[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 90 (Friday, May 9, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26685-26690]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-10710]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 140403309-4309-01]
RIN 0648-BE16


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational 
Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass 
Fisheries; Fishing Year 2014

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes management measures for the 2014 summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries. The 
implementing regulations for these fisheries require NMFS to publish 
recreational measures for the fishing year and to provide an 
opportunity for public comment. The intent of these measures is to 
prevent overfishing of the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass 
resources.

DATES: Comments must be received by 5 p.m. local time, on May 27, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified NOAA-
NMFS-2014-0047, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0047, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail and Hand Delivery: John K. Bullard, Regional 
Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 
Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the 
envelope: ``Comments on 2014 FSB Recreational Measures.''
    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 publicly 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 Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (SEA/IRFA) and other supporting 
documents for the recreational harvest measures are available from Dr. 
Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901. 
The recreational harvest measures document is also accessible via the 
Internet at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moira Kelly, Fishery Policy Analyst, 
(978) 281-9218.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

General Background

    The summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are managed 
cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and 
Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-
Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine 
Fisheries Commission, in consultation with the New England and South 
Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. The management units specified in 
the FMP include summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in U.S. waters 
of the Atlantic Ocean from the southern border of North Carolina 
northward to the U.S./Canada border, and scup (Stenotomus chrysops) and 
black sea bass (Centropristis striata) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic 
Ocean from 35 E. 13.3' N. lat. (the latitude of Cape Hatteras 
Lighthouse, Buxton, North Carolina) northward to the U.S./Canada 
border.
    The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 
16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations implementing the FMP appear at 50 
CFR part 648, subparts A (general provisions), G (summer flounder), H 
(scup), and I (black sea bass). General regulations governing fisheries 
of the Northeastern U.S. also appear at 50 CFR part 648. States manage 
these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, 
under the Commission's plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea 
bass. The applicable species-specific Federal regulations govern 
vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer 
flounder, scup, or

[[Page 26686]]

black sea bass Federal charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where 
they fish.

Recreational Management Measures Background

    The Council process for devising recreational management measures 
to recommend to NMFS for rulemaking is generically described in the 
following section. All meetings are open to the public and the 
materials utilized during such meetings, as well as any documents 
created to summarize the meeting results, are public information and 
typically posted on the Council's Web site (www.mafmc.org) or are 
available from the Council by request. Extensive background on the 2014 
recreational management measures recommendation process is therefore 
not repeated in this preamble.
    The FMP established monitoring committees for the three fisheries, 
consisting of representatives from the Commission, the Council, state 
marine fishery agency representatives from Massachusetts to North 
Carolina, and NMFS. The FMP's implementing regulations require the 
monitoring committees to review scientific and other relevant 
information annually and to recommend management measures necessary to 
constrain landings within the recreational harvest limits established 
for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries for the 
upcoming fishing year. The FMP limits the choices for the types of 
measures to minimum fish size, possession limit, and fishing season.
    The Council's Demersal Species Committee and the Commission's 
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board then 
consider the monitoring committees' recommendations and any public 
comment in making their recommendations to the Council and the 
Commission, respectively. The Council reviews the recommendations of 
the Demersal Species Committee, makes its own recommendations, and 
forwards them to NMFS for review. The Commission similarly adopts 
recommendations for the states. NMFS is required to review the 
Council's recommendations to ensure that they are consistent with the 
targets specified for each species in the FMP and all applicable laws 
and Executive Orders before ultimately implementing measures for 
Federal waters.
    In this rule, NMFS proposes management measures for the 2014 summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational fisheries. All minimum 
fish sizes discussed hereafter are total length measurements of the 
fish, i.e., the straight-line distance from the tip of the snout to the 
end of the tail while the fish is lying on its side. For black sea 
bass, total length measurement does not include the caudal fin tendril. 
All possession limits discussed below are per person.

Proposed 2014 Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is proposing the following measures that would apply in the 
Federal waters of the EEZ and to all federally permitted party/charter 
vessels with applicable summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass 
permits regardless of where they fish for the 2014 recreational summer 
flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. For summer flounder, use 
of state-by-state or regional conservation equivalency measures, which 
are the status quo measures; for scup, a 9-inch (25.4-cm) minimum fish 
size, a 30-fish per person possession limit, and an open season of 
January 1 through December 31; and, for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch 
(31.8-cm) minimum fish size, a 15-fish per person possession limit for 
open seasons of May 19 through September 18 and October 18 through 
December 31. NMFS may implement more restrictive black sea bass 
measures, as recommended by the Council (i.e., a 12.5-inch (31.8-cm) 
minimum fish size, a 5-fish per person possession limit, and an open 
season of June 1-September 5), for Federal waters if the Commission is 
unable to develop and implement state-waters measures that, when paired 
with the Council's recommended measures, provide the necessary 
conservation to ensure the 2014 recreational harvest limit will not be 
exceeded. More detail on these proposed measures is provided in the 
following sections.

Summer Flounder Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS proposes to implement the use of conservation equivalency to 
manage the 2014 summer flounder recreational fishery. The 2014 
recreational harvest limit for summer flounder is proposed to be 7.01 
million lb (3,179 mt), as published in the proposed rule to implement 
an adjustment to the 2014 summer flounder specifications based on an 
updated stock assessment. (March 31, 2014; 79 FR 17995). Projected 
landings for 2013 are approximately 7.11 million lb (3,225 mt), which 
is above the proposed recreational harvest limit for 2014. As a result, 
the 2014 recreational landings must be reduced relative to 2013 to 
prevent the recreational harvest limit from being exceeded. The Council 
and Commission have recommended the use of conservation equivalency to 
manage the 2014 summer flounder recreational fishery.
    NMFS implemented Framework Adjustment 2 to the FMP on July 29, 2001 
(66 FR 36208), to permit the use of conservation equivalency to manage 
the recreational summer flounder fishery. Conservation equivalency 
allows each state to establish its own recreational management measures 
(possession limits, minimum fish size, and fishing seasons) to achieve 
its state harvest limit partitioned by the Commission from the 
coastwide recreational harvest limit, as long as the combined effect of 
all of the states' management measures achieves the same level of 
conservation as would Federal coastwide measures. Framework Adjustment 
6 (July 26, 2006; 71 FR 42315) allowed states to form regions for 
conservation equivalency in order to minimize differences in 
regulations for individuals fishing in adjacent waters.
    The Council and Board annually recommend that either state- or 
region-specific recreational measures be developed (conservation 
equivalency) or coastwide management measures be implemented to ensure 
that the recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded. Even when the 
Council and Board recommend conservation equivalency, the Council must 
specify a set of coastwide measures that would apply if conservation 
equivalency is not approved for use in Federal waters.
    When conservation equivalency is recommended, and following 
confirmation that the proposed state or regional measures developed 
through the Commission's technical and policy review processes achieve 
conservation equivalency, NMFS may waive the permit condition found at 
Sec.  648.4(b), which requires Federal permit holders to comply with 
the more restrictive management measures when state and Federal 
measures differ. In such a situation, federally permitted summer 
flounder charter/party permit holders and individuals fishing for 
summer flounder in the EEZ would then be subject to the recreational 
fishing measures implemented by the state in which they land summer 
flounder, rather than the coastwide measures.
    In addition, the Council and the Board must recommend precautionary 
default measures when recommending conservation equivalency. The 
Commission would require adoption of the precautionary default measures 
by any state that either does not submit a summer flounder management 
proposal to the Commission's Summer Flounder Technical Committee, or 
that submits measures that would exceed the

[[Page 26687]]

Commission-specified harvest limit for that state.
    Much of the conservation equivalency measures development process 
happens at both the Commission and individual state level. The 
selection of appropriate data and analytic techniques for technical 
review of potential state conservation equivalent measures and the 
process by which the Commission evaluates and recommends proposed 
conservation equivalent measures is wholly a function of the Commission 
and its individual member states. Individuals seeking information 
regarding the process to develop specific state measure or the 
Commission process for technical evaluation of proposed measures should 
contact the marine fisheries agency in the state of interest, the 
Commission, or both.
    The Commission has implemented an addendum to its Summer Flounder 
FMP to implement regional conservation equivalency for fishing year 
2014. The Commission adopted the following regions: (1) Massachusetts; 
(2) Rhode Island; (3) Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey; (4) 
Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia; and (5) North Carolina. These regions 
are intended to minimize differences in regulations for anglers fishing 
in the same waters, while allowing for differences in fish size and 
availability for each state, and to address New York's long-standing 
concerns regarding the equity of the 1998 state allocations. Each state 
within a region is required by the Council and Commission FMPs to have 
identical measures. In order to provide the maximum amount of 
flexibility and to continue to adequately address the state-by-state 
differences in fish availability, each state in a region is required to 
establish fishing seasons of the same length, identical minimum fish 
sizes, and identical possession limits. The Commission will need to 
certify that these measures, in combination, are the conservation 
equivalent of coastwide measures that would be expected to result in 
the recreational harvest limit being achieved, but not exceeded. More 
information on this addendum is available from the Commission 
(www.asmfc.org).
    Once the regions select their final 2014 summer flounder management 
measures through their respective development, analytical, and review 
processes and submit them to the Commission, the Commission will 
conduct further review and evaluation of the submitted proposals, 
ultimately notifying NMFS as to which proposals have been approved or 
disapproved. NMFS has no overarching authority in the development of 
state or Commission management measures, but is an equal participant 
along with all the member states in the review process. NMFS retains 
the final authority either to approve or to disapprove the use of 
conservation equivalency in place of the coastwide measures in Federal 
waters, and will publish its determination as a final rule in the 
Federal Register to establish the 2014 recreational measures for these 
fisheries.
    States that do not submit conservation equivalency proposals, or 
whose proposals are disapproved by the Commission, will be required by 
the Commission to adopt the precautionary default measures. In the case 
of states that are initially assigned precautionary default measures, 
but subsequently receive Commission approval of revised state measures, 
NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a waiver 
of the permit condition at Sec.  648.4(b).
    The 2014 precautionary default measures recommended by the Council 
and Board are for a 20.0-inch (50.8-cm) minimum fish size, a possession 
limit of two fish, and an open season of May 1 through September 30, 
2014.
    In this action, NMFS proposes to implement conservation equivalency 
with a precautionary default backstop, as previously outlined, for 
states that either fail to submit conservation equivalent measures or 
whose measures are not approved by the Commission. NMFS proposes the 
alternative of coastwide measures (18-inch (45.7-cm) minimum size, 4-
fish possession limit, May 1-September 30 open fishing season), if 
conservation equivalency is not approved in the final rule. The 
coastwide measures would be waived if conservation equivalency is 
approved in the final rule.

Scup Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is proposing to implement the Council and Commission's 
recommended scup recreational management measures for 2014 in Federal 
waters. The 2014 scup recreational harvest limit is 7.03 million lb 
(3,188 mt), as published in the final rule (December 31, 2012; 77 FR 
76942). Estimated 2013 scup recreational landings are 5.36 million lb 
(2,431 mt), well below the 2014 recreational harvest limit, therefore, 
no reduction in landings is needed. The Council and Commission's 
recommended measures for the 2014 scup recreational fishery are for a 
9-in (22.9-cm) minimum fish size, a 30-fish per person possession 
limit, and an open season of January 1 through December 31. These 
measures are intended to promote an increase in recreational scup 
fishing in order to achieve the recreational harvest limit.

Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures

    NMFS is proposing to implement the Council's recommended 
recreational management measures to reduce landings for black sea bass. 
The proposed 2014 black sea bass recreational harvest limit is 2.26 
million lb (1,025 mt). The 2013 black sea bass recreational landings 
limit was the same, and the projected landings at the time that the 
Council and Board met to recommend 2014 measures were 2.46 million lb 
(1,115 mt). This would require a 7-percent reduction in 2014 landings 
relative to 2013. More recent data indicate that the 2013 recreational 
black sea bass landings were approximately 2.33 million lb (1,058 mt), 
or 3.2 percent over the 2013 and 2014 recreational harvest limits.
    In 2012, recreational black sea bass catch exceeded the 2012 annual 
catch limit of 2.52 million lb (1,143 mt) by 129 percent, with total 
catch estimates approximately 5.78 million lb (2,620 mt). As a result, 
the recently implemented recreational accountability measure needs to 
be addressed for the 2014 fishing year. The Council's recreational 
accountability measure system requires, for stocks in a healthy 
condition such as black sea bass, that the Council take into account 
the overage and the performance of the management measures when setting 
a subsequent year's management measures. The Council contends that 
utilizing the process that they have always used (i.e., comparing last 
year's landings to this year's harvest limit) is in compliance with the 
accountability measure.
    However, NMFS disagrees with the Council's interpretation. The 
recreational accountability measures were revised last year in response 
to a pending pound-for-pound payback that would have otherwise been 
implemented for this year. In the Omnibus Recreational Accountability 
Measures Amendment (December 19, 2013; 78 FR 76759), the accountability 
measure was described as resulting in the Council doing something 
different than what had previously been done if triggered. That is, the 
accountability measure requires that the Council take the overage and 
the poor performance of the management measures ``into account.'' This 
may result in the subsequent year's management measures being ``less 
liberal, or more restrictive than otherwise would have been, had the 
overage not occurred.''

[[Page 26688]]

This could also mean that the process by which the management measures 
are set (updated data, more precise estimates of catch per angler per 
day, etc.) has been improved upon as a result of the poor performance 
of the management measures, or other decisions or improvements that 
allow the Council to make a more informed decision and implement 
management measures with more confidence in their performance. The 
Council has not sufficiently demonstrated how the ``performance 
review'' included the overage from 2012 when setting the 2014 
management measures. It appears that the Council's process was the same 
as it would have been had the overage not occurred and the 
accountability measure not been triggered.
    Nevertheless, because the reduction in recreational black sea bass 
landings required from 2013 to 2014 may actually be only 3.2 percent 
based on more recent estimates, NMFS has preliminarily determined that 
the Council's proposed measures would comply with the accountability 
measures. Given the magnitude of the 2012 overage and the additional 
overage in 2013, a 7-percent reduction has a higher likelihood of 
preventing the recreational harvest limit from being exceeded again.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is 
consistent with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP, 
other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, 
subject to further consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The Council prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which is included in the Supplemental 
EA and supplemented by information contained in the preamble to this 
proposed rule. The IRFA 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 section of the preamble and in 
the SUMMARY of this proposed rule. A summary of the IRFA follows. A 
copy of this analysis is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    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.

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

    The proposed recreational management measures could affect any 
recreational angler who fishes for summer flounder, scup, or black sea 
bass in the EEZ or on a party/charter vessel issued a Federal permit 
for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass. However, the only 
regulated entities affected by this action are party/charter vessels 
issued a Federal permit for summer flounder, scup, and/or black sea 
bass, and so the IRFA focuses upon the expected impacts on this segment 
of the affected public. These vessels are all considered small entities 
for the purposes of the RFA, i.e., businesses in the recreational 
fishery with gross revenues of up to $7.0 million. These small entities 
can be specifically identified in the Federal vessel permit database 
and would be impacted by the recreational measures, regardless of 
whether they fish in Federal or state waters. Although fishing 
opportunities by individual recreational anglers may be impacted by 
this action, they are not considered small entities under the RFA.
    The Council estimated that the proposed measures could affect any 
of the 777 vessels possessing a Federal charter/party permit for summer 
flounder, scup, and/or black sea bass in 2012, the most recent year for 
which complete permit data are available. However, only 346 vessels 
reported active participation in the 2012 recreational summer flounder, 
scup, and/or black sea bass fisheries. Further, it was determined, 
based on improved ownership information, that there were 326 unique 
fishing business entities. The vast majority of these fishing 
businesses were solely engaged in for-hire fishing, but some also 
earned revenue from shellfish and/or finfish fishing. The highest 
percentage of annual gross revenues though for all 326 fishing 
businesses was from for-hire fishing. In other words, the revenue from 
for-hire fishing was greater than the revenue from shellfishing and the 
revenue from finfish fishing for all 326 business entities. Therefore, 
all of the affected business entities are classified as for-hire 
business entities in this analysis.
    According to the SBA size standards small for-hire fishing 
businesses are defined as firms with annual receipts of up to $7 
million. Average annual gross revenue estimates calculated from the 
most recent 3 years (2010-2012) indicate that none of the 326 business 
entities earned more than $2.4 million from all of their fishing 
activities (for-hire, shellfish, and finfish). Therefore, all of the 
affected business entities are considered ``small'' by the SBA size 
standards; thus, this action will not disproportionately affect small 
versus large entities.

Economic Impacts of the Proposed Action Compared to Significant Non-
Selected Alternatives

    The IRFA identified three alternatives in this action: The no-
action alternative; the status quo alternative; and the preferred 
alternative. The no-action alternative (i.e., maintenance of the 
regulations as codified) is: (1) For summer flounder, coastwide 
measures of a 18-inch (45.7-cm) minimum fish size, a 4-fish possession 
limit, and an open season from May 1 through September 30; (2) for 
scup, a 10-inch (25.4-cm) minimum fish size, a 30-fish possession 
limit, and an open season of January 1 through December 31; and (3) for 
black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.8-cm) minimum size, a 20-fish 
possession limit for open seasons of May 19 through October 14 and 
November 1 through December 31. The status quo alternative is: (1) For 
summer flounder, conservation equivalency, with precautionary default 
measures of a 20-inch (50.8-cm) minimum fish size, a 2-fish possession 
limit, and an open season of May 1 through September 30; and (2) for 
scup and black sea bass, the same as the no action alternative. The 
proposed alternative is: (1) For summer flounder, the same as the 
status quo alternative; (2) for scup, a 9-inch (22.9-cm) minimum fish 
size, a 30-fish possession limit, and an open season of January 1 
through December 31; and (3) for black sea bass, a 12.5-inch (31.8-cm) 
minimum fish size, and a 15-fish possession limit for open seasons of 
May 19 through September 18 and October 18 through December 31.
    The impacts of the alternatives on small entities (i.e., federally 
permitted party/charter vessels in each state in the Northeast region) 
were analyzed, assessing potential changes in gross revenues for all 18 
combinations of alternatives proposed. Although NMFS's RFA guidance 
recommends assessing changes in profitability as a result of proposed 
measures, the quantitative impacts were instead evaluated using 
expected changes in party/charter vessel revenues as a proxy for 
profitability. This is because reliable cost and revenue information is 
not available for charter/party vessels at this time. Without reliable 
cost and revenue data, profits cannot be discriminated

[[Page 26689]]

from gross revenues. As reliable cost data become available, impacts to 
profitability can be more accurately forecast. Similarly, changes to 
long-term solvency were not assessed, due both to the absence of cost 
data and because the recreational management measures change annually 
according to the specification-setting process. Effects of the various 
management measures were analyzed by employing quantitative approaches, 
to the extent possible. Where quantitative data were not available, 
qualitative analyses were utilized.
    The proposed action is as or only slightly more restrictive than 
the other alternatives considered, and provides the same or slightly 
less opportunity for recreational fishing. It is expected that the 
affected regulated entities will be able to maximize fishery-related 
revenue under the preferred alternative relative to the non-preferred 
alternatives, while maintaining long-term fishery health. The preferred 
alternative for scup would decrease the minimum size, and, thus would 
provide a slight economic benefit. The preferred alternative for black 
sea bass is more restrictive than the status quo, but it would 
constrain recreational landings to the appropriate level and maintain 
long-term fishery stability. In contrast, the non-preferred 
alternatives for scup would result in a larger minimum size, and the 
non-preferred alternatives for black sea bass that would not constrain 
recreational landings to the appropriate level.
    For summer flounder, the preferred alternative for conservation 
equivalency is expected to maintain fishing opportunities because, 
under the Commission's plan, almost all states are authorized to 
maintain increase landings in 2014. The Commission has also proposed an 
addendum to implement 2014 recreational fishing rules for summer 
flounder that would result in more consistent regulations for anglers 
in adjacent states, minimizing confusion and resulting in more 
equitable fishing opportunities.
    NMFS did not consider any alternatives that would provide 
additional fishing opportunities beyond what was recommended by the 
Council because any such alternative would increase the risk of the 
fishery exceeding the recreational harvest limit, which could result in 
overfishing the stock and/or exceeding the annual catch limit. This 
would be contrary to the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act.
    There are no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements contained 
in any of the alternatives considered for this action.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: May 6, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. Section 648.107 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.107  Conservation equivalent measures for the summer flounder 
fishery.

    (a) The Regional Administrator has determined that the recreational 
fishing measures proposed to be implemented by the states of Maine 
through North Carolina for 2014 are the conservation equivalent of the 
season, minimum size, and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  
648.102, 648.103, and 648.105(a), respectively. This determination is 
based on a recommendation from the Summer Flounder Board of the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
    (1) Federally permitted vessels subject to the recreational fishing 
measures of this part, and other recreational fishing vessels 
harvesting summer flounder in or from the EEZ and subject to the 
recreational fishing measures of this part, landing summer flounder in 
a state whose fishery management measures are determined by the 
Regional Administrator to be conservation equivalent shall not be 
subject to the more restrictive Federal measures, pursuant to the 
provisions of Sec.  648.4(b). Those vessels shall be subject to the 
recreational fishing measures implemented by the state in which they 
land.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (b) Federally permitted vessels subject to the recreational fishing 
measures of this part, and other recreational fishing vessels 
registered in states and subject to the recreational fishing measures 
of this part, whose fishery management measures are not determined by 
the Regional Administrator to be the conservation equivalent of the 
season, minimum size and possession limit prescribed in Sec. Sec.  
648.102, 648.103(b), and 648.105(a), respectively, due to the lack of, 
or the reversal of, a conservation equivalent recommendation from the 
Summer Flounder Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission shall be subject to the following precautionary default 
measures: Season--May 1 through September 30; minimum size--20 inches 
(50.8 cm); and possession limit--two fish.
0
3. In Sec.  648.126, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.126  Scup minimum fish sizes.

* * * * *
    (b) Party/Charter permitted vessels and recreational fishery 
participants. The minimum size for scup is 9 inches (22.9 cm) TL for 
all vessels that do not have a moratorium permit, or for party and 
charter vessels that are issued a moratorium permit but are fishing 
with passengers for hire, or carrying more than three crew members if a 
charter boat, or more than five crew members if a party boat.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  648.145, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.145  Black sea bass possession limit.

    (a) During the recreational fishing season specified at Sec.  
648.146, no person shall possess more than 15 black sea bass in, or 
harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of 
a fishing vessel issued a black sea bass moratorium permit, or is 
issued a black sea bass dealer permit. Persons aboard a commercial 
vessel that is not eligible for a black sea bass moratorium permit may 
not retain more than 15 black sea bass during the recreational fishing 
season specified at Sec.  648.146. The owner, operator, and crew of a 
charter or party boat issued a black sea bass moratorium permit are 
subject to the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or 
when carrying more than five crew members for a party boat, or more 
than three crew members for a charter boat. This possession limit may 
be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  648.142.
* * * * *
0
5. Section 648.146 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  648.146  Black sea bass recreational fishing season.

    Vessels that are not eligible for a moratorium permit under Sec.  
648.4(a)(7), and fishermen subject to the possession limit specified in 
Sec.  648.145(a), may only possess black sea bass from May 19 through 
September 18, and October 18 through December 31, unless this time

[[Page 26690]]

period is adjusted pursuant to the procedures in Sec.  648.142.

[FR Doc. 2014-10710 Filed 5-8-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P