[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 22 (Monday, February 3, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6097-6101]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02177]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 130802673-4053-02]
RIN 0648-BD49


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

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement management measures 
described in a framework action to the Fishery Management Plans for the 
Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), as prepared by the 
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council); and Coastal 
Migratory Pelagic (CMP) Resources of the Gulf and South Atlantic 
Region, as prepared by the Gulf Council and the South Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council (South Atlantic Council) (Headboat Reporting 
Framework). This final rule modifies the recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements for headboat owners and operators who fish for species 
managed by the Gulf Council through the previously mentioned FMPs. 
These revisions require fishing records to be submitted electronically 
(via computer or internet) on a weekly basis or at intervals shorter 
than a week if notified by the NMFS' Southeast Fisheries Science Center 
(SEFSC) Science and Research Director (SRD), and prohibit headboats 
from continuing to fish if they are delinquent in submitting reports. 
Additionally, this final rule includes two corrections to regulatory 
text. The purpose of this final rule is to obtain timelier fishing 
information from headboats to better monitor recreational annual catch 
limits (ACLs), improve stock assessments, and improve compliance with 
reporting in Gulf fisheries.

DATES: This rule is effective March 5, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the Headboat Reporting Framework, which 
includes an environmental assessment and a regulatory impact review, 
may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
    Comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of 
the collection-of-information requirements contained in this final rule 
may be submitted in writing to Anik Clemens, Southeast Regional Office, 
NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; and OMB, by 
email at OIRA Submission@omb.eop.gov, or by fax to 202-395-7285.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Councils manage the fisheries 
for Gulf reef fish and Gulf and South Atlantic CMP under their 
respective FMPs. The FMPs were prepared by the Gulf and South Atlantic 
Councils and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 
under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    On October 25, 2013, NMFS published a proposed rule for the 
framework and requested public comment (78 FR 63946). The proposed rule 
and framework outline the rationale for the actions contained in this 
final rule. A summary of the actions implemented by this final rule is 
provided below.
    This final rule requires electronic reporting for headboat vessels 
in the Gulf reef fish and Gulf coastal migratory pelagic fisheries; 
increases the reporting frequency for headboat vessels in these 
fisheries; and prohibits headboats from continuing to fish if they are 
delinquent in submitting their reports. As

[[Page 6098]]

explained in the preamble to the proposed rule, this rule will require 
headboat owners and operators, who are selected by the SRD, to use an 
electronic logbook (eLog) form through the ``Southeast Region Headboat 
Survey,'' an electronic reporting system developed by the SEFSC for 
trips completed, and to submit no fishing reports when no trips are 
taken. This form is available through a password protected Web site 
that can be accessed by personal computer, computer tablet, or 
``smart'' phone (an application can be downloaded on both Android 
phones and iPhones). The Web site can be accessed at https://selogbook.com. An access code is required to log in to the Web site. 
Bluefin Data also requires a current email address for each vessel 
owner to send access codes and other information regarding the Web site 
to vessel owners. Once Bluefin Data registers a vessel owner and 
provides the vessel owner with an access code via email, the vessel 
owner is able to log in to the Web site and create a password for his 
account. The vessel owner can register more than one vessel under his 
password and more than one captain. The vessel owner determines who can 
access the Web site using his password.
    Additionally, this final rule includes two corrections to 
regulatory text. An interim final rule to reorganize the 50 CFR part 
622 regulations published on April 17, 2013 (78 FR 22950), and included 
a restructuring of the prohibition section to just include general 
prohibitions instead of specific prohibitions. Then a final rule that 
published on July 31, 2013 (78 FR 46292), added a prohibition that 
prohibited any person from failing to comply with the passenger 
capacity requirements in Sec. Sec.  622.20(b)(1)(iv) and 622.373(e). A 
final rule for the reorganization of 50 CFR part 622 published on 
September 19, 2013 (78 FR 57534), that changed the prohibition section 
back to specific prohibitions instead of general prohibitions, however, 
NMFS inadvertently did not include the prohibition from the July 31, 
2013, rule into the final reorganization rule. The preamble to the 
final reorganization rule clearly indicated that the intent was to 
replace the general prohibitions with all relevant specific 
prohibitions and stakeholders should have understood that the omission 
of this specific prohibition was not intentional. Therefore, that 
prohibition is added back into the regulations through this final rule. 
A final rule that published on September 18, 2013 (78 FR 57313), 
included new quotas for Gulf red snapper, based on the framework action 
entitled ``Red Snapper 2013 Quota Increase and Supplemental 
Recreational Season''. These quotas were established in pounds and then 
codified in pounds, round weight, along with their kilogram 
conversions. However, the kilogram conversions were incorrect in that 
final rule. This final rule corrects those conversions.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS received six comment submissions on the framework action and 
the proposed rule; one from an environmental organization and five from 
individuals. Two individuals and the environmental organization 
expressed general support for the action in the framework. Two 
individuals opposed requiring electronic reporting. One of these 
commenters thought daily reporting should be required while the other 
commenter thought bi-monthly reporting was sufficient. One comment was 
on issues outside the scope of the action in the framework and this 
final rule, and one comment was related to the economic analysis in the 
proposed rule. A summary of the comments and NMFS' responses to those 
comments appears below.
    Comment 1: Daily reporting should be required so it can be verified 
before the boat docks, which currently occurs in the commercial sector.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that daily reporting should be required 
for headboats. The Council considered requiring daily reporting for 
headboats but did not select that alternative because it would impose a 
more burdensome requirement on the industry when daily reporting may 
not be necessary to effectively monitor the fisheries. The alternative 
selected by the Council requires weekly reporting but also allows the 
SRD to require more frequent reporting if necessary. NMFS agrees with 
the Council that requiring weekly reporting, with the flexibility to 
require more frequent reporting if necessary, ensures that the timely 
and accurate data necessary to manage the fishery is received while 
imposing less burden on administrators and industry.
    With respect to the commercial sector, daily reporting and dockside 
verification are not generally required. Commercial landings are 
reported on a per trip basis by dealers. Currently, most dealers are 
required to report bi-monthly, however, the Council developed the 
Generic Dealer Reporting Amendment to change the frequency of dealer 
reporting to weekly. The proposed rulemaking implementing that 
amendment published on January 2, 2014 (79 FR 81). The only commercial 
vessel permit holders that must report estimated catch before docking 
are those that participate in the Gulf red snapper and grouper/tilefish 
individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs. This allows NMFS the 
opportunity to intercept an IFQ vessel at the dock to verify that this 
data is accurate and is necessary for enforcement reasons that are not 
present outside the IFQ programs.
    Comment 2: Bi-monthly reporting is sufficient because requiring 
more frequent reporting will inhibit headboat productivity.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that requiring weekly, as opposed to bi-
monthly, reporting will increase the administrative burden on headboat 
owners to such an extent that productivity is inhibited. Headboat 
operators will be required to record and submit the same information as 
is currently required but will be submitting it on a more regular 
basis. Further, although more frequent reporting may increase the 
direct costs to headboat businesses, it is also expected to increase 
the accuracy of the harvest monitoring process, which will increase 
economic benefits. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that 
requiring weekly reporting will allow managers to obtain the data 
necessary to more effectively manage harvest while minimizing costs to 
headboat businesses.
    Comment 3: Reporting by phone and/or mail along with electronic 
reporting should be allowed, at least for a transition period during 
initial implementation of electronic reporting.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that allowing alternative reporting 
methods is necessary during the initial implementation of the 
electronic reporting requirement. Since January 1, 2013, the SRD has 
requested that headboat owners and operators report electronically. 
Currently, 95 percent of headboats are reporting electronically. The 
remaining 5 percent have known that electronic reporting would be 
required since the Council took final action on the framework action in 
June 2013. Additional time to comply with the new requirement is 
unnecessary and would delay the benefits of transitioning to this more 
timely and accurate method of reporting.
    Comment 4: Dockside sampling frequency should be increased and a 
Gulf at-sea headboat observer program should be established to validate 
logbook data and better define bycatch and discards. In addition, the 
collection of economic data should be included as part of the 
electronic logbook program.
    Response: Such additional data collection elements are beyond the 
scope of the current rulemaking.

[[Page 6099]]

However, the Gulf Council or NMFS could, in the future, consider 
increasing the amount of dockside and onboard sampling to validate 
electronic logbook data and collect economic data as part of the 
logbook program.
    Comment 5: The rule would affect more businesses than forecasted; 
the projected reporting expense of $374 per business per year ``can 
have negative effects'' on small businesses; and the assessment 
understated the significance of the economic effects of the proposed 
rule.
    Response: NMFS disagrees that the analysis in the proposed rule 
understated the significance of the economic effects of the reporting 
change on headboat businesses. The analysis stated that the rule would 
directly affect all headboat businesses permitted to operate in the 
Gulf EEZ. Thus, all appropriate businesses were included in the 
assessment. With respect to the estimated reporting expense, the 
commenter misinterpreted this expense. As discussed in the proposed 
rule, this estimate equals the labor burden for reporting via either 
paper or electronic means. Because paper reports have been required, 
this estimate equals the current reporting labor cost as well as the 
reporting cost for electronic reporting and thus would not be a new 
business expense. Any new expense that might be incurred as a result of 
this rule would be associated with a possible need to purchase a 
computer and acquire internet access. However, as also discussed in the 
proposed rule, computers and internet access are believed to be 
routinely used by businesses in general and in this industry. 
Additionally, electronic reporting has been requested by the SRD since 
January 1, 2013. As a result, few, if any, of the businesses directly 
affected by this rule would be expected to have to incur any new 
expenses to meet the requirements of this rule.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    In the proposed rule, the requirements for headboat reporting 
methods and frequency of reporting for coastal migratory pelagic fish 
were separated into Gulf requirements (Sec.  622.371(b)(1)(ii) and 
(b)(2)(ii)) and South Atlantic requirements (Sec.  622.371(b)(1)(iii) 
and (b)(2)(iii)). The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council 
proposed identical headboat reporting requirements and that proposed 
rule also separated the requirements for headboat reporting methods and 
frequency of reporting for coastal migratory pelagic fish into Gulf 
requirements and South Atlantic requirements. The final rule 
implementing the South Atlantic changes to the headboat reporting 
requirements published before this final rule. Therefore, in this final 
rule, the paragraphs for Gulf and South Atlantic headboat reporting 
requirements for coastal migratory pelagic fish have been combined (for 
both reporting methods and frequency) because when this final rule 
becomes effective, both Gulf and South Atlantic headboat reporting 
requirements for coastal migratory pelagic fish will be the same.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
that this final rule is necessary for the management of the Gulf reef 
fish and coastal migratory pelagic fisheries and is consistent with the 
framework, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
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 rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. In addition to the actions 
considered in the framework, this final rule makes changes to 
regulatory text in Sec. Sec.  622.13 and 622.39. These changes are 
described in the preamble to this final rule. These changes correct 
mistakes that occurred in prior regulatory action and do not impose new 
restrictions. As a result, none of these changes in the regulatory text 
would be expected to result in any reduction in profits to any small 
entities. Comments on the economic analysis are addressed in the 
comments and responses section (Comment 5) of this final rule. No 
changes to the final rule were made in response to these comments. As a 
result, a final regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and 
none was prepared.
    This final rule contains collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which 
have been approved by OMB under control number 0648-0016. NMFS 
estimates that the requirement for Gulf headboat owners and operators 
to report electronically results in a net zero effect on the reporting 
burden under OMB control number 0648-0016, because headboat owners and 
operators will continue to report all species harvested, however, now 
electronically instead of by paper. NMFS estimates that the requirement 
for headboat owners and operators to report more frequently (weekly 
instead of monthly) does not create more burden on headboat owners and 
operators, because the headboat owners and operators will still be 
reporting the same amount of information, but just transmitting the 
data more frequently. These estimates of the public reporting burden 
include the time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining 
the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection-of-
information.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required 
to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure 
to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the requirements 
of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf, Headboat, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    Dated: January 28, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH 
ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.13, paragraph (pp) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.13  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (pp) Fail to comply with the passenger capacity related 
requirements in Sec. Sec.  622.20(b)(1)(iv) and 622.373(e).
* * * * *

0
3. In Sec.  622.26, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.26  Recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (b) Charter vessel/headboat owners and operators--(1) General 
reporting requirement--(i) Charter vessels. The owner or operator of a 
charter vessel for which a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef 
fish has been issued, as required under Sec.  622.20(b), or whose 
vessel fishes for or lands such reef fish in or from state waters 
adjoining the Gulf EEZ, who is selected to report by

[[Page 6100]]

the SRD must maintain a fishing record for each trip, or a portion of 
such trips as specified by the SRD, on forms provided by the SRD and 
must submit such record as specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section.
    (ii) Headboats. The owner or operator of a headboat for which a 
charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, as 
required under Sec.  622.20(b), or whose vessel fishes for or lands 
such reef fish in or from state waters adjoining the Gulf EEZ, who is 
selected to report by the SRD must submit an electronic fishing record 
for each trip of all fish harvested within the time period specified in 
paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section, via the Southeast Region Headboat 
Survey.
    (2) Reporting deadlines--(i) Charter vessels. Completed fishing 
records required by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section for charter 
vessels must be submitted to the SRD weekly, postmarked no later than 7 
days after the end of each week (Sunday). Information to be reported is 
indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.
    (ii) Headboats. Electronic fishing records required by paragraph 
(b)(1)(ii) of this section for headboats must be submitted at weekly 
intervals (or intervals shorter than a week if notified by the SRD) by 
11:59 p.m., local time, the Sunday following a reporting week. If no 
fishing activity occurred during a reporting week, an electronic report 
so stating must be submitted for that reporting week by 11:59 p.m., 
local time, the Sunday following a reporting week.
    (3) Catastrophic conditions. During catastrophic conditions only, 
NMFS provides for use of paper forms for basic required functions as a 
backup to the electronic reports required by paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of 
this section. The RA will determine when catastrophic conditions exist, 
the duration of the catastrophic conditions, and which participants or 
geographic areas are deemed affected by the catastrophic conditions. 
The RA will provide timely notice to affected participants via 
publication of notification in the Federal Register, NOAA weather 
radio, fishery bulletins, and other appropriate means and will 
authorize the affected participants' use of paper-based components for 
the duration of the catastrophic conditions. The paper forms will be 
available from NMFS. During catastrophic conditions, the RA has the 
authority to waive or modify reporting time requirements.
    (4) Compliance requirement. Electronic reports required by 
paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section must be submitted and received by 
NMFS according to the reporting requirements under this section. A 
report not received within the time specified in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) 
is delinquent. A delinquent report automatically results in the owner 
and operator of a headboat for which a charter vessel/headboat permit 
for Gulf reef fish has been issued being prohibited from harvesting or 
possessing such species, regardless of any additional notification to 
the delinquent owner and operator by NMFS. The owner and operator who 
are prohibited from harvesting or possessing such species due to 
delinquent reports are authorized to harvest or possess such species 
only after all required and delinquent reports have been submitted and 
received by NMFS according to the reporting requirements under this 
section.
* * * * *

0
4. In Sec.  622.39, paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (a)(2)(i) are revised to 
read as follows:


Sec.  622.39  Quotas.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Commercial quota for red snapper--5.610 million lb (2.545 
million kg), round weight.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) Recreational quota for red snapper--5.390 million lb (2.445 
million kg), round weight.
* * * * *

0
5. In Sec.  622.374, paragraph (b) is revised, to read as follows:


Sec.  622.374  Recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (b) Charter vessel/headboat owners and operators--(1) General 
reporting requirement--(i) Charter vessels. The owner or operator of a 
charter vessel for which a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf 
coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, as required under Sec.  
622.370(b)(1), or whose vessel fishes for or lands Gulf or South 
Atlantic coastal migratory fish in or from state waters adjoining the 
Gulf or South Atlantic EEZ, who is selected to report by the SRD must 
maintain a fishing record for each trip, or a portion of such trips as 
specified by the SRD, on forms provided by the SRD and must submit such 
record as specified in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section.
    (ii) Headboats. The owner or operator of a headboat for which a 
charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf coastal migratory fish or South 
Atlantic coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, as required 
under Sec.  622.370(b)(1), or whose vessel fishes for or lands Gulf or 
South Atlantic coastal migratory pelagic fish in or from state waters 
adjoining the Gulf or South Atlantic EEZ, who is selected to report by 
the SRD must submit an electronic fishing record for each trip of all 
fish harvested within the time period specified in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) 
of this section, via the Southeast Region Headboat Survey.
    (2) Reporting deadlines--(i) Charter vessels. Completed fishing 
records required by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section for charter 
vessels must be submitted to the SRD weekly, postmarked no later than 7 
days after the end of each week (Sunday). Information to be reported is 
indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.
    (ii) Headboats. Electronic fishing records required by paragraph 
(b)(1)(ii) of this section for headboats must be submitted at weekly 
intervals (or intervals shorter than a week if notified by the SRD) by 
11:59 p.m., local time, the Sunday following a reporting week. If no 
fishing activity occurred during a reporting week, an electronic report 
so stating must be submitted for that reporting week by 11:59 p.m., 
local time, the Sunday following a reporting week.
    (3) Catastrophic conditions. During catastrophic conditions only, 
NMFS provides for use of paper forms for basic required functions as a 
backup to the electronic reports required by paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of 
this section. The RA will determine when catastrophic conditions exist, 
the duration of the catastrophic conditions, and which participants or 
geographic areas are deemed affected by the catastrophic conditions. 
The RA will provide timely notice to affected participants via 
publication of notification in the Federal Register, NOAA weather 
radio, fishery bulletins, and other appropriate means and will 
authorize the affected participants' use of paper-based components for 
the duration of the catastrophic conditions. The paper forms will be 
available from NMFS. During catastrophic conditions, the RA has the 
authority to waive or modify reporting time requirements.
    (4) Compliance requirement. Electronic reports required by 
paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section must be submitted and received by 
NMFS according to the reporting requirements under this section. A 
report not received within the time specified in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) 
is delinquent. A delinquent report automatically results in the owner 
and operator of a headboat for which a charter vessel/headboat permit 
for Gulf coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued being 
prohibited from harvesting or possessing such species,

[[Page 6101]]

regardless of any additional notification to the delinquent owner and 
operator by NMFS. The owner and operator who are prohibited from 
harvesting or possessing such species due to delinquent reports are 
authorized to harvest or possess such species only after all required 
and delinquent reports have been submitted and received by NMFS 
according to the reporting requirements under this section.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2014-02177 Filed 1-31-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P