Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures, 20649-20651 [2021-08248]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 75 / Wednesday, April 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules days to allow any interested persons to submit comments on the proposed rule. Approved: April 06, 2021. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2021–07455 Filed 4–20–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4165–16–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 210415–0081] RIN 0648–BK34 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this proposed rule would modify catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for gray triggerfish. The purpose of this proposed rule and the framework action is to modify the catch limits, as applicable, consistent with the most recent interim analysis for gray triggerfish and to achieve optimum yield (OY) for the stock. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before May 21, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2021–0030’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2021–0030’’, in the Search box. Click on the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Kelli O’Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 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), 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). Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an environmental assessment, a regulatory impact review, and a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ framework-action-modification-graytriggerfish-catch-limits. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O’Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727–824– 5305, email: Kelli.ODonnell@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gray triggerfish, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Steven Act). Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and to achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. Gray triggerfish in the Gulf EEZ are managed using both commercial and recreational sector measures with each sector having its own annual catch limit (ACL) and annual catch target (ACT). The sector allocation of the stock ACL, which equals the acceptable biological catch (ABC), is 21 percent commercial and 79 percent recreational and was implemented in 2008 through Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139; July 3, 2008). Inseason accountability measures (AMs) for gray triggerfish specify that if commercial and/or recreational landings meet or are projected to meet the respective sector’s ACT, that sector will close for the PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 20649 remainder of the fishing year. For the commercial sector, the post-season AM specifies that if the commercial ACL is exceeded despite the quota closure, then the following fishing year’s commercial ACL and ACT (commercial quota) will be reduced by the amount of the prioryear’s commercial ACL overage. For the recreational sector, if the recreational ACL is exceeded and gray triggerfish are overfished then in the following fishing year the recreational ACL and ACT would be reduced by the amount of the ACL overage in the prior fishing year. The current gray triggerfish ACLs, ACTs (set at 5 percent and 10 percent less than the commercial and recreational sector ACLs, respectively), and inseason AMs for both sectors and the post season AM for the recreational sector, were established in 2013, through Amendment 37 to the FMP (78 FR 27084; May 9, 2013). The postseason AM for the commercial sector was established in 2008, through Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139). The most recent Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed and reviewed by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in October 2015 (SEDAR 43). SEDAR 43 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was not experiencing overfishing but remained overfished and would not be rebuilt by the end of 2017 as previously projected. As a result of SEDAR 43, the Council’s SSC made recommendations for an increased overfishing limit (OFL) based on a fixed maximum fishing mortality threshold, which is independent of rebuilding, and ABCs based on an 8, 9, or 10-year rebuilding timeline. Because of the stock not rebuilding as anticipated, the Council decided not to change the ABC, sector ACLs, and sector ACTs set by Amendment 37 but to change the rebuilding timeline to rebuild the stock by 2025. Amendment 46 implicitly adopted the SSC’s recommendations for an increased OFL by including alternatives with an ABC that was higher than the status quo OFL. Amendment 44 to the FMP, implemented in 2017 (82 FR 61488; December 28, 2017), updated the stock status to not overfished but did not revise the sector ACLs or ACTs. Between 2012 and 2019, the commercial sector has exceeded its ACL of 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight, two times, in both 2012 and 2018. During that same time frame, the recreational sector has exceeded its ACL of 241,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight, five times, in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019. E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1 20650 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 75 / Wednesday, April 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules At its September 2020 meeting, the Council’s SSC accepted a 2020 gray triggerfish interim analysis conducted by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). Unlike full SEDAR stock assessments, interim analyses are designed to occur between regular SEDAR assessments to determine trends in stock condition and project future catch advice. While interim analyses take less time to complete, they cannot be used to determine if a stock is making progress towards rebuilding. Based on the interim analysis, abundance trends of the Gulf gray triggerfish stock suggest an increase in biomass that could support additional removals. The Council’s SSC determined the interim analysis was suitable for providing ABC catch advice through 2023. From the interim analysis, the Council’s SSC recommended the gray triggerfish stock ABC be increased to 456,900 lb (207,246 kg), round weight, for 2021 and subsequent fishing years, with the request that another interim analysis be completed in 2023. The Council’s SSC previously recommended an increased OFL (1,220,000 lb (553,383 kg), round weight) that was implicitly adopted by Amendment 46 and was not examined by this interim analysis. In January 2021, the Council took final action on this framework action, consistent with the most recent interim analysis for gray triggerfish, and recommendations from the Council’s SSC, the SEFSC, and the Council’s Reef Fish Advisory Panel (Reef Fish AP) to increase the commercial and recreational catch limits for Gulf gray triggerfish, in order to achieve OY consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs consistent with the interim analysis and the Council’s SSC, SEFSC, and the Council’s Reef Fish AP recommendations. Commercial ACL and ACT If implemented, this proposed rule would increase the Gulf gray triggerfish commercial ACL from 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight, to 95,949 lb (43,522 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent fishing years based on the current ACL sector allocation of 21 percent commercial. To determine the new ACT, the Council used its ACL/ ACT control rule to determine the buffer to be applied to the commercial ACL to account for updated information. Application of the control rule indicated VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 that an 8 percent buffer is appropriate between the commercial ACL and ACT. This is an increase from the current buffer of 5 percent. Using a more recent time series, the control rule yielded a larger buffer due to the number of times sector landings exceeded the commercial ACL during the time series, current stock status (the stock is rebuilding), and the precision of landings data. The 8 percent buffer applied to the proposed commercial ACL, revises the commercial ACT (commercial quota) from 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), round weight to 88,273 lb (40,040 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent fishing years. The increased buffer between the commercial ACL and ACT is expected to reduce the risk of the commercial sector exceeding its ACL as well as reduce the likelihood of overfishing the gray triggerfish stock. NMFS notes that the commercial sector has never exceeded the commercial ACL that is proposed in this rule. Recreational ACL and ACT If implemented, this proposed rule would increase the Gulf gray triggerfish recreational ACL from 241,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight, to 360,951 lb (163,725 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent fishing years based on the ACL sector allocation of 79 percent recreational. To determine the new recreational ACT, the ACL/ACT control rule was applied to determine the buffer using updated information. The control rule yielded a 24 percent buffer between the recreational ACL and ACT. This is an increase from the current 10 percent buffer. The reason for the buffer increase was the result of past ACL overages, the stock is rebuilding, a more recent time series being applied, and the precision of landings data. When the buffer is applied to the proposed recreational ACL, the ACT would be increased from 217,100 lb (98,475 kg), round weight, to 274,323 lb (124,431 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent fishing years. NMFS notes that recreational landings in the 2013, 2016, and 2018 fishing years, have exceeded the recreational ACL proposed in this rule. The increased buffers between the recreational ACL and ACT are expected to reduce the risk of the recreational sector exceeding its ACL. Measure in the Framework Action but not Codified in This Proposed Rule In addition to the other measures contained in this proposed rule, the framework action would also revise the Gulf gray triggerfish stock ABC. As a result of the gray triggerfish interim PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 analysis, and the recommendation of the Council’s SSC, the framework action would increase the Gulf gray triggerfish stock ABC from 305,300 lb (138,482 kg), round weight, to 456,900 lb (207,246 kg), round weight. The stock ACL would remain equal to the stock ABC. A buffer between the stock ABC and ACL was not recommended by the Council’s Reef Fish AP as a result of wanting to retain the management approach currently in use for gray triggerfish by the Council of setting the stock ACL equal to the ABC. In addition, the increased ABC is 37.5 percent of the OFL (1,220,000 lb (553,383 kg), round weight). This large difference between the ABC and OFL reduces the risk of overfishing of the gray triggerfish stock. 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 framework action, the FMP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has 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 follows. A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of this proposed rule are contained in the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. This proposed rule would apply to all federally-permitted commercial vessels and recreational anglers that fish for or harvest gray triggerfish in Federal waters of the Gulf. It would not directly apply to or regulate charter vessels and headboats (for-hire vessels). For-hire vessels sell fishing services to recreational anglers. The proposed changes to the gray triggerfish management measures would not directly alter the services sold by these vessels. Any change in demand for these fishing services, and associated economic effects, as a result of this proposed rule would be a consequence of a behavioral change by anglers, secondary to any direct effect on anglers and, therefore, an indirect effect of the proposed rule. Because the effects on for-hire vessels would be indirect, they E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 75 / Wednesday, April 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS fall outside the scope of the RFA. Furthermore, for-hire captains and crew are allowed to retain gray triggerfish under the recreational bag limit; however, they are not allowed to sell these fish. As such, for-hire captains and crew would be directly affected only as recreational anglers. Recreational anglers who would be directly affected by this proposed rule are not considered small entities under the RFA, and are, therefore, outside the scope of this analysis. 5 U.S.C. 603. Small entities include ‘‘small businesses,’’ ‘‘small organizations,’’ and ‘‘small governmental jurisdictions.’’ 5 U.S.C. 601(6) and 601(3)–(5). Recreational anglers are not businesses, organizations, or governmental jurisdictions. In summary, only the impacts on commercial vessels will be further discussed. As of December 8, 2020, there were 831 vessels with Federal limited access valid or renewable Gulf reef fish permits, 62 of which had longline endorsements. On average from 2015 through 2019, there were 263 federally permitted commercial vessels each year with reported landings of gray triggerfish in the Gulf. Their average annual vessel-level gross revenue from all species for 2015 through 2019 was approximately $158,000 (2019 dollars) and gray triggerfish accounted for less than 0.3 percent of this revenue. The maximum annual revenue from all species reported by a single one of the commercial vessels that landed Gulf gray triggerfish from 2015 through 2019 was approximately $2.37 million (2019 dollars). For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. All of the commercial fishing businesses directly regulated by this proposed rule are believed to be small entities based on the NMFS size standard. No other small entities that would be directly affected by this rule have been identified. This proposed rule would modify the commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs for gray triggerfish consistent with the most recent interim analysis for gray triggerfish, and recommendations from the Council’s SSC, the SEFSC, and the Council’s Reef Fish AP. Under the proposed rule, the commercial ACT would increase by 27,373 lb (12,416 kg), round weight, which if harvested in full, would correspond to an estimated increase in annual ex-vessel revenue of $56,115 (2019 dollars). Divided by the average number of commercial vessels with reported landings of gray triggerfish from 2015 through 2019, this would be an annual increase of approximately $213 per vessel. Economic benefits to each vessel may vary based on individual fishing practices. However, such distributional effects cannot be quantified with available data. If annual commercial landings are less than the proposed new ACT, the positive economic effects associated with this rule would be reduced accordingly. The information provided above supports a determination that this proposed rule would not have a significant adverse economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 20651 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray triggerfish, Gulf, Quota, Reef fish. Dated: April 16, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 622.39, revise paragraph (a)(1)(vi) to read as follows: ■ § 622.39 Quotas. * * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (vi) Gray triggerfish—88,273 lb (40,040 kg), round weight. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 622.41, revise the last sentence of paragraph (b)(1) and revise paragraph (b)(2)(iii) to read as follows: § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * The commercial ACL is 95,949 lb (43,522 kg), round weight. (2) * * * (iii) The recreational ACL for gray triggerfish is 360,951 lb (163,725 kg), round weight. The recreational ACT for gray triggerfish is 274,323 lb (124,431 kg), round weight. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–08248 Filed 4–20–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21APP1.SGM 21APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 75 (Wednesday, April 21, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20649-20651]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-08248]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 210415-0081]
RIN 0648-BK34


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

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in a 
framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish 
Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of 
Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this 
proposed rule would modify catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for gray triggerfish. The purpose of this 
proposed rule and the framework action is to modify the catch limits, 
as applicable, consistent with the most recent interim analysis for 
gray triggerfish and to achieve optimum yield (OY) for the stock.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before May 21, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2021-0030'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2021-0030'', in the Search 
box. Click on the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields, and 
enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Kelli O'Donnell, 
Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, 
FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address), 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).
    Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an 
environmental assessment, a regulatory impact review, and a Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, may be obtained from the Southeast 
Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-action-modification-gray-triggerfish-catch-limits.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O'Donnell, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes 
gray triggerfish, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the 
Council and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 
622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Steven Act).

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and to achieve, on a 
continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure 
that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to 
the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and 
recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems.
    Gray triggerfish in the Gulf EEZ are managed using both commercial 
and recreational sector measures with each sector having its own annual 
catch limit (ACL) and annual catch target (ACT). The sector allocation 
of the stock ACL, which equals the acceptable biological catch (ABC), 
is 21 percent commercial and 79 percent recreational and was 
implemented in 2008 through Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139; July 
3, 2008). Inseason accountability measures (AMs) for gray triggerfish 
specify that if commercial and/or recreational landings meet or are 
projected to meet the respective sector's ACT, that sector will close 
for the remainder of the fishing year. For the commercial sector, the 
post-season AM specifies that if the commercial ACL is exceeded despite 
the quota closure, then the following fishing year's commercial ACL and 
ACT (commercial quota) will be reduced by the amount of the prior-
year's commercial ACL overage. For the recreational sector, if the 
recreational ACL is exceeded and gray triggerfish are overfished then 
in the following fishing year the recreational ACL and ACT would be 
reduced by the amount of the ACL overage in the prior fishing year. The 
current gray triggerfish ACLs, ACTs (set at 5 percent and 10 percent 
less than the commercial and recreational sector ACLs, respectively), 
and inseason AMs for both sectors and the post season AM for the 
recreational sector, were established in 2013, through Amendment 37 to 
the FMP (78 FR 27084; May 9, 2013). The postseason AM for the 
commercial sector was established in 2008, through Amendment 30A to the 
FMP (73 FR 38139).
    The most recent Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 
stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed and reviewed by the 
Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in October 2015 
(SEDAR 43). SEDAR 43 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was not 
experiencing overfishing but remained overfished and would not be 
rebuilt by the end of 2017 as previously projected. As a result of 
SEDAR 43, the Council's SSC made recommendations for an increased 
overfishing limit (OFL) based on a fixed maximum fishing mortality 
threshold, which is independent of rebuilding, and ABCs based on an 8, 
9, or 10-year rebuilding timeline. Because of the stock not rebuilding 
as anticipated, the Council decided not to change the ABC, sector ACLs, 
and sector ACTs set by Amendment 37 but to change the rebuilding 
timeline to rebuild the stock by 2025. Amendment 46 implicitly adopted 
the SSC's recommendations for an increased OFL by including 
alternatives with an ABC that was higher than the status quo OFL. 
Amendment 44 to the FMP, implemented in 2017 (82 FR 61488; December 28, 
2017), updated the stock status to not overfished but did not revise 
the sector ACLs or ACTs.
    Between 2012 and 2019, the commercial sector has exceeded its ACL 
of 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight, two times, in both 2012 and 
2018. During that same time frame, the recreational sector has exceeded 
its ACL of 241,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight, five times, in 2012, 
2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019.

[[Page 20650]]

    At its September 2020 meeting, the Council's SSC accepted a 2020 
gray triggerfish interim analysis conducted by the NMFS Southeast 
Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). Unlike full SEDAR stock assessments, 
interim analyses are designed to occur between regular SEDAR 
assessments to determine trends in stock condition and project future 
catch advice. While interim analyses take less time to complete, they 
cannot be used to determine if a stock is making progress towards 
rebuilding. Based on the interim analysis, abundance trends of the Gulf 
gray triggerfish stock suggest an increase in biomass that could 
support additional removals. The Council's SSC determined the interim 
analysis was suitable for providing ABC catch advice through 2023. From 
the interim analysis, the Council's SSC recommended the gray 
triggerfish stock ABC be increased to 456,900 lb (207,246 kg), round 
weight, for 2021 and subsequent fishing years, with the request that 
another interim analysis be completed in 2023. The Council's SSC 
previously recommended an increased OFL (1,220,000 lb (553,383 kg), 
round weight) that was implicitly adopted by Amendment 46 and was not 
examined by this interim analysis.
    In January 2021, the Council took final action on this framework 
action, consistent with the most recent interim analysis for gray 
triggerfish, and recommendations from the Council's SSC, the SEFSC, and 
the Council's Reef Fish Advisory Panel (Reef Fish AP) to increase the 
commercial and recreational catch limits for Gulf gray triggerfish, in 
order to achieve OY consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational 
ACLs and ACTs consistent with the interim analysis and the Council's 
SSC, SEFSC, and the Council's Reef Fish AP recommendations.

Commercial ACL and ACT

    If implemented, this proposed rule would increase the Gulf gray 
triggerfish commercial ACL from 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight, to 
95,949 lb (43,522 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent 
fishing years based on the current ACL sector allocation of 21 percent 
commercial. To determine the new ACT, the Council used its ACL/ACT 
control rule to determine the buffer to be applied to the commercial 
ACL to account for updated information. Application of the control rule 
indicated that an 8 percent buffer is appropriate between the 
commercial ACL and ACT. This is an increase from the current buffer of 
5 percent. Using a more recent time series, the control rule yielded a 
larger buffer due to the number of times sector landings exceeded the 
commercial ACL during the time series, current stock status (the stock 
is rebuilding), and the precision of landings data. The 8 percent 
buffer applied to the proposed commercial ACL, revises the commercial 
ACT (commercial quota) from 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), round weight to 
88,273 lb (40,040 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent 
fishing years. The increased buffer between the commercial ACL and ACT 
is expected to reduce the risk of the commercial sector exceeding its 
ACL as well as reduce the likelihood of overfishing the gray 
triggerfish stock. NMFS notes that the commercial sector has never 
exceeded the commercial ACL that is proposed in this rule.

Recreational ACL and ACT

    If implemented, this proposed rule would increase the Gulf gray 
triggerfish recreational ACL from 241,200 lb (109,406 kg), round 
weight, to 360,951 lb (163,725 kg), round weight, for the 2021, and 
subsequent fishing years based on the ACL sector allocation of 79 
percent recreational. To determine the new recreational ACT, the ACL/
ACT control rule was applied to determine the buffer using updated 
information. The control rule yielded a 24 percent buffer between the 
recreational ACL and ACT. This is an increase from the current 10 
percent buffer. The reason for the buffer increase was the result of 
past ACL overages, the stock is rebuilding, a more recent time series 
being applied, and the precision of landings data. When the buffer is 
applied to the proposed recreational ACL, the ACT would be increased 
from 217,100 lb (98,475 kg), round weight, to 274,323 lb (124,431 kg), 
round weight, for the 2021, and subsequent fishing years.
    NMFS notes that recreational landings in the 2013, 2016, and 2018 
fishing years, have exceeded the recreational ACL proposed in this 
rule. The increased buffers between the recreational ACL and ACT are 
expected to reduce the risk of the recreational sector exceeding its 
ACL.

Measure in the Framework Action but not Codified in This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the other measures contained in this proposed rule, 
the framework action would also revise the Gulf gray triggerfish stock 
ABC. As a result of the gray triggerfish interim analysis, and the 
recommendation of the Council's SSC, the framework action would 
increase the Gulf gray triggerfish stock ABC from 305,300 lb (138,482 
kg), round weight, to 456,900 lb (207,246 kg), round weight. The stock 
ACL would remain equal to the stock ABC. A buffer between the stock ABC 
and ACL was not recommended by the Council's Reef Fish AP as a result 
of wanting to retain the management approach currently in use for gray 
triggerfish by the Council of setting the stock ACL equal to the ABC. 
In addition, the increased ABC is 37.5 percent of the OFL (1,220,000 lb 
(553,383 kg), round weight). This large difference between the ABC and 
OFL reduces the risk of overfishing of the gray triggerfish stock.

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 framework action, the FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has 
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 follows.
    A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, 
and the objectives of this proposed rule are contained in the preamble. 
The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed 
rule.
    This proposed rule would apply to all federally-permitted 
commercial vessels and recreational anglers that fish for or harvest 
gray triggerfish in Federal waters of the Gulf. It would not directly 
apply to or regulate charter vessels and headboats (for-hire vessels). 
For-hire vessels sell fishing services to recreational anglers. The 
proposed changes to the gray triggerfish management measures would not 
directly alter the services sold by these vessels. Any change in demand 
for these fishing services, and associated economic effects, as a 
result of this proposed rule would be a consequence of a behavioral 
change by anglers, secondary to any direct effect on anglers and, 
therefore, an indirect effect of the proposed rule. Because the effects 
on for-hire vessels would be indirect, they

[[Page 20651]]

fall outside the scope of the RFA. Furthermore, for-hire captains and 
crew are allowed to retain gray triggerfish under the recreational bag 
limit; however, they are not allowed to sell these fish. As such, for-
hire captains and crew would be directly affected only as recreational 
anglers. Recreational anglers who would be directly affected by this 
proposed rule are not considered small entities under the RFA, and are, 
therefore, outside the scope of this analysis. 5 U.S.C. 603. Small 
entities include ``small businesses,'' ``small organizations,'' and 
``small governmental jurisdictions.'' 5 U.S.C. 601(6) and 601(3)-(5). 
Recreational anglers are not businesses, organizations, or governmental 
jurisdictions. In summary, only the impacts on commercial vessels will 
be further discussed.
    As of December 8, 2020, there were 831 vessels with Federal limited 
access valid or renewable Gulf reef fish permits, 62 of which had 
longline endorsements. On average from 2015 through 2019, there were 
263 federally permitted commercial vessels each year with reported 
landings of gray triggerfish in the Gulf. Their average annual vessel-
level gross revenue from all species for 2015 through 2019 was 
approximately $158,000 (2019 dollars) and gray triggerfish accounted 
for less than 0.3 percent of this revenue. The maximum annual revenue 
from all species reported by a single one of the commercial vessels 
that landed Gulf gray triggerfish from 2015 through 2019 was 
approximately $2.37 million (2019 dollars).
    For RFA purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size 
standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary 
industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily 
engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its 
affiliated operations worldwide. All of the commercial fishing 
businesses directly regulated by this proposed rule are believed to be 
small entities based on the NMFS size standard. No other small entities 
that would be directly affected by this rule have been identified.
    This proposed rule would modify the commercial and recreational 
ACLs and ACTs for gray triggerfish consistent with the most recent 
interim analysis for gray triggerfish, and recommendations from the 
Council's SSC, the SEFSC, and the Council's Reef Fish AP. Under the 
proposed rule, the commercial ACT would increase by 27,373 lb (12,416 
kg), round weight, which if harvested in full, would correspond to an 
estimated increase in annual ex-vessel revenue of $56,115 (2019 
dollars). Divided by the average number of commercial vessels with 
reported landings of gray triggerfish from 2015 through 2019, this 
would be an annual increase of approximately $213 per vessel. Economic 
benefits to each vessel may vary based on individual fishing practices. 
However, such distributional effects cannot be quantified with 
available data. If annual commercial landings are less than the 
proposed new ACT, the positive economic effects associated with this 
rule would be reduced accordingly.
    The information provided above supports a determination that this 
proposed rule would not have a significant adverse economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been 
prepared.
    No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been 
identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or other 
compliance requirements are introduced by this proposed rule. This 
proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray triggerfish, Gulf, 
Quota, Reef fish.

    Dated: April 16, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.39, revise paragraph (a)(1)(vi) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.39  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (vi) Gray triggerfish--88,273 lb (40,040 kg), round weight.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  622.41, revise the last sentence of paragraph (b)(1) and 
revise paragraph (b)(2)(iii) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * * The commercial ACL is 95,949 lb (43,522 kg), round 
weight.
    (2) * * *
    (iii) The recreational ACL for gray triggerfish is 360,951 lb 
(163,725 kg), round weight. The recreational ACT for gray triggerfish 
is 274,323 lb (124,431 kg), round weight.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2021-08248 Filed 4-20-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P