Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 9800-9803 [2016-04094]

Download as PDF 9800 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 38 / Friday, February 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules prohibit several particularly effective methods and means for take of predators; and to update our public participation and closure procedures. The proposed rule would not change Federal subsistence regulations or restrict the taking of fish or wildlife for subsistence uses under Federal subsistence regulations. We received multiple requests from several entities, including the Alaska Congressional Delegation and the Governor of Alaska, to extend the comment period on the proposed rule. In order to provide all interested parties an additional opportunity to review and comment on our proposed rule, we are extending the comment period on the proposed rule for an additional 30 days, until April 7, 2016. If you previously submitted comments or information on the proposed rule, please do not resubmit them. We have incorporated them into the public record, and we will fully consider them in our final rulemaking. Our final determination concerning the proposed rulemaking will take into consideration all written comments and any additional information we receive. You may submit your comments and any associated materials concerning the proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES. If you submit information via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. Authority Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS The authority for this action is 5 U.S.C. 301; 16 U.S.C. 460k et seq., 664, 668dd–668ee, 715i, and 3101 et seq. Dated: February 19, 2016. Michael J. Bean, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2016–04133 Filed 2–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:20 Feb 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 150623546–6098–01] RIN 0648–BF18 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement measures described in Amendment 7 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (Reef Fish FMP), Amendment 6 to the FMP for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Spiny Lobster FMP), Amendment 5 to the FMP for Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Coral FMP), and Amendment 4 to the FMP for the Queen Conch Resources of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Queen Conch FMP), as prepared by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council). In combination, these amendments represent the Application of Accountability Measures (AM) Amendment (AM Application Amendment). If implemented, the AM Application Amendment would resolve an existing inconsistency between language in the FMPs and the regulations implementing the application of AMs in the U.S. Caribbean exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The purpose of the AM Application Amendment is to ensure the authorizing FMPs are consistent with the regulations governing AMs in the Caribbean EEZ. Additionally, this proposed rule would clarify the AM closure provisions, the application of the spiny lobster ACL in the Puerto Rico management area of the Caribbean EEZ, and the minimum size limit for queen conch in the Caribbean EEZ. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before March 28, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0124’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20150124, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to ´ ´ Marıa del Mar Lopez, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of the AM Application Amendment, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/caribbean/index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: ´ ´ Marıa del Mar Lopez, telephone: 727– 824–5305; email: maria.lopez@ noaa.gov. In the Caribbean EEZ, the reef fish, spiny lobster, queen conch, and corals and reef associated plants and invertebrates fisheries are managed under their respective FMPs. 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). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The final rule implementing Amendment 2 to the Queen Conch FMP and Amendment 5 to the Reef Fish FMP (2010 Caribbean Annual Catch Limit (ACL) Amendment) established ACLs and AMs for species/species groups that were at the time experiencing overfishing (i.e., parrotfish, snapper, grouper, queen conch) (76 FR 82404, E:\FR\FM\26FEP1.SGM 26FEP1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 38 / Friday, February 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules December 30, 2011). The final rule implementing Amendment 3 to the Queen Conch FMP, Amendment 6 to the Reef Fish FMP, Amendment 5 to the Spiny Lobster FMP, and Amendment 3 to the Coral FMP (2011 Caribbean ACL Amendment) established ACLs and AMs for the remaining Councilmanaged species/species groups which were not undergoing overfishing at the time or for which the overfishing status was unknown (e.g., grunts, squirrelfish, jacks) (76 FR 82414, December 30, 2011). As described at § 622.12(a) for reef fish, spiny lobster, and corals and at § 622.491(b) for queen conch , the current AM regulations in the Caribbean EEZ require NMFS to shorten the length of the fishing season for a species/ species group in the year following a determination that the applicable 3-year landings average exceeded the respective ACL, unless NMFS determines that the exceedance is due to enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts. The extent to which fishing seasons are shortened equates to the number of days necessary to remove the overage in pounds and to therefore constrain landings to the ACL. Pursuant to regulations at §§ 622.12(a) and 622.491(b), any such AM-based closures remain in effect only during the particular fishing year in which they are implemented. However, the AM closure language in the four authorizing FMPs states that any AM-based closure ‘‘will remain in effect until modified by the Council,’’ thereby carrying these closures over from year to year, unless or until the closures are revised by subsequent Council action. The AM Application Amendment would correct this inconsistency, between the authorizing FMPs and the regulatory language at §§ 622.12(a) and 622.491(b), by revising the applicable text within the four FMPs to be consistent with the language in the regulations. Specifically, the phrase in the four authorizing FMPs that states ‘‘The needed changes will remain in effect until modified by the Council,’’ which describes the duration of AMs, would be removed from the four FMPs. The result of this proposed change would be that under both the authorizing FMPs and AM-based closure regulatory language, any AMbased closure would only apply for the fishing year in which it was implemented. This approach is consistent with the intent of the Council and the regulations used by NMFS to apply AMs in the Caribbean EEZ. As this proposed change would only revise the language in the respective FMPs, no changes to the codified text would VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:20 Feb 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 9801 value would not change through this proposed rule. The ACLs for species/species groups Additional Proposed Changes to in the St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John Codified Text Not Part of the AM management areas are not allocated Application Amendment between sectors, and if AMs are This proposed rule would also revise triggered they are applied to both the items in the codified text that are not commercial and recreational sector. part of the AM Application If an AM is triggered by an ACL being Amendment. Specifically, NMFS exceeded based on the 3-year landings proposes to clarify the closure average, and NMFS determines that the provisions when an ACL has been exceedance was not due to enhanced exceeded and an AM is implemented, data collection and monitoring efforts, based on the Council’s intent as NMFS files a notification with the expressed in the 2010 and 2011 Office of the Federal Register to reduce Caribbean ACL Amendments (76 FR the length of the following fishing 82404, December 30, 2011 and 76 FR season for the applicable species or 82414, December 30, 2011). NMFS also species groups that year by the amount proposes to clarify the application of the necessary, to ensure landings do not spiny lobster ACL for the Puerto Rico again exceed the applicable ACL. The management area of the EEZ to be current regulations do not specifically consistent with the Council’s intent state what restrictions on fishing occur expressed in the 2011 ACL Caribbean during such a closure. NMFS proposes to add § 622.12(b) to Amendment and to clarify minimum the regulatory text to specify that, if size requirements for queen conch. The 2010 and 2011 Caribbean ACL AMs are triggered as a result of an ACL Amendments established AMs and overage and NMFS reduces the length of ACLs and allocated those ACLs among the fishing season for a species or three Caribbean island management species group, certain closure areas, i.e., the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and provisions would apply to species with St. Thomas/St. John management areas Caribbean-wide ACLs, Caribbean reef of the EEZ, as specified in Appendix E fish species, and Caribbean spiny to part 622, except for the ACLs for lobster. For Caribbean reef fish species in the tilefish and aquarium trade species, Puerto Rico management area, which are for the Caribbean EEZ as a § 622.12(b)(1)(i) through (iii) would be whole. The ACLs for species/species added to specify what restrictions apply groups in the Puerto Rico management area, except for spiny lobster, are further during a commercial closure, recreational closure, or a closure of both allocated between the commercial and sectors. In the event that the commercial recreational sectors, and AMs apply to fishing season is reduced for a species each of these sectors separately. or species group due to a Puerto Rico Through this rule, NMFS proposes to clarify that the spiny lobster ACL for the commercial ACL overage, all harvest or Puerto Rico management area is applied possession of the indicated species or as a single ACL for both the commercial species group in or from the Puerto Rico and recreational sectors, consistent with management area would be limited to the bag and possession limits specified the intent of the Council in the 2011 in § 622.437, and the sale or purchase of Caribbean ACL Amendment (76 FR 82414, December 30, 2011). The current the indicated species or species group in regulations, as described in or from the Puerto Rico management § 622.12(a)(1)(i)(R), specify only a area would be prohibited during the commercial ACL for spiny lobster in the closure. If the recreational fishing Puerto Rico management area. No season is reduced for a species or recreational ACL is specified for spiny species group due to a Puerto Rico lobster in Puerto Rico. The intent of the recreational ACL overage, the bag and Council in the 2011 Caribbean ACL possession limits for the indicated Amendment was to manage the spiny species or species group would be zero lobster commercial and recreational during the closure. If both the sectors for the Puerto Rico management commercial and recreational sectors for area under the same ACL, derived from a species or species group in the Puerto commercial landings. The Council Rico management area are closed, such intended that this single ACL would be species or species groups may not be the AM trigger for both sectors for spiny harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold lobster in the Puerto Rico management and the bag and possession limits for area. NMFS proposes to add paragraph such species or species groups would be § 622.12(a)(1)(iii) to the regulatory text zero. For Caribbean reef fish species and to specify that the spiny lobster ACL spiny lobster in the St. Croix and St. applies to both sectors in the Puerto Thomas/St. John island management Rico management area. The actual ACL result from the AM Application Amendment. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\26FEP1.SGM 26FEP1 9802 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 38 / Friday, February 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS areas, and species or species groups with Caribbean-wide ACLs, § 622.12(b)(2) would be added to specify that, if AMs are triggered as a result of an ACL overage and the fishing season is reduced for a species or species group, such species or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ would be zero. For Caribbean spiny lobster in the Puerto Rico management area, § 622.12(b)(1)(iv) would be added to clarify that, if the AM is triggered due to a spiny lobster ACL overage, the commercial and recreational fishing seasons are reduced. During such a closure, spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area would be zero. Additionally, through this proposed rule, NMFS would revise § 622.492(a) to clarify the minimum size limit for a Caribbean queen conch. Currently, § 622.492(a) states that the minimum size limit is ‘‘9 inches (22.9 cm) in length, that is, from the tip of the spire to the distal end of the shell, and 3⁄8 inch (9.5 cm) in lip width at its widest point.’’ However, this provision goes on to state that ‘‘A queen conch with a length of at least 9 inches (22.9 cm) or a lip width of at least 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) is not undersized.’’ The use of ‘‘and’’ in the first sentence and ‘‘or’’ in the second sentence of this provision has caused confusion among the public about whether both of these measurements are required to meet the minimum size limit for queen conch. Therefore, NMFS proposes to change the ‘‘and’’ to ‘‘or’’ in the first sentence and to remove the second sentence in paragraph (a) of § 622.492. The purpose of this change is to clarify that only one of the measurement descriptions must be met to fulfill the minimum size limit for Caribbean queen conch, consistent with the original intent of the Council in the Queen Conch FMP. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the U.S. Caribbean FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:20 Feb 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows: The purpose of this proposed rule is to revise the language within U.S. Caribbean FMPs to make it consistent with current regulations concerning the application of AMs. Because it would produce no regulatory changes, the action would have no economic impact on the estimated 1,037 to 1,185 small businesses in the finfish (NAICS code 114111) and shellfish (NAICS code 114112) fishing industries of the U.S. Caribbean. The rule would also include regulatory text to clarify the closure provisions for AMs, how the spiny lobster ACL is applied in the Puerto Rico management area, and the minimum size requirements for queen conch, all unrelated to the amendment. Because those clarifications would not affect current fishing practices, or change the manner in which fisheries in the Caribbean EEZ are regulated, they would not have an economic impact on the above-mentioned small businesses. Because this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant direct adverse economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Accountability measures, Caribbean, Fisheries, Fishing, Queen conch. Dated: February 22, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.12, remove paragraph (a)(1)(i)(R) and add paragraphs (a)(1)(iii) and (b) to read as follows: ■ PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 622.12 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for Caribbean island management areas/ Caribbean EEZ. * * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (iii) Spiny lobster. The following ACL applies to landings of spiny lobster throughout the Puerto Rico management area—327,920 lb (148,742 kg). * * * * * (b) Closure provisions—(1) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico closure. (i) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico commercial closure, except for spiny lobster. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the commercial sector for species or species groups included in the notification is closed and such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be purchased or sold. Harvest or possession of such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits unless the recreational sector for the species or species group is closed and the restrictions specified in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) apply. (ii) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico recreational closure, except for spiny lobster. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, the recreational sector for species or species groups included in the notification is closed and the recreational bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. If the seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for such species or species groups are closed, the restrictions specified in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) apply. (iii) Restrictions applicable when both Puerto Rico commercial and Puerto Rico recreational sectors are closed, except for spiny lobster. If the seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for a species or species group are closed, such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. (iv) Restrictions applicable after a spiny lobster closure in Puerto Rico. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section, both the commercial and recreational sectors are closed. Spiny lobster in or from the E:\FR\FM\26FEP1.SGM 26FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 38 / Friday, February 26, 2016 / Proposed Rules Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. (2) Restrictions applicable after a St. Croix, St. Thomas/St. John, or Caribbean EEZ closure. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(2), (3), or (4) of this section, such VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:20 Feb 25, 2016 Jkt 238001 species or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ are zero. ■ 3. In § 622.492, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 § 622.492 9803 Minimum size limit. (a) The minimum size limit for Caribbean queen conch is either 9 inches (22.9 cm) in length, that is, from the tip of the spire to the distal end of the shell, or 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) in lip width at its widest point. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–04094 Filed 2–25–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\26FEP1.SGM 26FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 38 (Friday, February 26, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 9800-9803]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-04094]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 150623546-6098-01]
RIN 0648-BF18


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Amendments to the Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, and Corals and 
Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans of 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement measures described in Amendment 7 
to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (Reef Fish FMP), 
Amendment 6 to the FMP for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Puerto Rico and 
the USVI (Spiny Lobster FMP), Amendment 5 to the FMP for Corals and 
Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico and the USVI 
(Coral FMP), and Amendment 4 to the FMP for the Queen Conch Resources 
of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Queen Conch FMP), as prepared by the 
Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council). In combination, these 
amendments represent the Application of Accountability Measures (AM) 
Amendment (AM Application Amendment). If implemented, the AM 
Application Amendment would resolve an existing inconsistency between 
language in the FMPs and the regulations implementing the application 
of AMs in the U.S. Caribbean exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The purpose 
of the AM Application Amendment is to ensure the authorizing FMPs are 
consistent with the regulations governing AMs in the Caribbean EEZ. 
Additionally, this proposed rule would clarify the AM closure 
provisions, the application of the spiny lobster ACL in the Puerto Rico 
management area of the Caribbean EEZ, and the minimum size limit for 
queen conch in the Caribbean EEZ.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before March 28, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0124'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-
NMFS-2015-0124, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required 
fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Mar[iacute]a del Mar 
L[oacute]pez, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, 
St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Electronic copies of the AM Application Amendment, which includes 
an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) 
analysis, and a regulatory impact review may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/caribbean/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mar[iacute]a del Mar L[oacute]pez, 
telephone: 727-824-5305; email: maria.lopez@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the Caribbean EEZ, the reef fish, spiny 
lobster, queen conch, and corals and reef associated plants and 
invertebrates fisheries are managed under their respective FMPs. 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).

Background

    The final rule implementing Amendment 2 to the Queen Conch FMP and 
Amendment 5 to the Reef Fish FMP (2010 Caribbean Annual Catch Limit 
(ACL) Amendment) established ACLs and AMs for species/species groups 
that were at the time experiencing overfishing (i.e., parrotfish, 
snapper, grouper, queen conch) (76 FR 82404,

[[Page 9801]]

December 30, 2011). The final rule implementing Amendment 3 to the 
Queen Conch FMP, Amendment 6 to the Reef Fish FMP, Amendment 5 to the 
Spiny Lobster FMP, and Amendment 3 to the Coral FMP (2011 Caribbean ACL 
Amendment) established ACLs and AMs for the remaining Council-managed 
species/species groups which were not undergoing overfishing at the 
time or for which the overfishing status was unknown (e.g., grunts, 
squirrelfish, jacks) (76 FR 82414, December 30, 2011). As described at 
Sec.  622.12(a) for reef fish, spiny lobster, and corals and at Sec.  
622.491(b) for queen conch , the current AM regulations in the 
Caribbean EEZ require NMFS to shorten the length of the fishing season 
for a species/species group in the year following a determination that 
the applicable 3-year landings average exceeded the respective ACL, 
unless NMFS determines that the exceedance is due to enhanced data 
collection and monitoring efforts. The extent to which fishing seasons 
are shortened equates to the number of days necessary to remove the 
overage in pounds and to therefore constrain landings to the ACL. 
Pursuant to regulations at Sec. Sec.  622.12(a) and 622.491(b), any 
such AM-based closures remain in effect only during the particular 
fishing year in which they are implemented. However, the AM closure 
language in the four authorizing FMPs states that any AM-based closure 
``will remain in effect until modified by the Council,'' thereby 
carrying these closures over from year to year, unless or until the 
closures are revised by subsequent Council action.
    The AM Application Amendment would correct this inconsistency, 
between the authorizing FMPs and the regulatory language at Sec. Sec.  
622.12(a) and 622.491(b), by revising the applicable text within the 
four FMPs to be consistent with the language in the regulations. 
Specifically, the phrase in the four authorizing FMPs that states ``The 
needed changes will remain in effect until modified by the Council,'' 
which describes the duration of AMs, would be removed from the four 
FMPs. The result of this proposed change would be that under both the 
authorizing FMPs and AM-based closure regulatory language, any AM-based 
closure would only apply for the fishing year in which it was 
implemented. This approach is consistent with the intent of the Council 
and the regulations used by NMFS to apply AMs in the Caribbean EEZ. As 
this proposed change would only revise the language in the respective 
FMPs, no changes to the codified text would result from the AM 
Application Amendment.

Additional Proposed Changes to Codified Text Not Part of the AM 
Application Amendment

    This proposed rule would also revise items in the codified text 
that are not part of the AM Application Amendment. Specifically, NMFS 
proposes to clarify the closure provisions when an ACL has been 
exceeded and an AM is implemented, based on the Council's intent as 
expressed in the 2010 and 2011 Caribbean ACL Amendments (76 FR 82404, 
December 30, 2011 and 76 FR 82414, December 30, 2011). NMFS also 
proposes to clarify the application of the spiny lobster ACL for the 
Puerto Rico management area of the EEZ to be consistent with the 
Council's intent expressed in the 2011 ACL Caribbean Amendment and to 
clarify minimum size requirements for queen conch.
    The 2010 and 2011 Caribbean ACL Amendments established AMs and ACLs 
and allocated those ACLs among three Caribbean island management areas, 
i.e., the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas/St. John management 
areas of the EEZ, as specified in Appendix E to part 622, except for 
the ACLs for tilefish and aquarium trade species, which are for the 
Caribbean EEZ as a whole. The ACLs for species/species groups in the 
Puerto Rico management area, except for spiny lobster, are further 
allocated between the commercial and recreational sectors, and AMs 
apply to each of these sectors separately. Through this rule, NMFS 
proposes to clarify that the spiny lobster ACL for the Puerto Rico 
management area is applied as a single ACL for both the commercial and 
recreational sectors, consistent with the intent of the Council in the 
2011 Caribbean ACL Amendment (76 FR 82414, December 30, 2011). The 
current regulations, as described in Sec.  622.12(a)(1)(i)(R), specify 
only a commercial ACL for spiny lobster in the Puerto Rico management 
area. No recreational ACL is specified for spiny lobster in Puerto 
Rico. The intent of the Council in the 2011 Caribbean ACL Amendment was 
to manage the spiny lobster commercial and recreational sectors for the 
Puerto Rico management area under the same ACL, derived from commercial 
landings. The Council intended that this single ACL would be the AM 
trigger for both sectors for spiny lobster in the Puerto Rico 
management area. NMFS proposes to add paragraph Sec.  622.12(a)(1)(iii) 
to the regulatory text to specify that the spiny lobster ACL applies to 
both sectors in the Puerto Rico management area. The actual ACL value 
would not change through this proposed rule.
    The ACLs for species/species groups in the St. Croix and St. 
Thomas/St. John management areas are not allocated between sectors, and 
if AMs are triggered they are applied to both the commercial and 
recreational sector.
    If an AM is triggered by an ACL being exceeded based on the 3-year 
landings average, and NMFS determines that the exceedance was not due 
to enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts, NMFS files a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the 
length of the following fishing season for the applicable species or 
species groups that year by the amount necessary, to ensure landings do 
not again exceed the applicable ACL. The current regulations do not 
specifically state what restrictions on fishing occur during such a 
closure.
    NMFS proposes to add Sec.  622.12(b) to the regulatory text to 
specify that, if AMs are triggered as a result of an ACL overage and 
NMFS reduces the length of the fishing season for a species or species 
group, certain closure provisions would apply to species with 
Caribbean-wide ACLs, Caribbean reef fish species, and Caribbean spiny 
lobster.
    For Caribbean reef fish species in the Puerto Rico management area, 
Sec.  622.12(b)(1)(i) through (iii) would be added to specify what 
restrictions apply during a commercial closure, recreational closure, 
or a closure of both sectors. In the event that the commercial fishing 
season is reduced for a species or species group due to a Puerto Rico 
commercial ACL overage, all harvest or possession of the indicated 
species or species group in or from the Puerto Rico management area 
would be limited to the bag and possession limits specified in Sec.  
622.437, and the sale or purchase of the indicated species or species 
group in or from the Puerto Rico management area would be prohibited 
during the closure. If the recreational fishing season is reduced for a 
species or species group due to a Puerto Rico recreational ACL overage, 
the bag and possession limits for the indicated species or species 
group would be zero during the closure. If both the commercial and 
recreational sectors for a species or species group in the Puerto Rico 
management area are closed, such species or species groups may not be 
harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold and the bag and possession 
limits for such species or species groups would be zero.
    For Caribbean reef fish species and spiny lobster in the St. Croix 
and St. Thomas/St. John island management

[[Page 9802]]

areas, and species or species groups with Caribbean-wide ACLs, Sec.  
622.12(b)(2) would be added to specify that, if AMs are triggered as a 
result of an ACL overage and the fishing season is reduced for a 
species or species group, such species or species groups in or from the 
applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, 
possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for 
such species in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean 
EEZ would be zero.
    For Caribbean spiny lobster in the Puerto Rico management area, 
Sec.  622.12(b)(1)(iv) would be added to clarify that, if the AM is 
triggered due to a spiny lobster ACL overage, the commercial and 
recreational fishing seasons are reduced. During such a closure, spiny 
lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be 
harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession 
limits for spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area 
would be zero.
    Additionally, through this proposed rule, NMFS would revise Sec.  
622.492(a) to clarify the minimum size limit for a Caribbean queen 
conch. Currently, Sec.  622.492(a) states that the minimum size limit 
is ``9 inches (22.9 cm) in length, that is, from the tip of the spire 
to the distal end of the shell, and \3/8\ inch (9.5 cm) in lip width at 
its widest point.'' However, this provision goes on to state that ``A 
queen conch with a length of at least 9 inches (22.9 cm) or a lip width 
of at least \3/8\ inch (9.5 mm) is not undersized.'' The use of ``and'' 
in the first sentence and ``or'' in the second sentence of this 
provision has caused confusion among the public about whether both of 
these measurements are required to meet the minimum size limit for 
queen conch. Therefore, NMFS proposes to change the ``and'' to ``or'' 
in the first sentence and to remove the second sentence in paragraph 
(a) of Sec.  622.492. The purpose of this change is to clarify that 
only one of the measurement descriptions must be met to fulfill the 
minimum size limit for Caribbean queen conch, consistent with the 
original intent of the Council in the Queen Conch FMP.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this proposed 
rule is consistent with the U.S. Caribbean FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after 
public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not 
significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel 
for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that 
this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual 
basis for this determination is as follows:
    The purpose of this proposed rule is to revise the language within 
U.S. Caribbean FMPs to make it consistent with current regulations 
concerning the application of AMs. Because it would produce no 
regulatory changes, the action would have no economic impact on the 
estimated 1,037 to 1,185 small businesses in the finfish (NAICS code 
114111) and shellfish (NAICS code 114112) fishing industries of the 
U.S. Caribbean.
    The rule would also include regulatory text to clarify the closure 
provisions for AMs, how the spiny lobster ACL is applied in the Puerto 
Rico management area, and the minimum size requirements for queen 
conch, all unrelated to the amendment. Because those clarifications 
would not affect current fishing practices, or change the manner in 
which fisheries in the Caribbean EEZ are regulated, they would not have 
an economic impact on the above-mentioned small businesses.
    Because this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a 
significant direct adverse economic effect on a substantial number of 
small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Accountability measures, Caribbean, Fisheries, Fishing, Queen 
conch.

    Dated: February 22, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.12, remove paragraph (a)(1)(i)(R) and add paragraphs 
(a)(1)(iii) and (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.12  Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs) for Caribbean island management areas/Caribbean EEZ.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Spiny lobster. The following ACL applies to landings of spiny 
lobster throughout the Puerto Rico management area--327,920 lb (148,742 
kg).
* * * * *
    (b) Closure provisions--(1) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto 
Rico closure. (i) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico 
commercial closure, except for spiny lobster. During the closure period 
announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(i) of 
this section, the commercial sector for species or species groups 
included in the notification is closed and such species or species 
groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be purchased 
or sold. Harvest or possession of such species or species groups in or 
from the Puerto Rico management area is limited to the recreational bag 
and possession limits unless the recreational sector for the species or 
species group is closed and the restrictions specified in paragraph 
(b)(1)(iii) apply.
    (ii) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico recreational 
closure, except for spiny lobster. During the closure period announced 
in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this 
section, the recreational sector for species or species groups included 
in the notification is closed and the recreational bag and possession 
limits for such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico 
management area are zero. If the seasons for both the commercial and 
recreational sectors for such species or species groups are closed, the 
restrictions specified in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) apply.
    (iii) Restrictions applicable when both Puerto Rico commercial and 
Puerto Rico recreational sectors are closed, except for spiny lobster. 
If the seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for a 
species or species group are closed, such species or species groups in 
or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, 
possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for 
such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management 
area are zero.
    (iv) Restrictions applicable after a spiny lobster closure in 
Puerto Rico. During the closure period announced in the notification 
filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section, both the 
commercial and recreational sectors are closed. Spiny lobster in or 
from the

[[Page 9803]]

Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, 
or sold, and the bag and possession limits for spiny lobster in or from 
the Puerto Rico management area are zero.
    (2) Restrictions applicable after a St. Croix, St. Thomas/St. John, 
or Caribbean EEZ closure. During the closure period announced in the 
notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(2), (3), or (4) of this 
section, such species or species groups in or from the applicable 
management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, possessed, 
purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species 
or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the 
Caribbean EEZ are zero.
0
3. In Sec.  622.492, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.492  Minimum size limit.

    (a) The minimum size limit for Caribbean queen conch is either 9 
inches (22.9 cm) in length, that is, from the tip of the spire to the 
distal end of the shell, or \3/8\ inch (9.5 mm) in lip width at its 
widest point.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2016-04094 Filed 2-25-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P