[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 86 (Friday, May 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25862-25865]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10461]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 130103002-3396-02]
RIN 0648-BC85


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Final 2013-2015 
Spiny Dogfish Fishery Specifications

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule implements specifications and management measures 
for the spiny dogfish fishery for the 2013-2015 fishing years 
consistent with the recommendations of the Mid-Atlantic and New England 
Fishery Management Councils. The approved commercial quotas represent 
increases over status quo levels, and the possession limit is also 
increased. The action is expected to result in positive economic 
impacts for the spiny dogfish fishery while maintaining the 
conservation objectives of the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan.

DATES: This rule is effective May 1, 2013. The specifications under 
``Final 2013-2015 Specifications'' in the preamble are effective May 1, 
2013, through April 30, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the specifications document, including the 
Environmental Assessment and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(EA/IRFA) and other supporting documents for the specifications, are 
available from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-
Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, 
Dover, DE 19901. The specifications document is also accessible via the 
Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.
    NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), which 
is contained in the Classification section of this rule. Copies of the 
FRFA and the Small Entity Compliance Guide are available from the 
Regional Administrator, Northeast Regional Office, NMFS, 55 Great 
Republic Drive,

[[Page 25863]]

Gloucester, MA 01930-2276, and are also available via the Internet at 
http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tobey Curtis, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9273; fax: (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) were declared overfished by NMFS 
in 1998. Consequently, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) required NMFS to implement 
measures to end overfishing and rebuild the spiny dogfish stock. The 
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and the New England 
Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) developed a joint fishery management 
plan (FMP) that was implemented in 2000. As a result of the 
conservation measures in the FMP, the spiny dogfish stock was declared 
to be successfully rebuilt in 2010.
    The regulations implementing the FMP at 50 CFR part 648, subpart L, 
outline the process for specifying an annual catch limit (ACL), 
commercial quota, possession limit, and other management measures for a 
period of 1-5 years. The MAFMC's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) reviews the best available information on the status of the spiny 
dogfish population and recommends acceptable biological catch (ABC) 
levels. This recommendation is then used as the basis for catch limits 
and other management measures developed by the MAFMC's Spiny Dogfish 
Monitoring Committee and Joint Spiny Dogfish Committee (which includes 
members of the NEFMC). The MAFMC and NEFMC then review the 
recommendations of the committees and make their specification 
recommendations to NMFS. NMFS reviews those recommendations, and may 
modify them if necessary, to ensure that they are consistent with the 
FMP and other applicable law. NMFS then publishes proposed measures for 
public comment. NMFS proposed the specifications set here in the 
Federal Register on March 12, 2013 (78 FR 15674), with a 15-day public 
comment period. NMFS received one comment, which is addressed below.
    A detailed description of how the 2013-2015 spiny dogfish ABC and 
associated specification measures were derived, and the range of 
alternatives analyzed, is provided in the proposed rule and in its 
supplementary materials (see ADDRESSES), and is not repeated here. The 
final approved specifications for the 2013-2015 spiny dogfish fishery 
are described below.

Final 2013-2015 Specifications

    The final ACLs and commercial quotas for fishing years 2013-2015 
are shown in Table 1. The commercial quotas represent 14-17-percent 
increases from the status quo commercial quota (35.694 million lb 
(16,191 mt)).
    The spiny dogfish possession limit is increased from 3,000 lb 
(1,361 kg) to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) per trip in each year (Table 1). The 
possession limit increase is projected to help increase trip level 
revenues, and reduce the potential for under-harvesting the available 
quota. The Commission has adopted identical management measures in 
state waters for 2013.

                 Table 1--Summary of Final Spiny Dogfish ACLs, Commercial Quotas, and Possession Limits for the 2013-2015 Fishing Years
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                                                                        ACL                      Commercial quota                Possession limit
                          Year                           -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               M lb             mt             M lb             mt              lb              kg
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2013....................................................          54.295          24,628          40.842          18,526           4,000           1,814
2014....................................................          55.277          25,073          41.784          18,953           4,000           1,814
2015....................................................          55.063          24,976          41.578          18,859           4,000           1,814
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As currently specified in the FMP, quota period 1 (May 1 through 
October 31) will be allocated 57.9 percent of the commercial quota, and 
quota period 2 (November 1 through April 30) will be allocated 42.1 
percent of the commercial quota. However, the Councils have approved 
Amendment 3 to the FMP, which would eliminate the seasonal allocation 
of the commercial quota. Upon implementation of Amendment 3 (which has 
not yet been submitted to NMFS, but is expected early in the 2013 
fishing year), if approved, the commercial quota would only be 
monitored on an annual, coastwide basis, thereby reducing potential 
conflicts with the Commission's management of spiny dogfish.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received one comment on the proposed specifications, 
summarized below.
    Comment 1: One public commenter argued that the proposed 
specifications are based upon inaccurate science, and suggested that 
the quotas should be reduced by 50 percent. No justification was 
provided for this reduction.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that such a reduction in spiny dogfish 
harvest levels is necessary at this time. Spiny dogfish spawning stock 
biomass has been increasing in recent years, and is currently above 
target levels. The increase in quota is supported by the best available 
scientific information and follows the ABC and specification process 
defined in the FMP.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this rule is 
consistent with the Spiny Dogfish FMP, other provisions of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes 
of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined 
that there is good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness 
provision of the Administrative Procedure Act, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3). This rule imposes no new requirements or burdens on the 
public, therefore, the public need not take any steps to comply with 
this rule. In addition, the delay would be contrary to the public 
interest because the rule provides economic benefits to fishery 
participants by increasing the spiny dogfish possession limit, without 
resulting in overfishing. Failure to make this final rule effective at 
the start of the fishing year will undermine the intent of the rule, 
which is to promote the optimal utilization and conservation of the 
spiny dogfish resource. For these reasons, the 30-day delay is waived 
and this rule will become effective on May 1, 2013.
    Pursuant to section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
NMFS has prepared a Final Regulatory

[[Page 25864]]

Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) in support of this action. The FRFA 
incorporates the IRFA, a summary of the significant issues raised by 
the public comments in response to the IRFA, NMFS' responses to those 
comments, relevant analyses contained in the action and its EA, and a 
summary of the analyses completed to support the action in this rule. A 
copy of the analyses done in the action and EA are available from the 
Council (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA was published in the 
proposed rule for this action and is not repeated here. A description 
of why this action was considered, the objectives of, and the legal 
basis for this rule is contained in the preamble to the proposed rule 
and this final rule and is not repeated here.

A Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public in Response to 
the IRFA, a Summary of the Agency's Assessment of Such Issues, and a 
Statement of Any Changes Made in the Proposed Rule as a Result of Such 
Comments

    One comment was received on the proposed rule. For a summary of the 
comment, and NMFS's response to it, see the Comments and Responses 
section above. The comment did not raise any issues or concerns related 
to the IRFA, and no changes were made to the rule as a result of the 
comment.

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

    The increases in the spiny dogfish commercial quotas would impact 
vessels that hold Federal open access commercial spiny dogfish permits, 
and participate in the spiny dogfish fishery. According to MAFMC's 
analysis, 2,743 vessels were issued spiny dogfish permits in 2011. 
However, only 326 vessels landed any amount of spiny dogfish. While the 
fishery extends from Maine to North Carolina, most active vessels were 
from Massachusetts (31.6 percent), New Jersey (14.7 percent), New 
Hampshire (11.4 percent), Rhode Island (9.8 percent), New York (8.0 
percent), North Carolina (6.7 percent), and Virginia (5.8 percent).
    All of the fishing vessels affected by this action are considered 
small entities under the SBA size standards for small fishing 
businesses. Although multiple vessels may be owned by a single owner, 
ownership tracking is not readily available to reliably ascertain 
affiliated entities. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis, each 
permitted vessel is treated as a single small entity and is determined 
to be a small entity under the RFA.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements. This rule does not duplicate, overlap, 
or conflict with other Federal rules.

Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With the 
Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes

    The purpose of this action is to increase spiny dogfish catch 
limits and landings, consistent with the best available science, 
thereby extending the duration of the fishing season and increasing 
revenue relative to the status quo. The action is expected to maximize 
the profitability for the spiny dogfish fishery during the 2013-2015 
fishing years, without jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the 
stock. Therefore, the economic impacts resulting from the action are 
expected to be positive, and there were no other alternatives 
considered that could have further increased the economic yield from 
the fishery while remaining consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
and the goals of the FMP.
    Four management alternatives were analyzed for each year, 2013-
2015. Alternative 1 represents the preferred alternative implemented by 
this rule (Table 1). Alternative 2 included the same commercial quotas 
as Alternative 1, but would have maintained the status quo possession 
limit of 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), rather than increasing it to 4,000 lb 
(1,814 kg). This alternative was rejected because there was no 
biological basis for rejecting the increased possession limit, which is 
expected to have positive economic and social benefits. Alternative 3 
would have increased the possession limit to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg), and 
included the highest possible commercial quotas by not making a 
deduction from the ACL accounting for management uncertainty (estimated 
to be 3.99 percent of the ACL). Under Alternative 3, the commercial 
quotas would have been 42.539 million lb (19,295 mt) in 2013, 43.520 
million lb (19,740 mt) in 2014, and 43.307 million lb (19,644 mt) in 
2015; however, not accounting for management uncertainty would have 
increased the risk of exceeding the ACL, and would be inconsistent with 
the FMP; therefore, this alternative was also rejected. Alternative 4 
represents the status quo alternative, which would have maintained 
fishing year 2012 specifications through 2015 (35.694 million-lb 
(16,191-mt) commercial quota; 3,000-lb (1,361-kg) possession limit). 
Alternative 4 was rejected because maintaining the lower, status quo 
quota would not allow the fishery to achieve optimum yield during 2013, 
2014, and 2015.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    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.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a letter to permit holders that also serves as 
small entity compliance guide (the guide) was prepared. Copies of this 
final rule are available from the Northeast Regional Office, and the 
guide, i.e., permit holder letter, will be sent to all holders of 
permits for the spiny dogfish fishery. The guide and this final rule 
will be available upon request, and posted on the Northeast Regional 
Office's Web site at www.nero.noaa.gov.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: April 29, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended 
as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

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

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


0
2. In Sec.  648.235, revise introductory text to paragraphs (a) and 
(b), and revise paragraphs (a)(1), and (b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.235  Spiny dogfish possession and landing restrictions.

    (a) Quota period 1. From May 1 through October 31, vessels issued a 
valid Federal spiny dogfish permit specified under Sec.  648.4(a)(11) 
may:
    (1) Possess up to 4,000 lb (1.814 mt) of spiny dogfish per trip; 
and
* * * * *

[[Page 25865]]

    (b) Quota period 2. From November 1 through April 30, vessels 
issued a valid Federal spiny dogfish permit specified under Sec.  
648.4(a)(11) may:
    (1) Possess up to 4,000 lb (1.814 mt) of spiny dogfish per trip; 
and
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-10461 Filed 4-30-13; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P