Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 24, 34254-34260 [2012-14137]

Download as PDF 34254 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations conference, or computer-based means. The Arbitration Agreement should also allow the arbitrator discretion to call for an in-person hearing should the arbitrator determine that credibility may be a factor in the proceeding. The arbitrator may also conduct, with the consent of the parties, all or part of a hearing by telephone, video conferencing, or computer, so long as each party has an equal opportunity to participate. Issue 19: May an arbitration award be used as a precedent in any other proceeding? Response: No. The arbitration award may not be used as precedent consistent with 5 U.S.C. § 580(d). Nonetheless, by entering into arbitration, the carrier has admitted, or the Assistant Administrator has found that the carrier has admitted, violating the regulation(s) as charged in the Notice of Claim. These violation(s) may be considered in future enforcement actions by FMCSA. Appendix A Sample Agreement to Submit to Binding Arbitration Section One—Parties and Controversy The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and llllllll (‘‘Carrier’’) (collectively the ‘‘Parties’’) voluntarily agree to submit the following controversy arising from violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, the Hazardous Materials Regulations, and/or the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations to binding arbitration: (briefly describe the controversy). Section Two—Assignment of Arbitrator We agree upon llllllll as the Arbitrator. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Section Three—Issues of Arbitration We agree that the Arbitration shall be limited to the following issues of fact and law: (Set forth each issue with specificity including the question of whether a payment plan is appropriate). Section Four—Costs of Arbitration ll We agree to pay the Arbitrator a fee of $ ll (‘‘the Fee’’) for services as an arbitrator. The Fee is based on the issues specified in Section Three above. We agree to reimburse the Arbitrator for all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses that the Arbitrator may incur for the arbitration. These expenses include, but are not limited to: Travel, lodging, and meals (consistent with Federal per diem standards), longdistance charges, printing and copying, postage and courier fees. There is no cost if the parties choose a Civilian Board of Contract Appeals Judge or an Uncompensated Neutral as the arbitrator. Section Five—Minimum and Maximum Award We agree that the maximum award shall be (the amount demanded in the Notice of VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 Claim). This amount is a total of the penalties for each of the individual violations as follows: We also agree that the minimum award for violations will be those set forth in the statute or regulations. Section Six—Management of the Proceeding We further agree that the arbitration proceeding will be conducted in accordance with procedures established in 49 CFR part 386 for hearings. Additional rules and procedures for the arbitration may be negotiated and agreed upon by the Arbitrator and the Parties at any time during the arbitration process. We further agree that we will faithfully observe this Agreement and the applicable procedural rules and we will abide by any award rendered by the Arbitrator. llllll (‘‘Carrier’’) will pay to the Field Administrator the award determined by the Arbitrator. We agree that the Arbitrator will assume control of the process and will schedule all events as expeditiously as possible, to ensure that an award is issued no later than ll days from the date of this Agreement. The penalty, if any, will be due to FMCSA 30 days after service of the Arbitration Award by the Arbitrator unless the Arbitrator orders a payment plan. Consistent with the Rules of Practice for Motor Carrier, Intermodal Equipment Provider, Broker, Freight Forwarder, and Hazardous Materials Proceedings, 49 CFR part 386, Carriers may be represented by a representative of their choice, including nonlawyers. Representatives and FMCSA counsel shall be responsive to the direction provided by the Arbitrator. We understand that neither party shall initiate or participate in ex parte communication with the Arbitrator relevant to the merits of the proceeding, unless the parties agree. If a party or its representative engages in an unauthorized ex parte communication, the Arbitrator may resolve the case against the offending party. Before taking that action, however, the Arbitrator must allow the offending party to show cause why the issue in controversy should not be resolved against it for improper conduct. Section Seven—Arbitrator’s Award We agree that the Arbitrator’s decision will be issued in writing and will state the legal and factual bases and amount of the penalty awarded by the Arbitrator. We further agree that the arbitration award is final and has the same force and effect as any final agency order. We understand that there is no appeal to the Assistant Administrator of the Arbitrator’s award. Thus, failure to pay the determined award triggers the same Agency remedies as would the failure to pay a civil penalty award entered by the Assistant Administrator. Section Eight—Confidentiality of the Proceeding We agree that the arbitration proceeding is not a public forum and will be restricted to the Parties, their representatives, and the Arbitrator. We acknowledge and agree that 5 U.S.C. 574 controls the confidentiality of the proceeding, and that neither the Arbitration PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Agreement nor the arbitration award may be considered confidential. Section Nine—Judicial Review ll The award shall be reviewable only under provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 581 and 9 U.S.C. §§ 9–13. Section Ten—Governing Law ll This Agreement is entered into consistent with 5 U.S.C. § 571 et seq., and we agree that Federal law shall govern this Arbitration. The Arbitrator shall apply relevant statutory and regulatory requirements, legal precedents, and policy directives. [FR Doc. 2012–14087 Filed 6–8–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 101202599–2122–02] RIN 0648–BA52 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 24 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 24 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule establishes red grouper commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs); establishes red grouper sector accountability measures (AMs); and removes the combined gag, black grouper, and red grouper commercial quota, and commercial and recreational sector ACLs and AMs. The intent of this final rule is to specify ACLs and AMs for red grouper while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the red grouper resource. Additionally, Amendment 24 implements a rebuilding plan for red grouper in the South Atlantic. DATES: This rule is effective July 11, 2012. SUMMARY: Electronic copies of Amendment 24, which includes an environmental assessment, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/ SGAmend24_121411.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick DeVictor, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On February 27, 2012, NMFS published a notice of availability for Amendment 24 and requested public comment (77 FR 11477). On March 30, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 24 and requested public comment (77 FR 19169). The proposed rule and Amendment 24 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by this final rule is provided below. This final rule removes the gag, black grouper, and red grouper combined commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs, and specifies the ACLs and AMs for red grouper. This final rule implements in-season commercial and recreational sector AMs for red grouper, as well as post-season overage adjustments. In addition to the actions contained in this final rule, specific to red grouper, Amendment 24 implements a 10-year rebuilding plan, specifies the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and OY values, revises the definition of minimum stock size threshold (MSST) to be 75 percent of the spawning stock biomass when fishing at the MSY level, specifies commercial and recreational allocations, and establishes a recreational sector annual catch target (ACT). The intent of Amendment 24 and this final rule is to specify ACLs and AMs for red grouper while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving OY for the red grouper resource. Comments and Responses A total of nine comments were received on Amendment 24 and the proposed rule. One commenter submitted identical comments on Amendment 24 and the proposed rule. One Federal agency stated that they had no comment on Amendment 24. NMFS received one comment of general support and six individual comments opposing one or more of the actions contained in Amendment 24 and the proposed rule. Specific comments VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 related to the actions contained in Amendment 24 and the proposed rule, as well as NMFS’ respective responses, are summarized below. Comment 1: The restrictions on red grouper harvest in Amendment 24 are not necessary because a 4-month closure for shallow-water groupers is currently in place. In addition, the MagnusonStevens Act requirement that the Council prepare and implement a plan amendment to rebuild red grouper should not apply because the 4-month closure, implemented through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 29, 2009), was not considered in the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) SEDAR 19 stock assessment. Response: The most recent South Atlantic red grouper stock assessment, SEDAR 19, was completed in 2010 and used data available through 2008. Therefore, SEDAR 19 did not consider impacts of the 4-month prohibition on the harvest, landing, and possession of shallow-water groupers (gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, and tiger grouper) implemented in 2009 through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 29, 2009). However, SEDAR 19 determined that red grouper was overfished and undergoing overfishing, and NMFS notified the Council of the red grouper stock status on June 9, 2010. The Council is required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to implement a rebuilding plan within 2 years after notification of an overfished stock. NMFS and the Council must schedule stock assessments several years in advance to allow time for the needed data to be compiled for use by stock assessment scientists. The effect of the 4-month closure and other recent measures implemented to improve the status of red grouper will be evaluated in the next stock assessment, scheduled to begin in 2013. The Council and NMFS are also required to establish ACLs and AMs based on the best scientific information available. Commercial and recreational aggregate ACLs and AMs for black grouper, gag, and red grouper were established through Amendment 17B to the FMP (75 FR 82280, December 30, 2010). The aggregate ACLs currently in place were computed using landings data for black grouper and red grouper prior to the availability of stock assessments (SEDAR 19) for these two species. This final rule will remove the gag, black grouper, and red grouper aggregate commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs, and implement red grouper ACLs based upon the best PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 34255 scientific information available, which includes SEDAR 19 and the acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendation from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). NMFS notes that gag individual ACLs and AMs were previously established through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 29, 2009) and black grouper ACLs and AMs were implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (77 FR 15916, March 16, 2012) and will remain in effect. The commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs implemented through Amendment 24 are expected to ensure red grouper overfishing does not occur and the stock rebuilds to target levels within the 10-year rebuilding timeframe. Comment 2: Red grouper allocations should be reexamined using landings through 2010 or 2011. All recreational landings information used for sector allocations should be recalculated using the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) instead of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). Additionally, NMFS should allocate red grouper as 50 percent for the commercial sector and 50 percent for the recreational sector until the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) and SEDAR complete a new full benchmark assessment utilizing MRIP. Response: The Council concluded that sector-specific ACLs and AMs are important components of red grouper management because the scientific and management uncertainty are different for each sector. To divide the red grouper stock ACL into sector ACLs, the Council had to make allocation decisions. The Council decided to establish sector allocations by balancing long-term catch history with recent catch history. Accordingly, the Council determined the allocation using 50 percent of average landings from 1986– 2008 and 50 percent of average landings from 2006–2008. This resulted in an allocation of red grouper in the South Atlantic as 44 percent for the commercial sector and 56 percent for the recreational sector. The commercial sector landed the majority of red grouper in the early time period (1987–1992) and the for-hire component of the recreational sector landed the majority of fish in more recent years (2006–2008). The Council concluded that this approach was a fair and equitable method to allocate fishery resources and had the additional benefit of using a mathematically transparent formula. The Snapper-Grouper Advisory Panel and the majority of comments received during scoping meetings and E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 34256 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES public hearings supported the Council’s allocation decision. Landings data from SEDAR 19 were used to determine allocations. SEDAR 19 was completed in 2010, and the most recent year of data used in the stock assessment was 2008. The Council was notified of the red grouper stock status on June 9, 2010, and submitted Amendment 24 to NMFS on December 14, 2011, to meet the 2-year MagnusonStevens Act deadline to implement a rebuilding plan. The incorporation of 2010 and 2011 landings data would have delayed the implementation of Amendment 24 past the 2-year deadline. When the Council determined the appropriate sector allocations and approved Amendment 24 in December 2011, the new MRIP estimates had not yet been released. The MRIP data were not available until January of 2012. If MRIP data indicate that an allocation adjustment is necessary, the Council may take action in a future amendment to revise sector allocations. Further, the red grouper standard SEDAR assessment is scheduled to begin in 2013. During the stock assessment process, SEDAR participants will review the MRIP data for its application in the assessment. Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the species within Amendment 24 and is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The FRFA incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant economic issues raised by public comments, NMFS’ responses to those comments, and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action. The FRFA follows. No public comments specific to the IRFA were received and, therefore, no public comments are addressed in this FRFA. No changes to the final rule were made in response to public comments. NMFS agrees that the Council’s choice of preferred alternatives would best achieve the Council’s objectives while minimizing, to the extent practicable, the adverse effects on fishers, support industries, and associated communities. The preamble to the final rule provides a statement and need for, and the objectives of this rule, and is not repeated here. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. No VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. This rule would not introduce any changes to current reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements. NMFS expects the rule to directly affect commercial fishers and for-hire operators. The Small Business Administration established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters and for-hire operations. A business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. For for-hire vessels, other qualifiers apply and the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries). From 2005–2009, an annual average of 892 vessels with valid permits to operate in the commercial snappergrouper fishery landed snapper-grouper, generating dockside revenues of approximately $13.817 million (2009 dollars). Each vessel, therefore, generated an annual average of approximately $15,500 in gross revenues from snapper-grouper during the period of 2005–2009. Gross dockside revenues by area were distributed as follows: $4.196 million in North Carolina, $3.612 million in South Carolina, $3.219 million in Georgia/East Florida, and $2.790 million in the west coast of Florida. Vessels that operate in the snapper-grouper fishery may also operate in other fisheries, the revenues of which cannot be determined with available data and are not reflected in these totals. Based on average revenue information, all commercial vessels affected by this final rule can be considered to be small entities. The for-hire fleet is comprised of charterboats, which charge a fee on a vessel basis, and headboats, which charge a fee on an individual angler (head) basis. From 2005–2009, an annual average of 2,018 vessels had valid Federal permits to operate in the snapper-grouper for-hire sector, of which 82 vessels are estimated to have operated as headboats. The charterboat annual average gross revenue is estimated to range from approximately $62,000–$84,000 for Florida vessels, $73,000–$89,000 for North Carolina vessels, $68,000–$83,000 for Georgia vessels, and $32,000–$39,000 for South Carolina vessels. For headboats, the corresponding annual average gross revenue estimates are $170,000– PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 $362,000 for Florida vessels, and $149,000–$317,000 for vessels in the other states. Based on these average revenue figures, all for-hire operations that would be affected by this final rule can be considered small entities. NMFS expects this final rule to directly affect all federally permitted commercial vessels and for-hire vessels that operate in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery. All directly affected entities have been determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. Therefore, NMFS determines that the final rule would affect a substantial number of small entities. NMFS considers all entities expected to be affected by the rule as small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case. Modifying the rebuilding strategy, ABC, and ACL would result in an increase in cumulative commercial vessel profits of $990,000 over the first 7 years of the rebuilding schedule with an additional $310,000 generated in years 8 through 10, assuming a discount rate of 7 percent to determine current year (2012) dollars. The corresponding effects on the for-hire vessels would also be an increase in cumulative profits but the magnitude cannot be estimated based on available information. These increases in commercial vessel and forhire vessel profits are mainly a result of increases in the ACL over time. To the extent that the action for allocating the ACL between the commercial and recreational sectors would maintain the baseline landings distribution of red grouper between the two sectors, NMFS expects no profit changes to the commercial or for-hire vessels to occur as a direct result of this action. The preferred alternative of revising the ACL/OY would provide the largest ACL/OY for red grouper, which would increase the profits of the commercial and for-hire vessels. Eliminating the aggregate black grouper, red grouper, and gag quota would tend to ensure that profit increases from the largest ACL/OY alternative for red grouper are realized. Within Amendment 24, establishing a recreational ACT would have no impacts on the profits of for-hire vessels in the short term, because this measure would not be used to trigger the application of AMs. Should this recreational ACT be used in the future to trigger AMs, then it may be expected to reduce the profits of for-hire vessels. The magnitude of such reduction cannot be estimated with available information. E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations Implementing in-season and postseason AMs for the commercial sector are expected to limit the increases in the short-term profits of commercial vessels as a result of ACL increases, especially since the most recent landings information suggests that the series of ACLs would likely be exceeded in the near future. However, in the absence of these AMs, regulations could become more restrictive over time, resulting in adversely affecting the long-term profitability of the industry. Implementing in-season and postseason AMs for the recreational sector may be expected to limit increases in short-term profits of for-hire vessels as a result of ACL increases. However, the 2010 recreational harvest of red grouper was well below the proposed ACL for the recreational sector, suggesting that the proposed AM has a low probability of being triggered in the near future (more current data was not available at the time this analysis was conducted). In effect, the AM for the recreational sector may be expected to have a low likelihood of affecting the profits of forhire vessels in the near future. Over the long-term, however, these AMs could apply and short-term profits of for-hire vessels may be adversely affected. However, the absence of these AMs could lead to more restrictive regulations that would reduce the longterm profitability of this sector. Redefining MSY and MSST and establishing a rebuilding schedule for red grouper would not alter the current harvest or use of the resource, and thus would not affect the profitability of small entities. Defining a rebuilding schedule maximizing the time to rebuild the stock to biomass at MSY would add flexibility in designing management measures that would have the least short-term effects on the profitability of small entities. The Council considered several alternatives for each action in this final rule. In summary, the Council concluded that their preferred alternatives best meet the purpose and need of Amendment 24 to implement measures expected to prevent overfishing and achieve OY while minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects. The preferred alternatives also best meet the objectives of the Snapper-Grouper FMP, while complying with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The following discusses all alternatives to the preferred alternatives and their effects relative to the preferred alternatives. Six alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 for the rebuilding strategy and ABC. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a rebuilding strategy for red grouper. Within a rebuilding strategy, the specification of targets and limits, such as ABCs, is a crucial component of any management program involving natural resources. Without the designation of these components, as analyzed in the no action alternative, the regulations may not be sufficient to prevent overfishing and rebuild the stock. More restrictive regulations could eventually be imposed, which would substantially reduce industry profits. The second alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 10 years. This alternative has the highest ABC, which could potentially result in the highest ACL. Therefore, this alternative would provide the best profitability scenario for the commercial and for-hire vessels over the entire rebuilding timeframe. However, it would allow a higher fishing mortality rate than the preferred alternative and result in greater uncertainty that the stock could rebuild within the allowable timeframe. Both this alternative and the preferred alternative would maintain catches at a similar level to what they have been in recent years, but the preferred alternative has a greater probability of rebuilding the stock within the 10-year timeframe. The third alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at 65 percent of FMSY (fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield). This alternative would provide for a lower ABC, and a potentially lower ACL, than the preferred alternative. Thus, this alternative would potentially result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. The fourth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD–7, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 7 years. The fifth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD–8, which is a fishing mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY in 8 years. Each of these alternatives would likely result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, because they would require more restrictive management measures. Two alternatives were considered for sector allocation. Under the no action PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 34257 alternative, which would not establish sector allocation, the recreational and commercial sectors would be managed under a combined ACL. The corresponding AMs would also apply to both sectors regardless of which sector lands the majority of fish. Under the second alternative, five sub-alternatives including the preferred sub-alternative were considered. The first subalternative would establish a 52 percent commercial and 48 percent recreational allocation; the second sub-alternative, 54 percent commercial and 46 percent recreational allocation; the third subalternative, 49 percent commercial and 51 percent recreational allocation; and, the fourth sub-alternative, 41 percent commercial and 59 percent recreational allocation. All of these alternatives, including the preferred alternative, would base the allocation ratio solely on a sector distribution of landings. No economic valuation was considered due to the absence of sufficient information. In terms of effects on the profits of small entities, the general nature of the various allocation alternatives is to favor one sector over another. The higher the allocation to one sector, the higher would be the profit potential to that sector and the lower would be the profit potential to the other sector. Among the alternatives, the preferred alternative was found to have neutral effects on profits on both the commercial and forhire vessels, because the resulting allocation would be the same as the historical sector distribution of landings. This historical distribution is the one used as a baseline against which each alternative is compared. Six alternatives, including the three preferred alternatives, were considered for ACL and OY. The three preferred alternatives are not mutually exclusive but are rather complementary to one another. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a specific ACL for red grouper. This alternative would not allow for specific management actions to address the overfished/overfishing status of the red grouper stock. The second alternative would specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 90 percent of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small entities than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 80 percent of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small entities than the preferred alternative. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the commercial sector ACT. The first E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 34258 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations and second alternatives would set the commercial ACT equal to 90 percent and 80 percent of the commercial ACL, respectively. If ACTs were used to trigger AM applications, these two alternatives would result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. This rule implements the preferred alternative of not establishing a commercial ACT (no action alternative) because the current method to track commercial harvests is adequate to determine whether the commercial ACL is met or projected to be met. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the recreational ACT. ACTs would have economic effects only if they are used to trigger AMs. Amendment 24 specifies that ACTs would not be used to trigger AMs. The following discussion, however, assumes ACTs are used to trigger AMs so that the different economic implications of the alternatives can be described. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not specify a recreational ACT for red grouper. This alternative would not allow consideration of management uncertainty which is deemed high in the recreational sector. Without consideration of management uncertainty, the probability of exceeding the ACL would be relatively high, increasing the probability of implementing more stringent management measures. The second and third alternatives would specify a recreational ACT equal to 85 percent and 75 percent of the recreational ACL, respectively. The second alternative would likely result in a smaller reduction on the short-term profits of small entities than the preferred alternative because it would provide for higher ACT levels. The third alternative would likely result in the same reduction on the short-term profits of small entities as the preferred alternative because both would result in the same ACTs. Three alternatives, including the two preferred alternatives, were considered for the commercial AM. The two preferred alternatives are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary to each other. The only alternative to the preferred alternatives is the no action alternative, which would not specify a commercial AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain the current commercial AM specified for the group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular AM could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow for the VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 implementation of management measures that would specifically address the overfished and undergoing overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. In addition, the current AM for the aggregate species of red grouper, black grouper, and gag does not provide for post-season AMs. The lack of postseason AMs under the no action alternative would result in higher shortterm profits to small entities than the preferred alternative. However, it is expected that the long-term profit environment would be better under the preferred alternatives because they would provide for higher ACLs over time, and therefore higher profits on a more sustainable basis. It should also be noted that a separate commercial sector ACL/AM for black grouper was implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (final rule published on March 16, 2012, 77 FR 15916), negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM. Four alternatives were considered for the recreational AM. The first alternative is the no action alternative, which would not set a specific recreational AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain the current recreational AM specified for the group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular AM could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow for the implementation of management measures that would specifically address the overfished/overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. It should also be noted that a separate recreational sector ACL/AM for black grouper was implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment, negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM. The second alternative would specify a recreational sector AM trigger and includes five sub-alternatives, including the preferred sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector AM trigger. This subalternative would likely result in higher profits to small entities than the preferred sub-alternative. However, it would not address the overfished/ overfishing condition of red grouper. The second sub-alternative specifies that AM would be triggered if the mean recreational landings for the past 3 years exceed the recreational ACL. The profit environment for small entities under this sub-alternative may be lower or higher than that of the preferred subalternative, depending on whether the trend in landings is upward or downward. PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 The third sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the modified mean (highest and lowest landings dropped) landings for the past 5 years exceed the recreational sector ACL. This sub-alternative would have the same effects on profitability as the second sub-alternative, although the magnitude may be lower. The fourth sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the lower bound of the 90 percent confidence interval estimate of the MRFSS landings’ population mean plus headboat landings is greater than the recreational ACL. This sub-alternative is likely to produce the same effects on profitability as the first sub-alternative, but the magnitude could be lower or higher. The third alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a recreational sector in-season AM and includes two sub-alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The only subalternative to the preferred alternative is the no action alternative which would not specify a recreational in-season AM. This alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small entities, but it would not constrain recreational fishing pressure and thus would not aid in addressing the overfished/overfishing condition for red grouper. In the presence of a post-season AM, this alternative would tend to reduce future profits of small entities because of ACL reductions. The fourth alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a recreational sector post-season AM if the current fishing year’s recreational sector ACL is exceeded, and includes seven sub-alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector post-season AM. This sub-alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, although the expectation is for long-term profitability to be better under the preferred subalternative. The second sub-alternative would compare the recreational sector ACL with the 2011 landings only for the purpose of triggering any 2011 postseason AMs and with the mean of the 2011 and 2012 landings for the purpose of triggering any 2012 post-season AMs. For 2013 and beyond, the most recent three-year running would be used for the purpose of triggering post-season AMs. This sub-alternative may or may not have the same sort of effects on profitability as the preferred alternative, depending on the specific AM measure that would be implemented. The third sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations with the Regional Administrator (RA) taking management actions as necessary. This sub-alternative would likely result in the lower adverse effects on short-term profits than the preferred alternative, although the actual effects would depend on the type of restrictions that would be imposed by the RA. The fourth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational fishing season as necessary. This subalternative would likely result in less adverse effects on short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent that the post-season AM may not be imposed depending on how persistent the upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the preferred alternative because it would set a specific red grouper recreational season closure date, allowing for-hire vessels to make the necessary changes in their operations. The fifth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year’s landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational bag limit as necessary to prevent harvest from exceeding the recreational ACL. This sub-alternative would likely result in less adverse effects on short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent that post-season AMs may not be imposed depending on how persistent the upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the preferred alternative since it would allow for-hire vessels to operate year round, although at lower bag limits. The sixth subalternative specifies that the RA publish a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the following year’s recreational fishing season to ensure landings do not exceed the following fishing season’s recreational ACL. There is a good possibility that this sub-alternative would result in the same fishing season length as the preferred alternative, assuming no significant changes in effort would occur in the following fishing year. It is possible that other measures, like a bag limit reduction, may be employed under the preferred alternative to effect a longer season that would provide more fishing opportunities. Whichever of these two sub-alternatives can provide more fishing opportunities may be considered VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 better than the other from the standpoint of profits to small entities. Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for redefining MSY. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the definition of MSY which would not reflect the conclusions of the latest stock assessment. This alternative, like the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability of small entities. Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for redefining MSST. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the definition of MSST as equal to natural mortality times the biomass at MSY. The second alternative would set MSST equal to 50 percent of biomass at MSY. The third alternative would set MSST equal to 85 percent of biomass at MSY. The fourth alternative would set MSST as the minimum stock size at which rebuilding to MSY would be expected to occur within 10 years at the maximum fishing mortality threshold level. All these alternatives, like the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability of small entities. Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for the rebuilding schedule. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not implement a rebuilding schedule. This alternative would not comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement to rebuild an overfished red grouper stock. The second, third, and fourth alternatives would establish a rebuilding period of 3 years (shortest), 7 years, and 8 years, respectively. These other alternatives would provide for a shorter rebuilding timeframe than the preferred alternative, and thus may be expected to restrict the flexibility in designing management measures that would minimize the economic effects on the profits of small entities. Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as small entity compliance guides. As part of the rulemaking process, NMFS prepared a fishery bulletin, which also serves as a small entity compliance guide. The fishery bulletin will be sent to all vessel permit holders in the South Atlantic snappergrouper fishery. PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 34259 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: June 5, 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. § 622.42 [Amended] 2. In § 622.42, paragraph (e)(8) is removed. ■ 3. In § 622.43, paragraph (a)(5)(iii) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.43 Closures. (a) * * * (5) * * * (iii) For gag, when the appropriate commercial quota is reached, the provisions of paragraphs (a)(5)(i) and (ii) of this section apply to gag and all other SASWG. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.49, paragraph (b)(4) is revised to read as follows: § 622.49 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (b) * * * (4) Red grouper—(i) Commercial sector. (A) If commercial landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(i)(C) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of red grouper is prohibited and harvest or possession of this species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limit. This bag and possession limit applies in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. (B) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 34260 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Rules and Regulations near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the ACL for that following year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. (C) The applicable commercial ACLs, in round weight, are 284,680 lb (129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb (155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(C) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limit is zero. This bag and possession limit applies in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters. (B) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the applicable ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the recreational ACL the following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing year. (C) The applicable recreational ACLs, in round weight, are 362,320 lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb (182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (iii) Without regard to overfished status, if the combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as estimated by the SRD, is exceeded in a fishing year, then during the following fishing year, an automatic increase will not be applied to the commercial and recreational sector ACLs. The SRD will evaluate the landings data to determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will be applied. The applicable combined commercial and recreational sector ACLs, in round weight are 647,000 lb (293,474 kg) for 2012, 718,000 lb (325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb (353,802 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years. (A) Following an overage of the total ACL, if there is no overage the following fishing year, the SRD will evaluate the landings data to determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will be applied. (B) [Reserved] * * * * * [FR Doc. 2012–14137 Filed 6–8–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:40 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 110909578–2120–02] RIN 0648–BB45 Western Pacific Pelagic Fisheries; Modification of American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule modifies certain boundaries of the large fishing vessel prohibited area around Tutuila, the Manua Islands, and Rose Atoll in American Samoa to align with the boundaries of the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. This rule simplifies enforcement and administration of the management areas. DATES: This rule is effective July 11, 2012. ADDRESSES: The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared a regulatory amendment that provides background information on this final rule. The regulatory amendment, identified as NOAA– NMFS–2011–0226, includes an environmental assessment and regulatory impact review, and is available from www.regulations.gov or the Council, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808–522– 8220, fax 808–522–8226, www.wpcouncil.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Bailey, Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS PIR, 808–944–2248. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A mix of small troll and longline vessels and larger longline and purse seine vessels target tunas and related fish in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around American Samoa. In 2002, concerns about potential catch competition and gear conflicts between small and large vessels led to the implementation of two large vessel prohibited areas (LVPA), one around Swain’s Island and one around Tutuila, the Manua Islands, and Rose Atoll (67 FR 4369, January 30, 2002). In 2009, Presidential Proclamation 8337 created the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (74 FR 1577, January 12, 2009). The monument includes Rose Atoll and surrounding waters to a distance approximately 50 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 nm around the atoll. The Proclamation prohibits commercial fishing in monument waters. The monument and the LVPA around Tutuila, the Manua Islands, and Rose Atoll overlap, but the boundaries do not align. This rule aligns some of the boundaries to simplify administration and enforcement of the two areas. This rule modifies the LVPA boundaries, as follows: (a) Move the existing northernmost LVPA boundary southward to align with the northern boundary of the monument; (b) Move the eastern LVPA boundary eastward to align with the eastern boundary of the monument; and (c) Move a portion of the southern LVPA boundary southward to align with the southern boundary of the monument. The western and most of the southern boundaries of the existing LVPA remain unchanged. Fig. 1 shows the revised boundaries of the LVPA. Comments and Responses On April 20, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule and request for public comment (77 FR 23654). The comment period for the proposed rule ended on May 11, 2012. NMFS received no public comments. Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes in this final rule. Classification The Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and management of the large vessel pelagic fisheries around American Samoa, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Council 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 the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. NMFS received no comments regarding this certification; as a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\11JNR1.SGM 11JNR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 112 (Monday, June 11, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 34254-34260]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-14137]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 101202599-2122-02]
RIN 0648-BA52


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

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

DATES: This rule is effective July 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 24, which includes an 
environmental assessment, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
(IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be

[[Page 34255]]

obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/SGAmend24_121411.pdf.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council 
and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On February 27, 2012, NMFS published a notice of availability for 
Amendment 24 and requested public comment (77 FR 11477). On March 30, 
2012, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 24 and requested 
public comment (77 FR 19169). The proposed rule and Amendment 24 
outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A 
summary of the actions implemented by this final rule is provided 
below.
    This final rule removes the gag, black grouper, and red grouper 
combined commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs, and specifies the 
ACLs and AMs for red grouper. This final rule implements in-season 
commercial and recreational sector AMs for red grouper, as well as 
post-season overage adjustments. In addition to the actions contained 
in this final rule, specific to red grouper, Amendment 24 implements a 
10-year rebuilding plan, specifies the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) 
and OY values, revises the definition of minimum stock size threshold 
(MSST) to be 75 percent of the spawning stock biomass when fishing at 
the MSY level, specifies commercial and recreational allocations, and 
establishes a recreational sector annual catch target (ACT). The intent 
of Amendment 24 and this final rule is to specify ACLs and AMs for red 
grouper while maintaining catch levels consistent with achieving OY for 
the red grouper resource.

Comments and Responses

    A total of nine comments were received on Amendment 24 and the 
proposed rule. One commenter submitted identical comments on Amendment 
24 and the proposed rule. One Federal agency stated that they had no 
comment on Amendment 24. NMFS received one comment of general support 
and six individual comments opposing one or more of the actions 
contained in Amendment 24 and the proposed rule. Specific comments 
related to the actions contained in Amendment 24 and the proposed rule, 
as well as NMFS' respective responses, are summarized below.
    Comment 1: The restrictions on red grouper harvest in Amendment 24 
are not necessary because a 4-month closure for shallow-water groupers 
is currently in place. In addition, the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
requirement that the Council prepare and implement a plan amendment to 
rebuild red grouper should not apply because the 4-month closure, 
implemented through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 29, 
2009), was not considered in the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 
(SEDAR) SEDAR 19 stock assessment.
    Response: The most recent South Atlantic red grouper stock 
assessment, SEDAR 19, was completed in 2010 and used data available 
through 2008. Therefore, SEDAR 19 did not consider impacts of the 4-
month prohibition on the harvest, landing, and possession of shallow-
water groupers (gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock 
hind, coney, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, and tiger grouper) 
implemented in 2009 through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 
29, 2009). However, SEDAR 19 determined that red grouper was overfished 
and undergoing overfishing, and NMFS notified the Council of the red 
grouper stock status on June 9, 2010. The Council is required by the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act to implement a rebuilding plan within 2 years 
after notification of an overfished stock.
    NMFS and the Council must schedule stock assessments several years 
in advance to allow time for the needed data to be compiled for use by 
stock assessment scientists. The effect of the 4-month closure and 
other recent measures implemented to improve the status of red grouper 
will be evaluated in the next stock assessment, scheduled to begin in 
2013.
    The Council and NMFS are also required to establish ACLs and AMs 
based on the best scientific information available. Commercial and 
recreational aggregate ACLs and AMs for black grouper, gag, and red 
grouper were established through Amendment 17B to the FMP (75 FR 82280, 
December 30, 2010). The aggregate ACLs currently in place were computed 
using landings data for black grouper and red grouper prior to the 
availability of stock assessments (SEDAR 19) for these two species. 
This final rule will remove the gag, black grouper, and red grouper 
aggregate commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs, and implement red 
grouper ACLs based upon the best scientific information available, 
which includes SEDAR 19 and the acceptable biological catch (ABC) 
recommendation from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC). NMFS notes that gag individual ACLs and AMs were previously 
established through Amendment 16 to the FMP (74 FR 30964, June 29, 
2009) and black grouper ACLs and AMs were implemented through the 
Comprehensive ACL Amendment (77 FR 15916, March 16, 2012) and will 
remain in effect. The commercial and recreational ACLs and AMs 
implemented through Amendment 24 are expected to ensure red grouper 
overfishing does not occur and the stock rebuilds to target levels 
within the 10-year rebuilding timeframe.
    Comment 2: Red grouper allocations should be reexamined using 
landings through 2010 or 2011. All recreational landings information 
used for sector allocations should be recalculated using the Marine 
Recreational Information Program (MRIP) instead of the Marine 
Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). Additionally, NMFS 
should allocate red grouper as 50 percent for the commercial sector and 
50 percent for the recreational sector until the Southeast Fisheries 
Science Center (SEFSC) and SEDAR complete a new full benchmark 
assessment utilizing MRIP.
    Response: The Council concluded that sector-specific ACLs and AMs 
are important components of red grouper management because the 
scientific and management uncertainty are different for each sector. To 
divide the red grouper stock ACL into sector ACLs, the Council had to 
make allocation decisions. The Council decided to establish sector 
allocations by balancing long-term catch history with recent catch 
history. Accordingly, the Council determined the allocation using 50 
percent of average landings from 1986-2008 and 50 percent of average 
landings from 2006-2008. This resulted in an allocation of red grouper 
in the South Atlantic as 44 percent for the commercial sector and 56 
percent for the recreational sector. The commercial sector landed the 
majority of red grouper in the early time period (1987-1992) and the 
for-hire component of the recreational sector landed the majority of 
fish in more recent years (2006-2008). The Council concluded that this 
approach was a fair and equitable method to allocate fishery resources 
and had the additional benefit of using a mathematically transparent 
formula. The Snapper-Grouper Advisory Panel and the majority of 
comments received during scoping meetings and

[[Page 34256]]

public hearings supported the Council's allocation decision.
    Landings data from SEDAR 19 were used to determine allocations. 
SEDAR 19 was completed in 2010, and the most recent year of data used 
in the stock assessment was 2008. The Council was notified of the red 
grouper stock status on June 9, 2010, and submitted Amendment 24 to 
NMFS on December 14, 2011, to meet the 2-year Magnuson-Stevens Act 
deadline to implement a rebuilding plan. The incorporation of 2010 and 
2011 landings data would have delayed the implementation of Amendment 
24 past the 2-year deadline.
    When the Council determined the appropriate sector allocations and 
approved Amendment 24 in December 2011, the new MRIP estimates had not 
yet been released. The MRIP data were not available until January of 
2012. If MRIP data indicate that an allocation adjustment is necessary, 
the Council may take action in a future amendment to revise sector 
allocations. Further, the red grouper standard SEDAR assessment is 
scheduled to begin in 2013. During the stock assessment process, SEDAR 
participants will review the MRIP data for its application in the 
assessment.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined 
that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management 
of the species within Amendment 24 and is consistent with the FMP, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The 
FRFA incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant economic 
issues raised by public comments, NMFS' responses to those comments, 
and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action. The FRFA 
follows.
    No public comments specific to the IRFA were received and, 
therefore, no public comments are addressed in this FRFA. No changes to 
the final rule were made in response to public comments.
    NMFS agrees that the Council's choice of preferred alternatives 
would best achieve the Council's objectives while minimizing, to the 
extent practicable, the adverse effects on fishers, support industries, 
and associated communities. The preamble to the final rule provides a 
statement and need for, and the objectives of this rule, and is not 
repeated here.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. This rule would not introduce any changes to current 
reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements.
    NMFS expects the rule to directly affect commercial fishers and 
for-hire operators. The Small Business Administration established size 
criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish 
harvesters and for-hire operations. A business involved in fish 
harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently 
owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation 
(including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in 
excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) for all of 
its affiliated operations worldwide. For for-hire vessels, other 
qualifiers apply and the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million 
(NAICS code 713990, recreational industries).
    From 2005-2009, an annual average of 892 vessels with valid permits 
to operate in the commercial snapper-grouper fishery landed snapper-
grouper, generating dockside revenues of approximately $13.817 million 
(2009 dollars). Each vessel, therefore, generated an annual average of 
approximately $15,500 in gross revenues from snapper-grouper during the 
period of 2005-2009. Gross dockside revenues by area were distributed 
as follows: $4.196 million in North Carolina, $3.612 million in South 
Carolina, $3.219 million in Georgia/East Florida, and $2.790 million in 
the west coast of Florida. Vessels that operate in the snapper-grouper 
fishery may also operate in other fisheries, the revenues of which 
cannot be determined with available data and are not reflected in these 
totals.
    Based on average revenue information, all commercial vessels 
affected by this final rule can be considered to be small entities.
    The for-hire fleet is comprised of charterboats, which charge a fee 
on a vessel basis, and headboats, which charge a fee on an individual 
angler (head) basis. From 2005-2009, an annual average of 2,018 vessels 
had valid Federal permits to operate in the snapper-grouper for-hire 
sector, of which 82 vessels are estimated to have operated as 
headboats. The charterboat annual average gross revenue is estimated to 
range from approximately $62,000-$84,000 for Florida vessels, $73,000-
$89,000 for North Carolina vessels, $68,000-$83,000 for Georgia 
vessels, and $32,000-$39,000 for South Carolina vessels. For headboats, 
the corresponding annual average gross revenue estimates are $170,000-
$362,000 for Florida vessels, and $149,000-$317,000 for vessels in the 
other states.
    Based on these average revenue figures, all for-hire operations 
that would be affected by this final rule can be considered small 
entities.
    NMFS expects this final rule to directly affect all federally 
permitted commercial vessels and for-hire vessels that operate in the 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery. All directly affected entities 
have been determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small 
entities. Therefore, NMFS determines that the final rule would affect a 
substantial number of small entities.
    NMFS considers all entities expected to be affected by the rule as 
small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on small versus 
large entities does not arise in the present case.
    Modifying the rebuilding strategy, ABC, and ACL would result in an 
increase in cumulative commercial vessel profits of $990,000 over the 
first 7 years of the rebuilding schedule with an additional $310,000 
generated in years 8 through 10, assuming a discount rate of 7 percent 
to determine current year (2012) dollars. The corresponding effects on 
the for-hire vessels would also be an increase in cumulative profits 
but the magnitude cannot be estimated based on available information. 
These increases in commercial vessel and for-hire vessel profits are 
mainly a result of increases in the ACL over time.
    To the extent that the action for allocating the ACL between the 
commercial and recreational sectors would maintain the baseline 
landings distribution of red grouper between the two sectors, NMFS 
expects no profit changes to the commercial or for-hire vessels to 
occur as a direct result of this action.
    The preferred alternative of revising the ACL/OY would provide the 
largest ACL/OY for red grouper, which would increase the profits of the 
commercial and for-hire vessels. Eliminating the aggregate black 
grouper, red grouper, and gag quota would tend to ensure that profit 
increases from the largest ACL/OY alternative for red grouper are 
realized.
    Within Amendment 24, establishing a recreational ACT would have no 
impacts on the profits of for-hire vessels in the short term, because 
this measure would not be used to trigger the application of AMs. 
Should this recreational ACT be used in the future to trigger AMs, then 
it may be expected to reduce the profits of for-hire vessels. The 
magnitude of such reduction cannot be estimated with available 
information.

[[Page 34257]]

    Implementing in-season and post-season AMs for the commercial 
sector are expected to limit the increases in the short-term profits of 
commercial vessels as a result of ACL increases, especially since the 
most recent landings information suggests that the series of ACLs would 
likely be exceeded in the near future. However, in the absence of these 
AMs, regulations could become more restrictive over time, resulting in 
adversely affecting the long-term profitability of the industry.
    Implementing in-season and post-season AMs for the recreational 
sector may be expected to limit increases in short-term profits of for-
hire vessels as a result of ACL increases. However, the 2010 
recreational harvest of red grouper was well below the proposed ACL for 
the recreational sector, suggesting that the proposed AM has a low 
probability of being triggered in the near future (more current data 
was not available at the time this analysis was conducted). In effect, 
the AM for the recreational sector may be expected to have a low 
likelihood of affecting the profits of for-hire vessels in the near 
future. Over the long-term, however, these AMs could apply and short-
term profits of for-hire vessels may be adversely affected. However, 
the absence of these AMs could lead to more restrictive regulations 
that would reduce the long-term profitability of this sector.
    Redefining MSY and MSST and establishing a rebuilding schedule for 
red grouper would not alter the current harvest or use of the resource, 
and thus would not affect the profitability of small entities.
    Defining a rebuilding schedule maximizing the time to rebuild the 
stock to biomass at MSY would add flexibility in designing management 
measures that would have the least short-term effects on the 
profitability of small entities.
    The Council considered several alternatives for each action in this 
final rule. In summary, the Council concluded that their preferred 
alternatives best meet the purpose and need of Amendment 24 to 
implement measures expected to prevent overfishing and achieve OY while 
minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic 
effects. The preferred alternatives also best meet the objectives of 
the Snapper-Grouper FMP, while complying with the requirements of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The following discusses 
all alternatives to the preferred alternatives and their effects 
relative to the preferred alternatives.
    Six alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the rebuilding strategy and ABC. The first alternative, 
the no action alternative, would not establish a rebuilding strategy 
for red grouper. Within a rebuilding strategy, the specification of 
targets and limits, such as ABCs, is a crucial component of any 
management program involving natural resources. Without the designation 
of these components, as analyzed in the no action alternative, the 
regulations may not be sufficient to prevent overfishing and rebuild 
the stock. More restrictive regulations could eventually be imposed, 
which would substantially reduce industry profits. The second 
alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to 
the yield at FREBUILD, which is a fishing mortality rate 
that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to 
biomass at MSY in 10 years. This alternative has the highest ABC, which 
could potentially result in the highest ACL. Therefore, this 
alternative would provide the best profitability scenario for the 
commercial and for-hire vessels over the entire rebuilding timeframe. 
However, it would allow a higher fishing mortality rate than the 
preferred alternative and result in greater uncertainty that the stock 
could rebuild within the allowable timeframe. Both this alternative and 
the preferred alternative would maintain catches at a similar level to 
what they have been in recent years, but the preferred alternative has 
a greater probability of rebuilding the stock within the 10-year 
timeframe. The third alternative would define a rebuilding strategy 
that sets ABC equal to the yield at 65 percent of FMSY 
(fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield). This alternative 
would provide for a lower ABC, and a potentially lower ACL, than the 
preferred alternative. Thus, this alternative would potentially result 
in lower profits to small entities than the preferred alternative.
    The fourth alternative would define a rebuilding strategy that sets 
ABC equal to the yield at FREBUILD-7, which is a fishing 
mortality rate that would have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding 
success to biomass at MSY in 7 years. The fifth alternative would 
define a rebuilding strategy that sets ABC equal to the yield at 
FREBUILD-8, which is a fishing mortality rate that would 
have a 70 percent probability of rebuilding success to biomass at MSY 
in 8 years. Each of these alternatives would likely result in lower 
profits to small entities than the preferred alternative, because they 
would require more restrictive management measures.
    Two alternatives were considered for sector allocation. Under the 
no action alternative, which would not establish sector allocation, the 
recreational and commercial sectors would be managed under a combined 
ACL. The corresponding AMs would also apply to both sectors regardless 
of which sector lands the majority of fish. Under the second 
alternative, five sub-alternatives including the preferred sub-
alternative were considered. The first sub-alternative would establish 
a 52 percent commercial and 48 percent recreational allocation; the 
second sub-alternative, 54 percent commercial and 46 percent 
recreational allocation; the third sub-alternative, 49 percent 
commercial and 51 percent recreational allocation; and, the fourth sub-
alternative, 41 percent commercial and 59 percent recreational 
allocation.
    All of these alternatives, including the preferred alternative, 
would base the allocation ratio solely on a sector distribution of 
landings. No economic valuation was considered due to the absence of 
sufficient information. In terms of effects on the profits of small 
entities, the general nature of the various allocation alternatives is 
to favor one sector over another. The higher the allocation to one 
sector, the higher would be the profit potential to that sector and the 
lower would be the profit potential to the other sector. Among the 
alternatives, the preferred alternative was found to have neutral 
effects on profits on both the commercial and for-hire vessels, because 
the resulting allocation would be the same as the historical sector 
distribution of landings. This historical distribution is the one used 
as a baseline against which each alternative is compared.
    Six alternatives, including the three preferred alternatives, were 
considered for ACL and OY. The three preferred alternatives are not 
mutually exclusive but are rather complementary to one another. The 
first alternative, the no action alternative, would not establish a 
specific ACL for red grouper. This alternative would not allow for 
specific management actions to address the overfished/overfishing 
status of the red grouper stock. The second alternative would specify 
an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 90 percent of ABC. 
This alternative would result in lower profit potential to small 
entities than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would 
specify an ACL for red grouper equal to OY and OY equal to 80 percent 
of ABC. This alternative would result in lower profit potential to 
small entities than the preferred alternative.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the commercial sector ACT. The first

[[Page 34258]]

and second alternatives would set the commercial ACT equal to 90 
percent and 80 percent of the commercial ACL, respectively. If ACTs 
were used to trigger AM applications, these two alternatives would 
result in lower profits to small entities than the preferred 
alternative. This rule implements the preferred alternative of not 
establishing a commercial ACT (no action alternative) because the 
current method to track commercial harvests is adequate to determine 
whether the commercial ACL is met or projected to be met.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the recreational ACT. ACTs would have economic effects 
only if they are used to trigger AMs. Amendment 24 specifies that ACTs 
would not be used to trigger AMs. The following discussion, however, 
assumes ACTs are used to trigger AMs so that the different economic 
implications of the alternatives can be described. The first 
alternative, the no action alternative, would not specify a 
recreational ACT for red grouper. This alternative would not allow 
consideration of management uncertainty which is deemed high in the 
recreational sector. Without consideration of management uncertainty, 
the probability of exceeding the ACL would be relatively high, 
increasing the probability of implementing more stringent management 
measures. The second and third alternatives would specify a 
recreational ACT equal to 85 percent and 75 percent of the recreational 
ACL, respectively. The second alternative would likely result in a 
smaller reduction on the short-term profits of small entities than the 
preferred alternative because it would provide for higher ACT levels. 
The third alternative would likely result in the same reduction on the 
short-term profits of small entities as the preferred alternative 
because both would result in the same ACTs.
    Three alternatives, including the two preferred alternatives, were 
considered for the commercial AM. The two preferred alternatives are 
not mutually exclusive but rather complementary to each other. The only 
alternative to the preferred alternatives is the no action alternative, 
which would not specify a commercial AM for red grouper. This 
alternative would retain the current commercial AM specified for the 
group of species consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. 
This particular AM could be either more or less restrictive than the 
preferred AM alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not 
allow for the implementation of management measures that would 
specifically address the overfished and undergoing overfishing 
condition of the red grouper stock. In addition, the current AM for the 
aggregate species of red grouper, black grouper, and gag does not 
provide for post-season AMs. The lack of post-season AMs under the no 
action alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small 
entities than the preferred alternative. However, it is expected that 
the long-term profit environment would be better under the preferred 
alternatives because they would provide for higher ACLs over time, and 
therefore higher profits on a more sustainable basis. It should also be 
noted that a separate commercial sector ACL/AM for black grouper was 
implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment (final rule 
published on March 16, 2012, 77 FR 15916), negating the need for the 
aggregate species ACL/AM.
    Four alternatives were considered for the recreational AM. The 
first alternative is the no action alternative, which would not set a 
specific recreational AM for red grouper. This alternative would retain 
the current recreational AM specified for the group of species 
consisting of red grouper, black grouper, and gag. This particular AM 
could be either more or less restrictive than the preferred AM 
alternatives specified for red grouper, but it would not allow for the 
implementation of management measures that would specifically address 
the overfished/overfishing condition of the red grouper stock. It 
should also be noted that a separate recreational sector ACL/AM for 
black grouper was implemented through the Comprehensive ACL Amendment, 
negating the need for the aggregate species ACL/AM.
    The second alternative would specify a recreational sector AM 
trigger and includes five sub-alternatives, including the preferred 
sub-alternative. The first sub-alternative would not specify a 
recreational sector AM trigger. This sub-alternative would likely 
result in higher profits to small entities than the preferred sub-
alternative. However, it would not address the overfished/overfishing 
condition of red grouper. The second sub-alternative specifies that AM 
would be triggered if the mean recreational landings for the past 3 
years exceed the recreational ACL. The profit environment for small 
entities under this sub-alternative may be lower or higher than that of 
the preferred sub-alternative, depending on whether the trend in 
landings is upward or downward.
    The third sub-alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered 
if the modified mean (highest and lowest landings dropped) landings for 
the past 5 years exceed the recreational sector ACL. This sub-
alternative would have the same effects on profitability as the second 
sub-alternative, although the magnitude may be lower. The fourth sub-
alternative specifies that the AM would be triggered if the lower bound 
of the 90 percent confidence interval estimate of the MRFSS landings' 
population mean plus headboat landings is greater than the recreational 
ACL. This sub-alternative is likely to produce the same effects on 
profitability as the first sub-alternative, but the magnitude could be 
lower or higher.
    The third alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a 
recreational sector in-season AM and includes two sub-alternatives, of 
which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The only sub-alternative to 
the preferred alternative is the no action alternative which would not 
specify a recreational in-season AM. This alternative would result in 
higher short-term profits to small entities, but it would not constrain 
recreational fishing pressure and thus would not aid in addressing the 
overfished/overfishing condition for red grouper. In the presence of a 
post-season AM, this alternative would tend to reduce future profits of 
small entities because of ACL reductions.
    The fourth alternative for a recreational sector AM would specify a 
recreational sector post-season AM if the current fishing year's 
recreational sector ACL is exceeded, and includes seven sub-
alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative. The first 
sub-alternative would not specify a recreational sector post-season AM. 
This sub-alternative would result in higher short-term profits to small 
entities than the preferred alternative, although the expectation is 
for long-term profitability to be better under the preferred sub-
alternative. The second sub-alternative would compare the recreational 
sector ACL with the 2011 landings only for the purpose of triggering 
any 2011 post-season AMs and with the mean of the 2011 and 2012 
landings for the purpose of triggering any 2012 post-season AMs. For 
2013 and beyond, the most recent three-year running would be used for 
the purpose of triggering post-season AMs. This sub-alternative may or 
may not have the same sort of effects on profitability as the preferred 
alternative, depending on the specific AM measure that would be 
implemented.
    The third sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year's 
landings for persistence in increased landings,

[[Page 34259]]

with the Regional Administrator (RA) taking management actions as 
necessary. This sub-alternative would likely result in the lower 
adverse effects on short-term profits than the preferred alternative, 
although the actual effects would depend on the type of restrictions 
that would be imposed by the RA. The fourth sub-alternative specifies 
monitoring the following year's landings for persistence in increased 
landings, with the RA publishing a notice in the Federal Register to 
reduce the recreational fishing season as necessary. This sub-
alternative would likely result in less adverse effects on short term 
profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent that the post-
season AM may not be imposed depending on how persistent the upward 
trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, this 
sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the preferred 
alternative because it would set a specific red grouper recreational 
season closure date, allowing for-hire vessels to make the necessary 
changes in their operations.
    The fifth sub-alternative specifies monitoring the following year's 
landings for persistence in increased landings, with the RA publishing 
a notice in the Federal Register to reduce the recreational bag limit 
as necessary to prevent harvest from exceeding the recreational ACL. 
This sub-alternative would likely result in less adverse effects on 
short term profits than the preferred sub-alternative to the extent 
that post-season AMs may not be imposed depending on how persistent the 
upward trend in landings would be. If a post-season AM were necessary, 
this sub-alternative could still result in higher profits than the 
preferred alternative since it would allow for-hire vessels to operate 
year round, although at lower bag limits. The sixth sub-alternative 
specifies that the RA publish a notice in the Federal Register to 
reduce the following year's recreational fishing season to ensure 
landings do not exceed the following fishing season's recreational ACL. 
There is a good possibility that this sub-alternative would result in 
the same fishing season length as the preferred alternative, assuming 
no significant changes in effort would occur in the following fishing 
year. It is possible that other measures, like a bag limit reduction, 
may be employed under the preferred alternative to effect a longer 
season that would provide more fishing opportunities. Whichever of 
these two sub-alternatives can provide more fishing opportunities may 
be considered better than the other from the standpoint of profits to 
small entities.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for redefining MSY. The first alternative, the no action 
alternative, would retain the definition of MSY which would not reflect 
the conclusions of the latest stock assessment. This alternative, like 
the preferred alternative, would not directly affect the profitability 
of small entities.
    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for redefining MSST. The first alternative, the no action 
alternative, would retain the definition of MSST as equal to natural 
mortality times the biomass at MSY. The second alternative would set 
MSST equal to 50 percent of biomass at MSY. The third alternative would 
set MSST equal to 85 percent of biomass at MSY. The fourth alternative 
would set MSST as the minimum stock size at which rebuilding to MSY 
would be expected to occur within 10 years at the maximum fishing 
mortality threshold level. All these alternatives, like the preferred 
alternative, would not directly affect the profitability of small 
entities.
    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for the rebuilding schedule. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not implement a rebuilding schedule. This 
alternative would not comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement 
to rebuild an overfished red grouper stock. The second, third, and 
fourth alternatives would establish a rebuilding period of 3 years 
(shortest), 7 years, and 8 years, respectively. These other 
alternatives would provide for a shorter rebuilding timeframe than the 
preferred alternative, and thus may be expected to restrict the 
flexibility in designing management measures that would minimize the 
economic effects on the profits of small entities.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as small entity compliance 
guides. As part of the rulemaking process, NMFS prepared a fishery 
bulletin, which also serves as a small entity compliance guide. The 
fishery bulletin will be sent to all vessel permit holders in the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

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

    Dated: June 5, 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.


Sec.  622.42  [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  622.42, paragraph (e)(8) is removed.
0
3. In Sec.  622.43, paragraph (a)(5)(iii) is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.43  Closures.

    (a) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (iii) For gag, when the appropriate commercial quota is reached, 
the provisions of paragraphs (a)(5)(i) and (ii) of this section apply 
to gag and all other SASWG.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  622.49, paragraph (b)(4) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.49  Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs).

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Red grouper--(i) Commercial sector. (A) If commercial landings 
for red grouper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to 
reach the applicable ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(i)(C) of this section, the 
AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to 
close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On 
and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or 
purchase of red grouper is prohibited and harvest or possession of this 
species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and 
possession limit. This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/
headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or 
Federal waters.
    (B) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or

[[Page 34260]]

near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the ACL for 
that following year by the amount of the overage in the prior fishing 
year.
    (C) The applicable commercial ACLs, in round weight, are 284,680 lb 
(129,129 kg) for 2012, 315,920 lb (143,299 kg) for 2013, and 343,200 lb 
(155,673 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years.
    (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If recreational landings for red 
grouper, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the applicable 
ACL in paragraph (b)(4)(ii)(C) of this section, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the 
recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after 
the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limit 
is zero. This bag and possession limit applies in the South Atlantic on 
board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit 
for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to 
where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    (B) If recreational landings for red grouper, as estimated by the 
SRD, exceed the applicable ACL, the AA will file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the recreational ACL the 
following fishing year by the amount of the overage in the prior 
fishing year.
    (C) The applicable recreational ACLs, in round weight, are 362,320 
lb (164,346 kg) for 2012, 402,080 lb (182,380 kg) for 2013, and 436,800 
lb (198,129 kg) for 2014 and subsequent fishing years.
    (iii) Without regard to overfished status, if the combined 
commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as estimated by the 
SRD, is exceeded in a fishing year, then during the following fishing 
year, an automatic increase will not be applied to the commercial and 
recreational sector ACLs. The SRD will evaluate the landings data to 
determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will 
be applied. The applicable combined commercial and recreational sector 
ACLs, in round weight are 647,000 lb (293,474 kg) for 2012, 718,000 lb 
(325,679 kg) for 2013, and 780,000 lb (353,802 kg) for 2014 and 
subsequent fishing years.
    (A) Following an overage of the total ACL, if there is no overage 
the following fishing year, the SRD will evaluate the landings data to 
determine whether or not an increase in the respective sector ACLs will 
be applied.
    (B) [Reserved]
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-14137 Filed 6-8-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P