Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Snapper Management Measures, 73238-73240 [2020-24933]

Download as PDF 73238 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Rules and Regulations PART 92—MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703–712. 2. Amend § 92.31 by: a. Revising paragraph (b)(2); b. Adding a heading for paragraph (e); c. Revising the first sentence of paragraph (e) introductory text and adding a sentence following the first sentence; ■ d. Revising the introductory text of paragraph (g)(1), paragraph (g)(1)(iii), and introductory text of paragraph (g)(2); and ■ e. Redesignating paragraphs (g)(4) and (5) as paragraphs (g)(5) and (6) and adding a new paragraph (g)(4). The revisions and additions read as follows: ■ ■ ■ ■ § 92.31 Region-specific regulations. * * * * * (b) * * * (2) Closure: 30-day closure dates to be announced by the Service’s Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association of Village Council President’s Waterfowl Conservation Committee. This 30-day period will occur between May 15 and August 15 of each year. A press release announcing the actual closure dates will be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations. * * * * * (e) Kodiak Archipelago region. The Kodiak Island Roaded Area is open to the harvesting of migratory birds and their eggs by registration permit only as administered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence, in cooperation with the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak. No hunting or egg gathering for Arctic terns, Aleutian terns, mew gulls, and emperor geese is allowed for the Kodiak Island Roaded Area Registration Permit Hunt. * * * (g) * * * (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary northeast to Icy Cape, and everything west of longitude line 161°55′ W and south of latitude line 69°45′ N to the west bank of the Sagavanirktok River and south along the west bank to the North Slope regional boundary, then west to the beginning): * * * * * (iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Season: June 20–July 5. The open area consists of the coastline from the mean high-water line outward to the North Slope regional boundary to include open water and barrier islands from VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 southern Kasegaluk Lagoon from latitude line 69°16′ N to the north and east to longitude line 158°30′ W. (2) Northern Unit (From Icy Cape, everything east of longitude line 161°55′ W and north of latitude line 69°45′ N to the west bank of Sagavanirktok River and north to 71°): * * * * * (4) Annual 30-day closure periods in the Southern, Northern, and Eastern Units of the North Slope Region may differ from fixed dates (see unit-specific closure dates in paragraphs (g)(1) through (3) of this section) if environmental and biological conditions warrant such a change. After consultation with Service field biologists, the North Slope Borough (NSB) Department of Wildlife Management, and the NSB Fish and Game Management Committee, the Service’s Alaska Regional Director or his/her designee may announce closure dates that differ from those fixed dates. * * * * * George Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2020–24195 Filed 11–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 201103–0289] RIN 0648–BJ20 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Snapper Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures described in Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf)(FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council)(Amendment 51). This final rule revises the harvest levels for the gray snapper stock. In addition, Amendment 51 establishes and modifies status determination criteria for the stock. The purposes of Amendment 51 and this final rule are to end overfishing SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 of gray snapper and achieve optimum yield (OY). DATES: This final rule is effective December 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 51, which includes an environmental assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ amendment-51-establish-gray-snapperstatus-determination-criteria-andmodify-annual-catch. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: peter.hood@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gray snapper, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On February 28, 2020, NMFS published a notice of availability for Amendment 51 and requested public comment (85 FR 11937). NMFS approved Amendment 51 on May 18, 2020. On July 6, 2020, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 51 and requested public comment (85 FR 40181). The proposed rule and Amendment 51 outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management measures described in Amendment 51 and implemented by this final rule is described below. Unless otherwise noted, all weights in this proposed rule are in round weight. Background Gray snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are managed as a single stock with a stock annual catch limit (ACL), and a stock annual catch target (ACT). There is no allocation of the stock ACL between the commercial and recreational sectors. Generally, the fishing season is open year-round, January 1 through December 31. However, accountability measures (AMs) for gray snapper specify that if commercial and recreational landings exceed the stock ACL in a fishing year, then during the following fishing year if the stock ACL is reached or is projected to be reached, the commercial and recreational sectors will be closed for the remainder of the fishing year. The gray snapper ACL and AMs were implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044; E:\FR\FM\17NOR1.SGM 17NOR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Rules and Regulations December 29, 2011) and the stock ACL of 2.42 million lb (1.1 million kg) was not exceeded between 2012 and 2019. However, landings in 2014 and 2016 did exceed the new ACLs being implemented through this final rule. In 2018, the stock status of gray snapper was evaluated for the first time through a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 51). The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviewed SEDAR 51 and accepted the assessment as the best scientific information available. The SSC determined that the stock is undergoing overfishing as of 2015, which was the last year of data included in the assessment, because the fishing mortality rate (F) exceeded the current maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT). The SSC was not able to determine whether the stock is overfished, because the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for gray snapper were not specified in the FMP at that time. SEDAR 51 could not estimate the actual MSY with the best scientific information available. Therefore, the Council considered alternatives for an MSY proxy that uses the spawning potential ratio (SPR). The SPR is the ratio of the average number of eggs per fish over its lifetime when the stock is fished compared to the same value when the stock is not fished. The SPR assumes that a certain amount of fish must survive and spawn in order to replenish the stock. The Council selected the yield when fishing at F26%SPR for an MSY proxy to balance protection of the gray snapper stock with an increase in social and economic benefits for fishers targeting the species that is expected to result from allowing more harvest. The SSC recognized that this proxy is scientifically acceptable and this proxy is consistent with the MSY proxy for Gulf red snapper. As a result of the increasing uncertainty with long-range projections, the SSC only provided overfishing limit (OFL) and acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendations for the gray snapper stock through 2021. From SEDAR 51, the OFLs associated with the MSY proxy selected by the Council are 2.58 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2020, and 2.57 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2021, and the ABCs recommended by the SSC are 2.51 million lb (1.14 million kg) for 2020 and subsequent years. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule This final rule revises the ACL for the Gulf gray snapper stock, and removes the ACT. Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Target The current ACL for gray snapper is 2.42 million lb (1.1 million kg) and was established based on average landings from 1999 through 2008. The current ACT is set 14 percent below the ACL, at 2.08 million lb. To determine the new ACLs, the Council used its ACL/ACT control rule to determine whether to apply a buffer to the ABC recommendations to account for management uncertainty. The results indicated that an 11 percent buffer is appropriate. When applied to the 2020– 2021 ABC recommendations, the resulting gray snapper stock ACLs in this final rule are 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg) for 2021, and subsequent years. The Council decided to remove the ACT for gray snapper because it has not been used for management since its implementation in 2012. Management Measures Contained in Amendment 51 But Not Codified in This Final Rule Amendment 51 modifies the OFL and ABC for the gray snapper stock as previously explained. Amendment 51 also modifies the MFMT and specifies the MSY, MSST, and OY for the stock. NMFS uses the MSST and MFMT to determine whether a stock is overfished or undergoing overfishing, respectively. If the stock biomass falls below the MSST, then the stock is considered overfished and the Council would then need to develop a rebuilding plan capable of returning the stock to a level that allows the stock to achieve MSY on a continuing basis. In years when there is a stock assessment, if fishing mortality exceeds the MFMT, a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing, because this level of fishing mortality, if continued, would reduce the stock biomass to an overfished condition. In years in which there is no assessment, overfishing occurs if landings exceed the OFL. Amendment 51 set the MSY proxy as the yield when fishing at F26%SPR. MFMT was changed from F30%SPR to F26%SPR, and the MSST is 50 percent of the biomass at MSY or the MSY proxy. The OY is the yield when fishing at 90 percent of FMSY (or MSY proxy). As noted previously, under the current MFMT, overfishing was occurring as of PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 73239 2015. Under the new MFMT of F26%SPR, projections from SEDAR 51 suggest that overfishing ended in 2017. Under the new MSST, the stock is not overfished. Comments and Responses NMFS received 11 comments on the notice of availability and 9 comments on the proposed rule for Amendment 51. The majority of the comments supported actions in the proposed rule and Amendment 51. Some comments supporting the action suggested that additional management measures are necessary to protect the stock, such as reducing the recreational bag limit and increasing the minimum size limit. Comments specific to Amendment 51 and the proposed rule are grouped as appropriate and summarized below, each followed by the response. Comment 1: Further restrictions are needed to protect the gray snapper stock beyond the actions in Amendment 51. These include reducing the recreational bag limit and increasing the stock minimum size limit. Response: NMFS disagrees that additional management measures, such as reduced bag limits and increased minimum size limits, are needed at this time to further protect the gray snapper stock. The ACLs established through this final rule are reduced from the Council’s SSC ABC recommendation by 11 percent and are consistent with achieving OY. As previously noted, landings between 2012 and 2019 have not exceeded the applicable ACL, but landings in 2014 and 2016 were greater than the ACLs being implemented through this final rule. If the ACL is exceeded, the AM for gray snapper requires that NMFS monitor landings the following year and close the recreational and commercial sectors if landings are projected to reach the ACL. Further, the National Standard 1 Guidelines provide that, if catch exceeds the ACL more than once in the last 4 years, the system of ACLs and AMs should be reevaluated, and modified if necessary to improve its performance and effectiveness. The Council could also consider whether additional management measures such as revising the recreational bag limit and the minimum size limits, are necessary. Comment 2: Because Amendment 51 does not consider gray snapper bycatch from the Gulf shrimp trawl fishery, the basis for the proposed measures is flawed. Response: Gray snapper bycatch, including that from the shrimp trawl fishery, was examined in the SEDAR 51 stock assessment, which the Council’s SSC accepted as the best scientific information available. The members of E:\FR\FM\17NOR1.SGM 17NOR1 73240 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Rules and Regulations the SEDAR 51 data workshop concluded that gray snapper bycatch estimates from the shrimp fishery were inconsequential. As a result, shrimp trawl bycatch data were excluded from the assessment model and were not considered in Amendment 51. Comment 3: No further regulations related to the harvest of gray snapper are necessary because the current regulations are adequate to protect the gray snapper stock. Response: NMFS disagrees. The Council’s SSC reviewed the results of SEDAR 51, accepted the assessment as the best scientific information available, and recommended new OFLs and ABCs. Consistent with National Standards 1 and 2, the Council took action to update the gray snapper catch levels and determined that it is appropriate to have an 11 percent buffer between the ACL and ABC to account for management uncertainty and reduce the likelihood of overfishing. This final rule does not change any other regulations for gray snapper fishing, such as the recreational bag limit or the minimum size limit. Comment 4: The reduction in the gray snapper ACL is not fair and reasonable because it favors the commercial sector. Response: NMFS disagrees that the gray snapper management measures implemented through this final rule favor the commercial sector over the recreational sector. Gray snapper are managed using a stock ACL that is not allocated between the commercial and recreational sectors. Thus, each sector has an equal opportunity to harvest gray snapper, and the recreational harvest of gray snapper has been much greater than the commercial harvest. The most recent 5 years of landings data used in Amendment 51 (2013–2017) indicate that recreational landings were between VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 1.836 and 2.203 million lb (0.833 and 0.999 million kg) while commercial landings were between 0.136 and 0.200 million lb (0.062 and 0.091 million kg). Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law. This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This final rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because this action is not significant under E.O. 12866. 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 or recordkeeping compliance requirements are introduced in this final rule. This final rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments from the public were received regarding this certification. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray snapper, Gulf, Reef fish. Dated: November 3, 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 § 622.41, revise paragraph (l) to read as follows: ■ § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (l) Gray snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. The stock ACL for gray snapper, in round weight, is 2.24 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 million lb (1.01 million kg) for the 2021 and subsequent fishing years. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–24933 Filed 11–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\17NOR1.SGM 17NOR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 222 (Tuesday, November 17, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73238-73240]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-24933]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 201103-0289]
RIN 0648-BJ20


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

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

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

DATES: This final rule is effective December 17, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 51, which includes an 
environmental assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory 
Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be 
obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-51-establish-gray-snapper-status-determination-criteria-and-modify-annual-catch.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef 
fish fishery, which includes gray snapper, under the FMP. The Council 
prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 
CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On February 28, 2020, NMFS published a notice of availability for 
Amendment 51 and requested public comment (85 FR 11937). NMFS approved 
Amendment 51 on May 18, 2020. On July 6, 2020, NMFS published a 
proposed rule for Amendment 51 and requested public comment (85 FR 
40181). The proposed rule and Amendment 51 outline the rationale for 
the actions contained in this final rule. A summary of the management 
measures described in Amendment 51 and implemented by this final rule 
is described below.
    Unless otherwise noted, all weights in this proposed rule are in 
round weight.

Background

    Gray snapper in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are managed 
as a single stock with a stock annual catch limit (ACL), and a stock 
annual catch target (ACT). There is no allocation of the stock ACL 
between the commercial and recreational sectors. Generally, the fishing 
season is open year-round, January 1 through December 31. However, 
accountability measures (AMs) for gray snapper specify that if 
commercial and recreational landings exceed the stock ACL in a fishing 
year, then during the following fishing year if the stock ACL is 
reached or is projected to be reached, the commercial and recreational 
sectors will be closed for the remainder of the fishing year. The gray 
snapper ACL and AMs were implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044;

[[Page 73239]]

December 29, 2011) and the stock ACL of 2.42 million lb (1.1 million 
kg) was not exceeded between 2012 and 2019. However, landings in 2014 
and 2016 did exceed the new ACLs being implemented through this final 
rule.
    In 2018, the stock status of gray snapper was evaluated for the 
first time through a Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review benchmark 
stock assessment (SEDAR 51). The Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee (SSC) reviewed SEDAR 51 and accepted the assessment as the 
best scientific information available. The SSC determined that the 
stock is undergoing overfishing as of 2015, which was the last year of 
data included in the assessment, because the fishing mortality rate (F) 
exceeded the current maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT). The 
SSC was not able to determine whether the stock is overfished, because 
the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and minimum stock size threshold 
(MSST) for gray snapper were not specified in the FMP at that time.
    SEDAR 51 could not estimate the actual MSY with the best scientific 
information available. Therefore, the Council considered alternatives 
for an MSY proxy that uses the spawning potential ratio (SPR). The SPR 
is the ratio of the average number of eggs per fish over its lifetime 
when the stock is fished compared to the same value when the stock is 
not fished. The SPR assumes that a certain amount of fish must survive 
and spawn in order to replenish the stock. The Council selected the 
yield when fishing at F26SPR for an MSY 
proxy to balance protection of the gray snapper stock with an increase 
in social and economic benefits for fishers targeting the species that 
is expected to result from allowing more harvest. The SSC recognized 
that this proxy is scientifically acceptable and this proxy is 
consistent with the MSY proxy for Gulf red snapper.
    As a result of the increasing uncertainty with long-range 
projections, the SSC only provided overfishing limit (OFL) and 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) recommendations for the gray snapper 
stock through 2021. From SEDAR 51, the OFLs associated with the MSY 
proxy selected by the Council are 2.58 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 
2020, and 2.57 million lb (1.17 million kg) for 2021, and the ABCs 
recommended by the SSC are 2.51 million lb (1.14 million kg) for 2020 
and subsequent years.

Management Measure Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule revises the ACL for the Gulf gray snapper stock, 
and removes the ACT.

Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Target

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

Management Measures Contained in Amendment 51 But Not Codified in This 
Final Rule

    Amendment 51 modifies the OFL and ABC for the gray snapper stock as 
previously explained. Amendment 51 also modifies the MFMT and specifies 
the MSY, MSST, and OY for the stock. NMFS uses the MSST and MFMT to 
determine whether a stock is overfished or undergoing overfishing, 
respectively. If the stock biomass falls below the MSST, then the stock 
is considered overfished and the Council would then need to develop a 
rebuilding plan capable of returning the stock to a level that allows 
the stock to achieve MSY on a continuing basis. In years when there is 
a stock assessment, if fishing mortality exceeds the MFMT, a stock is 
considered to be undergoing overfishing, because this level of fishing 
mortality, if continued, would reduce the stock biomass to an 
overfished condition. In years in which there is no assessment, 
overfishing occurs if landings exceed the OFL.
    Amendment 51 set the MSY proxy as the yield when fishing at 
F26SPR. MFMT was changed from 
F30SPR to 
F26SPR, and the MSST is 50 percent of the 
biomass at MSY or the MSY proxy. The OY is the yield when fishing at 90 
percent of FMSY (or MSY proxy). As noted previously, under 
the current MFMT, overfishing was occurring as of 2015. Under the new 
MFMT of F26SPR, projections from SEDAR 51 
suggest that overfishing ended in 2017. Under the new MSST, the stock 
is not overfished.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received 11 comments on the notice of availability and 9 
comments on the proposed rule for Amendment 51. The majority of the 
comments supported actions in the proposed rule and Amendment 51. Some 
comments supporting the action suggested that additional management 
measures are necessary to protect the stock, such as reducing the 
recreational bag limit and increasing the minimum size limit.
    Comments specific to Amendment 51 and the proposed rule are grouped 
as appropriate and summarized below, each followed by the response.
    Comment 1: Further restrictions are needed to protect the gray 
snapper stock beyond the actions in Amendment 51. These include 
reducing the recreational bag limit and increasing the stock minimum 
size limit.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that additional management measures, such 
as reduced bag limits and increased minimum size limits, are needed at 
this time to further protect the gray snapper stock. The ACLs 
established through this final rule are reduced from the Council's SSC 
ABC recommendation by 11 percent and are consistent with achieving OY. 
As previously noted, landings between 2012 and 2019 have not exceeded 
the applicable ACL, but landings in 2014 and 2016 were greater than the 
ACLs being implemented through this final rule. If the ACL is exceeded, 
the AM for gray snapper requires that NMFS monitor landings the 
following year and close the recreational and commercial sectors if 
landings are projected to reach the ACL. Further, the National Standard 
1 Guidelines provide that, if catch exceeds the ACL more than once in 
the last 4 years, the system of ACLs and AMs should be reevaluated, and 
modified if necessary to improve its performance and effectiveness. The 
Council could also consider whether additional management measures such 
as revising the recreational bag limit and the minimum size limits, are 
necessary.
    Comment 2: Because Amendment 51 does not consider gray snapper 
bycatch from the Gulf shrimp trawl fishery, the basis for the proposed 
measures is flawed.
    Response: Gray snapper bycatch, including that from the shrimp 
trawl fishery, was examined in the SEDAR 51 stock assessment, which the 
Council's SSC accepted as the best scientific information available. 
The members of

[[Page 73240]]

the SEDAR 51 data workshop concluded that gray snapper bycatch 
estimates from the shrimp fishery were inconsequential. As a result, 
shrimp trawl bycatch data were excluded from the assessment model and 
were not considered in Amendment 51.
    Comment 3: No further regulations related to the harvest of gray 
snapper are necessary because the current regulations are adequate to 
protect the gray snapper stock.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. The Council's SSC reviewed the results of 
SEDAR 51, accepted the assessment as the best scientific information 
available, and recommended new OFLs and ABCs. Consistent with National 
Standards 1 and 2, the Council took action to update the gray snapper 
catch levels and determined that it is appropriate to have an 11 
percent buffer between the ACL and ABC to account for management 
uncertainty and reduce the likelihood of overfishing. This final rule 
does not change any other regulations for gray snapper fishing, such as 
the recreational bag limit or the minimum size limit.
    Comment 4: The reduction in the gray snapper ACL is not fair and 
reasonable because it favors the commercial sector.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that the gray snapper management measures 
implemented through this final rule favor the commercial sector over 
the recreational sector. Gray snapper are managed using a stock ACL 
that is not allocated between the commercial and recreational sectors. 
Thus, each sector has an equal opportunity to harvest gray snapper, and 
the recreational harvest of gray snapper has been much greater than the 
commercial harvest. The most recent 5 years of landings data used in 
Amendment 51 (2013-2017) indicate that recreational landings were 
between 1.836 and 2.203 million lb (0.833 and 0.999 million kg) while 
commercial landings were between 0.136 and 0.200 million lb (0.062 and 
0.091 million kg).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable law.
    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866. This final rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory 
action because this action is not significant under E.O. 12866.
    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 or recordkeeping 
compliance requirements are introduced in this final rule. This final 
rule contains no information collection requirements under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments from the public 
were received regarding this certification. As a result, a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

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

    Dated: November 3, 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.  622.41, revise paragraph (l) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (l) Gray snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational 
landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, then during 
the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational 
landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that 
fishing year. The stock ACL for gray snapper, in round weight, is 2.24 
million lb (1.02 million kg) for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 
million lb (1.01 million kg) for the 2021 and subsequent fishing years.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-24933 Filed 11-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P