Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 35, 11502-11507 [2016-04808]

Download as PDF jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 11502 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). 7. The Commission has licensed facilities-based telecommunications between the United States and Cuba based on policy guidance from the State due to the unique relationship between the United States and Cuba. The State Department has recently provided new guidance that recommends that the Commission remove the nondiscrimination requirements placed on the U.S.-Cuba route. 8. In this Further Notice, the Commission seeks comment on proposals to remove the nondiscrimination requirements for the provision of telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. We seek comment on whether, if we are to remove the nondiscrimination requirements, we also should no longer consider operating agreements between a U.S. carrier and ETECSA to be routinely available for public inspection. The proposals in this Further Notice are designed to allow U.S. carriers to negotiate individualized operating agreements with ETECSA, the Cuban carrier. Allowing U.S. carriers to negotiate individualized operating agreements may lead to more U.S. carriers entering into operating agreements with ETECSA, more direct connections between the United States and Cuba, and lower settlement rates on the U.S.-Cuba route. 9. The proposals in this Further Notice, if adopted, would not change the need for a U.S. carrier to reach an agreement with the Cuban carrier and to file the agreement with the Commission. Therefore, these rule changes should not have a significant economic impact on any carrier. Further, these requirements are only applicable to facilities-based carriers, which are generally large companies and do not come within the definition of small businesses. Consequently, we do not believe that the proposals affect a substantial number of small businesses. Accordingly, the Commission certifies that the proposed rule change will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Commission will send a copy of the Further Notice, including a copy of this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA. This initial certification will also be published in the Federal Register. Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), 201–205, 208, 211, 214, 303(r), 309, and 403, this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking IS ADOPTED. 11. IT IS FUTHER ORDERED that NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN of the proposed regulatory changes to Commission policy and rules described in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and that comment is sought on these proposals. 12. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 63 Communications common carriers, Telecommunications. Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 63 as follows: Proposed Rules PART 63—EXTENSION OF LINES, NEW LINES, AND DISCONTINUANCE, REDUCTION, OUTAGE AND IMPAIRMENT OF SERVICE BY COMMON CARRIERS; AND GRANTS OF RECOGNIZED PRIVATE OPERATING AGENCY STATUS 1. The authority citation for part 63 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 10, 11, 201–205, 214, 218, 403 and 651 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 160, 201–205, 214, 218, 403, and 571, unless otherwise noted. 63.22 [Amended]. 2. In § 63.22 remove and reserve paragraph (f). ■ [FR Doc. 2016–04837 Filed 3–3–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P Ordering Clauses 10. IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 1, 2, 4(i), 4(j), 201–205, 208, 211, 214, 303(r), 309, and 403, of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 150303208–6099–01] RIN 0648–BE70 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 35 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 35 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP) (Amendment 35), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). The proposed rule, if implemented, would remove black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP as well as revise regulations regarding the golden tilefish longline endorsement program. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that only snappergrouper species requiring Federal management are included in the Snapper-Grouper FMP, improve the consistency of management of snappergrouper species in waters off south Florida across state and Federal jurisdictional boundaries, and to align regulations for golden tilefish longline endorsements with the Council’s original intent for establishing the longline endorsement program. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 4, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2015–0076’’ 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-20150076, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Nikhil Mehta, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules 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 Amendment 35 may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Amendment 35 includes a draft environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a Fishery Impact Statement. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nikhil Mehta, telephone: 727–824– 5305; email: nikhil.mehta@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic is managed under the FMP, and includes black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, schoolmaster, and golden tilefish. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule This rule would remove black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP, and revise the golden tilefish longline endorsement regulations to be consistent with the Council’s original intent for establishing the longline endorsement program. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Remove Four Species From the FMP Black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster are currently in the FMP, but have extremely low commercial landings in state and Federal waters, and almost all harvest (recreational and commercial) occurs in waters off the coast of South Florida. Currently, NMFS does not manage these species in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf); however, the species are subject to regulations in Florida state waters. As described in Amendment 35, there are currently different regulations for recreational bag limits, size limits, and catch levels for these species between the Gulf, South VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Atlantic, and Florida. Inconsistent regulations make enforcement difficult and can be confusing to the public. This rule would remove black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP and NMFS’s management in Federal waters of the South Atlantic to ensure that only species requiring federal management are included in the FMP. The state of Florida has indicated that if these species are removed from the FMP, it intends to extend state regulation of these species into Federal waters off Florida for Florida-state registered fishing vessels, under § 306(a)(3)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, to provide consistent regulations for these species across state and Federal jurisdictional boundaries. Black snapper is part of the deepwater complex within the FMP. The deep-water complex currently includes black snapper, yellowedge grouper, silk snapper, misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, and blackfin snapper. If black snapper is removed from the FMP, the annual catch limit (ACL) for the deep-water complex would be reduced from 170,279 lb (77,237 kg), round weight, to 169,896 lb (77,063 kg), round weight, a difference of 382 lb (173 kg), round weight. Dog snapper and mahogany snapper are part of the other snappers complex within the FMP. The other snappers complex currently includes cubera snapper, gray snapper, lane snapper, dog snapper, and mahogany snapper. Removal of dog snapper and mahogany snapper from the FMP would reduce the other snappers complex ACL from 1,517,716 lb (688,424 kg), round weight, to 1,513,883 lb (686,688 kg), round weight, a difference of 3,833 lb (1,739 kg), round weight. Dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and black snapper are not typically targeted by commercial or recreational fishermen; therefore, bycatch associated with harvest of these species is extremely low. Schoolmaster is currently designated as an ecosystem component (EC) species in the FMP. The Council did not choose to retain dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and black snapper in the FMP as EC species because the objective of the amendment is to establish a consistent regulatory environment across jurisdictional boundaries in Gulf and South Atlantic Federal waters and Florida state waters. Because NMFS does not manage these species in Gulf Federal waters, retaining them as EC species would continue inconsistent regulations across jurisdictional boundaries. Additionally, if these species are designated as EC species, the state of Florida would not PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 11503 be able to extend their management authority for these species into Federal waters, because states may not generally manage species in Federal waters if those species are included in Federal fishery management plans. A formal stock assessment has not been performed for black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, or schoolmaster; however, there is no indication that these stocks are depleted. Therefore, removing these species from the FMP is not expected to result in any adverse biological effects. Clarify Regulations for Golden Tilefish Endorsement Holders The final rule to implement Amendment 18B to the FMP (78 FR 23858, April 23, 2013) established a longline endorsement program for the commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery. A longline endorsement is required to fish for golden tilefish with longline gear. Amendment 18B also established a golden tilefish hook-and-line quota and modified the golden tilefish commercial trip limits. The golden tilefish longline endorsement, sector quotas, and trip limits, were implemented because the golden tilefish commercial ACL was being harvested rapidly by fishermen using longline gear, so that fishermen who had historically used hook-and-line gear to target golden tilefish were not able to participate in the golden tilefish portion of the snapper-grouper fishery. The Council established the longline endorsement program and gear specific commercial quotas to help ensure that fishermen fishing with each gear type have a fair and equitable allocation of the commercial quota. The Council did not intend for longline endorsement holders to fish on the hook-and-line quota, or for non-endorsement holders to fish on the longline quota. The Council and NMFS are aware that since Amendment 18B was implemented, some longline endorsement holders are transferring their golden tilefish longline endorsement to another vessel and then fishing for golden tilefish using hookand-line gear under the hook-and-line quota. Other endorsement holders are renewing their Federal commercial snapper-grouper vessel permit but are waiting to renew their golden tilefish longline endorsement, so that they are able to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the hook-andline quota while their longline endorsement is not valid. Neither scenario is consistent with the original intent of the Council in Amendment 18B. The Council decided to clarify their intent for golden tilefish longline E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1 11504 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules endorsement holders in Amendment 35. Currently, as described at § 622.191(a)(2)(ii), the regulations state that ‘‘Vessels with a golden tilefish longline endorsement are not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-andline gear under this 500–lb (227–kg), gutted weight, trip limit.’’ This rule would propose that ‘‘Vessels that have valid or renewable golden tilefish longline endorsements anytime during the fishing year, are not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under this 500-lb (227-;kg), gutted weight, trip limit.’’ Thus, a fisherman who owns a vessel with a valid or renewable golden tilefish longline endorsement would not be eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-andline gear under the 500-lb (227-kg), gutted weight, hook-and-line trip limit during that fishing year. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Additional Change to Codified Text In the part 622 regulations, NMFS would revise ‘‘allowable biological catch’’ to read ‘‘acceptable biological catch’’ wherever it occurs. In the part 600 regulations, ‘‘ABC’’ is defined as ‘‘acceptable biological catch;’’ however, in the part 622 regulations, ‘‘ABC’’ is defined as ‘‘acceptable biological catch’’ in three places and ‘‘allowable biological catch’’ in four places. NMFS has determined that ‘‘acceptable biological catch’’ is the more precise definition for ‘‘ABC’’. Therefore, to be consistent with the part 600 regulations and to use the more precise terminology, NMFS proposes to change the definition of ‘‘ABC’’ to ‘‘acceptable biological catch,’’ and accordingly revise ‘‘allowable biological catch,’’ wherever it occurs in the part 622 regulations. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 35, the FMP, 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. A Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Analysis was prepared as an Appendix to Amendment 35 and is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). For this proposed rule, NMFS adopts this analysis as its initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) required by section 603 of the RFA, 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this proposed rule, if implemented, would have on small VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 entities. A description of the proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for this proposed rule are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A summary of the IRFA follows. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, this rule does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act. This proposed rule would be expected to directly affect all commercial vessels that harvest black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, schoolmaster and/or golden tilefish under the FMP. The removal of the four snapper-grouper species discussed in this proposed rule would not directly apply to or affect charter vessel and headboat (for-hire) businesses. Any impact to the profitability or competitiveness of forhire fishing businesses would be the result of changes in for-hire angler demand and would therefore be indirect in nature. Currently, charter and headboat captains and crew can retain black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, schoolmaster and golden tilefish under the recreational bag limit; however, they cannot sell these fish. As such, charter and headboat captains and crew would only be affected as recreational anglers. The RFA does not consider recreational anglers, who would be directly affected by this proposed rule, to be small entities, so they are outside the scope of this analysis and only the effects on commercial vessels were analyzed. As of November 3, 2014, there were 564 vessels with valid or renewable South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Unlimited Permits, 120 vessels with valid or renewable 225-lb (102-kg) Trip Limit Permits and 22 vessels with valid or renewable longline endorsements for golden tilefish. Although all commercial snapper-grouper permit holders have the opportunity to fish for black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and/or schoolmaster, on average, there were only four federally permitted vessels identified from 2009 through 2013 that commercially landed one or more of these species each year. The average annual vessel-level revenue for all species harvested by these four vessels over this period was approximately $101,000 (2013 dollars), of which $32 was from black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and/or PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 schoolmaster. During the same time period, on average, 22 vessels per year commercially harvested golden tilefish using longline gear and their annual average vessel-level revenue for all species was approximately $95,000 (2013 dollars), of which $55,000 was from golden tilefish. Thirty-seven vessels, on average (2009 through 2013), commercially harvested golden tilefish exclusively with non-longline gear and they earned an average of approximately $46,000 (2013 dollars) per vessel for all species harvested, of which $2,000 was from golden tilefish. No other small entities that would be directly affected by this proposed rule have been identified. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including commercial finfish harvesters (NAICS code 114111). A business primarily involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $20.5 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. All of the vessels directly regulated by this rule are believed to be small entities based on the SBA size criteria. Of the 684 vessels eligible to fish for the species managed under the FMP, only 63 of them are expected to be affected by this proposed rule (approximately 9 percent). Because all of these commercial fishing businesses are believed to be small entities, the issue of disproportionate effects on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case. This proposed rule would remove black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP. The state of Florida intends to then extend its management of these species into Federal waters. Average revenues per vessel from 2009 through 2013 for these four snapper-grouper species accounted for less than 1 percent of average total revenues received by the vessels that commercially harvested these species. Almost all harvest (recreational and commercial) of these species occurs in state and Federal waters off the coast of Florida. The normal harvest of these species would not be expected to change under management by the state of Florida, thus no reduction in associated ex-vessel revenue or profit would be expected from this proposed rule. This proposed rule would also modify the golden tilefish longline endorsement regulations. Vessels that have Federal E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules commercial snapper-grouper permits with golden tilefish longline endorsements, specifically those that harvest golden tilefish using both longline and hook-and-line gear, would be expected to be negatively affected by this proposed action because they would no longer be able to harvest golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the hook-and-line quota. This would result in reduced revenues if they are unable to substitute the harvest of other species. A total of four vessels were identified in 2014 that had a valid or renewable golden tilefish longline endorsement during some part of the year and also harvested golden tilefish under the hook-and-line 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit quota. On average, these four vessels earned an estimated $8,142 (2013 dollars) per vessel from golden tilefish landings using hook-and-line gear in 2014. This accounts for approximately 9.2 percent of their average total revenue per vessel (2009 through 2013; 2014 data were incomplete). Therefore, this proposed rule, if implemented, assuming no substitution of other species and constant prices, would be expected to result in an estimated recurring annual loss of $8,142 (2013 dollars) per vessel for the four vessels that harvested golden tilefish using both longline and hook-and-line gear. Vessels that do not have longline endorsements, on the other hand, would be expected to indirectly benefit from this proposed rule, because they would no longer have to compete with longline endorsement holders for the hook-and-line quota. On average, the 37 non-longline endorsement holders would be expected to experience an annual per-vessel increase in revenue of approximately $880 (2013 dollars) or less than 2 percent of their annual average vessellevel revenue. The following discussion analyzes the alternatives that were not selected as preferred by the Council. Only actions that would have direct economic effects on small entities merit inclusion. Five alternatives were considered to remove species from the FMP. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain all current species in the FMP and would not be expected to have any economic effects. Under the no action alternative, species that do not require Federal management would remain in the FMP and potential cost savings and/or efficiency gains of management would go unrealized. All of the other alternatives were selected as preferred and would result in the removal of black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and schoolmaster from Federal management. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for modifying the golden tilefish endorsement regulations. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not be expected to have any economic effects. The current golden tilefish endorsement regulations are, however, contrary to the intent of the Council and unintentionally limit golden tilefish harvest opportunities and economic benefits for hook-and-line fishermen. The second alternative would revise the golden tilefish endorsement regulations so that any vessel with a valid or renewable longline endorsement would not be permitted to harvest golden tilefish under the hook-and-line quota. Under the second alternative, longline endorsement holders that operate more than one vessel (with a Federal snappergrouper vessel permit) would be able to transfer their golden tilefish longline endorsement to a different vessel and then continue to fish for golden tilefish under the hook-and-line quota in a single year. Only one vessel exhibited this behavior in 2014. Under the second alternative, the negative economic effects on the longline endorsement holders would be lower than under this proposed rule, as would the positive effects experienced by the hook-and-line component of the commercial sector. However, this alternative would be inconsistent with the original Council intent of establishing the longline endorsement. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Acceptable biological catch, Annual catch limit, Commercial trip limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Quotas, Snappergrouper, South atlantic, Species table. Dated: February 26, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In part 622, revise ‘‘allowable biological catch’’ to read ‘‘acceptable biological catch’’ wherever it occurs. ■ 3. In § 622.185, paragraph (a)(3) is revised to read as follows: ■ PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 622.185 11505 Size limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) Blackfin, cubera, gray, queen, silk, and yellowtail snappers—12 inches (30.5 cm), TL. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.191, the second sentence in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) is revised to read as follows: § 622.191 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (2) * * * (ii) * * * Vessels that have valid or renewable golden tilefish longline endorsements any time during the fishing year, are not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under this 500-lb (227-kg), gutted weight, trip limit. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.193, paragraphs (h) and (p) are revised to read as follows: § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (h) Deep-water complex (including yellowedge grouper, silk snapper, misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, and blackfin snapper)—(1) Commercial sector—(i) If commercial landings for the deep-water complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL of 131,268 lb (59,542 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of deep-water complex species is prohibited and harvest or possession of these species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limits. These bag and possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 169,896 lb (77,064 kg), round weight, is exceeded, and at least one of the species in the deepwater complex is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the commercial ACL for that E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 11506 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for the deep-water complex, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 38,628 lb (17,521 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year, unless the RA determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limits are zero. (ii) If recreational landings for the deep-water complex, exceed the applicable recreational ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 169,896 lb (77,064 kg), round weight, is exceeded, and at least one of the species in the deep-water complex is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season in the following fishing year to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACL the following fishing year. When NMFS reduces the length of the following recreational fishing season and closes the recreational sector, the following closure provisions apply: The bag and possession limits for the deep-water complex in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. Additionally, the recreational ACL will be reduced by the amount of the recreational ACL overage in the prior fishing year. The fishing season and recreational ACL will not be reduced if the RA determines, using the best scientific information available that no reduction is necessary. * * * * * (p) Other snappers complex (including cubera snapper, gray snapper, and lane snapper)—(1) Commercial sector—(i) If commercial landings for the other snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the complex commercial ACL of 344,575 lb (156,297 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to close the commercial sector for this complex for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of cubera snapper, gray snapper, and lane snapper is prohibited, and harvest or possession of any of these species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limits. These VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 bag and possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) If commercial landings for the other snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 1,513,883 lb (686,686 kg), round weight, is exceeded, and at least one of the species in the other snappers complex is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the commercial ACL for that following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (2) Recreational sector—(i) If recreational landings for the other snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 1,169,308 lb (530,391 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year regardless if any stock in the other snappers complex is overfished, unless NMFS determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limits for any species in the other snappers complex in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. (ii) If recreational landings for the other snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL, then during the following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings, and if necessary, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season and the recreational ACL by the amount of the recreational ACL overage, if at least one of the species in the other snappers complex is overfished based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL of 1,513,883 lb (686,686 kg), round weight, is exceeded during the same fishing year. NMFS will use the best scientific information available to determine if reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and recreational ACL is necessary. When the recreational sector is closed as a result of NMFS reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and the ACL, the bag and possession limits for PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 any species in the other snappers complex in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. * * * * * ■ 6. In Appendix A to part 622, Table 4 is revised to read as follows: Appendix A to Part 622—Species Tables * * * * * Table 4 of Appendix A to Part 622—South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Balistidae—Triggerfishes Gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus Carangidae—Jacks Bar jack, Caranx ruber Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili Lesser amberjack, Seriola fasciata Almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana Banded rudderfish, Seriola zonata Ephippidae—Spadefishes Spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber Haemulidae—Grunts Margate, Haemulon album Tomtate, Haemulon aurolineatum Sailor’s choice, Haemulon parrai White grunt, Haemulon plumieri Labridae—Wrasses Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus Lutjanidae—Snappers Queen snapper, Etelis oculatus Mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis Blackfin snapper, Lutjanus buccanella Red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus Cubera snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus Gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus Lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris Silk snapper, Lutjanus vivanus Yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus Vermilion snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens Malacanthidae—Tilefishes Blueline tilefish, Caulolatilus microps Golden tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps Sand tilefish, Malacanthus plumieri Percichthyidae—Temperate basses Wreckfish, Polyprion americanus Serranidae—Groupers Rock hind, Epinephelus adscensionis Graysby, Epinephelus cruentatus Speckled hind, Epinephelus drummondhayi Yellowedge grouper, Epinephelus flavolimbatus Coney, Epinephelus fulvus Red hind, Epinephelus guttatus Goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara Red grouper, Epinephelus morio Misty grouper, Epinephelus mystacinus Warsaw grouper, Epinephelus nigritus Snowy grouper, Epinephelus niveatus Nassau grouper, Epinephelus striatus Black grouper, Mycteroperca bonaci Yellowmouth grouper, Mycteroperca interstitialis Gag, Mycteroperca microlepis Scamp, Mycteroperca phenax Yellowfin grouper, Mycteroperca venenosa Serranidae—Sea Basses Black sea bass, Centropristis striata Sparidae—Porgies Jolthead porgy, Calamus bajonado Saucereye porgy, Calamus calamus E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1 11507 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2016 / Proposed Rules jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Whitebone porgy, Calamus leucosteus Knobbed porgy, Calamus nodosus Red porgy, Pagrus pagrus Scup, Stenotomus chrysops VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:02 Mar 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 The following species are designated as ecosystem component species: Cottonwick, Haemulon melanurum Bank sea bass, Centropristis ocyurus Rock sea bass, Centropristis philadelphica PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Longspine porgy, Stenotomus caprinus Ocean triggerfish, Canthidermis sufflamen * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–04808 Filed 3–3–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\04MRP1.SGM 04MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 43 (Friday, March 4, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 11502-11507]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-04808]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 150303208-6099-01]
RIN 0648-BE70


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 35

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 regulations to implement Amendment 35 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South 
Atlantic Region (FMP) (Amendment 35), as prepared and submitted by the 
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). The proposed rule, 
if implemented, would remove black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog 
snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP as well as revise regulations 
regarding the golden tilefish longline endorsement program. The purpose 
of this rule is to ensure that only snapper-grouper species requiring 
Federal management are included in the Snapper-Grouper FMP, improve the 
consistency of management of snapper-grouper species in waters off 
south Florida across state and Federal jurisdictional boundaries, and 
to align regulations for golden tilefish longline endorsements with the 
Council's original intent for establishing the longline endorsement 
program.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 4, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2015-0076'' 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-2015-0076, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required 
fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Nikhil Mehta, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or

[[Page 11503]]

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 Amendment 35 may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. 
Amendment 35 includes a draft environmental assessment, a Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, a Regulatory Impact Review, and a 
Fishery Impact Statement.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic is managed under the FMP, and includes black snapper, mahogany 
snapper, dog snapper, schoolmaster, and golden tilefish. The FMP was 
prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 
CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This rule would remove black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog 
snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP, and revise the golden tilefish 
longline endorsement regulations to be consistent with the Council's 
original intent for establishing the longline endorsement program.

Remove Four Species From the FMP

    Black snapper, mahogany snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster are 
currently in the FMP, but have extremely low commercial landings in 
state and Federal waters, and almost all harvest (recreational and 
commercial) occurs in waters off the coast of South Florida. Currently, 
NMFS does not manage these species in Federal waters of the Gulf of 
Mexico (Gulf); however, the species are subject to regulations in 
Florida state waters. As described in Amendment 35, there are currently 
different regulations for recreational bag limits, size limits, and 
catch levels for these species between the Gulf, South Atlantic, and 
Florida. Inconsistent regulations make enforcement difficult and can be 
confusing to the public. This rule would remove black snapper, mahogany 
snapper, dog snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP and NMFS's 
management in Federal waters of the South Atlantic to ensure that only 
species requiring federal management are included in the FMP. The state 
of Florida has indicated that if these species are removed from the 
FMP, it intends to extend state regulation of these species into 
Federal waters off Florida for Florida-state registered fishing 
vessels, under Sec.  306(a)(3)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, to 
provide consistent regulations for these species across state and 
Federal jurisdictional boundaries.
    Black snapper is part of the deep-water complex within the FMP. The 
deep-water complex currently includes black snapper, yellowedge 
grouper, silk snapper, misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, and 
blackfin snapper. If black snapper is removed from the FMP, the annual 
catch limit (ACL) for the deep-water complex would be reduced from 
170,279 lb (77,237 kg), round weight, to 169,896 lb (77,063 kg), round 
weight, a difference of 382 lb (173 kg), round weight.
    Dog snapper and mahogany snapper are part of the other snappers 
complex within the FMP. The other snappers complex currently includes 
cubera snapper, gray snapper, lane snapper, dog snapper, and mahogany 
snapper. Removal of dog snapper and mahogany snapper from the FMP would 
reduce the other snappers complex ACL from 1,517,716 lb (688,424 kg), 
round weight, to 1,513,883 lb (686,688 kg), round weight, a difference 
of 3,833 lb (1,739 kg), round weight.
    Dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and black snapper are not typically 
targeted by commercial or recreational fishermen; therefore, bycatch 
associated with harvest of these species is extremely low. Schoolmaster 
is currently designated as an ecosystem component (EC) species in the 
FMP. The Council did not choose to retain dog snapper, mahogany 
snapper, and black snapper in the FMP as EC species because the 
objective of the amendment is to establish a consistent regulatory 
environment across jurisdictional boundaries in Gulf and South Atlantic 
Federal waters and Florida state waters. Because NMFS does not manage 
these species in Gulf Federal waters, retaining them as EC species 
would continue inconsistent regulations across jurisdictional 
boundaries. Additionally, if these species are designated as EC 
species, the state of Florida would not be able to extend their 
management authority for these species into Federal waters, because 
states may not generally manage species in Federal waters if those 
species are included in Federal fishery management plans.
    A formal stock assessment has not been performed for black snapper, 
mahogany snapper, dog snapper, or schoolmaster; however, there is no 
indication that these stocks are depleted. Therefore, removing these 
species from the FMP is not expected to result in any adverse 
biological effects.

Clarify Regulations for Golden Tilefish Endorsement Holders

    The final rule to implement Amendment 18B to the FMP (78 FR 23858, 
April 23, 2013) established a longline endorsement program for the 
commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery. A 
longline endorsement is required to fish for golden tilefish with 
longline gear. Amendment 18B also established a golden tilefish hook-
and-line quota and modified the golden tilefish commercial trip limits. 
The golden tilefish longline endorsement, sector quotas, and trip 
limits, were implemented because the golden tilefish commercial ACL was 
being harvested rapidly by fishermen using longline gear, so that 
fishermen who had historically used hook-and-line gear to target golden 
tilefish were not able to participate in the golden tilefish portion of 
the snapper-grouper fishery. The Council established the longline 
endorsement program and gear specific commercial quotas to help ensure 
that fishermen fishing with each gear type have a fair and equitable 
allocation of the commercial quota. The Council did not intend for 
longline endorsement holders to fish on the hook-and-line quota, or for 
non-endorsement holders to fish on the longline quota.
    The Council and NMFS are aware that since Amendment 18B was 
implemented, some longline endorsement holders are transferring their 
golden tilefish longline endorsement to another vessel and then fishing 
for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the hook-and-line 
quota. Other endorsement holders are renewing their Federal commercial 
snapper-grouper vessel permit but are waiting to renew their golden 
tilefish longline endorsement, so that they are able to fish for golden 
tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the hook-and-line quota while 
their longline endorsement is not valid. Neither scenario is consistent 
with the original intent of the Council in Amendment 18B. The Council 
decided to clarify their intent for golden tilefish longline

[[Page 11504]]

endorsement holders in Amendment 35. Currently, as described at Sec.  
622.191(a)(2)(ii), the regulations state that ``Vessels with a golden 
tilefish longline endorsement are not eligible to fish for golden 
tilefish using hook-and-line gear under this 500-lb (227-kg), gutted 
weight, trip limit.'' This rule would propose that ``Vessels that have 
valid or renewable golden tilefish longline endorsements anytime during 
the fishing year, are not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using 
hook-and-line gear under this 500-lb (227-;kg), gutted weight, trip 
limit.'' Thus, a fisherman who owns a vessel with a valid or renewable 
golden tilefish longline endorsement would not be eligible to fish for 
golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the 500-lb (227-kg), 
gutted weight, hook-and-line trip limit during that fishing year.

Additional Change to Codified Text

    In the part 622 regulations, NMFS would revise ``allowable 
biological catch'' to read ``acceptable biological catch'' wherever it 
occurs. In the part 600 regulations, ``ABC'' is defined as ``acceptable 
biological catch;'' however, in the part 622 regulations, ``ABC'' is 
defined as ``acceptable biological catch'' in three places and 
``allowable biological catch'' in four places. NMFS has determined that 
``acceptable biological catch'' is the more precise definition for 
``ABC''. Therefore, to be consistent with the part 600 regulations and 
to use the more precise terminology, NMFS proposes to change the 
definition of ``ABC'' to ``acceptable biological catch,'' and 
accordingly revise ``allowable biological catch,'' wherever it occurs 
in the part 622 regulations.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Amendment 35, the FMP, 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.
    A Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Analysis was prepared as an 
Appendix to Amendment 35 and is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). 
For this proposed rule, NMFS adopts this analysis as its initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) required by section 603 of the 
RFA, 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this 
proposed rule, if implemented, would have on small entities. A 
description of the proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the 
objectives of, and legal basis for this proposed rule are contained at 
the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY 
section of the preamble. A summary of the IRFA follows.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or 
other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. 
Accordingly, this rule does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    This proposed rule would be expected to directly affect all 
commercial vessels that harvest black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany 
snapper, schoolmaster and/or golden tilefish under the FMP. The removal 
of the four snapper-grouper species discussed in this proposed rule 
would not directly apply to or affect charter vessel and headboat (for-
hire) businesses. Any impact to the profitability or competitiveness of 
for-hire fishing businesses would be the result of changes in for-hire 
angler demand and would therefore be indirect in nature. Currently, 
charter and headboat captains and crew can retain black snapper, dog 
snapper, mahogany snapper, schoolmaster and golden tilefish under the 
recreational bag limit; however, they cannot sell these fish. As such, 
charter and headboat captains and crew would only be affected as 
recreational anglers. The RFA does not consider recreational anglers, 
who would be directly affected by this proposed rule, to be small 
entities, so they are outside the scope of this analysis and only the 
effects on commercial vessels were analyzed.
    As of November 3, 2014, there were 564 vessels with valid or 
renewable South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Unlimited Permits, 120 vessels 
with valid or renewable 225-lb (102-kg) Trip Limit Permits and 22 
vessels with valid or renewable longline endorsements for golden 
tilefish. Although all commercial snapper-grouper permit holders have 
the opportunity to fish for black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany 
snapper, and/or schoolmaster, on average, there were only four 
federally permitted vessels identified from 2009 through 2013 that 
commercially landed one or more of these species each year. The average 
annual vessel-level revenue for all species harvested by these four 
vessels over this period was approximately $101,000 (2013 dollars), of 
which $32 was from black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and/or 
schoolmaster. During the same time period, on average, 22 vessels per 
year commercially harvested golden tilefish using longline gear and 
their annual average vessel-level revenue for all species was 
approximately $95,000 (2013 dollars), of which $55,000 was from golden 
tilefish. Thirty-seven vessels, on average (2009 through 2013), 
commercially harvested golden tilefish exclusively with non-longline 
gear and they earned an average of approximately $46,000 (2013 dollars) 
per vessel for all species harvested, of which $2,000 was from golden 
tilefish.
    No other small entities that would be directly affected by this 
proposed rule have been identified.
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size 
criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including 
commercial finfish harvesters (NAICS code 114111). A business primarily 
involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it 
is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of 
operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts 
not in excess of $20.5 million for all its affiliated operations 
worldwide. All of the vessels directly regulated by this rule are 
believed to be small entities based on the SBA size criteria.
    Of the 684 vessels eligible to fish for the species managed under 
the FMP, only 63 of them are expected to be affected by this proposed 
rule (approximately 9 percent). Because all of these commercial fishing 
businesses are believed to be small entities, the issue of 
disproportionate effects on small versus large entities does not arise 
in the present case.
    This proposed rule would remove black snapper, dog snapper, 
mahogany snapper, and schoolmaster from the FMP. The state of Florida 
intends to then extend its management of these species into Federal 
waters. Average revenues per vessel from 2009 through 2013 for these 
four snapper-grouper species accounted for less than 1 percent of 
average total revenues received by the vessels that commercially 
harvested these species. Almost all harvest (recreational and 
commercial) of these species occurs in state and Federal waters off the 
coast of Florida. The normal harvest of these species would not be 
expected to change under management by the state of Florida, thus no 
reduction in associated ex-vessel revenue or profit would be expected 
from this proposed rule.
    This proposed rule would also modify the golden tilefish longline 
endorsement regulations. Vessels that have Federal

[[Page 11505]]

commercial snapper-grouper permits with golden tilefish longline 
endorsements, specifically those that harvest golden tilefish using 
both longline and hook-and-line gear, would be expected to be 
negatively affected by this proposed action because they would no 
longer be able to harvest golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear 
under the hook-and-line quota. This would result in reduced revenues if 
they are unable to substitute the harvest of other species. A total of 
four vessels were identified in 2014 that had a valid or renewable 
golden tilefish longline endorsement during some part of the year and 
also harvested golden tilefish under the hook-and-line 500-lb (227-kg) 
trip limit quota. On average, these four vessels earned an estimated 
$8,142 (2013 dollars) per vessel from golden tilefish landings using 
hook-and-line gear in 2014. This accounts for approximately 9.2 percent 
of their average total revenue per vessel (2009 through 2013; 2014 data 
were incomplete). Therefore, this proposed rule, if implemented, 
assuming no substitution of other species and constant prices, would be 
expected to result in an estimated recurring annual loss of $8,142 
(2013 dollars) per vessel for the four vessels that harvested golden 
tilefish using both longline and hook-and-line gear. Vessels that do 
not have longline endorsements, on the other hand, would be expected to 
indirectly benefit from this proposed rule, because they would no 
longer have to compete with longline endorsement holders for the hook-
and-line quota. On average, the 37 non-longline endorsement holders 
would be expected to experience an annual per-vessel increase in 
revenue of approximately $880 (2013 dollars) or less than 2 percent of 
their annual average vessel-level revenue.
    The following discussion analyzes the alternatives that were not 
selected as preferred by the Council. Only actions that would have 
direct economic effects on small entities merit inclusion.
    Five alternatives were considered to remove species from the FMP. 
The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain all 
current species in the FMP and would not be expected to have any 
economic effects. Under the no action alternative, species that do not 
require Federal management would remain in the FMP and potential cost 
savings and/or efficiency gains of management would go unrealized. All 
of the other alternatives were selected as preferred and would result 
in the removal of black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and 
schoolmaster from Federal management.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for modifying the golden tilefish endorsement regulations. 
The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not be expected 
to have any economic effects. The current golden tilefish endorsement 
regulations are, however, contrary to the intent of the Council and 
unintentionally limit golden tilefish harvest opportunities and 
economic benefits for hook-and-line fishermen. The second alternative 
would revise the golden tilefish endorsement regulations so that any 
vessel with a valid or renewable longline endorsement would not be 
permitted to harvest golden tilefish under the hook-and-line quota. 
Under the second alternative, longline endorsement holders that operate 
more than one vessel (with a Federal snapper-grouper vessel permit) 
would be able to transfer their golden tilefish longline endorsement to 
a different vessel and then continue to fish for golden tilefish under 
the hook-and-line quota in a single year. Only one vessel exhibited 
this behavior in 2014. Under the second alternative, the negative 
economic effects on the longline endorsement holders would be lower 
than under this proposed rule, as would the positive effects 
experienced by the hook-and-line component of the commercial sector. 
However, this alternative would be inconsistent with the original 
Council intent of establishing the longline endorsement.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Acceptable biological catch, Annual catch limit, Commercial trip 
limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Quotas, Snapper-grouper, South atlantic, 
Species table.

    Dated: February 26, 2016.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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

0
2. In part 622, revise ``allowable biological catch'' to read 
``acceptable biological catch'' wherever it occurs.
0
3. In Sec.  622.185, paragraph (a)(3) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.185  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) Blackfin, cubera, gray, queen, silk, and yellowtail snappers--
12 inches (30.5 cm), TL.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  622.191, the second sentence in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) is 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.191  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * * Vessels that have valid or renewable golden tilefish 
longline endorsements any time during the fishing year, are not 
eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under 
this 500-lb (227-kg), gutted weight, trip limit.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  622.193, paragraphs (h) and (p) are revised to read as 
follows:


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

* * * * *
    (h) Deep-water complex (including yellowedge grouper, silk snapper, 
misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, and blackfin snapper)--(1) 
Commercial sector--(i) If commercial landings for the deep-water 
complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the 
commercial ACL of 131,268 lb (59,542 kg), round weight, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and 
after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase 
of deep-water complex species is prohibited and harvest or possession 
of these species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the 
bag and possession limits. These bag and possession limits apply in the 
South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial 
or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper 
has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, 
i.e., in state or Federal waters.
    (ii) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, and the combined 
commercial and recreational ACL of 169,896 lb (77,064 kg), round 
weight, is exceeded, and at least one of the species in the deep-water 
complex is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. 
Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the 
following fishing year to reduce the commercial ACL for that

[[Page 11506]]

following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior 
fishing year.
    (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for the deep-
water complex, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the 
recreational ACL of 38,628 lb (17,521 kg), round weight, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year, unless 
the RA determines that no closure is necessary based on the best 
scientific information available. On and after the effective date of 
such a notification, the bag and possession limits are zero.
    (ii) If recreational landings for the deep-water complex, exceed 
the applicable recreational ACL, and the combined commercial and 
recreational ACL of 169,896 lb (77,064 kg), round weight, is exceeded, 
and at least one of the species in the deep-water complex is 
overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to 
Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register, to reduce the length of the recreational fishing 
season in the following fishing year to ensure recreational landings do 
not exceed the recreational ACL the following fishing year. When NMFS 
reduces the length of the following recreational fishing season and 
closes the recreational sector, the following closure provisions apply: 
The bag and possession limits for the deep-water complex in or from the 
South Atlantic EEZ are zero. Additionally, the recreational ACL will be 
reduced by the amount of the recreational ACL overage in the prior 
fishing year. The fishing season and recreational ACL will not be 
reduced if the RA determines, using the best scientific information 
available that no reduction is necessary.
* * * * *
    (p) Other snappers complex (including cubera snapper, gray snapper, 
and lane snapper)--(1) Commercial sector--(i) If commercial landings 
for the other snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are 
projected to reach the complex commercial ACL of 344,575 lb (156,297 
kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, to close the commercial sector for this complex 
for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date 
of such a notification, all sale or purchase of cubera snapper, gray 
snapper, and lane snapper is prohibited, and harvest or possession of 
any of these species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to 
the bag and possession limits. These bag and possession limits apply in 
the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal 
commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species 
were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters.
    (ii) If commercial landings for the other snappers complex, as 
estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL, and the combined 
commercial and recreational ACL of 1,513,883 lb (686,686 kg), round 
weight, is exceeded, and at least one of the species in the other 
snappers complex is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. 
Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to reduce the commercial ACL for that 
following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior 
fishing year.
    (2) Recreational sector--(i) If recreational landings for the other 
snappers complex, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to 
reach the recreational ACL of 1,169,308 lb (530,391 kg), round weight, 
the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register 
to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year 
regardless if any stock in the other snappers complex is overfished, 
unless NMFS determines that no closure is necessary based on the best 
scientific information available. On and after the effective date of 
such a notification, the bag and possession limits for any species in 
the other snappers complex in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero.
    (ii) If recreational landings for the other snappers complex, as 
estimated by the SRD, exceed the recreational ACL, then during the 
following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a 
persistence in increased landings, and if necessary, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, to reduce the 
length of the recreational fishing season and the recreational ACL by 
the amount of the recreational ACL overage, if at least one of the 
species in the other snappers complex is overfished based on the most 
recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and the combined 
commercial and recreational ACL of 1,513,883 lb (686,686 kg), round 
weight, is exceeded during the same fishing year. NMFS will use the 
best scientific information available to determine if reducing the 
length of the recreational fishing season and recreational ACL is 
necessary. When the recreational sector is closed as a result of NMFS 
reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and the ACL, the 
bag and possession limits for any species in the other snappers complex 
in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero.
* * * * *
0
6. In Appendix A to part 622, Table 4 is revised to read as follows:

Appendix A to Part 622--Species Tables

* * * * *

Table 4 of Appendix A to Part 622--South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper

Balistidae--Triggerfishes
    Gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus
Carangidae--Jacks
    Bar jack, Caranx ruber
    Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili
    Lesser amberjack, Seriola fasciata
    Almaco jack, Seriola rivoliana
    Banded rudderfish, Seriola zonata
Ephippidae--Spadefishes
    Spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber
Haemulidae--Grunts
    Margate, Haemulon album
    Tomtate, Haemulon aurolineatum
    Sailor's choice, Haemulon parrai
    White grunt, Haemulon plumieri
Labridae--Wrasses
    Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus
Lutjanidae--Snappers
    Queen snapper, Etelis oculatus
    Mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis
    Blackfin snapper, Lutjanus buccanella
    Red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus
    Cubera snapper, Lutjanus cyanopterus
    Gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus
    Lane snapper, Lutjanus synagris
    Silk snapper, Lutjanus vivanus
    Yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus
    Vermilion snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens
Malacanthidae--Tilefishes
    Blueline tilefish, Caulolatilus microps
    Golden tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps
    Sand tilefish, Malacanthus plumieri
Percichthyidae--Temperate basses
    Wreckfish, Polyprion americanus
Serranidae--Groupers
    Rock hind, Epinephelus adscensionis
    Graysby, Epinephelus cruentatus
    Speckled hind, Epinephelus drummondhayi
    Yellowedge grouper, Epinephelus flavolimbatus
    Coney, Epinephelus fulvus
    Red hind, Epinephelus guttatus
    Goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara
    Red grouper, Epinephelus morio
    Misty grouper, Epinephelus mystacinus
    Warsaw grouper, Epinephelus nigritus
    Snowy grouper, Epinephelus niveatus
    Nassau grouper, Epinephelus striatus
    Black grouper, Mycteroperca bonaci
    Yellowmouth grouper, Mycteroperca interstitialis
    Gag, Mycteroperca microlepis
    Scamp, Mycteroperca phenax
    Yellowfin grouper, Mycteroperca venenosa
Serranidae--Sea Basses
    Black sea bass, Centropristis striata
Sparidae--Porgies
    Jolthead porgy, Calamus bajonado
    Saucereye porgy, Calamus calamus

[[Page 11507]]

    Whitebone porgy, Calamus leucosteus
    Knobbed porgy, Calamus nodosus
    Red porgy, Pagrus pagrus
    Scup, Stenotomus chrysops

    The following species are designated as ecosystem component 
species:

    Cottonwick, Haemulon melanurum
    Bank sea bass, Centropristis ocyurus
    Rock sea bass, Centropristis philadelphica
    Longspine porgy, Stenotomus caprinus
    Ocean triggerfish, Canthidermis sufflamen
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2016-04808 Filed 3-3-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P