Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Framework Adjustment 6 and the 2019-2021 Atlantic Herring Fishery Specifications, 26874-26887 [2020-09574]

Download as PDF 26874 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations charges should reflect reasonable financial incentives to advance the overarching purpose of demurrage and that revenue is not itself the purpose. Second, transparency, timeliness, and mutual accountability by both rail carriers and the shippers and receivers they serve are important factors in the establishment and administration of reasonable demurrage and accessorial rules and charges. Just as this policy statement recognizes that there may be different ways to implement and administer reasonable rules and charges, carriers are encouraged to recognize the importance of working with rail users to develop reasonable solutions to unique situations those shippers and receivers may face. The Board expects to take all of the principles discussed in this policy statement into consideration, together with all of the evidence and argument that is before it, in evaluating the reasonableness of demurrage and accessorial rules and charges in future cases. Congressional Review Act. Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801–808, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has designated this policy statement as nonmajor, as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). Decided: April 30, 2020. By the Board, Board Members Begeman, Oberman, and Fuchs. Jeffrey Herzig, Clearance Clerk. [FR Doc. 2020–09682 Filed 5–5–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 200428–0122] RIN 0648–BJ13 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Framework Adjustment 6 and the 2019–2021 Atlantic Herring Fishery Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We are approving regulations to implement Framework Adjustment 6 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 Management Plan, including the 2019– 2021 fishery specifications and management measures, as recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council. This action is intended to establish the allowable 2020–2021 herring harvest levels and river herring and shad catch caps, consistent with the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. The specifications and management measures are necessary to meet conservation objectives while providing sustainable levels of access to the fishery. DATES: Effective May 5, 2020. ADDRESSES: Copies of this action, including the Environmental Assessment and the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) prepared in support of this action, are available at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/ Herring-FW6-DRAFT-finalsubmission.pdfr from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: https:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Murphy, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9122. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Regulations implementing the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for herring are located at 50 CFR part 648, subpart K. Regulations at § 648.200 require the Council to recommend herring specifications for NMFS’ review and publish in the Federal Register, including: The overfishing limit (OFL); acceptable biological catch (ABC); annual catch limit (ACL); optimum yield (OY); domestic annual harvest; domestic annual processing; U.S. at-sea processing; border transfer; the sub-ACL for each management area, including seasonal periods as specified at § 648.201(d) and modifications to subACLs as specified at § 648.201(f); and research set-aside (RSA) (up to 3 percent of the sub-ACL from any management area) for 3 years. These regulations also allow the Council to recommend river herring and shad catch caps as part of the specifications. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, NMFS is required to publish proposed rules for comment after preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable law. The MagnusonStevens Act permits NMFS to approve, PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 partially approve, or disapprove framework adjustment measures proposed by the Council based only on whether the measures are consistent with the fishery management plan, plan amendment, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and its National Standards, and other applicable law. Otherwise, NMFS must defer to the Council’s policy choices. Under the regulations guiding the herring specifications process, NMFS must review the Council’s recommended specifications and publish notice proposing specifications, clearly noting the reasons for any differences from the Council’s recommendations. NMFS must then publish a notice approving, disapproving, or partially approving these measures. NMFS is approving measures to implement Framework 6 as well as specifications and river herring/ shad catch caps for the herring fishery, consistent with the Council’s recommendations. A new stock assessment for herring was completed in June 2018. The assessment concluded that although herring were not overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2017, poor recruitment would likely result in a substantial decline in herring biomass over the next several years. The stock assessment estimated that recruitment was at historic lows during the most recent five years (2013–2017), but projected that biomass could increase after reaching a low in 2019 if recruitment returns to average levels. The final stock assessment summary report is available on the Center’s website (www.nefsc.noaa.gov/ publications/). The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS to notify the Council if a fishery has become overfished or is approaching the condition of being overfished. According to the Act, ‘‘a fishery shall be classified as approaching a condition of being overfished if, based on trends in fishing effort, fishery resource size, and other appropriate factors, the Secretary estimates that the fishery will become overfished within two years.’’ In February 2019, we notified the Council that herring was approaching an overfished condition. Based on the stock assessment and at the request of the Council, we reduced the 2018 ACL in August 2018 (83 FR 42450) (from 104,800 mt to 49,900 mt) and the 2019 ACL in February 2019 (84 FR 2760) (from 49,900 mt to 15,065 mt) through inseason adjustments to prevent overfishing and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished. The ACL reduction for 2018 ensured at least a 50percent probability of preventing overfishing, while the ACL reduction for E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26875 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 2019 reflected the Council’s risk policy for herring and was consistent with the new ABC control rule developed in Amendment 8 to the Herring FMP. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has updated its schedule for stock assessments, and will now hold herring assessments every 2 years, with the next scheduled for June 2020. Accordingly, the Council and NMFS now plan to develop specifications every 2 years for the upcoming 3-year cycle. For example, the Council and NMFS will develop herring specifications in the summer/fall of 2020 for the 2021–2023 fishing years. Approved Specifications At its June 2019 meeting, the Council recommended maintaining status quo catch limits for 2019 and reducing catch limits for 2020 and 2021 (see Table 1). This rule approves herring specifications for 2019–2021 consistent with the Council’s recommendations. These specifications are intended to provide for a sustainable herring fishery and to be consistent with the Council’s harvest policy for herring. Because the Herring FMP requires herring specifications for a period of 3 years, Framework 6 analyzes maintaining the status quo 2019 specifications that we implemented via inseason adjustment in early 2019 and new specifications for 2020 and 2021. Because Framework 6 will be effective after the end of 2019, this rule focuses on the 2020–2021 specifications. TABLE 1—COMPARISON OF APPROVED ATLANTIC HERRING 2020–2021 SPECIFICATIONS (mt) TO 2019 2019 Overfishing Limit ...................................................................................................................................................... 30,668 Acceptable Biological Catch .................................................................................................................................... Management Uncertainty ......................................................................................................................................... Optimum Yield/Annual Catch Limit .......................................................................................................................... Domestic Annual Harvest ........................................................................................................................................ Border Transfer ........................................................................................................................................................ Domestic Annual Processing ................................................................................................................................... U.S. At-Sea Processing ........................................................................................................................................... Area 1A Sub-ACL (28.9%) ...................................................................................................................................... Area 1B Sub-ACL (4.3%) ........................................................................................................................................ Area 2 Sub-ACL (27.8%) ......................................................................................................................................... Area 3 Sub-ACL (39%) ............................................................................................................................................ Fixed Gear Set-Aside .............................................................................................................................................. Research Set-Aside ................................................................................................................................................. 21,266 6,200 * 15,065 15,065 0 15,065 0 * 4,354 647 4,188 5,876 39 (**) 2020–2021 41,830—2020 69,064—2021 16,131 4,560 * 11,571 11,571 100 11,471 0 * 3,344 498 3,217 4,513 30 (**) * If New Brunswick weir landings are less than 2,942 mt through October 1, then 1,000 mt will be subtracted from the management uncertainty buffer and reallocated to the Area 1A sub-ACL and ACL. Thus, the Area 1A sub-ACL would increase to 4,344 mt, and the ACL would increase to 12,571 mt. ** 3 percent of each sub-ACL. Several factors contributed to the Council’s ABC recommendations for 2020–2021. The ABC is reduced from the OFL to account for scientific uncertainty. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Council determined that a conservative method of management, specifically one that accounts for scientific uncertainty, was essential due to the current status of the herring stock and the uncertainty surrounding estimates of biomass and recruitment. Another consideration was Amendment 8’s new control rule harvest policy of reducing available harvest to explicitly account for herring’s role as forage in the ecosystem. Subsequent to the Council’s recommendations, in November 2019 we approved Amendment 8’s ABC control rule. For 2021, the SSC was uncomfortable with increasing the ABC based on the recent assessment’s projection that recruitment would increase from historical lows to average levels. Therefore, the SSC and Council recommended maintaining the 2020 ABC for 2021. The 2020 stock assessment is expected to update recruitment information and allow the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 Council to reconsider the 2021 ABC for the next specifications. The ACL is reduced from ABC to account for management uncertainty. Currently, although the FMP allows for consideration of other aspects of management uncertainty (e.g., uncertainty around discard estimates of herring caught in Federal and state waters), the only source for management uncertainty that is applied to the 2020– 2021 ABCs are landings in the New Brunswick weir fishery. Because weir fishery landings can be highly variable, fluctuating with effort and herring availability, the Council recommended a management uncertainty buffer of 4,560 mt, consistent with average landings in the New Brunswick weir fishery over the last 10 years (2009–2018). The resulting ACL for both 2020 and 2021 is 11,571 mt. The Council also recommended and this rule approves a provision that if weir fishery landings are less than 2,942 mt through October 1, NMFS will subtract 1,000 mt from the management uncertainty buffer and reallocate that 1,000 mt to the Area 1A sub-ACL and ACL. Previously, this provision is allowed if New Brunswick PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 weir landings are less than 4,000 mt through October 1. Border transfer is a processing allocation available to Canadian dealers that is included in, and does not reduce, the domestic catch limits. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides for the issuance of permits to Canadian vessels transporting U.S. harvested herring to Canada for sardine processing. The Council recommended and this rule approves 100 mt for border transfer for 2020 and 2021. The amount specified for border transfer has equaled 4,000 mt since 2000, but we reduced it to 0 mt as part of the 2019 inseason adjustment. The Council recommended 100 mt for border transfer in case there continues to be Canadian interest in transporting herring for sardine processing. The Council recommended and this rule approves maintaining status quo river herring/shad catch caps for 2020– 2021 (see Table 2). These catch caps were originally set for the fishery in the 2016–2018 specifications, and we maintained them in the inseason adjustment for 2019. Catch is tracked against river herring/shad catch caps on trips landing more than 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) of herring. Once a catch cap is reached, the possession limit for herring E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26876 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations vessels using that gear type and fishing in that area (or the corresponding catch cap closure area) is reduced to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of herring for the remainder of the fishing year. These caps are intended to meet the original catch cap goals to provide a strong incentive for the herring fleet to continue to reduce river herring and shad catch, while allowing the fleet to fully harvest the herring ACL. TABLE 2—APPROVED RIVER HERRING/SHAD CATCH CAPS (mt) FOR 2020–2021 Gulf of Maine Midwater Trawl ................................................................................................ Bottom Trawl .................................................................................................... The Council recommended status quo methods to set all other herring specifications, including the management area sub-ACLs, fixed gear set-aside, and research set-aside. Cape Cod 76.7 n/a Final 2018 Fishery Accounting On January 24, 2020, NMFS determined that there were no ACL overages in fishing year 2018 and no Southern New England/ Mid-Atlantic 32.4 n/a 129.6 122.3 Total 238.7 122.3 pound-for-pound reductions are required in 2020. Table 3 below summarizes final catch by management area. TABLE 3—FINAL FISHING YEAR 2018 ACCOUNTING BY MANAGEMENT AREA Landed herring (mt) Sub-ACL (mt) Management area Discarded herring (mt) Total herring catch (mt) Herring catch as a percentage of the sub-ACL 1A ......................................................................................... 1B ......................................................................................... 2 ........................................................................................... 3 ........................................................................................... 28,038 2,639 8,200 11,318 24,861 2,210 7,032 9,736 0 0 38 0 24,861 2,211 7,071 9,736 88.7 83.8 86.2 86 Total .............................................................................. 50,195 43,839 39 43,878 87.4 Given that this rule suspends carryover from fishing year 2019 into 2020 and no ACL overages occurred in fishing year 2018, the specifications summarized in Table 1 are approved with no modification. Other Approved Measures This rule updates the ‘‘overfished’’ and ‘‘overfishing’’ definitions to make them more consistent with the 2018 herring stock assessment and definitions used for other stocks in the region, consistent with Framework 6. The updated definitions are: The stock is considered overfished if stock biomass is less than 1⁄2 the stock biomass associated with the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) level or its proxy (e.g., Spawning Stock Biomass at MSY (SSBMSY) or proxy). The stock is considered subject to overfishing if the estimated fishing mortality rate (F) exceeds the fishing mortality rate associated with the MSY level or its proxy (e.g., FMSY or proxy). Over time, the parameters used to assess the herring stock have changed, and so have the corresponding projections used to evaluate stock status and set catch levels. The updated definition is more flexible because it can incorporate any estimate of biomass that is warranted (total biomass, SSB, or VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 relevant proxy), depending on what is used in the stock assessment and considered the best available science. The new definitions are consistent with many overfishing and overfished definitions used in the region, as well as parameters in the new ABC control rule developed in Amendment 8. Previously, regulations at § 648.201 require carryover of up to 10 percent of the unharvested catch in a herring management area shall be added to that area’s sub-ACL for the fishing year following when total catch is determined. For example, total catch for 2018 would be determined in 2019. If there was unharvested catch in 2018, the unharvested catch in a management area (up to 10 percent of the initial subACL for that area) would be added to the area’s sub-ACL for 2020. This carryover increases the sub-ACL for that management area, but it does not increase the total ACL. This rule approves the suspension of carryover of unharvested catch for the 2020 and 2021, consistent with the recommendation in Framework 6, such that unharvested catch in 2018 and 2019 will not be added to sub-ACLs for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Suspending carryover is approved because the amount of carryover from 2018 (just under 5,000 mt) is substantial relative to PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 the ACL for 2020 and 2021 (11,571 mt), and could have unintended consequences on the stock or fishery. For example, if carryover is harvested in specific management areas early in the year, other areas that are typically fished later in the year may be constrained by the ACL such that the sub-ACLs in those areas cannot be fully harvested. Estimated 2019 year end catch is less than 85 percent of the ACL for 2019 (15,574 mt), so there may also be a substantial amount of unharvested catch that would have otherwise been carried over relative to the reduced ACL for 2021 (11,571 mt). Furthermore, given the low estimate of herring biomass, concentrating fishing effort and catch in certain management areas may have negative impacts on the herring stock. Continuation of the suspension of carryover into 2021 is consistent with the Council’s conservative management due to the current status of the herring stock and the uncertainty surrounding estimates of biomass and recruitment. Regulatory Clarifications We are implementing the following administrative changes to the herring regulations under the authority of section 305(d) to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides that the Secretary of Commerce may promulgate E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations regulations necessary to carry out an FMP or the Magnuson-Stevens Act. First, in §§ 648.4, 648.7, 648.10, 648.11, 648.14, 648.15, 648.80, 648.83, 648.86, 648.201, 648.202, 648.204, and 648.205, this rule simplifies the names of herring vessel permits. Previously, each herring vessel permit has two names used in regulations, the first name specifies the permit type (i.e., limited or open access) and herring management area and the second name assigns a category letter to each permit type. For example, the All Areas Limited Access Herring Permit is also known as a Category A Herring Permit. This rule simplifies references to herring vessel permits by only using the category name in regulation. This clarification is intended to aid in the understandability of herring regulations as most stakeholders refer to herring vessel permits by category name. Second, this rule clarifies the transiting and pre-landing prohibitions for the herring fishery in § 648.14. This rule clarifies that vessels are prohibited from transiting Area 1A during June through September with midwater trawl gear onboard, unless gear is properly stowed and not available for immediate use, consistent with § 648.2. This rule also clarifies that herring vessels are required to notify NMFS of offloading through the vessel monitoring system of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. These requirements currently exist elsewhere in the regulations, and this rule updates regulations in § 648.14, accordingly. Third, this rule updates the definition of OY consistent with new National Standard guidance for OY in § 648.200. This rule also updates terminology to reflect that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (Commission’s) Herring Section is now a Herring Board and that the Commission’s Atlantic Herring Technical Committee conducts the work that was previously described as being conducted by the Plan Review Team. Comments and Responses NMFS published a proposed rule on January 28, 2020 (85 FR 4932), seeking comment on the proposed specifications and measures. NMFS received eight comment letters on the proposed rule, including comments from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Seatuck Environmental Association, and six members of the public. A summary of comments and NMFS responses is presented below: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 Comment 1: CLF, Seatuck Environmental Association, and six members of the public supported the proposed specifications. CLF also supported changes to the overfished/ overfishing definitions, and suspension of carryover. Response: NMFS agrees with the Council’s rationale for its specifications recommendation, as described earlier in this rule. These measures are approved without modification. Comment 2: While the Seatuck Environmental Association supported the river herring and shad catch caps, CLF did not, stating that the proposed caps are inconsistent with National Standard 9 and inconsistent with the purpose and need of Framework Adjustment 3 to the Herring FMP. Response: NMFS has determined that the river herring and shad catch caps are likely sufficiently conservative, meet the original catch cap goals to provide an incentive for the herring fleet to continue to reduce river herring and shad catch, and are consistent with National Standard 9. Catch caps were implemented through Framework 3, with a goal of minimizing river herring and shad bycatch and bycatch mortality to the extent practicable, while allowing the herring fishery an opportunity to fully harvest the herring ACL. Framework 3 established a process for setting and modifying catch caps for river herring (alewife and blueback) and shad (American and hickory) catch caps in the Atlantic herring fishery (herring fishery), and sets specific river herring and shad catch caps for the 2014 and 2015 fishing years. Framework 3 outlined a process for setting and modifying the river herring and shad catch caps that includes: Identification of gears, areas, and trips that would be subject to the catch caps; changes to reporting requirements for vessels issued limited access and Herring Management Areas 2⁄3 open access herring permits; criteria that would trigger the closure of an area to directed herring fishing for a particular gear type; and a list of management measures related to setting catch caps that can be modified through the herring specifications process and/or framework adjustment process. Catch caps for 2014 and 2015 were set based upon the most recent river herring stock assessment conducted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which indicated that river herring populations have declined from historic levels and many factors would need to be addressed to allow their recovery, including: Fishing in both state and Federal waters; improvement of river passageways and water quality; reduced predation; and PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 26877 understanding the effects of climate change. These catch caps were intended to be adjusted when new information became available. The approved catch caps were originally implemented in a 2016–1018 specifications action and were calculated using updated data and a revised methodology. The 2016–2018 caps were set based on recent Commission river herring and shad assessments, which indicated that data are not robust enough to determine a biologically-based river herring/shad catch cap and/or the potential effects of such a catch cap on river herring/shad populations on a coast-wide scale. Through this specifications action, proactive catch caps were set to manage and minimize catch to the extent practicable. No new information is available that inform altering the previously approved river herring and shad catch caps. The approved catch caps likely promote the concept of reducing bycatch to the extent practicable by providing an incentive to avoid incidental catch of river herring and shad while still allowing an opportunity to achieve OY. When a cap trigger is reached, it implements a minimal Atlantic herring possession limit (area closure) that is expected to end directed fishing effort for herring in the corresponding closure area for the rest of that fishing year. In approving status quo river herring and shad catch caps, the Council acknowledged that it is possible that the fishery will catch the same amount of haddock, river herring, and shad, even with a lower herring quota. However, the approved catch caps likely reduce bycatch and bycatch mortality to the extent practicable by providing an incentive to avoid the incidental catch of river herring and shad by allowing an opportunity to achieve OY. This action also maintains the trigger that implements a low Atlantic herring possession limit (area closure) that is likely to further limit bycatch and bycatch mortality once the cap is reached. The approved caps remain proactive and should continue to provide an incentive for the Atlantic herring industry to avoid river herring and shad catch and bycatch, while still allowing an opportunity to use the full Atlantic herring ACL. Therefore, this action is both consistent with the purpose and need of Framework 3 and National Standard 9. Changes From the Proposed Rule This rule includes slight adjustments to the regulatory corrections in 50 CFR 648.7(b)(2)(i), 648.7(m), 648.11(r)(1)(iv)(A), and 648.80(e)(5) E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26878 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations implemented under section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to account for new regulations implemented in the New England Industry-Funded Monitoring Omnibus Amendment (85 FR 7414, February 7, 2020). Classification The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Herring FMP, National Standards and other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds good cause under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in this action’s effective date. This action sets 2020 herring catch limits, puts in place other herring specifications, and sets river herring/shad catch caps for the herring fishery. This rule must be in effect as soon as practicable to prevent overharvesting the ACL and management area sub-ACLs and to ensure the FMP’s goals and objectives are achieved. Because this rule lowers herring catch limits directly related to preventing overharvesting the ACL, a 30-day delay would be contrary to the public interest. Delaying the effective date of the specifications for 30 days will affect NMFS’ ability to prevent the herring fishery from exceeding its 2020 area sub-ACLs and ACL. Federal regulations at 50 CFR 648.201(a)(1)(i) require NMFS to implement a 2,000-lb possession limit for each management area through the end of the current fishing year once it is projected that 92 percent of the area sub-ACL will be harvested. NMFS must, under § 648.201(a)(1)(ii), implement the 2,000-lb possession limit for the whole fishery (all areas) when 95-percent of the total herring ACL is harvested. As required by § 648.201(a)(4), NMFS must also implement the 2,000-lb possession limit for river herring/shad accountability measure areas when 95percent of the river herring/shad catch cap for a specific area is reached. This action reduces the 2020 herring ACL (11,571 mt) by nearly 25 percent compared to the ACL that was in place in fishing year 2019 (15,065 mt). This action similarly reduces sub-ACLs for each Herring Management Area. Because this action reduces the 2020 herring ACL, NMFS is concerned about preventing catch from exceeding harvest limits in Herring Management Areas 2 (3,217 mt reduced from 4,188 mt) and 3 (4,513 mt reduced from 5,876 mt) which opened on January 1, 2020. Delaying implementation could encourage a derby-style rush to fish before the lower limits are in effect. This VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 not only could result in exceeding the catch limits, but also could pose safety concerns as vessels might perceive a greater incentive to fish during the delay that could be contrary to safe practices. If catch exceeds a sub-ACL, the excess catch must be deducted from a future sub-ACL and would reduce future fishing opportunities. The 2019–2021 herring specifications are based on the best available science. This action is reducing the herring ACL and sub-ACLs. Delaying implementation of the 2020–2021 herring specifications for 30 days would be contrary to the public interest because the herring fishery may exceed the new, lower subACLs and/or the ACL. Exceeding these harvest limits would negatively impact the herring industry when future harvest is limited to account for excess catch. The specifications are part of regular rulemaking prescribed by the FMP’s regulations. As such, herring fishery participants expect the implementation of the specifications at the earliest date practicable. Catch limits are an integral part of the fishery and are not new requirements. The herring fishery participants are well aware of and accustomed to operating under the catch limits and catch caps. A 30-day delay to adjust these measures therefore is unnecessary because it provides no benefit to the herring fishery. Conversely, a 30-day delay could result in undue loss of economic opportunity from unnecessary catch restrictions or future economic restrictions due to otherwise avoidable overages in this fishing year. For these reasons, NMFS has determined that a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this rule is contrary to the public interest. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. This final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for this final rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603. The FRFA incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS responses to those comments, and a summary of the analyses completed in the Framework 6 EA. A summary of the IRFA was published in the proposed rule for this action and is not repeated here. A description of why this action was considered, the objectives of, and the legal basis for this action is contained in the preamble to the PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 proposed rule (85 FR 4932), and is not repeated here. All of the documents that constitute the FRFA are available from NMFS and a copy of the IRFA, the RIR, and the EA are available upon request (see ADDRESSES) or via the internet at www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov. A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency’s Assessment of Such Issues, and a Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such Comments NMFS received eight comment letters on the proposed rule. Those comments, and NMFS’ responses, are contained in the Comments and Responses section of this final rule and are not repeated here. None of the comments addressed the IRFA and NMFS did not make any changes in the final rule based on public comment. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which This Final Rule Would Apply For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. For the purposes of this analysis, ownership entities are defined by those entities with common ownership personnel as listed on permit application documentation. Permits with identical ownership personnel are categorized as a single entity. For example, if five permits have the same seven personnel listed as co-owners on their application paperwork, those seven personnel form one ownership entity, covering those five permits. If one or several of the seven owners also own additional vessels, with sub-sets of the original seven personnel or with new co-owners, those ownership arrangements are deemed to be separate ownership entities for the purpose of this analysis. This rule would affect all permitted herring vessels; therefore, a directly regulated entity is a firm that owns at least one herring permit. There are many businesses that hold an openaccess (Category D) permit. These businesses catch a small fraction of herring; furthermore, they are minimally E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations affected by the regulations. Firms are defined as active in the herring fishery if they landed any herring in 2018. This section describes the directly regulated small entities in four classes: All permitted firms; all active firms; limited access permitted firms; and active limited access permitted firms. In 2018, there were 1,205 firms (1,193 small) that held at least one herring permit. There were 62 (60 small) active firms that held at least one herring permit. There were 68 (62 small) firms that held at least one limited access permit, 31 (29 small) of which were active. Small entity limited access permit holders as a whole derived 26879 approximately 38 percent of total entity revenue from the herring fishery. All small entity herring permit holders as a whole derived approximately 29 percent of total entity revenue from the herring fishery. Approved measures decrease the ACL in 2020 and 2021 from the baseline, as presented in Table 4. TABLE 4—HERRING ACL FOR THE BASELINE (2019) COMPARED TO APPROVED 2020 AND 2021 SPECIFICATIONS Baseline (mt) Year ACL .......................................................................................................................................................................... Area 1A Sub-ACL (28.9%) ...................................................................................................................................... Area 1B Sub-ACL (4.3%) ........................................................................................................................................ Area 2 Sub-ACL (27.8%) ......................................................................................................................................... Area 3 Sub-ACL (39%) ............................................................................................................................................ To examine effects of the approved measures, this analysis assumes catch is equal to the ACL. Recent catch from the four herring management areas has frequently been below the ACL and subACLs. However, recent ACLs have been much higher than the Council’s preferred 2020 ACL and portions of the fishery have been restricted due to catch of non-target species (i.e., river herring and shad). With decreasing ACLs but status quo non-target species catch caps, excessive catch of non-target species becomes less likely. The sub-ACL percentages remain constant between the baseline period (2019) through 2020 and 2021; therefore, there is an approximate 23-percent decrease in available catch in each management area from 2019 to 2021. Using this information we can evaluate the effects of the action on small entity revenues. The average percentage of total small entity revenue derived from each management area is listed in Table 5. TABLE 5—AVERAGE PERCENTAGE OF SMALL ENTITY REVENUE FROM EACH HERRING MANAGEMENT AREA Management area Overall average percent entity revenue 1A ......................................... 1B ......................................... 2 ............................................ 3 ............................................ 44 40 10 43 Seventeen small entities, mainly purse seine vessels, fished for herring in Area 1A in 2018. Ten of these small entities derived 30 percent or less of total entity revenue from Area 1A. Seven small entities derived more than 80 percent of total entity revenue from VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 Area 1A. Area 1A generates revenue for more small entities than any other area; all other areas only have 3 entities deriving more than 80 percent of revenue from herring. Nine small entities fished for herring in Area 1B in 2018, with 5 entities deriving 30 percent or less from the area and 4 entities deriving between 70 and 100 percent from 1B. Thirty-nine small entities fished for herring in Area 2 in 2018. Twenty-seven of them derived between 0 and 1 percent of total entity revenue from Area 2, and another 6 entities derived less than 30 percent of entity revenue from Area 2. Four entities derived between 70 and 100 percent of total entity revenue from herring in Area 2. Finally, 8 small entities fished for herring in Area 3 in 2018. Four of those entities derived less than 30 percent of total entity revenue from Areas 3 and 4 entities derived between 70 and 100 percent of total entity revenue from Area 3. While the overall fishery ACL will decline by 23 percent, NMFS does not expect that each of these small entities will have a 23-percent reduction in herring revenue. Rather, because of the low catch limits, some companies may decide not to fish for herring in 2020 and 2021 and would lose 100 percent of revenue from herring. If this happens, the remaining small entities who fish for herring in 2020 and 2021 may realize less than 23-percent reduction in revenue from herring, as there may be fewer vessels herring fishing. Because entities that catch herring are also active in other fisheries, the reduction in total revenue for small entities would likely be less than the reduction in herring revenue. Without being able to predict these specific shifts, Table 6 estimates the percent change for small entities in PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 15,066 4,354 647 4,188 5,876 2020 and 2021 specifications (mt) 11,571 3,344 498 3,217 4,513 total revenue resulting from a 23percent reduction in the herring ACL. TABLE 6—ESTIMATES OF PERCENT REDUCTION IN TOTAL SMALL ENTITY REVENUE FROM THIS ACTION Percent change in total small entity revenue 0 to 1 percent ....................... 1 to 7 percent ....................... 18 to 23 percent ................... Count of small entities 17 4 8 Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements This final rule does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes Specification of commercial harvest and river herring/shad catch caps are constrained by the conservation objectives set forth in the FMP and implemented at 50 CFR part 648, subpart K under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Furthermore, specifications must be based on the best available scientific information, consistent with National Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. With the specification options considered, the measures in this final rule are the only measures that both satisfy these overarching regulatory and statutory requirements while minimizing, to the extent possible, impacts on small entities. This rule implements the herring specifications outlined in Table 1 and the river herring/shad catch caps E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26880 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations outlined in Table 2. Other options considered by the Council, including those that could have less of an impact on small entities, failed to meet one or more of these stated objectives and, therefore, cannot be implemented. Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a bulletin to permit holders that also serves as small entity compliance guide was prepared. This final rule and the guide (i.e., bulletin) will be sent via email to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office herring email list and are available on the website at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/ atlantic-herring. Hard copies of the guide and this final rule will be available upon request (see ADDRESSES). List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: April 29, 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 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.4, revise paragraphs (a)(10)(ii), (a)(10)(iv)(A) through (C), and (a)(10)(v), and remove paragraph (a)(10)(vi). The revisions read as follows: ■ § 648.4 Vessel permits. (a) * * * (10) * * * (ii) Atlantic herring carrier. An Atlantic herring carrier must have been issued and have on board a herring permit and a letter of authorization to receive and transport Atlantic herring caught by another permitted fishing vessel or it must have been issued and have on board a herring permit and have declared an Atlantic herring carrier trip VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 via VMS consistent with the requirements at § 648.10(m)(1). Once a vessel declares an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS, it is bound to the VMS operating requirements, specified at § 648.10, for the remainder of the fishing year. On Atlantic herring carrier trips under either the letter of authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration, an Atlantic herring carrier is exempt from the VMS, IVR, and VTR vessel reporting requirements, as specified in § 648.7 and subpart K of this part, except as otherwise required by this part. If not declaring an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS, an Atlantic herring carrier vessel must request and obtain a letter of authorization from the Regional Administrator, and there is a minimum enrollment period of 7 calendar days for a letter of authorization. Atlantic herring carrier vessels operating under a letter of authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration may not conduct fishing activities, except for purposes of transport, or possess any fishing gear on board the vessel capable of catching or processing herring, and they must be used exclusively as an Atlantic herring carrier vessel, and they must carry observers if required by NMFS. While operating under a valid letter of authorization or Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration, such vessels are exempt from any herring possession limits associated with the herring vessel permit categories. Atlantic herring carrier vessels operating under a letter of authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration may not possess, transfer, or land any species other than Atlantic herring, except that they may possess Northeast multispecies transferred by vessels issued either a Category A or B Herring Permit, consistent with the applicable possession limits for such vessels specified at § 648.86(a)(3) and (k). * * * * * (iv) * * * (A) A vessel of the United States that fishes for, possesses, or lands more than 6,600 lb (3 mt) of herring, except vessels that fish exclusively in state waters for herring, must have been issued and carry on board either one of the limited access herring permits described in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) through (3) of this section or an open access Category E Herring Permit (as described in § 648.4(a)(10)(v)(B)), including both vessels engaged in pair trawl operations. (1) Category A Herring Permit (All Areas Limited Access Herring Permit). A vessel may fish for, possess, and land unlimited amounts of herring from all PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 herring areas, provided the vessel qualifies for and has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this part. (2) Category B Herring Permit (Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access Herring Permit). A vessel may fish for, possess, and land unlimited amounts of herring from herring Areas 2 and 3, provided the vessel qualifies for and has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this part. (3) Category C Herring Permit (Limited Access Incidental Catch Herring Permit). (i) A vessel that does not qualify for either of the permits specified in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) and (2) of this section may fish for, possess, and land up to 55,000 lb (25 mt) of herring from any herring area, provided the vessel qualifies for and has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this part. (ii) A vessel that does not qualify for a Category A Herring Permit specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) of this section, but qualifies for the Category B Herring Permit specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(A)(2) of this section, may fish for, possess, and land up to 55,000 lb (25 mt) of herring from Area 1, provided the vessel qualifies for and has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this part. (B) Eligibility for Category A and B Herring Permits, and Confirmation of Permit History (CPH). A vessel is eligible for and may be issued either a Category A or B Herring Permit if it meets the permit history criteria in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1) of this section and the relevant landing requirements in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2) and (3) of this section. (1) Permit history criteria for Category A and B Herring Permits. (i) The vessel must have been issued a Federal herring permit (Category 1 or 2) that was valid as of November 10, 2005; or (ii) The vessel is replacing a vessel that was issued a Federal herring permit (Category 1 or 2) between November 10, 2003, and November 9, 2005. To qualify as a replacement vessel, the replacement vessel and the vessel being replaced must both be owned by the same vessel owner; or, if the vessel being replaced was sunk or destroyed, the vessel owner must have owned the vessel being replaced at the time it sunk or was destroyed; or, if the vessel being replaced was sold to another person, the vessel owner must provide a copy of a written agreement between the buyer of the vessel being replaced and the owner/seller of the vessel, documenting that the vessel owner/seller retained the herring permit and all herring landings history. E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (2) Landings criteria for the Category A Herring Permit—(i) The vessel must have landed at least 500 mt of herring in any one calendar year between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 2003, as verified by dealer reports submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases where a vessel has sold herring but there are no required dealer receipts, e.g., transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the vessel owner can submit other documentation that documents such transactions and proves that the herring thus transferred should be added to their landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in pair trawl operations may provide landings information as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a vessel that is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement vessel consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section. (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for vessels under construction, reconstruction, or purchase contract. An applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(i) of this section through December 31, 2004. (iii) Landings criteria for vessels using landings from pair trawl operations. To qualify for a limited access permit using landings from pair trawl operations, the owners of the vessels engaged in that operation must agree on how to divide such landings between the two vessels and apply for the permit jointly, as verified by dealer reports submitted to NMFS or valid dealer receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. (3) Landings criteria for the Category B Herring Permit. (i) The vessel must have landed at least 250 mt of herring in any one calendar year between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 2003, as verified by dealer reports submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases where a vessel has sold herring but there are no required dealer receipts, e.g., transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the vessel owner can submit other documentation that documents such transactions and proves that the herring thus transferred should be added to their landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in pair VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 trawl operations may provide landings information as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a vessel that is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement vessel consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section. (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for vessels under construction, reconstruction or purchase contract. An applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(3)(i) of this section through December 31, 2004. (iii) Landings criteria for vessels using landings from pair trawl operations. See paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. (4) CPH. A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but owned a vessel that satisfies the permit eligibility requirements in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B) of this section that has sunk, been destroyed, or transferred to another person, but that has not been replaced, may apply for and receive a CPH that allows for a replacement vessel to obtain the relevant limited access herring permit if the fishing and permit history of such vessel has been retained lawfully by the applicant as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and consistent with (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section. (C) Eligibility for Category C Herring Permit, and CPH. A vessel is eligible for and may be issued a Category C Herring Permit if it meets the permit history criteria specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(1) of this section and the landings criteria in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(2) of this section. (1) Permit history criteria. (i) The vessel must have been issued a Federal permit for Northeast multispecies, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring, longfin or Illex squid, or butterfish that was valid as of November 10, 2005; or (ii) The vessel is replacing a vessel that was issued a Federal permit for Northeast multispecies, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring, longfin or Illex squid, or butterfish that was issued between November 10, 2003, and November 9, 2005. To qualify as a replacement vessel, the replacement vessel and the vessel being replaced must both be owned by the same vessel owner; or, if the vessel being replaced was sunk or destroyed, the vessel owner PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 26881 must have owned the vessel being replaced at the time it sunk or was destroyed; or, if the vessel being replaced was sold to another person, the vessel owner must provide a copy of a written agreement between the buyer of the vessel being replaced and the owner/seller of the vessel, documenting that the vessel owner/seller retained the herring permit and all herring landings history. (2) Landings criteria for Category C Herring Permit. (i) The vessel must have landed at least 15 mt of herring in any calendar year between January 1, 1988, and December 31, 2003, as verified by dealer reports submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases where a vessel has sold herring but there are no required dealer receipts, e.g., transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the vessel owner can submit other documentation that documents such transactions and proves that the herring thus transferred should be added to the vessel’s landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in pair trawl operations may provide landings information as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a vessel that is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement vessel consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section. (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for vessels under construction, reconstruction or purchase contract. An applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(2)(i) of this section through December 31, 2004. (3) CPH. A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but owned a vessel that satisfies the permit eligibility requirements in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C) of this section that has sunk, been destroyed, or transferred to another person, but that has not been replaced, may apply for and receive a CPH that allows for a replacement vessel to obtain the relevant limited access herring permit if the fishing and permit history of such vessel has been retained lawfully by the applicant as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26882 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations consistent with (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section. * * * * * (v) Open access herring permits. A vessel that has not been issued a limited access herring permit may obtain: (A) A Category D Herring Permit (All Areas Open Access Herring Permit) to possess up to 6,600 lb (3 mt) of herring per trip from all herring management areas, limited to one landing per calendar day; and/or (B) A Category E Herring Permit (Areas 2/3 Open Access Herring Permit) to possess up to 20,000 lb (9 mt) of herring per trip from Herring Management Areas 2 and 3, limited to one landing per calendar day, provided the vessel has also been issued a Limited Access Atlantic Mackerel permit, as defined at § 648.4(a)(5)(iii). * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.7, revise paragraphs (b)(2)(i), (b)(3)(i) introductory text, and (b)(3)(i)(A) to read as follows: § 648.7 Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) * * * (i) Atlantic herring vessel owners or operators issued a Category D Herring Permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a Category D Herring Permit to fish for herring must report catch (retained and discarded) of herring via an IVR system for each week herring was caught, unless exempted by the Regional Administrator. IVR reports are not required for weeks when no herring was caught. The report shall include at least the following information, and any other information required by the Regional Administrator: Vessel identification; week in which herring are caught; management areas fished; and pounds retained and pounds discarded of herring caught in each management area. The IVR reporting week begins on Sunday at 0001 hour (hr) (12:01 a.m.) local time and ends Saturday at 2400 hr (12 midnight). Weekly Atlantic herring catch reports must be submitted via the IVR system by midnight each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week. Reports are required even if herring caught during the week has not yet been landed. This report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable reporting requirements of this section. * * * * * (3) * * * (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators issued a limited access permit or Category E Herring Permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 limited access permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category E Herring Permit to fish for herring must report catch (retained and discarded) of herring daily via VMS, unless exempted by the Regional Administrator. The report shall include at least the following information, and any other information required by the Regional Administrator: Fishing Vessel Trip Report serial number; month and day herring was caught; pounds retained for each herring management area; and pounds discarded for each herring management area. Additionally, the owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access permit or Category E Herring Permit to fish for herring using midwater trawl or bottom trawl gear must report daily via VMS the estimated total amount of all species retained (in pounds, landed weight) by statistical area for use in tracking catch against catch caps (haddock, river herring and shad) in the herring fishery. Daily Atlantic herring VMS catch reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals for each day and must be submitted by 0900 hr (9:00 a.m.) of the following day. Reports are required even if herring caught that day has not yet been landed. This report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable reporting requirements of this section. (A) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring Permit must submit a catch report via VMS each day, regardless of how much herring is caught (including days when no herring is caught), unless exempted from this requirement by the Regional Administrator. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 648.10, revise paragraphs (b)(8) and (m) to read as follows: § 648.10 VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators. * * * * * (b) * * * (8) A vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C), or a vessel issued a Category E Herring Permit, or a vessel declaring an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS. * * * * * (m) Atlantic herring VMS notification requirements. (1) A vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring Permit intending to declare into the herring fishery or a vessel issued a herring permit and intending to declare an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS must notify NMFS by declaring a herring trip with the appropriate gear PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 code prior to leaving port at the start of each trip in order to harvest, possess, or land herring on that trip. (2) A vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring Permit or a vessel that declared an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.11, revise paragraphs (a), (m)(1)(i) introductory text, (m)(1)(ii) introductory text, (m)(1)(iv), (m)(2)(i), (m)(2)(iii) introductory text, and (m)(7)(iv) through (vi) to read as follows: § 648.11 Monitoring coverage. (a) Coverage. The Regional Administrator may request any vessel holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops, NE multispecies, monkfish, skates, Atlantic mackerel, squid, butterfish, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, tilefish, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, or Atlantic deep-sea red crab; or a moratorium permit for summer flounder; to carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer. A vessel holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops is subject to the additional requirements specified in paragraph (k) of this section. A vessel holding a Category A or B Herring Permit is subject to the additional requirements specified in paragraph (m) of this section. Also, any vessel or vessel owner/operator that fishes for, catches or lands hagfish, or intends to fish for, catch, or land hagfish in or from the exclusive economic zone must carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer when requested by the Regional Administrator in accordance with the requirements of this section. * * * * * (m) * * * (1) * * * (i) In addition to the requirement for any vessel holding an Atlantic herring permit to carry a NMFS-certified observer described in paragraph (a) of this section, vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are subject to industry-funded monitoring (IFM) requirements on declared Atlantic herring trips, unless the vessel is carrying a NMFS-certified observer to fulfill Standard Bycatch Reporting E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Methodology requirements. An owner of a midwater trawl vessel, required to carry a NMFS-certified observer when fishing in Northeast Multispecies Closed Areas at § 648.202(b), may purchase an IFM high volume fisheries (HVF) observer to access Closed Areas on a trip-by-trip basis. General requirements for IFM programs in New England Council FMPs are specified in paragraph (g) of this section. Possible IFM monitoring for the Atlantic herring fishery includes NMFS-certified observers, at-sea monitors, and electronic monitoring and portside samplers, as defined in § 648.2. * * * * * (ii) Vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are subject to IFM at-sea monitoring coverage. If the New England Council determines that electronic monitoring, used in conjunction with portside sampling, is an adequate substitute for at-sea monitoring on vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear, and it is approved by the Regional Administrator as specified in paragraph (m)(1)(iii) of this section, then owners of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may choose either IFM at-sea monitoring coverage or IFM electronic monitoring and IFM portside sampling coverage, pursuant with requirements in paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section. Once owners of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may choose an IFM monitoring type, vessel owners must select one IFM monitoring type per fishing year and notify NMFS of their selected IFM monitoring type via selection form six months in advance of the beginning of the SBRM year (October 31). NMFS will provide vessels owners with selection forms no later than September 1 in advance of the beginning of the SBRM year. * * * * * (iv) Owners, operators, or managers of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are responsible for their vessel’s compliance with IFM requirements. When NMFS notifies a vessel owner, operator, or manager of the requirement to have monitoring coverage on a specific declared Atlantic herring trip, that vessel may not fish for, take, retain, possess, or land any Atlantic herring without the required monitoring coverage. Vessels may only embark on a declared Atlantic herring trip without the required monitoring coverage if the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has received a waiver for the required monitoring coverage for that trip, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 pursuant to paragraphs (m)(2)(iii)(B) and (C) and (m)(3) of this section. * * * * * (2) * * * (i) At least 48 hr prior to the beginning of any trip on which a vessel may harvest, possess, or land Atlantic herring, the owner, operator, or manager of a vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a vessel issued an open access herring permit (Category D or E) fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in § 648.200(f)(1) and (3), or a vessel acting as a herring carrier must notify NMFS/FSB of the trip. * * * * * (iii) For vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit, the trip notification must also include the following requests, if appropriate: * * * * * (7) * * * (iv) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips catch for any of the reasons described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator must move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the fishing trip. (v) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips catch for any reason on a trip selected by NMFS for portside sampling, pursuant to paragraph (m)(3) of this section, the vessel operator must move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the fishing trip. (vi) If catch is slipped by a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit for any reason not described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator must immediately terminate the trip and return to port. No fishing activity may occur during the return to port. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 648.14, revise paragraphs (k)(1)(i)(D); (r)(1)(vi)(A), (r)(1)(vii)(D) and (E), (r)(1)(viii)(B) and (C), remove paragraph (r)(1)(viii)(D), and revise paragraphs (r)(2)(i) through (iv) and (r)(2)(ix) through (xiv). The revisions read as follows: § 648.14 * PO 00000 * Prohibitions. * Frm 00049 * Fmt 4700 * Sfmt 4700 26883 (k) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (D) Any haddock, and up to 100 lb (45 kg) of other regulated NE multispecies other than haddock, were harvested by a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear, pursuant to the requirements in § 648.80(d) and (e), and such fish are not sold for human consumption. * * * * * (r) * * * (1) * * * (vi) * * * (A) For the purposes of observer deployment, fail to notify NMFS/FSB at least 48 hr prior to departing on a declared herring trip with a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl or purse seine gear, or on a trip with a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that is fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in § 648.200(f)(1) and (3), pursuant to the requirements in § 648.80(d) and (e). * * * * * (vii) * * * (D) Transit Area 1A from June 1 through September 30 with more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring while having on board midwater trawl gear that is not properly stowed or available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. (E) Discard haddock at sea that has been brought on deck, or pumped into the hold, of a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or on a trip with a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit fishing with midwater trawl gear, pursuant to the requirements in § 648.80(d) and (e). * * * * * (viii) * * * (B) Fail to notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish, if a vessel has been issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring Permit or has declared an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS. (C) Fail to declare via VMS into the herring fishery by entering the appropriate herring fishery code and appropriate gear code prior to leaving port at the start of each trip to harvest, E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26884 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations possess, or land herring, if a vessel has been issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or issued a Category E Herring Permit or is intending to act as an Atlantic herring carrier. * * * * * (2) * * * (i) Sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer haddock or other regulated NE multispecies (cod, witch flounder, plaice, yellowtail flounder, pollock, winter flounder, windowpane flounder, redfish, white hake, and Atlantic wolffish); or attempt to sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer haddock or other regulated NE multispecies for human consumption; if the regulated NE multispecies are landed by a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d). (ii) Fail to comply with requirements for herring processors/dealers that handle individual fish to separate out, and retain, for at least 12 hours, all haddock offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d). (iii) Sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer; or attempt to sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer; to another person, any haddock or other regulated NE. multispecies (cod, witch flounder, plaice, yellowtail flounder, pollock, winter flounder, windowpane flounder, redfish, white hake, and Atlantic wolffish) separated out from a herring catch offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d). (iv) While operating as an at-sea herring processor, fail to comply with requirements to separate out and retain all haddock offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d). * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 (ix) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to move 15 nm (27.78 km), as required by §§ 648.11(m)(7)(iv) and (v) and 648.202(b)(4)(iv). (x) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to immediately return to port, as required by §§ 648.11(m)(7)(vi) and 648.202(b)(4)(iv). (xi) Fail to complete, sign, and submit a Released Catch Affidavit as required by §§ 648.11(m)(7)(iii) and 648.202(b)(4)(ii). (xii) Fail to report or fail to accurately report a slippage event on the Atlantic herring daily VMS catch report, as required by §§ 648.11(m)(7)(iii) and 648.202(b)(4)(iii). (xiii) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to comply with industry-funded monitoring requirements at § 648.11(m). (xiv) For a vessel with a Category A or B Herring Permit, fail to comply with its NMFS-approved vessel monitoring plan requirements, as described at § 648.11(m). * * * * * ■ 7. In § 648.15, revise paragraphs (d) and (e) to read as follows: § 648.15 Facilitation of enforcement. * * * * * (d) Retention of haddock by herring dealers and processors. (1) Federally permitted herring dealers and processors, including at-sea processors, that cull or separate out from the herring catch all fish other than herring in the course of normal operations, must separate out and retain all haddock offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d). Such haddock may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, and must be retained, after they have been separated, for at least 12 hours for dealers and processors on land, and for 12 hours after landing by at-sea processors. The dealer or processor, including at-sea processors, must clearly indicate the vessel that landed the retained haddock or transferred the retained haddock to an at-sea processor. Authorized officers must be given access to inspect the haddock. (2) All haddock separated out and retained is subject to reporting requirements specified at § 648.7. (e) Retention of haddock by herring vessels using midwater trawl gear. A PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d), may not discard any haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold. ■ 8. In § 648.80, revise paragraphs (d)(4) through (6) and (e)(4) through (6) to read as follows: § 648.80 NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on gear and methods of fishing. * * * * * (d) * * * (4) The vessel does not fish for, possess or land NE. multispecies, except that a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit and fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section, may possess and land haddock and other regulated multispecies consistent with the catch caps and possession restrictions in § 648.86(a)(3) and (k). Such haddock or other regulated NE multispecies may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. Haddock or other regulated NE multispecies that are separated out from the herring catch pursuant to § 648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to this paragraph (d), may not discard haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold; (5) To fish for herring under this exemption, a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in § 648.200(f)(1) and (3), must provide notice of the following information to NMFS at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into these areas for the purposes of observer deployment: Vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations telephone number for contact; the date, time, and port of departure; and (6) A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip with midwater trawl gear, or a vessel issued a Category C or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/ or 3, as defined at § 648.200(f)(1) and (3), must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. * * * * * (e) * * * (4) The vessel does not fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies, except that vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip may possess and land haddock or other regulated species consistent with possession restrictions in § 648.86(a)(3) and (k), respectively. Such haddock or other regulated multispecies may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. Haddock or other regulated species that are separated out from the herring catch pursuant to § 648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may not discard haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold; (5) To fish for herring under this exemption, vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit must provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; telephone number for contact; and the date, time, and port of departure, at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into these areas for the purposes of observer deployment; and (6) All vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 notification minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. * * * * * ■ 9. In § 648.83, revise paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows: § 648.83 Multispecies minimum fish sizes. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) Vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit may possess and land haddock and other regulated species that are smaller than the minimum size specified under § 648.83, consistent with the bycatch caps specified in § 648.86(a)(3) and (k). Such fish may not be sold for human consumption. * * * * * ■ 10. In § 648.86, revise paragraphs (a)(3)(i), (a)(3)(ii)(A)(1), and (k) to read as follows: § 648.86 NE Multispecies possession restrictions. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) Incidental catch allowance for some Atlantic herring vessels. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d), may only possess and land haddock, in accordance with requirements specified in § 648.80(d) and (e). (ii) * * * (A) * * * (1) Haddock incidental catch cap. When the Regional Administrator has determined that the incidental catch allowance for a given haddock stock, as specified in § 648.90(a)(4)(iii)(D), has been caught, no vessel issued an Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in the applicable stock area, i.e., the Herring GOM Haddock Accountability Measure (AM) Area or Herring GB Haddock AM Area, as defined in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) and (3) of this section, may fish for, possess, or land herring in excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip in or from that area, unless all herring possessed and landed by the vessel were caught outside the applicable AM Area and the vessel’s gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2 while transiting the AM Area. Upon this determination, the haddock possession limit is reduced to 0 lb (0 kg) for a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear or PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 26885 for a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or gear used, in the applicable AM area, unless the vessel also possesses a NE multispecies permit and is operating on a declared (consistent with § 648.10(g)) NE multispecies trip. In making this determination, the Regional Administrator shall use haddock catches observed by NMFS-certified observers or monitors by herring vessel trips using midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in § 648.200(f)(1) and (3), expanded to an estimate of total haddock catch for all such trips in a given haddock stock area. * * * * * (k) Other regulated NE multispecies possession restrictions for some Atlantic herring vessels. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit on a declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or gear used, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to § 648.80(d), may possess and land haddock, and up to 100 lb (45 kg), combined, of other regulated NE. multispecies, other than haddock, in accordance with the requirements in § 648.80(d) and (e). Such fish may not be sold for human consumption. * * * * * ■ 11. In § 648.200, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), and (c) to read as follows: § 648.200 Specifications. (a) The Atlantic Herring Plan Development Team (PDT) shall meet at least every 3 years, but no later than July of the year before new specifications are implemented, with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (Commission) Atlantic Herring Technical Committee (TC) to develop and recommend the following specifications for a period of 3 years for consideration by the New England Fishery Management Council’s Atlantic Herring Oversight Committee: Overfishing Limit (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Annual Catch Limit (ACL), Optimum yield (OY), domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic annual processing (DAP), U.S. at-sea processing (USAP), border transfer (BT), the sub-ACL for each management area, including seasonal periods as specified at § 648.201(d) and modifications to sub-ACLs as specified at § 648.201(f), the amount to be set aside for the RSA (from 0 to 3 percent of the sub-ACL from any management area), and river herring and shad catch caps, as specified in § 648.201(a)(4). Recommended specifications shall be E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 26886 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations presented to the New England Fishery Management Council. (1) The PDT shall meet with the Commission’s TC to review the status of the stock and the fishery and prepare a Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report at least every 3 years. The Herring PDT will meet at least once during interim years to review the status of the stock relative to the overfishing definition if information is available to do so. When conducting a 3-year review and preparing a SAFE Report, the PDT/TC will recommend to the Council/Commission any necessary adjustments to the specifications for the upcoming 3 years. (2) If the Council determines, based on information provided by the PDT/TC or other stock-related information, that the specifications should be adjusted during the 3-year time period, it can do so through the same process outlined in this section during one or both of the interim years. (b) * * * (1) OFL must be equal to catch resulting from applying the maximum fishing mortality threshold to a current or projected estimate of stock size. When the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, this is usually the fishing rate supporting maximum sustainable yield (e.g., FMSY). Catch that exceeds this amount would result in overfishing. The stock is considered overfished if stock biomass is less than 1⁄2 the stock biomass associated with the MSY level or its proxy (e.g., SSBMSY or proxy). The stock is considered subject to overfishing if the fishing mortality rate exceeds the fishing mortality rate associated with the MSY level or its proxy (e.g., FMSY or proxy). * * * * * (c) The Atlantic Herring Oversight Committee shall review the recommendations of the PDT and shall consult with the Commission’s Herring Board. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received, the Herring Oversight Committee shall recommend to the Council appropriate specifications for a 3-year period. The Council shall review these recommendations and, after considering public comment, shall recommend appropriate 3-year specifications to NMFS. NMFS shall review the recommendations, consider any comments received from the Commission, and publish notification in the Federal Register proposing 3-year specifications. If the proposed specifications differ from those recommended by the Council, the reasons for any differences shall be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. * * * * * ■ 12. In § 648.201, revise paragraphs (a)(2), (g), and (h) to read as follows: § 648.201 AMs and harvest controls. (a) * * * (2) When the Regional Administrator has determined that the GOM and/or GB incidental catch cap for haddock in § 648.90(a)(4)(iii)(D) has been caught, no vessel issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in the applicable Accountability Measure (AM) Area, i.e., the Herring GOM Haddock AM Area or Herring GB Haddock AM Area, as defined in § 648.86(a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) and (3) of this part, may fish for, possess, or land herring in excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip in or from the applicable AM Area, and from landing herring more than once per calendar day, unless all herring possessed and landed by a vessel were caught outside the applicable AM Area and the vessel’s gear is not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2 while transiting the applicable AM Area. Upon this determination, the haddock possession limit is reduced to 0 lb (0 kg) in the applicable AM area for a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear or for a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or gear used, in the applicable AM area, unless the vessel also possesses a Northeast multispecies permit and is operating on a declared (consistent with § 648.10(g)) Northeast multispecies trip. * * * * * (g) Carryover. (1) Subject to the conditions described in this paragraph (g), unharvested catch in a herring management area in a fishing year (up to 10 percent of that area’s sub-ACL) shall be carried over and added to the sub-ACL for that herring management area for the fishing year following the year when total catch is determined. For example, NMFS will determine total catch from Year 1 during Year 2, and will add carryover to the applicable subACL(s) in Year 3. All such carryover shall be based on the herring management area’s initial sub-ACL allocation for the fishing year, not the sub-ACL as increased by carryover or decreased by an overage deduction, as specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. All herring caught from a herring management area shall count against that area’s sub-ACL, as increased by carryover. For example, if 500 mt of PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 herring is added as carryover to a 5,000 mt sub-ACL, catch in that management area would be tracked against a total sub-ACL of 5,500 mt. NMFS shall add sub-ACL carryover only if the ACL, specified consistent with § 648.200(b)(3), for the fishing year in which there is unharvested herring, is not exceeded. The ACL, consistent with § 648.200(b)(3), shall not be increased by carryover specified in this paragraph (g). (2) Carryover of unharvested catch as described in this paragraph (g) shall not be added to any herring management area’s sub-ACL in the 2020 and 2021 herring fishing years. (h) If NMFS determines that the New Brunswick weir fishery landed less than 2,942 mt of herring through October 1, NMFS will subtract 1,000 mt from management uncertainty and reallocate that 1,000 mt to the ACL and Area 1A sub-ACL. NMFS will notify the Council of this adjustment and publish the adjustment in the Federal Register. ■ 13. In § 648.202, revise paragraph (b)(4)(iv) to read as follows: § 648.202 Season and area restrictions. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) * * * (iv) Comply with the measures to address slippage specified in § 648.11(m)(4)(iv) and (v) if the vessel was issued a Category A or B Herring Permit. ■ 14. In § 648.204, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 648.204 Possession restrictions. (a) A vessel must be issued and possess a valid limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category E Herring Permit (as defined in § 648.4(a)(10)(iv) and (v)) to fish for, possess, or land more than 6,600 lb (3 mt) of Atlantic herring from any herring management area in the EEZ. A vessel must abide by any harvest restriction specified in § 648.201 that has been implemented. (1) A vessel issued a Category A Herring Permit may fish for, possess, or land Atlantic herring with no possession restriction from any of the herring management areas defined in § 648.200(f), provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions specified in § 648.201 have been implemented. (2) A vessel issued only a Category B Herring Permit may fish for, possess, or land Atlantic herring with no possession restriction only from Area 2 or Area 3, as defined in § 648.200(f), provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 88 / Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations specified in § 648.201 have been implemented. Such a vessel may fish in Area 1 only if issued a Category C or D Herring Permit, and only as authorized by the respective permit. (3) A vessel issued a Category C Herring Permit may fish for, possess, or land up to, but no more than, 55,000 lb (25 mt) of Atlantic herring in any calendar day, and is limited to one landing of herring per calendar day, from any management area defined in § 648.200(f), provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions specified in § 648.201 have been implemented. (4) A vessel issued a Category D Herring Permit may fish for, possess, or land up to, but no more than, 6,600 lb (3 mt) of Atlantic herring from any herring management area per trip, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:33 May 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 is limited to one landing of herring per calendar day, provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions specified in § 648.201 have been implemented. (5) A vessel issued a Category E Herring Permit may fish for, possess, or land up to, but no more than, 20,000 lb (9 mt) of Atlantic herring from only Area 2 or Area 3, as defined in § 648.200(f), per trip, and is limited to one landing of herring per calendar day, provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions specified in § 648.201 have been implemented. (6) A vessel issued a herring permit may possess herring roe provided that the carcasses of the herring from which it came are not discarded at sea. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 26887 15. Section 648.205 is revised to read as follows: ■ § 648.205 VMS requirements. The owner or operator any vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category E Herring Permit, with the exception of fixed gear fishermen, must install and operate a VMS unit consistent with the requirements of § 648.9. The VMS unit must be installed on board, and must be operable before the vessel may begin fishing. Atlantic herring carrier vessels are not required to have VMS (See § 648.10(m) for VMS notification requirements.). [FR Doc. 2020–09574 Filed 5–5–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06MYR1.SGM 06MYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 88 (Wednesday, May 6, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 26874-26887]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-09574]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 200428-0122]
RIN 0648-BJ13


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern 
United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Framework Adjustment 6 and the 
2019-2021 Atlantic Herring Fishery Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are approving regulations to implement Framework Adjustment 
6 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan, including the 2019-
2021 fishery specifications and management measures, as recommended by 
the New England Fishery Management Council. This action is intended to 
establish the allowable 2020-2021 herring harvest levels and river 
herring and shad catch caps, consistent with the Atlantic Herring 
Fishery Management Plan. The specifications and management measures are 
necessary to meet conservation objectives while providing sustainable 
levels of access to the fishery.

DATES: Effective May 5, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Copies of this action, including the Environmental 
Assessment and the Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (EA/RIR/IRFA) prepared in support of this action, 
are available at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/Herring-FW6-DRAFT-final-submission.pdfr from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New 
England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, 
Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via 
the internet at: https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Murphy, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, 978-281-9122.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Regulations implementing the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management 
Plan (FMP) for herring are located at 50 CFR part 648, subpart K. 
Regulations at Sec.  648.200 require the Council to recommend herring 
specifications for NMFS' review and publish in the Federal Register, 
including: The overfishing limit (OFL); acceptable biological catch 
(ABC); annual catch limit (ACL); optimum yield (OY); domestic annual 
harvest; domestic annual processing; U.S. at-sea processing; border 
transfer; the sub-ACL for each management area, including seasonal 
periods as specified at Sec.  648.201(d) and modifications to sub-ACLs 
as specified at Sec.  648.201(f); and research set-aside (RSA) (up to 3 
percent of the sub-ACL from any management area) for 3 years. These 
regulations also allow the Council to recommend river herring and shad 
catch caps as part of the specifications.
    Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 
NMFS is required to publish proposed rules for comment after 
preliminarily determining whether they are consistent with applicable 
law. The Magnuson-Stevens Act permits NMFS to approve, partially 
approve, or disapprove framework adjustment measures proposed by the 
Council based only on whether the measures are consistent with the 
fishery management plan, plan amendment, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
its National Standards, and other applicable law. Otherwise, NMFS must 
defer to the Council's policy choices. Under the regulations guiding 
the herring specifications process, NMFS must review the Council's 
recommended specifications and publish notice proposing specifications, 
clearly noting the reasons for any differences from the Council's 
recommendations. NMFS must then publish a notice approving, 
disapproving, or partially approving these measures. NMFS is approving 
measures to implement Framework 6 as well as specifications and river 
herring/shad catch caps for the herring fishery, consistent with the 
Council's recommendations.
    A new stock assessment for herring was completed in June 2018. The 
assessment concluded that although herring were not overfished and 
overfishing was not occurring in 2017, poor recruitment would likely 
result in a substantial decline in herring biomass over the next 
several years. The stock assessment estimated that recruitment was at 
historic lows during the most recent five years (2013-2017), but 
projected that biomass could increase after reaching a low in 2019 if 
recruitment returns to average levels. The final stock assessment 
summary report is available on the Center's website 
(www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/). The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires 
NMFS to notify the Council if a fishery has become overfished or is 
approaching the condition of being overfished. According to the Act, 
``a fishery shall be classified as approaching a condition of being 
overfished if, based on trends in fishing effort, fishery resource 
size, and other appropriate factors, the Secretary estimates that the 
fishery will become overfished within two years.'' In February 2019, we 
notified the Council that herring was approaching an overfished 
condition.
    Based on the stock assessment and at the request of the Council, we 
reduced the 2018 ACL in August 2018 (83 FR 42450) (from 104,800 mt to 
49,900 mt) and the 2019 ACL in February 2019 (84 FR 2760) (from 49,900 
mt to 15,065 mt) through inseason adjustments to prevent overfishing 
and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished. The ACL reduction 
for 2018 ensured at least a 50-percent probability of preventing 
overfishing, while the ACL reduction for

[[Page 26875]]

2019 reflected the Council's risk policy for herring and was consistent 
with the new ABC control rule developed in Amendment 8 to the Herring 
FMP.
    The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has updated its schedule for 
stock assessments, and will now hold herring assessments every 2 years, 
with the next scheduled for June 2020. Accordingly, the Council and 
NMFS now plan to develop specifications every 2 years for the upcoming 
3-year cycle. For example, the Council and NMFS will develop herring 
specifications in the summer/fall of 2020 for the 2021-2023 fishing 
years.

Approved Specifications

    At its June 2019 meeting, the Council recommended maintaining 
status quo catch limits for 2019 and reducing catch limits for 2020 and 
2021 (see Table 1). This rule approves herring specifications for 2019-
2021 consistent with the Council's recommendations. These 
specifications are intended to provide for a sustainable herring 
fishery and to be consistent with the Council's harvest policy for 
herring.
    Because the Herring FMP requires herring specifications for a 
period of 3 years, Framework 6 analyzes maintaining the status quo 2019 
specifications that we implemented via inseason adjustment in early 
2019 and new specifications for 2020 and 2021. Because Framework 6 will 
be effective after the end of 2019, this rule focuses on the 2020-2021 
specifications.

       Table 1--Comparison of Approved Atlantic Herring 2020-2021
                       Specifications (mt) to 2019
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               2019          2020-2021
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit.......................          30,668    41,830--2020
                                                            69,064--2021
Acceptable Biological Catch.............          21,266          16,131
Management Uncertainty..................           6,200           4,560
Optimum Yield/Annual Catch Limit........        * 15,065        * 11,571
Domestic Annual Harvest.................          15,065          11,571
Border Transfer.........................               0             100
Domestic Annual Processing..............          15,065          11,471
U.S. At-Sea Processing..................               0               0
Area 1A Sub-ACL (28.9%).................         * 4,354         * 3,344
Area 1B Sub-ACL (4.3%)..................             647             498
Area 2 Sub-ACL (27.8%)..................           4,188           3,217
Area 3 Sub-ACL (39%)....................           5,876           4,513
Fixed Gear Set-Aside....................              39              30
Research Set-Aside......................            (**)            (**)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* If New Brunswick weir landings are less than 2,942 mt through October
  1, then 1,000 mt will be subtracted from the management uncertainty
  buffer and reallocated to the Area 1A sub-ACL and ACL. Thus, the Area
  1A sub-ACL would increase to 4,344 mt, and the ACL would increase to
  12,571 mt.
** 3 percent of each sub-ACL.

    Several factors contributed to the Council's ABC recommendations 
for 2020-2021. The ABC is reduced from the OFL to account for 
scientific uncertainty. The Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC) and the Council determined that a conservative method 
of management, specifically one that accounts for scientific 
uncertainty, was essential due to the current status of the herring 
stock and the uncertainty surrounding estimates of biomass and 
recruitment. Another consideration was Amendment 8's new control rule 
harvest policy of reducing available harvest to explicitly account for 
herring's role as forage in the ecosystem. Subsequent to the Council's 
recommendations, in November 2019 we approved Amendment 8's ABC control 
rule. For 2021, the SSC was uncomfortable with increasing the ABC based 
on the recent assessment's projection that recruitment would increase 
from historical lows to average levels. Therefore, the SSC and Council 
recommended maintaining the 2020 ABC for 2021. The 2020 stock 
assessment is expected to update recruitment information and allow the 
Council to reconsider the 2021 ABC for the next specifications.
    The ACL is reduced from ABC to account for management uncertainty. 
Currently, although the FMP allows for consideration of other aspects 
of management uncertainty (e.g., uncertainty around discard estimates 
of herring caught in Federal and state waters), the only source for 
management uncertainty that is applied to the 2020-2021 ABCs are 
landings in the New Brunswick weir fishery. Because weir fishery 
landings can be highly variable, fluctuating with effort and herring 
availability, the Council recommended a management uncertainty buffer 
of 4,560 mt, consistent with average landings in the New Brunswick weir 
fishery over the last 10 years (2009-2018). The resulting ACL for both 
2020 and 2021 is 11,571 mt. The Council also recommended and this rule 
approves a provision that if weir fishery landings are less than 2,942 
mt through October 1, NMFS will subtract 1,000 mt from the management 
uncertainty buffer and reallocate that 1,000 mt to the Area 1A sub-ACL 
and ACL. Previously, this provision is allowed if New Brunswick weir 
landings are less than 4,000 mt through October 1.
    Border transfer is a processing allocation available to Canadian 
dealers that is included in, and does not reduce, the domestic catch 
limits. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides for the issuance of permits 
to Canadian vessels transporting U.S. harvested herring to Canada for 
sardine processing. The Council recommended and this rule approves 100 
mt for border transfer for 2020 and 2021. The amount specified for 
border transfer has equaled 4,000 mt since 2000, but we reduced it to 0 
mt as part of the 2019 inseason adjustment. The Council recommended 100 
mt for border transfer in case there continues to be Canadian interest 
in transporting herring for sardine processing.
    The Council recommended and this rule approves maintaining status 
quo river herring/shad catch caps for 2020-2021 (see Table 2). These 
catch caps were originally set for the fishery in the 2016-2018 
specifications, and we maintained them in the inseason adjustment for 
2019. Catch is tracked against river herring/shad catch caps on trips 
landing more than 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) of herring. Once a catch cap is 
reached, the possession limit for herring

[[Page 26876]]

vessels using that gear type and fishing in that area (or the 
corresponding catch cap closure area) is reduced to 2,000 lb (907 kg) 
of herring for the remainder of the fishing year. These caps are 
intended to meet the original catch cap goals to provide a strong 
incentive for the herring fleet to continue to reduce river herring and 
shad catch, while allowing the fleet to fully harvest the herring ACL.

                       Table 2--Approved River Herring/Shad Catch Caps (mt) for 2020-2021
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Southern New
                                                   Gulf of Maine     Cape Cod      England/ Mid-       Total
                                                                                     Atlantic
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Midwater Trawl..................................            76.7            32.4           129.6           238.7
Bottom Trawl....................................             n/a             n/a           122.3           122.3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Council recommended status quo methods to set all other herring 
specifications, including the management area sub-ACLs, fixed gear set-
aside, and research set-aside.

Final 2018 Fishery Accounting

    On January 24, 2020, NMFS determined that there were no ACL 
overages in fishing year 2018 and no pound-for-pound reductions are 
required in 2020. Table 3 below summarizes final catch by management 
area.

                         Table 3--Final Fishing Year 2018 Accounting by Management Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Herring catch
                                                      Landed         Discarded     Total herring       as a
         Management area           Sub-ACL (mt)    herring (mt)    herring (mt)     catch (mt)    percentage  of
                                                                                                   the  sub-ACL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1A..............................          28,038          24,861               0          24,861            88.7
1B..............................           2,639           2,210               0           2,211            83.8
2...............................           8,200           7,032              38           7,071            86.2
3...............................          11,318           9,736               0           9,736              86
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................          50,195          43,839              39          43,878            87.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Given that this rule suspends carryover from fishing year 2019 into 
2020 and no ACL overages occurred in fishing year 2018, the 
specifications summarized in Table 1 are approved with no modification.

Other Approved Measures

    This rule updates the ``overfished'' and ``overfishing'' 
definitions to make them more consistent with the 2018 herring stock 
assessment and definitions used for other stocks in the region, 
consistent with Framework 6. The updated definitions are:
    The stock is considered overfished if stock biomass is less than 
\1/2\ the stock biomass associated with the Maximum Sustainable Yield 
(MSY) level or its proxy (e.g., Spawning Stock Biomass at MSY 
(SSBMSY) or proxy). The stock is considered subject to 
overfishing if the estimated fishing mortality rate (F) exceeds the 
fishing mortality rate associated with the MSY level or its proxy 
(e.g., FMSY or proxy).
    Over time, the parameters used to assess the herring stock have 
changed, and so have the corresponding projections used to evaluate 
stock status and set catch levels. The updated definition is more 
flexible because it can incorporate any estimate of biomass that is 
warranted (total biomass, SSB, or relevant proxy), depending on what is 
used in the stock assessment and considered the best available science. 
The new definitions are consistent with many overfishing and overfished 
definitions used in the region, as well as parameters in the new ABC 
control rule developed in Amendment 8.
    Previously, regulations at Sec.  648.201 require carryover of up to 
10 percent of the unharvested catch in a herring management area shall 
be added to that area's sub-ACL for the fishing year following when 
total catch is determined. For example, total catch for 2018 would be 
determined in 2019. If there was unharvested catch in 2018, the 
unharvested catch in a management area (up to 10 percent of the initial 
sub-ACL for that area) would be added to the area's sub-ACL for 2020. 
This carryover increases the sub-ACL for that management area, but it 
does not increase the total ACL.
    This rule approves the suspension of carryover of unharvested catch 
for the 2020 and 2021, consistent with the recommendation in Framework 
6, such that unharvested catch in 2018 and 2019 will not be added to 
sub-ACLs for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Suspending carryover is 
approved because the amount of carryover from 2018 (just under 5,000 
mt) is substantial relative to the ACL for 2020 and 2021 (11,571 mt), 
and could have unintended consequences on the stock or fishery. For 
example, if carryover is harvested in specific management areas early 
in the year, other areas that are typically fished later in the year 
may be constrained by the ACL such that the sub-ACLs in those areas 
cannot be fully harvested. Estimated 2019 year end catch is less than 
85 percent of the ACL for 2019 (15,574 mt), so there may also be a 
substantial amount of unharvested catch that would have otherwise been 
carried over relative to the reduced ACL for 2021 (11,571 mt). 
Furthermore, given the low estimate of herring biomass, concentrating 
fishing effort and catch in certain management areas may have negative 
impacts on the herring stock. Continuation of the suspension of 
carryover into 2021 is consistent with the Council's conservative 
management due to the current status of the herring stock and the 
uncertainty surrounding estimates of biomass and recruitment.

Regulatory Clarifications

    We are implementing the following administrative changes to the 
herring regulations under the authority of section 305(d) to the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides that the Secretary of Commerce may 
promulgate

[[Page 26877]]

regulations necessary to carry out an FMP or the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    First, in Sec. Sec.  648.4, 648.7, 648.10, 648.11, 648.14, 648.15, 
648.80, 648.83, 648.86, 648.201, 648.202, 648.204, and 648.205, this 
rule simplifies the names of herring vessel permits. Previously, each 
herring vessel permit has two names used in regulations, the first name 
specifies the permit type (i.e., limited or open access) and herring 
management area and the second name assigns a category letter to each 
permit type. For example, the All Areas Limited Access Herring Permit 
is also known as a Category A Herring Permit. This rule simplifies 
references to herring vessel permits by only using the category name in 
regulation. This clarification is intended to aid in the 
understandability of herring regulations as most stakeholders refer to 
herring vessel permits by category name.
    Second, this rule clarifies the transiting and pre-landing 
prohibitions for the herring fishery in Sec.  648.14. This rule 
clarifies that vessels are prohibited from transiting Area 1A during 
June through September with midwater trawl gear onboard, unless gear is 
properly stowed and not available for immediate use, consistent with 
Sec.  648.2. This rule also clarifies that herring vessels are required 
to notify NMFS of offloading through the vessel monitoring system of 
the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, 
if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel 
stops catching fish. These requirements currently exist elsewhere in 
the regulations, and this rule updates regulations in Sec.  648.14, 
accordingly.
    Third, this rule updates the definition of OY consistent with new 
National Standard guidance for OY in Sec.  648.200. This rule also 
updates terminology to reflect that the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission's (Commission's) Herring Section is now a Herring 
Board and that the Commission's Atlantic Herring Technical Committee 
conducts the work that was previously described as being conducted by 
the Plan Review Team.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS published a proposed rule on January 28, 2020 (85 FR 4932), 
seeking comment on the proposed specifications and measures. NMFS 
received eight comment letters on the proposed rule, including comments 
from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Seatuck Environmental 
Association, and six members of the public. A summary of comments and 
NMFS responses is presented below:
    Comment 1: CLF, Seatuck Environmental Association, and six members 
of the public supported the proposed specifications. CLF also supported 
changes to the overfished/overfishing definitions, and suspension of 
carryover.
    Response: NMFS agrees with the Council's rationale for its 
specifications recommendation, as described earlier in this rule. These 
measures are approved without modification.
    Comment 2: While the Seatuck Environmental Association supported 
the river herring and shad catch caps, CLF did not, stating that the 
proposed caps are inconsistent with National Standard 9 and 
inconsistent with the purpose and need of Framework Adjustment 3 to the 
Herring FMP.
    Response: NMFS has determined that the river herring and shad catch 
caps are likely sufficiently conservative, meet the original catch cap 
goals to provide an incentive for the herring fleet to continue to 
reduce river herring and shad catch, and are consistent with National 
Standard 9. Catch caps were implemented through Framework 3, with a 
goal of minimizing river herring and shad bycatch and bycatch mortality 
to the extent practicable, while allowing the herring fishery an 
opportunity to fully harvest the herring ACL.
    Framework 3 established a process for setting and modifying catch 
caps for river herring (alewife and blueback) and shad (American and 
hickory) catch caps in the Atlantic herring fishery (herring fishery), 
and sets specific river herring and shad catch caps for the 2014 and 
2015 fishing years. Framework 3 outlined a process for setting and 
modifying the river herring and shad catch caps that includes: 
Identification of gears, areas, and trips that would be subject to the 
catch caps; changes to reporting requirements for vessels issued 
limited access and Herring Management Areas \2/3\ open access herring 
permits; criteria that would trigger the closure of an area to directed 
herring fishing for a particular gear type; and a list of management 
measures related to setting catch caps that can be modified through the 
herring specifications process and/or framework adjustment process. 
Catch caps for 2014 and 2015 were set based upon the most recent river 
herring stock assessment conducted by the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission, which indicated that river herring populations 
have declined from historic levels and many factors would need to be 
addressed to allow their recovery, including: Fishing in both state and 
Federal waters; improvement of river passageways and water quality; 
reduced predation; and understanding the effects of climate change.
    These catch caps were intended to be adjusted when new information 
became available. The approved catch caps were originally implemented 
in a 2016-1018 specifications action and were calculated using updated 
data and a revised methodology. The 2016-2018 caps were set based on 
recent Commission river herring and shad assessments, which indicated 
that data are not robust enough to determine a biologically-based river 
herring/shad catch cap and/or the potential effects of such a catch cap 
on river herring/shad populations on a coast-wide scale. Through this 
specifications action, proactive catch caps were set to manage and 
minimize catch to the extent practicable.
    No new information is available that inform altering the previously 
approved river herring and shad catch caps. The approved catch caps 
likely promote the concept of reducing bycatch to the extent 
practicable by providing an incentive to avoid incidental catch of 
river herring and shad while still allowing an opportunity to achieve 
OY. When a cap trigger is reached, it implements a minimal Atlantic 
herring possession limit (area closure) that is expected to end 
directed fishing effort for herring in the corresponding closure area 
for the rest of that fishing year.
    In approving status quo river herring and shad catch caps, the 
Council acknowledged that it is possible that the fishery will catch 
the same amount of haddock, river herring, and shad, even with a lower 
herring quota. However, the approved catch caps likely reduce bycatch 
and bycatch mortality to the extent practicable by providing an 
incentive to avoid the incidental catch of river herring and shad by 
allowing an opportunity to achieve OY. This action also maintains the 
trigger that implements a low Atlantic herring possession limit (area 
closure) that is likely to further limit bycatch and bycatch mortality 
once the cap is reached. The approved caps remain proactive and should 
continue to provide an incentive for the Atlantic herring industry to 
avoid river herring and shad catch and bycatch, while still allowing an 
opportunity to use the full Atlantic herring ACL. Therefore, this 
action is both consistent with the purpose and need of Framework 3 and 
National Standard 9.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    This rule includes slight adjustments to the regulatory corrections 
in 50 CFR 648.7(b)(2)(i), 648.7(m), 648.11(r)(1)(iv)(A), and 
648.80(e)(5)

[[Page 26878]]

implemented under section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to account 
for new regulations implemented in the New England Industry-Funded 
Monitoring Omnibus Amendment (85 FR 7414, February 7, 2020).

Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final 
rule is consistent with the Herring FMP, National Standards and other 
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds good cause under 
the authority of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in this 
action's effective date. This action sets 2020 herring catch limits, 
puts in place other herring specifications, and sets river herring/shad 
catch caps for the herring fishery. This rule must be in effect as soon 
as practicable to prevent overharvesting the ACL and management area 
sub-ACLs and to ensure the FMP's goals and objectives are achieved. 
Because this rule lowers herring catch limits directly related to 
preventing overharvesting the ACL, a 30-day delay would be contrary to 
the public interest.
    Delaying the effective date of the specifications for 30 days will 
affect NMFS' ability to prevent the herring fishery from exceeding its 
2020 area sub-ACLs and ACL. Federal regulations at 50 CFR 
648.201(a)(1)(i) require NMFS to implement a 2,000-lb possession limit 
for each management area through the end of the current fishing year 
once it is projected that 92 percent of the area sub-ACL will be 
harvested. NMFS must, under Sec.  648.201(a)(1)(ii), implement the 
2,000-lb possession limit for the whole fishery (all areas) when 95-
percent of the total herring ACL is harvested. As required by Sec.  
648.201(a)(4), NMFS must also implement the 2,000-lb possession limit 
for river herring/shad accountability measure areas when 95-percent of 
the river herring/shad catch cap for a specific area is reached.
    This action reduces the 2020 herring ACL (11,571 mt) by nearly 25 
percent compared to the ACL that was in place in fishing year 2019 
(15,065 mt). This action similarly reduces sub-ACLs for each Herring 
Management Area. Because this action reduces the 2020 herring ACL, NMFS 
is concerned about preventing catch from exceeding harvest limits in 
Herring Management Areas 2 (3,217 mt reduced from 4,188 mt) and 3 
(4,513 mt reduced from 5,876 mt) which opened on January 1, 2020. 
Delaying implementation could encourage a derby-style rush to fish 
before the lower limits are in effect. This not only could result in 
exceeding the catch limits, but also could pose safety concerns as 
vessels might perceive a greater incentive to fish during the delay 
that could be contrary to safe practices. If catch exceeds a sub-ACL, 
the excess catch must be deducted from a future sub-ACL and would 
reduce future fishing opportunities.
    The 2019-2021 herring specifications are based on the best 
available science. This action is reducing the herring ACL and sub-
ACLs. Delaying implementation of the 2020-2021 herring specifications 
for 30 days would be contrary to the public interest because the 
herring fishery may exceed the new, lower sub-ACLs and/or the ACL. 
Exceeding these harvest limits would negatively impact the herring 
industry when future harvest is limited to account for excess catch.
    The specifications are part of regular rulemaking prescribed by the 
FMP's regulations. As such, herring fishery participants expect the 
implementation of the specifications at the earliest date practicable. 
Catch limits are an integral part of the fishery and are not new 
requirements. The herring fishery participants are well aware of and 
accustomed to operating under the catch limits and catch caps. A 30-day 
delay to adjust these measures therefore is unnecessary because it 
provides no benefit to the herring fishery. Conversely, a 30-day delay 
could result in undue loss of economic opportunity from unnecessary 
catch restrictions or future economic restrictions due to otherwise 
avoidable overages in this fishing year. For these reasons, NMFS has 
determined that a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this rule is 
contrary to the public interest.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    This final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action 
because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for 
this final rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603. The FRFA incorporates the IRFA, a 
summary of the significant issues raised by the public comments in 
response to the IRFA, NMFS responses to those comments, and a summary 
of the analyses completed in the Framework 6 EA. A summary of the IRFA 
was published in the proposed rule for this action and is not repeated 
here. A description of why this action was considered, the objectives 
of, and the legal basis for this action is contained in the preamble to 
the proposed rule (85 FR 4932), and is not repeated here. All of the 
documents that constitute the FRFA are available from NMFS and a copy 
of the IRFA, the RIR, and the EA are available upon request (see 
ADDRESSES) or via the internet at 
www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and a 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Final Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    NMFS received eight comment letters on the proposed rule. Those 
comments, and NMFS' responses, are contained in the Comments and 
Responses section of this final rule and are not repeated here. None of 
the comments addressed the IRFA and NMFS did not make any changes in 
the final rule based on public comment.

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

    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide.
    For the purposes of this analysis, ownership entities are defined 
by those entities with common ownership personnel as listed on permit 
application documentation. Permits with identical ownership personnel 
are categorized as a single entity. For example, if five permits have 
the same seven personnel listed as co-owners on their application 
paperwork, those seven personnel form one ownership entity, covering 
those five permits. If one or several of the seven owners also own 
additional vessels, with sub-sets of the original seven personnel or 
with new co-owners, those ownership arrangements are deemed to be 
separate ownership entities for the purpose of this analysis.
    This rule would affect all permitted herring vessels; therefore, a 
directly regulated entity is a firm that owns at least one herring 
permit. There are many businesses that hold an open-access (Category D) 
permit. These businesses catch a small fraction of herring; 
furthermore, they are minimally

[[Page 26879]]

affected by the regulations. Firms are defined as active in the herring 
fishery if they landed any herring in 2018. This section describes the 
directly regulated small entities in four classes: All permitted firms; 
all active firms; limited access permitted firms; and active limited 
access permitted firms.
    In 2018, there were 1,205 firms (1,193 small) that held at least 
one herring permit. There were 62 (60 small) active firms that held at 
least one herring permit. There were 68 (62 small) firms that held at 
least one limited access permit, 31 (29 small) of which were active. 
Small entity limited access permit holders as a whole derived 
approximately 38 percent of total entity revenue from the herring 
fishery. All small entity herring permit holders as a whole derived 
approximately 29 percent of total entity revenue from the herring 
fishery. Approved measures decrease the ACL in 2020 and 2021 from the 
baseline, as presented in Table 4.

 Table 4--Herring ACL for the Baseline (2019) Compared to Approved 2020
                         and 2021 Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           2020 and 2021
                  Year                     Baseline (mt)  specifications
                                                               (mt)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ACL.....................................          15,066          11,571
Area 1A Sub-ACL (28.9%).................           4,354           3,344
Area 1B Sub-ACL (4.3%)..................             647             498
Area 2 Sub-ACL (27.8%)..................           4,188           3,217
Area 3 Sub-ACL (39%)....................           5,876           4,513
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To examine effects of the approved measures, this analysis assumes 
catch is equal to the ACL. Recent catch from the four herring 
management areas has frequently been below the ACL and sub-ACLs. 
However, recent ACLs have been much higher than the Council's preferred 
2020 ACL and portions of the fishery have been restricted due to catch 
of non-target species (i.e., river herring and shad). With decreasing 
ACLs but status quo non-target species catch caps, excessive catch of 
non-target species becomes less likely. The sub-ACL percentages remain 
constant between the baseline period (2019) through 2020 and 2021; 
therefore, there is an approximate 23-percent decrease in available 
catch in each management area from 2019 to 2021. Using this information 
we can evaluate the effects of the action on small entity revenues. The 
average percentage of total small entity revenue derived from each 
management area is listed in Table 5.

  Table 5--Average Percentage of Small Entity Revenue From Each Herring
                             Management Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Overall
                                                              average
                     Management area                      percent entity
                                                              revenue
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1A......................................................              44
1B......................................................              40
2.......................................................              10
3.......................................................              43
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Seventeen small entities, mainly purse seine vessels, fished for 
herring in Area 1A in 2018. Ten of these small entities derived 30 
percent or less of total entity revenue from Area 1A. Seven small 
entities derived more than 80 percent of total entity revenue from Area 
1A. Area 1A generates revenue for more small entities than any other 
area; all other areas only have 3 entities deriving more than 80 
percent of revenue from herring. Nine small entities fished for herring 
in Area 1B in 2018, with 5 entities deriving 30 percent or less from 
the area and 4 entities deriving between 70 and 100 percent from 1B. 
Thirty-nine small entities fished for herring in Area 2 in 2018. 
Twenty-seven of them derived between 0 and 1 percent of total entity 
revenue from Area 2, and another 6 entities derived less than 30 
percent of entity revenue from Area 2. Four entities derived between 70 
and 100 percent of total entity revenue from herring in Area 2. 
Finally, 8 small entities fished for herring in Area 3 in 2018. Four of 
those entities derived less than 30 percent of total entity revenue 
from Areas 3 and 4 entities derived between 70 and 100 percent of total 
entity revenue from Area 3.
    While the overall fishery ACL will decline by 23 percent, NMFS does 
not expect that each of these small entities will have a 23-percent 
reduction in herring revenue. Rather, because of the low catch limits, 
some companies may decide not to fish for herring in 2020 and 2021 and 
would lose 100 percent of revenue from herring. If this happens, the 
remaining small entities who fish for herring in 2020 and 2021 may 
realize less than 23-percent reduction in revenue from herring, as 
there may be fewer vessels herring fishing. Because entities that catch 
herring are also active in other fisheries, the reduction in total 
revenue for small entities would likely be less than the reduction in 
herring revenue. Without being able to predict these specific shifts, 
Table 6 estimates the percent change for small entities in total 
revenue resulting from a 23-percent reduction in the herring ACL.

  Table 6--Estimates of Percent Reduction in Total Small Entity Revenue
                            From This Action
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Count of small
      Percent change in total small entity revenue           entities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
0 to 1 percent..........................................              17
1 to 7 percent..........................................               4
18 to 23 percent........................................               8
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This final rule does not introduce any new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes

    Specification of commercial harvest and river herring/shad catch 
caps are constrained by the conservation objectives set forth in the 
FMP and implemented at 50 CFR part 648, subpart K under the authority 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Furthermore, specifications must be based 
on the best available scientific information, consistent with National 
Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. With the specification options 
considered, the measures in this final rule are the only measures that 
both satisfy these overarching regulatory and statutory requirements 
while minimizing, to the extent possible, impacts on small entities. 
This rule implements the herring specifications outlined in Table 1 and 
the river herring/shad catch caps

[[Page 26880]]

outlined in Table 2. Other options considered by the Council, including 
those that could have less of an impact on small entities, failed to 
meet one or more of these stated objectives and, therefore, cannot be 
implemented.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a bulletin to permit holders that also serves 
as small entity compliance guide was prepared. This final rule and the 
guide (i.e., bulletin) will be sent via email to the Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office herring email list and are available on the 
website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-herring. 
Hard copies of the guide and this final rule will be available upon 
request (see ADDRESSES).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: April 29, 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 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.4, revise paragraphs (a)(10)(ii), (a)(10)(iv)(A) 
through (C), and (a)(10)(v), and remove paragraph (a)(10)(vi).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  648.4   Vessel permits.

    (a) * * *
    (10) * * *
    (ii) Atlantic herring carrier. An Atlantic herring carrier must 
have been issued and have on board a herring permit and a letter of 
authorization to receive and transport Atlantic herring caught by 
another permitted fishing vessel or it must have been issued and have 
on board a herring permit and have declared an Atlantic herring carrier 
trip via VMS consistent with the requirements at Sec.  648.10(m)(1). 
Once a vessel declares an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS, it is 
bound to the VMS operating requirements, specified at Sec.  648.10, for 
the remainder of the fishing year. On Atlantic herring carrier trips 
under either the letter of authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier 
VMS trip declaration, an Atlantic herring carrier is exempt from the 
VMS, IVR, and VTR vessel reporting requirements, as specified in Sec.  
648.7 and subpart K of this part, except as otherwise required by this 
part. If not declaring an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS, an 
Atlantic herring carrier vessel must request and obtain a letter of 
authorization from the Regional Administrator, and there is a minimum 
enrollment period of 7 calendar days for a letter of authorization. 
Atlantic herring carrier vessels operating under a letter of 
authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration may 
not conduct fishing activities, except for purposes of transport, or 
possess any fishing gear on board the vessel capable of catching or 
processing herring, and they must be used exclusively as an Atlantic 
herring carrier vessel, and they must carry observers if required by 
NMFS. While operating under a valid letter of authorization or Atlantic 
herring carrier VMS trip declaration, such vessels are exempt from any 
herring possession limits associated with the herring vessel permit 
categories. Atlantic herring carrier vessels operating under a letter 
of authorization or an Atlantic herring carrier VMS trip declaration 
may not possess, transfer, or land any species other than Atlantic 
herring, except that they may possess Northeast multispecies 
transferred by vessels issued either a Category A or B Herring Permit, 
consistent with the applicable possession limits for such vessels 
specified at Sec.  648.86(a)(3) and (k).
* * * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (A) A vessel of the United States that fishes for, possesses, or 
lands more than 6,600 lb (3 mt) of herring, except vessels that fish 
exclusively in state waters for herring, must have been issued and 
carry on board either one of the limited access herring permits 
described in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) through (3) of this section 
or an open access Category E Herring Permit (as described in Sec.  
648.4(a)(10)(v)(B)), including both vessels engaged in pair trawl 
operations.
    (1) Category A Herring Permit (All Areas Limited Access Herring 
Permit). A vessel may fish for, possess, and land unlimited amounts of 
herring from all herring areas, provided the vessel qualifies for and 
has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this 
part.
    (2) Category B Herring Permit (Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access Herring 
Permit). A vessel may fish for, possess, and land unlimited amounts of 
herring from herring Areas 2 and 3, provided the vessel qualifies for 
and has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of 
this part.
    (3) Category C Herring Permit (Limited Access Incidental Catch 
Herring Permit). (i) A vessel that does not qualify for either of the 
permits specified in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) and (2) of this 
section may fish for, possess, and land up to 55,000 lb (25 mt) of 
herring from any herring area, provided the vessel qualifies for and 
has been issued this permit, subject to all other regulations of this 
part.
    (ii) A vessel that does not qualify for a Category A Herring Permit 
specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(A)(1) of this section, but qualifies 
for the Category B Herring Permit specified in paragraph 
(a)(10)(iv)(A)(2) of this section, may fish for, possess, and land up 
to 55,000 lb (25 mt) of herring from Area 1, provided the vessel 
qualifies for and has been issued this permit, subject to all other 
regulations of this part.
    (B) Eligibility for Category A and B Herring Permits, and 
Confirmation of Permit History (CPH). A vessel is eligible for and may 
be issued either a Category A or B Herring Permit if it meets the 
permit history criteria in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1) of this section 
and the relevant landing requirements in paragraphs (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2) 
and (3) of this section.
    (1) Permit history criteria for Category A and B Herring Permits. 
(i) The vessel must have been issued a Federal herring permit (Category 
1 or 2) that was valid as of November 10, 2005; or
    (ii) The vessel is replacing a vessel that was issued a Federal 
herring permit (Category 1 or 2) between November 10, 2003, and 
November 9, 2005. To qualify as a replacement vessel, the replacement 
vessel and the vessel being replaced must both be owned by the same 
vessel owner; or, if the vessel being replaced was sunk or destroyed, 
the vessel owner must have owned the vessel being replaced at the time 
it sunk or was destroyed; or, if the vessel being replaced was sold to 
another person, the vessel owner must provide a copy of a written 
agreement between the buyer of the vessel being replaced and the owner/
seller of the vessel, documenting that the vessel owner/seller retained 
the herring permit and all herring landings history.

[[Page 26881]]

    (2) Landings criteria for the Category A Herring Permit--(i) The 
vessel must have landed at least 500 mt of herring in any one calendar 
year between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 2003, as verified by 
dealer reports submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer 
receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases 
where a vessel has sold herring but there are no required dealer 
receipts, e.g., transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the 
vessel owner can submit other documentation that documents such 
transactions and proves that the herring thus transferred should be 
added to their landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in 
pair trawl operations may provide landings information as specified in 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a 
vessel that is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement 
vessel consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph 
(a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting 
prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section.
    (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for 
vessels under construction, reconstruction, or purchase contract. An 
applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under 
construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for 
purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining 
landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(i) of this section 
through December 31, 2004.
    (iii) Landings criteria for vessels using landings from pair trawl 
operations. To qualify for a limited access permit using landings from 
pair trawl operations, the owners of the vessels engaged in that 
operation must agree on how to divide such landings between the two 
vessels and apply for the permit jointly, as verified by dealer reports 
submitted to NMFS or valid dealer receipts, if dealer reports were not 
required by NMFS.
    (3) Landings criteria for the Category B Herring Permit. (i) The 
vessel must have landed at least 250 mt of herring in any one calendar 
year between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 2003, as verified by 
dealer reports submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer 
receipts, if dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases 
where a vessel has sold herring but there are no required dealer 
receipts, e.g., transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the 
vessel owner can submit other documentation that documents such 
transactions and proves that the herring thus transferred should be 
added to their landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in 
pair trawl operations may provide landings information as specified in 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a 
vessel that is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement 
vessel consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph 
(a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting 
prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section.
    (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for 
vessels under construction, reconstruction or purchase contract. An 
applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under 
construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for 
purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining 
landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(3)(i) of this section 
through December 31, 2004.
    (iii) Landings criteria for vessels using landings from pair trawl 
operations. See paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section.
    (4) CPH. A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but 
owned a vessel that satisfies the permit eligibility requirements in 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B) of this section that has sunk, been destroyed, 
or transferred to another person, but that has not been replaced, may 
apply for and receive a CPH that allows for a replacement vessel to 
obtain the relevant limited access herring permit if the fishing and 
permit history of such vessel has been retained lawfully by the 
applicant as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this 
section and consistent with (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section.
    (C) Eligibility for Category C Herring Permit, and CPH. A vessel is 
eligible for and may be issued a Category C Herring Permit if it meets 
the permit history criteria specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(1) of 
this section and the landings criteria in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(2) 
of this section.
    (1) Permit history criteria. (i) The vessel must have been issued a 
Federal permit for Northeast multispecies, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic 
herring, longfin or Illex squid, or butterfish that was valid as of 
November 10, 2005; or
    (ii) The vessel is replacing a vessel that was issued a Federal 
permit for Northeast multispecies, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring, 
longfin or Illex squid, or butterfish that was issued between November 
10, 2003, and November 9, 2005. To qualify as a replacement vessel, the 
replacement vessel and the vessel being replaced must both be owned by 
the same vessel owner; or, if the vessel being replaced was sunk or 
destroyed, the vessel owner must have owned the vessel being replaced 
at the time it sunk or was destroyed; or, if the vessel being replaced 
was sold to another person, the vessel owner must provide a copy of a 
written agreement between the buyer of the vessel being replaced and 
the owner/seller of the vessel, documenting that the vessel owner/
seller retained the herring permit and all herring landings history.
    (2) Landings criteria for Category C Herring Permit. (i) The vessel 
must have landed at least 15 mt of herring in any calendar year between 
January 1, 1988, and December 31, 2003, as verified by dealer reports 
submitted to NMFS or documented through valid dealer receipts, if 
dealer reports were not required by NMFS. In those cases where a vessel 
has sold herring but there are no required dealer receipts, e.g., 
transfers of bait at sea and border transfers, the vessel owner can 
submit other documentation that documents such transactions and proves 
that the herring thus transferred should be added to the vessel's 
landings history. The owners of vessels that fished in pair trawl 
operations may provide landings information as specified in paragraph 
(a)(10)(iv)(B)(2)(iii) of this section. Landings made by a vessel that 
is being replaced may be used to qualify a replacement vessel 
consistent with the requirements specified in paragraph 
(a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this section and the permit splitting 
prohibitions in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section.
    (ii) Extension of eligibility period for landings criteria for 
vessels under construction, reconstruction or purchase contract. An 
applicant who submits written evidence that a vessel was under 
construction, reconstruction, or was under written contract for 
purchase as of December 31, 2003, may extend the period for determining 
landings specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C)(2)(i) of this section 
through December 31, 2004.
    (3) CPH. A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but 
owned a vessel that satisfies the permit eligibility requirements in 
paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(C) of this section that has sunk, been destroyed, 
or transferred to another person, but that has not been replaced, may 
apply for and receive a CPH that allows for a replacement vessel to 
obtain the relevant limited access herring permit if the fishing and 
permit history of such vessel has been retained lawfully by the 
applicant as specified in paragraph (a)(10)(iv)(B)(1)(ii) of this 
section and

[[Page 26882]]

consistent with (a)(10)(iv)(N) of this section.
* * * * *
    (v) Open access herring permits. A vessel that has not been issued 
a limited access herring permit may obtain:
    (A) A Category D Herring Permit (All Areas Open Access Herring 
Permit) to possess up to 6,600 lb (3 mt) of herring per trip from all 
herring management areas, limited to one landing per calendar day; and/
or
    (B) A Category E Herring Permit (Areas 2/3 Open Access Herring 
Permit) to possess up to 20,000 lb (9 mt) of herring per trip from 
Herring Management Areas 2 and 3, limited to one landing per calendar 
day, provided the vessel has also been issued a Limited Access Atlantic 
Mackerel permit, as defined at Sec.  648.4(a)(5)(iii).
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.7, revise paragraphs (b)(2)(i), (b)(3)(i) introductory 
text, and (b)(3)(i)(A) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.7   Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Atlantic herring vessel owners or operators issued a Category D 
Herring Permit. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a Category D 
Herring Permit to fish for herring must report catch (retained and 
discarded) of herring via an IVR system for each week herring was 
caught, unless exempted by the Regional Administrator. IVR reports are 
not required for weeks when no herring was caught. The report shall 
include at least the following information, and any other information 
required by the Regional Administrator: Vessel identification; week in 
which herring are caught; management areas fished; and pounds retained 
and pounds discarded of herring caught in each management area. The IVR 
reporting week begins on Sunday at 0001 hour (hr) (12:01 a.m.) local 
time and ends Saturday at 2400 hr (12 midnight). Weekly Atlantic 
herring catch reports must be submitted via the IVR system by midnight 
each Tuesday, eastern time, for the previous week. Reports are required 
even if herring caught during the week has not yet been landed. This 
report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable 
reporting requirements of this section.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Atlantic herring owners or operators issued a limited access 
permit or Category E Herring Permit. The owner or operator of a vessel 
issued a limited access permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category 
E Herring Permit to fish for herring must report catch (retained and 
discarded) of herring daily via VMS, unless exempted by the Regional 
Administrator. The report shall include at least the following 
information, and any other information required by the Regional 
Administrator: Fishing Vessel Trip Report serial number; month and day 
herring was caught; pounds retained for each herring management area; 
and pounds discarded for each herring management area. Additionally, 
the owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access permit or 
Category E Herring Permit to fish for herring using midwater trawl or 
bottom trawl gear must report daily via VMS the estimated total amount 
of all species retained (in pounds, landed weight) by statistical area 
for use in tracking catch against catch caps (haddock, river herring 
and shad) in the herring fishery. Daily Atlantic herring VMS catch 
reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals for each day and must be 
submitted by 0900 hr (9:00 a.m.) of the following day. Reports are 
required even if herring caught that day has not yet been landed. This 
report does not exempt the owner or operator from other applicable 
reporting requirements of this section.
    (A) The owner or operator of any vessel issued a limited access 
herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring 
Permit must submit a catch report via VMS each day, regardless of how 
much herring is caught (including days when no herring is caught), 
unless exempted from this requirement by the Regional Administrator.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  648.10, revise paragraphs (b)(8) and (m) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.10   VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (8) A vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category 
A, B, or C), or a vessel issued a Category E Herring Permit, or a 
vessel declaring an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS.
* * * * *
    (m) Atlantic herring VMS notification requirements. (1) A vessel 
issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a 
Category E Herring Permit intending to declare into the herring fishery 
or a vessel issued a herring permit and intending to declare an 
Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS must notify NMFS by declaring a 
herring trip with the appropriate gear code prior to leaving port at 
the start of each trip in order to harvest, possess, or land herring on 
that trip.
    (2) A vessel issued a limited access herring permit (i.e., Category 
A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring Permit or a vessel that declared an 
Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS must notify NMFS Office of Law 
Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 
hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before 
landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional 
Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through 
publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  648.11, revise paragraphs (a), (m)(1)(i) introductory text, 
(m)(1)(ii) introductory text, (m)(1)(iv), (m)(2)(i), (m)(2)(iii) 
introductory text, and (m)(7)(iv) through (vi) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.11   Monitoring coverage.

    (a) Coverage. The Regional Administrator may request any vessel 
holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops, NE multispecies, monkfish, 
skates, Atlantic mackerel, squid, butterfish, scup, black sea bass, 
bluefish, spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, tilefish, Atlantic surfclam, 
ocean quahog, or Atlantic deep-sea red crab; or a moratorium permit for 
summer flounder; to carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer. A vessel 
holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops is subject to the additional 
requirements specified in paragraph (k) of this section. A vessel 
holding a Category A or B Herring Permit is subject to the additional 
requirements specified in paragraph (m) of this section. Also, any 
vessel or vessel owner/operator that fishes for, catches or lands 
hagfish, or intends to fish for, catch, or land hagfish in or from the 
exclusive economic zone must carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer 
when requested by the Regional Administrator in accordance with the 
requirements of this section.
* * * * *
    (m) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) In addition to the requirement for any vessel holding an 
Atlantic herring permit to carry a NMFS-certified observer described in 
paragraph (a) of this section, vessels issued a Category A or B Herring 
Permit are subject to industry-funded monitoring (IFM) requirements on 
declared Atlantic herring trips, unless the vessel is carrying a NMFS-
certified observer to fulfill Standard Bycatch Reporting

[[Page 26883]]

Methodology requirements. An owner of a midwater trawl vessel, required 
to carry a NMFS-certified observer when fishing in Northeast 
Multispecies Closed Areas at Sec.  648.202(b), may purchase an IFM high 
volume fisheries (HVF) observer to access Closed Areas on a trip-by-
trip basis. General requirements for IFM programs in New England 
Council FMPs are specified in paragraph (g) of this section. Possible 
IFM monitoring for the Atlantic herring fishery includes NMFS-certified 
observers, at-sea monitors, and electronic monitoring and portside 
samplers, as defined in Sec.  648.2.
* * * * *
    (ii) Vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are subject to 
IFM at-sea monitoring coverage. If the New England Council determines 
that electronic monitoring, used in conjunction with portside sampling, 
is an adequate substitute for at-sea monitoring on vessels fishing with 
midwater trawl gear, and it is approved by the Regional Administrator 
as specified in paragraph (m)(1)(iii) of this section, then owners of 
vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may choose either IFM 
at-sea monitoring coverage or IFM electronic monitoring and IFM 
portside sampling coverage, pursuant with requirements in paragraphs 
(h) and (i) of this section. Once owners of vessels issued a Category A 
or B Herring Permit may choose an IFM monitoring type, vessel owners 
must select one IFM monitoring type per fishing year and notify NMFS of 
their selected IFM monitoring type via selection form six months in 
advance of the beginning of the SBRM year (October 31). NMFS will 
provide vessels owners with selection forms no later than September 1 
in advance of the beginning of the SBRM year.
* * * * *
    (iv) Owners, operators, or managers of vessels issued a Category A 
or B Herring Permit are responsible for their vessel's compliance with 
IFM requirements. When NMFS notifies a vessel owner, operator, or 
manager of the requirement to have monitoring coverage on a specific 
declared Atlantic herring trip, that vessel may not fish for, take, 
retain, possess, or land any Atlantic herring without the required 
monitoring coverage. Vessels may only embark on a declared Atlantic 
herring trip without the required monitoring coverage if the vessel 
owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has 
received a waiver for the required monitoring coverage for that trip, 
pursuant to paragraphs (m)(2)(iii)(B) and (C) and (m)(3) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) At least 48 hr prior to the beginning of any trip on which a 
vessel may harvest, possess, or land Atlantic herring, the owner, 
operator, or manager of a vessel issued a limited access herring permit 
(i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a vessel issued an open access herring 
permit (Category D or E) fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management 
Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in Sec.  648.200(f)(1) and (3), or a 
vessel acting as a herring carrier must notify NMFS/FSB of the trip.
* * * * *
    (iii) For vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit, the trip 
notification must also include the following requests, if appropriate:
* * * * *
    (7) * * *
    (iv) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips 
catch for any of the reasons described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this 
section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator must 
move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event 
before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 
km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the 
fishing trip.
    (v) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips catch 
for any reason on a trip selected by NMFS for portside sampling, 
pursuant to paragraph (m)(3) of this section, the vessel operator must 
move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event 
before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 
km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the 
fishing trip.
    (vi) If catch is slipped by a vessel issued a Category A or B 
Herring permit for any reason not described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of 
this section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator 
must immediately terminate the trip and return to port. No fishing 
activity may occur during the return to port.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  648.14, revise paragraphs (k)(1)(i)(D); (r)(1)(vi)(A), 
(r)(1)(vii)(D) and (E), (r)(1)(viii)(B) and (C), remove paragraph 
(r)(1)(viii)(D), and revise paragraphs (r)(2)(i) through (iv) and 
(r)(2)(ix) through (xiv).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  648.14   Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (D) Any haddock, and up to 100 lb (45 kg) of other regulated NE 
multispecies other than haddock, were harvested by a vessel issued a 
Category A or B Herring Permit on a declared herring trip, regardless 
of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E 
Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear, pursuant to the 
requirements in Sec.  648.80(d) and (e), and such fish are not sold for 
human consumption.
* * * * *
    (r) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (vi) * * *
    (A) For the purposes of observer deployment, fail to notify NMFS/
FSB at least 48 hr prior to departing on a declared herring trip with a 
vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit and fishing with 
midwater trawl or purse seine gear, or on a trip with a vessel issued a 
Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that is fishing with midwater trawl 
gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in Sec.  
648.200(f)(1) and (3), pursuant to the requirements in Sec.  648.80(d) 
and (e).
* * * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (D) Transit Area 1A from June 1 through September 30 with more than 
2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring while having on board midwater trawl 
gear that is not properly stowed or available for immediate use as 
defined in Sec.  648.2.
    (E) Discard haddock at sea that has been brought on deck, or pumped 
into the hold, of a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit 
fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, 
or on a trip with a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit 
fishing with midwater trawl gear, pursuant to the requirements in Sec.  
648.80(d) and (e).
* * * * *
    (viii) * * *
    (B) Fail to notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of 
the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, 
if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel 
stops catching fish, if a vessel has been issued a limited access 
herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or a Category E Herring 
Permit or has declared an Atlantic herring carrier trip via VMS.
    (C) Fail to declare via VMS into the herring fishery by entering 
the appropriate herring fishery code and appropriate gear code prior to 
leaving port at the start of each trip to harvest,

[[Page 26884]]

possess, or land herring, if a vessel has been issued a limited access 
herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or issued a Category E 
Herring Permit or is intending to act as an Atlantic herring carrier.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer haddock or 
other regulated NE multispecies (cod, witch flounder, plaice, 
yellowtail flounder, pollock, winter flounder, windowpane flounder, 
redfish, white hake, and Atlantic wolffish); or attempt to sell, 
purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer haddock or other 
regulated NE multispecies for human consumption; if the regulated NE 
multispecies are landed by a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring 
Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area 
fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit 
fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  648.80(d).
    (ii) Fail to comply with requirements for herring processors/
dealers that handle individual fish to separate out, and retain, for at 
least 12 hours, all haddock offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A 
or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless 
of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E 
Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  
648.80(d).
    (iii) Sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer; or 
attempt to sell, purchase, receive, trade, barter, or transfer; to 
another person, any haddock or other regulated NE. multispecies (cod, 
witch flounder, plaice, yellowtail flounder, pollock, winter flounder, 
windowpane flounder, redfish, white hake, and Atlantic wolffish) 
separated out from a herring catch offloaded from a vessel issued a 
Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip 
regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, 
D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to 
Sec.  648.80(d).
    (iv) While operating as an at-sea herring processor, fail to comply 
with requirements to separate out and retain all haddock offloaded from 
a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit that fished on a 
declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or by a vessel 
issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit that fished with midwater 
trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  648.80(d).
* * * * *
    (ix) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to move 
15 nm (27.78 km), as required by Sec. Sec.  648.11(m)(7)(iv) and (v) 
and 648.202(b)(4)(iv).
    (x) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to 
immediately return to port, as required by Sec. Sec.  648.11(m)(7)(vi) 
and 648.202(b)(4)(iv).
    (xi) Fail to complete, sign, and submit a Released Catch Affidavit 
as required by Sec. Sec.  648.11(m)(7)(iii) and 648.202(b)(4)(ii).
    (xii) Fail to report or fail to accurately report a slippage event 
on the Atlantic herring daily VMS catch report, as required by 
Sec. Sec.  648.11(m)(7)(iii) and 648.202(b)(4)(iii).
    (xiii) For vessels with Category A or B Herring Permits, fail to 
comply with industry-funded monitoring requirements at Sec.  648.11(m).
    (xiv) For a vessel with a Category A or B Herring Permit, fail to 
comply with its NMFS-approved vessel monitoring plan requirements, as 
described at Sec.  648.11(m).
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  648.15, revise paragraphs (d) and (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.15   Facilitation of enforcement.

* * * * *
    (d) Retention of haddock by herring dealers and processors. (1) 
Federally permitted herring dealers and processors, including at-sea 
processors, that cull or separate out from the herring catch all fish 
other than herring in the course of normal operations, must separate 
out and retain all haddock offloaded from a vessel issued a Category A 
or B Herring Permit that fished on a declared herring trip regardless 
of gear or area fished, or by a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E 
Herring Permit that fished with midwater trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  
648.80(d). Such haddock may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, 
bartered, or transferred, and must be retained, after they have been 
separated, for at least 12 hours for dealers and processors on land, 
and for 12 hours after landing by at-sea processors. The dealer or 
processor, including at-sea processors, must clearly indicate the 
vessel that landed the retained haddock or transferred the retained 
haddock to an at-sea processor. Authorized officers must be given 
access to inspect the haddock.
    (2) All haddock separated out and retained is subject to reporting 
requirements specified at Sec.  648.7.
    (e) Retention of haddock by herring vessels using midwater trawl 
gear. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a 
declared herring trip regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel 
issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater 
trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  648.80(d), may not discard any haddock 
that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold.

0
8. In Sec.  648.80, revise paragraphs (d)(4) through (6) and (e)(4) 
through (6) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.80   NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on 
gear and methods of fishing.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (4) The vessel does not fish for, possess or land NE. multispecies, 
except that a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit and 
fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, 
or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing 
with midwater trawl gear pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section, may 
possess and land haddock and other regulated multispecies consistent 
with the catch caps and possession restrictions in Sec.  648.86(a)(3) 
and (k). Such haddock or other regulated NE multispecies may not be 
sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or 
attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or 
transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. Haddock or other 
regulated NE multispecies that are separated out from the herring catch 
pursuant to Sec.  648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, received, 
traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, 
received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. A vessel 
issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring 
trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category 
C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant 
to this paragraph (d), may not discard haddock that has been brought on 
the deck or pumped into the hold;
    (5) To fish for herring under this exemption, a vessel issued a 
Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, or a 
vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit fishing with 
midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in 
Sec.  648.200(f)(1) and (3), must provide notice of the following 
information to NMFS at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into 
these areas for the purposes of observer deployment: Vessel name; 
contact name for coordination of observer deployment;

[[Page 26885]]

telephone number for contact; the date, time, and port of departure; 
and
    (6) A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a 
declared herring trip with midwater trawl gear, or a vessel issued a 
Category C or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in 
Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined at Sec.  648.200(f)(1) 
and (3), must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the 
time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if 
fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel 
stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior 
notification minimum time through publication of a document in the 
Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (4) The vessel does not fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies, 
except that vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing 
on a declared herring trip may possess and land haddock or other 
regulated species consistent with possession restrictions in Sec.  
648.86(a)(3) and (k), respectively. Such haddock or other regulated 
multispecies may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or 
transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, 
bartered, or transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. 
Haddock or other regulated species that are separated out from the 
herring catch pursuant to Sec.  648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, 
received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, 
purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. 
A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may not discard 
haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold;
    (5) To fish for herring under this exemption, vessels that have a 
Category A or B Herring Permit must provide notice to NMFS of the 
vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; 
telephone number for contact; and the date, time, and port of 
departure, at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into these areas 
for the purposes of observer deployment; and
    (6) All vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit must 
notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place 
of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends 
less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching 
fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification 
minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.
* * * * *

0
9. In Sec.  648.83, revise paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.83   Multispecies minimum fish sizes.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit may possess 
and land haddock and other regulated species that are smaller than the 
minimum size specified under Sec.  648.83, consistent with the bycatch 
caps specified in Sec.  648.86(a)(3) and (k). Such fish may not be sold 
for human consumption.
* * * * *

0
10. In Sec.  648.86, revise paragraphs (a)(3)(i), (a)(3)(ii)(A)(1), and 
(k) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.86   NE Multispecies possession restrictions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Incidental catch allowance for some Atlantic herring vessels. A 
vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared 
herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a 
Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear 
pursuant to Sec.  648.80(d), may only possess and land haddock, in 
accordance with requirements specified in Sec.  648.80(d) and (e).
    (ii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) Haddock incidental catch cap. When the Regional Administrator 
has determined that the incidental catch allowance for a given haddock 
stock, as specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(4)(iii)(D), has been caught, no 
vessel issued an Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater 
trawl gear in the applicable stock area, i.e., the Herring GOM Haddock 
Accountability Measure (AM) Area or Herring GB Haddock AM Area, as 
defined in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) and (3) of this section, may 
fish for, possess, or land herring in excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per 
trip in or from that area, unless all herring possessed and landed by 
the vessel were caught outside the applicable AM Area and the vessel's 
gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in Sec.  
648.2 while transiting the AM Area. Upon this determination, the 
haddock possession limit is reduced to 0 lb (0 kg) for a vessel issued 
a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear 
or for a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a 
declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or gear used, in the 
applicable AM area, unless the vessel also possesses a NE multispecies 
permit and is operating on a declared (consistent with Sec.  648.10(g)) 
NE multispecies trip. In making this determination, the Regional 
Administrator shall use haddock catches observed by NMFS-certified 
observers or monitors by herring vessel trips using midwater trawl gear 
in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in Sec.  648.200(f)(1) 
and (3), expanded to an estimate of total haddock catch for all such 
trips in a given haddock stock area.
* * * * *
    (k) Other regulated NE multispecies possession restrictions for 
some Atlantic herring vessels. A vessel issued a Category A or B 
Herring Permit on a declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or 
gear used, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and 
fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to Sec.  648.80(d), may 
possess and land haddock, and up to 100 lb (45 kg), combined, of other 
regulated NE. multispecies, other than haddock, in accordance with the 
requirements in Sec.  648.80(d) and (e). Such fish may not be sold for 
human consumption.
* * * * *

0
11. In Sec.  648.200, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1), and (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.200   Specifications.

    (a) The Atlantic Herring Plan Development Team (PDT) shall meet at 
least every 3 years, but no later than July of the year before new 
specifications are implemented, with the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Atlantic Herring Technical 
Committee (TC) to develop and recommend the following specifications 
for a period of 3 years for consideration by the New England Fishery 
Management Council's Atlantic Herring Oversight Committee: Overfishing 
Limit (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Annual Catch Limit 
(ACL), Optimum yield (OY), domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic 
annual processing (DAP), U.S. at-sea processing (USAP), border transfer 
(BT), the sub-ACL for each management area, including seasonal periods 
as specified at Sec.  648.201(d) and modifications to sub-ACLs as 
specified at Sec.  648.201(f), the amount to be set aside for the RSA 
(from 0 to 3 percent of the sub-ACL from any management area), and 
river herring and shad catch caps, as specified in Sec.  648.201(a)(4). 
Recommended specifications shall be

[[Page 26886]]

presented to the New England Fishery Management Council.
    (1) The PDT shall meet with the Commission's TC to review the 
status of the stock and the fishery and prepare a Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report at least every 3 years. The Herring 
PDT will meet at least once during interim years to review the status 
of the stock relative to the overfishing definition if information is 
available to do so. When conducting a 3-year review and preparing a 
SAFE Report, the PDT/TC will recommend to the Council/Commission any 
necessary adjustments to the specifications for the upcoming 3 years.
    (2) If the Council determines, based on information provided by the 
PDT/TC or other stock-related information, that the specifications 
should be adjusted during the 3-year time period, it can do so through 
the same process outlined in this section during one or both of the 
interim years.
    (b) * * *
    (1) OFL must be equal to catch resulting from applying the maximum 
fishing mortality threshold to a current or projected estimate of stock 
size. When the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not 
occurring, this is usually the fishing rate supporting maximum 
sustainable yield (e.g., FMSY). Catch that exceeds this 
amount would result in overfishing. The stock is considered overfished 
if stock biomass is less than \1/2\ the stock biomass associated with 
the MSY level or its proxy (e.g., SSBMSY or proxy). The 
stock is considered subject to overfishing if the fishing mortality 
rate exceeds the fishing mortality rate associated with the MSY level 
or its proxy (e.g., FMSY or proxy).
* * * * *
    (c) The Atlantic Herring Oversight Committee shall review the 
recommendations of the PDT and shall consult with the Commission's 
Herring Board. Based on these recommendations and any public comment 
received, the Herring Oversight Committee shall recommend to the 
Council appropriate specifications for a 3-year period. The Council 
shall review these recommendations and, after considering public 
comment, shall recommend appropriate 3-year specifications to NMFS. 
NMFS shall review the recommendations, consider any comments received 
from the Commission, and publish notification in the Federal Register 
proposing 3-year specifications. If the proposed specifications differ 
from those recommended by the Council, the reasons for any differences 
shall be clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the 
criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.
* * * * *

0
12. In Sec.  648.201, revise paragraphs (a)(2), (g), and (h) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.201   AMs and harvest controls.

    (a) * * *
    (2) When the Regional Administrator has determined that the GOM 
and/or GB incidental catch cap for haddock in Sec.  
648.90(a)(4)(iii)(D) has been caught, no vessel issued a Federal 
Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in the 
applicable Accountability Measure (AM) Area, i.e., the Herring GOM 
Haddock AM Area or Herring GB Haddock AM Area, as defined in Sec.  
648.86(a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) and (3) of this part, may fish for, possess, or 
land herring in excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip in or from the 
applicable AM Area, and from landing herring more than once per 
calendar day, unless all herring possessed and landed by a vessel were 
caught outside the applicable AM Area and the vessel's gear is not 
available for immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2 while transiting 
the applicable AM Area. Upon this determination, the haddock possession 
limit is reduced to 0 lb (0 kg) in the applicable AM area for a vessel 
issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater 
trawl gear or for a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit 
fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of area fished or gear 
used, in the applicable AM area, unless the vessel also possesses a 
Northeast multispecies permit and is operating on a declared 
(consistent with Sec.  648.10(g)) Northeast multispecies trip.
* * * * *
    (g) Carryover. (1) Subject to the conditions described in this 
paragraph (g), unharvested catch in a herring management area in a 
fishing year (up to 10 percent of that area's sub-ACL) shall be carried 
over and added to the sub-ACL for that herring management area for the 
fishing year following the year when total catch is determined. For 
example, NMFS will determine total catch from Year 1 during Year 2, and 
will add carryover to the applicable sub-ACL(s) in Year 3. All such 
carryover shall be based on the herring management area's initial sub-
ACL allocation for the fishing year, not the sub-ACL as increased by 
carryover or decreased by an overage deduction, as specified in 
paragraph (a)(3) of this section. All herring caught from a herring 
management area shall count against that area's sub-ACL, as increased 
by carryover. For example, if 500 mt of herring is added as carryover 
to a 5,000 mt sub-ACL, catch in that management area would be tracked 
against a total sub-ACL of 5,500 mt. NMFS shall add sub-ACL carryover 
only if the ACL, specified consistent with Sec.  648.200(b)(3), for the 
fishing year in which there is unharvested herring, is not exceeded. 
The ACL, consistent with Sec.  648.200(b)(3), shall not be increased by 
carryover specified in this paragraph (g).
    (2) Carryover of unharvested catch as described in this paragraph 
(g) shall not be added to any herring management area's sub-ACL in the 
2020 and 2021 herring fishing years.
    (h) If NMFS determines that the New Brunswick weir fishery landed 
less than 2,942 mt of herring through October 1, NMFS will subtract 
1,000 mt from management uncertainty and reallocate that 1,000 mt to 
the ACL and Area 1A sub-ACL. NMFS will notify the Council of this 
adjustment and publish the adjustment in the Federal Register.

0
13. In Sec.  648.202, revise paragraph (b)(4)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.202   Season and area restrictions.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (iv) Comply with the measures to address slippage specified in 
Sec.  648.11(m)(4)(iv) and (v) if the vessel was issued a Category A or 
B Herring Permit.

0
14. In Sec.  648.204, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.204   Possession restrictions.

    (a) A vessel must be issued and possess a valid limited access 
herring permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category E Herring Permit 
(as defined in Sec.  648.4(a)(10)(iv) and (v)) to fish for, possess, or 
land more than 6,600 lb (3 mt) of Atlantic herring from any herring 
management area in the EEZ. A vessel must abide by any harvest 
restriction specified in Sec.  648.201 that has been implemented.
    (1) A vessel issued a Category A Herring Permit may fish for, 
possess, or land Atlantic herring with no possession restriction from 
any of the herring management areas defined in Sec.  648.200(f), 
provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions 
specified in Sec.  648.201 have been implemented.
    (2) A vessel issued only a Category B Herring Permit may fish for, 
possess, or land Atlantic herring with no possession restriction only 
from Area 2 or Area 3, as defined in Sec.  648.200(f), provided none of 
the accountability measures or harvest restrictions

[[Page 26887]]

specified in Sec.  648.201 have been implemented. Such a vessel may 
fish in Area 1 only if issued a Category C or D Herring Permit, and 
only as authorized by the respective permit.
    (3) A vessel issued a Category C Herring Permit may fish for, 
possess, or land up to, but no more than, 55,000 lb (25 mt) of Atlantic 
herring in any calendar day, and is limited to one landing of herring 
per calendar day, from any management area defined in Sec.  648.200(f), 
provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions 
specified in Sec.  648.201 have been implemented.
    (4) A vessel issued a Category D Herring Permit may fish for, 
possess, or land up to, but no more than, 6,600 lb (3 mt) of Atlantic 
herring from any herring management area per trip, and is limited to 
one landing of herring per calendar day, provided none of the 
accountability measures or harvest restrictions specified in Sec.  
648.201 have been implemented.
    (5) A vessel issued a Category E Herring Permit may fish for, 
possess, or land up to, but no more than, 20,000 lb (9 mt) of Atlantic 
herring from only Area 2 or Area 3, as defined in Sec.  648.200(f), per 
trip, and is limited to one landing of herring per calendar day, 
provided none of the accountability measures or harvest restrictions 
specified in Sec.  648.201 have been implemented.
    (6) A vessel issued a herring permit may possess herring roe 
provided that the carcasses of the herring from which it came are not 
discarded at sea.
* * * * *

0
15. Section 648.205 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.205   VMS requirements.

    The owner or operator any vessel issued a limited access herring 
permit (i.e., Category A, B, or C) or Category E Herring Permit, with 
the exception of fixed gear fishermen, must install and operate a VMS 
unit consistent with the requirements of Sec.  648.9. The VMS unit must 
be installed on board, and must be operable before the vessel may begin 
fishing. Atlantic herring carrier vessels are not required to have VMS 
(See Sec.  648.10(m) for VMS notification requirements.).

[FR Doc. 2020-09574 Filed 5-5-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P