Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; 2022 and 2023 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications, 67014-67018 [2021-25394]

Download as PDF 67014 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 224 / Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / Proposed Rules scheduled to close on November 26, 2021. We subsequently received two requests to extend the public comment period. One request was submitted by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), which sought an extension in order to coordinate and incorporate feedback from all its members into its comment. AFWA is a national organization representing State agencies in all 50 States, and the Services find their request shows good cause to extend the comment period. With this document, we extend the public comment period for an additional 15 days, as specified above in DATES, to provide all interested parties an additional opportunity to comment on the October 27, 2021, proposed rule. Public Comments All relevant information will be considered prior to making a final determination regarding the regulatory definition of ‘‘habitat.’’ If you already submitted comments or information on the October 27, 2021, proposed rule, please do not resubmit them. Any such comments are incorporated as part of the public record of the rulemaking proceeding, and we will fully consider them in the preparation of any final rule. You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. Comments must be submitted to https:// www.regulations.gov before 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the date specified in DATES. We will not consider mailed comments that are not postmarked by the date specified in DATES. We will post all comments on https:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us. If you provide personal identifying information in your comment, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Authority We issue this document under the authority of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq). Shannon A. Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Department of the Interior. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2021–25767 Filed 11–23–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Nov 23, 2021 Jkt 256001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 211117–0235; RTID 0648– XX072] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; 2022 and 2023 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes 2022–2023 specifications for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea fisheries. The implementing regulations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public comment. The proposed specifications are intended to establish allowable harvest levels for these species that will prevent overfishing, consistent with the most recent scientific information. DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 9, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2021–0120, by the following method: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA–NMFS–2021–0120 in the Search box. Click on the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the 2022–2023 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass specifciations. Copies of the SIR are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The SIR is also accessible via the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/s/ SFSBSB_2022-2023_specs_SIR_ final.pdf. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Keiley, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9116. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: General Background The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) outlines the Council’s process for establishing specifications. The FMP requires NMFS to set an acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits (RHL), and other management measures, for 1 to 3 years at a time. This action proposes 2022 and 2023 ABCs, as well as the recreational and commercial ACLs, ACTs, commercial quotas, and RHLs for all three species, consistent with the recommendations made by the Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board (Board) and Council at their joint August 2021 meeting. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met on July 22, 2021, to review the results of the 2021 management track stock assessments and recommend 2022 and 2023 ABCs for all three species; specific recommendations are discussed below. Proposed 2021 Specifications Summer Flounder Specifications The Council and Board recommended 2022–2023 summer flounder catch and landings limits are shown in Table 1. The recommendations are based on the averaged 2022–2023 ABCs recommended by the SSC. This approach allows for constant catch and landings limits across both years. The ABCs are based on an SSC-modified overfishing limit (OFL) and the Council’s risk policy, resulting in a 44to 46-percent probability of overfishing. For summer flounder, this results in a 22-percent increase in the recommended 2022 and 2023 ABC over E:\FR\FM\24NOP1.SGM 24NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 224 / Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / Proposed Rules the 2021 ABC. The proposed 2022–2023 commercial quota represents a 24percent increase over the 2021 quota, and approximately a 35-percent increase over 2020 reported landings. The 67015 proposed 2022–2023 RHL is a 25percent increase over the 2021 RHL. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF 2022 AND 2023 SUMMER FLOUNDER FISHERY SPECIFICATIONS Specifications Mil lb. OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC .......................................................................................................................................................................... Commercial ACL = ACT .......................................................................................................................................... Commercial Quota ................................................................................................................................................... Recreational ACL = ACT ......................................................................................................................................... Recreational Harvest Limit ...................................................................................................................................... The initial 2022 state-by-state summer flounder quotas are provided in Table 2. Through the final rule for this action, prior to the start of the fishing year, we will announce any adjustments necessary to address any long-standing overages or potential 2021 overages to Metric ton 2022: 36.28 2023: 34.98 33.12 18.48 15.53 14.64 10.36 2022: 16,458 2023: 15,865 15,021 8,382 7,046 6,639 4,697 provide the states with their final quotas. TABLE 2—INITIAL 2022 SUMMER FLOUNDER STATE-BY-STATE QUOTAS Initial 2022 quotas* (lb) State Initial 2022 quotas* (mt) ME ............................................................................................................................................................................ NH ............................................................................................................................................................................ MA ............................................................................................................................................................................ RI ............................................................................................................................................................................. CT ............................................................................................................................................................................ NY ............................................................................................................................................................................ NJ ............................................................................................................................................................................. DE ............................................................................................................................................................................ MD ........................................................................................................................................................................... VA ............................................................................................................................................................................ NC ............................................................................................................................................................................ 24,488 19,990 1,391,846 2,238,216 956,043 1,470,779 2,337,728 21,645 935,226 2,776,242 3,361,569 11.11 9.07 631.33 1,015.24 433.65 667.13 1,060.37 9.82 424.21 1,259.28 1,524.78 Total .................................................................................................................................................................. 15,533,771 7,045.99 * Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages. This action makes no changes to the current commercial management measures, including the minimum fish size (14 inch (36 cm) total length), gear requirements, and possession limits. Changes to 2022 recreational management measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) are not considered in this action, but will be considered by the Board and Council later this year when additional data are available for 2021. Black Sea Bass Specifications The Council and Board recommended 2022–2023 black sea bass catch and landings limits are shown in Table 3. After reviewing the 2021 black sea bass management track stock assessment, the SSC recommended 2022–2023 ABCs based on a 100-percent OFL coefficient of variation (CV) and the Council’s risk policy for a stock above 1.5 times SSBMSY, with an associated 49-percent probability of overfishing, aligning with their recommendations for this species from previous years. To ensure that the probability of overfishing remained below 50 percent in each year, the SSC recommends annually varying ABCs for 2022 and 2023. They could not recommend a constant ABC across the two years based on the average of the varying ABCs as this would have resulted in a greater than 50-percent probability of overfishing in 2023. This results in a 2022 black sea bass ABC that is an 8-percent increase compared to 2021, and a 2023 ABC that is a 5-percent decrease compared to 2021. The proposed 2022 commercial quota and RHL are both 6 percent higher than the 2021 quota and RHL. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS TABLE 3—2022–2023 BLACK SEA BASS CATCH AND LANDINGS LIMITS 2022 2023 Specifications Mil lb. OFL .................................................................................................................. ABC .................................................................................................................. Expected Commercial Discards ....................................................................... Expected Recreational Discards ...................................................................... Commercial ACL = ACT .................................................................................. Commercial Quota ........................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Nov 23, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Metric ton 19.26 18.86 3.63 2.02 10.10 6.47 E:\FR\FM\24NOP1.SGM 8,735 8,555 1,649 917 4,583 2,934 24NOP1 Mil lb. 17.01 16.66 3.21 1.79 8.93 5.71 Metric ton 7,716 7,557 1,456 810 4,048 2,592 67016 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 224 / Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3—2022–2023 BLACK SEA BASS CATCH AND LANDINGS LIMITS—Continued 2022 2023 Specifications Mil lb. Recreational ACL = ACT ................................................................................. RHL .................................................................................................................. This action proposes no changes to the 2022 commercial management measures for black sea bass, including the commercial minimum fish size (11 inch (27.94 cm) total length) and gear requirements. Scup Specifications The Council and Board recommended 2022–2023 scup catch and landings limits are shown in Table 4. The SSC recommended 2022–2023 ABCs based Metric ton 8.76 6.74 on a 60-percent OFL CV (as they have used for this species in previous years) and the Council’s risk policy for a stock above 1.5 times SSBMSY, with an associated 49-percent probability of overfishing. Similar to black sea bass, to ensure that the probability of overfishing remained below 50 percent in each year, the SSC recommend annually varying ABCs for 2022 and 2023. This results in a proposed 2022 ABC that is 8 percent less than the 2021 Mil lb. 3,972 3,055 Metric ton 7.74 5.95 3,509 2,699 ABC; the proposed 2023 ABC is 15 percent less than the 2021 ABC. The proposed scup commercial quotas for 2022 and 2023 represent a less than 1percent decrease and a 13-percent decrease respectively from 2021. However, scup quotas have not been constraining since 2007 and recent landings are less than the proposed quotas. The proposed 2022 RHL is less than 1 percent greater than the 2021 RHL. TABLE 4—2022–2023 SCUP CATCH AND LANDINGS LIMITS 2022 2023 Specifications Mil lb. OFL .................................................................................................................. ABC .................................................................................................................. Expected Commercial Discards ....................................................................... Expected Recreational Discards ...................................................................... Commercial ACL = ACT .................................................................................. Commercial Quota ........................................................................................... Recreational ACL = ACT ................................................................................. RHL .................................................................................................................. Metric ton 32.56 32.11 4.67 0.99 25.05 20.38 7.06 6.08 Mil lb. 14,770 14,566 2,117 447 11,361 9,245 3,205 2,757 Metric ton 30.09 29.67 5.28 1.12 23.15 17.87 6.53 5.41 13,648 13,460 2,394 506 10,499 8,105 2,961 2,455 The commercial scup quota is divided into three commercial fishery quota periods, as outlined in Table 5. TABLE 5—COMMERCIAL SCUP QUOTA ALLOCATIONS FOR 2020 BY QUOTA PERIOD Quota period Percent share lb mt Winter I .................................................................................................................................. Summer ................................................................................................................................. Winter II ................................................................................................................................. 45.11 38.95 15.94 9,194,201 7,938,686 3,248,849 4,170 3,601 1,474 Total ................................................................................................................................ 100.0 20,381,736 9,245 The current quota period possession limits are not changed by this action, and are outlined in Table 6. TABLE 6—COMMERCIAL SCUP POSSESSION LIMITS BY QUOTA PERIOD khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Quota period Percent share Federal possession limits (per trip) lb kg Winter I .................................................................................................................................. Summer ................................................................................................................................. Winter II ................................................................................................................................. 45.11 38.95 15.94 50,000 N/A 12,000 22,680 N/A 5,443 Total ................................................................................................................................ 100.0 N/A N/A VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Nov 23, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\24NOP1.SGM 24NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 224 / Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / Proposed Rules The Winter I possession limit will drop to 1,000 lb (454 kg) when 80 percent of that period’s allocation is landed. If the Winter I quota is not fully harvested, the remaining quota is transferred to Winter II. The Winter II possession limit may be adjusted (in association with a transfer of unused Winter I quota to the Winter II period) via notice in the Federal Register. The 67017 regulations specify that the Winter II possession limit increases consistent with the increase in the quota, as described in Table 7. TABLE 7—POTENTIAL INCREASE IN WINTER II POSSESSION LIMITS BASED ON THE AMOUNT OF UNUSED SCUP ROLLED OVER FROM WINTER I TO WINTER II Initial Winter II possession limit lb Rollover from Winter I to Winter II kg 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 5,443 5,443 5,443 5,443 5,443 lb Increase in initial Winter II possession limit kg 0–499,999 500,000–999,999 1,000,000–1,499,999 1,500,000–1,999,999 * 2,000,000–2,500,000 lb 0–226,796 226,796–453,592 453,592–680,388 680,389–907,184 907,185–1,133,981 kg 0 1,500 3,000 4,500 6,000 0 680 1,361 2,041 2,722 Final Winter II possession limit after rollover from Winter I to Winter II lb 12,000 13,500 15,000 16,500 18,000 kg 5,443 6,123 6,804 7,484 8,165 * This process of increasing the possession limit in 1,500 lb (680 kg) increments would continue past 2,500,000 lb (1,122,981 kg), but we end here for the purpose of this example. This action proposes no changes to the 2022 commercial management measures for scup, including the minimum fish size (9 inch (22.9 cm) total length), gear requirements, and quota period possession limits. As with summer flounder and black sea bass, potential changes to the recreational measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) for 2022 will be considered later this year when additional data are available for 2021. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council conducted an evaluation of the potential socioeconomic impacts of the proposed measures in conjunction with a SIR. The proposed action would set the 2022 and projected 2023 catch and landings limits for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass based on the recommendations of the SSC, the Council, and Board. The proposed 2022–2023 specifications are an increase for summer flounder in both VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Nov 23, 2021 Jkt 256001 years and black sea bass in 2022, compared to the 2021 quotas. The 2022– 2023 scup specification are lower than 2021, but commercial scup landings appear to be influenced by market conditions, and landings have been lower than the quota since 2007. No changes to the Federal commercial fishery management measures are being proposed. Recreational fishery management measures are developed in a separate action. Vessel ownership data were used to identify all individuals who own fishing vessels. Vessels were then grouped according to common owners. The resulting groupings were then treated as entities, or affiliates, for purposes of identifying small and large businesses which may be affected by this action. Affiliates were identified as primarily commercial fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2020 came from commercial fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held party/ charter permits. Affiliates were identified as primarily for-hire fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2020 came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held commercial permits. Based on this grouping, a total of 711 commercial affiliates reported revenue from summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass landings in at least one year during 2018–2020. Based on combined receipts in 2020, 706 (99 percent) of these commercial affiliates were classified as small businesses and 5 (1 percent) were classified as large businesses. A total of 361 affiliates reported that the majority of their revenues in 2020 came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also participated in commercial fishing. All PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 361 of the for-hire affiliates were categorized as small businesses based on their 2020 revenues. It is not possible to determine the proportion of their revenues that came from fishing for an individual species. However, given the popularity of summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass as recreational species in the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, revenues generated from these species are likely important for many of these firms at certain times of the year. The 706 potentially impacted commercial fishing small business affiliates had average total annual revenues of $634,503, and an average of $52,227 in annual revenues from commercial landings of summer flounder, scup and/or black sea bass during 2018–2020. On average, these species accounted for 8 percent of the total revenues for these 706 small business affiliates. The five potentially impacted large business affiliates had average total annual revenues of $82.8 million and $438,853 on average in annual revenues from commercial landings of summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass during 2018–2020. On average, these species accounted for less than 1 percent of the total revenues for these five large business affiliates. The proposed action for summer flounder is expected to result in a slight to moderate increase in commercial landings compared to current levels. The proposed 2022–2023 commercial quota represents a 24-percent increase over the 2021 quota, and approximately a 35-percent increase over 2020 reported landings. The proposed action for scup is expected to result in similar levels of commercial landings and revenues as E:\FR\FM\24NOP1.SGM 24NOP1 67018 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 224 / Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS the past several years. Commercial scup landings appear to be influenced more by market factors than the annual commercial quota. The proposed scup quotas for 2022 (20.38 million lb, 9,244 metric tons) and 2023 (17.87 million lb, 8,105 metric tons) represent a less than 1-percent decrease and a 13-percent decrease from 2021 (20.50 million lb, 9,298 metrictons), respectively. However commercial landings have been lower than the quotas since 2007, and recent landings are lower than the proposed 2022 and 2023 quotas. In general, the proposed 2022–2023 scup quotas are expected to have moderate positive impacts for both the small and large commercial fishing business identified above because they are VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Nov 23, 2021 Jkt 256001 expected to result in revenues similar to those over the past several years. The proposed action for black sea bass is expected to have generally moderate positive socioeconomic impacts for all participants because it would allow for commercial landings and revenues that are similar to recent years. For example, the proposed 2022 quota (6.47 million lb, 2,934 metric tons) is 6 percent higher than the 2021 quota (6.09 million lb, 2,762 metric tons) and the proposed 2023 quota is 6 percent lower than the 2021 quota. This action does not consider changes to recreational management measures. As result, this action is not expected to adversely impact revenues for commercial and recreational vessels that fish for summer flounder, scup, and, PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 black sea bass. Because this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 17, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–25394 Filed 11–23–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\24NOP1.SGM 24NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 224 (Wednesday, November 24, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 67014-67018]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-25394]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 211117-0235; RTID 0648-XX072]


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; 2022 and 2023 Summer 
Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes 2022-2023 specifications for the summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea fisheries. The implementing regulations 
for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management 
Plan require us to publish specifications for the upcoming fishing year 
for each of these species and to provide an opportunity for public 
comment. The proposed specifications are intended to establish 
allowable harvest levels for these species that will prevent 
overfishing, consistent with the most recent scientific information.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 9, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2021-0120, by the following method:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and 
enter NOAA-NMFS-2021-0120 in the Search box. Click on the ``Comment'' 
icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) was prepared for the 2022-
2023 summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass specifciations. Copies 
of the SIR are available on request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, 
Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 
800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. The SIR is also accessible via 
the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/s/SFSBSB_2022-2023_specs_SIR_final.pdf.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

General Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) cooperatively 
manage the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. The 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) 
outlines the Council's process for establishing specifications. The FMP 
requires NMFS to set an acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch 
limit (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), commercial quotas, 
recreational harvest limits (RHL), and other management measures, for 1 
to 3 years at a time. This action proposes 2022 and 2023 ABCs, as well 
as the recreational and commercial ACLs, ACTs, commercial quotas, and 
RHLs for all three species, consistent with the recommendations made by 
the Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board 
(Board) and Council at their joint August 2021 meeting.
    The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met on July 22, 
2021, to review the results of the 2021 management track stock 
assessments and recommend 2022 and 2023 ABCs for all three species; 
specific recommendations are discussed below.

Proposed 2021 Specifications

Summer Flounder Specifications

    The Council and Board recommended 2022-2023 summer flounder catch 
and landings limits are shown in Table 1. The recommendations are based 
on the averaged 2022-2023 ABCs recommended by the SSC. This approach 
allows for constant catch and landings limits across both years. The 
ABCs are based on an SSC-modified overfishing limit (OFL) and the 
Council's risk policy, resulting in a 44- to 46-percent probability of 
overfishing. For summer flounder, this results in a 22-percent increase 
in the recommended 2022 and 2023 ABC over

[[Page 67015]]

the 2021 ABC. The proposed 2022-2023 commercial quota represents a 24-
percent increase over the 2021 quota, and approximately a 35-percent 
increase over 2020 reported landings. The proposed 2022-2023 RHL is a 
25-percent increase over the 2021 RHL.

Table 1--Summary of 2022 and 2023 Summer Flounder Fishery Specifications
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Specifications                   Mil lb.       Metric ton
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................     2022: 36.28    2022: 16,458
                                             2023: 34.98    2023: 15,865
ABC.....................................           33.12          15,021
Commercial ACL = ACT....................           18.48           8,382
Commercial Quota........................           15.53           7,046
Recreational ACL = ACT..................           14.64           6,639
Recreational Harvest Limit..............           10.36           4,697
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The initial 2022 state-by-state summer flounder quotas are provided 
in Table 2.
    Through the final rule for this action, prior to the start of the 
fishing year, we will announce any adjustments necessary to address any 
long-standing overages or potential 2021 overages to provide the states 
with their final quotas.

       Table 2--Initial 2022 Summer Flounder State-by-State Quotas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Initial 2022    Initial 2022
                  State                    quotas* (lb)    quotas* (mt)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ME......................................          24,488           11.11
NH......................................          19,990            9.07
MA......................................       1,391,846          631.33
RI......................................       2,238,216        1,015.24
CT......................................         956,043          433.65
NY......................................       1,470,779          667.13
NJ......................................       2,337,728        1,060.37
DE......................................          21,645            9.82
MD......................................         935,226          424.21
VA......................................       2,776,242        1,259.28
NC......................................       3,361,569        1,524.78
                                         -------------------------------
    Total...............................      15,533,771        7,045.99
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Initial quotas do not account for any previous overages.

    This action makes no changes to the current commercial management 
measures, including the minimum fish size (14 inch (36 cm) total 
length), gear requirements, and possession limits. Changes to 2022 
recreational management measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) 
are not considered in this action, but will be considered by the Board 
and Council later this year when additional data are available for 
2021.

Black Sea Bass Specifications

    The Council and Board recommended 2022-2023 black sea bass catch 
and landings limits are shown in Table 3. After reviewing the 2021 
black sea bass management track stock assessment, the SSC recommended 
2022-2023 ABCs based on a 100-percent OFL coefficient of variation (CV) 
and the Council's risk policy for a stock above 1.5 times 
SSBMSY, with an associated 49-percent probability of 
overfishing, aligning with their recommendations for this species from 
previous years. To ensure that the probability of overfishing remained 
below 50 percent in each year, the SSC recommends annually varying ABCs 
for 2022 and 2023. They could not recommend a constant ABC across the 
two years based on the average of the varying ABCs as this would have 
resulted in a greater than 50-percent probability of overfishing in 
2023. This results in a 2022 black sea bass ABC that is an 8-percent 
increase compared to 2021, and a 2023 ABC that is a 5-percent decrease 
compared to 2021. The proposed 2022 commercial quota and RHL are both 6 
percent higher than the 2021 quota and RHL.

                           Table 3--2022-2023 Black Sea Bass Catch and Landings Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2022                            2023
                 Specifications                  ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Mil lb.       Metric ton        Mil lb.       Metric ton
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.............................................           19.26           8,735           17.01           7,716
ABC.............................................           18.86           8,555           16.66           7,557
Expected Commercial Discards....................            3.63           1,649            3.21           1,456
Expected Recreational Discards..................            2.02             917            1.79             810
Commercial ACL = ACT............................           10.10           4,583            8.93           4,048
Commercial Quota................................            6.47           2,934            5.71           2,592

[[Page 67016]]

 
Recreational ACL = ACT..........................            8.76           3,972            7.74           3,509
RHL.............................................            6.74           3,055            5.95           2,699
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action proposes no changes to the 2022 commercial management 
measures for black sea bass, including the commercial minimum fish size 
(11 inch (27.94 cm) total length) and gear requirements.

Scup Specifications

    The Council and Board recommended 2022-2023 scup catch and landings 
limits are shown in Table 4. The SSC recommended 2022-2023 ABCs based 
on a 60-percent OFL CV (as they have used for this species in previous 
years) and the Council's risk policy for a stock above 1.5 times 
SSBMSY, with an associated 49-percent probability of 
overfishing. Similar to black sea bass, to ensure that the probability 
of overfishing remained below 50 percent in each year, the SSC 
recommend annually varying ABCs for 2022 and 2023. This results in a 
proposed 2022 ABC that is 8 percent less than the 2021 ABC; the 
proposed 2023 ABC is 15 percent less than the 2021 ABC. The proposed 
scup commercial quotas for 2022 and 2023 represent a less than 1-
percent decrease and a 13-percent decrease respectively from 2021. 
However, scup quotas have not been constraining since 2007 and recent 
landings are less than the proposed quotas. The proposed 2022 RHL is 
less than 1 percent greater than the 2021 RHL.

                                Table 4--2022-2023 Scup Catch and Landings Limits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2022                            2023
                 Specifications                  ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Mil lb.       Metric ton        Mil lb.       Metric ton
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.............................................           32.56          14,770           30.09          13,648
ABC.............................................           32.11          14,566           29.67          13,460
Expected Commercial Discards....................            4.67           2,117            5.28           2,394
Expected Recreational Discards..................            0.99             447            1.12             506
Commercial ACL = ACT............................           25.05          11,361           23.15          10,499
Commercial Quota................................           20.38           9,245           17.87           8,105
Recreational ACL = ACT..........................            7.06           3,205            6.53           2,961
RHL.............................................            6.08           2,757            5.41           2,455
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The commercial scup quota is divided into three commercial fishery 
quota periods, as outlined in Table 5.

                       Table 5--Commercial Scup Quota Allocations for 2020 by Quota Period
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         Quota period                           Percent share          lb               mt
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Winter I.....................................................            45.11        9,194,201            4,170
Summer.......................................................            38.95        7,938,686            3,601
Winter II....................................................            15.94        3,248,849            1,474
                                                              --------------------------------------------------
    Total....................................................            100.0       20,381,736            9,245
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The current quota period possession limits are not changed by this 
action, and are outlined in Table 6.

                           Table 6--Commercial Scup Possession Limits by Quota Period
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                 Federal possession limits (per
                                                                                              trip)
                         Quota period                           Percent share  ---------------------------------
                                                                                       lb               kg
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Winter I.....................................................            45.11           50,000           22,680
Summer.......................................................            38.95              N/A              N/A
Winter II....................................................            15.94           12,000            5,443
                                                              --------------------------------------------------
    Total....................................................            100.0              N/A              N/A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 67017]]

    The Winter I possession limit will drop to 1,000 lb (454 kg) when 
80 percent of that period's allocation is landed. If the Winter I quota 
is not fully harvested, the remaining quota is transferred to Winter 
II. The Winter II possession limit may be adjusted (in association with 
a transfer of unused Winter I quota to the Winter II period) via notice 
in the Federal Register. The regulations specify that the Winter II 
possession limit increases consistent with the increase in the quota, 
as described in Table 7.

          Table 7--Potential Increase in Winter II Possession Limits Based on the Amount of Unused Scup Rolled Over From Winter I to Winter II
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Initial Winter II possession            Rollover from Winter I to Winter II           Increase in initial Winter II   Final Winter II possession limit
              limit              ----------------------------------------------------         possession limit           after rollover from Winter I to
---------------------------------                                                    ----------------------------------             Winter II
                                             lb                        kg                                              ---------------------------------
       lb               kg                                                                   lb               kg               lb               kg
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       12,000            5,443                 0-499,999                 0-226,796                0                0           12,000            5,443
       12,000            5,443           500,000-999,999           226,796-453,592            1,500              680           13,500            6,123
       12,000            5,443       1,000,000-1,499,999           453,592-680,388            3,000            1,361           15,000            6,804
       12,000            5,443       1,500,000-1,999,999           680,389-907,184            4,500            2,041           16,500            7,484
       12,000            5,443     * 2,000,000-2,500,000         907,185-1,133,981            6,000            2,722           18,000            8,165
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* This process of increasing the possession limit in 1,500 lb (680 kg) increments would continue past 2,500,000 lb (1,122,981 kg), but we end here for
  the purpose of this example.

    This action proposes no changes to the 2022 commercial management 
measures for scup, including the minimum fish size (9 inch (22.9 cm) 
total length), gear requirements, and quota period possession limits. 
As with summer flounder and black sea bass, potential changes to the 
recreational measures (bag limits, size limits, and seasons) for 2022 
will be considered later this year when additional data are available 
for 2021.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 
12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual basis for this determination is as follows.
    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council conducted an evaluation 
of the potential socioeconomic impacts of the proposed measures in 
conjunction with a SIR. The proposed action would set the 2022 and 
projected 2023 catch and landings limits for summer flounder, scup, and 
black sea bass based on the recommendations of the SSC, the Council, 
and Board. The proposed 2022-2023 specifications are an increase for 
summer flounder in both years and black sea bass in 2022, compared to 
the 2021 quotas. The 2022-2023 scup specification are lower than 2021, 
but commercial scup landings appear to be influenced by market 
conditions, and landings have been lower than the quota since 2007. No 
changes to the Federal commercial fishery management measures are being 
proposed. Recreational fishery management measures are developed in a 
separate action.
    Vessel ownership data were used to identify all individuals who own 
fishing vessels. Vessels were then grouped according to common owners. 
The resulting groupings were then treated as entities, or affiliates, 
for purposes of identifying small and large businesses which may be 
affected by this action. Affiliates were identified as primarily 
commercial fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2020 
came from commercial fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also 
held party/charter permits. Affiliates were identified as primarily 
for-hire fishing affiliates if the majority of their revenues in 2020 
came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates may have also held 
commercial permits.
    Based on this grouping, a total of 711 commercial affiliates 
reported revenue from summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass 
landings in at least one year during 2018-2020. Based on combined 
receipts in 2020, 706 (99 percent) of these commercial affiliates were 
classified as small businesses and 5 (1 percent) were classified as 
large businesses.
    A total of 361 affiliates reported that the majority of their 
revenues in 2020 came from for-hire fishing. Some of these affiliates 
may have also participated in commercial fishing. All 361 of the for-
hire affiliates were categorized as small businesses based on their 
2020 revenues. It is not possible to determine the proportion of their 
revenues that came from fishing for an individual species. However, 
given the popularity of summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass as 
recreational species in the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, 
revenues generated from these species are likely important for many of 
these firms at certain times of the year.
    The 706 potentially impacted commercial fishing small business 
affiliates had average total annual revenues of $634,503, and an 
average of $52,227 in annual revenues from commercial landings of 
summer flounder, scup and/or black sea bass during 2018-2020. On 
average, these species accounted for 8 percent of the total revenues 
for these 706 small business affiliates.
    The five potentially impacted large business affiliates had average 
total annual revenues of $82.8 million and $438,853 on average in 
annual revenues from commercial landings of summer flounder, scup, and/
or black sea bass during 2018-2020. On average, these species accounted 
for less than 1 percent of the total revenues for these five large 
business affiliates.
    The proposed action for summer flounder is expected to result in a 
slight to moderate increase in commercial landings compared to current 
levels. The proposed 2022-2023 commercial quota represents a 24-percent 
increase over the 2021 quota, and approximately a 35-percent increase 
over 2020 reported landings.
    The proposed action for scup is expected to result in similar 
levels of commercial landings and revenues as

[[Page 67018]]

the past several years. Commercial scup landings appear to be 
influenced more by market factors than the annual commercial quota. The 
proposed scup quotas for 2022 (20.38 million lb, 9,244 metric tons) and 
2023 (17.87 million lb, 8,105 metric tons) represent a less than 1-
percent decrease and a 13-percent decrease from 2021 (20.50 million lb, 
9,298 metrictons), respectively. However commercial landings have been 
lower than the quotas since 2007, and recent landings are lower than 
the proposed 2022 and 2023 quotas. In general, the proposed 2022-2023 
scup quotas are expected to have moderate positive impacts for both the 
small and large commercial fishing business identified above because 
they are expected to result in revenues similar to those over the past 
several years.
    The proposed action for black sea bass is expected to have 
generally moderate positive socioeconomic impacts for all participants 
because it would allow for commercial landings and revenues that are 
similar to recent years. For example, the proposed 2022 quota (6.47 
million lb, 2,934 metric tons) is 6 percent higher than the 2021 quota 
(6.09 million lb, 2,762 metric tons) and the proposed 2023 quota is 6 
percent lower than the 2021 quota.
    This action does not consider changes to recreational management 
measures.
    As result, this action is not expected to adversely impact revenues 
for commercial and recreational vessels that fish for summer flounder, 
scup, and, black sea bass. Because this rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared.
    This proposed rule contains no information collection requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

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

    Dated: November 17, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-25394 Filed 11-23-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P