Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Regulatory Amendment 6 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 56917-56921 [2017-25847]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary. Final Rules For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 64 as follows: PART 64—MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS 1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 225, 254(k), 403(b)(2)(B), (c), 715, Pub. L. 104–104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 225, 226, 227, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112–96, unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 64.1600 by adding paragraph (l) to read as follows: ■ § 64.1600 (2) Any system used to record CPN must be operated in a secure way, limiting access to designated telecommunications and security personnel, as directed by law enforcement; (3) Telecommunications and security personnel, as directed by law enforcement, may access restricted CPN data only when investigating phone calls of a threatening and serious nature, and shall document that access as part of the investigative report; (4) Carriers transmitting restricted CPN information must take reasonable measures to ensure security of such communications; (5) CPN information must be destroyed in a secure manner after a reasonable retention period; and (6) Any violation of these conditions must be reported promptly to the Commission. [FR Doc. 2017–25917 Filed 11–30–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P Definitions. * * * * * (l) Threatening Call. The term ‘‘threatening call’’ is any call that conveys an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency. ■ 3. Amend § 64.1601 by revising paragraph (d)(4)(ii) and by adding paragraphs (f) and (g) to read as follows: jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES § 64.1601 Delivery requirements and privacy restrictions. (d) * * * (4) * * * (ii) Is used on a public agency’s emergency telephone line or in conjunction with 911 emergency services, on a telephone line to contact non-public emergency services licensed by the state or municipality, or on any entity’s emergency assistance poison control telephone line; or * * * * * (f) Paragraph (b) of this section shall not apply when CPN delivery is made in connection with a threatening call. Upon report of such a threatening call by law enforcement on behalf of the threatened party, the carrier will provide any CPN of the calling party to law enforcement and, as directed by law enforcement, to security personnel for the called party for the purpose of identifying the party responsible for the threatening call. (g) For law enforcement or security personnel of the called party investigating the threat: (1) The CPN on incoming restricted calls may not be passed on to the line called; VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:57 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 170510477–7999–02] RIN 0648–BG88 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Regulatory Amendment 6 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues regulations to implement the measures described in Regulatory Amendment 6 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (FMP), as prepared and submitted by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule revises the method used to trigger the application of accountability measures (AM) for Council-managed reef fish species or species groups in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Puerto Rico. The purpose of this final rule is to increase the likelihood that optimum yield (OY) is achieved on a continuing basis and to minimize, to the extent practicable, adverse socio-economic effects of AM-based closures. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 56917 This final rule is effective January 2, 2018. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 6, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/caribbean/index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Stephenson, telephone: 727–824– 5305; email: sarah.stephenson@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the U.S. Caribbean EEZ, the reef fish fishery is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). On September 19, 2017, NMFS published a proposed rule for Regulatory Amendment 6 and requested public comment (82 FR 43733). The proposed rule and Regulatory Amendment 6 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management measures described in the Regulatory Amendment 6 and implemented by this final rule is provided below. The current AMs in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, applicable to Councilmanaged reef fish species or species groups, require NMFS to reduce the length of the Federal fishing season in the fishing year following a determination that landings for a species or species group exceeded the applicable sector annual catch limit (ACL). As specified in the FMP, the landings determination is based on the applicable 3-year landings average. Currently, an AM-based closure is triggered and applied when the sector ACL is exceeded, even if the total ACL (i.e., combined commercial and recreational ACLs) for a species or species group is not exceeded. For all Council-managed reef fish species or species groups, the total ACL equals the annual estimate of OY and is set at a level that is considered to be sustainable for the species or species group. Therefore, the application of the current AM for Puerto Rico reef fish could translate into yield below the OY from the affected species or species group (if the sector ACL is exceeded, but the total ACL is not), potentially resulting in negative socio-economic impacts. Sector-specific data are not available for other federally-managed species in DATES: E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 56918 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations the EEZ off Puerto Rico (e.g., queen conch, spiny lobster) or for other federally-managed species or species groups in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ, so those species and species groups are not included in Regulatory Amendment 6. Therefore, Regulatory Amendment 6 and this proposed rule apply only to federally-managed reef fish species and species groups in the EEZ off Puerto Rico. jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule This final rule revises the trigger for implementing AM-based fishing season reductions for all reef fish species or species groups managed by the Council in the EEZ off Puerto Rico. Specifically, an AM-based closure will be triggered only when both the applicable sector (recreational or commercial) ACL and the total ACL for a species or species group are exceeded. If both the sector ACL and the total ACL are exceeded, the AM will be applied to the sector or sectors that experienced the overage. The duration of any implemented AMbased closure will continue to be based on the extent to which the applicable sector ACL was exceeded and will be calculated and applied using the current practices and methods. However, consistent with the current regulations, if NMFS determines that either the sector or total ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts, instead of an increase in catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season. This final rule to implement Regulatory Amendment 6 is expected to increase the likelihood that OY is achieved on a continuing basis and to minimize adverse socio-economic effects from the implementation of AMs, while still helping to ensure that AMbased closures constrain harvest to the total ACL and prevent overfishing. Modifying the AM trigger for a fishing season reduction, from an overage of the sector ACL to an overage of both the sector and the total ACL, increases the likelihood that OY for a species or species group will be achieved on a continuing basis. Additionally, the revision to the AM is likely to result in the AM being triggered less frequently and thereby result in fewer fishing season reductions. Sector fishing season reductions that are shorter in duration and that may occur less frequently are expected to result in increased socioeconomic benefits to the applicable sector and the associated fishing communities. NMFS notes that the method for calculating the landings determination using the 3-year landings VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:57 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 average for a species or species group will not change through this final rule. NMFS notes that in the codified text for this final rule, amendatory instruction 2 revises the entire § 622.12. While this final rule only affects management in Puerto Rico Federal waters, the section as a whole is revised as a result of the action to more clearly and distinctly describe the AMs and ACLs throughout the U.S. Caribbean EEZ. This final rule also revises some regulatory citations within §§ 622.12 and 622.491 to reflect changes made to the regulatory text as a result of this final rule. Comments and Responses NMFS received three total comments on the proposed rule. One comment expressed overall support for the amendment and the rule. One comment was not related to the action in the amendment or the proposed rule. The other comment, as well as NMFS’ response, is summarized below. Comment 1: The AM closure trigger should not be revised to allow a given sector to stay open and continue fishing after it has reached its ACL as any harvest in excess of the sector ACL is not sustainable. Fishing within each sector must be sustainable to avoid negative economic impact. Response: NMFS disagrees. Under the current application of AMs for Councilmanaged reef fish in Puerto Rico, yield may be below the OY for a species or species group over time. The Council developed Regulatory Amendment 6 as a means to increase the likelihood that OY for a species or species group will be achieved on a continuing basis while preventing overfishing, and, to the extent practicable, minimizing adverse socio-economic effects to fishers and fishing communities from the application of AMs. For all Councilmanaged reef fish species or species groups, the total ACL equals an annual estimate of OY and is set at a level that is considered to be sustainable for the species or species group. Therefore, the application of the current AM for Puerto Rico reef fish could translate into yield below the OY from the affected species or species group (if the sector ACL is exceeded, but the total ACL is not), potentially resulting in negative socioeconomic impacts. Since sector-specific data is available for reef fish species or species groups in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, sector-specific ACLs were established, yet the overall health of the stocks continues to be managed in relation to the total ACL. Ensuring that the total ACL for a stock is not exceeded, even if there is a specific sector ACL overage, maintains the PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 overall health of the stock and is also consistent with the use of AMs for reef fish throughout the rest of the Caribbean EEZ, where fishing is not managed by sectors. The AM trigger revision in this final rule increases the likelihood that OY for a species or species group will be achieved on a continuing basis without reducing the long-term sustainability of the resource. Classification The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined that this final rule is consistent with Regulatory Amendment 6, the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule. 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 rule would not have a significant adverse economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No changes to this final rule were made in response to public comments. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Accountability measures, Annual catch limits, Caribbean, Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico. Dated: November 27, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. ■ 2. Revise § 622.12 to read as follows: E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES § 622.12 Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for Caribbean island management areas/ Caribbean EEZ. (a) Puerto Rico management area. See appendix E of this part for specification of the Puerto Rico management area. (1) Queen conch. See § 622.491 regarding seasonal and area closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen conch. (i) Commercial ACL. For the EEZ only, 0 lb (0 kg), round weight. (ii) Recreational ACL. For the EEZ only, 0 lb (0 kg), round weight. (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. With the exceptions of goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for the Puerto Rico management area. As described in the FMP, for each species or species group in this paragraph (a)(2), any fishing season reduction required under paragraph (a)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. (i) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable species or species group commercial ACL, as specified in this paragraph (a)(2)(i), and the combined commercial and recreational landings have exceeded the applicable combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species groups for the commercial sector that year by the amount necessary to ensure that commercial landings do not exceed the applicable commercial ACL for the species or species group. If NMFS determines that either the applicable commercial ACL or total ACL for a particular species or species group was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in catch of the species or species group, NMFS will not reduce the length of the commercial fishing season for the applicable species or species group the following fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:57 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 year. The commercial ACLs, in round weight, are as follows: (A) Parrotfishes—52,737 lb (23,915 kg). (B) Snapper Unit 1—284,685 lb (129,131 kg). (C) Snapper Unit 2—145,916 lb (66,186 kg). (D) Snapper Unit 3—345,775 lb (156,841 kg). (E) Snapper Unit 4—373,295 lb (169,324 kg). (F) Groupers—177,513 lb (80,519 kg). (G) Angelfish—8,984 lb (4,075 kg). (H) Boxfish—86,115 lb (39,061 kg). (I) Goatfishes—17,565 lb (7,967 kg). (J) Grunts—182,396 lb (82,733 kg). (K) Wrasses—54,147 lb (24,561 kg). (L) Jacks—86,059 lb (39,036 kg). (M) Scups and porgies, combined— 24,739 lb (11,221 kg). (N) Squirrelfish—16,663 lb (7,558 kg). (O) Surgeonfish—7,179 lb (3,256 kg). (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined—58,475 lb (26,524 kg). (ii) Recreational sector. If recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable species or species group recreational ACL, as specified in this paragraph (a)(2)(ii), and the combined commercial and recreational landings have exceeded the applicable combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species groups for the recreational sector that year by the amount necessary to ensure that recreational landings do not exceed the applicable species or species group recreational ACL. If NMFS determines that either the applicable recreational ACL or total ACL for a particular species or species group was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in catch of the species or species group, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species group the following fishing year. The recreational ACLs, in round weight, are as follows: (A) Parrotfishes—15,263 lb (6,921 kg). (B) Snapper Unit 1—95,526 lb (43,330 kg). (C) Snapper Unit 2—34,810 lb (15,790 kg). (D) Snapper Unit 3—83,158 lb (37,720 kg). (E) Snapper Unit 4—28,509 lb (12,931 kg). (F) Groupers—77,213 lb (35,023 kg). (G) Angelfish—4,492 lb (2,038 kg). (H) Boxfish—4,616 lb (2,094 kg). PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 56919 (I) Goatfishes—362 lb (164 kg). (J) Grunts—5,028 lb (2,281 kg). (K) Wrasses—5,050 lb (2,291 kg). (L) Jacks—51,001 lb (23,134 kg). (M) Scups and porgies, combined— 2,577 lb (1,169 kg). (N) Squirrelfish—3,891 lb (1,765 kg). (O) Surgeonfish—3,590 lb (1,628 kg). (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined—21,929 lb (9,947 kg). (iii) Total ACLs. The total ACLs (combined commercial and recreational ACL), in round weight, are as follows: (A) Parrotfishes—68,000 lb (30,844 kg). (B) Snapper Unit 1—380,211 lb (172,461 kg). (C) Snapper Unit 2—180,726 lb (81,976 kg). (D) Snapper Unit 3—428,933 lb (194,561 kg). (E) Snapper Unit 4—401,804 lb (182,255 kg). (F) Groupers—254,726 lb (115,542 kg). (G) Angelfish—13,476 lb (6,113 kg). (H) Boxfish—90,731 lb (41,155 kg). (I) Goatfishes—17,927 lb (8,132 kg). (J) Grunts—187,424 lb (85,014 kg). (K) Wrasses—59,197 lb (26,851 kg). (L) Jacks—137,060 lb (62,169 kg). (M) Scups and porgies, combined— 27,316 lb (kg). (N) Squirrelfish—20,554 lb (9,323 kg). (O) Surgeonfish—10,769 lb (4,885 kg). (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined—80,404 lb (36,471 kg). (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for the Puerto Rico management area. If landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this paragraph (a)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for spiny lobster that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season the following fishing year. As described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (a)(3) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES 56920 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 327,920 lb (148,742 kg), round weight. (b) St. Croix management area. See appendix E of this part for specification of the St. Croix management area. (1) Queen conch. See § 622.491 regarding seasonal and area closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen conch. The ACL is 50,000 lb (22,680 kg), round weight. (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. With the exception of goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for the St. Croix management area. If landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL for a species or species group, as specified in this paragraph (b)(2), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species group that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the applicable ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL for a particular species or species group was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch of the species or species group, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species group the following fishing year. As described in the FMP, for each species or species group in this paragraph (b)(2), any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (b)(2) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, in round weight, are as follows: (i) Parrotfishes—240,000 lb (108,863 kg). (ii) Snappers—102,946 lb (46,696 kg). (iii) Groupers—30,435 lb (13,805 kg). (iv) Angelfish—305 lb (138 kg). (v) Boxfish—8,433 lb (3,825 kg). (vi) Goatfishes—3,766 lb (1,708 kg). (vii) Grunts—36,881 lb (16,729 kg). (viii) Wrasses—7 lb (3 kg). (ix) Jacks—15,489 lb (7,076 kg). (x) Scups and porgies, combined— 4,638 lb (2,104 kg). (xi) Squirrelfish—121 lb (55 kg). VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:57 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 (xii) Surgeonfish—33,603 lb (15,242 kg). (xiii) Triggerfish and filefish, combined—24,980 lb (11,331 kg). (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for the St. Croix management area. If landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this paragraph (b)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. As described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (b)(3) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 107,307 lb (48,674 kg), round weight. (c) St. Thomas/St. John management area. See appendix E of this part for specification of the St. Thomas/St. John management area. (1) Queen conch. See § 622.491 regarding seasonal and area closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen conch. The ACL is 0 lb (0 kg), round weight, for the EEZ only. (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. With the exception of goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for St. Thomas/St. John management area. If landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL for a species or species group, as specified in this paragraph (c)(2), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species group that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 exceed the applicable ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL for a particular species or species group was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch of the species or species group, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species group the following fishing year. As described in the FMP, for each species or species group in this paragraph (c)(2), any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (c)(2) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, in round weight, are as follows: (i) Parrotfishes—42,500 lb (19,278 kg). (ii) Snappers—133,775 lb (60,679 kg). (iii) Groupers—51,849 lb (23,518 kg). (iv) Angelfish—7,897 lb (3,582 kg). (v) Boxfish—27,880 lb (12,646 kg). (vi) Goatfishes—320 lb (145 kg). (vii) Grunts—37,617 lb (17,063 kg). (viii) Wrasses—585 lb (265 kg). (ix) Jacks—52,907 lb (23,998 kg). (x) Scups and porgies, combined— 21,819 lb (9,897 kg). (xi) Squirrelfish—4,241 lb (1,924 kg). (xii) Surgeonfish—29,249 lb (13,267 kg). (xiii) Triggerfish and filefish, combined—74,447 lb (33,769 kg). (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings for the St. Thomas/St. John management area. If landings, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this paragraph (c)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. As described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (c)(3) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations jstallworth on DSKBBY8HB2PROD with RULES September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 104,199 lb (47,264 kg), round weight. (d) Caribbean EEZ. Landings will be evaluated relative to the applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMPs. The ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings, throughout the Caribbean EEZ. If landings from the Caribbean EEZ for tilefish and aquarium trade species, as estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL, as specified in this paragraph (d), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species groups that year by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the applicable ACL. If NMFS determines the applicable ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. As described in the FMPs, for each species or species group in this paragraph (d), any fishing season reduction required as a result of this paragraph (d) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, in round weight, are as follows: (1) Tilefish—14,642 lb (6,641 kg). (2) Aquarium trade species—8,155 lb (3,699 kg). (e) Closure provisions—(1) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico closure. (i) Restrictions applicable VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:57 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 after a Puerto Rico commercial closure for reef fish species or species groups. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, the commercial sector for species or species groups included in the notification is closed and such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be purchased or sold. Harvest or possession of such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits unless the recreational sector for the species or species group is closed and the restrictions specified in paragraph (e)(1)(iii) of this section apply. (ii) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico recreational closure for reef fish species or species groups. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, the recreational sector for species or species groups included in the notification is closed and the recreational bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. If the seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for such species or species groups are closed, the restrictions specified in paragraph (e)(1)(iii) of this section apply. (iii) Restrictions applicable when both Puerto Rico commercial and Puerto Rico recreational sectors for reef fish species or species groups are closed. If the seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for a species or species group are closed, such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 56921 (iv) Restrictions applicable after a spiny lobster closure in Puerto Rico. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(3) of this section, both the commercial and recreational sectors are closed. Spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for spiny lobster in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. (2) Restrictions applicable after a St. Croix, St. Thomas/St. John, or Caribbean EEZ closure. During the closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph (b), (c), or (d) of this section, such species or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the Caribbean EEZ are zero. 3. In § 622.491, revise the first sentence of paragraph (b) to read as follows: ■ § 622.491 Seasonal and area closures. * * * * * (b) Pursuant to the procedures and criteria established in the FMP for Queen Conch Resources in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, when the ACL, as specified in § 622.12(b)(1), is reached or projected to be reached, the Regional Administrator will close the Caribbean EEZ to the harvest and possession of queen conch, in the area east of 64°34′ W. longitude which includes Lang Bank, east of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, by filing a notification of closure with the Office of the Federal Register. * * * [FR Doc. 2017–25847 Filed 11–30–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\01DER1.SGM 01DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 230 (Friday, December 1, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 56917-56921]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25847]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 170510477-7999-02]
RIN 0648-BG88


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Regulatory Amendment 6 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan of 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations to implement the measures described in 
Regulatory Amendment 6 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish 
Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (FMP), as 
prepared and submitted by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council 
(Council). This final rule revises the method used to trigger the 
application of accountability measures (AM) for Council-managed reef 
fish species or species groups in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off 
Puerto Rico. The purpose of this final rule is to increase the 
likelihood that optimum yield (OY) is achieved on a continuing basis 
and to minimize, to the extent practicable, adverse socio-economic 
effects of AM-based closures.

DATES: This final rule is effective January 2, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 6, which includes 
an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) 
analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/caribbean/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Stephenson, telephone: 727-824-
5305; email: sarah.stephenson@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the U.S. Caribbean EEZ, the reef fish 
fishery is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council 
and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    On September 19, 2017, NMFS published a proposed rule for 
Regulatory Amendment 6 and requested public comment (82 FR 43733). The 
proposed rule and Regulatory Amendment 6 outline the rationale for the 
actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management 
measures described in the Regulatory Amendment 6 and implemented by 
this final rule is provided below.
    The current AMs in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, applicable to Council-
managed reef fish species or species groups, require NMFS to reduce the 
length of the Federal fishing season in the fishing year following a 
determination that landings for a species or species group exceeded the 
applicable sector annual catch limit (ACL). As specified in the FMP, 
the landings determination is based on the applicable 3-year landings 
average. Currently, an AM-based closure is triggered and applied when 
the sector ACL is exceeded, even if the total ACL (i.e., combined 
commercial and recreational ACLs) for a species or species group is not 
exceeded. For all Council-managed reef fish species or species groups, 
the total ACL equals the annual estimate of OY and is set at a level 
that is considered to be sustainable for the species or species group. 
Therefore, the application of the current AM for Puerto Rico reef fish 
could translate into yield below the OY from the affected species or 
species group (if the sector ACL is exceeded, but the total ACL is 
not), potentially resulting in negative socio-economic impacts.
    Sector-specific data are not available for other federally-managed 
species in

[[Page 56918]]

the EEZ off Puerto Rico (e.g., queen conch, spiny lobster) or for other 
federally-managed species or species groups in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ, 
so those species and species groups are not included in Regulatory 
Amendment 6. Therefore, Regulatory Amendment 6 and this proposed rule 
apply only to federally-managed reef fish species and species groups in 
the EEZ off Puerto Rico.

Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule revises the trigger for implementing AM-based 
fishing season reductions for all reef fish species or species groups 
managed by the Council in the EEZ off Puerto Rico. Specifically, an AM-
based closure will be triggered only when both the applicable sector 
(recreational or commercial) ACL and the total ACL for a species or 
species group are exceeded. If both the sector ACL and the total ACL 
are exceeded, the AM will be applied to the sector or sectors that 
experienced the overage. The duration of any implemented AM-based 
closure will continue to be based on the extent to which the applicable 
sector ACL was exceeded and will be calculated and applied using the 
current practices and methods. However, consistent with the current 
regulations, if NMFS determines that either the sector or total ACL was 
exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts, 
instead of an increase in catch, NMFS will not reduce the length of the 
fishing season.
    This final rule to implement Regulatory Amendment 6 is expected to 
increase the likelihood that OY is achieved on a continuing basis and 
to minimize adverse socio-economic effects from the implementation of 
AMs, while still helping to ensure that AM-based closures constrain 
harvest to the total ACL and prevent overfishing. Modifying the AM 
trigger for a fishing season reduction, from an overage of the sector 
ACL to an overage of both the sector and the total ACL, increases the 
likelihood that OY for a species or species group will be achieved on a 
continuing basis. Additionally, the revision to the AM is likely to 
result in the AM being triggered less frequently and thereby result in 
fewer fishing season reductions. Sector fishing season reductions that 
are shorter in duration and that may occur less frequently are expected 
to result in increased socio-economic benefits to the applicable sector 
and the associated fishing communities. NMFS notes that the method for 
calculating the landings determination using the 3-year landings 
average for a species or species group will not change through this 
final rule.
    NMFS notes that in the codified text for this final rule, 
amendatory instruction 2 revises the entire Sec.  622.12. While this 
final rule only affects management in Puerto Rico Federal waters, the 
section as a whole is revised as a result of the action to more clearly 
and distinctly describe the AMs and ACLs throughout the U.S. Caribbean 
EEZ. This final rule also revises some regulatory citations within 
Sec. Sec.  622.12 and 622.491 to reflect changes made to the regulatory 
text as a result of this final rule.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received three total comments on the proposed rule. One 
comment expressed overall support for the amendment and the rule. One 
comment was not related to the action in the amendment or the proposed 
rule. The other comment, as well as NMFS' response, is summarized 
below.
    Comment 1: The AM closure trigger should not be revised to allow a 
given sector to stay open and continue fishing after it has reached its 
ACL as any harvest in excess of the sector ACL is not sustainable. 
Fishing within each sector must be sustainable to avoid negative 
economic impact.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Under the current application of AMs for 
Council-managed reef fish in Puerto Rico, yield may be below the OY for 
a species or species group over time. The Council developed Regulatory 
Amendment 6 as a means to increase the likelihood that OY for a species 
or species group will be achieved on a continuing basis while 
preventing overfishing, and, to the extent practicable, minimizing 
adverse socio-economic effects to fishers and fishing communities from 
the application of AMs. For all Council-managed reef fish species or 
species groups, the total ACL equals an annual estimate of OY and is 
set at a level that is considered to be sustainable for the species or 
species group. Therefore, the application of the current AM for Puerto 
Rico reef fish could translate into yield below the OY from the 
affected species or species group (if the sector ACL is exceeded, but 
the total ACL is not), potentially resulting in negative socio-economic 
impacts. Since sector-specific data is available for reef fish species 
or species groups in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, sector-specific ACLs were 
established, yet the overall health of the stocks continues to be 
managed in relation to the total ACL. Ensuring that the total ACL for a 
stock is not exceeded, even if there is a specific sector ACL overage, 
maintains the overall health of the stock and is also consistent with 
the use of AMs for reef fish throughout the rest of the Caribbean EEZ, 
where fishing is not managed by sectors. The AM trigger revision in 
this final rule increases the likelihood that OY for a species or 
species group will be achieved on a continuing basis without reducing 
the long-term sustainability of the resource.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined 
that this final rule is consistent with Regulatory Amendment 6, the 
FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or 
other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule.
    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 rule would not 
have a significant adverse economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published 
in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No changes to this final 
rule were made in response to public comments. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Accountability measures, Annual catch limits, Caribbean, Fisheries, 
Fishing, Puerto Rico.

    Dated: November 27, 2017.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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


0
2. Revise Sec.  622.12 to read as follows:

[[Page 56919]]

Sec.  622.12  Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs) for Caribbean island management areas/Caribbean EEZ.

    (a) Puerto Rico management area. See appendix E of this part for 
specification of the Puerto Rico management area.
    (1) Queen conch. See Sec.  622.491 regarding seasonal and area 
closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen 
conch.
    (i) Commercial ACL. For the EEZ only, 0 lb (0 kg), round weight.
    (ii) Recreational ACL. For the EEZ only, 0 lb (0 kg), round weight.
    (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the 
applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as 
described in the FMP. With the exceptions of goliath grouper, Nassau 
grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, 
ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings 
for the Puerto Rico management area. As described in the FMP, for each 
species or species group in this paragraph (a)(2), any fishing season 
reduction required under paragraph (a)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section 
will be applied from September 30 backward, toward the beginning of the 
fishing year. If the length of the required fishing season reduction 
exceeds the time period of January 1 through September 30, any 
additional fishing season reduction will be applied from October 1 
forward, toward the end of the fishing year.
    (i) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated by the 
SRD, have exceeded the applicable species or species group commercial 
ACL, as specified in this paragraph (a)(2)(i), and the combined 
commercial and recreational landings have exceeded the applicable 
combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), as 
specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the 
fishing season for the applicable species or species groups for the 
commercial sector that year by the amount necessary to ensure that 
commercial landings do not exceed the applicable commercial ACL for the 
species or species group. If NMFS determines that either the applicable 
commercial ACL or total ACL for a particular species or species group 
was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts 
instead of an increase in catch of the species or species group, NMFS 
will not reduce the length of the commercial fishing season for the 
applicable species or species group the following fishing year. The 
commercial ACLs, in round weight, are as follows:
    (A) Parrotfishes--52,737 lb (23,915 kg).
    (B) Snapper Unit 1--284,685 lb (129,131 kg).
    (C) Snapper Unit 2--145,916 lb (66,186 kg).
    (D) Snapper Unit 3--345,775 lb (156,841 kg).
    (E) Snapper Unit 4--373,295 lb (169,324 kg).
    (F) Groupers--177,513 lb (80,519 kg).
    (G) Angelfish--8,984 lb (4,075 kg).
    (H) Boxfish--86,115 lb (39,061 kg).
    (I) Goatfishes--17,565 lb (7,967 kg).
    (J) Grunts--182,396 lb (82,733 kg).
    (K) Wrasses--54,147 lb (24,561 kg).
    (L) Jacks--86,059 lb (39,036 kg).
    (M) Scups and porgies, combined--24,739 lb (11,221 kg).
    (N) Squirrelfish--16,663 lb (7,558 kg).
    (O) Surgeonfish--7,179 lb (3,256 kg).
    (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined--58,475 lb (26,524 kg).
    (ii) Recreational sector. If recreational landings, as estimated by 
the SRD, have exceeded the applicable species or species group 
recreational ACL, as specified in this paragraph (a)(2)(ii), and the 
combined commercial and recreational landings have exceeded the 
applicable combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL), 
as specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file 
a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the 
fishing season for the applicable species or species groups for the 
recreational sector that year by the amount necessary to ensure that 
recreational landings do not exceed the applicable species or species 
group recreational ACL. If NMFS determines that either the applicable 
recreational ACL or total ACL for a particular species or species group 
was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts 
instead of an increase in catch of the species or species group, NMFS 
will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable 
species or species group the following fishing year. The recreational 
ACLs, in round weight, are as follows:
    (A) Parrotfishes--15,263 lb (6,921 kg).
    (B) Snapper Unit 1--95,526 lb (43,330 kg).
    (C) Snapper Unit 2--34,810 lb (15,790 kg).
    (D) Snapper Unit 3--83,158 lb (37,720 kg).
    (E) Snapper Unit 4--28,509 lb (12,931 kg).
    (F) Groupers--77,213 lb (35,023 kg).
    (G) Angelfish--4,492 lb (2,038 kg).
    (H) Boxfish--4,616 lb (2,094 kg).
    (I) Goatfishes--362 lb (164 kg).
    (J) Grunts--5,028 lb (2,281 kg).
    (K) Wrasses--5,050 lb (2,291 kg).
    (L) Jacks--51,001 lb (23,134 kg).
    (M) Scups and porgies, combined--2,577 lb (1,169 kg).
    (N) Squirrelfish--3,891 lb (1,765 kg).
    (O) Surgeonfish--3,590 lb (1,628 kg).
    (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined--21,929 lb (9,947 kg).
    (iii) Total ACLs. The total ACLs (combined commercial and 
recreational ACL), in round weight, are as follows:
    (A) Parrotfishes--68,000 lb (30,844 kg).
    (B) Snapper Unit 1--380,211 lb (172,461 kg).
    (C) Snapper Unit 2--180,726 lb (81,976 kg).
    (D) Snapper Unit 3--428,933 lb (194,561 kg).
    (E) Snapper Unit 4--401,804 lb (182,255 kg).
    (F) Groupers--254,726 lb (115,542 kg).
    (G) Angelfish--13,476 lb (6,113 kg).
    (H) Boxfish--90,731 lb (41,155 kg).
    (I) Goatfishes--17,927 lb (8,132 kg).
    (J) Grunts--187,424 lb (85,014 kg).
    (K) Wrasses--59,197 lb (26,851 kg).
    (L) Jacks--137,060 lb (62,169 kg).
    (M) Scups and porgies, combined--27,316 lb (kg).
    (N) Squirrelfish--20,554 lb (9,323 kg).
    (O) Surgeonfish--10,769 lb (4,885 kg).
    (P) Triggerfish and filefish, combined--80,404 lb (36,471 kg).
    (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial 
landings for the Puerto Rico management area. If landings, as estimated 
by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this paragraph 
(a)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal 
Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to 
reduce the length of the fishing season for spiny lobster that year by 
the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS 
determines the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and 
monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not 
reduce the length of the fishing season the following fishing year. As 
described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a result 
of this paragraph (a)(3) will be applied from September 30 backward, 
toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required 
fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through 
September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October

[[Page 56920]]

1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 327,920 lb 
(148,742 kg), round weight.
    (b) St. Croix management area. See appendix E of this part for 
specification of the St. Croix management area.
    (1) Queen conch. See Sec.  622.491 regarding seasonal and area 
closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen 
conch. The ACL is 50,000 lb (22,680 kg), round weight.
    (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the 
applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as 
described in the FMP. With the exception of goliath grouper, Nassau 
grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, 
ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings 
for the St. Croix management area. If landings, as estimated by the 
SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL for a species or species group, 
as specified in this paragraph (b)(2), the AA will file a notification 
with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of 
the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the fishing season 
for the applicable species or species group that year by the amount 
necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the applicable ACL. If NMFS 
determines the ACL for a particular species or species group was 
exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts 
instead of an increase in total catch of the species or species group, 
NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the 
applicable species or species group the following fishing year. As 
described in the FMP, for each species or species group in this 
paragraph (b)(2), any fishing season reduction required as a result of 
this paragraph (b)(2) will be applied from September 30 backward, 
toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required 
fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through 
September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, 
in round weight, are as follows:
    (i) Parrotfishes--240,000 lb (108,863 kg).
    (ii) Snappers--102,946 lb (46,696 kg).
    (iii) Groupers--30,435 lb (13,805 kg).
    (iv) Angelfish--305 lb (138 kg).
    (v) Boxfish--8,433 lb (3,825 kg).
    (vi) Goatfishes--3,766 lb (1,708 kg).
    (vii) Grunts--36,881 lb (16,729 kg).
    (viii) Wrasses--7 lb (3 kg).
    (ix) Jacks--15,489 lb (7,076 kg).
    (x) Scups and porgies, combined--4,638 lb (2,104 kg).
    (xi) Squirrelfish--121 lb (55 kg).
    (xii) Surgeonfish--33,603 lb (15,242 kg).
    (xiii) Triggerfish and filefish, combined--24,980 lb (11,331 kg).
    (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial 
landings for the St. Croix management area. If landings, as estimated 
by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this paragraph 
(b)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal 
Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year, to 
reduce the length of the fishing season that year by the amount 
necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS determines 
the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring 
efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not reduce the 
length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. As 
described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a result 
of this paragraph (b)(3) will be applied from September 30 backward, 
toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required 
fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through 
September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 
107,307 lb (48,674 kg), round weight.
    (c) St. Thomas/St. John management area. See appendix E of this 
part for specification of the St. Thomas/St. John management area.
    (1) Queen conch. See Sec.  622.491 regarding seasonal and area 
closure provisions and ACL closure provisions applicable to queen 
conch. The ACL is 0 lb (0 kg), round weight, for the EEZ only.
    (2) Reef fish. Landings will be evaluated relative to the 
applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as 
described in the FMP. With the exception of goliath grouper, Nassau 
grouper, midnight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, and rainbow parrotfish, 
ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial landings 
for St. Thomas/St. John management area. If landings, as estimated by 
the SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL for a species or species 
group, as specified in this paragraph (c)(2), the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year, to reduce the length of the 
fishing season for the applicable species or species group that year by 
the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the applicable 
ACL. If NMFS determines the ACL for a particular species or species 
group was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and monitoring 
efforts instead of an increase in total catch of the species or species 
group, NMFS will not reduce the length of the fishing season for the 
applicable species or species group the following fishing year. As 
described in the FMP, for each species or species group in this 
paragraph (c)(2), any fishing season reduction required as a result of 
this paragraph (c)(2) will be applied from September 30 backward, 
toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required 
fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through 
September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, 
in round weight, are as follows:
    (i) Parrotfishes--42,500 lb (19,278 kg).
    (ii) Snappers--133,775 lb (60,679 kg).
    (iii) Groupers--51,849 lb (23,518 kg).
    (iv) Angelfish--7,897 lb (3,582 kg).
    (v) Boxfish--27,880 lb (12,646 kg).
    (vi) Goatfishes--320 lb (145 kg).
    (vii) Grunts--37,617 lb (17,063 kg).
    (viii) Wrasses--585 lb (265 kg).
    (ix) Jacks--52,907 lb (23,998 kg).
    (x) Scups and porgies, combined--21,819 lb (9,897 kg).
    (xi) Squirrelfish--4,241 lb (1,924 kg).
    (xii) Surgeonfish--29,249 lb (13,267 kg).
    (xiii) Triggerfish and filefish, combined--74,447 lb (33,769 kg).
    (3) Spiny lobster. Landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP. The ACL is based on the combined Caribbean EEZ and territorial 
landings for the St. Thomas/St. John management area. If landings, as 
estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the ACL, as specified in this 
paragraph (c)(3), the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year, to reduce the length of the fishing season that year by the 
amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the ACL. If NMFS 
determines the ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and 
monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not 
reduce the length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. 
As described in the FMP, any fishing season reduction required as a 
result of this paragraph (c)(3) will be applied from September 30 
backward, toward the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of 
the required fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of 
January 1 through

[[Page 56921]]

September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACL is 
104,199 lb (47,264 kg), round weight.
    (d) Caribbean EEZ. Landings will be evaluated relative to the 
applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as 
described in the FMPs. The ACLs are based on the combined Caribbean EEZ 
and territorial landings, throughout the Caribbean EEZ. If landings 
from the Caribbean EEZ for tilefish and aquarium trade species, as 
estimated by the SRD, have exceeded the applicable ACL, as specified in 
this paragraph (d), the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year, to reduce the length of the fishing season for the applicable 
species or species groups that year by the amount necessary to ensure 
landings do not exceed the applicable ACL. If NMFS determines the 
applicable ACL was exceeded because of enhanced data collection and 
monitoring efforts instead of an increase in total catch, NMFS will not 
reduce the length of the fishing season for the following fishing year. 
As described in the FMPs, for each species or species group in this 
paragraph (d), any fishing season reduction required as a result of 
this paragraph (d) will be applied from September 30 backward, toward 
the beginning of the fishing year. If the length of the required 
fishing season reduction exceeds the time period of January 1 through 
September 30, any additional fishing season reduction will be applied 
from October 1 forward, toward the end of the fishing year. The ACLs, 
in round weight, are as follows:
    (1) Tilefish--14,642 lb (6,641 kg).
    (2) Aquarium trade species--8,155 lb (3,699 kg).
    (e) Closure provisions--(1) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto 
Rico closure. (i) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico 
commercial closure for reef fish species or species groups. During the 
closure period announced in the notification filed pursuant to 
paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, the commercial sector for species 
or species groups included in the notification is closed and such 
species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area 
may not be purchased or sold. Harvest or possession of such species or 
species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area is limited to 
the recreational bag and possession limits unless the recreational 
sector for the species or species group is closed and the restrictions 
specified in paragraph (e)(1)(iii) of this section apply.
    (ii) Restrictions applicable after a Puerto Rico recreational 
closure for reef fish species or species groups. During the closure 
period announced in the notification filed pursuant to paragraph 
(a)(2)(ii) of this section, the recreational sector for species or 
species groups included in the notification is closed and the 
recreational bag and possession limits for such species or species 
groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area are zero. If the 
seasons for both the commercial and recreational sectors for such 
species or species groups are closed, the restrictions specified in 
paragraph (e)(1)(iii) of this section apply.
    (iii) Restrictions applicable when both Puerto Rico commercial and 
Puerto Rico recreational sectors for reef fish species or species 
groups are closed. If the seasons for both the commercial and 
recreational sectors for a species or species group are closed, such 
species or species groups in or from the Puerto Rico management area 
may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, or sold, and the bag and 
possession limits for such species or species groups in or from the 
Puerto Rico management area are zero.
    (iv) Restrictions applicable after a spiny lobster closure in 
Puerto Rico. During the closure period announced in the notification 
filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(3) of this section, both the commercial 
and recreational sectors are closed. Spiny lobster in or from the 
Puerto Rico management area may not be harvested, possessed, purchased, 
or sold, and the bag and possession limits for spiny lobster in or from 
the Puerto Rico management area are zero.
    (2) Restrictions applicable after a St. Croix, St. Thomas/St. John, 
or Caribbean EEZ closure. During the closure period announced in the 
notification filed pursuant to paragraph (b), (c), or (d) of this 
section, such species or species groups in or from the applicable 
management area of the Caribbean EEZ may not be harvested, possessed, 
purchased, or sold, and the bag and possession limits for such species 
or species groups in or from the applicable management area of the 
Caribbean EEZ are zero.

0
3. In Sec.  622.491, revise the first sentence of paragraph (b) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  622.491  Seasonal and area closures.

* * * * *
    (b) Pursuant to the procedures and criteria established in the FMP 
for Queen Conch Resources in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 
when the ACL, as specified in Sec.  622.12(b)(1), is reached or 
projected to be reached, the Regional Administrator will close the 
Caribbean EEZ to the harvest and possession of queen conch, in the area 
east of 64[deg]34' W. longitude which includes Lang Bank, east of St. 
Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, by filing a notification of closure with 
the Office of the Federal Register. * * *

[FR Doc. 2017-25847 Filed 11-30-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P