Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 61, 40353-40368 [2021-16070]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations F. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered 76. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): ‘‘(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rules for such small entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.’’ 77. The Commission’s rate caps differentiate between prisons, larger jails, and jails with average daily populations below 1,000 to account for differences in costs incurred by providers servicing these different facility types. The Commission adopts new interim interstate provider-related rate caps for prisons and larger jails and for collect calls from jails with average daily populations below 1,000. The Commission believes these actions properly recognize that, in comparison to prisons and larger jails, jails with average daily populations below 1,000 may be relatively high-cost facilities for providers to serve. The Commission also adopts rate caps for international calls originating from facilities of any size. 78. The Commission adopts new interim interstate facility-related rate components for prisons and larger jails to allow providers to recover portions of site commission payments estimated to be directly related to the provision of inmate calling services and to separately list these charges on consumers’ bills. Providers must determine whether a site commission payment is either (1) mandated pursuant to state statute, or law or regulation and adopted pursuant to state administrative procedure statutes where there is notice and an opportunity for public comment that operates independently of the contracting process between correctional institutions and providers (Legally Mandated facility rate component), or (2) results from contractual obligations reflecting negotiations between providers and correctional facilities arising from the bidding and subsequent contracting process (the Contractually Prescribed facility rate component). For Legally Mandated site commission payments, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 providers may pass these payments through to consumers without any markup, as an additional component of the new interim interstate per-minute rate cap. For Contractually Prescribed site commission payments, providers may recover an amount up to $0.02 per minute to account for these costs. To promote increased transparency, the Third Report and Order requires providers to clearly label a Legally Mandated or Contractually Prescribed facility rate component, as applicable, in the rates and charges portion of a consumer’s bill, including disclosing the source of such provider’s obligation to pay that facility-related rate component. 79. The Commission recognizes that it cannot foreclose the possibility that in certain limited instances, the interim rate caps may not be sufficient for certain providers to recover their costs of providing interstate and international inmate calling services. To minimize the burden on providers, the Commission adopts a waiver process that allows providers to seek relief from its rules at the facility or contract level if they can demonstrate that they are unable to recover their legitimate inmate calling services-related costs at that facility or for that contract. The Commission will review submitted waivers and potentially raise each applicable rate cap to a level that enables the provider to recover the costs of providing inmate calling services at that facility. This waiver opportunity should benefit any inmate calling services providers that may be small businesses and that are unable to recover their interstate and international costs under the new interim rate caps. G. Report to Congress 80. The Commission will send a copy of the Third Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, including this Supplemental FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. In addition, the Commission will send a copy of the Order on Reconsideration, including this Supplemental FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. A copy of the Order on Reconsideration, and Supplemental FRFA (or summaries thereof) will also be published in the Federal Register. VII. Ordering Clauses 81. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i)–(j), 201(b), 218, 220, 225, 255, 276, 403, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 40353 amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i)–(j), 201(b), 218, 220, 225, 255, 276, 403, and 617, this Order on Reconsideration is adopted. 82. It is further ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i)–(j), 201(b), 218, 220, 225, 255, 276, 403, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i)–(j), 201(b), 218, 220, 225, 255, 276, 403, and 617, the Petition for Reconsideration, filed November 23, 2020, by Global Tel*Link Corp. is denied in full and dismissed in part as described herein. 83. It is further ordered that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration, including the Supplemental Final Regulatory Flexibility Analyses, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2021–14729 Filed 7–27–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 210723–0150] RIN 0648–BK24 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 61 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This action approves and implements Framework Adjustment 61 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule revises the status determination criteria for Georges Bank and Southern New England-Mid Atlantic winter flounder, implements a revised rebuilding plan for white hake, sets or adjusts catch limits for 17 of the 20 multispecies (groundfish) stocks, and implements a universal exemption for sectors to target Acadian redfish. This action is necessary to respond to updated scientific information and to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40354 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Table of Contents achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The final measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management measures are based on the best scientific information available. DATES: 1. Summary of Approved Measures 2. Status Determination Criteria 3. Rebuilding Plan for White Hake 4. Fishing Year 2021 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas 5. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021–2023 6. Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish (Redfish) 7. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 61 Proposed Rule 8. Changes From the Proposed Rule Effective July 27, 2021. Copies of Framework Adjustment 61, including the Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council in support of this action, are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents are also accessible via the internet at: https:// www.nefmc.org/management-plans/ northeast-multispecies or https:// www.regulations.gov. ADDRESSES: Liz Sullivan, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone: 978–282–8493; email: Liz.Sullivan@ noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1. Summary of Approved Measures This action approves the management measures in Framework Adjustment 61 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The measures implemented in this final rule: • Revise the status determination criteria (SDC) for Georges Bank (GB) and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) winter flounder and provide the numeric estimates of the SDCs for these stocks, based on the peer review recommendations; • Implement a revised rebuilding plan for white hake; • Set fishing year 2021 shared U.S./ Canada quotas for GB yellowtail flounder and eastern GB cod and haddock; • Set 2021–2023 specifications, including catch limits, for nine groundfish stocks and adjust 2021–2022 allocations for seven other groundfish stocks; and • Implement a universal exemption for sectors to target redfish. 2. Status Determination Criteria The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducted management track stock assessment updates in 2020 for nine groundfish stocks. This action revises SDCs for GB and SNE/MA winter flounder, and provides updated numerical estimates of these criteria, in order to incorporate the results of the 2020 stock assessments and based on the peer review recommendations from the 2020 stock assessments. Table 1 provides the revisions to the SDCs for GB and SNE/MA winter flounder, and Table 2 provides the resulting numerical estimates of the SDCs. While the numeric estimates are updated based on the revision to the SDCs, we are not changing the stock statuses for both stocks as a result of this update. We provided an explanation of the basis for the revision to the SDCs in the proposed rule (86 FR 33191, June 24, 2021), and it is not repeated here. TABLE 1—STATUS DETERMINATION CRITERIA Biomass target (SSBMSY or proxy) Stock GB Winter Flounder: Previous SDC ................................. Revised SDC .................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder: Previous SDC ................................. Revised SDC .................................. Minimum biomass threshold SSBMSY ................................................. SSBMSY: SSB/R (40 percent MSP) ...... 12 SSBMSY ................................................. SSBMSY: SSB/R (40 percent MSP) ...... 12 Maximum fishing mortality threshold (FMSY or proxy) ⁄ Btarget .............. ⁄ Btarget .............. FMSY. F–40 percent of MSP. ⁄ Btarget .............. ⁄ Btarget .............. FMSY. F–40 percent of MSP. 12 12 SSB = spawning stock biomass; MSY = maximum sustainable yield; Btarget = target biomass; F = fishing mortality; SSB/R = spawning stock biomass per recruit; MSP = maximum spawning potential. TABLE 2—NUMERICAL ESTIMATES OF STATUS DETERMINATION CRITERIA BMSY or proxy (mt) FMSY or proxy VPA ............................ VPA ............................ 7,394 7,267 0.358 0.358 2,612 2,573 ASAP ......................... ASAP ......................... 31,567 12,322 0.260 0.284 9,102 3,906 Stock Model/approach GB Winter Flounder: Using previous SDC ..................................................................... Using revised SDC ....................................................................... SNE/MA Winter Flounder: Using previous SDC ..................................................................... Using revised SDC ....................................................................... MSY (mt) VPA = virtual population analysis; ASAP = age-structured assessment program. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 3. Rebuilding Plan for White Hake Framework 61 revises the rebuilding plan for white hake, which we more fully described in the proposed rule and Appendix III of the Framework 61 Environmental Assessment (EA; see ADDRESSES for information on how to get this document). The approved VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 rebuilding plan for white hake sets the fishing mortality (F) rate that is required to rebuild the stock (Frebuild) at 70 percent of the fishing mortality rate associated with maximum sustainable yield (FMSY) with an 87-percent probability of achieving the biomass associated with maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) by 2031, the end of the PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 rebuilding plan. As explained in more detail in Appendix III of the EA, the approved rebuilding plan accounts for the white hake’s stock status, the needs of fishing communities, and the interaction of white hake with other multispecies in the groundfish fishery. E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40355 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 4. Fishing Year 2021 Shared U.S./ Canada Quotas States/Canada Resource Sharing Understanding. This action adopts shared U.S./Canada quotas for these stocks for fishing year 2021 based on 2020 assessments and the recommendations of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) and consistent with the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks As described in the proposed rule, eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are jointly managed with Canada under the United Committee (SSC) recommendations. The 2021 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country’s allocation, are listed in Table 3. Detailed summaries of the assessments can be found at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-englandmid-atlantic/international-affairs/ population-dynamics-internationalcollaboration. TABLE 3—2021 FISHING YEAR U.S./CANADA QUOTAS AND PERCENT OF QUOTA ALLOCATED TO EACH COUNTRY [mt, live weight] Quota Eastern GB cod Eastern GB haddock Total Shared Quota ....................... U.S. Quota ..................................... Canadian Quota ............................. 635 ................................................ 190.5 (30 percent) ........................ 444.5 (70 percent) ........................ 14,100 ........................................... 6,486 (46 percent) ........................ 7,614 (54 percent) ........................ The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the U.S. quota in the following fishing year. Based on preliminary data through June 22, 2021, the U.S. fishery did not exceed its 2020 fishing year quota for any of the shared stocks. However, if final catch accounting for the 2020 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery exceeded its quota for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the respective U.S. quotas for the 2021 fishing year in an adjustment action, as soon as possible in the 2021 fishing year. If any fishery that is allocated a portion of the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation and causes an overage of the overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction would be applied only to that fishery’s allocation in the following fishing year. This ensures that catch by one component of the overall fishery does not negatively affect another component of the overall fishery. 5. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021– 2023 Summary of the Catch Limits This rule replaces default specifications as discussed in detail in the proposed rule and adopts catch limits for nine groundfish stocks for the 2021–2023 fishing years based on stock assessments completed in 2020, and fishing year 2021–2022 specifications for GB yellowtail flounder. Framework 59 (85 FR 45794; July 30, 2020) previously set 2021–2022 quotas for the 10 groundfish stocks not assessed in GB yellowtail flounder 125. 80 (64 percent). 45 (36 percent). 2020, based on assessments conducted in 2019. This action includes minor adjustments for seven of these stocks for fishing years 2021–2022. The catch limits implemented in this action, including overfishing limits (OFL), acceptable biological catches (ABC), and annual catch limits (ACL), are listed in Tables 4 through 12. A summary of how these catch limits were developed, including the distribution to the various fishery components, was provided in the proposed rule and in Appendix II (Calculation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Limits, FY 2021–FY 2023) to the EA, and is not repeated here. The sector and common pool sub-ACLs implemented in this action are based on fishing year 2021 potential sector contributions (PSC) and final fishing year 2021 sector rosters. TABLE 4—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 OVERFISHING LIMITS AND ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCHES [mt, live weight] 2021 Percent change from 2020 Stock khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES OFL GB Cod ........................ GOM Cod ..................... GB Haddock ................. GOM Haddock ............. GB Yellowtail Flounder SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ................... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ................... American Plaice ........... Witch Flounder ............. GB Winter Flounder ..... GOM Winter Flounder * SNE/MA Winter Flounder * .......................... Redfish * ....................... White Hake .................. Pollock .......................... N. Windowpane Flounder ............................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 U.S. ABC 2022 OFL 2023 U.S. ABC OFL U.S. ABC UNK 929 116,883 21,521 UNK 1,308 552 82,723 16,794 80 1 0 ¥37 ¥15 ¥33 UNK 1,150 114,925 14,834 UNK 1,308 552 81,242 11,526 80 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 71 22 0 184 22 ........................ ........................ 1,076 3,740 UNK 865 662 823 2,881 1,483 608 497 0 ¥9 0 8 11 1,116 3,687 UNK 974 662 823 2,825 1,483 608 497 ........................ ........................ ........................ 1,431 662 ........................ ........................ ........................ 608 497 1,438 13,519 2,906 28,475 456 10,186 2,147 22,062 ¥37 ¥15 0 ¥20 1,438 13,354 2,986 21,744 456 10,062 2,147 16,812 1,438 13,229 ........................ ........................ 456 9,967 ........................ ........................ UNK 160 171 UNK 160 UNK 160 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40356 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 4—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 OVERFISHING LIMITS AND ACCEPTABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCHES—Continued [mt, live weight] 2021 Percent change from 2020 Stock OFL S. Windowpane Flounder ............................ Ocean Pout * ................ Atlantic Halibut ............. Atlantic Wolffish * ......... U.S. ABC 513 125 UNK 122 2022 OFL ¥10 ¥31 ¥5 2 384 87 101 92 2023 U.S. ABC 513 125 UNK 122 OFL 384 87 101 92 U.S. ABC 513 125 UNK 122 384 87 101 92 UNK = Unknown. Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits would be set in a future action. TABLE 5—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2021 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Stock GB Cod ............. GOM Cod .......... GB Haddock ...... GOM Haddock .. GB Yellowtail Flounder ......... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ......... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ......... American Plaice Witch Flounder .. GB Winter Flounder ......... GOM Winter Flounder ......... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ......... Redfish .............. White Hake ........ Pollock ............... N. Windowpane Flounder ......... S. Windowpane Flounder ......... Ocean Pout ....... Atlantic Halibut .. Atlantic Wolffish Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 1,250 523 78,574 15,843 1,093 463 76,622 15,575 1,045 262 74,096 10,023 48 8.2 2,526 258 .................... 193 .................... 5,295 .................... .................... 1,539 156 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 20 48 0 56 137 12 414 56 78 64 59 5.1 .................... .................... 12 1.5 0.0 0.0 21 16 12 3.6 .................... .................... 2.0 .................... 0.2 3.3 787 2,740 1,414 692 2,682 1,317 651 2,592 1,273 41 90 44 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 58 29 44 37 29 52 591 563 517 47 .................... .................... .................... .................... 0 27 482 281 267 14 .................... .................... .................... .................... 194 7.5 441 9,677 2,041 21,086 288 9,677 2,019 18,549 247 9,537 1,994 18,355 41 139 25 193 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 21 0 11 1,434 132 0 11 1,103 150 108 na 108 .................... .................... 31 .................... 0.8 10 371 83 97 86 43 50 73 86 na na na na 43 50 73 86 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 129 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 23 0 20 0 177 33 3.5 0 na: not allocated to sectors. TABLE 6—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2022 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Stock GB Cod ............. GOM Cod .......... GB Haddock ...... GOM Haddock .. GB Yellowtail Flounder ......... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ......... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ......... American Plaice Witch Flounder .. GB Winter Flounder ......... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 1,250 523 77,168 10,873 1,093 463 75,250 10,690 1,045 262 72,770 6,879 48 8.2 2,481 177 .................... 193 .................... 3,634 .................... .................... 1,511 107 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 20 48 0 38 137 12 406 38 78 64 59 5.1 .................... .................... 12 1.5 0 0 21 16 12 3.6 .................... .................... 2.0 .................... 0.2 3.3 787 2,687 1,414 692 2,630 1,317 651 2,542 1,273 41 89 44 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 58 28 44 37 28 52 591 563 517 47 .................... .................... .................... .................... 0 27 18:15 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40357 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 6—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2022 FISHING YEAR—Continued [mt, live weight] Stock GOM Winter Flounder ......... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ......... Redfish .............. White Hake ........ Pollock ............... N. Windowpane Flounder ......... S. Windowpane Flounder ......... Ocean Pout ....... Atlantic Halibut .. Atlantic Wolffish Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H 482 281 267 14 .................... .................... .................... .................... 194 7.5 441 9,559 2,041 16,068 288 9,559 2,019 14,135 247 9,421 1,994 13,988 41 138 25 147 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 21 0 11 1,093 132 0 11 841 150 108 na 108 .................... .................... 31 .................... 0.8 10 371 83 97 86 43 50 73 86 na na na na 43 50 73 86 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 129 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 23 0 20 0 177 33 3.5 0 na: not allocated to sectors. TABLE 7—CATCH LIMITS FOR THE 2023 FISHING YEAR [mt, live weight] Stock GB Cod * ........... GOM Cod * ........ GB Haddock * .... GOM Haddock * GB Yellowtail Flounder ** ..... SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder * ....... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder * ....... American Plaice * ........... Witch Flounder * GB Winter Flounder ......... GOM Winter Flounder ......... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ......... Redfish .............. White Hake *. Pollock *. N. Windowpane Flounder ......... S. Windowpane Flounder ......... Ocean Pout ....... Atlantic Halibut .. Atlantic Wolffish Total ACL Groundfish sub-ACL Sector sub-ACL Common pool sub-ACL Recreational sub-ACL Midwater trawl fishery Scallop fishery Small-mesh fisheries State waters subcomponent Other subcomponent A to H A+B+C A B C D E F G H .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 591 563 517 47 .................... .................... .................... .................... 0 27 482 281 267 14 .................... .................... .................... .................... 194 7.5 441 9,469 288 9,469 247 9,332 41 136 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 21 0 132 0 150 108 na 108 .................... .................... 31 .................... 0.8 10 371 83 97 86 43 50 73 86 na na na na 43 50 73 86 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 129 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... 23 0 20 0 177 33 3.5 0 na: not allocated to sectors. * These stocks only have an allocation for fishing years 2021–2022, previously approved in Framework 59. ** Framework 61 approves allocations for GB yellowtail flounder for fishing years 2021 and 2022 only. TABLE 8—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS [mt, live weight] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 2021 2022 2023 Stock GB Cod ..................................... GOM Cod .................................. GB Haddock .............................. GOM Haddock .......................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ............. SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder ..... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder .... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Jul 27, 2021 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 13.4 4.0 682.0 69.6 1.0 0.8 23.6 16.3 2.7 833.5 67.1 1.5 1.0 10.8 18.2 1.5 1010.4 121.2 2.6 1.8 7.0 13.4 4.0 669.8 47.8 1.0 0.8 23.6 16.3 2.7 818.6 46.0 1.5 1.0 10.8 18.2 1.5 992.3 83.2 2.6 1.8 7.0 .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... .................... Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40358 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 8—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 COMMON POOL TRIMESTER TACS—Continued [mt, live weight] 2021 2022 2023 Stock Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 Trimester 1 Trimester 2 Trimester 3 66.8 24.3 3.7 5.1 34.8 9.5 54.1 7.2 8.8 11.2 5.3 43.2 7.8 67.6 16.3 11.0 31.7 3.5 61.3 7.8 71.5 65.5 24.3 3.7 5.1 34.4 9.5 41.2 7.1 8.8 11.2 5.3 42.7 7.8 51.5 15.9 11.0 31.7 3.5 60.6 7.8 54.5 .................... .................... 3.7 5.1 34.1 .................... .................... .................... .................... 11.2 5.3 42.3 .................... .................... .................... .................... 31.7 3.5 60.0 .................... .................... American Plaice ........................ Witch Flounder .......................... GB Winter Flounder .................. GOM Winter Flounder ............... Redfish ...................................... White Hake ................................ Pollock ....................................... TABLE 9—COMMON POOL INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR THE 2021–2023 FISHING YEARS [mt, live weight] Percentage of common pool sub-ACL Stock GB Cod ............................................................................................................ GOM Cod ......................................................................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder .................................................................................... CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ........................................................................... American Plaice ............................................................................................... Witch Flounder ................................................................................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ................................................................................ 2020 1.68 1 2 1 5 5 1 2021 0.81 0.08 0.10 0.41 4.51 2.21 0.41 2022 0.81 0.08 0.10 0.41 4.43 2.21 0.41 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 0.41 TABLE 10—PERCENTAGE OF INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS DISTRIBUTED TO EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM Eastern U.S./ CA haddock SAP (percent) Regular B DAS program (percent) Stock GB Cod .................................................................................................................................................................... GOM Cod ................................................................................................................................................................. GB Yellowtail Flounder ............................................................................................................................................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder .................................................................................................................................. American Plaice ....................................................................................................................................................... Witch Flounder ......................................................................................................................................................... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ........................................................................................................................................ 60 100 50 100 100 100 100 40 n/a 50 n/a n/a n/a n/a TABLE 11—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS FOR EACH SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM [mt, live weight] Regular B DAS program Eastern U.S./Canada haddock SAP Stock 2021 GB Cod .................................................... GOM Cod ................................................. GB Yellowtail Flounder ............................ CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ................... American Plaice ....................................... Witch Flounder ......................................... SNE/MA Winter Flounder ........................ 2022 0.48 0.08 0.05 0.41 4.51 2.21 0.41 2023 0.48 0.08 0.05 0.41 4.43 2.21 0.41 2021 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ 0.41 2022 0.32 n/a 0.05 n/a n/a n/a n/a 2023 0.32 n/a 0.05 n/a n/a n/a n/a ........................ n/a ........................ n/a n/a n/a n/a TABLE 12—FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 REGULAR B DAS PROGRAM QUARTERLY INCIDENTAL CATCH TACS [mt, live weight] 2021 1st Quarter (13 percent) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Stock GB Cod ......................................................... GOM Cod ...................................................... GB Yellowtail Flounder ................................. CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder ........................ American Plaice ............................................ Witch Flounder .............................................. SNE/MA Winter Flounder ............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Jul 27, 2021 0.06 0.01 0.007 0.05 0.59 0.29 0.05 Jkt 253001 2nd Quarter (29 percent) 0.14 0.02 0.015 0.12 1.31 0.64 0.12 PO 00000 2022 3rd Quarter (29 percent) 0.14 0.02 0.015 0.12 1.31 0.64 0.12 Frm 00060 4th Quarter (29 percent) 0.14 0.02 0.015 0.12 1.31 0.64 0.12 Fmt 4700 1st Quarter (13 percent) 0.06 0.01 0.01 0.05 0.58 0.29 0.05 Sfmt 4700 2nd Quarter (29 percent) 0.14 0.02 0.01 0.12 1.28 0.64 0.12 2023 3rd Quarter (29 percent) 4th Quarter (29 percent) 0.14 0.02 0.01 0.12 1.28 0.64 0.12 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 0.14 0.02 0.01 0.12 1.28 0.64 0.12 1st Quarter (13 percent) 2nd Quarter (29 percent) 3rd Quarter (29 percent) 4th Quarter (29 percent) ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 0.05 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 0.12 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 0.12 ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ 0.12 28JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Sector Annual Catch Entitlements (ACE) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES At the start of the 2021 fishing year, we allocated stocks to each sector, based on the catch limits set by prior frameworks. This rule updates the ACE allocated to sectors based on the catch limits approved in Framework 61, fishing year 2021 PSC, and final fishing year 2021 sector rosters. We calculate a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 sector’s allocation for each stock by summing its members’ PSC for the stock and then multiplying that total percentage by the commercial sub-ACL for that stock. The process for allocating ACE to sectors is further described in the final rule allocating ACE to sectors for fishing year 2021 (86 FR 22898; April 30, 2021) and is not repeated here. PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 40359 Table 13 shows the cumulative PSC by stock for each sector for fishing year 2021. Tables 14 and 15 show the ACEs allocated to each sector for fishing year 2021, in pounds and metric tons, respectively. We have included the common pool sub-ACLs in tables 13 through 15 for comparison. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 40360 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 253001 .e z j "' PO 00000 Fixed Gear Sector Maine Coast Community Sector •. B ~ .,, B El .,, B :. 8 -5 .§ ~ El .,,] ~ "' it ~§ ;,, = c.:, ~ "'.: c.:, "' I i z "' . ~ :. 6 . ~ ~: 8i -i .; $ .iiH! .Ii ~s ii :. 6 8.: i1 !;]'" ~ ~ . .i ~ I,, I,, ..,, ~ Ji Ill -5 &! ] ~ ~ "' 66 12.91201525 0.69970954 1.96267839 0.18099559 0.01093447 0.19005237 1.70866378 0.50303247 1.09848991 0.02003390 8.02535090 1.02747169 0.56965180 1.07558798 3.41104460 100 2.46465820 14.32831077 3.41760008 11.09853612 2.62555258 2.56811874 4.98632158 13.90683769 11.13417790 1.20530346 5.56725060 2.00900077 9.71980227 14.29807630 13.45174502 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Maine Permit Bank 11 0.13361161 1.15527371 0.04432773 1.12456784 0.01377701 0.03180705 0.31794656 1.16407704 0.72688466 0.00021715 0.42663133 0.01789123 0.82190541 1.65423037 1.69506266 Mooncusser Sector 48 11.95940509 6.22441724 3.83051665 3.68870155 1.22307304 0.85547320 3.01233271 0.85789918 1.81231812 0.94550207 2.84735133 2.44445581 4.74534752 10.66178384 10.52833852 NEFS2 127 6.50377730 26.60642444 10.68672011 22.23639211 1.90722660 1.65680176 25.06542516 11.18795860 14.64245378 3.21713432 24.52914050 4.17525707 15.19764105 8.97809039 14.53817798 NEFS4 58 7.40278746 11.14715279 5.81741902 8.87488520 2.16178984 2.26424835 6.38868785 9.51519683 8.85678156 0.69256896 7.43025795 0.99122070 6.67292713 8.26904075 6.86549108 NEFS5 22 0.47171697 0.32173996 0.58091379 0.11414072 1.05907256 18.39722054 0.94737902 0.46136022 0.65508997 0.31546201 0.84237741 11.30626214 0.01842240 0.08282167 0.03832046 NEFS6 23 3.11400760 2.92154892 3.58633261 4.39667574 3.30346794 5.11479613 4.18474608 4.55131759 6.00691065 1.72190154 4.75208259 1.90633969 6.81082532 4.52244826 3.66490102 Sfmt 4725 NEFS7 7 0.46305698 0.02291312 0.39735538 0.01682579 1.30011492 1.03798542 0.05122608 0.25069186 0.25401118 0.30163925 0.05425034 0.18875853 0.15784019 0.07884075 0.18125420 NEFS8 52 9.74740165 2.36155604 9.19478219 5.08770917 22.13250390 7.55578310 6.88682924 7.61264285 6.36103710 29.74215982 3.95221384 10.21118534 5.31534068 4.49126659 4.00416803 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 NEFS 10 29 0.52585353 2.47139968 0.17673209 1.28210628 0.00114846 0.54787117 4.28071114 1.08110214 2.04602336 0.01083157 9.10605344 0.60104219 0.33492866 0.65504499 0.76337372 NEFS 11 43 0.39631081 l 1.55197634 0.03469810 2.78851224 0.00148374 0.01147434 2.43786953 1.58857268 1.60337452 0.00305958 2.04949811 0.02122336 1.87813755 4.30520429 8.77057673 NEFS 12 22 0.62936609 3.13340099 0.09375956 1.08960389 0.00042969 0.03423699 8.58774919 0.79724602 0.62375273 0.00060545 13.19945544 0.25920606 0.22794000 0.29614103 0.77811802 NEFS 13 70 12.65390016 0.80182096 21.35179272 0.97739231 36.32284531 23.98638456 7.00125506 8.74395988 9.65967443 19.43367782 2.32792940 17.66348486 4.43539316 2.27032027 2.70789206 New Hampshire Permit Bank 4 0.00082216 1.14551884 0.00003406 0.03234889 0.00002026 0.00001788 0.02180780 0.02847787 0.00615970 0.00000324 0.06070545 0.00003630 0.01940243 0.08135666 0.11135242 Sustainable Harvest Sector I 30 5.57899029 2.98581817 7.55457484 9.03142800 3.19074027 1.07671984 2.83579743 11.36677073 9.28674073 7.82278738 2.56491779 3.04430302 8.25371859 12.69547070 6.46257663 28 3.67707499 1.67621458 1.80758272 1.49630004 5.08889227 4.55761667 5.67454721 2.88513497 2.46063067 8.67082704 4.21283994 8.32194044 1.13510819 1.90338847 1.27911759 58 16.98068153 7.39596460 26.16564167 23.97370662 11.63547821 7.10548269 9.62314826 20.13175298 19.41125647 17.60739462 3.10048367 21.67414282 32.24513087 22.44023779 19.70729108 Common Pool 511 4.38456235 3.04883932 3.29653828 2.50917190 8.02144893 23.00790920 5.98755633 3.36596842 3.35423255 8.28889083 4.95120998 14.13677799 1.44053678 1.24064892 1.04119820 Sector Total 798 95.62 96.95 96.70 97.49 91.98 76.99 94.01 96.63 96.65 91.71 95.05 85.86 98.56 98.76 98.96 Sustainable Harvest Sector2 Sustainable Harvest Sector 3 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 ER28JY21.022</GPH> Table 13 -- Cumulative PSC (percentage) each sector is receiving by stock for fishing year 2021 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES VerDate Sep<11>2014 = ~ ""u I ; u"" 0 ~ ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ ~ ~ 0 """"" = "' it =" = = 0"" :;I"' i"'""~ 8ii ·i ~i~ u = ~ ll ""== £ ~ " "Cl~ .s~" : ll .et ~ -g .i~-ll- -= ,: ~ =" ~ es ""u es Fixed Gear Sector 54 257 4 281 3,035 41 0 0 26 30 32 0 50 7 122 48 1,395 Maine Coast Community Sector 10 49 85 489 5,284 2,516 4 I 76 822 323 15 34 13 2,074 637 5,501 Maine Permit Bank I 3 7 6 69 255 0 0 5 69 21 0 3 0 175 74 693 Mooncusser Sector 50 238 37 548 5,923 836 2 0 46 51 53 12 18 16 1,012 475 4,305 NEFS2 27 129 159 1,528 16,524 5,040 3 I 382 662 425 40 152 27 3,242 400 5,945 NEFS4 31 147 66 832 8,995 2,012 3 I 97 563 257 9 46 6 1,424 368 2,807 NEFS5 2 9 2 83 898 26 I 6 14 27 19 4 5 72 4 4 16 NEFS6 13 62 17 513 5,545 997 5 2 64 269 174 21 29 12 1,453 201 1,499 Sector Name 0 0 :;I Jkt 253001 8 """"" = es ill~ es :;I 0 iJ ><.Si ~f", iJ 00 ~ 0 u fi: :§lg ~ fi: i;; ~ ~ ~ .Si iJ f", ~ s 8ii: :;I il ~ ""~ f", 1~ =a ~ 00 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM NEFS7 2 9 0 57 614 4 2 0 I 15 7 4 0 I 34 4 74 NEFS8 41 194 14 1,315 14,217 1,153 31 3 105 450 185 369 24 65 1,134 200 1,637 NEFS 10 2 10 15 25 273 291 0 0 65 64 59 0 56 4 71 29 312 NEFS 11 2 8 69 5 54 632 0 0 37 94 47 0 13 0 401 192 3,587 NEFS 12 3 13 19 13 145 247 0 0 131 47 18 0 82 2 49 13 318 NEFS 13 53 252 5 3,053 33,015 222 51 8 107 517 281 241 14 112 946 101 1,107 28JYR1 New Hampshire Permit Bank Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 Sustainable Harvest Sector 2 0 0 7 0 0 7 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 4 4 46 23 Ill 18 1,080 11,681 2,047 4 0 43 672 270 97 16 19 1,761 565 2,643 15 73 10 258 2,795 339 7 2 87 171 71 108 26 53 242 85 523 Sustainable Harvest Sector 3 71 338 44 3,741 40,458 5,434 16 2 147 1,190 564 219 19 138 6,879 999 8,059 Common Pool Sector Total 18 87 18 471 5 097 569 11 8 91 199 97 103 31 90 307 55 426 402 1903 578 13 828 149 527 22 097 129 26 I 434 5 714 2 807 I 139 589 545 21 026 4 396 40467 Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand pounds. In some cases, this table shows an allocation of 0, but that sector may be allocated a small amount of that stock in tens or hundreds pounds. /\ The data in the table represent the total allocations to each sector. # Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Table 14 -- ACE (in 1,000 lb), by stock, for each sector for fishing year 2021 #A 40361 ER28JY21.023</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 40362 VerDate Sep<11>2014 ~ a,l 'O I 'O 0 ~ ~ ~ 'O 'O "'" it == = t ~"'" ~ ~ :;I"' 'O ~ 8ii u :§lg -~.: = = ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ t ~ Jkt 253001 i~ .e- :t -= ,: 'O 8ri: "' ~ ~ ~ 1~ .St =" ~ PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM €5 =~ €5 0 \!) ="" 2 127 1,377 19 0 0 12 13 14 0 23 3 55 22 633 22 39 222 2,397 1,141 2 0 35 373 147 7 16 6 941 289 2,495 0 1 3 3 31 116 0 0 2 31 10 0 1 0 80 33 314 Mooncusser Sector 23 108 17 248 2,687 379 1 0 21 23 24 5 8 7 459 215 1,953 NEFS2 12 59 72 693 7,495 2,286 1 0 173 300 193 18 69 12 1,471 181 2,697 NEFS4 14 67 30 377 4,080 912 1 0 44 255 117 4 21 3 646 167 1,273 NEFS 5 1 4 1 38 407 12 1 3 7 12 9 2 2 33 2 2 7 NEFS6 6 28 8 233 2,515 452 2 1 29 122 79 10 13 5 659 91 680 NEFS7 1 4 0 26 279 2 1 0 0 7 3 2 0 1 15 2 34 NEFS 8 19 88 6 596 6,449 523 14 1 48 204 84 168 11 29 514 91 743 NEFS 10 1 5 7 11 124 132 0 0 30 29 27 0 26 2 32 13 142 NEFS 11 1 4 31 2 24 287 0 0 17 43 21 0 6 0 182 87 1,627 Sector Name 0 'O 0 u u €5 €5 Fixed Gear Sector 25 117 Maine Coast Community Sector 5 Maine Permit Bank u :;I 8 :g -= ="" a,l 'O ~ 'O ~ =" :;I 'O 0 ~ ;;. .Si \!) ~ig = 00 ~ 0 fi: u ~ fi: ~ i ~§ =.Si \!)"" ~ii :;I is .!i 'O ~~ NEFS 12 1 6 8 6 66 112 0 0 59 21 8 0 37 1 22 6 144 NEFS 13 24 114 2 1,385 14,975 100 23 4 48 235 127 109 7 51 429 46 502 New Hampshire Permit Bank 0 0 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 21 11 50 8 490 5,298 929 2 0 20 305 122 44 7 9 799 256 1,199 28JYR1 Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 Sustainable Harvest Sector 2 7 33 5 117 1,268 154 3 1 39 77 32 49 12 24 110 38 237 Sustainable Harvest Sector 3 32 153 20 1,697 18,352 2,465 7 1 67 540 256 99 9 62 3,120 453 3,655 Common Pool 8 40 8 214 2,312 258 5 4 41 90 44 47 14 41 139 25 193 Sector Total 182 863 262 6,272 67,824 10,023 59 12 651 2,592 1,273 517 267 247 9,537 1,994 18,355 # Numbers are rounded to the nearest metric ton, but allocations are made in pounds. In some cases, this table shows a sector allocation of Ometric tons, but that sector may be allocated a small amount of that stock in pounds. /\ The data in the table represent the total allocations to each sector. ER28JY21.024</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Table 15 -- ACE (in metric tons), by stock, for each sector for fishing year 2021 #A Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 6. Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish This rule approves and implements a new universal sector exemption that allows sector vessels to target redfish within a defined area using a 5.5-inch (14.0-centimeter (cm)) mesh codend. Redfish is a healthy stock that sectors already harvest under a sector exemption that is evaluated and approved as part of the sector operations plan process annually or biennially. As part of this rule, we are also eliminating the current sector exemption for redfish, to prevent conflict and confusion between two very similar exemptions, consistent with the Council’s intent to replace the current redfish sector exemption with a new universal redfish exemption for sectors. The approved universal sector exemption expands the current redfish exemption area (Figure 1), creates two seasonal closures of the redfish exemption area, adds a 55-percent or greater annual redfish catch threshold, modifies the existing monthly catch and discard thresholds, and creates provisions that require sectors to be placed in probationary status and/or have their vessels prohibited from using 40363 the universal exemption if catch or discard thresholds are not met. The reporting and monitoring requirements of the universal exemption remain the same as the annually approved redfish exemption; however, those requirements are codified in regulation rather than detailed in sector operations plans. A complete description of the universal exemption is described in the proposed rule, and is not repeated here. The universal redfish exemption, instead of an annual sector exemption, is intended to increase stability for fishery participants and to improve Council oversight of the redfish fishery. Legend c::J ReclflSh Exemption Area 0 - ----· 50 fathom Bathymetry Reclfish Exemption Area Cod Closure 1111 Reclflsh Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II Stalisli~IAreas Groundf1Sh Closure Areas ~ Eastern u.s.rcanada Management Area - ~ Western U.S./Canacla Management Area - - Exclusiw EconoO'lic Zone {EEZ)' (200 nm() Habitat Management Areas khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 3510–22–C 7. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 61 Proposed Rule We received comments on the Framework 61 proposed rule from Sustainable Harvest Sector (SHS), VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 Northeast Sector Service Network (NESSN), Associated Fisheries of Maine (AFM), Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), and the New England Fishery Management Council. Only comments that were applicable to the proposed measures are addressed below. PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 General Comments on Framework 61 Comment 1: NESSN commented in support of NMFS waiving the cooling off period in order to ensure the fishery can continue to operate seamlessly between the default specifications and the implementation of this action. AFM also urged swift approval of the E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 ER28JY21.025</GPH> Figure 1- Universal Redfish Exemption Area 40364 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES framework to prevent a disruption to the fishery due to the expiration of default specifications on July 31. Response 1: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the Classification section of this final rule, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds that there is good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness of this action. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021– 2023 Comment 2: CLF commented that NMFS should disapprove the catch limits for GOM cod and GB cod as proposed in Framework 61, because they will not rebuild the stocks. Additionally, CLF urged NMFS to take emergency action to implement interim measures for GOM cod. Response 2: The OFLs and ABCs for GOM cod and GB cod were set by Framework 59, which was approved on July 28, 2020, and are not subject to approval or disapproval in this action. The changes to the specifications for all groundfish stocks were summarized in Table 4 of the proposed rule. For GOM cod, the only change under consideration in Framework 61 is an adjustment to the sub-components, which results in a change only to the sub-ACLs for the stock. For GB cod, Framework 61 is adjusting the subcomponents, as well as setting a new U.S. ABC, but the total ABC and ACL are unchanged and were not subject to change in this action. The new U.S. ABC is due to a small decrease in the eastern GB cod TAC and a slight increase in the portion of this shared U.S./Canada quota that is allocated to the United States, consistent with the TMGC recommendations. To disapprove the changes as proposed in Framework 61 would mean the continuation of the sub-ACLs and sub-components, and of the U.S. ABC for GB cod, as set by Framework 59. Because the sub-ACLs and sub-components are adjusted based on the most recent catch data for state and other fisheries (see Appendix II of the EA for a full description of this process), disapproval of the proposed changes would result in specifications based on outdated information. Disapproval of the U.S. ABC for GB cod would go against the recommendations of the TMGC. Therefore, we are approving the proposed changes to the specifications of GOM cod and GB cod, which are based on the best scientific information available and consistent with National Standard 2. A request for emergency action would be considered separate from the Council’s recommended measures in this action, and we are therefore not addressing it here. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish Comment 3: SHS, NESSN, and AFM support the universal sector exemption for redfish. AFM cited an increase in the spring survey index for redfish between 2019 and 2021. Response 3: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, we have approved the universal sector exemption for redfish as proposed. Data from the spring 2021 survey will be considered in the next stock assessment for redfish, which will be used to help evaluate the stock status and the performance and appropriateness of this universal exemption. Comment 4: SHS and NESSN identified a typographical error in the regulatory text. In Table 14 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii), the latitude of point H should be 42°00′ N, not 42°20′ N. Response 4: We have corrected the coordinate in the final regulatory text as noted by SHS and NESSN. Comment 5: SHS requested clarification regarding the timing of when a vessel must submit the redfish exemption fishing notification. Under the previous redfish exemption, the notification must be submitted by a vessel once inside the redfish exempted area. SHS asked whether this was also required under the proposed universal sector exemption. Response 5: The commenter is correct that the previous redfish exemption required that vessels submit the notification once the vessel has entered the redfish exemption area, which is also the intent of the new universal redfish exemption. We have updated the regulatory text to make it clear that vessels must enter the redfish exemption area before sending the notification. Comment 6: The New England Council commented regarding the use of the term ‘‘Northeast multispecies,’’ rather than the term ‘‘regulated multispecies and ocean pout,’’ in the regulatory text. Specifically, the Council questioned which term was more appropriate in the paragraph at 648.85(e)(1)(ii)(C), which states ‘‘No vessel may participate in the Redfish Exemption Program in any areas that are otherwise closed to fishing for Northeast multispecies or fishing with trawl gear, including but not limited to year-round closed areas, seasonal closed areas, or habitat closures.’’ The Council expressed concern that this language could be misinterpreted to mean that the universal sector exemption for redfish could not be used in areas where fishing for silver, red, and offshore hake is not permitted, and therefore the use PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 of this term would limit the redfish exemption to a smaller area than what was proposed by the Council in Framework 61. Response 6: We disagree that a change to the regulatory text is needed, but agree with the Council’s intent for the redfish exemption. The regulation that the Council cited is intended to prevent vessels from fishing in closed areas such as regulatory-defined seasonal and permanent closed areas. NMFS does not include regulatory references to such areas in the noted paragraph because doing so would be complex—there are several different sections and paragraphs where these closed areas are included in the regulations. The regulations very clearly distinguish between closed areas and areas where minimum mesh sizes and broad areabased restrictions on fishing apply. As such, NMFS does not agree with the Council’s concern that restrictions in the regulations on small-mesh fisheries represent ‘‘areas closed to Northeast multispecies fishing.’’ Vessels that fish for silver, red, and offshore hake are regulated by a series of exemptions to the Northeast Multispecies FMP. These exemptions allow vessels to be exempt from the minimum mesh size, provided the vessels operate in specific management areas and comply with seasonal closures and possession limits. However, harvest of these stocks is not limited to trips that fall under the smallmesh exemption. It would not be accurate to describe the areas outside the small-mesh exemption areas as being closed for silver, red, and offshore hake, but instead those areas are not open for use of small-mesh gear (unless otherwise exempted, such as through the universal sector exemption to target redfish). Therefore, we do not believe the broader term of ‘‘Northeast multispecies’’ limits the use of the universal sector exemption to areas that are open to the small-mesh exemption. Comment 7: CLF expressed concern about increased bycatch of GB cod in the universal exemption area relative to the 2020 sector exemption area and that there is an insufficient analysis of the impacts of the universal exemption on GB cod. Based on its concerns, CLF commented that NMFS should disapprove the universal exemption as proposed until it has fully analyzed its potential impact. Response 7: The Council conducted a thorough review of the proposed universal exemption relative to the smaller-sized exemption NMFS implemented through sector operations plans in fishing year 2020. The Council used the best available information for its consideration, which is reflected in E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations the EA and appendices for Framework 61 (see ADDRESSES). Based on the available information, the impacts on groundfish species other than redfish resulting from the proposed universal exemption could be slightly negative compared to the current sector exemption. We expect GB cod catch in the universal exemption area to be very low based on the analysis, although possibly slightly higher than catch from the 2020 exemption area. All GB cod catch will still be attributed towards a sector’s ACE and the total GB cod ACL. The analysis also notes a higher level of uncertainty with the annual sector exemption program (if NMFS were to disapprove the universal sector exemption in this action) as it could change from year to year and would use less restrictive performance measures to ensure targeting of redfish and reduced catch of other groundfish species. The universal exemption allows vessels to target the healthy redfish stock while maintaining controls to limit catch of other groundfish, including GB cod, to ensure that catch remains within the catch limits specified for each stock. NMFS has determined that the measure is consistent with the MagnusonStevens Act in part because it minimizes bycatch to the extent practicable while allowing opportunity to target a healthy groundfish stock. We therefore disagree that the measure should be disapproved. Comment 8: CLF commented that if NMFS approves the universal sector exemption, it should require the Council to review the exemption after the next GB cod stock assessment rather than after the next redfish stock assessment. CLF noted that this review is necessary to be responsive to the state of the GB cod stock and to ensure that the exemption is not interfering with the ability to prevent overfishing and rebuild GB cod. Response 8: We disagree that the redfish exemption should incorporate a review of the program following the next assessment of the GB cod stock rather than following the next redfish stock assessment. The review of the redfish exemption following the next redfish stock assessment will ensure that we are not allowing a directed fishery to target a stock with highly efficient gear if the stock is overfished or approaching an overfished condition, is experiencing overfishing, or is otherwise found to be in poor condition. We will evaluate the fishery based on performance standards and overall catch, including GB cod, on an ongoing basis through its monitoring of the fishery. Following assessments for all species and stocks, the Council and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 NMFS must consider all sources of fishing mortality. If the redfish exemption is a source of fishing mortality that needs to be addressed, the Council will need to consider modifications of the redfish exemption and any other sources of unacceptable fishing. Comment 9: CLF commented that NMFS should require 100-percent at-sea monitoring on vessels taking redfish exemption trips to verify all catch— including discards. Response 9: We disagree that trips taken using the universal sector exemption require 100-percent at-sea monitoring in fishing year 2021. We have set the at-sea monitoring coverage level for sectors to monitor their catch on sector trips including redfish exemption trips. The fishing year 2021 coverage level was set at the level that could be practicably achieved in 2021, while the Council continued work on Amendment 23. This coverage level provides data to monitor the sectors’ performance in the universal exemption for both catch accounting and for the sectors to manage participating vessel’s performance and catch. Amendment 23 proposes to increase the at-sea monitoring coverage level to 100 percent, and that action will undergo review and rulemaking beginning later this year. 8. Changes From the Proposed Rule The proposed rule included sector and common pool sub-ACLs based on fishing year 2021 PSCs and final fishing year 2021 sector rosters, but did not include the PSCs and ACEs allocated to each sector. This rule includes this information at the sector level. In the proposed rule, the regulatory text for Table 14 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii) defined the latitude of point H as 42°20′ N. The latitude of point H has been updated to correctly specify 42°00′ N. This rule makes a minor adjustment to the regulatory text of the reporting requirements for the universal redfish exemption to clarify that the redfish exemption fishing notification required prior to fishing under the new universal redfish exemption must be sent after a vessel has entered the redfish exemption area. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 40365 Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. This final rule does not contain policies with federalism or takings implications as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness of this action. This action relies on the best available science to set 2021 catch limits for groundfish stocks and adopts several other measures to improve the management of the groundfish fishery. This final rule must be in effect by August 1, 2021, to capture fully the conservation and economic benefits of Framework 61 and avoid adverse economic impacts. The development of Framework 61 began in June 2020. In October 2020, the Council voted to revise the Council’s 2020 priorities and include a universal sector exemption for targeting redfish in the Framework 61 measures. While the Council took final action on the other Framework 61 measures on December 2, 2020, it did not take final action on the universal sector exemption until January 26, 2021. The groundfish fishing year began on May 1, 2021, and the framework was not formally submitted to NMFS until June 14, 2021. Given the timing of the Council process, the earliest we were able to publish a proposed rule for Framework 61 was on June 24, 2021. A delay in implementation of this rule increases negative economic effects for regulated entities. Five stocks (redfish, Gulf of Maine winter flounder, Southern New England winter flounder, ocean pout, and wolffish), as well as the eastern portions of the GB cod and haddock stocks, which are jointly managed with Canada, did not have 2021 quotas set by a previous framework. A separate action implemented a default quota (35 percent of the 2020 quota) for these stocks that will be in effect only through July 31, 2021, and will significantly constrain fishing unless Framework 61 is implemented before that date. After July 31, the default quotas expire, at which point vessels would be prohibited from fishing in the waters of the Northeast until Framework 61 is effective. The default quotas are especially constraining the fishery in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. The majority of fishing in that region occurs during summer primarily due to the seasonal geographic distribution of the stocks. Providing timely access to these stocks is also a potential safety issue. Vessels fish in the summer in the Eastern U.S./ Canada Area (approximately 150–200 miles offshore) to avoid extremely E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 40366 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations dangerous weather in the winter, spring, and fall. The 30-day delay in implementation for this rule is unnecessary because this rule contains no new measures (e.g., requiring new nets or equipment) for which regulated entities need time to prepare or revise their current practices. Fishermen who are subject to this action expect and need timely implementation to avoid adverse economic impacts. This action is similar to the process used to set quotas every 1–2 years, approves all items as proposed, and contains only quotas and minor adjustments to the management plan that were discussed at multiple noticed meetings where the public was provided opportunity to learn about the action, ask questions, and provide input into the development of the measures. Affected parties and other interested parties participated in this public process to develop this action and expect implementation as close to the beginning of the fishing year on May 1 as possible. In fact, we received a comment from the Northeast Sector Service Network urging the agency to waive the 30-day delay. While this action replaces the current annual sector exemption to target redfish with the universal sector redfish exemption, the universal sector exemption was developed in close collaboration with the industry. The additional operational flexibility and fishing opportunities that fishermen have become accustomed to and rely on remain in place under the universal sector exemption, without requiring changes to fishing practices. Overall, a delay in implementation of this action would greatly diminish the benefits of these specifications and other approved measures. For these reasons, a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this rule is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, during the proposed rule stage, that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual determination for this determination was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. Dated: July 23, 2021. Carrie Robinson, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 § 648.85 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping, and reporting requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 For the reasons stated 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 § 648.14, add paragraph (k)(21) to read as follows: ■ § 648.14 Prohibitions. * * * * * (k) * * * (21) Universal sector exemption programs—(i) Redfish Exemption Program. (A) While fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program, it is unlawful for any person to: (1) Fish with a codend of mesh smaller than 5.5-inch (14.0-cm) diamond or square, (2) Fish outside of the Redfish Exemption Area specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(ii), (3) Fish in the Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(ii)(A) during the closure period, (4) Fish in the Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(ii)(B) during the closure period, (5) Fail to comply with the declaration requirements of the Redfish Exemption Program specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(iv), (6) Fail to comply with the reporting requirements of the Redfish Exemption Program specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(v), or (7) Fail to comply with the gear requirements of the Redfish Exemption Program specified in § 648.85(e)(1)(vii), or fish with any gear other than trawl. (B) It is unlawful for any person to fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program when prohibited from doing so by the Regional Administrator under § 648.85(e)(1)(viii)(C), or when ineligible or prohibited for any other reason. (ii) [Reserved] * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.85, add paragraph (e) to read as follows: Special management programs. * * * * (e) Universal exemption programs for sector vessels—(1) Redfish Exemption Program—(i) Eligibility. Any vessel enrolled in a NMFS approved Northeast multispecies sector and issued a limited access Northeast multispecies permit that allows the use of trawl gear consistent with paragraph (e)(1)(vii) of this section may fish in compliance with the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program described in paragraphs (e)(1)(ii) through (viii) of this section, except those vessels enrolled in a sector whose members have been prohibited from doing so by the Regional Administrator under paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section, or those vessels ineligible or prohibited for any other reason. Letters of authorization issued pursuant to § 648.87(c)(2) shall authorize or prohibit participation in the program by sector vessels consistent with paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section. (ii) Redfish Exemption Area. The Redfish Exemption Area is the area defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (a chart depicting this area is available from the Regional Administrator upon request): TABLE 14 TO PARAGRAPH (e)(1)(ii) Point A ......... B ......... C ......... D ......... E ......... F .......... G ......... H ......... I ........... J .......... A ......... N Lat. 43°00′ 43°00′ 43°20′ 43°20′ 42°53.24′ 42°20′ 42°20′ 42°00′ 42°00′ 42°20′ 43°00′ 1 US EEZ 67°35.07′. 2 US EEZ 67°18.17′. W Long. 69°55′ 69°30′ 69°30′ (1) 67°44.55′ (2) 67°40′ 67°40′ 69°37′ 69°55′ 69°55′ longitude, approximately longitude, approximately (A) Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure. No vessel may participate in the Redfish Exemption Program inside the Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure from February 1 through March 31 of each year. The Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure is the area defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated: TABLE 15 TO PARAGRAPH (e)(1)(ii)(A) Point A B K L A ......... ......... ......... .......... ......... N Lat. 43°00′ 43°00′ 42°30′ 42°30′ 43°00′ W Long. 69°55′ 69°30′ 69°30′ 69°55′ 69°55′ * PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (B) Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II. No vessel may participate in E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations the Redfish Exemption Program inside the Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II from September 1 through December 31 of each year. The Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II is the area defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated: TABLE 16 TO PARAGRAPH (e)(1)(ii)(B) Point M ......... F .......... G ......... M ......... N Lat. 42°47.17′ 42°20′ 42°20′ 42°47.17′ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 1 US EEZ 67°18.17′. W Long. 67°40′ (1) 67°40′ 67°40′ longitude, approximately (C) No vessel may participate in the Redfish Exemption Program in any areas that are otherwise closed to fishing for Northeast multispecies or fishing with trawl gear, including but not limited to year-round closed areas, seasonal closed areas, or habitat closures. (iii) Season. An eligible vessel as described in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section may participate in the Redfish Exemption Program from May 1 through April 30 of each year as authorized in the vessel’s letter of authorization issued pursuant to § 648.87(c)(2), unless otherwise prohibited in the letter of authorization under paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section. (iv) Declaration. To participate in the Redfish Exemption Program on a sector trip, an eligible vessel must declare its intent to do so through the VMS prior to leaving the dock, in accordance with instructions provided by the Regional Administrator. (A) Pre-trip notification. For the purposes of selecting vessels for observer deployment or electronic monitoring, a vessel participating in the Redfish Exemption Program must comply with all pre-trip notification requirements at § 648.11(l). (B) [Reserved] (v) Reporting—(A) Daily catch reporting. The owner or operator of a vessel that has declared into the Redfish Exemption Program as required in paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section must submit catch reports via VMS, for each day of the fishing trip. Vessels subject to the daily reporting requirement must report daily for the entire fishing trip, including any portion fished outside of the Redfish Exemption Area. The reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals for each day, beginning at 0000 hr and ending at 2359 hr, and must be submitted by 0900 hr of the following day, or as instructed by the Regional Administrator. The reports must include at least the following information: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 (1) VTR serial number or other universal ID specified by the Regional Administrator; (2) Date fish were caught and statistical area in which fish were caught; and (3) Total pounds of each regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean pout kept (in pounds, live weight) as well as the total pounds of other kept catch (in pounds, live weight) in each statistical area, as instructed by the Regional Administrator. (B) Redfish exemption fishing notification. After the vessel has entered the Redfish Exemption Area, the owner or operator of a vessel must submit a redfish exemption fishing notification before switching to a smaller mesh codend allowed under the Redfish Exemption Program. This notification is provided with an additional catch report submitted via VMS, reporting all catch on board and indicating that the vessel is switching to a smaller mesh codend. This notification indicates that the vessel is now fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program. Vessels that fail to declare into the Redfish Exemption Program as required in paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section may not fish under the Redfish Exemption Program even if this notification is sent. The notification must include at least the following information: (1) VTR serial number or other universal ID specified by the Regional Administrator; (2) Date fish were caught and statistical area in which fish were caught; (3) Total pounds of each regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean pout kept (in pounds, live weight) as well as the total pounds of other kept catch (in pounds, live weight) in each statistical area, as instructed by the Regional Administrator; and (4) Indication that the vessel is now switching to a smaller mesh codend. (vi) Area fished. (A) A vessel that has declared its intent to fish under the Redfish Exemption Program consistent with paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section may conduct the first part of its trip outside the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program, subject to all other Northeast multispecies regulations including codend mesh size, prior to sending a redfish exemption fishing notification as described in paragraph (e)(1)(v)(B) of this section. (B) Once a vessel has sent a redfish exemption fishing notification as described in paragraph (e)(1)(v)(B) of this section, the vessel is prohibited from fishing outside of the Redfish PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 40367 Exemption Area for the remainder of its trip. (vii) Gear requirements. Vessels may only use trawl gear when declared into and fishing in the Redfish Exemption Program. Vessels may fish in the Redfish Exemption Program with any trawl gear, including, but not limited to, otter trawl, haddock separator trawl, flounder trawl, or Ruhle trawl. (A) Minimum codend mesh size. The minimum codend mesh size for vessels fishing in the Redfish Exemption Program is 5.5-inch square or diamond mesh. All other trawl net restrictions listed in § 648.80(a)(3)(i) and (a)(4)(i), including minimum mesh sizes for the net body and extensions, still apply. (B) Gear stowage. Codends with mesh smaller than otherwise permitted by regulation at § 648.80(a)(3)(i) and (a)(4)(i), or § 648.87(c)(2)(ii)(D), must be stowed during transit to and from the Redfish Exemption Area, and when not in use under the Redfish Exemption Program. Any non-trawl fishing gear must be stowed for the duration of any trip for which a vessel declared its intent to fish under the Redfish Exemption Program consistent with paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section. Stowed gear must be not available for immediate use consistent with definitions in § 648.2 (viii) Catch Thresholds—(A) Monthly Performance Thresholds. (1) Monthly Redfish Landings Threshold—Monthly redfish landings by a sector whose member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program may not be less than 50 percent of all the allocated Northeast multispecies stocks landed each month while fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program. (2) Monthly Discards Threshold— Monthly observed discards of regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean pout by a sector whose member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program may not exceed 5 percent of total observed kept catch, for those portions of trips fished each month under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program. (B) Annual Performance Thresholds. (1) Annual Redfish Landings Threshold—Annual fishing year redfish landings by a sector whose member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program may be no less than 55 percent of all the allocated Northeast multispecies stocks landed while fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program. (C) Administration of Thresholds. (1) If a sector fails to meet the monthly redfish landings threshold or the monthly discards threshold described in E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1 40368 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(A)(1) and (2) of this section for four or more months total, or three or more consecutive months, in a fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall prohibit all vessels in that sector from fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program for the remainder of the fishing year, and place the sector and its vessels in a probationary status for one fishing year beginning the following fishing year. (2) If a sector fails to meet the annual redfish landings threshold described in paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(B)(1) of this section in a fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall place the sector and its vessels in a probationary status for one fishing year beginning the following fishing year. (3) While in probationary status as described in paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) or (2) of this section, if the sector fails to meet the monthly redfish landings threshold or the monthly discards threshold described in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(A)(1) and (2) of this section for four or more months total, or three or more consecutive months, in that fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall prohibit all vessels in that sector from fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program for the remainder of the fishing year and the following fishing year. (4) If a sector fails to meet the annual redfish landings threshold in (e)(1)(viii)(B)(1) of this section for any fishing year during which the sector is in a probationary status as described in paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) or (2) of this section, the Regional Administrator shall prohibit all vessels in that sector from fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program for the following fishing year. (5) The Regional Administrator may determine a sector has failed to meet required monthly or annual thresholds described in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(A) VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:30 Jul 27, 2021 Jkt 253001 and (B) of this section using available information including, but not limited to, vessel declarations and notifications, vessel trip reports, dealer reports, and observer and electronic monitoring records. (6) The Regional Administrator shall notify a sector of a failure to meet the required monthly or annual thresholds and the sector’s vessels prohibition or probation status consistent with the provisions in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) through (5) of this section. The Regional Administrator shall also make administrative amendments to the approved sector operations plan and issue sector vessel letters of authorization consistent with the provisions in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) through (5) of this section. These administrative amendments may be made during a fishing year or during the sector operations plan and sector contract approval process. (7) A sector may request in writing that the Regional Administrator review and reverse a determination made under the provisions of this section within 30 days of the date of the Regional Administrator’s determination. Any such request must be based on information showing the sector complied with the required thresholds, including, but not limited to, landing, discard, observer or electronic monitoring records. The Regional Administrator will review and maintain or reverse the determination and notify the sector of this decision in writing. Any determination resulting from a review conducted under this provision is final and may not be reviewed further. (ix) Program review. The Council will review the Redfish Exemption Program after the first peer-reviewed redfish stock assessment following implementation of the program. The PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 Council will prepare a report, which may include, but is not limited to, an evaluation of threshold performance, vessel-level performance, bycatch of non-redfish stocks, and changes in catch selectivity, and will consider the goals and objectives of the Redfish Exemption Program and the FMP. The Council may decide, as needed, to conduct additional reviews following the review outlined in this section. (2) [Reserved] ■ 4. Amend § 648.87 by revising paragraphs (c)(2)(ii)(B) through (D) and adding paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(E) to read as follows: § 648.87 Sector allocation. * * * * * (c) * * * (2) * * * (ii) * * * (B) The GOM Cod Protection Closures IV and V specified in § 648.81(d)(4)(iv) and (v); (C) NE multispecies DAS restrictions other than those required to comply with effort controls in other fisheries, as specified in §§ 648.92 and 648.322; (D) The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear specified in § 648.80(a)(4)(i) when using a haddock separator trawl defined in § 648.85(a)(3)(iii) or the Ruhle trawl defined in § 648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3) within the GB RMA, as defined in § 648.80(a)(2), provided sector vessels use a codend with 6-inch (15.2-cm) minimum mesh; and (E) The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear specified in § 648.80(a)(3)(i) or (a)(4)(i) when fishing in compliance with the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program defined in § 648.85(e)(1). * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–16070 Filed 7–27–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\28JYR1.SGM 28JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 142 (Wednesday, July 28, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 40353-40368]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-16070]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 210723-0150]
RIN 0648-BK24


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 61

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This action approves and implements Framework Adjustment 61 to 
the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule revises 
the status determination criteria for Georges Bank and Southern New 
England-Mid Atlantic winter flounder, implements a revised rebuilding 
plan for white hake, sets or adjusts catch limits for 17 of the 20 
multispecies (groundfish) stocks, and implements a universal exemption 
for sectors to target Acadian redfish. This action is necessary to 
respond to updated scientific information and to

[[Page 40354]]

achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery management plan. The 
final measures are intended to help prevent overfishing, rebuild 
overfished stocks, achieve optimum yield, and ensure that management 
measures are based on the best scientific information available.

DATES: Effective July 27, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Framework Adjustment 61, including the 
Environmental Assessment, the Regulatory Impact Review, and the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis prepared by the New England Fishery 
Management Council in support of this action, are available from Thomas 
A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 
Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The supporting documents 
are also accessible via the internet at: https://www.nefmc.org/management-plans/northeast-multispecies or https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Sullivan, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
phone: 978-282-8493; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

1. Summary of Approved Measures
2. Status Determination Criteria
3. Rebuilding Plan for White Hake
4. Fishing Year 2021 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas
5. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021-2023
6. Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish (Redfish)
7. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 61 
Proposed Rule
8. Changes From the Proposed Rule

1. Summary of Approved Measures

    This action approves the management measures in Framework 
Adjustment 61 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP). The measures implemented in this final rule:
     Revise the status determination criteria (SDC) for Georges 
Bank (GB) and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) winter 
flounder and provide the numeric estimates of the SDCs for these 
stocks, based on the peer review recommendations;
     Implement a revised rebuilding plan for white hake;
     Set fishing year 2021 shared U.S./Canada quotas for GB 
yellowtail flounder and eastern GB cod and haddock;
     Set 2021-2023 specifications, including catch limits, for 
nine groundfish stocks and adjust 2021-2022 allocations for seven other 
groundfish stocks; and
     Implement a universal exemption for sectors to target 
redfish.

2. Status Determination Criteria

    The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducted management track 
stock assessment updates in 2020 for nine groundfish stocks. This 
action revises SDCs for GB and SNE/MA winter flounder, and provides 
updated numerical estimates of these criteria, in order to incorporate 
the results of the 2020 stock assessments and based on the peer review 
recommendations from the 2020 stock assessments. Table 1 provides the 
revisions to the SDCs for GB and SNE/MA winter flounder, and Table 2 
provides the resulting numerical estimates of the SDCs. While the 
numeric estimates are updated based on the revision to the SDCs, we are 
not changing the stock statuses for both stocks as a result of this 
update. We provided an explanation of the basis for the revision to the 
SDCs in the proposed rule (86 FR 33191, June 24, 2021), and it is not 
repeated here.

                                     Table 1--Status Determination Criteria
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Maximum fishing
                Stock                  Biomass target  (SSBMSY      Minimum biomass        mortality threshold
                                              or proxy)                threshold             (FMSY or proxy)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Winter Flounder:
    Previous SDC.....................  SSBMSY.................  \1/2\ Btarget..........  FMSY.
    Revised SDC......................  SSBMSY: SSB/R (40        \1/2\ Btarget..........  F-40 percent of MSP.
                                        percent MSP).
SNE/MA Winter Flounder:
    Previous SDC.....................  SSBMSY.................  \1/2\ Btarget..........  FMSY.
    Revised SDC......................  SSBMSY: SSB/R (40        \1/2\ Btarget..........  F-40 percent of MSP.
                                        percent MSP).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SSB = spawning stock biomass; MSY = maximum sustainable yield; Btarget = target biomass; F = fishing mortality;
  SSB/R = spawning stock biomass per recruit; MSP = maximum spawning potential.


                          Table 2--Numerical Estimates of Status Determination Criteria
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   BMSY or proxy   FMSY or proxy
                 Stock                       Model/approach            (mt)                          MSY (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Winter Flounder:
    Using previous SDC................  VPA.....................           7,394           0.358           2,612
    Using revised SDC.................  VPA.....................           7,267           0.358           2,573
SNE/MA Winter Flounder:
    Using previous SDC................  ASAP....................          31,567           0.260           9,102
    Using revised SDC.................  ASAP....................          12,322           0.284           3,906
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VPA = virtual population analysis; ASAP = age-structured assessment program.

3. Rebuilding Plan for White Hake

    Framework 61 revises the rebuilding plan for white hake, which we 
more fully described in the proposed rule and Appendix III of the 
Framework 61 Environmental Assessment (EA; see ADDRESSES for 
information on how to get this document). The approved rebuilding plan 
for white hake sets the fishing mortality (F) rate that is required to 
rebuild the stock (Frebuild) at 70 percent of the fishing 
mortality rate associated with maximum sustainable yield 
(FMSY) with an 87-percent probability of achieving the 
biomass associated with maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) by 
2031, the end of the rebuilding plan. As explained in more detail in 
Appendix III of the EA, the approved rebuilding plan accounts for the 
white hake's stock status, the needs of fishing communities, and the 
interaction of white hake with other multispecies in the groundfish 
fishery.

[[Page 40355]]

4. Fishing Year 2021 Shared U.S./Canada Quotas

Management of Transboundary Georges Bank Stocks

    As described in the proposed rule, eastern GB cod, eastern GB 
haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder are jointly managed with Canada 
under the United States/Canada Resource Sharing Understanding. This 
action adopts shared U.S./Canada quotas for these stocks for fishing 
year 2021 based on 2020 assessments and the recommendations of the 
Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) and consistent with 
the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) 
recommendations. The 2021 shared U.S./Canada quotas, and each country's 
allocation, are listed in Table 3. Detailed summaries of the 
assessments can be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/international-affairs/population-dynamics-international-collaboration.

          Table 3--2021 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Quotas and Percent of Quota Allocated to Each Country
                                                [mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Quota                       Eastern GB cod         Eastern GB haddock     GB yellowtail flounder
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Shared Quota...................  635....................  14,100.................  125.
U.S. Quota...........................  190.5 (30 percent).....  6,486 (46 percent).....  80 (64 percent).
Canadian Quota.......................  444.5 (70 percent).....  7,614 (54 percent).....  45 (36 percent).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The regulations implementing the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing 
Understanding require deducting any overages of the U.S. quota for 
eastern GB cod, eastern GB haddock, or GB yellowtail flounder from the 
U.S. quota in the following fishing year. Based on preliminary data 
through June 22, 2021, the U.S. fishery did not exceed its 2020 fishing 
year quota for any of the shared stocks. However, if final catch 
accounting for the 2020 fishing year indicates that the U.S. fishery 
exceeded its quota for any of the shared stocks, we will reduce the 
respective U.S. quotas for the 2021 fishing year in an adjustment 
action, as soon as possible in the 2021 fishing year. If any fishery 
that is allocated a portion of the U.S. quota exceeds its allocation 
and causes an overage of the overall U.S. quota, the overage reduction 
would be applied only to that fishery's allocation in the following 
fishing year. This ensures that catch by one component of the overall 
fishery does not negatively affect another component of the overall 
fishery.

5. Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021-2023

Summary of the Catch Limits

    This rule replaces default specifications as discussed in detail in 
the proposed rule and adopts catch limits for nine groundfish stocks 
for the 2021-2023 fishing years based on stock assessments completed in 
2020, and fishing year 2021-2022 specifications for GB yellowtail 
flounder. Framework 59 (85 FR 45794; July 30, 2020) previously set 
2021-2022 quotas for the 10 groundfish stocks not assessed in 2020, 
based on assessments conducted in 2019. This action includes minor 
adjustments for seven of these stocks for fishing years 2021-2022. The 
catch limits implemented in this action, including overfishing limits 
(OFL), acceptable biological catches (ABC), and annual catch limits 
(ACL), are listed in Tables 4 through 12. A summary of how these catch 
limits were developed, including the distribution to the various 
fishery components, was provided in the proposed rule and in Appendix 
II (Calculation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Limits, FY 2021-
FY 2023) to the EA, and is not repeated here. The sector and common 
pool sub-ACLs implemented in this action are based on fishing year 2021 
potential sector contributions (PSC) and final fishing year 2021 sector 
rosters.

                                  Table 4--Fishing Years 2021-2023 Overfishing Limits and Acceptable Biological Catches
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       2021                                            2022                            2023
                  Stock                  -------------------------------- Percent change ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                OFL          U.S. ABC        from 2020          OFL          U.S. ABC           OFL          U.S. ABC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..................................             UNK           1,308               1             UNK           1,308  ..............  ..............
GOM Cod.................................             929             552               0           1,150             552  ..............  ..............
GB Haddock..............................         116,883          82,723             -37         114,925          81,242  ..............  ..............
GOM Haddock.............................          21,521          16,794             -15          14,834          11,526  ..............  ..............
GB Yellowtail Flounder..................             UNK              80             -33             UNK              80  ..............  ..............
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder..............              71              22               0             184              22  ..............  ..............
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..............           1,076             823               0           1,116             823  ..............  ..............
American Plaice.........................           3,740           2,881              -9           3,687           2,825  ..............  ..............
Witch Flounder..........................             UNK           1,483               0             UNK           1,483  ..............  ..............
GB Winter Flounder......................             865             608               8             974             608           1,431             608
GOM Winter Flounder *...................             662             497              11             662             497             662             497
SNE/MA Winter Flounder *................           1,438             456             -37           1,438             456           1,438             456
Redfish *...............................          13,519          10,186             -15          13,354          10,062          13,229           9,967
White Hake..............................           2,906           2,147               0           2,986           2,147  ..............  ..............
Pollock.................................          28,475          22,062             -20          21,744          16,812  ..............  ..............
N. Windowpane Flounder..................             UNK             160             171             UNK             160             UNK             160

[[Page 40356]]

 
S. Windowpane Flounder..................             513             384             -10             513             384             513             384
Ocean Pout *............................             125              87             -31             125              87             125              87
Atlantic Halibut........................             UNK             101              -5             UNK             101             UNK             101
Atlantic Wolffish *.....................             122              92               2             122              92             122              92
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UNK = Unknown.
Note: An empty cell indicates no OFL/ABC is adopted for that year. These catch limits would be set in a future action.


                                                                         Table 5--Catch Limits for the 2021 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Common                    Midwater                                State
                            Stock                               Total ACL    Groundfish  Sector  sub-  pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl       Scallop     Small-mesh  waters sub-   Other sub-
                                                                              sub-ACL        ACL          ACL         sub-ACL      fishery      fishery     fisheries    component    component
                                                                    A to H    A + B + C            A            B             C            D            E            F            G            H
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................................................        1,250        1,093        1,045           48  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           20          137
GOM Cod......................................................          523          463          262          8.2           193  ...........  ...........  ...........           48           12
GB Haddock...................................................       78,574       76,622       74,096        2,526  ............        1,539  ...........  ...........            0          414
GOM Haddock..................................................       15,843       15,575       10,023          258         5,295          156  ...........  ...........           56           56
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......................................           78           64           59          5.1  ............  ...........           12          1.5          0.0          0.0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...................................           21           16           12          3.6  ............  ...........          2.0  ...........          0.2          3.3
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...................................          787          692          651           41  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           58           37
American Plaice..............................................        2,740        2,682        2,592           90  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           29           29
Witch Flounder...............................................        1,414        1,317        1,273           44  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           44           52
GB Winter Flounder...........................................          591          563          517           47  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           27
GOM Winter Flounder..........................................          482          281          267           14  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........          194          7.5
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......................................          441          288          247           41  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           21          132
Redfish......................................................        9,677        9,677        9,537          139  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
White Hake...................................................        2,041        2,019        1,994           25  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           11           11
Pollock......................................................       21,086       18,549       18,355          193  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........        1,434        1,103
N. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          150          108           na          108  ............  ...........           31  ...........          0.8           10
S. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          371           43           na           43  ............  ...........          129  ...........           23          177
Ocean Pout...................................................           83           50           na           50  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           33
Atlantic Halibut.............................................           97           73           na           73  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           20          3.5
Atlantic Wolffish............................................           86           86           na           86  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.


                                                                         Table 6--Catch Limits for the 2022 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Common                    Midwater                                State
                            Stock                               Total ACL    Groundfish  Sector  sub-  pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl       Scallop     Small-mesh  waters sub-   Other sub-
                                                                              sub-ACL        ACL          ACL         sub-ACL      fishery      fishery     fisheries    component    component
                                                                    A to H    A + B + C            A            B             C            D            E            F            G            H
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.......................................................        1,250        1,093        1,045           48  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           20          137
GOM Cod......................................................          523          463          262          8.2           193  ...........  ...........  ...........           48           12
GB Haddock...................................................       77,168       75,250       72,770        2,481  ............        1,511  ...........  ...........            0          406
GOM Haddock..................................................       10,873       10,690        6,879          177         3,634          107  ...........  ...........           38           38
GB Yellowtail Flounder.......................................           78           64           59          5.1  ............  ...........           12          1.5            0            0
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder...................................           21           16           12          3.6  ............  ...........          2.0  ...........          0.2          3.3
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder...................................          787          692          651           41  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           58           37
American Plaice..............................................        2,687        2,630        2,542           89  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           28           28
Witch Flounder...............................................        1,414        1,317        1,273           44  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           44           52
GB Winter Flounder...........................................          591          563          517           47  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           27

[[Page 40357]]

 
GOM Winter Flounder..........................................          482          281          267           14  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........          194          7.5
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......................................          441          288          247           41  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           21          132
Redfish......................................................        9,559        9,559        9,421          138  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
White Hake...................................................        2,041        2,019        1,994           25  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           11           11
Pollock......................................................       16,068       14,135       13,988          147  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........        1,093          841
N. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          150          108           na          108  ............  ...........           31  ...........          0.8           10
S. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          371           43           na           43  ............  ...........          129  ...........           23          177
Ocean Pout...................................................           83           50           na           50  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           33
Atlantic Halibut.............................................           97           73           na           73  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           20          3.5
Atlantic Wolffish............................................           86           86           na           86  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.


                                                                         Table 7--Catch Limits for the 2023 Fishing Year
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         Common                    Midwater                                State
                            Stock                               Total ACL    Groundfish  Sector  sub-  pool  sub-  Recreational     trawl       Scallop     Small-mesh  waters sub-   Other sub-
                                                                              sub-ACL        ACL          ACL         sub-ACL      fishery      fishery     fisheries    component    component
                                                                    A to H    A + B + C            A            B             C            D            E            F            G            H
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod *.....................................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
GOM Cod *....................................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Haddock *.................................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
GOM Haddock *................................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Yellowtail Flounder **....................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder *.................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder *.................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
American Plaice *............................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
Witch Flounder *.............................................  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Winter Flounder...........................................          591          563          517           47  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           27
GOM Winter Flounder..........................................          482          281          267           14  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........          194          7.5
SNE/MA Winter Flounder.......................................          441          288          247           41  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           21          132
Redfish......................................................        9,469        9,469        9,332          136  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
White Hake *.................................................
Pollock *....................................................
N. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          150          108           na          108  ............  ...........           31  ...........          0.8           10
S. Windowpane Flounder.......................................          371           43           na           43  ............  ...........          129  ...........           23          177
Ocean Pout...................................................           83           50           na           50  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0           33
Atlantic Halibut.............................................           97           73           na           73  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........           20          3.5
Atlantic Wolffish............................................           86           86           na           86  ............  ...........  ...........  ...........            0            0
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
na: not allocated to sectors.
* These stocks only have an allocation for fishing years 2021-2022, previously approved in Framework 59.
** Framework 61 approves allocations for GB yellowtail flounder for fishing years 2021 and 2022 only.


                                               Table 8--Fishing Years 2021-2023 Common Pool Trimester TACs
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      2021                                   2022                                   2023
               Stock                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3  Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3  Trimester 1  Trimester 2  Trimester 3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod.............................         13.4         16.3         18.2         13.4         16.3         18.2  ...........  ...........  ...........
GOM Cod............................          4.0          2.7          1.5          4.0          2.7          1.5  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Haddock.........................        682.0        833.5       1010.4        669.8        818.6        992.3  ...........  ...........  ...........
GOM Haddock........................         69.6         67.1        121.2         47.8         46.0         83.2  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Yellowtail Flounder.............          1.0          1.5          2.6          1.0          1.5          2.6  ...........  ...........  ...........
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder.........          0.8          1.0          1.8          0.8          1.0          1.8  ...........  ...........  ...........
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder.........         23.6         10.8          7.0         23.6         10.8          7.0  ...........  ...........  ...........

[[Page 40358]]

 
American Plaice....................         66.8          7.2         16.3         65.5          7.1         15.9  ...........  ...........  ...........
Witch Flounder.....................         24.3          8.8         11.0         24.3          8.8         11.0  ...........  ...........  ...........
GB Winter Flounder.................          3.7         11.2         31.7          3.7         11.2         31.7          3.7         11.2         31.7
GOM Winter Flounder................          5.1          5.3          3.5          5.1          5.3          3.5          5.1          5.3          3.5
Redfish............................         34.8         43.2         61.3         34.4         42.7         60.6         34.1         42.3         60.0
White Hake.........................          9.5          7.8          7.8          9.5          7.8          7.8  ...........  ...........  ...........
Pollock............................         54.1         67.6         71.5         41.2         51.5         54.5  ...........  ...........  ...........
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                   Table 9--Common Pool Incidental Catch TACs for the 2021-2023 Fishing Years
                                                [mt, live weight]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Percentage of
                      Stock                         common pool        2020            2021            2022
                                                      sub-ACL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..........................................            1.68            0.81            0.81  ..............
GOM Cod.........................................               1            0.08            0.08  ..............
GB Yellowtail Flounder..........................               2            0.10            0.10  ..............
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder......................               1            0.41            0.41  ..............
American Plaice.................................               5            4.51            4.43  ..............
Witch Flounder..................................               5            2.21            2.21  ..............
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..........................               1            0.41            0.41            0.41
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table 10--Percentage of Incidental Catch TACs Distributed to Each
                       Special Management Program
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Regular B  DAS   Eastern U.S./
                  Stock                       program       CA  haddock
                                             (percent)     SAP (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..................................              60              40
GOM Cod.................................             100             n/a
GB Yellowtail Flounder..................              50              50
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..............             100             n/a
American Plaice.........................             100             n/a
Witch Flounder..........................             100             n/a
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..................             100             n/a
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                               Table 11--Fishing Years 2021-2023 Incidental Catch TACs for Each Special Management Program
                                                                    [mt, live weight]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Regular B DAS program                      Eastern U.S./Canada haddock SAP
                          Stock                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2021            2022            2023            2021            2022            2023
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod..................................................            0.48            0.48  ..............            0.32            0.32  ..............
GOM Cod.................................................            0.08            0.08  ..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
GB Yellowtail Flounder..................................            0.05            0.05  ..............            0.05            0.05  ..............
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..............................            0.41            0.41  ..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
American Plaice.........................................            4.51            4.43  ..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
Witch Flounder..........................................            2.21            2.21  ..............             n/a             n/a             n/a
SNE/MA Winter Flounder..................................            0.41            0.41            0.41             n/a             n/a             n/a
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                     Table 12--Fishing Years 2021-2023 Regular B DAS Program Quarterly Incidental Catch TACs
                                                                                        [mt, live weight]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 2021                                        2022                                        2023
                                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 1st        2nd        3rd        4th        1st        2nd        3rd        4th        1st        2nd        3rd        4th
                            Stock                              Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter    Quarter
                                                                 (13        (29        (29        (29        (13        (29        (29        (29        (13        (29        (29        (29
                                                               percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)   percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GB Cod......................................................       0.06       0.14       0.14       0.14       0.06       0.14       0.14       0.14  .........  .........  .........  .........
GOM Cod.....................................................       0.01       0.02       0.02       0.02       0.01       0.02       0.02       0.02  .........  .........  .........  .........
GB Yellowtail Flounder......................................      0.007      0.015      0.015      0.015       0.01       0.01       0.01       0.01  .........  .........  .........  .........
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder..................................       0.05       0.12       0.12       0.12       0.05       0.12       0.12       0.12  .........  .........  .........  .........
American Plaice.............................................       0.59       1.31       1.31       1.31       0.58       1.28       1.28       1.28  .........  .........  .........  .........
Witch Flounder..............................................       0.29       0.64       0.64       0.64       0.29       0.64       0.64       0.64  .........  .........  .........  .........
SNE/MA Winter Flounder......................................       0.05       0.12       0.12       0.12       0.05       0.12       0.12       0.12       0.05       0.12       0.12       0.12
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 40359]]

Sector Annual Catch Entitlements (ACE)

    At the start of the 2021 fishing year, we allocated stocks to each 
sector, based on the catch limits set by prior frameworks. This rule 
updates the ACE allocated to sectors based on the catch limits approved 
in Framework 61, fishing year 2021 PSC, and final fishing year 2021 
sector rosters. We calculate a sector's allocation for each stock by 
summing its members' PSC for the stock and then multiplying that total 
percentage by the commercial sub-ACL for that stock. The process for 
allocating ACE to sectors is further described in the final rule 
allocating ACE to sectors for fishing year 2021 (86 FR 22898; April 30, 
2021) and is not repeated here. Table 13 shows the cumulative PSC by 
stock for each sector for fishing year 2021. Tables 14 and 15 show the 
ACEs allocated to each sector for fishing year 2021, in pounds and 
metric tons, respectively. We have included the common pool sub-ACLs in 
tables 13 through 15 for comparison.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

[[Page 40360]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR28JY21.022


[[Page 40361]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR28JY21.023


[[Page 40362]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR28JY21.024


[[Page 40363]]



6. Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish

    This rule approves and implements a new universal sector exemption 
that allows sector vessels to target redfish within a defined area 
using a 5.5-inch (14.0-centimeter (cm)) mesh codend. Redfish is a 
healthy stock that sectors already harvest under a sector exemption 
that is evaluated and approved as part of the sector operations plan 
process annually or biennially. As part of this rule, we are also 
eliminating the current sector exemption for redfish, to prevent 
conflict and confusion between two very similar exemptions, consistent 
with the Council's intent to replace the current redfish sector 
exemption with a new universal redfish exemption for sectors.
    The approved universal sector exemption expands the current redfish 
exemption area (Figure 1), creates two seasonal closures of the redfish 
exemption area, adds a 55-percent or greater annual redfish catch 
threshold, modifies the existing monthly catch and discard thresholds, 
and creates provisions that require sectors to be placed in 
probationary status and/or have their vessels prohibited from using the 
universal exemption if catch or discard thresholds are not met. The 
reporting and monitoring requirements of the universal exemption remain 
the same as the annually approved redfish exemption; however, those 
requirements are codified in regulation rather than detailed in sector 
operations plans. A complete description of the universal exemption is 
described in the proposed rule, and is not repeated here. The universal 
redfish exemption, instead of an annual sector exemption, is intended 
to increase stability for fishery participants and to improve Council 
oversight of the redfish fishery.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR28JY21.025

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

7. Comments and Responses on Measures Proposed in the Framework 61 
Proposed Rule

    We received comments on the Framework 61 proposed rule from 
Sustainable Harvest Sector (SHS), Northeast Sector Service Network 
(NESSN), Associated Fisheries of Maine (AFM), Conservation Law 
Foundation (CLF), and the New England Fishery Management Council. Only 
comments that were applicable to the proposed measures are addressed 
below.

General Comments on Framework 61

    Comment 1: NESSN commented in support of NMFS waiving the cooling 
off period in order to ensure the fishery can continue to operate 
seamlessly between the default specifications and the implementation of 
this action. AFM also urged swift approval of the

[[Page 40364]]

framework to prevent a disruption to the fishery due to the expiration 
of default specifications on July 31.
    Response 1: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the 
Classification section of this final rule, the Assistant Administrator 
for Fisheries finds that there is good cause to waive the 30-day 
delayed effectiveness of this action.

Catch Limits for Fishing Years 2021-2023

    Comment 2: CLF commented that NMFS should disapprove the catch 
limits for GOM cod and GB cod as proposed in Framework 61, because they 
will not rebuild the stocks. Additionally, CLF urged NMFS to take 
emergency action to implement interim measures for GOM cod.
    Response 2: The OFLs and ABCs for GOM cod and GB cod were set by 
Framework 59, which was approved on July 28, 2020, and are not subject 
to approval or disapproval in this action. The changes to the 
specifications for all groundfish stocks were summarized in Table 4 of 
the proposed rule. For GOM cod, the only change under consideration in 
Framework 61 is an adjustment to the sub-components, which results in a 
change only to the sub-ACLs for the stock. For GB cod, Framework 61 is 
adjusting the sub-components, as well as setting a new U.S. ABC, but 
the total ABC and ACL are unchanged and were not subject to change in 
this action. The new U.S. ABC is due to a small decrease in the eastern 
GB cod TAC and a slight increase in the portion of this shared U.S./
Canada quota that is allocated to the United States, consistent with 
the TMGC recommendations. To disapprove the changes as proposed in 
Framework 61 would mean the continuation of the sub-ACLs and sub-
components, and of the U.S. ABC for GB cod, as set by Framework 59. 
Because the sub-ACLs and sub-components are adjusted based on the most 
recent catch data for state and other fisheries (see Appendix II of the 
EA for a full description of this process), disapproval of the proposed 
changes would result in specifications based on outdated information. 
Disapproval of the U.S. ABC for GB cod would go against the 
recommendations of the TMGC. Therefore, we are approving the proposed 
changes to the specifications of GOM cod and GB cod, which are based on 
the best scientific information available and consistent with National 
Standard 2. A request for emergency action would be considered separate 
from the Council's recommended measures in this action, and we are 
therefore not addressing it here.

Universal Sector Exemption for Acadian Redfish

    Comment 3: SHS, NESSN, and AFM support the universal sector 
exemption for redfish. AFM cited an increase in the spring survey index 
for redfish between 2019 and 2021.
    Response 3: We agree. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, we 
have approved the universal sector exemption for redfish as proposed. 
Data from the spring 2021 survey will be considered in the next stock 
assessment for redfish, which will be used to help evaluate the stock 
status and the performance and appropriateness of this universal 
exemption.
    Comment 4: SHS and NESSN identified a typographical error in the 
regulatory text. In Table 14 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii), the latitude of 
point H should be 42[deg]00' N, not 42[deg]20' N.
    Response 4: We have corrected the coordinate in the final 
regulatory text as noted by SHS and NESSN.
    Comment 5: SHS requested clarification regarding the timing of when 
a vessel must submit the redfish exemption fishing notification. Under 
the previous redfish exemption, the notification must be submitted by a 
vessel once inside the redfish exempted area. SHS asked whether this 
was also required under the proposed universal sector exemption.
    Response 5: The commenter is correct that the previous redfish 
exemption required that vessels submit the notification once the vessel 
has entered the redfish exemption area, which is also the intent of the 
new universal redfish exemption. We have updated the regulatory text to 
make it clear that vessels must enter the redfish exemption area before 
sending the notification.
    Comment 6: The New England Council commented regarding the use of 
the term ``Northeast multispecies,'' rather than the term ``regulated 
multispecies and ocean pout,'' in the regulatory text. Specifically, 
the Council questioned which term was more appropriate in the paragraph 
at 648.85(e)(1)(ii)(C), which states ``No vessel may participate in the 
Redfish Exemption Program in any areas that are otherwise closed to 
fishing for Northeast multispecies or fishing with trawl gear, 
including but not limited to year-round closed areas, seasonal closed 
areas, or habitat closures.'' The Council expressed concern that this 
language could be misinterpreted to mean that the universal sector 
exemption for redfish could not be used in areas where fishing for 
silver, red, and offshore hake is not permitted, and therefore the use 
of this term would limit the redfish exemption to a smaller area than 
what was proposed by the Council in Framework 61.
    Response 6: We disagree that a change to the regulatory text is 
needed, but agree with the Council's intent for the redfish exemption. 
The regulation that the Council cited is intended to prevent vessels 
from fishing in closed areas such as regulatory-defined seasonal and 
permanent closed areas. NMFS does not include regulatory references to 
such areas in the noted paragraph because doing so would be complex--
there are several different sections and paragraphs where these closed 
areas are included in the regulations. The regulations very clearly 
distinguish between closed areas and areas where minimum mesh sizes and 
broad area-based restrictions on fishing apply. As such, NMFS does not 
agree with the Council's concern that restrictions in the regulations 
on small-mesh fisheries represent ``areas closed to Northeast 
multispecies fishing.'' Vessels that fish for silver, red, and offshore 
hake are regulated by a series of exemptions to the Northeast 
Multispecies FMP. These exemptions allow vessels to be exempt from the 
minimum mesh size, provided the vessels operate in specific management 
areas and comply with seasonal closures and possession limits. However, 
harvest of these stocks is not limited to trips that fall under the 
small-mesh exemption. It would not be accurate to describe the areas 
outside the small-mesh exemption areas as being closed for silver, red, 
and offshore hake, but instead those areas are not open for use of 
small-mesh gear (unless otherwise exempted, such as through the 
universal sector exemption to target redfish). Therefore, we do not 
believe the broader term of ``Northeast multispecies'' limits the use 
of the universal sector exemption to areas that are open to the small-
mesh exemption.
    Comment 7: CLF expressed concern about increased bycatch of GB cod 
in the universal exemption area relative to the 2020 sector exemption 
area and that there is an insufficient analysis of the impacts of the 
universal exemption on GB cod. Based on its concerns, CLF commented 
that NMFS should disapprove the universal exemption as proposed until 
it has fully analyzed its potential impact.
    Response 7: The Council conducted a thorough review of the proposed 
universal exemption relative to the smaller-sized exemption NMFS 
implemented through sector operations plans in fishing year 2020. The 
Council used the best available information for its consideration, 
which is reflected in

[[Page 40365]]

the EA and appendices for Framework 61 (see ADDRESSES). Based on the 
available information, the impacts on groundfish species other than 
redfish resulting from the proposed universal exemption could be 
slightly negative compared to the current sector exemption. We expect 
GB cod catch in the universal exemption area to be very low based on 
the analysis, although possibly slightly higher than catch from the 
2020 exemption area. All GB cod catch will still be attributed towards 
a sector's ACE and the total GB cod ACL. The analysis also notes a 
higher level of uncertainty with the annual sector exemption program 
(if NMFS were to disapprove the universal sector exemption in this 
action) as it could change from year to year and would use less 
restrictive performance measures to ensure targeting of redfish and 
reduced catch of other groundfish species. The universal exemption 
allows vessels to target the healthy redfish stock while maintaining 
controls to limit catch of other groundfish, including GB cod, to 
ensure that catch remains within the catch limits specified for each 
stock. NMFS has determined that the measure is consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act in part because it minimizes bycatch to the extent 
practicable while allowing opportunity to target a healthy groundfish 
stock. We therefore disagree that the measure should be disapproved.
    Comment 8: CLF commented that if NMFS approves the universal sector 
exemption, it should require the Council to review the exemption after 
the next GB cod stock assessment rather than after the next redfish 
stock assessment. CLF noted that this review is necessary to be 
responsive to the state of the GB cod stock and to ensure that the 
exemption is not interfering with the ability to prevent overfishing 
and rebuild GB cod.
    Response 8: We disagree that the redfish exemption should 
incorporate a review of the program following the next assessment of 
the GB cod stock rather than following the next redfish stock 
assessment. The review of the redfish exemption following the next 
redfish stock assessment will ensure that we are not allowing a 
directed fishery to target a stock with highly efficient gear if the 
stock is overfished or approaching an overfished condition, is 
experiencing overfishing, or is otherwise found to be in poor 
condition. We will evaluate the fishery based on performance standards 
and overall catch, including GB cod, on an ongoing basis through its 
monitoring of the fishery. Following assessments for all species and 
stocks, the Council and NMFS must consider all sources of fishing 
mortality. If the redfish exemption is a source of fishing mortality 
that needs to be addressed, the Council will need to consider 
modifications of the redfish exemption and any other sources of 
unacceptable fishing.
    Comment 9: CLF commented that NMFS should require 100-percent at-
sea monitoring on vessels taking redfish exemption trips to verify all 
catch--including discards.
    Response 9: We disagree that trips taken using the universal sector 
exemption require 100-percent at-sea monitoring in fishing year 2021. 
We have set the at-sea monitoring coverage level for sectors to monitor 
their catch on sector trips including redfish exemption trips. The 
fishing year 2021 coverage level was set at the level that could be 
practicably achieved in 2021, while the Council continued work on 
Amendment 23. This coverage level provides data to monitor the sectors' 
performance in the universal exemption for both catch accounting and 
for the sectors to manage participating vessel's performance and catch. 
Amendment 23 proposes to increase the at-sea monitoring coverage level 
to 100 percent, and that action will undergo review and rulemaking 
beginning later this year.

8. Changes From the Proposed Rule

    The proposed rule included sector and common pool sub-ACLs based on 
fishing year 2021 PSCs and final fishing year 2021 sector rosters, but 
did not include the PSCs and ACEs allocated to each sector. This rule 
includes this information at the sector level.
    In the proposed rule, the regulatory text for Table 14 to Paragraph 
(e)(1)(ii) defined the latitude of point H as 42[deg]20' N. The 
latitude of point H has been updated to correctly specify 42[deg]00' N.
    This rule makes a minor adjustment to the regulatory text of the 
reporting requirements for the universal redfish exemption to clarify 
that the redfish exemption fishing notification required prior to 
fishing under the new universal redfish exemption must be sent after a 
vessel has entered the redfish exemption area.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. This final rule does not 
contain policies with federalism or takings implications as those terms 
are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds that there is good 
cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delayed 
effectiveness of this action. This action relies on the best available 
science to set 2021 catch limits for groundfish stocks and adopts 
several other measures to improve the management of the groundfish 
fishery. This final rule must be in effect by August 1, 2021, to 
capture fully the conservation and economic benefits of Framework 61 
and avoid adverse economic impacts.
    The development of Framework 61 began in June 2020. In October 
2020, the Council voted to revise the Council's 2020 priorities and 
include a universal sector exemption for targeting redfish in the 
Framework 61 measures. While the Council took final action on the other 
Framework 61 measures on December 2, 2020, it did not take final action 
on the universal sector exemption until January 26, 2021. The 
groundfish fishing year began on May 1, 2021, and the framework was not 
formally submitted to NMFS until June 14, 2021. Given the timing of the 
Council process, the earliest we were able to publish a proposed rule 
for Framework 61 was on June 24, 2021.
    A delay in implementation of this rule increases negative economic 
effects for regulated entities. Five stocks (redfish, Gulf of Maine 
winter flounder, Southern New England winter flounder, ocean pout, and 
wolffish), as well as the eastern portions of the GB cod and haddock 
stocks, which are jointly managed with Canada, did not have 2021 quotas 
set by a previous framework. A separate action implemented a default 
quota (35 percent of the 2020 quota) for these stocks that will be in 
effect only through July 31, 2021, and will significantly constrain 
fishing unless Framework 61 is implemented before that date. After July 
31, the default quotas expire, at which point vessels would be 
prohibited from fishing in the waters of the Northeast until Framework 
61 is effective. The default quotas are especially constraining the 
fishery in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. The majority of fishing in 
that region occurs during summer primarily due to the seasonal 
geographic distribution of the stocks. Providing timely access to these 
stocks is also a potential safety issue. Vessels fish in the summer in 
the Eastern U.S./Canada Area (approximately 150-200 miles offshore) to 
avoid extremely

[[Page 40366]]

dangerous weather in the winter, spring, and fall.
    The 30-day delay in implementation for this rule is unnecessary 
because this rule contains no new measures (e.g., requiring new nets or 
equipment) for which regulated entities need time to prepare or revise 
their current practices. Fishermen who are subject to this action 
expect and need timely implementation to avoid adverse economic 
impacts. This action is similar to the process used to set quotas every 
1-2 years, approves all items as proposed, and contains only quotas and 
minor adjustments to the management plan that were discussed at 
multiple noticed meetings where the public was provided opportunity to 
learn about the action, ask questions, and provide input into the 
development of the measures. Affected parties and other interested 
parties participated in this public process to develop this action and 
expect implementation as close to the beginning of the fishing year on 
May 1 as possible. In fact, we received a comment from the Northeast 
Sector Service Network urging the agency to waive the 30-day delay. 
While this action replaces the current annual sector exemption to 
target redfish with the universal sector redfish exemption, the 
universal sector exemption was developed in close collaboration with 
the industry. The additional operational flexibility and fishing 
opportunities that fishermen have become accustomed to and rely on 
remain in place under the universal sector exemption, without requiring 
changes to fishing practices.
    Overall, a delay in implementation of this action would greatly 
diminish the benefits of these specifications and other approved 
measures. For these reasons, a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of 
this rule is impracticable and contrary to the public interest.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration, during the proposed rule stage, that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual determination for this determination was 
published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments 
were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.


    Dated: July 23, 2021.
Carrie Robinson,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons stated 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.  648.14, add paragraph (k)(21) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14   Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (21) Universal sector exemption programs--(i) Redfish Exemption 
Program. (A) While fishing under the provisions of the Redfish 
Exemption Program, it is unlawful for any person to:
    (1) Fish with a codend of mesh smaller than 5.5-inch (14.0-cm) 
diamond or square,
    (2) Fish outside of the Redfish Exemption Area specified in Sec.  
648.85(e)(1)(ii),
    (3) Fish in the Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure specified in 
Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(ii)(A) during the closure period,
    (4) Fish in the Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II 
specified in Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(ii)(B) during the closure period,
    (5) Fail to comply with the declaration requirements of the Redfish 
Exemption Program specified in Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(iv),
    (6) Fail to comply with the reporting requirements of the Redfish 
Exemption Program specified in Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(v), or
    (7) Fail to comply with the gear requirements of the Redfish 
Exemption Program specified in Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(vii), or fish with 
any gear other than trawl.
    (B) It is unlawful for any person to fish under the provisions of 
the Redfish Exemption Program when prohibited from doing so by the 
Regional Administrator under Sec.  648.85(e)(1)(viii)(C), or when 
ineligible or prohibited for any other reason.
    (ii) [Reserved]
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.85, add paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.85   Special management programs.

* * * * *
    (e) Universal exemption programs for sector vessels--(1) Redfish 
Exemption Program--(i) Eligibility. Any vessel enrolled in a NMFS 
approved Northeast multispecies sector and issued a limited access 
Northeast multispecies permit that allows the use of trawl gear 
consistent with paragraph (e)(1)(vii) of this section may fish in 
compliance with the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program 
described in paragraphs (e)(1)(ii) through (viii) of this section, 
except those vessels enrolled in a sector whose members have been 
prohibited from doing so by the Regional Administrator under paragraph 
(e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section, or those vessels ineligible or 
prohibited for any other reason. Letters of authorization issued 
pursuant to Sec.  648.87(c)(2) shall authorize or prohibit 
participation in the program by sector vessels consistent with 
paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section.
    (ii) Redfish Exemption Area. The Redfish Exemption Area is the area 
defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order 
stated (a chart depicting this area is available from the Regional 
Administrator upon request):

                    Table 14 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Point                    N Lat.                W Long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]55'
B...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]30'
C...........................  43[deg]20'            69[deg]30'
D...........................  43[deg]20'            (1)
E...........................  42[deg]53.24'         67[deg]44.55'
F...........................  42[deg]20'            (2)
G...........................  42[deg]20'            67[deg]40'
H...........................  42[deg]00'            67[deg]40'
I...........................  42[deg]00'            69[deg]37'
J...........................  42[deg]20'            69[deg]55'
A...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]55'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 US EEZ longitude, approximately 67[deg]35.07'.
2 US EEZ longitude, approximately 67[deg]18.17'.

    (A) Redfish Exemption Area Cod Closure. No vessel may participate 
in the Redfish Exemption Program inside the Redfish Exemption Area Cod 
Closure from February 1 through March 31 of each year. The Redfish 
Exemption Area Cod Closure is the area defined by straight lines 
connecting the following points in the order stated:

                   Table 15 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(A)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Point                    N Lat.                W Long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]55'
B...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]30'
K...........................  42[deg]30'            69[deg]30'
L...........................  42[deg]30'            69[deg]55'
A...........................  43[deg]00'            69[deg]55'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (B) Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II. No vessel may 
participate in

[[Page 40367]]

the Redfish Exemption Program inside the Redfish Exemption Area 
Seasonal Closure II from September 1 through December 31 of each year. 
The Redfish Exemption Area Seasonal Closure II is the area defined by 
straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

                   Table 16 to Paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(B)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Point                    N Lat.                W Long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
M...........................  42[deg]47.17'         67[deg]40'
F...........................  42[deg]20'            (1)
G...........................  42[deg]20'            67[deg]40'
M...........................  42[deg]47.17'         67[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 US EEZ longitude, approximately 67[deg]18.17'.

    (C) No vessel may participate in the Redfish Exemption Program in 
any areas that are otherwise closed to fishing for Northeast 
multispecies or fishing with trawl gear, including but not limited to 
year-round closed areas, seasonal closed areas, or habitat closures.
    (iii) Season. An eligible vessel as described in paragraph 
(e)(1)(i) of this section may participate in the Redfish Exemption 
Program from May 1 through April 30 of each year as authorized in the 
vessel's letter of authorization issued pursuant to Sec.  648.87(c)(2), 
unless otherwise prohibited in the letter of authorization under 
paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(C) of this section.
    (iv) Declaration. To participate in the Redfish Exemption Program 
on a sector trip, an eligible vessel must declare its intent to do so 
through the VMS prior to leaving the dock, in accordance with 
instructions provided by the Regional Administrator.
    (A) Pre-trip notification. For the purposes of selecting vessels 
for observer deployment or electronic monitoring, a vessel 
participating in the Redfish Exemption Program must comply with all 
pre-trip notification requirements at Sec.  648.11(l).
    (B) [Reserved]
    (v) Reporting--(A) Daily catch reporting. The owner or operator of 
a vessel that has declared into the Redfish Exemption Program as 
required in paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section must submit catch 
reports via VMS, for each day of the fishing trip. Vessels subject to 
the daily reporting requirement must report daily for the entire 
fishing trip, including any portion fished outside of the Redfish 
Exemption Area. The reports must be submitted in 24-hr intervals for 
each day, beginning at 0000 hr and ending at 2359 hr, and must be 
submitted by 0900 hr of the following day, or as instructed by the 
Regional Administrator. The reports must include at least the following 
information:
    (1) VTR serial number or other universal ID specified by the 
Regional Administrator;
    (2) Date fish were caught and statistical area in which fish were 
caught; and
    (3) Total pounds of each regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean 
pout kept (in pounds, live weight) as well as the total pounds of other 
kept catch (in pounds, live weight) in each statistical area, as 
instructed by the Regional Administrator.
    (B) Redfish exemption fishing notification. After the vessel has 
entered the Redfish Exemption Area, the owner or operator of a vessel 
must submit a redfish exemption fishing notification before switching 
to a smaller mesh codend allowed under the Redfish Exemption Program. 
This notification is provided with an additional catch report submitted 
via VMS, reporting all catch on board and indicating that the vessel is 
switching to a smaller mesh codend. This notification indicates that 
the vessel is now fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption 
Program. Vessels that fail to declare into the Redfish Exemption 
Program as required in paragraph (e)(1)(iv) of this section may not 
fish under the Redfish Exemption Program even if this notification is 
sent. The notification must include at least the following information:
    (1) VTR serial number or other universal ID specified by the 
Regional Administrator;
    (2) Date fish were caught and statistical area in which fish were 
caught;
    (3) Total pounds of each regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean 
pout kept (in pounds, live weight) as well as the total pounds of other 
kept catch (in pounds, live weight) in each statistical area, as 
instructed by the Regional Administrator; and
    (4) Indication that the vessel is now switching to a smaller mesh 
codend.
    (vi) Area fished. (A) A vessel that has declared its intent to fish 
under the Redfish Exemption Program consistent with paragraph 
(e)(1)(iv) of this section may conduct the first part of its trip 
outside the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program, subject to all 
other Northeast multispecies regulations including codend mesh size, 
prior to sending a redfish exemption fishing notification as described 
in paragraph (e)(1)(v)(B) of this section.
    (B) Once a vessel has sent a redfish exemption fishing notification 
as described in paragraph (e)(1)(v)(B) of this section, the vessel is 
prohibited from fishing outside of the Redfish Exemption Area for the 
remainder of its trip.
    (vii) Gear requirements. Vessels may only use trawl gear when 
declared into and fishing in the Redfish Exemption Program. Vessels may 
fish in the Redfish Exemption Program with any trawl gear, including, 
but not limited to, otter trawl, haddock separator trawl, flounder 
trawl, or Ruhle trawl.
    (A) Minimum codend mesh size. The minimum codend mesh size for 
vessels fishing in the Redfish Exemption Program is 5.5-inch square or 
diamond mesh. All other trawl net restrictions listed in Sec.  
648.80(a)(3)(i) and (a)(4)(i), including minimum mesh sizes for the net 
body and extensions, still apply.
    (B) Gear stowage. Codends with mesh smaller than otherwise 
permitted by regulation at Sec.  648.80(a)(3)(i) and (a)(4)(i), or 
Sec.  648.87(c)(2)(ii)(D), must be stowed during transit to and from 
the Redfish Exemption Area, and when not in use under the Redfish 
Exemption Program. Any non-trawl fishing gear must be stowed for the 
duration of any trip for which a vessel declared its intent to fish 
under the Redfish Exemption Program consistent with paragraph 
(e)(1)(iv) of this section. Stowed gear must be not available for 
immediate use consistent with definitions in Sec.  648.2
    (viii) Catch Thresholds--(A) Monthly Performance Thresholds. (1) 
Monthly Redfish Landings Threshold--Monthly redfish landings by a 
sector whose member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish 
Exemption Program may not be less than 50 percent of all the allocated 
Northeast multispecies stocks landed each month while fishing under the 
provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program.
    (2) Monthly Discards Threshold--Monthly observed discards of 
regulated Northeast multispecies and ocean pout by a sector whose 
member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption 
Program may not exceed 5 percent of total observed kept catch, for 
those portions of trips fished each month under the provisions of the 
Redfish Exemption Program.
    (B) Annual Performance Thresholds. (1) Annual Redfish Landings 
Threshold--Annual fishing year redfish landings by a sector whose 
member vessels fish under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption 
Program may be no less than 55 percent of all the allocated Northeast 
multispecies stocks landed while fishing under the provisions of the 
Redfish Exemption Program.
    (C) Administration of Thresholds. (1) If a sector fails to meet the 
monthly redfish landings threshold or the monthly discards threshold 
described in

[[Page 40368]]

paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(A)(1) and (2) of this section for four or more 
months total, or three or more consecutive months, in a fishing year, 
the Regional Administrator shall prohibit all vessels in that sector 
from fishing under the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program for 
the remainder of the fishing year, and place the sector and its vessels 
in a probationary status for one fishing year beginning the following 
fishing year.
    (2) If a sector fails to meet the annual redfish landings threshold 
described in paragraph (e)(1)(viii)(B)(1) of this section in a fishing 
year, the Regional Administrator shall place the sector and its vessels 
in a probationary status for one fishing year beginning the following 
fishing year.
    (3) While in probationary status as described in paragraph 
(e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) or (2) of this section, if the sector fails to meet 
the monthly redfish landings threshold or the monthly discards 
threshold described in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(A)(1) and (2) of this 
section for four or more months total, or three or more consecutive 
months, in that fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall prohibit 
all vessels in that sector from fishing under the provisions of the 
Redfish Exemption Program for the remainder of the fishing year and the 
following fishing year.
    (4) If a sector fails to meet the annual redfish landings threshold 
in (e)(1)(viii)(B)(1) of this section for any fishing year during which 
the sector is in a probationary status as described in paragraph 
(e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) or (2) of this section, the Regional Administrator 
shall prohibit all vessels in that sector from fishing under the 
provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program for the following fishing 
year.
    (5) The Regional Administrator may determine a sector has failed to 
meet required monthly or annual thresholds described in paragraphs 
(e)(1)(viii)(A) and (B) of this section using available information 
including, but not limited to, vessel declarations and notifications, 
vessel trip reports, dealer reports, and observer and electronic 
monitoring records.
    (6) The Regional Administrator shall notify a sector of a failure 
to meet the required monthly or annual thresholds and the sector's 
vessels prohibition or probation status consistent with the provisions 
in paragraphs (e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) through (5) of this section. The 
Regional Administrator shall also make administrative amendments to the 
approved sector operations plan and issue sector vessel letters of 
authorization consistent with the provisions in paragraphs 
(e)(1)(viii)(C)(1) through (5) of this section. These administrative 
amendments may be made during a fishing year or during the sector 
operations plan and sector contract approval process.
    (7) A sector may request in writing that the Regional Administrator 
review and reverse a determination made under the provisions of this 
section within 30 days of the date of the Regional Administrator's 
determination. Any such request must be based on information showing 
the sector complied with the required thresholds, including, but not 
limited to, landing, discard, observer or electronic monitoring 
records. The Regional Administrator will review and maintain or reverse 
the determination and notify the sector of this decision in writing. 
Any determination resulting from a review conducted under this 
provision is final and may not be reviewed further.
    (ix) Program review. The Council will review the Redfish Exemption 
Program after the first peer-reviewed redfish stock assessment 
following implementation of the program. The Council will prepare a 
report, which may include, but is not limited to, an evaluation of 
threshold performance, vessel-level performance, bycatch of non-redfish 
stocks, and changes in catch selectivity, and will consider the goals 
and objectives of the Redfish Exemption Program and the FMP. The 
Council may decide, as needed, to conduct additional reviews following 
the review outlined in this section.
    (2) [Reserved]

0
4. Amend Sec.  648.87 by revising paragraphs (c)(2)(ii)(B) through (D) 
and adding paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(E) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.87   Sector allocation.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) The GOM Cod Protection Closures IV and V specified in Sec.  
648.81(d)(4)(iv) and (v);
    (C) NE multispecies DAS restrictions other than those required to 
comply with effort controls in other fisheries, as specified in 
Sec. Sec.  648.92 and 648.322;
    (D) The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear 
specified in Sec.  648.80(a)(4)(i) when using a haddock separator trawl 
defined in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii) or the Ruhle trawl defined in Sec.  
648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3) within the GB RMA, as defined in Sec.  
648.80(a)(2), provided sector vessels use a codend with 6-inch (15.2-
cm) minimum mesh; and
    (E) The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear 
specified in Sec.  648.80(a)(3)(i) or (a)(4)(i) when fishing in 
compliance with the provisions of the Redfish Exemption Program defined 
in Sec.  648.85(e)(1).
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2021-16070 Filed 7-27-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P