[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 65 (Friday, April 4, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18844-18845]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07612]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 130903775-4276-02]
RIN 0648-XD205


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, 
Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Phase 1 Reopening for the Directed 
Butterfish Fishery

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

ACTION: Temporary rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces that phase 1 of the directed butterfish fishery 
will be reopened to provide the opportunity for vessels targeting 
butterfish to fish with a higher possession limit. Vessels issued a 
longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit may fish for, catch, 
possess, or land unlimited amounts of butterfish when using greater 
than or equal to 3-inch (76-mm) mesh. The possession limit remains 
2,500-lb (1.13 mt) per trip or calendar day for vessels fishing less 
than 3-inch (76-mm) mesh. The incidental possession limit also remains 
unchanged at 600 lb (0.27 mt).

DATES: Effective April 4, 2014, through December 31, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aja Szumylo, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
978-281-9195, Fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations at 50 CFR part 648 govern the 
butterfish fishery. The regulations require specifications for maximum 
sustainable yield, initial optimum yield, allowable biological catch, 
annual catch limit (ACL), domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic 
annual processing (DAP), joint venture processing, and total allowable 
levels of foreign fishing for the species managed under the Atlantic 
Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). 
The procedures for setting the annual initial specifications are 
described in Sec.  648.22.
    Due to the increase in the butterfish DAH from previous years, the 
2013 MSB specifications implemented a 3-phase butterfish management 
system to allow for maximum utilization of the butterfish resource 
without exceeding the stock-wide ACL. In phase 1, there is no trip 
limit for vessels issued longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permits 
using mesh greater than or equal to 3 inches (76 mm), a 2,500-lb (1.13-
mt) trip limit for longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permits using 
mesh less than 3 inches (76 mm), and a trip limit of 600 lb (0.27 mt) 
for vessels issued squid/butterfish incidental catch permits. Once 
butterfish harvest reaches the trip hold reduction threshold to move 
from phase 1 to phase 2, the trip limit for longfin squid/butterfish 
moratorium permit holders will be reduced while in phase 2 to 5,000 lb 
(2.27 mt) for vessels using greater than or equal to 3-inch (7.62 cm) 
mesh. The limit remains unchanged at 2,500-lb (1.13 mt) per trip or 
calendar day for vessels issued a Federal longfin squid/butterfish 
moratorium permits and fishing with less than 3-inch (76-mm); and the 
incidental limit remains at 600 lb (0.27 mt). When we project 
butterfish harvest to reach the trip hold reduction thresholds to move 
from phase 2 to phase 3, the trip limit for all longfin squid/
butterfish moratorium permit holders will be reduced while in phase 3 
to 500 lb (0.23 mt) to avoid quota overages. For phases 2 and 3, the 
quota thresholds to reduce the trip limits will vary bimonthly 
throughout the year.
    The 2013 MSB specifications set the 2013 butterfish DAH at 2,570 mt 
(77 FR 3346, January 16, 2013). The regulations at Sec.  648.22(d) 
state that, if annual specifications for the MSB fisheries are not 
published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing 
year (January 1), the previous year's annual specifications, will 
remain in effect. On March 18, 2014 (79 FR 15046), NMFS announced a 
trip limit reduction for the butterfish fishery based on the phase 2 
trip limit reduction threshold for the 2013 butterfish quota.
    The final rule for 2014 MSB specifications and management measures 
is published elsewhere in this issue. The 2014 butterfish 
specifications were implemented upon publication of that action, and 
immediately superseded the 2013 specifications. The 2014 butterfish 
specifications increase the butterfish quota by 630 mt. Relative to the 
increased 2014 butterfish quota, only 45 percent of the butterfish 
quota has been harvested. Because the 2014 March/April phase 2 trip 
limit reduction threshold for butterfish is 57 percent, effective April 
4, 2014, the butterfish fishery can return to phase 1. Longfin squid/
butterfish moratorium permit holders using mesh sizes greater than 3 
inches (76 mm) may fish for,

[[Page 18845]]

catch, possess, or land unlimited amounts of butterfish until the phase 
2 trip limit reduction threshold is triggered. The trip limits for 
vessels issued longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permits fishing with 
mesh less than 3 inches (76 mm) will remain at 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) of 
butterfish per trip and the incidental trip limit will remain at 600 lb 
(0.27 mt). When butterfish harvest is projected to reach the phase 2 
trip limit reduction threshold specified for 2014, butterfish trip 
limits for longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit holders will be 
reduced to 5,000 lb (2.27 mt) for vessels fishing with mesh sizes 
greater than 3 inches (76 mm), through a subsequent action in the 
Federal Register.

Classification

    This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good 
cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the 
public interest. This action reopens the phase 1 of the directed 
butterfish fishery until the 2014 phase 2 trip limit reduction 
threshold is reached. If implementation of this reopening was delayed 
to solicit prior public comment, vessels would be prevented from 
fishing with a higher possession limit and may not be able to fully 
harvest the 2014 butterfish quota, thereby undermining the conservation 
objectives of the FMP. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period 
for the reason stated above.

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

    Dated: April 1, 2014.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-07612 Filed 4-3-14; 8:45 am]
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