Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 18, 45459-45462 [2019-18649]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2019 / Proposed Rules responsibilities among the various levels of Government, within the meaning of the E.O. This proposed rule merely makes an administrative change for internal Departmental operations. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 This regulatory action has been reviewed in accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (the Reform Act). Under the Reform Act, a Federal agency must determine whether a regulation proposes a Federal mandate that would result in the increased expenditures by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any single year. This proposed rule merely makes an administrative change to the manner in which procurement authority is delegated within the Department. The requirements of Title II of the Act, therefore, do not apply, and the Department has not prepared a statement under the Act. Executive Order 13175 (Indian Tribal Governments) The Department has reviewed the NPRM under the terms of E.O. 13175 and DOL’s Tribal Consultation Policy, and have concluded that the changes to regulatory text which are the focus of the NPRM would not have tribal implications, as these changes do not have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, the relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes, nor the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes. Therefore, no consultations with tribal governments, officials, or other tribal institutions were necessary. Bryan Slater, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Labor. [FR Doc. 2019–18492 Filed 8–28–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510–04–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 190823–0017] List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 2902 RIN 0648–BI96 Government procurement. For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department proposes to amend 48 CFR part 2902 as follows: Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 18 PART 2902—DEFINITIONS OF WORDS AND TERMS 1. The authority citation for part 292 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301, 40 U.S.C. 486(c). khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Head of Agency (also called agency head), for the FAR and DOLAR only, means the Secretary of Labor or his/her designee except that the Secretary of Labor is the Head of Agency for acquisition actions, which by the terms of a statute or delegation must be performed specifically by the Secretary of Labor; the Inspector General is the Head of Agency in all cases for the Office of the Inspector General. Head of Contracting Activity (HCA) means the official who has overall responsibility for managing the contracting activity, when the contracting activity has more than one person with a warrant issued by the Senior Procurement Executive or, in the case of the Office of the Inspector General, issued by the Inspector General or his/her designee. Each Head of Agency may designate HCA(s) as appropriate to be responsible for managing contracting activities within his or her respective Agency. Senior Procurement Executive means the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management or his/ her designee. 2. In section 2902.101, amend paragraph (b) by revising the definitions of ‘‘Head of Agency’’, ‘‘Head of Contracting Activity’’, and ‘‘Senior Procurement Executive’’ to read as follows: ■ 2902.101 * Definitions. * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 15:50 Aug 28, 2019 Jkt 247001 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 18 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Waters (Amendment 18), as prepared and submitted by the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council). This proposed rule would modify the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 45459 Federal Gulf penaeid shrimp trawl fishery, and would modify the FMP framework procedures. The purposes of Amendment 18 are to promote economic stability, to achieve optimum yield in the Federal Gulf shrimp fishery by reducing effort constraints, and to equitably distribute the benefits from red snapper rebuilding, while continuing to protect, the Gulf red snapper stock. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 30, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2019–0045,’’ by either 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-20190045, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 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), 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). Electronic copies of Amendment 18, which includes a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ amendment-18-modifying-shrimp-effortthreshold. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frank Helies, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: Frank.Helies@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The shrimp fishery in the Gulf is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 45460 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Background The 2005 Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 7 stock assessment for Gulf red snapper identified bycatch of red snapper by the Gulf shrimp fishery as a primary factor affecting the recovery of the stock (SEDAR 7 2005). The assessment indicated a need to reduce the red snapper bycatch mortality attributed to shrimp trawls by 74 percent, compared to levels of effort and mortality experienced during the baseline 2001–2003 period. To end overfishing of red snapper and rebuild the stock by 2032 in compliance with the rebuilding plan, the Council developed Amendment 14 to the FMP to cap shrimp fishing effort in statistical zones 10–21 in 10–30 fathom (18.29 m– 54.86 m) depth zone of the western Gulf (i.e., the area monitored for juvenile red snapper bycatch). The reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality was linked to a reduction in shrimp fishing effort of 74 percent below fishing effort during the baseline 2001–2003 period. The final rule implementing this reduction published on January 29, 2008 (73 FR 5117). Consistent with Amendment 14, NMFS reduced the threshold level to 67 percent of the baseline in 2011. Amendment 14 also stated that the target reduction goal should decrease to 60 percent (i.e., shrimp effort could increase) by 2032 (the final year of the red snapper rebuilding plan). However, the framework procedure to implement this reduction was never established by the Council. The Gulf shrimp fishery has not exceeded the allowable threshold effort levels established in Amendment 14. Since the early 2000s, the Gulf shrimp fishery has experienced economic losses, primarily as a result of high fuel costs and reduced sales prices caused by competition with imported shrimp. These economic losses have resulted in the reduction in the number of vessels within the fishery, and consequently, a reduction in commercial effort, when compared to historical levels. Through Amendment 13 to the FMP, the Council took additional steps in 2006 to cap shrimp fishing effort in response to increased levels of bycatch of species including red snapper through establishment of the Federal commercial Gulf shrimp moratorium permit (71 FR 56039; September 26, 2006). The permit moratorium was later extended until October 26, 2026, by the final rule for Amendment 17A to the FMP (81 FR 47733; July 22, 2016) (50 CFR 622.50(b)). Gulf red snapper is no longer overfished or undergoing overfishing, VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:50 Aug 28, 2019 Jkt 247001 and continues to rebuild, consistent with the rebuilding plan (SEDAR 52 2018). Also, as described in Amendment 18, recent research indicates that the effect of the shrimp fishery on red snapper mortality is less than previously determined. In response to a request by the Council, the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) conducted an analysis to determine if effort in the shrimp fishery could increase without affecting red snapper rebuilding. The SEFSC analyzed how increases in Gulf-wide shrimp effort may affect the red snapper rebuilding plan and catch level projections from the SEDAR 52 stock assessment. This analysis of Gulf-wide effort increases was used as a proxy for changes in effort in the specific area monitored for purposes of the threshold because the results from SEDAR 52 could not be broken out into specific depth areas in particular statistical zones. The analysis indicated that increasing shrimp effort to the level considered in Amendment 14 (60 percent below the baseline years of 2001–2003) is unlikely to affect the rebuilding timeline of red snapper and would have little impact on red snapper annual catch limits. Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule To Implement Amendment 18 This proposed rule would implement measures to modify the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the Federal Gulf shrimp trawl fishery, and would modify the FMP framework procedures. Target Reduction Goal Although the Gulf red snapper stock is in a rebuilding plan until 2032, it is no longer overfished or undergoing overfishing (SEDAR 52 2018). While the red snapper stock acceptable biological catch (ABC) has consistently increased under the rebuilding plan, the target reduction goal of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper has remained the same since 2011. The higher the target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper, the more likely that the effort threshold would be exceeded, triggering a seasonal closure for the Gulf shrimp fishery. Although a shrimp closure has not been implemented to date as a result of effort reaching the threshold, shrimp effort has come within 2 percent of the 67percent threshold in 2014, 2016, and 2017, indicating that a future commercial shrimp closure could occur. This proposed rule would implement a reduction for trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper to 60 percent below the PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 baseline effort of the years 2001–2003. As noted previously, the analysis done by the SEFSC indicates that allowing shrimp effort to increase consistent with the lower threshold would not impact the red snapper rebuilding plan and would have only a small impact on red snapper catch levels. The projected reduction in the red snapper ABC in the short term (over the next 3 years) is no more than 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) per year and, in the long term, no more than 200,000 lb (90,719 kg) per year. FMP Framework Procedures Amendment 18 and this proposed rule would revise the FMP framework procedure to allow changes to the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality through the standard open framework documentation process. Amendment 18 and this proposed rule would also modify the FMP abbreviated documentation process to allow specification of an ABC recommended by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee based on results of a new stock assessment and using the Council’s ABC control rule. The changes to the framework procedure in Amendment 18 would provide for consistency across all abbreviated framework procedures under the Council’s jurisdiction and could facilitate faster management action, if necessary, for the Council by providing a more streamlined approach to modify any future effort reduction goals. Action in This Proposed Rule Not in Amendment 18 This proposed rule would also replace the term ‘‘Letter of Authorization (LOA)’’ with ‘‘Gear Test Authorization (GTA)’’ in 50 CFR 622.53, Bycatch Reduction Device Requirements, paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(B) and (ii). This change was made in the Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual when it was revised in 2016 in order to avoid confusion because the acronym LOA is also used to refer to a Letter of Acknowledgment issued under 50 CFR 600.745(a) (81 FR 95056; December 27, 2016). The GTA is required when a person wants to test a new bycatch reduction device, and this change would make the terminology in the regulations consistent with the terminology in the manual. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 18, the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2019 / Proposed Rules further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This rule is expected to be an Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action. The potential cost savings from this rule is estimated to be $3.51 million in 2016 dollars, discounted at 7 percent in perpetuity. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the legal basis for this proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting and recordkeeping requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, the Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply to this proposed rule. A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the purposes of this proposed rule are contained in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. The objectives of this proposed rule are to promote economic stability in the Federal Gulf shrimp fishery by reducing effort constraints and to equitably distribute the benefits from rebuilding, while continuing to protect the Gulf red snapper stock. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this rule, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A description of the factual basis for this determination follows. Estimates in the factual basis are based on 2011–2014 data, which is the best data currently available, and all monetary estimates are in 2017 dollars, consistent with the estimates in Amendment 18. This proposed rule, if implemented, would reduce the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the Gulf shrimp fishery from 67 percent to 60 percent, which would allow vessels with Gulf shrimp moratorium permits to increase their annual effort (days fished) by a maximum of 5,797 days in the 10– 30 fathom (18.29 m—54.86 m) depth zone of statistical areas 10 through 21. This proposed rule would also revise the FMP management measures framework procedure to allow changes to the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality through the abbreviated framework documentation process. This proposed rule is expected to directly regulate businesses that possess Federal Gulf shrimp moratorium permits and actively fish in the commercial Gulf shrimp fishing VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:50 Aug 28, 2019 Jkt 247001 industry. From 2011 through 2014, the average number of vessels with valid Gulf shrimp moratorium permits per year was 1,572, though the number of vessels with permits declined each year during this time. As of February 11, 2019, the number of vessels with a valid or renewable Gulf shrimp moratorium permit was 1,417. From 2011 through 2014, the average number of vessels with valid permits that actively fished (i.e., had landings) in the Gulf shrimp fishery was 1,140. Because it is not currently feasible to accurately determine affiliations between businesses that possess Gulf shrimp moratorium permits, for purposes of this analysis, it is assumed each of these vessels is independently owned by a single business, which is likely an overestimate of the actual number of businesses directly regulated by this proposed rule. Thus, this proposed rule is estimated to directly regulate 1,140 businesses in the commercial Gulf shrimp fishing industry, or about 80 percent of the vessels currently possessing valid or renewable Gulf shrimp moratorium permits. For vessels with Gulf shrimp moratorium permits, annual gross revenue was about $396,800 on average from 2011 through 2014, of which approximately $357,000 came from commercial fishing operations. Net revenue for these vessels was about $45,600, while net revenue from commercial fishing operations was approximately $8,600. From 2011 through 2014, the greatest average annual gross revenue earned by a single vessel (business) was approximately $1.93 million. On December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts (revenue) for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS code 11411) for RFA compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194; December 29, 2015). In addition to this gross revenue standard, a business primarily involved in commercial fishing is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, and is not dominant in its field of operations (including its affiliates). Based on the information above, all businesses directly regulated by this proposed rule are determined to be small businesses for the purpose of this analysis. Therefore, it is determined that this proposed rule will affect a substantial number of small businesses. Reducing the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the Gulf shrimp fishery from 67 percent to PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 45461 60 percent would allow vessels with Gulf shrimp moratorium permits to increase their annual effort by, on average, a maximum of about 5.1 days per vessel in the 10–30 fathom (18.29 m–54.86 m) depth zone of statistical areas 10 through 21. Catch per unit of effort (CPUE) is estimated to be approximately 1,150 lb (522 kg) (tails). Thus, each vessel could increase its landings by about 5,840 lb (2,649 kg) per year on average. Average ex-vessel price per pound is estimated to be approximately $4.36. Thus, the maximum increase in average annual gross revenue per vessel would be about $25,470. Net operating revenue is the best available estimate of economic profit in this industry. Net operating revenue per vessel is estimated to be about $8,600 per year, or approximately 2.4 percent of their gross revenue from commercial fishing operations. Thus, annual net operating revenue per vessel could increase by about $610 on average, which would represent an increase of 7 percent in annual net operating revenue per vessel. Whether vessels actually increase their effort and thus increase landings, gross revenue, and net operating revenue by the maximum allowable amount will depend on future levels of abundance, CPUE, shrimp prices, and fuel prices, which cannot be predicted with a high level of certainty using current data and models. Modifying the FMP framework procedure to allow changes to the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality through the standard open framework documentation process and to allow specification of an ABC through the abbreviated process are administrative actions that do not alter any requirements that directly regulate federally permitted vessels in the commercial Gulf shrimp fishing industry. Therefore, this action is not expected to affect the profitability of any businesses that possess these permits. Based on the information above, a reduction in profits for the affected small entities is not expected as a result of this proposed rule. Thus, because there would not be a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Bycatch, Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gear, Gulf, Red snapper, Shrimp. E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 45462 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2019 / Proposed Rules Dated: August 23, 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 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.53, revise paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(B) and (a)(2)(ii) to read as follows: ■ § 622.55 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with PROPOSALS (a) * * * (2) * * * (i) * * * (B) After reviewing the application, the RA will determine whether to issue a Gear Test Authorization (GTA) to conduct pre-certification trials upon the vessel specified in the application. If the RA authorizes pre-certification, the RA’s GTA must be on board the vessel during any trip involving the BRD testing. (ii) Certification. A person who proposes a BRD for certification for use in the Gulf EEZ must submit an application to test such BRD, conduct the testing, and submit the results of the test in accordance with the ‘‘Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual.’’ The RA will issue a GTA to conduct certification trials upon the vessel specified in the application if the RA finds that: The operation plan submitted with the application meets the requirements of the ‘‘Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual’’; the observer identified in the application is qualified; and the results of any pre-certification trials conducted have been reviewed and deemed to indicate a reasonable scientific basis for conducting certification testing. If an application for a GTA is denied, the RA will provide a letter of explanation to the applicant, together with relevant recommendations to address the deficiencies that resulted in the denial. To be certified for use in the fishery, the BRD candidate must successfully demonstrate a 30-percent reduction in total weight of finfish bycatch. In addition, the BRD candidate must satisfy the following conditions: There is at least a 50-percent probability the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate meets the bycatch reduction criterion and there is no more than a 10- 15:50 Aug 28, 2019 Jkt 247001 Closed areas. * § 622.53 Bycatch reduction device (BRD) requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 percent probability the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate is more than 5 percentage points less than the bycatch reduction criterion. If a BRD meets both conditions, consistent with the ‘‘Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual,’’ NMFS, through appropriate rulemaking procedures, will add the BRD to the list of certified BRDs in paragraph (a)(3) of this section; and provide the specifications for the newly certified BRD, including any special conditions deemed appropriate based on the certification testing results. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 622.55, revise paragraph (d)(1) to read as follows: * * * * (d) * * * (1) Procedure for determining need for and extent of closures. Each year, in accordance with the applicable framework procedure established by the Gulf Shrimp FMP, the RA will, if necessary, establish a seasonal area closure for the shrimp fishery in all or a portion of the areas of the Gulf EEZ specified in paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(4) of this section. The RA’s determination of the need for such closure and its geographical scope and duration will be based on an annual assessment, by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, of the shrimp effort and associated shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper in the 10–30 fathom area of statistical zones 10–21, compared to the 60-percent target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper from the benchmark years of 2001–2003 established in the FMP (which corresponds in terms of annual shrimp effort to 27,328 days fished). The framework procedure provides for adjustment of this target reduction level, consistent with the red snapper stock rebuilding plan and the findings of subsequent stock assessments, via appropriate rulemaking. The assessment will use shrimp effort data for the most recent 12-month period available and will include a recommendation regarding the geographical scope and duration of the closure. The Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s assessment will be provided to the RA on or about March 1 of each year. If the RA determines that a closure is necessary, the closure falls within the scope of the potential closures evaluated in the Gulf Shrimp FMP, and good cause exists to waive notice and comment, NMFS will implement the closure by publication of a final rule in the Federal Register. If PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 such good cause waiver is not justified, NMFS will implement the closure via appropriate notice and comment rulemaking. NMFS intends that any closure implemented consistent with this paragraph (l) will begin on the same date and time as the Texas closure, as described in paragraph (a) of this section, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 622.60, revise paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows: § 622.60 Adjustment of management measures. * * * * * (a) Gulf penaeid shrimp. For a species or species group: Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, quotas (including a quota of zero), MSY (or proxy), OY, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, acceptable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining shrimp in whole condition, use as bait), target effort and fishing mortality reduction levels, bycatch reduction criteria, BRD certification and decertification criteria, BRD testing protocol and certified BRD specifications, and target effort reduction for juvenile red snapper mortality. (b) Gulf royal red shrimp. Reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, ABC and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, and restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining shrimp in whole condition, use as bait), and target effort reduction for juvenile red snapper mortality. [FR Doc. 2019–18649 Filed 8–28–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 168 (Thursday, August 29, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 45459-45462]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-18649]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 190823-0017]
RIN 0648-BI96


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 18

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 regulations to implement Amendment 18 to the 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of 
Mexico, U.S. Waters (Amendment 18), as prepared and submitted by the 
Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council). This 
proposed rule would modify the target reduction goal for juvenile red 
snapper mortality in the Federal Gulf penaeid shrimp trawl fishery, and 
would modify the FMP framework procedures. The purposes of Amendment 18 
are to promote economic stability, to achieve optimum yield in the 
Federal Gulf shrimp fishery by reducing effort constraints, and to 
equitably distribute the benefits from red snapper rebuilding, while 
continuing to protect, the Gulf red snapper stock.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 30, 
2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2019-0045,'' by either 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-2019-0045, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    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), 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).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 18, which includes a fishery impact 
statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a 
regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional 
Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-18-modifying-shrimp-effort-threshold.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frank Helies, telephone: 727-824-5305, 
or email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The shrimp fishery in the Gulf is managed 
under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and implemented 
through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

[[Page 45460]]

Background

    The 2005 Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 7 stock 
assessment for Gulf red snapper identified bycatch of red snapper by 
the Gulf shrimp fishery as a primary factor affecting the recovery of 
the stock (SEDAR 7 2005). The assessment indicated a need to reduce the 
red snapper bycatch mortality attributed to shrimp trawls by 74 
percent, compared to levels of effort and mortality experienced during 
the baseline 2001-2003 period.
    To end overfishing of red snapper and rebuild the stock by 2032 in 
compliance with the rebuilding plan, the Council developed Amendment 14 
to the FMP to cap shrimp fishing effort in statistical zones 10-21 in 
10-30 fathom (18.29 m-54.86 m) depth zone of the western Gulf (i.e., 
the area monitored for juvenile red snapper bycatch). The reduction 
goal for juvenile red snapper mortality was linked to a reduction in 
shrimp fishing effort of 74 percent below fishing effort during the 
baseline 2001-2003 period. The final rule implementing this reduction 
published on January 29, 2008 (73 FR 5117). Consistent with Amendment 
14, NMFS reduced the threshold level to 67 percent of the baseline in 
2011. Amendment 14 also stated that the target reduction goal should 
decrease to 60 percent (i.e., shrimp effort could increase) by 2032 
(the final year of the red snapper rebuilding plan). However, the 
framework procedure to implement this reduction was never established 
by the Council.
    The Gulf shrimp fishery has not exceeded the allowable threshold 
effort levels established in Amendment 14. Since the early 2000s, the 
Gulf shrimp fishery has experienced economic losses, primarily as a 
result of high fuel costs and reduced sales prices caused by 
competition with imported shrimp. These economic losses have resulted 
in the reduction in the number of vessels within the fishery, and 
consequently, a reduction in commercial effort, when compared to 
historical levels.
    Through Amendment 13 to the FMP, the Council took additional steps 
in 2006 to cap shrimp fishing effort in response to increased levels of 
bycatch of species including red snapper through establishment of the 
Federal commercial Gulf shrimp moratorium permit (71 FR 56039; 
September 26, 2006). The permit moratorium was later extended until 
October 26, 2026, by the final rule for Amendment 17A to the FMP (81 FR 
47733; July 22, 2016) (50 CFR 622.50(b)).
    Gulf red snapper is no longer overfished or undergoing overfishing, 
and continues to rebuild, consistent with the rebuilding plan (SEDAR 52 
2018). Also, as described in Amendment 18, recent research indicates 
that the effect of the shrimp fishery on red snapper mortality is less 
than previously determined. In response to a request by the Council, 
the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) conducted an 
analysis to determine if effort in the shrimp fishery could increase 
without affecting red snapper rebuilding. The SEFSC analyzed how 
increases in Gulf-wide shrimp effort may affect the red snapper 
rebuilding plan and catch level projections from the SEDAR 52 stock 
assessment. This analysis of Gulf-wide effort increases was used as a 
proxy for changes in effort in the specific area monitored for purposes 
of the threshold because the results from SEDAR 52 could not be broken 
out into specific depth areas in particular statistical zones. The 
analysis indicated that increasing shrimp effort to the level 
considered in Amendment 14 (60 percent below the baseline years of 
2001-2003) is unlikely to affect the rebuilding timeline of red snapper 
and would have little impact on red snapper annual catch limits.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule To Implement 
Amendment 18

    This proposed rule would implement measures to modify the target 
reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the Federal Gulf 
shrimp trawl fishery, and would modify the FMP framework procedures.

Target Reduction Goal

    Although the Gulf red snapper stock is in a rebuilding plan until 
2032, it is no longer overfished or undergoing overfishing (SEDAR 52 
2018). While the red snapper stock acceptable biological catch (ABC) 
has consistently increased under the rebuilding plan, the target 
reduction goal of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper has 
remained the same since 2011. The higher the target reduction of shrimp 
trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper, the more likely that the effort 
threshold would be exceeded, triggering a seasonal closure for the Gulf 
shrimp fishery. Although a shrimp closure has not been implemented to 
date as a result of effort reaching the threshold, shrimp effort has 
come within 2 percent of the 67-percent threshold in 2014, 2016, and 
2017, indicating that a future commercial shrimp closure could occur.
    This proposed rule would implement a reduction for trawl bycatch 
mortality on red snapper to 60 percent below the baseline effort of the 
years 2001-2003. As noted previously, the analysis done by the SEFSC 
indicates that allowing shrimp effort to increase consistent with the 
lower threshold would not impact the red snapper rebuilding plan and 
would have only a small impact on red snapper catch levels. The 
projected reduction in the red snapper ABC in the short term (over the 
next 3 years) is no more than 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) per year and, in 
the long term, no more than 200,000 lb (90,719 kg) per year.

FMP Framework Procedures

    Amendment 18 and this proposed rule would revise the FMP framework 
procedure to allow changes to the target reduction goal for juvenile 
red snapper mortality through the standard open framework documentation 
process. Amendment 18 and this proposed rule would also modify the FMP 
abbreviated documentation process to allow specification of an ABC 
recommended by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee based 
on results of a new stock assessment and using the Council's ABC 
control rule. The changes to the framework procedure in Amendment 18 
would provide for consistency across all abbreviated framework 
procedures under the Council's jurisdiction and could facilitate faster 
management action, if necessary, for the Council by providing a more 
streamlined approach to modify any future effort reduction goals.

Action in This Proposed Rule Not in Amendment 18

    This proposed rule would also replace the term ``Letter of 
Authorization (LOA)'' with ``Gear Test Authorization (GTA)'' in 50 CFR 
622.53, Bycatch Reduction Device Requirements, paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(B) 
and (ii). This change was made in the Bycatch Reduction Device Testing 
Manual when it was revised in 2016 in order to avoid confusion because 
the acronym LOA is also used to refer to a Letter of Acknowledgment 
issued under 50 CFR 600.745(a) (81 FR 95056; December 27, 2016). The 
GTA is required when a person wants to test a new bycatch reduction 
device, and this change would make the terminology in the regulations 
consistent with the terminology in the manual.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Amendment 18, the FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to

[[Page 45461]]

further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. This rule is expected to be an 
Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action. The potential cost savings 
from this rule is estimated to be $3.51 million in 2016 dollars, 
discounted at 7 percent in perpetuity.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the legal basis for this proposed 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. In addition, no new reporting and record-keeping 
requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, the 
Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply to this proposed rule. A 
description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the 
purposes of this proposed rule are contained in the preamble and in the 
SUMMARY section of the preamble. The objectives of this proposed rule 
are to promote economic stability in the Federal Gulf shrimp fishery by 
reducing effort constraints and to equitably distribute the benefits 
from rebuilding, while continuing to protect the Gulf red snapper 
stock.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this rule, if adopted, will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A 
description of the factual basis for this determination follows. 
Estimates in the factual basis are based on 2011-2014 data, which is 
the best data currently available, and all monetary estimates are in 
2017 dollars, consistent with the estimates in Amendment 18.
    This proposed rule, if implemented, would reduce the target 
reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality in the Gulf shrimp 
fishery from 67 percent to 60 percent, which would allow vessels with 
Gulf shrimp moratorium permits to increase their annual effort (days 
fished) by a maximum of 5,797 days in the 10-30 fathom (18.29 m--54.86 
m) depth zone of statistical areas 10 through 21. This proposed rule 
would also revise the FMP management measures framework procedure to 
allow changes to the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper 
mortality through the abbreviated framework documentation process.
    This proposed rule is expected to directly regulate businesses that 
possess Federal Gulf shrimp moratorium permits and actively fish in the 
commercial Gulf shrimp fishing industry. From 2011 through 2014, the 
average number of vessels with valid Gulf shrimp moratorium permits per 
year was 1,572, though the number of vessels with permits declined each 
year during this time. As of February 11, 2019, the number of vessels 
with a valid or renewable Gulf shrimp moratorium permit was 1,417. From 
2011 through 2014, the average number of vessels with valid permits 
that actively fished (i.e., had landings) in the Gulf shrimp fishery 
was 1,140.
    Because it is not currently feasible to accurately determine 
affiliations between businesses that possess Gulf shrimp moratorium 
permits, for purposes of this analysis, it is assumed each of these 
vessels is independently owned by a single business, which is likely an 
overestimate of the actual number of businesses directly regulated by 
this proposed rule. Thus, this proposed rule is estimated to directly 
regulate 1,140 businesses in the commercial Gulf shrimp fishing 
industry, or about 80 percent of the vessels currently possessing valid 
or renewable Gulf shrimp moratorium permits.
    For vessels with Gulf shrimp moratorium permits, annual gross 
revenue was about $396,800 on average from 2011 through 2014, of which 
approximately $357,000 came from commercial fishing operations. Net 
revenue for these vessels was about $45,600, while net revenue from 
commercial fishing operations was approximately $8,600. From 2011 
through 2014, the greatest average annual gross revenue earned by a 
single vessel (business) was approximately $1.93 million.
    On December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule establishing a small 
business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts 
(revenue) for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial 
fishing industry (NAICS code 11411) for RFA compliance purposes only 
(80 FR 81194; December 29, 2015). In addition to this gross revenue 
standard, a business primarily involved in commercial fishing is 
classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, and is not dominant in its field of operations (including its 
affiliates).
    Based on the information above, all businesses directly regulated 
by this proposed rule are determined to be small businesses for the 
purpose of this analysis. Therefore, it is determined that this 
proposed rule will affect a substantial number of small businesses.
    Reducing the target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper 
mortality in the Gulf shrimp fishery from 67 percent to 60 percent 
would allow vessels with Gulf shrimp moratorium permits to increase 
their annual effort by, on average, a maximum of about 5.1 days per 
vessel in the 10-30 fathom (18.29 m-54.86 m) depth zone of statistical 
areas 10 through 21. Catch per unit of effort (CPUE) is estimated to be 
approximately 1,150 lb (522 kg) (tails). Thus, each vessel could 
increase its landings by about 5,840 lb (2,649 kg) per year on average. 
Average ex-vessel price per pound is estimated to be approximately 
$4.36. Thus, the maximum increase in average annual gross revenue per 
vessel would be about $25,470.
    Net operating revenue is the best available estimate of economic 
profit in this industry. Net operating revenue per vessel is estimated 
to be about $8,600 per year, or approximately 2.4 percent of their 
gross revenue from commercial fishing operations. Thus, annual net 
operating revenue per vessel could increase by about $610 on average, 
which would represent an increase of 7 percent in annual net operating 
revenue per vessel. Whether vessels actually increase their effort and 
thus increase landings, gross revenue, and net operating revenue by the 
maximum allowable amount will depend on future levels of abundance, 
CPUE, shrimp prices, and fuel prices, which cannot be predicted with a 
high level of certainty using current data and models.
    Modifying the FMP framework procedure to allow changes to the 
target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality through the 
standard open framework documentation process and to allow 
specification of an ABC through the abbreviated process are 
administrative actions that do not alter any requirements that directly 
regulate federally permitted vessels in the commercial Gulf shrimp 
fishing industry. Therefore, this action is not expected to affect the 
profitability of any businesses that possess these permits.
    Based on the information above, a reduction in profits for the 
affected small entities is not expected as a result of this proposed 
rule. Thus, because there would not be a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Bycatch, Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gear, Gulf, Red snapper, 
Shrimp.


[[Page 45462]]


    Dated: August 23, 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 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH 
ATLANTIC

0
 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.53, revise paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(B) and (a)(2)(ii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  622.53  Bycatch reduction device (BRD) requirements.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) After reviewing the application, the RA will determine whether 
to issue a Gear Test Authorization (GTA) to conduct pre-certification 
trials upon the vessel specified in the application. If the RA 
authorizes pre-certification, the RA's GTA must be on board the vessel 
during any trip involving the BRD testing.
    (ii) Certification. A person who proposes a BRD for certification 
for use in the Gulf EEZ must submit an application to test such BRD, 
conduct the testing, and submit the results of the test in accordance 
with the ``Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual.'' The RA will issue 
a GTA to conduct certification trials upon the vessel specified in the 
application if the RA finds that: The operation plan submitted with the 
application meets the requirements of the ``Bycatch Reduction Device 
Testing Manual''; the observer identified in the application is 
qualified; and the results of any pre-certification trials conducted 
have been reviewed and deemed to indicate a reasonable scientific basis 
for conducting certification testing. If an application for a GTA is 
denied, the RA will provide a letter of explanation to the applicant, 
together with relevant recommendations to address the deficiencies that 
resulted in the denial. To be certified for use in the fishery, the BRD 
candidate must successfully demonstrate a 30-percent reduction in total 
weight of finfish bycatch. In addition, the BRD candidate must satisfy 
the following conditions: There is at least a 50-percent probability 
the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate meets the bycatch 
reduction criterion and there is no more than a 10-percent probability 
the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate is more than 5 percentage 
points less than the bycatch reduction criterion. If a BRD meets both 
conditions, consistent with the ``Bycatch Reduction Device Testing 
Manual,'' NMFS, through appropriate rulemaking procedures, will add the 
BRD to the list of certified BRDs in paragraph (a)(3) of this section; 
and provide the specifications for the newly certified BRD, including 
any special conditions deemed appropriate based on the certification 
testing results.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  622.55, revise paragraph (d)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.55  Closed areas.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) Procedure for determining need for and extent of closures. Each 
year, in accordance with the applicable framework procedure established 
by the Gulf Shrimp FMP, the RA will, if necessary, establish a seasonal 
area closure for the shrimp fishery in all or a portion of the areas of 
the Gulf EEZ specified in paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(4) of this 
section. The RA's determination of the need for such closure and its 
geographical scope and duration will be based on an annual assessment, 
by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, of the shrimp effort and 
associated shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper in the 10-30 
fathom area of statistical zones 10-21, compared to the 60-percent 
target reduction of shrimp trawl bycatch mortality on red snapper from 
the benchmark years of 2001-2003 established in the FMP (which 
corresponds in terms of annual shrimp effort to 27,328 days fished). 
The framework procedure provides for adjustment of this target 
reduction level, consistent with the red snapper stock rebuilding plan 
and the findings of subsequent stock assessments, via appropriate 
rulemaking. The assessment will use shrimp effort data for the most 
recent 12-month period available and will include a recommendation 
regarding the geographical scope and duration of the closure. The 
Southeast Fisheries Science Center's assessment will be provided to the 
RA on or about March 1 of each year. If the RA determines that a 
closure is necessary, the closure falls within the scope of the 
potential closures evaluated in the Gulf Shrimp FMP, and good cause 
exists to waive notice and comment, NMFS will implement the closure by 
publication of a final rule in the Federal Register. If such good cause 
waiver is not justified, NMFS will implement the closure via 
appropriate notice and comment rulemaking. NMFS intends that any 
closure implemented consistent with this paragraph (l) will begin on 
the same date and time as the Texas closure, as described in paragraph 
(a) of this section, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  622.60, revise paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.60  Adjustment of management measures.

* * * * *
    (a) Gulf penaeid shrimp. For a species or species group: Reporting 
and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, size limits, 
vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, quotas 
(including a quota of zero), MSY (or proxy), OY, management parameters 
such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear restrictions 
(ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear markings and 
identification, vessel markings and identification, acceptable 
biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining 
shrimp in whole condition, use as bait), target effort and fishing 
mortality reduction levels, bycatch reduction criteria, BRD 
certification and decertification criteria, BRD testing protocol and 
certified BRD specifications, and target effort reduction for juvenile 
red snapper mortality.
    (b) Gulf royal red shrimp. Reporting and monitoring requirements, 
permitting requirements, size limits, vessel trip limits, closed 
seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch limits (ACLs), annual 
catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota of zero), 
accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, management 
parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, gear 
restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), gear 
markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, ABC 
and ABC control rules, rebuilding plans, and restrictions relative to 
conditions of harvested shrimp (maintaining shrimp in whole condition, 
use as bait), and target effort reduction for juvenile red snapper 
mortality.

[FR Doc. 2019-18649 Filed 8-28-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P