[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 77 (Monday, April 22, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23733-23734]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09390]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

RIN 0648-AY47


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic 
Herring Fishery; Amendment 5

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

ACTION: Announcement of availability of fishery management plan 
amendment; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces that the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council) has submitted Amendment 5 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 5), incorporating the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), for review by the Secretary of Commerce 
and is requesting comments from the public.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before 5 p.m., local time, June 
21, 2013.

ADDRESSES: The Council prepared a FEIS for Amendment 5 that describes 
the proposed action and other considered alternatives and provides a 
thorough analysis of the impacts of the proposed measures and 
alternatives. Copies of Amendment 5, including the FEIS, the Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and the IRFA, are available from: Thomas A. Nies, 
Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water 
Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. The FEIS/RIR/IRFA is also accessible via 
the internet at http://www.nero.nmfs.gov.
    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-
2013-0066, 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-2013-0066, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, 
Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, ``Comments on Herring 
Amendment 5 NOA.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Carrie Nordeen.
    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 formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Nordeen, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, 978-281-9272; fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The goals of Amendment 5 are to: (1) Improve the collection of 
real-time, accurate catch information; (2) enhance the monitoring and 
sampling of catch at-sea; and (3) address bycatch issues through 
responsible management.
    On May 8, 2008 (73 FR 26082), the Council published a notice of 
intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for Amendment 4 to Atlantic Herring FMP 
to consider measures to: Improve long-term monitoring of catch 
(landings and bycatch) in the herring fishery, implement annual catch 
limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) consistent with the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), and 
develop a sector allocation process or other limited access privilege 
program for the herring fishery. The Council subsequently conducted 
scoping meetings during May and June of 2008 to discuss and take 
comments on alternatives to these measures. After considering the 
complexity of the issues under consideration in Amendment 4, the 
Council voted on June 23, 2009, to split the action into two amendments 
to ensure the MSA requirements for complying with provisions for ACLs 
and AMs were be met by 2011. The ACL and AM components moved forward in 
Amendment 4, all other measures formerly considered in Amendment 4 were 
to be considered in Amendment 5. A supplementary NOI was published on 
December 28, 2009, (74 FR 68577) announcing the split between the 
amendments, and that impacts associated with alternatives considered in 
Amendment 5 would be analyzed in an EIS. At that time, measures 
considered under Amendment 5 included: Catch-monitoring program, 
measures to address river herring bycatch, midwater trawl access to 
groundfish closed areas, and measures to address interactions with the 
Atlantic mackerel fishery.
    Following further development of Amendment 5, the Council conducted 
MSA public hearings in March 2012, National Environmental Policy Act 
public hearings at the beginning of June 2012, and following the public 
comment period on the draft EIS that ended on June 4, 2012, the Council 
adopted Amendment 5 on June 20, 2012. The Council submitted Amendment 5 
to NOAA Fisheries Service (NMFS) for review on September 10, 2012. 
Following a series of revisions, the Council submitted a revised 
version of Amendment 5 to NMFS on March 25, 2013. In Amendment 5, 
measures recommended by the Council would:
     Modify the herring transfer at-sea and offload definitions 
to better document the transfer of fish;
     Expand possession limit restrictions to all vessels 
working cooperatively, consistent with pair trawl requirements;
     Eliminate the vessel monitoring system (VMS) power-down 
provision for limited access herring vessels, consistent with VMS 
provisions for other fisheries;
     Establish an ``At-Sea Herring Dealer'' permit to better 
document the at-sea transfer and sale of herring;
     Establish an ``Areas \2/3\ Open Access Permit'' to reduce 
the potential for the regulatory discarding of herring in the Atlantic 
mackerel fishery;
     Expand dealer reporting requirements;
     Allow vessels to enroll as herring carriers with either a 
VMS declaration or letter of authorization to increase operational 
flexibility;
     Expand pre-trip and pre-landing notification requirements, 
as well as adding a VMS gear declaration, to all limited access herring 
vessels to help facilitate monitoring;
     Reduce the advance notice requirement for the observer 
pre-trip notification from 72 hours to 48 hours;
     Expand vessel requirements related to at-sea observer 
sampling to help ensure safe sampling and improve data quality;
     Establish measures to minimize the discarding of catch 
before it has been made available to observers for sampling;

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     Increase observer coverage on Category A and B vessels and 
require industry contributions of $325 per day;
     Establish the ability to consider a river herring catch 
cap in a future framework to directly control river herring fishing 
mortality;
     Allow the joint Sustainable Fisheries Coalition/University 
of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology/Massachusetts 
Department of Marine Fisheries bycatch avoidance program to investigate 
providing real-time, cost-effective information on river herring 
distribution and fishery encounters in River Herring Monitoring/
Avoidance Areas; and
     Expand at-sea sampling of midwater trawl vessels fishing 
in groundfish closed areas.
    Public comments are solicited on Amendment 5 and its incorporated 
documents through the end of the comment period stated in this notice 
of availability (NOA). Following NMFS's review of the amendment under 
the MSA, a rule proposing the implementation of measures in Amendment 5 
is anticipated to be published in the Federal Register for public 
comment. Public comments must be received by the end of the comment 
period provided in this NOA of Amendment 5 to be considered in the 
approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. All comments received 
by the end of the comment period on the NOA of Amendment 5, whether 
specifically directed to NOA or the proposed rule, will be considered 
in the approval/disapproval decision. Comments received after the end 
of the comment period for the NOA will not be considered in the 
approval/disapproval decision of Amendment 5.

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

    Dated: April 17, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-09390 Filed 4-19-13; 8:45 am]
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