Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan, 8543-8558 [2022-03047]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules * * * * * Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2022–02544 Filed 2–14–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–C DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No.: 220207–0042] RIN 0648–BL13 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to approve and implement Framework Adjustment 34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan that establishes scallop specifications and other management measures for fishing years 2022 and 2023. Framework 34 would incorporate the new specificationssetting methodology and other changes developed by Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan into the 2022 fishing year specifications, as well implement measures for fishing years 2022 and 2023to protect small scallops, promote scallop recruitment in the mid-Atlantic, and reduce bycatch of flatfish. This action would also address regulatory text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. This action is necessary to prevent overfishing and improve both yield-per-recruit and the overall management of the Atlantic sea scallop resource. DATES: Comments must be received by March 2, 2022. ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the proposed measures in Framework Adjustment 34 and other considered alternatives and analyzes the impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. The Council submitted a draft of Framework 34 to NMFS that includes the draft EA, a description of the Council’s preferred lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 alternatives, the Council’s rationale for selecting each alternative, and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). Copies of the draft of Framework 34, the draft EA, the IRFA, and information on the economic impacts of this proposed rulemaking are available upon request from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950 and accessible via the internet in documents available at: https://www.nefmc.org/library/ framework-34-1. You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS—NOAA–NMFS–2022–0009, by either 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–2022–0009 in the Search box. Click on the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978–281–9233. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The scallop fishery’s management unit ranges from the shorelines of Maine through North Carolina to the outer boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), established in 1982, includes a number of amendments and framework adjustments that have revised and refined the fishery’s management. The New England Fishery Management Council sets scallop fishery catch limits and other management measures through specification or framework adjustments that occur annually or biennially. The Council adopted Framework 34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP on December 9, 2021. The Council submitted a draft of the framework, including a draft EA, PO 00000 Frm 00110 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8543 for NMFS review and approval on January 3, 2022. This action proposes to approve and implement Framework 34, which establishes scallop specifications and other measures for fishing years 2022 and 2023, including changes to the catch, effort, and quota allocations and adjustments to the rotational area management program for fishing year 2022 and management measures to reduce bycatch of flatfish, and default specifications for fishing year 2023, as recommended by the Council. On January 12, 2022, NMFS published Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP (87 FR 1688). Amendment 21 makes several changes to the management of the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) and limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) components. Framework 34 would incorporate the new specifications-setting methodology and other changes developed in Amendment 21 into the 2022 fishing year 2022. NMFS will implement these Framework 34 measures, if approved, as close as possible to the April 1 start of fishing year 2022. If NMFS implements these measures after the start of the fishing year, the default allocation measures currently established for fishing year 2022 will go into place on April 1, 2022. The Council reviewed the proposed regulations in this rule as drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Specification of Scallop Overfishing Limit (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Annual Catch Limits (ACL), Annual Catch Targets (ACT), Annual Projected Landings (APL) and Set-Asides for the 2022 Fishing Year, and Default Specifications for Fishing Year 2023 The Council set the proposed OFL based on a fishing mortality (F) of 0.61, equivalent to the F threshold updated through the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s most recent scallop benchmark stock assessment that was completed in September 2020. The proposed ABC and the equivalent total ACL for each fishing year are based on an F of 0.45, which is the F associated with a 25-percent probability of exceeding the OFL. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) recommended scallop fishery ABCs of 56.7 million lb (25,724 mt) for 2022 and 51.1 million lb (23,200 mt) for the 2023 fishing year, after accounting for discards and incidental mortality. The SSC will reevaluate and E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8544 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules potentially adjust the ABC for 2023 when the Council develops the next framework adjustment. Table 1 outlines the proposed scallop fishery catch limits. After deducting the incidental target total allowable catch (TAC), the research set-aside (RSA), and the observer set-aside, the remaining ACL available to the fishery is allocated according to the following fleet proportions established in Amendment 11 to the FMP (72 FR 20090; April 14, 2008): 94.5 percent is allocated to the limited access scallop fleet (i.e., the larger ‘‘trip boat’’ fleet); 5 percent is allocated to the limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) fleet (i.e., the smaller ‘‘day boat’’ fleet); and the remaining 0.5 percent is allocated to limited access scallop vessels that also have LAGC IFQ permits. Amendment 15 to the FMP (76 FR 43746; July 21, 2011) specified that no buffers to account for management uncertainty are necessary in setting the LAGC ACLs, meaning that the LAGC ACL is equal to the LAGC ACT. For the limited access fleet, the management uncertainty buffer is based on the F associated with a 75-percent probability of remaining below the F associated with ABC/ACL, which, using the updated Fs applied to the ABC/ACL, now results in an F of 0.39. Amendment 21 to the FMP modified the ACL flowchart to account for the scallop biomass in the NGOM as part of the legal limits in the fishery by adding biomass from the area into calculations of the OFL and ABC. This action moved the accounting of the NGOM ACL from only within the OFL into the OFL and ABC/ACL for the entire fishery. In addition, Amendment 21 created the NGOM Set-Aside to support a directed LAGC fishery (including NGOM and LAGC IFQ permitted vessels) in the NGOM Management Area. TABLE 1—SCALLOP CATCH LIMITS (mt) FOR FISHING YEARS 2022 AND 2023 FOR THE LIMITED ACCESS AND LAGC IFQ FLEETS 2022 (mt) Catch limits ABC/ACL (discards removed) ................................................................................................................................. Incidental Landings .................................................................................................................................................. RSA .......................................................................................................................................................................... Observer Set-Aside ................................................................................................................................................. ACL for fishery ......................................................................................................................................................... Limited Access ACL ................................................................................................................................................ LAGC Total ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... LAGC IFQ ACL (5 percent of ACL) ......................................................................................................................... Limited Access with LAGC IFQ ACL (0.5 percent of ACL) .................................................................................... Limited Access ACT ................................................................................................................................................ NGOM Set-Aside ..................................................................................................................................................... APL (after set-asides removed) ............................................................................................................................... Limited Access APL (94.5 percent of APL) ............................................................................................................. Total IFQ Annual Allocation (5.5 percent of APL) 2 ................................................................................................ LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (5 percent of APL) 2 .................................................................................................. Limited Access with LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (0.5 percent of APL) 2 ............................................................. ABC/ACL (discards removed) ................................................................................................................................. 25,724 23 578 257 24,865 23,498 1,368 1,243 124 20,365 282 14,251 13,467 784 713 71 25,724 2023 (mt) 1 23,200 23 578 232 22,367 21,137 1,230 1,118 112 18,318 221 (1) (1) 588 534 53 23,200 1 The catch limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. This includes the setting of an APL for 2023 that will be based on the 2022 annual scallop surveys. 2 As a precautionary measure, the 2023 IFQ and annual allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2022 IFQ Annual Allocations. This action would deduct 1.275 million lb (578 mt) of scallops annually for 2022 and 2023 from the ABC for use as the Scallop RSA to fund scallop research. Participating vessels are compensated through the sale of scallops harvested under RSA projects. Of the 1.275 million lb (578 mt) allocation, NMFS has already allocated 153,834 lb (69,778 kg) to previouslyfunded multi-year projects as part of the 2021 RSA awards process. NMFS is reviewing proposals submitted for consideration of 2022 RSA awards and will be selecting projects for funding in the near future. This action would also deduct 1 percent of the ABC for the industryfunded observer program to help defray the cost to scallop vessels that carry an observer. The observer set-aside is 257 mt for 2022 and 232 mt for 2023. The Council may adjust the 2023 observer set-aside when it develops specific, nondefault measures for 2023. Open Area Days-at-Sea (DAS) Allocations This action would implement vesselspecific DAS allocations for each of the three limited access scallop DAS permit categories (i.e., full-time, part-time, and occasional) for 2022 and 2023 (Table 2). Proposed 2022 DAS allocations are the same as those allocated to the limited access fleet in 2021. Framework 34 would set 2023 DAS allocations at 75 percent of fishing year 2022 DAS allocations as a precautionary measure. This is to avoid over-allocating DAS to the fleet in the event that the 2023 specifications action is delayed past the start of the 2023 fishing year. The proposed allocations in Table 2 exclude any DAS deductions that are required if the limited access scallop fleet exceeds its 2021 sub-ACL. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE 2—SCALLOP OPEN AREA DAS ALLOCATIONS FOR 2022 AND 2023 Permit category 2022 Full-Time .................................................................................................................................................................. Part-Time ................................................................................................................................................................. Occasional ............................................................................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00111 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 24.00 9.60 2.00 2023 (default) 18.00 7.20 1.50 8545 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 start of fishing year 2022, default DAS allocations, which were established in Framework Adjustment 33 to the Scallop FMP (86 FR 27042; May 19, 2021), would go into place on April 1. Full-time vessels would receive 18 DAS, part-time vessels would receive 7.20 DAS, and occasional vessels would receive 1.50 DAS. The allocations would later be increased in accordance with Framework 34, if approved. NMFS will notify all limited access permit holders of both default and Framework 34 DAS allocations so that vessel owners know what mid-year adjustments would occur should Framework 34 be approved and implemented after April 1, 2022. Changes to Fishing Year 2022 Sea Scallop Access Area Boundaries For fishing year 2022 and the start of 2023, Framework 34 would keep Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep Access Area (NLS–S–D), Closed Area II (CAII), and Closed Area I Access Area (CAI) open as access areas. However, Framework 34 will not allocate any additional landings from CAI for the limited access fleet (see below). Fishing Year 2022 Sea Scallop Closed Area Boundaries Framework 34 would keep the Closed Area II–East (CAII–E) Closed Area closed to scallop fishing. This action would also close the New York Bight Scallop Rotational Area (Table 3) to scallop fishing to optimize growth of the several scallop year classes within the closure area and to support scallop fishing in years following the 2022 fishing year. TABLE 3—NEW YORK BIGHT SCALLOP CLOSED AREA Point NYB1 NYB2 NYB3 NYB4 NYB1 N latitude ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ This action would also close the Nantucket Lightship-West (NLSW) Scallop Rotational Area (Table 4). The Council is proposing to close this area to support the growth of this year class W longitude 40°00′ 40°00′ 39°20′ 39°20′ 40°00′ 73°20′ 72°30′ 72°30′ 73°20′ 73°20′ of small scallops in the absence of fishing pressure. TABLE 4—NANTUCKET LIGHTSHIP-WEST SCALLOP CLOSED AREA Point NLSW1 NLSW2 NLSW3 NLSW4 NLSW5 NLSW6 NLSW1 N latitude ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... Mid-Atlantic Scallop Rotational Area Reverting to Open Area Framework 34 would revert the MidAtlantic Scallop Rotational Area (MAAA) to part of the open area. This area was previously managed as part of the area rotation program, but it no longer meets the criteria for either closure or controlled access. This area would become part of the open area and could be fished as part of the DAS program or on LAGC IFQ trips. Because fishing year 2021 carryover access area W longitude 40°43.44′ 40°43.44′ 40°43.44′ 40°20′ 40°20′ 40°26.63′ 40°43.44′ 70°20′ 70°00′ 69°30′ 69°30′ 70°00′ 70°20′ 70°20′ fishing will continue in the MAAA until May 30, 2022, this area would not revert to open area until May 31, 2022. Full-Time Limited Access Allocations and Trip Possession Limits for Scallop Access Areas Stellwagen Bank Scallop Rotational Area Reverting to NGOM Area Framework 34 would revert the Stellwagen Bank Scallop Rotational Area to part of the NGOM. This area was closed in 2020 to protect a substantial number of small scallops. Framework 34 would open this area to NGOM fishing because those small scallops have now been recruited into the fishery. Table 5 provides the proposed limited access full-time allocations for all of the access areas for the 2022 fishing year and the first 60 days of the 2023 fishing year. These allocations could be landed in as many trips as needed, so long as vessels do not exceed the possession limit (also in Table 5) on any one trip. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE 5—PROPOSED SCALLOP ACCESS AREA FULL-TIME LIMITED ACCESS VESSEL POUNDAGE ALLOCATIONS AND TRIP POSSESSION LIMITS FOR 2022 AND 2023 2023 Scallop allocation (default) Rotational access area Scallop possession limit 2022 Scallop allocation Closed Area II ................................................... Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep ...................... 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) per trip .. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) per trip .. 30,000 lb (13,608 kg) ............. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) ............... 15,000 lb (6,804 kg). 0 lb (0 kg). Total ........................................................... ................................................. 45,000 lb (20,412 kg) ............. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00112 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8546 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules Changes to the Full-Time Limited Access Vessels’ One-for-One Access Area Allocation Exchanges Framework 34 would allow full-time limited access vessels to exchange access area allocation in 7,500-lb (3,402kg) increments. The owner of a vessel issued a full-time limited access scallop permit would be able to exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into an access area for another full-time limited access vessel’s unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another access area. For example, a full-time vessel may exchange 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) from one access area for 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. Further, a fulltime vessel may exchange 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) from one access area for 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. One-for-one access area allocations for part-time limited access vessels must occur in the increments of a possession limit, i.e., 9,000 lb (4,082 kg). Part-Time Limited Access Allocations and Trip Possession Limits for Scallop Access Areas Table 6 provides the proposed limited access part-time allocations for all of the access areas for the 2022 fishing year and the first 60 days of the 2023 fishing year. These allocations could be landed in as many trips as needed, so long as the vessels do not exceed the possession limit (also in Table 6) on any one trip. TABLE 6—PROPOSED SCALLOP ACCESS AREA PART-TIME LIMITED ACCESS VESSEL POUNDAGE ALLOCATIONS AND TRIP POSSESSION LIMITS FOR 2022 AND 2023 Scallop possession limit 2022 Scallop allocation Closed Area II ................................................... Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep ...................... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per trip .... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per trip .... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) ................. 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) ................. 9,000 lb (4,082 kg). 0 lb (0 kg). Total ........................................................... ................................................. 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) ............... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg). Closed Area I Only for RSA and LAGC IFQ Trips Because of the limited amount of biomass in the CAI to support a full limited access trip, Framework 34 will not allocate any landings from CAI to the limited access fleet. CAI will only be available for the LAGC access area trips and RSA compensation fishing. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 2023 Scallop allocation (default) Rotational access area Payback Measures for 2022 Default Poundage Allocations in MAAA During the development of Framework 33 in 2020, the projected biomass in the MAAA was expected to be able to support a default trip in fishing year 2022. However, the 2021 scallop surveys observed an unexpected decrease in biomass in the MAAA and 2022 projections of exploitable biomass suggest that this area cannot support additional access area fishing in 2022. Framework 34 would not allocate effort into the MAAA, but instead would revert the MAAA to part of the open area. If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 start of fishing year 2022, default access area allocations, which were established in Framework 33 would go into place on April 1. Full-time vessels would receive 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) of MAAA allocation and part-time vessels would receive 7,200 lb (3,266 kg) of MAAA allocation. Because of this discrepancy, this action would set payback measures intended to disincentivize vessels from fishing in MAAA using 2022 default allocations. If Framework 34 implementation is delayed, and a vessel fishes any of its fishing year 2022 default MAAA allocation established through VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 Framework 33, that vessel would lose its CAII allocation established through Framework 34. This does not prohibit vessels from fishing the remainder of their fishing year 2021 MAAA allocation during the first 60 days of fishing year 2022. If Framework 34 is delayed, NMFS will notify all limited access permit holders of these payback measures and other fishing year 2022 default allocations. LAGC Measures 1. ACL and IFQ Allocation for LAGC Vessels with IFQ Permits. For LAGC vessels with IFQ permits, this action would implement a 1,368-mt ACL for 2022 and a 1,230-mt default ACL for 2023 (see Table 1). These sub-ACLs have no associated regulatory or management requirements but provide a ceiling on overall landings by the LAGC IFQ fleets. If the fleet were to reach this ceiling, any overages would be deducted from the following year’s sub-ACL. Framework 28 (82 FR 15155; March 27, 2017) changed the way the LAGC IFQ allocations are set from a direct percentage of the ACL to a percentage of the APL. The purpose of this change was to help ensure that the allocation of potential catch between the fleets is more consistent with the concept of spatial management by allocating catch to the LAGC IFQ fleet based on harvestable scallops instead of total biomass. Since Framework 28 was implemented in 2017, the LAGC IFQ allocation has been equal to 5.5 percent of the projected landings (5 percent for LAGC IFQ vessels and 0.5 percent for LAGC IFQ vessels that also have a limited access scallop permit). The PO 00000 Frm 00113 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 annual allocation to the LAGC IFQ-only fleet for fishing years 2022 and 2023 based on APL would be 713 mt for 2022 and 534 mt for 2023 (see Table 1). Each vessel’s IFQ would be calculated from these allocations based on APL. If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 start of the 2022 fishing year, the default 2022 IFQ allocations would go into place automatically on April 1, 2022. Because this action would implement IFQ allocations greater than the default allocations, NMFS will notify IFQ permit holders of both default 2022 and Framework 34 IFQ allocations so that vessel owners know what mid-year adjustments would occur should Framework 34 be approved. 2. ACL and IFQ Allocation for Limited Access Scallop Vessels with IFQ Permits. For limited access scallop vessels with IFQ permits, this action would implement a 124-mt ACL for 2022 and a default 112-mt ACL for 2023 (see Table 1). These sub-ACLs have no associated regulatory or management requirements, but provide a ceiling on overall landings by this fleet. If the fleet were to reach this ceiling, any overages would be deducted from the following year’s sub-ACL. The annual allocation to limited access vessels with IFQ permits would be 71 mt for 2022 and 53 mt for 2023 (see Table 1). Each vessel’s IFQ would be calculated from these allocations based on APL. 3. LAGC IFQ Trip Allocations for Scallop Access Areas. Framework 34 would allocate LAGC IFQ vessels a fleet-wide number of trips in CAI and NLS–S–D for fishing year 2022 and default trips in the CAI for fishing year E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8547 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 2023 (see Table 7). The scallop catch associated with the total number of trips for all areas combined (1,071 trips) for fishing year 2022 is equivalent to the 5.5 percent of total projected catch from access areas. TABLE 7—FISHING YEARS 2022 AND 2023 LAGC IFQ TRIP ALLOCATIONS FOR SCALLOP ACCESS AREAS Scallop access area 2023 1 2022 Closed Area I ........................................................................................................................................................... Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep ............................................................................................................................. 714 357 357 0 Total .................................................................................................................................................................. 1,071 357 1 The LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. 4. NGOM Scallop Fishery Landing Limits. This action proposes total allowable landings (TAL) in the NGOM of 661,387 lb (300,000 kg) for fishing year 2022 and 504,384 (228,785 kg) default NGOM TAL for fishing year 2023. This action would deduct 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) of scallops annually for 2022 and 2023 from the NGOM TAL to increase the overall Scallop RSA fund scallop research. In addition, this action would deduct 1 percent of the NGOM ABC from the NGOM TAL for fishing years 2022 and 2023 to support the industry-funded observer program to help defray the cost to scallop vessels that carry an observer (Table 8). Amendment 21 developed landing limits for all permit categories in the NGOM and established an 800,000-lb (362,874-kg) NGOM Set-Aside trigger for the NGOM directed fishery, with a sharing agreement for access by all permit categories for allocation above the trigger. Allocation above the trigger (i.e., the NGOM APL) will be split 5 percent for the NGOM fleet and 95 percent for limited access and LAGC IFQ fleets. Framework 34 would set an NGOM Set-Aside of 621,307 lb (281,820 kg) for fishing year 2022 and a default NGOM Set-Aside of 465,980 lb (211,365 kg) for fishing year 2023. Because the NGOM Set-Aside for fishing years 2022 and 2023 is below the 800,000-lb (362,874-kg) trigger, Framework 34 would not allocate any landings to the NGOM APL. Table 8 describes the breakdown of the NGOM TAL for the 2022 and 2023 (default) fishing years. TABLE 8—NGOM SCALLOP FISHERY LANDING LIMITS FOR FISHING YEAR 2022 AND 2023 2022 NGOM TAL ............................................................................. 1 percent NGOM ABC for Observers ..................................... RSA Contribution .................................................................... NGOM Set-Aside .................................................................... NGOM APL ............................................................................. 661,387 lb (300,000 kg) ........................ 15,080 lb (6,840 kg) .............................. 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) ............................ 621,307 lb (281,820 kg) ........................ 0 lb (0 kg) .............................................. 1 The 504,384 (228,785 kg). 13,404 (6,080 kg). 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). 465,980 lb (211,365 kg). landings limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. 5. Scallop Incidental Landings Target TAL. This action proposes a 50,000-lb (22,680-kg) scallop incidental landings target TAL for fishing years 2022 and 2023 to account for mortality from vessels that catch scallops while fishing for other species and ensure that F targets are not exceeded. The Council and NMFS may adjust this target TAC in a future action if vessels catch more scallops under the incidental target TAC than predicted. RSA Harvest Restrictions lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 2023 (1) Landings limits This action allows vessels participating in RSA projects to harvest RSA compensation from the NLS–S–D, CAI, CAII and the open area. However, to reduce bycatch of flatfish on Georges Bank, vessels may only harvest RSA compensation from Closed Area II from June 1, 2022, through August 14, 2022. All vessels are prohibited from harvesting RSA compensation pounds in all other access areas. Vessels are prohibited from fishing for RSA compensation in the NGOM unless the vessel is fishing an RSA compensation VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 trip using NGOM RSA allocation that was awarded to an RSA project. Finally, Framework 34 prohibits the harvest of RSA from any access areas under default 2023 measures. At the start of 2023, RSA compensation may only be harvested from open areas. The Council will re-evaluate this default prohibition measure in the action that would set final 2023 specifications. Regulatory Corrections Under Regional Administrator Authority This proposed rule includes three revisions to address regulatory text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. In addition, this proposed rule includes changes to regulatory text that would allow NMFS to implement measures developed in Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP for fishing year 2022. Specifically, these proposed changes would implement regulations that expand the scallop industry-funded observer program to monitor directed scallop fishing in the NGOM by using a portion of the NGOM allocation to offset monitoring costs. These revisions are PO 00000 Frm 00114 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 consistent with section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides authority to the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that amendments to an FMP are carried out in accordance with the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The first revisions, at § 648.11(k)(1), (k)(2)(i), (k)(2)(iii), (k)(5), (k)(5)(i), (k)(5)(i)(C), (k)(5)(ii), and (k)(6) would make changes to the require vessels fishing in the NGOM to participate in the observer program. Amendment 21 expanded the scallop industry-funded observer program to monitor directed scallop fishing in the NGOM by using a portion of the NGOM allocation to off-set monitoring costs. The second revision at §§ 648.53(a)(7) and 648.62(a)(3) would change the term ‘‘scallop incidental catch’’ to ‘‘scallop incidental landings’’ to more accurately describe the catch limit. The third revision at § 648.53(b) would clarify that DAS allocations are determined by applying estimates of open area landings per unit effort projected through the specifications or framework adjustment processes used to E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8548 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules set annual allocations and dividing that amount among vessels in the form of DAS calculated. Finally, in paragraphs § 648.59(a)(2) and (b)(3) the terms ‘‘scallop rotational closed area’’ and ‘‘scallop rotational access area’’ are added for consistency throughout the regulations. Classification NMFS is issuing this rule pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(A) of the MagnusonStevens Act, which provides specific authority for implementing this action. Pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Steven Act, this action is necessary to carry out the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP, because to allow NMFS to implement measures developed in Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP for fishing year 2022. The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment. This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. An IRFA has been prepared for Framework 34, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA references and incorporates as applicable, the Framework 34 analyses and the preamble to this proposed rule. A summary of the IRFA follows: Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered and Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed Rule This action proposes the management measures and specifications for the Atlantic sea scallop fishery for 2022, with 2023 default measures. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the Council’s Framework 34 document and the preamble of this proposed rule, and are not repeated here. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of the Proposed Rule This action contains no new collection-of-information, reporting, or recordkeeping requirements. This proposed rule does not require specific action on behalf of regulated entities other than to ensure they stay within the specifications that would be set. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:17 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap or Conflict With This Proposed Rule The proposed regulations do not create overlapping regulations with any state regulations or other Federal laws. Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule Would Apply The proposed regulations would affect all vessels with limited access and LAGC scallop permits, and there would be economic impacts to small entities. Those impacts are described in detail in the draft of Framework 34, specifically, in the IRFA (Section 7.2) and in the Economic and Social Impacts section (Section 6.6). Framework 34 (Section 5.6) provides extensive information on the number of vessels that would be affected by the proposed regulations, their home and principal state, dependency on the scallop fishery, and revenues and profits (see ADDRESSES). There were 316 vessels that held fulltime limited access permits in 2020, including 250 dredge, 55 small-dredge, and 11 scallop trawl permits. In the same year, there were also 30 part-time limited access permits in the sea scallop fishery. No vessels were issued occasional scallop permits in 2020. In 2019, NMFS reported that there were a total of 300 IFQ-only permits, with 212 issued and 88 in Confirmation of Permit History. There were a total of 110 NGOM permits issued in 2019. About 102 of the IFQ vessels and 47 NGOM vessels actively fished for scallops in fishing year 2020. The remaining IFQ permit holders likely leased out scallop IFQ allocations with their permits in Confirmation of Permit History. Section 6.6 of Framework 34 provides extensive information on the number and size of vessels that would be affected by the proposed regulations, their home and principal state, dependency on the scallop fishery, and revenues and profits (see ADDRESSES). For RFA purposes, NMFS defines a small business in a shellfish fishery as a firm that is independently owned and operated with receipts of less than $11 million annually (see 50 CFR 200.2). Individually permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different fishery management plans, even beyond those impacted by the proposed action. Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic dependency. For the purposes of this analysis, ‘‘ownership entities’’ are defined as those entities with common ownership as listed on the permit PO 00000 Frm 00115 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 application. Only permits with identical ownership are categorized as an ‘‘ownership entity.’’ For example, if five permits have the same seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit applications, those seven persons would form one ‘‘ownership entity,’’ that holds those five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own additional vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a separate ‘‘ownership entity’’ for the purpose of this analysis. On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are identified based on a list of all permits for the most recent complete calendar year. The current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2020 permits and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for calendar years 2018 through 2020. Matching the potentially impacted 2020 fishing year permits described above (limited access and LAGC IFQ) to calendar year 2020 ownership data results in 177 distinct ownership entities for the LA fleet and 89 distinct ownership entities for the LAGC IFQ fleet. Based on the Small Business Administration guidelines, 170 of the limited access distinct ownership entities and 89 LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as small. Seven limited access entities and no LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as large entities. There were 44 distinct small business entities with NGOM permits in 2020 permits. Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities The Council’s preferred alternative (Alternative 3, Sub-option 2) would allocate each full-time limited access vessel 24 open area DAS and 3 access area trips (i.e., 2 CAII trips at 15,000 lb (6,804 kg), 1 NLS–S–D trip at 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) amounting to 45,000 lb (20,412 kg) in fishing year 2022. This is estimated to result in about 31.42 million lb (15,613 mt) of landings after research and observer set-asides are accounted for. The limited access share of 94.5 percent is around 29.69 million lb (13,467 mt). The LAGC IFQ share (5.5 percent allocation for both IFQ-only and limited access vessels with IFQ permits) will be about 1.73 million lb (785 mt). Total landings, including set-asides to support research and observer coverage is projected to be about 34.04 million lb (15,440 mt) (Table 9). The preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3 in Framework 34 (see ADDRESSES)) is expected to have negative impacts on the net revenues and profits of small entities regulated by E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 this action in fishing year 2022 (Framework 34) compared to the fishing year 2021 (Framework 33) scenario. The decline in revenue per entity between fishing year 2021 levels and fishing year 2022 is a result of declining allocations between these two fishing years. Projected landings for limited access fleet are expected to decline by about 6 million lb (2,722 mt) in the Framework 34 preferred alternative compared to Framework 33 preferred alternative. As described in the Economic Impacts Section 6.6.1, and summarized in Table 10 below, fleetwide net revenue for the limited access vessels (including revenue from the LAGC IFQ vessels) would be lower for the preferred alternative in Framework 34 (Section 4.3.3.3) by about $50 million (in 2021 dollars) compared to the preferred alternative in Framework 33. Net revenue for limited access vessels in fishing year 2022 under the Framework 34 preferred alternative would be $0.29 million lower per entity as compared to Framework 33 preferred alternative in fishing year 2021. Thus, the preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3) would have 12.77 percent lower net revenue compared to the Framework 33 preferred alternative (Table 10). Under the preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3), allocations for the LAGC IFQ fishery, including the limited access vessels with IFQ permits, will be VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:17 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 about 17.5 percent lower than the allocation that was implemented for fishing year 2021 under Framework 33. In terms of net revenue, this difference is expected to be of similar magnitude and negative for the preferred alternative relative to fishing year 2021 levels. Therefore, the Framework 34 preferred alternative will have negative economic impacts on the LAGC IFQ fishery compared to fishing year 2021 levels (Table 11). The Council considered three NGOM TAL options for fishing year 2022 that ranged from 559,974 lb (254,003 kg) (Option 1) to 727,525 lb (330,003 kg) (Option 3). All three of the TAL options would result in higher revenues compared to No Action, which are default measures set in Framework 33 (74,000 lb (33,566 kg) TAC). The preferred alternative (Alternative 2, Option 2) would have a slightly higher TAL (661,387 lb (300,003 kg)) compared to the Alternative 2 Option 1, meaning that Option 2 would result in higher revenues than Option 1. When compared to No Action, the higher TAL of Option 2 would also result in higher revenues and economic benefits for entities in this fishery with an estimated increase in net revenues by about 762 percent compared to No Action (Table 12). Under the sharing arrangement approved for the NGOM Management PO 00000 Frm 00116 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 8549 Area in Amendment 21, Framework 34 would not allocate pounds to the LAGC IFQ or limited access components as part of the APL for fishing year 2022 because the NGOM set-aside did not exceed 800,000 lb (362,878 kg). Therefore, Alternative 2 would not have direct impacts on limited access component, which would receive 29.69 million lb (13,467 mt) allocation in Alternative 2. More research is planned for this area in 2022, which will help to increase the understanding of biomass in the NGOM management area. This will lead better management of the NGOM resource with positive biological and economic impacts over the longterm on both LAGC and limited access vessels. Economic impacts of Framework 34 preferred alternatives, including fishery specifications, access area trip allocations for the limited access and LAGC IFQ fisheries, NGOM measures, and other measures to reduce fishery impacts are expected to be negative for the scallop vessels and small business entities compared to the fishing year 2021 baseline implemented through Framework 33. We have determined that the preferred alternative is optimal because it would minimize risks associated with stock biomass uncertainties while protecting small scallops. BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 8550 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Values/RUN 4.3.2.1 I 4.3.2.2 I 4.3.2_2214.32 24 I 4.3.3.1 DAS DAS 4.3.3.2 I 4.3.3 22 DAS FW33 Preferred Alternative (in 2021 dollars) Frm 00117 -~' Landings Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM Landings evenue 15FEP1 -1 (76.15)$ 1$(29.08) I $(59.95) I mil I $ $(208.77) $(44.21) I $(76.45~$(28.86) I $ (60.06) * A negative sign indicates a lower value for a Framework 34 alternative compared to the Framework 33's preferred alternative. EP15FE22.028</GPH> $(50.31) I $(53.63) $- Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Table 9-Short-term Economic Impacts for Fishing Year 2022 Compared with Fishing Year 2021 (Framework 34's Preferred Alternative Projections): Estimated Landings (Mil. Lb), Revenues, Producer Surplus, and Total Economic Benefits (in 2021 current dollars, Mil. Dollars) lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Framework 34 Alternatives (Economic Values in million dollars (in 2021$) Unit Jkt 256001 4.3.1 4.3.2.1 4.3.2.2 4.3.2 22 DAS 4.3.2 24 DAS 4.3.3.1 4.3.3.2 4.3.3 22 DAS PO 00000 Frm 00118 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 Estimated scallop mil lb 19.941 31.667 36.030 33.151 34.606 31.650 36.043 33.142 APL landings 9.05 14.36 16.34 15.04 15.70 14.36 16.35 15.03 mil kg Estimated LA mil lb 16.37 27.45 31.57 28.85 30.23 27.43 31.58 28.84 scallop landings (94.5% mil kg 7.43 12.45 14.32 13.09 13.71 12.44 14.32 13.08 net of setasides) No. of Entities (Average in 177 177 177 177 177 177 177 177 Counts 2018-2020) both small andlarge Estimated $269.63 $409.61 $460.18 $427.02 $443.91 $409.33 $460.40 $426.91 revenues for mil scallop APL dollars Estimated LA revenues mil $221.31 $355.04 $403.23 $371.63 $387.72 $354.78 $403.44 $371.52 from scallop dollars Estimated Net Revenue for mil $251.783 $382.655 $428.790 $398.581 $413.997 $382.379 $429.007 $398.479 scallop APL dollars Estimated LA net revenue mil $206.66 $331.68 $375.73 $346.88 $361.59 $331.42 $375.93 $346.78 from scallop dollars Net scallop revenue per mil $1.168 $1.874 $2.123 $1.960 $2.043 $1.872 $2.124 $1.959 Entity dollars Percent change in net revenue Percent -49.35% -18.70% -7.91% -14.98% -11.37% -18.77% -7.86% -15.00% compared to SO (FW33) Note: Landings and net revenues net of set asides, such as research set aside scallop, etc. FW33's Preferred Alternative 4.3.3.3 (FW34Pref) 4.3.4 34.039 33.687 15.44 15.28 (in 2021$) 40.045 9.05 29.69 29.36 35.978 13.47 13.32 16.32 177 177 $437.37 $434.67 $381.49 $378.80 $425.74 $408.033 $405.121 $431.02 168 $473.87 $355.90 $353.05 $387.24 $2.011 $1.995 $2.305 -12.77% -13.47% 0.00% Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Table 10--Net Scallop Revenue for Limited Access Vessels in Fishing Year 2022 and Percent Change from the Fishing Year 2021 (revenues in 2021 dollars) 8551 EP15FE22.029</GPH> lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 8552 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00119 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 EP15FE22.030</GPH> Sections 4.3.1 4.3.2.1 4.3.2 22 DAS 4.3.2 24 DAS 4.3.2.2 4.3.3.1 4.3.3 4.3.3.3 22 (FW34 Pref.) DAS 4.3.3.2 4.3.4 FW33's Preferred Alternative Descriptions Allocation for lFQ only vessels (5%) Allocation for LA vessels with IFQ permits (0.5%) lb865,976 1,452,295 1,526,481 1,599,233 1,670,443 1,451,413 1,526,040 1,570,904 1,671,104 1,553,267 kg 392,804 658,757 692,407 725,407 757,708 658,357 692,207 712,557 758,008 704,557 lb 86,598 145,230 152,648 159,923 167,044 145,141 152,604 157,090 167,110 155,327 kg 39,281 65,876 69,241 72,541 75,771 65,836 69,221 71,256 75,801 70,456 lb 952,573 1,597,525 1,679,129 1,759,157 1,837,487 1,596,555 1,678,644 Total Allocation for IFQ fishery (5.5%) kg 432,084 724,633 Percent change in estimated landings (and expected revenue) per business entity from SQ (FW33 preferred alternative) -54.5% -23.7% 1,727,994 1,838,214 1,708,594 1,903,581 863,459 190,358 86,346 2,093,940 761,648 797,948 833,479 724,193 761,428 783,813 833,808 775,013 949,805 -19.8% -16.0% -12.2% -23.8% -19.8% -17.5% -12.2% -18.4% 0.0% Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Table 11--Impacts of the LAGC IFQ Allocation for 2022 Fishing Year lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Jkt 256001 Alternative 1 (No Action) PO 00000 Frm 00120 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 2022 Total Allowable Landings ■ l¾NGOM ABC for Observers ■ 2022 RSA Contribution ■ 2022 NGOM SetAside 15FEP1 Impacts of the NGOM Set-Aside: ■ Estimated LAGC revenue ■ DAS ■ Trip costs ($529 per DAS) ■ Net revenue ■ Net revenue net of No Action Alternative 2 Option 1 Option 2(Preferred) Option 3 (F=0.15) (F=0.18) (F=0.20) lb kg lb kg lb kg lb kg 74,000 33,566 559,974 254,003 661,387 300,003 727,525 330,003 - 15,080 6,840 15,080 6,840 15,080 6,840 2,000 907 25,000 11,340 25,000 11,340 25,000 11,340 72,000 32,659 519,895 235,823 621,307 281,823 687,446 311,823 - $925,560 $6,683,250 $7,986,901 $8,837,118 360 $190,404 2,599 $1,374,862 3,107 $1,643,046 3,437 $1,817,951 $735,156 $5,308,388 $6,343,855 $7,019,167 - $4,573,232 $5,608,699 $6,284,011 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 BILLING CODE 3510–22–C VerDate Sep<11>2014 Table 12-- Impacts of the Preferred Alternative 2 Option 2 and Other Alternatives for NGOM Scallop Fishery (2021 fishing year and monetary values in 2020 dollars) 8553 EP15FE22.031</GPH> 8554 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Dated: February 8, 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 proposed to be 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. Subpart A—General Provisions 2. In § 648.11, a. Revise paragraphs (k)(1) and (k)(2)(i); ■ b. Add paragraph (k)(2)(iii); ■ c. Revise paragraphs (k)(5) introductory text and (k)(5)(i) introductory text; ■ d. Add paragraph (k)(5)(i)(C); and ■ e. Revise paragraphs (k)(5)(ii) and (k)(6). The revisions and additions read as follows: ■ ■ § 648.11 Monitoring coverage. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 * * * * * (k) * * * (1) General. Unless otherwise specified, owners, operators, and/or managers of vessels issued a Federal scallop permit under § 648.4(a)(2), and specified in paragraph (a) of this section, must comply with this section and are jointly and severally responsible for their vessel’s compliance with this section. To facilitate the deployment of at-sea observers, all sea scallop vessels issued limited access, LAGC IFQ, and LAGC NGOM permits are required to comply with the additional notification requirements specified in paragraph (k)(2) of this section. When NMFS notifies the vessel owner, operator, and/ or manager of any requirement to carry an observer on a specified trip in either an Access Area, Open Area, or NGOM as specified in paragraph (k)(3) of this section, the vessel may not fish for, take, retain, possess, or land any scallops without carrying an observer. Vessels may only embark on a scallop trip without an observer if the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has received a waiver of the observer requirement for that trip pursuant to paragraphs (k)(3) and (k)(4)(ii) of this section. * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 (2) * * * (i) Limited access vessels. Limited access vessel owners, operators, or managers shall notify NMFS by telephone not more than 10 days prior to the beginning of any scallop trip of the time, port of departure, open area, NGOM, or specific Sea Scallop Access Area to be fished, and whether fishing as a scallop dredge, scallop trawl, or general category vessel. * * * * * (iii) LAGC vessels fishing NGOM. LAGC IFQ and NGOM vessel owners, operators, or managers must notify the NMFS by telephone by 0001 hr of the Thursday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that they intend to start a NGOM scallop trip and must include the port of departure. NMFS may select up to two trips to be covered by an observer during the specified week (Sun-Sat). The owner, operator, or vessel manager must notify NMFS of any trip plan changes at least 48 hr prior to vessel departure. * * * * * (5) Cost of coverage. Owners of scallop vessels shall be responsible for paying the cost of the observer for all scallop trips on which an observer is carried onboard the vessel, regardless of whether the vessel lands or sells sea scallops on that trip, and regardless of the availability of set-aside for an increased possession limit or reduced DAS accrual rate. The owners of vessels that carry an observer may be compensated with a reduced DAS accrual rate for limited access open area scallop trips or additional scallop catch per day for limited access Sea Scallop Access Area trips or additional catch per open area or access area trip for LAGC IFQ trips or additional catch per NGOM trip in order to help defray the cost of the observer, under the program specified in §§ 648.53 and 648.60. (i) Observer service providers shall establish the daily rate for observer coverage on a scallop vessel on an Access Area trip or open area DAS or IFQ trip or NGOM trip consistent with paragraphs (k)(5)(i)(A) and (B), respectively, of this section. * * * * * (C) NGOM scallop trips. For purposes of determining the daily rate in the NGOM for observed scallop trips on a limited access or LAGC vessel, regardless of the status of the industryfunded observer set-aside, a service provider may charge a vessel owner for no more than the time an observer boards a vessel until the vessel disembarks (dock to dock), where ‘‘day’’ is defined as a 24-hr period, and PO 00000 Frm 00121 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 portions of the other days would be prorated at an hourly charge (taking the daily rate divided by 24). For example, if a vessel with an observer departs on July 1 at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3 at 1 a.m., the time spent at sea equals 27 hr, which would equate to 1 day and 3 hr. (ii) NMFS shall determine any reduced DAS accrual rate and the amount of additional pounds of scallops on Sea Scallop Access Area, LAGC IFQ, and NGOM trips based on the economic conditions of the scallop fishery, as determined by best available information. Vessel owners and observer service providers shall be notified through the Small Entity Compliance Guide of any DAS accrual rate changes and any changes in additional pounds of scallops determined by the Regional Administrator to be necessary. NMFS shall notify vessel owners and observer providers of any adjustments. * * * * * (6) Coverage and cost requirements. When the available set-aside for observer coverage is exhausted, vessels shall still be required to carry an observer as specified in this section, and shall be responsible for paying for the cost of the observer, but shall not be authorized to harvest additional pounds or fish at a reduced DAS accrual rate. * * * * * Subpart D—Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery 3. In § 648.53, revise paragraphs (a)(7), (a)(9), (b)(1), and (b)(3) to read as follows: ■ § 648.53 Overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), annual projected landings (APL), DAS allocations, and individual fishing quotas (IFQ). (a) * * * (7) Scallop incidental landings target TAL. The annual incidental landings target TAL is the catch available for harvest for vessels with incidental catch scallop permits. This incidental catch target will be removed from the ABC/ ACL defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section prior to establishing the limited access and LAGC IFQ sub-ACLs and sub-ACTs defined in paragraphs (a)(5) and (6) of this section. * * * * * (9) Scallop fishery catch limits. The following catch limits will be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years: E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules 8555 TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (a)(9)—SCALLOP FISHERY CATCH LIMITS 2022 (mt) Catch limits OFL .......................................................................................................................................................................... ABC/ACL (discards removed) ................................................................................................................................. Incidental Landings .................................................................................................................................................. RSA .......................................................................................................................................................................... Observer Set-Aside ................................................................................................................................................. NGOM Set-Aside ..................................................................................................................................................... ACL for fishery ......................................................................................................................................................... Limited Access ACL ................................................................................................................................................ LAGC Total ACL ...................................................................................................................................................... LAGC IFQ ACL (5 percent of ACL) ......................................................................................................................... Limited Access with LAGC IFQ ACL (0.5 percent of ACL) .................................................................................... Limited Access ACT ................................................................................................................................................ APL (after set-asides removed) ............................................................................................................................... Limited Access APL (94.5 percent of APL) ............................................................................................................. Total IFQ Annual Allocation (5.5 percent of APL) 2 ................................................................................................ LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (5 percent of APL) 2 .................................................................................................. Limited Access with LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (0.5 percent of APL) 2 ............................................................. 38,271 25,724 23 578 257 282 24,865 23,498 1,368 1,243 124 20,365 14,251 13,467 784 713 71 2023 (mt) 1 34,941 23,200 23 578 232 221 22,367 21,137 1,230 1,118 112 18,318 (1) (1) 588 534 53 1 The catch limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. This includes the setting of an APL for 2023 that will be based on the 2022 annual scallop surveys. The 2023 default allocations for the limited access component are defined for DAS in paragraph (b)(3) of this section and for access areas in § 648.59(b)(3)(i)(B). 2 As specified in paragraph (a)(6)(iii)(B) of this section, the 2023 IFQ annual allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2022 IFQ Annual Allocations. * * * * * (b) * * * (1) DAS allocations. DAS allocations shall be determined by distributing the portion of the limited access APL defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, as reduced by access area allocations defined in § 648.59, by applying estimates of open area landings per unit effort (LPUE) projected through the specifications or framework adjustment processes used to set annual allocations and dividing that amount among vessels in the form of DAS calculated. * * * * * (3) DAS allocations. The DAS allocations for limited access scallop vessels for fishing years 2022 and 2023 are as follows: TABLE 2 TO PARAGRAPH (b)(3)—SCALLOP OPEN AREA DAS ALLOCATIONS Permit category 2022 Full-Time .................................................................................................................................................................. Part-Time ................................................................................................................................................................. Occasional ............................................................................................................................................................... 24.00 9.60 2.00 2023 1 18.00 7.20 1.5 1 The DAS allocations for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. The 2023 DAS allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2022 allocation as a precautionary measure. * * * * * 4. In § 648.59, revise paragraphs (a)(2) and (3), (b)(3) introductory text, (b)(3)(i)(B), (b)(3)(ii), (c), (e), and (g)(3)(v) to read as follows: ■ lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 § 648.59 Sea Scallop Rotational Area Management Program and Access Area Program requirements. (a) * * * (2) Transiting a Scallop Rotational Closed Area. No vessel possessing scallops may enter or be in the area(s) specified in this section when those areas are closed, as specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in § 648.55, unless the vessel is transiting the area and the vessel’s fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2, or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the Closed Area VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 II-East Scallop Rotational Area, as defined in § 648.60(d), if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the area and the vessel’s fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. (3) Transiting a Scallop Rotational Access Area. Any sea scallop vessel that has not declared a trip into the Scallop Access Area Program may enter a Scallop Access Area, and possess scallops not caught in the Scallop Access Areas, for transiting purposes only, provided the vessel’s fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. Any scallop vessel that has declared a trip into the Scallop Area Access Program may not enter or be in another Scallop Access Area on the same trip except such vessel may transit another Scallop Access Area provided its gear is stowed and not available for immediate PO 00000 Frm 00122 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 use as defined in § 648.2, or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Area, as defined in § 648.60(b)(1), if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the area and the vessel’s fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2. * * * * * (b) * * * (3) Scallop Rotational Access Area Allocations— (i) * * * (B) The following access area allocations and possession limits for limited access vessels shall be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years: (1) Full-time vessels. (i) For a full-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and allocations are: E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8556 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (b)(3)(i)(B)(1)(i) 2023 Scallop allocation (default) Rotational access area Scallop possession limit 2022 Scallop allocation Closed Area II ................................................... Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep ...................... 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) per trip .. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) per trip .. 30,000 lb (13,608 kg) ............. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) ............... 15,000 lb (6,804 kg). 0 lb (0 kg). Total ........................................................... ................................................. 45,000 lb (20,412 kg) ............. 15,000 lb (6,804 kg). (ii) [Reserved] (2) Part-time vessels. (i) For a part-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and allocations are as follows: lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE 2 TO PARAGRAPH (b)(3)(i)(B)(2)(i) 2023 Scallop allocation (default) Rotational access area Scallop possession limit 2022 Scallop allocation Closed Area II ................................................... Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep ...................... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per trip .... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per trip .... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) ................. 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) ................. 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) 0 lb (0 kg) Total ........................................................... ................................................. 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) ............... 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) (ii) [Reserved] (3) Occasional limited access vessels. (i) For the 2022 fishing year only, an occasional limited access vessel is allocated 3,750 lb (1,701 kg) of scallops with a trip possession limit at 3,750 lb of scallops per trip (1,701 kg per trip). Occasional limited access vessels may harvest the 3,750 lb (1,701 kg) allocation from either the Nantucket LightshipSouth-Deep or Closed Area II Access Area. (ii) For the 2023 fishing year, occasional limited access vessels are allocated 1,250 lb (567 kg) of scallops in Closed Area II Access Area with a trip possession limit of 1,250 lb of scallops per trip (567 kg per trip). * * * * * (ii) Limited access vessels’ one-for-one area access allocation exchanges— (A) Full-time limited access vessels. (1) The owner of a vessel issued a fulltime limited access scallop permit may exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into one access area for another vessel’s unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another scallop access area. These exchanges may be made only in 7,500-lb (3,402-kg) increments. For example, a full-time vessel may exchange 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) from one access area for 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. Further, a fulltime vessel may exchange 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) from one access area for 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. In addition, these exchanges may be made only between vessels with the same permit category: A full-time vessel may not exchange allocations with a part-time vessel, and vice versa. Vessel VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 owners must request these exchanges by submitting a completed Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before the date on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. Exchange forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. Each vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to submit a completed Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional Administrator shall review the records for each vessel to confirm that each vessel has enough unharvested allocation remaining in a given access area to exchange. The exchange is not effective until the vessel owner(s) receive a confirmation in writing from the Regional Administrator that the allocation exchange has been made effective. A vessel owner may exchange equal allocations in 7,500-lb (3,402-kg) increments between two or more vessels of the same permit category under his/her ownership. A vessel owner holding a Confirmation of Permit History is not eligible to exchange allocations between another vessel and the vessel for which a Confirmation of Permit History has been issued. (2) [Reserved] (B) Part-time limited access vessels. The owner of a vessel issued a part-time limited access scallop permit may exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into one access area for another part-time vessel’s unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another scallop access area. These exchanges may be made only for the amount of the current trip possession limit, as specified in paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(2) of this section. For example, if the access area trip possession limit for part-time PO 00000 Frm 00123 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 limited access vessels is 9,000 lb (4,082 kg), a part-time limited access vessel may exchange no more or less than 9,000 lb (4,082 kg), from one access area for no more or less than 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) allocated to another vessel for another access area. In addition, these exchanges may be made only between vessels with the same permit category: A full-time limited access vessel may not exchange allocations with a parttime vessel, and vice versa. Vessel owners must request these exchanges by submitting a completed Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before the date on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. Exchange forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. Each vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to submit a completed Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional Administrator shall review the records for each vessel to confirm that each vessel has enough unharvested allocation remaining in a given access area to exchange. The exchange is not effective until the vessel owner(s) receive a confirmation in writing from the Regional Administrator that the allocation exchange has been made effective. A part-time limited access vessel owner may exchange equal allocations up to the current possession limit between two or more vessels under his/her ownership. A vessel owner holding a Confirmation of Permit History is not eligible to exchange allocations between another vessel and the vessel for which a Confirmation of Permit History has been issued. * * * * * E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8557 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules (c) Scallop Access Area scallop allocation carryover. With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in § 648.4(a)(2)(i)(J) for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over year, a limited access scallop vessel may fish any unharvested Scallop Access Area allocation from a given fishing year within the first 60 days of the subsequent fishing year if the Scallop Access Area is open, unless otherwise specified in this section. However, the vessel may not exceed the Scallop Rotational Area trip possession limit. For example, if a full-time vessel has 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) remaining in the Closed Area II Access Area at the end of fishing year 2021, that vessel may harvest those 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) during the first 60 days that the Closed Area II Access Area is open in fishing year 2022 (April 1, 2022 through May 30, 2023). * * * * * (e) Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Harvest in Scallop Access Areas. Unless otherwise specified, RSA may be harvested in any access area that is open in a given fishing year, as specified through a specifications action or framework adjustment and pursuant to § 648.56. The amount of scallops that can be harvested in each access area by vessels participating in approved RSA projects shall be determined through the RSA application review and approval process. The access areas open for RSA harvest for fishing years 2022 and 2023 are: (1) 2022: Nantucket Lightship-SouthDeep, Closed Area I, and Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Areas. (i) For fishing year 2022, vessels may only harvest RSA compensation from Closed Area II from June 1, 2022 through August 14, 2022. (ii) [Reserved] (2) 2023: No access areas. * * * * * (g) * * * (3) * * * (v) LAGC IFQ access area allocations. The following LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations will be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years: TABLE 3 TO PARAGRAPH (g)(3)(v)— Continued Scallop access area 2022 2023 1 Nantucket Lightship-SouthDeep .................. 357 0 Total ............... 1,071 357 1 The LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. * * * * * 5. In § 648.60, a. Revise paragraph (a); b. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2)(ii); and ■ c. Add paragraph (i). The revisions and additions read as follows: ■ ■ ■ § 648.60 Sea Scallop Rotational Areas. (a) New York Bight Scallop Rotational Area. The New York Bight Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight TABLE 3 TO PARAGRAPH (g)(3)(v) lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart Scallop access 2022 2023 1 depicting this area are available from area the Regional Administrator upon Closed Area I ........ 714 357 request): TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (a) Point NYB1 NYB2 NYB3 NYB4 NYB1 N latitude ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................................................................ * * * * * (i) Nantucket Lightship-West Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket Lightship-West Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated 40°00′ 40°00′ 39°20′ 39°20′ 40°00′ W longitude 73°20′ 72°30′ 72°30′ 73°20′ 73°20′ (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request): TABLE 9 TO PARAGRAPH (i) Point lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 NLSW1 NLSW2 NLSW3 NLSW4 NLSW5 NLSW6 NLSW1 N latitude ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................................................... * * * * * 6. In § 648.62, ■ a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2) and (3); ■ b. Remove and reserve paragraph (a)(4); ■ c. Revise paragraphs (a)(5) and (b); and ■ d. Remove paragraph (e). ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 The revisions read as follows: § 648.62 Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program. (a) * * * (2) Scallop landings by vessels issued NGOM permits shall be deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside, as defined in § 648.53(a)(8)(iii), and specified in PO 00000 Frm 00124 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 40°43.44′ 40°43.44′ 40°43.44′ 40°20′ 40°20′ 40°26.63′ 40°43.44′ W longitude 70°20′ 70°00′ 69°30′ 69°30′ 70°00′ 70°20′ 70°20′ paragraph (b)(1) of this section, when vessels fished all or part of a trip in the Federal waters portion of the NGOM. If a vessel with a NGOM scallop permit fishes exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, scallop landings from those trips will not be deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside. E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1 8558 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 31 / Tuesday, February 15, 2022 / Proposed Rules (3) Scallop landings by all vessels issued LAGC IFQ scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM scallop management area against the NGOM Set-Aside, as defined in § 648.53(a)(8)(iii), shall be deducted from NGOM Set-Aside specified in paragraph (b)(1) in this section. Scallop landings by LAGC IFQ scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from their respective scallop IFQs. Landings by vessels with incidental permits shall not be deducted from the NGOM total allowable catch specified in paragraph (b) of this section. * * * * * (5) Scallop landings by all vessels issued scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM under the scallop RSA program (as specified in § 648.56) shall be deducted from the overall RSA allocation. (b) NGOM Scallop Fishery Landings Limits. (1) The following landings limits will be effective for the NGOM for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years. TABLE 1 TO PARAGRAPH (b)(1) 2022 NGOM TAL ........................................................ 1 percent NGOM ABC for Observers ............... RSA Contribution ............................................... NGOM Set-Aside ............................................... NGOM APL ........................................................ 661,387 lb (300,000 kg) ................................... 15,080 lb (6,840 kg) ......................................... 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) ....................................... 621,307 lb (281,820 kg) ................................... 0 lb (0 kg). 1 The 504,384 (228,785 kg). 13,404 (6,080 kg). 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). 465,980 lb (211,365 kg). landings limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. (2) Unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the NGOM scallop management area and is transiting the NGOM scallop management area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2, no vessel issued an LAGC scallop permit pursuant to § 648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or land scallops in the NGOM scallop management area once the Regional Administrator has provided notification in the Federal Register that the NGOM Set-Aside in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section has been reached, unless the lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 2023 1 Landings limits VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Feb 14, 2022 Jkt 256001 vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in § 648.56 and has been allocated NGOM RSA pounds. Once the NGOM Set-Aside is reached, a vessel issued a NGOM permit may no longer declare a state-only NGOM scallop trip and fish for scallops exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, unless participating in the state waters exemption program as specified in § 648.54. A vessel that has not been issued a Federal scallop permit that fishes exclusively in state waters is not subject to the closure of the NGOM scallop management area. PO 00000 Frm 00125 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 (3) If the NGOM Set-Aside is exceeded, the amount of NGOM scallop landings in excess of the NGOM SetAside specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section shall be deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside for the subsequent fishing year, or, as soon as practicable, once scallop landings data for the NGOM management area is available. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2022–03047 Filed 2–14–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\15FEP1.SGM 15FEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 31 (Tuesday, February 15, 2022)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8543-8558]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-03047]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No.: 220207-0042]
RIN 0648-BL13


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Framework Adjustment 
34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to approve and implement Framework Adjustment 34 
to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan that establishes 
scallop specifications and other management measures for fishing years 
2022 and 2023. Framework 34 would incorporate the new specifications-
setting methodology and other changes developed by Amendment 21 to the 
Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan into the 2022 fishing year 
specifications, as well implement measures for fishing years 2022 and 
2023to protect small scallops, promote scallop recruitment in the mid-
Atlantic, and reduce bycatch of flatfish. This action would also 
address regulatory text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. This 
action is necessary to prevent overfishing and improve both yield-per-
recruit and the overall management of the Atlantic sea scallop 
resource.

DATES: Comments must be received by March 2, 2022.

ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council has prepared a 
draft environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the 
proposed measures in Framework Adjustment 34 and other considered 
alternatives and analyzes the impacts of the proposed measures and 
alternatives. The Council submitted a draft of Framework 34 to NMFS 
that includes the draft EA, a description of the Council's preferred 
alternatives, the Council's rationale for selecting each alternative, 
and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA). Copies of the 
draft of Framework 34, the draft EA, the IRFA, and information on the 
economic impacts of this proposed rulemaking are available upon request 
from Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management 
Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950 and accessible via the 
internet in documents available at: https://www.nefmc.org/library/framework-34-1.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS--
NOAA-NMFS-2022-0009, by either 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-2022-0009 in the Search box. 
Click on the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter 
or attach your comments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The scallop fishery's management unit ranges from the shorelines of 
Maine through North Carolina to the outer boundary of the Exclusive 
Economic Zone. The Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), 
established in 1982, includes a number of amendments and framework 
adjustments that have revised and refined the fishery's management. The 
New England Fishery Management Council sets scallop fishery catch 
limits and other management measures through specification or framework 
adjustments that occur annually or biennially. The Council adopted 
Framework 34 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP on December 9, 2021. The 
Council submitted a draft of the framework, including a draft EA, for 
NMFS review and approval on January 3, 2022. This action proposes to 
approve and implement Framework 34, which establishes scallop 
specifications and other measures for fishing years 2022 and 2023, 
including changes to the catch, effort, and quota allocations and 
adjustments to the rotational area management program for fishing year 
2022 and management measures to reduce bycatch of flatfish, and default 
specifications for fishing year 2023, as recommended by the Council.
    On January 12, 2022, NMFS published Amendment 21 to the Atlantic 
Sea Scallop FMP (87 FR 1688). Amendment 21 makes several changes to the 
management of the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) and limited access 
general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) components. 
Framework 34 would incorporate the new specifications-setting 
methodology and other changes developed in Amendment 21 into the 2022 
fishing year 2022.
    NMFS will implement these Framework 34 measures, if approved, as 
close as possible to the April 1 start of fishing year 2022. If NMFS 
implements these measures after the start of the fishing year, the 
default allocation measures currently established for fishing year 2022 
will go into place on April 1, 2022. The Council reviewed the proposed 
regulations in this rule as drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be 
necessary and appropriate as specified in section 303(c) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act).

Specification of Scallop Overfishing Limit (OFL), Acceptable Biological 
Catch (ABC), Annual Catch Limits (ACL), Annual Catch Targets (ACT), 
Annual Projected Landings (APL) and Set-Asides for the 2022 Fishing 
Year, and Default Specifications for Fishing Year 2023

    The Council set the proposed OFL based on a fishing mortality (F) 
of 0.61, equivalent to the F threshold updated through the Northeast 
Fisheries Science Center's most recent scallop benchmark stock 
assessment that was completed in September 2020. The proposed ABC and 
the equivalent total ACL for each fishing year are based on an F of 
0.45, which is the F associated with a 25-percent probability of 
exceeding the OFL. The Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) recommended scallop fishery ABCs of 56.7 million lb (25,724 mt) 
for 2022 and 51.1 million lb (23,200 mt) for the 2023 fishing year, 
after accounting for discards and incidental mortality. The SSC will 
reevaluate and

[[Page 8544]]

potentially adjust the ABC for 2023 when the Council develops the next 
framework adjustment.
    Table 1 outlines the proposed scallop fishery catch limits. After 
deducting the incidental target total allowable catch (TAC), the 
research set-aside (RSA), and the observer set-aside, the remaining ACL 
available to the fishery is allocated according to the following fleet 
proportions established in Amendment 11 to the FMP (72 FR 20090; April 
14, 2008): 94.5 percent is allocated to the limited access scallop 
fleet (i.e., the larger ``trip boat'' fleet); 5 percent is allocated to 
the limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota 
(IFQ) fleet (i.e., the smaller ``day boat'' fleet); and the remaining 
0.5 percent is allocated to limited access scallop vessels that also 
have LAGC IFQ permits. Amendment 15 to the FMP (76 FR 43746; July 21, 
2011) specified that no buffers to account for management uncertainty 
are necessary in setting the LAGC ACLs, meaning that the LAGC ACL is 
equal to the LAGC ACT. For the limited access fleet, the management 
uncertainty buffer is based on the F associated with a 75-percent 
probability of remaining below the F associated with ABC/ACL, which, 
using the updated Fs applied to the ABC/ACL, now results in an F of 
0.39. Amendment 21 to the FMP modified the ACL flowchart to account for 
the scallop biomass in the NGOM as part of the legal limits in the 
fishery by adding biomass from the area into calculations of the OFL 
and ABC. This action moved the accounting of the NGOM ACL from only 
within the OFL into the OFL and ABC/ACL for the entire fishery. In 
addition, Amendment 21 created the NGOM Set-Aside to support a directed 
LAGC fishery (including NGOM and LAGC IFQ permitted vessels) in the 
NGOM Management Area.

 Table 1--Scallop Catch Limits (mt) for Fishing Years 2022 and 2023 for
                 the Limited Access and LAGC IFQ Fleets
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Catch limits                   2022 (mt)     2023 (mt) \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC/ACL (discards removed)..............          25,724          23,200
Incidental Landings.....................              23              23
RSA.....................................             578             578
Observer Set-Aside......................             257             232
ACL for fishery.........................          24,865          22,367
Limited Access ACL......................          23,498          21,137
LAGC Total ACL..........................           1,368           1,230
LAGC IFQ ACL (5 percent of ACL).........           1,243           1,118
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ ACL (0.5                124             112
 percent of ACL)........................
Limited Access ACT......................          20,365          18,318
NGOM Set-Aside..........................             282             221
APL (after set-asides removed)..........          14,251             (1)
Limited Access APL (94.5 percent of APL)          13,467             (1)
Total IFQ Annual Allocation (5.5 percent             784             588
 of APL) \2\............................
LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (5 percent of             713             534
 APL) \2\...............................
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ Annual                   71              53
 Allocation (0.5 percent of APL) \2\....
ABC/ACL (discards removed)..............          25,724          23,200
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The catch limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change
  through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. This
  includes the setting of an APL for 2023 that will be based on the 2022
  annual scallop surveys.
\2\ As a precautionary measure, the 2023 IFQ and annual allocations are
  set at 75 percent of the 2022 IFQ Annual Allocations.

    This action would deduct 1.275 million lb (578 mt) of scallops 
annually for 2022 and 2023 from the ABC for use as the Scallop RSA to 
fund scallop research. Participating vessels are compensated through 
the sale of scallops harvested under RSA projects. Of the 1.275 million 
lb (578 mt) allocation, NMFS has already allocated 153,834 lb (69,778 
kg) to previously-funded multi-year projects as part of the 2021 RSA 
awards process. NMFS is reviewing proposals submitted for consideration 
of 2022 RSA awards and will be selecting projects for funding in the 
near future.
    This action would also deduct 1 percent of the ABC for the 
industry-funded observer program to help defray the cost to scallop 
vessels that carry an observer. The observer set-aside is 257 mt for 
2022 and 232 mt for 2023. The Council may adjust the 2023 observer set-
aside when it develops specific, non-default measures for 2023.

Open Area Days-at-Sea (DAS) Allocations

    This action would implement vessel-specific DAS allocations for 
each of the three limited access scallop DAS permit categories (i.e., 
full-time, part-time, and occasional) for 2022 and 2023 (Table 2). 
Proposed 2022 DAS allocations are the same as those allocated to the 
limited access fleet in 2021. Framework 34 would set 2023 DAS 
allocations at 75 percent of fishing year 2022 DAS allocations as a 
precautionary measure. This is to avoid over-allocating DAS to the 
fleet in the event that the 2023 specifications action is delayed past 
the start of the 2023 fishing year. The proposed allocations in Table 2 
exclude any DAS deductions that are required if the limited access 
scallop fleet exceeds its 2021 sub-ACL.

      Table 2--Scallop Open Area DAS Allocations for 2022 and 2023
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2023
             Permit category                   2022          (default)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Full-Time...............................           24.00           18.00
Part-Time...............................            9.60            7.20
Occasional..............................            2.00            1.50
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 8545]]

    If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 
start of fishing year 2022, default DAS allocations, which were 
established in Framework Adjustment 33 to the Scallop FMP (86 FR 27042; 
May 19, 2021), would go into place on April 1. Full-time vessels would 
receive 18 DAS, part-time vessels would receive 7.20 DAS, and 
occasional vessels would receive 1.50 DAS. The allocations would later 
be increased in accordance with Framework 34, if approved. NMFS will 
notify all limited access permit holders of both default and Framework 
34 DAS allocations so that vessel owners know what mid-year adjustments 
would occur should Framework 34 be approved and implemented after April 
1, 2022.

Changes to Fishing Year 2022 Sea Scallop Access Area Boundaries

    For fishing year 2022 and the start of 2023, Framework 34 would 
keep Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep Access Area (NLS-S-D), Closed Area 
II (CAII), and Closed Area I Access Area (CAI) open as access areas. 
However, Framework 34 will not allocate any additional landings from 
CAI for the limited access fleet (see below).

Fishing Year 2022 Sea Scallop Closed Area Boundaries

    Framework 34 would keep the Closed Area II-East (CAII-E) Closed 
Area closed to scallop fishing. This action would also close the New 
York Bight Scallop Rotational Area (Table 3) to scallop fishing to 
optimize growth of the several scallop year classes within the closure 
area and to support scallop fishing in years following the 2022 fishing 
year.

               Table 3--New York Bight Scallop Closed Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NYB1....................................      40[deg]00'      73[deg]20'
NYB2....................................      40[deg]00'      72[deg]30'
NYB3....................................      39[deg]20'      72[deg]30'
NYB4....................................      39[deg]20'      73[deg]20'
NYB1....................................      40[deg]00'      73[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This action would also close the Nantucket Lightship-West (NLSW) 
Scallop Rotational Area (Table 4). The Council is proposing to close 
this area to support the growth of this year class of small scallops in 
the absence of fishing pressure.

          Table 4--Nantucket Lightship-West Scallop Closed Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NLSW1...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]20'
NLSW2...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]00'
NLSW3...................................   40[deg]43.44'      69[deg]30'
NLSW4...................................      40[deg]20'      69[deg]30'
NLSW5...................................      40[deg]20'      70[deg]00'
NLSW6...................................   40[deg]26.63'      70[deg]20'
NLSW1...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mid-Atlantic Scallop Rotational Area Reverting to Open Area

    Framework 34 would revert the Mid-Atlantic Scallop Rotational Area 
(MAAA) to part of the open area. This area was previously managed as 
part of the area rotation program, but it no longer meets the criteria 
for either closure or controlled access. This area would become part of 
the open area and could be fished as part of the DAS program or on LAGC 
IFQ trips. Because fishing year 2021 carryover access area fishing will 
continue in the MAAA until May 30, 2022, this area would not revert to 
open area until May 31, 2022.

Stellwagen Bank Scallop Rotational Area Reverting to NGOM Area

    Framework 34 would revert the Stellwagen Bank Scallop Rotational 
Area to part of the NGOM. This area was closed in 2020 to protect a 
substantial number of small scallops. Framework 34 would open this area 
to NGOM fishing because those small scallops have now been recruited 
into the fishery.

Full-Time Limited Access Allocations and Trip Possession Limits for 
Scallop Access Areas

    Table 5 provides the proposed limited access full-time allocations 
for all of the access areas for the 2022 fishing year and the first 60 
days of the 2023 fishing year. These allocations could be landed in as 
many trips as needed, so long as vessels do not exceed the possession 
limit (also in Table 5) on any one trip.

 Table 5--Proposed Scallop Access Area Full-Time Limited Access Vessel Poundage Allocations and Trip Possession
                                            Limits for 2022 and 2023
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Scallop possession                             2023 Scallop allocation
        Rotational access area                  limit           2022 Scallop allocation         (default)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area II.......................  15,000 lb (6,804 kg)     30,000 lb (13,608 kg)..  15,000 lb (6,804 kg).
                                        per trip.
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep.......  15,000 lb (6,804 kg)     15,000 lb (6,804 kg)...  0 lb (0 kg).
                                        per trip.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................  .......................  45,000 lb (20,412 kg)..  15,000 lb (6,804 kg).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 8546]]

Changes to the Full-Time Limited Access Vessels' One-for-One Access 
Area Allocation Exchanges

    Framework 34 would allow full-time limited access vessels to 
exchange access area allocation in 7,500-lb (3,402-kg) increments. The 
owner of a vessel issued a full-time limited access scallop permit 
would be able to exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into an 
access area for another full-time limited access vessel's unharvested 
scallop pounds allocated into another access area. For example, a full-
time vessel may exchange 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) from one access area for 
7,500 lb (3,402 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another 
access area. Further, a full-time vessel may exchange 15,000 lb (6,804 
kg) from one access area for 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) allocated to another 
full-time vessel for another access area. One-for-one access area 
allocations for part-time limited access vessels must occur in the 
increments of a possession limit, i.e., 9,000 lb (4,082 kg).

Part-Time Limited Access Allocations and Trip Possession Limits for 
Scallop Access Areas

    Table 6 provides the proposed limited access part-time allocations 
for all of the access areas for the 2022 fishing year and the first 60 
days of the 2023 fishing year. These allocations could be landed in as 
many trips as needed, so long as the vessels do not exceed the 
possession limit (also in Table 6) on any one trip.

 Table 6--Proposed Scallop Access Area Part-Time Limited Access Vessel Poundage Allocations and Trip Possession
                                            Limits for 2022 and 2023
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Scallop possession                             2023 Scallop allocation
        Rotational access area                  limit           2022 Scallop allocation         (default)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area II.......................  9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)....  9,000 lb (4,082 kg).
                                        trip.
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep.......  9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)....  0 lb (0 kg).
                                        trip.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................  .......................  18,000 lb (8,165 kg)...  9,000 lb (4,082 kg).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Closed Area I Only for RSA and LAGC IFQ Trips

    Because of the limited amount of biomass in the CAI to support a 
full limited access trip, Framework 34 will not allocate any landings 
from CAI to the limited access fleet. CAI will only be available for 
the LAGC access area trips and RSA compensation fishing.

Payback Measures for 2022 Default Poundage Allocations in MAAA

    During the development of Framework 33 in 2020, the projected 
biomass in the MAAA was expected to be able to support a default trip 
in fishing year 2022. However, the 2021 scallop surveys observed an 
unexpected decrease in biomass in the MAAA and 2022 projections of 
exploitable biomass suggest that this area cannot support additional 
access area fishing in 2022. Framework 34 would not allocate effort 
into the MAAA, but instead would revert the MAAA to part of the open 
area. If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 
start of fishing year 2022, default access area allocations, which were 
established in Framework 33 would go into place on April 1. Full-time 
vessels would receive 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) of MAAA allocation and part-
time vessels would receive 7,200 lb (3,266 kg) of MAAA allocation. 
Because of this discrepancy, this action would set payback measures 
intended to disincentivize vessels from fishing in MAAA using 2022 
default allocations.
    If Framework 34 implementation is delayed, and a vessel fishes any 
of its fishing year 2022 default MAAA allocation established through 
Framework 33, that vessel would lose its CAII allocation established 
through Framework 34. This does not prohibit vessels from fishing the 
remainder of their fishing year 2021 MAAA allocation during the first 
60 days of fishing year 2022. If Framework 34 is delayed, NMFS will 
notify all limited access permit holders of these payback measures and 
other fishing year 2022 default allocations.

LAGC Measures

    1. ACL and IFQ Allocation for LAGC Vessels with IFQ Permits. For 
LAGC vessels with IFQ permits, this action would implement a 1,368-mt 
ACL for 2022 and a 1,230-mt default ACL for 2023 (see Table 1). These 
sub-ACLs have no associated regulatory or management requirements but 
provide a ceiling on overall landings by the LAGC IFQ fleets. If the 
fleet were to reach this ceiling, any overages would be deducted from 
the following year's sub-ACL. Framework 28 (82 FR 15155; March 27, 
2017) changed the way the LAGC IFQ allocations are set from a direct 
percentage of the ACL to a percentage of the APL. The purpose of this 
change was to help ensure that the allocation of potential catch 
between the fleets is more consistent with the concept of spatial 
management by allocating catch to the LAGC IFQ fleet based on 
harvestable scallops instead of total biomass. Since Framework 28 was 
implemented in 2017, the LAGC IFQ allocation has been equal to 5.5 
percent of the projected landings (5 percent for LAGC IFQ vessels and 
0.5 percent for LAGC IFQ vessels that also have a limited access 
scallop permit). The annual allocation to the LAGC IFQ-only fleet for 
fishing years 2022 and 2023 based on APL would be 713 mt for 2022 and 
534 mt for 2023 (see Table 1). Each vessel's IFQ would be calculated 
from these allocations based on APL.
    If NMFS implements these Framework 34 measures after the April 1 
start of the 2022 fishing year, the default 2022 IFQ allocations would 
go into place automatically on April 1, 2022. Because this action would 
implement IFQ allocations greater than the default allocations, NMFS 
will notify IFQ permit holders of both default 2022 and Framework 34 
IFQ allocations so that vessel owners know what mid-year adjustments 
would occur should Framework 34 be approved.
    2. ACL and IFQ Allocation for Limited Access Scallop Vessels with 
IFQ Permits. For limited access scallop vessels with IFQ permits, this 
action would implement a 124-mt ACL for 2022 and a default 112-mt ACL 
for 2023 (see Table 1). These sub-ACLs have no associated regulatory or 
management requirements, but provide a ceiling on overall landings by 
this fleet. If the fleet were to reach this ceiling, any overages would 
be deducted from the following year's sub-ACL. The annual allocation to 
limited access vessels with IFQ permits would be 71 mt for 2022 and 53 
mt for 2023 (see Table 1). Each vessel's IFQ would be calculated from 
these allocations based on APL.
    3. LAGC IFQ Trip Allocations for Scallop Access Areas. Framework 34 
would allocate LAGC IFQ vessels a fleet-wide number of trips in CAI and 
NLS-S-D for fishing year 2022 and default trips in the CAI for fishing 
year

[[Page 8547]]

2023 (see Table 7). The scallop catch associated with the total number 
of trips for all areas combined (1,071 trips) for fishing year 2022 is 
equivalent to the 5.5 percent of total projected catch from access 
areas.

   Table 7--Fishing Years 2022 and 2023 LAGC IFQ Trip Allocations for
                          Scallop Access Areas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Scallop access area                 2022          2023 \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area I...........................             714             357
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep..........             357               0
                                         -------------------------------
    Total...............................           1,071             357
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations for the 2023 fishing year
  are subject to change through a future specifications action or
  framework adjustment.

    4. NGOM Scallop Fishery Landing Limits. This action proposes total 
allowable landings (TAL) in the NGOM of 661,387 lb (300,000 kg) for 
fishing year 2022 and 504,384 (228,785 kg) default NGOM TAL for fishing 
year 2023. This action would deduct 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) of scallops 
annually for 2022 and 2023 from the NGOM TAL to increase the overall 
Scallop RSA fund scallop research. In addition, this action would 
deduct 1 percent of the NGOM ABC from the NGOM TAL for fishing years 
2022 and 2023 to support the industry-funded observer program to help 
defray the cost to scallop vessels that carry an observer (Table 8).
    Amendment 21 developed landing limits for all permit categories in 
the NGOM and established an 800,000-lb (362,874-kg) NGOM Set-Aside 
trigger for the NGOM directed fishery, with a sharing agreement for 
access by all permit categories for allocation above the trigger. 
Allocation above the trigger (i.e., the NGOM APL) will be split 5 
percent for the NGOM fleet and 95 percent for limited access and LAGC 
IFQ fleets. Framework 34 would set an NGOM Set-Aside of 621,307 lb 
(281,820 kg) for fishing year 2022 and a default NGOM Set-Aside of 
465,980 lb (211,365 kg) for fishing year 2023. Because the NGOM Set-
Aside for fishing years 2022 and 2023 is below the 800,000-lb (362,874-
kg) trigger, Framework 34 would not allocate any landings to the NGOM 
APL. Table 8 describes the breakdown of the NGOM TAL for the 2022 and 
2023 (default) fishing years.

 Table 8--NGOM Scallop Fishery Landing Limits for Fishing Year 2022 and
                                  2023
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Landings limits                 2022             2023 \(1)\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NGOM TAL........................  661,387 lb          504,384 (228,785
                                   (300,000 kg).       kg).
1 percent NGOM ABC for Observers  15,080 lb (6,840    13,404 (6,080 kg).
                                   kg).
RSA Contribution................  25,000 lb (11,340   25,000 lb (11,340
                                   kg).                kg).
NGOM Set-Aside..................  621,307 lb          465,980 lb
                                   (281,820 kg).       (211,365 kg).
NGOM APL........................  0 lb (0 kg).......  ..................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The landings limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change
  through a future specifications action or framework adjustment.

    5. Scallop Incidental Landings Target TAL. This action proposes a 
50,000-lb (22,680-kg) scallop incidental landings target TAL for 
fishing years 2022 and 2023 to account for mortality from vessels that 
catch scallops while fishing for other species and ensure that F 
targets are not exceeded. The Council and NMFS may adjust this target 
TAC in a future action if vessels catch more scallops under the 
incidental target TAC than predicted.

RSA Harvest Restrictions

    This action allows vessels participating in RSA projects to harvest 
RSA compensation from the NLS-S-D, CAI, CAII and the open area. 
However, to reduce bycatch of flatfish on Georges Bank, vessels may 
only harvest RSA compensation from Closed Area II from June 1, 2022, 
through August 14, 2022. All vessels are prohibited from harvesting RSA 
compensation pounds in all other access areas. Vessels are prohibited 
from fishing for RSA compensation in the NGOM unless the vessel is 
fishing an RSA compensation trip using NGOM RSA allocation that was 
awarded to an RSA project. Finally, Framework 34 prohibits the harvest 
of RSA from any access areas under default 2023 measures. At the start 
of 2023, RSA compensation may only be harvested from open areas. The 
Council will re-evaluate this default prohibition measure in the action 
that would set final 2023 specifications.

Regulatory Corrections Under Regional Administrator Authority

    This proposed rule includes three revisions to address regulatory 
text that is unnecessary, outdated, or unclear. In addition, this 
proposed rule includes changes to regulatory text that would allow NMFS 
to implement measures developed in Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea 
Scallop FMP for fishing year 2022. Specifically, these proposed changes 
would implement regulations that expand the scallop industry-funded 
observer program to monitor directed scallop fishing in the NGOM by 
using a portion of the NGOM allocation to off-set monitoring costs. 
These revisions are consistent with section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, which provides authority to the Secretary of Commerce to 
promulgate regulations necessary to ensure that amendments to an FMP 
are carried out in accordance with the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. The first revisions, at Sec.  648.11(k)(1), (k)(2)(i), 
(k)(2)(iii), (k)(5), (k)(5)(i), (k)(5)(i)(C), (k)(5)(ii), and (k)(6) 
would make changes to the require vessels fishing in the NGOM to 
participate in the observer program. Amendment 21 expanded the scallop 
industry-funded observer program to monitor directed scallop fishing in 
the NGOM by using a portion of the NGOM allocation to off-set 
monitoring costs. The second revision at Sec. Sec.  648.53(a)(7) and 
648.62(a)(3) would change the term ``scallop incidental catch'' to 
``scallop incidental landings'' to more accurately describe the catch 
limit. The third revision at Sec.  648.53(b) would clarify that DAS 
allocations are determined by applying estimates of open area landings 
per unit effort projected through the specifications or framework 
adjustment processes used to

[[Page 8548]]

set annual allocations and dividing that amount among vessels in the 
form of DAS calculated. Finally, in paragraphs Sec.  648.59(a)(2) and 
(b)(3) the terms ``scallop rotational closed area'' and ``scallop 
rotational access area'' are added for consistency throughout the 
regulations.

Classification

    NMFS is issuing this rule pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(A) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides specific authority for 
implementing this action. Pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-
Steven Act, this action is necessary to carry out the Atlantic Sea 
Scallop FMP, because to allow NMFS to implement measures developed in 
Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP for fishing year 2022. The 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    An IRFA has been prepared for Framework 34, as required by section 
603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the 
economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small 
entities. The IRFA references and incorporates as applicable, the 
Framework 34 analyses and the preamble to this proposed rule. A summary 
of the IRFA follows:

Description of the Reasons Why Action by the Agency Is Being Considered 
and Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, This Proposed 
Rule

    This action proposes the management measures and specifications for 
the Atlantic sea scallop fishery for 2022, with 2023 default measures. 
A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal 
basis for this action are contained in the Council's Framework 34 
document and the preamble of this proposed rule, and are not repeated 
here.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements of the Proposed Rule

    This action contains no new collection-of-information, reporting, 
or recordkeeping requirements. This proposed rule does not require 
specific action on behalf of regulated entities other than to ensure 
they stay within the specifications that would be set.

Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap or Conflict With This 
Proposed Rule

    The proposed regulations do not create overlapping regulations with 
any state regulations or other Federal laws.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Would Apply

    The proposed regulations would affect all vessels with limited 
access and LAGC scallop permits, and there would be economic impacts to 
small entities. Those impacts are described in detail in the draft of 
Framework 34, specifically, in the IRFA (Section 7.2) and in the 
Economic and Social Impacts section (Section 6.6). Framework 34 
(Section 5.6) provides extensive information on the number of vessels 
that would be affected by the proposed regulations, their home and 
principal state, dependency on the scallop fishery, and revenues and 
profits (see ADDRESSES). There were 316 vessels that held full-time 
limited access permits in 2020, including 250 dredge, 55 small-dredge, 
and 11 scallop trawl permits. In the same year, there were also 30 
part-time limited access permits in the sea scallop fishery. No vessels 
were issued occasional scallop permits in 2020. In 2019, NMFS reported 
that there were a total of 300 IFQ-only permits, with 212 issued and 88 
in Confirmation of Permit History. There were a total of 110 NGOM 
permits issued in 2019. About 102 of the IFQ vessels and 47 NGOM 
vessels actively fished for scallops in fishing year 2020. The 
remaining IFQ permit holders likely leased out scallop IFQ allocations 
with their permits in Confirmation of Permit History. Section 6.6 of 
Framework 34 provides extensive information on the number and size of 
vessels that would be affected by the proposed regulations, their home 
and principal state, dependency on the scallop fishery, and revenues 
and profits (see ADDRESSES).
    For RFA purposes, NMFS defines a small business in a shellfish 
fishery as a firm that is independently owned and operated with 
receipts of less than $11 million annually (see 50 CFR 200.2). 
Individually permitted vessels may hold permits for several fisheries, 
harvesting species of fish that are regulated by several different 
fishery management plans, even beyond those impacted by the proposed 
action. Furthermore, multiple permitted vessels and/or permits may be 
owned by entities affiliated by stock ownership, common management, 
identity of interest, contractual relationships, or economic 
dependency. For the purposes of this analysis, ``ownership entities'' 
are defined as those entities with common ownership as listed on the 
permit application. Only permits with identical ownership are 
categorized as an ``ownership entity.'' For example, if five permits 
have the same seven persons listed as co-owners on their permit 
applications, those seven persons would form one ``ownership entity,'' 
that holds those five permits. If two of those seven owners also co-own 
additional vessels, that ownership arrangement would be considered a 
separate ``ownership entity'' for the purpose of this analysis.
    On June 1 of each year, ownership entities are identified based on 
a list of all permits for the most recent complete calendar year. The 
current ownership dataset is based on the calendar year 2020 permits 
and contains average gross sales associated with those permits for 
calendar years 2018 through 2020. Matching the potentially impacted 
2020 fishing year permits described above (limited access and LAGC IFQ) 
to calendar year 2020 ownership data results in 177 distinct ownership 
entities for the LA fleet and 89 distinct ownership entities for the 
LAGC IFQ fleet. Based on the Small Business Administration guidelines, 
170 of the limited access distinct ownership entities and 89 LAGC IFQ 
entities are categorized as small. Seven limited access entities and no 
LAGC IFQ entities are categorized as large entities. There were 44 
distinct small business entities with NGOM permits in 2020 permits.

Description of Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Action Which 
Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and Which 
Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities

    The Council's preferred alternative (Alternative 3, Sub-option 2) 
would allocate each full-time limited access vessel 24 open area DAS 
and 3 access area trips (i.e., 2 CAII trips at 15,000 lb (6,804 kg), 1 
NLS-S-D trip at 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) amounting to 45,000 lb (20,412 kg) 
in fishing year 2022. This is estimated to result in about 31.42 
million lb (15,613 mt) of landings after research and observer set-
asides are accounted for. The limited access share of 94.5 percent is 
around 29.69 million lb (13,467 mt). The LAGC IFQ share (5.5 percent 
allocation for both IFQ-only and limited access vessels with IFQ 
permits) will be about 1.73 million lb (785 mt). Total landings, 
including set-asides to support research and observer coverage is 
projected to be about 34.04 million lb (15,440 mt) (Table 9).
    The preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3 in Framework 34 (see 
ADDRESSES)) is expected to have negative impacts on the net revenues 
and profits of small entities regulated by

[[Page 8549]]

this action in fishing year 2022 (Framework 34) compared to the fishing 
year 2021 (Framework 33) scenario. The decline in revenue per entity 
between fishing year 2021 levels and fishing year 2022 is a result of 
declining allocations between these two fishing years. Projected 
landings for limited access fleet are expected to decline by about 6 
million lb (2,722 mt) in the Framework 34 preferred alternative 
compared to Framework 33 preferred alternative. As described in the 
Economic Impacts Section 6.6.1, and summarized in Table 10 below, 
fleetwide net revenue for the limited access vessels (including revenue 
from the LAGC IFQ vessels) would be lower for the preferred alternative 
in Framework 34 (Section 4.3.3.3) by about $50 million (in 2021 
dollars) compared to the preferred alternative in Framework 33. Net 
revenue for limited access vessels in fishing year 2022 under the 
Framework 34 preferred alternative would be $0.29 million lower per 
entity as compared to Framework 33 preferred alternative in fishing 
year 2021. Thus, the preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3) would have 
12.77 percent lower net revenue compared to the Framework 33 preferred 
alternative (Table 10).
    Under the preferred alternative (Section 4.3.3.3), allocations for 
the LAGC IFQ fishery, including the limited access vessels with IFQ 
permits, will be about 17.5 percent lower than the allocation that was 
implemented for fishing year 2021 under Framework 33. In terms of net 
revenue, this difference is expected to be of similar magnitude and 
negative for the preferred alternative relative to fishing year 2021 
levels. Therefore, the Framework 34 preferred alternative will have 
negative economic impacts on the LAGC IFQ fishery compared to fishing 
year 2021 levels (Table 11).
    The Council considered three NGOM TAL options for fishing year 2022 
that ranged from 559,974 lb (254,003 kg) (Option 1) to 727,525 lb 
(330,003 kg) (Option 3). All three of the TAL options would result in 
higher revenues compared to No Action, which are default measures set 
in Framework 33 (74,000 lb (33,566 kg) TAC). The preferred alternative 
(Alternative 2, Option 2) would have a slightly higher TAL (661,387 lb 
(300,003 kg)) compared to the Alternative 2 Option 1, meaning that 
Option 2 would result in higher revenues than Option 1. When compared 
to No Action, the higher TAL of Option 2 would also result in higher 
revenues and economic benefits for entities in this fishery with an 
estimated increase in net revenues by about 762 percent compared to No 
Action (Table 12).
    Under the sharing arrangement approved for the NGOM Management Area 
in Amendment 21, Framework 34 would not allocate pounds to the LAGC IFQ 
or limited access components as part of the APL for fishing year 2022 
because the NGOM set-aside did not exceed 800,000 lb (362,878 kg). 
Therefore, Alternative 2 would not have direct impacts on limited 
access component, which would receive 29.69 million lb (13,467 mt) 
allocation in Alternative 2. More research is planned for this area in 
2022, which will help to increase the understanding of biomass in the 
NGOM management area. This will lead better management of the NGOM 
resource with positive biological and economic impacts over the long-
term on both LAGC and limited access vessels.
    Economic impacts of Framework 34 preferred alternatives, including 
fishery specifications, access area trip allocations for the limited 
access and LAGC IFQ fisheries, NGOM measures, and other measures to 
reduce fishery impacts are expected to be negative for the scallop 
vessels and small business entities compared to the fishing year 2021 
baseline implemented through Framework 33. We have determined that the 
preferred alternative is optimal because it would minimize risks 
associated with stock biomass uncertainties while protecting small 
scallops.
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P

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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP15FE22.029


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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP15FE22.030


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BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

[[Page 8554]]

List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: February 8, 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 
proposed to be 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.

Subpart A--General Provisions

0
2. In Sec.  648.11,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (k)(1) and (k)(2)(i);
0
b. Add paragraph (k)(2)(iii);
0
c. Revise paragraphs (k)(5) introductory text and (k)(5)(i) 
introductory text;
0
d. Add paragraph (k)(5)(i)(C); and
0
e. Revise paragraphs (k)(5)(ii) and (k)(6).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  648.11   Monitoring coverage.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (1) General. Unless otherwise specified, owners, operators, and/or 
managers of vessels issued a Federal scallop permit under Sec.  
648.4(a)(2), and specified in paragraph (a) of this section, must 
comply with this section and are jointly and severally responsible for 
their vessel's compliance with this section. To facilitate the 
deployment of at-sea observers, all sea scallop vessels issued limited 
access, LAGC IFQ, and LAGC NGOM permits are required to comply with the 
additional notification requirements specified in paragraph (k)(2) of 
this section. When NMFS notifies the vessel owner, operator, and/or 
manager of any requirement to carry an observer on a specified trip in 
either an Access Area, Open Area, or NGOM as specified in paragraph 
(k)(3) of this section, the vessel may not fish for, take, retain, 
possess, or land any scallops without carrying an observer. Vessels may 
only embark on a scallop trip without an observer if the vessel owner, 
operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has received 
a waiver of the observer requirement for that trip pursuant to 
paragraphs (k)(3) and (k)(4)(ii) of this section.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Limited access vessels. Limited access vessel owners, 
operators, or managers shall notify NMFS by telephone not more than 10 
days prior to the beginning of any scallop trip of the time, port of 
departure, open area, NGOM, or specific Sea Scallop Access Area to be 
fished, and whether fishing as a scallop dredge, scallop trawl, or 
general category vessel.
* * * * *
    (iii) LAGC vessels fishing NGOM. LAGC IFQ and NGOM vessel owners, 
operators, or managers must notify the NMFS by telephone by 0001 hr of 
the Thursday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that they 
intend to start a NGOM scallop trip and must include the port of 
departure. NMFS may select up to two trips to be covered by an observer 
during the specified week (Sun-Sat). The owner, operator, or vessel 
manager must notify NMFS of any trip plan changes at least 48 hr prior 
to vessel departure.
* * * * *
    (5) Cost of coverage. Owners of scallop vessels shall be 
responsible for paying the cost of the observer for all scallop trips 
on which an observer is carried onboard the vessel, regardless of 
whether the vessel lands or sells sea scallops on that trip, and 
regardless of the availability of set-aside for an increased possession 
limit or reduced DAS accrual rate. The owners of vessels that carry an 
observer may be compensated with a reduced DAS accrual rate for limited 
access open area scallop trips or additional scallop catch per day for 
limited access Sea Scallop Access Area trips or additional catch per 
open area or access area trip for LAGC IFQ trips or additional catch 
per NGOM trip in order to help defray the cost of the observer, under 
the program specified in Sec. Sec.  648.53 and 648.60.
    (i) Observer service providers shall establish the daily rate for 
observer coverage on a scallop vessel on an Access Area trip or open 
area DAS or IFQ trip or NGOM trip consistent with paragraphs 
(k)(5)(i)(A) and (B), respectively, of this section.
* * * * *
    (C) NGOM scallop trips. For purposes of determining the daily rate 
in the NGOM for observed scallop trips on a limited access or LAGC 
vessel, regardless of the status of the industry-funded observer set-
aside, a service provider may charge a vessel owner for no more than 
the time an observer boards a vessel until the vessel disembarks (dock 
to dock), where ``day'' is defined as a 24-hr period, and portions of 
the other days would be pro-rated at an hourly charge (taking the daily 
rate divided by 24). For example, if a vessel with an observer departs 
on July 1 at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3 at 1 a.m., the time spent at 
sea equals 27 hr, which would equate to 1 day and 3 hr.
    (ii) NMFS shall determine any reduced DAS accrual rate and the 
amount of additional pounds of scallops on Sea Scallop Access Area, 
LAGC IFQ, and NGOM trips based on the economic conditions of the 
scallop fishery, as determined by best available information. Vessel 
owners and observer service providers shall be notified through the 
Small Entity Compliance Guide of any DAS accrual rate changes and any 
changes in additional pounds of scallops determined by the Regional 
Administrator to be necessary. NMFS shall notify vessel owners and 
observer providers of any adjustments.
* * * * *
    (6) Coverage and cost requirements. When the available set-aside 
for observer coverage is exhausted, vessels shall still be required to 
carry an observer as specified in this section, and shall be 
responsible for paying for the cost of the observer, but shall not be 
authorized to harvest additional pounds or fish at a reduced DAS 
accrual rate.
* * * * *

Subpart D--Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery

0
3. In Sec.  648.53, revise paragraphs (a)(7), (a)(9), (b)(1), and 
(b)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.53  Overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch 
(ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), annual 
projected landings (APL), DAS allocations, and individual fishing 
quotas (IFQ).

    (a) * * *
    (7) Scallop incidental landings target TAL. The annual incidental 
landings target TAL is the catch available for harvest for vessels with 
incidental catch scallop permits. This incidental catch target will be 
removed from the ABC/ACL defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section 
prior to establishing the limited access and LAGC IFQ sub-ACLs and sub-
ACTs defined in paragraphs (a)(5) and (6) of this section.
* * * * *
    (9) Scallop fishery catch limits. The following catch limits will 
be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years:

[[Page 8555]]



        Table 1 to Paragraph (a)(9)--Scallop Fishery Catch Limits
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Catch limits                  2022  (mt)    2023  (mt) \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.....................................          38,271          34,941
ABC/ACL (discards removed)..............          25,724          23,200
Incidental Landings.....................              23              23
RSA.....................................             578             578
Observer Set-Aside......................             257             232
NGOM Set-Aside..........................             282             221
ACL for fishery.........................          24,865          22,367
Limited Access ACL......................          23,498          21,137
LAGC Total ACL..........................           1,368           1,230
LAGC IFQ ACL (5 percent of ACL).........           1,243           1,118
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ ACL (0.5                124             112
 percent of ACL)........................
Limited Access ACT......................          20,365          18,318
APL (after set-asides removed)..........          14,251             (1)
Limited Access APL (94.5 percent of APL)          13,467             (1)
Total IFQ Annual Allocation (5.5 percent             784             588
 of APL) \2\............................
LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (5 percent of             713             534
 APL) \2\...............................
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ Annual                   71              53
 Allocation (0.5 percent of APL) \2\....
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The catch limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change
  through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. This
  includes the setting of an APL for 2023 that will be based on the 2022
  annual scallop surveys. The 2023 default allocations for the limited
  access component are defined for DAS in paragraph (b)(3) of this
  section and for access areas in Sec.   648.59(b)(3)(i)(B).
\2\ As specified in paragraph (a)(6)(iii)(B) of this section, the 2023
  IFQ annual allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2022 IFQ Annual
  Allocations.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) DAS allocations. DAS allocations shall be determined by 
distributing the portion of the limited access APL defined in paragraph 
(a)(3) of this section, as reduced by access area allocations defined 
in Sec.  648.59, by applying estimates of open area landings per unit 
effort (LPUE) projected through the specifications or framework 
adjustment processes used to set annual allocations and dividing that 
amount among vessels in the form of DAS calculated.
* * * * *
    (3) DAS allocations. The DAS allocations for limited access scallop 
vessels for fishing years 2022 and 2023 are as follows:

     Table 2 to Paragraph (b)(3)--Scallop Open Area DAS Allocations
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Permit category                   2022          2023 \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Full-Time...............................           24.00           18.00
Part-Time...............................            9.60            7.20
Occasional..............................            2.00             1.5
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The DAS allocations for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change
  through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. The
  2023 DAS allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2022 allocation as a
  precautionary measure.

* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  648.59, revise paragraphs (a)(2) and (3), (b)(3) 
introductory text, (b)(3)(i)(B), (b)(3)(ii), (c), (e), and (g)(3)(v) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  648.59  Sea Scallop Rotational Area Management Program and Access 
Area Program requirements.

    (a) * * *
    (2) Transiting a Scallop Rotational Closed Area. No vessel 
possessing scallops may enter or be in the area(s) specified in this 
section when those areas are closed, as specified through the 
specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in Sec.  
648.55, unless the vessel is transiting the area and the vessel's 
fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined 
in Sec.  648.2, or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such 
areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the 
Closed Area II-East Scallop Rotational Area, as defined in Sec.  
648.60(d), if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the 
area and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for 
immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2.
    (3) Transiting a Scallop Rotational Access Area. Any sea scallop 
vessel that has not declared a trip into the Scallop Access Area 
Program may enter a Scallop Access Area, and possess scallops not 
caught in the Scallop Access Areas, for transiting purposes only, 
provided the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for 
immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2. Any scallop vessel that has 
declared a trip into the Scallop Area Access Program may not enter or 
be in another Scallop Access Area on the same trip except such vessel 
may transit another Scallop Access Area provided its gear is stowed and 
not available for immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2, or there is 
a compelling safety reason to be in such areas without such gear being 
stowed. A vessel may only transit the Closed Area II Scallop Rotational 
Area, as defined in Sec.  648.60(b)(1), if there is a compelling safety 
reason for transiting the area and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed 
and not available for immediate use as defined in Sec.  648.2.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) Scallop Rotational Access Area Allocations--
    (i) * * *
    (B) The following access area allocations and possession limits for 
limited access vessels shall be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing 
years:
    (1) Full-time vessels.
    (i) For a full-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and 
allocations are:

[[Page 8556]]



                                     Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(1)(i)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Scallop possession                             2023 Scallop allocation
        Rotational access area                  limit           2022 Scallop allocation         (default)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area II.......................  15,000 lb (6,804 kg)     30,000 lb (13,608 kg)..  15,000 lb (6,804 kg).
                                        per trip.
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep.......  15,000 lb (6,804 kg)     15,000 lb (6,804 kg)...  0 lb (0 kg).
                                        per trip.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................  .......................  45,000 lb (20,412 kg)..  15,000 lb (6,804 kg).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (ii) [Reserved]
    (2) Part-time vessels.
    (i) For a part-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and 
allocations are as follows:

                                     Table 2 to Paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(2)(i)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Scallop possession                             2023 Scallop allocation
        Rotational access area                  limit           2022 Scallop allocation         (default)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area II.......................  9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)....  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)
                                        trip.
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep.......  9,000 lb (4,082 kg) per  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)....  0 lb (0 kg)
                                        trip.
                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................  .......................  18,000 lb (8,165 kg)...  9,000 lb (4,082 kg)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (ii) [Reserved]
    (3) Occasional limited access vessels.
    (i) For the 2022 fishing year only, an occasional limited access 
vessel is allocated 3,750 lb (1,701 kg) of scallops with a trip 
possession limit at 3,750 lb of scallops per trip (1,701 kg per trip). 
Occasional limited access vessels may harvest the 3,750 lb (1,701 kg) 
allocation from either the Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep or Closed 
Area II Access Area.
    (ii) For the 2023 fishing year, occasional limited access vessels 
are allocated 1,250 lb (567 kg) of scallops in Closed Area II Access 
Area with a trip possession limit of 1,250 lb of scallops per trip (567 
kg per trip).
* * * * *
    (ii) Limited access vessels' one-for-one area access allocation 
exchanges--
    (A) Full-time limited access vessels.
    (1) The owner of a vessel issued a full-time limited access scallop 
permit may exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into one 
access area for another vessel's unharvested scallop pounds allocated 
into another scallop access area. These exchanges may be made only in 
7,500-lb (3,402-kg) increments. For example, a full-time vessel may 
exchange 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) from one access area for 7,500 lb (3,402 
kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. 
Further, a full-time vessel may exchange 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) from one 
access area for 15,000 lb (6,804 kg) allocated to another full-time 
vessel for another access area. In addition, these exchanges may be 
made only between vessels with the same permit category: A full-time 
vessel may not exchange allocations with a part-time vessel, and vice 
versa. Vessel owners must request these exchanges by submitting a 
completed Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before 
the date on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. 
Exchange forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon 
request. Each vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to 
submit a completed Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional 
Administrator shall review the records for each vessel to confirm that 
each vessel has enough unharvested allocation remaining in a given 
access area to exchange. The exchange is not effective until the vessel 
owner(s) receive a confirmation in writing from the Regional 
Administrator that the allocation exchange has been made effective. A 
vessel owner may exchange equal allocations in 7,500-lb (3,402-kg) 
increments between two or more vessels of the same permit category 
under his/her ownership. A vessel owner holding a Confirmation of 
Permit History is not eligible to exchange allocations between another 
vessel and the vessel for which a Confirmation of Permit History has 
been issued.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (B) Part-time limited access vessels. The owner of a vessel issued 
a part-time limited access scallop permit may exchange unharvested 
scallop pounds allocated into one access area for another part-time 
vessel's unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another scallop 
access area. These exchanges may be made only for the amount of the 
current trip possession limit, as specified in paragraph 
(b)(3)(i)(B)(2) of this section. For example, if the access area trip 
possession limit for part-time limited access vessels is 9,000 lb 
(4,082 kg), a part-time limited access vessel may exchange no more or 
less than 9,000 lb (4,082 kg), from one access area for no more or less 
than 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) allocated to another vessel for another access 
area. In addition, these exchanges may be made only between vessels 
with the same permit category: A full-time limited access vessel may 
not exchange allocations with a part-time vessel, and vice versa. 
Vessel owners must request these exchanges by submitting a completed 
Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before the date 
on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. Exchange 
forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. Each 
vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to submit a completed 
Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional Administrator shall review 
the records for each vessel to confirm that each vessel has enough 
unharvested allocation remaining in a given access area to exchange. 
The exchange is not effective until the vessel owner(s) receive a 
confirmation in writing from the Regional Administrator that the 
allocation exchange has been made effective. A part-time limited access 
vessel owner may exchange equal allocations up to the current 
possession limit between two or more vessels under his/her ownership. A 
vessel owner holding a Confirmation of Permit History is not eligible 
to exchange allocations between another vessel and the vessel for which 
a Confirmation of Permit History has been issued.
* * * * *

[[Page 8557]]

    (c) Scallop Access Area scallop allocation carryover. With the 
exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as 
described in Sec.  648.4(a)(2)(i)(J) for the entire fishing year 
preceding the carry-over year, a limited access scallop vessel may fish 
any unharvested Scallop Access Area allocation from a given fishing 
year within the first 60 days of the subsequent fishing year if the 
Scallop Access Area is open, unless otherwise specified in this 
section. However, the vessel may not exceed the Scallop Rotational Area 
trip possession limit. For example, if a full-time vessel has 7,000 lb 
(3,175 kg) remaining in the Closed Area II Access Area at the end of 
fishing year 2021, that vessel may harvest those 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) 
during the first 60 days that the Closed Area II Access Area is open in 
fishing year 2022 (April 1, 2022 through May 30, 2023).
* * * * *
    (e) Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Harvest in Scallop Access Areas. 
Unless otherwise specified, RSA may be harvested in any access area 
that is open in a given fishing year, as specified through a 
specifications action or framework adjustment and pursuant to Sec.  
648.56. The amount of scallops that can be harvested in each access 
area by vessels participating in approved RSA projects shall be 
determined through the RSA application review and approval process. The 
access areas open for RSA harvest for fishing years 2022 and 2023 are:
    (1) 2022: Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep, Closed Area I, and Closed 
Area II Scallop Rotational Areas.
    (i) For fishing year 2022, vessels may only harvest RSA 
compensation from Closed Area II from June 1, 2022 through August 14, 
2022.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (2) 2023: No access areas.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (v) LAGC IFQ access area allocations. The following LAGC IFQ access 
area trip allocations will be effective for the 2022 and 2023 fishing 
years:

                     Table 3 to Paragraph (g)(3)(v)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Scallop access area                   2022      2023 \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Closed Area I...................................         714         357
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep..................         357           0
                                                 -----------------------
    Total.......................................       1,071         357
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations for the 2023 fishing year
  are subject to change through a future specifications action or
  framework adjustment.

* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  648.60,
0
a. Revise paragraph (a);
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2)(ii); and
0
c. Add paragraph (i).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  648.60  Sea Scallop Rotational Areas.

    (a) New York Bight Scallop Rotational Area. The New York Bight 
Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this 
area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

                        Table 1 to Paragraph (a)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NYB1....................................      40[deg]00'      73[deg]20'
NYB2....................................      40[deg]00'      72[deg]30'
NYB3....................................      39[deg]20'      72[deg]30'
NYB4....................................      39[deg]20'      73[deg]20'
NYB1....................................      40[deg]00'      73[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    (i) Nantucket Lightship-West Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket 
Lightship-West Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines 
connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart 
depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon 
request):

                        Table 9 to Paragraph (i)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Point                     N latitude      W longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NLSW1...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]20'
NLSW2...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]00'
NLSW3...................................   40[deg]43.44'      69[deg]30'
NLSW4...................................      40[deg]20'      69[deg]30'
NLSW5...................................      40[deg]20'      70[deg]00'
NLSW6...................................   40[deg]26.63'      70[deg]20'
NLSW1...................................   40[deg]43.44'      70[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  648.62,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (a)(2) and (3);
0
b. Remove and reserve paragraph (a)(4);
0
c. Revise paragraphs (a)(5) and (b); and
0
d. Remove paragraph (e).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  648.62  Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program.

    (a) * * *
    (2) Scallop landings by vessels issued NGOM permits shall be 
deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside, as defined in Sec.  
648.53(a)(8)(iii), and specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, 
when vessels fished all or part of a trip in the Federal waters portion 
of the NGOM. If a vessel with a NGOM scallop permit fishes exclusively 
in state waters within the NGOM, scallop landings from those trips will 
not be deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside.

[[Page 8558]]

    (3) Scallop landings by all vessels issued LAGC IFQ scallop permits 
and fishing in the NGOM scallop management area against the NGOM Set-
Aside, as defined in Sec.  648.53(a)(8)(iii), shall be deducted from 
NGOM Set-Aside specified in paragraph (b)(1) in this section. Scallop 
landings by LAGC IFQ scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop 
management area shall be deducted from their respective scallop IFQs. 
Landings by vessels with incidental permits shall not be deducted from 
the NGOM total allowable catch specified in paragraph (b) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (5) Scallop landings by all vessels issued scallop permits and 
fishing in the NGOM under the scallop RSA program (as specified in 
Sec.  648.56) shall be deducted from the overall RSA allocation.
    (b) NGOM Scallop Fishery Landings Limits.
    (1) The following landings limits will be effective for the NGOM 
for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years.

                       Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(1)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Landings limits                 2022              2023 \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NGOM TAL........................  661,387 lb          504,384 (228,785
                                   (300,000 kg).       kg).
1 percent NGOM ABC for Observers  15,080 lb (6,840    13,404 (6,080 kg).
                                   kg).
RSA Contribution................  25,000 lb (11,340   25,000 lb (11,340
                                   kg).                kg).
NGOM Set-Aside..................  621,307 lb          465,980 lb
                                   (281,820 kg).       (211,365 kg).
NGOM APL........................  0 lb (0 kg).        ..................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The landings limits for the 2023 fishing year are subject to change
  through a future specifications action or framework adjustment.

    (2) Unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the NGOM 
scallop management area and is transiting the NGOM scallop management 
area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use 
as defined in Sec.  648.2, no vessel issued an LAGC scallop permit 
pursuant to Sec.  648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or land scallops in 
the NGOM scallop management area once the Regional Administrator has 
provided notification in the Federal Register that the NGOM Set-Aside 
in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section has been reached, 
unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as 
specified in Sec.  648.56 and has been allocated NGOM RSA pounds. Once 
the NGOM Set-Aside is reached, a vessel issued a NGOM permit may no 
longer declare a state-only NGOM scallop trip and fish for scallops 
exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, unless participating in 
the state waters exemption program as specified in Sec.  648.54. A 
vessel that has not been issued a Federal scallop permit that fishes 
exclusively in state waters is not subject to the closure of the NGOM 
scallop management area.
    (3) If the NGOM Set-Aside is exceeded, the amount of NGOM scallop 
landings in excess of the NGOM Set-Aside specified in paragraph (b)(1) 
of this section shall be deducted from the NGOM Set-Aside for the 
subsequent fishing year, or, as soon as practicable, once scallop 
landings data for the NGOM management area is available.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2022-03047 Filed 2-14-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P