Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Atlantic Bluefish Fisheries; 2020-2021 Specifications, 54041-54043 [2019-21828]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 196 / Wednesday, October 9, 2019 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 191002–0052] RIN 0648–XH043 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Atlantic Bluefish Fisheries; 2020–2021 Specifications provides an analysis of the impacts of the measures and alternatives. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the scup, black sea bass, and bluefish specifications. Copies of the EA and SIR, are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The EA is also accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org/s/SF_ 2020-2021_specs_EA.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9244. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. General Background NMFS announces 2020 specifications for the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish fisheries and projects 2021 summer flounder specifications. The implementing regulations for these species’ management requires us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species. This action is intended to inform the public of the specifications for the start of the 2020 fishing year for these four species and announces the projected 2021 summer flounder specifications. DATES: This rule is effective January 1, 2020. ADDRESSES: An environmental assessment (EA) for the summer flounder specifications was prepared for this action that describes the measures and other considered alternatives, and The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and Atlantic Bluefish FMP outline the Council’s process for establishing specifications. The FMPs require the specification of the acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, recreational harvest limit, and other management measures, for up to 3 years at a time. This action establishes summer flounder specifications for the 2020–2021 fishing years and also sets interim scup, black sea bass, and bluefish 2020 specifications that will be AGENCY: SUMMARY: 54041 replaced early in the fishing year to address results of operational stock assessments for all three species. These specifications are consistent with the recommendations made by the Council and Commission at the March 2019 joint meeting. Interim 2020 Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Bluefish Specifications There is no regulatory mechanism to roll over catch and landings limits from one year to the next in these FMPs, so this action is required to set these limits for the start of 2020. This action maintains the same 2019 specifications for the start of the 2020 fishing year (Table 1), consistent with the recommendations from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Council and the speciesspecific Commission Boards. These catch limits are expected to be in place for the first few months of 2020 and will be revised as soon as possible to address the results of operational stock assessments for all three species. The results of the assessments recently became available and the Council and Boards plan on recommending revised 2020 and considering 2021 specifications for all three species at a joint October 2019 meeting. Prior to the start of the 2020 fishing year, we will announce any adjustments necessary to account for any previous overages or, in the case of bluefish, any commercial/recreational sector transfers. The initial commercial scup quota allocations for 2020 by quota period are outlined in Table 2. TABLE 1—INTERIM 2020 SPECIFICATIONS FOR SCUP, BLACK SEA BASS, AND BLUEFISH Scup million lb Overfishing Limit (OFL) ............................ ABC .......................................................... ACL .......................................................... Commercial ACL ...................................... ACT .......................................................... Commercial Quota ................................... Recreational ACL ..................................... Recreational ACT ..................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ....................... 41.03 36.43 36.43 28.42 28.42 23.98 8.01 8.01 7.37 Black sea bass mt million lb 18,612 16,525 16,525 12,890 12,890 10,879 3,636 3,636 3,342 Bluefish mt 10.29 8.94 8.94 4.35 4.35 3.52 4.59 4.59 3.66 4,667 4,055 4,055 1,974 1,974 1,596 2,083 2,083 1,661 million lb mt 29.97 21.81 21.81 ........................ 3.71 7.71 ........................ 18.11 11.62 12,688 9,895 9,895 ........................ 1,682 3,497 ........................ 8,213 5,271 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES TABLE 2—INITIAL COMMERCIAL SCUP QUOTA ALLOCATIONS FOR 2020 BY QUOTA PERIOD Quota period Percent share lb mt Winter I ........................................................................................................................................ Summer ....................................................................................................................................... Winter II ....................................................................................................................................... 45.11 38.95 15.94 10,820,000 9,340,986 3,822,816 4,908 4,237 1,734 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 100.0 23,983,802 10,879 Note: Metric tons are converted from lb and may not necessarily total due to rounding. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:56 Oct 08, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\09OCR1.SGM 09OCR1 54042 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 196 / Wednesday, October 9, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Summer Flounder 2020–2021 Specifications In February 2019, the final peer review and assessment results from the 66th Stock Assessment Workshop/Stock Assessment Review Committee (SAW/ SARC 66) became available. This assessment incorporated revised Marine Recreational Information Program estimates of recreational catch, which has an important impact on estimated spawning stock biomass for summer flounder. Based on the results of this benchmark assessment, the summer flounder stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. The Council’s SSC and the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee met in late February 2019 to recommend revised catch and landings limits for 2019 through 2021 based on the assessment information, which the Council adopted. Due to the need to implement revised 2019 specifications as soon as possible, we published an interim final rule on May 17, 2019 (84 FR 22392), adjusting the catch limits for the remainder of the 2019 fishing year. This rule implements the 2020 specifications and announces the projected 2021 specifications (Table 3). The 2020 and 2021 specifications are identical to what is currently in place for 2019. Table 4 outlines the initial 2020 stateby-state summer flounder allocations. Prior to the start of each fishing year, we will announce any adjustments necessary to address any overages and to provide the states with their specific quotas. We anticipate announcing any such adjustments in December 2019. TABLE 3—SUMMARY OF 2020–2021 SUMMER FLOUNDER FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS, IN MILLIONS OF POUNDS million lb OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACT ..................................................................................................................................................... Commercial Quota ................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACL ..................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACT .................................................................................................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ...................................................................................................................................... 30.94 (2020) 31.67 (2021) 25.03 13.53 13.53 11.53 11.51 11.51 7.69 mt 14,034 (2020) 14,365 (2021) 11,354 6,136 6,136 5,229 5,218 5,218 3,486 TABLE 4—INITIAL 2020 SUMMER FLOUNDER STATE-BY-STATE ALLOCATIONS Initial 2020 quotas * FMP percent share State lb kg ME ................................................................................................................................................ NH ................................................................................................................................................ MA ................................................................................................................................................ RI ................................................................................................................................................. CT ................................................................................................................................................ NY ................................................................................................................................................ NJ ................................................................................................................................................. DE ................................................................................................................................................ MD ............................................................................................................................................... VA ................................................................................................................................................ NC ................................................................................................................................................ 0.0476 0.0005 6.8205 15.6830 2.2571 7.6470 16.7250 0.0178 2.0391 21.3168 27.4458 5,484 53 786,399 1,808,248 260,241 881,698 1,928,391 2,051 235,108 2,457,822 3,164,505 2,487 24 356,705 820,207 118,043 399,931 874,704 930 106,643 1,114,850 1,435,395 Total ...................................................................................................................................... 100.00 11,530,000 5,229,920 * Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES This action makes no changes to the current commercial management measures, including the minimum fish size (14-inch (36-cm) total length), gear requirements, and possession limits. The 2020 recreational management measures will be considered in the late fall of 2019. Comments and Responses NMFS received one comment on the proposed rule from the State of New York and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The letter stated that the 2020 and 2021 specifications will be applied to outdated state quota share percentages, and NMFS should instead implement a coastwide quota. The VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:56 Oct 08, 2019 Jkt 250001 comment is identical to what was submitted during public comment on the 2019 summer flounder specifications, and our response remains the same. The current regulations governing the FMP require that quota allocations be distributed based on the percentages outlined in Table 4. Adjustments to these quota allocations must be developed through an amendment to the FMP. The Council and Board took final action on an amendment considering such adjustments at their March 2019 meeting and will forward their recommendations to NMFS for Secretarial review and approval later this fall. Adjustments to these state PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 quota allocations are outside the scope of this specifications action and will be addressed in the rulemaking for the amendment. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. This final rule is exempt from NOAA’s Office of Management and E:\FR\FM\09OCR1.SGM 09OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 196 / Wednesday, October 9, 2019 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Budget Review under Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:56 Oct 08, 2019 Jkt 250001 certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification, and the initial certification remains unchanged. A final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained in this action. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 54043 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 2, 2019. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–21828 Filed 10–8–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\09OCR1.SGM 09OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 196 (Wednesday, October 9, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54041-54043]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21828]



[[Page 54041]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 191002-0052]
RIN 0648-XH043


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 
Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Atlantic Bluefish Fisheries; 2020-2021 
Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces 2020 specifications for the summer flounder, 
scup, black sea bass, and bluefish fisheries and projects 2021 summer 
flounder specifications. The implementing regulations for these 
species' management requires us to publish specifications for the 
upcoming fishing year for each of these species. This action is 
intended to inform the public of the specifications for the start of 
the 2020 fishing year for these four species and announces the 
projected 2021 summer flounder specifications.

DATES: This rule is effective January 1, 2020.

ADDRESSES: An environmental assessment (EA) for the summer flounder 
specifications was prepared for this action that describes the measures 
and other considered alternatives, and provides an analysis of the 
impacts of the measures and alternatives. A Supplemental Information 
Report (SIR) was prepared for the scup, black sea bass, and bluefish 
specifications. Copies of the EA and SIR, are available on request from 
Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. 
The EA is also accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org/s/SF_2020-2021_specs_EA.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9244.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

General Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively 
manage the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish 
fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) and Atlantic Bluefish FMP outline the Council's 
process for establishing specifications. The FMPs require the 
specification of the acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch 
limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, 
recreational harvest limit, and other management measures, for up to 3 
years at a time. This action establishes summer flounder specifications 
for the 2020-2021 fishing years and also sets interim scup, black sea 
bass, and bluefish 2020 specifications that will be replaced early in 
the fishing year to address results of operational stock assessments 
for all three species. These specifications are consistent with the 
recommendations made by the Council and Commission at the March 2019 
joint meeting.

Interim 2020 Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Bluefish Specifications

    There is no regulatory mechanism to roll over catch and landings 
limits from one year to the next in these FMPs, so this action is 
required to set these limits for the start of 2020. This action 
maintains the same 2019 specifications for the start of the 2020 
fishing year (Table 1), consistent with the recommendations from the 
Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Council 
and the species-specific Commission Boards. These catch limits are 
expected to be in place for the first few months of 2020 and will be 
revised as soon as possible to address the results of operational stock 
assessments for all three species. The results of the assessments 
recently became available and the Council and Boards plan on 
recommending revised 2020 and considering 2021 specifications for all 
three species at a joint October 2019 meeting.
    Prior to the start of the 2020 fishing year, we will announce any 
adjustments necessary to account for any previous overages or, in the 
case of bluefish, any commercial/recreational sector transfers. The 
initial commercial scup quota allocations for 2020 by quota period are 
outlined in Table 2.

                                       Table 1--Interim 2020 Specifications for Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Bluefish
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Scup                       Black sea bass                     Bluefish
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            million lb          mt          million lb          mt          million lb          mt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit (OFL).................................           41.03          18,612           10.29           4,667           29.97          12,688
ABC.....................................................           36.43          16,525            8.94           4,055           21.81           9,895
ACL.....................................................           36.43          16,525            8.94           4,055           21.81           9,895
Commercial ACL..........................................           28.42          12,890            4.35           1,974  ..............  ..............
ACT.....................................................           28.42          12,890            4.35           1,974            3.71           1,682
Commercial Quota........................................           23.98          10,879            3.52           1,596            7.71           3,497
Recreational ACL........................................            8.01           3,636            4.59           2,083  ..............  ..............
Recreational ACT........................................            8.01           3,636            4.59           2,083           18.11           8,213
Recreational Harvest Limit..............................            7.37           3,342            3.66           1,661           11.62           5,271
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 2--Initial Commercial Scup Quota Allocations for 2020 by Quota Period
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Quota period                             Percent share        lb              mt
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Winter I........................................................           45.11      10,820,000           4,908
Summer..........................................................           38.95       9,340,986           4,237
Winter II.......................................................           15.94       3,822,816           1,734
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           100.0      23,983,802          10,879
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Metric tons are converted from lb and may not necessarily total due to rounding.


[[Page 54042]]

Summer Flounder 2020-2021 Specifications

    In February 2019, the final peer review and assessment results from 
the 66th Stock Assessment Workshop/Stock Assessment Review Committee 
(SAW/SARC 66) became available. This assessment incorporated revised 
Marine Recreational Information Program estimates of recreational 
catch, which has an important impact on estimated spawning stock 
biomass for summer flounder. Based on the results of this benchmark 
assessment, the summer flounder stock is not overfished, and 
overfishing is not occurring.
    The Council's SSC and the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee met 
in late February 2019 to recommend revised catch and landings limits 
for 2019 through 2021 based on the assessment information, which the 
Council adopted. Due to the need to implement revised 2019 
specifications as soon as possible, we published an interim final rule 
on May 17, 2019 (84 FR 22392), adjusting the catch limits for the 
remainder of the 2019 fishing year. This rule implements the 2020 
specifications and announces the projected 2021 specifications (Table 
3). The 2020 and 2021 specifications are identical to what is currently 
in place for 2019.
    Table 4 outlines the initial 2020 state-by-state summer flounder 
allocations. Prior to the start of each fishing year, we will announce 
any adjustments necessary to address any overages and to provide the 
states with their specific quotas. We anticipate announcing any such 
adjustments in December 2019.

Table 3--Summary of 2020-2021 Summer Flounder Fishery Specifications, in
                           Millions of Pounds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            million lb          mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................    30.94 (2020)   14,034 (2020)
                                            31.67 (2021)   14,365 (2021)
ABC.....................................           25.03          11,354
Commercial ACL..........................           13.53           6,136
Commercial ACT..........................           13.53           6,136
Commercial Quota........................           11.53           5,229
Recreational ACL........................           11.51           5,218
Recreational ACT........................           11.51           5,218
Recreational Harvest Limit..............            7.69           3,486
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                        Table 4--Initial 2020 Summer Flounder State-by-State Allocations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       Initial 2020 quotas *
                              State                                 FMP percent  -------------------------------
                                                                       share            lb              kg
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ME..............................................................          0.0476           5,484           2,487
NH..............................................................          0.0005              53              24
MA..............................................................          6.8205         786,399         356,705
RI..............................................................         15.6830       1,808,248         820,207
CT..............................................................          2.2571         260,241         118,043
NY..............................................................          7.6470         881,698         399,931
NJ..............................................................         16.7250       1,928,391         874,704
DE..............................................................          0.0178           2,051             930
MD..............................................................          2.0391         235,108         106,643
VA..............................................................         21.3168       2,457,822       1,114,850
NC..............................................................         27.4458       3,164,505       1,435,395
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          100.00      11,530,000       5,229,920
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages.

    This action makes no changes to the current commercial management 
measures, including the minimum fish size (14-inch (36-cm) total 
length), gear requirements, and possession limits. The 2020 
recreational management measures will be considered in the late fall of 
2019.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received one comment on the proposed rule from the State of 
New York and the New York State Department of Environmental 
Conservation. The letter stated that the 2020 and 2021 specifications 
will be applied to outdated state quota share percentages, and NMFS 
should instead implement a coastwide quota. The comment is identical to 
what was submitted during public comment on the 2019 summer flounder 
specifications, and our response remains the same. The current 
regulations governing the FMP require that quota allocations be 
distributed based on the percentages outlined in Table 4. Adjustments 
to these quota allocations must be developed through an amendment to 
the FMP. The Council and Board took final action on an amendment 
considering such adjustments at their March 2019 meeting and will 
forward their recommendations to NMFS for Secretarial review and 
approval later this fall. Adjustments to these state quota allocations 
are outside the scope of this specifications action and will be 
addressed in the rulemaking for the amendment.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has 
determined that this final rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, 
Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws.
    This final rule is exempt from NOAA's Office of Management and

[[Page 54043]]

Budget Review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification, and the initial certification remains 
unchanged. A final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and 
none has been prepared.
    There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained 
in this action.

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

    Dated: October 2, 2019.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-21828 Filed 10-8-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P