[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 43 (Tuesday, March 5, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14226-14230]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05044]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120813331-3122-02]
RIN 0648-XC164


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern 
United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Sector Exemptions; Final 
Rule Implementing a Targeted Acadian Redfish Fishery for Sector Vessels

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This action expands on a previously approved sector exemption 
by allowing groundfish sector trawl vessels to harvest redfish using 
nets with codend mesh as small as 4.5 inches (11.4 cm). In addition, 
this action allows sectors to develop an industry-funded at-sea 
monitoring program for sector trips targeting redfish with trawl nets 
with mesh sizes that are less than the regulated mesh size requirement. 
This action is necessary to expand an exemption from current 
regulations and is intended to allow sector vessels the opportunity to 
increase redfish harvest and subsequent profitability, above what is 
already being harvested.

DATES: Effective February 28, 2013, until April 30, 2013.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the accompanying environmental assessment (EA) and 
supplement and the draft of Component 2 of the REDNET project are 
available from the NMFS Northeast Regional Office: John K. Bullard, 
Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great 
Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. These documents are also 
accessible via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Whitmore, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, phone (978) 281-9182, fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Regulations from Amendment 16 to the Northeast (NE) Multispecies 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) allow a groundfish sector to request 
exemptions from Federal fishing regulations through its annual 
operations plan. Based on catch data from a collaborative research 
project, referred to as REDNET, several NE multispecies sectors 
submitted a regulatory exemption request to fish with 4.5-inch (11.4-
cm) codend mesh when targeting Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) in 
a portion of the Gulf of Maine, east of the year-round Western Gulf of 
Maine Closure Area. A detailed explanation of the REDNET research 
project, sector exemption requests to target redfish, and the 
development of this particular exemption request can be found in the 
proposed rule for this action (77 FR 66947; November 8, 2012). Those 
details are not repeated here.
    Regulatory exemption requests are normally proposed, reviewed, and 
approved through the final rule implementing the annual sector 
operations plans. However, sectors can request exemptions at any time 
within the fishing year (for a more detailed explanation of the sector 
exemption request process and current sector exemptions, see 77 FR 
8780; February 15, 2012). The New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council) has requested that we pursue exemptions allowing sector 
vessels to more efficiently target redfish, and the Council's Research 
Steering Committee has endorsed the approval of a 4.5-inch (11.4-cm) 
mesh exemption. Because of this, we proposed a 4.5-inch (11.4-cm)

[[Page 14227]]

codend trawl mesh exemption for potential mid-year implementation. All 
measures that were proposed for this exemption are also extended to the 
6-inch (15.2-cm) codend mesh exemption for trips targeting redfish, 
which is currently approved for fishing year 2012. Table 1 below 
provides a timeline summarizing the key events for this action.

        Table 1--Timeline of Targeted Redfish Fishery Development
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
December 1, 2011..........................  The Sustainable Harvest
                                             Sector and Northeast
                                             Fishery Sectors submit an
                                             exemption request to use
                                             codend mesh as small as 4.5-
                                             inches (11.4 cm) to target
                                             redfish.
December 21, 2011.........................  NMFS informs the requesting
                                             sectors that the exemption
                                             request was submitted too
                                             late to be considered for
                                             approval by May 1, 2012,
                                             the start of fishing year
                                             2012.
February 1, 2012..........................  Preliminary findings from
                                             Component 2 (of 6) of the
                                             REDNET report are presented
                                             to the Council.
February 7, 2012..........................  The Council requests NMFS
                                             expedite approval of a
                                             sector exemption to target
                                             redfish.
April 2012................................  A draft of Component 2 (of
                                             6) of the REDNET report is
                                             completed.
May 21, 2012..............................  NMFS requests the Council's
                                             Research Steering Committee
                                             to review the draft REDNET
                                             report.
June 25, 2012.............................  After reviewing the catch
                                             data (including discards)
                                             presented in the draft
                                             REDNET report, the Research
                                             Steering Committee
                                             recommends that an
                                             exemption allowing vessels
                                             to use 4.5-inch (11.4-cm)
                                             mesh codend to target
                                             redfish be approved
                                             annually based on catch
                                             information from the
                                             previous year.
November 8, 2012..........................  NMFS publishes a proposed
                                             rule to implement a
                                             targeted Acadian redfish
                                             fishery.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Approved Measures

1. Exemption From 6.5-Inch (16.5-cm) Codend Mesh Size So Vessels Can 
Target Redfish

    This final rule authorizes a regulatory exemption for the remainder 
of fishing year 2012 that allows sector vessels to target redfish with 
codend mesh greater than or equal to 4.5 inches (11.4-cm) but less than 
6.5 inches (16.5-cm) (the required minimum codend mesh size for the 
area fished).
Requirements for Mesh Size Exemption Use
    Sectors that intend to use this exemption must notify NMFS and 
receive amended letters of authorization prior to fishing. To aid in 
identifying trips targeting redfish with small-mesh nets, sector 
vessels intending to utilize this exemption are required to submit a 
trip start hail identifying the trip as one that will target redfish 
under the exemption. In addition, all sector trawl vessels that intend 
to target redfish with codend mesh less than 6.5 inches (16.5-cm) are 
required to have an observer or at-sea monitor on board. Mesh sizes are 
measured as described at 50 CFR 648.80(f).
Mesh Exemption Performance Monitoring Requirements
    To ensure that this exemption does not negatively impact fish 
stocks, we have established two catch thresholds that, if exceeded by a 
sector, could result in the NMFS Northeast Regional Administrator 
rescinding the approval of this exemption for the sector in question. 
First, to help ensure that vessels do not direct on other species of 
fish, monthly catch amounts of regulated groundfish (both landings and 
discards) when trawling small mesh under this exemption must be 
comprised of at least 80 percent redfish. Second, to help mitigate 
catches of sub-legal sized groundfish, total groundfish discards 
(including redfish discards), may not exceed 5 percent of all regulated 
groundfish caught monthly when trawling with small-mesh nets. These 
thresholds were determined to be consistent with catch information from 
REDNET research trips. The initial findings from the REDNET project, 
including catch data, were presented to the Council and its Research 
Steering Committee, both which endorsed the report and encouraged NMFS 
to approve an exemption which would allow redfish to be targeted with 
smaller mesh. A presentation on the proposed rule, including the 
thresholds, was also given to the Council's Groundfish Committee on 
December 19, 2012. Catch data recorded by the observer or at-sea 
monitor will be used to monitor these thresholds. The Regional 
Administrator retains the authority to further adjust these two 
thresholds, if necessary, to help ensure that vessels are directing on 
redfish and catching minimal amounts of undersized groundfish.
Mesh Exemption Revocation
    An interim reporting process is being developed to monitor catch 
under this exemption. Sector catch utilizing this exemption will be 
analyzed on a calendar monthly basis with a cumulative calculation 
throughout the fishing year. For example, if a sector discards 2 lb 
(0.91 kg) out of 100 lb (45.36 kg) of regulated groundfish caught 
(catch includes landings and discards) in month one, and 6 lb (2.72 kg) 
out of 200 lb (90.72 kg) of regulated groundfish in month two, the 
sector would have cumulatively discarded 8 lb (3.63 kg) out of 300 lb 
(136.08 kg), or 2.67 percent. If a sector exceeds either the 80 percent 
redfish threshold or 5 percent discard threshold, it would have 1 month 
to correct the overage(s) (i.e., the sector must be completely 
compliant with the thresholds by the end of the ``correcting'' month). 
If after 1 month the sector has still exceeded either threshold, the 
exemption for that particular sector could be revoked by the Regional 
Administrator for the remainder of the fishing year through a notice 
published in the Federal Register. Because of these catch thresholds, a 
catch monitoring program, and the requirement to submit a trip start 
hail, sector vessels are no longer required to submit daily catch 
reports when utilizing either this or the existing 6.0-inch (15.2-cm) 
codend mesh exemption for redfish. The reporting mechanisms used for 
submitting catch data may be adjusted at any time if deemed necessary 
by the Regional Administrator.
    In addition, the Regional Administrator reserves the right to 
revoke this exemption on determining that the exemption is negatively 
impacting spawning fish, rebuilding efforts for any groundfish stock, 
or populations of stocks that the current minimum codend mesh size of 
6.5 inches (16.5-cm) was intended to protect.
Use of Multiple Mesh Sizes
    We specifically requested public comment on whether vessels 
requesting this exemption should be allowed to fish with both exempted 
small mesh and regulated codend mesh nets for other groundfish stocks 
on the same trip citing concern that some requirements could be 
circumvented. For example, because monitors do not observe every haul 
(fishing operations may occur while monitors are sleeping), exact catch 
from these hauls cannot be identified and included in catch thresholds.

[[Page 14228]]

    This action allows vessels to fish with multiple mesh sizes while 
fishing on a trip targeting redfish with small mesh. As stated in the 
proposed rule, if the majority of hauls are not observed, the Regional 
Administrator could revoke the exemption. Vessels not fishing under an 
exempted redfish trip remain subject to the minimum mesh size 
requirements specified in the regulations.
Discard Rate for Exempted and Non-Exempted Trips
    All exempted small-mesh redfish trips will be observed and discard 
estimates on observed hauls will be used to calculate discards of 
unobserved hauls--a total amount of discards will then be derived for 
the entire trip. All groundfish catch from a declared small-mesh 
exempted redfish trip will be debited against the sector's allocation. 
No catch from small-mesh exempted redfish trips (even catch from mesh 
greater than 6.5 inches (16.5-cm)) will be factored into a sector's 
overall discard rate because targeted redfish trips may exhibit 
different behavior and/or catch rates.

2. Request To Develop Industry-Funded At-Sea Monitoring Programs for 
Trips Targeting Redfish

    As previously outlined, any sector vessel targeting redfish under a 
mesh size exemption is required to have an observer or at-sea monitor 
on board. Some sectors are concerned that vessels may lose flexibility 
if they have to wait to be randomly selected for a federally-funded 
observer or at-sea monitor through the existing monitoring programs. 
Several sectors asked to work with us to develop an industry-funded at-
sea monitoring program to avoid delays while waiting for random 
monitoring selection. We have determined that we can support a small-
scale industry-funded program. Limitations to the size of the program 
are due to a limited pool of available observers and at-sea monitors.
Industry-Funded Monitoring Program Plan Approval
    Four sectors (26 vessels) have expressed interest in funding 
additional at-sea monitoring coverage for exempted trips targeting 
redfish. Any sector interested in developing an industry-funded at-sea 
monitoring program will be required to develop a monitoring plan as 
part of its operation plan to be approved by NMFS. If NMFS determines 
the plan is sufficient, NMFS will approve it along with the rest of the 
sector's operations plan. For fishing year 2012, any approved 
monitoring program will be included as an addendum to the sector's 
operations plan.
Pre-Trip Notification While Using Industry-Funded Monitors
    A vessel fishing with an industry-funded at-sea monitor must notify 
NMFS at least 48 hours in advance of taking an exempted small-mesh trip 
targeting redfish. Instead of calling into the Pre-Trip Notification 
System currently established for sector vessels, the vessel will call 
into a separate system. Call-in information will be provided to the 
sector vessels utilizing the exemption upon implementation of the 
program.
Industry-Funded Program Participation
    We proposed that all vessels enrolled in a sector with an approved 
industry-funded program would forfeit the opportunity to have a 
randomly assigned federally funded observer or at-sea monitor. We also 
proposed that any vessel in a sector that has an approved industry-
funded program and elects to target redfish under the exemption would 
be required to pay for at-sea monitoring coverage for that redfish 
trip. However, based on comments received, this final rule allows 
sectors to propose industry-funded at-sea monitoring programs that 
apply only to specific vessels within a sector. Vessels that intend to 
fish with industry-funded at-sea monitors must be identified in the 
sector's monitoring plan. Identified vessels may not opt-out of the 
industry-funded program until the following fishing year. While 
identified vessels may still be selected for random observer or at-sea 
monitoring coverage when not targeting redfish under this exemption, 
these vessels may not fish under this exemption with a randomly 
selected observer or at-sea monitor. All other vessels in the sector 
may only participate in the exempted small-mesh fishery if their trip 
is selected for random observer or at-sea monitoring coverage.

Comments and Responses

    Ten public comments were received, seven of which are relevant to 
this action. Comments that were similar were combined and all relevant 
comments are responded to below. Comments submitted by the Council, 
Associated Fisheries of Maine, Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, 
State of Maine, and Northeast Sector Service Network all supported 
allowing vessels to target redfish with smaller mesh. The Pew 
Environment Group opposes the exemption. A coordinator for the REDNET 
project provided a clarification on the proposed rule. Several of the 
comments addressed more specific issues discussed below.
    Comment 1: The Council, Associated Fisheries of Maine, State of 
Maine, and Northeast Sector Service Network commented that vessels 
should be provided the flexibility to use multiple meshes on trips 
targeting redfish with 100-percent observer coverage. They also 
clarified that vessels should not have mesh of less than 6 inches (15.2 
cm) on board if not declared on an exempted redfish trip.
    Response: We agree that this option would provide additional 
flexibility to fishermen. Each trip using the mesh-size exemption to 
target redfish will have an observer or at-sea monitor onboard the 
vessel which helps alleviate some concerns raised by opponents of 
allowing the use of multiple mesh sizes. Because all redfish trips will 
have an observer or at-sea monitor on board, and the need for 
additional flexibility, we are allowing vessels to fish multiple mesh 
sizes on these trips. We also agree that sector vessels cannot have 
mesh less than the regulated minimum mesh size requirement on board 
unless fishing under the small-mesh redfish exemption or unless 
otherwise exempted.
    Comment 2: The Council, Associated Fisheries of Maine, State of 
Maine, and Northeast Sector Service Network suggested that sectors be 
permitted to allow a subset of their membership to participate in an 
industry-funded at-sea monitoring program, instead of requiring all 
members of a sector to participate in that program.
    Response: We initially proposed that all sector members would have 
to participate in an industry-funded at-sea monitoring program 
submitted by a sector for trips targeting redfish because we felt it 
would be easier to implement and enforce. However, several comments 
indicated that not all sector members who wished to target redfish 
wanted to pay for additional coverage. We understand that the cost of 
requiring all members of a sector to participate in an industry-funded 
at-sea monitoring program as proposed for this exemption could prevent 
a sector from being able to develop and fund their own at-sea 
monitoring program. Therefore, this final rule allows a subset of 
sector members to participate in an industry-funded at-sea monitoring 
program for trips targeting redfish under this exemption instead of 
requiring all members of a sector to participate in that program, as 
explained in the preamble of this rule.
    Comment 3: Associated Fisheries of Maine and the Northeast Sector 
Service Network argued that requiring industry to fund all at-sea 
monitoring coverage

[[Page 14229]]

for purposes of utilizing the small mesh redfish exemption is 
inconsistent with Amendment 16. They cited Amendment 16, which states 
that ``[t]he industry-funded observer or at-sea monitor program will 
not replace the NMFS Observer Program. In the event a NMFS observer and 
a third party observer or at-sea monitor is assigned to the same trip, 
the NMFS observer will take precedence and the third party observer or 
at-sea monitor will stand down.''
    Response: While the comment is unclear on this point, it appears 
that the commenters believe that vessels participating in an industry-
funded at-sea monitoring program should be able to first call into the 
Pre-Trip Notification System (PTNS) and have the opportunity to receive 
a federally-funded NEFOP observer or at-sea monitor. Their position, 
however, is not supported by the quoted language from Amendment 16, 
which is taken out of context. As described in Amendment 16, NMFS 
annually establishes a minimum amount of at-sea monitoring coverage 
that is necessary for monitoring bycatch by all vessels in the 
groundfish fishery. Amendment 16 also stated that each sector would 
develop an at-sea monitoring plan to monitor bycatch across the 
fishery, and industry would pay for all of that at-sea monitoring by 
fishing year 2012. It was thus in the context of monitoring bycatch 
across the groundfish fishery that Amendment 16 explained that in the 
instance where an industry-funded at-sea monitor and Federal observer 
were assigned to the same trip, the at-sea monitor would ``stand 
down.'' The language cited in the comment above was included in 
Amendment 16 as a way to acknowledge that some trips would be selected 
for coverage by the NMFS Observer Program and industry would not be 
responsible for costs associated with those trips.
    Furthermore, prohibiting vessels participating in an industry-
funded program from calling into the PTNS system and fishing under the 
exemption with a federally-funded observer or at-sea monitor is 
necessary to reduce potential bias in data collected by the NMFS 
observer program. Sectors originally requested that vessels in an 
industry-funded at-sea monitoring program have the opportunity to 
receive a federally-funded at-sea monitor or observer prior to having 
to contract and pay for their own at-sea monitor coverage in order to 
take advantage of the small-mesh exemption. We had concerns about this 
approach because we believed that it could bias the federally-funded 
coverage. Essentially, any time a vessel interested in taking a trip 
targeting redfish under this exemption was assigned an at-sea monitor 
or observer, it would be highly likely that they would take a trip 
under the redfish exemption, thus biasing the nature of the trips on 
which observer coverage was provided. In the proposed rule, and as now 
approved in this final rule, we reduced this bias by prohibiting 
vessels that participate in a voluntary industry-funded at-sea 
monitoring program from fishing under this exemption on trips where 
they are randomly assigned a federally-funded observer or at-sea 
monitor. It should be noted that we are carefully evaluating this bias 
for sector exemptions that are being requested for fishing year 2013.
    Finally, this comment suggests that vessels participating in an 
industry-funded at-sea monitoring program as approved in this rule have 
some type of right to request and potentially receive a NMFS observer. 
On the contrary, this action approves a voluntary sector exemption for 
vessels that receive random observer or at-sea monitoring coverage and 
an additional voluntary industry-funded at-sea monitoring program. In 
either circumstance, the exemption requires accepting several 
accompanying contingencies (e.g., catch thresholds, monitoring 
requirements, etc.). If a vessel or sector is unwilling to participate 
in an industry-funded at-sea monitoring program, then a vessel must 
wait to be selected for random coverage. Or, if a vessel or sector is 
unwilling to participate in an industry funded at-sea monitoring 
program and accept the other contingencies, it can choose not to fish 
for redfish under the exemption.
    Comment 4: Associated Fisheries of Maine and the Northeast Sector 
Service Network expressed concern that if the redfish exemption trips 
are monitored only by the industry-funded program, they would never be 
monitored by the more rigorous Northeast Fishery Observer Program 
(NEFOP) protocol. While the comment is unclear on this point, it 
appears that the commenters are concerned that the protocols followed 
by at-sea monitors will not be sufficient to ensure compliance with the 
small mesh redfish exemption.
    Response: NMFS-certified at-sea monitors record all the catch 
information necessary to adequately monitor the exemption's measures, 
as approved. While NEFOP Observers gather additional data not collected 
by at-sea monitors, much of it is data on gear and fishing practices 
that are not relevant to monitoring the catch thresholds critical to 
approving this exemption.
    Comment 5: A coordinator for the REDNET project commented that the 
proposed rule incorrectly stated that the ``final'' report for 
Component 2 of the REDNET project was available for public review, when 
in fact it was a ``draft'' report.
    Response: This clarification is correct. The report available for 
public review was a ``draft'' report. The ``final'' REDNET report was 
submitted to NMFS on January 23, 2013, and is currently under review. 
However, the catch data (landings and discards) from the REDNET 
project, which NMFS relied on to approve this exemption, is the same in 
both the final and draft report. The draft report was subject to the 
Council's and public's review. Further, there were no changes to the 
draft version that substantially affect anything in this rule. The 
final report added analyses on tow information and length/frequency 
distributions at particular depths. We continue to believe that the 
results from Component 2 of the REDNET project support the careful 
development of a targeted redfish fishery.
    Comment 6: The Pew Environment Group expressed serious concerns 
with the exemption as currently proposed. Pew opposes allowing bottom 
trawl vessels to target redfish with smaller mesh and suggests that 
smaller fish will be caught with smaller mesh. Pew cited particular 
concerns with this exemption due to prior stock depletion as well as 
the slow growth and long life span of redfish. Pew also noted that 
additional analyses are necessary before they could support a 
``directed fishery'' for redfish, the results of which may warrant an 
environmental impact statement (EIS).
    Response: While we understand Pew's concerns with the exemption, we 
do not agree with their comments for several reasons. First, redfish 
are not overfished or subject to overfishing--the stock is one of the 
healthiest groundfish stocks. Most of the redfish allocation has 
recently gone unharvested; in fishing year 2010, only 31 percent of the 
allocation was harvested, and only 36 percent was harvested in 2011. 
The Magnuson-Stevens Act encourages fishing at maximum sustainable 
levels. It should be noted that redfish growth characteristics, such as 
growth rates and life spans, are considered when annual allocations are 
established.
    Second, the REDNET research shows that smaller mesh can be used to 
target redfish without resulting in increased catches of juvenile fish. 
Importantly, because we recognize that these results are just from one 
study, we are requiring a bycatch threshold to further prevent 
increased catches of juvenile redfish and other groundfish while 
fishing with smaller mesh under this exemption. All trips targeting 
redfish will be monitored

[[Page 14230]]

by an observer or at-sea monitor and will provide additional beneficial 
data to increase our understanding of the fishery and allow us to 
closely monitor this exemption.
    Third, measures in this action have been adequately analyzed in 
several environmental assessments. The environmental assessment for 
Framework Adjustment 47 analyzed allocations based on stock assessments 
that use the best available science, are subject to peer review, and 
include consideration of the growth rates and lifespan of redfish and 
other groundfish species. Importantly, this action only allows sector 
vessels an increased opportunity to harvest more of their allocation, 
which has previously been underharvested. The environmental impacts of 
sectors receiving an allocation and fishing under regulatory exemptions 
for fishing year 2012 are further analyzed in the Environmental 
Assessment for Fishing Year 2012 Sector Operations Plans and Contracts, 
which also tiers off the assessment for Framework Adjustment 47.
    The environmental impacts specific to this action are analyzed in a 
Supplemental Environmental Assessment for Fishing Year 2012 Sector 
Operations Plans and Contracts. This assessment included a review of 
the REDNET study, which showed no increased catch of juvenile fish when 
fishing for redfish with 4.5 inch mesh nets. Because the REDNET 
information shows no increased catch of juvenile fish, and there were 
no significant impacts found in the EAs and specifications that 
considered the impacts of fishing for the total allocation, an EIS is 
unnecessary. Last, this action includes increased monitoring, catch 
thresholds, and we have stated that we will revoke the exemption if it 
is determined that fishing for redfish with smaller mesh is negatively 
impacting redfish or other groundfish stocks.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    We had proposed that all vessels in a sector be required to fund 
their own at-sea monitoring coverage for trips targeting redfish under 
this exemption if the sector elected to develop an industry-funded at-
sea monitoring plan. The final rule changes this requirement so that a 
subset of sector members may participate in an industry-funded at-sea 
monitoring plan that is subject to approval by NMFS.
    The November 8, 2012, proposed rule stated that ``* * * to help 
mitigate catches of sub-legal sized groundfish, total groundfish 
discards (excluding redfish discards) may not exceed 5 percent of all 
groundfish caught when directing on redfish with small-mesh nets.'' 
This requirement was incorrectly stated in the proposed rule. Catch 
from the REDNET research project demonstrated that vessels discarded 
less than 5 percent of all groundfish caught (including redfish). A 
clarification was published in the Federal Register on January 10, 2012 
(78 FR 2249), with an additional 15-day period to comment on this 
clarification. No comments on this clarification were received. Redfish 
discards will be included in the discard threshold as intended and as 
stated in the EA completed for this action. Not incorporating discards 
of juvenile redfish could jeopardize the health of the stock.

Classification

    The Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, has determined that this 
rule is consistent with the NE Multispecies FMP, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This action is exempt from review under Executive Order (E.O.) 
12866.
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), the 
Chief Council for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to 
the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration 
during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed 
rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this 
certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not 
required and none was prepared.

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

    Dated: February 27, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-05044 Filed 2-28-13; 4:15 pm]
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