Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures; Amendment 46, 44551-44554 [2017-20351]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 184 / Monday, September 25, 2017 / Proposed Rules The PCE levels in the groundwater at all wells are currently below the MCL. Thus, the remedial action objectives have been attained and the human health exposure pathways have been eliminated. A Preliminary Close Out Report documenting the completion of construction activities was signed by EPA on September 25, 1998. The Site was identified as ‘‘Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use’’ on September 28, 2012. A Final Close Out Report documenting completion of all remedial activities was signed by EPA on April 27, 2017. asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Cleanup Levels The 1998 ROD requires treatment and monitoring until the PCE concentrations in groundwater at all production wells are below the MCL. As there have been no changes to the federal or state drinking water standards for PCE or changes in the toxicity factors for PCE since the ROD was issued, this cleanup level remains protective of human health and the environment. In April 2017 the EPA reviewed the monitoring data and found that PCE concentrations at 11 of the 12 production wells had been below the cleanup level of 5 mg/L since 2013. A further statistical analysis of data collected from the other well indicated a downward trend and a 95% Upper Confidence Level of 4.41 mg/L, below the cleanup level of 5 mg/L. Based on this evaluation, EPA determined that all remedial activities at the Site were complete, remedial action objectives had been achieved and the use of the treatment system was no longer required for the CERCLA remedy. All drinking water delivered from the wellfield must continue to meet the requirements of the SDWA. Five-Year Review Three policy five-year reviews have been completed at the Site, the last one in September 2013. No issues or follow-up actions were identified as part of the 2013 Five Year Review. The protectiveness statement stated ‘‘The remedy at Vancouver WS1 is protective of human health and the environment because the treatment system is functioning as intended and human and ecological risks are under control. Long-term protectiveness of the remedial action will be verified by regular monitoring by the City of Vancouver.’’ The analysis conducted since the last FYR indicates that the remedy has been fully implemented and the remedial action objectives and related cleanup levels have been attained. No hazardous VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Sep 22, 2017 Jkt 241001 substances, pollutants or contaminants remain above levels that could prevent unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. Therefore, no further five-year reviews are required. Public participation activities have been satisfied as required in CERCLA Section 113(k), 42 U.S.C. 9613(k) and CERCLA Section 117, 42 U.S.C. 9617. Throughout the remedial process, the EPA has kept the public informed of activities being conducted at the Site by way of informational meetings, fact sheets and public meetings. Documents in the deletion docket which the EPA relied on for the recommendation for deletion from the NPL are available to the public at the information repositories identified previously. A notice of availability of the Notice of Intent for Deletion has been published in The Columbian. Determination That the Site Meets the Criteria for Deletion in the NCP The EPA, with concurrence of the State of Washington through the Department of Ecology, has determined that the implemented remedy achieves the degree of cleanup or protection specified in the ROD for all pathways of exposure. All selected remedial and removal action objectives and associated cleanup levels are consistent with agency policy and guidance. No further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where all appropriate response actions have been implemented and where no further response is appropriate. Consistent with this, the EPA is proposing deletion of this Site from the NPL. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous waste, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply. Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601–9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p. 306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p. 351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193. Dated: August 25, 2017. Sheryl Bilbrey, Director—Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup. [FR Doc. 2017–20449 Filed 9–22–17; 8:45 am] PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 Community Involvement BILLING CODE 6560–50–P 44551 [Docket No. 170505465–7465–01] RIN 0648–BG87 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures; Amendment 46 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 46 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) (Amendment 46). For gray triggerfish, this proposed rule would revise the recreational fixed closed season, recreational bag limit, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit. Additionally, Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding time period for the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) gray triggerfish stock. The purpose of this proposed rule is to implement management measures to assist in rebuilding the Gulf gray triggerfish stock and achieve optimum yield (OY). DATES: Written comments must be received on or before October 25, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2017–0080’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170080, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 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 a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\25SEP1.SGM 25SEP1 44552 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 184 / Monday, September 25, 2017 / Proposed Rules 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). Electronic copies of Amendment 46, which includes an environmental assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/ am46_gray_trigger/documents/pdfs/ gulf_reef_am46_gray_trigg_final.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727–824– 5305; email: Lauren.Waters@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gray triggerfish, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MagnusonStevens Act) (16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.). Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks. These mandates are intended to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. To further this goal, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires fishery managers to rebuild overfished stocks. asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Status of the Gray Triggerfish Stock The first Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) benchmark stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed in 2006 (SEDAR 9). SEDAR 9 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was both overfished and possibly undergoing overfishing. Subsequently, Amendment 30A to the FMP established a gray triggerfish rebuilding plan beginning in the 2008 fishing year (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). In 2011, a SEDAR 9 update stock assessment for gray triggerfish determined that the gray triggerfish stock was still overfished and was undergoing overfishing, and had not made adequate progress toward VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Sep 22, 2017 Jkt 241001 rebuilding. As a result of the SEDAR 9 update and to end overfishing, the final rule for Amendment 37 to the FMP revised the gray triggerfish commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs) and annual catch targets (ACTs), revised the gray triggerfish recreational sector accountability measures (AMs), revised the gray triggerfish recreational bag limit, established a commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish, and established a fixed closed season for the gray triggerfish commercial and recreational sectors (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). Additionally, Amendment 37 revised the rebuilding plan and projected that the stock would be rebuilt in 5 years, or by the end of 2017 fishing year. Since implementation of Amendment 37 in 2013, commercial harvest has not exceeded the commercial ACL, while the recreational sector has exceeded the recreational ACL or adjusted recreational ACL (that resulted from a ACL overage adjustment) in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 fishing years. The most recent stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed and reviewed by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in October 2015 (SEDAR 43). SEDAR 43 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was not experiencing overfishing but remained overfished and would not be rebuilt by the end of 2017 as previously projected. On November 2, 2015, NMFS notified the Council that the gray triggerfish stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding, and the Council subsequently began development of Amendment 46 to establish a new rebuilding time period and other management measures to achieve OY and rebuild the stock. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule For gray triggerfish, this proposed rule would revise the recreational fixed closed season, recreational bag limit, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit. NMFS and the Council are proposing the changes to the recreational management measures to help constrain recreational landings to the recreational ACT to avoid triggering accountability measures (AMs) resulting in an in-season closure or post-season payback that would occur if landings exceed the recreational ACL. NMFS and the Council are proposing the increase in the commercial trip limit to allow those commercial fishermen who encounter gray triggerfish to harvest more fish per trip while continuing to constrain commercial landings to the commercial ACT. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Recreational Seasonal Closure The current recreational seasonal closure for gray triggerfish in the Gulf is from June 1 through July 31, and was established in Amendment 37 to protect gray triggerfish during the peak spawning season and help constrain landings to the recreational ACT (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). However, as explained above, recreational landings have exceed the recreational ACL or adjusted ACL the last 4 years. This proposed rule would establish an additional recreational fixed closed season for gray triggerfish from January 1 through the end of February, which is expected to reduce recreational landings and help rebuild the stock within the rebuilding time period established in Amendment 46. Recreational Bag Limit The current recreational bag limit was set in Amendment 37 and is a 2-fish per person per day limit within the overall 20-fish aggregate reef fish bag limit. This proposed rule would reduce the recreational gray triggerfish bag limit to 1 fish per person per day within the 20fish aggregate reef fish bag limit. As described in Amendment 46, from 2013 through 2015, approximately 10 percent of recreational trips with reef fish landings harvested 2 gray triggerfish within the 20-fish aggregate bag limit. NMFS expects the proposed change to the bag limit to reduce recreational landings by 15 percent, which will help constrain harvest to the recreational ACT to allow the sector to remain open through the end of the fishing year. Recreational Size Limit The current recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish is 14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length (FL), and was established in Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). The proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit to 15 inches (38.1 cm), FL. Increasing the recreational minimum size limit would increase the gray triggerfish spawning potential by maintaining larger-sized fish, which are more fecund, in the stock, and is expected to help slow recreational harvest. Commercial Trip Limit The current commercial trip limit is 12 fish per trip, and was established in Amendment 37 to help constrain commercial harvest to the commercial ACT and avoid an in-season closure as a result of the AMs being triggered (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). This proposed rule would increase the trip limit to 16 fish per trip. E:\FR\FM\25SEP1.SGM 25SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 184 / Monday, September 25, 2017 / Proposed Rules As described in Amendment 46, since implementation of the 12 fish commercial trip limit in 2013, commercial landings have been consistently below the commercial ACT. Analysis of commercial trips demonstrated that 80 percent of trips caught 10 gray triggerfish or less. This indicates that gray triggerfish is primarily a non-target species by the commercial sector and that increasing the commercial trip limit would likely result in only a small change in the weight projected to be landed during a fishing year. However, increasing the commercial trip limit would allow those fishermen who encounter the species the opportunity to harvest more fish. This would help achieve OY for the stock while continuing to constrain commercial landings to the commercial ACT. asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Measures in Amendment 46 Not in This Proposed Rule In addition to the measures proposed to be implemented through this proposed rule, Amendment 46 contains actions to set a rebuilding timeframe and to consider alternatives for the commercial and recreational ACTs and ACLs. Rebuilding Time Period and Commercial and Recreational ACTs and ACLs Amendment 37 established a 5-year rebuilding time period, expiring in 2017, and the current gray triggerfish commercial and recreational ACTs and ACLs. The current commercial ACT is 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), round weight, and the commercial ACL is 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight. The current recreational ACT is 217,000 lb (98,475 kg), round weight, and the recreational ACL is 242,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight. Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding time period for the Gulf gray triggerfish stock as a result of the stock status determined through SEDAR 43, and maintain the current commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs. The Council’s SSC reviewed SEDAR 43 and recommended alternative rebuilding time periods of 8, 9, or 10 years and the acceptable biological catch (ABC) yield streams for each period. There is a 60 percent probability of rebuilding the stock within these time periods if landings are appropriately constrained to the recommended catch levels. In Amendment 46, the Council considered these rebuilding time periods and their associated catch levels, as well as a 6-year period, which would be the time needed to rebuild the stock in the absence of fishing mortality. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Sep 22, 2017 Jkt 241001 The Council determined that the 9-year rebuilding time period was as short as possible, taking into account the status and biology of the stock and the needs of the associated fishing communities. Although the ABC recommendation associated with the 9-year time period allowed for an increase in harvest, the Council chose to adopt a more conservative approach and maintain the current commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs for gray triggerfish that were set through the final rule for Amendment 37 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification follows. A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for this proposed rule are contained in the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. This proposed rule would directly affect commercial and recreational fishing for gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters. Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined in the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601(6)). Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers directly affected by the rule and the impacts on them are not provided here. NMFS estimates an average of 223 commercial fishing vessels harvest gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters annually, and the number of businesses that own these vessels ranges from 166 to 223. The average vessel harvested 164 lb (74.4 kg), gutted weight, of gray triggerfish annually with a dockside value of $331 (2015 dollars), and that average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all landings is $158,804 (2015 dollars). For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44553 affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the average annual revenue for a vessel that lands gray triggerfish, it is concluded that most to all of the businesses that harvest gray triggerfish from the Gulf are small businesses. Amendment 46 would establish a rebuilding time period of 9 years or by the end of 2025, and this revised time period would have no direct impact on any small business. The proposed rule would retain the current commercial ACL and commercial ACT for gray triggerfish, which have been in effect since 2013 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013). These status quo measures would have no additional impact on any small business. The proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish. A 12-fish trip limit has been in effect since 2013, and this proposed rule would allow for up to four more gray triggerfish to be landed per trip. The average weight of a commercially sized gray triggerfish is estimated to be 4.113 lb (1.866 kg), gutted weight. In 2015, the average dockside price of gray triggerfish was $2.12 per pound, gutted weight. At that price, the proposed rule could increase dockside revenue to as much as $34.88 per trip. It is estimated that the average annual beneficial impact would range from $0 to $135 per vessel, which represents from 0.00 percent to 0.08 percent of the average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all landings. Therefore, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray triggerfish, Gulf, Recreational. Dated: September 18, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: E:\FR\FM\25SEP1.SGM 25SEP1 44554 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 184 / Monday, September 25, 2017 / Proposed Rules each year. During the period of both the commercial and recreational closure, all harvest or possession in or from the Gulf EEZ of gray triggerfish is prohibited and the sale and purchase of gray triggerfish taken from the Gulf EEZ is prohibited. ■ 3. In § 622.37, revise paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.34, revise paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ § 622.37 § 622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish. * * * * (f) Seasonal closures for gray triggerfish. The recreational sector for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from January 1 through the end of February, and from June 1 through July 31, each year. During a recreational closure, the bag and possession limits for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ are zero. The commercial sector for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from June 1 through July 31, asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS * VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Sep 22, 2017 Jkt 241001 Size limits. * * * * * (c) * * * (1) Gray triggerfish. (i) For a person not subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(5)–14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length. (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(5)–15 inches (38.1 cm), fork length. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.38, revise paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows: § 622.38 * PO 00000 * Bag and possession limits. * Frm 00016 * Fmt 4702 * Sfmt 9990 (b) * * * (5) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(4) and paragraphs (b)(6) through (b)(7) of this section—20. In addition, within the 20-fish aggregate reef fish bag limit, no more than 1 fish may be gray triggerfish and no more than 10 fish may be vermilion snapper. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.43, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 622.43 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (b) Gray triggerfish. Until the commercial ACT (commercial quota) specified in § 622.39(a)(1)(vi) is reached—16 fish. See § 622.39(b) for the limitations regarding gray triggerfish after the commercial ACT (commercial quota) is reached. [FR Doc. 2017–20351 Filed 9–22–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\25SEP1.SGM 25SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 184 (Monday, September 25, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44551-44554]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-20351]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 170505465-7465-01]
RIN 0648-BG87


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management 
Measures; Amendment 46

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in 
Amendment 46 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources 
of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 
Management Council (Council) (Amendment 46). For gray triggerfish, this 
proposed rule would revise the recreational fixed closed season, 
recreational bag limit, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial 
trip limit. Additionally, Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding 
time period for the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) gray triggerfish stock. The 
purpose of this proposed rule is to implement management measures to 
assist in rebuilding the Gulf gray triggerfish stock and achieve 
optimum yield (OY).

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before October 25, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2017-0080'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0080, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    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 a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov

[[Page 44552]]

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).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 46, which includes an environmental 
assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act 
(RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from 
the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/am46_gray_trigger/documents/pdfs/gulf_reef_am46_gray_trigg_final.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305; email: Lauren.Waters@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef 
fish fishery, which includes gray triggerfish, under the FMP. The 
Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson 
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) 
(16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing 
basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks. These mandates are 
intended to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest 
overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing 
food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine 
ecosystems. To further this goal, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires 
fishery managers to rebuild overfished stocks.

Status of the Gray Triggerfish Stock

    The first Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) benchmark 
stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed in 2006 (SEDAR 9). 
SEDAR 9 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was both overfished 
and possibly undergoing overfishing. Subsequently, Amendment 30A to the 
FMP established a gray triggerfish rebuilding plan beginning in the 
2008 fishing year (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). In 2011, a SEDAR 9 
update stock assessment for gray triggerfish determined that the gray 
triggerfish stock was still overfished and was undergoing overfishing, 
and had not made adequate progress toward rebuilding. As a result of 
the SEDAR 9 update and to end overfishing, the final rule for Amendment 
37 to the FMP revised the gray triggerfish commercial and recreational 
sector annual catch limits (ACLs) and annual catch targets (ACTs), 
revised the gray triggerfish recreational sector accountability 
measures (AMs), revised the gray triggerfish recreational bag limit, 
established a commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish, and 
established a fixed closed season for the gray triggerfish commercial 
and recreational sectors (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). Additionally, 
Amendment 37 revised the rebuilding plan and projected that the stock 
would be rebuilt in 5 years, or by the end of 2017 fishing year.
    Since implementation of Amendment 37 in 2013, commercial harvest 
has not exceeded the commercial ACL, while the recreational sector has 
exceeded the recreational ACL or adjusted recreational ACL (that 
resulted from a ACL overage adjustment) in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 
2016 fishing years. The most recent stock assessment for gray 
triggerfish was completed and reviewed by the Council's Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC) in October 2015 (SEDAR 43). SEDAR 43 
indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was not experiencing 
overfishing but remained overfished and would not be rebuilt by the end 
of 2017 as previously projected. On November 2, 2015, NMFS notified the 
Council that the gray triggerfish stock was not making adequate 
progress toward rebuilding, and the Council subsequently began 
development of Amendment 46 to establish a new rebuilding time period 
and other management measures to achieve OY and rebuild the stock.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    For gray triggerfish, this proposed rule would revise the 
recreational fixed closed season, recreational bag limit, recreational 
minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit. NMFS and the Council are 
proposing the changes to the recreational management measures to help 
constrain recreational landings to the recreational ACT to avoid 
triggering accountability measures (AMs) resulting in an in-season 
closure or post-season payback that would occur if landings exceed the 
recreational ACL. NMFS and the Council are proposing the increase in 
the commercial trip limit to allow those commercial fishermen who 
encounter gray triggerfish to harvest more fish per trip while 
continuing to constrain commercial landings to the commercial ACT.

Recreational Seasonal Closure

    The current recreational seasonal closure for gray triggerfish in 
the Gulf is from June 1 through July 31, and was established in 
Amendment 37 to protect gray triggerfish during the peak spawning 
season and help constrain landings to the recreational ACT (78 FR 
27084, May 5, 2013). However, as explained above, recreational landings 
have exceed the recreational ACL or adjusted ACL the last 4 years. This 
proposed rule would establish an additional recreational fixed closed 
season for gray triggerfish from January 1 through the end of February, 
which is expected to reduce recreational landings and help rebuild the 
stock within the rebuilding time period established in Amendment 46.

Recreational Bag Limit

    The current recreational bag limit was set in Amendment 37 and is a 
2-fish per person per day limit within the overall 20-fish aggregate 
reef fish bag limit. This proposed rule would reduce the recreational 
gray triggerfish bag limit to 1 fish per person per day within the 20-
fish aggregate reef fish bag limit.
    As described in Amendment 46, from 2013 through 2015, approximately 
10 percent of recreational trips with reef fish landings harvested 2 
gray triggerfish within the 20-fish aggregate bag limit. NMFS expects 
the proposed change to the bag limit to reduce recreational landings by 
15 percent, which will help constrain harvest to the recreational ACT 
to allow the sector to remain open through the end of the fishing year.

Recreational Size Limit

    The current recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish is 
14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length (FL), and was established in Amendment 
30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). The proposed rule would 
increase the minimum size limit to 15 inches (38.1 cm), FL. Increasing 
the recreational minimum size limit would increase the gray triggerfish 
spawning potential by maintaining larger-sized fish, which are more 
fecund, in the stock, and is expected to help slow recreational 
harvest.

Commercial Trip Limit

    The current commercial trip limit is 12 fish per trip, and was 
established in Amendment 37 to help constrain commercial harvest to the 
commercial ACT and avoid an in-season closure as a result of the AMs 
being triggered (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). This proposed rule would 
increase the trip limit to 16 fish per trip.

[[Page 44553]]

    As described in Amendment 46, since implementation of the 12 fish 
commercial trip limit in 2013, commercial landings have been 
consistently below the commercial ACT. Analysis of commercial trips 
demonstrated that 80 percent of trips caught 10 gray triggerfish or 
less. This indicates that gray triggerfish is primarily a non-target 
species by the commercial sector and that increasing the commercial 
trip limit would likely result in only a small change in the weight 
projected to be landed during a fishing year. However, increasing the 
commercial trip limit would allow those fishermen who encounter the 
species the opportunity to harvest more fish. This would help achieve 
OY for the stock while continuing to constrain commercial landings to 
the commercial ACT.

Measures in Amendment 46 Not in This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the measures proposed to be implemented through this 
proposed rule, Amendment 46 contains actions to set a rebuilding 
timeframe and to consider alternatives for the commercial and 
recreational ACTs and ACLs.

Rebuilding Time Period and Commercial and Recreational ACTs and ACLs

    Amendment 37 established a 5-year rebuilding time period, expiring 
in 2017, and the current gray triggerfish commercial and recreational 
ACTs and ACLs. The current commercial ACT is 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), 
round weight, and the commercial ACL is 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round 
weight. The current recreational ACT is 217,000 lb (98,475 kg), round 
weight, and the recreational ACL is 242,200 lb (109,406 kg), round 
weight. Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding time period for 
the Gulf gray triggerfish stock as a result of the stock status 
determined through SEDAR 43, and maintain the current commercial and 
recreational ACLs and ACTs.
    The Council's SSC reviewed SEDAR 43 and recommended alternative 
rebuilding time periods of 8, 9, or 10 years and the acceptable 
biological catch (ABC) yield streams for each period. There is a 60 
percent probability of rebuilding the stock within these time periods 
if landings are appropriately constrained to the recommended catch 
levels. In Amendment 46, the Council considered these rebuilding time 
periods and their associated catch levels, as well as a 6-year period, 
which would be the time needed to rebuild the stock in the absence of 
fishing mortality. The Council determined that the 9-year rebuilding 
time period was as short as possible, taking into account the status 
and biology of the stock and the needs of the associated fishing 
communities. Although the ABC recommendation associated with the 9-year 
time period allowed for an increase in harvest, the Council chose to 
adopt a more conservative approach and maintain the current commercial 
and recreational ACLs and ACTs for gray triggerfish that were set 
through the final rule for Amendment 37 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
law, subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this certification follows.
    A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, 
and the objectives of, and legal basis for this proposed rule are 
contained in the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the 
statutory basis for this proposed rule.
    This proposed rule would directly affect commercial and 
recreational fishing for gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters. 
Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined in 
the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601(6)). Consequently, estimates of the number of 
anglers directly affected by the rule and the impacts on them are not 
provided here.
    NMFS estimates an average of 223 commercial fishing vessels harvest 
gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters annually, and the number of 
businesses that own these vessels ranges from 166 to 223. The average 
vessel harvested 164 lb (74.4 kg), gutted weight, of gray triggerfish 
annually with a dockside value of $331 (2015 dollars), and that average 
vessel's annual dockside revenue from all landings is $158,804 (2015 
dollars).
    For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined 
annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its 
affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the average annual revenue 
for a vessel that lands gray triggerfish, it is concluded that most to 
all of the businesses that harvest gray triggerfish from the Gulf are 
small businesses.
    Amendment 46 would establish a rebuilding time period of 9 years or 
by the end of 2025, and this revised time period would have no direct 
impact on any small business.
    The proposed rule would retain the current commercial ACL and 
commercial ACT for gray triggerfish, which have been in effect since 
2013 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013). These status quo measures would have 
no additional impact on any small business.
    The proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for gray 
triggerfish. A 12-fish trip limit has been in effect since 2013, and 
this proposed rule would allow for up to four more gray triggerfish to 
be landed per trip. The average weight of a commercially sized gray 
triggerfish is estimated to be 4.113 lb (1.866 kg), gutted weight. In 
2015, the average dockside price of gray triggerfish was $2.12 per 
pound, gutted weight. At that price, the proposed rule could increase 
dockside revenue to as much as $34.88 per trip. It is estimated that 
the average annual beneficial impact would range from $0 to $135 per 
vessel, which represents from 0.00 percent to 0.08 percent of the 
average vessel's annual dockside revenue from all landings.
    Therefore, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities, and an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray triggerfish, Gulf, 
Recreational.

    Dated: September 18, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

[[Page 44554]]

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.34, revise paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.34  Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef 
fish.

* * * * *
    (f) Seasonal closures for gray triggerfish. The recreational sector 
for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from January 1 
through the end of February, and from June 1 through July 31, each 
year. During a recreational closure, the bag and possession limits for 
gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ are zero. The commercial 
sector for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from June 
1 through July 31, each year. During the period of both the commercial 
and recreational closure, all harvest or possession in or from the Gulf 
EEZ of gray triggerfish is prohibited and the sale and purchase of gray 
triggerfish taken from the Gulf EEZ is prohibited.
0
3. In Sec.  622.37, revise paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.37  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) Gray triggerfish. (i) For a person not subject to the bag limit 
specified in Sec.  622.38(b)(5)-14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length.
    (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in Sec.  
622.38(b)(5)-15 inches (38.1 cm), fork length.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  622.38, revise paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.38  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (5) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in 
paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(4) and paragraphs (b)(6) through (b)(7) 
of this section--20. In addition, within the 20-fish aggregate reef 
fish bag limit, no more than 1 fish may be gray triggerfish and no more 
than 10 fish may be vermilion snapper.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  622.43, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.43  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (b) Gray triggerfish. Until the commercial ACT (commercial quota) 
specified in Sec.  622.39(a)(1)(vi) is reached--16 fish. See Sec.  
622.39(b) for the limitations regarding gray triggerfish after the 
commercial ACT (commercial quota) is reached.

[FR Doc. 2017-20351 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P