Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 25, 34944-34947 [2016-12846]

Download as PDF sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 34944 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules See 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA’s role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this proposed action merely proposes to approve state law as meeting federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this proposed action: • Is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011); • does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.); • is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); • does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); • does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); • is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and • does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds. Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. Dated: May 19, 2106. Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, Region 4. [FR Doc. 2016–12805 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 160225143–6143–01] RIN 0648–BF61 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 25 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 25 for the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 25) as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs), the commercial trip limit, and the recreational bag limit for blueline tilefish. Additionally, this proposed rule would revise the black sea bass recreational bag limit and the the commercial and recreational fishing years for yellowtail snapper. The purpose of this proposed rule for blueline tilefish is to increase the optimum yield (OY) and ACLs based on a revised acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendation from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The purpose of this proposed rule is also to achieve OY for black sea bass and adjust the fishing year for yellowtail snapper to better protect the species while allowing for economic benefits to fishers. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Written comments must be received on or before June 16, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2016–0042’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160042, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 25, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, regulatory impact review, and fishery impact statement, may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/reg_am25/ index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick DeVictor, NMFS, SERO, telephone: 727– 551–5720 or email: rick.devictor@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic Region is managed under the FMP and includes blueline tilefish, black sea bass, and yellowtail snapper. 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). DATES: Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing basis, OY from federally managed fish stocks. These E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules mandates are intended to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, while also protecting marine ecosystems. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Stock Status In 2013, the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) assessment (SEDAR 32) for blueline tilefish found the stock to be undergoing overfishing, based on data through 2011. In 2015, the Council specified a blueline tilefish ACL in Amendment 32 to the FMP, based on the results of SEDAR 32 and an ABC recommendation from the Council’s SSC, and on March 30, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 32 (80 FR 16583). In Regulatory Amendment 25, the Council is revising the blueline tilefish ACL based on a new ABC recommendation from the Council’s SSC, and an increase in the buffer between ABC and ACL to account for management uncertainty. In 2013, the SEDAR 25 Update determined that the black sea bass stock in the South Atlantic is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing, and that the stock is rebuilt. The final rule to implement Regulatory Amendment 19 established increases in the total ACL and commercial and recreational ACLs for black sea bass (78 FR 58249, September 23, 2013). The state of Florida completed a stock assessment for yellowtail snapper in May 2012. The assessment determined that the stock, in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters (state and Federal waters) combined, is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. The final rule to implement Regulatory Amendment 15 to the FMP implemented the current ACLs for this stock in the South Atlantic (78 FR 49183, August 13, 2013). Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational ACLs, commercial trip limit, and recreational bag limit for blueline tilefish; revise the recreational bag limit for black sea bass; and revise the fishing year for the yellowtail snapper commercial and recreational sectors. All ABC and ACL weights in this proposed rule are expressed in round weight. Blueline Tilefish ACLs This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish. The current commercial ACLs are 26,766 lb (12,141 kg) for 2016, 35,785 lb (16,232 kg) for VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 2017, and 44,048 lb (19,980 kg) for 2018, and subsequent fishing years. The current recreational ACLs are 26,691 lb (12,107 kg) for 2016, 35,685 lb (16,186 kg) for 2017, and 43,925 lb (19,924 kg) for 2018, and subsequent fishing years. These ACLs were implemented through Amendment 32 to the FMP (80 FR 16583, March 30, 2015). This proposed rule would increase both the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic. The commercial ACL would be set at 87,521 lb (39,699 kg) and the recreational ACL would be set at 87,277 lb (39,588 kg). In Regulatory Amendment 25, the Council is revising the blueline tilefish ACL based on a new ABC recommendation from the Council’s SSC. Following the SEDAR 32 assessment, the SSC provided an ABC recommendation to the Council based on the ABC projections developed after SEDAR 32. In September 2015, the SSC raised concerns about the utility of projections from SEDAR 32 in specifying the ABC and concluded that the ABC projections do not represent the best scientific information available and are not adequate to support blueline tilefish fishing level recommendations for either current or future years. Based on that determination, the SSC revised their blueline tilefish ABC recommendation to set the ABC at the equilibrium yield at 75 percent of the fishing mortality that produces the maximum sustainable yield (224,100 lb (101,650 kg)). The Council accepted the SSC’s recommendations and determined that this revised ABC is sufficient to prevent the overfishing of blueline tilefish. The Council is also revising the ACL to increase the buffer between the ABC and ACL from 2 percent to 22 percent. The increase in the buffer is to account for management uncertainty, such as increased landings north of the Council’s area of jurisdiction. In Amendment 32 to the FMP, the Council set the total ACL (combined commercial and recreational ACL) for the South Atlantic at 98 percent of the recommended ABC for the entire Atlantic region to account for management uncertainty, since the stock assessment was coast-wide and the Council was aware that some landings of blueline tilefish occurred north of North Carolina. In Regulatory Amendment 25, the Council has determined to set the total ACL at 78 percent of the ABC. This decision is based on a comparison of the landings between the South Atlantic and Greater Atlantic Regions (Maine through Virginia) which indicate that 22 percent PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34945 of the landings from 2011–2014 are from the Greater Atlantic Region. Blueline Tilefish Commercial Trip Limit The current commercial trip limit for blueline tilefish is 100 lb (45 kg), gutted weight; 112 lb (51 kg), round weight, and was implemented in Amendment 32. The Council selected that trip limit as a way to slow the commercial harvest of blueline tilefish, potentially lengthen the commercial fishing season, and reduce the risk of the commercial ACL being exceeded. This proposed rule would increase the blueline tilefish commercial trip limit to 300 lb (136 kg) gutted weight; 336 lb (152 kg), round weight. The Council decided that an appropriate response to the increase in ABC and proposed increase in total ACL is to increase the commercial trip limit. The increase in the commercial trip limit would reduce adverse socioeconomic effects to commercial fishermen. In addition, the increase in the commercial trip limit is not expected to result in an in-season closure of blueline tilefish. Blueline Tilefish and Black Sea Bass Recreational Bag Limits This proposed rule would revise the recreational bag limits for both blueline tilefish and black sea bass. The current blueline tilefish bag limit is one fish per vessel per day for the months of May through August and is part of the aggregate bag limit for grouper and tilefish. There is no recreational retention of blueline tilefish during the rest of the fishing year. This bag limit was implemented in Amendment 32 to the FMP. In conjunction with the proposed increase in the recreational ACL in Regulatory Amendment 25, this proposed rule would increase the recreational bag limit to three fish per person per day for the months of May through August and remain as part of the aggregate bag limit for grouper and tilefish. There would continue to be no recreational retention of blueline tilefish during the months of January through April and September through December, each year. The current bag limit for black sea bass in 5 fish per person per day and was implemented through the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 9 to the FMP (76 FR 34892, June 15, 2011). The proposed rule would increase the recreational bag limit for black sea bass to 7 fish per person per day. The Council decided to increase the bag limit to help achieve OY, since the recreational ACL has not been met in recent years. Additionally, increasing the bag limit to 7 fish is not expected to result in exceeding the recreational E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 34946 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules ACL or requiring an in-season closure of the recreational sector. Yellowtail Snapper Fishing Year The current fishing fishing year for the yellowtail snapper commercial and recreational sectors in the South Atlantic is January 1 through December 31. The in-season accountability measure for the commercial sector is to close yellowtail snapper when the commercial ACL is met or projected to be met. Recently, commercial harvest of yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic waters was closed from October 31, 2015, through December 31, 2015, because the commercial ACL was met (80 FR 65970, October 28, 2015). This proposed rule would revise the fishing year for both the commercial and recreational sectors to be August 1 through July 31, each year. Changing the start of the fishing year to August 1 would benefit both sectors because it would ensure that harvest is open during the winter months when yellowtail snapper obtain a higher price per pound commercially and during peak tourist season in south Florida, where the majority of yellowtail snapper harvest takes place. Additionally, if an in-season closure for the commercial sector were to occur as a result of the ACL being met, it is likely that such a closure would occur later in the fishing year. With a fishing year start date of August 1, then it is more likely that any such closure would coincide with the yellowtail snapper peak spawning period of May through June, thereby possibly providing some additional biological benefits to the stock. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Regulatory Amendment 25, other provisions of 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. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 The proposed rule would directly apply to anglers that harvest blueline tilefish, black sea bass, and yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6), whether fishing from for-hire fishing (charter vessel or headboat), private or leased vessels. Consequently, any impacts of the proposed rule on anglers are not considered in this analysis. The proposed rule would directly apply to finfish commercial fishing businesses that harvest blueline tilefish and yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ. An annual average of 123 vessels harvested blueline tilefish and an annual average of 256 vessels harvested yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ from 2010 through 2014. The Small Business Administration established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including finfish fishing. A business involved in finfish fishing 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 its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $20.5 million (NAICS code 114111) for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. The average annual dockside revenue of a vessel that lands blueline tilefish is estimated to be $74,907 (2014 dollars), and the average annual dockside revenue of a vessel that lands yellowtail snapper is estimated to be $39,300 (2014 dollars). NMFS estimates that the 123 vessels that harvest blueline tilefish and 256 vessels that harvest yellowtail snapper are operated by 107 and 223 businesses, respectively, and NMFS concludes that all of these businesses are small. The proposed rule would increase the commercial ACL of blueline tilefish, which would allow for increases in average annual landings of up to 48,582 lb (22,036 kg) and average annual dockside revenues of up to $107,366 (2014 dollars). Those increases divided across the 107 small businesses that harvest blueline tilefish would yield an average annual benefit from increased dockside revenue of $1,003 per business. The proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for blueline tilefish from 100 lb (45.4 kg) to 300 lb (136 kg), gutted weight. Prior to 2015, there was no commercial trip limit and from 2010 through 2014, an annual average of 82 vessels operated by an estimated 71 small businesses landed less than 100 lb (45 kg) per trip and an annual average of 41 vessels operated by PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 an estimated 36 small businesses landed more than 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. The trip limit increase is expected to benefit the 36 small businesses that had landings greater than 100 lb (45 kg), and their combined annual dockside revenues are expected to increase from $66,200 to $78,489 (2014 dollars). The increases in annual dockside revenues would not be equal. Eleven of the 36 small businesses would have an average annual increase from $7 to $729, six would have an average annual increase from $736 to $1,458, and 19 would have an average annual increase of $3,249. The proposed rule would revise the commercial fishing year for yellowtail snapper from January 1 through December 31 to August 1 through July 31. From 2012 through 2014, the commercial fishing year remained open for all 12 months; however, in 2015, the commercial season closed in October when landings reached the commercial ACL. This analysis presumes the 2015 rate of commercial landings is indicative of future annual landings and, therefore, concludes that future 12month seasons will close by the end of the 10th month. The proposed action to revise the commercial fishing year would change the two months when the season is expected to be closed: From November and December to June and July. From 2010 to 2014, dockside prices of yellowtail snapper were, on average, lowest from May through July and higher in November and December. That suggests that the proposed rule could benefit the 223 small businesses that harvest yellowtail snapper because the 2 months of the season that are expected to be closed (June and July) would have lower dockside prices than November and December. The proposed rule would also adjust the recreational bag limit for blueline tilefish, increase the recreational bag limit for black sea bass, and modify the recreational fishing year for yellowtail snapper. Those actions are not relevant to this analysis because they directly affect anglers and anglers are not small entities as explained earlier. Because this proposed rule would not have a significant direct adverse economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Black sea bass, Blueline tilefish, Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Recreational, South Atlantic, Yellowtail snapper. E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Proposed Rules Dated: May 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 proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.7, add paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ § 622.7 Fishing years. * * * * * (f) South Atlantic yellowtail snapper—August 1 through July 31 . ■ 3. In § 622.187: ■ a. Revise paragraph (b)(2)(iii); ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2)(iv); and ■ c. Revise paragraph (b)(7). The revisions read as follows: § 622.187 Bag and possession limits. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (iii) No more than one fish may be a golden tilefish; and * * * * * (7) Black sea bass—7. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.191, revise paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows: § 622.191 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (10) Blueline tilefish. Until the ACL specified in § 622.193(z)(1)(i) is reached or projected to be reached, 300 lb (136 kg), gutted weight; 336 lb (152 kg), round weight. See § 622.193(z)(1)(i) for the limitations regarding blueline tilefish after the commercial ACL is reached. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.193, revise paragraph (z) to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (z) Blueline tilefish—(1) Commercial sector. (i) If commercial landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL of 87,521 lb (39,699 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of blueline tilefish is prohibited and harvest or possession of blueline tilefish 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 (total ACL) specified in paragraph (z)(3) of this section, is exceeded, and blueline tilefish 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 following year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 87,277 lb (39,588 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 blueline tilefish, exceed the applicable recreational ACL, and the combined commercial and recreational ACL (total ACL) specified in paragraph (z)(3) of this section is exceeded, and blueline tilefish 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 blueline tilefish 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 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 34947 the RA determines, using the best scientific information available, that no reduction is necessary. (3) The combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL) is 174,798 lb (79,287 kg), round weight. [FR Doc. 2016–12846 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140905757–6404–01] RIN 0648–BE42 Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Commercial Sablefish Fishing Regulations and Electronic Fish Tickets National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This proposed rule would revise fishery monitoring and equipment requirements for all commercial groundfish fisheries, including a requirement for submitting electronic fish tickets in the limited entry fixed gear fisheries and open access fisheries. This proposed rule would revise administrative procedures for limited entry permits, providing greater flexibility and efficiencies for limited entry groundfish fishery participants. This proposed rule also would require vessels registered to Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to make an initial VMS declaration. This proposed rule also would make administrative changes and clarifying edits to improve consistency of the regulations with past Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) actions and with the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action is needed to improve monitoring and administration of the limited entry sablefish primary fishery and address unforeseen issues arising out of the evolution of commercial sablefish fisheries and subsequent regulations. DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received by July 1, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0032, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01JNP1.SGM 01JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 105 (Wednesday, June 1, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 34944-34947]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12846]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 160225143-6143-01]
RIN 0648-BF61


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory 
Amendment 25

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 25 
for the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery 
of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 25) as prepared and 
submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). 
If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the commercial and 
recreational annual catch limits (ACLs), the commercial trip limit, and 
the recreational bag limit for blueline tilefish. Additionally, this 
proposed rule would revise the black sea bass recreational bag limit 
and the the commercial and recreational fishing years for yellowtail 
snapper. The purpose of this proposed rule for blueline tilefish is to 
increase the optimum yield (OY) and ACLs based on a revised acceptable 
biological catch (ABC) recommendation from the Council's Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC). The purpose of this proposed rule is also 
to achieve OY for black sea bass and adjust the fishing year for 
yellowtail snapper to better protect the species while allowing for 
economic benefits to fishers.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before June 16, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2016-0042'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0042, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 25, which includes an 
environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, 
regulatory impact review, and fishery impact statement, may be obtained 
from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office Web site at 
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/reg_am25/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick DeVictor, NMFS, SERO, telephone: 
727-551-5720 or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic Region is managed under the FMP and includes blueline 
tilefish, black sea bass, and yellowtail snapper. 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).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing 
basis, OY from federally managed fish stocks. These

[[Page 34945]]

mandates are intended to ensure that fishery resources are managed for 
the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect 
to providing food production and recreational opportunities, while also 
protecting marine ecosystems.

Stock Status

    In 2013, the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 
assessment (SEDAR 32) for blueline tilefish found the stock to be 
undergoing overfishing, based on data through 2011. In 2015, the 
Council specified a blueline tilefish ACL in Amendment 32 to the FMP, 
based on the results of SEDAR 32 and an ABC recommendation from the 
Council's SSC, and on March 30, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule to 
implement Amendment 32 (80 FR 16583). In Regulatory Amendment 25, the 
Council is revising the blueline tilefish ACL based on a new ABC 
recommendation from the Council's SSC, and an increase in the buffer 
between ABC and ACL to account for management uncertainty.
    In 2013, the SEDAR 25 Update determined that the black sea bass 
stock in the South Atlantic is neither overfished nor undergoing 
overfishing, and that the stock is rebuilt. The final rule to implement 
Regulatory Amendment 19 established increases in the total ACL and 
commercial and recreational ACLs for black sea bass (78 FR 58249, 
September 23, 2013).
    The state of Florida completed a stock assessment for yellowtail 
snapper in May 2012. The assessment determined that the stock, in the 
South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters (state and Federal waters) 
combined, is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. The final 
rule to implement Regulatory Amendment 15 to the FMP implemented the 
current ACLs for this stock in the South Atlantic (78 FR 49183, August 
13, 2013).

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational 
ACLs, commercial trip limit, and recreational bag limit for blueline 
tilefish; revise the recreational bag limit for black sea bass; and 
revise the fishing year for the yellowtail snapper commercial and 
recreational sectors. All ABC and ACL weights in this proposed rule are 
expressed in round weight.

Blueline Tilefish ACLs

    This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational 
ACLs for blueline tilefish. The current commercial ACLs are 26,766 lb 
(12,141 kg) for 2016, 35,785 lb (16,232 kg) for 2017, and 44,048 lb 
(19,980 kg) for 2018, and subsequent fishing years. The current 
recreational ACLs are 26,691 lb (12,107 kg) for 2016, 35,685 lb (16,186 
kg) for 2017, and 43,925 lb (19,924 kg) for 2018, and subsequent 
fishing years. These ACLs were implemented through Amendment 32 to the 
FMP (80 FR 16583, March 30, 2015). This proposed rule would increase 
both the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish in the 
South Atlantic. The commercial ACL would be set at 87,521 lb (39,699 
kg) and the recreational ACL would be set at 87,277 lb (39,588 kg).
    In Regulatory Amendment 25, the Council is revising the blueline 
tilefish ACL based on a new ABC recommendation from the Council's SSC. 
Following the SEDAR 32 assessment, the SSC provided an ABC 
recommendation to the Council based on the ABC projections developed 
after SEDAR 32. In September 2015, the SSC raised concerns about the 
utility of projections from SEDAR 32 in specifying the ABC and 
concluded that the ABC projections do not represent the best scientific 
information available and are not adequate to support blueline tilefish 
fishing level recommendations for either current or future years. Based 
on that determination, the SSC revised their blueline tilefish ABC 
recommendation to set the ABC at the equilibrium yield at 75 percent of 
the fishing mortality that produces the maximum sustainable yield 
(224,100 lb (101,650 kg)). The Council accepted the SSC's 
recommendations and determined that this revised ABC is sufficient to 
prevent the overfishing of blueline tilefish.
    The Council is also revising the ACL to increase the buffer between 
the ABC and ACL from 2 percent to 22 percent. The increase in the 
buffer is to account for management uncertainty, such as increased 
landings north of the Council's area of jurisdiction. In Amendment 32 
to the FMP, the Council set the total ACL (combined commercial and 
recreational ACL) for the South Atlantic at 98 percent of the 
recommended ABC for the entire Atlantic region to account for 
management uncertainty, since the stock assessment was coast-wide and 
the Council was aware that some landings of blueline tilefish occurred 
north of North Carolina. In Regulatory Amendment 25, the Council has 
determined to set the total ACL at 78 percent of the ABC. This decision 
is based on a comparison of the landings between the South Atlantic and 
Greater Atlantic Regions (Maine through Virginia) which indicate that 
22 percent of the landings from 2011-2014 are from the Greater Atlantic 
Region.

Blueline Tilefish Commercial Trip Limit

    The current commercial trip limit for blueline tilefish is 100 lb 
(45 kg), gutted weight; 112 lb (51 kg), round weight, and was 
implemented in Amendment 32. The Council selected that trip limit as a 
way to slow the commercial harvest of blueline tilefish, potentially 
lengthen the commercial fishing season, and reduce the risk of the 
commercial ACL being exceeded. This proposed rule would increase the 
blueline tilefish commercial trip limit to 300 lb (136 kg) gutted 
weight; 336 lb (152 kg), round weight. The Council decided that an 
appropriate response to the increase in ABC and proposed increase in 
total ACL is to increase the commercial trip limit. The increase in the 
commercial trip limit would reduce adverse socioeconomic effects to 
commercial fishermen. In addition, the increase in the commercial trip 
limit is not expected to result in an in-season closure of blueline 
tilefish.

Blueline Tilefish and Black Sea Bass Recreational Bag Limits

    This proposed rule would revise the recreational bag limits for 
both blueline tilefish and black sea bass. The current blueline 
tilefish bag limit is one fish per vessel per day for the months of May 
through August and is part of the aggregate bag limit for grouper and 
tilefish. There is no recreational retention of blueline tilefish 
during the rest of the fishing year. This bag limit was implemented in 
Amendment 32 to the FMP. In conjunction with the proposed increase in 
the recreational ACL in Regulatory Amendment 25, this proposed rule 
would increase the recreational bag limit to three fish per person per 
day for the months of May through August and remain as part of the 
aggregate bag limit for grouper and tilefish. There would continue to 
be no recreational retention of blueline tilefish during the months of 
January through April and September through December, each year.
    The current bag limit for black sea bass in 5 fish per person per 
day and was implemented through the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 
9 to the FMP (76 FR 34892, June 15, 2011). The proposed rule would 
increase the recreational bag limit for black sea bass to 7 fish per 
person per day. The Council decided to increase the bag limit to help 
achieve OY, since the recreational ACL has not been met in recent 
years. Additionally, increasing the bag limit to 7 fish is not expected 
to result in exceeding the recreational

[[Page 34946]]

ACL or requiring an in-season closure of the recreational sector.

Yellowtail Snapper Fishing Year

    The current fishing fishing year for the yellowtail snapper 
commercial and recreational sectors in the South Atlantic is January 1 
through December 31. The in-season accountability measure for the 
commercial sector is to close yellowtail snapper when the commercial 
ACL is met or projected to be met. Recently, commercial harvest of 
yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic waters was closed from October 
31, 2015, through December 31, 2015, because the commercial ACL was met 
(80 FR 65970, October 28, 2015).
    This proposed rule would revise the fishing year for both the 
commercial and recreational sectors to be August 1 through July 31, 
each year. Changing the start of the fishing year to August 1 would 
benefit both sectors because it would ensure that harvest is open 
during the winter months when yellowtail snapper obtain a higher price 
per pound commercially and during peak tourist season in south Florida, 
where the majority of yellowtail snapper harvest takes place. 
Additionally, if an in-season closure for the commercial sector were to 
occur as a result of the ACL being met, it is likely that such a 
closure would occur later in the fishing year. With a fishing year 
start date of August 1, then it is more likely that any such closure 
would coincide with the yellowtail snapper peak spawning period of May 
through June, thereby possibly providing some additional biological 
benefits to the stock.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Regulatory Amendment 25, other provisions of 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.
    No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been 
identified.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows.
    The proposed rule would directly apply to anglers that harvest 
blueline tilefish, black sea bass, and yellowtail snapper in the South 
Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Anglers are not considered 
small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6), whether 
fishing from for-hire fishing (charter vessel or headboat), private or 
leased vessels. Consequently, any impacts of the proposed rule on 
anglers are not considered in this analysis.
    The proposed rule would directly apply to finfish commercial 
fishing businesses that harvest blueline tilefish and yellowtail 
snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ. An annual average of 123 vessels 
harvested blueline tilefish and an annual average of 256 vessels 
harvested yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ from 2010 
through 2014.
    The Small Business Administration established size criteria for all 
major industry sectors in the U.S., including finfish fishing. A 
business involved in finfish fishing 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 its combined annual 
receipts are not in excess of $20.5 million (NAICS code 114111) for all 
of its affiliated operations worldwide. The average annual dockside 
revenue of a vessel that lands blueline tilefish is estimated to be 
$74,907 (2014 dollars), and the average annual dockside revenue of a 
vessel that lands yellowtail snapper is estimated to be $39,300 (2014 
dollars). NMFS estimates that the 123 vessels that harvest blueline 
tilefish and 256 vessels that harvest yellowtail snapper are operated 
by 107 and 223 businesses, respectively, and NMFS concludes that all of 
these businesses are small.
    The proposed rule would increase the commercial ACL of blueline 
tilefish, which would allow for increases in average annual landings of 
up to 48,582 lb (22,036 kg) and average annual dockside revenues of up 
to $107,366 (2014 dollars). Those increases divided across the 107 
small businesses that harvest blueline tilefish would yield an average 
annual benefit from increased dockside revenue of $1,003 per business.
    The proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for 
blueline tilefish from 100 lb (45.4 kg) to 300 lb (136 kg), gutted 
weight. Prior to 2015, there was no commercial trip limit and from 2010 
through 2014, an annual average of 82 vessels operated by an estimated 
71 small businesses landed less than 100 lb (45 kg) per trip and an 
annual average of 41 vessels operated by an estimated 36 small 
businesses landed more than 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. The trip limit 
increase is expected to benefit the 36 small businesses that had 
landings greater than 100 lb (45 kg), and their combined annual 
dockside revenues are expected to increase from $66,200 to $78,489 
(2014 dollars). The increases in annual dockside revenues would not be 
equal. Eleven of the 36 small businesses would have an average annual 
increase from $7 to $729, six would have an average annual increase 
from $736 to $1,458, and 19 would have an average annual increase of 
$3,249.
    The proposed rule would revise the commercial fishing year for 
yellowtail snapper from January 1 through December 31 to August 1 
through July 31. From 2012 through 2014, the commercial fishing year 
remained open for all 12 months; however, in 2015, the commercial 
season closed in October when landings reached the commercial ACL. This 
analysis presumes the 2015 rate of commercial landings is indicative of 
future annual landings and, therefore, concludes that future 12-month 
seasons will close by the end of the 10th month. The proposed action to 
revise the commercial fishing year would change the two months when the 
season is expected to be closed: From November and December to June and 
July. From 2010 to 2014, dockside prices of yellowtail snapper were, on 
average, lowest from May through July and higher in November and 
December. That suggests that the proposed rule could benefit the 223 
small businesses that harvest yellowtail snapper because the 2 months 
of the season that are expected to be closed (June and July) would have 
lower dockside prices than November and December.
    The proposed rule would also adjust the recreational bag limit for 
blueline tilefish, increase the recreational bag limit for black sea 
bass, and modify the recreational fishing year for yellowtail snapper. 
Those actions are not relevant to this analysis because they directly 
affect anglers and anglers are not small entities as explained earlier. 
Because this proposed rule would not have a significant direct adverse 
economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Black sea bass, Blueline tilefish, Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, 
Recreational, South Atlantic, Yellowtail snapper.


[[Page 34947]]


    Dated: May 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 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.7, add paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.7  Fishing years.

* * * * *
    (f) South Atlantic yellowtail snapper--August 1 through July 31 .
0
3. In Sec.  622.187:
0
a. Revise paragraph (b)(2)(iii);
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2)(iv); and
0
c. Revise paragraph (b)(7).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  622.187  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) No more than one fish may be a golden tilefish; and
* * * * *
    (7) Black sea bass--7.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  622.191, revise paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.191  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (10) Blueline tilefish. Until the ACL specified in Sec.  
622.193(z)(1)(i) is reached or projected to be reached, 300 lb (136 
kg), gutted weight; 336 lb (152 kg), round weight. See Sec.  
622.193(z)(1)(i) for the limitations regarding blueline tilefish after 
the commercial ACL is reached.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  622.193, revise paragraph (z) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (z) Blueline tilefish--(1) Commercial sector. (i) If commercial 
landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are 
projected to reach the commercial ACL of 87,521 lb (39,699 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 blueline tilefish is prohibited and harvest or 
possession of blueline tilefish 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 (total ACL) specified in paragraph 
(z)(3) of this section, is exceeded, and blueline tilefish 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 following year by the amount 
of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year.
    (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for blueline 
tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, are projected to reach the 
recreational ACL of 87,277 lb (39,588 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 blueline tilefish, exceed the 
applicable recreational ACL, and the combined commercial and 
recreational ACL (total ACL) specified in paragraph (z)(3) of this 
section is exceeded, and blueline tilefish 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 blueline tilefish 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.
    (3) The combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL) 
is 174,798 lb (79,287 kg), round weight.

[FR Doc. 2016-12846 Filed 5-31-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P