Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted Fishing Permit, 36377-36379 [2020-12873]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 116 / Tuesday, June 16, 2020 / Notices extraordinarily complicated, and that additional time is necessary to make a preliminary determination. Under 19 CFR 351.205(e), the petitioner must submit a request for postponement 25 days or more before the scheduled date of the preliminary determination and must state the reasons for the request. Commerce will grant the request unless it finds compelling reasons to deny the request. On June 3, 2020, the petitioner submitted a timely request that Commerce postpone the preliminary determination in the LTFV investigation.3 The petitioner stated that it requests postponement of the preliminary determination because ‘‘{a}dditional time will be necessary to ensure that Commerce is able to sufficiently review all questionnaire responses and request clarification and additional information as necessary.’’ 4 For the reason stated above and because there are no compelling reasons to deny the request, Commerce, in accordance with section 733(c)(1)(A) of the Act, is postponing the deadline for the preliminary determination by 50 days (i.e., to 190 days after the date on which this investigation was initiated). As a result, Commerce will issue its preliminary determination no later than September 2, 2020. In accordance with section 735(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(1), the deadline for the final determination of this investigation will continue to be 75 days after the date of the preliminary determination, unless postponed at a later date. Notification to Interested Parties This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 733(c)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(f)(1). Dated: June 10, 2020. Jeffrey I. Kessler, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2020–12948 Filed 6–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA232] lotter on DSK30NT082PROD with NOTICES Marine Mammals; File No. 23836 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: 3 See Petitioner’s Letter, ‘‘Certain Corrosion Inhibitors from the People’s Republic of China: Petitioner’s Request for Postponement of the Preliminary Determination,’’ dated June 3, 2020. 4 Id. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Jun 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application. Notice is hereby given that Wildstar Films, Ltd., Embassy House, Queens Avenue, Bristol, United Kingdom, BS8 1SB (Responsible Party: Jo Harvey), has applied in due form for a permit to conduct commercial or educational photography on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). DATES: Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before July 16, 2020. ADDRESSES: These documents are available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 EastWest Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427– 8401; fax (301) 713–0376. Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713–0376, or by email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Please include the File No. in the subject line of the email comment. Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Markin or Carrie Hubard, (301) 427– 8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject permit is requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216). The applicant proposes to obtain footage of bottlenose dolphins (Charleston Estuarine System Stock) in waters around Charleston County, South Carolina, including Kiawah Island, Bull Creek, and Hilton Head, for a documentary series celebrating the wildlife of America for the National Geographic Channel. Up to 980 bottlenose dolphins may be filmed from land, vessel, or unmanned aircraft systems, annually. The permit would expire on December 31, 2021. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), an initial determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36377 excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of the application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors. Dated: June 11, 2020. Julia Marie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–12950 Filed 6–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XS032] Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the NMFS Panama City, FL laboratory. If granted, the EFP would authorize NMFS or NMFS contracted commercial fishers aboard a commercial fishing vessel to collect certain deep-water snapper species in waters of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Puerto Rico. The EFP would exempt this activity from complying with certain seasonal and area closures and from certain bag limits in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ. The purpose of the EFP is to gather information that could be used to define essential fish habitat (EFH) of deepwater snappers off the coast of Puerto Rico and to determine life history information for queen, silk, black, and blackfin snappers. DATES: Comments must be received no later than July 16, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2020–0071’’, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16JNN1.SGM 16JNN1 lotter on DSK30NT082PROD with NOTICES 36378 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 116 / Tuesday, June 16, 2020 / Notices https://www.regulations.gov/ docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0071, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Sarah Stephenson, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. The EFP application and related documents are available for review upon written request to any of the above addresses. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/ A in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Stephenson, 727–824–5305; email: Sarah.Stephenson@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted fishing. The applicant is currently conducting exempted fishing activities under an EFP for a similar deep-water snapper research project off Puerto Rico that was issued on November 16, 2018, and is valid through August 1, 2020. Notice of receipt of the application for the current EFP, with an opportunity to comment, published in the Federal Register on July 16, 2018 (83 FR 32843). No public comments on that EFP were received from that notice or since then from the public. The applicant requests authorization to collect deep-water reef fish species in the U.S. EEZ off the west coast of Puerto Rico. The applicant is seeking to gather information that could be used to define essential fish habitat for deep-water snapper species off Puerto Rico, and to obtain additional life history information about queen, silk, black, and blackfin snapper. Specimens would be collected by NMFS researchers and/ or contractors and contracted commercial fishermen aboard a commercial fishing vessel. These activities may be conducted without NMFS staff or contractors aboard the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Jun 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 contracted vessel. This permit would exempt project participants from certain seasonal and area closure regulations at 50 CFR 622.435 and from certain reef fish bag limit regulations at 50 CFR 622.437, as identified and described below. Pending issuance, the EFP would be expected to be effective from August 1, 2020, through August 1, 2021. Activities under the EFP would consist of harvesting reef fish during a total of 39 fishing trips in the 1-year project period, of which 15 trips would be within the U.S. EEZ off Puerto Rico. The remaining trips would be conducted in Puerto Rico territorial waters. Sampling sites would be randomly selected from locations with a high probability of containing habitat that could be considered essential for deep-water snappers as determined by bathymetric maps produced by NOAA’s Marine Spatial Ecology Division (https://maps.ngdc.noaa.gov/viewers/ bathymetry/). The target depth range for this project is 100 to 650 m, with sampling sites selected in each 50 m depth range throughout the overall depth range. Project activities would be conducted from August 1, 2020, through August 1, 2021. The majority of sampling would occur in September and October of 2020. Sampling would occur along the western coast of Puerto Rico from Isabela to Puerto Real, including the Isla de Desecheo Marine Reserve. Sampling would be conducted by hook-and-line drift fishing in deepwater habitats, with an underwater camera attached to a second fishing line. On each fishing trip, 4 to 10 sites would be fished per day based on distance between the sampling sites and weather. At each site, one vertical fishing line would be deployed from the commercial fishing vessel with a surface float and bottom weight for a 20-minute soak time. Twelve #9 hooks would be attached to the bottom 2 m of the line and manual snapper reels would be used to retrieve the line. Video cameras encased in deep-water housings and an LED light would be attached to a small, lightweight frame deployed on the second fishing line for a 30-minute soak time. Once deployed, the system would rest on the seafloor via tripod legs. The applicant would target queen, silk, black, and blackfin snappers, but anticipates encountering other species. A maximum of 450 of the targeted species (up to 150 queen snapper; up to 120 silk snapper; up to 120 blackfin snapper; up to 60 black snapper) would be retained under the EFP. Additionally, a maximum of 400 of the incidental species (up to 100 vermilion and wenchman snapper combined; up to PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 100 red hind; up to 100 yellowfin, red, tiger, and black grouper combined; and up to 100 yellowedge grouper) would be either be possessed onboard the vessel only for the purpose of taking length measurements prior to being returned to the water if caught during seasonal and area closures, or would be retained if caught during other times. Length measurements would be recorded for all targeted and incidental species except for species for which harvest is prohibited under Federal law (i.e., goliath and Nassau groupers, and midnight, rainbow, and blue parrotfishes). These prohibited species would be returned immediately to the water with a minimum of harm. The gonads, eyes, and otoliths of the targeted species would be removed for histological and ageing analyses conducted by NMFS, contracted observers, Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and the University of South Carolina. In order to minimize the negative biological effects of bringing these deepwater species to the surface, the commercial fishing vessel would have venting tools onboard to properly vent fish being released to facilitate their return to depth. Under the EFP, the applicant would be allowed to fish for and possess the targeted and incidental deep-water species in or from the Bajo de Sico closed area during the October 1 through March 31 closure period (50 CFR 622.435(a)(2)(iv)). A maximum of 25 fishing trips would occur in the Bajo de Sico area during the project. In addition, the applicant would be allowed to fish for or possess the targeted and incidental deep-water species during species-specific seasonal closures: Yellowfin, red, tiger, black, and yellowedge grouper during the February 1 through April 30 seasonal closure (50 CFR 622.435(a)(1)(i)); red hind grouper during the December 1 through the last day of February seasonal closure from the EEZ west of 67°10′ W longitude (50 CFR 622.435(a)(1)(ii)); and silk, black, blackfin, and vermilion snappers during the October 1 through December 31 seasonal closure (50 CFR 622.435(a)(1)(iii)). The applicant intends to retain samples of the targeted species caught during the seasonal or area closures. After samples are taken from the targeted species, the remainder of the fish caught during a seasonal or area closure would be given to the contracted commercial fishermen for personal use and consumption. For incidental species, the EFP would allow the applicant to possess the species during the applicable seasonal and area E:\FR\FM\16JNN1.SGM 16JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 116 / Tuesday, June 16, 2020 / Notices closures for sufficient time to collect and record length measurements. If the targeted or incidental species are caught outside the closed seasons and closed areas, the commercial fishermen may retain them and sell them, consistent with applicable law. Additionally, as applicable for the targeted and incidental species described within the application and this notice, the applicant would be exempt from bag limit regulations at 50 CFR 622.437(b)(1). NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration based on a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on this permit, if it is granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition on conducting sampling activities within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, or special management zones, without additional authorization, and requiring compliance with best practices in the event of interactions with any protected species. NMFS may also require annual reports summarizing the amount of reef fish species harvested during the seasonal and area closures, as well as during the period of effectiveness of any issued EFP. Additionally, NMFS would require any sea turtles taken incidentally during the course of the activities to be handled with due care to prevent injury to live specimens, observed for activity, and returned to the water. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS’ review of public comments received on the application, consultations with the affected state(s), the Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: June 10, 2020. He´le`ne M.N. Scalliet, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–12873 Filed 6–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lotter on DSK30NT082PROD with NOTICES [RTID 0648–XX054] Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Jun 15, 2020 Jkt 250001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an Exempted Fishing Permit application from the Ocean Associated Incorporated contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. The Exempted Fishing Permit would allow one commercial fishing vessel to fish outside of fishery regulations in support of research conducted by the applicant. Regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed Exempted Fishing Permits. DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 1, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by following method: • Email: nmfs.gar.efp@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line ‘‘Comments on OAIRopeless Fishing EFP.’’ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Hansen, Fishery Management Specialist, 978–281–9225. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Ocean Associates Incorporated (OAI) submitted a complete application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) on March 12, 2020, to conduct commercial fishing activities that the regulations would otherwise restrict. The OAI is requesting an exemption from Federal lobster regulations that would authorize a federally-permitted commercial lobster vessel to participate in a ropeless lobster gear study. This EFP would exempt the participating vessel from the Federal gear marking requirements found at 50 CFR 697.21(b)(2). This would allow for the use of a single buoy marker on a trawl of more than three traps. The purpose of this study is to test a prototype ropeless fishing system to potentially prevent entanglements of protected species, primarily North Atlantic right whales. This is a continuation of a study that started in 2018. The traps were deployed on a commercial fishing vessel in 2019 to get fishermen confident in deploying the gear. The trawl was deployed nine times with soak times ranging from 9–20 minutes in an average depth of 120 ft (36.5 m). The spool performed as designed and was retrieved easily with all deployments. This study is funded through the NMFS Bycatch Reduction SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36379 Engineering Program (NA18NMF4720279). The EFP would authorize the participating vessel to deploy two experimental trawls consisting of five or more traps. Experimental trawls would have a rope spool, fitted with an acoustic release, deployed on one end of the trawl, with a buoy line attached to the other. Soak time would be between 2–5 days, but may be modified depending on what each fisherman decides is appropriate for fishing. Sampling would occur from May through November 2020 in Lobster Conservation Management Area 3. Initial deployments would be overseen by a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute engineering team, but later would be observed by OAI personnel. There would be 42 deployments of experimental trawls. If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: June 10, 2020. He´le`ne M.N. Scalliet, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–12897 Filed 6–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XW016] Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Trawl Rationalization Program; 2020 Cost Recovery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice, 2020 cost recovery fee percentage correction. AGENCY: This action provides participants in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program (Trawl Program), Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16JNN1.SGM 16JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 116 (Tuesday, June 16, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36377-36379]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-12873]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XS032]


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted 
Fishing Permit

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing 
permit; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted 
fishing permit (EFP) from the NMFS Panama City, FL laboratory. If 
granted, the EFP would authorize NMFS or NMFS contracted commercial 
fishers aboard a commercial fishing vessel to collect certain deep-
water snapper species in waters of the U.S. exclusive economic zone 
(EEZ) off Puerto Rico. The EFP would exempt this activity from 
complying with certain seasonal and area closures and from certain bag 
limits in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ. The purpose of the EFP is to gather 
information that could be used to define essential fish habitat (EFH) 
of deep-water snappers off the coast of Puerto Rico and to determine 
life history information for queen, silk, black, and blackfin snappers.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than July 16, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2020-0071'', by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to

[[Page 36378]]

https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0071, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Sarah Stephenson, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 
263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    The EFP application and related documents are available for review 
upon written request to any of the above addresses.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter N/A in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Stephenson, 727-824-5305; email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 
1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted 
fishing.
    The applicant is currently conducting exempted fishing activities 
under an EFP for a similar deep-water snapper research project off 
Puerto Rico that was issued on November 16, 2018, and is valid through 
August 1, 2020. Notice of receipt of the application for the current 
EFP, with an opportunity to comment, published in the Federal Register 
on July 16, 2018 (83 FR 32843). No public comments on that EFP were 
received from that notice or since then from the public.
    The applicant requests authorization to collect deep-water reef 
fish species in the U.S. EEZ off the west coast of Puerto Rico. The 
applicant is seeking to gather information that could be used to define 
essential fish habitat for deep-water snapper species off Puerto Rico, 
and to obtain additional life history information about queen, silk, 
black, and blackfin snapper. Specimens would be collected by NMFS 
researchers and/or contractors and contracted commercial fishermen 
aboard a commercial fishing vessel. These activities may be conducted 
without NMFS staff or contractors aboard the contracted vessel. This 
permit would exempt project participants from certain seasonal and area 
closure regulations at 50 CFR 622.435 and from certain reef fish bag 
limit regulations at 50 CFR 622.437, as identified and described below. 
Pending issuance, the EFP would be expected to be effective from August 
1, 2020, through August 1, 2021.
    Activities under the EFP would consist of harvesting reef fish 
during a total of 39 fishing trips in the 1-year project period, of 
which 15 trips would be within the U.S. EEZ off Puerto Rico. The 
remaining trips would be conducted in Puerto Rico territorial waters. 
Sampling sites would be randomly selected from locations with a high 
probability of containing habitat that could be considered essential 
for deep-water snappers as determined by bathymetric maps produced by 
NOAA's Marine Spatial Ecology Division (https://maps.ngdc.noaa.gov/viewers/bathymetry/). The target depth range for this project is 100 to 
650 m, with sampling sites selected in each 50 m depth range throughout 
the overall depth range.
    Project activities would be conducted from August 1, 2020, through 
August 1, 2021. The majority of sampling would occur in September and 
October of 2020. Sampling would occur along the western coast of Puerto 
Rico from Isabela to Puerto Real, including the Isla de Desecheo Marine 
Reserve.
    Sampling would be conducted by hook-and-line drift fishing in deep-
water habitats, with an underwater camera attached to a second fishing 
line. On each fishing trip, 4 to 10 sites would be fished per day based 
on distance between the sampling sites and weather. At each site, one 
vertical fishing line would be deployed from the commercial fishing 
vessel with a surface float and bottom weight for a 20-minute soak 
time. Twelve #9 hooks would be attached to the bottom 2 m of the line 
and manual snapper reels would be used to retrieve the line. Video 
cameras encased in deep-water housings and an LED light would be 
attached to a small, lightweight frame deployed on the second fishing 
line for a 30-minute soak time. Once deployed, the system would rest on 
the seafloor via tripod legs.
    The applicant would target queen, silk, black, and blackfin 
snappers, but anticipates encountering other species. A maximum of 450 
of the targeted species (up to 150 queen snapper; up to 120 silk 
snapper; up to 120 blackfin snapper; up to 60 black snapper) would be 
retained under the EFP. Additionally, a maximum of 400 of the 
incidental species (up to 100 vermilion and wenchman snapper combined; 
up to 100 red hind; up to 100 yellowfin, red, tiger, and black grouper 
combined; and up to 100 yellowedge grouper) would be either be 
possessed onboard the vessel only for the purpose of taking length 
measurements prior to being returned to the water if caught during 
seasonal and area closures, or would be retained if caught during other 
times.
    Length measurements would be recorded for all targeted and 
incidental species except for species for which harvest is prohibited 
under Federal law (i.e., goliath and Nassau groupers, and midnight, 
rainbow, and blue parrotfishes). These prohibited species would be 
returned immediately to the water with a minimum of harm. The gonads, 
eyes, and otoliths of the targeted species would be removed for 
histological and ageing analyses conducted by NMFS, contracted 
observers, Puerto Rico's Department of Natural and Environmental 
Resources, and the University of South Carolina.
    In order to minimize the negative biological effects of bringing 
these deep-water species to the surface, the commercial fishing vessel 
would have venting tools onboard to properly vent fish being released 
to facilitate their return to depth.
    Under the EFP, the applicant would be allowed to fish for and 
possess the targeted and incidental deep-water species in or from the 
Bajo de Sico closed area during the October 1 through March 31 closure 
period (50 CFR 622.435(a)(2)(iv)). A maximum of 25 fishing trips would 
occur in the Bajo de Sico area during the project. In addition, the 
applicant would be allowed to fish for or possess the targeted and 
incidental deep-water species during species-specific seasonal 
closures: Yellowfin, red, tiger, black, and yellowedge grouper during 
the February 1 through April 30 seasonal closure (50 CFR 
622.435(a)(1)(i)); red hind grouper during the December 1 through the 
last day of February seasonal closure from the EEZ west of 67[deg]10' W 
longitude (50 CFR 622.435(a)(1)(ii)); and silk, black, blackfin, and 
vermilion snappers during the October 1 through December 31 seasonal 
closure (50 CFR 622.435(a)(1)(iii)). The applicant intends to retain 
samples of the targeted species caught during the seasonal or area 
closures. After samples are taken from the targeted species, the 
remainder of the fish caught during a seasonal or area closure would be 
given to the contracted commercial fishermen for personal use and 
consumption. For incidental species, the EFP would allow the applicant 
to possess the species during the applicable seasonal and area

[[Page 36379]]

closures for sufficient time to collect and record length measurements. 
If the targeted or incidental species are caught outside the closed 
seasons and closed areas, the commercial fishermen may retain them and 
sell them, consistent with applicable law. Additionally, as applicable 
for the targeted and incidental species described within the 
application and this notice, the applicant would be exempt from bag 
limit regulations at 50 CFR 622.437(b)(1).
    NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration based on 
a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on this 
permit, if it is granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition 
on conducting sampling activities within marine protected areas, marine 
sanctuaries, or special management zones, without additional 
authorization, and requiring compliance with best practices in the 
event of interactions with any protected species. NMFS may also require 
annual reports summarizing the amount of reef fish species harvested 
during the seasonal and area closures, as well as during the period of 
effectiveness of any issued EFP. Additionally, NMFS would require any 
sea turtles taken incidentally during the course of the activities to 
be handled with due care to prevent injury to live specimens, observed 
for activity, and returned to the water.
    A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS' review 
of public comments received on the application, consultations with the 
affected state(s), the Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a 
determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws.

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

    Dated: June 10, 2020.
H[eacute]l[egrave]ne M.N. Scalliet,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-12873 Filed 6-15-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P