Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 59, 45794-45807 [2020-16424]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 45794 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations OMB Control Number: 3060–1274. OMB Approval Date: July 9, 2020. OMB Expiration Date: July 31, 2023. Title: Application for the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund Stage 2 Fixed Support. Form Number: FCC Form 5634. Type of Review: New information collection. Respondents: Business or other forprofit. Number of Respondents and Responses: 20 unique respondents; 30 responses. Estimated Time per Response: 2–80 hours. Frequency of Response: One-time and annual reporting requirements. Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority for this information collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 151–154, 214, and 254. Total Annual Burden: 1,620 hours. Total Annual Cost: No Cost. Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s). Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: Although some information collected in FCC Form 5634 will be made available for routine public inspection, the Commission will withhold certain information collected in FCC Form 5634 from routine public inspection. Specifically, the Commission will treat certain financial and technical information submitted in FCC Form 5634 as confidential. However, if a request for public inspection for this technical or financial information is made under 47 CFR 0.461, and the applicant has any objections to disclosure, the applicant will be notified and will be required to justify continued confidential treatment. To the extent that an applicant seeks to have other information collected in FCC Form 5634 or during the post-selection review process withheld from public inspection, the applicant may request confidential treatment pursuant to 47 CFR 0.459. Needs and Uses: In the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund Order, the Commission comprehensively reformed the high-cost program within the universal service fund to focus support on networks capable of providing advanced, hardened voice and broadband services in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (collectively, the Territories). Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund, WC Dockets Nos. 18–143 et al., Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 34 FCC Rcd 9109 (PR–USVI Order). As part of the PR–USVI Order, the Commission adopted a single-round competitive VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 proposal process to award Stage 2 support for fixed telecommunications networks in the Territories (Stage 2 Competition). For the Stage 2 Competition, service providers will compete to receive highcost support of up to $504.7 million in Puerto Rico and $186.5 million in the U.S. Virgin Islands over 10 years to offer fixed voice and broadband services to all locations in the Territories in accordance with the framework adopted in the PR–USVI Order. The information collection requirements reported under this new collection are the result of the competitive proposal process adopted by the PR–USVI Order to award support to winning applicants. The Commission adopted various rules regarding the eligibility of service providers and the term of support. In addition, the Commission adopted rules to govern the competitive proposal process, which includes information to be submitted by parties as part of their competitive proposals and information that must be submitted by winning bidders seeking to become authorized to receive Stage 2 fixed support. The Commission concluded, based on its experience with awarding high-cost support and consistent with the record, that this single-stage competitive proposal process balances the need to collect information essential to awarding support and authorizing Stage 2 fixed support with administrative efficiency. The Commission estimates that approximately 20 parties will apply and approximately 10 will be selected as winning applicants. This information collection addresses the burdens associated with these requirements. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary. [FR Doc. 2020–16348 Filed 7–29–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 200723–0199] RIN 0648–BJ12 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 59 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. This action approves and implements Framework Adjustment 59 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule sets or adjusts catch limits for 19 of the 20 multispecies (groundfish) stocks and makes minor changes to groundfish management measures. This action is necessary to respond to updated scientific information and to achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The final measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management measures are based on the best scientific information available. DATES: Effective July 28, 2020. ADDRESSES: Copies of Framework Adjustment 59, including the Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council in support of this action are available 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: http:// www.nefmc.org/management-plans/ northeast-multispecies or http:// www.regulations.gov. Copies of the small entity compliance guide are available from Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298, or available on the internet at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/managementplan/northeast-multispeciesmanagement-plan. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Sullivan, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone: 978–282–8493; email: Liz.Sullivan@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Table of Contents 1. Summary of Approved Measures 2. Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas 3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020–2022 4. Regulatory Corrections under Secretarial Authority 5. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 59 Proposed Rule 6. Changes from the Proposed Rule 1. Summary of Approved Measures This action approves the management measures in Framework Adjustment 59 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The measures implemented in this final rule: • Set fishing year 2020 shared U.S./ Canada quotas for Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder and Eastern GB cod and haddock; • Set 2020–2022 specifications, including catch limits, for 15 groundfish stocks; • Adjust 2020 allocations for four groundfish stocks: Gulf of Maine (GOM) winter flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) winter flounder, redfish, and ocean pout; • Address commercial/recreational allocation issues raised by new Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) data; and • Revise the GB cod Incidental Catch total allowable catch (TAC) to remove the allocation to the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock Special Access Program (SAP). This action also implements regulatory corrections that are not part of Framework 59, but that are implemented under our section 305(d) authority in the Magnuson-Stevens Act to make changes necessary to carry out the FMP. We are implementing these corrections in conjunction with the Framework 59 measures for expediency purposes. We describe these corrections in Section 4, Regulatory Corrections under Secretarial Authority. 2. Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./ Canada Quotas Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks 45795 cod, Eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are jointly managed with Canada under the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding. This action adopts shared U.S./Canada quotas for these stocks for fishing year 2020 based on 2019 assessments and the recommendations of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC). The 2020 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country’s allocation, are listed in Table 1. Detailed summaries of the assessments can be found at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-englandmid-atlantic/international-affairs/ population-dynamics-internationalcollaboration. As described in the proposed rule (85 FR 32347; May 29, 2020), Eastern GB TABLE 1—2020 FISHING YEAR U.S./CANADA QUOTAS (MT, LIVE WEIGHT) AND PERCENT OF QUOTA ALLOCATED TO EACH COUNTRY Quota Eastern GB cod khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Total Shared Quota ......................................................................................................... U.S. Quota ....................................................................................................................... Canadian Quota ............................................................................................................... The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for Eastern GB cod, Eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the U.S. quota in the following fishing year. Based on preliminary data through July 9, 2020, the U.S. fishery did not exceed its 2019 fishing year quota for any of the shared stocks. However, if final catch accounting for the 2019 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery exceeded its quota for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the respective U.S. quotas for the 2020 fishing year in an adjustment action, as soon as possible in the 2020 fishing year. If any fishery that is allocated a portion of the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation and causes an overage of the overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction would be applied only to that fishery’s allocation in the following fishing year. This ensures that catch by one component of the overall fishery does not negatively affect another component of the overall fishery. 3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020– 2022 Summary of the Catch Limits This rule adopts new catch limits for 14 groundfish stocks for the 2020–2022 fishing years based on stock assessments VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 650 188.5 (29%) 461.5 (71%) completed in 2019, and fishing year 2020–2021 specifications for GB yellowtail flounder. Framework 57 (83 FR 18985; May 1, 2018) previously set 2020 quotas for the five groundfish stocks not assessed in 2019 (GOM winter flounder, SNE/MA winter flounder, redfish, ocean pout, and Atlantic wolffish), based on assessments conducted in 2017. This action includes minor adjustments for four of these stocks (excluding Atlantic wolffish) for fishing year 2020. The catch limits implemented in this action, including overfishing limits (OFL), acceptable biological catches (ABC), and annual catch limits (ACL), are listed in Tables 2 through 10. A summary of how these catch limits were developed, including the distribution to the various fishery components, was provided in the proposed rule and in Appendix II (Calculation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Limits, FY 2020–FY 2022) to the Framework 59 Environmental Assessment (EA) (see ADDRESSES for information on how to get this document), and is not repeated here. The sector and common pool sub-ACLs implemented in this action are based on fishing year 2020 potential sector contributions (PSC) and final fishing year 2020 sector rosters. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Eastern GB haddock 30,000 16,200 (54%) 13,800 (46%) GB yellowtail flounder 162 120 (74%) 42 (26%) Recreational Allocations Amendment 16 to the FMP (75 FR 18262; April 9, 2010) established the method for determining the original commercial and recreational allocations of GOM cod and haddock based on the ratio of reported landings (for commercial and recreational) and discards (commercial only) for the time period 2001–2006 using data from the Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting III (GARM III). The 2019 stock assessments used updated data to assess groundfish stocks including GOM cod and haddock. The proposed rule included an explanation of the data changes incorporated into the 2019 stock assessments and is not repeated here. Framework 59, applying the same method approved in Amendment 16 but with the revised data for the same time period of 2001–2006, approves a revised recreational allocation of 37.5 percent for GOM cod and 33.9 percent for GOM haddock. The remaining portion of the ABC (62.5 percent for GOM cod, 66.1 percent for GOM haddock) is allocated to the commercial fisheries, which include the Federal commercial groundfish fishery, state commercial fishery, and other Federal fisheries. Table 11 shows the original and revised split in allocations as a percentage for E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 45796 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations the commercial and recreational fisheries for GOM cod and haddock. Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP Framework 59 removes the portion of the Incidental Catch Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for GB cod that is allocated to the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP. The allocation of the GB cod Incidental Catch TAC remains for the Regular B Days-at-Sea Program and the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP (Table 8). TABLE 2—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 OVERFISHING LIMITS AND ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCHES [Mt, live weight] 2020 Percent change from 2019 Stock OFL GB Cod ................................................................................ GOM Cod ............................................................................. GB Haddock ......................................................................... GOM Haddock ..................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ........................................................ SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ............................................... American Plaice ................................................................... Witch Flounder ..................................................................... GB Winter Flounder ............................................................. GOM Winter Flounder * ........................................................ SNE/MA Winter Flounder * .................................................. Redfish * ............................................................................... White Hake .......................................................................... Pollock .................................................................................. N. Windowpane Flounder .................................................... S. Windowpane Flounder .................................................... Ocean Pout * ........................................................................ Atlantic Halibut ..................................................................... Atlantic Wolffish * ................................................................. U.S. ABC UNK 724 184,822 25,334 UNK 31 1,136 4,084 UNK 790 596 1,228 15,852 2,857 35,358 84 568 169 UNK 120 ¥29 ¥21 126 58 13 ¥68 61 96 49 ¥31 0 0 1 ¥27 ¥32 ¥36 ¥10 0 2 0 1,291 552 131,567 19,696 120 22 823 3,155 1,483 561 447 727 11,942 2,147 27,447 59 426 127 106 90 2021 OFL 2022 U.S. ABC OFL U.S. ABC UNK 929 116,883 21,521 UNK 71 1,076 3,740 UNK 944 1,291 552 76,537 16,794 120 22 823 2,881 1,483 561 UNK 1,150 114,925 14,834 1,291 552 75,056 11,526 184 1,116 3,687 UNK 1,590 22 823 2,825 1,483 561 2,906 28,475 84 568 2,147 22,062 59 426 2,986 21,744 84 568 2,147 16,812 59 426 UNK 106 0 106 CC = Cape Cod; N = Northern; S = Southern; UNK = Unknown. * The GOM winter flounder, SNE/MA winter flounder, redfish, ocean pout, and Atlantic wolffish stocks have U.S. ABCs previously approved in Framework 57, based on the 2017 assessments. All other stocks’ proposed ABCs based on the 2019 assessments. Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits would be set in a future action. TABLE 3—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2020 FISHING YEAR [Mt, live weight] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Stock GB Cod ........................... GOM Cod ........................ GB Haddock .................... GOM Haddock ................ GB Yellowtail Flounder ... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ....................... American Plaice .............. Witch Flounder ................ GB Winter Flounder ........ GOM Winter Flounder ..... SNE/MA Winter Flounder Redfish ............................ White Hake ...................... Pollock ............................. N. Windowpane Flounder S. Windowpane Flounder Ocean Pout ..................... Atlantic Halibut ................ Atlantic Wolffish ............... Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Smallmesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 1,234 523 124,969 18,580 116 1,073 468 121,864 18,267 95 1,041 267 119,410 11,754 92 31 9 2,454 303 3 ...................... 193 ...................... 6,210 ...................... .................. .................. 2,447 183 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 18.6 .................. .................. .................. .................. 2.2 19 48 0 65 0.0 142 7 658 65 0.0 21 15 12 3 ...................... .................. 2 .................. 0 4 787 3,000 1,414 545 432 699 11,351 2,041 26,184 55 412 120 102 84 688 2,937 1,310 522 287 539 11,231 2,019 23,989 38 48 92 77 82 656 2,859 1,275 502 272 475 11,085 1,995 23,752 na na na na na 32 78 35 21 14 63 147 24 236 38 48 92 77 82 ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 12 143 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 58 32 44 0 139 36 60 11 1,098 1 26 1 21 1 41 32 59 22 7 124 60 11 1,098 5 196 27 4 1 na: not allocated to sectors. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 45797 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 4—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2021 FISHING YEAR [Mt, live weight] Stock GB Cod ........................... GOM Cod ........................ GB Haddock .................... GOM Haddock ................ GB Yellowtail Flounder ... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ....................... American Plaice .............. Witch Flounder ................ GB Winter Flounder ........ GOM Winter Flounder * ... SNE/MA Winter Flounder * .............................. Redfish * .......................... White Hake ...................... Pollock ............................. N. Windowpane Flounder S. Windowpane Flounder Ocean Pout * ................... Atlantic Halibut ................ Atlantic Wolffish* ............. Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Smallmesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 1,234 523 72,699 15,843 116 1,073 468 70,892 15,575 95 1,041 267 69,465 10,022 92 31 9 1,428 258 3 ...................... 193 ...................... 5,295 ...................... .................. .................. 1,424 156 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 19 .................. .................. .................. .................. 2 19 48 0 56 0 142 7 383 56 0 21 15 12 3 ...................... .................. 2 .................. 0 4 787 2,740 1,414 545 .................. 688 2,682 1,310 522 .................... 656 2,611 1,275 502 0 32 71 35 21 0 ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 58 29 44 0 .................. 41 29 59 22 .................. .................. .................. 2,041 21,047 55 412 .................. 102 .................. .................... .................... 2,019 19,282 38 48 .................... 77 .................... 0 0 1,995 19,092 na na .................. na .................. 0 0 24 190 38 48 .................. 77 .................. ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 12 143 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 11 882 1 26 .................. 21 .................. .................. .................. 11 882 5 196 .................. 4 .................. na: not allocated to sectors. * These stocks only have an allocation for fishing year 2020, previously approved in Framework 57. TABLE 5—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2022 FISHING YEAR [Mt, live weight] Stock GB Cod ........................... GOM Cod ........................ GB Haddock .................... GOM Haddock ................ GB Yellowtail Flounder ** SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ....................... American Plaice .............. Witch Flounder ................ GB Winter Flounder ........ GOM Winter Flounder * ... SNE/MA Winter Flounder * .............................. Redfish * .......................... White Hake ...................... Pollock ............................. N. Windowpane Flounder S. Windowpane Flounder Ocean Pout * ................... Atlantic Halibut ................ Atlantic Wolffish * ............. Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Smallmesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 1,234 523 71,292 10,873 .................. 1,073 468 69,521 10,690 .................... 1,041 267 68,120 6,879 0 31 9 1,400 177 0 ...................... 193 ...................... 3,634 ...................... .................. .................. 1,396 107 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 19 48 0 38 .................. 142 7 375 38 .................. 21 15 13 3 ...................... .................. 2 .................. 0 4 787 2,687 1,414 545 .................. 688 2,630 1,310 522 .................... 656 2,560 1,275 502 0 32 70 35 21 0 ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 58 28 44 0 .................. 41 28 59 22 .................. .................. .................. 2,041 16,039 55 412 .................. 102 .................. .................... .................... 2,019 14,694 38 48 .................... 77 .................... 0 0 1,995 14,549 na na .................. na .................. 0 0 24 145 38 48 .................. 77 .................. ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... ...................... .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 12 143 .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. 11 672 1 26 .................. 21 .................. .................. .................. 11 672 5 196 .................. 4 .................. na: not allocated to sectors. * These stocks only have an allocation for fishing year 2020, previously approved in Framework 57. ** Framework 59 sets allocations for GB yellowtail flounder for fishing years 2020 and 2021 only. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES TABLE 6—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS [Mt, live weight] 2020 2021 2022 Stock GB Cod ..................................... GOM Cod .................................. GB Haddock .............................. GOM Haddock .......................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 8.8 4.3 662.7 81.8 10.7 2.9 810.0 78.8 11.9 1.6 981.8 142.4 8.8 4.3 385.5 69.8 10.7 2.9 471.2 67.2 11.9 1.6 571.1 121.5 8.8 4.3 378.1 47.9 10.7 2.9 462.1 46.1 11.9 1.6 560.1 83.4 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 45798 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 6—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS—Continued [Mt, live weight] 2020 2021 2022 Stock Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 0.6 0.6 18.0 57.6 19.5 1.7 5.4 36.7 9.3 66.2 1.0 0.8 8.2 6.2 7.1 5.0 5.5 45.5 7.6 82.7 1.7 1.5 5.4 14.0 8.9 14.2 3.6 64.6 7.6 87.5 0.6 0.6 18.0 52.6 19.5 1.7 .................... .................... 9.3 53.2 1.0 0.8 8.2 5.7 7.1 5.0 .................... .................... 7.6 66.5 1.7 1.5 5.4 12.8 8.9 14.2 .................... .................... 7.6 70.3 .................... 0.6 18.0 51.6 19.5 1.7 .................... .................... 9.3 40.5 .................... 0.8 8.2 5.6 7.1 5.0 .................... .................... 7.6 50.7 .................... 1.5 5.4 12.6 8.9 14.2 .................... .................... 7.6 53.6 GB Yellowtail Flounder ............. SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ..... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder .... American Plaice ........................ Witch Flounder .......................... GB Winter Flounder .................. GOM Winter Flounder ............... Redfish ...................................... White Hake ................................ Pollock ....................................... TABLE 7—COMMON POOL INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR THE 2020–2022 FISHING YEARS [Mt, live weight] Percentage of common pool sub-ACL Stock GB Cod ............................................................................................................ GOM Cod ......................................................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder .................................................................................... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ........................................................................... American Plaice ............................................................................................... Witch Flounder ................................................................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ................................................................................ 2020 1.68 1 2 1 5 5 1 0.53 0.09 0.07 0.32 3.89 1.77 0.63 2021 2022 0.53 0.09 0.07 0.32 3.56 1.77 ........................ 0.53 0.09 ........................ 0.32 3.49 1.77 ........................ TABLE 8—PERCENTAGE OF INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS DISTRIBUTED TO EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM Regular B DAS program (%) Stock GB Cod ........................................................................................................................................ GOM Cod ..................................................................................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ................................................................................................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ...................................................................................................... American Plaice ........................................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ............................................................................................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............................................................................................................ Closed Area I hook gear haddock SAP (%) 60 100 50 100 100 100 100 Eastern U.S./CA haddock SAP (%) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 40 n/a 50 n/a n/a n/a n/a TABLE 9—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM [Mt, live weight] Regular B DAS program Closed Area I hook gear haddock SAP Stock 2020 GB Cod ........................................................................ GOM Cod ..................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ................................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ....................................... American Plaice ........................................................... Witch Flounder ............................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............................................ 0.32 0.09 0.03 0.32 3.89 1.77 0.63 2021 2022 0.32 0.09 0.03 0.32 3.56 1.77 ................ 0.32 0.09 ................ 0.32 3.49 1.77 ................ Eastern U.S./Canada haddock SAP 2020 2020–2022 0.0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2021 0.21 n/a 0.03 n/a n/a n/a n/a 2022 0.21 n/a 0.03 n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.21 n/a ................ n/a n/a n/a n/a khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES TABLE 10—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 REGULAR B DAS PROGRAM QUARTERLY INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS [Mt, live weight] 2020 Stock GB Cod ............. GOM Cod .......... VerDate Sep<11>2014 1st quarter (13%) 2nd quarter (29%) 0.04 0.01 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 2021 3rd quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 Jkt 250001 4th quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 PO 00000 0.09 0.03 Frm 00038 1st quarter (13%) 0.04 0.01 Fmt 4700 2nd quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 Sfmt 4700 2022 3rd quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 4th quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 1st quarter (13%) 0.04 0.01 30JYR1 2nd quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 3rd quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 4th quarter (29%) 0.09 0.03 45799 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 10—FISHING YEARS 2020–2022 REGULAR B DAS PROGRAM QUARTERLY INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS—Continued [Mt, live weight] 2020 Stock GB Yellowtail Flounder ......... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ......... American Plaice Witch Flounder .. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ......... 1st quarter (13%) 2nd quarter (29%) 2021 3rd quarter (29%) 4th quarter (29%) 1st quarter (13%) 2nd quarter (29%) 2022 3rd quarter (29%) 4th quarter (29%) 1st quarter (13%) 2nd quarter (29%) 3rd quarter (29%) 4th quarter (29%) 0.004 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.01 ................ ................ ................ ................ 0.04 0.51 0.23 0.09 1.13 0.51 0.09 1.13 0.51 0.09 1.13 0.51 0.04 0.46 0.23 0.09 1.03 0.51 0.09 1.03 0.51 0.09 1.03 0.51 0.04 0.45 0.23 0.09 1.01 0.51 0.09 1.01 0.51 0.09 1.01 0.51 0.08 0.18 0.18 0.18 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ TABLE 11—ORIGINAL AND REVISED ALLOCATIONS, BY PERCENTAGE, FOR COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL GULF OF MAINE COD AND HADDOCK FISHERIES GOM cod Commercial (%) Original ............................................................................................................. Revised ............................................................................................................ Sector Annual Catch Entitlements (ACE) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES At the start of the 2020 fishing year, we allocated stocks to each sector, based on the catch limits set by Frameworks 57 and 58. This rule updates the ACE allocated to sectors based on the catch limits approved in Framework 59, fishing year 2020 PSC, and final fishing year 2020 sector rosters. We calculate a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Recreational (%) 66.3 62.5 sector’s allocation for each stock by summing its members’ PSC for the stock and then multiplying that total percentage by the commercial sub-ACL for that stock. The process for allocating ACE to sectors is further described in the interim final rule allocating ACE to sectors for fishing year 2020 (85 FR 23229; April 27, 2020) and is not GOM haddock Commercial (%) 33.7 37.5 72.5 66.1 Recreational (%) 27.5 33.9 repeated here. Table 12 shows the cumulative PSC by stock for each sector for fishing year 2020. Tables 13 and 14 show the ACEs allocated to each sector for fishing year 2020, in pounds and metric tons, respectively. We have included the common pool sub-ACLs in tables 12 through 14 for comparison. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 ER30JY20.006</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 45800 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 45801 ER30JY20.007</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations VerDate Sep<11>2014 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 ER30JY20.008</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 45802 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations BILLING CODE 3510–22–C Default Catch Limits for Future Fishing Years Framework 53 established a mechanism for setting default catch limits in the event a future management action is delayed. If final catch limits have not been implemented by the start of a fishing year on May 1, then default catch limits are set at 35 percent of the previous year’s catch limit, effective until July 31 of that fishing year, or when replaced by new catch limits sooner than July 31. If this default value exceeds the Council’s recommendation for the upcoming fishing year, the default catch limits will be reduced to an amount equal to the Council’s recommendation for the upcoming fishing year. Because groundfish vessels are not able to fish if final catch limits have not been implemented, this default measure was established to prevent disruption to the groundfish fishery. Additional description of the default catch limit mechanism is provided in the preamble to the Framework 53 final rule (80 FR 25110; May 1, 2015). 4. Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial Authority The following corrections are being made using Magnuson-Stevens Act section 305(d) authority to ensure that FMPs or amendments are implemented in accordance with the MagnusonStevens Act. Authority To Change Gear Standard khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES In 2007, the Council recommended that the Regional Administrator implement gear performance standards that gear must meet before being considered for use in the Regular B DAS Program and the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP. On December 26, 2007, we published a final rule approving the Council’s recommended gear standards (72 FR 72965). In updating the regulations to reflect the new gear standards, the 2007 rule inadvertently removed the portion of the regulations that gave the Regional Administrator authority to approve additional gear standards, if recommended by the Council. This rulemaking revises the regulatory text to correctly reflect the Council’s original intent. Citation for Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measure The regulations regarding the windowpane flounder accountability measures include a process by which the AM may be reduced. The regulations implementing this provision include an incorrect citation to a paragraph that was moved to a new VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 location. This action corrects this citation. 5. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 59 Proposed Rule We received comments on the Framework 59 proposed rule from 37 members of the public, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, Maine Association of Charterboat Captains, the Northeast Seafood Coalition (NSC), the Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). Only comments that were applicable to the proposed measures are addressed below. Consolidated responses are provided to similar comments on the proposed measures. Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas Comment 1: FSF disagreed with a statement in the proposed rule that the Council may not set catch limits that would exceed the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee’s (SSC) recommendations for GB yellowtail flounder. FSF raises three specific concerns: That the Council is not held to the Magnuson-Stevens Act when setting catch limits for stocks with international agreements and therefore the Council is not held to the SSC’s recommendation for such stocks; that the International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act (IFACA) defines the Council’s responsibilities in setting catch limits for stocks under international agreement; and that neither the Council nor the SSC have the authority to establish law, through determination of catch limits, under Article II of the Constitution of the United States, Article II. Response 1: FSF raises concerns about the process that the Council used to set the U.S. share of the GB yellowtail specifications. We disagree with FSF’s first two claims about the applicability of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the IFACA. The Understanding is not a bilateral treaty or agreement, as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, rather it is a cooperative agreement intended to provide guidance in the form of harvest strategies to effectively manage three transboundary groundfish resources. The Council’s recommended catch limits are consistent with the TMGC’s advice, the Understanding, and IFACA. The IFACA expressly does not amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, including the Council mandate to not exceed catch limits recommended by its SSC and to set catch limits that prevent overfishing. This mandate is also reflected in the agency’s National Standard 2 guidelines PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 45803 at 50 CFR 600.315(c)(6). IFACA acknowledged the Understanding as an international agreement only for the purposes of providing flexibility in rebuilding requirements that would otherwise have been limited to a maximum of 10 years under MSA provisions. As such, IFACA provides flexibility in setting rebuilding plan catch limits and time periods for GB yellowtail flounder. Further, the Council’s terms of reference for the SSC’s ABC recommendation are consistent with the Understanding and IFACA. The Council requested that the SSC should, taking into consideration the Council’s Risk Policy Statement, determine an ABC that will prevent overfishing and meet the management objective to rebuild the stock. GB yellowtail flounder is currently under a 26-year rebuilding plan that expires in 2032. The ABCs for this stock are and have been based on this 26-year rebuilding plan, which was revised in 2012 under the provisions of IFACA. We disagree with FSF’s claim that the SSC unconstitutionally constrains the Executive’s authority to set domestic or international policy. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Council makes recommendations for catch limits and other fishery management measures. The Act requires the Council’s SSC to provide scientific advice for the Council to make those recommendations, in accordance with the terms of reference provided by the Council. The Secretary is authorized to approve Council actions that comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and applicable laws and will disapprove Council actions that are not consistent with law. Given the Council’s and Secretary’s roles and authorities defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, FSF provides no example of how the Council’s actions were unconstitutional by law or in practice in Framework 59’s development or implementation. While the Council may ask the SSC to reconsider its ABC recommendation when warranted, the Council cannot set an ABC higher than that ultimately recommended by its SSC, per the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, this provision does not apply to the Secretary of Commerce, who exercises his authority under the MagnusonStevens Act to approve or disapprove Council recommendations based on inconsistency with law, including National Standard 2’s best available science standard. While NMFS has deviated from the Council’s recommendation and developed separate rulemaking in emergency situations, such an approach is not warranted for 2020. E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 45804 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020– 2022 Comment 2: CLF opposed the ABCs set for GB cod and GOM cod. It stated that the management of cod has been, and continues to be, inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. CLF referenced a suite of measures that it requested NMFS implement through a Secretarial amendment and an emergency or interim action to immediately address CLF’s alleged cod rebuilding and protection failures. CLF stated that the best scientific information available confirms the continued overfished and overfishing status of cod. It stated that the proposed catch limits for GOM and GB cod do not end overfishing or rebuild the stocks, in part because the Council did not take into account scientific uncertainty in bycatch estimates due to bias in at-sea monitoring coverage that was discovered during the development of Amendment 23 to the groundfish plan. CLF urged NMFS to disapprove the catch limits for GOM and GB cod and remand the decision back to the Council for immediate reconsideration with recommendations that bring the Northeast Multispecies FMP into conformity with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Response 2: The approved 2020–2022 ABCs and ACLs are based on peerreviewed 2019 stock assessments and the recommendations of the Council’s SSC, consistent with the National Standard 2 requirement to use the best scientific information available. Further, the ABCs and ACLs were calculated to prevent overfishing while achieving optimum yield, as required by National Standard 1, and they are consistent with the current rebuilding programs. As explained in Appendix I to the EA, in recent years, the SSC has either used the default control rule for a groundfish stock or applied other approaches tailored to address particular elements of scientific uncertainty. The 2019 assessments for GOM cod cite the estimate of natural mortality, as well as stock structure and the veracity of fishery catch data, as important sources of uncertainty. For GB cod, the assessment stated that the major source of uncertainty for the stock assessment was the unknown cause of the retrospective pattern that led to the analytical assessment of this stock not being accepted for the 2015 operational assessment. The SSC considered this scientific uncertainty in setting catch advice for both cod stocks and used the Council’s ABC control rule in the absence of better information that would allow a more explicit determination of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 scientific uncertainty. In both cases, the SSC recommended a 3-year constant catch to help account for uncertainty in the catch projections that are often overly optimistic in the out years. Future stock growth is often projected to be higher than what is realized. As a result, the SSC’s ABC recommendations in many cases are lower than the estimated ABCs coming out of the model. Specific to GOM cod, CLF expressed concern about cod mortality in the American lobster fishery. CLF cited a study that published in March 2020 and therefore was not available for consideration for the 2019 stock assessments, during the SSC’s review and recommendation of ABCs, or for the Council’s development of and final action for Framework 59. Accordingly, it could not be used in setting fishing year 2020 specifications. The 2019 and prior assessments have not included catch of cod by trap gear in part due to the lack of discard sampling in pot gear and the very limited information on which to base hindcast cod discard estimates or the discard mortality rate for the gear. The goal of stock assessments is to account for the true removals from the population over the entire time series. Future management and research track assessments may consider any additional information on catch estimate accuracy, sources of catch, and estimates of natural mortality, as appropriate. For GB cod, the SSC considered whether to follow the previous groundfish updates, which used the output of the Plan B Smooth calculation as an OFL. Because the Plan B smooth model does not produce biological reference points, the majority of the SSC concluded that the OFL is unknown for this stock, and therefore recommended using the output to set the ABC, rather than the OFL. This is a similar approach that has been used for other groundfish stocks that use empirical models and do not have biological reference points. As explained in Appendix I to the EA, in recent years, the SSC has either used the default control rule for a groundfish stock or applied other approaches tailored to address particular elements of scientific uncertainty. One example of a tailored approach is the use of constant catch levels. The Council’s Groundfish Plan Development Team (PDT) used the outcomes of operational assessments to develop OFL and ABC alternatives for the SSC to consider using either the defined ABC control rule, approaches tailored for particular stocks in recent specification setting, or recommendations from the accepted peer reviewed stock assessments. The PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 SSC also developed new approaches for some stocks based on its evaluation of uncertainty and attributes of the available science. The SSC routinely uses a constant catch approach and has recommended formally adopting this approach as part of the SSC’s control rules. For the catch limits incorporated into Framework 59, the SSC considered scientific uncertainty, including the issue of how to account for cod discards and bycatch in the assessment, when they recommended the ABCs. This consideration did not include determining the level of at-sea monitoring coverage necessary to ensure catch accountability. Given the Groundfish PDT’s analyses of bias, earlier this year we determined that the level of at-sea monitoring coverage for the 2020 fishing year needed to be increased above the minimum coverage necessary to achieve a CV30. We set the coverage target level at 40 percent, which took into account the level of coverage that may be practicably provided and necessary to sufficiently ensure catch accountability for the 2020 fishing year. The level of at-sea monitoring coverage that is necessary on a permanent basis is being considered in Amendment 23 and is outside of the scope of this Framework. The catch limits implemented in this rule, based on the SSC’s recommendation, practicably mitigate economic impacts consistent with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements. Ignoring an alternative that meets conservation objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that could help mitigate some of the substantial economic impacts of recent groundfish management actions would not be consistent with National Standard. 8. Groundfish vessels catch cod along with other stocks in this multispecies fishery. As a result, a lower cod ABC could also jeopardize achieving optimum yield for the groundfish fishery by restricting the ability to fish for other species compared to the ABCs approved in this final rule. The catch limits implemented in this rule will replace the fishing year 2020 specifications set in previous frameworks for most groundfish stocks, including GOM and GB cod. For both stocks, the 2020 ABCs set were based on the 2017 assessments and at the time were the best scientific information available (BSIA). Framework 59 sets new ABCs based on the updated BSIA. Any delay in approving these specifications would leave in place higher and outdated ABCs for both of these stocks. E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Comment 3: A member of public commented in support of the proposed catch limits to allow for sustainable catch of groundfish species. Response 3: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, we have approved the catch limits as proposed. Comment 4: NSC commented on the adjustment to the recreational and commercial allocations of GOM cod and haddock. It raised concerns about the analysis of potential impacts to GOM cod of the increased proportion of quota allocated to the recreational fishery, and corresponding decrease to the commercial fishery, specifically sectors. It commented that the Council and NMFS did not take into account how the allocation adjustment will impact rebuilding efforts of GOM cod, impact stock assessments, or how the catch could be removed from areas otherwise closed to the commercial fishery to protect GOM cod. Response 4: As described in the preamble, Amendment 16 established the method for determining the commercial and recreational allocations of GOM cod and haddock based on the ratio of reported landing and discards using data from GARM III. The 2019 stock assessment used updated data, including updated commercial landings and discards, the incorporation of recreational discards, and MRIP recreational landings and discards, as revised following the transition from the telephone-based effort survey to the mail-based effort survey and the recalibration of recreational catch estimates from 1981 to the present. Framework 59 applies the same method approved in Amendment 16, as well as the same time period used to set allocations in Amendment 16, but with the revised data used in the 2019 assessments, to consistently use the best scientific information available. As stated in Amendment 16, ‘‘by allocating certain groundfish stocks to the commercial and recreational components of the fishery, the design of management measures can be tailored to the components that are responsible should mortality targets be exceeded.’’ The change in allocation between the commercial and recreational fisheries is not expected to have direct or indirect impacts on regulated groundfish species or other species because the total catch is constrained by the overall ACL. While not within the scope of Framework 59, the Council has annually consulted with NMFS regarding recreational management measures for GOM cod and haddock, including adjustments to fishing seasons, minimum fish sizes, and possession limits. Other measures that NSC VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 references, such as changes to the recreational fishery’s monitoring and reporting, would require Council action. Similarly, the Council is required to adjust the management uncertainty buffers for each component of the fishery. The PDT reviews the buffers in each specifications action, and there was no information to suggest that a change to the current 7-percent buffer for the recreational fishery’s quotas for GOM cod and haddock was needed. Comment 5: Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, Maine Association of Charterboat Captains, Recreational Fishing Alliance, and 36 members of the public commented in support of the adjustment to the recreational and commercial allocations for GOM cod and haddock, because the reallocation better reflects the complete data that should have been used when the original allocations were developed, such as the inclusion of discards by the recreational fishery in the totals of recreational catch. Response 5: We agree, and approve the adjusted allocation for these two stocks as proposed, for the reasons discussed in the preamble. Comment 6: Multiple commenters also recommended that NMFS consider increasing the GOM cod and/or haddock limits and expanding the open seasons. Response 6: Such possible changes to recreational measures are outside the scope of Framework 59, and will be addressed in a separate action. At its June 2020 Council meeting, the Council updated its recommendation for recreational measures for the 2020 fishing year, to account for lower effort in the spring. Comment 7: Several commenters also requested that the Council and NMFS take action to allow in-season changes to recreational measures, such as opening of closed months and increasing bag limits if in-season catch data showed that such changes were warranted. Response 7: The Council did not discuss or recommend such changes to NMFS authority, and therefore this was not considered as part of Framework 59. 6. Changes From the Proposed Rule The proposed rule included sector and common pool sub-ACLs based on fishing year 2020 PSCs and final fishing year 2020 sector rosters, but did not include the PSCs and ACEs allocated to each sector. This rule includes this information at the sector level. In the regulatory text, the proposed rule included the text at 50 CFR 648.85(b)(5)(ii), which includes a reference to paragraph (b)(8). This PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 45805 citation has been updated to correctly refer to paragraph (b)(7). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this action is not significant under Executive Order 12866. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness of this action. This action relies on the best available science to set 2020 catch limits for groundfish stocks and adopts several other measures to improve the management of the groundfish fishery. This final rule must be in effect as early in fishing year 2020 as possible to capture fully the conservation and economic benefits of Framework 59 and avoid adverse economic impacts. This rulemaking incorporates information from updated stock assessments from 15 of the 20 groundfish stocks. The development of Framework 59 was timed to incorporate the results of the 2019 groundfish stock assessments, for which the prepublication copy was available in October 2019. In December 2020, the Council took final action on Framework 59, but remanded the OFL and ABC recommendations for four stocks to the Council’s SSC for further review. The SSC provided its revised recommendations for these four stocks at the January 2020 Council meeting. The formal submission of the framework to NMFS occurred on April 10, 2020. Given the timing of the Council process, the earliest we were able to publish a proposed rule for Framework 59 was on May 29, 2020. A delay in implementation of this rule increases negative economic effects for regulated entities. The eastern portions of the GB cod and haddock stocks, jointly managed with Canada, did not have a 2020 quota set by a previous framework. A separate action implemented a constraining default quota (35 percent of the 2019 quota) for Eastern GB cod and haddock that will be in effect only through July 31, 2020, unless we implement Framework 59 before that date. After July 31, the default quotas expire, at which point vessels would be prohibited from E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 45806 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations fishing in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area until Framework 59 is effective. The default quotas are constraining the fishery in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. The majority of fishing in that region occurs during summer primarily due to the seasonal geographic distribution of the stocks jointly managed with Canada. Providing timely access to these stocks is also a safety issue. Summer weather is generally safer for fishing in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area (approximately 150–200 miles offshore). The allocation changes for GOM haddock and GOM cod in this action would allow for increases in the recreational possession limits for both stocks through a separate, concurrent rulemaking. A delay in this action would delay setting recreational measures for the 2020 fishing year and the economic benefits that these measures would provide. Additionally, recreational fishermen book fishing trips months in advance for the upcoming fishing year. Thus, delays in finalizing recreational measures result in additional negative impacts on the recreational fishing industry due to uncertainty and the inability to book trips. The 30-day delay in implementation for this rule is unnecessary because this rule contains no new measures (e.g., requiring new nets or equipment) for which regulated entities need time to prepare or revise their current practices. Fishermen who are subject to this action expect and need timely implementation to allow for planning and to avoid adverse economic impacts. This action is similar to the process used to set quotas every 1–2 years, approves all items as proposed, and contains only quotas and minor adjustments to the management plan that were discussed at multiple noticed meetings where the public was provided opportunity to learn about the action, ask questions, and provide input into the development of the measures. Affected parties and other interested parties participated in this public process to develop this action and expect implementation as close to the beginning of the fishing year on May 1 as possible. Overall, a delay in implementation of this action would greatly diminish any benefits of these specifications and other approved measures. For these reasons, a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this rule is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 604, requires Federal agencies to prepare a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for each final rule. The FRFA describes the economic impact of this action on small entities. The FRFA includes a summary of significant issues raised by public comments, the analyses contained in Framework 59 and its accompanying Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/ Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), the IRFA summary in the proposed rule, as well as the summary provided below. A statement of the necessity for and for the objectives of this action are contained in Framework 59 and in the preamble to this final rule, and is not repeated here. 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 There were no comments directly related to the IRFA; the Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not file any comments. Therefore, no changes to the proposed rule measures were necessary. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply The final rule impacts the recreational groundfish, Atlantic sea scallop, smallmesh multispecies, Atlantic herring, and large-mesh non-groundfish fisheries. Individually-permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different FMPs, even beyond those affected by the proposed action. Furthermore, multiplepermitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic dependency. For the purposes of the RFA analysis, the ownership entities, not the individual vessels, are considered to be the regulated entities. As of June 1, 2019, NMFS had issued 801 commercial limited-access groundfish permits associated with vessels (including those in confirmation of permit history), 589 party/charter groundfish permits, 730 limited access and general category Atlantic sea scallop permits, 716 small mesh multispecies permits, 78 Atlantic herring permits, and 834 large-mesh non-groundfish permits (limited access summer flounder and scup permits). Therefore, 3,748 permits are potentially regulated by this action. When PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 accounting for overlap between fisheries, this number falls to 2,177 permitted vessels. Each vessel may be individually owned or part of a larger corporate ownership structure, and for RFA purposes it is the ownership entity that is ultimately regulated by the proposed action. Ownership entities are identified on June 1st of each year based on the list of all permit numbers, for the most recent complete calendar year, that have applied for any type of Northeast Federal fishing permit. The current ownership data set is based on calendar year 2018 permits and contains gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2016 through 2018. 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. The determination as to whether the entity is large or small is based on the average annual revenue for the three years from 2016 through 2018. The SBA has established size standards for all other major industry sectors in the U.S., including for-hire fishing (NAICS code 487210). These entities are classified as small businesses if combined annual receipts are not in excess of $8.0 million for all its affiliated operations. As with commercial fishing businesses, the annual average of the three most recent years (2016–2018) is utilized in determining annual receipts for businesses primarily engaged in for-hire fishing. Ownership data collected from permit holders indicate that there are 1,670 distinct business entities that hold at least one permit regulated by the proposed action. All 1,670 business entities identified could be directly regulated by this proposed action. Of these 1,670 entities, 1,010 are commercial fishing entities, 305 are forhire entities, and 355 did not have revenues (were inactive in 2018). Of the 1,010 commercial fishing entities, 998 are categorized as small entities and 12 are categorized as large entities per the NMFS guidelines. All 305 for-hire entities are categorized as small businesses. E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 147 / Thursday, July 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements The action does not contain any new collection-of-information requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). 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 The economic impacts of each measure are discussed in more detail in sections 6.5 and 7.12 of the Framework 59 EA and are not repeated here. The economic impacts of this action are predicted to generate $70.1 million in gross revenues on the sector portion of the commercial groundfish trips, $4.8 million more than No Action. Fisherywide operating profits are predicted to be $3.7 million more than No Action. Therefore, there are no alternatives that would have lower economic impacts. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Small Entity Compliance Guide 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 will publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and will designate such publications as ‘‘small entity compliance guides.’’ The agency will 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 a 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 Northeast multispecies fishery email list, as well as the email lists for scallop and herring fisheries, which receive an allocation of some groundfish stocks. The final rule and the guide are available from NMFS at the following website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ management-plan/northeastmultispecies-management-plan. 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Jul 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 Dated: July 23, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons stated 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. Section 648.85 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(5)(ii) and adding (b)(6)(iv)(J)(2)(iii) to read as follows: ■ § 648.85 Special management programs. * * * * (b) * * * (5) * * * (ii) GB cod. The Incidental Catch TAC for GB cod specified in this paragraph (b)(5) shall be subdivided as follows: 60 percent to the Regular B DAS Program described in paragraph (b)(6) of this section and 40 percent to the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP described in paragraph (b)(7) of this section. (6) * * * (iv) * * * (J) * * * (2) * * * (iii) The Council may recommend to the Regional Administrator an addition or modification to the gear standards specified in paragraph (b)(6)(iv)(J)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section, and the Regional Administrator may approve the Council’s recommendation in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. If the Regional Administrator does not approve an addition or modification to the gear standards as recommended by the Council, NMFS must provide a written rationale to the Council regarding its decision not to do so. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.90, revise paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E)(5) to read as follows: 45807 Council, is greater than the most recent fishing year’s catch, then only the small AM may be implemented as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E), consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. This provision applies to a limited access NE multispecies permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, and to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend mesh size equal to or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, non-specified subcomponents of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting exempted species specified in § 648.80(b)(3). * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–16424 Filed 7–28–20; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P * § 648.90 NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and specifications, and flexible area action system. * * * * * (a) * * * (5) * * * (i) * * * (E) * * * (5) Reducing the size of an AM. If the overall northern or southern windowpane flounder ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent and NMFS determines that the stock is rebuilt, and the biomass criterion, as defined by the PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 200227–0066]RTID 0648–XA326 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; ‘‘Other Rockfish’’ in the Aleutian Islands Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting retention of ‘‘other rockfish’’ in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary because the 2020 ‘‘other rockfish’’ total allowable catch (TAC) in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI has been reached. SUMMARY: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), July 28, 2020, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP DATES: E:\FR\FM\30JYR1.SGM 30JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 147 (Thursday, July 30, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 45794-45807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-16424]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 200723-0199]
RIN 0648-BJ12


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 59

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This action approves and implements Framework Adjustment 59 to 
the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule sets or 
adjusts catch limits for 19 of the 20 multispecies (groundfish) stocks 
and makes minor changes to groundfish management measures. This action 
is necessary to respond to updated scientific information and to 
achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The 
final measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild 
overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management 
measures are based on the best scientific information available.

DATES: Effective July 28, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Framework Adjustment 59, including the 
Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery 
Management Council in support of this action are available 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: http://www.nefmc.org/management-plans/northeast-multispecies or http://www.regulations.gov.
    Copies of the small entity compliance guide are available from 
Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930-2298, or available on the internet at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/management-plan/northeast-multispecies-management-plan.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Sullivan, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
phone: 978-282-8493; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

1. Summary of Approved Measures
2. Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas
3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020-2022
4. Regulatory Corrections under Secretarial Authority
5. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 59 
Proposed Rule
6. Changes from the Proposed Rule

1. Summary of Approved Measures

    This action approves the management measures in Framework 
Adjustment 59

[[Page 45795]]

to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The 
measures implemented in this final rule:
     Set fishing year 2020 shared U.S./Canada quotas for 
Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder and Eastern GB cod and haddock;
     Set 2020-2022 specifications, including catch limits, for 
15 groundfish stocks;
     Adjust 2020 allocations for four groundfish stocks: Gulf 
of Maine (GOM) winter flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/
MA) winter flounder, redfish, and ocean pout;
     Address commercial/recreational allocation issues raised 
by new Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) data; and
     Revise the GB cod Incidental Catch total allowable catch 
(TAC) to remove the allocation to the Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock 
Special Access Program (SAP).
    This action also implements regulatory corrections that are not 
part of Framework 59, but that are implemented under our section 305(d) 
authority in the Magnuson-Stevens Act to make changes necessary to 
carry out the FMP. We are implementing these corrections in conjunction 
with the Framework 59 measures for expediency purposes. We describe 
these corrections in Section 4, Regulatory Corrections under 
Secretarial Authority.

2. Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas

Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks

    As described in the proposed rule (85 FR 32347; May 29, 2020), 
Eastern GB cod, Eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are 
jointly managed with Canada under the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing 
Understanding. This action adopts shared U.S./Canada quotas for these 
stocks for fishing year 2020 based on 2019 assessments and the 
recommendations of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee 
(TMGC). The 2020 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country's 
allocation, are listed in Table 1. Detailed summaries of the 
assessments can be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/international-affairs/population-dynamics-international-collaboration.

 Table 1--2020 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Quotas (mt, live weight) and Percent of Quota Allocated to Each Country
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Eastern GB       GB yellowtail
                           Quota                             Eastern GB cod        haddock          flounder
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Shared Quota........................................               650            30,000               162
U.S. Quota................................................       188.5 (29%)      16,200 (54%)         120 (74%)
Canadian Quota............................................       461.5 (71%)      13,800 (46%)          42 (26%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing 
Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for 
Eastern GB cod, Eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the 
U.S. quota in the following fishing year. Based on preliminary data 
through July 9, 2020, the U.S. fishery did not exceed its 2019 fishing 
year quota for any of the shared stocks. However, if final catch 
accounting for the 2019 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery 
exceeded its quota for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the 
respective U.S. quotas for the 2020 fishing year in an adjustment 
action, as soon as possible in the 2020 fishing year. If any fishery 
that is allocated a portion of the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation 
and causes an overage of the overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction 
would be applied only to that fishery's allocation in the following 
fishing year. This ensures that catch by one component of the overall 
fishery does not negatively affect another component of the overall 
fishery.

3. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020-2022

Summary of the Catch Limits

    This rule adopts new catch limits for 14 groundfish stocks for the 
2020-2022 fishing years based on stock assessments completed in 2019, 
and fishing year 2020-2021 specifications for GB yellowtail flounder. 
Framework 57 (83 FR 18985; May 1, 2018) previously set 2020 quotas for 
the five groundfish stocks not assessed in 2019 (GOM winter flounder, 
SNE/MA winter flounder, redfish, ocean pout, and Atlantic wolffish), 
based on assessments conducted in 2017. This action includes minor 
adjustments for four of these stocks (excluding Atlantic wolffish) for 
fishing year 2020. The catch limits implemented in this action, 
including overfishing limits (OFL), acceptable biological catches 
(ABC), and annual catch limits (ACL), are listed in Tables 2 through 
10. A summary of how these catch limits were developed, including the 
distribution to the various fishery components, was provided in the 
proposed rule and in Appendix II (Calculation of Northeast Multispecies 
Annual Catch Limits, FY 2020-FY 2022) to the Framework 59 Environmental 
Assessment (EA) (see ADDRESSES for information on how to get this 
document), and is not repeated here. The sector and common pool sub-
ACLs implemented in this action are based on fishing year 2020 
potential sector contributions (PSC) and final fishing year 2020 sector 
rosters.

Recreational Allocations

    Amendment 16 to the FMP (75 FR 18262; April 9, 2010) established 
the method for determining the original commercial and recreational 
allocations of GOM cod and haddock based on the ratio of reported 
landings (for commercial and recreational) and discards (commercial 
only) for the time period 2001-2006 using data from the Groundfish 
Assessment Review Meeting III (GARM III). The 2019 stock assessments 
used updated data to assess groundfish stocks including GOM cod and 
haddock. The proposed rule included an explanation of the data changes 
incorporated into the 2019 stock assessments and is not repeated here.
    Framework 59, applying the same method approved in Amendment 16 but 
with the revised data for the same time period of 2001-2006, approves a 
revised recreational allocation of 37.5 percent for GOM cod and 33.9 
percent for GOM haddock. The remaining portion of the ABC (62.5 percent 
for GOM cod, 66.1 percent for GOM haddock) is allocated to the 
commercial fisheries, which include the Federal commercial groundfish 
fishery, state commercial fishery, and other Federal fisheries. Table 
11 shows the original and revised split in allocations as a percentage 
for

[[Page 45796]]

the commercial and recreational fisheries for GOM cod and haddock.

Closed Area I Hook Gear Haddock SAP

    Framework 59 removes the portion of the Incidental Catch Total 
Allowable Catch (TAC) for GB cod that is allocated to the Closed Area I 
Hook Gear Haddock SAP. The allocation of the GB cod Incidental Catch 
TAC remains for the Regular B Days-at-Sea Program and the Eastern U.S./
Canada Haddock SAP (Table 8).

              Table 2--Fishing Years 2020-2022 Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catches
                                                [Mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             2020           Percent           2021                  2022
               Stock                ----------------------   change  -------------------------------------------
                                        OFL      U.S. ABC  from 2019     OFL      U.S. ABC     OFL      U.S. ABC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.............................        UNK      1,291        -29        UNK      1,291        UNK      1,291
GOM Cod............................        724        552        -21        929        552      1,150        552
GB Haddock.........................    184,822    131,567        126    116,883     76,537    114,925     75,056
GOM Haddock........................     25,334     19,696         58     21,521     16,794     14,834     11,526
GB Yellowtail Flounder.............        UNK        120         13        UNK        120
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder.........         31         22        -68         71         22        184         22
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder.........      1,136        823         61      1,076        823      1,116        823
American Plaice....................      4,084      3,155         96      3,740      2,881      3,687      2,825
Witch Flounder.....................        UNK      1,483         49        UNK      1,483        UNK      1,483
GB Winter Flounder.................        790        561        -31        944        561      1,590        561
GOM Winter Flounder *..............        596        447          0
SNE/MA Winter Flounder *...........      1,228        727          0
Redfish *..........................     15,852     11,942          1
White Hake.........................      2,857      2,147        -27      2,906      2,147      2,986      2,147
Pollock............................     35,358     27,447        -32     28,475     22,062     21,744     16,812
N. Windowpane Flounder.............         84         59        -36         84         59         84         59
S. Windowpane Flounder.............        568        426        -10        568        426        568        426
Ocean Pout *.......................        169        127          0
Atlantic Halibut...................        UNK        106          2        UNK        106          0        106
Atlantic Wolffish *................        120         90          0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CC = Cape Cod; N = Northern; S = Southern; UNK = Unknown.
* The GOM winter flounder, SNE/MA winter flounder, redfish, ocean pout, and Atlantic wolffish stocks have U.S.
  ABCs previously approved in Framework 57, based on the 2017 assessments. All other stocks' proposed ABCs based
  on the 2019 assessments.
Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits would be set in a future
  action.


                                                     Table 3--Catch Limits for the 2020 Fishing Year
                                                                    [Mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Common                   Midwater                 Small-       State
            Stock              Total  ACL   Groundfish  Sector sub- pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl      Scallop      mesh     waters sub- Other sub-
                                             sub-ACL        ACL         ACL        sub-ACL      fishery     fishery    fisheries   component   component
                                   A to H    A + B + C           A           B             C           D           E           F           G           H
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................       1,234        1,073       1,041          31  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          19         142
GOM Cod......................         523          468         267           9           193  ..........  ..........  ..........          48           7
GB Haddock...................     124,969      121,864     119,410       2,454  ............       2,447  ..........  ..........           0         658
GOM Haddock..................      18,580       18,267      11,754         303         6,210         183  ..........  ..........          65          65
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......         116           95          92           3  ............  ..........        18.6         2.2         0.0         0.0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...          21           15          12           3  ............  ..........           2  ..........           0           4
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...         787          688         656          32  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          58          41
American Plaice..............       3,000        2,937       2,859          78  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          32          32
Witch Flounder...............       1,414        1,310       1,275          35  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          44          59
GB Winter Flounder...........         545          522         502          21  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........           0          22
GOM Winter Flounder..........         432          287         272          14  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........         139           7
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......         699          539         475          63  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          36         124
Redfish......................      11,351       11,231      11,085         147  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          60          60
White Hake...................       2,041        2,019       1,995          24  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          11          11
Pollock......................      26,184       23,989      23,752         236  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........       1,098       1,098
N. Windowpane Flounder.......          55           38          na          38  ............  ..........          12  ..........           1           5
S. Windowpane Flounder.......         412           48          na          48  ............  ..........         143  ..........          26         196
Ocean Pout...................         120           92          na          92  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........           1          27
Atlantic Halibut.............         102           77          na          77  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          21           4
Atlantic Wolffish............          84           82          na          82  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........           1           1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.


[[Page 45797]]


                                                     Table 4--Catch Limits for the 2021 Fishing Year
                                                                    [Mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Common                   Midwater                 Small-       State
            Stock              Total  ACL   Groundfish  Sector sub- pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl      Scallop      mesh     waters sub- Other sub-
                                             sub-ACL        ACL         ACL        sub-ACL      fishery     fishery    fisheries   component   component
                                   A to H    A + B + C           A           B             C           D           E           F           G           H
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................       1,234        1,073       1,041          31  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          19         142
GOM Cod......................         523          468         267           9           193  ..........  ..........  ..........          48           7
GB Haddock...................      72,699       70,892      69,465       1,428  ............       1,424  ..........  ..........           0         383
GOM Haddock..................      15,843       15,575      10,022         258         5,295         156  ..........  ..........          56          56
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......         116           95          92           3  ............  ..........          19           2           0           0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...          21           15          12           3  ............  ..........           2  ..........           0           4
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...         787          688         656          32  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          58          41
American Plaice..............       2,740        2,682       2,611          71  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          29          29
Witch Flounder...............       1,414        1,310       1,275          35  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          44          59
GB Winter Flounder...........         545          522         502          21  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........           0          22
GOM Winter Flounder *........  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
SNE/MA Winter Flounder *.....  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
Redfish *....................  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
White Hake...................       2,041        2,019       1,995          24  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          11          11
Pollock......................      21,047       19,282      19,092         190  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........         882         882
N. Windowpane Flounder.......          55           38          na          38  ............  ..........          12  ..........           1           5
S. Windowpane Flounder.......         412           48          na          48  ............  ..........         143  ..........          26         196
Ocean Pout *.................  ..........  ...........  ..........  ..........  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
Atlantic Halibut.............         102           77          na          77  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          21           4
Atlantic Wolffish*...........  ..........  ...........  ..........  ..........  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.
* These stocks only have an allocation for fishing year 2020, previously approved in Framework 57.


                                                     Table 5--Catch Limits for the 2022 Fishing Year
                                                                    [Mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Common                   Midwater                 Small-       State
            Stock               Total ACL   Groundfish  Sector sub- pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl      Scallop      mesh     waters sub- Other sub-
                                             sub-ACL        ACL         ACL        sub-ACL      fishery     fishery    fisheries   component   component
                                   A to H    A + B + C           A           B             C           D           E           F           G           H
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................       1,234        1,073       1,041          31  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          19         142
GOM Cod......................         523          468         267           9           193  ..........  ..........  ..........          48           7
GB Haddock...................      71,292       69,521      68,120       1,400  ............       1,396  ..........  ..........           0         375
GOM Haddock..................      10,873       10,690       6,879         177         3,634         107  ..........  ..........          38          38
GB Yellowtail Flounder **....  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...          21           15          13           3  ............  ..........           2  ..........           0           4
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...         787          688         656          32  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          58          41
American Plaice..............       2,687        2,630       2,560          70  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          28          28
Witch Flounder...............       1,414        1,310       1,275          35  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          44          59
GB Winter Flounder...........         545          522         502          21  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........           0          22
GOM Winter Flounder *........  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
SNE/MA Winter Flounder *.....  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
Redfish *....................  ..........  ...........           0           0  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
White Hake...................       2,041        2,019       1,995          24  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          11          11
Pollock......................      16,039       14,694      14,549         145  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........         672         672
N. Windowpane Flounder.......          55           38          na          38  ............  ..........          12  ..........           1           5
S. Windowpane Flounder.......         412           48          na          48  ............  ..........         143  ..........          26         196
Ocean Pout *.................  ..........  ...........  ..........  ..........  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
Atlantic Halibut.............         102           77          na          77  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........          21           4
Atlantic Wolffish *..........  ..........  ...........  ..........  ..........  ............  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........  ..........
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.
* These stocks only have an allocation for fishing year 2020, previously approved in Framework 57.
** Framework 59 sets allocations for GB yellowtail flounder for fishing years 2020 and 2021 only.


                                               Table 6--Fishing Years 2020-2022 Common Pool Trimester TACs
                                                                    [Mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      2020                                   2021                                   2022
               Stock                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3  Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3  Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.............................          8.8         10.7         11.9          8.8         10.7         11.9          8.8         10.7         11.9
GOM Cod............................          4.3          2.9          1.6          4.3          2.9          1.6          4.3          2.9          1.6
GB Haddock.........................        662.7        810.0        981.8        385.5        471.2        571.1        378.1        462.1        560.1
GOM Haddock........................         81.8         78.8        142.4         69.8         67.2        121.5         47.9         46.1         83.4

[[Page 45798]]

 
GB Yellowtail Flounder.............          0.6          1.0          1.7          0.6          1.0          1.7  ...........  ...........  ...........
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder.........          0.6          0.8          1.5          0.6          0.8          1.5          0.6          0.8          1.5
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder.........         18.0          8.2          5.4         18.0          8.2          5.4         18.0          8.2          5.4
American Plaice....................         57.6          6.2         14.0         52.6          5.7         12.8         51.6          5.6         12.6
Witch Flounder.....................         19.5          7.1          8.9         19.5          7.1          8.9         19.5          7.1          8.9
GB Winter Flounder.................          1.7          5.0         14.2          1.7          5.0         14.2          1.7          5.0         14.2
GOM Winter Flounder................          5.4          5.5          3.6  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
Redfish............................         36.7         45.5         64.6  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
White Hake.........................          9.3          7.6          7.6          9.3          7.6          7.6          9.3          7.6          7.6
Pollock............................         66.2         82.7         87.5         53.2         66.5         70.3         40.5         50.7         53.6
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 7--Common Pool Incidental Catch TACs for the 2020-2022 Fishing Years
                                                [Mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Percentage of
                      Stock                         common pool        2020            2021            2022
                                                      sub-ACL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................            1.68            0.53            0.53            0.53
GOM Cod.........................................               1            0.09            0.09            0.09
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........................               2            0.07            0.07  ..............
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder......................               1            0.32            0.32            0.32
American Plaice.................................               5            3.89            3.56            3.49
Witch Flounder..................................               5            1.77            1.77            1.77
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........................               1            0.63  ..............  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


           Table 8--Percentage of Incidental Catch TACs Distributed to Each Special Management Program
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Closed Area I
                                                                  Regular B  DAS     hook gear    Eastern  U.S./
                              Stock                                 program (%)     haddock SAP     CA  haddock
                                                                                        (%)           SAP (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................................              60               0              40
GOM Cod.........................................................             100             n/a             n/a
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........................................              50             n/a              50
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder......................................             100             n/a             n/a
American Plaice.................................................             100             n/a             n/a
Witch Flounder..................................................             100             n/a             n/a
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........................................             100             n/a             n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


           Table 9--Fishing Years 2020-2022 Incidental Catch TACs for Each Special Management Program
                                                [Mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Regular B DAS  program       Closed Area I    Eastern U.S./Canada  haddock
                               ---------------------------------    hook gear                  SAP
             Stock                                                 haddock SAP  --------------------------------
                                   2020       2021       2022   ----------------
                                                                    2020-2022       2020       2021       2022
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod........................       0.32       0.32       0.32             0.0       0.21       0.21       0.21
GOM Cod.......................       0.09       0.09       0.09             n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
GB Yellowtail Flounder........       0.03       0.03  .........             n/a       0.03       0.03  .........
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder....       0.32       0.32       0.32             n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
American Plaice...............       3.89       3.56       3.49             n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
Witch Flounder................       1.77       1.77       1.77             n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
SNE/MA Winter Flounder........       0.63  .........  .........             n/a        n/a        n/a        n/a
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                     Table 10--Fishing Years 2020-2022 Regular B DAS Program Quarterly Incidental Catch TACs
                                                                                        [Mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 2020                                        2021                                        2022
                                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Stock                                1st        2nd        3rd        4th        1st        2nd        3rd        4th        1st        2nd        3rd        4th
                                                               quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter    quarter
                                                                (13%)      (29%)      (29%)      (29%)      (13%)      (29%)      (29%)      (29%)      (13%)      (29%)      (29%)      (29%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod......................................................       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09
GOM Cod.....................................................       0.01       0.03       0.03       0.03       0.01       0.03       0.03       0.03       0.01       0.03       0.03       0.03

[[Page 45799]]

 
GB Yellowtail Flounder......................................      0.004      0.010      0.010      0.010       0.00       0.01       0.01       0.01  .........  .........  .........  .........
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..................................       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09       0.04       0.09       0.09       0.09
American Plaice.............................................       0.51       1.13       1.13       1.13       0.46       1.03       1.03       1.03       0.45       1.01       1.01       1.01
Witch Flounder..............................................       0.23       0.51       0.51       0.51       0.23       0.51       0.51       0.51       0.23       0.51       0.51       0.51
SNE/MA Winter Flounder......................................       0.08       0.18       0.18       0.18  .........  .........  .........  .........  .........  .........  .........  .........
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Table 11--Original and Revised Allocations, by Percentage, for Commercial and Recreational Gulf of Maine Cod and
                                                Haddock Fisheries
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              GOM cod                       GOM haddock
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Recreational                    Recreational
                                                  Commercial (%)        (%)       Commercial (%)        (%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Original........................................            66.3            33.7            72.5            27.5
Revised.........................................            62.5            37.5            66.1            33.9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sector Annual Catch Entitlements (ACE)

    At the start of the 2020 fishing year, we allocated stocks to each 
sector, based on the catch limits set by Frameworks 57 and 58. This 
rule updates the ACE allocated to sectors based on the catch limits 
approved in Framework 59, fishing year 2020 PSC, and final fishing year 
2020 sector rosters. We calculate a sector's allocation for each stock 
by summing its members' PSC for the stock and then multiplying that 
total percentage by the commercial sub-ACL for that stock. The process 
for allocating ACE to sectors is further described in the interim final 
rule allocating ACE to sectors for fishing year 2020 (85 FR 23229; 
April 27, 2020) and is not repeated here. Table 12 shows the cumulative 
PSC by stock for each sector for fishing year 2020. Tables 13 and 14 
show the ACEs allocated to each sector for fishing year 2020, in pounds 
and metric tons, respectively. We have included the common pool sub-
ACLs in tables 12 through 14 for comparison.
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Default Catch Limits for Future Fishing Years

    Framework 53 established a mechanism for setting default catch 
limits in the event a future management action is delayed. If final 
catch limits have not been implemented by the start of a fishing year 
on May 1, then default catch limits are set at 35 percent of the 
previous year's catch limit, effective until July 31 of that fishing 
year, or when replaced by new catch limits sooner than July 31. If this 
default value exceeds the Council's recommendation for the upcoming 
fishing year, the default catch limits will be reduced to an amount 
equal to the Council's recommendation for the upcoming fishing year. 
Because groundfish vessels are not able to fish if final catch limits 
have not been implemented, this default measure was established to 
prevent disruption to the groundfish fishery. Additional description of 
the default catch limit mechanism is provided in the preamble to the 
Framework 53 final rule (80 FR 25110; May 1, 2015).

4. Regulatory Corrections Under Secretarial Authority

    The following corrections are being made using Magnuson-Stevens Act 
section 305(d) authority to ensure that FMPs or amendments are 
implemented in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Authority To Change Gear Standard

    In 2007, the Council recommended that the Regional Administrator 
implement gear performance standards that gear must meet before being 
considered for use in the Regular B DAS Program and the Eastern U.S./
Canada Haddock SAP. On December 26, 2007, we published a final rule 
approving the Council's recommended gear standards (72 FR 72965). In 
updating the regulations to reflect the new gear standards, the 2007 
rule inadvertently removed the portion of the regulations that gave the 
Regional Administrator authority to approve additional gear standards, 
if recommended by the Council. This rulemaking revises the regulatory 
text to correctly reflect the Council's original intent.

Citation for Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measure

    The regulations regarding the windowpane flounder accountability 
measures include a process by which the AM may be reduced. The 
regulations implementing this provision include an incorrect citation 
to a paragraph that was moved to a new location. This action corrects 
this citation.

5. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 59 
Proposed Rule

    We received comments on the Framework 59 proposed rule from 37 
members of the public, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Stellwagen 
Bank Charter Boat Association, Maine Association of Charterboat 
Captains, the Northeast Seafood Coalition (NSC), the Fisheries Survival 
Fund (FSF), and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). Only comments 
that were applicable to the proposed measures are addressed below. 
Consolidated responses are provided to similar comments on the proposed 
measures.

Fishing Year 2020 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas

    Comment 1: FSF disagreed with a statement in the proposed rule that 
the Council may not set catch limits that would exceed the Council's 
Scientific and Statistical Committee's (SSC) recommendations for GB 
yellowtail flounder. FSF raises three specific concerns: That the 
Council is not held to the Magnuson-Stevens Act when setting catch 
limits for stocks with international agreements and therefore the 
Council is not held to the SSC's recommendation for such stocks; that 
the International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act (IFACA) defines 
the Council's responsibilities in setting catch limits for stocks under 
international agreement; and that neither the Council nor the SSC have 
the authority to establish law, through determination of catch limits, 
under Article II of the Constitution of the United States, Article II.
    Response 1: FSF raises concerns about the process that the Council 
used to set the U.S. share of the GB yellowtail specifications. We 
disagree with FSF's first two claims about the applicability of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and the IFACA. The Understanding is not a 
bilateral treaty or agreement, as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
rather it is a cooperative agreement intended to provide guidance in 
the form of harvest strategies to effectively manage three 
transboundary groundfish resources. The Council's recommended catch 
limits are consistent with the TMGC's advice, the Understanding, and 
IFACA. The IFACA expressly does not amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
including the Council mandate to not exceed catch limits recommended by 
its SSC and to set catch limits that prevent overfishing. This mandate 
is also reflected in the agency's National Standard 2 guidelines at 50 
CFR 600.315(c)(6). IFACA acknowledged the Understanding as an 
international agreement only for the purposes of providing flexibility 
in rebuilding requirements that would otherwise have been limited to a 
maximum of 10 years under MSA provisions. As such, IFACA provides 
flexibility in setting rebuilding plan catch limits and time periods 
for GB yellowtail flounder. Further, the Council's terms of reference 
for the SSC's ABC recommendation are consistent with the Understanding 
and IFACA. The Council requested that the SSC should, taking into 
consideration the Council's Risk Policy Statement, determine an ABC 
that will prevent overfishing and meet the management objective to 
rebuild the stock. GB yellowtail flounder is currently under a 26-year 
rebuilding plan that expires in 2032. The ABCs for this stock are and 
have been based on this 26-year rebuilding plan, which was revised in 
2012 under the provisions of IFACA.
    We disagree with FSF's claim that the SSC unconstitutionally 
constrains the Executive's authority to set domestic or international 
policy. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Council makes 
recommendations for catch limits and other fishery management measures. 
The Act requires the Council's SSC to provide scientific advice for the 
Council to make those recommendations, in accordance with the terms of 
reference provided by the Council. The Secretary is authorized to 
approve Council actions that comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
applicable laws and will disapprove Council actions that are not 
consistent with law. Given the Council's and Secretary's roles and 
authorities defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, FSF provides no 
example of how the Council's actions were unconstitutional by law or in 
practice in Framework 59's development or implementation.
    While the Council may ask the SSC to reconsider its ABC 
recommendation when warranted, the Council cannot set an ABC higher 
than that ultimately recommended by its SSC, per the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. However, this provision does not apply to the Secretary of 
Commerce, who exercises his authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to 
approve or disapprove Council recommendations based on inconsistency 
with law, including National Standard 2's best available science 
standard. While NMFS has deviated from the Council's recommendation and 
developed separate rulemaking in emergency situations, such an approach 
is not warranted for 2020.

[[Page 45804]]

Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2020-2022

    Comment 2: CLF opposed the ABCs set for GB cod and GOM cod. It 
stated that the management of cod has been, and continues to be, 
inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. CLF referenced a suite of 
measures that it requested NMFS implement through a Secretarial 
amendment and an emergency or interim action to immediately address 
CLF's alleged cod rebuilding and protection failures. CLF stated that 
the best scientific information available confirms the continued 
overfished and overfishing status of cod. It stated that the proposed 
catch limits for GOM and GB cod do not end overfishing or rebuild the 
stocks, in part because the Council did not take into account 
scientific uncertainty in bycatch estimates due to bias in at-sea 
monitoring coverage that was discovered during the development of 
Amendment 23 to the groundfish plan. CLF urged NMFS to disapprove the 
catch limits for GOM and GB cod and remand the decision back to the 
Council for immediate reconsideration with recommendations that bring 
the Northeast Multispecies FMP into conformity with the requirements of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    Response 2: The approved 2020-2022 ABCs and ACLs are based on peer-
reviewed 2019 stock assessments and the recommendations of the 
Council's SSC, consistent with the National Standard 2 requirement to 
use the best scientific information available. Further, the ABCs and 
ACLs were calculated to prevent overfishing while achieving optimum 
yield, as required by National Standard 1, and they are consistent with 
the current rebuilding programs.
    As explained in Appendix I to the EA, in recent years, the SSC has 
either used the default control rule for a groundfish stock or applied 
other approaches tailored to address particular elements of scientific 
uncertainty. The 2019 assessments for GOM cod cite the estimate of 
natural mortality, as well as stock structure and the veracity of 
fishery catch data, as important sources of uncertainty. For GB cod, 
the assessment stated that the major source of uncertainty for the 
stock assessment was the unknown cause of the retrospective pattern 
that led to the analytical assessment of this stock not being accepted 
for the 2015 operational assessment. The SSC considered this scientific 
uncertainty in setting catch advice for both cod stocks and used the 
Council's ABC control rule in the absence of better information that 
would allow a more explicit determination of scientific uncertainty. In 
both cases, the SSC recommended a 3-year constant catch to help account 
for uncertainty in the catch projections that are often overly 
optimistic in the out years. Future stock growth is often projected to 
be higher than what is realized. As a result, the SSC's ABC 
recommendations in many cases are lower than the estimated ABCs coming 
out of the model.
    Specific to GOM cod, CLF expressed concern about cod mortality in 
the American lobster fishery. CLF cited a study that published in March 
2020 and therefore was not available for consideration for the 2019 
stock assessments, during the SSC's review and recommendation of ABCs, 
or for the Council's development of and final action for Framework 59. 
Accordingly, it could not be used in setting fishing year 2020 
specifications. The 2019 and prior assessments have not included catch 
of cod by trap gear in part due to the lack of discard sampling in pot 
gear and the very limited information on which to base hindcast cod 
discard estimates or the discard mortality rate for the gear. The goal 
of stock assessments is to account for the true removals from the 
population over the entire time series. Future management and research 
track assessments may consider any additional information on catch 
estimate accuracy, sources of catch, and estimates of natural 
mortality, as appropriate.
    For GB cod, the SSC considered whether to follow the previous 
groundfish updates, which used the output of the Plan B Smooth 
calculation as an OFL. Because the Plan B smooth model does not produce 
biological reference points, the majority of the SSC concluded that the 
OFL is unknown for this stock, and therefore recommended using the 
output to set the ABC, rather than the OFL. This is a similar approach 
that has been used for other groundfish stocks that use empirical 
models and do not have biological reference points.
    As explained in Appendix I to the EA, in recent years, the SSC has 
either used the default control rule for a groundfish stock or applied 
other approaches tailored to address particular elements of scientific 
uncertainty. One example of a tailored approach is the use of constant 
catch levels. The Council's Groundfish Plan Development Team (PDT) used 
the outcomes of operational assessments to develop OFL and ABC 
alternatives for the SSC to consider using either the defined ABC 
control rule, approaches tailored for particular stocks in recent 
specification setting, or recommendations from the accepted peer 
reviewed stock assessments. The SSC also developed new approaches for 
some stocks based on its evaluation of uncertainty and attributes of 
the available science. The SSC routinely uses a constant catch approach 
and has recommended formally adopting this approach as part of the 
SSC's control rules.
    For the catch limits incorporated into Framework 59, the SSC 
considered scientific uncertainty, including the issue of how to 
account for cod discards and bycatch in the assessment, when they 
recommended the ABCs. This consideration did not include determining 
the level of at-sea monitoring coverage necessary to ensure catch 
accountability. Given the Groundfish PDT's analyses of bias, earlier 
this year we determined that the level of at-sea monitoring coverage 
for the 2020 fishing year needed to be increased above the minimum 
coverage necessary to achieve a CV30. We set the coverage target level 
at 40 percent, which took into account the level of coverage that may 
be practicably provided and necessary to sufficiently ensure catch 
accountability for the 2020 fishing year. The level of at-sea 
monitoring coverage that is necessary on a permanent basis is being 
considered in Amendment 23 and is outside of the scope of this 
Framework.
    The catch limits implemented in this rule, based on the SSC's 
recommendation, practicably mitigate economic impacts consistent with 
Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements. Ignoring an alternative that meets 
conservation objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that could help 
mitigate some of the substantial economic impacts of recent groundfish 
management actions would not be consistent with National Standard.
    8. Groundfish vessels catch cod along with other stocks in this 
multispecies fishery. As a result, a lower cod ABC could also 
jeopardize achieving optimum yield for the groundfish fishery by 
restricting the ability to fish for other species compared to the ABCs 
approved in this final rule.
    The catch limits implemented in this rule will replace the fishing 
year 2020 specifications set in previous frameworks for most groundfish 
stocks, including GOM and GB cod. For both stocks, the 2020 ABCs set 
were based on the 2017 assessments and at the time were the best 
scientific information available (BSIA). Framework 59 sets new ABCs 
based on the updated BSIA. Any delay in approving these specifications 
would leave in place higher and outdated ABCs for both of these stocks.

[[Page 45805]]

    Comment 3: A member of public commented in support of the proposed 
catch limits to allow for sustainable catch of groundfish species.
    Response 3: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, we 
have approved the catch limits as proposed.
    Comment 4: NSC commented on the adjustment to the recreational and 
commercial allocations of GOM cod and haddock. It raised concerns about 
the analysis of potential impacts to GOM cod of the increased 
proportion of quota allocated to the recreational fishery, and 
corresponding decrease to the commercial fishery, specifically sectors. 
It commented that the Council and NMFS did not take into account how 
the allocation adjustment will impact rebuilding efforts of GOM cod, 
impact stock assessments, or how the catch could be removed from areas 
otherwise closed to the commercial fishery to protect GOM cod.
    Response 4: As described in the preamble, Amendment 16 established 
the method for determining the commercial and recreational allocations 
of GOM cod and haddock based on the ratio of reported landing and 
discards using data from GARM III. The 2019 stock assessment used 
updated data, including updated commercial landings and discards, the 
incorporation of recreational discards, and MRIP recreational landings 
and discards, as revised following the transition from the telephone-
based effort survey to the mail-based effort survey and the re-
calibration of recreational catch estimates from 1981 to the present. 
Framework 59 applies the same method approved in Amendment 16, as well 
as the same time period used to set allocations in Amendment 16, but 
with the revised data used in the 2019 assessments, to consistently use 
the best scientific information available. As stated in Amendment 16, 
``by allocating certain groundfish stocks to the commercial and 
recreational components of the fishery, the design of management 
measures can be tailored to the components that are responsible should 
mortality targets be exceeded.'' The change in allocation between the 
commercial and recreational fisheries is not expected to have direct or 
indirect impacts on regulated groundfish species or other species 
because the total catch is constrained by the overall ACL.
    While not within the scope of Framework 59, the Council has 
annually consulted with NMFS regarding recreational management measures 
for GOM cod and haddock, including adjustments to fishing seasons, 
minimum fish sizes, and possession limits. Other measures that NSC 
references, such as changes to the recreational fishery's monitoring 
and reporting, would require Council action. Similarly, the Council is 
required to adjust the management uncertainty buffers for each 
component of the fishery. The PDT reviews the buffers in each 
specifications action, and there was no information to suggest that a 
change to the current 7-percent buffer for the recreational fishery's 
quotas for GOM cod and haddock was needed.
    Comment 5: Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, Maine 
Association of Charterboat Captains, Recreational Fishing Alliance, and 
36 members of the public commented in support of the adjustment to the 
recreational and commercial allocations for GOM cod and haddock, 
because the reallocation better reflects the complete data that should 
have been used when the original allocations were developed, such as 
the inclusion of discards by the recreational fishery in the totals of 
recreational catch.
    Response 5: We agree, and approve the adjusted allocation for these 
two stocks as proposed, for the reasons discussed in the preamble.
    Comment 6: Multiple commenters also recommended that NMFS consider 
increasing the GOM cod and/or haddock limits and expanding the open 
seasons.
    Response 6: Such possible changes to recreational measures are 
outside the scope of Framework 59, and will be addressed in a separate 
action. At its June 2020 Council meeting, the Council updated its 
recommendation for recreational measures for the 2020 fishing year, to 
account for lower effort in the spring.
    Comment 7: Several commenters also requested that the Council and 
NMFS take action to allow in-season changes to recreational measures, 
such as opening of closed months and increasing bag limits if in-season 
catch data showed that such changes were warranted.
    Response 7: The Council did not discuss or recommend such changes 
to NMFS authority, and therefore this was not considered as part of 
Framework 59.

6. Changes From the Proposed Rule

    The proposed rule included sector and common pool sub-ACLs based on 
fishing year 2020 PSCs and final fishing year 2020 sector rosters, but 
did not include the PSCs and ACEs allocated to each sector. This rule 
includes this information at the sector level.
    In the regulatory text, the proposed rule included the text at 50 
CFR 648.85(b)(5)(ii), which includes a reference to paragraph (b)(8). 
This citation has been updated to correctly refer to paragraph (b)(7).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. This final rule is not an Executive 
Order 13771 regulatory action because this action is not significant 
under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds that there is good 
cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delayed 
effectiveness of this action. This action relies on the best available 
science to set 2020 catch limits for groundfish stocks and adopts 
several other measures to improve the management of the groundfish 
fishery. This final rule must be in effect as early in fishing year 
2020 as possible to capture fully the conservation and economic 
benefits of Framework 59 and avoid adverse economic impacts.
    This rulemaking incorporates information from updated stock 
assessments from 15 of the 20 groundfish stocks. The development of 
Framework 59 was timed to incorporate the results of the 2019 
groundfish stock assessments, for which the prepublication copy was 
available in October 2019. In December 2020, the Council took final 
action on Framework 59, but remanded the OFL and ABC recommendations 
for four stocks to the Council's SSC for further review. The SSC 
provided its revised recommendations for these four stocks at the 
January 2020 Council meeting. The formal submission of the framework to 
NMFS occurred on April 10, 2020. Given the timing of the Council 
process, the earliest we were able to publish a proposed rule for 
Framework 59 was on May 29, 2020.
    A delay in implementation of this rule increases negative economic 
effects for regulated entities. The eastern portions of the GB cod and 
haddock stocks, jointly managed with Canada, did not have a 2020 quota 
set by a previous framework. A separate action implemented a 
constraining default quota (35 percent of the 2019 quota) for Eastern 
GB cod and haddock that will be in effect only through July 31, 2020, 
unless we implement Framework 59 before that date. After July 31, the 
default quotas expire, at which point vessels would be prohibited from

[[Page 45806]]

fishing in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area until Framework 59 is 
effective. The default quotas are constraining the fishery in the 
Eastern U.S./Canada Area. The majority of fishing in that region occurs 
during summer primarily due to the seasonal geographic distribution of 
the stocks jointly managed with Canada. Providing timely access to 
these stocks is also a safety issue. Summer weather is generally safer 
for fishing in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area (approximately 150-200 
miles offshore).
    The allocation changes for GOM haddock and GOM cod in this action 
would allow for increases in the recreational possession limits for 
both stocks through a separate, concurrent rulemaking. A delay in this 
action would delay setting recreational measures for the 2020 fishing 
year and the economic benefits that these measures would provide. 
Additionally, recreational fishermen book fishing trips months in 
advance for the upcoming fishing year. Thus, delays in finalizing 
recreational measures result in additional negative impacts on the 
recreational fishing industry due to uncertainty and the inability to 
book trips.
    The 30-day delay in implementation for this rule is unnecessary 
because this rule contains no new measures (e.g., requiring new nets or 
equipment) for which regulated entities need time to prepare or revise 
their current practices. Fishermen who are subject to this action 
expect and need timely implementation to allow for planning and to 
avoid adverse economic impacts. This action is similar to the process 
used to set quotas every 1-2 years, approves all items as proposed, and 
contains only quotas and minor adjustments to the management plan that 
were discussed at multiple noticed meetings where the public was 
provided opportunity to learn about the action, ask questions, and 
provide input into the development of the measures. Affected parties 
and other interested parties participated in this public process to 
develop this action and expect implementation as close to the beginning 
of the fishing year on May 1 as possible.
    Overall, a delay in implementation of this action would greatly 
diminish any benefits of these specifications and other approved 
measures. For these reasons, a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of 
this rule is impracticable and contrary to the public interest.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 604, 
requires Federal agencies to prepare a Final Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (FRFA) for each final rule. The FRFA describes the economic 
impact of this action on small entities. The FRFA includes a summary of 
significant issues raised by public comments, the analyses contained in 
Framework 59 and its accompanying Environmental Assessment/Regulatory 
Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), the IRFA 
summary in the proposed rule, as well as the summary provided below. A 
statement of the necessity for and for the objectives of this action 
are contained in Framework 59 and in the preamble to this final rule, 
and is not repeated here.
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
    There were no comments directly related to the IRFA; the Chief 
Counsel for the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration 
(SBA) did not file any comments. Therefore, no changes to the proposed 
rule measures were necessary.
Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the 
Rule Would Apply
    The final rule impacts the recreational groundfish, Atlantic sea 
scallop, small-mesh multispecies, Atlantic herring, and large-mesh non-
groundfish fisheries. Individually-permitted vessels may hold permits 
for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by 
several different FMPs, even beyond those affected by the proposed 
action. Furthermore, multiple-permitted vessels and/or permits may be 
owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, 
identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic 
dependency. For the purposes of the RFA analysis, the ownership 
entities, not the individual vessels, are considered to be the 
regulated entities.
    As of June 1, 2019, NMFS had issued 801 commercial limited-access 
groundfish permits associated with vessels (including those in 
confirmation of permit history), 589 party/charter groundfish permits, 
730 limited access and general category Atlantic sea scallop permits, 
716 small mesh multispecies permits, 78 Atlantic herring permits, and 
834 large-mesh non-groundfish permits (limited access summer flounder 
and scup permits). Therefore, 3,748 permits are potentially regulated 
by this action. When accounting for overlap between fisheries, this 
number falls to 2,177 permitted vessels. Each vessel may be 
individually owned or part of a larger corporate ownership structure, 
and for RFA purposes it is the ownership entity that is ultimately 
regulated by the proposed action. Ownership entities are identified on 
June 1st of each year based on the list of all permit numbers, for the 
most recent complete calendar year, that have applied for any type of 
Northeast Federal fishing permit. The current ownership data set is 
based on calendar year 2018 permits and contains gross sales associated 
with those permits for calendar years 2016 through 2018.
    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. The determination as to whether the 
entity is large or small is based on the average annual revenue for the 
three years from 2016 through 2018. The SBA has established size 
standards for all other major industry sectors in the U.S., including 
for-hire fishing (NAICS code 487210). These entities are classified as 
small businesses if combined annual receipts are not in excess of $8.0 
million for all its affiliated operations. As with commercial fishing 
businesses, the annual average of the three most recent years (2016-
2018) is utilized in determining annual receipts for businesses 
primarily engaged in for-hire fishing.
    Ownership data collected from permit holders indicate that there 
are 1,670 distinct business entities that hold at least one permit 
regulated by the proposed action. All 1,670 business entities 
identified could be directly regulated by this proposed action. Of 
these 1,670 entities, 1,010 are commercial fishing entities, 305 are 
for-hire entities, and 355 did not have revenues (were inactive in 
2018). Of the 1,010 commercial fishing entities, 998 are categorized as 
small entities and 12 are categorized as large entities per the NMFS 
guidelines. All 305 for-hire entities are categorized as small 
businesses.

[[Page 45807]]

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements
    The action does not contain any new collection-of-information 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).
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
    The economic impacts of each measure are discussed in more detail 
in sections 6.5 and 7.12 of the Framework 59 EA and are not repeated 
here. The economic impacts of this action are predicted to generate 
$70.1 million in gross revenues on the sector portion of the commercial 
groundfish trips, $4.8 million more than No Action. Fishery-wide 
operating profits are predicted to be $3.7 million more than No Action. 
Therefore, there are no alternatives that would have lower economic 
impacts.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    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 will publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and will designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency will 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 a 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 Northeast multispecies fishery email 
list, as well as the email lists for scallop and herring fisheries, 
which receive an allocation of some groundfish stocks. The final rule 
and the guide are available from NMFS at the following website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/management-plan/northeast-multispecies-management-plan. 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: July 23, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons stated 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. Section 648.85 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(5)(ii) and 
adding (b)(6)(iv)(J)(2)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.85   Special management programs.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) GB cod. The Incidental Catch TAC for GB cod specified in this 
paragraph (b)(5) shall be subdivided as follows: 60 percent to the 
Regular B DAS Program described in paragraph (b)(6) of this section and 
40 percent to the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP described in 
paragraph (b)(7) of this section.
    (6) * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (J) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) The Council may recommend to the Regional Administrator an 
addition or modification to the gear standards specified in paragraph 
(b)(6)(iv)(J)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section, and the Regional 
Administrator may approve the Council's recommendation in a manner 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. If the Regional 
Administrator does not approve an addition or modification to the gear 
standards as recommended by the Council, NMFS must provide a written 
rationale to the Council regarding its decision not to do so.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.90, revise paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E)(5) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.90   NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and 
specifications, and flexible area action system.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (5) Reducing the size of an AM. If the overall northern or southern 
windowpane flounder ACL is exceeded by more than 20 percent and NMFS 
determines that the stock is rebuilt, and the biomass criterion, as 
defined by the Council, is greater than the most recent fishing year's 
catch, then only the small AM may be implemented as described in this 
paragraph (a)(5)(i)(E), consistent with the Administrative Procedure 
Act. This provision applies to a limited access NE multispecies 
permitted vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, and 
to all vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend mesh size equal to 
or greater than 5 inches (12.7 cm) in other, non-specified sub-
components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted 
fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting 
exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3).
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-16424 Filed 7-28-20; 11:15 am]
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