Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits, 4442 [2019-02522]

Download as PDF 4442 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Notices Authority: The requested permits have been issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222–226), as applicable. Dated: February 12, 2019. Julia Marie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02486 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG786 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: The Acting Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an exempted fishing permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. This permit would allow Coonamessett Farm Foundation to test the selectivity of alternate gillnet configurations to target haddock while reducing catch of other groundfish species. Regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed exempted fishing permits. DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 4, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by any of the following methods: • Email: NMFS.GAR.EFP@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line ‘‘Comments on Testing Selectivity and Raised Webbing Gillnets on Target and NonTarget Species in the Northeast Haddock Fishery.’’ khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:41 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 • Mail: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on Testing Selectivity of Alternative Gillnet Configurations in the Northeast Haddock Fishery.’’ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Molton, Fishery Management Specialist, 978–281–9236, Kyle.Molton@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) submitted a complete application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) on November 7, 2018, to conduct commercial fishing activities that the regulations would otherwise restrict. The application is a renewal of an EFP originally issued in December 2017. The EFP would authorize five vessels to test alternative gillnet configurations for haddock and to temporarily retain undersized catch for measurement and data collection. The applicant has requested exemptions from minimum mesh size regulations at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(4)(iv) and § 648.8(b)(2)(iv), and the prohibition on possessing groundfish below the minimum size § 648.83(a). These exemptions are necessary because vessels on commercial groundfish trips are prohibited from using gillnets with mesh size less than 6.5 inches (16.51 cm) and from retaining undersized groundfish. The applicant is also requesting a new exemption from the Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish Closure at § 648.81(c)(3), which we do not intend to approve, as further described below. The project titled ‘‘Testing Selectivity and Raised Webbing Gillnets on Target and Non-Target Species in the Northeast Haddock Fishery’’ would continue to be conducted by CFF. The study would take place on Georges Bank and in southern New England from February 2019 through August 2019, with the five participating vessels fishing no more than 19 trips. Vessels would fish a maximum of 32 gillnets, each 300 feet (91.44 m) long, in strings made up of 4 nets each. Two of the nets in each fournet string would use standard 6.5-inch (16.51-cm) mesh and two would be 6.0inch (15.24-cm) mesh. One net of each mesh size in each string would be rigged with a 30-inch (76.2-cm) raised webbing section along the bottom. Two to three hauls of the nets are expected during each day at sea with an average soak time of 6 hours for each set. A CFF researcher or technician would accompany all trips that occur under this EFP to identify all fish caught, as well as measure and weigh catch. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Undersized fish would be discarded as quickly as possible after sampling. All Northeast multispecies of legal size would be landed, and all catch (including discards) would be attributed to the vessel’s sector annual catch entitlement, consistent with standard catch accounting procedures. We do not intend to approve the applicant’s request to allow access to the seasonal Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish Closure because of potential negative impacts to spawning groundfish. CFF requested access to the area because it is an area identified to have a high abundance of haddock during the closure period. CFF states that having access to this area would allow for a higher likelihood of achieving statistically significant results. CFF further stated in their application that impacts to the resource from access would be reduced because the gear being tested is hypothesized to reduce bycatch of demersal species, including cod. Despite these considerations, we are concerned that, if access were granted, disruption of spawning activity and significant catch of spawning fish could lead to negative groundfish impacts and undermine the benefits this newly approved closure is intended to provide. Studies have shown that gillnet fishing activity can disrupt groundfish spawning behavior and could reduce the reproductive success of spawning aggregations. Further, we are concerned that the condition and behavior of spawning fish may influence their selectivity in gillnet gear. Because of the significant biomass of haddock on Georges Bank, and the relatively small area and season of the closure, access to the closure is not necessary to test the viability of alternative gillnet configurations targeting haddock on Georges Bank. If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted 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 or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 12, 2019. Karen H. Abrams, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02522 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15FEN1.SGM 15FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 32 (Friday, February 15, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Page 4442]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02522]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG786


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic 
Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The Acting Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable 
Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary 
determination that an exempted fishing permit application contains all 
of the required information and warrants further consideration. This 
permit would allow Coonamessett Farm Foundation to test the selectivity 
of alternate gillnet configurations to target haddock while reducing 
catch of other groundfish species.
    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act require publication of this notification to provide 
interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for 
proposed exempted fishing permits.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 4, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by any of the following 
methods:
     Email: NMFS.GAR.EFP@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line 
``Comments on Testing Selectivity and Raised Webbing Gillnets on Target 
and Non-Target Species in the Northeast Haddock Fishery.''
     Mail: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NMFS, 
Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on 
Testing Selectivity of Alternative Gillnet Configurations in the 
Northeast Haddock Fishery.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Molton, Fishery Management 
Specialist, 978-281-9236, Kyle.Molton@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) submitted 
a complete application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) on November 
7, 2018, to conduct commercial fishing activities that the regulations 
would otherwise restrict. The application is a renewal of an EFP 
originally issued in December 2017. The EFP would authorize five 
vessels to test alternative gillnet configurations for haddock and to 
temporarily retain undersized catch for measurement and data 
collection. The applicant has requested exemptions from minimum mesh 
size regulations at 50 CFR 648.80(a)(4)(iv) and Sec.  648.8(b)(2)(iv), 
and the prohibition on possessing groundfish below the minimum size 
Sec.  648.83(a). These exemptions are necessary because vessels on 
commercial groundfish trips are prohibited from using gillnets with 
mesh size less than 6.5 inches (16.51 cm) and from retaining undersized 
groundfish. The applicant is also requesting a new exemption from the 
Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish Closure at Sec.  
648.81(c)(3), which we do not intend to approve, as further described 
below.
    The project titled ``Testing Selectivity and Raised Webbing 
Gillnets on Target and Non-Target Species in the Northeast Haddock 
Fishery'' would continue to be conducted by CFF. The study would take 
place on Georges Bank and in southern New England from February 2019 
through August 2019, with the five participating vessels fishing no 
more than 19 trips. Vessels would fish a maximum of 32 gillnets, each 
300 feet (91.44 m) long, in strings made up of 4 nets each. Two of the 
nets in each four-net string would use standard 6.5-inch (16.51-cm) 
mesh and two would be 6.0-inch (15.24-cm) mesh. One net of each mesh 
size in each string would be rigged with a 30-inch (76.2-cm) raised 
webbing section along the bottom. Two to three hauls of the nets are 
expected during each day at sea with an average soak time of 6 hours 
for each set.
    A CFF researcher or technician would accompany all trips that occur 
under this EFP to identify all fish caught, as well as measure and 
weigh catch. Undersized fish would be discarded as quickly as possible 
after sampling. All Northeast multispecies of legal size would be 
landed, and all catch (including discards) would be attributed to the 
vessel's sector annual catch entitlement, consistent with standard 
catch accounting procedures.
    We do not intend to approve the applicant's request to allow access 
to the seasonal Closed Area I North Georges Bank Spawning Groundfish 
Closure because of potential negative impacts to spawning groundfish. 
CFF requested access to the area because it is an area identified to 
have a high abundance of haddock during the closure period. CFF states 
that having access to this area would allow for a higher likelihood of 
achieving statistically significant results. CFF further stated in 
their application that impacts to the resource from access would be 
reduced because the gear being tested is hypothesized to reduce bycatch 
of demersal species, including cod. Despite these considerations, we 
are concerned that, if access were granted, disruption of spawning 
activity and significant catch of spawning fish could lead to negative 
groundfish impacts and undermine the benefits this newly approved 
closure is intended to provide. Studies have shown that gillnet fishing 
activity can disrupt groundfish spawning behavior and could reduce the 
reproductive success of spawning aggregations. Further, we are 
concerned that the condition and behavior of spawning fish may 
influence their selectivity in gillnet gear. Because of the significant 
biomass of haddock on Georges Bank, and the relatively small area and 
season of the closure, access to the closure is not necessary to test 
the viability of alternative gillnet configurations targeting haddock 
on Georges Bank.
    If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and 
extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and 
extensions may be granted 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 or impact of the initially 
approved EFP request.

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

    Dated: February 12, 2019.
Karen H. Abrams,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-02522 Filed 2-14-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P