[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 205 (Monday, October 24, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65662-65673]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27348]



[[Page 65662]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 110803468-1612-01]
RIN 0648-BB33


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
Region; Amendment 18

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 18 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in 
the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared and submitted 
by the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Councils (Councils). If implemented, this rule would remove species 
from the FMP; modify the framework procedures; establish two migratory 
groups for cobia; establish annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch 
targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs) for king mackerel, 
Spanish mackerel, and cobia. In addition, Amendment 18 would set 
allocations for Atlantic cobia and establish control rules for king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. The intent of this rule is to 
specify ACLs for species not undergoing overfishing while maintaining 
catch levels consistent with achieving optimum yield (OY) for the 
resource.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before November 21, 
2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2011-0202'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 
13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, click on ``submit a comment,'' then enter ``NOAA-
NMFS-2011-0202'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2011-
0202'' in the keyword search and click on ``search.'' NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    Electronic copies of documents supporting this proposed rule, which 
include a draft environmental assessment and an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis (IRFA), may be obtained from the Southeast 
Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/MackerelHomepage.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone: 727-824-
5305, or e-mail: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The coastal migratory pelagic (CMP) fishery 
in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and the Atlantic is managed under the FMP. 
The FMP was prepared by the Councils and implemented through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    The 2006 revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act require that by 
2011, for fisheries determined by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) 
to not be subject to overfishing, ACLs and AMs must be established at a 
level that prevents overfishing and helps to achieve OY. These mandates 
are intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the greatest 
overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing 
food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine 
ecosystems.
    Currently two migratory groups of king mackerel and Spanish 
mackerel are established, Gulf migratory group and Atlantic migratory 
group. The Gulf Council determines management measures for the Gulf 
migratory groups and the South Atlantic Council determines management 
measures for the Atlantic migratory groups.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This rule would remove four species from the FMP; modify the 
framework procedures; establish two migratory groups for cobia; 
establish ACLs, ACTs, and AMs for each migratory group of king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. In addition, Amendment 18 would 
set allocations for Atlantic cobia and establish control rules for king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia.

Removal of Species From the FMP

    Species currently in the FMP include king mackerel, Spanish 
mackerel, cobia, cero, little tunny, dolphin, and bluefish (Gulf only). 
Dolphin in the Atlantic are managed under a different FMP, and bluefish 
in the Atlantic are managed by the Mid-Atlantic Council. At present, 
only king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia have associated 
regulatory text; the other species are in the FMP for data collection 
purposes only.
    This rule would remove cero, little tunny, dolphin, and bluefish 
from the FMP. The Councils and NMFS have determined that these species 
are not in need of Federal management at this time. Although these 
species are targeted in some areas, landings are relatively low. In 
addition, the Councils have never managed cero, little tunny, dolphin, 
or bluefish under the FMP. The species were originally included in the 
FMP ``for data collection purposes,'' but data collection on any 
species can be required of fishermen and dealers that hold Federal 
permits, regardless of the presence of that species in an FMP. At this 
time, the Southeast Fisheries Science Center has no plans to remove any 
species from their data collection programs. If landings or effort 
change for any of these species and the Councils determine management 
at the Federal level is needed, these species could be added back into 
the FMP at a later date.

Cobia Migratory Groups

    Although there is mixing of cobia from the Gulf and the Atlantic, 
the preponderance of scientific data indicate that there are at least 
two separate migratory groups, if not two separate stocks in the Gulf 
and Atlantic. These two groups have separate seasonal migrations and 
distinct life history parameters. The Councils have determined they 
should manage these groups separately within their individual areas of 
jurisdiction. This

[[Page 65663]]

rule would establish two migratory groups for cobia, a Gulf migratory 
group and an Atlantic migratory group. The boundary would be the line 
of demarcation between the Gulf EEZ and the South Atlantic EEZ. ACLs 
and AMs would be established separately for each group by the 
responsible Council. However, this rule would not change the current 
possession limit of two cobia per person per day for either commercial 
or recreational fishermen.

ACLs and AMs

    In 2006, the Magnuson-Stevens Act was re-authorized and included a 
number of changes to improve the conservation of managed fishery 
resources. Included in these changes are requirements that fishery 
management councils establish both a mechanism for specifying ACLs at a 
level such that overfishing does not occur in a fishery and AMs to 
mitigate any overages that may occur. Guidance also requires fishery 
management councils to establish a control rule to determine allowable 
biological catch (ABC).
    The Councils accepted ABC control rules for Gulf migratory groups 
of king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, and for the Atlantic 
migratory group of cobia, based on the control rule recommended by the 
Gulf Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). They 
accepted ABC control rules for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel 
and Spanish mackerel based on the control rule recommended by the South 
Atlantic Council's SSC. For all species, this rule proposes ACLs equal 
to the ABC. For purposes of tracking the ACL, for king and Spanish 
mackerel, landings will be evaluated based on the commercial fishing 
year. Recreational landings for all Atlantic species will be evaluated 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP.

Gulf Migratory Group King Mackerel

    For Gulf migratory group king mackerel this rule proposes separate 
ACLs and AMs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on 
sector allocations.
    The commercial sector would close by zone, subzone, or gear type 
when the commercial quota for the applicable zone, subzone, or gear 
type is reached or is projected to be reached. In addition, current 
trip limit adjustments would remain in place. When the commercial 
sector closes, harvest and possession of king mackerel for the 
applicable zone, subzone, or gear type would be prohibited for persons 
aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for king mackerel has 
been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter vessel/headboat 
permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a charter vessel or 
headboat, harvest and possession of king mackerel would be limited to 
the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase of king mackerel from 
the closed zone, subzone, or gear type would be prohibited, including 
king mackerel taken under the bag or possession limits.
    For the recreational sector, the Regional Administrator would have 
the authority to revert the bag and possession limit to zero if the 
recreational allocation (recreational ACL) is reached or projected to 
be reached. This bag and possession limit would also apply on board a 
vessel for which a valid charter vessel/headboat permit has been 
issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in 
state or Federal waters.

Atlantic Migratory Group King Mackerel

    For Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, this rule proposes 
separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on 
sector allocations. This rule also proposes a stock ACL and an ACT for 
the recreational sector.
    The commercial sector would close when the commercial ACL is 
reached or projected to be reached. When the commercial sector closes, 
harvest and possession of king mackerel would be prohibited for persons 
aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for king mackerel has 
been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter vessel/headboat 
permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a charter vessel or 
headboat, harvest and possession of king mackerel would be limited to 
the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase of king mackerel 
would be prohibited, including king mackerel taken under the bag or 
possession limits, without regard to where such species were harvested, 
i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    For the recreational sector, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any 
year, the bag limit would be reduced the next fishing year by the 
amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the 
recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the 
following fishing year.
    A payback would be assessed if Atlantic migratory group king 
mackerel are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. 
The payback would include a reduction in the sector ACL for the 
following year, by the amount of the overage by that sector in the 
prior fishing year. Atlantic migratory group king mackerel are not 
considered overfished at this time.

Gulf Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel

    For Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel, this rule proposes stock 
ACLs and AMs. Both the commercial and recreational sectors would close 
when the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached. Harvest, 
possession, sale, and purchase of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or 
Federal waters.

Atlantic Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel

    For Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel, this rule proposes 
separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on 
sector allocations. This rule also proposes an ACT for the recreational 
sector.
    The commercial sector would close when the commercial quota is 
reached or projected to be reached. In addition, current trip limit 
adjustments would remain in place. When the commercial sector closes, 
harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited for 
persons aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for Spanish 
mackerel has been issued. If that vessel also has a valid charter 
vessel/headboat permit on board for CMP species and is operating as a 
charter vessel or headboat, harvest and possession of Spanish mackerel 
would be limited to the applicable bag limit. Also, sale and purchase 
of Spanish mackerel would be prohibited, including Spanish mackerel 
taken under the bag or possession limits, without regard to where such 
species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal waters.
    For the recreational sector, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any 
year, the bag limit would be reduced the next fishing year by the 
amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the 
recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the 
following fishing year.
    A payback would be assessed if the Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel are determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. 
The payback would include a reduction in the sector ACL, for the 
following year by the amount of the overage by that sector in the prior 
fishing year. Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are not 
considered overfished at this time.

Gulf Migratory Group Cobia

    For Gulf migratory group cobia, this rule proposes stock ACLs and 
AMs. A stock ACT is proposed that is 90 percent

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of the ACL. Both the commercial and recreational sectors would close 
when the stock ACT is reached or projected to be reached. Harvest, 
possession, sale, and purchase of cobia would be prohibited, without 
regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal 
waters.

Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia

    For Atlantic migratory group cobia, this rule proposes separate 
ACLs for the commercial and recreational sectors based on sector 
allocations. Because sector allocations do not currently exist for 
cobia, Amendment 18 proposes an allocation of 8 percent of the ACL for 
the commercial sector and 92 percent of the ACL for the recreational 
sector, based on landings. This rule also proposes an ACT for the 
recreational sector.
    The commercial sector would close when the commercial ACL is 
reached or projected to be reached. Sale and purchase of cobia would be 
prohibited, including cobia taken under the possession limit, without 
regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in state or Federal 
waters.
    For the recreational sector, if the stock ACL is exceeded in any 
year, the fishing season would be reduced the following year by the 
amount necessary to ensure that recreational landings may achieve the 
recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in the 
following fishing year.
    A payback would be assessed if Atlantic migratory group cobia are 
determined to be overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The payback 
would include a reduction in the sector ACL for the following year by 
the amount of the overage by that sector in the prior fishing year. 
Atlantic migratory group cobia are not considered overfished at this 
time.

Modification of Generic Framework Procedures

    To facilitate timely adjustments to harvest parameters and other 
management measures, the Councils have added the ability to adjust ACLs 
and AMs, and establish and adjust target catch levels, including ACTs, 
to the current framework procedures. These adjustments or additions may 
be accomplished through a regulatory amendment which is less time-
intensive than an FMP amendment. By including ACLs, AMs, and ACTs in 
the framework procedures, the Councils and NMFS would have the 
flexibility to more promptly alter those harvest parameters as new 
scientific information becomes available. The proposed addition of 
other management options into the framework procedures would also add 
flexibility and the ability to more timely respond to certain future 
Council decisions through the framework procedures.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with Amendment 18, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, 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.
    NMFS prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, for this rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact 
this rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of 
the rule, why it is being considered, the objectives of, and legal 
basis for this rule are contained at the beginning of this section in 
the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the 
full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the 
IRFA follows.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have 
been identified.
    This rule would affect all fishing in the EEZ that is managed under 
the FMP for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf and 
Atlantic. This includes the EEZ in the Gulf and South Atlantic, as well 
as the EEZ in the Mid-Atlantic for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and 
cobia. For purposes of fishery management, Atlantic and Gulf migratory 
groups have been designated for each of the mackerels, and, under this 
rule, cobia.
    This rule would be expected to apply to 1,000 to 2,000 commercial 
fishing vessels and as many as 2,500 vessels that have Federal permits 
to engage in for-hire fishing for coastal migratory pelagic species. 
The commercial fishing vessels that would be expected to be affected by 
this rule are estimated to average $28,000 to $46,000 (2008 dollars) in 
gross revenue per vessel for those fishing for king and Spanish 
mackerel, and $16,000 to $277,000 for vessels harvesting other CMP 
species (the lower value is for vessels harvesting cero while the upper 
value is for vessels harvesting dolphin; this range encompasses the 
vessels harvesting all the remaining CMP species). The for-hire vessels 
expected to be affected by this rule are mostly charter boats, which 
charge by the trip, often with six or fewer anglers (paying 
passengers), and a smaller number of head boats, which charge for each 
individual angler (only 15 percent of all of the CMP for-hire vessels 
can carry more than six anglers). Including revenue from all 
activities, charter boats are estimated to average approximately 
$88,000 (2008 dollars) in gross revenue per year, while the headboat 
average is $461,000 (2008 dollars).
    The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for 
all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A 
business involved in commercial finfish harvesting is classified as a 
small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not 
dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has 
combined annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 
114111, finfish fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A 
for-hire business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in 
its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined 
annual receipts not in excess of $7.0 million (NAICS code 713990, 
recreational industries). Based on the average revenue estimates 
provided above, all commercial and for-hire fishing vessels expected to 
be directly affected by this rule are determined for the purpose of 
this analysis to be small business entities.
    All of the actions in this rule that would be jointly applicable to 
the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups would be administrative in 
nature or allow status quo harvest behavior. As a result, none of these 
actions would be expected to result in any direct economic impacts on 
small entities.
    With the exception of the AMs for the Gulf migratory groups of king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, the actions in this rule 
applicable to the Gulf migratory groups are either administrative or 
allow status quo harvests and fishing behavior. As a result, these 
actions would not be expected to result in any direct economic impacts 
on small entities. The proposed AMs for each species would be expected 
to result in unquantifiable short-term reductions in economic benefits 
associated with the implementation of harvest restrictions necessary to 
correct for harvest overages, should such overages be forecast or 
occur. These impacts cannot be quantified at this time because the 
overages, and necessary corrections, cannot be forecast. However, any 
harvest corrections, and associated reduction in short-term economic

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benefits, would be expected to preserve the long-term biological goals, 
and long-term economic benefits, associated with the harvest of these 
stocks.
    Because the majority of the actions in this rule applicable to the 
Atlantic migratory groups are either administrative or allow status quo 
harvests and fishing behavior, only minimal economic effects would be 
expected to occur. Only the Spanish mackerel ACL and AMs for king 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, if implemented, would be 
expected to result in adverse economic impacts. The specification of 
the Spanish mackerel ACL would be expected to result in a reduction in 
ex-vessel revenue to commercial fishermen due to a reduction in the 
allowable commercial harvest and the AM requirement that harvest, 
possession, and sale of Spanish mackerel be prohibited when the 
commercial quota is met. The economic activity associated with this 
reduction in revenue is an estimated 17 harvester and 10 dealer/
processor full-time equivalent jobs. The relative effect of this 
estimated reduction per small entity is unknown. For the 2004/2005 
through 2008/2009 fishing years, an average of 349 vessels recorded 
Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel harvests in the Southeast 
Federal logbook program. These vessels averaged approximately $28,000 
in ex-vessel revenue per vessel per year from all species recorded in 
the logbook. If divided among these vessels, the estimated reduction in 
ex-revenue for Spanish mackerel alone (approximately $680,000) would 
equate to a reduction in average vessel gross revenue of approximately 
7 percent. These results do not include any reduction in gross revenue 
for other species if trips do not occur (are cancelled) as a result of 
a prohibition on Spanish mackerel commercial harvest. Total vessel 
Federal logbook-recorded landings of Spanish mackerel accounted for 
approximately 57 percent (approximately 2.03 million lb (0.9 million 
kg) of the total Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel harvest 
during this period (approximately 3.57 million lb (1.62 million kg). A 
significant portion of the difference between these harvest totals may 
be attributed to harvest in Florida waters where Federal permits and 
logbooks are not required for Spanish mackerel. The average annual 
revenue profile of the vessels that harvested the remaining portion of 
the species is unknown. As a result, the total relative effect of the 
projected reduction in ex-vessel revenue on the profit of small entity 
commercial vessels is not known.
    Three alternatives, including 13 options or sub-options, were 
considered for the action to modify the fishery management unit (FMU). 
The proposed action, which incorporates 7 of the 13 options and sub-
options, would remove cero, little tunny, and dolphin from the FMP for 
both the Gulf and South Atlantic regions, and remove bluefish from the 
FMP for the Gulf region. The no-action alternative, which would retain 
the four subject species in the FMP for data-collection purposes only, 
was not adopted because it would not satisfy the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
guidelines, which do not allow species to be retained in an FMU for 
data collection purposes only. The third alternative would add the four 
species to the FMU and set ACLs and AMs for each, following the stated 
geographic designations. This alternative was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that these species no longer require Federal 
management in the respective regions. The proposed action would not be 
expected to result in any direct economic impact on small entities.
    Five alternatives, including three options, were considered for the 
action to modify the framework procedures. The no-action alternative 
would not change the framework procedures and was not adopted because 
it is not consistent with current assessment and management methods. 
The remaining alternatives were not adopted either because they would 
have been more restrictive in the items that could be changed through 
framework procedures, or because they would have given the Councils and 
NMFS either too much or too little authority to change management 
outside of the plan amendment process. The proposed action is 
administrative in nature and would not be expected to result in any 
direct economic impact on small entities.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish 
separate Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups of cobia. The proposed 
action would separate cobia into two groups at the Gulf and South 
Atlantic jurisdictional boundary. The no-action alternative would not 
split cobia into two migratory groups, and was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that sufficient information exists to demonstrate 
that there are at least two different migratory groups and regional 
management is appropriate. The other alternative to the proposed action 
would split the two migratory groups at the Miami-Dade/Monroe County 
line, and was not adopted because it would not best meet the Councils' 
goals and objectives for the FMP. The proposed action is administrative 
in nature and would not be expected to result in any direct economic 
impact on small entities.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the ACL for 
Gulf migratory group cobia. The proposed action would establish a 
single stock ACL and set the ACL equal to the ABC. The no-action 
alternative was not adopted because it would not establish an ACL, as 
required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Another alternative would also 
set the total ACL equal to the ABC, but would specify sector ACLs. This 
alternative was not adopted because both sectors are currently managed 
under the same harvest restrictions and sector separation would not be 
expected to be beneficial at this time. The remaining alternatives and 
associated options would establish a buffer between the ACL and ABC and 
result in lower stock or sector ACLs. These alternatives and options 
were not adopted because the Councils elected to establish a buffer to 
the ABC for this species through the ACT rather than the ACL.
    Three alternatives, including four options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACT for Gulf migratory group cobia. The proposed 
action would specify a single stock ACT and set the ACT equal to 90 
percent of the ACL. The no-action alternative would not establish an 
ACT, but would be an acceptable action because an ACT is not required. 
This alternative was not adopted because the Councils determined that a 
buffer between the ABC and allowable harvest was appropriate for this 
stock and the adoption of the no-action alternative would be 
inconsistent with the Councils' decision to establish this buffer 
through the ACT instead of the ACL. The other options were not adopted 
because they would establish sector ACTs, which would be inconsistent 
with the Councils' decision to establish a single stock ACL, and/or 
they would specify a lower stock ACT than the proposed action, and 
thereby establish a larger buffer than is expected to be necessary for 
this stock.
    Three alternatives, including seven options (options listed under 
the no-action alternative were not included in this tabulation), were 
considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf migratory group cobia. 
The proposed action would set an in-season AM and prohibit harvest for 
the remainder of the fishing year from the date the ACT is reached or 
is projected to be reached. AMs for the commercial harvest of this 
stock do not currently exist under the status quo. As a result, the no-
action alternative

[[Page 65666]]

was not adopted because it would not establish AMs that account for the 
harvest from all sectors, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Two 
options to the proposed action would also establish in-season AMs but 
would trigger the AMs when 90 percent of the ACT is reached or 
projected to be reached. Both options would reduce the possession limit 
to one fish per person per day, but only one option would prohibit 
possession of cobia and only then if the ACL is reached and not the 
ACT. These options were not adopted because the option that would just 
reduce the possession limit would provide insufficient assurance that 
the ACL would not be exceeded, while data monitoring issues would 
likely render the other option inoperable. The remaining alternative 
and associated four options to the proposed action would establish 
post-season AMs, each varying in method (overage payback, reduction in 
possession limit, reduced season) or period of assessment (the overage 
assessment would be based on multi-year averages). These options were 
not adopted because the Councils determined that in-season assessment 
would be more effective in ensuring the ACL is not exceeded. The 
proposed action would not be expected to result in any direct economic 
impact on small entities because the proposed ACT (1.31 million lb 
(0.59 million kg)) exceeds the estimated status-quo harvest (1.07 
million lb (0.49 million kg)) for Gulf migratory group cobia.
    Five alternatives, including 12 options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group king mackerel. The 
proposed action would set the aggregate (stock) ACL equal to the ABC, 
and set sector ACLs using current allocation percentages. The no-action 
alternative would set the stock ACL equal to the current total 
allowable catch (TAC), and was not adopted because the TAC is less than 
the ABC and, as a result, this action would have resulted in less 
economic benefits than the proposed action. The remaining three 
alternatives to the proposed action would set the stock ACL at 80-90 
percent of ABC, and were not adopted because each would have allowed 
lower harvest, and associated economic benefits, than the proposed 
action, and the Councils have determined that the condition of this 
stock and level of management uncertainty does not require a buffer 
between the ACL and ABC. It is noted that the proposed stock ACL would 
be expected to allow continued average annual harvest. As a result, the 
proposed action would not be expected to result in any direct economic 
impacts on small entities.
    Three alternatives, including 7 options or sub-options (options and 
sub-options listed under the no-action alternative were not included in 
this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs for Gulf 
migratory group king mackerel. The proposed action, the no-action 
alternative, would not set new AMs for this stock. The alternatives, 
and associated options or sub-options, to the proposed action can be 
divided into two general categories; alternatives that would change the 
current in-season AMs (two options), and alternatives that would set 
post-season AMs (two options encompassing five sub-options). None of 
these options or sub-options were adopted because the Councils 
determined that current regulations provide sufficient AMs for the 
recreational and commercial sectors. The proposed action is not 
expected to have a direct economic impact on small entities.
    Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The 
proposed action would set the aggregate ACL equal to the ABC and 
establish a stock ACL encompassing harvest by both sectors. The no-
action alternative would maintain an ACL equal to the current TAC for 
Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. This action was not adopted 
because the ACL cannot exceed the ABC and the status quo TAC is greater 
than the proposed ABC. Compared with the proposed action, some options 
would establish sector ACLs. These options were not adopted because the 
Councils determined the establishment of sector ACLs would 
unnecessarily restrict catch and not allow the achievement of optimum 
yield. The remaining two alternatives, encompassing six options, would 
specify a single, stock ACL as a portion of ABC (80 percent or 90 
percent of ABC, rather than 100 percent). These alternatives and 
options would have resulted in reductions in economic benefits relative 
to the proposed action and were not adopted because the Councils 
determined that a buffer between the ACL and ABC was not needed for 
this stock.
    Three alternatives, including six options or sub-options (options 
and sub-options listed under the no-action alternative were not 
included in this tabulation), were considered for the action to set AMs 
for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The proposed action would 
establish in-season AMs that would allow harvest to be prohibited if 
the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached. The no-action 
alternative would maintain current AMs for Gulf migratory group Spanish 
mackerel and was not adopted because the current AMs are implemented by 
sector and are inconsistent with the proposed action to establish a 
stock ACL. One option to the proposed action would establish in-season 
AMs that implement a commercial trip limit and reduced recreational bag 
limits if the stock ACL is reached or projected to be reached. This 
option was not adopted because it would require multiple in-season 
actions and may result in a lower certainty that the ACL not be 
exceeded compared to the proposed action because harvest would not be 
prohibited. The remaining alternative and associated options would 
establish post-season AMs. These options were not adopted because they 
would be expected to impose an increased and unnecessary burden on 
fishermen and the administration. The proposed action is not expected 
to have an economic impact on small entities because the proposed stock 
ACL (5.15 million lb (2.34 million kg)) is greater than the 5-year 
average (3.63 million lb (1.65 million kg)) or 10-year average (3.95 
million lb (1.79 million kg) landings.
    Five alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group king 
mackerel. The proposed action would set the ACL and OY equal to the 
ABC, with the ABC set equal to the average of the current South 
Atlantic Council's SSC's ABC recommendations for the 2011-2013 seasons. 
This would result in an ACL of 10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg). The 
no-action alternative was not adopted because it would not have 
resulted in as concise a rule for setting the ACL and OY and would have 
resulted in a lower ACL, 10.0 million lb (4.54 million kg), than the 
proposed action. Two alternatives to the proposed action would have 
also set the ACL and OY equal to the ABC but with the ABC equal to, 
alternatively, the lowest and highest SSC recommended ABCs for 2011-
2013. These alternatives were not adopted because they were determined 
to be, alternatively, excessively or insufficiently conservative 
compared to the proposed action. The final alternative to the proposed 
action, which included five options, would have set the ACL and OY 
equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 65-90 percent. These 
options were not adopted because the Councils determined that the 
status and management certainty of the king

[[Page 65667]]

mackerel stock did not require a buffer between the ACL or OY and the 
ABC.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set the 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. The 
proposed action for this sector would set the ACT based on the 
uncertainty associated with the estimate of the ACL and would result in 
a recreational sector ACT of 6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg), which 
would be less than the proposed recreational sector ACL, but greater 
than current average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in 
current recreational harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts 
on small entities would be expected to occur. The no-action alternative 
would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the 
Councils determined that the management uncertainty associated with the 
recreational harvest of this stock is sufficient to require a buffer 
between allowable harvest and the ACL. The two remaining alternatives 
to the proposed action would set the recreational sector ACT based on 
alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives 
was adopted because they would result in an ACT that was less 
reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL 
than the proposed action. As applied to the proposed estimate of the 
ACL, each of these alternatives would also result in a lower 
recreational harvest, and reduced economic benefits, than the proposed 
action.
    Four alternatives, including ten options, were considered for the 
action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. The 
proposed action includes seven of the options spread over three 
alternatives. The proposed action would continue in-season quota 
monitoring and closure if the commercial sector ACL is met or projected 
to be met, as occurs under the status quo. In addition, the proposed 
action would adopt post-season adjustments. These adjustments include 
post-season reductions in bag limits for the recreational sector based 
on moving multi-year average harvests, to assure that the recreational 
sector ACL is not exceeded. Post-season bag limits would only be 
reduced if the stock ACL (both sectors) is exceeded. Post-season 
overage payback would be required for both sectors, where appropriate, 
if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The no-action 
alternative would continue the current quota monitoring for the 
commercial sector, and closure when appropriate; it also includes 
authority under the framework procedures for the Regional Administrator 
(RA) to implement several actions, including reduction of the 
recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational allocation has been 
met or is projected to be met. This alternative was not adopted because 
it would not have been as flexible as the proposed action in factoring 
in the status of the stock, the total harvest, and annual harvest 
variability by the recreational sector into the AM decision. One option 
to the proposed action would have reduced the length of the subsequent 
recreational fishing season instead of a reduction in the bag limit in 
the event of a recreational overage. This alternative was not adopted 
because allowing the sector to continue harvest all year under a 
reduced bag limit, as would be allowed under the proposed action, would 
be expected to result in more economic benefits than a closed season. 
The remaining options to the proposed action would have imposed sector 
paybacks regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted 
because each would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in 
economic benefits.
    Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group Spanish 
mackerel. The proposed action would set the ACL and OY equal to the 
ABC. The no-action alternative was not adopted because it would not 
have resulted in as concise a procedure as the proposed action to 
determine the ACL based on the ABC, and the resultant ACL would exceed 
the proposed ABC, which would be inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act National Standard 1 guidelines (74 FR 3178, January 16, 2009). The 
third alternative to the proposed action, which included five options, 
would have set the ACL equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 
75-95 percent. These options were not adopted because they would be 
inconsistent with the Councils' determination that specification of a 
buffer for this stock could be adequately accomplished through the 
proposed ACT.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. 
The proposed action would be based on the uncertainty associated with 
the estimate of the sector ACL and would result in a recreational 
sector ACT of 2.32 million lb (1.05 million kg), which would be less 
than the proposed recreational sector ACL, but greater than current 
average annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in current harvest 
or associated economic benefits or impacts on small entities in the 
recreational sector would be expected to occur. The no-action 
alternative would not set a recreational sector ACT and was not adopted 
because the Council determined that the management uncertainty 
associated with the recreational harvest of this stock requires a 
buffer between allowable harvest and the ACL. The two remaining 
alternatives to the proposed action would set the recreational sector 
ACT based on alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these 
alternatives was adopted because they would result in an ACT that was 
less reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of 
the ACL than the proposed action. As applied to the proposed estimate 
of the ACL, each of these alternatives would also result in a lower 
recreational harvest and reduced economic benefits than the proposed 
action.
    Four alternatives, including nine options, were considered to set 
AMs for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. The proposed action 
includes six of the options spread over three alternatives. The 
proposed action would implement enhanced quota monitoring for the 
commercial sector, should in-season closure be necessary, and would 
adopt post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on 
moving multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the bag 
limit to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded, if the stock ACL 
is exceeded. The proposed action would also require sector overage 
payback, where appropriate, if the stock is overfished and the stock 
ACL is exceeded. The no-action alternative would continue the current 
quota monitoring and staged trip limits for the commercial sector in 
place of sector closure. It also includes authority under the framework 
procedures for the RA to implement several actions, including reduction 
of the recreational bag limit to zero, if the recreational allocation 
has been met or is projected to be met. This alternative was not 
adopted because it would not have been as flexible as the proposed 
action in factoring in the status of the stock, the total harvest, and 
annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM 
decision. This alternative was also not adopted because it would not 
provide for in-season closure for the commercial sector. In the event 
of a sector overage, one option to the proposed action would have 
reduced the length of the subsequent recreational fishing season (no 
reduction in the bag limit) to assure that the sector ACL is not 
exceeded. This option was not adopted because it

[[Page 65668]]

would result in lower economic benefits than the proposed action. The 
remaining two options to the proposed action would have imposed sector 
paybacks regardless of stock status. These options were not adopted 
because each would be expected to result in unnecessary reductions in 
economic benefits.
    Three alternatives, including five options, were considered for the 
action to set the ACL and OY for Atlantic migratory group cobia. The 
proposed action would set the ACL and OY equal to the ABC. The no-
action alternative was not adopted because it would not set the ACL or 
OY, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The third 
alternative to the proposed action, which included five options, would 
have set the ACL and OY equal to a percentage of the ABC, varying from 
75-95 percent. These options were not adopted because they would be 
inconsistent with the Councils' determination that specification of a 
buffer for this stock could be adequately accomplished through the 
proposed ACT.
    Four alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
recreational sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group cobia. The 
proposed action for the recreational sector would set the ACT based on 
the uncertainty associated with the estimate of the ACL and would 
result in a recreational sector ACT of 1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg), which 
would be less than the proposed sector ACL but equal to current average 
annual harvests. As a result, no reduction in current recreational 
harvest or associated economic benefits or impacts on small entities 
would be expected to occur. The no-action alternative would not set a 
recreational sector ACT and was not adopted because the Councils 
determined that the management uncertainty associated with the 
recreational harvest of this stock requires a buffer between allowable 
harvest and the sector ACL. The two remaining alternatives to the 
proposed action would set the recreational sector ACT based on 
alternative fixed percentages of the ACL. Neither of these alternatives 
was adopted because they would result in an ACT that was less 
reflective of the uncertainty associated with the estimation of the ACL 
than the proposed action.
    Five alternatives, including seven options, were considered for the 
action to set AMs for Atlantic migratory group cobia. The proposed 
action includes five of the options spread over three alternatives and 
would: Implement in-season quota monitoring for the commercial sector; 
adopt post-season adjustments for the recreational sector based on 
moving multi-year average harvests, including a reduction in the season 
length to assure that the sector ACL is not exceeded if the stock ACL 
is exceeded; and require sector overage payback, where appropriate, but 
only if the stock is overfished and the stock ACL is exceeded. The no-
action alternative would continue the current authority to revert the 
recreational and commercial possession limit to zero if the sectors 
have met or are projected to meet their allocation. This alternative 
was not adopted because it would not be as flexible as the proposed 
action in factoring the status of the stock, the total harvest, and 
annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into the AM 
decision. One alternative to the proposed action would explicitly 
prohibit the purchase and sale of cobia if the commercial quota is met 
or projected to be met, though this would be functionally equivalent to 
the status quo as a zero possession limit would preclude purchase or 
sale. This alternative would not establish additional AMs for the 
recreational sector, resulting in current recreational AMs remaining in 
effect. Thus, this alternative would be functionally equivalent to the 
status quo. Nevertheless, this alternative was not adopted because it, 
like the no-action alternative, would not be as flexible as the 
proposed action in factoring the status of the stock, the total 
harvest, and annual harvest variability by the recreational sector into 
the AM decision. The remaining options to the proposed action would 
have imposed sector paybacks regardless of stock status. These options 
were not adopted because each would be expected to result in 
unnecessary reductions in economic benefits.
    Additional actions and alternatives were considered in the 
amendment but are not included in this rule because they would either 
establish management reference points or the proposed action would not 
result in any regulatory change. These actions and alternatives are 
discussed in the following paragraphs.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish an 
ABC control rule for Gulf migratory group cobia. The proposed action 
would determine the appropriate level of risk and/or buffer to set 
between the overfishing limit (OFL) and ABC based on a tiered approach 
that considers new information available on the stock and identified 
through updated stock assessments. The no-action alternative was not 
adopted because it would not establish an ABC control rule, as 
recommended by the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The second 
alternative to the proposed action was not adopted because it would 
establish an ABC control rule that sets the ABC using a static 
definition which would not allow for changes in the level of risk based 
on updated stock assessments and, therefore, would not be as flexible 
as the proposed action.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish an 
ABC control rule for Gulf migratory king mackerel. The proposed action 
would determine the appropriate level of risk and/or buffer to set 
between the OFL and ABC based on a tiered approach that would consider 
new information available on the stock and identified through updated 
stock assessments. The no-action alternative was not adopted because it 
would not establish an ABC control rule, as recommended by the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The second alternative to the proposed 
action was not adopted because it would establish an ABC control rule 
that sets the ABC using a static definition which would not allow for 
changes in the level of risk based on updated stock assessments and, 
therefore, would not be as flexible as the proposed action.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to set an ACT for 
Gulf migratory group king mackerel. The proposed action, the no-action 
alternative, would not set an aggregate ACT. The remaining alternatives 
and associated options would all set the aggregate ACT equal to a 
portion of the ACL, varying from 85-90 percent, with or without sector 
ACTs. These alternatives and options were not adopted because each 
would have allowed lower harvest, and associated economic benefits, 
than the proposed action and the Councils determined that the condition 
of this stock and level of management uncertainty did not require a 
buffer between the ACT and ACL. Four options would have set ACTs that 
would not be consistent with the Councils' decision to set ACLs in 
accordance with current allocation percentages.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to establish an 
ABC control rule for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The 
proposed action would determine the appropriate level of risk and/or 
buffer to set between the OFL and ABC based on a tiered approach that 
considers new information available on the stock and identified through 
updated stock assessments. The no-action alternative was not adopted 
because it would not establish an ABC control rule, as recommended by 
the

[[Page 65669]]

Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The second alternative to the proposed 
action was not adopted because it would establish an ABC control rule 
that sets the ABC using a static definition which would not allow for 
changes in the level of risk based on updated stock assessments and, 
therefore, would not be as flexible as the proposed action.
    Four alternatives, including six options, were considered for the 
action to set an ACT for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The 
proposed action, the no-action alternative, would not set an ACT for 
Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel. The alternatives to the proposed 
action, and associated options, would implement a stock ACT lower than 
the ACL and result in lower harvest, and associated economic benefits, 
than the proposed action. These alternatives and options were not 
adopted because the Councils determined that a buffer between the ACT 
and ACL was not needed for this stock. Some options would have set ACTs 
that are not consistent the Councils' decision to specify a single 
(stock) ACL.
    Four alternatives, including three options, were considered for the 
action to establish an ABC control rule for Atlantic migratory group 
king mackerel. The proposed action would determine the appropriate 
level of risk and/or buffer to set between the OFL and ABC based on a 
tiered approach that considers new information available on the stock 
and identified through updated stock assessments. The no-action 
alternative was not adopted because it would not establish an ABC 
control rule, as recommended by the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. 
The remaining alternatives and associated options to the proposed 
action were not adopted because they would establish an ABC control 
rule that sets the ABC using a static definition which would not allow 
for changes in the level of risk based on updated stock assessments 
and, therefore, would not be as flexible as the proposed action.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to set the 
commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel. The 
no-action alternative is the proposed action for this sector and would 
not set a commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group king 
mackerel. Two alternatives to this proposed action would set ACTs that 
establish a buffer between the commercial sector ACT and the commercial 
sector ACL, resulting in lower allowable harvest and reduced economic 
benefits than the proposed action. Neither of these two alternatives 
was adopted because the Councils determined that management uncertainty 
for this sector of this stock does not require a harvest buffer between 
the ACT and ACL.
    Two alternatives were considered for the action to establish an ABC 
control rule for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. The 
proposed action would determine the appropriate level of risk and/or 
buffer to set between the OFL and ABC based on a tiered approach that 
considers new information available on the stock and identified through 
updated stock assessments. The no-action alternative was not adopted 
because it would not establish an ABC control rule, as recommended by 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. 
The no-action alternative is the proposed action for this sector and 
would not set a commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel. Under this proposed action, commercial sector harvest 
would be limited to the ACL, which is less than the current harvest and 
would be expected to result in a reduction in short-term economic 
benefits under the proposed AMs. Two alternatives to the proposed 
action would set ACTs that establish a buffer between the commercial 
sector ACT and the commercial sector ACL, resulting in an allowable 
harvest that is further below the current harvest than the proposed 
action and would be expected to result in a greater reduction in 
harvests and associated economic benefits than the proposed action. 
Neither of these alternatives was adopted because the Councils 
determined that management uncertainty for this sector of this stock 
does not require a harvest buffer between the ACT and ACL.
    Five alternatives were considered for the action to change the 
management measures for the Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel. 
The proposed action, the no-action alternative, would not make any 
changes in the management measures for this stock. The four 
alternatives to the proposed action would have increased the 
restrictions on recreational harvests through reduced bag limits and/or 
vessel limits. These alternatives were not adopted because current 
harvest would not need to be reduced under the proposed allowable 
recreational harvest for this stock. As a result, increased 
restrictions on recreational harvest would be expected to unnecessarily 
reduce economic benefits to fishery participants and associated 
businesses.
    Five alternatives, including three options, were considered for the 
action to establish an ABC control rule for Atlantic migratory group 
cobia. The proposed action would adopt the Gulf Council's SSC-
recommended ABC control rule, which is essentially the same as the 
South Atlantic Council's SSC-recommended control rule. This action 
would determine the appropriate level of risk and/or buffer to set 
between the OFL and ABC based on a tiered approach that considers new 
information available on the stock, as identified through updated stock 
assessments. As applied to this stock, this approach would set the ABC 
equal to the mean plus 1.5 times the standard deviation of the most 
recent 10 years of landings data. The no-action alternative was not 
adopted because it would not establish an ABC control rule, as 
recommended by the Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines. The remaining two 
alternatives and associated options to the proposed action were not 
adopted because they would establish an ABC control rule that sets the 
ABC using a static definition which would not allow for changes in the 
level of risk based on updated stock assessments and, therefore, would 
not be as flexible as the proposed action. Additionally, application of 
the rule specified by these alternatives and options would require an 
estimate of the OFL, which is considered unknown by the SSC.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to define sector 
allocations for Atlantic migratory group cobia. The proposed action 
would define allocations based on weighted averages of 2000-2008 and 
2006-2008 harvest data. The no-action alternative would not define 
sector allocations and was not adopted because it would not be 
consistent with the proposed actions to establish sector ACLs, ACTs 
(recreational sector only), and AMs. The second alternative to the 
proposed action would only use 2006-2008 data to determine the 
allocations and was not adopted because of the potential that this 
specification may not contain adequate consideration of historic 
landings. This alternative and the proposed action would result in 
identical allocations.
    Three alternatives were considered for the action to set a 
commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group cobia. The no-action 
alternative is the proposed action for this sector and would not set a 
commercial sector ACT for Atlantic migratory group cobia. Two 
alternatives to this proposed action would set ACTs that establish a 
buffer

[[Page 65670]]

between the commercial sector ACT and the commercial sector ACL, 
resulting in lower allowable harvest and reduced economic benefits. 
Neither of these alternatives was adopted because the Councils 
determined that management uncertainty for this sector of this stock 
does not require a harvest buffer between the ACT and ACL.
    Six alternatives were considered for the action to change the 
management measures for the Atlantic migratory group cobia. The 
proposed action, the no-action alternative, would not make any changes 
in the management measures for this stock. The five alternatives, and 
associated options, to the proposed action would have increased 
restrictions on either commercial or recreational harvests through 
reduced possession limits per trip, person, or day. These alternatives 
were not adopted because current harvest would not need to be reduced 
under the proposed allowable sector harvests for this stock. As a 
result, increased restrictions on harvest would be expected to 
unnecessarily reduce economic benefits to fishery participants and 
associated businesses.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Virgin Islands.

    Dated: October 18, 2011.
 Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

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

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

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

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


Sec.  622.1  [Amended]

    2. In Sec.  622.1, in Table 1, remove footnotes 2 and 3 and 
redesignate footnotes 4 through 6 as footnotes 2 through 4.
    3. In Sec.  622.2, the definitions for ``coastal migratory pelagic 
fish'', ``dolphin'', and ``migratory group'' are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.2  Definitions and acronyms.

* * * * *
    Coastal migratory pelagic fish means a whole fish, or a part 
thereof, of one or more of the following species:
    (1) Cobia, Rachycentron canadum.
    (2) King mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla.
    (3) Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculatus.
* * * * *
    Dolphin means a whole fish, or a part thereof, of the species 
Coryphaena equiselis or C. hippurus.
* * * * *
    Migratory group, for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, 
means a group of fish that may or may not be a separate genetic stock, 
but that is treated as a separate stock for management purposes. King 
mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia are divided into migratory 
groups--the boundaries between these groups are as follows:
    (1) King mackerel--(i) Summer separation. From April 1 through 
October 31, the boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory 
groups of king mackerel is 25[deg]48' N. lat., which is a line directly 
west from the Monroe/Collier County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of 
the EEZ.
    (ii) Winter separation. From November 1 through March 31, the 
boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups of king 
mackerel is 29[deg]25' N. lat., which is a line directly east from the 
Volusia/Flagler County, FL, boundary to the outer limit of the EEZ.
    (2) Spanish mackerel. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic 
migratory groups of Spanish mackerel is 25[deg]20.4' N. lat., which is 
a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL, boundary to 
the outer limit of the EEZ.
    (3) Cobia. The boundary separating the Gulf and Atlantic migratory 
groups of cobia is the line of demarcation between the Atlantic Ocean 
and the Gulf of Mexico, as specified in Sec.  600.105(c) of this 
chapter.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec.  622.4, revise the first sentence of paragraph 
(a)(2)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.4  Permits and fees.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) Spanish mackerel. For a person aboard a vessel to be eligible 
for exemption from the bag limits, a commercial vessel permit for 
Spanish mackerel must have been issued to the vessel and must be on 
board. * * *
* * * * *
    5. In Sec.  622.41, remove paragraph (c)(1)(vi) and redesignate 
paragraph (c)(1)(vii) as paragraph (c)(1)(vi); revise paragraph 
(c)(1)(v) and newly redesignated paragraph (c)(1)(vi) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.41  Species specific limitations.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) Cobia in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic EEZ--automatic 
reel, bandit gear, handline, rod and reel, and pelagic longline.
    (vi) Cobia in the Gulf EEZ--all gear except drift gillnet and long 
gillnet.
* * * * *
    6. In Sec.  622.42, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.42  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. King and Spanish mackerel 
quotas apply to persons who fish under commercial vessel permits for 
king or Spanish mackerel, as required under Sec.  622.4(a)(2)(iii) or 
(iv). Cobia quotas apply to persons who fish for cobia and sell their 
catch. A fish is counted against the quota for the area where it is 
caught.
    (1) Migratory groups of king mackerel--(i) Gulf migratory group. 
For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota for the Gulf migratory 
group of king mackerel is 3.808 million lb (1.728 million kg). For the 
2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota for 
the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel is 3.456 million lb (1.568 
million kg). The Gulf migratory group is divided into eastern and 
western zones separated by 87[deg]31.1' W. long., which is a line 
directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary. Quotas for the 
eastern and western zones are as follows:
    (A) Eastern zone. The eastern zone is divided into subzones with 
quotas as follows:
    (1) Florida east coast subzone. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, 
the quota is 1,215,228 lb (551,218 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing 
year and subsequent fishing years, the quota is 1,102,896 lb (500,265 
kg).
    (2) Florida west coast subzone. (i) Southern. For the 2012 to 2013 
fishing year, the quota is 1,215,228, (515,218 kg). For the 2013 to 
2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing years, the quota is 1,102,896 
lb (500,265 kg), which is further divided into a quota for vessels 
fishing with hook-and-line and a quota for vessels fishing with run-
around gillnets. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the hook-and-line 
quota is 607,614 lb (275,609 kg) and the run-around gillnet quota is 
607,614 lb (275,609 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and 
subsequent fishing years, the hook-and-line quota is 551,448 lb 
(250,133 kg) and the run-around gillnet quota is 551,448 lb (250,133 
kg).
    (ii) Northern. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is 
197,064 lb

[[Page 65671]]

(89,387 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and subsequent fishing 
years, the quota is 178,848 lb (81,124 kg).
    (3) Description of Florida subzones. From November 1 through March 
31, the Florida east coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone 
south of 29[deg]25' N. lat. (a line directly east from the Flagler/
Volusia County, FL, boundary) and north of 25[deg]20.4' N. lat. (a line 
directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL, boundary). From 
April 1 through October 31, the Florida east coast subzone is no longer 
part of the Gulf migratory group king mackerel area; it is part of the 
Atlantic migratory group king mackerel area. The Florida west coast 
subzone is that part of the eastern zone south and west of 25[deg]20.4' 
N. lat. The Florida west coast subzone is further divided into southern 
and northern subzones. From November 1 through March 31, the southern 
subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that extends 
south and west from 25[deg]20.4' N. lat., north to 26[deg]19.8' N. lat. 
(a line directly west from the Lee/Collier County, FL, boundary). From 
April 1 through October 31, the southern subzone is that part of the 
Florida west coast subzone that is between 26[deg]19.8' N. lat. and 
25[deg]48' N. lat. (a line directly west from the Monroe/Collier 
County, FL, boundary). The northern subzone is that part of the Florida 
west coast subzone that is between 26[deg]19.8' N. lat. north and west 
to 87[deg]31.1' W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/
Florida boundary) year round.
    (B) Western zone. For the 2012 to 2013 fishing year, the quota is 
1,180,480 lb (535,457 kg). For the 2013 to 2014 fishing year and 
subsequent fishing years, the quota is 1,071,360 lb (485,961 kg).
    (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory 
group of king mackerel is 3.88 million lb (1.76 million kg). No more 
than 0.40 million lb (0.18 million kg) may be harvested by purse 
seines.
    (2) Migratory groups of Spanish mackerel--(i) Gulf migratory group. 
[Reserved]
    (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory 
group of Spanish mackerel is 3.13 million lb (1.42 million kg).
    (3) Migratory groups of cobia--(i) Gulf migratory group. [Reserved]
    (ii) Atlantic migratory group. The quota for the Atlantic migratory 
group of cobia is 125,712 lb (57,022 kg).
* * * * *
    7. In Sec.  622.43, revise the heading of paragraph (a), add a 
sentence at the end of the introductory paragraph in paragraph (a), 
revise the heading of paragraph (a)(3), remove the introductory 
paragraph in paragraph (a)(3), revise paragraph (a)(3)(iii), revise 
paragraph (b)(1), and revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.43  Closures.

* * * * *
    (a) Quota closures. * * * (See Sec.  622.49 for closure provisions 
when an ACL is reached or projected to be reached).
    (3) Coastal migratory pelagic fish.
* * * * *
    (iii) The sale or purchase of king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, or 
cobia of the closed species, migratory group, subzone, or gear type, is 
prohibited, including any king or Spanish mackerel taken under the bag 
limits, or cobia taken under the limited-harvest species possession 
limit specified in Sec.  622.32(c)(1).
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) The prohibition on sale/purchase during a closure for Gulf reef 
fish, coastal migratory pelagic fish, royal red shrimp, or specified 
snapper-grouper species in paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(3)(iii), (a)(4), or 
(a)(5) and (a)(6), respectively, of this section does not apply to the 
indicated species that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 
the effective date of the closure and were held in cold storage by a 
dealer or processor.
* * * * *
    (c) Reopening. When a sector has been closed based on a projection 
of the quota specified in Sec.  622.42, or the ACL specified in Sec.  
622.49, being reached and subsequent data indicate that the quota or 
ACL was not reached, the Assistant Administrator may file a 
notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. 
Such notification may reopen the sector to provide an opportunity for 
the quota or ACL to be harvested.
    8. In Sec.  622.48, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.48  Adjustment to management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish. For a species or species group: 
reporting and monitoring requirements, permitting requirements, bag and 
possession limits (including a bag limit of zero), size limits, vessel 
trip limits, closed seasons or areas and reopenings, annual catch 
limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), quotas (including a quota 
of zero), accountability measures (AMs), MSY (or proxy), OY, TAC, 
management parameters such as overfished and overfishing definitions, 
gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete prohibition), 
gear markings and identification, vessel markings and identification, 
allowable biological catch (ABC) and ABC control rules, rebuilding 
plans, sale and purchase restrictions, transfer at sea provisions, and 
restrictions relative to conditions of harvested fish (maintaining fish 
in whole condition, use as bait).
* * * * *
    9. In Sec.  622.49, revise the section heading and add paragraph 
(c) to read as follows:


Sec.  622.49   Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs).

* * * * *
    (c) Coastal migratory pelagic fish--(1) Gulf migratory group king 
mackerel--(i) Commercial sector. If commercial landings, as estimated 
by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the applicable quota 
specified in Sec.  622.42(c)(1)(i) (commercial ACL), the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the 
commercial sector for that zone, subzone, or gear type for the 
remainder of the fishing year.
    (ii) Recreational sector. If recreational landings, as estimated by 
the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 8.092 
million lb (3.670 million kg), the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to implement a bag and possession limit 
for Gulf migratory group king mackerel of zero, unless the best 
scientific information available determines that a bag limit reduction 
is unnecessary. This bag and possession limit would also apply in the 
Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/
headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. in State or 
Federal waters.
    (iii) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will 
be monitored based on the commercial fishing year, July 1 through June 
1.
    (2) Atlantic migratory group king mackerel--(i) Commercial sector--
(A) If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are 
projected to reach the quota specified in Sec.  622.42(c)(1)(ii) 
(commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder 
of the fishing year.
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(2)(i)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
king mackerel

[[Page 65672]]

are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries 
Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) for that following 
year by the amount of any commercial sector overage in the prior 
fishing year.
    (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and 
recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, 
as specified in paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, the AA will file 
a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the bag limit by the 
amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the 
recreational annual catch target (ACT), but do not exceed the 
recreational ACL, in the following fishing year. The recreational ACT 
is 6.11 million lb (2.77 million kg). The recreational ACL is 6.58 
million lb (2.99 million lb)
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(2)(ii)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
king mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. 
Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the 
following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACL and ACT for that 
following year by the amount of any recreational sector overage in the 
prior fishing year.
    (C) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will be 
evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, March through February. 
Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL based on a 
moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the FMP.
    (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel is 
10.46 million lb (4.75 million kg).
    (3) Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel--(i) If the sum of the 
commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches 
or is projected to reach the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph 
(c)(3)(iii) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational 
sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the 
effective date of such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf 
migratory group Spanish mackerel is prohibited and the harvest and 
possession limit of this species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. This 
possession limit also applies in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a 
valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory 
pelagic fish has been issued, without regard to where such species were 
harvested, i.e. in State or Federal waters.
    (ii) For purposes of tracking the ACL, recreational landings will 
be evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, April through March.
    (iii) The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel is 
5.15 million lb (4.75 million kg).
    (4) Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel--(i) Commercial 
sector--(A) If commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or 
are projected to reach the quota specified in Sec.  622.42(c)(2)(ii) 
(commercial ACL), the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register to close the commercial sector for the remainder 
of the fishing year.
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(4)(i)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(4)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of 
U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the 
following fishing year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) 
for that following year by the amount of any commercial sector overage 
in the prior fishing year.
    (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and 
recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, 
as specified in paragraph (c)(4)(iii) of this section, the AA will file 
a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the bag limit by the 
amount necessary to ensure recreational landings may achieve the 
recreational ACT, but do not exceed the recreational ACL, in the 
following fishing year. The recreational ACT is 2.32 million lb (1.05 
million kg). The recreational ACL is 2.56 million lb (1.16 million kg).
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(4)(ii)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(4)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
Spanish mackerel are overfished, based on the most recent status of 
U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the 
following fishing year to reduce the recreational ACT for that 
following year by the amount of any recreational sector overage in the 
prior fishing year.
    (C) For purposes of tracking the ACL and ACT, recreational landings 
will be evaluated based on the commercial fishing year, March through 
February. Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP.
    (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel 
is 5.69 million lb (2.58 million kg).
    (5) Gulf migratory group cobia--(i) If the sum of the commercial 
and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is 
projected to reach the stock ACT, as specified in paragraph (c)(5)(ii) 
of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for 
the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of 
such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf migratory group 
cobia is prohibited and the harvest and possession limit of this 
species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. This bag and possession limit 
also applies in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal 
charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. 
in state or Federal water.
    (ii) The stock ACT for Gulf migratory group cobia is 1.31 million 
lb (0.59 million kg). The stock ACL for Gulf migratory group cobia is 
1.46 million lb (0.66 million kg).
    (6) Atlantic migratory group cobia--(i) Commercial sector--(A) If 
commercial landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to 
reach the quota specified in Sec.  622.42(c)(3)(ii) (commercial ACL), 
the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register 
to close the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year.
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(6)(i)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(6)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
cobia are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries 
Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year to reduce the commercial quota (commercial ACL) for that following 
year by the amount of any

[[Page 65673]]

commercial sector overage in the prior fishing year.
    (ii) Recreational sector. (A) If the sum of the commercial and 
recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, 
as specified in paragraph (c)(6)(iii) of this section, the AA will file 
a notification with the Office of the Federal Register, at or near the 
beginning of the following fishing year to reduce the length of the 
following recreational fishing season by the amount necessary to ensure 
recreational landings may achieve the recreational ACT, but do not 
exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year. Further, 
during that following year, if necessary, the AA may file additional 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to readjust the 
reduced fishing season to ensure recreational harvest achieves but does 
not exceed the intended harvest level. The recreational ACT is 
1,184,688 lb (537,365 kg). The recreational ACL is 1,445,687 (655,753 
kg).
    (B) In addition to the measures specified in paragraph 
(c)(6)(ii)(A), if the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, 
as estimated by the SRD, exceeds the stock ACL, as specified in 
paragraph (c)(6)(iii) of this section, and Atlantic migratory group 
cobia are overfished, based on the most recent status of U.S. Fisheries 
Report to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year to reduce the recreational ACL and ACT for that following year by 
the amount of any recreational sector overage in the prior fishing 
year.
    (C) Recreational landings will be evaluated relative to the ACL 
based on a moving multi-year average of landings, as described in the 
FMP.
    (iii) The stock ACL for Atlantic migratory group cobia is 1,571,399 
lb (712,775 kg).

[FR Doc. 2011-27348 Filed 10-21-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P