[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 210 (Wednesday, October 30, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64889-64890]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25720]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 130219149-3397-02]
RIN 0648-BC97


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Emergency Rule Extension, Georges Bank Yellowtail 
Flounder and White Hake Catch Limits and GOM Cod Carryover Revisions

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

ACTION: Temporary final rule; emergency action extended.

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SUMMARY: This rule extends, pursuant to NMFS's emergency authority in 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act), the Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder and white hake 
specifications for fishing year (FY) 2013 and the GOM cod sector 
carryover reduction that were published on May 3, 2013, which were 
implemented as emergency actions concurrently with the Framework 
Adjustment (FW) 50 final rule under the Northeast (NE) Multispecies 
Fishery Management Plan (FMP). These measures were scheduled to expire 
on October 30, 2013. Specifically, this temporary rule maintains the 
current Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and Annual Catch Limit (ACL) 
for GB yellowtail flounder and white hake, and the 1.85-percent 
allowable carryover of unused FY 2012 GOM cod Annual Catch Entitlement 
(ACE) for sectors for an additional 183 days, i.e., through the end of 
FY 2013 (May 1, 2013, through April 30, 2014). The need for the 
emergency measures is unchanged, which is to establish FY 2013 catch 
limits for GB yellowtail flounder and white hake based upon the best 
available scientific information, and to reduce available carryover of 
unused FY 2012 GOM cod ACE for sectors. The intended effect of the 
emergency measures is to prevent overfishing on GB yellowtail flounder 
and GOM cod, and to incorporate the best available science into the 
management of white hake.

DATES: This rule is effective October 30, 2013, through April 30, 2014.
    The expiration date of the emergency measures for GB yellowtail 
flounder and white hake specifications, and GOM cod carryover in the 
preamble of the final rule published May 3, 2013, (78 FR 26172) is 
extended through April 30, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Framework 50, associated emergency rules, and 
other measures, the environmental assessment (EA), its Regulatory 
Impact Review (RIR), and the Final Regulatory Flexibility Act (FRFA) 
analysis prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council) and NMFS are available from John K. Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS Northeast Regional Office (NERO), 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The FRFA analysis consists of the FRFA, 
public comments and responses, and the summary of impacts and 
alternatives contained in the final rule for Framework 50, Associated 
Emergency Rules, and Other Measures. The EA/RIR/FRFA is also accessible 
via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/sfd/sfdmulti.html.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    This temporary final rule extends the revised GB yellowtail 
flounder and white hake catch limits and GOM cod carryover implemented 
through emergency authority in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, as published 
in the Framework 50 final rule on May 3, 2013, to maintain those 
measures through the end of FY 2013 (April 30, 2014). The May 3, 2013, 
final rule (78 FR 26172) included detailed information on the 
background, reasons, and justification to revise through emergency 
action, the GB yellowtail flounder and white hake catch limits from 
those originally proposed in the Framework 50 proposed rule (78 FR 
19368; March 29, 2013) and from the standard 10-percent allowable 
carryover for GOM cod. That information is not repeated here.
    Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act allows for the extension 
of an emergency action, which is otherwise effective for up to 180 
days, for up to another 186 days, provided that certain criteria are 
met: (1) The public has had an opportunity to comment on the emergency 
regulation, and (2) in the case of a Council recommendation for 
emergency action, the Council is actively developing an FMP amendment 
or regulations to address the emergency or overfishing on a permanent 
basis. NMFS accepted public comment on the emergency measures in the 
final rule through June 17, 2013, but no comments were submitted. 
Because these extensions do not change the measures already in place, 
we are not accepting additional public comment on their extension, NMFS 
has determined that all the necessary criteria have been met and, 
therefore, is extending these emergency measures.

1. FY 2013 GB Yellowtail Flounder ABC

    The emergency specifications extended through this final rule are 
the revised GB yellowtail flounder catch limits for FY 2013, as 
follows: A U.S. Overfishing Limit (OFL) of 882 mt; a U.S. ABC of 215 
mt; a total ACL of 208.5 mt; a groundfish sub-ACL of 116.8 mt; a 
scallop fishery sub-ACL of 83.4 mt; a small-mesh fisheries sub-ACL of 
4.0 mt; and an Other ACL sub-component of 4.3 mt. The initial emergency 
action modified GB yellowtail flounder catch limits from those 
originally proposed based on a determination that the Framework 50 
proposed catch limits were not based upon the Council's Scientific and 
Statistical Committee (SSC) recommendation, were not consistent with 
the best available scientific information, and had a high likelihood of 
resulting in overfishing.
    Although the Framework 50 final rule contained preliminary 
information regarding the more specific components of the groundfish 
sub-ACL (the division of the groundfish sub-ACL between sectors and the 
common pool and the Incidental Catch Total Allowable Catches for common 
pool vessels), it did not implement the final specification of these 
components (and this rule does not need to address those aspects of the 
FMP). The components of the GB yellowtail flounder groundfish sub-ACL 
are specified in the final rule that adjusted the FY 2013 groundfish 
sub-ACL components for all stocks (78 FR 34928; June 11, 2013).

2. FY 2013 White Hake ABC

    The emergency specifications extended through this final rule are 
the revised white hake catch limits for FY 2013, as follows: A U.S. OFL 
of 5,462 mt; a U.S. ABC of 4,177 mt; a total ACL of 3,974 mt; a 
groundfish sub-ACL of 3,849 mt; a state waters sub-component

[[Page 64890]]

of 42 mt; and an Other ACL sub-component of 84 mt. NMFS modified the 
white hake catch limits from those proposed and approved through 
Framework 50 at the request of the Council, because more recent 
assessment information became available during rulemaking that 
indicated an increase was warranted. The emergency action was intended 
to incorporate the best available scientific information into the 
management of white hake and to help mitigate some of the anticipated 
impacts of reductions to catch limits for other stocks. The specific 
emergency action to increase the white hake catch limits was at the 
request of the Council (Council motion April 24, 2013), because the 
Council could not act quickly enough to revise the catch limits on its 
own for FY 2013. The Council is currently developing Framework 51, 
which would address the emergency on a permanent basis by specifying 
white hake ABCs based on this recent assessment for FY 2014-2015.
    As explained under Item 1, the Framework 50 final rule contained 
preliminary information regarding the more specific components of the 
groundfish sub-ACL and the final distribution of these components are 
as specified in the June 11, 2013, final adjustment rule.

3. FY 2013 Sector Carryover for GOM Cod

    This temporary rule extends the emergency reduction to the amount 
of unused GOM cod ACE that sectors were allowed to carryover from FY 
2012 to FY 2013 to 1.85 percent. NMFS determined, based on analysis, 
that if sectors carried over the full 10 percent of their unused FY 
2013 ACE for GOM cod, it would increase the likelihood of overfishing 
on this stock. Thus, through the Framework 50 final rule, NMFS reduced 
the amount of allowable GOM cod carryover to 1.85 percent of the 
sectors' FY 2012 ACE to ensure the total potential catch (ACL + 
carryover) did not exceed the FY 2013 GOM cod OFL.
    As described above, no comments were received on these measures.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
that the emergency measures extended by this temporary rule are 
necessary for the conservation and management of the NE multispecies 
fishery and are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable law.
    The Framework 50 final rule, including the emergency measures that 
this temporary rule extends, was determined to be significant for 
purposes of E.O. 12866.
    The Framework 50 final rule including the emergency measures that 
this temporary rule extends does not contain policies with Federalism 
or ``takings'' implications as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 
and E.O. 12630, respectively.
    Because the original emergency rule provided for public comment on 
these measures, it is not necessary to waive prior notice and comment 
procedures. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries finds good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness of 
this action. Because the extension of these emergency measures merely 
continues regulations already in place, it would be contrary to the 
public interest to allow the expiration of the revised GB yellowtail 
flounder and white hake catch limits and reduced GOM cod carryover, or 
a gap in effectiveness of these measures after October 29, 2013. As 
described more fully in the original May 3, 2013, emergency action (78 
FR 26172), the reasons justifying promulgation of the rule on an 
emergency basis make a delay in effectiveness contrary to the public 
interest. The revised catch limits and carryover are necessary to 
prevent overfishing on GB yellowtail flounder and GOM cod. If the 
revised GB yellowtail flounder ABC were allowed to expire, it would 
revert to the default ABC specified in Framework 47, which NMFS has 
determined would be likely to result in overfishing and severe harm to 
the stock. Similarly, if the allowable GOM cod carryover were to revert 
to the standard 10 percent of FY 2012 ACE, total potential catch could 
exceed the OFL by 12 percent. This would represent a serious 
conservation and management threat to the GOM cod stock. Furthermore, a 
gap in the revised GB yellowtail flounder catch limits and GOM cod 
carryover due to a delay of this temporary rule would severely disrupt 
the fishery. The revised white hake catch limits were intended to 
incorporate the most recent, best available scientific information into 
the management of this stock. Increasing this catch limit was also 
intended to mitigate the negative economic impacts to the fishing 
industry from substantial reductions in catch limits for other 
groundfish stocks that were necessary to prevent overfishing. If the 
revised white hake catch limits were to expire, they would default to 
the lower catch limits approved in Framework 50, which were based on 
outdated assessment information. This could cause some fishery 
components to temporarily exceed their allocations. For some components 
of the fishery, this would trigger inseason accountability measures, 
temporarily closing productive fishing grounds to some vessels and 
resulting in foregone yield and economic losses that may negate any 
mitigating economic benefits of the original emergency action. Thus, 
even a temporary gap in effectiveness could have substantial economic 
impacts to the fishing industry and severely disrupt operations. For 
all of these reasons, a 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this rule 
is impracticable and contrary to the public interest.
    A FRFA was prepared for the Framework 50 final rule and associated 
emergency measures as required by section 604 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 604, and is not repeated here. The FRFA 
analyzed the effects of the emergency measures for the duration of the 
year in anticipation of this extension. A copy of the full analysis is 
available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).
    The EA prepared for Framework 50 analyzed the impacts of the 
emergency specifications for the duration of a full year. Therefore, 
the impacts of this emergency action extension have been analyzed, and 
are within the scope of the Finding of No Significant Impact.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: October 23, 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 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.


Sec.  648.87  [Amended]

0
2. Section 648.87 is amended by suspending paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C).

[FR Doc. 2013-25720 Filed 10-29-13; 8:45 am]
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