Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33, 80686-80689 [2015-32555]

Download as PDF 80686 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Rules and Regulations The Rule DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE In consideration of the foregoing, FRA amends part 225 of chapter II, subtitle B of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration PART 225–[AMENDED] [Docket No. 15060302–5999–02] 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648–BF14 1. The authority citation for part 225 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 103, 322(a), 20103, 20107, 20901–02, 21301, 21302, 21311; 28 U.S.C. 2461, note; and 49 CFR 1.89. 2. Amend § 225.19 by revising the first sentence of paragraph (c) and revising paragraph (e) to read as follows: Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 3 Correction ■ § 225.19 Primary groups of accidents/ incidents. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (c) Group II—Rail equipment. Rail equipment accidents/incidents are collisions, derailments, fires, explosions, acts of God, and other events involving the operation of ontrack equipment (standing or moving) that result in damages higher than the current reporting threshold (i.e., $6,700 for calendar years 2002 through 2005, $7,700 for calendar year 2006, $8,200 for calendar year 2007, $8,500 for calendar year 2008, $8,900 for calendar year 2009, $9,200 for calendar year 2010, $9,400 for calendar year 2011, $9,500 for calendar year 2012, $9,900 for calendar year 2013, $10,500 for calendar year 2014, $10,500 for calendar year 2015, and $10,500 for calendar year 2016) to railroad on-track equipment, signals, tracks, track structures, or roadbed, including labor costs and the costs for acquiring new equipment and material. * * * * * * * * (e) The reporting threshold is $6,700 for calendar years 2002 through 2005, $7,700 for calendar year 2006, $8,200 for calendar year 2007, $8,500 for calendar year 2008, $8,900 for calendar year 2009, $9,200 for calendar year 2010, $9,400 for calendar year 2011, $9,500 for calendar year 2012, $9,900 for calendar year 2013, $10,500 for calendar year 2014, $10,500 for calendar year 2015, and $10,500 for calendar year 2016. The procedure for determining the reporting threshold for calendar years 2006 and beyond appears as paragraphs 1–8 of appendix B to part 225. * * * * * Issued in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2015. Sarah Feinberg, Administrator. [FR Doc. 2015–32545 Filed 12–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:41 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 In notice document 2015–31708 beginning on page 78670 in the issue of Thursday, December 17, 2015, make the following corrections: 1. On page 78671, in the third column, in the eleventh line, ‘‘February 16, 2015’’ should read ‘‘February 16, 2016’’. § 622.372 Limited access system for king mackerel gillnet permits applicable in the southern Florida west coast subzone. 2. On page 78675, in the first column, in the eighth line, ‘‘February 16, 2015’’ should read ‘‘February 16, 2016’’. [FR Doc. C1–2015–31708 Filed 12–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505–01–D DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 131108946–5999–02] RIN 0648–BD76 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 7 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the Atlantic States (Dolphin and Wahoo FMP) and Amendment 33 to the FMP for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP) (Amendments 7/33), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 final rule revises the landing fish intact provisions for vessels that lawfully harvest dolphin, wahoo, or snappergrouper in or from Bahamian waters and return to the U.S exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The U.S. EEZ as described in this final rule refers to the Atlantic EEZ for dolphin and wahoo and the South Atlantic EEZ for snapper-grouper species. The purpose of this final rule is to improve the consistency and enforceability of Federal regulations with regards to landing fish intact provisions for vessels transiting from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ and to increase the social and economic benefits related to the recreational harvest of these species. DATES: This final rule is effective January 27, 2016. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendments 7/33, which includes an environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, and Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/s_atl/generic/2015/dw7_sg33/ index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nikhil Mehta, telephone: 727–824– 5305, or email: nikhil.mehta@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The dolphin and wahoo fishery is managed under the Dolphin and Wahoo FMP and the snapper-grouper fishery is managed under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. The FMPs were prepared by the Council and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On September 17, 2015, NMFS published a notice of availability for Amendments 7/33 and requested public comment (80 FR 55819). On October 7, 2015, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendments 7/33 and requested public comment (80 FR 60601). The proposed rule and Amendments 7/33 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by Amendments 7/33 and this final rule is provided below. Current Federal regulations require that dolphin or wahoo or snappergrouper species onboard a vessel traveling through the U.S. EEZ be maintained with the heads and fins intact and not be in fillet form. However, as implemented through Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP, an exemption applies to snappergrouper species that are lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and are E:\FR\FM\28DER1.SGM 28DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Rules and Regulations onboard a vessel returning to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ (63 FR 38298, July 16, 1998). That exemption allows that in the South Atlantic EEZ, snappergrouper lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel and the vessel remains in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ. The Bahamas does not allow for the commercial harvest of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper by U.S. vessels in Bahamian waters. Therefore, the measures in this final rule only apply to the recreational harvest of these species by vessels returning from The Bahamas to the U.S. EEZ. This final rule will not change potential liability under the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import, export, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase fish that are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law. Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule This final rule revises the landing fish intact provisions for vessels that lawfully harvest dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper in Bahamian waters and return to the U.S. EEZ. This final rule allows for dolphin and wahoo fillets to enter the U.S. EEZ after lawful harvest in The Bahamas; specifies the condition of any dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper fillets; describes how the recreational bag limit is determined for any fillets; explicitly prohibits the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper recreationally harvested in The Bahamas; specifies the required documentation to be onboard any vessels that have these fillets, and specifies transit and stowage provisions for any vessels with fillets. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES Landing Fish Intact Currently, all dolphin or wahoo in or from Atlantic EEZ are required to be maintained with head and fins intact. This final rule allows for dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters to be exempt from this provision when returning through the Atlantic EEZ under certain circumstances. Allowing these vessels to be exempt from the landing fish intact regulations increases the social and economic benefits for recreational fishers returning to the U.S. EEZ from Bahamian waters. This final rule also provides increased consistency between the dolphin and wahoo and snappergrouper regulations for vessels possessing fillets of these species and VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:41 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 transiting from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ. Snapper-grouper possessed in the South Atlantic EEZ are currently exempt from the landing fish intact requirement under certain conditions if the vessel lawfully harvested the snapper-grouper in The Bahamas. Amendments 7/33 and this final rule retain this exemption and revise it to include additional requirements. The Council and NMFS note that this exemption only applies to the landing fish intact provisions for fish in the U.S. EEZ, and does not exempt fishers from any other Federal fishing regulations such as fishing seasons, recreational bag limits, and size limits. Condition of Fillets To better allow for identification of the species of any fillets in the U.S. EEZ, this final rule requires that the skin be left intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper carcass on a vessel in transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ. This requirement is intended to assist law enforcement in identifying fillets to determine whether they are the species lawfully exempted by this final rule. Recreational Bag Limits Currently, all dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species harvested or possessed in or from the U.S. EEZ are required to adhere to the U.S. bag and possession limits. This final rule does not revise the bag and possession limits, but specifies how fillets are counted with respect to determining the number of fish onboard a vessel in transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ and ensuring compliance with U.S. bag and possession limits. This final rule specifies that for any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in the U.S. EEZ in fillet form, two fillets of the respective species of fish, regardless of the length of each fillet, are equivalent to one fish. This measure will assist law enforcement in enforcing the relevant U.S. bag and possession limits. Sale and Purchase Restrictions of Recreationally Harvested Dolphin, Wahoo or Snapper-Grouper This final rule explicitly prohibits the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species recreationally harvested in Bahamian waters and returned to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ. The Council determined that establishing a specific prohibition on the sale or purchase of any of these species from The Bahamas was necessary to ensure consistency with PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 80687 the current Federal regulations that prohibit recreational bag limit sales of these species. Required Documentation This final rule revises the documentation requirements for snapper-grouper species and implements documentation requirements for dolphin and wahoo harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in transit through the U.S. EEZ. For dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper fillets lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and on a vessel transiting through the U.S. EEZ, this final rule requires that valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are onboard and additionally requires that all vessel passengers have valid government passports with current stamps and dates. Requiring valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits on the vessel and requiring each vessel passenger to have a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas increases the likelihood that the vessel and passengers were lawfully fishing in The Bahamas, and thereby increases the likelihood that any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper fillets on the vessel were lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and not in the U.S. EEZ. Transit and Stowage Provisions This final rule revises the snappergrouper transit provisions, applies the transit provisions to vessels operating under the exemption for dolphin and wahoo, and requires fishing gear to be appropriately stowed on a vessel transiting through the U.S. EEZ with fillets of these species. The definition for ‘‘fishing gear appropriately stowed’’ means that ‘‘terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately.’’ The Council determined that specifying criteria for transit and fishing gear stowage for vessels returning from The Bahamas with fillets of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species would assist with the enforceability of the regulations and increase consistency with the state of Florida’s gear stowage regulations. Comments and Responses A total of three comment submissions were received on Amendments 7/33 and the proposed rule from individuals and a state agency. The state agency stated that it strongly supported the actions in E:\FR\FM\28DER1.SGM 28DER1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES 80688 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Rules and Regulations Amendments 7/33 and the proposed rule. Specific comments in the two other comment submissions related to the actions contained in Amendments 7/33 and the proposed rule, and NMFS’ respective responses, are summarized below. Comment 1: Large-sized dolphin may be filleted into more than two pieces per fish. The average size of dolphin fillets is large, and therefore, these large fillets cannot be transported properly from The Bahamas without destroying the quality of the meat. Response: NMFS agrees that dolphin and wahoo can grow to large sizes, that it is possible to fillet a dolphin into more than two pieces per fish, and that cooler space may be limited on small boats. At its March 2014 meeting, the Council’s Dolphin Wahoo Advisory Panel indicated that the quality of dolphin and wahoo caught on trips in The Bahamas and brought through U.S. Federal waters as fillets would be improved, because whole fish would not have to be stored with head and fins intact. In addition, allowing fillets of these species would make it easier for fishers in small boats to transport dolphin and wahoo back through the U.S. EEZ from Bahamian waters. The Council also determined that specifying two fillets as one fish for the purposes of determining the recreational bag and possession limits will assist law enforcement in enforcing these limits when applied to fishers with fillets of dolphin onboard that were harvested in The Bahamas and transiting through U.S. Federal waters. Comment 2: Non-compliance with the landing fish intact exemption will be an issue unless different recreational bag limit options are considered, such as setting the bag limit by weight of fillets. For example, a 20 lb (9 kg) per species per person would be a reasonable bag limit well within the Bahamian recreational catch limits. Response: NMFS disagrees. In developing Amendments 7/33, the Council considered using weight of fillets for determining the bag limit, but testimony from law enforcement officials and the U.S. Coast Guard established that it is not practical to weigh fish at sea. The Council discussed the issues of fish size and number of fillets obtainable from a dolphin, and, given the overall positive public support for allowing fillets, and balancing the needs for an effective law enforcement program, the Council determined that the most appropriate and enforceable means of determining compliance with recreational bag limits was to count two fillets of dolphin as one fish. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:41 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 Comment 3: NMFS is violating the rights of U.S. flagged vessels by not allowing fishing in U.S. Federal waters while in transit from The Bahamas. Response: NMFS disagrees. The final rule implementing Amendments 7/33 provides an exemption to the existing requirement that dolphin and wahoo and snapper-grouper species be maintained with the heads and fins intact in the U.S. EEZ and not be in fillet form. If fishers on U.S. flagged vessels transiting through the U.S. EEZ from The Bahamas choose to be exempted from the requirement to maintain those species with heads and fins intact, they must comply with the conditions of that exemption, which include a prohibition on fishing in the U.S. EEZ. The prohibition on fishing in the EEZ being implemented in this final rule for fishers transiting from The Bahamas and in possession of dolphin and wahoo fillets will make the regulations for these species consistent with the existing transit provisions for snapper-grouper species implemented by the final rule for Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP (63 FR 38298, July 16, 1998). Additionally, the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement has stated that it would be difficult to determine if a U.S. flagged vessel with fillets of dolphin and wahoo on board, and then fishing in the U.S. EEZ on return from The Bahamas, caught the fish in The Bahamas. Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic snappergrouper and Atlantic dolphin and wahoo and is consistent with the Amendments 7/33, the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final 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 during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding the certification and NMFS has not received any new information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Atlantic, Dolphin, Fillets, Fisheries, Fishing, Snapper-Grouper, Wahoo. Dated: December 21, 2015. Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 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 § 622.186, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows: ■ § 622.186 Landing fish intact. * * * * * (b) In the South Atlantic EEZ, snapper-grouper lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper carcasses, valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each person on the vessel has a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ with fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the South Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ. For the purpose of this paragraph, fishing gear appropriately stowed means that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately. See § 622.187(a)(3) for the limit of snapper-grouper fillets lawfully harvested from Bahamian waters that may transit through the South Atlantic EEZ. ■ 3. In § 622.187, add paragraph (a)(3) to read as follows: § 622.187 Bag and possession limits. (a) * * * (3) In the South Atlantic EEZ, a vessel that lawfully harvests snapper-grouper in Bahamian waters, as per § 622.186 (b), must comply with the bag and possession limits specified in this section. For determining how many E:\FR\FM\28DER1.SGM 28DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 248 / Monday, December 28, 2015 / Rules and Regulations snapper-grouper are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of snappergrouper, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one snappergrouper. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper carcass. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.192, add paragraph (k) to read as follows: § 622.192 Restrictions on sale/purchase. * * * * * (k) Snapper-grouper possessed pursuant to the bag and possession limits specified in § 622.187(a)(3) may not be sold or purchased. ■ 5. Revise § 622.276 to read as follows: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with RULES § 622.276 Landing fish intact. (a) Dolphin or wahoo in or from the Atlantic EEZ must be maintained with head and fins intact, except as specified in paragraph (b) of this section. Such fish may be eviscerated, gilled, and scaled, but must otherwise be maintained in a whole condition. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is responsible for ensuring that fish on that vessel in the EEZ are maintained intact and, if taken from the EEZ, are maintained intact through offloading ashore, as specified in this section. (b) In the Atlantic EEZ, dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin or wahoo carcasses, valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each person on the vessel has a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ with fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ. For the purpose of this paragraph, fishing gear appropriately stowed means that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately. ■ 6. In § 622.277, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) to read as follows: § 622.277 Bag and possession limits. * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 13:41 Dec 24, 2015 Jkt 238001 (a) * * * (1) Dolphin. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ— 10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, whichever is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying passenger. (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters (as per § 622.276(b))—10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, whichever is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying passenger. For the purposes of this paragraph, for determining how many dolphin are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of dolphin, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one dolphin. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin carcass. (2) Wahoo. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ— 2. (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters (as per § 622.276(b))—2. For the purposes of this paragraph, for determining how many wahoo are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of wahoo, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one wahoo. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any wahoo carcass. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 622.279, add paragraph (d) to read as follows: § 622.279 Restrictions on sale/purchase. * * * * * (d) Dolphin or wahoo possessed pursuant to the bag and possession limits specified in § 622.277(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2)(ii) may not be sold or purchased. [FR Doc. 2015–32555 Filed 12–24–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 150903814–5999–02] RIN 0648–XE171 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2016–2018 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues final specifications for the 2016–2018 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 80689 summer flounder and scup fisheries, and the 2016 and 2017 black sea bass fishery. This final rule specifies allowed harvest limits for both commercial and recreational fisheries. This action prohibits federally permitted commercial fishing vessels from landing summer flounder in Delaware in 2016 due to continued quota repayment from previous years’ overages. This action also reduces the 2016 black sea bass commercial quota to account for a catch overage in 2014. These actions are necessary to comply with regulations implementing the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan, and to ensure compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The intent of this action is to establish harvest levels and other management measures to ensure that these species are not overfished or subject to overfishing in 2016–2018. DATES: Effective January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018. ADDRESSES: Copies of the specifications document, consisting of an Environmental Assessment (EA), Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and other supporting documents used by the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committees and Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), are available from Dr. Christopher Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The specifications document is also accessible via the Internet at http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. The Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) consists of the IRFA, public comments and responses contained in this final rule, and the summary of impacts and alternatives contained in this final rule. Copies of the small entity compliance guide are available from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9218. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries under the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Fishery E:\FR\FM\28DER1.SGM 28DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 248 (Monday, December 28, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 80686-80689]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-32555]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 131108946-5999-02]
RIN 0648-BD76


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper 
Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations to implement Amendment 7 to the 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the 
Atlantic States (Dolphin and Wahoo FMP) and Amendment 33 to the FMP for 
the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-
Grouper FMP) (Amendments 7/33), as prepared and submitted by the South 
Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule revises 
the landing fish intact provisions for vessels that lawfully harvest 
dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper in or from Bahamian waters and 
return to the U.S exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The U.S. EEZ as 
described in this final rule refers to the Atlantic EEZ for dolphin and 
wahoo and the South Atlantic EEZ for snapper-grouper species. The 
purpose of this final rule is to improve the consistency and 
enforceability of Federal regulations with regards to landing fish 
intact provisions for vessels transiting from Bahamian waters through 
the U.S. EEZ and to increase the social and economic benefits related 
to the recreational harvest of these species.

DATES: This final rule is effective January 27, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendments 7/33, which includes an 
environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, and Regulatory 
Flexibility Act analysis, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional 
Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/generic/2015/dw7_sg33/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nikhil Mehta, telephone: 727-824-5305, 
or email: nikhil.mehta@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The dolphin and wahoo fishery is managed 
under the Dolphin and Wahoo FMP and the snapper-grouper fishery is 
managed under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. The FMPs were prepared by the 
Council and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On September 17, 2015, NMFS published a notice of availability for 
Amendments 7/33 and requested public comment (80 FR 55819). On October 
7, 2015, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendments 7/33 and 
requested public comment (80 FR 60601). The proposed rule and 
Amendments 7/33 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this 
final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by Amendments 7/33 and 
this final rule is provided below.
    Current Federal regulations require that dolphin or wahoo or 
snapper-grouper species onboard a vessel traveling through the U.S. EEZ 
be maintained with the heads and fins intact and not be in fillet form. 
However, as implemented through Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP, 
an exemption applies to snapper-grouper species that are lawfully 
harvested in Bahamian waters and are

[[Page 80687]]

onboard a vessel returning to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ (63 FR 
38298, July 16, 1998). That exemption allows that in the South Atlantic 
EEZ, snapper-grouper lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt 
from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, 
provided valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the 
vessel and the vessel remains in transit through the South Atlantic 
EEZ.
    The Bahamas does not allow for the commercial harvest of dolphin, 
wahoo, or snapper-grouper by U.S. vessels in Bahamian waters. 
Therefore, the measures in this final rule only apply to the 
recreational harvest of these species by vessels returning from The 
Bahamas to the U.S. EEZ. This final rule will not change potential 
liability under the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import, 
export, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase fish that are taken, 
possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law.

Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule revises the landing fish intact provisions for 
vessels that lawfully harvest dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper in 
Bahamian waters and return to the U.S. EEZ. This final rule allows for 
dolphin and wahoo fillets to enter the U.S. EEZ after lawful harvest in 
The Bahamas; specifies the condition of any dolphin, wahoo, and 
snapper-grouper fillets; describes how the recreational bag limit is 
determined for any fillets; explicitly prohibits the sale or purchase 
of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper recreationally harvested in 
The Bahamas; specifies the required documentation to be onboard any 
vessels that have these fillets, and specifies transit and stowage 
provisions for any vessels with fillets.

Landing Fish Intact

    Currently, all dolphin or wahoo in or from Atlantic EEZ are 
required to be maintained with head and fins intact. This final rule 
allows for dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters to be 
exempt from this provision when returning through the Atlantic EEZ 
under certain circumstances. Allowing these vessels to be exempt from 
the landing fish intact regulations increases the social and economic 
benefits for recreational fishers returning to the U.S. EEZ from 
Bahamian waters. This final rule also provides increased consistency 
between the dolphin and wahoo and snapper-grouper regulations for 
vessels possessing fillets of these species and transiting from 
Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ.
    Snapper-grouper possessed in the South Atlantic EEZ are currently 
exempt from the landing fish intact requirement under certain 
conditions if the vessel lawfully harvested the snapper-grouper in The 
Bahamas. Amendments 7/33 and this final rule retain this exemption and 
revise it to include additional requirements.
    The Council and NMFS note that this exemption only applies to the 
landing fish intact provisions for fish in the U.S. EEZ, and does not 
exempt fishers from any other Federal fishing regulations such as 
fishing seasons, recreational bag limits, and size limits.

Condition of Fillets

    To better allow for identification of the species of any fillets in 
the U.S. EEZ, this final rule requires that the skin be left intact on 
the entire fillet of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper carcass on 
a vessel in transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ. This 
requirement is intended to assist law enforcement in identifying 
fillets to determine whether they are the species lawfully exempted by 
this final rule.

Recreational Bag Limits

    Currently, all dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species 
harvested or possessed in or from the U.S. EEZ are required to adhere 
to the U.S. bag and possession limits. This final rule does not revise 
the bag and possession limits, but specifies how fillets are counted 
with respect to determining the number of fish onboard a vessel in 
transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ and ensuring 
compliance with U.S. bag and possession limits. This final rule 
specifies that for any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species 
lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in the U.S. 
EEZ in fillet form, two fillets of the respective species of fish, 
regardless of the length of each fillet, are equivalent to one fish. 
This measure will assist law enforcement in enforcing the relevant U.S. 
bag and possession limits.

Sale and Purchase Restrictions of Recreationally Harvested Dolphin, 
Wahoo or Snapper-Grouper

    This final rule explicitly prohibits the sale or purchase of any 
dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species recreationally harvested in 
Bahamian waters and returned to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ. The 
Council determined that establishing a specific prohibition on the sale 
or purchase of any of these species from The Bahamas was necessary to 
ensure consistency with the current Federal regulations that prohibit 
recreational bag limit sales of these species.

Required Documentation

    This final rule revises the documentation requirements for snapper-
grouper species and implements documentation requirements for dolphin 
and wahoo harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in transit 
through the U.S. EEZ. For dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper fillets 
lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and on a vessel transiting 
through the U.S. EEZ, this final rule requires that valid Bahamian 
fishing and cruising permits are onboard and additionally requires that 
all vessel passengers have valid government passports with current 
stamps and dates. Requiring valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits 
on the vessel and requiring each vessel passenger to have a valid 
government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas 
increases the likelihood that the vessel and passengers were lawfully 
fishing in The Bahamas, and thereby increases the likelihood that any 
dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper fillets on the vessel were lawfully 
harvested in Bahamian waters and not in the U.S. EEZ.

Transit and Stowage Provisions

    This final rule revises the snapper-grouper transit provisions, 
applies the transit provisions to vessels operating under the exemption 
for dolphin and wahoo, and requires fishing gear to be appropriately 
stowed on a vessel transiting through the U.S. EEZ with fillets of 
these species. The definition for ``fishing gear appropriately stowed'' 
means that ``terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or 
bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or 
rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such 
fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and 
stowed separately.'' The Council determined that specifying criteria 
for transit and fishing gear stowage for vessels returning from The 
Bahamas with fillets of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species 
would assist with the enforceability of the regulations and increase 
consistency with the state of Florida's gear stowage regulations.

Comments and Responses

    A total of three comment submissions were received on Amendments 7/
33 and the proposed rule from individuals and a state agency. The state 
agency stated that it strongly supported the actions in

[[Page 80688]]

Amendments 7/33 and the proposed rule. Specific comments in the two 
other comment submissions related to the actions contained in 
Amendments 7/33 and the proposed rule, and NMFS' respective responses, 
are summarized below.
    Comment 1: Large-sized dolphin may be filleted into more than two 
pieces per fish. The average size of dolphin fillets is large, and 
therefore, these large fillets cannot be transported properly from The 
Bahamas without destroying the quality of the meat.
    Response: NMFS agrees that dolphin and wahoo can grow to large 
sizes, that it is possible to fillet a dolphin into more than two 
pieces per fish, and that cooler space may be limited on small boats. 
At its March 2014 meeting, the Council's Dolphin Wahoo Advisory Panel 
indicated that the quality of dolphin and wahoo caught on trips in The 
Bahamas and brought through U.S. Federal waters as fillets would be 
improved, because whole fish would not have to be stored with head and 
fins intact. In addition, allowing fillets of these species would make 
it easier for fishers in small boats to transport dolphin and wahoo 
back through the U.S. EEZ from Bahamian waters. The Council also 
determined that specifying two fillets as one fish for the purposes of 
determining the recreational bag and possession limits will assist law 
enforcement in enforcing these limits when applied to fishers with 
fillets of dolphin onboard that were harvested in The Bahamas and 
transiting through U.S. Federal waters.
    Comment 2: Non-compliance with the landing fish intact exemption 
will be an issue unless different recreational bag limit options are 
considered, such as setting the bag limit by weight of fillets. For 
example, a 20 lb (9 kg) per species per person would be a reasonable 
bag limit well within the Bahamian recreational catch limits.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. In developing Amendments 7/33, the 
Council considered using weight of fillets for determining the bag 
limit, but testimony from law enforcement officials and the U.S. Coast 
Guard established that it is not practical to weigh fish at sea. The 
Council discussed the issues of fish size and number of fillets 
obtainable from a dolphin, and, given the overall positive public 
support for allowing fillets, and balancing the needs for an effective 
law enforcement program, the Council determined that the most 
appropriate and enforceable means of determining compliance with 
recreational bag limits was to count two fillets of dolphin as one 
fish.
    Comment 3: NMFS is violating the rights of U.S. flagged vessels by 
not allowing fishing in U.S. Federal waters while in transit from The 
Bahamas.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. The final rule implementing Amendments 7/
33 provides an exemption to the existing requirement that dolphin and 
wahoo and snapper-grouper species be maintained with the heads and fins 
intact in the U.S. EEZ and not be in fillet form. If fishers on U.S. 
flagged vessels transiting through the U.S. EEZ from The Bahamas choose 
to be exempted from the requirement to maintain those species with 
heads and fins intact, they must comply with the conditions of that 
exemption, which include a prohibition on fishing in the U.S. EEZ. The 
prohibition on fishing in the EEZ being implemented in this final rule 
for fishers transiting from The Bahamas and in possession of dolphin 
and wahoo fillets will make the regulations for these species 
consistent with the existing transit provisions for snapper-grouper 
species implemented by the final rule for Amendment 8 to the Snapper-
Grouper FMP (63 FR 38298, July 16, 1998). Additionally, the NMFS Office 
of Law Enforcement has stated that it would be difficult to determine 
if a U.S. flagged vessel with fillets of dolphin and wahoo on board, 
and then fishing in the U.S. EEZ on return from The Bahamas, caught the 
fish in The Bahamas.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management 
of South Atlantic snapper-grouper and Atlantic dolphin and wahoo and is 
consistent with the Amendments 7/33, the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law.
    This final 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 during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding the certification and NMFS has not received any new 
information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Atlantic, Dolphin, Fillets, Fisheries, Fishing, Snapper-Grouper, 
Wahoo.

    Dated: December 21, 2015.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 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.  622.186, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.186  Landing fish intact.

* * * * *
    (b) In the South Atlantic EEZ, snapper-grouper lawfully harvested 
in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be 
maintained with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains 
intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper carcasses, valid 
Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each 
person on the vessel has a valid government passport with current 
stamps and dates from The Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through 
the South Atlantic EEZ with fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the 
purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is in transit through the South 
Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the 
South Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ. For 
the purpose of this paragraph, fishing gear appropriately stowed means 
that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used 
with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and 
reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. 
Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed 
separately. See Sec.  622.187(a)(3) for the limit of snapper-grouper 
fillets lawfully harvested from Bahamian waters that may transit 
through the South Atlantic EEZ.

0
3. In Sec.  622.187, add paragraph (a)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.187  Bag and possession limits.

    (a) * * *
    (3) In the South Atlantic EEZ, a vessel that lawfully harvests 
snapper-grouper in Bahamian waters, as per Sec.  622.186 (b), must 
comply with the bag and possession limits specified in this section. 
For determining how many

[[Page 80689]]

snapper-grouper are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested 
lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of snapper-grouper, regardless 
of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one snapper-grouper. The 
skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper 
carcass.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  622.192, add paragraph (k) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.192  Restrictions on sale/purchase.

* * * * *
    (k) Snapper-grouper possessed pursuant to the bag and possession 
limits specified in Sec.  622.187(a)(3) may not be sold or purchased.

0
5. Revise Sec.  622.276 to read as follows:


Sec.  622.276  Landing fish intact.

    (a) Dolphin or wahoo in or from the Atlantic EEZ must be maintained 
with head and fins intact, except as specified in paragraph (b) of this 
section. Such fish may be eviscerated, gilled, and scaled, but must 
otherwise be maintained in a whole condition. The operator of a vessel 
that fishes in the EEZ is responsible for ensuring that fish on that 
vessel in the EEZ are maintained intact and, if taken from the EEZ, are 
maintained intact through offloading ashore, as specified in this 
section.
    (b) In the Atlantic EEZ, dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in 
Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained 
with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains intact on the 
entire fillet of any dolphin or wahoo carcasses, valid Bahamian fishing 
and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each person on the vessel 
has a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The 
Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ with 
fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, a 
vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct 
and continuous course through the Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the 
vessel fishes in the EEZ. For the purpose of this paragraph, fishing 
gear appropriately stowed means that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, 
sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, 
buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed 
separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from 
the down rigger and stowed separately.

0
6. In Sec.  622.277, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.277  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) Dolphin. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ--10, not to exceed 60 per 
vessel, whichever is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying 
passenger.
    (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters 
(as per Sec.  622.276(b))--10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, whichever 
is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying passenger. For the 
purposes of this paragraph, for determining how many dolphin are on 
board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian 
waters, two fillets of dolphin, regardless of the length of each 
fillet, is equivalent to one dolphin. The skin must remain intact on 
the entire fillet of any dolphin carcass.
    (2) Wahoo. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ--2.
    (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters 
(as per Sec.  622.276(b))--2. For the purposes of this paragraph, for 
determining how many wahoo are on board a vessel in fillet form when 
harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of wahoo, regardless 
of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one wahoo. The skin must 
remain intact on the entire fillet of any wahoo carcass.
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  622.279, add paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.279  Restrictions on sale/purchase.

* * * * *
    (d) Dolphin or wahoo possessed pursuant to the bag and possession 
limits specified in Sec.  622.277(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2)(ii) may not be 
sold or purchased.

[FR Doc. 2015-32555 Filed 12-24-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P