Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 41, 49167-49171 [2017-23002]

Download as PDF ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 204 / Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / Proposed Rules state implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the Commonwealth) for the purpose of adopting EPA’s control technique guidelines (CTG) for automobile and light-duty truck assembly coatings. In the Final Rules section of this issue of the Federal Register, EPA is approving the Commonwealth’s SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A more detailed description of the Commonwealth’s submittal and EPA’s evaluation is included in a technical support document (TSD) prepared in support of this rulemaking action. A copy of the TSD is available, upon request, from the EPA Regional Office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document or is also available electronically within the Docket for this rulemaking action. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. DATES: Comments must be received in writing by November 24, 2017. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R03– OAR–2017–0342 at http:// www.regulations.gov, or via email to stahl.cynthia@epa.gov. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, the EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be confidential business information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the ‘‘For Further Information Contact’’ section. For the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Oct 23, 2017 Jkt 244001 full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/ commenting-epa-dockets. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph Schulingkamp, (215) 814–2021, or by email at schulingkamp.joseph@ epa.gov. For further information, please see the information provided in the direct final action, with the same title, that is located in the ‘‘Rules and Regulations’’ section of this issue of the Federal Register publication. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: September 26, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III. [FR Doc. 2017–22943 Filed 10–23–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 170324313–7313–01] RIN 0648–BG77 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 41 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 41 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would revise commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs), the minimum size limit, commercial trip limits, and the recreational bag limit for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 49167 based on the results of the most recent stock assessment. The purpose of this proposed rule is to ensure that mutton snapper is managed based on the best scientific information available to achieve optimum yield (OY) and to prevent overfishing, while minimizing adverse social and economic effects to the extent practicable. DATES: Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by November 24, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2017–0103,’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic submission: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170103, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 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 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 required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 41 may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Amendment 41 includes an environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and fishery impact statement. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: mary.vara@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic region is managed under the FMP and includes mutton snapper, along with other snapper-grouper species. The Snapper-Grouper FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens E:\FR\FM\24OCP1.SGM 24OCP1 49168 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 204 / Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / Proposed Rules ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that NMFS and regional fishery management councils 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 management councils to minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality to the extent practicable. Mutton snapper are harvested throughout the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic, although harvest predominately occurs around the Florida Keys. In the South Atlantic, mutton snapper are part of the snappergrouper fishery, and the South Atlantic Council manages this fishery under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. In the Gulf, mutton snapper are part of the reef fish fishery, and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) manages this fishery under the FMP for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The jurisdictional boundary between the South Atlantic and Gulf Councils is specified at 50 CFR 600.105(c), and is located approximately in the Florida Keys (Monroe County, FL). The mutton snapper stock in the Gulf and South Atlantic was assessed in 2008 (Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 15A (SEDAR 15A)), with a single acceptable biological catch (ABC) that covers both councils’ areas of jurisdiction. The South Atlantic and Gulf Councils, with the advice of their Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs), apportioned this total ABC between the councils’ FMPs based on historical landings. The final rules for the South Atlantic Council’s Comprehensive ACL Amendment (77 FR 15916, March 16, 2012) and the Gulf Council’s Generic ACL Amendment (76 FR 82044, December 29, 2011) allocated the total mutton snapper ABC as 82 percent in the South Atlantic and 18 percent in the Gulf. In 2015, there was an update to SEDAR 15A for the mutton snapper stock in the South Atlantic and Gulf using data through 2013 (SEDAR 15A Update). The SEDAR 15A Update indicated that in the South Atlantic and Gulf, the mutton snapper stock is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. However, improvements to VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Oct 23, 2017 Jkt 244001 the modeling approach used in the SEDAR 15A Update resulted in smaller population estimates than demonstrated in SEDAR 15A. The South Atlantic and Gulf Councils’ SSCs reviewed the SEDAR 15A Update and recommended a reduction in the stock’s total ABC. Based on results from the SEDAR 15A Update and recommendations from its SSC, the South Atlantic Council is taking action through Amendment 41 and this proposed rule to revise its management of mutton snapper in the South Atlantic. The Gulf Council is also examining management alternatives for mutton snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ), through a framework amendment to the FMP for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would revise the mutton snapper ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors in the South Atlantic, increase the minimum size limit for mutton snapper in the commercial and recreational sectors, and modify the commercial trip limit and the recreational bag limit. Unless otherwise noted, all weights described in this proposed rule are in round weight. Commercial and Recreational ACLs The current total ABC for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic and Gulf jurisdictions is 1,130,000 lb (512,559 kg). Based on the South Atlantic and Gulf Councils’ agreed apportionment of the mutton snapper ABC between their FMPs, the current ABC for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic is 926,600 lb (420,299 kg), and the South Atlantic Council set the ABC equal to the OY and the total ACL. The South Atlantic Council then further allocated the total ACL between the commercial sector (17.02 percent) and recreational sector (82.98 percent), resulting in the commercial ACL of 157,743 lb (71,551 kg) and the recreational ACL of 768,857 lb (348,748 kg). Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would revise the ABC and the commercial and recreational mutton snapper ACLs in the South Atlantic for the 2017 through the 2020 and subsequent fishing years, consistent with the existing apportionment between the two councils’ FMPs and the existing sector allocations. As described in Amendment 41, the South Atlantic Council’s SSC recommended that the ABC be specified in numbers of fish, based on landing projections from the stock assessment. The South Atlantic Council agreed with this recommendation for the ABC, but PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 specified the commercial ACL in pounds and the recreational ACL in numbers of fish because commercial landings are already tracked in pounds, while recreational landings are tracked in numbers of fish. In addition, because Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit for mutton snapper, the South Atlantic Council was concerned that specifying the recreational ACL in pounds could increase the risk of exceeding the recreational ACL if the method for converting the ACL in numbers to pounds does not sufficiently address the change in average weight of larger, heavier fish. Therefore, the South Atlantic Council determined that there would be a reduced risk of exceeding the recreational ACL as a result of an increase in the minimum size limit if the ABC and recreational ACL were specified in numbers of fish. Because the current ABC and recreational ACL are specified in pounds, and the new ABC and recreational ACL are specified in numbers of fish, Appendix J to Amendment 41 includes a detailed account of the methodology used to specify the ABC and recreational ACL for mutton snapper in numbers of fish. As a reference for comparing numbers of fish to pounds of fish, the average weight of a recreationally harvested mutton snapper in 2017 is approximately 4.2 lb (1.9 kg) per fish. The average weight of a commercially harvested mutton snapper is 7.68 lb (3.5 kg) per fish. To determine the commercial ACL in pounds, the commercial sector allocation of 17.02 percent was applied to the total ACL in pounds (which equals the ABC). The proposed commercial ACLs for mutton snapper are 100,015 lb (45,366 kg) for 2017, 104,231 lb (47,278 kg) for 2018, 107,981 lb (48,979 kg) for 2019, and 111,354 lb (50,509 kg) for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. To determine the recreational ACL in numbers, the recreational sector ACL of 82.98 percent was applied to the total ACL in pounds. That value was divided by approximately 4.2 lb (1.9 kg) per fish to determine the recreational ACL in numbers of fish. The proposed recreational ACLs for mutton snapper are 116,127 fish for 2017, 121,318 fish for 2018, 124,766 fish for 2019, and 127,115 fish for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. The ABC (equal to the total ACL for mutton snapper) in numbers of fish is the sum of the commercial and recreational ACLs in numbers of fish. To determine the ABC in numbers of fish, the commercial ACL in pounds was divided by 7.68 lb (3.5 kg) per fish and E:\FR\FM\24OCP1.SGM 24OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 204 / Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / Proposed Rules added to the recreational ACL in numbers. Based on results from the SEDAR 15A Update and the SSC’s recommended ABC, Amendment 41 would decrease the ABC for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic to 129,150 fish for the 2017 fishing year, 134,890 fish for 2018, 138,826 fish for 2019, and 141,614 fish for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. Minimum Size Limit The current minimum size limit for the commercial and recreational sectors of mutton snapper is 16 inches (40.6 cm), total length (TL), and this proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit to 18 inches (45.7 cm), TL. Recent scientific information indicates that the size at which 50 percent of mutton snapper are sexually mature is 16 inches (40.6 cm), TL, for males and 18 inches (45.7 cm), TL, for females. Increasing the minimum size limit to 18 inches (45.7 cm), TL, would allow more individual mutton snapper to reach reproductive activity before being susceptible to harvest, and is also projected to increase the average size and the corresponding average weight of fish harvested. ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Commercial Trip Limits Currently, there is no year-round commercial trip limit for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic. However, during May and June of each year, there is a seasonal harvest limitation (equivalent to a commercial trip limit) for the possession of mutton snapper in or from the EEZ on board a vessel that has a Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper. During these two months, the commercial harvest of mutton snapper is limited to 10 per person per day or 10 per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive (50 CFR 622.184(b)). Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would replace the current seasonal harvest limitation for the commercial sector each year in May and June, and would implement commercial trip limits for the purposes of maintaining a year-round commercial fishing season and reducing harvest on mutton snapper when they aggregate to spawn. During the mutton snapper spawning months of April through June, this proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit of five fish per person per day or five fish per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive. For the remainder of the year (January through March and July through December), this proposed rule would establish a 500-lb (227-kg) commercial trip limit. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Oct 23, 2017 Jkt 244001 Recreational Bag Limit Currently, mutton snapper is part of the 10 snapper combined recreational bag limit in the South Atlantic that applies throughout the fishing year (50 CFR 622.187(b)(4)). Through this proposed rule, mutton snapper would remain within the 10 snapper combined recreational bag limit in the South Atlantic, but a recreational bag limit of 5 mutton snapper per person per day would apply within the overall 10 snapper combined bag limit, yearround. Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would modify the bag limit for the purposes of maintaining a year-round recreational fishing season and reducing harvest on mutton snapper spawning aggregations. Management Measures Contained in Amendment 41 But Not Codified Through This Proposed Rule In addition to the management measures codified through this proposed rule, and the ABC that was previously described, Amendment 41 would specify the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), minimum stock size threshold (MSST), and recreational annual catch targets (ACTs) for mutton snapper, as well as designating spawning months. Maximum Sustainable Yield and Minimum Stock Size Threshold Currently, the MSY for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic equals the yield produced by the fishing mortality rate at MSY (FMSY) (where F equals fishing mortality that if applied constantly, would achieve MSY under equilibrium conditions). The FMSY proxy is F30≠SPR, or the fishing mortality that will produce a static spawning per recruit. Amendment 41 would change the MSY definition to the yield produced by FMSY or the FMSY proxy, with the MSY and FMSY proxy recommended by the most recent stock assessment. If this MSY definition is implemented, future MSY numerical values could be updated following a stock assessment, SSC review and recommendation, and acceptance of that recommendation by the South Atlantic Council. Currently, MSY numerical values for mutton snapper are not specified because the South Atlantic Council did not specify the MSY estimate from SEDAR 15A. Based on the SEDAR 15A Update and the new MSY definition, the resulting MSY for mutton snapper stock in the South Atlantic would be 912,500 lb (413,903 kg). Currently, the MSST is equal to the spawning stock biomass at MSY (SSBMSY)*(1–M) or 0.5, whichever is PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 49169 greater (where M equals natural mortality). Amendment 41 would change the MSST definition to 75 percent of SSBMSY, which results in an MSST of 3,486,900 lb (1,581,631 kg). The SEDAR 15A Update estimated the natural mortality for mutton snapper at 0.17, and the proposed MSST for mutton snapper in Amendment 41 is consistent with how the South Atlantic Council has defined MSST for other snapper-grouper stocks with similarly low natural mortality estimates. Recreational ACTs The current recreational ACT for South Atlantic mutton snapper is 668,906 lb (303,411 kg). Amendment 41 would specify a recreational ACT (equal to 85 percent of the recreational ACL) of 98,708 fish for 2017. The recreational ACT would increase annually from 2017 through 2020, and would remain in effect until modified. The recreational ACT would be 103,121 fish for 2018, 106,051 fish for 2019, and 108,048 fish for 2020 and subsequent fishing years. NMFS notes that the current and proposed recreational ACTs are used only for monitoring purposes and do not trigger a recreational accountability measure. Spawning Months Currently, there is no designated spawning season for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic; however, to protect spawning fish, a May through June seasonal harvest limitation applies to vessels with a Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snappergrouper, and there are no similar management measures in place to constrain recreational harvest in May and June. Amendment 41 would designate April through June as spawning months, during which the proposed commercial trip limits, would apply. The South Atlantic Council considered additional recreational management measures specific to the proposed spawning months but chose to reduce the bag limit year-round instead. 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 Amendment 41, the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed E:\FR\FM\24OCP1.SGM 24OCP1 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 49170 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 204 / Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / Proposed Rules rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. A description of this proposed rule and its purpose and need are contained in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. 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. An RFA analysis and later a supplemental RFA analysis were conducted for this proposed rule and the factual basis for this certification is as follows. This proposed rule affects commercial and recreational fishing for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ. Recreational fishermen (anglers) are not considered ‘‘small entities’’ as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6). Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers directly affected by this proposed rule and the impacts on them are not provided here. An annual average of 274 federally permitted commercial fishing vessels harvested mutton snapper in the South Atlantic from 2010 through 2014, and it is estimated that 230 businesses own these commercial fishing vessels. During that 5-year period, which represents the best scientific information available for landings and nominal revenues of mutton snapper, the average vessel that harvests mutton snapper lands an average of 217 lb (98 kg), gutted weight, of the species annually with a dockside value of $655 (2015 dollars used throughout this analysis). That average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all landings is $54,078, and mutton snapper landings represent 1.2 percent of the average annual dockside revenue from all landings. For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 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 above estimate of average annual revenue for a vessel that lands mutton snapper, it is expected that most to all of the 230 businesses are small. Amendment 41 would specify the MSY, MSST, and OY for mutton VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Oct 23, 2017 Jkt 244001 snapper. None of these actions would have a direct economic impact on any small business, and any indirect impacts would be dependent on subsequent actions. The proposed rule would reduce the commercial ACL for mutton snapper from 157,743 lb (71,551 kg) to 100,015 lb (45,366 kg), round weight, in the 2017 fishing year. Subsequently, the commercial ACL would increase annually up to 111,354 lb (50,509 kg), round weight, in the 2020 and subsequent fishing years. Since 2012, annual total commercial landings of mutton snapper have been less than 93,000 lb (42,184 kg), round weight. Therefore, the proposed commercial ACL is expected to have no impact on small businesses. The proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit for mutton snapper from 16 inches (41 cm) to 18 inches (46 cm), TL. The minimum size limit increase could reduce average annual landings by 3.8 percent. With average annual landings of 217 lb (98 kg), gutted weight, of mutton snapper per vessel, a 3.8 percent reduction in mutton snapper landings would reduce the average vessel’s landings of mutton snapper by approximately 8 lb (4 kg), gutted weight, and its dockside revenue by $24.82 annually. That loss represents approximately 0.05 percent of the average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all landings ($54,078). Amendment 41 would designate April, May, and June as spawning months and the proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit for each person of 5 mutton snapper per day or per trip, whichever is more restrictive, during those 3 months. There is currently a seasonal harvest limitation (equivalent to a commercial trip limit), for a vessel with a Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper, for each person of 10 mutton snapper per day or per trip, whichever is more restrictive, during May and June each year, and no commercial trip limit during the rest of the year. Based on the average numbers of 2 crew members and 2 days per commercial trip for those vessels that landed mutton snapper in all months every year from 2010 through 2014, NMFS expects the limit of 5 mutton snapper per person per commercial trip would be the more restrictive limit. NMFS estimates the maximum number of mutton snapper that could be landed by a vessel during the three designated spawning months with the average number of crew, regardless of gear, would be equal to or greater than the expected number of mutton snapper that would be landed during those PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 months. Therefore, the commercial trip limit during the spawning months is expected to have no impact on small businesses. The proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit of 500 lb (227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper per trip during the 9 non-spawning months of the fishing year. From 2010 through 2014, an annual average of 4 vessels collectively made 7 trips that landed more than 500 lb (227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper. The four vessels and seven trips represent 1.5 percent of the average annual vessels and 0.5 percent of the average annual trips that landed mutton snapper. The four vessels also represent up to 1.7 percent of the small businesses that could be directly affected by the proposed rule. NMFS estimates these 4 vessels would lose an average weight of mutton snapper landings 425 lb (193 kg), gutted weight, for each trip over the 500 lb (227 kg), round weight, limit, and their combined losses would be 2,975 lb (1,349 kg) gutted weight, annually. The average annual loss for each these 4 vessels would be approximately 744 lb (337 kg), gutted weight, with a dockside value of $2,239. That decrease represents approximately 4.1 percent of the average annual dockside revenue for all vessels that land mutton snapper; however, these four vessels have much higher than average landings and are expected to have annual revenues higher than the average. In conclusion, NMFS estimates 98.5 percent of the vessels and approximately 99 percent of the small businesses would have a 0.05 percent decrease in average annual total dockside revenue because of this proposed rule. NMFS also estimates 1.5 percent of the vessels and approximately 1 percent of the small businesses that land over 500 lb (227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper in a trip could experience a decrease in annual revenue of up to 4.1 percent; however, that percentage is based on the average vessel that lands mutton snapper and these 4 vessels have above average landings and revenues. Because this proposed rule would not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. No new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, this proposed rule does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act. E:\FR\FM\24OCP1.SGM 24OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 204 / Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / Proposed Rules List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Mutton snapper, South Atlantic. Dated: October 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: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. [Amended] 2. In § 622.184, remove and reserve paragraph (b). ■ 3. In § 622.185, revise paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows: ■ § 622.185 Size limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (4) Mutton snapper—18 inches (45.7 cm), TL. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.187, revise paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows: § 622.187 Bag and possession limits. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) Snappers, combined—10. (i) Within the 10-fish bag limit, no more than 5 fish may be mutton snapper. (ii) Excluded from this 10-fish bag limit are cubera snapper, measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in the South Atlantic off Florida, and red snapper and vermilion snapper. (See § 622.181(b)(2) for the prohibitions on harvest or possession of red snapper, except during a limited recreational fishing season, and § 622.181(c)(1) for limitations on cubera snapper measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in or from the South Atlantic EEZ off Florida.) * * * * * ■ 5. In § 622.191, add paragraph (a)(13) to read as follows: ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS 622.191 Commercial trip limits. * * * * * (a) * * * (13) Mutton snapper. The following commercial trip limits apply until the applicable commercial ACL in § 622.193(o)(1)(iii) is reached. See VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Oct 23, 2017 Jkt 244001 § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * ■ § 622.184 § 622.193(o)(1) for the limitations regarding mutton snapper after the commercial ACL is reached. (i) From January 1 through March 31, and July 1 through December 31—500 lb (227 kg), round weight. (ii) From April 1 through June 30—5 fish per person per day or 5 fish per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 622.193, revise paragraph (o) to read as follows: * * * * (o) Mutton snapper—(1) Commercial sector. (i) If commercial landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable commercial ACL specified in paragraph (o)(1)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase of mutton snapper is prohibited and harvest or possession of mutton snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limits. These bag and possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. (ii) If commercial landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the applicable commercial ACL specified in paragraph (o)(1)(iii) of this section, and the applicable combined commercial and recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(3) of this section is exceeded during the same fishing year, and the species is overfished based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the commercial ACL in the following fishing year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year. (iii) The commercial ACLs for the following fishing years are given in round weight. For 2017—100,015 lb (45,366 kg); for 2018—104,231 lb (47,278 kg); for 2019—107,981 lb (48,979 kg); for 2020 and subsequent fishing years—111,354 lb (50,509 kg). PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 49171 (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year regardless if the stock is overfished, unless NMFS determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. On and after the effective date of such a notification, the bag and possession limits for mutton snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. (ii) If recreational landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the applicable recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(2)(iii) of this section, then during the following fishing year recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings, and if necessary, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season and the recreational ACL by the amount of the recreational ACL overage, if the species is overfished based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and if the applicable combined commercial and recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(3) of this section is exceeded during the same fishing year. NMFS will use the best scientific information available to determine if reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and recreational ACL is necessary. When the recreational sector is closed as a result of NMFS reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and ACL, the bag and possession limits for mutton snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero. (iii) The recreational ACLs for the following fishing years are given in numbers of fish. For 2017—116,127; for 2018—121,318; for 2019—124,766; for 2020 and subsequent fishing years— 127,115. (3) The combined commercial and recreational ACLs for the following fishing years are given in round weight. For 2017—587,633 lb (266,546 kg); for 2018—612,401 lb (277,780 kg); for 2019—634,435 lb (287,775 kg); for 2020 and subsequent fishing years—654,257 lb (296,766 kg). * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–23002 Filed 10–23–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\24OCP1.SGM 24OCP1

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[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 204 (Tuesday, October 24, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49167-49171]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-23002]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 170324313-7313-01]
RIN 0648-BG77


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 41

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 to implement management measures described in 
Amendment 41 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-
Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP), as 
prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council 
(South Atlantic Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would 
revise commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs), the 
minimum size limit, commercial trip limits, and the recreational bag 
limit for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic based on the results of 
the most recent stock assessment. The purpose of this proposed rule is 
to ensure that mutton snapper is managed based on the best scientific 
information available to achieve optimum yield (OY) and to prevent 
overfishing, while minimizing adverse social and economic effects to 
the extent practicable.

DATES: Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by 
November 24, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2017-0103,'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic submission: Submit all electronic comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0103, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast 
Regional Office, 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 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 required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 41 may be obtained from 
www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Amendment 41 includes an environmental assessment, 
regulatory impact review, Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, 
and fishery impact statement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery in the South 
Atlantic region is managed under the FMP and includes mutton snapper, 
along with other snapper-grouper species. The Snapper-Grouper FMP was 
prepared by the South Atlantic Council and is implemented by NMFS 
through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens

[[Page 49168]]

Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils 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 management councils to minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality 
to the extent practicable.
    Mutton snapper are harvested throughout the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) 
and South Atlantic, although harvest predominately occurs around the 
Florida Keys. In the South Atlantic, mutton snapper are part of the 
snapper-grouper fishery, and the South Atlantic Council manages this 
fishery under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. In the Gulf, mutton snapper are 
part of the reef fish fishery, and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 
Management Council (Gulf Council) manages this fishery under the FMP 
for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The jurisdictional 
boundary between the South Atlantic and Gulf Councils is specified at 
50 CFR 600.105(c), and is located approximately in the Florida Keys 
(Monroe County, FL). The mutton snapper stock in the Gulf and South 
Atlantic was assessed in 2008 (Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review 
15A (SEDAR 15A)), with a single acceptable biological catch (ABC) that 
covers both councils' areas of jurisdiction. The South Atlantic and 
Gulf Councils, with the advice of their Scientific and Statistical 
Committees (SSCs), apportioned this total ABC between the councils' 
FMPs based on historical landings. The final rules for the South 
Atlantic Council's Comprehensive ACL Amendment (77 FR 15916, March 16, 
2012) and the Gulf Council's Generic ACL Amendment (76 FR 82044, 
December 29, 2011) allocated the total mutton snapper ABC as 82 percent 
in the South Atlantic and 18 percent in the Gulf.
    In 2015, there was an update to SEDAR 15A for the mutton snapper 
stock in the South Atlantic and Gulf using data through 2013 (SEDAR 15A 
Update). The SEDAR 15A Update indicated that in the South Atlantic and 
Gulf, the mutton snapper stock is neither overfished nor undergoing 
overfishing. However, improvements to the modeling approach used in the 
SEDAR 15A Update resulted in smaller population estimates than 
demonstrated in SEDAR 15A. The South Atlantic and Gulf Councils' SSCs 
reviewed the SEDAR 15A Update and recommended a reduction in the 
stock's total ABC. Based on results from the SEDAR 15A Update and 
recommendations from its SSC, the South Atlantic Council is taking 
action through Amendment 41 and this proposed rule to revise its 
management of mutton snapper in the South Atlantic. The Gulf Council is 
also examining management alternatives for mutton snapper in the Gulf 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ), through a framework amendment to the FMP 
for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the mutton snapper ACLs for the 
commercial and recreational sectors in the South Atlantic, increase the 
minimum size limit for mutton snapper in the commercial and 
recreational sectors, and modify the commercial trip limit and the 
recreational bag limit. Unless otherwise noted, all weights described 
in this proposed rule are in round weight.

Commercial and Recreational ACLs

    The current total ABC for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic and 
Gulf jurisdictions is 1,130,000 lb (512,559 kg). Based on the South 
Atlantic and Gulf Councils' agreed apportionment of the mutton snapper 
ABC between their FMPs, the current ABC for mutton snapper in the South 
Atlantic is 926,600 lb (420,299 kg), and the South Atlantic Council set 
the ABC equal to the OY and the total ACL. The South Atlantic Council 
then further allocated the total ACL between the commercial sector 
(17.02 percent) and recreational sector (82.98 percent), resulting in 
the commercial ACL of 157,743 lb (71,551 kg) and the recreational ACL 
of 768,857 lb (348,748 kg). Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would 
revise the ABC and the commercial and recreational mutton snapper ACLs 
in the South Atlantic for the 2017 through the 2020 and subsequent 
fishing years, consistent with the existing apportionment between the 
two councils' FMPs and the existing sector allocations.
    As described in Amendment 41, the South Atlantic Council's SSC 
recommended that the ABC be specified in numbers of fish, based on 
landing projections from the stock assessment. The South Atlantic 
Council agreed with this recommendation for the ABC, but specified the 
commercial ACL in pounds and the recreational ACL in numbers of fish 
because commercial landings are already tracked in pounds, while 
recreational landings are tracked in numbers of fish. In addition, 
because Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would increase the minimum 
size limit for mutton snapper, the South Atlantic Council was concerned 
that specifying the recreational ACL in pounds could increase the risk 
of exceeding the recreational ACL if the method for converting the ACL 
in numbers to pounds does not sufficiently address the change in 
average weight of larger, heavier fish. Therefore, the South Atlantic 
Council determined that there would be a reduced risk of exceeding the 
recreational ACL as a result of an increase in the minimum size limit 
if the ABC and recreational ACL were specified in numbers of fish. 
Because the current ABC and recreational ACL are specified in pounds, 
and the new ABC and recreational ACL are specified in numbers of fish, 
Appendix J to Amendment 41 includes a detailed account of the 
methodology used to specify the ABC and recreational ACL for mutton 
snapper in numbers of fish. As a reference for comparing numbers of 
fish to pounds of fish, the average weight of a recreationally 
harvested mutton snapper in 2017 is approximately 4.2 lb (1.9 kg) per 
fish. The average weight of a commercially harvested mutton snapper is 
7.68 lb (3.5 kg) per fish.
    To determine the commercial ACL in pounds, the commercial sector 
allocation of 17.02 percent was applied to the total ACL in pounds 
(which equals the ABC). The proposed commercial ACLs for mutton snapper 
are 100,015 lb (45,366 kg) for 2017, 104,231 lb (47,278 kg) for 2018, 
107,981 lb (48,979 kg) for 2019, and 111,354 lb (50,509 kg) for 2020 
and subsequent fishing years.
    To determine the recreational ACL in numbers, the recreational 
sector ACL of 82.98 percent was applied to the total ACL in pounds. 
That value was divided by approximately 4.2 lb (1.9 kg) per fish to 
determine the recreational ACL in numbers of fish. The proposed 
recreational ACLs for mutton snapper are 116,127 fish for 2017, 121,318 
fish for 2018, 124,766 fish for 2019, and 127,115 fish for 2020 and 
subsequent fishing years.
    The ABC (equal to the total ACL for mutton snapper) in numbers of 
fish is the sum of the commercial and recreational ACLs in numbers of 
fish. To determine the ABC in numbers of fish, the commercial ACL in 
pounds was divided by 7.68 lb (3.5 kg) per fish and

[[Page 49169]]

added to the recreational ACL in numbers. Based on results from the 
SEDAR 15A Update and the SSC's recommended ABC, Amendment 41 would 
decrease the ABC for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic to 129,150 
fish for the 2017 fishing year, 134,890 fish for 2018, 138,826 fish for 
2019, and 141,614 fish for 2020 and subsequent fishing years.

Minimum Size Limit

    The current minimum size limit for the commercial and recreational 
sectors of mutton snapper is 16 inches (40.6 cm), total length (TL), 
and this proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit to 18 
inches (45.7 cm), TL. Recent scientific information indicates that the 
size at which 50 percent of mutton snapper are sexually mature is 16 
inches (40.6 cm), TL, for males and 18 inches (45.7 cm), TL, for 
females. Increasing the minimum size limit to 18 inches (45.7 cm), TL, 
would allow more individual mutton snapper to reach reproductive 
activity before being susceptible to harvest, and is also projected to 
increase the average size and the corresponding average weight of fish 
harvested.

Commercial Trip Limits

    Currently, there is no year-round commercial trip limit for mutton 
snapper in the South Atlantic. However, during May and June of each 
year, there is a seasonal harvest limitation (equivalent to a 
commercial trip limit) for the possession of mutton snapper in or from 
the EEZ on board a vessel that has a Federal commercial permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper. During these two months, the commercial 
harvest of mutton snapper is limited to 10 per person per day or 10 per 
person per trip, whichever is more restrictive (50 CFR 622.184(b)).
    Amendment 41 and this proposed rule would replace the current 
seasonal harvest limitation for the commercial sector each year in May 
and June, and would implement commercial trip limits for the purposes 
of maintaining a year-round commercial fishing season and reducing 
harvest on mutton snapper when they aggregate to spawn. During the 
mutton snapper spawning months of April through June, this proposed 
rule would establish a commercial trip limit of five fish per person 
per day or five fish per person per trip, whichever is more 
restrictive. For the remainder of the year (January through March and 
July through December), this proposed rule would establish a 500-lb 
(227-kg) commercial trip limit.

Recreational Bag Limit

    Currently, mutton snapper is part of the 10 snapper combined 
recreational bag limit in the South Atlantic that applies throughout 
the fishing year (50 CFR 622.187(b)(4)). Through this proposed rule, 
mutton snapper would remain within the 10 snapper combined recreational 
bag limit in the South Atlantic, but a recreational bag limit of 5 
mutton snapper per person per day would apply within the overall 10 
snapper combined bag limit, year-round. Amendment 41 and this proposed 
rule would modify the bag limit for the purposes of maintaining a year-
round recreational fishing season and reducing harvest on mutton 
snapper spawning aggregations.

Management Measures Contained in Amendment 41 But Not Codified Through 
This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the management measures codified through this 
proposed rule, and the ABC that was previously described, Amendment 41 
would specify the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), minimum stock size 
threshold (MSST), and recreational annual catch targets (ACTs) for 
mutton snapper, as well as designating spawning months.

Maximum Sustainable Yield and Minimum Stock Size Threshold

    Currently, the MSY for mutton snapper in the South Atlantic equals 
the yield produced by the fishing mortality rate at MSY 
(FMSY) (where F equals fishing mortality that if applied 
constantly, would achieve MSY under equilibrium conditions). The 
FMSY proxy is F30%SPR, or the fishing mortality 
that will produce a static spawning per recruit. Amendment 41 would 
change the MSY definition to the yield produced by FMSY or 
the FMSY proxy, with the MSY and FMSY proxy 
recommended by the most recent stock assessment. If this MSY definition 
is implemented, future MSY numerical values could be updated following 
a stock assessment, SSC review and recommendation, and acceptance of 
that recommendation by the South Atlantic Council. Currently, MSY 
numerical values for mutton snapper are not specified because the South 
Atlantic Council did not specify the MSY estimate from SEDAR 15A. Based 
on the SEDAR 15A Update and the new MSY definition, the resulting MSY 
for mutton snapper stock in the South Atlantic would be 912,500 lb 
(413,903 kg).
    Currently, the MSST is equal to the spawning stock biomass at MSY 
(SSBMSY)*(1-M) or 0.5, whichever is greater (where M equals 
natural mortality). Amendment 41 would change the MSST definition to 75 
percent of SSBMSY, which results in an MSST of 3,486,900 lb 
(1,581,631 kg). The SEDAR 15A Update estimated the natural mortality 
for mutton snapper at 0.17, and the proposed MSST for mutton snapper in 
Amendment 41 is consistent with how the South Atlantic Council has 
defined MSST for other snapper-grouper stocks with similarly low 
natural mortality estimates.

Recreational ACTs

    The current recreational ACT for South Atlantic mutton snapper is 
668,906 lb (303,411 kg). Amendment 41 would specify a recreational ACT 
(equal to 85 percent of the recreational ACL) of 98,708 fish for 2017. 
The recreational ACT would increase annually from 2017 through 2020, 
and would remain in effect until modified. The recreational ACT would 
be 103,121 fish for 2018, 106,051 fish for 2019, and 108,048 fish for 
2020 and subsequent fishing years. NMFS notes that the current and 
proposed recreational ACTs are used only for monitoring purposes and do 
not trigger a recreational accountability measure.

Spawning Months

    Currently, there is no designated spawning season for mutton 
snapper in the South Atlantic; however, to protect spawning fish, a May 
through June seasonal harvest limitation applies to vessels with a 
Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper, and there 
are no similar management measures in place to constrain recreational 
harvest in May and June. Amendment 41 would designate April through 
June as spawning months, during which the proposed commercial trip 
limits, would apply. The South Atlantic Council considered additional 
recreational management measures specific to the proposed spawning 
months but chose to reduce the bag limit year-round instead.

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 Amendment 41, the FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
proposed

[[Page 49170]]

rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. A description of this proposed rule and its purpose 
and need are contained in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of 
the preamble.
    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. An RFA analysis and later a supplemental RFA analysis were 
conducted for this proposed rule and the factual basis for this 
certification is as follows.
    This proposed rule affects commercial and recreational fishing for 
mutton snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ. Recreational fishermen 
(anglers) are not considered ``small entities'' as that term is defined 
in 5 U.S.C. 601(6). Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers 
directly affected by this proposed rule and the impacts on them are not 
provided here.
    An annual average of 274 federally permitted commercial fishing 
vessels harvested mutton snapper in the South Atlantic from 2010 
through 2014, and it is estimated that 230 businesses own these 
commercial fishing vessels. During that 5-year period, which represents 
the best scientific information available for landings and nominal 
revenues of mutton snapper, the average vessel that harvests mutton 
snapper lands an average of 217 lb (98 kg), gutted weight, of the 
species annually with a dockside value of $655 (2015 dollars used 
throughout this analysis). That average vessel's annual dockside 
revenue from all landings is $54,078, and mutton snapper landings 
represent 1.2 percent of the average annual dockside revenue from all 
landings.
    For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 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 above estimate of average 
annual revenue for a vessel that lands mutton snapper, it is expected 
that most to all of the 230 businesses are small.
    Amendment 41 would specify the MSY, MSST, and OY for mutton 
snapper. None of these actions would have a direct economic impact on 
any small business, and any indirect impacts would be dependent on 
subsequent actions.
    The proposed rule would reduce the commercial ACL for mutton 
snapper from 157,743 lb (71,551 kg) to 100,015 lb (45,366 kg), round 
weight, in the 2017 fishing year. Subsequently, the commercial ACL 
would increase annually up to 111,354 lb (50,509 kg), round weight, in 
the 2020 and subsequent fishing years. Since 2012, annual total 
commercial landings of mutton snapper have been less than 93,000 lb 
(42,184 kg), round weight. Therefore, the proposed commercial ACL is 
expected to have no impact on small businesses.
    The proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit for mutton 
snapper from 16 inches (41 cm) to 18 inches (46 cm), TL. The minimum 
size limit increase could reduce average annual landings by 3.8 
percent. With average annual landings of 217 lb (98 kg), gutted weight, 
of mutton snapper per vessel, a 3.8 percent reduction in mutton snapper 
landings would reduce the average vessel's landings of mutton snapper 
by approximately 8 lb (4 kg), gutted weight, and its dockside revenue 
by $24.82 annually. That loss represents approximately 0.05 percent of 
the average vessel's annual dockside revenue from all landings 
($54,078).
    Amendment 41 would designate April, May, and June as spawning 
months and the proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit 
for each person of 5 mutton snapper per day or per trip, whichever is 
more restrictive, during those 3 months. There is currently a seasonal 
harvest limitation (equivalent to a commercial trip limit), for a 
vessel with a Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-
grouper, for each person of 10 mutton snapper per day or per trip, 
whichever is more restrictive, during May and June each year, and no 
commercial trip limit during the rest of the year. Based on the average 
numbers of 2 crew members and 2 days per commercial trip for those 
vessels that landed mutton snapper in all months every year from 2010 
through 2014, NMFS expects the limit of 5 mutton snapper per person per 
commercial trip would be the more restrictive limit.
    NMFS estimates the maximum number of mutton snapper that could be 
landed by a vessel during the three designated spawning months with the 
average number of crew, regardless of gear, would be equal to or 
greater than the expected number of mutton snapper that would be landed 
during those months. Therefore, the commercial trip limit during the 
spawning months is expected to have no impact on small businesses.
    The proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit of 500 lb 
(227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper per trip during the 9 non-
spawning months of the fishing year. From 2010 through 2014, an annual 
average of 4 vessels collectively made 7 trips that landed more than 
500 lb (227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper. The four vessels and 
seven trips represent 1.5 percent of the average annual vessels and 0.5 
percent of the average annual trips that landed mutton snapper. The 
four vessels also represent up to 1.7 percent of the small businesses 
that could be directly affected by the proposed rule. NMFS estimates 
these 4 vessels would lose an average weight of mutton snapper landings 
425 lb (193 kg), gutted weight, for each trip over the 500 lb (227 kg), 
round weight, limit, and their combined losses would be 2,975 lb (1,349 
kg) gutted weight, annually. The average annual loss for each these 4 
vessels would be approximately 744 lb (337 kg), gutted weight, with a 
dockside value of $2,239. That decrease represents approximately 4.1 
percent of the average annual dockside revenue for all vessels that 
land mutton snapper; however, these four vessels have much higher than 
average landings and are expected to have annual revenues higher than 
the average.
    In conclusion, NMFS estimates 98.5 percent of the vessels and 
approximately 99 percent of the small businesses would have a 0.05 
percent decrease in average annual total dockside revenue because of 
this proposed rule. NMFS also estimates 1.5 percent of the vessels and 
approximately 1 percent of the small businesses that land over 500 lb 
(227 kg), round weight, of mutton snapper in a trip could experience a 
decrease in annual revenue of up to 4.1 percent; however, that 
percentage is based on the average vessel that lands mutton snapper and 
these 4 vessels have above average landings and revenues.
    Because this proposed rule would not have a significant economic 
effect on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.
    No new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements 
are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, this proposed rule 
does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act.

[[Page 49171]]

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Mutton snapper, South Atlantic.

    Dated: October 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:

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

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

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


Sec.  622.184  [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  622.184, remove and reserve paragraph (b).
0
3. In Sec.  622.185, revise paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.185  Size limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (4) Mutton snapper--18 inches (45.7 cm), TL.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  622.187, revise paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.187  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Snappers, combined--10. (i) Within the 10-fish bag limit, no 
more than 5 fish may be mutton snapper.
    (ii) Excluded from this 10-fish bag limit are cubera snapper, 
measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in the South Atlantic off 
Florida, and red snapper and vermilion snapper. (See Sec.  
622.181(b)(2) for the prohibitions on harvest or possession of red 
snapper, except during a limited recreational fishing season, and Sec.  
622.181(c)(1) for limitations on cubera snapper measuring 30 inches 
(76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in or from the South Atlantic EEZ off 
Florida.)
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  622.191, add paragraph (a)(13) to read as follows:


 622.191  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (13) Mutton snapper. The following commercial trip limits apply 
until the applicable commercial ACL in Sec.  622.193(o)(1)(iii) is 
reached. See Sec.  622.193(o)(1) for the limitations regarding mutton 
snapper after the commercial ACL is reached.
    (i) From January 1 through March 31, and July 1 through December 
31--500 lb (227 kg), round weight.
    (ii) From April 1 through June 30--5 fish per person per day or 5 
fish per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive.
* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  622.193, revise paragraph (o) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.193  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (o) Mutton snapper--(1) Commercial sector. (i) If commercial 
landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are 
projected to reach the applicable commercial ACL specified in paragraph 
(o)(1)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the 
remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such 
a notification, all sale or purchase of mutton snapper is prohibited 
and harvest or possession of mutton snapper in or from the South 
Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession limits. These bag and 
possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for 
which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, without regard to where 
such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters.
    (ii) If commercial landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by the 
SRD, exceed the applicable commercial ACL specified in paragraph 
(o)(1)(iii) of this section, and the applicable combined commercial and 
recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(3) of this section is 
exceeded during the same fishing year, and the species is overfished 
based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, 
the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register 
to reduce the commercial ACL in the following fishing year by the 
amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year.
    (iii) The commercial ACLs for the following fishing years are given 
in round weight. For 2017--100,015 lb (45,366 kg); for 2018--104,231 lb 
(47,278 kg); for 2019--107,981 lb (48,979 kg); for 2020 and subsequent 
fishing years--111,354 lb (50,509 kg).
    (2) Recreational sector. (i) If recreational landings for mutton 
snapper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the 
applicable recreational ACL specified in paragraph (o)(2)(iii) of this 
section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal 
Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the 
fishing year regardless if the stock is overfished, unless NMFS 
determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific 
information available. On and after the effective date of such a 
notification, the bag and possession limits for mutton snapper in or 
from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero.
    (ii) If recreational landings for mutton snapper, as estimated by 
the SRD, exceed the applicable recreational ACL specified in paragraph 
(o)(2)(iii) of this section, then during the following fishing year 
recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased 
landings, and if necessary, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to reduce the length of the recreational 
fishing season and the recreational ACL by the amount of the 
recreational ACL overage, if the species is overfished based on the 
most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and if the 
applicable combined commercial and recreational ACL specified in 
paragraph (o)(3) of this section is exceeded during the same fishing 
year. NMFS will use the best scientific information available to 
determine if reducing the length of the recreational fishing season and 
recreational ACL is necessary. When the recreational sector is closed 
as a result of NMFS reducing the length of the recreational fishing 
season and ACL, the bag and possession limits for mutton snapper in or 
from the South Atlantic EEZ are zero.
    (iii) The recreational ACLs for the following fishing years are 
given in numbers of fish. For 2017--116,127; for 2018--121,318; for 
2019--124,766; for 2020 and subsequent fishing years--127,115.
    (3) The combined commercial and recreational ACLs for the following 
fishing years are given in round weight. For 2017--587,633 lb (266,546 
kg); for 2018--612,401 lb (277,780 kg); for 2019--634,435 lb (287,775 
kg); for 2020 and subsequent fishing years--654,257 lb (296,766 kg).
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-23002 Filed 10-23-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P