Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 35, 42476-42481 [2012-17491]

Download as PDF 42476 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 1999 and continues to attain the standard based on the most recent three years of complete, quality assured ozone monitoring data. A final determination, by EPA, that the area is currently attaining the one-hour standard would relieve the area of its obligation to submit one-hour ozone contingency measures. Third, EPA is proposing to determine that the Manchester, NH marginal nonattainment area met the applicable deadline of November 15, 1993, for attaining the one-hour NAAQS for ozone. This proposed determination is based upon complete, certified, quality-assured ambient air quality monitoring data for the 1991–1993 monitoring period showing that the area had an expected ozone exceedance rate below the level of the now revoked onehour ozone NAAQS during that period and therefore attained the standard by its applicable deadline. Fourth and last with respect to the Manchester, NH area, EPA is proposing to determine, that the area has attained the one-hour ozone standard since 1993, and continues to attain the standard based on the most recent three years of complete, quality-assured and certified ozone monitoring data. EPA is soliciting public comments on the issues discussed in this notice or on other relevant matters. EPA will consider these comments before final action. Interested parties may participate in the Federal rulemaking procedure by submitting written comments to the EPA New England Regional Office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this Federal Register. VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews This action proposes to make determinations of attainment based on monitored air quality data, and/or does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, these proposed actions: • Are not ‘‘significant regulatory actions’’ subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993); • Do not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.); • Are certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); • Do not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 • Do not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); • Are not economically significant regulatory actions based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • Are not significant regulatory actions subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • Are not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and • Do not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, these actions do not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the state, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds. Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. Dated: June 28, 2012. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England. [FR Doc. 2012–17621 Filed 7–18–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 1206013412–2211–01] RIN 0648–BB97 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 35 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 35 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish sector annual catch limits (ACLs) and sector annual catch targets (ACTs) for greater amberjack; revise the sector accountability measures (AMs) for greater amberjack; and establish a commercial trip limit for greater amberjack. Additionally, Amendment 35 would modify the greater amberjack rebuilding plan. The intent of Amendment 35 is to end overfishing of greater amberjack, modify the greater amberjack rebuilding plan and help achieve optimum yield (OY) for the greater amberjack resource in accordance with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). DATES: Written comments must be received on or before August 20, 2012. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2012–0107’’ 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: Rich Malinowski, 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. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to remain anonymous). To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, enter ‘‘NOAA– NMFS–2012–0107’’ in the search field and click on ‘‘search.’’ After you locate the document ‘‘Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 35,’’ click the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ link in that row. This will display the comment Web form. You can then enter your submitter SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS information (unless you prefer to remain anonymous), and type your comment on the Web form. You can also attach additional files (up to 10MB) 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 35, which includes a draft environmental assessment, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ GrouperSnapperandReefFish.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, telephone 727–824–5305, email rich.malinowski@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf 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 MagnusonStevens Act. All greater amberjack weights discussed in this proposed rule are in round weight. Background Since 1990, the Council and NMFS have implemented a series of management measures to prevent overfishing of the greater amberjack stock and achieve OY. Amendment 1 to the FMP added greater amberjack to the list of species in the FMP, set a recreational minimum size limit of 28 inches (71 cm), established a three-fish recreational bag limit, and set a commercial minimum size limit of 36 inches (91 cm) (55 FR 2079, January 22, 1990). Amendment 12 to the FMP reduced the greater amberjack recreational bag limit to one fish per person per day (61 FR 65983, December 16, 1996). Greater amberjack were first determined to be overfished and undergoing overfishing in 2000. Secretarial Amendment 2 established a rebuilding plan for greater amberjack, starting in 2003, based on a stock assessment conducted in 2000 (68 FR 39898, July 3, 2003). A 2006 SEDAR benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 9 2006c) determined that the greater amberjack stock was still overfished and undergoing overfishing. Amendment 30A to the FMP set the greater VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 amberjack stock total allowable catch at 1,871,000 lb (848,671 kg), for the 2008 through 2010 fishing years. Using an allocation of 73 percent for the recreational sector and 27 percent for the commercial sector, Amendment 30A to the FMP established a recreational quota of 1,368,000 lb (620,514 kg), and a commercial quota of 503,000 lb (228,157 kg) (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). Amendment 30A also established greater amberjack AMs. These AMs state that if a sector’s landings reaches, or is projected to reach, the applicable quota, the sector will close for the remainder of the fishing year. Additionally, in the event of a quota overage, the respective sector’s quota will be reduced in the following fishing year by the amount of the respective sector’s quota overage in the prior fishing year. Status of Stock In 2010, the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) stock assessment update (SEDAR 9 Update) was conducted for greater amberjack. The SEDAR 9 Update (2010) indicated that the greater amberjack stock was both overfished and undergoing overfishing. In March 2011, the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviewed the update assessment, determined the assessment to be the best scientific information available, and accepted its conclusions that the stock was undergoing overfishing and is overfished. However, the SSC rejected as unreliable the absolute values that resulted in the conclusions and rejected the assessment’s yield projections. The SSC believed that the yield projections were unreliable because they showed large sensitivity to small changes in initial conditions, fishing mortality rates, and catch. Therefore, the SSC did not use the stock assessment to set the overfishing limit (OFL) or the acceptable biological catch (ABC) but instead used Tier 3b of the ABC control rule that the Council was developing in the Generic Annual Catch Limit/Accountability Measure Amendment (Generic ACL Amendment). NMFS approved the Generic ACL Amendment and published a final rule implementing the management measures in that amendment in December 2011 (76 FR 82044, December 29, 2011). Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the ABC control rule require stable yield projections, which were not available for greater amberjack. Tier 3 of the control rule applies when no assessment is available but landings data exist. Tier 3a applies when the stock is unlikely to undergo overfishing if future landings are equal to or moderately higher than PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 42477 the mean of recent landings. Tier 3b applies when expert evaluation of the best scientific information available indicates that recent landings may be unsustainable. Tier 3b uses the average of recent annual catches to set the OFL and the ABC is set as a percentage of the OFL. The ABC control rule states that the default is to set the ABC equal to 75 percent of the OFL. The SSC decided that, given the likelihood of ongoing overfishing, Tier 3b was appropriate for greater amberjack. Therefore, instead of relying on assessment projections, the SSC set the OFL for greater amberjack equal to the weight of the mean landings for the most recent ten years (2000– 2009) and recommended the ABC for three years (2011–2013) be set at 75 percent of that 10-year mean. The Council accepted the SSC’s recommendations, set the ACL equal to the ABC, and consistent with the Generic ACL Amendment, set the ACT approximately 15 percent below the ACL. Although the ACL adopted by the Council was based on landings recorded during a time period when overfishing is believed to have been occurring, in the Generic ACL Amendment the Council determined that the Tier 3b methodology would end overfishing where applicable. NMFS approved this approach when approving the Generic ACL Amendment, and finds that following this approach in Amendment 35 is consistent with the FMP as amended. Further, greater amberjack landings are somewhat variable over the 10-year period of 2000 through 2009, and there is no discernible trend in these landings. The lack of a discernible trend in landings data supports the conclusion that the stock size is more likely than not stable enough that the ABC recommendation (i.e., 75 percent of the OFL) and management measures implemented by the Council (setting the ACT approximately 15 percent below the ACL) will provide the reduction in greater amberjack fishing mortality necessary to end overfishing and rebuild the greater amberjack stock. A new benchmark assessment for greater amberjack is scheduled to occur in 2013. When the new assessment is completed, NMFS and the Council will be able to confirm that greater amberjack has met its rebuilding schedule. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would establish greater amberjack sector ACLs and sector ACTs (which are expressed as quotas in the regulatory text), revise the sector AMs, and establish a commercial trip limit for greater amberjack. E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1 42478 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ACLs and ACTs This rule would define specific ACLs for the greater amberjack commercial and recreational sectors. This proposed rule would also establish the ACTs (expressed as quotas in the regulatory text) for both sectors. The National Standard 1 Guidelines (74 FR 3178, June 16, 2009) require the establishment of a mechanism for specifying ACLs in the FMP at a level such that overfishing does not occur in the fishery. Within Amendment 30A to the FMP, the Council and NMFS established greater amberjack commercial and recreational quotas that functioned as ACLs. An ACT is a management target established to account for management uncertainty in controlling the actual catch at or below the ACL. An ACT is used in the system of AMs so that the ACL is not exceeded. Therefore, a sector ACT should be set below the sector ACL to allow the sector to be closed when the ACT is projected to be reached. Amendment 35 would establish the greater amberjack ACL equal to the greater amberjack stock ABC at 1,780,000 lb (807,394 kg), and set the greater amberjack stock ACT at 1,539,000 lb (698,079 kg) based on the ACT Control Rule developed in the Generic ACL Amendment (76 FR 82044, December 29, 2011). Sector allocations were established in Amendment 30A to the FMP and were not changed in Amendment 35. For greater amberjack, 27 percent of the ACL is allocated to the commercial sector and 73 percent of the ACL is allocated to the recreational sector. This proposed rule would establish the greater amberjack commercial ACL at 481,000 lb (218,178 kg). The commercial ACT, which is equivalent to the greater amberjack commercial quota, would be reduced from 503,000 lb (228,157 kg), to 409,000 lb (185,519 kg). The commercial ACT would be set 15 percent below the ACL to account for management uncertainty. This proposed rule would establish the greater amberjack recreational ACL at 1,299,000 lb (589,116 kg). The recreational ACT, which is equivalent to the greater amberjack recreational quota, would be reduced from 1,368,000 lb (620,514 kg), to 1,130,000 lb (512,559 kg). The recreational ACT would be set 13 percent below the ACL to account for management uncertainty. AMs This proposed rule would revise the AMs for both the greater amberjack commercial and recreational sectors. AMs are management controls that are implemented to prevent ACLs from VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 being exceeded, and to correct or mitigate overages of the ACL if they occur. There are two categories of AMs, in-season AMs (when the ACL is met or projected to be met) and post-season AMs (when the ACL is exceeded). The current in-season AM for the greater amberjack commercial sector closes the sector when commercial landings reach or are projected to reach the applicable quota. In addition, if despite such closure the commercial landings exceed the quota, the following year’s quota is reduced by the amount of the quota overage in the prior fishing year (post-season AM). This rule would implement an ACT that is less than the ACL, creating a buffer between the two. The ACT would be the quota and this rule would require that the commercial sector close when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. By closing the commercial sector when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached, there is less probability of exceeding the ACL. In addition to this revision of the inseason AM, this rule would revise the post-season AM as follows: If commercial landings exceed the commercial ACL, then during the following fishing year, both the commercial ACT (commercial quota) and the commercial ACL will be reduced by the amount of the prior years’ commercial ACL overage. The current in-season AM for the greater amberjack recreational sector closes the sector when recreational landings reach or are projected to reach the applicable quota. In addition, if despite such closure the recreational landings exceed the quota, the following year’s recreational quota is reduced by the amount of the quota overage in the prior fishing year, and the recreational fishing season is reduced by the amount necessary to recover the overage from the prior fishing year (post-season AMs). This rule would implement an ACT that is less than the ACL, creating a buffer between the two. The ACT would act as the quota and this rule would require that the recreational sector close when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. By closing the recreational sector when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached, there is less probability of exceeding the ACL. In addition to this revision of the in-season AM, this rule would revise the postseason AMs as follows: If recreational landings exceed the recreational ACL, then during the following fishing year, both the recreational ACT (recreational quota) and the recreational ACL will be reduced by the amount of the prior year’s recreational ACL overage. PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Commercial Trip Limit Currently, there is no trip limit for the commercial sector. This rule would establish a commercial trip limit for greater amberjack of 2,000 lb (907 kg). This trip limit would be applicable until the commercial ACT (commercial quota) is reached or projected to be reached during a fishing year and the commercial sector is closed. Other Action Contained in Amendment 35 Amendment 35 would revise the rebuilding plan for greater amberjack. The greater amberjack stock is currently in its last year of a 10-year rebuilding plan that began in 2003 and ends in 2012. Amendment 35 would modify the rebuilding plan in response to the results from the SEDAR 9 Update and subsequent SSC review and recommendations for the greater amberjack ABC. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the AA has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 35, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603, for this rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for the rule are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. This proposed rule would establish greater amberjack sector ACLs and sector ACTs, revise the sector AMs, and establish a commercial trip limit for greater amberjack. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. This proposed rule would not introduce any changes to current reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements. NMFS expects the proposed rule to directly affect commercial fishers and for-hire operators. The Small Business Administration established size criteria E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules 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 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 forhire vessels, other qualifiers apply and the annual receipts threshold is $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries). From 2005–2010, an average of 1,096 vessels had Federal commercial Gulf reef fish permits. Based on home port states reported in their permit applications, these vessels were distributed as follows: 897 vessels in Florida, 34 vessels in Alabama, 19 vessels in Mississippi, 58 vessels in Louisiana, 79 vessels in Texas, and 9 vessels in other states. Of the total number of federally permitted vessels, 750 vessels reported landings of at least 1 lb (0.6 kg) of reef fish. These vessels generated total dockside revenues of approximately $41.5 million dollars (2010 dollars), or an average of $55,000 per vessel. An average of 325 vessels reported landings of at least 1 lb (0.6 kg) of greater amberjack, with these vessels distributed as follows: 259 vessels in Florida, 15 vessels in Alabama/ Mississippi, 32 in Louisiana, 32 in Texas, and 2 in other states. Dockside revenues from greater amberjack were approximately $600,000 (2010 dollars). Based on this information, all commercial fishing vessels expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business 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 2005–2010, an average of 1,493 vessels had Federal Gulf reef fish charter/headboat permits, and based on homeport states reported in their permit applications these vessels were distributed as follows: 921 vessels in Florida, 147 vessels in Alabama, 61 vessels in Mississippi, 104 vessels in Louisiana, 238 vessels in Texas, and 22 in other states. There is no information available as to how many for-hire vessels harvested or targeted greater amberjack. The Federal Gulf charter/headboat permit does not distinguish between headboats and charterboats, but in 2010, the headboat survey program included 79 headboats. The majority of headboats were located in Florida (43), followed by Texas (19), VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 Alabama (8), and Louisiana (4). The average charterboat is estimated to earn approximately $89,000 (2010 dollars) in annual revenues, while the average headboat is estimated to earn approximately $466,000 (2010 dollars). Based on these average annual revenue figures, all for-hire vessels expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business entities. Some fleet activity, i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single entity, may exist in both the commercial sector and the for-hire component of the recreational sector by an unknown extent, and NMFS treats all vessels as independent entities in this analysis. NMFS expects the proposed rule to directly affect all federally permitted commercial vessels harvesting greater amberjack and for-hire vessels that operate in the Gulf reef fish fishery. All directly affected entities have been determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. Therefore, NMFS determined that this proposed rule would affect a substantial number of small entities. NMFS considers all entities expected to be affected by the proposed rule as small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case. Modifying the greater amberjack rebuilding plan by establishing sector ACLs and ACTs would result in a total annual revenue reduction of $99,000 (part of which would be profits) for the entire reef fish commercial sector’s vessel operations because the proposed commercial ACT is less than average commercial landings. This revenue reduction takes into account the proposed AM revision that would close the commercial sector if the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. However, it does not account for the effects of the post-season AM that would reduce the applicable sector’s ACT and ACL if the ACL were exceeded in the previous year. This post-season AM would be expected to reduce vessel revenues and profits by an unknown amount. The for-hire component of the recreational sector would largely remain unaffected by the proposed ACL/ACT and AM revisions, at least in the short term. The for-hire component of the recreational sector is not expected to reach its proposed ACL/ACT, implying that there would be no trip cancellations that would lead to for-hire profit reductions. The proposed trip limit on commercial vessels that harvest greater amberjack would result in a revenue PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 42479 reduction (part of which would be profits) of $96,000 for the entire commercial harvesting operation. Because this estimated revenue reduction presupposed the adoption of the proposed ACL/ACT, it should not be considered in addition to the reduction from the proposed ACL/ACT. The smaller reduction appears to show that because the trip limit may allow for an extension of the commercial season it would slightly mitigate the adverse effects of a lower ACL/ACT. The negative effects of the proposed action on the profits of commercial vessels are minimal when compared to the overall industry profits from harvesting reef fish. It is possible that some vessels may rely on greater amberjack for a sizeable portion of their overall harvesting operations so their profit reductions may be relatively large, but how many vessels there are in the fishery cannot be ascertained. Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, and two suboptions, of which one is the preferred option, were considered for modifying the greater amberjack rebuilding plan. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the greater amberjack stock ACL. This is not a viable alternative because the current stock ACL is higher than the ABC being set for greater amberjack. Like the preferred alternative, the second alternative would set a stock ACL equal to the ABC, which is about 5 percent lower than the current stock ACL. However, this alternative would not set an ACT below the level of the ACL. Among the alternatives, this would provide the best scenario for short-term profitability of small entities. Without an ACT, however, this ACL level may be exceeded, particularly since the stock ACL has been exceeded in the last 2 years (2009 and 2010). Exceeding this ACL would lower the probability of protecting and rebuilding the overfished stock. The sub-option which was not selected would set the stock ACL at 18 percent below the current ACL. This would have the same impacts on profits as the preferred option for the current year, but it would potentially result in a worse profit condition in the subsequent year because it would require post-season overage adjustments if the quotas were exceeded. The third alternative, which would establish a stock ACL of zero, would result in the largest profit reductions to both the commercial sector and for-hire component of the recreational sector. Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for revising the commercial AM. The E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 42480 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules only alternative to the preferred alternative is the no action alternative. This would result in lesser short-term profit reductions than the preferred alternative. The downside of the no action alternative is that it would subject the commercial sector to a greater likelihood of facing a postseason AM that would reduce the succeeding year’s ACL and ACT and therefore commercial vessel profits as well. Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for revising the recreational AM. The only alternative to the preferred alternative is the no action alternative. The no action alternative would result in greater short-term profits than the preferred alternative. Its downside is that it would subject the sector to a greater likelihood of facing a postseason AM that would reduce the succeeding year’s ACL and ACT and therefore for-hire vessel profits as well. Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for commercial management measures. The first alternative is the no action alternative and would have no effects on vessel profits. The second alternative, which would establish a vessel trip limit, while maintaining the March 1– May 31 seasonal closure, includes four options. The preferred option would establish a commercial trip limit of 2,000 lb (907 kg), which as noted above would result in a revenue reduction of $96,000. The other options would establish a trip limit of 1,500 lb (680 kg), 1,000 lb (454 kg), or 500 lb (227 kg). Given the preferred ACL/ACT alternative, these other options would result in revenue reductions of $95,000, $97,000, and $198,000, respectively. These other trip limit options would result in a longer fishing season than the preferred option. The commercial trip limit of 1,500 lb (680 kg) would result in a lower revenue reduction than the preferred option because revenue gains from a longer fishing season would outweigh revenue losses from a lower trip limit. For the other two trip limit options however, the trip limits are so low that revenue gains from a longer fishing season would not outweigh revenue losses from a lower trip limit. Profit reductions would also likely occur with these other options. The third alternative, which would eliminate the March 1—May 31 seasonal closure, includes 4 trip limit options. The trip limit options are 2,000 lb (907 kg), 1,500 lb (680 kg), 1,000 lb (454 kg), or 500 lb (227 kg). Given the preferred ACL/ACT alternative, these options would result in revenue reductions of $123,000, $120,000, $115,000, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 $110,000 respectively. These revenue reductions for trip limits not linked with a seasonal closure are greater when compared to trip limits linked with a seasonal closure because they would result in a longer quota closure during the fishing year. Profit reductions would also likely occur with these options. In Amendment 35, the Council considered several actions for which the no-action alternative was the preferred alternative. Four alternatives were considered for modifying the recreational minimum size limit for greater amberjack. The first alternative is the no action alternative, which will not affect the profits of forhire vessels. The other alternatives would raise the recreational minimum size limit to 32 in (81 cm), 34 in (86 cm), or 36 in (91 cm), fork length. These other alternatives would possibly result in for-hire vessel profit reductions to the extent that some trips would be cancelled. Five alternatives were considered for modifying the recreational closed season for greater amberjack. The preferred alternative is the no action alternative, and so would not affect the profits of for-hire vessels. The second alternative would remove the fixed closed season so that the recreational sector would open on January 1 and would remain open until the recreational ACT (recreational quota) is reached. This alternative would result in a short-term profit increase of $75,000 to charterboats and an unknown profit increase to headboats under the preferred ACL/ACT alternative. These profit increases hinge on the assumption that displaced effort due to the quota closure would not shift to the open season. Any effort shift would likely negate such profit increases. The third alternative would modify the recreational sector’s seasonal closure to March 1–May 31. This alternative would result in a profit loss of approximately $300,000 to charterboats and an unknown profit loss to headboats. Profit losses would be less if displaced effort from the closed months shifted to the open months. The fourth alternative would modify the recreational seasonal closure to January 1–May 31. This alternative would result in a profit loss of approximately $400,000 to charterboats and an unknown profit loss to headboats. Profit losses would be less if displaced effort from the closed months shifted to the open months. The fifth alternative would modify the recreational seasonal closure to June 1–July 23. In the absence of effort shifting, this alternative would result in a short-term profit increase of PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 approximately $80,000 to charterboats and an unknown profit increase to headboats. Any effort shift would tend to negate these profit increases. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Virgin Islands. Dated: July 12, 2012. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.42, paragraphs (a)(1)(v) and (a)(2)(ii) are revised to read as follows: § 622.42 Quotas. * * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (v) Greater amberjack—409,000 lb (185,519 kg), round weight. * * * * * (2) * * * (ii) Recreational quota for greater amberjack. The recreational quota for greater amberjack is 1,130,000 lb (512,559 kg), round weight. * * * * * 3. In § 622.44, paragraph (d) is added to read as follows: § 622.44 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (d) Gulf greater amberjack. Until the quota specified in § 622.42(a)(1)(v) is reached, 2,000 lb (907 kg), round weight. See § 622.43(a)(1)(i) for the limitations regarding greater amberjack after the quota is reached. * * * * * 4. In § 622.49, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows: § 622.49 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs). (a) * * * (1) Greater amberjack. (i) Commercial sector—(A) If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the annual catch target (ACT) specified in § 622.42(a)(1)(v) (commercial quota), 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. E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 139 / Thursday, July 19, 2012 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (a)(1)(i)(A) of this section, if commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL, as specified in (a)(1)(i)(C) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial ACT (commercial quota) and the commercial ACL for that following year by the amount of any commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:06 Jul 18, 2012 Jkt 226001 (C) The commercial ACL for greater amberjack is 481,000 lb (218,178 kg), round weight. (ii) Recreational sector—(A) If recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the ACT specified in § 622.42(a)(2)(ii) (recreational quota), 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. (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(A) of this section, if recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 42481 recreational ACL, as specified in (a)(1)(ii)(C) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACT (recreational quota) and the recreational ACL for that following year by the amount of any recreational ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (C) The recreational ACL for greater amberjack is 1,299,000 lb (589,216 kg), round weight. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2012–17491 Filed 7–18–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\19JYP1.SGM 19JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 139 (Thursday, July 19, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 42476-42481]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-17491]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 1206013412-2211-01]
RIN 0648-BB97


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 35

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in 
Amendment 35 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources 
of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 
Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish 
sector annual catch limits (ACLs) and sector annual catch targets 
(ACTs) for greater amberjack; revise the sector accountability measures 
(AMs) for greater amberjack; and establish a commercial trip limit for 
greater amberjack. Additionally, Amendment 35 would modify the greater 
amberjack rebuilding plan. The intent of Amendment 35 is to end 
overfishing of greater amberjack, modify the greater amberjack 
rebuilding plan and help achieve optimum yield (OY) for the greater 
amberjack resource in accordance with the requirements of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before August 20, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0107'' 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: Rich Malinowski, 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. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0107'' in the search field 
and click on ``search.'' After you locate the document ``Fisheries of 
the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of 
the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 35,'' click the ``Submit a Comment'' link 
in that row. This will display the comment Web form. You can then enter 
your submitter

[[Page 42477]]

information (unless you prefer to remain anonymous), and type your 
comment on the Web form. You can also attach additional files (up to 
10MB) 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 35, which includes a draft 
environmental assessment, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
(IRFA), and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/GrouperSnapperandReefFish.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone 727-824-5305, email rich.malinowski@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf 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 Act. All greater amberjack weights discussed in this 
proposed rule are in round weight.

Background

    Since 1990, the Council and NMFS have implemented a series of 
management measures to prevent overfishing of the greater amberjack 
stock and achieve OY. Amendment 1 to the FMP added greater amberjack to 
the list of species in the FMP, set a recreational minimum size limit 
of 28 inches (71 cm), established a three-fish recreational bag limit, 
and set a commercial minimum size limit of 36 inches (91 cm) (55 FR 
2079, January 22, 1990). Amendment 12 to the FMP reduced the greater 
amberjack recreational bag limit to one fish per person per day (61 FR 
65983, December 16, 1996).
    Greater amberjack were first determined to be overfished and 
undergoing overfishing in 2000. Secretarial Amendment 2 established a 
rebuilding plan for greater amberjack, starting in 2003, based on a 
stock assessment conducted in 2000 (68 FR 39898, July 3, 2003). A 2006 
SEDAR benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 9 2006c) determined that the 
greater amberjack stock was still overfished and undergoing 
overfishing. Amendment 30A to the FMP set the greater amberjack stock 
total allowable catch at 1,871,000 lb (848,671 kg), for the 2008 
through 2010 fishing years. Using an allocation of 73 percent for the 
recreational sector and 27 percent for the commercial sector, Amendment 
30A to the FMP established a recreational quota of 1,368,000 lb 
(620,514 kg), and a commercial quota of 503,000 lb (228,157 kg) (73 FR 
38139, July 3, 2008). Amendment 30A also established greater amberjack 
AMs. These AMs state that if a sector's landings reaches, or is 
projected to reach, the applicable quota, the sector will close for the 
remainder of the fishing year. Additionally, in the event of a quota 
overage, the respective sector's quota will be reduced in the following 
fishing year by the amount of the respective sector's quota overage in 
the prior fishing year.

Status of Stock

    In 2010, the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) stock 
assessment update (SEDAR 9 Update) was conducted for greater amberjack. 
The SEDAR 9 Update (2010) indicated that the greater amberjack stock 
was both overfished and undergoing overfishing.
    In March 2011, the Council's Science and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) reviewed the update assessment, determined the assessment to be 
the best scientific information available, and accepted its conclusions 
that the stock was undergoing overfishing and is overfished. However, 
the SSC rejected as unreliable the absolute values that resulted in the 
conclusions and rejected the assessment's yield projections. The SSC 
believed that the yield projections were unreliable because they showed 
large sensitivity to small changes in initial conditions, fishing 
mortality rates, and catch. Therefore, the SSC did not use the stock 
assessment to set the overfishing limit (OFL) or the acceptable 
biological catch (ABC) but instead used Tier 3b of the ABC control rule 
that the Council was developing in the Generic Annual Catch Limit/
Accountability Measure Amendment (Generic ACL Amendment). NMFS approved 
the Generic ACL Amendment and published a final rule implementing the 
management measures in that amendment in December 2011 (76 FR 82044, 
December 29, 2011).
    Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the ABC control rule require stable yield 
projections, which were not available for greater amberjack. Tier 3 of 
the control rule applies when no assessment is available but landings 
data exist. Tier 3a applies when the stock is unlikely to undergo 
overfishing if future landings are equal to or moderately higher than 
the mean of recent landings. Tier 3b applies when expert evaluation of 
the best scientific information available indicates that recent 
landings may be unsustainable. Tier 3b uses the average of recent 
annual catches to set the OFL and the ABC is set as a percentage of the 
OFL. The ABC control rule states that the default is to set the ABC 
equal to 75 percent of the OFL. The SSC decided that, given the 
likelihood of ongoing overfishing, Tier 3b was appropriate for greater 
amberjack. Therefore, instead of relying on assessment projections, the 
SSC set the OFL for greater amberjack equal to the weight of the mean 
landings for the most recent ten years (2000-2009) and recommended the 
ABC for three years (2011-2013) be set at 75 percent of that 10-year 
mean.
    The Council accepted the SSC's recommendations, set the ACL equal 
to the ABC, and consistent with the Generic ACL Amendment, set the ACT 
approximately 15 percent below the ACL. Although the ACL adopted by the 
Council was based on landings recorded during a time period when 
overfishing is believed to have been occurring, in the Generic ACL 
Amendment the Council determined that the Tier 3b methodology would end 
overfishing where applicable. NMFS approved this approach when 
approving the Generic ACL Amendment, and finds that following this 
approach in Amendment 35 is consistent with the FMP as amended.
    Further, greater amberjack landings are somewhat variable over the 
10-year period of 2000 through 2009, and there is no discernible trend 
in these landings. The lack of a discernible trend in landings data 
supports the conclusion that the stock size is more likely than not 
stable enough that the ABC recommendation (i.e., 75 percent of the OFL) 
and management measures implemented by the Council (setting the ACT 
approximately 15 percent below the ACL) will provide the reduction in 
greater amberjack fishing mortality necessary to end overfishing and 
rebuild the greater amberjack stock. A new benchmark assessment for 
greater amberjack is scheduled to occur in 2013. When the new 
assessment is completed, NMFS and the Council will be able to confirm 
that greater amberjack has met its rebuilding schedule.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would establish greater amberjack sector ACLs 
and sector ACTs (which are expressed as quotas in the regulatory text), 
revise the sector AMs, and establish a commercial trip limit for 
greater amberjack.

[[Page 42478]]

ACLs and ACTs

    This rule would define specific ACLs for the greater amberjack 
commercial and recreational sectors. This proposed rule would also 
establish the ACTs (expressed as quotas in the regulatory text) for 
both sectors.
    The National Standard 1 Guidelines (74 FR 3178, June 16, 2009) 
require the establishment of a mechanism for specifying ACLs in the FMP 
at a level such that overfishing does not occur in the fishery. Within 
Amendment 30A to the FMP, the Council and NMFS established greater 
amberjack commercial and recreational quotas that functioned as ACLs. 
An ACT is a management target established to account for management 
uncertainty in controlling the actual catch at or below the ACL. An ACT 
is used in the system of AMs so that the ACL is not exceeded. 
Therefore, a sector ACT should be set below the sector ACL to allow the 
sector to be closed when the ACT is projected to be reached. Amendment 
35 would establish the greater amberjack ACL equal to the greater 
amberjack stock ABC at 1,780,000 lb (807,394 kg), and set the greater 
amberjack stock ACT at 1,539,000 lb (698,079 kg) based on the ACT 
Control Rule developed in the Generic ACL Amendment (76 FR 82044, 
December 29, 2011).
    Sector allocations were established in Amendment 30A to the FMP and 
were not changed in Amendment 35. For greater amberjack, 27 percent of 
the ACL is allocated to the commercial sector and 73 percent of the ACL 
is allocated to the recreational sector.
    This proposed rule would establish the greater amberjack commercial 
ACL at 481,000 lb (218,178 kg). The commercial ACT, which is equivalent 
to the greater amberjack commercial quota, would be reduced from 
503,000 lb (228,157 kg), to 409,000 lb (185,519 kg). The commercial ACT 
would be set 15 percent below the ACL to account for management 
uncertainty.
    This proposed rule would establish the greater amberjack 
recreational ACL at 1,299,000 lb (589,116 kg). The recreational ACT, 
which is equivalent to the greater amberjack recreational quota, would 
be reduced from 1,368,000 lb (620,514 kg), to 1,130,000 lb (512,559 
kg). The recreational ACT would be set 13 percent below the ACL to 
account for management uncertainty.

AMs

    This proposed rule would revise the AMs for both the greater 
amberjack commercial and recreational sectors. AMs are management 
controls that are implemented to prevent ACLs from being exceeded, and 
to correct or mitigate overages of the ACL if they occur. There are two 
categories of AMs, in-season AMs (when the ACL is met or projected to 
be met) and post-season AMs (when the ACL is exceeded).
    The current in-season AM for the greater amberjack commercial 
sector closes the sector when commercial landings reach or are 
projected to reach the applicable quota. In addition, if despite such 
closure the commercial landings exceed the quota, the following year's 
quota is reduced by the amount of the quota overage in the prior 
fishing year (post-season AM). This rule would implement an ACT that is 
less than the ACL, creating a buffer between the two. The ACT would be 
the quota and this rule would require that the commercial sector close 
when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. By closing the 
commercial sector when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached, 
there is less probability of exceeding the ACL. In addition to this 
revision of the in-season AM, this rule would revise the post-season AM 
as follows: If commercial landings exceed the commercial ACL, then 
during the following fishing year, both the commercial ACT (commercial 
quota) and the commercial ACL will be reduced by the amount of the 
prior years' commercial ACL overage.
    The current in-season AM for the greater amberjack recreational 
sector closes the sector when recreational landings reach or are 
projected to reach the applicable quota. In addition, if despite such 
closure the recreational landings exceed the quota, the following 
year's recreational quota is reduced by the amount of the quota overage 
in the prior fishing year, and the recreational fishing season is 
reduced by the amount necessary to recover the overage from the prior 
fishing year (post-season AMs). This rule would implement an ACT that 
is less than the ACL, creating a buffer between the two. The ACT would 
act as the quota and this rule would require that the recreational 
sector close when the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. By 
closing the recreational sector when the ACT is reached or projected to 
be reached, there is less probability of exceeding the ACL. In addition 
to this revision of the in-season AM, this rule would revise the post-
season AMs as follows: If recreational landings exceed the recreational 
ACL, then during the following fishing year, both the recreational ACT 
(recreational quota) and the recreational ACL will be reduced by the 
amount of the prior year's recreational ACL overage.

Commercial Trip Limit

    Currently, there is no trip limit for the commercial sector. This 
rule would establish a commercial trip limit for greater amberjack of 
2,000 lb (907 kg). This trip limit would be applicable until the 
commercial ACT (commercial quota) is reached or projected to be reached 
during a fishing year and the commercial sector is closed.

Other Action Contained in Amendment 35

    Amendment 35 would revise the rebuilding plan for greater 
amberjack. The greater amberjack stock is currently in its last year of 
a 10-year rebuilding plan that began in 2003 and ends in 2012. 
Amendment 35 would modify the rebuilding plan in response to the 
results from the SEDAR 9 Update and subsequent SSC review and 
recommendations for the greater amberjack ABC.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
AA has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 
35, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law, subject to 
further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603, for this rule. The IRFA describes the 
economic impact that this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on 
small entities. A description of the proposed rule, why it is being 
considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for the rule are 
contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the 
SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.
    This proposed rule would establish greater amberjack sector ACLs 
and sector ACTs, revise the sector AMs, and establish a commercial trip 
limit for greater amberjack.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. This proposed rule would not introduce any changes to 
current reporting, record-keeping, and other compliance requirements.
    NMFS expects the proposed rule to directly affect commercial 
fishers and for-hire operators. The Small Business Administration 
established size criteria

[[Page 42479]]

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 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 2005-2010, an average of 1,096 vessels had Federal commercial 
Gulf reef fish permits. Based on home port states reported in their 
permit applications, these vessels were distributed as follows: 897 
vessels in Florida, 34 vessels in Alabama, 19 vessels in Mississippi, 
58 vessels in Louisiana, 79 vessels in Texas, and 9 vessels in other 
states. Of the total number of federally permitted vessels, 750 vessels 
reported landings of at least 1 lb (0.6 kg) of reef fish. These vessels 
generated total dockside revenues of approximately $41.5 million 
dollars (2010 dollars), or an average of $55,000 per vessel. An average 
of 325 vessels reported landings of at least 1 lb (0.6 kg) of greater 
amberjack, with these vessels distributed as follows: 259 vessels in 
Florida, 15 vessels in Alabama/Mississippi, 32 in Louisiana, 32 in 
Texas, and 2 in other states. Dockside revenues from greater amberjack 
were approximately $600,000 (2010 dollars). Based on this information, 
all commercial fishing vessels expected to be directly affected by this 
proposed rule are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be 
small business 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 2005-2010, an average of 1,493 vessels had 
Federal Gulf reef fish charter/headboat permits, and based on homeport 
states reported in their permit applications these vessels were 
distributed as follows: 921 vessels in Florida, 147 vessels in Alabama, 
61 vessels in Mississippi, 104 vessels in Louisiana, 238 vessels in 
Texas, and 22 in other states. There is no information available as to 
how many for-hire vessels harvested or targeted greater amberjack. The 
Federal Gulf charter/headboat permit does not distinguish between 
headboats and charterboats, but in 2010, the headboat survey program 
included 79 headboats. The majority of headboats were located in 
Florida (43), followed by Texas (19), Alabama (8), and Louisiana (4). 
The average charterboat is estimated to earn approximately $89,000 
(2010 dollars) in annual revenues, while the average headboat is 
estimated to earn approximately $466,000 (2010 dollars). Based on these 
average annual revenue figures, all for-hire vessels expected to be 
directly affected by this proposed rule are determined for the purpose 
of this analysis to be small business entities.
    Some fleet activity, i.e., multiple vessels owned by a single 
entity, may exist in both the commercial sector and the for-hire 
component of the recreational sector by an unknown extent, and NMFS 
treats all vessels as independent entities in this analysis.
    NMFS expects the proposed rule to directly affect all federally 
permitted commercial vessels harvesting greater amberjack and for-hire 
vessels that operate in the Gulf reef fish fishery. All directly 
affected entities have been determined, for the purpose of this 
analysis, to be small entities. Therefore, NMFS determined that this 
proposed rule would affect a substantial number of small entities.
    NMFS considers all entities expected to be affected by the proposed 
rule as small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on 
small versus large entities does not arise in the present case.
    Modifying the greater amberjack rebuilding plan by establishing 
sector ACLs and ACTs would result in a total annual revenue reduction 
of $99,000 (part of which would be profits) for the entire reef fish 
commercial sector's vessel operations because the proposed commercial 
ACT is less than average commercial landings. This revenue reduction 
takes into account the proposed AM revision that would close the 
commercial sector if the ACT is reached or projected to be reached. 
However, it does not account for the effects of the post-season AM that 
would reduce the applicable sector's ACT and ACL if the ACL were 
exceeded in the previous year. This post-season AM would be expected to 
reduce vessel revenues and profits by an unknown amount. The for-hire 
component of the recreational sector would largely remain unaffected by 
the proposed ACL/ACT and AM revisions, at least in the short term. The 
for-hire component of the recreational sector is not expected to reach 
its proposed ACL/ACT, implying that there would be no trip 
cancellations that would lead to for-hire profit reductions.
    The proposed trip limit on commercial vessels that harvest greater 
amberjack would result in a revenue reduction (part of which would be 
profits) of $96,000 for the entire commercial harvesting operation. 
Because this estimated revenue reduction presupposed the adoption of 
the proposed ACL/ACT, it should not be considered in addition to the 
reduction from the proposed ACL/ACT. The smaller reduction appears to 
show that because the trip limit may allow for an extension of the 
commercial season it would slightly mitigate the adverse effects of a 
lower ACL/ACT.
    The negative effects of the proposed action on the profits of 
commercial vessels are minimal when compared to the overall industry 
profits from harvesting reef fish. It is possible that some vessels may 
rely on greater amberjack for a sizeable portion of their overall 
harvesting operations so their profit reductions may be relatively 
large, but how many vessels there are in the fishery cannot be 
ascertained.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, and two 
sub-options, of which one is the preferred option, were considered for 
modifying the greater amberjack rebuilding plan. The first alternative, 
the no action alternative, would retain the greater amberjack stock 
ACL. This is not a viable alternative because the current stock ACL is 
higher than the ABC being set for greater amberjack.
    Like the preferred alternative, the second alternative would set a 
stock ACL equal to the ABC, which is about 5 percent lower than the 
current stock ACL. However, this alternative would not set an ACT below 
the level of the ACL. Among the alternatives, this would provide the 
best scenario for short-term profitability of small entities. Without 
an ACT, however, this ACL level may be exceeded, particularly since the 
stock ACL has been exceeded in the last 2 years (2009 and 2010). 
Exceeding this ACL would lower the probability of protecting and 
rebuilding the overfished stock. The sub-option which was not selected 
would set the stock ACL at 18 percent below the current ACL. This would 
have the same impacts on profits as the preferred option for the 
current year, but it would potentially result in a worse profit 
condition in the subsequent year because it would require post-season 
overage adjustments if the quotas were exceeded. The third alternative, 
which would establish a stock ACL of zero, would result in the largest 
profit reductions to both the commercial sector and for-hire component 
of the recreational sector.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for revising the commercial AM. The

[[Page 42480]]

only alternative to the preferred alternative is the no action 
alternative. This would result in lesser short-term profit reductions 
than the preferred alternative. The downside of the no action 
alternative is that it would subject the commercial sector to a greater 
likelihood of facing a post-season AM that would reduce the succeeding 
year's ACL and ACT and therefore commercial vessel profits as well.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for revising the recreational AM. The only alternative to 
the preferred alternative is the no action alternative. The no action 
alternative would result in greater short-term profits than the 
preferred alternative. Its downside is that it would subject the sector 
to a greater likelihood of facing a post-season AM that would reduce 
the succeeding year's ACL and ACT and therefore for-hire vessel profits 
as well.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for commercial management measures. The first alternative is 
the no action alternative and would have no effects on vessel profits. 
The second alternative, which would establish a vessel trip limit, 
while maintaining the March 1-May 31 seasonal closure, includes four 
options. The preferred option would establish a commercial trip limit 
of 2,000 lb (907 kg), which as noted above would result in a revenue 
reduction of $96,000. The other options would establish a trip limit of 
1,500 lb (680 kg), 1,000 lb (454 kg), or 500 lb (227 kg). Given the 
preferred ACL/ACT alternative, these other options would result in 
revenue reductions of $95,000, $97,000, and $198,000, respectively. 
These other trip limit options would result in a longer fishing season 
than the preferred option. The commercial trip limit of 1,500 lb (680 
kg) would result in a lower revenue reduction than the preferred option 
because revenue gains from a longer fishing season would outweigh 
revenue losses from a lower trip limit. For the other two trip limit 
options however, the trip limits are so low that revenue gains from a 
longer fishing season would not outweigh revenue losses from a lower 
trip limit. Profit reductions would also likely occur with these other 
options.
    The third alternative, which would eliminate the March 1--May 31 
seasonal closure, includes 4 trip limit options. The trip limit options 
are 2,000 lb (907 kg), 1,500 lb (680 kg), 1,000 lb (454 kg), or 500 lb 
(227 kg). Given the preferred ACL/ACT alternative, these options would 
result in revenue reductions of $123,000, $120,000, $115,000, and 
$110,000 respectively. These revenue reductions for trip limits not 
linked with a seasonal closure are greater when compared to trip limits 
linked with a seasonal closure because they would result in a longer 
quota closure during the fishing year. Profit reductions would also 
likely occur with these options.
    In Amendment 35, the Council considered several actions for which 
the no-action alternative was the preferred alternative.
    Four alternatives were considered for modifying the recreational 
minimum size limit for greater amberjack. The first alternative is the 
no action alternative, which will not affect the profits of for-hire 
vessels. The other alternatives would raise the recreational minimum 
size limit to 32 in (81 cm), 34 in (86 cm), or 36 in (91 cm), fork 
length. These other alternatives would possibly result in for-hire 
vessel profit reductions to the extent that some trips would be 
cancelled.
    Five alternatives were considered for modifying the recreational 
closed season for greater amberjack. The preferred alternative is the 
no action alternative, and so would not affect the profits of for-hire 
vessels. The second alternative would remove the fixed closed season so 
that the recreational sector would open on January 1 and would remain 
open until the recreational ACT (recreational quota) is reached. This 
alternative would result in a short-term profit increase of $75,000 to 
charterboats and an unknown profit increase to headboats under the 
preferred ACL/ACT alternative. These profit increases hinge on the 
assumption that displaced effort due to the quota closure would not 
shift to the open season. Any effort shift would likely negate such 
profit increases.
    The third alternative would modify the recreational sector's 
seasonal closure to March 1-May 31. This alternative would result in a 
profit loss of approximately $300,000 to charterboats and an unknown 
profit loss to headboats. Profit losses would be less if displaced 
effort from the closed months shifted to the open months. The fourth 
alternative would modify the recreational seasonal closure to January 
1-May 31. This alternative would result in a profit loss of 
approximately $400,000 to charterboats and an unknown profit loss to 
headboats. Profit losses would be less if displaced effort from the 
closed months shifted to the open months. The fifth alternative would 
modify the recreational seasonal closure to June 1-July 23. In the 
absence of effort shifting, this alternative would result in a short-
term profit increase of approximately $80,000 to charterboats and an 
unknown profit increase to headboats. Any effort shift would tend to 
negate these profit increases.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

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

    Dated: July 12, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

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

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

    2. In Sec.  622.42, paragraphs (a)(1)(v) and (a)(2)(ii) are revised 
to read as follows:


Sec.  622.42  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * * (1) * * *
    (v) Greater amberjack--409,000 lb (185,519 kg), round weight.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Recreational quota for greater amberjack. The recreational 
quota for greater amberjack is 1,130,000 lb (512,559 kg), round weight.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  622.44, paragraph (d) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.44  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (d) Gulf greater amberjack. Until the quota specified in Sec.  
622.42(a)(1)(v) is reached, 2,000 lb (907 kg), round weight. See Sec.  
622.43(a)(1)(i) for the limitations regarding greater amberjack after 
the quota is reached.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  622.49, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows:


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

    (a) * * * (1) Greater amberjack. (i) Commercial sector--(A) If 
commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to 
reach the annual catch target (ACT) specified in Sec.  622.42(a)(1)(v) 
(commercial quota), 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.

[[Page 42481]]

    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph (a)(1)(i)(A) 
of this section, if commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, 
exceed the commercial ACL, as specified in (a)(1)(i)(C) of this 
section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal 
Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to 
reduce the commercial ACT (commercial quota) and the commercial ACL for 
that following year by the amount of any commercial ACL overage in the 
prior fishing year.
    (C) The commercial ACL for greater amberjack is 481,000 lb (218,178 
kg), round weight.
    (ii) Recreational sector--(A) If recreational landings, as 
estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the ACT specified 
in Sec.  622.42(a)(2)(ii) (recreational quota), 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.
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(a)(1)(ii)(A) of this section, if recreational landings, as estimated 
by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL, as specified in (a)(1)(ii)(C) 
of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year to reduce the recreational ACT (recreational quota) and the 
recreational ACL for that following year by the amount of any 
recreational ACL overage in the prior fishing year.
    (C) The recreational ACL for greater amberjack is 1,299,000 lb 
(589,216 kg), round weight.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-17491 Filed 7-18-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P