Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Omnibus Amendment To Simplify Vessel Baselines, 51754-51757 [2015-21143]

Download as PDF 51754 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 165 / Wednesday, August 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations (3) All CAAF and selected non-CAAF, as specified in the statement of work, shall bring to the designated operational area a copy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Form 731, International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis as Approved by the World Health Organization, (also known as ‘‘shot record’’ or ‘‘Yellow Card’’) that shows vaccinations are current. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2015–20875 Filed 8–25–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No: 110907562–5681–03] 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: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule announces the approval of the Omnibus Amendment to the Fishery Management Plans of the Northeastern United States and implements the amendment’s approved management measures to simplify vessel baselines. The Baseline Amendment eliminates the one-time limit on vessel upgrades and removes gross and net tonnages from the vessel baseline specifications that NMFS considers when determining a vessel’s baseline for replacement purposes. Implementing these measures reduces the administrative burden to permit holders and NMFS and has little effect on fleet capacity. This rule also removes the requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports (i.e., ‘‘did not fish’’ reports) during months or weeks when vessels were inactive. NMFS no longer needs these reports due to improved trip-level matching. Therefore, NMFS removes this requirement to simplify the regulations and reduce reporting burdens for the industry. rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: DATES: Effective August 26, 2015. VerDate Sep<11>2014 12:34 Aug 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 NMFS developed an environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the action and other considered alternatives and provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of these measures. Copies of the Amendment, the EA, and the small entity compliance guide are available upon request from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298, or available on the Internet at: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ mediacenter/ongoing/omnibus_ amendment_to_simplify_vessel_ baselines.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9233. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: Background The New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils submitted the Baseline Amendment to NMFS for approval at their November 18, 2014, and October 8, 2014, meetings, respectively. We prepared the amendment on behalf of the Councils. We reviewed and finalized the amendment document to ensure consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the fishery management plans that have vessel baseline requirements, and other applicable laws. NMFS has approved the Baseline Amendment in its entirety. Baseline regulations currently require that a replacement vessel or an upgrade made to an existing vessel with a limited access permit be within 10 percent of the size (i.e., length, gross tonnage, and net tonnage) and 20 percent of the horsepower of the permit’s baseline vessel. In addition, regulations limit permit holders to a one-time upgrade of the vessel size and horsepower specifications. This final rule eliminates gross and net tonnage from the baseline specifications that NMFS considers 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. Eliminating tonnages simplifies the vessel baseline verification and replacement process. In addition, it could reduce the cost burden on the industry if vessel owners only need horsepower verification because eliminating the tonnage PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 baselines will eliminate the need for owners to get a marine survey of their vessel prior to any permit replacement or upgrade transactions. This final rule removes the one-time limit on vessel upgrades. Eliminating the one-time upgrade limit will provide more flexibility for vessel owners in the selection of replacement vessels and upgrades to existing vessels. Eliminating the one-time limit will 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. The Baseline Amendment implemented by this final rule does not modify any other baseline specifications or measures. This final rule also removes the requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports (i.e., ‘‘did not fish’’ reports) during months or weeks when vessels are inactive. This change in reporting requirements was not part of the Baseline Amendment. We are removing this requirement under the Secretary’s authority at section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to promulgate regulations necessary to carry out Councils’ amendments consistently with the Act. Eliminating this requirement simplifies the regulations and reduces reporting burdens for the industry. In the past, these negative fishing reports were necessary to aid in data matching and quota monitoring. In recent years, we updated our monitoring systems at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and these negative fishing reports are no longer necessary. Vessels that fish will still be required to report all trips on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on permits that they retain. Comments and Responses NMFS received two comment letters in response to the proposed rule from the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association and Lund’s Fisheries Incorporated. We provide responses below to the issues these commenters raised. NMFS may only approve, disapprove, or partially approve measures in the Baseline Amendment, and cannot substantively amend, add, or delete measures beyond what is necessary under section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to discharge its responsibility to carry out such measures. Comment 1: Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association was supportive of this action, but it was concerned that the changes in the Baseline Amendment could encourage E:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 165 / Wednesday, August 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES additional requests to liberalize the vessel upgrading/replacement regulations. It strongly opposes any further liberalization of vessel baseline requirements because it believes it would result in a large increase in fleet capacity, which would have negative impacts on a number of offshore fisheries. Response: This action is limited in scope and will not increase the capacity of the fleet. Any changes that would affect fleet capacity must go through both the MAFMC and the NEFMC. NMFS encourages the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association and all other interested parties to participate in the Council process should the Councils consider any future changes to vessel baseline and capacity issues. Comment 2: Lund’s Fisheries Incorporated supported the amendment, but it asked that we clarify that the baseline specification for fish hold capacity remains in place. Response: Currently, Tier 1 or Tier 2 limited access mackerel permits have an additional baseline specification for fish hold capacity. This rule does not remove fish hold capacity from the Tier 1 or Tier 2 limited access mackerel baseline specifications. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this rule is not significant according to Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. This final rule does not contain policies with federalism or ‘‘takings’’ implications, as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration at the proposed rule stage that this rule will 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. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This action contains collection-ofinformation requirements subject the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The request to remove the collection burden for vessel gross and net tonnages, vessel VerDate Sep<11>2014 12:34 Aug 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 upgrades, and did not fish report requirements were approved by OMB under the NMFS Greater Atlantic Region Family of Forms (OMB Control No. 0648–0202 and 0648–0212). Removing tonnages from vessel baselines may simplify or eliminate the need for a permit holder to hire a naval architect to determine and document tonnage if it was not previously established. NMFS estimates the resulting average cost savings of as much as $375 per survey. Removing tonnages and upgrades may negate the need for a permit holder to hire a third party to research the permit’s history and prepare the replacement application. Estimates of the costs for these third party services were not available, but NMFS estimates that permit holders spend an average of 3 hours, or $270 in labor costs, preparing vessel replacement applications. In 2014, NMFS received 92 vessels replacement requests for permits that had baseline requirements for a total cost of $25,875 and 279 burden hours. We estimate that the removal of GRT and NT and the one-time upgrade will reduce the need for surveys and the time involved in preparing a vessel replacement application. We estimate that this change will reduce the cost burden on the industry by $12,750 and 139 burden hours per year for a total of $13,125 and 140 burden hours. Vessels are no longer required to send in negative fishing reports (i.e., ‘‘did not fish’’ reports) during months or weeks when fishing did not occur. Vessel owners are still required to report all fishing trip activity on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on the requirements associated with their vessel permits. The collection of negative fishing reports is no longer needed to determine if a vessel has engaged in fishing activity and submitted required trip reports due to improved trip-level data matching and the expansion of other monitoring systems (e.g., Vessel Monitoring Systems). The relief of burden estimates for removing this requirement applies to all federally permitted vessels. In 2014, NMFS received approximately 78,294 did not fish reports. We estimated public reporting burden for submitting these reports to average 2 min per response with an associated cost of $0.45. Therefore, the removal of 78,294 did not fish reports reduces total compliance costs by $35,232, and reduce reporting burden by 2,609 hr annually. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that because this rule is relieving restrictions, there is PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 51755 good cause, under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to waive the 30day delay in effectiveness and to make the Baseline Amendment final measures upon publication in the Federal Register. This rule relieves restrictions by removing gross tonnage and net tonnage from vessel baseline specifications, removing the one-time baseline size and horsepower upgrade restriction, and removing the requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports. Removing gross tonnage and net tonnage from vessel baseline specifications and removing the onetime baseline size and horsepower upgrade restrictions will provide vessel owners the opportunity to replace their vessels on a larger number of compatible vessels. This will give vessel owners more flexibility while not increasing the capacity of the fleet. Removing the requirement to send in negative fishing reports will eliminate the burden of sending in weekly or monthly reports for non-active vessels. Vessel owners will be able to take advantage of these changes immediately upon publication and will not have to wait for the regulations to become effective to finalize vessel sales or upgrades that they may have been looking into during the final development of this action and the proposed rule. This rule should be implemented quickly because it relieves these restrictions and does not add any measures that require preparation. Immediately upon its implementation it will increase flexibility for the fleet and reduce industry and Federal cost/time burdens for vessel specification verifications, vessel replacement, vessel upgrades, and VTR processing/ reporting. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: August 21, 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 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. E:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 51756 § 648.2 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 165 / Wednesday, August 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations [Amended] 2. In § 648.2, remove the definition of ‘‘Substantially similar harvesting capacity.’’ ■ 3. In § 648.4, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i)(E)(1), (a)(1)(i)(E)(2), (a)(1)(i)(F)(1), (a)(1)(i)(F)(2), (a)(1)(i)(H), (a)(3)(i)(H), (a)(13)(i)(E)(1), (a)(13)(i)(F), and (a)(13)(i)(H) to read as follows: ■ rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES § 648.4 Vessel permits. (a) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (E) * * * (1) The replacement vessel’s horsepower may not exceed the horsepower of the vessel’s baseline specifications by more than 20 percent, as applicable. (2) The replacement vessel’s length overall may not exceed the length overall of the vessel’s baseline specifications by more than 10 percent, as applicable. (F) * * * (1) The upgraded vessel’s horsepower may not exceed the horsepower of the vessel’s baseline specifications by more than 20 percent, as applicable. (2) The upgraded vessel’s length overall may not exceed the vessel’s baseline length overall by more than 10 percent, as applicable. * * * * * (H) Vessel baseline specifications. The vessel baseline specifications in this section are the respective specifications (length, horsepower) of the vessel that was initially issued a limited access permit as of the date the initial vessel applied for such permit. * * * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * (H) Vessel baseline specifications. The vessel baseline specifications in this section are the respective specifications (length, horsepower) of the vessel as of March 22, 1999, unless the vessel is in the process of construction or rerigging or under agreement or written contract for construction or rerigging, as of the effective baseline specification date in which case the baseline specifications will be established no later than February 19, 2000. * * * * * (13) * * * (i) * * * (E) * * * (1) To be eligible for a limited access permit under this section, the replacement vessel’s length overall may not exceed the vessel’s baseline length overall by more than 10 percent. The replacement vessel must also meet any VerDate Sep<11>2014 12:34 Aug 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 other applicable criteria under paragraph (a)(13)(i)(F) of this section. * * * * * (F) Upgraded vessel. A vessel may be upgraded, whether through refitting or replacement, and be eligible to retain or renew a limited access permit, provided that the new length overall of the upgraded vessel does exceed the vessel’s baseline length overall by more than 10 percent, as applicable. * * * * * (H) Vessel baseline length. The vessel baseline length in this section is the overall length of the vessel indicated on the vessel’s initial limited access permit as of the date the initial vessel applies for such permit. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 648.7, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (f)(2)(i) to read as follows: § 648.7 Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (i) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a valid permit or eligible to renew a limited access permit under this part must maintain on board the vessel, and submit, an accurate fishing log report for each fishing trip, regardless of species fished for or taken, on forms supplied by or approved by the Regional Administrator. If authorized in writing by the Regional Administrator, a vessel owner or operator may submit reports electronically, for example by using a VMS or other media. With the exception of those vessel owners or operators fishing under a surfclam or ocean quahog permit, at least the following information and any other information required by the Regional Administrator must be provided: Vessel name; USCG documentation number (or state registration number, if undocumented); permit number; date/time sailed; date/ time landed; trip type; number of crew; number of anglers (if a charter or party boat); gear fished; quantity and size of gear; mesh/ring size; chart area fished; average depth; latitude/longitude (or loran station and bearings); total hauls per area fished; average tow time duration; hail weight, in pounds (or count of individual fish, if a party or charter vessel), by species, of all species, or parts of species, such as monkfish livers, landed or discarded; and, in the case of skate discards, ‘‘small’’ (i.e., less than 23 inches (58.42 cm), total length) or ‘‘large’’ (i.e., 23 inches (58.42 cm) or greater, total length) skates; dealer permit number; dealer name; date sold, port and state landed; and vessel PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 operator’s name, signature, and operator’s permit number (if applicable). * * * * * (f) * * * (2) * * * (i) For any vessel not issued a NE multispecies; Atlantic herring permit; or any Atlantic mackerel, longfin squid, Illex squid, or butterfish permit; fishing vessel log reports, required by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, must be postmarked or received by NMFS within 15 days after the end of the reporting month. For any vessel issued a NE multispecies permit; Atlantic herring permit; or any Atlantic mackerel, longfin squid, Illex squid, or butterfish permit; fishing vessel log reports must be postmarked or received by midnight of the first Tuesday following the end of the reporting week. For the purposes of this paragraph (f)(2)(i), the date when fish are offloaded will establish the reporting week or month the VTR must be submitted to NMFS, as appropriate. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.14, revise paragraphs (b)(4) and (k)(2)(i) to read as follows: § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) Fish for, possess, or land species regulated under this part with or from a vessel that is issued a limited access or moratorium permit under § 648.4(a) and that has had the horsepower or length overall of such vessel or its replacement upgraded or increased in excess of the limitations specified in § 648.4(a)(1)(i)(E) and (F). * * * * * (k) * * * (2) * * * (i) Fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies with or from a vessel that has had the length overall of such vessel, or its replacement, increased or upgraded in excess of limitations specified in § 648.4(a)(1)(i)(E) and (F). * * * * * ■ 6. In § 648.82, revise paragraphs (l)(1)(ii) and (l)(1)(iii) to read as follows: § 648.82 Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access vessels. * * * * * (l) * * * (1) * * * (ii) NE multispecies DAS may be transferred only to a vessel with a baseline main engine horsepower rating that is no more than 20 percent greater than the baseline engine horsepower of the transferor vessel. NE multispecies DAS may be transferred only to a vessel with a baseline length overall that is no E:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 165 / Wednesday, August 26, 2015 / Rules and Regulations more than 10 percent greater than the baseline length overall of the transferor vessel. For the purposes of this program, the baseline horsepower and length overall are those associated with the permit as of January 29, 2004. Upon approval of the transfer, the baseline of the transferee vessel would be the smaller baseline of the two vessels or the vessel owner could choose to adopt the larger baseline of the two vessels provided such an upgrade is consistent with provisions of this paragraph (l)(1)(ii). A vessel that has executed a one-time downgrade of a DAS Leasing Program baseline in accordance with paragraph (k)(4)(xi) of this section is subject to the restrictions of paragraph (k)(4)(xi)(C) of this section. (iii) The transferor vessel must transfer all of its Federal limited access permits for which it is eligible to the transferee vessel in accordance with the vessel replacement restrictions under § 648.4, or permanently cancel such permits. When duplicate permits exist, i.e., those permits for which both the transferor and transferee vessel are eligible, one of the duplicate permits must be permanently cancelled. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2015–21143 Filed 8–25–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 141021887–5172–02] RIN 0648–XE139 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; reallocation. AGENCY: NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from vessels using jig gear and catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2015 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested. rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 12:34 Aug 25, 2015 Jkt 235001 Effective August 21, 2015 through 2400 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The 2015 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) specified for vessels using jig gear in the BSAI is 1,418 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) and one inseason adjustment (80 FR 3496, January 23, 2015). The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) has determined that jig vessels will not be able to harvest 1,318 mt of the remaining 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(1). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A), NMFS apportions 1,318 mt of Pacific cod to the annual amount specified for catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. The 2015 Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the BSAI is 444 mt as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015). The Regional Administrator has determined that catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear will not be able to harvest 424 mt of the remaining 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(3). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A), NMFS apportions 424 mt of Pacific cod to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. The harvest specifications for Pacific cod included in the final 2015 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) and inseason adjustment (80 FR 3496, January 23, 2015) are revised as follows: 100 mt for vessels using jig gear, 20 mt for catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear, and 7,880 mt to catcher vessels less than DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 51757 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the reallocation of Pacific cod specified from other sectors to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Since the fishery is currently open, it is important to immediately inform the industry as to the revised allocations. Immediate notification is necessary to allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery, to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet as well as processors. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of August 20, 2015. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 21, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–21137 Filed 8–21–15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\26AUR1.SGM 26AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 165 (Wednesday, August 26, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51754-51757]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-21143]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No: 110907562-5681-03]
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: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule announces the approval of the Omnibus 
Amendment to the Fishery Management Plans of the Northeastern United 
States and implements the amendment's approved management measures to 
simplify vessel baselines. The Baseline Amendment eliminates the one-
time limit on vessel upgrades and removes gross and net tonnages from 
the vessel baseline specifications that NMFS considers when determining 
a vessel's baseline for replacement purposes. Implementing these 
measures reduces the administrative burden to permit holders and NMFS 
and has little effect on fleet capacity.
    This rule also removes the requirement for vessels to send in 
negative fishing reports (i.e., ``did not fish'' reports) during months 
or weeks when vessels were inactive. NMFS no longer needs these reports 
due to improved trip-level matching. Therefore, NMFS removes this 
requirement to simplify the regulations and reduce reporting burdens 
for the industry.

DATES: Effective August 26, 2015.

ADDRESSES: NMFS developed an environmental assessment (EA) for this 
action that describes the action and other considered alternatives and 
provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of these measures. Copies 
of the Amendment, the EA, and the small entity compliance guide are 
available upon request from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, 
NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298, or available on the Internet at: 
http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/mediacenter/ongoing/omnibus_amendment_to_simplify_vessel_baselines.html.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils 
submitted the Baseline Amendment to NMFS for approval at their November 
18, 2014, and October 8, 2014, meetings, respectively. We prepared the 
amendment on behalf of the Councils. We reviewed and finalized the 
amendment document to ensure consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the 
fishery management plans that have vessel baseline requirements, and 
other applicable laws. NMFS has approved the Baseline Amendment in its 
entirety.
    Baseline regulations currently require that a replacement vessel or 
an upgrade made to an existing vessel with a limited access permit be 
within 10 percent of the size (i.e., length, gross tonnage, and net 
tonnage) and 20 percent of the horsepower of the permit's baseline 
vessel. In addition, regulations limit permit holders to a one-time 
upgrade of the vessel size and horsepower specifications.
    This final rule eliminates gross and net tonnage from the baseline 
specifications that NMFS considers 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. Eliminating tonnages simplifies the 
vessel baseline verification and replacement process. In addition, it 
could reduce the cost burden on the industry if vessel owners only need 
horsepower verification because eliminating the tonnage baselines will 
eliminate the need for owners to get a marine survey of their vessel 
prior to any permit replacement or upgrade transactions.
    This final rule removes the one-time limit on vessel upgrades. 
Eliminating the one-time upgrade limit will provide more flexibility 
for vessel owners in the selection of replacement vessels and upgrades 
to existing vessels. Eliminating the one-time limit will 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.
    The Baseline Amendment implemented by this final rule does not 
modify any other baseline specifications or measures.
    This final rule also removes the requirement for vessels to send in 
negative fishing reports (i.e., ``did not fish'' reports) during months 
or weeks when vessels are inactive. This change in reporting 
requirements was not part of the Baseline Amendment. We are removing 
this requirement under the Secretary's authority at section 305(d) of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act to promulgate regulations necessary to carry 
out Councils' amendments consistently with the Act. Eliminating this 
requirement simplifies the regulations and reduces reporting burdens 
for the industry. In the past, these negative fishing reports were 
necessary to aid in data matching and quota monitoring. In recent 
years, we updated our monitoring systems at the Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office and these negative fishing reports are no 
longer necessary. Vessels that fish will still be required to report 
all trips on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on permits that they 
retain.
Comments and Responses
    NMFS received two comment letters in response to the proposed rule 
from the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association and Lund's 
Fisheries Incorporated. We provide responses below to the issues these 
commenters raised. NMFS may only approve, disapprove, or partially 
approve measures in the Baseline Amendment, and cannot substantively 
amend, add, or delete measures beyond what is necessary under section 
305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to discharge its responsibility to 
carry out such measures.
    Comment 1: Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association was 
supportive of this action, but it was concerned that the changes in the 
Baseline Amendment could encourage

[[Page 51755]]

additional requests to liberalize the vessel upgrading/replacement 
regulations. It strongly opposes any further liberalization of vessel 
baseline requirements because it believes it would result in a large 
increase in fleet capacity, which would have negative impacts on a 
number of offshore fisheries.
    Response: This action is limited in scope and will not increase the 
capacity of the fleet. Any changes that would affect fleet capacity 
must go through both the MAFMC and the NEFMC. NMFS encourages the 
Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association and all other interested 
parties to participate in the Council process should the Councils 
consider any future changes to vessel baseline and capacity issues.
    Comment 2: Lund's Fisheries Incorporated supported the amendment, 
but it asked that we clarify that the baseline specification for fish 
hold capacity remains in place.
    Response: Currently, Tier 1 or Tier 2 limited access mackerel 
permits have an additional baseline specification for fish hold 
capacity. This rule does not remove fish hold capacity from the Tier 1 
or Tier 2 limited access mackerel baseline specifications.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
and other applicable law.
    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this 
rule is not significant according to Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    This final rule does not contain policies with federalism or 
``takings'' implications, as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and 
E.O. 12630, respectively.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration at the proposed rule stage that this rule will 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. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis is not required and none has been prepared.
    This action contains collection-of-information requirements subject 
the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The request to remove the collection 
burden for vessel gross and net tonnages, vessel upgrades, and did not 
fish report requirements were approved by OMB under the NMFS Greater 
Atlantic Region Family of Forms (OMB Control No. 0648-0202 and 0648-
0212).
    Removing tonnages from vessel baselines may simplify or eliminate 
the need for a permit holder to hire a naval architect to determine and 
document tonnage if it was not previously established. NMFS estimates 
the resulting average cost savings of as much as $375 per survey. 
Removing tonnages and upgrades may negate the need for a permit holder 
to hire a third party to research the permit's history and prepare the 
replacement application. Estimates of the costs for these third party 
services were not available, but NMFS estimates that permit holders 
spend an average of 3 hours, or $270 in labor costs, preparing vessel 
replacement applications.
    In 2014, NMFS received 92 vessels replacement requests for permits 
that had baseline requirements for a total cost of $25,875 and 279 
burden hours. We estimate that the removal of GRT and NT and the one-
time upgrade will reduce the need for surveys and the time involved in 
preparing a vessel replacement application. We estimate that this 
change will reduce the cost burden on the industry by $12,750 and 139 
burden hours per year for a total of $13,125 and 140 burden hours.
    Vessels are no longer required to send in negative fishing reports 
(i.e., ``did not fish'' reports) during months or weeks when fishing 
did not occur. Vessel owners are still required to report all fishing 
trip activity on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on the 
requirements associated with their vessel permits. The collection of 
negative fishing reports is no longer needed to determine if a vessel 
has engaged in fishing activity and submitted required trip reports due 
to improved trip-level data matching and the expansion of other 
monitoring systems (e.g., Vessel Monitoring Systems).
    The relief of burden estimates for removing this requirement 
applies to all federally permitted vessels. In 2014, NMFS received 
approximately 78,294 did not fish reports. We estimated public 
reporting burden for submitting these reports to average 2 min per 
response with an associated cost of $0.45. Therefore, the removal of 
78,294 did not fish reports reduces total compliance costs by $35,232, 
and reduce reporting burden by 2,609 hr annually.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that 
because this rule is relieving restrictions, there is good cause, under 
authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness and to make the Baseline Amendment final measures upon 
publication in the Federal Register.
    This rule relieves restrictions by removing gross tonnage and net 
tonnage from vessel baseline specifications, removing the one-time 
baseline size and horsepower upgrade restriction, and removing the 
requirement for vessels to send in negative fishing reports. Removing 
gross tonnage and net tonnage from vessel baseline specifications and 
removing the one-time baseline size and horsepower upgrade restrictions 
will provide vessel owners the opportunity to replace their vessels on 
a larger number of compatible vessels. This will give vessel owners 
more flexibility while not increasing the capacity of the fleet. 
Removing the requirement to send in negative fishing reports will 
eliminate the burden of sending in weekly or monthly reports for non-
active vessels. Vessel owners will be able to take advantage of these 
changes immediately upon publication and will not have to wait for the 
regulations to become effective to finalize vessel sales or upgrades 
that they may have been looking into during the final development of 
this action and the proposed rule.
    This rule should be implemented quickly because it relieves these 
restrictions and does not add any measures that require preparation. 
Immediately upon its implementation it will increase flexibility for 
the fleet and reduce industry and Federal cost/time burdens for vessel 
specification verifications, vessel replacement, vessel upgrades, and 
VTR processing/reporting.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 21, 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 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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

[[Page 51756]]

Sec.  648.2  [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  648.2, remove the definition of ``Substantially similar 
harvesting capacity.''

0
3. In Sec.  648.4, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i)(E)(1), (a)(1)(i)(E)(2), 
(a)(1)(i)(F)(1), (a)(1)(i)(F)(2), (a)(1)(i)(H), (a)(3)(i)(H), 
(a)(13)(i)(E)(1), (a)(13)(i)(F), and (a)(13)(i)(H) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.4  Vessel permits.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (1) The replacement vessel's horsepower may not exceed the 
horsepower of the vessel's baseline specifications by more than 20 
percent, as applicable.
    (2) The replacement vessel's length overall may not exceed the 
length overall of the vessel's baseline specifications by more than 10 
percent, as applicable.
    (F) * * *
    (1) The upgraded vessel's horsepower may not exceed the horsepower 
of the vessel's baseline specifications by more than 20 percent, as 
applicable.
    (2) The upgraded vessel's length overall may not exceed the 
vessel's baseline length overall by more than 10 percent, as 
applicable.
* * * * *
    (H) Vessel baseline specifications. The vessel baseline 
specifications in this section are the respective specifications 
(length, horsepower) of the vessel that was initially issued a limited 
access permit as of the date the initial vessel applied for such 
permit.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (H) Vessel baseline specifications. The vessel baseline 
specifications in this section are the respective specifications 
(length, horsepower) of the vessel as of March 22, 1999, unless the 
vessel is in the process of construction or rerigging or under 
agreement or written contract for construction or rerigging, as of the 
effective baseline specification date in which case the baseline 
specifications will be established no later than February 19, 2000.
* * * * *
    (13) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (1) To be eligible for a limited access permit under this section, 
the replacement vessel's length overall may not exceed the vessel's 
baseline length overall by more than 10 percent. The replacement vessel 
must also meet any other applicable criteria under paragraph 
(a)(13)(i)(F) of this section.
* * * * *
    (F) Upgraded vessel. A vessel may be upgraded, whether through 
refitting or replacement, and be eligible to retain or renew a limited 
access permit, provided that the new length overall of the upgraded 
vessel does exceed the vessel's baseline length overall by more than 10 
percent, as applicable.
* * * * *
    (H) Vessel baseline length. The vessel baseline length in this 
section is the overall length of the vessel indicated on the vessel's 
initial limited access permit as of the date the initial vessel applies 
for such permit.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  648.7, revise paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (f)(2)(i) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.7  Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a valid permit or 
eligible to renew a limited access permit under this part must maintain 
on board the vessel, and submit, an accurate fishing log report for 
each fishing trip, regardless of species fished for or taken, on forms 
supplied by or approved by the Regional Administrator. If authorized in 
writing by the Regional Administrator, a vessel owner or operator may 
submit reports electronically, for example by using a VMS or other 
media. With the exception of those vessel owners or operators fishing 
under a surfclam or ocean quahog permit, at least the following 
information and any other information required by the Regional 
Administrator must be provided: Vessel name; USCG documentation number 
(or state registration number, if undocumented); permit number; date/
time sailed; date/time landed; trip type; number of crew; number of 
anglers (if a charter or party boat); gear fished; quantity and size of 
gear; mesh/ring size; chart area fished; average depth; latitude/
longitude (or loran station and bearings); total hauls per area fished; 
average tow time duration; hail weight, in pounds (or count of 
individual fish, if a party or charter vessel), by species, of all 
species, or parts of species, such as monkfish livers, landed or 
discarded; and, in the case of skate discards, ``small'' (i.e., less 
than 23 inches (58.42 cm), total length) or ``large'' (i.e., 23 inches 
(58.42 cm) or greater, total length) skates; dealer permit number; 
dealer name; date sold, port and state landed; and vessel operator's 
name, signature, and operator's permit number (if applicable).
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) For any vessel not issued a NE multispecies; Atlantic herring 
permit; or any Atlantic mackerel, longfin squid, Illex squid, or 
butterfish permit; fishing vessel log reports, required by paragraph 
(b)(1)(i) of this section, must be postmarked or received by NMFS 
within 15 days after the end of the reporting month. For any vessel 
issued a NE multispecies permit; Atlantic herring permit; or any 
Atlantic mackerel, longfin squid, Illex squid, or butterfish permit; 
fishing vessel log reports must be postmarked or received by midnight 
of the first Tuesday following the end of the reporting week. For the 
purposes of this paragraph (f)(2)(i), the date when fish are offloaded 
will establish the reporting week or month the VTR must be submitted to 
NMFS, as appropriate.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  648.14, revise paragraphs (b)(4) and (k)(2)(i) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Fish for, possess, or land species regulated under this part 
with or from a vessel that is issued a limited access or moratorium 
permit under Sec.  648.4(a) and that has had the horsepower or length 
overall of such vessel or its replacement upgraded or increased in 
excess of the limitations specified in Sec.  648.4(a)(1)(i)(E) and (F).
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies with or from a 
vessel that has had the length overall of such vessel, or its 
replacement, increased or upgraded in excess of limitations specified 
in Sec.  648.4(a)(1)(i)(E) and (F).
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  648.82, revise paragraphs (l)(1)(ii) and (l)(1)(iii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  648.82  Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access 
vessels.

* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) NE multispecies DAS may be transferred only to a vessel with a 
baseline main engine horsepower rating that is no more than 20 percent 
greater than the baseline engine horsepower of the transferor vessel. 
NE multispecies DAS may be transferred only to a vessel with a baseline 
length overall that is no

[[Page 51757]]

more than 10 percent greater than the baseline length overall of the 
transferor vessel. For the purposes of this program, the baseline 
horsepower and length overall are those associated with the permit as 
of January 29, 2004. Upon approval of the transfer, the baseline of the 
transferee vessel would be the smaller baseline of the two vessels or 
the vessel owner could choose to adopt the larger baseline of the two 
vessels provided such an upgrade is consistent with provisions of this 
paragraph (l)(1)(ii). A vessel that has executed a one-time downgrade 
of a DAS Leasing Program baseline in accordance with paragraph 
(k)(4)(xi) of this section is subject to the restrictions of paragraph 
(k)(4)(xi)(C) of this section.
    (iii) The transferor vessel must transfer all of its Federal 
limited access permits for which it is eligible to the transferee 
vessel in accordance with the vessel replacement restrictions under 
Sec.  648.4, or permanently cancel such permits. When duplicate permits 
exist, i.e., those permits for which both the transferor and transferee 
vessel are eligible, one of the duplicate permits must be permanently 
cancelled.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2015-21143 Filed 8-25-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P