Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3, 20970-20973 [2020-07891]

Download as PDF 20970 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules • Big game hunting data, including the number of license holders and applicants, days spent hunting and average hunter financial expenditures, and total number of hunters, harvest, and success ratio for elk and deer; • Incidences of human–wolf encounters; and • Parasite or disease events related to Mexican wolves. Therefore, we are requesting any new information from the public or our partners available since the publication of the 2014 EIS and 2015 final rule (80 FR 2487, January 16, 2015) related to these topics that is not readily available on Federal, State, tribal, or county websites. Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the items under consideration, without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered. Similarly, issues raised that are outside of the scope of items under consideration will not be considered in making a determination. Please consider the following when preparing your comments: • Be as succinct as possible. • Organize comments beginning with general comments and then move on to specific issues. • Be specific. Comments supported by logic, rationale, and citations are more useful than opinions. • State suggestions and recommendations clearly with an expectation of what you would like the Service to do. • If you provide alternate interpretations of science from the revised recovery plan or other cited Service document, please support your analysis with appropriate citations. • If possible, coordinate your comments with other like-minded individuals and organizations. This can strengthen the comment and help us understand the depth of concern. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS We will post information pertinent to NEPA planning on our Mexican Wolf Recovery Program website, http:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/NEPA. The references cited in this notice are also available at that website. Authors The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior Regions 7 and 8. 17:48 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 Written comments we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Amy Lueders, Regional Director. [FR Doc. 2020–07715 Filed 4–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 200409–0107] RIN 0648–BJ67 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: References and Availability of Documents for Review VerDate Sep<11>2014 Public Availability of Comments NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3 (Abbreviated Framework 3) to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). If implemented, Abbreviated SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Framework 3 and this proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) and recreational annual catch target (ACT) for blueline tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. The purpose of this proposed rule is to ensure that ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish are based on the best scientific information available, to achieve and maintain optimum yield (OY), and to prevent overfishing while minimizing to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects. DATES: Written comments must be received by May 15, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2020–0039’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Go to https:// www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAANMFS-2020-0039, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit all written comments to Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office (SERO), 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 required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Abbreviated Framework 3, which includes a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ abbreviated-framework-amendment-3blueline-tilefish. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS SERO, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: mary.vara@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic region is managed under the FMP and includes blueline tilefish, E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS along with other snapper-grouper species. The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). All weights described in this proposed rule are in round weight. Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation. Blueline tilefish is a single genetic stock that ranges from the Mid-Atlantic coast to the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The South Atlantic Council manages blueline tilefish in the EEZ from the North Carolina and Virginia border southward to the South Atlantic Council’s jurisdictional line in the Florida Keys. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Mid-Atlantic Council) manages blueline tilefish in the EEZ from the North Carolina and Virginia border northward through Maine as part of the Tilefish FMP of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In October 2017, a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) benchmark assessment was completed for the Atlantic stock of blueline tilefish, using data through 2015. SEDAR 50 included blueline tilefish that are found in both the South Atlantic and the MidAtlantic Councils’ jurisdictions. As data for blueline tilefish are less available north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, that area was assessed using a datalimited model, while the area south of Cape Hatteras was assessed using an age-aggregated production model. The South Atlantic Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) initially was only able to provide an acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendation for the portion of the blueline tilefish south of Cape Hatteras. Therefore, an ABC workgroup, comprised of SSC members from both the South Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Councils and stock assessment participants, was needed to provide an ABC recommendation for the portion of the blueline tilefish stock north of Cape Hatteras and divide that ABC recommendation between the two Council’s jurisdictions. Using this information, the South Atlantic Council’s SSC was then able to provide an ABC recommendation for blueline tilefish to the South Atlantic Council for their entire jurisdiction. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 The current total ACL for blueline tilefish is 174,798 lb (79,287 kg), and is allocated to the commercial sector (50.07 percent) and the recreational sector (49.93 percent). The final rule for Regulatory Amendment 25 to the FMP implemented these ACLs (81 FR 45245, July 13, 2016), and the current sector allocations were established in Regulatory Amendment 13 to the FMP (78 FR 36113, June 17, 2013). This proposed rule would set the total ACL equal to the total South Atlantic ABC of 233,968 lb (106,126 kg). This proposed rule would also update the commercial and recreational ACLs using the existing allocation percentages. Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish based on updated information from SEDAR 50. Currently, the blueline tilefish commercial ACL is 87,521 lb (39,699 kg) and the recreational ACL is 87,277 lb (39,588 kg). Consistent with the results of SEDAR 50 and the ABC recommendation from the SSC and subsequently accepted by the South Atlantic Council, this proposed rule would increase the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish. The total ACL would equal the total South Atlantic ABC of 233,968 lb (106,126 kg). The commercial ACL would be set at 117,148 lb (53,137 kg) and the recreational ACL would be set at 116,820 lb (52,989 kg). The proposed ACLs are consistent with the South Atlantic Council SSC’s ABC recommendation, and this proposed rule would not change the sector allocations. The blueline tilefish commercial sector has experienced in-season fishing closures every year between April and August since 2014, regardless of the value of the commercial ACL. If the catch rates of blueline tilefish in the commercial sector continue as expected in the future, the proposed commercial ACL would still be expected to result in in-season closures during the commercial season as a result of the ACL being reached. However, the proposed increase to the commercial ACL is expected to extend the commercial fishing season in future fishing years. Because of recent changes to blueline tilefish management measures and in-season closures, comparative analysis of future commercial season lengths is uncertain. Blueline tilefish is closed to recreational harvest in the South Atlantic each year from January 1 PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 20971 through April 30, and September 1 through December 31. Each year since 2016, recreational landings of blueline tilefish have exceeded the current recreational ACL of 87,277 lb (39,588 kg). However, a recreational closure during the fishing year as a result of landings being projected to reach the recreational ACL has not occurred because in-season recreational landings are typically not available until after the May through August fishing season concludes. When compared to recent trends in estimated recreational landings, the proposed increase in the recreational ACL could reduce the likelihood that the ACL would be met during the fixed May through August fishing season. Management Measure Contained in Abbreviated Framework 3 not Codified Through This Proposed Rule In addition to the measure in this proposed rule, Abbreviated Framework 3 would update the recreational ACT for blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ. The current and proposed recreational ACT are both based on an ACT equation where the recreational ACT is equal to the recreational ACL multiplied by (1 minus the Percent Standard Error) or the recreational ACL multiplied by 0.5, whichever is greater. The current recreational ACT of 54,653 lb (24,790 kg) would be increased to 70,886 lb (32,153 kg). 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 Abbreviated Framework 3, the FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant 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 (SBA) for purposes of the RFA that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows. A description of the proposed rule and its purpose are contained at the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section and in the SUMMARY E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 20972 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules section of the preamble. The MagnusonStevens Act provides the statutory basis for this rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, the Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply to this proposed rule. The objectives of this proposed rule are to ensure that ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish are based on the best scientific information available to achieve and maintain OY and to prevent overfishing while minimizing to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects. This proposed rule would increase the total ACL, and consequently the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ. Abbreviated Framework 3 would increase the recreational ACT for South Atlantic blueline tilefish. Thus, this proposed rule applies to entities that harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish. Recreational anglers fishing for South Atlantic blueline tilefish would be directly affected by the proposed rule. However, anglers are not considered entities under the RFA and thus would not be directly regulated by this proposed rule. This proposed rule is expected to directly regulate commercial and charter vessel and headboat (for-hire) businesses (vessels) that harvest or have the ability to harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish. In 2018, there were 549 vessels with valid or renewable Federal South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited permits and 110 vessels with valid or renewable 225-lb (102-kg) trip limited permits. Any vessel with a valid Federal South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited permit or 225-lb (102-kg) trip limited permit may commercially harvest blueline tilefish. In 2018, there were 2,176 for-hire vessels that possessed a valid or renewable Federal charter vessel/headboat South Atlantic snapper-grouper permit. Any for-hire vessel with a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat South Atlantic snappergrouper permit may harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish. The number of charter vessels with valid permits that harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish cannot be determined with available data. Based on the information above, it is determined that this proposed rule may directly regulate 659 commercial fishing businesses and 2,176 for-hire fishing businesses. From 2014 through 2018, an average of 143 vessels per year landed blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic. Taken together, these vessels averaged 716 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 trips per year in the South Atlantic on which blueline tilefish were landed, and an additional 4,400 trips in the South Atlantic that did not land any blueline tilefish or were taken outside the South Atlantic regardless of the species caught. In 2018 dollars, the average annual total revenues were approximately $0.03 million from blueline tilefish, $1.89 million from other species co-harvested with blueline tilefish on the same trips, and $8.95 million from trips in the South Atlantic on which no blueline tilefish were harvested or trips that occurred outside the South Atlantic. Average annual gross revenue from all species landed by vessels harvesting blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic was approximately $11.15 million. Thus, average annual gross revenue per vessel was about $78,000 per vessel. For federally permitted charter vessels and headboats in the South Atlantic, average annual gross revenue is $123,064 per charter vessel and $267,067 per headboat in 2018 dollars. 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 it field of operations (including its affiliates). From 2014 through 2018, the maximum average annual gross revenue for a single vessel in the commercial snapper-grouper fishing industry was about $1.6 million in 2018 dollars. Based on this information, all directly regulated commercial fishing businesses are determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. The SBA has established size standards for all other major industry sectors in the U.S., including for-hire fishing businesses (NAICS code 487210). A business primarily involved in the for-hire fishing industry is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has annual receipts (revenue) not in excess of $8 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. In 2017, the maximum annual gross revenue for a single headboat in the South Atlantic was about $765,200 in 2018 dollars. On average, annual gross revenue for headboats is more than double the PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 annual gross revenue for charter vessels. Thus, it is assumed the maximum annual gross revenue for charter vessels is less than $765,200. Based on this information, all directly regulated forhire fishing businesses are determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. This proposed rule would increase the total ACL from 174,798 lb to 233,968 lb (79,287 kg to 106,126 kg), the commercial ACL from 87,521 lb to 117,148 lb (39,699 kg to 53,137 kg), and the recreational ACL from 87,277 lb to 116,820 lb (39,588 kg to 52,989 kg). Abbreviated Framework 3 would increase the recreational ACT from 54,653 lb to 70,886 lb (24,790 kg to 32,153 kg). The recreational ACT does not constrain harvest in the recreational sector and therefore is not relevant with respect to determining effects on small entities. The increase in the commercial ACL is expected to increase annual gross revenue for commercial snappergrouper fishing entities harvesting blueline tilefish by a total of $96,979, or by about $678 per active vessel, while profits for all commercial snappergrouper fishing entities harvesting blueline tilefish is expected to increase by $23,134, or about $162 per vessel, in 2018 dollars. Because the recreational ACL is shared between private anglers and for-hire vessels, but without an established allocation, it is not possible to determine how much of the increase in the recreational ACL would accrue to the for-hire snapper-grouper vessels that harvest blueline tilefish. However, the higher recreational ACL would be expected to at least minimally increase the number of for-hire trips harvesting blueline tilefish, which in turn would be expected to minimally increase the for-hire vessels’ profits. Based on the information above, this proposed rule would positively affect small commercial and for-hire fishing entities in the South Atlantic snappergrouper fishery that harvest blueline tilefish. Therefore, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Because this proposed rule, if implemented, is not expected to have a significant economic impact on any small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual catch limits, Blueline tilefish, Fisheries, Fishing, South Atlantic. E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules Dated: April 9, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. 2. In § 622.193, revise the first sentence in paragraphs (z)(1)(i), (2)(i), and (3) to read as follows: ■ 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: ■ jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 § 622.193 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (z) * * * (1) * * * (i) If commercial landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL of 117,148 lb (53,137 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. * * * * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 20973 (2) * * * (i) If recreational landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 116,820 lb (52,989 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year, unless the RA determines that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information available. * * * * * * * * (3) The combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL) is 233,968 lb (106,126 kg), round weight. [FR Doc. 2020–07891 Filed 4–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 73 (Wednesday, April 15, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20970-20973]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-07891]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 200409-0107]
RIN 0648-BJ67


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Abbreviated 
Framework Amendment 3

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 to implement management measures described in 
Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3 (Abbreviated Framework 3) to the 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the 
South Atlantic Region, as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). If implemented, 
Abbreviated Framework 3 and this proposed rule would revise the 
commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) and recreational 
annual catch target (ACT) for blueline tilefish in the exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. The purpose of this proposed 
rule is to ensure that ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish are 
based on the best scientific information available, to achieve and 
maintain optimum yield (OY), and to prevent overfishing while 
minimizing to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic 
effects.

DATES: Written comments must be received by May 15, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2020-0039'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic comments via 
the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0039, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete 
the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit all written comments to Mary Vara, NMFS 
Southeast Regional Office (SERO), 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 required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Abbreviated Framework 3, which includes a 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis and a regulatory impact 
review, may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast 
Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/abbreviated-framework-amendment-3-blueline-tilefish.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS SERO, telephone: 727-
824-5305, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery in the South 
Atlantic region is managed under the FMP and includes blueline 
tilefish,

[[Page 20971]]

along with other snapper-grouper species. The FMP was prepared by the 
South Atlantic Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations 
at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). All weights 
described in this proposed rule are in round weight.

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing 
basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure that fishery 
resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation.
    Blueline tilefish is a single genetic stock that ranges from the 
Mid-Atlantic coast to the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The South 
Atlantic Council manages blueline tilefish in the EEZ from the North 
Carolina and Virginia border southward to the South Atlantic Council's 
jurisdictional line in the Florida Keys. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council (Mid-Atlantic Council) manages blueline tilefish in 
the EEZ from the North Carolina and Virginia border northward through 
Maine as part of the Tilefish FMP of the Mid-Atlantic Region.
    In October 2017, a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 
benchmark assessment was completed for the Atlantic stock of blueline 
tilefish, using data through 2015. SEDAR 50 included blueline tilefish 
that are found in both the South Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic 
Councils' jurisdictions. As data for blueline tilefish are less 
available north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, that area was 
assessed using a data-limited model, while the area south of Cape 
Hatteras was assessed using an age-aggregated production model. The 
South Atlantic Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) 
initially was only able to provide an acceptable biological catch (ABC) 
recommendation for the portion of the blueline tilefish south of Cape 
Hatteras. Therefore, an ABC workgroup, comprised of SSC members from 
both the South Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Councils and stock assessment 
participants, was needed to provide an ABC recommendation for the 
portion of the blueline tilefish stock north of Cape Hatteras and 
divide that ABC recommendation between the two Council's jurisdictions. 
Using this information, the South Atlantic Council's SSC was then able 
to provide an ABC recommendation for blueline tilefish to the South 
Atlantic Council for their entire jurisdiction.
    The current total ACL for blueline tilefish is 174,798 lb (79,287 
kg), and is allocated to the commercial sector (50.07 percent) and the 
recreational sector (49.93 percent). The final rule for Regulatory 
Amendment 25 to the FMP implemented these ACLs (81 FR 45245, July 13, 
2016), and the current sector allocations were established in 
Regulatory Amendment 13 to the FMP (78 FR 36113, June 17, 2013). This 
proposed rule would set the total ACL equal to the total South Atlantic 
ABC of 233,968 lb (106,126 kg). This proposed rule would also update 
the commercial and recreational ACLs using the existing allocation 
percentages.

Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational 
ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish based on updated information 
from SEDAR 50.
    Currently, the blueline tilefish commercial ACL is 87,521 lb 
(39,699 kg) and the recreational ACL is 87,277 lb (39,588 kg).
    Consistent with the results of SEDAR 50 and the ABC recommendation 
from the SSC and subsequently accepted by the South Atlantic Council, 
this proposed rule would increase the commercial and recreational ACLs 
for blueline tilefish.
    The total ACL would equal the total South Atlantic ABC of 233,968 
lb (106,126 kg). The commercial ACL would be set at 117,148 lb (53,137 
kg) and the recreational ACL would be set at 116,820 lb (52,989 kg).
    The proposed ACLs are consistent with the South Atlantic Council 
SSC's ABC recommendation, and this proposed rule would not change the 
sector allocations.
    The blueline tilefish commercial sector has experienced in-season 
fishing closures every year between April and August since 2014, 
regardless of the value of the commercial ACL. If the catch rates of 
blueline tilefish in the commercial sector continue as expected in the 
future, the proposed commercial ACL would still be expected to result 
in in-season closures during the commercial season as a result of the 
ACL being reached. However, the proposed increase to the commercial ACL 
is expected to extend the commercial fishing season in future fishing 
years. Because of recent changes to blueline tilefish management 
measures and in-season closures, comparative analysis of future 
commercial season lengths is uncertain.
    Blueline tilefish is closed to recreational harvest in the South 
Atlantic each year from January 1 through April 30, and September 1 
through December 31. Each year since 2016, recreational landings of 
blueline tilefish have exceeded the current recreational ACL of 87,277 
lb (39,588 kg). However, a recreational closure during the fishing year 
as a result of landings being projected to reach the recreational ACL 
has not occurred because in-season recreational landings are typically 
not available until after the May through August fishing season 
concludes. When compared to recent trends in estimated recreational 
landings, the proposed increase in the recreational ACL could reduce 
the likelihood that the ACL would be met during the fixed May through 
August fishing season.

Management Measure Contained in Abbreviated Framework 3 not Codified 
Through This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the measure in this proposed rule, Abbreviated 
Framework 3 would update the recreational ACT for blueline tilefish in 
the South Atlantic EEZ. The current and proposed recreational ACT are 
both based on an ACT equation where the recreational ACT is equal to 
the recreational ACL multiplied by (1 minus the Percent Standard Error) 
or the recreational ACL multiplied by 0.5, whichever is greater. The 
current recreational ACT of 54,653 lb (24,790 kg) would be increased to 
70,886 lb (32,153 kg).

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 Abbreviated Framework 3, the FMP, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an 
Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not 
significant 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 (SBA) for purposes of the RFA that this proposed rule, 
if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this 
determination is as follows.
    A description of the proposed rule and its purpose are contained at 
the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section and in the 
SUMMARY

[[Page 20972]]

section of the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the 
statutory basis for this rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or 
conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new 
reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements are 
introduced by this proposed rule. Accordingly, the Paperwork Reduction 
Act does not apply to this proposed rule. The objectives of this 
proposed rule are to ensure that ACLs for South Atlantic blueline 
tilefish are based on the best scientific information available to 
achieve and maintain OY and to prevent overfishing while minimizing to 
the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects.
    This proposed rule would increase the total ACL, and consequently 
the commercial and recreational ACLs for blueline tilefish in the South 
Atlantic EEZ. Abbreviated Framework 3 would increase the recreational 
ACT for South Atlantic blueline tilefish. Thus, this proposed rule 
applies to entities that harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish. 
Recreational anglers fishing for South Atlantic blueline tilefish would 
be directly affected by the proposed rule. However, anglers are not 
considered entities under the RFA and thus would not be directly 
regulated by this proposed rule.
    This proposed rule is expected to directly regulate commercial and 
charter vessel and headboat (for-hire) businesses (vessels) that 
harvest or have the ability to harvest South Atlantic blueline 
tilefish. In 2018, there were 549 vessels with valid or renewable 
Federal South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited permits and 110 
vessels with valid or renewable 225-lb (102-kg) trip limited permits. 
Any vessel with a valid Federal South Atlantic snapper-grouper 
unlimited permit or 225-lb (102-kg) trip limited permit may 
commercially harvest blueline tilefish. In 2018, there were 2,176 for-
hire vessels that possessed a valid or renewable Federal charter 
vessel/headboat South Atlantic snapper-grouper permit. Any for-hire 
vessel with a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper permit may harvest South Atlantic blueline tilefish. 
The number of charter vessels with valid permits that harvest South 
Atlantic blueline tilefish cannot be determined with available data. 
Based on the information above, it is determined that this proposed 
rule may directly regulate 659 commercial fishing businesses and 2,176 
for-hire fishing businesses.
    From 2014 through 2018, an average of 143 vessels per year landed 
blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic. Taken together, these vessels 
averaged 716 trips per year in the South Atlantic on which blueline 
tilefish were landed, and an additional 4,400 trips in the South 
Atlantic that did not land any blueline tilefish or were taken outside 
the South Atlantic regardless of the species caught. In 2018 dollars, 
the average annual total revenues were approximately $0.03 million from 
blueline tilefish, $1.89 million from other species co-harvested with 
blueline tilefish on the same trips, and $8.95 million from trips in 
the South Atlantic on which no blueline tilefish were harvested or 
trips that occurred outside the South Atlantic. Average annual gross 
revenue from all species landed by vessels harvesting blueline tilefish 
in the South Atlantic was approximately $11.15 million. Thus, average 
annual gross revenue per vessel was about $78,000 per vessel. For 
federally permitted charter vessels and headboats in the South 
Atlantic, average annual gross revenue is $123,064 per charter vessel 
and $267,067 per headboat in 2018 dollars.
    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 it field of operations (including its 
affiliates). From 2014 through 2018, the maximum average annual gross 
revenue for a single vessel in the commercial snapper-grouper fishing 
industry was about $1.6 million in 2018 dollars. Based on this 
information, all directly regulated commercial fishing businesses are 
determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities.
    The SBA has established size standards for all other major industry 
sectors in the U.S., including for-hire fishing businesses (NAICS code 
487210). A business primarily involved in the for-hire fishing industry 
is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has annual receipts (revenue) not in excess of $8 
million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. In 2017, the 
maximum annual gross revenue for a single headboat in the South 
Atlantic was about $765,200 in 2018 dollars. On average, annual gross 
revenue for headboats is more than double the annual gross revenue for 
charter vessels. Thus, it is assumed the maximum annual gross revenue 
for charter vessels is less than $765,200. Based on this information, 
all directly regulated for-hire fishing businesses are determined, for 
the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities.
    This proposed rule would increase the total ACL from 174,798 lb to 
233,968 lb (79,287 kg to 106,126 kg), the commercial ACL from 87,521 lb 
to 117,148 lb (39,699 kg to 53,137 kg), and the recreational ACL from 
87,277 lb to 116,820 lb (39,588 kg to 52,989 kg). Abbreviated Framework 
3 would increase the recreational ACT from 54,653 lb to 70,886 lb 
(24,790 kg to 32,153 kg). The recreational ACT does not constrain 
harvest in the recreational sector and therefore is not relevant with 
respect to determining effects on small entities.
    The increase in the commercial ACL is expected to increase annual 
gross revenue for commercial snapper-grouper fishing entities 
harvesting blueline tilefish by a total of $96,979, or by about $678 
per active vessel, while profits for all commercial snapper-grouper 
fishing entities harvesting blueline tilefish is expected to increase 
by $23,134, or about $162 per vessel, in 2018 dollars. Because the 
recreational ACL is shared between private anglers and for-hire 
vessels, but without an established allocation, it is not possible to 
determine how much of the increase in the recreational ACL would accrue 
to the for-hire snapper-grouper vessels that harvest blueline tilefish. 
However, the higher recreational ACL would be expected to at least 
minimally increase the number of for-hire trips harvesting blueline 
tilefish, which in turn would be expected to minimally increase the 
for-hire vessels' profits.
    Based on the information above, this proposed rule would positively 
affect small commercial and for-hire fishing entities in the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery that harvest blueline tilefish. 
Therefore, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. Because this proposed 
rule, if implemented, is not expected to have a significant economic 
impact on any small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Annual catch limits, Blueline tilefish, Fisheries, Fishing, South 
Atlantic.


[[Page 20973]]


    Dated: April 9, 2020.
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.  622.193, revise the first sentence in paragraphs (z)(1)(i), 
(2)(i), and (3) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.193   Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets 
(ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (z) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) If commercial landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by 
the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL of 117,148 
lb (53,137 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the 
remainder of the fishing year. * * *
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) If recreational landings for blueline tilefish, as estimated by 
the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 
116,820 lb (52,989 kg), round weight, the AA will file a notification 
with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational 
sector for the remainder of the fishing year, unless the RA determines 
that no closure is necessary based on the best scientific information 
available. * * *
* * * * *
    (3) The combined commercial and recreational sector ACL (total ACL) 
is 233,968 lb (106,126 kg), round weight.

[FR Doc. 2020-07891 Filed 4-14-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P