[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 90 (Wednesday, May 9, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 27175-27176]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11202]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120412409-2409-01]
RIN 0648-BB95


Control Date To Limit Excessive Accumulation of Control, 
Qualifying Landings History, and Referendum Eligibility in the Monkfish 
Fishery

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

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR); request for 
comments.

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SUMMARY: At the request of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Councils (Councils), this notice announces a control date 
that may be applicable to, but not limited to, limits on the 
accumulation of excessive control or ownership of fishing privileges, 
qualifying landings history for an allocation-based management program, 
and referendum qualification, should one be required in the monkfish 
fishery. This notice is intended to promote awareness of possible 
rulemaking; provide notice to the public that any future accumulation 
of fishing privilege interests in the monkfish fishery may be affected, 
restricted, or even nullified; and to discourage speculative behavior 
in the market for fishing privileges while the Councils consider 
whether and how such limitations on accumulation of fishing privileges 
should be developed. Interested participants should locate and preserve 
records that substantiate and verify their ownership or control of 
monkfish permits and other fishing privileges, as well as monkfish 
landings history in Federal waters.

DATES: May 9, 2012, shall be known as the ``control date'' for the 
monkfish fishery and may be used as a reference date for future 
management measures related to the maintenance of a fishery with 
characteristics consistent with the Councils' objectives and applicable 
Federal laws. Written comments must be received on or before 5 p.m., 
local time, June 8, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0080,'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0080'' in the keyword 
search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting 
list and click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on the right of that 
line.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Daniel Morris, Acting 
Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great 
Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, 
``Comments on Monkfish Accumulation Limits Control Date.''
     Fax (978) 281-9135; Attn: Douglas Christel.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. 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. 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.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Christel, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, phone: 978-281-9141, fax: 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Monkfish FMP is jointly managed by the 
Councils. The Councils have managed the fishery since 1999 primarily 
through the allocation of days-at-sea (DAS) and establishment of trip 
limits for both the directed (DAS) and incidental fisheries. While 
scientific evidence for stock structure remains equivocal, the fishery 
has been managed as two stocks divided by a boundary that bisects 
Georges Bank. Since 2007, both stock components have been determined by 
stock assessments to be rebuilt (above their respective biomass 
targets) and not subject to overfishing.
    On November 30, 2010, the Councils published a Notice of Intent to 
prepare an amendment (Amendment 6) to the FMP to consider modifications 
to the

[[Page 27176]]

management program that may include one of several catch shares 
management alternatives, including sectors or Limited Access Privilege 
Programs (LAPPs). Sectors are voluntary, self-selected groups of 
fishermen that are allocated a portion of the available catch. Sector 
management has already been adopted in the Northeast Multispecies FMP, 
and a substantial number of vessels that have limited access permits in 
the monkfish fishery also participate in groundfish sectors. LAPPs are 
a category of management approaches that provides a person or entity 
(for example, a community) the exclusive privilege to harvest a 
specific portion of a fishery's total allowable catch. LAPPs can 
include individual fishery quotas (IFQs) or community development 
quotas. Section 303A of the Magnuson-Stevens Act specified general 
requirements for LAPPs, including the requirement that such programs be 
approved in a referendum of eligible participants (as defined by the 
Councils) for New England fisheries.
    The Councils are considering catch shares management in the 
monkfish fishery to address some operational considerations for vessels 
that participate in the monkfish fishery and also are members of 
groundfish sectors. NOAA's 2010 Catch Share Policy promotes catch 
shares management and encourages Councils to consider such programs, 
where appropriate, to achieve the conservation, social, and economic 
goals of sustainable fishery management.
    Because some elements of catch share programs involve allocation of 
privileges based on historical performance in the fishery, including, 
in the case of LAPPs, eligibility to participate in the required 
referendum, on February 2 and February 16, 2012, the Councils requested 
that NMFS publish this ANPR announcing a control date in the monkfish 
fishery, in part to discourage speculative activity, including, but not 
limited to, increasing landings history, accumulation of fishing 
permits, or participation in the fishery solely for the purpose of 
qualifying to vote in the referendum.
    The date of publication of this notification, May 9, 2012, shall be 
known as the ``control date'' for the monkfish fishery and may be used 
as a reference date for future management measures in determining how 
to treat fishing privileges or landings history acquired before this 
date and those acquired after this date, depending on the Councils' 
determinations on limiting control and ownership of such privileges and 
landings. The establishment of a control date, however, does not 
obligate the Councils to use this control date or take any action, nor 
does it prevent the Councils from picking another control date or 
imposing limits on permits acquired prior to the control date.
    Accordingly, this notification is intended to promote awareness 
that the Councils may be developing management measures to address 
these concerns, to provide notice to the public that any current or 
future accumulation of fishing privilege interests in the monkfish 
fishery may be affected, restricted, or even nullified, and discourage 
speculative behavior in the market for fishing privileges while the 
Councils consider whether and how such limitations on accumulation of 
fishing privileges should be developed. Any measures the Councils are 
considering may require changes to the Monkfish FMP. Such measures may 
be adopted in a future amendment to the FMP, which would include 
opportunity for further public participation and comment.
    If the Councils decide to propose a LAPP for the monkfish fishery, 
this control date may be used in determining eligibility for referendum 
voters. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) section 303A(c)(6)(D) requires that any IFQ 
program developed by the New England Fishery Management Council must be 
approved by a referendum. NMFS published guidelines for conducting a 
referendum on December 15, 2008 (73 FR 75968), that detailed the 
procedures for (1) determining procedures and voting eligibility 
requirements for IFQ program referenda, and (2) conducting such 
referenda in a fair and equitable manner. A referendum conducted on a 
proposed IFQ program in New England must be approved by more than \2/3\ 
of those voting in the referendum among eligible permit holders and 
other eligible voters. Other eligible voters may include crew members 
who derive a significant portion of their income from the monkfish 
fishery.
    This notification also gives the public notice that interested 
participants should locate and preserve records that substantiate and 
verify their ownership or control of monkfish permits and other fishing 
privileges in the monkfish fishery, as well as monkfish landings in 
Federal waters. Fishing privileges include, but are not limited to, 
vessels, fishing permits, DAS, and any other type of catch share.
    This notification and control date do not impose any legal 
obligations, requirements, or expectation.

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

    Dated: May 4, 2012.
Paul Doremus,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-11202 Filed 5-8-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P