[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 61 (Monday, March 31, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 18002-18003]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07120]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140304191-4191-01]
RIN 0648-BE04


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Skate 
Complex Fishery; Notice of a Control Date for the Purpose of Limiting 
Entry to the Skate Fishery; Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management 
Plan

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 New England Fishery Management Council, 
this notice announces a control date that may be applicable to limiting 
the number of participants in the skate fishery for uses other than 
bait. 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 skate fishery while the New England Fishery 
Management Council and NMFS consider if and how participation in the 
skate fishery should be controlled.

DATES: March 31, 2014, shall be known as the ``control date'' for the 
skate fishery for uses other than bait, and may be used as a reference 
date for future management measures related to the maintenance of a 
fishery with characteristics consistent with the Council's objectives 
and applicable Federal laws. Written comments must be received on or 
before April 30, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2014-0038, 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-2014-0038, 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 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, 
``Comments on Skate 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.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 2003, NMFS implemented the Northeast 
Skate Fishery Management Plan (Skate FMP) to manage a complex of seven 
skate species in the Northeast Region: Winter (Leucoraja ocellata), 
little (L. erinacea), thorny (Amblyraja radiata), barndoor (Dipturus 
laevis), smooth (Malacoraja senta), clearnose (Raja eglanteria), and 
rosette (L. garmani). The FMP established biological reference points 
and overfishing definitions for each species, and other management 
measures designed to rebuild species that were considered overfished 
(barndoor and thorny). Regulations for the skate fishery are found at 
50 CFR part 684, subpart O.
    There are two distinct skate fisheries managed under the FMP: A 
skate wing fishery, which harvest the pectoral fins of large skates 
(primarily winter skate)

[[Page 18003]]

for foreign and domestic food markets; and a bait skate fishery, which 
targets whole little skate to be sold primarily for bait in the 
American lobster fishery. A control date for the bait skate fishery was 
established on July 30, 2009 (74 FR 37978), in anticipation of the 
changes to the skate fishery as part of Amendment 3 to the Skate FMP. 
Control dates are used to establish a date after which those who enter 
a fishery may not be guaranteed access to that fishery if access to it 
is limited by regulation. Amendment 3 (75 FR 34049), was finalized on 
June 16, 2010, and established a rebuilding plan for smooth skate, 
implemented annual catch limits and accountability measures, and 
established new management measures for the bait skate fishery, 
including seasonal quotas and reduced possession limits.
    On February 11, 2014, the New England Fishery Management Council 
(Council) requested that NMFS publish this control date for the 
Northeast skate complex fishery. This new control date will apply to 
participants in the skate fishery that do not fish for bait skates, but 
for skate wings. This new control date will also cover all other uses 
of skate, including food and any potential future use of a skate 
product. The number of skate permits has fluctuated over time, and the 
Council is concerned that conditions in other fisheries may shift 
effort onto skates before a limited entry program can be established. 
This Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is intended to discourage 
new or speculative entry into the skate fishery while controlled access 
restrictions are considered by the Council. The date upon which this 
notice is published shall be known as the ``control date,'' which is 
intended to distinguish established participants from new or 
speculative entrants to the fishery.
    This notification establishes March 31, 2014, as the new control 
date for potential use in determining historical or traditional 
participation in skate fishery. Establishing a control date does not 
commit the Council or NMFS to develop any particular management regime 
or criteria for participation in this fishery. In the future, the 
Council 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 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 skate fishery.
    This notification and control date do not impose any legal 
obligations, requirements, or expectation.

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

    Dated: March 25, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-07120 Filed 3-28-14; 8:45 am]
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