Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Complex Fishery; Framework Adjustment 3 and 2016-2017 Specifications, 54744-54747 [2016-19601]

Download as PDF 54744 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 159 / Wednesday, August 17, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Subpart NN—Pennsylvania § 52.2020 2. In § 52.2020, the table in paragraph (c)(1) is amended by adding an entry for ■ 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: ■ State citation ‘‘Section 129.74’’ in numerical order to read as follows: State effective date Title/subject * Identification of plan. * * (c) * * * (1) * * * * * Additional explanation/ § 52.2063 citation EPA approval date Title 25—Environmental Protection Article III—Air Resources * Section 129.74 ............... * * Control of VOC emissions from fiberglass boat manufacturing materials. * * * * * * * * 8/17/16 [Insert Federal Register citation]. * * BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration * * implement Framework Adjustment 3 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management (FMP), which includes catch specifications for fishing years 2016–2017. After reviewing public comments in response to the proposed rule, we are approving Framework 3 and the 2016–2017 specifications as detailed in our proposed rule. Effective on August 17, 2016. Copies of Framework 3, including the Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR), and other supporting documents for the action are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The framework is also accessible via the Internet at: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. Specifications for Fishing Years 2016– 2017 DATES: 50 CFR Part 648 ADDRESSES: [Docket No. 160301164–6694–02] RIN 0648–BF87 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Complex Fishery; Framework Adjustment 3 and 2016–2017 Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This rule approves regulations to implement Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan Framework Adjustment 3 management measures, including fishing year 2016–2017 specifications, and implements a new seasonal quota allocation for the skate wing fishery. SUMMARY: * * New section is added; the requirements of section 129.74 supersede the requirements of a RACT permit issued under sections 129.91– 95 prior to December 19, 2015, to the owner or operator of a source subject to section 129.74 to control, reduce or minimize VOCs from a fiberglass boat manufacturing process, except to the extent the RACT permit contains more stringent requirements. This rule is necessary because it updates the Skate Fishery Management Plan to be consistent with the most recent scientific information and it improves management of the skate fisheries. The intended effect of this rule is to help conserve skate stocks while maintaining economic opportunities for the skate fisheries. * [FR Doc. 2016–19540 Filed 8–16–16; 8:45 am] mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES 12/19/15 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Whitmore, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9182. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Approved Measures On June 6, 2016, we proposed in the Federal Register (81 FR 36251) management modifications to Specifications including the acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), and total allowable landings (TALs) for the skate wing and bait fisheries, as well as possession limits, may be specified for up to 2 years. The 2016–2017 skate complex ABC and ACL is 31,081 metric tons (mt). After removing management uncertainty from the ABC, the ACT that remains is 23,311 mt. After removing discards and state landings from the ACT, the TAL that remains is 12,872 mt. Tables 1 and 2 (below) detail TALs and possession limits for the skate wing and skate bait fisheries—there are no possession limit changes from last year. These specifications and possession limits remain in effect until they are replaced. TABLE 1—TOTAL ALLOWABLE LANDINGS FOR FISHING YEARS 2016–2017 Total Allowable Landings (TAL) mt Skate Wing Fishery: Season 1 (May 1–Aug 31) ........................................................................................................................................................... Season 2 (Sept 1–Apr 30) ........................................................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Aug 16, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\17AUR1.SGM 17AUR1 4,722 3,600 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 159 / Wednesday, August 17, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 54745 TABLE 1—TOTAL ALLOWABLE LANDINGS FOR FISHING YEARS 2016–2017—Continued Total Allowable Landings (TAL) mt Skate Bait Fishery: Season 1 (May 1–Jul 31) ............................................................................................................................................................. Season 2 (Aug 1–Oct 31) ............................................................................................................................................................ Season 3 (Nov 1–Apr 30) ............................................................................................................................................................ 1,299 1,565 1,354 TABLE 2—POSSESSION LIMITS FOR FISHING YEARS 2016–2017 Trip limits Skate possession limits * Skate wings NE Multispecies, Scallop, or Monkfish Day-At-Sea (DAS): Season 1 (May 1–Aug 31) .................................................................................................. Season 2 (Sept 1–Apr 30) ................................................................................................... NE Multispecies B DAS: May 1–Apr 30 ...................................................................................................................... Non-DAS: May 1–Apr 30 ...................................................................................................................... 2,600 1,179 4,100 1,860 lb .......... kg ......... lb .......... kg ......... Whole skates 5,902 2,677 9,306 4,221 lb .......... kg ......... lb .......... kg. Whole skate w/bait letter of authorization 25,000 lb. 11,340 kg. 220 lb ............. 100 kg ............ 500 lb ............. 227 kg ............ 500 lb. 227 kg. 500 lb ............. 227 kg ............ 1,135 lb .......... 515 kg ............ 1,135 lb. 515 kg. * Possession limits may be modified in-season in order to prevent catch from exceeding quotas. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES Skate Wing Adjustment Measures Framework 3 modifies the skate wing TAL so that 57 percent of the skate wing TAL is allocated in Season 1 (May 1– August 31) with the remainder allocated in Season 2 (September 1–April 30). This modification was made because skate fishing effort is higher earlier in the fishing year and a seasonal apportionment with in-season change authority should ensure year-round fishing opportunities. Any portion of the Season 1 TAL that is unused is rolled over into Season 2. From May 1 through August 17, the Regional Administrator is required to reduce the directed skate wing possession limit for vessels fishing under a day-at-sea (DAS) from 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) to an incidental catch level of 500 lb (227 kg) when the fishery is projected to land 85 percent of its Season 1 quota. However, if harvest levels are projected to reach 85 percent sometime between August 18 and August 31 (the last two weeks of Season 1), the Regional Administrator maintains discretion on whether or not to reduce the directed possession limit. This option is included because it is difficult and sometimes impracticable for the agency to rapidly close a fishery immediately prior to the end of a season. The DAS possession limit increases to 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) at the start of Season 2 (September 1) with the remainder of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Aug 16, 2016 Jkt 238001 the annual skate wing TAL available in Season 2. In Season 2, the Regional Administrator may reduce the possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg) when 85 percent of the annual skate wing TAL is projected to have been landed, consistent with previous regulations. These in-season possession limit reductions are designed to mitigate the potential for prolonged closures for the directed skate fishery while still allowing some incidental catches to be landed. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in Framework 3 We received four public comments on the proposed rule, including submissions on behalf of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance and Shark Advocates International. Comment 1: The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance and Shark Advocates International support the proposed seasonal specifications and possession limits. Response 1: We are approving Framework 3 and the accompanying specifications and possession limits because these measures promote optimum yield, fishery conservation, and are based upon the best available science. Comment 2: One commenter argued for a dramatic increase in quota while one commenter contended a dramatic decrease in quota is needed. PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Response 2: The ABC, ACL, and TAL are based on the best available science with advice from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee. Therefore, we are approving this action because it is based on the best available science consistent with National Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and with the Council recommendation. The proposed rule (81 FR 36251, June 6, 2016) details the justifications for modifying the specifications. These specifications are expected to result in optimum yield while ensuring that the stocks are not overfished or subject to overfishing (except for thorny skate, which is a prohibited species), consistent with National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Comment 3: Shark Advocates International urged us to elevate the priority of examining and addressing the severe depletion of thorny skates. Response 3: Although this comment does not directly apply to Framework 3, we are concerned with the stock status of thorny skates. In May 2015, we received a petition to list thorny skates as threatened or endangered. We found that the petition to list thorny skate presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted and solicited information from the public that could be included in a E:\FR\FM\17AUR1.SGM 17AUR1 54746 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 159 / Wednesday, August 17, 2016 / Rules and Regulations throughout the fishing year. For these reasons, NMFS finds it both contrary to the public interest and unnecessary to provide a 30-day delay in implementation. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the purpose of E.O. 12866. A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, and NMFS responses to those comments. A copy of this analysis is available from the Council [or NMFS] (see ADDRESSES). Changes From the Proposed Rule After further review of the regulatory text deemed by the Council and included in the proposed rule, we are revising the regulatory language previously proposed at § 648.322(b)(2) to be consistent with the Regional Administrator’s discretion to reduce the Season 2 skate-wing possession limit as provided in Framework Adjustment 1 to the FMP (76 FR 28328; May 17, 2011). These regulatory language changes do not alter the management measures specified in the proposed rule and are consistent with the intent of Framework 3. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES candidate species status review (80 FR 65175, October 26, 2015). A thorny skate status review occurred on May 19, 2016, in Gloucester, MA. A report from the review is currently being developed and will undergo peer-review prior to being shared with the public. Comment 4: The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance offered support for the Council’s decision to further pursue limited access for the skate fishery. Response 4: The Council has prioritized consideration of limiting access to the skate fishery. We will continue working with the Council so that it can research, review, and address its management priorities. A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency’s Assessment of Such Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such Comments A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis were contained in the preamble of the proposed rule (81 FR 36251, June 6, 2016) and are not repeated here. The public did not provide any comments on the IRFA; therefore, there are no changes made in this final rule with regards to the economic analyses and impacts. Classification The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that Framework 3 to the FMP is necessary for the conservation and management of the northeast skate complex and that it is consistent with the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws. There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date. This final rule reduces TALs which are administered through different fishing seasons. Season 1 for the skate wing fishery began on May 1 and ends on August 31. It is possible that the fishery could approach a seasonal landing limit which would require possession limits to be reduced to avoid overharvesting. Waiving the 30day implementation delay is necessary to ensure timely implementation of the reduced catch limits. Retaining a 30-day delay in implementation would be contrary to the public interest because it could result in a catch limit being exceeded. Immediate implementation of the new TALs, including the new seasonal measures, will benefit fishermen by helping to prevent overages and potentially providing fishing opportunities more evenly VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Aug 16, 2016 Jkt 238001 Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities To Which the Rule Would Apply This final rule would impact fishing vessels, including commercial fishing entities. In 2014, there were 2,012 vessels that held an open access skate permit. However, only 431 of those permit holders were active participants in the commercial skate fishery (i.e., landed any amount of skates). Because there are several ownership affiliate groups (as explained in greater detail in the proposed rule) there are actually 364 active vessels in the skate fishery, only 3 of which qualified as large businesses. On December 29, 2015, 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) previous standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors, respectively, of the U.S. commercial fishing industry. An IRFA was developed for this regulatory action prior to July 1, 2016, using SBA’s previous size standards. Under the SBA’s size standards, 3 of 364 skate fishing entities were determined to be large. NMFS has qualitatively reviewed the analyses prepared for this action using the new size standard. The new standard could result in a few more commercial shellfish businesses being considered small (due to the increase in small business size standards). In addition, the new standard could result in fewer commercial finfish businesses being considered small (due to the decrease in size standards). Skates are only responsible for a small fraction of total landings and revenue for any of these vessels so it is unlikely that these size-standard changes would have any impact on the previously conducted analyses. Description of the Projected Reporting, Record-Keeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of This Final Rule This final rule does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. 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 The ACL alternative described in the preambles of the proposed rule and this rule represents an ACL reduction in comparison to previous years’ ACLs (maintaining the status quo measures). However, we do not anticipate any significant economic impacts on small entities to result from this action. While there is an overall reduction in the TAL, Framework 3 analyses indicate that actual skate landings in recent years have been close to the TAL we are approving for fishing years 2016–2017. This suggests that it is unlikely that potential revenue losses would be directly commensurate with the TAL reduction. By contrast, maintaining the status quo ACL is inconsistent with the stated objectives because it does not represent the best available science or the goals and objectives of the FMP. The seasonal allocation for the skate-wing fishery effected by this rule was developed to coincide with fishing effort so that more quota is allocated during the months when there is greater fishing effort. This is expected to reduce the risk of the fishery approaching a seasonal quota and having its possession limits reduced. The Council considered reducing the skate-wing E:\FR\FM\17AUR1.SGM 17AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 159 / Wednesday, August 17, 2016 / Rules and Regulations possession limits due to the reduced TAL but elected to keep the status quo possession limits to further mitigate economic impacts from the ACL reductions. For these reasons, we do not expect revenues to be significantly impacted. 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 letter to permit holders that also serves as small entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of this final rule are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), and the compliance guide, i.e., permit holder letter, will be sent to all holders of permits for the skate fishery. The guide and this final rule will be posted or publically available on the GARFO Web site. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with RULES Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Aug 16, 2016 Jkt 238001 Dated: August 11, 2016. Paul Doremus, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 648 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 § 648.322, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(2) to read as follows: ■ § 648.322 Skate allocation, possession, and landing provisions. (a) * * * (1) A total of 66.5 percent of the annual skate complex TAL shall be allocated to the skate wing fishery. All skate products that are landed in wing form, for the skate wing market, or classified by Federal dealers as food as required under § 648.7(a)(1)(i), shall count against the skate wing fishery TAL. The annual skate wing fishery TAL shall be allocated in two seasonal quota periods as follows: (i) Season 1—May 1 through August 31, 57 percent of the annual skate wing fishery TAL shall be allocated; (ii) Season 2—September 1 through April 30, the remainder of the annual skate wing fishery TAL not landed in Season 1 shall be allocated. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 54747 (b) * * * (2) In-season adjustment of skate wing possession limits. The Regional Administrator has the authority, through a notice in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, to reduce the skate wing possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg) of skate wings (1,135 lb (515 kg) whole weight or any prorated combination of the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(4) of this section) for the remainder of the applicable quota season, under the following circumstances: (i) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected to be landed between May 1 and August 17, the Regional Administrator shall reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. (ii) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected to be landed between August 18 and August 31, the Regional Administrator may reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. (iii) When 85 percent of the annual skate wing fishery TAL is projected to be landed in Season 2, the Regional Administrator may reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in this paragraph, unless such a reduction would be expected to prevent attainment of the annual TAL. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2016–19601 Filed 8–16–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\17AUR1.SGM 17AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 159 (Wednesday, August 17, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54744-54747]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-19601]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 160301164-6694-02]
RIN 0648-BF87


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate 
Complex Fishery; Framework Adjustment 3 and 2016-2017 Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This rule approves regulations to implement Northeast Skate 
Complex Fishery Management Plan Framework Adjustment 3 management 
measures, including fishing year 2016-2017 specifications, and 
implements a new seasonal quota allocation for the skate wing fishery. 
This rule is necessary because it updates the Skate Fishery Management 
Plan to be consistent with the most recent scientific information and 
it improves management of the skate fisheries. The intended effect of 
this rule is to help conserve skate stocks while maintaining economic 
opportunities for the skate fisheries.

DATES: Effective on August 17, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Framework 3, including the Environmental 
Assessment and Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR), and other supporting 
documents for the action are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive 
Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 
2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The framework is also accessible via the 
Internet at: http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Whitmore, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, (978) 281-9182.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

Approved Measures

    On June 6, 2016, we proposed in the Federal Register (81 FR 36251) 
management modifications to implement Framework Adjustment 3 to the 
Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management (FMP), which includes catch 
specifications for fishing years 2016-2017. After reviewing public 
comments in response to the proposed rule, we are approving Framework 3 
and the 2016-2017 specifications as detailed in our proposed rule.

Specifications for Fishing Years 2016-2017

    Specifications including the acceptable biological catch (ABC), 
annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), and total 
allowable landings (TALs) for the skate wing and bait fisheries, as 
well as possession limits, may be specified for up to 2 years. The 
2016-2017 skate complex ABC and ACL is 31,081 metric tons (mt). After 
removing management uncertainty from the ABC, the ACT that remains is 
23,311 mt. After removing discards and state landings from the ACT, the 
TAL that remains is 12,872 mt. Tables 1 and 2 (below) detail TALs and 
possession limits for the skate wing and skate bait fisheries--there 
are no possession limit changes from last year. These specifications 
and possession limits remain in effect until they are replaced.

      Table 1--Total Allowable Landings for Fishing Years 2016-2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Total Allowable Landings (TAL)                     mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Skate Wing Fishery:
    Season 1 (May 1-Aug 31).............................           4,722
    Season 2 (Sept 1-Apr 30)............................           3,600

[[Page 54745]]

 
Skate Bait Fishery:
    Season 1 (May 1-Jul 31).............................           1,299
    Season 2 (Aug 1-Oct 31).............................           1,565
    Season 3 (Nov 1-Apr 30).............................           1,354
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                             Table 2--Possession Limits for Fishing Years 2016-2017
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Trip limits
                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Skate possession limits *                                                             Whole skate  w/bait
                                           Skate wings              Whole skates        letter of  authorization
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NE Multispecies, Scallop, or
 Monkfish Day-At-Sea (DAS):
    Season 1 (May 1-Aug 31).......  2,600 lb................  5,902 lb................  25,000 lb.
                                    1,179 kg................  2,677 kg................  11,340 kg.
    Season 2 (Sept 1-Apr 30)......  4,100 lb................  9,306 lb................
                                    1,860 kg................  4,221 kg................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NE Multispecies B DAS:
    May 1-Apr 30..................  220 lb..................  500 lb..................  500 lb.
                                    100 kg..................  227 kg..................  227 kg.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-DAS:
    May 1-Apr 30..................  500 lb..................  1,135 lb................  1,135 lb.
                                    227 kg..................  515 kg..................  515 kg.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Possession limits may be modified in-season in order to prevent catch from exceeding quotas.

Skate Wing Adjustment Measures

    Framework 3 modifies the skate wing TAL so that 57 percent of the 
skate wing TAL is allocated in Season 1 (May 1-August 31) with the 
remainder allocated in Season 2 (September 1-April 30). This 
modification was made because skate fishing effort is higher earlier in 
the fishing year and a seasonal apportionment with in-season change 
authority should ensure year-round fishing opportunities. Any portion 
of the Season 1 TAL that is unused is rolled over into Season 2. From 
May 1 through August 17, the Regional Administrator is required to 
reduce the directed skate wing possession limit for vessels fishing 
under a day-at-sea (DAS) from 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) to an incidental 
catch level of 500 lb (227 kg) when the fishery is projected to land 85 
percent of its Season 1 quota. However, if harvest levels are projected 
to reach 85 percent sometime between August 18 and August 31 (the last 
two weeks of Season 1), the Regional Administrator maintains discretion 
on whether or not to reduce the directed possession limit. This option 
is included because it is difficult and sometimes impracticable for the 
agency to rapidly close a fishery immediately prior to the end of a 
season.
    The DAS possession limit increases to 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) at the 
start of Season 2 (September 1) with the remainder of the annual skate 
wing TAL available in Season 2. In Season 2, the Regional Administrator 
may reduce the possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg) when 85 percent of 
the annual skate wing TAL is projected to have been landed, consistent 
with previous regulations. These in-season possession limit reductions 
are designed to mitigate the potential for prolonged closures for the 
directed skate fishery while still allowing some incidental catches to 
be landed.

Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in Framework 3

    We received four public comments on the proposed rule, including 
submissions on behalf of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance 
and Shark Advocates International.
    Comment 1: The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance and Shark 
Advocates International support the proposed seasonal specifications 
and possession limits.
    Response 1: We are approving Framework 3 and the accompanying 
specifications and possession limits because these measures promote 
optimum yield, fishery conservation, and are based upon the best 
available science.
    Comment 2: One commenter argued for a dramatic increase in quota 
while one commenter contended a dramatic decrease in quota is needed.
    Response 2: The ABC, ACL, and TAL are based on the best available 
science with advice from the Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee. Therefore, we are approving this action because it is based 
on the best available science consistent with National Standard 2 of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act) and with the Council recommendation. The proposed rule (81 
FR 36251, June 6, 2016) details the justifications for modifying the 
specifications. These specifications are expected to result in optimum 
yield while ensuring that the stocks are not overfished or subject to 
overfishing (except for thorny skate, which is a prohibited species), 
consistent with National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    Comment 3: Shark Advocates International urged us to elevate the 
priority of examining and addressing the severe depletion of thorny 
skates.
    Response 3: Although this comment does not directly apply to 
Framework 3, we are concerned with the stock status of thorny skates. 
In May 2015, we received a petition to list thorny skates as threatened 
or endangered. We found that the petition to list thorny skate 
presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted and solicited information 
from the public that could be included in a

[[Page 54746]]

candidate species status review (80 FR 65175, October 26, 2015). A 
thorny skate status review occurred on May 19, 2016, in Gloucester, MA. 
A report from the review is currently being developed and will undergo 
peer-review prior to being shared with the public.
    Comment 4: The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance offered 
support for the Council's decision to further pursue limited access for 
the skate fishery.
    Response 4: The Council has prioritized consideration of limiting 
access to the skate fishery. We will continue working with the Council 
so that it can research, review, and address its management priorities.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    After further review of the regulatory text deemed by the Council 
and included in the proposed rule, we are revising the regulatory 
language previously proposed at Sec.  648.322(b)(2) to be consistent 
with the Regional Administrator's discretion to reduce the Season 2 
skate-wing possession limit as provided in Framework Adjustment 1 to 
the FMP (76 FR 28328; May 17, 2011). These regulatory language changes 
do not alter the management measures specified in the proposed rule and 
are consistent with the intent of Framework 3.

Classification

    The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that 
Framework 3 to the FMP is necessary for the conservation and management 
of the northeast skate complex and that it is consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other 
applicable laws.
    There is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day 
delay in effective date. This final rule reduces TALs which are 
administered through different fishing seasons. Season 1 for the skate 
wing fishery began on May 1 and ends on August 31. It is possible that 
the fishery could approach a seasonal landing limit which would require 
possession limits to be reduced to avoid overharvesting. Waiving the 
30-day implementation delay is necessary to ensure timely 
implementation of the reduced catch limits. Retaining a 30-day delay in 
implementation would be contrary to the public interest because it 
could result in a catch limit being exceeded. Immediate implementation 
of the new TALs, including the new seasonal measures, will benefit 
fishermen by helping to prevent overages and potentially providing 
fishing opportunities more evenly throughout the fishing year. For 
these reasons, NMFS finds it both contrary to the public interest and 
unnecessary to provide a 30-day delay in implementation.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the 
purpose of E.O. 12866.
    A final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) was prepared. The 
FRFA incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), a 
summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in 
response to the IRFA, and NMFS responses to those comments. A copy of 
this analysis is available from the Council [or NMFS] (see ADDRESSES).

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and a 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the 
legal basis were contained in the preamble of the proposed rule (81 FR 
36251, June 6, 2016) and are not repeated here. The public did not 
provide any comments on the IRFA; therefore, there are no changes made 
in this final rule with regards to the economic analyses and impacts.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities To Which the Rule 
Would Apply

    This final rule would impact fishing vessels, including commercial 
fishing entities. In 2014, there were 2,012 vessels that held an open 
access skate permit. However, only 431 of those permit holders were 
active participants in the commercial skate fishery (i.e., landed any 
amount of skates). Because there are several ownership affiliate groups 
(as explained in greater detail in the proposed rule) there are 
actually 364 active vessels in the skate fishery, only 3 of which 
qualified as large businesses.
    On December 29, 2015, 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) previous 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, respectively, of the U.S. commercial fishing industry.
    An IRFA was developed for this regulatory action prior to July 1, 
2016, using SBA's previous size standards. Under the SBA's size 
standards, 3 of 364 skate fishing entities were determined to be large. 
NMFS has qualitatively reviewed the analyses prepared for this action 
using the new size standard. The new standard could result in a few 
more commercial shellfish businesses being considered small (due to the 
increase in small business size standards). In addition, the new 
standard could result in fewer commercial finfish businesses being 
considered small (due to the decrease in size standards). Skates are 
only responsible for a small fraction of total landings and revenue for 
any of these vessels so it is unlikely that these size-standard changes 
would have any impact on the previously conducted analyses.

Description of the Projected Reporting, Record-Keeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements of This Final Rule

    This final rule does not introduce any new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements.

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

    The ACL alternative described in the preambles of the proposed rule 
and this rule represents an ACL reduction in comparison to previous 
years' ACLs (maintaining the status quo measures). However, we do not 
anticipate any significant economic impacts on small entities to result 
from this action. While there is an overall reduction in the TAL, 
Framework 3 analyses indicate that actual skate landings in recent 
years have been close to the TAL we are approving for fishing years 
2016-2017. This suggests that it is unlikely that potential revenue 
losses would be directly commensurate with the TAL reduction. By 
contrast, maintaining the status quo ACL is inconsistent with the 
stated objectives because it does not represent the best available 
science or the goals and objectives of the FMP. The seasonal allocation 
for the skate-wing fishery effected by this rule was developed to 
coincide with fishing effort so that more quota is allocated during the 
months when there is greater fishing effort. This is expected to reduce 
the risk of the fishery approaching a seasonal quota and having its 
possession limits reduced. The Council considered reducing the skate-
wing

[[Page 54747]]

possession limits due to the reduced TAL but elected to keep the status 
quo possession limits to further mitigate economic impacts from the ACL 
reductions. For these reasons, we do not expect revenues to be 
significantly impacted.
    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 letter to permit holders that also serves as 
small entity compliance guide was prepared. Copies of this final rule 
are available from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office 
(GARFO), and the compliance guide, i.e., permit holder letter, will be 
sent to all holders of permits for the skate fishery. The guide and 
this final rule will be posted or publically available on the GARFO Web 
site.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 11, 2016.
Paul Doremus,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 
648 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.  648.322, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(2) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.322  Skate allocation, possession, and landing provisions.

    (a) * * *
    (1) A total of 66.5 percent of the annual skate complex TAL shall 
be allocated to the skate wing fishery. All skate products that are 
landed in wing form, for the skate wing market, or classified by 
Federal dealers as food as required under Sec.  648.7(a)(1)(i), shall 
count against the skate wing fishery TAL. The annual skate wing fishery 
TAL shall be allocated in two seasonal quota periods as follows:
    (i) Season 1--May 1 through August 31, 57 percent of the annual 
skate wing fishery TAL shall be allocated;
    (ii) Season 2--September 1 through April 30, the remainder of the 
annual skate wing fishery TAL not landed in Season 1 shall be 
allocated.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) In-season adjustment of skate wing possession limits. The 
Regional Administrator has the authority, through a notice in the 
Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, to 
reduce the skate wing possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg) of skate 
wings (1,135 lb (515 kg) whole weight or any prorated combination of 
the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(4) of this 
section) for the remainder of the applicable quota season, under the 
following circumstances:
    (i) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected 
to be landed between May 1 and August 17, the Regional Administrator 
shall reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level 
described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
    (ii) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected 
to be landed between August 18 and August 31, the Regional 
Administrator may reduce the skate wing possession limit to the 
incidental level described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
    (iii) When 85 percent of the annual skate wing fishery TAL is 
projected to be landed in Season 2, the Regional Administrator may 
reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level 
described in this paragraph, unless such a reduction would be expected 
to prevent attainment of the annual TAL.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2016-19601 Filed 8-16-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P