Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; California Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery; Vessel Monitoring System and Pre-Trip Notification Requirements, 10392-10397 [2015-03955]

Download as PDF 10392 225.7010–4 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Implementation. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; trip limit reduction. into two 6-month time periods, January through June and July through December. For the January 1 through June 30, 2015, fishing season, the commercial quota is 394,829 lb (179,091 kg), gutted weight (438,260 lb (198,791 kg), round weight), as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(4)(i)(C). Under 50 CFR 622.191(a)(6)(ii), NMFS is required to reduce the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper from 1,000 lb (454 kg), gutted weight (1,110 lb (503 kg), round weight), to 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight (555 lb (252 kg), round weight), when 75 percent of the fishing season quota is reached or projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register, as implemented by the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 18 (78 FR 47574, August 6, 2013). Based on current information, NMFS has determined that 75 percent of the available commercial quota for the January 1 through June 30, 2015, fishing season for vermilion snapper will be reached by March 2, 2015. Accordingly, NMFS is reducing the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper to 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight (555 lb (252 kg), round weight), in or from the South Atlantic EEZ at 12:01 a.m., local time, on March 2, 2015. This 500-lb (227-kg), gutted weight, trip limit will remain in effect until July 1, 2015, or until the quota is reached and the commercial sector closes, whichever occurs first. NMFS reduces the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic to 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight. This trip limit reduction is necessary to protect the South Atlantic vermilion snapper resource. DATES: This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 2, 2015, until 12:01 a.m., local time, July 1, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Britni LaVine, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824– 5305, email: britni.lavine@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery includes vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared the FMP and is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. The commercial quota for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic is divided Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic vermilion snapper and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.191(a)(6)(ii) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment. This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this commercial trip limit reduction constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), because prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such (a) 10 U.S.C. 2534(h) prohibits the use of contract clauses or certifications to implement this restriction. (b) Agencies shall accomplish implementation of this restriction through use of management and oversight techniques that achieve the objectives of this section without imposing a significant management burden on the Government or the contractor involved. [FR Doc. 2015–03855 Filed 2–25–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 130312235–3658–02] RIN 0648–XD733 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Resources of the South Atlantic; Trip Limit Reduction AGENCY: rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 procedures are unnecessary, because the rule establishing the trip limit has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the trip limit reduction. They are contrary to the public interest, because there is a need to immediately implement this action to protect the vermilion snapper resource since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action would require time and would increase the probability that the commercial sector could exceed the quota. For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 23, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–04024 Filed 2–23–15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140528460–5122–02] RIN 0648–BE25 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; California Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery; Vessel Monitoring System and Pre-Trip Notification Requirements National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS is issuing regulations that require use of a NMFS-approved vessel monitoring system (VMS) and institute a pre-trip notification requirement for West Coast large-mesh swordfish drift gillnet (DGN) vessel owners and operators. The DGN fishery operates under the authority of the Federal Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP). Installing and operating VMS on vessels in this fishery will provide NMFS and law enforcement personnel with the ability to monitor the DGN fishery for compliance with conservation measures, efficiently deploy agents to inspect vessels, and provide the ability SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1 rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations to more closely examine and compare the distribution of observed and unobserved fishing effort. The pre-trip notification will assist NMFS with timely and efficient placement of NMFS-trained observers on board DGN vessels. This action implements the recommendations of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and satisfies terms and conditions of the NMFS’ 2013 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Biological Opinion (Opinion). DATES: This final rule is effective on March 30, 2015, except for the amendments to paragraphs (l), (o), and (p) of § 660.705 and paragraphs (f)(2) through (g)(5) of § 660.713. Those paragraphs contain collection-ofinformation requirements that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has not yet approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act. NMFS will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of these amendments. ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents that were prepared for this final rule, including the Regulatory Impact Review and the proposed rule, are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2014–0116. A summary of the regulatory flexibility analysis was included in the proposed rule. These documents are also available from the Regional Administrator, NMFS, West Coast Regional Office, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA. 98115– 0070, or RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@ noaa.gov. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule may be submitted to the West Coast Region and by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395–7285. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Rhodes, NMFS, (562) 980–3231, or Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The DGN fishery is managed under the HMS FMP, which was prepared by the Council and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq., by regulations at 50 CFR part 660. Background On September 15, 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (79 FR 54950) that would add regulations at 50 CFR part 660, subpart K, to require use of a VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 NMFS-approved VMS and institute a 48-hour pre-trip call-in notification requirement for DGN vessel owners and operators. The proposed rule was open to public comment through September 30, 2014. The comments that were received are addressed in this rule. The proposed rule incorporated additional background information on the basis for the new regulations, including recommendations of the Council and information on temporary rules (78 FR 54548, September 4, 2013, and 79 FR 29377, May 22, 2014) that, among other measures, required the use of VMS and the pre-trip notification components being implemented with this rule, as well as the status of the DGN fishery’s compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act and ESA. New Regulations This final rule establishes regulations requiring DGN vessel owners and operators to use a NMFS-approved VMS and to notify NMFS prior to making a fishing trip that will use DGN gear. Installing and operating VMS on vessels in this fishery will allow NMFS and law enforcement personnel to monitor the DGN fishery for compliance with conservation measures, efficiently deploy personnel to inspect vessels, and more closely examine and compare the distribution of observed and unobserved fishing effort. The pre-trip notification will assist NMFS with timely and efficient placement of NMFS-trained observers on board DGN vessels. This final rule implements the recommendations of the Council and satisfies key terms and conditions of NMFS’ 2013 ESA Section 7 Opinion. Additional information regarding this Opinion can be found in the proposed rule (79 FR 54950). Pre-Trip Notification Requirements DGN vessel owners or operators will be required to notify the NMFS or the NMFS-designated observer provider at least 48 hours prior to departing on each fishing trip. The vessel owners or operators must provide their name, contact information, vessel name, port of departure, and estimated date and time of departure to the observer provider. Upon receipt of a pre-trip notification, the observer provider will notify the DGN vessel owner/operator whether their fishing trip has been selected for observer coverage. Additionally, DGN vessel owners and operators must provide the NMFS West Coast Division Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) with a declaration report before the vessel leaves port to fish with DGN gear in state or Federal PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 10393 waters. (See the regulatory text for pretrip notification and declaration reporting schedules and contact information.) VMS Requirements and Costs Vessel owners may choose the OLE type-approved VMS unit that best fits their needs. The unit cost, physical size, available features, transmission fees, and service packages vary among the different type-approved VMS mobile transceiver units (VMS unit). Current information on OLE type-approved VMS units can be obtained by contacting: OLE, 1315 East West Hwy, Suite 3301, Silver Spring, MD 20910–3282; telephone: (888) 210–9288; fax: (301) 427–0049. Or, by contacting NMFS OLE VMS Helpdesk: telephone: (888) 219– 9228; email: ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov. The business hours of the VMS Helpdesk are: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time. The vessel owner is responsible for all costs associated with the purchase, installation, and maintenance of the VMS unit, and for all charges levied by the mobile communications service provider as necessary to ensure the transmission of automatic position reports to NMFS. Federal funds are currently available for reimbursement of type-approved VMS units—up to $3,100 or as determined by the VMS Reimbursement Program. The availability of funds for reimbursement of the cost of purchasing a VMS unit is not guaranteed; rather, funds are available on a first-come first-served basis. To be eligible to receive reimbursement, the owner must submit proof of professional installation of the VMS unit to OLE in compliance with the requirements of the VMS Reimbursement Program. More information on the VMS Reimbursement Program can be obtained by calling the NMFS OLE VMS Helpdesk: telephone: (888) 219–9228, and online: http:// www.psmfc.org/program/vesselmonitoring-system-reimbursementprogram-vms?pid=17. Prior to fishing, the vessel owner, or the vessel operator on the owner’s behalf, is required to send an activation report to OLE. Activation of a VMS unit is required any time the unit is installed or reinstalled, any time the mobile communications service provider has changed, and any other time as directed by NMFS. Activation involves submitting a report to NMFS via mail, facsimile or email with information about the vessel, its fishing strategy, its owner or operator, and the VMS unit, as well as receiving confirmation from NMFS that the VMS unit is transmitting E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1 10394 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES position reports properly. (See the regulatory text for more information regarding day-to-day operation of VMS units, including activation reports, declaration reports, exemption reports, repairing and replacing units, and contact information for OLE and the Special Agent-in-Charge.) Public Comments and Responses Three written public comments were submitted during the proposed rulemaking stage. One comment came in the form of an Enforcement Consultants Report to the Council during the Council’s September 2014 meeting. The other comments included suggestions for additional restrictions on the DGN fleet that are beyond the scope of this action and are not addressed further. The summarized comments that pertained to this rulemaking and NMFS’ responses are below. Comment 1: Small-boat DGN fishermen based out of San Diego, CA, are being unfairly punished and should be exempted from this rule as they do not venture into the Pacific Leatherback Closure Area or other closed areas that are further offshore. Response: The VMS requirements provide assurance that permitted DGN vessels are complying with the regulations found at 50 CFR 660.713. Without VMS coverage for the entire fleet, it would be difficult to monitor compliance with important conservation measures such as closed areas. Furthermore, some of these closed areas, like the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area, which was effective in 2014 (79 FR 43268, July 25, 2015), occur in near-shore southern California waters, including areas close to San Diego, CA. Comment 2: We request that NMFS modify the rule to include a continuous transit requirement when operating in closed areas and increase the frequency of the signal transimission rate to 15 minutes for the VMS, consistent with the Enforcement Consultants Report to the Council at its September 2014 meeting. Response: NMFS recognizes the Enforcement Consultants’ recommendation to increase the VMS signal transmission rate to 15 minutes in conjunction with a continuous transit requirement to improve the ability of NMFS to monitor vessel activity in closed areas. NMFS examined VMS tracks of DGN vessels in consideration of continuous transit requirements and found that an addition of continuous transit provisions to this final rule would likely have impacts to the fleet that were not considered during the proposed rule stage. Additionally, VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 following the presentation of the Enforcement Consultants Report, the Council recommended that the VMS signal transmission rate for the DGN fishery not be further enhanced. The maker of the motion contended that such an enhancement was not the right tool for monitoring the DGN fishery since fishing with DGN gear takes several hours to execute once the net is set (e.g., 8 to 12 hour soak times), and further recommended that the Council consider other types of equipment better tailored to the monitoring needs of the fishery. The motion carried unanimously. This final rule is consistent with the Council’s recommendation during their September 2014 meeting. Changes From the Proposed Rule No substantive changes have been made to this rule since the proposed rule stage. To further clarify the specific contents, reporting frequency, and process for confirmation of receipt of declaration reports, additional information was provided at § 660.713, including paragraphs (f)(2)(i) and (f)(2)(ii), and paragraphs (g)(4)(ii) and (g)(4)(ii)(A). Classification The Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the DGN fishery for swordfish and is consistent with MSA and other applicable laws. Executive Order 12866 This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification and no other information has been received that would impact this determination. As a result, a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required and none was prepared. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) This final rule contains a collectionof-information requirement subject to the PRA. The pre-trip notification PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 requirement has been approved by the OMB under OMB Control Number 0648–0593. Public reporting burden for the pre-trip notification requirement is estimated to average 5 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The VMS requirement is still pending approval by OMB under OMB Control Number 0648–0498. Public reporting burden for compliance with the VMS requirements are estimated to include a one-time, 4-hour response time for installing a VMS unit and a 1-hour response time annually to maintain and repair a unit. Activation and on-off reports are estimated to average 5 minutes per response, including time to review instructions, prepare, and submit the reports. Send comments regarding burden estimates or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202–395–7285. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays a currently valid OMB control number. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: February 13, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows: ■ PART 660––FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. ■ 2. In § 660.702, the definitions for ‘‘Regional Administrator,’’ ‘‘SpecialAgent-In-Charge (SAC),’’ and ‘‘Vessel monitoring system unit (VMS unit)’’ are revised to read as follows: ■ § 660.702 Definitions. * * * * * Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator for the West E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Coast Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, or a designee. Special Agent-In-Charge (SAC) means the Special Agent-In-Charge, NMFS, Office of Enforcement, West Coast Division, or a designee of the Special Agent-In-Charge. * * * * * Vessel monitoring system unit (VMS unit) means an automated, remote system and mobile transceiver unit that is approved by NMFS and provides information about a vessel’s identity, location, and activity for the purposes of routine monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of area and time restrictions and other fishery management measures. 3. In § 660.705, paragraphs (l), (o), and (p) are revised and paragraphs (rr) and (ss) are added to read as follows: ■ § 660.705 Prohibitions. * * * * * (l) Fail to install, activate, repair, replace, carry, operate or maintain a VMS unit as required under § 660.712 and § 660.713. * * * * * (o) Fish for, catch, or harvest HMS with longline or drift gillnet gear without an operating VMS unit on board the vessel after installation of the VMS unit. (p) Possess on board a vessel without an operating VMS unit HMS harvested with longline or drift gillnet gear after installation of the VMS unit. * * * * * (rr) Fail to notify NMFS or the NMFSdesignated observer provider at least 48 hours prior to departure on a fishing trip using drift gillnet gear as required under § 660.713. (ss) Fail to submit a declaration report to the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement prior to departure on a fishing trip using drift gillnet gear as required under § 660.713. 4. In § 660.713, paragraphs (f) and (g) are added to read as follows: ■ § 660.713 Drift gillnet fishery. rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (f) Pre-trip notification requirements. (1) Drift gillnet vessel owners or operators are required to notify NMFS or the NMFS-designated observer provider at least 48 hours prior to departing on each fishing trip. The vessel owners or operators must communicate to the observer provider: the owner’s or operator’s name, contact information, vessel name, port of departure, estimated date and time of departure, and a telephone number at which the owner or operator may be VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 contacted during the business day (Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific Time) to indicate whether an observer will be required on the subject fishing trip. Contact information for the current observer provider can be obtained by calling the NMFS West Coast Region Sustainable Fisheries Division at 562–980–4025. (2) Drift gillnet vessel owners or operators must provide the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement for the West Coast Region (OLE) with a declaration report before the vessel leaves port to fish for thresher shark/swordfish with largemesh drift gillnet gear in state and federal waters between 0 and 200 nautical miles offshore of California, Oregon, or Washington. Declaration reports will include: The vessel name and/or identification number, and gear type. (i) Upon receipt of a declaration report, OLE will provide a confirmation code or receipt to confirm that a valid declaration report was received for the vessel. Retention of the confirmation code or receipt to verify that a valid declaration report was filed and the declaration requirement was met is the responsibility of the vessel owner or operator. (ii) The vessel operator must send a new declaration report before leaving port on a trip during which the fishing gear that will be used is different from the gear type most recently declared for the vessel. A declaration report will be valid until another declaration report revising the existing gear declaration is received by OLE. (iii) OLE’s declaration hotline is 1– 888–585–5518. The business hours for the OLE are Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific Time; voice messages left on the hotline will be retrieved at the start of the next business day. (g) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements. Drift gillnet vessel owners are required to install an OLE typeapproved VMS mobile transceiver unit (VMS unit) and to arrange for a OLE type-approved communications service provider to receive and relay transmissions to the OLE prior to fishing for thresher shark/swordfish with largemesh drift gillnet gear. (1) What is a VMS? A VMS consists of an OLE type-approved VMS unit that automatically determines the vessel’s position and transmits it to an OLE type-approved communications service provider. The communications service provider receives the transmission and relays it to the OLE. (2) What vessels are required to have a VMS? Any vessel registered for use with both a limited-entry California PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 10395 state large-mesh thresher shark/ swordfish drift gillnet permit and a federal highly migratory species permit that fishes in state or federal waters off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington (0–200 nm offshore). (3) How are VMS units and communications dervice providers approved by OLE? (i) VMS unit manufacturers or communication service providers will submit products or services to the OLE for evaluation based on the published specifications. (ii) The OLE will publish a list of OLE type-approved VMS units and communication service providers for the DGN fishery in the Federal Register or notify the public through other appropriate media; and the OLE may publish amendments to the list as necessary. (4) What are the vessel owner’s responsibilities? If you are a vessel owner that must participate in the VMS program, you or the vessel operator on your behalf must: (i) Obtain an OLE type-approved VMS unit and have it installed on board your vessel in accordance with the instructions provided by the OLE. You may obtain a copy of the VMS installation and operation instructions from the Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAC). (ii) Activate the VMS unit, submit an activation report and an initial declaration report, and receive confirmation from the OLE that the VMS transmissions are being received at least 72 hours prior to leaving port on a fishing trip for which VMS is required. Instructions for submitting an activation report may be obtained from the SAC. An activation report must again be submitted to the OLE following reinstallation of a VMS unit or change in service provider before the vessel may be used to fish in a fishery requiring the VMS. (A) Activation reports. If you are a vessel owner who must use VMS and you are activating a VMS unit for the first time, or reactivating a VMS unit following a reinstallation or change in service provider, you or the vessel operator on your behalf must fax to the OLE an activation report that includes: vessel name, vessel owner’s name, address and telephone number, vessel operator’s name, address and telephone number, USCG vessel documentation number/state registration number; and, if applicable, the relevant state and federal permit numbers for which vessel or owner is registered, VMS unit manufacturer, VMS communications service provider, VMS unit identification, and a statement signed and dated by the vessel owner E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1 rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES 10396 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations confirming compliance with the installation procedures provided by the SAC and identifying whether the VMS unit is primary or backup. Immediately following submission of an activation report, submit an initial declaration report as described in paragraph (f)(2) of this section using the OLE’s declaration hotline included in paragraph (f)(2)(iii) of this section. (B) Transferring ownership of the VMS unit. Ownership of the VMS unit may be transferred from one vessel owner to another vessel owner if all of the following documents are provided to the OLE: a new activation report, which identifies that the VMS unit was previously registered to another vessel, a notarized bill of sale showing proof of ownership of the VMS unit, and documentation from the communications service provider showing proof that the service agreement for the previous vessel was terminated and that a service agreement was established for the new vessel. (iii) Continuously operate and maintain the VMS unit in good working order 24 hours a day throughout the fishing year. The VMS unit must accurately transmit a signal indicating the vessel’s position at least once every hour, 24 hours a day throughout the year, unless a valid exemption report, as described in paragraph (g)(4)(iv)(F) of this section, has been confirmed by the OLE. A reduced signal transmission rate, at least once every 4 hours, may be authorized by the OLE when a vessel remains in port for an extended period of time. (iv) Submit an exemption report to be confirmed by the OLE as valid, as described at paragraph (g)(4)(iv)(F) of this section, and comply with all conditions and requirements of the VMS exemption identified in this section and specified in the exemption report for a vessel to be exempted from the requirement of continuously operating and maintaining the VMS unit 24 hours a day throughout the fishing year. (A) Haul out exemption. When it is anticipated that a vessel will be continuously out of the water for more than 7 consecutive days and the OLE has confirmed a valid exemption report has been received for the vessel, electrical power to the VMS unit may be removed and transmissions may be discontinued. Under this exemption, VMS transmissions can be discontinued from the time the vessel is removed from the water until the time that the vessel is placed back in the water. (B) Outside areas exemption. When the vessel will be continuously operating seaward of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ; beyond 200 nm) VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington for more than 7 consecutive days and the OLE has confirmed a valid exemption report has been received for the vessel, the VMS unit transmissions may be reduced or discontinued from the time the vessel leaves the EEZ off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington until the time that the vessel re-enters the EEZ off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington. If the vessel is equipped with a VMS unit that OLE has approved for this exemption and after the OLE has received an exemption report for the vessel, the vessel owner or operator can request that the OLE reduce or discontinue the VMS transmissions. (C) Long-term departure exemption. A vessel participating in the DGN fishery that is required to have VMS under paragraph (g) of this section may be exempted from VMS provisions after the end of the fishing season in which it fished, provided that a completed exemption report including a statement signed by the vessel owner indicating that the vessel will not be used to take and retain or possess or land swordfish taken in state or federal waters off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington during the upcoming fishing year is submitted to the OLE. (D) Emergency exemption. Vessels required to have VMS under paragraph (g) of this section may be exempted from VMS provisions in emergency situations that are beyond the vessel owner’s control, including but not limited to: fire, flooding, or extensive physical damage to critical areas of the vessel. A vessel owner may request an emergency exemption from the VMS requirements specified in paragraph (g) of this section for his/her vessel by contacting the OLE and submitting the following information in writing: the reasons for seeking an exemption including any supporting documents (e.g., repair invoices, photographs showing damage to the vessel, insurance claim forms, etc.), the time period for which the exemption is requested, and the location of the vessel while the exemption is in effect. The OLE will issue a written determination granting or denying the emergency exemption request. A vessel will not be covered by the emergency exemption until the OLE issues a determination granting the exemption. If an exemption is granted, the duration of the exemption will be specified in the OLE determination. (E) Submission of exemption reports. Long-term departure exemption reports must be signed by the vessel owner and submitted by fax or by emailing an electronic copy of the actual report to the OLE. If an emergency exemption PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 request will be submitted, initial contact with the OLE must be made by telephone, fax or email within 24 hours from when the emergency incident occurred. All emergency exemption requests must be submitted in writing within 72 hours from when the incident occurred. Submission methods for exemption reports, except long-term departures and emergency exemption requests, may include email, facsimile, or telephone. The OLE will provide, through appropriate media, instructions to the public on submitting exemption reports. Instructions and other information needed to make exemption reports may be mailed to the vessel owner’s address of record. Owners of vessels required to use the VMS who do not receive instructions by mail are responsible for contacting OLE during business hours at least 3 days before the exemption is needed to obtain information necessary for exemption reports. The OLE must be contacted during business hours (Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific Time). Any other categories of exemptions that have not been specified in paragraph (g) of this section may be submitted to the OLE through the VMS unit or another method deemed appropriate by the OLE. Before a request for a new category of exemption can be approved by OLE, it must be announced in the Federal Register. (F) Valid exemption reports. For an exemption report to be valid, the OLE must receive and confirm it at least 2 hours and not more than 24 hours before the exempted activities defined at paragraphs (g)(4)(iv)(A) through (D) of this section. An exemption report is valid until NMFS receives a report canceling the exemption. An exemption cancellation must be received at least 2 hours before the vessel re-enters the EEZ following an outside areas exemption; at least 2 hours before the vessel is placed back in the water following a haul-out exemption; or at least 2 hours before a vessel resumes fishing with a largemesh drift gillnet after a long-term departure exemption. If a vessel is required to submit an activation report under paragraph (g)(4)(ii) of this section before returning to fish, that report may substitute for the exemption cancellation. After an emergency situation occurs that disrupts the VMS transmission, initial contact must be made with the OLE within 24 hours and a written emergency exemption request submitted within 72 hours from when the incident occurred. If the emergency situation, upon which an emergency exemption is based, is resolved before E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 38 / Thursday, February 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations rmajette on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with RULES the exemption expires, an exemption cancellation must be received by OLE at least 2 hours before the vessel resumes fishing. (v) When aware that transmission of automatic position reports has been interrupted, or when notified by OLE that automatic position reports are not being received, contact OLE and follow the instructions provided to you. Such instructions may include, but are not limited to, manually communicating the vessel’s position to a location designated by the OLE or returning to port until the VMS unit is operable. (vi) After a fishing trip during which interruption of automatic position VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:38 Feb 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 reports has occurred, the vessel’s owner or operator must replace or repair the VMS unit prior to the vessel’s next fishing trip. Repair or reinstallation of a VMS unit or installation of a replacement unit, including any changes in communications service providers shall be in accordance with the instructions provided by the OLE. (vii) Make the VMS units available for inspection by OLE personnel, USCG personnel, state enforcement personnel or any authorized officer. (viii) Ensure that the VMS unit is not tampered with, disabled, destroyed, operated, or maintained improperly. PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 10397 (ix) Pay all charges levied by the communication service provider as necessary to ensure continuous operation of the VMS units. (5) What is the contact information for the OLE SAC? For issues related to dayto-day operation of VMS units, including declaration reports, activation reports and exemption reports, the SAC’s designee is the OLE VMS Program Manager’s office located at 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115–6349; phone: (888) 585–5518; fax: (206) 526–6528); and email: wcd.vms@noaa.gov. [FR Doc. 2015–03955 Filed 2–25–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\26FER1.SGM 26FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 38 (Thursday, February 26, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 10392-10397]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-03955]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 140528460-5122-02]
RIN 0648-BE25


Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Fisheries; 
California Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery; Vessel Monitoring System 
and Pre-Trip Notification Requirements

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is issuing regulations that require use of a NMFS-
approved vessel monitoring system (VMS) and institute a pre-trip 
notification requirement for West Coast large-mesh swordfish drift 
gillnet (DGN) vessel owners and operators. The DGN fishery operates 
under the authority of the Federal Fishery Management Plan for U.S. 
West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP). Installing 
and operating VMS on vessels in this fishery will provide NMFS and law 
enforcement personnel with the ability to monitor the DGN fishery for 
compliance with conservation measures, efficiently deploy agents to 
inspect vessels, and provide the ability

[[Page 10393]]

to more closely examine and compare the distribution of observed and 
unobserved fishing effort. The pre-trip notification will assist NMFS 
with timely and efficient placement of NMFS-trained observers on board 
DGN vessels. This action implements the recommendations of the Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council) and satisfies terms and conditions 
of the NMFS' 2013 Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Biological 
Opinion (Opinion).

DATES: This final rule is effective on March 30, 2015, except for the 
amendments to paragraphs (l), (o), and (p) of Sec.  660.705 and 
paragraphs (f)(2) through (g)(5) of Sec.  660.713. Those paragraphs 
contain collection-of-information requirements that the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has not yet approved under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. NMFS will publish a document in the Federal Register 
announcing the effective date of these amendments.

ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents that were prepared for this 
final rule, including the Regulatory Impact Review and the proposed 
rule, are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2014-0116. A summary of the 
regulatory flexibility analysis was included in the proposed rule. 
These documents are also available from the Regional Administrator, 
NMFS, West Coast Regional Office, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg 1, 
Seattle, WA. 98115-0070, or RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@noaa.gov. 
Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects 
of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final 
rule may be submitted to the West Coast Region and by email to 
OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Rhodes, NMFS, (562) 980-3231, or 
Amber.Rhodes@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  The DGN fishery is managed under the HMS 
FMP, which was prepared by the Council and is implemented under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq., by regulations at 50 CFR part 660.

Background

    On September 15, 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule in the 
Federal Register (79 FR 54950) that would add regulations at 50 CFR 
part 660, subpart K, to require use of a NMFS-approved VMS and 
institute a 48-hour pre-trip call-in notification requirement for DGN 
vessel owners and operators. The proposed rule was open to public 
comment through September 30, 2014. The comments that were received are 
addressed in this rule.
    The proposed rule incorporated additional background information on 
the basis for the new regulations, including recommendations of the 
Council and information on temporary rules (78 FR 54548, September 4, 
2013, and 79 FR 29377, May 22, 2014) that, among other measures, 
required the use of VMS and the pre-trip notification components being 
implemented with this rule, as well as the status of the DGN fishery's 
compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act and ESA.

New Regulations

    This final rule establishes regulations requiring DGN vessel owners 
and operators to use a NMFS-approved VMS and to notify NMFS prior to 
making a fishing trip that will use DGN gear. Installing and operating 
VMS on vessels in this fishery will allow NMFS and law enforcement 
personnel to monitor the DGN fishery for compliance with conservation 
measures, efficiently deploy personnel to inspect vessels, and more 
closely examine and compare the distribution of observed and unobserved 
fishing effort. The pre-trip notification will assist NMFS with timely 
and efficient placement of NMFS-trained observers on board DGN vessels. 
This final rule implements the recommendations of the Council and 
satisfies key terms and conditions of NMFS' 2013 ESA Section 7 Opinion. 
Additional information regarding this Opinion can be found in the 
proposed rule (79 FR 54950).

Pre-Trip Notification Requirements

    DGN vessel owners or operators will be required to notify the NMFS 
or the NMFS-designated observer provider at least 48 hours prior to 
departing on each fishing trip. The vessel owners or operators must 
provide their name, contact information, vessel name, port of 
departure, and estimated date and time of departure to the observer 
provider. Upon receipt of a pre-trip notification, the observer 
provider will notify the DGN vessel owner/operator whether their 
fishing trip has been selected for observer coverage. Additionally, DGN 
vessel owners and operators must provide the NMFS West Coast Division 
Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) with a declaration report before the 
vessel leaves port to fish with DGN gear in state or Federal waters. 
(See the regulatory text for pre-trip notification and declaration 
reporting schedules and contact information.)

VMS Requirements and Costs

    Vessel owners may choose the OLE type-approved VMS unit that best 
fits their needs. The unit cost, physical size, available features, 
transmission fees, and service packages vary among the different type-
approved VMS mobile transceiver units (VMS unit). Current information 
on OLE type-approved VMS units can be obtained by contacting: OLE, 1315 
East West Hwy, Suite 3301, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282; telephone: 
(888) 210-9288; fax: (301) 427-0049. Or, by contacting NMFS OLE VMS 
Helpdesk: telephone: (888) 219-9228; email: ole.helpdesk@noaa.gov. The 
business hours of the VMS Helpdesk are: Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.
    The vessel owner is responsible for all costs associated with the 
purchase, installation, and maintenance of the VMS unit, and for all 
charges levied by the mobile communications service provider as 
necessary to ensure the transmission of automatic position reports to 
NMFS. Federal funds are currently available for reimbursement of type-
approved VMS units--up to $3,100 or as determined by the VMS 
Reimbursement Program. The availability of funds for reimbursement of 
the cost of purchasing a VMS unit is not guaranteed; rather, funds are 
available on a first-come first-served basis. To be eligible to receive 
reimbursement, the owner must submit proof of professional installation 
of the VMS unit to OLE in compliance with the requirements of the VMS 
Reimbursement Program. More information on the VMS Reimbursement 
Program can be obtained by calling the NMFS OLE VMS Helpdesk: 
telephone: (888) 219-9228, and online: http://www.psmfc.org/program/vessel-monitoring-system-reimbursement-program-vms?pid=17.
    Prior to fishing, the vessel owner, or the vessel operator on the 
owner's behalf, is required to send an activation report to OLE. 
Activation of a VMS unit is required any time the unit is installed or 
reinstalled, any time the mobile communications service provider has 
changed, and any other time as directed by NMFS. Activation involves 
submitting a report to NMFS via mail, facsimile or email with 
information about the vessel, its fishing strategy, its owner or 
operator, and the VMS unit, as well as receiving confirmation from NMFS 
that the VMS unit is transmitting

[[Page 10394]]

position reports properly. (See the regulatory text for more 
information regarding day-to-day operation of VMS units, including 
activation reports, declaration reports, exemption reports, repairing 
and replacing units, and contact information for OLE and the Special 
Agent-in-Charge.)

Public Comments and Responses

    Three written public comments were submitted during the proposed 
rulemaking stage. One comment came in the form of an Enforcement 
Consultants Report to the Council during the Council's September 2014 
meeting. The other comments included suggestions for additional 
restrictions on the DGN fleet that are beyond the scope of this action 
and are not addressed further. The summarized comments that pertained 
to this rulemaking and NMFS' responses are below.
    Comment 1: Small-boat DGN fishermen based out of San Diego, CA, are 
being unfairly punished and should be exempted from this rule as they 
do not venture into the Pacific Leatherback Closure Area or other 
closed areas that are further offshore.
    Response: The VMS requirements provide assurance that permitted DGN 
vessels are complying with the regulations found at 50 CFR 660.713. 
Without VMS coverage for the entire fleet, it would be difficult to 
monitor compliance with important conservation measures such as closed 
areas. Furthermore, some of these closed areas, like the Pacific 
Loggerhead Conservation Area, which was effective in 2014 (79 FR 43268, 
July 25, 2015), occur in near-shore southern California waters, 
including areas close to San Diego, CA.
    Comment 2: We request that NMFS modify the rule to include a 
continuous transit requirement when operating in closed areas and 
increase the frequency of the signal transimission rate to 15 minutes 
for the VMS, consistent with the Enforcement Consultants Report to the 
Council at its September 2014 meeting.
    Response: NMFS recognizes the Enforcement Consultants' 
recommendation to increase the VMS signal transmission rate to 15 
minutes in conjunction with a continuous transit requirement to improve 
the ability of NMFS to monitor vessel activity in closed areas. NMFS 
examined VMS tracks of DGN vessels in consideration of continuous 
transit requirements and found that an addition of continuous transit 
provisions to this final rule would likely have impacts to the fleet 
that were not considered during the proposed rule stage. Additionally, 
following the presentation of the Enforcement Consultants Report, the 
Council recommended that the VMS signal transmission rate for the DGN 
fishery not be further enhanced. The maker of the motion contended that 
such an enhancement was not the right tool for monitoring the DGN 
fishery since fishing with DGN gear takes several hours to execute once 
the net is set (e.g., 8 to 12 hour soak times), and further recommended 
that the Council consider other types of equipment better tailored to 
the monitoring needs of the fishery. The motion carried unanimously. 
This final rule is consistent with the Council's recommendation during 
their September 2014 meeting.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    No substantive changes have been made to this rule since the 
proposed rule stage. To further clarify the specific contents, 
reporting frequency, and process for confirmation of receipt of 
declaration reports, additional information was provided at Sec.  
660.713, including paragraphs (f)(2)(i) and (f)(2)(ii), and paragraphs 
(g)(4)(ii) and (g)(4)(ii)(A).

Classification

    The Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, has determined that 
this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the 
DGN fishery for swordfish and is consistent with MSA and other 
applicable laws.

Executive Order 12866

    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification and no other information has been received 
that would impact this determination. As a result, a Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis is not required and none was prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This final rule contains a collection-of-information requirement 
subject to the PRA. The pre-trip notification requirement has been 
approved by the OMB under OMB Control Number 0648-0593. Public 
reporting burden for the pre-trip notification requirement is estimated 
to average 5 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information. The VMS requirement is still pending 
approval by OMB under OMB Control Number 0648-0498. Public reporting 
burden for compliance with the VMS requirements are estimated to 
include a one-time, 4-hour response time for installing a VMS unit and 
a 1-hour response time annually to maintain and repair a unit. 
Activation and on-off reports are estimated to average 5 minutes per 
response, including time to review instructions, prepare, and submit 
the reports. Send comments regarding burden estimates or any other 
aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the 
burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by email to 
OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202-395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 13, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.


0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as 
follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as 
follows:
    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 
U.S.C. 7001 et seq.


0
2. In Sec.  660.702, the definitions for ``Regional Administrator,'' 
``Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAC),'' and ``Vessel monitoring system unit 
(VMS unit)'' are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  660.702  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator for the 
West

[[Page 10395]]

Coast Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, or a designee.
    Special Agent-In-Charge (SAC) means the Special Agent-In-Charge, 
NMFS, Office of Enforcement, West Coast Division, or a designee of the 
Special Agent-In-Charge.
* * * * *
    Vessel monitoring system unit (VMS unit) means an automated, remote 
system and mobile transceiver unit that is approved by NMFS and 
provides information about a vessel's identity, location, and activity 
for the purposes of routine monitoring, control, surveillance and 
enforcement of area and time restrictions and other fishery management 
measures.


0
3. In Sec.  660.705, paragraphs (l), (o), and (p) are revised and 
paragraphs (rr) and (ss) are added to read as follows:


Sec.  660.705  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (l) Fail to install, activate, repair, replace, carry, operate or 
maintain a VMS unit as required under Sec.  660.712 and Sec.  660.713.
* * * * *
    (o) Fish for, catch, or harvest HMS with longline or drift gillnet 
gear without an operating VMS unit on board the vessel after 
installation of the VMS unit.
    (p) Possess on board a vessel without an operating VMS unit HMS 
harvested with longline or drift gillnet gear after installation of the 
VMS unit.
* * * * *
    (rr) Fail to notify NMFS or the NMFS-designated observer provider 
at least 48 hours prior to departure on a fishing trip using drift 
gillnet gear as required under Sec.  660.713.
    (ss) Fail to submit a declaration report to the NMFS Office of Law 
Enforcement prior to departure on a fishing trip using drift gillnet 
gear as required under Sec.  660.713.


0
4. In Sec.  660.713, paragraphs (f) and (g) are added to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.713  Drift gillnet fishery.

* * * * *
    (f) Pre-trip notification requirements. (1) Drift gillnet vessel 
owners or operators are required to notify NMFS or the NMFS-designated 
observer provider at least 48 hours prior to departing on each fishing 
trip. The vessel owners or operators must communicate to the observer 
provider: the owner's or operator's name, contact information, vessel 
name, port of departure, estimated date and time of departure, and a 
telephone number at which the owner or operator may be contacted during 
the business day (Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Pacific Time) to indicate whether an observer will be required on the 
subject fishing trip. Contact information for the current observer 
provider can be obtained by calling the NMFS West Coast Region 
Sustainable Fisheries Division at 562-980-4025.
    (2) Drift gillnet vessel owners or operators must provide the NMFS 
Office of Law Enforcement for the West Coast Region (OLE) with a 
declaration report before the vessel leaves port to fish for thresher 
shark/swordfish with large-mesh drift gillnet gear in state and federal 
waters between 0 and 200 nautical miles offshore of California, Oregon, 
or Washington. Declaration reports will include: The vessel name and/or 
identification number, and gear type.
    (i) Upon receipt of a declaration report, OLE will provide a 
confirmation code or receipt to confirm that a valid declaration report 
was received for the vessel. Retention of the confirmation code or 
receipt to verify that a valid declaration report was filed and the 
declaration requirement was met is the responsibility of the vessel 
owner or operator.
    (ii) The vessel operator must send a new declaration report before 
leaving port on a trip during which the fishing gear that will be used 
is different from the gear type most recently declared for the vessel. 
A declaration report will be valid until another declaration report 
revising the existing gear declaration is received by OLE.
    (iii) OLE's declaration hotline is 1-888-585-5518. The business 
hours for the OLE are Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 8 
a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific Time; voice messages left on the hotline 
will be retrieved at the start of the next business day.
    (g) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements. Drift gillnet 
vessel owners are required to install an OLE type-approved VMS mobile 
transceiver unit (VMS unit) and to arrange for a OLE type-approved 
communications service provider to receive and relay transmissions to 
the OLE prior to fishing for thresher shark/swordfish with large-mesh 
drift gillnet gear.
    (1) What is a VMS? A VMS consists of an OLE type-approved VMS unit 
that automatically determines the vessel's position and transmits it to 
an OLE type-approved communications service provider. The 
communications service provider receives the transmission and relays it 
to the OLE.
    (2) What vessels are required to have a VMS? Any vessel registered 
for use with both a limited-entry California state large-mesh thresher 
shark/swordfish drift gillnet permit and a federal highly migratory 
species permit that fishes in state or federal waters off the coasts of 
California, Oregon, or Washington (0-200 nm offshore).
    (3) How are VMS units and communications dervice providers approved 
by OLE?
    (i) VMS unit manufacturers or communication service providers will 
submit products or services to the OLE for evaluation based on the 
published specifications.
    (ii) The OLE will publish a list of OLE type-approved VMS units and 
communication service providers for the DGN fishery in the Federal 
Register or notify the public through other appropriate media; and the 
OLE may publish amendments to the list as necessary.
    (4) What are the vessel owner's responsibilities? If you are a 
vessel owner that must participate in the VMS program, you or the 
vessel operator on your behalf must:
    (i) Obtain an OLE type-approved VMS unit and have it installed on 
board your vessel in accordance with the instructions provided by the 
OLE. You may obtain a copy of the VMS installation and operation 
instructions from the Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAC).
    (ii) Activate the VMS unit, submit an activation report and an 
initial declaration report, and receive confirmation from the OLE that 
the VMS transmissions are being received at least 72 hours prior to 
leaving port on a fishing trip for which VMS is required. Instructions 
for submitting an activation report may be obtained from the SAC. An 
activation report must again be submitted to the OLE following 
reinstallation of a VMS unit or change in service provider before the 
vessel may be used to fish in a fishery requiring the VMS.
    (A) Activation reports. If you are a vessel owner who must use VMS 
and you are activating a VMS unit for the first time, or reactivating a 
VMS unit following a reinstallation or change in service provider, you 
or the vessel operator on your behalf must fax to the OLE an activation 
report that includes: vessel name, vessel owner's name, address and 
telephone number, vessel operator's name, address and telephone number, 
USCG vessel documentation number/state registration number; and, if 
applicable, the relevant state and federal permit numbers for which 
vessel or owner is registered, VMS unit manufacturer, VMS 
communications service provider, VMS unit identification, and a 
statement signed and dated by the vessel owner

[[Page 10396]]

confirming compliance with the installation procedures provided by the 
SAC and identifying whether the VMS unit is primary or backup. 
Immediately following submission of an activation report, submit an 
initial declaration report as described in paragraph (f)(2) of this 
section using the OLE's declaration hotline included in paragraph 
(f)(2)(iii) of this section.
    (B) Transferring ownership of the VMS unit. Ownership of the VMS 
unit may be transferred from one vessel owner to another vessel owner 
if all of the following documents are provided to the OLE: a new 
activation report, which identifies that the VMS unit was previously 
registered to another vessel, a notarized bill of sale showing proof of 
ownership of the VMS unit, and documentation from the communications 
service provider showing proof that the service agreement for the 
previous vessel was terminated and that a service agreement was 
established for the new vessel.
    (iii) Continuously operate and maintain the VMS unit in good 
working order 24 hours a day throughout the fishing year. The VMS unit 
must accurately transmit a signal indicating the vessel's position at 
least once every hour, 24 hours a day throughout the year, unless a 
valid exemption report, as described in paragraph (g)(4)(iv)(F) of this 
section, has been confirmed by the OLE. A reduced signal transmission 
rate, at least once every 4 hours, may be authorized by the OLE when a 
vessel remains in port for an extended period of time.
    (iv) Submit an exemption report to be confirmed by the OLE as 
valid, as described at paragraph (g)(4)(iv)(F) of this section, and 
comply with all conditions and requirements of the VMS exemption 
identified in this section and specified in the exemption report for a 
vessel to be exempted from the requirement of continuously operating 
and maintaining the VMS unit 24 hours a day throughout the fishing 
year.
    (A) Haul out exemption. When it is anticipated that a vessel will 
be continuously out of the water for more than 7 consecutive days and 
the OLE has confirmed a valid exemption report has been received for 
the vessel, electrical power to the VMS unit may be removed and 
transmissions may be discontinued. Under this exemption, VMS 
transmissions can be discontinued from the time the vessel is removed 
from the water until the time that the vessel is placed back in the 
water.
    (B) Outside areas exemption. When the vessel will be continuously 
operating seaward of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ; beyond 200 
nm) off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington for more than 7 
consecutive days and the OLE has confirmed a valid exemption report has 
been received for the vessel, the VMS unit transmissions may be reduced 
or discontinued from the time the vessel leaves the EEZ off the coasts 
of California, Oregon, or Washington until the time that the vessel re-
enters the EEZ off the coasts of California, Oregon, or Washington. If 
the vessel is equipped with a VMS unit that OLE has approved for this 
exemption and after the OLE has received an exemption report for the 
vessel, the vessel owner or operator can request that the OLE reduce or 
discontinue the VMS transmissions.
    (C) Long-term departure exemption. A vessel participating in the 
DGN fishery that is required to have VMS under paragraph (g) of this 
section may be exempted from VMS provisions after the end of the 
fishing season in which it fished, provided that a completed exemption 
report including a statement signed by the vessel owner indicating that 
the vessel will not be used to take and retain or possess or land 
swordfish taken in state or federal waters off the coasts of 
California, Oregon, or Washington during the upcoming fishing year is 
submitted to the OLE.
    (D) Emergency exemption. Vessels required to have VMS under 
paragraph (g) of this section may be exempted from VMS provisions in 
emergency situations that are beyond the vessel owner's control, 
including but not limited to: fire, flooding, or extensive physical 
damage to critical areas of the vessel. A vessel owner may request an 
emergency exemption from the VMS requirements specified in paragraph 
(g) of this section for his/her vessel by contacting the OLE and 
submitting the following information in writing: the reasons for 
seeking an exemption including any supporting documents (e.g., repair 
invoices, photographs showing damage to the vessel, insurance claim 
forms, etc.), the time period for which the exemption is requested, and 
the location of the vessel while the exemption is in effect. The OLE 
will issue a written determination granting or denying the emergency 
exemption request. A vessel will not be covered by the emergency 
exemption until the OLE issues a determination granting the exemption. 
If an exemption is granted, the duration of the exemption will be 
specified in the OLE determination.
    (E) Submission of exemption reports. Long-term departure exemption 
reports must be signed by the vessel owner and submitted by fax or by 
emailing an electronic copy of the actual report to the OLE. If an 
emergency exemption request will be submitted, initial contact with the 
OLE must be made by telephone, fax or email within 24 hours from when 
the emergency incident occurred. All emergency exemption requests must 
be submitted in writing within 72 hours from when the incident 
occurred. Submission methods for exemption reports, except long-term 
departures and emergency exemption requests, may include email, 
facsimile, or telephone. The OLE will provide, through appropriate 
media, instructions to the public on submitting exemption reports. 
Instructions and other information needed to make exemption reports may 
be mailed to the vessel owner's address of record. Owners of vessels 
required to use the VMS who do not receive instructions by mail are 
responsible for contacting OLE during business hours at least 3 days 
before the exemption is needed to obtain information necessary for 
exemption reports. The OLE must be contacted during business hours 
(Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, between 8 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m., Pacific Time). Any other categories of exemptions that have not 
been specified in paragraph (g) of this section may be submitted to the 
OLE through the VMS unit or another method deemed appropriate by the 
OLE. Before a request for a new category of exemption can be approved 
by OLE, it must be announced in the Federal Register.
    (F) Valid exemption reports. For an exemption report to be valid, 
the OLE must receive and confirm it at least 2 hours and not more than 
24 hours before the exempted activities defined at paragraphs 
(g)(4)(iv)(A) through (D) of this section. An exemption report is valid 
until NMFS receives a report canceling the exemption. An exemption 
cancellation must be received at least 2 hours before the vessel re-
enters the EEZ following an outside areas exemption; at least 2 hours 
before the vessel is placed back in the water following a haul-out 
exemption; or at least 2 hours before a vessel resumes fishing with a 
large-mesh drift gillnet after a long-term departure exemption. If a 
vessel is required to submit an activation report under paragraph 
(g)(4)(ii) of this section before returning to fish, that report may 
substitute for the exemption cancellation. After an emergency situation 
occurs that disrupts the VMS transmission, initial contact must be made 
with the OLE within 24 hours and a written emergency exemption request 
submitted within 72 hours from when the incident occurred. If the 
emergency situation, upon which an emergency exemption is based, is 
resolved before

[[Page 10397]]

the exemption expires, an exemption cancellation must be received by 
OLE at least 2 hours before the vessel resumes fishing.
    (v) When aware that transmission of automatic position reports has 
been interrupted, or when notified by OLE that automatic position 
reports are not being received, contact OLE and follow the instructions 
provided to you. Such instructions may include, but are not limited to, 
manually communicating the vessel's position to a location designated 
by the OLE or returning to port until the VMS unit is operable.
    (vi) After a fishing trip during which interruption of automatic 
position reports has occurred, the vessel's owner or operator must 
replace or repair the VMS unit prior to the vessel's next fishing trip. 
Repair or reinstallation of a VMS unit or installation of a replacement 
unit, including any changes in communications service providers shall 
be in accordance with the instructions provided by the OLE.
    (vii) Make the VMS units available for inspection by OLE personnel, 
USCG personnel, state enforcement personnel or any authorized officer.
    (viii) Ensure that the VMS unit is not tampered with, disabled, 
destroyed, operated, or maintained improperly.
    (ix) Pay all charges levied by the communication service provider 
as necessary to ensure continuous operation of the VMS units.
    (5) What is the contact information for the OLE SAC? For issues 
related to day-to-day operation of VMS units, including declaration 
reports, activation reports and exemption reports, the SAC's designee 
is the OLE VMS Program Manager's office located at 7600 Sand Point Way 
NE., Seattle, WA 98115-6349; phone: (888) 585-5518; fax: (206) 526-
6528); and email: wcd.vms@noaa.gov.

[FR Doc. 2015-03955 Filed 2-25-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P