Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments, 11011-11013 [2017-03236]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 32 / Friday, February 17, 2017 / Notices project site and most animals are expected to return soon after helicopter activities cease for that day. By clustering helicopter arrival/departures within a short time period, we expect animals present to show less response to subsequent landings. NMFS anticipates no impact on the population size or breeding stock of Steller sea lions, California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, or Northern fur seals. In summary, NMFS anticipates that impacts to hauled-out pinnipeds during the Society’s helicopter operations and restoration/maintenance activities would be behavioral harassment of limited duration (i.e., less than three days a month) and limited intensity (i.e., temporary flushing at most). NMFS does not expect stampeding, and therefore injury or mortality to occur (see Mitigation Measures for more details). Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the Society’s activities will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that the Society’s planned activities could potentially affect, by Level B harassment only, four species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction. For each species, these estimates are small numbers (less than one percent of the affected stocks of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, and Northern fur seals, and less than five percent of the stock of Steller sea lions) relative to the population size (Table 3). Based on the analysis contained in this notice of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS finds that the Society’s activities would take small numbers of marine mammals relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Feb 16, 2017 Jkt 241001 Endangered Species Act (ESA) NMFS does not expect that the Society’s helicopter operations and restoration/maintenance activities would affect any species listed under the ESA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a Section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and analyzed the potential impacts to marine mammals that would result from the Society’s activities. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was signed in February 2017. A copy of the EA and FONSI is available on our Web site at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/research.html. Authorization NMFS has issued an IHA to the Society for the potential harassment of small numbers of four marine mammal species incidental to the aircraft operations and lighthouse restoration and maintenance activities on NWSR, in Del Norte County, CA, provided the previously mentioned mitigation. Dated: February 13, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. 11011 Pacific Council’s Web site in advance of the meeting. Council address: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220–1384. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kerry Griffin, Pacific Council; telephone: (503) 820–2409. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the meeting is to consider and discuss ecosystem-related agenda items on the March Pacific Council meeting agenda, and consider developing supplemental CPSAS reports. Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at (503) 820–2280 at least 10 days prior to the meeting date. Dated: February 14, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–03198 Filed 2–16–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE [FR Doc. 2017–03233 Filed 2–16–17; 8:45 am] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration BILLING CODE 3510–22–P RIN 0648–XF222 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF231 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and initiate scoping process; request for comments. AGENCY: Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting (webinar). AGENCY: The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (CPSAS) will hold a meeting via webinar that is open to the public. DATES: The CPSAS webinar will be held Friday March 3, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be via webinar; a public listening will be held at the Pacific Council offices. Webinar access information will be posted to the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) announces its intention to prepare, in cooperation with NFMS, an environmental impact statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. An environmental impact statement may be necessary to provide analytic support for Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Amendment 23 would revise the monitoring and reporting system for the multispecies (groundfish) fishery. The SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\17FEN1.SGM 17FEN1 11012 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 32 / Friday, February 17, 2017 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES purpose of this notice is to announce a public process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed, and to alert the interested public of the scoping process, the potential development of a draft environmental impact statement, and the opportunity for participation in that process. DATES: Written and electronic scoping comments must be received on or before April 3, 2017. ADDRESSES: Written scoping comments on Amendment 23 may be sent by any of the following methods: • Email to the following address: comments@nefmc.org; • Mail to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950; or Fax to (978) 465–3116. The scoping document is accessible electronically online at www.nefmc.org/ library/amendment-23. Requests for copies of the Amendment 23 scoping document and other information should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone, (978) 465–0492. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Northeast multispecies fishery targets 13 species comprising 20 stocks along the east coast from Maine to Cape Hatteras, NC, although most fishing activity takes place between Maine and New Jersey. Management measures were first adopted in 1977, but there have been several major revisions to the management program over the following decades. The most recent major change occurred in 2010, when most of the fishery shifted to a system that controls total catches through explicit limits on catches by organized cooperative groups of fishermen, referred to as sectors. Each sector comprises a group of fishing permits, each with its own landings history that contributes to the allocation for all of the groundfish stocks. The sum of the allocation histories from all of the permits in the sector represents the sector’s annual quota. A sector is not subject to effort controls such as trip limits, and may choose how to manage its collective quota among its members. However, in exchange for this increased business flexibility, sectors are responsible for increased monitoring VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Feb 16, 2017 Jkt 241001 requirements to comply with catch limits. About 95 percent of the catch is taken by vessels in sectors, while the remainder is harvested by vessels in the common pool. In contrast to sectors, common pool vessels operate independently and are subject to effort controls that include trip limits, limits on days fishing, and closed areas. Successful management of the Northeast multispecies fishery depends on accurate and timely reports of catch. The term ‘‘catch’’ refers to fish that are landed, as well as those that may not be landed but are discarded at sea for any reason. Catch data is used to ensure compliance with catch limits and are also a key component of scientific assessments of the status of the stocks. These assessments are the basis for determining how much fish can be sustainably caught in future years. Catch is a key element of data commonly referred to as ‘‘fishery dependent data’’—that is, data collected as a result of fishing operations. At present, there are three primary sources of catch data: (1) self-reported data from fishing vessels and fish dealers; (2) data collected by third-party at-sea observers; and (3) vessel position data. The self-reported data from fishing vessels and dealers is recorded on Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) and dealer reports. Fishermen use VTRs to report information on trip-level fishing activity. In these reports, vessel operators submit information on trip start and end times, species landed, species discarded, locations of fishing activity, gear used, disposition of species landed, and similar activity. Fishermen may complete VTRs on paper or using electronic, computerbased programs. Fish are sold to a licensed dealer who submits information via dealer reports that detail the species and amount purchased, sale prices, selling vessel, and market category, and which are filed electronically. While VTRs and dealer reports are generally used to determine landing amounts, estimates of fish discarded at sea are provided by at-sea observers. There are currently two types of at-sea observers employed in this fishery: Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) observers, and at-sea monitors. Although both programs collect similar information (trip activity, species landed, discarded, gear used, etc.), NEFOP observers are funded by the Federal government and implement Federal programs (Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM), Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act) across fisheries. At-sea monitors (ASM), specific to sector PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 monitoring, are partly funded by fishermen and will be fully funded by fishermen in 2017. At-sea observers are not present on all trips. Coverage levels for both programs are set annually by the National Marine Fisheries Service. NEFOP coverage levels are determined using the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (see www.nefsc.noaa.gov/ femad/fsb/SBRM/). ASM levels are determined consistent with procedures established by the FMP. This action will not modify the SBRM, but could modify how coverage levels are determined for the at-sea monitoring program. They could also modify or remove the at-sea monitoring program as part of a holistic monitoring and reporting program for the groundfish fishery. Framework Adjustment 55 (FW 55) clarified that the primary goal of the groundfish sector at-sea monitoring program is to verify area fished, catch, and discards by species, by gear type, and that this primary goal should be met in the most cost-effective manner practicable. All other goals and objectives of groundfish monitoring programs are considered equallyweighted, secondary goals. These goals include to (1) improve the documentation of catch, (2) reduce cost of monitoring, (3) incentivize reducing discards, (4) provide additional data streams for stock assessments, (5) enhance safety of monitoring program, and (6) perform periodic review of monitoring program effectiveness. Specific objectives are described in detail in FW 55. The Council may change the goals and/or objectives of the at-sea monitoring program in this action. Lastly, vessel position data is provided through a Vessel Monitoring System. This data stream provides vessel positions about once each hour using a satellite-based tracking system and can be used to report fishing activity (such as changing a trip type) while at sea and to enforce compliance with time and area closures. The Council will consider changes to the monitoring and reporting system to ensure it is providing accurate catch information necessary to manage the fishery efficiently. This could include a wide range of alternatives to tracking sector/vessel specific discards, such as setting total allowable landings and monitoring fishery-wide discards through the observer program. In recent years, most Council discussions have focused on at-sea observer coverage because it provides the highest quality data, but it is expensive, and given the current low quotas in the fishery, the high cost of at-sea monitoring is difficult E:\FR\FM\17FEN1.SGM 17FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 32 / Friday, February 17, 2017 / Notices for many fishermen to afford. There are also questions about the accurate representation of the information, since there is evidence that fishing behavior may be different on observed and unobserved trips. For these reasons, the Council may explore alternatives to atsea observers, such as using cameras to monitor fishing activity, which is usually referred to as Electronic Monitoring, or EM. The Council also may consider changes to the way landings information is provided by both dealers and vessel operators and how it is assigned to stock areas. When developing this amendment, the Council will take into account other regional projects to improve catch monitoring, such as the Fishery Dependent Data Visioning project that NMFS is pursuing. In summary, the Council may consider changes to any part of the system used to collect and report commercial catch information in the Northeast multispecies fishery. At its September 2016 meeting, the Council identified that the purpose of this amendment will be to adjust the groundfish monitoring program to improve reliability and accountability. The Council’s Groundfish Oversight Committee and the Council will identify the goal and objectives of the amendment following the scoping period and will then develop alternatives to achieve the goal and objectives. Following input from the Committee and the public, the Council will select a range of alternatives to improve the monitoring and reporting system. Public Comment All persons affected by or otherwise interested in Northeast multispecies management are invited to participate in commenting on the scope and Date and time Portsmouth, NH, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 2:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m. Gloucester, MA, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m. Plymouth, MA, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m. Groton, CT, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Special Accommodations The meetings are accessible to people with physical disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least five days prior to this meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 14, 2017. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–03236 Filed 2–16–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF152 Council Coordination Committee Meeting; Addendum National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Feb 16, 2017 Jkt 241001 significance of issues to be analyzed by submitting written comments (see ADDRESSES) or by attending one of the six scoping meetings, including one webinar, for this amendment. Scoping consists of identifying the range of actions, alternatives, and possible impacts to be considered. At this time, the Council believes that it may consider changing any aspect of the existing groundfish monitoring and reporting system. After the scoping process is completed, the Council will begin development of Amendment 23 and will prepare an EIS to analyze the impacts of the range of alternatives for changing the monitoring and reporting system. The Council will hold public hearings to receive comments on the draft amendment and on the analysis of its impacts presented in the Draft EIS. The Council will take and discuss scoping comments on this amendment at the following public meetings: Location Rockland, ME, Friday, March 3, 2017, 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. Via Webinar, Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. AGENCY: 11013 Samoset Resort, 220 Warrenton Street, Rockport, ME 04856. Webinar Hearing, Register to participate: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/ 4567763108442151939 Call in info: Toll: +1 (415) 930–5321 Access Code: 702– 360–151. Portsmouth Library, 175 Parrott Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801. NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Hilton Garden Inn, 4 Home Depot Drive, Plymouth, MA 02360. Hilton Garden Inn, 224 Gold Star Highway, Groton, CT. 06340. Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. Notice of a public meeting; additional information regarding agenda and webinar. ACTION: NMFS will host a meeting of the Council Coordination Committee (CCC), consisting of the Regional Fishery Management Council chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors on February 28–March 1, 2017. The intent of this meeting is to discuss issues of relevance to the Councils and NMFS, including issues related to the implementation of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act. Agenda items include discussions on budget allocations for FY2017 and budget planning for FY2018; an update on current joint science initiatives, including Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management; the FY2017 legislative outlook; updates on planning for the CCC Scientific Coordination Committee meeting, NMFS bycatch reduction SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 strategy, the NMFS National Standard 1 guidance and implementation, Marine Recreational Information Program updates, stock assessment improvement plan; and other topics related to implementation of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act. All sessions are open to the public. DATES: The meeting and webinar will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, recess at 5:00 p.m. or when business is complete; and reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, and adjourn by 3:30 p.m. or when business is complete. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, 1250 South Hayes Street; Arlington, VA 22202; Telephone: (703) 415–5000. The meeting presentations will also be available via WebEx webinar/conference call. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the conference call information is phone number 888–455–5378; Participant Code 8262839; and the webinar event E:\FR\FM\17FEN1.SGM 17FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 32 (Friday, February 17, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11011-11013]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-03236]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF222


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental 
Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments

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

ACTION: Notice; intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and 
initiate scoping process; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) announces 
its intention to prepare, in cooperation with NFMS, an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act. An environmental impact statement may be necessary to 
provide analytic support for Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Amendment 23 would revise the monitoring 
and reporting system for the multispecies (groundfish) fishery. The

[[Page 11012]]

purpose of this notice is to announce a public process for determining 
the scope of issues to be addressed, and to alert the interested public 
of the scoping process, the potential development of a draft 
environmental impact statement, and the opportunity for participation 
in that process.

DATES: Written and electronic scoping comments must be received on or 
before April 3, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Written scoping comments on Amendment 23 may be sent by any 
of the following methods:
     Email to the following address: comments@nefmc.org;
     Mail to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England 
Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 
01950; or Fax to (978) 465-3116.
    The scoping document is accessible electronically online at 
www.nefmc.org/library/amendment-23.
    Requests for copies of the Amendment 23 scoping document and other 
information should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, 
New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, 
Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone, (978) 465-0492.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New 
England Fishery Management Council, (978) 465-0492.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Northeast multispecies fishery targets 13 species comprising 20 
stocks along the east coast from Maine to Cape Hatteras, NC, although 
most fishing activity takes place between Maine and New Jersey. 
Management measures were first adopted in 1977, but there have been 
several major revisions to the management program over the following 
decades.
    The most recent major change occurred in 2010, when most of the 
fishery shifted to a system that controls total catches through 
explicit limits on catches by organized cooperative groups of 
fishermen, referred to as sectors. Each sector comprises a group of 
fishing permits, each with its own landings history that contributes to 
the allocation for all of the groundfish stocks. The sum of the 
allocation histories from all of the permits in the sector represents 
the sector's annual quota. A sector is not subject to effort controls 
such as trip limits, and may choose how to manage its collective quota 
among its members. However, in exchange for this increased business 
flexibility, sectors are responsible for increased monitoring 
requirements to comply with catch limits. About 95 percent of the catch 
is taken by vessels in sectors, while the remainder is harvested by 
vessels in the common pool. In contrast to sectors, common pool vessels 
operate independently and are subject to effort controls that include 
trip limits, limits on days fishing, and closed areas.
    Successful management of the Northeast multispecies fishery depends 
on accurate and timely reports of catch. The term ``catch'' refers to 
fish that are landed, as well as those that may not be landed but are 
discarded at sea for any reason. Catch data is used to ensure 
compliance with catch limits and are also a key component of scientific 
assessments of the status of the stocks. These assessments are the 
basis for determining how much fish can be sustainably caught in future 
years. Catch is a key element of data commonly referred to as ``fishery 
dependent data''--that is, data collected as a result of fishing 
operations. At present, there are three primary sources of catch data: 
(1) self-reported data from fishing vessels and fish dealers; (2) data 
collected by third-party at-sea observers; and (3) vessel position 
data.
    The self-reported data from fishing vessels and dealers is recorded 
on Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) and dealer reports. Fishermen use VTRs to 
report information on trip-level fishing activity. In these reports, 
vessel operators submit information on trip start and end times, 
species landed, species discarded, locations of fishing activity, gear 
used, disposition of species landed, and similar activity. Fishermen 
may complete VTRs on paper or using electronic, computer-based 
programs. Fish are sold to a licensed dealer who submits information 
via dealer reports that detail the species and amount purchased, sale 
prices, selling vessel, and market category, and which are filed 
electronically.
    While VTRs and dealer reports are generally used to determine 
landing amounts, estimates of fish discarded at sea are provided by at-
sea observers. There are currently two types of at-sea observers 
employed in this fishery: Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) 
observers, and at-sea monitors. Although both programs collect similar 
information (trip activity, species landed, discarded, gear used, 
etc.), NEFOP observers are funded by the Federal government and 
implement Federal programs (Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology 
(SBRM), Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act) across 
fisheries. At-sea monitors (ASM), specific to sector monitoring, are 
partly funded by fishermen and will be fully funded by fishermen in 
2017.
    At-sea observers are not present on all trips. Coverage levels for 
both programs are set annually by the National Marine Fisheries 
Service. NEFOP coverage levels are determined using the Standardized 
Bycatch Reporting Methodology (see www.nefsc.noaa.gov/femad/fsb/SBRM/). 
ASM levels are determined consistent with procedures established by the 
FMP. This action will not modify the SBRM, but could modify how 
coverage levels are determined for the at-sea monitoring program. They 
could also modify or remove the at-sea monitoring program as part of a 
holistic monitoring and reporting program for the groundfish fishery.
    Framework Adjustment 55 (FW 55) clarified that the primary goal of 
the groundfish sector at-sea monitoring program is to verify area 
fished, catch, and discards by species, by gear type, and that this 
primary goal should be met in the most cost-effective manner 
practicable. All other goals and objectives of groundfish monitoring 
programs are considered equally-weighted, secondary goals. These goals 
include to (1) improve the documentation of catch, (2) reduce cost of 
monitoring, (3) incentivize reducing discards, (4) provide additional 
data streams for stock assessments, (5) enhance safety of monitoring 
program, and (6) perform periodic review of monitoring program 
effectiveness. Specific objectives are described in detail in FW 55. 
The Council may change the goals and/or objectives of the at-sea 
monitoring program in this action.
    Lastly, vessel position data is provided through a Vessel 
Monitoring System. This data stream provides vessel positions about 
once each hour using a satellite-based tracking system and can be used 
to report fishing activity (such as changing a trip type) while at sea 
and to enforce compliance with time and area closures.
    The Council will consider changes to the monitoring and reporting 
system to ensure it is providing accurate catch information necessary 
to manage the fishery efficiently. This could include a wide range of 
alternatives to tracking sector/vessel specific discards, such as 
setting total allowable landings and monitoring fishery-wide discards 
through the observer program. In recent years, most Council discussions 
have focused on at-sea observer coverage because it provides the 
highest quality data, but it is expensive, and given the current low 
quotas in the fishery, the high cost of at-sea monitoring is difficult

[[Page 11013]]

for many fishermen to afford. There are also questions about the 
accurate representation of the information, since there is evidence 
that fishing behavior may be different on observed and unobserved 
trips. For these reasons, the Council may explore alternatives to at-
sea observers, such as using cameras to monitor fishing activity, which 
is usually referred to as Electronic Monitoring, or EM. The Council 
also may consider changes to the way landings information is provided 
by both dealers and vessel operators and how it is assigned to stock 
areas. When developing this amendment, the Council will take into 
account other regional projects to improve catch monitoring, such as 
the Fishery Dependent Data Visioning project that NMFS is pursuing. In 
summary, the Council may consider changes to any part of the system 
used to collect and report commercial catch information in the 
Northeast multispecies fishery.
    At its September 2016 meeting, the Council identified that the 
purpose of this amendment will be to adjust the groundfish monitoring 
program to improve reliability and accountability. The Council's 
Groundfish Oversight Committee and the Council will identify the goal 
and objectives of the amendment following the scoping period and will 
then develop alternatives to achieve the goal and objectives. Following 
input from the Committee and the public, the Council will select a 
range of alternatives to improve the monitoring and reporting system.

Public Comment

    All persons affected by or otherwise interested in Northeast 
multispecies management are invited to participate in commenting on the 
scope and significance of issues to be analyzed by submitting written 
comments (see ADDRESSES) or by attending one of the six scoping 
meetings, including one webinar, for this amendment. Scoping consists 
of identifying the range of actions, alternatives, and possible impacts 
to be considered. At this time, the Council believes that it may 
consider changing any aspect of the existing groundfish monitoring and 
reporting system. After the scoping process is completed, the Council 
will begin development of Amendment 23 and will prepare an EIS to 
analyze the impacts of the range of alternatives for changing the 
monitoring and reporting system. The Council will hold public hearings 
to receive comments on the draft amendment and on the analysis of its 
impacts presented in the Draft EIS.
    The Council will take and discuss scoping comments on this 
amendment at the following public meetings:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Date and time                          Location
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rockland, ME, Friday, March 3,      Samoset Resort, 220 Warrenton
 2017, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.          Street, Rockport, ME 04856.
Via Webinar, Tuesday, March 14,     Webinar Hearing, Register to
 2017, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.           participate: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4567763108442151939 4567763108442151939 Call in info:
                                     Toll: +1 (415) 930-5321 Access
                                     Code: 702-360-151.
Portsmouth, NH, Tuesday, March 21,  Portsmouth Library, 175 Parrott
 2017, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.           Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801.
Gloucester, MA, Tuesday, March 21,  NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional
 2017, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.           Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic
                                     Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
Plymouth, MA, Wednesday, March 22,  Hilton Garden Inn, 4 Home Depot
 2017, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.           Drive, Plymouth, MA 02360.
Groton, CT, Thursday, March 23,     Hilton Garden Inn, 224 Gold Star
 2017, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.           Highway, Groton, CT. 06340.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Special Accommodations

    The meetings are accessible to people with physical disabilities. 
Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids 
should be directed to Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least five days 
prior to this meeting date.

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

    Dated: February 14, 2017.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-03236 Filed 2-16-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P