Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Omnibus Amendment To Simplify Vessel Baselines, 28217-28218 [2015-11902]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 95 / Monday, May 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules Dated: May 11, 2015. Gina McCarthy, Administrator. [FR Doc. 2015–11958 Filed 5–15–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 RIN 0648–BB40 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Omnibus Amendment To Simplify Vessel Baselines National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces that the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils have submitted an Omnibus Amendment to the Fishery Management Plans of the Northeastern United States to simplify vessel baselines. This amendment incorporates a draft Environmental Assessment and preliminary Regulatory Impact Review, for review and approval by the Secretary of Commerce, and NMFS is requesting comments from the public. The Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines would eliminate the one-time limit on vessel upgrades and remove gross and net tonnages from vessel baseline specifications considered when determining a vessel’s baseline for replacement purposes. Implementing these measures would reduce the administrative burden to permit holders and NMFS, and would have little effect on fleet capacity. This action would also remove the requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports (i.e., ‘‘did not fish’’ reports) during months or weeks when fishing did not occur. DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 17, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2011–0213, by any one of the following methods. Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20110213, asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:36 May 15, 2015 Jkt 235001 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields 3. Enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines, and of the draft Environmental Assessment and preliminary Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR), are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930 The EA/RIR is also accessible via the Internet at: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9233. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that each Regional Fishery Management Council submit any Fishery Management Plan (FMP) amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving an FMP amendment, immediately publish notification in the Federal Register that the amendment is available for public review and comment. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) approved this Baseline Amendment, which would simplify vessel baseline requirements, at their November 18, 2014, and October 8, 2014, meetings, respectively. NMFS prepared the amendment on behalf of the Councils and declared a transmittal date May 12, 2015. Both Councils have reviewed the Baseline Amendment proposed rule regulations as drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the MSA. If approved by NMFS, this amendment would simplify the specifications considered when determining a vessel’s baseline for PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 28217 replacement purposes developed by the MAFMC and NEFMC. Background The MAFMC developed the first limited entry program in 1977 for the surfclam/quahog fishery, which included restrictions on replacement vessels. This program required that a replacement vessel be of ‘‘substantially similar capacity’’ in an effort to maintain and not increase the harvest capacity of the fleet at that time. Over the following two decades, the MAFMC and NEFMC implemented additional limited entry programs. By 1998, there were four different sets of vessel upgrade and replacement restrictions among the various FMPs. The upgrade restrictions became confusing for fishing industry members with more than one limited access permit, because each permit had the potential to have different vessel upgrade regulations apply. In addition, some vessels added limited access permits to their vessel that originally qualified on another vessel that was a different size and/or horsepower. This results in a vessel having multiple baselines. Thus, in 1999, the MAFMC and NEFMC, in consultation with NMFS, developed an amendment to Achieve Regulatory Consistency on Permit Related Provisions for Vessels Issued Limited Access Federal Fishery Permits (64 FR 8263, February 19, 1999) (Consistency Amendment) to streamline and make consistent baseline provisions and upgrade restrictions across FMPs. The Consistency Amendment standardized definitions and restrictions for vessel baselines, upgrades, and replacements across all limited access fisheries. It simplified regulations for vessel replacements, permit transfers, and vessel upgrades, making them consistent and less restrictive in order to facilitate business transactions. Although the Consistency Amendment did standardize the vessel baseline requirements for the fisheries of the northeast, some burdensome requirements remain. Under current restrictions, a vessel baseline is defined by vessel length overall, gross tonnage, net tonnage, and horsepower. We determine the baseline for a limited access permit based on the size (length, gross tonnage, and net tonnage) and horsepower of the first vessel issued a limited access permit for that fishery or, for fisheries that adopted baseline restrictions through the Consistency Amendment, the permitted vessel at the time the final rule became effective. Current baseline regulations require that a replacement vessel or an upgrade made to an existing vessel with a E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 28218 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 95 / Monday, May 18, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS limited access permit be within 10 percent of the size and 20 percent of the horsepower of the permit’s baseline vessel. To respect the NEFMC and the MAFMC’s intended baseline restrictions of individual fisheries, for vessels with multiple baselines, we use the most restrictive of the baselines to judge the approval of a replacement vessel or upgrade, unless the permit holder chooses to relinquish the more restrictive permit. In addition, current baseline regulations limit permit holders to a one-time upgrade of the vessel size and horsepower specifications. For example, we limit a vessel owner that has a 60-ft (18.3-m) baseline length to upgrading to a vessel of up to 66 ft (20.1 m). However, if he moves his permit to a 62-ft (18.9-m) vessel for any reason, it would constitute his one-time size upgrade and he would lose the ability to later upgrade to a vessel of 66 ft (20.1 m). He would only be able to move his permit to a vessel of 62 ft (18.9 m) or less. Because he used his one-time size upgrade, he would not be able upgrade the vessel’s tonnages. He would still be able to use his horsepower upgrade to upgrade his horsepower by 20 percent, but only once. The Baseline Amendment would: 1. Eliminate gross and net tonnage from the baseline specifications considered when determining a vessel’s baseline for replacement purposes. Both the Councils and NMFS consider tonnages the most variable of vessel baseline specifications and, therefore, they have little effect on limiting vessel capacity when compared to length and horsepower restrictions. There is more than one acceptable method of determining tonnages, and the tonnages of a vessel can vary significantly depending on whether an exact measurement or simplified calculation is used. In addition, vessel owners can circumvent net tonnage limits by modifying internal bulkheads. Eliminating tonnages would simplify the vessel baseline verification and replacement process. In addition, it could reduce the cost burden on the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:36 May 15, 2015 Jkt 235001 industry if they only need horsepower verification because this would eliminate the need for a marine survey prior to any permit transactions. 2. Remove the one-time limit on vessel upgrades. Eliminating the onetime upgrade limit would provide more flexibility for vessel owners in the selection of replacement vessels and upgrades to existing vessels. Some vessel owners have been constrained by the one-time limit because they or a previous owner did not maximize the one-time upgrade with a previous vessel replacement, due to cost or availability or for other reasons, and have since been unable to further upgrade the vessel. Eliminating the one-time limit would also simplify the baseline verification and vessel replacement process for vessel owners and NMFS by eliminating the need to research and document whether a vessel owner used the one-time upgrade during the vessel’s entire limited access history. This rule proposes to remove the requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports (i.e., ‘‘did not fish’’ reports) during months or weeks when fishing did not occur. This was not part of the Baseline Amendment, but is the result of an internal review of the trip-level reporting requirements conducted by the joint Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office-Northeast Fisheries Science Center Fishery Dependent Data Committee (FDDC) during the past year. The division of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responsible for the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), in the interest of reducing compliance costs for small businesses, noted a potential cost savings for fishermen if we remove the DNF report and asked that we investigate the possibility of removing it. As a result of that review, the FDDC has recommended that the negative fishing reports are no longer necessary because the ability to determine if a vessel has engaged in fishing activity and submitted required trip reports has increased in recent years due to improved trip-level data matching and the expansion of other monitoring PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 systems (e.g., Vessel Monitoring Systems). Therefore, in order to simplify the regulations and reduce reporting burdens for the industry, we are proposing to eliminate the requirement in this action under the Secretary’s authority at section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Vessel owners would still be required to report all fishing trip activity on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on the requirements associated with their vessel permits. We are soliciting public comments on the Baseline Amendment and its incorporated documents through the end of the comment period stated in this notice of availability. A proposed rule that would implement the revised Baseline Amendment will be published in the Federal Register for additional public comment. NMFS will evaluate the proposed rule under the procedures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period provided in this notice of availability of the Baseline Amendment to be considered in the approval/ disapproval decision on the amendment. All comments received by July 17, 2015, whether specifically directed to the Baseline Amendment or the proposed rule will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. To be considered, comments must be received by close of business on the last day of the comment period. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the decision to approve or disapprove the revised Baseline Amendment, including those postmarked or otherwise transmitted by the last day of the comment period. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: May 12, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–11902 Filed 5–15–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 95 (Monday, May 18, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 28217-28218]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-11902]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

RIN 0648-BB40


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Omnibus 
Amendment To Simplify Vessel Baselines

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of fishery management plan amendment; 
request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery 
Management Councils have submitted an Omnibus Amendment to the Fishery 
Management Plans of the Northeastern United States to simplify vessel 
baselines. This amendment incorporates a draft Environmental Assessment 
and preliminary Regulatory Impact Review, for review and approval by 
the Secretary of Commerce, and NMFS is requesting comments from the 
public. The Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines would 
eliminate the one-time limit on vessel upgrades and remove gross and 
net tonnages from vessel baseline specifications considered when 
determining a vessel's baseline for replacement purposes. Implementing 
these measures would reduce the administrative burden to permit holders 
and NMFS, and would have little effect on fleet capacity. This action 
would also remove the requirement for vessels to send in negative 
fishing reports (i.e., ``did not fish'' reports) during months or weeks 
when fishing did not occur.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 17, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2011-0213, 
by any one of the following methods.
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2011-0213,
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Copies of the Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines, and 
of the draft Environmental Assessment and preliminary Regulatory Impact 
Review (EA/RIR), are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930 The EA/
RIR is also accessible via the Internet at: 
www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that each Regional 
Fishery Management Council submit any Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, 
upon receiving an FMP amendment, immediately publish notification in 
the Federal Register that the amendment is available for public review 
and comment. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the 
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) approved this Baseline 
Amendment, which would simplify vessel baseline requirements, at their 
November 18, 2014, and October 8, 2014, meetings, respectively. NMFS 
prepared the amendment on behalf of the Councils and declared a 
transmittal date May 12, 2015. Both Councils have reviewed the Baseline 
Amendment proposed rule regulations as drafted by NMFS and deemed them 
to be necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the 
MSA. If approved by NMFS, this amendment would simplify the 
specifications considered when determining a vessel's baseline for 
replacement purposes developed by the MAFMC and NEFMC.

Background

    The MAFMC developed the first limited entry program in 1977 for the 
surfclam/quahog fishery, which included restrictions on replacement 
vessels. This program required that a replacement vessel be of 
``substantially similar capacity'' in an effort to maintain and not 
increase the harvest capacity of the fleet at that time. Over the 
following two decades, the MAFMC and NEFMC implemented additional 
limited entry programs. By 1998, there were four different sets of 
vessel upgrade and replacement restrictions among the various FMPs. The 
upgrade restrictions became confusing for fishing industry members with 
more than one limited access permit, because each permit had the 
potential to have different vessel upgrade regulations apply. In 
addition, some vessels added limited access permits to their vessel 
that originally qualified on another vessel that was a different size 
and/or horsepower. This results in a vessel having multiple baselines. 
Thus, in 1999, the MAFMC and NEFMC, in consultation with NMFS, 
developed an amendment to Achieve Regulatory Consistency on Permit 
Related Provisions for Vessels Issued Limited Access Federal Fishery 
Permits (64 FR 8263, February 19, 1999) (Consistency Amendment) to 
streamline and make consistent baseline provisions and upgrade 
restrictions across FMPs.
    The Consistency Amendment standardized definitions and restrictions 
for vessel baselines, upgrades, and replacements across all limited 
access fisheries. It simplified regulations for vessel replacements, 
permit transfers, and vessel upgrades, making them consistent and less 
restrictive in order to facilitate business transactions. Although the 
Consistency Amendment did standardize the vessel baseline requirements 
for the fisheries of the northeast, some burdensome requirements 
remain. Under current restrictions, a vessel baseline is defined by 
vessel length overall, gross tonnage, net tonnage, and horsepower. We 
determine the baseline for a limited access permit based on the size 
(length, gross tonnage, and net tonnage) and horsepower of the first 
vessel issued a limited access permit for that fishery or, for 
fisheries that adopted baseline restrictions through the Consistency 
Amendment, the permitted vessel at the time the final rule became 
effective.
    Current baseline regulations require that a replacement vessel or 
an upgrade made to an existing vessel with a

[[Page 28218]]

limited access permit be within 10 percent of the size and 20 percent 
of the horsepower of the permit's baseline vessel. To respect the NEFMC 
and the MAFMC's intended baseline restrictions of individual fisheries, 
for vessels with multiple baselines, we use the most restrictive of the 
baselines to judge the approval of a replacement vessel or upgrade, 
unless the permit holder chooses to relinquish the more restrictive 
permit. In addition, current baseline regulations limit permit holders 
to a one-time upgrade of the vessel size and horsepower specifications. 
For example, we limit a vessel owner that has a 60-ft (18.3-m) baseline 
length to upgrading to a vessel of up to 66 ft (20.1 m). However, if he 
moves his permit to a 62-ft (18.9-m) vessel for any reason, it would 
constitute his one-time size upgrade and he would lose the ability to 
later upgrade to a vessel of 66 ft (20.1 m). He would only be able to 
move his permit to a vessel of 62 ft (18.9 m) or less. Because he used 
his one-time size upgrade, he would not be able upgrade the vessel's 
tonnages. He would still be able to use his horsepower upgrade to 
upgrade his horsepower by 20 percent, but only once.
    The Baseline Amendment would:
    1. Eliminate gross and net tonnage from the baseline specifications 
considered when determining a vessel's baseline for replacement 
purposes. Both the Councils and NMFS consider tonnages the most 
variable of vessel baseline specifications and, therefore, they have 
little effect on limiting vessel capacity when compared to length and 
horsepower restrictions. There is more than one acceptable method of 
determining tonnages, and the tonnages of a vessel can vary 
significantly depending on whether an exact measurement or simplified 
calculation is used. In addition, vessel owners can circumvent net 
tonnage limits by modifying internal bulkheads. Eliminating tonnages 
would simplify the vessel baseline verification and replacement 
process. In addition, it could reduce the cost burden on the industry 
if they only need horsepower verification because this would eliminate 
the need for a marine survey prior to any permit transactions.
    2. Remove the one-time limit on vessel upgrades. Eliminating the 
one-time upgrade limit would provide more flexibility for vessel owners 
in the selection of replacement vessels and upgrades to existing 
vessels. Some vessel owners have been constrained by the one-time limit 
because they or a previous owner did not maximize the one-time upgrade 
with a previous vessel replacement, due to cost or availability or for 
other reasons, and have since been unable to further upgrade the 
vessel. Eliminating the one-time limit would also simplify the baseline 
verification and vessel replacement process for vessel owners and NMFS 
by eliminating the need to research and document whether a vessel owner 
used the one-time upgrade during the vessel's entire limited access 
history.
    This rule proposes to remove the requirement for vessels to send in 
negative fishing reports (i.e., ``did not fish'' reports) during months 
or weeks when fishing did not occur. This was not part of the Baseline 
Amendment, but is the result of an internal review of the trip-level 
reporting requirements conducted by the joint Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office-Northeast Fisheries Science Center Fishery Dependent 
Data Committee (FDDC) during the past year. The division of the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) responsible for the Paperwork Reduction 
Act (PRA), in the interest of reducing compliance costs for small 
businesses, noted a potential cost savings for fishermen if we remove 
the DNF report and asked that we investigate the possibility of 
removing it. As a result of that review, the FDDC has recommended that 
the negative fishing reports are no longer necessary because the 
ability to determine if a vessel has engaged in fishing activity and 
submitted required trip reports has increased in recent years due to 
improved trip-level data matching and the expansion of other monitoring 
systems (e.g., Vessel Monitoring Systems). Therefore, in order to 
simplify the regulations and reduce reporting burdens for the industry, 
we are proposing to eliminate the requirement in this action under the 
Secretary's authority at section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
Vessel owners would still be required to report all fishing trip 
activity on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on the requirements 
associated with their vessel permits.
    We are soliciting public comments on the Baseline Amendment and its 
incorporated documents through the end of the comment period stated in 
this notice of availability. A proposed rule that would implement the 
revised Baseline Amendment will be published in the Federal Register 
for additional public comment. NMFS will evaluate the proposed rule 
under the procedures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Public comments on 
the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period 
provided in this notice of availability of the Baseline Amendment to be 
considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. All 
comments received by July 17, 2015, whether specifically directed to 
the Baseline Amendment or the proposed rule will be considered in the 
approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. To be considered, 
comments must be received by close of business on the last day of the 
comment period. Comments received after that date will not be 
considered in the decision to approve or disapprove the revised 
Baseline Amendment, including those postmarked or otherwise transmitted 
by the last day of the comment period.

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

    Dated: May 12, 2015.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-11902 Filed 5-15-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P