Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 57, 12531-12551 [2018-05755]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS strengthens our economy, and new technologies and operational techniques may enhance safety. Thus, SPs provide a mechanism for testing and using new technologies, promoting increased transportation efficiency and productivity, and ensuring global competitiveness without compromising safety. SPs enable the hazardous materials industry to safely, quickly, and effectively integrate new products and technologies into production and the transportation stream. IV. Additional DOT Guidance PHMSA requests information related to the development and potential use of surface automated vehicles and the technologies that support them in hazardous materials transportation by highway or rail. For additional background on ADS for motor vehicles, PHMSA notes that DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidance in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety,2 on September 12, 2017. Further, NHTSA issued a notice [September 15, 2017; 82 FR 43321] making the public aware of the guidance and seeking comment. This voluntary guidance, among other things, describes the levels of ‘‘Automated Driving Systems’’ for onroad motor vehicles developed by SAE International (see SAE J3016, September 2016) and adopted by DOT. The SAE definitions divide vehicles into levels based on ‘‘who does what, when.’’ Generally: • At SAE Level 0, the driver does everything. • At SAE Level 1, an automated system on the vehicle can sometimes assist the driver conduct some parts of the driving task. • At SAE Level 2, an automated system on the vehicle can actually conduct some parts of the driving task, while the driver continues to monitor the driving environment and performs the rest of the driving task. • At SAE Level 3, an automated system can both actually conduct some parts of the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, but the driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests. • At SAE Level 4, an automated system can conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment, and the driver need not take back control, but the automated system can operate only in certain environments and under certain conditions. 2 See https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/ files/documents/13069a-ads2.0_090617_v9a_ tag.pdf VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 • At SAE Level 5, the automated system can perform all driving tasks, under all conditions that a driver could perform them. V. Questions PHMSA requests comments on the implications of the development, testing, and integration of automated technologies for surface modes (i.e., highway and rail) on both the HMR and the general transport of hazardous materials. Specifically, PHMSA asks: 1. What are the safety, regulatory, and policy implications of the design, testing, and integration of surface automated vehicles on the requirements in the HMR? Please include any potential solutions PHMSA should consider. 2. What are potential regulatory incompatibilities between the HMR and a future surface transportation system that incorporates automated vehicles? Specific HMR areas could include but are not limited to: (a) Emergency response information and hazard communication (b) Packaging and handling requirements, including pretransportation functions (c) Incident response and reporting (d) Safety and security plans (e.g., en route security) (e) Modal requirements (e.g., highway and rail) 3. Are there specific HMR requirements that would need modifications to become performancebased standards that can accommodate an automated vehicle operating in a surface transportation system? 4. What automated surface transportation technologies are under development that are expected to be relevant to the safe transport of hazardous materials, and how might they be used in a surface transportation system? 5. Under what circumstances do freight operators envision the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce using surface automated vehicles within the next 10 years? (a) To what extent do the HMR restrict the use of surface automated vehicles in the transportation of hazardous materials in non-bulk packaging in parcel delivery and less-than-truckload freight shipments by commercial motor vehicles? (b) To what extent do the HMR restrict the use of surface automated vehicles in the transportation of hazardous materials in bulk packaging by rail and commercial motor vehicles? 6. What issues do automated technologies raise in hazardous PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 12531 materials surface transportation that are not present for human drivers or operators that PHMSA should address? 7. Do HMR requirements that relate to the operation of surface automated vehicles carrying hazardous materials present different challenges than those that relate to ancillary tasks, such as inspections and packaging requirements? 8. What solutions could PHMSA consider to address potential future regulatory incompatibilities between the HMR and surface automated vehicle technologies? 9. What should PHMSA consider when reviewing applications for special permits seeking regulatory flexibility to allow for the transport of hazardous materials using automated technologies for surface modes? 10. When considering long-term solutions to challenges the HMR may present to the development, testing, and integration of surface automated vehicles, what information and other factors should PHMSA consider? 11. What should PHMSA consider when developing future policy, guidance, and regulations for the safe transportation of hazardous materials in surface transportation systems? Signed in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2018. Drue Pearce, Deputy Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. [FR Doc. 2018–05785 Filed 3–21–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–60–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 180110022–8022–01] RIN 0648–BH52 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 57 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: This action proposes approval of, and regulations to implement, Framework Adjustment 57 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule would set SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 12532 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules 2018–2020 catch limits for 20 multispecies (groundfish) stocks, adjust allocations for several fisheries, revise accountability measures, and make other minor changes to groundfish management measures. This action is necessary to respond to updated scientific information and achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The proposed measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management measures are based on the best scientific information available. DATES: Comments must be received by April 6, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0028, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20180028; 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon and complete the required fields; and 3. Enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on the Proposed Rule for Groundfish Framework Adjustment 57.’’ 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 us. 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). Copies of Framework Adjustment 57, including the draft Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council in support of this action are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: http:// www.nefmc.org/management-plans/ VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 northeast-multispecies or http:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Grant, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone: 978–281–9145; email: Mark.Grant@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents 1. Summary of Proposed Measures 2. Fishing Year 2018 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas 3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2018–2020 4. Default Catch Limits for Fishing Year 2021 5. Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations 6. Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages 7. Revisions to Atlantic Halibut Accountability Measures 8. Revisions to Southern Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measures for Non-Groundfish Trawl Vessels 9. Revision to the Southern New England/ Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder Accountability Measures for Scallop Vessels 10. Recreational Fishery Measures 11. Fishing Year 2018 Annual Measures Under Regional Administrator Authority 12. Administrative Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial Authority 1. Summary of Proposed Measures This action would implement the management measures in Framework Adjustment 57 (Framework 57) to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The New England Fishery Management Council deemed the proposed regulations necessary to implement Framework 57 in a March 14, 2018, letter from Council Chairman Dr. John Quinn to Regional Administrator Michael Pentony. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), we are required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. The MagnusonStevens Act allows us to approve, partially approve, or disapprove measures that the Council proposes based only on whether the measures are consistent with the fishery management plan, plan amendment, the MagnusonStevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Otherwise, we must defer to the Council’s policy choices. We are seeking comments on the Council’s proposed measures in Framework 57 and whether they are consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, the MagnusonStevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Through Framework 57, the Council proposes to: • Set fishing year 2018 shared U.S./ Canada quotas for Georges Bank (GB) PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 yellowtail flounder and Eastern GB cod and haddock; • Set 2018–2020 specifications for 20 groundfish stocks; • Revise the common pool trimester total allowable catch (TAC) allocations for several stocks; • Revise accountability measures (AM) for Atlantic halibut for vessels issued any Federal permit; • Revise AMs for southern windowpane flounder for nongroundfish trawl vessels; • Revise the trigger for the scallop fishery’s AM for Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail flounder; and • Grant the Regional Administrator authority to adjust recreational measures for GB cod. This action also proposes a number of other measures that are not part of Framework 57, but that may be, or are required to be, considered and implemented under our authority specified in the FMP. We are proposing these measures in conjunction with the Framework 57 proposed measures for expediency purposes, and because these measures are related to the catch limits proposed as part of Framework 57. The additional measures proposed in this action are listed below: • Management measures for the common pool fishery—this action proposes fishing year 2018 trip limits for the common pool fishery. • Adjustments for fishing year 2016 catch overages—this action would reduce the 2018 allocation of GB cod, Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod, and witch flounder due to catch limit overages that occurred in fishing year 2016. • Other regulatory corrections—we propose one administrative correction to address a minor rounding error in the regulations for the common pool trimester TACs. This proposed correction is described in the section ‘‘12. Regulatory Corrections.’’ 2. 2018 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Quotas Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks Eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are jointly managed with Canada under the United States/Canada Resource Sharing Understanding. The Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) is a government-industry committee made up of representatives from the United States and Canada. For historical information about the TMGC see: http://www.bio.gc.ca/info/intercol/ tmgc-cogst/index-en.php. Each year, the TMGC recommends a shared quota for E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules each stock based on the most recent stock information and the TMGC’s harvest strategy. The TMGC’s harvest strategy for setting catch levels is to maintain a low to neutral risk (less than 50 percent) of exceeding the fishing mortality limit for each stock. The harvest strategy also specifies that when stock conditions are poor, fishing mortality should be further reduced to promote stock rebuilding. The shared quotas are allocated between the United States and Canada based on a formula that considers historical catch (10percent weighting) and the current resource distribution (90-percent weighting). For GB yellowtail flounder, the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) also recommends an acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the stock, which is typically used to inform the U.S. TMGC’s discussions with Canada for the annual shared quota. Although the stock is jointly managed with Canada, and the TMGC recommends annual shared quotas, the Council may not set catch limits that would exceed the SSC’s recommendation. The SSC does not recommend ABCs for eastern GB cod and haddock because they are management units of the total GB cod and haddock stocks. The SSC recommends overall ABCs for the total GB cod and haddock stocks. The shared U.S./Canada quota for eastern GB cod and haddock is included in these 12533 overall ABCs, and must be consistent with the SSC’s recommendation for the total GB stocks. 2018 U.S./Canada Quotas The Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee conducted assessments for the three-transboundary stocks in July 2017, and detailed summaries of these assessments can be found at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/ saw/trac/. The TMGC met in September 2017 to recommend shared quotas for 2018 based on the updated assessments, and the Council adopted the TMGC’s recommendations in Framework 57. The proposed 2018 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country’s allocation, are listed in Table 1. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2018 FISHING YEAR U.S./CANADA QUOTAS (mt, LIVE WEIGHT) AND PERCENT OF QUOTA ALLOCATED TO EACH COUNTRY Eastern GB cod Quota daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Total Shared Quota ..................................................................................................................... U.S. Quota ................................................................................................................................... Canadian Quota ........................................................................................................................... The Council’s proposed 2018 U.S. quota for eastern GB haddock would be a 47-percent decrease compared to 2017. This decrease is due to a decrease in biomass and a reduction in the portion of the shared quota that is allocated to the United States. The Council’s proposed U.S. quota for eastern GB cod and GB yellowtail flounder would be a 76-percent and a 3-percent increase, respectively, compared to 2017, which are a result of increases in survey biomass and the portions of the shared quotas allocated to the United States. For a more detailed discussion of the TMGC’s 2018 catch advice, see the TMGC’s guidance document at: https:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/ sustainable/species/multispecies/ announcements/2017tmgcguiddoc.pdf. The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the U.S. quota in the following fishing year. If catch information for the 2017 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery exceeded its quota for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the respective U.S. quotas for the 2018 fishing year in a future management action, as close to May 1, 2018, as possible. If any fishery that is allocated a portion of the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation and causes an overage of the overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction would only be VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 applied to that fishery’s allocation in the following fishing year. This ensures that catch by one component of the overall fishery does not negatively affect another component of the overall fishery. An overage of the U.S. ABC of GB cod in 2016 is discussed in Section 6, Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages. 3. Catch Limits for the 2018–2020 Fishing Years Summary of the Proposed Catch Limits Tables 2 through 9 show the proposed catch limits for the 2018–2020 fishing years. A brief summary of how these catch limits were developed is provided below. More details on the proposed catch limits for each groundfish stock can be found in Appendix II (Calculation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Limits, FY 2018–FY 2020) to the Framework 57 Environmental Assessment (see ADDRESSES for information on how to get this document). Through Framework 57, the Council proposes to adopt catch limits for the 20 groundfish stocks for the 2018–2020 fishing years based on assessments completed in 2017. Catch limit increases are proposed for 11 stocks: GB and GOM cod, GOM haddock, GB and Cape Cod (CC)/GOM yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder, GB winter flounder, redfish, pollock, and wolffish. For a number of PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 951 257 (27%) 694 (73%) Eastern GB haddock 40,000 15,600 (39%) 24,400 (61%) GB yellowtail flounder 300 213 (71%) 87 (29%) stocks, the catch limits proposed in this action are lower than the catch limits set for the 2017 fishing year. Although some of these decreases are small, a 75percent reduction is proposed for SNE/ MA yellowtail flounder, and a 45percent reduction is proposed for GOM winter flounder. The ABC for Atlantic halibut is a decrease from 2017, but is not expected to reduce landings because updated discard mortality information will result in a reduction in mortality attributed to discards. Table 2 details the percent change in the 2018 catch limit compared to the 2017 fishing year. Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catches The overfishing limit (OFL) serves as the maximum amount of fish that can be caught in a year without resulting in overfishing. The OFL for each stock is calculated using the estimated stock size and FMSY (i.e., the fishing mortality rate that, if applied over the long term, would result in maximum sustainable yield). The OFL does not account for scientific uncertainty, so the SSC typically recommends an ABC that is lower than the OFL in order to account for this uncertainty. Usually, the greater the amount of scientific uncertainty, the lower the ABC is set compared to the OFL. For GB cod, GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder, the total ABC is then reduced by the amount of the Canadian quota (see Table 1 for the Canadian share of these stocks). E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12534 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules Additionally, although GB winter flounder and Atlantic halibut are not jointly managed with Canada, there is some Canadian catch of these stocks. Because the total ABC must account for all sources of fishing mortality, expected Canadian catch of GB winter flounder (45 mt) and Atlantic halibut (33 mt) is deducted from the total ABC. The U.S. ABC is the amount available to the U.S. fishery after accounting for Canadian catch. Based on the SSC’s recommendation, the Council recommended setting the OFL as unknown for GB yellowtail flounder, witch flounder, and Atlantic halibut. Empirical stock assessments are used for these three stocks, and these assessments can no longer provide quantitative estimates of the status determination criteria. In the temporary absence of an OFL, given recent catch data and estimated trends in stock biomass showing stability or improvement in stock conditions, we have preliminarily determined that these ABCs are a sufficient limit for preventing overfishing and are consistent with the National Standards. This action does not propose any changes to the status determination criteria for these stocks. During development of this action, we notified the Council that we are developing guidance on setting status determination criteria and relevant catch limits in cases when an empirical assessment cannot provide numerical estimates of traditional reference points. TABLE 2—PROPOSED FISHING YEARS 2018–2020 OVERFISHING LIMITS AND ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCHES [mt, live weight] 2018 Stock OFL GB Cod ............................... GOM Cod ............................ GB Haddock ........................ GOM Haddock .................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ....... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder. American Plaice .................. Witch Flounder .................... GB Winter Flounder ............ GOM Winter Flounder ......... SNE/MA Winter Flounder .... Redfish ................................ White Hake .......................... Pollock ................................. N. Windowpane Flounder ... S. Windowpane Flounder .... Ocean Pout ......................... Atlantic Halibut .................... Atlantic Wolffish ................... U.S. ABC Percent change from 2017 2019 OFL 2020 U.S. ABC OFL 3,047 938 94,274 16,954 UNK 90 662 1,591 703 48,714 13,131 213 68 511 139 41 ¥15 190 3 ¥75 20 3,047 938 99,757 16,038 UNK 90 736 2,285 703 48,714 12,490 300 68 511 3,047 938 100,825 13,020 UNK 90 848 2,260 UNK 1,083 596 1,228 15,451 3,885 51,680 122 631 169 UNK 120 1,732 993 810 447 727 11,552 2,938 40,172 92 473 127 104 90 30 13 7 ¥45 ¥7 5 ¥20 88 ¥49 ¥24 ¥23 ¥34 10 2,099 UNK 1,182 596 1,228 15,640 3,898 53,940 122 631 169 UNK 120 1,609 993 810 447 727 11,785 2,938 40,172 92 473 127 104 90 1,945 UNK 1,756 596 1,228 15,852 3,916 57,240 122 631 169 UNK 120 U.S. ABC 2,285 703 73,114 10,186 ........................ 68 511 1,492 993 810 447 727 11,942 2,938 40,172 92 473 127 104 90 SNE/MA = Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic; CC = Cape Cod; N = Northern; S = Southern. Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits will be set in a future action. Annual Catch Limits daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Development of Annual Catch Limits The U.S. ABC for each stock is divided among the various fishery components to account for all sources of fishing mortality. First, an estimate of catch expected from state waters and the ‘‘other’’ sub-component (e.g., nongroundfish fisheries or some recreational groundfish fisheries) is deducted from the U.S. ABC. These subcomponents are not subject to specific catch controls by the FMP. As a result, the state waters and other subcomponents are not allocations, and these sub-components of the fishery are not subject to AMs if the catch limits are exceeded. After the state and other subcomponents are deducted, the remaining portion of the U.S. ABC is distributed to the fishery components that receive an allocation for the stock. Components of the fishery that receive VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 an allocation are subject to AMs if they exceed their respective catch limit during the fishing year. Fishing year 2016 overages of the GB cod, GOM cod, and witch flounder allocations are discussed in detail in Section 6, Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages. Once the U.S. ABC is divided, subannual catch limits (sub-ACL) are set by reducing the amount of the ABC distributed to each component of the fishery to account for management uncertainty. Management uncertainty seeks to account for the possibility that management measures will result in a level of catch greater than expected. For each stock and fishery component, management uncertainty is estimated using the following criteria: enforceability and precision of management measures; adequacy of catch monitoring; latent effort; and whether the composition of catch PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 includes landings and discards, or is all discards. The total ACL is the sum of all of the sub-ACLs and state and other subcomponents, and is the catch limit for a particular year after accounting for both scientific and management uncertainty. Landings and discards from all fisheries (commercial and recreational groundfish fisheries, state waters, and non-groundfish fisheries) are counted against the ACL for each stock. Sector and Common Pool Allocations For stocks allocated to sectors, the commercial groundfish sub-ACL is further divided into the non-sector (common pool) sub-ACL and the sector sub-ACL, based on the total vessel enrollment in sectors and the cumulative potential sector contributions (PSC) associated with those sectors. The preliminary sector E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12535 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules and common pool sub-ACLs proposed in this action are based on fishing year 2018 PSCs and fishing year 2017 sector rosters. All permits enrolled in a sector, and the vessels associated with those permits, have until April 30, 2018, to withdraw from a sector and fish in the common pool for the 2018 fishing year. In addition to the enrollment delay, all permits that change ownership after December 1, 2017, may join a sector through April 30, 2018. We will publish final sector and common pool sub-ACLs based on final 2018 sector rosters as soon as possible after the start of the 2018 fishing year. These are adjusted later to reflect final sector enrollment. Common Pool Total Allowable Catches The common pool sub-ACL for each stock (except for SNE/MA winter flounder, windowpane flounder, ocean pout, Atlantic wolffish, and Atlantic halibut) is further divided into trimester TACs. The distribution of the common pool sub-ACLs into trimesters was adopted in Amendment 16 to the FMP (75 FR 18262; April 9, 2010) and was based on landing patterns at that time. Framework 57 proposes to revise the apportionment of TACs among the trimesters (discussed in detail in Section 5, Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations). Once we project that 90 percent of the trimester TAC is caught for a stock, the trimester TAC area for that stock is closed for the remainder of the trimester. The closure applies to all common pool vessels fishing on a groundfish trip with gear capable of catching the pertinent stock. Any uncaught portion of the TAC in Trimester 1 or Trimester 2 is carried forward to the next trimester. Overages of the Trimester 1 or Trimester 2 TAC are deducted from the Trimester 3 TAC. Any overages of the total common pool sub-ACL are deducted from the following fishing year’s common pool sub-ACL for that stock. Uncaught portions of any trimester TAC may not be carried over into the following fishing year. Table 6 summarizes the common pool trimester TACs proposed in this action. These trimester TACs are based on the proposed changes to the apportionment of the common pool subACL among the trimesters that are also included in this action. Incidental catch TACs are also specified for certain stocks of concern (i.e., stocks that are overfished or subject to overfishing) for common pool vessels fishing in the special management programs (i.e., special access programs (SAP) and the Regular B Days-at-Sea (DAS) Program), in order to limit the catch of these stocks under each program. Tables 7 through 9 summarize the proposed Incidental Catch TACs for each stock and the distribution of these TACs to each special management program. Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP Overall fishing effort by both common pool and sector vessels in the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP is controlled by an overall TAC for GB haddock, which is the target species for this SAP. The GB haddock TAC for the SAP is based on the amount allocated to this SAP for the 2004 fishing year (1,130 mt) and adjusted according to the growth or decline of the western GB haddock biomass in relationship to its size in 2004. Based on this formula, the Council’s proposed GB Haddock TAC for this SAP is 2,511 mt for the 2018 fishing year. Once this overall TAC is caught, the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP will be closed to all groundfish vessels for the remainder of the fishing year. TABLE 3—PROPOSED CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2018 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Total ACL daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Stock GB Cod ................. GOM Cod .............. GB Haddock .......... GOM Haddock ...... GB Yellowtail Flounder ............. SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ............. CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ............. American Plaice .... Witch Flounder ...... GB Winter Flounder ...................... GOM Winter Flounder ...................... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............. Redfish .................. White Hake ............ Pollock ................... N. Windowpane Flounder ............. S. Windowpane Flounder ............. Ocean Pout ........... Atlantic Halibut ...... Atlantic Wolffish ..... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Groundfish sub-ACL Preliminary sector sub-ACL Preliminary common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent 1,519 666 46,312 12,409 1,360 610 44,659 12,097 1,335 377 44,348 8,643 25 13 311 95 ........................ 220 ........................ 3,358 ................ ................ 680 122 ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 16 47 487 95 143 9 487 95 206 169 167 3 ........................ ................ 33.1 4.0 0.0 0.0 66 42 34 8 ........................ ................ 4 .................... 2 17 490 1,649 948 398 1,580 849 381 1,550 830 18 29 19 ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... 51 35 40 41 35 60 787 731 725 6 ........................ ................ ................ .................... 0 57 428 357 339 18 ........................ ................ ................ .................... 67 4 700 10,986 2,794 38,204 518 10,755 2,735 37,400 456 10,696 2,713 37,163 62 59 22 237 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 73 116 29 402 109 116 29 402 86 63 na 63 ........................ ................ 18 .................... 2 3 457 120 100 84 53 94 77 82 na na na na 53 94 77 82 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 158 ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 28 3 21 1 218 23 2 1 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12536 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 4—PROPOSED CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2019 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Total ACL Stock GB Cod ................. GOM Cod .............. GB Haddock .......... GOM Haddock ...... GB Yellowtail Flounder ............. SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ............. CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ............. American Plaice .... Witch Flounder ...... GB Winter Flounder ...................... GOM Winter Flounder ...................... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............. Redfish .................. White Hake ............ Pollock ................... N. Windowpane Flounder ............. S. Windowpane Flounder ............. Ocean Pout ........... Atlantic Halibut ...... Atlantic Wolffish ..... Groundfish sub-ACL Preliminary sector sub-ACL Preliminary common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent 2,182 666 46,312 11,803 1,954 610 44,659 11,506 1,918 377 44,348 8,222 36 13 311 90 ........................ 220 ........................ 3,194 ................ ................ 680 116 ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 23 47 487 91 206 9 487 91 291 239 235 4 ........................ ................ 47 6 0 0 66 32 26 6 ........................ ................ 15 .................... 2 17 490 1,532 948 398 1,467 849 381 1,440 830 18 27 19 ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... 51 32 40 41 32 60 787 731 725 6 ........................ ................ ................ .................... 0 57 428 357 339 18 ........................ ................ ................ .................... 67 4 700 11,208 2,794 38,204 518 10,972 2,735 37,400 456 10,911 2,713 37,163 62 60 22 237 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 73 118 29 402 109 118 29 402 86 63 ........................ 63 ........................ ................ 18 .................... 2 3 457 120 100 84 53 94 77 82 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 53 94 77 82 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 158 ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 28 3 21 1 218 23 2 1 TABLE 5—PROPOSED CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2020 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent 36 13 467 74 ........................ 220 ........................ 2,605 ................ ................ 1,020 95 ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 23 47 731 74 206 9 731 74 ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 31 25 6 ........................ ................ 16 .................... 2 17 490 1,420 948 787 428 398 1,361 849 731 357 381 1,335 830 725 339 18 25 19 6 18 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 51 30 40 0 67 41 30 60 57 4 700 11,357 2,794 38,204 518 11,118 2,735 37,400 456 11,057 2,713 37,163 62 61 22 237 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 73 119 29 402 109 119 29 402 86 63 ........................ 63 ........................ ................ ................ .................... 2 3 457 120 100 84 53 94 77 82 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 53 94 77 82 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 158 ................ ................ ................ .................... .................... .................... .................... 28 3 21 1 218 23 2 1 Total ACL GB Cod ..................... GOM Cod .................. GB Haddock .............. GOM Haddock .......... GB Yellowtail Flounder .......................... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................. CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ................. American Plaice ........ Witch Flounder .......... GB Winter Flounder .. GOM Winter Flounder SNE/MA Winter Flounder ................. Redfish ...................... White Hake ................ Pollock ....................... N. Windowpane Flounder ................. S. Windowpane Flounder ................. Ocean Pout ............... Atlantic Halibut .......... Atlantic Wolffish ......... daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Groundfish sub-ACL Preliminary sector sub-ACL Stock 2,182 666 69,509 9,626 1,954 610 67,027 9,384 1,918 377 66,560 6,705 ............ .................... 66 Preliminary common pool sub-ACL TABLE 6—PROPOSED FISHING YEARS 2018–2020 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS [mt, live weight] 2018 Stock Trimester 1 GB Cod ...................... GOM Cod ................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 2019 Trimester 2 7.0 6.2 Jkt 244001 8.5 4.2 PO 00000 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 9.6 2.3 Frm 00033 Trimester 2 10.1 6.2 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 12.3 4.2 2020 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 13.7 2.3 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 10.1 6.2 22MRP1 Trimester 2 12.3 4.2 Trimester 3 13.7 2.3 12537 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 6—PROPOSED FISHING YEARS 2018–2020 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS—Continued [mt, live weight] 2018 Stock Trimester 1 GB Haddock ............... GOM Haddock ........... GB Yellowtail Flounder SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder .................. CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder .................. American Plaice ......... Witch Flounder ........... GB Winter Flounder ... GOM Winter Flounder Redfish ....................... White Hake ................. Pollock ........................ 2019 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 2020 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 84.0 25.6 0.5 102.6 24.7 0.8 124.4 44.6 1.3 84.0 24.4 0.7 102.6 23.5 1.1 124.4 42.4 1.9 126.1 19.9 .................. 154.1 19.1 .................. 186.7 34.6 .................. 1.7 2.3 4.2 1.3 1.7 3.2 1.3 1.7 3.1 10.0 21.8 10.4 0.5 6.5 14.8 8.3 66.4 4.6 2.4 3.8 1.4 6.7 18.4 6.8 83.0 3.0 5.3 4.7 4.1 4.4 26.1 6.8 87.7 10.0 20.3 10.4 0.5 6.5 15.1 8.3 66.4 4.6 2.2 3.8 1.4 6.7 18.7 6.8 83.0 3.0 4.9 4.7 4.1 4.4 26.6 6.8 87.7 10.0 18.8 10.4 0.5 6.5 15.3 8.3 66.4 4.6 2.0 3.8 1.4 6.7 19.0 6.8 83.0 3.0 4.6 4.7 4.1 4.4 27.0 6.8 87.7 Note. An empty cell indicates that no catch limit has been set yet for these stocks. These catch limits will be set in a future management action. TABLE 7—PROPOSED COMMON POOL INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR THE 2018–2020 FISHING YEARS [mt, live weight] Percentage of common pool sub-ACL Stock GB Cod ............................................................................................................ GOM Cod ......................................................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder .................................................................................... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ........................................................................... American Plaice ............................................................................................... Witch Flounder ................................................................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ................................................................................ 2018 2 1 2 1 5 5 1 2019 0.50 0.13 0.05 0.18 1.47 0.95 0.62 2020 0.72 0.13 0.07 0.18 1.37 0.95 0.62 0.72 0.13 0.00 0.18 1.27 0.95 0.62 TABLE 8—PERCENTAGE OF INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS DISTRIBUTED TO EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM Regular B DAS program Stock GB Cod ........................................................................................................................................ GOM Cod ..................................................................................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ................................................................................................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ...................................................................................................... American Plaice ........................................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ............................................................................................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............................................................................................................ White Hake .................................................................................................................................. 50 100 50 100 100 100 100 100 Closed area I hook gear haddock SAP Eastern US/CA haddock SAP 16 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 34 ........................ 50 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ TABLE 9—PROPOSED FISHING YEARS 2018–2020 INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM [mt, live weight] Regular B DAS program Closed area I hook gear haddock SAP Eastern U.S./Canada haddock SAP Stock daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 2018 GB Cod ........................................ GOM Cod ..................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ....... American Plaice ........................... Witch Flounder ............................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............ VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 2019 0.25 0.13 0.03 0.18 1.47 0.95 0.62 PO 00000 0.36 0.13 0.04 0.18 1.37 0.95 0.62 Frm 00034 2020 0.36 0.13 0.00 0.18 1.27 0.95 0.62 Fmt 4702 2018 0.08 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Sfmt 4702 2019 0.12 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2020 2018 0.12 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 0.17 n/a 0.03 n/a n/a n/a n/a 2019 0.25 n/a 0.04 n/a n/a n/a n/a 2020 0.25 n/a 0.00 n/a n/a n/a n/a 12538 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules 4. Default Catch Limits for the 2021 Fishing Year Framework 53 established a mechanism for setting default catch limits in the event a future management action is delayed. If final catch limits have not been implemented by the start of a fishing year on May 1, then default catch limits are set at 35 percent of the previous year’s catch limit, effective until July 31 of that fishing year, or when replaced by new catch limits. If this value exceeds the Council’s recommendation for the upcoming fishing year, the default catch limits will be reduced to an amount equal to the Council’s recommendation for the upcoming fishing year. Because groundfish vessels are not able to fish if final catch limits have not been implemented, this measure was established to prevent disruption to the groundfish fishery. Additional description of the default catch limit mechanism is provided in the preamble to the Framework 53 final rule (80 FR 25110; May 1, 2015). The default catch limits for 2021 are shown in Table 10. The default limits would become effective May 1, 2021, until replaced by final specifications, although they will remain in effect through no later no later than July 31, 2021. The preliminary sector and common pool sub-ACLs in Table 10 are based on existing 2017 sector rosters, and will be adjusted for new specifications beginning in fishing year 2021 based on rosters from the 2020 fishing year. In addition, prior to the start of the 2021 fishing year, we will evaluate whether any of the default catch limits announced in this rule exceed the Council’s recommendations for 2021. If necessary, we will announce adjustments prior to May 1, 2021. TABLE 10—DEFAULT SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE 2021 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Stock U.S. ABC daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS GOM Cod ................................................. GB Haddock ............................................. GOM Haddock ......................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ............................ SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder .................... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ................... American Plaice ....................................... Witch Flounder ......................................... GB Winter Flounder ................................. GOM Winter Flounder .............................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ........................ Redfish ..................................................... White Hake .............................................. Pollock ...................................................... N. Windowpane Flounder ........................ S. Windowpane Flounder ........................ Ocean Pout .............................................. Atlantic Halibut ......................................... Atlantic Wolffish ....................................... 800 246 25,590 3,565 0 24 179 522 348 284 156 254 4,180 1,028 14,060 32 166 44 36 5. Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations As discussed above in Section 3, Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2018– 2020, the common pool sub-ACL for each stock (except for SNE/MA winter flounder, windowpane flounder, ocean pout, Atlantic wolffish, and Atlantic halibut) is further divided into trimester TACs. The percentages of the common pool sub-ACL allocated to each trimester, as determined in Amendment 16, are shown in Table 11. The Council developed this initial distribution based on recent fishing effort at the time after considering the influence of regulatory changes on recent landings patterns. Amendment 16 specified that the Groundfish sub-ACL Total ACL 764 233 24,328 3,369 0 23 172 497 332 276 150 245 3,975 978 13,371 30 160 42 35 684 213 23,460 3,284 0 11 139 476 297 256 125 181 3,891 957 13,090 22 18 33 27 trimester TAC apportionment could be adjusted on a biennial basis with specifications based on the most recent 5-year period available. Framework 57 would grant the Regional Administrator authority to modify the trimester TAC apportionments, for stocks that have experienced early closures in Trimester 1 or 2, on a biennial basis using the process specified in Amendment 16. Framework 57 proposes to revise the apportionment of the common pool subACL among the trimesters, using the calculation method specified in Amendment 16, for stocks that have experienced early closure in Trimester 1 or 2 since the 2010 fishing year. The stocks that meet these criteria are: GB Preliminary sector sub-ACL Preliminary common pool sub-ACL 671 132 23,296 2,347 0 9 133 467 291 254 119 160 3,870 950 13,007 0 0 0 0 13 4 163 26 0 2 6 9 7 2 6 22 21 8 83 22 18 33 27 Midwater trawl fishery ........................ ........................ 1,020 95 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ cod; GOM cod; SNE/MA yellowtail flounder; Cape Cod/GOM yellowtail flounder; American plaice; and witch flounder. The Trimester 1 portion of the sub-ACL for each of these stocks would increase, with the exception of SNE/MA yellowtail, which remains unchanged. The trimester 2 portion of the sub-ACL for each of these stocks would be reduced. The trimester 3 portion of the TAC would be unchanged for GB cod; increased for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder; and decreased for GOM cod, Cape Cod/GOM yellowtail flounder, American plaice, and witch flounder. The proposed trimester TAC apportionments for these stocks are shown in Table 12. TABLE 11—TRIMESTER TAC APPORTIONMENTS SET IN AMENDMENT 16 Trimester 1 (percent) Stock GB Cod ........................................................................................................................................ GOM Cod ..................................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 25 27 22MRP1 Trimester 2 (percent) 37 36 Trimester 3 (percent) 38 37 12539 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 11—TRIMESTER TAC APPORTIONMENTS SET IN AMENDMENT 16—Continued Trimester 1 (percent) Stock GB Haddock ................................................................................................................................ GOM Haddock ............................................................................................................................. GB Yellowtail ............................................................................................................................... SNE/MA Yellowtail ....................................................................................................................... CC/GOM Yellowtail ...................................................................................................................... American Plaice ........................................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ............................................................................................................................. GB Winter .................................................................................................................................... GOM Winter ................................................................................................................................. Redfish ......................................................................................................................................... White Hake .................................................................................................................................. Pollock ......................................................................................................................................... Trimester 2 (percent) 27 27 19 21 35 24 27 8 37 25 38 28 33 26 30 37 35 36 31 24 38 31 31 35 Trimester 3 (percent) 40 47 52 42 30 40 42 69 25 44 31 37 TABLE 12—PROPOSED REVISIONS TO TRIMESTER TAC APPORTIONMENTS Trimester 1 (percent) Stock GB Cod ........................................................................................................................................ GOM Cod ..................................................................................................................................... SNE/MA Yellowtail ....................................................................................................................... CC/GOM Yellowtail ...................................................................................................................... American Plaice ........................................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ............................................................................................................................. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 6. Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages If the overall ACL is exceeded due to catch from vessels fishing in state waters outside of the FMP or from vessels fishing in non-groundfish fisheries that do not receive an allocation, the overage is distributed to the components of the fishery with an allocation. If a fishery component’s catch and its share of the ACL overage exceed the component’s allocation, then the applicable AMs must be implemented. In the case of the commercial groundfish fishery, the AMs require a reduction of the sector or common pool sub-ACL following an overage. In fishing year 2016, the overall ACL was exceeded for GOM cod and witch flounder, and the U.S. ABC was exceeded for GB cod (Table 13). This proposed rule includes a description of fishing year 2016 catch overages and required adjustments to fishing year 2018 allocations. These adjustments are not part of Framework 57. We are including them in conjunction with Framework 57 proposed measures for expediency purposes, and because they relate to the catch limits proposed in Framework 57. Total GB cod catch exceeded the total ACL and U.S. ABC due to a minor overage by the common pool (2.8 mt) VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 and higher than expected catches by the state and other sub-components. Sectors did not fully harvest their allocation. The overage of the common pool subACL has already been addressed, as required, through a reduction of the 2017 common pool sub-ACL (82 FR 51778; November 8, 2017). The remaining overage (166 mt) must be paid back by the common pool and sectors in proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery ACL. The sector sub-ACL underage in 2016 reduces the adjustment to the 2018 sector sub-ACL. No other fishery has an allocation of GB cod, and as a result, this overage is distributed only to sectors and the common pool. Total GOM cod catch exceeded the total ACL due to an overage by the recreational fishery and higher than expected catch by the state subcomponent. Both the sector and common pool sub-ACLs were underharvested. The recreational fishery’s overage of its 2016 sub-ACL has been addressed by a change in recreational fishery management measures as an AM for fishing year 2017 (82 FR 35457; July 31, 2017). The remaining overage (50 mt) due to state waters catch must be distributed among the common pool, sectors, and the recreational fishery in proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery ACL. The commercial fishery PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 28 49 21 57 74 55 Trimester 2 (percent) 34 33 28 26 8 20 Trimester 3 (percent) 38 18 51 17 18 25 AM for overages is a pound-for-pound payback that results in a deduction of the overage amount from the fishing year 2018 commercial fishery sub-ACLs. The sector and common pool sub-ACL underages in 2016 reduce the adjustment to the 2018 sector and common pool sub-ACLs. The portion of the overage allocated to the recreational fishery does not result in a pound-forpound reduction of that sub-ACL. Rather, the recreational AM requires management measures for fishing year 2018 to be adjusted to address the overage. Total witch flounder catch exceeded the total ACL due to higher than expected catch from vessels fishing in state waters outside of the FMP. Both the sector and common pool sub-ACLs were underharvested. Only the commercial groundfish fishery has an allocation for this stock, so the remaining overage (38 mt) must be paid back by the common pool and sectors in proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery ACL. The sector and common pool sub-ACL underages in 2016 reduce the adjustment to the 2018 sector and common pool sub-ACLs. Each sub-component’s payback amounts for these stocks is shown in Table 14. Revised 2017 allocations, incorporating these payback amounts, for these stocks are shown in Table 15. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12540 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 13—2016 ABCS, ACLS, CATCH, AND OVERAGES [mt, live weight] Stock U.S. ABC GB Cod ................................................................................ GOM Cod ............................................................................. Witch Flounder ..................................................................... Total ACL 762 500 878 730 473 441 Catch Overage 1,132.1 633.7 460.3 402.1 160.7 19.3 Amount to be paid back 165.97 37.66 19.20 TABLE 14—2016 PAYBACK AMOUNTS [mt, live weight] Stock Total GB Cod ............................................................................................................ GOM Cod ......................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ................................................................................................. 402.1 160.7 19.3 Sector 162.57 21.05 19.15 Common pool 3.40 0.00 0.05 Recreational n/a 16.61 n/a Note: ‘‘n/a’’ indicates that the stock is not allocated to that sub-component of the fishery. A value of 0.00 indicates that no payback is required. TABLE 15—REVISED 2018 ALLOCATIONS [mt, live weight] Stock Total ACL daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS GB Cod .................................................... GOM Cod ................................................. Witch Flounder ......................................... 1,519 666 948 7. Revisions to Atlantic Halibut Accountability Measures The FMP includes two reactive AMs for Atlantic halibut that affect the Federal commercial groundfish fishery. If the Atlantic halibut ACL is exceeded by an amount greater than the uncertainty buffer (i.e., the ABC is exceeded), then commercial groundfish vessels are prohibited from retaining Atlantic halibut and several gearrestricted areas are implemented for commercial groundfish vessels (Figure 1). When the Atlantic halibut AM is triggered, trawl vessels fishing in the Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area may only use a haddock separator trawl, a Ruhle trawl, a rope separator trawl, or other approved gear. When in effect, groundfish vessels with gillnet or longline gear may not fish or be in the Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Areas, unless transiting with gear stowed or using approved gear. Framework 57 would extend the zeropossession AM to all Federal permit holders (including federally-permitted scallop, lobster, and highly migratory species general category vessels). Vessels issued only a Northeast VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 Initial preliminary sector subACL Groundfish sub-ACL 1,360 610 849 1,335.17 376.92 830.09 multispecies charter/party permit, an Atlantic highly migratory species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory species charter/ headboat permit would be exempt from the zero-possession AM. Dealer data documents that federally-permitted vessels on non-groundfish trips, especially commercial vessels with lobster and highly migratory species permits, land significant amounts of halibut. The intent of expanding the AM is to reduce the catch of halibut by federally-permitted vessels not currently subject to the AM and to facilitate enforcement of Federal fishery limits. It is difficult to enforce the prohibition of possession at sea when some federallypermitted vessels can possess Atlantic halibut in state waters. Prohibiting all federally-permitted vessels from possessing Atlantic halibut can be enforced at the dock as well as at sea. This is designed to ensure a reduction in directed fishing effort by federallypermitted vessels that is expected to increase the probability that catch will be below the ACL. Framework 57 would also modify the gear-restricted AM areas for Federal PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Revised preliminary sector subACL 1,172.61 355.87 810.94 Initial preliminary common pool sub-ACL 25.13 12.73 18.93 Revised preliminary common pool sub-ACL 21.73 unchanged 18.88 groundfish vessels using updated information. Based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas, the areas would be modified by allowing access to places and times where Atlantic halibut encounter rates are low, and protect areas and times where encounter rates are highest. This would allow groundfish trawl and fixed gear vessels additional flexibility while continuing to reduce catch of halibut when the AMs are triggered (Figure 2). Framework 57 would eliminate the Fixed Gear AM Area 1 on Stellwagen Bank; exempt longline gear from Fixed Gear AM Area 2 on Platts Bank; allow gillnet gear in Fixed Gear AM Area 2 from November through February; and allow standard trawl gear in the Trawl Gear AM Area between 41 degrees 40 minutes N latitude and 42 degrees N latitude from April through July (see dashed line in Figure 2). These modifications would likely have minimal impacts on the Atlantic halibut stock due to the low encounter rates and low catch rates in the seasons and areas included, and would preserve fishing opportunities for vessels targeting other species. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules 12541 Figure 1. Map of Existing Atlantic Halibut AM Areas 71'W 69"W 70"W 68'W Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area Closed Area Habitat Closed Area VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 69'W 70"W Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 68'W 22MRP1 EP22MR18.002</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 71"W Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 8. Revisions to Southern Windowpane Flounder AMs for Non-Groundfish Trawl Vessels The southern windowpane flounder AMs are gear restricted areas that affect groundfish trawl vessels and nongroundfish trawl vessels using a codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 cm) or greater (see Figure 3). This includes vessels that target summer flounder, scup, and skates. The AM for large-mesh non-groundfish fisheries is VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 implemented if the total ACL is exceeded by more than the management uncertainty buffer and catch by the other sub-component exceeds what was expected. When the AM is triggered, large-mesh non-groundfish vessels fishing with trawl gear with codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 cm) or greater are required to use selective trawl gear to minimize the catch of flatfish in the AM areas. Approved gears include the separator trawl, Ruhle trawl, mini-Ruhle trawl, and rope trawl, which PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 are inefficient at catching the species targeted by the non-groundfish largemesh trawl fleet. The FMP includes several provisions that allow a reduction in the size and duration of the AM for groundfish vessels if certain stock status criteria are met. Framework 57 would extend similar provisions to the large mesh non-groundfish fleet and modify the current gear restricted areas that would apply to the non-groundfish fleet when an AM is triggered. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 EP22MR18.003</GPH> 12542 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules Framework 57 would scale the size of the AM areas based on the condition of the stock and catch in the year after the overage. Similar to the AM for the groundfish fishery, when the stock is rebuilt and the biomass criterion (defined below) is greater than the fishing year catch, the AM areas may be adjusted to reflect these conditions. Based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas, Framework 57 would reduce the size of the AM areas and shorten the seasons for non-groundfish trawl vessels using a 5-inch (12.7-cm) mesh or greater cod end. These modifications would allow additional flexibility for affected vessels while continuing to reduce impacts on the southern windowpane stock, similar to provisions already implemented for the groundfish fishery. When the large AM area has been triggered, we would then determine whether the following criteria are met: (1) The stock is rebuilt; and (2) The biomass criterion is greater than the fishing year catch. Framework 57 defines the biomass criterion as the 3-year centered average of the 3 most recent surveys multiplied by 75 percent of the FMSY of the most recent assessment. FMSY is the fishing mortality rate that, if applied over the long term, would result in maximum sustainable yield. If we determine that these criteria are met, the small AM area would be implemented rather than the large AM area. This AM trigger would better VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 account for the uncertainty associated with this index-based stock because it would evaluate an overage in the context of the biomass and exploitation trends in the stock assessment. As explained in the EA, using survey information to determine the size of the AM is appropriate because windowpane flounder is assessed with an indexbased method, possession is prohibited, and the ABCs and ACLs are not based on a projection that accounts for possible increases in biomass over time. This change would minimize the economic impacts of the AM for a rebuilt stock, while still correcting for any overage and mitigating potential biological consequences. AMs for southern windowpane flounder. Because of this delay, it is possible that, although an overage occurs in year 1, a subsequent overage may not occur in year 2. If an overage does not occur in year 2, implementing an AM for the entire duration of year 3 may not be necessary. An underage in year 2, coupled with an AM for at least 4 months of year 3, would sufficiently correct and mitigate any overage for southern windowpane flounder, while continuing to provide an incentive to avoid future overages. This proposed provision is similar to provisions already implemented for the groundfish fishery. Reducing the Duration of the AM Modification of the Gear-Restricted Areas This action also proposes to grant the Regional Administrator authority to remove the southern windowpane flounder AM early for non-groundfish trawl vessels if certain criteria are met. If an overage in year 1 triggers the AM for year 3, and we determine that the applicable windowpane flounder ACL was not exceeded in year 2, then the Regional Administrator would be authorized to remove the AM on or after September 1 once year-end data for year 2 are complete. This reduced duration would not occur if we determine during year 3 that a year 3 overage of the southern windowpane flounder ACL has occurred. Final year-end catch data are not available until several months after the end of the fishing year, which results in delayed implementation of Framework 57 would revise the area and season of the AM areas for nongroundfish trawl vessels using a codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 cm) or greater based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas using recent data (see Figure 4). The geographic area of the small AM area would remain unchanged, but the AM would be in effect from September through April, rather than the whole year. The large AM area south of Long Island would remain unchanged, but the large AM area east of Long Island would shrink to a smaller geographic area made up of the small AM area and the eastern most 10-minute square of the current large AM area. Both large AM areas would be closed year-round when triggered. These changes would not affect the AM PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 EP22MR18.004</GPH> daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Reducing the Size of the AM 12543 12544 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules additional opportunities for the nongroundfish fleet to pursue target stocks, while still maintaining the necessary conservation benefits of the AMs. For fishing year 2018, the AM for the scallop fishery’s sub-ACL would be triggered only if the scallop fishery’s sub-ACL and the overall ACL for the stock is exceeded. Framework 57 would reduce the 2018 SNE/MA yellowtail flounder ABC by 75 percent when compared to 2017. Overfishing occurs when the overfishing limit is exceeded and is likely to occur only if the total ACL is exceeded, which would trigger the AM to prevent subsequent ACL overages and correct the cause of the overage. The intent of this change to the trigger is to provide flexibility for the scallop fishery to better achieve optimal yield, despite a reduction in the ACL, while continuing to prevent overfishing. To align with changes to the AM triggers for GB yellowtail flounder and northern windowpane flounder, and to reduce the potential risk for the groundfish fishery, this change would be effective for 1 year. Amendment 16. The current recreational minimum size for GB cod is 22 inches (55.9 cm), and private recreational vessels have a possession limit of 10 fish per person per day. There is no possession limit for charter or party vessels. The recreational fishery does not have an allocation of GB cod, and as a result, no AMs apply to this fishery in the event of an ACL overage. The Council must undertake an action (amendment or framework adjustment) to make changes to the recreational measures. In response to increasing recreational catch in recent years and unusually high recreational catch in 2016 that contributed to an ACL overage, the Council calculated a recreational catch target for GB cod of 138 mt for 2018– 2020. This catch target was calculated using the average catch (landings and discards) of the most recent 5 calendar years included in the GB cod stock assessment. This catch target was used in setting the values of the state and other sub-components (see Appendix II of the EA). To prevent future overages of the GB cod ACL, Framework 57 would give the Regional Administrator authority to set recreational measures for fishing years 2018 and 2019 to prevent the catch target from being The scallop fishery is allocated subACLs for four stocks: GB yellowtail flounder; SNE/MA yellowtail flounder; northern windowpane flounder; and southern windowpane flounder. These allocations are made to manage the scallop fishery’s bycatch of these stocks and mitigate potential negative impacts to the groundfish fishery. Framework 47 (77 FR 26104; May 2, 2012) established a policy for triggering scallop fishery AMs. The AMs are triggered if the scallop fishery either exceeds its subACL for a stock and the overall ACL for that stock is exceeded, or the scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL for a stock by 50 or more percent. Framework 56 (82 FR 35660; August 1, 2017) made a change to this policy for GB yellowtail flounder and northern windowpane flounder to remove the second trigger for the 2017 and 2018 fishing years. Thus, the AMs for GB yellowtail flounder and northern windowpane flounder are triggered only if the scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL and the overall ACL is exceeded. Framework 57 would expand that change to the SNE/ MA yellowtail flounder stock for the 2018 fishing year. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 10. Recreational Fishery Measures GB cod is not allocated to the recreational fishery. Instead, a catch target is set. Recreational fishery management measures were designed and put in place to control recreational catch. The Council set the recreational measures for GB cod in 2010 through PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 EP22MR18.005</GPH> flounder stock because of the low bycatch ratios documented in the areas that would no longer be closed. The revised areas are intended to provide 9. Revision to the SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder AMs for Scallop Vessels daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS areas applicable to groundfish trawl vessels. Based on recent data, these modifications are likely to have minimal impacts on the southern windowpane Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules exceeded. After consultation with the Council, any changes to recreational measures would be made consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. This action only proposes to grant the Regional Administrator authority to change recreational management measures for GB cod. However, no changes to recreational measures are included in this action. A separate rulemaking expected in March 2018 will consider GOM cod and haddock and GB cod recreational management measures for the 2018 fishing year. 11. Fishing Year 2018 Annual Measures Under Regional Administrator Regulatory Authority The FMP and its implementing regulations gives the Regional Administrator authority to implement certain types of management measures for the common pool fishery, the U.S./ Canada Management Area, and Special Management Programs on an annual basis, or as needed. This proposed rule includes a description of these management measures that are being considered for the 2018 fishing year to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on whether the proposed measures are appropriate. These measures are not part of Framework 57, and were not specifically proposed by the Council. We are proposing them in conjunction with Framework 57 measures in this action for expediency purposes, and because they relate to the catch limits proposed in Framework 57. Common Pool Trip Limits Tables 16 and 17 provide a summary of the current common pool trip limits for fishing year 2017 and the initial trip limits proposed for fishing year 2018. The proposed 2018 trip limits were developed after considering changes to the common pool sub-ACLs and potential sector enrollment, proposed trimester TACs for 2018, catch rates of each stock during 2017, and other available information. The default cod trip limit is 300 lb (136 kg) for Handgear A vessels and 75 lb (34 kg) for Handgear B vessels. If the GOM or GB cod landing limit for vessels fishing on a groundfish DAS drops below 300 lb (136 kg), then the respective Handgear A cod trip limit must be reduced to the same limit. Similarly, the Handgear B trip limit must be adjusted proportionally (rounded up to the nearest 25 lb (11 kg)) to the DAS limit. This action proposes a GOM cod landing limit of 50 lb (23 kg) per DAS for vessels fishing on a groundfish DAS, which is 94 percent lower than the default limit specified in 12545 the regulations for these vessels (800 lb (363 kg) per DAS). As a result, the proposed Handgear A trip limit for GOM cod would be reduced to 50 lb (23 kg) per trip, and the proposed Handgear B trip limit for GOM cod would be maintained at 25 lb (11 kg) per trip. This action proposes a GB cod landing limit of 100 lb (45 kg) per DAS for vessels fishing on a groundfish DAS, which is 95 percent lower than the 2,000-lb (907kg) per DAS default limit specified in the regulations for these vessels. As a result, the proposed Handgear A trip limit for GB cod would be 100 lb (45 kg) per trip, and the proposed Handgear B trip limit for GB cod would be 25 lb (11 kg) per trip. Vessels with a Small Vessel category permit can possess up to 300 lb (136 kg) of cod, haddock, and yellowtail, combined, per trip. For the 2018 fishing year, we are proposing that the maximum amount of GOM cod and haddock (within the 300-lb (136-kg) trip limit) be set equal to the possession limits applicable to multispecies DAS vessels (see Table 16). This adjustment is necessary to ensure that the trip limit applicable to the Small Vessel category permit is consistent with reductions to the trip limits for other common pool vessels, as described above. TABLE 16—PROPOSED COMMON POOL TRIP LIMITS FOR THE 2018 FISHING YEAR Stock Current 2017 trip limit Proposed 2018 trip limit GB Cod (outside Eastern U.S./Canada Area) ... Possession Prohibited ...................................... GB Cod (inside Eastern U.S./Canada Area) ..... ........................................................................... 100 lb (45 kg) per DAS, up to 200 lb (91 kg) per trip 100 lb (45 kg) per DAS, up to 500 (227 kg) lb per trip. GOM Cod ........................................................... 25 lb (11 kg) per DAS, up to 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. GB Haddock ....................................................... GOM Haddock ................................................... 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) per trip. 500 lb (227 kg) per DAS, up to 1,000 lb (454 kg) per trip. GB Yellowtail Flounder ...................................... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder .............................. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 1,000 lb (454 kg) per DAS, up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) per trip. 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. 500 lb (227 kg) per DAS, up to 1,000 lb per trip. Cape Cod (CC)/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ......... American plaice ................................................. 50 lb (23 kg) per DAS, up to 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. 100 lb (45 kg) per DAS, up to 200 lb (91 kg) per trip. 750 lb (340 kg) per DAS, up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) per trip. 500 lb (227 kg) per trip .................................... 750 lb (340 kg) per DAS, up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) per trip. Witch Flounder ................................................... 400 lb (181 kg) per trip. GB Winter Flounder ........................................... 250 lb (113 kg) per trip. GOM Winter Flounder ........................................ 2,000 lb (907 kg) per trip ................................. 1,000 lb (454 kg) per trip. SNE/MA Winter Flounder .................................. 2,000 lb (907 kg) per DAS, up to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) per trip. Redfish ............................................................... Unlimited. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12546 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules TABLE 16—PROPOSED COMMON POOL TRIP LIMITS FOR THE 2018 FISHING YEAR—Continued Stock Current 2017 trip limit Proposed 2018 trip limit White hake ......................................................... 1,500 lb (680 kg) per trip. Pollock ................................................................ Unlimited. Atlantic Halibut ................................................... 1 fish per trip. Windowpane Flounder ....................................... Ocean Pout ........................................................ Atlantic Wolffish ................................................. Possession Prohibited. TABLE 17—PROPOSED COD TRIPS LIMITS FOR HANDGEAR A, HANDGEAR B, AND SMALL VESSEL CATEGORY PERMITS FOR THE 2018 FISHING YEAR Permit Current 2017 trip limit Proposed 2017 trip limit Handgear A GOM Cod ...................................... 25 lb (11 kg) per trip ........................................ 50 lb (23 kg) per trip. Handgear A GB Cod .......................................... Possession Prohibited ...................................... 100 lb (45 kg) per trip. Handgear B GOM Cod ...................................... Handgear B GB Cod .......................................... 25 lb (11 kg) per trip. Possession Prohibited ...................................... daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Small Vessel Category ...................................... Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/ Haddock SAP This action proposes to allocate zero trips for common pool vessels to target yellowtail flounder within the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP for fishing year 2018. Vessels could still fish in this SAP in 2018 to target haddock, but must fish with a haddock separator trawl, a Ruhle trawl, or hook gear. Vessels would not be allowed to fish in this SAP using flounder trawl nets. This SAP is open from August 1, 2018, through January 31, 2019. We have the authority to determine the allocation of the total number of trips into the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP based on several criteria, including the GB yellowtail flounder catch limit and the amount of GB yellowtail flounder caught outside of the SAP. The FMP specifies that no trips should be allocated to the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP if the available GB yellowtail flounder catch is insufficient to support at least 150 trips with a 15,000-lb (6,804-kg) trip limit (or 2,250,000 lb (1,020,600 kg)). This calculation accounts for the projected catch from the area outside the SAP. Based on the proposed fishing year 2018 GB yellowtail flounder groundfish sub-ACL of 372,581 lb (169,000 kg), there is insufficient GB yellowtail flounder to allocate any trips to the SAP, even if the projected catch from outside the SAP area is zero. Further, given the low GB yellowtail VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 25 lb (11 kg) per trip. 300 lb (136 kg) of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder combined; additionally, vessels are limited to the common pool DAS limit for all stocks. flounder catch limit, catch rates outside of this SAP are more than adequate to fully harvest the 2018 GB yellowtail flounder allocation. 12. Administrative Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial Authority This rule proposes to correct a minor error in the regulations that specify the apportionment of the common pool subACLs among the trimesters. This change is proposed under the authority of section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which states that the Secretary of Commerce may promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that FMPs or amendments are implemented in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The proposed change to the regulations is necessary to correct a rounding error and ensure that not more than 100 percent of the common pool sub-ACL is allocated among the trimesters. In § 648.82(n), the proportion of the common pool sub-ACLs allocated to each trimester for GB yellowtail flounder and GB winter flounder are corrected to sum to 100 percent to address a previous rounding error. The distribution of the common pool subACLs into trimesters was adopted in Amendment 16 to the FMP and was based on landing patterns at that time. Due to a rounding error in the calculations, the apportionment of the TAC among trimesters for GB yellowtail flounder and GB winter flounder each PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 adds up to 101 percent. Although this error has not lead to overages, we are correcting this error to ensure that not more than 100 percent of the common pool sub-ACL is allocated among the trimesters. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Assistant Administrator has made a preliminary determination that this proposed rule is consistent with Framework 57, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. In making the final determination, we will consider the data, views, and comments received during the public comment period. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. This proposed rule does not contain policies with Federalism or takings implications as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual determination for this determination is as follows. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules Periodic framework adjustments are used to revise the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in response to new information to support catch limits that prevent overfishing and other adjustments to improve management measures included in the FMP. Framework 57 proposes to revise groundfish catch limits for 20 groundfish stocks for fishing years 2018–2020 (May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2020), adjust several allocations and AMs for groundfish catch in non-groundfish fisheries, and make other administrative changes to groundfish management measures. Our analysis of the likely economic impacts of Framework 57 measures predicts that the proposed action will have positive impacts on fishing vessels, purchasers of seafood products, recreational anglers, and operators of party/charter businesses. For purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, NMFS established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The determination of whether the entity is large or small is based on the average annual revenue for the most recent 3 years for which data are available (from 2014 through 2016). As of May 1, 2016 (beginning of fishing year 2016), NMFS had issued 899 limited access groundfish permits associated with vessels, 453 open access groundfish handgear permits, 733 limited access and general category Atlantic sea scallop permits, 766 smallmesh multispecies permits, 81 Atlantic herring permits, and 794 permits to vessels that are not permitted in the groundfish fishery but have been active in the large-mesh non-groundfish fishery over the past year. Therefore, this action potentially regulates 3,727 permits. Some of these permits are issued to the same vessel. When accounting for this overlap between fisheries, this action potentially regulates 2,393 permitted vessels. Each vessel may be individually owned or part of a larger corporate ownership structure. For RFA purposes, the proposed action ultimately regulates the ownership entity. Ownership entities are identified on June 1 of each year based on the list of all permit numbers, for the most recent complete calendar VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 12547 year, that have applied for any type of Northeast Federal fishing permit. The current ownership data set is based on calendar year 2016 permits and contains gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2014 through 2016. Based on the ownership data, 1,798 distinct business entities hold at least one permit that the proposed action potentially regulates. Of these, 205 are inactive and do not have revenues. Of the 1,798 entities, 1,789 entities are categorized as small, and 9 entities are categorized as large. This action would set catch limits for groundfish stocks and revise AMs for numerous fisheries that catch groundfish species. These measures would enhance the operational flexibility of fishermen and increase profits. The measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to have a positive economic effect on small entities because they are expected to generate $27 million in additional gross revenues, compared to expected gross revenues if no action is taken. The measures are also expected to generate $9 million in additional gross revenues relative to the most recent fishing year. Additional details of these economic analyses are included in Framework 57 (see ADDRESSES). vessels issued a Federal permit, excluding vessels issued only a Federal multispecies charter/party permit, an Atlantic highly migratory species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory species charter/ headboat permit. When the total ACL is exceeded, groundfish vessels are also subject to several gear-restricted areas. Framework 57 would also revise the existing Atlantic halibut AM gear-restricted areas using updated information. The modifications would allow groundfish trawl and fixed gear vessels additional flexibility while continuing to reduce catch of halibut when the AMs are triggered. Description of Proposed Framework 57 Measures Atlantic Scallop Fishery AM Policy Annual Catch Limits This action would set 2018–2020 catch limits for 20 groundfish stocks and 2018 catch limits for the 3 stocks jointly managed with Canada (Eastern Georges Bank (GB) cod, Eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder) based on assessments completed in 2017. Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations The common pool quota for each stock is split into trimester total allowable catches (TAC) in fixed proportions based on historic fishing effort, and this distribution has not been changed since 2010. Using recent data, Framework 57 revises the proportion of the TAC allocated to each trimester for six stocks that have experienced early closures in either Trimester 1 or 2 since 2012. Framework 57 would also grant authority to the Regional Administrator to modify future trimester TAC allocations under specific circumstances to help provide an opportunity to achieve the catch targets. Revised Atlantic Halibut AM Framework 57 would expand the existing zero-possession AM to all PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Revised Southern Windowpane Flounder AM for Non-Groundfish Vessels The proposed measure would scale the size of the southern windowpane AM area based on the condition of the stock and catch in the year after the overage for non-groundfish fisheries, but would not alter the AM trigger. Based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas, Framework 57 would allow reduced AM areas and seasons for nongroundfish trawl vessels using a 5-inch mesh or greater cod end. For fishing year 2018, the AM for the scallop fishery would only be triggered if the overall ACL for the stock is exceeded and the scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL. This change would be effective for 1 year, and is identical to the scallop fishery’s AM trigger for GB yellowtail flounder and northern windowpane flounder. Recreational Fishery Measures Framework 57 would provide authority to the Regional Administrator to adjust recreational measures for GB cod in 2018 and 2019. This authority is intended to address recent increases in the recreational fishery catch of GB cod and to ensure the fishery does not exceed its catch target. Potential changes to the GB cod recreational measures would be proposed in a separate rule and the economic impacts on party/charter small entities would be analyzed under that action. Overall, the measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to have a positive economic effect on small entities. This action would provide additional fishing opportunities, enhanced operational flexibility, and increased profits to fishermen in the groundfish, scallop, summer flounder, scup, and skate fisheries. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 12548 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules This action is not expected to have a significant or substantial effect on small entities. The effects on the regulated small entities identified in this analysis are expected to be positive in comparison with the no action alternative, which would result in lower revenues and profits than under the proposed action. Under the proposed action, small entities would not be placed at a competitive disadvantage relative to large entities, and the regulations would not reduce the profits for any small entities relative to taking no action. Thus, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Dated: March 16, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.14, revise paragraphs (k)(18) and (20) to read as follows: ■ § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (k) * * * (18) Trimester TAC AM. It is unlawful for any person, including any owner or operator of a vessel issued a valid Federal NE multispecies permit or letter under § 648.4(a)(1)(i), unless otherwise specified in § 648.17, to fish for, harvest, possess, or land regulated species or ocean pout in or from the closed areas specified in § 648.82(n)(2)(ii) once such areas are closed pursuant to § 648.82(n)(2)(i). * * * * * (20) AMs for both stocks of windowpane flounder, ocean pout, Atlantic halibut, and Atlantic wolffish. It is unlawful for any person, including any owner or operator of a vessel issued a valid Federal NE multispecies permit or letter under § 648.4(a)(1)(i), unless otherwise specified in § 648.17, to fail to comply with the restrictions on fishing and gear specified in § 648.90(a)(5)(i)(D) through (H). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.82, revise paragraph (n)(2)(i) to read as follows: § 648.82 Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access vessels. * * * * * (n) * * * (2)* * * (i) Trimester TACs— (A) Trimester TAC distribution. With the exception of SNE/MA winter flounder, any sub-ACLs specified for common pool vessels pursuant to § 648.90(a)(4) shall be apportioned into 4-month trimesters, beginning at the start of the fishing year (i.e., Trimester 1: May 1-August 31; Trimester 2: September 1-December 31; Trimester 3: January 1-April 30), as follows: PORTION OF COMMON POOL SUB-ACLS APPORTIONED TO EACH STOCK FOR EACH TRIMESTER Trimester 1 (percent) Stock daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS GB cod ......................................................................................................................................... GOM cod ..................................................................................................................................... GB haddock ................................................................................................................................. GOM haddock .............................................................................................................................. GB yellowtail flounder .................................................................................................................. SNE/MA yellowtail flounder ......................................................................................................... CC/GOM yellowtail flounder ........................................................................................................ American plaice ........................................................................................................................... Witch flounder .............................................................................................................................. GB winter flounder ....................................................................................................................... GOM winter flounder ................................................................................................................... Redfish ......................................................................................................................................... White hake ................................................................................................................................... Pollock ......................................................................................................................................... (B) Trimester TAC adjustment. For stocks that have experienced early closures (e.g., Trimester 1 or Trimester 2 closures), the Regional Administrator may use the biennial adjustment process specified in § 648.90 to revise the distribution of trimester TACs specified in paragraph (n)(2)(i)(A) of this section. Future adjustments to the distribution of trimester TACs shall use catch data for the most recent 5-year period prior to the reevaluation of trimester TACs. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 648.89, add paragraph (g) to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 § 648.89 Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions. * * * * * (g) Regional Administrator authority for 2018 and 2019 Georges Bank cod recreational measures. For the 2018 or 2019 fishing years, the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, may adjust recreational measures for Georges Bank cod to prevent the recreational fishery from exceeding the annual catch target of 138 mt. Appropriate measures, including adjustments to fishing seasons, minimum fish sizes, or possession PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 28 49 27 27 19 21 57 74 55 8 37 25 38 28 Trimester 2 (percent) 34 33 33 26 30 28 26 8 20 24 38 31 31 35 Trimester 3 (percent) 38 18 40 47 51 51 17 18 25 68 25 44 31 37 limits, may be implemented in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with the final measures published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year when possible. Separate measures may be implemented for the private and charter/party components of the recreational fishery. Measures in place in fishing year 2019 will be in effect beginning in fishing year 2020, and will remain in effect until they are changed by a Framework Adjustment or Amendment to the FMP, or through an emergency action. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules 5. Section 648.90 is amended by: a. Removing reserved paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E); ■ b. Redesignating paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(D)(1) through (4) as paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(E) through (H); ■ c. Revising newly redesignated paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(E) through (H); and ■ d. Adding paragraph (a)(5)(iv)(C). The revisions and addition read as follows: ■ ■ § 648.90 NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and specifications, and flexible area action system. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (a) * * * (5) * * * (i) * * * (E) Windowpane flounder. Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(E)(5) and (6) of this section, if NMFS determines the total catch exceeds the overall ACL for either stock of windowpane flounder, as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer, up to 20 percent greater than the overall ACL, the applicable small AM area for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. If the overall ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent, the applicable large AM area(s) for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E), consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. Vessels fishing with trawl gear in these areas may only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in § 648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in § 648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in § 648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6). (1) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane flounder is a result of an overage of the sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect year-round for any limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip. (2) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane flounder is a result of an overage of the sub-ACL allocated to exempted fisheries pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(F) of this section, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect for any trawl vessel fishing with a codend mesh size of greater than or equal to 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, non-specified sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting exempted species specified in § 648.80(b)(3). If triggered, the Southern Windowpane Flounder Small AM Area will be implemented from September 1 through April 30; the Southern Windowpane Flounder Large AM Areas 2 and 3 will be implemented yearround. (3) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane flounder is a result of overages of both the multispecies fishery and exempted fishery sub-ACLs, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect for both the multispecies fishery and exempted fisheries as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E). If a sub-ACL for either stock of windowpane flounder is allocated to another fishery, consistent with the process specified at paragraph (a)(4) of this section, and there are AMs for that fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be implemented if the subACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the common pool’s share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by excessive catch by other subcomponents of the fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(5) of this section exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall ACL is also exceeded. (4) Windowpane AM Areas. The AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Point N latitude W longitude Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 41°10′ 41°10′ 41°00′ 41°00′ 40°50′ 40°50′ 41°10′ 67°40′ 67°20′ 67°20′ 67°00′ 67°00′ 67°40′ 67°40′ Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 42°10′ 42°10′ 41°00′ 41°00′ 40°50′ 40°50′ 42°10′ 67°40′ 67°20′ 67°20′ 67°00′ 67°00′ 67°40′ 67°40′ Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area 1 2 3 4 ................ ................ ................ ................ PO 00000 Frm 00046 41°10′ 41°10′ 40°50′ 40°50′ Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 71°30′ 71°20′ 71°20′ 71°30′ Point 1 ................ N latitude 41°10′ 12549 W longitude 71°30′ Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 41°10′ 41°10′ 41°00′ 41°00′ 40°50′ 40°50′ 41°10′ 71°50′ 71°10′ 71°10′ 71°20′ 71°20′ 71°50′ 71°50′ Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ (1) 40°30′ 40°30′ 40°20′ 40°20′ (3) (4) 5 40°32.6′ (1) 73°30′ 73°30′ 73°50′ 73°50′ ( 2) 73°58.5′ 73°58.5′ 5 73°56.4′ 73°30′ Southern Windowpane Flounder Large AM Area 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 41°10′ 41°10′ 41°00′ 41°00′ 40°50′ 40°50′ 41°10′ 71°30′ 71°10′ 71°10′ 71°20′ 71°20′ 71°30′ 71°30′ 1 The southernmost coastline of Long Island, NY, at 73°30′ W longitude. 2 The easternmost coastline of NJ at 40°20′ N latitude, then northward along the NJ coastline to Point 6. 3 The northernmost coastline of NJ at 73°58.5′ W longitude. 4 The southernmost coastline of Long Island, NY, at 73°58.5′ W longitude. 5 The approximate location of the southwest corner of the Rockaway Peninsula, Queens, NY, then eastward along the southernmost coastline of Long Island, NY (excluding South Oyster Bay), back to Point 1. (5) Reducing the size of an AM. If the overall northern or southern windowpane flounder ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent and NMFS determines that the stock is rebuilt, and the biomass criterion, as defined by the Council, is greater than the most recent fishing year’s catch, then only the small AM may be implemented as described in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D)(1) of this section, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. This provision applies to a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, and to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend mesh size equal to or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, non-specified sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 12550 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules exempted species specified in § 648.80(b)(3). (6) Reducing the duration of an AM. If the northern or southern windowpane flounder AM is implemented in the third fishing year following the year of an overage, as described in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this section, and NMFS subsequently determines that the applicable windowpane flounder ACL was not exceeded by any amount the year immediately after which the overage occurred (i.e., the second year), on or after September 1 the AM can be removed once year-end data are complete. This reduced duration does not apply if NMFS determines during year 3 that a year 3 overage of the applicable windowpane flounder ACL has occurred. This provision applies to a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, and to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend mesh size equal to or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, nonspecified sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting exempted species specified in § 648.80(b)(3). (F) Atlantic halibut. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for Atlantic halibut is exceeded, as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(F), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented and any vessel issued a Federal permit for any fishery management plan may not fish for, possess, or land Atlantic halibut for the fishing year in which the AM is implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(F) of this section. Vessels issued only a charter/party permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory species charter/ headboat permit are exempt from the AM. A vessel issued a permit that is not exempt from the AM in addition to an exempt permit may not fish for, possess, or land Atlantic halibut for the fishing year in which the AM is implemented. If the overall ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent, the applicable AM area(s) for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(F) of this section, and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and fishing with trawl gear in the Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area may only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 § 648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in § 648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in § 648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6); except that selective trawl gear is not required in the portion of the Trawl Gear AM Area between 41 degrees 40 minutes and 42 degrees from April 1 through July 31. When in effect, a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet gear may not fish or be in the Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Area from March 1 through October 31, unless transiting with its gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2, or such gear was approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL for Atlantic halibut is allocated to another fishery, consistent with the process specified at § 648.90(a)(4), and there are AMs for that fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the common pool’s share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by excessive catch by other subcomponents of the fishery pursuant to § 648.90(a)(5), exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall ACL is also exceeded. ATLANTIC HALIBUT TRAWL GEAR AM AREA Point 1 2 3 4 N latitude ................ ................ ................ ................ 42°00′ 42°00′ 41°30′ 41°30′ W longitude 69°20′ 68°20′ 68°20′ 69°20′ ATLANTIC HALIBUT GILLNET GEAR AM AREA Point 1 2 3 4 N latitude ................ ................ ................ ................ 43°10′ 43°10′ 43°00′ 43°00′ W longitude 69°40′ 69°30′ 69°30′ 69°40′ (G) Atlantic wolffish. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for Atlantic wolffish is exceeded, as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(G), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented, as specified in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(G). If the overall ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent, the applicable AM area(s) for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(G), and the Council shall revisit the AM in PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 a future action. The AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and fishing with trawl gear in the Atlantic Wolffish Trawl Gear AM Area may only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in § 648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in § 648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in § 648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6). When in effect, a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet or longline gear may not fish or be in the Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Areas, unless transiting with its gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2, or such gear was approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL for Atlantic wolffish is allocated to another fishery, consistent with the process specified at § 648.90(a)(4), and AMs are developed for that fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the common pool’s share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by excessive catch by other subcomponents of the fishery pursuant to § 648.90(a)(5), exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall ACL is also exceeded. ATLANTIC WOLFFISH TRAWL GEAR AM AREA Point 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ N latitude 42°30′ 42°30′ 42°15′ 42°15′ 42°10′ 42°10′ 42°20′ 42°20′ W longitude 70°30′ 70°15′ 70°15′ 70°10′ 70°10′ 70°20′ 70°20′ 70°30′ ATLANTIC WOLFFISH FIXED GEAR AM AREA 1 Point 1 2 3 4 ................ ................ ................ ................ E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1 N latitude 41°40′ 41°40′ 41°30′ 41°30′ W longitude 69°40′ 69°30′ 69°30′ 69°40′ Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 56 / Thursday, March 22, 2018 / Proposed Rules ATLANTIC WOLFFISH FIXED GEAR AM AREA 2 Point daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS 1 2 3 4 N latitude ................ ................ ................ ................ 42°30′ 42°30′ 42°20′ 42°20′ W longitude 70°20′ 70°15′ 70°15′ 70°20′ (H) Ocean pout. Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(E)(5) and (6) of this section, if NMFS determines the total catch exceeds the overall ACL for ocean pout, as described in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, by any amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer up to 20 percent greater than the overall ACL, the applicable small AM area for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. If the overall ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent, large AM area(s) for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. The AM areas for ocean pout are defined in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E)(4) of this section, connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Vessels fishing with trawl gear in these areas may only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in § 648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in § 648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in § 648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process defined in § 648.85(b)(6). * * * * * (iv) * * * (C) 2018 fishing year threshold for implementing the Atlantic sea scallop fishery AM for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder. For the 2018 fishing year, if the scallop fishery catch exceeds its SNE/MA yellowtail flounder sub-ACL specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, and total catch exceeds the overall ACL for that stock, then the applicable scallop fishery AM will take effect, as specified in § 648.64 of the Atlantic sea scallop regulations. Beginning in fishing year 2019, the threshold for implementing scallop fishery AMs for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder listed in paragraph (a)(5)(iv)(A) of this section will be in effect. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2018–05755 Filed 3–21–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:44 Mar 21, 2018 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 180201108–8261–01] RIN 0648–BH55 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Fishing Year 2018 Recreational Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to set 2018 recreational management measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock and Georges Bank cod. This action is necessary to respond to updated catch and other scientific information. The proposed measures are intended to ensure the recreational fishery achieves, but does not exceed, its fishing year 2018 catch limits. DATES: Comments must be received by April 6, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2018–0040, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20180040 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and 3. Enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on the Fishing Year 2018 Groundfish Recreational Measures.’’ 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 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 12551 accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the analyses supporting this rulemaking, including the Framework Adjustment 57 environmental assessment (EA) prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council, and draft supplemental EA to Framework Adjustment 57 prepared by the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and Northeast Fisheries Science Center, are available from: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: http:// www.nefmc.org/management-plans/ northeast-multispecies or http:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Keiley, Fishery Management Specialist, phone: 978–281–9116; email: Emily.Keiley@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents 1. Proposed Gulf of Maine Recreational Management Measures for Fishing Year 2018 2. Fishing Year 2018 Georges Bank Cod Recreational Management Measures 3. Regulatory Corrections Background Proposed Gulf of Maine Recreational Management Measures for Fishing Year 2018 The recreational fishery for Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod and haddock is managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP sets sub-annual catch limits (sub-ACL) for the recreational fishery for each fishing year for GOM cod and haddock. These sub-ACLs are a portion of the overall catch limit for each stock. The multispecies fishery opens on May 1 each year and runs through April 30 of the following calendar year. The FMP also includes recreational accountability measures (AM) to prevent the recreational subACLs from being exceeded, or to correct the cause of an overage if one occurs. The proactive AM provision in the FMP requires the Regional Administrator, in consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, to develop recreational management measures for the upcoming fishing year to ensure that the recreational sub-ACL is achieved, but not exceeded. The provisions authorizing this action can be found in § 648.89(f)(3) of the FMP’s implementing regulations. E:\FR\FM\22MRP1.SGM 22MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 56 (Thursday, March 22, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12531-12551]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05755]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 180110022-8022-01]
RIN 0648-BH52


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 57

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

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: This action proposes approval of, and regulations to 
implement, Framework Adjustment 57 to the Northeast Multispecies 
Fishery Management Plan. This rule would set

[[Page 12532]]

2018-2020 catch limits for 20 multispecies (groundfish) stocks, adjust 
allocations for several fisheries, revise accountability measures, and 
make other minor changes to groundfish management measures. This action 
is necessary to respond to updated scientific information and achieve 
the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The proposed 
measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished 
stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management measures are 
based on the best scientific information available.

DATES: Comments must be received by April 6, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2018-0028, 
by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0028;
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon and complete the required 
fields; and
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, 
``Comments on the Proposed Rule for Groundfish Framework Adjustment 
57.''
    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 us. 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).
    Copies of Framework Adjustment 57, including the draft 
Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery 
Management Council in support of this action are available from Thomas 
A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 
Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents 
are also accessible via the internet at: http://www.nefmc.org/management-plans/northeast-multispecies or http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Grant, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
phone: 978-281-9145; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

1. Summary of Proposed Measures
2. Fishing Year 2018 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas
3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2018-2020
4. Default Catch Limits for Fishing Year 2021
5. Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations
6. Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages
7. Revisions to Atlantic Halibut Accountability Measures
8. Revisions to Southern Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measures 
for Non-Groundfish Trawl Vessels
9. Revision to the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail 
Flounder Accountability Measures for Scallop Vessels
10. Recreational Fishery Measures
11. Fishing Year 2018 Annual Measures Under Regional Administrator 
Authority
12. Administrative Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial 
Authority

1. Summary of Proposed Measures

    This action would implement the management measures in Framework 
Adjustment 57 (Framework 57) to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP). The New England Fishery Management Council 
deemed the proposed regulations necessary to implement Framework 57 in 
a March 14, 2018, letter from Council Chairman Dr. John Quinn to 
Regional Administrator Michael Pentony. Under the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), we are 
required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily 
determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. The 
Magnuson-Stevens Act allows us to approve, partially approve, or 
disapprove measures that the Council proposes based only on whether the 
measures are consistent with the fishery management plan, plan 
amendment, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and 
other applicable law. Otherwise, we must defer to the Council's policy 
choices. We are seeking comments on the Council's proposed measures in 
Framework 57 and whether they are consistent with the Northeast 
Multispecies FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, 
and other applicable law. Through Framework 57, the Council proposes 
to:
     Set fishing year 2018 shared U.S./Canada quotas for 
Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder and Eastern GB cod and haddock;
     Set 2018-2020 specifications for 20 groundfish stocks;
     Revise the common pool trimester total allowable catch 
(TAC) allocations for several stocks;
     Revise accountability measures (AM) for Atlantic halibut 
for vessels issued any Federal permit;
     Revise AMs for southern windowpane flounder for non-
groundfish trawl vessels;
     Revise the trigger for the scallop fishery's AM for 
Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail flounder; and
     Grant the Regional Administrator authority to adjust 
recreational measures for GB cod.
    This action also proposes a number of other measures that are not 
part of Framework 57, but that may be, or are required to be, 
considered and implemented under our authority specified in the FMP. We 
are proposing these measures in conjunction with the Framework 57 
proposed measures for expediency purposes, and because these measures 
are related to the catch limits proposed as part of Framework 57. The 
additional measures proposed in this action are listed below:
     Management measures for the common pool fishery--this 
action proposes fishing year 2018 trip limits for the common pool 
fishery.
     Adjustments for fishing year 2016 catch overages--this 
action would reduce the 2018 allocation of GB cod, Gulf of Maine (GOM) 
cod, and witch flounder due to catch limit overages that occurred in 
fishing year 2016.
     Other regulatory corrections--we propose one 
administrative correction to address a minor rounding error in the 
regulations for the common pool trimester TACs. This proposed 
correction is described in the section ``12. Regulatory Corrections.''

2. 2018 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Quotas

Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks

    Eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are 
jointly managed with Canada under the United States/Canada Resource 
Sharing Understanding. The Transboundary Management Guidance Committee 
(TMGC) is a government-industry committee made up of representatives 
from the United States and Canada. For historical information about the 
TMGC see: http://www.bio.gc.ca/info/intercol/tmgc-cogst/index-en.php. 
Each year, the TMGC recommends a shared quota for

[[Page 12533]]

each stock based on the most recent stock information and the TMGC's 
harvest strategy. The TMGC's harvest strategy for setting catch levels 
is to maintain a low to neutral risk (less than 50 percent) of 
exceeding the fishing mortality limit for each stock. The harvest 
strategy also specifies that when stock conditions are poor, fishing 
mortality should be further reduced to promote stock rebuilding. The 
shared quotas are allocated between the United States and Canada based 
on a formula that considers historical catch (10-percent weighting) and 
the current resource distribution (90-percent weighting).
    For GB yellowtail flounder, the Council's Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC) also recommends an acceptable biological 
catch (ABC) for the stock, which is typically used to inform the U.S. 
TMGC's discussions with Canada for the annual shared quota. Although 
the stock is jointly managed with Canada, and the TMGC recommends 
annual shared quotas, the Council may not set catch limits that would 
exceed the SSC's recommendation. The SSC does not recommend ABCs for 
eastern GB cod and haddock because they are management units of the 
total GB cod and haddock stocks. The SSC recommends overall ABCs for 
the total GB cod and haddock stocks. The shared U.S./Canada quota for 
eastern GB cod and haddock is included in these overall ABCs, and must 
be consistent with the SSC's recommendation for the total GB stocks.

2018 U.S./Canada Quotas

    The Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee conducted 
assessments for the three-transboundary stocks in July 2017, and 
detailed summaries of these assessments can be found at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/saw/trac/. The TMGC met in September 2017 to 
recommend shared quotas for 2018 based on the updated assessments, and 
the Council adopted the TMGC's recommendations in Framework 57. The 
proposed 2018 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country's allocation, 
are listed in Table 1.

 Table 1--Proposed 2018 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Quotas (mt, Live Weight) and Percent of Quota Allocated to Each
                                                     Country
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Eastern GB     GB yellowtail
                              Quota                               Eastern GB cod      haddock        flounder
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Shared Quota..............................................             951          40,000             300
U.S. Quota......................................................       257 (27%)    15,600 (39%)       213 (71%)
Canadian Quota..................................................       694 (73%)    24,400 (61%)        87 (29%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Council's proposed 2018 U.S. quota for eastern GB haddock would 
be a 47-percent decrease compared to 2017. This decrease is due to a 
decrease in biomass and a reduction in the portion of the shared quota 
that is allocated to the United States. The Council's proposed U.S. 
quota for eastern GB cod and GB yellowtail flounder would be a 76-
percent and a 3-percent increase, respectively, compared to 2017, which 
are a result of increases in survey biomass and the portions of the 
shared quotas allocated to the United States. For a more detailed 
discussion of the TMGC's 2018 catch advice, see the TMGC's guidance 
document at: https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/multispecies/announcements/2017tmgcguiddoc.pdf.
    The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing 
Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for 
eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the 
U.S. quota in the following fishing year. If catch information for the 
2017 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery exceeded its quota 
for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the respective U.S. quotas 
for the 2018 fishing year in a future management action, as close to 
May 1, 2018, as possible. If any fishery that is allocated a portion of 
the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation and causes an overage of the 
overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction would only be applied to that 
fishery's allocation in the following fishing year. This ensures that 
catch by one component of the overall fishery does not negatively 
affect another component of the overall fishery. An overage of the U.S. 
ABC of GB cod in 2016 is discussed in Section 6, Adjustments Due to 
Fishing Year 2016 Overages.

3. Catch Limits for the 2018-2020 Fishing Years

Summary of the Proposed Catch Limits

    Tables 2 through 9 show the proposed catch limits for the 2018-2020 
fishing years. A brief summary of how these catch limits were developed 
is provided below. More details on the proposed catch limits for each 
groundfish stock can be found in Appendix II (Calculation of Northeast 
Multispecies Annual Catch Limits, FY 2018-FY 2020) to the Framework 57 
Environmental Assessment (see ADDRESSES for information on how to get 
this document).
    Through Framework 57, the Council proposes to adopt catch limits 
for the 20 groundfish stocks for the 2018-2020 fishing years based on 
assessments completed in 2017. Catch limit increases are proposed for 
11 stocks: GB and GOM cod, GOM haddock, GB and Cape Cod (CC)/GOM 
yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder, GB winter 
flounder, redfish, pollock, and wolffish. For a number of stocks, the 
catch limits proposed in this action are lower than the catch limits 
set for the 2017 fishing year. Although some of these decreases are 
small, a 75-percent reduction is proposed for SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder, and a 45-percent reduction is proposed for GOM winter 
flounder. The ABC for Atlantic halibut is a decrease from 2017, but is 
not expected to reduce landings because updated discard mortality 
information will result in a reduction in mortality attributed to 
discards. Table 2 details the percent change in the 2018 catch limit 
compared to the 2017 fishing year.

Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catches

    The overfishing limit (OFL) serves as the maximum amount of fish 
that can be caught in a year without resulting in overfishing. The OFL 
for each stock is calculated using the estimated stock size and 
FMSY (i.e., the fishing mortality rate that, if applied over 
the long term, would result in maximum sustainable yield). The OFL does 
not account for scientific uncertainty, so the SSC typically recommends 
an ABC that is lower than the OFL in order to account for this 
uncertainty. Usually, the greater the amount of scientific uncertainty, 
the lower the ABC is set compared to the OFL. For GB cod, GB haddock, 
and GB yellowtail flounder, the total ABC is then reduced by the amount 
of the Canadian quota (see Table 1 for the Canadian share of these 
stocks).

[[Page 12534]]

Additionally, although GB winter flounder and Atlantic halibut are not 
jointly managed with Canada, there is some Canadian catch of these 
stocks. Because the total ABC must account for all sources of fishing 
mortality, expected Canadian catch of GB winter flounder (45 mt) and 
Atlantic halibut (33 mt) is deducted from the total ABC. The U.S. ABC 
is the amount available to the U.S. fishery after accounting for 
Canadian catch.
    Based on the SSC's recommendation, the Council recommended setting 
the OFL as unknown for GB yellowtail flounder, witch flounder, and 
Atlantic halibut. Empirical stock assessments are used for these three 
stocks, and these assessments can no longer provide quantitative 
estimates of the status determination criteria. In the temporary 
absence of an OFL, given recent catch data and estimated trends in 
stock biomass showing stability or improvement in stock conditions, we 
have preliminarily determined that these ABCs are a sufficient limit 
for preventing overfishing and are consistent with the National 
Standards. This action does not propose any changes to the status 
determination criteria for these stocks. During development of this 
action, we notified the Council that we are developing guidance on 
setting status determination criteria and relevant catch limits in 
cases when an empirical assessment cannot provide numerical estimates 
of traditional reference points.

                             Table 2--Proposed Fishing Years 2018-2020 Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catches
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               2018                                                2019                               2020
             Stock             ------------------------------------ Percent change ---------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        OFL            U.S. ABC        from 2017           OFL            U.S. ABC            OFL            U.S. ABC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod........................  3,047                        1,591             139  3,047                       2,285  3,047                       2,285
GOM Cod.......................  938                            703              41  938                           703  938                           703
GB Haddock....................  94,274                      48,714             -15  99,757                     48,714  100,825                    73,114
GOM Haddock...................  16,954                      13,131             190  16,038                     12,490  13,020                     10,186
GB Yellowtail Flounder........  UNK                            213               3  UNK                           300  UNK                ..............
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder....  90                              68             -75  90                             68  90                             68
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder....  662                            511              20  736                           511  848                           511
American Plaice...............  2,260                        1,732              30  2,099                       1,609  1,945                       1,492
Witch Flounder................  UNK                            993              13  UNK                           993  UNK                           993
GB Winter Flounder............  1,083                          810               7  1,182                         810  1,756                         810
GOM Winter Flounder...........  596                            447             -45  596                           447  596                           447
SNE/MA Winter Flounder........  1,228                          727              -7  1,228                         727  1,228                         727
Redfish.......................  15,451                      11,552               5  15,640                     11,785  15,852                     11,942
White Hake....................  3,885                        2,938             -20  3,898                       2,938  3,916                       2,938
Pollock.......................  51,680                      40,172              88  53,940                     40,172  57,240                     40,172
N. Windowpane Flounder........  122                             92             -49  122                            92  122                            92
S. Windowpane Flounder........  631                            473             -24  631                           473  631                           473
Ocean Pout....................  169                            127             -23  169                           127  169                           127
Atlantic Halibut..............  UNK                            104             -34  UNK                           104  UNK                           104
Atlantic Wolffish.............  120                             90              10  120                            90  120                            90
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SNE/MA = Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic; CC = Cape Cod; N = Northern; S = Southern.
Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits will be set in a future action.

Annual Catch Limits

Development of Annual Catch Limits
    The U.S. ABC for each stock is divided among the various fishery 
components to account for all sources of fishing mortality. First, an 
estimate of catch expected from state waters and the ``other'' sub-
component (e.g., non-groundfish fisheries or some recreational 
groundfish fisheries) is deducted from the U.S. ABC. These sub-
components are not subject to specific catch controls by the FMP. As a 
result, the state waters and other sub-components are not allocations, 
and these sub-components of the fishery are not subject to AMs if the 
catch limits are exceeded. After the state and other sub-components are 
deducted, the remaining portion of the U.S. ABC is distributed to the 
fishery components that receive an allocation for the stock. Components 
of the fishery that receive an allocation are subject to AMs if they 
exceed their respective catch limit during the fishing year. Fishing 
year 2016 overages of the GB cod, GOM cod, and witch flounder 
allocations are discussed in detail in Section 6, Adjustments Due to 
Fishing Year 2016 Overages.
    Once the U.S. ABC is divided, sub-annual catch limits (sub-ACL) are 
set by reducing the amount of the ABC distributed to each component of 
the fishery to account for management uncertainty. Management 
uncertainty seeks to account for the possibility that management 
measures will result in a level of catch greater than expected. For 
each stock and fishery component, management uncertainty is estimated 
using the following criteria: enforceability and precision of 
management measures; adequacy of catch monitoring; latent effort; and 
whether the composition of catch includes landings and discards, or is 
all discards.
    The total ACL is the sum of all of the sub-ACLs and state and other 
sub-components, and is the catch limit for a particular year after 
accounting for both scientific and management uncertainty. Landings and 
discards from all fisheries (commercial and recreational groundfish 
fisheries, state waters, and non-groundfish fisheries) are counted 
against the ACL for each stock.
Sector and Common Pool Allocations
    For stocks allocated to sectors, the commercial groundfish sub-ACL 
is further divided into the non-sector (common pool) sub-ACL and the 
sector sub-ACL, based on the total vessel enrollment in sectors and the 
cumulative potential sector contributions (PSC) associated with those 
sectors. The preliminary sector

[[Page 12535]]

and common pool sub-ACLs proposed in this action are based on fishing 
year 2018 PSCs and fishing year 2017 sector rosters. All permits 
enrolled in a sector, and the vessels associated with those permits, 
have until April 30, 2018, to withdraw from a sector and fish in the 
common pool for the 2018 fishing year. In addition to the enrollment 
delay, all permits that change ownership after December 1, 2017, may 
join a sector through April 30, 2018. We will publish final sector and 
common pool sub-ACLs based on final 2018 sector rosters as soon as 
possible after the start of the 2018 fishing year. These are adjusted 
later to reflect final sector enrollment.
Common Pool Total Allowable Catches
    The common pool sub-ACL for each stock (except for SNE/MA winter 
flounder, windowpane flounder, ocean pout, Atlantic wolffish, and 
Atlantic halibut) is further divided into trimester TACs. The 
distribution of the common pool sub-ACLs into trimesters was adopted in 
Amendment 16 to the FMP (75 FR 18262; April 9, 2010) and was based on 
landing patterns at that time. Framework 57 proposes to revise the 
apportionment of TACs among the trimesters (discussed in detail in 
Section 5, Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations). Once we 
project that 90 percent of the trimester TAC is caught for a stock, the 
trimester TAC area for that stock is closed for the remainder of the 
trimester. The closure applies to all common pool vessels fishing on a 
groundfish trip with gear capable of catching the pertinent stock. Any 
uncaught portion of the TAC in Trimester 1 or Trimester 2 is carried 
forward to the next trimester. Overages of the Trimester 1 or Trimester 
2 TAC are deducted from the Trimester 3 TAC. Any overages of the total 
common pool sub-ACL are deducted from the following fishing year's 
common pool sub-ACL for that stock. Uncaught portions of any trimester 
TAC may not be carried over into the following fishing year. Table 6 
summarizes the common pool trimester TACs proposed in this action. 
These trimester TACs are based on the proposed changes to the 
apportionment of the common pool sub-ACL among the trimesters that are 
also included in this action.
    Incidental catch TACs are also specified for certain stocks of 
concern (i.e., stocks that are overfished or subject to overfishing) 
for common pool vessels fishing in the special management programs 
(i.e., special access programs (SAP) and the Regular B Days-at-Sea 
(DAS) Program), in order to limit the catch of these stocks under each 
program. Tables 7 through 9 summarize the proposed Incidental Catch 
TACs for each stock and the distribution of these TACs to each special 
management program.
Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP
    Overall fishing effort by both common pool and sector vessels in 
the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP is controlled by an overall TAC 
for GB haddock, which is the target species for this SAP. The GB 
haddock TAC for the SAP is based on the amount allocated to this SAP 
for the 2004 fishing year (1,130 mt) and adjusted according to the 
growth or decline of the western GB haddock biomass in relationship to 
its size in 2004. Based on this formula, the Council's proposed GB 
Haddock TAC for this SAP is 2,511 mt for the 2018 fishing year. Once 
this overall TAC is caught, the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP 
will be closed to all groundfish vessels for the remainder of the 
fishing year.

                                                                    Table 3--Proposed Catch Limits for the 2018 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Preliminary                    Midwater                             State
                            Stock                              Total ACL   Groundfish    Preliminary     common pool    Recreational     trawl     Scallop    Small-mesh  waters sub- Other sub-
                                                                            sub-ACL    sector sub-ACL      sub-ACL         sub-ACL      fishery    fishery    fisheries    component   component
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................................................      1,519        1,360           1,335              25  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          16         143
GOM Cod......................................................        666          610             377              13             220  .........  .........  ...........          47           9
GB Haddock...................................................     46,312       44,659          44,348             311  ..............        680  .........  ...........         487         487
GOM Haddock..................................................     12,409       12,097           8,643              95           3,358        122  .........  ...........          95          95
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......................................        206          169             167               3  ..............  .........       33.1          4.0         0.0         0.0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...................................         66           42              34               8  ..............  .........          4  ...........           2          17
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...................................        490          398             381              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          51          41
American Plaice..............................................      1,649        1,580           1,550              29  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          35          35
Witch Flounder...............................................        948          849             830              19  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          40          60
GB Winter Flounder...........................................        787          731             725               6  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           0          57
GOM Winter Flounder..........................................        428          357             339              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          67           4
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......................................        700          518             456              62  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          73         109
Redfish......................................................     10,986       10,755          10,696              59  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         116         116
White Hake...................................................      2,794        2,735           2,713              22  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          29          29
Pollock......................................................     38,204       37,400          37,163             237  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         402         402
N. Windowpane Flounder.......................................         86           63              na              63  ..............  .........         18  ...........           2           3
S. Windowpane Flounder.......................................        457           53              na              53  ..............  .........        158  ...........          28         218
Ocean Pout...................................................        120           94              na              94  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           3          23
Atlantic Halibut.............................................        100           77              na              77  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          21           2
Atlantic Wolffish............................................         84           82              na              82  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           1           1
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 12536]]


                                                                    Table 4--Proposed Catch Limits for the 2019 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Preliminary                    Midwater                             State
                            Stock                              Total ACL   Groundfish    Preliminary     common pool    Recreational     trawl     Scallop    Small-mesh  waters sub- Other sub-
                                                                            sub-ACL    sector sub-ACL      sub-ACL         sub-ACL      fishery    fishery    fisheries    component   component
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................................................      2,182        1,954           1,918              36  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          23         206
GOM Cod......................................................        666          610             377              13             220  .........  .........  ...........          47           9
GB Haddock...................................................     46,312       44,659          44,348             311  ..............        680  .........  ...........         487         487
GOM Haddock..................................................     11,803       11,506           8,222              90           3,194        116  .........  ...........          91          91
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......................................        291          239             235               4  ..............  .........         47            6           0           0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...................................         66           32              26               6  ..............  .........         15  ...........           2          17
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...................................        490          398             381              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          51          41
American Plaice..............................................      1,532        1,467           1,440              27  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          32          32
Witch Flounder...............................................        948          849             830              19  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          40          60
GB Winter Flounder...........................................        787          731             725               6  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           0          57
GOM Winter Flounder..........................................        428          357             339              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          67           4
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......................................        700          518             456              62  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          73         109
Redfish......................................................     11,208       10,972          10,911              60  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         118         118
White Hake...................................................      2,794        2,735           2,713              22  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          29          29
Pollock......................................................     38,204       37,400          37,163             237  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         402         402
N. Windowpane Flounder.......................................         86           63  ..............              63  ..............  .........         18  ...........           2           3
S. Windowpane Flounder.......................................        457           53  ..............              53  ..............  .........        158  ...........          28         218
Ocean Pout...................................................        120           94  ..............              94  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           3          23
Atlantic Halibut.............................................        100           77  ..............              77  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          21           2
Atlantic Wolffish............................................         84           82  ..............              82  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           1           1
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                                    Table 5--Proposed Catch Limits for the 2020 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Preliminary                    Midwater                             State
                             Stock                                Total    Groundfish    Preliminary     common pool    Recreational     trawl     Scallop    Small-mesh  waters sub- Other sub-
                                                                   ACL      sub-ACL    sector sub-ACL      sub-ACL         sub-ACL      fishery    fishery    fisheries    component   component
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.........................................................    2,182        1,954           1,918              36  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          23         206
GOM Cod........................................................      666          610             377              13             220  .........  .........  ...........          47           9
GB Haddock.....................................................   69,509       67,027          66,560             467  ..............      1,020  .........  ...........         731         731
GOM Haddock....................................................    9,626        9,384           6,705              74           2,605         95  .........  ...........          74          74
GB Yellowtail Flounder.........................................  .......  ...........  ..............  ..............  ..............  .........        0.0          0.0         0.0         0.0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder.....................................       66           31              25               6  ..............  .........         16  ...........           2          17
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder.....................................      490          398             381              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          51          41
American Plaice................................................    1,420        1,361           1,335              25  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          30          30
Witch Flounder.................................................      948          849             830              19  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          40          60
GB Winter Flounder.............................................      787          731             725               6  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           0          57
GOM Winter Flounder............................................      428          357             339              18  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          67           4
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.........................................      700          518             456              62  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          73         109
Redfish........................................................   11,357       11,118          11,057              61  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         119         119
White Hake.....................................................    2,794        2,735           2,713              22  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          29          29
Pollock........................................................   38,204       37,400          37,163             237  ..............  .........  .........  ...........         402         402
N. Windowpane Flounder.........................................       86           63  ..............              63  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           2           3
S. Windowpane Flounder.........................................      457           53  ..............              53  ..............  .........        158  ...........          28         218
Ocean Pout.....................................................      120           94  ..............              94  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           3          23
Atlantic Halibut...............................................      100           77  ..............              77  ..............  .........  .........  ...........          21           2
Atlantic Wolffish..............................................       84           82  ..............              82  ..............  .........  .........  ...........           1           1
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                          Table 6--Proposed Fishing Years 2018-2020 Common Pool Trimester TACs
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             2018                                2019                                2020
                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Stock                      Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester   Trimester
                                                   1           2           3           1           2           3           1           2           3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod......................................         7.0         8.5         9.6        10.1        12.3        13.7        10.1        12.3        13.7
GOM Cod.....................................         6.2         4.2         2.3         6.2         4.2         2.3         6.2         4.2         2.3

[[Page 12537]]

 
GB Haddock..................................        84.0       102.6       124.4        84.0       102.6       124.4       126.1       154.1       186.7
GOM Haddock.................................        25.6        24.7        44.6        24.4        23.5        42.4        19.9        19.1        34.6
GB Yellowtail Flounder......................         0.5         0.8         1.3         0.7         1.1         1.9  ..........  ..........  ..........
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder..................         1.7         2.3         4.2         1.3         1.7         3.2         1.3         1.7         3.1
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..................        10.0         4.6         3.0        10.0         4.6         3.0        10.0         4.6         3.0
American Plaice.............................        21.8         2.4         5.3        20.3         2.2         4.9        18.8         2.0         4.6
Witch Flounder..............................        10.4         3.8         4.7        10.4         3.8         4.7        10.4         3.8         4.7
GB Winter Flounder..........................         0.5         1.4         4.1         0.5         1.4         4.1         0.5         1.4         4.1
GOM Winter Flounder.........................         6.5         6.7         4.4         6.5         6.7         4.4         6.5         6.7         4.4
Redfish.....................................        14.8        18.4        26.1        15.1        18.7        26.6        15.3        19.0        27.0
White Hake..................................         8.3         6.8         6.8         8.3         6.8         6.8         8.3         6.8         6.8
Pollock.....................................        66.4        83.0        87.7        66.4        83.0        87.7        66.4        83.0        87.7
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note. An empty cell indicates that no catch limit has been set yet for these stocks. These catch limits will be set in a future management action.


               Table 7--Proposed Common Pool Incidental Catch TACs for the 2018-2020 Fishing Years
                                                [mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Percentage of
                      Stock                         common pool        2018            2019            2020
                                                      sub-ACL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................               2            0.50            0.72            0.72
GOM Cod.........................................               1            0.13            0.13            0.13
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........................               2            0.05            0.07            0.00
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder......................               1            0.18            0.18            0.18
American Plaice.................................               5            1.47            1.37            1.27
Witch Flounder..................................               5            0.95            0.95            0.95
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........................               1            0.62            0.62            0.62
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


           Table 8--Percentage of Incidental Catch TACs Distributed to Each Special Management Program
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Closed area I
                              Stock                                Regular B DAS     hook gear     Eastern US/CA
                                                                      program       haddock SAP     haddock SAP
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................................              50              16              34
GOM Cod.........................................................             100  ..............  ..............
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........................................              50  ..............              50
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder......................................             100  ..............  ..............
American Plaice.................................................             100  ..............  ..............
Witch Flounder..................................................             100  ..............  ..............
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........................................             100  ..............  ..............
White Hake......................................................             100  ..............  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                           Table 9--Proposed Fishing Years 2018-2020 Incidental Catch TACs for Each Special Management Program
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Regular B DAS program       Closed area I hook gear haddock  Eastern U.S./Canada haddock SAP
                                                      ---------------------------------               SAP               --------------------------------
                        Stock                                                          ---------------------------------
                                                          2018       2019       2020       2018       2019       2020       2018       2019       2020
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod...............................................       0.25       0.36       0.36       0.08       0.12       0.12       0.17       0.25       0.25
GOM Cod..............................................       0.13       0.13       0.13        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
GB Yellowtail Flounder...............................       0.03       0.04       0.00        n/a        n/a        n/a       0.03       0.04       0.00
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...........................       0.18       0.18       0.18        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
American Plaice......................................       1.47       1.37       1.27        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
Witch Flounder.......................................       0.95       0.95       0.95        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
SNE/MA Winter Flounder...............................       0.62       0.62       0.62        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 12538]]

4. Default Catch Limits for the 2021 Fishing Year

    Framework 53 established a mechanism for setting default catch 
limits in the event a future management action is delayed. If final 
catch limits have not been implemented by the start of a fishing year 
on May 1, then default catch limits are set at 35 percent of the 
previous year's catch limit, effective until July 31 of that fishing 
year, or when replaced by new catch limits. If this value exceeds the 
Council's recommendation for the upcoming fishing year, the default 
catch limits will be reduced to an amount equal to the Council's 
recommendation for the upcoming fishing year. Because groundfish 
vessels are not able to fish if final catch limits have not been 
implemented, this measure was established to prevent disruption to the 
groundfish fishery. Additional description of the default catch limit 
mechanism is provided in the preamble to the Framework 53 final rule 
(80 FR 25110; May 1, 2015).
    The default catch limits for 2021 are shown in Table 10. The 
default limits would become effective May 1, 2021, until replaced by 
final specifications, although they will remain in effect through no 
later no later than July 31, 2021. The preliminary sector and common 
pool sub-ACLs in Table 10 are based on existing 2017 sector rosters, 
and will be adjusted for new specifications beginning in fishing year 
2021 based on rosters from the 2020 fishing year. In addition, prior to 
the start of the 2021 fishing year, we will evaluate whether any of the 
default catch limits announced in this rule exceed the Council's 
recommendations for 2021. If necessary, we will announce adjustments 
prior to May 1, 2021.

                                               Table 10--Default Specifications for the 2021 Fishing Year
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                            Preliminary
                          Stock                              U.S. ABC        Total ACL    Groundfish sub-   Preliminary     common pool   Midwater trawl
                                                                                                ACL       sector sub-ACL      sub-ACL         fishery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GOM Cod.................................................             800             764             684             671              13  ..............
GB Haddock..............................................             246             233             213             132               4  ..............
GOM Haddock.............................................          25,590          24,328          23,460          23,296             163           1,020
GB Yellowtail Flounder..................................           3,565           3,369           3,284           2,347              26              95
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder..............................               0               0               0               0               0  ..............
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..............................              24              23              11               9               2  ..............
American Plaice.........................................             179             172             139             133               6  ..............
Witch Flounder..........................................             522             497             476             467               9  ..............
GB Winter Flounder......................................             348             332             297             291               7  ..............
GOM Winter Flounder.....................................             284             276             256             254               2  ..............
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..................................             156             150             125             119               6  ..............
Redfish.................................................             254             245             181             160              22  ..............
White Hake..............................................           4,180           3,975           3,891           3,870              21  ..............
Pollock.................................................           1,028             978             957             950               8  ..............
N. Windowpane Flounder..................................          14,060          13,371          13,090          13,007              83  ..............
S. Windowpane Flounder..................................              32              30              22               0              22  ..............
Ocean Pout..............................................             166             160              18               0              18  ..............
Atlantic Halibut........................................              44              42              33               0              33  ..............
Atlantic Wolffish.......................................              36              35              27               0              27  ..............
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations

    As discussed above in Section 3, Catch Limits for Fishing Years 
2018-2020, the common pool sub-ACL for each stock (except for SNE/MA 
winter flounder, windowpane flounder, ocean pout, Atlantic wolffish, 
and Atlantic halibut) is further divided into trimester TACs. The 
percentages of the common pool sub-ACL allocated to each trimester, as 
determined in Amendment 16, are shown in Table 11. The Council 
developed this initial distribution based on recent fishing effort at 
the time after considering the influence of regulatory changes on 
recent landings patterns. Amendment 16 specified that the trimester TAC 
apportionment could be adjusted on a biennial basis with specifications 
based on the most recent 5-year period available. Framework 57 would 
grant the Regional Administrator authority to modify the trimester TAC 
apportionments, for stocks that have experienced early closures in 
Trimester 1 or 2, on a biennial basis using the process specified in 
Amendment 16.
    Framework 57 proposes to revise the apportionment of the common 
pool sub-ACL among the trimesters, using the calculation method 
specified in Amendment 16, for stocks that have experienced early 
closure in Trimester 1 or 2 since the 2010 fishing year. The stocks 
that meet these criteria are: GB cod; GOM cod; SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder; Cape Cod/GOM yellowtail flounder; American plaice; and witch 
flounder. The Trimester 1 portion of the sub-ACL for each of these 
stocks would increase, with the exception of SNE/MA yellowtail, which 
remains unchanged. The trimester 2 portion of the sub-ACL for each of 
these stocks would be reduced. The trimester 3 portion of the TAC would 
be unchanged for GB cod; increased for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder; and 
decreased for GOM cod, Cape Cod/GOM yellowtail flounder, American 
plaice, and witch flounder. The proposed trimester TAC apportionments 
for these stocks are shown in Table 12.

                           Table 11--Trimester TAC Apportionments Set in Amendment 16
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Trimester 1     Trimester 2     Trimester 3
                              Stock                                  (percent)       (percent)       (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................................              25              37              38
GOM Cod.........................................................              27              36              37

[[Page 12539]]

 
GB Haddock......................................................              27              33              40
GOM Haddock.....................................................              27              26              47
GB Yellowtail...................................................              19              30              52
SNE/MA Yellowtail...............................................              21              37              42
CC/GOM Yellowtail...............................................              35              35              30
American Plaice.................................................              24              36              40
Witch Flounder..................................................              27              31              42
GB Winter.......................................................               8              24              69
GOM Winter......................................................              37              38              25
Redfish.........................................................              25              31              44
White Hake......................................................              38              31              31
Pollock.........................................................              28              35              37
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                          Table 12--Proposed Revisions to Trimester TAC Apportionments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Trimester 1     Trimester 2     Trimester 3
                              Stock                                  (percent)       (percent)       (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................................              28              34              38
GOM Cod.........................................................              49              33              18
SNE/MA Yellowtail...............................................              21              28              51
CC/GOM Yellowtail...............................................              57              26              17
American Plaice.................................................              74               8              18
Witch Flounder..................................................              55              20              25
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. Adjustments Due to Fishing Year 2016 Overages

    If the overall ACL is exceeded due to catch from vessels fishing in 
state waters outside of the FMP or from vessels fishing in non-
groundfish fisheries that do not receive an allocation, the overage is 
distributed to the components of the fishery with an allocation. If a 
fishery component's catch and its share of the ACL overage exceed the 
component's allocation, then the applicable AMs must be implemented. In 
the case of the commercial groundfish fishery, the AMs require a 
reduction of the sector or common pool sub-ACL following an overage.
    In fishing year 2016, the overall ACL was exceeded for GOM cod and 
witch flounder, and the U.S. ABC was exceeded for GB cod (Table 13). 
This proposed rule includes a description of fishing year 2016 catch 
overages and required adjustments to fishing year 2018 allocations. 
These adjustments are not part of Framework 57. We are including them 
in conjunction with Framework 57 proposed measures for expediency 
purposes, and because they relate to the catch limits proposed in 
Framework 57.
    Total GB cod catch exceeded the total ACL and U.S. ABC due to a 
minor overage by the common pool (2.8 mt) and higher than expected 
catches by the state and other sub-components. Sectors did not fully 
harvest their allocation. The overage of the common pool sub-ACL has 
already been addressed, as required, through a reduction of the 2017 
common pool sub-ACL (82 FR 51778; November 8, 2017). The remaining 
overage (166 mt) must be paid back by the common pool and sectors in 
proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery ACL. The 
sector sub-ACL underage in 2016 reduces the adjustment to the 2018 
sector sub-ACL. No other fishery has an allocation of GB cod, and as a 
result, this overage is distributed only to sectors and the common 
pool.
    Total GOM cod catch exceeded the total ACL due to an overage by the 
recreational fishery and higher than expected catch by the state sub-
component. Both the sector and common pool sub-ACLs were 
underharvested. The recreational fishery's overage of its 2016 sub-ACL 
has been addressed by a change in recreational fishery management 
measures as an AM for fishing year 2017 (82 FR 35457; July 31, 2017). 
The remaining overage (50 mt) due to state waters catch must be 
distributed among the common pool, sectors, and the recreational 
fishery in proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery 
ACL. The commercial fishery AM for overages is a pound-for-pound 
payback that results in a deduction of the overage amount from the 
fishing year 2018 commercial fishery sub-ACLs. The sector and common 
pool sub-ACL underages in 2016 reduce the adjustment to the 2018 sector 
and common pool sub-ACLs. The portion of the overage allocated to the 
recreational fishery does not result in a pound-for-pound reduction of 
that sub-ACL. Rather, the recreational AM requires management measures 
for fishing year 2018 to be adjusted to address the overage.
    Total witch flounder catch exceeded the total ACL due to higher 
than expected catch from vessels fishing in state waters outside of the 
FMP. Both the sector and common pool sub-ACLs were underharvested. Only 
the commercial groundfish fishery has an allocation for this stock, so 
the remaining overage (38 mt) must be paid back by the common pool and 
sectors in proportion to their shares of the 2016 groundfish fishery 
ACL. The sector and common pool sub-ACL underages in 2016 reduce the 
adjustment to the 2018 sector and common pool sub-ACLs.
    Each sub-component's payback amounts for these stocks is shown in 
Table 14. Revised 2017 allocations, incorporating these payback 
amounts, for these stocks are shown in Table 15.

[[Page 12540]]



                                 Table 13--2016 ABCs, ACLs, Catch, and Overages
                                                [mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Amount to be
              Stock                  U.S. ABC        Total ACL         Catch          Overage        paid back
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................             762             730         1,132.1           402.1          165.97
GOM Cod.........................             500             473           633.7           160.7           37.66
Witch Flounder..................             878             441           460.3            19.3           19.20
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                         Table 14--2016 Payback Amounts
                                                [mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Stock                            Total          Sector        Common pool    Recreational
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................           402.1          162.57            3.40             n/a
GOM Cod.........................................           160.7           21.05            0.00           16.61
Witch Flounder..................................            19.3           19.15            0.05             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: ``n/a'' indicates that the stock is not allocated to that sub-component of the fishery. A value of 0.00
  indicates that no payback is required.


                                                           Table 15--Revised 2018 Allocations
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                              Initial         Revised
                                                                          Groundfish sub-     Initial         Revised       preliminary     preliminary
                          Stock                              Total ACL          ACL         preliminary     preliminary     common pool     common pool
                                                                                          sector sub-ACL  sector sub-ACL      sub-ACL         sub-ACL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..................................................           1,519           1,360        1,335.17        1,172.61           25.13           21.73
GOM Cod.................................................             666             610          376.92          355.87           12.73       unchanged
Witch Flounder..........................................             948             849          830.09          810.94           18.93           18.88
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Revisions to Atlantic Halibut Accountability Measures

    The FMP includes two reactive AMs for Atlantic halibut that affect 
the Federal commercial groundfish fishery. If the Atlantic halibut ACL 
is exceeded by an amount greater than the uncertainty buffer (i.e., the 
ABC is exceeded), then commercial groundfish vessels are prohibited 
from retaining Atlantic halibut and several gear-restricted areas are 
implemented for commercial groundfish vessels (Figure 1). When the 
Atlantic halibut AM is triggered, trawl vessels fishing in the Atlantic 
Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area may only use a haddock separator trawl, a 
Ruhle trawl, a rope separator trawl, or other approved gear. When in 
effect, groundfish vessels with gillnet or longline gear may not fish 
or be in the Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Areas, unless transiting 
with gear stowed or using approved gear.
    Framework 57 would extend the zero-possession AM to all Federal 
permit holders (including federally-permitted scallop, lobster, and 
highly migratory species general category vessels). Vessels issued only 
a Northeast multispecies charter/party permit, an Atlantic highly 
migratory species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory 
species charter/headboat permit would be exempt from the zero-
possession AM. Dealer data documents that federally-permitted vessels 
on non-groundfish trips, especially commercial vessels with lobster and 
highly migratory species permits, land significant amounts of halibut. 
The intent of expanding the AM is to reduce the catch of halibut by 
federally-permitted vessels not currently subject to the AM and to 
facilitate enforcement of Federal fishery limits. It is difficult to 
enforce the prohibition of possession at sea when some federally-
permitted vessels can possess Atlantic halibut in state waters. 
Prohibiting all federally-permitted vessels from possessing Atlantic 
halibut can be enforced at the dock as well as at sea. This is designed 
to ensure a reduction in directed fishing effort by federally-permitted 
vessels that is expected to increase the probability that catch will be 
below the ACL.
    Framework 57 would also modify the gear-restricted AM areas for 
Federal groundfish vessels using updated information. Based on an 
updated evaluation of the existing AM areas, the areas would be 
modified by allowing access to places and times where Atlantic halibut 
encounter rates are low, and protect areas and times where encounter 
rates are highest. This would allow groundfish trawl and fixed gear 
vessels additional flexibility while continuing to reduce catch of 
halibut when the AMs are triggered (Figure 2). Framework 57 would 
eliminate the Fixed Gear AM Area 1 on Stellwagen Bank; exempt longline 
gear from Fixed Gear AM Area 2 on Platts Bank; allow gillnet gear in 
Fixed Gear AM Area 2 from November through February; and allow standard 
trawl gear in the Trawl Gear AM Area between 41 degrees 40 minutes N 
latitude and 42 degrees N latitude from April through July (see dashed 
line in Figure 2). These modifications would likely have minimal 
impacts on the Atlantic halibut stock due to the low encounter rates 
and low catch rates in the seasons and areas included, and would 
preserve fishing opportunities for vessels targeting other species.

[[Page 12541]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP22MR18.002


[[Page 12542]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP22MR18.003

8. Revisions to Southern Windowpane Flounder AMs for Non-Groundfish 
Trawl Vessels

    The southern windowpane flounder AMs are gear restricted areas that 
affect groundfish trawl vessels and non-groundfish trawl vessels using 
a codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 cm) or greater (see Figure 3). 
This includes vessels that target summer flounder, scup, and skates. 
The AM for large-mesh non-groundfish fisheries is implemented if the 
total ACL is exceeded by more than the management uncertainty buffer 
and catch by the other sub-component exceeds what was expected. When 
the AM is triggered, large-mesh non-groundfish vessels fishing with 
trawl gear with codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 cm) or greater are 
required to use selective trawl gear to minimize the catch of flatfish 
in the AM areas. Approved gears include the separator trawl, Ruhle 
trawl, mini-Ruhle trawl, and rope trawl, which are inefficient at 
catching the species targeted by the non-groundfish large-mesh trawl 
fleet. The FMP includes several provisions that allow a reduction in 
the size and duration of the AM for groundfish vessels if certain stock 
status criteria are met. Framework 57 would extend similar provisions 
to the large mesh non-groundfish fleet and modify the current gear 
restricted areas that would apply to the non-groundfish fleet when an 
AM is triggered.

[[Page 12543]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP22MR18.004

Reducing the Size of the AM

    Framework 57 would scale the size of the AM areas based on the 
condition of the stock and catch in the year after the overage. Similar 
to the AM for the groundfish fishery, when the stock is rebuilt and the 
biomass criterion (defined below) is greater than the fishing year 
catch, the AM areas may be adjusted to reflect these conditions. Based 
on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas, Framework 57 would 
reduce the size of the AM areas and shorten the seasons for non-
groundfish trawl vessels using a 5-inch (12.7-cm) mesh or greater cod 
end. These modifications would allow additional flexibility for 
affected vessels while continuing to reduce impacts on the southern 
windowpane stock, similar to provisions already implemented for the 
groundfish fishery.
    When the large AM area has been triggered, we would then determine 
whether the following criteria are met:
    (1) The stock is rebuilt; and
    (2) The biomass criterion is greater than the fishing year catch. 
Framework 57 defines the biomass criterion as the 3-year centered 
average of the 3 most recent surveys multiplied by 75 percent of the 
FMSY of the most recent assessment. FMSY is the 
fishing mortality rate that, if applied over the long term, would 
result in maximum sustainable yield.
    If we determine that these criteria are met, the small AM area 
would be implemented rather than the large AM area. This AM trigger 
would better account for the uncertainty associated with this index-
based stock because it would evaluate an overage in the context of the 
biomass and exploitation trends in the stock assessment. As explained 
in the EA, using survey information to determine the size of the AM is 
appropriate because windowpane flounder is assessed with an index-based 
method, possession is prohibited, and the ABCs and ACLs are not based 
on a projection that accounts for possible increases in biomass over 
time. This change would minimize the economic impacts of the AM for a 
rebuilt stock, while still correcting for any overage and mitigating 
potential biological consequences.

Reducing the Duration of the AM

    This action also proposes to grant the Regional Administrator 
authority to remove the southern windowpane flounder AM early for non-
groundfish trawl vessels if certain criteria are met. If an overage in 
year 1 triggers the AM for year 3, and we determine that the applicable 
windowpane flounder ACL was not exceeded in year 2, then the Regional 
Administrator would be authorized to remove the AM on or after 
September 1 once year-end data for year 2 are complete. This reduced 
duration would not occur if we determine during year 3 that a year 3 
overage of the southern windowpane flounder ACL has occurred. Final 
year-end catch data are not available until several months after the 
end of the fishing year, which results in delayed implementation of AMs 
for southern windowpane flounder. Because of this delay, it is possible 
that, although an overage occurs in year 1, a subsequent overage may 
not occur in year 2. If an overage does not occur in year 2, 
implementing an AM for the entire duration of year 3 may not be 
necessary. An underage in year 2, coupled with an AM for at least 4 
months of year 3, would sufficiently correct and mitigate any overage 
for southern windowpane flounder, while continuing to provide an 
incentive to avoid future overages. This proposed provision is similar 
to provisions already implemented for the groundfish fishery.

Modification of the Gear-Restricted Areas

    Framework 57 would revise the area and season of the AM areas for 
non-groundfish trawl vessels using a codend mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 
cm) or greater based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM areas 
using recent data (see Figure 4). The geographic area of the small AM 
area would remain unchanged, but the AM would be in effect from 
September through April, rather than the whole year. The large AM area 
south of Long Island would remain unchanged, but the large AM area east 
of Long Island would shrink to a smaller geographic area made up of the 
small AM area and the eastern most 10-minute square of the current 
large AM area. Both large AM areas would be closed year-round when 
triggered. These changes would not affect the AM

[[Page 12544]]

areas applicable to groundfish trawl vessels. Based on recent data, 
these modifications are likely to have minimal impacts on the southern 
windowpane flounder stock because of the low bycatch ratios documented 
in the areas that would no longer be closed. The revised areas are 
intended to provide additional opportunities for the non-groundfish 
fleet to pursue target stocks, while still maintaining the necessary 
conservation benefits of the AMs.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP22MR18.005

9. Revision to the SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder AMs for Scallop Vessels

    The scallop fishery is allocated sub-ACLs for four stocks: GB 
yellowtail flounder; SNE/MA yellowtail flounder; northern windowpane 
flounder; and southern windowpane flounder. These allocations are made 
to manage the scallop fishery's bycatch of these stocks and mitigate 
potential negative impacts to the groundfish fishery. Framework 47 (77 
FR 26104; May 2, 2012) established a policy for triggering scallop 
fishery AMs. The AMs are triggered if the scallop fishery either 
exceeds its sub-ACL for a stock and the overall ACL for that stock is 
exceeded, or the scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL for a stock by 50 
or more percent. Framework 56 (82 FR 35660; August 1, 2017) made a 
change to this policy for GB yellowtail flounder and northern 
windowpane flounder to remove the second trigger for the 2017 and 2018 
fishing years. Thus, the AMs for GB yellowtail flounder and northern 
windowpane flounder are triggered only if the scallop fishery exceeds 
its sub-ACL and the overall ACL is exceeded. Framework 57 would expand 
that change to the SNE/MA yellowtail flounder stock for the 2018 
fishing year.
    For fishing year 2018, the AM for the scallop fishery's sub-ACL 
would be triggered only if the scallop fishery's sub-ACL and the 
overall ACL for the stock is exceeded. Framework 57 would reduce the 
2018 SNE/MA yellowtail flounder ABC by 75 percent when compared to 
2017. Overfishing occurs when the overfishing limit is exceeded and is 
likely to occur only if the total ACL is exceeded, which would trigger 
the AM to prevent subsequent ACL overages and correct the cause of the 
overage. The intent of this change to the trigger is to provide 
flexibility for the scallop fishery to better achieve optimal yield, 
despite a reduction in the ACL, while continuing to prevent 
overfishing. To align with changes to the AM triggers for GB yellowtail 
flounder and northern windowpane flounder, and to reduce the potential 
risk for the groundfish fishery, this change would be effective for 1 
year.

10. Recreational Fishery Measures

    GB cod is not allocated to the recreational fishery. Instead, a 
catch target is set. Recreational fishery management measures were 
designed and put in place to control recreational catch. The Council 
set the recreational measures for GB cod in 2010 through Amendment 16. 
The current recreational minimum size for GB cod is 22 inches (55.9 
cm), and private recreational vessels have a possession limit of 10 
fish per person per day. There is no possession limit for charter or 
party vessels. The recreational fishery does not have an allocation of 
GB cod, and as a result, no AMs apply to this fishery in the event of 
an ACL overage. The Council must undertake an action (amendment or 
framework adjustment) to make changes to the recreational measures.
    In response to increasing recreational catch in recent years and 
unusually high recreational catch in 2016 that contributed to an ACL 
overage, the Council calculated a recreational catch target for GB cod 
of 138 mt for 2018-2020. This catch target was calculated using the 
average catch (landings and discards) of the most recent 5 calendar 
years included in the GB cod stock assessment. This catch target was 
used in setting the values of the state and other sub-components (see 
Appendix II of the EA). To prevent future overages of the GB cod ACL, 
Framework 57 would give the Regional Administrator authority to set 
recreational measures for fishing years 2018 and 2019 to prevent the 
catch target from being

[[Page 12545]]

exceeded. After consultation with the Council, any changes to 
recreational measures would be made consistent with the Administrative 
Procedure Act.
    This action only proposes to grant the Regional Administrator 
authority to change recreational management measures for GB cod. 
However, no changes to recreational measures are included in this 
action. A separate rulemaking expected in March 2018 will consider GOM 
cod and haddock and GB cod recreational management measures for the 
2018 fishing year.

11. Fishing Year 2018 Annual Measures Under Regional Administrator 
Regulatory Authority

    The FMP and its implementing regulations gives the Regional 
Administrator authority to implement certain types of management 
measures for the common pool fishery, the U.S./Canada Management Area, 
and Special Management Programs on an annual basis, or as needed. This 
proposed rule includes a description of these management measures that 
are being considered for the 2018 fishing year to provide an 
opportunity for the public to comment on whether the proposed measures 
are appropriate. These measures are not part of Framework 57, and were 
not specifically proposed by the Council. We are proposing them in 
conjunction with Framework 57 measures in this action for expediency 
purposes, and because they relate to the catch limits proposed in 
Framework 57.

Common Pool Trip Limits

    Tables 16 and 17 provide a summary of the current common pool trip 
limits for fishing year 2017 and the initial trip limits proposed for 
fishing year 2018. The proposed 2018 trip limits were developed after 
considering changes to the common pool sub-ACLs and potential sector 
enrollment, proposed trimester TACs for 2018, catch rates of each stock 
during 2017, and other available information.
    The default cod trip limit is 300 lb (136 kg) for Handgear A 
vessels and 75 lb (34 kg) for Handgear B vessels. If the GOM or GB cod 
landing limit for vessels fishing on a groundfish DAS drops below 300 
lb (136 kg), then the respective Handgear A cod trip limit must be 
reduced to the same limit. Similarly, the Handgear B trip limit must be 
adjusted proportionally (rounded up to the nearest 25 lb (11 kg)) to 
the DAS limit. This action proposes a GOM cod landing limit of 50 lb 
(23 kg) per DAS for vessels fishing on a groundfish DAS, which is 94 
percent lower than the default limit specified in the regulations for 
these vessels (800 lb (363 kg) per DAS). As a result, the proposed 
Handgear A trip limit for GOM cod would be reduced to 50 lb (23 kg) per 
trip, and the proposed Handgear B trip limit for GOM cod would be 
maintained at 25 lb (11 kg) per trip. This action proposes a GB cod 
landing limit of 100 lb (45 kg) per DAS for vessels fishing on a 
groundfish DAS, which is 95 percent lower than the 2,000-lb (907-kg) 
per DAS default limit specified in the regulations for these vessels. 
As a result, the proposed Handgear A trip limit for GB cod would be 100 
lb (45 kg) per trip, and the proposed Handgear B trip limit for GB cod 
would be 25 lb (11 kg) per trip.
    Vessels with a Small Vessel category permit can possess up to 300 
lb (136 kg) of cod, haddock, and yellowtail, combined, per trip. For 
the 2018 fishing year, we are proposing that the maximum amount of GOM 
cod and haddock (within the 300-lb (136-kg) trip limit) be set equal to 
the possession limits applicable to multispecies DAS vessels (see Table 
16). This adjustment is necessary to ensure that the trip limit 
applicable to the Small Vessel category permit is consistent with 
reductions to the trip limits for other common pool vessels, as 
described above.

  Table 16--Proposed Common Pool Trip Limits for the 2018 Fishing Year
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Current 2017 trip  Proposed 2018 trip
              Stock                      limit               limit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod (outside Eastern U.S./     Possession          100 lb (45 kg) per
 Canada Area).                     Prohibited.         DAS,
                                                      up to 200 lb (91
                                                       kg) per trip
GB Cod (inside Eastern U.S./      ..................  100 lb (45 kg) per
 Canada Area).                                         DAS, up to 500
                                                       (227 kg) lb per
                                                       trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GOM Cod.........................  25 lb (11 kg) per   50 lb (23 kg) per
                                   DAS, up to 100 lb   DAS, up to 100 lb
                                   (45 kg) per trip.   (45 kg) per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Haddock......................     100,000 lb (45,359 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
GOM Haddock.....................  500 lb (227 kg)     1,000 lb (454 kg)
                                   per DAS, up to      per DAS, up to
                                   1,000 lb (454 kg)   2,000 lb (907 kg)
                                   per trip.           per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........         100 lb (45 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder......  500 lb (227 kg)     100 lb (45 kg) per
                                   per DAS, up to      DAS, up to 200 lb
                                   1,000 lb per trip.  (91 kg) per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cape Cod (CC)/GOM Yellowtail       750 lb (340 kg) per DAS, up to 1,500
 Flounder.                                 lb (680 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
American plaice.................  500 lb (227 kg)     750 lb (340 kg)
                                   per trip.           per DAS, up to
                                                       1,500 lb (680 kg)
                                                       per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Witch Flounder..................         400 lb (181 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
GB Winter Flounder..............         250 lb (113 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
GOM Winter Flounder.............  2,000 lb (907 kg)   1,000 lb (454 kg)
                                   per trip.           per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........  2,000 lb (907 kg) per DAS, up to 4,000
                                          lb (1,814 kg) per trip.
                                 ---------------------------------------
Redfish.........................                Unlimited.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 12546]]

 
White hake......................        1,500 lb (680 kg) per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.........................                Unlimited.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic Halibut................             1 fish per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Windowpane Flounder.............
Ocean Pout......................          Possession Prohibited.
Atlantic Wolffish...............
------------------------------------------------------------------------


   Table 17--Proposed Cod Trips Limits for Handgear A, Handgear B, and
         Small Vessel Category Permits for the 2018 Fishing Year
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Current 2017 trip  Proposed 2017 trip
             Permit                      limit               limit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Handgear A GOM Cod..............  25 lb (11 kg) per   50 lb (23 kg) per
                                   trip.               trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Handgear A GB Cod...............  Possession          100 lb (45 kg) per
                                   Prohibited.         trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Handgear B GOM Cod..............          25 lb (11 kg) per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Handgear B GB Cod...............  Possession          25 lb (11 kg) per
                                   Prohibited.         trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Vessel Category...........   300 lb (136 kg) of cod, haddock, and
                                       yellowtail flounder combined;
                                    additionally, vessels are limited to
                                     the common pool DAS limit for all
                                                  stocks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP

    This action proposes to allocate zero trips for common pool vessels 
to target yellowtail flounder within the Closed Area II Yellowtail 
Flounder/Haddock SAP for fishing year 2018. Vessels could still fish in 
this SAP in 2018 to target haddock, but must fish with a haddock 
separator trawl, a Ruhle trawl, or hook gear. Vessels would not be 
allowed to fish in this SAP using flounder trawl nets. This SAP is open 
from August 1, 2018, through January 31, 2019.
    We have the authority to determine the allocation of the total 
number of trips into the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP 
based on several criteria, including the GB yellowtail flounder catch 
limit and the amount of GB yellowtail flounder caught outside of the 
SAP. The FMP specifies that no trips should be allocated to the Closed 
Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP if the available GB yellowtail 
flounder catch is insufficient to support at least 150 trips with a 
15,000-lb (6,804-kg) trip limit (or 2,250,000 lb (1,020,600 kg)). This 
calculation accounts for the projected catch from the area outside the 
SAP. Based on the proposed fishing year 2018 GB yellowtail flounder 
groundfish sub-ACL of 372,581 lb (169,000 kg), there is insufficient GB 
yellowtail flounder to allocate any trips to the SAP, even if the 
projected catch from outside the SAP area is zero. Further, given the 
low GB yellowtail flounder catch limit, catch rates outside of this SAP 
are more than adequate to fully harvest the 2018 GB yellowtail flounder 
allocation.

12. Administrative Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial Authority

    This rule proposes to correct a minor error in the regulations that 
specify the apportionment of the common pool sub-ACLs among the 
trimesters. This change is proposed under the authority of section 
305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which states that the Secretary of 
Commerce may promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that FMPs or 
amendments are implemented in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
The proposed change to the regulations is necessary to correct a 
rounding error and ensure that not more than 100 percent of the common 
pool sub-ACL is allocated among the trimesters.
    In Sec.  648.82(n), the proportion of the common pool sub-ACLs 
allocated to each trimester for GB yellowtail flounder and GB winter 
flounder are corrected to sum to 100 percent to address a previous 
rounding error. The distribution of the common pool sub-ACLs into 
trimesters was adopted in Amendment 16 to the FMP and was based on 
landing patterns at that time. Due to a rounding error in the 
calculations, the apportionment of the TAC among trimesters for GB 
yellowtail flounder and GB winter flounder each adds up to 101 percent. 
Although this error has not lead to overages, we are correcting this 
error to ensure that not more than 100 percent of the common pool sub-
ACL is allocated among the trimesters.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Assistant Administrator has 
made a preliminary determination that this proposed rule is consistent 
with Framework 57, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law. In making the final determination, we will 
consider the data, views, and comments received during the public 
comment period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    This proposed rule does not contain policies with Federalism or 
takings implications as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 
12630, respectively.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual determination for this determination is as follows.

[[Page 12547]]

    Periodic framework adjustments are used to revise the Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in response to new 
information to support catch limits that prevent overfishing and other 
adjustments to improve management measures included in the FMP. 
Framework 57 proposes to revise groundfish catch limits for 20 
groundfish stocks for fishing years 2018-2020 (May 1, 2018, through 
April 30, 2020), adjust several allocations and AMs for groundfish 
catch in non-groundfish fisheries, and make other administrative 
changes to groundfish management measures. Our analysis of the likely 
economic impacts of Framework 57 measures predicts that the proposed 
action will have positive impacts on fishing vessels, purchasers of 
seafood products, recreational anglers, and operators of party/charter 
businesses.
    For purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, NMFS established a 
small business size standard for businesses, including their 
affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 
200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 
11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned 
and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 
million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The determination 
of whether the entity is large or small is based on the average annual 
revenue for the most recent 3 years for which data are available (from 
2014 through 2016).
    As of May 1, 2016 (beginning of fishing year 2016), NMFS had issued 
899 limited access groundfish permits associated with vessels, 453 open 
access groundfish handgear permits, 733 limited access and general 
category Atlantic sea scallop permits, 766 small-mesh multispecies 
permits, 81 Atlantic herring permits, and 794 permits to vessels that 
are not permitted in the groundfish fishery but have been active in the 
large-mesh non-groundfish fishery over the past year. Therefore, this 
action potentially regulates 3,727 permits. Some of these permits are 
issued to the same vessel. When accounting for this overlap between 
fisheries, this action potentially regulates 2,393 permitted vessels. 
Each vessel may be individually owned or part of a larger corporate 
ownership structure. For RFA purposes, the proposed action ultimately 
regulates the ownership entity. Ownership entities are identified on 
June 1 of each year based on the list of all permit numbers, for the 
most recent complete calendar year, that have applied for any type of 
Northeast Federal fishing permit. The current ownership data set is 
based on calendar year 2016 permits and contains gross sales associated 
with those permits for calendar years 2014 through 2016.
    Based on the ownership data, 1,798 distinct business entities hold 
at least one permit that the proposed action potentially regulates. Of 
these, 205 are inactive and do not have revenues. Of the 1,798 
entities, 1,789 entities are categorized as small, and 9 entities are 
categorized as large.
    This action would set catch limits for groundfish stocks and revise 
AMs for numerous fisheries that catch groundfish species. These 
measures would enhance the operational flexibility of fishermen and 
increase profits. The measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to 
have a positive economic effect on small entities because they are 
expected to generate $27 million in additional gross revenues, compared 
to expected gross revenues if no action is taken. The measures are also 
expected to generate $9 million in additional gross revenues relative 
to the most recent fishing year. Additional details of these economic 
analyses are included in Framework 57 (see ADDRESSES).

Description of Proposed Framework 57 Measures

Annual Catch Limits

    This action would set 2018-2020 catch limits for 20 groundfish 
stocks and 2018 catch limits for the 3 stocks jointly managed with 
Canada (Eastern Georges Bank (GB) cod, Eastern GB haddock, and GB 
yellowtail flounder) based on assessments completed in 2017.

Revisions to Common Pool Trimester Allocations

    The common pool quota for each stock is split into trimester total 
allowable catches (TAC) in fixed proportions based on historic fishing 
effort, and this distribution has not been changed since 2010. Using 
recent data, Framework 57 revises the proportion of the TAC allocated 
to each trimester for six stocks that have experienced early closures 
in either Trimester 1 or 2 since 2012. Framework 57 would also grant 
authority to the Regional Administrator to modify future trimester TAC 
allocations under specific circumstances to help provide an opportunity 
to achieve the catch targets.

Revised Atlantic Halibut AM

    Framework 57 would expand the existing zero-possession AM to all 
vessels issued a Federal permit, excluding vessels issued only a 
Federal multispecies charter/party permit, an Atlantic highly migratory 
species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly migratory species 
charter/headboat permit.
    When the total ACL is exceeded, groundfish vessels are also subject 
to several gear-restricted areas. Framework 57 would also revise the 
existing Atlantic halibut AM gear-restricted areas using updated 
information. The modifications would allow groundfish trawl and fixed 
gear vessels additional flexibility while continuing to reduce catch of 
halibut when the AMs are triggered.

Revised Southern Windowpane Flounder AM for Non-Groundfish Vessels

    The proposed measure would scale the size of the southern 
windowpane AM area based on the condition of the stock and catch in the 
year after the overage for non-groundfish fisheries, but would not 
alter the AM trigger. Based on an updated evaluation of the existing AM 
areas, Framework 57 would allow reduced AM areas and seasons for non-
groundfish trawl vessels using a 5-inch mesh or greater cod end.

Atlantic Scallop Fishery AM Policy

    For fishing year 2018, the AM for the scallop fishery would only be 
triggered if the overall ACL for the stock is exceeded and the scallop 
fishery exceeds its sub-ACL. This change would be effective for 1 year, 
and is identical to the scallop fishery's AM trigger for GB yellowtail 
flounder and northern windowpane flounder.

Recreational Fishery Measures

    Framework 57 would provide authority to the Regional Administrator 
to adjust recreational measures for GB cod in 2018 and 2019. This 
authority is intended to address recent increases in the recreational 
fishery catch of GB cod and to ensure the fishery does not exceed its 
catch target. Potential changes to the GB cod recreational measures 
would be proposed in a separate rule and the economic impacts on party/
charter small entities would be analyzed under that action.
    Overall, the measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to have 
a positive economic effect on small entities. This action would provide 
additional fishing opportunities, enhanced operational flexibility, and 
increased profits to fishermen in the groundfish, scallop, summer 
flounder, scup, and skate fisheries.

[[Page 12548]]

    This action is not expected to have a significant or substantial 
effect on small entities. The effects on the regulated small entities 
identified in this analysis are expected to be positive in comparison 
with the no action alternative, which would result in lower revenues 
and profits than under the proposed action. Under the proposed action, 
small entities would not be placed at a competitive disadvantage 
relative to large entities, and the regulations would not reduce the 
profits for any small entities relative to taking no action. Thus, this 
proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 16, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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


    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
0
2. In Sec.  648.14, revise paragraphs (k)(18) and (20) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.14   Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (18) Trimester TAC AM. It is unlawful for any person, including any 
owner or operator of a vessel issued a valid Federal NE multispecies 
permit or letter under Sec.  648.4(a)(1)(i), unless otherwise specified 
in Sec.  648.17, to fish for, harvest, possess, or land regulated 
species or ocean pout in or from the closed areas specified in Sec.  
648.82(n)(2)(ii) once such areas are closed pursuant to Sec.  
648.82(n)(2)(i).
* * * * *
    (20) AMs for both stocks of windowpane flounder, ocean pout, 
Atlantic halibut, and Atlantic wolffish. It is unlawful for any person, 
including any owner or operator of a vessel issued a valid Federal NE 
multispecies permit or letter under Sec.  648.4(a)(1)(i), unless 
otherwise specified in Sec.  648.17, to fail to comply with the 
restrictions on fishing and gear specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(i)(D) 
through (H).
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.82, revise paragraph (n)(2)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.82  Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access 
vessels.

* * * * *
    (n) * * *
    (2)* * *
    (i) Trimester TACs-- (A) Trimester TAC distribution. With the 
exception of SNE/MA winter flounder, any sub-ACLs specified for common 
pool vessels pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(4) shall be apportioned into 
4-month trimesters, beginning at the start of the fishing year (i.e., 
Trimester 1: May 1-August 31; Trimester 2: September 1-December 31; 
Trimester 3: January 1-April 30), as follows:

                  Portion of Common Pool Sub-ACLs Apportioned to Each Stock for Each Trimester
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Trimester 1     Trimester 2     Trimester 3
                              Stock                                  (percent)       (percent)       (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB cod..........................................................              28              34              38
GOM cod.........................................................              49              33              18
GB haddock......................................................              27              33              40
GOM haddock.....................................................              27              26              47
GB yellowtail flounder..........................................              19              30              51
SNE/MA yellowtail flounder......................................              21              28              51
CC/GOM yellowtail flounder......................................              57              26              17
American plaice.................................................              74               8              18
Witch flounder..................................................              55              20              25
GB winter flounder..............................................               8              24              68
GOM winter flounder.............................................              37              38              25
Redfish.........................................................              25              31              44
White hake......................................................              38              31              31
Pollock.........................................................              28              35              37
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (B) Trimester TAC adjustment. For stocks that have experienced 
early closures (e.g., Trimester 1 or Trimester 2 closures), the 
Regional Administrator may use the biennial adjustment process 
specified in Sec.  648.90 to revise the distribution of trimester TACs 
specified in paragraph (n)(2)(i)(A) of this section. Future adjustments 
to the distribution of trimester TACs shall use catch data for the most 
recent 5-year period prior to the reevaluation of trimester TACs.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  648.89, add paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.89   Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions.

* * * * *
    (g) Regional Administrator authority for 2018 and 2019 Georges Bank 
cod recreational measures. For the 2018 or 2019 fishing years, the 
Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, may adjust 
recreational measures for Georges Bank cod to prevent the recreational 
fishery from exceeding the annual catch target of 138 mt. Appropriate 
measures, including adjustments to fishing seasons, minimum fish sizes, 
or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner consistent with 
the Administrative Procedure Act, with the final measures published in 
the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year when 
possible. Separate measures may be implemented for the private and 
charter/party components of the recreational fishery. Measures in place 
in fishing year 2019 will be in effect beginning in fishing year 2020, 
and will remain in effect until they are changed by a Framework 
Adjustment or Amendment to the FMP, or through an emergency action.

[[Page 12549]]

0
5. Section 648.90 is amended by:
0
a. Removing reserved paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E);
0
b. Redesignating paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(D)(1) through (4) as paragraphs 
(a)(5)(i)(E) through (H);
0
c. Revising newly redesignated paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(E) through (H); and
0
d. Adding paragraph (a)(5)(iv)(C).
    The revisions and addition read as follows:


Sec.  648.90   NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and 
specifications, and flexible area action system.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (E) Windowpane flounder. Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs 
(a)(5)(i)(E)(5) and (6) of this section, if NMFS determines the total 
catch exceeds the overall ACL for either stock of windowpane flounder, 
as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E), by any amount greater than 
the management uncertainty buffer, up to 20 percent greater than the 
overall ACL, the applicable small AM area for the stock shall be 
implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. If the overall ACL is 
exceeded by more than 20 percent, the applicable large AM area(s) for 
the stock shall be implemented, as specified in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(E), consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. Vessels 
fishing with trawl gear in these areas may only use a haddock separator 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as 
specified in Sec.  648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as 
specified in Sec.  648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent 
with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6).
    (1) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane 
flounder is a result of an overage of the sub-ACL allocated to the 
multispecies fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this 
section, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect year-round for 
any limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE 
multispecies DAS or sector trip.
    (2) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane 
flounder is a result of an overage of the sub-ACL allocated to exempted 
fisheries pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(F) of this section, the 
applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect for any trawl vessel fishing 
with a codend mesh size of greater than or equal to 5 inches (12.7 cm) 
in other, non-specified sub-components of the fishery, including, but 
not limited to, exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and 
fisheries harvesting exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3). 
If triggered, the Southern Windowpane Flounder Small AM Area will be 
implemented from September 1 through April 30; the Southern Windowpane 
Flounder Large AM Areas 2 and 3 will be implemented year-round.
    (3) If an overage of the overall ACL for southern windowpane 
flounder is a result of overages of both the multispecies fishery and 
exempted fishery sub-ACLs, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect 
for both the multispecies fishery and exempted fisheries as described 
in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E). If a sub-ACL for either stock of 
windowpane flounder is allocated to another fishery, consistent with 
the process specified at paragraph (a)(4) of this section, and there 
are AMs for that fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be 
implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is 
exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular 
stock, including the common pool's share of any overage of the overall 
ACL caused by excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery 
pursuant to paragraph (a)(5) of this section exceeds the common pool 
sub-ACL) and the overall ACL is also exceeded.
    (4) Windowpane AM Areas. The AM areas defined below are bounded by 
the following coordinates, connected in the order listed by rhumb 
lines, unless otherwise noted.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      67[deg]40'
2.......................................      41[deg]10'      67[deg]20'
3.......................................      41[deg]00'      67[deg]20'
4.......................................      41[deg]00'      67[deg]00'
5.......................................      40[deg]50'      67[deg]00'
6.......................................      40[deg]50'      67[deg]40'
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      67[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      42[deg]10'      67[deg]40'
2.......................................      42[deg]10'      67[deg]20'
3.......................................      41[deg]00'      67[deg]20'
4.......................................      41[deg]00'      67[deg]00'
5.......................................      40[deg]50'      67[deg]00'
6.......................................      40[deg]50'      67[deg]40'
1.......................................      42[deg]10'      67[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]30'
2.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]20'
3.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]20'
4.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]30'
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]50'
2.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]10'
3.......................................      41[deg]00'      71[deg]10'
4.......................................      41[deg]00'      71[deg]20'
5.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]20'
6.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]50'
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]50'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................           (\1\)      73[deg]30'
2.......................................      40[deg]30'      73[deg]30'
3.......................................      40[deg]30'      73[deg]50'
4.......................................      40[deg]20'      73[deg]50'
5.......................................      40[deg]20'           (\2\)
6.......................................           (\3\)    73[deg]58.5'
7.......................................           (\4\)    73[deg]58.5'
8.......................................             \5\             \5\
                                            40[deg]32.6'    73[deg]56.4'
1.......................................           (\1\)      73[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Southern Windowpane Flounder Large AM Area 3
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]30'
2.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]10'
3.......................................      41[deg]00'      71[deg]10'
4.......................................      41[deg]00'      71[deg]20'
5.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]20'
6.......................................      40[deg]50'      71[deg]30'
1.......................................      41[deg]10'      71[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The southernmost coastline of Long Island, NY, at 73[deg]30' W
  longitude.
\2\ The easternmost coastline of NJ at 40[deg]20' N latitude, then
  northward along the NJ coastline to Point 6.
\3\ The northernmost coastline of NJ at 73[deg]58.5' W longitude.
\4\ The southernmost coastline of Long Island, NY, at 73[deg]58.5' W
  longitude.
\5\ The approximate location of the southwest corner of the Rockaway
  Peninsula, Queens, NY, then eastward along the southernmost coastline
  of Long Island, NY (excluding South Oyster Bay), back to Point 1.

    (5) Reducing the size of an AM. If the overall northern or southern 
windowpane flounder ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent and NMFS 
determines that the stock is rebuilt, and the biomass criterion, as 
defined by the Council, is greater than the most recent fishing year's 
catch, then only the small AM may be implemented as described in 
paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D)(1) of this section, consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act. This provision applies to a limited 
access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies 
DAS or sector trip, and to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a 
codend mesh size equal to or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, 
non-specified sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited 
to, exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries 
harvesting

[[Page 12550]]

exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3).
    (6) Reducing the duration of an AM. If the northern or southern 
windowpane flounder AM is implemented in the third fishing year 
following the year of an overage, as described in paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D) of this section, and NMFS subsequently determines that the 
applicable windowpane flounder ACL was not exceeded by any amount the 
year immediately after which the overage occurred (i.e., the second 
year), on or after September 1 the AM can be removed once year-end data 
are complete. This reduced duration does not apply if NMFS determines 
during year 3 that a year 3 overage of the applicable windowpane 
flounder ACL has occurred. This provision applies to a limited access 
NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or 
sector trip, and to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend 
mesh size equal to or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, non-
specified sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, 
exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries 
harvesting exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3).
    (F) Atlantic halibut. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for 
Atlantic halibut is exceeded, as described in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(F), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty 
buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented and any vessel 
issued a Federal permit for any fishery management plan may not fish 
for, possess, or land Atlantic halibut for the fishing year in which 
the AM is implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(F) of this 
section. Vessels issued only a charter/party permit, and/or an Atlantic 
highly migratory species angling permit, and/or an Atlantic highly 
migratory species charter/headboat permit are exempt from the AM. A 
vessel issued a permit that is not exempt from the AM in addition to an 
exempt permit may not fish for, possess, or land Atlantic halibut for 
the fishing year in which the AM is implemented. If the overall ACL is 
exceeded by more than 20 percent, the applicable AM area(s) for the 
stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(F) of 
this section, and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. 
The AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. 
Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and fishing 
with trawl gear in the Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area may only use 
a haddock separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); 
a Ruhle trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope 
separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.84(e); or any other gear 
approved consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6); 
except that selective trawl gear is not required in the portion of the 
Trawl Gear AM Area between 41 degrees 40 minutes and 42 degrees from 
April 1 through July 31. When in effect, a limited access NE 
multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet gear may not fish or be in 
the Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Area from March 1 through October 
31, unless transiting with its gear stowed and not available for 
immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2, or such gear was approved 
consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL 
for Atlantic halibut is allocated to another fishery, consistent with 
the process specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), and there are AMs for that 
fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be implemented if the 
sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is exceeded (i.e., the 
sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the 
common pool's share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by 
excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery pursuant to 
Sec.  648.90(a)(5), exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall 
ACL is also exceeded.

                   Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      42[deg]00'      69[deg]20'
2.......................................      42[deg]00'      68[deg]20'
3.......................................      41[deg]30'      68[deg]20'
4.......................................      41[deg]30'      69[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                  Atlantic Halibut Gillnet Gear AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      43[deg]10'      69[deg]40'
2.......................................      43[deg]10'      69[deg]30'
3.......................................      43[deg]00'      69[deg]30'
4.......................................      43[deg]00'      69[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (G) Atlantic wolffish. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for 
Atlantic wolffish is exceeded, as described in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(G), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty 
buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented, as specified in 
this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(G). If the overall ACL is exceeded by more 
than 20 percent, the applicable AM area(s) for the stock shall be 
implemented, as specified in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(G), and the 
Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The AM areas defined 
below are bounded by the following coordinates, connected in the order 
listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Any vessel issued a 
limited access NE multispecies permit and fishing with trawl gear in 
the Atlantic Wolffish Trawl Gear AM Area may only use a haddock 
separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.84(e); or any other gear approved 
consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). When in 
effect, a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet 
or longline gear may not fish or be in the Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear 
AM Areas, unless transiting with its gear stowed and not available for 
immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2, or such gear was approved 
consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL 
for Atlantic wolffish is allocated to another fishery, consistent with 
the process specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), and AMs are developed for 
that fishery, the multispecies fishery AM shall only be implemented if 
the sub-ACL allocated to the multispecies fishery is exceeded (i.e., 
the sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the 
common pool's share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by 
excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery pursuant to 
Sec.  648.90(a)(5), exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall 
ACL is also exceeded.

                  Atlantic Wolffish Trawl Gear AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      42[deg]30'      70[deg]30'
2.......................................      42[deg]30'      70[deg]15'
3.......................................      42[deg]15'      70[deg]15'
4.......................................      42[deg]15'      70[deg]10'
5.......................................      42[deg]10'      70[deg]10'
6.......................................      42[deg]10'      70[deg]20'
7.......................................      42[deg]20'      70[deg]20'
8.......................................      42[deg]20'      70[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                 Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      41[deg]40'      69[deg]40'
2.......................................      41[deg]40'      69[deg]30'
3.......................................      41[deg]30'      69[deg]30'
4.......................................      41[deg]30'      69[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 12551]]


                 Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................      42[deg]30'      70[deg]20'
2.......................................      42[deg]30'      70[deg]15'
3.......................................      42[deg]20'      70[deg]15'
4.......................................      42[deg]20'      70[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (H) Ocean pout. Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs 
(a)(5)(i)(E)(5) and (6) of this section, if NMFS determines the total 
catch exceeds the overall ACL for ocean pout, as described in paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, by any amount greater than the management 
uncertainty buffer up to 20 percent greater than the overall ACL, the 
applicable small AM area for the stock shall be implemented, as 
specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, consistent with 
the Administrative Procedure Act. If the overall ACL is exceeded by 
more than 20 percent, large AM area(s) for the stock shall be 
implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E) of this section, 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. The AM areas for 
ocean pout are defined in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E)(4) of this section, 
connected in the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. 
Vessels fishing with trawl gear in these areas may only use a haddock 
separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.84(e); or any other gear approved 
consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6).
* * * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (C) 2018 fishing year threshold for implementing the Atlantic sea 
scallop fishery AM for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder. For the 2018 fishing 
year, if the scallop fishery catch exceeds its SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, and 
total catch exceeds the overall ACL for that stock, then the applicable 
scallop fishery AM will take effect, as specified in Sec.  648.64 of 
the Atlantic sea scallop regulations. Beginning in fishing year 2019, 
the threshold for implementing scallop fishery AMs for SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder listed in paragraph (a)(5)(iv)(A) of this section 
will be in effect.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-05755 Filed 3-21-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P