Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2018 Allocation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements and a Proposed Regulatory Exemption for Sectors, 12706-12713 [2018-05919]

Download as PDF 12706 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules a. Revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, (b) introductory text, (b)(2), and (c). ■ b. Redesignating paragraph (d) as paragraph (e). ■ c. Adding new paragraph (d). The revisions and addition read as follows: ■ amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS § 447.204 Medicaid provider participation and public process to inform access to care. (a) The agency’s payments must be consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care and sufficient to enlist enough providers so that services under the plan are available to beneficiaries at least to the extent that those services are available to the general population. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, in reviewing payment sufficiency, states are required to consider, prior to the submission of any state plan amendment that proposes to reduce or restructure Medicaid service payment rates: * * * * * (b) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, the State must submit to CMS with any such proposed State plan amendment affecting payment rates: * * * * * (2) An assurance that access to care is sufficient in accordance with section 1902(a)(30)(A) of the Act, and baseline data to support this conclusion; and * * * * * (c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, CMS may disapprove a proposed state plan amendment affecting payment rates if the state does not include in its submission the supporting documentation described in paragraph (b) of this section, for failure to document compliance with statutory access requirements. Any such disapproval would follow the procedures described at part 430 Subpart B of this title. (d) Paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section shall not apply in the case of a state that is not required to meet the requirements of § 447.203(b)(1) through (b)(6) because the state has Medicaid managed care enrollment of at least 85 percent, as described in § 447.203(b), or in the case of a proposed State plan amendment that reduces provider payment rates by no more than 4 percent in any State fiscal year, and no more than 6 percent across two consecutive State fiscal years. In lieu of the requirements under paragraphs (a) though (c) of this section, States that are not required to meet these requirements pursuant to this paragraph must submit VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Jkt 244001 to CMS an alternative analysis, along with supporting data, to demonstrate compliance with section 1902(a)(30)(A) of the Act when submitting a state plan amendment that proposes to reduce or restructure Medicaid service payment rates in circumstances that may diminish access to care. * * * * * Dated: March 1, 2018. Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dated: March 16, 2018. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2018–05898 Filed 3–22–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 180123065–8065–01] RIN 0648–XF989 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2018 Allocation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements and a Proposed Regulatory Exemption for Sectors National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: This rulemaking proposes allocations of annual catch entitlements to groundfish sectors for the 2018 fishing year and also proposes a new regulatory exemption for sectors. The action is necessary because sectors must receive allocations in order to operate. This action is intended to ensure sector allocations are based on the best scientific information available and help achieve optimum yield for the fishery. DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 9, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2018–0039, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 0039, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on the 2018 Sector Allocations.’’ Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of each sector’s operations plan and contract, as well as the programmatic environmental assessment for sectors operations in fishing years 2015 to 2020, are available from the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO): Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. These documents are also accessible via the GARFO website: https://www.greater atlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Molton, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9236. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Northeast multispecies (groundfish) sector management system allocates a portion of available groundfish catch by stock to each sector. Each sector’s annual allocations are known as annual catch entitlements (ACE) and are based on the collective fishing history of a sector’s members. The ACEs are a portion of a stock’s annual catch limit (ACL) available to commercial groundfish vessels. A sector determines how to harvest its ACEs and may decide to limit operations to fewer vessels. Atlantic halibut, windowpane flounder, Atlantic wolffish, and ocean pout are not managed under the sector system, and sectors do not receive allocations of these groundfish species. With the exception of halibut that has a 1-fish per vessel trip limit, possession of these stocks is prohibited. Because sectors elect to receive an allocation under a quota-based system, E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 23MRP1 amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) grants sector vessels several ‘‘universal’’ exemptions from the FMP’s effort controls. The FMP allows sectors to request additional exemptions to increase flexibility and fishing opportunities, but prohibits sectors from requesting exemptions from permitting restrictions, gear restrictions designed to minimize habitat impacts, and most reporting requirements. In addition to the sectors, there are several state-operated permit banks, which receive allocation based on the fishing history of permits that the state holds. The final rule implementing Amendment 17 to the FMP allowed a state-operated permit bank to receive an allocation without needing to comply with sector administrative and procedural requirements (77 FR 16942; March 23, 2012). Instead, permit banks are required to submit a list of permits to us, as specified in the permit bank’s Memorandum of Agreement between NMFS and the state. These permits are not active vessels; instead, the allocations associated with the permits may be leased to vessels enrolled in sectors. State-operated permit banks contribute to the total allocation under the sector system. We approved nineteen sectors to operate in fishing years 2017 and 2018, and also approved 21 requested exemptions for sectors (82 FR 19618; April 28, 2017). On November 20, 2017, we withdrew approval for a single sector, Northeast Fishery Sector IX (NEFS 9) (82 FR 55522; November 22, 2017). Because all approved operations plans cover two fishing years approved sectors may continue operations in fishing year 2018. Copies of the operations plans and contracts, and the environmental assessment (EA), are available at: https://www.greater atlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov and from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). This action would make 2018 allocations to sectors based on the specifications recommended in Framework 57 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action also proposes a new regulatory exemption to increase fishing opportunities for monkfish while fishing on a groundfish sector trip. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Jkt 244001 Sector Allocations for Fishing Year 2018 Sectors may not harvest ACE without an approved sector operations plan. This rule does not approve operations plans, but proposes 2018 ACE allocations to all sectors based on their 2017 sector rosters, including NEFS 9. Because sectors are operating under 2year operations plans for fishing years 2017 and 2018, these allocations would allow vessels enrolled in sectors to operate under their existing operations plan, as approved. NEFS 9 does not currently have an approved operations plan. NEFS 9 is unable to trade ACE, and its member vessels are unable to take groundfish trips, until a new sector operations plan is approved. When NEFS 9 submits a new operations plan, we expect to conduct a separate rulemaking to review and consider approval of the new plan. ACE trading and fishing activity would be allowed only under the provisions of a new approved operations plan. The 2018 allocations in this proposed rule are based on sector enrollment in fishing year 2017. For fishing year 2018, we have set a deadline for sectors to submit preliminary sector rosters by March 20, 2018, in order to determine rosters for final rulemaking and allocations. 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 fishing year 2018. The allocations proposed in this rule are based on the fishing year 2018 specifications that the Council recommended in Framework Adjustment 57 to the FMP. These allocations are not final, and are subject to the approval of Framework 57. We expect a rule proposing the Framework 57 measures to publish in March 2018. We calculate the sector’s allocation for each stock by summing its members’ potential sector contributions (PSC) for a stock and then multiplying that total percentage by the available commercial sub-ACL for that stock. Table 1 shows the projected total PSC for each sector by stock for fishing year 2018. Tables 2 and 3 show an estimate of the initial allocations that each sector will be allocated, in pounds and metric tons, respectively, for fishing year 2018, based on their fishing year 2017 rosters. At the start of the fishing year, we PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 12707 provide the final allocations, to the nearest pound, to the individual sectors, and we use those final allocations to monitor sector catch. The common pool sub-ACLs are also included in each of these tables. The fishing year 2018 common pool sub-ACLs are set in Framework 57, and are calculated using the PSC of permits not enrolled in sectors. The common pool sub-ACL is managed separately from sectors and does not contribute to available ACE for leasing or harvest by sector vessels, but is shown for comparison. We do not assign a permit separate PSCs for the Eastern GB cod or Eastern GB haddock; instead, we assign each permit a PSC for the GB cod stock and GB haddock stock. Each sector’s GB cod and GB haddock allocations are then divided into an Eastern ACE and a Western ACE, based on each sector’s percentage of the GB cod and GB haddock ACLs. For example, if a sector is allocated 4 percent of the GB cod ACL, the sector is allocated 4 percent of the commercial Eastern U.S./Canada Area GB cod total allowable catch (TAC) as its Eastern GB cod. The Eastern GB haddock allocations are determined in the same way. These amounts are then subtracted from the sector’s overall GB cod and haddock allocations to determine its Western GB cod and haddock ACEs. A sector may only harvest its Eastern GB cod and haddock ACEs in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. A sector may also ‘‘convert,’’ or transfer, its Eastern GB cod or haddock allocation into Western GB allocation and fish that converted ACE outside the Eastern GB area. At the start of fishing year 2018, we may withhold 20 percent of each sector’s fishing year 2018 allocation until we finalize fishing year 2017 catch information. We expect to finalize 2017 catch information for sectors in summer 2018. We will allow sectors to transfer fishing year 2017 ACE for 2 weeks upon our completion of year-end catch accounting to reduce or eliminate any fishing year 2017 overages. If necessary, we will reduce any sector’s fishing year 2018 allocation to account for a remaining overage in fishing year 2017. Each year we notify sector managers of this deadline and announce this decision on our website at: http:// www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 23MRP1 amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS 12708 VerDate Sep<11>2014 1. ~ z 0 ~ Jkt 244001 Fixed Gear Sector/FGS Lumutanve l":SL (percenta eJ each sector wouta receive by stock. tor tishmg year LUll'S."' " " u "C 0 8 ii1 ID :;; "' "C 0 u :;; 0 "' 0 "C "C "' :I: ID "' 0 "C "C "' :I: :;; 0 "' PO 00000 Maine Permit Bank I~ ~-g o; " >-~ mLL "' j~ ~§ ..: 0 :flU: z (/) =fa ~~ >- 5 :;; " gu::: "C "C ·;; 0:: " " ""' 0 ii: ~ u u " " ii: 0 ~ ~ ID "' "C " " -E ~ ..: " :;; 5 0 ii: ~ :;; g I- §:~ wu::: ""' !§ & ti "' :I: ~ ~ 0 ~ 115 28.63360733 Maine Coast Community Sector ]§ ;: 2.98184781 6.34132935 2 06115496 0.96681005 9.52130659 0.96065073 6.34858867 0.13359371 1.11872447 0.04432773 1.12188717 0.01410317 0.37015063 306163632 100120862 2.15174107 0.02840963 1360089150 2.33905249 2.78896863 5.84270751 8.02118378 158666588 1.27352349 325375532 9.90276015 7.47002898 0.66990195 0.01377502 0.03180376 0.31762341 1.16355125 0.72681790 0.00020300 311274949 1.48754318 5.95496715 10.49289957 10.68115015 0.42608416 0.01787250 0.82072594 1.63834428 167055830 64 11 NEFS 1 3 NEFS 2 2 09639037 0.35133778 153239089 0.83924990 0.70058623 189733263 0.61211670 1.25009064 0.05429194 2.14164276 0.70544113 0.99917766 1.95739966 1.76182806 0.00000000 0.03068546 0.00000000 0.00248698 0.00000000 0.00000000 0.03756612 0.00855916 0.01274888 0.00000096 0.05214631 0.00000323 0.00000000 0.00000000 0.00000000 83 5.85541718 18.47213778 10.66648243 1707320773 186551235 1.73025022 19.67090615 9.30588220 13.20604152 3.20670608 18.77821688 350565010 14.84582171 6.44570163 11.38797275 NEFS 3 56 0.73328653 9.90286344 0.05053684 6.81001449 0.04401911 0.06601225 6 08162313 2 07048057 1.68826788 0.01361530 6.98897919 0.40775084 0.75392766 3.23935183 396297748 NEFS 4 52 4.16599860 10.61447171 5.35062798 8.59795158 2.16156175 2.35100229 6 05790602 9.38776810 8.70651087 0.69179797 6.95344381 128380059 6.72217299 8.08697005 6.35469971 NEFS 5 24 0.48035927 0.00067964 0.81553839 0.00357186 127619529 20.92709585 0.20599449 0.43228907 0.56243365 0.43634226 0.01751787 1199075496 0.01454434 0.09441925 0.04248122 NEFS 6 22 2.86957812 2.96017293 2.92681853 384084576 2.70263541 5.27021762 3.73595895 389175649 5.20520629 150474419 4.56247441 193853382 5.31060100 3.91460371 330548119 NEFS 7 20 1.25480636 0.80376681 1.35247704 0.59037186 3.41209604 2.47183060 2.26724135 0.73975638 0.93610137 128133136 2.38588460 0.80357683 0.35693646 0.55809083 0.45451036 NEFS 8 17 6.51790722 0.15594187 5.94719762 0.06821334 10.6322407 4 5.21885960 2.59779718 2 08752528 2.44109420 21.16004781 0.68022107 8.97265613 0.50683898 0.46632724 0.61322607 6.36126311 E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 0.39767691 Sfmt 4725 31 Fmt 4702 Frm 00021 NCCS NEFS 9 60 13.16828902 301666261 1124352608 7.39149111 25.19220000 8.72232143 10.61700121 9.70689545 9.41350439 32.56133094 2.94647951 1795005455 9 05149193 6.37855417 NEFS 10 27 0.33828109 2.34583468 0.16461659 124660884 0.00114042 0.54741703 4 00864630 0.93107515 169016836 0.01083151 8.95328087 0.48768027 0.32509525 0.61408657 0.69606092 NEFS 11 51 0.40628536 12.22775734 0.03722053 307912475 0.00149970 0.01753332 2.36240968 2 05487081 193472053 0.00330849 2 08420270 0.02150399 196478551 4.72610919 9 01756005 NEFS 12 19 0.63151303 2.98152458 0.09401144 104520246 0.00042969 0.01049524 795034035 0.50391090 0.56855101 0.00043898 766448782 0.21889325 0.22950555 0.29535685 0.82496955 NEFS 13 62 12.18285679 0.90896251 20.11363366 105046789 34.49943811 2102740300 8.83804125 8.48405225 9.29843980 17.82189215 304937928 16.60357909 4.28302829 2.14904573 2.61919403 0.00082205 1.14256555 0.00003406 0.03229444 0.00002026 0.00001788 0.02178570 0.02847521 0.00615947 0.00000324 0.06062793 0.00003630 0.01939980 0.08127664 0.11125510 2.67295101 5.96556815 2.52270202 4.76510605 0.96587585 0.31532637 322108149 6.40294382 4.35110313 5.73641170 4.67381419 0.82222986 6 07538462 8.41351804 7.28519039 0.28812111 0.29347573 0.40165710 0.07151001 2.20948828 2.24516980 0.84146135 0.71550373 0.61479620 0.45961600 0.93029859 1.10566785 0.26110454 0.33427366 0.26502607 16.45431014 9.19155572 29.9187 4848 32.18195071 1105985642 7.43666217 8.55607607 28.70228915 25.53629888 13.53562739 4.99272245 17.32857563 38.16429030 33.47229065 23.92968571 184752910 326710426 0.69652564 108555845 152199661 19.26632120 4.39781555 186632955 2.22917496 0.82314712 4.94445461 1200914341 0.55123171 0.79867295 0.63372597 New Hampshire Permit Bank 4 30 Sustainable Harvest Sector 2 14 Sustainable Harvest Sector 3 70 Common Pool 23MRP1 Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 500 * This table is based on fishing year 2017 sector rosters and catch limits proposed in Framework 57. EP23MR18.016</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Iable amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS VerDate Sep<11>2014 # Sector Name FGS "'C "'C o_ U rn ffi.fl .;.:: 0 (!)"'CQ) mou; mg1n (.) a: ffi:S: .;.:: (!)"'CctJ 0 o rn U Q) -gw 0 :::c (!) -gs: :::c a: ,: .;.:: 0 s.... m~-g o.g (!) (!)"'C ctJ = 0 ::I 0 Q)>-U. :::c a:= .... <(= ..... ctJ Q) o.f!~ (!) := s:::: a;.f!~ s:::: w 0 ::I - := 0 "iii ~ a: 0 ::I U=o Z=o (f.)Q)>-U. uQ)>-U. ..... ..... ..... a:lii~ Q) ..... -s::::-c Q) .s::: Q) o"'C - s:::: Q) ~ § i5 ctJ .;.:: 0 :.c rn 0 a. :::c 2 I;:: ~£§ (!)~~ (/)$:..2 u. u. (!)U. .;.:: .s::: ot:s:::: m..Q u::: Q) <( ..... lii 2:Q)"'C "'C Q) c::: 0 $: Jkt 244001 162 592 24 2,181 4,062 397 0 0 27 35 39 0 107 27 661 352 6,614 MCCS 5 20 77 330 615 1,223 6 1 29 345 137 11 24 17 1,412 633 8,807 3 9 15 28 216 0 0 3 41 13 0 3 0 195 99 1,377 PO 00000 MPB 1 NCCS 2 8 17 121 225 295 3 1 17 21 23 1 17 8 237 118 1,453 NEFS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NEFS 2 33 121 150 3,668 6,833 3,289 7 2 173 324 241 52 148 40 3,520 389 9,390 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM NEFS 3 4 15 80 17 32 1,312 0 0 53 72 31 0 55 5 179 195 3,268 NEFS4 24 86 86 1,840 3,428 1,656 8 2 53 327 159 11 55 15 1,594 488 5,240 NEFS 5 3 10 0 280 522 1 5 20 2 15 10 7 0 137 3 6 35 NEFS 6 16 59 24 1,007 1,875 740 10 5 33 136 95 24 36 22 1,259 236 2,725 NEFS 7 7 26 7 465 866 114 13 2 20 26 17 21 19 9 85 34 375 NEFS 8 37 135 1 2,045 3,810 13 40 5 23 73 45 341 5 102 120 28 506 NEFS 9 75 272 24 3,867 7,203 1,424 94 8 93 338 172 525 23 205 2,146 385 5,245 NEFS 10 2 7 19 57 105 240 0 1 35 32 31 0 70 6 77 37 574 NEFS 11 2 8 99 13 24 593 0 0 21 72 35 0 16 0 466 285 7,435 NEFS 12 4 13 24 32 60 201 0 0 70 18 10 0 60 2 54 18 680 NEFS 13 69 252 7 6,918 12,885 202 129 20 78 295 170 287 24 190 1,016 130 2,160 0 0 9 0 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 5 5 92 SHS 1 15 55 48 868 1,616 918 4 0 28 223 80 92 37 9 1,441 507 6,007 SHS 2 2 6 2 138 257 14 8 2 7 25 11 7 7 13 62 20 219 SHS 3 93 340 75 10,290 19,167 6,200 41 7 75 1,000 467 218 39 198 9,049 2,018 19,731 Common Pool 10 37 28 240 446 209 6 18 39 65 42 13 39 137 131 48 523 556 2,029 785 34,153 63,617 19,056 368 76 839 3,417 1,788 1,598 748 1,005 23,580 5,982 *This table is based on fishing year 2017 sector rosters and catch limits proposed in Framework 57 as adjusted by reductions from overages in fishing year 2016. #Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand pounds. In some cases, this table shows an allocation ofO, but that sector may be allocated a small amount of that stock in tens or hundreds pounds. 1\ The data in the table represent potential allocations for each sector. 23MRP1 NHPB 81,931 Sector Total Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 "'C 12709 EP23MR18.017</GPH> amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS 12710 VerDate Sep<11>2014 ""0 Sector Name ""0 ""0 81il ~.fl -"' <..> 0 o(.) (/) (.) lll01i) c:>-cm :;;: 0 Q) ~$: -gw ::c (!) -"' _ u == lll0(1) -gs: ::c Q) <(='- :;;:='- 249-8 o..B~ lll~-g -:;: s:::: (!)O:S:::: c:>o::::s w 0 ::I -o::::s Z=o u m = )0 cnm- U=o Q - (!)""0 (!)""CCI> L.. "' -"' :a;<..> o.g "' ::c >-LL. >-LL. ..c: Cl) # A -- ._ ._ Q) - s:::: - ~;5 c:: u::: >-LL. Q) ._ Q) m-e Q) s::::-c :a; -"' <..> 2 ""0 Q) 0:: c:>~_2 cnS:.2 LL. LL. (!)LL. "' ::c ;;:::: ~~§ 01:!:: -"' ..c: (/) <Cs....ffi a= m-e ._ ~§ lll.2 u""C <..> ·c;; ._ Q) 0 a.. 0 :E 3: Jkt 244001 FGS 74 268 11 989 1,843 180 0 0 12 16 18 0 49 12 300 160 3,000 MCCS 2 9 35 150 279 555 3 1 13 156 62 5 11 8 640 287 3,995 MPB 4 7 13 98 0 0 1 18 6 0 2 0 88 45 625 PO 00000 0 1 NCCS 1 4 8 55 102 134 1 0 8 10 10 0 8 4 107 54 659 NEFS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NEFS2 15 55 68 1,664 3,100 1,492 3 1 78 147 110 23 67 18 1,597 176 4,259 2 7 36 8 15 595 0 0 24 33 14 0 25 2 81 89 1,482 NEFS4 11 39 39 835 1,555 751 4 1 24 148 72 5 25 7 723 221 2,377 NEFS5 1 5 0 127 237 0 2 9 1 7 5 3 0 62 2 3 16 Fmt 4702 NEFS6 7 27 11 457 850 336 5 2 15 61 43 11 16 10 571 107 1,236 NEFS 7 3 12 3 211 393 52 6 1 9 12 8 9 9 4 38 15 170 Sfmt 4702 NEFS8 17 61 1 928 1,728 6 18 2 10 33 20 155 2 46 55 13 229 NEFS9 34 123 11 1,754 3,267 646 43 4 42 153 78 238 11 93 973 174 2,379 NEFS 10 1 3 9 26 48 109 0 0 16 15 14 0 32 3 35 17 260 NEFS 11 1 4 45 6 11 269 0 0 9 32 16 0 7 0 211 129 3,373 NEFS 12 2 6 11 15 27 91 0 0 32 8 5 0 27 1 25 8 309 NEFS 13 31 114 3 3,138 5,845 92 58 9 35 134 77 130 11 86 461 59 980 E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM Frm 00023 NEFS3 0 0 4 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 42 SHS 1 7 25 22 394 733 416 2 0 13 101 36 42 17 4 653 230 2,725 SHS2 1 3 1 63 117 6 4 1 3 11 5 3 3 6 28 9 99 SHS3 42 154 34 4,667 8,694 2,812 19 3 34 453 212 99 18 90 4,105 916 8,950 5 17 13 109 202 95 3 8 18 29 19 6 18 62 59 22 237 252 920 356 15,491 28,856 8,643 167 34 381 1,550 811 725 339 456 10,696 2,713 *Ibis table is based on fishing year 2017 sector rosters and catch limits proposed in Framework 57 as adjusted by reductions from overages in fishing year 2016. #Numbers are rounded lo lhe nearesl melric Lon, hul allocations are made in pounds. Tn some cases, lhis lahle shows a seclor allocation of 0 melric lons, hullhal seclor may he allocated a small amount ofthat stock in pounds. 1\ The dala in lhe lahle represenl polenlial allocations for each seclor. 23MRP1 NHPB 37,163 Common Pool Sector Total EP23MR18.018</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 • ame ..l. l!..sumateo ALl!.. (Ill metnc tons,, oy stocK, tor eacn sector tor nsnm ~ year LU H~. 12711 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Granted Exemptions for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018 Previously Granted Exemptions for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018 (1–21) We have already granted exemptions from the following requirements for fishing years 2017 and 2018: (1) 120-Day block out of the fishery required for Day gillnet vessels; (2) 20-day spawning block out of the fishery required for all vessels; (3) prohibition on a vessel hauling another vessel’s gillnet gear; (4) limits on the number of gillnets that may be hauled on GB when fishing under a Northeast multispecies/ monkfish day-at-sea (DAS); (5) limits on the number of hooks that may be fished; (6) DAS Leasing Program length and horsepower restrictions; (7) prohibition on discarding; (8) daily catch reporting by sector managers for sector vessels participating in the Closed Area (CA) I Hook Gear Haddock Special Access Program (SAP); (9) prohibition on fishing inside and outside of the CA I Hook Gear Haddock SAP while on the same trip; (10) prohibition on a vessel hauling another vessel’s hook gear; (11) the requirement to declare an intent to fish in the Eastern U.S./Canada SAP and the CA II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP prior to leaving the dock; (12) gear requirements in the Eastern U.S./Canada Management Area; (13) seasonal restrictions for the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP; (14) seasonal restrictions for the CA II Yellowtail Flounder/ Haddock SAP; (15) sampling exemption; (16) prohibition on groundfish trips in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area; (17) prohibition on combining smallmesh exempted fishery and sector trips in Southern New England; (18) limits on the number of gillnets for day gillnet vessels fishing outside the Gulf of Maine (GOM); (19) 6.5-inch minimum mesh size requirement for trawl nets to allow a 5.5 inch codend on directed redfish trips; (20) extra-large mesh requirement to target dogfish on trips excluded from at-sea monitoring in Southern New England and Inshore Georges Bank; and (21) requirement to carry a Vessel Monitoring System for Handgear A vessels fishing in a single broad stock area. A detailed description of the previously granted exemptions and supporting rationale can be found in the applicable rules identified in Table 4. TABLE 4—EXEMPTIONS GRANTED FOR FISHING YEARS 2017 AND 2018 Exemptions Rulemaking Date of publication 1–8, 12 .................. 9–11 ....................... 13–15 ..................... 16 ........................... 18, 19 .................... 20 ........................... 21 ........................... 17 ........................... Fishing Year 2011 Sector Operations Final Rule ............................................... Fishing Year 2012 Sector Operations Final Rule ............................................... Fishing Year 2013 Sector Operations Interim Final Rule ................................... Fishing Year 2014 Sector Operations Final Rule ............................................... Fishing Years 2015–2016 Sector Operations Final Rule ................................... Framework 55 Final Rule .................................................................................... Fishing Years 2017–2018 Sector Operations Interim Final Rule ....................... Fishing Years 2017–2018 Sector Operations Final Rule ................................... April 25, 2011 ................ May 2, 2012 ................... May 2, 2013 ................... April 28, 2014 ................ May 1, 2015 ................... May 2, 2016 ................... April 28, 2017 ................ August 18, 2017 ............ Citation 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 82 FR FR FR FR FR FR FR FR 23076 26129 25591 23278 25143 26412 19618 39363 NE Multispecies Federal Register documents can be found at http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/multispecies/. New Sectors Exemption Proposed for Fishing Year 2018 amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS Limit on the Number of Gillnets for Day Gillnet Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Maine Each year, vessels fishing with gillnet gear must declare as either a ‘‘Day’’ or ‘‘Trip’’ gillnet vessel. A Day gillnet vessel is limited in the number of nets it may fish, but can return to port while leaving the gear in the water. A Trip gillnet vessel is not limited in the number of nets it may fish, but must retrieve all of its gear each trip. For 2018, we received a request to exempt Day gillnet vessels fishing in the Gulf of Maine from the current 100-net limit. The exemption would allow vessels to fish up to 150 gillnets if at least 50 nets are 10-inch (25.4-cm) or larger mesh and those nets are fished east of 70 degrees West longitude (Figure 1). The 100-net limit would still apply in the portion of the GOM Regulated Mesh Area west of 70 degrees West longitude. The intent of the request is to increase opportunities for sector vessels to harvest monkfish, a healthy non-groundfish stock, while fishing on a groundfish trip. This exemption request is a variation of an exemption we previously VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Jkt 244001 approved for Day gillnet vessels in the GOM. The original exemption allowed the use of 150 gillnets and the use of a single gillnet tag per net, as is currently allowed for sector vessels fishing in other areas. We withdrew approval of the original exemption in 2014 as part of the GOM cod emergency action (79 FR 67362; November 13, 2014) due to concerns about potential GOM cod catch from the additional gillnet effort. The new exemption proposed in this action is more restrictive than the original exemption in several ways. The new exemption would require the use of larger mesh nets, limit the geographic scope of any additional nets, and would not modify tagging provisions for nets fished in the GOM. These restrictions were developed to reduce any additional impacts to GOM cod and address the concerns underlying our withdrawal of the original exemption. As proposed, the exemption would allow sector Day gillnet vessels to fish up to 150 gillnets in the GOM if at least 50 of those nets are 10-inch (25.4-cm) or larger mesh and fished east of 70 degrees West longitude. This exemption would not remove the 50 roundfish or ‘‘stand up’’ net limit in the GOM. Day gillnet vessels would still be required to PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 tag each roundfish net with two gillnet tags and each flatfish or ‘‘tied down’’ net with a single gillnet tag. We do not intend to issue additional gillnet tags, so vessels would need to choose between fishing their full suite of roundfish nets or taking advantage of the extra nets available under this exemption. Keeping tagging provisions in place would maintain consistency and allow for better enforcement of the gillnet limits, including the 50 roundfish gillnet limit in the GOM and the overall 150 net limit. This exemption is intended to grant additional flexibility, increasing opportunities for Day gillnet vessels to target monkfish under existing monkfish limits, while fishing on sector trips in the GOM. The exemption could increase trip efficiency and revenue for sector vessels, but we still expect few vessels to use the exemption. Between 2013 and 2016, on average, fewer than 20 sector vessels fished with gillnet gear in the GOM, and in fishing year 2016 there were only 11 Day gillnet vessels in sectors that took a groundfish trip in the GOM. We expect only a subset of these vessels to use this exemption, and few of them to use it on all of their trips given the geographic limitation of the E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 23MRP1 12712 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules in the GOM, with the exception of white hake, pollock, and Atlantic halibut. Any increase in catch of these stocks is expected to be small proportional to the overall fishery, and would be attributed to a sector’s available quota, or for halibut, to the commercial fishery quota. In the 2015–2020 programmatic environmental assessment for sector operations, we analyzed potential impacts of allowing the use of 150 gillnets by sector vessels across all areas, including the GOM. The analysis showed that the exemption would potentially have a low negative impact on protected resources. We expect that this potential is further reduced because a relatively small number of vessels are likely to use this exemption, and even for those vessels, only on a subset of their sector trips. The overall declining trend in recent years in the number of gillnet vessels fishing in the GOM is also expected to minimize any impacts. Additionally, we expect the geographic extent of the exemption to mitigate impacts on protected resources given known observations of interactions. Vessels fishing under the exemption would not be exempt from any regulatory measures designed to limit gear interactions with protected resources, such as the mandated use of pingers or weak-links. We are taking public comment on the proposed exemption in order to assist us in identifying any potential impacts and benefits of the exemption, were it to be granted. We are particularly interested in comments regarding the potential impacts on monkfish harvest and other groundfish species and how the exemption might impact the fishing behavior of gillnet vessels in the GOM. Classification (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has preliminarily determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 23MRP1 EP23MR18.020</GPH> amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS exemption and underlying double tagging requirement for roundfish gillnets. We expect the number of trips will be limited. There may be impacts to other fisheries, groundfish stocks, and protected resources; however, our concerns for potential GOM cod catch in the previously approved exemption are addressed by requiring the use of 10inch (25.4-cm) or larger mesh for any additional nets, and that they must be fished east of 70 degrees West longitude, which is expected to reduce the impacts on GOM cod. Initial analysis shows that fewer cod are likely to be caught with the larger mesh nets fished in the central and eastern GOM than would be encountered using smaller mesh or in areas of the western GOM. Thus, these provisions of the proposed exemption would likely reduce impacts to GOM cod. Most other groundfish are rarely encountered by extra-large mesh gillnets Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 57 / Friday, March 23, 2018 / Proposed Rules amozie on DSK30RV082PROD with PROPOSALS further consideration after public comment. This proposed action is exempt from the procedures 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 (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed rule would allocate ACE to sectors for fishing year 2018 (May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2019) and approve a new regulatory exemption for sector vessels. Approved sectors are exempt from certain effort control regulations, like trip limits and days-at-sea, and fish under the sector provisions of the Northeast Multispecies FMP and their sector’s harvest rules. This action is consistent with the groundfish catch limits proposed in a concurrent rulemaking to approve Framework Adjustment 57 to the FMP, and is expected to have positive impacts on fishing vessels and purchasers of seafood products. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires Federal agencies to consider disproportionality and profitability to determine the significance of regulatory impacts. For RFA purposes only, 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:37 Mar 22, 2018 Jkt 244001 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 limited-access groundfish permits to 899 vessels. Each of these permits is eligible to join a sector or enroll in the common pool in fishing year 2018. Alternatively, each permit owner could also allow their permit to expire by failing to renew it. Over 60 percent of the total limited access groundfish permits are enrolled in a sector. Ownership data collected from permit holders indicates that there are 701 distinct business entities that hold at least 1 limited-access groundfish permit. Of these, 695 entities are categorized as small and 6 are categorized as large entities per the SBA guidelines. All 695 small entities would be directly regulated by this proposed action. Using the threshold of greater than 50 percent of gross sales from the sales of regulated groundfish, 116 entities are groundfishdependent, all of which are small, and all of which are finfish commercial harvesting businesses. This action would allocate quota to groundfish sectors for fishing year 2018 and approve a new regulatory exemption. Sectors must receive ACE each fishing year in order to operate and for its member vessels to fish. Sectors operate under a series of ‘‘universal’’ regulatory exemptions that exempt sector vessels from most of the effort controls in the FMP. This includes exemptions from days-at-sea, seasonal closures, and trip limits. These exemptions allow sector participants to maximize per-trip yields, more fully harvest healthy stocks, and time the market. Additionally, this action would approve a new regulatory exemption for sectors to fish additional nets in certain areas to increase fishing opportunities for monkfish, which is a healthy nongroundfish stock. Overall, the measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to have a PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 12713 positive economic effect on small entities. Because this proposed action would allocate ACE to groundfish sectors based on the Framework 57 specifications, along with approving a new regulatory exemption, this action is also 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. This is expected to translate into increased catch per unit effort and higher ex-vessel fish prices, which would lower marginal costs and increase profitability, compared to if no action was taken. The proposed action is not expected to have a significant or substantial impact on small entities. The impacts on the regulated small entities identified in this analysis are expected to be positive relative to the no action alternative, which would prevent sector participants from fishing or require them to fish in the common pool fishery. In the common pool, most limited-access multispecies permit holders would be subject to days-at-sea, trip limits, gear restrictions, size limits, and closures intended to control overall fishing mortality. In addition, these effort controls would be subject to inseason modifications based on industrywide landings. 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 profit for any small entities relative to taking no action. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: March 19, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–05919 Filed 3–22–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\23MRP1.SGM 23MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 57 (Friday, March 23, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12706-12713]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05919]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 180123065-8065-01]
RIN 0648-XF989


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern 
United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2018 Allocation of 
Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements and a Proposed 
Regulatory Exemption for Sectors

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This rulemaking proposes allocations of annual catch 
entitlements to groundfish sectors for the 2018 fishing year and also 
proposes a new regulatory exemption for sectors. The action is 
necessary because sectors must receive allocations in order to operate. 
This action is intended to ensure sector allocations are based on the 
best scientific information available and help achieve optimum yield 
for the fishery.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 9, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2018-0039, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0039, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional 
Administrator, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the 
outside of the envelope, ``Comments on the 2018 Sector Allocations.''
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Copies of each sector's operations plan and contract, as well as 
the programmatic environmental assessment for sectors operations in 
fishing years 2015 to 2020, are available from the NMFS Greater 
Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO): Michael Pentony, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. These documents are also accessible via 
the GARFO website: https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Molton, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9236.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Northeast multispecies (groundfish) sector management system 
allocates a portion of available groundfish catch by stock to each 
sector. Each sector's annual allocations are known as annual catch 
entitlements (ACE) and are based on the collective fishing history of a 
sector's members. The ACEs are a portion of a stock's annual catch 
limit (ACL) available to commercial groundfish vessels. A sector 
determines how to harvest its ACEs and may decide to limit operations 
to fewer vessels. Atlantic halibut, windowpane flounder, Atlantic 
wolffish, and ocean pout are not managed under the sector system, and 
sectors do not receive allocations of these groundfish species. With 
the exception of halibut that has a 1-fish per vessel trip limit, 
possession of these stocks is prohibited.
    Because sectors elect to receive an allocation under a quota-based 
system,

[[Page 12707]]

the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) grants sector 
vessels several ``universal'' exemptions from the FMP's effort 
controls. The FMP allows sectors to request additional exemptions to 
increase flexibility and fishing opportunities, but prohibits sectors 
from requesting exemptions from permitting restrictions, gear 
restrictions designed to minimize habitat impacts, and most reporting 
requirements.
    In addition to the sectors, there are several state-operated permit 
banks, which receive allocation based on the fishing history of permits 
that the state holds. The final rule implementing Amendment 17 to the 
FMP allowed a state-operated permit bank to receive an allocation 
without needing to comply with sector administrative and procedural 
requirements (77 FR 16942; March 23, 2012). Instead, permit banks are 
required to submit a list of permits to us, as specified in the permit 
bank's Memorandum of Agreement between NMFS and the state. These 
permits are not active vessels; instead, the allocations associated 
with the permits may be leased to vessels enrolled in sectors. State-
operated permit banks contribute to the total allocation under the 
sector system.
    We approved nineteen sectors to operate in fishing years 2017 and 
2018, and also approved 21 requested exemptions for sectors (82 FR 
19618; April 28, 2017). On November 20, 2017, we withdrew approval for 
a single sector, Northeast Fishery Sector IX (NEFS 9) (82 FR 55522; 
November 22, 2017). Because all approved operations plans cover two 
fishing years approved sectors may continue operations in fishing year 
2018. Copies of the operations plans and contracts, and the 
environmental assessment (EA), are available at: https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov and from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). 
This action would make 2018 allocations to sectors based on the 
specifications recommended in Framework 57 to the Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action also proposes a 
new regulatory exemption to increase fishing opportunities for monkfish 
while fishing on a groundfish sector trip.

Sector Allocations for Fishing Year 2018

    Sectors may not harvest ACE without an approved sector operations 
plan. This rule does not approve operations plans, but proposes 2018 
ACE allocations to all sectors based on their 2017 sector rosters, 
including NEFS 9. Because sectors are operating under 2-year operations 
plans for fishing years 2017 and 2018, these allocations would allow 
vessels enrolled in sectors to operate under their existing operations 
plan, as approved. NEFS 9 does not currently have an approved 
operations plan. NEFS 9 is unable to trade ACE, and its member vessels 
are unable to take groundfish trips, until a new sector operations plan 
is approved. When NEFS 9 submits a new operations plan, we expect to 
conduct a separate rulemaking to review and consider approval of the 
new plan. ACE trading and fishing activity would be allowed only under 
the provisions of a new approved operations plan.
    The 2018 allocations in this proposed rule are based on sector 
enrollment in fishing year 2017. For fishing year 2018, we have set a 
deadline for sectors to submit preliminary sector rosters by March 20, 
2018, in order to determine rosters for final rulemaking and 
allocations. 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 fishing year 2018. The 
allocations proposed in this rule are based on the fishing year 2018 
specifications that the Council recommended in Framework Adjustment 57 
to the FMP. These allocations are not final, and are subject to the 
approval of Framework 57. We expect a rule proposing the Framework 57 
measures to publish in March 2018.
    We calculate the sector's allocation for each stock by summing its 
members' potential sector contributions (PSC) for a stock and then 
multiplying that total percentage by the available commercial sub-ACL 
for that stock. Table 1 shows the projected total PSC for each sector 
by stock for fishing year 2018. Tables 2 and 3 show an estimate of the 
initial allocations that each sector will be allocated, in pounds and 
metric tons, respectively, for fishing year 2018, based on their 
fishing year 2017 rosters. At the start of the fishing year, we provide 
the final allocations, to the nearest pound, to the individual sectors, 
and we use those final allocations to monitor sector catch. The common 
pool sub-ACLs are also included in each of these tables. The fishing 
year 2018 common pool sub-ACLs are set in Framework 57, and are 
calculated using the PSC of permits not enrolled in sectors. The common 
pool sub-ACL is managed separately from sectors and does not contribute 
to available ACE for leasing or harvest by sector vessels, but is shown 
for comparison.
    We do not assign a permit separate PSCs for the Eastern GB cod or 
Eastern GB haddock; instead, we assign each permit a PSC for the GB cod 
stock and GB haddock stock. Each sector's GB cod and GB haddock 
allocations are then divided into an Eastern ACE and a Western ACE, 
based on each sector's percentage of the GB cod and GB haddock ACLs. 
For example, if a sector is allocated 4 percent of the GB cod ACL, the 
sector is allocated 4 percent of the commercial Eastern U.S./Canada 
Area GB cod total allowable catch (TAC) as its Eastern GB cod. The 
Eastern GB haddock allocations are determined in the same way. These 
amounts are then subtracted from the sector's overall GB cod and 
haddock allocations to determine its Western GB cod and haddock ACEs. A 
sector may only harvest its Eastern GB cod and haddock ACEs in the 
Eastern U.S./Canada Area. A sector may also ``convert,'' or transfer, 
its Eastern GB cod or haddock allocation into Western GB allocation and 
fish that converted ACE outside the Eastern GB area.
    At the start of fishing year 2018, we may withhold 20 percent of 
each sector's fishing year 2018 allocation until we finalize fishing 
year 2017 catch information. We expect to finalize 2017 catch 
information for sectors in summer 2018. We will allow sectors to 
transfer fishing year 2017 ACE for 2 weeks upon our completion of year-
end catch accounting to reduce or eliminate any fishing year 2017 
overages. If necessary, we will reduce any sector's fishing year 2018 
allocation to account for a remaining overage in fishing year 2017. 
Each year we notify sector managers of this deadline and announce this 
decision on our website at: http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

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[[Page 12711]]


BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

Granted Exemptions for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018

Previously Granted Exemptions for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018 (1-21)

    We have already granted exemptions from the following requirements 
for fishing years 2017 and 2018: (1) 120-Day block out of the fishery 
required for Day gillnet vessels; (2) 20-day spawning block out of the 
fishery required for all vessels; (3) prohibition on a vessel hauling 
another vessel's gillnet gear; (4) limits on the number of gillnets 
that may be hauled on GB when fishing under a Northeast multispecies/
monkfish day-at-sea (DAS); (5) limits on the number of hooks that may 
be fished; (6) DAS Leasing Program length and horsepower restrictions; 
(7) prohibition on discarding; (8) daily catch reporting by sector 
managers for sector vessels participating in the Closed Area (CA) I 
Hook Gear Haddock Special Access Program (SAP); (9) prohibition on 
fishing inside and outside of the CA I Hook Gear Haddock SAP while on 
the same trip; (10) prohibition on a vessel hauling another vessel's 
hook gear; (11) the requirement to declare an intent to fish in the 
Eastern U.S./Canada SAP and the CA II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP 
prior to leaving the dock; (12) gear requirements in the Eastern U.S./
Canada Management Area; (13) seasonal restrictions for the Eastern 
U.S./Canada Haddock SAP; (14) seasonal restrictions for the CA II 
Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP; (15) sampling exemption; (16) 
prohibition on groundfish trips in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area; 
(17) prohibition on combining small-mesh exempted fishery and sector 
trips in Southern New England; (18) limits on the number of gillnets 
for day gillnet vessels fishing outside the Gulf of Maine (GOM); (19) 
6.5-inch minimum mesh size requirement for trawl nets to allow a 5.5 
inch codend on directed redfish trips; (20) extra-large mesh 
requirement to target dogfish on trips excluded from at-sea monitoring 
in Southern New England and Inshore Georges Bank; and (21) requirement 
to carry a Vessel Monitoring System for Handgear A vessels fishing in a 
single broad stock area. A detailed description of the previously 
granted exemptions and supporting rationale can be found in the 
applicable rules identified in Table 4.

                           Table 4--Exemptions Granted for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Exemptions                     Rulemaking                 Date of publication            Citation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1-8, 12..........................  Fishing Year 2011 Sector   April 25, 2011....................     76 FR 23076
                                    Operations Final Rule.
9-11.............................  Fishing Year 2012 Sector   May 2, 2012.......................     77 FR 26129
                                    Operations Final Rule.
13-15............................  Fishing Year 2013 Sector   May 2, 2013.......................     78 FR 25591
                                    Operations Interim Final
                                    Rule.
16...............................  Fishing Year 2014 Sector   April 28, 2014....................     79 FR 23278
                                    Operations Final Rule.
18, 19...........................  Fishing Years 2015-2016    May 1, 2015.......................     80 FR 25143
                                    Sector Operations Final
                                    Rule.
20...............................  Framework 55 Final Rule..  May 2, 2016.......................     81 FR 26412
21...............................  Fishing Years 2017-2018    April 28, 2017....................     82 FR 19618
                                    Sector Operations
                                    Interim Final Rule.
17...............................  Fishing Years 2017-2018    August 18, 2017...................     82 FR 39363
                                    Sector Operations Final
                                    Rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NE Multispecies Federal Register documents can be found at http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/multispecies/ sustainable/species/multispecies/.

New Sectors Exemption Proposed for Fishing Year 2018

Limit on the Number of Gillnets for Day Gillnet Vessels Fishing in the 
Gulf of Maine

    Each year, vessels fishing with gillnet gear must declare as either 
a ``Day'' or ``Trip'' gillnet vessel. A Day gillnet vessel is limited 
in the number of nets it may fish, but can return to port while leaving 
the gear in the water. A Trip gillnet vessel is not limited in the 
number of nets it may fish, but must retrieve all of its gear each 
trip. For 2018, we received a request to exempt Day gillnet vessels 
fishing in the Gulf of Maine from the current 100-net limit. The 
exemption would allow vessels to fish up to 150 gillnets if at least 50 
nets are 10-inch (25.4-cm) or larger mesh and those nets are fished 
east of 70 degrees West longitude (Figure 1). The 100-net limit would 
still apply in the portion of the GOM Regulated Mesh Area west of 70 
degrees West longitude. The intent of the request is to increase 
opportunities for sector vessels to harvest monkfish, a healthy non-
groundfish stock, while fishing on a groundfish trip.
    This exemption request is a variation of an exemption we previously 
approved for Day gillnet vessels in the GOM. The original exemption 
allowed the use of 150 gillnets and the use of a single gillnet tag per 
net, as is currently allowed for sector vessels fishing in other areas. 
We withdrew approval of the original exemption in 2014 as part of the 
GOM cod emergency action (79 FR 67362; November 13, 2014) due to 
concerns about potential GOM cod catch from the additional gillnet 
effort. The new exemption proposed in this action is more restrictive 
than the original exemption in several ways. The new exemption would 
require the use of larger mesh nets, limit the geographic scope of any 
additional nets, and would not modify tagging provisions for nets 
fished in the GOM. These restrictions were developed to reduce any 
additional impacts to GOM cod and address the concerns underlying our 
withdrawal of the original exemption.
    As proposed, the exemption would allow sector Day gillnet vessels 
to fish up to 150 gillnets in the GOM if at least 50 of those nets are 
10-inch (25.4-cm) or larger mesh and fished east of 70 degrees West 
longitude. This exemption would not remove the 50 roundfish or ``stand 
up'' net limit in the GOM. Day gillnet vessels would still be required 
to tag each roundfish net with two gillnet tags and each flatfish or 
``tied down'' net with a single gillnet tag. We do not intend to issue 
additional gillnet tags, so vessels would need to choose between 
fishing their full suite of roundfish nets or taking advantage of the 
extra nets available under this exemption. Keeping tagging provisions 
in place would maintain consistency and allow for better enforcement of 
the gillnet limits, including the 50 roundfish gillnet limit in the GOM 
and the overall 150 net limit.
    This exemption is intended to grant additional flexibility, 
increasing opportunities for Day gillnet vessels to target monkfish 
under existing monkfish limits, while fishing on sector trips in the 
GOM. The exemption could increase trip efficiency and revenue for 
sector vessels, but we still expect few vessels to use the exemption. 
Between 2013 and 2016, on average, fewer than 20 sector vessels fished 
with gillnet gear in the GOM, and in fishing year 2016 there were only 
11 Day gillnet vessels in sectors that took a groundfish trip in the 
GOM. We expect only a subset of these vessels to use this exemption, 
and few of them to use it on all of their trips given the geographic 
limitation of the

[[Page 12712]]

exemption and underlying double tagging requirement for roundfish 
gillnets. We expect the number of trips will be limited. There may be 
impacts to other fisheries, groundfish stocks, and protected resources; 
however, our concerns for potential GOM cod catch in the previously 
approved exemption are addressed by requiring the use of 10-inch (25.4-
cm) or larger mesh for any additional nets, and that they must be 
fished east of 70 degrees West longitude, which is expected to reduce 
the impacts on GOM cod. Initial analysis shows that fewer cod are 
likely to be caught with the larger mesh nets fished in the central and 
eastern GOM than would be encountered using smaller mesh or in areas of 
the western GOM. Thus, these provisions of the proposed exemption would 
likely reduce impacts to GOM cod. Most other groundfish are rarely 
encountered by extra-large mesh gillnets in the GOM, with the exception 
of white hake, pollock, and Atlantic halibut. Any increase in catch of 
these stocks is expected to be small proportional to the overall 
fishery, and would be attributed to a sector's available quota, or for 
halibut, to the commercial fishery quota.
    In the 2015-2020 programmatic environmental assessment for sector 
operations, we analyzed potential impacts of allowing the use of 150 
gillnets by sector vessels across all areas, including the GOM. The 
analysis showed that the exemption would potentially have a low 
negative impact on protected resources. We expect that this potential 
is further reduced because a relatively small number of vessels are 
likely to use this exemption, and even for those vessels, only on a 
subset of their sector trips. The overall declining trend in recent 
years in the number of gillnet vessels fishing in the GOM is also 
expected to minimize any impacts. Additionally, we expect the 
geographic extent of the exemption to mitigate impacts on protected 
resources given known observations of interactions. Vessels fishing 
under the exemption would not be exempt from any regulatory measures 
designed to limit gear interactions with protected resources, such as 
the mandated use of pingers or weak-links.
    We are taking public comment on the proposed exemption in order to 
assist us in identifying any potential impacts and benefits of the 
exemption, were it to be granted. We are particularly interested in 
comments regarding the potential impacts on monkfish harvest and other 
groundfish species and how the exemption might impact the fishing 
behavior of gillnet vessels in the GOM.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP23MR18.020

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has preliminarily determined that this proposed 
rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to

[[Page 12713]]

further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed action is exempt from the procedures 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 (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    The proposed rule would allocate ACE to sectors for fishing year 
2018 (May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2019) and approve a new regulatory 
exemption for sector vessels. Approved sectors are exempt from certain 
effort control regulations, like trip limits and days-at-sea, and fish 
under the sector provisions of the Northeast Multispecies FMP and their 
sector's harvest rules. This action is consistent with the groundfish 
catch limits proposed in a concurrent rulemaking to approve Framework 
Adjustment 57 to the FMP, and is expected to have positive impacts on 
fishing vessels and purchasers of seafood products.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires Federal agencies to 
consider disproportionality and profitability to determine the 
significance of regulatory impacts. For RFA purposes only, 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 
limited-access groundfish permits to 899 vessels. Each of these permits 
is eligible to join a sector or enroll in the common pool in fishing 
year 2018. Alternatively, each permit owner could also allow their 
permit to expire by failing to renew it. Over 60 percent of the total 
limited access groundfish permits are enrolled in a sector. Ownership 
data collected from permit holders indicates that there are 701 
distinct business entities that hold at least 1 limited-access 
groundfish permit. Of these, 695 entities are categorized as small and 
6 are categorized as large entities per the SBA guidelines. All 695 
small entities would be directly regulated by this proposed action. 
Using the threshold of greater than 50 percent of gross sales from the 
sales of regulated groundfish, 116 entities are groundfish-dependent, 
all of which are small, and all of which are finfish commercial 
harvesting businesses.
    This action would allocate quota to groundfish sectors for fishing 
year 2018 and approve a new regulatory exemption. Sectors must receive 
ACE each fishing year in order to operate and for its member vessels to 
fish. Sectors operate under a series of ``universal'' regulatory 
exemptions that exempt sector vessels from most of the effort controls 
in the FMP. This includes exemptions from days-at-sea, seasonal 
closures, and trip limits. These exemptions allow sector participants 
to maximize per-trip yields, more fully harvest healthy stocks, and 
time the market. Additionally, this action would approve a new 
regulatory exemption for sectors to fish additional nets in certain 
areas to increase fishing opportunities for monkfish, which is a 
healthy non-groundfish stock.
    Overall, the measures proposed in Framework 57 are expected to have 
a positive economic effect on small entities. Because this proposed 
action would allocate ACE to groundfish sectors based on the Framework 
57 specifications, along with approving a new regulatory exemption, 
this action is also 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. This is expected to translate into increased catch per 
unit effort and higher ex-vessel fish prices, which would lower 
marginal costs and increase profitability, compared to if no action was 
taken.
    The proposed action is not expected to have a significant or 
substantial impact on small entities. The impacts on the regulated 
small entities identified in this analysis are expected to be positive 
relative to the no action alternative, which would prevent sector 
participants from fishing or require them to fish in the common pool 
fishery. In the common pool, most limited-access multispecies permit 
holders would be subject to days-at-sea, trip limits, gear 
restrictions, size limits, and closures intended to control overall 
fishing mortality. In addition, these effort controls would be subject 
to in-season modifications based on industry-wide landings. 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 profit for any small entities relative to taking no action. 
As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required 
and none has been prepared.

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

    Dated: March 19, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-05919 Filed 3-22-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P