Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Snapper Management Measures, 40181-40183 [2020-13774]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 129 / Monday, July 6, 2020 / Proposed Rules seeks comments on these matters. The Commission also queries what penalties should be imposed for failure to comply with a certification requirement, if adopted, and whether license forfeitures or other penalties should be imposed for failure to timely begin operations and seeks comments. 81. The Commission expects to more fully consider the economic impact and alternatives for small entities following the review of comments and costs and benefits analyses filed in response to the NPRM. The Commission’s evaluation of this information will shape the final alternatives it considers, the final conclusions it reaches, and any final actions it ultimately takes in this proceeding to minimize any significant economic impact that may occur on small entities. 82. Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules. None. 83. Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking may contain new or modified information collection(s) subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. If the Commission adopts any new or modified information collection requirements, it will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under section 3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other federal agencies are invited to comment on the new or modified information collection requirements contained in this proceeding. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, the Commission seeks specific comments on how the Commission might ‘‘further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.’’ Ordering Clauses 84. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and (j), 303, and 307 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), (j), 303, 307, and 47 CFR 1.407, the petitions for rulemaking filed by Aeronet, RM–11824 and RM–11825, are granted as discussed herein, and this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket No. 20–133 is adopted. 85. It is further ordered that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:03 Jul 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 86. It is further ordered, pursuant to sections 4(i) –(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), (j), and § 1.925 of the Commission’s rules, that the Request for Waiver of Aviat Networks, Inc. filed on April 5, 2013, as amended on March 24, 2014; and on November 10, 2014 (to add Radio Frequency Systems as a party), and the Request for Waiver of CBF Networks, Inc. d/b/a Fastback Networks, filed on June 19, 2015, are denied. If no petitions for reconsideration are timely filed, WT Docket No. 15–244 is terminated, and its docket shall be closed. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2020–14064 Filed 7–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 200622–0165] RIN 0648–BJ20 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Snapper Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf)(FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) (Amendment 51). This proposed rule would establish and modify status determination criteria and harvest levels for the gray snapper stock. The purposes of this proposed rule are to end overfishing of gray snapper and achieve optimum yield (OY). DATES: Written comments must be received by August 5, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2019–0116’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 40181 NOAA-NMFS-2019-0116, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit all written comments to Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 51, which includes an environmental assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ amendment-51-establish-gray-snapperstatus-determination-criteria-andmodify-annual-catch. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: peter.hood@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gray snapper, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks. These mandates are intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. Unless otherwise noted, all weights in this proposed rule are in round weight. Gray snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are managed as a E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 40182 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 129 / Monday, July 6, 2020 / Proposed Rules single stock with a stock annual catch limit (ACL), and a stock annual catch target (ACT). There is no allocation of the stock ACL between the commercial and recreational sectors. Gray snapper occur in estuaries and shelf waters of the Gulf, and are particularly abundant off south and southwest Florida. Generally, the fishing season is open year-round, January 1 through December 31. However, accountability measures (AMs) for gray snapper specify that if commercial and recreational landings exceed the stock ACL in a fishing year, then during the following fishing year if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to be reached, the commercial and recreational sectors will be closed for the remainder of the fishing year. The gray snapper ACL and AMs were implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044; December 29, 2011) and the stock ACL of 2.42 million lb (1.1 million kg) was not exceeded between 2012 and 2018. Preliminary review of the most recent landings data indicate this ACL is not likely to be exceeded in 2019. However, landings in 2014 and 2016 did exceed the ACLs proposed in this rule. In 2018, the stock status of gray snapper was evaluated for the first time through a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 51). The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviewed SEDAR 51 and accepted the assessment as the best scientific information available. The SSC determined that the stock is undergoing overfishing as of 2015, which was the last year of data included in the assessment, because the fishing mortality rate (F) exceeded the current maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT). The SSC was not able to determine whether the stock is overfished, because the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for gray snapper are not specified in the FMP. SEDAR 51 could not estimate the actual MSY with the best scientific information available. Therefore, the Council considered alternatives for an MSY proxy that uses the spawning potential ratio (SPR). The SPR is the ratio of the average number of eggs per fish over its lifetime when the stock is fished compared to the same value when the stock is not fished. The SPR assumes that a certain amount of fish must survive and spawn in order to replenish the stock. Analyses of stocks with various life histories suggest that, in general, the MSY is most commonly associated with the yield when fishing at an F that corresponds to an SPR between 30 and 40 percent. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:03 Jul 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 After reviewing the SEDAR 51 assessment, the SSC recommended that the MSY proxy be set at the yield when fishing at an F corresponding to a 30 percent SPR (F30%SPR), which is consistent with the current MFMT for gray snapper, set in 1999. However, the Council noted that the Gulf red snapper proxy is set at the yield associated when fishing at an F corresponding 26 percent SPR (F26%SPR), which allows for a larger yield at a given stock size. After further analyses and review, the SSC determined that the yield when fishing at F26%SPR is scientifically acceptable as a proxy for MSY, but, because of the uncertainty in the SEDAR 51 assessment, maintained its previous recommendation of the more risk-averse MSY proxy using the yield when fishing at F30%SPR. The Council selected the yield when fishing at F26%SPR for an MSY proxy to balance protection of the gray snapper stock with an increase in social and economic benefits for fishers targeting the species that is expected to result from allowing more harvest. As a result of the increasing uncertainty with long-range projections, the SSC only provided overfishing limit (OFL) and acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendations for the gray snapper stock through 2021. From SEDAR 51, the OFLs associated with the MSY proxy selected by the Council are 2.58 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2020, and 2.57 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2021, and the ABCs recommended by the SSC are 2.51 million lb (1.14 million kg) for 2020 and subsequent years. Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the ACL for the Gulf gray snapper stock, and remove the ACT. Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Target The current ACL for gray snapper is 2.42 million lb (1.1 million kg) and was established based on average landings from 1999 through 2008. The current ACT is set 14 percent below the ACL, at 2.08 million lb. To determine the new ACLs, the Council used its ACL/ACT control rule to determine whether to apply a buffer to the ABC recommendations to account for management uncertainty. The results indicated that an 11 percent buffer is appropriate. When applied to the 2020– 2021 ABC recommendations, the resulting gray snapper stock ACLs in this proposed rule would be 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year. For 2021 and subsequent fishing years, the ACL would be set at PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg). The Council decided to remove the ACT for gray snapper because it has not been used for management since its implementation in 2012. Management Measures Contained in Amendment 51 But Not Codified Through This Proposed Rule Amendment 51 would modify the OFL and ABC for the gray snapper stock as previously explained. Amendment 51 would also modify the MFMT and specify the MSY, MSST, and OY for the stock. NMFS uses the MSST and MFMT to determine whether a stock is overfished or undergoing overfishing, respectively. If the stock biomass falls below the MSST, then the stock is considered overfished and the Council would then need to develop a rebuilding plan capable of returning the stock to a level that allows the stock to achieve MSY on a continuing basis. In years when there is a stock assessment, if fishing mortality exceeds the MFMT, a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing, because this level of fishing mortality, if continued, would reduce the stock biomass to an overfished condition. In years in which there is no assessment, overfishing occurs if landings exceed the OFL. Amendment 51 would set the MSY proxy as the yield when fishing at F26%SPR. MFMT would be changed from F30%SPR to F26%SPR, and the MSST would be 50 percent of the biomass at MSY or the MSY proxy. The OY would be the yield when fishing at 90 percent of FMSY(or MSY proxy). As noted previously, under the current MFMT, overfishing was occurring as of 2015. Under the proposed MFMT of F26%SPR, projections from SEDAR 51 suggest overfishing ended in 2017. Under the proposed MSST, the stock would not be overfished. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 129 / Monday, July 6, 2020 / Proposed Rules a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows. A copy of the full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the objectives of and legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting or recordkeeping compliance requirements are introduced in this proposed rule. The proposed rule concerns recreational and commercial fishing for gray snapper in Federal waters of the Gulf. It directly affects both anglers (recreational fishers) and commercial fishing businesses that harvest gray snapper in the Gulf EEZ. Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601(6), whether fishing from forhire fishing, private or leased vessels. Therefore, neither estimates of the number of anglers nor the impacts on them are required or provided in this analysis. Any business that operates a commercial fishing vessel that harvests gray snapper in the Gulf EEZ must have a valid Federal Gulf reef fish permit attached to that vessel. From 2013 through 2017, an annual average of 387 permitted vessels reported landing gray snapper. An estimated 295 businesses operate that average number of vessels that land gray snapper annually. All of these businesses are expected to operate primarily in the Gulf commercial fishing industry (NAICS code 11411). For Regulatory Flexibility Act purposes, 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 involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 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 its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. From 2013 through 2017, federallypermitted vessels that reported landing gray snapper received an average of $1,018 (2017 dollars) annually from gray VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:03 Jul 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 snapper landings and $127,707 (2017 dollars) annually from all landings. Based on those revenues, NMFS has determined that all of the businesses directly affected by the proposed action are small. This proposed rule would reduce the current gray snapper stock ACL from a constant 2.42 million lb (1.10 million kg) to 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) in 2020 and 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg) in 2021 and subsequent years. That is a decrease of 0.18 to 0.19 million lb (0.82 to 0.86 million kg), which is a reduction of the stock ACL by 7.44 percent to 7.85 percent. Between 2013 and 2017, the commercial sector accounted for an average of 7.5 percent of the total gray snapper landings in the Gulf, and an average of 83.0 percent of commercial sector landings were made by federallypermitted vessels. NMFS used those average percentages to estimate that the 180,000 lb (81,647 kg) reduction in the stock ACL in 2020 could result in a 13,500 lb (6,124 kg) decrease in commercial landings in 2020, and the 190,000 lb (86,183 kg) reduction in the stock ACL in 2021 and thereafter could reduce commercial landings by 14,250 lb (6,464 kg). Moreover, because permitted vessels report their gray snapper landings in pounds gutted weight, those possible reductions would be equivalent to 10,186 lb (4,620 kg) gutted weight in 2020 and 10,828 lb (4,911 kg) gutted weight in years thereafter. However, any actual decrease in commercial landings would require a closure of the commercial season before the end of the fishing year. A closure would occur if the sum of commercial and recreational landings exceeded the stock ACL during the previous year, and if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reached or was projected to reach the stock ACL in the current year. There have been no closures of the commercial season in recent years. Landings data for 2018 and preliminary data for 2019 indicate combined landings for those years were under the current and proposed stock ACLs, which suggests there would be no closures. If there were a closure as a result of the reduction in the stock ACL, there would be a reduction of federallypermitted vessels’ collective dockside revenues that ranges from $28,419 to $30,001 (2017 dollars), assuming an average dockside price of gray snapper of $2.79 per lb (2017 dollars), gutted PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 40183 weight. Each of the 387 vessels would lose from $73 to $78 in the year of the closure, on average, which represents a 0.06 percent reduction of the average total income ($127,707). The average impact on the 295 small businesses would be $96 to $102 (2017 dollars). The information provided supports a determination that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on the average annual 295 commercial fishing businesses and their combined 387 federally permitted fishing vessels that harvest gray snapper from the Gulf. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray snapper, Gulf, Reef fish. Dated: June 22, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.41, revise paragraph (l) to read as follows: ■ § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (l) Gray snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for gray snapper, in round weight, is 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg) for the 2021 and subsequent fishing years. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–13774 Filed 7–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 129 (Monday, July 6, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 40181-40183]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13774]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 200622-0165]
RIN 0648-BJ20


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Snapper Management 
Measures

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in 
Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources 
of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf)(FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico 
Fishery Management Council (Council) (Amendment 51). This proposed rule 
would establish and modify status determination criteria and harvest 
levels for the gray snapper stock. The purposes of this proposed rule 
are to end overfishing of gray snapper and achieve optimum yield (OY).

DATES: Written comments must be received by August 5, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2019-0116'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2019-0116, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit all written comments to Peter Hood, NMFS 
Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 
33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, 
or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter 
``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Amendment 51, which includes an environmental 
assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act 
analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-51-establish-gray-snapper-status-determination-criteria-and-modify-annual-catch.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef 
fish fishery, which includes gray snapper, under the FMP. The Council 
prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 
CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing 
basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks. These mandates are 
intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the greatest 
overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing 
food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine 
ecosystems.
    Unless otherwise noted, all weights in this proposed rule are in 
round weight.
    Gray snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are managed 
as a

[[Page 40182]]

single stock with a stock annual catch limit (ACL), and a stock annual 
catch target (ACT). There is no allocation of the stock ACL between the 
commercial and recreational sectors. Gray snapper occur in estuaries 
and shelf waters of the Gulf, and are particularly abundant off south 
and southwest Florida. Generally, the fishing season is open year-
round, January 1 through December 31. However, accountability measures 
(AMs) for gray snapper specify that if commercial and recreational 
landings exceed the stock ACL in a fishing year, then during the 
following fishing year if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to 
be reached, the commercial and recreational sectors will be closed for 
the remainder of the fishing year. The gray snapper ACL and AMs were 
implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044; December 29, 2011) and the stock ACL 
of 2.42 million lb (1.1 million kg) was not exceeded between 2012 and 
2018. Preliminary review of the most recent landings data indicate this 
ACL is not likely to be exceeded in 2019. However, landings in 2014 and 
2016 did exceed the ACLs proposed in this rule.
    In 2018, the stock status of gray snapper was evaluated for the 
first time through a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review benchmark 
stock assessment (SEDAR 51). The Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC) reviewed SEDAR 51 and accepted the assessment as the 
best scientific information available. The SSC determined that the 
stock is undergoing overfishing as of 2015, which was the last year of 
data included in the assessment, because the fishing mortality rate (F) 
exceeded the current maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT). The 
SSC was not able to determine whether the stock is overfished, because 
the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and minimum stock size threshold 
(MSST) for gray snapper are not specified in the FMP.
    SEDAR 51 could not estimate the actual MSY with the best scientific 
information available. Therefore, the Council considered alternatives 
for an MSY proxy that uses the spawning potential ratio (SPR). The SPR 
is the ratio of the average number of eggs per fish over its lifetime 
when the stock is fished compared to the same value when the stock is 
not fished. The SPR assumes that a certain amount of fish must survive 
and spawn in order to replenish the stock. Analyses of stocks with 
various life histories suggest that, in general, the MSY is most 
commonly associated with the yield when fishing at an F that 
corresponds to an SPR between 30 and 40 percent.
    After reviewing the SEDAR 51 assessment, the SSC recommended that 
the MSY proxy be set at the yield when fishing at an F corresponding to 
a 30 percent SPR (F30%SPR), which is consistent with the 
current MFMT for gray snapper, set in 1999. However, the Council noted 
that the Gulf red snapper proxy is set at the yield associated when 
fishing at an F corresponding 26 percent SPR (F26%SPR), 
which allows for a larger yield at a given stock size. After further 
analyses and review, the SSC determined that the yield when fishing at 
F26%SPR is scientifically acceptable as a proxy for MSY, 
but, because of the uncertainty in the SEDAR 51 assessment, maintained 
its previous recommendation of the more risk-averse MSY proxy using the 
yield when fishing at F30%SPR. The Council selected the 
yield when fishing at F26%SPR for an MSY proxy to balance 
protection of the gray snapper stock with an increase in social and 
economic benefits for fishers targeting the species that is expected to 
result from allowing more harvest.
    As a result of the increasing uncertainty with long-range 
projections, the SSC only provided overfishing limit (OFL) and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendations for the gray snapper 
stock through 2021. From SEDAR 51, the OFLs associated with the MSY 
proxy selected by the Council are 2.58 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 
2020, and 2.57 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2021, and the ABCs 
recommended by the SSC are 2.51 million lb (1.14 million kg) for 2020 
and subsequent years.

Management Measure Contained in This Proposed Rule

    If implemented, this proposed rule would revise the ACL for the 
Gulf gray snapper stock, and remove the ACT.

Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Target

    The current ACL for gray snapper is 2.42 million lb (1.1 million 
kg) and was established based on average landings from 1999 through 
2008. The current ACT is set 14 percent below the ACL, at 2.08 million 
lb.
    To determine the new ACLs, the Council used its ACL/ACT control 
rule to determine whether to apply a buffer to the ABC recommendations 
to account for management uncertainty. The results indicated that an 11 
percent buffer is appropriate. When applied to the 2020-2021 ABC 
recommendations, the resulting gray snapper stock ACLs in this proposed 
rule would be 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing 
year. For 2021 and subsequent fishing years, the ACL would be set at 
2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg). The Council decided to remove the 
ACT for gray snapper because it has not been used for management since 
its implementation in 2012.

Management Measures Contained in Amendment 51 But Not Codified Through 
This Proposed Rule

    Amendment 51 would modify the OFL and ABC for the gray snapper 
stock as previously explained. Amendment 51 would also modify the MFMT 
and specify the MSY, MSST, and OY for the stock. NMFS uses the MSST and 
MFMT to determine whether a stock is overfished or undergoing 
overfishing, respectively. If the stock biomass falls below the MSST, 
then the stock is considered overfished and the Council would then need 
to develop a rebuilding plan capable of returning the stock to a level 
that allows the stock to achieve MSY on a continuing basis. In years 
when there is a stock assessment, if fishing mortality exceeds the 
MFMT, a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing, because this 
level of fishing mortality, if continued, would reduce the stock 
biomass to an overfished condition. In years in which there is no 
assessment, overfishing occurs if landings exceed the OFL.
    Amendment 51 would set the MSY proxy as the yield when fishing at 
F26%SPR. MFMT would be changed from 
F30%SPR to F26%SPR, and the 
MSST would be 50 percent of the biomass at MSY or the MSY proxy. The OY 
would be the yield when fishing at 90 percent of 
FMSY(or MSY proxy). As noted previously, under 
the current MFMT, overfishing was occurring as of 2015. Under the 
proposed MFMT of F26%SPR, projections from SEDAR 
51 suggest overfishing ended in 2017. Under the proposed MSST, the 
stock would not be overfished.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable 
laws, subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866. This rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory action 
because this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on

[[Page 40183]]

a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this 
certification is as follows. A copy of the full analysis is available 
from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the 
objectives of and legal basis for this action are contained in the 
SUMMARY section of the preamble.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal 
rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting or 
recordkeeping compliance requirements are introduced in this proposed 
rule.
    The proposed rule concerns recreational and commercial fishing for 
gray snapper in Federal waters of the Gulf. It directly affects both 
anglers (recreational fishers) and commercial fishing businesses that 
harvest gray snapper in the Gulf EEZ.
    Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined 
in 5 U.S.C. 601(6), whether fishing from for-hire fishing, private or 
leased vessels. Therefore, neither estimates of the number of anglers 
nor the impacts on them are required or provided in this analysis.
    Any business that operates a commercial fishing vessel that 
harvests gray snapper in the Gulf EEZ must have a valid Federal Gulf 
reef fish permit attached to that vessel. From 2013 through 2017, an 
annual average of 387 permitted vessels reported landing gray snapper. 
An estimated 295 businesses operate that average number of vessels that 
land gray snapper annually. All of these businesses are expected to 
operate primarily in the Gulf commercial fishing industry (NAICS code 
11411).
    For Regulatory Flexibility Act purposes, 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 involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 
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 its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 
million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide.
    From 2013 through 2017, federally-permitted vessels that reported 
landing gray snapper received an average of $1,018 (2017 dollars) 
annually from gray snapper landings and $127,707 (2017 dollars) 
annually from all landings. Based on those revenues, NMFS has 
determined that all of the businesses directly affected by the proposed 
action are small.
    This proposed rule would reduce the current gray snapper stock ACL 
from a constant 2.42 million lb (1.10 million kg) to 2.24 million lb 
(1.02 million kg) in 2020 and 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg) in 2021 
and subsequent years. That is a decrease of 0.18 to 0.19 million lb 
(0.82 to 0.86 million kg), which is a reduction of the stock ACL by 
7.44 percent to 7.85 percent.
    Between 2013 and 2017, the commercial sector accounted for an 
average of 7.5 percent of the total gray snapper landings in the Gulf, 
and an average of 83.0 percent of commercial sector landings were made 
by federally-permitted vessels. NMFS used those average percentages to 
estimate that the 180,000 lb (81,647 kg) reduction in the stock ACL in 
2020 could result in a 13,500 lb (6,124 kg) decrease in commercial 
landings in 2020, and the 190,000 lb (86,183 kg) reduction in the stock 
ACL in 2021 and thereafter could reduce commercial landings by 14,250 
lb (6,464 kg). Moreover, because permitted vessels report their gray 
snapper landings in pounds gutted weight, those possible reductions 
would be equivalent to 10,186 lb (4,620 kg) gutted weight in 2020 and 
10,828 lb (4,911 kg) gutted weight in years thereafter. However, any 
actual decrease in commercial landings would require a closure of the 
commercial season before the end of the fishing year. A closure would 
occur if the sum of commercial and recreational landings exceeded the 
stock ACL during the previous year, and if the sum of commercial and 
recreational landings reached or was projected to reach the stock ACL 
in the current year. There have been no closures of the commercial 
season in recent years. Landings data for 2018 and preliminary data for 
2019 indicate combined landings for those years were under the current 
and proposed stock ACLs, which suggests there would be no closures.
    If there were a closure as a result of the reduction in the stock 
ACL, there would be a reduction of federally-permitted vessels' 
collective dockside revenues that ranges from $28,419 to $30,001 (2017 
dollars), assuming an average dockside price of gray snapper of $2.79 
per lb (2017 dollars), gutted weight. Each of the 387 vessels would 
lose from $73 to $78 in the year of the closure, on average, which 
represents a 0.06 percent reduction of the average total income 
($127,707). The average impact on the 295 small businesses would be $96 
to $102 (2017 dollars).
    The information provided supports a determination that this 
proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on the 
average annual 295 commercial fishing businesses and their combined 387 
federally permitted fishing vessels that harvest gray snapper from the 
Gulf. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray snapper, Gulf, Reef 
fish.

    Dated: June 22, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.41, revise paragraph (l) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.41   Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (l) Gray snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational 
landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during 
the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational 
landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that 
fishing year. The stock ACL for gray snapper, in round weight, is 2.24 
million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 
million lb (1.01 million kg) for the 2021 and subsequent fishing years.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-13774 Filed 7-2-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P