Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Revised 2019 Summer Flounder Specifications, 22392-22394 [2019-10250]

Download as PDF 22392 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 96 / Friday, May 17, 2019 / Rules and Regulations determines that maintaining the prior year’s ACT is unnecessary. In addition, the notification will reduce the length of the recreational red grouper fishing season the following fishing year by the amount necessary to ensure red grouper recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACT in the following fishing year. (iii) If red grouper are overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, and red grouper recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the applicable ACL specified in paragraph (r)(2)(iv) of this section, the following measures will apply. In addition to the measures specified in paragraphs (r)(2)(i) and (ii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the ACL for that following year by the amount of the ACL overage in the prior fishing year, and reduce the ACT, as determined in paragraph (r)(2)(ii) of this section, by the amount of the ACL overage in the prior fishing year, unless the best scientific information available determines that a greater, lesser, or no overage adjustment is necessary. (iv) The recreational ACL for red grouper, in gutted weight, is 1.00 million lb (0.45 million kg). The recreational ACT for red grouper, in gutted weight, is 0.92 million lb (0.42 million kg). [FR Doc. 2019–10322 Filed 5–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 190312234–9412–01] RIN 0648–XG898 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Revised 2019 Summer Flounder Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Interim final rule. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES AGENCY: NMFS issues revised specifications for the 2019 summer flounder fishery. Due to recently available information from a benchmark stock assessment, changes to the specifications are necessary to better SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:27 May 16, 2019 Jkt 247001 achieve optimum yield within the fishery while controlling overfishing, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This rule is also intended to inform the public of the changes to the specifications for the remainder of the 2019 fishing year. DATES: Effective May 17, 2019, through December 31, 2019. ADDRESSES: Copies of the revised specifications, including the Supplemental Information Report, 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. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9180. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The summer flounder fishery is managed jointly by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission as a part of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Summer flounder specifications must be implemented at the start of the fishing year on January 1, by the order of Judge Robert Doumar in North Carolina Fisheries Association v. Daley. The FMP does not have any year-to-year quota rollover or other provisions that would ensure that catch constraints would have been in place on January 1, 2019, should no action have been taken. The final peer review and assessment results of the November 2018 summer flounder benchmark stock assessment were not available to be incorporated into the 2019 specifications by this deadline, so on December 17, 2018, initial 2019 specifications were published for the summer flounder fishery (83 FR 64482) based on scientific information provided by a 2016 assessment update. In that rule, it was explained that those initial specifications should be considered interim measures and that mid-year changes would be developed and implemented to address the benchmark assessment results. This action implements revisions to the summer flounder catch and landings limits for the 2019 fishing year based on new information provided by the benchmark stock assessment. The stock assessment was developed and peer reviewed in the 66th Stock Assessment Workshop/Stock PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Assessment Review Committee (SAW/ SARC 66). The final peer review and assessment results were made available in February 2019. This assessment included incorporation of revised Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) estimates of recreational catch, which has an important impact on estimated spawning stock biomass for summer flounder. Incorporating the revised MRIP time series increased the total average fishery catch from 1982–2017 by about 30 percent. While the magnitude of fishing mortality was not strongly affected, the increased catch has resulted in increased estimates of historic and current stock size. Based on the results of this benchmark assessment, the summer flounder stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. Previously, the stock was considered to be subject to overfishing. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee (MC) met in late February to review the assessment results and make recommendations to the Council for revised catch and landings limits. The SSC applied the Council’s risk policy to derive recommended overfishing limits (OFL) and acceptable biological catch (ABC) values for fishing years 2019–2021. A different approach was used for deriving ABCs than in prior years. Rather than a varying ABC from year to year, a constant, averaged ABC value was derived for 2019–2021 to maintain more consistency in the fishery. This approach was determined to be preferable for industry, to have a similar biological outcome to the varied ABC approach, and is consistent with the Council’s risk policy. The MC, Council, and the Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board all recommended using the 3-year averaged ABC approach as it provides additional stability in the fishery and reduces the expected number of year-to-year regulation changes over this time period. The Council and Board reviewed the new stock assessment information and SSC and MC recommendations at their joint meeting in March 2019, and took final action on their revised 2019 specification recommendations. In those recommendations, the Council and Board also proposed setting 2020–2021 catch and landings limits, but those specifications will be implemented in a separate action later this year. In addition, the 2019 recreational measures for summer flounder are being developed in a separate, concurrent E:\FR\FM\17MYR1.SGM 17MYR1 22393 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 96 / Friday, May 17, 2019 / Rules and Regulations action published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. This action is being published without prior notice and formal public comment period. The changes to the initial 2019 summer flounder specifications included in this action were anticipated during development of the original specifications. The public was also notified of the intent to publish revised specifications in the proposed and final rules of the original summer flounder specifications action (83 FR 57389, November 15, 2018; 83 FR 64482, December 17, 2018), as well as in the proposed rule for the 2019 summer flounder recreational measures that is being published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. Revised Specifications This action implements the revised 2019 specifications (Table 1) as recommended by the Council and Board. This action makes no changes to the current commercial management measures, including the minimum fish size (14-inch [35.6-cm] total length), gear requirements, and possession limits. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS AND REVISED 2019 SUMMER FLOUNDER FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS Previous Revised Difference (%) million lb OFL ....................................................................................................................... ABC ....................................................................................................................... Commercial Annual Catch Limit (ACL) ................................................................. Commercial Annual Catch Target (ACT) * ............................................................ Expected Commercial Discards ............................................................................ Commercial Quota * .............................................................................................. Recreational ACL .................................................................................................. Recreational ACT .................................................................................................. Expected Recreational Discards ........................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit .................................................................................... mt 20.60 15.41 9.18 8.14 1.47 6.67 6.22 6.22 1.08 5.15 million lb 9,344 6,990 4,164 3,692 667 3,030 2,821 2,821 490 2,336 mt 30.00 25.03 13.53 12.98 2.00 10.98 11.51 11.51 3.82 7.69 13,609 11,354 6,136 5,888 907 4,981 5,218 5,218 1,732 3,486 46 62 47 59 36 65 85 85 254 49 * Commercial ACTs and quotas shown after accountability measures have been applied. Accountability measures (AM) in the commercial summer flounder fishery require a scaled payback against the commercial fishery’s ACT, based on both the amount of the overage and the status of the summer flounder stock, using the most recent biological reference points. An AM payback of 1.04 million pounds (472 mt) was applied to the commercial ACL in the initial 2019 specifications due to an overage in the 2017 summer flounder fishery caused by higher than expected commercial discards. The timing of that action did not allow for the results of the 2018 benchmark stock assessment to be incorporated into the AM evaluation, so that initial payback amount was based on the status of the stock from the 2016 assessment update, which determined the stock was not overfished, but overfishing was occurring. The benchmark assessment has since updated the biological reference points and stock status for summer flounder. Based on the improved stock status, the revised payback for the AM is 547,000 pounds (248 mt). This reduces the revised commercial ACT from 13.53 million pounds (6,137 mt) to 12.98 million pounds (5,888 mt), and the subsequent revised commercial quota from 11.53 million pounds (5,230 mt) to 10.98 million pounds (4,981 mt). Table 2 summarizes the revised commercial summer flounder quotas for each state, with the revised AM payback incorporated, using the allocated percentages defined in the FMP. This table also includes state-incurred overages from 2018, which are determined by comparing landings for January through October 2018, plus any unaccounted 2017 landings overages to the respective state’s 2018 quota. These state overages are still deducted as pound-for-pound paybacks from the revised 2019 quotas. Delaware has an accumulated overharvest from previous years that is greater than its allocated amount of commercial quota for 2019. As a result, there is no quota available for 2019 in Delaware, and federally permitted vessels are prohibited from landing summer flounder in that state, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer. There has been one state-to-state quota transfer in the 2019 fishing year from North Carolina to New Jersey, which is also shown in Table 2. TABLE 2—REVISED 2019 SUMMER FLOUNDER STATE COMMERCIAL QUOTAS FMP Percent Share State Revised 2019 quotas 1 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES lb Adjustment for overages through October 31, 2018 kg lb kg State quota transfer Final revised 2019 quotas 2 lb kg ME ..................................................................................... NH ..................................................................................... MA ..................................................................................... RI ....................................................................................... CT ...................................................................................... NY ..................................................................................... NJ ...................................................................................... DE ..................................................................................... MD ..................................................................................... VA ...................................................................................... NC ..................................................................................... 0.0476 0.0005 6.8205 15.6830 2.2571 7.6470 16.7250 0.0178 2.0391 21.3168 27.4458 5,224 51 749,091 1,722,462 247,895 839,869 1,836,906 1,954 223,954 2,341,220 3,014,377 2,369 23 339,782 781,295 112,443 380,958 833,206 886 101,584 1,061,959 1,367,298 0 0 ¥7,559 0 0 0 0 ¥55,047 0 0 0 0 0 ¥3,429 0 0 0 0 ¥24,969 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3,270 0 0 0 ¥3,270 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,483 0 0 0 ¥1,483 5,224 51 741,532 1,722,462 247,895 839,869 1,840,176 ¥53,093 223,954 2,341,220 3,011,107 2,369 23 336,353 781,295 112,443 380,958 834,690 ¥24,083 101,584 1,061,959 1,365,815 Total ........................................................................... 100.00 10,983,000 4,981,805 0 0 0 0 10,973,488 4,977,491 1 The lb kg 2017 AM payback of 547,000 lb (248 mt) has already been applied to the total coastwide allocated quota. 2 Total quota is the sum for all states with an allocation. A state with a negative number has a 2019 allocation of zero (0). Total final 2019 quota, less overages, does not include negative allocations (i.e., Delaware’s overage). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:27 May 16, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\17MYR1.SGM 17MYR1 22394 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 96 / Friday, May 17, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Classification jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with RULES Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this interim final rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, the national standards and other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This interim final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations. This interim 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. This interim final rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds it is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest to provide for prior notice and an opportunity for public comment, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). Additionally, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness period for this rule. This action revises the 2019 specifications (i.e., annual catch limits) for the summer flounder fishery to account for new benchmark stock assessment results, and increases the commercial quota by 65 percent and the recreational harvest limit by 49 percent. A delay in its effectiveness would unnecessarily disadvantage fishermen who wish to take advantage of the fishing opportunity that this action provides with increased quotas. A delay would be contrary to the public interest as it could create confusion and potential economic harm in the summer flounder fishery. Additionally, it could compromise the effectiveness of the new specifications in achieving optimal yield while still preventing overfishing. This rule should be effective as soon as VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:27 May 16, 2019 Jkt 247001 possible to fully realize the intended benefits to the fishery. This action, revising 2019 summer flounder specifications to account for benchmark assessment results, was anticipated during development and implementation of the original specifications action. Because of this, changes to catch limits as a result of the assessment were already analyzed under the range of alternatives considered in the environmental assessment for the original action, and the potential for mid-year revision was discussed in the initial specifications (83 FR 64482). The public was provided an opportunity to comment on this likely outcome in late 2018. In the original action, we also notified the public of our intent to publish revised specifications once assessment information became available. The information for and development of this action was discussed and subject to public comment following the results of the benchmark assessment at a public MC meeting in February 2019, and the MidAtlantic Council Meeting in March 2019. In addition, the proposed rule for the 2019 summer flounder recreational measures, being published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, describes the revised recreational specifications that appear in this action. This rule is being issued at the earliest possible date. The results of the benchmark assessment became available in February 2019, and the Council and Board took final action on the revised specifications in March. The revised specifications substantially increase quotas and relieve restrictions on the fishery. The timely implementation of this action will help to ensure that industry has the opportunity to achieve optimal yield in the fishery, and access the increased quotas made available by the new stock assessment. A delay in implementing the new catch limits could prevent this fishing opportunity and potential economic benefit, which is contrary to the public interest. Furthermore, this rule would not require a period for regulated parties to come into compliance with the new rules. Summer flounder fishery participants will not be required to purchase new equipment or otherwise PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 expend time or money to comply with these management measures. Rather, complying with this rule simply means adhering to the higher (less restrictive) catch limits and management measures set for the remainder of the summer flounder fishing year. Fishery stakeholders have been involved in the development of this action and are anticipating this rule. Finally, if the 30-day delay in effectiveness were not waived, the lack of effective catch limits for summer flounder following the updated benchmark assessment results would present confusion to the cooperative management regime governing the fishery in the states. This rule needs to be effective, with the revised recreational harvest limit, before the Federal recreational management measures and state recreational management plans can be implemented. Summer flounder recreational seasons typically begin in May, and a 30-day delay would result in a substantial loss of the 2019 recreational fishing season, loss of fishing opportunity, and economic loss to related industries. If there was a delay, individual states would be unable to set appropriately adjusted commercial possession and/or trip limits, which apportion the catch throughout the year. This could result in further lost seasonal fishing and economic opportunity on the state level, as well as a temporally unbalanced supply that could disrupt prices in the coastwide market. Disproportionate harvest and confusion over state quota allocations could also make landings and quota monitoring difficult, affecting the timing of state closures later in the year. For these reasons, there is good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness and these specifications shall be made effective on May 17, 2019. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: May 13, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–10250 Filed 5–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\17MYR1.SGM 17MYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 96 (Friday, May 17, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22392-22394]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-10250]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 190312234-9412-01]
RIN 0648-XG898


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 
Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Revised 2019 Summer Flounder 
Specifications

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

ACTION: Interim final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS issues revised specifications for the 2019 summer 
flounder fishery. Due to recently available information from a 
benchmark stock assessment, changes to the specifications are necessary 
to better achieve optimum yield within the fishery while controlling 
overfishing, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act. This rule is also intended to inform the public of 
the changes to the specifications for the remainder of the 2019 fishing 
year.

DATES: Effective May 17, 2019, through December 31, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the revised specifications, including the 
Supplemental Information Report, 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.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The summer flounder fishery is managed jointly by the Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission as a part of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Summer flounder specifications must be 
implemented at the start of the fishing year on January 1, by the order 
of Judge Robert Doumar in North Carolina Fisheries Association v. 
Daley. The FMP does not have any year-to-year quota rollover or other 
provisions that would ensure that catch constraints would have been in 
place on January 1, 2019, should no action have been taken. The final 
peer review and assessment results of the November 2018 summer flounder 
benchmark stock assessment were not available to be incorporated into 
the 2019 specifications by this deadline, so on December 17, 2018, 
initial 2019 specifications were published for the summer flounder 
fishery (83 FR 64482) based on scientific information provided by a 
2016 assessment update. In that rule, it was explained that those 
initial specifications should be considered interim measures and that 
mid-year changes would be developed and implemented to address the 
benchmark assessment results. This action implements revisions to the 
summer flounder catch and landings limits for the 2019 fishing year 
based on new information provided by the benchmark stock assessment.
    The stock assessment was developed and peer reviewed in the 66th 
Stock Assessment Workshop/Stock Assessment Review Committee (SAW/SARC 
66). The final peer review and assessment results were made available 
in February 2019. This assessment included incorporation of revised 
Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) estimates of 
recreational catch, which has an important impact on estimated spawning 
stock biomass for summer flounder. Incorporating the revised MRIP time 
series increased the total average fishery catch from 1982-2017 by 
about 30 percent. While the magnitude of fishing mortality was not 
strongly affected, the increased catch has resulted in increased 
estimates of historic and current stock size. Based on the results of 
this benchmark assessment, the summer flounder stock is not overfished, 
and overfishing is not occurring. Previously, the stock was considered 
to be subject to overfishing.
    The Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee (MC) met 
in late February to review the assessment results and make 
recommendations to the Council for revised catch and landings limits. 
The SSC applied the Council's risk policy to derive recommended 
overfishing limits (OFL) and acceptable biological catch (ABC) values 
for fishing years 2019-2021. A different approach was used for deriving 
ABCs than in prior years. Rather than a varying ABC from year to year, 
a constant, averaged ABC value was derived for 2019-2021 to maintain 
more consistency in the fishery. This approach was determined to be 
preferable for industry, to have a similar biological outcome to the 
varied ABC approach, and is consistent with the Council's risk policy. 
The MC, Council, and the Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black 
Sea Bass Management Board all recommended using the 3-year averaged ABC 
approach as it provides additional stability in the fishery and reduces 
the expected number of year-to-year regulation changes over this time 
period.
    The Council and Board reviewed the new stock assessment information 
and SSC and MC recommendations at their joint meeting in March 2019, 
and took final action on their revised 2019 specification 
recommendations. In those recommendations, the Council and Board also 
proposed setting 2020-2021 catch and landings limits, but those 
specifications will be implemented in a separate action later this 
year. In addition, the 2019 recreational measures for summer flounder 
are being developed in a separate, concurrent

[[Page 22393]]

action published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.
    This action is being published without prior notice and formal 
public comment period. The changes to the initial 2019 summer flounder 
specifications included in this action were anticipated during 
development of the original specifications. The public was also 
notified of the intent to publish revised specifications in the 
proposed and final rules of the original summer flounder specifications 
action (83 FR 57389, November 15, 2018; 83 FR 64482, December 17, 
2018), as well as in the proposed rule for the 2019 summer flounder 
recreational measures that is being published elsewhere in this issue 
of the Federal Register.

Revised Specifications

    This action implements the revised 2019 specifications (Table 1) as 
recommended by the Council and Board. This action makes no changes to 
the current commercial management measures, including the minimum fish 
size (14-inch [35.6-cm] total length), gear requirements, and 
possession limits.

              Table 1--Summary of Previous and Revised 2019 Summer Flounder Fishery Specifications
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Previous                         Revised
                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Difference (%)
                                    million lb          mt          million lb          mt
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.............................           20.60           9,344           30.00          13,609              46
ABC.............................           15.41           6,990           25.03          11,354              62
Commercial Annual Catch Limit               9.18           4,164           13.53           6,136              47
 (ACL)..........................
Commercial Annual Catch Target              8.14           3,692           12.98           5,888              59
 (ACT) *........................
Expected Commercial Discards....            1.47             667            2.00             907              36
Commercial Quota *..............            6.67           3,030           10.98           4,981              65
Recreational ACL................            6.22           2,821           11.51           5,218              85
Recreational ACT................            6.22           2,821           11.51           5,218              85
Expected Recreational Discards..            1.08             490            3.82           1,732             254
Recreational Harvest Limit......            5.15           2,336            7.69           3,486              49
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Commercial ACTs and quotas shown after accountability measures have been applied.

    Accountability measures (AM) in the commercial summer flounder 
fishery require a scaled payback against the commercial fishery's ACT, 
based on both the amount of the overage and the status of the summer 
flounder stock, using the most recent biological reference points. An 
AM payback of 1.04 million pounds (472 mt) was applied to the 
commercial ACL in the initial 2019 specifications due to an overage in 
the 2017 summer flounder fishery caused by higher than expected 
commercial discards. The timing of that action did not allow for the 
results of the 2018 benchmark stock assessment to be incorporated into 
the AM evaluation, so that initial payback amount was based on the 
status of the stock from the 2016 assessment update, which determined 
the stock was not overfished, but overfishing was occurring. The 
benchmark assessment has since updated the biological reference points 
and stock status for summer flounder. Based on the improved stock 
status, the revised payback for the AM is 547,000 pounds (248 mt). This 
reduces the revised commercial ACT from 13.53 million pounds (6,137 mt) 
to 12.98 million pounds (5,888 mt), and the subsequent revised 
commercial quota from 11.53 million pounds (5,230 mt) to 10.98 million 
pounds (4,981 mt).
    Table 2 summarizes the revised commercial summer flounder quotas 
for each state, with the revised AM payback incorporated, using the 
allocated percentages defined in the FMP. This table also includes 
state-incurred overages from 2018, which are determined by comparing 
landings for January through October 2018, plus any unaccounted 2017 
landings overages to the respective state's 2018 quota. These state 
overages are still deducted as pound-for-pound paybacks from the 
revised 2019 quotas. Delaware has an accumulated overharvest from 
previous years that is greater than its allocated amount of commercial 
quota for 2019. As a result, there is no quota available for 2019 in 
Delaware, and federally permitted vessels are prohibited from landing 
summer flounder in that state, unless additional quota becomes 
available through a transfer. There has been one state-to-state quota 
transfer in the 2019 fishing year from North Carolina to New Jersey, 
which is also shown in Table 2.

                                              Table 2--Revised 2019 Summer Flounder State Commercial Quotas
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Revised 2019  quotas \1\   Adjustment for overages    State quota  transfer      Final revised 2019
                                   FMP  Percent  -------------------------- through October 31, 2018 --------------------------        quotas \2\
              State                    Share                               --------------------------                          -------------------------
                                                       lb           kg           lb           kg           lb           kg           lb           kg
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ME..............................          0.0476        5,224        2,369            0            0            0            0        5,224        2,369
NH..............................          0.0005           51           23            0            0            0            0           51           23
MA..............................          6.8205      749,091      339,782       -7,559       -3,429            0            0      741,532      336,353
RI..............................         15.6830    1,722,462      781,295            0            0            0            0    1,722,462      781,295
CT..............................          2.2571      247,895      112,443            0            0            0            0      247,895      112,443
NY..............................          7.6470      839,869      380,958            0            0            0            0      839,869      380,958
NJ..............................         16.7250    1,836,906      833,206            0            0        3,270        1,483    1,840,176      834,690
DE..............................          0.0178        1,954          886      -55,047      -24,969            0            0      -53,093      -24,083
MD..............................          2.0391      223,954      101,584            0            0            0            0      223,954      101,584
VA..............................         21.3168    2,341,220    1,061,959            0            0            0            0    2,341,220    1,061,959
NC..............................         27.4458    3,014,377    1,367,298            0            0       -3,270       -1,483    3,011,107    1,365,815
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          100.00   10,983,000    4,981,805            0            0            0            0   10,973,488    4,977,491
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2017 AM payback of 547,000 lb (248 mt) has already been applied to the total coastwide allocated quota.
\2\ Total quota is the sum for all states with an allocation. A state with a negative number has a 2019 allocation of zero (0). Total final 2019 quota,
  less overages, does not include negative allocations (i.e., Delaware's overage).


[[Page 22394]]

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this interim final 
rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
FMP, the national standards and other provisions of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This interim final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 
12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations.
    This interim 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.
    This interim final rule is exempt from the procedures of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without 
opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds it is 
unnecessary and contrary to the public interest to provide for prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B). Additionally, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay of effectiveness 
period for this rule. This action revises the 2019 specifications 
(i.e., annual catch limits) for the summer flounder fishery to account 
for new benchmark stock assessment results, and increases the 
commercial quota by 65 percent and the recreational harvest limit by 49 
percent. A delay in its effectiveness would unnecessarily disadvantage 
fishermen who wish to take advantage of the fishing opportunity that 
this action provides with increased quotas. A delay would be contrary 
to the public interest as it could create confusion and potential 
economic harm in the summer flounder fishery. Additionally, it could 
compromise the effectiveness of the new specifications in achieving 
optimal yield while still preventing overfishing. This rule should be 
effective as soon as possible to fully realize the intended benefits to 
the fishery.
    This action, revising 2019 summer flounder specifications to 
account for benchmark assessment results, was anticipated during 
development and implementation of the original specifications action. 
Because of this, changes to catch limits as a result of the assessment 
were already analyzed under the range of alternatives considered in the 
environmental assessment for the original action, and the potential for 
mid-year revision was discussed in the initial specifications (83 FR 
64482). The public was provided an opportunity to comment on this 
likely outcome in late 2018. In the original action, we also notified 
the public of our intent to publish revised specifications once 
assessment information became available. The information for and 
development of this action was discussed and subject to public comment 
following the results of the benchmark assessment at a public MC 
meeting in February 2019, and the Mid-Atlantic Council Meeting in March 
2019. In addition, the proposed rule for the 2019 summer flounder 
recreational measures, being published elsewhere in this issue of the 
Federal Register, describes the revised recreational specifications 
that appear in this action.
    This rule is being issued at the earliest possible date. The 
results of the benchmark assessment became available in February 2019, 
and the Council and Board took final action on the revised 
specifications in March. The revised specifications substantially 
increase quotas and relieve restrictions on the fishery. The timely 
implementation of this action will help to ensure that industry has the 
opportunity to achieve optimal yield in the fishery, and access the 
increased quotas made available by the new stock assessment. A delay in 
implementing the new catch limits could prevent this fishing 
opportunity and potential economic benefit, which is contrary to the 
public interest.
    Furthermore, this rule would not require a period for regulated 
parties to come into compliance with the new rules. Summer flounder 
fishery participants will not be required to purchase new equipment or 
otherwise expend time or money to comply with these management 
measures. Rather, complying with this rule simply means adhering to the 
higher (less restrictive) catch limits and management measures set for 
the remainder of the summer flounder fishing year. Fishery stakeholders 
have been involved in the development of this action and are 
anticipating this rule.
    Finally, if the 30-day delay in effectiveness were not waived, the 
lack of effective catch limits for summer flounder following the 
updated benchmark assessment results would present confusion to the 
cooperative management regime governing the fishery in the states. This 
rule needs to be effective, with the revised recreational harvest 
limit, before the Federal recreational management measures and state 
recreational management plans can be implemented. Summer flounder 
recreational seasons typically begin in May, and a 30-day delay would 
result in a substantial loss of the 2019 recreational fishing season, 
loss of fishing opportunity, and economic loss to related industries. 
If there was a delay, individual states would be unable to set 
appropriately adjusted commercial possession and/or trip limits, which 
apportion the catch throughout the year. This could result in further 
lost seasonal fishing and economic opportunity on the state level, as 
well as a temporally unbalanced supply that could disrupt prices in the 
coastwide market. Disproportionate harvest and confusion over state 
quota allocations could also make landings and quota monitoring 
difficult, affecting the timing of state closures later in the year.
    For these reasons, there is good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness and these specifications shall be made effective on May 
17, 2019.


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

    Dated: May 13, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-10250 Filed 5-16-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P