Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 22, 31880-31884 [2015-13592]

Download as PDF 31880 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 107 / Thursday, June 4, 2015 / Proposed Rules possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.) This rule does not contain any collections of information that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. This rule will not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. National Environmental Policy Act We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. Therefore, we will solicit information from Native American Tribes during the comment period to determine potential effects on them or their resources that may result from the delisting of the Hualapai Mexican vole, and we will fully consider their comments on the proposed rule submitted during the public comment period. We have already been in contact with the Hualapai Tribe’s Natural Resource Department. References Cited A complete list of all references cited in this rule is available on the Web site, http://www.regulations.gov, or upon request from the Field Supervisor, VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Jun 03, 2015 Jkt 235001 Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authority The authority for this section is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Author(s) The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245; unless otherwise noted. § 17.11 [Amended] 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the entry for ‘‘Vole, Hualapai Mexican’’ from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. ■ Dated: May 22, 2015. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2015–13479 Filed 6–3–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 150305220–5469–01] RIN 0648–BE76 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 22 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 NMFS proposes regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 22 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP) (Regulatory Amendment 22), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the annual catch limits (ACLs) for gag grouper (gag) and wreckfish, and the directed commercial quota for gag, based upon revisions to the acceptable biological catch (ABC) and the optimum yield (OY) for gag and wreckfish. The purpose of this proposed rule is to help achieve OY and prevent overfishing of gag and wreckfish in the South Atlantic region while minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects to the snapper-grouper fishery. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before July 6, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0034’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150034, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Janine Vara, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 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). Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 22, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/reg_am22/ index.html. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04JNP1.SGM 04JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 107 / Thursday, June 4, 2015 / Proposed Rules FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Janine Vara, telephone: 727–824– 5305, email: mary.vara@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Gag grouper (gag) and wreckfish are in the snapper-grouper fishery and are managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Background The Council developed Regulatory Amendment 22 in response to the completion of stock assessments for gag and wreckfish that were reviewed by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The SSC made ABC recommendations to the Council for gag and wreckfish that extend through 2019 and 2020, respectively, based upon the data used in the assessments. As noted below, the gag assessment was done through the Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process and the wreckfish assessment was initially prepared by third party scientists and then peer reviewed through the Council’s SSC Peer Review Process. The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 22 and this proposed rule is to adjust the ABC, ACL and OY for gag and wreckfish to address the recent stock assessment results and prevent overfishing while minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects to the snapper-grouper fishery. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Status of Stock In 2006, the gag stock was assessed through the SEDAR process and found to be undergoing overfishing and approaching an overfished condition (SEDAR 10 2006). The assessment was updated in 2014 to include data through 2012, and to provide new information on stock status (SEDAR 10 Update 2014). The 2014 update assessment indicated that the stock is undergoing overfishing based on the average fishing mortality rates from 2010–2012, but is not overfished. However, the Council’s SSC noted that the fishing mortality rate for 2012, and the projected fishing mortality rate in 2013 based on the actual landings, suggested that overfishing did not occur in 2012 and 2013. Consequently, NMFS determined that the gag stock was not undergoing overfishing. At its April 2014 meeting, the Council’s SSC determined that the 2014 update assessment is the best scientific information available and recommended a revised ABC to the Council. The Council chose the VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Jun 03, 2015 Jkt 235001 recommended ABC, and then chose a revised OY and ACL. A statistical catch-at-age assessment of the wreckfish stock in the South Atlantic was conducted by nongovernmental scientists in 2012. This assessment was outside of the formal stock assessment process, and the Council adopted a new SSC Peer Review Process in 2013 to address these types of third-party stock assessments and then determined that the wreckfish statistical catch-at-age assessment should be subject to the new process. The SSC reviewed the revised assessment at its April 2014 meeting, accepted it as representing the best scientific information available, and recommended a revised ABC to the Council. The Council chose the recommended ABC, and then chose a revised OY and ACL. Regulatory Amendment 22 The Council would set a revised ABC, OY, and ACL for gag in Regulatory Amendment 22 to ensure that overfishing does not occur. The ACL and OY for gag would be set equal to 95 percent of the ABC. The directed commercial quota would be reduced from the commercial ACL by 27,218 lb (12,346 kg), gutted weight, to account for discard mortality after the commercial harvest for gag closes but the commercial harvest for shallowwater groupers remains open. The Council also considered revising the recreational bag limit for gag in Regulatory Amendment 22. However, the Council decided not to make any changes to the recreational bag limit at this time. The Council also recommended revising the ABC and OY and ACL for wreckfish in Regulatory Amendment 22, based on the revised stock assessment. The ACL would be set equal to the OY and the ABC. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule Gag ACLs This proposed rule would revise the directed commercial quota and the commercial and recreational ACLs for gag for the 2015 through the 2019 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. The directed commercial quota and the commercial and recreational ACLs would initially decrease from the 2014 levels but would gradually increase and exceed the 2014 levels in 2018, as biomass approaches the stock biomass expected to exist under equilibrium conditions (BMSY). The commercial accountability measure (AM) for gag closes the commercial PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31881 sector when the directed commercial quota is reached or projected to be reached. Therefore, this rulemaking would revise the directed commercial quotas for gag for the 2015 through the 2019 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. This proposed rule would also set the recreational ACLs for the 2015 through 2019 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. The recreational AM for gag states that when the recreational ACL is reached and gag are overfished, the recreational sector closes. However, regardless of the overfished status, if the recreational ACL is exceeded then the overage is deducted from the recreational ACL the following fishing year. The commercial ACLs for gag proposed in this rule are: 322,677 lb (146,364 kg), gutted weight, 380,759 lb (172,709 kg), round weight, for 2015; 325,100 lb (147,463 kg), gutted weight, 383,618 lb (174,006 kg), round weight, for 2016; 345,449 lb (197,516 kg), gutted weight, 407,630 lb (184,898 kg), round weight, for 2017; 362,406 lb (164,385 kg), gutted weight, 427,639 lb (193,974 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 374,519 lb (169,879 kg), gutted weight, 441,932 lb (200,457 kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years. The directed commercial quotas for gag (which are reduced from the commercial ACLs by 27,218 lb (12,346 kg)) proposed in this rule are: 295,459 lb (134,018 kg), gutted weight, 348,642 lb (158,141 kg), round weight, for 2015; 297,882 lb (135,117 kg), gutted weight, 351,501 (159,438 kg), round weight, for 2016; 318,231 lb (144,347 kg), gutted weight, 375,513 lb (170,330 kg), round weight, for 2017; 335,188 lb (152,039 kg), gutted weight, 395,522 lb (179,406 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 347,301 lb (157,533 kg), gutted weight, 409,816 lb (185,889 kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years. The recreational ACLs for gag proposed in this rule are 310,023 lb (148,025 kg), gutted weight, 365,827 (165,936 kg), round weight, for 2015; 312,351 lb (149,137 kg), gutted weight, 368,574 lb (175,981 kg), round weight, for 2016; 331,902 lb (158,472 kg), gutted weight, 391,644 lb (186,997 kg), round weight, for 2017; 348,194 lb (166,251 kg), gutted weight, 410,869 lb (196,176 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 359,832 lb (171,807 kg), gutted weight, 424,602 lb (202,733 kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years. Wreckfish ACLs This proposed rule would set the commercial and recreational ACLs for wreckfish for the 2015 through the 2020 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. The commercial and recreational E:\FR\FM\04JNP1.SGM 04JNP1 31882 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 107 / Thursday, June 4, 2015 / Proposed Rules ACLs would initially increase from 2014 levels but would gradually decrease in subsequent years as biomass approaches BMSY; however, ACLs would remain above 2014 levels through 2020 and subsequent fishing years. The commercial quota is equal to the commercial ACL and the individual transferable quota (ITQ) program serves as the commercial AM. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, the recreational AM reduces the length of the following fishing season, if necessary, to account for the overage. The commercial ACLs for wreckfish proposed in this rule are: 411,350 lb (186,585 kg), round weight, for 2015; 402,515 (182,578 kg), round weight, for 2016; 393,490 lb (178,484 kg), round weight, for 2017; 385,985 lb (175,080 kg), round weight, for 2018; 376,960 lb (170,986 kg), round weight, for 2019, and 369,645 lb (167,668 kg), round weight, for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. The recreational ACLs for wreckfish proposed in this rule are: 21,650 (9,820 kg), round weight, for 2015; 21,185 lb (9,609 kg), round weight, for 2016; 20,710 lb (9,394 kg), round weight, for 2017; 20,315 lb (9,215 kg), round weight, for 2018; 19,840 lb (8,999 kg), round weight, for 2019; and 19,455 lb (8,825 kg), round weight, for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows: The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 22 and this proposed rule is to adjust the ABC, ACL and OY for gag and wreckfish to address the recent stock assessment results and prevent overfishing while minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects to the snapper-grouper fishery. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Jun 03, 2015 Jkt 235001 This proposed rule, if implemented, would be expected to directly apply to all commercial fishing vessels that harvest either gag or wreckfish in the South Atlantic EEZ. Over the period 2009–2013, an average of 245 vessels per year recorded commercial landings of gag and 6 vessels per year recorded commercial landings of wreckfish. More recent final data are not available. Because of where the different species are harvested (wreckfish are harvested at water depths of 450–600 m (1,476– 1,969 ft), whereas gag commonly occur at water depths of 39–152 m (127–499 ft)), these two groups of vessels are assumed to be mutually exclusive, though the vessels that harvest wreckfish may also harvest gag when not fishing for wreckfish and, if so, would be included in the count of vessels harvesting gag. This proposed rule would, therefore, be expected to affect an estimated 245 commercial fishing vessels per year that harvest gag and 6 commercial fishing vessels per year that harvest wreckfish. The estimated average annual gross revenue from all fishing activity by the commercial vessels that harvested gag over this period was approximately $49,000 (2013 dollars) and the average for the vessels that harvested wreckfish was approximately $288,000 (2013 dollars). Charter vessels and headboats (forhire vessels) sell fishing services, which include the harvest of gag and wreckfish, among other species, to recreational anglers. These vessels provide a platform for the opportunity to fish and not a guarantee to catch or harvest any species, though expectations of successful fishing, however defined, likely factor into the decision to purchase these services. Changing the allowable harvest of a species only defines what can be kept and does not explicitly prevent the continued offer of for-hire fishing services. In response to a change in the allowable harvest of a species, including a zero-fish limit, fishing for other species could continue. Because the proposed changes in the gag and wreckfish quotas would not directly alter the service sold by these vessels, this proposed rule would not directly apply to or regulate their operations. For-hire vessels would continue to be able to offer their core product, which is an attempt to ‘‘put anglers on fish,’’ provide the opportunity for anglers to catch whatever their skills enable them to catch, and keep those fish that they desire to keep and are legal to keep. Any change in demand for these fishing services, and associated economic PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 affects, as a result of changing a quota would be a consequence of behavioral change by anglers, secondary to any direct effect on anglers, and, therefore, an indirect effect of this proposed rule. Because the effects on for-hire vessels would be indirect, they fall outside the scope of the RFA. Recreational anglers, who may be directly affected by the proposed changes in the gag and wreckfish quotas, are not small entities under the RFA. NMFS has not identified any other small entities that would be expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule. The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including commercial fish harvesters. A business involved in commercial fish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $20.5 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Because the average annual revenue estimates provided above are significantly less than the SBA revenue threshold for this sector, all commercial vessels expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule are determined to be small business entities. This proposed rule would set the annual commercial quotas for gag for 2015–2019 and beyond and for wreckfish for 2015–2020 and beyond. The 2019 gag commercial quota would remain in place in subsequent years unless changed, as would the 2020 wreckfish commercial quota. The proposed gag commercial quotas would be expected to result in a total reduction in revenue from gag for all vessels of approximately $154,000 (2013 dollars) in 2015, approximately $142,000 in 2016, and approximately $42,000 in 2017. Beginning in 2018, the proposed gag annual commercial quotas would be more than the current quota and would, as a result, be expected to result in increased revenue from gag each year. If the annual reductions in gag revenue are not offset by increased harvest and revenue from other species (the average annual revenue from other species harvested by these vessels was more than six times the revenue derived from gag from 2009–2013), the projected reductions in revenue from gag would equate to approximately $630 per vessel (245 vessels) in 2015, or approximately 1.3 percent of average annual revenue from all fishing activity, and decline to $580 per vessel in 2016, and $170 per vessel in 2017. Averaged over the entire 5 years (2015–2019), the average annual E:\FR\FM\04JNP1.SGM 04JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 107 / Thursday, June 4, 2015 / Proposed Rules reduction in revenue per vessel would be approximately $160, or less than 1 percent of the average annual fishing revenue per vessel. As a result, this proposed rule would be expected to result in a minor adverse economic effect on the affected small entities. All of the proposed wreckfish annual commercial quotas would allow higher than currently allowed harvest levels. As a result, the revenue and profits associated with commercial wreckfish harvest could increase and this proposed rule would be expected to have a beneficial economic effect on the affected small entities. Based on the discussion above, NMFS determines that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant adverse economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual Catch Limits, Fisheries, Fishing, Gag, Quotas, South Atlantic, Wreckfish. Dated: May 29, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs) For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.190, the last sentence in the introductory paragraph for paragraph (a) and paragraphs (a)(7) and (b) are revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.190 Quotas. wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (a) * * * The quotas are in gutted weight, that is eviscerated but otherwise whole, except for the quotas in paragraphs (a)(4) through (7) of this section which are in both gutted weight and round weight. * * * * * (7) Gag—(i) For the 2015 fishing year—295,459 lb (134,018 kg), gutted weight; 348,642 lb (158,141 kg), round weight. (ii) For the 2016 fishing year—297,882 lb (135,117 kg), gutted weight; 351,501 (159,438 kg), round weight. (iii) For the 2017 fishing year— 318,231 lb (144,347 kg), gutted weight; 375,513 lb (170,330 kg), round weight. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Jun 03, 2015 Jkt 235001 (iv) For the 2018 fishing year— 335,188 lb (152,039 kg), gutted weight; 395,522 lb (179,406 kg), round weight. (v) For the 2019 and subsequent fishing years—347,301 lb (157,533 kg), gutted weight; 409,816 lb (185,889 kg), round weight. (b) Wreckfish. (1) The quotas for wreckfish apply to wreckfish shareholders, or their employees, contractors, or agents. The quotas are given round weight. See § 622.172 for information on the wreckfish shareholder under the ITQ system. (i) For the 2015 fishing year—411,350 lb (186,585 kg). (ii) For the 2016 fishing year—402,515 (182,578 kg). (iii) For the 2017 fishing year— 393,490 lb (178,484 kg). (iv) For the 2018 fishing year— 385,985 lb (175,080 kg). (v) For the 2019 fishing year—376,960 lb (170,986 kg). (vi) For the 2020 and subsequent fishing years—369,645 lb (167,668 kg). (2) [Reserved] * * * * * ■ 3. In § 622.193, paragraphs (c) and (r) are revised to read as follows: * * * * * (c) Gag—(1) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable directed commercial quota, specified in § 622.190(a)(7), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for gag for the remainder of the fishing year. The commercial ACL for gag is 322,677 lb (146,364 kg), gutted weight, 380,759 lb (172,709 kg), round weight, for 2015; 325,100 lb (147,463 kg), gutted weight, 383,618 lb (174,006 kg), round weight, for 2016; 345,449 lb (197,516 kg), gutted weight, 407,630 lb (184,898 kg), round weight, for 2017; 362,406 lb (164,385 kg), gutted weight; 427,639 lb (193,974 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 374,519 lb (169,879 kg), gutted weight, 441,932 lb (200,457 kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years. (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable recreational ACL, specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section, and gag are overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the gag recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31883 effective date of such notification, the bag and possession limits for gag in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. These bag and possession limits also apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) Without regard to overfished status, if gag recreational landings exceed the recreational ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the recreational ACL for that fishing year by the amount of the overage. (iii) Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. (iv) The recreational ACL for gag is 310,023 lb (148,025 kg), gutted weight, 365,827 (165,936 kg), round weight, for 2015; 312,351 lb (149,137 kg), gutted weight, 368,574 lb (175,981 kg), round weight, for 2016; 331,902 lb (158,472 kg), gutted weight, 391,644 lb (186,997 kg), round weight, for 2017; 348,194 lb (166,251 kg), gutted weight, 410,869 lb (196,176 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 359,832 lb (171,807 kg), gutted weight, 424,602 lb (202,733 kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years. * * * * * (r) Wreckfish—(1) Commercial sector. The ITQ program for wreckfish in the South Atlantic serves as the accountability measure for commercial wreckfish. The commercial ACL for wreckfish is equal to the applicable commercial quota specified in § 622.190(b). (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for wreckfish, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL specified in paragraph (r)(2)(ii) of this section, then during the following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings and, if necessary, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the length of the following recreational fishing season by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year. However, the length of the recreational season will also not be reduced during the following fishing year if the RA determines, using the best scientific information available, that a reduction in the length of the following fishing season is unnecessary. E:\FR\FM\04JNP1.SGM 04JNP1 31884 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 107 / Thursday, June 4, 2015 / Proposed Rules (ii) The recreational ACL for wreckfish is 21,650 (9,820 kg), round weight, for 2015; 21,185 lb (9,609 kg), round weight, for 2016; 20,710 lb (9,394 kg), round weight, for 2017; 20,315 lb (9,215 kg), round weight, for 2018; 19,840 lb (8,999 kg), round weight, for 2019; and 19,455 lb (8,825 kg), round weight, for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2015–13592 Filed 6–3–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 150112035–5035–01] RIN 0648–BE80 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan; Revision to Prohibited Species Regulations National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS is proposing regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to revise the prohibited species regulations so that each of the exceptions to the policy in the Fishery Management Plan are explicitly identified in the regulations. The specific exceptions will allow HMS fishermen to retain: (1) Salmon and Pacific halibut, if all of the necessary regulations for those respective fisheries are followed; and (2) basking, megamouth, and great white sharks, if they are sold or donated to a scientific or educational organization. This action is necessary to more accurately reflect the intent of the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP). DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 19, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2015–0006, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150006, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:23 Jun 03, 2015 Jkt 235001 complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Taylor Debevec, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0006’’ in the comments. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. 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. 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.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA– NMFS–2015–0006 or contact the Regional Administrator, William W. Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast Region, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg. 1, Seattle, WA 98115–0070, or RegionalAdministrator.WCRHMS@ noaa.gov. (3) basking, megamouth, and great white sharks can be kept provided they are sold or donated to recognized scientific and educational organizations for research or display purposes. The implementing regulations, however, only identify the first exception above; the second and third are not included in the regulations. The prohibited species policy of the FMP was designed with the second and third exceptions to: Prevent salmon and Pacific halibut from being retained as incidental catch in HMS fisheries, and not preclude fishermen from legally participating in salmon and Pacific halibut fisheries (permits, closures, gears, etc.); and discourage targeting of the rare and low productivity sharks, and not waste them if caught. The current regulations refer to prohibited species in three sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (in title 50 part 660 subpart K), which, collectively, do not convey the full prohibited species policy of the HMS FMP. The definition of ‘‘prohibited species’’ (§ 660.702) does not specify a list of prohibited species and is vague about the exceptions. The regulations on prohibitions (§ 660.705(e)) describe the action that should be taken if a prohibited species is caught (i.e., return the fish to sea), but does not incorporate the exceptions. Finally, the regulations on general catch restrictions (§ 660.711(a)) identify the species that are prohibited in HMS fisheries. The lack of clarity and cohesion with the HMS FMP has prompted NMFS to modify the three sections of the regulations that govern prohibited species. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Proposed Regulations The proposed rule would codify at § 660.705(e) the second and third exceptions in the prohibited species policy of the HMS FMP, as described above. The definition of ‘‘Prohibited species’’ at § 660.702 would be revised to remove the general description of what a prohibited species means, and instead simply set forth the species names; the prohibited species themselves would not change. As a result, the regulations at § 660.711(a), which currently include the species names, would be redundant and, therefore, would be deleted. By correcting the language at § 660.705(e) to explicitly identify all the exceptions and revising the definition of prohibited species, the regulations would be consistent with the HMS FMP. Taylor Debevec, NMFS, 562–980–4066. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The HMS FMP was implemented in a final rule published on April 7, 2004 (69 FR 18444). NMFS was recently informed of a discrepancy between the implementing regulations and the intent of the HMS FMP regarding the policy on prohibited species. The HMS FMP identifies several fish as ‘‘prohibited species’’ (salmon, Pacific halibut, basking shark, megamouth shark, and great white shark) that cannot be retained in HMS fisheries, with the following exceptions: (1) Any can be kept for examination by an authorized observer or to return tagged fish as specified by the tagging agency; (2) salmon and Pacific halibut can be kept provided all applicable state and Federal regulations are followed (e.g., gear, permits, season, fishing area); and PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Classification The NMFS West Coast Regional Administrator has preliminarily E:\FR\FM\04JNP1.SGM 04JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 107 (Thursday, June 4, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31880-31884]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-13592]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 150305220-5469-01]
RIN 0648-BE76


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory 
Amendment 22

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 22 
to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the 
South Atlantic Region (FMP) (Regulatory Amendment 22), as prepared and 
submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). 
If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the annual catch limits 
(ACLs) for gag grouper (gag) and wreckfish, and the directed commercial 
quota for gag, based upon revisions to the acceptable biological catch 
(ABC) and the optimum yield (OY) for gag and wreckfish. The purpose of 
this proposed rule is to help achieve OY and prevent overfishing of gag 
and wreckfish in the South Atlantic region while minimizing, to the 
extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects to the snapper-
grouper fishery.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before July 6, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0034'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0034, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Janine Vara, 
Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, 
FL 33701.
    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).
    Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 22, which includes an 
environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis 
and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast 
Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/reg_am22/index.html.

[[Page 31881]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Janine Vara, telephone: 727-824-
5305, email: mary.vara@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Gag grouper (gag) and wreckfish are in the 
snapper-grouper fishery and are managed under the FMP. The FMP was 
prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 
CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The Council developed Regulatory Amendment 22 in response to the 
completion of stock assessments for gag and wreckfish that were 
reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). 
The SSC made ABC recommendations to the Council for gag and wreckfish 
that extend through 2019 and 2020, respectively, based upon the data 
used in the assessments. As noted below, the gag assessment was done 
through the Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process and 
the wreckfish assessment was initially prepared by third party 
scientists and then peer reviewed through the Council's SSC Peer Review 
Process. The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 22 and this proposed rule 
is to adjust the ABC, ACL and OY for gag and wreckfish to address the 
recent stock assessment results and prevent overfishing while 
minimizing, to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic 
effects to the snapper-grouper fishery.

Status of Stock

    In 2006, the gag stock was assessed through the SEDAR process and 
found to be undergoing overfishing and approaching an overfished 
condition (SEDAR 10 2006). The assessment was updated in 2014 to 
include data through 2012, and to provide new information on stock 
status (SEDAR 10 Update 2014). The 2014 update assessment indicated 
that the stock is undergoing overfishing based on the average fishing 
mortality rates from 2010-2012, but is not overfished. However, the 
Council's SSC noted that the fishing mortality rate for 2012, and the 
projected fishing mortality rate in 2013 based on the actual landings, 
suggested that overfishing did not occur in 2012 and 2013. 
Consequently, NMFS determined that the gag stock was not undergoing 
overfishing. At its April 2014 meeting, the Council's SSC determined 
that the 2014 update assessment is the best scientific information 
available and recommended a revised ABC to the Council. The Council 
chose the recommended ABC, and then chose a revised OY and ACL.
    A statistical catch-at-age assessment of the wreckfish stock in the 
South Atlantic was conducted by non-governmental scientists in 2012. 
This assessment was outside of the formal stock assessment process, and 
the Council adopted a new SSC Peer Review Process in 2013 to address 
these types of third-party stock assessments and then determined that 
the wreckfish statistical catch-at-age assessment should be subject to 
the new process. The SSC reviewed the revised assessment at its April 
2014 meeting, accepted it as representing the best scientific 
information available, and recommended a revised ABC to the Council. 
The Council chose the recommended ABC, and then chose a revised OY and 
ACL.

Regulatory Amendment 22

    The Council would set a revised ABC, OY, and ACL for gag in 
Regulatory Amendment 22 to ensure that overfishing does not occur. The 
ACL and OY for gag would be set equal to 95 percent of the ABC. The 
directed commercial quota would be reduced from the commercial ACL by 
27,218 lb (12,346 kg), gutted weight, to account for discard mortality 
after the commercial harvest for gag closes but the commercial harvest 
for shallow-water groupers remains open.
    The Council also considered revising the recreational bag limit for 
gag in Regulatory Amendment 22. However, the Council decided not to 
make any changes to the recreational bag limit at this time.
    The Council also recommended revising the ABC and OY and ACL for 
wreckfish in Regulatory Amendment 22, based on the revised stock 
assessment. The ACL would be set equal to the OY and the ABC.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

Gag ACLs

    This proposed rule would revise the directed commercial quota and 
the commercial and recreational ACLs for gag for the 2015 through the 
2019 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. The directed 
commercial quota and the commercial and recreational ACLs would 
initially decrease from the 2014 levels but would gradually increase 
and exceed the 2014 levels in 2018, as biomass approaches the stock 
biomass expected to exist under equilibrium conditions 
(BMSY). The commercial accountability measure (AM) for gag 
closes the commercial sector when the directed commercial quota is 
reached or projected to be reached. Therefore, this rulemaking would 
revise the directed commercial quotas for gag for the 2015 through the 
2019 fishing years and subsequent fishing years. This proposed rule 
would also set the recreational ACLs for the 2015 through 2019 fishing 
years and subsequent fishing years. The recreational AM for gag states 
that when the recreational ACL is reached and gag are overfished, the 
recreational sector closes. However, regardless of the overfished 
status, if the recreational ACL is exceeded then the overage is 
deducted from the recreational ACL the following fishing year.
    The commercial ACLs for gag proposed in this rule are: 322,677 lb 
(146,364 kg), gutted weight, 380,759 lb (172,709 kg), round weight, for 
2015; 325,100 lb (147,463 kg), gutted weight, 383,618 lb (174,006 kg), 
round weight, for 2016; 345,449 lb (197,516 kg), gutted weight, 407,630 
lb (184,898 kg), round weight, for 2017; 362,406 lb (164,385 kg), 
gutted weight, 427,639 lb (193,974 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 
374,519 lb (169,879 kg), gutted weight, 441,932 lb (200,457 kg), round 
weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years.
    The directed commercial quotas for gag (which are reduced from the 
commercial ACLs by 27,218 lb (12,346 kg)) proposed in this rule are: 
295,459 lb (134,018 kg), gutted weight, 348,642 lb (158,141 kg), round 
weight, for 2015; 297,882 lb (135,117 kg), gutted weight, 351,501 
(159,438 kg), round weight, for 2016; 318,231 lb (144,347 kg), gutted 
weight, 375,513 lb (170,330 kg), round weight, for 2017; 335,188 lb 
(152,039 kg), gutted weight, 395,522 lb (179,406 kg), round weight, for 
2018; and 347,301 lb (157,533 kg), gutted weight, 409,816 lb (185,889 
kg), round weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years.
    The recreational ACLs for gag proposed in this rule are 310,023 lb 
(148,025 kg), gutted weight, 365,827 (165,936 kg), round weight, for 
2015; 312,351 lb (149,137 kg), gutted weight, 368,574 lb (175,981 kg), 
round weight, for 2016; 331,902 lb (158,472 kg), gutted weight, 391,644 
lb (186,997 kg), round weight, for 2017; 348,194 lb (166,251 kg), 
gutted weight, 410,869 lb (196,176 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 
359,832 lb (171,807 kg), gutted weight, 424,602 lb (202,733 kg), round 
weight, for 2019 and subsequent fishing years.

Wreckfish ACLs

    This proposed rule would set the commercial and recreational ACLs 
for wreckfish for the 2015 through the 2020 fishing years and 
subsequent fishing years. The commercial and recreational

[[Page 31882]]

ACLs would initially increase from 2014 levels but would gradually 
decrease in subsequent years as biomass approaches BMSY; 
however, ACLs would remain above 2014 levels through 2020 and 
subsequent fishing years. The commercial quota is equal to the 
commercial ACL and the individual transferable quota (ITQ) program 
serves as the commercial AM. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, the 
recreational AM reduces the length of the following fishing season, if 
necessary, to account for the overage.
    The commercial ACLs for wreckfish proposed in this rule are: 
411,350 lb (186,585 kg), round weight, for 2015; 402,515 (182,578 kg), 
round weight, for 2016; 393,490 lb (178,484 kg), round weight, for 
2017; 385,985 lb (175,080 kg), round weight, for 2018; 376,960 lb 
(170,986 kg), round weight, for 2019, and 369,645 lb (167,668 kg), 
round weight, for 2020 and subsequent fishing years.
    The recreational ACLs for wreckfish proposed in this rule are: 
21,650 (9,820 kg), round weight, for 2015; 21,185 lb (9,609 kg), round 
weight, for 2016; 20,710 lb (9,394 kg), round weight, for 2017; 20,315 
lb (9,215 kg), round weight, for 2018; 19,840 lb (8,999 kg), round 
weight, for 2019; and 19,455 lb (8,825 kg), round weight, for 2020 and 
subsequent fishing years.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public 
comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows:
    The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 22 and this proposed rule is to 
adjust the ABC, ACL and OY for gag and wreckfish to address the recent 
stock assessment results and prevent overfishing while minimizing, to 
the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects to the 
snapper-grouper fishery. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the 
statutory basis for this proposed rule.
    This proposed rule, if implemented, would be expected to directly 
apply to all commercial fishing vessels that harvest either gag or 
wreckfish in the South Atlantic EEZ. Over the period 2009-2013, an 
average of 245 vessels per year recorded commercial landings of gag and 
6 vessels per year recorded commercial landings of wreckfish. More 
recent final data are not available. Because of where the different 
species are harvested (wreckfish are harvested at water depths of 450-
600 m (1,476-1,969 ft), whereas gag commonly occur at water depths of 
39-152 m (127-499 ft)), these two groups of vessels are assumed to be 
mutually exclusive, though the vessels that harvest wreckfish may also 
harvest gag when not fishing for wreckfish and, if so, would be 
included in the count of vessels harvesting gag. This proposed rule 
would, therefore, be expected to affect an estimated 245 commercial 
fishing vessels per year that harvest gag and 6 commercial fishing 
vessels per year that harvest wreckfish. The estimated average annual 
gross revenue from all fishing activity by the commercial vessels that 
harvested gag over this period was approximately $49,000 (2013 dollars) 
and the average for the vessels that harvested wreckfish was 
approximately $288,000 (2013 dollars).
    Charter vessels and headboats (for-hire vessels) sell fishing 
services, which include the harvest of gag and wreckfish, among other 
species, to recreational anglers. These vessels provide a platform for 
the opportunity to fish and not a guarantee to catch or harvest any 
species, though expectations of successful fishing, however defined, 
likely factor into the decision to purchase these services. Changing 
the allowable harvest of a species only defines what can be kept and 
does not explicitly prevent the continued offer of for-hire fishing 
services. In response to a change in the allowable harvest of a 
species, including a zero-fish limit, fishing for other species could 
continue. Because the proposed changes in the gag and wreckfish quotas 
would not directly alter the service sold by these vessels, this 
proposed rule would not directly apply to or regulate their operations. 
For-hire vessels would continue to be able to offer their core product, 
which is an attempt to ``put anglers on fish,'' provide the opportunity 
for anglers to catch whatever their skills enable them to catch, and 
keep those fish that they desire to keep and are legal to keep. Any 
change in demand for these fishing services, and associated economic 
affects, as a result of changing a quota would be a consequence of 
behavioral change by anglers, secondary to any direct effect on 
anglers, and, therefore, an indirect effect of this proposed rule. 
Because the effects on for-hire vessels would be indirect, they fall 
outside the scope of the RFA. Recreational anglers, who may be directly 
affected by the proposed changes in the gag and wreckfish quotas, are 
not small entities under the RFA.
    NMFS has not identified any other small entities that would be 
expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule.
    The SBA has established size criteria for all major industry 
sectors in the U.S., including commercial fish harvesters. A business 
involved in commercial fish harvesting is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual receipts not in excess of $20.5 million (NAICS code 114111, 
finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. Because 
the average annual revenue estimates provided above are significantly 
less than the SBA revenue threshold for this sector, all commercial 
vessels expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule are 
determined to be small business entities.
    This proposed rule would set the annual commercial quotas for gag 
for 2015-2019 and beyond and for wreckfish for 2015-2020 and beyond. 
The 2019 gag commercial quota would remain in place in subsequent years 
unless changed, as would the 2020 wreckfish commercial quota. The 
proposed gag commercial quotas would be expected to result in a total 
reduction in revenue from gag for all vessels of approximately $154,000 
(2013 dollars) in 2015, approximately $142,000 in 2016, and 
approximately $42,000 in 2017. Beginning in 2018, the proposed gag 
annual commercial quotas would be more than the current quota and 
would, as a result, be expected to result in increased revenue from gag 
each year. If the annual reductions in gag revenue are not offset by 
increased harvest and revenue from other species (the average annual 
revenue from other species harvested by these vessels was more than six 
times the revenue derived from gag from 2009-2013), the projected 
reductions in revenue from gag would equate to approximately $630 per 
vessel (245 vessels) in 2015, or approximately 1.3 percent of average 
annual revenue from all fishing activity, and decline to $580 per 
vessel in 2016, and $170 per vessel in 2017. Averaged over the entire 5 
years (2015-2019), the average annual

[[Page 31883]]

reduction in revenue per vessel would be approximately $160, or less 
than 1 percent of the average annual fishing revenue per vessel. As a 
result, this proposed rule would be expected to result in a minor 
adverse economic effect on the affected small entities.
    All of the proposed wreckfish annual commercial quotas would allow 
higher than currently allowed harvest levels. As a result, the revenue 
and profits associated with commercial wreckfish harvest could increase 
and this proposed rule would be expected to have a beneficial economic 
effect on the affected small entities.
    Based on the discussion above, NMFS determines that this proposed 
rule, if implemented, would not have a significant adverse economic 
effect on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Annual Catch Limits, Fisheries, Fishing, Gag, Quotas, South 
Atlantic, Wreckfish.

    Dated: May 29, 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 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.190, the last sentence in the introductory paragraph 
for paragraph (a) and paragraphs (a)(7) and (b) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.190  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * * The quotas are in gutted weight, that is eviscerated but 
otherwise whole, except for the quotas in paragraphs (a)(4) through (7) 
of this section which are in both gutted weight and round weight.
* * * * *
    (7) Gag--(i) For the 2015 fishing year--295,459 lb (134,018 kg), 
gutted weight; 348,642 lb (158,141 kg), round weight.
    (ii) For the 2016 fishing year--297,882 lb (135,117 kg), gutted 
weight; 351,501 (159,438 kg), round weight.
    (iii) For the 2017 fishing year--318,231 lb (144,347 kg), gutted 
weight; 375,513 lb (170,330 kg), round weight.
    (iv) For the 2018 fishing year--335,188 lb (152,039 kg), gutted 
weight; 395,522 lb (179,406 kg), round weight.
    (v) For the 2019 and subsequent fishing years--347,301 lb (157,533 
kg), gutted weight; 409,816 lb (185,889 kg), round weight.
    (b) Wreckfish. (1) The quotas for wreckfish apply to wreckfish 
shareholders, or their employees, contractors, or agents. The quotas 
are given round weight. See Sec.  622.172 for information on the 
wreckfish shareholder under the ITQ system.
    (i) For the 2015 fishing year--411,350 lb (186,585 kg).
    (ii) For the 2016 fishing year--402,515 (182,578 kg).
    (iii) For the 2017 fishing year--393,490 lb (178,484 kg).
    (iv) For the 2018 fishing year--385,985 lb (175,080 kg).
    (v) For the 2019 fishing year--376,960 lb (170,986 kg).
    (vi) For the 2020 and subsequent fishing years--369,645 lb (167,668 
kg).
    (2) [Reserved]
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  622.193, paragraphs (c) and (r) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.193  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs)

* * * * *
    (c) Gag--(1) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as 
estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable 
directed commercial quota, specified in Sec.  622.190(a)(7), the AA 
will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to 
close the commercial sector for gag for the remainder of the fishing 
year. The commercial ACL for gag is 322,677 lb (146,364 kg), gutted 
weight, 380,759 lb (172,709 kg), round weight, for 2015; 325,100 lb 
(147,463 kg), gutted weight, 383,618 lb (174,006 kg), round weight, for 
2016; 345,449 lb (197,516 kg), gutted weight, 407,630 lb (184,898 kg), 
round weight, for 2017; 362,406 lb (164,385 kg), gutted weight; 427,639 
lb (193,974 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 374,519 lb (169,879 kg), 
gutted weight, 441,932 lb (200,457 kg), round weight, for 2019 and 
subsequent fishing years.
    (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings, as estimated 
by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable recreational 
ACL, specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section, and gag are 
overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to 
Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register to close the gag recreational sector for the remainder 
of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such 
notification, the bag and possession limits for gag in or from the 
South Atlantic EEZ are zero. These bag and possession limits also apply 
in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal 
commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species 
were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters.
    (ii) Without regard to overfished status, if gag recreational 
landings exceed the recreational ACL, the AA will file a notification 
with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of 
the following fishing year, to reduce the recreational ACL for that 
fishing year by the amount of the overage.
    (iii) Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP.
    (iv) The recreational ACL for gag is 310,023 lb (148,025 kg), 
gutted weight, 365,827 (165,936 kg), round weight, for 2015; 312,351 lb 
(149,137 kg), gutted weight, 368,574 lb (175,981 kg), round weight, for 
2016; 331,902 lb (158,472 kg), gutted weight, 391,644 lb (186,997 kg), 
round weight, for 2017; 348,194 lb (166,251 kg), gutted weight, 410,869 
lb (196,176 kg), round weight, for 2018; and 359,832 lb (171,807 kg), 
gutted weight, 424,602 lb (202,733 kg), round weight, for 2019 and 
subsequent fishing years.
* * * * *
    (r) Wreckfish--(1) Commercial sector. The ITQ program for wreckfish 
in the South Atlantic serves as the accountability measure for 
commercial wreckfish. The commercial ACL for wreckfish is equal to the 
applicable commercial quota specified in Sec.  622.190(b).
    (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for 
wreckfish, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL 
specified in paragraph (r)(2)(ii) of this section, then during the 
following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a 
persistence in increased landings and, if necessary, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the 
length of the following recreational fishing season by the amount 
necessary to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the 
recreational ACL in the following fishing year. However, the length of 
the recreational season will also not be reduced during the following 
fishing year if the RA determines, using the best scientific 
information available, that a reduction in the length of the following 
fishing season is unnecessary.

[[Page 31884]]

    (ii) The recreational ACL for wreckfish is 21,650 (9,820 kg), round 
weight, for 2015; 21,185 lb (9,609 kg), round weight, for 2016; 20,710 
lb (9,394 kg), round weight, for 2017; 20,315 lb (9,215 kg), round 
weight, for 2018; 19,840 lb (8,999 kg), round weight, for 2019; and 
19,455 lb (8,825 kg), round weight, for 2020 and subsequent fishing 
years.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2015-13592 Filed 6-3-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P