Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gag Management Measures, 24038-24040 [2016-09491]

Download as PDF 24038 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 79 / Monday, April 25, 2016 / Rules and Regulations * Elevation in feet (NGVD) + Elevation in feet (NAVD) # Depth in feet above ground ∧ Elevation in meters (MSL) Modified Flooding source(s) Location of referenced elevation Tributary 2 ................................. Approximately 1,350 feet upstream of West Jackson Street. + 329 Communities affected Unincorporated Areas of Clay County. * National Geodetic Vertical Datum. + North American Vertical Datum. # Depth in feet above ground. ∧ Mean Sea Level, rounded to the nearest 0.1 meter. ADDRESSES City of Corning Maps are available for inspection at City Hall, 304 Southwest Second Street, Corning, AR 72422. Unincorporated Areas of Clay County Maps are available for inspection at the Clay County Conservation District, 168 East Main Street, Piggott, AR 72454. Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. [FR Doc. 2016–09470 Filed 4–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–12–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration 49 CFR Part 172 Hazardous Materials Table, Special Provisions, Hazardous Materials Communications, Emergency Response Information, Training Requirements, and Security Plans CFR Correction In Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 100 to 177, revised as of October 1, 2015, on page 269, in § 172.101, in the Hazardous Materials Table, for the entry ‘‘Phenylmercuric compounds, n.o.s.’’ add ‘‘G’’ in the first column. ■ [FR Doc. 2016–09615 Filed 4–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505–01–D DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 160211104–6339–02] jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES RIN 0648–BF70 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gag Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:10 Apr 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This action revises the recreational closed season for gag and the recreational minimum size limits for gag and black grouper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone. The purpose of this final rule is to optimize recreational opportunities to harvest gag and to address inconsistencies in the recreational minimum size limits for gag and black grouper in the Gulf and South Atlantic. DATES: This final rule is effective May 25, 2016. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an environmental assessment, a regulatory impact review, and a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2016/ gag_and_black_grouper_framework/ index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727–824– 5305, email: rich.malinowski@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gag and black grouper, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On March 3, 2016, NMFS published a proposed rule for the framework action and requested public comment (81 FR 11166). The proposed rule and Amendment 35 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by the framework action and this final rule is provided below. The 2014 Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR 33) benchmark stock assessment indicates that the Gulf gag stock is not overfished or undergoing overfishing. However, as described in the framework action, the Council’s Reef Fish Advisory Panel, the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the public all suggested that the Council use caution when setting the gag annual catch limits (ACL) and annual catch targets (ACT) because SEDAR 33 resulted in a large increase in the overfishing limit compared to the previous gag assessment. Therefore, the Council decided not to modify the Gulf gag ACL or ACT in this framework action. The 2010 SEDAR 19 benchmark assessment for black grouper found that the Gulf black grouper stock was neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule This final rule revises the recreational closed season for gag and the recreational minimum size limits for gag and black grouper in the Gulf. Gag Recreational Closed Season The current closed season for the gag recreational sector is January 1 through June 30 and December 3 through December 31, annually. This closed season was established in Amendment E:\FR\FM\25APR1.SGM 25APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 79 / Monday, April 25, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 32 to the FMP to help prevent the gag recreational ACL from being exceeded (77 FR 6988, February 10, 2012). This final rule revises the gag recreational closed season to be from January 1 to May 31, annually. This revised closed season is expected to reduce the amount of dead discards of gag that occur during the Gulf’s recreational season for red snapper that begins on June 1, annually, and to extend the gag recreational fishing season beyond the current December closure date to provide the opportunity for the recreational sector to harvest the recreational ACL. jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES Gag and Black Grouper Minimum Size Limits The current gag and black grouper recreational minimum size limits in Gulf Federal waters are both set at 22 inches (55.9 cm), total length (TL). The current gag and black grouper minimum size limit in South Atlantic Federal waters is 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, for both species and for both the commercial and recreational sectors. For the state of Florida, in state waters off Monroe County in the Gulf, the recreational minimum size limit for gag and black grouper is 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL. This final rule increases the recreational minimum size limit in Gulf Federal waters for both species to 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, to be consistent with the Federal waters of the South Atlantic and state waters off Monroe County, Florida. The Council decided that the benefits of having a size limit for these species that is consistent with both the South Atlantic and the state size limits for the waters off Monroe County, Florida, will outweigh any impacts of increased discard rates for these species. Furthermore, gag are sometimes misidentified as black grouper and having the same recreational minimum size limit for gag and black grouper may assist the public in complying with the applicable regulations for gag and black grouper. Additionally, increasing the recreational minimum size limit for these species is expected to provide the opportunity for more gag and black grouper to become sexually mature and spawn. Comments and Responses A total of 16 comments were received on the framework action and the proposed rule. Ten of the comments supported the actions in the rule, one comment was against the actions in the rule, and five comments were not related to the actions in the framework action or the proposed rule. Specific comments related to the actions in the framework action and the proposed rule VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:10 Apr 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 as well as NMFS’ respective responses, are summarized below. Comment 1: The use of slot limits for gag and black grouper would allow larger fish with more eggs to proliferate. Response: NMFS agrees that the use a slot limit could allow older, larger fish to remain in the population and reproduce. However, this would depend on the slot limit chosen and a slot limit would not allow for consistent size limits for these species between the Gulf, South Atlantic, and State of Florida waters off of Monroe County. Therefore, NMFS agrees with the Council’s decision to select a minimum size limit of 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, for both gag and black grouper. Comment 2: The gag recreational sector should be open year round or for 10 months each year. Response: NMFS disagrees. Two of the purposes of the framework action are to: (1) Allow more recreational opportunities to harvest gag without increasing the risk of exceeding the recreational ACL; and (2) allow the opening of the recreational gag season to coincide with the opening of the red snapper recreational season. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that modifying the season from July 1 through December 2 to June 1 through December 31 achieves these purposes. Further, the Council’s preferred alternative retains the spring closure, which protects gag spawning aggregations that are at their peak during February and March. Comment 3: The Council should implement a minimum size limit of 23 inches (58.4 cm), TL, instead of the 24 inch (61.0 cm), TL, size limit. Response: NMFS disagrees. A minimum size limit of 23 inches (58.4 cm), TL, was not considered as an alternative by the Council because it would not meet the relevant purpose of the framework action, which is to address the inconsistencies in the size limits between Gulf of Mexico waters, South Atlantic waters, and Florida waters off Monroe County. Both the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and state of Florida have a 24 inch (61.0 cm), TL, minimum size limit for gag and black grouper. Therefore, the Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that it is appropriate to change the size limited in Gulf of Mexico waters to 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, to be consistent with the South Atlantic and state of Florida regulations. Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 24039 management of Gulf gag and black grouper and is consistent with the framework action, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The 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 final rule. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding the certification and NMFS has not received any new information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Black grouper, Fisheries, Fishing, Gag, Gulf, Recreational, Reef fish, Size limits. Dated: April 19, 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 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 § 622.34, paragraph (e) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish. * * * * * (e) Seasonal closure of the recreational sector for gag. The recreational sector for gag, in or from the Gulf EEZ, is closed from January 1 through May 31. During the closure, the bag and possession limits for gag in or from the Gulf EEZ are zero. * * * * * E:\FR\FM\25APR1.SGM 25APR1 24040 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 79 / Monday, April 25, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 3. In § 622.37, paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(5)(ii) are revised to read as follows: ■ § 622.37 jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with RULES * Size limits. * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 15:10 Apr 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 (1) Gag—(i) For a person not subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(2)—22 inches (55.9 cm), TL. (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(2)—24 inches (61.0 cm), TL. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 (5) * * * (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(2)—24 inches (61.0 cm), TL. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–09491 Filed 4–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\25APR1.SGM 25APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 79 (Monday, April 25, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24038-24040]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-09491]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 160211104-6339-02]
RIN 0648-BF70


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gag Management Measures

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures 
described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the 
Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the 
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This action 
revises the recreational closed season for gag and the recreational 
minimum size limits for gag and black grouper in the Gulf of Mexico 
(Gulf) exclusive economic zone. The purpose of this final rule is to 
optimize recreational opportunities to harvest gag and to address 
inconsistencies in the recreational minimum size limits for gag and 
black grouper in the Gulf and South Atlantic.

DATES: This final rule is effective May 25, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an 
environmental assessment, a regulatory impact review, and a Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis may be obtained from the Southeast 
Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2016/gag_and_black_grouper_framework/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Malinowski, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: rich.malinowski@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes 
gag and black grouper, is managed under the FMP. 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).
    On March 3, 2016, NMFS published a proposed rule for the framework 
action and requested public comment (81 FR 11166). The proposed rule 
and Amendment 35 outline the rationale for the actions contained in 
this final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by the framework 
action and this final rule is provided below.
    The 2014 Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR 33) benchmark 
stock assessment indicates that the Gulf gag stock is not overfished or 
undergoing overfishing. However, as described in the framework action, 
the Council's Reef Fish Advisory Panel, the Council's Science and 
Statistical Committee (SSC), and the public all suggested that the 
Council use caution when setting the gag annual catch limits (ACL) and 
annual catch targets (ACT) because SEDAR 33 resulted in a large 
increase in the overfishing limit compared to the previous gag 
assessment. Therefore, the Council decided not to modify the Gulf gag 
ACL or ACT in this framework action.
    The 2010 SEDAR 19 benchmark assessment for black grouper found that 
the Gulf black grouper stock was neither overfished nor undergoing 
overfishing.

Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule revises the recreational closed season for gag and 
the recreational minimum size limits for gag and black grouper in the 
Gulf.

Gag Recreational Closed Season

    The current closed season for the gag recreational sector is 
January 1 through June 30 and December 3 through December 31, annually. 
This closed season was established in Amendment

[[Page 24039]]

32 to the FMP to help prevent the gag recreational ACL from being 
exceeded (77 FR 6988, February 10, 2012).
    This final rule revises the gag recreational closed season to be 
from January 1 to May 31, annually. This revised closed season is 
expected to reduce the amount of dead discards of gag that occur during 
the Gulf's recreational season for red snapper that begins on June 1, 
annually, and to extend the gag recreational fishing season beyond the 
current December closure date to provide the opportunity for the 
recreational sector to harvest the recreational ACL.

Gag and Black Grouper Minimum Size Limits

    The current gag and black grouper recreational minimum size limits 
in Gulf Federal waters are both set at 22 inches (55.9 cm), total 
length (TL). The current gag and black grouper minimum size limit in 
South Atlantic Federal waters is 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, for both 
species and for both the commercial and recreational sectors. For the 
state of Florida, in state waters off Monroe County in the Gulf, the 
recreational minimum size limit for gag and black grouper is 24 inches 
(61.0 cm), TL. This final rule increases the recreational minimum size 
limit in Gulf Federal waters for both species to 24 inches (61.0 cm), 
TL, to be consistent with the Federal waters of the South Atlantic and 
state waters off Monroe County, Florida. The Council decided that the 
benefits of having a size limit for these species that is consistent 
with both the South Atlantic and the state size limits for the waters 
off Monroe County, Florida, will outweigh any impacts of increased 
discard rates for these species. Furthermore, gag are sometimes 
misidentified as black grouper and having the same recreational minimum 
size limit for gag and black grouper may assist the public in complying 
with the applicable regulations for gag and black grouper. 
Additionally, increasing the recreational minimum size limit for these 
species is expected to provide the opportunity for more gag and black 
grouper to become sexually mature and spawn.

Comments and Responses

    A total of 16 comments were received on the framework action and 
the proposed rule. Ten of the comments supported the actions in the 
rule, one comment was against the actions in the rule, and five 
comments were not related to the actions in the framework action or the 
proposed rule. Specific comments related to the actions in the 
framework action and the proposed rule as well as NMFS' respective 
responses, are summarized below.
    Comment 1: The use of slot limits for gag and black grouper would 
allow larger fish with more eggs to proliferate.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the use a slot limit could allow older, 
larger fish to remain in the population and reproduce. However, this 
would depend on the slot limit chosen and a slot limit would not allow 
for consistent size limits for these species between the Gulf, South 
Atlantic, and State of Florida waters off of Monroe County. Therefore, 
NMFS agrees with the Council's decision to select a minimum size limit 
of 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, for both gag and black grouper.
    Comment 2: The gag recreational sector should be open year round or 
for 10 months each year.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Two of the purposes of the framework 
action are to: (1) Allow more recreational opportunities to harvest gag 
without increasing the risk of exceeding the recreational ACL; and (2) 
allow the opening of the recreational gag season to coincide with the 
opening of the red snapper recreational season. The Council determined, 
and NMFS agrees, that modifying the season from July 1 through December 
2 to June 1 through December 31 achieves these purposes. Further, the 
Council's preferred alternative retains the spring closure, which 
protects gag spawning aggregations that are at their peak during 
February and March.
    Comment 3: The Council should implement a minimum size limit of 23 
inches (58.4 cm), TL, instead of the 24 inch (61.0 cm), TL, size limit.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. A minimum size limit of 23 inches (58.4 
cm), TL, was not considered as an alternative by the Council because it 
would not meet the relevant purpose of the framework action, which is 
to address the inconsistencies in the size limits between Gulf of 
Mexico waters, South Atlantic waters, and Florida waters off Monroe 
County. Both the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and state of 
Florida have a 24 inch (61.0 cm), TL, minimum size limit for gag and 
black grouper. Therefore, the Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that 
it is appropriate to change the size limited in Gulf of Mexico waters 
to 24 inches (61.0 cm), TL, to be consistent with the South Atlantic 
and state of Florida regulations.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management 
of Gulf gag and black grouper and is consistent with the framework 
action, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The 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 final rule.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding the certification and NMFS has not received any new 
information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Black grouper, Fisheries, Fishing, Gag, Gulf, Recreational, Reef 
fish, Size limits.

    Dated: April 19, 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 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.  622.34, paragraph (e) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.34  Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef 
fish.

* * * * *
    (e) Seasonal closure of the recreational sector for gag. The 
recreational sector for gag, in or from the Gulf EEZ, is closed from 
January 1 through May 31. During the closure, the bag and possession 
limits for gag in or from the Gulf EEZ are zero.
* * * * *

[[Page 24040]]


0
3. In Sec.  622.37, paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(5)(ii) are revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  622.37  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) Gag--(i) For a person not subject to the bag limit specified in 
Sec.  622.38(b)(2)--22 inches (55.9 cm), TL.
    (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in Sec.  
622.38(b)(2)--24 inches (61.0 cm), TL.
* * * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in Sec.  
622.38(b)(2)--24 inches (61.0 cm), TL.
* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2016-09491 Filed 4-22-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P