Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Fishery; Framework Adjustment 2, 51504-51506 [2014-20687]

Download as PDF 51504 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Rules and Regulations wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Therefore, effective August 26, 2014, the Eastern U.S./Canada Area is closed for the remainder of the fishing year, through April 30, 2015, to all common pool vessels. Effective August 26, 2014, it is unlawful for a common pool vessel to declare into, enter, or fish in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. This restriction does not apply to the groundfish trip of a common pool vessel that crossed the VMS demarcation line before August 26, 2014. The Eastern U.S./Canada Area will reopen to common pool vessels at the beginning of fishing year 2015, on May 1, 2015. Any overages of an Eastern Georges Bank TAC will be deducted from the following fishing year. Weekly quota monitoring reports for the common pool fishery can be found on our Web site at: http:// www.nero.noaa.gov/ro/fso/ MultiMonReports.htm. We will continue to monitor common pool catch through vessel trip reports, dealer-reported landings, vessel monitoring system catch reports, and other available information and, if necessary, we will make additional adjustments to common pool management measures. Classification This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment and the 30-day delayed effectiveness period because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The Eastern U.S./Canada Area closure is required by regulation in order to reduce the probability of the common pool fishery exceeding its TAC of Eastern Georges Bank cod, or if exceeded, reduce further overage of the TAC. Any overages of the common pool’s TACs would undermine conservation objectives and trigger the implementation of accountability measures that would have negative economic impacts on common pool vessels. The data and information showing that Eastern Georges Bank cod is projected to have exceeded its TAC for the stock only became available recently. The time necessary to provide for prior notice and comment, and a 30day delay in effectiveness, would prevent NMFS from implementing the necessary Eastern U.S./Canada Area closure in a timely manner, which could undermine management objectives of the NE Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 and cause negative economic impacts to the common pool fishery. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 26, 2014. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2014–20649 Filed 8–26–14; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 140220160–4692–02] RIN 0648–BD99 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Fishery; Framework Adjustment 2 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS approves and implements measures in Framework Adjustment 2 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan, which was developed by the New England Fishery Management Council. The approved management measures include updated skate fishery specifications for the 2014–2015 fishing years and changes to skate reporting requirements. The action is necessary to update the Fishery Management Plan to be consistent with the best available scientific information, and improve management of the skate fisheries. The rule is expected to help conserve skate stocks, while maintaining economic opportunities for the skate fisheries. DATES: This rule is effective September 29, 2014. ADDRESSES: Copies of the framework, including the Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR) and other supporting documents for the action are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The framework is also accessible via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov. NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), which is contained in the Classification section of this rule. Copies of the FRFA and the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available from the Regional SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930, and are available via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tobey Curtis, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9273. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The New England Fishery Management Council is responsible for developing management measures for skate fisheries in the northeastern U.S. through the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (Skate FMP). Seven skate species are managed under the Skate FMP: Winter; little; thorny; barndoor; smooth; clearnose; and rosette. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee reviews the best available information on the status of skate populations and makes recommendations on acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the skate complex (all seven species). This recommendation is then used as the basis for catch limits and other management measures for the skate fisheries. This final rule approves and implements measures contained in Framework Adjustment 2 to the Skate FMP. The Council developed Framework 2 to update the skate fishery specifications (i.e., annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), total allowable landings (TAL), and possession limits) for fishing years 2014 and 2015. Framework 2 also includes adjustments to reporting requirements for skate vessels and dealers. A proposed rule to implement the measures contained in Framework 2 published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2014 (79 FR 29154), with public comments accepted through June 20, 2014. Details concerning the development of Framework 2 and the proposed measures were contained in the preamble of the proposed rule and are not repeated here. Final Measures 2014–2015 Specifications Based upon the recommendations of the Council, the Skate ABC and associated catch limits are being reduced approximately 30 percent from 2013 levels. The catch reduction is largely based on declines in trawl survey biomass for the more abundant little and winter skate species (refer to the EA for more details; see ADDRESSES). NMFS is implementing the following specifications for the skate fishery for the 2014–2015 fishing years: E:\FR\FM\29AUR1.SGM 29AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Rules and Regulations wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 1. Skate ABC and ACL of 78.218 million lb (35,479 mt); 2. ACT of 58.663 million lb (26,609 mt); 3. TAL of 36.123 million lb (16,385 mt) (the skate wing fishery is allocated 66.5 percent of the TAL (24.022 million lb (10,896 mt)) and the skate bait fishery is allocated 33.5 percent of the TAL (12.101 million lb (5,489 mt)), divided into three seasons according to the regulations at § 648.322); 4. Status quo skate bait possession limit, as defined in § 648.322(c): 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) whole weight per trip for vessels carrying a valid Skate Bait Letter of Authorization; and 5. Status quo skate wing possession limits, as defined in § 648.322(b): 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) wing weight per trip for Season I (May 1 through August 31), and 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) wing weight per trip for Season II (September 1 through April 30) for vessels fishing on a Northeast Multispecies, Monkfish, or Scallop Day-at-Sea. The Northeast Multispecies Category-B Day-at-Sea possession limit remains at 220 lb (100 kg) wing weight per trip, and the nonDay-at-Sea incidental possession limit remains at 500 lb (227 kg) wing weight per trip. NMFS is not implementing any changes to the existing in-season incidental possession limit trigger points (85 percent in the wing fishery, 90 percent in the bait fishery). While these reductions in catch limits are expected to address the current overfishing status for winter skates (not overfished), the Council intends to develop a new skate action during 2014 to address overfishing and rebuild overfished thorny skates. Vessel and Dealer Reporting Requirements A long-term goal of the Skate FMP has been to improve species-specific skate catch information. Through this final rule, fishing vessels and dealers will no longer be permitted to report ‘‘unclassified skate,’’ which hinders single-species assessment and management efforts. Skate bait vessels and dealers are now required to report landings by species from among the following options: Winter skate; little skate; little/winter skate (unknown mix of these two species); barndoor skate; smooth skate; thorny skate; clearnose skate; or rosette skate. Skate wing vessels and dealers are now required to report landings by species from among these options: Winter skate; barndoor skate; thorny skate; or clearnose skate. These reporting options have always been available to vessels and dealers, but they have been uncommonly used. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 Based upon NMFS port sampling data, over 98 percent of skate wing fishery landings are composed of winter skate, so it is expected that most of the ‘‘unclassified’’ skate wing landings would translate into ‘‘winter skate’’ landings. Similarly, approximately 90 percent of skate bait landings are composed of little skate, with the remainder being largely comprised of juvenile winter skates. Therefore, ‘‘unclassified’’ landings in the bait fishery are expected to translate into ‘‘little skate’’ or ‘‘little/winter skate’’ landings. While in most circumstances it is unlawful to retain, land, or possess barndoor, thorny, and smooth skates, vessels and fish dealers must still report the unauthorized landing of these species when they occur. Outreach, education, and continued monitoring of landings by NMFS will aid fishing vessels and dealers with this transition. Comments and Responses Only a single comment was received on the proposed rule. No changes were made to the final rule as a result of the comment. Comment: A marine conservation organization commented that it was largely supportive of the proposed skate fishery specifications, but suggested that more should be done to rebuild the overfished thorny skate. Additionally, they suggested that reporting options for all seven skate species should be maintained in the skate wing fishery (rather than just for the four species that are considered of marketable size for the wing market). Response: NMFS and the Council acknowledge the overfished condition of thorny skate, and the Council is expected to start developing a new action to address thorny skate rebuilding later this year. Thorny skate is already a prohibited species, and potential additional measures to address thorny skate rebuilding could not be analyzed in time to be considered within Framework 2. With respect to the reporting options, the Council recommended, and NMFS agrees, that little, smooth, and rosette skate reporting options are not necessary in the wing fishery at this time, because those species are not currently landed in the skate wing fishery due to their small size. If market conditions change, reporting options for those species can be added in the future. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has made a determination that this rule is PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 51505 consistent with the Skate FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This action has been determined to be not significant for the purpose of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. Pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), NMFS has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in support of this action. The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS’ response to those comments, relevant analyses contained in the action and its EA, and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action in this rule. A copy of the analyses and the EA are available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA was published in the proposed rule for this action and is not repeated here. A description of why this action was considered, the objectives of, and the legal basis for this rule is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final rule and is not repeated here. A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency’s Assessment of Such Issues, and Statement of Any Changes Made in the Proposed Rule as a Result of Such Comments Only one comment was received on the proposed rule. For a summary of the comment, and NMFS’ response, see the Comments and Responses section above. The comment did not raise any issues or concerns related to the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule more generally, and no changes were made to the rule as a result of the comment. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities To Which the Rule Would Apply This rule will impact fishing vessels, including commercial fishing entities. In 2012, there were 2,265 vessels that held an open access skate permit. However, not all of those vessels are active participants in the fishery. If two or more vessels have identical owners, these vessels should be considered to be part of the same firm, because they may have the same owners. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), firms are classified as finfish or shellfish firms based on the activity which they derive the most revenue. Using the $5.5M cutoff for shellfish firms (NAICS 114112) and the $20.5M cutoff for finfish firms (NAICS 114111), there are E:\FR\FM\29AUR1.SGM 29AUR1 51506 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2014 / Rules and Regulations 526 active fishing firms, of which 519 are small entities and 7 are large entities. On average, for small entities, skate is responsible for a small fraction of landings, and active participants derive a small share of gross receipts from the skate fishery (approximately 34 percent in 2011 and 2012 fishing years came from skate revenue). wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. This rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules. Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes During 2012, total revenues from skate landings were valued at approximately $6.6 million. The 2012 data are representative of an averagelandings skate year, whereas the 2011 data are representative of a recent highlandings skate year. Compared to the no action alternative, the Preferred Alternative’s reduction in the skate TALs (30 percent) could reduce potential annual skate revenues. However, the fishing year 2012 and 2013 skate landings were below the TAL implemented by this action, suggesting that it is unlikely that potential revenue losses would be directly commensurate with the TAL reduction. If skate landings in 2014 and 2015 are comparable to those observed in 2012 and 2013, then the skate fishery may experience no loss of skate revenue, but may actually come closer to fully harvesting the available amount of landings. The preferred (status quo) skate wing and bait possession limit alternatives were selected because they have a high likelihood of providing a consistent rate of skate landings for the entire fishing year, while likely achieving 100 percent of the respective TALs. Alternatives with lower possession limits (one alternative in each fishery: 1,500 lb (680 kg)/2,400 lb (1,089 kg) in the wing fishery; 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) in the bait fishery) would increase the likelihood of not achieving the proposed TAL by the end of the year, resulting in losses of potential skate revenues. A single alternative for a higher skate wing possession limit (5,000 lb (2,268 kg)) was not preferred because it was projected to reach the in-season incidental possession limit trigger point (85 percent of the TAL) early in the VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:18 Aug 28, 2014 Jkt 232001 fishing year, effectively closing the directed skate wing fishery for part of the year, which would result in distributional shifts of benefits from late-season harvesters to summer harvesters. Changes to skate vessel and dealer reporting requirements are administrative measures, and the preferred and no action alternatives have no associated economic impacts. Vessels and dealers are already required to report the skates that they catch/ purchase. Small Entity Compliance Guide Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as small entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of this final rule are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, and the guide, i.e., permit holder letter, will be sent to all holders of permits for the skate fishery. The guide and this final rule will be available upon request, and posted on the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office’s Web site at www.nero.noaa.gov. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: August 25, 2014. Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES (iii) Dealer reporting requirements for skates. In addition to the requirements under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, dealers shall report the species of skates received as specified in this paragraph. Species of skates received as bait shall be identified according to the following categories: Winter skate, little skate, little/winter skate, barndoor skate, smooth skate, thorny skate, clearnose skate, and rosette skate. Species of skates received as wings (or other product forms not used for bait) shall be identified according to the following categories: Winter skate, barndoor skate, thorny skate, and clearnose skate. NMFS will provide dealers with a skate species identification guide. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (iii) Vessel reporting requirements for skates. In addition to the requirements under paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, the owner or operator of any vessel issued a skate permit shall report the species of skates landed as specified in this paragraph. Species of skates landed for bait shall be identified according to the following categories: Winter skate, little skate, little/winter skate, barndoor skate, smooth skate, thorny skate, clearnose skate, and rosette skate. Species of skates landed as wings (or other product forms not used for bait) shall be identified according to the following categories: Winter skate, barndoor skate, thorny skate, and clearnose skate. Discards of skates shall be reported according to two size classes, large skates (greater than or equal to 23 inches (58.42 cm) in total length) and small skates (less than 23 inches (58.42 cm) in total length). NMFS will provide vessel owners or operators that intend to land skates with a skate identification guide to assist in this data collection program. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2014–20687 Filed 8–28–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.7, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (b)(1)(iii) to read as follows: ■ § 648.7 Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. (a) * * * (1) * * * PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\29AUR1.SGM 29AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 168 (Friday, August 29, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51504-51506]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-20687]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140220160-4692-02]
RIN 0648-BD99


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate 
Fishery; Framework Adjustment 2

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS approves and implements measures in Framework Adjustment 
2 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan, which was 
developed by the New England Fishery Management Council. The approved 
management measures include updated skate fishery specifications for 
the 2014-2015 fishing years and changes to skate reporting 
requirements. The action is necessary to update the Fishery Management 
Plan to be consistent with the best available scientific information, 
and improve management of the skate fisheries. The rule is expected to 
help conserve skate stocks, while maintaining economic opportunities 
for the skate fisheries.

DATES: This rule is effective September 29, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the framework, including the Environmental 
Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR) and other supporting 
documents for the action are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive 
Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 
2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The framework is also accessible via the 
Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.
    NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), which 
is contained in the Classification section of this rule. Copies of the 
FRFA and the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available from the 
Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 
NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930, and are available 
via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tobey Curtis, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9273.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The New England Fishery Management Council is responsible for 
developing management measures for skate fisheries in the northeastern 
U.S. through the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (Skate 
FMP). Seven skate species are managed under the Skate FMP: Winter; 
little; thorny; barndoor; smooth; clearnose; and rosette. The Council's 
Scientific and Statistical Committee reviews the best available 
information on the status of skate populations and makes 
recommendations on acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the skate 
complex (all seven species). This recommendation is then used as the 
basis for catch limits and other management measures for the skate 
fisheries.
    This final rule approves and implements measures contained in 
Framework Adjustment 2 to the Skate FMP. The Council developed 
Framework 2 to update the skate fishery specifications (i.e., annual 
catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), total allowable landings 
(TAL), and possession limits) for fishing years 2014 and 2015. 
Framework 2 also includes adjustments to reporting requirements for 
skate vessels and dealers. A proposed rule to implement the measures 
contained in Framework 2 published in the Federal Register on May 21, 
2014 (79 FR 29154), with public comments accepted through June 20, 
2014. Details concerning the development of Framework 2 and the 
proposed measures were contained in the preamble of the proposed rule 
and are not repeated here.

Final Measures

2014-2015 Specifications

    Based upon the recommendations of the Council, the Skate ABC and 
associated catch limits are being reduced approximately 30 percent from 
2013 levels. The catch reduction is largely based on declines in trawl 
survey biomass for the more abundant little and winter skate species 
(refer to the EA for more details; see ADDRESSES). NMFS is implementing 
the following specifications for the skate fishery for the 2014-2015 
fishing years:

[[Page 51505]]

    1. Skate ABC and ACL of 78.218 million lb (35,479 mt);
    2. ACT of 58.663 million lb (26,609 mt);
    3. TAL of 36.123 million lb (16,385 mt) (the skate wing fishery is 
allocated 66.5 percent of the TAL (24.022 million lb (10,896 mt)) and 
the skate bait fishery is allocated 33.5 percent of the TAL (12.101 
million lb (5,489 mt)), divided into three seasons according to the 
regulations at Sec.  648.322);
    4. Status quo skate bait possession limit, as defined in Sec.  
648.322(c): 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) whole weight per trip for vessels 
carrying a valid Skate Bait Letter of Authorization; and
    5. Status quo skate wing possession limits, as defined in Sec.  
648.322(b): 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) wing weight per trip for Season I (May 
1 through August 31), and 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) wing weight per trip for 
Season II (September 1 through April 30) for vessels fishing on a 
Northeast Multispecies, Monkfish, or Scallop Day-at-Sea. The Northeast 
Multispecies Category-B Day-at-Sea possession limit remains at 220 lb 
(100 kg) wing weight per trip, and the non-Day-at-Sea incidental 
possession limit remains at 500 lb (227 kg) wing weight per trip.
    NMFS is not implementing any changes to the existing in-season 
incidental possession limit trigger points (85 percent in the wing 
fishery, 90 percent in the bait fishery). While these reductions in 
catch limits are expected to address the current overfishing status for 
winter skates (not overfished), the Council intends to develop a new 
skate action during 2014 to address overfishing and rebuild overfished 
thorny skates.

Vessel and Dealer Reporting Requirements

    A long-term goal of the Skate FMP has been to improve species-
specific skate catch information. Through this final rule, fishing 
vessels and dealers will no longer be permitted to report 
``unclassified skate,'' which hinders single-species assessment and 
management efforts. Skate bait vessels and dealers are now required to 
report landings by species from among the following options: Winter 
skate; little skate; little/winter skate (unknown mix of these two 
species); barndoor skate; smooth skate; thorny skate; clearnose skate; 
or rosette skate. Skate wing vessels and dealers are now required to 
report landings by species from among these options: Winter skate; 
barndoor skate; thorny skate; or clearnose skate. These reporting 
options have always been available to vessels and dealers, but they 
have been uncommonly used.
    Based upon NMFS port sampling data, over 98 percent of skate wing 
fishery landings are composed of winter skate, so it is expected that 
most of the ``unclassified'' skate wing landings would translate into 
``winter skate'' landings. Similarly, approximately 90 percent of skate 
bait landings are composed of little skate, with the remainder being 
largely comprised of juvenile winter skates. Therefore, 
``unclassified'' landings in the bait fishery are expected to translate 
into ``little skate'' or ``little/winter skate'' landings. While in 
most circumstances it is unlawful to retain, land, or possess barndoor, 
thorny, and smooth skates, vessels and fish dealers must still report 
the unauthorized landing of these species when they occur. Outreach, 
education, and continued monitoring of landings by NMFS will aid 
fishing vessels and dealers with this transition.

Comments and Responses

    Only a single comment was received on the proposed rule. No changes 
were made to the final rule as a result of the comment.
    Comment: A marine conservation organization commented that it was 
largely supportive of the proposed skate fishery specifications, but 
suggested that more should be done to rebuild the overfished thorny 
skate. Additionally, they suggested that reporting options for all 
seven skate species should be maintained in the skate wing fishery 
(rather than just for the four species that are considered of 
marketable size for the wing market).
    Response: NMFS and the Council acknowledge the overfished condition 
of thorny skate, and the Council is expected to start developing a new 
action to address thorny skate rebuilding later this year. Thorny skate 
is already a prohibited species, and potential additional measures to 
address thorny skate rebuilding could not be analyzed in time to be 
considered within Framework 2. With respect to the reporting options, 
the Council recommended, and NMFS agrees, that little, smooth, and 
rosette skate reporting options are not necessary in the wing fishery 
at this time, because those species are not currently landed in the 
skate wing fishery due to their small size. If market conditions 
change, reporting options for those species can be added in the future.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has 
made a determination that this rule is consistent with the Skate FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This action has been determined to be not significant for the 
purpose of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    Pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
NMFS has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in 
support of this action. The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised 
by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS' response to those 
comments, relevant analyses contained in the action and its EA, and a 
summary of the analyses completed to support the action in this rule. A 
copy of the analyses and the EA are available from the Council (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA was published in the proposed rule 
for this action and is not repeated here. A description of why this 
action was considered, the objectives of, and the legal basis for this 
rule is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and this final 
rule and is not repeated here.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Proposed Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    Only one comment was received on the proposed rule. For a summary 
of the comment, and NMFS' response, see the Comments and Responses 
section above. The comment did not raise any issues or concerns related 
to the IRFA or the economic impacts of the rule more generally, and no 
changes were made to the rule as a result of the comment.

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

    This rule will impact fishing vessels, including commercial fishing 
entities. In 2012, there were 2,265 vessels that held an open access 
skate permit. However, not all of those vessels are active participants 
in the fishery. If two or more vessels have identical owners, these 
vessels should be considered to be part of the same firm, because they 
may have the same owners. According to the Small Business 
Administration (SBA), firms are classified as finfish or shellfish 
firms based on the activity which they derive the most revenue. Using 
the $5.5M cutoff for shellfish firms (NAICS 114112) and the $20.5M 
cutoff for finfish firms (NAICS 114111), there are

[[Page 51506]]

526 active fishing firms, of which 519 are small entities and 7 are 
large entities. On average, for small entities, skate is responsible 
for a small fraction of landings, and active participants derive a 
small share of gross receipts from the skate fishery (approximately 34 
percent in 2011 and 2012 fishing years came from skate revenue).

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements. This rule does not duplicate, overlap, 
or conflict with other Federal rules.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes

    During 2012, total revenues from skate landings were valued at 
approximately $6.6 million. The 2012 data are representative of an 
average-landings skate year, whereas the 2011 data are representative 
of a recent high-landings skate year. Compared to the no action 
alternative, the Preferred Alternative's reduction in the skate TALs 
(30 percent) could reduce potential annual skate revenues. However, the 
fishing year 2012 and 2013 skate landings were below the TAL 
implemented by this action, suggesting that it is unlikely that 
potential revenue losses would be directly commensurate with the TAL 
reduction. If skate landings in 2014 and 2015 are comparable to those 
observed in 2012 and 2013, then the skate fishery may experience no 
loss of skate revenue, but may actually come closer to fully harvesting 
the available amount of landings.
    The preferred (status quo) skate wing and bait possession limit 
alternatives were selected because they have a high likelihood of 
providing a consistent rate of skate landings for the entire fishing 
year, while likely achieving 100 percent of the respective TALs. 
Alternatives with lower possession limits (one alternative in each 
fishery: 1,500 lb (680 kg)/2,400 lb (1,089 kg) in the wing fishery; 
20,000 lb (9,072 kg) in the bait fishery) would increase the likelihood 
of not achieving the proposed TAL by the end of the year, resulting in 
losses of potential skate revenues. A single alternative for a higher 
skate wing possession limit (5,000 lb (2,268 kg)) was not preferred 
because it was projected to reach the in-season incidental possession 
limit trigger point (85 percent of the TAL) early in the fishing year, 
effectively closing the directed skate wing fishery for part of the 
year, which would result in distributional shifts of benefits from 
late-season harvesters to summer harvesters.
    Changes to skate vessel and dealer reporting requirements are 
administrative measures, and the preferred and no action alternatives 
have no associated economic impacts. Vessels and dealers are already 
required to report the skates that they catch/purchase.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as 
small entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of this final rule 
are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, and 
the guide, i.e., permit holder letter, will be sent to all holders of 
permits for the skate fishery. The guide and this final rule will be 
available upon request, and posted on the Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office's Web site at www.nero.noaa.gov.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 25, 2014.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

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

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.7, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (b)(1)(iii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  648.7  Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Dealer reporting requirements for skates. In addition to the 
requirements under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, dealers shall 
report the species of skates received as specified in this paragraph. 
Species of skates received as bait shall be identified according to the 
following categories: Winter skate, little skate, little/winter skate, 
barndoor skate, smooth skate, thorny skate, clearnose skate, and 
rosette skate. Species of skates received as wings (or other product 
forms not used for bait) shall be identified according to the following 
categories: Winter skate, barndoor skate, thorny skate, and clearnose 
skate. NMFS will provide dealers with a skate species identification 
guide.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Vessel reporting requirements for skates. In addition to the 
requirements under paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, the owner or 
operator of any vessel issued a skate permit shall report the species 
of skates landed as specified in this paragraph. Species of skates 
landed for bait shall be identified according to the following 
categories: Winter skate, little skate, little/winter skate, barndoor 
skate, smooth skate, thorny skate, clearnose skate, and rosette skate. 
Species of skates landed as wings (or other product forms not used for 
bait) shall be identified according to the following categories: Winter 
skate, barndoor skate, thorny skate, and clearnose skate. Discards of 
skates shall be reported according to two size classes, large skates 
(greater than or equal to 23 inches (58.42 cm) in total length) and 
small skates (less than 23 inches (58.42 cm) in total length). NMFS 
will provide vessel owners or operators that intend to land skates with 
a skate identification guide to assist in this data collection program.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2014-20687 Filed 8-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P