Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Golden Tilefish Fishery; 2018 and Projected 2019-2020 Specifications, 42266-42268 [2017-18958]

Download as PDF 42266 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 172 / Thursday, September 7, 2017 / Proposed Rules Notice 2 and a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in connection with the 700 MHz Second Report and Order.3 While no commenter directly responded to the IRFA, the FRFA addressed concerns about the impact on small business of the KWYS rules. The IRFA and FRFA set forth the need for and objectives of the Commission’s rules for the KWYS rules; the legal basis for those rules, a description and estimate of the number of small entities to which the rules apply; a description of projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements for small entities; steps taken to minimize the significant economic impact on small entities and significant alternatives considered; and a statement that there are no federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the rules. The proposals in this document do not change any of those descriptions. This document does, however, detail proposed procedures for implementing those rules. Therefore, this document seeks comment on how the proposals in this document could affect either the IRFA or the FRFA. Such comments must be filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines for responses to this document and have a separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the IRFA and FRFA. Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS The document contains proposed new information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and OMB to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by PRA. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107–198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it might ‘‘further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.’’ Federal Communications Commission. Nese Guendelsberger, Senior Deputy Bureau Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. [FR Doc. 2017–18987 Filed 9–6–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P 2 Service Rules for 698–746, 747–762, and 777– 792 MHz Bands et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 8064, 8212 (2007) (700 MHz Further Notice). 3 700 MHz Second Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 15542. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:40 Sep 06, 2017 Jkt 241001 and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov National Oceanic and Atmospheric without change. All personal identifying Administration information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or 50 CFR Part 648 otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will [Docket No. 170717675–7675–01] be publicly accessible. NMFS will RIN 0648–XF571 accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to Fisheries of the Northeastern United remain anonymous). States; Golden Tilefish Fishery; 2018 A draft environmental assessment and Projected 2019–2020 (EA) has been prepared for this action Specifications that describes the proposed measures and other considered alternatives, as AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries well as provides an analysis of the Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and impacts of the proposed measures and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), alternatives. Copies of the specifications Commerce. document, including the EA and the ACTION: Proposed rule; request for Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis comments. (IRFA), are available on request from Dr. SUMMARY: NMFS proposes specifications Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery for the 2018 commercial golden tilefish Management Council, Suite 201, 800 fishery and projected specifications for North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. 2019 and 2020. The proposed action is These documents are also accessible via intended to establish allowable harvest the Internet at http://www.mafmc.org. levels and other management measures FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: to prevent overfishing while allowing Cynthia Hanson, Fishery Management optimum yield, consistent with the Specialist, (978) 281–9180. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. Background It is also intended to inform the public of these proposed specifications for the The golden tilefish fishery is managed 2018 fishing year and projected by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery specifications for 2019–2020. Management Council under the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which DATES: Comments must be received by outlines the Council’s process for 5 p.m. local time, on September 22, establishing annual specifications. The 2017. FMP requires the Council to recommend ADDRESSES: You may submit comments acceptable biological catch (ABC), on this document, identified by NOAA– annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch NMFS–2017–0091, by either of the target (ACT), total allowable landings following methods: (TAL), and other management measures, ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION: Submit for up to three years at a time. The all electronic public comments via the directed fishery is managed under an Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ with small amounts of non-IFQ catch #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017allowed under an incidental permit. The 0091, Council’s Scientific and Statistical 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, Committee (SSC) provides an ABC complete the required fields. recommendation to the Council to 3. Enter or attach your comments. derive these catch limits. The Council - OR makes recommendations to NMFS that cannot exceed the recommendation of MAIL: Submit written comments to its SSC. The Council’s John Bullard, Regional Administrator, recommendations must include National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 supporting documentation concerning Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA the environmental, economic, and social 01930. Mark the outside of the impacts of the recommendations. We envelope: ‘‘Comments on the Proposed are responsible for reviewing these Rule for Golden Tilefish recommendations to ensure that they Specifications.’’ achieve the FMP objectives and are INSTRUCTIONS: Comments sent by consistent with all applicable laws, and any other method, to any other address may modify them if they do not. or individual, or received after the end Following review, NMFS publishes the of the comment period, may not be final specifications in the Federal considered by NMFS. All comments Register. received are part of the public record DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\07SEP1.SGM 07SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 172 / Thursday, September 7, 2017 / Proposed Rules In January 2014, the 58th Northeast Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) declared the golden tilefish stock rebuilt and concluded that overfishing is not occurring. A stock assessment update with data through 2016 is currently in development, but the 58th SAW is still the most up to date and best available science for the Council to use in its decision-making on these golden tilefish specifications. Based on this report, and the ABC recommendations made by the Council’s SSC, the Council took final action April 2017 on 2018–2020 quota specifications for the golden tilefish fishery, and submitted its recommended specifications to us on July 5, 2017. A summary of the Council’s recommended specifications is shown below in Table 1. Proposed Specifications The Council’s recommendations are consistent with the SSC’s recommended ABCs, and represent a reduction in ABC and overall commercial quota from 2017 to ensure overfishing does not occur. The proposed IFQ quota of 1,554,038 lb 42267 (705 mt) is a 13-percent reduction from 2017, and the incidental quota of 72,397 lb (33 mt) is a 23-percent reduction. The proposed incidental sector typically lands less than half of its allocated quota each year, so this larger reduction is unlikely to have a significant impact. As golden tilefish are not overfished or experiencing overfishing, the reduction in the quotas is a result of the SSC applying the Council’s risk policy to the most recent assessment outputs to derive its ABC recommendation. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDED GOLDEN TILEFISH SPECIFICATIONS 2018 million lb pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS Overfishing Limit ...................................... ABC .......................................................... ACL .......................................................... IFQ ACT ................................................... Incidental ACT ......................................... IFQ TAL ................................................... Incidental TAL .......................................... IFQ Quota ................................................ Incidental Quota ....................................... 2.332 1.636 1.636 1.554 0.082 1.554 0.072 1.554 0.072 As in recent years, the Council recommended ABC=ACL=ACT. The TAL is derived by deducting anticipated discards of tilefish from the ACT. Under the FMP, 95 percent of the TAL is allocated for the IFQ fishery, and the remaining 5 percent is allocated for the incidental fishery. Prior to 2018, ACTs and TALs were specified at the overall commercial level, with the IFQ fishery and incidental fishery combined. Framework Adjustment 2 to the Tilefish FMP is being developed concurrently with these specifications, and modifies this system to allow discards to be deducted from the specific component of the commercial sector (IFQ fishery or incidental fishery) where they were generated. The Council made recommendations based on the new process being developed under Framework 2, so that IFQ and incidental specific category discards are used, allowing for more specific adjustments to the commercial sector. This also divides the ACT and TAL between IFQ and incidental categories within the specifications. Framework 2 is still in development, and a proposed rule outlining the new measures is expected soon. Because Framework 2 will be implemented before this action is finalized, we are proposing to use the Framework 2 measures for the 2018– 2020 specifications. The golden tilefish industry strongly supports consistency in annual harvest quotas, and has operated under a VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:40 Sep 06, 2017 Jkt 241001 2019 mt million lb 1,058 742 742 705 37 705 33 705 33 2020 mt 2.421 1.636 1.636 1.554 0.082 1.554 0.072 1.554 0.072 million lb 1,098 742 742 705 37 705 33 705 33 2.291 1.636 1.636 1.554 0.082 1.554 0.072 1.554 0.072 mt 1,039 742 742 705 37 705 33 705 33 constant landings strategy since 2001. Continuing this strategy, the Council opted to recommend the same quota for the 2018–2020 period, with the understanding that the specifications will be reviewed on an annual basis. We are proposing the 2018 specifications along with the projected specifications for 2019 and 2020 so that the public is aware of the likely values for those years. We will publish a notice in the Federal Register prior to each fishing year to confirm or announce any necessary changes to the specifications for 2019 and 2020. The Council did not recommend changes to other regulations for this fishery. We propose, based on this recommendation, that all other management measures in the golden tilefish fishery will remain unchanged for the 2018–2020 fishing years. The incidental trip limit will stay 500 lb (226.8 kg) (live weight), and the recreational catch limit will remain eight fish per angler per trip. Annual IFQ allocations will be issued to individual quota shareholders in midOctober, ahead of the November 1 start of the fishing year. Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule is exempt from the procedures of E.O. 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations. The Council prepared a draft EA for this action that analyzes the impacts of this proposed rule. The EA includes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is supplemented by information contained in the preamble of this proposed rule. The IRFA was prepared to further evaluate the economic impacts of the various alternatives presented in this document on small business entities. A description of the specifications, why they are being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section and in the preamble to this proposed rule. A copy of the detailed RFA analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the 2018–2020 golden tilefish specifications RFA analysis follows. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MagnusonStevens Act), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Tilefish FMP, other provisions of the Description of the Reasons Why Action Is Being Considered PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 This action proposes management measures, including annual catch limits and commercial quotas, for the 2018– 2020 golden tilefish fishery. The measures are consistent with the best scientific information available and the E:\FR\FM\07SEP1.SGM 07SEP1 42268 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 172 / Thursday, September 7, 2017 / Proposed Rules most recent catch limit recommendations of the Council’s SSC to prevent overfishing and achieve optimum yield in the fishery. The golden tilefish fishery successfully functions under an IFQ management program, which provides substantial benefits to fishery participants, and requires the annual specification of quotas. Another critical function of this action is to prevent overfishing and obtain the optimal yield, as mentioned earlier. Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule This action is taken under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and regulations at 50 CFR part 648. A complete description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the specifications document, and elsewhere in the preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which This Proposed Rule Would Apply pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS This proposed rule affects small entities engaged in commercial fishing operations with Federal tilefish permits. For the purposes of the RFA analysis, the ownership entities (or firms), not the individual vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities. Ownership entities are defined as those entities or firms with common ownership personnel as listed on the permit application. Because of this, some vessels with golden tilefish permits may be considered to be part of the same firm because they may have the same owners. To identify these small and large firms, vessel ownership data from the permit database were grouped according to common owners and sorted by size. In terms of RFA, a business primarily engaged in commercial fishing is classified as a small business if it has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million, for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The current ownership data set used for this analysis is based on calendar year 2016 (the most recent complete year available) and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:40 Sep 06, 2017 Jkt 241001 2014 through 2016. According to the commercial ownership database, 148 affiliate firms landed golden tilefish during the 2014–2016 period, with 145 of those business affiliates categorized as small business and three categorized as large business. Description of the Projected Reporting, Record-Keeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of This Proposed Rule There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained in any of the alternatives considered for this action. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This Proposed Rule NMFS is not aware of any relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities This action proposes to set a commercial golden tilefish quota of 1.626 million lb (738 mt)—1.554 million lb (705 mt) of IFQ, 72,397 lb (33 mt) of incidental—for 2018–2020. Under this preferred alternative (Alternative 1), it is expected that the overall revenue reduction would be less than one percent for the approximately 145 small entities impacted by the decrease in golden tilefish quota when compared to average revenues generated during the 2014–2016 period. There is the possibility of an increase in the price for golden tilefish given the potential decrease in landings, which could mitigate some of the revenue loss associated with lower quotas, but is not guaranteed. Industry members have indicated that having consistent quota levels from year to year is favorable, and translates into price and supply stability in the fishery. There were two alternatives (Alternative 2 and Alternative 3) to the proposed action (Alternative 1) considered by the Council. Alternative 2 is the status quo alternative, and PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 maintains the previous year’s commercial quotas of 1.793 million lb (813 mt) for the IFQ fishery and 94,357 lb (43 mt) for the incidental fishery (total commercial quota of 1.887 million lb or 856 mt). Under this alternative, commercial landings and revenues for golden tilefish would be expected to be the same relative to 2017. Alternative 3 would set 2018–2020 commercial golden tilefish quotas at 1.505 million lb (683 mt), 1.717 million lb (779 mt), and 1.657 million lb (752 mt), respectively. While they represent similar overall quota reductions over the three-year period, Alternative 3 is nonpreferred to Alternative 1 because of its inconsistency in the annual quotas, which could lead to instability in pricing and supply in the fishery. The Council recommended these proposed specifications (Alternative 1) over Alternatives 2 and 3 to satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements to ensure fish stocks are not subject to overfishing, while allowing quota stability, which the tilefish industry considers important in order to promote stability in price and supply in the marketplace. Alternative 2 was not recommended by the Council because it would exceed the catch level recommendations of the Council’s SSC, and would be inconsistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Alternative 3 was not selected because it would not support the consistency of quota/landings from year to year that the tilefish industry considers important to maintaining price and supply stability in this fishery. NMFS agrees with the Council’s IRFA analysis and rationale for recommending these catch limits. As such, NMFS is proposing to implement the Council’s preferred ABCs, ACLs, ACTs, and commercial quotas, as presented in Table 1 of this proposed rule’s preamble. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 31, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–18958 Filed 9–6–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\07SEP1.SGM 07SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 172 (Thursday, September 7, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 42266-42268]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-18958]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 170717675-7675-01]
RIN 0648-XF571


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Golden Tilefish 
Fishery; 2018 and Projected 2019-2020 Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes specifications for the 2018 commercial golden 
tilefish fishery and projected specifications for 2019 and 2020. The 
proposed action is intended to establish allowable harvest levels and 
other management measures to prevent overfishing while allowing optimum 
yield, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act and the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. It is also 
intended to inform the public of these proposed specifications for the 
2018 fishing year and projected specifications for 2019-2020.

DATES: Comments must be received by 5 p.m. local time, on September 22, 
2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2017-0091, by either of the following methods:
    ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0091,
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields.
    3. Enter or attach your comments.

- OR -

    MAIL: Submit written comments to John Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: 
``Comments on the Proposed Rule for Golden Tilefish Specifications.''
    INSTRUCTIONS: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    A draft environmental assessment (EA) has been prepared for this 
action that describes the proposed measures and other considered 
alternatives, as well as provides an analysis of the impacts of the 
proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of the specifications 
document, including the EA and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA), are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. 
Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 
Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. These documents are 
also accessible via the Internet at http://www.mafmc.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Hanson, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9180.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The golden tilefish fishery is managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council under the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), 
which outlines the Council's process for establishing annual 
specifications. The FMP requires the Council to recommend acceptable 
biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target 
(ACT), total allowable landings (TAL), and other management measures, 
for up to three years at a time. The directed fishery is managed under 
an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, with small amounts of non-
IFQ catch allowed under an incidental permit. The Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC) provides an ABC recommendation to the 
Council to derive these catch limits. The Council makes recommendations 
to NMFS that cannot exceed the recommendation of its SSC. The Council's 
recommendations must include supporting documentation concerning the 
environmental, economic, and social impacts of the recommendations. We 
are responsible for reviewing these recommendations to ensure that they 
achieve the FMP objectives and are consistent with all applicable laws, 
and may modify them if they do not. Following review, NMFS publishes 
the final specifications in the Federal Register.

[[Page 42267]]

    In January 2014, the 58th Northeast Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) 
declared the golden tilefish stock rebuilt and concluded that 
overfishing is not occurring. A stock assessment update with data 
through 2016 is currently in development, but the 58th SAW is still the 
most up to date and best available science for the Council to use in 
its decision-making on these golden tilefish specifications. Based on 
this report, and the ABC recommendations made by the Council's SSC, the 
Council took final action April 2017 on 2018-2020 quota specifications 
for the golden tilefish fishery, and submitted its recommended 
specifications to us on July 5, 2017. A summary of the Council's 
recommended specifications is shown below in Table 1.

Proposed Specifications

    The Council's recommendations are consistent with the SSC's 
recommended ABCs, and represent a reduction in ABC and overall 
commercial quota from 2017 to ensure overfishing does not occur. The 
proposed IFQ quota of 1,554,038 lb (705 mt) is a 13-percent reduction 
from 2017, and the incidental quota of 72,397 lb (33 mt) is a 23-
percent reduction. The proposed incidental sector typically lands less 
than half of its allocated quota each year, so this larger reduction is 
unlikely to have a significant impact. As golden tilefish are not 
overfished or experiencing overfishing, the reduction in the quotas is 
a result of the SSC applying the Council's risk policy to the most 
recent assessment outputs to derive its ABC recommendation.

                                             Table 1--Summary of Recommended Golden Tilefish Specifications
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2018                            2019                            2020
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            million lb          mt          million lb          mt          million lb          mt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit.......................................           2.332           1,058           2.421           1,098           2.291           1,039
ABC.....................................................           1.636             742           1.636             742           1.636             742
ACL.....................................................           1.636             742           1.636             742           1.636             742
IFQ ACT.................................................           1.554             705           1.554             705           1.554             705
Incidental ACT..........................................           0.082              37           0.082              37           0.082              37
IFQ TAL.................................................           1.554             705           1.554             705           1.554             705
Incidental TAL..........................................           0.072              33           0.072              33           0.072              33
IFQ Quota...............................................           1.554             705           1.554             705           1.554             705
Incidental Quota........................................           0.072              33           0.072              33           0.072              33
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As in recent years, the Council recommended ABC=ACL=ACT. The TAL is 
derived by deducting anticipated discards of tilefish from the ACT. 
Under the FMP, 95 percent of the TAL is allocated for the IFQ fishery, 
and the remaining 5 percent is allocated for the incidental fishery. 
Prior to 2018, ACTs and TALs were specified at the overall commercial 
level, with the IFQ fishery and incidental fishery combined. Framework 
Adjustment 2 to the Tilefish FMP is being developed concurrently with 
these specifications, and modifies this system to allow discards to be 
deducted from the specific component of the commercial sector (IFQ 
fishery or incidental fishery) where they were generated. The Council 
made recommendations based on the new process being developed under 
Framework 2, so that IFQ and incidental specific category discards are 
used, allowing for more specific adjustments to the commercial sector. 
This also divides the ACT and TAL between IFQ and incidental categories 
within the specifications. Framework 2 is still in development, and a 
proposed rule outlining the new measures is expected soon. Because 
Framework 2 will be implemented before this action is finalized, we are 
proposing to use the Framework 2 measures for the 2018-2020 
specifications.
    The golden tilefish industry strongly supports consistency in 
annual harvest quotas, and has operated under a constant landings 
strategy since 2001. Continuing this strategy, the Council opted to 
recommend the same quota for the 2018-2020 period, with the 
understanding that the specifications will be reviewed on an annual 
basis. We are proposing the 2018 specifications along with the 
projected specifications for 2019 and 2020 so that the public is aware 
of the likely values for those years. We will publish a notice in the 
Federal Register prior to each fishing year to confirm or announce any 
necessary changes to the specifications for 2019 and 2020. The Council 
did not recommend changes to other regulations for this fishery. We 
propose, based on this recommendation, that all other management 
measures in the golden tilefish fishery will remain unchanged for the 
2018-2020 fishing years. The incidental trip limit will stay 500 lb 
(226.8 kg) (live weight), and the recreational catch limit will remain 
eight fish per angler per trip. Annual IFQ allocations will be issued 
to individual quota shareholders in mid-October, ahead of the November 
1 start of the fishing year.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Tilefish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration 
after public comment.
    This proposed rule is exempt from the procedures of E.O. 12866 
because this action contains no implementing regulations.
    The Council prepared a draft EA for this action that analyzes the 
impacts of this proposed rule. The EA includes an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis (IRFA), as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is supplemented by information 
contained in the preamble of this proposed rule. The IRFA was prepared 
to further evaluate the economic impacts of the various alternatives 
presented in this document on small business entities. A description of 
the specifications, why they are being considered, and the legal basis 
for this action are contained at the beginning of this section and in 
the preamble to this proposed rule. A copy of the detailed RFA analysis 
is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the 2018-
2020 golden tilefish specifications RFA analysis follows.

Description of the Reasons Why Action Is Being Considered

    This action proposes management measures, including annual catch 
limits and commercial quotas, for the 2018-2020 golden tilefish 
fishery. The measures are consistent with the best scientific 
information available and the

[[Page 42268]]

most recent catch limit recommendations of the Council's SSC to prevent 
overfishing and achieve optimum yield in the fishery. The golden 
tilefish fishery successfully functions under an IFQ management 
program, which provides substantial benefits to fishery participants, 
and requires the annual specification of quotas. Another critical 
function of this action is to prevent overfishing and obtain the 
optimal yield, as mentioned earlier.

Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule

    This action is taken under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and regulations at 50 CFR part 648. A complete description of the 
action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action 
are contained in the specifications document, and elsewhere in the 
preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which This 
Proposed Rule Would Apply

    This proposed rule affects small entities engaged in commercial 
fishing operations with Federal tilefish permits. For the purposes of 
the RFA analysis, the ownership entities (or firms), not the individual 
vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities. Ownership 
entities are defined as those entities or firms with common ownership 
personnel as listed on the permit application. Because of this, some 
vessels with golden tilefish permits may be considered to be part of 
the same firm because they may have the same owners. To identify these 
small and large firms, vessel ownership data from the permit database 
were grouped according to common owners and sorted by size. In terms of 
RFA, a business primarily engaged in commercial fishing is classified 
as a small business if it has combined annual receipts not in excess of 
$11 million, for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The current 
ownership data set used for this analysis is based on calendar year 
2016 (the most recent complete year available) and contains average 
gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2014 
through 2016. According to the commercial ownership database, 148 
affiliate firms landed golden tilefish during the 2014-2016 period, 
with 145 of those business affiliates categorized as small business and 
three categorized as large business.

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

    There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained 
in any of the alternatives considered for this action.

Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This 
Proposed Rule

    NMFS is not aware of any relevant Federal rules that may duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which 
Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which 
Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities

    This action proposes to set a commercial golden tilefish quota of 
1.626 million lb (738 mt)--1.554 million lb (705 mt) of IFQ, 72,397 lb 
(33 mt) of incidental--for 2018-2020. Under this preferred alternative 
(Alternative 1), it is expected that the overall revenue reduction 
would be less than one percent for the approximately 145 small entities 
impacted by the decrease in golden tilefish quota when compared to 
average revenues generated during the 2014-2016 period. There is the 
possibility of an increase in the price for golden tilefish given the 
potential decrease in landings, which could mitigate some of the 
revenue loss associated with lower quotas, but is not guaranteed. 
Industry members have indicated that having consistent quota levels 
from year to year is favorable, and translates into price and supply 
stability in the fishery.
    There were two alternatives (Alternative 2 and Alternative 3) to 
the proposed action (Alternative 1) considered by the Council. 
Alternative 2 is the status quo alternative, and maintains the previous 
year's commercial quotas of 1.793 million lb (813 mt) for the IFQ 
fishery and 94,357 lb (43 mt) for the incidental fishery (total 
commercial quota of 1.887 million lb or 856 mt). Under this 
alternative, commercial landings and revenues for golden tilefish would 
be expected to be the same relative to 2017.
    Alternative 3 would set 2018-2020 commercial golden tilefish quotas 
at 1.505 million lb (683 mt), 1.717 million lb (779 mt), and 1.657 
million lb (752 mt), respectively. While they represent similar overall 
quota reductions over the three-year period, Alternative 3 is non-
preferred to Alternative 1 because of its inconsistency in the annual 
quotas, which could lead to instability in pricing and supply in the 
fishery.
    The Council recommended these proposed specifications (Alternative 
1) over Alternatives 2 and 3 to satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
requirements to ensure fish stocks are not subject to overfishing, 
while allowing quota stability, which the tilefish industry considers 
important in order to promote stability in price and supply in the 
marketplace. Alternative 2 was not recommended by the Council because 
it would exceed the catch level recommendations of the Council's SSC, 
and would be inconsistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. Alternative 3 was not selected because it would not support the 
consistency of quota/landings from year to year that the tilefish 
industry considers important to maintaining price and supply stability 
in this fishery. NMFS agrees with the Council's IRFA analysis and 
rationale for recommending these catch limits. As such, NMFS is 
proposing to implement the Council's preferred ABCs, ACLs, ACTs, and 
commercial quotas, as presented in Table 1 of this proposed rule's 
preamble.

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

    Dated: August 31, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-18958 Filed 9-6-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P