Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northern Gulf of Maine Measures in Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan, 7129-7135 [2018-03319]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 257 [EPA–HQ–OLEM–2017–0613; FRL–9974– 49–OLEM] Oklahoma: Approval of Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit Program; Extension of Comment Period Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Notice of availability; extension of comment period. AGENCY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) is extending the comment period on EPA’s proposal to approve Oklahoma’s Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) State Permit Program. The notice announcing this proposed approval was published on January 16, 2018, and the public comment period was scheduled to end on March 2, 2018. However, a number of public interest groups have requested additional time to review Oklahoma’s application for a CCR State Permit Program and to develop and submit comments. Therefore, in response to the request for additional time, EPA is extending the comment period, so that comments are now due on or before March 19, 2018. DATES: Comments on the notice of availability published January 16, 2018 (83 FR 2100) must be received on or before March 19, 2018. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OLEM–2017–0613; Title: Oklahoma: Approval of Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit Program at https:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. The EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 guidance on making effective comments, please visit https:// www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epadockets. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Jackson, Materials Recovery and Waste Management Division, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Mail code 5304P, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (703) 308–8453; email address: jackson.mary@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: EPA is proposing to approve Oklahoma’s CCR state permit program application, pursuant to RCRA 4005(d)(1)(B). If approved, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ)’s permit program would operate ‘‘in lieu of’’ the federal CCR program, codified at 40 CFR part 257, subpart D. On July 31, 2017 Oklahoma submitted to EPA its initial application. The State supplemented its original application on October 18, 2017. EPA determined that the application was complete and notified Oklahoma of its determination by letter dated December 21, 2017. The statute requires EPA to evaluate two components of a state program to determine whether it meets the standard for approval. First, EPA is to evaluate the adequacy of the permit program (or other system of prior approval and conditions) itself. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(A). Second, EPA is to evaluate the adequacy of the technical criteria that will be included in each permit, to determine whether they are the same as the federal criteria, or to the extent they differ, whether the modified criteria are ‘‘at least as protective as’’ the federal requirements. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(B). Only if both components meet the statutory requirements may EPA approve the program. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1). On that basis, EPA conducted an analysis of ODEQ’s application, including a thorough analysis of OAC 252:517 and its adoption of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D. Based on this analysis, EPA has preliminarily determined that ODEQ’s submitted CCR permit program meets the standard for approval in section 4005(d)(1)(A) and (B). EPA is therefore proposing to approve Oklahoma’s application. Oklahoma’s program contains all the elements of the federal rule, including requirements for location restrictions, design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure requirements and post-closure care, recordkeeping, notification and internet posting requirements. It also contains state-specific language, PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 7129 references and state-specific requirements that differ from the federal rule, which EPA has preliminarily determined to be at least as protective as the federal criteria. EPA’s analysis and preliminary findings are available in the docket supporting this proposed action. The notice announcing the proposed approval of Oklahoma’s application was published on January 16, 2018, and the comment period was scheduled to end on March 2, 2018. See 83 FR 2100. Since publication of the notice, a number of stakeholders have requested additional time to review Oklahoma’s application and to develop and submit comments. Therefore, after considering this request for additional time, EPA has decided to extend the comment period until March 19, 2018. Dated: February 8, 2018. Barry N. Breen, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Management. [FR Doc. 2018–03274 Filed 2–16–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No.: 180110025–8025–01] RIN 0648–BH51 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northern Gulf of Maine Measures in Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes some of the measures included in Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan that establish scallop specifications and other measures for the Northern Gulf of Maine scallop management area for fishing years 2018 and 2019. This action is necessary to prevent overfishing and improve both yield-per-recruit and the overall management of the Atlantic sea scallop resource in the Northern Gulf of Maine. The intended effect of this rule is to notify the public of these proposed measures and to solicit comment on the potential scallop fishery management changes. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 7130 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules Comments must be received by March 7, 2018. ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the proposed measures, other considered alternatives, and analyzes the impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. The Council submitted a decision draft of the framework to NMFS that includes the draft EA, a description of the Council’s preferred alternatives, the Council’s rationale for selecting each alternative, and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). Copies of the decision draft of Framework Adjustment 29, the draft EA, and the IRFA, are available upon request from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2018–0007, 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-2018-0007, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on Northern Gulf of Maine Measures in Framework Adjustment 29.’’ 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 DATES: be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter z ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9233. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The scallop fishery’s management unit ranges from the shorelines of Maine through North Carolina to the outer boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), established in 1982, includes a number of amendments and framework adjustments that have revised and refined the fishery’s management. The New England Fishery Management Council sets scallop fishery catch limits and other management measures through specification or framework adjustments that occur annually or biennially. The Council adopted Framework Adjustment 29 (Framework 29) to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP in its entirety on December 7, 2017, and submitted a decision draft of the framework, including a draft EA, to NMFS on December 21, 2017, for review and approval. Framework 29 includes catch, effort, and quota allocations and adjustments to the rotational area management program for fishing year 2018 and default specifications for fishing year 2019. This action proposes the portion of Framework 29 that establishes scallop specifications and other measures for the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) scallop management area for fishing years 2018 and 2019. These measures were developed to address harvesting activities by the limited access fleet in the past two years. In fishing years 2016 and 2017, the limited access fleet harvested substantially more scallops from the NGOM than they had since the beginning of the NGOM management program. Because the limited access fleet accessed the NGOM through the days-at-sea (DAS) program, there was no hard limit on its landings from the area. This resulted in total landings from the NGOM by the limited access fleet that far exceeded the total allowable catch (TAC) for the limited access general category (LAGC) fleet. The Council felt that this was inconsistent with the goals of the NGOM management program. Accordingly, the Council developed Framework 29, in part, to put measures in place to temporarily divide the catch more equitably between the two fleets and limit the total catch by the limited access fleet from the NGOM to a level consistent with its specified TAC for the NGOM. Prior to its approval of Framework 29 at its December meeting, the Council raised concerns regarding the complexity of Framework 29 and the timeline for implementation. Specifically, the Council was concerned that if the NGOM measures in Framework 29 are not in place by April 1, 2018, the limited access fleet could exceed its portion of the total allowable catch (TAC) proposed in the framework, potentially undermining the sustainability of the NGOM fishery in at least the short term. We informed the Council at the December meeting that we would consider separating out the NGOM measures in Framework 29 to ensure that they were in place prior to April 1, 2018. To help prevent excessive fishing in the NGOM, we are separating out the NGOM measures in Framework 29 to expedite their implementation. As a result, this action addresses only the portions of Framework 29 that affect fishing in the NGOM. We will address the remaining specifications and other management measure in Framework 29 in a follow-up action. This action would set new management measures in the NGOM for the scallop fishery for the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, including prohibiting the limited access fleet from accessing the NGOM while participating in the DAS program. In addition, this action would divide the annual NGOM TAC between the limited access fleet while on a research set-aside (RSA) trip and LAGC fleets for the 2018 and 2019 (default) fishing years as follows: TABLE 1—NGOM TAC FOR FISHING YEARS 2018 AND 2019 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS [Default] 2018 2019 (default) Fleet lb kg lb kg LAGC ............................................................................................................... Limited access ................................................................................................. 135,000 65,000 61,235 29,484 102,500 32,500 46,493 14,742 Total .......................................................................................................... 200,000 90,718 135,000 61,235 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules Setting the NGOM TAC The NGOM TAC would be set by applying a fishing mortality rate (F) of F = 0.18 using only the projected exploitable biomass on Jeffreys Ledge and Stellwagen Bank for fishing years 2018 and 2019. The Council chose to base the F rate only on these two areas because the Council projects that this is where the bulk of the fishing in the NGOM will take place. The 2017 survey of Stellwagen Bank did not see any signs of recruitment to the NGOM resource. Therefore, the Council chose to set a more conservative TAC for fishing years 2018 and 2019 that may lead to more consistent harvests in the NGOM. The overall TAC for the entire NGOM management area would be set at 200,000 lbs (90,718 kg) for fishing year 2018, and 135,000 lbs (61,235 kg) for fishing year 2019 (Table 1). sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Dividing the NGOM TAC If current measures remain in place for the NGOM, limited access scallop vessels will be able to fish in the NGOM while on DAS until the LAGC fleet reaches the TAC. Since this could result in extremely high catch and fishing mortality in the NGOM, this action would divide the TAC between the LAGC fleet and the limited access fleet while on a RSA trip at a level consistent with the biomass in the area. The NGOM TAC for the LAGC component was set at 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) from fishing year 2008 through fishing year 2016. Using this as a basis, the Council recommended that the first 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) of the NGOM TAC should be allocated to the LAGC fleet, and that any remaining pounds should be split equally between the LAGC and limited access fleets (Table 1). Each fleet would operate independently under its own portion of the TAC. The NGOM management area would remain open for each component until their TAC is projected to be harvested, even if the other component has reached its TAC. For example, if the LAGC component harvests its TAC before the limited access fleet harvests all of its allocation, the area would remain open for limited access fishing. The Council considered several options for temporarily dividing the TAC between the two fleets. This TAC division is intended to be a shortterm solution to allow controlled fishing in the NGOM management area until the Council and NMFS can develop a future action to address NGOM issues more holistically. Managing Limited Access Removals This action would not change how the LAGC component currently operates in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 the NGOM. However, the limited access fleet would be prohibited from accessing the NGOM while participating in the DAS program. The limited access share of the NGOM TAC would be available through RSA compensation fishing only. Each year the Scallop FMP sets aside 1.25 million lb (566,990 kg) of scallops to fund research relevant to the FMP. RSA projects are selected through a competitive grants process, with priorities established by the Council. NMFS allocates award recipients a portion of the RSA quota and recipients use the money generated by the sale of the awarded RSA quota, to fund the proposed research. This action would allow NMFS to allocate the limited access portion of the NGOM TAC (65,000 lb (29,484 kg)) to be harvested as RSA compensation quota. This allocation would not be in addition to the 1.25 million lb (566,990 kg) RSA quota. When allocating this quota to specific projects, NMFS would give priority to projects that are relevant to the NGOM. Any limited access or LAGC vessels that NMFS awards NGOM RSA compensation pounds would be required to declare into the area and fish exclusively within the NGOM management area. Any NGOM RSA harvest overages would be deducted from the following year’s limited access NGOM TAC. Capping removals for all fishery components at the specified portion of the NGOM TAC and requiring that all NGOM trips take place exclusively in the NGOM would allow the Council and NMFS to fully understand total removals from the area. Making the limited access share of the NGOM TAC available for RSA compensation fishing would be a short-term solution to utilize a small limited access portion of the NGOM TAC with the expectation that a more formal allocation and harvest strategy would be developed in a future amendment. The Council has reviewed the NGOM portions of the Framework 29 proposed rule regulations as drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 7131 subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An IRFA has been prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA consists of Framework 29 analyses of the NGOM measures, the draft IRFA, and the preamble to this proposed rule. Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered and Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule This action proposes the management measures and specifications for the Atlantic sea scallop fishery in the NGOM for 2018, with 2019 default measures. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the Council’s Framework 29 document and the preamble of this proposed rule and are not repeated here. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of the Proposed Rule This action contains no new collection-of-information, reporting, or recordkeeping requirements. Accordingly, this proposed rule does not implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap or Conflict With This Proposed Rule The proposed regulations do not create overlapping regulations with any state regulations or other federal laws. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply The proposed regulations would affect all vessels with limited access and LAGC scallop permits, but there is no differential effect based on whether the affected entities are small or large. Framework 29 provides extensive information on the number and size of vessels and small businesses that would be affected by the proposed regulations, by port and state (see ADDRESSES). Fishing year 2016 data were used for this analysis because these data are the most recent complete data set for a fishing year. There were 313 vessels that obtained full-time limited access permits in 2016, including 250 dredge, 52 small-dredge, and 11 scallop trawl permits. In the same year, there were also 34 part-time limited access permits E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 7132 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules in the sea scallop fishery. No vessels were issued occasional scallop permits. NMFS issued 225 LAGC IFQ permits in 2016, and 125 of these vessels actively fished for scallops that year. The remaining permit holders likely leased out scallop IFQ allocations with their permits in Confirmation of Permit History. In 2016, there were 27 NGOM vessels that actively fished. For RFA purposes, NMFS defines a small business in shellfish fishery as a firm that is independently owned and operated with receipts of less than $11 million annually (see 50 CFR 200.2). Individually-permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different fishery management plans, even beyond those impacted by this proposed rule. Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by entities with various personal and business affiliations. For the purposes of this analysis, ‘‘ownership entities’’ are defined as those entities with common ownership as listed on the permit application. Only permits with identical ownership are categorized as an ‘‘ownership entity.’’ For example, if five permits have the same seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit applications, those seven persons would form one ‘‘ownership entity,’’ that holds those five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own additional vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a separate ‘‘ownership entity’’ for the purpose of this analysis. On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are identified based on a list of all permits for the most recent complete calendar year. The current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2016 permits and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2014 through 2016. Matching the potentially impacted 2016 fishing year permits described above (limited access permits and LAGC IFQ permits) to calendar year 2016 ownership data results in 161 distinct ownership entities for the limited access fleet and 115 distinct ownership entities for the LAGC IFQ fleet. Of these, and based on the Small Business Administration guidelines, 154 of the limited access distinct ownership entities and 113 of the LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as small. The remaining seven of the limited access and two of the LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as large entities. The number of distinct small business entities with NGOM permits and active NGOM vessels were 27 in 2016 permits. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities The Council considered three alternatives for setting a TAC in the NGOM: Alternative 1 (No Action, 95,000 lb (43,091 kg) TAC and no changes to management), Alternative 2 (Set NGOM TAC using exploitable biomass projections for 2018 and 2019, cap removals for all fishery components, and apply limited access share of TAC toward RSA compensation fishing), and Alternative 3 (Set NGOM TAC at 0 lb (0 kg)). Under the Council’s preferred alternative, Alternative 2, there were two options for setting the TAC and each of these options had two suboptions for splitting the TAC between the limited access and the LAGC fleets. Option 1 (setting that TAC based on F = 0.15) included these two sub-options to split the TAC: Sub-option 1 (allocating the first 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) to LAGC fleet and the remaining TAC is split equally), and sub-option 2 (first 95,000 lb (43,091 kg) to LAGC fleet and the remaining TAC is split 25(LAGC)/ 75(limited access)). These two suboptions are described in Table 2. Under these sub-options scallop revenues and net revenues of the small business entities for the NGOM vessels would increase relative to No Action levels ranging from 19 percent to 27 percent. However, the preferred alternative (Alternative 2, Option 2, Sub-Option 1) would result in the highest economic benefits for this fishery with an estimated increase in net revenues by 42 percent compared to both Alternative 1 (No Action) and Alternative 3 (Set NGOM TAC at 0 lb (0 kg)). TABLE 2—IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE 2 FOR NGOM SCALLOP FISHERY [2018 Fishing Year] Option 1 (F = 0.15) Option 2 (F = 0.18)—Preferred Split Sub-Option 1 (70,000 lb (31,751 kg) then 50/50) Preferred LA scallop pounds .............................................. LAGC scallop pounds ........................................ Total Pounds ...................................................... Net revenue (in 2017 Mill. $) .............................. Net Revenue under No Action (Alternative 1, in 2017 Mill. $). Percent Change in net revenue per vessel and per business entity. 47500 lb (21546 kg) ......................................... 117500 lb (53297 kg) ....................................... 165000 lb (74843 kg) ....................................... 1.13 .................................................................. 0.91 .................................................................. 65000 lb (29,484 kg) 135000 lb (61,235 kg) 200000 lb (90,718 kg) 1.29 0.91 24 percent ........................................................ 42 percent sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Split Sub-Option 2 (95,000 lb (43,091 kg) then 25/75) LA scallop pounds .............................................. LAGC scallop pounds ........................................ Total Pounds ...................................................... Estimated LA RSA value .................................... Estimated LAGC scallop revenue ...................... net revenue ( 2017 Mill. $) ................................. Net Revenue under No Action (Alternative 1, in 2017 Mill. $)). Percent Change in net revenue ......................... The economic impacts of the preferred NGOM alternative on the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 52,500 lb (23,814 kg) ....................................... 112,500 lb (51,029 kg) ..................................... 16,5000 lb (74,843 kg) ..................................... $643,125 .......................................................... $1,378,125 ....................................................... 1.08 .................................................................. 0.91 .................................................................. 78,750 lb (35,720 kg) 121,250 lb (54,998 kg) 200,000 lb (90,718 kg) $964,687.5 $1,485,313 1.16 0.91 19 percent ........................................................ 27 percent limited access vessels could range, however, from low negative to neutral. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 In both 2016 and 2017, limited access vessels were active in the NGOM E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules management area until it closed when the LAGC component was projected to have reached its TAC. Approximately 67 limited access vessels operated within the NGOM management area in 2017 while operating under DAS. Depending on the scallop resource productivity in the open areas, the cap on limited access landings from the NGOM and the requirement that limited access share would be harvested as RSA compensation fishing could have some marginally low negative impacts on the limited access fishery due to effort displacement to other areas which may not be as productive as the NGOM scallop fishery. List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: February 13, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEAST UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Subpart A—General Provisions 2. In § 648.10, revise paragraphs (f) introductory text, (f)(2) introductory text, and (f)(4)(i) to read as follows: ■ § 648.10 VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (f) Atlantic sea scallop vessel VMS notification requirements. Less than 1 hour prior to leaving port, the owner or authorized representative of a scallop vessel that is required to use VMS as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must notify the Regional Administrator by transmitting the appropriate VMS code that the vessel will be participating in the scallop DAS program, Area Access Program, LAGC scallop fishery, fishing in the Northern Gulf of Maine management area, or will be fishing outside of the scallop fishery under the requirements of its other Federal permits, or that the vessel will be steaming to another location prior to commencing its fishing trip by transmitting a ‘‘declared out of fishery’’ VMS code. If the owner or authorized representative of a scallop vessel declares out of the fishery for the steaming portion of the trip, the vessel VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 cannot possess, retain, or land scallops, or fish for any other fish. Prior to commencing the fishing trip following a ‘‘declared out of fishery’’ trip, the owner or authorized representative must notify the Regional Administrator by transmitting the appropriate VMS code, before first crossing the VMS Demarcation Line, that the vessel will be participating in the scallop DAS program, Area Access Program, or LAGC scallop fishery. VMS codes and instructions are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. * * * * * (2) NGOM scallop fishery. A NGOM scallop vessel is deemed to be fishing in Federal waters of the NGOM management area and will have its landings applied against the LAGC portion of the NGOM management area TAC, specified in § 648.62(b)(1), unless: * * * * * (4) Catch reports. (i) The owner or operator of a limited access or LAGC scallop vessel with an IFQ permit that fishes for, possesses, or retains scallops, and is not fishing under a NE Multispecies DAS or sector allocation, must submit reports through the VMS, in accordance with instructions to be provided by the Regional Administrator, for each day fished, including open area trips, access area trips as described in § 648.59(b)(9), Northern Gulf of Maine RSA trips, and trips accompanied by a NMFS-approved observer. The reports must be submitted for each day (beginning at 0000 hr and ending at 2400 hr) and not later than 0900 hr of the following day. Such reports must include the following information: (A) VTR serial number; (B) Date fish were caught; (C) Total pounds of scallop meats kept; (D) Total pounds of all fish kept. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.14: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (i)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(ii) and (iv), and (i)(1)(viii)(A) and (B); ■ b. Add paragraph (i)(2)(iii)(E); and ■ c. Revise paragraphs (i)(3)(iii)(C) and(D). The revisions and additions read as follows: § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (i) * * * (1) * * * (iii) * * * (A) * * * (1) * * * (ii) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued and carries on board a limited access scallop permit and is properly declared into the scallop PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 7133 DAS, Area Access program, or the NGOM management area. * * * * * (iv) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued and carries on board an NGOM or IFQ scallop permit, and is properly declared into the NGOM scallop management area, and the LAGC portion of the NGOM TAC specified in § 648.62 has not been harvested. * * * * * (viii) Scallop research. (A) Fail to comply with any of the provisions specified in § 648.56 or the conditions of a letter of authorization issued under § 648.56. (B) Fish for scallops in, or possess or land scallops from the NGOM, unless allocated NGOM RSA allocation as described in § 648.56(d) and fishing on a scallop research set aside compensation trip. * * * * * (2) * * * (iii) * * * (E) Fish for, possess, or land scallops from the NGOM, unless on a scallop RSA compensation trip and allocated NGOM RSA allocation as described in § 648.56(d). * * * * * (3) * * * (iii) * * * (C) Declare into the NGOM scallop management area after the effective date of a notification published in the Federal Register stating that the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop management area TAC has been harvested as specified in § 648.62, unless the vessel is fishing exclusively in state waters, declared a state-waters only NGOM trip, and is participating in an approved state waters exemption program as specified in § 648.54, or unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in § 648.56. (D) Fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the NGOM scallop management area after the effective date of a notification published in the Federal Register that the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop management area TAC has been harvested, as specified in § 648.62, unless the vessel possesses or lands scallops that were harvested south of 42°20′ N lat., the vessel is transiting the NGOM scallop management area, and the vessel’s fishing gear is properly stowed and not available for immediate use in accordance with § 648.2 or unless the vessel is fishing exclusively in state waters, declared a state-waters only NGOM trip, and is participating in an approved state waters exemption program as specified in § 648.54, or E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 7134 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in § 648.56. * * * * * Subpart D—Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery 4. In § 648.56 revise paragraphs (c) and (d) to read as follows: ■ § 648.56 Scallop research. * * * * * (c) NOAA shall make the final determination as to what proposals are approved and which vessels are authorized to take scallops in excess of possession limits, or take additional trips into Open, Access Areas, or the NGOM management area. NMFS shall provide authorization of such activities to specific vessels by letter of acknowledgement, letter of authorization, or Exempted Fishing Permit issued by the Regional Administrator, which must be kept on board the vessel. (d) Available RSA allocation shall be 1.25 million lb (567 mt) annually, which shall be deducted from the ABC/ACL specified in § 648.53(a) prior to setting ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets, as specified in § 648.53(a)(3) and (4), respectively. Approved RSA projects shall be allocated an amount of scallop pounds that can be harvested in open areas, available access areas, and the NGOM. The specific access areas that are open to RSA harvest and the amount of NGOM allocation to be landed through RSA harvest shall be specified through the framework process as identified in § 648.59(e)(1). In a year in which a framework adjustment is under review by the Council and/or NMFS, NMFS shall make RSA awards prior to approval of the framework, if practicable, based on total scallop pounds needed to fund each research project. Recipients may begin compensation fishing in open areas prior to approval of the framework, or wait until NMFS approval of the framework to begin compensation fishing within approved access areas. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.62: ■ a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4), (b), (c), and (d); and ■ b. Add paragraph (a)(5). The addition and revisions to read as follows: § 648.62 Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program. (a) * * * (2) Scallop landings by vessels issued NGOM permits shall be deducted from the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch when vessels fished all or part of a trip in the Federal waters portion of the NGOM. If a vessel with a NGOM scallop permit fishes exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, scallop landings from those trips will not be deducted from the Federal NGOM quota. (3) Scallop landings by all vessels issued LAGC IFQ scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch specified in the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in § 648.55. Scallop landings by LAGC IFQ scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from their respective scallop IFQs. Landings by incidental catch scallop vessels shall not be deducted from the NGOM total allowable catch specified in paragraph (b) of this section. (4) A vessel issued a NGOM or LAGC IFQ scallop permit that fishes in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain up to 200 lb (90.7 kg) of shucked or 25 bu (8.81 hL) of in-shell scallops, and may possess up to 50 bu (17.6 hL) of inshell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line. A vessel issued an incidental catch general category scallop permit that fishes in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain only up to 40 lb of shucked or 5 U.S. bu (1.76 hL) of in-shell scallops, and may possess up to 10 bu (3.52 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line. (5) Scallop landings by all vessels issued scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM under the scallop RSA program (as specified in § 648.56) shall be deducted from the limited access portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch. (b) Total allowable catch. The total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area shall be specified through the framework adjustment process. The total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area shall be based on the Federal portion of the scallop resource in the NGOM. The total allowable catch shall be determined by historical landings until additional information on the NGOM scallop resource is available, for example through an NGOM resource survey and assessment. The ABC/ACL as defined in § 648.53(a) shall not include the total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area, and landings from the NGOM scallop management area shall not be counted against the ABC/ACL defined in § 648.53(a). The total allowable catch shall be divided between the limited access and the LAGC fleets. (1) NGOM annual hard TACs. The LAGC and the limited access portions of the annual hard TAC for the NGOM 2018 and 2019 fishing years are as follows: 2018 2019 (default) Fleet lb kg lb kg 135,000 65,000 61,235 29,484 102,500 32,500 46,493 14,742 Total .......................................................................................................... sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS LAGC ............................................................................................................... Limited access ................................................................................................. 200,000 90,718 135,000 61,235 (2) Unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the NGOM scallop management area and is transiting the NGOM scallop management area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2, no vessel issued an LAGC or limited access scallop permit pursuant to § 648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or land VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 scallops in the NGOM scallop management area once the Regional Administrator has provided notification in the Federal Register that the vessel’s respective portion(s) of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) has been reached, unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 program as specified in § 648.56, has been allocated NGOM RSA pounds, and the limited access portion of the NGOM TAC has not been reached. Once the NGOM hard TAC is reached, a vessel issued a NGOM permit may no longer declare a state-only NGOM scallop trip and fish for scallops exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, unless E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 20, 2018 / Proposed Rules sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with PROPOSALS participating in the state waters exemption program as specified in § 648.54. A vessel that has not been issued a Federal scallop permit that fishes exclusively in state waters is not subject to the closure of the NGOM scallop management area. (3) If either the LAGC or the limited access portion of the annual NGOM TAC is exceeded, the amount of NGOM scallop landings in excess of the portion of the TAC specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section shall be deducted from the respective portion(s) of the NGOM TAC which has been exceeded for the subsequent fishing year, as soon as practicable, once scallop landings data VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:10 Feb 16, 2018 Jkt 244001 for the NGOM management area is available. (c) VMS requirements. Except scallop vessels issued a limited access scallop permit pursuant to § 648.4(a)(2)(i) that have declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, a vessel issued a scallop permit pursuant to § 648.4(a)(2) that intends to fish for scallops in the NGOM scallop management area or fishes for, possesses, or lands scallops in or from the NGOM scallop management area, must declare a NGOM scallop management area trip and report scallop catch through the vessel’s VMS unit, as required in § 648.10. If the vessel has a NGOM permit, the vessel must declare either a Federal NGOM trip or a state- PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 7135 waters NGOM trip. If a vessel intends to fish any part of a NGOM trip in Federal NGOM waters, it may not declare into the state water NGOM fishery. (d) Gear restrictions. Except scallop vessels issued a limited access scallop permit pursuant to § 648.4(a)(2)(i) that have properly declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, the combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, LAGC scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area may not exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2018–03319 Filed 2–16–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20FEP1.SGM 20FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 34 (Tuesday, February 20, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7129-7135]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-03319]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No.: 180110025-8025-01]
RIN 0648-BH51


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northern Gulf of 
Maine Measures in Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop 
Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes some of the measures included in Framework 
Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan that 
establish scallop specifications and other measures for the Northern 
Gulf of Maine scallop management area for fishing years 2018 and 2019. 
This action is necessary to prevent overfishing and improve both yield-
per-recruit and the overall management of the Atlantic sea scallop 
resource in the Northern Gulf of Maine. The intended effect of this 
rule is to notify the public of these proposed measures and to solicit 
comment on the potential scallop fishery management changes.

[[Page 7130]]


DATES: Comments must be received by March 7, 2018.

ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council has prepared a 
draft environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the 
proposed measures, other considered alternatives, and analyzes the 
impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. The Council 
submitted a decision draft of the framework to NMFS that includes the 
draft EA, a description of the Council's preferred alternatives, the 
Council's rationale for selecting each alternative, and an Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). Copies of the decision draft of 
Framework Adjustment 29, the draft EA, and the IRFA, are available upon 
request from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery 
Management Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2018-0007, 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-2018-0007, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ``Comments on Northern Gulf of 
Maine Measures in Framework Adjustment 29.''
    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 z ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The scallop fishery's management unit ranges from the shorelines of 
Maine through North Carolina to the outer boundary of the Exclusive 
Economic Zone. The Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), 
established in 1982, includes a number of amendments and framework 
adjustments that have revised and refined the fishery's management. The 
New England Fishery Management Council sets scallop fishery catch 
limits and other management measures through specification or framework 
adjustments that occur annually or biennially. The Council adopted 
Framework Adjustment 29 (Framework 29) to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP 
in its entirety on December 7, 2017, and submitted a decision draft of 
the framework, including a draft EA, to NMFS on December 21, 2017, for 
review and approval. Framework 29 includes catch, effort, and quota 
allocations and adjustments to the rotational area management program 
for fishing year 2018 and default specifications for fishing year 2019.
    This action proposes the portion of Framework 29 that establishes 
scallop specifications and other measures for the Northern Gulf of 
Maine (NGOM) scallop management area for fishing years 2018 and 2019. 
These measures were developed to address harvesting activities by the 
limited access fleet in the past two years. In fishing years 2016 and 
2017, the limited access fleet harvested substantially more scallops 
from the NGOM than they had since the beginning of the NGOM management 
program. Because the limited access fleet accessed the NGOM through the 
days-at-sea (DAS) program, there was no hard limit on its landings from 
the area. This resulted in total landings from the NGOM by the limited 
access fleet that far exceeded the total allowable catch (TAC) for the 
limited access general category (LAGC) fleet. The Council felt that 
this was inconsistent with the goals of the NGOM management program. 
Accordingly, the Council developed Framework 29, in part, to put 
measures in place to temporarily divide the catch more equitably 
between the two fleets and limit the total catch by the limited access 
fleet from the NGOM to a level consistent with its specified TAC for 
the NGOM.
    Prior to its approval of Framework 29 at its December meeting, the 
Council raised concerns regarding the complexity of Framework 29 and 
the timeline for implementation. Specifically, the Council was 
concerned that if the NGOM measures in Framework 29 are not in place by 
April 1, 2018, the limited access fleet could exceed its portion of the 
total allowable catch (TAC) proposed in the framework, potentially 
undermining the sustainability of the NGOM fishery in at least the 
short term. We informed the Council at the December meeting that we 
would consider separating out the NGOM measures in Framework 29 to 
ensure that they were in place prior to April 1, 2018. To help prevent 
excessive fishing in the NGOM, we are separating out the NGOM measures 
in Framework 29 to expedite their implementation. As a result, this 
action addresses only the portions of Framework 29 that affect fishing 
in the NGOM. We will address the remaining specifications and other 
management measure in Framework 29 in a follow-up action.
    This action would set new management measures in the NGOM for the 
scallop fishery for the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, including 
prohibiting the limited access fleet from accessing the NGOM while 
participating in the DAS program. In addition, this action would divide 
the annual NGOM TAC between the limited access fleet while on a 
research set-aside (RSA) trip and LAGC fleets for the 2018 and 2019 
(default) fishing years as follows:

                                Table 1--NGOM TAC for Fishing Years 2018 and 2019
                                                    [Default]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2018                       2019 (default)
                      Fleet                      ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        lb              kg              lb              kg
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC............................................         135,000          61,235         102,500          46,493
Limited access..................................          65,000          29,484          32,500          14,742
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................         200,000          90,718         135,000          61,235
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 7131]]

Setting the NGOM TAC

    The NGOM TAC would be set by applying a fishing mortality rate (F) 
of F = 0.18 using only the projected exploitable biomass on Jeffreys 
Ledge and Stellwagen Bank for fishing years 2018 and 2019. The Council 
chose to base the F rate only on these two areas because the Council 
projects that this is where the bulk of the fishing in the NGOM will 
take place. The 2017 survey of Stellwagen Bank did not see any signs of 
recruitment to the NGOM resource. Therefore, the Council chose to set a 
more conservative TAC for fishing years 2018 and 2019 that may lead to 
more consistent harvests in the NGOM. The overall TAC for the entire 
NGOM management area would be set at 200,000 lbs (90,718 kg) for 
fishing year 2018, and 135,000 lbs (61,235 kg) for fishing year 2019 
(Table 1).

Dividing the NGOM TAC

    If current measures remain in place for the NGOM, limited access 
scallop vessels will be able to fish in the NGOM while on DAS until the 
LAGC fleet reaches the TAC. Since this could result in extremely high 
catch and fishing mortality in the NGOM, this action would divide the 
TAC between the LAGC fleet and the limited access fleet while on a RSA 
trip at a level consistent with the biomass in the area. The NGOM TAC 
for the LAGC component was set at 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) from fishing 
year 2008 through fishing year 2016. Using this as a basis, the Council 
recommended that the first 70,000 lb (31,751 kg) of the NGOM TAC should 
be allocated to the LAGC fleet, and that any remaining pounds should be 
split equally between the LAGC and limited access fleets (Table 1). 
Each fleet would operate independently under its own portion of the 
TAC. The NGOM management area would remain open for each component 
until their TAC is projected to be harvested, even if the other 
component has reached its TAC. For example, if the LAGC component 
harvests its TAC before the limited access fleet harvests all of its 
allocation, the area would remain open for limited access fishing. The 
Council considered several options for temporarily dividing the TAC 
between the two fleets. This TAC division is intended to be a short-
term solution to allow controlled fishing in the NGOM management area 
until the Council and NMFS can develop a future action to address NGOM 
issues more holistically.

Managing Limited Access Removals

    This action would not change how the LAGC component currently 
operates in the NGOM. However, the limited access fleet would be 
prohibited from accessing the NGOM while participating in the DAS 
program. The limited access share of the NGOM TAC would be available 
through RSA compensation fishing only. Each year the Scallop FMP sets 
aside 1.25 million lb (566,990 kg) of scallops to fund research 
relevant to the FMP. RSA projects are selected through a competitive 
grants process, with priorities established by the Council. NMFS 
allocates award recipients a portion of the RSA quota and recipients 
use the money generated by the sale of the awarded RSA quota, to fund 
the proposed research. This action would allow NMFS to allocate the 
limited access portion of the NGOM TAC (65,000 lb (29,484 kg)) to be 
harvested as RSA compensation quota. This allocation would not be in 
addition to the 1.25 million lb (566,990 kg) RSA quota. When allocating 
this quota to specific projects, NMFS would give priority to projects 
that are relevant to the NGOM. Any limited access or LAGC vessels that 
NMFS awards NGOM RSA compensation pounds would be required to declare 
into the area and fish exclusively within the NGOM management area. Any 
NGOM RSA harvest overages would be deducted from the following year's 
limited access NGOM TAC.
    Capping removals for all fishery components at the specified 
portion of the NGOM TAC and requiring that all NGOM trips take place 
exclusively in the NGOM would allow the Council and NMFS to fully 
understand total removals from the area. Making the limited access 
share of the NGOM TAC available for RSA compensation fishing would be a 
short-term solution to utilize a small limited access portion of the 
NGOM TAC with the expectation that a more formal allocation and harvest 
strategy would be developed in a future amendment.
    The Council has reviewed the NGOM portions of the Framework 29 
proposed rule regulations as drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be 
necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the Assistant Administrator has 
determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Sea 
Scallop FMP, other provisions of 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.
    An IRFA has been prepared, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic 
impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. 
The IRFA consists of Framework 29 analyses of the NGOM measures, the 
draft IRFA, and the preamble to this proposed rule.

Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered 
and Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed 
Rule

    This action proposes the management measures and specifications for 
the Atlantic sea scallop fishery in the NGOM for 2018, with 2019 
default measures. A description of the action, why it is being 
considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the 
Council's Framework 29 document and the preamble of this proposed rule 
and are not repeated here.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements of the Proposed Rule

    This action contains no new collection-of-information, reporting, 
or recordkeeping requirements. Accordingly, this proposed rule does not 
implicate the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap or Conflict With This 
Proposed Rule

    The proposed regulations do not create overlapping regulations with 
any state regulations or other federal laws.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Would Apply

    The proposed regulations would affect all vessels with limited 
access and LAGC scallop permits, but there is no differential effect 
based on whether the affected entities are small or large. Framework 29 
provides extensive information on the number and size of vessels and 
small businesses that would be affected by the proposed regulations, by 
port and state (see ADDRESSES). Fishing year 2016 data were used for 
this analysis because these data are the most recent complete data set 
for a fishing year. There were 313 vessels that obtained full-time 
limited access permits in 2016, including 250 dredge, 52 small-dredge, 
and 11 scallop trawl permits. In the same year, there were also 34 
part-time limited access permits

[[Page 7132]]

in the sea scallop fishery. No vessels were issued occasional scallop 
permits. NMFS issued 225 LAGC IFQ permits in 2016, and 125 of these 
vessels actively fished for scallops that year. The remaining permit 
holders likely leased out scallop IFQ allocations with their permits in 
Confirmation of Permit History. In 2016, there were 27 NGOM vessels 
that actively fished.
    For RFA purposes, NMFS defines a small business in shellfish 
fishery as a firm that is independently owned and operated with 
receipts of less than $11 million annually (see 50 CFR 200.2). 
Individually-permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, 
harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different 
fishery management plans, even beyond those impacted by this proposed 
rule. Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be 
owned by entities with various personal and business affiliations. For 
the purposes of this analysis, ``ownership entities'' are defined as 
those entities with common ownership as listed on the permit 
application. Only permits with identical ownership are categorized as 
an ``ownership entity.'' For example, if five permits have the same 
seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit applications, those 
seven persons would form one ``ownership entity,'' that holds those 
five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own additional 
vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a separate 
``ownership entity'' for the purpose of this analysis.
    On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are identified based on 
a list of all permits for the most recent complete calendar year. The 
current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2016 permits 
and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for 
calendar years 2014 through 2016. Matching the potentially impacted 
2016 fishing year permits described above (limited access permits and 
LAGC IFQ permits) to calendar year 2016 ownership data results in 161 
distinct ownership entities for the limited access fleet and 115 
distinct ownership entities for the LAGC IFQ fleet. Of these, and based 
on the Small Business Administration guidelines, 154 of the limited 
access distinct ownership entities and 113 of the LAGC IFQ entities are 
categorized as small. The remaining seven of the limited access and two 
of the LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as large entities. The number 
of distinct small business entities with NGOM permits and active NGOM 
vessels were 27 in 2016 permits.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which 
Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which 
Minimize any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities

    The Council considered three alternatives for setting a TAC in the 
NGOM: Alternative 1 (No Action, 95,000 lb (43,091 kg) TAC and no 
changes to management), Alternative 2 (Set NGOM TAC using exploitable 
biomass projections for 2018 and 2019, cap removals for all fishery 
components, and apply limited access share of TAC toward RSA 
compensation fishing), and Alternative 3 (Set NGOM TAC at 0 lb (0 kg)). 
Under the Council's preferred alternative, Alternative 2, there were 
two options for setting the TAC and each of these options had two sub-
options for splitting the TAC between the limited access and the LAGC 
fleets. Option 1 (setting that TAC based on F = 0.15) included these 
two sub-options to split the TAC: Sub-option 1 (allocating the first 
70,000 lb (31,751 kg) to LAGC fleet and the remaining TAC is split 
equally), and sub-option 2 (first 95,000 lb (43,091 kg) to LAGC fleet 
and the remaining TAC is split 25(LAGC)/75(limited access)). These two 
sub-options are described in Table 2. Under these sub-options scallop 
revenues and net revenues of the small business entities for the NGOM 
vessels would increase relative to No Action levels ranging from 19 
percent to 27 percent. However, the preferred alternative (Alternative 
2, Option 2, Sub-Option 1) would result in the highest economic 
benefits for this fishery with an estimated increase in net revenues by 
42 percent compared to both Alternative 1 (No Action) and Alternative 3 
(Set NGOM TAC at 0 lb (0 kg)).

Table 2--Impacts of the Preferred Alternative 2 for NGOM Scallop Fishery
                           [2018 Fishing Year]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Option 2 (F = 0.18)--
                               Option 1 (F = 0.15)        Preferred
------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Split Sub-Option 1 (70,000 lb (31,751 kg) then 50/50) Preferred
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LA scallop pounds...........  47500 lb (21546 kg).  65000 lb (29,484 kg)
LAGC scallop pounds.........  117500 lb (53297 kg)  135000 lb (61,235
                                                     kg)
Total Pounds................  165000 lb (74843 kg)  200000 lb (90,718
                                                     kg)
Net revenue (in 2017 Mill.    1.13................  1.29
 $).
Net Revenue under No Action   0.91................  0.91
 (Alternative 1, in 2017
 Mill. $).
Percent Change in net         24 percent..........  42 percent
 revenue per vessel and per
 business entity.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Split Sub-Option 2 (95,000 lb (43,091 kg) then 25/75)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LA scallop pounds...........  52,500 lb (23,814     78,750 lb (35,720
                               kg).                  kg)
LAGC scallop pounds.........  112,500 lb (51,029    121,250 lb (54,998
                               kg).                  kg)
Total Pounds................  16,5000 lb (74,843    200,000 lb (90,718
                               kg).                  kg)
Estimated LA RSA value......  $643,125............  $964,687.5
Estimated LAGC scallop        $1,378,125..........  $1,485,313
 revenue.
net revenue ( 2017 Mill. $).  1.08................  1.16
Net Revenue under No Action   0.91................  0.91
 (Alternative 1, in 2017
 Mill. $)).
Percent Change in net         19 percent..........  27 percent
 revenue.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The economic impacts of the preferred NGOM alternative on the 
limited access vessels could range, however, from low negative to 
neutral. In both 2016 and 2017, limited access vessels were active in 
the NGOM

[[Page 7133]]

management area until it closed when the LAGC component was projected 
to have reached its TAC. Approximately 67 limited access vessels 
operated within the NGOM management area in 2017 while operating under 
DAS. Depending on the scallop resource productivity in the open areas, 
the cap on limited access landings from the NGOM and the requirement 
that limited access share would be harvested as RSA compensation 
fishing could have some marginally low negative impacts on the limited 
access fishery due to effort displacement to other areas which may not 
be as productive as the NGOM scallop fishery.

List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: February 13, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEAST UNITED STATES

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

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

Subpart A--General Provisions

0
2. In Sec.  648.10, revise paragraphs (f) introductory text, (f)(2) 
introductory text, and (f)(4)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.10  VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators.

* * * * *
    (f) Atlantic sea scallop vessel VMS notification requirements. Less 
than 1 hour prior to leaving port, the owner or authorized 
representative of a scallop vessel that is required to use VMS as 
specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must notify the Regional 
Administrator by transmitting the appropriate VMS code that the vessel 
will be participating in the scallop DAS program, Area Access Program, 
LAGC scallop fishery, fishing in the Northern Gulf of Maine management 
area, or will be fishing outside of the scallop fishery under the 
requirements of its other Federal permits, or that the vessel will be 
steaming to another location prior to commencing its fishing trip by 
transmitting a ``declared out of fishery'' VMS code. If the owner or 
authorized representative of a scallop vessel declares out of the 
fishery for the steaming portion of the trip, the vessel cannot 
possess, retain, or land scallops, or fish for any other fish. Prior to 
commencing the fishing trip following a ``declared out of fishery'' 
trip, the owner or authorized representative must notify the Regional 
Administrator by transmitting the appropriate VMS code, before first 
crossing the VMS Demarcation Line, that the vessel will be 
participating in the scallop DAS program, Area Access Program, or LAGC 
scallop fishery. VMS codes and instructions are available from the 
Regional Administrator upon request.
* * * * *
    (2) NGOM scallop fishery. A NGOM scallop vessel is deemed to be 
fishing in Federal waters of the NGOM management area and will have its 
landings applied against the LAGC portion of the NGOM management area 
TAC, specified in Sec.  648.62(b)(1), unless:
* * * * *
    (4) Catch reports. (i) The owner or operator of a limited access or 
LAGC scallop vessel with an IFQ permit that fishes for, possesses, or 
retains scallops, and is not fishing under a NE Multispecies DAS or 
sector allocation, must submit reports through the VMS, in accordance 
with instructions to be provided by the Regional Administrator, for 
each day fished, including open area trips, access area trips as 
described in Sec.  648.59(b)(9), Northern Gulf of Maine RSA trips, and 
trips accompanied by a NMFS-approved observer. The reports must be 
submitted for each day (beginning at 0000 hr and ending at 2400 hr) and 
not later than 0900 hr of the following day. Such reports must include 
the following information:
    (A) VTR serial number;
    (B) Date fish were caught;
    (C) Total pounds of scallop meats kept;
    (D) Total pounds of all fish kept.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.14:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (i)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(ii) and (iv), and 
(i)(1)(viii)(A) and (B);
0
b. Add paragraph (i)(2)(iii)(E); and
0
c. Revise paragraphs (i)(3)(iii)(C) and(D).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (i) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued 
and carries on board a limited access scallop permit and is properly 
declared into the scallop DAS, Area Access program, or the NGOM 
management area.
* * * * *
    (iv) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued 
and carries on board an NGOM or IFQ scallop permit, and is properly 
declared into the NGOM scallop management area, and the LAGC portion of 
the NGOM TAC specified in Sec.  648.62 has not been harvested.
* * * * *
    (viii) Scallop research. (A) Fail to comply with any of the 
provisions specified in Sec.  648.56 or the conditions of a letter of 
authorization issued under Sec.  648.56.
    (B) Fish for scallops in, or possess or land scallops from the 
NGOM, unless allocated NGOM RSA allocation as described in Sec.  
648.56(d) and fishing on a scallop research set aside compensation 
trip.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (E) Fish for, possess, or land scallops from the NGOM, unless on a 
scallop RSA compensation trip and allocated NGOM RSA allocation as 
described in Sec.  648.56(d).
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (C) Declare into the NGOM scallop management area after the 
effective date of a notification published in the Federal Register 
stating that the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop management area TAC 
has been harvested as specified in Sec.  648.62, unless the vessel is 
fishing exclusively in state waters, declared a state-waters only NGOM 
trip, and is participating in an approved state waters exemption 
program as specified in Sec.  648.54, or unless the vessel is 
participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in Sec.  648.56.
    (D) Fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the NGOM scallop 
management area after the effective date of a notification published in 
the Federal Register that the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop 
management area TAC has been harvested, as specified in Sec.  648.62, 
unless the vessel possesses or lands scallops that were harvested south 
of 42[deg]20' N lat., the vessel is transiting the NGOM scallop 
management area, and the vessel's fishing gear is properly stowed and 
not available for immediate use in accordance with Sec.  648.2 or 
unless the vessel is fishing exclusively in state waters, declared a 
state-waters only NGOM trip, and is participating in an approved state 
waters exemption program as specified in Sec.  648.54, or

[[Page 7134]]

unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as 
specified in Sec.  648.56.
* * * * *

Subpart D--Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery

0
4. In Sec.  648.56 revise paragraphs (c) and (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.56  Scallop research.

* * * * *
    (c) NOAA shall make the final determination as to what proposals 
are approved and which vessels are authorized to take scallops in 
excess of possession limits, or take additional trips into Open, Access 
Areas, or the NGOM management area. NMFS shall provide authorization of 
such activities to specific vessels by letter of acknowledgement, 
letter of authorization, or Exempted Fishing Permit issued by the 
Regional Administrator, which must be kept on board the vessel.
    (d) Available RSA allocation shall be 1.25 million lb (567 mt) 
annually, which shall be deducted from the ABC/ACL specified in Sec.  
648.53(a) prior to setting ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets, 
as specified in Sec.  648.53(a)(3) and (4), respectively. Approved RSA 
projects shall be allocated an amount of scallop pounds that can be 
harvested in open areas, available access areas, and the NGOM. The 
specific access areas that are open to RSA harvest and the amount of 
NGOM allocation to be landed through RSA harvest shall be specified 
through the framework process as identified in Sec.  648.59(e)(1). In a 
year in which a framework adjustment is under review by the Council 
and/or NMFS, NMFS shall make RSA awards prior to approval of the 
framework, if practicable, based on total scallop pounds needed to fund 
each research project. Recipients may begin compensation fishing in 
open areas prior to approval of the framework, or wait until NMFS 
approval of the framework to begin compensation fishing within approved 
access areas.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  648.62:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4), (b), (c), and (d); and
0
b. Add paragraph (a)(5).
    The addition and revisions to read as follows:


Sec.  648.62  Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program.

    (a) * * *
    (2) Scallop landings by vessels issued NGOM permits shall be 
deducted from the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable 
catch when vessels fished all or part of a trip in the Federal waters 
portion of the NGOM. If a vessel with a NGOM scallop permit fishes 
exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, scallop landings from 
those trips will not be deducted from the Federal NGOM quota.
    (3) Scallop landings by all vessels issued LAGC IFQ scallop permits 
and fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from 
the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch specified in 
the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in Sec.  
648.55. Scallop landings by LAGC IFQ scallop vessels fishing in the 
NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from their respective 
scallop IFQs. Landings by incidental catch scallop vessels shall not be 
deducted from the NGOM total allowable catch specified in paragraph (b) 
of this section.
    (4) A vessel issued a NGOM or LAGC IFQ scallop permit that fishes 
in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain up to 200 lb (90.7 kg) of 
shucked or 25 bu (8.81 hL) of in-shell scallops, and may possess up to 
50 bu (17.6 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation 
Line. A vessel issued an incidental catch general category scallop 
permit that fishes in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain only up 
to 40 lb of shucked or 5 U.S. bu (1.76 hL) of in-shell scallops, and 
may possess up to 10 bu (3.52 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the 
VMS Demarcation Line.
    (5) Scallop landings by all vessels issued scallop permits and 
fishing in the NGOM under the scallop RSA program (as specified in 
Sec.  648.56) shall be deducted from the limited access portion of the 
NGOM scallop total allowable catch.
    (b) Total allowable catch. The total allowable catch for the NGOM 
scallop management area shall be specified through the framework 
adjustment process. The total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop 
management area shall be based on the Federal portion of the scallop 
resource in the NGOM. The total allowable catch shall be determined by 
historical landings until additional information on the NGOM scallop 
resource is available, for example through an NGOM resource survey and 
assessment. The ABC/ACL as defined in Sec.  648.53(a) shall not include 
the total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area, and 
landings from the NGOM scallop management area shall not be counted 
against the ABC/ACL defined in Sec.  648.53(a). The total allowable 
catch shall be divided between the limited access and the LAGC fleets.
    (1) NGOM annual hard TACs. The LAGC and the limited access portions 
of the annual hard TAC for the NGOM 2018 and 2019 fishing years are as 
follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2018                       2019  (default)
                      Fleet                      ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        lb              kg              lb              kg
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC............................................         135,000          61,235         102,500          46,493
Limited access..................................          65,000          29,484          32,500          14,742
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................         200,000          90,718         135,000          61,235
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (2) Unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the NGOM 
scallop management area and is transiting the NGOM scallop management 
area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use 
as defined in Sec.  648.2, no vessel issued an LAGC or limited access 
scallop permit pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or 
land scallops in the NGOM scallop management area once the Regional 
Administrator has provided notification in the Federal Register that 
the vessel's respective portion(s) of the NGOM scallop total allowable 
catch in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) has been reached, unless the 
vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in 
Sec.  648.56, has been allocated NGOM RSA pounds, and the limited 
access portion of the NGOM TAC has not been reached. Once the NGOM hard 
TAC is reached, a vessel issued a NGOM permit may no longer declare a 
state-only NGOM scallop trip and fish for scallops exclusively in state 
waters within the NGOM, unless

[[Page 7135]]

participating in the state waters exemption program as specified in 
Sec.  648.54. A vessel that has not been issued a Federal scallop 
permit that fishes exclusively in state waters is not subject to the 
closure of the NGOM scallop management area.
    (3) If either the LAGC or the limited access portion of the annual 
NGOM TAC is exceeded, the amount of NGOM scallop landings in excess of 
the portion of the TAC specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section 
shall be deducted from the respective portion(s) of the NGOM TAC which 
has been exceeded for the subsequent fishing year, as soon as 
practicable, once scallop landings data for the NGOM management area is 
available.
    (c) VMS requirements. Except scallop vessels issued a limited 
access scallop permit pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(2)(i) that have 
declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, a vessel issued a 
scallop permit pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(2) that intends to fish for 
scallops in the NGOM scallop management area or fishes for, possesses, 
or lands scallops in or from the NGOM scallop management area, must 
declare a NGOM scallop management area trip and report scallop catch 
through the vessel's VMS unit, as required in Sec.  648.10. If the 
vessel has a NGOM permit, the vessel must declare either a Federal NGOM 
trip or a state-waters NGOM trip. If a vessel intends to fish any part 
of a NGOM trip in Federal NGOM waters, it may not declare into the 
state water NGOM fishery.
    (d) Gear restrictions. Except scallop vessels issued a limited 
access scallop permit pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(2)(i) that have 
properly declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, the 
combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, LAGC 
scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area may not 
exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the 
dredge.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-03319 Filed 2-16-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P