Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to Atlantic Herring Specifications and Sub-Annual Catch Limits for 2019, 61593-61598 [2018-26097]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 as both the certifying lab and third-party reviewer. Commenters should address whether this is a problem and provide available data to support their position. I. Electronic Reporting Tool (ERT) The EPA seeks comment on establishing electronic reporting for submitting the non-confidential business information (CBI) certification application, including the compliance test data, rather than via hard copy, to relieve manufacturer burden and enhance efficiencies. One possibility is the EPA’s Electronic Reporting Tool (ERT). The ERT is a Microsoft Access® application that generates electronic versions of source test reports. Information on the ERT can be found at https://www.epa.gov/electronicreporting-air-emissions/electronicreporting-tool-ert. The EPA believes that using the ERT will relieve the burden on manufacturers in the certification application process by standardizing the reporting format by having specific data elements reported, thereby helping to ensure completeness and accuracy of the data submitted. As a result, the electronically submitted application with complete and accurate data will enable an efficient and timely review. In addition, because the ERT performs the required method calculations, certification test report errors will be reduced and the burden of performing these calculations manually will be eliminated for the manufacturers as well as for the third-party certifiers and the EPA reviewers. If the ERT were used, it would generate a non-CBI test report (in pdf format) along with the ERTgenerated Access database (accdb) file that could be submitted to the EPA for certification and once certified, posted to the manufacturer’s website. This ERT-generated test report would include a list of attachments in the ERT file but not the attachments themselves. The attachments would be contained in the ERT accdb file and if posted to the manufacturer’s website would be available to the public. Posting the pdf will also address the version control concerns of the ERT-generated database file. These two components could satisfy the reporting requirements in 80 FR 13713 and 13725. The EPA seeks comment on whether to include the option of using the ERT to create a nonCBI and a CBI test report and certification package (pdf and .accdb file) that satisfies the reporting requirements in 40 CFR 60.537(f) and 60.5479(f), which requires the manufacturer to submit the results of a certification test within 60 days of completing each performance test. If the EPA changes the current provisions, the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Jkt 247001 Agency expects that the manufacturers would still be required to post the full non-CBI test report (pdf with all attachments or ERT generated pdf with the Access database (accdb) file) on the manufacturer’s website and submit the CBI test report separately to the EPA. Manufacturers, who claim that some of the information being submitted is CBI (e.g., design drawings), could also utilize the same non-CBI test report generated by the ERT and add the design drawings as an attachment to be submitted to the EPA as CBI in order to satisfy the requirements under 40 CFR 60.537(f) and 60.5479(f). Similarly, the non-CBI report with no CBI information attached could be posted to the manufacturer’s website within 30 days of receiving a certification of compliance to satisfy 40 CFR 60.537(g) and 60.5479(g). Please provide as much detailed information as possible to support your comments regarding this approach. J. Warranty Requirements for Certified Appliances The 2015 NSPS requires owners or operators to operate wood heating devices consistent with the owner’s manual (see 40 CFR 60.532(f)(13) and (g) and 60.5474(f)(13) and (g)). The 2015 NSPS also requires manufacturers to provide an owner’s manual that clearly states that operation in a manner inconsistent with the manual, such as burning prohibited material or pellets that do not meet the minimum requirements of the 2015 Rule, would void the warranty (see 80 FR 13751, appendix I to Part 60). The cost of this requirement to provide an owner’s manual is an average of $3,750 per hydronic heater or forced-air furnace model over the time period of 2015 to 2017, according to the Supporting Statement for the 2015 NSPS.12 Although numerous states expressed their support for these requirements as a mechanism to help enforce the 2015 NSPS, some stakeholders have questioned whether the EPA has the statutory authority to impose these requirements. Stakeholders have also raised other issues regarding the warranty requirements. The EPA is, therefore, soliciting comments regarding retention, revision, or elimination of the warranty requirements. For example, the EPA would be interested in hearing whether such requirements are necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the wood heater devices. 12 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NSPS for New Residential Hydronic Heaters and ForcedAir Furnaces (40 CFR part 60, subpart QQQQ). January 2015. pp. 11. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 61593 Commenters supporting retention of the requirements should address whether any changes are recommended to the warranty requirements along with data, as appropriate, and an explanation to support their position. Commenters supporting elimination of the requirements should provide an explanation to support their position. VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews Under Executive Order 12866, entitled Regulatory Planning and Review (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), this is a ‘‘significant regulatory action.’’ Accordingly, the EPA submitted this action to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Executive Order 12866 and any changes made in response to OMB recommendations have been documented in the docket for this action. Because this action does not propose or impose any requirements, and instead seeks comments and suggestions for the Agency to consider in possibly developing a subsequent proposed rule, the various statutes and Executive Orders that normally apply to rulemaking do not apply in this case. Should the EPA subsequently determine to pursue a rulemaking, the EPA will address the statutes and Executive Orders as applicable to that rulemaking. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 60 Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure. Dated: November 21, 2018. Andrew R. Wheeler, Acting Administrator. [FR Doc. 2018–26082 Filed 11–29–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 181031994–8999–01] RIN 0648–XG608 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Adjustment to Atlantic Herring Specifications and Sub-Annual Catch Limits for 2019 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 61594 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules Proposed rule; request for comments. ACTION: This action proposes an inseason adjustment to the Atlantic herring specifications and sub-annual catch limits for 2019. These adjustments are necessary to reduce 2018 herring catch limits that would otherwise remain in effect for 2019. This action is intended to prevent overfishing of the herring resource while minimizing negative social and economic impacts of reduced catch limits. DATES: Public comments must be received by December 31, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2018–0131, 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-20180131, 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 Adjustments to Atlantic Herring Specifications for 2019.’’ Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by us. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of this action, including the Supplemental Environmental Assessment and the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (SEA/RIR/IRFA) prepared in support of this action, are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 SUMMARY: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: https:// www.regulations.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9272. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background We implemented 2016–2018 Atlantic herring specifications on November 1, 2016 (81 FR 75731), as recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council. The specifications included an overfishing limit (OFL) of 111,000 mt for 2018. The acceptable biological catch (ABC) for 2018 was also set at 111,000 mt. The ABC was based on the Council’s interim control rule, set equal to the OFL with at least a 50-percent probability of preventing overfishing, and consistent with the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee’s (SSC) advice. The annual catch limit (ACL) for 2018 was 104,800 mt. In June 2018, a new Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) for herring, reviewed by the Stock Assessment Review Committee (SARC), was completed. The assessment concluded that although herring was not overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2017, poor recruitment would likely result in a substantial decline in herring biomass. The stock assessment estimated that recruitment had been at historic lows during the most recent 5 years (2013–2017). The assessment projected that biomass could increase, after reaching a low in 2019, if recruitment returns to average levels, but that herring catch would need to be reduced, starting in 2018, to prevent overfishing and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished. The final assessment summary report is available on the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) website (www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/). The Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) allows us to make in-season adjustments to the herring specifications and sub-ACLs, after consultation with the Council, consistent with the Herring FMP’s objectives and other FMP provisions. In August 2018, at the request of the Council, we used an in-season adjustment to reduce the 2018 ACL from 104,800 mt to 49,900 mt to reduce the risk of overfishing (83 FR 42450, August 22, 2018). This ensured at least a 50percent probability of preventing overfishing in 2018. However, assessment projections indicated that catch would need to be further reduced in 2019 to prevent overfishing and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished. By regulation, herring catch limits for 2018, as modified by the 2018 in-season adjustment, will remain in effect until replaced. At its September 2018 meeting, the Council adopted a new ABC control rule for the herring fishery developed in Amendment 8 to the Herring FMP and recommended we use an in-season adjustment to reduce 2018 herring catch limits for 2019 while it develops new specifications starting in 2020. The Council was scheduled to begin developing the 2019–2021 herring specifications at its September meeting and take final action on the new specifications at its December 2018 meeting. The Council planned for us to implement the new specifications during 2019, based on the new ABC control rule it adopted in Amendment 8. However, because of the time required for the Council to prepare the necessary documentation and for us to review and approve the control rule in Amendment 8 and implement final approved measures, the new specifications would not have been effective early enough to prevent catch from exceeding the lower catch limits required to prevent overfishing in 2019. Proposed Adjustments to Herring Specifications We are proposing to adjust the current herring specifications and sub-ACLs for 2019, consistent with the Herring FMP’s objectives of preventing overfishing while maximizing social and economic benefits. We will strive to publish the final rule as close as possible to the start of the new fishing year in January 2019. The 2019 specifications and sub-ACLs proposed in this action, as well as the Council’s recommendations for 2019, are shown in Table 1. TABLE 1—2019 ATLANTIC HERRING SPECIFICATION AND SUB-ACL ALTERNATIVES (mt) Overfishing Limit ............................ Acceptable Biological Catch .......... Management Uncertainty ............... Optimum Yield/ACL ....................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Alternative 1—no action Alternative 2—councilrecommended 111,000 ......................................... 111,000 ......................................... 6,200 ............................................. 49,900 * ......................................... 30,688 ........................................... 21,266 ........................................... 6,200 ............................................. 15,065 * ......................................... Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM Alternative 3—proposed action 30,688 30,688 6,200 24,488 * 30NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules 61595 TABLE 1—2019 ATLANTIC HERRING SPECIFICATION AND SUB-ACL ALTERNATIVES (mt)—Continued Domestic Annual Harvest .............. Border Transfer .............................. Domestic Annual Processing ......... U.S. At-Sea Processing ................. Area 1A Sub-ACL .......................... Area 1B Sub-ACL .......................... Area 2 Sub-ACL ............................ Area 3 Sub-ACL ............................ Fixed Gear Set-Aside .................... Research Set-Aside ....................... Alternative 1—no action Alternative 2—councilrecommended 104,800 ......................................... 4,000 ............................................. 100,800 ......................................... 0 .................................................... 27,743 * (55.6%) ........................... 2,639 (5.3%) ................................. 8,200 (16.4%) ............................... 11,318 (22.7%) ............................. 295 ................................................ 3% of sub-ACLs ........................... 15,065 ........................................... 0 .................................................... 15,065 ........................................... 0 .................................................... 4,354 * (28.9%) ............................. 647 (4.3%) .................................... 4,188 (27.8%) ............................... 5,876 (39%) .................................. 39 .................................................. 3% of sub-ACLs ........................... Alternative 3—proposed action 24,488 0 24,488 0 7,077 * (28.9%) 1,053 (4.3%) 6,808 (27.8%) 9,550 (39%) 64 3% of sub-ACLs amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 * If New Brunswick weir fishery catch through October 1 is less than 4,000 mt, then 1,000 mt will be subtracted from the management uncertainty buffer and added to the ACL and Area 1A Sub-ACL. We consulted with the Council on potential 2019 specifications during the Council’s September 2018 meeting. At that meeting, the Council recommended that we: • Use the most recent assessment and projections to develop the 2019 specifications. • Use the ABC control rule approved by the Council in Amendment 8. • Maintain the sub-annual catch limits for herring management areas based on the proportions allocated in the 2016–2018 specifications package. Æ Area 1A: 28.9 percent. Æ Area 1B: 4.3 percent. Æ Area 2: 27.8 percent. Æ Area 3: 39 percent. • Proportionally reduce the fixed gear set-aside allocation which is based on a small weir fishery west of Cutler, ME. • Set the border transfer (which allows U.S. vessels to transfer herring to Canadian vessels to be processed as food) at 0 mt. Based on the best available science, we are proposing to reduce the OFL for 2019 to 30,688 mt. The Herring FMP specifies that the OFL must be equal to catch resulting from applying the maximum fishing mortality threshold to a current or projected estimate of stock size. When the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, this is usually the fishing rate supporting maximum sustainable yield. Catch that exceeds this amount would result in overfishing. An OFL of 30,388 mt would ensure at least a 50-percent probability of preventing overfishing in 2019. This OFL is based on projections by the SAW/SARC, as updated by NOAA’s NEFSC staff using 2018 catch, and was recommended by both the SSC and the Council. The Herring FMP specifies that the ABC may be equal to or less than the OFL depending on scientific uncertainty concerning stock size estimates, variability around recruitment estimates, and consideration of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Jkt 247001 ecosystem issues. For the 2019 ABC reduction, we are proposing to continue applying the interim control rule that was used to set ABC in recent specifications (2016–2018). Our proposed ABC would have a 50-percent probability of preventing overfishing in 2019 and would be set equal to the OFL. In contrast, the SSC and Council recommended reducing the ABC for 2019 based on the new control rule the Council adopted in Amendment 8 that accounts for herring’s role in the ecosystem. Our proposed ABC is 30,688 mt and the SSC/Council recommended ABC is 21,266 mt. Our proposed ABC prevents overfishing and accounts for scientific uncertainty in the short-term until we are able to consider the Council’s recommendation for addressing scientific uncertainty in a long-term control rule in Amendment 8. The approach to continue using the interim control rule for 2019 is independent of and involves different considerations than our consideration of the Council’s recommended control rule in Amendment 8. We expect the Council to submit Amendment 8 to us for review and approval in late 2018. Additionally, while the 2018 assessment showed that the probability of the stock becoming overfished has increased since the last stock assessment, our proposed ABC is intended to reduce the risk of the stock becoming overfished. We are proposing to maintain the current management uncertainty buffer (6,200 mt), as recommended by the Council, so the resulting ACL would be 24,488 mt. This ACL is almost 10,000 mt higher than the ACL that would result from the Council-recommended ABC (15,065 mt). Allowing this additional harvest helps to achieve optimum yield (OY) by accounting for social, economic, and ecological factors, specifically the need to conserve herring biomass while mitigating severe economic hardship on the herring PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 industry. Because the majority of herring catch is bait for the lobster fishery, we expect this additional harvest to help minimize the negative economic impacts associated with bait shortages and higher bait prices on the lobster fishery. The management uncertainty buffer, in conjunction with low fishery closure thresholds (95 percent of the ACL and 92 percent of a sub-ACL), has prevented herring catch from ever exceeding the ABC, which further minimizes the probability of overfishing. We are proposing to maintain the subACL allocations used in the recent specifications (2016–2018) for 2019. This means that 28.9 percent of the ACL would be allocated to Area 1A, 4.3 percent allocated to Area 1B, 27.8 percent allocated to Area 2, and 39 percent allocated to Area 3. These subACL allocations were recommended by the Council for past specifications, as well as for 2019, because they do not substantially impact one stock component (inshore versus offshore) more than the other while maximizing opportunities for the fishery to achieve OY. Adjusting the sub-ACL allocations for the herring management area may have impacts beyond those we considered in this action. For that reason, we are seeking public comment on the proposed sub-ACL allocation versus other possible sub-ACL allocations that would be consistent with the Herring FMP’s objectives. Based on the Council’s recommendations, we are also proposing to reduce border transfer to 0 mt and reduce the fixed gear set-aside to 64 mt for 2019. Border transfer is a processing quota and is the maximum amount of herring that can be transshipped to Canada via Canadian carrier vessels for human consumption. Border transfer has been under-utilized in recent years, and there has been no border transfer since 2015. Reducing the border transfer to 0 mt for 2019 would E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 61596 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules ensure all herring caught in U.S. waters are available to U.S. Federal dealers for lobster bait or human consumption. Additionally, we are proposing that the fixed gear set-aside be reduced proportionally to the Area 1A sub-ACL to 64 mt. The Herring FMP allows up to 500 mt of the Area 1A sub-ACL to be allocated for the fixed gear fisheries in Area 1A (weirs and stop seines) that occur west of 67°16.8′ W long (Cutler, Maine). This set-aside is available for harvest by fixed gear within the specified area until November 1 of each fishing year. Any portion of this allocation that has not been harvested by November 1 is transferred back to the sub-ACL allocation for Area 1A. The proposed reduction of the fixed gear set aside is intended to allow additional herring harvest to be available to both fixed and mobile gears in Area 1A to help ensure OY is achieved. Like border transfer, the fixed gear set-aside has been under-utilized in recent years. Fixed gear landings tracked against the set-aside have averaged less than 12 mt in the past 5 years. The Herring FMP requires we adjust for catch overages and underages in a subsequent year. Total catch in 2017 did not reach or exceed any of the management area sub-ACLs, so typically we would carryover those underages, or a portion of the underages, to increase sub-ACLs in 2019. However, to help ensure catch does not exceed the ABC/ OFL in 2019 and to help prevent overfishing, we are proposing to not increase any sub-ACLs in 2019 based on carryover from underages in 2017. All other herring specifications for 2019, including the river herring and shad catch caps, would remain unchanged from 2018. While our proposed adjustments to the herring specifications in 2019 are generally consistent with the Council’s recommendations, our proposed ABC and the resulting ACL and sub-ACLs are not as conservative as those recommended by the Council. However, the specifications proposed in this action are expected to prevent overfishing and reduce the risk of the stock becoming overfished. We expect that implementing an ABC lower than the 30,688 mt ABC proposed in this action would not increase the probability of preventing overfishing or the stock from becoming overfished enough to outweigh the increased financial hardship on the herring and lobster fisheries. If herring specifications are too low, they may preclude a viable fishery in 2019 and some businesses may not be sustainable and may fail. Our proposed specifications for 2019 are intended to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Jkt 247001 balance preventing overfishing and maintaining a viable herring fishery to achieve OY, while we consider approval and implementation of a long-term ABC control rule in Amendment 8 to the Herring FMP. Herring Research Set-Aside Announcement We are soliciting public comment on the Herring Research Set-Aside (RSA) program awards for 2019–2021. The Herring RSA Program allocates up to 3 percent of each management area subACL annually, as established by the Council in Amendment 1 to the Herring FMP (72 FR 11251, March 12, 2007). Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) exempting vessels from certain herring management regulations have been routinely approved since 2007 to support compensation fishing that funds herring-related research consistent with RSA priorities identified by the Council. By continuing to issue these EFPs we would facilitate compensation fishing in support of the projects funded under the 2019 Herring RSA Program. Herring RSA proposals for 2019 are currently under review with the NEFSC, with selections expected in late November or early December of this year. RSA compensation fishing may be allowed as early as January 2019. Consistent with previous herring RSA compensation fishing EFPs, vessels would be authorized to harvest herring RSA after a herring management area sub-ACL had been caught and the directed herring fishery is limited to a 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) limit of herring per day/trip. It would also allow vessels to harvest RSA during times when the subACLs were not seasonally available for harvest, specifically during January through May in Area 1A and January through April in Area 1B. RSA grant recipients would be required to meet all EFP application requirements prior to the issuance of the EFPs. If approved, the EFP applicants may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be issued without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited. Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Herring FMP, national standards and other provisions PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and other applicable law. This proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations. NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) for this proposed rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic impact that this proposed rule would have on small entities, including small businesses, and also determines ways to minimize these impacts. The IRFA includes this section of the preamble to this rule and analyses contained in the SEA/RIR/IRFA for this action. A copy of the full analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered and Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed Rule This action proposes in-season adjustments to the herring specifications and sub-ACLs for 2019. A complete description of the reasons why this action is being considered, and the objectives of and legal basis for this action, are contained in the preamble to this proposed rule and are not repeated here. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which This Proposed Rule Would Apply The RFA recognizes three kinds of small entities: Small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions. For purposes of the RFA only, the small business criteria in the finfish fishing industry (NAICS 114111) is a firm that is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of operation, with gross annual receipts of $11 million or less. Small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions are not directly regulated by this action. There are five permit categories in the herring fishery: (1) Limited access permit for all management areas (Category A); (2) limited access permit for access to Areas 2 and 3 only (Category B); (3) limited access incidental catch permit for 25 mt per trip (Category C); (4) an open access incidental catch permit for 3 mt per trip (Category D); and (5) an open access permit for limited access mackerel permit holders authorizing up to 9 mt per trip (Category E) in Areas 2 and 3. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 61597 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules In 2017 there were a total of 1,566 permitted herring vessels. Of those, 1,434 were exclusively Category D vessels. Of the remaining 132 permitted herring vessels, 22 belonged to large businesses. Every Category B permit was also authorized for Category C, and all but one Category E permitted vessel also carried a Category D authorization. We included Category E vessels that also have Category D authorization in the analysis. Table 2 presents the counts of permitted vessels by category along with their affiliated entity’s small or large business status (the status of the company that holds the herring permit). TABLE 2—NUMBER OF HERRING PERMITS BY CATEGORY, 2015–2017 Number of herring permits Herring permit categories 2015 Large 2016 Small Large 2017 Small Large Small A ............................................................... B/C ........................................................... C (exclusive) ............................................ D (exclusive) ............................................ E ............................................................... 5 4 3 112 9 32 4 37 1222 39 5 4 3 115 9 30 4 37 1306 40 6 4 3 114 9 30 4 37 1320 39 Total .................................................. 133 1334 136 1417 136 1430 Source: NMFS. Table 3 refines the counts from Table 2 to include only those vessels that had revenue from herring at least once in the 3-year period of analysis. In 2017, there were 4 large businesses and 69 small that had revenue from herring. TABLE 3—NUMBER OF HERRING PERMITS WITH HERRING REVENUE, 2015–2017 Number of herring permits Herring permit categories 2015 Large 2016 Small Large 2017 Small Large Small A ............................................................... B/C ........................................................... C (exclusive) ............................................ D (exclusive) ............................................ E ............................................................... 4 0 0 0 0 20 2 11 27 4 4 0 0 0 0 19 2 9 29 1 4 0 0 0 0 19 3 12 31 4 Total .................................................. 4 64 4 60 4 69 Source: NMFS Finally, Table 4 defines the small entities affected by this proposed action—small businesses with a Herring Category A, B, C, or E permit and revenue from herring during the 2015– 2017 period of analysis. There were 37, 31, and 38 such vessels in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively. TABLE 4—AFFECTED SMALL ENTITIES, PERMITTED HERRING VESSELS WITH HERRING REVENUE, 2015–2017 Number of herring permits Herring permit categories 2015 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 Large 2016 Small Large 2017 Small Large Small A ............................................................... B/C ........................................................... C (exclusive) ............................................ E ............................................................... 4 0 0 0 20 2 11 4 4 0 0 0 19 2 9 1 4 0 0 0 19 3 12 4 Total .................................................. 4 37 4 31 4 38 Source: NMFS. To better understand the impact of this action on the affected small businesses, we compared the revenue from herring fishing to total revenue brought in by the entity (business) that holds the herring permit. The 17 to 18 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Jkt 247001 small entities with Category A permits show the most dependence on the herring fishery, with 49.75 percent to 62.03 percent of their revenue coming from herring landings. The 4 small Category E permitted entities have the PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 least dependence on the herring fishery with less than one percent of total entity revenue coming from the herring fishery. E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1 61598 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 231 / Friday, November 30, 2018 / Proposed Rules Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This proposed rule does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule This action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statues and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with PROPOSALS1 We are proposing to adjust the current herring specifications and sub-ACLs for 2019, consistent with the Herring FMP’s objectives of preventing overfishing while maximizing social and economic benefits. Non-preferred alternatives VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:23 Nov 29, 2018 Jkt 247001 would likely not accomplish these objectives for this action as well as the proposed action. Alternative 1 would not achieve the stated objectives of the action because it has a less than 50-percent probability of preventing overfishing in 2019 and, thus, is inconsistent the MagnusonStevens Act. Additionally, Alternative 1 would negatively impact the herring stock by increasing the probability that it would become overfished. The primary difference between Alternative 2 (Council-recommended) and Alternative 3 (proposed action) are the proposed specifications for ABC and the resulting ACL for 2019. The ABC associated with the proposed action (30,688 mt) is higher than the ABC associated with Alternative 2 (21,266 mt). After applying the management uncertainty buffer (6,200 mt) to the ABC, the resulting ACL associated with the proposed action (24,488 mt) is almost 10,000 mt higher than the ACL associated with the Alternative 2 (15,065 mt). PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 We expect that implementing an ABC lower than 30,688 mt in 2019 would not increase the probability of preventing overfishing or the stock from becoming overfished enough to outweigh the increased financial hardship on the herring and lobster fisheries. If the ACL is too low, it may preclude a viable fishery in 2019 and some businesses may not be sustainable and may fail. The proposed ABC for 2019 is intended to balance preventing overfishing and maintaining a viable herring fishery to achieve OY, while we consider approval and implementation of a long-term ABC control rule in Amendment 8 the Herring FMP. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 27, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2018–26097 Filed 11–29–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\30NOP1.SGM 30NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 231 (Friday, November 30, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61593-61598]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-26097]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 181031994-8999-01]
RIN 0648-XG608


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern 
United States; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic 
Herring Fishery; Adjustment to Atlantic Herring Specifications and Sub-
Annual Catch Limits for 2019

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

[[Page 61594]]


ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This action proposes an in-season adjustment to the Atlantic 
herring specifications and sub-annual catch limits for 2019. These 
adjustments are necessary to reduce 2018 herring catch limits that 
would otherwise remain in effect for 2019. This action is intended to 
prevent overfishing of the herring resource while minimizing negative 
social and economic impacts of reduced catch limits.

DATES: Public comments must be received by December 31, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2018-0131, 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-2018-0131, 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 Adjustments to Atlantic Herring 
Specifications for 2019.''
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by us. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Copies of this action, including the Supplemental Environmental 
Assessment and the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (SEA/RIR/IRFA) prepared in support of this action, 
are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England 
Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 
01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet 
at: https://www.regulations.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, 978-281-9272.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    We implemented 2016-2018 Atlantic herring specifications on 
November 1, 2016 (81 FR 75731), as recommended by the New England 
Fishery Management Council. The specifications included an overfishing 
limit (OFL) of 111,000 mt for 2018. The acceptable biological catch 
(ABC) for 2018 was also set at 111,000 mt. The ABC was based on the 
Council's interim control rule, set equal to the OFL with at least a 
50-percent probability of preventing overfishing, and consistent with 
the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee's (SSC) advice. The 
annual catch limit (ACL) for 2018 was 104,800 mt.
    In June 2018, a new Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop 
(SAW) for herring, reviewed by the Stock Assessment Review Committee 
(SARC), was completed. The assessment concluded that although herring 
was not overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2017, poor 
recruitment would likely result in a substantial decline in herring 
biomass. The stock assessment estimated that recruitment had been at 
historic lows during the most recent 5 years (2013-2017). The 
assessment projected that biomass could increase, after reaching a low 
in 2019, if recruitment returns to average levels, but that herring 
catch would need to be reduced, starting in 2018, to prevent 
overfishing and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished. The 
final assessment summary report is available on the Northeast Fisheries 
Science Center (NEFSC) website (www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/).
    The Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) allows us to 
make in-season adjustments to the herring specifications and sub-ACLs, 
after consultation with the Council, consistent with the Herring FMP's 
objectives and other FMP provisions. In August 2018, at the request of 
the Council, we used an in-season adjustment to reduce the 2018 ACL 
from 104,800 mt to 49,900 mt to reduce the risk of overfishing (83 FR 
42450, August 22, 2018). This ensured at least a 50-percent probability 
of preventing overfishing in 2018. However, assessment projections 
indicated that catch would need to be further reduced in 2019 to 
prevent overfishing and lower the risk of the stock becoming 
overfished.
    By regulation, herring catch limits for 2018, as modified by the 
2018 in-season adjustment, will remain in effect until replaced. At its 
September 2018 meeting, the Council adopted a new ABC control rule for 
the herring fishery developed in Amendment 8 to the Herring FMP and 
recommended we use an in-season adjustment to reduce 2018 herring catch 
limits for 2019 while it develops new specifications starting in 2020. 
The Council was scheduled to begin developing the 2019-2021 herring 
specifications at its September meeting and take final action on the 
new specifications at its December 2018 meeting. The Council planned 
for us to implement the new specifications during 2019, based on the 
new ABC control rule it adopted in Amendment 8. However, because of the 
time required for the Council to prepare the necessary documentation 
and for us to review and approve the control rule in Amendment 8 and 
implement final approved measures, the new specifications would not 
have been effective early enough to prevent catch from exceeding the 
lower catch limits required to prevent overfishing in 2019.

Proposed Adjustments to Herring Specifications

    We are proposing to adjust the current herring specifications and 
sub-ACLs for 2019, consistent with the Herring FMP's objectives of 
preventing overfishing while maximizing social and economic benefits. 
We will strive to publish the final rule as close as possible to the 
start of the new fishing year in January 2019. The 2019 specifications 
and sub-ACLs proposed in this action, as well as the Council's 
recommendations for 2019, are shown in Table 1.

                   Table 1--2019 Atlantic Herring Specification and Sub-ACL Alternatives (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Alternative 1--no     Alternative 2--council-  Alternative 3--proposed
                                                action                recommended                 action
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit....................  111,000................  30,688.................  30,688
Acceptable Biological Catch..........  111,000................  21,266.................  30,688
Management Uncertainty...............  6,200..................  6,200..................  6,200
Optimum Yield/ACL....................  49,900 *...............  15,065 *...............  24,488 *

[[Page 61595]]

 
Domestic Annual Harvest..............  104,800................  15,065.................  24,488
Border Transfer......................  4,000..................  0......................  0
Domestic Annual Processing...........  100,800................  15,065.................  24,488
U.S. At-Sea Processing...............  0......................  0......................  0
Area 1A Sub-ACL......................  27,743 * (55.6%).......  4,354 * (28.9%)........  7,077 * (28.9%)
Area 1B Sub-ACL......................  2,639 (5.3%)...........  647 (4.3%).............  1,053 (4.3%)
Area 2 Sub-ACL.......................  8,200 (16.4%)..........  4,188 (27.8%)..........  6,808 (27.8%)
Area 3 Sub-ACL.......................  11,318 (22.7%).........  5,876 (39%)............  9,550 (39%)
Fixed Gear Set-Aside.................  295....................  39.....................  64
Research Set-Aside...................  3% of sub-ACLs.........  3% of sub-ACLs.........  3% of sub-ACLs
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* If New Brunswick weir fishery catch through October 1 is less than 4,000 mt, then 1,000 mt will be subtracted
  from the management uncertainty buffer and added to the ACL and Area 1A Sub-ACL.

    We consulted with the Council on potential 2019 specifications 
during the Council's September 2018 meeting. At that meeting, the 
Council recommended that we:
     Use the most recent assessment and projections to develop 
the 2019 specifications.
     Use the ABC control rule approved by the Council in 
Amendment 8.
     Maintain the sub-annual catch limits for herring 
management areas based on the proportions allocated in the 2016-2018 
specifications package.
    [cir] Area 1A: 28.9 percent.
    [cir] Area 1B: 4.3 percent.
    [cir] Area 2: 27.8 percent.
    [cir] Area 3: 39 percent.
     Proportionally reduce the fixed gear set-aside allocation 
which is based on a small weir fishery west of Cutler, ME.
     Set the border transfer (which allows U.S. vessels to 
transfer herring to Canadian vessels to be processed as food) at 0 mt.
    Based on the best available science, we are proposing to reduce the 
OFL for 2019 to 30,688 mt. The Herring FMP specifies that the OFL must 
be equal to catch resulting from applying the maximum fishing mortality 
threshold to a current or projected estimate of stock size. When the 
stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, this is 
usually the fishing rate supporting maximum sustainable yield. Catch 
that exceeds this amount would result in overfishing. An OFL of 30,388 
mt would ensure at least a 50-percent probability of preventing 
overfishing in 2019. This OFL is based on projections by the SAW/SARC, 
as updated by NOAA's NEFSC staff using 2018 catch, and was recommended 
by both the SSC and the Council.
    The Herring FMP specifies that the ABC may be equal to or less than 
the OFL depending on scientific uncertainty concerning stock size 
estimates, variability around recruitment estimates, and consideration 
of ecosystem issues. For the 2019 ABC reduction, we are proposing to 
continue applying the interim control rule that was used to set ABC in 
recent specifications (2016-2018). Our proposed ABC would have a 50-
percent probability of preventing overfishing in 2019 and would be set 
equal to the OFL. In contrast, the SSC and Council recommended reducing 
the ABC for 2019 based on the new control rule the Council adopted in 
Amendment 8 that accounts for herring's role in the ecosystem. Our 
proposed ABC is 30,688 mt and the SSC/Council recommended ABC is 21,266 
mt.
    Our proposed ABC prevents overfishing and accounts for scientific 
uncertainty in the short-term until we are able to consider the 
Council's recommendation for addressing scientific uncertainty in a 
long-term control rule in Amendment 8. The approach to continue using 
the interim control rule for 2019 is independent of and involves 
different considerations than our consideration of the Council's 
recommended control rule in Amendment 8. We expect the Council to 
submit Amendment 8 to us for review and approval in late 2018. 
Additionally, while the 2018 assessment showed that the probability of 
the stock becoming overfished has increased since the last stock 
assessment, our proposed ABC is intended to reduce the risk of the 
stock becoming overfished.
    We are proposing to maintain the current management uncertainty 
buffer (6,200 mt), as recommended by the Council, so the resulting ACL 
would be 24,488 mt. This ACL is almost 10,000 mt higher than the ACL 
that would result from the Council-recommended ABC (15,065 mt). 
Allowing this additional harvest helps to achieve optimum yield (OY) by 
accounting for social, economic, and ecological factors, specifically 
the need to conserve herring biomass while mitigating severe economic 
hardship on the herring industry. Because the majority of herring catch 
is bait for the lobster fishery, we expect this additional harvest to 
help minimize the negative economic impacts associated with bait 
shortages and higher bait prices on the lobster fishery. The management 
uncertainty buffer, in conjunction with low fishery closure thresholds 
(95 percent of the ACL and 92 percent of a sub-ACL), has prevented 
herring catch from ever exceeding the ABC, which further minimizes the 
probability of overfishing.
    We are proposing to maintain the sub-ACL allocations used in the 
recent specifications (2016-2018) for 2019. This means that 28.9 
percent of the ACL would be allocated to Area 1A, 4.3 percent allocated 
to Area 1B, 27.8 percent allocated to Area 2, and 39 percent allocated 
to Area 3. These sub-ACL allocations were recommended by the Council 
for past specifications, as well as for 2019, because they do not 
substantially impact one stock component (inshore versus offshore) more 
than the other while maximizing opportunities for the fishery to 
achieve OY. Adjusting the sub-ACL allocations for the herring 
management area may have impacts beyond those we considered in this 
action. For that reason, we are seeking public comment on the proposed 
sub-ACL allocation versus other possible sub-ACL allocations that would 
be consistent with the Herring FMP's objectives.
    Based on the Council's recommendations, we are also proposing to 
reduce border transfer to 0 mt and reduce the fixed gear set-aside to 
64 mt for 2019. Border transfer is a processing quota and is the 
maximum amount of herring that can be transshipped to Canada via 
Canadian carrier vessels for human consumption. Border transfer has 
been under-utilized in recent years, and there has been no border 
transfer since 2015. Reducing the border transfer to 0 mt for 2019 
would

[[Page 61596]]

ensure all herring caught in U.S. waters are available to U.S. Federal 
dealers for lobster bait or human consumption. Additionally, we are 
proposing that the fixed gear set-aside be reduced proportionally to 
the Area 1A sub-ACL to 64 mt. The Herring FMP allows up to 500 mt of 
the Area 1A sub-ACL to be allocated for the fixed gear fisheries in 
Area 1A (weirs and stop seines) that occur west of 67[deg]16.8' W long 
(Cutler, Maine). This set-aside is available for harvest by fixed gear 
within the specified area until November 1 of each fishing year. Any 
portion of this allocation that has not been harvested by November 1 is 
transferred back to the sub-ACL allocation for Area 1A. The proposed 
reduction of the fixed gear set aside is intended to allow additional 
herring harvest to be available to both fixed and mobile gears in Area 
1A to help ensure OY is achieved. Like border transfer, the fixed gear 
set-aside has been under-utilized in recent years. Fixed gear landings 
tracked against the set-aside have averaged less than 12 mt in the past 
5 years.
    The Herring FMP requires we adjust for catch overages and underages 
in a subsequent year. Total catch in 2017 did not reach or exceed any 
of the management area sub-ACLs, so typically we would carryover those 
underages, or a portion of the underages, to increase sub-ACLs in 2019. 
However, to help ensure catch does not exceed the ABC/OFL in 2019 and 
to help prevent overfishing, we are proposing to not increase any sub-
ACLs in 2019 based on carryover from underages in 2017.
    All other herring specifications for 2019, including the river 
herring and shad catch caps, would remain unchanged from 2018. While 
our proposed adjustments to the herring specifications in 2019 are 
generally consistent with the Council's recommendations, our proposed 
ABC and the resulting ACL and sub-ACLs are not as conservative as those 
recommended by the Council. However, the specifications proposed in 
this action are expected to prevent overfishing and reduce the risk of 
the stock becoming overfished. We expect that implementing an ABC lower 
than the 30,688 mt ABC proposed in this action would not increase the 
probability of preventing overfishing or the stock from becoming 
overfished enough to outweigh the increased financial hardship on the 
herring and lobster fisheries. If herring specifications are too low, 
they may preclude a viable fishery in 2019 and some businesses may not 
be sustainable and may fail. Our proposed specifications for 2019 are 
intended to balance preventing overfishing and maintaining a viable 
herring fishery to achieve OY, while we consider approval and 
implementation of a long-term ABC control rule in Amendment 8 to the 
Herring FMP.

Herring Research Set-Aside Announcement

    We are soliciting public comment on the Herring Research Set-Aside 
(RSA) program awards for 2019-2021. The Herring RSA Program allocates 
up to 3 percent of each management area sub-ACL annually, as 
established by the Council in Amendment 1 to the Herring FMP (72 FR 
11251, March 12, 2007). Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) exempting 
vessels from certain herring management regulations have been routinely 
approved since 2007 to support compensation fishing that funds herring-
related research consistent with RSA priorities identified by the 
Council. By continuing to issue these EFPs we would facilitate 
compensation fishing in support of the projects funded under the 2019 
Herring RSA Program. Herring RSA proposals for 2019 are currently under 
review with the NEFSC, with selections expected in late November or 
early December of this year. RSA compensation fishing may be allowed as 
early as January 2019.
    Consistent with previous herring RSA compensation fishing EFPs, 
vessels would be authorized to harvest herring RSA after a herring 
management area sub-ACL had been caught and the directed herring 
fishery is limited to a 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) limit of herring per day/
trip. It would also allow vessels to harvest RSA during times when the 
sub-ACLs were not seasonally available for harvest, specifically during 
January through May in Area 1A and January through April in Area 1B. 
RSA grant recipients would be required to meet all EFP application 
requirements prior to the issuance of the EFPs.
    If approved, the EFP applicants may request minor modifications and 
extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and 
extensions may be issued without further notice if they are deemed 
essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have 
minimal impacts that do not change the scope of the initially approved 
EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the 
exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed 
rule is consistent with the Herring FMP, national standards and other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and other applicable law.
    This proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 
(E.O.) 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations.
    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) for 
this proposed rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603. The IRFA describes the economic 
impact that this proposed rule would have on small entities, including 
small businesses, and also determines ways to minimize these impacts. 
The IRFA includes this section of the preamble to this rule and 
analyses contained in the SEA/RIR/IRFA for this action. A copy of the 
full analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary 
of the IRFA follows.

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

    This action proposes in-season adjustments to the herring 
specifications and sub-ACLs for 2019. A complete description of the 
reasons why this action is being considered, and the objectives of and 
legal basis for this action, are contained in the preamble to this 
proposed rule and are not repeated here.

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

    The RFA recognizes three kinds of small entities: Small businesses, 
small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions. For purposes 
of the RFA only, the small business criteria in the finfish fishing 
industry (NAICS 114111) is a firm that is independently owned and 
operated and not dominant in its field of operation, with gross annual 
receipts of $11 million or less. Small organizations and small 
governmental jurisdictions are not directly regulated by this action.
    There are five permit categories in the herring fishery: (1) 
Limited access permit for all management areas (Category A); (2) 
limited access permit for access to Areas 2 and 3 only (Category B); 
(3) limited access incidental catch permit for 25 mt per trip (Category 
C); (4) an open access incidental catch permit for 3 mt per trip 
(Category D); and (5) an open access permit for limited access mackerel 
permit holders authorizing up to 9 mt per trip (Category E) in Areas 2 
and 3.

[[Page 61597]]

    In 2017 there were a total of 1,566 permitted herring vessels. Of 
those, 1,434 were exclusively Category D vessels. Of the remaining 132 
permitted herring vessels, 22 belonged to large businesses. Every 
Category B permit was also authorized for Category C, and all but one 
Category E permitted vessel also carried a Category D authorization. We 
included Category E vessels that also have Category D authorization in 
the analysis. Table 2 presents the counts of permitted vessels by 
category along with their affiliated entity's small or large business 
status (the status of the company that holds the herring permit).

                                                Table 2--Number of Herring Permits by Category, 2015-2017
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Number of herring permits
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Herring permit categories                              2015                            2016                            2017
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Large           Small           Large           Small           Large           Small
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.......................................................               5              32               5              30               6              30
B/C.....................................................               4               4               4               4               4               4
C (exclusive)...........................................               3              37               3              37               3              37
D (exclusive)...........................................             112            1222             115            1306             114            1320
E.......................................................               9              39               9              40               9              39
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................             133            1334             136            1417             136            1430
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: NMFS.

    Table 3 refines the counts from Table 2 to include only those 
vessels that had revenue from herring at least once in the 3-year 
period of analysis. In 2017, there were 4 large businesses and 69 small 
that had revenue from herring.

                                           Table 3--Number of Herring Permits With Herring Revenue, 2015-2017
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Number of herring permits
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Herring permit categories                              2015                            2016                            2017
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Large           Small           Large           Small           Large           Small
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.......................................................               4              20               4              19               4              19
B/C.....................................................               0               2               0               2               0               3
C (exclusive)...........................................               0              11               0               9               0              12
D (exclusive)...........................................               0              27               0              29               0              31
E.......................................................               0               4               0               1               0               4
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................               4              64               4              60               4              69
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: NMFS

    Finally, Table 4 defines the small entities affected by this 
proposed action--small businesses with a Herring Category A, B, C, or E 
permit and revenue from herring during the 2015-2017 period of 
analysis. There were 37, 31, and 38 such vessels in 2015, 2016, and 
2017 respectively.

                               Table 4--Affected Small Entities, Permitted Herring Vessels With Herring Revenue, 2015-2017
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Number of herring permits
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Herring permit categories                              2015                            2016                            2017
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Large           Small           Large           Small           Large           Small
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A.......................................................               4              20               4              19               4              19
B/C.....................................................               0               2               0               2               0               3
C (exclusive)...........................................               0              11               0               9               0              12
E.......................................................               0               4               0               1               0               4
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................               4              37               4              31               4              38
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: NMFS.

    To better understand the impact of this action on the affected 
small businesses, we compared the revenue from herring fishing to total 
revenue brought in by the entity (business) that holds the herring 
permit. The 17 to 18 small entities with Category A permits show the 
most dependence on the herring fishery, with 49.75 percent to 62.03 
percent of their revenue coming from herring landings. The 4 small 
Category E permitted entities have the least dependence on the herring 
fishery with less than one percent of total entity revenue coming from 
the herring fishery.

[[Page 61598]]

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This proposed rule does not introduce any new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements.

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

    This action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other 
Federal rules.

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

    We are proposing to adjust the current herring specifications and 
sub-ACLs for 2019, consistent with the Herring FMP's objectives of 
preventing overfishing while maximizing social and economic benefits. 
Non-preferred alternatives would likely not accomplish these objectives 
for this action as well as the proposed action.
    Alternative 1 would not achieve the stated objectives of the action 
because it has a less than 50-percent probability of preventing 
overfishing in 2019 and, thus, is inconsistent the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. Additionally, Alternative 1 would negatively impact the herring 
stock by increasing the probability that it would become overfished. 
The primary difference between Alternative 2 (Council-recommended) and 
Alternative 3 (proposed action) are the proposed specifications for ABC 
and the resulting ACL for 2019. The ABC associated with the proposed 
action (30,688 mt) is higher than the ABC associated with Alternative 2 
(21,266 mt). After applying the management uncertainty buffer (6,200 
mt) to the ABC, the resulting ACL associated with the proposed action 
(24,488 mt) is almost 10,000 mt higher than the ACL associated with the 
Alternative 2 (15,065 mt).
    We expect that implementing an ABC lower than 30,688 mt in 2019 
would not increase the probability of preventing overfishing or the 
stock from becoming overfished enough to outweigh the increased 
financial hardship on the herring and lobster fisheries. If the ACL is 
too low, it may preclude a viable fishery in 2019 and some businesses 
may not be sustainable and may fail. The proposed ABC for 2019 is 
intended to balance preventing overfishing and maintaining a viable 
herring fishery to achieve OY, while we consider approval and 
implementation of a long-term ABC control rule in Amendment 8 the 
Herring FMP.

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

    Dated: November 27, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-26097 Filed 11-29-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P