[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 56 (Monday, March 24, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 15932]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-06421]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120710231-2473-01]
RIN 0648-BC33


Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern 
United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Atlantic Sea Scallop 
Fishery

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

ACTION: Proposed rule, withdrawal.

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SUMMARY: NMFS withdraws a proposed rule considering an emergency action 
that would have partially exempted the scallop fishery from fishing 
year 2012-related Georges Bank yellowtail flounder accountability 
measures. Because annual catch limit thresholds were not exceeded, 
there are no accountability measures from which to exempt the scallop 
fishery. As a result, the proposed rule is no longer necessary.

DATES: The proposed rule published on October 1, 2012 (77 FR 59883) is 
withdrawn as of March 24, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William Whitmore, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, phone (978) 281-9182, fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 1, 2012, NMFS published a 
proposed rule considering emergency action to partially exempt the 
scallop fishery from fishing year 2012 Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail 
flounder accountability measures (77 FR 59883). Under the proposed 
rule, an accountability measure would have been triggered if either: 
(1) The scallop fishery exceeded its GB yellowtail flounder sub-annual 
catch limit (ACL) by more than 50 percent; or (2) the initial scallop 
GB yellowtail flounder sub-ACL was exceeded and the total GB yellowtail 
flounder fishery ACL was exceeded.
    NMFS previously revised both the groundfish and scallop GB 
yellowtail flounder sub-ACLs for the 2012 fishing year (77 FR 41704; 
July 16, 2012). The revisions were based on updated projections of GB 
yellowtail flounder catch by the scallop fleet. As a result, the 
scallop fishery GB yellowtail flounder sub-ACL was substantially 
reduced from 307.5 mt to 156.9 mt, while the groundfish fishery's sub-
ACL was increased from 217.7 mt to 368.3 mt.
    As a result of this mid-year change, accountability measures for 
the scallop fleet could have been triggered at a much lower level of 
catch than originally anticipated at the start of the 2012 scallop 
fishing year. Recognizing this, the New England Fishery Management 
Council requested that NMFS utilize emergency rulemaking authority to 
exempt the scallop fishery from any accountability measure for catch 
below the initial scallop sub-ACL of 307.5 mt. The rationale for the 
proposed rule was that uncertainties remained about the projected 
yellowtail flounder catch, there was concern that the scallop fishery 
should not be subjected to accountability measures based on a 
significant decrease of the sub-ACL midway through the fishing year, 
and a backstop accountability measure would still take effect, should 
the entire ACL be exceeded.
    Neither of the thresholds that would have resulted in the need to 
exempt the scallop fishery from accountability measures were met. In 
fishing year 2012, the scallop fishery harvested 164 mt of its 156.9 mt 
GB yellowtail flounder sub-ACL (or 104 percent of its allocation), but 
it did not exceed its initial GB yellowtail flounder sub-ACL of 307.5 
mt by more than 50 percent as was the trigger. Further, only 70.3 
percent of the entire GB yellowtail flounder ACL was harvested. Because 
neither of the accountability measure triggers were met, there is no 
need to partially exempt the scallop fishery from fishing year 2012 
accountability measures, and we are withdrawing the proposed rule.

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

    Dated: March 18, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-06421 Filed 3-21-14; 8:45 am]
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