[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 49 (Tuesday, March 13, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14697-14698]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-6048]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 0910051338-0151-02]
RIN 0648-XB059


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Trip Limit Adjustments for the Common Pool 
Fishery

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment of landing limits.

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SUMMARY: NMFS increases the possession limits for Georges Bank (GB) cod 
and Southern New England (SNE)/Mid-Atlantic (MA) yellowtail flounder 
for Northeast (NE) multispecies common pool vessels for the remainder 
of the 2011 fishing year (FY), through April 30, 2012. This is intended 
to facilitate the harvest of GB cod and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder to 
allow the total catch of these stocks to approach their pertinent 
common pool sub-annual catch limits (sub-ACLs).

DATES: Effective March 8, 2012, through April 30, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brett Alger, Fisheries Management 
Specialist, (978) 675-2153, fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the NE multispecies 
fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648, subpart F. The regulations at 
Sec.  648.86(o) authorize the NE Regional Administrator (RA) to adjust 
the possession limits for common pool vessels in order to optimize the 
harvest of NE regulated multispecies by preventing the overharvest or 
underharvest of the pertinent common pool sub-ACLs. For FY 2011, the 
common pool sub-ACLs for GB cod is 205,030 lb (93 mt). The initial FY 
2011 trip limit for GB cod was 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per day-at-sea 
(DAS), up to 20,000 lb (9,071.8 kg) per trip, for Category A DAS 
vessels. However, the intended initial trip limit for GB cod for FY 
2011 under Framework Adjustment 45 to the NE Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) was 3,000 lb (1,360.8 kg) per DAS, up to 30,000 
lb (13,607.8 kg) per trip. Therefore, an inseason action that published 
in the Federal Register on May 19, 2011 (76 FR 30035) increased the 
trip limit to 3,000 lb (1,360.8 kg) per DAS, up to 30,000 (13,607.8 kg) 
per trip to adjust for this inadvertent error. Subsequently, an 
inseason action that published in the Federal Register on August 30, 
2011 (76 FR 53832), reduced the GB cod trip limit to 300 lb (136.1 kg) 
per DAS, up to 600 lb (272.2 kg) per trip, for Category A DAS vessels. 
For Handgear B vessels, the GB cod trip limit was reduced to 25 lb 
(11.3 kg) per trip from 75 lb (34.0 kg) per trip on October 3, 2011 (76 
FR 61060).
    For FY 2011, the common pool sub-ACL for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder 
is 265,555 lb (120 mt). The initial trip limit for SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder was 500 lb (226.8 kg) per DAS up to 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per 
trip, and has not been revised for this fishing year.
    As of February 25, 2011, the best available catch information, 
including information from Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) reports and 
dealer reports, indicates that approximately 58.5 percent of the GB cod 
and 1.2 percent of the SNE/MA yellowtail flounder common pool sub-ACLs 
has been harvested. Based on this information, the RA has determined 
that additional measures are warranted to help facilitate the harvest 
of GB cod and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder to better allow the total 
catch of these stocks by

[[Page 14698]]

common pool vessels to approach their pertinent common pool sub-ACLs. 
Therefore, the trip limit for GB cod is increased to 1,500 lb (608.4 
kg) per DAS, up to 4,500 lb (2,041.1 kg) per trip; and the trip limit 
for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder is increased to 1,500 lb (608.4 kg) per 
DAS, up to 4,500 lb (2,041.8 kg) per trip, for Category A DAS vessels, 
effective March 8, 2012, through April 30, 2012. In addition, the trip 
limit for GB cod is increased to 75 lb (34.0 kg) per trip for open 
access Handgear B vessels effective March 8, 2012, through April 30, 
2012. This action does not change the current cod trip limit for 
vessels with a limited access Handgear A permit (300 lb (136.1. kg) per 
trip) or Small Vessel Category permit (300 lb (136.1 kg) of cod, 
haddock, and yellowtail flounder combined). Catch will continue to be 
monitored through dealer-reported landings, VMS catch reports, and 
other available information, and if necessary, additional adjustments 
to common pool management measures may be made.

Classification

    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good 
cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) to waive prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment for this inseason adjustment because 
notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest. The regulations at Sec.  648.86(o) grant the RA authority to 
adjust the NE multispecies trip limits for common pool vessels in order 
to prevent the overharvest or underharvest of the pertinent common pool 
sub-ACLs. The information informing this action only very recently 
became available. Give this fact, this action increases the trip limits 
for GB cod and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder to reduce the probability of 
underharvesting the common pool sub-ACLs. The information informing 
this action only very recently became available. Given his fact, the 
time necessary to provide for prior notice and comment would prevent 
NMFS from implementing the necessary trip limit adjustments in a timely 
manner. A resulting delay in the liberalization of trip limits would 
unnecessarily restrain catch rates for GB cod and SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder, thereby preventing the total catch of these stocks to further 
approach the pertinent common pool sub-ACL. Giving effect to this rule 
as soon as possible will prevent these unnecessary impacts.
    Further, the AA finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to 
waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this action. This action 
increases the trip limits for GB cod and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder to 
reduce the probability of underharvesting the common pool sub-ACLs. A 
delay in the increase of these trip limits would prevent vessels from 
harvesting catch at higher rates and potentially prevent the total 
catch of these stocks to further approach the pertinent common pool 
sub-ACL. Giving effect to this rule as soon as possible will prevent 
these unnecessary impacts.

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

    Dated: March 8, 2012.
Carrie Selberg,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-6048 Filed 3-8-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P