Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2021-2023 Small-Mesh Multispecies Specifications, 5405-5408 [2022-02000]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 21 / Tuesday, February 1, 2022 / Rules and Regulations Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211) Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department Policy) The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government-togovernment relationship with Indian Tribes through a commitment to consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their right to selfgovernance and tribal sovereignty. The NPS has evaluated this rule under the criteria in Executive Order 13175 and under the Department’s tribal consultation policy and has determined that tribal consultation is not required because the rule will have no substantial direct effect on federally recognized Indian tribes. Paperwork Reduction Act This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and a submission to the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act is not required. The NPS may not conduct or sponsor and the public is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 National Environmental Policy Act This rule does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. A detailed statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required because the rule is covered by a categorical exclusion. The NPS has determined the rule is categorically excluded under NPS NEPA Handbook 2015 Section 3.3(A)(8) because this rule revises existing regulations for the Lakeshore in a manner that would not (i) increase public use to the extent of compromising the nature and character of the area or causing physical damage to it; (ii) introduce noncompatible uses that might compromise the nature and characteristics of the area or cause physical damage to it; (iii) conflict with adjacent ownerships or land uses; or (iv) cause a nuisance to adjacent owners or occupants. The rule does not change the allowed level of snowmobile use at the Lakeshore. It clarifies where snowmobiles are already allowed by replacing an incomplete list of routes and a general statement allowing snowmobiles on unplowed roads and shoulders of plowed roads with a comprehensive list of legal snowmobiles routes. The NPS has also determined that the rule does not involve any of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 that would require further analysis under NEPA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:16 Jan 31, 2022 Jkt 256001 This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. The rule is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy, and the Administrator of OIRA has not designated the rule as a significant energy action. A Statement of Energy Effects is not required. List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7 District of Columbia, National Parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 36 CFR part 7 as follows: PART 7—SPECIAL REGULATIONS, AREAS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM 1. The authority for part 7 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, 320102; Sec. 7.96 also issued under D.C. Code 10–137 and D.C. Code 50–2201.07. 2. Amend § 7.32 by: a. Revising paragraph (a)(1) introductory text and paragraphs (a)(1)(v), (viii), and (ix); ■ b. Redesignating paragraph (a)(1)(x) as paragraph (a)(1)(xvi); ■ c. Adding new paragraph (a)(1)(x) and paragraphs (a)(1)(xi) through (xv); ■ d. Revising newly redesignated paragraph (a)(1)(xvi); ■ e. Revising paragraph (a)(3); and ■ f. Adding paragraph (a)(4). The revisions and additions to read as follows: ■ ■ § 7.32 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. (a) * * * (1) Snowmobiles are allowed on the following routes and water surfaces within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: * * * * * (v) The road from County Road H–58 at the park boundary to the Little Beaver Lake Campground. * * * * * (viii) The road from County Road H–58 to the Log Slide parking area. (ix) The section of Michigan Dimension Road from the park boundary to the Log Slide parking area. (x) The South Grand Sable Lake Road, starting at Towes Creek (T49N, R14W, Sections 14 and 23), heading south in and out of the fee zone area. (xi) Portions of County Road H–58 that are within park boundaries between Twelvemile Beach and Log Slide scenic overlook (T49N, R15W, Sections 9, 10, PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 5405 11, 13, 14, and 16 and T49, 14W, Section 18). (xii) Portions of County Road H–58 that are within park boundaries between Log Slide Scenic Overlook and the Grand Sable Visitor Center (T49N, R14W, Sections 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17). (xiii) County Road H–58 between Grand Sable Visitor Center to the eastern extent of the park boundary (T49N, R14W, Sections 1, 11, and 12). (xiv) Portions of Lowder Road that are within park boundaries from M77 to Grand Sable Lake Boat Ramp (T48N, R16W, Sections 21 and 29). (xv) Portions of Beaver Basin Overlook Road from County Road H–58 to the Beaver Basin Overlook (T49N, R14W, Sections 11, and 12). (xvi) The frozen water surfaces of Lake Superior and Grand Sable Lake. * * * * * (3) Snowmobile use outside designated routes and frozen water surfaces is prohibited. Snowmobiles are restricted to the road shoulders of routes that are plowed. The prohibitions in this paragraph do not apply to emergency administrative travel by employees of the National Park Service or law enforcement agencies. (4) The Superintendent may open or close these routes and water surfaces, or portions thereof, to snowmobile travel after taking into consideration the location of wintering wildlife, appropriate snow cover, public safety, and other factors. The Superintendent will provide notice of such opening or closing by one or more of the methods listed in § 1.7(a) of this chapter. * * * * * Shannon A. Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2022–02015 Filed 1–31–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–52–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 220124–0032] RIN 0648–BK55 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2021–2023 Small-Mesh Multispecies Specifications National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\01FER1.SGM 01FER1 5406 ACTION: Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 21 / Tuesday, February 1, 2022 / Rules and Regulations Final rule. NMFS approves and implements final small-mesh multispecies specifications for the 2021 fishing year, and projected specifications for fishing years 2022 and 2023, as recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council. This action also increases the whiting possession limit for certain trips and restores the in-season adjustment trigger for northern red hake. This action is necessary to establish allowable harvest levels and other management measures consistent with the most recent scientific information. This rule informs the public of these final fishery specifications for the 2021 fishing year. DATES: Effective February 1, 2022. ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for these specifications that describes the action and other considered alternatives. The EA provides an analysis of the biological, economic, and social impacts of the preferred measures and other considered alternatives; a Regulatory Impact Review; and economic analysis. Copies of these specifications, including the EA, Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses, and other supporting documents for the action are available SUMMARY: upon request from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. These documents are also accessible via the internet at https://www.nefmc.org/ management-plans/small-meshmultispecies. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannah Jaburek, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 282–8456. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The New England Fishery Management Council manages the small-mesh multispecies fishery within the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The smallmesh multispecies fishery is made up of three species of hakes that are managed as five stocks: Northern and southern silver hake; northern and southern red hake; and offshore hake. Southern silver hake and offshore hake are often grouped together for management purposes and collectively referred to as ‘‘southern whiting.’’ Amendment 19 to the FMP (April 4, 2013; 78 FR 20260) established a process for specifying catch limits for the small-mesh multispecies fishery stocks; including values for an overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), and total allowable landings (TAL). The FMP requires that this specifications process be implemented on an annual basis for up to 3 years at a time with each fishing year running from May 1 through April 30. This action implements catch limit specifications for the 2021 small-mesh multispecies fishery, and announces projected specifications for fishing years 2022 and 2023 based on the Council’s recommendations. This action also revises some management measures to reduce regulatory discards in the fishery and increase the opportunity to achieve optimum yield. The proposed rule for this action published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2021 (86 FR 31262), and comments were accepted through June 28, 2021. NMFS received no comments from the public. Final Specifications This action implements the Council’s recommendations for 2021 and projected 2022–2023 small-mesh multispecies catch specifications, as well as revised management measures to reduce regulatory discards, as outlined in the proposed rule. Specifications for fishing years 2022 and 2023 are projected to be the same as the 2021 limits (Table 1). TABLE 1—SMALL-MESH MULTISPECIES SPECIFICATIONS FOR FISHING YEARS 2021–2023 (METRIC TONS), WITH THE PERCENT CHANGE IN THE TAL FROM FISHING YEAR 2020 OFL Northern Red Hake ............................................................. Northern Silver Hake ........................................................... Southern Red Hake ............................................................. Southern Whiting ................................................................. ABC Unknown ........ 39,930 ............ N/A ................. 72,160 ............ ACL 3,452 20,410 1,505 40,990 TAL 3,278 19,387 1,429 38,941 Percent change 1,405 17,457 422 28,742 +413 ¥34 +89 +99 tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 * Southern whiting includes both southern silver hake and offshore hake. In a separate action (Framework Adjustment 62 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP), the Council adopted a 10-year rebuilding program for southern red hake because this stock was declared overfished in 2018 (see the final rule at 87 FR 3694, January 25, 2022). Although the quota for southern red hake implemented in the action will increase while this stock enters a rebuilding period, this adjustment is intended to reduce regulatory discards by converting more catch to landings and allow continued operation of the fishery while still enhancing the rebuilding potential for southern red hake. The Council’s recommended ABC for southern red hake is 75 percent of what was recommended by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:16 Jan 31, 2022 Jkt 256001 Committee, in accordance with the rebuilding plan. This action also revises management measures within the small-mesh multispecies fishery to reduce regulatory discards and improve fishery operations. The possession limit for whiting (silver hake and offshore hake) on trips using gear with less than 3-inch (7.6-cm) mesh is increasing from 3,500 lb (1,587.6 kg) and 7,500 lb (3,401.9 kg) to 15,000 lb (6,803.9 kg). Additionally, the in-season adjustment trigger for northern red hake is being restored to 90 percent of the annual quota from the current 37.9-percent trigger. This is intended to allow the fishery to harvest the TAL without being prematurely restricted by a reduced possession limit by bringing the starting point for the post-season ACL overage accountability PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 measure back to the original trigger level. The Council will review the projected 2022 and 2023 specifications to determine if any changes need to be made prior to their final implementation. NMFS will publish a notice prior to the start of each fishing year to confirm the projected specifications or announce any necessary changes. Changes From the Proposed Rule NMFS has not made any changes to the proposed regulatory text and there are no changes from the proposed rule. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MagnusonStevens Act), the NMFS Assistant E:\FR\FM\01FER1.SGM 01FER1 tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 21 / Tuesday, February 1, 2022 / Rules and Regulations Administrator has determined that these final specifications are necessary for the conservation and management of the small-mesh multispecies fishery, and that they are consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. The Council reviewed the regulations for this action and deemed them necessary and appropriate to implement consistent with section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This final rule is effective upon the date of publication in the Federal Register February 1, 2022. This final rule is not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provision requiring a 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness because this rule falls within two of the APA exceptions (5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and (3)). The first exception, at 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1), applies for a substantive rule that relieves a restriction. This action relieves a restriction by increasing annual quota catch and possession limits for several stocks in the small-mesh multispecies fishery. Specifically, in order to provide additional flexibility to the fishing industry and reduce unnecessary regulatory discards, this final rule increases commercial quotas for three of the four hake stocks managed in this fishery, increases the possession limit of whiting for vessels using a certain mesh size to 15,000 lb (6,803.9 kg), and increases the threshold trigger to 90 percent of the TAL for when northern red hake inseason accountability measures must be implemented. In addition, NMFS finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in this rule’s effective date for the following reasons. Waiving the delay in the date of effectiveness ensures that these final specifications are in place as close as practicable to the start of the 2021 small-mesh multispecies fishing year, which began on May 1, 2021. Although the 2020 catch limits have rolled over in the absence of implementation of these new specifications, the 2020 catch limits are not based on the most recent stock assessment data and are unnecessarily restrictive. A 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness that further postpones the implementation of the increase in whiting possession limits would be contrary to the public interest, as the lost economic opportunity during the period of the additional 30-day delay could cause potential economic harm to participants in the small-mesh VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:16 Jan 31, 2022 Jkt 256001 multispecies fishery. Currently, unfavorable market conditions in the whiting fishery is the main reason that whiting catch is being discarded rather than being sold; however, market conditions can change at any time and become more favorable to landing whiting causing a higher percentage of vessels to be constrained by the lower power possession limit. Additional delay also could risk the unnecessary triggering of accountability measures for northern red hake during the remainder of the fishing year under the current catch threshold of 37.9 percent before this action can raise the catch threshold to 90 percent. Finally, the additional time afforded by a 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness is not necessary in order for participants in the fishery to come into compliance with this rule. Vessels fishing for small-mesh multispecies will not be required to purchase new equipment or expend time or money to comply with these management measures. Compliance with this final rule does not require an adjustment period, because complying simply means adhering to the new catch limits and management measures set for the fishing year. In addition, fishery stakeholders have been involved in the development of this rule and are anticipating the implementation of this action. This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action 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 and the initial certification remains unchanged. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none was prepared. This final rule does not duplicate, conflict, or overlap with any existing Federal rules. This action contains no information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 5407 Dated: January 26, 2022. 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 648 is amended as follows: PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 2. In § 648.86, revise paragraph (d)(1)(i) and remove and reserve paragraph (d)(1)(ii). The revision reads as follows: ■ § 648.86 NE Multispecies possession restrictions. * * * * * (d) * * * (1) * * * (i) Vessels possessing on board or using nets of mesh size smaller than 3 in (7.62 cm). Owners or operators of a vessel may possess and land not more than 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) of combined silver hake and offshore hake, if either of the following conditions apply: (A) The mesh size of any net or any part of a net used by or on board the vessel is smaller than 3 inches (7.62 cm), as applied to the part of the net specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section, as measured in accordance with § 648.80(f); or (B) The mesh size of any net or part of a net on board the vessel not incorporated into a fully constructed net is smaller than 3 inches (7.62 cm), as measured by methods specified in § 648.80(f). ‘‘Incorporated into a fully constructed net’’ means that any mesh smaller than 3 inches (7.62 cm) that is incorporated into a fully constructed net may occur only in the part of the net not subject to the mesh size restrictions specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section, and the net into which the mesh is incorporated must be available for immediate use. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 648.90, revise paragraph (b)(5)(iii) to read as follows: § 648.90 NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and specifications, and flexible area action system. * * * (b) * * * (5) * * * E:\FR\FM\01FER1.SGM 01FER1 * * 5408 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 21 / Tuesday, February 1, 2022 / Rules and Regulations (iii) Small-mesh multispecies inseason adjustment triggers. The smallmesh multispecies in-season accountability measure adjustment triggers are as follows: Species tkelley on DSK125TN23PROD with RULES1 18:50 Jan 31, 2022 * * * * [FR Doc. 2022–02000 Filed 1–31–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P In-season adjustment trigger (percent) Northern Red Hake .............. Northern Silver Hake ............ Southern Red Hake .............. Southern Silver Hake ........... VerDate Sep<11>2014 * 90 90 40.4 90 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\01FER1.SGM 01FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 21 (Tuesday, February 1, 2022)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 5405-5408]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-02000]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 220124-0032]
RIN 0648-BK55


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; 2021-2023 Small-Mesh Multispecies Specifications

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

[[Page 5406]]


ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS approves and implements final small-mesh multispecies 
specifications for the 2021 fishing year, and projected specifications 
for fishing years 2022 and 2023, as recommended by the New England 
Fishery Management Council. This action also increases the whiting 
possession limit for certain trips and restores the in-season 
adjustment trigger for northern red hake. This action is necessary to 
establish allowable harvest levels and other management measures 
consistent with the most recent scientific information. This rule 
informs the public of these final fishery specifications for the 2021 
fishing year.

DATES: Effective February 1, 2022.

ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council prepared an 
environmental assessment (EA) for these specifications that describes 
the action and other considered alternatives. The EA provides an 
analysis of the biological, economic, and social impacts of the 
preferred measures and other considered alternatives; a Regulatory 
Impact Review; and economic analysis. Copies of these specifications, 
including the EA, Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses, and other 
supporting documents for the action are available upon request from 
Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management 
Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. These documents are 
also accessible via the internet at https://www.nefmc.org/management-plans/small-mesh-multispecies.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannah Jaburek, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, (978) 282-8456.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The New England Fishery Management Council manages the small-mesh 
multispecies fishery within the Northeast Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP). The small-mesh multispecies fishery is made up 
of three species of hakes that are managed as five stocks: Northern and 
southern silver hake; northern and southern red hake; and offshore 
hake. Southern silver hake and offshore hake are often grouped together 
for management purposes and collectively referred to as ``southern 
whiting.'' Amendment 19 to the FMP (April 4, 2013; 78 FR 20260) 
established a process for specifying catch limits for the small-mesh 
multispecies fishery stocks; including values for an overfishing limit 
(OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), and 
total allowable landings (TAL). The FMP requires that this 
specifications process be implemented on an annual basis for up to 3 
years at a time with each fishing year running from May 1 through April 
30. This action implements catch limit specifications for the 2021 
small-mesh multispecies fishery, and announces projected specifications 
for fishing years 2022 and 2023 based on the Council's recommendations. 
This action also revises some management measures to reduce regulatory 
discards in the fishery and increase the opportunity to achieve optimum 
yield.
    The proposed rule for this action published in the Federal Register 
on June 11, 2021 (86 FR 31262), and comments were accepted through June 
28, 2021. NMFS received no comments from the public.

Final Specifications

    This action implements the Council's recommendations for 2021 and 
projected 2022-2023 small-mesh multispecies catch specifications, as 
well as revised management measures to reduce regulatory discards, as 
outlined in the proposed rule. Specifications for fishing years 2022 
and 2023 are projected to be the same as the 2021 limits (Table 1).

   Table 1--Small-Mesh Multispecies Specifications for Fishing Years 2021-2023 (Metric Tons), With the Percent
                                    Change in the TAL From Fishing Year 2020
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Percent
                                      OFL               ABC             ACL             TAL           change
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern Red Hake...........  Unknown...........           3,452           3,278           1,405            +413
Northern Silver Hake........  39,930............          20,410          19,387          17,457             -34
Southern Red Hake...........  N/A...............           1,505           1,429             422             +89
Southern Whiting............  72,160............          40,990          38,941          28,742             +99
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Southern whiting includes both southern silver hake and offshore hake.

    In a separate action (Framework Adjustment 62 to the Northeast 
Multispecies FMP), the Council adopted a 10-year rebuilding program for 
southern red hake because this stock was declared overfished in 2018 
(see the final rule at 87 FR 3694, January 25, 2022). Although the 
quota for southern red hake implemented in the action will increase 
while this stock enters a rebuilding period, this adjustment is 
intended to reduce regulatory discards by converting more catch to 
landings and allow continued operation of the fishery while still 
enhancing the rebuilding potential for southern red hake. The Council's 
recommended ABC for southern red hake is 75 percent of what was 
recommended by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee, in 
accordance with the rebuilding plan.
    This action also revises management measures within the small-mesh 
multispecies fishery to reduce regulatory discards and improve fishery 
operations. The possession limit for whiting (silver hake and offshore 
hake) on trips using gear with less than 3-inch (7.6-cm) mesh is 
increasing from 3,500 lb (1,587.6 kg) and 7,500 lb (3,401.9 kg) to 
15,000 lb (6,803.9 kg). Additionally, the in-season adjustment trigger 
for northern red hake is being restored to 90 percent of the annual 
quota from the current 37.9-percent trigger. This is intended to allow 
the fishery to harvest the TAL without being prematurely restricted by 
a reduced possession limit by bringing the starting point for the post-
season ACL overage accountability measure back to the original trigger 
level. The Council will review the projected 2022 and 2023 
specifications to determine if any changes need to be made prior to 
their final implementation. NMFS will publish a notice prior to the 
start of each fishing year to confirm the projected specifications or 
announce any necessary changes.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    NMFS has not made any changes to the proposed regulatory text and 
there are no changes from the proposed rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(3) of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant

[[Page 5407]]

Administrator has determined that these final specifications are 
necessary for the conservation and management of the small-mesh 
multispecies fishery, and that they are consistent with the Northeast 
Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law.
    The Council reviewed the regulations for this action and deemed 
them necessary and appropriate to implement consistent with section 
303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    This final rule is effective upon the date of publication in the 
Federal Register February 1, 2022. This final rule is not subject to 
the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provision requiring a 30-day 
delay in the date of effectiveness because this rule falls within two 
of the APA exceptions (5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and (3)). The first 
exception, at 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1), applies for a substantive rule that 
relieves a restriction. This action relieves a restriction by 
increasing annual quota catch and possession limits for several stocks 
in the small-mesh multispecies fishery. Specifically, in order to 
provide additional flexibility to the fishing industry and reduce 
unnecessary regulatory discards, this final rule increases commercial 
quotas for three of the four hake stocks managed in this fishery, 
increases the possession limit of whiting for vessels using a certain 
mesh size to 15,000 lb (6,803.9 kg), and increases the threshold 
trigger to 90 percent of the TAL for when northern red hake inseason 
accountability measures must be implemented.
    In addition, NMFS finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to 
waive the 30-day delay in this rule's effective date for the following 
reasons. Waiving the delay in the date of effectiveness ensures that 
these final specifications are in place as close as practicable to the 
start of the 2021 small-mesh multispecies fishing year, which began on 
May 1, 2021. Although the 2020 catch limits have rolled over in the 
absence of implementation of these new specifications, the 2020 catch 
limits are not based on the most recent stock assessment data and are 
unnecessarily restrictive. A 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness 
that further postpones the implementation of the increase in whiting 
possession limits would be contrary to the public interest, as the lost 
economic opportunity during the period of the additional 30-day delay 
could cause potential economic harm to participants in the small-mesh 
multispecies fishery. Currently, unfavorable market conditions in the 
whiting fishery is the main reason that whiting catch is being 
discarded rather than being sold; however, market conditions can change 
at any time and become more favorable to landing whiting causing a 
higher percentage of vessels to be constrained by the lower power 
possession limit. Additional delay also could risk the unnecessary 
triggering of accountability measures for northern red hake during the 
remainder of the fishing year under the current catch threshold of 37.9 
percent before this action can raise the catch threshold to 90 percent. 
Finally, the additional time afforded by a 30-day delay in the date of 
effectiveness is not necessary in order for participants in the fishery 
to come into compliance with this rule. Vessels fishing for small-mesh 
multispecies will not be required to purchase new equipment or expend 
time or money to comply with these management measures. Compliance with 
this final rule does not require an adjustment period, because 
complying simply means adhering to the new catch limits and management 
measures set for the fishing year. In addition, fishery stakeholders 
have been involved in the development of this rule and are anticipating 
the implementation of this action.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action 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 and the initial certification remains 
unchanged. As a result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none was prepared.
    This final rule does not duplicate, conflict, or overlap with any 
existing Federal rules.
    This action contains no information collection requirements under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: January 26, 2022.
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 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.86, revise paragraph (d)(1)(i) and remove and reserve 
paragraph (d)(1)(ii).
    The revision reads as follows:


Sec.  648.86  NE Multispecies possession restrictions.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Vessels possessing on board or using nets of mesh size smaller 
than 3 in (7.62 cm). Owners or operators of a vessel may possess and 
land not more than 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) of combined silver hake and 
offshore hake, if either of the following conditions apply:
    (A) The mesh size of any net or any part of a net used by or on 
board the vessel is smaller than 3 inches (7.62 cm), as applied to the 
part of the net specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section, as 
measured in accordance with Sec.  648.80(f); or
    (B) The mesh size of any net or part of a net on board the vessel 
not incorporated into a fully constructed net is smaller than 3 inches 
(7.62 cm), as measured by methods specified in Sec.  648.80(f). 
``Incorporated into a fully constructed net'' means that any mesh 
smaller than 3 inches (7.62 cm) that is incorporated into a fully 
constructed net may occur only in the part of the net not subject to 
the mesh size restrictions specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this 
section, and the net into which the mesh is incorporated must be 
available for immediate use.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.90, revise paragraph (b)(5)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.90  NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and 
specifications, and flexible area action system.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (5) * * *

[[Page 5408]]

    (iii) Small-mesh multispecies in-season adjustment triggers. The 
small-mesh multispecies in-season accountability measure adjustment 
triggers are as follows:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             In-season
                                                            adjustment
                         Species                              trigger
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern Red Hake.......................................              90
Northern Silver Hake....................................              90
Southern Red Hake.......................................            40.4
Southern Silver Hake....................................              90
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2022-02000 Filed 1-31-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P