measures that would apply if conservation equivalency 
is not approved for use in Federal waters.
    When conservation equivalency is recommended, and following 
confirmation that the proposed state measures developed through the 
Commission's technical and policy review processes achieve conservation 
equivalency, NMFS may waive the permit condition found at Sec.  
648.4(b), which requires Federal permit holders to comply with the more 
restrictive management measures when state and Federal measures differ. 
In such a situation, federally permitted summer flounder charter/party 
permit holders and individuals fishing for summer flounder in the EEZ 
would then be subject to the recreational fishing measures implemented 
by the state in which they land summer flounder, rather than the 
coastwide measures.
    In addition, the Council and the Board must recommend precautionary 
default measures when recommending conservation equivalency. The 
Commission would require adoption of the precautionary default measures 
by any state that either does not submit a summer flounder management 
proposal to the Commission's Summer Flounder Technical Committee, or 
that submits measures that would exceed the Commission-specified 
harvest limit for that state.
    Much of the conservation equivalency measures development process 
happens at both the Commission and individual state level. The 
selection of appropriate data and analytic techniques for technical 
review of potential state conservation equivalent measures and the 
process by which the Commission evaluates and recommends proposed 
conservation equivalent measures is wholly a function of the Commission 
and its individual member states. Individuals seeking information 
regarding the process to develop specific state measure or the 
Commission process for technical evaluation of proposed measures should 
contact the marine fisheries agency in the state of interest, the 
Commission, or both.
    Once states select their final 2012 summer flounder management 
measures through their respective development, analytical, and review 
processes and submit them to the Commission, the Commission will 
conduct further review and evaluation of the state-submitted proposals, 
ultimately notifying NMFS as to which individual state proposals have 
been approved or disapproved. NMFS has no overarching authority in the 
state or Commission management measure development, but is an equal 
participant along with all the member states in the measures review 
process. NMFS retains the final authority either to approve or to 
disapprove the use of conservation equivalency in place of the 
coastwide measures in Federal waters, and will publish its 
determination as a final rule in the Federal Register to establish the 
2012 recreational measures for these fisheries.
    States that do not submit conservation equivalency proposals, or 
whose proposals are disapproved by the Commission, will be required by 
the Commission to adopt the precautionary default measures. In the case 
of states that are initially assigned precautionary default measures, 
but subsequently receive Commission approval of revised state measures, 
NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a waiver 
of the permit condition at Sec.  648.4(b).
    The 2012 precautionary default measures recommended by the Council 
and Board are for a 20.0-inch (50.80-cm) minimum fish size, a 
possession limit of two fish, and an open season of May 1 through 
September 30, 2012.
    In this action, NMFS proposes to implement conservation equivalency 
with a precautionary default backstop, as previously outlined, for 
states that either fail to submit conservation equivalent measures or 
whose measures are not approved by the Commission. NMFS proposes the 
alternative of coastwide measures, as previously described, for use if 
conservation equivalency is not approved in the final rule. The 
coastwide measures would be waived if conservation equivalency is 
approved in the final rule.

Scup Recreational Management Measures

    The 2012 scup recreational harvest limit is 8.45 million lb (3,833 
mt), as published in interim final rule (December 30, 2011; 76 FR 
82189). Estimated 2011 scup recreational landings are 3.48 million lb 
(1,580.39 mt). The Council and Commission's recommended measures for 
the 2012 scup recreational fishery are for a 10.5-in (26.67-cm) minimum 
fish size, a 20-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of 
January 1 through December 31. NMFS proposes to implement the 
recommended scup recreational management measures for 2012 in Federal 
waters.
    NMFS acknowledges that the Commission has indicated its intent to 
continue managing the recreational scup fishery through a Commission-
based conservation equivalency program that has no comparable measures 
in the Federal FMP. Thus, recreational management measures will differ 
between state and Federal waters in 2012. Historically, very little of 
the scup recreational harvest comes from the Federal waters of the EEZ. 
The scup recreational harvest from Federal waters for 2010 was 
approximately 4 percent of the total coastwide landings.

Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures

    The 2012 black sea bass recreational harvest limit is 1.32 million 
lb (599 mt), as published in interim final rule (December 30, 2011; 76 
FR 82189). The 2011 black sea bass recreational landings were 1.09 
million lb (494 mt); however, at the time the Council and Commission 
were making recommendations for the 2012 recreational black sea bass 
fishery, the 2011 landings were estimated to be 0.99 million lb (449 
mt).
    The Council has recommended measures designed to allow for an 
increase in black sea bass recreational landings (from the estimated 
0.99 million lb to the allowable 1.32 million lb). These measures for 
Federal waters are a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 15-
fish per person possession limit for an open season of January 1 
through February 28; and a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and a 
25-fish per person possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through 
October 14 and November 1 through December 31.
    The Commission is developing conservation equivalency measures for 
state waters based on the original 2011 landings, which would have 
allowed for an increase in landings and more flexibility. NMFS is 
proposing to implement the aforementioned Council-recommended measures 
for Federal waters while the Commission's process for determining state 
waters conservation equivalency proceeds. However, it may be necessary 
to maintain the status quo measures (12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish 
size, 25-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of May 22 
through October 11 and November 1 through December 31), if the proposed 
Council recommended measures and the Commission's state waters 
conservation equivalency measures are likely to result in the 
recreational harvest limit being exceeded.
    If the timing of this Commission process is complete, including the 
necessary correspondence to NMFS and the Council, before a final rule 
has been issued by NMFS for the 2011 recreational management measures, 
NMFS may implement the Council's recommended measures for Federal

[[Page 25397]]

waters. The decision to implement the Council's recommended measures 
for Federal waters will be contingent on the as of yet to be completed 
analyses and recommendation from the Commission, and any such decision 
would be relayed in the final rule published in the Federal Register. 
If the Commission conservation equivalency development process extends 
beyond the issuance of a recreational management measures final rule, 
NMFS may issue a second rule to implement the Council's recommended 
2012 measures for Federal waters, pending the completion of the 
Commission process and concurrence by NMFS that the combination of 
state waters conservation equivalency and the Council's recommended 
measures will achieve the desired 2012 fishery performance. Should NMFS 
ultimately determine that the Commission's conservation equivalency 
measures for use in state waters for the 2012 fishery and the Council's 
recommended measures would likely result in the recreational harvest 
limit being exceeded, then Federal status quo measures would remain for 
the duration of the 2012 fishing year: A 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum 
fish size, 25-fish possession limit, and May 22 through October 14 and 
November 1 through December 31 open seasons.
    The proposed January 1 through February 29 open season has already 
passed, but would roll-over into fishing year 2013, if approved in the 
final rule. However, because the fishing year 2013 recreational harvest 
limit is unknown, it is not possible to determine the impact that this 
additional fishing opportunity would have on keeping the fishery within 
the 2013 recreational harvest limit. As such, if this additional season 
is approved and implemented in the final rule for the 2012 recreational 
harvest measures, NMFS may re-evaluate the open season during the 2013 
specifications process.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment. In order to 
ensure that any final rule can be published as soon as possible, NMFS 
is requesting that comments for this proposed rule be submitted within 
15 days. This will allow interested parties adequate opportunity to 
comment while ensuring that NMFS can publish a final rule in a timely 
manner in an attempt to avoid a delay in the opening of the fishing 
season, should the proposed black sea bass fishing season be approved.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Council prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is included in the Supplemental 
EA and supplemented by information contained in the preamble to this 
proposed rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed 
rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the 
action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action 
are contained at the beginning of this section of the preamble and in 
the SUMMARY of this proposed rule. A summary of the IRFA follows. A 
copy of this analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    All of the entities (charter/party permitted fishing vessels) 
affected by this action are considered small entities under the Small 
Business Administration size standards for businesses in the 
recreational fishery with gross revenues of up to $7.0 million. 
Therefore, there are no disproportionate effects on small versus large 
entities. Information on costs in the fishery is not readily available 
and individual vessel profitability cannot be determined directly; 
therefore, expected changes in gross revenues were used as a proxy for 
profitability.
    This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Would Apply

    The proposed recreational management measures could affect any 
recreational angler who fishes for summer flounder, scup, or black sea 
bass in the EEZ or on a party/charter vessel issued a Federal permit 
for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass. However, the only 
regulated entities affected by this action are party/charter vessels 
issued a Federal permit for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea 
bass, and so the IRFA focuses upon the expected impacts on this segment 
of the affected public. These vessels are all considered small entities 
for the purposes of the RFA, i.e., businesses in the recreational 
fishery with gross revenues of up to $7.0 million. These small entities 
can be specifically identified in the Federal vessel permit database 
and would be impacted by the recreational measures, regardless of 
whether they fish in Federal or state waters. Although fishing 
opportunities by individual recreational anglers may be impacted by 
this action, they are not considered small entities under the RFA.
    The Council estimated that the proposed measures could affect any 
of the 902 vessels possessing a Federal charter/party permit for summer 
flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass in 2010, the most recent year for 
which complete permit data are available. However, only 355 vessels 
reported active participation in the 2010 recreational summer flounder, 
scup, and/or black sea bass fisheries.

Economic Impacts of the Proposed Action Compared to Significant Non-
Selected Alternatives

    In the IRFA, the no-action alternative (i.e., maintenance of the 
regulations as codified) is: (1) For summer flounder, coastwide 
measures of a 18-inch (45.72-cm) minimum fish size, a 2-fish possession 
limit, and an open season from May 1 through September 30; (2) for 
scup, a 10.5-inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a 10-fish possession 
limit, and an open season of June 6 through September 26; and (3) for 
black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum size, a 25-fish 
possession limit, and open seasons of May 22 through October 11 and 
November 1 through December 31. The status quo alternative is: (1) For 
summer flounder, conservation equivalency, with precautionary default 
measures of a 20-inch (50.8-cm) minimum fish size, a 2-fish possession 
limit, and an open season of May 1 through September 30; (2) for scup 
and black sea bass, the same as the no action alternative. The proposed 
alternative is: (1) For summer flounder, the same as the status quo 
alternative; (2) for scup, a 10.5-inch (26.67-cm) minimum fish size, a 
10-fish possession limit, and an open season of January 1 through 
December 31; and (3) for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum 
fish size and a 15-fish possession limit for an open season of January 
1 through February 28, and a 12.5-inch (31.75-cm) minimum fish size and 
a 25-fish possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 
14 and November 1 through December 31.
    The impacts of the alternatives on small entities (i.e., federally 
permitted party/charter vessels in each state in the Northeast region) 
were analyzed, assessing potential changes in gross revenues for all 18 
combinations of

[[Page 25398]]

alternatives proposed. Although NMFS's RFA guidance recommends 
assessing changes in profitability as a result of proposed measures, 
the quantitative impacts were instead evaluated using expected changes 
in party/charter vessel revenues as a proxy for profitability. This is 
because reliable cost and revenue information is not available for 
charter/party vessels at this time. Without reliable cost and revenue 
data, profits cannot be discriminated from gross revenues. As reliable 
cost data become available, impacts to profitability can be more 
accurately forecast. Similarly, changes to long-term solvency were not 
assessed, due both to the absence of cost data and because the 
recreational management measures change annually according to the 
specification-setting process. Effects of the various management 
measures were analyzed by employing quantitative approaches, to the 
extent possible. Where quantitative data were not available, 
qualitative analyses were utilized.
    Because the proposed action is less restrictive than the other 
alternatives considered and provides the most opportunity for 
recreational fishing, the affected regulated entities are expected to 
be able to maximize fishery-related revenue under the preferred 
alternative relative to the non-preferred alternatives. The preferred 
alternative for scup would open the fishing season from June 6-
September 26 to all year, and the preferred alternative for black sea 
bass would increase the summer season from May 22-October 11 to May 19-
October 14, plus provide for a two month season in January-February 
2013. For summer flounder, the preferred alternative for conservation 
equivalency is expected to increase fishing opportunities because, 
under the Commission's plan, all states but one (Delaware) are 
authorized to increase landings in 2012. The Council and NMFS did not 
consider any alternatives that would provide additional fishing 
opportunities because any such alternative would increase the risk of 
the fishery exceeding the recreational harvest limit, which could 
result in overfishing the stock and/or exceeding the annual catch 
limit. This would be contrary to the goals and objectives of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained 
in any of the alternatives considered for this action.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: April 25, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

    1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. In Sec.  648.107, paragraph (a) introductory text and paragraph 
(b) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.107  Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder 
party/charter and recreational fishery.

    (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational 
fishing measures proposed to be implemented by Massachusetts through 
North Carolina for 2012 are the conservation equivalent of the season, 
minimum fish size, and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  
648.105, 648.104(b), and 648.106(a), respectively. This determination 
is based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
* * * * *
    (b) Federally permitted vessels subject to the recreational fishing 
measures of this part, and other recreational fishing vessels subject 
to the recreational fishing measures of this part and registered in 
states whose fishery management measures are not determined by the 
Regional Administrator to be the conservation equivalent of the season, 
minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  648.105, 
648.104(b) and 648.106(a), respectively, due to the lack of, or the 
reversal of, a conservation equivalent recommendation from the Summer 
Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 
shall be subject to the following precautionary default measures: 
Season--May 1 through September 30; minimum size--20.0 inches (50.80 
cm); and possession limit--two fish.
    3. Section 648.127 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.127  Scup recreational fishing season.

    Fishermen and vessels that are not eligible for a moratorium permit 
under Sec.  648.4(a)(6), may possess scup year-round, subject to the 
possession limit specified in Sec.  648.128(a). The recreational 
fishing season may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  
648.122.
    4. In Sec.  648.128, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.128  Scup possession restrictions.

    (a) Party/Charter and recreational possession limits. No person 
shall possess more than 20 scup in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless 
that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a scup 
moratorium permit, or is issued a scup dealer permit. Persons aboard a 
commercial vessel that is not eligible for a scup moratorium permit are 
subject to this possession limit. The owner, operator, and crew of a 
charter or party boat issued a scup moratorium permit are subject to 
the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or when carrying 
more than five crew members for a party boat, or more than three crew 
members for a charter boat. This possession limit may be adjusted 
pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  648.122.
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  648.145, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.145  Black sea bass possession limit.

    (a) From January 1 through February 29, no person shall possess 
more than 15 black sea bass in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless that 
person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a black sea 
bass moratorium permit, or is issued a black sea bass dealer permit. 
From May 19 through October 14, and from November 1 through December 
31, no person shall possess more than 25 black sea bass in, or 
harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of 
a fishing vessel issued a black sea bass moratorium permit, or is 
issued a black sea bass dealer permit. Persons aboard a commercial 
vessel that is not eligible for a black sea bass moratorium permit may 
not retain more than 15 black sea bass from January 1 through February 
29, or more than 25 black sea bass from May 19 through October 14 and 
from November 1 through December 31. The owner, operator, and crew of a 
charter or party boat issued a black sea bass moratorium permit are 
subject to the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or 
when carrying more than five crew members for a party boat, or more 
than three crew members for a charter boat. This possession limit may 
be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  648.142.
* * * * *
    6. Section 648.146 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.146  Black sea bass recreational fishing season.

    Vessels that are not eligible for a moratorium permit under Sec.  
648.4(a)(7),

[[Page 25399]]

and fishermen subject to the possession limit specified in Sec.  
648.145(a), may possess black sea bass from January 1 through February 
28, May 19 through October 14, and November 1 through December 31, 
unless this time period is adjusted pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  
648.142.

[FR Doc. 2012-10358 Filed 4-25-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P