Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; 2022 and Projected 2023 Specifications, 68456-68459 [2021-25901]

Download as PDF 68456 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 229 / Thursday, December 2, 2021 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 been implicated in the captures of S. teuszii in areas adjacent to the Banc d’Arguin (Collins 2015). Additionally, Collins (2015) notes that migrant fishermen from Senegal, Guinea (Conakry), and Sierra Leone have been found exploiting waters of GuineaBissau, which does not have a strong fishing tradition, and thus the artisanal fishing tradition is limited in this country’s waters. However, captures of dolphins and manatees, along with declines of nesting sea turtles have been reported, thus raising concern for S. teuszii (Collins 2015, Collins et al. 2017). In general, declines in other target fish species may affect the Atlantic humpback dolphin population by increasing artisanal fishing effort and pressure, leading to increased bycatch risk for the species (Collins 2015, Collins et al. 2017). Industrial fisheries compound this issue by competing for increasingly scant resources, as well as fishing in zones set aside for artisanal fishermen and areas where dolphins are known to occur (Collins 2015, Collins et al. 2017). For example, Collins (2015) notes that trawlers fishing illegally within Conkouati Douli National Park (Republic of the Congo) impel artisanal fishermen to set their nets closer to shore (for fear of losing their nets in trawls), raising bycatch risks for coastal species, like S. teuszii. Overall, the information presented in the petition and briefly summarized here regarding the Atlantic humpback dolphin’s specific habitat requirements, low estimated abundance, fragmented distribution, and the immediate threat of fisheries bycatch and potential targeted harvest lead us to conclude that listing the species as threatened or endangered may be warranted. Petition Finding After reviewing the petition, the literature cited in the petition, and other information readily available in our files, we find that listing S. teuszii as a threatened or endangered species may be warranted. Therefore, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA and NMFS’ implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.14(h)(2)), we will commence a status review of this species. During the status review, we will determine whether S. teuszii is in danger of extinction (endangered) or likely to become so in the foreseeable future (threatened) throughout all or a significant portion of its range. As required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA, within 12 months of the receipt of the petition (September 8, 2021), we will make a finding as to whether listing the Atlantic humpback dolphin as an VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 endangered or threatened species is warranted. If listing is warranted, we will publish a proposed rule and solicit public comments before developing and publishing a final rule. Information Solicited To ensure that the status review is based on the best available scientific and commercial data, we are soliciting comments and information from interested parties on the status of the Atlantic humpback dolphin. Specifically, we are soliciting information in the following areas: (1) Historical and current abundance and population trends of S. teuszii throughout its range; (2) Historical and current distribution and population structure of S. teuszii; (3) Information on S. teuszii site fidelity, population connectivity, and movements within and between populations (including estimates of genetic diversity across and within populations); (4) Historical and current condition of S. teuszii habitat; (5) Information on S. teuszii life history and reproductive parameters; (6) Data on S. teuszii diet and prey; (7) Information and data on common S. teuszii disease(s) and/or contaminant exposure; (8) Historical and current data on S. teuszii catch, bycatch, and retention in industrial, commercial, artisanal, and recreational fisheries throughout its range; (9) Past, current, and potential threats, including any current or planned activities that may adversely impact S. teuszii over the short-term or long-term; (10) Data on trade of S. teuszii products; and (11) Management, regulatory, or conservation programs for S. teuszii, including mitigation measures related to any known or potential threats to the species throughout its range. We request that all data and information be accompanied by supporting documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications. Please send any comments in accordance with the instructions provided in the ADDRESSES section above. We will base our findings on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, including relevant information received during the public comment period. References Cited A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon request (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: November 29, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–26225 Filed 12–1–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 211122–0241;RTID 0648–XX073] Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; 2022 and Projected 2023 Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes Atlantic bluefish specifications for the 2022 fishing year, and projected specifications for fishing year 2023, as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This action is necessary to establish allowable harvest levels to prevent overfishing while enabling optimum yield, using the best scientific information available. This rule also informs the public of the proposed fishery specifications and provides an opportunity for comment. DATES: Comments must be received by December 17, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2021–0107, by the following method: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov, and enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2021–0107’’ in the Search box; 2. Click the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields; and 3. Enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\02DEP1.SGM 02DEP1 68457 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 229 / Thursday, December 2, 2021 / Proposed Rules 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). If you are unable to submit your comment through www.regulations.gov, contact Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Policy Analyst, Cynthia.Ferrio@noaa.gov. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the proposed measures and other considered alternatives. The EA also provides an economic analysis, as well as an analysis of the biological, economic, and social impacts of the proposed measures and other considered alternatives. Copies of the specifications document, including the EA and information on the economic impacts of the proposed measures, 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. These documents are also accessible via the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/ supporting-documents. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281–9180. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission jointly manage the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP requires the specification of an acceptable biological catch (ABC), commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACL), commercial and recreational annual catch targets (ACT), a commercial quota, a recreational harvest limit (RHL), and any other management measures, for up to three years at a time. This action proposes bluefish catch limit specifications for the 2022 fishing year, and projects specifications for 2023, based on Council and Commission recommendations. These proposed specifications are based on a 2021 assessment update and the recent Amendment 7 to the Bluefish FMP, as well as recommendations from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Bluefish Monitoring Committee. Amendment 7 was adopted by the Council and Commission in early June 2021, and the final rule published on November 24, 2021, 86 FR 66977. This amendment would implement management measures that affect these proposed specifications, including a rebuilding plan and reallocation of annual quotas between fishery sectors and among states. These proposed specifications were developed based on Amendment 7 measures, and these specifications would implement the first year of the rebuilding plan as well as begin the phasing in of the reallocation of commercial quota to the states in 2022. There was a 3.65 million-lb (1,656-mt) overage of the fishery ACL caused by recreational catch in 2020. Because the bluefish fishery is overfished, the accountability measure (AM) required by the FMP at 50 CFR 648.163(d)(1) is a pound-for-pound payback of the overage against the soonest possible year’s recreational ACT as a single-year adjustment. The 2020 overage AM would therefore be applied to the 2022 specifications under this proposed action. No sector transfer is allowed through these specifications because the stock is still overfished and new sector transfer provisions of Amendment 7 do not allow transfer in this situation. No changes are proposed to recreational management measures because the expected recreational landings under the existing measures are very close to fully achieving the proposed RHL. Proposed Specifications This action proposes the Council’s recommendations for 2022 and projected 2023 bluefish catch specifications, which are consistent with the SSC and Monitoring Committee recommendations (Table 1). These proposed specifications would increase the fishery ABC by about 55 percent in 2022, and by 21 percent the following year in 2023. The commercial quota and RHL are also proposed to increase by 28 percent and 67 percent in 2022, respectively, and again by 21 percent and 59 percent in 2023. TABLE 1—COMPARISON OF 2021, PROPOSED 2022, AND PROJECTED 2023 BLUEFISH SPECIFICATIONS * 2021 Million lb Overfishing Limit ...................................... ABC = Fishery ACL ................................. Commercial ACL = Commercial ACT ...... Recreational ACL = Recreational ACT .... Recreational Accountability Measures ..... Commercial Total Allowable Landings (TAL) ..................................................... Recreational TAL ..................................... Sector Transfer ........................................ Commercial Quota ................................... RHL .......................................................... 2022 (Proposed) Metric tons Million lb 2023 (Projected) Metric tons Million lb Metric tons 32.98 16.28 2.77 13.51 0 17,228 7,385 1,255 6,130 0 40.56 25.26 3.54 21.73 3.65 18,399 11,460 1,604 9,856 1,656 45.17 30.62 4.29 26.34 0 20,490 13,890 1,945 11,945 0 2.77 8.34 0 2.77 8.34 1,255 3,785 0 1,255 3,785 3.54 13.89 0 3.54 13.89 1,604 6,298 0 1,604 6,298 4.29 22.14 0 4.29 22.14 1,945 10,044 0 1,945 10,044 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 * Specifications are derived from the ABC in metric tons (mt). When values are converted to millions of pounds the numbers may slightly shift due to rounding. The conversion factor used is 1 mt = 2204.6226 lb. Table 2 provides the proposed commercial state allocations based on the Council-recommended coastwide commercial quotas for 2022 and 2023, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 and the phased-in changes to the percent share allocations to the states specified in Amendment 7. No states exceeded their allocated quota in 2020, PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 or are projected to do so in 2021; therefore, no accountability measures for the commercial fishery are required for the 2022 fishing year at this time. E:\FR\FM\02DEP1.SGM 02DEP1 68458 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 229 / Thursday, December 2, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—PROPOSED 2022 AND PROJECTED 2023 BLUEFISH STATE COMMERCIAL QUOTA ALLOCATIONS 2022 (Proposed) 2023 (Projected) State Percent share Quota (kg) Percent share Quota (lb) Quota (kg) Maine ....................................................... New Hampshire ....................................... Massachusetts ......................................... Rhode Island ............................................ Connecticut .............................................. New York ................................................. New Jersey .............................................. Delaware .................................................. Maryland .................................................. Virginia ..................................................... North Carolina .......................................... South Carolina ......................................... Georgia .................................................... Florida ...................................................... 0.59 0.39 7.20 7.21 1.24 11.72 14.68 1.68 2.85 11.02 32.06 0.04 0.02 9.31 20,819 13,655 254,748 254,956 43,885 414,693 519,158 59,442 100,698 389,802 1,133,855 1,590 805 329,137 9,443 6,194 115,552 115,646 19,906 188,102 235,486 26,962 45,676 176,811 514,308 721 365 149,294 0.51 0.36 7.69 7.61 1.22 13.06 14.54 1.48 2.69 10.16 32.05 0.05 0.04 8.55 21,807 15,331 329,578 326,165 52,094 560,031 623,295 63,572 115,409 435,625 1,374,077 2,344 1,544 366,585 9,892 6,954 149,494 147,946 23,629 254,026 282,722 28,836 52,349 197,596 623,271 1,063 700 166,280 Total .................................................. 100.00 3,537,096 1,604,400 100.01 4,287,109 1,944,600 As previously mentioned, no changes to the recreational management measures are proposed in this action, as the expected recreational landings of 13.58 million lb (6,160 mt) under the existing measures are likely to achieve the proposed RHL. All other federal management measures would also remain unchanged under this action. The projected specifications for 2023 are based on the available data and the second year of the rebuilding plan model. However, there is a research track stock assessment scheduled for bluefish in 2022. The Council will review the projected 2023 specifications in light of any new information, including this assessment, to determine if changes need to be made prior to their implementation. NMFS will publish a notice prior to the 2023 fishing year to confirm these limits as projected or announce any necessary changes. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Quota (lb) Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MagnusonStevens Act), the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866 because it contains no implementing regulations. 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 The factual basis for this determination is as follows. The Council conducted an evaluation of the potential socioeconomic impacts of the proposed measures in conjunction with an EA. There are no proposed regulatory changes in this bluefish action, so none are considered in the evaluation. The proposed specifications would increase bluefish catch limits in both 2022 and 2023 compared to 2021 to allow greater operational flexibility in the fishery, while still adhering to the rebuilding plan implemented by Amendment 7. This action would also incorporate the quota reallocation changes implemented by Amendment 7, allocating 86 percent of the ACL to the recreational sector and 14 percent to the commercial sector, as well as beginning the 7-year phased-in reallocation of commercial quota among the states in 2022. This action would affect entities that participate in commercial bluefish fishing (those that hold commercial bluefish permits), and those with federal for-hire (party/charter) recreational fishing permits for bluefish. Vessels may hold multiple fishing permits and some entities own multiple vessels and/or permits. According to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center commercial ownership database, 526 affiliate firms landed bluefish during the 2018–2020 period (the most recent and complete data available), with 521 of those commercial entities categorized as small businesses and 5 categorized as large businesses. For the recreational for-hire fishery, 361 for-hire affiliate firms generated revenues from recreational fishing for various species during 2018– 2020. All of those business affiliates are categorized as small businesses, but it is PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 not possible to derive the proportion of overall revenues for these for-hire firms resulting from fishing activities for an individual species such as bluefish. Nevertheless, given the popularity of bluefish as a recreational species in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, it is likely that revenues generated from bluefish may be somewhat important for many of these firms at certain times of the year. Overall, proposed specifications for 2022 and projected specifications for 2023 are expected to provide similar fishing opportunities when compared to the 2021 fishing year. Although these catch limits are increasing, there are no proposed changes to other management measures, such as recreational bag limits, that are likely to change fishing behavior. Entities issued a commercial bluefish permit may experience a slight positive impact related to potentially higher landings throughout the course of the entire year. However, because state allocations are changing, there might be different amounts of quota available regionally compared to past years. Often, fishing behavior and short term landings are based on market conditions, which are not expected to substantially change as a result of these specifications. As such, the proposed action is not expected to have an impact on the way the fishery operates or the revenue of small entities. Overall, analyses indicate that the proposed specifications will not substantially change: Fishing effort, the risk of overfishing, prices/revenues, or fishery behavior. Additionally, this action will not have a significant impact on small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. E:\FR\FM\02DEP1.SGM 02DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 229 / Thursday, December 2, 2021 / Proposed Rules This action would not establish any new reporting or record-keeping requirements. This proposed rule contains no new information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: November 23, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–25901 Filed 12–1–21; 8:45 am] lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:31 Dec 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 68459 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\02DEP1.SGM 02DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 229 (Thursday, December 2, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 68456-68459]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-25901]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 211122-0241;RTID 0648-XX073]


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish 
Fishery; 2022 and Projected 2023 Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes Atlantic bluefish specifications for the 2022 
fishing year, and projected specifications for fishing year 2023, as 
recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This action 
is necessary to establish allowable harvest levels to prevent 
overfishing while enabling optimum yield, using the best scientific 
information available. This rule also informs the public of the 
proposed fishery specifications and provides an opportunity for 
comment.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 17, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2021-0107, by the following method:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov, and enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2021-
0107'' in the Search box;
    2. Click the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields; and
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying

[[Page 68457]]

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). If you are unable to submit your comment through 
www.regulations.gov, contact Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
[email protected].
    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the 
proposed measures and other considered alternatives. The EA also 
provides an economic analysis, as well as an analysis of the 
biological, economic, and social impacts of the proposed measures and 
other considered alternatives. Copies of the specifications document, 
including the EA and information on the economic impacts of the 
proposed measures, 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. These documents are 
also accessible via the internet at https://www.mafmc.org/supporting-documents.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Ferrio, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, (978) 281-9180.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States 
Marine Fisheries Commission jointly manage the Atlantic Bluefish 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP requires the specification of an 
acceptable biological catch (ABC), commercial and recreational annual 
catch limits (ACL), commercial and recreational annual catch targets 
(ACT), a commercial quota, a recreational harvest limit (RHL), and any 
other management measures, for up to three years at a time. This action 
proposes bluefish catch limit specifications for the 2022 fishing year, 
and projects specifications for 2023, based on Council and Commission 
recommendations.
    These proposed specifications are based on a 2021 assessment update 
and the recent Amendment 7 to the Bluefish FMP, as well as 
recommendations from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) and the Bluefish Monitoring Committee. Amendment 7 was adopted by 
the Council and Commission in early June 2021, and the final rule 
published on November 24, 2021, 86 FR 66977. This amendment would 
implement management measures that affect these proposed 
specifications, including a rebuilding plan and reallocation of annual 
quotas between fishery sectors and among states. These proposed 
specifications were developed based on Amendment 7 measures, and these 
specifications would implement the first year of the rebuilding plan as 
well as begin the phasing in of the reallocation of commercial quota to 
the states in 2022.
    There was a 3.65 million-lb (1,656-mt) overage of the fishery ACL 
caused by recreational catch in 2020. Because the bluefish fishery is 
overfished, the accountability measure (AM) required by the FMP at 50 
CFR 648.163(d)(1) is a pound-for-pound payback of the overage against 
the soonest possible year's recreational ACT as a single-year 
adjustment. The 2020 overage AM would therefore be applied to the 2022 
specifications under this proposed action. No sector transfer is 
allowed through these specifications because the stock is still 
overfished and new sector transfer provisions of Amendment 7 do not 
allow transfer in this situation. No changes are proposed to 
recreational management measures because the expected recreational 
landings under the existing measures are very close to fully achieving 
the proposed RHL.

Proposed Specifications

    This action proposes the Council's recommendations for 2022 and 
projected 2023 bluefish catch specifications, which are consistent with 
the SSC and Monitoring Committee recommendations (Table 1). These 
proposed specifications would increase the fishery ABC by about 55 
percent in 2022, and by 21 percent the following year in 2023. The 
commercial quota and RHL are also proposed to increase by 28 percent 
and 67 percent in 2022, respectively, and again by 21 percent and 59 
percent in 2023.

                                Table 1--Comparison of 2021, Proposed 2022, and Projected 2023 Bluefish Specifications *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2021                       2022 (Proposed)                2023 (Projected)
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Million lb      Metric tons     Million lb      Metric tons     Million lb      Metric tons
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overfishing Limit.......................................           32.98          17,228           40.56          18,399           45.17          20,490
ABC = Fishery ACL.......................................           16.28           7,385           25.26          11,460           30.62          13,890
Commercial ACL = Commercial ACT.........................            2.77           1,255            3.54           1,604            4.29           1,945
Recreational ACL = Recreational ACT.....................           13.51           6,130           21.73           9,856           26.34          11,945
Recreational Accountability Measures....................               0               0            3.65           1,656               0               0
Commercial Total Allowable Landings (TAL)...............            2.77           1,255            3.54           1,604            4.29           1,945
Recreational TAL........................................            8.34           3,785           13.89           6,298           22.14          10,044
Sector Transfer.........................................               0               0               0               0               0               0
Commercial Quota........................................            2.77           1,255            3.54           1,604            4.29           1,945
RHL.....................................................            8.34           3,785           13.89           6,298           22.14          10,044
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Specifications are derived from the ABC in metric tons (mt). When values are converted to millions of pounds the numbers may slightly shift due to
  rounding. The conversion factor used is 1 mt = 2204.6226 lb.

    Table 2 provides the proposed commercial state allocations based on 
the Council-recommended coastwide commercial quotas for 2022 and 2023, 
and the phased-in changes to the percent share allocations to the 
states specified in Amendment 7. No states exceeded their allocated 
quota in 2020, or are projected to do so in 2021; therefore, no 
accountability measures for the commercial fishery are required for the 
2022 fishing year at this time.

[[Page 68458]]



                                  Table 2--Proposed 2022 and Projected 2023 Bluefish State Commercial Quota Allocations
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          2022 (Proposed)                                2023 (Projected)
                          State                          -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Percent share    Quota (lb)      Quota (kg)     Percent share    Quota (lb)      Quota (kg)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Maine...................................................            0.59          20,819           9,443            0.51          21,807           9,892
New Hampshire...........................................            0.39          13,655           6,194            0.36          15,331           6,954
Massachusetts...........................................            7.20         254,748         115,552            7.69         329,578         149,494
Rhode Island............................................            7.21         254,956         115,646            7.61         326,165         147,946
Connecticut.............................................            1.24          43,885          19,906            1.22          52,094          23,629
New York................................................           11.72         414,693         188,102           13.06         560,031         254,026
New Jersey..............................................           14.68         519,158         235,486           14.54         623,295         282,722
Delaware................................................            1.68          59,442          26,962            1.48          63,572          28,836
Maryland................................................            2.85         100,698          45,676            2.69         115,409          52,349
Virginia................................................           11.02         389,802         176,811           10.16         435,625         197,596
North Carolina..........................................           32.06       1,133,855         514,308           32.05       1,374,077         623,271
South Carolina..........................................            0.04           1,590             721            0.05           2,344           1,063
Georgia.................................................            0.02             805             365            0.04           1,544             700
Florida.................................................            9.31         329,137         149,294            8.55         366,585         166,280
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................          100.00       3,537,096       1,604,400          100.01       4,287,109       1,944,600
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As previously mentioned, no changes to the recreational management 
measures are proposed in this action, as the expected recreational 
landings of 13.58 million lb (6,160 mt) under the existing measures are 
likely to achieve the proposed RHL. All other federal management 
measures would also remain unchanged under this action.
    The projected specifications for 2023 are based on the available 
data and the second year of the rebuilding plan model. However, there 
is a research track stock assessment scheduled for bluefish in 2022. 
The Council will review the projected 2023 specifications in light of 
any new information, including this assessment, to determine if changes 
need to be made prior to their implementation. NMFS will publish a 
notice prior to the 2023 fishing year to confirm these limits as 
projected or announce any necessary changes.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Atlantic Bluefish FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866 because it 
contains no implementing regulations.
    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 Council conducted an evaluation of the potential socioeconomic 
impacts of the proposed measures in conjunction with an EA. There are 
no proposed regulatory changes in this bluefish action, so none are 
considered in the evaluation. The proposed specifications would 
increase bluefish catch limits in both 2022 and 2023 compared to 2021 
to allow greater operational flexibility in the fishery, while still 
adhering to the rebuilding plan implemented by Amendment 7. This action 
would also incorporate the quota reallocation changes implemented by 
Amendment 7, allocating 86 percent of the ACL to the recreational 
sector and 14 percent to the commercial sector, as well as beginning 
the 7-year phased-in reallocation of commercial quota among the states 
in 2022.
    This action would affect entities that participate in commercial 
bluefish fishing (those that hold commercial bluefish permits), and 
those with federal for-hire (party/charter) recreational fishing 
permits for bluefish. Vessels may hold multiple fishing permits and 
some entities own multiple vessels and/or permits. According to the 
Northeast Fisheries Science Center commercial ownership database, 526 
affiliate firms landed bluefish during the 2018-2020 period (the most 
recent and complete data available), with 521 of those commercial 
entities categorized as small businesses and 5 categorized as large 
businesses. For the recreational for-hire fishery, 361 for-hire 
affiliate firms generated revenues from recreational fishing for 
various species during 2018-2020. All of those business affiliates are 
categorized as small businesses, but it is not possible to derive the 
proportion of overall revenues for these for-hire firms resulting from 
fishing activities for an individual species such as bluefish. 
Nevertheless, given the popularity of bluefish as a recreational 
species in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, it is likely that revenues 
generated from bluefish may be somewhat important for many of these 
firms at certain times of the year.
    Overall, proposed specifications for 2022 and projected 
specifications for 2023 are expected to provide similar fishing 
opportunities when compared to the 2021 fishing year. Although these 
catch limits are increasing, there are no proposed changes to other 
management measures, such as recreational bag limits, that are likely 
to change fishing behavior. Entities issued a commercial bluefish 
permit may experience a slight positive impact related to potentially 
higher landings throughout the course of the entire year. However, 
because state allocations are changing, there might be different 
amounts of quota available regionally compared to past years. Often, 
fishing behavior and short term landings are based on market 
conditions, which are not expected to substantially change as a result 
of these specifications. As such, the proposed action is not expected 
to have an impact on the way the fishery operates or the revenue of 
small entities. Overall, analyses indicate that the proposed 
specifications will not substantially change: Fishing effort, the risk 
of overfishing, prices/revenues, or fishery behavior. Additionally, 
this action will not have a significant impact on small entities. As a 
result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and 
none has been prepared.

[[Page 68459]]

    This action would not establish any new reporting or record-keeping 
requirements.
    This proposed rule contains no new information collection 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

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

    Dated: November 23, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-25901 Filed 12-1-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P