Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Grouper Commercial Quota Holdback in the Gulf of Mexico, 71392-71393 [2021-27249]

Download as PDF 71392 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 239 / Thursday, December 16, 2021 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 170413393–8487–02] RTID 0648–XB607 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Grouper Commercial Quota Holdback in the Gulf of Mexico National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; commercial quota holdback. AGENCY: NMFS issues this temporary rule to withhold a portion of the red grouper commercial allocation for the 2022 fishing year in anticipation of an upcoming rulemaking that would, among other measures, reduce the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) and annual catch target (ACT) through Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). This action would withhold the distribution of red grouper and gag multi-use individual fishing quota (IFQ) allocation on January 1, 2022, in the amount equal to the anticipated reduction in the allocation for shareholders in the groupers and tilefishes IFQ (GT–IFQ) program. DATES: This temporary rule is effective from 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2022, through 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 1, 2022. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: peter.hood@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish fishery, which includes red grouper, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) and is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The Council has submitted Amendment 53 to the FMP for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), Amendment 53 would modify the allocation of Gulf red grouper catch between the commercial and recreational sectors, specify a lower khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 15, 2021 Jkt 256001 overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch, and reduce both sectors’ ACLs and ACTs. The final rule for Amendment 53 is not expected to be effective until after January 1, 2022, but prior to June 1, 2022. With respect to the commercial ACL and ACT, Amendment 53 proposes to reduce the current commercial ACL from 3.16 million lb (1.43 million kg) to 2.53 million lb (1.15 million kg) and the current commercial ACT from 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg) to 2.40 million lb (1.09 million kg). Amendment 36A to the FMP addressed how to distribute allocation to IFQ shareholders in years in which there is an anticipated reduction of the commercial allocation (83 FR 27297; June 12, 2018). This situation would generally occur if the Council approved an action to reduce the commercial allocation for any IFQ species or multispecies share category but NMFS could not complete the associated rulemaking before January 1, the start of the fishing year. Under the GT–IFQ program, annual allocation is distributed to IFQ shareholders on January 1, and most IFQ program participants begin to use or transfer their allocation early in each year. After shareholders begin transferring or landing allocation, NMFS is not able to retroactively withdraw allocation from shareholder accounts if a commercial quota decrease became effective after the beginning of the fishing year. Thus, Amendment 36A and the regulations at 50 CFR 622.22(a)(4) allow NMFS to anticipate a decrease in the commercial allocation of GT–IFQ species or multi-species share categories after the start of a fishing year and withhold distribution of allocation equal to the amount of the expected decrease. NMFS would distribute the remaining portion of the annual allocation to shareholders on January 1. If the final rule to implement the associated commercial allocation reduction is not effective by June 1, 2022, then NMFS would distribute the withheld allocation back to the current shareholders, as determined on the date the withheld IFQ allocation is distributed. The Amendment 53 notice of availability published on December 9, 2021, and solicits public comments through February 7, 2021 (86 FR 70078, December 9, 2021). NMFS anticipates publishing a proposed rule to implement Amendment 53 shortly with a 30-day public comment period. NMFS must approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 53 by March 9, 2021 (16 U.S.C. 1854(a)). Therefore, to allow the catch limits in Amendment 53 to be effective for the 2022 fishing year, this temporary rule will withhold 0.60 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 million lb (0.27 million kg) from the commercial allocation of 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg) on January 1, 2022. In addition, this temporary rule will withhold 30,048 lb (13,630 kg) from the commercial gag multi-use allocation of 159,582 lb (72,385 kg) on January 1, 2022. The gag multi-use quota is calculated by the following equation: gag multi-use allocation = 100 * ((red grouper commercial ACL-red grouper commercial quota)) / (gag commercial quota) where the gag commercial quota is 939,000 lb (425,923 kg). If NMFS disapproves Amendment 53 or Amendment 53 is not implemented by June 1, 2022, NMFS will distribute withheld red grouper and gag multi-use IFQ allocation to current shareholders based on the date the withheld IFQ allocation is distributed. It is unnecessary to take any action with respect to the recreational ACL and ACT at this time because, if necessary, NMFS will constrain recreational landings to the applicable catch limit through a temporary rule during the 2022 fishing year to close the recreational sector. The analysis in Amendment 53 indicates that the earliest NMFS would expect to close the recreational sector would be the end of July 2022, with a closure most likely in November or December of 2022. Classification NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.22(a)(4), which was issued pursuant to section 304(b) of the MagnusonStevens Act, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866, and other applicable laws. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the regulation at 50 CFR 622.22(a)(4) has already has already been subject to notice and public comment, and the public is aware that NMFS is reviewing Amendment 53 for approval and implementation. Therefore, all that remains is to notify the public that a portion of the commercial Gulf red grouper and the gag multi-use IFQ allocation in 2022 will be withheld to allow for the implementation of E:\FR\FM\16DER1.SGM 16DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 239 / Thursday, December 16, 2021 / Rules and Regulations Amendment 53 in 2022, if approved. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because notice and comment would require delaying the reduction in the commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs specified in Amendment 53 until 2023. If NMFS does not withhold the necessary commercial red grouper and multi-use IFQ allocation, shareholders can begin transferring or landing allocation on January 1, 2022, and NMFS would not be able to retroactively withdraw allocation from shareholder accounts. Delaying implementation of Amendment 53 until 2023 would allow harvest in excess of the level supported by the best scientific information available and recommended by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee. For the aforementioned reasons, the NMFS Assistant Administrator also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 13, 2021. Ngagne Jafnar Gueye, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–27249 Filed 12–15–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 180117042–8884–02; RTID 0648–XB635] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota adjustment and closure of the Atlantic bluefin tuna General category December fishery for 2021. AGENCY: NMFS adjusts the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category December 2021 subquota by adding 15.5 metric tons (mt) of quota remaining from the September and October through November subquotas resulting in a total adjusted December subquota of 54.6 mt and simultaneously closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 centimeters)) curved fork length or greater) BFT for the December khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 15, 2021 Jkt 256001 subquota time period, and thus for the remainder of 2021. This action applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. DATES: The quota adjustment is effective December 13, 2021, through December 31, 2021. The closure is effective 11:30 p.m., local time, December 14, 2021, through December 31, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Redd, Jr., larry.redd@noaa.gov, 301–427–8503, Nicholas Velseboer, nicholas.velsboer@noaa.gov, 978–281– 9260, or Thomas Warren, thomas.warren@noaa.gov, 978–281– 9347. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Atlantic HMS fisheries, including BFT fisheries, are managed under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 divides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and as implemented by the United States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. NMFS is required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest quotas under relevant international fishery agreements such as the ICCAT Convention, which is implemented domestically pursuant to ATCA. Under § 635.28(a)(1), NMFS files a closure action with the Office of the Federal Register for publication when a BFT quota (or subquota) is reached or is projected to be reached. Retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under that quota category is prohibited on or after the effective date and time of a closure notice for that category until the opening of the relevant subsequent quota period or until such date as specified. The 2021 baseline quota for the General category is 555.7 mt. The General category baseline subquota for the December time period is 28.9 mt. Effective January 1, 2021, NMFS transferred 19.5 mt of BFT quota from the December 2021 subquota timeperiod to the January through March PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 71393 2021 subquota time-period resulting in an adjusted subquota of 9.4 mt for the December 2021 time period (85 FR 83832, December 23, 2020). NMFS recently transferred 9.5 mt of Reserve category and 20.2 mt from the Harpoon category to the General category resulting in an adjusted December subquota of 39.1 mt (86 FR 66975, November 24, 2021). Based on landings data received to date, NMFS has determined that the adjusted September and October through November time period subquotas were underharvested by 10.7 mt and 4.8 mt, respectively. Thus, 15.5 mt remains available from previous time periods. Quota Adjustment Under § 635.27(a)(1)(ii), NMFS has the authority to adjust each period’s apportionment based on overharvest or underharvest in the prior period, after considering determination criteria provided under § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to this inseason quota adjustment. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by tuna dealers provide NMFS with valuable parts and data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT in the General category would support the continued collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes. NMFS also considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last several years) and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). To date, preliminary landings data indicate that the General category September fishery landed 196.6 mt of the adjusted 207.3 mt subquota (86 FR 51016, September 14, 2021) before closing, resulting in an underharvest of 10.7 mt (207.3 mt—196.6 mt = 10.7 mt) and the October through November fishery landed 207.4 mt of the adjusted 212.2 mt subquota (86 FR 54873, October 5, 2021) by the end of the October through November time period, resulting in an underharvest of 4.8 mt (212.2 mt—207.4 mt = 4.8 mt). Adjusting the December 2021 subquota by adding the September E:\FR\FM\16DER1.SGM 16DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 239 (Thursday, December 16, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 71392-71393]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-27249]



[[Page 71392]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 170413393-8487-02]
RTID 0648-XB607


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Red Grouper Commercial Quota 
Holdback in the Gulf of Mexico

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; commercial quota holdback.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this temporary rule to withhold a portion of the 
red grouper commercial allocation for the 2022 fishing year in 
anticipation of an upcoming rulemaking that would, among other 
measures, reduce the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) and annual 
catch target (ACT) through Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan 
for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). This action 
would withhold the distribution of red grouper and gag multi-use 
individual fishing quota (IFQ) allocation on January 1, 2022, in the 
amount equal to the anticipated reduction in the allocation for 
shareholders in the groupers and tilefishes IFQ (GT-IFQ) program.

DATES: This temporary rule is effective from 12:01 a.m., local time, on 
January 1, 2022, through 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 1, 2022.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish fishery, 
which includes red grouper, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was 
prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) and 
is implemented by NMFS through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    The Council has submitted Amendment 53 to the FMP for review, 
approval, and implementation by NMFS. If approved by the Secretary of 
Commerce (Secretary), Amendment 53 would modify the allocation of Gulf 
red grouper catch between the commercial and recreational sectors, 
specify a lower overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch, and 
reduce both sectors' ACLs and ACTs. The final rule for Amendment 53 is 
not expected to be effective until after January 1, 2022, but prior to 
June 1, 2022. With respect to the commercial ACL and ACT, Amendment 53 
proposes to reduce the current commercial ACL from 3.16 million lb 
(1.43 million kg) to 2.53 million lb (1.15 million kg) and the current 
commercial ACT from 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg) to 2.40 million 
lb (1.09 million kg).
    Amendment 36A to the FMP addressed how to distribute allocation to 
IFQ shareholders in years in which there is an anticipated reduction of 
the commercial allocation (83 FR 27297; June 12, 2018). This situation 
would generally occur if the Council approved an action to reduce the 
commercial allocation for any IFQ species or multi-species share 
category but NMFS could not complete the associated rulemaking before 
January 1, the start of the fishing year. Under the GT-IFQ program, 
annual allocation is distributed to IFQ shareholders on January 1, and 
most IFQ program participants begin to use or transfer their allocation 
early in each year. After shareholders begin transferring or landing 
allocation, NMFS is not able to retroactively withdraw allocation from 
shareholder accounts if a commercial quota decrease became effective 
after the beginning of the fishing year. Thus, Amendment 36A and the 
regulations at 50 CFR 622.22(a)(4) allow NMFS to anticipate a decrease 
in the commercial allocation of GT-IFQ species or multi-species share 
categories after the start of a fishing year and withhold distribution 
of allocation equal to the amount of the expected decrease. NMFS would 
distribute the remaining portion of the annual allocation to 
shareholders on January 1. If the final rule to implement the 
associated commercial allocation reduction is not effective by June 1, 
2022, then NMFS would distribute the withheld allocation back to the 
current shareholders, as determined on the date the withheld IFQ 
allocation is distributed.
    The Amendment 53 notice of availability published on December 9, 
2021, and solicits public comments through February 7, 2021 (86 FR 
70078, December 9, 2021). NMFS anticipates publishing a proposed rule 
to implement Amendment 53 shortly with a 30-day public comment period. 
NMFS must approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 53 by 
March 9, 2021 (16 U.S.C. 1854(a)). Therefore, to allow the catch limits 
in Amendment 53 to be effective for the 2022 fishing year, this 
temporary rule will withhold 0.60 million lb (0.27 million kg) from the 
commercial allocation of 3.00 million lb (1.36 million kg) on January 
1, 2022. In addition, this temporary rule will withhold 30,048 lb 
(13,630 kg) from the commercial gag multi-use allocation of 159,582 lb 
(72,385 kg) on January 1, 2022. The gag multi-use quota is calculated 
by the following equation:

gag multi-use allocation = 100 * ((red grouper commercial ACL-red 
grouper commercial quota)) / (gag commercial quota)

where the gag commercial quota is 939,000 lb (425,923 kg). If NMFS 
disapproves Amendment 53 or Amendment 53 is not implemented by June 1, 
2022, NMFS will distribute withheld red grouper and gag multi-use IFQ 
allocation to current shareholders based on the date the withheld IFQ 
allocation is distributed.
    It is unnecessary to take any action with respect to the 
recreational ACL and ACT at this time because, if necessary, NMFS will 
constrain recreational landings to the applicable catch limit through a 
temporary rule during the 2022 fishing year to close the recreational 
sector. The analysis in Amendment 53 indicates that the earliest NMFS 
would expect to close the recreational sector would be the end of July 
2022, with a closure most likely in November or December of 2022.

Classification

    NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.22(a)(4), which was 
issued pursuant to section 304(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866, and other applicable 
laws.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice 
and comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such 
procedures are unnecessary because the regulation at 50 CFR 
622.22(a)(4) has already has already been subject to notice and public 
comment, and the public is aware that NMFS is reviewing Amendment 53 
for approval and implementation. Therefore, all that remains is to 
notify the public that a portion of the commercial Gulf red grouper and 
the gag multi-use IFQ allocation in 2022 will be withheld to allow for 
the implementation of

[[Page 71393]]

Amendment 53 in 2022, if approved. Such procedures are contrary to the 
public interest because notice and comment would require delaying the 
reduction in the commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs specified in 
Amendment 53 until 2023. If NMFS does not withhold the necessary 
commercial red grouper and multi-use IFQ allocation, shareholders can 
begin transferring or landing allocation on January 1, 2022, and NMFS 
would not be able to retroactively withdraw allocation from shareholder 
accounts. Delaying implementation of Amendment 53 until 2023 would 
allow harvest in excess of the level supported by the best scientific 
information available and recommended by the Council's Scientific and 
Statistical Committee.
    For the aforementioned reasons, the NMFS Assistant Administrator 
also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of 
this action under 5 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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

    Dated: December 13, 2021.
Ngagne Jafnar Gueye,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-27249 Filed 12-15-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P