Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Proposed Rule To Expand the Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas Under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, 54903-54909 [2018-23790]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules Comments must be received by December 3, 2018. 16.504 [Amended] ADDRESSES: You may submit comments ■ 2. Amend section 16.504 by removing on this document, identified by NOAA– paragraph (a)(4)(v) and redesignating NMFS–2018–0118, by either of the (d) Contracts used by multiple agencies. paragraphs (a)(4)(vi) and (a)(4)(vii) as following methods: (1) This is a contract that is used by paragraphs (a)(4)(v) and (a)(4)(vi), • Electronic Submission: Submit all multiple agencies. Complaints from respectively. electronic public comments via the Contractors concerning orders placed under ■ 3. Amend section 16.506 by adding contracts used by multiple agencies are Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to paragraph (j) to read as follows. primarily reviewed by the task-order and www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= delivery-order Ombudsman for the ordering NOAA-NMFS-2018-0118, click the 16.506 Solicitation provisions and agency. ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the contract clauses. (2) The ordering agency has designated the required fields, and enter or attach your * * * * * following task-order and delivery-order comments. Ombudsman for this order: (j) Insert the clause at 52.216–XX, • Mail: Regional Administrator, lllllllllllllllllllll Task-Order and Delivery-Order NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional (The ordering agency’s contracting officer to Ombudsman, in solicitations and Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic insert the name, address, telephone number, contracts when a multiple-award, Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the and email address for the ordering agency’s indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity outside of the envelope, ‘‘Comments on Ombudsman or provide the URL address contract is contemplated. Use the clause Scallop Dredge Exemption’’. where this information may be found.) with its Alternate I when the contract Instructions: Comments sent by any will be available for use by multiple (End of clause) other method, to any other address or agencies (e.g., Governmentwide [FR Doc. 2018–23889 Filed 10–31–18; 8:45 am] individual, or received after the end of acquisition contracts or multi-agency BILLING CODE 6820–EP–P the comment period, may not be contracts). When placing orders under a considered by NMFS. All comments contract available for use by multiple received are a part of the public record agencies, the ordering agency’s and will generally be posted for public DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE contracting officer shall complete viewing on www.regulations.gov paragraph (d)(2) and include Alternate I without change. All personal identifying National Oceanic and Atmospheric in the solicitation and any resulting information (e.g., name, address, etc.), Administration order. confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information 50 CFR Part 648 PART 52—SOLICITATION PROVISIONS submitted voluntarily by the sender will AND CONTRACT CLAUSES be publicly accessible. NMFS will [Docket No.: 180205127–8896–01] ■ 4. Add section 52.216–XX to read as accept anonymous comments (enter RIN 0648–BH68 follows: ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). 52.216–XX Task-Order and Delivery-Order Fisheries of the Northeastern United Copies of the proposed rule to expand Ombudsman. States; Proposed Rule To Expand the the scallop dredge exemption areas, and Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas As prescribed in 16.506(j), use the of the draft Environmental Assessment Under the Northeast Multispecies following clause: (EA) and preliminary Regulatory Impact Fishery Management Plan Review (EA/RIR), are available from the Task-Order and Delivery-Order Ombudsman (Date) Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, (a) In accordance with 41 U.S.C. 4106(g), Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Gloucester, MA 01930. The EA/RIR is the Agency has designated the following Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), task-order and delivery-order Ombudsman also accessible via the internet at: Commerce. for this contract. The Ombudsman must www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. ACTION : Proposed rule; request for review complaints from the Contractor Written comments regarding the comments. concerning all task- and delivery-order burden-hour estimates or other aspects actions for this contract and ensure the SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement of the collection-of-information Contractor is afforded a fair opportunity for requirements contained in this proposed modifications to the regulations consideration in the award of task- or rule may be submitted to the Greater implementing the Northeast delivery-orders, consistent with the Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and Multispecies Fishery Management Plan procedures in the contract. by email to OIRA_Submission@ lllllllllllllllllllll to allow vessels issued a limited access omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. general category individual fishing (Contracting Officer to insert name, address, FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: telephone number, and email address for the quota sea scallop permit to fish for Shannah Jaburek, Fishery Management scallops with small dredges in an Agency Ombudsman or provide the URL address where this information may be Specialist, 978–282–8456. expanded area. In addition, NMFS also found.) proposes to modify open area days-atSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: (b) Before consulting with the sea trip reporting procedures for limited Background Ombudsman, the Contractor is encouraged to access scallop vessels. This action is first address complaints with the Contracting intended to provide consistency, Regulations implementing the Officer for resolution. When requested, the flexibility, and potential economic Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Ombudsman may keep the identity of the benefit to the scallop fleet. This rule Management Plan (FMP) include a concerned party or entity confidential, unless notifies the public of these proposed bycatch control measure for the Gulf of prohibited by law or agency procedure. measures and solicits comments on the Maine (GOM), Georges Bank (GB), and (c) Consulting an ombudsman does not potential scallop fishery management Southern New England (SNE) Regulated alter or postpone the timeline for any other changes. Mesh Areas (RMA). A vessel may not process (e.g., protests). amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 PART 16—TYPES OF CONTRACTS VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 (End of clause) Alternate I. As prescribed in 16.506(j), add the following paragraph (d) to the basic clause. 54903 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DATES: E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules fish in these areas unless it is fishing under a multispecies or a scallop daysat-sea (DAS) allocation; is fishing with exempted gear; is fishing under the Handgear or Party/Charter permit restrictions; or is fishing in an exempted fishery (50 CFR 648.80(a)(3)(vi) and 50 CFR 648.80(b)(2)(vi)). The regulations found at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(8) give the Regional Administrator (RA) the authority to establish a new exempted fishery, or modify an existing exempted fishery, after consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), provided the bycatch of groundfish species is, or can be reduced to, less than five percent by weight of the total catch and the exempted fishery will not jeopardize the fishing mortality objectives of the NE Multispecies FMP. The limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) fleet currently operates in four different exemption areas: GOM scallop dredge exemption area (SDEA); Great South Channel (GSC) SDEA; SNE SDEA; and the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area (Figure 1). Recently, some members of the scallop industry requested that NMFS expand the GSC and GOM SDEAs to encompass all of GB and the GOM. As a result, at its meeting on June 20, 2017, the Council recommended that the RA use his authority to expand the GSC SDEA to encompass all of GB. The Council is considering an amendment to the Scallop FMP to develop comprehensive management measures for the GOM, and therefore, it did not recommend that we expand the GOM SDEA. This proposed rule proposes to adopt and implement the Council’s recommendation. The current exemptions in the SDEAs allow LAGC IFQ vessels to fish within the designated SDEA using dredge gear that is less than 10.5 feet wide. The exemptions allow these vessels to retain only scallops and up to 50 lb of monkfish tails per trip. One purpose of this action is to expand the area where these exemptions apply. Because the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area is not subject to the same exemption conditions under the NE Multispecies FMP as the SDEAs, no changes are being proposed for the Mid-Atlantic Exemption area. Based on consultations with the Council, the current SDEAs for the LAGC IFQ fleet would be expanded by eliminating the current GSC and SNE SDEAs designations and creating a new expanded exemption area called Georges Bank/Southern New England (GB/SNE) SDEA. The GB/SNE SDEA would encompass all fishing grounds south of 42°20′ N lat. and east of the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area (Figure 2). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 EP01NO18.021</GPH> amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 54904 This new expanded exemption area would provide continuity for IFQ scallop fishing and achieve the following benefits: • Include new areas that were originally part of the Nantucket Lightship Essential Fish Habitat Closure opened under the Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2) and are not currently accessible to the LAGC fleet; and • Include an area off the coasts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York that is not covered by current exemption areas, but where activity in the IFQ fishery has occurred. The primary area that would open to LAGC fishing as a result of this action is the GB Broad Stock Area (BSA), which is made up of statistical reporting areas 522, 525, 542, 561, 562, and 543 (a map of the statistical reporting areas is available from the Regional Administrator upon request). Because LAGC dredge fishing is not currently permitted in these areas, we analyzed potential effect on groundfish catch by LAGC dredge fishing in the expansion area by looking at limited access and LAGC observed hauls in the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) BSA and Statistical Area 521 from 2012 to 2016 (n=3,426). We determined that this information from these areas would be a valid way to estimate potential catch of groundfish in the newly expanded areas. In looking at this information, we excluded hauls that caught less than 40 lbs of scallop meats because these are not representative samples. Using the observer program VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 information, we developed a ratio of groundfish discarded (D) to total catch (K) for both the limited access and LAGC fleets according to the following equation: Percent Multispecies = [D/K] × 100 For this analysis, we summed the weights of groundfish caught on observed trips in the SNE/MA BSA and Statistical Area 521, and divided it into the total weight (n=374). Trips were aggregated across area, fishing year, and fleet. The ratios for both fleets were compared for differences using statistical analysis. We found that the limited access fleet had a bycatch rate of 0.52 percent of regulated species in the SNE BSA and the LAGC fleet had a bycatch rate of 0.53 percent of regulated species. There were no significant differences between bycatch rates of regulated species between the two fleets. Limited access D/K ratios were then calculated from observed trips within the GB BSA. We used additional statistical analysis to determine the range of the likely rate of groundfish bycatch by the LAGC fleet in the GB BSA. We found that the limited access fleet had a bycatch rate of 1.07 percent of regulated species. Based on the combination of these two analyses, the expected range of regulated species bycatch for the LAGC fleet in the GB BSA would be between 0.99 percent and 1.25 percent. Further, an examination of rates within fishing years and individual areas revealed that there were no years or areas where the D/K rate exceeded 5 percent. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54905 Based on data analysis perform by NMFS, the LAGC IFQ fishery is expected to meet the five-percent-or-less bycatch criteria for granting an exemption throughout the entirety of the GB and SNE RMAs. Further, because multispecies catch is controlled for the IFQ fleet by the sub-annual catch limits and there are accountability measures for yellowtail and windowpane flounder caught in the fishery, allowing the IFQ fleet to fish in the expanded area would not likely jeopardize fishing mortality limits for NE multispecies stocks. In addition, this expanded exemption would help offset the effects on the closure to fishing implemented by the OHA2. The GSC Habitat Management Area (HMA) was created under the OHA2 within the existing GSC SDEA. The GSC HMA prohibits the use of all mobile fishing gear, including scallop dredge gear, year-round. Creating the new GB/SNE SDEA would provide additional fishing area, fishing opportunity, and greater flexibility and simplicity to the IFQ fleet. This action also proposes to modify open area DAS trip reporting procedures by requiring that each limited access vessel submit a pre-landing notification form through its vessel monitoring system (VMS) unit prior to returning to port at the end of each DAS trip, including trips where no scallops were landed. At its June 13, 2018, meeting the Council requested that NMFS use its authority to require a VMS pre-landing notification on all limited access scallop trips to create reporting parity in the fishery with other limited access trips E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 EP01NO18.022</GPH> amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules 54906 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules and LAGC trips where this notification is required. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement may use this information to assist in monitoring vessel activity and to improve compliance with the regulations. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the NE Multispecies and Atlantic Sea Scallop FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. 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 proposed rule would expand the Great South Channel (GSC) Scallop Dredge Exemption Area (SDEA), as requested by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council). The existing exemption allows the limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) scallop fleet to operate in the GSC SDEA with dredge gear. The LAGC IFQ fleet currently operates in four different exemption areas: the Gulf of Maine (GOM), GSC, and Southern New England (SNE) SDEAs and the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area. The current exemptions in the SDEAs allow LAGC IFQ vessels to fish within the designated SDEA using dredge gear that is less than 10.5 feet wide. The exemptions allow vessels to retain only scallops and up to 50 lb of monkfish tails per trip. The purpose this action is to expand the area where these exemptions apply. The Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area is not subject to the same exemption conditions under the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as the SDEAs, therefore the restrictions under the proposed action would not apply. The proposed rule would: • Remove the GSC and SNE SDEAs and exempt LAGC IFQ scallop fishing using dredge gear that is less than 10.5ft wide south of 42°20′ N lat. and east of 72°30′ W long.; • Provide continuity for IFQ scallop fishing south of 42°20′ N lat.; • Include new areas that were originally part of the Nantucket Lightship Essential Fish Habitat Closure opened under the Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2) and are not currently accessible to the LAGC fleet; and • Include an area off the coasts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York that is not covered by current exemption areas, but where the IFQ fishery has fished. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires Federal agencies to consider disproportionality and profitability to determine the significance of regulatory impacts. The RFA defines a small business in the shellfish fishery as a firm that is independently owned and operated with receipts of less than $11 million annually. Individuallypermitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different fishery management plans, even beyond those impacted by the proposed action. Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic dependency. For the purposes of this analysis, ownership entities are defined as those entities with common ownership as listed on the permit application. Only permits with identical ownership are categorized as an ownership entity. For example, if five permits have the same seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit applications, those seven persons would form one ownership entity, that holds those five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own additional vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a separate ownership entity for the purpose of this analysis. On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are categorized as small. The current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2016 permits and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2014 through 2016. Matching the potentially impacted 2016 fishing year permits described above to calendar year 2016 ownership data results in 115 distinct ownership entities for the LAGC IFQ fleet. Less than three of the remaining LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as large entities. NUMBER OF ACTIVE VESSELS AND BUSINESS ENTITIES WITH LAGC IFQ PERMITS Year Description 2014 .............................. No. of Entities .................................................................................................................................... No. of active LAGC IFQ Permits * ..................................................................................................... Average Revenue per affiliation ........................................................................................................ Total Scallop revenue by vessels with IFQ permits .......................................................................... Total Affiliation Revenue .................................................................................................................... No. of Entities .................................................................................................................................... No. of active LAGC IFQ Permits* ...................................................................................................... Average Revenue per affiliation ........................................................................................................ Total Scallop revenue by vessels with IFQ permits .......................................................................... Total Affiliation Revenue .................................................................................................................... No. of Entities .................................................................................................................................... No. of active LAGC IFQ Permits * ..................................................................................................... Average Revenue per affiliation ........................................................................................................ Total Scallop revenue by vessels with IFQ permits .......................................................................... Total Affiliation Revenue .................................................................................................................... 2015 .............................. amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 2016 .............................. Small business 103 111 $844,061 $24,269,674 $86,938,240 101 108 $864,696 $27,116,630 $87,334,298 113 120 $887,384 $35,629,220 $100,274,409 * Number of permits refer only to LAGC IFQ permits. Affiliations could include several vessels with permits other than scallop. The implementation of this action will expand the fishing area for all federal IFQ permit holders. Therefore, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 the small entities to which this action applies includes the majority of IFQ permit holders. NMFS does not expect PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the proposed action to have a substantial or disproportional negative impact on small businesses. NMFS E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules expects the profits of regulated small businesses identified in this analysis to be positive relative to the no action alternative. If approved and implemented, this action would provide greater operational flexibility for permit holders than current SDEA regulations. Since there are cost savings resulting from this proposed rule, the impact on small entities would be a positive one. Permit holders would be able to maximize the profits of each fishing trip by having additional fishing grounds to choose from. Cost savings would be determined by individual permit holders based on the fuel cost variables associated with fishing trips. These costs would include the fuel needed to transit to the fishing grounds versus the fuel needed for fishing operations. If this rule is approved and implemented then individual permit holders would be able prioritize one cost over the other in order to maximize profits. For limited access vessels, the costs associated with the new requirement to send in a prelanding notification report for open area trips is expected to be less than five dollars per fishing year and considered to be minimal in nature. Therefore, this rule will 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. The proposed action contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The requirements will be submitted to OMB for approval under the NMFS Greater Atlantic Region Scallop Report Family of Forms (OMB Control No. 0648–0491). Under the proposed action, all 347 limited access scallop vessels would be required to submit a pre-landing notification form for each DAS trip through their VMS units. This information collection is intended to improve DAS trip monitoring, as well as create reporting consistency for all scallop trips. The pre-landing notification would include the following information: Operator’s permit number; amount of scallop meats to be landed; the estimated time of arrival; the landing port and state where the scallops will be offloaded; and the vessel trip report (VTR) serial number recorded from that trip’s VTR. The burden estimates for these new requirements apply to all limited access scallop vessels. In a given fishing year, NMFS estimates that for DAS reporting, each of the 313 full-time limited access VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 scallop vessels would submit a prelanding report 3 times (939 responses) and each of the 34 part-time limited access vessels would submit a prelanding report up to 2 times (68 responses), for a total of 1,007 responses. Public reporting burden for submitting this pre-landing notification form is estimated to average 5 minutes per response with an associated cost of $1.25, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Therefore, 1,007 responses would impose total compliance costs of $1,259. Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to the Regional Administrator (See ADDRESSES above), and email to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 395–5806. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/ services_programs/prasubs.html. This action contains no other compliance costs. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap or Conflict With This Proposed Rule The proposed regulations do not create overlapping regulations with any state regulations or other Federal laws. List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54907 Dated: October 25, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEAST UNITED STATES Subpart A—General Provisions 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.10, revise paragraph (f)(4)(iii) to read as follows: ■ § 648.10 VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators. * * * * * (f) * * * (4) * * * (iii) Scallop Pre-Landing Notification Form for limited access vessels fishing on scallop trips. A limited access vessel on a declared sea scallop trip must report through VMS, using the Scallop Pre-Landing Notification Form, the amount of any scallops kept on each trip, including declared trips where no scallops were landed. The report must be submitted no less than 6 hours before arrival, or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before arrival, immediately after fishing ends. If scallops will be landed, the report must include the vessel operator’s permit number, the amount of scallop meats in pounds to be landed, the number of bushels of in-shell scallops to be landed, the estimated time of arrival, the landing port and state where the scallops will be offloaded, and the VTR serial number recorded from that trip’s VTR (the same VTR serial number as reported to the dealer). If no scallops will be landed, a limited access vessel on a declared sea scallop trip must provide only the vessel’s captain/operator’s permit number, the VTR serial number recorded from that trip’s VTR (the same VTR serial number as reported to the dealer), and confirmation that no scallops will be landed. A limited access scallop vessel may provide a corrected report. If the report is being submitted as a correction of a prior report, the information entered into the notification form will replace the data previously submitted in the prior report. Submitting a correction does not prevent NMFS from pursuing an enforcement action for any false reporting. A vessel may not offload its E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 54908 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules catch from a Sea Scallop Access Area trip at more than one location per trip. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.14, revise paragraph (k)(5)(i) to read as follows: § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (k) * * * (5) * * * (i) Violate any of the provisions of § 648.80, including paragraphs (a)(5), the Small-mesh Northern Shrimp Fishery Exemption Area; (a)(6), the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area; (a)(9), Small-mesh Area 1/Small-mesh Area 2; (a)(10), the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area; (h)(3)(i), the GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area; (a)(12), the Nantucket Shoals Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption Area; (a)(13), the GOM/GB Monkfish Gillnet Exemption Area; (a)(14), the GOM/GB Dogfish Gillnet Exemption Area; (a)(15), the Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery; (a)(16), the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery; (h)(3)(ii), the Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area; (a)(19), the Eastern and Western Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Areas; (b)(3), exemptions (small mesh); (b)(5), the SNE Monkfish and Skate Trawl Exemption Area; (b)(6), the SNE Monkfish and Skate Gillnet Exemption Area; (b)(8), the SNE Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption Area; (b)(9), the SNE Little Tunny Gillnet Exemption Area;(h)(3)(ii); or (b)(12), the SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area. Each violation of any provision in § 648.80 constitutes a separate violation. * * * * * Subpart D—Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery 4. In § 648.51, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows: ■ § 648.51 Gear and crew restrictions amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 * * * * * (b) * * * (1) Maximum dredge width. The combined dredge width in use by or in possession on board such vessels shall not exceed 31 ft (9.4 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, except as provided under paragraph (e) of this section, in § 648.59(g)(2), and the scallop dredge exemption areas specified in § 648.80(h). However, component parts may be on board the vessel such that they do not conform with the definition of ‘‘dredge or dredge gear’’ in § 648.2, i.e., the metal ring bag and the mouth frame, or bail, of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 dredge are not attached, and such that no more than one complete spare dredge could be made from these component’s parts. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.62, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 648.62 Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program. (a) The NGOM scallop management area is the area north of 42°20′ N. lat. and within the boundaries of the Gulf of Maine Scallop Dredge Exemption Area as specified in § 648.80(h)(3)(i). To fish for or possess scallops in the NGOM scallop management area, a vessel must have been issued a scallop permit as specified in § 648.4(a)(2). * * * * * Subpart F—Management Measures for the Northeast Multispecies Fishery 6. In § 648.80, a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3)(vi), (b)(2)(vi), (h)(1); ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraphs (a)(11), (a)(18), and (b)(11); and ■ c. Add new paragraph (h)(3), to read as follows: ■ ■ § 648.80 NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on gear and methods of fishing. (a) * * * (3) * * * (vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from fishing in the GOM or GB Exemption Area as defined in paragraph (a)(17) of this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (a)(5) through (7), (a)(9) through (a)(16) and (a)(18) through (a)(19), (d), (e), (h), and (i) of this section; or if fishing under a NE multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; or if fishing under the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in § 648.82(b)(5) and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a Handgear B permit specified in § 648.88(a); or if fishing under the scallop state waters exemptions specified in § 648.54 and paragraph (h)(3)(i)of this section; or if fishing under a scallop DAS or general category trip in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing pursuant to a NE multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear permit specified in § 648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or private recreational vessel in compliance with § 648.89. Any gear used by a vessel in this area must be authorized under one of these exemptions. Any gear on a vessel that is not authorized under one of these exemptions must be stowed and not PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2 * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from fishing in the SNE Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b)(3), (b)(5) through (9), (b)(12), (c), (e), (h), and (i) of this section; or if fishing under a NE multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; or if fishing under the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in § 648.82(b)(5) and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a Handgear B permit specified in § 648.88(a); or if fishing under a scallop state waters exemption specified in § 648.54; or if fishing under a scallop DAS or General Category scallop permit in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing pursuant to a NE multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear permit specified in § 648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or private recreational vessel in compliance with the regulations specified in § 648.89. Any gear on a vessel, or used by a vessel, in this area must be authorized under one of these exemptions or must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. * * * * * (h) Scallop vessels. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (h)(2) and (3) of this section, a scallop vessel that possesses a limited access scallop permit and either a NE multispecies Combination vessel permit or a scallop/ multispecies possession limit permit, and that is fishing under a scallop DAS allocated under § 648.53, may possess and land up to 300 lb (136.1 kg) of regulated species per trip, provided that the amount of regulated species on board the vessel does not exceed the trip limits specified in § 648.86, and provided the vessel has at least one standard tote on board, unless otherwise restricted by § 648.86(a)(2). * * * * * (3) Scallop dredge exemption areas for general category scallop permits (i) GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in § 648.81, § 648.370, or § 648.371, vessels with a limited access scallop permit that have declared out of the DAS program as specified in § 648.10, or that have used up their DAS allocations, and vessels issued a General Category scallop permit, may fish in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area specified in E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 212 / Thursday, November 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules paragraph (a)(1) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies DAS, providing the vessel fishes in the GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area and complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section. The GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Area is bounded on the west and north by the coastlines of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, bounded on the east by the U.S.Canada Maritime Boundary, and bounded on the south by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated: GOM SCALLOP DREDGE EXEMPTION AREA—Continued Point GOM2 GOM3 GOM4 GOM5 GOM6 GOM7 N lat. ....................... ....................... ....................... ....................... ....................... ....................... 43°58′ 43°41′ 43°12′ 42°49.5′ 42°20′ 42°20′ W long. 67°22′ 68°00′ 69°00′ 69°40′ 69°40′ (2) 1 The intersection of 43°58′ N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime boundary. 2 The intersection of 42°20′ N lat. and the coastline of Massachusetts. (ii) Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in § 648.81, § 648.370, or § 648.371, vessels issued a LAGC scallop permit, including W long. limited access scallop permits that have (1) used up their DAS allocations, may fish GOM SCALLOP DREDGE EXEMPTION AREA Point N lat. GOM1 ....................... 43°58′ 54909 in the Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, as defined under paragraph (h)(3)(ii)(A) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies or scallop DAS or on a sector trip, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section and applicable scallop regulations in subpart D of this part. (A) Area Definition. The Georges Bank/Southern New England dredge exemption area is bounded on the north by 42°20′ N lat.; bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada Maritime boundary and the outer limit of the US EEZ; bounded on the west by 72°30′ W long. from the outer limit of the US EEZ to the southfacing coastline of Long Island; and bounded on the northwest by the following points, connected as noted in the order listed: GB/SNE SCALLOP DREDGE EXEMPTION AREA Point N lat. W long. 1 .......... 72°30′ W .................................... From Point 1 to Point 2 following the coastline of Long Island. 2 .......... The south-facing coastline of Long Island. 41°00′ N ..................................... From Point 2 to Point 3 following a straight line. 3 .......... 41°00′ N ..................................... 4 .......... 41°4.25′ N .................................. 5 .......... 41°15′ N ..................................... The southeast-facing coast of Long Island. The 3 nautical mile line, approximately 71°51.841′ W long. The 3 nautical mile line, approximately 71°47.384′ W long. 72°2.25′ W ................................. 6 .......... 41°18.2′ N .................................. 71°51.5′ W ................................. 7 .......... 42°20′ N ..................................... The coastline of Massachusetts. amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 (B) [Reserved] (iii) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas specified in paragraphs (h)(3)(i) and (ii) of this section may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Oct 31, 2018 Jkt 247001 Note From Point 3 to Point 4 following the Submerged Lands Act (3 nautical mile) line. From Point 4 to Point 5 following a straight line. Point 5 represents Race Point, Fishers Island, NY. From Point 5 to Point 6 following a straight line northeasterly through Fishers Island, NY. Point 6 represents Watch Hill, RI. From Point 6 to Point 7 following the coastlines of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. lb (23 kg) tail weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip. (B) The combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, vessels fishing in the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas may not exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge. PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 (C) The exemption does not apply to the Cashes Ledge Closure Area or the Western GOM Area Closure specified in § 648.81(a)(3) and (4), respectively. [FR Doc. 2018–23790 Filed 10–31–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\01NOP1.SGM 01NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 212 (Thursday, November 1, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54903-54909]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-23790]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No.: 180205127-8896-01]
RIN 0648-BH68


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Proposed Rule To 
Expand the Scallop Dredge Exemption Areas Under the Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement modifications to the regulations 
implementing the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to 
allow vessels issued a limited access general category individual 
fishing quota sea scallop permit to fish for scallops with small 
dredges in an expanded area. In addition, NMFS also proposes to modify 
open area days-at-sea trip reporting procedures for limited access 
scallop vessels. This action is intended to provide consistency, 
flexibility, and potential economic benefit to the scallop fleet. This 
rule notifies the public of these proposed measures and solicits 
comments on the potential scallop fishery management changes.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 3, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2018-0118, 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-2018-0118, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ``Comments on Scallop Dredge 
Exemption''.
    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 the proposed rule to expand the scallop dredge exemption 
areas, and of the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and preliminary 
Regulatory Impact Review (EA/RIR), are available from the Greater 
Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930. The EA/RIR is also accessible via the internet 
at: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to the Greater Atlantic Regional 
Fisheries Office and by email to [email protected] or fax to 
(202) 395-5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannah Jaburek, Fishery Management 
Specialist, 978-282-8456.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Regulations implementing the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) include a bycatch control measure for the Gulf of 
Maine (GOM), Georges Bank (GB), and Southern New England (SNE) 
Regulated Mesh Areas (RMA). A vessel may not

[[Page 54904]]

fish in these areas unless it is fishing under a multispecies or a 
scallop days-at-sea (DAS) allocation; is fishing with exempted gear; is 
fishing under the Handgear or Party/Charter permit restrictions; or is 
fishing in an exempted fishery (50 CFR 648.80(a)(3)(vi) and 50 CFR 
648.80(b)(2)(vi)). The regulations found at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(8) give 
the Regional Administrator (RA) the authority to establish a new 
exempted fishery, or modify an existing exempted fishery, after 
consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council (Council), 
provided the bycatch of groundfish species is, or can be reduced to, 
less than five percent by weight of the total catch and the exempted 
fishery will not jeopardize the fishing mortality objectives of the NE 
Multispecies FMP.
    The limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota 
(IFQ) fleet currently operates in four different exemption areas: GOM 
scallop dredge exemption area (SDEA); Great South Channel (GSC) SDEA; 
SNE SDEA; and the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area (Figure 1). Recently, 
some members of the scallop industry requested that NMFS expand the GSC 
and GOM SDEAs to encompass all of GB and the GOM. As a result, at its 
meeting on June 20, 2017, the Council recommended that the RA use his 
authority to expand the GSC SDEA to encompass all of GB. The Council is 
considering an amendment to the Scallop FMP to develop comprehensive 
management measures for the GOM, and therefore, it did not recommend 
that we expand the GOM SDEA. This proposed rule proposes to adopt and 
implement the Council's recommendation.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP01NO18.021

    The current exemptions in the SDEAs allow LAGC IFQ vessels to fish 
within the designated SDEA using dredge gear that is less than 10.5 
feet wide. The exemptions allow these vessels to retain only scallops 
and up to 50 lb of monkfish tails per trip. One purpose of this action 
is to expand the area where these exemptions apply. Because the Mid-
Atlantic Exemption Area is not subject to the same exemption conditions 
under the NE Multispecies FMP as the SDEAs, no changes are being 
proposed for the Mid-Atlantic Exemption area.
    Based on consultations with the Council, the current SDEAs for the 
LAGC IFQ fleet would be expanded by eliminating the current GSC and SNE 
SDEAs designations and creating a new expanded exemption area called 
Georges Bank/Southern New England (GB/SNE) SDEA. The GB/SNE SDEA would 
encompass all fishing grounds south of 42[deg]20' N lat. and east of 
the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area (Figure 2).

[[Page 54905]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP01NO18.022

    This new expanded exemption area would provide continuity for IFQ 
scallop fishing and achieve the following benefits:
     Include new areas that were originally part of the 
Nantucket Lightship Essential Fish Habitat Closure opened under the 
Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2) and are not currently accessible to 
the LAGC fleet; and
     Include an area off the coasts of Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, and New York that is not covered by current exemption 
areas, but where activity in the IFQ fishery has occurred.
    The primary area that would open to LAGC fishing as a result of 
this action is the GB Broad Stock Area (BSA), which is made up of 
statistical reporting areas 522, 525, 542, 561, 562, and 543 (a map of 
the statistical reporting areas is available from the Regional 
Administrator upon request). Because LAGC dredge fishing is not 
currently permitted in these areas, we analyzed potential effect on 
groundfish catch by LAGC dredge fishing in the expansion area by 
looking at limited access and LAGC observed hauls in the Southern New 
England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) BSA and Statistical Area 521 from 2012 to 
2016 (n=3,426). We determined that this information from these areas 
would be a valid way to estimate potential catch of groundfish in the 
newly expanded areas. In looking at this information, we excluded hauls 
that caught less than 40 lbs of scallop meats because these are not 
representative samples. Using the observer program information, we 
developed a ratio of groundfish discarded (D) to total catch (K) for 
both the limited access and LAGC fleets according to the following 
equation:

Percent Multispecies = [D/K] x 100

    For this analysis, we summed the weights of groundfish caught on 
observed trips in the SNE/MA BSA and Statistical Area 521, and divided 
it into the total weight (n=374). Trips were aggregated across area, 
fishing year, and fleet. The ratios for both fleets were compared for 
differences using statistical analysis. We found that the limited 
access fleet had a bycatch rate of 0.52 percent of regulated species in 
the SNE BSA and the LAGC fleet had a bycatch rate of 0.53 percent of 
regulated species. There were no significant differences between 
bycatch rates of regulated species between the two fleets.
    Limited access D/K ratios were then calculated from observed trips 
within the GB BSA. We used additional statistical analysis to determine 
the range of the likely rate of groundfish bycatch by the LAGC fleet in 
the GB BSA. We found that the limited access fleet had a bycatch rate 
of 1.07 percent of regulated species. Based on the combination of these 
two analyses, the expected range of regulated species bycatch for the 
LAGC fleet in the GB BSA would be between 0.99 percent and 1.25 
percent. Further, an examination of rates within fishing years and 
individual areas revealed that there were no years or areas where the 
D/K rate exceeded 5 percent.
    Based on data analysis perform by NMFS, the LAGC IFQ fishery is 
expected to meet the five-percent-or-less bycatch criteria for granting 
an exemption throughout the entirety of the GB and SNE RMAs. Further, 
because multispecies catch is controlled for the IFQ fleet by the sub-
annual catch limits and there are accountability measures for 
yellowtail and windowpane flounder caught in the fishery, allowing the 
IFQ fleet to fish in the expanded area would not likely jeopardize 
fishing mortality limits for NE multispecies stocks.
    In addition, this expanded exemption would help offset the effects 
on the closure to fishing implemented by the OHA2. The GSC Habitat 
Management Area (HMA) was created under the OHA2 within the existing 
GSC SDEA. The GSC HMA prohibits the use of all mobile fishing gear, 
including scallop dredge gear, year-round. Creating the new GB/SNE SDEA 
would provide additional fishing area, fishing opportunity, and greater 
flexibility and simplicity to the IFQ fleet.
    This action also proposes to modify open area DAS trip reporting 
procedures by requiring that each limited access vessel submit a pre-
landing notification form through its vessel monitoring system (VMS) 
unit prior to returning to port at the end of each DAS trip, including 
trips where no scallops were landed. At its June 13, 2018, meeting the 
Council requested that NMFS use its authority to require a VMS pre-
landing notification on all limited access scallop trips to create 
reporting parity in the fishery with other limited access trips

[[Page 54906]]

and LAGC trips where this notification is required. NOAA's Office of 
Law Enforcement may use this information to assist in monitoring vessel 
activity and to improve compliance with the regulations.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with 
the NE Multispecies and Atlantic Sea Scallop FMPs, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    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 proposed rule would expand the Great South Channel (GSC) Scallop 
Dredge Exemption Area (SDEA), as requested by the New England Fishery 
Management Council (Council). The existing exemption allows the limited 
access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) scallop 
fleet to operate in the GSC SDEA with dredge gear.
    The LAGC IFQ fleet currently operates in four different exemption 
areas: the Gulf of Maine (GOM), GSC, and Southern New England (SNE) 
SDEAs and the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area. The current exemptions in 
the SDEAs allow LAGC IFQ vessels to fish within the designated SDEA 
using dredge gear that is less than 10.5 feet wide. The exemptions 
allow vessels to retain only scallops and up to 50 lb of monkfish tails 
per trip. The purpose this action is to expand the area where these 
exemptions apply. The Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area is not subject to the 
same exemption conditions under the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) as the SDEAs, therefore the restrictions under 
the proposed action would not apply.
    The proposed rule would:
     Remove the GSC and SNE SDEAs and exempt LAGC IFQ scallop 
fishing using dredge gear that is less than 10.5-ft wide south of 
42[deg]20' N lat. and east of 72[deg]30' W long.;
     Provide continuity for IFQ scallop fishing south of 
42[deg]20' N lat.;
     Include new areas that were originally part of the 
Nantucket Lightship Essential Fish Habitat Closure opened under the 
Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2) and are not currently accessible to 
the LAGC fleet; and
     Include an area off the coasts of Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, and New York that is not covered by current exemption 
areas, but where the IFQ fishery has fished.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires Federal agencies to 
consider disproportionality and profitability to determine the 
significance of regulatory impacts. The RFA defines a small business in 
the shellfish fishery as a firm that is independently owned and 
operated with receipts of less than $11 million annually. Individually-
permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting 
species of fish that are regulated by several different fishery 
management plans, even beyond those impacted by the proposed action. 
Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by 
entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, identity of 
interest, contractual relationships, or economic dependency. For the 
purposes of this analysis, ownership entities are defined as those 
entities with common ownership as listed on the permit application. 
Only permits with identical ownership are categorized as an ownership 
entity. For example, if five permits have the same seven persons listed 
as co-owners on their permit applications, those seven persons would 
form one ownership entity, that holds those five permits. If two of 
those seven owners also co-own additional vessels, that ownership 
arrangement would be considered a separate ownership entity for the 
purpose of this analysis.
    On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are categorized as 
small. The current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2016 
permits and contains average gross sales associated with those permits 
for calendar years 2014 through 2016. Matching the potentially impacted 
2016 fishing year permits described above to calendar year 2016 
ownership data results in 115 distinct ownership entities for the LAGC 
IFQ fleet. Less than three of the remaining LAGC IFQ entities are 
categorized as large entities.

  Number of Active Vessels and Business Entities With LAGC IFQ Permits
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Year                    Description         Small business
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2014..........................  No. of Entities......                103
                                No. of active LAGC                   111
                                 IFQ Permits *.
                                Average Revenue per             $844,061
                                 affiliation.
                                Total Scallop revenue        $24,269,674
                                 by vessels with IFQ
                                 permits.
                                Total Affiliation            $86,938,240
                                 Revenue.
2015..........................  No. of Entities......                101
                                No. of active LAGC                   108
                                 IFQ Permits*.
                                Average Revenue per             $864,696
                                 affiliation.
                                Total Scallop revenue        $27,116,630
                                 by vessels with IFQ
                                 permits.
                                Total Affiliation            $87,334,298
                                 Revenue.
2016..........................  No. of Entities......                113
                                No. of active LAGC                   120
                                 IFQ Permits *.
                                Average Revenue per             $887,384
                                 affiliation.
                                Total Scallop revenue        $35,629,220
                                 by vessels with IFQ
                                 permits.
                                Total Affiliation           $100,274,409
                                 Revenue.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Number of permits refer only to LAGC IFQ permits. Affiliations could
  include several vessels with permits other than scallop.

    The implementation of this action will expand the fishing area for 
all federal IFQ permit holders. Therefore, the small entities to which 
this action applies includes the majority of IFQ permit holders. NMFS 
does not expect the proposed action to have a substantial or 
disproportional negative impact on small businesses. NMFS

[[Page 54907]]

expects the profits of regulated small businesses identified in this 
analysis to be positive relative to the no action alternative. If 
approved and implemented, this action would provide greater operational 
flexibility for permit holders than current SDEA regulations.
    Since there are cost savings resulting from this proposed rule, the 
impact on small entities would be a positive one. Permit holders would 
be able to maximize the profits of each fishing trip by having 
additional fishing grounds to choose from. Cost savings would be 
determined by individual permit holders based on the fuel cost 
variables associated with fishing trips. These costs would include the 
fuel needed to transit to the fishing grounds versus the fuel needed 
for fishing operations. If this rule is approved and implemented then 
individual permit holders would be able prioritize one cost over the 
other in order to maximize profits. For limited access vessels, the 
costs associated with the new requirement to send in a pre-landing 
notification report for open area trips is expected to be less than 
five dollars per fishing year and considered to be minimal in nature. 
Therefore, this rule will 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.
    The proposed action contains a collection-of-information 
requirement subject to review and approval by the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The 
requirements will be submitted to OMB for approval under the NMFS 
Greater Atlantic Region Scallop Report Family of Forms (OMB Control No. 
0648-0491).
    Under the proposed action, all 347 limited access scallop vessels 
would be required to submit a pre-landing notification form for each 
DAS trip through their VMS units. This information collection is 
intended to improve DAS trip monitoring, as well as create reporting 
consistency for all scallop trips.
    The pre-landing notification would include the following 
information: Operator's permit number; amount of scallop meats to be 
landed; the estimated time of arrival; the landing port and state where 
the scallops will be offloaded; and the vessel trip report (VTR) serial 
number recorded from that trip's VTR.
    The burden estimates for these new requirements apply to all 
limited access scallop vessels. In a given fishing year, NMFS estimates 
that for DAS reporting, each of the 313 full-time limited access 
scallop vessels would submit a pre-landing report 3 times (939 
responses) and each of the 34 part-time limited access vessels would 
submit a pre-landing report up to 2 times (68 responses), for a total 
of 1,007 responses. Public reporting burden for submitting this pre-
landing notification form is estimated to average 5 minutes per 
response with an associated cost of $1.25, including the time for 
reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information. Therefore, 1,007 responses would impose 
total compliance costs of $1,259.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on 
these or any other aspects of the collection of information to the 
Regional Administrator (See ADDRESSES above), and email to 
[email protected], or fax to (202) 395-5806.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number. All currently approved NOAA 
collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.
    This action contains no other compliance costs.

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

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

List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: October 25, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEAST UNITED STATES

Subpart A--General Provisions

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.  648.10, revise paragraph (f)(4)(iii) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (iii) Scallop Pre-Landing Notification Form for limited access 
vessels fishing on scallop trips. A limited access vessel on a declared 
sea scallop trip must report through VMS, using the Scallop Pre-Landing 
Notification Form, the amount of any scallops kept on each trip, 
including declared trips where no scallops were landed. The report must 
be submitted no less than 6 hours before arrival, or, if fishing ends 
less than 6 hours before arrival, immediately after fishing ends. If 
scallops will be landed, the report must include the vessel operator's 
permit number, the amount of scallop meats in pounds to be landed, the 
number of bushels of in-shell scallops to be landed, the estimated time 
of arrival, the landing port and state where the scallops will be 
offloaded, and the VTR serial number recorded from that trip's VTR (the 
same VTR serial number as reported to the dealer). If no scallops will 
be landed, a limited access vessel on a declared sea scallop trip must 
provide only the vessel's captain/operator's permit number, the VTR 
serial number recorded from that trip's VTR (the same VTR serial number 
as reported to the dealer), and confirmation that no scallops will be 
landed. A limited access scallop vessel may provide a corrected report. 
If the report is being submitted as a correction of a prior report, the 
information entered into the notification form will replace the data 
previously submitted in the prior report. Submitting a correction does 
not prevent NMFS from pursuing an enforcement action for any false 
reporting. A vessel may not offload its

[[Page 54908]]

catch from a Sea Scallop Access Area trip at more than one location per 
trip.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.14, revise paragraph (k)(5)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14   Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (i) Violate any of the provisions of Sec.  648.80, including 
paragraphs (a)(5), the Small-mesh Northern Shrimp Fishery Exemption 
Area; (a)(6), the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area; 
(a)(9), Small-mesh Area 1/Small-mesh Area 2; (a)(10), the Nantucket 
Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area; (h)(3)(i), the GOM Scallop 
Dredge Exemption Area; (a)(12), the Nantucket Shoals Mussel and Sea 
Urchin Dredge Exemption Area; (a)(13), the GOM/GB Monkfish Gillnet 
Exemption Area; (a)(14), the GOM/GB Dogfish Gillnet Exemption Area; 
(a)(15), the Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery; (a)(16), 
the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery; 
(h)(3)(ii), the Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge 
Exemption Area; (a)(19), the Eastern and Western Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish 
Exemption Areas; (b)(3), exemptions (small mesh); (b)(5), the SNE 
Monkfish and Skate Trawl Exemption Area; (b)(6), the SNE Monkfish and 
Skate Gillnet Exemption Area; (b)(8), the SNE Mussel and Sea Urchin 
Dredge Exemption Area; (b)(9), the SNE Little Tunny Gillnet Exemption 
Area;(h)(3)(ii); or (b)(12), the SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area. 
Each violation of any provision in Sec.  648.80 constitutes a separate 
violation.
* * * * *

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

0
4. In Sec.  648.51, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.51  Gear and crew restrictions

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) Maximum dredge width. The combined dredge width in use by or in 
possession on board such vessels shall not exceed 31 ft (9.4 m), 
measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, except as 
provided under paragraph (e) of this section, in Sec.  648.59(g)(2), 
and the scallop dredge exemption areas specified in Sec.  648.80(h). 
However, component parts may be on board the vessel such that they do 
not conform with the definition of ``dredge or dredge gear'' in Sec.  
648.2, i.e., the metal ring bag and the mouth frame, or bail, of the 
dredge are not attached, and such that no more than one complete spare 
dredge could be made from these component's parts.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  648.62, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


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

    (a) The NGOM scallop management area is the area north of 
42[deg]20' N. lat. and within the boundaries of the Gulf of Maine 
Scallop Dredge Exemption Area as specified in Sec.  648.80(h)(3)(i). To 
fish for or possess scallops in the NGOM scallop management area, a 
vessel must have been issued a scallop permit as specified in Sec.  
648.4(a)(2).
* * * * *

Subpart F--Management Measures for the Northeast Multispecies 
Fishery

0
6. In Sec.  648.80,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(3)(vi), (b)(2)(vi), (h)(1);
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraphs (a)(11), (a)(18), and (b)(11); and
0
c. Add new paragraph (h)(3), to read as follows:


Sec.  648.80   NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on 
gear and methods of fishing.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from 
fishing in the GOM or GB Exemption Area as defined in paragraph (a)(17) 
of this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under 
this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (a)(5) 
through (7), (a)(9) through (a)(16) and (a)(18) through (a)(19), (d), 
(e), (h), and (i) of this section; or if fishing under a NE 
multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; or if fishing under 
the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in Sec.  648.82(b)(5) 
and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a Handgear B permit 
specified in Sec.  648.88(a); or if fishing under the scallop state 
waters exemptions specified in Sec.  648.54 and paragraph (h)(3)(i)of 
this section; or if fishing under a scallop DAS or general category 
trip in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing 
pursuant to a NE multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear 
permit specified in Sec.  648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or 
private recreational vessel in compliance with Sec.  648.89. Any gear 
used by a vessel in this area must be authorized under one of these 
exemptions. Any gear on a vessel that is not authorized under one of 
these exemptions must be stowed and not available for immediate use as 
defined in Sec.  648.2
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from 
fishing in the SNE Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (b)(10) of 
this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under 
this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b)(3), 
(b)(5) through (9), (b)(12), (c), (e), (h), and (i) of this section; or 
if fishing under a NE multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; 
or if fishing under the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in 
Sec.  648.82(b)(5) and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a 
Handgear B permit specified in Sec.  648.88(a); or if fishing under a 
scallop state waters exemption specified in Sec.  648.54; or if fishing 
under a scallop DAS or General Category scallop permit in accordance 
with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing pursuant to a NE 
multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear permit specified in 
Sec.  648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or private recreational 
vessel in compliance with the regulations specified in Sec.  648.89. 
Any gear on a vessel, or used by a vessel, in this area must be 
authorized under one of these exemptions or must be stowed and not 
available for immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2.
* * * * *
    (h) Scallop vessels. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (h)(2) and 
(3) of this section, a scallop vessel that possesses a limited access 
scallop permit and either a NE multispecies Combination vessel permit 
or a scallop/multispecies possession limit permit, and that is fishing 
under a scallop DAS allocated under Sec.  648.53, may possess and land 
up to 300 lb (136.1 kg) of regulated species per trip, provided that 
the amount of regulated species on board the vessel does not exceed the 
trip limits specified in Sec.  648.86, and provided the vessel has at 
least one standard tote on board, unless otherwise restricted by Sec.  
648.86(a)(2).
* * * * *
    (3) Scallop dredge exemption areas for general category scallop 
permits
    (i) GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited 
in Sec.  648.81, Sec.  648.370, or Sec.  648.371, vessels with a 
limited access scallop permit that have declared out of the DAS program 
as specified in Sec.  648.10, or that have used up their DAS 
allocations, and vessels issued a General Category scallop permit, may 
fish in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area specified in

[[Page 54909]]

paragraph (a)(1) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies DAS, 
providing the vessel fishes in the GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area 
and complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) 
of this section. The GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Area is 
bounded on the west and north by the coastlines of Massachusetts, New 
Hampshire, and Maine, bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada Maritime 
Boundary, and bounded on the south by straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated:

                    GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Point                          N lat.    W long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GOM1..............................................  43[deg]58      (\1\)
                                                            '
GOM2..............................................  43[deg]58  67[deg]22
                                                            '          '
GOM3..............................................  43[deg]41  68[deg]00
                                                            '          '
GOM4..............................................  43[deg]12  69[deg]00
                                                            '          '
GOM5..............................................  42[deg]49  69[deg]40
                                                          .5'          '
GOM6..............................................  42[deg]20  69[deg]40
                                                            '          '
GOM7..............................................  42[deg]20      (\2\)
                                                            '
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The intersection of 43[deg]58' N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime
  boundary.
\2\ The intersection of 42[deg]20' N lat. and the coastline of
  Massachusetts.

    (ii) Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption 
Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in Sec.  648.81, Sec.  648.370, or 
Sec.  648.371, vessels issued a LAGC scallop permit, including limited 
access scallop permits that have used up their DAS allocations, may 
fish in the Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption 
Area, as defined under paragraph (h)(3)(ii)(A) of this section, when 
not under a NE multispecies or scallop DAS or on a sector trip, 
provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in 
paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section and applicable scallop 
regulations in subpart D of this part.
    (A) Area Definition. The Georges Bank/Southern New England dredge 
exemption area is bounded on the north by 42[deg]20' N lat.; bounded on 
the east by the U.S.-Canada Maritime boundary and the outer limit of 
the US EEZ; bounded on the west by 72[deg]30' W long. from the outer 
limit of the US EEZ to the south-facing coastline of Long Island; and 
bounded on the northwest by the following points, connected as noted in 
the order listed:

                  GB/SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Point           N lat.            W long.                Note
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..........  The south-facing   72[deg]30' W.....  From Point 1 to Point
              coastline of                          2 following the
              Long Island.                          coastline of Long
                                                    Island.
2..........  41[deg]00' N.....  The southeast-     From Point 2 to Point
                                 facing coast of    3 following a
                                 Long Island.       straight line.
3..........  41[deg]00' N.....  The 3 nautical     From Point 3 to Point
                                 mile line,         4 following the
                                 approximately      Submerged Lands Act
                                 71[deg]51.841' W   (3 nautical mile)
                                 long.              line.
4..........  41[deg]4.25' N...  The 3 nautical     From Point 4 to Point
                                 mile line,         5 following a
                                 approximately      straight line.
                                 71[deg]47.384' W
                                 long.
5..........  41[deg]15' N.....  72[deg]2.25' W...  Point 5 represents
                                                    Race Point, Fishers
                                                    Island, NY. From
                                                    Point 5 to Point 6
                                                    following a straight
                                                    line northeasterly
                                                    through Fishers
                                                    Island, NY.
6..........  41[deg]18.2' N...  71[deg]51.5' W...  Point 6 represents
                                                    Watch Hill, RI. From
                                                    Point 6 to Point 7
                                                    following the
                                                    coastlines of Rhode
                                                    Island and
                                                    Massachusetts.
7..........  42[deg]20' N.....  The coastline of
                                 Massachusetts.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (B) [Reserved]
    (iii) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Scallop Dredge 
Fishery Exemption Areas specified in paragraphs (h)(3)(i) and (ii) of 
this section may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of 
fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail 
weight or 166 lb (75 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip.
    (B) The combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, 
vessels fishing in the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas may not 
exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the 
dredge.
    (C) The exemption does not apply to the Cashes Ledge Closure Area 
or the Western GOM Area Closure specified in Sec.  648.81(a)(3) and 
(4), respectively.

[FR Doc. 2018-23790 Filed 10-31-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P