Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Fishing Year 2020 Recreational Management Measures, 49602-49606 [2020-17707]

Download as PDF 49602 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 158 / Friday, August 14, 2020 / Rules and Regulations interim rule as a final rule without change. The effective date for the interim rule that published April 2, 2020, at 85 FR 18455, is affirmed as April 2, 2020. ADDRESSES: Documents pertaining to this rulemaking action are available on the internet at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2020–0008. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric J. Taylor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 903–7210. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DATES: Background khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES On April 2, 2020, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published an interim rule in the Federal Register revising regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in part 92 (85 FR 18455). These regulations pertain to the take of migratory birds in Alaska for subsistence uses during the spring and summer, when sport hunting of migratory birds is not allowed. Prior to the interim rule, the regulations in 50 CFR part 92, subpart D, were last amended April 3, 2019 (84 FR 12946). We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), at 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, to issue regulations to ensure that ‘‘the taking of migratory birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.’’ Per the MBTA, the normal season for the subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska begins on April 2 each year. The provisions of the interim rule were the current regulations at § 92.31, with one change. These provisions were also set forth in rules issued in 2017, 2018, and 2019. In response to those rulemaking actions, no significant controversy was raised during the public comment periods. Public Comments We solicited public comments on the interim rule until April 13, 2020. By the close of the comment period, we received two comments. One comment was outside the scope of this rulemaking action, and the other comment expressed opposition to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Aug 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 rule because it allows the killing of birds. Service Response: For centuries, indigenous inhabitants of Alaska have harvested migratory birds for subsistence purposes during the spring and summer months. The U.S. treaties with Canada and Mexico were amended for the express purpose of allowing subsistence hunting for migratory birds during these months. Consequently, as discussed above, the MBTA also provides for the issuance of regulations to allow such hunting; see 16 U.S.C. 712(1). Therefore, this rule furthers a legitimate purpose as set forth in international treaties and U.S. law. As stated in the interim rule, the migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations are developed cooperatively. The Alaska Migratory Bird CoManagement Council consists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and representatives of Alaska’s Native population. The Council’s primary purpose is to develop recommendations pertaining to the subsistence harvest of migratory birds. The Council recommended changes to the subsistence harvest regulations in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, in a related rulemaking action (RIN 1018–BF12, Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2020–0022), we are taking action to revise § 92.31 as recommended by the Council. Required Determinations We hereby affirm our responses to the following determinations required of the Federal rulemaking process as published in the April 2, 2020, interim rule (85 FR 18455): • Executive Orders 12630, 12866, 12988, 13132, 13175, 13211, 13563, and 13771 • Regulatory Flexibility Act and Small Business Regulatory • Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. and 804(2)) • Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) • Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) • National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) • Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments (59 FR 22951, and 512 DM 2) List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92 Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife. Affirmation of Interim Rule Accordingly, the Department of the Interior affirms as a final rule, without Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703–712. George Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2020–17026 Filed 8–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 Related Rulemaking PO 00000 change, the interim rule amending 50 CFR part 92 that was published at 85 FR 18455 on April 2, 2020. Sfmt 4700 [Docket No. 200807–0210] RIN 0648–BJ54 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Fishing Year 2020 Recreational Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comments. AGENCY: This rule sets fishing year 2020 recreational management measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock. This action is necessary to respond to updated catch and other scientific information. The measures are intended to ensure the recreational fishery achieves, but does not exceed, fishing year 2020 catch limits. DATES: This action is effective August 13, 2020. Comments must be received on or before September 14, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2020–0105, by the following method: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200105, 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and 3. Enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14AUR1.SGM 14AUR1 49603 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 158 / Friday, August 14, 2020 / Rules and Regulations confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Copies of the analyses supporting this rulemaking, including the Framework Adjustment 59 environmental assessment (EA) prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council are available from: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: http:// www.nefmc.org/management-plans/ northeast-multispecies or http:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Spencer Talmage, Fishery Management Specialist, phone: 978–281–9232; email: Spencer.Talmage@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The recreational fishery for Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod and haddock is managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The multispecies fishing year starts on May 1 and runs through April 30 of the following calendar year. The FMP sets sub-annual catch limits (subACL) for the recreational fishery each fishing year for both species. These subACLs are a fixed proportion of the overall catch limit for each stock. The FMP also includes proactive recreational accountability measures (AM) to prevent the recreational subACLs from being exceeded and reactive AMs to correct the cause or mitigate the effects of an overage if one occurs. The proactive AM provision in the FMP allows the Regional Administrator, in consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, to develop recreational management measures for the upcoming fishing year to ensure that the recreational sub-ACL is achieved, but not exceeded. The provisions authorizing this action can be found in the FMP’s implementing regulations at 50 CFR 648.89(f)(3). The 2020 recreational sub-ACL for GOM cod is 193 metric tons (mt) and 6,210 mt for GOM haddock. Using the 2020 sub-ACLs and a peerreviewed bioeconomic model developed by NMFS’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center that predicts fishing behavior under different management measures, we estimated 2020 recreational GOM cod and haddock removals under various combinations of minimum sizes, possession limits, and closed seasons. The bioeconomic model considers measures for the two stocks in conjunction because cod are commonly caught while recreational participants are targeting haddock, linking the catch and effort for each stock to the other. Preliminary estimates of GOM cod and haddock catch for fishing year 2019 indicate that the recreational fishery will not exceed the sub-ACL of either stock. For each of the sets of management measures, 100 simulations of the bioeconomic model were conducted, and the number of simulations which yielded mortality estimates under the sub-ACL was used as an estimate of the probability that set of measures will not result in an overage of the sub-ACL. Several sets of measures considered using the bioeconomic model were rejected because the measures failed to exceed a 50-percent probability of removals remaining under the GOM cod sub-ACL. Two sets of possible measures resulted in model-estimated removals under the sub-ACL greater than 50 percent of the time. These were the status quo measures, Option 1, and an alternative, Option 2, which included the status quo measures and added an April 15 through 30 open season for cod (Table 1). The bioeconomic model projects that measures for both GOM cod and haddock can be liberalized somewhat without the 2020 recreational fishery’s sub-ACLs being exceeded. With any given model, however, there exists some level of uncertainty in the accuracy of model predictions. As in past years, we are using preliminary data from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) for this fishing year. Incorporation of new waves, or data updates, may result in changes in model estimates. MRIP data can be uncertain and highly variable from year to year. This is the first year in which the new, mail-based Fishing Effort Survey metrics were able to be used directly in the bioeconomic model to predict mortality. This reduced uncertainty relative to last year, which was caused by back-calibration of the MRIP estimates to the old Coastal Household Telephone Survey metrics. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF THE MEASURES ANALYZED BY THE BIOECONOMIC MODEL Haddock khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 2020 options Possession limit Minimum size 1 (Status Quo) ... 15 2 ......................... 15 17 inches (43.18 cm). 17 inches (43.18 cm). Open season May 1–February 28, April 15–30. May–February 28, April 15–30. The results of the bioeconomic model run were shared with the Council and its Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) and Groundfish Committee for review. At its January meeting, the Council voted to recommend a set of measures that added an April 1–14 season for cod and extend the haddock open season to April 1. The Council expects this recommendation to result in catch of cod that would not exceed the sub-ACL. This was based on an assumption that the estimates for mortality under Option 2 could be used as an upper bound VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 Aug 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 Cod Predicted catch (mt) Simulations under haddock sub-ACL (%) 1,092 1,094 Possession limit Minimum size 100 1 100 1 21 inches (53.34 cm). 21 inches (53.34 cm). estimate for mortality for their recommendation. The Council recommendation would not allow fishing for cod from April 15–30, which was included in the bioeconomic model run for Option 2. A recommendation for an open cod season in that time period was disapproved in 2019 due to our and the public’s concern about adverse impacts on spawning cod. We intended to propose the Council recommendation from January. However, on April 29, 2020, we received a letter from the Council which PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Open season Predicted catch (mt) Simulations under cod sub-ACL (%) September 15–30 185 67 September 15–30, April 15–30. 187 65 stated that it planned on revisiting its recommendations at its June meeting to address unexpected disruptions to the for-hire recreational fishery. These included state restrictions on the operation of for-hire recreational fishing vessels. At its June Meeting, the Council revised its recommended recreational GOM cod measures for fishing year 2020 to expand the fall open season by two additional weeks, to occur from September 8 through October 7, 2020, for the for-hire recreational fishery only. E:\FR\FM\14AUR1.SGM 14AUR1 49604 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 158 / Friday, August 14, 2020 / Rules and Regulations The open season for GOM cod for private recreational fleet would remain unchanged. The Council intends for this recommendation to allow the for-hire fleet to use the fall season to make up for the loss of access to the fishery in the spring. As part of its recommendation, the Council noted that travel and other restrictions imposed by states in March and April effectively closed the for-hire fishery. While state restrictions of forhire fishing have been lifted, limits on the number of people who may gather are still in place, limiting the number of passengers on vessels. We used Vessel Trip Report (VTR) data to examine changes in activity among party/charter vessels in May and June 2020. These data indicate that the number of weekly party/charter trips and weekly mean number of anglers on party/charter VTRs have been reduced in 2020 in comparison to past years, both region-wide and in the GOM. (Table 2). The data examined in this analysis is limited to trips with a submitted VTR; trips that are missing a VTR submission and/or vessels that do not have a VTR requirement (i.e., vessels without a Federal permit and participating in the state waters fisheries) are not captured by this analysis. As such, while the report is informative of changes in recreational fishing effort in 2020, it does not capture all the recreational for-hire fishing that has occurred in the GOM this year. TABLE 2—NUMBER OF TRIPS AND AVERAGE NUMBER OF ANGLERS REPORTED BY VESSEL TRIP REPORTS IN MAY AND JUNE, 2016–2020 Month 2016 .............................................................................. May ............................................................................... June .............................................................................. May ............................................................................... June .............................................................................. May ............................................................................... June .............................................................................. May ............................................................................... June .............................................................................. May ............................................................................... June .............................................................................. 2017 .............................................................................. 2018 .............................................................................. 2019 .............................................................................. 2020 .............................................................................. The private recreational fleet has been allowed to access the GOM haddock fishery during the spring and early summer fishery, and so the lack of access that supports expanding the fall season for the party/charter fleet does not apply to the private recreational fishery. Based on the analysis using the bioeconomic model and other available information, this rule implements the measures as recommended by the Council at its June meeting, as follows: —GOM haddock: Æ Possession Limit: 15 fish Æ Minimum Size: 17 inches (43.18 cm) Æ Open Season: May 1–February 28, April 1–30 —GOM cod: Æ Possession Limit: 1 fish Æ Minimum Size: 21 inches (53.34 cm) Æ Open season (Private): September 15–30, April 1–14 Æ Open Season (For-Hire) September 8–October 7, April 1–14 Classification khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Number of trips Year The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) has made a determination that this interim final rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 Aug 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 The AA finds that prior notice and the opportunity for public comment, pursuant to authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would be contrary to the public interest. The Council’s revised recommendation for recreational GOM cod and haddock measures at its June meeting prevented NMFS from publishing a proposed rule in time to implement final measures by September 8, 2020, which is the start of the open cod season for party/charter fishing vessels. The revised measures provide opportunities to mitigate adverse economic impacts from lost opportunities to fish in the spring due to state and local health and safety restrictions. The recommended additional weeks of open-season were subject to public comment at several meetings, including the Council’s June meeting. The public, including the forhire fleet, is anticipating an expanded open-season this fall given the public recommendations voted on by the Council at the June meeting. We are accepting additional public comments on this rule. The delay required for comments on these measures prior to their implementation would undermine the benefit intended by these measures. For these reasons, prior notice and the opportunity for public comment, pursuant to authority set forth at U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would be contrary to the public interest. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 466 711 385 725 431 735 430 665 153 271 Average number of anglers 17 18.2 16.8 18 16.2 17.6 17.2 19.1 10.5 14.4 Similarly, the need to implement these measures in a timely manner to put this interim final rule in place prior to September 8, 2020, constitutes good cause under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to establish an effective date less than 30 days after date of publication. The revised measures remove restrictions on fishing. Delay in implementing this rule would prevent party/charter fishing vessels from fishing for GOM cod during the recommended open season that will assist the for-hire recreation fishery adjust to impacts of state restrictions on the for-hire fleet carrying passengers in May and June this year. Plus, the forhire fleet should benefit from the certainty from the immediate implementation of these measures upon publication. The certainty will provide additional time for the for-hire fleet to prepare for and take advantage of the opportunity to recruit and carry passengers for the recommended additional weeks this fall by enabling earlier advertisement to customers of available trips. This interim final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This interim final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. This interim final rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory E:\FR\FM\14AUR1.SGM 14AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 158 / Friday, August 14, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment. PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.89, revise paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) as follows: ■ Dated: August 10, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. § 648.89 Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions. * For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: * * * * (c) * * * (1) Private recreational vessels. Persons aboard private recreational 49605 fishing vessels during the open season listed in the column titled ‘‘Open Season’’ in Table 2 to this paragraph (c), may not possess more fish in or from the EEZ than the amount listed in the column titled ‘‘Possession Limit’’ in Table 2 to this paragraph (c). (i) Closed season. Persons aboard private recreational fishing vessels may not possess species, as specified in the column titled ‘‘Species’’ in Table 2 to paragraph (c), in or from the EEZ during that species closed season as specified in the column titled ‘‘Closed Season’’ in Table 2 to paragraph (c). TABLE 2 TO PARAGRAPH (c) Stock Open season Possession limit Closed season GB Cod .................................................. GOM Cod .............................................. All Year ................................................. September 15–30, April 1–14 ............... 10 .......................... 1 ............................ 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 ........................................... All Year ................................................. May 1–February 28 (or 29), April 1–30 All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. Closed ................................................... Closed ................................................... Closed ................................................... Unlimited ............... 15 .......................... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... No retention .......... No retention .......... No retention .......... N/A. April 15–September 14, October 1– March 31. N/A. March 1–March 31. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. All Year. All Year. All Year. Atlantic Halibut ...................................... Atlantic Wolffish ..................................... See paragraph (c)(3) of this section Closed ................................................... (ii) [Reserved] (2) Charter or Party Boats. Persons aboard party or charter boats during the No retention .......... open season listed in the column titled ‘‘Open Season’’ in Table 3 to this paragraph (c), may not possess more fish All Year. in or from the EEZ than the amount listed in the column titled ‘‘Possession Limit’’ in Table 3 to this paragraph (c). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES TABLE 3 TO PARAGRAPH (c) Species Open season Possession limit Closed season GB Cod .................................................. GOM Cod .............................................. All Year ................................................. September 8–October 7, April 1–14 ..... 10 .......................... 1 ............................ 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 ........................................... All Year ................................................. May 1–February 28 (or 29), April 1–30 All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. All Year ................................................. Closed ................................................... Closed ................................................... Closed ................................................... Unlimited ............... 15 .......................... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... Unlimited ............... No retention .......... No retention .......... No retention .......... N/A. April 15–September 7, October 8– March 31. N/A. March 1–March 31. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. N/A. All Year. All Year. All Year. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 Aug 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\14AUR1.SGM 14AUR1 49606 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 158 / Friday, August 14, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 3 TO PARAGRAPH (c)—Continued Species Open season Atlantic Halibut ...................................... Atlantic Wolffish ..................................... * * * * Closed ................................................... * BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 200221–0062; RTID 0648– XA310] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; In Season Adjustment to the 2020 Gulf of Alaska Pollock Seasonal Apportionments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; in season adjustment. AGENCY: NMFS is adjusting the 2020 C seasonal apportionments of the total allowable catch (TAC) for pollock in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) by re-apportioning unharvested pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. This action is necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2020 pollock TAC, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 13, 2020, until 2400 hours A.l.t., December 31, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The annual pollock TACs in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 of the GOA are apportioned among four seasons, in accordance with khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:38 Aug 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 Closed season See Paragraph (c)(3) of this section [FR Doc. 2020–17707 Filed 8–13–20; 8:45 am] SUMMARY: Possession limit No retention .......... § 679.23(d)(2). Regulations at § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) allow the underharvest of a seasonal apportionment to be added to subsequent seasonal apportionments, provided that any revised seasonal apportionment does not exceed 20 percent of the seasonal apportionment for a given statistical area. Therefore, NMFS is increasing the C season apportionment of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA to reflect the underharvest of pollock in Statistical Area 630 during the B season. In addition, any underharvest remaining beyond 20 percent of the originally specified seasonal apportionment in a particular area may be further apportioned to other statistical areas. Therefore, NMFS also is increasing the C season apportionment of pollock to Statistical Areas 610 and 620 based on the underharvest of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. These adjustments are described below. The C seasonal apportionment of the 2020 pollock TAC in Statistical Area 610 of the GOA is 9,070 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), hereby increases the C season apportionment for Statistical Area 610 by 287 mt to account for the underharvest of the TAC in Statistical Area 630 in the B season. This increase is in proportion to the estimated pollock biomass and is not greater than 20 percent of the C seasonal apportionment of the TAC in Statistical Area 610. Therefore, the revised C seasonal apportionment of the pollock TAC in Statistical Area 610 is 9,357mt (9,070 mt plus 287 mt). The C seasonal apportionment of the 2020 pollock TAC in Statistical Area 620 of the GOA is 6,739 mt as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the Regional Administrator hereby increases the C seasonal apportionment for Statistical Area 620 by 213 mt to account for the underharvest of the TAC in Statistical Area 630 in the B season. This increase is not greater than 20 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 All Year. percent of the C seasonal apportionment of the TAC in Statistical Area 620. Therefore, the revised C seasonal apportionment of the pollock TAC in Statistical Area 620 is 6,952 mt (6,739 mt plus 213 mt). The C seasonal apportionment of the 2020 pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA is 9,248 mt as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the Regional Administrator hereby increases the C seasonal apportionment for Statistical Area 630 by 1,850 mt to account for the underharvest of the TAC in Statistical Area 630 in the B season. This increase is in proportion to the estimated pollock biomass and is not greater than 20 percent of the C seasonal apportionment of the TAC in Statistical Area 630. Therefore, the revised C seasonal apportionment of pollock TAC in Statistical Area 630 is 11,098 mt (9,248 mt plus 1,850 mt). Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR part 679, which was issued pursuant to section 304(b), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest, as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the reapportionment of pollock in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630 of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of August 10, 2020. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: August 11, 2020. Kelly Denit, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–17846 Filed 8–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\14AUR1.SGM 14AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 158 (Friday, August 14, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 49602-49606]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17707]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 200807-0210]
RIN 0648-BJ54


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Fishing Year 2020 Recreational Management 
Measures

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

ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: This rule sets fishing year 2020 recreational management 
measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock. This action is necessary to 
respond to updated catch and other scientific information. The measures 
are intended to ensure the recreational fishery achieves, but does not 
exceed, fishing year 2020 catch limits.

DATES: This action is effective August 13, 2020. Comments must be 
received on or before September 14, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2020-0105, by the following method:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0105,
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, 
and
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.),

[[Page 49603]]

confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information 
submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS 
will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if 
you wish to remain anonymous).
    Copies of the analyses supporting this rulemaking, including the 
Framework Adjustment 59 environmental assessment (EA) prepared by the 
New England Fishery Management Council are available from: Michael 
Pentony, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 
Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The supporting documents 
are also accessible via the internet at: http://www.nefmc.org/management-plans/northeast-multispecies or http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Spencer Talmage, Fishery Management 
Specialist, phone: 978-281-9232; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The recreational fishery for Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod and haddock is 
managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). 
The multispecies fishing year starts on May 1 and runs through April 30 
of the following calendar year. The FMP sets sub-annual catch limits 
(sub-ACL) for the recreational fishery each fishing year for both 
species. These sub-ACLs are a fixed proportion of the overall catch 
limit for each stock. The FMP also includes proactive recreational 
accountability measures (AM) to prevent the recreational sub-ACLs from 
being exceeded and reactive AMs to correct the cause or mitigate the 
effects of an overage if one occurs.
    The proactive AM provision in the FMP allows the Regional 
Administrator, in consultation with the New England Fishery Management 
Council, to develop recreational management measures for the upcoming 
fishing year to ensure that the recreational sub-ACL is achieved, but 
not exceeded. The provisions authorizing this action can be found in 
the FMP's implementing regulations at 50 CFR 648.89(f)(3).
    The 2020 recreational sub-ACL for GOM cod is 193 metric tons (mt) 
and 6,210 mt for GOM haddock.
    Using the 2020 sub-ACLs and a peer-reviewed bioeconomic model 
developed by NMFS's Northeast Fisheries Science Center that predicts 
fishing behavior under different management measures, we estimated 2020 
recreational GOM cod and haddock removals under various combinations of 
minimum sizes, possession limits, and closed seasons. The bioeconomic 
model considers measures for the two stocks in conjunction because cod 
are commonly caught while recreational participants are targeting 
haddock, linking the catch and effort for each stock to the other. 
Preliminary estimates of GOM cod and haddock catch for fishing year 
2019 indicate that the recreational fishery will not exceed the sub-ACL 
of either stock.
    For each of the sets of management measures, 100 simulations of the 
bioeconomic model were conducted, and the number of simulations which 
yielded mortality estimates under the sub-ACL was used as an estimate 
of the probability that set of measures will not result in an overage 
of the sub-ACL. Several sets of measures considered using the 
bioeconomic model were rejected because the measures failed to exceed a 
50-percent probability of removals remaining under the GOM cod sub-ACL. 
Two sets of possible measures resulted in model-estimated removals 
under the sub-ACL greater than 50 percent of the time. These were the 
status quo measures, Option 1, and an alternative, Option 2, which 
included the status quo measures and added an April 15 through 30 open 
season for cod (Table 1).
    The bioeconomic model projects that measures for both GOM cod and 
haddock can be liberalized somewhat without the 2020 recreational 
fishery's sub-ACLs being exceeded. With any given model, however, there 
exists some level of uncertainty in the accuracy of model predictions. 
As in past years, we are using preliminary data from the Marine 
Recreational Information Program (MRIP) for this fishing year. 
Incorporation of new waves, or data updates, may result in changes in 
model estimates. MRIP data can be uncertain and highly variable from 
year to year. This is the first year in which the new, mail-based 
Fishing Effort Survey metrics were able to be used directly in the 
bioeconomic model to predict mortality. This reduced uncertainty 
relative to last year, which was caused by back-calibration of the MRIP 
estimates to the old Coastal Household Telephone Survey metrics.

                                                               Table 1--Summary of the Measures Analyzed by the Bioeconomic Model
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Haddock                                                                                 Cod
                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     2020 options                                                                 Predicted    Simulations                                                             Predicted    Simulations
                        Possession       Minimum size           Open season         catch     under haddock    Possession      Minimum size           Open season        catch    under cod sub-
                          limit                                                      (mt)      sub-ACL (%)       limit                                                    (mt)        ACL (%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 (Status Quo).......           15  17 inches (43.18 cm).  May 1-February 28,         1,092             100             1  21 inches (53.34 cm)  September 15-30.....        185              67
                                                            April 15-30.
2....................           15  17 inches (43.18 cm).  May-February 28,           1,094             100             1  21 inches (53.34 cm)  September 15-30,            187              65
                                                            April 15-30.                                                                          April 15-30.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The results of the bioeconomic model run were shared with the 
Council and its Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) and Groundfish 
Committee for review. At its January meeting, the Council voted to 
recommend a set of measures that added an April 1-14 season for cod and 
extend the haddock open season to April 1. The Council expects this 
recommendation to result in catch of cod that would not exceed the sub-
ACL. This was based on an assumption that the estimates for mortality 
under Option 2 could be used as an upper bound estimate for mortality 
for their recommendation. The Council recommendation would not allow 
fishing for cod from April 15-30, which was included in the bioeconomic 
model run for Option 2. A recommendation for an open cod season in that 
time period was disapproved in 2019 due to our and the public's concern 
about adverse impacts on spawning cod.
    We intended to propose the Council recommendation from January. 
However, on April 29, 2020, we received a letter from the Council which 
stated that it planned on revisiting its recommendations at its June 
meeting to address unexpected disruptions to the for-hire recreational 
fishery. These included state restrictions on the operation of for-hire 
recreational fishing vessels.
    At its June Meeting, the Council revised its recommended 
recreational GOM cod measures for fishing year 2020 to expand the fall 
open season by two additional weeks, to occur from September 8 through 
October 7, 2020, for the for-hire recreational fishery only.

[[Page 49604]]

The open season for GOM cod for private recreational fleet would remain 
unchanged. The Council intends for this recommendation to allow the 
for-hire fleet to use the fall season to make up for the loss of access 
to the fishery in the spring.
    As part of its recommendation, the Council noted that travel and 
other restrictions imposed by states in March and April effectively 
closed the for-hire fishery. While state restrictions of for-hire 
fishing have been lifted, limits on the number of people who may gather 
are still in place, limiting the number of passengers on vessels.
    We used Vessel Trip Report (VTR) data to examine changes in 
activity among party/charter vessels in May and June 2020. These data 
indicate that the number of weekly party/charter trips and weekly mean 
number of anglers on party/charter VTRs have been reduced in 2020 in 
comparison to past years, both region-wide and in the GOM. (Table 2). 
The data examined in this analysis is limited to trips with a submitted 
VTR; trips that are missing a VTR submission and/or vessels that do not 
have a VTR requirement (i.e., vessels without a Federal permit and 
participating in the state waters fisheries) are not captured by this 
analysis. As such, while the report is informative of changes in 
recreational fishing effort in 2020, it does not capture all the 
recreational for-hire fishing that has occurred in the GOM this year.

  Table 2--Number of Trips and Average Number of Anglers Reported by Vessel Trip Reports in May and June, 2016-
                                                      2020
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Number of    Average number
                     Year                                     Month                    trips        of anglers
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2016..........................................  May.............................             466              17
                                                June............................             711            18.2
2017..........................................  May.............................             385            16.8
                                                June............................             725              18
2018..........................................  May.............................             431            16.2
                                                June............................             735            17.6
2019..........................................  May.............................             430            17.2
                                                June............................             665            19.1
2020..........................................  May.............................             153            10.5
                                                June............................             271            14.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The private recreational fleet has been allowed to access the GOM 
haddock fishery during the spring and early summer fishery, and so the 
lack of access that supports expanding the fall season for the party/
charter fleet does not apply to the private recreational fishery.
    Based on the analysis using the bioeconomic model and other 
available information, this rule implements the measures as recommended 
by the Council at its June meeting, as follows:

--GOM haddock:
    [cir] Possession Limit: 15 fish
    [cir] Minimum Size: 17 inches (43.18 cm)
    [cir] Open Season: May 1-February 28, April 1-30
--GOM cod:
    [cir] Possession Limit: 1 fish
    [cir] Minimum Size: 21 inches (53.34 cm)
    [cir] Open season (Private): September 15-30, April 1-14
    [cir] Open Season (For-Hire) September 8-October 7, April 1-14

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) has made a 
determination that this interim final rule is consistent with the 
Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after 
public comment.
    The AA finds that prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment, pursuant to authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would 
be contrary to the public interest. The Council's revised 
recommendation for recreational GOM cod and haddock measures at its 
June meeting prevented NMFS from publishing a proposed rule in time to 
implement final measures by September 8, 2020, which is the start of 
the open cod season for party/charter fishing vessels. The revised 
measures provide opportunities to mitigate adverse economic impacts 
from lost opportunities to fish in the spring due to state and local 
health and safety restrictions. The recommended additional weeks of 
open-season were subject to public comment at several meetings, 
including the Council's June meeting. The public, including the for-
hire fleet, is anticipating an expanded open-season this fall given the 
public recommendations voted on by the Council at the June meeting. We 
are accepting additional public comments on this rule. The delay 
required for comments on these measures prior to their implementation 
would undermine the benefit intended by these measures. For these 
reasons, prior notice and the opportunity for public comment, pursuant 
to authority set forth at U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would be contrary to the 
public interest.
    Similarly, the need to implement these measures in a timely manner 
to put this interim final rule in place prior to September 8, 2020, 
constitutes good cause under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), 
to establish an effective date less than 30 days after date of 
publication. The revised measures remove restrictions on fishing. Delay 
in implementing this rule would prevent party/charter fishing vessels 
from fishing for GOM cod during the recommended open season that will 
assist the for-hire recreation fishery adjust to impacts of state 
restrictions on the for-hire fleet carrying passengers in May and June 
this year. Plus, the for-hire fleet should benefit from the certainty 
from the immediate implementation of these measures upon publication. 
The certainty will provide additional time for the for-hire fleet to 
prepare for and take advantage of the opportunity to recruit and carry 
passengers for the recommended additional weeks this fall by enabling 
earlier advertisement to customers of available trips.
    This interim final rule has been determined to be not significant 
for purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    This interim final rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory 
action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 
12866.
    This interim final rule is exempt from the procedures of the 
Regulatory

[[Page 49605]]

Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for 
prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: August 10, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.89, revise paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) as follows:


Sec.  648.89  Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) Private recreational vessels. Persons aboard private 
recreational fishing vessels during the open season listed in the 
column titled ``Open Season'' in Table 2 to this paragraph (c), may not 
possess more fish in or from the EEZ than the amount listed in the 
column titled ``Possession Limit'' in Table 2 to this paragraph (c).
    (i) Closed season. Persons aboard private recreational fishing 
vessels may not possess species, as specified in the column titled 
``Species'' in Table 2 to paragraph (c), in or from the EEZ during that 
species closed season as specified in the column titled ``Closed 
Season'' in Table 2 to paragraph (c).

                                            Table 2 to Paragraph (c)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Stock                        Open season            Possession limit          Closed season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod...............................  All Year...............  10.....................  N/A.
GOM Cod..............................  September 15-30, April   1......................  April 15-September 14,
                                        1-14.                                             October 1-March 31.
GB Haddock...........................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GOM Haddock..........................  May 1-February 28 (or    15.....................  March 1-March 31.
                                        29), April 1-30.
GB Yellowtail Flounder...............  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...........  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...........  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
American Plaice......................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Witch Flounder.......................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GB Winter Flounder...................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GOM Winter Flounder..................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
SNE/MA Winter Flounder...............  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Redfish..............................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
White Hake...........................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Pollock..............................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
N Windowpane Flounder................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
S Windowpane Flounder................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
Ocean Pout...........................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic Halibut.....................                     See paragraph (c)(3) of this section
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic Wolffish....................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (ii) [Reserved]
    (2) Charter or Party Boats. Persons aboard party or charter boats 
during the open season listed in the column titled ``Open Season'' in 
Table 3 to this paragraph (c), may not possess more fish in or from the 
EEZ than the amount listed in the column titled ``Possession Limit'' in 
Table 3 to this paragraph (c).

                                            Table 3 to Paragraph (c)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Species                       Open season            Possession limit          Closed season
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod...............................  All Year...............  10.....................  N/A.
GOM Cod..............................  September 8-October 7,   1......................  April 15-September 7,
                                        April 1-14.                                       October 8-March 31.
GB Haddock...........................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GOM Haddock..........................  May 1-February 28 (or    15.....................  March 1-March 31.
                                        29), April 1-30.
GB Yellowtail Flounder...............  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...........  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...........  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
American Plaice......................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Witch Flounder.......................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GB Winter Flounder...................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
GOM Winter Flounder..................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
SNE/MA Winter Flounder...............  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Redfish..............................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
White Hake...........................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
Pollock..............................  All Year...............  Unlimited..............  N/A.
N Windowpane Flounder................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
S Windowpane Flounder................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
Ocean Pout...........................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 49606]]

 
Atlantic Halibut.....................                     See Paragraph (c)(3) of this section
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlantic Wolffish....................  Closed.................  No retention...........  All Year.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-17707 Filed 8-13-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P