Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 34, 40561-40563 [2012-16837]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 132 / Tuesday, July 10, 2012 / Proposed Rules Federal Register for publication notification of the removal of the import restrictions effective on the date of publication. 9. Redesignate § 300.206 as § 300.207, and in newly redesignated § 300.207, revise the section heading, and paragraph (c), and add paragraph (d) to read as follows: § 300.207 Alternative procedures for nations identified as having vessels engaged in IUU fishing activities that are not certified under § 300.202 * * * * * (c) Fish and fish products offered for entry under this section must be accompanied by a completed documentation of admissibility available from NMFS. The documentation of admissibility must be executed by a duly authorized official of the identified nation and must be validated by a responsible official(s) designated by NMFS. The documentation must be executed and submitted in a format (electronic facsimile (fax), the Internet, etc.) specified by NMFS. (d) Any action recommended under this section shall be consistent with international obligations, including the WTO Agreement. 10. Redesignate § 300.207 as § 300.208, and in newly redesignated § 300.208, revise the section heading and add paragraph (d) to read as follows: § 300.208 Alternative procedures for nations identified as having vessels engaged in bycatch of PLMRs that are not certified under § 300.203. (d) Any action recommended under this section shall be consistent with international obligations, including the WTO Agreement. 11. Add new § 300.209 to read as follows: wreier-aviles on DSK6TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS § 300.209 Alternative procedures for nations identified as having vessels engaged in shark catch that are not certified under § 300.204. (a) These certification procedures may be applied to fish and fish products from a vessel of a harvesting nation that has been identified under § 300.204 in the event that the Secretary cannot reach a certification determination for that nation by the time of the next biennial report. These procedures shall not apply to fish and fish products from identified nations that have received either a negative or a positive certification under this subpart. (b) Consistent with paragraph (a) of this section, the Secretary of Commerce may allow entry of fish and fish products on a shipment-by-shipment, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Jul 09, 2012 Jkt 226001 shipper-by-shipper, or other basis if the Secretary determines that imports were harvested by fishing activities or practices that do not target or incidentally catch sharks, or were harvested by practices that— (1) Are comparable to those of the United States, taking into account different conditions; and (2) Include the gathering of species specific shark data that can be used to support international and regional assessments and conservation efforts for sharks. (c) Fish and fish products offered for entry under this section must be accompanied by a completed documentation of admissibility available from NMFS. The documentation of admissibility must be executed by a duly authorized official of the identified nation and validated by a responsible official(s) designated by NMFS. The documentation must be executed and submitted in a format (electronic facsimile (fax), the Internet, etc.) specified by NMFS. (d) Any action recommended under this section shall be consistent with international obligations, including the WTO Agreement. [FR Doc. 2012–16838 Filed 7–9–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648–BB72 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 34 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 34 proposes to modify the income qualification requirements for the renewal of Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) commercial reef fish permits and revise the crew size regulations for dualpermitted vessels (i.e. vessels that possess both a charter vessel/headboat SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 40561 permit for Gulf reef fish and a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish) while fishing commercially. The intent of Amendment 34 is to remove permit requirements that may no longer be applicable to current commercial fishing practices and to improve vessel safety in the Gulf reef fish fishery. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 10, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2011–0025’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, enter ‘‘NOAA– NMFS–2011–0025’’ in the search field and click on ‘‘search’’. After you locate the proposed rule, click the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ link in that row. This will display the comment Web form. You can enter your submitter information (unless you prefer to remain anonymous), and type your comment on the Web form. You can also attach additional files (up to 10 MB) in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not be considered. For further assistance with submitting a comment, see the ‘‘Commenting’’ section at http://www.regulations.gov/ #!faqs or the Help section at http:// www.regulations.gov. Electronic copies of Amendment 34, which includes an environmental assessment and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ GrouperSnapperandReefFish.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone 727–824–5305; email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov. E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 40562 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 132 / Tuesday, July 10, 2012 / Proposed Rules The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires each Regional Fishery Management Council to submit any fishery management plan or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available for review and comment. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: wreier-aviles on DSK6TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Background This amendment addresses several administrative issues relative to earned income requirements for commercial Gulf reef fish permit renewal and to the maximum crew size for dual-permitted vessels while fishing commercially. Due to recent changes in the Gulf reef fish commercial sector the income requirement and crew size limit regulations may no longer effectively serve their original purposes. The Council considered several alternatives for modifying the income requirement for permit renewal and the maximum crew size of dual-permitted vessels. These alternatives are summarized below. Eliminating the Income Qualification Requirements for Commercial Gulf Reef Fish Permits Under the current regulations, an applicant renewing a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish must attest that greater than 50 percent of his/her earned income is derived from commercial fishing (i.e. harvest and first sale of fish) or charter fishing during either of the 2 calendar years preceding the application. Applicants must complete the Income Qualification Affidavit section on the Federal Permit Application for Vessels Fishing in the EEZ (Federal Permit Application) as proof of meeting permit income qualification requirements for commercial Gulf reef fish vessel permits. In addition, the requirement does not address regulatory changes such as the implementation of individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs for the red snapper and grouper/tilefish species which account for the majority of Gulf reef fish landings. Regardless of the proportion of a fisherman’s income derived from commercial or charter fishing, participation in these IFQ fisheries is restricted to those who possess quota shares or who sell annual allocation. Eliminating the income requirement would afford more flexibility to fishermen to allow them to earn income in other occupations. This VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Jul 09, 2012 Jkt 226001 added flexibility would allow some fishermen to renew their permits even if they did not have the opportunity to earn enough income from fishing. In addition, this income requirement is relatively easy to meet or circumvent. However, the process of collecting tax return documentation is a large administrative burden that has been tried and failed in the past. Finally, the elimination of income requirements would also decrease the administrative burden to NMFS and the applicant by simplifying the permit renewal process. The Council considered expanding the income sources used to determine the applicant’s income earned from fishing to include income earned from the sale of IFQ shares and allocation. However, this alternative is not expected to affect the relative ease with which income qualification requirements can be circumvented. Another alternative would have replaced the income requirement with a landings requirement where an applicant would be required to prove that a predetermined amount of Gulf reef fish had been landed in the preceding year. The Council considered minimum annual landings thresholds ranging from 500 lb (227 kg) to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of Gulf reef fish. This alternative could increase the administrative burden and be difficult to monitor and enforce. A landings requirement may raise the potential of increased fishing effort to achieve the required threshold. Finally, the Council considered implementation of a protocol to temporarily suspend income requirements in response to events and conditions (such as oil spills or hurricanes) that affect fishing effort regionally or Gulf-wide. However, the election to eliminate the income requirements renders this option redundant. Increasing the Maximum Crew Size for Dual-Permitted Vessels Currently, 154 vessels possess a charter vessel/headboat permit and a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, referred to as dual-permitted vessels. Unless the vessel has a certificate of inspection, dual-permitted vessels are limited to a three person maximum crew size as established under the final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the FMP (GMFMC 55 FR 2078, January 22, 1990). Historically, limiting the crew size on a dual-permitted vessel when fishing commercially may have served to prevent a vessel from taking out a number of passengers under the pretense of making a charter trip, but subsequently selling the catch. Under current commercial fishing practices, PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 limiting the crew size of a vessel to prevent selling catch caught on a charter trip is no longer a primary concern. In addition to the implementation of the individual fishing quota programs, all commercial Gulf reef fish vessels are required to be equipped with vessel monitoring systems. The strict reporting requirements of these management measures make it clear when a vessel is operating as a commercial vessel. Dual-permitted commercial spear fishermen requested an increase in crew size to allow two divers in the water, diving as a buddy pair, while two crew members remain aboard the vessel. This conforms to safe operating procedures for commercial diving and directly promotes the safety of human life at sea. The Council considered eliminating the crew size completely or increasing the maximum size from three to four persons. It is possible that eliminating the crew size requirement completely could lead to an increase in effort or other unintended consequences. Therefore, the Council selected the more prudent alternative, a controlled increase in crew size from three to four persons. Limiting the crew size increase to one additional crew member rather than eliminating the maximum crew size requirement completely minimizes any potential increase in efficiency and other unintended effects. Proposed Rule for Amendment 34 A proposed rule that would implement Amendment 34 has been drafted. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating Amendment 34 to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If the determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment. Consideration of Public Comments The Council submitted Amendment 34 for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. NMFS’ decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 34 will be based, in part, on consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received during the comment period on this notice of availability. Public comments received by 5 p.m. eastern time, on September 10, 2012, will be considered by NMFS in the approval/disapproval decision regarding Amendment 34. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 132 / Tuesday, July 10, 2012 / Proposed Rules Dated: July 5, 2012. Lindsay Fullenkamp, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–16837 Filed 7–9–12; 8:45 am] wreier-aviles on DSK6TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:05 Jul 09, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 40563

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 132 (Tuesday, July 10, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 40561-40563]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-16837]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

RIN 0648-BB72


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 34

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

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has 
submitted Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish 
Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and 
implementation by NMFS. Amendment 34 proposes to modify the income 
qualification requirements for the renewal of Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) 
commercial reef fish permits and revise the crew size regulations for 
dual-permitted vessels (i.e. vessels that possess both a charter 
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish and a commercial vessel 
permit for Gulf reef fish) while fishing commercially. The intent of 
Amendment 34 is to remove permit requirements that may no longer be 
applicable to current commercial fishing practices and to improve 
vessel safety in the Gulf reef fish fishery.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 10, 
2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0025'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 
263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0025'' in the search field 
and click on ``search''. After you locate the proposed rule, click the 
``Submit a Comment'' link in that row. This will display the comment 
Web form. You can enter your submitter information (unless you prefer 
to remain anonymous), and type your comment on the Web form. You can 
also attach additional files (up to 10 MB) in Microsoft Word, Excel, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    For further assistance with submitting a comment, see the 
``Commenting'' section at http://www.regulations.gov/#!faqs or the Help 
section at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Electronic copies of Amendment 34, which includes an environmental 
assessment and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/GrouperSnapperandReefFish.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone 727-824-5305; email: 
Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

[[Page 40562]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires each 
Regional Fishery Management Council to submit any fishery management 
plan or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, 
upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the 
Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is 
available for review and comment.

Background

    This amendment addresses several administrative issues relative to 
earned income requirements for commercial Gulf reef fish permit renewal 
and to the maximum crew size for dual-permitted vessels while fishing 
commercially. Due to recent changes in the Gulf reef fish commercial 
sector the income requirement and crew size limit regulations may no 
longer effectively serve their original purposes. The Council 
considered several alternatives for modifying the income requirement 
for permit renewal and the maximum crew size of dual-permitted vessels. 
These alternatives are summarized below.

Eliminating the Income Qualification Requirements for Commercial Gulf 
Reef Fish Permits

    Under the current regulations, an applicant renewing a commercial 
vessel permit for Gulf reef fish must attest that greater than 50 
percent of his/her earned income is derived from commercial fishing 
(i.e. harvest and first sale of fish) or charter fishing during either 
of the 2 calendar years preceding the application. Applicants must 
complete the Income Qualification Affidavit section on the Federal 
Permit Application for Vessels Fishing in the EEZ (Federal Permit 
Application) as proof of meeting permit income qualification 
requirements for commercial Gulf reef fish vessel permits.
    In addition, the requirement does not address regulatory changes 
such as the implementation of individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs 
for the red snapper and grouper/tilefish species which account for the 
majority of Gulf reef fish landings. Regardless of the proportion of a 
fisherman's income derived from commercial or charter fishing, 
participation in these IFQ fisheries is restricted to those who possess 
quota shares or who sell annual allocation. Eliminating the income 
requirement would afford more flexibility to fishermen to allow them to 
earn income in other occupations. This added flexibility would allow 
some fishermen to renew their permits even if they did not have the 
opportunity to earn enough income from fishing.
    In addition, this income requirement is relatively easy to meet or 
circumvent. However, the process of collecting tax return documentation 
is a large administrative burden that has been tried and failed in the 
past. Finally, the elimination of income requirements would also 
decrease the administrative burden to NMFS and the applicant by 
simplifying the permit renewal process.
    The Council considered expanding the income sources used to 
determine the applicant's income earned from fishing to include income 
earned from the sale of IFQ shares and allocation. However, this 
alternative is not expected to affect the relative ease with which 
income qualification requirements can be circumvented. Another 
alternative would have replaced the income requirement with a landings 
requirement where an applicant would be required to prove that a 
predetermined amount of Gulf reef fish had been landed in the preceding 
year. The Council considered minimum annual landings thresholds ranging 
from 500 lb (227 kg) to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of Gulf reef fish. This 
alternative could increase the administrative burden and be difficult 
to monitor and enforce. A landings requirement may raise the potential 
of increased fishing effort to achieve the required threshold. Finally, 
the Council considered implementation of a protocol to temporarily 
suspend income requirements in response to events and conditions (such 
as oil spills or hurricanes) that affect fishing effort regionally or 
Gulf-wide. However, the election to eliminate the income requirements 
renders this option redundant.

Increasing the Maximum Crew Size for Dual-Permitted Vessels

    Currently, 154 vessels possess a charter vessel/headboat permit and 
a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, referred to as dual-permitted 
vessels. Unless the vessel has a certificate of inspection, dual-
permitted vessels are limited to a three person maximum crew size as 
established under the final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the FMP 
(GMFMC 55 FR 2078, January 22, 1990). Historically, limiting the crew 
size on a dual-permitted vessel when fishing commercially may have 
served to prevent a vessel from taking out a number of passengers under 
the pretense of making a charter trip, but subsequently selling the 
catch. Under current commercial fishing practices, limiting the crew 
size of a vessel to prevent selling catch caught on a charter trip is 
no longer a primary concern. In addition to the implementation of the 
individual fishing quota programs, all commercial Gulf reef fish 
vessels are required to be equipped with vessel monitoring systems. The 
strict reporting requirements of these management measures make it 
clear when a vessel is operating as a commercial vessel.
    Dual-permitted commercial spear fishermen requested an increase in 
crew size to allow two divers in the water, diving as a buddy pair, 
while two crew members remain aboard the vessel. This conforms to safe 
operating procedures for commercial diving and directly promotes the 
safety of human life at sea. The Council considered eliminating the 
crew size completely or increasing the maximum size from three to four 
persons. It is possible that eliminating the crew size requirement 
completely could lead to an increase in effort or other unintended 
consequences. Therefore, the Council selected the more prudent 
alternative, a controlled increase in crew size from three to four 
persons. Limiting the crew size increase to one additional crew member 
rather than eliminating the maximum crew size requirement completely 
minimizes any potential increase in efficiency and other unintended 
effects.

Proposed Rule for Amendment 34

    A proposed rule that would implement Amendment 34 has been drafted. 
In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating 
Amendment 34 to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If the determination is 
affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal 
Register for public review and comment.

Consideration of Public Comments

    The Council submitted Amendment 34 for Secretarial review, 
approval, and implementation. NMFS' decision to approve, partially 
approve, or disapprove Amendment 34 will be based, in part, on 
consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received 
during the comment period on this notice of availability.
    Public comments received by 5 p.m. eastern time, on September 10, 
2012, will be considered by NMFS in the approval/disapproval decision 
regarding Amendment 34.

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


[[Page 40563]]


    Dated: July 5, 2012.
Lindsay Fullenkamp,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-16837 Filed 7-9-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P