Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Vermilion Snapper Management Measures; Amendment 47, 61241-61243 [2017-27934]

Download as PDF 61241 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 27, 2017 / Proposed Rules of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Common name References Cited A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Branch of Foreign Species, Ecological Services (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of the Branch of Foreign Species, Ecological Services, Falls Church, VA. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Scientific name * * Proposed Regulation Promulgation Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; and 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. 2. In § 17.11(h), add an entry for ‘‘Sturgeon, Yangtze’’ to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under FISHES to read as set forth below: ■ § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * * * (h) * * * Where listed * * Status * * * Listing citations and applicable rules * * FISHES * * Sturgeon, Yangtze ...................... * * * * Acipenser dabryanus ................ * * * * * DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 170720688–7688–01] daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS RIN 0648–BH07 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Vermilion Snapper Management Measures; Amendment 47 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: Jkt 244001 NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 47 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) (Amendment 47). For vermilion snapper, this proposed rule would revise the stock annual catch limit (ACL). Additionally, Amendment 47 would establish a proxy for the estimate of the stock maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The purpose of this proposed rule is to revise the stock ACL for vermilion snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) consistent with the most recent stock assessment. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 26, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2017–0106’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the SUMMARY: BILLING CODE 4333–15–P PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 E * Proposed rule; request for comments. [FR Doc. 2017–27954 Filed 12–26–17; 8:45 am] 20:10 Dec 26, 2017 * ACTION: Dated: November 15, 2017. James W. Kurth, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * Wherever found ........................ Sfmt 4702 * * [Insert Federal Register citation when published as a final rule]. * * Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2017-0106, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 47, which includes an environmental assessment, E:\FR\FM\27DEP1.SGM 27DEP1 61242 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 27, 2017 / Proposed Rules a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/ am47/docs/PDFs/gulf_reef_am47_ vermilion_final.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727–824– 5305; email: Lauren.Waters@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes vermilion snapper, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the Council to specify the MSY for managed stocks. The National Standard 1 Guidelines state that the Council should adopt a reasonable proxy for MSY if data are insufficient to estimate MSY directly. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Status of the Vermilion Snapper Stock Amendment 23 to the FMP established MSY for vermilion snapper as the yield associated with FMSY when the stock is at equilibrium, where F is defined as fishing mortality (70 FR 109; June 8, 2005). The final rule for the Generic Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Accountability Measures (AM) Amendment established the vermilion snapper stock ACL and set it equal to the ABC at 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), round weight (76 FR 82044, December 29, 2011). In 2016, a standard assessment for vermilion snapper was conducted (SEDAR 45) and the stock status was evaluated using several MSY proxies. Under all proxies evaluated in SEDAR 45, overfishing was not occurring and the stock was not overfished. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) determined that the most appropriate proxy for MSY is the yield when fishing at a mortality rate corresponding to 30 percent spawning potential ratio (F30% SPR). SEDAR 45 also included projections for the overfishing limit and the ABC. The SSC provided the Council two recommendations for ABC: one that is derived from fishing at 75 percent of the MSY proxy (F30% SPR) and results in a declining ABC from 2017 through 2021, and one that is derived using the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Dec 26, 2017 Jkt 244001 average of 2017–2021 ABCs and results in a constant ABC. The two ABC recommendations are equivalent in terms of maintaining the stock status and the Council selected the constant catch scenario that yielded an ABC of of 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg). Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would revise the stock ACL for Gulf vermilion snapper consistent with the results of SEDAR 45 and the SSC’s new ABC recommendation. The current ACL of 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), round weight, exceeds the ABCs recommended by the Council’s SSC. Therefore, the Council determined that the ACL for vermilion snapper should be decreased to equal the constant catch ABC and this proposed rule would set the stock ACL at 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), round weight. The current accountability measures for vermilion snapper require NMFS to close the commercial and recreational fishing seasons if the combined commercial and recreational landings reach or are projected to reach the stock ACL. Since 2013, combined landings have been less than 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg), round weight, every year. Therefore, NMFS does not expect the combined landings of vermilion snapper to reach the proposed stock ACL and result in a closure before the end of the fishing year. Measures in Amendment 47 Not Codified Through This Proposed Rule In addition to the measure proposed to be implemented through this proposed rule, Amendment 47 would establish a proxy for vermilion snapper MSY. For vermilion snapper, the Council’s SSC recommended that a proxy be used for MSY. The Council’s SSC recommended F30% SPR as the MSY proxy for SEDAR 45, and the Council agreed. Under this proxy, the stock is not overfished or undergoing overfishing. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 47, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. A description of this proposed rule and its purpose and need are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows. This proposed rule would directly affect commercial and recreational fishing for vermilion snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Anglers (recreational fishers) are not considered small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6). Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers directly affected by the rule and the impacts on them are not provided here. Any commercial fishing business that operates a commercial fishing vessel that harvests vermilion snapper in the Gulf EEZ must have a valid Federal commercial Gulf reef fish permit that is specifically assigned to that vessel. The Gulf reef fish permit is a limited access permit. As of February 21, 2017, 848 vessels had a Federal Gulf reef fish permit and 795 of the permits were valid. NMFS estimates that 631 businesses own the 848 vessels with a Federal permit, and the size of their individual Gulf reef fish fleets vary from 1 to 17 vessels. The number of federally permitted vessels that land vermilion snapper is substantially less than the number of vessels with a Gulf reef fish permit. From 2011 through 2015, approximately 35 percent to 40 percent of the vessels with a Federal permit landed vermilion snapper in any given year. During that same 5-year period, an annual average of 342 federally permitted vessels landed vermilion snapper. NMFS estimates these 342 vessels are operated by 252 businesses. The 342 vessels landed an average of 4,914 lb (2,229 kg), gutted weight, of vermilion snapper with a dockside value of $15,293 (2015 dollars) annually. This average annual dockside revenue from landings of vermilion snapper represents approximately 12 percent of the average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all species. However, there are considerable differences in average annual landings of vermilion snapper by gear type from 2011 through 2015. For example, the average longline vessel annually landed 72 to 73 lb (32 to 33 kg), gutted weight, of the species, whereas the average E:\FR\FM\27DEP1.SGM 27DEP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 247 / Wednesday, December 27, 2017 / Proposed Rules hook-and-line vessel landed over 7,000 lb, (3,175 kg) gutted weight, annually. Hook-and-line is the primary gear type used by the commercial sector. The average federally permitted hook-andline vessel landed 7,078 lb (3,211 kg), gutted weight, of vermilion snapper annually with a dockside value of $22,276 (2015 dollars), and those vermilion snapper landings represent approximately 17 percent of that average vessel’s annual dockside revenue from all landings. For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the average annual revenue for a federally permitted vessel that lands vermilion snapper, regardless of gear used, it is concluded that most to all of the businesses that harvest vermilion snapper from the Gulf EEZ are small. Amendment 47 would establish an MSY proxy for vermilion snapper and that has no direct impact on any small business. This proposed rule would decrease the stock ACL of vermilion snapper. The stock ACL is currently 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), round weight, and has been in place since 2012. This proposed rule would decrease the stock ACL to 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), round weight. If combined landings reach or are projected to reach the stock ACL, the commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed early as a result of accountability measures being triggered. Since 2012, there have been no early closures because combined commercial and recreational landings of vermilion snapper have been less than the stock ACL. From 2012 through 2015, combined landings varied from approximately 2.54 million lb (1.15 million kg) to 3.17 million lb (1.44 million kg), round weight, annually and averaged approximately 2.73 million lb (1.24 million kg). Since 2013, combined landings have been less than 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg), round weight, every year, and preliminary data for 2016 indicate combined landings of approximately 2.63 million lb (1.19 million kg), round weight. Preliminary landings data for 2016 indicate combined landings of approximately 2.6 VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:10 Dec 26, 2017 Jkt 244001 million lb (1.18 million kg), round weight. Moreover, as of November 27, 2017, for commercial landings and through the third wave for recreational landings, combined landings for 2017 are approximately 2.4 million lb (1.09 million kg), round weight. Based on recent landings data, it is expected that combined landings of vermilion snapper would be less than the proposed stock ACL of 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), round weight, and there would be no early closures. Therefore, NMFS expects the reduction of the stock ACL would have no economic impact on small businesses that harvest vermilion snapper from the Gulf EEZ. No new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, this proposed rule does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act. In conclusion, NMFS expects this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Recreational, Vermilion snapper. Dated: December 21, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.41, revise the last sentence of paragraph (j) to read as follows: ■ § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (j) * * * The stock ACL for vermilion snapper is 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), round weight. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–27934 Filed 12–26–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 61243 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170621579–7579–01] RIN 0648–BG96 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Nontrawl Lead Level 2 Observers National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to modify specific provisions of the North Pacific Observer Program. The first two elements of this proposed rule would modify the requirements for an observer to obtain a nontrawl lead level 2 (LL2) deployment endorsement and implement a pre-cruise meeting requirement for vessels required to carry an observer with a nontrawl LL2 deployment endorsement. These elements are intended to increase the number of observers that qualify for a nontrawl LL2 deployment endorsement and maintain observer safety and data quality. The third element of this proposed rule would make editorial changes, and modify observer coverage and reporting requirements for vessels when participating in the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. This element is intended to promote operational efficiency, and remove unnecessary requirements for specific vessels participating in the CDQ Program. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, and the FMP for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, and other applicable law. DATES: Comments must be received no later than January 26, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2017–0071 by either of the following methods: • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170071, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27DEP1.SGM 27DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 27, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61241-61243]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27934]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 170720688-7688-01]
RIN 0648-BH07


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Vermilion Snapper Management 
Measures; Amendment 47

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in 
Amendment 47 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources 
of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery 
Management Council (Council) (Amendment 47). For vermilion snapper, 
this proposed rule would revise the stock annual catch limit (ACL). 
Additionally, Amendment 47 would establish a proxy for the estimate of 
the stock maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The purpose of this proposed 
rule is to revise the stock ACL for vermilion snapper in the Gulf of 
Mexico (Gulf) consistent with the most recent stock assessment.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2017-0106'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0106, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 47, which includes an 
environmental assessment,

[[Page 61242]]

a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) 
analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office website at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/am47/docs/PDFs/gulf_reef_am47_vermilion_final.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef 
fish fishery, which includes vermilion snapper, under the FMP. The 
Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson 
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the Council to specify the MSY 
for managed stocks. The National Standard 1 Guidelines state that the 
Council should adopt a reasonable proxy for MSY if data are 
insufficient to estimate MSY directly.

Status of the Vermilion Snapper Stock

    Amendment 23 to the FMP established MSY for vermilion snapper as 
the yield associated with FMSY when the stock is at 
equilibrium, where F is defined as fishing mortality (70 FR 109; June 
8, 2005). The final rule for the Generic Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and 
Accountability Measures (AM) Amendment established the vermilion 
snapper stock ACL and set it equal to the ABC at 3.42 million lb (1.55 
million kg), round weight (76 FR 82044, December 29, 2011).
    In 2016, a standard assessment for vermilion snapper was conducted 
(SEDAR 45) and the stock status was evaluated using several MSY 
proxies. Under all proxies evaluated in SEDAR 45, overfishing was not 
occurring and the stock was not overfished. The Council's Scientific 
and Statistical Committee (SSC) determined that the most appropriate 
proxy for MSY is the yield when fishing at a mortality rate 
corresponding to 30 percent spawning potential ratio 
(F30 SPR).
    SEDAR 45 also included projections for the overfishing limit and 
the ABC. The SSC provided the Council two recommendations for ABC: one 
that is derived from fishing at 75 percent of the MSY proxy 
(F30 SPR) and results in a declining ABC from 2017 
through 2021, and one that is derived using the average of 2017-2021 
ABCs and results in a constant ABC. The two ABC recommendations are 
equivalent in terms of maintaining the stock status and the Council 
selected the constant catch scenario that yielded an ABC of of 3.11 
million lb (1.41 million kg).

Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the stock ACL for Gulf vermilion 
snapper consistent with the results of SEDAR 45 and the SSC's new ABC 
recommendation. The current ACL of 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), 
round weight, exceeds the ABCs recommended by the Council's SSC. 
Therefore, the Council determined that the ACL for vermilion snapper 
should be decreased to equal the constant catch ABC and this proposed 
rule would set the stock ACL at 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), 
round weight.
    The current accountability measures for vermilion snapper require 
NMFS to close the commercial and recreational fishing seasons if the 
combined commercial and recreational landings reach or are projected to 
reach the stock ACL. Since 2013, combined landings have been less than 
3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg), round weight, every year. Therefore, 
NMFS does not expect the combined landings of vermilion snapper to 
reach the proposed stock ACL and result in a closure before the end of 
the fishing year.

Measures in Amendment 47 Not Codified Through This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the measure proposed to be implemented through this 
proposed rule, Amendment 47 would establish a proxy for vermilion 
snapper MSY.
    For vermilion snapper, the Council's SSC recommended that a proxy 
be used for MSY. The Council's SSC recommended F30 
SPR as the MSY proxy for SEDAR 45, and the Council agreed. Under this 
proxy, the stock is not overfished or undergoing overfishing.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Amendment 47, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public 
comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal 
rules have been identified. A description of this proposed rule and its 
purpose and need are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows.
    This proposed rule would directly affect commercial and 
recreational fishing for vermilion snapper in the Gulf exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ). Anglers (recreational fishers) are not considered 
small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6). 
Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers directly affected by 
the rule and the impacts on them are not provided here.
    Any commercial fishing business that operates a commercial fishing 
vessel that harvests vermilion snapper in the Gulf EEZ must have a 
valid Federal commercial Gulf reef fish permit that is specifically 
assigned to that vessel. The Gulf reef fish permit is a limited access 
permit. As of February 21, 2017, 848 vessels had a Federal Gulf reef 
fish permit and 795 of the permits were valid. NMFS estimates that 631 
businesses own the 848 vessels with a Federal permit, and the size of 
their individual Gulf reef fish fleets vary from 1 to 17 vessels.
    The number of federally permitted vessels that land vermilion 
snapper is substantially less than the number of vessels with a Gulf 
reef fish permit. From 2011 through 2015, approximately 35 percent to 
40 percent of the vessels with a Federal permit landed vermilion 
snapper in any given year. During that same 5-year period, an annual 
average of 342 federally permitted vessels landed vermilion snapper. 
NMFS estimates these 342 vessels are operated by 252 businesses.
    The 342 vessels landed an average of 4,914 lb (2,229 kg), gutted 
weight, of vermilion snapper with a dockside value of $15,293 (2015 
dollars) annually. This average annual dockside revenue from landings 
of vermilion snapper represents approximately 12 percent of the average 
vessel's annual dockside revenue from all species. However, there are 
considerable differences in average annual landings of vermilion 
snapper by gear type from 2011 through 2015. For example, the average 
longline vessel annually landed 72 to 73 lb (32 to 33 kg), gutted 
weight, of the species, whereas the average

[[Page 61243]]

hook-and-line vessel landed over 7,000 lb, (3,175 kg) gutted weight, 
annually. Hook-and-line is the primary gear type used by the commercial 
sector. The average federally permitted hook-and-line vessel landed 
7,078 lb (3,211 kg), gutted weight, of vermilion snapper annually with 
a dockside value of $22,276 (2015 dollars), and those vermilion snapper 
landings represent approximately 17 percent of that average vessel's 
annual dockside revenue from all landings.
    For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined 
annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its 
affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the average annual revenue 
for a federally permitted vessel that lands vermilion snapper, 
regardless of gear used, it is concluded that most to all of the 
businesses that harvest vermilion snapper from the Gulf EEZ are small.
    Amendment 47 would establish an MSY proxy for vermilion snapper and 
that has no direct impact on any small business.
    This proposed rule would decrease the stock ACL of vermilion 
snapper. The stock ACL is currently 3.42 million lb (1.55 million kg), 
round weight, and has been in place since 2012. This proposed rule 
would decrease the stock ACL to 3.11 million lb (1.41 million kg), 
round weight.
    If combined landings reach or are projected to reach the stock ACL, 
the commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed early as a 
result of accountability measures being triggered. Since 2012, there 
have been no early closures because combined commercial and 
recreational landings of vermilion snapper have been less than the 
stock ACL. From 2012 through 2015, combined landings varied from 
approximately 2.54 million lb (1.15 million kg) to 3.17 million lb 
(1.44 million kg), round weight, annually and averaged approximately 
2.73 million lb (1.24 million kg). Since 2013, combined landings have 
been less than 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg), round weight, every 
year, and preliminary data for 2016 indicate combined landings of 
approximately 2.63 million lb (1.19 million kg), round weight. 
Preliminary landings data for 2016 indicate combined landings of 
approximately 2.6 million lb (1.18 million kg), round weight. Moreover, 
as of November 27, 2017, for commercial landings and through the third 
wave for recreational landings, combined landings for 2017 are 
approximately 2.4 million lb (1.09 million kg), round weight. Based on 
recent landings data, it is expected that combined landings of 
vermilion snapper would be less than the proposed stock ACL of 3.11 
million lb (1.41 million kg), round weight, and there would be no early 
closures. Therefore, NMFS expects the reduction of the stock ACL would 
have no economic impact on small businesses that harvest vermilion 
snapper from the Gulf EEZ.
    No new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements 
are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, this proposed rule 
does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    In conclusion, NMFS expects this proposed rule would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none 
has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Recreational, Vermilion 
snapper.

    Dated: December 21, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.41, revise the last sentence of paragraph (j) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  622.41  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (j) * * * The stock ACL for vermilion snapper is 3.11 million lb 
(1.41 million kg), round weight.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-27934 Filed 12-26-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P