[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 31 (Thursday, February 14, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 10556-10557]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-03476]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120109034-2171-01]
RIN 0648-XC456


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.

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

SUMMARY: This temporary rule increases the possession limits for 
Georges Bank cod, Gulf of Maine cod, and Southern New England/Mid-
Atlantic yellowtail flounder for Northeast multispecies common pool 
vessels for the remainder of the 2012 fishing year. This rule also 
decreases the trip limits for white hake and pollock. This is intended 
to facilitate the harvest of Georges Bank cod, Gulf of Maine cod, and 
Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder to allow the 
total catch of these stocks to approach their pertinent common pool 
sub-annual catch limits sub-annual catch limits and prevent the 
overharvest of the white hake and pollock sub-annual catch limits.

DATES: Effective February 11, 2013, through April 30, 2013.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the Northeast (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-annual 
catch limits (ACLs). As of January 30, 2013, Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod, 
Georges Bank (GB) cod, and Southern New England (SNE)/Mid-Atlatnic (MA) 
yellowtail flounder catch is well below their respective quotas, and 
conversely, catch of white hake and pollock is relatively high with 
approximately 3 months remaining in fishing year (FY) 2012. Table 1 
includes the common pool sub-ACL for each stock affected by this action 
and the amount that has been caught as of February 7, 2013.

              Table 1--Sub-ACLs and Current Catch of Five NE Multispecies Stocks in the Common Pool
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Percent
                                                                   Sub-ACL (lb)    Sub-ACL (mt)      harvested
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GOM Cod.........................................................         176,414              80            35.5
GB Cod..........................................................         179,489              81            20.3
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder......................................         338,099             153             6.1
White Hake......................................................          57,896              26            88.7
Pollock.........................................................         180,323              82            77.8
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Framework Adjustment 47 (FW 47) to the NE Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) established the current trip limits for the 
common pool vessels fishing under a Category A day-at-sea (DAS) (77 FR 
26104). Since then, there have been no adjustments to any trip limits 
for any common pool vessels. Table 2 contains the current landing limit 
and the new landing limit being implemented by this action.

Table 2--The Current and New Trip Limits for Five NE Multispecies Stocks
                           in the Common Pool
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Current DAS limit       New DAS limit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GOM Cod.....................  650 lb (294.8 kg)     2,000 lb (907.2 kg)
                               per DAS up to 2,000   per DAS up to 6,000
                               lb (907.2 kg) per     lb (2,721 kg) per
                               trip.                 trip.
GB Cod......................  2,000 lb (907.2 kg)   3,000 lb (1,361 kg)
                               per DAS up to         per DAS up to
                               20,000 lb (9,072      30,000 lb (13,608
                               kg) per trip.         kg) per trip.
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder..  1,500 lb (680.4 kg)   5,000 lb (2,268 kg)
                               per DAS up to 4,500   per DAS up to
                               lb (2,041 kg) per     15,000 lb (6,804
                               trip.                 kg) per trip.
White Hake..................  1,500 lb (680.4 kg)   500 lb (226.8 kg)
                               per trip.             per trip.
Pollock.....................  Unlimited...........  10,000 lb (4,536 kg)
                                                     per trip.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The regulations require that the Handgear B (HB) trip limit for GOM 
and GB cod be adjusted proportionally (rounded up to the nearest 25 lb 
(11.3 kg)) if either the GOM or GB cod trip limit applicable to a 
vessel fishing

[[Page 10557]]

under a NE multispecies DAS permit is adjusted. Under the NE 
Multispecies FMP, the initial GOM cod trip limits for NE multispecies 
common pool vessels fishing under a Category A DAS is set at 800 lb 
(362.9 kg) per DAS. However, FY 2012 began with a GOM cod trip limit of 
650 lb (294.8 kg) per DAS, as implemented through FW 47, due to a 
reduced GOM cod sub-ACL for the common pool. Ultimately, the HB trip 
limit for GOM cod is adjusted according to trip limit in the FMP (i.e., 
800 lb (362.9 kg) per DAS), not what was set under FW 47. For GB cod, 
the FMP establishes a limit of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per DAS and FW 47 
did not implement anything different from that.
    The new landing limit for GOM cod is 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per DAS, 
an increase of 150 percent from 800 lb (362.9 kg) per DAS. Based on 
this new trip limit for GOM cod for Category A DAS vessels, the new GOM 
cod trip limit for HB vessels is 200 lb (90.7 kg) per trip (75 lb (34.0 
kg) per trip increased by 150 percent = 187.5 lb (85.0 kg) per trip, 
rounded up to 200 lb (90.7 kg) per trip). The new landing limit for GB 
cod is 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per DAS, an increase of 50 percent from the 
original landing limit of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per DAS. Based on the new 
trip limit for GB cod for Category A DAS vessels, the new GB cod trip 
limit for HB vessels is 125 lb (56.7 kg) per trip (75 lb (34.0 kg) per 
trip increased by 50 percent = 112.5 lb (51.0 kg) per trip, rounded up 
to 125 lb (56.7 kg) per trip). Increasing these trip limits does not 
jeopardize current conservation objectives.
    The trip limit adjustments for Category A DAS and HB vessels are 
effective February 11, 2013, through April 30, 2013. 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, vessel monitoring system catch reports, and other 
available information, and if necessary, additional adjustments to 
common pool management measures may be made.

Classification

    This action is required 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)(B) to waive prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment because it 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. Given this fact, this 
action increases the trip limits for GOM cod, GB cod, and SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder to reduce the probability of underharvesting the 
common pool sub-ACLs. A resulting delay in the trip limit increases of 
these three stocks could result in less revenue for the fishing 
industry and be counter to the objective of achieving optimum yield. A 
resulting delay in the trip limit decreases for white hake and pollock 
reduces the probability of exceeding the applicable common pool sub-
ACLs. If the sub-ACLs are exceeded, this would undermine conservation 
objectives and trigger the implementation of accountability measures 
that will have negative economic impacts on the participants in the 
common pool. Given this 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.
    The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to 
waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated 
above.

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

    Dated: February 11, 2013.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-03476 Filed 2-11-13; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P