[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 54 (Wednesday, March 20, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 17178-17180]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06410]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 120919470-3182-01]
RIN 0648-BC58


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Shrimp Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 9

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 regulations to implement Amendment 9 (Amendment 
9) to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the South 
Atlantic Region (FMP) as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would 
revise the criteria and procedures by which a South Atlantic state may 
request a concurrent closure of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to 
the commercial harvest of penaeid shrimp (brown, pink, and white 
shrimp) when state waters close as a result of severe winter weather. 
Amendment 9 would also revise the overfished and overfishing status 
determination criteria for pink shrimp. The intent of this rule is to 
increase the flexibility and timeliness of the criteria and process for 
implementing a concurrent closure of penaeid shrimp harvest in the EEZ 
to maximize protection of overwintering white shrimp in the South 
Atlantic.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before April 19, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0227'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Kate Michie, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 
13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, click on ``submit a comment'', then enter ``NOAA-
NMFS-2012-0227'' in the keyword search and click on ``search''. To view 
posted comments during the comment period, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-
0227'' in the keyword search and click on ``search''. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    Electronic copies of Amendment 9 may be obtained from the Southeast 
Regional Office Web Site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Michie, telephone: 727-824-5305, 
or email: kate.michie@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The penaeid shrimp fishery of the South 
Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council 
and is implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Background

    Under 50 CFR 622.35(d)(1), NMFS may close the EEZ adjacent to a 
South Atlantic state that has closed its waters to the harvest of 
brown, pink, and white shrimp to protect the white shrimp spawning 
stock that has been severely depleted by cold weather. Based on 
information from standardized assessments, if a state has determined 
that unusually cold temperatures have resulted in at least an 80-
percent reduction of the white shrimp population in its state waters, 
the state may request that the EEZ adjacent to its state waters 
concurrently close to the commercial harvest of penaeid shrimp. The 
specific criteria that a state must meet to request a concurrent 
closure of the adjacent EEZ waters is described in the FMP. Under the 
current procedures, once a state has determined that specific 
conditions have been met the state sends a request to close EEZ waters 
to penaeid shrimp harvest to the Council,

[[Page 17179]]

and then the Council convenes its Shrimp Review Panel to review the 
state's request. If the Shrimp Review Panel's recommendation is 
affirmative, they forward their recommendation to the Council. The 
Council may then approve the state's request and send a letter to NMFS 
to request a harvest prohibition of penaeid shrimp in EEZ waters 
adjacent to the closed state waters. Once NMFS has determined that the 
recommended closure is in accordance with the procedures and criteria 
specified in the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS implements the 
closure through a notification in the Federal Register. The closure 
will generally remain effective until the ending date of the state's 
closure, but may be ended earlier based on a request from the state.
    During the closure, as specified in 50 CFR 622.35(d)(2), no person 
may: (1) Trawl for brown, pink, or white shrimp in the closed portion 
of the EEZ; (2) possess on board a fishing vessel brown, pink, or white 
shrimp in or from the closed portion of the EEZ, unless the vessel is 
in transit through the area and all nets with a mesh size of less than 
4 inches (10.2 cm) are stowed below deck; or (3) for a vessel trawling 
within 25 nautical miles of the baseline from which the territorial sea 
is measured, use or have on board a trawl net with a mesh size less 
than 4 inches (10.2 cm), as measured between the centers of opposite 
knots when pulled taut.

Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    The management measures contained in Amendment 9 and this proposed 
rule would not require any changes to the current regulatory text 
within Sec.  622.35(d), ``South Atlantic shrimp cold weather closure.'' 
This is because the current regulations refer to the FMP for the 
specific criteria and procedures required to implement a concurrent 
closure of the EEZ for penaeid shrimp. This rule would revise those 
criteria and procedures within the FMP, however, the regulatory text 
would not change.

Criteria Used To Trigger a State's Ability To Request a Concurrent 
Closure of the EEZ to Penaeid Shrimp Commercial Harvest

    This rule would revise the criteria that a state must meet to 
request from NMFS a closure of commercial penaeid shrimp harvest in 
Federal waters following severe winter weather and a closure of state 
waters. Currently, a state must demonstrate at least an 80-percent 
reduction in the population of overwintering white shrimp in order to 
justify a closure. This rule would require that a state must 
demonstrate either at least an 80-percent reduction in the population 
of overwintering white shrimp or that state water temperatures were 9 
[deg]C (48[emsp14][deg]F) or less, for at least 7 consecutive days. 
Additional details regarding the sampling methods a state may use for 
these determinations may be found in Amendment 9 and the FMP and are 
referenced in the regulatory text at 50 CFR Sec.  622.35(d). These 
revised criteria would provide increased flexibility for a state to 
protect the overwintering white shrimp in a state's adjacent EEZ 
waters.

Process for a State To Request a Concurrent Closure of the EEZ to 
Penaeid Shrimp Commercial Harvest

    This rule would revise the procedures for a state to request a 
closure of the penaeid shrimp commercial sector in the EEZ concurrent 
with a closure of its state waters. Under the current procedures, a 
state may request a concurrent closure of penaeid shrimp harvest in the 
EEZ once a state has determined that specific conditions have been met. 
Following that determination, the state sends a request to the Council, 
then the Council convenes its Shrimp Review Panel to review the state's 
request. If the review panel's recommendation is affirmative, the panel 
forwards its recommendation to the Council. If the Council approves the 
state's request, they send a letter to NMFS to request a concurrent 
closure of penaeid shrimp harvest in the EEZ waters adjacent to the 
requesting state. Once NMFS has determined that the recommended closure 
is in accordance with the procedures and criteria specified in the FMP 
and the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS implements the closure through a 
notification (temporary rule) in the Federal Register. This proposed 
rule would streamline these request procedures to reduce delays in 
closing the penaeid shrimp fishery, which may then yield biological 
benefits to the shrimp stock through a more timely closure. The revised 
procedures would allow a state, after determining that the revised 
concurrent closure criteria have been met, to submit a letter directly 
to the NMFS Regional Administrator (RA) with the request and supporting 
data for a concurrent closure of penaeid shrimp harvest in the EEZ 
adjacent to the closed state waters. After a review of the request and 
supporting information, if the RA determines the recommended closure is 
in accordance with the procedures and criteria specified in the FMP and 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS would implement the closure through a 
notification in the Federal Register. These revised procedures would 
also reduce the administrative burden to the states and the Council 
through a more efficient process.

Additional Management Measure Contained in Amendment 9

    Amendment 9 also revises the overfished and overfishing status 
determination criteria (biomass at the maximum sustainable yield 
(BMSY)) for the pink shrimp stock. BMSY for pink 
shrimp was most recently revised in Amendment 6 to the Shrimp FMP (70 
FR 73383, December 12, 2005). Amendment 6 established a 
(BMSY) proxy for pink shrimp based on two thresholds: (a) if 
the stock diminishes to \1/2\ of the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) 
abundance (\1/2\ BMSY) in 1 year, or (b) if the stock is 
diminished below MSY abundance (BMSY) for 2 consecutive 
years. A proxy for BMSY was established for pink shrimp 
using catch per unit effort (CPUE) information from the Southeast Area 
Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP) survey program data as the 
lowest values in the period 1990-2003 that produced catches reaching 
MSY in the following year. In Amendment 9, the BMSY proxy is 
revised based on more recent SEAMAP harvest data for pink shrimp. 
Specifically, Amendment 9 revises the BMSY proxy for pink 
shrimp using the lowest CPUE value from SEAMAP during the period 1990-
2011 (0.089 individuals per hectare). The Council and NMFS determined 
that the pink shrimp stock size that produced the relatively low CPUE 
value of 0.089 individuals per hectare does not compromise the long 
term capacity of the pink shrimp stock to achieve MSY because the low 
stock size has historically produced a biomass the following year that 
is capable of achieving MSY based on the best available science.

Availability of Amendment 9

    Additional background and rationale for the measures previously 
discussed are contained in Amendment 9. The availability of Amendment 9 
was announced in the Federal Register on March 4, 2013 (78 FR 14069). 
Written comments on Amendment 9 must be received by May 3, 2013. All 
comments received on Amendment 9 or the proposed rule during their 
respective comment periods will be addressed in the preamble to the 
final rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent

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with the amendment, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 
other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public 
comment.
    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this rule, if adopted, would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual 
basis for this determination is as follows.
    The purposes of the rule and Amendment 9 are to modify the criteria 
for a South Atlantic state to request a closure of Federal waters to 
commercial penaeid shrimp harvest, concurrent with closure of a state's 
waters to protect overwintering white shrimp, to streamline the process 
by which a state can request a concurrent closure, and to establish a 
BMSY proxy for pink shrimp, which is used in determining the 
overfished and overfishing status. The objectives of the rule and 
Amendment 9 are to establish a more timely and efficient process for a 
state to request a concurrent closure of penaeid shrimp harvest in 
Federal waters adjacent to closed state waters to maximize protection 
of overwintering white shrimp during cold weather events, and to 
improve the accuracy of the biological parameters used for pink shrimp 
management. The Magnuson-Stevens Act serves as the legal basis for the 
rule.
    The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for 
all major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A 
business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business 
if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field 
of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual 
receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish 
fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide.
    The actions in this rule are administrative in nature and thus 
would only generate indirect economic effects on commercial operations 
in the South Atlantic shrimp fishery. Specifically, the actions in this 
rule would make it easier for states to request a concurrent closure of 
the penaeid shrimp fishery by allowing them to use an additional 
criterion when making such requests, reduce the time between when a 
cold weather event occurs and a closure of the EEZ is implemented, and 
reduce the probability the pink shrimp component of the fishery is 
closed due to an overfishing or overfished status determination. As 
such, this proposed rule is not expected to generate any direct 
economic effects on commercial operations in the South Atlantic shrimp 
fishery. Therefore, no small entities would be directly affected by 
this rule.
    As a result of the information above, a reduction in profits for a 
substantial number of small entities is not expected. Because this 
rule, if implemented, is not expected to have a significant direct 
adverse economic effect on the profits of a substantial number of small 
entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required 
and none has been prepared.
    No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been 
identified. This rule would not establish any new reporting or record-
keeping requirements.

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

    Dated: March 14, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-06410 Filed 3-19-13; 8:45 am]
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