Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted Fishing Permit, 41931-41933 [2016-15154]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 124 / Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / Notices The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before August 29, 2016. ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at JJessup@doc.gov). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Christopher Biegel, (503) 231–6291 or christopher.biegel@ noaa.gov. SUMMARY: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract This request is for an extension of a currently approved information collection. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires that the Secretary of Commerce maintain a cost recovery program to cover part of the management, data collection, and enforcement costs of the limited access privilege programs, such as the Pacific coast groundfish fishery’s trawl rationalization program. This cost recovery program requires fish sellers to submit fees to fish buyers who then submit those fees to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and include information about the volume and value of groundfish. Information is collected from monthly and annual reports as well as non-payment documents when necessary. This program is authorized under the Pacific coast groundfish fishery regulations, trawl rationalization cost recovery program at 50 CFR 660.115. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES II. Method of Collection Most information is submitted electronically through the Federal web portal Pay.gov, though some may be submitted by mail or email. III. Data OMB Control Number: 0648–0663. Form Number(s): None. Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a current information collection). Affected Public: Business or other forprofit organizations. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:49 Jun 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 Estimated Number of Respondents: 116. Estimated Time per Response: Cost recovery forms: 1 hour; Failure to pay report: 4 hours; Annual report: 1 hour. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 1,304. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in recordkeeping/reporting costs. IV. Request for Comments Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record. Dated: June 23, 2016. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–15216 Filed 6–27–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE676 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PR DNER). If granted, the EFP would authorize the PR DNER to conduct two projects in waters SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41931 of the Puerto Rico exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to collect fisheryindependent data on the abundance, distribution, and reproductive condition of reef fish in eastern and western Puerto Rico. For the first project, the EFP would authorize the PR DNER to harvest reef fish by hook-and-line and bottom longline gear off both the west and east coasts of Puerto Rico. All reef fish, including undersized and seasonally prohibited reef fish species, would be retained, except for goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, and all species of parrotfish. The purpose of the EFP for the first project is to determine spatial and temporal variations in stock abundance of Caribbean reef fish resources off Puerto Rico. The second project in the EFP would authorize the PR DNER to collect various species of recreationally important reef fish by spear gun and hook-and-line fishing in Federal waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico. The purpose of the second project is to obtain information about the annual reproductive cycle and minimum size of sexual maturation of the collected reef fish species. DATES: Comments must be received no later than July 28, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application by either of the following methods: • Email: Maria.Lopez@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the email comment the following document identifier: ‘‘PR DNER_EFP 2016’’. • Mail: Maria del Mar Lopez, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. The application and related documents are available for review upon written request to any of the above addresses. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria del Mar Lopez, telephone: 727– 824–5305, email: Maria.Lopez@ noaa.gov. The EFP is requested under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted fishing. The proposed collection for scientific research involves activities that would otherwise be prohibited by regulations at 50 CFR part 622, as they pertain to Caribbean reef fish managed by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council). The EFP would exempt this research activity from Federal regulations at § 622.435(a) (Seasonal and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 41932 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 124 / Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / Notices area closures), § 622.436 (Size limits), and § 622.437 (Bag limits). This action involves activities covered by regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The applicant requests authorization to collect reef fish species through two projects in the Federal waters off the east and west coasts of Puerto Rico. Specimens would be collected by commercial fishermen contracted through the PR DNER, by PR DNER research vessels, and by private vessels contracted by the PR DNER. The applicant has requested the EFP for both projects to be effective from the date of EFP issuance through May 31, 2018. The first project would continue the collection of information on reef fish abundance and distribution in Federal waters off eastern and western Puerto Rico as part of the ongoing Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program-Caribbean (SEAMAP–C) Reef Fish Monitoring Project that has recently undergone survey protocol revisions. Research in Federal waters would consist of harvesting reef fish at approximately 20 stations in the EEZ off the west coast of Puerto Rico, west of 67°00′00″ W. long., and approximately at 10 stations in the EEZ off the east coast of Puerto Rico, from the Fajardo coast to north of Culebra Island and east of Vieques Island. Stations and sampling dates for this first project would be randomly selected. Sampling would be conducted by (1) bottom longline fishing, (2) hook-and-line gear, and (3) underwater cameras to identify and quantify reef fish species. The hookand-line gear sampling would take place while EFP authorized vessels are both drifting and anchored. Species expected to be caught and landed for the EFP include federally managed schoolmaster, lane, vermilion, yellowtail, mutton, silk, and blackfin snappers; and red hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin, yellowedge, red, tiger, and black groupers. All reef fish, including undersized and seasonally prohibited species, would be retained, except for goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, and all species of parrotfish. The EFP for the first project would allow the following estimated amounts of these species groups to be harvested: A total of 240 lb (108 kg) of red hind grouper, a total of 100 lb (45 kg) of yellowfin, red, tiger, black (Grouper Unit 4) and yellowedge (Part of Grouper Unit 5) groupers, a total of 100 lb (45 kg) of silk, black, blackfin, and vermilion snappers (Snapper Unit 1), and a total of 600 lb (272 kg) of mutton, lane, gray, and schoolmaster snappers (Snapper Unit 3). Harvest of these reef fish species may occur during VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:49 Jun 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 their respective spawning seasonal closure periods as described at 50 CFR 622.435. The EFP would allow the harvest of 500 lb (227 kg) of yellowtail snapper, which may include fish under the legal minimum size of 12 in (30.5 cm), total length. Fish collected in the first project would also provide some of the samples to be used in the second project that is part of this EFP request. The bottom longline fishing component of the first project would occur at randomly selected stations at 0–10, 11–20, and 21–50 fathoms. There would be approximately 20 stations in the EEZ off the west coast and approximately 10 stations in the EEZ off the east coast of Puerto Rico. The sampling stations and dates of sampling would be randomly selected by the PR DNER and may also vary according to weather and sampling logistics. Sampling may occur during closed seasons in Federal waters or in areas closed to certain fishing activities. Sampling in the first project would occur between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., local time. The bottom longline would be anchored at each end, with surface buoys attached to allow retrieval and identification. Circle hooks would be used for the bottom longline gear and the gear would soak for 45 minutes for each sample, after which it would be retrieved and the reef fish collected. The bottom longline would be set to minimize any impacts to bottom habitat by avoiding coral reefs and by fastening small buoys at intervals between hooks to ensure the line remains suspended above the bottom to avoid entanglement. For each bottom longline trip, the following data would be recorded: Date; time of first and last hook deployment and recovery; station code; latitude and longitude; fishing time to the nearest minute; weather conditions; depth; total number of hooked fished per vessel; number, weight, length, reproductive condition, and species level identification of fish by individual longline set; and substrate and/or habitat type. The hook-and-line sampling for the first project would take place while project vessels are both drifting and an anchored. For each hook-and-line samples, sample locations will be selected based on depth and habitat criteria for both the west and east coasts of Puerto Rico. Hook-and-line gear stations would occur at 0–10, 11–20, and 21–50 fathoms. Each sampling area would be sampled twice during the period of the EFP and there would be approximately 20 stations in the Federal waters off the west coast and 10 stations in the Federal waters off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Sampling station and PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 date of sample would be randomly selected and may also vary according to weather and sampling logistics. The hook-and-line gear sampling for the first project would consist of 2 hours drifting and 2 hours anchored. The hook-andline sampling to occur while anchored would be conducted for 30 minutes at 4 different sampling stations. The hookand-line fishing while the vessels are drifting would be conducted in 15minute intervals near the anchor sampling stations for up to a total of 2 hours per sampling site. For each hookand-line trip, the following data would be recorded: Date, time of EFP vessel trips; station location (latitude and longitude); fishing time for hook-andline gear to the nearest 15 minutes; weather conditions; depth; total number of hooked fished per vessel; number, weight, length, reproductive condition, and identification of reef fish per hookand-line; and stratified habitat type or substrate type. As part of the first project, a camera survey would be also be used to develop a procedure that would allow for reef fish species identification, counts, and size measurements. There would be a total of approximately 60 camera sampling trips to cover the randomly pre-selected stations for the east and west coasts of Puerto Rico. The camera array would be deployed for 60 minutes at sites near those of the bottom longline fishing sites. The second project requested as part of this EFP would employ histological methods to describe the annual reproductive cycle and minimum size at maturity of mutton snapper, red hind, coney, white grunt, tomtate, and pluma porgy in waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Gonads would be collected from these species and preserved for histological analysis of species by the PR DNER. Information obtained as part of this study would potentially allow for determination of sex, reproductive stage, spawning season, and size of maturity of the collected reef fish species. Sampling for this second project would consist of approximately 10 trips in the Federal waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Twice per month, PR DNER contracted fishers would use hook-and-line gear and spear guns to collect a minimum of 25 samples per trip of each of the second project’s reef fish species, covering a wide size range of these species. Fishing would be conducted for 6–10 hours on a sampling day. Fish samples would be collected mainly by contracted fishermen. Any other species incidentally caught by hook-and-line fishers would be released, including E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 124 / Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / Notices Nassau and goliath groupers, and all species of parrotfish. For this second project, the EFP would allow the collection of a total of 150 lb (68 kg) of red hind during their closed spawning season of December 1 through the last day of February in Caribbean EEZ waters west of 67°10′00″ W. long.; and the collection of a total of 150 lb (68 kg) of mutton snapper, which may occur during its seasonal closure, which runs from April 1 through June 30 in the Caribbean EEZ. After being harvested and sampled, all reef fish that were collected would be donated to a local zoo. The NMFS New Procedures and Actions for Incidental Takes of Marine Mammals in Research and Monitoring Activities policy, approved in 2015, would be followed in the event of any incidental captures of marine mammals. Anchoring in Federal waters to conduct fishing activities would occur up to a maximum of 10 times in areas that do not affect corals. Anchoring and fishing activities would not take place in the spawning aggregation managed areas of Bajo de Sico, Tourmaline, or Abrir La Sierra, west of Puerto Rico. For both projects of the EFP, samples would be collected aboard research vessels owned by PR DNER and aboard private vessels contracted by the PR DNER. These vessels will be operated by PR DNER personnel or commercial fishermen and/or boat operators under contract with PR DNER. Each research vessel’s home port is located in Puerto Rico. NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration, based on a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on this permit, if it is indeed granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition on conducting research within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, or special management zones, without additional authorization. Additionally, NMFS would require any sea turtles taken incidentally during the course of fishing or scientific research activities to be handled with due care to prevent injury to live specimens, observed for activity, and returned to the water. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS’ review of public comments received on the application, consultations with the affected state(s), the Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:49 Jun 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 Dated: June 22, 2016. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–15154 Filed 6–27–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; California-OregonWashington Coastal Purse Seine Survey. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before August 29, 2016. ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at JJessup@doc.gov). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to James Hilger, (858) 546–7140 or james.hilger@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: I. Abstract This request is for a new collection of information. The Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) is undertaking an economics data collection effort for the West Coast Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) fleet to improve the SWFSC’s capability to do the following: (1) Describe and monitor economic performance (e.g., profitability, capacity utilization, efficiency, and productivity) and impacts (e.g., sector, community, or region-specific employment and income); (2) determine the quantity and distribution of net benefits derived from living marine resources; (3) understand and predict the ecological, and behavior of participants in Federally managed commercial fisheries; (4) predict the PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 41933 biological, ecological, and economic impacts of existing management measures and alternative proposed management actions; and, (4) in general, more effectively conduct the analyses required under the MSA, the Endangered Species ACT (ESA), and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPDA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEP), and Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), Executive Order 12866, and other applicable law. CPS fishery participants are defined as US west-coast purse seine vessels participating in the coastal pelagic species (CPS) fisheries—northern anchovy, Pacific mackerel, Pacific sardine, and/or market squid), we intend to survey all WashingtonOregon-California coastal purse seine vessels with sardine landings in any year between 2015 and the initiation of the survey. This includes vessels fishing off California in the limited entry program under the CPS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and State permitted vessels fishing off Washington and Oregon. II. Method of Collection CPS fishery participants will be contacted and screened to participate in the data collection. A cost and earnings survey will be scheduled and administered to eligible respondents as appropriate. Screener, scheduling and survey modes may include in-person, internet, phone, or mail. III. Data OMB Control Number: 0648–xxxx. Form Number(s): None. Type of Review: Regular submission (request for a new information collection). Affected Public: Business or other forprofit organizations. Estimated Number of Respondents: 100. Estimated Time per Response: 5 minutes for screener; 5 minutes to schedule survey for qualified and interested respondents; 60 minutes for the survey. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 95. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in recordkeeping/reporting costs. IV. Request for Comments Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 124 (Tuesday, June 28, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 41931-41933]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-15154]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE676


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted 
Fishing Permit

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing 
permit; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted 
fishing permit (EFP) from Puerto Rico's Department of Natural and 
Environmental Resources (PR DNER). If granted, the EFP would authorize 
the PR DNER to conduct two projects in waters of the Puerto Rico 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to collect fishery-independent data on 
the abundance, distribution, and reproductive condition of reef fish in 
eastern and western Puerto Rico. For the first project, the EFP would 
authorize the PR DNER to harvest reef fish by hook-and-line and bottom 
longline gear off both the west and east coasts of Puerto Rico. All 
reef fish, including undersized and seasonally prohibited reef fish 
species, would be retained, except for goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, 
and all species of parrotfish. The purpose of the EFP for the first 
project is to determine spatial and temporal variations in stock 
abundance of Caribbean reef fish resources off Puerto Rico.
    The second project in the EFP would authorize the PR DNER to 
collect various species of recreationally important reef fish by spear 
gun and hook-and-line fishing in Federal waters off the west coast of 
Puerto Rico. The purpose of the second project is to obtain information 
about the annual reproductive cycle and minimum size of sexual 
maturation of the collected reef fish species.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than July 28, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application by either of the 
following methods:
     Email: Maria.Lopez@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line 
of the email comment the following document identifier: ``PR DNER_EFP 
2016''.
     Mail: Maria del Mar Lopez, Southeast Regional Office, 
NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    The application and related documents are available for review upon 
written request to any of the above addresses.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria del Mar Lopez, telephone: 727-
824-5305, email: Maria.Lopez@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted 
fishing.
    The proposed collection for scientific research involves activities 
that would otherwise be prohibited by regulations at 50 CFR part 622, 
as they pertain to Caribbean reef fish managed by the Caribbean Fishery 
Management Council (Council). The EFP would exempt this research 
activity from Federal regulations at Sec.  622.435(a) (Seasonal and

[[Page 41932]]

area closures), Sec.  622.436 (Size limits), and Sec.  622.437 (Bag 
limits).
    This action involves activities covered by regulations implementing 
the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico 
and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The applicant requests authorization to 
collect reef fish species through two projects in the Federal waters 
off the east and west coasts of Puerto Rico. Specimens would be 
collected by commercial fishermen contracted through the PR DNER, by PR 
DNER research vessels, and by private vessels contracted by the PR 
DNER. The applicant has requested the EFP for both projects to be 
effective from the date of EFP issuance through May 31, 2018.
    The first project would continue the collection of information on 
reef fish abundance and distribution in Federal waters off eastern and 
western Puerto Rico as part of the ongoing Southeast Area Monitoring 
and Assessment Program-Caribbean (SEAMAP-C) Reef Fish Monitoring 
Project that has recently undergone survey protocol revisions. Research 
in Federal waters would consist of harvesting reef fish at 
approximately 20 stations in the EEZ off the west coast of Puerto Rico, 
west of 67[deg]00'00'' W. long., and approximately at 10 stations in 
the EEZ off the east coast of Puerto Rico, from the Fajardo coast to 
north of Culebra Island and east of Vieques Island. Stations and 
sampling dates for this first project would be randomly selected. 
Sampling would be conducted by (1) bottom longline fishing, (2) hook-
and-line gear, and (3) underwater cameras to identify and quantify reef 
fish species. The hook-and-line gear sampling would take place while 
EFP authorized vessels are both drifting and anchored. Species expected 
to be caught and landed for the EFP include federally managed 
schoolmaster, lane, vermilion, yellowtail, mutton, silk, and blackfin 
snappers; and red hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin, yellowedge, red, 
tiger, and black groupers. All reef fish, including undersized and 
seasonally prohibited species, would be retained, except for goliath 
grouper, Nassau grouper, and all species of parrotfish. The EFP for the 
first project would allow the following estimated amounts of these 
species groups to be harvested: A total of 240 lb (108 kg) of red hind 
grouper, a total of 100 lb (45 kg) of yellowfin, red, tiger, black 
(Grouper Unit 4) and yellowedge (Part of Grouper Unit 5) groupers, a 
total of 100 lb (45 kg) of silk, black, blackfin, and vermilion 
snappers (Snapper Unit 1), and a total of 600 lb (272 kg) of mutton, 
lane, gray, and schoolmaster snappers (Snapper Unit 3). Harvest of 
these reef fish species may occur during their respective spawning 
seasonal closure periods as described at 50 CFR 622.435. The EFP would 
allow the harvest of 500 lb (227 kg) of yellowtail snapper, which may 
include fish under the legal minimum size of 12 in (30.5 cm), total 
length. Fish collected in the first project would also provide some of 
the samples to be used in the second project that is part of this EFP 
request.
    The bottom longline fishing component of the first project would 
occur at randomly selected stations at 0-10, 11-20, and 21-50 fathoms. 
There would be approximately 20 stations in the EEZ off the west coast 
and approximately 10 stations in the EEZ off the east coast of Puerto 
Rico. The sampling stations and dates of sampling would be randomly 
selected by the PR DNER and may also vary according to weather and 
sampling logistics. Sampling may occur during closed seasons in Federal 
waters or in areas closed to certain fishing activities. Sampling in 
the first project would occur between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 
p.m., local time. The bottom longline would be anchored at each end, 
with surface buoys attached to allow retrieval and identification. 
Circle hooks would be used for the bottom longline gear and the gear 
would soak for 45 minutes for each sample, after which it would be 
retrieved and the reef fish collected. The bottom longline would be set 
to minimize any impacts to bottom habitat by avoiding coral reefs and 
by fastening small buoys at intervals between hooks to ensure the line 
remains suspended above the bottom to avoid entanglement. For each 
bottom longline trip, the following data would be recorded: Date; time 
of first and last hook deployment and recovery; station code; latitude 
and longitude; fishing time to the nearest minute; weather conditions; 
depth; total number of hooked fished per vessel; number, weight, 
length, reproductive condition, and species level identification of 
fish by individual longline set; and substrate and/or habitat type.
    The hook-and-line sampling for the first project would take place 
while project vessels are both drifting and an anchored. For each hook-
and-line samples, sample locations will be selected based on depth and 
habitat criteria for both the west and east coasts of Puerto Rico. 
Hook-and-line gear stations would occur at 0-10, 11-20, and 21-50 
fathoms. Each sampling area would be sampled twice during the period of 
the EFP and there would be approximately 20 stations in the Federal 
waters off the west coast and 10 stations in the Federal waters off the 
east coast of Puerto Rico. Sampling station and date of sample would be 
randomly selected and may also vary according to weather and sampling 
logistics. The hook-and-line gear sampling for the first project would 
consist of 2 hours drifting and 2 hours anchored. The hook-and-line 
sampling to occur while anchored would be conducted for 30 minutes at 4 
different sampling stations. The hook-and-line fishing while the 
vessels are drifting would be conducted in 15-minute intervals near the 
anchor sampling stations for up to a total of 2 hours per sampling 
site. For each hook-and-line trip, the following data would be 
recorded: Date, time of EFP vessel trips; station location (latitude 
and longitude); fishing time for hook-and-line gear to the nearest 15 
minutes; weather conditions; depth; total number of hooked fished per 
vessel; number, weight, length, reproductive condition, and 
identification of reef fish per hook-and-line; and stratified habitat 
type or substrate type.
    As part of the first project, a camera survey would be also be used 
to develop a procedure that would allow for reef fish species 
identification, counts, and size measurements. There would be a total 
of approximately 60 camera sampling trips to cover the randomly pre-
selected stations for the east and west coasts of Puerto Rico. The 
camera array would be deployed for 60 minutes at sites near those of 
the bottom longline fishing sites.
    The second project requested as part of this EFP would employ 
histological methods to describe the annual reproductive cycle and 
minimum size at maturity of mutton snapper, red hind, coney, white 
grunt, tomtate, and pluma porgy in waters off the west coast of Puerto 
Rico. Gonads would be collected from these species and preserved for 
histological analysis of species by the PR DNER. Information obtained 
as part of this study would potentially allow for determination of sex, 
reproductive stage, spawning season, and size of maturity of the 
collected reef fish species. Sampling for this second project would 
consist of approximately 10 trips in the Federal waters off the west 
coast of Puerto Rico. Twice per month, PR DNER contracted fishers would 
use hook-and-line gear and spear guns to collect a minimum of 25 
samples per trip of each of the second project's reef fish species, 
covering a wide size range of these species. Fishing would be conducted 
for 6-10 hours on a sampling day. Fish samples would be collected 
mainly by contracted fishermen. Any other species incidentally caught 
by hook-and-line fishers would be released, including

[[Page 41933]]

Nassau and goliath groupers, and all species of parrotfish.
    For this second project, the EFP would allow the collection of a 
total of 150 lb (68 kg) of red hind during their closed spawning season 
of December 1 through the last day of February in Caribbean EEZ waters 
west of 67[deg]10'00'' W. long.; and the collection of a total of 150 
lb (68 kg) of mutton snapper, which may occur during its seasonal 
closure, which runs from April 1 through June 30 in the Caribbean EEZ. 
After being harvested and sampled, all reef fish that were collected 
would be donated to a local zoo.
    The NMFS New Procedures and Actions for Incidental Takes of Marine 
Mammals in Research and Monitoring Activities policy, approved in 2015, 
would be followed in the event of any incidental captures of marine 
mammals. Anchoring in Federal waters to conduct fishing activities 
would occur up to a maximum of 10 times in areas that do not affect 
corals. Anchoring and fishing activities would not take place in the 
spawning aggregation managed areas of Bajo de Sico, Tourmaline, or 
Abrir La Sierra, west of Puerto Rico.
    For both projects of the EFP, samples would be collected aboard 
research vessels owned by PR DNER and aboard private vessels contracted 
by the PR DNER. These vessels will be operated by PR DNER personnel or 
commercial fishermen and/or boat operators under contract with PR DNER. 
Each research vessel's home port is located in Puerto Rico.
    NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration, based 
on a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on 
this permit, if it is indeed granted, include but are not limited to, a 
prohibition on conducting research within marine protected areas, 
marine sanctuaries, or special management zones, without additional 
authorization. Additionally, NMFS would require any sea turtles taken 
incidentally during the course of fishing or scientific research 
activities to be handled with due care to prevent injury to live 
specimens, observed for activity, and returned to the water. A final 
decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS' review of public 
comments received on the application, consultations with the affected 
state(s), the Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination 
that it is consistent with all applicable laws.

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

    Dated: June 22, 2016.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-15154 Filed 6-27-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P