Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Modifications To Reduce Serious Injury and Mortality of Large Whales in Commercial Trap/Pot Fisheries Along the U.S. East Coast, 37822-37824 [2019-16487]

Download as PDF 37822 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Proposed Rules changed in the interim. As a result, OIG is withdrawing the following Proposed Rule to eliminate any confusion that could result from their presence in the public domain: The Proposed Rule, Health Care Programs: Fraud and Abuse; Civil Money Penalties for Hospital Physician Incentive Plans (59 FR 61571, December 1, 1994), would have codified in regulations OIG’s authority to levy CMPs when a hospital knowingly makes incentive payments to a physician as an inducement for reducing services to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries). II. Regulatory Impact We expect minimal regulatory impact and reaction because of the passage of time since the Proposed Rule was published and because, to our knowledge, the public is not currently relying on, and may be unaware of, it. Joanne M. Chiedi, Acting Inspector General. Dated: July 25, 2019. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2019–16343 Filed 8–1–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4152–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 229 RIN 0648–XX003 Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Modifications To Reduce Serious Injury and Mortality of Large Whales in Commercial Trap/Pot Fisheries Along the U.S. East Coast National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare environmental impact statement, request for comments. AGENCY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to begin a rulemaking process that will amend the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (Plan) to reduce the risk of serious injuries and mortalities to North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and other large whales caused by entanglement in commercial trap/pot fisheries along the U.S. East Coast. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze the impacts to the jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:36 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 environment of alternatives to amend the Plan. This notice informs the public of upcoming scoping meetings to solicit public comments on ways to reduce the risk of entanglement in trap and pot fisheries for right, humpback, and finback whales. NMFS requests comments on management options for this action, particularly including information about operational challenges, time, and costs required to modify gear by changing configurations such as traps per trawl to reduce endline numbers, installing new line or sleeves, and by expanding gear marking requirements. Team recommendations and additional risk reduction measures identified during Team discussions and during this scoping period will form the basis of the alternatives that will be analyzed through the EIS process. DATES: Written or electronic scoping comments must be received at the appropriate address or email mailbox (see ADDRESSES) September 16, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments by sending an email to nmfs.gar.ALWTRT2019@ noaa.gov using the subject line ‘‘Comments on Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Scoping.’’ • Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2276. Mark the outside of the envelope: ‘‘Comments on Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Scoping.’’ Comments can also be provided in person during scoping meetings, listed below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Coogan, Take Reduction Team Coordinator, Greater Atlantic Region. Telephone: 978 281–9181. Address: 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Email: colleen.coogan@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dates, Times and Locations The dates, times, and locations of scoping meetings are scheduled as follows: 1. Thursday, August 8, 2019— Narragansett, RI, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Corless Auditorium, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882 2. Monday, August 12, 2019—Machias, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 University of Maine at Machias, Performing Arts Center, 116 O’Brien Avenue, Machias, ME 04654 3. Tuesday, August 13, 2019— Ellsworth, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Ellsworth High School Performing Arts Center, 24 Lejok Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605 4. Wednesday, August 14, 2019— Waldoboro, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Medomak Valley High School, 320 Manktown Road, Waldoboro, Maine 04572 5. Thursday, August 15, 2019— Portland, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. South Portland High School, 637 Highland Ave., South Portland ME, 04106 6. Monday, August 19, 2019— Portsmouth, NH, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801 7. Tuesday, August 20, 2019— Gloucester, MA, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930 8. Wednesday, August 21, 2019— Bourne, MA, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, 220 Sandwich Rd., Bourne, MA 02352 Background The North Atlantic right whale population has been declining since 2010, and the most recent estimate indicates a population of no more than 411 individuals at the end of 2017. The decline has been exacerbated by an Unusual Mortality Event in 2017, following a calving season (2016–2017) with only five documented births and coinciding with the first calving season since monitoring began in 1990 with no new births documented (2017–2018). While climate change and the availability and redistribution of prey appear to be contributing to the population’s declining fitness, a primary cause of significant injury and mortality of North Atlantic right whales is entanglement in fishing gear. With mortalities continuing to outpace births, the population decline is continuing, and further mitigation of entanglements that cause serious injury or mortality is needed. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) mandates that NMFS develop and implement Take Reduction Plans for preventing the depletion and assisting in the recovery of certain marine mammal stocks that are seriously injured or killed in commercial fisheries. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS convenes Take Reduction Teams, composed of stakeholders that make E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1 37823 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Proposed Rules recommendations for reducing serious injuries and deaths to acceptable levels. The teams design each plan to reduce bycatch within a specific timeframe through a combination of voluntary and regulatory measures implemented by NMFS. Right whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and considered depleted under the MMPA. NMFS formed the Team in 1997 to consider serious injuries and mortalities caused by incidental take in commercial fisheries of right whales as well as humpback and fin whales. The Team develops and recommends measures to reduce the impact of commercial fisheries on large whales in the Atlantic to achieve the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. This level is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population. The Team has previously implemented several regulations to reduce the impacts of fishing gear on large whales in the region, such as area closures, gear configuration requirements, and gear marking rules. The most recent rule in 2014, amended in 2015, was implemented to reduce the risk of entanglement by decreasing the number of buoy lines, vertical lines in the water column that identify where fishing gear is set and allow fishermen to retrieve the gear. During a meeting in April 2019, the Team provided near-consensus recommendations to NMFS to reduce entanglements that cause right whale serious injuries and mortalities in trap/ pot gear in New England waters by more than half to achieve the PBR level of less than one right whale per year in New England trap/pot fisheries. At the 2019 meeting, the Team discussed several management options to decrease the risk and severity of entanglements in these fisheries including: Vertical line reduction through trap or line limits and ropeless fishing technologies, gear modifications to reduce the breaking strength of ropes so entangled whales could break free, and area closures where right whales can be predicted to aggregate seasonally. Ultimately, all but one Team member present recommended jurisdiction-specific vertical line reductions and gear modifications. TABLE 1—APRIL 2019 TAKE REDUCTION FRAMEWORK April 2019 take reduction framework State/jurisdiction Vertical line reduction Gear modification Maine permitted vessels through LMA1. 50% vertical line reduction through LMA1 (50% risk reduction). NH LMA1 ......................... 30% vertical line reduction (30% risk reduction) .. Massachusetts LMA1 and Outer Cape. Mass Bay Restricted Area Closure (24% risk reduction). 30% vertical line reduction, not including MBRA fishermen (¥5%) (25% risk reduction). 18% (2018–2020) vertical line reduction (18% risk reduction). Trawling up to 30 traps (from 20) (30% risk reduction for that area). Accelerate planned line reduction (18% risk reduction). LMA 1—Weak rope outside of 3 miles on 3⁄4 length of buoy line (toppers) (11.6% risk reduction). 1700 lb. breaking strength or sleeves (28.5% risk reduction). Sleeves or 1700 lb. breaking strength or equivalent. (11% risk reduction). jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS LMA 2—Massachusetts and Rhode Island. LMA 2⁄3 Overlap—Massachusetts, Rhode Island. LMA 3 .............................. In addition to changes in line numbers and strength, the Team strongly supported amplification of gear marking requirements to reduce uncertainty about where and in what fisheries large whales are entangled. During a June 2019 teleconference, the Team supported consideration of expanding the markings on buoy lines to all U.S. fixed gear fisheries including previously exempted waters, increasing spatial resolution in nearshore New England fisheries (‘‘red’’ areas), adding a three-foot long mark within one fathom of the surface buoy system, and increasing the frequency of marks on buoy lines. Further information regarding that discussion can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xmSS3. Further information about the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan can be found at the website: https://go.usa.gov/xmSKh. Further VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:36 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 1700 lb. or equivalent ............................................ Rapid research on alternatives to introduce weak rope or weak link elements in to offshore line. Environmental Impact Statement NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect the human environment. NMFS has determined that an EIS should be prepared under NEPA for the purpose of informing rulemaking to modify the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. We will prepare an EIS in accordance with NEPA requirements, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500–1508); and other Federal laws, regulations, and policies. Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 61.6. 58.5. 60. 60. (42% risk reduction). information about the April 2019 Team meeting that resulted in the recommendations to modify the Take Reduction Plan can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xmSk3. PO 00000 Est. % risk reduction Sfmt 4702 18% + TBD Commit to 60%. The Proposed Action for analysis in the Final EIS is NMFS rulemaking to modify the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. NMFS’ purpose for the proposed action is to fulfill the mandates of the MMPA to reduce impacts of fisheries on large whale species below their PBR level. The EIS will consider the Team’s recommendations to reduce vertical lines by changing gear reconfigurations and/or trap allocations to reduce buoy lines and to modify gear to require rope that whales can break. Additional buoy line marking will likely also be considered as part of this rulemaking. Additions or modifications to areas closed to trap/pot fishing may also be considered. Measures to be considered will respect the framework adopted by the Team to include area-specific measures that are operationally feasible for the varying gear configurations and E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1 37824 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 149 / Friday, August 2, 2019 / Proposed Rules lobster fishing conditions across New England. Measures will be created in collaboration with New England states and will take into account any measures states propose as they respond to Team recommendations. Public Comments jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with PROPOSALS Everyone potentially impacted by or interested in changes to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan, and particularly, management of trap/pot fisheries in New England, is invited to participate in the public scoping process by submitting written comments or attending public scoping meetings. This scoping process aims to gather input VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:36 Aug 01, 2019 Jkt 247001 regarding the scope of actions to be proposed for rulemaking, the development of alternatives to analyze in the EIS, and the potential impact of management actions. NMFS particularly requests comments and input on the operational challenges of gear modifications likely to be considered. In addition to direct costs of replacing new gear, input is requested on indirect cost of gear modification measure alternatives, such as costs in time required to install sleeves, install weak rope, and mark gear and costs related to fewer vertical lines or seasonal closures. Comments and suggestions that are within the scope of the proposed actions PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 to reduce risk of serious injury and mortality of large whales due to entanglements and to improve gear marking to reduce uncertainty about where entanglements occur will be considered when developing the alternatives for analysis in the draft EIS. Previous comments that have already been received regarding a proposed rule are already being considered and do not need to be resubmitted. Dated: July 29, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–16487 Filed 7–31–19; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\02AUP1.SGM 02AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 149 (Friday, August 2, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 37822-37824]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-16487]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 229

RIN 0648-XX003


Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Modifications To Reduce 
Serious Injury and Mortality of Large Whales in Commercial Trap/Pot 
Fisheries Along the U.S. East Coast

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

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare environmental impact statement, 
request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to begin 
a rulemaking process that will amend the Atlantic Large Whale Take 
Reduction Plan (Plan) to reduce the risk of serious injuries and 
mortalities to North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and 
other large whales caused by entanglement in commercial trap/pot 
fisheries along the U.S. East Coast. An Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze the impacts to the environment of 
alternatives to amend the Plan.
    This notice informs the public of upcoming scoping meetings to 
solicit public comments on ways to reduce the risk of entanglement in 
trap and pot fisheries for right, humpback, and finback whales.
    NMFS requests comments on management options for this action, 
particularly including information about operational challenges, time, 
and costs required to modify gear by changing configurations such as 
traps per trawl to reduce endline numbers, installing new line or 
sleeves, and by expanding gear marking requirements. Team 
recommendations and additional risk reduction measures identified 
during Team discussions and during this scoping period will form the 
basis of the alternatives that will be analyzed through the EIS 
process.

DATES: Written or electronic scoping comments must be received at the 
appropriate address or email mailbox (see ADDRESSES) September 16, 
2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document by either of the 
following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments by sending an email to [email protected] using the 
subject line ``Comments on Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan 
Scoping.''
     Mail: Submit written comments to Michael Pentony, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2276. Mark the outside of the envelope: 
``Comments on Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Scoping.''
    Comments can also be provided in person during scoping meetings, 
listed below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Coogan, Take Reduction Team 
Coordinator, Greater Atlantic Region. Telephone: 978 281-9181. Address: 
55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Dates, Times and Locations

    The dates, times, and locations of scoping meetings are scheduled 
as follows:

1. Thursday, August 8, 2019--Narragansett, RI, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Corless Auditorium, 215 South 
Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882
2. Monday, August 12, 2019--Machias, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
University of Maine at Machias, Performing Arts Center, 116 O'Brien 
Avenue, Machias, ME 04654
3. Tuesday, August 13, 2019--Ellsworth, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Ellsworth High School Performing Arts Center, 24 Lejok Street, 
Ellsworth, ME 04605
4. Wednesday, August 14, 2019--Waldoboro, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Medomak Valley High School, 320 Manktown Road, Waldoboro, Maine 04572
5. Thursday, August 15, 2019--Portland, ME, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
South Portland High School, 637 Highland Ave., South Portland ME, 04106
6. Monday, August 19, 2019--Portsmouth, NH, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801
7. Tuesday, August 20, 2019--Gloucester, MA, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region, 55 Great Republic Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930
8. Wednesday, August 21, 2019--Bourne, MA, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, 220 Sandwich Rd., Bourne, MA 
02352

Background

    The North Atlantic right whale population has been declining since 
2010, and the most recent estimate indicates a population of no more 
than 411 individuals at the end of 2017. The decline has been 
exacerbated by an Unusual Mortality Event in 2017, following a calving 
season (2016-2017) with only five documented births and coinciding with 
the first calving season since monitoring began in 1990 with no new 
births documented (2017-2018). While climate change and the 
availability and redistribution of prey appear to be contributing to 
the population's declining fitness, a primary cause of significant 
injury and mortality of North Atlantic right whales is entanglement in 
fishing gear. With mortalities continuing to outpace births, the 
population decline is continuing, and further mitigation of 
entanglements that cause serious injury or mortality is needed.
    The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) mandates that NMFS develop 
and implement Take Reduction Plans for preventing the depletion and 
assisting in the recovery of certain marine mammal stocks that are 
seriously injured or killed in commercial fisheries. Pursuant to the 
MMPA, NMFS convenes Take Reduction Teams, composed of stakeholders that 
make

[[Page 37823]]

recommendations for reducing serious injuries and deaths to acceptable 
levels. The teams design each plan to reduce bycatch within a specific 
timeframe through a combination of voluntary and regulatory measures 
implemented by NMFS.
    Right whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species 
Act and considered depleted under the MMPA. NMFS formed the Team in 
1997 to consider serious injuries and mortalities caused by incidental 
take in commercial fisheries of right whales as well as humpback and 
fin whales. The Team develops and recommends measures to reduce the 
impact of commercial fisheries on large whales in the Atlantic to 
achieve the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. This level is 
defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including 
natural mortalities that may be removed from a marine mammal stock 
while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable 
population.
    The Team has previously implemented several regulations to reduce 
the impacts of fishing gear on large whales in the region, such as area 
closures, gear configuration requirements, and gear marking rules. The 
most recent rule in 2014, amended in 2015, was implemented to reduce 
the risk of entanglement by decreasing the number of buoy lines, 
vertical lines in the water column that identify where fishing gear is 
set and allow fishermen to retrieve the gear.
    During a meeting in April 2019, the Team provided near-consensus 
recommendations to NMFS to reduce entanglements that cause right whale 
serious injuries and mortalities in trap/pot gear in New England waters 
by more than half to achieve the PBR level of less than one right whale 
per year in New England trap/pot fisheries. At the 2019 meeting, the 
Team discussed several management options to decrease the risk and 
severity of entanglements in these fisheries including: Vertical line 
reduction through trap or line limits and ropeless fishing 
technologies, gear modifications to reduce the breaking strength of 
ropes so entangled whales could break free, and area closures where 
right whales can be predicted to aggregate seasonally. Ultimately, all 
but one Team member present recommended jurisdiction-specific vertical 
line reductions and gear modifications.

                                  Table 1--April 2019 Take Reduction Framework
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       April 2019 take reduction framework
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                 Est. % risk
        State/jurisdiction            Vertical line reduction        Gear modification            reduction
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Maine permitted vessels through     50% vertical line           LMA 1--Weak rope outside    61.6.
 LMA1.                               reduction through LMA1      of 3 miles on \3/4\
                                     (50% risk reduction).       length of buoy line
                                                                 (toppers) (11.6% risk
                                                                 reduction).
NH LMA1...........................  30% vertical line           1700 lb. breaking strength  58.5.
                                     reduction (30% risk         or sleeves (28.5% risk
                                     reduction).                 reduction).
Massachusetts LMA1 and Outer Cape.  Mass Bay Restricted Area    Sleeves or 1700 lb.         60.
                                     Closure (24% risk           breaking strength or
                                     reduction).                 equivalent.
                                    30% vertical line           (11% risk reduction)......
                                     reduction, not including
                                     MBRA fishermen (-5%) (25%
                                     risk reduction).
LMA 2--Massachusetts and Rhode      18% (2018-2020) vertical    1700 lb. or equivalent....  60.
 Island.                             line reduction (18% risk
                                     reduction).
LMA \2/3\ Overlap--Massachusetts,   Trawling up to 30 traps     (42% risk reduction)......
 Rhode Island.                       (from 20) (30% risk
                                     reduction for that area).
LMA 3.............................  Accelerate planned line     Rapid research on           18% + TBD Commit to
                                     reduction (18% risk         alternatives to introduce   60%.
                                     reduction).                 weak rope or weak link
                                                                 elements in to offshore
                                                                 line.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to changes in line numbers and strength, the Team 
strongly supported amplification of gear marking requirements to reduce 
uncertainty about where and in what fisheries large whales are 
entangled. During a June 2019 teleconference, the Team supported 
consideration of expanding the markings on buoy lines to all U.S. fixed 
gear fisheries including previously exempted waters, increasing spatial 
resolution in nearshore New England fisheries (``red'' areas), adding a 
three-foot long mark within one fathom of the surface buoy system, and 
increasing the frequency of marks on buoy lines. Further information 
regarding that discussion can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xmSS3.
    Further information about the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction 
Plan can be found at the website: https://go.usa.gov/xmSKh. Further 
information about the April 2019 Team meeting that resulted in the 
recommendations to modify the Take Reduction Plan can be found here: 
https://go.usa.gov/xmSk3.

Environmental Impact Statement

    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. NMFS has determined that an EIS should be prepared under 
NEPA for the purpose of informing rulemaking to modify the Atlantic 
Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. We will prepare an EIS in accordance 
with NEPA requirements, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508); and other Federal laws, 
regulations, and policies.
    The Proposed Action for analysis in the Final EIS is NMFS 
rulemaking to modify the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. 
NMFS' purpose for the proposed action is to fulfill the mandates of the 
MMPA to reduce impacts of fisheries on large whale species below their 
PBR level.
    The EIS will consider the Team's recommendations to reduce vertical 
lines by changing gear reconfigurations and/or trap allocations to 
reduce buoy lines and to modify gear to require rope that whales can 
break. Additional buoy line marking will likely also be considered as 
part of this rulemaking. Additions or modifications to areas closed to 
trap/pot fishing may also be considered. Measures to be considered will 
respect the framework adopted by the Team to include area-specific 
measures that are operationally feasible for the varying gear 
configurations and

[[Page 37824]]

lobster fishing conditions across New England. Measures will be created 
in collaboration with New England states and will take into account any 
measures states propose as they respond to Team recommendations.

Public Comments

    Everyone potentially impacted by or interested in changes to the 
Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan, and particularly, management 
of trap/pot fisheries in New England, is invited to participate in the 
public scoping process by submitting written comments or attending 
public scoping meetings. This scoping process aims to gather input 
regarding the scope of actions to be proposed for rulemaking, the 
development of alternatives to analyze in the EIS, and the potential 
impact of management actions. NMFS particularly requests comments and 
input on the operational challenges of gear modifications likely to be 
considered. In addition to direct costs of replacing new gear, input is 
requested on indirect cost of gear modification measure alternatives, 
such as costs in time required to install sleeves, install weak rope, 
and mark gear and costs related to fewer vertical lines or seasonal 
closures.
    Comments and suggestions that are within the scope of the proposed 
actions to reduce risk of serious injury and mortality of large whales 
due to entanglements and to improve gear marking to reduce uncertainty 
about where entanglements occur will be considered when developing the 
alternatives for analysis in the draft EIS. Previous comments that have 
already been received regarding a proposed rule are already being 
considered and do not need to be resubmitted.

    Dated: July 29, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-16487 Filed 7-31-19; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P