Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Regulatory Amendment 34, 73013-73016 [2020-24682]

Download as PDF jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 221 / Monday, November 16, 2020 / Proposed Rules and the telephone number for the public informational meeting and public hearing. If applicable, interested members of the public not familiar with the Zoom platform should view the Zoom video tutorials (https:// support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/ 206618765-Zoom-video-tutorials) prior to the public informational meeting and public hearing. The public hearing will provide interested parties an opportunity to present verbal testimony (formal, oral comments) regarding the October 8, 2020, proposed rule to reclassify the red-cockaded woodpecker (85 FR 63474). While the public informational meeting will be an opportunity for dialogue with the Service, the public hearing is not: It is a forum for accepting formal verbal testimony. In the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may be limited. Therefore, anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing for the record is encouraged to provide a prepared written copy of their statement to us through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or U.S. mail (see ADDRESSES, above). There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted to us. Anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing must register before the hearing (https://www.fws.gov/southeast/ wildlife/birds/red-cockadedwoodpecker/#recovery-plan-section/). The use of a virtual public hearing is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 424.16(c)(3). at https://www.fws.gov/southeast/ wildlife/birds/red-cockadedwoodpecker/#recovery-plan-section prior to the meeting and hearing (see DATES, above). See https://www.fws.gov/ southeast/wildlife/birds/red-cockadedwoodpecker/#recovery-plan-section for more information about reasonable accommodation. Reasonable Accommodation The Service is committed to providing access to the public informational meeting and public hearing for all participants. Closed captioning will be available during the public informational meeting and public hearing. Further, a full audio and video recording and transcript of the public hearing will be posted online at https:// www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/birds/ red-cockaded-woodpecker/#recoveryplan-section after the hearing. Participants will also have access to live audio during the public informational meeting and public hearing via their telephone or computer speakers. Persons with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodations to participate in the meeting and/or hearing should contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT at least 5 business days prior to the date of the meeting and hearing to help ensure availability. An accessible version of the Service’s public informational meeting presentation will also be posted online Aurelia Skipwith, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Nov 13, 2020 Jkt 253001 Public Comments If you submit information via https:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. If your submission is made via hard copy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on https://www.regulations.gov. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on https://www.regulations.gov. Authors The primary authors of this document are the Ecological Services staff of the Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). [FR Doc. 2020–25280 Filed 11–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 201102–0285] RIN 0648–BJ93 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Regulatory Amendment 34 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73013 NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Regulatory Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would create 34 special management zones (SMZs) around artificial reefs in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off North Carolina and South Carolina. The purpose of this proposed rule is to designate new SMZs and to restrict fishing gear with greater potential to result in high exploitation rates. The restrictions are expected to reduce adverse effects to snappergrouper species and enhance recreational fishing opportunities at these SMZs. DATES: Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by December 16, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2020–0123,’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic submission: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to https:// www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAANMFS-2020-0123, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 34 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP (Regulatory Amendment 34) may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ action/regulatory-amendment-34special-management-zones-smz. Regulatory Amendment 34 includes an environmental assessment, regulatory SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16NOP1.SGM 16NOP1 73014 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 221 / Monday, November 16, 2020 / Proposed Rules impact review, and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RFA). Rick DeVictor, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the snapper-grouper fishery under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. The Snapper-Grouper FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Background The Council specified the SMZ designation process in 1983, and since that time SMZs have been designated in the EEZ off South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and as recently as in 2000. There are no SMZs designated off North Carolina currently. Twenty-eight artificial reef sites in the EEZ off South Carolina have been designated as SMZs since the 1980s. The purpose of the SMZ designation process, and the subsequent specification of SMZs, is to protect snapper-grouper populations at the relatively small artificial reef sites in the EEZ and to create fishing opportunities that would not otherwise exist without their designation. Prior to the SMZ designation process, for example, black sea bass pots were used by commercial fishermen to efficiently remove black sea bass from artificial reefs off South Carolina. At the time of the SMZ designation process, the Council determined that because artificial reefs sites are small in area (because of the limited amount of suitable reef-building material), the sites are vulnerable to overexploitation by more efficient fishing gear that has the potential to result in localized depletion. In addition, the Council wanted to enhance fishing opportunities for the recreational sector through the designation of SMZs. The Council has determined that the harvest and gear restrictions will increase the abundance and size of snapper-grouper species at the sites, thereby increasing available catch for fishermen, such as those fishing under recreational harvest limits. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) requested that the Council designate artificial reefs located in the EEZ off their respective coasts as SMZs. Following a review of the requests, the Council developed VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:40 Nov 13, 2020 Jkt 253001 Regulatory Amendment 34 that would create 34 new SMZs (30 off North Carolina and 4 off South Carolina). The Council determined that the proposed actions in Regulatory Amendment 34 would enhance the fishing experience at the artificial reef sites for recreational fishermen and that would further promote the original intent of North Carolina and South Carolina for placing the artificial reefs at the sites. The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 34 and this proposed rule is to designate these sites as SMZs and to restrict fishing gear that could result in high exploitation rates to reduce potential adverse biological effects to federally managed snapper-grouper species and enhance recreational fishing opportunities at these sites. Management Measures Contained in this Proposed Rule This proposed rule would create SMZs in the EEZ off North Carolina and South Carolina. Authorized gear and harvest levels for snapper-grouper species at these new SMZs would be specified to reduce potential adverse biological effects and enhance recreational fishing opportunities. SMZs Off North Carolina There are currently no artificial reefs in the EEZ off North Carolina designated as SMZs. The proposed rule would designate 30 SMZs off North Carolina in the EEZ. The NCDMF requested that the Council designate 30 artificial reefs located in the EEZ off North Carolina as SMZs in a letter dated March 12, 2019. The 30 sites are existing artificial reefs permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposed SMZs would match the sizes of the permitted artificial reefs, and would range from 0.24 to 0.76 square nautical miles or 0.25 to 1.01 square miles (0.82 to 2.6 square km). The NCDMF letter also requested that within the SMZs all harvest of snapper-grouper species would be allowed only with handline, rod and reel, and spear. Further, in the proposed SMZs off North Carolina, all commercial and recreational harvest of snapper-grouper species by spear would be limited to the applicable, existing recreational bag limits, as requested by the NCDMF. SMZs Off South Carolina There are currently 28 artificial reef sites in the EEZ off South Carolina that the Council has designated as SMZs. This proposed rule would designate four additional SMZs off the coast of South Carolina in the EEZ. The SCDNR requested that the Council designate additional artificial reefs located in the PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 EEZ off the South Carolina as SMZs in a letter dated March 1, 2019. The four additional sites are existing artificial reefs permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposed SMZs would match the sizes of the permitted artificial reefs, and would range from 0.031 to 0.25 square nautical miles or 0.041 to 0.33 square miles (0.11 to 0.86 square km). The SCDNR letter also requested that within the SMZs all harvest of snapper-grouper species would be allowed only with handline, rod and reel, and spear in the SMZs. Further, in the proposed SMZs off South Carolina, all commercial and recreational harvest of snapper-grouper species would be limited to the applicable, existing recreational bag limits, as requested by the SCDNR. If implemented, these restrictions would match the regulations in the current SMZs off South Carolina. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Regulatory Amendment 34, the Snapper-Grouper FMP, the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this proposed rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is as follows. A copy of the full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting or record keeping compliance requirements are introduced in this proposed rule. This proposed rule directly affects small businesses that operate commercial fishing vessels that harvest E:\FR\FM\16NOP1.SGM 16NOP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 221 / Monday, November 16, 2020 / Proposed Rules snapper-grouper species within the 30 proposed SMZs in the EEZ off North Carolina and the 4 proposed SMZs in the EEZ off South Carolina. Any commercial fishing vessel that harvests and sells snapper-grouper from the South Atlantic EEZ must have a valid Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper. It is expected that any of the federally permitted vessels that may harvest snapper-grouper in any of the proposed SMZs land their catch in North Carolina or South Carolina. From 2014 through 2018, an annual average of 173 federally permitted vessels reported landing snappergrouper in the Carolinas: 120 in North Carolina and 53 in South Carolina. Average annual dockside revenue of the 120 permitted vessels that landed snapper-grouper in North Carolina was $42,619 (2018 dollars), and average annual dockside revenue of the 53 permitted vessels that landed snappergrouper in South Carolina was $72,259 (2018 dollars). Those annual averages represent the baseline revenues of the directly affected vessels. An estimated 128 businesses operate these 173 federally permitted vessels. All of the businesses that operate the above federally permitted vessels are expected to operate primarily in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS code 11411). For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily involved in the commercial fishing industry is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Examination of annual dockside revenues of the vessels owned by the businesses indicates the total annual revenue of each business to be less than $11 million. Consequently, all of the estimated 128 businesses directly affected by the proposed action are classified as small. The proposed rule would designate 30 SMZs in the EEZ off North Carolina and 4 SMZs in the EEZ off South Carolina. Within the proposed SMZs, all harvest of snapper-grouper species would only be allowed with handline, rod and reel, and spear. Within the proposed SMZs off North Carolina, all harvest by spear would be limited to the applicable recreational bag limit, whereas within VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Nov 13, 2020 Jkt 253001 the proposed SMZs off South Carolina, all harvest would be limited to the applicable recreational bag limit. For the purpose of monitoring landings through the Coastal Logbook Program, NMFS divides the South Atlantic into statistical grids that follow lines of latitude and longitude. The maximum area of a reporting grid in the South Atlantic EEZ is 3,600 square nautical miles or 4,767 square miles (12,347.6 square km) while grids closer to shore cover less area due to truncation of the water area by coastline. The proposed 30 SMZs in the EEZ off the North Carolina lie within seven statistical reporting grids and collectively those SMZs would cover 9 square nautical miles or 11.9 square miles (30.9 square km). That combined area represents approximately 0.25 percent of the combined areas of the seven statistical grids. The four proposed SMZs in the EEZ off South Carolina lie within two statistical reporting grids, collectively cover 0.45 square nautical miles or 0.6 square miles (1.5 square km), and represent approximately 0.0125 percent of the combined area of the two statistical reporting grids. Because of their very small size, there is insufficient information to determine precise numbers of landings of snapper-grouper that are harvested from the proposed SMZs. If the proportion of the area covered by the 30 proposed SMZs off North Carolina (0.25 percent) is consistent with the proportion of snapper-grouper landings in North Carolina, then on average 2,637 lb (1,196.1 kg) gutted weight of snapper-grouper with a dockside value of $9,223 (2018 dollars) are harvested from the 30 proposed SMZs annually. When divided across the 120 permitted vessels that landed snapper-grouper annually in North Carolina, the 30 proposed SMZs would reduce annual landings by 22 lb (9.9 kg) gutted weight and reduce annual dockside revenue by $77 (2018 dollars). That reduction represents 0.18 percent of the average annual revenue of those 120 permitted vessels. If the proportion of the area covered by the four proposed SMZs off South Carolina (0.0125 percent) is consistent with the proportion of snapper-grouper landings in South Carolina, then on average 111 lb (50.3 kg) gutted weight of snapper-grouper with a dockside value of $472 (2018 dollars) is harvested annually from the combined four proposed SMZs. When divided across PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73015 the 53 permitted vessels that annually landed snapper-grouper in South Carolina, the four proposed SMZs would reduce annual landings by 2 lb (0.9 kg) gutted weight and annual dockside revenue by $9 (2018 dollars). That reduction represents 0.012 percent of the average annual revenue of those 53 vessels. From those figures and percentages, it is expected that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on the average annual 128 commercial fishing businesses and their combined 173 federally permitted fishing vessels that harvest snappergrouper from the South Atlantic EEZ and make their landings in North Carolina and South Carolina. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Fisheries, Fishing, Grouper, Snapper, South Atlantic. Dated: November 2, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.182, add paragraphs (e) and (f) to read as follows: ■ § 622.182 Gear-restricted areas. * * * * * (e) SMZs off North Carolina. (1) The center of each SMZ in Table 3 to this paragraph (e) is located at the given point with a radius extending the applicable distance in every direction laterally from that point to form a circle around the center point. (2) Harvest of South Atlantic snappergrouper while in the SMZs in this paragraph (e) is permitted only by handline, rod and reel, and spearfishing gear. All harvest of South Atlantic snapper-grouper by spearfishing gear in the SMZs in this paragraph (e) is limited to the applicable recreational bag and possession limits in § 622.187. E:\FR\FM\16NOP1.SGM 16NOP1 73016 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 221 / Monday, November 16, 2020 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3 TO PARAGRAPH (e) Reef name AR–130 AR–140 AR–145 AR–220 AR–225 AR–230 AR–250 AR–255 AR–285 AR–300 AR–302 AR–305 AR–330 AR–340 AR–345 AR–355 AR–362 AR–366 AR–368 AR–372 AR–376 AR–382 AR–386 AR–400 AR–420 AR–440 AR–445 AR–455 AR–460 AR–465 North lat. ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................ (f) Additional SMZs off South Carolina. (1) The center of each SMZ in Table 4 to this paragraph (f) is located at the given point with a radius extending the applicable distance in every direction laterally from that point to form a circle around the center point. (2) Harvest of South Atlantic snappergrouper while in the SMZs in this paragraph (f) is permitted only by handline, rod and reel, and spearfishing gear (excludes a powerhead). All harvest of South Atlantic snapper-grouper by the allowable gear in the SMZs in this paragraph (f) is limited to the applicable recreational bag and possession limits in § 622.187. 36°00.296′ 35°56.718′ 35°54.017′ 35°08.117′ 35°06.768′ 35°06.133′ 34°56.900′ 34°55.483′ 34°33.383′ 34°18.517′ 34°10.265′ 34°16.683′ 34°33.634′ 34°34.319′ 34°32.266′ 34°21.318′ 34°15.657′ 34°12.950′ 34°09.514′ 34°06.295′ 34°03.283′ 33°58.581′ 33°57.517′ 33°29.267′ 33°51.050′ 33°49.800′ 33°44.783′ 33°47.033′ 33°50.089′ 33°23.423′ West long. 75°31.957′ 75°31.965′ 75°23.883′ 75°40.633′ 75°39.322′ 75°42.933′ 75°54.860′ 75°57.910′ 76°26.350′ 76°24.133′ 76°13.703′ 76°38.650′ 76°51.267′ 76°58.345′ 76°58.508′ 77°19.877′ 77°30.392′ 77°25.250′ 77°25.782′ 77°44.917′ 77°39.633′ 77°41.172′ 77°33.400′ 77°35.227′ 78°06.710′ 78°13.083′ 78°14.100′ 78°17.883′ 78°22.022′ 78°11.052′ Radius in ft (m) 1,500 1,500 1,500 3,000 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 3,000 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 (457) (457) (457) (914) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (914) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (457) (3) PA–04—Ron McManus Memorial Reef. This SMZ is bounded by lines connecting the following corner points: northwest corner point at 33°46.400′ N, 78°36.200′ W; northeast corner point at 33°46.400′ N, 78°35.600′ W; southeast corner point at 33°45.900′ N, 78°35.600′ W; and southwest corner point at 33°45.900′ N, 78°36.200′ W. TABLE 4 TO PARAGRAPH (f) Reef name North Lat. PA–07 Pop Nash ......................................................................................................................... PA–28 Lowcountry Anglers ......................................................................................................... PA–34 CCA-McClellanville .......................................................................................................... 33°34.510′ 32°34.300′ 32°51.800′ [FR Doc. 2020–24682 Filed 11–13–20; 8:45 am] jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Nov 13, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\16NOP1.SGM 16NOP1 West Long. 78°51.000′ 79°55.100′ 79°22.500′ Radius in ft (m) 600 (183) 600 (183) 600 (183)

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 221 (Monday, November 16, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 73013-73016]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-24682]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 201102-0285]
RIN 0648-BJ93


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Regulatory 
Amendment 34

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in 
Regulatory Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper 
FMP), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council (Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would 
create 34 special management zones (SMZs) around artificial reefs in 
the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off North Carolina and South 
Carolina. The purpose of this proposed rule is to designate new SMZs 
and to restrict fishing gear with greater potential to result in high 
exploitation rates. The restrictions are expected to reduce adverse 
effects to snapper-grouper species and enhance recreational fishing 
opportunities at these SMZs.

DATES: Written comments on the proposed rule must be received by 
December 16, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2020-0123,'' by either of the following methods:
     Electronic submission: Submit all electronic comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0123, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete 
the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, NMFS 
Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 
33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 34 to the Snapper-Grouper 
FMP (Regulatory Amendment 34) may be obtained from www.regulations.gov 
or the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-34-special-management-zones-smz. Regulatory Amendment 34 includes an environmental 
assessment, regulatory

[[Page 73014]]

impact review, and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RFA).

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the snapper-
grouper fishery under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. The Snapper-Grouper FMP 
was prepared by the Council and is implemented by NMFS through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) 
(16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).

Background

    The Council specified the SMZ designation process in 1983, and 
since that time SMZs have been designated in the EEZ off South 
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and as recently as in 2000. There are no 
SMZs designated off North Carolina currently. Twenty-eight artificial 
reef sites in the EEZ off South Carolina have been designated as SMZs 
since the 1980s. The purpose of the SMZ designation process, and the 
subsequent specification of SMZs, is to protect snapper-grouper 
populations at the relatively small artificial reef sites in the EEZ 
and to create fishing opportunities that would not otherwise exist 
without their designation. Prior to the SMZ designation process, for 
example, black sea bass pots were used by commercial fishermen to 
efficiently remove black sea bass from artificial reefs off South 
Carolina. At the time of the SMZ designation process, the Council 
determined that because artificial reefs sites are small in area 
(because of the limited amount of suitable reef-building material), the 
sites are vulnerable to overexploitation by more efficient fishing gear 
that has the potential to result in localized depletion. In addition, 
the Council wanted to enhance fishing opportunities for the 
recreational sector through the designation of SMZs. The Council has 
determined that the harvest and gear restrictions will increase the 
abundance and size of snapper-grouper species at the sites, thereby 
increasing available catch for fishermen, such as those fishing under 
recreational harvest limits.
    The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) and the 
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) requested that 
the Council designate artificial reefs located in the EEZ off their 
respective coasts as SMZs. Following a review of the requests, the 
Council developed Regulatory Amendment 34 that would create 34 new SMZs 
(30 off North Carolina and 4 off South Carolina). The Council 
determined that the proposed actions in Regulatory Amendment 34 would 
enhance the fishing experience at the artificial reef sites for 
recreational fishermen and that would further promote the original 
intent of North Carolina and South Carolina for placing the artificial 
reefs at the sites. The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 34 and this 
proposed rule is to designate these sites as SMZs and to restrict 
fishing gear that could result in high exploitation rates to reduce 
potential adverse biological effects to federally managed snapper-
grouper species and enhance recreational fishing opportunities at these 
sites.

Management Measures Contained in this Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would create SMZs in the EEZ off North Carolina 
and South Carolina. Authorized gear and harvest levels for snapper-
grouper species at these new SMZs would be specified to reduce 
potential adverse biological effects and enhance recreational fishing 
opportunities.

SMZs Off North Carolina

    There are currently no artificial reefs in the EEZ off North 
Carolina designated as SMZs. The proposed rule would designate 30 SMZs 
off North Carolina in the EEZ. The NCDMF requested that the Council 
designate 30 artificial reefs located in the EEZ off North Carolina as 
SMZs in a letter dated March 12, 2019. The 30 sites are existing 
artificial reefs permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposed 
SMZs would match the sizes of the permitted artificial reefs, and would 
range from 0.24 to 0.76 square nautical miles or 0.25 to 1.01 square 
miles (0.82 to 2.6 square km). The NCDMF letter also requested that 
within the SMZs all harvest of snapper-grouper species would be allowed 
only with handline, rod and reel, and spear. Further, in the proposed 
SMZs off North Carolina, all commercial and recreational harvest of 
snapper-grouper species by spear would be limited to the applicable, 
existing recreational bag limits, as requested by the NCDMF.

SMZs Off South Carolina

    There are currently 28 artificial reef sites in the EEZ off South 
Carolina that the Council has designated as SMZs. This proposed rule 
would designate four additional SMZs off the coast of South Carolina in 
the EEZ. The SCDNR requested that the Council designate additional 
artificial reefs located in the EEZ off the South Carolina as SMZs in a 
letter dated March 1, 2019. The four additional sites are existing 
artificial reefs permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposed 
SMZs would match the sizes of the permitted artificial reefs, and would 
range from 0.031 to 0.25 square nautical miles or 0.041 to 0.33 square 
miles (0.11 to 0.86 square km). The SCDNR letter also requested that 
within the SMZs all harvest of snapper-grouper species would be allowed 
only with handline, rod and reel, and spear in the SMZs. Further, in 
the proposed SMZs off South Carolina, all commercial and recreational 
harvest of snapper-grouper species would be limited to the applicable, 
existing recreational bag limits, as requested by the SCDNR. If 
implemented, these restrictions would match the regulations in the 
current SMZs off South Carolina.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Regulatory Amendment 34, the Snapper-Grouper FMP, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule is not an 
Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this proposed rule is 
not significant under Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual basis for this certification is as follows. A copy of the 
full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the 
legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this 
section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal 
rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting or record 
keeping compliance requirements are introduced in this proposed rule.
    This proposed rule directly affects small businesses that operate 
commercial fishing vessels that harvest

[[Page 73015]]

snapper-grouper species within the 30 proposed SMZs in the EEZ off 
North Carolina and the 4 proposed SMZs in the EEZ off South Carolina.
    Any commercial fishing vessel that harvests and sells snapper-
grouper from the South Atlantic EEZ must have a valid Federal 
commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper. It is expected 
that any of the federally permitted vessels that may harvest snapper-
grouper in any of the proposed SMZs land their catch in North Carolina 
or South Carolina.
    From 2014 through 2018, an annual average of 173 federally 
permitted vessels reported landing snapper-grouper in the Carolinas: 
120 in North Carolina and 53 in South Carolina. Average annual dockside 
revenue of the 120 permitted vessels that landed snapper-grouper in 
North Carolina was $42,619 (2018 dollars), and average annual dockside 
revenue of the 53 permitted vessels that landed snapper-grouper in 
South Carolina was $72,259 (2018 dollars). Those annual averages 
represent the baseline revenues of the directly affected vessels. An 
estimated 128 businesses operate these 173 federally permitted vessels.
    All of the businesses that operate the above federally permitted 
vessels are expected to operate primarily in the commercial fishing 
industry (NAICS code 11411). For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a 
small business size standard for businesses, including their 
affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (50 CFR 
200.2). A business primarily involved in the commercial fishing 
industry is classified as a small business if it is independently owned 
and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 
million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Examination of 
annual dockside revenues of the vessels owned by the businesses 
indicates the total annual revenue of each business to be less than $11 
million. Consequently, all of the estimated 128 businesses directly 
affected by the proposed action are classified as small.
    The proposed rule would designate 30 SMZs in the EEZ off North 
Carolina and 4 SMZs in the EEZ off South Carolina. Within the proposed 
SMZs, all harvest of snapper-grouper species would only be allowed with 
handline, rod and reel, and spear. Within the proposed SMZs off North 
Carolina, all harvest by spear would be limited to the applicable 
recreational bag limit, whereas within the proposed SMZs off South 
Carolina, all harvest would be limited to the applicable recreational 
bag limit.
    For the purpose of monitoring landings through the Coastal Logbook 
Program, NMFS divides the South Atlantic into statistical grids that 
follow lines of latitude and longitude. The maximum area of a reporting 
grid in the South Atlantic EEZ is 3,600 square nautical miles or 4,767 
square miles (12,347.6 square km) while grids closer to shore cover 
less area due to truncation of the water area by coastline.
    The proposed 30 SMZs in the EEZ off the North Carolina lie within 
seven statistical reporting grids and collectively those SMZs would 
cover 9 square nautical miles or 11.9 square miles (30.9 square km). 
That combined area represents approximately 0.25 percent of the 
combined areas of the seven statistical grids. The four proposed SMZs 
in the EEZ off South Carolina lie within two statistical reporting 
grids, collectively cover 0.45 square nautical miles or 0.6 square 
miles (1.5 square km), and represent approximately 0.0125 percent of 
the combined area of the two statistical reporting grids. Because of 
their very small size, there is insufficient information to determine 
precise numbers of landings of snapper-grouper that are harvested from 
the proposed SMZs.
    If the proportion of the area covered by the 30 proposed SMZs off 
North Carolina (0.25 percent) is consistent with the proportion of 
snapper-grouper landings in North Carolina, then on average 2,637 lb 
(1,196.1 kg) gutted weight of snapper-grouper with a dockside value of 
$9,223 (2018 dollars) are harvested from the 30 proposed SMZs annually. 
When divided across the 120 permitted vessels that landed snapper-
grouper annually in North Carolina, the 30 proposed SMZs would reduce 
annual landings by 22 lb (9.9 kg) gutted weight and reduce annual 
dockside revenue by $77 (2018 dollars). That reduction represents 0.18 
percent of the average annual revenue of those 120 permitted vessels.
    If the proportion of the area covered by the four proposed SMZs off 
South Carolina (0.0125 percent) is consistent with the proportion of 
snapper-grouper landings in South Carolina, then on average 111 lb 
(50.3 kg) gutted weight of snapper-grouper with a dockside value of 
$472 (2018 dollars) is harvested annually from the combined four 
proposed SMZs. When divided across the 53 permitted vessels that 
annually landed snapper-grouper in South Carolina, the four proposed 
SMZs would reduce annual landings by 2 lb (0.9 kg) gutted weight and 
annual dockside revenue by $9 (2018 dollars). That reduction represents 
0.012 percent of the average annual revenue of those 53 vessels.
    From those figures and percentages, it is expected that this 
proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on the 
average annual 128 commercial fishing businesses and their combined 173 
federally permitted fishing vessels that harvest snapper-grouper from 
the South Atlantic EEZ and make their landings in North Carolina and 
South Carolina. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Grouper, Snapper, South Atlantic.

    Dated: November 2, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.182, add paragraphs (e) and (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.182   Gear-restricted areas.

* * * * *
    (e) SMZs off North Carolina. (1) The center of each SMZ in Table 3 
to this paragraph (e) is located at the given point with a radius 
extending the applicable distance in every direction laterally from 
that point to form a circle around the center point.
    (2) Harvest of South Atlantic snapper-grouper while in the SMZs in 
this paragraph (e) is permitted only by handline, rod and reel, and 
spearfishing gear. All harvest of South Atlantic snapper-grouper by 
spearfishing gear in the SMZs in this paragraph (e) is limited to the 
applicable recreational bag and possession limits in Sec.  622.187.

[[Page 73016]]



                                            Table 3 to Paragraph (e)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Radius in ft
                            Reef name                               North lat.      West long.          (m)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AR-130..........................................................  36[deg]00.296'  75[deg]31.957'     1,500 (457)
AR-140..........................................................  35[deg]56.718'  75[deg]31.965'     1,500 (457)
AR-145..........................................................  35[deg]54.017'  75[deg]23.883'     1,500 (457)
AR-220..........................................................  35[deg]08.117'  75[deg]40.633'     3,000 (914)
AR-225..........................................................  35[deg]06.768'  75[deg]39.322'     1,500 (457)
AR-230..........................................................  35[deg]06.133'  75[deg]42.933'     1,500 (457)
AR-250..........................................................  34[deg]56.900'  75[deg]54.860'     1,500 (457)
AR-255..........................................................  34[deg]55.483'  75[deg]57.910'     1,500 (457)
AR-285..........................................................  34[deg]33.383'  76[deg]26.350'     1,500 (457)
AR-300..........................................................  34[deg]18.517'  76[deg]24.133'     1,500 (457)
AR-302..........................................................  34[deg]10.265'  76[deg]13.703'     1,500 (457)
AR-305..........................................................  34[deg]16.683'  76[deg]38.650'     1,500 (457)
AR-330..........................................................  34[deg]33.634'  76[deg]51.267'     3,000 (914)
AR-340..........................................................  34[deg]34.319'  76[deg]58.345'     1,500 (457)
AR-345..........................................................  34[deg]32.266'  76[deg]58.508'     1,500 (457)
AR-355..........................................................  34[deg]21.318'  77[deg]19.877'     1,500 (457)
AR-362..........................................................  34[deg]15.657'  77[deg]30.392'     1,500 (457)
AR-366..........................................................  34[deg]12.950'  77[deg]25.250'     1,500 (457)
AR-368..........................................................  34[deg]09.514'  77[deg]25.782'     1,500 (457)
AR-372..........................................................  34[deg]06.295'  77[deg]44.917'     1,500 (457)
AR-376..........................................................  34[deg]03.283'  77[deg]39.633'     1,500 (457)
AR-382..........................................................  33[deg]58.581'  77[deg]41.172'     1,500 (457)
AR-386..........................................................  33[deg]57.517'  77[deg]33.400'     1,500 (457)
AR-400..........................................................  33[deg]29.267'  77[deg]35.227'     1,500 (457)
AR-420..........................................................  33[deg]51.050'  78[deg]06.710'     1,500 (457)
AR-440..........................................................  33[deg]49.800'  78[deg]13.083'     1,500 (457)
AR-445..........................................................  33[deg]44.783'  78[deg]14.100'     1,500 (457)
AR-455..........................................................  33[deg]47.033'  78[deg]17.883'     1,500 (457)
AR-460..........................................................  33[deg]50.089'  78[deg]22.022'     1,500 (457)
AR-465..........................................................  33[deg]23.423'  78[deg]11.052'     1,500 (457)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (f) Additional SMZs off South Carolina. (1) The center of each SMZ 
in Table 4 to this paragraph (f) is located at the given point with a 
radius extending the applicable distance in every direction laterally 
from that point to form a circle around the center point.
    (2) Harvest of South Atlantic snapper-grouper while in the SMZs in 
this paragraph (f) is permitted only by handline, rod and reel, and 
spearfishing gear (excludes a powerhead). All harvest of South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper by the allowable gear in the SMZs in this paragraph (f) 
is limited to the applicable recreational bag and possession limits in 
Sec.  622.187.
    (3) PA-04--Ron McManus Memorial Reef. This SMZ is bounded by lines 
connecting the following corner points: northwest corner point at 
33[deg]46.400' N, 78[deg]36.200' W; northeast corner point at 
33[deg]46.400' N, 78[deg]35.600' W; southeast corner point at 
33[deg]45.900' N, 78[deg]35.600' W; and southwest corner point at 
33[deg]45.900' N, 78[deg]36.200' W.

                                            Table 4 to Paragraph (f)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Radius in ft
                            Reef name                               North Lat.      West Long.          (m)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PA-07 Pop Nash..................................................  33[deg]34.510'  78[deg]51.000'       600 (183)
PA-28 Lowcountry Anglers........................................  32[deg]34.300'  79[deg]55.100'       600 (183)
PA-34 CCA-McClellanville........................................  32[deg]51.800'  79[deg]22.500'       600 (183)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. 2020-24682 Filed 11-13-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P