[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 47 (Tuesday, March 11, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 13607-13609]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-05156]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140106010-4010-01]
RIN 0648-XD069


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Deep-Sea 
Red Crab Fishery; 2014-2016 Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab Specifications

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

ACTION: Proposed specifications; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes specifications for the 2014-2016 Atlantic deep-
sea red crab fishery, including an annual catch limit and total 
allowable landings. The intent of this action is to establish the 
allowable 2014-2016 harvest levels and other management measures to 
achieve the target fishing mortality rate, consistent with the Atlantic 
Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery Management Plan.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 26, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2014-0004, 
by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0004, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to John Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 
Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. 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.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publically accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Copies of the specifications document, including the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) and other supporting documents 
for the specifications, are available from Thomas A. Nies, Executive 
Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 
2, Newburyport, MA 01950. The specifications document is also 
accessible via the Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carly Bari, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9224.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Atlantic deep-sea red crab fishery is managed by the New 
England Fishery Management Council (Council). Regulations implementing 
the Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP) appear at 
50 CFR part 648,

[[Page 13608]]

subparts A and M. The regulations requiring triennial specifications 
are found at Sec.  648.260.
    The FMP requires the Council to recommend, on a triennial basis, 
the annual catch limit (ACL) and total allowable landings (TAL) that 
will control the fishing mortality rate (F). Estimates of stock size, 
coupled with the target F, allow for a calculation of acceptable 
biological catch (ABC), which is recommended by the Council's 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The annual review process 
for red crab requires that the SSC review and make recommendations 
based on the best available scientific information, including catch/
landing statistics, current estimates of fishing mortality, stock 
abundance, and juvenile recruitment. Based on the recommendations of 
the SSC, the Council makes a recommendation to the NMFS Regional 
Administrator.
    The Council's recommendations must include supporting documentation 
concerning the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the 
recommendations. NMFS is responsible for reviewing these 
recommendations to ensure that they achieve the FMP objectives, and may 
modify them if they do not. NMFS then publishes proposed specifications 
in the Federal Register, and after considering public comment, NMFS 
will publish final specifications in the Federal Register.
    The FMP was implemented in October 2002 and was originally managed 
under a target total allowable catch (TAC) and days-at-sea (DAS) system 
that allocated DAS equally across the fleet of limited access permitted 
vessels. Amendment 3 to the FMP removed trip limit restrictions, and 
replaced the target TAC and DAS allocation with a TAL in order to 
ensure consistency with the ACL and accountability measure requirements 
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act). Under Amendment 3, the 2011-2013 red crab 
specifications were set with an ABC equal to the long-term average 
landings of the directed red crab fishery (3.91 million lb, 1,775 mt), 
due to the lack of better scientific information on the red crab stock.

Proposed Specifications

Biological and Management Reference Points

    The biological and management reference points currently in the Red 
Crab FMP are used to determine whether overfishing is occurring or if 
the stock is overfished. However, these reference points for red crab 
do not currently meet Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 
criteria. As a result, there is insufficient information on the species 
to establish the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), 
or overfishing limit (OFL), and ABC is defined in terms of landings 
instead of total catch.

2014-2016 Catch Limits

    The Council's recommendation for the 2014-2016 red crab 
specifications are based on the results of the most recent peer-
reviewed assessment of the red crab fishery carried out by the Data 
Poor Stocks Working Group in 2009 and recommendations from the SSC. The 
proposed specifications include a TAL that is the same as levels 
currently in effect under Amendment 3. Based on this information and 
the SSC's recommendation, the Council believes the TAL is safely below 
an undetermined overfishing threshold and adequately accounts for 
scientific uncertainty.
    Recent landings, landing per unit of effort, port samples, discard 
information, and economic data suggest there has been no change in the 
size of the red crab stock since Amendment 3 was implemented in 2011. 
Therefore, the Council is proposing status quo specifications for the 
2014-2016 fishing years:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     mt       Million lb
------------------------------------------------------------------------
MSY...........................................        undetermined.
OFL...........................................        undetermined.
OY............................................        undetermined.
                                               -------------------------
ABC...........................................        1,775        3.91.
ACL...........................................        1,775        3.91.
TAL...........................................        1,775        3.91.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the NMFS 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab FMP, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    These proposed specifications are exempt from review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (RFA), which describes the economic impact this 
proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description 
of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this 
action are contained at the beginning of this preamble and in the 
SUMMARY. A summary of the analysis follows. A copy of this analysis is 
available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    All of the entities (fishing vessels) affected by this action are 
considered small entities under the Small Business Administration size 
standards for small shellfishing businesses (i.e., they have less than 
$5.0 million in annual gross sales). Therefore, there are no 
disproportionate effects on small versus large entities.
    This action does not introduce any new reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not duplicate, 
overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules.
    The participants in the commercial red crab fishery were defined as 
those vessels issued limited access red crab permits. Information about 
vessel ownership has been made available for all federal permit 
holders, which allows for the identification of business entities that 
comprise multiple fishing vessels. As of December 2013, there are two 
business entities and four vessels with limited access red crab permits 
actively operating in the red crab fishery. The total value of landings 
from all sources from 2010 to 2012 averaged $3.46 million, so all 
business entities in the harvested sector can be categorized as small 
businesses for the purpose of the RFA.

Commercial Fishery Impacts

    The proposed action will affect all business entities and four 
vessels in the directed red crab fishery. However, it is not expected 
to have any impact on the gross or average revenues for the fishery 
because it does not change the total allowable landings level, which is 
3.913 million lb (1,775 mt). This harvest level is substantially higher 
than average landings in recent years (3.097 million lb (1,404 mt) from 
fishing years 2010-2012), and is not expected to constrain landings 
unless markets for red crab substantially improve or major new markets 
develop.
    Information on costs in the fishery is not readily available and 
individual vessel profitability cannot be determined directly; 
therefore, expected changes in gross revenues were used as a proxy for 
profitability. For the four participating vessels in 2010-2012, average 
total sales were $865,272 per vessel per year. Because the proposed 
action would retain current harvest levels, it would not directly 
constrain or reduce the gross revenues per vessel, nor would it impact 
the profits of

[[Page 13609]]

individual vessels. Therefore, it is not necessary to analyze impacts 
according to the dependence of each vessel in the red crab fishery.

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

    Dated: March 5, 2014.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-05156 Filed 3-10-14; 8:45 am]
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