Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery; Proposed 2018-2020 Fishing Quotas, 58164-58166 [2017-26577]

Download as PDF 58164 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 236 / Monday, December 11, 2017 / Proposed Rules h. These totals simply sum the criteria in each column. For aquatic life, there are 23 priority toxic pollutants with some type of freshwater or saltwater, acute or chronic criteria. For human health, there are 92 priority toxic pollutants with either ‘‘water + organism’’ or ‘‘organism only’’ criteria. Note that these totals count chromium as one pollutant even though EPA has developed criteria based on two valence states. In the matrix, EPA has assigned numbers 5a and 5b to the criteria for chromium to reflect the fact that the list of 126 priority pollutants includes only a single listing for chromium. i. Criteria for these metals are expressed as a function of the water-effect ratio, WER, as defined in paragraph (c) of this section. CMC = column B1 or C1 value × WER; CCC = column B2 or C2 value × WER. j. No criterion for protection of human health from consumption of aquatic organisms (excluding water) was presented in the 1980 criteria document or in the 1986 Quality Criteria for Water. Nevertheless, sufficient information was presented in the 1980 document to allow a calculation of a criterion, even though the results of such a calculation were not shown in the document. k. The CWA 304(a) criterion for asbestos is the MCL. l. [Reserved] m. These freshwater and saltwater criteria for metals are expressed in terms of the dissolved fraction of the metal in the water column. Criterion values were calculated by using EPA’s Clean Water Act 304(a) guidance values (described in the total recoverable fraction) and then applying the conversion factors in § 131.36(b)(1) and (2). n. EPA is not promulgating human health criteria for these contaminants. However, permit authorities should address these contaminants in NPDES permit actions using the State’s existing narrative criteria for toxics. o. These criteria were promulgated for specific waters in California in the National Toxics Rule (‘‘NTR’’), at § 131.36. The specific waters to which the NTR criteria apply include: Waters of the State defined as bays or estuaries and waters of the State defined as inland, i.e., all surface waters of the State not ocean waters. These waters specifically include the San Francisco Bay upstream to and including Suisun Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This section does not apply instead of the NTR for this criterion. p. A criterion of 20 ug/l was promulgated for specific waters in California in the NTR and was promulgated in the total recoverable form. The specific waters to which the NTR criterion applies include: Waters of the San Francisco Bay upstream to and including Suisun Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and waters of Salt Slough, Mud Slough (north) and the San Joaquin River, Sack Dam to the mouth of the Merced River. This section does not apply instead of the NTR for this criterion. The State of California adopted and EPA approved a site specific criterion for the San Joaquin River, mouth of Merced to Vernalis; therefore, this section does not apply to these waters. q. This criterion is expressed in the total recoverable form. This criterion was promulgated for specific waters in California in the NTR and was promulgated in the total recoverable form. The specific waters to which the NTR criterion applies include: Waters of the San Francisco Bay upstream to and including Suisun Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and waters of Salt Slough, Mud Slough (north) and the San Joaquin River, Sack Dam to Vernalis. This criterion does not apply instead of the NTR for these waters. This criterion applies to additional waters of the United States in the State of California pursuant to 40 CFR 131.38(c). The State of California adopted and EPA approved a site-specific criterion for the Grassland Water District, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, and the Los Banos State Wildlife Refuge; therefore, this criterion does not apply to these waters. r. These criteria were promulgated for specific waters in California in the NTR. The specific waters to which the NTR criteria apply include: Waters of the State defined as bays or estuaries including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta within California Regional Water Board 5, but excluding the San Francisco Bay. This section does not apply instead of the NTR for these criteria. s. These criteria were promulgated for specific waters in California in the NTR. The specific waters to which the NTR criteria apply include: Waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and waters of the State defined as inland (i.e., all surface waters of the State not bays or estuaries or ocean) that include a MUN use designation. This section does not apply instead of the NTR for these criteria. t. These criteria were promulgated for specific waters in California in the NTR. The specific waters to which the NTR criteria apply include: Waters of the State defined as bays and estuaries including San Francisco Bay upstream to and including Suisun Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and waters of the State defined as inland (i.e., all surface waters of the State not bays or estuaries or ocean) without a MUN use designation. This section does not apply instead of the NTR for these criteria. u. PCBs are a class of chemicals which include aroclors 1242, 1254, 1221, 1232, 1248, 1260, and 1016, CAS numbers 53469219, 11097691, 11104282, 11141165, 12672296, 11096825, and 12674112, respectively. The aquatic life criteria apply to the sum of this set of seven aroclors. v. This criterion applies to total PCBs, e.g., the sum of all congener or isomer or homolog or aroclor analyses. w. This criterion has been recalculated pursuant to the 1995 Updates: Water Quality Criteria Documents for the Protection of Aquatic Life in Ambient Water, Office of Water, EPA–820–B–96–001, September 1996. See also Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative Criteria Documents for the Protection of Aquatic Life in Ambient Water, Office of Water, EPA–80–B–95–004, March 1995. x. The State of California has adopted and EPA has approved site-specific criteria for the Sacramento River (and tributaries) above Hamilton City; therefore, these criteria do not apply to these waters. y. The State of California adopted and EPA approved a site-specific criterion for New Alamo Creek from Old Alamo Creek to Ulatis Creek and for Ulatis Creek from Alamo Creek to Cache Slough; therefore, this criterion does not apply to these waters. z. The State of California adopted and EPA approved a site-specific criterion for the Los Angeles River and its tributaries; therefore, this criterion does not apply to these waters. General Notes to Table in Paragraph (b)(1) 1. The table in this paragraph (b)(1) lists all of EPA’s priority toxic pollutants whether or not criteria guidance are available. Blank spaces indicate the absence of national section 304(a) criteria guidance. Because of variations in chemical nomenclature systems, this listing of toxic pollutants does not duplicate the listing in appendix A to 40 CFR part 423–126 Priority Pollutants. EPA has added the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) registry numbers, which provide a unique identification for each chemical. 2. The following chemicals have organoleptic-based criteria recommendations that are not included on this chart: zinc, 3-methyl-4-chlorophenol. 3. Freshwater and saltwater aquatic life criteria apply as specified in paragraph (c)(3) of this section. * * * * * Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: [FR Doc. 2017–25706 Filed 12–8–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 170818784–7784–01] daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS RIN 0648–XF641 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery; Proposed 2018–2020 Fishing Quotas National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Dec 08, 2017 NMFS proposes status quo commercial quotas for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries for 2018 and projected status quo quotas for 2019 and 2020. This action is necessary to establish allowable harvest levels of Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs that will prevent overfishing and allow harvesting of optimum yield. This action would also continue to suspend the minimum shell size for Atlantic surfclams for the 2018 fishing year. The intended effect of this action is to provide benefit to the industry from stable quotas to maintain a consistent market. SUMMARY: Jkt 244001 Comments must be received by December 26, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2017–0118, by any of the following methods: DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope: ‘‘Comments on the 2018–2020 Surflcam/Ocean Quahog Specifications.’’ Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted to www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) E:\FR\FM\11DEP1.SGM 11DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 236 / Monday, December 11, 2017 / Proposed Rules voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publically accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Copies of the Environmental Assessment (EA), Supplemental Information Request (SIR), and other supporting documents for these proposed specifications are available from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Wilkinson, Fishery Management Specialist, 301–427–8561. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan (FMP) requires that NMFS, in consultation with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, specify quotas for surfclam and ocean quahog for up to a three-year period, with annual review. It is the policy of the Council that the catch limit selected allow for sustainable fishing to continue at that level for at least 10 years for surfclams, and 30 years for ocean quahogs. In addition to this, the Council policy also considers the economic impact of the quotas. Regulations implementing Amendment 10 to the FMP (63 FR 27481; May 19, 1998) added Maine ocean quahogs (locally known as Maine mahogany quahogs) to the management unit and provided for a small artisanal fishery for ocean quahogs in the waters north of 43°50′ N. lat, with an annual quota within a range of 17,000 to 100,000 Maine bu (0.6 to 3.52 million L). As specified in Amendment 10, the Maine ocean quahog quota is allocated separately from the quota specified for the ocean quahog fishery. Regulations implementing Amendment 13 to the FMP (68 FR 69970; December 16, 2003) established the authority to propose multi-year quotas with an annual quota review to be conducted by the Council to determine if the multi-year quota specifications remain appropriate for each year. NMFS then publishes the annual final quotas in the Federal Register. The fishing quotas must ensure overfishing will not occur. In recommending these quotas, the Council considered the most recent 58165 stock assessments and other relevant scientific information. In June 2017, the Council voted to recommend maintaining for 2018–2020 the status quo quota levels of 5.33 million bu (288 million L) for the ocean quahog fishery, 3.40 million bu (181 million L) for the Atlantic surfclam fishery, and 100,000 Maine bu (3.52 million L) for the Maine ocean quahog fishery. We propose to implement the Council’s recommended specifications for 2018 and project that the Council’s recommended specifications for 2019 and 2020 will be implemented in those years. Because the Council will review available information in the interim years and adjustments to quotas may occur to account for annual catch limit (ACL) overages, the 2019 and 2020 quotas proposed are considered the projected specifications. We will provide notice in the Federal Register before the 2019 and 2020 fishing years announcing the final quotas being implemented. Tables 1 and 2 show proposed and projected quotas for the 2018–2020 Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fishery. TABLE 1—PROPOSED ATLANTIC SURFCLAM MEASURES Atlantic surfclam Allowable biological catch (ABC) (mt) Year 2017 (current) ............. 2018 ............................ 2019–2020 (Projected) Annual catch limit (ACL) (mt) 44,469 29,363 29,363 Annual catch target (ACT) (mt) 44,469 29,363 29,363 Commercial quota 29,364 29,363 29,363 3.4 million bushels (181 million L). 3.4 million bushels (181 million L). 3.4 million bushels (181 million L). TABLE 2—PROPOSED OCEAN QUAHOG MEASURES Ocean quahog ABC (mt) Year ACL (mt) ACT (mt) Commercial quota 26,100 26,100 26,035 2018 ............................ 44,695 44,695 25,924 2019 (Projected) ......... 46,146 46,146 25,924 2020 (Projected) ......... daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 2017 (current) ............. 45,783 45,783 25,924 The Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog quotas are specified in ‘‘industry’’ bushels of 1.88 ft3 (53.24 L) per bushel, while the Maine ocean quahog quota is specified in Maine bushels of 1.24 ft3 (35.24 L) per bushel. Because Maine ocean quahogs are the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Dec 08, 2017 Jkt 244001 Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu 5.33 million bu (288 million L). Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu 5.33 million bu (288 million L). Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu 5.33 million bu (288 million L). Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu 5.33 million bu (288 million L). same species as ocean quahogs, both fisheries are assessed under the same overfishing definition. When the two quota amounts (ocean quahog and Maine ocean quahog) are added, the total allowable harvest is below the level that would result in overfishing for PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (3.52 million L) Non-Maine quota: (3.52 million L) Non-Maine quota: (3.52 million L) Non-Maine quota: (3.52 million L) Non-Maine quota: the entire stock. The 2018–2020 quotas are nearly identical (within 100 mt) to those implemented in the 2014–2016 specifications, which were carried over for 2017. E:\FR\FM\11DEP1.SGM 11DEP1 58166 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 236 / Monday, December 11, 2017 / Proposed Rules Surfclam The proposed 2018–2020 status quo surfclam quota was developed in June 2017 after reviewing the results of the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) 61 for Atlantic surfclam. The surfclam quota recommendation is consistent with the SAW 61 finding that the Atlantic surfclam stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. Based on this information, the Council is recommending, and NMFS is proposing, to maintain the status quo surfclam quota of 3.40 million bu (181 million L) for 2018–2020 (see table 1). Ocean Quahog Consistent with the Council recommendation, we are proposing the following for ocean quahog. The proposed 2018–2020 non-Maine quota for ocean quahog is the status quo quota of 5.33 million bu (288 million L). The 2018–2020 proposed quota for Maine ocean quahogs is the status quo level of 100,000 Maine bu (3.52 million L). The proposed quota represents the maximum allowable quota under the FMP. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Surfclam Minimum Size In June 2017, the Council voted to recommend that the minimum size limit for surfclams continue to be suspended for 2018. The minimum size limit has been suspended annually since 2005. Minimum size suspension may not be taken unless discard, catch, and biological sampling data indicate that 30 percent or more of the Atlantic surfclam resource have a shell length less than 4.75 inches (120 mm), and the overall reduced size is not attributable to harvest from beds where growth of the individual clams has been reduced because of density-dependent factors. Commercial surfclam data for 2017 were analyzed to determine the percentage of surfclams that were smaller than the minimum size requirement. The analysis indicated that 10.4 percent of the overall commercial VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Dec 08, 2017 Jkt 244001 landings, to date, were composed of surfclams that were less than the 4.75inch (120-mm) default minimum size. Based on the information available, the Regional Administrator concurs with the Council’s recommendation, and is proposing to suspend the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams in the upcoming fishing year (January 1 through December 31, 2018). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules. This proposed rule is exempt from the requirements of E.O. 12866. This proposed rule is not expected to be an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because this proposed rule is not significant under E.O. 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows: For Regulatory Flexibility Analysis purposes only, NMFS has established a uniform size standard for small businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 combined annual receipts of less than $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. In 2016, 349 fishing firms held at least one surfclam or ocean quahog permit. Using the $11 million cutoff for firms, there are 341 entities that are small and 8 that are large. In order to provide a more accurate count and description of the small directly regulated entities, landings data were evaluated to select only firms that were active in either the surfclam or the ocean quahog fishery. There are 24 active fishing firms, of which 22 are small entities and 2 are large entities. Because the proposed quotas are status quo, the action would have no impacts on the way the fishery operates. These measures are expected to provide similar fishing opportunities in 2018– 2020 when compared to earlier years. As such, revenue changes are not expected in 2018–2020 when compared to landings and revenues in 2017. Therefore, adoption of the proposed specifications are not expected to have impacts on entities participating in the fishery if landings are similar to those that occurred in 2017. Maintaining the suspension of the surfclam minimum shell length requirement would result in no change when compared to 2014–2016. The minimum shell length requirement has been suspended each year since 2005. The proposed action would have no impact on the way the fishery operates, and is not expected to disproportionately affect small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 6, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Progams, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–26577 Filed 12–8–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\11DEP1.SGM 11DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 236 (Monday, December 11, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 58164-58166]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-26577]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 170818784-7784-01]
RIN 0648-XF641


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Surfclam 
and Ocean Quahog Fishery; Proposed 2018-2020 Fishing Quotas

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes status quo commercial quotas for the Atlantic 
surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries for 2018 and projected status quo 
quotas for 2019 and 2020. This action is necessary to establish 
allowable harvest levels of Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs that 
will prevent overfishing and allow harvesting of optimum yield. This 
action would also continue to suspend the minimum shell size for 
Atlantic surfclams for the 2018 fishing year. The intended effect of 
this action is to provide benefit to the industry from stable quotas to 
maintain a consistent market.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 26, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0118, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov, 
click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and 
enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to John K. Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 
Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the 
envelope: ``Comments on the 2018-2020 Surflcam/Ocean Quahog 
Specifications.''
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the 
public record and will generally be posted to www.regulations.gov 
without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, 
name, address, etc.)

[[Page 58165]]

voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publically accessible. Do 
not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or 
protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/
A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). 
Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, 
Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Copies of the Environmental Assessment (EA), Supplemental 
Information Request (SIR), and other supporting documents for these 
proposed specifications are available from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Wilkinson, Fishery Management 
Specialist, 301-427-8561.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  The Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) requires that NMFS, in consultation with 
the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, specify quotas for 
surfclam and ocean quahog for up to a three-year period, with annual 
review. It is the policy of the Council that the catch limit selected 
allow for sustainable fishing to continue at that level for at least 10 
years for surfclams, and 30 years for ocean quahogs. In addition to 
this, the Council policy also considers the economic impact of the 
quotas. Regulations implementing Amendment 10 to the FMP (63 FR 27481; 
May 19, 1998) added Maine ocean quahogs (locally known as Maine 
mahogany quahogs) to the management unit and provided for a small 
artisanal fishery for ocean quahogs in the waters north of 43[deg]50' 
N. lat, with an annual quota within a range of 17,000 to 100,000 Maine 
bu (0.6 to 3.52 million L). As specified in Amendment 10, the Maine 
ocean quahog quota is allocated separately from the quota specified for 
the ocean quahog fishery. Regulations implementing Amendment 13 to the 
FMP (68 FR 69970; December 16, 2003) established the authority to 
propose multi-year quotas with an annual quota review to be conducted 
by the Council to determine if the multi-year quota specifications 
remain appropriate for each year. NMFS then publishes the annual final 
quotas in the Federal Register. The fishing quotas must ensure 
overfishing will not occur. In recommending these quotas, the Council 
considered the most recent stock assessments and other relevant 
scientific information.
    In June 2017, the Council voted to recommend maintaining for 2018-
2020 the status quo quota levels of 5.33 million bu (288 million L) for 
the ocean quahog fishery, 3.40 million bu (181 million L) for the 
Atlantic surfclam fishery, and 100,000 Maine bu (3.52 million L) for 
the Maine ocean quahog fishery.
    We propose to implement the Council's recommended specifications 
for 2018 and project that the Council's recommended specifications for 
2019 and 2020 will be implemented in those years. Because the Council 
will review available information in the interim years and adjustments 
to quotas may occur to account for annual catch limit (ACL) overages, 
the 2019 and 2020 quotas proposed are considered the projected 
specifications. We will provide notice in the Federal Register before 
the 2019 and 2020 fishing years announcing the final quotas being 
implemented.
    Tables 1 and 2 show proposed and projected quotas for the 2018-2020 
Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fishery.

                                  Table 1--Proposed Atlantic Surfclam Measures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Atlantic surfclam
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Allowable
                                  biological     Annual catch    Annual catch
             Year                 catch (ABC)     limit (ACL)    target (ACT)           Commercial quota
                                     (mt)            (mt)            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2017 (current)................          44,469          44,469          29,364  3.4 million bushels (181 million
                                                                                 L).
2018..........................          29,363          29,363          29,363  3.4 million bushels (181 million
                                                                                 L).
2019-2020 (Projected).........          29,363          29,363          29,363  3.4 million bushels (181 million
                                                                                 L).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                     Table 2--Proposed Ocean Quahog Measures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ocean quahog
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Year                  ABC (mt)        ACL (mt)        ACT (mt)             Commercial quota
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2017 (current)................          26,100          26,100          26,035  Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu
                                                                                 (3.52 million L) Non-Maine
                                                                                 quota: 5.33 million bu (288
                                                                                 million L).
2018..........................          44,695          44,695          25,924  Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu
                                                                                 (3.52 million L) Non-Maine
                                                                                 quota: 5.33 million bu (288
                                                                                 million L).
2019 (Projected)..............          46,146          46,146          25,924  Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu
                                                                                 (3.52 million L) Non-Maine
                                                                                 quota: 5.33 million bu (288
                                                                                 million L).
2020 (Projected)..............          45,783          45,783          25,924  Maine quota: 100,000 Maine bu
                                                                                 (3.52 million L) Non-Maine
                                                                                 quota: 5.33 million bu (288
                                                                                 million L).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog quotas are specified in 
``industry'' bushels of 1.88 ft\3\ (53.24 L) per bushel, while the 
Maine ocean quahog quota is specified in Maine bushels of 1.24 ft\3\ 
(35.24 L) per bushel. Because Maine ocean quahogs are the same species 
as ocean quahogs, both fisheries are assessed under the same 
overfishing definition. When the two quota amounts (ocean quahog and 
Maine ocean quahog) are added, the total allowable harvest is below the 
level that would result in overfishing for the entire stock. The 2018-
2020 quotas are nearly identical (within 100 mt) to those implemented 
in the 2014-2016 specifications, which were carried over for 2017.

[[Page 58166]]

Surfclam

    The proposed 2018-2020 status quo surfclam quota was developed in 
June 2017 after reviewing the results of the Northeast Regional Stock 
Assessment Workshop (SAW) 61 for Atlantic surfclam. The surfclam quota 
recommendation is consistent with the SAW 61 finding that the Atlantic 
surfclam stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. 
Based on this information, the Council is recommending, and NMFS is 
proposing, to maintain the status quo surfclam quota of 3.40 million bu 
(181 million L) for 2018-2020 (see table 1).

Ocean Quahog

    Consistent with the Council recommendation, we are proposing the 
following for ocean quahog. The proposed 2018-2020 non-Maine quota for 
ocean quahog is the status quo quota of 5.33 million bu (288 million 
L).
    The 2018-2020 proposed quota for Maine ocean quahogs is the status 
quo level of 100,000 Maine bu (3.52 million L). The proposed quota 
represents the maximum allowable quota under the FMP.

Surfclam Minimum Size

    In June 2017, the Council voted to recommend that the minimum size 
limit for surfclams continue to be suspended for 2018. The minimum size 
limit has been suspended annually since 2005. Minimum size suspension 
may not be taken unless discard, catch, and biological sampling data 
indicate that 30 percent or more of the Atlantic surfclam resource have 
a shell length less than 4.75 inches (120 mm), and the overall reduced 
size is not attributable to harvest from beds where growth of the 
individual clams has been reduced because of density-dependent factors.
    Commercial surfclam data for 2017 were analyzed to determine the 
percentage of surfclams that were smaller than the minimum size 
requirement. The analysis indicated that 10.4 percent of the overall 
commercial landings, to date, were composed of surfclams that were less 
than the 4.75-inch (120-mm) default minimum size. Based on the 
information available, the Regional Administrator concurs with the 
Council's recommendation, and is proposing to suspend the minimum size 
limit for Atlantic surfclams in the upcoming fishing year (January 1 
through December 31, 2018).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that this 
proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog 
FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
law, subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules.
    This proposed rule is exempt from the requirements of E.O. 12866.
    This proposed rule is not expected to be an E.O. 13771 regulatory 
action because this proposed rule is not significant under E.O. 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual basis for this certification is as follows:
    For Regulatory Flexibility Analysis purposes only, NMFS has 
established a uniform size standard for small businesses, including 
their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 
CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing is 
classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual receipts of less than $11 million 
for all its affiliated operations worldwide. In 2016, 349 fishing firms 
held at least one surfclam or ocean quahog permit. Using the $11 
million cutoff for firms, there are 341 entities that are small and 8 
that are large. In order to provide a more accurate count and 
description of the small directly regulated entities, landings data 
were evaluated to select only firms that were active in either the 
surfclam or the ocean quahog fishery. There are 24 active fishing 
firms, of which 22 are small entities and 2 are large entities.
    Because the proposed quotas are status quo, the action would have 
no impacts on the way the fishery operates. These measures are expected 
to provide similar fishing opportunities in 2018-2020 when compared to 
earlier years. As such, revenue changes are not expected in 2018-2020 
when compared to landings and revenues in 2017. Therefore, adoption of 
the proposed specifications are not expected to have impacts on 
entities participating in the fishery if landings are similar to those 
that occurred in 2017.
    Maintaining the suspension of the surfclam minimum shell length 
requirement would result in no change when compared to 2014-2016. The 
minimum shell length requirement has been suspended each year since 
2005. The proposed action would have no impact on the way the fishery 
operates, and is not expected to disproportionately affect small 
entities.
    As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.

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

    Dated: December 6, 2017.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Progams, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-26577 Filed 12-8-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P