[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 37 (Tuesday, February 25, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 10421-10422]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04022]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140113030-4109-01]
RIN 0648-XD081


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Adjustment of Georges Bank and Southern New 
England/Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder Annual Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; adjustment of annual catch limits.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces a transfer of unused quota for the remainder of 
the 2013 fishing year (FY) of Georges Bank (GB) and Southern New 
England/Mid Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail flounder from the Atlantic 
scallop fishery to the Northeast (NE) multispecies fishery. This action 
is being taken because the scallop fishery is not expected to catch its 
entire allocation of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder. The intent is 
to provide additional harvest opportunity to the NE multispecies 
fishery while ensuring sufficient amounts of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder are available for the scallop fishery.

DATES: Effective February 20, 2014, through April 30, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Sullivan, Fisheries Management 
Specialist, (978) 282-8493.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 648.90(a)(4)(iii)(C) authorize the 
Regional Administrator (RA) to reduce the scallop fishery sub-ACL to 
the amount projected to be caught, and increase the groundfish fishery 
sub-ACL up to the amount reduced from the scallop fishery if, by 
January 15 of each year, the scallop fishery is expected to catch less 
than 90 percent of its GB or SNE/MA yellowtail flounder sub-annual 
catch limit (sub-ACL). This adjustment is intended to help achieve 
optimum yield, while not threatening an overage of the ACLs for the 
stocks.
    Based on the most current available data, NMFS projects that the 
scallop fishery will have unused quota in the 2013 fishing year (FY). 
Although for the first time starting in FY 2013, three Scallop Access 
Areas will remain open during the month of February, NMFS' analysis 
assumed similar scallop fleet effort and behavior to past years. It is 
possible that the additional open areas will increase effort and 
potentially result in higher yellowtail flounder bycatch. However, NMFS 
accounted for this uncertainty by using the high-end estimates of the 
catch projections. As of January 15, the projections indicate that the 
scallop fishery is expected to catch 41.5 mt of GB yellowtail, or 49.8 
percent of its FY 2013 sub-ACL, and 43.6 mt of SNE/MA yellowtail, or 
71.4 percent of its FY 2013 sub-ACL. Because the scallop fishery is not 
expected to catch its entire allocation of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder, this rule transfers the unused quota for the remainder of the 
2013 FY of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder from the Atlantic scallop 
fishery to the NE multispecies fishery. The intent is to provide 
additional harvest opportunity to the NE multispecies fishery while 
ensuring sufficient amounts of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder are 
available for the scallop fishery.
    Based on the new projections of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder 
catch by the scallop fishery, effective February 20, 2014, through 
April 30, 2014, NMFS reduces the scallop sub-ACL for both stocks to the 
amount projected to be caught, and increases the groundfish sub-ACLs. 
To account for uncertainty in inseason catch projections, NMFS 
increases the groundfish sub-ACLs by 90 percent of the amount reduced 
from the scallop sub-ACLs. This results in an additional 37.7 mt of GB 
yellowtail flounder, and 15.7 mt of SNE/MA yellowtail flounder, for the 
groundfish fishery. Table 1 summarizes the revisions to the FY 2013 
sub-ACLs, and Table 2 shows the revised allocations for the NE 
multispecies fishery as allocated between the sectors and common pool 
based on final sector membership for FY 2013.

            Table 1--Georges Bank and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder Sub-ACLs
                                                [In metric tons]
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                                                                      Initial sub-    Revised  sub-    Percent
                 Stock                             Fishery              ACL (mt)        ACL  (mt)       change
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GB Yellowtail Flounder.................  Groundfish................           116.8           154.5          +32
                                         Scallop...................            83.4            41.5          -50
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder.............  Groundfish................             570           585.7           +3
                                         Scallop...................              61            43.6          -29
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                              Table 2--Allocations for Sectors and the Common Pool
                                                   [In pounds]
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                      Stock                           GB Yellowtail flounder        SNE/MA Yellowtail flounder
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                   Sector name                       Original         Revised        Original         Revised
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Fixed Gear Sector...............................              32              42           3,820           3,926
Maine Coast Community Sector....................               9              12           8,321           8,550
Maine Permit Bank...............................              35              47             401             412
New Hampshire Permit Bank.......................               0               0               0               0
Northeast Coast Communities Sector..............           2,161           2,859           9,115           9,366
    Northeast Fishery Sector II.................           5,037           6,662          18,921          19,442
    Northeast Fishery Sector III................              25              33           4,482           4,605
    Northeast Fishery Sector IV.................           5,567           7,364          28,512          29,298
    Northeast Fishery Sector V..................           4,151           5,491         288,809         296,764

[[Page 10422]]

 
    Northeast Fishery Sector VI.................           6,954           9,198          64,929          66,717
    Northeast Fishery Sector VII................          29,083          38,470          57,417          58,999
    Northeast Fishery Sector VIII...............          28,075          37,137          73,420          75,442
    Northeast Fishery Sector IX.................          68,968          91,230          99,983         102,737
    Northeast Fishery Sector X..................              44              58           6,879           7,069
    Northeast Fishery Sector XI.................               2               3             217             223
    Northeast Fishery Sector XII................               2               3              28              29
    Northeast Fishery Sector XIII...............          64,292          85,044         237,793         244,343
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1....................          33,971          44,936         103,528         106,379
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3....................           6,005           7,943          39,363          40,448
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
        All Sectors Combined....................         254,414         336,532       1,045,939       1,074,748
Common Pool.....................................           3,086           4,083         210,696         216,500
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Note: All ACE values for sectors outlined in Table 3 assume that each sector permit is valid for FY 2012.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the management 
measures implemented in this final rule are necessary for the 
conservation and management of the NE multispecies fishery and 
consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The NMFS Assistant Administrator finds good cause pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment for this in season sub-ACL adjustment because notice and 
comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. The 
regulations at Sec.  648.90(a)(4)(iii)(C) grant the RA authority to 
reduce the scallop fishery sub-ACL to the amount projected to be 
caught, and increase the groundfish sub-ACL by 90 percent of the amount 
reduced from the scallop sub-ACLs in order to maximize the GB and SNE/
MA yellowtail flounder yield. The updated projections of GB and SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder catch in the scallop fishery only became available 
on January 15, 2014, therefore NMFS could not have taken this action 
earlier. In addition, the current fishing year ends on April 30, 2014. 
If NMFS allowed for the time necessary to provide for prior notice and 
comment, the resulting delay in the sub-ACL adjustments could prevent 
in the short-term NE multispecies vessels from fully harvesting GB and 
SNE/MA yellowtail flounder catch at higher rates and potentially 
prevent the full harvest of the sub-ACLs of other groundfish stocks 
that are caught coincidentally with GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder 
before the end of the fishing year on April 30, 2014. Given the 
significant decreases in catch limits for many groundfish stocks in FY 
2013, any delay in increasing such limits through this transfer could 
prevent fishermen from attempting to offset their current negative 
economic circumstances. Giving effect to this rule as soon as possible 
will provide immediate relief to fishermen.
    The NMFS Assistant Administrator also finds good cause pursuant to 
5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness for this 
action for these same reasons. This rule provides additional harvest 
opportunity to the NE multispecies fishery while ensuring sufficient 
amounts of GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder are available for the 
scallop fishery. A delay in the sub-ACL adjustments could prevent in 
the short-term, given the end of the fishing year on April 30, 2014, NE 
multispecies vessels from fully harvesting GB and SNE/MA yellowtail 
flounder catch at higher rates and potentially prevent the full harvest 
of the sub-ACLs of other groundfish stocks that are caught 
coincidentally with GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder. Further, there 
is no need to allow the industry additional time to adjust to this rule 
because it does not require any compliance or other action on the part 
of individual scallop or groundfish fishermen.
    Because notice and opportunity for comment are not required 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical requirements 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are 
inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and one has not been prepared.

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

    Dated: February 19, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-04022 Filed 2-20-14; 4:15 pm]
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