Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permits, 11729-11731 [2018-05335]

Download as PDF 11729 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 52 / Friday, March 16, 2018 / Notices Program. This would ensure that the landed fish do not exceed any collection needs of the Study Fleet Program, as detailed below in Table 2. All catch would be attributed to the appropriate commercial fishing quota. For a vessel fishing on a groundfish sector trip, all catch of groundfish stocks allocated to sectors would be deducted from its sector’s Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE). Once the ACE for a stock has been reached in a sector, vessels would no longer be allowed to fish in that stock area unless the sector acquires additional ACE for the stock in question. For common pool vessels, all groundfish catch would be counted toward the appropriate trimester total allowable catch (TAC). Common pool vessels would be exempt from possession and trip limits, but would still be subject to trimester TAC closures. Vessels fishing under this EFP would be required to report via their Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) or the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to identify trips that would be landing species below minimum size limits and/ or in excess of possession limits. Vessels not landing fish for the Center but temporarily possessing fish for at-sea sampling would not be required to call into the IVR system or report via VMS. TABLE 2—STUDY FLEET PROGRAM’S BIOLOGICAL SAMPLE COLLECTION NEEDS Species Stock area * Gear types # Collection frequency Individual fish per collection period Maximum weight allowed per trip (lb) Windowpane flounder. Monkfish ................. GOM, GB ............ OTF, DRS ........... Monthly ................ 40 ea./mo ............ 30 ........................ 360 GOM, GB, SNE ... OTF, GNS, DRS Monthly ................ 750 ...................... 9,000 Haddock ................. GOM, GB, SNE ... Monthly/Seasonal 320 ...................... 1600 Atlantic cod ............ GOM, GB, SNE ... Monthly ................ 120 ea./mo .......... 270 ...................... 7,200 Barndoor skate ...... Thorny skate .......... Black sea bass ...... Atlantic wolffish ...... Cusk ....................... Atlantic halibut ....... Butterfish ................ Blueline tilefish ....... Golden tilefish ........ Atlantic herring ....... GOM, GB, SNE ... GOM, GB, SNE ... GB, SNE ............. GOM, GB ............ GOM, GB ............ GOM, GB ............ SNE, MA ............. SNE, MA ............. SNE, MA ............. Any Area ............. Quarterly ............. Quarterly ............. Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ Monthly ................ 20 ea./qtr ............. 20 ea./qtr ............. 30 ea./mo ............ 40 ea./mo ............ 40 ea./mo ............ 20 ea./mo ............ 150 ea./mo .......... 20 ea./mo ............ 20 ea./mo ............ 100 ea./mo .......... 150 ...................... 150 ...................... 180 ...................... 160 ...................... 140 ...................... 500 ...................... 75 ........................ 100 ...................... 150 ...................... 100 ...................... 600 600 2,160 3,500 3,600 6,000 900 1,200 1,800 1,200 River herring/shad Any Area ............. Monthly ................ Any Area ............. Monthly ................ 100 ea./mo of ea. species. 100 ea./mo .......... 100 of ea. species Round herring ........ 100 ...................... 1,200 of ea. species 1,200 Silver hake ............. Any Area ............. Monthly ................ 100 ea./mo .......... 260 ...................... 3,120 Atlantic mackerel ... Any Area ............. Monthly ................ 100 ea./mo .......... 260 ...................... 3,120 Shortfin squid ......... Sand lance ............. Any Area ............. Any Area ............. Monthly ................ Monthly ................ 100 ea./mo .......... 100 ea./mo .......... 75 ........................ 25 ........................ 900 300 Longfin squid ......... Any Area ............. OTF, LLB, GNS, DRS. OTF, LLB, GNS, DRS. OTF, GNS, DRS OTF, GNS, DRS PTF, OTF ............ OTF,GNS, LLB .... OTF,GNS, LLB .... OTF, GNS, LLB .. OTM .................... LLB ...................... LLB ...................... OTM, OTF, PTM, PUR. OTM, OTF, PTM, PUR. OTM, OTF, PTM, PUR. OTM, OTF, PTM, PUR. OTM, OTF, PTM, HND, PUR. OTM, OTF ........... OTM, OTF, PTM, PUR. OTM, OTF ........... 15 ea./mo. SNE .. 15 ea./mo. GOM 40 ea./mo ............ Monthly ................ 100 ea./mo .......... 75 ........................ 900 Maximum allowance (lb) daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES * Stock area abbreviations: Gulf of Maine (GOM), Georges Bank (GB), Southern New England (SNE). # Gear abbreviations: Otter trawl (OTF), bottom longline (LLB), sink gillnet (GNS), sea scallop dredge (DRS), fish pot (PTF), hand lines, auto jig (HND), purse seine (PUR), otter trawl midwater (OTM), pair trawl midwater (PTM). If approved, the NEFSC may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impact that does not change the scope of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited. Dated: March 12, 2018. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE [FR Doc. 2018–05334 Filed 3–15–18; 8:45 am] RIN 0648–XG002 BILLING CODE 3510–22–P Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for exempted fishing permit; request for comments. AGENCY: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:54 Mar 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\16MRN1.SGM 16MRN1 11730 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 52 / Friday, March 16, 2018 / Notices NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Salty Bones Fisheries, Inc. If granted, the EFP would authorize the deployment of modified wood and wire spiny lobster traps and non-containment purse traps in the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic. The project would seek to determine the effectiveness of these gear types, as applicable, for attracting and collecting invasive lionfish while avoiding impacts to non-target species, protected species, and habitats. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 2, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2018–0013’’ by any 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-20180013, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Kelli O’Donnell, 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), 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 the applications may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at http:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_ fisheries/gulf_fisheries/LOA_and_EFP/ index.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O’Donnell, 727–824–5305; email: kelli.odonnell@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted fishing. Lionfish is an invasive marine species that occurs in both the Gulf and South Atlantic. The harvest of lionfish in the daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:54 Mar 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 Federal waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic is not currently managed by NMFS. The EFP application submitted to NMFS involves the use of prohibited gear types in Federal waters. Federal regulations prohibit the use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters in the Gulf and South Atlantic (50 CFR 622.9(c)). In Gulf Federal waters, the term ‘‘fish trap’’ refers to traps capable of taking finfish, except for a trap historically used in the directed fishery for crustaceans (that is, blue crab, stone crab, and spiny lobster) (50 CFR 622.2). In South Atlantic Federal waters, the term ‘‘fish trap’’ refers to a trap capable of taking fish, except for a seabass pot, a golden crab trap, or a crustacean trap (that is, a type of trap historically used in the directed fishery for blue crab, stone crab, red crab, jonah crab, or spiny lobster) (50 CFR 622.2). The EFP would exempt these research activities from the regulation prohibiting the use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic at 50 CFR 622.9(c), and would allow the applicant to use spiny lobster traps and other traps capable of taking fish to target lionfish. The applicant seeks an EFP to test the effectiveness of different trap designs in capturing lionfish in the Gulf and South Atlantic while avoiding impacts to nontarget species, protected species, and habitats. One of the goals of the project is to determine the performance of traps as part of a lionfish population control program. Information gathered by the EFP could be used to increase efforts to control the spread of the population. The applicant also intends to sell harvested lionfish in partial support of the testing and also to explore the commercial viability of utilizing traps to harvest lionfish. NMFS is currently analyzing the effects of testing traps to target lionfish on the environment, including on Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species and designated critical habitat, and other non-target species and habitat, in the Gulf and South Atlantic regions through a programmatic environmental assessment (PEA). The PEA includes alternatives that incorporate the proposed effort in this submitted EFP application and others that have been submitted, and accounts for additional expected effort associated with potential future EFP requests. NMFS expects to receive additional EFP requests to test the effectiveness of traps at targeting lionfish in the future and may authorize additional trap testing. The PEA will guide NMFS in developing permit conditions to minimize impacts to the environment, including any affected PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 fisheries and ESA-listed species and designated critical habitat. NMFS also is consulting on the effects of authorizing trap testing under EFPs on ESA-listed species and designated critical habitat in accordance with Section 7 of the ESA. The specific EFP request noticed here is further described and summarized below. Salty Bones Fisheries, Inc. Salty Bones Fisheries requests an EFP to deploy spiny lobster traps with a modified funnel and prototype noncontainment purse traps developed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service at reef sites in the Federal waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic to target lionfish. Two vessels would conduct trap testing trips in the Gulf and one vessel in the South Atlantic. Trap deployment in the Gulf would be off southwest Florida and generally between the latitudes of 24° 28′ N to 25°21′ N and between longitudes 83°00′ W to 84°00′ W. In the South Atlantic, trap deployment would generally be off the Florida Keys between latitudes 24°22.7′ N to 24°24′ N and between longitudes 82°07′ W to 82°34′ W. These locations are current spiny lobster fishing grounds and are known areas of lionfish abundance to lobster trap fishers. As described in the application, the trap designs to be tested would be a wire basket spiny lobster trap with a modified funnel, a wood and wire spiny lobster trap with a modified funnel, and an experimental fish aggregation device based, non-containment purse trap. The two modified spiny lobster trap designs would have biodegradable trap panels and modified funnels of 3 by 6 inches (8 by 15 cm) that are slightly smaller in dimension than the funnel in a regular (non-modified) lobster trap. Current project plans would deploy up to 3,000 total modified spiny lobster traps at one time on the seafloor during the 2-year period of the project. Three vessels would each deploy approximately 500 of each of the two modified spiny lobster traps (1,000 total per vessel per trip) and up to 15 purse traps per trip in the project’s first year and up to 40 total per vessel per trip the project’s second year. The applicant expects to take up to four trips per vessel each month from April through July, weather permitting. Traps would be deployed via a trawl system with up to 40 traps being part of each trawl. Each trawl would use one buoyed vertical line to the surface. The applicant intends to deploy the purse traps by integrating them into the spiny lobster trawls. If the purse traps are proven functional and effective in catching lionfish with E:\FR\FM\16MRN1.SGM 16MRN1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 52 / Friday, March 16, 2018 / Notices minimal environmental impact in a mixed trap trawl configuration in the first year of the project, then the applicant may also test the practicality of deploying trawls with only the purse trap type in the following year. The depth of trap deployments is expected to be between 150 to 300 ft (46 to 91 m). Trap soak time would range from 3 to 10 days depending on trap type and location. Setting and hauling of the traps is expected to occur during daylight hours. Bait would only be used in the modified spiny lobster traps and would include cowhide and fish heads. Vessels to be used in the proposed study would be three federally permitted commercial fishing vessels. Vessel crew would be responsible for collecting detailed records during the sampling trips. Data to be collected per trip would include: Gear configuration and fishing effort data (e.g., date and time of deployment and retrieval, latitude, longitude, and water depth of each deployed trawl, bait type used); soak time per area for each trawl; alternative weight and trawl configurations used in different sea states and conditions; trap loss and movement from original set position; protected species interactions; bycatch species, amount, and disposition; and lionfish catch data for each trap type. Any fish species other than lionfish caught in the traps would be released once the traps are onboard the project vessels; only lionfish would be retained as part of the project. Retained lionfish would be sold on return to port. The applicant has requested the EFP be effective for a 2-year period from the date the EFP is issued. NMFS finds the application warrants further consideration based on a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on the permit, if granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition of conducting research within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, special management zones, or areas where they might interfere with managed fisheries without additional authorization. Additionally, NMFS may require special protections for ESAlisted species and designated critical habitat, and may require particular gear markings. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS’ review of public comments received on the application, consultations with the appropriate fishery management agencies of the affected states, Councils, the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that they are consistent with all applicable laws. Authority: 16 U.S.C 1801 et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:54 Mar 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 Dated: March 12, 2018. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–05335 Filed 3–15–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF995 Initiation of 5-Year Review for the Endangered New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, Carolina and South Atlantic Distinct Population Segments of Atlantic Sturgeon and the Threatened Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Sturgeon National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of initiation of 5-year review; request for information. AGENCY: We, NMFS, announce our intent to conduct a 5-year review for the threatened Gulf of Maine distinct population segment (DPS) of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), the endangered New York Bight DPS of Atlantic sturgeon, the endangered Chesapeake Bay DPS of Atlantic sturgeon, the endangered Carolina DPS of Atlantic sturgeon and the endangered South Atlantic DPS of Atlantic sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We are required by the ESA to conduct 5-year reviews to ensure that the listing classification of the species remains accurate. The 5-year review must be based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review; therefore, we are requesting submission of such information on the status of each DPS, particularly information on population trends, distribution, abundance, habitat amount and suitability, threats, and conservation measures for any DPS that has become available since their original listings under the ESA in 2012. Based on the results of this 5-year review, we will make the requisite findings under the ESA. DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we must receive your information no later than May 15, 2018. While we will continue to accept new information about any listed species at any time, failure to timely submit the information in accordance with the deadline above may preclude SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11731 the information from being included in this review. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments by including NOAA–NMFS–2018–0041, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ document?D=[NOAA-NMFS-20180041], 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields 3. Enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Lynn Lankshear, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930 or Andrew Herndon, NMFS, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: We may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the specified period. 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. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynn Lankshear at the above address, by phone at 978–282–8473 or Lynn.Lankshear@noaa.gov or Andrew Herndon at the above address, by phone at 727–824–5312 or Andrew.Herndon@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On February 6, 2012, we listed the Gulf of Maine DPS of Atlantic sturgeon as threatened and the New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, Carolina and South Atlantic DPSs as endangered (77 FR 5880 and 77 FR 5914). Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the ESA requires that we conduct a review of listed species at least once every five years. On the basis of such reviews, under section 4(c)(2)(B), we determine whether a species should be delisted or reclassified from endangered to threatened or from threatened to endangered. Delisting a species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data available and only considered if such data substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) The species is considered extinct; (2) the species is E:\FR\FM\16MRN1.SGM 16MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 52 (Friday, March 16, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11729-11731]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05335]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG002


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Exempted Fishing Permits

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for exempted fishing 
permit; request for comments.

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

[[Page 11730]]

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted 
fishing permit (EFP) from Salty Bones Fisheries, Inc. If granted, the 
EFP would authorize the deployment of modified wood and wire spiny 
lobster traps and non-containment purse traps in the Federal waters of 
the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic. The project would seek to 
determine the effectiveness of these gear types, as applicable, for 
attracting and collecting invasive lionfish while avoiding impacts to 
non-target species, protected species, and habitats.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 2, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2018-0013'' by any 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-2018-0013, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Kelli O'Donnell, 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), 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 the applications may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office website at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/LOA_and_EFP/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O'Donnell, 727-824-5305; email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C 
1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted 
fishing.
    Lionfish is an invasive marine species that occurs in both the Gulf 
and South Atlantic. The harvest of lionfish in the Federal waters of 
the Gulf and South Atlantic is not currently managed by NMFS. The EFP 
application submitted to NMFS involves the use of prohibited gear types 
in Federal waters. Federal regulations prohibit the use or possession 
of a fish trap in Federal waters in the Gulf and South Atlantic (50 CFR 
622.9(c)). In Gulf Federal waters, the term ``fish trap'' refers to 
traps capable of taking finfish, except for a trap historically used in 
the directed fishery for crustaceans (that is, blue crab, stone crab, 
and spiny lobster) (50 CFR 622.2). In South Atlantic Federal waters, 
the term ``fish trap'' refers to a trap capable of taking fish, except 
for a seabass pot, a golden crab trap, or a crustacean trap (that is, a 
type of trap historically used in the directed fishery for blue crab, 
stone crab, red crab, jonah crab, or spiny lobster) (50 CFR 622.2). The 
EFP would exempt these research activities from the regulation 
prohibiting the use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters of 
the Gulf and South Atlantic at 50 CFR 622.9(c), and would allow the 
applicant to use spiny lobster traps and other traps capable of taking 
fish to target lionfish.
    The applicant seeks an EFP to test the effectiveness of different 
trap designs in capturing lionfish in the Gulf and South Atlantic while 
avoiding impacts to non-target species, protected species, and 
habitats. One of the goals of the project is to determine the 
performance of traps as part of a lionfish population control program. 
Information gathered by the EFP could be used to increase efforts to 
control the spread of the population. The applicant also intends to 
sell harvested lionfish in partial support of the testing and also to 
explore the commercial viability of utilizing traps to harvest 
lionfish.
    NMFS is currently analyzing the effects of testing traps to target 
lionfish on the environment, including on Endangered Species Act (ESA)-
listed species and designated critical habitat, and other non-target 
species and habitat, in the Gulf and South Atlantic regions through a 
programmatic environmental assessment (PEA). The PEA includes 
alternatives that incorporate the proposed effort in this submitted EFP 
application and others that have been submitted, and accounts for 
additional expected effort associated with potential future EFP 
requests. NMFS expects to receive additional EFP requests to test the 
effectiveness of traps at targeting lionfish in the future and may 
authorize additional trap testing. The PEA will guide NMFS in 
developing permit conditions to minimize impacts to the environment, 
including any affected fisheries and ESA-listed species and designated 
critical habitat. NMFS also is consulting on the effects of authorizing 
trap testing under EFPs on ESA-listed species and designated critical 
habitat in accordance with Section 7 of the ESA.
    The specific EFP request noticed here is further described and 
summarized below.

Salty Bones Fisheries, Inc.

    Salty Bones Fisheries requests an EFP to deploy spiny lobster traps 
with a modified funnel and prototype non-containment purse traps 
developed by NOAA's National Ocean Service at reef sites in the Federal 
waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic to target lionfish. Two vessels 
would conduct trap testing trips in the Gulf and one vessel in the 
South Atlantic. Trap deployment in the Gulf would be off southwest 
Florida and generally between the latitudes of 24[deg] 28' N to 
25[deg]21' N and between longitudes 83[deg]00' W to 84[deg]00' W. In 
the South Atlantic, trap deployment would generally be off the Florida 
Keys between latitudes 24[deg]22.7' N to 24[deg]24' N and between 
longitudes 82[deg]07' W to 82[deg]34' W. These locations are current 
spiny lobster fishing grounds and are known areas of lionfish abundance 
to lobster trap fishers.
    As described in the application, the trap designs to be tested 
would be a wire basket spiny lobster trap with a modified funnel, a 
wood and wire spiny lobster trap with a modified funnel, and an 
experimental fish aggregation device based, non-containment purse trap. 
The two modified spiny lobster trap designs would have biodegradable 
trap panels and modified funnels of 3 by 6 inches (8 by 15 cm) that are 
slightly smaller in dimension than the funnel in a regular (non-
modified) lobster trap. Current project plans would deploy up to 3,000 
total modified spiny lobster traps at one time on the seafloor during 
the 2-year period of the project. Three vessels would each deploy 
approximately 500 of each of the two modified spiny lobster traps 
(1,000 total per vessel per trip) and up to 15 purse traps per trip in 
the project's first year and up to 40 total per vessel per trip the 
project's second year. The applicant expects to take up to four trips 
per vessel each month from April through July, weather permitting. 
Traps would be deployed via a trawl system with up to 40 traps being 
part of each trawl. Each trawl would use one buoyed vertical line to 
the surface. The applicant intends to deploy the purse traps by 
integrating them into the spiny lobster trawls. If the purse traps are 
proven functional and effective in catching lionfish with

[[Page 11731]]

minimal environmental impact in a mixed trap trawl configuration in the 
first year of the project, then the applicant may also test the 
practicality of deploying trawls with only the purse trap type in the 
following year. The depth of trap deployments is expected to be between 
150 to 300 ft (46 to 91 m). Trap soak time would range from 3 to 10 
days depending on trap type and location. Setting and hauling of the 
traps is expected to occur during daylight hours. Bait would only be 
used in the modified spiny lobster traps and would include cowhide and 
fish heads.
    Vessels to be used in the proposed study would be three federally 
permitted commercial fishing vessels. Vessel crew would be responsible 
for collecting detailed records during the sampling trips. Data to be 
collected per trip would include: Gear configuration and fishing effort 
data (e.g., date and time of deployment and retrieval, latitude, 
longitude, and water depth of each deployed trawl, bait type used); 
soak time per area for each trawl; alternative weight and trawl 
configurations used in different sea states and conditions; trap loss 
and movement from original set position; protected species 
interactions; bycatch species, amount, and disposition; and lionfish 
catch data for each trap type. Any fish species other than lionfish 
caught in the traps would be released once the traps are onboard the 
project vessels; only lionfish would be retained as part of the 
project. Retained lionfish would be sold on return to port.
    The applicant has requested the EFP be effective for a 2-year 
period from the date the EFP is issued.
    NMFS finds the application warrants further consideration based on 
a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on the 
permit, if granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition of 
conducting research within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, 
special management zones, or areas where they might interfere with 
managed fisheries without additional authorization. Additionally, NMFS 
may require special protections for ESA-listed species and designated 
critical habitat, and may require particular gear markings. A final 
decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS' review of public 
comments received on the application, consultations with the 
appropriate fishery management agencies of the affected states, 
Councils, the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that they are 
consistent with all applicable laws.

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

    Dated: March 12, 2018.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-05335 Filed 3-15-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P