Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Lane Snapper Management Measures, 72854-72857 [2021-27752]

Download as PDF 72854 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531–1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or Tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $170 million (which is the value equivalent of $100 million in 1995, adjusted for inflation to 2020 levels) or more in any one year. Though this rulemaking would not result in such an expenditure, the Agency does discuss the effects of this rulemaking elsewhere in this preamble. F. Paperwork Reduction Act This rulemaking contains no new information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501–3520). G. E.O. 13132 (Federalism) A rule has implications for federalism under Section 1(a) of E.O. 13132 if it has ‘‘substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.’’ FMCSA has determined that this rulemaking does not have substantial direct costs on or for States, nor does it limit the policymaking discretion of States. Nothing in this document preempts any State law or regulation. Therefore, this rulemaking does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Impact Statement. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 H. Privacy The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005,5 requires the Agency to conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) of a regulation that will affect the privacy of individuals. This rulemaking does not require the collection of personally identifiable information, and therefore a PIA is not necessary. I. E.O. 13175 (Indian Tribal Governments) This rulemaking does not have Tribal implications under E.O. 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and 5 Public Law 108–447, 118 Stat. 2809, 3268, 5 U.S.C. 552a note (Dec. 8, 2004). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes. J. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 FMCSA analyzed this rulemaking for the purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and determined this action is categorically excluded from further analysis and documentation in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under FMCSA Order 5610.1 (69 FR 9680, March 1, 2004), Appendix 2, paragraph 6(b). This Categorical Exclusion (CE) covers minor revisions to regulations. The requirements in this rulemaking are covered by this CE, and the rulemaking does not have any effect on the quality of the environment. List of Subjects in 49 CFR 385 Administrative practice and procedure, Highway safety, Incorporation by reference, Mexico, Motor carriers, Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. In consideration of the foregoing, FMCSA amends 49 CFR chapter III, part 385, as set forth below: PART 385—SAFETY FITNESS PROCEDURES 1. The authority citation for part 385 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 113, 504, 521(b), 5105(d), 5109, 5113, 13901–13905, 13908, 31135, 31136, 31144, 31148, 31151, 31502; sec. 113(a), Pub. L. 103–311, 108 Stat. 1673, 1676; sec. 408, Pub. L. 104–88, 109 Stat. 803, 958; sec. 350, Pub. L. 107–87, 115 Stat. 833, 864; sec. 5205, Pub. L. 114–94, 129 Stat. 1312, 1537; and 49 CFR 1.87. 2. Revise § 385.4(b)(1) to read as follows: ■ § 385.4 Matter incorporated by reference. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) ‘‘North American Standard Out-ofService Criteria and Level VI Inspection Procedures and Out-of-Service Criteria for Commercial Highway Vehicles Transporting Transuranics and Highway Route Controlled Quantities of Radioactive Materials as defined in 49 CFR part 173.403,’’ April 1, 2021, incorporation by reference approved for § 385.415(b). * * * * * Issued under authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.87. Meera Joshi, Deputy Administrator. [FR Doc. 2021–27851 Filed 12–22–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 211217–0261] RIN 0648–BK36 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Lane Snapper Management Measures National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule modifies catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for lane snapper. The purpose of this final rule and the framework action is to modify the annual catch limit (ACL), to revise an accountability measure (AM), and to achieve optimum yield (OY) for the stock while preventing overfishing. This final rule also makes minor administrative changes to replace outdated NMFS website addresses and language about required software for the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) programs. Additionally, this final rule reopens the harvest of lane snapper for the commercial and recreational sectors as a result of the ACL increase. DATES: This final rule is effective January 24, 2022, except for amendment number 6 to § 622.41(k), which is effective on December 23, 2021. The lane snapper commercial and recreational sectors will reopen effective 12:01 a.m., local time, December 23, 2021, until the end of the current fishing year, December 31, 2021. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an environmental assessment, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ framework-action-implementmodification-gulf-mexico-lane-snappercatch-limits-and. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Luers, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: daniel.luers@noaa.gov. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes lane snapper, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On October 18, 2021, NMFS published a proposed rule for the framework action and administrative changes to the IFQ Program and requested public comment (86 FR 57629). The proposed rule and the framework action outline the rationale for the actions regarding Gulf lane snapper contained in this final rule, which is unchanged from the proposed rule. A summary of the management measures described in the framework action, as well as management measures not contained in the framework action, and implemented by this final rule is described below. All weights in the final rule are described in round weight, unless otherwise noted. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and to achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. Lane snapper in the Gulf EEZ are managed as a single stock with a stock ACL of 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) that has not changed since implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044; December 29, 2011). This stock ACL is based on average landings from 1999 through 2008. The fishing year is January 1 through December 31, each year. In 2019, in response to landings data that indicated lane snapper experienced overfishing in 2017 and exceeded its ACL in 2018, the Council requested that the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center provide an updated, interim analysis on the lane snapper stock to include landings data from 2015–2018. However, the updated analysis used recreational catch estimate values that were calculated using effort and landings information from the previous Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) and the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey. The CHTS has since been replaced by the newer MRIP Fishing Effort Survey (FES). Thus, as requested by the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), an updated analysis was provided in 2020 (SEDAR 49 Update [2020]) that converted the recreational data used to calculate the estimated catch limits for lane snapper to values directly comparable to those collected through MRIP–FES. The conversion to MRIP–FES values resulted in an approximate doubling of recreational catch and effort estimates. Thus, based on the results of the SEDAR 49 Update (2020) and the conversion to MRIP–FES, the SSC recommended increasing the overfishing limit from 358,000 lb (162,386 kg) to 1,053,834 lb (478,011 kg), and increasing the acceptable biological catch (ABC) from 301,000 lb (135,531 kg) to 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg). In the framework action, the Council adopted the SSC’s recommendations. Despite landings exceeding the lane snapper ACL each year from 2016 through 2020, NMFS closed the harvest of lane snapper only once, in 2019, under the current AM, which requires a closure when the ACL is met or projected to be met during the year following an ACL overage (84 FR 68058; December 13, 2019). Therefore, the Council is modifying the AM in this final rule to require an in-season closure in any year during which NMFS projects that the ACL is met. In the 2020 fishing year, lane snapper landings exceeded the stock ACL by 57,638 lb (26,144 kg). Therefore, consistent with the current AM, NMFS monitored landings in 2021 and closed the harvest of lane snapper on October 18, 2021, after determining that the ACL would be reached by that date (86 FR 54657; October 4, 2021). The ACL increase implemented through this final rule will allow NMFS to reopen harvest of lane snapper until the end of the current fishing year, December 31, 2021. Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule This final rule modifies the ACL for the Gulf lane snapper stock. It also modifies the AM to require NMFS to implement a closure during the current fishing year if landings meet or are projected to meet the revised ACL. Annual Catch Limit This final rule increases the lane snapper stock ACL from 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) to 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg). Accountability Measure This final rule modifies the AM such that if annual landings in a given year reach or are projected to reach the revised ACL, NMFS will implement a PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 72855 seasonal closure to prohibit harvest of lane snapper by the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. Measures Codified in This Final Rule Not in the Framework Action In addition to the other measures contained in the framework action and as explained in the proposed rule, this final rule also corrects the NMFS Southeast Regional Office website address in the two sections of the regulations that specify permit requirements and make several administrative changes to NMFS’s IFQ Program regulations. Comments and Responses NMFS received a total of 21 comments on the proposed rule for the framework action. NMFS acknowledges the comments in favor of the actions in the proposed rule and agrees with them. Some comments suggested changes to lane snapper management measures that were outside the scope of the proposed rule and framework action, such as increasing the minimum size limit, or implementing sector allocations. These comments are not addressed further in this final rule. Specific comments related to the proposed rule and the framework action are grouped by topic and addressed below. Comment 1: NMFS should increase the lane snapper ACL but not as much as proposed. Response: NMFS disagrees that the ACL should not be increased as much as proposed. As explained previously, the current ACL of 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) has been in effect since 2012, and is based on average landings from 1999 through 2008. The ACL implemented through this final rule is based on new information provided in the SEDAR 49 Update (2020), which indicated that the Gulf lane snapper stock size had increased and includes the MRIP–FES data. The conversion to MRIP–FES data accounts for approximately half of the increase in the ACL. Thus, after the conversion, the increase implemented in this action is slightly less than a doubling of the current catch limits. The increase in the stock ACL is also consistent with the Council’s SSC recommended ABC. Comment 2: NMFS should not implement an increase in the Gulf lane snapper ACL because lane snapper is not prevalent in some areas, the stock is just starting to improve its health, and NMFS was required to close harvest of lane snapper in in October 2021. Response: NMFS, in collaboration with the Council, made decisions on the lane snapper catch limits based on the E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 72856 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations most recent data on the stock status. Although the population of lane snapper in certain areas may not appear to have increased, NMFS has determined that the stock size of lane snapper has increased substantially Gulf-wide. The increase in the stock ACL for lane snapper is consistent with the result of the SEDAR 49 Update (2020), which is the best scientific information available, and the recommendation of the Council’s SSC. The inseason closure of Gulf lane snapper in October 2021 was based on the stock ACL in place prior to the publication of this final rule, not on any change in the stock’s status. The increase in the ACL implemented through this final rule is based updated information on the size of the Gulf lane snapper stock and allows NMFS to reopen harvest to the commercial and recreational sectors through the end of the current fishing year. Therefore, NMFS disagrees that the recent inseason closure provides a basis to reject the increase in ACL recommended by the Council. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 Reopening of the Lane Snapper Commercial and Recreational Sectors for the 2021 Fishing Year For Gulf lane snapper, the stock ACL of 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) has been used for stock management prior to the implementation of this rule. Also, the AM effective prior to the publication of this final rule, as specified in 50 CFR 622.41(k), stated that if the sum of the commercial and recreational lane snapper landings exceeds the stock ACL during a fishing year, then during the following fishing year, if the sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, NMFS is required to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. In the 2020 fishing year, lane snapper landings exceeded the stock ACL by 57,638 lb (26,144 kg). For the 2021 fishing year, NMFS determined that the ACL in place at the time would be reached by October 18, 2021, and published a temporary rule that closed the fishing season for lane snapper in the Gulf EEZ through December 31, 2021 (86 FR 54657; October 4, 2021). The new ACL of 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg) implemented through this final rule, is effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Therefore, in accordance with 50 CFR 622.8(c), NMFS reopens the Gulf lane snapper fishing season through December 31, 2021, to provide the opportunity for commercial and recreational fishers to harvest the new stock ACL. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the framework action, the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. NMFS issues the reopening pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. That action is taken under 50 CFR 622.8(c), which was issued pursuant to section 304(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the action to reopen harvest of lane snapper, as notice and comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the regulation at 50 CFR 622.8(c) has already been subject to notice and public comment, and all that remains is to notify the public that additional harvest of lane snapper is available under the new ACL, and therefore, that the commercial and recreational sectors will reopen. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because the fishing year ends on December 31, 2021, and notice and comment would not allow harvest to reopen before that time, which would reduce the social and economic benefits of this rule and the ability to achieve OY. NMFS also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date for these regulations because delaying implementation of the ACL increase and reopening is contrary to the public interest. A delay in effectiveness is contrary to the public interest because it would not allow additional harvest before the end of 2021. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the legal basis for this final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified. In addition, no new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule. This final rule contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. A description of this final rule, why it is being considered, and the purposes of this final rule are contained in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of this final rule. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that the modifications to the lane snapper ACL and AM, and administrative changes to NMFS’s IFQ Program regulations would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622 Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Individual fishing quota, Lane snapper, Quota, Reef fish. Dated: December 17, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended as follows: PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.4, revise the fifth sentence in paragraph (g)(1) to read as follows: ■ § 622.4 Permits and fees—general. * * * * * (g) * * * (1) * * * Application forms and instructions for renewal are available online at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/ resources-fishing/permits-applicationsand-forms-southeast or from the RA (Southeast Permits Office) at 1–877– 376–4877, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., eastern time. * * * * * * * * ■ 3. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.20, revise the third sentence in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows: § 622.20 Permits and endorsements. (a) * * * (1) * * * (ii) * * * The application form and instructions are available online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/ southeast/resources-fishing/permitsapplications-and-forms-southeast. * * * * * * * * E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 244 / Thursday, December 23, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 4. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.21: ■ a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i); ■ b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and ■ c. Revise the first sentence in paragraphs (b)(11)(i) and (b)(11)(ii)(A) introductory text. The revisions read as follows: ■ § 622.21 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf red snapper. (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. * * * * * * * * (b) * * * (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for Gulf red snapper as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the NMFS IFQ website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov/, may establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted vessel. * * * * * * * * (11) * * * (i) * * * A current participant in the red snapper IFQ program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. * * * (ii) * * * (A) To establish an IFQ account, a person must first complete the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov. * * * * * * * * ■ 5. Effective January 24, 2022, in § 622.22: ■ a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i); ■ b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and ■ c. Revise the first sentence in paragraph (b)(11)(i). The revisions read as follows: jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 § 622.22 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. (a) * * * (3) * * * (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. * * * * * * * * (b) * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:16 Dec 22, 2021 Jkt 256001 (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for the applicable species, as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the NMFS IFQ website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, may establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted vessel. * * * * * * * * (11) * * * (i) A current participant in the Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https:// secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. * * * * * * * * ■ 6. Effective December 23, 2021, in § 622.41, revise paragraph (k) to read as follows: § 622.41 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs). * * * * * (k) Lane snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, as specified in this paragraph (k), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. The stock ACL for lane snapper is 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg), round weight. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–27752 Filed 12–22–21; 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–XB640] Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS is transferring 19.5 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the 28.9-mt General category December 2022 subquota to the January through March 2022 subquota SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 72857 period. The adjusted General category January through March 2022 subquota is 49 mt. NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens January 1, 2022, the daily retention limit will be one large medium or giant bluefin tuna (i.e., measuring 73 inches (185 cm) curved fork length or greater) per vessel per day/trip. This action is intended to provide further opportunities for General category fishermen to participate in the January through March General category fishery, based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic Tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels with a commercial sale endorsement when fishing commercially for BFT. Effective January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022. DATES: 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. 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. The baseline General category quota is 555.7 mt. The General category baseline subquota for the January through March time-period is 29.5 mt. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\23DER1.SGM 23DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 244 (Thursday, December 23, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 72854-72857]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-27752]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 211217-0261]
RIN 0648-BK36


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

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues regulations to implement management measures 
described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plan for the 
Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the 
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule 
modifies catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ) for lane snapper. The purpose of this final rule and the 
framework action is to modify the annual catch limit (ACL), to revise 
an accountability measure (AM), and to achieve optimum yield (OY) for 
the stock while preventing overfishing. This final rule also makes 
minor administrative changes to replace outdated NMFS website addresses 
and language about required software for the Individual Fishing Quota 
(IFQ) programs. Additionally, this final rule reopens the harvest of 
lane snapper for the commercial and recreational sectors as a result of 
the ACL increase.

DATES: This final rule is effective January 24, 2022, except for 
amendment number 6 to Sec.  622.41(k), which is effective on December 
23, 2021.
    The lane snapper commercial and recreational sectors will reopen 
effective 12:01 a.m., local time, December 23, 2021, until the end of 
the current fishing year, December 31, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the framework action, which includes an 
environmental assessment, and a regulatory impact review, may be 
obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-action-implement-modification-gulf-mexico-lane-snapper-catch-limits-and.

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

[[Page 72855]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef 
fish fishery, which includes lane snapper, under the FMP. The Council 
prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 
CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On October 18, 2021, NMFS published a proposed rule for the 
framework action and administrative changes to the IFQ Program and 
requested public comment (86 FR 57629). The proposed rule and the 
framework action outline the rationale for the actions regarding Gulf 
lane snapper contained in this final rule, which is unchanged from the 
proposed rule. A summary of the management measures described in the 
framework action, as well as management measures not contained in the 
framework action, and implemented by this final rule is described 
below. All weights in the final rule are described in round weight, 
unless otherwise noted.

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and to achieve, on a 
continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks to ensure 
that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to 
the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and 
recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems.
    Lane snapper in the Gulf EEZ are managed as a single stock with a 
stock ACL of 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) that has not changed since 
implemented in 2012 (76 FR 82044; December 29, 2011). This stock ACL is 
based on average landings from 1999 through 2008. The fishing year is 
January 1 through December 31, each year.
    In 2019, in response to landings data that indicated lane snapper 
experienced overfishing in 2017 and exceeded its ACL in 2018, the 
Council requested that the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center 
provide an updated, interim analysis on the lane snapper stock to 
include landings data from 2015-2018. However, the updated analysis 
used recreational catch estimate values that were calculated using 
effort and landings information from the previous Marine Recreational 
Information Program (MRIP) Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) 
and the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey. The CHTS has since been 
replaced by the newer MRIP Fishing Effort Survey (FES). Thus, as 
requested by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), 
an updated analysis was provided in 2020 (SEDAR 49 Update [2020]) that 
converted the recreational data used to calculate the estimated catch 
limits for lane snapper to values directly comparable to those 
collected through MRIP-FES.
    The conversion to MRIP-FES values resulted in an approximate 
doubling of recreational catch and effort estimates. Thus, based on the 
results of the SEDAR 49 Update (2020) and the conversion to MRIP-FES, 
the SSC recommended increasing the overfishing limit from 358,000 lb 
(162,386 kg) to 1,053,834 lb (478,011 kg), and increasing the 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) from 301,000 lb (135,531 kg) to 
1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg). In the framework action, the Council adopted 
the SSC's recommendations.
    Despite landings exceeding the lane snapper ACL each year from 2016 
through 2020, NMFS closed the harvest of lane snapper only once, in 
2019, under the current AM, which requires a closure when the ACL is 
met or projected to be met during the year following an ACL overage (84 
FR 68058; December 13, 2019). Therefore, the Council is modifying the 
AM in this final rule to require an in-season closure in any year 
during which NMFS projects that the ACL is met.
    In the 2020 fishing year, lane snapper landings exceeded the stock 
ACL by 57,638 lb (26,144 kg). Therefore, consistent with the current 
AM, NMFS monitored landings in 2021 and closed the harvest of lane 
snapper on October 18, 2021, after determining that the ACL would be 
reached by that date (86 FR 54657; October 4, 2021). The ACL increase 
implemented through this final rule will allow NMFS to reopen harvest 
of lane snapper until the end of the current fishing year, December 31, 
2021.

Management Measures Contained in This Final Rule

    This final rule modifies the ACL for the Gulf lane snapper stock. 
It also modifies the AM to require NMFS to implement a closure during 
the current fishing year if landings meet or are projected to meet the 
revised ACL.[FEDREG][VOL]*[/VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/
DATE][RULES][RULE][PREAMB][AGENCY]*[/AGENCY][SUBJECT]*[/SUBJECT][/
PREAMB][SUPLINF][HED]*[/HED]

Annual Catch Limit

    This final rule increases the lane snapper stock ACL from 301,000 
lb (136,531 kg) to 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg).

Accountability Measure

    This final rule modifies the AM such that if annual landings in a 
given year reach or are projected to reach the revised ACL, NMFS will 
implement a seasonal closure to prohibit harvest of lane snapper by the 
commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing 
year.

Measures Codified in This Final Rule Not in the Framework Action

    In addition to the other measures contained in the framework action 
and as explained in the proposed rule, this final rule also corrects 
the NMFS Southeast Regional Office website address in the two sections 
of the regulations that specify permit requirements and make several 
administrative changes to NMFS's IFQ Program regulations.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received a total of 21 comments on the proposed rule for the 
framework action. NMFS acknowledges the comments in favor of the 
actions in the proposed rule and agrees with them. Some comments 
suggested changes to lane snapper management measures that were outside 
the scope of the proposed rule and framework action, such as increasing 
the minimum size limit, or implementing sector allocations. These 
comments are not addressed further in this final rule. Specific 
comments related to the proposed rule and the framework action are 
grouped by topic and addressed below.
    Comment 1: NMFS should increase the lane snapper ACL but not as 
much as proposed.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that the ACL should not be increased as 
much as proposed. As explained previously, the current ACL of 301,000 
lb (136,531 kg) has been in effect since 2012, and is based on average 
landings from 1999 through 2008. The ACL implemented through this final 
rule is based on new information provided in the SEDAR 49 Update 
(2020), which indicated that the Gulf lane snapper stock size had 
increased and includes the MRIP-FES data. The conversion to MRIP-FES 
data accounts for approximately half of the increase in the ACL. Thus, 
after the conversion, the increase implemented in this action is 
slightly less than a doubling of the current catch limits. The increase 
in the stock ACL is also consistent with the Council's SSC recommended 
ABC.
    Comment 2: NMFS should not implement an increase in the Gulf lane 
snapper ACL because lane snapper is not prevalent in some areas, the 
stock is just starting to improve its health, and NMFS was required to 
close harvest of lane snapper in in October 2021.
    Response: NMFS, in collaboration with the Council, made decisions 
on the lane snapper catch limits based on the

[[Page 72856]]

most recent data on the stock status. Although the population of lane 
snapper in certain areas may not appear to have increased, NMFS has 
determined that the stock size of lane snapper has increased 
substantially Gulf-wide. The increase in the stock ACL for lane snapper 
is consistent with the result of the SEDAR 49 Update (2020), which is 
the best scientific information available, and the recommendation of 
the Council's SSC.
    The inseason closure of Gulf lane snapper in October 2021 was based 
on the stock ACL in place prior to the publication of this final rule, 
not on any change in the stock's status. The increase in the ACL 
implemented through this final rule is based updated information on the 
size of the Gulf lane snapper stock and allows NMFS to reopen harvest 
to the commercial and recreational sectors through the end of the 
current fishing year. Therefore, NMFS disagrees that the recent 
inseason closure provides a basis to reject the increase in ACL 
recommended by the Council.

Reopening of the Lane Snapper Commercial and Recreational Sectors for 
the 2021 Fishing Year

    For Gulf lane snapper, the stock ACL of 301,000 lb (136,531 kg) has 
been used for stock management prior to the implementation of this 
rule. Also, the AM effective prior to the publication of this final 
rule, as specified in 50 CFR 622.41(k), stated that if the sum of the 
commercial and recreational lane snapper landings exceeds the stock ACL 
during a fishing year, then during the following fishing year, if the 
sum of commercial and recreational landings reaches or is projected to 
reach the stock ACL, NMFS is required to close the commercial and 
recreational sectors for the remainder of that fishing year. In the 
2020 fishing year, lane snapper landings exceeded the stock ACL by 
57,638 lb (26,144 kg). For the 2021 fishing year, NMFS determined that 
the ACL in place at the time would be reached by October 18, 2021, and 
published a temporary rule that closed the fishing season for lane 
snapper in the Gulf EEZ through December 31, 2021 (86 FR 54657; October 
4, 2021).
    The new ACL of 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg) implemented through this 
final rule, is effective upon publication in the Federal Register. 
Therefore, in accordance with 50 CFR 622.8(c), NMFS reopens the Gulf 
lane snapper fishing season through December 31, 2021, to provide the 
opportunity for commercial and recreational fishers to harvest the new 
stock ACL.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the framework action, the FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. NMFS issues the 
reopening pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. That 
action is taken under 50 CFR 622.8(c), which was issued pursuant to 
section 304(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    NMFS finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior 
notice and an opportunity for public comment on the action to reopen 
harvest of lane snapper, as notice and comment is unnecessary and 
contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary 
because the regulation at 50 CFR 622.8(c) has already been subject to 
notice and public comment, and all that remains is to notify the public 
that additional harvest of lane snapper is available under the new ACL, 
and therefore, that the commercial and recreational sectors will 
reopen. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because the 
fishing year ends on December 31, 2021, and notice and comment would 
not allow harvest to reopen before that time, which would reduce the 
social and economic benefits of this rule and the ability to achieve 
OY.
    NMFS also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 
30-day delay in the effective date for these regulations because 
delaying implementation of the ACL increase and reopening is contrary 
to the public interest. A delay in effectiveness is contrary to the 
public interest because it would not allow additional harvest before 
the end of 2021.[FEDREG][VOL]*[/VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/
DATE][RULES][RULE][PREAMB][AGENCY]*[/AGENCY][SUBJECT]*[/SUBJECT][/
PREAMB][SUPLINF][HED]*[/HED]
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the legal basis for this final 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified. In addition, no new reporting, record-keeping, or 
other compliance requirements are introduced by this final rule. This 
final rule contains no information collection requirements under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. A description of this final rule, why 
it is being considered, and the purposes of this final rule are 
contained in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of this final 
rule.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that the modifications to 
the lane snapper ACL and AM, and administrative changes to NMFS's IFQ 
Program regulations would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the 
certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated 
here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a 
result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was 
prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Individual fishing 
quota, Lane snapper, Quota, Reef fish.

    Dated: December 17, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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


0
2. Effective January 24, 2022, in Sec.  622.4, revise the fifth 
sentence in paragraph (g)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.4  Permits and fees--general.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * * Application forms and instructions for renewal are 
available online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/resources-fishing/permits-applications-and-forms-southeast or from the RA 
(Southeast Permits Office) at 1-877-376-4877, Monday through Friday 
between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., eastern time. * * *
* * * * *

0
3. Effective January 24, 2022, in Sec.  622.20, revise the third 
sentence in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.20  Permits and endorsements.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) * * * The application form and instructions are available 
online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/resources-fishing/permits-applications-and-forms-southeast. * * *
* * * * *

[[Page 72857]]


0
4. Effective January 24, 2022, in Sec.  622.21:
0
a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i);
0
b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and
0
c. Revise the first sentence in paragraphs (b)(11)(i) and 
(b)(11)(ii)(A) introductory text.
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  622.21  Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf red 
snapper.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser 
software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. 
* * *
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for 
Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for Gulf red snapper 
as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the 
NMFS IFQ website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov/, may 
establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted 
vessel. * * *
* * * * *
    (11) * * *
    (i) * * * A current participant in the red snapper IFQ program must 
complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is 
available on the website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to 
certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) To establish an IFQ account, a person must first complete the 
application for an IFQ Account that is available on the website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov. * * *
* * * * *

0
5. Effective January 24, 2022, in Sec.  622.22:
0
a. Revise the second sentence in paragraph (a)(3)(i);
0
b. Revise the third sentence in paragraph (b)(1); and
0
c. Revise the first sentence in paragraph (b)(11)(i).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  622.22  Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers 
and tilefishes.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *[FEDREG][VOL]*[/VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/
DATE][RULES][RULE][PREAMB][AGENCY]*[/AGENCY][SUBJECT]*[/SUBJECT][/
PREAMB][SUPLINF][HED]*[/HED]
    (i) * * * The computer must have current, up-to-date browser 
software installed, which may be downloaded from the internet for free. 
* * *
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * * An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for 
Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for the applicable 
species, as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online 
via the NMFS IFQ website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, may 
establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted 
vessel. * * *
* * * * *
    (11) * * *
    (i) A current participant in the Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ 
program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account 
that is available on the website https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen 
or permanent resident alien. * * *
* * * * *

0
6. Effective December 23, 2021, in Sec.  622.41, revise paragraph (k) 
to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (k) Lane snapper. If the sum of the commercial and recreational 
landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the 
stock ACL, as specified in this paragraph (k), the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the 
commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing 
year. The stock ACL for lane snapper is 1,028,973 lb (466,734 kg), 
round weight.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2021-27752 Filed 12-22-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P[FEDREG][VOL]*[/VOL][NO]*[/NO][DATE]*[/
DATE][RULES]