Potential New Turtle Exclusion Device Requirements for Skimmer Trawl Vessels Less Than 40 Feet (12.2 Meters) in Length, 20475 [2021-08108]

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BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 [Docket No. 210414–0079] RIN 0648–BK49 Potential New Turtle Exclusion Device Requirements for Skimmer Trawl Vessels Less Than 40 Feet (12.2 Meters) in Length National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:17 Apr 19, 2021 Jkt 253001 NMFS hereby publishes an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on the possibility of modifying the turtle excluder device (TED) related requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet (12.2 meters) in length operating in the southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries. NMFS is requesting comments on this possible action. DATES: Information related to this document must be received by close of business on May 20, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments via the Federal e-rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov identified by docket number 210414–0079, or by mail to Michael Barnette, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 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 other 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: Michael Barnette, 727–551–5794, michael.barnette@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background [FR Doc. 2021–08193 Filed 4–19–21; 8:45 am] AGENCY: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking. ACTION: Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its implementing regulations, taking (e.g., harassing, injuring or killing) sea turtles is prohibited, except as identified in 50 CFR 223.206, in compliance with the terms and conditions of a biological opinion issued under section 7 of the ESA, or in accordance with an incidental take permit issued under section 10 of the ESA. Incidental takes of threatened and endangered sea turtles during shrimp trawling are exempt from the taking prohibition of section 9 of the ESA so long as the conservation measures specified in the sea turtle conservation regulations (50 CFR 223.206; 50 CFR 224.104) are followed. On December 16, 2016 (81 FR 91097), NMFS published a proposed rule that would withdraw the tow time PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 20475 restriction and require TEDs designed to exclude small sea turtles in all skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing nets (butterfly trawls) rigged for fishing, with the exception of vessels participating in the Biscayne Bay wing net fishery prosecuted in Miami-Dade County, Florida. NMFS ultimately published a final rule on December 20, 2019 (84 FR 70048), requiring skimmer trawl vessels 40 feet (12.2 meters) and greater in length to use TEDs designed to exclude small sea turtles in their nets effective on April 1, 2021. On March 31, 2021 (86 FR 16676), NMFS delayed the effective date of this final rule until August 1, 2021, due to safety and travel restrictions related to the COVID–19 pandemic that prevented necessary training and outreach for fishers. The changes between the proposed and final rules were due to potential economic impacts of the proposed rule, performance and safety issues with TED use on smaller vessels, and lack of testing data with gear types other than skimmer trawls. Analyses for all considered alternatives were included in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS), the notice of availability of which was published on November 15, 2019 (EIS No. 20190270; 84 FR 62530; 11/15/2019). NMFS has conducted additional testing that has produced TED designs that are effective on skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet (12.2 meters) in length. Therefore, NMFS is soliciting public comment on the potential expansion of TED requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet (12.2 meters) in length. NMFS is seeking input from the public on the feasibility of employing these TEDs on smaller length vessels, input on the associated costs of any new TED requirements, and other potential environmental impacts. Request for Comments NMFS requests comments on potential impacts from a potential expansion of TED requirements to other skimmer trawl vessels, as well as other initiatives to reduce fishery bycatch of threatened and endangered sea turtles in the southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531–1543. Dated: April 15, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–08108 Filed 4–19–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20APP1.SGM 20APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 74 (Tuesday, April 20, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 20475]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-08108]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223

[Docket No. 210414-0079]
RIN 0648-BK49


Potential New Turtle Exclusion Device Requirements for Skimmer 
Trawl Vessels Less Than 40 Feet (12.2 Meters) in Length

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

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: NMFS hereby publishes an advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
to solicit comments on the possibility of modifying the turtle excluder 
device (TED) related requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less than 
40 feet (12.2 meters) in length operating in the southeast U.S. shrimp 
fisheries. NMFS is requesting comments on this possible action.

DATES: Information related to this document must be received by close 
of business on May 20, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments via the Federal e-rulemaking Portal 
at www.regulations.gov identified by docket number 210414-0079, or by 
mail to Michael Barnette, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th 
Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 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 other 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: Michael Barnette, 727-551-5794, 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its implementing 
regulations, taking (e.g., harassing, injuring or killing) sea turtles 
is prohibited, except as identified in 50 CFR 223.206, in compliance 
with the terms and conditions of a biological opinion issued under 
section 7 of the ESA, or in accordance with an incidental take permit 
issued under section 10 of the ESA. Incidental takes of threatened and 
endangered sea turtles during shrimp trawling are exempt from the 
taking prohibition of section 9 of the ESA so long as the conservation 
measures specified in the sea turtle conservation regulations (50 CFR 
223.206; 50 CFR 224.104) are followed.
    On December 16, 2016 (81 FR 91097), NMFS published a proposed rule 
that would withdraw the tow time restriction and require TEDs designed 
to exclude small sea turtles in all skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, 
and wing nets (butterfly trawls) rigged for fishing, with the exception 
of vessels participating in the Biscayne Bay wing net fishery 
prosecuted in Miami-Dade County, Florida. NMFS ultimately published a 
final rule on December 20, 2019 (84 FR 70048), requiring skimmer trawl 
vessels 40 feet (12.2 meters) and greater in length to use TEDs 
designed to exclude small sea turtles in their nets effective on April 
1, 2021. On March 31, 2021 (86 FR 16676), NMFS delayed the effective 
date of this final rule until August 1, 2021, due to safety and travel 
restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented necessary 
training and outreach for fishers. The changes between the proposed and 
final rules were due to potential economic impacts of the proposed 
rule, performance and safety issues with TED use on smaller vessels, 
and lack of testing data with gear types other than skimmer trawls. 
Analyses for all considered alternatives were included in a final 
environmental impact statement (FEIS), the notice of availability of 
which was published on November 15, 2019 (EIS No. 20190270; 84 FR 
62530; 11/15/2019).
    NMFS has conducted additional testing that has produced TED designs 
that are effective on skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet (12.2 
meters) in length. Therefore, NMFS is soliciting public comment on the 
potential expansion of TED requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less 
than 40 feet (12.2 meters) in length. NMFS is seeking input from the 
public on the feasibility of employing these TEDs on smaller length 
vessels, input on the associated costs of any new TED requirements, and 
other potential environmental impacts.

Request for Comments

    NMFS requests comments on potential impacts from a potential 
expansion of TED requirements to other skimmer trawl vessels, as well 
as other initiatives to reduce fishery bycatch of threatened and 
endangered sea turtles in the southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543.

    Dated: April 15, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-08108 Filed 4-19-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P