[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 76807-76809]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30134]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 622 and 640

RIN 0648-BC12


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Revisions to Dealer Permitting and Reporting Requirements for Species 
Managed by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management 
Councils

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

[[Page 76808]]

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic Fishery 
Management Councils (Councils) have submitted a Generic Amendment to 
the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) in the Gulf and South Atlantic 
Regions (Generic Dealer Amendment) for review, approval, and 
implementation by NMFS. The Generic Dealer Amendment amends the 
following FMPs: Reef Fish Resources and the Red Drum Fishery of the 
Gulf; the Snapper-Grouper Fishery (including wreckfish), the Golden 
Crab Fishery, and the Shrimp Fishery (excluding penaeid shrimp) of the 
South Atlantic Region; the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic; 
and Coastal Migratory Pelagic (CMP) Resources and the Spiny Lobster 
Fishery of the Gulf and South Atlantic. The Generic Dealer Amendment 
would modify the permitting and reporting requirements for seafood 
dealers who first receive species managed by the Councils through the 
previously mentioned FMPs. These revisions would create a single dealer 
permit for dealers who first receive fish managed by the Councils, 
require both purchase and non-purchase reports to be submitted online 
on a weekly basis, not authorizing dealers to purchase fish from 
federally-permitted vessels if they are delinquent in submitting 
reports, and modify the sale and purchase provisions based on the new 
dealer permitting requirements. The intent of the amendment is to 
obtain timelier purchase information from dealers to help reduce annual 
catch limit (ACL) underages and overages, and achieve optimum yield in 
accordance with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before February 18, 
2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0206'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
``Instructions'' for submitting comments.
     Mail: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 
263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may 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 field if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0206'' in the search field 
and click on ``search.'' After you locate the notice of availability, 
click the ``Submit a Comment'' link in that row. This will display the 
comment web form. You can then enter your submitter information (unless 
you prefer to remain anonymous), and type your comment on the web form. 
You can also attach additional files (up to 10MB) in Microsoft Word, 
Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this notice will 
not be considered.
    For further assistance with submitting a comment, see the 
``Commenting'' section at http://www.regulations.gov/#!faqs or the Help 
section at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Electronic copies of the amendment may be obtained from the 
Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone 727-824-5305; email: rich.malinowski@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires each 
regional fishery management council to submit any fishery management 
plan or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or 
partial approval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, 
upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the 
Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is 
available for review and comment.
    The FMPs being revised by this amendment were prepared by the 
Councils and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 and 
part 640 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery 
management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing 
basis, the optimum yield from federally managed fish stocks. These 
mandates are intended to ensure fishery resources are managed for the 
greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to 
providing food production and recreational opportunities, and 
protecting marine ecosystems. To further this goal, the Magnuson-
Stevens Act requires fishery managers to specify their strategy to 
rebuild overfished stocks to a sustainable level within a certain time 
frame, to minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality to the extent 
practicable, and to establish accountability measures (AMs) for a stock 
to ensure ACLs are not exceeded.
    The intent of the Generic Dealer Amendment is to improve the 
timeliness and accuracy of dealer reporting, which will help achieve 
harvest targets. Many commercial fisheries have AMs that implement 
closures of fisheries when the commercial ACLs are projected to be met. 
The current reporting frequency reduces the precision of the 
projections, which may result in estimates of landings significantly 
less or greater than the ACL. When fisheries are closed well before the 
ACL is met, optimum yield may not be achieved. In turn, overages have 
the potential to result in significant disruption in fishing behavior 
the following fishing year and, reduce revenue and profit for 
fishermen. Overages also decrease the ability of stocks to rebuild when 
overfished and may lead to overfishing conditions. The proposed 
actions, including increasing the frequency of dealer reporting and 
requiring more dealers to report, are intended to result in better 
monitoring of the ACLs. Actions Contained in the Generic Dealer 
Amendment.
    The Generic Dealer Amendment would modify the current permitting 
and reporting requirements for seafood dealers who first receive fish 
managed by the Councils through eight FMPs. Currently, the following 
six Federal dealer permits exist for purchasing product in the 
Southeast Region: Atlantic Dolphin-Wahoo, Gulf Reef Fish, South 
Atlantic Golden Crab, South Atlantic Rock Shrimp, South Atlantic 
Snapper Grouper (excluding wreckfish), and South Atlantic Wreckfish. 
The Generic Dealer Amendment proposes to create a single dealer permit 
that would be required for the species currently covered by the six 
dealer permits. In addition, the dealer permit would be required to 
first receive the following species from federally permitted vessels: 
Gulf and South Atlantic CMP, Gulf and South Atlantic spiny lobster, and 
Gulf Red Drum. If the proposed actions are implemented, the universal 
dealer permit would be required for all species managed by the Councils 
except for

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species in the following five FMPs: Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard 
Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region; Pelagic Sargassum Habitat 
of the South Atlantic Region; Coral and Coral Reefs of the Gulf, Shrimp 
Fishery of the Gulf, and Shrimp Fishery of the South Atlantic Region 
(excluding rock shrimp).
    The Councils exempted penaeid shrimp species from the universal 
dealer permit because there are no ACLs established for these species. 
Thus, the current reporting system is adequate for determining catch 
and effort for these species and the administrative burden of issuing 
such a large number of shrimp dealer permits would outweigh the 
benefits from more timely shrimp dealer reports. The Councils did not 
include corals or pelagic Sargassum because coral harvest is limited to 
octocoral harvest off Florida and does not require a Federal harvest 
permit if landed in Florida, and no recorded harvest of pelagic 
Sargassum from Federal waters occurs.
    Currently, federally permitted Gulf reef fish, South Atlantic 
snapper-grouper, and South Atlantic wreckfish dealers, and dealers with 
records of king mackerel or Spanish mackerel from the previous year, 
are required to submit dealer purchase forms every 2 weeks via fax or 
online through the appropriate state trip ticket reporting system. 
South Atlantic golden crab, rock shrimp, and Atlantic dolphin-wahoo 
dealers are required to submit dealer purchase forms on a monthly basis 
via fax or online through the appropriate state trip ticket reporting 
system. Reports are currently due 5 days after the end of each 
reporting period.
    If implemented, the Generic Dealer Amendment would require 
federally permitted dealers to submit forms electronically (via 
computer or internet) on a weekly basis. Dealer reports for trips 
landing species between Sunday through Saturday would be required to be 
submitted by 11:59 p.m., local time, the following Tuesday. In 
addition, federally permitted dealers would be required to submit 
records of no purchases electronically (via computer or internet) at 
the same frequency and via the same process as records for purchases.
    Dealer reports would be required to be submitted through the dealer 
electronic trip ticket reporting system. Electronic reports are 
currently authorized in each state, except for South Carolina, which 
currently requires paper reporting. The data elements that would be 
required through this Generic Dealer Amendment are consistent with the 
information currently required by the state trip ticket programs.
    This amendment would also stipulate that dealers who are delinquent 
in submitting their reports are not authorized to receive fish from 
federally-permitted vessels until they have submitted all reports on 
purchases and no purchases.
    This amendment would place new restrictions on certain dealers who 
currently are not required to have a Federal dealer permit and on 
certain fishermen who can currently sell to state dealers. Dealers who 
first receive CMP fish and spiny lobster from federally permitted 
commercial vessels or charter vessels/headboats, including federally 
permitted shrimp vessels, would be required to have a Federal dealer 
permit and would be required to report electronically on a weekly 
basis. Federally permitted vessels that currently sell CMP fish and 
spiny lobster to state dealers would be required to sell them to 
federally permitted dealers.
    A proposed rule that would implement the management measures 
outlined in the Generic Dealer Amendment has been drafted. In 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the 
proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMPs, the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. If the determination 
is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal 
Register for public review and comment.

Consideration of Public Comments

    The Councils submitted the Generic Dealer Amendment for Secretarial 
review, approval, and implementation. NMFS' decision to approve, 
partially approve, or disapprove the Amendment will be based, in part, 
on consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received 
during the comment period on this notice of availability.
    Public comments received by 11:59 p.m. eastern time, on February 
18, 2014, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, 
partially approve, or disapprove the Generic Dealer Amendment. All 
comments received by NMFS on the Generic Dealer Amendment or the 
proposed rule during their respective comment periods would be 
addressed in a final rule.

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

    Dated: December 13, 2013.
Sean Corson,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-30134 Filed 12-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P