[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 226 (Friday, November 22, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70009-70011]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28107]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No.: 130919816-3953-01]
RIN 0648-BD70


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring 
Fishery; Adjustments to 2014 Sub-Annual Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This action proposes to adjust 2014 sub-annual catch limits 
(ACLs) for the Atlantic herring (herring) fishery to account for catch 
overages and underharvest in 2012. Three of the four sub-ACLs are being 
decreased and one sub-ACL is being increased. This would result in an 
increase to the overall catch available to the herring fleet.

DATES: Public comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., Eastern 
Standard Time, on December 9, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Copies of supporting documents, 2013-2015 Specifications/
Framework 2 and Amendment 4 to the Herring Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP), are available from: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New 
England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, 
Newburyport, MA 01950, telephone (978) 465-0492. These documents are 
also accessible via the Internet at http://www.nero.nmfs.gov.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0153, by any 
one 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-2013-0153, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope 
``Comments on Adjustment to 2014 Herring Catch Limits.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Travis Ford.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. 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. 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) submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. 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 or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF formats 
only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Ford, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9233, fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Atlantic herring harvest in the United States is managed under 
the Herring FMP developed by the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council), and was approved and implemented by NMFS in 2000. The 
Herring FMP divides the stock-wide herring ACL among three management 
areas, one of which has two sub-areas. It divides Area 1 (located in 
the Gulf of Maine (GOM)) into an inshore section (Area 1A) and an 
offshore section (Area 1B). Area 2 is located in the coastal waters 
between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 is on Georges Bank 
(GB). The Herring FMP considers the herring stock complex to be a 
single stock, but there are inshore (GOM) and offshore (GB) stock 
components. The GOM and GB stock components segregate during spawning 
and mix during feeding and migration. Each management area has its own 
sub-ACL to allow greater control of the fishing mortality on each stock 
component.
    We, NMFS, determined the amount of herring landings in 2012 based 
on dealer reports (Federal and state) of herring purchases, 
supplemented with vessel trip reports (VTRs) (Federal and State of 
Maine) of herring landings. We compared dealer reports to VTRs for all 
trips that landed herring in 2012. Because VTRs are generally a hail 
weight or estimate of landings, with an assumed 10-percent margin of 
error, dealer reports are a more accurate source of landings data. 
However, if the amount of herring reported via VTR exceeded the amount 
of herring reported by the dealer by 10 percent or more, we assumed 
that the dealer report for that trip was in error. To improve the 
likelihood of not exceeding ACLs, in those instances we used the higher 
amount of herring reported via VTR to determine the amount of herring 
landed on that trip. We checked the herring landings in the VTR 
database for accuracy against the scanned image of the paper VTRs 
submitted by the owner/operator of the vessel. NMFS also verified VTR 
landings by comparing reported landings to harvesting potential and 
applicable possession limits for each vessel.
    We assigned herring landings reported on the VTRs to herring 
management areas using latitude and longitude coordinates. We manually 
corrected VTRs with missing or invalid latitude/longitude coordinates 
using the statistical area reported on the VTR. If the fisherman did 
not report statistical area on the VTR, then we used a combination of 
recent fishing activity and a review of the scanned images of the 
original VTR to assign landings to herring management areas. We 
prorated dealer reports without corresponding VTRs to herring 
management area using the proportion of total herring landings 
stratified by week, gear type, and management area.
    As we were reviewing the 2012 herring data and comparing individual 
VTRs with individual dealer reports, we solved data errors resulting 
from misreporting. Common dealer reporting issues were: Missing dealer 
reports, incorrect or missing VTR serial numbers, incorrect or missing 
vessel permit numbers, and incorrect dates. VTRs had similar errors. 
Common VTR reporting issues were: Missing VTRs, missing or incorrect 
dealer information, incorrect amounts of landed herring, incorrect 
dates, and missing or incorrect statistical area. The quality of 
herring landings data is affected by unresolved data errors; therefore, 
we strongly encourage vessel owner/operators and dealers to double-
check reports for accuracy and to ensure that reports are submitted on 
a timely basis.
    We determined discards of herring in 2012 by extrapolating 
Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (observer) data to the entire 
herring fishery. We divided the amount of observed herring discards 
(``Atlantic herring'' and ``herring unidentified'') by the amount of 
observed fish landed. Then we multiplied that discard ratio by the 
amount of all fish landed for each trip to calculate total amount of 
herring discards in 2012. We determined the amount of discards for each 
management area and gear type, and calculated the total herring catch 
for

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2012 by adding the amount of herring landings to the amount of herring 
discarded. The Council's Herring Plan Development Team reviewed and 
approved this methodology used by NMFS to calculate the amount of 
landed herring and the amount of discarded herring.
    Amendment 4 to the Herring FMP final rule (76 FR 11373, March 2, 
2011) revised the Herring FMP to address ACL and accountability measure 
(AM) requirements. As a way to account for ACL overages in the herring 
fishery, Amendment 4 established an AM that provided for overage 
deductions in the year immediately following the catch overage 
determination. If the catch of herring exceeds any ACL or sub-ACL, NMFS 
will subsequently deduct the overage from the corresponding ACL/sub-ACL 
in the year following the catch overage determination. Amendment 4 also 
specified that NMFS will announce overage deductions in the Federal 
Register prior to the start of the fishing year, if possible.
    We published a final rule for Framework 2 and the 2013-15 
specifications on October 4, 2013 (78 FR 61828). Among other measures, 
Framework 2 allows for the carryover of unharvested catch in the year 
immediately following the catch determination. Up to 10 percent of each 
sub-ACL may be carried over, provided the stock-wide catch did not 
exceed the stock-wide ACL. The carryover provision allows a sub-ACL 
increase for a management area, but it does not allow a corresponding 
increase to the stock-wide ACL. The management area sub-ACLs 
established for 2014 are: 31,200 mt for Area 1A, 4,600 mt for Area 1B, 
30,000 mt for Area 2, and 42,000 mt for Area 3 (Table 1).
    We completed the 2012 catch determination in August 2013, so we 
would apply the adjustments for any overharvests or carryover in 2012 
to the 2014 sub-ACLs. In 2012, the herring fleet underharvested the 
stockwide ACL of 90,683 mt by 122 mt. However, the fleet overharvested 
the sub-ACLs in herring management Areas 1B (overage of 1,584 mt); 2 
(overage of 336 mt); and 3 (overage of 1,325 mt). After deducting each 
2012 overage, in 2014, the sub-ACL for Area 1B would be 3,016 mt (4,600 
mt reduced by 1,584 mt); the sub-ACL for Area 2 would be 29,664 mt 
(30,000 mt reduced by 336); and the sub-ACL for Area 3 would be 40,675 
mt (42,000 mt reduced by 1,325 mt) (Table 1).
    The herring fleet underharvested the sub-ACL from Area 1A by 3,366 
mt (approximately 12 percent of the 2012 Area 1A sub-ACL of 27,668 mt). 
Since the fleet did not exceed the stock-wide ACL in 2012, the fleet 
would carryover up to 10 percent of the 2012 Area 1A sub-ACL to the 
2014 Area 1A sub-ACL. After adding the carryover from the 2012 sub-ACL, 
2014 Area 1A sub-ACL would be 33,967 mt (increased by 2,767 mt, equal 
to 10 percent of the 2012 Area 1A sub-ACL of 27,668 mt) (Table 1).

          Table 1--Herring Management Area 2014 Herring Quotas
                                  [mt]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               2014
                  Area                         2014         Adjustment
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Area 1A.................................          31,200          33,967
Area 1B.................................           4,600           3,016
Area 2..................................          30,000          29,664
Area 3..................................          42,000          40,675
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Classification

    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the NMFS Assistant Administrator 
has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the Atlantic 
Herring FMP, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    The National Environmental Policy Act analyses to support this 
action were completed in Amendment 4 (76 FR 11373, March 2, 2011) and 
2013-2015 Specifications/Framework 2 (78 FR 46897, August 2, 2013).
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866. This proposed rule does not contain 
a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The rationale for that certification is as follows:
    Amendment 4 analyzed the effects of deducting ACL/sub-ACL overages 
from the subsequent corresponding ACL/sub-ACL. During a year when the 
fleet exceeds the ACL/sub-ACL, fishery participants may benefit 
economically from higher catch. In the subsequent year, when NMFS 
deducts the amount of the overage from that ACL/sub-ACL and the amount 
of harvest is lower, fishery participants may experience negative 
economic impacts. Deductions are the same magnitude as the overages. 
Therefore, if participants are active in the fishery during the overage 
year and the deduction year, the total economic impact on participants 
are expected to be neutral.
    NMFS has now identified 70 entities that held at least one limited 
access herring permit (category A, B, or C) in 2012. Many of these 
entities were active in both finfish fishing and shellfish fishing 
industries. In order to make a determination of size, fishing entities 
are first classified as participants in either the Finfish Fishing or 
Shellfish Fishing industry. If an entity derives more than 50 percent 
of its gross revenues from shellfish fishing, the $5.0 million standard 
for total revenues is applied. If an entity derives more than 50 
percent of its gross revenues from finfish fishing, the $19.0 million 
standard for total revenues is applied. Based on the revised criteria, 
there are 7 large shellfish fishing entities to which the final rule 
would apply and 63 small entities to which the final rule would apply.
    Of the 63 small entities, 39 reported no revenue from herring 
during 2012. For the 24 small entities that were active in the herring 
fishery, median gross revenues were approximately $872,000 and median 
revenues from the herring fishery were approximately $219,000. There is 
large variation in the importance of herring fishing for these small 
entities. Eight of these 24 active small entities derive less than 5 
percent of their total fishing revenue from herring. Seven of these 24 
active small entities derive more than 95 percent of their total 
fishing revenue from herring.

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    After considering the new information, and the new SBA size 
standards and due to the limited nature of this action and the overall 
increase in herring availability in 2014, there would be no 
disproportionate economic impacts on small entities.
    Total herring revenue in 2012 was approximately $29 million. 
Because most vessels that harvest herring participate in other 
fisheries, revenue generated by herring catch is only a portion of 
their income. While this action reduces the amount of fish available 
for harvest in three areas, it increases the overall amount of 
available harvest in the fishery, resulting in an overall economic 
benefit for the fishery. The reduced sub-ACLs in Areas 1B, 2, and 3 are 
estimated to equal $1 million in lost revenue in 2012. However, the 
increased sub-ACL in Area 1A is estimated to equal $1.1 million in 
gained revenue in 2012. Therefore, this action would increase revenues 
as a whole by approximately $100,000.
    For all the reasons described above, an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

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

    Dated: November 19, 2013.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, performing the 
functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-28107 Filed 11-21-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P