[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 83 (Wednesday, April 30, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24356-24358]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-09893]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140106010-4358-02]
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: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues final specifications for the 2014-2016 Atlantic 
deep-sea red crab fishery, including an annual catch limit and total 
allowable landings. This action establishes 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: The final specifications for the 2014-2016 Atlantic deep-sea red 
crab fishery are effective May 30, 2014, through February 28, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the specifications document, including the 
Amendment 3 Environmental Assessment and Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (EA/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. Regulations implementing the 
Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP) appear at 50 
CFR part 648, subparts A and M. The regulations requiring 
specifications are found at Sec.  648.260.
    The FMP requires the Council to recommend the annual catch limit 
(ACL) and total allowable landings (TAL) that will control the fishing

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mortality rate (F) for up to three years. 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 assure that they achieve the FMPs objectives, and 
may modify them if they do not. NMFS then publishes proposed 
specifications based on the recommendations in the Federal Register, 
and after considering public comment, NMFS publishes final 
specifications in the Federal Register. A proposed rule for this action 
published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2014 (79 FR 13607), and 
comments were accepted through March 26, 2014.
    The FMP was first 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.

Final Specifications

Biological and Management Reference Points

    Deep-sea red crab is a data poor stock. Estimates of a sustainable 
yield are based on the average catch in the fishery. Because discards 
in the red crab fishery are poorly estimated, the relationship between 
catch and landings is somewhat uncertain, so average landings are used, 
adjusted by fishery-independent estimates of the degree of stock 
depletion since inception of the fishery. This estimate, however, 
cannot be used for determining MSY or another OFL proxy, so OFL was 
determined to be unknown. There has not been an update to the red crab 
assessment and the MSY and the OFL remain unknown.

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. 
Other information considered included recent landings, landings per 
unit of effort, port samples, discard information, and economic data 
that suggest there has been no change in the size of the red crab stock 
since Amendment 3 was implemented in 2011.
    In the absence of a new stock assessment or other information, on 
August 21, 2013, the Council's SSC recommended the status quo ABC for 
fishing years 2014-2016 of 1,775 mt for the directed fishery, which is 
equal to the long-term average landings of the directed red crab 
fishery for fishing years 2011-2013. The SSC concluded that the 
historical landings of male red crab and historical discarding 
practices appear to be sustainable and that an interim ABC based on 
long-term average landings is safely below an undetermined overfishing 
threshold and adequately accounts for scientific uncertainty. The 
Council agreed with this conclusion and recommended a TAL at the same 
levels as currently in effect under Amendment 3. Therefore, the 
specifications for the 2014-2016 fishing years are as follows:

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

Comments and Responses

    The public comment period for the proposed rule ended on March 26, 
2014. No comments were received on the proposed rule.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is 
consistent with the Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab FMP, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    This final rule does not duplicate, conflict, or overlap with any 
existing Federal rules.
    The FRFA included in this final rule was prepared pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 604(a), and incorporates the IRFA and a summary of analyses 
completed to support the action. A public copy of the EA/RIR/IRFA is 
available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    The preamble to the proposed rule included a detailed summary of 
the analyses contained in the IRFA, and that discussion is not repeated 
here.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Statement of Objective and Need

    A description of the reasons why this action is being taken, and 
the objectives of and legal basis for this final rule are contained in 
the preambles to the proposed rule and this final rule and are not 
repeated here.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised in Public Comments

    No comments were submitted on the proposed rule. Therefore, none 
were specific to the IRFA or to the economic impacts of the proposed 
rule more generally.

Description and Estimate of Number of Small Entities to Which the Rule 
Will Apply

    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.
    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 harvesting sector can be categorized as small 
businesses for the purpose of the RFA.

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Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    No additional reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance 
requirements are included in this final rule.

Description of the Steps Taken To Minimize Economic Impact on Small 
Entities

    Specification of commercial quota is constrained by the 
conservation objectives of the FMP, under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 2014-2016 specifications will affect all 
business entities and four vessels in the directed red crab fishery. 
However, this rule 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 remains 3.91 million lb (1,775 mt). 
This harvest level is substantially higher than average landings in 
recent years (3.10 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 this action will 
retain current harvest levels, it will not directly constrain or reduce 
the gross revenues per vessel, nor will it impact the profits of 
individual vessels. Therefore, it is not necessary to analyze impacts 
according to the dependence of each vessel in the red crab fishery.

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 
Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for 
which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish 
one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, 
and shall designate such publications as ``small entity compliance 
guides.'' The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is 
required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of 
this rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide will be sent 
to all holders of Federal permits issued for the Atlantic deep-sea red 
crab fishery.
    In addition, copies of this final rule and guide (i.e., permit 
holder letter) are available upon request, and posted on the Greater 
Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office's Web site at www.nero.noaa.gov.

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

    Dated: April 24, 2014.
Eileen Sobeck,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-09893 Filed 4-29-14; 8:45 am]
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