[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 17 (Monday, January 27, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4319-4320]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-01509]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 131206999-4046-01]
RIN 0648-BD85


Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; 
American Lobster Fishery; Control Date for Lobster Conservation 
Management Areas

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

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR); request for 
comments.

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SUMMARY: At the request of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission, this notice announces a control date that may be 
applicable, but not limited to, limiting the number of permits or traps 
a business entity may own in Lobster Conservation Management Area 3 or 
in any of the Lobster Conservation Management Areas. NMFS intends this 
notice to promote awareness of possible rulemaking, alert interested 
parties of potential eligibility criteria for future access, and 
discourage speculative entry into and/or investment in the American 
lobster fishery while the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 
and NMFS consider if and how participation in the American lobster 
fishery should be controlled.

DATES: January 27, 2014 shall be known as the ``control date'' for the 
American lobster fishery, and may be used as a reference date for 
future management measures related to the maintenance of a fishery with 
characteristics consistent with the Commission's objectives and 
applicable Federal laws. Written comments must be received on or before 
February 26, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2013-0169 by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0169, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
    [ssquf] Mail: Submit written comments to John K. Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic

[[Page 4320]]

Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, 
``Comments on Lobster Control Date.''
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. We may not consider comments sent by any other 
method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end 
of the comment period. 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, etc.) 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). We accept attachments to electronic comments 
only in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carly Bari, Fisheries Management 
Specialist, 978-281-9224, fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The American Lobster Fishery Management Plan 
is implemented by the NMFS under the framework of the Atlantic States 
Marine Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Interstate Fishery 
Management Plan for American Lobster (ISFMP). Through the ISFMP, the 
Commission adopts fishery conservation and management strategies for 
the American lobster resource and coordinates the efforts of the states 
and NMFS to implement these strategies. The ISFMP establishes seven 
Lobster Conservation Management Areas (Areas), from Maine to North 
Carolina, including state waters, which extend from the coast to 3 
nautical miles (5.56 km) from shore, and the Exclusive Economic Zone 
(EEZ), which extends from 3-200 nautical miles (5.56-370.4 km). Within 
each Area, the states appoint members of the lobster industry to serves 
on a Lobster Conservation Management Team who advises the Commission on 
management programs for each Area. The lobster fishery is a year-round 
fishery in the United States, including the summer and fall months when 
the lobsters are molting. Most lobsters are taken in lobster traps, 
while a small amount are taken incidentally in gillnets and trawls.
    With the advent of the Commission's Trap Transferability Program, 
members of the lobster industry, as well as the Commission, became 
concerned about fishing power becoming consolidated in Area 3 among 
relatively few permit holders who could then purchase trap allocation, 
increase fishing power, and reshape the fishery in a way that would be 
detrimental to existing and historical fishing patterns. Area 3 is the 
largest of all the Lobster Conservation Management Areas, occurs 
exclusively in the EEZ, and extends from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North 
Carolina. Industry and the Commission were concerned that previously 
latent effort could be cheaply purchased and activated, which would 
create additional pressure on the lobster stock, as well as the fishing 
businesses currently existing in the area. Accordingly, the Commission 
approved Addendum XXII in October 2013, which recommended that the 
states and NMFS limit the number of traps that any one individual or 
entity may own.
    On November 18, 2013, the Commission requested that NMFS publish 
this control date to discourage permit consolidation and speculative 
activation of previously unused effort or capacity in the American 
lobster fishery during the time that alternative management regimes to 
control capacity or latent effort are discussed and potentially 
developed and implemented. This action communicates to fishermen that 
participation after the control date may not be treated the same as 
participation before the control date. This control date may also be 
considered for future management decisions and rulemaking for any of 
the Lobster Conservation Management Areas. NMFS may also choose to take 
no further action to control entry or access to the American lobster 
fishery.
    This notification establishes January 27, 2014 as the new control 
date for potential use in determining historical or traditional 
participation in Area 3 of the American lobster fishery. Establishing a 
control date does not commit NMFS to develop any particular management 
regime or criteria for participation in these fisheries. In the future, 
NMFS may choose a different control date or a management program that 
does not make use of any control date. Any future action by NMFS will 
be taken pursuant to the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative 
Management Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act.
    This notification also gives the public notice that interested 
participants should locate and preserve records that substantiate and 
verify their participation in the American lobster fishery.
    This notification and control date do not impose any legal 
obligations, requirements, or expectation.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.

    Dated: January 17, 2014.
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.
[FR Doc. 2014-01509 Filed 1-24-14; 8:45 am]
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