Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Increase in Sector Carryover of 2019 Annual Catch Entitlements and Carryover of Unused Leased-In Days-at-Sea by Common Pool Vessels, 86849-86853 [2020-28898]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2020 / Rules and Regulations or technical information relevant to analyzing potential regulatory alternatives; (iii) Requests public comment on the available data, benefits, and costs with respect to regulatory alternatives reasonably likely to be considered as part of the rulemaking; and (iv) Requests public comment on available alternatives to regulation; or (2) Proceed with a negotiated rulemaking. (c) Paragraph (b) of this section does not apply to a proposed rule if the Administrator, for good cause, finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief statement of reasons for such finding in the proposed or final rule) that an advance notice of proposed rulemaking is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. A proposed rule subject to paragraph (b) of this section should also be evaluated to determine the applicability of 49 CFR 5.17. § 389.15 [Amended] 5. The title of § 389.15 and paragraphs (a) and (b)(1) are revised by removing the term ‘‘rule making’’ and replacing it with the term ‘‘rulemaking.’’ ■ 6. Revise § 389.21 to read as follows: ■ § 389.21 Submission of written comments. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES (a) You may submit comments identified by the docket number provided in the rulemaking document using any of the following methods. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. (2) Mail: Dockets Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–0001. (3) Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12– 140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. (4) Fax: (202) 493–2251. (b) All written comments must be submitted in English and include copies of any material that the commenter refers to within the comment. ■ 7. Revise § 389.29 to read as follows: § 389.29 Adoption of final rules. Final rules are prepared by representatives from all relevant offices of FMCSA. The final rule is then submitted to the Administrator for his/ her consideration and forwarded, as necessary, to the Office of the Secretary VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 Dec 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 for review and approval. Once approved by the Office of the Secretary, and, if necessary, by the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the final rule is signed by the Administrator. All final rules must be published in the Federal Register, unless all persons subject to the final rule are named and personally served with a copy of it. ■ 8. Revise § 389.31 to read as follows: § 389.31 Petitions for rulemaking. (a) Any interested person may petition the Administrator to establish, amend, interpret, clarify, or withdraw a rule. (b) Each petition filed under this section must: (1) Be submitted in writing by mail to the Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590–0001 or electronically at www.regulations.gov, using the general petitions for rulemaking docket listed on FMCSA’s website at www.FMCSA.gov. (2) Set forth the text or substance of the rule or amendment proposed, or specify the rule that the petitioner seeks to have interpreted, clarified or withdrawn, as the case may be; (3) Explain the interest of the petitioner in the action requested; (4) Contain any information, data, research studies, and arguments available to the petitioner to support the action sought. ■ 9. Revise § 389.35 paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 389.35 Petitions for reconsideration. (a) Any interested person may petition the Administrator for reconsideration of any rule issued under this part. The petition for reconsideration must be in English and submitted to the Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590–0001, or electronically submitted using the docket for the rulemaking at www.regulations.gov, and received not later than thirty (30) days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Petitions for reconsideration filed after that time will be considered as petitions for rulemakings filed under § 389.31 of this part. The petition for reconsideration must contain a brief statement of the complaint and an explanation as to why compliance with the rule is not practicable, is unreasonable, or is not in the public interest. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 86849 Issued under authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.87. James W. Deck, Deputy Administrator. [FR Doc. 2020–27854 Filed 12–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 201222–0352] RIN 0648–BK16 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Increase in Sector Carryover of 2019 Annual Catch Entitlements and Carryover of Unused Leased-In Daysat-Sea by Common Pool Vessels National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action. AGENCY: This temporary rule implements emergency measures under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to revise portions of the fishing year 2019 carryover provisions in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan into fishing year 2020. This action is necessary to address an emergency presenting conservation and management plans to the fishery. This action is intended to mitigate economic harm to the Northeast multispecies fishery participants by providing the opportunity to use sector Annual Catch Entitlement and unused leased-in Days-at-Sea that would have otherwise may have gone unused. DATES: This action is effective December 31, 2020, through June 29, 2021. Comments must be received by February 1, 2021. ADDRESSES: For this action, NMFS developed a Supplemental Impact Report (SIR) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Framework Adjustment 59 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that describes the measures in this temporary rule. Copies of the SIR and the Regulatory Impact Review of this rulemaking are available on the internet at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/newengland-mid-atlantic. You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2020–0162, by the following method: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 86850 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2020 / Rules and Regulations • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200162 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and 3. Enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 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). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Spencer Talmage, Fishery Management Specialist, phone: 978–281–9232; email: Spencer.Talmage@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Background At the end of fishing year 2019, the Northeast Multispecies fishery experienced significant unexpected economic harm from the effects of state health and travel restrictions due to COVID–19, in combination with disruptions to fishery markets, which resulted in reduced prices for groundfish and a limitation of fishing opportunity. Because these impacts occurred at the end of the fishing year, this loss of fishing opportunity prevented or limited industry participants from capitalizing on investments in quota and Days-at-Sea (DAS) prior to the start of the new fishing year on May 1, 2020. On July 2, 2020, the New England Fishery Management Council sent NMFS a letter requesting an emergency action to mitigate these significant adverse economic impacts to the groundfish fishery. The Council recommended that through an emergency action, NMFS should: • Allow sectors to carry over more than 10 percent of their unused fishing year 2019 Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) into fishing year 2020 for Gulf of Maine (GOM) haddock, Georges Bank (GB) haddock, American plaice, and witch flounder; • Allow common pool vessels to carryover unused leased-in DAS from fishing year 2019 to fishing year 2020; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 Dec 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 • Allow de minimis carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE to be more than one percent of the fishing year 2020 sector sub-ACL for all stocks with carryover; and • Reopen the post-year sector ACE trading window for fishing year 2019. After considering the Council’s request, NMFS is implementing some, but not all, of the requested emergency action provisions. For the reasons outlined below as justification for an emergency action, this action increases maximum carryover of fishing year 2019 sector ACE for GOM haddock, GB haddock, and American plaice and allows for unused leased-in DAS to be carried over from fishing year 2019 into fishing year 2020 by common pool vessels. This action does not increase maximum carryover of fishing year 2019 sector ACE for witch flounder, increase de minimis carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE, or reopen the post-year sector ACE trading window for fishing year 2019. ACE Carryover Carryover regulations at 50 CFR 648.87(b)(1)(i)(C) allow each groundfish sector to carry over an amount of unused ACE equal to 10 percent of the sector’s original ACE for each stock (except for GB yellowtail flounder) that is unused at the end of the fishing year into the following fishing year. However, the total unused sector ACE being carried over, plus the overall ACL, cannot exceed the ABC for the following year. If this were to occur, sector carryover provisions require us to adjust the maximum ACE carryover down from 10 percent to an amount that prevents total potential catch from exceeding the ABC. The final adjustment to the maximum carryover possible for each sector is based on final fishing year catch for the sectors and each sector’s total unused allocation; and is proportional to the cumulative Percent Sector Contributions of permits participating in the sector. This action revises the ACE carryover regulations to increase the maximum amount of ACE for GOM haddock, GB haddock, and American plaice that may be carried over by groundfish sectors from fishing year 2019 into fishing year 2020. The maximum amount of unused 2019 sector ACE for these stocks carried over into fishing year 2020 will not allow catch to exceed the 2020 ABC for each stock (i.e., the 2020 ABC will be equal to the overall ACL plus the maximum carryover number). The revised carryover cap is a percentage of each sector’s original ACE for each stock (Table 1). PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 TABLE 1—MAXIMUM SECTOR ACE CARRYOVER FROM 2019 TO 2020 Stock GB haddock .......................... GOM haddock ...................... American Plaice .................... Total carryover available (percent of initial 2019 ACE) 12.6 13.7 11.3 This action does not make any changes to the sector ACE carryover provisions for witch flounder. Witch flounder is overfished, in a rebuilding plan, and has an unknown overfishing status and Overfishing Limit (OFL). The July 2020 National Standard 1 Technical Guidance for Designing, Evaluating, and Implementing Carry-over and Phase-in Provisions does not recommend applying carryover or phase-in provisions for stocks that have an unspecified OFL. Though carryover of ACE for witch flounder is already permitted by the sector implementing regulations, increasing the maximum amount of carryover for the stock above 10 percent would increase risk of overfishing. Carryover of Unused Leased-In DAS by Common Pool Vessels DAS carryover regulations at § 648.82(a)(1) allow limited access vessels that have unused, unleased DAS available at the end of a fishing year to carry over a maximum of 10 DAS into the following fishing year. These measures are intended to promote safety by reducing risk and increasing flexibility while not compromising the conservation impact of the DAS program. The regulations at § 648.82(a)(1) and (k)(4)(iii) do not allow us to adjust the maximum DAS carryover, nor do they authorize us to allow the carryover of unused leased-in DAS. This action revises the DAS carryover regulations to allow common pool vessels with unused leased-in DAS at the end of fishing year 2019 to carry those DAS into fishing year 2020, even if doing so would result in a vessel carrying over more than 10 DAS into the fishing year. This action does not revise the regulations to allow any additional carryover of unused allocated DAS. De Minimis Carryover Regulations at § 648.87(b)(1)(i)(C)(2) set de minimis carryover at one percent of the overall sector sub-ACL in the fishing year in which carryover would be harvested. If the overall ACL for a particular stock is exceeded, the E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES allowed carryover, minus the de minimis amount, would be counted against the sector’s ACE for the purposes of determining an overage subject to a sector accountability measure that requires payback. This action does not increase de minimis carryover for sectors above one percent as requested by the Council because it would not address a recent, unforeseen event or recently discovered circumstance as required by the criteria for an emergency action published in the Federal Register on August 21, 1997, 62 FR 44421, as well as subsequent guidance. De minimis carryover is only triggered by an overage of the overall ACL for a stock. No such overage has occurred in fishing year 2020 to trigger de minimis carryover, and we do not currently anticipate any overages. This action is putting in place measures to address the opposite problem arising from travel and health restrictions, the fishing industry’s inability to fully utilize available ACE. Further, there are no immediate benefits from changing the de minimis carryover provision at this time that would outweigh the value of advance notice, public comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts. Post-Year Sector ACE Trading Window In the beginning of each fishing year, there is a 2-week period for sectors to address any overages from the prior fishing year by transferring ACE to or from other sectors. This 2-week period generally takes place in early July, once final catch information is available to each sector. Sectors are only allowed to transfer ACE to balance an overage, or transfer out quota to assist another sector in balancing its overage. The Council requested that we consider reopening the post-year sector ACE trading window in order to allow sectors to optimize individual sector carryover amounts for fishing year 2020. This action does not reopen the postyear sector ACE trading window for fishing year 2019. Reopening the postyear trading window would complicate and delay implementation of this emergency action, without significant benefit to sectors as a whole. It would not result in an increase in the overall amount of carryover that could occur, and any ACE carried over from fishing year 2019 to fishing year 2020 can already be traded without limitation in fishing year 2020, without requiring a reopening of the fishing year 2019 trading window. Reopening the 2019 post-fishing year trading window could potentially result in increases in individual sector carryover amounts, but this is not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 Dec 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 guaranteed given that sectors are not obligated to trade. It would not increase the overall amount of carryover available to the sectors because we have already calculated the maximum amount of overall carryover by stock that could be allowed for fishing year 2020 without exceeding a stock’s ABC. Further, we have already calculated an increased percentage per sector that may be carried over from fishing year 2019 to fishing year 2020. Justification for Emergency Action NMFS’ policy guidelines for the use of emergency rules (62 FR 44421; August 21, 1997) specify the following three criteria for emergency actions: (1) The emergency results from recent, unforeseen events or recently discovered circumstances; (2) the emergency presents serious conservation or management problems in the fishery; and (3) the emergency can be addressed through emergency regulations for which the immediate benefits outweigh the value of advance notice, public comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts on participants to the same extent as would be expected under the normal rulemaking process. NMFS’ policy guidelines further provide that emergency action is justified for certain situations where emergency action would prevent significant direct economic loss, or to preserve a significant economic opportunity that otherwise might be foregone. NMFS has determined that extending portions of the carryover provisions in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan meets the criteria for emergency action for the reasons outlined below. The emergency results from recent, unforeseen events or recently discovered circumstances. Towards the end of the 2019 fishing year (March 2020), state health mandates and travel restrictions were implemented in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. These restrictions and mandates contributed to market and supply chain disruptions while also making it difficult for vessels to make fishing trips. This reduced or prevented fishing opportunities. Further, market prices dropped substantially. These impacts were unforeseen during the development of Framework Adjustment 59 that included measures for the 2020 fishing year that began on May 1, 2020. The emergency presents serious conservation or management problems in the fishery. As described above, unforeseen health mandates and travel restrictions during the last months of fishing year 2019 disrupted vessel PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 86851 business plans, fishing practices and markets. This caused revenues for the groundfish fishery to decline due to abnormally low ex-vessel prices that fell below production costs and lost investment in quota that could not be landed by the end of the 2019 fishing year. Health mandates and travel restrictions additionally prevented or limited common pool vessels from using leased-in DAS, which resulted in lost revenue when the vessels were unable to carry them over into fishing year 2020. Increasing ACE carryover of certain stocks into fishing year 2020 and allowing common pool vessels to carryover unused leased-in DAS will help mitigate negative impacts to the industry, prevent additional economic loss to industry participants, shoreside businesses, and fishing communities, and help offset lost fishing opportunities at the end of fishing year 2019. The emergency can be addressed through emergency regulations for which the immediate benefits outweigh the value of advanced notice, public comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts on participants to the same extent as would be expected under the normal rulemaking process. The Council has the authority to develop a management action to increase the maximum of 2019 carryover and allow carryover of unused leased-in DAS. However, an emergency action can be developed and implemented by NMFS more swiftly than a Council action through the public meeting and rulemaking procedures. If the normal Council Framework Adjustment and regulatory process is used to revise the carryover provisions, it would take not be possible for the revised provisions to be implemented prior to the end of the fishing year. Implementing these measures well in advance of the end of this fishing year will allow vessels more operational flexibility. Timely availability of additional ACE carryover or DAS should provide fishermen with operational flexibility to increase fishing effort within seasonal demands and variations, or to lease out available ACE or DAS to others who may effectively use it. Fully capitalizing on this carryover requires time to plan and adapt to current market and seasonal conditions. Any delay of this action reduces the length of time during which industry could choose to use additional ACE or DAS that have been carried over from fishing year 2019 into fishing year 2020. If the action is not implemented in a timely way well before the end of fishing year 2020, industry participants E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 86852 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES would be likely unable or less able to effectively use the increased carryover. Classification The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that this rule is necessary to respond to an emergency situation and is consistent with the national standards and other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The rule may be extended for a period of not more than 186 days as provided under section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Assistant Administrator Fisheries, NOAA, finds that it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide for prior notice and an opportunity for public comment. This action is intended to mitigate the impact of lost investment in quota and DAS due to health mandates and major disruptions to markets at the end of fishing year 2019. The action increases maximum ACE carryover for some stocks and allows carryover of unused leased-in DAS by the common pool, allowing industry to use the carried over quota and DAS in fishing year 2020 at a time of their choosing. Any delay of this action reduces the length of time during which industry could benefit from increased ACE or DAS that have been carried over. If the action is not implemented in a timely way well before the end of fishing year 2020, industry participants would be unable to use the increased carryover. Given this, a delay in the implementation of this action could result in additional negative impacts to industry participants and fishing communities. As a result, prior notice and the opportunity for public comment, pursuant to authority set forth at U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Data supporting the additional ACE carryover were available only recently in October. This action could not be implemented prior to the availability of that data, even though the Council request for an emergency action was received in July. Similarly, the need to implement these measures in a timely manner for the above reasons constitutes good cause under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to make the rule effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of MSA and is exempt from OMB review. This rule is an Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action. This temporary rule for an emergency action is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 Dec 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This temporary rule for an emergency action contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In the interest of receiving public input on this action, the SIR analyzing this action will be made available to the public and this temporary final rule solicits public comment. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: December 22, 2020. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.82, suspend paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) and (k)(4)(iii) and add paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) and (k)(4)(xii) to read as follows: ■ § 648.82 Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access vessels. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) End-of-year carryover. With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History, as described in § 648.4(a)(1)(i)(J), for the entire fishing year preceding the carryover year, limited access vessels that have unused DAS on the last day of April of any year may carry over a maximum of 10 DAS into the next year. Unused leased DAS may not be carried over, except as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. Vessels that have been sanctioned through enforcement proceedings will be credited with unused DAS based on their DAS allocation minus any total DAS that have been sanctioned through enforcement proceedings. For the 2004 fishing year only, DAS carried over from the 2003 fishing year will be classified as Regular B DAS, as specified under paragraph (d)(2) of this section. Beginning with the 2005 fishing year, for vessels with a balance of both unused Category A DAS and unused Category B DAS at the end of the previous fishing year (e.g., for the 2005 fishing year, carry-over DAS from the PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 2004 fishing year), Category A DAS will be carried over first, than Regular B DAS, than Reserve B DAS. Category C DAS cannot be carried over. (i) Leased DAS that remain unused at the end of fishing year 2019 may be carried over to fishing year 2020 by the Lessee vessel, provided that the vessel fished in the common pool in fishing year 2019 and continues to do so in fishing year 2020. Carried over leased DAS from fishing year 2019 do not count towards the maximum number of DAS that can be carried over to fishing year 2020, as described in paragraph (a)(3) of this section. (ii) [Reserved] (4) Vessels carrying passengers for hire. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, any vessel issued a NE multispecies limited access permit may not call into the DAS program and fish under a DAS, fish on a sector trip, or fish under the provisions of a limited access Small Vessel Category or Handgear A permits pursuant to paragraphs (b)(5) and (6) of this section, respectively, if such vessel carries passengers for hire for any portion of a fishing trip. * * * * * (k) * * * (4) * * * (xii) Carry-over of leased DAS. Leased DAS that remain unused at the end of the fishing year may not be carried over to the subsequent fishing year by the Lessor or Lessee vessel, except as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.87, add paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii) to read as follows: § 648.87 Sector allocation. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * (i) * * * (C) * * * (1) * * * (iii) Fishing year 2019 carryover. A sector that has over 10 percent of its original ACE for GB haddock, GOM haddock, or American plaice unused at the end of fishing year 2019 may carry over more than 10 percent of that ACE to fishing year 2020. The total unused fishing year 2019 ACE for a particular stock that is carried over to fishing year 2020, plus the overall ACL for fishing year 2020, may not exceed the ABC for that stock for fishing year 2020. The total maximum carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE for GB haddock, GOM haddock, and American plaice for each sector is specified in Table 1 to this paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii). E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 251 / Thursday, December 31, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii)—MAXIMUM SEC- Commerce. TOR ACE CARRYOVER FROM 2019 ACTION: Final rule; correction. TO 2020 NMFS published a final rule on December 11, 2020 to establish the 2021–2022 harvest specifications and Stock management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. That final rule GB haddock .......................... 12.6 GOM haddock ...................... 13.7 modified the boundaries of the American Plaice .................... 11.3 commercial non-trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA) for limited entry fixed-gear and open-access * * * * * vessels. In implementing these changes, [FR Doc. 2020–28898 Filed 12–30–20; 8:45 am] NMFS incorrectly identified the BILLING CODE 3510–22–P seaward boundary of the commercial non-trawl RCA south of 34°27′ N lat. for DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE limited entry fixed-gear vessels. This correction is necessary so that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric implementing regulations are accurate Administration and implement the action as intended by the Pacific Fishery Management 50 CFR Part 660 Council (Council). SUMMARY: Total maximum carryover (percent of initial 2019 ACE) [Docket No. 201204–0325] This correction is effective on January 1, 2021. DATES: RIN 0648–BJ74 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan; Amendment 29; 2021–22 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Correction Karen Palmigiano at karen.palmigiano@ noaa.gov or 206–526–4491. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:03 Dec 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 NMFS published a final rule on December 11, 2020 (853 FR 79880) that established the 2021–2022 harvest specifications and management measures for groundfish taken in the U.S. exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 86853 Oregon, and California. That final rule is effective January 1, 2021. The December 11, 2020 final rule defined the boundaries of the commercial non-trawl rockfish conservation area (RCA) south of 34°27′ north latitude (N lat.) for limited entry fixed-gear vessels as 100 fathoms (fm) to 125 fm. The same rule defined the boundaries of the commercial non-trawl RCA south 34°27′ N lat. for open-access vessels as 100 fm to 150 fm. The correct boundaries for the commercial nontrawl RCA south of south of 34°27′ N lat. for both limited entry fixed-gear and open-access vessels is 100 fm to 150 fm. This correction is consistent with the Council recommendation for the 2021– 2022 groundfish harvest specifications and is a minor correction to correctly implement the Council intent in their final action taken at the June 2020 Council meeting. Correction In FR. Doc. 2020–27142 at 85 FR 79880 in the issue of December 11, 2020, on page 79922, in amendatory instruction 16, Table 2 (South) to part 660, subpart E, is corrected to read as follows: BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\31DER1.SGM 31DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 251 (Thursday, December 31, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 86849-86853]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-28898]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 201222-0352]
RIN 0648-BK16


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Increase in Sector 
Carryover of 2019 Annual Catch Entitlements and Carryover of Unused 
Leased-In Days-at-Sea by Common Pool Vessels

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action.

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SUMMARY: This temporary rule implements emergency measures under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act to revise portions of the fishing year 2019 carryover provisions in 
the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan into fishing year 
2020. This action is necessary to address an emergency presenting 
conservation and management plans to the fishery. This action is 
intended to mitigate economic harm to the Northeast multispecies 
fishery participants by providing the opportunity to use sector Annual 
Catch Entitlement and unused leased-in Days-at-Sea that would have 
otherwise may have gone unused.

DATES: This action is effective December 31, 2020, through June 29, 
2021. Comments must be received by February 1, 2021.

ADDRESSES: For this action, NMFS developed a Supplemental Impact Report 
(SIR) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Framework Adjustment 59 
to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that 
describes the measures in this temporary rule. Copies of the SIR and 
the Regulatory Impact Review of this rulemaking are available on the 
internet at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/new-england-mid-atlantic.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2020-0162, by the following method:

[[Page 86850]]

     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0162
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, 
and
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 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).

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    At the end of fishing year 2019, the Northeast Multispecies fishery 
experienced significant unexpected economic harm from the effects of 
state health and travel restrictions due to COVID-19, in combination 
with disruptions to fishery markets, which resulted in reduced prices 
for groundfish and a limitation of fishing opportunity. Because these 
impacts occurred at the end of the fishing year, this loss of fishing 
opportunity prevented or limited industry participants from 
capitalizing on investments in quota and Days-at-Sea (DAS) prior to the 
start of the new fishing year on May 1, 2020.
    On July 2, 2020, the New England Fishery Management Council sent 
NMFS a letter requesting an emergency action to mitigate these 
significant adverse economic impacts to the groundfish fishery. The 
Council recommended that through an emergency action, NMFS should:
     Allow sectors to carry over more than 10 percent of their 
unused fishing year 2019 Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) into fishing 
year 2020 for Gulf of Maine (GOM) haddock, Georges Bank (GB) haddock, 
American plaice, and witch flounder;
     Allow common pool vessels to carryover unused leased-in 
DAS from fishing year 2019 to fishing year 2020;
     Allow de minimis carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE to be 
more than one percent of the fishing year 2020 sector sub-ACL for all 
stocks with carryover; and
     Reopen the post-year sector ACE trading window for fishing 
year 2019.
    After considering the Council's request, NMFS is implementing some, 
but not all, of the requested emergency action provisions. For the 
reasons outlined below as justification for an emergency action, this 
action increases maximum carryover of fishing year 2019 sector ACE for 
GOM haddock, GB haddock, and American plaice and allows for unused 
leased-in DAS to be carried over from fishing year 2019 into fishing 
year 2020 by common pool vessels. This action does not increase maximum 
carryover of fishing year 2019 sector ACE for witch flounder, increase 
de minimis carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE, or reopen the post-year 
sector ACE trading window for fishing year 2019.

ACE Carryover

    Carryover regulations at 50 CFR 648.87(b)(1)(i)(C) allow each 
groundfish sector to carry over an amount of unused ACE equal to 10 
percent of the sector's original ACE for each stock (except for GB 
yellowtail flounder) that is unused at the end of the fishing year into 
the following fishing year. However, the total unused sector ACE being 
carried over, plus the overall ACL, cannot exceed the ABC for the 
following year. If this were to occur, sector carryover provisions 
require us to adjust the maximum ACE carryover down from 10 percent to 
an amount that prevents total potential catch from exceeding the ABC. 
The final adjustment to the maximum carryover possible for each sector 
is based on final fishing year catch for the sectors and each sector's 
total unused allocation; and is proportional to the cumulative Percent 
Sector Contributions of permits participating in the sector.
    This action revises the ACE carryover regulations to increase the 
maximum amount of ACE for GOM haddock, GB haddock, and American plaice 
that may be carried over by groundfish sectors from fishing year 2019 
into fishing year 2020. The maximum amount of unused 2019 sector ACE 
for these stocks carried over into fishing year 2020 will not allow 
catch to exceed the 2020 ABC for each stock (i.e., the 2020 ABC will be 
equal to the overall ACL plus the maximum carryover number). The 
revised carryover cap is a percentage of each sector's original ACE for 
each stock (Table 1).

         Table 1--Maximum Sector ACE Carryover From 2019 to 2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Total
                                                             carryover
                                                             available
                          Stock                             (percent of
                                                           initial 2019
                                                               ACE)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB haddock..............................................            12.6
GOM haddock.............................................            13.7
American Plaice.........................................            11.3
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action does not make any changes to the sector ACE carryover 
provisions for witch flounder. Witch flounder is overfished, in a 
rebuilding plan, and has an unknown overfishing status and Overfishing 
Limit (OFL). The July 2020 National Standard 1 Technical Guidance for 
Designing, Evaluating, and Implementing Carry-over and Phase-in 
Provisions does not recommend applying carryover or phase-in provisions 
for stocks that have an unspecified OFL. Though carryover of ACE for 
witch flounder is already permitted by the sector implementing 
regulations, increasing the maximum amount of carryover for the stock 
above 10 percent would increase risk of overfishing.

Carryover of Unused Leased-In DAS by Common Pool Vessels

    DAS carryover regulations at Sec.  648.82(a)(1) allow limited 
access vessels that have unused, unleased DAS available at the end of a 
fishing year to carry over a maximum of 10 DAS into the following 
fishing year. These measures are intended to promote safety by reducing 
risk and increasing flexibility while not compromising the conservation 
impact of the DAS program. The regulations at Sec.  648.82(a)(1) and 
(k)(4)(iii) do not allow us to adjust the maximum DAS carryover, nor do 
they authorize us to allow the carryover of unused leased-in DAS.
    This action revises the DAS carryover regulations to allow common 
pool vessels with unused leased-in DAS at the end of fishing year 2019 
to carry those DAS into fishing year 2020, even if doing so would 
result in a vessel carrying over more than 10 DAS into the fishing 
year. This action does not revise the regulations to allow any 
additional carryover of unused allocated DAS.

De Minimis Carryover

    Regulations at Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(i)(C)(2) set de minimis carryover 
at one percent of the overall sector sub-ACL in the fishing year in 
which carryover would be harvested. If the overall ACL for a particular 
stock is exceeded, the

[[Page 86851]]

allowed carryover, minus the de minimis amount, would be counted 
against the sector's ACE for the purposes of determining an overage 
subject to a sector accountability measure that requires payback.
    This action does not increase de minimis carryover for sectors 
above one percent as requested by the Council because it would not 
address a recent, unforeseen event or recently discovered circumstance 
as required by the criteria for an emergency action published in the 
Federal Register on August 21, 1997, 62 FR 44421, as well as subsequent 
guidance. De minimis carryover is only triggered by an overage of the 
overall ACL for a stock. No such overage has occurred in fishing year 
2020 to trigger de minimis carryover, and we do not currently 
anticipate any overages. This action is putting in place measures to 
address the opposite problem arising from travel and health 
restrictions, the fishing industry's inability to fully utilize 
available ACE. Further, there are no immediate benefits from changing 
the de minimis carryover provision at this time that would outweigh the 
value of advance notice, public comment, and deliberative consideration 
of the impacts.

Post-Year Sector ACE Trading Window

    In the beginning of each fishing year, there is a 2-week period for 
sectors to address any overages from the prior fishing year by 
transferring ACE to or from other sectors. This 2-week period generally 
takes place in early July, once final catch information is available to 
each sector. Sectors are only allowed to transfer ACE to balance an 
overage, or transfer out quota to assist another sector in balancing 
its overage. The Council requested that we consider reopening the post-
year sector ACE trading window in order to allow sectors to optimize 
individual sector carryover amounts for fishing year 2020.
    This action does not reopen the post-year sector ACE trading window 
for fishing year 2019. Reopening the post-year trading window would 
complicate and delay implementation of this emergency action, without 
significant benefit to sectors as a whole. It would not result in an 
increase in the overall amount of carryover that could occur, and any 
ACE carried over from fishing year 2019 to fishing year 2020 can 
already be traded without limitation in fishing year 2020, without 
requiring a reopening of the fishing year 2019 trading window.
    Reopening the 2019 post-fishing year trading window could 
potentially result in increases in individual sector carryover amounts, 
but this is not guaranteed given that sectors are not obligated to 
trade. It would not increase the overall amount of carryover available 
to the sectors because we have already calculated the maximum amount of 
overall carryover by stock that could be allowed for fishing year 2020 
without exceeding a stock's ABC. Further, we have already calculated an 
increased percentage per sector that may be carried over from fishing 
year 2019 to fishing year 2020.

Justification for Emergency Action

    NMFS' policy guidelines for the use of emergency rules (62 FR 
44421; August 21, 1997) specify the following three criteria for 
emergency actions: (1) The emergency results from recent, unforeseen 
events or recently discovered circumstances; (2) the emergency presents 
serious conservation or management problems in the fishery; and (3) the 
emergency can be addressed through emergency regulations for which the 
immediate benefits outweigh the value of advance notice, public 
comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts on participants 
to the same extent as would be expected under the normal rulemaking 
process. NMFS' policy guidelines further provide that emergency action 
is justified for certain situations where emergency action would 
prevent significant direct economic loss, or to preserve a significant 
economic opportunity that otherwise might be foregone. NMFS has 
determined that extending portions of the carryover provisions in the 
Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan meets the criteria for 
emergency action for the reasons outlined below.
    The emergency results from recent, unforeseen events or recently 
discovered circumstances. Towards the end of the 2019 fishing year 
(March 2020), state health mandates and travel restrictions were 
implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions 
and mandates contributed to market and supply chain disruptions while 
also making it difficult for vessels to make fishing trips. This 
reduced or prevented fishing opportunities. Further, market prices 
dropped substantially. These impacts were unforeseen during the 
development of Framework Adjustment 59 that included measures for the 
2020 fishing year that began on May 1, 2020.
    The emergency presents serious conservation or management problems 
in the fishery. As described above, unforeseen health mandates and 
travel restrictions during the last months of fishing year 2019 
disrupted vessel business plans, fishing practices and markets. This 
caused revenues for the groundfish fishery to decline due to abnormally 
low ex-vessel prices that fell below production costs and lost 
investment in quota that could not be landed by the end of the 2019 
fishing year. Health mandates and travel restrictions additionally 
prevented or limited common pool vessels from using leased-in DAS, 
which resulted in lost revenue when the vessels were unable to carry 
them over into fishing year 2020. Increasing ACE carryover of certain 
stocks into fishing year 2020 and allowing common pool vessels to 
carryover unused leased-in DAS will help mitigate negative impacts to 
the industry, prevent additional economic loss to industry 
participants, shoreside businesses, and fishing communities, and help 
offset lost fishing opportunities at the end of fishing year 2019.
    The emergency can be addressed through emergency regulations for 
which the immediate benefits outweigh the value of advanced notice, 
public comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts on 
participants to the same extent as would be expected under the normal 
rulemaking process. The Council has the authority to develop a 
management action to increase the maximum of 2019 carryover and allow 
carryover of unused leased-in DAS. However, an emergency action can be 
developed and implemented by NMFS more swiftly than a Council action 
through the public meeting and rulemaking procedures. If the normal 
Council Framework Adjustment and regulatory process is used to revise 
the carryover provisions, it would take not be possible for the revised 
provisions to be implemented prior to the end of the fishing year.
    Implementing these measures well in advance of the end of this 
fishing year will allow vessels more operational flexibility. Timely 
availability of additional ACE carryover or DAS should provide 
fishermen with operational flexibility to increase fishing effort 
within seasonal demands and variations, or to lease out available ACE 
or DAS to others who may effectively use it. Fully capitalizing on this 
carryover requires time to plan and adapt to current market and 
seasonal conditions. Any delay of this action reduces the length of 
time during which industry could choose to use additional ACE or DAS 
that have been carried over from fishing year 2019 into fishing year 
2020. If the action is not implemented in a timely way well before the 
end of fishing year 2020, industry participants

[[Page 86852]]

would be likely unable or less able to effectively use the increased 
carryover.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined 
that this rule is necessary to respond to an emergency situation and is 
consistent with the national standards and other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The rule may be 
extended for a period of not more than 186 days as provided under 
section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The Assistant Administrator Fisheries, NOAA, finds that it would be 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide for prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment. This action is intended 
to mitigate the impact of lost investment in quota and DAS due to 
health mandates and major disruptions to markets at the end of fishing 
year 2019. The action increases maximum ACE carryover for some stocks 
and allows carryover of unused leased-in DAS by the common pool, 
allowing industry to use the carried over quota and DAS in fishing year 
2020 at a time of their choosing. Any delay of this action reduces the 
length of time during which industry could benefit from increased ACE 
or DAS that have been carried over. If the action is not implemented in 
a timely way well before the end of fishing year 2020, industry 
participants would be unable to use the increased carryover. Given 
this, a delay in the implementation of this action could result in 
additional negative impacts to industry participants and fishing 
communities. As a result, prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment, pursuant to authority set forth at U.S.C. 553(b)(B), would be 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Data supporting the 
additional ACE carryover were available only recently in October. This 
action could not be implemented prior to the availability of that data, 
even though the Council request for an emergency action was received in 
July.
    Similarly, the need to implement these measures in a timely manner 
for the above reasons constitutes good cause under authority contained 
in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to make the rule effective immediately upon 
publication in the Federal Register.
    This action is being taken pursuant to the emergency provision of 
MSA and is exempt from OMB review.
    This rule is an Executive Order 13771 deregulatory action.
    This temporary rule for an emergency action is exempt from the 
procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued 
without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public 
comment.
    This temporary rule for an emergency action contains no information 
collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
    In the interest of receiving public input on this action, the SIR 
analyzing this action will be made available to the public and this 
temporary final rule solicits public comment.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: December 22, 2020.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.82, suspend paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) and (k)(4)(iii) 
and add paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) and (k)(4)(xii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.82  Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access 
vessels.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) End-of-year carryover. With the exception of vessels that held 
a Confirmation of Permit History, as described in Sec.  
648.4(a)(1)(i)(J), for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over 
year, limited access vessels that have unused DAS on the last day of 
April of any year may carry over a maximum of 10 DAS into the next 
year. Unused leased DAS may not be carried over, except as specified in 
paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. Vessels that have been sanctioned 
through enforcement proceedings will be credited with unused DAS based 
on their DAS allocation minus any total DAS that have been sanctioned 
through enforcement proceedings. For the 2004 fishing year only, DAS 
carried over from the 2003 fishing year will be classified as Regular B 
DAS, as specified under paragraph (d)(2) of this section. Beginning 
with the 2005 fishing year, for vessels with a balance of both unused 
Category A DAS and unused Category B DAS at the end of the previous 
fishing year (e.g., for the 2005 fishing year, carry-over DAS from the 
2004 fishing year), Category A DAS will be carried over first, than 
Regular B DAS, than Reserve B DAS. Category C DAS cannot be carried 
over.
    (i) Leased DAS that remain unused at the end of fishing year 2019 
may be carried over to fishing year 2020 by the Lessee vessel, provided 
that the vessel fished in the common pool in fishing year 2019 and 
continues to do so in fishing year 2020. Carried over leased DAS from 
fishing year 2019 do not count towards the maximum number of DAS that 
can be carried over to fishing year 2020, as described in paragraph 
(a)(3) of this section.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (4) Vessels carrying passengers for hire. Notwithstanding any other 
provision of this part, any vessel issued a NE multispecies limited 
access permit may not call into the DAS program and fish under a DAS, 
fish on a sector trip, or fish under the provisions of a limited access 
Small Vessel Category or Handgear A permits pursuant to paragraphs 
(b)(5) and (6) of this section, respectively, if such vessel carries 
passengers for hire for any portion of a fishing trip.
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (xii) Carry-over of leased DAS. Leased DAS that remain unused at 
the end of the fishing year may not be carried over to the subsequent 
fishing year by the Lessor or Lessee vessel, except as specified in 
paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.87, add paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.87  Sector allocation.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (C) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Fishing year 2019 carryover. A sector that has over 10 
percent of its original ACE for GB haddock, GOM haddock, or American 
plaice unused at the end of fishing year 2019 may carry over more than 
10 percent of that ACE to fishing year 2020. The total unused fishing 
year 2019 ACE for a particular stock that is carried over to fishing 
year 2020, plus the overall ACL for fishing year 2020, may not exceed 
the ABC for that stock for fishing year 2020. The total maximum 
carryover of fishing year 2019 ACE for GB haddock, GOM haddock, and 
American plaice for each sector is specified in Table 1 to this 
paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii).

[[Page 86853]]



 Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C)(1)(iii)--Maximum Sector ACE Carryover
                            From 2019 to 2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Total maximum
                                                             carryover
                          Stock                             (percent of
                                                           initial 2019
                                                               ACE)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB haddock..............................................            12.6
GOM haddock.............................................            13.7
American Plaice.........................................            11.3
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-28898 Filed 12-30-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P