Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Complex; Framework Adjustment 6; Revised 2018-2019 Specifications, 4373-4376 [2019-02382]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations authority to exceed the five offeror maximum when the contracting officer’s decision is approved by the head of the contracting activity, delegable to a level no lower than the senior contracting official within the contracting activity, when the solicitation is for a contract that exceeds $4 million. The rule also provides that the number of offerors is at the contracting officer’s discretion when the solicitation is for a contract that does not exceed $4 million. There were no significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the initial regulatory flexibility analysis. Based on FY 2017 data from the Federal Procurement Data System, DoD issued approximately 499 new awards for construction exceeding $4 million to 396 unique businesses, to include IDIQ contracts, purchase orders, and orders under basic ordering agreements. Of the 499 new awards for construction, approximately 305 awards (approximately 61 percent) were made to 252 unique small entities (approximately 64 percent). This estimate is based on the assumption that contracts for design-build are coded as ‘‘construction’’ in FPDS, in which case a smaller number of small entities are actually impacted by the opportunity to exceed to the five offeror maximum for contracts valued in excess of $4 million. For contracts valued at or below $4 million, the FAR already provides an opportunity for contracting officers to determine that a greater number of offerors is in the Government’s interest and is consistent with the purposes and objectives of the two-phase design-build selection procedures. No significant impact is expected to result from authorizing contracting officers to exceed the maximum number at their own discretion. This final rule does not include any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements for small entities. There are no known significant alternative approaches to the final rule that would meet the requirements of the applicable statute. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES VI. Paperwork Reduction Act The rule does not contain any information collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 236 Government procurement. Jennifer Lee Hawes, Regulatory Control Officer, Defense Acquisition Regulations System. Therefore, 48 CFR part 236 is amended as follows: PART 236—CONSTRUCTION AND ARCHITECT–ENGINEER CONTRACTS 1. The authority citation for part 236 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 41 U.S.C. 1303 and 48 CFR chapter 1. 2. Add subpart 236.3, consisting of 236.303–1, to read as follows: ■ SUBPART 236.3—TWO–PHASE DESIGN–BUILD SELECTION PROCEDURES 236.303–1 Phase One. (a)(4) In lieu of the limitations on the maximum number of offerors that may be selected to submit phase-two proposals at FAR 36.303–1(a)(4), for DoD— (i) If the contract value exceeds $4 million, the maximum number of offerors specified in the solicitation that are to be selected to submit phase-two proposals shall not exceed five, unless— (A) The solicitation is issued for an indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract for design-build construction; or (B) The head of the contracting activity, delegable to a level no lower than the senior contracting official within the contracting activity, approves the contracting officer’s decision with respect to an individual solicitation, that a maximum number greater than five is in the best interest of the Government and is consistent with the purposes and objectives of the twophase selection procedures. The decision shall be documented in the contract file (10 U.S.C 2305a(d)). (ii) If the contract value is at or below $4 million, the maximum number of offerors specified in the solicitation that are to be selected to submit phase-two proposals is at the discretion of the contracting officer. [FR Doc. 2019–02526 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 180702599–9068–02] RIN 0648–BI03 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate Complex; Framework Adjustment 6; Revised 2018–2019 Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS approves and implements measures submitted by the New England Fishery Management Council in Framework Adjustment 6 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan and revises the 2018– 2019 skate fishery specifications. This action is necessary to allow the skate wing total allowable landings to be achieved while minimizing the need to restrict fishing operations through incidental possession limits. This action intends to extend the directed fishing time for both the skate wing and bait fisheries. SUMMARY: Effective on February 15, 2019. The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for Northeast Skate Complex Framework Adjustment 6 that describes the action and other considered alternatives. The EA provides an analysis of the biological, economic, and social impacts of the proposed measures and other considered alternatives, a Regulatory Impact Review, and economic analysis. Copies of the Framework 6 EA are available on request from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. This document is also available from the following internet addresses: http:// www.nefmc.org. DATES: ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9244. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The New England Fishery Management Council’s Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) manages a complex of seven skate species (barndoor, clearnose, little, BILLING CODE 5001–06–P PO 00000 4373 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1 4374 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations rosette, smooth, thorny, and winter skate) off the New England and midAtlantic coasts. Skates are harvested and managed in two different fisheries: One for food (the wing fishery) and one for lobster and crab bait (the bait fishery). The fishing year for skates is from May 1 to April 30. The directed wing fishery is managed using possession limits in two separate seasons. The bait fishery has possession limits in three separate seasons (Table 1). When catch approaches the seasonal total allowable landings (TAL), a lower, more restrictive incidental possession and landing limit is implemented to slow harvest and help ensure that seasonal quotas are not exceeded. TABLE 1—POSSESSION LIMITS PER TRIP FOR FISHING YEARS 2018–2019 Trip limits Skate possession limits * Skate wings Whole skates Barndoor ** skate wings Whole barndoor ** skates Season 1 (May 1–August 31) 2,600 lb, 1,179 kg ...... 5,902 lb, 2,677 kg ...... 650 lb,295 kg .............. 1,476 lb,670 kg. Season 2 (September 1–April 30). May 1–April 30 ........................ May 1–April 30 ........................ May 1–October 31 .................. 4,100 lb,1,860kg ......... 9,307 lb,4,222 kg ........ 1,025 lb,465 kg ........... 2,327 lb,1,056 kg. 220 lb,100 kg .............. 500 lb,227 kg .............. 0 .................................. 500 lb,227 kg .............. 1,135 lb,515 kg ........... 25,000 lb,11,340 kg .... 0 .................................. 0 .................................. 0 .................................. 0. 0. 0. November 1–April 30 .............. 0 .................................. 12,000 lb,5,443 kg ...... 0 .................................. 0. . Northeast (NE) Multispecies, Scallop, or Monkfish Day-AtSea (DAS). NE Multispecies B DAS .......... Non-DAS ................................. Whole skate with bait Letter of Authorization. * Possession limits may be modified in-season in order to prevent catch from exceeding quotas. ** Barndoor skate trip limits are within the overall skate possession limit for each trip, not in addition to it. In recent years, a combination of lower overall catch limits and strong fishery participation has caused the incidental limits in both the wing and bait fisheries to be put into effect with several months remaining in the fishing year. To address this issue for the bait fishery, the Council developed and NMFS implemented Framework 4 in March 2018 to better control the catch of skate bait throughout the fishing year (83 FR 6133; February 13, 2018). Similarly, the Council developed Framework 6 to adjust measures to extend the directed skate wing fishing year and reduce negative impacts when skate wing incidental limits are triggered. The Council took final action on Framework 6 at its June 2018 meeting. On November 27, 2018, we proposed management modifications to implement Framework Adjustment 6 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan and revise the 2018– 2019 specifications (83 FR 60818). khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Final Measures This action adjusts the management uncertainty buffer between the annual catch limit (ACL) and annual catch target (ACT) in the skate FMP. The current uncertainty buffer between the ACL and ACT is 25 percent (i.e., ACT = 75 percent of ACL). This action reduces this buffer to 10 percent, resulting in an increase in the TALs for both the wing and bait fisheries. Council analysis indicates that this revised buffer will likely delay the need to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 implement the restrictive incidental limit of 500 lb (227 kg) in the wing fishery until later this spring. For the bait fishery, this buffer reduction is expected to delay enacting the incidental limits until around March. The analyses within Framework 6 indicate that the level of management uncertainty within the skate fishery has likely reduced since the implementation of the ACL operational framework in 2010. For example, management controls put in place have been effective at constraining catch; species identification and catch accounting has improved; ACLs have not been exceeded, and only minor overages of fishery TALs have occurred. This action also makes an administrative change to the accountability measures regulation to be consistent with the uncertainty buffer changes. Revised 2018–2019 Specifications The modification to the management uncertainty buffer results in adjustments to the 2018–2019 specifications implemented through Framework 5 (83 FR 48985; September 28, 2018). As a result, this action implements the following revised 2018–2019 specifications (Table 2): 1. The acceptable biological catch (ABC) and ACL remains at 31,327 mt. 2. An ACT of 28,194 mt (90 percent of the ACL). 3. A TAL of the 15,788 mt for the entire skate fishery. PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 4. A TAL of 10,499 mt for the wing fishery that is divided in two seasons according to the current regulations at 50 CFR 648.322. In season 1 (May 1– August 31) the TAL will be 5,984 mt (57 percent), and the remainder of the TAL allocated to Season 2 (September 1– April 30). As the 2018 fishing year started on May 1, the wing TALs will be retroactively increased. The regulations for the skate fishery allow for unused wing TAL from Season 1 to be rolledover to Season 2. NMFS estimates that 4,490 mt of wings were landed in Season 1, and therefore 1,494 mt can be rolled over to Season 2 in 2018. Given this, the Season 2 wing TAL in 2018 will be approximately 6,009 mt. 5. A TAL of 5,289 mt for the bait fishery that is divided into three seasons according to the current regulations at § 648.322. In Season 1 (May 1–July 31) the TAL is 1,629 mt (30.8 percent); in Season 2 (August 1–October 31) the TAL is 1,962 mt (37.1 percent), and the remainder (1,698 mt) is allocated to Season 3 (November 1–April 30). As the 2018 fishing year started on May 1, the bait TALs will be retroactively increased. The regulations for the skate fishery allow for the unused bait TAL from Seasons 1 and 2 to be rolled-over to Season 3. Therefore, NMFS will adjust the 2018 Season 3 bait TAL accordingly. The 2018 Season 3 bait TAL will increase by 1,062 mt, resulting in a final season 3 TAL of 2,760 mt. E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1 4375 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 2—COMPARISON OF THE FRAMEWORK 5 2018–2019 SPECIFICATIONS TO THE REVISED FRAMEWORK 6 2018–2019 VALUES [mt] Previous ABC = ACL .............................................................................................................................................................. ACT .......................................................................................................................................................................... Wing Fishery TAL .................................................................................................................................................... Bait Fishery TAL ...................................................................................................................................................... khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES The Council reviewed the Framework 6 regulations and deemed them necessary and appropriate to implement consistent with section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act. Comments and Responses We received nine public comments on the proposed rule, which we have merged into three comments below. Comment 1: The Sustainable Fisheries Association (SFA), the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, and one member of the public offered support for this action. The SFA also requested that this final rule be implemented as soon as possible to avoid an unnecessary closure of the directed wing fishery based on the TALs implemented through Framework 5. Response: NMFS agrees and is implementing this rule as soon as possible. Comment 2: Four individuals and Shark Advocates International were not supportive of the reduction in the uncertainty buffer due to concerns over declining skate populations and inadequate fisheries data. Response: Based on the most recent assessment information, NMFS disagrees that the skate species are depleted. With the exception of thorny skate, the seven other skate species that make up the skate complex are not overfished or experiencing overfishing. Thorny skates are overfished, but overfishing is not occurring and retention and landing of thorny skates is prohibited. This action is based on the best available information and takes into account the status of these stocks when determining appropriate management buffers and specifications. The Council’s analysis for Framework 6 indicated that several sources of management uncertainty outlined in the 2010 action that established the 75percent buffer have been improved such that revising the buffer is appropriate. The Council may adjust the management uncertainty buffer in a future action if it is determined that the buffer should be increased to respond to changes in available data or skate stock status. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 Comment 3: We received one additional letter from the New London Seafood Distributors that made no comment on the proposed measures, but requested that additional measures be considered. Specifically, the organization is interested in adjusting seasonal possession limits and allowing for a higher proportion of the TAL in Season 3. Response: These suggestions are outside the scope of this action but the Council may consider this information in a future action. New specifications for fishing years 2020–2022 are expected to be developed by the Council in 2019. Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes to the measures from the proposed rule. Classification The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that Framework 6 is necessary for the conservation and management of the northeast skate complex and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable law. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that because this rule relieves restrictions (i.e., increases the total allowable landings available to the wing and bait fisheries to allow the fisheries to continue uninterrupted), it is excepted from the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 533(d)(1). During the partial government shutdown that began on December 21, 2018, the wing fishery reached 91 percent of its current 2018 TAL, which is above the 85-percent threshold for implementing the incidental possession limit that would essentially close the directed wing fishery by reducing the possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg). Because this action will increase the 2018–2019 TAL by 20 percent, the possession limit threshold would be extended to later in the fishing year. If the 30-day delay of effectiveness is not waived, unnecessarily restrictive incidental limits will need to be implemented and be in effect longer, putting some vessels at a disadvantage. PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Revised 31,327 23,495 8,749 4,408 31,327 28,194 10,499 5,289 This would be contrary to the public interest because it would undermine the intent of this rule to extend the directed fishing time for both the skate wing and bait fisheries. As a result, NMFS is waiving the requirement. This final 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 during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: February 11, 2019. 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 amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.320, paragraph (a)(4) is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.320 Skate FMP review and monitoring. (a) * * * (4) Based on the annual review described above and/or the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report described in paragraph (b) of this section, recommendations for acceptable biological catch (ABC) from the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and any other relevant information, the E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1 4376 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Skate PDT shall recommend to the Skate Committee and Council the following annual specifications for harvest of skates: An annual catch limit (ACL) for the skate complex set less than or equal to ABC; an annual catch target (ACT) for the skate complex set less than or equal to 90 percent of the ACL; and total allowable landings (TAL) necessary to meet the objectives of the FMP in each fishing year (May 1–April 30), specified for a period of up to 2 fishing years. * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 3. In § 648.323, revise the heading for paragraph (b) and paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows: ■ § 648.323 Accountability measures. * * * * * (b) ACL overages. (1) If the ACL is determined to have been exceeded in any given year, based upon, but not limited to, available landings and discard information, the percent buffer between ACL and ACT shall be increased by 1 percent for each 1- PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 percent ACL overage in the second fishing year following the fishing year in which the ACL overage occurred, through either the specifications or framework adjustment process described under §§ 648.320 and 648.321. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2019–02382 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 32 (Friday, February 15, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 4373-4376]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02382]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 180702599-9068-02]
RIN 0648-BI03


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate 
Complex; Framework Adjustment 6; Revised 2018-2019 Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS approves and implements measures submitted by the New 
England Fishery Management Council in Framework Adjustment 6 to the 
Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan and revises the 2018-
2019 skate fishery specifications. This action is necessary to allow 
the skate wing total allowable landings to be achieved while minimizing 
the need to restrict fishing operations through incidental possession 
limits. This action intends to extend the directed fishing time for 
both the skate wing and bait fisheries.

DATES: Effective on February 15, 2019.

ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) 
prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for Northeast Skate Complex 
Framework Adjustment 6 that describes the action and other considered 
alternatives. The EA provides an analysis of the biological, economic, 
and social impacts of the proposed measures and other considered 
alternatives, a Regulatory Impact Review, and economic analysis. Copies 
of the Framework 6 EA are available on request from Thomas A. Nies, 
Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water 
Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. This document is also available from the 
following internet addresses: http://www.nefmc.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9244.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The New England Fishery Management Council's Northeast Skate 
Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) manages a complex of seven skate 
species (barndoor, clearnose, little,

[[Page 4374]]

rosette, smooth, thorny, and winter skate) off the New England and mid-
Atlantic coasts. Skates are harvested and managed in two different 
fisheries: One for food (the wing fishery) and one for lobster and crab 
bait (the bait fishery).
    The fishing year for skates is from May 1 to April 30. The directed 
wing fishery is managed using possession limits in two separate 
seasons. The bait fishery has possession limits in three separate 
seasons (Table 1). When catch approaches the seasonal total allowable 
landings (TAL), a lower, more restrictive incidental possession and 
landing limit is implemented to slow harvest and help ensure that 
seasonal quotas are not exceeded.

                                             Table 1--Possession Limits per Trip for Fishing Years 2018-2019
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                        Trip limits
    Skate possession limits *    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Skate wings                  Whole skates             Barndoor ** skate wings      Whole barndoor ** skates
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Northeast (NE) Multispecies,   Season 1 (May 1-  2,600 lb, 1,179 kg.......  5,902 lb, 2,677 kg......  650 lb,295 kg...........  1,476 lb,670 kg.
 Scallop, or Monkfish Day-At-   August 31).
 Sea (DAS).
                               Season 2          4,100 lb,1,860kg.........  9,307 lb,4,222 kg.......  1,025 lb,465 kg.........  2,327 lb,1,056 kg.
                                (September 1-
                                April 30).
NE Multispecies B DAS........  May 1-April 30..  220 lb,100 kg............  500 lb,227 kg...........  0.......................  0.
Non-DAS......................  May 1-April 30..  500 lb,227 kg............  1,135 lb,515 kg.........  0.......................  0.
Whole skate with bait Letter   May 1-October 31  0........................  25,000 lb,11,340 kg.....  0.......................  0.
 of Authorization.
                               November 1-April  0........................  12,000 lb,5,443 kg......  0.......................  0.
                                30.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Possession limits may be modified in-season in order to prevent catch from exceeding quotas.
** Barndoor skate trip limits are within the overall skate possession limit for each trip, not in addition to it.

    In recent years, a combination of lower overall catch limits and 
strong fishery participation has caused the incidental limits in both 
the wing and bait fisheries to be put into effect with several months 
remaining in the fishing year. To address this issue for the bait 
fishery, the Council developed and NMFS implemented Framework 4 in 
March 2018 to better control the catch of skate bait throughout the 
fishing year (83 FR 6133; February 13, 2018). Similarly, the Council 
developed Framework 6 to adjust measures to extend the directed skate 
wing fishing year and reduce negative impacts when skate wing 
incidental limits are triggered. The Council took final action on 
Framework 6 at its June 2018 meeting. On November 27, 2018, we proposed 
management modifications to implement Framework Adjustment 6 to the 
Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan and revise the 2018-
2019 specifications (83 FR 60818).

Final Measures

    This action adjusts the management uncertainty buffer between the 
annual catch limit (ACL) and annual catch target (ACT) in the skate 
FMP. The current uncertainty buffer between the ACL and ACT is 25 
percent (i.e., ACT = 75 percent of ACL). This action reduces this 
buffer to 10 percent, resulting in an increase in the TALs for both the 
wing and bait fisheries. Council analysis indicates that this revised 
buffer will likely delay the need to implement the restrictive 
incidental limit of 500 lb (227 kg) in the wing fishery until later 
this spring. For the bait fishery, this buffer reduction is expected to 
delay enacting the incidental limits until around March. The analyses 
within Framework 6 indicate that the level of management uncertainty 
within the skate fishery has likely reduced since the implementation of 
the ACL operational framework in 2010. For example, management controls 
put in place have been effective at constraining catch; species 
identification and catch accounting has improved; ACLs have not been 
exceeded, and only minor overages of fishery TALs have occurred. This 
action also makes an administrative change to the accountability 
measures regulation to be consistent with the uncertainty buffer 
changes.

Revised 2018-2019 Specifications

    The modification to the management uncertainty buffer results in 
adjustments to the 2018-2019 specifications implemented through 
Framework 5 (83 FR 48985; September 28, 2018). As a result, this action 
implements the following revised 2018-2019 specifications (Table 2):
    1. The acceptable biological catch (ABC) and ACL remains at 31,327 
mt.
    2. An ACT of 28,194 mt (90 percent of the ACL).
    3. A TAL of the 15,788 mt for the entire skate fishery.
    4. A TAL of 10,499 mt for the wing fishery that is divided in two 
seasons according to the current regulations at 50 CFR 648.322. In 
season 1 (May 1-August 31) the TAL will be 5,984 mt (57 percent), and 
the remainder of the TAL allocated to Season 2 (September 1-April 30). 
As the 2018 fishing year started on May 1, the wing TALs will be 
retroactively increased. The regulations for the skate fishery allow 
for unused wing TAL from Season 1 to be rolled-over to Season 2. NMFS 
estimates that 4,490 mt of wings were landed in Season 1, and therefore 
1,494 mt can be rolled over to Season 2 in 2018. Given this, the Season 
2 wing TAL in 2018 will be approximately 6,009 mt.
    5. A TAL of 5,289 mt for the bait fishery that is divided into 
three seasons according to the current regulations at Sec.  648.322. In 
Season 1 (May 1-July 31) the TAL is 1,629 mt (30.8 percent); in Season 
2 (August 1-October 31) the TAL is 1,962 mt (37.1 percent), and the 
remainder (1,698 mt) is allocated to Season 3 (November 1-April 30). As 
the 2018 fishing year started on May 1, the bait TALs will be 
retroactively increased. The regulations for the skate fishery allow 
for the unused bait TAL from Seasons 1 and 2 to be rolled-over to 
Season 3. Therefore, NMFS will adjust the 2018 Season 3 bait TAL 
accordingly. The 2018 Season 3 bait TAL will increase by 1,062 mt, 
resulting in a final season 3 TAL of 2,760 mt.

[[Page 4375]]



 Table 2--Comparison of the Framework 5 2018-2019 Specifications to the
                  Revised Framework 6 2018-2019 Values
                                  [mt]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Previous         Revised
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC = ACL...............................          31,327          31,327
ACT.....................................          23,495          28,194
Wing Fishery TAL........................           8,749          10,499
Bait Fishery TAL........................           4,408           5,289
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Council reviewed the Framework 6 regulations and deemed them 
necessary and appropriate to implement consistent with section 303(c) 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act.

Comments and Responses

    We received nine public comments on the proposed rule, which we 
have merged into three comments below.
    Comment 1: The Sustainable Fisheries Association (SFA), the 
Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association, and one member of the 
public offered support for this action. The SFA also requested that 
this final rule be implemented as soon as possible to avoid an 
unnecessary closure of the directed wing fishery based on the TALs 
implemented through Framework 5.
    Response: NMFS agrees and is implementing this rule as soon as 
possible.
    Comment 2: Four individuals and Shark Advocates International were 
not supportive of the reduction in the uncertainty buffer due to 
concerns over declining skate populations and inadequate fisheries 
data.
    Response: Based on the most recent assessment information, NMFS 
disagrees that the skate species are depleted. With the exception of 
thorny skate, the seven other skate species that make up the skate 
complex are not overfished or experiencing overfishing. Thorny skates 
are overfished, but overfishing is not occurring and retention and 
landing of thorny skates is prohibited. This action is based on the 
best available information and takes into account the status of these 
stocks when determining appropriate management buffers and 
specifications. The Council's analysis for Framework 6 indicated that 
several sources of management uncertainty outlined in the 2010 action 
that established the 75-percent buffer have been improved such that 
revising the buffer is appropriate. The Council may adjust the 
management uncertainty buffer in a future action if it is determined 
that the buffer should be increased to respond to changes in available 
data or skate stock status.
    Comment 3: We received one additional letter from the New London 
Seafood Distributors that made no comment on the proposed measures, but 
requested that additional measures be considered. Specifically, the 
organization is interested in adjusting seasonal possession limits and 
allowing for a higher proportion of the TAL in Season 3.
    Response: These suggestions are outside the scope of this action 
but the Council may consider this information in a future action. New 
specifications for fishing years 2020-2022 are expected to be developed 
by the Council in 2019.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes to the measures from the proposed rule.

Classification

    The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, determined that 
Framework 6 is necessary for the conservation and management of the 
northeast skate complex and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable 
law.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that because 
this rule relieves restrictions (i.e., increases the total allowable 
landings available to the wing and bait fisheries to allow the 
fisheries to continue uninterrupted), it is excepted from the 30-day 
delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 533(d)(1). During the partial 
government shutdown that began on December 21, 2018, the wing fishery 
reached 91 percent of its current 2018 TAL, which is above the 85-
percent threshold for implementing the incidental possession limit that 
would essentially close the directed wing fishery by reducing the 
possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg). Because this action will increase 
the 2018-2019 TAL by 20 percent, the possession limit threshold would 
be extended to later in the fishing year. If the 30-day delay of 
effectiveness is not waived, unnecessarily restrictive incidental 
limits will need to be implemented and be in effect longer, putting 
some vessels at a disadvantage. This would be contrary to the public 
interest because it would undermine the intent of this rule to extend 
the directed fishing time for both the skate wing and bait fisheries. 
As a result, NMFS is waiving the requirement.
    This final 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 during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: February 11, 2019.
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 amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.320, paragraph (a)(4) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.320  Skate FMP review and monitoring.

    (a) * * *
    (4) Based on the annual review described above and/or the Stock 
Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report described in paragraph 
(b) of this section, recommendations for acceptable biological catch 
(ABC) from the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and any other 
relevant information, the

[[Page 4376]]

Skate PDT shall recommend to the Skate Committee and Council the 
following annual specifications for harvest of skates: An annual catch 
limit (ACL) for the skate complex set less than or equal to ABC; an 
annual catch target (ACT) for the skate complex set less than or equal 
to 90 percent of the ACL; and total allowable landings (TAL) necessary 
to meet the objectives of the FMP in each fishing year (May 1-April 
30), specified for a period of up to 2 fishing years.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.323, revise the heading for paragraph (b) and paragraph 
(b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.323  Accountability measures.

* * * * *
    (b) ACL overages. (1) If the ACL is determined to have been 
exceeded in any given year, based upon, but not limited to, available 
landings and discard information, the percent buffer between ACL and 
ACT shall be increased by 1 percent for each 1-percent ACL overage in 
the second fishing year following the fishing year in which the ACL 
overage occurred, through either the specifications or framework 
adjustment process described under Sec. Sec.  648.320 and 648.321.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2019-02382 Filed 2-14-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P