Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan, 52851-52861 [2017-24710]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Fraser River Panel Order Number 2017– 06: Issued 12:15 p.m., September 12, 2017 Treaty Indian and All Citizen Fisheries Areas 6, 6A, and 7: Relinquish regulatory control effective 12:01 a.m., Sunday, September 24, 2017. Classification The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries NOAA (AA), finds that good cause exists for the inseason orders to be issued without affording the public prior notice and opportunity for comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such prior notice and opportunity for comments is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment is impracticable because NMFS has insufficient time to allow for prior notice and opportunity for public comment between the time the stock abundance information is available to determine how much fishing can be allowed and the time the fishery must open and close in order to harvest the appropriate amount of fish while they are available. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date, required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), of the inseason orders. A delay in the effective date of the inseason orders would not allow fishers appropriately controlled access to the available fish at that time they are available. This action is authorized by 50 CFR 300.97, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 3636(b). Dated: November 9, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–24715 Filed 11–14–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 160229161–7898–02] sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES RIN 0648–BF86 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 ACTION: Final rule. This final rule implements management measures previously approved for Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan and publicizes status quo management measures for 2018. Amendment 6 was developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to establish management measures and 2017 harvest limits for the blueline tilefish fishery north of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The intended effect of this action is to establish permanent management measures for this fishery, consistent with requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. DATES: This rule is effective December 15, 2017. ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 6 and the Environmental Assessment (EA), with its associated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), are available from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901. The Amendment 6 EA/FONSI/RIR is also accessible online at: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9341. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background This final rule concurrently approves Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce and finalizes implementing regulations. The MidAtlantic Fishery Management Council developed this amendment to establish management measures for the blueline tilefish fishery in Federal waters north of the Virginia/North Carolina border, consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). We published a notice of availability on June 14, 2017 (82 FR 27223), announcing a 60-day period for the public to review and provide comments on whether we, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, should approve Amendment 6. This comment period ended on August 14, 2017. On June 28, 2017, we published a proposed rule (82 FR 29263) to implement the amendment’s specific measures and solicited comments on the proposed measures for a 30-day period that ended on July 28, 2017. We reviewed all comments received during these comment periods, whether directed at our approval decision or the PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52851 proposed regulations. See Comments and Responses section for more information. Now, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, we are approving and implementing Amendment 6, consistent with the review and approval process outlined in section 304 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1854). Amendment 6 Approved Measures We are approving all Amendment 6 measures, as outlined in our June 28, 2017, proposed rule. However, given their complexity and novelty, development and implementation of permitting and reporting measures for private recreational vessels will take significantly more time than the other, more traditional management measures in this action. Therefore, we are approving, but delaying implementation of, the recreational permitting and reporting requirements. More information on the approved measures is outlined below. Management Unit, FMP Objectives, Status Determination Criteria The management unit for blueline tilefish encompasses the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the North Carolina/Virginia border (36.550278 N. Latitude) extending north to the maritime boundary with Canada. This management unit is consistent with the Council’s management unit for golden tilefish. Amendment 6 establishes the management objectives of the current Tilefish FMP to apply for blueline tilefish as well, with the addition that, ‘‘management will reflect blueline tilefish’s susceptibility of overfishing and the need of an analytical stock assessment.’’ Section 303(a)(10) of the MagnusonStevens Act requires that FMPs specify criteria for identifying when the fishery is overfished. Amendment 6 defines stock status determination criteria for blueline tilefish based on the results of the most recent approved stock assessment, which is consistent with all of the Council’s other FMPs. The Council anticipates new stock status determination criteria will be established through a stock assessment currently being jointly conducted by the South Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review process (SEDAR 50). The assessment report is expected in the fall of 2017. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires all FMPs contain measures that are ‘‘necessary and appropriate for the conservation and management of the E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 52852 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations fishery to prevent overfishing.’’ There is insufficient scientific information currently available to establish a quantitative overfishing limit for the blueline tilefish population in the MidAtlantic. Analysis conducted by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) found that constraining catch of Mid-Atlantic blueline tilefish to the recommended acceptable biological catch (ABC) of 87,031 pounds (lb) (39,476 kilograms (kg)) would be unlikely to result in overfishing. Because this harvest limit is set at a level sufficient to prevent overfishing, it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement at 303(a)(1)(A). Permitting and Reporting Requirements Commercial Vessels A commercial fishing vessel is required to be issued an open-access tilefish commercial vessel permit in order to retain and land blueline tilefish. This is the same vessel permit required for vessels fishing for golden tilefish; a vessel that has this permit already does not need a separate permit. Vessel owners and operators are subject to the current requirements to have an operator permit and to maintain and submit Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) for each fishing trip. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES For-Hire Vessels Fishing vessels that carry recreational anglers for hire are required to have an open-access tilefish charter/party vessel permit in order to fish for, retain, or land blueline tilefish. This is the same charter/party vessel permit for golden tilefish, so a vessel that has this permit already does not need a separate permit. Vessel owners and operators would be subject to the current requirements to have an operator permit and to maintain and submit VTRs for each fishing trip. Commercial Dealers A commercial seafood dealer must have a tilefish dealer permit in order to purchase, possess, or receive blueline tilefish harvested from the Tilefish Management Unit. This is the same dealer permit already in use for dealers of golden tilefish in the region. Details about permit requirements for commercial fishing vessels, party/ charter vessels, vessel operators, and commercial dealers, including application forms, are available at: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ aps/permits/index.html. Private Recreational Vessels With this action we approve the Amendment 6 requirement for private recreational vessels to obtain a permit to VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 fish for or retain golden or blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management Unit. However, additional development work is necessary before we can issue recreational tilefish permits or require private anglers to start reporting their catch. Specific details of a private recreational vessel permit and reporting system will be proposed at a later date with additional opportunity for public comment, consistent with requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. Possession Limits and Fishing Season Commercial Commercial vessels are limited to a maximum possession of 300 lb (136 kg) of blueline tilefish per trip. Blueline tilefish can be gutted, but must be landed with the head and fins naturally attached. Recreational The applicable recreational blueline tilefish possession limit depends on the type of vessel used. Anglers fishing from private vessels are allowed to keep up to three blueline tilefish per person per trip. Anglers fishing from a for-hire vessel that has been issued a valid Tilefish Charter/Party Permit, but does not have a current U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection sticker can retain up to five blueline tilefish per person per trip. Finally, anglers on for-hire vessels that have both a valid Tilefish Charter/Party Permit and a current U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection sticker can retain up to seven blueline tilefish per person per trip. The recreational fishery for blueline tilefish is open from May 1 through October 31, annually. Recreational anglers are prohibited from fishing for or possessing blueline tilefish outside of this season. ABC Risk Policy, Annual Catch Limit Process, and Sector Allocations Section 303(a)(15) of the MagnusonStevens Act requires FMPs to establish a mechanism for specifying annual catch limits (ACL), implementing regulations, or annual specifications to prevent overfishing. In addition, the Act requires the Council’s SSC to provide it with ongoing scientific advice, including recommendations for ABC (see Magnuson-Stevens Act 302(g)(1)(B)). Amendment 6 retains the same ABC control rules and risk policy for blueline tilefish used for other MidAtlantic Council stocks, described in the regulations at 50 CFR 648.20 and 648.21. The ACL process approved for blueline tilefish under Amendment 6 is consistent with the specifications- PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 setting process for other stocks managed by the Council. The Council’s SSC will review the available scientific information, the ABC control rule, and other relevant information before making ABC recommendations to the Council for up to three years. The recommendations of the SSC will be reviewed by the existing Tilefish Monitoring Committee, which will provide recommendations to the Council and/or relevant committee to ensure the blueline tilefish specifications are not exceeded and to address any other operational aspects of the fishery. To establish specific harvest limits, the recommended ABC will be allocated to establish separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors of the fishery (73 percent to recreational and 27 percent to commercial). These ACLs may be reduced to account for management uncertainty to establish annual catch targets (ACTs). Finally, anticipated discards are subtracted to determine the total allowable landings (TAL) amount for each sector. The Council would develop other management measures (seasons, trip limits, etc., as described above) that are expected to meet the TAL and not exceed the ACL. If the Council reestablishes a research set-aside program, up to three percent of the TAL may be set aside in such a program. Accountability Measures The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that FMPs include measures to ensure accountability with ACLs, and NMFS has created guidelines for how management measures might meet this requirement (see § 600.310(g)). This action implements different accountability measures (AMs) to address the particular needs of the commercial and recreational sectors of the fishery. Commercial blueline tilefish landings will be monitored during the fishing year based on dealer reports and other available information. If we determine the commercial TAL will be exceeded, we will close the commercial blueline tilefish fishery, prohibiting possession or landing blueline tilefish for sale for the remainder of the fishing year, through publication of a notice in the Federal Register. If the commercial catch of blueline tilefish exceeds the ACL, we would deduct the amount of the overage from the commercial ACL the following year. Catch data for the recreational fishery is much more uncertain than for the commercial fishery. We will compare the three-year moving average of recreational catch to the three-year average of the recreational ACL to E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations determine whether the ACL has been exceeded and accountability measures for the recreational fishery are warranted. This will be phased in so that catch in 2017 will be compared to the 2017 ACL, and next year the average catch in 2017 and 2018 will be compared to the average ACL in 2017 and 2018. In subsequent years we will use three-year moving averages. If this comparison shows the recreational ACL was exceeded, then the extent of the accountability measure would depend on the status of the stock and the significance of the overage. If the most recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold (i.e., the stock is overfished), the stock is under a rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been exceeded, then in the following fishing year the recreational ACT would be reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year’s recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year’s recreational ACL. Changes to management measures would also be considered through the specifications process to avoid future overages. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., the stock is above the biomass target), then adjustments to the recreational management measures (e.g., changes in per-angler possession limits could be considered to reduce subsequent year’s catch) would be made in the following fishing year, but a reduction in the recreational ACT would not be necessary. If the stock biomass is between these extremes, the accountability measures would be scaled. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above the biomass threshold, but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is greater than 0.5 but less than 1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the severity of the payback would depend on the significance of the overage. If the recreational ACL is exceeded but the overall ABC is not, then adjustments to the recreational management measures would be made in the following fishing year, but a reduction in the recreational ACT would not be necessary. If the ABC is exceeded, in addition to adjusting the recreational management measures, a deduction from the recreational ACT would be made in the following fishing year. The size of the deduction would be proportional to the health of the stock. The ACT would be reduced by the amount of the overage (in pounds) multiplied by a payback coefficient. The payback coefficient would be the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., BMSY¥B) divided by one-half of BMSY. This coefficient allows for a smaller deduction if the stock is close to the biomass target and a larger deduction the more the stock is below the target. The recreational accountability measure is consistent with those in use for other Mid-Atlantic fisheries. Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) We approve the following EFH definition for different life stages of blueline tilefish based on the best available scientific information: Eggs and larvae: Blueline tilefish egg and larval EFH in the Greater Atlantic region is the water column on the outer continental shelf from eastern Georges Bank to the Virginia/North Carolina boundary in depths of 46–256 meters (m) (151–840 feet (ft)). Juveniles and adults: Blueline tilefish juvenile and adult EFH in the Greater Atlantic region is benthic habitats on the outer continental shelf from eastern Georges Bank to the Virginia/North Carolina boundary in depths of 46–256 52853 m (151–840 ft) at bottom water temperatures which range from 8–18° C (46–64 °F). Blueline tilefish create horizontal or vertical burrows in sediments composed of silt, clay, and sand. The Council is currently conducting a comprehensive review of EFH designations and fishery impacts on habitat for all Council-managed species, including blueline tilefish. The EFH Review Fishery Management Action Team will review scientific and technical information on fish habitat and develop recommendations as to whether changes to the existing EFH descriptions and other habitat components of the FMPs are warranted. Based on this review, the Council may choose to modify its FMPs (e.g., revise EFH descriptions, designate Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, or implement other habitat management measures). Framework Adjustment Measures Framework adjustments allow the Council to make changes to management measures that were previously considered in the FMP or FMP amendment through a more efficient process than a full FMP amendment. The full list of blueline tilefish management measures that could be changed by framework adjustment were published in the proposed rule and are not repeated here. 2017 Specifications Table 1 outlines catch limits for blueline tilefish for the 2017 fishing year. We will count landings of blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish Management Unit that have already occurred in 2017 against these limits when determining if a harvest limit has been met or exceeded. TABLE 1—2017 BLUELINE TILEFISH SPECIFICATIONS Specification Recreational ABC .................................................................... ACLs ................................................................... ACTs ................................................................... TALs ................................................................... sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES 2018 Specifications The regulations at § 648.292(b)(2) state in part that the previous year’s specifications will remain effective unless revised through the specification process and/or the research quota process described in paragraph (b)(3) of the section and NMFS will issue notification in the Federal Register if VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 Commercial 87,031 lb (39,476 kg) 63,533 lb (28,818 kg) ....................................... 63,533 lb (28,818 kg) ....................................... 62,262 lb (28,242 kg) ....................................... the previous year’s specifications will not be changed. At its April 2017 meeting, the Council voted to maintain status quo specifications for the 2018 blueline tilefish fishing year. As a result, we do not intend to change the 2017 blueline tilefish specifications for next year, so the status quo measures remain effective for through December 31, 2018. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 23,498 lb (10,658 kg). 23,498 lb (10,658 kg). 23,263 lb (10,552 kg). Comments and Responses We received 42 comments on the notice of availability and proposed rule. The majority of comments were from individuals. Four commenters selfidentified as owners of for-hire recreational vessels. One commenter identified as president of a recreational saltwater fishing association with over E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 52854 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES 600 members. Two commenters did not specifically address any of the proposed measures. One was generally supportive of the proposed action while the other simply opposed all commercial fishing. Detailed comments and our responses are grouped by topic below. Recreational Possession Limit Comments Numerous commenters expressed opposition to the proposed tiered recreational possession limits. A dozen commenters said the limits unfairly favored for-hire vessels. Ten commenters stated the three-fish per person limit for private vessels was unreasonably low. Twenty commenters generally opposed any differentiation between aspects of the recreational fishery. Six individuals stated the low limit would increase dead discards of blueline tilefish when anglers target cooccurring species such as golden tilefish or black sea bass. Twenty-five commenters expressed support for the seven-fish per person limit across the board that was in the Council’s public hearing draft of the Amendment. Response: The Council’s analysis indicated management measures needed to constrain recreational catch by 50 percent, relative to the 2014/2015 average, to stay below the ACL. A yearround season and seven-fish per person possession limit would not have achieved this target. The available VTR data indicate that per-person catch rates of blueline tilefish are lower on charter boats than party boats, and public comment indicted that the retention rate on private vessels is lower than on either type of for-hire vessel. Based on this information, the Council devised a set of possession limits to reflect this pattern and spread the reduction across the recreational sector of the fishery equitably, such that each vessel group would be subject to the same relative restriction. We recognize anglers may inadvertently exceed the blueline tilefish possession limit when targeting other species. We hope people will try to avoid this situation, and encourage them to visit our Web site https://www. greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainable/recfishing/ for information on best practices, including the use of descending devices to minimize barotrauma in released fish. If additional catch information becomes available that indicates a single possession limit is more equitable, the Council may revise these measures through the specifications process if necessary. The effective date of this action has been set such that the new recreational possession limits will not take effect until the fishery opens on VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 May 1, 2018, to avoid confusion of setting a new possession limit just before the new annual closure. Recreational Closed Season Comments A majority of commenters (26) expressed opposition to the proposed recreational closed season. Twenty commenters noted they typically catch blueline tilefish and black sea bass together and seasons for these species need to be coordinated to avoid excessive discard of either species. Several individuals stated blueline tilefish is one of the few species available during the winter months, and a closure could preclude any recreational fishing during that time. Response: As mentioned above, the Council developed recreational measures to affect a 50-percent reduction in catch relative to the 2014/ 2015 average. The result is as a combination of tiered possession limits and a closed season that the available data suggest will achieve this goal. The available catch data indicate a closure from November through April would account for a 19-percent reduction in recreational catch. That combined with the expected impact of the possession limits should allow the recreational TAL to be achieved, but not exceeded. The Council could have chosen to coordinate its blueline tilefish recreational season with its existing season for black sea bass, but did not. However, the Council can re-evaluate recreational measures through the specifications process. Recreational Permit Comments One commenter expressed opposition to a requirement for another vessel permit for his charter boat. A few commenters noted Virginia already has recreational permit and reporting requirements, and any new requirements may be redundant. One commenter supported the proposed permit for private recreational vessels, suggesting we require vessels get a letter of authorization (LOA) until the new recreational permit is fully implemented. Response: This action does not create a new charter/party vessel permit for blueline tilefish. Rather, we are using the existing permit for golden tilefish that most, if not all, for-hire vessels have. Therefore, if you already have the Tilefish Party/Charter vessel permit no further action is needed. The potential to use existing permitting and reporting requirements and avoid duplication is one of the factors we will be looking into as we work to implement the private recreational permitting and reporting aspects of Amendment 6. PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Likewise, we will consider whether an LOA program to begin collecting data about recreational effort while measures that are more permanent are developed and implemented is feasible and cost effective. Council Process Comments Apart from the specific comments on the recreational possession limits and closed season addressed above, the recreational fishing association and several individuals submitted matching comments opposing the process by which the Council selected those measures. These 20 commenters feel they did not have an adequate opportunity to express to the Council their opposition to these measures, and, therefore, ask the Secretary to disapprove the Amendment and remand it to the Council for further public input. Response: The Council developed a range of potential management measures then sought public comment on a draft of Amendment 6, including a series of public hearings. While the Council typically selects its preferred measures from among those in the draft document, it is not required to do so. The purpose of the public hearings is to solicit feedback that could improve the measures under consideration. During the public hearings, the Council received comments that led to the development of tiered possession limits based on the type of vessel. As mentioned above in the response to comments on the possession limit, these measures were intended to spread the catch reductions more equitably across the fishery. Similarly, public comment led to the consideration of a closed season in order to maintain a higher bag limit when the fishery is open. These new measures were discussed publicly during the April 2016 Council meeting before the Council voted to select preferred alternatives and approve Amendment 6. Because some measures were developed after the regular public hearing process, the Council took the unusual step of holding an additional webinar-based public hearing in June 2016, with the option to reconsider its decisions later during the June 2016 Council meeting after reviewing submitted comments. Economic Impact Comments Many individuals cited the time and expense that recreational anglers invest to participate in this fishery. These individuals indicated that a closed season, and to a lesser extent low possession limits, could have adverse impact on local businesses. E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Response: We acknowledge the economic contributions that recreational fishing can have in coastal communities. NMFS conducts nationwide surveys of marine anglers to assess those impacts and better inform our management decisions. The recreational fishery for blueline tilefish in the MidAtlantic is relatively small, and the number of participants has not historically been well documented. The analysis of the anticipated economic impacts of this action indicate some potential adverse impact resulting from the possession limits and closed season. However, those impacts should be limited and temporary if the measures result in the expected increase in the blueline tilefish stock size. Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes to the measures from the proposed rule. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has determined that this final rule is consistent with Amendment 6, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866, this rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES Dated: November 9, 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 648 is amended as follows: 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.1, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: ■ § 648.1 Purpose and scope. (a) This part implements the fishery management plans (FMPs) for the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries (Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP); Atlantic salmon (Atlantic Salmon FMP); the Atlantic sea scallop fishery (Scallop FMP); the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries (Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog FMP); the NE multispecies and monkfish fisheries ((NE Multispecies FMP) and (Monkfish FMP)); the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries (Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP); the Atlantic bluefish fishery (Atlantic Bluefish FMP); the Atlantic herring fishery (Atlantic Herring FMP); the spiny dogfish fishery (Spiny Dogfish FMP); the Atlantic deepsea red crab fishery (Deep-Sea Red Crab FMP); the golden and blueline tilefish fisheries (Tilefish FMP); and the NE skate complex fisheries (Skate FMP). These FMPs and the regulations in this part govern the conservation and management of the above named fisheries of the Northeastern United States. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.2: ■ a. Add in alphabetical order the definition of ‘‘Blueline tilefish;’’ ■ b. Revise paragraph 4 of the definition for ‘‘Fishing year;’’ ■ c. Add in alphabetical order the definition of ‘‘Golden tilefish;’’ and ■ d. Revise paragraph 2 of the definition for ‘‘Lessee,’’ paragraph 2 of the definition for ‘‘Lessor,’’ and the definitions for ‘‘Tilefish,’’ ‘‘Tilefish FMP Monitoring Committee,’’ and ‘‘Tilefish Management Unit.’’ The additions and revisions read as follows: § 648.2 Definitions. * Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES * * * * Blueline tilefish means Caulolatilus microps. * * * * * Fishing year * * * (4) For the golden tilefish fishery, from November 1 through October 31 of the following year. * * * * * Golden tilefish means Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52855 Lessee * * * (2) A person or entity eligible to hold golden tilefish IFQ allocation, who receives temporarily transferred golden tilefish IFQ allocation, as specified at § 648.294(e)(1). Lessor * * * (2) An IFQ allocation permit holder who temporarily transfers golden tilefish IFQ allocation, as specified at § 648.294(e)(1). * * * * * Tilefish means golden tilefish and blueline tilefish, collectively, unless otherwise noted. Tilefish FMP Monitoring Committee means a committee made up of staff representatives of the MAFMC, the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, up to three state representatives (the New England states having one representative and the MidAtlantic states having a maximum of two representatives) and one non-voting industry member. The MAFMC Executive Director or his designee chairs the committee. Tilefish Management Unit means an area of the Atlantic Ocean from the latitude of the VA and NC border (36°33.36′ N. Lat.), extending eastward from the shore to the outer boundary of the exclusive economic zone and northward to the United States-Canada border in which the United States exercises exclusive jurisdiction over all golden tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) and blueline tilefish (Caulolatilus microps) fished for, possessed, caught or retained in or from such area. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 648.4, paragraphs (a)(12) and (b)(1)(i) are revised to read as follows: § 648.4 Vessel permits. (a) * * * (12) Tilefish vessels—(i) Commercial vessel permits. Any vessel of the United States must have been issued, under this part, and carry on board, a valid commercial vessel permit to fish for, possess, or land golden tilefish or blueline tilefish for a commercial purpose, in or from the Tilefish Management Unit. (A) A commercial vessel must fish under the authorization of a golden tilefish IFQ allocation permit, issued pursuant to § 648.294, to possess, or land golden tilefish in excess of the trip limit as specified under § 648.295(a). (B) [Reserved] (ii) Party and charter vessel permits. Any party or charter vessel must have been issued, under this part, a Federal charter/party vessel permit to fish for E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES 52856 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations either golden tilefish or blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management Unit, if it carries passengers for hire. Such vessel must observe the recreational possession limits as specified at § 648.296 and the prohibition on sale. * * * * * (b) Permit conditions. (1)(i) Any person who applies for and is issued or renews a fishing permit under this section agrees, as a condition of the permit, that the vessel and the vessel’s fishing activity, catch, and pertinent gear (without regard to whether such fishing occurs in the EEZ or landward of the EEZ; and without regard to where such fish or gear are possessed, taken, or landed); are subject to all requirements of this part, unless exempted from such requirements under this part. All such fishing activities, catch, and gear will remain subject to all applicable state requirements. Except as otherwise provided in this part, if a requirement of this part and a management measure required by a state or local law differ, any vessel owner permitted to fish in the EEZ for any species managed under this part, except tilefish, must comply with the more restrictive requirement. Except as otherwise provided in this part, if a requirement of this part and a management measure required by a state or local law differ, any vessel owner permitted to fish in the tilefish management unit for tilefish managed under this part must comply with the more restrictive requirement. Owners and operators of vessels fishing under the terms of a summer flounder moratorium, scup moratorium, or black sea bass moratorium; or a spiny dogfish or bluefish commercial vessel permit, must also agree not to land summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, spiny dogfish, or bluefish, respectively, in any state after NMFS has published a notification in the Federal Register stating that the commercial quota for that state or period has been harvested and that no commercial quota is available for the respective species. A state not receiving an allocation of summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, or bluefish, either directly or through a coast-wide allocation, is deemed to have no commercial quota available. Owners and operators of vessels fishing under the terms of the tilefish commercial permit must agree not to land golden tilefish or blueline tilefish after NMFS has published a notification in the Federal Register stating that the respective quota for the golden tilefish incidental fishery and/or the commercial blueline tilefish fishery has been harvested, as described in VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 § 648.295, unless landing golden tilefish authorized under a golden tilefish IFQ allocation permit. Owners or operators fishing for surfclams and ocean quahogs within waters under the jurisdiction of any state that requires cage tags are not subject to any conflicting Federal minimum size or tagging requirements. If a surfclam and ocean quahog requirement of this part differs from a surfclam and ocean quahog management measure required by a state that does not require cage tagging, any vessel owners or operators permitted to fish in the EEZ for surfclams and ocean quahogs must comply with the more restrictive requirement while fishing in state waters. However, surrender of a surfclam and ocean quahog vessel permit by the owner by certified mail addressed to the Regional Administrator allows an individual to comply with the less restrictive state minimum size requirement, as long as fishing is conducted exclusively within state waters. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.5, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows: § 648.5 Operator permits. (a) General. Any operator of a vessel fishing for or possessing: Atlantic sea scallops, NE multispecies, spiny dogfish, monkfish, Atlantic herring, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, Atlantic mackerel, squid, butterfish, scup, black sea bass, or Atlantic bluefish, harvested in or from the EEZ; golden tilefish or blueline tilefish harvested in or from the EEZ portion of the Tilefish Management Unit; skates harvested in or from the EEZ portion of the Skate Management Unit; or Atlantic deep-sea red crab harvested in or from the EEZ portion of the Red Crab Management Unit, issued a permit, including carrier and processing permits, for these species under this part, must have been issued under this section, and carry on board, a valid operator permit. An operator’s permit issued pursuant to part 622 or part 697 of this chapter satisfies the permitting requirement of this section. This requirement does not apply to operators of recreational vessels. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 648.6, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows: § 648.6 Dealer/processor permits. (a) General. (1) All dealers of NE multispecies, monkfish, skates, Atlantic herring, Atlantic sea scallop, Atlantic deep-sea red crab, spiny dogfish, summer flounder, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, Atlantic mackerel, squid, PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 butterfish, scup, bluefish, golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, and black sea bass; Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog processors; Atlantic hagfish dealers and/or processors, and Atlantic herring processors or dealers, as described in § 648.2; must have been issued under this section, and have in their possession, a valid permit or permits for these species. * * * * * ■ 7. In § 648.14, paragraph (u) is revised to read as follows: § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (u) Golden and blueline tilefish. It is unlawful for any person owning or operating a vessel to do any of the following: (1) Permit requirements—(i) Operator permit. Operate, or act as an operator of, a vessel with a tilefish permit, or a vessel fishing for or possessing golden or blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, unless the operator has been issued, and is in possession of, a valid operator permit. This requirement does not apply to operators of private recreational vessels. (ii) Dealer permit. Purchase, possess, receive for a commercial purpose; or attempt to purchase, possess, or receive for a commercial purpose; as a dealer, or in the capacity of a dealer, golden or blueline tilefish that were harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, without having been issued, and in possession of, a valid tilefish dealer permit. (iii) Vessel permit. (A) Sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer from a vessel; or attempt to sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer from a vessel; for a commercial purpose, other than solely for transport on land, any golden or blueline tilefish, unless the vessel has been issued a commercial tilefish permit, or unless the tilefish were harvested by a vessel without a commercial tilefish permit that fished exclusively in State waters. (B) Operate a vessel that takes recreational fishermen for hire to fish for golden or blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management Unit without a valid tilefish charter/party vessel permit, as required in § 648.4(a)(12)(i). (2) Possession and landing. (i) Fish for, possess, retain, or land golden or blueline tilefish, unless: (A) The tilefish are being fished for or were harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit by a vessel holding a valid tilefish permit under this part, and the operator on board such vessel has been issued an operator permit that is on board the vessel. E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations (B) The tilefish were harvested by a vessel that has not been issued a tilefish permit and that was fishing exclusively in State waters. (C) The tilefish were harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit by a vessel, other than a charter/party vessel, that is engaged in recreational fishing. (ii) Land or possess golden or blueline tilefish harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, in excess of either: (A) The relevant commercial trip limit specified at § 648.295, unless possessing golden tilefish authorized pursuant to a valid tilefish IFQ allocation permit, as specified in § 648.294(a). (B) The relevant recreational possession limit specified at § 648.296, if engaged in recreational fishing including charter/party vessels. (iii) Land golden tilefish harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit in excess of that authorized under a tilefish IFQ allocation permit as described at § 648.294(a). (iv) Fish for golden or blueline tilefish inside and outside of the Tilefish Management Unit on the same trip. (v) Discard golden tilefish harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, as defined in § 648.2, unless participating in recreational fishing, as defined in § 648.2, or while fishing subject to a trip limit pursuant to § 648.295(a). (vi) Land or possess golden tilefish in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid tilefish permit under this part, after the incidental golden tilefish fishery is closed pursuant to § 648.295(a)(2), unless fishing under a valid tilefish IFQ allocation permit as specified in § 648.294(a), or engaged in recreational fishing. (vii) Land or possess blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid tilefish permit under this part, after the commercial blueline tilefish fishery is closed pursuant to § 648.295(b)(2), unless engaged in recreational fishing. (viii) Land or possess blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid commercial tilefish permit under this part, that do not have the head and fins naturally attached to the fish. (3) Transfer and purchase. (i) Purchase, possess, or receive for a commercial purpose, other than solely for transport on land; or attempt to purchase, possess, or receive for a commercial purpose, other than solely for transport on land; golden or blueline tilefish caught by a vessel without a tilefish permit, unless the tilefish were harvested by a vessel without a tilefish VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 permit that fished exclusively in State waters. (ii) Purchase or otherwise receive for commercial purposes golden or blueline tilefish caught in the EEZ from outside the Tilefish Management Unit unless otherwise permitted under 50 CFR part 622. (4) Presumption. For purposes of this part, the following presumption applies: All golden or blueline tilefish retained or possessed on a vessel issued any permit under § 648.4 are deemed to have been harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, unless the preponderance of all submitted evidence demonstrates that such tilefish were harvested by a vessel fishing exclusively in state waters. * * * * * ■ 8. The heading for subpart N is revised to read as follows: Subpart N—Management Measures for the Golden Tilefish and Blueline Tilefish Fisheries 9. Section 648.290 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.290 (ACL). Tilefish Annual Catch Limits (a) Golden tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC an ACL for the commercial golden tilefish fishery, which shall be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC. (1) [Reserved] (2) Periodicity. The tilefish commercial ACL may be established on an annual basis for up to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC recommendations. (b) Blueline tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational blueline tilefish fisheries, the sum total of which shall be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC. (1) Sector allocations. The ACL for the commercial sector of the blueline tilefish fishery shall be 27 percent of the ABC, and the ACL for the recreational sector of the fishery shall be 73 percent of the ABC. (2) Periodicity. The blueline tilefish commercial and recreational ACLs may be established on an annual basis for up to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC recommendations. (c) Performance review. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall conduct a detailed review of golden tilefish and blueline tilefish fishery performance PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52857 relative to the appropriate sector ACLs at least every 5 years. (1) If an ACL is exceeded with a frequency greater than 25 percent (i.e., more than once in 4 years or in any 2 consecutive years), the Tilefish Monitoring Committee will review fishery performance information and make recommendations to the MAFMC for changes in measures intended to ensure ACLs are not as frequently exceeded. (2) The MAFMC may specify more frequent or more specific ACL performance review criteria as part of a stock rebuilding plan following a determination that either the golden tilefish or blueline tilefish stock has become overfished. (3) Performance reviews shall not substitute for annual reviews that occur to ascertain if prior year ACLs have been exceeded, but may be conducted in conjunction with such reviews. ■ 10. Section 648.291 is revised to read as follows: § 648.291 (ACT). Tilefish Annual Catch Targets (a) Golden tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall identify and review the relevant sources of management uncertainty to recommend an ACT as part of the golden tilefish specification process. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee recommendations shall identify the specific sources of management uncertainty that were considered, technical approaches to mitigating these sources of uncertainty, and any additional relevant information considered in the ACT recommendation process. (1) Sectors. The ACT shall be less than or equal to the ACL. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall include the fishing mortality associated with the recreational fishery in its ACT recommendations only if this source of mortality has not already been accounted for in the ABC recommended by the SSC. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address sector-specific management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (a) of this section. (2) Periodicity. ACTs may be established on an annual basis for up to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC recommendations. (b) Blueline tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall identify and review the relevant sources of management uncertainty to recommend ACTs for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors as part of the E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 52858 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations blueline tilefish specification process. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee recommendations shall identify the specific sources of management uncertainty that were considered, technical approaches to mitigating these sources of uncertainty, and any additional relevant information considered in the ACT recommendation process. (1) Sectors. Commercial and recreational specific ACTs shall be less than or equal to the sector-specific ACLs. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address sector-specific management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (b) of this section. (2) Periodicity. ACTs may be established on an annual basis for up to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC recommendations. (c) Performance review. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall conduct a detailed review of golden tilefish and blueline tilefish fishery performance relative to the appropriate ACTs in conjunction with any ACL performance review, as outlined in § 648.290(c)(1) through (3). ■ 11. Section 648.292 is revised to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES § 648.292 Tilefish specifications. (a) Golden Tilefish. The golden tilefish fishing year is the 12-month period beginning with November 1, annually. (1) Annual specification process. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall review the ABC recommendation of the SSC, golden tilefish landings and discards information, and any other relevant available data to determine if the golden tilefish ACL, ACT, or total allowable landings (TAL) requires modification to respond to any changes to the golden tilefish stock’s biological reference points or to ensure that the rebuilding schedule is maintained. The Monitoring Committee will consider whether any additional management measures or revisions to existing measures are necessary to ensure that the TAL will not be exceeded. Based on that review, the Monitoring Committee will recommend golden tilefish ACL, ACT, and TAL to the Tilefish Committee of the MAFMC. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received, the Tilefish Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC the appropriate golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL, and other management measures for a single fishing year or up to three years. The MAFMC shall review these recommendations and any public VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 comments received, and recommend to the Regional Administrator, at least 120 days prior to the beginning of the next fishing year, the appropriate golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL, the percentage of TAL allocated to research quota, and any management measures to ensure that the TAL will not be exceeded, for the next fishing year, or up to three fishing years. The MAFMC’s recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental and economic impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall review these recommendations, and after such review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register specifying the annual golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL and any management measures to ensure that the TAL will not be exceeded for the upcoming fishing year or years. After considering public comments, NMFS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register to implement the golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL and any management measures. The previous year’s specifications will remain effective unless revised through the specification process and/or the research quota process described in paragraph (a)(5) of this section. NMFS will issue notification in the Federal Register if the previous year’s specifications will not be changed. (2) Total Allowable Landings (TAL). (i) The TAL for each fishing year will be specified pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section. (ii) The sum of the TAL and the estimated discards shall be less than or equal to the ACT. (3) TAL allocation. For each fishing year, up to three percent of the golden tilefish TAL may be set aside for the purpose of funding research. Once a research amount, if any, is set aside, the golden tilefish TAL will first be reduced by 5 percent to adjust for the incidental catch. The remaining TAL will be allocated to the individual IFQ permit holders as described in § 648.294(a). (4) Adjustments to the quota. If the incidental harvest exceeds 5 percent of the golden tilefish TAL for a given fishing year, the incidental trip limit specified at § 648.295(a)(1) may be reduced in the following fishing year. If an adjustment is required, a notification of adjustment of the quota will be published in the Federal Register. (5) Research quota. See § 648.22(g). (b) Blueline tilefish. The blueline tilefish fishing year is the calendar year beginning on January 1, annually. (1) Recommended measures. Based on annual review, the Tilefish Monitoring PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Committee shall recommend to the Tilefish Committee of the MAFMC measures to ensure that the ACLs specified by the process outlined in § 648.290(b), including: (i) Total Allowable Landings (TAL) for both the commercial and recreational sectors for each fishing year, where the sum of the TAL and sector-specific estimated discards shall be less than or equal to the sector ACT; (ii) Research quota for both the commercial and recreational sectors set from a range of 0 to three percent of the TAL, as described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section; (iii) Commercial trip limit; (iv) Commercial minimum fish size; (v) Recreational possession limit; (vi) Recreational minimum fish size; (vii) Recreational season; (viii) Retention requirements; and/or (ix) Any other measure needed to ensure the ACLs are not exceeded. (2) Annual specification process. The Tilefish Committee of the MAFMC shall review the recommendations of the Tilefish Monitoring Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received, the Tilefish Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC the appropriate ACL, ACT, TAL, and other management measures for the blueline tilefish commercial and recreational sectors for a single fishing year or up to three years. The MAFMC shall review these recommendations and any public comments received, and recommend to the Regional Administrator, at least 120 days prior to the beginning of the next fishing year, the appropriate blueline tilefish ACLs, ACTs, TALs, the percentage of TAL allocated to research quota, and any management measures to ensure that the sector ACLs will not be exceeded, for the next fishing year, or up to three fishing years. The MAFMC’s recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental and economic impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall review these recommendations, and after such review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register specifying the annual blueline tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL and any management measures for the blueline tilefish commercial and recreational sectors to ensure that the sector ACLs will not be exceeded for the upcoming fishing year or years. After considering public comments, NMFS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register to implement the blueline tilefish commercial and recreational ACLs, ACTs, TALs and any management measures. The previous E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations year’s specifications will remain effective unless revised through the specification process and/or the research quota process described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section. NMFS will issue notification in the Federal Register if the previous year’s specifications will not be changed. (3) Research quota. See § 648.22(g). ■ 12. Section 648.293 is revised to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES § 648.293 Tilefish accountability measures. (a) Golden tilefish—(1) Commercial incidental fishery closure. See § 648.295(a)(2). (2) Commercial ACL overage evaluation. If the golden tilefish ACL is exceeded, the amount of the ACL overage that cannot be directly attributed to IFQ allocation holders having exceeded their IFQ allocation will be deducted from the golden tilefish ACL in the following fishing year. All overages directly attributable to IFQ allocation holders will be deducted from the appropriate IFQ allocation(s) in the subsequent fishing year, as required by § 648.294(f). (b) Blueline tilefish—(1) Commercial fishery closure. See § 648.295(b)(2). (2) Commercial ACL overage evaluation. The commercial sector ACL will be evaluated based on a single-year examination of total catch (landings and discards). (i) Commercial landings overage repayment. Landings in excess of the commercial ACL will be deducted from the commercial ACL for the following year. (ii) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the commercial ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the exact amount by which the commercial ACL was exceeded, in pounds, will be deducted, as soon as possible, from the applicable subsequent single fishing year commercial ACL. (3) Recreational ACL overage evaluation. The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on a three-year moving average comparison of total catch (landings and discards). Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the threeyear average recreational sector ACL has been exceeded. The three-year moving average will be phased in over the first three years, beginning with 2017: Total recreational total catch from 2017 will be compared to the 2017 recreational sector ACL; the average total catch from both 2017 and 2018 will be compared to the average of the 2017 and 2018 VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 recreational sector ACLs; the average total catch from 2017, 2018, and 2019 will be compared to the average of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 recreational sector ACLs and, for all subsequent years, the preceding three-year average recreational total catch will be compared to the preceding three-year average recreational sector ACL. (4) Recreational accountability measures (AM). If the recreational ACL is exceeded, then the following procedure will be followed: (i) If biomass is below threshold, the stock is under rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold (i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or BMSY) are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year’s recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year’s recreational ACL will be deducted in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, from the recreational ACT, as a single-year adjustment. Changes to management measures would also be considered through the specifications process to avoid future overages. (ii) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following AMs will apply: (A) If the recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a single-year adjustment. (B) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, then a single-year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as described below. In addition, adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following year. (1) Adjustment to recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the following year’s PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52859 recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient. (2) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., BMSY–B) divided by one-half of BMSY. (iii) If biomass is above target. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a single-year adjustment. ■ 13. In § 648.294, revise the section heading and paragraphs (a)(1) and (2), (b)(1) introductory text, (b)(4), (e)(3)(ii) and (iii), (e)(4) introductory text, (f), (g), (h)(1), (h)(2)(ii), and (h)(4)(i) to read as follows: § 648.294 Golden tilefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. (a) IFQ allocation permits. (1) After adjustments for incidental catch, research set-asides, and overages, as appropriate, pursuant to § 648.292(a)(3), the Regional Administrator shall divide the remaining golden tilefish TAL among the IFQ quota shareholders who held IFQ quota share as of September 1 of a given fishing year. Allocations shall be made by applying the IFQ quota share percentages that exist on September 1 of a given fishing year to the IFQ TAL pursuant to § 648.292(a)(3), subject to any deductions for overages pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section. Amounts of IFQ allocation of 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) or smaller created by this calculation shall be rounded downward to the nearest whole number, and amounts of IFQ allocation greater than 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) shall be rounded upward to the nearest whole number, so that annual IFQ allocations are specified in whole pounds. (2) Allocations shall be issued in the form of an annual IFQ allocation permit. The IFQ allocation permit shall specify the quota share percentage held by the IFQ allocation permit holder and the total pounds of golden tilefish that the IFQ allocation permit holder is authorized to harvest. * * * * * (b) Application—(1) General. Applicants for a permit under this section must submit a completed E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES 52860 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations application on an appropriate form obtained from NMFS. The application must be filled out completely and signed by the applicant. Each application must include a declaration of all interests in IFQ quota shares and IFQ allocations, as defined in § 648.2, listed by IFQ allocation permit number, and must list all Federal vessel permit numbers for all vessels that an applicant owns or leases that would be authorized to possess golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit. The Regional Administrator will notify the applicant of any deficiency in the application. * * * * * (4) IFQ vessel. All Federal vessel permit numbers that are listed on the IFQ allocation permit are authorized to possess golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit until the end of the fishing year or until NMFS receives written notification from the IFQ allocation permit holder that the vessel is no longer authorized to possess golden tilefish pursuant to the subject permit. An IFQ allocation permit holder who wishes to authorize an additional vessel(s) to possess golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit must send written notification to NMFS. This notification must include the vessel name and permit number, and the dates on which the IFQ allocation permit holder desires the vessel to be authorized to land golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit. A copy of the IFQ allocation permit must be carried on board each vessel so authorized to possess IFQ golden tilefish. * * * * * (e) * * * (3) * * * (ii) A transfer of IFQ allocation or quota share will not be approved by the Regional Administrator if it would result in an entity holding, or having an interest in, a percentage of IFQ allocation exceeding 49 percent of the total golden tilefish adjusted TAL. (iii) For the purpose of calculating the appropriate IFQ cost recovery fee, if the holder of an IFQ allocation leases additional IFQ allocation, the quantity and value of golden tilefish landings made after the date the lease is approved by the Regional Administrator are attributed to the transferred quota before being attributed to the allocation holder’s base IFQ allocation, if any exists. In the event of multiple leases, landings would be attributed to the leased allocations in the order the leases were approved by the Regional Administrator. As described in paragraph (h) of this section, a tilefish IFQ quota share allocation holder shall VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 incur a cost recovery fee, based on the value of landings of golden tilefish authorized under the allocation holder’s annual tilefish IFQ allocation, including allocation that is leased to another IFQ allocation permit holder. (4) Application for an IFQ allocation transfer. Any IFQ allocation permit holder applying for either permanent transfer of IFQ quota share or temporary transfer of annual IFQ allocation must submit a completed IFQ Allocation Transfer Form, available from NMFS. The IFQ Allocation Transfer Form must be submitted to the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office at least 30 days before the date on which the applicant desires to have the IFQ allocation transfer effective. The Regional Administrator shall notify the applicants of any deficiency in the application pursuant to this section. Applications for permanent IFQ quota share allocation transfers must be received by September 1 to be processed and effective before annual IFQ allocations are issued for the next fishing year. Applications for temporary IFQ allocation transfers must be received by October 10 to be processed for the current fishing year. * * * * * (f) IFQ allocation overages. If an IFQ allocation is exceeded, including by amounts of golden tilefish landed by a lessee in excess of a temporary transfer of IFQ allocation, the amount of the overage will be deducted from the IFQ shareholder’s allocation in the subsequent fishing year(s). If an IFQ allocation overage is not deducted from the appropriate allocation before the IFQ allocation permit is issued for the subsequent fishing year, a revised IFQ allocation permit reflecting the deduction of the overage shall be issued by NMFS. If the allocation cannot be reduced in the subsequent fishing year because the full allocation has already been landed or transferred, the IFQ allocation permit will indicate a reduced allocation for the amount of the overage in the next fishing year. (g) IFQ allocation acquisition restriction. No person or entity may acquire more than 49 percent of the annual adjusted golden tilefish TAL, specified pursuant to § 648.294, at any point during a fishing year. For purposes of this paragraph, acquisition includes any permanent transfer of IFQ quota share or temporary transfer of annual IFQ allocation. The calculation of IFQ allocation for purposes of the restriction on acquisition includes IFQ allocation interests held by: A company in which the IFQ holder is a shareholder, officer, or partner; an PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 immediate family member; or a company in which the IFQ holder is a part owner or partner. (h) * * * (1) Payment responsibility. Each tilefish IFQ allocation permit holder with quota share shall incur a cost recovery fee annually, based on the value of landings of golden tilefish authorized under his/her tilefish IFQ allocation, including allocation that he/ she leases to another IFQ allocation permit holder. The tilefish IFQ allocation permit holder is responsible for paying the fee assessed by NMFS. (2) * * * (ii) Calculating fee percentage. The recoverable costs determined by the Regional Administrator will be divided by the total ex-vessel value of all golden tilefish IFQ landings during the cost recovery billing period to derive a fee percentage. Each IFQ allocation permit holder with quota share will be assessed a fee based on the fee percentage multiplied by the total ex-vessel value of all landings under his/her IFQ allocation permit, including landings of allocation that was leased to another IFQ allocation permit holder. (A) The ex-vessel value for each pound of golden tilefish landed by an IFQ allocation permit holder shall be determined from Northeast Federal dealer reports submitted to NMFS, which include the price per pound paid to the vessel at the time of dealer purchase. (B) The cost recovery fee percentage shall not exceed three percent of the total value of golden tilefish landings, as required under section 304(d)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. * * * * * (4) * * * (i) At any time thereafter, notify the IFQ allocation permit holder in writing that his/her IFQ allocation permit is suspended, thereby prohibiting landings of tilefish above the incidental limit, as specified at § 648.295(a). * * * * * ■ 14. Section 648.295 is revised to read as follows: § 648.295 Tilefish commercial trip limits. (a) Golden tilefish—(1) Incidental trip limit for vessels not fishing under an IFQ allocation. Any vessel of the United States fishing under a tilefish permit, as described at § 648.4(a)(12), is prohibited from possessing more than 500 lb (226.8 kg) of golden tilefish at any time, unless the vessel is fishing under a tilefish IFQ allocation permit, as specified at § 648.294(a). Any golden tilefish landed by a vessel fishing under an IFQ allocation permit, on a given fishing E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 219 / Wednesday, November 15, 2017 / Rules and Regulations trip, count as landings under the IFQ allocation permit. (2) In-season closure of the incidental fishery. The Regional Administrator will monitor the harvest of the golden tilefish incidental TAL based on dealer reports and other available information, and shall determine the date when the incidental golden tilefish TAL has been landed. The Regional Administrator shall publish a notice in the Federal Register notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that, effective upon a specific date, the incidental golden tilefish fishery is closed for the remainder of the fishing year. (b) Blueline tilefish—(1) Commercial possession limit. Any vessel of the United States fishing under a tilefish permit, as described at § 648.4(a)(12), is prohibited from possessing more than 300 lb (136 kg) of blueline tilefish per trip in or from the Tilefish Management Unit. Commercial blueline tilefish must be landed with head and fins naturally attached, but may be gutted. (2) In-season closure of the commercial fishery. The Regional Administrator will monitor the harvest of the blueline tilefish commercial TAL based on dealer reports and other available information, and shall determine the date when the blueline tilefish commercial TAL will be landed. The Regional Administrator shall publish a notice in the Federal Register notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that, effective upon a specific date, the blueline tilefish commercial fishery is closed for the remainder of the fishing year. 15. Section 648.296 is revised to read as follows: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:48 Nov 14, 2017 Jkt 244001 § 648.296 limits. Tilefish recreational possession (a) Golden tilefish. Any person fishing from a vessel that is not fishing under a tilefish commercial vessel permit issued pursuant to § 648.4(a)(12), may land up to eight golden tilefish per trip. Anglers fishing onboard a charter/party vessel shall observe the recreational possession limit. (b) Blueline tilefish—(1) Private recreational vessels. Any person fishing from a vessel that is not fishing under a tilefish commercial or charter/party vessel permit issued pursuant to § 648.4(a)(12), may land up to three blueline tilefish per trip. (2) Uninspected for-hire vessels. Anglers fishing onboard a for-hire vessel under a tilefish charter/party vessel permit issued pursuant to § 648.4(a)(12), which has not been issued a valid U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection may land up to five blueline tilefish per person per trip. (3) Inspected for-hire vessels. Anglers fishing onboard a for-hire vessel under a tilefish charter/party vessel permit issued pursuant to § 648.4(a)(12), which has been issued a valid U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection may land up to seven blueline tilefish per person per trip. (c) Enforcement. Tilefish harvested by vessels subject to the possession limits with more than one person on board may be pooled in one or more containers. Compliance with the golden tilefish possession limit will be determined by dividing the number of golden tilefish on board by the number of persons on board. Compliance with the blueline tilefish possession limit will be determined by dividing the number of blueline tilefish on board by the number of persons on board. The PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 52861 captain and crew of a party or charter boat are not counted in determining the possession limit. If there is a violation of the possession limit on board a vessel carrying more than one person, the violation shall be deemed to have been committed by the owner and operator of the vessel. ■ 16. In § 648.299, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(xix), (xx), and (xxi) and add paragraphs (a)(1)(xxii) and (xxiii) to read as follows: § 648.299 Tilefish framework specifications. (a) * * * (1) * * * (xix) Recreational management measures, including the bag limit, minimum fish size limit, seasons, and gear restrictions or prohibitions; (xx) Golden tilefish IFQ program review components, including capacity reduction, safety at sea issues, transferability rules, ownership concentration caps, permit and reporting requirements, and fee and cost-recovery issues; (xxi) Blueline tilefish recreational permitting and reporting requirements previously considered by the MAFMC; and (xxii) Blueline tilefish allocations to the commercial and recreational sectors of the fishery within the range of allocation alternatives considered by the MAFMC in Amendment 6. (xxiii) Measures that require significant departures from previously contemplated measures or that are otherwise introducing new concepts may require a formal amendment of the FMP instead of a framework adjustment. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–24710 Filed 11–14–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15NOR1.SGM 15NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 219 (Wednesday, November 15, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 52851-52861]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-24710]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 160229161-7898-02]
RIN 0648-BF86


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Amendment 6 to the 
Tilefish Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This final rule implements management measures previously 
approved for Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan and 
publicizes status quo management measures for 2018. Amendment 6 was 
developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to establish 
management measures and 2017 harvest limits for the blueline tilefish 
fishery north of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The intended 
effect of this action is to establish permanent management measures for 
this fishery, consistent with requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

DATES: This rule is effective December 15, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 6 and the Environmental Assessment (EA), 
with its associated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and the 
Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), are available from the Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, 
DE 19901. The Amendment 6 EA/FONSI/RIR is also accessible online at: 
www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Potts, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9341.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    This final rule concurrently approves Amendment 6 to the Tilefish 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce 
and finalizes implementing regulations. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council developed this amendment to establish management 
measures for the blueline tilefish fishery in Federal waters north of 
the Virginia/North Carolina border, consistent with the requirements of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act). We published a notice of availability on June 14, 2017 
(82 FR 27223), announcing a 60-day period for the public to review and 
provide comments on whether we, acting on behalf of the Secretary of 
Commerce, should approve Amendment 6. This comment period ended on 
August 14, 2017. On June 28, 2017, we published a proposed rule (82 FR 
29263) to implement the amendment's specific measures and solicited 
comments on the proposed measures for a 30-day period that ended on 
July 28, 2017.
    We reviewed all comments received during these comment periods, 
whether directed at our approval decision or the proposed regulations. 
See Comments and Responses section for more information. Now, on behalf 
of the Secretary of Commerce, we are approving and implementing 
Amendment 6, consistent with the review and approval process outlined 
in section 304 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1854).

Amendment 6 Approved Measures

    We are approving all Amendment 6 measures, as outlined in our June 
28, 2017, proposed rule. However, given their complexity and novelty, 
development and implementation of permitting and reporting measures for 
private recreational vessels will take significantly more time than the 
other, more traditional management measures in this action. Therefore, 
we are approving, but delaying implementation of, the recreational 
permitting and reporting requirements. More information on the approved 
measures is outlined below.

Management Unit, FMP Objectives, Status Determination Criteria

    The management unit for blueline tilefish encompasses the U.S. 
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the North Carolina/Virginia border 
(36.550278 N. Latitude) extending north to the maritime boundary with 
Canada. This management unit is consistent with the Council's 
management unit for golden tilefish.
    Amendment 6 establishes the management objectives of the current 
Tilefish FMP to apply for blueline tilefish as well, with the addition 
that, ``management will reflect blueline tilefish's susceptibility of 
overfishing and the need of an analytical stock assessment.''
    Section 303(a)(10) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that FMPs 
specify criteria for identifying when the fishery is overfished. 
Amendment 6 defines stock status determination criteria for blueline 
tilefish based on the results of the most recent approved stock 
assessment, which is consistent with all of the Council's other FMPs. 
The Council anticipates new stock status determination criteria will be 
established through a stock assessment currently being jointly 
conducted by the South Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management 
Councils through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review process 
(SEDAR 50). The assessment report is expected in the fall of 2017.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires all FMPs contain measures 
that are ``necessary and appropriate for the conservation and 
management of the

[[Page 52852]]

fishery to prevent overfishing.'' There is insufficient scientific 
information currently available to establish a quantitative overfishing 
limit for the blueline tilefish population in the Mid-Atlantic. 
Analysis conducted by the Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC) found that constraining catch of Mid-Atlantic blueline 
tilefish to the recommended acceptable biological catch (ABC) of 87,031 
pounds (lb) (39,476 kilograms (kg)) would be unlikely to result in 
overfishing. Because this harvest limit is set at a level sufficient to 
prevent overfishing, it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
requirement at 303(a)(1)(A).

Permitting and Reporting Requirements

Commercial Vessels

    A commercial fishing vessel is required to be issued an open-access 
tilefish commercial vessel permit in order to retain and land blueline 
tilefish. This is the same vessel permit required for vessels fishing 
for golden tilefish; a vessel that has this permit already does not 
need a separate permit. Vessel owners and operators are subject to the 
current requirements to have an operator permit and to maintain and 
submit Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) for each fishing trip.

For-Hire Vessels

    Fishing vessels that carry recreational anglers for hire are 
required to have an open-access tilefish charter/party vessel permit in 
order to fish for, retain, or land blueline tilefish. This is the same 
charter/party vessel permit for golden tilefish, so a vessel that has 
this permit already does not need a separate permit. Vessel owners and 
operators would be subject to the current requirements to have an 
operator permit and to maintain and submit VTRs for each fishing trip.

Commercial Dealers

    A commercial seafood dealer must have a tilefish dealer permit in 
order to purchase, possess, or receive blueline tilefish harvested from 
the Tilefish Management Unit. This is the same dealer permit already in 
use for dealers of golden tilefish in the region.
    Details about permit requirements for commercial fishing vessels, 
party/charter vessels, vessel operators, and commercial dealers, 
including application forms, are available at: 
www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/aps/permits/index.html.

Private Recreational Vessels

    With this action we approve the Amendment 6 requirement for private 
recreational vessels to obtain a permit to fish for or retain golden or 
blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management Unit. However, additional 
development work is necessary before we can issue recreational tilefish 
permits or require private anglers to start reporting their catch. 
Specific details of a private recreational vessel permit and reporting 
system will be proposed at a later date with additional opportunity for 
public comment, consistent with requirements of the Administrative 
Procedure Act.

Possession Limits and Fishing Season

Commercial

    Commercial vessels are limited to a maximum possession of 300 lb 
(136 kg) of blueline tilefish per trip. Blueline tilefish can be 
gutted, but must be landed with the head and fins naturally attached.

Recreational

    The applicable recreational blueline tilefish possession limit 
depends on the type of vessel used. Anglers fishing from private 
vessels are allowed to keep up to three blueline tilefish per person 
per trip. Anglers fishing from a for-hire vessel that has been issued a 
valid Tilefish Charter/Party Permit, but does not have a current U.S. 
Coast Guard safety inspection sticker can retain up to five blueline 
tilefish per person per trip. Finally, anglers on for-hire vessels that 
have both a valid Tilefish Charter/Party Permit and a current U.S. 
Coast Guard safety inspection sticker can retain up to seven blueline 
tilefish per person per trip.
    The recreational fishery for blueline tilefish is open from May 1 
through October 31, annually. Recreational anglers are prohibited from 
fishing for or possessing blueline tilefish outside of this season.

ABC Risk Policy, Annual Catch Limit Process, and Sector Allocations

    Section 303(a)(15) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires FMPs to 
establish a mechanism for specifying annual catch limits (ACL), 
implementing regulations, or annual specifications to prevent 
overfishing. In addition, the Act requires the Council's SSC to provide 
it with ongoing scientific advice, including recommendations for ABC 
(see Magnuson-Stevens Act 302(g)(1)(B)). Amendment 6 retains the same 
ABC control rules and risk policy for blueline tilefish used for other 
Mid-Atlantic Council stocks, described in the regulations at 50 CFR 
648.20 and 648.21.
    The ACL process approved for blueline tilefish under Amendment 6 is 
consistent with the specifications-setting process for other stocks 
managed by the Council. The Council's SSC will review the available 
scientific information, the ABC control rule, and other relevant 
information before making ABC recommendations to the Council for up to 
three years. The recommendations of the SSC will be reviewed by the 
existing Tilefish Monitoring Committee, which will provide 
recommendations to the Council and/or relevant committee to ensure the 
blueline tilefish specifications are not exceeded and to address any 
other operational aspects of the fishery. To establish specific harvest 
limits, the recommended ABC will be allocated to establish separate 
ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors of the fishery (73 
percent to recreational and 27 percent to commercial). These ACLs may 
be reduced to account for management uncertainty to establish annual 
catch targets (ACTs). Finally, anticipated discards are subtracted to 
determine the total allowable landings (TAL) amount for each sector. 
The Council would develop other management measures (seasons, trip 
limits, etc., as described above) that are expected to meet the TAL and 
not exceed the ACL. If the Council re-establishes a research set-aside 
program, up to three percent of the TAL may be set aside in such a 
program.

Accountability Measures

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that FMPs include measures to 
ensure accountability with ACLs, and NMFS has created guidelines for 
how management measures might meet this requirement (see Sec.  
600.310(g)). This action implements different accountability measures 
(AMs) to address the particular needs of the commercial and 
recreational sectors of the fishery.
    Commercial blueline tilefish landings will be monitored during the 
fishing year based on dealer reports and other available information. 
If we determine the commercial TAL will be exceeded, we will close the 
commercial blueline tilefish fishery, prohibiting possession or landing 
blueline tilefish for sale for the remainder of the fishing year, 
through publication of a notice in the Federal Register. If the 
commercial catch of blueline tilefish exceeds the ACL, we would deduct 
the amount of the overage from the commercial ACL the following year.
    Catch data for the recreational fishery is much more uncertain than 
for the commercial fishery. We will compare the three-year moving 
average of recreational catch to the three-year average of the 
recreational ACL to

[[Page 52853]]

determine whether the ACL has been exceeded and accountability measures 
for the recreational fishery are warranted. This will be phased in so 
that catch in 2017 will be compared to the 2017 ACL, and next year the 
average catch in 2017 and 2018 will be compared to the average ACL in 
2017 and 2018. In subsequent years we will use three-year moving 
averages. If this comparison shows the recreational ACL was exceeded, 
then the extent of the accountability measure would depend on the 
status of the stock and the significance of the overage.
    If the most recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY 
threshold (i.e., the stock is overfished), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points are unknown, and 
the recreational ACL has been exceeded, then in the following fishing 
year the recreational ACT would be reduced by the exact amount, in 
pounds, by which the most recent year's recreational catch estimate 
exceeded the most recent year's recreational ACL. Changes to management 
measures would also be considered through the specifications process to 
avoid future overages. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above 
BMSY (i.e., the stock is above the biomass target), then 
adjustments to the recreational management measures (e.g., changes in 
per-angler possession limits could be considered to reduce subsequent 
year's catch) would be made in the following fishing year, but a 
reduction in the recreational ACT would not be necessary. If the stock 
biomass is between these extremes, the accountability measures would be 
scaled.
    If the most recent estimate of biomass is above the biomass 
threshold, but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5 but less than 1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding 
plan, then the severity of the payback would depend on the significance 
of the overage. If the recreational ACL is exceeded but the overall ABC 
is not, then adjustments to the recreational management measures would 
be made in the following fishing year, but a reduction in the 
recreational ACT would not be necessary. If the ABC is exceeded, in 
addition to adjusting the recreational management measures, a deduction 
from the recreational ACT would be made in the following fishing year. 
The size of the deduction would be proportional to the health of the 
stock. The ACT would be reduced by the amount of the overage (in 
pounds) multiplied by a payback coefficient. The payback coefficient 
would be the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass and 
BMSY (i.e., BMSY-B) divided by one-half of 
BMSY. This coefficient allows for a smaller deduction if the 
stock is close to the biomass target and a larger deduction the more 
the stock is below the target. The recreational accountability measure 
is consistent with those in use for other Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH)

    We approve the following EFH definition for different life stages 
of blueline tilefish based on the best available scientific 
information:
    Eggs and larvae: Blueline tilefish egg and larval EFH in the 
Greater Atlantic region is the water column on the outer continental 
shelf from eastern Georges Bank to the Virginia/North Carolina boundary 
in depths of 46-256 meters (m) (151-840 feet (ft)).
    Juveniles and adults: Blueline tilefish juvenile and adult EFH in 
the Greater Atlantic region is benthic habitats on the outer 
continental shelf from eastern Georges Bank to the Virginia/North 
Carolina boundary in depths of 46-256 m (151-840 ft) at bottom water 
temperatures which range from 8-18[deg] C (46-64[emsp14][deg]F). 
Blueline tilefish create horizontal or vertical burrows in sediments 
composed of silt, clay, and sand.
    The Council is currently conducting a comprehensive review of EFH 
designations and fishery impacts on habitat for all Council-managed 
species, including blueline tilefish. The EFH Review Fishery Management 
Action Team will review scientific and technical information on fish 
habitat and develop recommendations as to whether changes to the 
existing EFH descriptions and other habitat components of the FMPs are 
warranted. Based on this review, the Council may choose to modify its 
FMPs (e.g., revise EFH descriptions, designate Habitat Areas of 
Particular Concern, or implement other habitat management measures).

Framework Adjustment Measures

    Framework adjustments allow the Council to make changes to 
management measures that were previously considered in the FMP or FMP 
amendment through a more efficient process than a full FMP amendment. 
The full list of blueline tilefish management measures that could be 
changed by framework adjustment were published in the proposed rule and 
are not repeated here.

2017 Specifications

    Table 1 outlines catch limits for blueline tilefish for the 2017 
fishing year. We will count landings of blueline tilefish in or from 
the Tilefish Management Unit that have already occurred in 2017 against 
these limits when determining if a harvest limit has been met or 
exceeded.

             Table 1--2017 Blueline Tilefish Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Specification             Recreational           Commercial
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC.........................             87,031 lb (39,476 kg)
                             -------------------------------------------
ACLs........................  63,533 lb (28,818     23,498 lb (10,658
                               kg).                  kg).
ACTs........................  63,533 lb (28,818     23,498 lb (10,658
                               kg).                  kg).
TALs........................  62,262 lb (28,242     23,263 lb (10,552
                               kg).                  kg).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

2018 Specifications

    The regulations at Sec.  648.292(b)(2) state in part that the 
previous year's specifications will remain effective unless revised 
through the specification process and/or the research quota process 
described in paragraph (b)(3) of the section and NMFS will issue 
notification in the Federal Register if the previous year's 
specifications will not be changed. At its April 2017 meeting, the 
Council voted to maintain status quo specifications for the 2018 
blueline tilefish fishing year. As a result, we do not intend to change 
the 2017 blueline tilefish specifications for next year, so the status 
quo measures remain effective for through December 31, 2018.

Comments and Responses

    We received 42 comments on the notice of availability and proposed 
rule. The majority of comments were from individuals. Four commenters 
self-identified as owners of for-hire recreational vessels. One 
commenter identified as president of a recreational saltwater fishing 
association with over

[[Page 52854]]

600 members. Two commenters did not specifically address any of the 
proposed measures. One was generally supportive of the proposed action 
while the other simply opposed all commercial fishing. Detailed 
comments and our responses are grouped by topic below.

Recreational Possession Limit Comments

    Numerous commenters expressed opposition to the proposed tiered 
recreational possession limits. A dozen commenters said the limits 
unfairly favored for-hire vessels. Ten commenters stated the three-fish 
per person limit for private vessels was unreasonably low. Twenty 
commenters generally opposed any differentiation between aspects of the 
recreational fishery. Six individuals stated the low limit would 
increase dead discards of blueline tilefish when anglers target co-
occurring species such as golden tilefish or black sea bass. Twenty-
five commenters expressed support for the seven-fish per person limit 
across the board that was in the Council's public hearing draft of the 
Amendment.
    Response: The Council's analysis indicated management measures 
needed to constrain recreational catch by 50 percent, relative to the 
2014/2015 average, to stay below the ACL. A year-round season and 
seven-fish per person possession limit would not have achieved this 
target. The available VTR data indicate that per-person catch rates of 
blueline tilefish are lower on charter boats than party boats, and 
public comment indicted that the retention rate on private vessels is 
lower than on either type of for-hire vessel. Based on this 
information, the Council devised a set of possession limits to reflect 
this pattern and spread the reduction across the recreational sector of 
the fishery equitably, such that each vessel group would be subject to 
the same relative restriction. We recognize anglers may inadvertently 
exceed the blueline tilefish possession limit when targeting other 
species. We hope people will try to avoid this situation, and encourage 
them to visit our Web site https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/recfishing/ for 
information on best practices, including the use of descending devices 
to minimize barotrauma in released fish. If additional catch 
information becomes available that indicates a single possession limit 
is more equitable, the Council may revise these measures through the 
specifications process if necessary. The effective date of this action 
has been set such that the new recreational possession limits will not 
take effect until the fishery opens on May 1, 2018, to avoid confusion 
of setting a new possession limit just before the new annual closure.

Recreational Closed Season Comments

    A majority of commenters (26) expressed opposition to the proposed 
recreational closed season. Twenty commenters noted they typically 
catch blueline tilefish and black sea bass together and seasons for 
these species need to be coordinated to avoid excessive discard of 
either species. Several individuals stated blueline tilefish is one of 
the few species available during the winter months, and a closure could 
preclude any recreational fishing during that time.
    Response: As mentioned above, the Council developed recreational 
measures to affect a 50-percent reduction in catch relative to the 
2014/2015 average. The result is as a combination of tiered possession 
limits and a closed season that the available data suggest will achieve 
this goal. The available catch data indicate a closure from November 
through April would account for a 19-percent reduction in recreational 
catch. That combined with the expected impact of the possession limits 
should allow the recreational TAL to be achieved, but not exceeded. The 
Council could have chosen to coordinate its blueline tilefish 
recreational season with its existing season for black sea bass, but 
did not. However, the Council can re-evaluate recreational measures 
through the specifications process.

Recreational Permit Comments

    One commenter expressed opposition to a requirement for another 
vessel permit for his charter boat. A few commenters noted Virginia 
already has recreational permit and reporting requirements, and any new 
requirements may be redundant. One commenter supported the proposed 
permit for private recreational vessels, suggesting we require vessels 
get a letter of authorization (LOA) until the new recreational permit 
is fully implemented.
    Response: This action does not create a new charter/party vessel 
permit for blueline tilefish. Rather, we are using the existing permit 
for golden tilefish that most, if not all, for-hire vessels have. 
Therefore, if you already have the Tilefish Party/Charter vessel permit 
no further action is needed. The potential to use existing permitting 
and reporting requirements and avoid duplication is one of the factors 
we will be looking into as we work to implement the private 
recreational permitting and reporting aspects of Amendment 6. Likewise, 
we will consider whether an LOA program to begin collecting data about 
recreational effort while measures that are more permanent are 
developed and implemented is feasible and cost effective.

Council Process Comments

    Apart from the specific comments on the recreational possession 
limits and closed season addressed above, the recreational fishing 
association and several individuals submitted matching comments 
opposing the process by which the Council selected those measures. 
These 20 commenters feel they did not have an adequate opportunity to 
express to the Council their opposition to these measures, and, 
therefore, ask the Secretary to disapprove the Amendment and remand it 
to the Council for further public input.
    Response: The Council developed a range of potential management 
measures then sought public comment on a draft of Amendment 6, 
including a series of public hearings. While the Council typically 
selects its preferred measures from among those in the draft document, 
it is not required to do so. The purpose of the public hearings is to 
solicit feedback that could improve the measures under consideration. 
During the public hearings, the Council received comments that led to 
the development of tiered possession limits based on the type of 
vessel. As mentioned above in the response to comments on the 
possession limit, these measures were intended to spread the catch 
reductions more equitably across the fishery. Similarly, public comment 
led to the consideration of a closed season in order to maintain a 
higher bag limit when the fishery is open. These new measures were 
discussed publicly during the April 2016 Council meeting before the 
Council voted to select preferred alternatives and approve Amendment 6. 
Because some measures were developed after the regular public hearing 
process, the Council took the unusual step of holding an additional 
webinar-based public hearing in June 2016, with the option to 
reconsider its decisions later during the June 2016 Council meeting 
after reviewing submitted comments.

Economic Impact Comments

    Many individuals cited the time and expense that recreational 
anglers invest to participate in this fishery. These individuals 
indicated that a closed season, and to a lesser extent low possession 
limits, could have adverse impact on local businesses.

[[Page 52855]]

    Response: We acknowledge the economic contributions that 
recreational fishing can have in coastal communities. NMFS conducts 
nation-wide surveys of marine anglers to assess those impacts and 
better inform our management decisions. The recreational fishery for 
blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic is relatively small, and the 
number of participants has not historically been well documented. The 
analysis of the anticipated economic impacts of this action indicate 
some potential adverse impact resulting from the possession limits and 
closed season. However, those impacts should be limited and temporary 
if the measures result in the expected increase in the blueline 
tilefish stock size.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes to the measures from the proposed rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has determined that this 
final rule is consistent with Amendment 6, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. Because this rule is not significant 
under Executive Order 12866, this rule is not an Executive Order 13771 
regulatory action.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 9, 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 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.1, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.1  Purpose and scope.

    (a) This part implements the fishery management plans (FMPs) for 
the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries (Atlantic 
Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP); Atlantic salmon (Atlantic Salmon 
FMP); the Atlantic sea scallop fishery (Scallop FMP); the Atlantic 
surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries (Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog 
FMP); the NE multispecies and monkfish fisheries ((NE Multispecies FMP) 
and (Monkfish FMP)); the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass 
fisheries (Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP); the Atlantic 
bluefish fishery (Atlantic Bluefish FMP); the Atlantic herring fishery 
(Atlantic Herring FMP); the spiny dogfish fishery (Spiny Dogfish FMP); 
the Atlantic deep-sea red crab fishery (Deep-Sea Red Crab FMP); the 
golden and blueline tilefish fisheries (Tilefish FMP); and the NE skate 
complex fisheries (Skate FMP). These FMPs and the regulations in this 
part govern the conservation and management of the above named 
fisheries of the Northeastern United States.
* * * * *

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3. In Sec.  648.2:
0
a. Add in alphabetical order the definition of ``Blueline tilefish;''
0
b. Revise paragraph 4 of the definition for ``Fishing year;''
0
c. Add in alphabetical order the definition of ``Golden tilefish;'' and
0
d. Revise paragraph 2 of the definition for ``Lessee,'' paragraph 2 of 
the definition for ``Lessor,'' and the definitions for ``Tilefish,'' 
``Tilefish FMP Monitoring Committee,'' and ``Tilefish Management 
Unit.''
    The additions and revisions read as follows:


Sec.  648.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Blueline tilefish means Caulolatilus microps.
* * * * *
    Fishing year * * *
    (4) For the golden tilefish fishery, from November 1 through 
October 31 of the following year.
* * * * *
    Golden tilefish means Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps.
* * * * *
    Lessee * * *
    (2) A person or entity eligible to hold golden tilefish IFQ 
allocation, who receives temporarily transferred golden tilefish IFQ 
allocation, as specified at Sec.  648.294(e)(1).
    Lessor * * *
    (2) An IFQ allocation permit holder who temporarily transfers 
golden tilefish IFQ allocation, as specified at Sec.  648.294(e)(1).
* * * * *
    Tilefish means golden tilefish and blueline tilefish, collectively, 
unless otherwise noted.
    Tilefish FMP Monitoring Committee means a committee made up of 
staff representatives of the MAFMC, the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, up to three 
state representatives (the New England states having one representative 
and the Mid-Atlantic states having a maximum of two representatives) 
and one non-voting industry member. The MAFMC Executive Director or his 
designee chairs the committee.
    Tilefish Management Unit means an area of the Atlantic Ocean from 
the latitude of the VA and NC border (36[deg]33.36' N. Lat.), extending 
eastward from the shore to the outer boundary of the exclusive economic 
zone and northward to the United States-Canada border in which the 
United States exercises exclusive jurisdiction over all golden tilefish 
(Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) and blueline tilefish (Caulolatilus 
microps) fished for, possessed, caught or retained in or from such 
area.
* * * * *

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4. In Sec.  648.4, paragraphs (a)(12) and (b)(1)(i) are revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  648.4   Vessel permits.

    (a) * * *
    (12) Tilefish vessels--(i) Commercial vessel permits. Any vessel of 
the United States must have been issued, under this part, and carry on 
board, a valid commercial vessel permit to fish for, possess, or land 
golden tilefish or blueline tilefish for a commercial purpose, in or 
from the Tilefish Management Unit.
    (A) A commercial vessel must fish under the authorization of a 
golden tilefish IFQ allocation permit, issued pursuant to Sec.  
648.294, to possess, or land golden tilefish in excess of the trip 
limit as specified under Sec.  648.295(a).
    (B) [Reserved]
    (ii) Party and charter vessel permits. Any party or charter vessel 
must have been issued, under this part, a Federal charter/party vessel 
permit to fish for

[[Page 52856]]

either golden tilefish or blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management 
Unit, if it carries passengers for hire. Such vessel must observe the 
recreational possession limits as specified at Sec.  648.296 and the 
prohibition on sale.
* * * * *
    (b) Permit conditions. (1)(i) Any person who applies for and is 
issued or renews a fishing permit under this section agrees, as a 
condition of the permit, that the vessel and the vessel's fishing 
activity, catch, and pertinent gear (without regard to whether such 
fishing occurs in the EEZ or landward of the EEZ; and without regard to 
where such fish or gear are possessed, taken, or landed); are subject 
to all requirements of this part, unless exempted from such 
requirements under this part. All such fishing activities, catch, and 
gear will remain subject to all applicable state requirements. Except 
as otherwise provided in this part, if a requirement of this part and a 
management measure required by a state or local law differ, any vessel 
owner permitted to fish in the EEZ for any species managed under this 
part, except tilefish, must comply with the more restrictive 
requirement. Except as otherwise provided in this part, if a 
requirement of this part and a management measure required by a state 
or local law differ, any vessel owner permitted to fish in the tilefish 
management unit for tilefish managed under this part must comply with 
the more restrictive requirement. Owners and operators of vessels 
fishing under the terms of a summer flounder moratorium, scup 
moratorium, or black sea bass moratorium; or a spiny dogfish or 
bluefish commercial vessel permit, must also agree not to land summer 
flounder, scup, black sea bass, spiny dogfish, or bluefish, 
respectively, in any state after NMFS has published a notification in 
the Federal Register stating that the commercial quota for that state 
or period has been harvested and that no commercial quota is available 
for the respective species. A state not receiving an allocation of 
summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, or bluefish, either directly or 
through a coast-wide allocation, is deemed to have no commercial quota 
available. Owners and operators of vessels fishing under the terms of 
the tilefish commercial permit must agree not to land golden tilefish 
or blueline tilefish after NMFS has published a notification in the 
Federal Register stating that the respective quota for the golden 
tilefish incidental fishery and/or the commercial blueline tilefish 
fishery has been harvested, as described in Sec.  648.295, unless 
landing golden tilefish authorized under a golden tilefish IFQ 
allocation permit. Owners or operators fishing for surfclams and ocean 
quahogs within waters under the jurisdiction of any state that requires 
cage tags are not subject to any conflicting Federal minimum size or 
tagging requirements. If a surfclam and ocean quahog requirement of 
this part differs from a surfclam and ocean quahog management measure 
required by a state that does not require cage tagging, any vessel 
owners or operators permitted to fish in the EEZ for surfclams and 
ocean quahogs must comply with the more restrictive requirement while 
fishing in state waters. However, surrender of a surfclam and ocean 
quahog vessel permit by the owner by certified mail addressed to the 
Regional Administrator allows an individual to comply with the less 
restrictive state minimum size requirement, as long as fishing is 
conducted exclusively within state waters.
* * * * *

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5. In Sec.  648.5, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.5  Operator permits.

    (a) General. Any operator of a vessel fishing for or possessing: 
Atlantic sea scallops, NE multispecies, spiny dogfish, monkfish, 
Atlantic herring, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, Atlantic mackerel, 
squid, butterfish, scup, black sea bass, or Atlantic bluefish, 
harvested in or from the EEZ; golden tilefish or blueline tilefish 
harvested in or from the EEZ portion of the Tilefish Management Unit; 
skates harvested in or from the EEZ portion of the Skate Management 
Unit; or Atlantic deep-sea red crab harvested in or from the EEZ 
portion of the Red Crab Management Unit, issued a permit, including 
carrier and processing permits, for these species under this part, must 
have been issued under this section, and carry on board, a valid 
operator permit. An operator's permit issued pursuant to part 622 or 
part 697 of this chapter satisfies the permitting requirement of this 
section. This requirement does not apply to operators of recreational 
vessels.
* * * * *

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6. In Sec.  648.6, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.6  Dealer/processor permits.

    (a) General. (1) All dealers of NE multispecies, monkfish, skates, 
Atlantic herring, Atlantic sea scallop, Atlantic deep-sea red crab, 
spiny dogfish, summer flounder, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, 
Atlantic mackerel, squid, butterfish, scup, bluefish, golden tilefish, 
blueline tilefish, and black sea bass; Atlantic surfclam and ocean 
quahog processors; Atlantic hagfish dealers and/or processors, and 
Atlantic herring processors or dealers, as described in Sec.  648.2; 
must have been issued under this section, and have in their possession, 
a valid permit or permits for these species.
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  648.14, paragraph (u) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (u) Golden and blueline tilefish. It is unlawful for any person 
owning or operating a vessel to do any of the following:
    (1) Permit requirements--(i) Operator permit. Operate, or act as an 
operator of, a vessel with a tilefish permit, or a vessel fishing for 
or possessing golden or blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, unless the operator has been issued, and is in 
possession of, a valid operator permit. This requirement does not apply 
to operators of private recreational vessels.
    (ii) Dealer permit. Purchase, possess, receive for a commercial 
purpose; or attempt to purchase, possess, or receive for a commercial 
purpose; as a dealer, or in the capacity of a dealer, golden or 
blueline tilefish that were harvested in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, without having been issued, and in possession of, a 
valid tilefish dealer permit.
    (iii) Vessel permit. (A) Sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer 
from a vessel; or attempt to sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer 
from a vessel; for a commercial purpose, other than solely for 
transport on land, any golden or blueline tilefish, unless the vessel 
has been issued a commercial tilefish permit, or unless the tilefish 
were harvested by a vessel without a commercial tilefish permit that 
fished exclusively in State waters.
    (B) Operate a vessel that takes recreational fishermen for hire to 
fish for golden or blueline tilefish in the Tilefish Management Unit 
without a valid tilefish charter/party vessel permit, as required in 
Sec.  648.4(a)(12)(i).
    (2) Possession and landing. (i) Fish for, possess, retain, or land 
golden or blueline tilefish, unless:
    (A) The tilefish are being fished for or were harvested in or from 
the Tilefish Management Unit by a vessel holding a valid tilefish 
permit under this part, and the operator on board such vessel has been 
issued an operator permit that is on board the vessel.

[[Page 52857]]

    (B) The tilefish were harvested by a vessel that has not been 
issued a tilefish permit and that was fishing exclusively in State 
waters.
    (C) The tilefish were harvested in or from the Tilefish Management 
Unit by a vessel, other than a charter/party vessel, that is engaged in 
recreational fishing.
    (ii) Land or possess golden or blueline tilefish harvested in or 
from the Tilefish Management Unit, in excess of either:
    (A) The relevant commercial trip limit specified at Sec.  648.295, 
unless possessing golden tilefish authorized pursuant to a valid 
tilefish IFQ allocation permit, as specified in Sec.  648.294(a).
    (B) The relevant recreational possession limit specified at Sec.  
648.296, if engaged in recreational fishing including charter/party 
vessels.
    (iii) Land golden tilefish harvested in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit in excess of that authorized under a tilefish IFQ 
allocation permit as described at Sec.  648.294(a).
    (iv) Fish for golden or blueline tilefish inside and outside of the 
Tilefish Management Unit on the same trip.
    (v) Discard golden tilefish harvested in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, as defined in Sec.  648.2, unless participating in 
recreational fishing, as defined in Sec.  648.2, or while fishing 
subject to a trip limit pursuant to Sec.  648.295(a).
    (vi) Land or possess golden tilefish in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid tilefish permit under this 
part, after the incidental golden tilefish fishery is closed pursuant 
to Sec.  648.295(a)(2), unless fishing under a valid tilefish IFQ 
allocation permit as specified in Sec.  648.294(a), or engaged in 
recreational fishing.
    (vii) Land or possess blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid tilefish permit under this 
part, after the commercial blueline tilefish fishery is closed pursuant 
to Sec.  648.295(b)(2), unless engaged in recreational fishing.
    (viii) Land or possess blueline tilefish in or from the Tilefish 
Management Unit, on a vessel issued a valid commercial tilefish permit 
under this part, that do not have the head and fins naturally attached 
to the fish.
    (3) Transfer and purchase. (i) Purchase, possess, or receive for a 
commercial purpose, other than solely for transport on land; or attempt 
to purchase, possess, or receive for a commercial purpose, other than 
solely for transport on land; golden or blueline tilefish caught by a 
vessel without a tilefish permit, unless the tilefish were harvested by 
a vessel without a tilefish permit that fished exclusively in State 
waters.
    (ii) Purchase or otherwise receive for commercial purposes golden 
or blueline tilefish caught in the EEZ from outside the Tilefish 
Management Unit unless otherwise permitted under 50 CFR part 622.
    (4) Presumption. For purposes of this part, the following 
presumption applies: All golden or blueline tilefish retained or 
possessed on a vessel issued any permit under Sec.  648.4 are deemed to 
have been harvested in or from the Tilefish Management Unit, unless the 
preponderance of all submitted evidence demonstrates that such tilefish 
were harvested by a vessel fishing exclusively in state waters.
* * * * *

0
8. The heading for subpart N is revised to read as follows:

Subpart N--Management Measures for the Golden Tilefish and Blueline 
Tilefish Fisheries

0
9. Section 648.290 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.290  Tilefish Annual Catch Limits (ACL).

    (a) Golden tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
recommend to the MAFMC an ACL for the commercial golden tilefish 
fishery, which shall be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC.
    (1) [Reserved]
    (2) Periodicity. The tilefish commercial ACL may be established on 
an annual basis for up to three years at a time, dependent on whether 
the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC recommendations.
    (b) Blueline tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
recommend to the MAFMC separate ACLs for the commercial and 
recreational blueline tilefish fisheries, the sum total of which shall 
be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC.
    (1) Sector allocations. The ACL for the commercial sector of the 
blueline tilefish fishery shall be 27 percent of the ABC, and the ACL 
for the recreational sector of the fishery shall be 73 percent of the 
ABC.
    (2) Periodicity. The blueline tilefish commercial and recreational 
ACLs may be established on an annual basis for up to three years at a 
time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple-year ABC 
recommendations.
    (c) Performance review. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
conduct a detailed review of golden tilefish and blueline tilefish 
fishery performance relative to the appropriate sector ACLs at least 
every 5 years.
    (1) If an ACL is exceeded with a frequency greater than 25 percent 
(i.e., more than once in 4 years or in any 2 consecutive years), the 
Tilefish Monitoring Committee will review fishery performance 
information and make recommendations to the MAFMC for changes in 
measures intended to ensure ACLs are not as frequently exceeded.
    (2) The MAFMC may specify more frequent or more specific ACL 
performance review criteria as part of a stock rebuilding plan 
following a determination that either the golden tilefish or blueline 
tilefish stock has become overfished.
    (3) Performance reviews shall not substitute for annual reviews 
that occur to ascertain if prior year ACLs have been exceeded, but may 
be conducted in conjunction with such reviews.

0
10. Section 648.291 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.291   Tilefish Annual Catch Targets (ACT).

    (a) Golden tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
identify and review the relevant sources of management uncertainty to 
recommend an ACT as part of the golden tilefish specification process. 
The Tilefish Monitoring Committee recommendations shall identify the 
specific sources of management uncertainty that were considered, 
technical approaches to mitigating these sources of uncertainty, and 
any additional relevant information considered in the ACT 
recommendation process.
    (1) Sectors. The ACT shall be less than or equal to the ACL. The 
Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall include the fishing mortality 
associated with the recreational fishery in its ACT recommendations 
only if this source of mortality has not already been accounted for in 
the ABC recommended by the SSC. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address sector-specific 
management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (a) of this section.
    (2) Periodicity. ACTs may be established on an annual basis for up 
to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single 
or multiple-year ABC recommendations.
    (b) Blueline tilefish. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
identify and review the relevant sources of management uncertainty to 
recommend ACTs for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors as 
part of the

[[Page 52858]]

blueline tilefish specification process. The Tilefish Monitoring 
Committee recommendations shall identify the specific sources of 
management uncertainty that were considered, technical approaches to 
mitigating these sources of uncertainty, and any additional relevant 
information considered in the ACT recommendation process.
    (1) Sectors. Commercial and recreational specific ACTs shall be 
less than or equal to the sector-specific ACLs. The Tilefish Monitoring 
Committee shall recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address 
sector-specific management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (b) 
of this section.
    (2) Periodicity. ACTs may be established on an annual basis for up 
to three years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single 
or multiple-year ABC recommendations.
    (c) Performance review. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee shall 
conduct a detailed review of golden tilefish and blueline tilefish 
fishery performance relative to the appropriate ACTs in conjunction 
with any ACL performance review, as outlined in Sec.  648.290(c)(1) 
through (3).

0
11. Section 648.292 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.292   Tilefish specifications.

    (a) Golden Tilefish. The golden tilefish fishing year is the 12-
month period beginning with November 1, annually.
    (1) Annual specification process. The Tilefish Monitoring Committee 
shall review the ABC recommendation of the SSC, golden tilefish 
landings and discards information, and any other relevant available 
data to determine if the golden tilefish ACL, ACT, or total allowable 
landings (TAL) requires modification to respond to any changes to the 
golden tilefish stock's biological reference points or to ensure that 
the rebuilding schedule is maintained. The Monitoring Committee will 
consider whether any additional management measures or revisions to 
existing measures are necessary to ensure that the TAL will not be 
exceeded. Based on that review, the Monitoring Committee will recommend 
golden tilefish ACL, ACT, and TAL to the Tilefish Committee of the 
MAFMC. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received, 
the Tilefish Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC the appropriate 
golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL, and other management measures for a 
single fishing year or up to three years. The MAFMC shall review these 
recommendations and any public comments received, and recommend to the 
Regional Administrator, at least 120 days prior to the beginning of the 
next fishing year, the appropriate golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL, the 
percentage of TAL allocated to research quota, and any management 
measures to ensure that the TAL will not be exceeded, for the next 
fishing year, or up to three fishing years. The MAFMC's recommendations 
must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the 
environmental and economic impacts of the recommendations. The Regional 
Administrator shall review these recommendations, and after such 
review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register 
specifying the annual golden tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL and any management 
measures to ensure that the TAL will not be exceeded for the upcoming 
fishing year or years. After considering public comments, NMFS will 
publish a final rule in the Federal Register to implement the golden 
tilefish ACL, ACT, TAL and any management measures. The previous year's 
specifications will remain effective unless revised through the 
specification process and/or the research quota process described in 
paragraph (a)(5) of this section. NMFS will issue notification in the 
Federal Register if the previous year's specifications will not be 
changed.
    (2) Total Allowable Landings (TAL). (i) The TAL for each fishing 
year will be specified pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
    (ii) The sum of the TAL and the estimated discards shall be less 
than or equal to the ACT.
    (3) TAL allocation. For each fishing year, up to three percent of 
the golden tilefish TAL may be set aside for the purpose of funding 
research. Once a research amount, if any, is set aside, the golden 
tilefish TAL will first be reduced by 5 percent to adjust for the 
incidental catch. The remaining TAL will be allocated to the individual 
IFQ permit holders as described in Sec.  648.294(a).
    (4) Adjustments to the quota. If the incidental harvest exceeds 5 
percent of the golden tilefish TAL for a given fishing year, the 
incidental trip limit specified at Sec.  648.295(a)(1) may be reduced 
in the following fishing year. If an adjustment is required, a 
notification of adjustment of the quota will be published in the 
Federal Register.
    (5) Research quota. See Sec.  648.22(g).
    (b) Blueline tilefish. The blueline tilefish fishing year is the 
calendar year beginning on January 1, annually.
    (1) Recommended measures. Based on annual review, the Tilefish 
Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the Tilefish Committee of the 
MAFMC measures to ensure that the ACLs specified by the process 
outlined in Sec.  648.290(b), including:
    (i) Total Allowable Landings (TAL) for both the commercial and 
recreational sectors for each fishing year, where the sum of the TAL 
and sector-specific estimated discards shall be less than or equal to 
the sector ACT;
    (ii) Research quota for both the commercial and recreational 
sectors set from a range of 0 to three percent of the TAL, as described 
in paragraph (b)(3) of this section;
    (iii) Commercial trip limit;
    (iv) Commercial minimum fish size;
    (v) Recreational possession limit;
    (vi) Recreational minimum fish size;
    (vii) Recreational season;
    (viii) Retention requirements; and/or
    (ix) Any other measure needed to ensure the ACLs are not exceeded.
    (2) Annual specification process. The Tilefish Committee of the 
MAFMC shall review the recommendations of the Tilefish Monitoring 
Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment 
received, the Tilefish Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC the 
appropriate ACL, ACT, TAL, and other management measures for the 
blueline tilefish commercial and recreational sectors for a single 
fishing year or up to three years. The MAFMC shall review these 
recommendations and any public comments received, and recommend to the 
Regional Administrator, at least 120 days prior to the beginning of the 
next fishing year, the appropriate blueline tilefish ACLs, ACTs, TALs, 
the percentage of TAL allocated to research quota, and any management 
measures to ensure that the sector ACLs will not be exceeded, for the 
next fishing year, or up to three fishing years. The MAFMC's 
recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, 
concerning the environmental and economic impacts of the 
recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall review these 
recommendations, and after such review, NMFS will publish a proposed 
rule in the Federal Register specifying the annual blueline tilefish 
ACL, ACT, TAL and any management measures for the blueline tilefish 
commercial and recreational sectors to ensure that the sector ACLs will 
not be exceeded for the upcoming fishing year or years. After 
considering public comments, NMFS will publish a final rule in the 
Federal Register to implement the blueline tilefish commercial and 
recreational ACLs, ACTs, TALs and any management measures. The previous

[[Page 52859]]

year's specifications will remain effective unless revised through the 
specification process and/or the research quota process described in 
paragraph (b)(3) of this section. NMFS will issue notification in the 
Federal Register if the previous year's specifications will not be 
changed.
    (3) Research quota. See Sec.  648.22(g).

0
12. Section 648.293 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.293   Tilefish accountability measures.

    (a) Golden tilefish--(1) Commercial incidental fishery closure. See 
Sec.  648.295(a)(2).
    (2) Commercial ACL overage evaluation. If the golden tilefish ACL 
is exceeded, the amount of the ACL overage that cannot be directly 
attributed to IFQ allocation holders having exceeded their IFQ 
allocation will be deducted from the golden tilefish ACL in the 
following fishing year. All overages directly attributable to IFQ 
allocation holders will be deducted from the appropriate IFQ 
allocation(s) in the subsequent fishing year, as required by Sec.  
648.294(f).
    (b) Blueline tilefish--(1) Commercial fishery closure. See Sec.  
648.295(b)(2).
    (2) Commercial ACL overage evaluation. The commercial sector ACL 
will be evaluated based on a single-year examination of total catch 
(landings and discards).
    (i) Commercial landings overage repayment. Landings in excess of 
the commercial ACL will be deducted from the commercial ACL for the 
following year.
    (ii) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the 
commercial ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been 
accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the exact amount by 
which the commercial ACL was exceeded, in pounds, will be deducted, as 
soon as possible, from the applicable subsequent single fishing year 
commercial ACL.
    (3) Recreational ACL overage evaluation. The recreational sector 
ACL will be evaluated based on a three-year moving average comparison 
of total catch (landings and discards). Both landings and dead discards 
will be evaluated in determining if the three-year average recreational 
sector ACL has been exceeded. The three-year moving average will be 
phased in over the first three years, beginning with 2017: Total 
recreational total catch from 2017 will be compared to the 2017 
recreational sector ACL; the average total catch from both 2017 and 
2018 will be compared to the average of the 2017 and 2018 recreational 
sector ACLs; the average total catch from 2017, 2018, and 2019 will be 
compared to the average of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 recreational sector 
ACLs and, for all subsequent years, the preceding three-year average 
recreational total catch will be compared to the preceding three-year 
average recreational sector ACL.
    (4) Recreational accountability measures (AM). If the recreational 
ACL is exceeded, then the following procedure will be followed:
    (i) If biomass is below threshold, the stock is under rebuilding, 
or biological reference points are unknown. If the most recent estimate 
of biomass is below the BMSY threshold (i.e., B/
BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a rebuilding 
plan, or the biological reference points (B or BMSY) are 
unknown, and the recreational ACL has been exceeded, then the exact 
amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year's recreational catch 
estimate exceeded the most recent year's recreational ACL will be 
deducted in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible 
thereafter, once catch data are available, from the recreational ACT, 
as a single-year adjustment. Changes to management measures would also 
be considered through the specifications process to avoid future 
overages.
    (ii) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (A) If the recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational 
ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (B) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single-year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made in 
the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once 
catch data are available, as described below. In addition, adjustments 
to the recreational management measures, taking into account the 
performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the 
overage, will be made in the following year.
    (1) Adjustment to recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the 
following year's recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be 
reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, 
defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the 
recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient.
    (2) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (iii) If biomass is above target. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater 
than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, 
taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.

0
13. In Sec.  648.294, revise the section heading and paragraphs (a)(1) 
and (2), (b)(1) introductory text, (b)(4), (e)(3)(ii) and (iii), (e)(4) 
introductory text, (f), (g), (h)(1), (h)(2)(ii), and (h)(4)(i) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  648.294   Golden tilefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) program.

    (a) IFQ allocation permits. (1) After adjustments for incidental 
catch, research set-asides, and overages, as appropriate, pursuant to 
Sec.  648.292(a)(3), the Regional Administrator shall divide the 
remaining golden tilefish TAL among the IFQ quota shareholders who held 
IFQ quota share as of September 1 of a given fishing year. Allocations 
shall be made by applying the IFQ quota share percentages that exist on 
September 1 of a given fishing year to the IFQ TAL pursuant to Sec.  
648.292(a)(3), subject to any deductions for overages pursuant to 
paragraph (f) of this section. Amounts of IFQ allocation of 0.5 lb 
(0.23 kg) or smaller created by this calculation shall be rounded 
downward to the nearest whole number, and amounts of IFQ allocation 
greater than 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) shall be rounded upward to the nearest 
whole number, so that annual IFQ allocations are specified in whole 
pounds.
    (2) Allocations shall be issued in the form of an annual IFQ 
allocation permit. The IFQ allocation permit shall specify the quota 
share percentage held by the IFQ allocation permit holder and the total 
pounds of golden tilefish that the IFQ allocation permit holder is 
authorized to harvest.
* * * * *
    (b) Application--(1) General. Applicants for a permit under this 
section must submit a completed

[[Page 52860]]

application on an appropriate form obtained from NMFS. The application 
must be filled out completely and signed by the applicant. Each 
application must include a declaration of all interests in IFQ quota 
shares and IFQ allocations, as defined in Sec.  648.2, listed by IFQ 
allocation permit number, and must list all Federal vessel permit 
numbers for all vessels that an applicant owns or leases that would be 
authorized to possess golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation 
permit. The Regional Administrator will notify the applicant of any 
deficiency in the application.
* * * * *
    (4) IFQ vessel. All Federal vessel permit numbers that are listed 
on the IFQ allocation permit are authorized to possess golden tilefish 
pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit until the end of the fishing year 
or until NMFS receives written notification from the IFQ allocation 
permit holder that the vessel is no longer authorized to possess golden 
tilefish pursuant to the subject permit. An IFQ allocation permit 
holder who wishes to authorize an additional vessel(s) to possess 
golden tilefish pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit must send written 
notification to NMFS. This notification must include the vessel name 
and permit number, and the dates on which the IFQ allocation permit 
holder desires the vessel to be authorized to land golden tilefish 
pursuant to the IFQ allocation permit. A copy of the IFQ allocation 
permit must be carried on board each vessel so authorized to possess 
IFQ golden tilefish.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) A transfer of IFQ allocation or quota share will not be 
approved by the Regional Administrator if it would result in an entity 
holding, or having an interest in, a percentage of IFQ allocation 
exceeding 49 percent of the total golden tilefish adjusted TAL.
    (iii) For the purpose of calculating the appropriate IFQ cost 
recovery fee, if the holder of an IFQ allocation leases additional IFQ 
allocation, the quantity and value of golden tilefish landings made 
after the date the lease is approved by the Regional Administrator are 
attributed to the transferred quota before being attributed to the 
allocation holder's base IFQ allocation, if any exists. In the event of 
multiple leases, landings would be attributed to the leased allocations 
in the order the leases were approved by the Regional Administrator. As 
described in paragraph (h) of this section, a tilefish IFQ quota share 
allocation holder shall incur a cost recovery fee, based on the value 
of landings of golden tilefish authorized under the allocation holder's 
annual tilefish IFQ allocation, including allocation that is leased to 
another IFQ allocation permit holder.
    (4) Application for an IFQ allocation transfer. Any IFQ allocation 
permit holder applying for either permanent transfer of IFQ quota share 
or temporary transfer of annual IFQ allocation must submit a completed 
IFQ Allocation Transfer Form, available from NMFS. The IFQ Allocation 
Transfer Form must be submitted to the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office at least 30 days before the date on which the 
applicant desires to have the IFQ allocation transfer effective. The 
Regional Administrator shall notify the applicants of any deficiency in 
the application pursuant to this section. Applications for permanent 
IFQ quota share allocation transfers must be received by September 1 to 
be processed and effective before annual IFQ allocations are issued for 
the next fishing year. Applications for temporary IFQ allocation 
transfers must be received by October 10 to be processed for the 
current fishing year.
* * * * *
    (f) IFQ allocation overages. If an IFQ allocation is exceeded, 
including by amounts of golden tilefish landed by a lessee in excess of 
a temporary transfer of IFQ allocation, the amount of the overage will 
be deducted from the IFQ shareholder's allocation in the subsequent 
fishing year(s). If an IFQ allocation overage is not deducted from the 
appropriate allocation before the IFQ allocation permit is issued for 
the subsequent fishing year, a revised IFQ allocation permit reflecting 
the deduction of the overage shall be issued by NMFS. If the allocation 
cannot be reduced in the subsequent fishing year because the full 
allocation has already been landed or transferred, the IFQ allocation 
permit will indicate a reduced allocation for the amount of the overage 
in the next fishing year.
    (g) IFQ allocation acquisition restriction. No person or entity may 
acquire more than 49 percent of the annual adjusted golden tilefish 
TAL, specified pursuant to Sec.  648.294, at any point during a fishing 
year. For purposes of this paragraph, acquisition includes any 
permanent transfer of IFQ quota share or temporary transfer of annual 
IFQ allocation. The calculation of IFQ allocation for purposes of the 
restriction on acquisition includes IFQ allocation interests held by: A 
company in which the IFQ holder is a shareholder, officer, or partner; 
an immediate family member; or a company in which the IFQ holder is a 
part owner or partner.
    (h) * * *
    (1) Payment responsibility. Each tilefish IFQ allocation permit 
holder with quota share shall incur a cost recovery fee annually, based 
on the value of landings of golden tilefish authorized under his/her 
tilefish IFQ allocation, including allocation that he/she leases to 
another IFQ allocation permit holder. The tilefish IFQ allocation 
permit holder is responsible for paying the fee assessed by NMFS.
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Calculating fee percentage. The recoverable costs determined 
by the Regional Administrator will be divided by the total ex-vessel 
value of all golden tilefish IFQ landings during the cost recovery 
billing period to derive a fee percentage. Each IFQ allocation permit 
holder with quota share will be assessed a fee based on the fee 
percentage multiplied by the total ex-vessel value of all landings 
under his/her IFQ allocation permit, including landings of allocation 
that was leased to another IFQ allocation permit holder.
    (A) The ex-vessel value for each pound of golden tilefish landed by 
an IFQ allocation permit holder shall be determined from Northeast 
Federal dealer reports submitted to NMFS, which include the price per 
pound paid to the vessel at the time of dealer purchase.
    (B) The cost recovery fee percentage shall not exceed three percent 
of the total value of golden tilefish landings, as required under 
section 304(d)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (i) At any time thereafter, notify the IFQ allocation permit holder 
in writing that his/her IFQ allocation permit is suspended, thereby 
prohibiting landings of tilefish above the incidental limit, as 
specified at Sec.  648.295(a).
* * * * *

0
14. Section 648.295 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.295   Tilefish commercial trip limits.

    (a) Golden tilefish--(1) Incidental trip limit for vessels not 
fishing under an IFQ allocation. Any vessel of the United States 
fishing under a tilefish permit, as described at Sec.  648.4(a)(12), is 
prohibited from possessing more than 500 lb (226.8 kg) of golden 
tilefish at any time, unless the vessel is fishing under a tilefish IFQ 
allocation permit, as specified at Sec.  648.294(a). Any golden 
tilefish landed by a vessel fishing under an IFQ allocation permit, on 
a given fishing

[[Page 52861]]

trip, count as landings under the IFQ allocation permit.
    (2) In-season closure of the incidental fishery. The Regional 
Administrator will monitor the harvest of the golden tilefish 
incidental TAL based on dealer reports and other available information, 
and shall determine the date when the incidental golden tilefish TAL 
has been landed. The Regional Administrator shall publish a notice in 
the Federal Register notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that, 
effective upon a specific date, the incidental golden tilefish fishery 
is closed for the remainder of the fishing year.
    (b) Blueline tilefish--(1) Commercial possession limit. Any vessel 
of the United States fishing under a tilefish permit, as described at 
Sec.  648.4(a)(12), is prohibited from possessing more than 300 lb (136 
kg) of blueline tilefish per trip in or from the Tilefish Management 
Unit. Commercial blueline tilefish must be landed with head and fins 
naturally attached, but may be gutted.
    (2) In-season closure of the commercial fishery. The Regional 
Administrator will monitor the harvest of the blueline tilefish 
commercial TAL based on dealer reports and other available information, 
and shall determine the date when the blueline tilefish commercial TAL 
will be landed. The Regional Administrator shall publish a notice in 
the Federal Register notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that, 
effective upon a specific date, the blueline tilefish commercial 
fishery is closed for the remainder of the fishing year.

0
15. Section 648.296 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.296   Tilefish recreational possession limits.

    (a) Golden tilefish. Any person fishing from a vessel that is not 
fishing under a tilefish commercial vessel permit issued pursuant to 
Sec.  648.4(a)(12), may land up to eight golden tilefish per trip. 
Anglers fishing onboard a charter/party vessel shall observe the 
recreational possession limit.
    (b) Blueline tilefish--(1) Private recreational vessels. Any person 
fishing from a vessel that is not fishing under a tilefish commercial 
or charter/party vessel permit issued pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(12), 
may land up to three blueline tilefish per trip.
    (2) Uninspected for-hire vessels. Anglers fishing onboard a for-
hire vessel under a tilefish charter/party vessel permit issued 
pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(12), which has not been issued a valid U.S. 
Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection may land up to five blueline 
tilefish per person per trip.
    (3) Inspected for-hire vessels. Anglers fishing onboard a for-hire 
vessel under a tilefish charter/party vessel permit issued pursuant to 
Sec.  648.4(a)(12), which has been issued a valid U.S. Coast Guard 
Certificate of Inspection may land up to seven blueline tilefish per 
person per trip.
    (c) Enforcement. Tilefish harvested by vessels subject to the 
possession limits with more than one person on board may be pooled in 
one or more containers. Compliance with the golden tilefish possession 
limit will be determined by dividing the number of golden tilefish on 
board by the number of persons on board. Compliance with the blueline 
tilefish possession limit will be determined by dividing the number of 
blueline tilefish on board by the number of persons on board. The 
captain and crew of a party or charter boat are not counted in 
determining the possession limit. If there is a violation of the 
possession limit on board a vessel carrying more than one person, the 
violation shall be deemed to have been committed by the owner and 
operator of the vessel.

0
16. In Sec.  648.299, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(xix), (xx), and (xxi) 
and add paragraphs (a)(1)(xxii) and (xxiii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.299   Tilefish framework specifications.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (xix) Recreational management measures, including the bag limit, 
minimum fish size limit, seasons, and gear restrictions or 
prohibitions;
    (xx) Golden tilefish IFQ program review components, including 
capacity reduction, safety at sea issues, transferability rules, 
ownership concentration caps, permit and reporting requirements, and 
fee and cost-recovery issues;
    (xxi) Blueline tilefish recreational permitting and reporting 
requirements previously considered by the MAFMC; and
    (xxii) Blueline tilefish allocations to the commercial and 
recreational sectors of the fishery within the range of allocation 
alternatives considered by the MAFMC in Amendment 6.
    (xxiii) Measures that require significant departures from 
previously contemplated measures or that are otherwise introducing new 
concepts may require a formal amendment of the FMP instead of a 
framework adjustment.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-24710 Filed 11-14-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P