[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 51 (Friday, March 15, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 16573-16600]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05535]



[[Page 16573]]

Vol. 78

Friday,

No. 51

March 15, 2013

Part II





Department of Commerce





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50 CFR Part 648





Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop 
Fishery and Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 24 and 
Framework Adjustment 49; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 51 / Friday, March 15, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 16574]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 121129661-3160-01]
RIN 0648-BC81


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop 
Fishery and Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 24 and 
Framework Adjustment 49

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes to approve and implement regulations through 
Framework Adjustment 24 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management 
Plan (Framework 24), which the New England Fishery Management Council 
adopted and submitted to NMFS for approval. Framework 24 would set 
specifications for the Atlantic sea scallop fishery for the 2013 
fishing year, including days-at-sea allocations, individual fishing 
quotas, and sea scallop access area trip allocations. This action would 
also set precautionary default fishing year 2014 specifications, in 
case the New England Fishery Management Council delays the development 
of the next framework, resulting in implementation after the March 1, 
2014, start of the 2014 fishing year, and transitional measures are 
needed. In addition, Framework 24 adjusts the Georges Bank scallop 
access area seasonal closure schedules, and because that changes 
exemptions to areas closed to fishing specified in the Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, Framework 24 must be a joint 
action with that plan (Framework Adjustment 49). Framework 24 also 
continues the closures of the Delmarva and Elephant Trunk scallop 
access areas, refines the management of yellowtail flounder 
accountability measures in the scallop fishery, makes adjustments to 
the industry-funded observer program, and provides more flexibility in 
the management of the individual fishing quota program.

DATES: Comments must be received by 5 p.m., local time, on April 1, 
2013.

ADDRESSES: The New England Fishery Management Council developed an 
environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes the 
proposed action and other considered alternatives and provides a 
thorough analysis of the impacts of the proposed measures and 
alternatives. Copies of the Joint Frameworks, the EA, and the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), are available upon request from 
Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management 
Council, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2013-0014, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0014, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, 
Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ``Comments on Scallop 
Framework 24 Proposed Rule.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Emily Gilbert.
    Instructions: 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 by NMFS. 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.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. 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, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9244; fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The management unit of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery (scallop) 
ranges from the shorelines of Maine through North Carolina to the outer 
boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The Atlantic Sea Scallop 
Fishery Management Plan (Scallop FMP), first established in 1982, 
includes a number of amendments and framework adjustments that have 
revised and refined the fishery's management. The New England Fishery 
Management Council (Council) sets scallop fishery specifications 
through framework adjustments that occur annually or biennially. This 
action includes allocations for fishing year (FY) 2013, as well as 
other scallop fishery management measures.
    The Council adopted Framework Adjustment 24 to the Scallop FMP 
(Framework 24) on November 15, 2012, initially submitted it to NMFS on 
January 22, 2013, for review and approval, and submitted a revised 
final framework document on February 15, 2013. Framework 24 specifies 
measures for FY 2013, but includes FY 2014 measures that will go into 
place as a default, should the next specifications-setting framework be 
delayed beyond the start of FY 2014. NMFS will implement Framework 24, 
if approved, after the start of FY 2013; FY 2013 default measures are 
in place starting March 1, 2013. Because some of the FY 2013 default 
allocations are higher than what are proposed under Framework 24, the 
Council included ``payback'' measures, which are identified and 
described below, to address unintended consequences of the projected 
late implementation of this action. This action includes some measures 
that are not explicitly proposed in Framework 24, but NMFS is proposing 
them under the authority of section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which provides that the 
Secretary of Commerce may promulgate regulations necessary to ensure 
that amendments to an FMP are carried out in accordance with the FMP 
and the MSA. These measures, which are identified and described below, 
are necessary to address unintended consequences of the projected late 
implementation of this action, as well as to clarify implied measures 
which may not have been explicitly included in Framework 24. The 
Council has reviewed the Framework 24 proposed rule regulations as 
drafted by NMFS and deemed them to be necessary and appropriate as 
specified in section 303(c) of the MSA.

Specification of Scallop Overfishing Limit (OFL), Acceptable Biological 
Catch (ABC), Annual Catch Limits (ACLs), Annual Catch Targets (ACTs), 
and Set-Asides for FY 2013 and Default Specifications for FY 2014

    The Council sets the OFL based on a fishing mortality rate (F) of 
0.38, equivalent to the F threshold updated through the most recent 
scallop stock assessment. The Council sets the ABC and the equivalent 
total ACL for each FY based on an F of 0.32, which is the

[[Page 16575]]

F associated with a 25-percent probability of exceeding the OFL. The 
Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) recommended 
scallop fishery ABCs for FYs 2013 and 2014 of 46.3 M lb (21,004 mt) and 
52.2 M lb (23,697 mt), respectively, after accounting for discards and 
incidental mortality. The SSC will reevaluate an ABC for FY 2014 in 
conjunction with the next biennial framework adjustment.
    Table 1 outlines the various scallop fishery catch limits that are 
derived from these ABC values. After deducting the incidental target 
total allowable catch (TAC) and the research and observer set-asides, 
the Council proportions out the remaining ACL available to the fishery 
according to Amendment 11 to the Scallop FMP (Amendment 11; 72 FR 
20090; April 14, 2008) fleet allocations, with 94.5 percent allocated 
to the limited access (LA) scallop fleet (i.e., the larger ``trip 
boat'' fleet), 5 percent allocated to the limited access general 
category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ) fleet (i.e., the smaller 
``day boat'' fleet), and the remaining 0.5 percent allocated to LA 
scallop vessels that also have LAGC IFQ permits. These separate ACLs 
and their corresponding ACTs are referred to as sub-ACLs and sub-ACTs, 
respectively, throughout this action. Amendment 15 (76 FR 43746; July 
21, 2011) specified that no buffers to account for management 
uncertainty are necessary in setting the LAGC sub-ACLs, meaning that 
the LAGC sub-ACL would equal the LAGC sub-ACT. As a result, the LAGC 
sub-ACL values in Table 1, based on an F of 0.32, represent the amount 
of catch from which IFQ percent shares will be applied to calculate 
each vessel's IFQ for a given FY. For the LA fleet, the Council set a 
management uncertainty buffer based on the F associated with a 75-
percent probability of remaining below the F associated with ABC/ACL, 
which results in an F of 0.28.

 Table 1--Scallop Catch Limits for FYs 2013 and 2014 for Both the LA and
                             LAGC IFQ Fleets
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      2013                  2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFL.........................  31,555 mt             31,110 mt
                               (69,566,867 lb).      (68,585,801 lb).
ABC/ACL.....................  21,004 mt             23,697 mt
                               (46,305,894 lb).      (52,242,952 lb).
Incidental TAC..............  22.7 mt (50,000 lb).  22.7 mt (50,000 lb).
Research Set-Aside (RSA)....  567 mt (1,250,000     567 mt (1,250,000
                               lb).                  lb).
Observer Set-aside (1         210 mt (463,059 lb).  237 mt (522,429 lb).
 percent of ABC/ACL).
LA sub-ACL (94.5 percent of   19,093 mt             21,612 mt
 total ACL, after deducting    (42,092,979 lb).      (47,647,385 lb).
 set-asides and incidental
 catch).
LA sub-ACT (adjusted for      15,324 mt             15,428 mt
 management uncertainty).      (33,783,637 lb).      (34,012,918 lb).
LAGC IFQ sub-ACL (5.0         1,010 mt (2,227,142   1,144 mt (2,521,026
 percent of total ACL, after   lb).                  lb).
 deducting set-asides and
 incidental catch).
LAGC IFQ sub-ACL for vessels  101 mt (222,714 lb).  114 mt (252,103 lb).
 with LA scallop permits
 (0.5 percent of total ACL,
 after deducting set-asides
 and incidental catch).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These allocations do not account for any adjustments that NMFS 
would make year-to-year if annual landings exceeded the scallop 
fishery's ACLs, resulting in triggering accountability measures (AMs).
    This action would deduct 1.25 M lb (567 mt) of scallops annually 
for FYs 2013 and 2014 from the ABC and set it aside as the Scallop RSA 
to fund scallop research and to compensate participating vessels 
through the sale of scallops harvested under RSA projects. Beginning 
March 1, 2013, this set-aside is available for harvest by RSA-funded 
projects in open areas and the Hudson Canyon (HC) Access Area. 
Framework 24 would update the access area rotation schedule, and once 
this action is approved and implemented, applicable vessels would be 
also able to harvest RSA from other access areas (i.e., Closed Area 1 
(CA1), Closed Area 2 (CA2), and Nantucket Lightship (NLS)).
    This action would also remove 1 percent from the ABC and set it 
aside for the industry-funded observer program to help defray the cost 
of carrying an observer. The observer set-aside for FYs 2013 and 2014 
are 210 mt (463,059 lb) and 237 mt (522,429 lb), respectively.

Open Area Days-at-Sea (DAS) Allocations

    This action would implement vessel-specific DAS allocations for 
each of the three LA scallop DAS permit categories (i.e., full-time, 
part-time, and occasional) for FYs 2013 and 2014 (Table 2). FY 2014 DAS 
allocations are precautionary, and are set at 75 percent of what 
current biomass projections indicate could be allocated to each LA 
scallop vessel for the entire FY so as to avoid over-allocating DAS to 
the fleet in the event that the framework that would set those 
allocations, if delayed past the start of FY 2014, estimates that DAS 
should be less than currently projected.

    Table 2--Scallop Open Area DAS Allocations for FYs 2013 and 2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Permit category                     FY 2013   FY 2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Full-Time...........................................        33        23
Part-Time...........................................        13         9
Occasional..........................................         3         2
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Beginning March 1, 2013, full-time, part-time, and occasional 
vessels will receive 26, 11, and 3 DAS, respectively. If Framework 24 
is approved, the allocations for full-time and part-time allocations 
would increase as soon as this action is implemented.

LA Trip Allocations, the Random Allocation Process, and Possession 
Limits for Scallop Access Areas

    Proposed access area allocations for FY 2013 are much lower than 
they have been in the last few FYs (i.e., about 35 percent less than FY 
2012 access area trip allocations). Due in part to unusually high 
recruitment in the Mid-Atlantic during 1998-2008 and the extension of 
the Georges Bank access area boundaries in 2011, scallop biomass has 
been above maximum sustainable yield levels from 2003 through 2011. As 
a result, the Council set high scallop allocations to allow for maximum 
harvest of the resource. While this has been a very successful time for 
the scallop fishing industry, the scallop stock was not replenishing 
itself at a level that could sustain these high allocations 
indefinitely. Although all recent 2012 survey results show that

[[Page 16576]]

there has been a large recruitment event in the Mid-Atlantic (second 
only to the massive recruitment that occurred in 2001), these young 
scallops should not be harvested until they have had more time to grow 
(i.e., FY 2015 at the earliest). As a result, the proposed FY 2013 
access area allocations are considerably lower than they have been in 
the recent past. Because it is unknown what will happen to the high 
levels of recruitment in the Mid-Atlantic over the course of next year 
(i.e., will they grow faster from warmer water or will mortality be 
higher than expected?), the Council decided to develop Framework 24 as 
a 1-year specification-setting framework, is not allocating FY 2014 
default access area trips, and will wait for the 2013 survey results to 
develop final FY 2014 measures through the next framework adjustment 
(i.e., Framework 25).
    Framework 24 would close both the Elephant Trunk (ET) area and the 
Delmarva Access Area (DMV) for FYs 2013 and 2014, continuing the 
current closures of these areas implemented through MSA emergency 
actions (77 FR 64915 (October 24, 2012) and 77 FR 73957 (December 12, 
2012)). By closing the ET, this action effectively re-establishes the 
ET as a scallop access area for future controlled access. The Council 
proposes to continue the closure of these areas to protect the large 
number of small scallops that are located in these areas. As mentioned 
above, protecting these small scallops will allow them to grow to a 
more marketable size for harvest, likely in FY 2015 or later.
    For FY 2013, full-time LA vessels would receive two 13,000-lb 
(5,897-kg) access area trips. Each of these trips would take place in 
one of two access areas available for fishing (e.g., HC, NLS, CA1, and 
CA2), although the specific areas to which they have access would 
differ (Table 3).

     Table 3--Total Number of FY 2013 Full-Time Trips by Access Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Number of full-
                      Access area                          time vessel
                                                              trips
------------------------------------------------------------------------
HC....................................................               210
DMV...................................................                 0
ET....................................................                 0
CA1...................................................               118
CA2...................................................               182
NLS...................................................               116
                                                       -----------------
    Total.............................................             * 626
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* There are a total of 313 full-time vessels and each vessel would
  receive 2 trips.

    Part-time vessels would receive one FY 2013 access area trip 
allocation in 2013 equivalent to 10,400 lb (4,717 kg), and vessels with 
limited access occasional permits would receive one 2,080-lb (943-kg) 
trip. These trips could be taken in any single access area that is open 
to the fishery for FY 2013 (i.e., all areas, except ET and DMV).
    In order to preserve appropriate access area allocations, there 
would be no access area trips allocated under FY 2014 default measures. 
The next framework that would replace these FY 2014 default measures 
(i.e., Framework 25) would include the FY 2014 access area allocations 
based on updated scallop projections. If Framework 25 is delayed past 
March 1, 2014, scallop vessels would be restricted to fishing in open 
areas until final FY 2014 specifications are implemented. However, 
vessels would be able to fish FY 2013 compensation trips in the access 
areas that were open in FY 2013 (e.g., HC, NLS, CA1, and CA2) for the 
first 60 days that those areas are open in FY 2014, or until Framework 
25 is approved and implemented, whichever occurs first. Although the 
Council did not consider this detail in how FY 2013 compensation trips 
carried over into FY 2014 would be handled, NMFS proposes, after 
consultation with Council staff, the measure under section 305(d) 
authority of the MSA to provide some level of flexibility to vessel 
owners at the start of FY 2014. This level of effort is not expected to 
greatly impact the scallop resource and affect FY 2014 allocations.
    In order to avoid allocating trips into access areas with scallop 
biomass levels not large enough to support a full trip by all 313 LA 
full-time vessels, Framework 24 proposes to allocate ``split-fleet'' 
trips into certain access areas. Framework 24 would randomly allocate 
two trips to each full-time vessel so that no full-time vessel has more 
than one trip in a given access area. To accomplish this random trip 
allocation assignment, the Scallop Plan Development Team (PDT) 
developed a system similar to the one developed in Framework Adjustment 
22 to the Scallop FMP (Framework 22; 76 FR 43774; July 21, 2011), where 
permit numbers are selected based on a simple random number generator 
in Microsoft Excel and the vessels associated with a permit number 
would receive trip assignments into the access area(s) where they can 
fish. Section 2.1.3 of the Framework 24 document includes a description 
of the random allocation process. In order to facilitate trading trips 
between vessels, the Council has already proposed allocations for full-
time vessels for FY 2013. These allocations are listed in Section 2.1.3 
of the Framework 24 document (See ADDRESSES), as well as NMFS's Web 
site. NMFS would update these preliminary allocations, subject to NMFS 
approval of Framework 24 and permit renewal requirements, with any 
changes in vessel ownership and/or vessel replacements.
    Because the proposed measures would be implemented after March 1, 
2013, and the FY 2013 default access area allocations are inconsistent 
with the proposed allocations, it is possible that during the interim 
between the start of FY 2013 and the implementation of the proposed 
measures, a scallop vessel could take too many access area trips and/or 
land too many pounds of scallops. For example, when Framework 22 set 
the FY 2013 default allocations, it projected that more scallop biomass 
would be available to harvest than updated estimates indicate. As a 
result, the FY 2013 default access area allocations allow for a full-
time vessel fish four access area trips at 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) a trip. 
Although vessels would not be able to fish all four access area trips 
prior to Framework 24's implementation because the Georges Bank access 
areas (i.e., CA1, CA2, and NLS) do not currently open until June 15, 
full-time vessels could fish one or two trips in HC. All full-time 
vessels have one HC trip, and half the full-time fleet has an 
additional HC trip under current measures. If all full-time vessels 
took their assigned HC trips prior to the implementation of Framework 
24, up to 8.44 M lb (3,829 mt) of scallops could be harvested from HC, 
which is 5.71 M lb (2,591 mt) more than Framework 24 proposes to remove 
from that area. Because HC has a large number of small scallops in the 
area, such a dramatic and unintended increase in fishing mortality in 
that area could have very negative impacts on the scallop resource and 
the future fishery. To avoid this overharvest and to prevent a FY 2013 
ACL overage due to this discrepancy, the Council developed a 
``payback'' measure for vessels that fish default FY 2013 allocations 
before Framework 24 is implemented to replace those measures. 
Specifically, if a vessel takes FY 2013 access area trips authorized by 
Framework 22, it will have to give up all FY 2013 access area trips 
authorized to that vessel under Framework 24, plus 12 2013 open area 
DAS. However, vessels that take trips into HC at reduced possession 
limits (i.e., 13,000 lb; 5,897 kg) that are ultimately allocated those 
trips through Framework 24 would not be penalized if the trips are made 
before implementation of Framework 24.

[[Page 16577]]

    For example, Vessel A and Vessel B, both full-time vessels, are 
both allocated two HC trips (18,000 lb/trip; 8,165 kg/trip), in 
addition to a CA2 and NLS trip, at the start of FY 2013. Under 
Framework 24 measures, Vessel A is allocated one trip in CA2 and one 
trip in CA1, and Vessel B is allocated one trip in HC and one trip in 
CA2 (13,000 lb/trip; 5,897 kg/trip). Because CA1, CA2, and NLS would 
not be open at the start of the FY, no payback measures related to 
these areas are needed. Between March 1, 2013, and Framework 24's 
implementation, Vessel A takes a HC trip and lands 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) 
while Vessel B takes an HC trip and lands 13,000 lb (5,897 kg). Under 
this scenario, once Framework 24 is implemented, because Vessel A took 
an HC trip, its FY 2013 allocation would be reduced to 21 DAS (33 DAS-
12 DAS) and it would lose all of its FY 2013 access area trips. In this 
example, by taking one (or part of one) 18,000-lb (8,165-kg) trip into 
HC, the vessel would lose approximately 30,000 lb (13,608 kg) in DAS 
catch, assuming an LPUE of 2,500 lb/DAS (1,134 kg/DAS), and would lose 
its other 13,000-lb (5,897-kg) access area trip. By landing 18,000 lb 
(8,165 kg), the vessel would take a net loss of 33,000 lb (14,969 kg). 
If Vessel A took two HC trips (36,000 lb; 16,329 kg), it would incur a 
net loss of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg). Because Vessel B would be allocated 
an HC trip at 13,000 lb (5,897 kg) under Framework 24, that vessel 
would not have to payback any pounds for fishing that trip prior to 
Framework 24's implementation.
    Although the Council did not discuss the payback measures for part-
time and occasional vessels, there would still be the potential for 
those vessels to fish more scallops from HC than allocated under 
Framework 24. To make measures consistent with the full-time HC payback 
measures, NMFS proposes, under its MSA section 305(d) authority, 
similar payback measures for part-time and occasional vessels that are 
proportional to those proposed by the Council for full-time vessels.
    At the start of FY 2013 under default measures, part-time and 
occasional vessels will be allocated two trips at 14,400 lb (6,532 kg) 
and one trip at 6,000 lb (2,722 kg), respectively. These trips can be 
taken in any open area, and it is possible that some vessels may choose 
to take all their access area trips in HC at the start of the FY, 
rather than wait for Framework 24's implementation, which would 
allocate one trip at 10,400 lb (4,717 kg) for part-time vessels and one 
trip at 2,080 lb (943 kg) for occasional vessels. If vessels choose to 
take a trip(s) into HC above their ultimate trip and possession limit 
as proposed under Framework 24, they would receive a reduced DAS 
allocation once Framework 24 was implemented. Proportionally similar to 
what is proposed for full-time vessels, part-time vessels would receive 
5 fewer DAS (i.e., total FY 2013 allocation of 8 DAS, rather than 13 
DAS) and occasional vessels would receive 1 less DAS (i.e., total FY 
2013 allocation of 2 DAS, rather than 3 DAS).
    This payback measure does not apply to carryover HC trips from FY 
2012 (i.e., trips broken during the last 60 days of FY 2012). The 
regulations would allow for vessels to take these compensation trips 
within the first 60 days of the subsequent FY if the access area from 
where the trip was broken remains open.
    The rationale for this payback is to protect the recruitment in HC 
as much as possible by providing a strong disincentive for vessels to 
overfish the area due to the delay in Framework 24 implementation and 
the FY 2013 default measures. Industry members on the Council's scallop 
Advisory Panel assisted in the development of these measures.
    This action would also remove the measures that limit fishing 
effort in the Mid-Atlantic during times when sea turtle distribution 
overlaps with scallop fishing activity. As a result of the updated 
Biological Opinion, which includes updated reasonable and prudent 
measures, the Council is no longer required to develop those effort 
limitation measures through the specification-setting frameworks. If 
Framework 24 is approved, the measures specified in Framework 22 and 
currently in the regulations would cease to exist.

LAGC Measures

    1. Sub-ACL for LAGC vessels with IFQ permits. For LAGC vessels with 
IFQ permits, this action proposes a 2,227,142-lb (1,010-mt) ACL for FY 
2013 and an initial ACL of 2,521,026 lb (1,144 mt) for FY 2014 (Table 
1). NMFS calculates IFQ allocations by applying each vessel's IFQ 
contribution percentage to these ACLs. These allocations assume that no 
LAGC IFQ AMs are triggered. If a vessel exceeds its IFQ in a given FY, 
its IFQ for the subsequent FY would be deducted by the amount of the 
overage.
    Because Framework 24 would not go into effect until after the March 
1 start of FY 2013, the default FY 2013 IFQ allocations, which are 
higher than those proposed in Framework 24, have rolled over until 
Framework 24 is implemented. It is possible that scallop vessels could 
exceed their Framework 24 IFQ allocations during this interim period 
between March 1, 2013, and NMFS's implementation of the proposed IFQ 
allocations in Framework 24. Therefore, Framework 24 specifies the 
following payback measure for LAGC IFQ vessels: If a vessel transfers 
(i.e., temporary lease or permanent transfer) all of its allocation to 
other vessels prior to Framework 24's implementation (i.e., transfers 
more than it is ultimately allocated for FY 2013), the vessel(s) that 
transferred in the pounds would receive a pound-for-pound deduction in 
FY 2013 (not the vessel that leased out the IFQ). For example, Vessel A 
is allocated 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of scallops at the start of FY 2013, 
but would receive 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) of scallops once Framework 24 is 
implemented. If Vessel A transfers its full March 1, 2013, allocation 
of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) to Vessel B prior to Framework 24's 
implementation, Vessel B would lose 1,500 lb (680 kg) of that transfer 
once Framework 24 is implemented.
    In situations where a vessel leases out its IFQ to multiple 
vessels, only the vessel(s) that, in turn, leased in quota resulting in 
an overage would have to pay back that quota. Using the example above, 
if Vessel A first leases 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) of scallops to Vessel B 
and then leases 2,000 lb (907 kg) of scallops to Vessel C, only Vessel 
C would have to pay back IFQ in excess of Vessel A's ultimate FY 2013 
allocation (i.e., Vessel C would have to give up 1,500 lb (680 kg) of 
that quota because Vessel A ultimately only had 500 lb (227 kg) of IFQ 
to lease out). In this example, if Vessel C already fished all of its 
leased-in quota, it would incur an overage of 1,500 lb (680 kg) and 
could either lease in more quota to make up for that overage during FY 
2013, or would have that overage, along with any other overages 
incurred in FY 2013, applied against its FY 2014 IFQ allocation as part 
of the individual AM applied to the LAGC IFQ fleet.
    The onus is on the vessel owners to have a business plan to account 
for the mid-year adjustments in lieu of these payback measures. NMFS 
sent a letter to IFQ permit holders providing both March 1, 2013, IFQ 
allocations and Framework 24 proposed IFQ allocations so that vessel 
owners know how much they can lease to avoid any overages incurred 
through leasing full allocations prior to the implementation of 
Framework 24.
    2. Sub-ACL for LA Scallop Vessels with IFQ Permits. For LA scallop 
vessels with IFQ permits, this action proposes a 222,714-lb (101-mt) 
ACL for FY 2013

[[Page 16578]]

and an initial 252,103-lb (114-mt) ACL for FY 2014 (Table 1). NMFS 
calculates IFQ allocations by applying each vessel's IFQ contribution 
percentage to these ACLs. These allocations assume that no LAGC IFQ AMs 
are triggered. If a vessel exceeds its IFQ in a given FY, its IFQ for 
the subsequent FY would be reduced by the amount of the overage.
    If a vessel fishes all of the scallop IFQ it receives at the start 
of FY 2013, it would incur a pound-for-pound overage that would be 
applied against its FY 2014 IFQ allocation, along with any other 
overages incurred in FY 2013, as part of the individual AM applied to 
the LA vessels with LAGC IFQ permits. These vessels cannot participate 
in the IFQ transfer program, so leasing in more quota is not an option.
    3. LAGC IFQ Trip Allocations and Possession Limits for Scallop 
Access Areas. Table 4 outlines the total number of FY 2013 LAGC IFQ 
fleetwide access area trips. Once the total number of trips is 
projected to be fished, NMFS would close that access area to LAGC IFQ 
vessels for the remainder of FY 2013.

    Table 4--LAGC Fleet-Wide Access Area Trip Allocations for FY 2013
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Access area                            FY 2013
------------------------------------------------------------------------
CA1...........................................................       212
CA2...........................................................         0
NLS...........................................................       206
HC............................................................       317
ETA...........................................................         0
DMV...........................................................         0
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In previous years, the Council did not allocate trips for LAGC IFQ 
vessels into CA2, because the Council and NMFS do not expect many of 
these vessels to fish in that area due to its distance from shore, and 
the total number of fleetwide trips only reflected 5.5 percent of each 
open access area. The Council proposes in Framework 24 to include 5.5 
percent of the CA2 available TAC in setting LAGC IFQ fleetwide access 
area trip allocations, essentially shifting those CA2 trips to other 
access areas closer to shore, so that LAGC IFQ vessels would have the 
opportunity to harvest up to 5.5 percent of the overall access area 
TAC, not just that available in areas open to them. For example, the 
LAGC fishery could be allocated 217 trips in CA2 in FY 2013 (i.e., 5.5 
percent of CA2's TAC) so those trips would be divided equally among the 
other access areas, adding about 72 additional trips per area.
    In order to preserve appropriate access area allocations, there 
would be no access area trips allocated to LAGC IFQ vessels under FY 
2014 default measures. The next framework that would replace these FY 
2014 default measures (i.e., Framework 25) would include the FY 2014 
access area allocations based on updated scallop projections. If 
Framework 25 is delayed past March 1, 2014, LAGC IFQ scallop vessels 
would be restricted to fishing their IFQ allocations in open areas 
until final FY 2014 specifications are implemented.
    4. NGOM TAC. This action proposes a 70,000-lb (31,751-kg) annual 
NGOM TAC for FYs 2013 and 2014. The allocation for FY 2014 assumes that 
there are no overages in FY 2013, which would trigger a pound-for-pound 
deduction in FY 2014 to account for the overage.
    5. Scallop Incidental Catch Target TAC. This action proposes a 
50,000-lb (22,680-kg) scallop incidental catch target TAC for FYs 2013 
and 2014 to account for mortality from this component of the fishery, 
and to ensure that F-targets are not exceeded. The Council may adjust 
this target TAC in the future if vessels catch more scallops under the 
incidental target TAC than predicted.

Adjustments to Georges Bank (GB) Access Area Closure Schedules

    Framework 24 proposes to adjust the time of year when scallop 
vessels may fish in the GB access areas (CA1, CA2, and NLS). Because 
this changes exemptions to areas closed to fishing specified in the 
Northeast Multispecies FMP, this action is also a joint framework with 
that plan (Framework Adjustment 49 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP). 
Currently, vessels may fish in the areas from June 15 through January 
31 and are prohibited from fishing in these areas from February 1 
through June 14 of each FY. Instead, Framework 24 would move the CA2 
closure to August 15-November 15, when bycatch of yellowtail flounder 
(YTF) is highest, and would eliminate the seasonal closures from CA1 
and NLS. This proposed measure is based on observer data in and around 
the GB access areas, and on recent RSA-funded research looking at 
seasonal variations in scallop meat weights and YTF bycatch rates from 
CA1 and CA2. There is a clear pattern for CA2 for when YTF bycatch 
rates are highest. The Council selected the August 15-November 15 time 
period because that is when scallop meat weights are lowest and YTF 
bycatch rates are highest, meaning that the closure would promote lower 
scallop fishing mortality (i.e., when meat weights are lower, more 
scallops are harvested to meet possession limits and fishing time is 
increased) as well as less potential YTF bycatch. Overall YTF bycatch 
in CA1 and NLS is low, and there does not appear to be a strong 
seasonal difference. Therefore, imposing a seasonal restriction in 
those areas may not do much for YTF and could actually shift effort 
into higher YTF bycatch areas if vessels fish in open areas when NL and 
CA1 are closed. Because this alternative adjusts regulations 
implemented through the NE Multispecies FMP, Framework 24 is a joint 
action (Framework Adjustment 49 to the NE Multispecies FMP). If this 
action is approved, all areas would open in FY 2013 once Framework 24 
is implemented, likely in May 2013.

Addition of LAGC Yellowtail Flounder (YTF) Accountability Measures 
(AMs)

    The proposed action includes two alternatives that would require 
AMs for the LAGC fishery, one for the LAGC dredge fishery and the other 
for the LAGC trawl fishery. To date, the LAGC fishery does not have 
associated AMs for any overages to the YTF sub-ACL, but the fleet is 
catching more YTF than previously expected. The Council is not 
proposing AMs for LAGC vessels in the GB YTF stock area because catch 
of YTF by these vessels is negligible. AMs are only proposed for the 
Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) YTF stock area.
    For LAGC vessels that use dredges, if the YTF sub-ACL is exceeded 
and an AM is triggered for the LA scallop fishery, the LAGC dredge 
fishery would not have an AM triggered unless their estimated catch was 
more than 3 percent of the sub-ACL by the scallop fishery. AMs in SNE/
MA would not trigger on this fishery if dredge vessels exceed 3 percent 
of the sub-ACL; only if the total sub-ACL and ACL are exceeded, and the 
LAGC dredge fishery catches more than 3 percent of the sub-ACL. For 
example, if the total sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is 50 mt (110,231 
lb) of YTF, and NMFS estimates that the LAGC dredge fishery will catch 
1 mt (2,205 lb) of YTF, 2 percent of the sub-ACL, AMs would not trigger 
for this fleet even if the total sub-ACL was exceeded and LA AMs were 
triggered. However, if their catch is more than 3 percent of the SNE/MA 
YT sub-ACL (i.e., 1.5 mt (3,307 lb) of YTF), and both the overall 
scallop fishery's YTF sub-ACL and the YTF LA AM is triggered, an AM 
would also trigger for the LAGC dredge fishery. The Council designed 
this threshold as a way to relieve the LAGC dredge fishery from AMs if 
they are triggered for LA vessels, since the YTF catch from the LAGC 
dredge

[[Page 16579]]

segment of the fishery is such a small percentage of the total.
    The AM closure area for LAGC dredge vessels would be identical to 
that currently in place for the LA fishery (statistical areas 537, 539, 
and 613), but the closure schedule (based on the level of the YTF sub-
ACL overage) differs. The Council developed a closure schedule that 
leaves some of the AM area open for parts of the year when traditional 
LAGC dredge fishing has occurred, but closes the areas during months 
when YTF bycatch is higher (Table 5).

       Table 5--LAGC Dredge Fishery's Proposed AM Closure Schedule for Statistical Areas 537, 539, and 613
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              AM Closure area and duration
               Overage                --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 539                      537                      613
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 percent or less....................  Mar-Apr................  Mar-Apr................  Mar-Apr.
2.1-7 percent........................  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-May, Feb.
7.1-12 percent.......................  Mar-May, Dec-Feb.......  Mar-May, Dec-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb.
12.1-16 percent......................  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.......  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb.
16.1 percent or greater..............  All year...............  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For LAGC trawl vessels, the AM closure areas would be statistical 
areas 612 and 613. The Council proposed that the SNE/MA YTF AM for LAGC 
trawl vessels would be triggered two different ways:
    First, the AM would be triggered if the estimated catch of SNE/MA 
YTF by the LAGC trawl fishery is more than 10 percent of the SNE/MA YTF 
sub-ACL for the scallop fishery. In this case, the AM closure season 
for LAGC trawl vessels would be March-June and again from December-
February, a total of 7 months (i.e., the most restrictive closure in 
Table 6 below). For example, if the total scallop fishery SNE/MA YTF 
sub-ACL was 50 mt (2,205 lb), AMs would trigger for the LAGC trawl 
fishery if the estimated catch by that segment is more than 5 mt 
(11,023 lb), 10 percent of the YTF sub-ACL for the scallop fishery for 
that FY. Because the LAGC trawl fishery would meet the 10-percent 
threshold, the AM would be a 7-month closure of statistical areas 612 
and 613, regardless of whether or not the scallop fishery's YTF sub-ACL 
was triggered. This measure is more restrictive than what the Council 
proposes for LAGC dredge vessels, because the LAGC trawl fishery is 
catching much more YTF than anticipated (i.e., in FY 2012, NMFS 
estimated that the LAGC trawl fishery caught 22.5 percent of the total 
SNE/MA YTF sub-ACL, and the LAGC dredge fishery only caught 1.5 
percent).
    Second, if the scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL overall, and 
total SNE/MA YTF ACL is exceeded, triggering AMs in the LA fleet, LAGC 
trawl vessels would be subject to their AM closure, with the length of 
the closure based on the extent of the YTF sub-ACL overage of the 
entire scallop fishery (See Table 6). Continuing the example above, if 
the scallop fishery exceeds its 50-mt YTF sub-ACL and the LA AM is 
triggered, and the LAGC trawl portion of the scallop fishery catches an 
estimated 2 mt (i.e., less than the 10-percent threshold), LAGC vessels 
would be prohibited from using trawl gear in statistical areas 612 and 
613 from March through April of a following FY, based on Table 6 (See 
the ``Modification to the Timing of YTF AM Implementation'' section 
below for more information on when AMs would be triggered for the 
scallop fishery overall).
    If both of these caveats are triggered (i.e., the trawl fishery 
catches more than 10 percent of the total SNE/MA YTF sub-ACL and the 
overall SNE/MA YTF sub-ACL is exceeded, triggering AMs for the LA 
scallop fishery), the most restrictive AM would apply (i.e., the 7-
month closure from March-June, and December-February).
    In order to reduce the economic impacts on this fleet, the Council 
proposed to allow LAGC trawl vessels to fish in the AM area during the 
months of July through November to enable LAGC trawl vessels to fish 
for scallops in that area during part of the year that they have 
historically fished (i.e., summer and fall). In addition, if the LAGC 
trawl AM is triggered, a trawl vessel could still covert to dredge gear 
and continue fishing for scallops. If a vessel chooses to switch gears, 
it must follow all dredge gear regulations, including that fishery's AM 
schedule if it has also been triggered.

     Table 6--LAGC Trawl Fishery's Proposed AM Closure Schedule for
                      Statistical Areas 612 and 613
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Overage                            AM Closure
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 percent or less.........................  Mar-Apr.
2.1-3 percent.............................  Mar-Apr, and Feb.
3.1-7 percent.............................  Mar-May, and Feb.
7.1-9 percent.............................  Mar-May, and Jan-Feb.
9.1-12 percent............................  Mar-May, and Dec-Feb.
12.1or greater............................  Mar-June, and Dec-Feb.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Modification to the Timing of YTF AM Implementation

    Currently, on or about January 15 of each FY, NMFS determines 
whether the scallop fishery is expected to exceed the YTF flounder sub-
ACLs for that FY. This determination is based on a projection that 
includes assumptions of expected scallop catch for the remainder of the 
FY, as well as YTF bycatch rates from the previous year's observer data 
if those data for the current FY are not available. Before the start of 
the next FY, NMFS announces if AMs are triggered, based on the January 
projection, and predefined areas close to the limited access scallop 
fishery based on the AM schedule in Framework 23 and the AM trigger 
thresholds outlined in Framework 47 to the NE Multispecies FMP 
(Groundfish Framework 47) (77 FR 26104; May 2, 2012). Once all the data 
are available for the previous year (i.e., full FY scallop landings, 
full FY observer data), NMFS re-estimates YTF catch and, if the new 
estimate shows a different conclusion when compared to the sub-ACLs 
than the initial projection, could re-evaluate the decision to trigger 
AMs.
    Because we must determine whether or not the total YTF ACL has been 
exceeded, and because that information is not fully available until 
after the April 30 end of the NE multispecies FY, administering this 
YTF AM has been extremely complex and has resulted in continuously re-
evaluating the AM determination, depending on data variability.

[[Page 16580]]

    To streamline the process of implementing YTF AMs in the scallop 
fishery, and to alleviate industry confusion, Framework 24 proposes 
that the respective AM for each YTF stock area would be implemented at 
the start of the next FY (i.e., the current way YTF AMs are to be 
triggered) only if reliable information is available that a YTF sub-ACL 
has been exceeded during a FY. This approach could be used in 
situations where the ACL for a stock is low, an overage is known early 
in the FY, and AM determinations are based on actual catch and landings 
rather than projections.
    However, if reliable information is not available to make a mid-
year determination of the need to implement an AM for the YTF sub-ACL, 
NMFS would wait until enough information is available (i.e., when the 
total observer and catch data is available for that FY) before making a 
decision to implement an AM. Under this scenario, the AMs would be 
implemented in Year 3 (e.g., for an overage in FY 2013, the AM would be 
implemented in FY 2015).

Additional Flexibility for the LAGC IFQ Leasing Program

    At the request of the LAGC IFQ fleet, the Council developed 
alternatives that would provide more flexibility to the LAGC IFQ 
leasing program by allowing transfer of quota after an LAGC IFQ vessel 
landed scallops in a given FY and, beginning March 1, 2014, would allow 
IFQ to be transferred more than once (i.e., sub-transfers). These 
provisions would not apply to vessels that have both an LAGC IFQ and LA 
scallop permit. Those vessels are prohibited from leasing or 
permanently transferring LAGC IFQ.
    Currently, an IFQ vessel is not allowed to transfer IFQ to another 
vessel for the remainder of a FY if it has already landed part of its 
scallop IFQ for that year. This restriction was part of the original 
design of the scallop IFQ program implemented through Amendment 11. 
This action proposes to remove this prohibition, allowing a vessel more 
flexibility to utilize its IFQ throughout the FY. For example, if an 
IFQ vessel that has a base allocation of 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) only 
lands 2,000 lb (907 kg) before deciding to stop fishing for scallops 
for the remainder of the year, under Framework 24, the vessel would be 
able to transfer (temporarily or permanently) its remaining 8,000 lb 
(3,629 kg) of scallops to other IFQ vessels during the FY. Because this 
is a relatively minor adjustment to how NMFS monitors the fishery, and 
does not involve extensive programming changes, NMFS would be able to 
implement this portion of the measure along with other Framework 24 
measures upon this action's effective date, likely in May 2013, if 
approved.
    Currently, IFQ can only be transferred once during a FY, a 
restriction that was also part of the original design of the scallop 
IFQ program implemented through Amendment 11. This action also proposes 
to enable an IFQ vessel to transfer IFQ that it received through a 
previous transfer to another IFQ vessel or vessels. For example, a 
vessel that has a base allocation of 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) also leased 
in 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) from other IFQ vessels. After catching only 
2,000 lb (907 kg) of scallops, the vessel's engine fails. Under this 
scenario, the vessel would be allowed to lease (or permanently 
transfer) out its remaining quota to one or more vessels, including 
both its base allocation (as explained in the first part of this 
proposed action) and the quota it has leased in.
    Because sub-transfers will add more complexity to IFQ monitoring, 
and because NMFS is currently making a number of programming changes to 
the databases to improve monitoring in this fishery, NMFS would 
implement this by March 2014, following the completion of other 
adjustments. Waiting until the start of FY 2014 would also avoid 
implementing a sub-transfer alternative mid-year, which would further 
complicate IFQ accounting for FY 2013.
    In order to process IFQ sub-transfer applications, NMFS would 
require that both parties involved in a sub-leasing request (i.e., the 
transferor and the transferee) must be up-to-date with their data 
reporting (i.e., all VMS catch reports, VTR, and dealer data must be 
up-to-date).
    Because this action would increase the complexity of NMFS IFQ 
monitoring, cost recovery fees would likely increase.
    This action would also require adjustments to how NMFS applies 
scallop IFQ towards the ownership and vessel caps, which are held at 5 
percent and 2.5 percent of the total LAGC IFQ sub-ACLs, respectively. 
Sub-transfers would complicate the ownership/vessel cap accounting, 
requiring stronger controls. To ensure accurate accounting and avoid 
the potential for abuse of the IFQ cap restriction, all pounds that 
have been on a vessel during a given FY would be counted towards 
ownership or vessel caps, no matter how long the pounds were ``on'' the 
vessel (i.e., even if a vessel leases in 100 lb (45.4 kg) and transfers 
out those pounds 2 days later, those 100 lb (45.4 kg) would count 
towards the caps).
    For example, Owner A has an IFQ permit on Vessel 1 with an 
allocation consisting of 2.5 percent of the total IFQ allocation and 
also has a permit on Vessel 2 with an allocation of 2.0 percent, for a 
total of 4.5 percent ownership of the total IFQ allocation. If Owner A 
leases an additional 0.5 percent to Vessel 2 and then sub-leases that 
0.5 percent to another vessel owned by a separate entity (Owner B), 
because those pounds were under the ownership of Owner A at one point 
during the given FY, he would still have reached his ownership cap, as 
well as the vessel caps for both vessels. As such, Owner A could 
continue to lease out (or permanently transfer) IFQ pounds to other 
owners, but could not transfer in any more IFQ until the next FY.

Modifications to the Observer Set-Aside Program

    1. Inclusion of LAGC open area trips into the industry-funded 
observer set-aside program. Framework 24 proposes to expand the 
observer set-aside (OBS) program to include LAGC IFQ vessels in open 
areas in order to increase the amount of coverage of that fleet 
compared to current levels. Currently, if an LAGC IFQ vessel is 
required to carry an observer on an open area trip (i.e., a non-access 
area trip), NMFS covers the cost of that observer. All other scallop 
trips (LAGC trips in access areas, and LA trips in both open and access 
areas) are under the industry-funded scallop OBS program. Under the 
industry-funded OBS program, if a vessel is selected to carry an 
observer, the vessel is responsible to pay for that observer on that 
trip. The vessel is compensated from the OBS program in either 
additional pounds in access areas or DAS in open areas to help defray 
the cost of the observer. The OBS program was first used when scallop 
vessels gained access into portions of groundfish closed areas under 
Joint Framework Adjustments 11 and 39 to the Scallop and NE 
Multispecies FMPs, respectively (69 FR 63460; November 2, 2004). The 
set-aside program was expanded in Amendment 10 to the Scallop FMP (69 
FR 35194; June 23, 2004) to include other access areas and open areas. 
The OBS program has enabled higher observer rates in the scallop 
fishery compared to other fisheries in the region. However, there is 
one segment of the scallop fishery with lower bycatch rates that could 
benefit from more coverage--LAGC open area fishing trips. Current LAGC 
open area observer coverage has been very low compared to all other 
scallop trips covered under the OBS program (e.g., open area LAGC IFQ 
coverage is

[[Page 16581]]

generally less than 1 percent, while industry-funded LA open area 
observer coverage is usually set at 10 to 15 percent coverage).
    This increase in coverage for this portion of the fleet would 
enable NMFS to have more bycatch information for this segment of the 
scallop fishery, which would improve monitoring of YTF bycatch.
    In order to incorporate LAGC open area trips into the OBS Program, 
Framework 24 proposes that LAGC vessels would be compensated in a 
manner similar to how access area IFQ trips are handled. If an IFQ 
vessel is selected for an open area observed trip, that vessel would 
receive compensation of a certain number of pounds per trip. The exact 
compensation rate would be determined by NMFS at the start of each FY. 
For example, if the FY 2013 compensation rate for LAGC open area IFQ 
trips was 150 lb/trip (68 kg/trip) and a vessel is selected for an open 
area trip, that vessel would receive a credit of 150 lb (68 kg) towards 
its IFQ account to account for the observer coverage, so long as the 
OBS set-aside has not been fully harvested. Those additional pounds 
could be fished on the observed IFQ trip above the regular possession 
limit, or could be fished on a subsequent trip that FY (but must be 
harvested within the current possession limit requirements if fished on 
a future trip).
    Framework 24 also proposes that LAGC call-in requirements for open 
area trips be identical to those currently in place for LAGC IFQ access 
area trips: All LAGC vessels would be required to call in to NMFS's 
Northeast Fisheries Observer Program weekly with their expected trip 
usage. For example, vessel operators must call by Thursday if they 
expect to make any open area (or access area) trips from Sunday through 
Saturday of the following week. In addition, Council proposes that 
observer providers should charge LAGC IFQ vessels on open area trips in 
the same way that they charge LAGC access area trips: Providers should 
charge dock-to-dock, where a ``day'' is considered a 24-hr period, and 
portions of other days would be pro-rated at an hourly charge.
    Because the Council did not focus on the details of incorporating 
LAGC IFQ open area trips to the OBS Program, NMFS requests comments 
from LAGC IFQ vessels on this proposed approach, as outlined in the 
Framework 24 document (see ADDRESSES). If this action is approved and 
implemented, the FY 2013 coverage rate for LAGC open area trips would 
be about 8 percent. NMFS believes that this coverage level would not 
result in exceeding the available set-aside, and NMFS would re-evaluate 
this level, along with the resulting compensation rate (likely 150 lb/
trip (68 kg/trip)), during the FY if fishing conditions are different 
than anticipated, resulting in the set-aside being harvested more 
quickly than expected.
    2. Adjustments to applying the OBS TAC by area. One-percent of the 
total ACL for the scallop fishery is set aside annually to help 
compensate vessels for the cost of carrying an observer, and currently 
this amount is divided proportionally into access areas and open areas 
in order to set the compensation and coverage rates and monitor this 
set-aside harvest by area. These area-specific OBS allocations are then 
set in the regulations, along with all other specifications set through 
the framework process. If the set-aside for a given area is fully 
harvested, based on the TACs in the regulations, there is currently no 
mechanism to transfer OBS TAC from one area to another and, as a 
result, any vessel with an observed trip in an area with no remaining 
OBS has to pay for the observer without compensation. Framework 24 
proposes to adjust how the OBS is allocated (i.e., removing the need 
for it to be area-specific), in order to allow for more flexibility in 
adjusting compensation rates by area mid-year. Although the 
specification-setting frameworks would still divide up the OBS 
proportionally by access and open areas in order to set the 
compensation and coverage rates and for monitoring purposes (i.e., in 
order to determine if fishing activity in one area is using up more of 
the set-aside compensation than anticipated when the compensation rate 
was set), these TACs would not be officially set in the regulations. 
Instead, set-aside could be transferred from one area to another, based 
on NMFS in-house area-level monitoring that determines whether one area 
will likely have excess set-aside while another may not. The set-aside 
would be considered completely harvested when the full 1 percent is 
landed, at which point there would be no more compensation for any 
observed scallop trip, regardless of area. NMFS would continue to 
proactively adjust compensation rates mid-year to minimize the chance 
that the set-aside would be harvested prior to the end of the FY. 
Allowing set-aside to be flexible by area will help reduce the chance 
that vessels would have to pay for observers without compensation when 
fishing in a given area.

Other Clarifications and Modifications

    This proposed rule includes several revisions to the regulatory 
text to address text that is duplicative and unnecessary, outdated, 
unclear, or otherwise could be improved. NMFS proposes these changes 
consistent with section 305(d) of the MSA. For example, there are terms 
and cross references in the current regulations that are now inaccurate 
due to the regulatory adjustments made through past rulemakings (e.g., 
measures related to the YTF access area TACs are no longer necessary 
because Framework 47 to the NE Multispecies FMP removed those TACs in 
May 2012). NMFS proposes to revise the regulations to remove measures 
intended by previous rulemaking, and to provide more ease in locating 
these regulations by updating cross references.
    This action also proposes revisions that would clarify the intent 
of certain regulations. For example, NMFS proposes clarifications to 
the Turtle Deflector Dredge regulations at Sec.  648.51 to more clearly 
indicate the gear requirements intended through Framework Adjustment 23 
to the Scallop FMP (77 FR 20728; April 6, 2012). Additionally, 
prohibitions in Sec.  648.14 imply that vessels cannot land scallops up 
to the incidental scallop possession limit when declared out of the 
fishery and that IFQ vessels cannot land up to 600 lb (272 kg) of their 
IFQ scallops on NE multispecies, surfclam, ocean quahog, or other trip 
requiring a VMS declaration. This was not the intent of Amendment 11, 
and conflict with other regulations in part 648, subpart D. As such, 
NMFS proposes to clarify these regulations. NMFS also proposes to add 
more description to some access area and habitat closed area 
coordinates to clarify the boundaries of those areas.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with 
the FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable law, subject 
to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    This rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject 
to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). One requirement has been 
submitted to OMB for approval under the NMFS Northeast Region Observer 
Providers Family of Forms (OMB Control No. 0648-0546). Under the 
proposed action, all LAGC IFQ vessels would be required to call in 
weekly with their expected

[[Page 16582]]

open area trip usage, similar to current requirements for LAGC IFQ 
trips in access areas. The public reporting burden for this collection 
of information has already been analyzed under this family of forms and 
is estimated to average 15 minutes per response with an associated cost 
of $1.50, that includes the time for reviewing instructions, searching 
existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and 
completing and reviewing the collection information.
    Based on FY 2011 permit data, there are 259 active LAGC IFQ-
permitted scallop vessels that would be subject to this information 
collection. These vessels would be required to notify observer 
providers if they plan on fishing in an open area in the following 
week. This information collection adds a burden to a small portion of 
the fleet. While this is a new requirement, vessels would never call in 
more than once a week. Since the 2011 renewal of this information 
collection already estimated the burden at once a week for all active 
vessels, there are no additional burden hours compared to the previous 
renewal.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on 
these or any other aspects of the collection of information to the 
Regional Administrator (see ADDRESSES), and email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to 202-395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number.
    An IRFA has been prepared, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA consists of Framework 24 
analyses, its draft IRFA, and the preamble to this action. Because 
Framework 24 includes an alternative to modify the GB access area 
seasonal restrictions (Section 2.2.1), this action is also a joint 
framework with the NE Multispecies FMP (Framework 49). However, this 
alternative is not expected to have direct economic impacts to the 
groundfish fishery (i.e., groundfish vessels currently have no access 
to these areas and should that change, Framework Adjustment 48 to the 
NE Multispecies FMP would include a full analysis of the economic 
impacts for the groundfish fishery) and thus impacts of such a measure 
on groundfish small business entities is expected to be negligible. 
Therefore, this IRFA focuses on the scallop fishery.

Statement of Objective and Need

    This action proposes the management measures and specifications for 
the Atlantic sea scallop fishery for FY 2013, with FY 2014 default 
measures. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and 
the legal basis for this action are contained in Framework 24 and the 
preamble of this proposed rule and are not repeated here.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Would Apply

    The proposed regulations would affect all vessels with LA and LAGC 
scallop permits. The Framework 24 document provides extensive 
information on the number and size of vessels and small businesses that 
would be affected by the proposed regulations, by port and state. There 
were 313 vessels that obtained full-time LA permits in 2011, including 
250 dredge, 52 small-dredge, and 11 scallop trawl permits. In the same 
year, there were also 34 part-time LA permits in the sea scallop 
fishery. No vessels were issued occasional scallop permits. In FY 2011, 
NMFS issued 288 IFQ permits (including 40 IFQ permits issued to vessels 
with a LA scallop permit), 103 NGOM, and 279 incidental catch permits. 
Of these, 169 IFQ, 14 NOGM, and over 76 incidental permitted vessels 
were active. Since all scallop permits are limited access, vessel 
owners would only cancel permits if they decide to stop fishing for 
scallops on the permitted vessel permanently, or if they transfer IFQ 
to another IFQ vessel and permanently relinquish the vessel's scallop 
permit. This is likely to be infrequent due to the value of retaining 
the permit. As such, the number of scallop permits could decline over 
time, but would likely be fewer than 10 permits per year.
    The RFA defines a small business entity in any fish-harvesting or 
hatchery business as a firm that is independently owned and operated 
and not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), 
with receipts of up to $4 M annually. In prior Scallop FMP actions, 
each vessel was considered a small business entity and was treated 
individually for the purposes of the RFA analyses. In this action, the 
Council recognized ownership affiliations and made very basic 
connections between multiple vessels to single owners and has made 
distinctions between large business entities and small business 
entities, as defined by the RFA. Although several vessels are owned by 
a single owner (i.e., 68 vessels out of a total of 343 LA vessels), the 
majority of the limited access vessels are owned by affiliated entities 
comprised of several individuals having ownership interest in multiple 
vessels (i.e., 275 vessels out of a total of 343 LA vessels). The sum 
of annual gross receipts from all scallop vessels operated by the 
majority of the multiple boat owners (but not all) would exceed $4 M in 
2011 and 2012, qualifying them as ``large'' entities. In FY 2010, 190 
vessels, including LA and LAGC permitted-vessels, belonged to 27 large 
business entities that grossed more than $4 M annually in scallop 
revenue. In the same year, 153 vessels belonged to 105 small business 
entities (ownership ranged from 1 to 4 vessels) that grossed less than 
$4 M a year in scallop revenue. In FY 2011, scallop revenue greatly 
increased as the scallop ex-vessel prices increased by 20 percent from 
2010 prices. As a result, more business entities fell in the large 
entity category (i.e., the number of LA permits that grossed more than 
$4 M annually increased to 34, and the number of small entities 
decreased to 97). It is likely that the number of large and small 
entities in FY 2012 were similar to those in FY 2011.
    The Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration (SBA) 
suggests two criteria to consider in determining the significance of 
regulatory impacts; namely, disproportionality and profitability. The 
disproportionality criterion compares the effects of the regulatory 
action on small versus large entities (using the SBA-approved size 
definition of ``small entity''), not the difference between segments of 
small entities. The changes in profits, costs, and net revenues due to 
Framework 24 are not expected to be disproportional for small versus 
large entities since each vessel will receive the same number of open 
areas DAS and access area trips allocations according to the categories 
they belong to (i.e., the allocations for all full-time vessels are 
identical, and the allocations for the part-time and occasional vessels 
are proportional to the full-time allocations, 40 percent and 8.33 
percent of the full-time allocations, respectively). As a result, this 
action

[[Page 16583]]

would have proportionally similar impacts on revenues and profits of 
each vessel and each multi-vessel owner compared both to status quo 
(i.e., FY 2012) and no action levels. Therefore, this action is not 
expected to have disproportionate impacts or place a substantial number 
of small entities at a competitive disadvantage relative to large 
entities. A summary of the economic impacts relative to the 
profitability criterion is provided below under ``Economic Impacts of 
Proposed Measures and Alternatives.''

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    One proposed measure in this rulemaking would impose new reporting, 
recordkeeping or other compliance requirements upon the small entities 
that participate in the fishery.
    Under the proposed action, all LAGC IFQ vessels would be required 
to call in weekly with their expected open area trip usage, similar to 
current requirements for LAGC IFQ trips in access areas. This measure 
is intended to improve observer coverage for LAGC open area trips by 
incorporating them into the industry-funded observer program, rather 
than continuing to fund them under NMFS's Northeast Fisheries Observer 
Program, which results in lower coverage levels due to competing 
interests with funding observers in other targeting fisheries. Observer 
coverage in the LAGC scallop fishery is necessary to monitor the 
bycatch of finfish, including yellowtail flounder, skates, monkfish, 
cod, and other species. Monitoring of yellowtail and windowpane 
flounder is of particular concern because the scallop fishery is 
constrained by a fishery-specific sub-Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for 
these stocks. Observer coverage is also needed to monitor interactions 
of the LAGC scallop fishery with endangered and threatened sea turtles 
in open areas.
    Notification requires the dissemination of the following 
information: Gear type (dredge or trawl); specification of LA or LAGC; 
area to be fished (for FY 2013, these areas include NLS, CA1, CA2, HC, 
MA open areas, or GB open areas); phone number; Federal fishery permit 
number; name; vessel name; port and state of departure; and estimated 
date of sail. This information would be used to place observers on LAGC 
scallop vessels to monitor catch, discards, and potential sea turtle 
interactions on open area trips. While this is a new requirement, 
vessels would never be obligated to call in more than once a week and 
already have a weekly call-in requirement for access area trips. As a 
result of the current collection of information requirements, there 
would be no additional burden hours compared to what has already been 
analyzed. The burden estimates, including the new requirement, applies 
to all LA and LAGC IFQ vessels and assumed that each vessel would call 
in to the observer program a total of 50 times in a given FY. NMFS 
estimates each response to take about 10 min, with an associated cost 
of $1.00. NMFS has estimated the cost to observer providers to respond 
to each vessel request to take about 5 min, with an associated cost of 
$0.50 . In 2011, there were 259 LAGC IFQ vessels. Therefore, 12,950 
requests (50 calls x 259 vessels) would impose total compliance costs 
of $19,425. These estimates are likely over-estimates, as LAGC IFQ 
vessels would likely not call in 50 times a year.
    This action contains no other compliance costs. It does not 
duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal law.

Economic Impacts of Proposed Measures and Alternatives

Summary of the Aggregate Economic Impacts
    A detailed analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed actions 
may be found in Section 5.4 of the Framework 24 document. All economic 
values are presented in terms of 2011 dollars and projected economic 
values presented below use a 7-percent discount rate to compare results 
to current values.
    The impact of five allocation alternatives were evaluated in 
Framework 24: Four alternatives proposed the same number of DAS, but 
differed on the number of access area trips and which areas would be 
open in FY 2013. One alternative (Alternative 1) proposed that full-
time vessels would receive two access area trips at 13,000 lb (5,897 
kg) into three access areas (i.e., HC, CA1, and CA2); another 
alternative (Alternative 2; the proposed alternative) offered the 
identical number of access area trips as Alternative 1, but included 
access into NLS as well as HC, CA1, and CA2. The remaining two 
alternatives offered full-time vessels one trip at 18,000 lb (8,165 
kg), which would be randomly assigned to one of two access areas 
(Alternative 3) or one of four areas (Alterative 4). The fifth 
alternative considered by the Council was the No Action alternative, 
which would allow full-time vessels four access area trips at 18,000 lb 
(8,165 kg) per trip and lower DAS allocations than the other 
alternatives.
    The definition of ``No Action'' refers to the implementation of FY 
2013 default measures that are currently assigned in the regulations. 
The No Action alternative does not result in the same allocations or 
revenues as in FY 2012. Rather, No Action would result in eight fewer 
DAS in FY 2013 compared to FY 2012. In addition, because the scallop 
resource in the access areas is at a much lower level than in FY 2012 
and earlier, the No Action would allocate four trips into areas that 
are no longer as productive as they were in FY 2012. As a result of 
fewer open area DAS, combined with a lower landings-per-unit effort 
(LPUE) due to the decline in estimated stock abundance in FY 2013, 
revenues for No Action would be lower ($448 M in FY 2013) compared to 
the actual revenues in FY 2011 ($582 M) and FY 2012 (estimated to be 
about $550 M in inflation-adjusted 2011 prices). From the perspective 
of the impacts on the economy and of the participants in the fishery, a 
baseline that would reflect potential economic impacts relative to the 
recent levels of allocations would be a more useful comparison. For 
this purpose, a Status Quo scenario was also incorporated into the 
economic analysis. This scenario allocated vessels exactly the same 
amount of access area trips and DAS in FY 2013 as they had the 
opportunity to take in FY 2012. Because the recent scallop resource 
conditions in the open and access areas will be less favorable in FY 
2013 compared to FY 2012, continuation of the same allocations under 
the Status Quo scenario would result in lower landings (50.9 M lb in FY 
2013 versus an estimated 57.6 M lb in FY 2012) and lower revenues in FY 
2013 compared to FY 2012 ($505 M, compared to an estimated revenue of 
$550 M) if actual scallop prices equal the estimated prices ($9.92) for 
FY 2013. Similarly, in the future years, the landings and revenues for 
the Status Quo scenario will be lower than FY 2012 levels. This is 
because the continuation of the same number of open area DAS and access 
area trip allocations would increase the fishing mortality above the 
sustainable levels and reduce scallop yield and revenues in the long-
term. Note that the Status Quo alternative is used here for analytical 
purposes in the economic impact analysis of Framework 24's allocations 
alternatives but was not actually considered by the Council, because it 
is based on an infeasible scenario that would increase the scallop 
fishing mortality above sustainable levels, resulting in reduced 
scallop yield and revenues in the long-term.

[[Page 16584]]

    In summary, the aggregate economic impacts of the proposed 
measures, including the open area DAS and access area allocations for 
LA vessels and ACLs for the LAGC fishery, are expected to have negative 
impacts on the revenues and profits of the small businesses in the 
scallop industry in FY 2013, compared to the No Action alternative and 
FY 2012 conditions. However, the measures included in Framework 24 are 
not expected to offset the gains and profits of the scallop industry, 
or to jeopardize the financial viability of scallop vessels either in 
the short term or in the medium term, especially in this highly 
profitable industry. The record-high revenues and profits earned by the 
scallop industry since FY 2010 are expected to provide the scallop 
vessels with sufficient short-term cash reserves to finance their 
operations until the anticipated positive effects of the regulation 
start paying off in the later years. Over the medium term (i.e., from 
FYs 2013 to 2017), the economic impacts of the proposed alternative on 
the majority of small business entities in scallop fishing industry 
could range from small negative to negligible impacts compared to 
taking no action and the FY 2012 levels. The economic impacts of the 
proposed action are expected to be positive over the long-term.

Economic Impacts of the Proposed Measures and Alternatives

1. Allocations for the LA and LAGC Scallop Fleets--Aggregate Impacts
    The proposed open area DAS allocations are expected to prevent 
overfishing in open areas. The proposed action would implement the 
following vessel-specific DAS allocations for FYs 2013 and 2014: Full-
time vessels would be allocated 33 and 23 DAS, respectively; part-time 
vessels would be allocated 13 and 9 DAS, respectively; and occasional 
vessels would receive 3 and 2 DAS, respectively. Additionally, in FY 
2013 full-time vessels would receive a total of two access area trips 
at 13,000 lb (5,897 kg), and part-time vessels and occasional vessels 
would receive one access area trip, at 10,400 lb (4,717 kg) and 2,080 
lb (943 kg), respectively. The proposed default FY 2014 DAS would be 
set at precautionary levels and would be reevaluated in the next 
specifications-setting framework action. No access area trips would be 
allocated under FY 2014 default measures, and vessels would have to 
wait until the next framework to fish in access areas in FY 2014.
    The Framework 24 analysis of the fleet-wide aggregate economic 
impacts indicate that the proposed action and all other alternatives 
would have negative economic impacts compared to the No Action 
alternative in the short term (FYs 2013-2016) because vessels would 
receive fewer access area trips compared to No Action. Total fleet 
revenue under the proposed action (Alternative 2) is estimated at 
$393.4 M, and net revenues per vessel (i.e., gross revenues minus trip 
costs, used as a proxy for profits) are estimated to be $1,187,238 in 
FY 2013. Compared with No Action fleet revenues ($448.4 M fleet-wide 
revenues and $1,353,718 per vessel), the proposed action and 
Alternative 1 would result in decreases in FY 2013 fleet and vessel net 
revenues of 12 percent; and Alternative 3 and 4 would result in 
decreases in FY 2013 fleet and vessel net revenues of 18 and 17 
percent, respectively. Both the revenues and net revenues under the 
preferred alternative, as well as other considered alternatives, over 
the medium term (FYs 2014 to 2016) would be less than No Action, 
although the differences would be smaller after FY 2015. However, over 
the long-term (FYs 2013-2026), the proposed action would have positive 
impacts on the revenues and net revenues of scallop vessels. This is 
because under No Action more scallops would be landed in the short-
term, resulting in less available scallops for harvest in the future.
    Compared to the Status Quo alternative, the proposed action would 
have negative impacts on the revenues and profits of the scallop 
vessels and the small business entities in FYs 2013-2015. Estimated 
fleet revenues would decline by 22 percent in FY 2013 under the 
proposed action compared to the level for revenues for Status Quo. The 
reduction in revenues would be greater compared to estimated FY 2012 
levels, although part of that decline would be due to the reduction in 
the scallop biomass in the recent year. The decline in net revenues 
(which the analysis uses as a proxy for profits) would be slightly 
lower, 21 percent in FY 2013 compared to the Status Quo scenario, 
because the fishing costs would be lower with fewer access area trips 
and less open area DAS under the proposed action and other 
alternatives. The decline in net revenue would be less under the 
proposed action compared to the other considered alternatives.
    Although the lower allocations proposed in Framework 24 would have 
negative impacts over the short-term, they are not expected to offset 
the gains and profits of the scallop industry, or to jeopardize the 
financial viability of scallop vessels either in the short term or in 
the medium term, especially in this highly profitable industry. The 
record-high revenues and profits earned by the scallop industry since 
FY 2010 are expected to provide the scallop vessels with sufficient 
short-term cash reserves to finance their operations until the 
anticipated positive effects of the regulation start paying off in the 
later years. The economic impacts on the net revenues and profits of 
the proposed action are expected to be positive over the long-term due 
to higher estimated scallop biomass levels.
    As for LAGC vessels, the economic impacts of the proposed action 
are expected to be negative in the short-term, because the overall ACL 
would be lower, resulting in smaller allocations for the LAGC fishery 
compared to the No Action and Status Quo levels. Because the LAGC 
allocations are derived from the ACL (which is the same for all 
alternatives), the values are identical across all alternatives 
considered, with the exception of No Action. The total LAGC IFQ for the 
proposed action is equivalent to about 2.4 M lb (1,111 mt) and 2.8 M 
(1,257 mt) for FYs 2013 and default 2014, respectively, or about 
400,000 lb (181.4 mt) less than under No Action. Because the LAGC 
fishery receives a fixed proportion of the total ACL (i.e., 5.5 
percent), the economic impacts are similar to the impacts for the LA 
fishery in the medium-term (low negative) and over the long-term 
(slightly positive) as well compared to the No Action alternative and 
Status Quo scenario. The proposed action would prorate LAGC IFQ trips 
proportionally in all open access areas excluding CA2, with positive 
economic impacts on the LAGC vessels because they will be able to use 
CA2 trips in areas closer to the shore with lower trip costs, and 
offsetting some of the negative impacts of the reduced allocations. 
There are no other alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for the LAGC participants of the scallop fishery.
    In summary, the economic impacts of the proposed LA and LAGC 
allocation measures are expected to have negative impacts on the 
revenues and profits of the small businesses in the scallop industry in 
FY 2013, compared to the No Action alternative and FY 2012 
conditionsOver the medium term (i.e., from FYs 2013 to 2017), the 
economic impacts of the proposed alternative on the majority of small 
business entities in scallop fishing industry could range from small 
negative to negligible impacts compared to taking no action and the FY 
2012 levels.

[[Page 16585]]

2. Payback Measures for LA and LAGC Vessels for Overages Incurred 
Between March 1, 2013, and Framework 24's Implementation
    Framework 24 would be implemented after the start of FY 2013 (March 
1, 2013) and the FY 2013 default measures would be in place until the 
proposed action is implemented. These current default measures include 
access area LA allocations that are considerably higher than proposed 
under Framework 24 (i.e., 4 access area trips at 18,000 lb/trip (8.165 
kg/trip) compared to 2 access area trips at 13,000 lb/trip (5,897 kg/
trip) for full-time vessels). LAGC IFQ vessels would receive 
allocations at the start of FY 2013 that are roughly 30 percent higher 
than Framework 24 allocations. Framework 24 included a number of 
provisions to account for the inconsistencies between allocations in 
effect at the start of FY 2013 and those that would be implemented 
under Framework 24. These ``payback'' measures create a disincentive to 
fish higher March 1, 2013, allocations and would help reduce the 
negative impacts of overfishing in 2013 on the scallop resource if 
vessels adhere to the lower Framework 24 allocations. For LA vessels, 
if a vessel takes FY 2013 default access area trips, it will have to 
give up all FY 2013 access area trips authorized to that vessel under 
Framework 24, plus 12 open area DAS as a payback. Since taking extra 
trips would result in a net loss of scallop catch, this could have 
negative economic impacts in the short-term. However, taking the number 
of trips allocated at the start of FY 2013 could have negative impacts 
on the scallop yield and revenues from these areas in the future years. 
As a result, the payback measures would help reduce the negative 
impacts of overfishing in 2013 on the scallop resource and the analysis 
results indicate positive long-term impacts on landings, revenues, and 
profits of the scallop vessels.
    LAGC IFQ vessels that exceed their ultimate FY 2013 allocations 
through IFQ transfers would have a pound-for-pound deduction in FY 2013 
to account for the excess allocated IFQ. The payback would be applied 
to the vessel that transfer the IFQ in (i.e., not the vessel that 
transfers out the IFQ). LAGC IFQ vessels that exceed their ultimate FY 
2013 allocations would have a pound-for-pound payback in FY 2014 as 
their individual AM, specified in Amendment 15 to the Scallop FMP 
(Amendment 15).
    As a result, LA and LAGC vessels that choose to exceed the FY 2013 
allocations proposed in Framework 24 would have slightly lower revenues 
than the estimated fleet average in FY 2013, resulting in negative 
short-term impact on those individual vessels in FY 2013. Over the 
long-term, the overage provisions proposed in Framework 24 are expected 
to reduce the negative impacts of overfishing in FY 2013 on the scallop 
resource. Therefore, these measures will have positive fleet-wide 
impacts on landings and revenues over the long term. There are no 
alternatives that would generate higher economic benefits for the 
participants of the scallop fishery. Members of the scallop industry 
assisted in the development of these payback measures.
3. RSA and OBS TACs
    The proposed action would set aside 1 percent of the ABC for the 
industry-funded OBS program, and would set aside 1.25 M lb (567 mt) 
from the ABC for the RSA program. These set-asides are expected to have 
indirect economic benefits for the scallop fishery by improving scallop 
information and data made possible by research and the observer 
program. Although allocating a higher OBS percentage or higher RSA 
allocation could result in higher indirect benefits to the scallop 
fleet by increasing available funds for research and the observer 
program, these set-aside increases could also decrease direct economic 
benefits to the fishery by reducing revenues, and no such alternatives 
were considered.
4. NGOM TAC
    The proposed action (No Action alternative) specifies a 70,000-lb 
(31,751-kg) TAC for the NGOM and would not have additional economic 
impacts on the participants of the NGOM fishery. The NGOM TAC has been 
specified at this level since FY 2008, and the fishery has harvested 
less than 15 percent of the TAC in each FY; therefore, the TAC has no 
negative economic impacts. There are no alternatives that would 
generate higher benefits for NGOM scallop vessels. The alternative for 
setting the NGOM TAC at 58,000 lb (26,308 kg) is expected to reduce the 
chance of excess fishing in Federal waters in the NGOM management area, 
but considering that the current scallop catches by NGOM vessels are 
very low, neither alternative is expected to impact vessels. Thus, 
negligible economic impacts are expected from the No Action alternative 
and the other NGOM Alternative.
5. Modification of GB Access Area Seasonal Restrictions
    The Council considered four options to modify the GB access area 
seasonal closures, in addition to No Action, which would keep the areas 
(NLS, CA1, CA2) closed from February 1 through June 14 of each FY. 
Option 1 would close all three areas from Sept 1-April, Option 2 would 
close all three areas from September-November, Option 3 (the proposed 
action) would only close CA2 from August 15-November 15 and would not 
impose a seasonal closure on CA1 or NLS, and option 4 would eliminate 
the seasonal closure in the GB access areas entirely to that the areas 
would be open to scallop fishing year round.
    The proposed action (Option 3) would modify GB seasonal 
restrictions to provide access during months with highest scallop meat 
weights and to minimize yellowtail bycatch. Compared to No Action and 
the other options considered, this alternative would provide higher 
flexibility to vessels because CA2 would close for only 3 months 
(August 15 through November 15) and CA1 and NLS would be open all year, 
resulting in positive economic benefits for the scallop fishery.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for the participants of the scallop fishery. Under No Action, 
all the GB access areas will remain closed during 4.5 months (from 
February 1 to June 14), during times when scallop meat weights are 
higher compared to the months that would be closed under the proposed 
action. Similarly, other alternatives (Options 1 and 2) would keep all 
three GB access areas closed, while the proposed action would only 
close CA2. Eliminating GB access area seasonal restrictions could have 
positive economic benefits for the scallop vessels in the short-term. 
It is more likely, however, for the long-term benefits of this option 
to be lower compared to the economic benefits from other options since 
fishing effort could occur in the access areas during the low meat 
weight seasons, resulting in higher fishing costs and lower benefits 
for the scallop resource.
6. Measures To Address YTF Bycatch in the LAGC IFQ Dredge Fishery
    Under the proposed action, if the SNE/MA YTF AM for LAGC IFQ 
vessels using dredges was triggered, these vessels would be unable to 
fish in certain areas in SNE during the months of the highest YTF 
bycatch. The closure areas are identical to those for LA vessels when 
the SNE/MA YTF AM is triggered, except that there would be no year-
round closure of these areas for LAGC vessels (i.e., some of the 
closure areas would be open for parts of the year when traditional 
fishing has occurred).

[[Page 16586]]

This should reduce the amount of effort that could be shifted to other 
months and areas, thus reducing negative impacts on crew income and 
profits. Bycatch from this segment of the fishery is typically very 
small, and as long as the future catch of YTF does not increase from 
those levels estimated in previous years, this alternative would likely 
have negligible economic impacts. However, if the AM were triggered, a 
small negative economic impact on LAGC vessels using dredge gear would 
be expected.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all the participants of the scallop fishery. Under No 
Action, YTF catch by LAGC dredge vessels would count against the 
scallop fishery YTF sub-ACLs (GB and SNE/MA), but if an AM is 
triggered, these vessels would be exempt from those measures. As a 
result, No Action would have positive economic impacts on the LAGC 
vessels and negative economic impacts on the LA vessels if the AM 
triggered. Also, no accountability for the LAGC fishery would likely 
increase the risk of catching substantial proportions of YTF sub-ACL by 
this fishery with negative economic impacts on the overall scallop 
fishing industry.
7. Measures To Address YTF Bycatch in the LAGC IFQ Trawl Fishery
    The AMs to address YTF bycatch in the LAGC IFQ trawl fishery are 
expected to reduce incentive to catch YTF as bycatch and reduce the 
risks of closing of the YTF AM seasonal closure areas to scallop 
fishing with positive long-term economic impacts. However, if the YTF 
bycatch by the LAGC IFQ trawl fishery remains above 10 percent, the 
proposed action would close statistical areas 612 and 613 for 7 months 
to trawl vessels. These areas would close to fishing during certain 
months, as well, if the overall YTF SNE/MA sub-ACL for the scallop 
fishery is exceeded. In either case, the vessels would have to shift 
their effort to July through November if they want to fish with trawl 
gear, which is likely to increase costs of fishing. Allowing dredge 
gear to be used for fishing during closure periods would add to 
flexibility for those vessels that have the capacity to use dredge 
gear. This would mitigate the potential impacts of AM closures since 
the costs of installing a dredge could outweigh cost of shifting effort 
to other months and areas during the AM closure season.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all the participants of the scallop fishery. Two other 
options were considered: One that was similar to the proposed action, 
but that would have not allowed LAGC trawl vessels to switch to dredge 
gear (Option 1), and another that would have prohibited trawl gear for 
an entire FY in the SNE/MA area if the overall YTF sub-ACL was exceeded 
(Option 3). The proposed action (Option 2) is more flexible than Option 
1 because it allows a trawl vessel to convert to dredge gear, and it is 
more flexible than Option 3 because it is not a gear restriction for 
the entire SNE/MA YT stock area. Under No Action, YTF catch by LAGC 
vessels would count against the scallop fishery YTF sub-ACLs (GB and 
SNE/MA), but if an AM is triggered, LAGC vessels are exempt from those 
measures. As a result, No Action would have positive economic impacts 
on the LAGC vessels and negative economic impacts on the LA vessels if 
the AM is triggered. Also, no accountability for the LAGC fishery would 
likely increase the risk of catching substantial proportions of YTF 
sub-ACL by this fishery, with negative economic impacts on the overall 
scallop fishing industry.
8. Timing of AMs for the Scallop Fishery YTF Sub-ACL
    Under the proposed action, if reliable information is not available 
to make a mid-year determination of the need to implement an AM for the 
YTF sub-ACL, NMFS would wait until enough information is available 
before making a decision to implement an AM. This alternative would 
have positive economic impacts on the scallop vessels since the 
decisions would be made based on more accurate information.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all of the participants in the scallop fishery. Under No 
Action, AMs will trigger in Year 2 regardless of the reliability of the 
information available at that time. This could have negative economic 
impacts on the scallop fishery if the AMs were triggered in the next FY 
based on inaccurate data that resulted in loss of scallop landings and 
revenue.
9. Additional Flexibility for the LAGC IFQ Leasing Program
    This measure would allow transfer of quota after an LAGC IFQ vessel 
landed scallops in a given FY and, beginning March 1, 2014, would allow 
IFQ to be transferred more than once (i.e., sub-transfers). This 
measure is expected to have positive economic impacts allowing the 
vessels fully land their quota, and would enable a vessel owner to 
transfer IFQ to another vessel if his vessel sank or became inoperable 
mid-year, thus providing more revenue opportunities. The second aspect 
of this alternative would enable an IFQ vessel to transfer IFQ that it 
received through a previous transfer (i.e., a sub-transfer to another 
vessel) to another IFQ vessel or vessels. Although this alternative 
would provide more flexibility to vessels by allowing sub-leasing with 
positive economic benefits, it would also add more complexity to IFQ 
monitoring with a possibility for the cost recovery fees increasing and 
thus reducing the net economic benefits for the LAGC vessels.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all of the participants in the scallop fishery. No Action 
could result in loss of revenue from unused quota if a vessel cannot 
fish during the rest of the year and lease its quota to another vessel, 
with negative economic impacts.
10. Inclusion of LAGC Open Area Trips Into the Industry-Funded Observer 
Set-Aside (OBS) Program
    Framework 24 proposes to expand the OBS program to include LAGC IFQ 
vessels in open areas to increase the amount of coverage of that fleet 
compared to current levels. Given that the scallop fishery is subject 
to bycatch sub-ACLs, it would be useful to have more observer data to 
rely on to monitor these ACLs more precisely, including the LAGC 
fishing in open areas. Having more precise bycatch information for all 
segments of the scallop fishery would improve management and would have 
indirect positive impacts on economic benefits.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all of the participants in the scallop fishery. Under No 
Action, LAGC trips in open areas will not be under the OBS program and 
that portion of the fleet's trips would have very little observer 
coverage.
11. Adjustments to Applying the OBS TAC by Area
    Under the proposed action, OBS could be transferred from one area 
to another based on NMFS's monitoring that determines whether one area 
will likely have excess set-aside, while another may not. Therefore, 
this alternative would be more efficient in using the OBS where it is 
needed most and, as such, they would be more fully utilized for better 
monitoring the catch, with indirect positive economic benefits.
    There are no alternatives that would generate higher economic 
benefits for all the participants of the scallop fishery. Under No 
Action, if the OBS for a given area is fully harvested, there would be 
no mechanism to transfer TAC from one area to another. As a result, any 
vessel

[[Page 16587]]

with an observed trip in an area with no remaining OBS would have to 
pay for the observer without compensation. This would increase costs 
for vessels and have negative economic impacts.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: March 5, 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.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  648.10, paragraph (f)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.10  VMS and DAS requirements for vessel owners/operators.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) IFQ scallop vessels. An IFQ scallop vessel that has crossed the 
VMS Demarcation Line specified under paragraph (a) of this section is 
deemed to be fishing under the IFQ program, unless prior to the vessel 
leaving port, the vessel's owner or authorized representative declares 
the vessel out of the scallop fishery by notifying the Regional 
Administrator through the VMS. If the vessel has not fished for any 
fish (i.e., steaming only), after declaring out of the fishery, leaving 
port, and steaming to another location, the owner or authorized 
representative of an IFQ scallop vessel may declare into the IFQ 
fishery without entering another port by making a declaration before 
first crossing the VMS Demarcation Line. An IFQ scallop vessel that is 
fishing north of 42[deg]20' N. lat. is deemed to be fishing under the 
NGOM scallop fishery unless prior to the vessel leaving port, the 
vessel's owner or authorized representative declares the vessel out of 
the scallop fishery, as specified in paragraphs (e)(5)(i) and (ii) of 
this section. After declaring out of the fishery, leaving port, and 
steaming to another location, if the IFQ scallop vessel has not fished 
for any fish (i.e., steaming only), the vessel may declare into the 
NGOM fishery without entering another port by making a declaration 
before first crossing the VMS Demarcation Line.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.11, paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2)(ii), (g)(5)(i)(B), 
(g)(5)(ii), and the introductory text to paragraphs (g)(5) and 
(g)(5)(i), are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.11  At-sea sea sampler/observer coverage.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) General. Unless otherwise specified, owners, operators, and/or 
managers of vessels issued a Federal scallop permit under Sec.  
648.4(a)(2), and specified in paragraph (a) of this section, must 
comply with this section and are jointly and severally responsible for 
their vessel's compliance with this section. To facilitate the 
deployment of at-sea observers, all sea scallop vessels issued limited 
access and LAGC IFQ permits are required to comply with the additional 
notification requirements specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this 
section. When NMFS notifies the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager 
of any requirement to carry an observer on a specified trip in either 
an Access Area or Open Area as specified in paragraph (g)(3) of this 
section, the vessel may not fish for, take, retain, possess, or land 
any scallops without carrying an observer. Vessels may only embark on a 
scallop trip in open areas or Access Areas without an observer if the 
vessel owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the 
vessel has received a waiver of the observer requirement for that trip 
pursuant to paragraphs (g)(3) and (g)(4)(ii) of this section.
    (2) * * *
    (ii) LAGC IFQ vessels. LAGC IFQ vessel owners, operators, or 
managers must notify the NMFS/NEFOP by telephone by 0001 hr of the 
Thursday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that they intend 
to start any scallop trip, and must include the port of departure, open 
area or specific Sea Scallop Access Area to be fished, and whether 
fishing as a scallop dredge, scallop trawl vessel. If selected, up to 
two trips that start during the specified week (Sunday through 
Saturday) can be selected to be covered by an observer. NMFS/NEFOP must 
be notified by the owner, operator, or vessel manager of any trip plan 
changes at least 48 hr prior to vessel departure.
* * * * *
    (5) Owners of scallop vessels shall be responsible for paying the 
cost of the observer for all scallop trips on which an observer is 
carried onboard the vessel, regardless of whether the vessel lands or 
sells sea scallops on that trip, and regardless of the availability of 
set-aside for an increased possession limit or reduced DAS accrual 
rate. The owners of vessels that carry an observer may be compensated 
with a reduced DAS accrual rate for open area scallop trips or 
additional scallop catch per day in Sea Scallop Access Areas or 
additional catch per trip for LAGC IFQ trips in order to help defray 
the cost of the observer, under the program specified in Sec. Sec.  
648.53 and 648.60.
    (i) Observer service providers shall establish the daily rate for 
observer coverage on a scallop vessel on an Access Area trip or open 
area DAS or IFQ scallop trip consistent with paragraphs (g)(5)(i)(A) 
and (B), respectively, of this section.
* * * * *
    (B) Open area scallop trips. For purposes of determining the daily 
rate for an observed scallop trip for DAS or LAGC IFQ open area trips, 
regardless of the status of the industry-funded observer set-aside, a 
service provider shall charge dock to dock where ``day'' is defined as 
a 24-hr period, and portions of the other days would be pro-rated at an 
hourly charge (taking the daily rate divided by 24). For example, if a 
vessel with an observer departs on the July 1st at 10 p.m. and lands on 
July 3rd at 1 a.m., the time at sea equals 27 hr, so the provider would 
charge 1 day and 3 hr.
    (ii) NMFS shall determine any reduced DAS accrual rate and the 
amount of additional pounds of scallops per day fished in a Sea Scallop 
Access Area or on an open area LAGC IFQ trips for the applicable 
fishing year based on the economic conditions of the scallop fishery, 
as determined by best available information. Vessel owners and observer 
service providers shall be notified through the Small Entity Compliance 
Guide of any DAS accrual rate changes and any changes in additional 
pounds of scallops determined by the Regional Administrator to be 
necessary. NMFS shall notify vessel owners and observer providers of 
any adjustments.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  648.14, paragraphs (i)(2)(vi)(F), (i)(2)(vi)(G), 
(i)(4)(i)(G), and (i)(4)(iii)(E) are removed and reserved, paragraphs 
(i)(1)(iii)(A)(1)(iii), (i)(1)(iii)(A)(2)(iii), (i)(3)(i)(B), 
(i)(4)(i)(A), and (i)(4)(iii)(D) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (i) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) * * *

[[Page 16588]]

    (A) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued 
and carries on board an IFQ scallop permit and is properly declared 
into the IFQ scallop fishery or is properly declared into the NE 
multispecies, Atlantic surfclam or quahog fishery, or other fishery 
requiring a VMS declaration, and is not fishing in a sea scallop access 
area.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iii) The scallops were harvested by a vessel that has been issued 
and carries on board an IFQ scallop permit issued pursuant to Sec.  
648.4(a)(2)(ii)(A), is fishing outside of the NGOM scallop management 
area, and is properly declared into the general category scallop 
fishery or is properly declared into the NE multispecies, or Atlantic 
surfclam or quahog fishery, or other fishery requiring a VMS 
declaration, and is not fishing in a sea scallop access area.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) Fish for, possess, or land scallops on a vessel that is 
declared out of scallop fishing unless the vessel has been issued an 
Incidental scallop permit, or is an IFQ scallop vessel that is properly 
declared into the IFQ scallop, NE multispecies, Atlantic surfclam or 
quahog, or other fishery requiring a VMS declaration.
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (A) Fish for or land per trip, or possess at any time, in excess of 
600 lb (272.2 kg) of shucked, or 75 bu (26.4 hL) of in-shell scallops 
per trip, or 100 bu (35.2 hL) in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS 
Demarcation Line, unless the vessel is carrying an observer as 
specified in Sec.  648.11 and an increase in the possession limit is 
authorized by the Regional Administrator and not exceeded by the 
vessel, as specified in Sec. Sec.  648.52(g) and 648.60(d).
* * * * *
    (iii) * * *
    (D) Prior to March 1, 2014, request to transfer IFQ that has 
already been temporarily transferred from an IFQ scallop vessel in the 
same fishing year.
0
5. In Sec.  648.51, the introductory text to paragraph (b), and 
paragraphs (b)(1), and (b)(5)(ii), are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.51  Gear and crew restrictions.

* * * * *
    (b) Dredge vessel gear restrictions. All vessels issued limited 
access and General Category scallop permits and fishing with scallop 
dredges, with the exception of hydraulic clam dredges and mahogany 
quahog dredges in possession of 600 lb (181.44 kg), or less, of 
scallops, must comply with the following restrictions, unless otherwise 
specified:
    (1) Maximum dredge width. The combined dredge width in use by or in 
possession on board such vessels shall not exceed 31 ft (9.4 m), 
measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, except as 
provided under paragraph (e) of this section, in Sec.  648.60(g)(2), 
and the scallop dredge exemption areas specified in Sec.  648.80. 
However, component parts may be on board the vessel such that they do 
not conform with the definition of ``dredge or dredge gear'' in Sec.  
648.2, i.e., the metal ring bag and the mouth frame, or bail, of the 
dredge are not attached, and such that no more than one complete spare 
dredge could be made from these component's parts.
* * * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) Requirement to use a turtle deflector dredge (TDD) frame --(A) 
From May 1 through October 31, any limited access scallop vessel using 
a dredge, regardless of dredge size or vessel permit category, or any 
LAGC IFQ scallop vessel fishing with a dredge with a width of 10.5 ft 
(3.2 m) or greater, that is fishing for scallops in waters west of 
71[deg] W long., from the shoreline to the outer boundary of the EEZ, 
must use a TDD. The TDD requires five modifications to the rigid dredge 
frame, as specified in paragraphs (b)(5)(ii)(A)(1) through 
(b)(5)(ii)(A)(5) of this section. See paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(E) of this 
section for more specific descriptions of the dredge elements mentioned 
below.
    (1) The cutting bar must be located in front of the depressor 
plate.
    (2) The acute angle between the plane of the bale and the strut 
must be less than or equal to 45 degrees.
    (3) All bale bars must be removed, except the outer bale (single or 
double) bars and the center support beam, leaving an otherwise 
unobstructed space between the cutting bar and forward bale wheels, if 
present. The center support beam must be less than 6 inches (15.24 cm) 
wide. For the purpose of flaring and safe handling of the dredge, a 
minor appendage not to exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length may be 
attached to each of the outer bale bars. Only one side of the flaring 
bar may be attached to the dredge frame. The appendage should at no 
point be closer than 12 inches (30.5 cm) to the cutting bar so that it 
does not interfere with the space created by the bump out.
    (4) Struts must be spaced 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart or less from 
each other, along the entire length of the frame.
    (5) Unless exempted, as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(B) of 
this section, the TDD must include a straight extension (``bump out'') 
connecting the outer bale bars to the dredge frame. This ``bump out'' 
must exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length, as measured along the inside 
of the bale bar from the front of the cutting bar to the first bend in 
the bale bar.
    (B) A limited access scallop vessel that uses a dredge with a width 
less than 10.5 ft (3.2 m) is required to use a TDD, except that such a 
vessel is exempt from the ``bump out'' requirement specified in 
paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(A)(5) of this section. This exemption does not 
apply to LAGC vessels that use dredges with a width of less than 10.5 
ft (3.2 m), because such vessels are exempted from the requirement to 
use a TDD, as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section.
    (C) Vessels subject to the requirements in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of 
this section transiting waters west of 71[deg] W. long., from the 
shoreline to the outer boundary of the EEZ, are exempted from the 
requirement to only possess and use TDDs, provided the dredge gear is 
stowed in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b) and not available for 
immediate use.
    (D)TDD-related definitions. (1) The cutting bar refers to the 
lowermost horizontal bar connecting the outer bails at the dredge 
frame.
    (2) The depressor plate, also known as the pressure plate, is the 
angled piece of steel welded along the length of the top of the dredge 
frame.
    (3) The struts are the metal bars connecting the cutting bar and 
the depressor plate.
* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  648.52, paragraphs (a) and (g) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.52  Possession and landing limits.

    (a) A vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit that is declared into the 
IFQ scallop fishery as specified in Sec.  648.10(b), or on a properly 
declared NE multispecies, surfclam, or ocean quahog trip (or other 
fishery requiring a VMS declaration) and not fishing in a scallop 
access area, unless as specified in paragraph (g) of this section or 
exempted under the state waters exemption program described in Sec.  
648.54, may not possess or land, per trip, more than 600 lb (272.2 kg) 
of shucked scallops, or possess more than 75 bu (26.4 hL) of in-shell 
scallops shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line. Such a vessel may land 
scallops only once in any calendar day. Such a

[[Page 16589]]

vessel may possess up to 100 bu (35.2 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward 
of the VMS Demarcation Line on a properly declared IFQ scallop trip, or 
on a properly declared NE multispecies, surfclam, or ocean quahog trip, 
or other fishery requiring a VMS declaration, and not fishing in a 
scallop access area.
* * * * *
    (g) Possession limit to defray the cost of observers for LAGC IFQ 
vessels. An LAGC IFQ vessel with an observer on board may retain, per 
observed trip, up to 1 day's allowance of the possession limit 
allocated to limited access vessels, as established by the Regional 
Administrator in accordance with Sec.  648.60(d), provided the observer 
set-aside specified in Sec.  648.60(d)(1) has not been fully utilized. 
For example, if the limited access vessel daily possession limit to 
defray the cost of an observer is 180 lb (82 kg), the LAGC IFQ 
possession limit to defray the cost of an observer would be 180 lb (82 
kg) per trip, regardless of trip length.
0
7. In Sec.  648.53, paragraph (b)(5) is removed and reserved and 
paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (b)(4), (c), (g), (h)(3)(i)(B), and (h)(5) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.53  Acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits 
(ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), DAS allocations, and individual 
fishing quotas (IFQ).

    (a) Scallop fishery ABC. The ABC for the scallop fishery shall be 
established through the framework adjustment process specified in Sec.  
648.55 and is equal to the overall scallop fishery ACL. The ABC/ACL 
shall be divided as sub-ACLs between limited access vessels, limited 
access vessels that are fishing under a LAGC permit, and LAGC vessels 
as specified in paragraphs (a)(3) and (a)(4) of this section, after 
deducting the scallop incidental catch target TAC specified in 
paragraph (a)(2) of this section, observer set-aside specified in 
paragraph (g)(1) of this section, and research set-aside specified in 
Sec.  648.56(d). The ABC/ACL for the 2014 fishing year is subject to 
change through a future framework adjustment.
    (1) ABC/ACL for fishing years 2013 through 2014 shall be:
    (i) 2013: 21,004 mt (46,305,894 lb).
    (ii) 2014: 23,697 mt (52,242,942 lb).
    (iii) [Reserved]
    (2) Scallop incidental catch target TAC. The annual incidental 
catch target TAC for vessels with incidental catch scallop permits is 
50,000 lb (22.7 mt).
    (3) Limited access fleet sub-ACL and ACT. The limited access 
scallop fishery shall be allocated 94.5 percent of the ACL specified in 
paragraph (a)(1) of this section, after deducting incidental catch, 
observer set-aside, and research set-aside, as specified in this 
paragraph (a). ACT for the limited access scallop fishery shall be 
established through the framework adjustment process described in Sec.  
648.55. DAS specified in paragraph (b) of this section shall be based 
on the ACTs specified in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section. The 
limited access fleet sub-ACL and ACT for the 2014 fishing year are 
subject to change through a future framework adjustment.
    (i) The limited access fishery sub-ACLs for fishing years 2013 and 
2014 are:
    (A) 2013: 19,093 mt (42,092,979 lb).
    (B) 2014: 21,612 mt (47,647,385 lb).
    (C) [Reserved]
    (ii) The limited access fishery ACTs for fishing years 2013 and 
2014 are:
    (A) 2013: 15,324 mt (33,783,637 lb).
    (B) 2014: 15,428 mt (34,012,918 lb).
    (C) [Reserved]
    (4) LAGC fleet sub-ACL. The sub-ACL for the LAGC IFQ fishery shall 
be equal to 5.5 percent of the ACL specified in paragraph (a)(1) of 
this section, after deducting incidental catch, observer set-aside, and 
research set-aside, as specified in this paragraph (a). The LAGC IFQ 
fishery ACT shall be equal to the LAGC IFQ fishery's ACL. The ACL for 
the LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued only a LAGC IFQ scallop permit 
shall be equal to 5 percent of the ACL specified in paragraph (a)(1) of 
this section, after deducting incidental catch, observer set-aside, and 
research set-aside, as specified in this paragraph (a). The ACL for the 
LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued only both a LAGC IFQ scallop permit 
and a limited access scallop permit shall be 0.5 percent of the ACL 
specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, after deducting 
incidental catch, observer set-aside, and research set-aside, as 
specified in this paragraph (a).
    (i) The ACLs for fishing years 2013 and 2014 for LAGC IFQ vessels 
without a limited access scallop permit are:
    (A) 2013: 1,010 mt (2,227,142 lb).
    (B) 2014: 1,144 mt (2,521,026 lb).
    (C) [Reserved]
    (ii) The ACLs for fishing years 2013 and 2014 for vessels issued 
both a LAGC and a limited access scallop permits are:
    (A) 2013: 101 mt (222,714 lb).
    (B) 2014: 114 mt (252,103 lb).
    (C) [Reserved]
    (b) * * *
    (1) Landings per unit effort (LPUE). LPUE is an estimate of the 
average amount of scallops, in pounds, that the limited access scallop 
fleet lands per DAS fished. The estimated LPUE is the average LPUE for 
all limited access scallop vessels fishing under DAS, and shall be used 
to calculate DAS specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the DAS 
reduction for the AM specified in paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section, 
and the observer set-aside DAS allocation specified in paragraph (g)(1) 
of this section. LPUE shall be:
    (i) 2013 fishing year: 2,550 lb/DAS (1,157 kg/DAS).
    (ii) 2014 fishing year: 2,600 lb/DAS (1,179 kg/DAS).
    (iii) [Reserved]
* * * * *
    (4) Each vessel qualifying for one of the three DAS categories 
specified in the table in this paragraph (b)(4) (full-time, part-time, 
or occasional) shall be allocated the maximum number of DAS for each 
fishing year it may participate in the open area limited access scallop 
fishery, according to its category, excluding carryover DAS in 
accordance with paragraph (d) of this section. DAS allocations shall be 
determined by distributing the portion of ACT specified in paragraph 
(a)(3)(ii) of this section, as reduced by access area allocations 
specified in Sec.  648.59, and dividing that amount among vessels in 
the form of DAS calculated by applying estimates of open area LPUE 
specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. Allocation for part-time 
and occasional scallop vessels shall be 40 percent and 8.33 percent of 
the full-time DAS allocations, respectively. The annual open area DAS 
allocations for each category of vessel for the fishing years indicated 
are as follows:

                    Scallop Open Area DAS Allocations
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Permit category                      2013      2014
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Full-Time...........................................        33        26
Part-Time...........................................        13         9
Occasional..........................................         3         2
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (i) [Reserved]
    (ii) Accountability measures (AM). Unless the limited access AM 
exception is implemented in accordance with the provision specified in 
paragraph (b)(4)(iii) of this section, if the ACL specified in 
paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section is exceeded for the applicable 
fishing year, the DAS specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section for 
each limited access vessel shall be reduced by an amount equal to the 
amount of landings in excess of the ACL divided by the applicable LPUE 
for the fishing year in which the AM will apply as specified in 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section, then divided by the number of scallop 
vessels eligible to be issued a full-time limited access scallop 
permit. For example, assuming a 300,000-lb (136-mt) overage of the ACL 
in 2011, an

[[Page 16590]]

open area LPUE of 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) per DAS in 2012, and 313 full-time 
vessels, each full-time vessel's DAS would be reduced by 0.38 DAS 
(300,000 lb (136 mt)/2,500 lb (1.13 mt) per DAS = 120 lb (0.05 mt) per 
DAS/313 vessels = 0.38 DAS per vessel). Deductions in DAS for part-time 
and occasional scallop vessels shall be 40 percent and 8.33 percent of 
the full-time DAS deduction, respectively, as calculated pursuant to 
this paragraph (b)(4)(ii). The AM shall take effect in the fishing year 
following the fishing year in which the overage occurred. For example, 
landings in excess of the ACL in fishing year 2011 would result in the 
DAS reduction AM in fishing year 2012. If the AM takes effect, and a 
limited access vessel uses more open area DAS in the fishing year in 
which the AM is applied, the vessel shall have the DAS used in excess 
of the allocation after applying the AM deducted from its open area DAS 
allocation in the subsequent fishing year. For example, a vessel 
initially allocated 32 DAS in 2011 uses all 32 DAS prior to application 
of the AM. If, after application of the AM, the vessel's DAS allocation 
is reduced to 31 DAS, the vessel's DAS in 2012 would be reduced by 1 
DAS.
    (iii) Limited access AM exception--If NMFS determines, in 
accordance with paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section, that the fishing 
mortality rate associated with the limited access fleet's landings in a 
fishing year is less than 0.28, the AM specified in paragraph 
(b)(4)(ii) of this section shall not take effect. The fishing mortality 
rate of 0.28 is the fishing mortality rate that is one standard 
deviation below the fishing mortality rate for the scallop fishery ACL, 
currently estimated at 0.32.
    (iv) Limited access fleet AM and exception provision timing. The 
Regional Administrator shall determine whether the limited access fleet 
exceeded its ACL specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section by 
July of the fishing year following the year for which landings are 
being evaluated. On or about July 1, the Regional Administrator shall 
notify the New England Fishery Management Council (Council) of the 
determination of whether or not the ACL for the limited access fleet 
was exceeded, and the amount of landings in excess of the ACL. Upon 
this notification, the Scallop Plan Development Team (PDT) shall 
evaluate the overage and determine if the fishing mortality rate 
associated with total landings by the limited access scallop fleet is 
less than 0.28. On or about September 1 of each year, the Scallop PDT 
shall notify the Council of its determination, and the Council, on or 
about September 30, shall make a recommendation, based on the Scallop 
PDT findings, concerning whether to invoke the limited access AM 
exception. If NMFS concurs with the Scallop PDT's recommendation to 
invoke the limited access AM exception, in accordance with the APA, the 
limited access AM shall not be implemented. If NMFS does not concur, in 
accordance with the APA, the limited access AM shall be implemented as 
soon as possible after September 30 each year.
* * * * *
    (c) Adjustments in annual DAS allocations. Annual DAS allocations 
shall be established for up to 3 fishing years through biennial 
framework adjustments as specified in Sec.  648.55. If a biennial 
framework action is not undertaken by the Council and implemented by 
NMFS before the beginning of the third year of each biennial 
adjustment, the third-year measures specified in the biennial framework 
adjustment shall remain in effect for the next fishing year. If a new 
biennial or other framework adjustment is not implemented by NMFS by 
the conclusion of the third year, the management measures from that 
third year would remain in place until a new action is implemented. The 
Council may also recommend adjustments to DAS allocations or other 
measures through a framework adjustment at any time.
* * * * *
    (g) Set-asides for observer coverage. (1) To help defray the cost 
of carrying an observer, 1 percent of the ABC/ACL specified in 
paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall be set aside to be used by 
vessels that are assigned to take an at-sea observer on a trip. The 
total TAC for observer set aside is 210 mt (463,054 lb) in fishing year 
2013, and 237 mt (522,429 lb) in fishing year 2014.
    (2) At the start of each scallop fishing year, the observer set-
aside specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section initially shall be 
divided proportionally by access and open areas, based on the amount of 
effort allocated into each area, in order to set the compensation and 
coverage rates. NMFS shall monitor the observer set-aside usage and may 
transfer set-aside from one area to another if one area is using more 
or less set-aside than originally anticipated. The set-aside may be 
transferred from one area to another, based on NMFS in-house area-level 
monitoring that determines whether one area will likely have excess 
set-aside while another may not. The set-aside shall be considered 
completely harvested when the full one percent is landed, at which 
point there would be no more compensation for any observed scallop 
trip, regardless of area. NMFS shall continue to proactively adjust 
compensation rates and/or observer coverage levels mid-year in order to 
minimize the chance that the set-aside would be harvested prior to the 
end of the FY. Utilization of the set-aside shall be on a first-come, 
first-served basis. When the set-aside for observer coverage has been 
utilized, vessel owners shall be notified that no additional scallop 
catch or DAS remain available to offset the cost of carrying observers. 
The obligation to carry and pay for an observer shall not be waived if 
set-aside is not available.
    (3) DAS set-aside for observer coverage. A limited access scallop 
vessel carrying an observer in open areas shall be compensated with 
reduced DAS accrual rates for each trip on which the vessel carries an 
observer. For each DAS that a vessel fishes for scallops with an 
observer on board, the DAS shall be charged at a reduced rate, based on 
an adjustment factor determined by the Regional Administrator on an 
annual basis, dependent on the cost of observers, catch rates, and 
amount of available set-aside. The Regional Administrator shall notify 
vessel owners of the cost of observers and the DAS adjustment factor 
through a permit holder letter issued prior to the start of each 
fishing year. This DAS adjustment factor may also be changed during the 
fishing year if fishery conditions warrant such a change. The number of 
DAS that are deducted from each trip based on the adjustment factor 
shall be deducted from the observer set-aside amount in the applicable 
fishing year.
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) A vessel may be initially issued more than 2.5 percent of the 
ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph 
(a)(4)(i) of this section, if the initial determination of its 
contribution factor specified in accordance with Sec.  
648.4(a)(2)(ii)(E) and paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section, results in 
an IFQ that exceeds 2.5 percent of the ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop 
vessels as described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section. A vessel 
that is allocated an IFQ that exceeds 2.5 percent of the ACL allocated 
to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this 
section, in accordance with this paragraph (h)(3)(i)(B), may not 
receive IFQ through an IFQ transfer, as specified in paragraph (h)(5) 
of this section. All

[[Page 16591]]

scallops that have been allocated as part of the original IFQ 
allocation or transferred to a vessel during a given fishing year shall 
be counted towards the vessel cap.
* * * * *
    (5) Transferring IFQ --(i) Temporary IFQ transfers. Subject to the 
restrictions in paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section, the owner of an 
IFQ scallop vessel not issued a limited access scallop permit may 
temporarily transfer its entire IFQ allocation, or a portion of its IFQ 
allocation, to another IFQ scallop vessel. Temporary IFQ transfers 
shall be effective only for the fishing year in which the temporary 
transfer is requested and processed. For the remainder of the 2013 
fishing year, IFQ can be transferred only once during a given fishing 
year. Beginning on March 1, 2014, IFQ can be transferred more than once 
(i.e., sub-transferred). Temporary IFQ transfers must be in the amount 
of at least 100 lb (45 kg), or the entire allocation may be transferred 
to another vessel. If a vessel has previously transferred a portion of 
its IFQ and the remaining allocation is less than 100 lb (45 kg), the 
remaining IFQ may be transferred in full to another vessel. The 
Regional Administrator has final approval authority for all temporary 
IFQ transfer requests.
    (ii) Permanent IFQ transfers. Subject to the restrictions in 
paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section, the owner of an IFQ scallop 
vessel not issued a limited access scallop permit may transfer IFQ 
permanently to or from another IFQ scallop vessel. Any such transfer 
cannot be limited in duration and is permanent, unless the IFQ is 
subsequently transferred to another IFQ scallop vessel, other than the 
originating IFQ scallop vessel, in a subsequent fishing year or, 
beginning on March 1, 2014, in the same fishing year as the initial 
permanent transfer. If a vessel owner permanently transfers the 
vessel's entire IFQ to another IFQ vessel, the LAGC IFQ scallop permit 
shall remain valid on the transferring vessel, unless the owner of the 
transferring vessel cancels the IFQ scallop permit. Such cancellation 
shall be considered voluntary relinquishment of the IFQ permit, and the 
vessel shall be ineligible for an IFQ scallop permit unless it replaces 
another vessel that was issued an IFQ scallop permit. The Regional 
Administrator has final approval authority for all IFQ transfer 
requests.
    (iii) IFQ transfer restrictions. The owner of an IFQ scallop vessel 
not issued a limited access scallop permit may transfer that vessel's 
IFQ to another IFQ scallop vessel, regardless of whether or not the 
vessel has fished under its IFQ in the same fishing year. Requests for 
IFQ transfers cannot be less than 100 lb (46.4 kg), unless that value 
reflects the total IFQ amount remaining on the transferor's vessel, or 
the entire IFQ allocation. For the remainder of the 2013 fishing year, 
a vessel owner can complete several transfers of portions of his/her 
vessel's IFQ during the fishing year, but cannot complete a temporary 
transfer of a portion of its IFQ then request to either temporarily or 
permanently transfer the entire IFQ in the same fishing year. Beginning 
on March 1, 2014, a vessel's total IFQ allocation can be transferred 
more than once (i.e., sub-leased) during a given fishing year. A 
transfer of an IFQ may not result in the sum of the IFQs on the 
receiving vessel exceeding 2.5 percent of the ACL allocated to IFQ 
scallop vessels. A transfer of an IFQ, whether temporary or permanent, 
may not result in the transferee having a total ownership of, or 
interest in, general category scallop allocation that exceeds 5 percent 
of the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels. Limited access scallop 
vessels that are also issued an IFQ scallop permit may not transfer to 
or receive IFQ from another IFQ scallop vessel.
    (iv) Application for an IFQ transfer. The owners of vessels 
applying for a transfer of IFQ must submit a completed application form 
obtained from the Regional Administrator. The application must be 
signed by both parties (transferor and transferee) involved in the 
transfer of the IFQ, and must be submitted to the NMFS Northeast 
Regional Office at least 30 days before the date on which the 
applicants desire to have the IFQ effective on the receiving vessel. 
The Regional Administrator shall notify the applicants of any 
deficiency in the application pursuant to this section. Applications 
may be submitted at any time during the scallop fishing year, provided 
the vessel transferring the IFQ to another vessel has not utilized any 
of its own IFQ in that fishing year. Applications for temporary 
transfers received less than 45 days prior to the end of the fishing 
year may not be processed in time for a vessel to utilize the 
transferred IFQ, if approved, prior to the expiration of the fishing 
year.
    (A) Application information requirements. An application to 
transfer IFQ must contain at least the following information: 
Transferor's name, vessel name, permit number, and official number or 
state registration number; transferee's name, vessel name, permit 
number, and official number or state registration number; total price 
paid for purchased IFQ; signatures of transferor and transferee; and 
date the form was completed. In addition, applications to transfer IFQ 
must indicate the amount (in pounds for temporary transfers, and in 
contribution percent for permanent transfers) of the IFQ allocation 
transfer, which may not be less than 100 lb (45 kg), unless that value 
reflects the total IFQ amount remaining on the transferor's vessel or 
the entire IFQ allocation. Information obtained from the transfer 
application will be held confidential, and will be used only in 
summarized form for management of the fishery. If the applicants are 
requesting a transfer of IFQ that has already been transferred in a 
given fishing year, both parties must be up-to-date with all data 
reporting requirements (e.g., all necessary VMS catch reports, VTR, and 
dealer data must be submitted) in order for the application to be 
processed.
    (B) Approval of IFQ transfer applications. Unless an application to 
transfer IFQ is denied according to paragraph (h)(5)(iii)(C) of this 
section, the Regional Administrator shall issue confirmation of 
application approval to both parties involved in the transfer within 30 
days of receipt of an application.
    (C) Denial of transfer application. The Regional Administrator may 
reject an application to transfer IFQ for any of the following reasons: 
The application is incomplete; the transferor or transferee does not 
possess a valid limited access general category permit; the 
transferor's or transferee's vessel or IFQ scallop permit has been 
sanctioned, pursuant to a final administrative decision or settlement 
of an enforcement proceeding; the transfer will result in the 
transferee's vessel having an allocation that exceeds 2.5 percent of 
the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels; the transfer will result in 
the transferee having a total ownership of, or interest in, a general 
category scallop allocation that exceeds 5 percent of the ACL allocated 
to IFQ scallop vessels; or any other failure to meet the requirements 
of the regulations in 50 CFR part 648. Upon denial of an application to 
transfer IFQ, the Regional Administrator shall send a letter to the 
applicants describing the reason(s) for the rejection. The decision by 
the Regional Administrator is the final agency decision, and there is 
no opportunity to appeal the Regional Administrator's decision. An 
application that was denied can be resubmitted if the discrepancy(ies) 
that resulted in denial are resolved.
    (D) If an LAGC IFQ vessel transfers (i.e., temporary lease or 
permanent transfer) all of its allocation to other IFQ

[[Page 16592]]

vessels prior to Framework 24's implementation (i.e., transfers more 
than what it is allocated for fishing year 2013 pursuant to the 
implantation of Framework 24), the vessel(s) to which the scallops were 
transferred (i.e., the transferee) shall receive a pound-for-pound 
deduction in fishing year 2013 equal to the difference between the 
amount of scallops transferred and the amount allocated to the 
transferring vessel for 2013 pursuant to Framework 24. The vessel that 
transferred the scallops shall not be assessed this deduction. For 
example, Vessel A is allocated 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of scallops at the 
start of fishing year 2013, but would receive 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) of 
scallops once Framework 24 is implemented. If Vessel A transfers its 
full March 1, 2013, allocation of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) to Vessel B prior 
to Framework 24's implementation, Vessel B would lose 1,500 lb (680 kg) 
of that transfer once Framework 24 is implemented. In situations where 
a vessel leases out its IFQ to multiple vessels, the deduction of the 
difference between the original amount of scallops allocated and the 
amount allocated pursuant to Framework 24 shall begin to apply only to 
the transfer(s) that exceed the original allocation. Using the example 
above, if Vessel A first leases 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) of scallops to 
Vessel B and then leases 2,000 lb (907 kg) of scallops to Vessel C, 
only Vessel C would have to pay back IFQ in excess of Vessel A's 
ultimate fishing year 2013 allocation (i.e., Vessel C would have to 
give up 1,500 lb (680 kg) of that quota because Vessel A ultimately 
only had 500 lb (227 kg) of IFQ to lease out). If a vessel has already 
fished its leased-in quota in excess of the amount ultimately allocated 
pursuant to Framework 24, the vessel must either lease in more quota to 
make up for that overage during fishing year 2013, or the overage, 
along with any other overages incurred in fishing year 2013, shall be 
deducted from its fishing year 2014 IFQ allocation as part of the 
individual AM applied to the LAGC IFQ fleet, as specified in paragraph 
(h)(2)(vi) of this section.
0
8. In Sec.  648.54, paragraph (c) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.54  State waters exemption.

* * * * *
    (c) Gear and possession limit restrictions. Any vessel issued a 
limited access scallop permit, an LAGC NGOM, or an LAGC IFQ scallop 
permit is exempt from the minimum twine top mesh size for scallop 
dredge gear specified in Sec.  648.51(b)(2) and (b)(4)(iv) while 
fishing exclusively landward of the outer boundary of the waters of the 
State of Maine under the state waters exemption specified in paragraph 
(a)(4) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with 
paragraphs (d) through (g) of this section.
* * * * *
0
8a. In Sec.  648.58, paragraphs (a) and (b) are added to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.58  Rotational Closed Areas.

    (a) Elephant Trunk Closed Area. No vessel may fish for scallops in, 
or possess or land scallops from, the area known as the Elephant Trunk 
Closed Area. No vessel may possess scallops in the Elephant Trunk 
Closed Area, unless such vessel is only transiting the area as provided 
in paragraph (c) of this section. The Elephant Trunk Closed Area is 
defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order 
stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the 
Regional Administrator upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     Latitude          Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ETAA1.............................  38[deg]50' N       74[deg]20' W
ETAA2.............................  38[deg]10'N        74[deg]20' W
ETAA3.............................  38[deg]10' N       73[deg]30' W
ETAA4.............................  38[deg]50' N       73[deg]30' W
ETAA1.............................  38[deg]50' N       74[deg]20' W
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) Delmarva Closed Area. No vessel may fish for scallops in, or 
possess or land scallops from, the area known as the Delmarva Closed 
Area. No vessel may possess scallops in the Delmarva Closed Area, 
unless such vessel is only transiting the area as provided in paragraph 
(c) of this section. The Delmarva Closed Area is defined by straight 
lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a 
chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator 
upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     Latitude          Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
DMV1..............................  38[deg]10' N       74[deg]50' W
DMV2..............................  38[deg]10'N        74[deg]00' W
DMV3..............................  37[deg]15' N       74[deg]00' W
DMV4..............................  37[deg]15' N       74[deg]50' W
DMV1..............................  38[deg]10' N       74[deg]50' W
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
0
9. Revise Sec.  648.59 to read as follows:


Sec.  648.59  Sea Scallop Access Areas.

    (a) [Reserved].
    (b) Closed Area I Access Area--(1) From March 1, 2014, through 
February 28, 2015 (i.e., fishing year 2014), vessels issued scallop 
permits may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from, the 
area known as the Closed Area I Access Area, described in paragraph 
(b)(3) of this section, unless transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of 
this section. Vessels issued both a NE Multispecies permit and an LAGC 
scallop permit may fish in an approved SAP under Sec.  648.85 and under 
multispecies DAS in the scallop access area, provided they comply with 
restrictions in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(C) of this section.
    (2) From March 1, 2013, through February 28, 2014 (i.e., fishing 
year 2013), a vessel issued a scallop permit may fish for, possess, and 
land scallops in or from the area known as the Closed Area I Access 
Area, described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, only if the vessel 
is participating in, and complies with the requirements of, the area 
access program described in Sec.  648.60.
    (3) The Closed Area I Access Area is defined by straight lines 
connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart 
depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon 
request), and so that the line connecting points CAIA3 and CAIA4 is the 
same as the portion of the western boundary line of Closed Area I, 
defined in Sec.  648.81(a)(1), that lies between points CAIA3 and 
CAIA4:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                    Latitude            Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
CAIA1...........................  41[deg]26[min] N    68[deg]30[min] W
CAIA2...........................  40[deg]58[min] N    68[deg]30[min] W
CAIA3...........................  40[deg]54.95[min]   68[deg]53.40[min]
                                   N                   W
CAIA4...........................  41[deg]04.30[min]   69[deg]01.29[min]
                                   N                   W
CAIA1...........................  41[deg]26[min] N    68[deg]30[min] W
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (4) [Reserved]
    (5) Number of trips--(i) Limited access vessels. Based on its 
permit category, a vessel issued a limited access scallop permit may 
fish no more than the maximum number of trips in the Closed Area I 
Access Area, unless the vessel owner has made an exchange with another 
vessel owner whereby the vessel gains a Closed Area I Access Area trip 
and gives up a trip into another Sea Scallop Access Area, as specified 
in Sec.  648.60(a)(3)(ii), or unless the vessel is taking a 
compensation trip for a prior Closed Area I Access Area trip that was 
terminated early, as specified in Sec.  648.60(c). The number of trips 
allocated to limited access vessels in the Closed Area I Access Area 
shall be based on the TAC for the access area, which will be determined 
through the annual framework process and specified in paragraph 
(c)(5)(i) of this section. The number of trips allocated to limited 
access vessels in the Closed Area I Access Area shall be based on the 
TAC for the access area, which shall be determined through the annual 
framework process and specified in this paragraph (b)(5)(i). The Closed 
Area I

[[Page 16593]]

Access Area scallop TAC for limited access scallop vessels is 1,534,000 
lb (695.8 mt) in fishing year 2013. Limited access scallop vessels 
shall not receive Closed Area I Access Area trip allocations in fishing 
year 2014.
    (ii) LAGC scallop vessels. (A) The percentage of the Closed Area I 
Access Area TAC to be allocated to LAGC scallop vessels shall be 
specified through the framework adjustment process and shall determine 
the number of trips allocated to LAGC scallop vessels as specified in 
paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(B) of this section. The TAC applies to both LAGC 
IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC IFQ permits that are 
fishing under the provisions of the LAGC IFQ permit. LAGC IFQ vessels 
will be allocated 5.5 percent of the Closed Area I Access Area TAC in 
fishing year 2013. The Closed Area I Access Area is closed to LAGC IFQ 
vessels in fishing year 2014.
    (B) LAGC IFQ vessels are allocated a total of 212 trips in fishing 
year 2013 in the Closed Area I Access Area. This trip allocation is 
based on 5.5 percent of the Closed Area I Access Area TAC, and also 
includes 72 trips that have been set aside from the Closed Area II 
Access Area and evenly distributed to access areas available to LAGC 
IFQ vessels in the 2013 fishing year. No LAGC IFQ trips will be 
allocated in Closed Area I Access Area in fishing year 2014. The 
Regional Administrator shall notify all LAGC scallop vessels of the 
date when the maximum number of allowed trips for the applicable 
fishing year have been, or are projected to be, taken by providing 
notification in the Federal Register, in accordance with Sec.  
648.60(g)(4). Except as provided in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(C) of this 
section, and subject to the seasonal restrictions specified in 
paragraph (b)(4) of this section, an LAGC scallop vessel may not fish 
for, possess, or land sea scallops in or from the Closed Area I Access 
Area, or enter the Closed Area I Access Area on a declared LAGC scallop 
trip after the effective date published in the Federal Register, unless 
transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.
    (C) A vessel issued a NE Multispecies permit and a LAGC scallop 
permit that is fishing in an approved SAP under Sec.  648.85 under 
multispecies DAS may fish in the Scallop Access Areas without being 
subject to the restrictions of paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(A) of this section, 
provided that it has not enrolled in the Scallop Area Access program. 
Such vessel is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing 
scallops.
    (D) Scallops landed by each LAGC IFQ vessel on a Closed Area I 
Access Area trip shall count against that vessel's IFQ.
    (iii) Limited access vessels. Based on its permit category, a 
vessel issued a limited access scallop permit may fish no more than the 
maximum number of trips in the Closed Area I Access Area, unless the 
vessel owner has made an exchange with another vessel owner whereby the 
vessel gains a Closed Area I Access Area trip and gives up a trip into 
another Sea Scallop Access Area, as specified in Sec.  
648.60(a)(3)(ii), or unless the vessel is taking a compensation trip 
for a prior Closed Area I Access Area trip that was terminated early, 
as specified in Sec.  648.60(c).
    (c) Closed Area II Access Area.--(1) From March 1, 2014, through 
February 28, 2015 (i.e., fishing year 2014), vessels issued scallop 
permits may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from, the 
area known as the Closed Area II Access Area, described in paragraph 
(c)(3) of this section, unless transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of 
this section. Vessels issued both a NE Multispecies permit and an LAGC 
scallop permit may fish in an approved SAP under Sec.  648.85 and under 
multispecies DAS in the scallop access area, provided they comply with 
restrictions in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(C) of this section.
    (2) From March 1, 2013, through February 28, 2014 (i.e., fishing 
year 2013), subject to the seasonal restrictions specified in paragraph 
(c)(4) of this section, a vessel issued a scallop permit may fish for, 
possess, or land scallops in or from the area known as the Closed Area 
II Sea Scallop Access Area, described in paragraph (c)(3) of this 
section, only if the vessel is participating in, and complies with the 
requirements of, the area access program described in Sec.  648.60.
    (3) The Closed Area II Sea Scallop Access Area is defined by 
straight lines, except where noted, connecting the following points in 
the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available 
from the Regional Administrator upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                    Latitude            Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
CAIIA1..........................  41[deg]00[min] N.   67[deg]20[min] W.
CAIIA2..........................  41[deg]00[min] N.   66[deg]35.8[min]
                                                       W.
CAIIA3..........................  41[deg]18.6[min]    (\ 1\) (\2\)
                                   N.
CAIIA4..........................  41[deg]30[min] N.   (\3\)
CAIIA5..........................  41[deg]30[min] N.   67[deg]20[min] W.
CAIIA1..........................  41[deg]00[min] N.   67[deg]20[min] W.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The intersection of 41[deg]18.6 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime
  boundary.
\2\ From Point CAIIA3 connected to Point CAIIA4 along the U.S.-Canada
  maritime boundary.
\3\ The intersection of 41[deg]30 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime
  boundary.

    (4) Season. A vessel issued a scallop permit may not fish for, 
possess, or land scallops in or from the area known as the Closed Area 
II Sea Scallop Access Area, described in paragraph (c)(3) of this 
section, during the period of August 15 through November 15 of each 
year the Closed Area II Access Area is open to scallop vessels, unless 
transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.
    (5) Number of trips--(i) Limited access vessels. Based on its 
permit category, a vessel issued a limited access scallop permit may 
fish no more than the maximum number of trips in the Closed Area II 
Access Area, unless the vessel owner has made an exchange with another 
vessel owner whereby the vessel gains a Closed Area II Access Area trip 
and gives up a trip into another Sea Scallop Access Area, as specified 
in Sec.  648.60(a)(3)(ii), or unless the vessel is taking a 
compensation trip for a prior Closed Area II Access Area trip that was 
terminated early, as specified in Sec.  648.60(c). The number of trips 
allocated to limited access vessels in the Closed Area II Access Area 
shall be based on the TAC for the access area, which will be determined 
through the annual framework process and specified in this paragraph 
(c)(5)(i). The Closed Area II Access Area scallop TAC for limited 
access scallop vessels is 2,366,000 lb (1,073.2 mt) in fishing year 
2013. Limited access scallop vessels shall not receive Closed Area II 
Access Area trip allocations in fishing year 2014.
    (ii) LAGC scallop vessels. (A) The percentage of the total Closed 
Area II Access Area TAC to be allocated to LAGC IFQ scallop vessels 
shall be specified through the framework adjustment process and shall 
determine the number of trips allocated to IFQ LAGC scallop vessels as 
specified in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(B) of this section. The TAC applies 
to both LAGC IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC IFQ 
permits. The Closed Area II Access Area is closed to LAGC IFQ vessels 
in the 2013 fishing year.
    (B) The Regional Administrator shall notify all LAGC scallop 
vessels of the date when the maximum number of allowed trips for the 
applicable fishing year have been, or are projected to be, taken by 
providing notification in the Federal Register, in accordance with 
Sec.  648.60(g)(4). Except as provided in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(C) of 
this section, and subject to the seasonal restrictions specified in 
paragraph (c)(4) of this section, an LAGC scallop vessel may not fish 
for, possess, or land sea scallops in or from the Closed Area II Access 
Area,

[[Page 16594]]

or enter the Closed Area II Access Area on a declared LAGC scallop trip 
after the effective date published in the Federal Register unless 
transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.
    (C) A vessel issued a NE Multispecies permit and an LAGC scallop 
permit that is fishing in an approved SAP under Sec.  648.85 under 
multispecies DAS may fish in the Scallop Access Areas without being 
subject to the restrictions of paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(A) of this section, 
provided that it has not enrolled in the Scallop Area Access program. 
Such vessel is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing 
scallops.
    (D) Scallops landed by each LAGC IFQ vessel on a Closed Area II 
Access Area trip shall count against that vessel's IFQ.
    (d) Nantucket Lightship Access Area.--(1) From March 1, 2014, 
through February 28, 2015 (i.e., fishing year 2014), vessels issued 
scallop permits may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from 
the area known as the Nantucket Lightship Access Area, described in 
paragraph (d)(3) of this section, unless transiting pursuant to 
paragraph (f) of this section. Vessels issued both a NE multispecies 
permit and an LAGC scallop permit may fish in an approved SAP under 
Sec.  648.85 and under multispecies DAS in the scallop access area, 
provided they comply with restrictions in paragraph (d)(5)(ii)(C) of 
this section.
    (2) From March 1, 2013, through February 28, 2014 (i.e., fishing 
year 2013), a vessel issued a scallop permit may fish for, possess, or 
land scallops in or from the area known as the Nantucket Lightship Sea 
Scallop Access Area, described in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, 
only if the vessel is participating in, and complies with the 
requirements of, the area access program described in Sec.  648.60.
    (3) The Nantucket Lightship Sea Scallop Access Area is defined by 
straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated 
(copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional 
Administrator upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     Latitude          Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NLAA1.............................  40[deg]50[min] N   69[deg]30[min] W
NLAA2.............................  40[deg]50[min] N   69[deg]00[min] W
NLAA3.............................  40[deg]20[min] N   69[deg]00[min] W
NLAA4.............................  40[deg]20[min] N   69[deg]30[min] W
NLAA1.............................  40[deg]50[min] N   69[deg]30[min] W
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (4) [Reserved]
    (5) Number of trips--(i) Limited access vessels. Based on its 
permit category, a vessel issued a limited access scallop permit may 
fish no more than the maximum number of trips in the Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area, unless the vessel owner has made an exchange 
with another vessel owner whereby the vessel gains a Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area trip and gives up a trip into another Sea Scallop 
Access Area, as specified in Sec.  648.60(a)(3)(ii), or unless the 
vessel is taking a compensation trip for a prior Nantucket Lightship 
Access Area trip that was terminated early, as specified in Sec.  
648.60(c). The number of trips allocated to limited access vessels in 
the Nantucket Lightship Access Area shall be based on the TAC for the 
access area. The Nantucket Lightship Access Area scallop TAC for 
limited access scallop vessels is 1,508,000 lb (684.0 mt) in fishing 
year 2013. Limited access scallop vessels shall not receive Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area trip allocations in fishing year 2014.
    (ii) LAGC scallop vessels. (A) The percentage of the Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area TAC to be allocated to LAGC IFQ scallop vessels 
shall be specified through the framework adjustment process and shall 
determine the number of trips allocated to LAGC IFQ scallop vessels as 
specified in paragraph (d)(5)(ii)(B) of this section. The TAC applies 
to both LAGC IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC IFQ 
permits that are fishing under the provisions of the LAGC IFQ permit. 
LAGC IFQ vessels are allocated 5.5 percent of the Nantucket Lightship 
Access Area TAC in fishing year 2013. The Nantucket Lightship Access 
Area is closed to LAGC IFQ vessels in fishing year 2014.
    (B) LAGC scallop vessels are allocated 206 trips to the Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area in fishing year 2013. This trip allocation is 
based on 5.5 percent of the Nantucket Lightship Access Area TAC, and 
also includes 72 trips that have been set aside from the Closed Area II 
Access Area and evenly distributed to access areas available to LAGC 
IFQ vessels in the 2013 fishing year. This fleet-wide trip allocation 
applies to both LAGC IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC 
IFQ permits that are fishing under the provisions of the LAGC IFQ 
permit. The Regional Administrator shall notify all LAGC IFQ scallop 
vessels of the date when the total number of trips have been, or are 
projected to be, taken by providing notification in the Federal 
Register, in accordance with Sec.  648.60(g)(4). Except as provided in 
paragraph (d)(5)(ii)(C) of this section, an LAGC IFQ scallop vessel may 
not fish for, possess, or land sea scallops in or from the Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area, or enter the Nantucket Lightship Access Area on 
a declared LAGC IFQ scallop trip after the effective date published in 
the Federal Register, unless transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of 
this section.
    (C) A vessel issued a NE Multispecies permit and an LAGC scallop 
permit that is fishing in an approved SAP under Sec.  648.85 under 
multispecies DAS may fish in the Scallop Access Areas without being 
subject to the restrictions of paragraph (d)(5)(ii)(A) of this section, 
provided that it has not enrolled in the Scallop Area Access program. 
Such vessel is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing 
scallops.
    (D) Scallops landed by each LAGC IFQ vessel on a Nantucket 
Lightship Access Area trip shall count against that vessel's IFQ.
    (e) Hudson Canyon Sea Scallop Access Area. (1) From March 1, 2014, 
through February 28, 2015 (i.e., fishing year 2014), vessels issued 
scallop permits may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from 
the area known as the Hudson Canyon Access Area, described in paragraph 
(e)(3) of this section, unless transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of 
this section.
    (2) From March 1, 2013, through February 28, 2014 (i.e., fishing 
year 2013), a vessel issued a scallop permit may fish for, possess, or 
land scallops in or from the area known as the Hudson Canyon Sea 
Scallop Access Area, described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, 
only if the vessel is participating in, and complies with the 
requirements of, the area access program described in Sec.  648.60.
    (3) The Hudson Canyon Sea Scallop Access Area is defined by 
straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated 
(copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional 
Administrator upon request):

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     Latitude          Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
H1................................  39[deg]30[min] N   73[deg]10[min] W
H2................................  39[deg]30[min] N   72[deg]30[min] W
H3................................  38[deg]30[min] N   73[deg]30[min] W
H4................................  38[deg]50[min] N   73[deg]30[min] W
H5................................  38[deg]50[min] N   73[deg]42[min] W
H1................................  39[deg]30[min] N   73[deg]10[min] W
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (4) Number of trips--(i) Limited access vessels. Based on its 
permit category, a vessel issued a limited access scallop permit may 
fish no more than the maximum number of trips in the Hudson Canyon Sea 
Scallop Access Area, unless the vessel owner has made an exchange with 
another vessel owner whereby the vessel gains a Hudson Canyon Sea 
Scallop Access Area trip and gives up a trip into another Sea Scallop 
Access Area, as specified in Sec.  648.60(a)(3)(ii), or unless the 
vessel is

[[Page 16595]]

taking a compensation trip for a prior Hudson Canyon Access Area trip 
that was terminated early, as specified in Sec.  648.60(c). The Hudson 
Canyon Access Area scallop TAC for limited access scallop vessels is 
2,730,000 lb (1,238.3 mt) in fishing year 2013. Limited access scallop 
vessels shall not receive Hudson Canyon Access Area trip allocations in 
fishing year 2014.
    (ii) LAGC IFQ scallop vessels.--(A) The percentage of the Hudson 
Canyon Access Area TAC to be allocated to LAGC scallop vessels shall be 
specified through the framework adjustment process and shall determine 
the number of trips allocated to LAGC IFQ scallop vessels as specified 
in paragraph (e)(4)(ii)(B) of this section. The TAC applies to both 
LAGC IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC IFQ permits that 
are fishing under the provisions of the LAGC IFQ permit. LAGC IFQ 
vessels shall be allocated 5.5 percent of the Hudson Canyon Access Area 
TAC in fishing year 2013. The Hudson Canyon Access Area is closed to 
LAGC IFQ vessels in fishing year 2014.
    (B) LAGC IFQ vessels are allocated a total of 317 trips in the 
Hudson Canyon Access Area in fishing year 2013. This trip allocation is 
based on 5.5 percent of the Hudson Canyon Access Area TAC, and also 
includes 72 trips that have been set aside from the Closed Area II 
Access Area and evenly distributed to access areas available to LAGC 
IFQ vessels in the 2013 fishing year. This fleet-wide trip allocation 
applies to both LAGC IFQ vessels and limited access vessels with LAGC 
IFQ permits that are fishing under the provisions of the LAGC IFQ 
permit. The Regional Administrator shall notify all LAGC IFQ scallop 
vessels of the date when the maximum number of allowed trips have been, 
or are projected to be taken by providing notification in the Federal 
Register, in accordance with Sec.  648.60(g)(4). An LAGC IFQ scallop 
vessel may not fish for, possess, or land sea scallops in or from the 
Hudson Canyon Access Area, or enter the Hudson Canyon Access Area on a 
declared LAGC IFQ scallop trip after the effective date published in 
the Federal Register, unless transiting pursuant to paragraph (f) of 
this section.
    (C) Scallops landed by each LAGC IFQ vessel on a Hudson Canyon 
Access Area trip shall count against that vessel's IFQ.
    (f) Transiting. A sea scallop vessel that has not declared a trip 
into the Sea Scallop Area Access Program may enter the Sea Scallop 
Access Areas described in paragraphs (a), (b), (d), and (e), of this 
section, and possess scallops not caught in the Sea Scallop Access 
Areas, for transiting purposes only, provided the vessel's fishing gear 
is stowed in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b). A scallop vessel that has 
declared a trip into the Sea Scallop Area Access Program may transit a 
Scallop Access Area while steaming to or from another Scallop Access 
Area, provided the vessel's fishing gear is stowed in accordance with 
Sec.  648.23(b), or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such 
areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the 
Closed Area II Access Area, as described in paragraph (c) of this 
section, if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the area 
and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed in accordance with Sec.  
648.23(b).
0
10. In Sec.  648.60, paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A), (a)(4)(i), 
(c)(5)(ii)(A), and (e)(3) are removed and reserved and paragraphs 
(a)(3)(i), (a)(5)(i), (d), (e)(1), and (g)(4)(ii) are revised to read 
as follows:


Sec.  648.60  Sea scallop area access program requirements.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) Limited access vessel trips. (A) Except as provided in 
paragraph (c) of this section, paragraphs (a)(3)(i)(B) through (E) of 
this section specify the total number of trips that a limited access 
scallop vessel may take into Sea Scallop Access Areas during applicable 
seasons specified in Sec.  648.59. The number of trips per vessel in 
any one Sea Scallop Access Area may not exceed the maximum number of 
trips allocated for such Sea Scallop Access Area as specified in Sec.  
648.59, unless the vessel owner has exchanged a trip with another 
vessel owner for an additional Sea Scallop Access Area trip, as 
specified in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section, or has been 
allocated a compensation trip pursuant to paragraph (c) of this 
section. No access area trips are allocated for fishing year 2014.
    (B) Full-time scallop vessels. In fishing year 2013, each full-time 
vessel shall have a total of two access area trips in two of the 
following areas: Hudson Canyon Access Area, Closed Area I Access Area, 
Closed Area II Access Area, and Nantucket Lightship Access Area. These 
allocations shall be determined by the Regional Administrator through a 
random assignment and shall be made publically available on the NMFS 
Northeast Region Web site prior to the start of the 2013 fishing year. 
If, prior to the implementation of Framework 24, a full-time vessel 
lands more scallops from the Hudson Canyon Access Area than ultimately 
allocated for fishing year 2013, that vessel is not eligible to take 
any additional access area trips in fishing year 2013 and NMFS shall 
deduct 12 open area DAS in fishing year 2013 from that vessel's 
allocation.
    (C) Part-time scallop vessels. (1) For the 2013 fishing year, a 
part-time scallop vessel is allocated two trips that may be distributed 
between access areas as follows: One trip in the Closed Area I Access 
Area and one trip in the Closed Area II Access Area; one trip in the 
Closed Area I Access Area and one trip in the Hudson Canyon Access 
Area; one trip in the Closed Area I Access Area and one trip in the 
Nantucket Lightship Access Area; one trip in the Closed Area II Access 
Area and one trip in the Hudson Canyon Access Area; one trip in the 
Closed Area II Access Area and one trip in the Nantucket Lightship 
Access Area; or one trip in the Hudson Canyon Access Area and one trip 
in the Nantucket Lightship Access Area.
    (i) If, prior to the implementation of Framework 24, a part-time 
vessel lands more scallops from the Hudson Canyon Access Area than 
ultimately allocated for fishing year 2013, NMFS shall deduct five open 
area DAS in fishing year 2013 from that vessel's allocation.
    (ii) [Reserved].
    (2) For the 2014 fishing year, part-time scallop vessels shall not 
receive access area trip allocations.
    (D) Occasional scallop vessels. For the 2013 fishing year, an 
occasional scallop vessel may take one trip in the Closed Area I Access 
Area, or one trip in the Closed Area II Access Area, or one trip in the 
Nantucket Lightship Access Area, or one trip in the Hudson Canyon 
Access Area. If, prior to the implementation of Framework 24, an 
occasional vessel lands more scallops from the Hudson Canyon Access 
Area than ultimately allocated for fishing year 2013, NMFS shall deduct 
one open area DAS in fishing year 2013 from that vessel's allocation.
* * * * *
    (5) * * *
    (i) Scallop possession limits. Unless authorized by the Regional 
Administrator, as specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section, 
after declaring a trip into a Sea Scallop Access Area, a vessel owner 
or operator of a limited access scallop vessel may fish for, possess, 
and land, per trip, scallops, up to the maximum amounts specified in 
the table in this paragraph (a)(5). No vessel declared into the Access 
Areas as described in Sec.  648.59(a) through (e) may possess more than 
50 bu (17.62 hL) of in-shell scallops outside of the Access Areas 
described in Sec.  648.59(a) through (e).

[[Page 16596]]



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Permit category possession limit
           Fishing year           ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Full-time                Part-time                 Occasional
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2013.............................  13,000 lb (5,897 kg)...  10,400 lb (4,717 kg)..  2,080 lb (943 kg)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    (d) Increase in possession limit to defray costs of observers--The 
Regional Administrator may increase the sea scallop possession limit 
specified in paragraph (a)(5) of this section to defray costs of at-sea 
observers deployed on area access trips subject to the limits specified 
Sec.  648.53(g). An owner of a scallop vessel shall be notified of the 
increase in the possession limit through a permit holder letter issued 
by the Regional Administrator. If the observer set-aside is fully 
utilized prior to the end of the fishing year, the Regional 
Administrator shall notify owners of scallop vessels that, effective on 
a specified date, the increase in the possession limit is no longer 
available to offset the cost of observers. Unless otherwise notified by 
the Regional Administrator, vessel owners shall be responsible for 
paying the cost of the observer, regardless of whether the vessel lands 
or sells sea scallops on that trip, and regardless of the availability 
of set-aside for an increased possession limit.
    (e) * * *
    (1) Access Areas available for harvest of research set-aside (RSA). 
RSA may be harvested in any access area that is open in a given fishing 
year, as specified through a framework adjustment and pursuant to Sec.  
648.56. The amount of pounds that can be harvested in each access area 
by vessels participating in approved RSA projects shall be determined 
through the RSA application review and approval process. The access 
areas open for RSA harvest for fishing years 2013 and 2014 are:
    (i) 2013: Hudson Canyon Access Area, Nantucket Lightship Access 
Area, Closed Area I Access Area, and Closed Area II Access Area.
    (ii) 2014: None.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (ii) Other species. Unless issued an LAGC scallop permit and 
fishing under an approved NE multispecies SAP under NE multispecies 
DAS, an LAGC IFQ vessel fishing in the Access Areas specified in Sec.  
648.59(b) through (d) is prohibited from possessing any species of fish 
other than scallops and monkfish, as specified in Sec.  
648.94(c)(8)(i).
* * * * *
0
12. In Sec.  648.61, paragraphs (a)(1) and (5) are revised to read as 
follows.


Sec.  648.61  EFH closed areas.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Western GOM Habitat Closure Area. The restrictions specified in 
this paragraph (a) apply to the Western GOM Habitat Closure Area, which 
is the area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points 
in the order stated:

                    Western GOM Habitat Closure Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
WGM1..............................  43[deg]15'         70[deg]15'
WGM2..............................  42[deg]15'         70[deg]15'
WGM3..............................  42[deg]15'         70[deg]00'
WGM4..............................  43[deg]15'         70[deg]00'
WGM1..............................  43[deg]15'         70[deg]15'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    (5) Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area. The restrictions specified 
in this paragraph (a) apply to the Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area 
(also referred to as the Habitat Area of Particular Concern), which is 
the area bounded by straight lines, except where noted, connecting the 
following points in the order stated:

                   Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                       N. Lat.            W. Long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
CIIH1............................  42[deg]10'..........  67[deg]20'
CIIH2............................  42[deg]10'..........  (\1\) (\2\)
CIIH3............................  42[deg]00'..........  (\3\)
CIIH4............................  42[deg]00'..........  67[deg]10'
CIIH5............................  41[deg]50'..........  67[deg]10'
CIIH6............................  41[deg]50'..........  67[deg]20'
CIIH1............................  42[deg]10'..........  67[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The intersection of 42[deg]10 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime
  boundary.
\2\ From Point CAIIA3 connected to Point CAIIA4 along the U.S.-Canada
  maritime boundary.
\3\ The intersection of 42[deg]00 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime
  boundary.

* * * * *
0
13. In Sec.  648.62, paragraph (b)(1) is revised to read as follows.


Sec.  648.62  Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) NGOM annual hard TACs. The annual hard TAC for the NGOM is 
70,000 lb (31.8 mt) for the 2013 and 2014 fishing years.
* * * * *
0
14. In Sec.  648.64, paragraph (d) is removed and reserved, and 
paragraphs (a), (b)(1), (c), and (e) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.64  Yellowtail flounder sub-ACLs and AMs for the scallop 
fishery.

    (a) As specified in Sec.  648.55(d), and pursuant to the biennial 
framework adjustment process specified in Sec.  648.90, the scallop 
fishery shall be allocated a sub-ACL for the Georges Bank and Southern 
New England/Mid-Atlantic stocks of yellowtail flounder. The sub-ACLs 
for the 2013 fishing year are specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(4)(iii)(C) 
of the NE multispecies regulations.
    (b) * * *
    (1) Unless otherwise specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE 
multispecies regulations, if the Georges Bank yellowtail flounder sub-
ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded, the area defined by the 
following coordinates, bounded in the order stated by straight lines 
except where noted, shall be closed to scallop fishing by vessels 
issued a limited access scallop permit for the period of time specified 
in paragraph (b)(2) of this section:

         Georges Bank Yellowtail Accountability Measure Closure
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
GBYT AM 1.........................  41[deg]50'          (\1\) (\2\)
GBYT AM 2.........................  40[deg]30.75'       (\3\)
GBYT AM 3.........................  40[deg]30'         66[deg]40'
GBYT AM 4.........................  40[deg]40'         66[deg]40'
GBYT AM 5.........................  40[deg]40'         66[deg]50'
GBYT AM 6.........................  40[deg]50'         66[deg]50'
GBYT AM 7.........................  40[deg]50'         67[deg]00'
GBYT AM 8.........................  41[deg]00'         67[deg]00'
GBYT AM 9.........................  41[deg]00'         67[deg]20'
GBYT AM 10........................  41[deg]10'         67[deg]20'
GBYT AM 11........................  41[deg]10'         67[deg]40'
GBYT AM 12........................  41[deg]50'         67[deg]40'
GBYT AM 1.........................  41[deg]50'         66[deg]51.94'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The intersection of 41[deg]50 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime
  boundary.
\2\ From Point CAIIA3 connected to Point CAIIA4 along the U.S.-Canada
  maritime boundary.
\3\ The intersection of 41[deg]30.75 N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada
  maritime boundary.

* * * * *
    (c) Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic accountability measures. (1) 
Limited access scallop vessels. --(i) Unless otherwise specified in 
Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE multispecies regulations, if the 
Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail

[[Page 16597]]

flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded, the area defined 
by the following coordinates, bounded in the order stated by straight 
lines except where noted, shall be closed to scallop fishing by vessels 
issued a limited access scallop permit for the period of time specified 
in paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section. The Southern New England 
Yellowtail Accountability Measure Closure Area for Limited Access 
Scallop Vessels is comprised of Northeast Region Statistical Areas 
537, 539 and 613, and is defined by the 
following coordinates, connected in the order listed by straight lines, 
unless otherwise noted:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                       N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LA SNEYT AM 1....................  (\1\)                 73[deg]00'
LA SNEYT AM 2....................  40[deg]00'            73[deg]00'
LA SNEYT AM 3....................  40[deg]00'            71[deg]40'
LA SNEYT AM 4....................  39[deg]50'            71[deg]40'
LA SNEYT AM 5....................  39[deg]50'            70[deg]00'
LA SNEYT AM 6....................  (\2\) (\3\)           70[deg]00'
LA SNEYT AM 7 \4\................  41[deg]16.76'         70[deg]13.47'
LA SNEYT AM 8 \5\................  41[deg]18.01'         70[deg]15.47'
LA SNEYT AM 9 \6\................  41[deg]20.26'         70[deg]18.30'
LA SNEYT AM 10 \7\...............  41[deg]21.09' \8\     70[deg]27.03'
LA SNEYT AM 11...................  41[deg]20'            (\9\)
LA SNEYT AM 12...................  41[deg]20'            71[deg]10'
LA SNEYT AM 13...................  (\10\) (\11\)         71[deg]10'
LA SNEYT AM 14...................  (\12\)                71[deg]40'
LA SNEYT AM 15...................  41[deg]00'            71[deg]40'
LA SNEYT AM 16...................  41[deg]00' \13\       (\14\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The south facing mainland coastline of Long Island.
\2\ The southern coastline of Nantucket.
\3\ From Point F to Point G along the southern coastline of Nantucket.
\4\ Point G represents Esther Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
\5\ Point H represents Tuckernuck Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
\6\ Point I represents Muskeget Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
\7\ Point J represents Wasque Point, Chappaquiddick Island,
  Massachusetts.
\8\ From Point J to Point K along the southern coastline of Martha's
  Vineyard.
\9\ The western coastline of Martha's Vineyard.
\10\ The southern coastline of Rhode Island.
\11\ From Point M to Point B following the mainland coastline of Rhode
  Island.
\12\ The southern coastline of Rhode Island.
\13\ From Point P back to Point A along the southern mainland coastline
  of Long Island.
\14\ Southeast facing coastline of Long Island.

    (ii) Duration of closure. The Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
yellowtail flounder accountability measure closed area for limited 
access vessels shall remain closed for the period of time, not to 
exceed 1 fishing year, as specified for the corresponding percent 
overage of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder 
sub-ACL, as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Percent overage of YTF sub-ACL                                 Length of closure
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 or less..........................  March through April.
2.1-3..............................  March through April, and February.
3.1-7..............................  March through May, and February.
7.1-9..............................  March through May and January through February.
9.1-12.............................  March through May and December through February.
12.1-15............................  March through June and December through February.
15.1-16............................  March through June and November through February.
16.1-18............................  March through July and November through February.
18.1-19............................  March through August and October through February.
19.1 or more.......................  March through February.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     (2) Limited access general category IFQ scallop vessels using 
dredges.--(i) Unless otherwise specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(iv) of 
the NE multispecies regulations, if the Southern New England/Mid-
Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is 
exceeded, and the criteria in paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section are 
met, the Southern New England Yellowtail Accountability Measure Closure 
Areas described in paragraphs (c)(2)(ii) through (iv) shall be closed 
to scallop fishing by vessels issued an LAGC IFQ scallop permit and 
using dredges for the period of time specified in paragraph (c)(2)(v) 
of this section.
    (ii) Closure Area 1 is comprised of Northeast Region Statistical 
Area 537, and is defined by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 A...........  41[deg]20'         (\1\)
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 B...........  41[deg]20'         71[deg]10'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 C...........  41[deg]10'         71[deg]10'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 D...........  41[deg]10'         71[deg]20'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 E...........  40[deg]50'         71[deg]20'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 F...........  40[deg]50'         71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 G...........  39[deg]50'         71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 H...........  39[deg]50'         70[deg]00'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 I...........  (\2\) (\3\)        70[deg]00'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 J \4\.......  41[deg]16.76'      70[deg]13.47'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 K \5\.......  41[deg]18.01'      70[deg]15.47'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 L \6\.......  41[deg]20.26'      70[deg]18.30'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM1 M \7\.......  41[deg]21.09' \8\  70[deg]27.03'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The western coastline of Martha's Vineyard.
\2\ The southern coastline of Nantucket.
\3\ From Point I to Point J along the southern coastline of Nantucket.
\4\ Point J represents Esther Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
\5\ Point K represents Tuckernuck Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.

[[Page 16598]]

 
\6\ Point L represents Muskeget Island, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
\7\ Point M represents Wasque Point, Chappaquiddick Island,
  Massachusetts.
\8\ From Point M back to Point A along the southern coastline of
  Martha's Vineyard.

    (iii) Closure Area 2 is comprised of Northeast Region Statistical 
Area 613, and is defined by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                      N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM2 A..........  (\1\)               73[deg]00'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM2 B..........  40[deg]00'          73[deg]00'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM2 C..........  40[deg]00'          71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM2 D..........  41[deg]00'          71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM2 E..........  41[deg]00' \2\      (\3\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The south facing mainland coastline of Long Island.
\2\ Southeast facing coastline of Long Island.
\3\ From Point E back to Point A along the southern mainland coastline
  of Long Island.

    (iv) Closure Area 3 is comprised of Northeast Region Statistical 
Area 539, and is defined by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Point                      N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 A..........  (\1\)               71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 B..........  40[deg]50' N        71[deg]40'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 C..........  40[deg]50' N        71[deg]20'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 D..........  41[deg]10' N        71[deg]20'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 E..........  41[deg]10' N        71[deg]10'
LAGC Dredge SNEYT AM3 F..........  (\1\) (\2\)         71[deg]10'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The southern coastline of Rhode Island.
\2\ From Point F back to Point A following the southern mainland
  coastline of Rhode Island.

    (v) Duration of closure. The Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
yellowtail flounder accountability measure closure areas for LAGC IFQ 
vessels using dredge gear shall remain closed for the period of time, 
not to exceed 1 fishing year, as specified for the corresponding 
percent overage of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Percent overage of YTF sub-ACL
     AM closure area and duration     --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          AM Closure  Area 1       AM Closure  Area 2       AM Closure  Area 3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 or less............................  Mar-Apr................  Mar-Apr................  Mar-Apr.
2.1-7................................  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-May, Feb.
7.1-12...............................  Mar-May, Dec-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-May, Dec-Feb.
12.1-16..............................  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb...........  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.
16.1 or greater......................  Mar-Jun, Nov-Feb.......  Mar-May, Feb...........  All year.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (vi) The Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder 
accountability measure for LAGC IFQ vessels using dredge gear shall 
only be triggered if the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL is exceeded, an accountability measure is triggered 
for the limited access scallop fishery, and the catch of yellowtail 
flounder by LAGC IFQ vessels using dredge gear was estimated to be more 
than 3 percent of the total catch of yellowtail flounder in the scallop 
fishery. For example, in a given fishing year, if the total sub-ACL for 
the scallop fishery was 50 mt of yellowtail flounder and LAGC IFQ 
vessels using dredge gear caught an estimated 1 mt, accountability 
measures for IFQ vessels using dredges would not trigger because the 
fishery did not catch more than 3 percent of the Southern New England/
Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL (1.5 mt), even if the total 
sub-ACL was exceeded. If LAGC IFQ vessels using dredge gear caught more 
than 3 percent of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail 
flounder, but the sub-ACL is not exceeded and the limited access 
accountability measure is not triggered, LAGC IFQ vessels using dredge 
gear would not trigger their own accountability measure
    (3) Limited access general category IFQ scallop vessels using 
trawls.--(i) Unless otherwise specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(iv) of 
the NE multispecies regulations, if the Southern New England/Mid-
Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is 
exceeded, and the criteria in paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of this section are 
met, the area defined by the following coordinates shall be closed to 
LAGC vessels fishing with trawl for the period of time specified in 
paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section. Southern New England Yellowtail 
Accountability Measure Closure Area for Limited Access General Category 
IFQ Scallop Vessels using Trawl Gear is comprised of Northeast Region 
Statistical Areas 612 and 613, and is defined by the 
following coordinates, connected in the order listed by straight lines, 
unless otherwise noted:

[[Page 16599]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point                     N. lat.            W. long.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
LAGC Trawl SNEYT AM A.............  40[deg]00'         (\1\)
LAGC Trawl SNEYT AM B.............  40[deg]00'         71[deg]40'
LAGC Trawl SNEYT AM C.............  41[deg]00'         71[deg]40'
LAGC Trawl SNEYT AM D.............  41[deg]00' \2\     (\3\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ New Jersey mainland coastline.
\2\ From Point D back to Point A along the southern mainland coastline
  of Long Island and New York, and the eastern coastline of New Jersey.
\3\ Southeast facing coastline of Long Island, NY.

    (ii) Duration of closure. The Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
yellowtail flounder accountability measure closure area for LAGC IFQ 
vessels using trawl gear shall remain closed for the period of time, 
not to exceed 1 fishing year, as specified for the corresponding 
percent overage of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Percent overage of YTF sub-ACL                                  Length of closure
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 or less...........................  March through April.
2.1-3...............................  March through April, and February.
3.1-7...............................  March through May, and February.
7.1-9...............................  March through May and January through February.
9.1-12..............................  March through May and December through February.
12.1-15.............................  March through June and December through February.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (iii) The accountability measure for LAGC vessels using trawl gear 
shall be triggered under the following conditions:
    (A) If the estimated catch of Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
yellowtail flounder by LAGC IFQ vessels using trawl gear is more than 
10 percent of the total Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL, the accountability measure for LAGC IFQ vessels using 
trawl gear shall be triggered, regardless of whether or not the scallop 
fishery's Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL 
was exceeded in a given fishing year. In this case, the accountability 
measure closure season shall be from March-June and again from 
December-February (a total of 7 months). For example, if the scallop 
fishery's Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL 
for a given fishing year is 50 mt, LAGC IFQ vessels using trawl gear 
would trigger a 7-month closure, the most restrictive closure duration 
specified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section, if they caught 5 mt 
or more of yellowtail flounder.
    (B) If the scallop fishery's Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
yellowtail flounder sub-ACL for a given fishing year is exceeded, 
resulting in an accountability measure for the limited access fleet as 
specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, LAGC IFQ vessels using 
trawl gear shall be subject to a seasonal closure accountability 
measure, as specified in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section, based on 
the total scallop fishery's sub-ACL overage, as specified in paragraph 
(c)(3)(ii) of this section.
    (C) If both of these conditions are triggered, (i.e., LAGC IFQ 
vessels using trawl gear catch more than 10 percent of the total 
Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL and the 
overall Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder sub-ACL 
is exceeded, triggering limited access scallop fishery accountability 
measures), the most restrictive accountability measure shall apply to 
LAGC IFQ vessels using trawl gear (i.e., the closure season would be 
from March-June and again from December-February).
    (iv) If the LAGC accountability measure for vessels using trawl 
gear is triggered, a vessel can switch to dredge gear to continue 
fishing in the LAGC trawl closure areas, as specified in paragraph 
(c)(3)(i) of this section, during the time of year when trawl gear is 
prohibited, as specified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section. If 
such a vessel does switch to dredge gear, it is subject to any 
yellowtail flounder accountability measures that may be in place for 
that gear type, as specified in paragraph (c)(3) of this section.
* * * * *
    (e) Process for implementing the AM. (1) If reliable information is 
available to make a mid-year determination: On or about January 15 of 
each year, based upon catch and other information available to NMFS, 
the Regional Administrator shall determine whether a yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL was exceeded, or is projected to be exceeded, by 
scallop vessels prior to the end of the scallop fishing year ending on 
February 28/29. The determination shall include the amount of the 
overage or projected amount of the overage, specified as a percentage 
of the overall sub-ACL for the applicable yellowtail flounder stock, in 
accordance with the values specified in paragraph (a) of this section. 
Based on this initial projection in mid-January, the Regional 
Administrator shall implement the AM in accordance with the APA and 
notify owners of limited access and LAGC scallop vessels by letter 
identifying the length of the closure and a summary of the yellowtail 
flounder catch, overage, and projection that resulted in the closure.
    (2) If reliable information is not available to make a mid-year 
determination: Once NMFS has compiled the necessary information (e.g., 
when the previous fishing year's observer and catch data are fully 
available), the Regional Administrator shall determine whether a 
yellowtail flounder sub-ACL was exceeded by scallop vessels following 
the end of the scallop fishing year ending on February 28/29. The 
determination shall include the amount of the overage, specified as a 
percentage of the overall sub-ACL for the applicable yellowtail 
flounder stock, in accordance with the values specified in paragraph 
(a) of this section. Based on this information, the Regional 
Administrator shall implement the AM in accordance with the APA in Year 
3 (e.g., an accountability measure would be implemented in fishing year 
2016 for an overage that occurred in fishing year 2014) and notify 
owners of limited access and LAGC scallop vessels by letter identifying 
the length of the

[[Page 16600]]

closure and a summary of the yellowtail flounder catch and overage 
information.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-05535 Filed 3-14-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P