Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 2021 Specifications, 73253-73257 [2020-25336]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Proposed Rules taxpayers to seek expedited consideration of ruling requests if they faced a compelling need related to COVID–19. Further supporting the relief from compliance and enforcement actions referenced above, the IRS continues to implement processes and procedures, consistent with the direction in section 6 of E.O. 13924, to promote fairness in administrative enforcement and adjudication. As part of its implementation of the Taxpayer First Act, Public Law 116–25, 133 Stat. 981 (TFA), the IRS adopted procedures designed to ensure the independence of the IRS Independent Office of Appeals (Appeals). Appeals is an independent function within the IRS that performs quasi-adjudicative functions by seeking to resolve a wide variety of disputes regarding enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code in a fair and impartial manner. See 26 U.S.C. 7803(e) (enacted by section 1001 of the TFA). These procedures, mandated by 26 U.S.C. 7803(e)(7)(A), provide most taxpayers with a copy of their administrative examination file prior to any hearing with Appeals. The IRS has also taken steps to ensure the independence of Appeals’ determinations by, whenever possible, providing legal advice to Appeals from attorneys in the Office of Chief Counsel working independently from those who may have assisted in developing the case. See 26 U.S.C. 7803(e)(5)(A)(ii). To encourage transparency in the administrative process even before a case reaches Appeals, the IRS created a ‘‘Respond Directly’’ program that directs employees to provide access to open case files without requiring taxpayers to file a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act. The IRS operates under an extensive regime of statutory provisions that ensure prompt and fair administrative enforcement. As required by section 1204 of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Public Law 105–206, 112 Stat. 685 (RRA ‘98), IRS employee performance metrics and compensation structures incentivize excellence, accuracy, integrity, efficiency, and fairness in the application of the law by prohibiting the use of records of tax enforcement results to evaluate employees. RRA ’98 also created new collection due process rights that provide notice to taxpayers and an opportunity for independent review by the Office of Appeals, as well as judicial review, of IRS enforcement decisions to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien or undertake a levy action. The IRS has also adopted principles that promote fair administrative VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 enforcement. In a ‘‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights,’’ 6 the IRS has outlined all of the rights provided in the Internal Revenue Code when dealing with the IRS, including the right to be informed, the right to challenge IRS determinations in an independent forum, and the right to a fair and just tax system. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is prominently displayed as part of IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, which is regularly included with IRS correspondence with taxpayers. The above is just a sample of the numerous actions taken by the IRS thus far to assist taxpayers affected by COVID–19. The IRS will continue to review all temporary actions taken in response to COVID–19, including those outlined above, to determine whether those actions should become permanent to promote economic recovery. The IRS also welcomes comments from taxpayers on additional measures that might assist those affected by the COVID–19 pandemic and further aid in the ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic. Dated: November 5, 2020. Sunita Lough, Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement. [FR Doc. 2020–25240 Filed 11–13–20; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4830–01–P 73253 This is a summary of the Commission’s document, Report No. 3159, released October 22, 2020. The full text of the Petition can be accessed online via the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System at: https://apps.fcc.gov/ ecfs/. The Commission will not send a Congressional Review Act (CRA) submission to Congress or the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the CRA, 5 U.S.C. 801 (a)(1)(A), because no rules are being adopted by the Commission. Subject: Implementation of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, FCC 20–100, published 85 FR 57767, September 16, 2020 in WC Docket No. 18–336. This document is being published pursuant to 47 CFR 1.429(e). See also 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1) and 1.429(f), (g). Number of Petitions Filed: 1. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary. [FR Doc. 2020–25247 Filed 11–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 52 [WC Docket No. 18–336; Report No. 3159; FRS 17236] Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Proceedings Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Petition for Reconsideration. AGENCY: Petition for Reconsideration (Petition) has been filed in the Commission’s proceeding by Patrick J. Whittle, on behalf of Communications Equality Advocates. DATES: Oppositions to the Petition must be filed on or before December 2, 2020. Replies to an opposition must be filed on or before December 14, 2020. ADDRESSES: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jamie McCoy, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418–2320. SUMMARY: 6 https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 [Docket No. 201110–0300; RTID 0648– XX006] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 2021 Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes revised 2021 specifications for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea fisheries. The implementing regulations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public comment. The proposed specifications are intended to establish allowable harvest levels for these species that will prevent overfishing, consistent with the most recent scientific information. DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 2, 2020. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 73254 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Proposed Rules You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2020–0149, by the following method: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200149, 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and 3. Enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are 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 the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the 2021 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass specifciations. Copies of the SIR are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The SIR is also accessible via the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/s/SF_ 2020-2021_specs_EA.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Keiley, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9116. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: General Background The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) outlines the Council’s process for establishing specifications. The FMP requires NMFS to set an acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits (RHL), and other management measures, for 1 to 3 years at a time. Projected 2021 specifications for summer flounder (84 FR 54041; October 9, 2019) and scup and black sea bass (85 FR 29345; May 15, 2020) were previously announced. This action proposes revisions to the 2021 ABC limits, as well as the recreational and commercial ACLs, ACTs, commercial quotas, and RHLs for all three species, consistent with the recommendations made by the Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board and Council at their joint August 2020 meeting. These revisions are primarily based on recent changes to the Council’s risk policy, which defines the acceptable risk of overfishing associated with an ABC. The revised risk policy allows for increased risk of overfishing under high stock biomass conditions compared to the previous risk policy. The change is greatest for stocks with biomass above the target level (BMSY). The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met on July 23, 2020, to review its previous recommendations for 2021 ABCs and to consider possible modifications in light of the new risk policy and other new information. No updated assessment models or biomass projections were available for these species. Therefore, no new stock status information was available. However, the SSC did consider data updates for each species including final 2019 fishery landings information and 2019 Federal trawl survey indices. The SSC also considered staff recommendations and recent fishery performance. The SSC can deviate from the currently implemented risk policy with sufficient justification, and in this case, the SSC was supportive of revising the ABCs consistent with the revised risk policy prior to these revisions being implemented in Federal regulations. The approval of the risk policy is being considered through a concurrent action (85 FR 71873; November 12, 2020). That action is expected to be finalized prior to our approval of these 2021 specifications. Proposed 2021 Specifications Summer Flounder Specifications For summer flounder, applying the revised risk policy, keeping all other relevant factors the same as previously adopted, results in an increase in the recommended 2021 ABC from 25.03 million lb (11,354 mt) to 27.11 million lb (12,297 mt). This represents an 8percent increase in the ABC and an increase in the probability of overfishing from 34 to 39 percent. Given the high biomass (healthy stock status) of summer flounder, the revised risk policy allows for a slightly increased risk of overfishing, which balances fishery access with the prevention of overfishing. Section 5.1 of the Council’s SIR provides information on how the revised ABC was calculated using the new risk policy. The resulting recommended catch and landings limits are shown in Table 1. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF 2021 SUMMER FLOUNDER FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS 2021 specifications Million lb OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACT ..................................................................................................................................................... Commercial Quota ................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACL ..................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACT .................................................................................................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ...................................................................................................................................... We are also developing a final rule to implement a new state-by-state allocation formula for the commercial summer flounder fishery, as described in Amendment 21 to the FMP (85 FR 48660; August 12, 2020). We approved VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 Amendment 21 on October 19, 2020. We anticipate publishing a final rule for Amendment 21 before we finalize these specifications, which would enable us to use the new allocation formula to set 2021 commercial state summer flounder PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31.67 27.11 14.63 14.63 12.49 12.48 12.48 8.32 mt 14,367 12,297 6,635 6,635 5,663 5,662 5,662 3,776 quotas prior to the start of the 2021 fishing year. However, because the timing is uncertain, this proposed rule includes initial state quotas based on both the current and revised allocation formulas. We intend to implement the E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Proposed Rules new commercial state summer flounder quotas, through the final rule if Amendment 21 is approved and effective prior to January 1, 2021. The initial 2021 state-by-state summer flounder quotas are provided in Table 2. The initial quotas are presented using the current allocation formula and the allocation formula that will be used if Amendment 21 is approved prior to the start of the 2021 fishing year. Through the final rule, prior to the start of the 73255 fishing year, we will announce any adjustments necessary to address any long-standing overages or potential 2020 overages to provide the states with their final quotas. TABLE 2—INITIAL 2021 SUMMER FLOUNDER STATE-BY-STATE QUOTAS Initial 2021 quotas * current allocations (lb) State Initial 2021 quotas * amendment 21 allocations (lb) Initial 2021 quotas * current allocations (mt) Initial 2021 quotas * amendment 21 allocations (mt) ME .................................................................................................................... NH .................................................................................................................... MA .................................................................................................................... RI ..................................................................................................................... CT .................................................................................................................... NY .................................................................................................................... NJ ..................................................................................................................... DE .................................................................................................................... MD ................................................................................................................... VA .................................................................................................................... NC .................................................................................................................... 5,940 57 851,875 1,958,804 281,909 955,109 2,088,951 2,222 254,684 2,662,463 3,427,985 14,342 9,844 1,015,179 1,861,550 579,376 1,094,113 1,961,062 11,499 558,559 2,399,576 2,984,903 2.69 0.03 386.40 888.50 127.87 433.23 947.53 1.01 115.52 1,207.67 1,554.91 6.51 4.47 460.48 844.38 262.80 496.28 889.52 5.22 253.36 1,088.43 1,353.93 Total .......................................................................................................... 12,490,000 12,490,000 5,665.37 5,665.37 * Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages. These allocations are based on the current allocation formula, and the allocation formula from Amendment 21. the Board and Council later this year when additional data are available for 2020. This action makes no changes to the current commercial management measures, including the minimum fish size (14 inch (36 cm) total length), gear requirements, and possession limits. Changes to 2021 recreational management measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) are not considered in this action, but will be considered by Scup Specifications Application of the revised risk policy to the 2021 scup OFL, keeping all other relevant factors the same, would result in the 2021 ABC increasing from 30.67 million lb (13,912 mt) to 34.81 million lb (15,790 mt). This represents a 13percent increase in the ABC. Section 5.2 of the Council’s SIR provides information on how the revised ABC was calculated using the new risk policy. The resulting recommended catch and landings limits are shown in Table 3. TABLE 3—SUMMARY OF 2021 SCUP FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS 2021 specifications Million lb OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACT ..................................................................................................................................................... Commercial Quota ................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACL ..................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACT .................................................................................................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ...................................................................................................................................... This action proposes no changes to the 2021 commercial management measures for scup, including the minimum fish size (9 inch (22.9 cm) total length), gear requirements, and quota period possession limits. Like summer flounder, potential changes to the recreational measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) for 2021 will be considered later this year when additional data are available for 2020. Black Sea Bass Specifications Application of the revised risk policy to 2021 black sea bass OFL, keeping all other relevant factors the same, would VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 result in the 2021 ABC increasing from 15.07 million lb (6,836 mt) to 17.45 million lb (7,915 mt), representing a 16percent increase. As specified in the FMP, 49 percent of the ABC that is expected to be landed is allocated to the commercial fishery and 51 percent is allocated to the recreational fishery. Expected discards in each sector are added to these amounts to derive commercial and recreational ACLs. The Council and Board recommended revisions to the method for calculating expected discards for black sea bass. The revised method is based on the PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35.30 34.81 27.15 27.15 20.50 7.66 7.66 6.07 mt 16,012 15,791 12,317 12,317 9,299 3,474 3,474 2,752 assumption that sector-specific discards, as a percentage of sector-specific catch, will be the same as the 2016–2018 average (i.e., commercial dead discards would account for 36 percent of commercial catch and recreational dead discards would account for 20 percent of recreational catch). This allows commercial discards to scale up with the increase in the quota, consistent with past trends in the fishery. The previously used method for calculating expected discards under-predicted actual discards in both sectors, contributing to commercial and E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 73256 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Proposed Rules recreational ACL overages in every year since 2015. The revised methodology reduces the likelihood of ACL overages. The resulting recommended catch and landings limits are shown in Table 4. This action proposes no changes to the 2021 commercial management measures for black sea bass, including the commercial minimum fish size (11 inch (27.94 cm) total length) and gear requirements. TABLE 4—SUMMARY OF 2021 BLACK SEA BASS SPECIFICATIONS 2021 specifications Million lb OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACT ..................................................................................................................................................... Commercial Quota ................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACL ..................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACT .................................................................................................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ...................................................................................................................................... This action proposes revisions to the projected state-by-state February black sea bass recreational fishery harvest. No changes to the management measures for the February fishery are being proposed. The harvest projections are being updated to incorporate the revised Marine Recreational Information Program data, but the overall estimation method would remain unchanged (Table 5). States that choose to participate in this optional opening must use these revised values when developing state waters management measures for the rest of the year. The purpose is to ensure their participation in this optional opening does not increase their annual recreational black mt 17.68 17.45 9.52 9.52 6.09 7.93 7.93 6.34 8,021 7,916 4,320 4,320 2,764 3,596 3,596 2,877 sea bass harvest in such a way as to result in an overage of the coastwide RHL. Changes to management measures for the overall recreational black sea bass fishery will be considered later this year when additional 2020 data is available. TABLE 5—RECREACTIONAL BLACK SEA BASS FEBRUARY HARVEST ESTIMATES USED FOR 2018–2020 AND THE PROPOSED 2021 ESTIMATES 2018–2020 harvest estimates (lb) State 2018–2020 harvest estimates (mt) Proposed harvest estimates (lb) Proposed harvest estimates (mt) RI ..................................................................................................................... CT .................................................................................................................... NY .................................................................................................................... NJ ..................................................................................................................... DE .................................................................................................................... MD ................................................................................................................... VA .................................................................................................................... NC .................................................................................................................... 288 57 9,410 82,850 1,297 541 5,496 62 0.13 0.03 4.27 37.58 0.59 0.24 2.49 0.03 1,146 158 41,871 405,913 6,418 2,227 24,891 1,369 0.52 0.07 18.99 184.12 2.91 1.01 11.29 0.62 Total .......................................................................................................... 100,000 45.36 483,993 219.54 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 the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule is exempt from review 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 The factual basis for this determination is as follows. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council conducted an evaluation of the potential socioeconomic impacts of the proposed measures in conjunction with a SIR. The proposed action would revise the catch and landings limits for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass in 2021 based on the recommendations of the SSC, the Council, and Board. The proposed 2021 specifications are an increase, for all three species, compared to the previously approved 2021 quotas, and are an increase for summer flounder and black sea bass compared to 2020 quotas. No changes to the Federal commercial fishery management measures are being proposed. Recreational fishery management PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 measures are developed in a separate action. Vessel ownership data were used to identify all individuals who own fishing vessels. Vessels were then grouped according to common owners. The resulting groupings were then treated as entities, or affiliates, for purposes of identifying small and large businesses which may be affected by this action. Affiliates were identified as primarily commercial fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2018 came from commercial fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held party/ charter permits. Affiliates were identified as primarily for-hire fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2018 came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held commercial permits. E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 222 / Tuesday, November 17, 2020 / Proposed Rules Based on this grouping, a total of 732 commercial affiliates reported revenue from summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass landings in at least one year during 2016–2018. Based on combined receipts in 2018, 725 (99 percent) of these commercial affiliates were classified as small businesses and 7 (1 percent) were classified as large businesses. A total of 286 affiliates were identified as small businesses which may be impacted by this action (i.e., they held summer flounder, scup and/ or black sea bass moratorium and/or forhire permits in 2016–2018) but reported no revenues from commercial or recreational fishing in 2018. These 286 affiliates are not discussed further. Regarding the for-hire fishery, a total of 389 affiliates generated revenues from recreational fishing in at least one year during 2016–2018. All of these affiliates were categorized as small businesses based on their 2018 revenues. It is not possible to determine the proportion of their revenues that came from fishing for an individual species. However, given the popularity of summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass as recreational species in the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, revenues VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:46 Nov 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 generated from these species are likely important for many of these firms at certain times of the year. The 725 potentially impacted small businesses had average total annual revenues of $432,470, and on average $50,899 (12 percent) of those annual revenues came from commercial landings of summer flounder, scup and/ or black sea bass during 2016–2018. The 7 potentially impacted large businesses had average total annual revenues of $17.4 million, and on average $426,859 (2 percent) of those annual revenues came from commercial landings of summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass during 2016–2018. The proposed 2021 specifications are an increase, for all three species, compared to the previously approved 2021 quotas, and are an increase for summer flounder and black sea bass compared to 2020 quotas. The proposed action for scup is expected to result in similar levels of commercial scup landings and revenues as over the past several years because commercial scup landings appear to be influenced more by market factors than the annual commercial quota. The proposed action for summer flounder and black sea bass PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 73257 is expected to have a moderate positive socioeconomic impact for all participants because it would allow for increased commercial landings and revenues. This action does not consider changes to recreational management measures. As result, this action is not expected to adversely impact revenues for commercial and recreational vessels that fish for summer flounder, scup, and, black sea bass. Because this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 12, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–25336 Filed 11–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\17NOP1.SGM 17NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 222 (Tuesday, November 17, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 73253-73257]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-25336]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 201110-0300; RTID 0648-XX006]


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder, 
Scup, and Black Sea Bass 2021 Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes revised 2021 specifications for the summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea fisheries. The implementing regulations 
for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management 
Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year 
for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public 
comment. The proposed specifications are intended to establish 
allowable harvest levels for these species that will prevent 
overfishing, consistent with the most recent scientific information.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 2, 2020.

[[Page 73254]]


ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2020-0149, by the following method:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0149,
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, 
and
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are 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 the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the 2021 
summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass specifciations. Copies of the 
SIR are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive 
Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North 
State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The SIR is also accessible via the 
internet at https://www.mafmc.org/s/SF_2020-2021_specs_EA.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Keiley, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9116.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

General Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively 
manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
outlines the Council's process for establishing specifications. The FMP 
requires NMFS to set an acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch 
limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, 
recreational harvest limits (RHL), and other management measures, for 1 
to 3 years at a time. Projected 2021 specifications for summer flounder 
(84 FR 54041; October 9, 2019) and scup and black sea bass (85 FR 
29345; May 15, 2020) were previously announced. This action proposes 
revisions to the 2021 ABC limits, as well as the recreational and 
commercial ACLs, ACTs, commercial quotas, and RHLs for all three 
species, consistent with the recommendations made by the Commission's 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board and Council at their 
joint August 2020 meeting. These revisions are primarily based on 
recent changes to the Council's risk policy, which defines the 
acceptable risk of overfishing associated with an ABC. The revised risk 
policy allows for increased risk of overfishing under high stock 
biomass conditions compared to the previous risk policy. The change is 
greatest for stocks with biomass above the target level 
(BMSY).
    The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met on July 23, 
2020, to review its previous recommendations for 2021 ABCs and to 
consider possible modifications in light of the new risk policy and 
other new information. No updated assessment models or biomass 
projections were available for these species. Therefore, no new stock 
status information was available. However, the SSC did consider data 
updates for each species including final 2019 fishery landings 
information and 2019 Federal trawl survey indices. The SSC also 
considered staff recommendations and recent fishery performance.
    The SSC can deviate from the currently implemented risk policy with 
sufficient justification, and in this case, the SSC was supportive of 
revising the ABCs consistent with the revised risk policy prior to 
these revisions being implemented in Federal regulations. The approval 
of the risk policy is being considered through a concurrent action (85 
FR 71873; November 12, 2020). That action is expected to be finalized 
prior to our approval of these 2021 specifications.

Proposed 2021 Specifications

Summer Flounder Specifications

    For summer flounder, applying the revised risk policy, keeping all 
other relevant factors the same as previously adopted, results in an 
increase in the recommended 2021 ABC from 25.03 million lb (11,354 mt) 
to 27.11 million lb (12,297 mt). This represents an 8-percent increase 
in the ABC and an increase in the probability of overfishing from 34 to 
39 percent. Given the high biomass (healthy stock status) of summer 
flounder, the revised risk policy allows for a slightly increased risk 
of overfishing, which balances fishery access with the prevention of 
overfishing. Section 5.1 of the Council's SIR provides information on 
how the revised ABC was calculated using the new risk policy. The 
resulting recommended catch and landings limits are shown in Table 1.

     Table 1--Summary of 2021 Summer Flounder Fishery Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           2021 specifications              Million lb          mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................           31.67          14,367
ABC.....................................           27.11          12,297
Commercial ACL..........................           14.63           6,635
Commercial ACT..........................           14.63           6,635
Commercial Quota........................           12.49           5,663
Recreational ACL........................           12.48           5,662
Recreational ACT........................           12.48           5,662
Recreational Harvest Limit..............            8.32           3,776
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are also developing a final rule to implement a new state-by-
state allocation formula for the commercial summer flounder fishery, as 
described in Amendment 21 to the FMP (85 FR 48660; August 12, 2020). We 
approved Amendment 21 on October 19, 2020. We anticipate publishing a 
final rule for Amendment 21 before we finalize these specifications, 
which would enable us to use the new allocation formula to set 2021 
commercial state summer flounder quotas prior to the start of the 2021 
fishing year. However, because the timing is uncertain, this proposed 
rule includes initial state quotas based on both the current and 
revised allocation formulas. We intend to implement the

[[Page 73255]]

new commercial state summer flounder quotas, through the final rule if 
Amendment 21 is approved and effective prior to January 1, 2021.
    The initial 2021 state-by-state summer flounder quotas are provided 
in Table 2. The initial quotas are presented using the current 
allocation formula and the allocation formula that will be used if 
Amendment 21 is approved prior to the start of the 2021 fishing year. 
Through the final rule, prior to the start of the fishing year, we will 
announce any adjustments necessary to address any long-standing 
overages or potential 2020 overages to provide the states with their 
final quotas.

                           Table 2--Initial 2021 Summer Flounder State-by-State Quotas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Initial 2021    Initial 2021    Initial 2021    Initial 2021
                                                     quotas *        quotas *        quotas *        quotas *
                      State                           current      amendment  21      current      amendment  21
                                                    allocations     allocations     allocations     allocations
                                                       (lb)            (lb)            (mt)            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ME..............................................           5,940          14,342            2.69            6.51
NH..............................................              57           9,844            0.03            4.47
MA..............................................         851,875       1,015,179          386.40          460.48
RI..............................................       1,958,804       1,861,550          888.50          844.38
CT..............................................         281,909         579,376          127.87          262.80
NY..............................................         955,109       1,094,113          433.23          496.28
NJ..............................................       2,088,951       1,961,062          947.53          889.52
DE..............................................           2,222          11,499            1.01            5.22
MD..............................................         254,684         558,559          115.52          253.36
VA..............................................       2,662,463       2,399,576        1,207.67        1,088.43
NC..............................................       3,427,985       2,984,903        1,554.91        1,353.93
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................      12,490,000      12,490,000        5,665.37        5,665.37
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages. These allocations are based on the current allocation
  formula, and the allocation formula from Amendment 21.

    This action makes no changes to the current commercial management 
measures, including the minimum fish size (14 inch (36 cm) total 
length), gear requirements, and possession limits. Changes to 2021 
recreational management measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) 
are not considered in this action, but will be considered by the Board 
and Council later this year when additional data are available for 
2020.

Scup Specifications

    Application of the revised risk policy to the 2021 scup OFL, 
keeping all other relevant factors the same, would result in the 2021 
ABC increasing from 30.67 million lb (13,912 mt) to 34.81 million lb 
(15,790 mt). This represents a 13-percent increase in the ABC. Section 
5.2 of the Council's SIR provides information on how the revised ABC 
was calculated using the new risk policy. The resulting recommended 
catch and landings limits are shown in Table 3.

          Table 3--Summary of 2021 Scup Fishery Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           2021 specifications              Million lb          mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................           35.30          16,012
ABC.....................................           34.81          15,791
Commercial ACL..........................           27.15          12,317
Commercial ACT..........................           27.15          12,317
Commercial Quota........................           20.50           9,299
Recreational ACL........................            7.66           3,474
Recreational ACT........................            7.66           3,474
Recreational Harvest Limit..............            6.07           2,752
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action proposes no changes to the 2021 commercial management 
measures for scup, including the minimum fish size (9 inch (22.9 cm) 
total length), gear requirements, and quota period possession limits. 
Like summer flounder, potential changes to the recreational measures 
(bag limits, size limits, and seasons) for 2021 will be considered 
later this year when additional data are available for 2020.

Black Sea Bass Specifications

    Application of the revised risk policy to 2021 black sea bass OFL, 
keeping all other relevant factors the same, would result in the 2021 
ABC increasing from 15.07 million lb (6,836 mt) to 17.45 million lb 
(7,915 mt), representing a 16-percent increase. As specified in the 
FMP, 49 percent of the ABC that is expected to be landed is allocated 
to the commercial fishery and 51 percent is allocated to the 
recreational fishery. Expected discards in each sector are added to 
these amounts to derive commercial and recreational ACLs. The Council 
and Board recommended revisions to the method for calculating expected 
discards for black sea bass. The revised method is based on the 
assumption that sector-specific discards, as a percentage of sector-
specific catch, will be the same as the 2016-2018 average (i.e., 
commercial dead discards would account for 36 percent of commercial 
catch and recreational dead discards would account for 20 percent of 
recreational catch). This allows commercial discards to scale up with 
the increase in the quota, consistent with past trends in the fishery. 
The previously used method for calculating expected discards under-
predicted actual discards in both sectors, contributing to commercial 
and

[[Page 73256]]

recreational ACL overages in every year since 2015. The revised 
methodology reduces the likelihood of ACL overages. The resulting 
recommended catch and landings limits are shown in Table 4. This action 
proposes no changes to the 2021 commercial management measures for 
black sea bass, including the commercial minimum fish size (11 inch 
(27.94 cm) total length) and gear requirements.

         Table 4--Summary of 2021 Black Sea Bass Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           2021 specifications              Million lb          mt
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................           17.68           8,021
ABC.....................................           17.45           7,916
Commercial ACL..........................            9.52           4,320
Commercial ACT..........................            9.52           4,320
Commercial Quota........................            6.09           2,764
Recreational ACL........................            7.93           3,596
Recreational ACT........................            7.93           3,596
Recreational Harvest Limit..............            6.34           2,877
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action proposes revisions to the projected state-by-state 
February black sea bass recreational fishery harvest. No changes to the 
management measures for the February fishery are being proposed. The 
harvest projections are being updated to incorporate the revised Marine 
Recreational Information Program data, but the overall estimation 
method would remain unchanged (Table 5). States that choose to 
participate in this optional opening must use these revised values when 
developing state waters management measures for the rest of the year. 
The purpose is to ensure their participation in this optional opening 
does not increase their annual recreational black sea bass harvest in 
such a way as to result in an overage of the coastwide RHL. Changes to 
management measures for the overall recreational black sea bass fishery 
will be considered later this year when additional 2020 data is 
available.

    Table 5--Recreactional Black Sea Bass February Harvest Estimates Used for 2018-2020 and the Proposed 2021
                                                    Estimates
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     2018-2020       2018-2020       Proposed        Proposed
                                                      harvest         harvest         harvest         harvest
                      State                          estimates       estimates       estimates       estimates
                                                       (lb)            (mt)            (lb)            (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RI..............................................             288            0.13           1,146            0.52
CT..............................................              57            0.03             158            0.07
NY..............................................           9,410            4.27          41,871           18.99
NJ..............................................          82,850           37.58         405,913          184.12
DE..............................................           1,297            0.59           6,418            2.91
MD..............................................             541            0.24           2,227            1.01
VA..............................................           5,496            2.49          24,891           11.29
NC..............................................              62            0.03           1,369            0.62
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................         100,000           45.36         483,993          219.54
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, 
Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 
and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public 
comment.
    This proposed rule is exempt from review 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 determination is as follows.
    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council conducted an evaluation 
of the potential socioeconomic impacts of the proposed measures in 
conjunction with a SIR. The proposed action would revise the catch and 
landings limits for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass in 2021 
based on the recommendations of the SSC, the Council, and Board. The 
proposed 2021 specifications are an increase, for all three species, 
compared to the previously approved 2021 quotas, and are an increase 
for summer flounder and black sea bass compared to 2020 quotas. No 
changes to the Federal commercial fishery management measures are being 
proposed. Recreational fishery management measures are developed in a 
separate action.
    Vessel ownership data were used to identify all individuals who own 
fishing vessels. Vessels were then grouped according to common owners. 
The resulting groupings were then treated as entities, or affiliates, 
for purposes of identifying small and large businesses which may be 
affected by this action. Affiliates were identified as primarily 
commercial fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2018 
came from commercial fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also 
held party/charter permits. Affiliates were identified as primarily 
for-hire fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2018 
came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held 
commercial permits.

[[Page 73257]]

    Based on this grouping, a total of 732 commercial affiliates 
reported revenue from summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass 
landings in at least one year during 2016-2018. Based on combined 
receipts in 2018, 725 (99 percent) of these commercial affiliates were 
classified as small businesses and 7 (1 percent) were classified as 
large businesses. A total of 286 affiliates were identified as small 
businesses which may be impacted by this action (i.e., they held summer 
flounder, scup and/or black sea bass moratorium and/or for-hire permits 
in 2016-2018) but reported no revenues from commercial or recreational 
fishing in 2018. These 286 affiliates are not discussed further.
    Regarding the for-hire fishery, a total of 389 affiliates generated 
revenues from recreational fishing in at least one year during 2016-
2018. All of these affiliates were categorized as small businesses 
based on their 2018 revenues. It is not possible to determine the 
proportion of their revenues that came from fishing for an individual 
species. However, given the popularity of summer flounder, scup, and 
black sea bass as recreational species in the Mid-Atlantic and southern 
New England, revenues generated from these species are likely important 
for many of these firms at certain times of the year.
    The 725 potentially impacted small businesses had average total 
annual revenues of $432,470, and on average $50,899 (12 percent) of 
those annual revenues came from commercial landings of summer flounder, 
scup and/or black sea bass during 2016-2018. The 7 potentially impacted 
large businesses had average total annual revenues of $17.4 million, 
and on average $426,859 (2 percent) of those annual revenues came from 
commercial landings of summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass 
during 2016-2018.
    The proposed 2021 specifications are an increase, for all three 
species, compared to the previously approved 2021 quotas, and are an 
increase for summer flounder and black sea bass compared to 2020 
quotas. The proposed action for scup is expected to result in similar 
levels of commercial scup landings and revenues as over the past 
several years because commercial scup landings appear to be influenced 
more by market factors than the annual commercial quota. The proposed 
action for summer flounder and black sea bass is expected to have a 
moderate positive socioeconomic impact for all participants because it 
would allow for increased commercial landings and revenues. This action 
does not consider changes to recreational management measures.
    As result, this action is not expected to adversely impact revenues 
for commercial and recreational vessels that fish for summer flounder, 
scup, and, black sea bass. Because this rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared.
    This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

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

    Dated: November 12, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-25336 Filed 11-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P