[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 78 (Tuesday, April 23, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 23858-23864]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09574]



[[Page 23858]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 120404257-3325-02]
RIN 0648-BB58


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 18B

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement management measures 
described in Amendment 18B to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 18B), 
as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). 
This final rule: establishes a longline endorsement program for the 
commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery; 
establishes initial eligibility requirements for a golden tilefish 
longline endorsement; establishes an appeals process; allocates the 
commercial golden tilefish annual catch limit (ACL) among gear groups; 
establishes a procedure for the transfer of golden tilefish 
endorsements; and modifies the golden tilefish trip limits; and 
establishes a trip limit for commercial fishermen who do not receive a 
golden tilefish longline endorsement. The intent of this rule is to 
reduce overcapacity in the commercial golden tilefish component of the 
snapper-grouper fishery.

DATES: This rule is effective May 23, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Amendment 18B may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/SASnapperGrouperHomepage.htm. Amendment 18B includes an environmental 
assessment, a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA), and a 
Fishery Impact Statement.
    Comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of 
the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule 
may be submitted in writing to Anik Clemens, Southeast Regional Office, 
NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; and Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB), by email at OIRA Submission@omb.eop.gov, 
or by fax to 202-395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karla Gore, Southeast Regional Office, 
NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305; email: Karla.Gore@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery off the southern 
Atlantic states includes golden tilefish and is managed under the FMP 
for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The 
FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented under the authority 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
    On October 26, 2012, NMFS published a notice of availability for 
Amendment 18B and requested comments (77 FR 65356). On December 19, 
2012, NMFS published a proposed rule for Amendment 18B and requested 
public comments (77 FR 75093). The proposed rule and Amendment 18B 
outline the rationale for the actions contained in this final rule. 
Amendment 18B was approved by the Secretary of Commerce on January 25, 
2013. A summary of the actions implemented by this final rule are 
provided below.
    This final rule: establishes a longline endorsement program for the 
commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery; 
establishes initial eligibility requirements for a golden tilefish 
longline endorsement; establishes an appeals process; allocates the 
commercial golden tilefish ACL among gear groups; establishes a 
procedure for the transfer of golden tilefish endorsements; modifies 
the golden tilefish trip limits; and establishes a trip limit for 
commercial fishermen who do not receive a golden tilefish longline 
endorsement. This final rule also contains two administrative changes 
unrelated to Amendment 18B. Through this final rule, NMFS amends 50 CFR 
622.194, paragraph (a), to include maximum sustainable yield proxy, 
optimum yield, a quota of zero, annual catch targets, maximum fishing 
mortality threshold, minimum stock size threshold, size limits, fishing 
year, and rebuilding plans to the list of items that can be established 
or modified in accordance with the framework procedure for the FMP. 
Additionally, NMFS revises the phrase ``Federal charter vessel/headboat 
permit'' to read ``Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat 
permit'' in several paragraphs in 50 CFR 622.193 and 622.280.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received a total of 16 comments on Amendment 18B and the 
proposed rule, which include comments from private citizens, 
recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, and fishing associations. 
One comment expressed support for the amendment and two comments were 
unrelated to the actions in Amendment 18B. The specific comments 
related to the actions contained in Amendment 18B and the proposed rule 
and NMFS' respective responses, are summarized below.
    Comment 1: The golden tilefish recreational sector allocation (3 
percent) is unfair and should be increased.
    Response: The golden tilefish recreational sector allocation of 3 
percent was established in Amendment 17B to the FMP (75 FR 82280, 
December 30, 2012), and changing that allocation is outside the scope 
of Amendment 18B. Amendment 18B does divide the commercial sector ACL 
between the longline (75 percent) and hook-and-line (25 percent) gear 
groups.
    Comment 2: A sunset clause for the 25 percent allocation to the 
hook-and-line component of the commercial sector should be established 
if that component cannot harvest golden tilefish at that allocated 
level.
    Response: The Council did not choose a sunset clause for the hook-
and-line allocation in Amendment 18B, and NMFS may not add such a 
requirement. If the hook-and-line component is unable to harvest their 
portion of the ACL allotted through Amendment 18B, the Council may 
consider changing that allocation in a future amendment to the FMP.
    Comment 3: The ACL allocation should be divided equally for the 
longline and hook-and-line components of the commercial sector.
    Response: NMFS disagrees. Amendment 18B allocates 25 percent of the 
commercial ACL to the hook-and-line component and 75 percent to the 
longline component, which currently equates to 135,324 lb (61,382 kg), 
gutted weight, for the hook-and-line component and 405,971 lb (184,145 
kg), gutted weight, for the longline component. The Council examined 
past and present landings when considering options for gear 
allocations, and determined that allocating 25 percent of the ACL to 
the hook-and-line component, and 75 percent to the longline component 
was appropriate. The hook-and-line component caught 25 percent of the 
total commercial golden tilefish landings during 2001-2005. Since 2005, 
the proportion of the golden tilefish landings taken by the hook-and-

[[Page 23859]]

line component has progressively decreased due to a reduced golden 
tilefish quota that was implemented in 2006, which has been met earlier 
each year. As a result, hook-and-line fishermen, who typically do not 
fish until the fall, have been increasingly unable to participate in 
the golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery because 
the ACL was being caught quickly each fishing season by the longline 
component. NMFS agrees that allocating 25 percent of the commercial ACL 
to the hook-and-line component and 75 percent to the longline component 
would restore access to the resource by hook-and-line fishermen to 
proportions observed prior to 2006, and during periods when they have 
historically harvested golden tilefish (late summer to early fall). If 
the hook-and-line component regularly reaches its ACL allocation cap in 
the future, the Council may consider increasing the allocation in a 
future amendment to the FMP.
    Comment 4: The establishment of an endorsement program grants 
private rights to a public resource.
    Response: An endorsement does not grant a private right to a public 
resource. An endorsement is a type of permit that may be transferred, 
revoked, suspended, denied, conditioned, or restricted in accordance 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Anyone with a commercial Snapper-Grouper 
Unlimited or 225-lb Trip-Limited Permit who did not receive an 
endorsement would still be able to harvest commercial quantities of 
golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the 500-lb (227-kg), 
gutted weight, trip limit. However, those with the 225-lb Trip-Limited 
Permit are limited to 225 lb (102 kg).

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    On April 17, 2013, NMFS published in the Federal Register an 
interim final rule to reorganize the regulations in 50 CFR part 622 for 
the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and the Caribbean (78 FR 22950). 
That interim final rule did not create any new rights or obligations; 
it reorganized the existing regulatory requirements in the Code of 
Federal Regulations into a new format. This final rule incorporates 
this new format into the regulatory text; it does not change the 
specific regulatory requirements that were contained in the proposed 
rule. Therefore, as a result of this reorganization, the permit text 
previously located at Sec.  622.4(a)(2)(vi) is now at Sec.  
622.170(a)(1), the golden tilefish endorsement text previously located 
at Sec.  622.4(a)(2)(xvi) is now at Sec.  622.170(f), the species 
limitations text previously located at Sec.  622.41(d)(6) is now at 
Sec.  622.188(g), the species limitations text previously located at 
Sec.  622.41(d)(6) is now at Sec.  622.188(g), the quota text 
previously located at Sec.  622.42(e)(2) is now at Sec.  622.191(a)(2), 
the AMs text previously at Sec.  622.48(f) is now at Sec.  622.194(a), 
and the edits to the phrase ``Federal charter vessel/headboat permit'' 
previously found in Sec.  622.49 are now at Sec. Sec.  622.193 and 
622.280. The transfer text previously located at Sec.  622.4(g)(1) is 
longer needed because it is covered in Sec.  622.4(f).

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
that the actions contained in this final rule are necessary for the 
conservation and management of the snapper-grouper fishery in the South 
Atlantic and are consistent with Amendment 18B, the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    A FRFA was prepared for this action. The FRFA incorporates the 
IRFA, a summary of the significant economic issues raised by public 
comments, NMFS' responses to those comments, and a summary of the 
analyses completed to support the action. The FRFA follows.
    No public comments specific to the IRFA were received and, 
therefore, no public comments are addressed in this FRFA. However, 
several comments with socioeconomic implications were received and are 
addressed in the Comments and Responses section (Comments 1 and 3). No 
changes in the final rule were made in response to public comments.
    NMFS agrees that the Council's choice of preferred alternatives 
would best achieve the Council's objectives while minimizing, to the 
extent practicable, the adverse effects on fishers, support industries, 
and associated communities. The preamble to this final rule provides a 
statement and need for, and objectives of, this rule and it is not 
repeated here.
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this 
final rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules 
have been identified.
    The only new reporting, record-keeping, or other compliance 
requirements that this final rule will introduce pertain to the 
requirement to have a commercial golden tilefish longline endorsement 
to fish for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ) using longline gear or possess golden tilefish on a vessel 
in the South Atlantic EEZ with longline gear aboard. The initial 
endorsement will be sent directly to those qualifying for the 
endorsement. Renewals and transfers of endorsements are subject to the 
same fees as permits. Because the endorsement would be received through 
completion of the normal permitting process, no special professional 
skills would be required to satisfy this new compliance requirement. In 
the case of appeals, the appellants are required to submit logbook 
information as supporting documentation. Submission of logbook 
information does not require special professional skill.
    NMFS expects this final rule to directly affect commercial 
fishermen in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery. The Small 
Business Administration established size criteria for all major 
industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A business 
involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business if 
independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of 
operation (including its affiliates), and its combined annual receipts 
are not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish fishing) 
for all of its affiliated operations worldwide.
    During 2005-2011, a total of 142 hook-and-line vessels with valid 
permits to operate in the commercial snapper-grouper fishery landed 
golden tilefish. These vessels generated annual average dockside 
revenues of approximately $69,000 (2010 dollars) from golden tilefish, 
or $603,000 (2010 dollars) from all species, inclusive of golden 
tilefish, caught in the same trips as golden tilefish. On average, each 
of these vessels generated about $4,246 (2010 dollars) in gross 
revenues from all species caught only in trips in which golden tilefish 
was caught. During the same period, a total of 43 longline vessels with 
valid permits to operate in the commercial snapper-grouper fishery 
landed golden tilefish. Their annual average revenues were about 
$835,000 (2010 dollars) from golden tilefish, or $1,218,000 (2010 
dollars) from all species, inclusive of golden tilefish, caught in the 
same trips as golden tilefish. Each of these vessels, therefore, 
generated an average of approximately $28,330 (2010 dollars) in gross 
revenues from all species caught only in trips in which golden tilefish 
was caught.
    Based on revenue information, all commercial vessels affected by 
the rule can be considered small entities.
    NMFS expects the final rule to directly affect all federally-
permitted commercial vessels harvesting golden tilefish in the South 
Atlantic EEZ. All directly affected entities have been

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determined, for the purpose of this analysis, to be small entities. 
Therefore, NMFS determines that this final rule will affect a 
substantial number of small entities.
    NMFS considers all entities expected to be affected by the rule as 
small entities, so the issue of disproportional effects on small versus 
large entities does not arise in the present case.
    Establishing a longline endorsement system will limit the expansion 
of capital and effort in the longline component of the commercial 
sector for golden tilefish. Because this component is by far the 
dominant component in the commercial harvest of golden tilefish, an 
endorsement system could extend the commercial fishing season, thereby 
providing the industry opportunities to remain profitable. However, 
unlike the case with a management system that assigns harvesting 
privileges to specific fishermen, an endorsement system will not 
eliminate the underlying incentive to ``race to fish.'' With this 
incentive remaining intact, effort and capital stuffing (increasing 
vessel capacity, speed or fishing accessories) will continue to 
increase over time and eventually shorten the fishing season.
    Under the selected criteria for a longline endorsement, 24 vessels 
that used longline gear during 2006-2011 will qualify for a longline 
endorsement; 19 vessels that used longline gear during the same time 
period will not qualify for an endorsement. Qualifying vessels 
generated total revenues of about $788,000 (2010 dollars) annually from 
golden tilefish while non-qualifying vessels generated a total of about 
$47,000 (2010 dollars) in annual revenues from golden tilefish. The 
decrease in revenues to non-qualifying vessels from not receiving an 
endorsement would be about 17 percent of their total revenues. Non-
qualifying vessels could switch gear and recoup part of their losses; 
nonetheless, their short-term profits will still likely suffer. 
However, relative to the total profits of commercial vessels in the 
snapper-grouper fishery, revenue and profit reductions to non-
qualifying vessels will not be significant. In terms of revenues, a 
loss of $47,000 (2010 dollars) will be about 3 percent of total 
revenues by vessels landing golden tilefish and less than 1 percent of 
total revenues by all commercial vessels in the South Atlantic. 
Moreover, revenue and profit losses to non-qualifying vessels will 
likely be gained by qualifying vessels. Considering the fishing season 
closures in recent years, qualifying vessels will most likely harvest 
the golden tilefish forgone by non-qualifying vessels. This will 
increase the revenues and possibly the profits of qualifying vessels, 
and will decrease the profits of non-qualifying vessels. Whether this 
will increase overall industry profits cannot be ascertained based on 
available information. It is possible that short-term industry profits 
will increase or at least not dissipate quickly. With fewer 
participants in the longline component, and noting that the longline 
component is by far the dominant component in the commercial harvest of 
golden tilefish, the fishing season for the longline component could 
lengthen and thereby allow qualifying vessels to command better prices 
for golden tilefish. These effects, however, will be transitory. The 
incentive to ``race to fish'' is still intact so that effort from 
qualifying vessels could increase in the medium- and long-term, 
eventually erasing any profit gains from establishing the endorsement.
    Establishing an appeals process for fishermen initially excluded 
from the golden tilefish longline endorsement will provide 
opportunities for those legitimately qualified to receive their 
endorsement after an initial denial. Given the narrow basis for appeals 
(e.g., landings reported on NMFS logbook records or state landing 
records), only a limited number of appeals will likely be successful.
    Establishing a 75-percent longline and 25-percent hook-and-line 
allocation of the golden tilefish commercial ACL will ensure the 
continued presence of the hook-and-line component in the commercial 
harvest of golden tilefish. Relative to the baseline (2005-2011 average 
landings), this allocation ratio will redistribute the harvest of 
golden tilefish from the longline component to the hook-and-line 
component. This, in theory, will result in negative effects on the 
longline component and positive effects on the hook-and-line component. 
However, because the commercial quota (commercial ACL) is increased 
well above the baseline landings of both components, this allocation 
ratio will yield positive revenue effects to both components. Revenue 
gains are expected to total $302,000 (2010 dollars) to the entire hook-
and-line component and $271,000 (2010 dollars) to the entire longline 
component, or total revenue effects of about $573,000 (2010 dollars) 
for the whole commercial sector. NMFS expects that these positive 
revenue effects will translate to positive profit effects on both 
components because many vessel trips will be able to retain golden 
tilefish.
    Allowing the transfer of golden tilefish longline endorsements 
between individuals or entities with South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-
Grouper Permits will open opportunities for increasing the value of the 
endorsement asset and for the more efficient operators to engage in the 
fishery. Such opportunities, however, will still be limited by the 
requirement that transfers of endorsements be made between individuals/
entities possessing South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Unlimited Permits. 
These snapper-grouper commercial permits are under a limited entry 
program.
    Eliminating the 300-lb (136-kg), gutted weight, commercial trip 
limit when 75 percent of the commercial ACL is taken will benefit 
longline vessels. This decrease of the trip limit was intended to 
preserve the presence of the hook-and-line component, but is now 
unnecessary because the hook-and-line component has a separate 
allocation. Thus, this alternative will allow the longline component, 
whose trips will likely be unprofitable under a trip limit of 300 lb 
(136 kg), gutted weight, to efficiently use its capacity and maximize 
its revenues and likely profits as well.
    Establishing a 500-lb (223-kg), gutted weight, trip limit for 
commercial fishermen who will not receive a longline endorsement will 
affect 14 out of 249 trips based on average 2005-2011 data. This trip 
limit will reduce per trip landings, and it is also expected to reduce 
total landings for those not receiving an endorsement, at least in its 
first year of implementation. Total landings will be reduced by about 
24,000 lb (10,886 kg), gutted weight, worth $69,000 (2010 dollars). The 
effects of a trip limit are generally temporary; vessels incurring 
revenue reductions due to a trip limit could recoup their losses by 
taking more trips so long as those trips remain profitable. Considering 
the relatively few trips that will be affected, this trip limit will 
likely not be too constraining as to reduce the sector's overall 
profits.
    The following discussion analyzes the alternatives that were not 
chosen by the Council.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative that would 
establish an endorsement system, were considered for limiting 
participation in the golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper 
fishery through an endorsement system. The no action alternative would 
not limit effort in the commercial harvest of golden tilefish and thus 
would not address the evolving derby (race to fish) in the commercial 
sector.
    Two alternatives were considered for establishing eligibility 
requirements for the longline endorsement. The first alternative, the 
no action alternative,

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would make the endorsement system ineffective in addressing increasing 
effort in the commercial sector because everyone with a valid 
commercial snapper-grouper permit could receive an endorsement. The 
second alternative consists of 9 sub-alternatives, including the 
preferred sub-alternative, with each providing for an endorsement 
eligibility based on a minimum amount of golden tilefish landings using 
longline gear during a given period. The first sub-alternative would 
require a minimum of 2,000 lb (907 kg), gutted weight, total longline 
landings during 2006-2008. The second sub-alternative would require a 
minimum of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg), gutted weight, total longline landings 
during 2006-2008. The third sub-alternative would require a minimum of 
5,000 lb (2,268 kg), gutted weight, average longline landings during 
2006-2008. The fourth sub-alternative would require a minimum of 5,000 
lb (2,268 kg), gutted weight, average longline landings during 2007-
2009. The fifth sub-alternative would require a minimum of 10,000 lb 
(4,536 kg), gutted weight, average longline landings during 2007-2009. 
The sixth sub-alternative would require a minimum of 5,000 lb (2,268 
kg), gutted weight, average longline landings for the best 3 years 
during 2006-2010. The seventh sub-alternative would require a minimum 
of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg), gutted weight, average longline landings for 
the best 3 years during 2006-2011. The eighth sub-alternative would 
require a minimum of 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), gutted weight, average 
longline landings for the best 3 years during 2006-2011. Each of these 
sub-alternatives would qualify fewer entities for the endorsement and 
thus would result in greater forgone revenues than the preferred sub-
alternative.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for establishing an appeals process for fishermen initially 
excluded from the endorsement program. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would not establish an appeals process. This 
alternative has the potential to unduly penalize participants, mainly 
due to errors in data reporting or recording. The second alternative is 
the same as the preferred alternative, except it would additionally 
establish a special board composed of state directors/designees that 
would review, evaluate, and make individual recommendations to the RA. 
This alternative would introduce an additional administrative burden 
that may not improve the appeals process considering that the only 
major issue subject to appeals is the landings record.
    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for allocating the commercial golden tilefish ACL among gear 
groups. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would not 
specify an allocation among gear groups. With this alternative, the 
already diminished share of the hook-and-line component in the harvest 
of golden tilefish could further decline. Consequently, further 
reductions in that component's revenues and profits could occur, 
negating the Council's intent to minimize negative economic impacts on 
this component. The second alternative would establish an 85 percent 
longline and 15 percent hook-and-line allocation, and the third 
alternative would establish a 90 percent longline and 10 percent hook-
and-line allocation. These two other alternatives would favor the 
longline component, but would allow the hook-and-line component to 
continue its operations. Similar to the preferred alternative, the 
effects of these alternatives on overall industry profits cannot be 
determined based on available information.
    Two alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for allowing transferability of longline endorsements. The 
first alternative, the no action alternative, would not allow transfers 
of endorsements. This alternative would limit the value of the 
endorsement asset and hinder the participation of potentially more 
efficient operators. The second alternative (preferred) includes two 
sub-alternatives, of which one is the preferred sub-alternative that 
would allow transfers of endorsements upon implementation of the 
program. The other sub-alternative would not allow transfers of 
endorsements during the first 2 years of the program. This sub-
alternative would mainly delay the entrance of more efficient operators 
and the generation of higher-valued endorsement assets.
    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for modifying the golden tilefish trip limit. The first 
alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the 4,000-lb 
(1,814-kg), gutted weight, trip limit that would be reduced to 300 lb 
(136 kg), gutted weight, if 75 percent of the commercial ACL is reached 
by September 1. The trip limit reduction to 300 lb (136 kg), gutted 
weight, which was partly established to preserve the presence of the 
hook-and-line component, is no longer necessary with the establishment 
of a separate allocation for each gear group. The second alternative 
would prohibit longline fishing for golden tilefish when 75 percent of 
the commercial ACL is reached. This alternative is not necessary 
because of the establishment of a separate allocation for each gear 
group. In addition, this would constrain the profits longline vessels 
could derive from the harvest of golden tilefish.
    Six alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were 
considered for establishing a trip limit for commercial fishermen who 
do not receive a longline endorsement. The first alternative, the no 
action alternative, would retain the 4,000-lb (1,814-kg), gutted 
weight, trip limit that would be reduced to 300 lb (136 kg), gutted 
weight, when 75 percent of the commercial ACL is reached. The second 
alternative would establish a 300-lb (136-kg), gutted weight, trip 
limit; the third alternative, a 400-lb (181-kg), gutted weight, trip 
limit; the fourth, a 100-lb (45-kg), gutted weight, trip limit; and, 
the fifth alternative, a 200-lb (91-kg), gutted weight, trip limit. 
Relative to the preferred alternative, all these other trip limits 
would be more restrictive and thus would likely result in larger 
reductions in vessel revenues and profits per trip.
    In addition to the actions considered in Amendment 18B included in 
this final rule, this final rule makes changes to the regulatory text 
in 50 CFR parts 622.194, 622.193, and 622.280. These changes are 
described in the preamble of this final rule. These changes are either 
clerical or simply clarify language associated with a prior regulatory 
action. As a result, none of these changes in the regulatory text would 
be expected to result in any reduction in profits to any small 
entities.
    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as small entity compliance 
guides. As part of the rulemaking process, NMFS prepared a fishery 
bulletin, which also serves as a small entity compliance guide. The 
fishery bulletin will be sent to all vessel permit holders in the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.
    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which 
have been approved by OMB under control numbers 0648-0205 and 0648-
0603. NMFS estimates the requirement for South Atlantic Unlimited 
Snapper-

[[Page 23862]]

Grouper Permit holders to submit their logbook information if they are 
appealing their landings data for a golden tilefish longline 
endorsement to average 2 hours per response. NMFS estimates the 
requirement to check boxes on the Federal Permit Application Form for a 
new endorsement, renewal, or transfer of the golden tilefish 
endorsement to average 1 minute per response. These estimates of the 
public reporting burden include the time for reviewing instructions, 
gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing 
the collection-of-information. Send comments regarding the burden 
estimate or any other aspect of the collection-of-information 
requirement, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS and 
to OMB (see ADDRESSES).
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure 
to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the requirements 
of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Commercial sector, Fisheries, Fishing, Golden tilefish, Snapper-
grouper Fishery, South Atlantic, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    Dated: April 17, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  622.170, paragraph (a)(1) is revised and paragraph (f) is 
added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.170  Permits and endorsements.

    (a) * * *
    (1) South Atlantic snapper-grouper. For a person aboard a vessel to 
be eligible for exemption from the bag limits for South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, to sell South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, to engage 
in the directed fishery for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ, 
to use a longline to fish for South Atlantic snapper-grouper in the 
South Atlantic EEZ, or to use a sea bass pot in the South Atlantic EEZ 
between 35[deg]15.19' N. lat. (due east of Cape Hatteras Light, NC) and 
28[deg]35.1' N. lat. (due east of the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, 
Cape Canaveral, FL), either a commercial vessel permit for South 
Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper Permit or a trip-limited permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper must have been issued to the vessel and 
must be on board. A vessel with a trip-limited commercial permit is 
limited on any trip to 225 lb (102.1 kg) of snapper-grouper. See Sec.  
622.171 for limitations on the use, transfer, and renewal of a 
commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper.
* * * * *
    (f) South Atlantic golden tilefish longline endorsement. For a 
person aboard a vessel, for which a valid commercial vessel permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited has been issued, to fish for 
or possess golden tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ using longline 
gear, a South Atlantic golden tilefish longline endorsement must have 
been issued to the vessel and must be on board. A permit or endorsement 
that has expired is not valid. This endorsement must be renewed 
annually and may only be renewed if the associated vessel has a valid 
commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited 
or if the endorsement and associated permit are being concurrently 
renewed. The RA will not reissue this endorsement if the endorsement is 
revoked or if the RA does not receive a complete application for 
renewal of the endorsement within 1 year after the endorsement's 
expiration date.
    (1) Initial eligibility. To be eligible for an initial South 
Atlantic golden tilefish longline endorsement, a person must have been 
issued and must possess a valid or renewable commercial vessel permit 
for South Atlantic snapper-grouper that has golden tilefish landings 
using longline gear averaging at least 5,000 lb (2,268 kg), gutted 
weight, over the best 3 years within the period 2006-2011. NMFS will 
attribute all applicable golden tilefish landings associated with a 
current South Atlantic snapper-grouper permit for the applicable 
landings history, to the current permit owner, including golden 
tilefish landings reported by a person(s) who held the permit prior to 
the current permit owner. Only legal landings reported in compliance 
with applicable state and Federal regulations are acceptable.
    (2) Initial issuance. On or about April 23, 2013, the RA will mail 
each eligible permittee a golden tilefish longline endorsement via 
certified mail, return receipt requested, to the permittee's address of 
record as listed in NMFS' permit files. An eligible permittee who does 
not receive an endorsement from the RA, must contact the RA no later 
than May 23, 2013, to clarify his/her endorsement status. A permittee 
who is denied an endorsement based on the RA's initial determination of 
eligibility and who disagrees with that determination may appeal to the 
RA.
    (3) Procedure for appealing golden tilefish longline endorsement 
eligibility and/or landings information. The only items subject to 
appeal are initial eligibility for a golden tilefish longline 
endorsement based on ownership of a qualifying snapper-grouper permit, 
the accuracy of the amount of landings, and the correct assignment of 
landings to the permittee. Appeals based on hardship factors will not 
be considered. Appeals must be submitted to the RA postmarked no later 
than August 21, 2013, and must contain documentation supporting the 
basis for the appeal. The National Appeals Office will review, 
evaluate, and render recommendations on appeals to the RA. The RA will 
then review each appeal, render a final decision on each appeal, and 
advise the appellant of the final NMFS decision.
    (i) Eligibility appeals. NMFS' records of snapper-grouper permits 
are the sole basis for determining ownership of such permits. A person 
who believes he/she meets the permit eligibility criteria based on 
ownership of a vessel under a different name, for example, as a result 
of ownership changes from individual to corporate or vice versa, must 
document his or her continuity of ownership and must submit that 
information with their appeal.
    (ii) Landings appeals. Determinations of appeals regarding landings 
data for 2006 through 2011 will be based on NMFS' logbook records, 
submitted on or before October 31, 2012. If NMFS' logbooks are not 
available, the RA may use state landings records or data for the period 
2006 through 2011 that were submitted in compliance with applicable 
Federal and state regulations on or before October 31, 2012.
    (4) Transferability. A valid or renewable golden tilefish 
endorsement may be transferred between any two entities that hold, or 
simultaneously obtain, a valid South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited 
permit. An endorsement may be transferred independently from the South 
Atlantic

[[Page 23863]]

snapper-grouper unlimited permit. NMFS will attribute golden tilefish 
landings to the associated South Atlantic Unlimited Snapper-Grouper 
Permit regardless of whether the landings occurred before or after the 
endorsement was issued. Only legal landings reported in compliance with 
applicable state and Federal regulations are acceptable.
    (5) Fees. No fee applies to the initial issuance of a golden 
tilefish longline endorsement. NMFS charges a fee for each renewal or 
replacement or transfer of such endorsement and calculates the amount 
of each fee in accordance with the procedures of the NOAA Finance 
Handbook for determining the administrative costs of each special 
product or service. The handbook is available from the RA. The 
appropriate fee must accompany each application for renewal or 
replacement or transfer.


0
3. In Sec.  622.188, paragraph (g) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.188  Required gear, authorized gear, and unauthorized gear.

* * * * *
    (g) Longline species limitation. A vessel that has on board a valid 
Federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper, excluding 
wreckfish, that fishes in the EEZ on a trip with a longline on board, 
may possess only the following South Atlantic snapper-grouper: snowy 
grouper, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, golden tilefish, blueline 
tilefish, and sand tilefish. See Sec.  622.170(f) for the requirement 
to possess a valid South Atlantic golden tilefish longline endorsement 
to fish for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ using longline 
gear. For the purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is considered to have 
a longline on board when a power-operated longline hauler, a cable of 
diameter suitable for use in the longline fishery on any reel, and 
gangions are on board. Removal of any one of these three elements 
constitutes removal of a longline.

0
4. In Sec.  622.190, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.190  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) Golden tilefish. (i) Longline and hook-and-line components 
combined--541,295 lb (245,527 kg).
    (ii) Hook-and-line component--135,324 lb (61,382 kg).
    (iii) Longline component--405,971 lb (184,145 kg).
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  622.191, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.191  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (2) Golden tilefish--(i) South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited 
permit holders, with a longline endorsement, using longline gear. Until 
the quota specified in Sec.  622.190(a)(2)(iii) is reached, 4,000 lb 
(1,814 kg), gutted weight; 4,480 lb (2,032 kg), round weight.
    (ii) South Atlantic snapper-grouper unlimited permit holders, 
without a longline endorsement, using hook-and-line gear. Until the 
quota specified in Sec.  622.190(a)(2)(ii) is reached, the trip limit 
for golden tilefish is 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight; 560 lb (254 kg), 
round weight. Vessels with golden tilefish longline endorsements are 
not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under 
this 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit.
    (iii) See Sec.  622.190(c)(1) for the limitations regarding golden 
tilefish after the applicable commercial quota is reached.
* * * * *

0
6. In Sec.  622.193, paragraph (a)(1) is revised and the last sentence 
of paragraphs (d)(1)(i), (g)(1)(i), (h)(1)(i), (i)(1)(i), (j)(1)(i), 
(l)(1)(i), (m)(1)(i), (o)(1)(i), (p)(1)(i), (q)(1)(i), (s)(1)(i), 
(t)(1)(i), (u)(1)(i), (w)(1)(i), and (x)(1)(i) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.193  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

    (a) * * *
    (1) Commercial sector--(i) Hook-and-line component. If commercial 
landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the 
commercial ACL (commercial quota) specified in Sec.  622.190(a)(2)(ii), 
the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register 
to close the hook-and-line component of the commercial sector for the 
remainder of the fishing year.
    (ii) Longline component. If commercial landings, as estimated by 
the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL (commercial 
quota) specified in Sec.  622.190(a)(2)(iii), the AA will file a 
notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the 
longline component of the commercial sector for the remainder of the 
fishing year. After the commercial ACL for the longline component is 
reached or projected to be reached, golden tilefish may not be fished 
for or possessed by a vessel with a golden tilefish longline 
endorsement.
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (i) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (l) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (m) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on

[[Page 23864]]

board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/
headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, 
without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or 
Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (o) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (p) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (q) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (s) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (t) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (u) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (w) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (x) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *

0
7. In Sec.  622.194, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.194  Adjustment of management measures

* * * * *
    (a) Biomass levels, age-structured analyses, target dates for 
rebuilding overfished species, MSY (or proxy), OY, ABC, TAC, quotas 
(including a quota of zero), annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch 
targets (ACTs), AMs, maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT), 
minimum stock size threshold (MSST), trip limits, bag limits, size 
limits, gear restrictions (ranging from regulation to complete 
prohibition), seasonal or area closures, fishing year, rebuilding 
plans, definitions of essential fish habitat, essential fish habitat, 
essential fish habitat HAPCs or Coral HAPCs, and restrictions on gear 
and fishing activities applicable in essential fish habitat and 
essential fish habitat HAPCs.
* * * * *

0
8. In Sec.  622.280, the last sentence of paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(1) 
are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.280  Annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures 
(AMs).

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * * This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-09574 Filed 4-22-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P