Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Spiny Dogfish Fishery; 2019 and Projected 2020-2021 Specifications, 21723-21726 [2019-09915]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 94 / Wednesday, May 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.45 29. The Order eliminates the obligation imposed on certain broadcasters to file a Broadcast MidTerm Report on employment practices. Eliminating this requirement is intended to modernize the Commission’s regulations and reduce costs and recordkeeping burdens for affected entities, including small entities. Under the prior rule, affected entities were required to expend time and resources gathering and filing consolidated information that is largely already otherwise supplied to the Commission. The Order will require radio stations uploading an EEO public file report to answer one ‘‘either/or’’ question about staffing in order to determine their eligibility for the statutorily mandated mid-term review of broadcast equal employment practices. In the aggregate, replacing Form 397 with this requirement to provide additional information in the OPIF constitutes a reduction in burdens, and is as minimal a burden as possible for all entities, including small entities. Thus, we anticipate that affected small entities only stand to benefit from these revisions. B. Paperwork Reduction Analysis 30. This document contains proposed new or revised information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104– 13 (44 U.S.C. 3501–3520). The requirements will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Section 3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies will be invited to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this proceeding. The Commission will publish a separate document in the Federal Register at a later date seeking these comments. In addition, we note that, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107–198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission previously sought specific comment on how it might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. 45 5 We have described impacts that might affect small businesses, which includes most businesses with fewer than 25 employees, in the FRFA. Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary. C. Congressional Review Act Final Rules 31. The Commission will send a copy of this Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A). III. Ordering Clauses 16:32 May 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 32. Accordingly, It is ordered that, pursuant to the authority found in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j) and 334 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 334 this Report and Order IS HEREBY ADOPTED. 33. It is further ordered that this Report and Order SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE on May 1, 2019, except for those provisions which contain nonsubstantive modifications to existing information collection requirements that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The nonsubstantive modifications WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE upon the effective date announced when the Commission publishes a notice in the Federal Register announcing such OMB approval and the effective date. 34. It is further ordered that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. 35. It is further ordered that the Commission SHALL SEND a copy of the Report and Order in a report to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA), see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A). 36. It is further ordered that, should no petitions for reconsideration or petitions for judicial review be timely filed, MB Docket No. 18–23 shall be TERMINATED, and its docket closed. List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73 Equal employment opportunity, Radio, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Television. PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 73 as follows: PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: ■ U.S.C. 603(c)(1)–(4). VerDate Sep<11>2014 21723 Sfmt 4700 Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 155, 301, 303, 307, 309, 310, 334, 336, and 339. 2. Amend § 73.2080 by revising paragraph (f)(2) to read as follows: ■ § 73.2080 Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO). * * * * * (f) * * * (2) The Commission will conduct a mid-term review of the employment practices of each broadcast television station that is part of an employment unit of five or more full-time employees and each radio station that is part of an employment unit of eleven or more fulltime employees, four years following the station’s most recent license expiration date as specified in § 73.1020. If a broadcast licensee acquires a station pursuant to FCC Form 314 or FCC Form 315 during the period that is to form the basis for the mid-term review, that review will cover the licensee’s EEO recruitment activity during the period starting with the date it acquired the station. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2019–09626 Filed 5–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 190207082–9433–02] RIN 0648–XG800 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Spiny Dogfish Fishery; 2019 and Projected 2020–2021 Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\15MYR1.SGM 15MYR1 21724 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 94 / Wednesday, May 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations NMFS issues final specifications for the 2019 spiny dogfish fishery, and projected specifications for fishing years 2020 and 2021. The specifications are necessary to establish allowable harvest levels and other management measures to prevent overfishing while allowing optimum yield, consistent with the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan. This rule is also intended to inform the public of these specifications for the 2019 fishing year and projected specifications for 2020 and 2021. DATES: Effective May 15, 2019 through April 30, 2020. ADDRESSES: Copies of these specifications, including the Environmental Assessment (EA), Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses, and other supporting documents for the action, are available upon request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. These documents are also accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org/ dogfish. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9180. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery is jointly managed in Federal waters by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils under the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), with the Mid-Atlantic Council serving as the administrative lead. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manages the fishery in state waters from Maine to North Carolina through an interstate fishery management plan. Regulations implementing the spiny dogfish FMP appear at 50 CFR part 648, subparts A and L, and require the specification of an annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), and the total allowable landings (TAL). These limits and other management measures may be set for up to five fishing years at a time, with each fishing year running from May 1 through April 30. This action implements spiny dogfish specifications for the 2019 fishing year, and announces projected specifications for 2020 and 2021, as recommended by the Councils. The proposed rule for this action published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2019 (84 FR 11923), and comments were accepted through April 15, 2019. Additional background information regarding the development of these specifications was provided in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. Final Specifications This action implements the final 2019 and projected 2020–2021 spiny dogfish specifications (Table 1) as described in the March 29, 2019, proposed rule. These specifications substantially reduce the coastwide commercial quota in 2019 to ensure overfishing does not occur. Quota increases are projected for 2020 and 2021 as the stock biomass is expected to increase and the risk of overfishing declines. The lower catch limits are not expected to have a substantial impact on industry, as the reduced coastwide quotas remain higher than total annual landings in recent years. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF FINAL 2019, AND PROJECTED 2020 AND 2021 SPINY DOGFISH FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS 2019 Metric tons Overfishing Limit ...................................... Acceptable Biological Catch .................... ACL = ACT .............................................. TAL ........................................................... Commercial Quota ................................... Percent Change in Quota from Previous Year ...................................................... All other fishery management measures, including the 6,000-lb (2,722kg) Federal trip limit, remain unchanged. Changes to the trip limit may be pursued in a future, separate rulemaking action. By providing projected quotas for 2019 and 2020, NMFS hopes to assist fishery participants in planning ahead. The Councils will review these specifications annually, and NMFS will provide notice prior to each fishing year to finalize specifications and related measures. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Comments and Responses The public comment period for the proposed rule ended on April 15, 2019. Five comments were received from the public on this rule during the 15-day comment period. No changes to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:32 May 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 2020 Pounds Metric tons 2021 Pounds Metric tons Pounds 21,549 12,914 12,865 9,390 9,309 47,507,413 28,470,497 28,362,470 20,701,000 20,522,832 N/A 14,126 14,077 10,602 10,521 N/A 31,142,499 31,034,473 23,373,409 23,194,835 N/A 16,043 15,994 12,519 12,438 N/A 35,368,761 35,260,734 27,599,671 27,421,096 ¥46 ¥46 +13 +13 +18 +18 proposed specifications were made as a result of these comments. Comment 1: One commenter requested that the spiny dogfish quota be reduced by 50 percent to prevent overfishing, claimed that widespread corruption and commercial profiteering was taking place across all fisheries, and asked that all trawl gear be banned. No rationale or evidence was presented to support the commenter’s claims. Response 1: This action does reduce the commercial spiny dogfish quota by 46 percent to prevent overfishing, which is almost the 50 percent requested by the commenter. Banning trawl gear is beyond the scope of outcomes contemplated in specifications. Comment 2: Another commenter alleged that the spiny dogfish quota should not be reduced because they prey on valuable groundfish. PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Response 2: This action manages the spiny dogfish fishery in terms of the target species’ stock health and availability. At this time, the FMP does not account for predation effects by spiny dogfish on other species. Comment 3: The commenter supported this action and the quota reduction, but was also concerned with inaccurate data from trawl fisheries, and effects on the recreational spiny dogfish fishery. Response 3: These specifications were developed using the best scientific information available, which includes fishery independent trawl surveys. These surveys are conducted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and others, and are not solely dependent on trawl reporting data from within the fishery. Also, there are no Federal regulations governing the spiny dogfish E:\FR\FM\15MYR1.SGM 15MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 94 / Wednesday, May 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations recreational fishery; these specifications apply to the commercial fishery only. For more information on recreational spiny dogfish regulations, contact the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission or your local state agency. Comment 4: One commenter supported this action, but did not believe that immediate action is required. They agreed that quotas should be reduced in future years to prevent overfishing (perhaps by using limited protected areas), but for now, the stock is stable, and dogfish eat other groundfish species so the population should be controlled. Response 4: This action reduces the dogfish quota to prevent overfishing based on the best scientific information available. Although the stock is not currently overfished or experiencing overfishing, biomass has been declining, and the quota reductions are a result of the application of the Mid-Atlantic Council’s Risk Policy to prevent overfishing, consistent with National Standard 2 and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. As stated earlier, the FMP does not account for predation effects of spiny dogfish on other species. Comment 5: This commenter supported this action’s quota reductions for spiny dogfish to preserve future sustainability in the fishery. They also suggested that a sex-specific spiny dogfish fishery be considered to protect against harvest of pregnant females. Response 5: NMFS agrees that these specifications will better maintain sustainability in the spiny dogfish fishery. Consideration of a sex-specific fishery and management measures was not discussed in this action and would need to be pursued separately by the Councils in the future. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Changes From the Proposed Rule There are no changes from the proposed rule. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Spiny Dogfish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations. This final rule does not duplicate, conflict, or overlap with any existing Federal rules. This action does not contain a collection of information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:32 May 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness period for this rule, to ensure that the final specifications are in place as close as practicable to the start of the 2019 spiny dogfish fishing year, which began on May 1, 2019. This action implements the final specifications (i.e., annual catch limits) for the spiny dogfish fishery for the 2019 fishing year. A delay in effectiveness well beyond the start of the fishing year would be contrary to the public interest, as it could create confusion in the commercial spiny dogfish industry. Additionally, it could compromise the effectiveness of the lower catch limits in preventing overfishing while still allowing sustainable yield. This rule is being issued at the earliest possible date. Preparation of the proposed rule was dependent on the submission of the EA, in support of the specifications, developed by the MidAtlantic Council. Following submission, documentation in support of the Council’s recommended specifications is required for NMFS to provide the public with information from the environmental and economic analyses, as required in rulemaking, and to evaluate the consistency of the Council’s recommendation with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law. A complete draft of the specifications document and accompanying EA was received in late November 2018. However, the recent lapse in federal appropriations prevented any work on this action from December 22, 2018, through January 25, 2019, and delayed approval of the final EA. As such, the final specifications document and EA was not completed and approved by NMFS until early March 2019. The proposed rule for this action published on March 29, 2019, with a 15-day comment period ending April 15, 2019. A 30-day delay in effectiveness would needlessly postpone implementation of the 2019 specifications beyond the start of the fishing year on May 1, which is contrary to the public interest. Furthermore, the lower catch limits specified in this action should be implemented as soon as possible to minimize the potential for overfishing. Although the specifications from 2018 are carried into 2019 until new catch limits are implemented, the Councils have recommended a substantial reduction in commercial quota based on the most recent stock assessment update. Harvest occurring within the first weeks of the fishing year based on outdated, higher catch limits could PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 21725 further harm the resource, and subject it to a greater risk of overfishing. Finally, regulated parties do not require any additional time to come into compliance with this rule, and thus, a 30-day delay in effectiveness does not provide any benefit. Unlike actions that require an adjustment period to comply with new rules, participants in the spiny dogfish fishery will not be required to purchase new equipment or otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management measures. Fishery stakeholders have also been involved in the development of this action and are anticipating this rule. Therefore, there would be no benefit to delaying the implementation of these specifications. For these reasons, a 30-day delay in effectiveness would be contrary to the public interest, and is therefore waived. As a result, there is good cause to implement these specifications on May 15, 2019. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis The final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) included in this final rule was prepared pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 604(a), and incorporates the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) and a summary of analyses completed to support the action. A public copy of the environmental assessment/IRFA is available from the Mid-Atlantic Council (see ADDRESSES). The preamble to the proposed rule included a detailed summary of the analyses contained in the IRFA, and that discussion is not repeated here. A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency’s Assessment of Such Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such Comments NMFS did not receive any comments in response to the IRFA or regulatory flexibility analysis (RFA) process. Refer to the ‘‘Comments and Responses’’ section of this rule’s preamble for more detail on the public comments that were received. No changes to the proposed rule were made as a result of public comment. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply This final rule affects small entities engaged in commercial fishing operations in the spiny dogfish fishery. For the purposes of the RFA analysis, the ownership entities (or firms), not the individual vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities. Because of this, E:\FR\FM\15MYR1.SGM 15MYR1 21726 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 94 / Wednesday, May 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations some vessels with spiny dogfish permits may be considered to be part of the same firm because they may have the same owners. In terms of RFA, a business primarily engaged in commercial fishing activity is classified as a small business if it has combined annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. To identify these small and large firms, vessel ownership data from the permit database were grouped according to common owners and sorted by size. The current ownership data set used for this analysis is based on calendar year 2017 (the most recent complete year available). In 2017, there were 2,254 vessels that held a spiny dogfish permit, while 244 of these vessels contributed to overall landings. Crossreferencing those permits with vessel ownership database revealed that 1,695 entities owned those vessels. 1,685 were classified as small entities, with the remaining 10 classified as large businesses. Of the 1,685 small entities, 374 had no revenue in 2017, 1,104 were commercial fishing entities, and 207 were for-hire entities. Overall, there were 227 entities with spiny dogfish permits that reported revenue from spiny dogfish landings during 2017. Of those entities, 1 was large and 226 were small and their average overall revenues in 2017 were $0.4 million. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements No additional reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are included in this final rule. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes Specification of commercial catch limits is constrained by the conservation objectives of the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action implements final 2019 and projected 2020–2021 commercial catch specifications for the spiny dogfish fishery based on the most recent stock VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:32 May 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 assessment update. The Councils also considered taking no action, where the same catch limits and specifications from fishing year 2018 would continue into 2019 with no change. Only these two alternatives were considered by the Councils. NMFS is somewhat constrained in approving specifications in that the agency can approve, disapprove, partially approve, or in very limited circumstances substitute measures to end overfishing and rebuild stocks if Council-recommended measures will not do so. Because of this, there are limited options to minimize potential impacts on small entities. This rule decreases the commercial quota by 46 percent to 9,309 mt in 2019, followed by modest projected increases to 10,521 mt and 12,438 mt, in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Although the 46percent reduction in 2019 is a substantial quota change, landings reports from the most recent available full fishing year (2017) show that 7,439 mt of spiny dogfish were landed. Available landing information for fishing year 2018 is around 23 percent lower than in 2017. Given this data, it is likely that the reduction in quota for 2019 will not constrain the spiny dogfish industry, including small entities. If the fishery were to reverse the recent landing trends and achieve the proposed 2019 quota, it would still generate more landings and likely more revenues than the most recent year (2017) of full fishery information. Therefore, it is expected that the proposed action will have minimal impact on small entities. Taking no action was also considered, where the same catch limits and specifications from 2018 would continue into 2019 and beyond. This may have had a higher potential to minimize short-term economic impacts on small entities, as the quotas would remain higher, providing the potential for greater revenues and economic gain. However, as previously stated, effort and landings in the spiny dogfish fishery have been low in recent years, and higher quotas increase the risk of overfishing without addressing the issues in the market that may be keeping landings low. Therefore, maintaining PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 status quo specifications was not recommended by the Councils because it would exceed catch level recommendations, put the spiny dogfish stock at an unnecessary risk of overfishing, and would be inconsistent with the requirements of the MagnusonStevens Act. NMFS does not anticipate any significant economic impacts on small entities as a result of implementing the reduced quotas in this action. While there is a substantial reduction in the 2019 ACT and commercial quota, analyses indicate that coastwide spiny dogfish landings have been less than these approved specifications in recent years. It is unlikely that potential revenue losses would be directly affected by these quota reductions. In addition, these quotas are projected to increase in 2020 and 2021, so any impact to small entities affected by this action may be remedied quickly as the risk of overfishing subsides. Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as small entity compliance guide was prepared and will be sent to all holders of Federal permits issued for the spiny dogfish fishery. In addition, copies of this final rule and guide (i.e., permit holder letter) are available from NMFS at the following website: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: May 9, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–09915 Filed 5–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15MYR1.SGM 15MYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 94 (Wednesday, May 15, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 21723-21726]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-09915]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 190207082-9433-02]
RIN 0648-XG800


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Spiny Dogfish 
Fishery; 2019 and Projected 2020-2021 Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

[[Page 21724]]

SUMMARY: NMFS issues final specifications for the 2019 spiny dogfish 
fishery, and projected specifications for fishing years 2020 and 2021. 
The specifications are necessary to establish allowable harvest levels 
and other management measures to prevent overfishing while allowing 
optimum yield, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act and the Spiny Dogfish Fishery 
Management Plan. This rule is also intended to inform the public of 
these specifications for the 2019 fishing year and projected 
specifications for 2020 and 2021.

DATES: Effective May 15, 2019 through April 30, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Copies of these specifications, including the Environmental 
Assessment (EA), Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses, and other 
supporting documents for the action, are available upon request from 
Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. 
These documents are also accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org/dogfish.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9180.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery is jointly managed in Federal 
waters by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils 
under the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), with the Mid-
Atlantic Council serving as the administrative lead. The Atlantic 
States Marine Fisheries Commission manages the fishery in state waters 
from Maine to North Carolina through an interstate fishery management 
plan. Regulations implementing the spiny dogfish FMP appear at 50 CFR 
part 648, subparts A and L, and require the specification of an annual 
catch limit (ACL), annual catch target (ACT), and the total allowable 
landings (TAL). These limits and other management measures may be set 
for up to five fishing years at a time, with each fishing year running 
from May 1 through April 30. This action implements spiny dogfish 
specifications for the 2019 fishing year, and announces projected 
specifications for 2020 and 2021, as recommended by the Councils.
    The proposed rule for this action published in the Federal Register 
on March 29, 2019 (84 FR 11923), and comments were accepted through 
April 15, 2019. Additional background information regarding the 
development of these specifications was provided in the proposed rule 
and is not repeated here.

Final Specifications

    This action implements the final 2019 and projected 2020-2021 spiny 
dogfish specifications (Table 1) as described in the March 29, 2019, 
proposed rule. These specifications substantially reduce the coastwide 
commercial quota in 2019 to ensure overfishing does not occur. Quota 
increases are projected for 2020 and 2021 as the stock biomass is 
expected to increase and the risk of overfishing declines. The lower 
catch limits are not expected to have a substantial impact on industry, 
as the reduced coastwide quotas remain higher than total annual 
landings in recent years.

                            Table 1--Summary of Final 2019, and Projected 2020 and 2021 Spiny Dogfish Fishery Specifications
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2019                            2020                            2021
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Metric tons       Pounds        Metric tons       Pounds        Metric tons       Pounds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit.......................................          21,549      47,507,413             N/A             N/A             N/A             N/A
Acceptable Biological Catch.............................          12,914      28,470,497          14,126      31,142,499          16,043      35,368,761
ACL = ACT...............................................          12,865      28,362,470          14,077      31,034,473          15,994      35,260,734
TAL.....................................................           9,390      20,701,000          10,602      23,373,409          12,519      27,599,671
Commercial Quota........................................           9,309      20,522,832          10,521      23,194,835          12,438      27,421,096
Percent Change in Quota from Previous Year..............             -46             -46             +13             +13             +18             +18
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All other fishery management measures, including the 6,000-lb 
(2,722-kg) Federal trip limit, remain unchanged. Changes to the trip 
limit may be pursued in a future, separate rulemaking action. By 
providing projected quotas for 2019 and 2020, NMFS hopes to assist 
fishery participants in planning ahead. The Councils will review these 
specifications annually, and NMFS will provide notice prior to each 
fishing year to finalize specifications and related measures.

Comments and Responses

    The public comment period for the proposed rule ended on April 15, 
2019. Five comments were received from the public on this rule during 
the 15-day comment period. No changes to the proposed specifications 
were made as a result of these comments.
    Comment 1: One commenter requested that the spiny dogfish quota be 
reduced by 50 percent to prevent overfishing, claimed that widespread 
corruption and commercial profiteering was taking place across all 
fisheries, and asked that all trawl gear be banned. No rationale or 
evidence was presented to support the commenter's claims.
    Response 1: This action does reduce the commercial spiny dogfish 
quota by 46 percent to prevent overfishing, which is almost the 50 
percent requested by the commenter. Banning trawl gear is beyond the 
scope of outcomes contemplated in specifications.
    Comment 2: Another commenter alleged that the spiny dogfish quota 
should not be reduced because they prey on valuable groundfish.
    Response 2: This action manages the spiny dogfish fishery in terms 
of the target species' stock health and availability. At this time, the 
FMP does not account for predation effects by spiny dogfish on other 
species.
    Comment 3: The commenter supported this action and the quota 
reduction, but was also concerned with inaccurate data from trawl 
fisheries, and effects on the recreational spiny dogfish fishery.
    Response 3: These specifications were developed using the best 
scientific information available, which includes fishery independent 
trawl surveys. These surveys are conducted by the Northeast Fisheries 
Science Center and others, and are not solely dependent on trawl 
reporting data from within the fishery. Also, there are no Federal 
regulations governing the spiny dogfish

[[Page 21725]]

recreational fishery; these specifications apply to the commercial 
fishery only. For more information on recreational spiny dogfish 
regulations, contact the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission or 
your local state agency.
    Comment 4: One commenter supported this action, but did not believe 
that immediate action is required. They agreed that quotas should be 
reduced in future years to prevent overfishing (perhaps by using 
limited protected areas), but for now, the stock is stable, and dogfish 
eat other groundfish species so the population should be controlled.
    Response 4: This action reduces the dogfish quota to prevent 
overfishing based on the best scientific information available. 
Although the stock is not currently overfished or experiencing 
overfishing, biomass has been declining, and the quota reductions are a 
result of the application of the Mid-Atlantic Council's Risk Policy to 
prevent overfishing, consistent with National Standard 2 and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. As stated earlier, the FMP does not account for 
predation effects of spiny dogfish on other species.
    Comment 5: This commenter supported this action's quota reductions 
for spiny dogfish to preserve future sustainability in the fishery. 
They also suggested that a sex-specific spiny dogfish fishery be 
considered to protect against harvest of pregnant females.
    Response 5: NMFS agrees that these specifications will better 
maintain sustainability in the spiny dogfish fishery. Consideration of 
a sex-specific fishery and management measures was not discussed in 
this action and would need to be pursued separately by the Councils in 
the future.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes from the proposed rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the Spiny Dogfish FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 
because this action contains no implementing regulations.
    This final rule does not duplicate, conflict, or overlap with any 
existing Federal rules.
    This action does not contain a collection of information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness 
period for this rule, to ensure that the final specifications are in 
place as close as practicable to the start of the 2019 spiny dogfish 
fishing year, which began on May 1, 2019. This action implements the 
final specifications (i.e., annual catch limits) for the spiny dogfish 
fishery for the 2019 fishing year. A delay in effectiveness well beyond 
the start of the fishing year would be contrary to the public interest, 
as it could create confusion in the commercial spiny dogfish industry. 
Additionally, it could compromise the effectiveness of the lower catch 
limits in preventing overfishing while still allowing sustainable 
yield.
    This rule is being issued at the earliest possible date. 
Preparation of the proposed rule was dependent on the submission of the 
EA, in support of the specifications, developed by the Mid-Atlantic 
Council. Following submission, documentation in support of the 
Council's recommended specifications is required for NMFS to provide 
the public with information from the environmental and economic 
analyses, as required in rulemaking, and to evaluate the consistency of 
the Council's recommendation with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable law. A complete draft of the specifications document and 
accompanying EA was received in late November 2018. However, the recent 
lapse in federal appropriations prevented any work on this action from 
December 22, 2018, through January 25, 2019, and delayed approval of 
the final EA. As such, the final specifications document and EA was not 
completed and approved by NMFS until early March 2019. The proposed 
rule for this action published on March 29, 2019, with a 15-day comment 
period ending April 15, 2019. A 30-day delay in effectiveness would 
needlessly postpone implementation of the 2019 specifications beyond 
the start of the fishing year on May 1, which is contrary to the public 
interest.
    Furthermore, the lower catch limits specified in this action should 
be implemented as soon as possible to minimize the potential for 
overfishing. Although the specifications from 2018 are carried into 
2019 until new catch limits are implemented, the Councils have 
recommended a substantial reduction in commercial quota based on the 
most recent stock assessment update. Harvest occurring within the first 
weeks of the fishing year based on outdated, higher catch limits could 
further harm the resource, and subject it to a greater risk of 
overfishing.
    Finally, regulated parties do not require any additional time to 
come into compliance with this rule, and thus, a 30-day delay in 
effectiveness does not provide any benefit. Unlike actions that require 
an adjustment period to comply with new rules, participants in the 
spiny dogfish fishery will not be required to purchase new equipment or 
otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management 
measures. Fishery stakeholders have also been involved in the 
development of this action and are anticipating this rule. Therefore, 
there would be no benefit to delaying the implementation of these 
specifications.
    For these reasons, a 30-day delay in effectiveness would be 
contrary to the public interest, and is therefore waived. As a result, 
there is good cause to implement these specifications on May 15, 2019.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    The final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) included in this 
final rule was prepared pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 604(a), and incorporates 
the initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) and a summary of 
analyses completed to support the action. A public copy of the 
environmental assessment/IRFA is available from the Mid-Atlantic 
Council (see ADDRESSES). The preamble to the proposed rule included a 
detailed summary of the analyses contained in the IRFA, and that 
discussion is not repeated here.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and a 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    NMFS did not receive any comments in response to the IRFA or 
regulatory flexibility analysis (RFA) process. Refer to the ``Comments 
and Responses'' section of this rule's preamble for more detail on the 
public comments that were received. No changes to the proposed rule 
were made as a result of public comment.

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

    This final rule affects small entities engaged in commercial 
fishing operations in the spiny dogfish fishery. For the purposes of 
the RFA analysis, the ownership entities (or firms), not the individual 
vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities. Because of this,

[[Page 21726]]

some vessels with spiny dogfish permits may be considered to be part of 
the same firm because they may have the same owners. In terms of RFA, a 
business primarily engaged in commercial fishing activity is classified 
as a small business if it has combined annual gross receipts not in 
excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. To 
identify these small and large firms, vessel ownership data from the 
permit database were grouped according to common owners and sorted by 
size.
    The current ownership data set used for this analysis is based on 
calendar year 2017 (the most recent complete year available). In 2017, 
there were 2,254 vessels that held a spiny dogfish permit, while 244 of 
these vessels contributed to overall landings. Cross-referencing those 
permits with vessel ownership database revealed that 1,695 entities 
owned those vessels. 1,685 were classified as small entities, with the 
remaining 10 classified as large businesses. Of the 1,685 small 
entities, 374 had no revenue in 2017, 1,104 were commercial fishing 
entities, and 207 were for-hire entities. Overall, there were 227 
entities with spiny dogfish permits that reported revenue from spiny 
dogfish landings during 2017. Of those entities, 1 was large and 226 
were small and their average overall revenues in 2017 were $0.4 
million.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    No additional reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance 
requirements are included in this final rule.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes

    Specification of commercial catch limits is constrained by the 
conservation objectives of the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This 
action implements final 2019 and projected 2020-2021 commercial catch 
specifications for the spiny dogfish fishery based on the most recent 
stock assessment update. The Councils also considered taking no action, 
where the same catch limits and specifications from fishing year 2018 
would continue into 2019 with no change. Only these two alternatives 
were considered by the Councils. NMFS is somewhat constrained in 
approving specifications in that the agency can approve, disapprove, 
partially approve, or in very limited circumstances substitute measures 
to end overfishing and rebuild stocks if Council-recommended measures 
will not do so. Because of this, there are limited options to minimize 
potential impacts on small entities.
    This rule decreases the commercial quota by 46 percent to 9,309 mt 
in 2019, followed by modest projected increases to 10,521 mt and 12,438 
mt, in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Although the 46-percent reduction 
in 2019 is a substantial quota change, landings reports from the most 
recent available full fishing year (2017) show that 7,439 mt of spiny 
dogfish were landed. Available landing information for fishing year 
2018 is around 23 percent lower than in 2017. Given this data, it is 
likely that the reduction in quota for 2019 will not constrain the 
spiny dogfish industry, including small entities.
    If the fishery were to reverse the recent landing trends and 
achieve the proposed 2019 quota, it would still generate more landings 
and likely more revenues than the most recent year (2017) of full 
fishery information. Therefore, it is expected that the proposed action 
will have minimal impact on small entities.
    Taking no action was also considered, where the same catch limits 
and specifications from 2018 would continue into 2019 and beyond. This 
may have had a higher potential to minimize short-term economic impacts 
on small entities, as the quotas would remain higher, providing the 
potential for greater revenues and economic gain. However, as 
previously stated, effort and landings in the spiny dogfish fishery 
have been low in recent years, and higher quotas increase the risk of 
overfishing without addressing the issues in the market that may be 
keeping landings low. Therefore, maintaining status quo specifications 
was not recommended by the Councils because it would exceed catch level 
recommendations, put the spiny dogfish stock at an unnecessary risk of 
overfishing, and would be inconsistent with the requirements of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    NMFS does not anticipate any significant economic impacts on small 
entities as a result of implementing the reduced quotas in this action. 
While there is a substantial reduction in the 2019 ACT and commercial 
quota, analyses indicate that coastwide spiny dogfish landings have 
been less than these approved specifications in recent years. It is 
unlikely that potential revenue losses would be directly affected by 
these quota reductions. In addition, these quotas are projected to 
increase in 2020 and 2021, so any impact to small entities affected by 
this action may be remedied quickly as the risk of overfishing 
subsides.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as 
small entity compliance guide was prepared and will be sent to all 
holders of Federal permits issued for the spiny dogfish fishery. In 
addition, copies of this final rule and guide (i.e., permit holder 
letter) are available from NMFS at the following website: 
www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

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

    Dated: May 9, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-09915 Filed 5-14-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P