Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 8, 55592-55595 [2020-17863]

Download as PDF 55592 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 175 / Wednesday, September 9, 2020 / Rules and Regulations FOR PLANS WITH A VALUATION DATE ON OR AFTER JANUARY 1, 2021 Applicable rate set for month x Applicable 12-year rate for month x¥2 (percent) Immediate annuity rate (percent) Below 3.18 ....................................................................................................... 3.18 to 3.40 ...................................................................................................... 3.41 to 3.63 ...................................................................................................... 3.64 to 3.87 ...................................................................................................... 3.88 to 4.10 ...................................................................................................... 4.11 to 4.34 ...................................................................................................... 4.35 to 4.57 ...................................................................................................... 4.58 to 4.81 ...................................................................................................... 4.82 to 5.04 ...................................................................................................... 5.05 to 5.28 ...................................................................................................... 5.29 to 5.51 ...................................................................................................... 5.52 to 5.75 ...................................................................................................... 5.76 to 5.98 ...................................................................................................... 5.99 to 6.22 ...................................................................................................... 6.23 to 6.46 ...................................................................................................... 6.47 to 6.69 ...................................................................................................... 6.70 to 6.93 ...................................................................................................... 6.94 to 7.16 ...................................................................................................... 7.17 to 7.40 ...................................................................................................... 7.41 to 7.64 ...................................................................................................... 7.65 to 7.87 ...................................................................................................... 7.88 to 8.11 ...................................................................................................... 8.12 to 8.35 ...................................................................................................... 8.36 to 8.58 ...................................................................................................... 8.59 to 8.82 ...................................................................................................... 8.83 to 9.06 ...................................................................................................... 9.07 to 9.30 ...................................................................................................... 9.31 to 9.53 ...................................................................................................... 9.54 to 9.78 ...................................................................................................... 9.79 to 10.02 .................................................................................................... Above 10.02 ..................................................................................................... Issued in Washington, DC. Gordon Hartogensis, Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. [FR Doc. 2020–19610 Filed 9–8–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7709–02–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 200811–0215] RIN 0648–BJ69 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 8 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:58 Sep 08, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 i2 i1 0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 2.25 2.50 2.75 3.00 3.25 3.50 3.75 4.00 4.25 4.50 4.75 5.00 5.25 5.50 5.75 6.00 6.25 6.50 6.75 7.00 7.25 7.50 NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures described in Framework Amendment 8 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources (CMP) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and Atlantic Region (CMP FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule revises the Atlantic migratory group king mackerel commercial trip limit in a portion of the Atlantic southern zone during the October through February fishing season. The purpose of this final rule is to support increased fishing activity and economic opportunity while continuing to constrain harvest to the annual catch limit (ACL). DATES: This final rule is effective September 9, 2020. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies Framework Amendment 8 may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ framework-amendment-8-kingmackerel-trip-limits. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karla Gore, NMFS Southeast Regional SUMMARY: Deferred annuity rates (percent) 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.25 4.50 4.75 5.00 5.25 5.50 5.75 6.00 6.25 6.50 6.75 i3 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.25 4.50 4.75 5.00 5.25 5.50 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 Office, telephone: 727–551–5753, or email: karla.gore@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CMP fishery is managed under the CMP FMP which includes king mackerel and Spanish mackerel, and cobia in the Gulf of Mexico. The Council and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council jointly manage the CMP FMP. The CMP FMP was prepared by both Councils and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Under the CMP FMP, each Council has the ability to develop individual framework amendments to the FMP for certain actions that are specific to each region. On May 19, 2020, NMFS published the proposed rule for Framework Amendment 8 and requested public comment (85 FR 29916). The proposed rule and the Framework Amendment 8 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management measures described in the Framework Amendment 8 and implemented by this final rule is described below. E:\FR\FM\09SER1.SGM 09SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 175 / Wednesday, September 9, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Background The fishery for Atlantic migratory group of king mackerel (Atlantic king mackerel) has fishing zones, a split season, and a commercial trip limit system implemented through Amendment 26 to the CMP FMP (82 FR 17387, April 11, 2017). In the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Atlantic king mackerel fishery is divided into a northern zone and a southern zone with the quota for this migratory group divided between the two zones. The northern zone extends from the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary through New York, and the southern zone extends from the North Carolina/ South Carolina boundary to the MiamiDade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary. The fishing year for the commercial sector for the Atlantic king mackerel fishery is March 1 through the end of February. Annually, the Atlantic southern zone has two commercial seasons, March 1 through September 30 (Season 1), and October 1 through the end of February (Season 2). The Atlantic southern zone quota is further allocated into two seasonal quotas: 60 percent of the zone quota is allocated to Season 1 and 40 percent of the zone quota is allocated to Season 2. During the fishing year, any unused quota from Season 1 transfers to Season 2. There is no carryover of any unused quota at the end of Season 2. When the quota for a season is reached or projected to be reached, commercial harvest of king mackerel in the Atlantic southern zone is prohibited for the remainder of the respective season. When the Atlantic commercial trip limit system was restructured and revised through Amendment 26, it had the goal of ensuring the longest commercial fishing season possible for Atlantic king mackerel and providing commercial fishermen continued access to king mackerel. The trip limit system for the southern zone includes a 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) year-round trip limit north of the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary. For the area between the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary (29°25′ N lat.), and the MiamiDade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary (25°20′24″ N lat.), the trip limit is 50 fish during Season 2 from October 1 through January 31. The trip limit remains at 50 fish during the month of February, unless NMFS determines that less than 70 percent of the commercial quota for the southern zone’s second season has been landed. In that case, NMFS announces the trip limit increase to 75 fish for February in the Federal Register. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:58 Sep 08, 2020 Jkt 250001 Since the implementation of Amendment 26 in 2017, fishermen have expressed concern about some of the trip limits contained in the amendment. Specifically, commercial king mackerel fishermen targeting king mackerel south of the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary indicate that the current Season 2 commercial trip limit of 50 fish in the Atlantic southern zone has prevented them from fully utilizing the available resource, and that this lower trip limit during Season 2 also has prevented fishermen from being able to carry crew or make profitable trips. The quota for Season 2 has not been met for several years. In March 2019, the Council voted to begin developing Framework Amendment 8 to the FMP to address stakeholder concerns about the 50-fish Season 2 trip limit. Stakeholders and members of the Council’s Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel (AP) indicated that the current 50-fish Season 2 trip limit is a factor in preventing commercial king mackerel fishermen from catching the Season 2 quota or achieving optimum yield (OY). The AP discussed these problems at its April 2019 meeting, reviewed new information showing how much of the quota is not being harvested since the implementation of the 50-fish Season 2 trip limit in May 2017, and voted to recommend that the Council consider emergency action for the 2019–2020 fishing year to raise the trip limit south of the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary from 50 to 75 fish beginning in October 2019. The Council discussed the AP’s recommendation at their June 2019 meeting, reviewed new information showing how much of the Season 2 quota has not been harvested the last several years by the commercial sector, heard public testimony supporting the emergency action, and voted to request that the Secretary of Commerce issue an emergency rule under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to increase the trip limit for Season 2 to 75 fish. The emergency rule was published in the Federal Register on September 30, 2019 (84 FR 51435) and it increased the trip limit to 75-fish from October 1, 2019, through February 29, 2020. In Framework Amendment 8, the Council considered several different commercial trip limits during Season 2 in the Atlantic southern zone from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary. The Council determined that increasing the trip limit to 100 fish during Season 2 would be expected to reduce inefficiencies associated with a fishing trip, increase economic opportunities, and enhance PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 55593 social benefits, but would not increase the overall Season 2 commercial quota or the commercial ACL for king mackerel. Since commercial king mackerel landings have not reached the Season 2 quota in recent years, the Council and NMFS determined that it was unlikely the commercial trip limit increase would result in an early seasonal closure. The commercial ACL and accountability measures would continue to be in place to constrain commercial harvest and reduce the risk of overfishing. Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule This final rule revises the Atlantic king mackerel commercial trip limit in the southern zone from the Flagler/ Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary during Season 2. The current 50-fish commercial trip limit is increased to 100 fish from October 1 through the month of January, between the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary, and the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary. Also, for the month of February, in the southern zone from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-Dade/ Monroe County, Florida, boundary, this final rule removes the current trip limit increase of 50 to 75 fish when less than 70 percent of the quota is landed and allows a trip limit of 100 fish for the entire month of February, or until the total quota is reached. Therefore, for the period of October through February, in the southern zone from the Flagler/ Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary, the commercial trip limit will be 100 fish. The revision to the commercial trip limit in the Atlantic southern zone during Season 2 is expected to provide additional fishing and economic opportunities to king mackerel fishers and is not expected to negatively impact the Atlantic king mackerel stock. Comments and Responses NMFS received eight comments during the public comment period on the proposed rule for Framework Amendment 8. Seven of these comments were in support of the management measure in the framework amendment. NMFS acknowledges the comments in favor of all or part of the actions in Framework Amendment 8 and the proposed rule, and agrees with them; they are not further addressed below. NMFS summarizes and responds to one comment opposed to the action and to one of the comments in support of the action but that also recommended E:\FR\FM\09SER1.SGM 09SER1 55594 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 175 / Wednesday, September 9, 2020 / Rules and Regulations a change to how trip limits are described. Comment 1: Increasing the commercial trip limit from 50 to 100 fish from October through January and from 50 and/or 75 to 100 fish in February during Season 2 of the southern zone would cause increased fishing effort such that the market would be flooded and the market price would be substantially reduced. The current trip limits for Season 2 in the southern zone should be maintained. Response: NMFS disagrees and does not expect that the higher commercial trip limit from October through February will result in market flooding and reduced dockside prices from increased effort. NMFS has reviewed the data from the years before and after the 2017 change in the trip limits and found no evidence to support market flooding or reduced prices with a higher trip limit. The commercial trip limit during October through February was reduced through Amendment 26 (82 FR 17387, April 11, 2017), and this reduction did not result in a substantial decrease in king mackerel landings during those months during the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 seasons. Average annual landings from the 2017–2018 and 2018– 2019 seasons when a lower trip limit was in place are greater than average annual landings from the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 seasons when a higher trip limit was in place. Moreover, average annual landings per trip during the 2014–2015 through 2015–2016 seasons are less than average annual landings per trip from the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 seasons. In addition, the average annual dockside price of king mackerel in both 2018 and 2019 (2018 dollars) also falls within the range of the average annual dockside price of king mackerel from 2014 through 2016 (2018 dollars). Comment 2: Some king mackerel commercial trip limits are described in pounds of allowable fish and others are described in numbers of allowable fish. For consistency, the king mackerel trip limits should be all described by weight instead of numbers of fish. Response: The Council and NMFS do not have a specific policy with respect to how commercial trip limits are set, either in numbers of fish or pounds. However, for the king mackerel trip limits in the Atlantic southern zone, greater trip limits tend to be expressed in pounds (i.e., 3,500 lb (1,588 kg)) and lesser trip limits are expressed in numbers of fish (i.e., 50 fish). Most commercial trip limits are expressed in pounds of fish, but the Council’s Cobia Mackerel Advisory Panel recommended that the trip limit in this portion of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:58 Sep 08, 2020 Jkt 250001 Atlantic southern zone be described in numbers of fish. The Council preferred to have this trip limit set in numbers of fish for this area, rather than pounds of fish, because it believed that numbers of fish would help with compliance and enforcement. Numbers of fish will be converted to landings in pounds of fish by multiplying by the average weight of the fish to track landings against the Atlantic southern zone commercial ACL, which is expressed in pounds of fish. In determining this conversion factor, NMFS uses data from commercial trip intercepts where the length and weight of the fish harvested on a trip are recorded. As described in Framework Amendment 8, and using data from the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center Trip Intercept Program, the average annual weight of Atlantic king mackerel from the southern zone is 7.38 lb (3.35 kg), round weight, 7.10 lb (3.22 kg), gutted weight. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator (AA) has determined that this final rule is consistent with Framework Amendment 8, the CMP 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 considered an Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) during the proposed rule stage that this rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments from the public or SBA’s Chief Counsel for Advocacy were received regarding the certification, and NMFS has not received any new information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This final rule responds to the best scientific information available. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the AA PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness of this final rule because such a delay would be contrary to the public interest. If this final rule were delayed by 30 days, king mackerel fishermen may not be able to fish under the increased commercial trip limit and realize the full level of economic opportunity this rule provides. In addition, because this measure increases the current Season 2 trip limits, it relieves a restriction, and therefore it also falls within the 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) exception to the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness requirement. The current commercial trip limits are increased as a result of this final rule, and NMFS wants to allow king mackerel fishermen the earliest opportunity to harvest at the new trip limit, as intended by the Council in Framework Amendment 8, by ensuring the trip limit is effective by the start of Season 2 on October 1, 2020. Waiving the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness will allow this final rule to more fully benefit the fishery through increased fishing opportunities as described in Framework Amendment 8 and as intended by the Council. Any delay past October 1 would reduce the benefits of this action, and the full economic opportunities that are anticipated would not be realized. A reduction of these expected benefits would also be contrary to the intent of the Council. Accordingly, the 30-day delay in effectiveness of the measures contained in this final rule is waived. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, King mackerel, South Atlantic, Trip limits. Dated: August 11, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.385, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(C) and (a)(1)(iii)(C) and remove paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(D) and (a)(1)(iii)(D) to read as follows: ■ § 622.385 * Commercial trip limits. * * (a) * * * (1) * * * E:\FR\FM\09SER1.SGM 09SER1 * * Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 175 / Wednesday, September 9, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (ii) * * * (C) From October 1 through the end of February—100 fish. (iii) * * * (C) From October 1 through the end of February—100 fish. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–17863 Filed 9–8–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No.200623–0167; RTID 0648– XA421] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota Transfer From NJ to RI National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notification; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS announces that the State of New Jersey is transferring a portion of its 2020 commercial bluefish quota to the State of Rhode Island. This quota adjustment is necessary to comply with the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan quota transfer provisions. This announcement informs the public of the revised commercial bluefish quotas for New Jersey and Rhode Island. DATES: Effective September 8, 2020, through December 31, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Hansen, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9225. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the Atlantic bluefish fishery are found in 50 CFR 648.160 through 648.167. These regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from Maine through Florida. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state is described in § 648.162, and the final 2020 allocations were published on June 29, 2020 (85 FR 38794). The final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2000 (65 FR 45844), and provided a mechanism for transferring bluefish quota from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the NMFS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:58 Sep 08, 2020 Jkt 250001 Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator, can request approval to transfer or combine bluefish commercial quota under § 648.162(e)(1)(i) through (iii). The Regional Administrator must approve any such transfer based on the criteria in § 648.162(e). In evaluating requests to transfer a quota or combine quotas, the Regional Administrator shall consider whether: The transfer or combinations would preclude the overall annual quota from being fully harvested; the transfer addresses an unforeseen variation or contingency in the fishery; and the transfer is consistent with the objectives of the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. New Jersey is transferring 45,000 lb (20,412 kg) of bluefish commercial quota to Rhode Island through mutual agreement of the states. This transfer was requested to ensure that Rhode Island would not exceed its 2020 state quota. The revised bluefish quotas for 2020 are: New Jersey, 314, 934 lb (142,852 kg) and Rhode Island, 283,366 lb (128,533 kg). Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR 648.162(e)(1)(i) through (iii), which was issued pursuant to section 304(b), and is exempted from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 3, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–19923 Filed 9–8–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 200221–0062; RTID 0648– XA311] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 55595 the C season allowance of the 2020 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 610 in the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 3, 2020, through 1200 hours, A.l.t., October 1, 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 under authority of the MagnusonStevens 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 C season allowance of the 2020 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock in Statistical Area 610 of the GOA is 9,357 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) and inseason adjustment (85 FR 49606, August 14, 2020). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator has determined that the C season allowance of the 2020 TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 610 of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 9,257 mt and is setting aside the remaining 100 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 of the GOA. While this closure is effective the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. 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 E:\FR\FM\09SER1.SGM 09SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 175 (Wednesday, September 9, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 55592-55595]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17863]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 200811-0215]
RIN 0648-BJ69


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
Region; Framework Amendment 8

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures 
described in Framework Amendment 8 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources (CMP) of the Gulf of Mexico 
(Gulf) and Atlantic Region (CMP FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule revises the 
Atlantic migratory group king mackerel commercial trip limit in a 
portion of the Atlantic southern zone during the October through 
February fishing season. The purpose of this final rule is to support 
increased fishing activity and economic opportunity while continuing to 
constrain harvest to the annual catch limit (ACL).

DATES: This final rule is effective September 9, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies Framework Amendment 8 may be obtained from 
the Southeast Regional Office website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-amendment-8-king-mackerel-trip-limits.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karla Gore, NMFS Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone: 727-551-5753, or email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CMP fishery is managed under the CMP FMP 
which includes king mackerel and Spanish mackerel, and cobia in the 
Gulf of Mexico. The Council and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management 
Council jointly manage the CMP FMP. The CMP FMP was prepared by both 
Councils and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 
622 under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Under the CMP FMP, each Council 
has the ability to develop individual framework amendments to the FMP 
for certain actions that are specific to each region.
    On May 19, 2020, NMFS published the proposed rule for Framework 
Amendment 8 and requested public comment (85 FR 29916). The proposed 
rule and the Framework Amendment 8 outline the rationale for the 
actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management 
measures described in the Framework Amendment 8 and implemented by this 
final rule is described below.

[[Page 55593]]

Background

    The fishery for Atlantic migratory group of king mackerel (Atlantic 
king mackerel) has fishing zones, a split season, and a commercial trip 
limit system implemented through Amendment 26 to the CMP FMP (82 FR 
17387, April 11, 2017). In the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the 
Atlantic king mackerel fishery is divided into a northern zone and a 
southern zone with the quota for this migratory group divided between 
the two zones. The northern zone extends from the North Carolina/South 
Carolina boundary through New York, and the southern zone extends from 
the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary to the Miami-Dade/Monroe 
County, Florida, boundary. The fishing year for the commercial sector 
for the Atlantic king mackerel fishery is March 1 through the end of 
February. Annually, the Atlantic southern zone has two commercial 
seasons, March 1 through September 30 (Season 1), and October 1 through 
the end of February (Season 2). The Atlantic southern zone quota is 
further allocated into two seasonal quotas: 60 percent of the zone 
quota is allocated to Season 1 and 40 percent of the zone quota is 
allocated to Season 2. During the fishing year, any unused quota from 
Season 1 transfers to Season 2. There is no carryover of any unused 
quota at the end of Season 2. When the quota for a season is reached or 
projected to be reached, commercial harvest of king mackerel in the 
Atlantic southern zone is prohibited for the remainder of the 
respective season.
    When the Atlantic commercial trip limit system was restructured and 
revised through Amendment 26, it had the goal of ensuring the longest 
commercial fishing season possible for Atlantic king mackerel and 
providing commercial fishermen continued access to king mackerel. The 
trip limit system for the southern zone includes a 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) 
year-round trip limit north of the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, 
boundary. For the area between the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, 
boundary (29[deg]25' N lat.), and the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, 
Florida, boundary (25[deg]20'24'' N lat.), the trip limit is 50 fish 
during Season 2 from October 1 through January 31. The trip limit 
remains at 50 fish during the month of February, unless NMFS determines 
that less than 70 percent of the commercial quota for the southern 
zone's second season has been landed. In that case, NMFS announces the 
trip limit increase to 75 fish for February in the Federal Register.
    Since the implementation of Amendment 26 in 2017, fishermen have 
expressed concern about some of the trip limits contained in the 
amendment. Specifically, commercial king mackerel fishermen targeting 
king mackerel south of the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary 
indicate that the current Season 2 commercial trip limit of 50 fish in 
the Atlantic southern zone has prevented them from fully utilizing the 
available resource, and that this lower trip limit during Season 2 also 
has prevented fishermen from being able to carry crew or make 
profitable trips. The quota for Season 2 has not been met for several 
years. In March 2019, the Council voted to begin developing Framework 
Amendment 8 to the FMP to address stakeholder concerns about the 50-
fish Season 2 trip limit. Stakeholders and members of the Council's 
Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel (AP) indicated that the current 50-fish 
Season 2 trip limit is a factor in preventing commercial king mackerel 
fishermen from catching the Season 2 quota or achieving optimum yield 
(OY). The AP discussed these problems at its April 2019 meeting, 
reviewed new information showing how much of the quota is not being 
harvested since the implementation of the 50-fish Season 2 trip limit 
in May 2017, and voted to recommend that the Council consider emergency 
action for the 2019-2020 fishing year to raise the trip limit south of 
the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary from 50 to 75 fish 
beginning in October 2019. The Council discussed the AP's 
recommendation at their June 2019 meeting, reviewed new information 
showing how much of the Season 2 quota has not been harvested the last 
several years by the commercial sector, heard public testimony 
supporting the emergency action, and voted to request that the 
Secretary of Commerce issue an emergency rule under the Magnuson-
Stevens Act to increase the trip limit for Season 2 to 75 fish. The 
emergency rule was published in the Federal Register on September 30, 
2019 (84 FR 51435) and it increased the trip limit to 75-fish from 
October 1, 2019, through February 29, 2020.
    In Framework Amendment 8, the Council considered several different 
commercial trip limits during Season 2 in the Atlantic southern zone 
from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-Dade/
Monroe County, Florida, boundary. The Council determined that 
increasing the trip limit to 100 fish during Season 2 would be expected 
to reduce inefficiencies associated with a fishing trip, increase 
economic opportunities, and enhance social benefits, but would not 
increase the overall Season 2 commercial quota or the commercial ACL 
for king mackerel. Since commercial king mackerel landings have not 
reached the Season 2 quota in recent years, the Council and NMFS 
determined that it was unlikely the commercial trip limit increase 
would result in an early seasonal closure. The commercial ACL and 
accountability measures would continue to be in place to constrain 
commercial harvest and reduce the risk of overfishing.

Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule revises the Atlantic king mackerel commercial trip 
limit in the southern zone from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, 
boundary to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary during 
Season 2. The current 50-fish commercial trip limit is increased to 100 
fish from October 1 through the month of January, between the Flagler/
Volusia County, Florida, boundary, and the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, 
Florida, boundary. Also, for the month of February, in the southern 
zone from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-
Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary, this final rule removes the 
current trip limit increase of 50 to 75 fish when less than 70 percent 
of the quota is landed and allows a trip limit of 100 fish for the 
entire month of February, or until the total quota is reached. 
Therefore, for the period of October through February, in the southern 
zone from the Flagler/Volusia County, Florida, boundary to the Miami-
Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary, the commercial trip limit will 
be 100 fish.
    The revision to the commercial trip limit in the Atlantic southern 
zone during Season 2 is expected to provide additional fishing and 
economic opportunities to king mackerel fishers and is not expected to 
negatively impact the Atlantic king mackerel stock.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received eight comments during the public comment period on 
the proposed rule for Framework Amendment 8. Seven of these comments 
were in support of the management measure in the framework amendment. 
NMFS acknowledges the comments in favor of all or part of the actions 
in Framework Amendment 8 and the proposed rule, and agrees with them; 
they are not further addressed below. NMFS summarizes and responds to 
one comment opposed to the action and to one of the comments in support 
of the action but that also recommended

[[Page 55594]]

a change to how trip limits are described.
    Comment 1: Increasing the commercial trip limit from 50 to 100 fish 
from October through January and from 50 and/or 75 to 100 fish in 
February during Season 2 of the southern zone would cause increased 
fishing effort such that the market would be flooded and the market 
price would be substantially reduced. The current trip limits for 
Season 2 in the southern zone should be maintained.
    Response: NMFS disagrees and does not expect that the higher 
commercial trip limit from October through February will result in 
market flooding and reduced dockside prices from increased effort. NMFS 
has reviewed the data from the years before and after the 2017 change 
in the trip limits and found no evidence to support market flooding or 
reduced prices with a higher trip limit. The commercial trip limit 
during October through February was reduced through Amendment 26 (82 FR 
17387, April 11, 2017), and this reduction did not result in a 
substantial decrease in king mackerel landings during those months 
during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. Average annual landings 
from the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons when a lower trip limit was in 
place are greater than average annual landings from the 2014-2015 and 
2015-2016 seasons when a higher trip limit was in place. Moreover, 
average annual landings per trip during the 2014-2015 through 2015-2016 
seasons are less than average annual landings per trip from the 2017-
2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. In addition, the average annual dockside 
price of king mackerel in both 2018 and 2019 (2018 dollars) also falls 
within the range of the average annual dockside price of king mackerel 
from 2014 through 2016 (2018 dollars).
    Comment 2: Some king mackerel commercial trip limits are described 
in pounds of allowable fish and others are described in numbers of 
allowable fish. For consistency, the king mackerel trip limits should 
be all described by weight instead of numbers of fish.
    Response: The Council and NMFS do not have a specific policy with 
respect to how commercial trip limits are set, either in numbers of 
fish or pounds. However, for the king mackerel trip limits in the 
Atlantic southern zone, greater trip limits tend to be expressed in 
pounds (i.e., 3,500 lb (1,588 kg)) and lesser trip limits are expressed 
in numbers of fish (i.e., 50 fish). Most commercial trip limits are 
expressed in pounds of fish, but the Council's Cobia Mackerel Advisory 
Panel recommended that the trip limit in this portion of the Atlantic 
southern zone be described in numbers of fish. The Council preferred to 
have this trip limit set in numbers of fish for this area, rather than 
pounds of fish, because it believed that numbers of fish would help 
with compliance and enforcement. Numbers of fish will be converted to 
landings in pounds of fish by multiplying by the average weight of the 
fish to track landings against the Atlantic southern zone commercial 
ACL, which is expressed in pounds of fish. In determining this 
conversion factor, NMFS uses data from commercial trip intercepts where 
the length and weight of the fish harvested on a trip are recorded. As 
described in Framework Amendment 8, and using data from the NMFS 
Southeast Fisheries Science Center Trip Intercept Program, the average 
annual weight of Atlantic king mackerel from the southern zone is 7.38 
lb (3.35 kg), round weight, 7.10 lb (3.22 kg), gutted weight.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator (AA) has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with Framework Amendment 8, the CMP 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 considered an 
Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules 
have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or 
other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) during the proposed rule stage that this rule, if 
adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination was 
published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments 
from the public or SBA's Chief Counsel for Advocacy were received 
regarding the certification, and NMFS has not received any new 
information that would affect its determination. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.
    This final rule responds to the best scientific information 
available. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the AA finds good cause to 
waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness of this final rule 
because such a delay would be contrary to the public interest. If this 
final rule were delayed by 30 days, king mackerel fishermen may not be 
able to fish under the increased commercial trip limit and realize the 
full level of economic opportunity this rule provides. In addition, 
because this measure increases the current Season 2 trip limits, it 
relieves a restriction, and therefore it also falls within the 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(1) exception to the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness 
requirement. The current commercial trip limits are increased as a 
result of this final rule, and NMFS wants to allow king mackerel 
fishermen the earliest opportunity to harvest at the new trip limit, as 
intended by the Council in Framework Amendment 8, by ensuring the trip 
limit is effective by the start of Season 2 on October 1, 2020. Waiving 
the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness will allow this final 
rule to more fully benefit the fishery through increased fishing 
opportunities as described in Framework Amendment 8 and as intended by 
the Council. Any delay past October 1 would reduce the benefits of this 
action, and the full economic opportunities that are anticipated would 
not be realized. A reduction of these expected benefits would also be 
contrary to the intent of the Council.
    Accordingly, the 30-day delay in effectiveness of the measures 
contained in this final rule is waived.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, King mackerel, South Atlantic, Trip limits.

    Dated: August 11, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

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

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  622.385, revise paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(C) and (a)(1)(iii)(C) 
and remove paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(D) and (a)(1)(iii)(D) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.385  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *

[[Page 55595]]

    (ii) * * *
    (C) From October 1 through the end of February--100 fish.
    (iii) * * *
    (C) From October 1 through the end of February--100 fish.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-17863 Filed 9-8-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P