Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permit, 74404-74406 [2021-28352]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 74404 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 248 / Thursday, December 30, 2021 / Notices financial, and technical assistance to MBEs in rural areas? 5. Are there examples or success stories from organizations that provide services to MBEs in rural areas? 6. How should MBDA measure success for rural business centers? 7. What specific performance metrics should MBDA consider for rural business centers that would measure service to rural businesses? 8. What factors should be measured to demonstrate elements of success from the perspective of organizations that support, or customers served by rural businesses? 9. What is the most effective role for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to foster the establishment and growth of MBEs in rural America and how should that impact be measured? 10. How many MSIs have degree and/ or academic programs focused on business-related topics (e.g., entrepreneurship, supply chains, advanced manufacturing/ manufacturing, innovation, etc.) or offer business accelerator programs and/or business incubators? Provide names and locations of MSIs that have these programs. 11. What is the most effective way for MSIs to collaborate with communitybased organizations? Please provide examples. In addition, MBDA is seeking public comment regarding the focal points for the rural business centers as directed by the section 100302(c) of the MBDA Act: (i) The adoption of broadband internet access service (as defined in section 8.1(b) of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation), digital literacy skills, and ecommerce by rural minority business enterprises; (ii) advanced manufacturing; (iii) the promotion of manufacturing in the United States; (iv) ways in which rural minority business enterprises can meet gaps in the supply chain of critical supplies and essential goods and services for the United States; (v) improving the connectivity of rural minority business enterprises through transportation and logistics; (vi) promoting trade and export opportunities by rural minority business enterprises; (vii) securing financial capital; (viii) facilitating entrepreneurship in rural areas; and (ix) creating jobs in rural areas. All comments must be submitted in electronic form (Word or other consistent software program) to the comment mailbox listed in the ADDRESSES section above. Comments should include the name or organization represented, contact information for the commenter, and the specific issue or VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Dec 29, 2021 Jkt 256001 subject addressed in accordance with this notice and the provisions of the MBDA Act, Rural Business Center Program section. Josephine Arnold, Chief Counsel, Minority Business Development Agency. [FR Doc. 2021–28331 Filed 12–29–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–21–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XB590] Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Exempted Fishing Permit National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the REEF Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). If granted, the EFP would authorize the deployment of noncontainment and spiny lobster traps in the Federal waters of the South Atlantic by research and contracted commercial vessels to target lionfish. The project would seek to determine the effectiveness of these traps for attracting and collecting invasive lionfish while avoiding impacts to non-target species and habitats. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 14, 2022. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2021–0119’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2021–0119’’ in the Search box. Click the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Kelli O’Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. • 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 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), 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). Electronic copies of the application and programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ lionfish-traps-exempted-fishing-permitapplications. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O’Donnell, 727–824–5305; email: kelli.odonnell@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted fishing. Lionfish is an invasive marine species that occurs in both the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic. The harvest of lionfish in the Federal waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic is not currently managed by NMFS. The EFP application submitted to NMFS involves the use of prohibited gear in Federal waters. Federal regulations prohibit the use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters in the Gulf and South Atlantic (50 CFR 622.9(c)). In South Atlantic Federal waters, the term ‘‘fish trap’’ refers to a trap capable of taking fish, except for a seabass pot, a golden crab trap, or a crustacean trap, which are a type of trap historically used in the directed fishery for blue crab, stone crab, red crab, jonah crab, or spiny lobster and that contains at any time not more than 25 percent, by number, of fish other than blue crab, stone crab, red crab, jonah crab, and spiny lobster (50 CFR 622.2). The EFP would exempt these activities from the regulations prohibiting the use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters of the South Atlantic at 50 CFR 622.9(c) and exempt the activities from the spiny lobster seasonal closures at 50 CFR 622.403(b) and (c). This allows the applicant to use non-containment traps and spiny lobster traps to target lionfish throughout the calendar year, including during the spiny lobster closed season off Florida. This exemption does not apply to fishing in areas where spiny lobster trap fishing is currently prohibited in Federal waters to protect corals (50 CFR 622.406). As described in more detail later in this notice, the EFP will allow E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 248 / Thursday, December 30, 2021 / Notices lionfish to be retained year-round from both the non-containment and the spiny lobster traps. The lionfish could be retained for personal use, which includes further scientific studies, and commercial use. Other incidentally caught species may be retained from the spiny lobster traps during the spiny lobster open season for personal and commercial use. Commercial use is limited to the contracted commercial fishers and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, to allow for retention of lionfish and incidental species from the traps as outlined, the EFP would exempt the applicant from commercial and recreational trap gear restrictions at 50 CFR 600.725(v) for the South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Commercial and Recreational Fisheries (FMP) and from recreational trap gear restrictions for the Recreational Fishery (non-FMP). The applicant seeks an EFP to test the effectiveness of non-containment traps in capturing lionfish in the South Atlantic while avoiding impacts to nontarget species, protected species, and habitats. NMFS analyzed the effects of testing traps that target lionfish on the environment, including effects on Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species and designated critical habitat, and other non-target species and habitat, in the Gulf and South Atlantic regions through a PEA. Before issuing the permit, NMFS will analyze whether the proposed effort concerning noncontainment traps and use or spiny lobster traps outside of the spiny lobster fishing season fits within the scope of the PEA and the ESA analysis on the expected effort under the PEA. If the proposed activities fit within the PEA and the ESA consultation, NMFS will document that determination for the record. Otherwise, NMFS will complete the required analyses. The specific EFP request noticed here is further described and summarized below. REEF is requesting authorization to test non-containment traps in the South Atlantic to harvest lionfish aboard federally permitted commercial spiny lobster fishing vessels and state of Florida research vessels. The proposed activities would examine the effectiveness and performance of noncontainment traps for capturing lionfish, with the goal of identifying the best non-containment trap modification to maximize lionfish catch and reduce bycatch of other species. Both the noncontainment and the spiny lobster traps would be fished singularly or in a trawl configuration with a maximum of 32 traps and 2 surface lines with buoys per trawl. Some traps would be outfitted VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Dec 29, 2021 Jkt 256001 with cameras and/or hydrophones. Noncontainment traps would be compared to standard spiny lobster trap controls. The standard spiny lobster traps to be used in the EFP would have a current endorsement, stamp, or certification. Sampling with the traps in the South Atlantic would occur in Federal waters in water depths from 100–300 ft (30–100 m) between Alligator Reef and Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys. Commercial vessels would complete 20 trips per year while state research vessels would complete 30 trips per year for a maximum of 50 trips per year among all participating project vessels. Only areas open to commercial lobster fishing would be included in the study area and the complete calendar year would be available for sampling as a result of the lobster season exemptions in the EFP. No more than 100 non-containment traps would be deployed in the water at any given time, regardless of number of vessel deploying traps. During the spiny lobster closed season, no more than 100 non-containment and 100 spiny lobster traps would be deployed in the water at any given time. Trap soak times would vary, but they would not exceed 21 days per deployment. No bait would be used in the non-containment traps. Spiny lobster traps would be fished normally, with or without bait, at the discretion of the commercial fishermen. The project would deploy both non-containment traps and spiny lobster traps in various configurations. The spiny lobster traps would serve as control traps for the project and act as a way to examine the performance of the non-containment traps as a gear type for harvesting lionfish. As practicable, video and still photographs of trap deployment and animal behavior in and near traps would be recorded using remotely operated vehicles. REEF would contract up to three federally permitted commercial lobster trap vessels crewed by fishermen with experience fishing within the study area. Additionally, the commercial vessel contractors must have demonstrable experience in the catching and handling of lionfish. The other project vessels would be two state of Florida research vessels. Researchers would be onboard the commercial vessels if scheduling allows. Data to be collected per trip would include: Noncontainment trap design, gear configuration, and fishing effort data (e.g., date and time of deployment and retrieval, latitude, longitude, and water depth of each deployed trawl, soak time); trap loss and movement from original set position; protected species interactions; bycatch species (amount, PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 74405 length, and disposition); and lionfish catch data for each trap type. All noncommercially viable bycatch species would be returned to the water as soon as possible. Commercial fishermen would be allowed to retain lionfish caught in the non-containment trap and spiny lobster traps for commercial catch year-round. During the spiny lobster open season, commercial fishermen would be able to retain for commercial purposes species caught from spiny lobster traps, including lionfish, subject to current regulations. In particular, depending on REEF’s commercial vessels selected, species that are legally allowed to be commercially harvested in Federal waters by the contracted commercial fishermen may be retained as commercial catch as long as the harvest and retention complies with applicable laws and regulations (e.g., permitted commercial fishermen may retain species of the legal size taken during the applicable season from appropriate areas using legal gears and vessels, consistent with applicable laws and regulations). The researchers and contracted commercial fishers also can retain lionfish from the noncontainment and spiny lobster traps year-round for personal use, including further scientific study. Other incidentally caught species can be retained from the spiny lobster traps during the spiny lobster open season for personal use, subject to applicable law (e.g., bag and possession limits). The EFP, if issued, will provide appropriate exemptions from the list of authorized gear types at 50 CFR 600.725(v) to allow the species to be retained for commercial and recreational purposes from trap gear. This would include an exemption from the recreational trap gear restrictions for the Recreational Fishery (Non-FMP) in the South Atlantic at 50 CFR 600.725(v) to allow the use of traps to retain lionfish for recreational purposes year-round, and an exemption from the commercial and recreational trap gear restrictions for the South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Commercial and Recreational Fisheries (FMP) to allow the use of traps to retain managed snapper-grouper species for recreational purposes during the spiny lobster open season. ‘‘Recreational purposes’’ covers harvest for further scientific studies of lionfish as well as for personal consumption of lionfish and managed species caught in the traps. Previous lionfish studies from 100 deployments showed non-containment trap bycatch to consist only of striped burrfish, jackknife fish, and tattler bass, so lionfish is anticipated to be the primary species harvested out of the E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 74406 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 248 / Thursday, December 30, 2021 / Notices non-containment traps and bycatch of non-target species is expected to be minimal. Bycatch from the spiny lobster traps are expected to be similar to that from the spiny lobster trap fishery in the South Atlantic. The applicant has requested the EFP be effective for a 2-year period from the date the EFP is issued. NMFS finds the application warrants further consideration based on a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on the permit, if granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition on conducting activities within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, or special management zones. Additionally, NMFS may require special protections for ESAlisted species and designated critical habitat, and may require particular gear markings. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS’ review of public comments received on the application, consultations with the appropriate fishery management agency of the affected state, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that the activities to be taken under the EFP are consistent with all applicable laws and regulations. Authority: 16 U.S.C 1801 et seq. Dated: December 27, 2021. Karen Abrams, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–28352 Filed 12–29–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO–P–2021–0037] Extension of the Modified COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is extending the modified COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. Requests that are compliant with the pilot program’s requirements and are filed on or before March 31, 2022, will be accepted. The USPTO will evaluate whether to terminate or further extend the program during this extension period. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: The COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program is extended DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Dec 29, 2021 Jkt 256001 as of December 30, 2021, to run until March 31, 2022. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert A. Clarke, Editor of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) (571–272–7735; robert.clarke@ uspto.gov). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 14, 2020, the USPTO published a notice on the implementation of the COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. See COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, 85 FR 28932 (May 14, 2020) (COVID–19 Track One Notice). On September 3, 2021, the USPTO published a notice extending the program to December 31, 2021, and modifying it by removing the limit on the number of applications that could receive prioritized examination. See Modification of COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, 86 FR 49522 (September 3, 2021) (Modifying Notice). The COVID–19 Track One Notice indicated that an applicant may request prioritized examination without payment of the prioritized examination fee and associated processing fee if: (1) The application’s claim(s) covered a product or process related to COVID–19, (2) the product or process was subject to an applicable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID–19 use, and (3) the applicant met other requirements noted in the COVID–19 Track One Notice. As of November 29, 2021, 180 patents had issued from applications granted prioritized status under the pilot program. The average total pendency, including time consumed by continued examination, from filing date to issue date for those applications was 276 days. The shortest pendency from filing date to issue date for those applications was 75 days. The Modifying Notice indicated that the pilot program would expire on December 31, 2021. In this notice, the Office is extending the pilot program by setting the expiration date as March 31, 2022. The Office will evaluate whether to terminate or further extend the program during this extension period. If the USPTO determines that a further extension of the pilot program is appropriate, the agency will publish a subsequent notice to the public further extending the program. Unless the pilot program is further extended by a subsequent notice, following the expiration of this extension, the pilot program will be terminated, and applicants may instead seek to use the Prioritized Examination (Track One) Program. Applications accorded prioritized examination under the pilot program will not lose that PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 status merely because the application is still pending after the date the pilot program is terminated. In other words, applications accepted into the pilot program will continue to be examined under prioritized examination status until that status is terminated for one or more reasons, as described in the COVID–19 Track One Notice. The Track One Program permits an applicant to have an application advanced out of turn (accorded special status) for examination under 37 CFR 1.102(e) if the applicant timely files a request for prioritized (Track One) examination accompanied by the appropriate fees and meets the other conditions of 37 CFR 1.102(e). See MPEP 708.02(b)(2). The current fee schedule is available at www.uspto.gov/ learning-and-resources/fees-andpayment/uspto-fee-schedule. The Track One Program does not have the restrictions of the COVID–19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program on the types of inventions for which special status may be sought, as the Track One Program does not require a connection to any particular technology. Moreover, delays associated with the determination of whether an application presents a claim that covers a product or process related to COVID–19 and whether the product or process was subject to an applicable FDA approval for COVID–19 use may be avoided under the Track One Program. Andrew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents, Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. [FR Doc. 2021–28359 Filed 12–29–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–16–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID: USA–2021–HQ–0013] Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request Department of the Army, Department of Defense (DoD). ACTION: 30-Day information collection notice. AGENCY: The Department of Defense has submitted to OMB for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act. DATES: Consideration will be given to all comments received by January 31, 2022. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 248 (Thursday, December 30, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74404-74406]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-28352]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XB590]


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Exempted Fishing Permit

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing 
permit; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted 
fishing permit (EFP) from the REEF Environmental Education Foundation 
(REEF). If granted, the EFP would authorize the deployment of non-
containment and spiny lobster traps in the Federal waters of the South 
Atlantic by research and contracted commercial vessels to target 
lionfish. The project would seek to determine the effectiveness of 
these traps for attracting and collecting invasive lionfish while 
avoiding impacts to non-target species and habitats.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before January 14, 2022.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the application, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2021-0119'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2021-0119'' in the Search 
box. Click the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields, and 
enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Kelli O'Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 
263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
     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 
information (e.g., name, address), 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).
    Electronic copies of the application and programmatic environmental 
assessment (PEA) may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office 
website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/lionfish-traps-exempted-fishing-permit-applications.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelli O'Donnell, 727-824-5305; email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EFP is requested under the authority of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C 
1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted 
fishing.
    Lionfish is an invasive marine species that occurs in both the Gulf 
of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic. The harvest of lionfish in the 
Federal waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic is not currently managed 
by NMFS. The EFP application submitted to NMFS involves the use of 
prohibited gear in Federal waters. Federal regulations prohibit the use 
or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters in the Gulf and South 
Atlantic (50 CFR 622.9(c)). In South Atlantic Federal waters, the term 
``fish trap'' refers to a trap capable of taking fish, except for a 
seabass pot, a golden crab trap, or a crustacean trap, which are a type 
of trap historically used in the directed fishery for blue crab, stone 
crab, red crab, jonah crab, or spiny lobster and that contains at any 
time not more than 25 percent, by number, of fish other than blue crab, 
stone crab, red crab, jonah crab, and spiny lobster (50 CFR 622.2). The 
EFP would exempt these activities from the regulations prohibiting the 
use or possession of a fish trap in Federal waters of the South 
Atlantic at 50 CFR 622.9(c) and exempt the activities from the spiny 
lobster seasonal closures at 50 CFR 622.403(b) and (c). This allows the 
applicant to use non-containment traps and spiny lobster traps to 
target lionfish throughout the calendar year, including during the 
spiny lobster closed season off Florida. This exemption does not apply 
to fishing in areas where spiny lobster trap fishing is currently 
prohibited in Federal waters to protect corals (50 CFR 622.406). As 
described in more detail later in this notice, the EFP will allow

[[Page 74405]]

lionfish to be retained year-round from both the non-containment and 
the spiny lobster traps. The lionfish could be retained for personal 
use, which includes further scientific studies, and commercial use. 
Other incidentally caught species may be retained from the spiny 
lobster traps during the spiny lobster open season for personal and 
commercial use. Commercial use is limited to the contracted commercial 
fishers and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. 
Additionally, to allow for retention of lionfish and incidental species 
from the traps as outlined, the EFP would exempt the applicant from 
commercial and recreational trap gear restrictions at 50 CFR 600.725(v) 
for the South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Commercial and Recreational 
Fisheries (FMP) and from recreational trap gear restrictions for the 
Recreational Fishery (non-FMP).
    The applicant seeks an EFP to test the effectiveness of non-
containment traps in capturing lionfish in the South Atlantic while 
avoiding impacts to non-target species, protected species, and 
habitats. NMFS analyzed the effects of testing traps that target 
lionfish on the environment, including effects on Endangered Species 
Act (ESA)-listed species and designated critical habitat, and other 
non-target species and habitat, in the Gulf and South Atlantic regions 
through a PEA. Before issuing the permit, NMFS will analyze whether the 
proposed effort concerning non-containment traps and use or spiny 
lobster traps outside of the spiny lobster fishing season fits within 
the scope of the PEA and the ESA analysis on the expected effort under 
the PEA. If the proposed activities fit within the PEA and the ESA 
consultation, NMFS will document that determination for the record. 
Otherwise, NMFS will complete the required analyses.
    The specific EFP request noticed here is further described and 
summarized below.
    REEF is requesting authorization to test non-containment traps in 
the South Atlantic to harvest lionfish aboard federally permitted 
commercial spiny lobster fishing vessels and state of Florida research 
vessels. The proposed activities would examine the effectiveness and 
performance of non-containment traps for capturing lionfish, with the 
goal of identifying the best non-containment trap modification to 
maximize lionfish catch and reduce bycatch of other species. Both the 
non-containment and the spiny lobster traps would be fished singularly 
or in a trawl configuration with a maximum of 32 traps and 2 surface 
lines with buoys per trawl. Some traps would be outfitted with cameras 
and/or hydrophones. Non-containment traps would be compared to standard 
spiny lobster trap controls. The standard spiny lobster traps to be 
used in the EFP would have a current endorsement, stamp, or 
certification. Sampling with the traps in the South Atlantic would 
occur in Federal waters in water depths from 100-300 ft (30-100 m) 
between Alligator Reef and Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys. 
Commercial vessels would complete 20 trips per year while state 
research vessels would complete 30 trips per year for a maximum of 50 
trips per year among all participating project vessels. Only areas open 
to commercial lobster fishing would be included in the study area and 
the complete calendar year would be available for sampling as a result 
of the lobster season exemptions in the EFP. No more than 100 non-
containment traps would be deployed in the water at any given time, 
regardless of number of vessel deploying traps. During the spiny 
lobster closed season, no more than 100 non-containment and 100 spiny 
lobster traps would be deployed in the water at any given time. Trap 
soak times would vary, but they would not exceed 21 days per 
deployment. No bait would be used in the non-containment traps. Spiny 
lobster traps would be fished normally, with or without bait, at the 
discretion of the commercial fishermen. The project would deploy both 
non-containment traps and spiny lobster traps in various 
configurations. The spiny lobster traps would serve as control traps 
for the project and act as a way to examine the performance of the non-
containment traps as a gear type for harvesting lionfish. As 
practicable, video and still photographs of trap deployment and animal 
behavior in and near traps would be recorded using remotely operated 
vehicles.
    REEF would contract up to three federally permitted commercial 
lobster trap vessels crewed by fishermen with experience fishing within 
the study area. Additionally, the commercial vessel contractors must 
have demonstrable experience in the catching and handling of lionfish. 
The other project vessels would be two state of Florida research 
vessels. Researchers would be onboard the commercial vessels if 
scheduling allows. Data to be collected per trip would include: Non-
containment trap design, gear configuration, and fishing effort data 
(e.g., date and time of deployment and retrieval, latitude, longitude, 
and water depth of each deployed trawl, soak time); trap loss and 
movement from original set position; protected species interactions; 
bycatch species (amount, length, and disposition); and lionfish catch 
data for each trap type. All non-commercially viable bycatch species 
would be returned to the water as soon as possible. Commercial 
fishermen would be allowed to retain lionfish caught in the non-
containment trap and spiny lobster traps for commercial catch year-
round. During the spiny lobster open season, commercial fishermen would 
be able to retain for commercial purposes species caught from spiny 
lobster traps, including lionfish, subject to current regulations. In 
particular, depending on REEF's commercial vessels selected, species 
that are legally allowed to be commercially harvested in Federal waters 
by the contracted commercial fishermen may be retained as commercial 
catch as long as the harvest and retention complies with applicable 
laws and regulations (e.g., permitted commercial fishermen may retain 
species of the legal size taken during the applicable season from 
appropriate areas using legal gears and vessels, consistent with 
applicable laws and regulations). The researchers and contracted 
commercial fishers also can retain lionfish from the non-containment 
and spiny lobster traps year-round for personal use, including further 
scientific study. Other incidentally caught species can be retained 
from the spiny lobster traps during the spiny lobster open season for 
personal use, subject to applicable law (e.g., bag and possession 
limits). The EFP, if issued, will provide appropriate exemptions from 
the list of authorized gear types at 50 CFR 600.725(v) to allow the 
species to be retained for commercial and recreational purposes from 
trap gear. This would include an exemption from the recreational trap 
gear restrictions for the Recreational Fishery (Non-FMP) in the South 
Atlantic at 50 CFR 600.725(v) to allow the use of traps to retain 
lionfish for recreational purposes year-round, and an exemption from 
the commercial and recreational trap gear restrictions for the South 
Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Commercial and Recreational Fisheries (FMP) to 
allow the use of traps to retain managed snapper-grouper species for 
recreational purposes during the spiny lobster open season. 
``Recreational purposes'' covers harvest for further scientific studies 
of lionfish as well as for personal consumption of lionfish and managed 
species caught in the traps. Previous lionfish studies from 100 
deployments showed non-containment trap bycatch to consist only of 
striped burrfish, jackknife fish, and tattler bass, so lionfish is 
anticipated to be the primary species harvested out of the

[[Page 74406]]

non-containment traps and bycatch of non-target species is expected to 
be minimal. Bycatch from the spiny lobster traps are expected to be 
similar to that from the spiny lobster trap fishery in the South 
Atlantic.
    The applicant has requested the EFP be effective for a 2-year 
period from the date the EFP is issued.
    NMFS finds the application warrants further consideration based on 
a preliminary review. Possible conditions the agency may impose on the 
permit, if granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition on 
conducting activities within marine protected areas, marine 
sanctuaries, or special management zones. Additionally, NMFS may 
require special protections for ESA-listed species and designated 
critical habitat, and may require particular gear markings. A final 
decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NMFS' review of public 
comments received on the application, consultations with the 
appropriate fishery management agency of the affected state, the South 
Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the U.S. Coast Guard, and a 
determination that the activities to be taken under the EFP are 
consistent with all applicable laws and regulations.
    Authority: 16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 27, 2021.
Karen Abrams,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
 [FR Doc. 2021-28352 Filed 12-29-21; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P