[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 76759-76765]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30133]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 130702583-3999-02]
RIN 0648-BD40


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Annual Catch 
Limits and Accountability Measures

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

[[Page 76760]]


ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is implementing the approved measures in an omnibus 
amendment to three of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's 
fishery management plans. The omnibus amendment changes the 
accountability measures for the Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic bluefish, 
summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries. These 
measures are intended to more appropriately address accountability in 
the recreational fisheries.

DATES: Effective January 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared an 
environmental assessment (EA) for the Recreational Accountability 
Measures (AM) Omnibus Amendment that describes the proposed action and 
other considered alternatives, and provides a thorough analysis of the 
impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of the 
Recreational AM Omnibus Amendment, including the EA, are available on 
request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, 
DE 19901. These documents are also available online at http://www.mafmc.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9218.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In 2011, the Council adopted, and NMFS implemented, an Omnibus 
Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and AM Amendment (76 FR 60606) to establish 
AMs for the commercial and recreational fisheries that catch Atlantic 
mackerel, butterfish, Atlantic bluefish, summer flounder, scup, black 
sea bass, golden tilefish, ocean quahog, and Atlantic surfclams. The 
AMs for the recreational fisheries included an in-season closure 
requirement for the Regional Administrator when landings were known to 
have reached the recreational harvest limit (RHL), and pound-for-pound 
payback of any overage. In 2012, the recreational black sea bass 
fishery significantly exceeded its RHL. The pound-for-pound payback 
requirement in place under the 2011 amendment would drastically limit 
the recreational black sea bass fishery in fishing year 2014. As a 
result, the Council decided to review the recreational fishery AMs to 
determine whether a different approach to recreational accountability 
would be more appropriate. Specifically, the Council wanted to develop 
AMs that take into account the status of the stock and the biological 
consequences, if any, resulting from a recreational sector overage.
    Beginning in 2012, the Council developed a second omnibus amendment 
to its FMPs, specifically to revise the recreational AMs. The Council 
adopted this amendment in June 2013, and submitted it to NMFS for 
review. NMFS published a Notice of Availability (NOA) for the amendment 
on September 4, 2013 (78 FR 54442), and a proposed rule on September 
18, 2013 (78 FR 57341). The comment periods ended on November 4, 2013, 
and October 18, 2013, respectively.

Disapproved Measure

    The Council recommended comparing the 3-yr moving average of the 
lower confidence limit of the recreational catch estimate to the 3-yr 
moving average of the recreational ACL to determine whether an ACL 
overage has occurred. NMFS has disapproved this measure because it is 
inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) National Standard 2 requirement 
to use the best scientific information available in developing 
management measures. While there is some uncertainty in the 
recreational catch point estimate, it is just as likely that the true 
value of the catch is above the point estimate as it is below it. In 
the proposed rule, we expressed concern that using the lower confidence 
limit may not meet the National Standard 2 requirement to use the best 
scientific information available, and we specifically requested 
comments on the issue.
    The public comments received were split on the topic--members of 
the public who identified themselves as recreational participants 
supported the Council's recommendation and members of the public who 
identified themselves as commercial fishermen or conservationists did 
not. The public comments in support of the lower confidence limit 
approach discussed it as a more ``appropriate'' use of statistics, as 
the Marine Resource Information Program (MRIP) provides a measure of 
uncertainty (the PSE, or proportional standard error) that should be 
considered when using the data. The public comments that supported the 
use of the point estimate stated that the lower confidence limit has an 
approximately 84-percent chance of being below the true recreational 
catch value, and would likely result in persistent underestimation of 
the true recreational catch.
    The Council, which also submitted a comment during the proposed 
rule comment period, suggested that the overall structure of the catch 
limits provides enough assurance that even chronic underestimating of 
recreational catch could not lead to overfishing or cause the stock to 
become overfished. However, even if the catch limit structure would 
prevent overfishing, as it is defined, chronic underestimating of catch 
and the resultant reduced stock size could lead to reduced overall 
catch limits that would reduce the commercial fishing limits, even if 
the commercial fishery stayed within its required limits.
    Because of the concerns expressed in the proposed rule, as well as 
those expressed in several public comments, NMFS disapproved the 
Council's preferred approach to determine whether a recreational ACL 
has been exceeded. Although the Council and public comments supporting 
using the lower confidence limit expressed valid concerns regarding the 
accuracy of the MRIP data and the confidence in the overall structure 
of the Council's catch limits, NMFS does not concur that using the 
lower confidence limit meets the National Standard 2 requirement to use 
the best available science.
    By disapproving this measure, the status quo approach of using the 
3-yr moving average of the point estimate from MRIP for the summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass and a single-year point estimate 
from MRIP for the Atlantic bluefish and mackerel fisheries remains as 
the mechanism to determine whether the recreational fishing ACL was 
exceeded.

Approved Measures

    1. In-Season Closure Authority. This rule removes the in-season 
closure requirement for the affected recreational fisheries. The delay 
in receiving recreational landings information, combined with regional 
differences in the recreational fisheries and the resultant 
disproportional impacts of an in-season closure, led the Council to 
recommend removing this requirement.
    2. Incorporate stock status in AM determination. This rule 
implements a system of AMs that would result in a payback if: (1) The 
stock is overfished (i.e., the most recent estimate of biomass (B) is 
below the threshold, or B/BMSY < \1/2\), under a rebuilding 
plan, or if stock status is unknown, and the ACL is exceeded; or (2) 
biomass is below the target, but above the threshold (i.e., \1/2\< B/
BMSY <1), and the acceptable biological catch (ABC) is 
exceeded. Otherwise, adjustments to the management measures will be 
used as

[[Page 76761]]

an AM. This adjustment would be in addition to any necessary 
adjustments needed to meet that year's new catch limits.
    The Council currently adjusts its management measures to achieve, 
but not exceed, the next year's catch limit based largely on what the 
fishery caught in the current year. If the next year's catch limit is 
higher than this year's catch, then measures may be liberalized. 
Conversely, if the next year's catch limit is lower than this year's 
catch, then measures must be tightened. These adjustments happen 
independently of any catch limit overage. The Council intends for the 
overage to result in a ``performance review,'' such that if an overage 
does occur, an adjustment to the expectations associated with how well 
those measures would be likely achieve, but not exceed, the target 
would be incorporated into the coming year's measures determination. 
This would result in measures potentially being less liberal, or 
tightened more, than they otherwise would have been, had the overage 
not occurred.
    3. Scaled payback calculation. The amount of a payback (if 
determined to be appropriate under 2, above) will be scaled relative to 
the biomass. That is, the payback will be the product of the difference 
between the catch and the ACL (i.e., the overage amount) and the 
payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is equal to the difference 
between the most recent estimates of BMSY and current 
biomass, divided by \1/2\ BMSY.
    This will result in a smaller payback, the closer the estimated 
biomass is to the target, and a larger payback the farther away the 
estimated biomass is from the target. This scaling is intended to 
minimize the economic impacts of a payback for healthy stocks, while 
still accounting for the biological consequences of the overage. This 
scaling will not be used if the stock is overfished (i.e., if B/
BMSY < \1/2\), or if the stock status is unknown. In those 
cases, the payback will be equal to the full amount of the overage. In 
addition, if the stock is above the target (i.e., B/BMSY > 
1), then the payback will be zero.
    The regulations implementing these measures were deemed by the 
Council to be consistent with the amendment, and necessary to implement 
such provisions pursuant to section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
through a letter, dated August 20, 2013, from the Council Chairman to 
the NMFS Regional Administrator.

Public Comments

    Fifteen public comments were received during the public comment 
periods. Nine comments were received on the proposed rule, and six 
comments were received on the NOA.
    Comment 1: One commenter expressed frustration that the Council and 
NMFS were considering revising the recreational AMs as a result of the 
black sea bass recreational overage, but did not comment specifically 
on the proposed measures.
    Response: NMFS supported the Council in reviewing the recreational 
AMs to determine whether measures more appropriate for the unique 
aspects of these recreational fisheries were available. After 
determining that more suitable approaches were available, NMFS 
supported the Council in modifying these AMs and avoiding unnecessary 
consequences in the recreational black sea bass fishery, and has 
approved most of the Omnibus Amendment.
    Comment 2: One commenter expressed general frustration with the 
differences between management of the recreational and commercial 
fisheries, but did not specifically comment on the proposed measures. 
The commenter focused primarily on the difference between the 
commercial and recreational minimum sizes.
    Response: The management of the commercial fishery is not the 
subject of this amendment. Comments on appropriate minimum sizes are 
more applicable to the rules that implement those minimum sizes for 
each recreational fishery.
    Comment 3: One commenter expressed concern over the ability to 
overfish a species into extinction. The commenter also stated that we 
need to do everything possible to prevent overfishing, and that we 
should hold commercial fisheries accountable to prevent the extinction 
of any fish species.
    Response: The management of the commercial fisheries is not the 
subject of this amendment, and comments related to the commercial 
fisheries are more appropriately directed to the rules specific to 
those fisheries. In addition, none of the subject fisheries are 
overfished or experiencing overfishing at this time, nor are they in 
any danger of becoming extinct. Further, the management programs for 
these species are intended to maintain healthy population levels.
    Comment 4: Four comments directly, and three comments generally, 
supported the Council's recommended approach to determining whether the 
recreational harvest has exceeded the ACL. These commenters included 
recreational fishermen, a recreational fisheries organization, and the 
Council. These commenters stated that using the lower confidence limit 
value was a more statistically valid approach to addressing the 
uncertainty in the recreational catch estimates, and that treating the 
recreational estimate the same as the commercial data is inappropriate.
    Response: NMFS disagrees, for the reasons stated above. Each of the 
commenters mentioned the ``uncertainty'' in the recreational harvest 
estimates from MRIP as the basis for supporting the idea of using the 
lower confidence limit value. There is uncertainty in the recreational 
harvests estimates; however, using the lower confidence limit value 
would significantly increase the chances of underestimating 
recreational catch. The Council, in its comment, stated that 
recreational fisheries management has routinely ignored the uncertainty 
in the catch estimate. There is a roughly 84-percent chance that the 
value at the lower confidence limit is below the true value, as opposed 
to the 50-percent chance that the true value is below the point 
estimate. Using the lower confidence limit value continues to ignore 
the uncertainty that recreational catch is just as likely higher than 
the point estimate as it is less than the point estimate.
    Further, while the overall catch limit structure may provide some 
assurance that a stock would not be overfished as a result of routinely 
underestimating recreational catch, the overall catch limits, and 
consequently, the commercial catch limits, would likely need to be 
reduced as a result of a reduced stock size. This would be required 
even if the commercial fishery had not exceeded its catch limits. This 
would seemingly hold the commercial fishery accountable for the 
recreational fishery's overage, and for summer flounder, scup, and 
black sea bass, as described in comment 9, shift the allocation of 
landings between the commercial and recreational sectors, contrary to 
the FMP requirements.
    For these reasons, NMFS has determined that the point estimate, as 
derived by MRIP, is the best available estimate of recreational 
harvest, and that using a different value would violate National 
Standard 2.
    Comment 5: Two commenters directly, and three commenters generally, 
who identified themselves as commercial fishermen or conservationists, 
shared NMFS' concerns with the Council's recommendation to use the 
lower confidence limit value, and recommended that NMFS disapprove that 
measure.

[[Page 76762]]

    Response: NMFS agrees, for the reasons stated above, and did 
disapprove that measure.
    Comment 6: The commenters who supported using the lower confidence 
limit approach also supported eliminating the in-season closure 
requirement and the pound-for-pound payback, in favor of the proposed 
approach that would only result in a payback in certain conditions.
    Response: NMFS agrees, for the reasons stated above.
    Comment 7: The commenters who opposed using the lower confidence 
limit approach also supported maintaining the in-season closure 
requirement and the pound-for-pound payback as they are currently 
implemented, generally.
    Response: NMFS disagrees, for the reasons stated above. The 
continuation of the in-season closure requirement would likely result 
in disproportionate impacts on states whose recreational fisheries 
occur later in the year, when an in-season closure would be applied. 
NMFS also supports the Council's proposed AM structure, as it better 
addresses the operational issues that may have led to the overage 
(i.e., by further refining the management measures in the subsequent 
year) as well as mitigating the potential biological consequences 
resulting from an overage.
    Comment 8: Two commenters disagreed with the Council's 
recommendation to maintain the existing annual catch target (ACT) 
setting process because it is ``flawed and produces highly inaccurate 
results,'' but did not recommend a different approach.
    Response: NMFS concurs with the Council's decision to maintain the 
existing ACT process because the alternatives considered would have 
reduced the Council's flexibility in setting ACTs.
    Comment 9: Two commenters, who identified themselves as commercial 
fishermen, commented on the change in the distribution in landings 
between the commercial and recreational fisheries, primarily as a 
result of the recreational fishery landing more than its allocation. 
The commenters said this was particularly an issue in the black sea 
bass fishery, and suggested that additional quota be made available to 
the commercial fishery to compensate.
    Response: The black sea bass quota is allocated according to the 
FMP (51 percent to the recreational fishery and 49 percent to the 
commercial fishery) during the annual specifications process. NMFS 
concurs with the Council that the approved modifications to the 
recreational AMs will help ensure better management of the recreational 
fisheries and prevent chronic overharvesting in the recreational 
fishery. NMFS does not have the legal authority to redistribute quota 
in subsequent years because of the over- or under-harvest of one sector 
of the fishery.

Classification

    Except for the measure identified as disapproved, the 
Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, determined that the Recreational 
AM Omnibus Amendment is necessary for the conservation and management 
of the recreational Atlantic bluefish, Atlantic mackerel, summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries and that it is consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this final 
rule is not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: December 12, 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.

0
2. In Sec.  648.24, paragraph (b)(6) is removed and paragraphs (b)(2) 
through (b)(5) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.24  Fishery closures and accountability measures.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Mackerel commercial landings overage repayment. If the mackerel 
ACL is exceeded and commercial fishery landings are responsible for the 
overage, then landings in excess of the DAH will be deducted from the 
DAH the following year, as a single-year adjustment to the DAH.
    (3) Non-landing AMs. In the event that the ACL is exceeded, and 
that the overage has not been accommodated through the landing-based AM 
described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, but is attributable to 
the commercial sector, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the 
commercial ACT was exceeded will be deducted from the following year's 
commercial ACT, as a single-year adjustment.
    (4) Mackerel recreational AMs. If the mackerel ACL is exceeded and 
the recreational fishery landings are responsible for the overage, then 
the following procedure will be followed:
    (i) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under 
rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most 
recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold 
(i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or 
BMSY) are unknown, and the ACL has been exceeded, then the 
exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year's recreational 
catch estimate caused the most recent year's ACL to be exceeded will be 
deducted from the following year's recreational ACT, as a single-year 
adjustment.
    (ii) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (A) If the ACL has been exceeded. If the ACL has been exceeded, 
then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into 
account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.
    (B) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single-year adjustment to the following year's recreational ACT 
will be made, as described below. In addition, adjustments to the 
recreational management measures, taking into account the performance 
of the

[[Page 76763]]

measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in 
the following year.
    (1) Adjustment to ACT. If an adjustment to the following year's ACT 
is required, then the recreational ACT will be reduced by the exact 
amount, in pounds, of the product of the recreational overage, defined 
as the difference between the recreational contribution to the catch 
above the ACL, and the payback coefficient specified in paragraph 
(b)(4)(ii)(B)(2) of this section.
    (2) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimates of BMSY and biomass (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (iii) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent 
estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY 
is greater than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (5) Mackerel ACL overage evaluation. The ACL will be evaluated 
based on a single-year examination of total catch (landings and 
discards). Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in 
determining if the ACL has been exceeded. NMFS shall make 
determinations about overages and implement any changes to the ACL, in 
accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, through notification 
in the Federal Register, by May 15 of the fishing year in which the 
deductions will be made.
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  648.103, paragraph (b)(3) is added and paragraphs (c), (d), 
and (e) are revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.103  Summer flounder accountability measures.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the 
commercial ACL is exceeded and that the overage has not been 
accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the exact amount by 
which the commercial ACL was exceeded, in pounds, will be deducted, as 
soon as possible, from the applicable subsequent single fishing year 
commercial ACL.
    (c) Recreational ACL Evaluation. The recreational sector ACL will 
be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch 
(landings and dead discards). Both landings and dead discards will be 
evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational sector ACL 
has been exceeded. The 3-year moving average will be phased in over the 
first 3 years, beginning with 2012: Total recreational catch from 2012 
will be compared to the 2012 recreational sector ACL; the average total 
catch from both 2012 and 2013 will be compared to the average of the 
2012 and 2013 recreational sector ACLs; the average total catch from 
2012, 2013, and 2014 will be compared to the average of the 2012, 2013, 
and 2014 recreational sector ACLs; and for all subsequent years, the 
preceding 3-year average recreational total catch will be compared to 
the preceding 3-year average recreational sector ACL.
    (d) Recreational AMs. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, then the 
following procedure will be followed:
    (1) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under 
rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most 
recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold 
(i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or 
BMSY) are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been 
exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent 
year's recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's 
recreational ACL will be deducted, in the following fishing year, or as 
soon as possible, thereafter, once catch data are available, from the 
recreational ACT, as a single-year adjustment.
    (2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (i) If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational 
ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (ii) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single-year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made, in 
the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once 
catch data are available, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(A) of 
this section. In addition, adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
year.
    (A) Adjustment to Recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the 
following year's Recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be 
reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, 
defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the 
recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient, as specified in 
paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section.
    (B) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent 
estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY 
is greater than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (e) State/Federal disconnect AM. If the total catch, allowable 
landings, commercial quotas, and/or RHL measures adopted by the ASMFC 
Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board and the MAFMC 
differ for a given fishing year, administrative action will be taken as 
soon as possible to revisit the respective recommendations of the two 
groups. The intent of this action shall be to achieve alignment through 
consistent state and Federal measures such that no differential effects 
occur on Federal permit holders.


0
4. In Sec.  648.123, paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) are revised and 
paragraph (e) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.123  Scup accountability measures.

* * * * *
    (b) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the 
commercial ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been 
accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the exact amount by 
which the commercial ACL was exceeded, in pounds, will be deducted, as 
soon as possible, from the applicable subsequent single fishing year 
commercial ACL.
    (c) Recreational ACL. The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated 
based on a 3-year moving average comparison of

[[Page 76764]]

total catch (landings and dead discards). Both landings and dead 
discards will be evaluated in determining if the 3-year average 
recreational sector ACL has been exceeded. The 3-year moving average 
will be phased in over the first 3 years, beginning with 2012: Total 
recreational total catch from 2012 will be compared to the 2012 
recreational sector ACL; the average total catch from both 2012 and 
2013 will be compared to the average of the 2012 and 2013 recreational 
sector ACLs; the average total catch from 2012, 2013, and 2014 will be 
compared to the average of 2012, 2013, and 2014 recreational sector 
ACLs; and for all subsequent years, the preceding 3-year average 
recreational total catch will be compared to the preceding 3-year 
average recreational sector ACL.
    (d) Recreational AMs. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, then the 
following procedure will be followed:
    (1) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under 
rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most 
recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold 
(i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or 
BMSY) are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been 
exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent 
year's recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's 
recreational ACL will be deducted in the following fishing year, or as 
soon as possible, thereafter, once catch data are available, from the 
recreational ACT, as a single-year adjustment.
    (2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (i) If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational 
ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (ii) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made, in 
the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once 
catch data are available, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(A) of 
this section. In addition, adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
year.
    (A) Adjustment to Recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the 
following year's Recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be 
reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, 
defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the 
recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient, as specified in 
paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section.
    (B) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater 
than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, 
taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.
    (e) State/Federal disconnect AM. If the total catch, allowable 
landings, commercial quotas, and/or RHL measures adopted by the ASMFC 
Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board and the MAFMC 
differ for a given fishing year, administrative action will be taken as 
soon as possible to revisit the respective recommendations of the two 
groups. The intent of this action shall be to achieve alignment through 
consistent state and Federal measures such that no differential effects 
occur on Federal permit holders.


0
5. In Sec.  648.143, paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) are revised and 
paragraph (e) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  648.143  Black sea bass accountability measures.

* * * * *
    (b) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the 
commercial ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been 
accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the exact amount by 
which the commercial ACL was exceeded, in pounds, will be deducted, as 
soon as possible, from the applicable subsequent single fishing year 
commercial ACL.
    (c) Recreational ACL Evaluation. The recreational sector ACL will 
be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch 
(landings and dead discards). Both landings and dead discards will be 
evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational sector ACL 
has been exceeded. The 3-year moving average will be phased in over the 
first 3 years, beginning with 2012: Total recreational total catch from 
2012 will be compared to the 2012 recreational sector ACL; the average 
total catch from both 2012 and 2013 will be compared to the average of 
the 2012 and 2013 recreational sector ACLs; the average total catch 
from 2012, 2013, and 2014 will be compared to the average of the 2012, 
2013, and 2014 recreational sector ACLs and, for all subsequent years, 
the preceding 3-year average recreational total catch will be compared 
to the preceding 3-year average recreational sector ACL.
    (d) Recreational AMs. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, then the 
following procedure will be followed:
    (1) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under 
rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most 
recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold 
(i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or 
BMSY) are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been 
exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent 
year's recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's 
recreational ACL will be deducted in the following fishing year, or as 
soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, from the 
recreational ACT, as a single-year adjustment.
    (2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (i) If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational 
ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management 
measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and 
conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following 
fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are 
available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (ii) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single-year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made in 
the following fishing year, or as soon as

[[Page 76765]]

possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as described in 
paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(A) of this section. In addition, adjustments to 
the recreational management measures, taking into account the 
performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the 
overage, will be made in the following year.
    (A) Adjustment to Recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the 
following year's Recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be 
reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, 
defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the 
recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient, as specified in 
paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section.
    (B) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater 
than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, 
taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.
    (e) State/Federal disconnect AM. If the total catch, allowable 
landings, commercial quotas, and/or RHL measures adopted by the ASMFC 
Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board and the MAFMC 
differ for a given fishing year, administrative action will be taken as 
soon as possible to revisit the respective recommendations of the two 
groups. The intent of this action shall be to achieve alignment through 
consistent state and Federal measures such that no differential effects 
occur to Federal permit holders.

0
6. In Sec.  648.163, paragraphs (d) and (e) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  648.163  Bluefish accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (d) Recreational landings AM when the ACL is exceeded and no 
sector-to-sector transfer of allowable landings has occurred. If the 
fishery-level ACL is exceeded and landings from the recreational 
fishery are determined to be the sole cause of the overage, and no 
transfer between the commercial and recreational sector was made for 
the fishing year, as outlined in Sec.  648.162(b)(2), then the 
following procedure will be followed:
    (1) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under 
rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most 
recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold 
(i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a 
rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or 
BMSY) are unknown, and the ACL has been exceeded, then the 
exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year's recreational 
catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's ACL will be deducted 
from the following year's recreational ACT, or as soon as possible 
thereafter, once catch data are available, as a single-year adjustment.
    (2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and 
the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater 
than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 
1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following 
AMs will apply:
    (i) If the ACL has been exceeded. If the ACL has been exceeded, 
then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into 
account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.
    (ii) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, 
then a single-year adjustment to the following year's recreational ACT 
will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible 
thereafter, once catch data are available, as described in paragraph 
(d)(2)(ii)(A) of this section. In addition, adjustments to the 
recreational management measures, taking into account the performance 
of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be 
made in the following year.
    (A) Adjustment to Recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the 
following year's Recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be 
reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the 
recreational overage, defined as the difference between the 
recreational contribution to the catch above the ACL, and the payback 
coefficient, as specified in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section.
    (B) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference 
between the most recent estimates of BMSY and biomass (i.e., 
BMSY-B) divided by one-half of BMSY.
    (3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent estimate of 
biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater 
than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, 
taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that 
precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, 
or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a 
single-year adjustment.
    (e) AM for when the ACL is exceeded and a sector-to-sector transfer 
of allowable landings has occurred. If the fishery-level ACL is 
exceeded and landings from the recreational fishery and/or the 
commercial fishery are determined to have caused the overage, and a 
transfer between the commercial and recreational sector has occurred 
for the fishing year, as outlined in Sec.  648.162(b)(2), then the 
amount transferred between the recreational and commercial sectors may 
be reduced by the ACL overage amount (pound-for-pound repayment) in a 
subsequent, single fishing year if the Bluefish Monitoring Committee 
determines that the ACL overage was the result of too liberal a 
landings transfer between the two sectors. If the Bluefish Monitoring 
Committee determines that the ACL overage was not the result of the 
landings transfer, the recreational AMs described in paragraph (d) of 
this section will be implemented.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-30133 Filed 12-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P