Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments, 72951-72953 [2015-29795]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 225 / Monday, November 23, 2015 / Notices (SSC) will meet in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The meetings will be held on December 8–10, 2015. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for specific dates and times. ADDRESSES: The meetings will be held at the Caribbean Fishery Management ˜ Council Headquarters, 270 Munoz Rivera Avenue, Suite 401, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Caribbean Fishery Management Council, ˜ 270 Munoz Rivera Avenue, Suite 401, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918–1903; telephone: (787) 766–5926. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Caribbean Fishery Management Council’s SSC will hold a three-day meeting to discuss the items contained in the following agenda: DATES: December 8, 2015, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Æ Call to Order Æ Island-Based Fishery Management: Choosing Species to be Included for Federal Management Within Each Island Group • Review Draft List of Species Selected for Management—Review Æ Puerto Rico Æ St. Croix Æ St. Thomas/St. John • Next Steps in Developing Island Based Æ Action 2—Species Complexes— SERO Update • SEDAR 46 U. S. Caribbean DataLimited Species Workshop Update Æ Data Review—SEFSC Æ Alternative Methods for Establishing Reference Points Æ Review Methods SEFSC December 9, 2015, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. • SEDAR 46 U. S. Caribbean DataLimited Species Workshop Update (continued) Æ Data Review—SEFSC Æ Alternative Methods for Establishing Reference Points Æ Review Methods SEFSC • Next Steps in Developing Island Based Æ Action 3—Reference Points Æ Other Needed Actions Æ 5 year CFMC Research Plan wgreen on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES December 10, 2015, 9 a.m.—12 p.m. • Finalize 5 year CFMC Research Plan • Review average landings relative to ACLs and proposed closures Special Accommodations These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. For more information or request for sign language interpretation and other VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:25 Nov 20, 2015 Jkt 238001 auxiliary aids, please contact Mr. ´ Miguel A. Rolon, Executive Director, Caribbean Fishery Management Council, ˜ 270 Munoz Rivera Avenue, Suite 401, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00918–1903, telephone (787) 766–5926, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Dated: November 18, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–29783 Filed 11–20–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE308 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and initiate scoping process; request for comments. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council announces its intention to prepare, in cooperation with NMFS, an environmental impact statement in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. An environmental impact statement may be necessary to provide analytical support for Amendment 22 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which would set criteria for a limited entry program for the small-mesh multispecies (whiting) fishery. This notice is to alert the interested public of the scoping process and potential development of a draft environmental impact statement and to outline opportunity for public participation in that process. DATES: Written and electronic scoping comments must be received on or before 5 p.m., local time, January 7, 2016. ADDRESSES: Written scoping comments on Amendment 22 may be sent by any of the following methods: • Email to the following address: comments@nefmc.org; • Mail to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950; or SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 72951 • Fax to (978) 465–3116. Requests for copies of the Amendment 22 scoping document and other information should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone (978) 465–0492. The scoping document is accessible electronically via the Internet at http://www.nefmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The New England Fishery Management Council, working through its public participatory committee and meeting processes, anticipates the development of an amendment that may be analyzed through an environmental impact statement (EIS), dependent on addressing applicable criteria in the Council on Environmental Quality regulations and guidance for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Amendment 22 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is anticipated to consider criteria that would restrict access to the directed whiting fishery based on past participation by vessels in the fishery and possibly other factors through the establishment of a limited entry program. Amendment 22 would also determine limits and fishery regulations that would apply to qualifying and nonqualifying vessels. The small-mesh multispecies fishery is managed through a set of exemptions from the requirements of the ‘‘largemesh’’ multispecies fishery. The current small-mesh exemptions under the FMP were first established in Amendment 5 in 1994. Amendment 5 prevented fishing with mesh smaller than the established minimum size in Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank Regulated Mesh Areas, unless exempted fisheries could be established that reduce the bycatch of regulated multispecies to less than 5 percent of the total weight of fish on board. Since that time, experimental and exempted fisheries for small-mesh multispecies in this area have evolved through cooperative experimentation, gear research, and gear technologies that significantly reduce bycatch of nontarget species, especially regulated multispecies. A number of amendments and framework adjustments revised management of the small-mesh fishery, including the relationships between E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 wgreen on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 72952 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 225 / Monday, November 23, 2015 / Notices retention limits and net mesh size, created and then modified a seasonal raised footrope trawl fishery in Cape Cod Bay, made minor modifications to several related measures, and created a raised footrope trawl whiting fishery in the inshore Gulf of Maine. Using a September 9, 1996, control date, the Council developed and submitted Amendment 12 to establish limited access criteria during 1999. Due to concerns about equity and overfishing, the limited access criteria in this amendment were disapproved (See the final rule (65 FR 6766; March 29, 2000) for Amendment 12 here: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ sfd/multifr/65FR16765.pdf). In 2006, the Council held new scoping hearings for an second limited entry amendment, which at the time was known as Amendment 15 (http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ sfd/multifr/65FR16765.pdf) and began development of limited access alternatives using March 25, 2003, control date and fishery data (dealer and VTR) through 2005. Extensive analyses were completed through May 2007 by Whiting Advisors and the Small Mesh Multispecies Committee to develop and evaluate alternatives. Concerns were raised, and potential solutions generated, to address ‘‘historic’’ whiting fisheries that had lost access in the mid2000s due to groundfish restrictions and/or changes in availability of smallmesh multispecies. Between the 2006 scoping hearings and May 2007, substantial progress was made to analyze the fishery and develop alternatives, but the Council encountered data, enforcement, and compliance problems that compromised any approach that could be taken. Because these issues could not be resolved in a timely manner, the Council took up higher priority issues in 2008 and work on the amendment was discontinued. Many of the issues that were raised at that time have not been resolved. Amendment 19 (http:// s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/Final_ Amendment_19.pdf) was approved and implemented on April 4, 2013 (http:// s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/ amend19final_rule.pdf), establishing allowable biological catch specifications, annual catch limits, and accountability measures individually for northern and southern stocks of whiting (silver and offshore hakes) and red hake. These limits were set using a benchmark stock assessment conducted in 2010 (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/ publications/crd/crd1101/). The most recent action was a Specifications Document for Fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:25 Nov 20, 2015 Jkt 238001 Years 2015–2017 (http:// www.nefmc.org/library/2015–2017whiting-specifications), taken in response to an operational assessment that updated the stock status and to make a correction to the northern red hake accountability measure. The operational assessment determined that overfishing of northern red hake was occurring in 2013 (http:// s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/SAFEReport-for-Fishing-Year-2013.pdf), a situation that the Council addressed by changing the ABC and reducing northern red hake possession limits. The assessment detected a large 2013 year class, but its size was imprecise and it would not enter the fishery until 2015–2016. Because this large year class could cause excessive discards with the reduced northern red hake possession limits, a new operational red hake assessment was requested and presented to the Council in September 2015. The Council is considering adjusting the red hake specifications based on that update. Amendment 22 The purpose of Amendment 22 is to implement measures that would prevent unrestrained increases in fishing effort by new entrants to the fishery. The need for the amendment is to reduce the potential for a rapid escalation of the small-mesh multispecies fishery, possibly causing overfishing and having a negative effect on red hake and whiting markets. The outcome of both would have negative effects on fishery participants. The amendment is intended to ensure that catches of the small-mesh multispecies and other nontarget species will be at or below specifications, reducing the potential for causing accountability measures to be triggered and resulting closure of the directed fishery. The Council’s Small-Mesh Multispecies Committee and the Council will be identifying the goals and objectives for Amendment 22 following the scoping period and will then develop alternatives to meet the purpose and need of the action. Following input from these Council bodies and the public, the Council will select a range of alternatives to consider limited access criteria as well as limits and fishing restrictions for qualifying and non-qualifying vessels. Public Comment All persons affected by or otherwise interested in small-mesh multispecies management are invited to participate in determining the scope and significance of issues to be analyzed by submitting written comments (see ADDRESSES) or by PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 attending one of the four scoping meetings for this amendment. Scoping consists of identifying the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered. At this time in the process, the Council believes that the alternatives considered in Amendment 22 would consider limited access criteria based on a vessel’s history in the fishery and possibly other factors, as well as limits and fishing restrictions that would apply to qualifying and nonqualifying vessels. After the scoping process is completed, the Council will begin development of Amendment 22 and will prepare an EIS to analyze the impacts of the range of alternatives under consideration. Impacts may be direct, indirect, or cumulative. The Council will hold public hearings to receive comments on the draft amendment and on the analysis of its impacts presented in the Draft EIS. In addition to soliciting comment on this notice, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the measures and alternatives being considered by the Council through public meetings and public comment periods consistent with NEPA, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The following scoping meetings have been scheduled. The Council will take and discuss scoping comments on this amendment at the following public meetings: 1. Tuesday, December 1, 2015; 5:30 p.m.; Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring Street, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 775– 2311. 2. Monday, December 7, 2015; 7 p.m.; MA DMF of Marine Fisheries; Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station; 30 Emerson Ave; Gloucester, MA 01930; (978) 282–0308. 3. Monday, December 14, 2015; 7 p.m.; Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 MacArthur Drive, New Bedford, MA 02740; (774) 634–2000. 4. Monday, December 21, 2015; 7 p.m.; Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation; 240 Edgemere St., Montauk, New York 11954; (631) 668– 1124 5. Webinar; Thursday, December 17, 2015; 3–5 p.m. Register to participate: https:// attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/ 5272201506328155394; Call in info: Toll: +1 (914) 614–3221; Access Code: 539–710–362. Special Accommodations The meetings are accessible to people with physical disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 225 / Monday, November 23, 2015 / Notices Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least five days prior to this meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 18, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–29795 Filed 11–20–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wgreen on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Title: Coastal Zone Management Program Administration Grants, Performance Reports, Amendments and Routine Program Changes, Section 306A and Section 309 Requirements, and Section 6217 Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program. OMB Control Number: 0648–0119. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Regular (revision and extension of a currently approved information collection). Number of Respondents: 34. Average Hours Per Response: Coastal Zone Management Performance Tracking, 25 hours; performance reports: Year 1, Sections A and B, 35 hours; Year 2, Section A, 10 hours; Year 3, Section A, 5 hours; Section C, 2 hours; amendments and program change documentation, 20 hours; Section 306a Application Checklist and documentation, 5 hours; Section 309 Strategy & Assessment Document Preparation, 260 hours; Section 309 Competitive Funding—Section A Semiannual Performance Report on Project Implementation and Section 305 Section A Semi-Annual Performance Report, 2 hours each; Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program Document Preparation and Section 305 Program Development Document, 1 hour each. Burden Hours: 9,144. Needs and Uses: This request is for revision and extension of a currently approved information collection. In 1972, in response to intense pressure on United States (U.S) coastal resources, and because of the importance of U.S. coastal areas, the VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:25 Nov 20, 2015 Jkt 238001 U.S. Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), 16 U.S.C. 1451 et. seq. The CZMA authorized a federal program to encourage coastal states and territories to develop comprehensive coastal management programs. The CZMA has been reauthorized on several occasions, most recently with the enactment of the Coastal Zone Protection Act of 1996. (CZMA as amended). The program is administered by the Secretary of Commerce, who in turn has delegated this responsibility to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Services (NOS). The coastal zone management grants provide funds to states and territories to: implement federally-approved coastal management programs; complete information for the Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) Performance Management System; develop program assessments multi-year strategies to enhance their programs within priority areas under Section 309 of the CZMA; submit documentation as described in the CZMA Section 306a on the approved coastal zone management programs; submit requests to update their federally-approved programs through amendments or program changes; and develop and submit state coastal nonpoint pollution control programs (CNP) as required under Section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments. Revision: The CZMP Performance Measurement System has been revised to reduce the number of measures on which state programs are required to report, resulting in an overall decrease in reporting burden for the performance measurement system. The assessment process under CZMA Section 309 has also been refined to rely more on readily available existing data and allow states to more quickly focus their assessments on high-priority enhancement areas. Affected Public: State, local and tribal governments. Frequency: Annually, semi-annually and on occasion. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to obtain or retain benefits. This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 72953 Dated: November 18, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2015–29750 Filed 11–20–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–08–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE300 Fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of SEDAR 45 postworkshop webinar for Gulf of Mexico Vermilion Snapper. AGENCY: The SEDAR 45 assessment of the Gulf of Mexico Vermilion Snapper will consist of one in-person workshop and a series of webinars. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. DATES: The SEDAR 45 post-workshop webinar will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on December 8, 2015. ADDRESSES: Meeting address: The meeting will be held via webinar. The webinar is open to members of the public. Those interested in participating should contact Julie A. Neer at SEDAR (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) to request an invitation providing webinar access information. Please request webinar invitations at least 24 hours in advance of each webinar. SEDAR address: 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie A. Neer, SEDAR Coordinator; (843) 571– 4366; email: Julie.neer@safmc.net SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils, in conjunction with NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions have implemented the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process, a multi-step method for determining the status of fish stocks in the Southeast Region. SEDAR is a multistep process including: (1) Data/ Assessment Workshop, and (2) a series of webinars. The product of the Data/ Assessment Workshop is a report which compiles and evaluates potential datasets and recommends which datasets are appropriate for assessment SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 225 (Monday, November 23, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72951-72953]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-29795]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE308


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan; Notice of Intent To Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments

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

ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and 
initiate scoping process; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The New England Fishery Management Council announces its 
intention to prepare, in cooperation with NMFS, an environmental impact 
statement in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. An 
environmental impact statement may be necessary to provide analytical 
support for Amendment 22 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan, which would set criteria for a limited entry program 
for the small-mesh multispecies (whiting) fishery. This notice is to 
alert the interested public of the scoping process and potential 
development of a draft environmental impact statement and to outline 
opportunity for public participation in that process.

DATES: Written and electronic scoping comments must be received on or 
before 5 p.m., local time, January 7, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Written scoping comments on Amendment 22 may be sent by any 
of the following methods:
     Email to the following address: comments@nefmc.org;
     Mail to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England 
Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 
01950; or
     Fax to (978) 465-3116.
    Requests for copies of the Amendment 22 scoping document and other 
information should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, 
New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, 
Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone (978) 465-0492. The scoping document 
is accessible electronically via the Internet at http://www.nefmc.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, 
New England Fishery Management Council, (978) 465-0492.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The New England Fishery Management Council, working through its 
public participatory committee and meeting processes, anticipates the 
development of an amendment that may be analyzed through an 
environmental impact statement (EIS), dependent on addressing 
applicable criteria in the Council on Environmental Quality regulations 
and guidance for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). Amendment 22 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP) is anticipated to consider criteria that would restrict 
access to the directed whiting fishery based on past participation by 
vessels in the fishery and possibly other factors through the 
establishment of a limited entry program. Amendment 22 would also 
determine limits and fishery regulations that would apply to qualifying 
and non-qualifying vessels.
    The small-mesh multispecies fishery is managed through a set of 
exemptions from the requirements of the ``large-mesh'' multispecies 
fishery. The current small-mesh exemptions under the FMP were first 
established in Amendment 5 in 1994. Amendment 5 prevented fishing with 
mesh smaller than the established minimum size in Gulf of Maine/Georges 
Bank Regulated Mesh Areas, unless exempted fisheries could be 
established that reduce the bycatch of regulated multispecies to less 
than 5 percent of the total weight of fish on board. Since that time, 
experimental and exempted fisheries for small-mesh multispecies in this 
area have evolved through cooperative experimentation, gear research, 
and gear technologies that significantly reduce bycatch of non-target 
species, especially regulated multispecies.
    A number of amendments and framework adjustments revised management 
of the small-mesh fishery, including the relationships between

[[Page 72952]]

retention limits and net mesh size, created and then modified a 
seasonal raised footrope trawl fishery in Cape Cod Bay, made minor 
modifications to several related measures, and created a raised 
footrope trawl whiting fishery in the inshore Gulf of Maine. Using a 
September 9, 1996, control date, the Council developed and submitted 
Amendment 12 to establish limited access criteria during 1999. Due to 
concerns about equity and overfishing, the limited access criteria in 
this amendment were disapproved (See the final rule (65 FR 6766; March 
29, 2000) for Amendment 12 here: http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sfd/multifr/65FR16765.pdf).
    In 2006, the Council held new scoping hearings for an second 
limited entry amendment, which at the time was known as Amendment 15 
(http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sfd/multifr/65FR16765.pdf) and began development of limited access alternatives 
using March 25, 2003, control date and fishery data (dealer and VTR) 
through 2005. Extensive analyses were completed through May 2007 by 
Whiting Advisors and the Small Mesh Multispecies Committee to develop 
and evaluate alternatives. Concerns were raised, and potential 
solutions generated, to address ``historic'' whiting fisheries that had 
lost access in the mid-2000s due to groundfish restrictions and/or 
changes in availability of small-mesh multispecies. Between the 2006 
scoping hearings and May 2007, substantial progress was made to analyze 
the fishery and develop alternatives, but the Council encountered data, 
enforcement, and compliance problems that compromised any approach that 
could be taken. Because these issues could not be resolved in a timely 
manner, the Council took up higher priority issues in 2008 and work on 
the amendment was discontinued. Many of the issues that were raised at 
that time have not been resolved.
    Amendment 19 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/Final_Amendment_19.pdf) was approved and implemented on April 4, 2013 
(http://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/amend19final_rule.pdf), establishing 
allowable biological catch specifications, annual catch limits, and 
accountability measures individually for northern and southern stocks 
of whiting (silver and offshore hakes) and red hake. These limits were 
set using a benchmark stock assessment conducted in 2010 (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1101/).
    The most recent action was a Specifications Document for Fishing 
Years 2015-2017 (http://www.nefmc.org/library/2015-2017-whiting-specifications), taken in response to an operational assessment that 
updated the stock status and to make a correction to the northern red 
hake accountability measure. The operational assessment determined that 
overfishing of northern red hake was occurring in 2013 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/SAFE-Report-for-Fishing-Year-2013.pdf), a 
situation that the Council addressed by changing the ABC and reducing 
northern red hake possession limits. The assessment detected a large 
2013 year class, but its size was imprecise and it would not enter the 
fishery until 2015-2016. Because this large year class could cause 
excessive discards with the reduced northern red hake possession 
limits, a new operational red hake assessment was requested and 
presented to the Council in September 2015. The Council is considering 
adjusting the red hake specifications based on that update.

Amendment 22

    The purpose of Amendment 22 is to implement measures that would 
prevent unrestrained increases in fishing effort by new entrants to the 
fishery. The need for the amendment is to reduce the potential for a 
rapid escalation of the small-mesh multispecies fishery, possibly 
causing overfishing and having a negative effect on red hake and 
whiting markets. The outcome of both would have negative effects on 
fishery participants. The amendment is intended to ensure that catches 
of the small-mesh multispecies and other non-target species will be at 
or below specifications, reducing the potential for causing 
accountability measures to be triggered and resulting closure of the 
directed fishery.
    The Council's Small-Mesh Multispecies Committee and the Council 
will be identifying the goals and objectives for Amendment 22 following 
the scoping period and will then develop alternatives to meet the 
purpose and need of the action. Following input from these Council 
bodies and the public, the Council will select a range of alternatives 
to consider limited access criteria as well as limits and fishing 
restrictions for qualifying and non-qualifying vessels.

Public Comment

    All persons affected by or otherwise interested in small-mesh 
multispecies management are invited to participate in determining the 
scope and significance of issues to be analyzed by submitting written 
comments (see ADDRESSES) or by attending one of the four scoping 
meetings for this amendment. Scoping consists of identifying the range 
of actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered. At this time in 
the process, the Council believes that the alternatives considered in 
Amendment 22 would consider limited access criteria based on a vessel's 
history in the fishery and possibly other factors, as well as limits 
and fishing restrictions that would apply to qualifying and non-
qualifying vessels. After the scoping process is completed, the Council 
will begin development of Amendment 22 and will prepare an EIS to 
analyze the impacts of the range of alternatives under consideration.
    Impacts may be direct, indirect, or cumulative. The Council will 
hold public hearings to receive comments on the draft amendment and on 
the analysis of its impacts presented in the Draft EIS. In addition to 
soliciting comment on this notice, the public will have the opportunity 
to comment on the measures and alternatives being considered by the 
Council through public meetings and public comment periods consistent 
with NEPA, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the Administrative Procedure 
Act. The following scoping meetings have been scheduled. The Council 
will take and discuss scoping comments on this amendment at the 
following public meetings:
    1. Tuesday, December 1, 2015; 5:30 p.m.; Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 
Spring Street, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 775-2311.
    2. Monday, December 7, 2015; 7 p.m.; MA DMF of Marine Fisheries; 
Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station; 30 Emerson Ave; Gloucester, 
MA 01930; (978) 282-0308.
    3. Monday, December 14, 2015; 7 p.m.; Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 
MacArthur Drive, New Bedford, MA 02740; (774) 634-2000.
    4. Monday, December 21, 2015; 7 p.m.; Montauk Playhouse Community 
Center Foundation; 240 Edgemere St., Montauk, New York 11954; (631) 
668-1124
    5. Webinar; Thursday, December 17, 2015; 3-5 p.m.
    Register to participate: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5272201506328155394; Call in info: Toll: +1 (914) 614-3221; Access 
Code: 539-710-362.

Special Accommodations

    The meetings are accessible to people with physical disabilities. 
Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids 
should be directed to

[[Page 72953]]

Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least five days prior to this meeting 
date.

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

    Dated: November 18, 2015.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-29795 Filed 11-20-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P