[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 16, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3401-3402]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00808]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC434


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, 
Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Scoping Process; Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council; Public Hearings

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Mid-Atlantic 
Council) announces its intention to prepare, in cooperation with NMFS, 
an EIS in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act to 
assess potential effects on the human environment of alternative 
measures to protect deep-sea corals in the Mid-Atlantic region.
    This notice announces a public process for determining the scope of 
issues to be addressed, and for identifying the significant issues 
related to deep-sea coral protections in the Mid-Atlantic. This notice 
is to alert the interested public of the scoping process, the 
development of the Draft EIS, and to provide for public participation 
in that process. If, during development of the Draft EIS, it can be 
determined that the alternatives are not expected to have significant 
impacts on the human environment, an Environmental Assessment (EA) may 
be prepared in place of an EIS. This determination will depend on the 
scope of issues raised and the alternatives developed. Information 
obtained during the scoping process will be used to develop either an 
EIS or an EA as appropriate. This action is necessary to provide 
analytical support for an amendment (Amendment 16) to the Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish 
(MSB), which addresses protections of deep-sea corals from the impacts 
of fishing gear.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before 11:59 p.m., EST, 
on February 15, 2013. Two public scoping meetings will be held during 
this comment period. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times, 
and locations.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be sent by any of the following 
methods:
     Email to the following address: nmfs.ner.msbam16@noaa.gov;
     Mail or hand deliver to Dr. Christopher M. Moore, 
Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North 
State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901. Mark the outside of the 
envelope ``Deep Sea Corals Amendment Scoping Comments''; or
     Fax to (302) 674-5399.
    The scoping document may also be obtained from the Mid-Atlantic 
Council office at the previously provided address, or by request to the 
Mid-Atlantic Council by telephone (302) 674-2331, or via the Internet 
at http://www.mafmc.org/fmp/msb.htm.
    Comments may also be provided verbally at either of the two public 
scoping meetings. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for dates, times, and 
locations.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, 
DE 19901, (telephone 302-674-2331).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Mid-Atlantic Council has initiated this amendment to minimize 
the impacts of fishing gear on deep-sea corals within the Council's 
jurisdiction. The Mid-Atlantic Council and the New England Fishery 
Management Council (New England Council) have developed a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) identifying areas of consensus and common strategy 
related to conservation of corals and mitigation of the negative 
impacts of fishery/coral interactions. The terms of the MOU include 
defined areas of jurisdiction for deep-sea coral protection measures, 
aligning with the Mid-Atlantic and New England Council region 
boundaries as defined in 50 CFR 600.105.
    The New England Council began developing alternatives for deep-sea 
coral protections as part of their Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Omnibus 
Amendment 2, and at their September 2012 meeting, voted to split the 
range of alternatives pertaining to deep sea corals into a separate 
omnibus amendment. The Mid-Atlantic Council will develop alternatives 
applicable to areas south of the inter-council boundary with the New 
England Council, with the understanding that the New England Council 
will implement coral-related measures north of this boundary.
    At this time, the Mid-Atlantic Council is expected to consider 
several types of management measures, including, but not limited to:
     No action; no additional measures would be adopted.
     Designation of deep-sea coral protection zones, under the

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discretionary authority described in section 303(b)(2)(B) of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), where 
fishing may be restricted in order to protect deep-sea corals from 
physical damage caused by fishing gear. Such zones would be located 
within the geographical range of the MSB fishery, as described in the 
FMP. However, management measures may apply to any MSA-regulated 
fishing activity within this range. Therefore, any measures pursued 
under this authority would likely apply to all federally managed 
fisheries within the geographic range of the MSB fisheries. The 
geographical range of this fishery includes the coastal and EEZ waters 
of the U.S. East Coast, with a core fishery management area from North 
Carolina to Maine.
     Designation of deep-sea corals as a component of EFH or as 
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs).
     Measures to minimize bycatch of deep-sea coral species.
     Special access programs to provide for continued fishing 
in or near deep-sea coral areas for specific fisheries or gear types.
     Exploratory fishing programs to allow for future 
development of new fisheries in a way that protects deep-sea corals.
    The Mid-Atlantic Council is seeking comments on the scope of 
alternatives to be considered in this amendment, as well as general 
comments or concerns relating to deep-sea coral protections in the mid-
Atlantic.

Scoping Meetings

    Two scoping meetings to facilitate public comment will be held on 
the following dates and locations:
    1. February 5, 2013, 7-9 p.m., via webinar; connection information 
to be available at http://www.mafmc.org/meetings/meetings.htm or by 
contacting the Mid-Atlantic Council (see ADDRESSES);
    2. February 13, 2013, 4 p.m., Embassy Suites Hampton Roads, 1700 
Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA 23666.

Special Accommodations

    The scoping meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. 
Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should 
be directed to M. Jan Saunders (302-674-2331 ext. 18) at least 5 days 
prior to the meeting date.

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

    Dated: January 9, 2013.
Emily H. Menashes,
Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-00808 Filed 1-15-13; 8:45 am]
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