Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2016, 51374-51379 [2016-18485]

Download as PDF 51374 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply On December 29, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry in all NMFS rules subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act after July 1, 2016. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and prior to July 1, 2016, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis was developed for this regulatory action using SBA’s former size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this regulatory action in light of the new size standard. All of the entities directly regulated by this regulatory action are commercial finfish fishing businesses. The new standard could result in 13 fewer commercial finfish businesses being considered small. Taking this change into consideration, NMFS has identified no additional significant alternatives that accomplish statutory objectives and minimize any significant economic impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. Other options considered by the Council, including those that could have less of an impact on small entities, fail to meet one or more of these statutory objectives and therefore cannot be implemented. Further, the new size standard does not affect the decision to prepare a FRFA as opposed to a certification for this regulatory action ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements No additional reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are included in this final rule. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes Specification of commercial quota, recreational harvest levels, and possession limits is constrained by the conservation objectives and derivation formula set forth in the FMP and implemented at 50 CFR part 648 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Furthermore, specifications must be based on the best available scientific information, consistent with National Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. With the specification options considered, the measures in this final rule are the only measures that both satisfy these overarching regulatory and statutory requirements while minimizing, to the extent possible, impacts on small entities. This rule implements the specifications outlined in Table 1. The impacts of the specifications, as implemented by this final rule, are not expected to disproportionately impact large or small entities. Small Entity Compliance Guide Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide will be sent to all holders of Federal permits issued for the Atlantic bluefish fishery. In addition, copies of this final rule and guide (i.e., permit holder letter) are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and at the following Web site: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: July 29, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–18424 Filed 8–1–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–C PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 160301167–6658–02] RIN 0648–BF89 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2016 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS is implementing management measures for the 2016 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries, changes to the commercial scup incidental possession limit, and two minor corrections to the summer flounder commercial fishery minimum mesh size regulations. The implementing regulations for these fisheries require NMFS to publish recreational measures for the fishing year. The intent of these measures is to constrain recreational catch to established limits and prevent overfishing of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass resources, to reduce unnecessary commercial discards by allowing more incidentally caught scup to be retained by vessels, and to correct inaccuracies within the summer flounder mesh regulations. DATES: Effective August 4, 2016. ADDRESSES: Copies of the Supplemental Information Report (SIR) and other supporting documents for the recreational harvest measures are available from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The recreational harvest measures document is also accessible via the Internet at: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Scheimer, Fisheries Management Specialist, (978) 281–9236. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: General Background The summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, in consultation with the New England and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. States manage these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under the Commission’s plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The applicable species-specific Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a Federal summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish. A proposed rule to implement the 2016 Federal recreational management measures (minimum fish size, season, and possession limit) for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries, scup commercial possession limit change, and summer flounder mesh requirement clarifications was published in the Federal Register on May 23, 2016 (81 FR 32269), with a 15day comment period that ended on June 7, 2016. Comments received on the proposed rule are summarized and 51375 responded to in the Comments and Responses section found later in this rule. Additional background and information on the process to develop the measures described is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule and is not repeated here. 2016 Recreational Management Measures NMFS is implementing the following measures that would apply in the Federal waters of the EEZ: TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF 2016 SUMMER FLOUNDER, SCUP, AND BLACK SEA BASS FEDERAL RECREATIONAL MANAGEMENT MEASURES Per-angler possession limit Minimum size Summer Flounder, through December 31, 2016 ................ Summer Flounder, beginning January 1, 2017 ................... Scup ..................................................................................... Black Sea Bass ................................................................... These measures apply to all federally permitted party/charter vessels with applicable summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass permits, regardless of where they fish, unless the state in which they land implements measures that are more restrictive. These measures are intended to achieve, but not exceed, the previously-established recreational harvest limits for these fisheries. See 80 FR 80689, published December 28, 2015, for background information on 2016 harvest limits. Additional detail on the measures for each species is provided below. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Summer Flounder Recreational Management Measures NMFS is implementing conservation equivalency to manage the 2016 summer flounder recreational fishery, as recommended by the Council and Commission. The 2016 recreational harvest limit for summer flounder is 5.42 million lb (2,214 mt) and final landings for 2015, as estimated by the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), were 4.88 million lb (2,096 mt). Maintaining the 2015 management measures is expected to effectively constrain 2016 summer flounder recreational landings and prevent the recreational harvest limit from being exceeded. Conservation equivalency, as established by Framework Adjustment 2 VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Conservation equivalency—specific management measures determined by state of landing (see Table 2) 18 inches (45.7 cm) ......... 9 inches (22.9 cm) ........... 12.5 inches (31.8 cm) ...... 4 fish ................................ 50 fish .............................. 15 fish .............................. (July 29, 2001; 66 FR 36208), allows each state to establish its own recreational management measures (perangler possession limits, minimum fish size, and fishing seasons) to achieve its state harvest limit partitioned by the Commission from the coastwide recreational harvest limit, as long as the combined effect of all of the states’ management measures achieves the same level of conservation as would Federal coastwide measures. Framework Adjustment 6 (July 26, 2006; 71 FR 42315) allowed states to form regions for conservation equivalency in order to minimize regulation differences for anglers fishing in adjacent waters. The Commission implemented Addendum XXVII to its Summer Flounder FMP to continue regional conservation equivalency for fishing year 2016. The Commission has adopted the following mix of stand-alone state and regions for summer flounder measures: (1) Massachusetts; (2) Rhode Island; (3) Connecticut and New York; (4) New Jersey; (4) Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia; and (5) North Carolina. In order to provide the maximum amount of flexibility and to continue to adequately address the state-by-state differences in fish availability, each state in a region is required by the Council and Commission to establish fishing seasons of the same length, with identical minimum fish sizes and PO 00000 Season Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 May 1–September 30. January 1–December 31. May 15–September 21, October 22–December 31. possession limits. The Commission certified, by letter dated June 7, 2016, that the Addendum XXVII measures implemented by individual states and regions, when combined, are the conservation equivalent of coastwide measures that would be expected to result in the recreational harvest limit being achieved, but not exceeded. More information on this addendum is available from the Commission (www.asmfc.org). Based on the recommendation of the Commission, we find that the recreational summer flounder fishing measures implemented for 2016 in state waters are, collectively, the conservation equivalent of the season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in §§ 648.104(b), 648.105, and 648.106(a). According to § 648.107(a)(1), vessels subject to the recreational fishing measures are not subject to Federal measures, and instead are subject to the recreational fishing measures implemented by the state in which they land. Section 648.107(a) is amended through this rule to recognize state-implemented measures as conservation equivalent of the coastwide recreational management measures for 2016. The 2016 summer flounder management measures adopted by the individual states vary according to the state of landing, as specified in Table 2. E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1 51376 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 2—2016 COMMISSION-APPROVED CONSERVATION EQUIVALENT RECREATIONAL MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR SUMMER FLOUNDER Minimum size (inches) State Massachusetts ........................................................................................ Rhode Island ........................................................................................... Connecticut ............................................................................................. CT shore program (46 designed shore sites) ........................................ New York ................................................................................................ New Jersey: Coastal waters, east of Cape May COLREGS ............................... 1 shore program site ....................................................................... Delaware Bay, west of Cape May COLREGS ................................ Delaware ................................................................................................. Maryland ................................................................................................. PRFC ...................................................................................................... Virginia .................................................................................................... North Carolina ......................................................................................... In addition, this action maintains the current default coastwide measures (an 18-inch (45.7-cm) minimum size, 4-fish possession limit, and May 1–September 30 open fishing season), that become effective January 1, 2017, when the 2016 conservation equivalency program expires. These measures will remain effective until replaced by the 2017 recreational management measures in the spring of next year. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Scup Recreational Management Measures This rule maintains status quo scup measures for the 2016 fishery: A 9-inch (22.9-cm) minimum fish size, 50-fish per person possession limit, and yearround season. The 2016 scup recreational harvest limit is 6.09 million lb (2,763 mt) and 2015 recreational landings were 5.11 million lb (2,318 mt). Based on this, no changes in measures are needed to ensure the 2016 recreational harvest limit is not exceeded, and further liberalization of the management measures was not requested by the Council or Commission. Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures This rule implements a 12.5-inch (31.8-cm) minimum size, 15-fish possession limit, and open seasons of May 15–September 21 and October 22– December 31 in Federal waters. The states of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina have also adopted these measures for state waters. New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have adopted different, more restrictive measures for their state waters, as required by the Commission’s Addendum XXVII to the FMP. The Commission certified, by letter dated June 7, 2016, that the northern states (Massachusetts to New VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Possession limit 16 18 18 16 18 5 fish .................. 8 fish .................. 5 fish .................. May 22–September 23. May 1–December 31. May 17–September 21. 5 fish .................. May 17–September 21. 18 16 17 16 16 16 16 15 5 2 4 4 4 4 4 6 May 21–September 25. May 21–September 25. May 21–September 25. January 1–December 31. January 1–December 31. January 1–December 31. January 1–December 31. January 1–December 31. fish fish fish fish fish fish fish fish Jersey) have implemented measures consistent with Addendum XXVII. The Council and the Commission made use of the preliminary MRIP estimates when developing 2016 management measures. It was, at the time of the development process, the best available information. In some years, the final MRIP estimates that are typically available in April have been slightly different than the preliminary year-end estimates available in February. The final 2015 MRIP estimates, delayed until June 13, 2016, are substantially different than the preliminary information used by the Council and Commission. The 2015 landings estimate increased from 3.62 (1,642 mt) to 3.97 million lb (1,801 mt)—a 350,000-lb (159-mt) increase. This would necessitate a 30.2-percent reduction from 2015 landings to constrain 2016 catch to the 2.82 million lb (1,279 mt) recreational harvest limit. The preliminary information used by the Council and Commission indicated a 22.1-percent reduction in landings was necessary. The majority of black sea bass are caught inside state waters from New Jersey north. The Council and Commission recommend maintaining the 2015 management measures (12.5inch (31.8-cm) minimum fish size, 15fish possession limit with an open season of May 15–September 21 and October 22–December 31) in Federal waters and for state waters in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Because catch from Federal waters and state waters from Delaware to North Carolina is generally less than 8 percent of the total catch, recreational measures must necessarily focus on state waters from New Jersey north. The Council and Commission’s recommendations were contingent on the northern states (New Jersey north) implementing at least a 23- PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Open season Sfmt 4700 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. percent reduction to their state waters measures through a Commission Addendum. This approach also used the accountability measure methods developed for 2015. The accountability measure has been triggered again for 2016; however, because the previously developed and implemented approach (i.e., maintaining Federal measures and applying them in states from Delaware south while states from New Jersey north reduce landings to constrain catch) is being maintained, no additional measures are required for 2016. The Council recommended a backup coastwide measure of a 14-inch (35.56cm) minimum fish size and a 3-fish possession limit with an open season of July 15–September 15 to be implemented in Federal waters and for southern states only if the northern states did not comply with the landingsreduction requirements of the Commission’s Addendum. NMFS received a letter from the Commission on June 7, 2016, before the final MRIP estimates were available, stating that the northern states had developed and implemented black sea bass measures designed to achieve the required 23percent reduction in 2016 recreational landings. In response to the unexpected change in the final MRIP estimates for black sea bass, the Commission’s Black Sea Bass Management Board held an emergency teleconference on July 6, 2016, to discuss the new MRIP estimates and to consider additional management action. In the discussion, Board members spoke about challenges in making any additional changes. They cited administrative burdens and timing complications of both receiving new information so late in the fishing year and difficulties implementing regulatory changes quickly mid-season. Many E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations reiterated that the backup coastwide measures were intended to ensure states complied with the addendum requirements and were never envisioned for implementation under any other scenario. That is, backup measures were only designed as an incentive to ensure state compliance and would only be used in the event that states failed to implement the addendum-required measures. Some cited the potential for additional angler and public disillusionment if additional reductions were implemented mid-year. Others stated that it is possible, given the upcoming stock assessment, that catches may be increased next or, at a minimum, any regulatory changes could be developed next year in response to 2016 catch and whatever information results from the assessment. Ultimately, the Board elected not to take any action at this time. The existing measures adopted under Addendum XXVII, when evaluated with the final 2015 MRIP estimates indicates that landings reductions may be in the 24- to 25percent range as the new data changed the effective reductions on a state-bystate basis. Some state measures are now more restrictive than previously believed, others are now more liberal. NMFS is implementing the Council recommended original suite of measures, for the following reasons: 1. The Council and Commission developed appropriate measures on what was considered the best available information at the time of their decisionmaking processes. The backup coastwide provisions (i.e., a 14-inch (35.56-cm) minimum fish size and a 3fish possession limit with an open season of July 15-September 15) developed by the Council as a backstop provision was designed for use only if northern states did not develop measures to achieve the required 23percent reduction in landings based on the preliminary MRIP information. Acting in good faith, the northern states did comply with the provisions of Addendum XXVII to the Commission’s FMP. Using the coastwide provisions would disproportionally affect the southern states that adopt Federal measures for their state waters while doing little, if anything, to constrain overall catch. The actual reduction in landings from using the backstop would not achieve a 30-percent reduction in 2016 landings. 2. The final MRIP data were released substantially later than is normal and were considerably different than the preliminary estimates. It could not be foreseen that final information would increase 2015 landing estimates by nearly 10 percent, nor could it be VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 anticipated that final estimates would be available much later than normal. Final MRIP estimates for black sea bass, usually released in mid-April, generally vary 1–2 percent from the preliminary estimates and in many years have been lower than preliminary estimates, not higher. 3. The 2016 recreational black sea bass fishery is well underway. Even acting quickly, several states indicated during the July 6 Board teleconference that they would be unable to implement regulatory changes before the end of summer. For many states, the fishery is effectively over by mid-September. Similarly, it is unlikely that an emergency action by NMFS could be implemented much more quickly. Federal measures alone would be insufficient to effectively reduce landings because the majority of catch occurs in northern state’s waters. 4. A comprehensive stock assessment is scheduled for December 2016. Work has already begun on this assessment. NMFS is prepared to work quickly with the Council and Commission to react to new stock information as soon as it becomes available in early 2017. 5. Further delay to implement management measures would affect not only black sea bass management, but also scup and summer flounder. The latter species, summer flounder, currently lacks the conservation equivalency determination for Federal waters until a final rule is published in the Federal Register. This would create inconsistent measures in Federal and state waters, confusion for the public, and could lead to enforcement problems. Commercial Scup Incidental Possession Limit Change This rule increases the incidental winter season (November 1–April 30) scup commercial possession limit for vessels using mesh smaller than 5.0 inches (12.7 cm) from 500 lb (227 kg) to 1,000 lb (454 kg). This change is expected to allow vessels using small mesh that take scup incidental to other target species to convert some scup that would otherwise be discarded to landings. Vessels using mesh larger than 5 inches (12.7 cm) may continue to land up to the targeted commercial fishery possession limit according to the applicable Federal and state rules. Additional Regulatory Changes This rule also corrects two errors in the commercial summer flounder regulations. The summer flounder minimum mesh size regulations at § 648.108(a)(1) require that any vessel landing or possessing more than 100 lb PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 51377 (45 kg) of summer flounder from May 1 through October 31, or 200 lb (91 kg) of summer flounder from November 1 through April 30, use at least 5.5-inch (14-cm) diamond or 6.0-inch (15-cm) square mesh ‘‘throughout the body, extension(s), and codend portion of the net.’’ However, the turtle excluding device (TED) regulations require summer flounder trawls fishing in the sea turtle protection area to have a TED extension with webbing no larger than 3.5 inches (9 cm). This rule eliminates the conflict between these two regulations by specifying that the minimum mesh size restrictions do not apply to extensions needed to comply with the TED regulations. This rule also corrects an erroneous reference to the Regional Administrator’s authority to terminate the fly net exemption after review. This authority has been incorrectly listed at § 648.108(b)(3) and is corrected in this rule to reference § 648.108(b)(2)(iv). Comments and Responses Three comments were received on measures outlined in the May 23, 2016 (81 FR 32269), proposed rule. Two comments received supported the scup incidental trip limit increase contained in this rule. Both noted this change will assist fishermen in reducing regulatory discards in small-mesh fisheries during the November to April timeframe. NMFS agrees and is implementing this change as proposed. The other comment received raised no issues with any of the proposed measures. Rather, the individual wanted more information in the final rule about what outreach and/or inclusion of commercial and recreational fishermen’s input occurred during the development of the measures in this rule. As outlined in the SIR prepared by the Council, the public had the opportunity to provide comments during the development of the 2016 catch limits, the 2016 recreational management measures, and the scup incidental trawl possession limits. Opportunities for public participation, including recreational and commercial fishermen, occurred as part the following meetings: • Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee Meetings; September 23, 2015, and November 7–10, 2015; • Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel Meetings; October 22, 2015, and November 17, 2015; • Council meeting; December 8–10, 2015. E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1 51378 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Furthermore, the measures of this rule have been subject to public comment through proposed rulemaking, as required under the Administrative Procedure Act. Classification The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that the 2016 recreational management measures and other specification measures of this rule for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP are necessary for the conservation and management of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries and that the measures are consistent with the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the requirement for a 30-day delay in effectiveness under the provisions of section 553(d) of the Administrative Procedure Act because a delay in its effectiveness would not serve any legitimate purpose, while unfairly prejudicing federally permitted charter/party vessels. Recreational fisheries are already underway for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. Rulemaking has been delayed while final information from the MRIP program, provided many weeks later than is typical, has been evaluated. The Commission’s Black Sea Bass Management Board met on July 6, 2016, to discuss the updated MRIP estimates. NMFS could not issue a final rule for black sea bass measures until the outcome of this meeting was known. Because summer flounder fisheries are already open prior to the publication of this rule, additional delay will disadvantage federally permitted charter/party vessels that would be restricted to the existing summer flounder coastwide regulations (18-inch (45.7-cm) minimum size and a 4-fish per person possession limit) until the Federal regulations implementing conservation equivalency are effective. This would unnecessarily disadvantage federally permitted vessels, which would be subject to the more restrictive measures while state-licensed vessels could be engaged in fishing activities under this year’s management measures. If this final rule were delayed for 30 days, the fishery would likely forego some amount of landings and revenues during the delay period. While these restrictions would be alleviated after this rule becomes effective, fishermen may be not able to recoup the lost economic opportunity of foregone trips that would result from delaying the effectiveness of this action. VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 Finally, requiring a 30-day delay before the final rule becomes effective would not provide any benefit to the regulated parties. Unlike actions that require an adjustment period to comply with new rules, charter/party operators will not have to purchase new equipment or otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management measures. Rather, complying with this final rule simply means adhering to the published management measures for each relevant species of fish while the charter/party operators are engaged in fishing activities. For these reasons, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay and to implement this rule upon publication in the Federal Register. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. On December 29, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA after July 1, 2016. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and prior to July 1, 2016, a certification was developed for this regulatory action using SBA’s former size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this regulatory action in light of the new size standard. All of the entities directly regulated by this regulatory action are commercial finfish fishing businesses. The new standard could result in fewer commercial finfish businesses being considered small. However, NMFS has determined that the new size standard does not affect its decision to certify this regulatory action. The action results in essentially status quo measures for all three fisheries and would have a minimal, potentially slightly positive, impact on all regulated entities regardless of size. PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: July 29, 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 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.107, paragraph (a) introductory text is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.107 Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder fishery. (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational fishing measures proposed to be implemented by the states of Maine through North Carolina for 2016 are the conservation equivalent of the season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in §§ 648.102, 648.103, and 648.105(a), respectively. This determination is based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.108, paragraph (a)(1) is revised and paragraph (b)(3) is redesignated as paragraph (b)(2)(iv). The revision reads as follows: § 648.108 Summer flounder gear restrictions. (a) General. (1) Otter trawlers whose owners are issued a summer flounder permit and that land or possess 100 lb (45.4 kg) or more of summer flounder from May 1 through October 31, or 200 lb (90.7 kg) or more of summer flounder from November 1 through April 30, per trip, must fish with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 5.5-inch (14.0cm) diamond or 6.0-inch (15.2-cm) square mesh applied throughout the body, extension(s), and codend portion of the net, except as required in a TED extension, in accordance with § 223.206(d)(2)(iii) of this title. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 648.125, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows: § 648.125 Scup gear restrictions. (a) Trawl vessel gear restrictions—(1) Minimum mesh size. No owner or operator of an otter trawl vessel that is E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 150 / Thursday, August 4, 2016 / Rules and Regulations issued a scup moratorium permit may possess more than 1,000 lb (454 kg) of scup from November 1 through April 30, or more than 200 lb (91 kg) of scup from May 1 through October 31, unless fishing with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 5.0-inch (12.7-cm) diamond mesh, applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, and all other nets are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–18485 Filed 8–1–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150818742–6210–02] RIN 0648–XE708 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Dusky Rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 total allowable catch of dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 1, 2016, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) of dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA is 173 metric tons (mt) as established by the ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 13:37 Aug 03, 2016 Jkt 238001 final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (81 FR 14740, March 18, 2016). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2016 TAC of dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 100 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 73 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the closure of directed fishing for dusky rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of July 29, 2016. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 1, 2016. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–18524 Filed 8–1–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 51379 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150818742–6210–02] RIN 0648–XE706 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 total allowable catch of Pacific ocean perch in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. SUMMARY: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 1, 2016, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific ocean perch in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA is 2,737 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (81 FR 14740, March 18, 2016). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2016 TAC of Pacific ocean perch in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 2,637 mt, and is setting aside 100 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the DATES: E:\FR\FM\04AUR1.SGM 04AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 150 (Thursday, August 4, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51374-51379]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-18485]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 160301167-6658-02]
RIN 0648-BF89


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational 
Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
Fisheries; Fishing Year 2016

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS is implementing management measures for the 2016 summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries, changes to 
the commercial scup incidental possession limit, and two minor 
corrections to the summer flounder commercial fishery minimum mesh size 
regulations. The implementing regulations for these fisheries require 
NMFS to publish recreational measures for the fishing year. The intent 
of these measures is to constrain recreational catch to established 
limits and prevent overfishing of the summer flounder, scup, and black 
sea bass resources, to reduce unnecessary commercial discards by 
allowing more incidentally caught scup to be retained by vessels, and 
to correct inaccuracies within the summer flounder mesh regulations.

DATES: Effective August 4, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Supplemental Information Report (SIR) and 
other supporting documents for the recreational harvest measures are 
available from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-
Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, 
Dover, DE 19901. The recreational harvest measures document is also 
accessible via the Internet at: http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Scheimer, Fisheries 
Management Specialist, (978) 281-9236.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

General Background

    The summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are managed 
cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and 
Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-
Atlantic

[[Page 51375]]

Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission, in consultation with the New England and South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Councils. States manage these three species within 3 
nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under the Commission's plan 
for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The applicable species-
specific Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen 
fishing in Federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well 
as vessels possessing a Federal summer flounder, scup, or black sea 
bass charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish.
    A proposed rule to implement the 2016 Federal recreational 
management measures (minimum fish size, season, and possession limit) 
for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries, scup 
commercial possession limit change, and summer flounder mesh 
requirement clarifications was published in the Federal Register on May 
23, 2016 (81 FR 32269), with a 15-day comment period that ended on June 
7, 2016. Comments received on the proposed rule are summarized and 
responded to in the Comments and Responses section found later in this 
rule. Additional background and information on the process to develop 
the measures described is provided in the preamble to the proposed rule 
and is not repeated here.

2016 Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is implementing the following measures that would apply in the 
Federal waters of the EEZ:

   Table 1--Summary of 2016 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Federal Recreational Management Measures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 Per-angler  possession
                                             Minimum size                limit                    Season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Summer Flounder, through December 31,     Conservation equivalency--specific management measures determined by
 2016.                                                       state of landing (see Table 2)
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Summer Flounder, beginning January 1,  18 inches (45.7 cm)....  4 fish.................  May 1-September 30.
 2017.
Scup.................................  9 inches (22.9 cm).....  50 fish................  January 1-December 31.
Black Sea Bass.......................  12.5 inches (31.8 cm)..  15 fish................  May 15-September 21,
                                                                                          October 22-December
                                                                                          31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These measures apply to all federally permitted party/charter 
vessels with applicable summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass 
permits, regardless of where they fish, unless the state in which they 
land implements measures that are more restrictive. These measures are 
intended to achieve, but not exceed, the previously-established 
recreational harvest limits for these fisheries. See 80 FR 80689, 
published December 28, 2015, for background information on 2016 harvest 
limits. Additional detail on the measures for each species is provided 
below.

Summer Flounder Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is implementing conservation equivalency to manage the 2016 
summer flounder recreational fishery, as recommended by the Council and 
Commission. The 2016 recreational harvest limit for summer flounder is 
5.42 million lb (2,214 mt) and final landings for 2015, as estimated by 
the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), were 4.88 million 
lb (2,096 mt). Maintaining the 2015 management measures is expected to 
effectively constrain 2016 summer flounder recreational landings and 
prevent the recreational harvest limit from being exceeded.
    Conservation equivalency, as established by Framework Adjustment 2 
(July 29, 2001; 66 FR 36208), allows each state to establish its own 
recreational management measures (per-angler possession limits, minimum 
fish size, and fishing seasons) to achieve its state harvest limit 
partitioned by the Commission from the coastwide recreational harvest 
limit, as long as the combined effect of all of the states' management 
measures achieves the same level of conservation as would Federal 
coastwide measures. Framework Adjustment 6 (July 26, 2006; 71 FR 42315) 
allowed states to form regions for conservation equivalency in order to 
minimize regulation differences for anglers fishing in adjacent waters.
    The Commission implemented Addendum XXVII to its Summer Flounder 
FMP to continue regional conservation equivalency for fishing year 
2016. The Commission has adopted the following mix of stand-alone state 
and regions for summer flounder measures: (1) Massachusetts; (2) Rhode 
Island; (3) Connecticut and New York; (4) New Jersey; (4) Delaware, 
Maryland, and Virginia; and (5) North Carolina. In order to provide the 
maximum amount of flexibility and to continue to adequately address the 
state-by-state differences in fish availability, each state in a region 
is required by the Council and Commission to establish fishing seasons 
of the same length, with identical minimum fish sizes and possession 
limits. The Commission certified, by letter dated June 7, 2016, that 
the Addendum XXVII measures implemented by individual states and 
regions, when combined, are the conservation equivalent of coastwide 
measures that would be expected to result in the recreational harvest 
limit being achieved, but not exceeded. More information on this 
addendum is available from the Commission (www.asmfc.org).
    Based on the recommendation of the Commission, we find that the 
recreational summer flounder fishing measures implemented for 2016 in 
state waters are, collectively, the conservation equivalent of the 
season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  
648.104(b), 648.105, and 648.106(a). According to Sec.  648.107(a)(1), 
vessels subject to the recreational fishing measures are not subject to 
Federal measures, and instead are subject to the recreational fishing 
measures implemented by the state in which they land. Section 
648.107(a) is amended through this rule to recognize state-implemented 
measures as conservation equivalent of the coastwide recreational 
management measures for 2016. The 2016 summer flounder management 
measures adopted by the individual states vary according to the state 
of landing, as specified in Table 2.

[[Page 51376]]



 Table 2--2016 Commission-Approved Conservation Equivalent Recreational Management Measures for Summer Flounder
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Minimum size
                  State                      (inches)          Possession limit               Open season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Massachusetts...........................              16  5 fish....................  May 22-September 23.
Rhode Island............................              18  8 fish....................  May 1-December 31.
Connecticut.............................              18  5 fish....................  May 17-September 21.
CT shore program (46 designed shore                   16                              ..........................
 sites).
New York................................              18  5 fish....................  May 17-September 21.
New Jersey:
    Coastal waters, east of Cape May                  18  5 fish....................  May 21-September 25.
     COLREGS.
    1 shore program site................              16  2 fish....................  May 21-September 25.
    Delaware Bay, west of Cape May                    17  4 fish....................  May 21-September 25.
     COLREGS.
Delaware................................              16  4 fish....................  January 1-December 31.
Maryland................................              16  4 fish....................  January 1-December 31.
PRFC....................................              16  4 fish....................  January 1-December 31.
Virginia................................              16  4 fish....................  January 1-December 31.
North Carolina..........................              15  6 fish....................  January 1-December 31.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, this action maintains the current default coastwide 
measures (an 18-inch (45.7-cm) minimum size, 4-fish possession limit, 
and May 1-September 30 open fishing season), that become effective 
January 1, 2017, when the 2016 conservation equivalency program 
expires. These measures will remain effective until replaced by the 
2017 recreational management measures in the spring of next year.

Scup Recreational Management Measures

    This rule maintains status quo scup measures for the 2016 fishery: 
A 9-inch (22.9-cm) minimum fish size, 50-fish per person possession 
limit, and year-round season. The 2016 scup recreational harvest limit 
is 6.09 million lb (2,763 mt) and 2015 recreational landings were 5.11 
million lb (2,318 mt). Based on this, no changes in measures are needed 
to ensure the 2016 recreational harvest limit is not exceeded, and 
further liberalization of the management measures was not requested by 
the Council or Commission.

Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures

    This rule implements a 12.5-inch (31.8-cm) minimum size, 15-fish 
possession limit, and open seasons of May 15-September 21 and October 
22-December 31 in Federal waters. The states of Maryland, Delaware, 
Virginia and North Carolina have also adopted these measures for state 
waters. New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and 
Massachusetts have adopted different, more restrictive measures for 
their state waters, as required by the Commission's Addendum XXVII to 
the FMP. The Commission certified, by letter dated June 7, 2016, that 
the northern states (Massachusetts to New Jersey) have implemented 
measures consistent with Addendum XXVII.
    The Council and the Commission made use of the preliminary MRIP 
estimates when developing 2016 management measures. It was, at the time 
of the development process, the best available information. In some 
years, the final MRIP estimates that are typically available in April 
have been slightly different than the preliminary year-end estimates 
available in February. The final 2015 MRIP estimates, delayed until 
June 13, 2016, are substantially different than the preliminary 
information used by the Council and Commission. The 2015 landings 
estimate increased from 3.62 (1,642 mt) to 3.97 million lb (1,801 mt)--
a 350,000-lb (159-mt) increase. This would necessitate a 30.2-percent 
reduction from 2015 landings to constrain 2016 catch to the 2.82 
million lb (1,279 mt) recreational harvest limit. The preliminary 
information used by the Council and Commission indicated a 22.1-percent 
reduction in landings was necessary.
    The majority of black sea bass are caught inside state waters from 
New Jersey north. The Council and Commission recommend maintaining the 
2015 management measures (12.5-inch (31.8-cm) minimum fish size, 15-
fish possession limit with an open season of May 15-September 21 and 
October 22-December 31) in Federal waters and for state waters in 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Because catch from 
Federal waters and state waters from Delaware to North Carolina is 
generally less than 8 percent of the total catch, recreational measures 
must necessarily focus on state waters from New Jersey north. The 
Council and Commission's recommendations were contingent on the 
northern states (New Jersey north) implementing at least a 23-percent 
reduction to their state waters measures through a Commission Addendum. 
This approach also used the accountability measure methods developed 
for 2015. The accountability measure has been triggered again for 2016; 
however, because the previously developed and implemented approach 
(i.e., maintaining Federal measures and applying them in states from 
Delaware south while states from New Jersey north reduce landings to 
constrain catch) is being maintained, no additional measures are 
required for 2016.
    The Council recommended a backup coastwide measure of a 14-inch 
(35.56-cm) minimum fish size and a 3-fish possession limit with an open 
season of July 15-September 15 to be implemented in Federal waters and 
for southern states only if the northern states did not comply with the 
landings-reduction requirements of the Commission's Addendum. NMFS 
received a letter from the Commission on June 7, 2016, before the final 
MRIP estimates were available, stating that the northern states had 
developed and implemented black sea bass measures designed to achieve 
the required 23-percent reduction in 2016 recreational landings.
    In response to the unexpected change in the final MRIP estimates 
for black sea bass, the Commission's Black Sea Bass Management Board 
held an emergency teleconference on July 6, 2016, to discuss the new 
MRIP estimates and to consider additional management action. In the 
discussion, Board members spoke about challenges in making any 
additional changes. They cited administrative burdens and timing 
complications of both receiving new information so late in the fishing 
year and difficulties implementing regulatory changes quickly mid-
season. Many

[[Page 51377]]

reiterated that the backup coastwide measures were intended to ensure 
states complied with the addendum requirements and were never 
envisioned for implementation under any other scenario. That is, backup 
measures were only designed as an incentive to ensure state compliance 
and would only be used in the event that states failed to implement the 
addendum-required measures. Some cited the potential for additional 
angler and public disillusionment if additional reductions were 
implemented mid-year. Others stated that it is possible, given the 
upcoming stock assessment, that catches may be increased next or, at a 
minimum, any regulatory changes could be developed next year in 
response to 2016 catch and whatever information results from the 
assessment. Ultimately, the Board elected not to take any action at 
this time. The existing measures adopted under Addendum XXVII, when 
evaluated with the final 2015 MRIP estimates indicates that landings 
reductions may be in the 24- to 25-percent range as the new data 
changed the effective reductions on a state-by-state basis. Some state 
measures are now more restrictive than previously believed, others are 
now more liberal.
    NMFS is implementing the Council recommended original suite of 
measures, for the following reasons:
    1. The Council and Commission developed appropriate measures on 
what was considered the best available information at the time of their 
decisionmaking processes. The backup coastwide provisions (i.e., a 14-
inch (35.56-cm) minimum fish size and a 3-fish possession limit with an 
open season of July 15-September 15) developed by the Council as a 
backstop provision was designed for use only if northern states did not 
develop measures to achieve the required 23-percent reduction in 
landings based on the preliminary MRIP information. Acting in good 
faith, the northern states did comply with the provisions of Addendum 
XXVII to the Commission's FMP. Using the coastwide provisions would 
disproportionally affect the southern states that adopt Federal 
measures for their state waters while doing little, if anything, to 
constrain overall catch. The actual reduction in landings from using 
the backstop would not achieve a 30-percent reduction in 2016 landings.
    2. The final MRIP data were released substantially later than is 
normal and were considerably different than the preliminary estimates. 
It could not be foreseen that final information would increase 2015 
landing estimates by nearly 10 percent, nor could it be anticipated 
that final estimates would be available much later than normal. Final 
MRIP estimates for black sea bass, usually released in mid-April, 
generally vary 1-2 percent from the preliminary estimates and in many 
years have been lower than preliminary estimates, not higher.
    3. The 2016 recreational black sea bass fishery is well underway. 
Even acting quickly, several states indicated during the July 6 Board 
teleconference that they would be unable to implement regulatory 
changes before the end of summer. For many states, the fishery is 
effectively over by mid-September. Similarly, it is unlikely that an 
emergency action by NMFS could be implemented much more quickly. 
Federal measures alone would be insufficient to effectively reduce 
landings because the majority of catch occurs in northern state's 
waters.
    4. A comprehensive stock assessment is scheduled for December 2016. 
Work has already begun on this assessment. NMFS is prepared to work 
quickly with the Council and Commission to react to new stock 
information as soon as it becomes available in early 2017.
    5. Further delay to implement management measures would affect not 
only black sea bass management, but also scup and summer flounder. The 
latter species, summer flounder, currently lacks the conservation 
equivalency determination for Federal waters until a final rule is 
published in the Federal Register. This would create inconsistent 
measures in Federal and state waters, confusion for the public, and 
could lead to enforcement problems.

Commercial Scup Incidental Possession Limit Change

    This rule increases the incidental winter season (November 1-April 
30) scup commercial possession limit for vessels using mesh smaller 
than 5.0 inches (12.7 cm) from 500 lb (227 kg) to 1,000 lb (454 kg). 
This change is expected to allow vessels using small mesh that take 
scup incidental to other target species to convert some scup that would 
otherwise be discarded to landings. Vessels using mesh larger than 5 
inches (12.7 cm) may continue to land up to the targeted commercial 
fishery possession limit according to the applicable Federal and state 
rules.

Additional Regulatory Changes

    This rule also corrects two errors in the commercial summer 
flounder regulations. The summer flounder minimum mesh size regulations 
at Sec.  648.108(a)(1) require that any vessel landing or possessing 
more than 100 lb (45 kg) of summer flounder from May 1 through October 
31, or 200 lb (91 kg) of summer flounder from November 1 through April 
30, use at least 5.5-inch (14-cm) diamond or 6.0-inch (15-cm) square 
mesh ``throughout the body, extension(s), and codend portion of the 
net.'' However, the turtle excluding device (TED) regulations require 
summer flounder trawls fishing in the sea turtle protection area to 
have a TED extension with webbing no larger than 3.5 inches (9 cm). 
This rule eliminates the conflict between these two regulations by 
specifying that the minimum mesh size restrictions do not apply to 
extensions needed to comply with the TED regulations.
    This rule also corrects an erroneous reference to the Regional 
Administrator's authority to terminate the fly net exemption after 
review. This authority has been incorrectly listed at Sec.  
648.108(b)(3) and is corrected in this rule to reference Sec.  
648.108(b)(2)(iv).

Comments and Responses

    Three comments were received on measures outlined in the May 23, 
2016 (81 FR 32269), proposed rule. Two comments received supported the 
scup incidental trip limit increase contained in this rule. Both noted 
this change will assist fishermen in reducing regulatory discards in 
small-mesh fisheries during the November to April timeframe. NMFS 
agrees and is implementing this change as proposed.
    The other comment received raised no issues with any of the 
proposed measures. Rather, the individual wanted more information in 
the final rule about what outreach and/or inclusion of commercial and 
recreational fishermen's input occurred during the development of the 
measures in this rule.
    As outlined in the SIR prepared by the Council, the public had the 
opportunity to provide comments during the development of the 2016 
catch limits, the 2016 recreational management measures, and the scup 
incidental trawl possession limits. Opportunities for public 
participation, including recreational and commercial fishermen, 
occurred as part the following meetings:
     Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring 
Committee Meetings; September 23, 2015, and November 7-10, 2015;
     Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel 
Meetings; October 22, 2015, and November 17, 2015;
     Council meeting; December 8-10, 2015.

[[Page 51378]]

    Furthermore, the measures of this rule have been subject to public 
comment through proposed rulemaking, as required under the 
Administrative Procedure Act.

Classification

    The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that 
the 2016 recreational management measures and other specification 
measures of this rule for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
FMP are necessary for the conservation and management of the summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries and that the measures are 
consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act and other applicable laws.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause 
to waive the requirement for a 30-day delay in effectiveness under the 
provisions of section 553(d) of the Administrative Procedure Act 
because a delay in its effectiveness would not serve any legitimate 
purpose, while unfairly prejudicing federally permitted charter/party 
vessels. Recreational fisheries are already underway for summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass. Rulemaking has been delayed while 
final information from the MRIP program, provided many weeks later than 
is typical, has been evaluated. The Commission's Black Sea Bass 
Management Board met on July 6, 2016, to discuss the updated MRIP 
estimates. NMFS could not issue a final rule for black sea bass 
measures until the outcome of this meeting was known.
    Because summer flounder fisheries are already open prior to the 
publication of this rule, additional delay will disadvantage federally 
permitted charter/party vessels that would be restricted to the 
existing summer flounder coastwide regulations (18-inch (45.7-cm) 
minimum size and a 4-fish per person possession limit) until the 
Federal regulations implementing conservation equivalency are 
effective. This would unnecessarily disadvantage federally permitted 
vessels, which would be subject to the more restrictive measures while 
state-licensed vessels could be engaged in fishing activities under 
this year's management measures. If this final rule were delayed for 30 
days, the fishery would likely forego some amount of landings and 
revenues during the delay period. While these restrictions would be 
alleviated after this rule becomes effective, fishermen may be not able 
to recoup the lost economic opportunity of foregone trips that would 
result from delaying the effectiveness of this action.
    Finally, requiring a 30-day delay before the final rule becomes 
effective would not provide any benefit to the regulated parties. 
Unlike actions that require an adjustment period to comply with new 
rules, charter/party operators will not have to purchase new equipment 
or otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management 
measures. Rather, complying with this final rule simply means adhering 
to the published management measures for each relevant species of fish 
while the charter/party operators are engaged in fishing activities.
    For these reasons, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to 
waive the 30-day delay and to implement this rule upon publication in 
the Federal Register.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    On December 29, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 
million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged 
in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 
29, 2015). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, 
and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration's 
(SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 
million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and 
other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial 
fishing industry in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA after July 1, 
2016.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and prior to July 1, 
2016, a certification was developed for this regulatory action using 
SBA's former size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared 
for this regulatory action in light of the new size standard. All of 
the entities directly regulated by this regulatory action are 
commercial finfish fishing businesses. The new standard could result in 
fewer commercial finfish businesses being considered small. However, 
NMFS has determined that the new size standard does not affect its 
decision to certify this regulatory action. The action results in 
essentially status quo measures for all three fisheries and would have 
a minimal, potentially slightly positive, impact on all regulated 
entities regardless of size.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: July 29, 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 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.107, paragraph (a) introductory text is revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  648.107  Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder 
fishery.

    (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational 
fishing measures proposed to be implemented by the states of Maine 
through North Carolina for 2016 are the conservation equivalent of the 
season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  
648.102, 648.103, and 648.105(a), respectively. This determination is 
based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.108, paragraph (a)(1) is revised and paragraph (b)(3) 
is redesignated as paragraph (b)(2)(iv).
    The revision reads as follows:


Sec.  648.108  Summer flounder gear restrictions.

    (a) General. (1) Otter trawlers whose owners are issued a summer 
flounder permit and that land or possess 100 lb (45.4 kg) or more of 
summer flounder from May 1 through October 31, or 200 lb (90.7 kg) or 
more of summer flounder from November 1 through April 30, per trip, 
must fish with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 5.5-inch (14.0-cm) 
diamond or 6.0-inch (15.2-cm) square mesh applied throughout the body, 
extension(s), and codend portion of the net, except as required in a 
TED extension, in accordance with Sec.  223.206(d)(2)(iii) of this 
title.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  648.125, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.125  Scup gear restrictions.

    (a) Trawl vessel gear restrictions--(1) Minimum mesh size. No owner 
or operator of an otter trawl vessel that is

[[Page 51379]]

issued a scup moratorium permit may possess more than 1,000 lb (454 kg) 
of scup from November 1 through April 30, or more than 200 lb (91 kg) 
of scup from May 1 through October 31, unless fishing with nets that 
have a minimum mesh size of 5.0-inch (12.7-cm) diamond mesh, applied 
throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the 
terminus of the net, and all other nets are stowed and not available 
for immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2016-18485 Filed 8-1-16; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P