Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, 26634-26640 [2019-12033]

Download as PDF 26634 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS additional time to develop its solid waste management program, which EPA believes has now occurred. The EPA has continued to work with the USVI both on its day-to-day landfill operation practices and the development of appropriate solid waste regulations. In addition, in 2004 the USVI established the Waste Management Authority and in recent years has pursued various efforts to improve its solid waste management program. Also, scheduling the work for the final closure of both the Anguilla and Bovoni landfills is now under the supervision of a federal judge and the Department of Justice, pursuant to federal Consent Decrees, which became effective in 2013 and 2014. The USVI submitted program application material to EPA in 2008, and in 2017 and 2018 submitted additional information that EPA requested. EPA has reviewed all relevant materials concerning the USVI’s MSWLF program, including revised solid waste regulations, and has made a tentative determination that all portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ MSWLF permit program now are adequate to assure compliance with the revised Federal Criteria, except that correction of a technical/typographical error in a section of the Virgin Islands solid waste regulations needs to be made. The USVI Attorney General has certified that the current laws and regulations, which are part of the Virgin Islands solid waste management program, are in full force and effect, and that an appropriate correction to the solid waste regulations is being processed. The Attorney General will update its certification when the correction of the regulations has been officially promulgated. The USVI application materials for this program adequacy determination are available for public review in the locations described in the ADDRESSES section of this document. C. Comment Period/Final Determination EPA will consider all public comments received during the public comment period and public hearings, including any comments offered by the Virgin Islands government, and make a final determination on whether to approve the Virgin Islands’ RCRA Subtitle D MSWLF Permit Program. EPA will give notice of its final determination in the Federal Register. The document will include a summary of the reasons for the final determination, and a summary of responses to all major comments VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 received at the public hearings and during the public comment period. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 239 State solid waste program application, Requirements for adequate permit programs, EPA adequacy determination procedures. Dated: May 9, 2019. Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator, Region 2. document is being published pursuant to 47 CFR 1.429(e). See also 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1) and 1.429(f), (g). Number of Petitions Filed: 1. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2019–11913 Filed 6–6–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P [FR Doc. 2019–12044 Filed 6–6–19; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE BILLING CODE 6560–50–P National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [Docket No. 190215125–9125–01] 47 CFR Parts 1 and 96 [GN Docket No. 17–258; Report No. 3128] Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking Proceeding Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Petition for reconsideration. AGENCY: 50 CFR Part 648 RIN 0648–BI49 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), SUMMARY: A Petition for Reconsideration Commerce. (Petition) has been filed in the ACTION: Proposed rule; request for Commission’s rulemaking proceeding comments. by John C. Gazzo, on behalf of SUMMARY: NMFS proposes measures to CallComm. approve and implement Framework DATES: Oppositions to the Petition must Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, be filed on or before June 24, 2019. Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Replies to an opposition must be filed Management Plan. This action proposes on or before July 2, 2019. to establish a 5-year rebuilding program ADDRESSES: Federal Communications for Atlantic mackerel, set 2019–2021 Commission, 445 12th Street SW, Atlantic mackerel specifications and a Washington, DC 20554. river herring and shad cap for the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Atlantic mackerel fishery, modify the Peter Trachtenberg, Mobility Division, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Council’s risk policy, and modify in(WTB), at (202) 418–7369, email: season closure measures. This action is Peter.Trachtenberg@fcc.gov. necessary to prevent overfishing and rebuild the Atlantic mackerel stock SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a based on a recent stock assessment that summary of the Commission’s found the Atlantic mackerel stock to be document, Report No. 3128, released overfished and subject to overfishing. May 24, 2019. The full text of the The intended effect of this rule is to Petition is available for viewing and sustainably manage the Atlantic copying at the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW, mackerel fishery and achieve optimum Room CY–A257, Washington, DC 20554. yield on a continuing basis. DATES: Public comments must be It also may be accessed online via the received by July 8, 2019. Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System at: http://apps.fcc.gov/ ADDRESSES: You may submit comments ecfs/. The Commission will not send a on this document, identified by NOAA– Congressional Review Act (CRA) NMFS–2018–0113, by any of the submission to Congress or the following methods: Government Accountability Office • Electronic Submission: Submit all pursuant to the CRA, 5 U.S.C. electronic public comments via the 801(a)(1)(A), because no rules are being Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to adopted by the Commission. www.regulations.gov/ Subject: Promoting Investment in the #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20183550–3700 MHz Band, GN Docket No. 0113, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, 17–258, FCC 18–149, published at 83 FR complete the required fields, and enter 63076, December 7, 2018. This or attach your comments. PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS • 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 Mackerel Framework 13.’’ Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF formats only. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for Framework Adjustment 13 that describes the proposed action and other alternatives considered and provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives considered. Copies of Framework 13, including the draft EA and the preliminary Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) analysis, are available from: Christopher Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The EA/RIR is accessible via the internet at http:// www.mafmc.org. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alyson Pitts, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9352, Alyson.Pitts@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Atlantic mackerel fishery is managed under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) through an annual quota, possession limits, and a catch cap for bycatch of river herring and shad. In-season accountability measures (AM), including closures of the fishery through possession limit reductions, help ensure catch does not exceed the Atlantic mackerel annual catch limit (ACL) or the river herring and shad catch cap. Reactive AMs require a pound-for-pound payback the following year if landings exceed the Atlantic mackerel ACL. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 Current regulations require the Council’s Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Monitoring Committee to develop specification recommendations based upon the acceptable biological catch (ABC) advice of the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Specifications are the combined suite of commercial and recreational catch levels and management measures necessary to prevent such catch levels from being exceeded. As part of this process, the Council sets the ACL, domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic annual processing, total allowable level of foreign fishing, joint venture processing, and commercial and recreational annual catch targets (ACT) for up to 3 years. These specifications are reviewed annually, and may be revised by the Council based on updated information. A November 2017 benchmark stock assessment (Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) 64) concluded that the Atlantic mackerel stock is overfished and subject to overfishing. The final assessment summary report is available on the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) website (www.nefsc.noaa.gov/saw/reports.html). The Atlantic mackerel benchmark assessment identifies an above average year-class in 2015 that drives the rebuilding projections. However, both the SAW 64 report and the SSC note that estimates of the 2015 year-class are highly uncertain, as is typical for terminal year recruitment estimates. If this year-class materializes and results in increased biomass as projected, rebuilding should occur quickly. Projections also indicate there will likely be no overfishing in 2018 and that the stock should have climbed above the overfished threshold in 2018. An assessment update is expected in 2020 to evaluate rebuilding progress and the realized size of the 2015 and subsequent year-classes. In response to SAW 64, the Council developed Framework Adjustment 13 to create an Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan that would prevent overfishing and rebuild the stock, as required by section 303 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Based on the new stock assessment, NMFS declared the Atlantic mackerel stock to subject to overfishing and overfished, and notified the Council of its determination and the requirement for the Council to prepare a rebuilding plan in July 2018. The SSC had already met in May 2018 to review the assessment and develop ABC recommendations for Atlantic mackerel based on the new stock assessment. The Council was already developing a PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 26635 rebuilding plan when it received the formal notification from NMFS. At its August 2018 meeting, the Council recommended to establish specifications for a 5-year rebuilding plan, including the river herring and shad catch cap and in-season closure measures through Framework 13. On October 12, 2018, the Council submitted the amendment and draft EA to NMFS for preliminary review, with submission of the final draft amendment on February 28, 2019. The Council reviewed the proposed regulations in this rule, as drafted by NMFS, and deemed them to be necessary and appropriate, as specified in section 303(c) of the MagnusonStevens Act. This action also includes 2019–2021 specifications based on the proposed rebuilding plan and adjustments to in-season closure measures to slow fishery catch and allow Atlantic mackerel bycatch in the Atlantic herring fishery, as described further below. NMFS closed the limited access Atlantic mackerel fishery on March 12, 2019, due to the river herring and shad catch cap being reached (March 13, 2019; 84 FR 8999). As a result, the mackerel catch in 2019 will be less than the projected 2019 catch allocation under the proposed 5-year rebuilding plan. We anticipate impacts of the 5year rebuilding plan to be similar to those described in the 3-year rebuilding plan due to the lower catch in 2019. We will not know how the low catch in 2019 will affect the projections after the fishing year. The Council will conduct its annual review of Atlantic mackerel specifications in 2020, taking into account the actual 2019 catch to determine if adjustments should be made to the fishery specifications under the rebuilding plan for 2021 and beyond. Proposed Measures Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we are required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. The MagnusonStevens Act allows us to approve, partially approve, or disapprove measures that the Council proposes based only on whether the measures are consistent with the FMP, the MagnusonStevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Otherwise, we must defer to the Council’s policy choices. We are seeking comments on the Council’s proposed measures in Framework 13, as described below, and whether they are consistent with the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 26636 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS National Standards, and other applicable law. 1. Atlantic Mackerel Rebuilding Plan For stocks that are overfished, section 304(e)(4) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that a rebuilding program shall be as short as possible, taking into account the status and biology of any overfished stocks, the needs of fishing communities, and the interaction of the overfished stock within the marine ecosystem. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires the Council to develop measures for a rebuilding plan as soon as possible and the rebuilding plan must rebuild the stock within 10 years. The Council considered 3-, 5-, and 7-year rebuilding programs in this action. The Council proposed the 5-year rebuilding plan, which ends overfishing immediately and establishes measures that would rebuild the stock within 5 years. The 5-year rebuilding plan is as short as possible while also balancing the needs of the fishing communities and considers the interaction of the overfished stock within the marine ecosystem. The proposed 5-year rebuilding plan would have increased the 2019 DAH by 89 percent relative to the 2018 DAH, but as noted, the limited access fishery closed on March 12, 2019. The proposed 5-year plan would allow for an 124-percent increase in 2020 commercial catch compared to 2018, as described further below. Even with higher catch, biomass is projected to reach 94 percent of the target biomass by 2021 and target rebuilt levels by 2023. The Council selected the 5-year rebuilding plan in part because it addresses community needs while still rebuilding the stock in a time period that is well below the maximum 10-year rebuilding time period. The 5-year rebuilding program would result in about an additional $6.6 and $6.9 million in fishing revenue in 2020 and 2021, respectively, compared to current specifications. In contrast, the 3-year rebuilding plan would have had a $5.8 million decrease in revenue in the first year, compared to the 5-year rebuilding program if the fishery was open and the proposed specifications were implemented. The second and third years of the 3-year rebuilding program would have had a difference of $5.2 and $3.8 million less revenue, respectively, compared to the 5-year plan. In addition, the Council notes that due to the substantial overlap between the Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel fisheries, the expected drastic reductions in Atlantic herring quotas and potential mid-water trawl gear restrictions that may have negative VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 impacts on the Atlantic herring fishery and the stability of associated fishing communities. The higher annual catch associated with the 5-year rebuilding program would help mitigate such economic impacts while still rebuilding the stock within the 10-year maximum allowable rebuilding period. Also, as a precautionary measure, the Council capped ABCs under the 5-year plan at levels associated with the Council’s current risk policy for a fully rebuilt Atlantic mackerel stock (33,474 mt), instead of allowing the ABCs to increase in 2021 and beyond (as supported by the SSC). The Council also considered the interaction of mackerel within the marine ecosystem when considering the rebuilding program. The available information on Atlantic mackerel predation suggests that the ecosystem would not be disrupted under a longer rebuilding period because of the available species to sample, few were found to rely on Atlantic mackerel as prey. Establishing a 5-year plan would rebuild Atlantic mackerel well within the maximum rebuilding period while balancing the needs of fishing communities with the needs of the ecosystem. 2. Revision to the Mid-Atlantic Council Risk Policy The Council adopted a standard risk policy in 2011 as part of Amendment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP (September 29, 2011; 76 FR 60606). This risk policy formalized the process of addressing scientific and management uncertainty when setting catch limits for specifications and establishes a comprehensive system of accountability for catch relative to those limits, including catch limits associated with a rebuilding plan for overfished stocks. Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries and the environment, the Council anticipated that the risk policy may need to be revised in the future and allowed the risk policy to be adjusted via a framework adjustment to allow for flexibility in its application. The Council’s risk policy is codified at 50 CFR 648.21. The regulations at § 648.21(c) require the Council’s SSC to recommend the lowest ABC between that derived from either the Council’s risk policy or a rebuilding plan. The proposed 5-year rebuilding plan would allow catches that are higher than what would occur under the Council’s current standard risk policy because the 5-year plan is based on a higher rebuilding F (0.237) than is allowed by the current risk policy (0.14). The higher catches proposed under the 5-year rebuilding plan would allow the stock PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 to be rebuilt by 2023 while providing an additional $9 million in fishing revenue from 2020–2021. In order to adopt the 5-year rebuilding plan, Framework 13 includes a measure that would modify the risk policy to allow the SSC to recommend 2019–2023 Atlantic mackerel ABCs based on the higher rebuilding fishing mortality rate. The change to the Council’s risk policy proposed in this action is specific to the Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan, and would not affect the application of the Council’s risk policy for any other species or FMP. 3. Atlantic Mackerel Specifications The current Atlantic mackerel specifications are for 2016–2018, which means that new specifications are needed for 2019, regardless of the assessment findings. If approved, Framework 13 would replace the current specifications that have rolled over from 2018. Table 1 presents the proposed 2019–2021 Atlantic mackerel specifications. These specifications include 10,000 mt for expected Canadian catch, 1,209 mt for expected recreational catch, a 3-percent management uncertainty buffer, and an assumed 0.37 percent commercial discard rate. The 10,000-mt Canadian catch deduction is based on the 2018 Canadian catch limit set by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The 1,209-mt recreational catch is based on the total median recreational catch from 2013–2017. The 3-percent management uncertainty buffer is a reduction from the 10-percent buffer used in recent specifications due to the in-season closure measures proposed in Framework 13 that would slow the fishery by reducing possession limits in a phased approach. The proposed changes to the in-season measures reduce the need for a larger management uncertainty buffer to achieve optimum yield and facilitate effective operation of the mackerel fishery while reducing the likelihood of exceeding the ACL, and are described in the next section. The 31,764 mt overfishing limit (OFL) is defined for only 2019. The SSC determined that it could not set the OFL for 2020 and 2021 because there is too much uncertainty in the actual 2019 catch, given the early in-season closure and likely resulting stock size. However, in the temporary absence of an OFL, based on recent catch data and projected trends in stock biomass showing annual growth, the defined ABC for 2020 and 2021 is sufficient to prevent overfishing, when combined with the proposed changes for in-season closure provisions that are described below. In addition, an updated stock assessment for Atlantic E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 26637 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules mackerel will be completed in 2020, which NMFS expects will enable the SSC and Council to develop and set the OFL for 2021 through 2023. Finally, 0.37 percent of expected commercial catch would be set aside for expected discards based on the 2012–2016 discards, which accounted for 0.37 percent of catch in the recent benchmark assessment. The Council will review each component of the Atlantic mackerel specifications annually, and will consider the results of an updated stock assessment in 2020 to refine future specifications. TABLE 1—PROPOSED 2019–2021 SPECIFICATIONS [mt] 2019 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Overfishing Limit .......................................................................................................................... Total ABC .................................................................................................................................... Canadian Deduction .................................................................................................................... U.S. ABC–ACL (expected Canadian catch deducted) ................................................................ Recreational Allocation ................................................................................................................ Commercial Allocation ................................................................................................................. Management Uncertainty Buffer 3% ........................................................................................... Commercial ACT ......................................................................................................................... DAH (ACT minus 0.37% discard rate) ........................................................................................ 4. In-Season Closure Provisions The mackerel fishery is variable in production, especially given its mixedfishery nature with Atlantic herring. This results in potentially leaving a higher than expected amount of quota uncaught. Setting a larger management uncertainty buffer and lower percentage catch triggers may be more likely to avoid ACL overages (which must be paid back) but also more likely to leave quota uncaught. Smaller management uncertainty buffers and higher percentage catch triggers will be more likely to catch the quota but also more likely to lead to ACL overages. In order to achieve optimum yield and effectively use the available commercial landings, Framework 13 proposes to adjust the in-season closure measures for the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery. The proposed measures would require an in-season closure of the limited access commercial fishery when 90 percent of the DAH is projected to be landed. Once that trigger is reached, the Regional Administrator would reduce Atlantic mackerel possession limits to 40,000 lb (18,144 kg) per trip for Tier 1–3 limited access Atlantic mackerel permits and to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) for open access permits. When 98 percent of the DAH is projected to be landed, the Regional Administrator would implement a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit for all permits for the rest of the fishing year to cover remaining incidental catches. The proposed measures would also give the Regional Administrator the discretion to not implement these triggered possession limit reductions in November and December if landings are not projected to exceed the DAH by the end of the year. This measure is intended to increase the likelihood that optimum yield can be harvested, while VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 still minimizing the likelihood of an overage by limiting this authority to November and December at the end of the fishing year. The proposed in-season management measures would reduce the possibility of ACL overages and help preserve fishing opportunities for the trawl-based herring fishery. However, we note that it may negatively affect a few participants in a small-scale Atlantic mackerel jig fishery, if the Atlantic mackerel fishery closures are triggered. Using July–December jig/handline landings from 2015–2017, a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit would have impacted 21 federally-permitted open access vessels. Twenty-one vessels represent one percent of the entire Atlantic mackerel fleet, two percent of small businesses within the fleet, and seven percent of businesses that rely solely on Atlantic mackerel. Due to the small-scale Atlantic mackerel jig fishery using open access permits, participation in the fishery may increase in the future. It is also possible that with the higher Atlantic mackerel quotas closures would not occur, so the 5,000-lb (2,268kg) trip limit for incidental permits may not be triggered. Further, the possession limit after a closure due to the river herring and shad catch cap remains at 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) for all Atlantic mackerel vessels. We have included a summary of the economic impacts on this fleet in the ‘‘Classification’’ section of this rule. 5. River Herring and Shad Catch Cap In 2014, Amendment 14 to the FMP (February 24, 2014; 79 FR 10029) implemented a catch cap to manage the bycatch of river herring and shad in the Atlantic mackerel fishery. Once reached, Atlantic mackerel possession limits are reduced to 20,000 lb (9,071 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31,764 29,184 10,000 19,184 1,209 17,975 539 17,436 17,371 2020 N/A 32,480 10,000 22,480 1,209 21,271 638 20,633 20,557 2021 N/A 33,474 10,000 23,474 1,209 22,265 669 21,597 21,517 kg) for the rest of the year, which effectively closes the limited access Atlantic mackerel fishery. To continue to manage river herring and shad catch in the Atlantic mackerel fishery, this action would revise the existing catch cap based on the proposed 2019–2021 Atlantic mackerel quotas. The catch caps are monitored based on river herring and shad bycatch recorded in observer and portside sampling data for mackerel trips by limited access vessels, or trips in which at least 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) of Atlantic mackerel are landed. The proposed measures would scale the river herring and shad catch cap with Atlantic mackerel landings. The initial cap would be set at 89 mt for 2019–2021, but could increase if the fishery can first land 10,000 mt of Atlantic mackerel without hitting the initial 89-mt river herring and shad catch cap in each year, which was the cap limit in 2015. The 89-mt cap represents the median annual river herring and shad catch by all vessels landing over 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) of mackerel per trip from 2005–2012. Data used to establish the original river herring and shad catch cap in Amendment 14 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP found that Atlantic mackerel landings would be limited to around 10,000 mt, the approximate DAH at the time of implementation (February 24, 2014; 79 FR 10029). The catch cap would increase to 129 mt in 2019, 152 mt in 2020, and 159 mt in 2021 due to the proposed increasing Atlantic mackerel DAHs under the proposed rebuilding plan. This scaling provision is meant to provide incentives to reduce river herring and shad bycatch, particularly as the Atlantic mackerel quotas would increase in the next few years, E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 26638 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules regardless of the rate of mackerel catches. The potential increased catch caps are determined by multiplying each year’s Atlantic mackerel DAH by 0.74 percent, which is the same river herring/shad bycatch ratio used in 2015. This is a lower ratio than used in 2018 (0.89 percent), so there would be a strong incentive for the fishery to avoid river herring and shad to increase the likelihood of fully harvesting the available Atlantic mackerel DAH in each year. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 5. Corrections and Clarifications to Existing Regulations This proposed rule includes additional revisions to address regulatory text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. These revisions were not adopted by the Council under Framework 13, but are consistent with section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides authority to the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that amendments to an FMP are carried out in accordance with the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This proposed rule would modify § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A) and § 648.24(b)(6), to reference ‘‘limited access’’ and ‘‘open access’’ permits instead of the ‘‘directed’’ and ‘‘incidental’’ fishery to be clear and consistent with the regulations being added and changed with this action. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Framework Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. In making a final determination, NMFS will take into account the data, views, and comments received during the comment period. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Council prepared a draft EA for this action that analyzes the impact of measures contained in this proposed rule. The EA includes a regulatory flexibility analysis, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is supplemented by information contained in the preamble of this proposed rule. The IRFA, as summarized below, describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 preamble to this proposed rule. A copy of the RFA analysis is available from the Mid-Atlantic Council (see ADDRESSES). Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered The purpose of this action is to establish a 5-year rebuilding program for Atlantic mackerel, set 2019–2021 Atlantic mackerel specifications and a river herring and shad cap for the Atlantic mackerel fishery, and modify in-season closure measures. The intended effect of this rule is to sustainably manage the Atlantic mackerel fishery and achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis. Section 4.0 of the EA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES) contains a more thorough description of the purpose and need for this action. Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule The legal basis and objectives for this action are contained in the preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here. Sections 4.0 and 5.0 of the EA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES) contains a more thorough description of the purpose and need for this action and the rational for each measure considered. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which This Proposed Rule Would Apply The measures proposed in this action apply to vessels that hold any commercial permit for Atlantic mackerel. We analyzed the impacts using NMFS’s database for Atlantic mackerel permit holders in 2017 (the most recent year of full year permit data) cross referenced with NMFS ownership data. Some small entities own multiple vessels with Atlantic mackerel permits. For purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, NMFS established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The determination of whether the entity is large or small is based on the average annual revenue for the most recent 3 years for which data are available. In 2017, 1,829 separate vessels held Atlantic mackerel permits. These vessels were owned by 1,379 entities, PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 nearly all of which (1,368) were small business entities. Based on revenue from all species landed, 951 of these were commercial fishing entities, 116 were for-hire entities, and 301 had no revenue, but are considered small businesses. For those small businesses with revenues, average revenues were $0.6 million in 2017. There were 299 entities that reported revenue from Atlantic mackerel during 2017. Of these entities, 4 were large and 295 were small. In 2017, 145 vessels were issued limited access permits and may be affected by the directed fishery closure measures proposed in this action. They are owned by 105 entities, of which 98 are small entities. Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of This Proposed Rule This action does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities In addition to the no action (no rebuilding, current specifications continue), the Council considered three rebuilding alternatives with time frames of: 3 years; 5 years; and 7 years. All of the rebuilding alternatives allow an increase in landings over time and have positive long-term socio-economic benefits compared to taking no action. The 3-year rebuilding program would require a cut in quota in the first year with increases in the second and third years, compared to the current quota. The 5-year and 7-year rebuilding program specifications would significantly increase the allowable quota by over 8,000 mt in the first year, with increases in subsequent years. The 7-year program would allow a larger quota increase, compared to the 5-year program. The 5-year program was selected because it would rebuild the fishery within the 5-year timeframe, before the 7-year program, while considering the economic needs of fishing communities. The proposed 5year rebuilding program would result in an additional $9 million in fishing revenue annually in 2020–2021, compared to 2020–2021 under the no action alternative (which would continue current specifications). The in-season closure alternatives would achieve efficient operation of the fishery by allowing most of the DAH to be caught without a high risk of E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 26639 jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules exceeding the annual catch limit. The difference in socioeconomic outcomes is related to the DAHs selected in the proposed rebuilding program and associated specifications in relation to the proposed changes to the in-season closure provisions, which would result in slight changes to fishery operation. Closing the limited access fishery earlier, as proposed and maintaining larger trip limits may benefit smaller scale operators later in the year, but reduces available quota for the larger scale limited access fishery. However, preserving a higher trip limit after an Atlantic mackerel fishery closure may help larger scale entities offset the impacts of an earlier closure by allowing more incidental Atlantic mackerel catch in other fisheries, particularly Atlantic herring. Limiting incidental landings to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) once the directed fishery closes is a measure in all of the proposed alternatives other than the no action alternative. While this would reduce the possibility of ACL overages, there is a small-scale directed Atlantic mackerel jig/handline fishery that has developed in recent years by vessels with open access permits. Using July– December jig/handline landings from 2015–2017, a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit would have impacted 21 federallypermitted vessels. If those vessels had been limited to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) during those 3 years, their combined Atlantic mackerel landings would have been reduced by 17 percent. Individual vessel Atlantic mackerel landings for these 21 vessels would have been impacted with an average and median reduction of 13 percent. Based on the average 2015–2017 price from July– December jig/handline trips of $0.45 per lb, individual vessels would have approximately lost, over a total of 3 years, an average of $14,773 and a median of $5,171. The least impacted would have experienced losses of around $104 and the most would be around $108,917 in ex-vessel revenues over three years. The proportion of total revenues from Atlantic mackerel for these 21 vessels was an average of 23 percent and a median of 20 percent, with a range of 1 percent to 93 percent. The 21 vessels that may be impacted are 1 percent of the entire Atlantic mackerel fleet, 2 percent of small businesses within the fleet, and 7 percent of businesses that solely rely on Atlantic mackerel. It is also possible that with the higher Atlantic mackerel quotas closures would not occur, so the 5,000lb (2,268-kg) trip limit for incidental permits may not be triggered. The Council considered alternatives for the river herring and shad catch cap VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 for the Atlantic mackerel fishery. The proposed measures are a combination of alternatives that would increase the river herring and shad catch cap but scale the ratio of river herring and shad in the Atlantic mackerel fishery when landings are above 10,000 mt. If the river herring and shad catch triggers a closure under any of the alternatives, the 145 vessels with limited access permits are potentially affected, and they represent 105 entities, of which 98 are small entities. If the river herring and shad encounter rates are relatively low, as in most years the cap has been in operation (2014–2017), then they will not be impacted at all. If river herring and shad catch encounter rates are high, as in 2018 and 2019, then it is possible that a substantial portion of the mackerel DAH could go unharvested once the directed fishery is closed due to exceeding the river herring and shad catch cap. Under the proposed action, if the fishery has a similar encounter rate as 2018 and 2019, when the fishery was closed early in the year, Atlantic mackerel landings could still close the limited access fishery with the higher DAHs because the river herring and shad catch cap is scaled up with the quota and landings. The fishery landed about 8,000 mt, or nearly 88 percent of the DAH before the river herring and shad catch cap closed the fishery in 2018. In 2019, the fishery landed about 4,145 mt, or 45 percent of the DAH before the river herring and shad catch cap closed the fishery. The proposed 89 mt river herring and shad catch cap is slightly higher than the current catch cap of 82 mt, so under the proposed action, there would be a closure at approximately 8,700 mt at 2018 catch rates. Atlantic mackerel landings could increase, but they would be limited compared to the proposed 2020–2021 DAHs of 20,557 mt and 21,517 mt, respectively. Looking at the differences, this would leave, for 2020–2021 DAHs, 11,857 mt and 12,817 mt, respectively, unharvested. If high river herring and shad catch rates trigger a closure of the directed fishery, the fishery may experience an opportunity cost of up to $7.7 million in forgone revenue if the proposed DAHs are not fully landed. This would not be a decrease in revenue, but a limit to a potential increase in revenue if the river herring and shad catch cap were reached. The proposed action combination provides more flexibility to allow the fishery to continue than all of the other alternatives considered. If the river herring and shad catch cap is triggered, the Atlantic mackerel trip limit for all permits becomes 20,000 lb PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (9,071 kg), which is not a change from the current measures. Under the proposed changes for in-season closures, if 90 percent of the DAH was caught, incidental permits would go to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). In the next in-season closure phase of the fishery, if 98 percent of the DAH was caught, all permits would go to a 5,000-lb (2,268kg) trip limit. During a river herring and shad catch cap closure, a 20,000-lb (9,071-kg) trip limit would be most likely, which would allow more DAH to be available than in an in-season closure. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: June 3, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.21, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows: ■ § 648.21 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council risk policy. * * * * * (c) Most restrictive ABC recommendation. (1) Unless otherwise allowed in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, for instances in which the application of the risk policy approaches in either paragraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section using OFL distribution, as applicable given life history determination, results in a more restrictive ABC recommendation than the calculation of ABC derived from the use of FREBUILD at the MAFMC-specified overfishing risk level as outlined in paragraph (a) of this section, the SSC shall recommend to the MAFMC the lower of the ABC values. (2) The SSC may specify higher 2019– 2023 ABCs for Atlantic mackerel based on FREBUILD instead of the methods outlined in paragraph (a) of this section to implement a rebuilding program that would rebuild this stock by 2023. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.24, revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (6) to read as follows: § 648.24 Fishery closures and accountability measures. * E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM * * 07JNP1 * * jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS 26640 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 110 / Friday, June 7, 2019 / Proposed Rules (b) * * * (1) Atlantic mackerel commercial sector EEZ closure. (i) First phase commercial closure. (A) Unless otherwise determined in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, NMFS will close the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery, which includes vessels issued an open access or limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, including a limited access Tier 3 Atlantic mackerel permit, in the EEZ when the Regional Administrator projects that 90 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH is harvested if such a closure is necessary to prevent the DAH from being exceeded. The closure of the commercial fishery shall be in effect for the remainder of that fishing year, with incidental catches allowed, as specified in § 648.26. (B) Unless previously closed pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(i)(A) of this section, NMFS will close the Tier 3 commercial mackerel fishery in the EEZ when the Regional Administrator projects that 90 percent of the Tier 3 mackerel allocation will be harvested. Unless otherwise restricted, the closure of the Tier 3 commercial mackerel fishery will be in effect for the remainder of that fishing period, with incidental catches allowed as specified in § 648.26. (ii) Second phase commercial quota closure. When the Regional Administrator projects that 98 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH will be landed, NMFS will reduce the possession of Atlantic mackerel in the EEZ applicable to all Atlantic mackerel permits for the remainder of the fishing year as specified in § 648.26(a)(2)(iii)(A). (iii) Seasonal management. NMFS has the discretion to not implement measures outlined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(A) or (b)(1)(ii) of this section during November and December if the Regional Administrator projects that commercial Atlantic mackerel landings will not exceed the DAH during the remainder of the fishing year. * * * * * (6) River herring and shad catch cap. The river herring and shad cap on the mackerel fishery applies to all trips that land more than 20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of mackerel. NMFS shall close the limited access mackerel fishery in the EEZ when the Regional Administrator project that 95 percent of the river herring/shad catch cap has been harvested. Following closures of the limited access mackerel fishery, vessels must adhere to the possession restrictions specified in § 648.26. ■ 4. In § 648.26, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iii) and paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:40 Jun 06, 2019 Jkt 247001 § 648.26 Mackerel, squid, and butterfish possession restrictions. (a) * * * (1) * * * (i) A vessel issued a Tier 1 limited access mackerel permit is authorized to fish for, possess, or land Atlantic mackerel with no possession restriction in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been harvested, as specified in § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A). (ii) A vessel issued a Tier 2 limited access mackerel permit is authorized to fish for, possess, or land up to 135,000 lb (61.23 mt) of Atlantic mackerel in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been harvested, as specified in § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A). (iii) A vessel issued a Tier 3 limited access mackerel permit is authorized to fish for, possess, or land up to 100,000 lb (45.36 mt) of Atlantic mackerel in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been harvested, or 90 percent of the Tier 3 allocation has been harvested, as specified in § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A) and (B), respectively. * * * * * (2) Atlantic mackerel closure possession restrictions. Any Atlantic mackerel possession restrictions implemented under paragraph (a)(2) of this section will remain in place for the rest of the fishing year, unless further restricted by a subsequent action. If the entire commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery is closed due to harvesting the river herring/shad catch cap, as specified in § 648.24(b)(6) before the fishery harvests 90 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH, then the Atlantic mackerel possession restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii)(B) of this section shall remain in place for the rest of the fishing year unless further reduced by the possession restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii)(A) of this section. (i) Limited Access Fishery. (A) During a closure of the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A), when 90 percent of the DAH is harvested, vessels issued a PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Tier 1, 2, or 3 limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 40,000 lb (18.14 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours. (B) During a closure of the Tier 3 commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(B), when 90 percent of the Tier 3 allocation is harvested, vessels issued a Tier 3 limited access Atlantic mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours (ii) Open Access Fishery. During a closure of the Atlantic mackerel commercial sector pursuant to § 648.24(b)(1)(i)(A), when 90 percent of the DAH is harvested, vessels issued an open access Atlantic mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours. (iii) Entire commercial fishery. (A) Commercial quota closure. During a closure of the entire commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to § 648.24(b)(1)(ii), when 98 percent of the DAH is harvested, vessels issued an open or limited access Atlantic mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours. (B) River herring/shad catch cap closure. During a closure of the limited access commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to § 648.24(b)(6), when 95 percent of the river herring/shad catch cap has been harvested, vessels issued an open or limited access Atlantic mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2019–12033 Filed 6–6–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 110 (Friday, June 7, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26634-26640]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-12033]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 190215125-9125-01]
RIN 0648-BI49


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 
13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management 
Plan

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes measures to approve and implement Framework 
Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery 
Management Plan. This action proposes to establish a 5-year rebuilding 
program for Atlantic mackerel, set 2019-2021 Atlantic mackerel 
specifications and a river herring and shad cap for the Atlantic 
mackerel fishery, modify the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's 
risk policy, and modify in-season closure measures. This action is 
necessary to prevent overfishing and rebuild the Atlantic mackerel 
stock based on a recent stock assessment that found the Atlantic 
mackerel stock to be overfished and subject to overfishing. The 
intended effect of this rule is to sustainably manage the Atlantic 
mackerel fishery and achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis.

DATES: Public comments must be received by July 8, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2018-0113, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0113, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.

[[Page 26635]]

     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 
Mackerel Framework 13.''
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF formats only.
    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) for Framework Adjustment 13 that 
describes the proposed action and other alternatives considered and 
provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of the proposed action and 
alternatives considered. Copies of Framework 13, including the draft EA 
and the preliminary Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) analysis, are 
available from: Christopher Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 State Street, Dover, DE 
19901. The EA/RIR is accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alyson Pitts, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9352, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Atlantic mackerel fishery is managed under the Atlantic 
Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) through 
an annual quota, possession limits, and a catch cap for bycatch of 
river herring and shad. In-season accountability measures (AM), 
including closures of the fishery through possession limit reductions, 
help ensure catch does not exceed the Atlantic mackerel annual catch 
limit (ACL) or the river herring and shad catch cap. Reactive AMs 
require a pound-for-pound payback the following year if landings exceed 
the Atlantic mackerel ACL.
    Current regulations require the Council's Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, 
and Butterfish Monitoring Committee to develop specification 
recommendations based upon the acceptable biological catch (ABC) advice 
of the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). 
Specifications are the combined suite of commercial and recreational 
catch levels and management measures necessary to prevent such catch 
levels from being exceeded. As part of this process, the Council sets 
the ACL, domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic annual processing, 
total allowable level of foreign fishing, joint venture processing, and 
commercial and recreational annual catch targets (ACT) for up to 3 
years. These specifications are reviewed annually, and may be revised 
by the Council based on updated information.
    A November 2017 benchmark stock assessment (Stock Assessment 
Workshop (SAW) 64) concluded that the Atlantic mackerel stock is 
overfished and subject to overfishing. The final assessment summary 
report is available on the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) 
website (www.nefsc.noaa.gov/saw/reports.html). The Atlantic mackerel 
benchmark assessment identifies an above average year-class in 2015 
that drives the rebuilding projections. However, both the SAW 64 report 
and the SSC note that estimates of the 2015 year-class are highly 
uncertain, as is typical for terminal year recruitment estimates. If 
this year-class materializes and results in increased biomass as 
projected, rebuilding should occur quickly. Projections also indicate 
there will likely be no overfishing in 2018 and that the stock should 
have climbed above the overfished threshold in 2018. An assessment 
update is expected in 2020 to evaluate rebuilding progress and the 
realized size of the 2015 and subsequent year-classes.
    In response to SAW 64, the Council developed Framework Adjustment 
13 to create an Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan that would prevent 
overfishing and rebuild the stock, as required by section 303 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Based on the 
new stock assessment, NMFS declared the Atlantic mackerel stock to 
subject to overfishing and overfished, and notified the Council of its 
determination and the requirement for the Council to prepare a 
rebuilding plan in July 2018. The SSC had already met in May 2018 to 
review the assessment and develop ABC recommendations for Atlantic 
mackerel based on the new stock assessment. The Council was already 
developing a rebuilding plan when it received the formal notification 
from NMFS. At its August 2018 meeting, the Council recommended to 
establish specifications for a 5-year rebuilding plan, including the 
river herring and shad catch cap and in-season closure measures through 
Framework 13. On October 12, 2018, the Council submitted the amendment 
and draft EA to NMFS for preliminary review, with submission of the 
final draft amendment on February 28, 2019. The Council reviewed the 
proposed regulations in this rule, as drafted by NMFS, and deemed them 
to be necessary and appropriate, as specified in section 303(c) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action also includes 2019-2021 
specifications based on the proposed rebuilding plan and adjustments to 
in-season closure measures to slow fishery catch and allow Atlantic 
mackerel bycatch in the Atlantic herring fishery, as described further 
below.
    NMFS closed the limited access Atlantic mackerel fishery on March 
12, 2019, due to the river herring and shad catch cap being reached 
(March 13, 2019; 84 FR 8999). As a result, the mackerel catch in 2019 
will be less than the projected 2019 catch allocation under the 
proposed 5-year rebuilding plan. We anticipate impacts of the 5-year 
rebuilding plan to be similar to those described in the 3-year 
rebuilding plan due to the lower catch in 2019. We will not know how 
the low catch in 2019 will affect the projections after the fishing 
year. The Council will conduct its annual review of Atlantic mackerel 
specifications in 2020, taking into account the actual 2019 catch to 
determine if adjustments should be made to the fishery specifications 
under the rebuilding plan for 2021 and beyond.

Proposed Measures

    Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we are required to publish proposed 
rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are 
consistent with applicable law. The Magnuson-Stevens Act allows us to 
approve, partially approve, or disapprove measures that the Council 
proposes based only on whether the measures are consistent with the 
FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other 
applicable law. Otherwise, we must defer to the Council's policy 
choices. We are seeking comments on the Council's proposed measures in 
Framework 13, as described below, and whether they are consistent with 
the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act and its

[[Page 26636]]

National Standards, and other applicable law.

1. Atlantic Mackerel Rebuilding Plan

    For stocks that are overfished, section 304(e)(4) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act requires that a rebuilding program shall be as short as 
possible, taking into account the status and biology of any overfished 
stocks, the needs of fishing communities, and the interaction of the 
overfished stock within the marine ecosystem. The Magnuson-Stevens Act 
also requires the Council to develop measures for a rebuilding plan as 
soon as possible and the rebuilding plan must rebuild the stock within 
10 years. The Council considered 3-, 5-, and 7-year rebuilding programs 
in this action. The Council proposed the 5-year rebuilding plan, which 
ends overfishing immediately and establishes measures that would 
rebuild the stock within 5 years. The 5-year rebuilding plan is as 
short as possible while also balancing the needs of the fishing 
communities and considers the interaction of the overfished stock 
within the marine ecosystem. The proposed 5-year rebuilding plan would 
have increased the 2019 DAH by 89 percent relative to the 2018 DAH, but 
as noted, the limited access fishery closed on March 12, 2019. The 
proposed 5-year plan would allow for an 124-percent increase in 2020 
commercial catch compared to 2018, as described further below. Even 
with higher catch, biomass is projected to reach 94 percent of the 
target biomass by 2021 and target rebuilt levels by 2023.
    The Council selected the 5-year rebuilding plan in part because it 
addresses community needs while still rebuilding the stock in a time 
period that is well below the maximum 10-year rebuilding time period. 
The 5-year rebuilding program would result in about an additional $6.6 
and $6.9 million in fishing revenue in 2020 and 2021, respectively, 
compared to current specifications. In contrast, the 3-year rebuilding 
plan would have had a $5.8 million decrease in revenue in the first 
year, compared to the 5-year rebuilding program if the fishery was open 
and the proposed specifications were implemented. The second and third 
years of the 3-year rebuilding program would have had a difference of 
$5.2 and $3.8 million less revenue, respectively, compared to the 5-
year plan. In addition, the Council notes that due to the substantial 
overlap between the Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel fisheries, 
the expected drastic reductions in Atlantic herring quotas and 
potential mid-water trawl gear restrictions that may have negative 
impacts on the Atlantic herring fishery and the stability of associated 
fishing communities. The higher annual catch associated with the 5-year 
rebuilding program would help mitigate such economic impacts while 
still rebuilding the stock within the 10-year maximum allowable 
rebuilding period. Also, as a precautionary measure, the Council capped 
ABCs under the 5-year plan at levels associated with the Council's 
current risk policy for a fully rebuilt Atlantic mackerel stock (33,474 
mt), instead of allowing the ABCs to increase in 2021 and beyond (as 
supported by the SSC).
    The Council also considered the interaction of mackerel within the 
marine ecosystem when considering the rebuilding program. The available 
information on Atlantic mackerel predation suggests that the ecosystem 
would not be disrupted under a longer rebuilding period because of the 
available species to sample, few were found to rely on Atlantic 
mackerel as prey. Establishing a 5-year plan would rebuild Atlantic 
mackerel well within the maximum rebuilding period while balancing the 
needs of fishing communities with the needs of the ecosystem.

2. Revision to the Mid-Atlantic Council Risk Policy

    The Council adopted a standard risk policy in 2011 as part of 
Amendment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP 
(September 29, 2011; 76 FR 60606). This risk policy formalized the 
process of addressing scientific and management uncertainty when 
setting catch limits for specifications and establishes a comprehensive 
system of accountability for catch relative to those limits, including 
catch limits associated with a rebuilding plan for overfished stocks. 
Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries and the environment, the Council 
anticipated that the risk policy may need to be revised in the future 
and allowed the risk policy to be adjusted via a framework adjustment 
to allow for flexibility in its application.
    The Council's risk policy is codified at 50 CFR 648.21. The 
regulations at Sec.  648.21(c) require the Council's SSC to recommend 
the lowest ABC between that derived from either the Council's risk 
policy or a rebuilding plan. The proposed 5-year rebuilding plan would 
allow catches that are higher than what would occur under the Council's 
current standard risk policy because the 5-year plan is based on a 
higher rebuilding F (0.237) than is allowed by the current risk policy 
(0.14). The higher catches proposed under the 5-year rebuilding plan 
would allow the stock to be rebuilt by 2023 while providing an 
additional $9 million in fishing revenue from 2020-2021. In order to 
adopt the 5-year rebuilding plan, Framework 13 includes a measure that 
would modify the risk policy to allow the SSC to recommend 2019-2023 
Atlantic mackerel ABCs based on the higher rebuilding fishing mortality 
rate. The change to the Council's risk policy proposed in this action 
is specific to the Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan, and would not 
affect the application of the Council's risk policy for any other 
species or FMP.

3. Atlantic Mackerel Specifications

    The current Atlantic mackerel specifications are for 2016-2018, 
which means that new specifications are needed for 2019, regardless of 
the assessment findings. If approved, Framework 13 would replace the 
current specifications that have rolled over from 2018. Table 1 
presents the proposed 2019-2021 Atlantic mackerel specifications. These 
specifications include 10,000 mt for expected Canadian catch, 1,209 mt 
for expected recreational catch, a 3-percent management uncertainty 
buffer, and an assumed 0.37 percent commercial discard rate. The 
10,000-mt Canadian catch deduction is based on the 2018 Canadian catch 
limit set by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The 
1,209-mt recreational catch is based on the total median recreational 
catch from 2013-2017. The 3-percent management uncertainty buffer is a 
reduction from the 10-percent buffer used in recent specifications due 
to the in-season closure measures proposed in Framework 13 that would 
slow the fishery by reducing possession limits in a phased approach. 
The proposed changes to the in-season measures reduce the need for a 
larger management uncertainty buffer to achieve optimum yield and 
facilitate effective operation of the mackerel fishery while reducing 
the likelihood of exceeding the ACL, and are described in the next 
section. The 31,764 mt overfishing limit (OFL) is defined for only 
2019. The SSC determined that it could not set the OFL for 2020 and 
2021 because there is too much uncertainty in the actual 2019 catch, 
given the early in-season closure and likely resulting stock size. 
However, in the temporary absence of an OFL, based on recent catch data 
and projected trends in stock biomass showing annual growth, the 
defined ABC for 2020 and 2021 is sufficient to prevent overfishing, 
when combined with the proposed changes for in-season closure 
provisions that are described below. In addition, an updated stock 
assessment for Atlantic

[[Page 26637]]

mackerel will be completed in 2020, which NMFS expects will enable the 
SSC and Council to develop and set the OFL for 2021 through 2023. 
Finally, 0.37 percent of expected commercial catch would be set aside 
for expected discards based on the 2012-2016 discards, which accounted 
for 0.37 percent of catch in the recent benchmark assessment. The 
Council will review each component of the Atlantic mackerel 
specifications annually, and will consider the results of an updated 
stock assessment in 2020 to refine future specifications.

                                   Table 1--Proposed 2019-2021 Specifications
                                                      [mt]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2019            2020            2021
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit...............................................          31,764             N/A             N/A
Total ABC.......................................................          29,184          32,480          33,474
Canadian Deduction..............................................          10,000          10,000          10,000
U.S. ABC-ACL (expected Canadian catch deducted).................          19,184          22,480          23,474
Recreational Allocation.........................................           1,209           1,209           1,209
Commercial Allocation...........................................          17,975          21,271          22,265
Management Uncertainty Buffer 3%................................             539             638             669
Commercial ACT..................................................          17,436          20,633          21,597
DAH (ACT minus 0.37% discard rate)..............................          17,371          20,557          21,517
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. In-Season Closure Provisions

    The mackerel fishery is variable in production, especially given 
its mixed-fishery nature with Atlantic herring. This results in 
potentially leaving a higher than expected amount of quota uncaught. 
Setting a larger management uncertainty buffer and lower percentage 
catch triggers may be more likely to avoid ACL overages (which must be 
paid back) but also more likely to leave quota uncaught. Smaller 
management uncertainty buffers and higher percentage catch triggers 
will be more likely to catch the quota but also more likely to lead to 
ACL overages.
    In order to achieve optimum yield and effectively use the available 
commercial landings, Framework 13 proposes to adjust the in-season 
closure measures for the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery. The 
proposed measures would require an in-season closure of the limited 
access commercial fishery when 90 percent of the DAH is projected to be 
landed. Once that trigger is reached, the Regional Administrator would 
reduce Atlantic mackerel possession limits to 40,000 lb (18,144 kg) per 
trip for Tier 1-3 limited access Atlantic mackerel permits and to 5,000 
lb (2,268 kg) for open access permits. When 98 percent of the DAH is 
projected to be landed, the Regional Administrator would implement a 
5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit for all permits for the rest of the 
fishing year to cover remaining incidental catches. The proposed 
measures would also give the Regional Administrator the discretion to 
not implement these triggered possession limit reductions in November 
and December if landings are not projected to exceed the DAH by the end 
of the year. This measure is intended to increase the likelihood that 
optimum yield can be harvested, while still minimizing the likelihood 
of an overage by limiting this authority to November and December at 
the end of the fishing year.
    The proposed in-season management measures would reduce the 
possibility of ACL overages and help preserve fishing opportunities for 
the trawl-based herring fishery. However, we note that it may 
negatively affect a few participants in a small-scale Atlantic mackerel 
jig fishery, if the Atlantic mackerel fishery closures are triggered. 
Using July-December jig/handline landings from 2015-2017, a 5,000-lb 
(2,268-kg) trip limit would have impacted 21 federally-permitted open 
access vessels. Twenty-one vessels represent one percent of the entire 
Atlantic mackerel fleet, two percent of small businesses within the 
fleet, and seven percent of businesses that rely solely on Atlantic 
mackerel. Due to the small-scale Atlantic mackerel jig fishery using 
open access permits, participation in the fishery may increase in the 
future. It is also possible that with the higher Atlantic mackerel 
quotas closures would not occur, so the 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit 
for incidental permits may not be triggered. Further, the possession 
limit after a closure due to the river herring and shad catch cap 
remains at 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) for all Atlantic mackerel vessels. We 
have included a summary of the economic impacts on this fleet in the 
``Classification'' section of this rule.

5. River Herring and Shad Catch Cap

    In 2014, Amendment 14 to the FMP (February 24, 2014; 79 FR 10029) 
implemented a catch cap to manage the bycatch of river herring and shad 
in the Atlantic mackerel fishery. Once reached, Atlantic mackerel 
possession limits are reduced to 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) for the rest of 
the year, which effectively closes the limited access Atlantic mackerel 
fishery. To continue to manage river herring and shad catch in the 
Atlantic mackerel fishery, this action would revise the existing catch 
cap based on the proposed 2019-2021 Atlantic mackerel quotas. The catch 
caps are monitored based on river herring and shad bycatch recorded in 
observer and portside sampling data for mackerel trips by limited 
access vessels, or trips in which at least 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) of 
Atlantic mackerel are landed.
    The proposed measures would scale the river herring and shad catch 
cap with Atlantic mackerel landings. The initial cap would be set at 89 
mt for 2019-2021, but could increase if the fishery can first land 
10,000 mt of Atlantic mackerel without hitting the initial 89-mt river 
herring and shad catch cap in each year, which was the cap limit in 
2015. The 89-mt cap represents the median annual river herring and shad 
catch by all vessels landing over 20,000 lb (9,071 kg) of mackerel per 
trip from 2005-2012. Data used to establish the original river herring 
and shad catch cap in Amendment 14 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and 
Butterfish FMP found that Atlantic mackerel landings would be limited 
to around 10,000 mt, the approximate DAH at the time of implementation 
(February 24, 2014; 79 FR 10029). The catch cap would increase to 129 
mt in 2019, 152 mt in 2020, and 159 mt in 2021 due to the proposed 
increasing Atlantic mackerel DAHs under the proposed rebuilding plan. 
This scaling provision is meant to provide incentives to reduce river 
herring and shad bycatch, particularly as the Atlantic mackerel quotas 
would increase in the next few years,

[[Page 26638]]

regardless of the rate of mackerel catches. The potential increased 
catch caps are determined by multiplying each year's Atlantic mackerel 
DAH by 0.74 percent, which is the same river herring/shad bycatch ratio 
used in 2015. This is a lower ratio than used in 2018 (0.89 percent), 
so there would be a strong incentive for the fishery to avoid river 
herring and shad to increase the likelihood of fully harvesting the 
available Atlantic mackerel DAH in each year.

5. Corrections and Clarifications to Existing Regulations

    This proposed rule includes additional revisions to address 
regulatory text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. These 
revisions were not adopted by the Council under Framework 13, but are 
consistent with section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which 
provides authority to the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate 
regulations necessary to ensure that amendments to an FMP are carried 
out in accordance with the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This 
proposed rule would modify Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A) and Sec.  
648.24(b)(6), to reference ``limited access'' and ``open access'' 
permits instead of the ``directed'' and ``incidental'' fishery to be 
clear and consistent with the regulations being added and changed with 
this action.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Framework Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Mackerel, 
Squid, and Butterfish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after 
public comment. In making a final determination, NMFS will take into 
account the data, views, and comments received during the comment 
period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Council prepared a draft EA for this action that analyzes the 
impact of measures contained in this proposed rule. The EA includes a 
regulatory flexibility analysis, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is supplemented by information 
contained in the preamble of this proposed rule. The IRFA, as 
summarized below, describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if 
adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why 
it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are 
contained in the preamble to this proposed rule. A copy of the RFA 
analysis is available from the Mid-Atlantic Council (see ADDRESSES).

Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered

    The purpose of this action is to establish a 5-year rebuilding 
program for Atlantic mackerel, set 2019-2021 Atlantic mackerel 
specifications and a river herring and shad cap for the Atlantic 
mackerel fishery, and modify in-season closure measures. The intended 
effect of this rule is to sustainably manage the Atlantic mackerel 
fishery and achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis. Section 4.0 of 
the EA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES) contains a more 
thorough description of the purpose and need for this action.

Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule

    The legal basis and objectives for this action are contained in the 
preamble to this proposed rule, and are not repeated here. Sections 4.0 
and 5.0 of the EA prepared for this action (see ADDRESSES) contains a 
more thorough description of the purpose and need for this action and 
the rational for each measure considered.

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

    The measures proposed in this action apply to vessels that hold any 
commercial permit for Atlantic mackerel. We analyzed the impacts using 
NMFS's database for Atlantic mackerel permit holders in 2017 (the most 
recent year of full year permit data) cross referenced with NMFS 
ownership data. Some small entities own multiple vessels with Atlantic 
mackerel permits. For purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, NMFS 
established a small business size standard for businesses, including 
their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 
CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS 
code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently 
owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation 
(including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in 
excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The 
determination of whether the entity is large or small is based on the 
average annual revenue for the most recent 3 years for which data are 
available. In 2017, 1,829 separate vessels held Atlantic mackerel 
permits. These vessels were owned by 1,379 entities, nearly all of 
which (1,368) were small business entities. Based on revenue from all 
species landed, 951 of these were commercial fishing entities, 116 were 
for-hire entities, and 301 had no revenue, but are considered small 
businesses. For those small businesses with revenues, average revenues 
were $0.6 million in 2017. There were 299 entities that reported 
revenue from Atlantic mackerel during 2017. Of these entities, 4 were 
large and 295 were small. In 2017, 145 vessels were issued limited 
access permits and may be affected by the directed fishery closure 
measures proposed in this action. They are owned by 105 entities, of 
which 98 are small entities.

Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements of This Proposed Rule

    This action does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

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

    In addition to the no action (no rebuilding, current specifications 
continue), the Council considered three rebuilding alternatives with 
time frames of: 3 years; 5 years; and 7 years. All of the rebuilding 
alternatives allow an increase in landings over time and have positive 
long-term socio-economic benefits compared to taking no action. The 3-
year rebuilding program would require a cut in quota in the first year 
with increases in the second and third years, compared to the current 
quota. The 5-year and 7-year rebuilding program specifications would 
significantly increase the allowable quota by over 8,000 mt in the 
first year, with increases in subsequent years. The 7-year program 
would allow a larger quota increase, compared to the 5-year program. 
The 5-year program was selected because it would rebuild the fishery 
within the 5-year timeframe, before the 7-year program, while 
considering the economic needs of fishing communities. The proposed 5-
year rebuilding program would result in an additional $9 million in 
fishing revenue annually in 2020-2021, compared to 2020-2021 under the 
no action alternative (which would continue current specifications).
    The in-season closure alternatives would achieve efficient 
operation of the fishery by allowing most of the DAH to be caught 
without a high risk of

[[Page 26639]]

exceeding the annual catch limit. The difference in socioeconomic 
outcomes is related to the DAHs selected in the proposed rebuilding 
program and associated specifications in relation to the proposed 
changes to the in-season closure provisions, which would result in 
slight changes to fishery operation. Closing the limited access fishery 
earlier, as proposed and maintaining larger trip limits may benefit 
smaller scale operators later in the year, but reduces available quota 
for the larger scale limited access fishery. However, preserving a 
higher trip limit after an Atlantic mackerel fishery closure may help 
larger scale entities offset the impacts of an earlier closure by 
allowing more incidental Atlantic mackerel catch in other fisheries, 
particularly Atlantic herring.
    Limiting incidental landings to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) once the 
directed fishery closes is a measure in all of the proposed 
alternatives other than the no action alternative. While this would 
reduce the possibility of ACL overages, there is a small-scale directed 
Atlantic mackerel jig/handline fishery that has developed in recent 
years by vessels with open access permits. Using July-December jig/
handline landings from 2015-2017, a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit 
would have impacted 21 federally-permitted vessels. If those vessels 
had been limited to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) during those 3 years, their 
combined Atlantic mackerel landings would have been reduced by 17 
percent. Individual vessel Atlantic mackerel landings for these 21 
vessels would have been impacted with an average and median reduction 
of 13 percent. Based on the average 2015-2017 price from July-December 
jig/handline trips of $0.45 per lb, individual vessels would have 
approximately lost, over a total of 3 years, an average of $14,773 and 
a median of $5,171. The least impacted would have experienced losses of 
around $104 and the most would be around $108,917 in ex-vessel revenues 
over three years. The proportion of total revenues from Atlantic 
mackerel for these 21 vessels was an average of 23 percent and a median 
of 20 percent, with a range of 1 percent to 93 percent. The 21 vessels 
that may be impacted are 1 percent of the entire Atlantic mackerel 
fleet, 2 percent of small businesses within the fleet, and 7 percent of 
businesses that solely rely on Atlantic mackerel. It is also possible 
that with the higher Atlantic mackerel quotas closures would not occur, 
so the 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit for incidental permits may not be 
triggered.
    The Council considered alternatives for the river herring and shad 
catch cap for the Atlantic mackerel fishery. The proposed measures are 
a combination of alternatives that would increase the river herring and 
shad catch cap but scale the ratio of river herring and shad in the 
Atlantic mackerel fishery when landings are above 10,000 mt. If the 
river herring and shad catch triggers a closure under any of the 
alternatives, the 145 vessels with limited access permits are 
potentially affected, and they represent 105 entities, of which 98 are 
small entities. If the river herring and shad encounter rates are 
relatively low, as in most years the cap has been in operation (2014-
2017), then they will not be impacted at all. If river herring and shad 
catch encounter rates are high, as in 2018 and 2019, then it is 
possible that a substantial portion of the mackerel DAH could go 
unharvested once the directed fishery is closed due to exceeding the 
river herring and shad catch cap.
    Under the proposed action, if the fishery has a similar encounter 
rate as 2018 and 2019, when the fishery was closed early in the year, 
Atlantic mackerel landings could still close the limited access fishery 
with the higher DAHs because the river herring and shad catch cap is 
scaled up with the quota and landings. The fishery landed about 8,000 
mt, or nearly 88 percent of the DAH before the river herring and shad 
catch cap closed the fishery in 2018. In 2019, the fishery landed about 
4,145 mt, or 45 percent of the DAH before the river herring and shad 
catch cap closed the fishery. The proposed 89 mt river herring and shad 
catch cap is slightly higher than the current catch cap of 82 mt, so 
under the proposed action, there would be a closure at approximately 
8,700 mt at 2018 catch rates. Atlantic mackerel landings could 
increase, but they would be limited compared to the proposed 2020-2021 
DAHs of 20,557 mt and 21,517 mt, respectively. Looking at the 
differences, this would leave, for 2020-2021 DAHs, 11,857 mt and 12,817 
mt, respectively, unharvested. If high river herring and shad catch 
rates trigger a closure of the directed fishery, the fishery may 
experience an opportunity cost of up to $7.7 million in forgone revenue 
if the proposed DAHs are not fully landed. This would not be a decrease 
in revenue, but a limit to a potential increase in revenue if the river 
herring and shad catch cap were reached. The proposed action 
combination provides more flexibility to allow the fishery to continue 
than all of the other alternatives considered.
    If the river herring and shad catch cap is triggered, the Atlantic 
mackerel trip limit for all permits becomes 20,000 lb (9,071 kg), which 
is not a change from the current measures. Under the proposed changes 
for in-season closures, if 90 percent of the DAH was caught, incidental 
permits would go to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). In the next in-season closure 
phase of the fishery, if 98 percent of the DAH was caught, all permits 
would go to a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trip limit. During a river herring 
and shad catch cap closure, a 20,000-lb (9,071-kg) trip limit would be 
most likely, which would allow more DAH to be available than in an in-
season closure.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: June 3, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  648.21, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.21   Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council risk policy.

* * * * *
    (c) Most restrictive ABC recommendation.
    (1) Unless otherwise allowed in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, 
for instances in which the application of the risk policy approaches in 
either paragraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section using OFL distribution, 
as applicable given life history determination, results in a more 
restrictive ABC recommendation than the calculation of ABC derived from 
the use of FREBUILD at the MAFMC-specified overfishing risk 
level as outlined in paragraph (a) of this section, the SSC shall 
recommend to the MAFMC the lower of the ABC values.
    (2) The SSC may specify higher 2019-2023 ABCs for Atlantic mackerel 
based on FREBUILD instead of the methods outlined in 
paragraph (a) of this section to implement a rebuilding program that 
would rebuild this stock by 2023.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.24, revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (6) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.24   Fishery closures and accountability measures.

* * * * *

[[Page 26640]]

    (b) * * *
    (1) Atlantic mackerel commercial sector EEZ closure. (i) First 
phase commercial closure. (A) Unless otherwise determined in paragraph 
(b)(1)(iii) of this section, NMFS will close the commercial Atlantic 
mackerel fishery, which includes vessels issued an open access or 
limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, including a limited access 
Tier 3 Atlantic mackerel permit, in the EEZ when the Regional 
Administrator projects that 90 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH is 
harvested if such a closure is necessary to prevent the DAH from being 
exceeded. The closure of the commercial fishery shall be in effect for 
the remainder of that fishing year, with incidental catches allowed, as 
specified in Sec.  648.26.
    (B) Unless previously closed pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(i)(A) of 
this section, NMFS will close the Tier 3 commercial mackerel fishery in 
the EEZ when the Regional Administrator projects that 90 percent of the 
Tier 3 mackerel allocation will be harvested. Unless otherwise 
restricted, the closure of the Tier 3 commercial mackerel fishery will 
be in effect for the remainder of that fishing period, with incidental 
catches allowed as specified in Sec.  648.26.
    (ii) Second phase commercial quota closure. When the Regional 
Administrator projects that 98 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH 
will be landed, NMFS will reduce the possession of Atlantic mackerel in 
the EEZ applicable to all Atlantic mackerel permits for the remainder 
of the fishing year as specified in Sec.  648.26(a)(2)(iii)(A).
    (iii) Seasonal management. NMFS has the discretion to not implement 
measures outlined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i)(A) or (b)(1)(ii) of this 
section during November and December if the Regional Administrator 
projects that commercial Atlantic mackerel landings will not exceed the 
DAH during the remainder of the fishing year.
* * * * *
    (6) River herring and shad catch cap. The river herring and shad 
cap on the mackerel fishery applies to all trips that land more than 
20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of mackerel. NMFS shall close the limited access 
mackerel fishery in the EEZ when the Regional Administrator project 
that 95 percent of the river herring/shad catch cap has been harvested. 
Following closures of the limited access mackerel fishery, vessels must 
adhere to the possession restrictions specified in Sec.  648.26.
0
4. In Sec.  648.26, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iii) and 
paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.26   Mackerel, squid, and butterfish possession restrictions.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) A vessel issued a Tier 1 limited access mackerel permit is 
authorized to fish for, possess, or land Atlantic mackerel with no 
possession restriction in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic 
mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period 
beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the 
fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been 
harvested, as specified in Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A).
    (ii) A vessel issued a Tier 2 limited access mackerel permit is 
authorized to fish for, possess, or land up to 135,000 lb (61.23 mt) of 
Atlantic mackerel in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic 
mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period 
beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the 
fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been 
harvested, as specified in Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A).
    (iii) A vessel issued a Tier 3 limited access mackerel permit is 
authorized to fish for, possess, or land up to 100,000 lb (45.36 mt) of 
Atlantic mackerel in the EEZ per trip, and may only land Atlantic 
mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period 
beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours, provided that the 
fishery has not been closed because 90 percent of the DAH has been 
harvested, or 90 percent of the Tier 3 allocation has been harvested, 
as specified in Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A) and (B), respectively.
* * * * *
    (2) Atlantic mackerel closure possession restrictions. Any Atlantic 
mackerel possession restrictions implemented under paragraph (a)(2) of 
this section will remain in place for the rest of the fishing year, 
unless further restricted by a subsequent action. If the entire 
commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery is closed due to harvesting the 
river herring/shad catch cap, as specified in Sec.  648.24(b)(6) before 
the fishery harvests 90 percent of the Atlantic mackerel DAH, then the 
Atlantic mackerel possession restrictions specified in paragraph 
(a)(2)(iii)(B) of this section shall remain in place for the rest of 
the fishing year unless further reduced by the possession restrictions 
specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii)(A) of this section.
    (i) Limited Access Fishery. (A) During a closure of the commercial 
Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A), when 90 
percent of the DAH is harvested, vessels issued a Tier 1, 2, or 3 
limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, may not take and retain, 
possess, or land more than 40,000 lb (18.14 mt) of Atlantic mackerel 
per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any 
calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 
hours and ending at 2400 hours.
    (B) During a closure of the Tier 3 commercial Atlantic mackerel 
fishery pursuant to Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(B), when 90 percent of the 
Tier 3 allocation is harvested, vessels issued a Tier 3 limited access 
Atlantic mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more 
than 20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and 
may only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is 
defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 
hours
    (ii) Open Access Fishery. During a closure of the Atlantic mackerel 
commercial sector pursuant to Sec.  648.24(b)(1)(i)(A), when 90 percent 
of the DAH is harvested, vessels issued an open access Atlantic 
mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 
5,000 lb (2.27 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may 
only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined 
as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours.
    (iii) Entire commercial fishery.
    (A) Commercial quota closure. During a closure of the entire 
commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to Sec.  
648.24(b)(1)(ii), when 98 percent of the DAH is harvested, vessels 
issued an open or limited access Atlantic mackerel permit may not take 
and retain, possess, or land more than 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) of Atlantic 
mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land Atlantic mackerel once 
on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 
0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours.
    (B) River herring/shad catch cap closure. During a closure of the 
limited access commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery pursuant to Sec.  
648.24(b)(6), when 95 percent of the river herring/shad catch cap has 
been harvested, vessels issued an open or limited access Atlantic 
mackerel permit may not take and retain, possess, or land more than 
20,000 lb (9.08 mt) of Atlantic mackerel per trip at any time, and may 
only land Atlantic mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined 
as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2019-12033 Filed 6-6-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P