[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 57 (Monday, March 25, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 18187-18219]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06774]



[[Page 18187]]

Vol. 78

Monday,

No. 57

March 25, 2013

Part IV





Department of Commerce





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





National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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





50 CFR Part 648





Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; 
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast (NE) 
Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 48; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 57 / Monday, March 25, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 18188]]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120814336-3249-01]
RIN 0648-BC27


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast (NE) 
Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 48

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes approval of, and regulations to implement, 
measures in Framework Adjustment 48 to the NE Multispecies Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP). Framework 48 is the first of two parallel 
actions developed by the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council) as part of the biennial review process to respond to updated 
stock information and to adjust other management measures in the NE 
multispecies (groundfish) fishery. Framework 48 proposes new status 
determination criteria for Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod, Georges Bank (GB) 
cod, and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail 
flounder, based on new benchmark assessments completed for these stocks 
in 2012 and 2013. Framework 48 would also establish allocations of SNE/
MA windowpane flounder and GB yellowtail flounder for exempted 
fisheries, and modify the allocation of GB yellowtail flounder to the 
scallop fishery, to address increased bycatch of these species. In 
addition, Framework 48 would amend existing accountability measures 
(AMs) for GOM/GB and SNE/MA windowpane flounders, ocean pout, and 
Atlantic halibut and establish new ``reactive'' AMs for Atlantic 
wolffish and SNE/MA winter flounder. These measures would make way for 
the other parallel action, Framework 50, which would set acceptable 
biological catches (ABCs) and annual catch limits (ACLs) for fishing 
years (FY) 2013-2015. Framework 48 also contains several measures 
intended to improve the administration of the fishery and enhance 
fishing opportunities for groundfish vessels to mitigate potential 
negative economic impacts from reductions in catch limits proposed by 
Framework 50. These measures include: Clarification of the goals and 
performance standard for sector monitoring programs; elimination of 
dockside monitoring requirements; cost-sharing of monitoring costs 
between the industry and NMFS; reduction of the minimum fish size for 
several stocks; and allowing groundfish sectors to petition the 
Regional Administrator for limited access to groundfish mortality 
closures. This rule also proposes several regulatory changes to correct 
inadvertent errors in the NE multispecies regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received by April 9, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2013-0050, 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-2013-0050, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to John K. Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
     Fax: (978) 281-9135; Attn: Melissa Hooper.
    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.
    Copies of FW 48, its Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), a draft of the 
environmental assessment (EA) prepared for this action, and the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared by the Council are 
available from Thomas Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery 
Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The 
IRFA assessing the impacts of the proposed measures on small entities 
and describing steps taken to minimize any significant economic impact 
on such entities is summarized in the Classification section of this 
proposed rule. The FW 48 EA/RIR/IRFA are also accessible via the 
Internet at http://www.nefmc.org/nemulti/index.html or http://www.nero.noaa.gov. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates 
or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements 
contained in this rule should be submitted to the Regional 
Administrator at the address above and to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) by email at OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to (202) 
395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Hooper, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, phone: 978-281-9166, fax: 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The FMP specifies management measures for 16 species of groundfish 
in Federal waters off the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts, 
including both large-mesh and small-mesh species. Small-mesh species 
include silver hake (whiting), red hake, offshore hake, and ocean pout; 
and large-mesh species (also referred to as ``regulated species'') 
include Atlantic cod, haddock, yellowtail flounder, pollock, American 
plaice, witch flounder, white hake, windowpane flounder, Atlantic 
halibut, winter flounder, redfish, and Atlantic wolffish. Large-mesh 
species, which are referred to as ``regulated species,'' are divided 
into 19 fish stocks, and along with ocean pout, comprise the groundfish 
complex of 20 stocks managed under the NE Multispecies FMP.
    Amendment 16 to the FMP (Amendment 16) established a process for 
setting ABCs and ACLs for regulated species and ocean pout, as well as 
distributing the available catch among the various components of the 
groundfish fishery. Amendment 16 also established AMs for these 20 
groundfish stocks in order to prevent overfishing of these stocks and 
correct or mitigate any overages of the ACLs. Framework 44 to the FMP 
(Framework 44) set the ABCs and ACLs for FYs 2010-2012. In 2011, 
Framework 45 to the FMP (Framework 45) revised the ABCs and ACLs for 
five stocks for FYs 2011-2012. Framework 47 to the FMP (Framework 47) 
updated specifications for most stocks for FYs 2012-2014 and modified 
management measures in the fishery after more than 1 year under ACLs 
and AMs.

[[Page 18189]]

    In June 2012, the Council initiated development of Framework 48 to 
respond to benchmark and assessment updates completed for all 
groundfish stocks in 2012. Updated information in these assessments 
requires revisions to the status determination criteria for GOM cod, GB 
cod, and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder and implementation of updated ABCs 
and ACLs for most stocks for FYs 2013-2015. These measures are 
necessary to prevent overfishing and facilitate the rebuilding of 
groundfish stocks as required by the FMP. Because of the need to end 
overfishing, substantial reductions in catch limits are being proposed 
for some stocks. To mitigate negative economic impacts anticipated for 
groundfish vessels and their communities, the Council developed several 
measures in Framework 48 intended to increase fishing opportunities and 
improve profitability in the groundfish fishery. Framework 48 also 
proposes AMs for Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolffish, and SNE/MA winter 
flounder in response to a Court Order and remand in Oceana v. Locke et 
al. that held that so-called ``reactive'' AMs had not been developed 
for the 6 stocks not allocated to sectors (``non-allocated stocks'') in 
Amendment 16. Framework 48 recommends reactive AMs for 3 of these 
stocks, for which reactive AMs have not been established since 
Amendment 16.
    At its December 2012 meeting, the Council voted to split the 
framework in order to provide more time to consider new catch limits. 
Proposed specifications for FY 2013-2015 were put into Framework 50, 
which was approved by the Council for submission at its January 2013 
meeting. The Council took final action on all non-ACL measures in 
Framework 48 at its December meeting. As a result, the measures in 
Framework 48 and considered in this proposed rule would make 
administrative changes to the FMP to make way for Framework 50, which 
would specify ABCs and ACLs for all stocks for FY 2013-2015 in a 
separate proposed and final rule. Implementation of both actions is 
targeted for the start of the 2013 fishing year on May 1, 2013.

Proposed Measures

    The measures proposed by Framework 48 are described below. The 
proposed regulations implementing measures in Framework 48 were deemed 
by the Council to be consistent with Framework 48, and necessary to 
implement such provisions pursuant to section 303(c) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act through a March 13, 2013, letter from the Council Chairman 
to the NMFS Regional Administrator.

1. Status Determination Criteria for GOM and GB Cod, and SNE/MA 
Yellowtail Flounder

    Amendment 16 updated the status determination criteria for NE 
regulated species and ocean pout stocks based on the best available 
scientific information as determined by the 2008 Groundfish Assessment 
Review Meeting (GARM III). Framework 45 updated the status 
determination criteria for pollock to reflect the results of a new 
pollock stock assessment conducted in 2010, and Framework 47 updated 
the status determination criteria for the three winter flounder stocks 
and GOM cod based on assessments completed for those stocks in 2011.
    An assessment for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder was completed in June 
2012. New assessments were also completed for GOM and GB cod in 
December 2012 and for white hake in February 2013. Framework 48 
proposes to update the status determination criteria for SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder, GOM and GB cod, to incorporate the results of 
these recent stock assessments into the FMP. The proposed revisions are 
based on the best scientific information available.
    The December 2011 assessment for GOM cod indicated that overfishing 
was occurring and the stock was overfished. In response to new 
information, including revised discard mortality rates and updated 
recreational data, another assessment for GOM cod was conducted in 
December 2012. Two population assessment models were accepted at the 
55th Stock Assessment Review Committee (SARC) in December 2012. One 
assessment model assumes that the natural mortality rate (M) is 0.2 
(M=0.2 model). The second assessment model assumes that M has increased 
from 0.2 to 0.4 in recent years (Mramp model). The results 
of both of these models indicate that overfishing is occurring and the 
stock is overfished. In addition, the December 2012 stock assessment 
for GB cod indicates that overfishing is occurring and the stock is 
overfished.
    The previous assessment conducted for SNE/MA yellowtail flounder in 
2008 (GARM III) determined that this stock was experiencing overfishing 
and was overfished. A new benchmark assessment (SARC 54) was completed 
for this stock in June 2012. The SARC considered two stock recruitment 
scenarios used in the assessment, which would lead to very different 
conclusions about stock status. A ``recent recruitment'' scenario, 
which assumed that a possible change in productivity has reduced the 
size of incoming year classes since 1990, would lead to the conclusion 
that the stock is not experiencing overfishing, is not overfished, and 
is rebuilt to a new, much lower biomass target. Alternately, a ``two-
stanza'' scenario assumed that recruitment over the entire time series 
was a function of spawning stock biomass (SSB), and would lead to the 
conclusion that the stock continues to experience overfishing, is 
overfished, and would not be expected to rebuild even if the fishing 
mortality were held to zero. While neither scenario could be ruled out, 
the SARC concluded that the evidence was 60:40 in favor of the ``recent 
recruitment'' scenario. Based on the new assessment results, the 
Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Northeast 
Fisheries Science Center support the ``recent recruitment'' scenario 
for use as the best available scientific information to manage the 
stock. Therefore, the new stock status determinations for the stock 
resulting from SARC 54 is that the stock is not experiencing 
overfishing, is not overfished, and is rebuilt.
    The final results of the white hake assessment are not yet 
available. GARM III was the last benchmark assessment conducted for 
white hake. This assessment indicated that overfishing was occurring 
for white hake and the stock was overfished. Final results from the 
February 2013 benchmark assessment for white hake are scheduled to 
become available in mid-March, around the approximate time of the 
publication of this proposed rule. In anticipation of this new 
information, the Council recommended updating the status determination 
criteria for white hake among its preferred alternatives in Framework 
48, with the actual updated status determination criteria to be 
determined pending the results of the assessment. As with GOM and GB 
cod, the Council anticipated that this information would be available 
in time for NMFS to propose the revised status determination criteria 
recommended by the assessment in this Framework 48 proposed rule. 
However, as the assessment results were not available in time for 
publication of this proposed rule, the Council's proposed changes to 
the status determination criteria for white hake are incomplete. 
Therefore, NMFS is not proposing any changes to the white hake status 
determination criteria through this rulemaking.
    There is preliminary information from the February 2013 assessment 
for white hake, however, that may justify a higher ABC than is proposed 
in Framework 50. This stock is important for the commercial groundfish 
fishery, and any potential increase in the FY 2013 ABC for this stock 
would benefit groundfish vessels. If new stock information

[[Page 18190]]

becomes available this spring that shows the FY 2013 ABC for white hake 
could be increased, and the Council requests that NMFS take emergency 
action to incorporate this new information, NMFS could consider an 
emergency action for FY 2013.
    The revised status determination criteria proposed in this rule are 
presented in Table 1. Numerical estimates of these criteria are 
presented in Table 2. There are two sets of status determination 
criteria for GOM cod because two models were accepted at the benchmark 
assessment in December 2012, as described above. Although two 
assessment models were approved, there is only one numerical estimate 
proposed for the maximum fishing mortality threshold for GOM cod. The 
SARC did not conclude that M would remain at 0.4 in perpetuity, and 
therefore, did not provide reference points for this scenario.

         Table 1--Proposed Status Determination Criteria for SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder, GOM and GB Cod
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Minimum biomass       Maximum fishing  mortality
               Stock                    Biomass target           threshold                  threshold
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SNE/MA yellowtail flounder........  SSB40%MSP............  \1/2\ Btarget.......  F40%MSP
GOM cod...........................  SSB40%MSP............  \1/2\ Btarget.......  F40%MSP
GB cod............................  SSB40%MSP............  \1/2\ Btarget.......  F40%MSP
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SSB = spawning stock biomass; MSP = maximum spawning potential; B = biomass; F = fishing mortality rate; MSY =
  maximum sustainable yield


    Table 2--Numerical Estimates of the Proposed Status Determination
         Criteria for SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder, GOM and GB Cod
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Maximum
                                     Biomass      fishing
              Stock                target (mt)   mortality     MSY (mt)
                                                 threshold
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SNE/MA yellowtail flounder.......        2,995         0.31          773
GOM cod (M=0.2 model)............       54,743         0.18        9,399
GOM cod (Mramp model)............       80,200  ...........       13,786
GB cod...........................      186,535         0.18       30,622
------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. SNE/MA Windowpane Flounder Sub-ACLs

    The catch limit for each stock is divided among the various fishery 
components (e.g., commercial groundfish fishery, recreational 
groundfish fishery, scallop fishery, state waters). Components of the 
fishery that are allocated a sub-ACL for a particular stock are subject 
to AMs if the catch limit is exceeded. ``ACL sub-components'' represent 
the expected catch by components of the fishery that are not subject to 
AMs (e.g., state waters). Currently, only the common pool fishery has a 
sub-ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder. The stock is not allocated to 
sectors, and therefore, all sector and common pool catch is attributed 
to the common pool sub-ACL. Framework 48 proposes to allocate a sub-ACL 
of SNE/MA windowpane flounder to the scallop fishery and rename the 
other sub-component the ``other fisheries sub-ACL.''

Scallop Fishery Sub-ACL

    The sub-ACL of SNE/MA windowpane flounder allocated to the scallop 
fishery would be 36 percent of the ABC. This allocation is based on the 
90th percentile of the scallop fishery catches (as a percent of the 
total catch) for calendar years (CYs) 2001 through 2010. GARM III and 
the 2012 Assessment Update for SNE/MA windowpane flounder only included 
catches from limited access scallop dredge and trawl vessels. The 90th 
percentile of these catches (as a percent of the total catches) from 
CYs 2001-2010 is 32 percent. However, this does not account for catches 
of SNE/MA windowpane flounder by General Category scallop vessels. From 
2001 to 2003, there was limited observer coverage of General Category 
scallop dredge and trawl vessels. From 2004-2011, the average General 
Category catch of this stock was 22 mt. As a result, 22 mt was added to 
the limited access scallop dredge and trawl vessel catch for each year 
(CYs 2001-2010). The combined total is 36 percent. The scallop 
fishery's sub-ACL would be calculated by reducing the portion of the 
ABC allocated to the scallop fishery (sub-ABC) to account for 
management uncertainty. The management uncertainty buffer is determined 
each time the groundfish specifications are set.
    If this measure is approved, AMs for the scallop fishery would be 
developed in a future management action during 2013 through the 
Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP. AMs would be implemented in time to be 
effective by the start of scallop FY 2014 (i.e., March 1, 2014), and 
would be retroactively applied to FY 2013. If the scallop fishery 
exceeds its sub-ACL for SNE/MA windowpane in FY 2013, the AMs adopted 
in a future management action would be triggered. Also, similar to the 
measure adopted in Framework 47 for the scallop fishery's SNE/MA and GB 
yellowtail flounder sub-ACLs, the scallop fishery AM for SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder would only be triggered if the total ACL is 
exceeded and the scallop fishery's sub-ACL is also exceeded, or if the 
scallop fishery exceeds its sub-ACL by 50 percent or more.
    The total ACL for SNE/MA windowpane was exceeded by more than 100 
percent in FY 2010 and FY 2011. In both years, total catch by sector 
and common pool vessels was below the common pool sub-ACL for this 
stock, and scallop vessels accounted for more than 25 percent of the 
total catch in FY 2011, and almost 50 percent of the catch in FY 2010. 
However, because the scallop fishery is not currently allocated a sub-
ACL, it was not subject to an AM. Instead, the AM that was triggered in 
both years as a result of the ACL overage only applied to common pool 
vessels. Scallop vessel catch of SNE/MA windowpane flounder is large 
enough to undermine the effectiveness of the ACL and AM for this stock. 
Therefore, a sub-ACL for the scallop fishery would help prevent 
overfishing and would ensure

[[Page 18191]]

catches of windowpane flounder by the scallop fishery are constrained. 
In addition, this measure would ensure equity and hold the component of 
the fishery responsible for an overage accountable for its catch.

Other Sub-Components Sub-ACL

    In addition to large catches of SNE/MA windowpane flounder by the 
scallop fishery in recent years, other non-groundfish fisheries have 
accounted for approximately half of the total SNE/MA windowpane 
flounder catch in FY 2010 and FY 2011. Currently, any overages of the 
total ACL caused by this component of the fishery are applied to the 
commercial groundfish fishery (and only to common pool vessels prior to 
FY 2012), and the AM does not apply to non-groundfish vessels. As a 
result, there are no measures in place to constrain catches of SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder by these vessels, which could undermine the 
effectiveness of the ACL and AM for this stock.
    This action proposes to make the ``other sub-component'' an ``other 
fisheries sub-ACL.'' Because ``sub-components'' of the fishery are not 
subject to AMs, this administrative measure makes it possible to adopt 
an AM that applies to those non-groundfish fisheries that fish with 
gear responsible for most of the catch of this stock in the ``other'' 
sub-component. The AM for SNE/MA windowpane flounder that would apply 
to commercial vessels is described in Item 6 of this preamble. This 
measure would prevent overfishing of SNE/MA windowpane flounder and 
ensure all components of the fishery are accountable for their catches 
of this stock.

3. Scallop Fishery Sub-ACL for GB Yellowtail Flounder Based on 
Estimated Catch

    Currently, the scallop fishery's allocation of GB yellowtail 
flounder is determined each time groundfish specifications are set. 
There is no established allocation scheme, though in recent years, the 
scallop fishery's sub-ACL for this stock was based on the projected GB 
yellowtail flounder needed to fully harvest the scallop sub-ACL. The 
scallop fishery was allocated 100 percent of its projected need in FY 
2010, and 90 percent of its projected need in FY 2011 and FY 2012.
    This action proposes to allocate a fixed percentage of the U.S. ABC 
for GB yellowtail flounder to the scallop fishery. For FY 2013 only, 40 
percent of the U.S. ABC for GB yellowtail flounder would be allocated 
to the scallop fishery. Beginning in FY 2014, 16 percent of the U.S. 
ABC for this stock would be allocated to the scallop fishery. The 
allocation to the scallop fishery would be 16 percent of the U.S. ABC 
each year from FY 2014 onward. The scallop fishery sub-ACL would be 
calculated by reducing the scallop fishery's portion of the ABC (sub-
ABC) to account for management uncertainty.
    The percentage allocation for the scallop fishery beginning in FY 
2014 forward is based on recent catch history by the scallop fishery 
from CYs 2002 through 2011. This measure would simplify the 
specification of the scallop fishery's GB yellowtail flounder 
allocation each year. In addition, allocating a fixed percentage of the 
ABC to the scallop fishery would further incentivize avoiding 
yellowtail flounder while maximizing the catch of scallops.
    Although the scallop fishery would be allocated a fixed percentage 
of GB yellowtail flounder, this action would not modify the existing 
regulation that requires NMFS to re-estimate the expected scallop 
fishery catch of GB yellowtail flounder for the current fishing year by 
January 15. If the scallop fishery is projected to catch less than 90 
percent of its GB yellowtail flounder sub-ACL, the Regional 
Administrator may reduce the scallop fishery sub-ACL to the amount 
projected to be caught, and increase the groundfish fishery sub-ACL by 
any amount up to the amount reduced from the scallop allocation. 
Overages will be calculated based on the revised sub-ACLs for the 
commercial groundfish fishery and the scallop fishery, and any 
applicable AMs would be triggered.
    GB yellowtail flounder is managed jointly with Canada. In addition 
to the ACLs and AMs that the U.S. uses to manage the fishery, the 
Transboundary Resource Sharing Understanding (Understanding) also 
specifies that any overage of the U.S. total allowable catch (TAC) for 
GB yellowtail flounder would result in a pound-for-pound reduction of 
the U.S. TAC in the following fishing year. Therefore, if a component 
of the fishery exceeds its sub-ACL, which causes an overage of the U.S. 
TAC, the necessary reduction required by the Understanding would be 
taken from the sub-ACL of the fishery component that caused the 
overage.

4. Small-Mesh Fisheries Sub-ACL for GB Yellowtail Flounder

    Currently, the quota for GB yellowtail flounder is only allocated 
to the commercial groundfish fishery and the scallop fishery. If 
catches by the ``other'' sub-component (non-groundfish fisheries) cause 
an overage of the ACL, any AMs that are triggered only apply to the 
commercial groundfish and scallop fisheries. Framework 48 proposes to 
allocate a sub-ACL of GB yellowtail flounder to the small-mesh bottom 
trawl fisheries, which are defined as vessels fishing with bottom otter 
trawl with a codend mesh size of less than 5 inches (12.7 cm). Small-
mesh bottom trawl vessels fishing on GB typically target whiting and 
squid.
    This action would allocate 2 percent of the U.S. ABC for GB 
yellowtail flounder to the small-mesh fisheries. This allocation is 
based on the median catch of GB yellowtail flounder by the small-mesh 
fisheries from CYs 2004 through 2011. Observer coverage of small-mesh 
fisheries was limited prior to 2004, which is why the time period (CYs 
2004-2011) was selected. The small-mesh fishery sub-ACL would be 
calculated by reducing the portion of the ABC allocated to the small-
mesh fisheries (2 percent) to account for management uncertainty. Each 
time the groundfish specifications are set, the management uncertainty 
buffer necessary for these small-mesh fisheries would be determined. If 
the small-mesh fisheries catch of GB yellowtail flounder exceeds the 
sub-ACL, the pertinent AMs would be triggered. If this measure is 
approved, AMs would need to be developed for those fisheries (e.g., 
Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish; Small-Mesh Multispecies) as 
soon as possible to be effective for any overage in FY 2014.
    Although small-mesh fishery catches of GB yellowtail flounder have 
generally been less than 100 mt in recent years, the U.S. ABC for the 
stock has been declining. As a result, the small-mesh fishery catches 
account for an increasing percentage of the total U.S. catch. This 
measure would help ensure that small-mesh fishery catches would be 
constrained and prevent overages of the annual quota. In addition, 
because GB yellowtail flounder is jointly managed with Canada, keeping 
U.S. catches within the U.S. TAC is important to achieve the management 
and conservation objectives of the Understanding. A sub-ACL for small-
mesh fisheries, and associated AMs, would help ensure the component of 
the fishery that causes an overage would be held accountable. This 
proposed measure would also likely prevent inequities that would occur 
if the commercial groundfish and scallop fisheries were held 
accountable for overages caused by the small-mesh fisheries.

5. Recreational Fishery AM

    This action proposes to revise the recreational AM. The current

[[Page 18192]]

recreational AM is reactive and requires the Regional Administrator to 
modify recreational management measures in the year following an 
overage of a recreational sub-ACL to ensure that recreational catch 
does not exceed the sub-ACL again. The recreational fishery currently 
only has a sub-ACL for GOM cod and for GOM haddock. Framework 48 
proposes to modify the recreational AM so that the Regional 
Administrator may proactively adjust recreational management measures 
to ensure the recreational fishery will achieve, but not exceed, its 
sub-ACL. To the extent possible, any changes to the recreational 
management measures would be made prior to the start of the fishing 
year and adopted through procedures consistent with the Administrative 
Procedure Act (APA). In addition, the Regional Administrator would 
consult with the Council, or the Council's designee, and would tell the 
Council, or its designee, what recreational measures are under 
consideration for the upcoming fishing year. If time allows, the 
Council would also provide its Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) an 
opportunity to meet and discuss the proposed management measures.
    The Council provided guidance on its preference of measures that 
NMFS should consider if additional recreational effort controls are 
necessary to reduce GOM cod or GOM haddock catches, though this 
guidance does not restrict NMFS's discretion in selecting management 
measures that would best achieve, but not exceed, the recreational sub-
ACL. If additional effort controls are necessary to reduce cod catches, 
the Council's non-binding preference is that NMFS first consider 
increases to minimum fish sizes, then adjustments to seasons, followed 
by changes to bag limits. If additional effort controls are necessary 
to reduce haddock catches, the Council's non-binding preference is that 
NMFS first consider increases to minimum size limits, then changes to 
bag limits, and adjustments to seasons last.
    The current recreational AM only allows management measures to be 
adjusted if the recreational sub-ACL is exceeded; however, there is no 
mechanism to adjust recreational measures for the upcoming fishing year 
if it is projected that the recreational fishery would exceed, or not 
fully harvest, its quota. This action would allow measures to be 
proactively adjusted, which would help prevent overages of the 
recreational sub-ACL, and prevent substantial underharvests of the 
recreational sub-ACL. In addition, the requirement for NMFS to consult 
with the Council while developing measures allows increased opportunity 
for public comment, and provides states more opportunity to coordinate 
their recreational measures with NMFS.
    If this measure is adopted, any adjustments to recreational 
measures that are necessary for FY 2013 would be announced as soon as 
possible and implemented on or about the start of the fishing year. Due 
to timing constraints, development of recreational measures for FY 2013 
began prior to this proposed rule. To expedite the consideration of 
recreational measures for FY 2013, the Council delegated the 
recommendation of adjustments to these measures to the RAP. The 
Council's RAP met in early February 2013 to discuss potential measures 
for FY 2013, and the Council forwarded the RAP's recommendations to 
NMFS. Recreational management measures for FY 2013 will be announced in 
a separate rulemaking.

6. Commercial Groundfish Fishery AMs

    AMs are required to help prevent overfishing and ensure 
accountability in the fishery. Proactive AMs are intended to prevent 
ACLs from being exceeded, and reactive AMs are meant to correct or 
mitigate overages of ACLs if they occur. Amendment 16 implemented AMs 
for all of the groundfish stocks; however, upon approving Amendment 16, 
NMFS notified the Council that the AMs developed for the non-allocated 
stocks lacked sector-specific AMs. NMFS recommended that the Council 
develop appropriate AMs for these stocks in a future action, and as a 
result, Framework 47 modified the AMs for these stocks in 2012.
    During development of Framework 47, there was ongoing litigation on 
Amendment 16. Oceana, an environmental organization, challenged 
Amendment 16 partially because it lacked sector-specific AMs for the 
non-allocated stocks. On December 20, 2011, the U.S. District Court for 
the District of Columbia upheld most of Amendment 16, but found that 
the Amendment's lack of sector-specific reactive AMs, that is AMs that 
are triggered after an ACL is exceeded, for non-allocated stocks (GOM/
GB and SNE/MA windowpane flounders, ocean pout, Atlantic halibut, 
Atlantic wolffish, and SNE/MA winter flounder) violated the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. The Court remanded the issue to NMFS and the Council for 
further action. Because the Council took final action on Framework 47 
in November 2011, before the Court decided the case, it did not 
specifically or fully address the Court's remand in Framework 47.
    Amendment 16 adopted a prohibition on possession for all of the 
non-allocated stocks, except for Atlantic halibut, which has a one-fish 
per trip possession limit. Framework 47 adopted reactive AMs for ocean 
pout, both stocks of windowpane flounder, and Atlantic halibut for 
sector and non-sector (``common pool'') vessels that would be triggered 
if the total ACL is exceeded. For ocean pout and both stocks of 
windowpane flounder, if the total ACL is exceeded in the fishing year, 
gear-restricted areas would apply to both sector and common pool 
vessels in the second year following the overage, and would remain in 
place for the entire fishing year. For Atlantic halibut, if the total 
ACL is exceeded the possession limit for sector and common pool vessels 
would be reduced to zero (from one fish per trip) in the second year 
following the overage. Framework 47 identified the prohibition on 
possession of SNE/MA winter flounder and Atlantic wolffish as AMs for 
these two stocks. The Court subsequently held that these AMs, which 
were described as ``proactive'' AMs, were not sufficient and that 
``reactive'' AMs were needed as well.
    Upon approval of Framework 47, in light of the Court's remand, NMFS 
notified the Council that the zero-possession reactive AM for Atlantic 
halibut was not, by itself, an adequate AM. Additionally, NMFS notified 
the Council that although prohibition on possession for SNE/MA winter 
flounder and Atlantic wolffish may act as a proactive AM, the Court 
found that to be inconsistent with the National Standard 1 guidelines, 
and reactive AMs are needed for all stocks. Despite these concerns, 
NMFS approved these AMs in Framework 47 even though the prescribed AMs 
for these stocks were not sufficient, because approval of the framework 
was preferable to disapproval and because it removed a potential 
inequity for common pool vessels. The AM implemented through Amendment 
16 only applied to common pool vessels, although common pool vessels 
generally take less than 10 percent of the total commercial catch for 
these stocks. With respect to the delayed implementation of the 
reactive AMs (the second year following an overage), NMFS also 
recommended that these AMs be implemented as soon as possible after an 
overage occurs, when catch data, including final discard estimates, 
reliably show an overage of the ACL, and not be bound by an AM that can 
only be implemented in the second year following an overage. If 
reliable data indicate an overage of the total ACL, the AM should be 
implemented in the fishing year

[[Page 18193]]

immediately following the overage. As a result of Framework 47 
approval, the Council developed revised AMs for Atlantic halibut, SNE/
MA winter flounder, and Atlantic wolffish in Framework 48, as well as 
revisions to the timing of AM implementation for non-allocated stocks.

Change to AM Timing for Non-Allocated Stocks

    To improve the effectiveness of AMs adopted through Framework 47 
and 48 for the non-allocated stocks, this action proposes to change the 
timing of the AMs. As described above, the current AMs for these stocks 
are implemented in the second year following an overage of the total 
ACL. For example, if the total ACL for ocean pout is exceeded in Year 
1, the AM would be implemented in Year 3 under the current regulations. 
Because this delay may not be needed in all cases, this action proposes 
that if reliable information is available during the fishing year that 
shows the total ACL has been exceeded, the respective AM for the stock 
would be implemented at the start of the next fishing year (Year 2). 
After the AM is implemented, if updated catch information shows that 
the total ACL was not exceeded, the AM would be rescinded consistent 
with the APA.
    The Council has noted concerns that final catch data for the non-
allocated stocks, which include catch from state waters and non-
groundfish fisheries, could not be reliably available in time to 
trigger an AM in Year 2, or earlier. This action would modify the 
timing of the AMs so that should reliable information be available 
(e.g., the commercial groundfish fishery catches exceed the total ACL 
for a stock), the AM could be implemented more quickly. This increases 
the effectiveness of the AM and would help prevent overfishing in 
consecutive years. The need for greater effectiveness is balanced with 
the need for fishing businesses to plan for the upcoming fishing year, 
and therefore, any applicable AMs for the non-allocated stocks would 
only be implemented at the start of a fishing year. If this measure is 
approved, and implemented on or before May 1, 2013, and reliable 
information shows that the total ACL for a non-allocated stock is 
exceeded in FY 2012, then the respective AM would be implemented on May 
1, 2013, for sector and common pool vessels.

Area-Based AMs for Atlantic Halibut, Atlantic Wolffish, and SNE/MA 
Winter Flounder

    This action proposes area-based AMs for Atlantic halibut, Atlantic 
wolffish, and SNE/MA winter flounder. If the total ACL is exceeded for 
any of these stocks by an amount greater than the management 
uncertainty buffer, gear restrictions would be triggered in designated 
areas that have been identified as hotspots for catches of these 
stocks. For overages of the Atlantic halibut and Atlantic wolffish 
ACLs, trawl vessels would be required to use approved selective gear, 
and sink gillnet and longline vessels would not be allowed to fish in 
the applicable AM area. For overages of the SNE/MA winter flounder ACL, 
only trawl gear would be restricted in the applicable AM area. As 
previously adopted in Framework 47, possession of non-allocated stocks 
would also be prohibited at all times, except for Atlantic halibut 
would be reduced from one fish to zero if the total ACL is exceeded by 
an amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer. Approved 
selective trawl gears include the separator trawl, Ruhle trawl, mini-
Ruhle trawl, rope trawl, and other gear authorized by the Council in a 
management action or approved for use consistent with the process 
defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6).
    These area-based AMs, as well as the AMs implemented for ocean pout 
and the windowpane stocks by Framework 47, are triggered by an overage 
exceeding the amount of the management uncertainty buffer between the 
total ACL and the ABC for a non-allocated stock (i.e., when the ABC is 
exceeded). This is because the area-based AMs were designed to account 
for only overages of approximately 5-20 percent of the ACL. The 
Council's Groundfish Plan Development Team (PDT) was not able to design 
an effective area-based AM that would account for an overage of only a 
few percent. Any AM that would account for such a small amount of 
catch, could be easily undermined by a shift in effort to another 
hotspot. On the other hand, triggering an area-based AM that covers 
overages of up to 20 percent, for an overage of only a few percent, 
would be punitive. Currently, the management uncertainty buffer for 
these stocks is 7 percent at the sub-ACL level for the commercial 
groundfish fishery and ``other'' fisheries, and 3 percent for the 
scallop fishery. Because management uncertainty is not deducted from 
the state waters and other fisheries sub-components, this results in an 
effective management uncertainty buffer at the overall ACL level of 3-7 
percent for non-allocated stocks, depending upon the stock. The 
management uncertainty buffer can be changed each time groundfish 
specifications are set. Because these AM areas are designed to account 
for an ACL overage of up to 20 percent, if the total ACL is exceeded by 
20 percent or more for one of these stocks, the AM would still be 
implemented, but the measure would be reviewed in a future management 
action. In addition, should a sub-ACL be allocated to other fisheries 
in a future action, and AMs developed for those fisheries, the AM for 
any fishery would be implemented only if the total ACL for the stock is 
exceeded, and the fishery also exceeds its sub-ACL.
    Framework 50 is proposing to allocate SNE/MA winter flounder to 
sectors and allow landings. If this measure is approved in Framework 
50, sector-specific inseason AMs would be implemented, coupled with a 
pound-for-pound payback of any overage from a sector's allocation in 
the next fishing year. In this case, the area-based AM would apply only 
to common pool vessels if the common pool exceeds its sub-ACL for the 
stock.

Revised AM for SNE/MA Windowpane Flounder

    Currently, the AM for SNE/MA windowpane flounder only applies to 
commercial groundfish vessels. However, the commercial groundfish 
fishery has typically accounted for less than 25 percent of the total 
SNE/MA windowpane flounder catch in recent years. A large portion of 
the total SNE/MA windowpane flounder catch is caught by trawl vessels 
in non-groundfish fisheries fishing with mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 
cm) or greater. Thus, the current AM may not effectively restrict 
catches of this stock if the total ACL is exceeded, which increases the 
likelihood of consecutive overages in future fishing years.
    As a result, this action proposes to modify the AM so that it would 
also apply to the other sub-component (see Item 2 in this preamble). If 
the total ACL for this stock is exceeded by an amount greater than the 
management uncertainty buffer, and the ``other sub-component'' sub-ACL 
is also exceeded, then the area-based AM, described above, would apply 
to all trawl vessels using a codend with a mesh size of 5 inches (12.7 
cm) or larger. This measure would only be adopted if a SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder sub-ACL is allocated to the other sub-component of 
the fishery, as described above in this preamble. This revision would 
help ensure that, in the event of an overage, catches would be 
effectively restricted to prevent overfishing. In addition, this action 
would remove potential inequities that could occur if only the

[[Page 18194]]

commercial groundfish fishery was subject to an AM for SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder, even though its catches represent a small portion 
of the total catch for this stock.
    As implemented in Framework 47, the area-based AM for commercial 
groundfish vessels would be implemented only if the commercial 
groundfish fishery exceeds its sub-ACL and the total ACL is also exceed 
by an amount greater than the management uncertainty buffer. Similarly, 
if a sub-ACL is allocated to the scallop fishery (see Item 2 in this 
preamble), the scallop fishery's AM would only be implemented if the 
total ACL is exceeded and the scallop fishery sub-ACL is also exceeded.

Revised Handgear Permit AMs

    Amendment 16 implemented AMs for the common pool fishery that 
divide the annual common pool sub-ACL for allocated stocks into 
trimester TACs. When 90 percent of the trimester TAC for a stock is 
projected to be caught, the area where the stock is predominately 
caught will be closed, for the remainder of the trimester, to gear 
capable of catching that stock. Currently, hook gear is subject to the 
trimester TAC provisions for cod, haddock, white hake, and pollock. 
However, hook gear very rarely catches white hake, and makes up less 
than 1 percent of the total common pool catch of this stock each year. 
Therefore, this action proposes to exempt Handgear A and Handgear B 
permits from the white hake trimester TAC AM. This exemption would 
remain effective unless a future action modified this AM. Handgear A 
and B common pool vessels would still be subject to the trimester TAC 
for cod, haddock, and pollock.
    Framework 48 also proposes to authorize the Regional Administrator 
to exempt Handgear A and Handgear B common pool vessels from the 
trimester TAC provisions for other stocks if catch by these vessels is 
less than 1 percent of the total common pool catch of that species or 
stock. This determination would be made prior to the start of the 
fishing year, and would be implemented through procedures consistent 
with the APA. The trimester TAC AMs were designed to apply only to gear 
types that caught the pertinent stock. Therefore, this measure would 
allow modifications to the trimester TAC AMs in the future, should new 
information become available that shows handgear vessels rarely catch a 
stock or species, or the combined catch of these vessels is less than 1 
percent of the total common pool catch. This would increase the 
effectiveness of the common pool AMs, and would prevent potential 
inequities that may occur by applying an AM to vessels not responsible 
for catching, or exceeding, a trimester TAC.

7. Commercial Fishery Minimum Fish Sizes

    Framework 48 also proposes to reduce the minimum fish sizes for 
several groundfish stocks to reduce regulatory discards and increase 
revenue from catch. In the groundfish fishery, all catch, including 
landings and discards, are counted against ACLs. In the sector fishery, 
sector vessels are required to land all legal-sized fish of allocated 
stocks, but discards of sub-legal-sized fish are extrapolated from 
observed fishing trips and are also debited from a sector's ACEs. 
Similarly, regulatory discards on common pool trips are extrapolated 
from observed trips and counted against common pool trimester and 
annual catch limits. Commercial discards for most stocks are assumed to 
have 100-percent mortality, so 100 percent of discards for these stocks 
are deducted from quota allocations; thus, discards are lost revenue 
for groundfish vessels. Framework 48 proposes to reduce the minimum 
fish size for several groundfish stocks to reduce waste and allow the 
commercial industry to recoup some revenue from fish that would 
otherwise be discarded. This is intended partly as a measure to 
mitigate expected reductions in catch limits. The minimum size limits 
proposed in Table 3 are based on an analysis conducted by the 
Groundfish PDT of the size of discarded fish in trawl gear in recent 
years and the length at 50-percent maturity. The proposed changes would 
be expected to reduce many discards associated with the current minimum 
size restrictions, while allowing many fish to reach spawning age 
before being caught.

  Table 3--Proposed Changes to Minimum Fish Sizes Limits for Groundfish
                                 Stocks
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Current size       Proposed FW 48 size
           Species                  (inches)              (inches)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cod.........................  22 (55.9 cm)........  19 (48.3 cm).
Haddock.....................  18 (45.7 cm)........  16 (40.6 cm).
Pollock.....................  19 (48.3 cm)........  No change.
Witch flounder (gray sole)..  14 (35.6 cm)........  13 (33 cm).
Yellowtail flounder.........  13 (33.0 cm)........  12 (30.5 cm).
American plaice (dab).......  14 (35.6 cm)........  12 (30.5 cm).
Atlantic halibut............  41 (104.1 cm).......  No change.
Winter flounder (blackback).  12 (30.5 cm)........  No change.
Redfish.....................  9 (22.9 cm).........  7 (17.8 cm).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Biological impacts that might result from reduced minimum fish 
sizes depend on whether selectivity in the fishery shifts to smaller 
fish. If small fish become a greater proportion of total catch, yield 
per recruit, and Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) could decline and 
rebuilding progress could slow. To discourage targeting of smaller 
fish, this measure only reduces minimum sizes, rather than eliminating 
them altogether, and would not change minimum mesh size requirements. 
If this measure is approved, it is not clear whether state agencies 
would follow suit. Commercial groundfish vessels would continue to be 
subject to the most restrictive measure of state and federal minimum 
fish size requirements.

8. Sector Monitoring Programs

    Framework 48 proposes to revise the monitoring program requirements 
for groundfish sectors. Amendment 16 included requirements for sectors 
to design, implement, and pay for independent third-party monitoring 
programs to monitor sector catch at-sea and shoreside. Sectors were 
required to implement a dockside monitoring program to validate dealer-
reported landings, with 50-percent coverage of sector trips in FY 2010, 
and 20-percent coverage each year thereafter. Dockside monitoring was 
also set to be implemented for common pool vessels

[[Page 18195]]

in FY 2012. Amendment 16 also required sectors to establish an at-sea 
monitoring program beginning in FY 2012 with a coverage level to be 
specified by NMFS, but less than 100 percent of sector trips.
    To date, NMFS has voluntarily funded these programs for sectors. 
NMFS implemented its own at-sea monitoring program to monitor sectors 
and the common pool that has operated annually since FY 2010. In 2010, 
NMFS also reimbursed sectors for the costs of dockside monitoring. 
Shortly after the implementation of Amendment 16, the Council became 
concerned that the industry would not be able to support full 
responsibility for the costs of monitoring programs, beginning with 
dockside monitoring in 2011 and at-sea monitoring in 2012. Through 
Framework 45, the Council suspended the dockside monitoring 
requirements until FY 2013 and required dockside monitoring only to the 
extent that NMFS could fund it. In 2011, NMFS made the determination 
that dockside intercepts by enforcement personnel were sufficient to 
monitor sector landings and reprioritized financial support for 
dockside monitoring to alleviate general sector operating costs.

Delay Industry At-Sea Monitoring Cost Responsibility

    Currently, sectors are responsible for implementing industry-funded 
at-sea monitoring programs to monitor their fishing activities 
beginning May 1, 2013. With the substantial catch reductions proposed 
in Framework 50, the Council is concerned that the industry will not be 
able to support this cost burden in FY 2013. Framework 48 proposes to 
delay the industry's responsibility for at-sea monitoring costs to FY 
2014 to mitigate the expected negative economic impacts of lower catch 
limits in FY 2013. Coverage levels would instead be set at the level 
that NMFS can fund. This measure is being proposed for only 1 year so 
that the Council may further modify this requirement in the future as 
more information becomes available on the appropriate monitoring 
levels, costs of those programs, and implementation of electronic 
monitoring systems.
    NMFS understands fishermen's concerns about their ability to endure 
this cost burden, in part or in full, particularly at catch levels 
proposed by Framework 50. NMFS is committed to assisting the industry 
through this difficult time to the extent that it is able and is 
working on a plan to cover as much of these costs as possible. NMFS 
cannot definitively commit to fully funding sector monitoring, because 
of the high degree of uncertainty around a fiscal year 2013 budget. 
NMFS projects that if effort levels go down next year, NMFS would be 
able to fund sector at-sea monitoring. If effort remains the same, NMFS 
would only be able to fund at-sea monitoring by using funds currently 
slated for research to develop electronic monitoring in the Northeast.
    With respect to the proposed measure, however, NMFS has serious 
concerns that it does not meet the requirements of the FMP and the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, as previously expressed in letters and at Council 
meetings. Relying on NMFS appropriations to determine an at-sea 
monitoring coverage rate does not ensure that coverage will be 
sufficient to monitor sector annual catch entitlements (ACEs) or to 
meet the purpose and goals for sector monitoring described in Amendment 
16 and proposed by Framework 48. This same measure was proposed in 
Framework 45 and it was disapproved based on these same concerns. In a 
letter to the Council dated April 11, 2011, the Regional Administrator 
cited concerns that NMFS funding alone would not be sufficient to 
support coverage levels needed to monitor sector ACEs. NMFS did not 
have a 2012 budget at that time and sufficient NMFS appropriations 
could not be guaranteed. Without additional appropriations to support 
sector monitoring specifically, NMFS remains very concerned that 
relying solely on the Federal Government to provide sector at-sea 
monitoring coverage will undermine not only sector catch monitoring but 
also other programs. Inadequate coverage would also potentially affect 
the Standard Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) coverage requirements 
and information used to assess Northeast fish stocks by spreading 
existing resources too thin. Thus, NMFS has very serious concerns about 
the approvability of this measure. For that reason, NMFS has analyzed 
the needed at-sea monitoring coverage level for FY 2013 assuming that 
this measure is not approved.

At-Sea Monitoring Cost-Sharing

    Framework 48 also proposes a mechanism for sharing of at-sea 
monitoring costs between sectors and NMFS. Framework 48 proposes that 
the industry would only ever be responsible for paying the direct costs 
of at-sea monitoring, specifically the daily salary of the at-sea 
monitor. All other programmatic costs would be the responsibility of 
NMFS, including, but not limited to: Briefing, debriefing, training and 
certification costs (salary and non-salary); sampling design 
development; data storage, management and security; data quality 
assurance and control; administrative costs; maintenance of monitoring 
equipment; at-sea monitor recruitment, benefits, insurance and taxes; 
logistical costs associated with deployment; and at-sea monitor travel 
and lodging. This measure would increase profitability for sectors and 
sector vessels by reducing the cost burden of at-sea monitoring.
    This measure raises concerns about sharing payment of government 
obligations with private entities. Given this, the proposed at-sea 
monitoring cost sharing measure may not be sufficiently developed to 
approve at this time. NMFS believes that this approach to cost-sharing, 
however, could be viable if restructured and could be pursued through a 
future action. NMFS is currently working with the New England and Mid-
Atlantic Councils' joint Herring-Mackerel PDT/Fishery Management Action 
Team (FMAT) to pursue cost-sharing options such as this one for those 
fisheries for FY 2014. The Council may want to consider including the 
NE Multispecies FMP in this joint effort to develop a workable and 
consistent cost-sharing mechanism for the Northeast region.

Eliminate Dockside Monitoring

    Framework 48 also proposes to eliminate the dockside monitoring 
program for both the sectors and common pool. Like at-sea monitoring, 
the Council is concerned about the industry's ability to support this 
cost burden in FY 2013 and future years. Dealer-reported fish weights 
are used as the principle source to monitor commercial landings. Thus, 
dockside monitor reports may be redundant and not needed for landings 
information. Dealer reporting combined with dockside intercepts by 
enforcement personnel are potentially sufficient to monitor landings of 
sector catch at this time. Eliminating the program would reduce costs 
and increase profitability of the commercial industry in future years.
    Framework 48 proposes eliminating the dockside monitoring program, 
but it is not clear if this includes removing the current dockside 
monitoring hail requirements. NMFS believes it is important to maintain 
the trip-start and trip-end hail requirements for sector vessels at 
this time to facilitate the monitoring and enforcement of sector 
operations and landings. Amendment 16 required vessels to issue hails 
to their dockside monitoring providers at the start and end of a trip 
in order to facilitate the deployment of dockside monitors. Since then, 
however, hails have become a useful tool for both NMFS and sector 
managers to monitor sector vessels' activities, including the

[[Page 18196]]

use of certain sector exemptions, and to facilitate dockside intercepts 
by enforcement personnel. Framework 45 maintained the trip-end hail 
requirement strictly for enforcement purposes, while suspending all 
other dockside monitoring requirements. It was not clear from Framework 
45 whether trip-start hails may also be maintained when dockside 
monitoring requirements are eliminated. Trip-start hails are currently 
only required when using certain sector exemptions, as instructed by a 
vessel's sector operations plan or sector Letter of Authorization. If 
the dockside monitoring program is eliminated, NMFS intends to maintain 
this use of trip-start hails on an as-needed basis. Framework 45 also 
stipulated that NMFS is to reduce unnecessary duplication of hail 
reports with any other reporting requirements, to the extent possible. 
NMFS is clarifying the regulatory text of this proposed rule at Sec.  
648.10(k)(1), consistent with this provision, so that hails may be 
modified in the future to be streamlined with other reporting 
requirements that collect similar fishery data, such as Vessel Trip 
Reports (VTRs) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) catch reports.

Sector Monitoring Goals and Performance Standard

    Framework 48 also proposes to clarify the goals and objectives, and 
performance standard, established for sector monitoring programs by 
Amendment 16. Amendment 16 did not lay out explicit goals for sector 
monitoring, but described several general purposes for the programs, 
including to provide accurate estimates of sector catch and to verify 
area and gear fished, to ensure sector allocations are not exceeded. 
Framework 48 proposes to clarify and elaborate the goals and objectives 
for existing and future groundfish monitoring programs, to help the 
Council and NMFS to implement monitoring requirements consistent with 
the goals of the FMP and to evaluate the program in the future. 
Framework 48 proposes that groundfish monitoring programs improve 
documentation of catch, determining total catch and effort of regulated 
species, and achieve a coverage level sufficient to minimize effects of 
potential monitoring bias to the extent possible, while enhancing fleet 
viability. Monitoring programs should also reduce the cost of 
monitoring, streamlining data management and eliminating redundancy, 
exploring options for cost-sharing, while recognizing the opportunity 
costs of insufficient monitoring. Other goals and objectives include 
incentivizing reducing discards, providing additional data streams for 
stock assessments, reducing management and/or biological uncertainty, 
and enhancing the safety of the monitoring program. It would also be an 
explicit goal of such programs to periodically evaluate them for 
effectiveness. A detailed list of all the objectives for groundfish 
monitoring programs is available in Section 4.2.2.2 of Framework 48.
    Amendment 16 specified a performance standard that coverage levels 
must be sufficient to at least meet the coefficient of variation (CV) 
specified in SBRM (a CV of 30 percent). Since the implementation of the 
much expanded sector program in FY 2010, there have been questions 
raised about what level the CV standard is to be applied to--discard 
estimates at the stock level for all sectors, or for each combination 
of sector and stock. The former would result in lower coverage rates 
than the latter. Framework 48 proposes to clarify that the CV standard 
is intended to apply to discard estimates at the overall stock level 
for all sectors combined. The Council and NMFS believe this level is 
sufficient as a minimum standard for monitoring ACLs, consistent with 
the goals of Amendment 16 and the FMP. NMFS would use this standard to 
help determine the minimum coverage rates for sector at-sea monitoring 
programs in future fishing years. Note that, although the Framework 48 
document discusses the clarified standard with respect to ``allocated 
stocks,'' the proposed regulatory text would apply the CV standard to 
all groundfish stocks, allocated and non-allocated. This error was 
identified at the December 20th Council meeting, when the Council 
selected its preferred alternative. It was not clear at that time why 
the description of the CV standard was limited to allocated stocks, and 
the Council and NMFS have since been unable to identify a Council 
motion or other reason that would suggest the Council intended the CV 
standard not to apply to non-allocated stocks. NMFS and the Council 
have concluded that this was a simple oversight in the document and, 
thus, the Council has deemed the corrected regulatory text as 
consistent with its intent.
    Because Amendment 16 did not provide clear goals and objectives and 
a clear performance standard for sector monitoring programs, there is a 
lack of specific direction and specification about the appropriate 
level needed to ``accurately monitor sector operations.'' As described 
above, in addition to specifying the level to which the CV standard 
should be applied, Framework 48 proposes to clarify and specify what 
other factors should be taken into account in determining the 
appropriate level of coverage for groundfish monitoring programs. NMFS 
interprets these provisions as guidance based on a practicability 
standard for determining the level of at-sea monitoring coverage that 
is appropriate for monitoring sector operations to help ensure that 
overall catch by sector vessels does not exceed ACEs and ACLs. NMFS is 
proposing to revise the regulatory text with respect to sector 
monitoring requirements to reflect the clarified goals and performance 
standard for sector monitoring programs, and to take into account the 
National Standards and other requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
NMFS is proposing to revise the regulatory text at Sec.  
648.87(b)(1)(v)(B) to read that coverage levels must at least meet the 
CV standard at the overall stock level and be sufficient to monitor 
sector operations, to the extent practicable, in order to reliably 
estimate overall catch by sector vessels.
    In addition to the revised goals and objectives in Framework 48, 
NMFS will specifically take into account National Standards 2, 7, and 8 
in making its determination of the appropriate level of at-sea 
monitoring coverage for sectors on an annual basis. These National 
Standards specifically speak to using the best scientific information 
available, minimizing costs and avoiding unnecessary duplication where 
practicable, taking into account impacts on fishing communities, and 
minimizing adverse economic impacts to the extent practicable. NMFS 
explains how it has made its determination of the at-sea monitoring 
coverage for FY 2013 in the proposed rule to approve sector operations 
plans (78 FR 16220; March 14, 2013) and in a summary document posted at 
http://www.nero.noaa.gov/ro/fso/reports/Sectors/ASM/FY2013_Multispecies_Sector_ASM_Requirements_Summary.pdf.

Reduce At-Sea Monitoring for Monkfish Trips

    Lastly, Framework 48 proposes to implement a lower at-sea coverage 
rate for sector vessels fishing on a monkfish day-at-sea (DAS) in the 
SNE Broad Stock Area with extra-large mesh gillnets. Currently, sector 
monitoring requirements are defined to apply to any trip where 
groundfish catch counts against a sector's ACE. Because the Skate and 
Monkfish FMPs require the use of a DAS, including a groundfish

[[Page 18197]]

DAS, to target these species, sector vessels fishing for monkfish and 
skates are charged ACE for any landings or discards of groundfish and 
are subject to sector at-sea monitoring coverage on these trips. When 
truly targeting monkfish or skates, however, sector vessels often use 
gear that has little or no bycatch of groundfish. With limited 
resources for at-sea monitoring, covering trips targeting skate or 
monkfish is arguably a waste of resources and does not contribute to 
improving the overall precision and accuracy of discard estimates. 
Framework 48 proposes to exempt a subset of sector trips that are 
declared into the SNE Broad Stock Area on a monkfish DAS and using 
extra-large mesh gillnets from the standard at-sea monitoring coverage 
rate. NMFS would instead specify some lower coverage rate for these 
trips on an annual basis when determining coverage rates for all other 
sector trips. This measure would reduce at-sea monitoring costs to 
sectors, particularly to gillnet vessels that fall in this category. 
Lower coverage rates for this subset of trips could result in less 
precise discard estimates. The benefit of reducing at-sea monitoring 
coverage for these trips is that resources would be diverted to monitor 
trips that catch more groundfish, which could improve discard estimates 
for directed groundfish trips, and all other sector trips would still 
be required to meet the CV standard at a minimum.
    At a minimum, these trips would get Northeast Fishery Observer 
Program (NEFOP) coverage. At this time, NMFS has determined that 
sampling by NEFOP observers should be sufficient to monitor this subset 
of sector trips in FY 2013. NMFS will not be requiring any additional 
at-sea monitoring coverage on this sub-set of sector trips. A review of 
the data analyzed by the Groundfish PDT and in Framework 48 showed 
little to no catch of groundfish on sector trips under a monkfish DAS 
in the SNE Broad Stock Area and using extra-large mesh gillnets. A 
total of 1,209 lb (548 kg) of all groundfish species were landed, and 
16,670 lb (7,561 kg) discarded, across all sector trips using extra-
large mesh gillnets in SNE in FY 2010 and 2011 combined. NMFS believes 
that the same level of coverage provided to vessels on monkfish trips 
not burning a groundfish DAS, which use the same gear in the same areas 
at the same time with little catch of groundfish, should be sufficient 
to monitor this exemption. It is possible that changes in stock size or 
fishing behavior on these trips could change the amount of groundfish 
bycatch in future fishing year. However, given the type of gear used on 
these trips, a large change is unlikely. NMFS would use the data 
collected from this first year of coverage in determining the 
appropriate coverage level for this subset of trips for future fishing 
years. Because this subset of trips would have a different coverage 
level than other sector trips in the SNE Broad Stock Area, NMFS is 
intending to create separate discard strata for each stock caught on 
trips meeting the exemption criteria in order to ensure the different 
coverage levels do not bias discard estimates.
    To facilitate deploying appropriate coverage levels, a sector 
vessel would have to notify NEFOP as to whether it intends to fish on a 
monkfish DAS. Sector vessels already declare gear type and Broad Stock 
Area to be fished in the Pre-Trip Notification System (PTNS) and a 
modification to this system may be made to allow sector vessels to 
declare their DAS type. At this time, NMFS is still determining how the 
notification for this exemption would be made. If this measure is 
approved, NMFS will specify the method of notification in the final 
rule and in a Fishery Bulletin sent to all sector vessels. NMFS will 
make every effort to ensure it does not create duplicative reporting 
burdens for individual vessels. This measure would also require that 
NMFS develop a method for identifying these trips in the fishery 
dependent datasets in order to ensure they are appropriately stratified 
in stock assessments. The NMFS Northeast Regional Office is working 
with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to identify the appropriate 
method to transmit this information to assessment scientists. To assist 
NMFS in identifying these trips for appropriate stratification in 
discard estimates, NMFS is proposing to require sector vessels 
intending to use this exemption to submit a trip-start hail declaring 
their intent to NMFS before departing port. If this measure is 
approved, detailed instructions for submitting hails would be specified 
in a Fishery Bulletin distributed to sector vessels.
    To minimize the possibility that this measure would be used to 
avoid at-sea monitoring coverage, only vessels meeting the criteria and 
intending to fish exclusively in the SNE Broad Stock Area would be 
eligible for lower coverage. Vessels declaring multi-Broad Stock Area 
trips would not be eligible for the lower selection probability. In 
addition, a vessel is already prohibited from changing its fishing plan 
for a trip once a waiver from coverage has been issued. NMFS is 
proposing to revise the pre-trip notification regulations at Sec.  
648.11(k)(1) to make clear that a vessel's fishing plan includes the 
area to be fished, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and gear type 
to be used.

9. GB Yellowtail Flounder Management Measures

    Framework 48 proposes to change the stratification of discard 
estimates for sectors for GB yellowtail flounder. Both landings and 
discards are counted against sector ACEs, and once a sector reaches an 
ACE, it must cease fishing in the stock area for that particular stock 
until it can acquire more ACE through a transfer. Discards by sector 
vessels are estimated using an extrapolation from observed discards on 
observed trips. A discard rate is calculated for each ``stratum,'' or 
each combination of gear type and stock area for each sector. During 
the development of Framework 48, substantial quota reductions were 
being contemplated for GB yellowtail flounder and the Council became 
concerned that a low quota could be constraining on sectors. Even if 
some sector vessels were able to fish in deeper water, where little 
yellowtail flounder is caught, to reduce their GB yellowtail discards, 
GB yellowtail discards by vessels in the same sector fishing on other 
parts of GB would impact the discard rate for all vessels in the 
sector. Framework 48 proposes to split the GB yellowtail flounder 
discard strata between statistical area 522 and statistical areas 525/
561/562, so that sector discard rates more accurately reflect fishing 
effort in these areas. Sector vessels fishing in deeper water in 
statistical area 522 to avoid GB yellowtail flounder would get a GB 
yellowtail flounder discard rate generated from observed discards of GB 
yellowtail flounder on other vessels in their sector fishing in area 
522. This could extend the fishing season for sector vessels fishing 
this area, and thereby increase profits. On the other hand, change to 
stratification could increase GB yellowtail flounder discard rates for 
other parts of GB (statistical areas 525/561/562), reducing revenues 
for vessels fishing in these areas. There is a potential for this 
measure to create an incentive for sector vessels fishing inside and 
outside area 522 to misreport GB yellowtail catch from outside area 522 
as from inside area 522, potentially inflating area 522 GB yellowtail 
discard estimates and, thereby, negating any benefit of this measure.
    This measure proposes to make this change for all groundfish gears, 
although this is primarily an issue for trawl vessels. Framework 48 
would allow the Regional Administrator to determine whether this 
stratification is

[[Page 18198]]

unnecessary for other gears. For FY 2013, NMFS has determined that this 
finer stratification would not be practical or analytically sound for 
other gear types in sectors and is proposing to continue to calculate 
discard rates for non-trawl gear types for the entire GB yellowtail 
flounder stock area. NMFS reviewed VTR and dealer data from sector 
trips in the GB yellowtail flounder stock area using gillnets, 
longlines, and handgear from FY 2010 to the present. NMFS found that 
all trips utilizing gillnet gears occurred in statistical area 522 and, 
therefore, a separate stratum for gillnets would not change the 
estimated discard rates for area 522. In FY 2009, some gillnet trips 
occurred in other parts of GB, but re-estimating the discard rate for 
the areas 525/561/562 using this data would be based on past 
performance of vessels, which is not representative of the current 
sector fishing behavior. There have been a small number of trips inside 
and outside of area 522 using handgear and longline gear and the 
amounts of GB yellowtail flounder discarded from those trips have been 
minimal. From FY 2010 to date, there have been between 3 and 92 trips 
with an estimated 0.2 to 34 lb (0.09-15.4 kg) GB yellowtail discards 
total across all trips. NMFS believes further stratifying these small 
trip counts and discard amounts would result in less precise estimates 
of discards than the current stratification scheme for non-trawl gears. 
Common pool discard rates for GB yellowtail flounder would also 
continue to be calculated for the entire GB yellowtail flounder stock 
area because the small number of these trips would likely not be 
sufficient to estimate an in-season discard rate. This change is only 
being proposed for inseason quota monitoring of sector allocations and 
would not affect discard estimates used for stock assessments.

10. List of Allowable Sector Exemption Requests

    Amendment 16 allowed a sector to make requests to the Regional 
Administrator for exemption from some NE multispecies regulations as 
part of its annual sector operations plan. Exemption requests are 
considered in the review and approval of sector operations plans 
annually through a proposed and final rule. The proposed rule proposing 
approval of FY 2013 sector operations plans published in the Federal 
Register on March 14, 2013 (78 FR 16220). The rationale for allowing 
this, and typically for the approval of exemption requests by the 
Regional Administrator, is that sectors are subject to a hard TAC that 
limits overall fishing mortality resulting from sector operations, 
making certain other mortality or effort controls redundant. Removing 
redundant effort controls would provide operational flexibility and 
efficiency for sector vessels and possibly increase profitability. 
Amendment 16, and later Framework 47, identified a list of FMP measures 
that sectors could not request exemption from, including: Year-round 
closure areas; permitting restrictions (e.g., vessel upgrade limits, 
etc.); gear restrictions designed to minimize habitat impacts (e.g., 
roller gear restrictions, etc.); reporting requirements; and AMs for 
non-allocated stocks. Sectors were prohibited from requesting these 
exemptions because they serve multiple purposes and not necessarily act 
exclusively as mortality controls. Amendment 16 allowed for this list 
to be modified through framework action.
    Framework 48 proposes a change to the FMP that would allow sectors 
to submit limited requests for exemption from portions of year-round 
closure areas. Specifically, sectors could request exemption from the 
year-round groundfish mortality closures, except for where they overlap 
current or proposed habitat closed areas. These areas are defined as 
the existing habitat closed areas specified at Sec.  648.81(h) and the 
Fippennies Ledge area under consideration as a potential habitat 
management area in the Omnibus EFH Amendment currently under 
development by the Council. This limitation would maintain the purpose 
of existing habitat areas to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on 
EFH, and preserve the consideration of additional habitat areas, until 
such time as the Council chooses to modify them through implementation 
of the Omnibus EFH Amendment. Sectors also would not be exempt from the 
Western GOM Closed Area, where it overlaps with a GOM Rolling Closure 
Area in effect. At this time, the GOM Rolling Closure Area III overlaps 
the northeast corner of the Western GOM Closed Area, so sectors would 
not be allowed to request access to this portion of the Western GOM 
Closed Area during May. The Council further limited sector exemption 
requests to Closed Area I and II to February 16th through April 30th to 
protect spawning groundfish. This measure is proposed to help mitigate 
the expected reductions in FY 2013 catch limits by allowing sectors to 
potentially increase access to healthy groundfish stocks such as GB 
haddock, pollock, and redfish that may be more abundant in these areas.
    Council members, members of the public, the fishing industry, and 
environmental groups expressed a number of concerns during the 
development of Framework 48 with allowing additional access to 
groundfish closed areas. Some comments concerned the potential for this 
measure and any proposed sector exemptions to undermine measures under 
consideration in the Omnibus EFH Amendment. Concerns were also raised 
about impacts to protected species, spawning groundfish, and to other 
commercial species, like lobsters, from opening these areas to 
additional fishing effort. Some commenters also raised concerns that 
allowing groundfish vessels into these areas, mainly Closed Area II 
could increase gear conflicts between mobile and lobster gear. To 
address some of these issues, the Council imposed the limitations 
described above, excluding existing and potential habitat closed areas 
to preserve the process under way to evaluate these areas in the 
Omnibus EFH Amendment. The Council also took steps to continue 
protections for spawning groundfish by including seasonal restrictions 
on any sector exemptions.
    Framework 48 does not actually approve the exemptions needed to 
fish in these closed areas. The impacts of any actual fishing effort, 
including the concerns raised in public comments during the development 
of Framework 48, would be evaluated through the annual review and 
approval of sector operations plans and exemption requests for each 
fishing year. The Council has already asked that the specific issues 
raised during public comments be evaluated by NMFS in the consideration 
of any specific sector exemption requests. The sector exemption review 
and approval process also provides better opportunity to address 
specific concerns with the potential impact of actual sector proposals. 
The Regional Administrator may include stipulations and constraints on 
specific exemptions to facilitate the monitoring and enforcement of 
sector operations or as mitigation measures to address specific 
potential impacts.
    The Council's Closed Area Technical Team (CATT), which has been 
charged with working on permanent changes to the groundfish mortality 
closures to be included in the Omnibus EFH Amendment, conducted a 
comprehensive literature and data review of groundfish closed areas, 
which was used as the basis for the analysis of this administrative 
change in Framework 48. Due to data limitations and the fact that 
sector fishing effort is driven more by Catch Per Unit of Effort

[[Page 18199]]

(CPUE) and market conditions than effort controls, the CATT was unable 
to quantitatively model potential changes in fishing effort. The CATT 
conducted a qualitative assessment of probable effects on species that 
are likely to be affected by the proposed action, using swept-area 
estimates of biomass and other data collected from literature. The 
analysis concluded that there could be neutral to low negative impacts 
to some groundfish stocks that have derived benefits from the closed 
areas (i.e., haddock, winter flounder, cod) or where stock biomass was 
low and a substantial fraction of the stock would become vulnerable to 
fishing (i.e., cod and yellowtail flounder). Impacts to habitat and 
protected species are difficult to quantify, but would be expected to 
be neutral. Potentially allowing sector vessels to access these areas 
could have positive economic impacts to sector vessels and their 
communities, particularly if haddock catch can increase and provide 
additional revenue. However, increasing fishing effort in the closed 
areas could negatively impact future productivity. The CATT concluded 
that the magnitude of any change in fishing effort or catch that might 
result from potential sector exemption requests is difficult to predict 
and, therefore, the benefits and costs are highly uncertain.
    In anticipation of this change being approved for FY 2013, sectors 
submitted requests for exemptions from portions of the groundfish 
mortality closures in their FY 2013 operations plans this fall. Due to 
the need for additional time to analyze these new exemptions 
adequately, NMFS would be considering sector requests for exemption 
from closed areas in a separate rulemaking from the general approval of 
sector operations plans for FY 2013, if the proposed change in 
Framework 48 is approved. The closed area exemption requests would be 
considered as amendments to the sector operations plans through a 
proposed and final rule that would be available for public comment with 
an accompanying National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis. Any 
closed area exemption requests, if approved, would not be in place 
until after the start of the 2013 fishing year.

11. Requirement To Stow Trawl Gear While Transiting

    The regulations currently specify that fishing gear must be stowed 
in a specific way, as described at Sec.  648.23(b), when transiting 
closed areas to facilitate the enforcement of closed areas at sea. This 
measure proposes to remove this requirement for only trawl vessels on a 
groundfish trip. The Council believes that, with the use of VMS on all 
limited access multispecies vessels, the gear stowage requirements are 
no longer necessary for enforcement at sea. Groundfish vessels using 
non-trawl gear and vessels in other fisheries would still be required 
to stow their gear in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b) when transiting 
closed areas. This requirement would also still apply for stowing gear 
smaller than the minimum mesh size when transiting the Regulated Mesh 
Areas.
    The Groundfish Committee considered this measure after the 
Council's VMS/Enforcement Committee forwarded a recommendation to make 
modifications to the gear stowage requirements. What the Groundfish 
Committee put forward in Framework 48, however, was not the option that 
was proposed by the Council's VMS/Enforcement Committee and is in fact 
contrary to the VMS/Enforcement Committee's recommendations. The VMS/
Enforcement Committee discussed removing gear stowage requirements 
entirely, among several other alternatives, at its October 20 and 
November 29, 2011 meetings and, with input from the U.S. Coast Guard 
and NMFS enforcement personnel and General Counsel for Enforcement, 
concluded that gear stowage requirements are still necessary to enforce 
closed areas at sea. Thus, the VMS/Enforcement Committee recommended 
only modifications to the gear stowage regulations to address safety 
concerns and improve their effectiveness. Furthermore, the Council 
recommended the VMS/Enforcement Committee's recommended modifications, 
and not the measure proposed here in Framework 48, to the Mid-Atlantic 
Council for consideration in Mid-Atlantic FMPs. If the Mid-Atlantic 
Council were to act on the New England Council's letter, it could also 
result in inconsistent gear stowage requirements across FMPs, 
regardless of whether the proposed measure in Framework 48 is approved 
or not, due to the overlapping jurisdiction of the two Councils.
    NMFS has serious concerns about being able to enforce closed areas 
at sea without consistent and effective gear stowage provisions. 
Removing these requirements for only groundfish trawlers through 
Framework 48 would create inconsistent gear stowage requirements across 
FMPs, complicating enforcement and compliance. For example, it is not 
clear what requirements a vessel is supposed to follow when it is 
fishing under the regulations of multiple FMPs on the same trip, such 
as a joint monkfish/groundfish or scallop/groundfish DAS trip. The 
Coast Guard and NMFS enforcement personnel commented to the VMS/
Enforcement Committee that VMS is not sufficient to enforce the 
prohibition on fishing in closed areas without the gear stowage 
provisions. Abuse of this exemption by groundfish vessels or vessels 
participating in other fisheries could undermine the conservation 
objectives of closed areas, calling into question whether this measure 
is consistent with the FMP and the National Standards. It is also not 
clear why the Council exempted only groundfish vessels from the trawl 
gear stowage requirements and did not extend this exemption to vessels 
participating in its other FMPs. Applying this change to only 
groundfish vessels without a clear rationale for doing so raises equity 
concerns. NMFS specifically seeks comment on whether it should approve 
the proposed removal of the gear stowage requirement for trawl vessels 
in closed areas.

12. Correction to Eastern U.S./Canada Quota Monitoring

    Through this rule, NMFS is proposing a correction to the 
regulations governing fishing activity in the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. 
This change is only a regulatory correction and is unrelated to the 
measures proposed by Framework 48. The regulations at Sec.  
648.85(a)(3)(ii)(A) currently state that all catch of cod, haddock, and 
yellowtail flounder caught on a trip that fishes both inside and 
outside of the Eastern U.S./CA Area shall apply to the U.S./CA TACs (in 
the case of cod and haddock, the Eastern U.S./CA TACs). This method for 
quota monitoring was implemented through Framework 42 as a conservative 
way to estimate catch to ensure U.S./CA TACs would not be exceeded, 
while allowing vessels the flexibility to fish both inside and outside 
the Eastern U.S./CA Area on the same trip. Since the implementation of 
Framework 42, NMFS refined its quota monitoring methods to apportion 
catch inseason consistent with Framework 42 in order to determine when 
the Eastern U.S./CA Area should be closed, but then to re-apportion 
those catches of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder at the end of 
the fishing year using VTRs and VMS catch reports, when determining 
whether a U.S./CA TAC had been exceeded. With the implementation of 
Amendment 16, each sector and the common pool received allocations of 
Eastern U.S./CA stocks. Although Amendment 16 did not specifically 
address how allocations of Eastern U.S./Canada stocks should be 
monitored in

[[Page 18200]]

this new quota regime, NMFS' interpretation of Amendment 16 was that it 
intended statistical areas reported on VMS catch reports and VTRs to be 
used to apportion catch to specific stock allocations. Thus, NMFS began 
monitoring sector and common pool catch of GB cod, haddock, and 
yellowtail in this way beginning in FY 2010. Despite being clear about 
NMFS' interpretation in the Amendment 16 preamble, the original 
provision implemented by Framework 42 was inadvertently left in the 
regulations at Sec.  648.85 by the Amendment 16 final rule. NMFS is 
proposing to revise the regulations to remove the text that states all 
cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder on multi-area trips must be 
applied to Eastern U.S./CA allocations. NMFS has made the Council aware 
of its intent to correct the regulations (at a Groundfish Committee 
meeting and through this proposed rule), but the full Council has not 
had an opportunity to comment as to whether it believes this change is 
consistent with Amendment 16. Therefore, NMFS is specifically 
requesting comment from the public on this proposed correction to the 
regulations in this proposed rule.

13. Additional Corrections

    In addition to the changes specified above, the following changes 
are being proposed to the regulations to correct incorrect references 
and to further clarify the intent of the Council.
    In Sec.  648.4(a)(1)(ii), this rule would correct a misspelling of 
the word ``multispecies.''
    In Sec.  648.80(a)(3)(vii), this rule would clarify that rockhopper 
and roller gear requirements of the GOM/GB Inshore Restricted Roller 
Gear Area apply only to groundfish vessels on a NE multispecies DAS or 
sector trip. This correction is being made at the request of the 
Council, in response to a letter sent April 30, 2012.
    In Sec.  648.82(k)(2), language prohibiting sector vessels from 
leasing DAS would be removed. This language is left over from Amendment 
13 and should have been removed in the final rule implementing 
Amendment 16, which allowed sectors vessels to lease DAS among 
themselves.
    In Sec.  648.82(n)(2)(i), the rule would clarify that common pool 
trimester TAC area closures are intended to apply to common pool 
vessels using gear capable of catching groundfish only when on a NE 
multispecies DAS, and not when participating in exempted fisheries.
    In Sec.  648.82(n)(2)(ii)(A), this rule would correct the 
coordinates for the GB Cod Trimester TAC Area. Amendment 16 defined the 
area as being composed of statistical areas 521, 522, 525, and 561. 
However, the coordinates used to define the GB Cod Trimester TAC Area 
were incorrectly transposed in the Amendment 16 final rule and included 
statistical area 562; this would be rectified by this action.
    In Sec.  648.82(n)(2)(ii)(B), Points 4 and 5 incorrectly list the 
N. Lat. as 43[deg]20', and this action would correct them to read 
43[deg]10'.
    In Sec.  648.82(n)(2)(ii)(H) and (I), the original coordinate AP8 
was unnecessary and would be removed by this action.
    In Sec.  648.82(n)(2)(ii)(J), this rule would correct the 
coordinates for the GB Winter Flounder Trimester TAC Area. Amendment 16 
defined the area as being composed of statistical areas 522, 525, 561, 
and 562. However, the coordinates used to define the GB Winter Flounder 
Trimester TAC Area were incorrectly transposed in the Amendment 16 
final rule and did not include statistical areas 525 and 561; this 
would be rectified by this action.
    In Sec.  648.84(e), this rule would add a regulatory definition for 
the rope separator trawl. The definition for the rope separator was 
inadvertently removed from the regulations by the Framework 47 final 
rule. This rule would add the regulatory definition back into the 
regulations.
    In Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(ii)(A), the requirement to apply all catch of 
cod and haddock from a trip both inside and outside the Eastern US/CA 
area against the Eastern US/CA TACs would be removed. This method for 
quota monitoring was implemented through Framework 42 to ensure Eastern 
US/CA TACs would not be exceeded. With the implementation of Amendment 
16, sectors received individual allocations of Eastern US/CA stocks and 
catch was to be apportioned to specific stocks using statistical areas 
reported on VTRs. This measure was inadvertently left in the 
regulations by the Amendment 16 final rule and does not reflect the 
intent of Amendment 16 or how NMFS is currently monitoring Eastern US/
CA TACs.
    In 648.85(a)(3)(iv)(E), the regulations allow for the Regional 
Administrator to close the Eastern U.S./Canada Area to all vessels 
subject to a particular TAC allocation if that particular TAC 
allocation is projected to be caught. This proposed rule would clarify 
that this is only to apply to allocations to sectors and common pool 
vessels, and not the scallop fishery or other ACL components. Amendment 
16 and Framework 48 clarified that inseason and reactive accountability 
measures for sub-ACLs for non-groundfish components of ACLs are to be 
developed and administered by those respective FMPs.
    In Sec.  648.85(b)(7)(iv)(H) and (b)(8)(v)(F), an explicit 
reference to possession limits for other groundfish stocks, including 
stocks prohibited from being landed, in Sec.  648.86 would be added in 
the description of landings limits for the Closed Area I Hook Gear 
Haddock SAP and Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP.
    In Sec.  648.85(b)(8)(v)(C), the timing of the pre-trip 
notification to the observer program for a US/CA trip would be revised 
from 72 hr to 48 hr. Prior to Amendment 16, vessels taking trips into 
the U.S./Canada were required to notify the observer program of their 
intent to take a trip 72 hr prior to departure. With the implementation 
of Amendment 16, NMFS established a standardized call-in requirement to 
the observer program that reduced this lead time to 48 hr.
    In Sec.  648.85(d), a period that was incorrectly inserted after 
``NE'' would be removed.
    In Sec.  648.86(a)(3)(ii), periods that were incorrectly inserted 
after ``NE'' would be removed.
    In Sec.  648.86(a)(3)(ii)(A)(3), the table title for the GB Herring 
Haddock AM Area was incorrectly published as the GOM area. This rule 
would correct the table title.
    In Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(ii), sector stock area coordinates that were 
to be implemented by Framework 44 but were inadvertently left out of 
the regulations would added through this rule as paragraphs (A) through 
(F).
    In Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(iii), a period that was incorrectly inserted 
after ``NE'' would be removed.
    In Sec.  648.201(a)(2), the prohibition on landing of haddock is 
clarified to apply only to the haddock stock area for which the AM has 
been triggered. An explicit reference was added to the haddock 
possession restrictions in the NE multispecies regulations at Sec.  
648.86(a)(3)(ii)(A).

Classification

    Except for those measures identified as being problematic, NMFS has 
made a preliminary determination that the measures this proposed rule 
would implement are consistent with the NE Multispecies FMP, Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws. In making the final 
determination, NMFS will take into account the data, views, and 
comments received during the comment period.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
the purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.

[[Page 18201]]

    This proposed rule does not contain policies with Federalism or 
``takings'' implications as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and 
E.O. 12630, respectively.
    An Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as 
required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA, which includes this section of the preamble to this rule and 
analyses contained in FW 48 and its accompanying EA/RIR/IRFA, describes 
the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small 
entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and 
the legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this 
section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble.

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

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as 
one that is: independently owned and operated; not dominant in its 
field of operation; has annual receipts not in excess of $4.0 million 
in the case of commercial harvesting entities, or $7.0 million in the 
case of for-hire fishing entities; or if it has fewer than 500 
employees in the case of fish processors, or 100 employees in the case 
of fish dealers. This framework action impacts mainly commercial 
harvesting entities engaged in the limited access groundfish, as well 
as both the limited access general category and limited access scallop 
fisheries. Ownership data are available for the four primary sub-
fisheries potentially impacted by the proposed action from 2010 onward. 
These are the sector and common pool segments in the groundfish fishery 
and the limited access general category and limited access scallop 
fisheries. However, current data do not support a common ownership 
entity data field across years. For this reason, only 1 year's gross 
receipts are reported, and calendar year 2011 serves as the baseline 
year for this analysis. Calendar year 2012 data are not yet available 
in a fully audited form.
    In 2011 there were 1,370 distinct ownership entities identified. Of 
these, 1,312 are categorized as small and 58 are large entities as per 
SBA guidelines. These totals may mask some diversity among the 
entities. Many, if not most, of these ownership entities maintain 
diversified harvest portfolios, obtaining gross sales from many 
fisheries, and are not dependent on any one fishery. However, not all 
are equally diversified. Those that depend most heavily on sales from 
harvesting species impacted directly by the proposed action are most 
likely to be affected. A definition of dependence as deriving greater 
than 50 percent of gross sales from sales of either regulated 
groundfish or from scallops was used to identify those ownership groups 
most likely to be impacted by the proposed regulations. Using this 
threshold, 135 entities are groundfish-dependent, with 131 small and 4 
large. Forty-seven entities are scallop-dependent, with 39 small and 8 
large.

Measures Proposed To Mitigate Adverse Economic Impacts of the Proposed 
Action and Economic Impacts of Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    The measures proposed by Framework 48 include revision of status 
determination criteria, modification of management measures for GB 
yellowtail flounder, modification of management measures for at-sea 
monitoring, allowance of exemption requests from sectors to year-round 
closures, changes to minimum size restrictions for allocated fish, and 
modifications to AMs. Assuming all impacts to vessels are also 
applicable to ownership entities, all of the alternatives have the 
potential to impact a large number of small entities, and while some of 
the options may significantly alter profitability, none of them would 
have a disproportionate impact on small entities.
    The alternative to adopt new status determination criteria would 
impact the catch limits set for each species. If the revised status 
determination criteria result in much lower catch limits than under the 
no action alternative, then this alternative would likely significantly 
reduce fishing revenues. In order to be consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, however, it is necessary to incorporate the best available 
scientific information. The no action alternative would be inconsistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act because it would continue to use outdated 
stock assessment data; therefore, it is not the preferred alternative.
    Establishing sub-ACLs for SNE/MA windowpane flounder and for GB 
yellowtail flounder would impact both the groundfish and scallop 
fisheries by shifting accountability for overages or changing the 
method of sub-ACL calculation. SNE/MA windowpane sub-ACLs for the 
scallop and other sub-components fisheries would reduce the likelihood 
of an overage and overfishing, leading to lower operating costs and 
higher future revenues. The specific economic impacts to each 
respective fishery are dependent on the allocation received and details 
of the associated AMs, which have not been determined for the scallop 
fishery. If sub-ACLs are set below average yearly landings for a given 
fishery, and if AMs are severely restrictive, the impacted vessels 
could experience a substantial reduction in their profitability.
    The proposed modifications to the scallop fishery GB yellowtail 
flounder sub-ACL would use a fixed percentage to determine the scallop 
fishery allocation of the GB yellowtail--40 percent in FY 2013 and 16 
percent in each subsequent year. The economic impacts to fishing 
businesses would depend on the overall GB yellowtail flounder ABC and 
the probability of an overage, both of which are currently 
unquantifiable. The 16-percent fixed rate may be prohibitive to 
maximizing the value from scallop landings. In the worst-case scenario, 
if an overage occurred that closed a valuable access area to the 
scallop fishery, the scallop industry could suffer a $16.9 million 
dollar loss in economic benefits. An alternative to the proposed action 
would use a set 90 percent of estimated scallop catch as the 
determinant of the scallop sub-ACL. Since the allocation method of the 
alternative does not adjust for changes in the ABC, it could lead to a 
very low groundfish fishery sub-ACL for GB yellowtail flounder.
    The proposed measure to establish a small-mesh fishery sub-ACL for 
GB yellowtail flounder would use a fixed percentage, based on previous 
catch history, to set the allocation. This measure is expected to have 
similar impacts and unknowns as the other sub-ACLs, but with respect to 
the small-mesh groundfish vessels.
    Modifying the groundfish sector monitoring requirements would 
impact all sector vessels. The no action alternative would have a 
significant impact on sector vessels because they would be responsible 
for the full costs of operating at-sea and dockside monitoring programs 
in FY 2013, absent any additional funding assistance from NMFS. As 
discussed in Section 7.4.3.2 of the Framework 48 EA, had sector vessels 
been responsible for full monitoring costs in FY 2011, they would have 
seen aggregate vessel owners' shares of net revenue decrease by a range 
of 2 to 12 percent, and average net revenue per vessel decrease by a 
range of 1 to 12 percent. The highest percent reductions in net revenue 
were expected to occur in the 30 to 50 ft (9.1-15.2 m) vessel category. 
Since profitability of individual vessels is unknown, the effects of 
this option on participation levels could not be estimated, but it is 
likely that vessels

[[Page 18202]]

operating close to the margin would be forced to exit the industry or 
lease their quota. The proposed measures are designed to minimize the 
economic impact of monitoring requirements to sector vessels. The 
alternative to delay industry at-sea monitoring requirements for 1 year 
would provide short-term relief to sector vessels until FY 2014. The 
measure to reduce at-sea monitoring coverage for a subset of trips that 
catch little groundfish would be expected to lower the costs of those 
trips, and thus increase net revenues. The proposed cost-sharing 
provision is intended to reduce the overall cost of at-sea monitoring 
paid for by the industry. In FY 2010, the direct at-sea costs accounted 
for approximately 75 percent of the total per day costs for at-sea 
monitoring. Finally, removing dockside monitoring entirely in FY 2013 
is expected to have a substantial positive economic impact on sector 
vessels by lowering operating costs and thus increasing profitability. 
The magnitude of this impact would vary with coverage rates and labor 
costs.
    Modifying the minimum size limits for commercially allocated 
groundfish species would be expected to significantly impact sector 
vessels. The preferred alternative will lower the minimum size 
restrictions allowing a portion of previously wasted regulated discards 
to become landings. This alternative would be expected to a positive 
economic impact on net trip revenues, as more fish will be landed for 
the same amount of expended quota as under the no action alternative. 
The proposed action is preferred because it allows for increased 
revenues from slightly smaller fish, while minimizing the likelihood 
that vessels will target smaller fish when compared to the full 
retention option. Under either the reduced minimum sizes or full-
retention alternative, there could potentially be unforeseen 
consequences from targeting smaller fish that could have long-term 
negative impacts on future landings and revenue. Maintaining minimum 
mesh sizes may help to mitigate some of this effect. Modifying sector 
discard strata for GB yellowtail flounder in Federal statistical area 
522 has potential positive impacts on revenue for large trawl vessels 
that predominantly fish this area. Conversely, vessels that fish in the 
remaining areas of GB may experience reduced profitability because of 
higher discard rates.
    The proposed measure that would modify the timing of AMs for stocks 
not allocated to sectors would help to prevent overfishing, which could 
create long-term positive impacts. Under this option, AMs would not be 
implemented mid-season, which would be beneficial to business planning. 
There is, however, the potential for short-term decreases in revenue 
based on faster implementation of AMs. The proposed action would also 
create area-based AMs for Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolffish, and SNE/
MA winter flounder. In the event these AMs are triggered, trawl vessels 
would be forced to use selective gears within designated closure areas 
and fixed-gear vessels would be forced to cease fishing entirely inside 
designated closure areas. There is a detailed analysis provided in 
Section 7.5.3.7 of the draft Framework 48 EA. To summarize, the closed 
areas for halibut and wolffish generated estimated revenues in the 
range of $4 million to $5 million dollars in FY 2010 for trawl vessels, 
and around $1 million for fixed-gear vessels. However, given the 
uncertainty of VTR data used to conduct this analysis and the number of 
factors that affect effort re-distribution, it is not possible to 
quantify the net economic impact of this option currently. The proposed 
action would also exempt common pool vessels using handgear or tub 
trawls from inseason trimester closures for white hake, allowing them 
to continue fishing in closed areas. Depending on catch rates in the 
closed areas, the cost of fishing elsewhere, and the likelihood of AMs 
being triggered, this could increase revenues for these common pool 
vessels over the no action alternative.
    The proposed action and alternatives are described in detail in 
Framework 48, which includes an EA, RIR, and IRFA (See ADDRESSES).

Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    The proposed action contains a collection-of-information 
requirement subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement will be submitted to OMB for 
approval. The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict 
with any other Federal rules.
    This action proposes to adjust the sector at-sea monitoring pre-
trip notification and NEFOP notification implemented through Amendment 
16. This rule would add a question to allow fishermen to indicate what 
fishery they intend to participate in. This change is necessary to 
identify monkfish trips in Southern New England that may qualify for 
the exemption from sector at-sea monitoring coverage, in order to 
deploy at-sea monitors appropriately to achieve the coverage levels 
required by the FMP. Currently, all groundfish vessels make these 
notifications to the NEFOP through the PTNS or via an online form, a 
telephone call, or email to NEFOP. When sector at-sea monitoring 
programs become established, the pre-trip notification may be made to 
NEFOP or other at-sea monitoring provider, via a telephone call or 
email or through a secure database. The proposed change would only add 
a question to these notifications and would not affect the number of 
entities required to comply with these notification. Therefore, the 
proposed change would not be expected to increase the time or cost 
burden associated with either requirement.
    Public reporting burden for these requirements includes the time 
for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering 
and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 20, 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 stated 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
1. In Sec.  648.4, revise paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.4  Vessel permits.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Open access permits. A vessel of the United States that has 
not been issued and is not eligible to be issued a limited access 
multispecies permit is eligible for and may be issued an ``open access 
multispecies'', ``handgear'', or ``charter/party'' permit, and may fish 
for, possess on board, and land multispecies finfish subject to the 
restrictions in Sec.  648.88. A vessel that has been issued a valid 
limited access scallop permit, but that has not been issued a limited 
access multispecies permit, is eligible for and may be issued an open 
access scallop multispecies possession limit permit and may fish for, 
possess on board, and land multispecies finfish subject to the 
restrictions in Sec.  648.88. The owner of a

[[Page 18203]]

vessel issued an open access permit may request a different open access 
permit category by submitting an application to the Regional 
Administrator at any time.
* * * * *
0
2. In Sec.  648.7, remove and reserve paragraph (a)(4), remove 
paragraph (h); and redesignate paragraph (i) as paragraph (h), and 
revise paragraph (e)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.7  Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) At-sea monitor reports. Any record, as defined in Sec.  648.2, 
related to fish observed by an at-sea monitor, including any reports 
provided to NMFS, sector managers, or another third-party service 
provider specified in paragraph (h) of this section, must be retained 
and made available for immediate review for a total of 3 years after 
the date the fish were first observed. At-sea monitor providers must 
retain the required records and reports at their principal place of 
business.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  648.10, revise paragraph (k)(1)(iii) and add paragraph 
(k)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


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

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Trip-start hail report. If instructed by the Regional 
Administrator or required by a sector operations plan approved pursuant 
to Sec.  648.87(b)(2) and (c), the operator of a vessel must submit a 
trip-start hail report prior to departing port at the beginning of each 
trip notifying the sector manager and/or NMFS of the vessel permit 
number; trip ID number in the form of the VTR serial number of the 
first VTR page for that trip, or another trip identifier specified by 
NMFS; an estimate of the date and time of arrival to port; and any 
other information as instructed by the Regional Administrator. Trip-
start hail reports by vessels operating less than 6 hr or within 6 hr 
of port must also include estimated date and time of offload. The trip-
start hail report may be submitted via VMS or some other method, as 
instructed by the Regional Administrator or required by a sector 
operations plan approved pursuant to Sec.  648.87(b)(2) and (c). If the 
vessel operator does not receive confirmation of the receipt of the 
trip-start hail report from the sector manager or NMFS, the operator 
must contact the intended receiver to confirm the trip-start hail 
report via an independent back-up system, as instructed by the Regional 
Administrator. To the extent possible, NMFS shall reduce unnecessary 
duplication of the trip-start hail report with any other applicable 
reporting requirements.
    (iv) Trip-end hail report. Upon its return to port and prior to 
crossing the VMS demarcation line as defined in Sec.  648.10, the owner 
or operator of any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies 
permit that is subject to the VMS requirements specified in paragraph 
(b)(4) of this section must submit a trip-end hail report to NMFS via 
VMS, as instructed by the Regional Administrator. The trip-end hail 
report must include at least the following information, as instructed 
by the Regional Administrator: The vessel permit number; VTR serial 
number, or other applicable trip ID specified by NMFS; intended 
offloading location(s), including the dealer name/offload location, 
port/harbor, and state for the first dealer/facility where the vessel 
intends to offload catch and the port/harbor, and state for the second 
dealer/facility where the vessel intends to offload catch; estimated 
date/time of arrival; estimated date/time of offload; and the estimated 
total amount of all species retained, including species managed by 
other FMPs (in pounds, landed weight), on board at the time the vessel 
first offloads its catch from a particular trip. The trip-end hail 
report must be submitted at least 6 hr in advance of landing for all 
trips of at least 6 hr in duration or occurring more than 6 hr from 
port. For shorter trips, the trip-end hail reports must be submitted 
upon the completion of the last tow or hauling of gear, as instructed 
by the Regional Administrator. To the extent possible, NMFS shall 
reduce unnecessary duplication of the trip-end hail reports with any 
other applicable reporting requirements.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  648.11, revise paragraphs (k)(1) and (2), and add paragraph 
(l) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.11  At-sea sampler/observer coverage.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (1) Pre-trip notification. Unless otherwise specified in this 
paragraph (k), or notified by the Regional Administrator, the owner, 
operator, or manager of a vessel (i.e., vessel manager or sector 
manager) issued a limited access NE multispecies permit that is fishing 
under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip, as defined in this 
part, must provide advanced notice to NMFS of the vessel name, permit 
number, and sector to which the vessel belongs, if applicable; contact 
name and telephone number for coordination of observer deployment; 
date, time, and port of departure; and the vessel's trip plan, 
including area to be fished, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and 
gear type to be used at least 48 hr prior to departing port on any trip 
declared into the NE multispecies fishery pursuant to Sec.  648.10 or 
Sec.  648.85, as instructed by the Regional Administrator, for the 
purposes of selecting vessels for observer deployment. For trips 
lasting 48 hr or less in duration from the time the vessel leaves port 
to begin a fishing trip until the time the vessel returns to port upon 
the completion of the fishing trip, the vessel owner, operator, or 
manager may make a weekly notification rather than trip-by-trip calls. 
For weekly notifications, a vessel must notify NMFS by 0001 hr of the 
Friday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that it intends to 
complete at least one NE multispecies DAS or sector trip during the 
following week and provide the date, time, port of departure, area to 
be fished, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and gear type to be 
used for each trip during that week. Trip notification calls must be 
made no more than 10 days in advance of each fishing trip. The vessel 
owner, operator, or manager must notify NMFS of any trip plan changes 
at least 24 hr prior to vessel departure from port. A vessel may not 
begin the trip without being issued an observer notification or a 
waiver by NMFS.
    (2) Vessel selection for observer coverage. NMFS shall notify the 
vessel owner, operator, or manager whether the vessel must carry an 
observer, or if a waiver has been granted, for the specified trip 
within 24 hr of the vessel owner's, operator's or manager's 
notification of the prospective trip, as specified in paragraph (k)(1) 
of this section. All trip notifications shall be issued a unique 
confirmation number. A vessel may not fish on a NE multispecies DAS or 
sector trip with an observer waiver confirmation number that does not 
match the trip plan that was called in to NMFS. Confirmation numbers 
for trip notification calls are valid for 48 hr from the intended sail 
date. If a trip is interrupted and returns to port due to bad weather 
or other circumstance beyond the operator's control, and goes back out 
within 48 hr, the same confirmation number and observer status remains. 
If the layover time is greater than 48 hr, a new trip notification must 
be made by the

[[Page 18204]]

operator, owner, or manager of the vessel.
    (l) NE multispecies monitoring program goals and objectives. 
Monitoring programs established for the NE multispecies are to be 
designed and evaluated consistent with the following goals and 
objectives:
    (1) Improve documentation of catch:
    (i) Determine total catch and effort, for each sector and common 
pool, of target or regulated species; and
    (ii) Achieve coverage level sufficient to minimize effects of 
potential monitoring bias to the extent possible while maintaining as 
much flexibility as possible to enhance fleet viability.
    (2) Reduce the cost of monitoring:
    (i) Streamline data management and eliminate redundancy;
    (ii) Explore options for cost-sharing and deferment of cost to 
industry; and
    (iii) Recognize opportunity costs of insufficient monitoring.
    (3) Incentivize reducing discards:
    (i) Determine discard rate by smallest possible strata while 
maintaining cost-effectiveness; and
    (ii) Collect information by gear type to accurately calculate 
discard rates.
    (4) Provide additional data streams for stock assessments:
    (i) Reduce management and/or biological uncertainty; and
    (ii) Perform biological sampling if it may be used to enhance 
accuracy of mortality or recruitment calculations.
    (5) Enhance safety of monitoring program.
    (6) Perform periodic review of monitoring program for 
effectiveness.
0
5. In Sec.  648.14, revise paragraph (e)(1); remove paragraph 
(k)(14)(x); redesignate paragraphs (k)(14)(xi) and (xii) as paragraphs 
(k)(14)(x) and (xi), respectively; revise the newly redesignated 
paragraphs, remove and reserve paragraphs (k)(18)(i)(B) through (D); 
and revise paragraphs (k)(19) introductory text, (k)(19)(i), and 
(k)(20), to read as follows:


Sec.  648.14  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (1) Assault, resist, oppose, impede, harass, intimidate, or 
interfere with or bar by command, impediment, threat, or coercion any 
NMFS-approved observer or sea sampler conducting his or her duties; any 
authorized officer conducting any search, inspection, investigation, or 
seizure in connection with enforcement of this part; any official 
designee of the Regional Administrator conducting his or her duties, 
including those duties authorized in Sec.  648.7(g).
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (14) * * *
    (x) Leave port to begin a trip before an at-sea monitor has arrived 
and boarded the vessel or before electronic monitoring equipment has 
been properly installed if assigned to carry either an at-sea monitor 
or electronic monitoring equipment for that trip, as prohibited by 
Sec.  648.87(b)(5)(iii)(A).
    (xi) Leave port to begin a trip if a vessel has failed a review of 
safety issues by an at-sea monitor and has not successfully resolved 
any identified safety deficiencies, as prohibited by Sec.  
648.87(b)(5)(iv)(A).
* * * * *
    (19) At-sea/electronic monitoring service providers. It is unlawful 
for any at-sea/electronic monitoring service provider, including 
individual at-sea monitors, to do any of the following:
    (i) Fail to comply with the operational requirements, including the 
recordkeeping and reporting requirements, specified in Sec.  
648.87(b)(5).
* * * * *
    (20) AMs for both stocks of windowpane flounder, ocean pout, 
Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolffish, and SNE/MA winter flounder. It is 
unlawful for any person, including any owner or operator of a vessel 
issued a valid Federal NE multispecies permit or letter under Sec.  
648.4(a)(1)(i), unless otherwise specified in Sec.  648.17, to fail to 
comply with the restrictions on fishing and gear specified in Sec.  
648.90(a)(5)(i)(D).
* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  648.80, revise paragraph (a)(3)(vii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.80  NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on 
gear and methods of fishing.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (vii) Rockhopper and roller gear restrictions. For all trawl 
vessels fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip in the GOM/GB 
Inshore Restricted Roller Gear Area, the diameter of any part of the 
trawl footrope, including discs, rollers, or rockhoppers, must not 
exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm). The GOM/GB Inshore Restricted Roller Gear 
Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in 
the order stated:

                   Inshore Restricted Roller Gear Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]00'           (\1\)
2..............................  42[deg]00'           (\2\)
3..............................  42[deg]00'           (\3\)
4..............................  42[deg]00'           69[deg]50'
5..............................  43[deg]00'           69[deg]50'
6..............................  43[deg]00'           70[deg]00'
7..............................  43[deg]30'           70[deg]00'
8..............................  43[deg]30'           (\4\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Massachusetts shoreline.
\2\ Cape Cod shoreline on Cape Cod Bay.
\3\ Cape Cod shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean.
\4\ Maine shoreline.

* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  648.81, revise paragraphs (b)(2)(iv), (h)(2)(i), (j)(2)(i), 
(k)(2)(i), (l)(2)(i), and (m)(2)(i) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.81  NE multispecies closed areas and measures to protect EFH.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) Transiting the area on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip 
with only trawl gear onboard, or with its gear stowed in accordance 
with the provisions of Sec.  648.23(b); and
    (A) The operator has determined, and a preponderance of available 
evidence indicates, that there is a compelling safety reason; or
    (B) The vessel has declared into the Eastern U.S./Canada Area as 
specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(ii) and is transiting CA II in 
accordance with the provisions of Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(vii).
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Transiting.--(A) Unless otherwise restricted or specified in 
this paragraph (h)(2)(i)(A) or (h)(2)(i)(B), a vessel may transit CA I, 
the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area, the Cashes Ledge Closed Area, the 
Western GOM Closure Area, the GOM Rolling Closure Areas, the GB 
Seasonal Closure Area, the EFH Closure Areas, and the GOM Cod Spawning 
Protection Area, as defined in paragraphs (a)(1), (c)(1), (d)(1), 
(e)(1), (f)(1), (g)(1), (h)(1), and (o)(1) of this section, 
respectively, provided that its gear is stowed in accordance with the 
provisions of Sec.  648.23(b). A vessel may transit CA II, as defined 
in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, in accordance with paragraph 
(b)(2)(iv) of this section. Private recreational or charter/party 
vessels fishing under the Northeast multispecies provisions specified 
at Sec.  648.89 may transit the GOM Cod Spawning Protection Area, as 
defined in paragraph (o)(1) of this section, provided all bait and 
hooks are removed from fishing rods, and any regulated species on board 
have been caught outside the GOM Cod Spawning

[[Page 18205]]

Protection Area and has been gutted and stored.
    (B) A trawl vessel on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip may 
transit these areas without stowing its gear.
* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Mobile gear. From October 1 through June 15, no fishing vessel 
with mobile gear or person on a fishing vessel with mobile gear may 
fish or be in Restricted Gear Area I, unless transiting. A vessel with 
mobile gear on board may transit this area, provided that it is on a NE 
multispecies DAS or sector trip or its gear is stowed in accordance 
with the provisions of Sec.  648.23(b).
* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Mobile gear. From November 27 through June 15, no fishing 
vessel with mobile gear aboard, or person on a fishing vessel with 
mobile gear aboard, may fish or be in Restricted Gear Area II, unless 
transiting. A vessel with mobile gear on board may transit this area, 
provided that it is on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip or its gear 
is stowed in accordance with the provisions of Sec.  648.23(b).
* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Mobile gear. From June 16 through November 26, no fishing 
vessel with mobile gear aboard, or person on a fishing vessel with 
mobile gear aboard, may fish or be in Restricted Gear Area III, unless 
transiting. A vessel with mobile gear on board may transit this area, 
provided that it is on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip or its gear 
is stowed in accordance with the provisions of Sec.  648.23(b).
* * * * *
    (m) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Mobile gear. From June 16 through September 30, no fishing 
vessel with mobile gear aboard, or person on a fishing vessel with 
mobile gear aboard may fish or be in Restricted Gear Area IV, unless 
transiting. A vessel with mobile gear on board may transit this area, 
provided that it is on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip or its gear 
is stowed in accordance with the provisions of Sec.  648.23(b).
* * * * *
0
8. Section 648.82 is amended as follows:
0
A. Remove paragraph (n)(2)(iv);
0
B. Redesignate paragraphs (n)(2)(v) and (n)(2)(vi) as paragraphs 
(n)(2)(iv) and (n)(2)(v);
0
C. Revise paragraphs (k)(2)(i), (n)(1) introductory text, (n)(2)(ii) 
introductory text, (n)(2)(ii)(A) and (B), (n)(2)(ii)(H) through (J), 
and (n)(2)(ii)(M); and
0
D. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (n)(2)(v).
    The revised text read as follows:


Sec.  648.82  Effort-control program for NE multispecies limited access 
vessels.

* * * * *
    (k) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) A vessel issued a valid limited access NE multispecies permit 
is eligible to lease Category A DAS to or from another such vessel, 
subject to the conditions and requirements of this part, unless the 
vessel was issued a valid Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified 
under paragraphs (b)(5) and (6) of this section, respectively.
* * * * *
    (n) * * *
    (1) Differential DAS counting AM for fishing years 2010 and 2011. 
Unless otherwise specified pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(5), based upon 
catch and other information available to NMFS by February of each year, 
the Regional Administrator shall project the catch of regulated species 
or ocean pout by common pool vessels for the fishing year ending on 
April 30 to determine whether such catch will exceed any of the sub-
ACLs specified for common pool vessels pursuant to Sec.  
648.90(a)(4)(iii). This initial projection of common pool catch shall 
be updated shortly after the end of each fishing year, once information 
becomes available regarding the catch of regulated species and ocean 
pout by vessels fishing for groundfish in state waters outside of the 
FMP, vessels fishing in exempted fisheries, and vessels fishing in the 
Atlantic sea scallop fishery; and the catch of Atlantic halibut, SNE/MA 
winter flounder, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and Atlantic wolffish 
by sector vessels to determine if excessive catch by such vessels 
resulted in the overall ACL for a particular stock to be exceeded. If 
such catch resulted in the overall ACL for a particular stock being 
exceeded, the common pool's catch of that stock shall be increased by 
an amount equal to the amount of the overage of the overall ACL for 
that stock multiplied by the common pool's share of the overall ACL for 
that stock calculated pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(4)(iii)(H)(2). For 
example, if the 2010 overall ACL for GOM cod was exceeded by 10,000 lb 
(4,536 kg) due to excessive catch of that stock by vessels fishing in 
state waters outside the FMP, and the common pool's share of the 2010 
overall GOM cod ACL was 5 percent, then the common pool's 2010 catch of 
GOM cod shall be increased by 500 lb (226.8 kg) (10,000 lb (4,536 kg) x 
0.05 of the overall GOM cod ACL). If, based on the initial projection 
completed in February, the Regional Administrator projects that any of 
the sub-ACLs specified for common pool vessels will be exceeded or 
underharvested, the Regional Administrator shall implement a 
differential DAS counting factor to all Category A DAS used within the 
stock area in which the sub-ACL was exceeded or underharvested, as 
specified in paragraph (n)(1)(i) of this section, during the following 
fishing year, in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure 
Act. Any differential DAS counting implemented at the start of the 
fishing year will be reevaluated and recalculated, if necessary, once 
updated information is obtained. The differential DAS counting factor 
shall be based upon the projected proportion of the sub-ACL of each NE 
multispecies stock caught by common pool vessels, rounded to the 
nearest even tenth, as specified in paragraph (n)(1)(ii) of this 
section, unless otherwise specified pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(5). For 
example, if the Regional Administrator projects that common pool 
vessels will catch 1.18 times the sub-ACL for GOM cod during fishing 
year 2010, the Regional Administrator shall implement a differential 
DAS counting factor of 1.2 to all Category A DAS used by common pool 
vessels only within the Inshore GOM Differential DAS Area during 
fishing year 2011 (i.e., Category A DAS will be charged at a rate of 
28.8 hr for every 24 hr fished--1.2 times 24-hr DAS counting). If it is 
projected that catch in a particular fishing year will exceed or 
underharvest the sub-ACLs for several regulated species stocks within a 
particular stock area, including both exceeding and underharvesting 
several sub-ACLs within a particular stock area, the Regional 
Administrator shall implement the most restrictive differential DAS 
counting factor derived from paragraph (n)(1)(ii) of this section for 
the sub-ACLs exceeded or underharvested to any Category A DAS used by 
common pool vessels within that particular stock area. For example, if 
it is projected that common pool vessels will be responsible for 1.2 
times the GOM cod sub-ACL and 1.1 times the CC/GOM yellowtail flounder 
sub-ACL, the Regional Administrator shall implement a differential DAS 
counting factor of 1.2 to any Category A DAS fished by common pool 
vessels only within the Inshore GOM Differential

[[Page 18206]]

DAS Area during the following fishing year. For any differential DAS 
counting factor implemented in fishing year 2011, the differential DAS 
counting factor shall be applied against the DAS accrual provisions 
specified in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section for the time spent 
fishing in the applicable differential DAS counting area based upon the 
first VMS position into the applicable differential DAS counting area 
and the first VMS position outside of the applicable differential DAS 
counting area, pursuant to Sec.  648.10. For example, if a vessel 
fished 12 hr inside a differential DAS counting area where a 
differential DAS counting factor of 1.2 would be applied, and 12 hr 
outside of the differential DAS counting area, the vessel would be 
charged 48 hr of DAS use because DAS would be charged in 24-hr 
increments ((12 hr inside the area x 1.2 = 14.4 hr) + 12 hr outside the 
area, rounded up to the next 24-hr increment to determine DAS charged). 
For any differential DAS counting factor implemented in fishing year 
2012, the differential DAS counting factor shall be applied against the 
DAS accrual provisions in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section, or if a 
differential DAS counting factor was implemented for that stock area 
during fishing year 2011, against the DAS accrual rate applied in 
fishing year 2011. For example, if a differential DAS counting factor 
of 1.2 was applied to the Inshore GOM Differential DAS Area during 
fishing year 2011 due to a 20-percent overage of the GOM cod sub-ACL, 
yet the GOM cod sub-ACL was exceeded again, but by 50 percent during 
fishing year 2011, an additional differential DAS factor of 1.5 would 
be applied to the DAS accrual rate applied during fishing year 2012 
(i.e., the DAS accrual rate in the Inshore GOM Differential DAS 
Counting Area during fishing year 2012 would be 43.2 hr charged for 
every 24-hr fished--1.2 x 1.5 x 24-hr DAS charge). If the Regional 
Administrator determines that similar DAS adjustments are necessary in 
all stock areas, the Regional Administrator will adjust the ratio of 
Category A:Category B DAS specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section 
to reduce the number of available Category A DAS available based upon 
the amount of the overage, rather than apply a differential DAS 
counting factor to all Category A DAS used in all stock areas.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Stock area closures. Unless otherwise specified in this 
paragraph (n)(2)(ii), if the Regional Administrator projects that 90 
percent of the trimester TACs specified in paragraph (n)(2)(i) of this 
section will be caught based upon available information, the Regional 
Administrator shall close the area where 90 percent of the catch for 
each such stock occurred to all common pool vessels on a NE 
multispecies DAS using gear capable of catching such stocks for the 
remainder of that trimester, as specified in paragraphs (n)(2)(ii)(A) 
through (N) of this section, in a manner consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act. For example, if the Regional 
Administrator projects that 90 percent of the CC/GOM yellowtail 
flounder Trimester 1 TAC will be caught, common pool vessels using 
trawl and gillnet gear shall be prohibited from fishing in the CC/GOM 
Yellowtail Flounder Closure Area specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii)(G) 
of this section until the beginning of Trimester 2 on September 1 of 
that fishing year. Based upon all available information, the Regional 
Administrator is authorized to expand or narrow the areas closed under 
this paragraph (n)(2)(ii) in a manner consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act. If it is not possible to identify an area 
where only 90 percent of the catch occurred, the Regional Administrator 
shall close the smallest area possible where greater than 90 percent of 
the catch occurred. Common pool vessels holding either a Handgear A or 
B permit and fishing with handgear or tub trawls are exempt from stock 
area closures for white hake. The Regional Administrator may exempt 
Handgear A and B permitted vessels from stock area closures for other 
stocks pursuant to this paragraph (n)(2)(ii) if it is determined that 
catches of the respective species or stock by these vessels are less 
than 1 percent of the common pool catch of that species or stock. The 
Regional Administrator shall make such determination prior to the start 
of the fishing year through a notice published in the Federal Register, 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, and any such 
determination shall remain in effect until modified.
    (A) GB Cod Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the trimester 
TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this section, the 
GB Cod Trimester TAC Area shall apply to common pool vessels using 
trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear within the area 
bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order 
stated:

                        GB Cod Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           (\1\)
3..............................  41[deg]50'           (\1\)
4..............................  41[deg]50'           67[deg]40'
5..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
6..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]10'
7..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]10'
8..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]00'
9..............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]00'
10.............................  40[deg]50'           66[deg]50'
11.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]50'
12.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]40'
13.............................  39[deg]50'           66[deg]40'
14.............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
15.............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]50'
16.............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
17.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
18.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
19.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
20.............................  41[deg]20'           (\2\)
21.............................  (\3\)                70[deg]00'
22.............................  (\4\)                70[deg]00'
23.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\2\ East-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\3\ North-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\4\ South-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.
\5\ North-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.

    (B) GOM Cod Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the trimester 
TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this section, the 
GOM Cod Trimester TAC Area shall apply to common pool vessels using 
trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear within the area 
bounded on the south, west, and north by the shoreline of the United 
States and bounded on the east by straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated:

                       GOM Cod Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                69[deg]20'
2..............................  43[deg]40'           69[deg]20'
3..............................  43[deg]40'           69[deg]00'
4..............................  43[deg]10'           69[deg]00'
5..............................  43[deg]10'           69[deg]10'
6..............................  43[deg]00'           69[deg]10'
7..............................  43[deg]00'           69[deg]20'
8..............................  42[deg]50'           69[deg]20'
9..............................  42[deg]50'           69[deg]40'
10.............................  42[deg]20'           69[deg]40'
11.............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
12.............................  (\2\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection with ME shoreline.
\2\ North-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.

* * * * *
    (H) American Plaice Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the 
trimester TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this 
section, the American Plaice Trimester TAC Area shall apply to common 
pool vessels using trawl gear within the area bounded by straight

[[Page 18207]]

lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

                   American Plaice Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                68[deg]00'
2..............................  44[deg]10'           67[deg]50'
3..............................  44[deg]00'           67[deg]50'
4..............................  44[deg]00'           67[deg]40'
5..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
6..............................  42[deg]53.1'         67[deg]44.4'
7..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
8..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
9..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]10'
10.............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]10'
11.............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]00'
12.............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]00'
13.............................  40[deg]50'           66[deg]50'
14.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]50'
15.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]40'
16.............................  39[deg]50'           66[deg]40'
17.............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
18.............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]50'
19.............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
20.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
21.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
22.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
23.............................  41[deg]20'           (\3\)
24.............................  (\4\)                70[deg]00'
25.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection with ME shoreline.
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\3\ East-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\4\ North-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\5\ South-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.

    (I) Witch Flounder Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the 
trimester TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this 
section, the Witch Flounder Trimester TAC Area shall apply to common 
pool vessels using trawl gear within the area bounded by straight lines 
connecting the following points in the order stated:

                    Witch Flounder Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                68[deg]00'
2..............................  44[deg]10'           67[deg]50'
3..............................  44[deg]00'           67[deg]50'
4..............................  44[deg]00'           67[deg]40'
5..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
6..............................  42[deg]53.1'         67[deg]44.4'
7..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
8..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
9..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]10'
10.............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]10'
11.............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]00'
12.............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]00'
13.............................  40[deg]50'           66[deg]50'
14.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]50'
15.............................  40[deg]40'           66[deg]40'
16.............................  39[deg]50'           66[deg]40'
17.............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
18.............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]50'
19.............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
20.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
21.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
22.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
23.............................  41[deg]20'           (\3\)
24.............................  (\4\)                70[deg]00'
25.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection with ME shoreline.
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\3\ East-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\4\ North-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
\5\ South-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.

    (J) GB Winter Flounder Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the 
trimester TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this 
section, the GB Winter Flounder Trimester TAC Area shall apply to 
common pool vessels using trawl gear within the area bounded by 
straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

                  GB Winter Flounder Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]20'           68[deg]50'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           (\1\)
3..............................  40[deg]30'           (\1\)
4..............................  40[deg]30'           66[deg]40'
5..............................  39[deg]50'           66[deg]40'
6..............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.

* * * * *
    (M) White Hake Trimester TAC Area. For the purposes of the 
trimester TAC AM closure specified in paragraph (n)(2)(ii) of this 
section, the White Hake Trimester TAC Area shall apply to common pool 
vessels using trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear, 
except for Handgear A and B permitted vessels using handgear or tub 
trawls, within the area bounded by straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated:

                      White Hake Trimester TAC Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                69[deg]20'
2..............................  43[deg]40'           69[deg]20'
3..............................  43[deg]40'           69[deg]00'
4..............................  43[deg]20'           69[deg]00'
5..............................  43[deg]20'           67[deg]40'
6..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
7..............................  42[deg]53.1'         67[deg]44.4'
8..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
9..............................  41[deg]20'           67[deg]40'
10.............................  41[deg]20'           68[deg]10'
11.............................  41[deg]10'           68[deg]10'
12.............................  41[deg]10'           68[deg]20'
13.............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]20'
14.............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
15.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
16.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
17.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
18.............................  41[deg]20'           (\3\)
19.............................  (\4\)                70[deg]00'
20.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Intersection with ME shoreline.
(2) U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
(3) East-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
(4) North-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA.
(5) South-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA.

* * * * *
    (v) Trip limit adjustment. When 60 percent of the northern or 
southern windowpane flounder, ocean pout, or Atlantic halibut sub-ACLs 
specified for common pool vessels pursuant to Sec.  
648.90(a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) is projected to be caught, the Regional 
Administrator may specify, consistent with the APA, a possession limit 
for these stocks that is calculated to prevent the yearly sub-ACL from 
being exceeded prior to the end of the fishing year.
* * * * *
0
9. In Sec.  648.83, revise paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.83  Multispecies minimum fish sizes.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Minimum fish sizes for recreational vessels and charter/party 
vessels that are not fishing under a NE multispecies DAS are specified 
in Sec.  648.89. Except as provided in Sec.  648.17, all other vessels 
are subject to the following minimum fish sizes, determined by total 
length (TL):

             Minimum Fish Sizes (TL) for Commercial Vessels
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Species                          Size  (inches)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cod.....................................  19 (48.3 cm)
Haddock.................................  16 (40.6 cm)
Pollock.................................  19 (48.3 cm)
Witch flounder (gray sole)..............  13 (33 cm)
Yellowtail flounder.....................  12 (30.5 cm)
American plaice (dab)...................  12 (30.5 cm)
Atlantic halibut........................  41 (104.1 cm)
Winter flounder (blackback).............  12 (30.5 cm)
Redfish.................................  7 (17.8 cm)
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  648.84, add paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.84  Gear-marking requirements and gear restrictions.

* * * * *
    (e) Rope separator trawl. A rope separator trawl is defined as a 
four-seam bottom trawl net (i.e., a net with a top and bottom panel and 
two side panels) modified to include both a horizontal separator panel 
and an escape opening

[[Page 18208]]

in the bottom belly of the net below the separator panel, as further 
specified in paragraphs (e)(1) through (3) of this section.
    (1) Mesh size. The minimum mesh size applied throughout the body 
and extension of a rope separator trawl must be 6-inch (15.2-cm) 
diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh, or any combination 
thereof. Mesh in the bottom belly of the net must be 13-inch (33-cm) 
diamond mesh. Unless otherwise specified in this part, the codend mesh 
size must be consistent with mesh size requirements specified in Sec.  
648.80. The mesh size of a particular section of the rope separator 
trawl is measured in accordance with Sec.  648.80(f)(2), unless 
insufficient numbers of mesh exist, in which case the maximum total 
number of meshes in the section will be measured (between 2 and 20 
meshes).
    (2) Separator panel. The separator panel must consist of parallel 
lines made of fiber rope, the ends of which are attached to each side 
of the net starting at the forward edge of the square of the net and 
running aft toward the extension of the net. The leading rope must be 
attached to the side panel at a point at least \1/3\ of the number of 
meshes of the side panel above the lower gore, and the panel of ropes 
shall slope downward toward the extension of the net. For example, if 
the side panel of the net is 42 meshes tall, the leading rope must be 
attached at least 14 meshes above the lower gore. The forward \2/3\ of 
the separator ropes that comprise the separator panel must be no 
farther than 26 inches (66 cm) apart, with the after \1/3\ of the 
separator ropes that comprise the separator panel being no farther than 
13 inches (33 cm) apart. The ends of the aftermost rope shall be 
attached to the bottom belly at a point \1/6\ of the number of meshes 
of the after end of the bottom belly below the lower gore. The 
separator ropes should be of sufficient length not to impinge upon the 
overall shape of the net without being too long to compromise the 
selectivity of the net. The separator ropes may not be manipulated in 
any way that would inhibit the selectivity of the net by causing the 
separator ropes to dip toward the bottom belly of the net and obscure 
the escape opening, as defined in paragraph (e)(3) of this section.
    (3) Escape opening. The escape opening must be positioned in the 
bottom belly of the net behind the sweep and terminate under the 
separator panel, as described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section. 
Longitudinal lines may be used to maintain the shape of the escape 
opening, as necessary. The escape opening shall be at least 18 meshes 
in both length and width.
0
11. In Sec.  648.85, revise paragraphs (a)(2)(ii) and (iii), 
(a)(3)(ii)(A), (a)(3)(iv)(E), and (a)(3)(vii), (b)(8)(v)(C), 
(b)(8)(v)(F), and (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.85  Special management programs.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Adjustments to TACs. Any overages of the overall Eastern GB 
cod, Eastern GB haddock, and GB yellowtail flounder U.S. TACs caused by 
an overage of the component of the U.S. TAC specified for either the 
common pool, individual sectors, the scallop fishery, or any other 
fishery, pursuant to this paragraph (a)(2) and Sec.  648.90(a)(4), that 
occur in a given fishing year shall be subtracted from the respective 
TAC component responsible for the overage in the following fishing year 
and may be subject to the overall groundfish AM provisions as specified 
in Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(ii) if the overall ACL for a particular stock in 
a given fishing year, specified pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(4), is 
exceeded.
    (iii) Distribution of TACs. For stocks managed by the U.S./Canada 
Resource Sharing Understanding, as specified in paragraph (a)(1) of 
this section, the TAC allocation determined pursuant to this paragraph 
(a)(2) shall be distributed between sectors approved pursuant to Sec.  
648.87(c), common pool vessels, scallop vessels, and other applicable 
fisheries, as specified in Sec.  648.90(a)(4). Approved sectors will be 
allocated ACE for Eastern GB cod and Eastern GB haddock proportional to 
the sector's allocation of the overall ACL for these stocks, based upon 
the fishing histories of sector vessels, as specified in Sec.  
648.87(b)(1)(i). Any ACE for Eastern GB cod and Eastern GB haddock 
allocated to an individual sector is considered a subset of the overall 
GB cod and GB haddock ACE allocated to that sector and may only be 
harvested from the Eastern U.S./Canada Area, while the remaining ACE 
for GB cod and GB haddock available to that sector may only be 
harvested outside of the Eastern U.S./Canada Area. For example, if a 
sector is allocated 10 percent of the GB haddock ACL, it will also be 
allocated 10 percent of the Eastern GB haddock TAC for that particular 
fishing year.
    (3) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) A common pool vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS in the 
Eastern U.S./Canada Area may fish both inside and outside of the 
Eastern U.S./Canada Area on the same trip, provided it complies with 
the most restrictive DAS counting requirements specified in Sec.  
648.10(e)(5), trip limits, and reporting requirements for the areas 
fished for the entire trip, and the restrictions specified in 
paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(1) through (4) of this section. A vessel on a 
sector trip may fish both inside and outside of the Eastern U.S./Canada 
Area on the same trip, provided it complies with the restrictions 
specified in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(1) through (3) of this section.
* * * * *
    (iv) * * *
    (E) Closure of Eastern U.S./Canada Area. Based upon available 
information, when the Regional Administrator projects that any 
individual TAC allocation for NE multispecies common pool or sectors 
specified in paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section will be caught, NMFS 
shall close, in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure 
Act, the Eastern U.S./Canada Area to all vessels subject to that 
particular TAC allocation, unless otherwise allowed under this 
paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(E). For example, if the Eastern GB cod TAC 
specified for common pool vessels is projected to be caught, NMFS shall 
close the Eastern U.S./Canada Area to all common pool vessels operating 
under a NE multispecies DAS. Should the Eastern U.S./Canada Area close 
as described in this paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(E), common pool vessels 
fishing under a DAS may continue to fish in a SAP within the Eastern 
U.S./Canada Area, provided that the TAC for the target stock identified 
for that particular SAP (i.e., haddock for the Eastern U.S./Canada 
Haddock SAP or haddock or yellowtail flounder for the CA II Yellowtail 
Flounder/Haddock SAP) has not been fully harvested. A vessel fishing on 
a sector trip may only fish in a SAP if that vessel's sector has ACE 
available for all stocks caught in that SAP. For example, should the GB 
cod TAC allocation specified for common pool vessels in paragraph 
(a)(2)(iii) of this section be attained, and the Eastern U.S./Canada 
Area closure implemented for common pool vessels, common pool vessels 
could continue to fish for yellowtail flounder within the SAP 
identified as the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP, 
described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, in accordance with the 
requirements of that program. Upon closure of the Eastern U.S./Canada 
Area, trawl vessels on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip may transit 
through this area as described in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section. 
All other vessels may transit through this area, provided that its gear 
is stowed in accordance with the

[[Page 18209]]

provisions of Sec.  648.23(b), unless otherwise restricted under this 
part.
* * * * *
    (vii) Transiting. A NE multispecies vessel that has declared into 
the Eastern U.S./Canada Area, as defined in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of 
this section, and that is not fishing in the CA II Yellowtail Flounder/
Haddock SAP described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, may transit 
the CA II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP Area, as described in 
paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section, provided all fishing gear is 
stowed in accordance with the regulations in Sec.  648.23(b), unless 
otherwise specified under this part.
    (b) * * *
    (8) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (C) Observer notifications. For the purpose of selecting vessels 
for observer deployment, a vessel must provide notice to NMFS of the 
vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; 
telephone number for contact; areas to be fished; and date, time, and 
port of departure at least 48 hours prior to the beginning of any trip 
that it declares into the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP Program 
specified in paragraph (b)(8)(i) of this section, as required under 
paragraph (b)(8)(v)(D) of this section, and in accordance with 
instructions provided by the Regional Administrator.
* * * * *
    (F) Landing limits. Unless otherwise restricted under this part, a 
vessel fishing any portion of a trip in the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock 
SAP under a NE multispecies DAS may not fish for, possess, or land more 
than 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) of cod, per trip, regardless of trip length. A 
common pool vessel fishing in the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP under 
a NE multispecies DAS is subject to the haddock requirements described 
in Sec.  648.86(a), unless further restricted under paragraph 
(a)(3)(iv) of this section. A common pool vessel fishing in the Eastern 
U.S./Canada Haddock SAP may not land more than 100 lb (45.5 kg) per 
DAS, or any part of a DAS, of GB yellowtail flounder and 100 lb (45.5 
kg) of GB winter flounder, up to a maximum of 500 lb (227 kg) of all 
flatfish species, combined. Possession of monkfish (whole weight) and 
skates (whole weight) is limited to 500 lb (227 kg) each, unless 
otherwise restricted by Sec.  648.94(b)(3), and possession of lobsters 
is prohibited. Possession limits for all other stocks are as specified 
in Sec.  648.86.
* * * * *
    (d) Haddock incidental catch allowance for some Atlantic herring 
vessels. The haddock incidental catch allowance for a vessel issued a 
Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in 
Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in Sec.  648.200(f)(1) 
and (3), is 1 percent of each of the ABCs for GOM haddock and GB 
haddock (U.S. catch only) specified according to Sec.  648.90(a)(4) for 
a particular NE multispecies fishing year. Such haddock catch will be 
determined as specified in Sec.  648.86(a)(3)(ii).
* * * * *
    12. In Sec.  648.86, revise paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(1), 
(a)(3)(ii)(A)(3) and (4), to read as follows:


Sec.  648.86  NE Multispecies possession restrictions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) When the Regional Administrator has determined that the 
incidental catch allowance for a given haddock stock, as specified in 
Sec.  648.85(d), has been caught, no vessel issued an Atlantic herring 
permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in the applicable stock 
area, i.e., the Herring GOM Haddock Accountability Measure (AM) Area or 
Herring GB Haddock AM Area, as defined in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) 
and (3) of this section, may fish for, possess, or land herring in 
excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) per trip in or from that area, unless all 
herring possessed and landed by the vessel were caught outside the 
applicable AM Area and the vessel complies with the gear stowage 
provisions specified in Sec.  648.23(b) while transiting the AM Area. 
Upon this determination, the haddock possession limit is reduced to 0 
lb (0 kg) for a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and 
fishing with midwater trawl gear or for a vessel issued an All Areas 
Limited Access Herring Permit and/or an Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access 
Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of area 
fished or gear used, in the applicable AM area, unless the vessel also 
possesses a NE multispecies permit and is operating on a declared 
(consistent with Sec.  648.10(g)) NE multispecies trip. In making this 
determination, the Regional Administrator shall use haddock catches 
observed by NMFS-approved observers by herring vessel trips using 
midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in 
Sec.  648.200(f)(1) and (3), expanded to an estimate of total haddock 
catch for all such trips in a given haddock stock area.
* * * * *
    (3) The Herring GB Haddock Accountability Measure Area. The Herring 
GB Haddock AM Area is defined by the straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated (copies of a map depicting the 
area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

             Herring GB Haddock Accountability Measure Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           (\1\)
3..............................  40[deg]30'           (\1\)
4..............................  40[deg]30'           66[deg]40'
5..............................  39[deg]50'           66[deg]40'
6..............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
7..............................  (\2\)                68[deg]50'
8..............................  41[deg]00'           (\3\)
9..............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
10.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
11.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
12.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
13.............................  41[deg]20'           (\4\)
14.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
15.............................  (\6\)                70[deg]00'
16.............................  (\7\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The intersection of the U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\2\ The intersection of the boundary of Closed Area I and 68[deg]50' W.
  long.
\3\ The intersection of the boundary of Closed Area I and 41[deg]00' N.
  lat.
\4\ The intersection of the east-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA, and
  41[deg]20' N. lat.
\5\ The intersection of the north-facing shoreline of Nantucket, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\6\ The intersection of the south-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\7\ The intersection of the north-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.

    (4) The haddock incidental catch caps specified are for the NE 
multispecies fishing year (May 1-April 30), which differs from the 
herring fishing year (January 1-December 31). If the haddock incidental 
catch allowance is attained by the herring midwater trawl fishery for 
the GOM or GB, as specified in Sec.  648.85(d), the 2,000-lb (907.2-kg) 
limit on herring possession in the applicable AM Area, as described in 
paragraph (a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) or (3) of this section, shall be in effect 
until the end of the NE multispecies fishing year. For example, the 
2011 haddock incidental catch cap is specified for the period May 1, 
2011-April 30, 2012, and the 2012 haddock catch cap would be specified 
for the period May 1, 2012-April 30, 2013. If the catch of haddock by 
herring midwater trawl vessels reached the 2011 incidental catch cap at 
any time prior to the end of the NE multispecies fishing year (April 
30, 2012), the 2,000-lb (907.2-kg) limit on possession of herring

[[Page 18210]]

in the applicable AM Area would extend through April 30, 2012. 
Beginning May 1, 2012, the 2012 catch cap would go into effect.
* * * * *
0
13. Section 648.87 is amended as follows:
0
A. Remove paragraph (b)(4)(iii) and (b)(5);
0
B. Redesignate paragraph (b)(4)(iv) as paragraphs (b)(4)(iii);
0
C. Redesignate paragraph (b)(6) as paragraph (b)(5);
0
D. Revise paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B), (b)(1)(vi)(B), (b)(2)(xi), (b)(4) 
introductory text, (b)(4)(i)(F) and (G), (b)(4)(i)(I) and (J); 
(b)(4)(ii), and (c)(2)(i);
0
E. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (b)(5); and
0
F. Add paragraphs (b)(1)(ii)(A) through (F), (b)(1)(v)(A)(1) and (2), 
and (c)(2)(i)(A) and (B).
    The added and revised text reads as follows:


Sec.  648.87  Sector allocation.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (A) CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder Stock Area. The CC/GOM Yellowtail 
Flounder Stock Area, for the purposes of identifying stock areas for 
trip limits specified in Sec.  648.86, and for determining areas 
applicable to sector allocations of CC/GOM yellowtail flounder ACE 
pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, is defined as the area 
bounded on the north and west by the coastline of the United States, on 
the east by the U.S./Canadian maritime boundary, and on the south by 
rhumb lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

                  CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder Stock Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                70[deg]00'
2..............................  (\2\)                70[deg]00'
3..............................  41[deg]20'           (\3\)
4..............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
5..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
6..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
7..............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
8..............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]50'
9..............................  42[deg]20'           68[deg]50'
10.............................  42[deg]20'           (\4\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection of south-facing coastline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\2\ Intersection of north-facing coastline of Nantucket, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\3\ Intersection of east-facing coastline of Nantucket, MA, and
  41[deg]20' N. lat.
\4\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.

    (B) SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder Stock Area. The SNE/MA Yellowtail 
Flounder Stock Area, for the purposes of identifying stock areas for 
trip limits specified in Sec.  648.86, and for determining areas 
applicable to sector allocations of SNE/MA yellowtail flounder ACE 
pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, is the area bounded by rhumb 
lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

                  SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder Stock Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  35[deg]00'           (\1\)
2..............................  35[deg]00'           (\2\)
3..............................  39[deg]00'           (\2\)
4..............................  39[deg]00'           69[deg]00'
5..............................  39[deg]50'           69[deg]00'
7..............................  39[deg]50'           68[deg]50'
8..............................  41[deg]00'           68[deg]50'
9..............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
10.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
11.............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]50'
12.............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]50'
13.............................  41[deg]20'           (\3\)
14.............................  (\4\)                70[deg]00'
15.............................  (\5\)                70[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection of east-facing coastline of Outer Banks, NC, and
  35[deg]00' N. lat.
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\3\ Intersection of east-facing coastline of Nantucket, MA, and
  41[deg]20' N. lat.
\4\ Intersection of north-facing coastline of Nantucket, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\5\ Intersection of south-facing coastline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.

    (C) GOM Haddock Stock Area. The GOM Haddock Stock Area, for the 
purposes of identifying stock areas for trip limits specified in Sec.  
648.86 and for determining areas applicable to sector allocations of 
GOM haddock ACE pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, is defined 
as the area bounded on the north and west by the coastline of the 
United States, on the east by the U.S./Canadian maritime boundary, and 
on the south by straight lines connecting the following points in the 
order stated:

                         GOM Haddock Stock Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                70[deg]00'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
3..............................  42[deg]20'           67[deg]40'
4..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
5..............................  (\3\)                67[deg]40'
6..............................  43[deg]50'           67[deg]40'
7..............................  43[deg]50'           (\4\)
8..............................  (\4\)                67[deg]00'
9..............................  (\5\)                67[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection of the north-facing coastline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary (southern intersection with 67[deg]40'
  W. long.).
\3\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary (northern intersection with 67[deg]40'
  W. long.).
\4\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.
\5\ Intersection of the south-facing ME coastline and 67[deg]00' W.
  long.

    (D) GB Haddock Stock Area. The GB Haddock Stock Area, for the 
purposes of identifying stock areas for trip limits specified in Sec.  
648.86 and for determining areas applicable to sector allocations of GB 
haddock ACE pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, is defined as 
the area bounded on the west by the coastline of the United States, on 
the south by a line running from the east-facing coastline of North 
Carolina at 35[deg] N. lat. until its intersection with the EEZ, on the 
east by the U.S./Canadian maritime boundary, and bounded on the north 
by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:
    GB Haddock Stock Area

------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                70[deg]00'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
3..............................  42[deg]20'           (\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection of the north-facing coastline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary.

    (E) Redfish Stock Area. The Redfish Stock Area, for the purposes of 
identifying stock areas for trip limits specified in Sec.  648.86 and 
for determining areas applicable to sector allocations of redfish ACE 
pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, is defined as the area 
bounded on the north and west by the coastline of the United States, on 
the east by the U.S./Canadian maritime boundary, and bounded on the 
south by a rhumb line running from the east-facing coastline of North 
Carolina at 35[deg] N. lat. until its intersection with the EEZ.
    (F) GOM Winter Flounder Stock Area. The GOM Winter Flounder Stock 
Area, for the purposes of identifying stock areas for trip limits 
specified in Sec.  648.86 and for determining areas applicable to 
sector allocations of GOM winter flounder ACE pursuant to paragraph (b) 
of this section, is the area bounded by straight lines connecting the 
following points in the order stated:

                     GOM Winter Flounder Stock Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                70[deg]00'
2..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]00'
3..............................  42[deg]20'           67[deg]40'
4..............................  (\2\)                67[deg]40'
5..............................  (3)                  67[deg]40'
6..............................  43[deg]50'           67[deg]40'
7..............................  43[deg]50'           (\4\)
8..............................  (\4\)                67[deg]00'
9..............................  (\5\)                67[deg]00'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Intersection of the north-facing coastline of Cape Cod, MA, and
  70[deg]00' W. long.

[[Page 18211]]

 
\2\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary (southern intersection with 67[deg]40'
  N. lat.)
\3\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary (northern intersection with 67[deg]40'
  N. lat.)
\4\ U.S./Canada maritime boundary
\5\ Intersection of the south-facing ME coastline and 67[deg]00' W.
  long.

* * * * *
    (v) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (1) GB yellowtail flounder discards. For the purpose of counting 
discards of GB yellowtail flounder against a sector's ACE pursuant to 
paragraph (b)(1)(v)(A), GB yellowtail flounder discards shall be 
calculated for two separate GB areas for each gear type, unless 
otherwise specified in this paragraph (b)(1)(v)(A)(1): Statistical area 
522, and statistical areas 525/561/562. This provision does not change 
the methods used to estimate discards of other groundfish stocks or to 
estimate discards used in the GB yellowtail stock assessment. If the 
Regional Administrator determines this finer stratification is only 
appropriate for trawl gear, then the Regional Administrator may exclude 
other, non-trawl gears from this stratification method in a manner 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.
    (2) [Reserved].
    (B) Independent third-party monitoring program. A sector must 
comply with any at-sea monitoring program specified by NMFS beginning 
in fishing year 2013. By fishing year 2014 (May 1, 2014), a sector must 
develop and implement an at-sea or electronic monitoring program to 
verify area fished, as well as catch and discards by species and gear 
type, and that is consistent with the goals and objectives of 
groundfish monitoring programs at Sec.  648.11(l). A sector may elect 
to develop an at-sea/electronic monitoring program before fishing year 
2014. The details of any at-sea or electronic monitoring program must 
be specified in the sector's operations plan, pursuant to paragraph 
(b)(2)(xi) of this section, and must meet the operational standards 
specified in paragraph (b)(5) of this section. Electronic monitoring 
may be used in place of actual observers if the technology is deemed 
sufficient by NMFS for a specific trip type based on gear type and area 
fished, in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. 
The level of coverage for trips by sector vessels is specified in 
paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B)(1) of this section. The at-sea/electronic 
monitoring program shall be reviewed and approved by the Regional 
Administrator as part of a sector's operations plans in a manner 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. A service provider 
providing at-sea or electronic monitoring services pursuant to this 
paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) must meet the service provider standards 
specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, and be approved by NMFS 
in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.
    (1) Coverage levels. Except as specified in paragraph 
(b)(1)(v)(B)(1)(i) of this section, any service provider providing at-
sea or electronic monitoring services required under this paragraph 
(b)(1)(v)(B)(1) must provide coverage that is fair and equitable, and 
distributed in a statistically random manner among all trips such that 
coverage is representative of fishing activities by all vessels within 
each sector and by all operations of vessels operating in each sector 
throughout the fishing year. Coverage levels for an at-sea monitoring 
program shall be specified by NMFS, pursuant to paragraph 
(b)(1)(v)(B)(1)(i) of this section, but shall be less than 100 percent 
of all sector trips. In the event that a NMFS-sponsored observer and a 
third-party at-sea monitor are assigned to the same trip, only the NMFS 
observer must observe that trip. If either an at-sea monitor or 
electronic monitoring is assigned to a particular trip, a vessel may 
not leave port without the appropriate at-sea monitor or electronic 
monitoring equipment on board.
    (i) At-sea/electronic monitoring. For fishing year 2013, NMFS shall 
determine the level of coverage for any NMFS-sponsored at-sea 
monitoring program specified pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B)(1) of 
this section, based on available funding. Unless otherwise specified in 
this paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B)(1)(i), beginning in fishing year 2014, 
coverage levels must be sufficient to at least meet the coefficient of 
variation specified in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology 
at the overall stock level for each stock of regulated species and 
ocean pout, and to monitor sector operations, to the extent 
practicable, in order to reliably estimate overall catch by sector 
vessels. In making its determination, NMFS shall take into account the 
goals and objective of groundfish monitoring programs at Sec.  
648.11(l), the National Standards and requirements of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, including but not limited to the costs to sector vessels 
and NMFS, and any other relevant factors. For FYs 2013 and beyond, NMFS 
shall specify a separate coverage rate, lower than the coverage rate 
for all other sector trips, for sector trips fishing with 10-inch 
(25.4-cm) mesh or larger gillnets on a monkfish DAS, pursuant to Sec.  
648.91(c)(1)(iii), and only in the SNE Broad Stock Area, as defined at 
Sec.  648.10(k)(3)(iv).
    (2) Hail reports. For the purposes of the at-sea monitoring 
requirements specified in paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) of this section, 
sector vessels must submit all hail reports for a sector trip in which 
the NE multispecies catch applies against the ACE allocated to a 
sector, as specified in this part, to service providers offering at-sea 
monitoring services. The mechanism and timing of the transmission of 
such hail reports must be consistent with instructions provided by the 
Regional Administrator for any at-sea or electronic monitoring program 
required by paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) of this section, or specified in the 
annual sector operations plan, consistent with paragraph (b)(5) of this 
section.
    (3) Notification of service provider change. If, for any reason, a 
sector decides to change approved service providers used to provide at-
sea or electronic monitoring services required in this paragraph 
(b)(1)(v), the sector manager must first inform NMFS in writing in 
advance of the effective date of the change in approved service 
providers in conjunction with the submission of the next weekly sector 
catch report specified in paragraph (b)(1)(vi)(B) of this section. A 
sector may employ more than one service provider at any time, provided 
any service provider employed by a sector meets the standards specified 
in paragraph (b)(4) of this section.
    (4) At-sea monitoring cost responsibility. During fishing year 
2013, none of the costs associated with any NMFS-sponsored at-sea 
monitoring program specified pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) of this 
section shall be paid by the owner or operator of a vessel subject to 
these requirements. Starting in fishing year 2014, a sector shall be 
responsible for paying the direct costs of at-sea monitoring coverage 
implemented pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) of this section, 
specifically the daily salary of the at-sea monitor. NMFS shall be 
responsible for all other costs associated with a sector's at-sea 
monitoring program, including, but not limited to: Briefing, 
debriefing, training and certification costs (salary and non-salary); 
sampling design development; data storage, management, and security; 
data quality assurance and control; administrative costs; maintenance 
of monitoring equipment; monitor recruitment, benefits, insurance, and 
taxes; logistical costs associated with deployment; and monitor travel 
and lodging.
    (vi) * * *

[[Page 18212]]

    (B) Weekly catch report. Each sector must submit weekly reports to 
NMFS stating the remaining balance of ACE allocated to each sector 
based upon regulated species and ocean pout landings and discards of 
vessels participating in that sector and any compliance/enforcement 
concerns. These reports must include at least the following 
information, as instructed by the Regional Administrator: Week ending 
date; species, stock area, gear, number of trips, reported landings 
(landed pounds and live pounds), discards (live pounds), total catch 
(live pounds), status of the sector's ACE (pounds remaining and percent 
remaining), and whether this is a new or updated record of sector catch 
for each NE multispecies stock allocated to that particular sector; 
sector enforcement issues; and a list of vessels landing for that 
reporting week. These weekly catch reports must be submitted no later 
than 0700 hr on the second Monday after the reporting week, as defined 
in this part. The frequency of these reports must be increased to more 
than a weekly submission when the balance of remaining ACE is low, as 
specified in the sector operations plan and approved by NMFS. If 
requested, sectors must provide detailed trip-by-trip catch data to 
NMFS for the purposes of auditing sector catch monitoring data based 
upon guidance provided by the Regional Administrator.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (xi) Detailed plans for the monitoring and reporting of landings 
and discards by sector participants, including, but not limited to, 
detailed information describing the sector's at-sea/electronic 
monitoring program for monitoring utilization of ACE allocated to that 
sector; identification of the independent third-party service providers 
employed by the sector to provide at-sea/electronic monitoring 
services; the mechanism and timing of any hail reports; a list of 
specific ports where participating vessels will land fish, with 
specific exemptions noted for safety, weather, etc., allowed, provided 
the sector provides reasonable notification to NMFS concerning a 
deviation from the listed ports; and any other information about such a 
program required by NMFS;
* * * * *
    (4) Independent third-party monitoring provider standards. Any 
service provider intending to provide at-sea/electronic monitoring 
services described in paragraph (b)(1)(v) of this section must apply to 
and be approved/certified by NMFS in a manner consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act. NMFS shall approve/certify service 
providers and/or at-sea monitors as eligible to provide sector 
monitoring services specified in this part and can disapprove/decertify 
service providers and/or individual monitors through notice in writing 
to individual service providers/monitors if the following criteria are 
no longer being met:
    (i) * * *
    (F) A description of the applicant's ability to carry out the 
responsibilities and duties of a sector monitoring/reporting service 
provider and the arrangements to be used, including whether the service 
provider is able to offer at-sea monitoring services;
    (G) Evidence of adequate insurance (copies of which shall be 
provided to the vessel owner, operator, or vessel manager, when 
requested) to cover injury, liability, and accidental death to cover 
at-sea monitors (including during training); vessel owner; and service 
provider;
* * * * *
    (I) Proof that the service provider's at-sea monitors have passed 
an adequate training course sponsored by the service providers to the 
extent not funded by NMFS that is consistent with the curriculum used 
in the current yearly NEFOP training course, unless otherwise specified 
by NMFS;
    (J) An Emergency Action Plan describing the provider's response to 
an emergency with an at-sea monitor, including, but not limited to, 
personal injury, death, harassment, or intimidation; and
* * * * *
    (ii) Service provider performance requirements. At-sea monitoring 
service providers must be able to document compliance with the 
following criteria and requirements:
    (A) A service provider must establish and carry out a comprehensive 
plan to deploy NMFS-certified at-sea monitors, or other at-sea 
monitoring mechanism, such as electronic monitoring equipment that is 
approved by NMFS, according to a prescribed coverage level (or level of 
precision for catch estimation), as specified by NMFS, including all of 
the necessary vessel reporting/notice requirements to facilitate such 
deployment, as follows:
    (1) A service provider must be available to industry 24 hr per day, 
7 days per week, with the telephone system monitored a minimum of four 
times daily to ensure rapid response to industry requests;
    (2) A service provider must be able to deploy at-sea monitors, or 
other approved at-sea monitoring mechanism to all ports in which 
service is required by sectors, or a subset of ports as part of a 
contract with a particular sector;
    (3) A service provider must report at-sea monitors and other 
approved at-sea monitoring mechanism deployments to NMFS and the sector 
manager in a timely manner to determine whether the predetermined 
coverage levels are being achieved for the appropriate sector;
    (4) A service provider must assign at-sea monitors and other 
approved at-sea monitoring mechanisms without regard to any preference 
by the sector manager or representatives of vessels other than when the 
service is needed and the availability of approved/certified monitors 
and other at-sea monitoring mechanisms;
    (5) A service provider's at-sea monitor assignment must be fair, 
equitable, representative of fishing activities within each sector, and 
able to monitor fishing activity throughout the fishing year;
    (6) For service providers offering catch estimation or at-sea 
monitoring services, a service provider must be able to determine an 
estimate of discards for each trip and provide such information to the 
sector manager and NMFS, as appropriate and as required by this 
section;
    (B) The service provider must ensure that at-sea monitors remain 
available to NMFS, including NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, for 
debriefing for at least 2 weeks following any monitored trip/offload;
    (C) The service provider must report possible at-sea monitor 
harassment; discrimination; concerns about vessel safety or marine 
casualty; injury; and any information, allegations, or reports 
regarding at-sea monitor conflict of interest or breach of the 
standards of behavior to NMFS and/or the sector manager, as specified 
by NMFS;
    (D) The service provider must submit to NMFS, if requested, a copy 
of each signed and valid contract (including all attachments, 
appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract) 
between the service provider and those entities requiring services 
(i.e., sectors and participating vessels) and between the service 
provider and specific dockside, roving, or at-sea monitors;
    (E) The service provider must submit to NMFS, if requested, copies 
of any information developed and used by the service providers 
distributed to vessels, such as informational pamphlets, payment 
notification, description of duties, etc.;
    (F) A service provider may refuse to deploy an at-sea monitor or 
other

[[Page 18213]]

approved at-sea monitoring mechanism on a requesting fishing vessel for 
any reason including, but not limited to, the following:
    (1) If the service provider does not have an available at-sea 
monitor or other at-sea monitoring mechanism approved by NMFS within 
the advanced notice requirements established by the service provider;
    (2) If the service provider is not given adequate notice of vessel 
departure or landing from the sector manager or participating vessels, 
as specified by the service provider;
    (3) For the purposes of at-sea monitoring, if the service provider 
has determined that the requesting vessel is inadequate or unsafe 
pursuant to the reasons described in Sec.  600.746; and
    (4) Failure to pay for previous deployments of at-sea monitors, or 
other approved at-sea monitoring mechanism.
    (G) With the exception of a service provider offering reporting, 
dockside, and/or at-sea monitoring services to participants of another 
fishery managed under Federal regulations, a service provider must not 
have a direct or indirect interest in a fishery managed under Federal 
regulations, including, but not limited to, fishing vessels, dealers, 
shipping companies, sectors, sector managers, advocacy groups, or 
research institutions and may not solicit or accept, directly or 
indirectly, any gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything 
of monetary value from anyone who conducts fishing or fishing-related 
activities that are regulated by NMFS, or who has interests that may be 
substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the 
official duties of service providers;
    (H) A system to record, retain, and distribute the following 
information to NMFS, as requested, for a period specified by NMFS, 
including:
    (1) At-sea monitor and other approved monitoring equipment 
deployment levels, including the number of refusals and reasons for 
such refusals;
    (2) Incident/non-compliance reports (e.g., failure to offload 
catch); and
    (3) Hail reports, landings records, and other associated 
interactions with vessels and dealers.
    (I) A means to protect the confidentiality and privacy of data 
submitted by vessels, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act; and
    (J) A service provider must be able to supply at-sea monitors with 
sufficient safety and data-gathering equipment, as specified by NMFS.
* * * * *
    (5) At-sea/electronic monitoring operational standards. In addition 
to the independent third-party monitoring provider standards specified 
in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, any at-sea/electronic monitoring 
program developed as part of a sector's yearly operations plan pursuant 
to paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B) of this section must meet the following 
operational standards to be approved by NMFS:
    (i) Gear. Each at-sea monitor must be provided with all of the 
equipment specified by the Northeast Fisheries At-sea Monitoring 
Program. A list of such equipment is available from the Northeast 
Fisheries Science Center upon request. At-sea/electronic monitoring 
service providers are responsible for the cost of providing such gear 
to at-sea monitors to the extent not funded by NMFS. This gear shall be 
inspected by NMFS upon the completion of training required pursuant to 
paragraph (b)(4)(i)(I) of this section.
    (ii) Vessel selection protocol. An at-sea/electronic monitoring 
program service provider must develop a formal vessel-selection 
protocol to deploy at-sea monitors and electronic monitoring equipment 
in a statistically random manner consistent with the coverage levels 
required pursuant to paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B)(1) of this section. This 
protocol must include a method to allow for waivers in specific 
circumstances, including how waivers would be requested, assessed, and 
recorded.
    (iii) Reporting/recordkeeping requirements--(A) Vessel 
requirements. In addition to all other reporting/recordkeeping 
requirements specified in this part, to facilitate the deployment of 
at-sea monitors and electronic monitoring equipment pursuant to 
paragraph (b)(1)(v)(B)(1) of this section, the operator of a vessel 
fishing on a sector trip must provide at-sea/electronic monitoring 
service providers with at least the following information: The vessel 
name, permit number, trip ID number in the form of the VTR serial 
number of the first VTR page for that trip or another trip identifier 
specified by NMFS, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and an estimate 
of the date/time of departure in advance of each trip. The timing of 
such notice shall be sufficient to allow ample time for the service 
provider to determine whether an at-sea monitor or electronic 
monitoring equipment will be deployed on each trip and allow the at-sea 
monitor or electronic monitoring equipment to prepare for the trip and 
get to port, or to be installed on the vessel, respectively. The 
details of the timing, method (e.g., phone, email, etc.), and 
information needed for such pre-trip notifications shall be included as 
part of a sector's yearly operations plan. If a vessel has been 
informed by a service provider that an at-sea monitor or electronic 
monitoring equipment has been assigned to a particular trip pursuant to 
paragraph (b)(6)(iii)(B)(1) of this section, the vessel may not leave 
port to begin that trip until the at-sea monitor has arrived and 
boarded the vessel, or the electronic monitoring equipment has been 
properly installed.
    (B) At-sea/electronic monitoring service provider requirements--(1) 
Confirmation of pre-trip notification. Upon receipt of a pre-trip 
notification pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(iii)(A) of this section, the 
service provider shall inform the vessel operator whether the vessel 
will be monitored by an at-sea observer or electronic monitoring 
equipment for that trip, or will be issued an at-sea/electronic 
monitoring waiver for that trip based upon the vessel selection 
protocol specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section.
    (2) At-sea/electronic monitoring report. A report detailing area 
fished and the amount of each species kept and discarded shall be 
submitted electronically in a standard acceptable form to the 
appropriate sector and NMFS within 48 hr of the completion of the trip, 
as instructed by the Regional Administrator. The data elements to be 
collected and the format for submission shall be specified by NMFS and 
distributed to all approved at-sea/electronic monitoring service 
providers and sectors. At-sea/electronic monitoring data shall not be 
accepted until such data pass automated NMFS data quality checks.
    (iv) Safety hazards--(A) Vessel requirements. The operator of a 
sector vessel must detail and identify any safety hazards to any at-sea 
monitor assigned pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(iii)(B)(1) of this 
section prior to leaving port. A vessel cannot begin a trip if it has 
failed a review of safety issues pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(iv)(B) of 
this section, until the identified safety deficiency has been resolved, 
pursuant to Sec.  600.746(i).
    (B) At-sea/electronic monitoring service provider requirements. An 
at-sea monitor must complete a pre-trip vessel safety checklist 
provided by NMFS before an at-sea monitor can leave port onboard a 
vessel on a sector trip. If the vessel fails a review of safety issues 
pursuant to this paragraph (b)(5)(iv)(B), an at-sea monitor cannot be 
deployed on that vessel for that trip.
    (v) Adjustment to operational standards. The at-sea/electronic 
monitoring operational standards specified in paragraph (b)(5) of this 
section may be revised by the Regional

[[Page 18214]]

Administrator in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure 
Act.
    (c) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Regulations that may not be exempted for sector participants. 
The Regional Administrator may not exempt participants in a sector from 
the following Federal fishing regulations: Specific time and areas 
within the NE multispecies year-round closure areas; permitting 
restrictions (e.g., vessel upgrades, etc.); gear restrictions designed 
to minimize habitat impacts (e.g., roller gear restrictions, etc.); 
reporting requirements; and AMs specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(5)(i)(D). 
For the purposes of this paragraph (c)(2)(i), the DAS reporting 
requirements specified at Sec.  648.82; the SAP-specific reporting 
requirements specified at Sec.  648.85; and the reporting requirements 
associated with a dockside monitoring program specified in paragraph 
(b)(5)(i) of this section are not considered reporting requirements, 
and the Regional Administrator may exempt sector participants from 
these requirements as part of the approval of yearly operations plans. 
For the purpose of this paragraph (c)(2)(i), the Regional Administrator 
may not grant sector participants exemptions from the NE multispecies 
year-round closures areas defined as Essential Fish Habitat Closure 
Areas as defined at Sec.  648.81(h); the Fippennies Ledge Area as 
defined in paragraph (c)(2)(i)(A) of this section; Closed Area I and 
Closed Area II, as defined at Sec.  648.81(a) and (b), respectively, 
during the period February 16 through April 30; and the Western GOM 
Closure Area, as defined at Sec.  648.81(e), where it overlaps with any 
Sector Rolling Closure Areas, as defined at Sec.  648.81(f)(2)(vi). 
This list may be modified through a framework adjustment, as specified 
in Sec.  648.90.
    (A) Fippennies Ledge Area. The Fippennies Ledge Area is bounded by 
the following coordinates, connected by straight lines in the order 
listed:

                          Fippennies Ledge Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]50.0'         69[deg]17.0'
2..............................  42[deg]44.0'         69[deg]14.0'
3..............................  42[deg]44.0'         69[deg]18.0'
4..............................  42[deg]50.0'         69[deg]21.0'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

     (B) [Reserved].
* * * * *
0
14. In Sec.  648.89, revise paragraph (f)(2), and add paragraph (f)(3) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  648.89  Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) Reactive AM adjustment. If it is determined that any 
recreational sub-ACL was exceeded, as specified in paragraph (f)(1) of 
this section, the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the 
New England Fishery Management Council, shall develop measures 
necessary to prevent the recreational fishery from exceeding the 
appropriate sub-ACL in future years. Appropriate AMs for the 
recreational fishery, including adjustments to fishing season, minimum 
fish size, or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with final measures 
published in the Federal Register no later than January when possible. 
Separate AMs shall be developed for the private and charter/party 
components of the recreational fishery.
    (3) Proactive AM adjustment. When necessary, the Regional 
Administrator, after consultation with the New England Fishery 
Management Council, may adjust recreational measures to ensure the 
recreational fishery achieves, but does not exceed any recreational 
fishery sub-ACL in a future fishing year. Appropriate AMs for the 
recreational fishery, including adjustments to fishing season, minimum 
fish size, or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner 
consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with final measures 
published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing 
year where possible. In specifying these AMs, the Regional 
Administrator shall take into account the non-binding prioritization of 
possible measures recommended by the Council: for cod, first increases 
to minimum fish sizes, then adjustments to seasons, followed by changes 
to bag limits; and for haddock, first increases to minimum size limits, 
then changes to bag limits, and then adjustments to seasons.
0
15. Section 648.90 is amended as follows:
0
A. Revise paragraphs (a)(4)(iii) introductory text, (a)(4)(iii)(B), (C) 
and (E), (a)(4)(iv)(B) and (a)(5); and
0
B. Add paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(F) through (H).
    The added and revised text reads as follows:


Sec.  648.90  NE multispecies assessment, framework procedures and 
specifications, and flexible area action system.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (iii) ABC/ACL distribution. The ABCs/ACLs adopted by the Council 
for each regulated species or ocean pout stock pursuant to this 
paragraph (a)(4) shall be subdivided among the various sub-components 
of the fishery, as specified in paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through (H) 
of this section. For transboundary stocks managed by the Understanding, 
pursuant to Sec.  648.85(a), the distribution of ABC/ACLs described in 
paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through (H) of this section shall be based 
upon the catch available to U.S. fishermen. The Council may revise its 
recommendations for the distribution of ABCs and ACLs among these and 
other sub-components through the process to specify ABCs and ACLs, as 
described in this paragraph (a)(4).
* * * * *
    (B) Regulated species or ocean pout catch by exempted fisheries. 
Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(F) or (G) of this 
section, regulated species or ocean pout catch by other, non-specified 
sub-components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted 
fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting 
exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3) shall be deducted from 
the ABC/ACL of each regulated species or ocean pout stock, pursuant to 
the process to specify ABCs and ACLs described in this paragraph 
(a)(4). The catch of these non-specified sub-components of the ACL 
shall be monitored using data collected pursuant to this part. If catch 
from such fisheries exceeds the amount specified in this paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(B), AMs shall be developed to prevent the overall ACL for 
each stock from being exceeded, pursuant to the framework adjustment 
process specified in this section.
    (C) Yellowtail flounder catch by the Atlantic sea scallop fishery. 
Yellowtail flounder catch in the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, as 
defined in subpart D of this part, shall be deducted from the ABC/ACL 
for each yellowtail flounder stock pursuant to the restrictions 
specified in subpart D of this part and the process to specify ABCs and 
ACLs, as described in paragraph (a)(4) of this section. Unless 
otherwise specified in this paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(C), or subpart D of 
this part, the specific value of the sub-components of the ABC/ACL for 
each stock of yellowtail flounder distributed to the Atlantic sea 
scallop fishery shall be specified pursuant to the biennial adjustment 
process specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The Atlantic sea 
scallop fishery shall be allocated 40 percent of the GB yellowtail ABC 
(U.S. share only) in fishing year 2013, and 16 percent in fishing year 
2014 and each fishing year thereafter, pursuant to the process for

[[Page 18215]]

specifying ABCs and ACLs described in this paragraph (a)(4). An ACL 
based on this ABC shall be determined using the process described in 
paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section. Based on information available, 
NMFS shall project the expected scallop fishery catch of GB yellowtail 
flounder for the current fishing year by January 15. If NMFS determines 
that the scallop fishery will catch less than 90 percent of its GB 
yellowtail flounder sub-ACL, the Regional Administrator may reduce the 
scallop fishery sub-ACL to the amount projected to be caught, and 
increase the groundfish fishery sub-ACL by any amount up to the amount 
reduced from the scallop fishery sub-ACL. The revised groundfish 
fishery sub-ACL shall be distributed to the common pool and sectors 
based on the process specified in paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(1) of this 
section.
* * * * *
    (E) SNE/MA windowpane flounder catch by the Atlantic sea scallop 
fishery. SNE/MA windowpane flounder catch in the Atlantic sea scallop 
fishery, as defined in subpart D of this part, shall be deducted from 
the ABC/ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder pursuant to the restrictions 
specified in subpart D of this part and the process to specify ABCs and 
ACLs, as described in paragraph (a)(4) of this section. The Atlantic 
sea scallop fishery shall be allocated 36 percent of the GB yellowtail 
ABC (U.S. share only) in fishing year 2013 and each fishing year after, 
pursuant to the process for specifying ABCs and ACLs described in this 
paragraph (a)(4). An ACL based on this ABC shall be determined using 
the process described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section.
    (F) SNE/MA windowpane flounder catch by exempted fisheries. SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder catch by other, non-specified sub-components of the 
fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted fisheries that occur 
in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting exempted species specified 
in Sec.  648.80(b)(3), shall be deducted from the ABC/ACL for SNE/MA 
windowpane flounder pursuant to the process to specify ABCs and ACLs, 
as described in this paragraph (a)(4). The specific value of the sub-
components of the ABC/ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder distributed to 
these other fisheries shall be specified pursuant to the biennial 
adjustment process specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
    (G) GB yellowtail flounder catch by small mesh fisheries. GB 
yellowtail flounder catch by bottom trawl vessels fishing with a codend 
mesh size of less than 5-inch (12.7-cm) in other, non-specified sub-
components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted 
fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting 
exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3), shall be deducted 
from the ABC/ACL for GB yellowtail flounder pursuant to the process to 
specify ABCs and ACLs, as described in this paragraph (a)(4). This 
small mesh fishery shall be allocated 2 percent of the GB yellowtail 
ABC (U.S. share only) in fishing year 2013 and each fishing year after, 
pursuant to the process for specifying ABCs and ACLs described in this 
paragraph (a)(4). An ACL based on this ABC shall be determined using 
the process described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section.
    (H) Regulated species or ocean pout catch by the NE multispecies 
commercial and recreational fisheries. Unless otherwise specified in 
the ACL recommendations developed pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(i) of 
this section, after all of the deductions and considerations specified 
in paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through (G) of this section, the remaining 
ABC/ACL for each regulated species or ocean pout stock shall be 
allocated to the NE multispecies commercial and recreational fisheries, 
pursuant to this paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H).
    (1) Recreational allocation. Unless otherwise specified in 
paragraph (a)(5) of this section, recreational catches shall be 
compared to the ACLs allocated pursuant to this paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H)(1) for the purposes of determining whether adjustments 
to recreational measures are necessary, pursuant to the recreational 
fishery AMs specified in Sec.  648.89(f).
    (i) Stocks allocated. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H)(1), the ABCs/ACLs for GOM cod and GOM haddock available 
to the NE multispecies fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H) of 
this section shall be divided between commercial and recreational 
components of the fishery, based upon the average proportional catch of 
each component for each stock during fishing years 2001 through 2006.
    (ii) Process for determining if a recreational allocation is 
necessary. A recreational allocation may not be made if it is 
determined that, based upon available information, the ACLs for these 
stocks are not being fully harvested by the NE multispecies fishery, or 
if the recreational harvest, after accounting for state waters catch 
pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(A) of this section, is less than 5 
percent of the overall catch for a particular stock of regulated 
species or ocean pout.
    (2) Commercial allocation. Unless otherwise specified in this 
paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2), the ABC/ACL for regulated species or ocean 
pout stocks available to the commercial NE multispecies fishery, after 
consideration of the recreational allocation pursuant to paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H)(1) of this section, shall be divided between vessels 
operating under approved sector operations plans, as described at Sec.  
648.87(c), and vessels operating under the provisions of the common 
pool, as defined in this part, based upon the cumulative PSCs of 
vessels participating in sectors calculated pursuant to Sec.  
648.87(b)(1)(i)(E). For fishing years 2010 and 2011, the ABC/ACL of 
each regulated species or ocean pout stocks not allocated to sectors 
pursuant to Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(i)(E) (i.e., Atlantic halibut, SNE/MA 
winter flounder, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and Atlantic 
wolffish) that is available to the commercial NE multispecies fishery 
shall be allocated entirely to the common pool. Unless otherwise 
specified in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, regulated species or 
ocean pout catch by common pool and sector vessels shall be deducted 
from the sub-ACL/ACE allocated pursuant to this paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) for the purposes of determining whether adjustments 
to common pool measures are necessary, pursuant to the common pool AMs 
specified in Sec.  648.82(n), or whether sector ACE overages must be 
deducted, pursuant to Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(iii).
    (3) Revisions to commercial and recreational allocations. 
Distribution of the ACL for each stock available to the NE multispecies 
fishery between and among commercial and recreational components of the 
fishery may be implemented through a framework adjustment pursuant to 
this section. Any changes to the distribution of ACLs to the NE 
multispecies fishery shall not affect the implementation of AMs based 
upon the distribution in effect at the time of the overage that 
triggered the AM.
    (iv) * * *
    (B) Discards. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph 
(a)(4)(iv)(B), regulated species or ocean pout discards shall be 
monitored through the use of VTRs, observer data, VMS catch reports, 
and other available information, as specified in this part. Regulated 
species or ocean pout discards by vessels on a sector trip shall be 
monitored pursuant to Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(v)(A).
    (v) * * *
    (5) AMs. Except as specified in paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through 
(G) of this section, if any of the ACLs specified in paragraph (a)(4) 
of this section are exceeded based upon available catch information, 
the AMs specified in

[[Page 18216]]

paragraphs (a)(5)(i) and (ii) of this section shall take effect in the 
following fishing year, or as soon as practicable, thereafter, once 
catch data for all affected fisheries are available, as applicable.
    (i) AMs for the NE multispecies commercial and recreational 
fisheries. If the catch of regulated species or ocean pout by a sub-
component of the NE multispecies fishery (i.e., common pool vessels, 
sector vessels, or private recreational and charter/party vessels) 
exceeds the amount allocated to each sub-component, as specified in 
paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H) of this section, then the applicable AM for 
that sub-component of the fishery shall take effect, pursuant to 
paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(A) through (C) of this section. In determining the 
applicability of AMs specified for a sub-component of the NE 
multispecies fishery in paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(A) through (C) of this 
section, the Regional Administrator shall consider available 
information regarding the catch of regulated species and ocean pout by 
each sub-component of the NE multispecies fishery, plus each sub-
component's share of any overage of the overall ACL for a particular 
stock caused by excessive catch by vessels outside of the FMP, exempted 
fisheries, or the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, as specified in this 
paragraph (a)(5), as appropriate.
    (A) Excessive catch by common pool vessels. If the catch of 
regulated species and ocean pout by common pool vessels exceeds the 
amount of the ACL specified for common pool vessels pursuant to 
paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, then the AMs described in 
Sec.  648.82(n) shall take effect. Pursuant to the distribution of 
ABCs/ACLs specified in paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, for 
the purposes of this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(A), the catch of each 
regulated species or ocean pout stock not allocated to sectors pursuant 
to Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(i)(E) (i.e., Atlantic halibut, SNE/MA winter 
flounder, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and Atlantic wolffish) 
during fishing years 2010 and 2011 shall be added to the catch of such 
stocks by common pool vessels to determine whether the differential DAS 
counting AM described in Sec.  648.82(n)(1) shall take effect. If such 
catch does not exceed the portion of the ACL specified for common pool 
vessels pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, then 
no AMs shall take effect for common pool vessels.
    (B) Excessive catch by sector vessels. If the catch of regulated 
species and ocean pout by sector vessels exceeds the amount of the ACL 
specified for sector vessels pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of 
this section, then the AMs described in Sec.  648.87(b)(1)(iii) shall 
take effect. For the purposes of this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(B), the catch 
of regulated species and ocean pout for each sector approved pursuant 
to Sec.  648.87 shall be based upon the catch of vessels participating 
in each approved sector. If such catch does not exceed the portion of 
the ACL specified for an individual sector pursuant to paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, then no AMs shall take effect for 
that sector.
    (C) Excessive catch by the NE multispecies recreational fishery. If 
the catch of regulated species and ocean pout by private recreational 
and charter/party vessels exceeds the amount of the ACL specified for 
the recreational fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(1) of 
this section, then the AMs described in Sec.  648.89(f) shall take 
effect. If such catch does not exceed the portion of the ACL specified 
for the recreational fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(1) of 
this section, then no AMs shall take effect for the recreational 
fishery.
    (D) AMs for both stocks of windowpane flounder, ocean pout, 
Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolffish, and SNE/MA winter flounder. At the 
end of each fishing year, NMFS shall determine if the overall ACL for 
northern windowpane flounder, southern windowpane flounder, ocean pout, 
Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolffish, or SNE/MA winter flounder was 
exceeded. If the overall ACL for any of these stocks is exceeded, NMFS 
shall implement the appropriate AM, as specified in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D), in a subsequent fishing year, consistent with the APA. If 
reliable information is available, the AM shall be implemented in the 
fishing year immediately following the fishing year in which the 
overage occurred. Otherwise, the AM shall be implemented in the second 
fishing year after the fishing year in which the overage occurred. For 
example, if NMFS determined before the start of fishing year 2013 that 
the overall ACL for northern windowpane flounder was exceeded by the 
groundfish fishery in fishing year 2012, the applicable AM would be 
implemented for fishing year 2013. If NMFS determined after the start 
of fishing year 2013 that the overall ACL for northern windowpane 
flounder was exceeded in fishing year 2012, the applicable AM would be 
implemented for fishing year 2014. If updated catch information becomes 
available subsequent to the implementation of an AM that indicates that 
an ACL was not exceeded, the AM will be rescinded, consistent with the 
Administrative Procedure Act.
    (1) Windowpane flounder and ocean pout. If NMFS determines the 
overall ACL for either stock of windowpane flounder or ocean pout is 
exceeded, as described in this paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D)(1), by any amount 
greater than the management uncertainty buffer, the applicable small AM 
area for the stock shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D) of this section. If the overall ACL is exceeded by 21 
percent or more, the applicable large AM area(s) for the stock shall be 
implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this section, 
and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The AM areas 
defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, connected in 
the order listed by rhumb lines, unless otherwise noted. Vessels 
fishing with trawl gear in these areas may only use a haddock separator 
trawl, as specified in Sec.  648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as 
specified in Sec.  648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as 
specified in Sec.  648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent 
with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). If an overage of the 
overall ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder is as a result of an overage 
of the sub-ACL allocated to exempted fisheries pursuant to paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(F) of this section, the applicable AM area(s) shall be in 
effect for any trawl vessel fishing with a codend mesh size of greater 
than or equal to 5-inch (12.7-cm) in other, non-specified sub-
components of the fishery, including, but not limited to, exempted 
fisheries that occur in Federal waters and fisheries harvesting 
exempted species specified in Sec.  648.80(b)(3). If an overage of the 
overall ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder is as a result of an overage 
of the sub-ACL allocated to the groundfish fishery pursuant to 
paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H)(2) of this section, the applicable AM Area(s) 
shall be in effect for any limited access NE multispecies permitted 
vessel fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip. If an overage 
of the overall ACL for SNE/MA windowpane flounder is as a result of 
overages of both the groundfish fishery and exempted fishery sub-ACLs, 
the applicable AM area(s) shall be in effect for both the groundfish 
fishery and exempted fisheries. If a sub-ACL for either stock of 
windowpane flounder or ocean pout is allocated to another fishery, 
consistent with the process specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), and AMs 
are otherwise developed for that fishery, the groundfish fishery AM 
shall only be implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the groundfish 
fishery is exceeded (i.e.,

[[Page 18217]]

the sector and common pool catch for a particular stock, including the 
common pool's share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by 
excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery pursuant to 
Sec.  648.90(a)(5) exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall ACL 
is also exceeded.

        Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
2..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]20'
3..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]20'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]00'
5..............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]00'
6..............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]40'
1..............................  41[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


        Northern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
2..............................  42[deg]10'           67[deg]20'
3..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]20'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           67[deg]00'
5..............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]00'
6..............................  40[deg]50'           67[deg]40'
1..............................  42[deg]10'           67[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


        Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Small AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]30'
2..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]20'
3..............................  40[deg]50'           71[deg]20'
4..............................  40[deg]50'           71[deg]30'
1..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]50'
2..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]10'
3..............................  41[deg]00'           71[deg]10'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           71[deg]20'
5..............................  40[deg]50'           71[deg]20'
6..............................  40[deg]50'           71[deg]50'
1..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]50'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Southern Windowpane Flounder and Ocean Pout Large AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  (\1\)                73[deg]30'
2..............................  40[deg]30'           73[deg]30'
3..............................  40[deg]30'           73[deg]50'
4..............................  40[deg]20'           73[deg]50'
5..............................  40[deg]20'           (\2\)
6..............................  (\3\)                73[deg]58.5'
7..............................  (\4\)                73[deg]58.5'
8..............................  40[deg]32.6' (\5\)   73[deg]56.4' (\5\)
1..............................  (\1\)                73[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The southern-most coastline of Long Island, NY at 73[deg]30' W.
  longitude.
\2\ The eastern-most coastline of NJ at 40[deg]20' N. latitude, then
  northward along the NJ coastline to Point 6.
\3\ The northern-most coastline of NJ at 73[deg]58.5' W. longitude.
\4\ The southern-most coastline of Long Island, NY at 73[deg]58.5' W.
  longitude.
\5\ The approximate location of the southwest corner of the Rockaway
  Peninsula, Queens, NY, then eastward along the southern-most coastline
  of Long Island, NY (excluding South Oyster Bay), back to Point 1.

    (2) Atlantic halibut. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for 
Atlantic halibut is exceeded, as described in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D)(2), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty 
buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented, as specified in 
paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this section. If the overall ACL is exceeded 
by 21 percent or more, the applicable large AM area(s) for the stock 
shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this 
section, and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The 
AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted. Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and 
fishing with trawl gear in the Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area may 
only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process 
defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). When in effect, a limited access NE 
multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet or longline gear may not 
fish or be in the Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Areas, unless 
transiting with its gear stowed in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b), or 
such gear was approved consistent with the process defined in Sec.  
648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL for Atlantic halibut is allocated to another 
fishery, consistent with the process specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), 
and AMs are developed for that fishery, the groundfish fishery AM shall 
only be implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the groundfish fishery 
is exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular 
stock, including the common pool's share of any overage of the overall 
ACL caused by excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery 
pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(5) exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the 
overall ACL is also exceeded.

                   Atlantic Halibut Trawl Gear AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]00'           69[deg]20'
2..............................  42[deg]00'           68[deg]20'
3..............................  41[deg]30'           68[deg]20'
4..............................  41[deg]30'           69[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                  Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]40'           69[deg]40'
2..............................  41[deg]40'           69[deg]30'
3..............................  41[deg]30'           69[deg]30'
4..............................  41[deg]30'           69[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                  Atlantic Halibut Fixed Gear AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  43[deg]10'           69[deg]40'
2..............................  43[deg]10'           69[deg]30'
3..............................  43[deg]00'           69[deg]30'
4..............................  43[deg]00'           69[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (3) Atlantic wolffish. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for 
Atlantic wolffish is exceeded, as described in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D)(3), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty 
buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented, as specified in 
paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this section. If the overall ACL is exceeded 
by 21 percent or more, the applicable large AM area(s) for the stock 
shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this 
section, and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The 
AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted. Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and 
fishing with trawl gear in the Atlantic Wolffish Trawl Gear AM Area may 
only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process 
defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). When in effect, a limited access NE 
multispecies permitted vessel with gillnet or longline gear may not 
fish or be in the Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Areas, unless 
transiting with

[[Page 18218]]

its gear stowed in accordance with Sec.  648.23(b), or such gear was 
approved consistent with the process defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). If 
a sub-ACL for Atlantic wolffish is allocated to another fishery, 
consistent with the process specified at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), and AMs 
are developed for that fishery, the groundfish fishery AM shall only be 
implemented if the sub-ACL allocated to the groundfish fishery is 
exceeded (i.e., the sector and common pool catch for a particular 
stock, including the common pool's share of any overage of the overall 
ACL caused by excessive catch by other sub-components of the fishery 
pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(5) exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the 
overall ACL is also exceeded.

                  Atlantic Wolffish Trawl Gear AM Area
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]30'           70[deg]30'
2..............................  42[deg]30'           70[deg]15'
3..............................  42[deg]15'           70[deg]15'
4..............................  42[deg]15'           70[deg]10'
5..............................  42[deg]10'           70[deg]10'
6..............................  42[deg]10'           70[deg]20'
7..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]20'
8..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                 Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]40'           69[deg]40'
2..............................  41[deg]40'           69[deg]30'
3..............................  41[deg]30'           69[deg]30'
4..............................  41[deg]30'           69[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                 Atlantic Wolffish Fixed Gear AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  42[deg]30'           70[deg]20'
2..............................  42[deg]30'           70[deg]15'
3..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]15'
4..............................  42[deg]20'           70[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------

     (4) SNE/MA winter flounder. If NMFS determines the overall ACL for 
SNE/MA winter flounder is exceeded, as described in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(i)(D)(4), by any amount greater than the management uncertainty 
buffer, the applicable AM areas shall be implemented, as specified in 
paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this section. If the overall ACL is exceeded 
by 21 percent or more, the applicable large AM area(s) for the stock 
shall be implemented, as specified in paragraph (a)(5)(i)(D) of this 
section, and the Council shall revisit the AM in a future action. The 
AM areas defined below are bounded by the following coordinates, 
connected in the order listed by straight lines, unless otherwise 
noted. Any vessel issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and 
fishing with trawl gear in the SNE/MA Winter Flounder Trawl Gear AM 
Area may only use a haddock separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(a)(3)(iii)(A); a Ruhle trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.85(b)(6)(iv)(J)(3); a rope separator trawl, as specified in Sec.  
648.84(e); or any other gear approved consistent with the process 
defined in Sec.  648.85(b)(6). If a sub-ACL for SNE/MA winter flounder 
is allocated to another fishery, consistent with the process specified 
at Sec.  648.90(a)(4), and AMs are developed for that fishery, the 
groundfish fishery AM shall only be implemented if the sub-ACL 
allocated to the groundfish fishery is exceeded (i.e., the sector and 
common pool catch for a particular stock, including the common pool's 
share of any overage of the overall ACL caused by excessive catch by 
other sub-components of the fishery pursuant to Sec.  648.90(a)(5) 
exceeds the common pool sub-ACL) and the overall ACL is also exceeded.

               SNE/MA Winter Flounder Trawl Gear AM Area 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]40' \1\
2..............................  41[deg]10'           71[deg]20'
3..............................  41[deg]00'           71[deg]20'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           71[deg]40'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Point 1 connects to Point 2 along 41[deg]10' N or the southern
  coastline of Block Island, RI, whichever is further south.


               SNE/MA Winter Flounder Trawl Gear AM Area 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]20'           70[deg]30'
2..............................  41[deg]20'           70[deg]20'
3..............................  41[deg]00'           70[deg]20'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           70[deg]30'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


               SNE/MA Winter Flounder Trawl Gear AM Area 3
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]20'
2..............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]10'
3..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]10'
4..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------


               SNE/MA Winter Flounder Trawl Gear AM Area 4
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Point                   N. latitude         W. longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..............................  41[deg]20'           69[deg]20'
2..............................  41[deg]20'           (\1\)
3..............................  (\1\)                69[deg]00'
4..............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]00'
5..............................  41[deg]00'           69[deg]10'
6..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]10'
7..............................  41[deg]10'           69[deg]20'
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The southwest-facing boundary of Closed Area I.

    (E) [Reserved].
    (ii) AMs if the overall ACL for a regulated species or ocean pout 
stock is exceeded. If the catch of any stock of regulated species or 
ocean pout by vessels fishing outside of the NE multispecies fishery; 
vessels fishing in state waters outside of the FMP; or vessels fishing 
in exempted fisheries, as defined in this part, exceeds the sub-
component of the ACL for that stock specified for such fisheries 
pursuant to paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through (G) of this section, and 
the overall ACL for that stock is exceeded, then the amount of the 
overage of the overall ACL for that stock due to catch from vessels 
fishing outside of the NE multispecies fishery shall be distributed 
among components of the NE multispecies fishery based upon each 
component's share of that stock's ACL available to the NE multispecies 
fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(4)(iii)(H) of this section. Each 
component's share of the ACL overage for a particular stock would be 
then added to the catch of that stock by each component of the NE 
multispecies fishery to determine if the resulting sum of catch of that 
stock for each component of the fishery exceeds that individual 
component's share of that stock's ACL available to the NE multispecies 
fishery. If the total catch of that stock by any component of the NE 
multispecies fishery exceeds the amount of the ACL specified for that 
component of the NE multispecies fishery pursuant to paragraph 
(a)(4)(iii)(H) of this section, then the AMs specified in paragraphs 
(a)(5)(i)(A) through (C) of this section shall take effect, as 
applicable. If the catch of any stock of regulated species or ocean 
pout by vessels outside of the FMP exceeds the sub-component of the ACL 
for that stock specified pursuant to paragraphs (a)(4)(iii)(A) through 
(C) of this section, but the overall ACL for that stock is not 
exceeded, even after consideration of the catch of that stock by other 
sub-components of the fishery, then the AMs specified in this paragraph 
(a)(5)(ii) shall not take effect.
    (iii) AMs if the incidental catch cap for the Atlantic herring 
fishery is

[[Page 18219]]

exceeded. At the end of the NE multispecies fishing year, NMFS shall 
evaluate Atlantic herring fishery catch using VTR, VMS, IVR, observer 
data, and any other available information to determine whether a 
haddock incidental catch cap has been exceeded based upon the 
cumulative catch of vessels issued an Atlantic herring permit and 
fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3. 
If the catch of haddock by all vessels issued an Atlantic herring 
permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, 
and/or 3, exceeds the amount of the incidental catch cap specified in 
Sec.  648.85(d) of this section, then the appropriate incidental catch 
cap shall be reduced by the overage on a pound-for-pound basis during 
the following fishing year. Any overage reductions shall be announced 
by the Regional Administrator in the Federal Register, accordance with 
the Administrative Procedure Act, prior to the start of the next NE 
multispecies fishing year after which the overage occurred, if 
possible, or as soon as possible thereafter if the overage is not 
determined until after the end of the NE multispecies fishing year in 
which the overage occurred.
* * * * *
0
16. In Sec.  648.201, revise paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.201  AMs and harvest controls.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) When the Regional Administrator has determined that the GOM 
and/or GB incidental catch cap for haddock in Sec.  648.85(d) has been 
caught, no vessel issued a Federal Atlantic herring permit and fishing 
with midwater trawl gear in the applicable Accountability Measure (AM) 
Area, i.e., the Herring GOM Haddock AM Area or Herring GB Haddock AM 
Area, as defined in Sec.  648.86(a)(3)(ii)(A)(2) and (3) of this part, 
may not fish for, possess, or land herring in excess of 2,000 lb (907.2 
kg) per trip in or from the applicable AM Area, unless all herring 
possessed and landed by a vessel were caught outside the applicable AM 
Area and the vessel complies with the gear stowage provisions specified 
in Sec.  648.23(b) while transiting the applicable AM Area. Upon this 
determination, the haddock possession limit is reduced to 0 lb (0 kg) 
in the applicable AM area, for a vessel issued a Federal Atlantic 
herring permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear or for a vessel 
issued an All Areas Limited Access Herring Permit and/or an Areas 2 and 
3 Limited Access Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, 
regardless of area fished or gear used, in the applicable AM area, 
unless the vessel also possesses a Northeast multispecies permit and is 
operating on a declared (consistent with Sec.  648.10(g)) Northeast 
multispecies trip.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-06774 Filed 3-22-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P