[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 48 (Tuesday, March 12, 2013)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05637]
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 648
[Docket No. 130103002-3185-01]
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Proposed 2013-2015
Spiny Dogfish Fishery Specifications
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: This rule proposes catch limits, commercial quotas, and
possession limits for the spiny dogfish fishery for the 2013-2015
fishing years. The proposed action was developed by the Mid-Atlantic
and New England Fishery Management Councils pursuant to the fishery
specification requirements of the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management
Plan. The proposed management measures are supported by the best
available scientific information and reflect recent increases in spiny
dogfish biomass. The proposed action is expected to result in positive
economic impacts for the spiny dogfish fishery while maintaining the
conservation objectives of the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan.
DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 27, 2013.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0044,
by any one of the following methods:
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal. Go to
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0044, click the
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or
attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to John Bullard, Regional
Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Tobey Curtis.
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 publically 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 specifications document, including the Environmental
Assessment and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (EA/IRFA) and
other supporting documents for the specifications, are available from
Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council, Suite 201, 800 N. State Street, Dover, DE 19901.
The specifications document is also accessible via the Internet at:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tobey Curtis, Fishery Policy Analyst,
(978) 281-9273; fax: (978) 281-9135.
In 1998, NMFS declared Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias)
overfished. Consequently, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) required NMFS to prepare measures
to end overfishing and rebuild the spiny
dogfish stock. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and
the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) developed a joint
fishery management plan (FMP), with the MAFMC designated as the
administrative lead. The FMP was implemented in 2000, and the spiny
dogfish stock was declared to be successfully rebuilt in 2010.
The regulations implementing the FMP at 50 CFR part 648, subpart L,
outline the process for specifying an annual catch limit (ACL),
commercial quota, possession limit, and other management measures for a
period of 1-5 years. The MAFMC's Scientific and Statistical Committee
(SSC) reviews the best available information on the status of the spiny
dogfish population and recommends acceptable biological catch (ABC)
levels. This recommendation is then used as the basis for catch limits
and other management measures developed by the MAFMC's Spiny Dogfish
Monitoring Committee and Joint Spiny Dogfish Committee (which includes
members of the NEFMC). The MAFMC and NEFMC then review the
recommendations of the committees and make their specification
recommendations to NMFS. NMFS reviews those recommendations, and may
modify them if necessary to ensure that they are consistent with the
FMP and other applicable law. NMFS then publishes proposed measures for
Spiny Dogfish Stock Status Update
In September 2012, the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center
updated the spiny dogfish stock status, using the most recent catch and
biomass estimates from the 2012 spring trawl survey. Updated estimates
indicate that the female spawning stock biomass (SSB) for 2012 was
475.634 million lb (215,744 mt), about 35 percent above the target
maximum sustainable yield (MSY) biomass proxy (SSBMAX) of
351 million lb (159,288 mt). The 2011 fishing mortality rate (F)
estimate for the stock was 0.114, well below the overfishing threshold
(FMSY) of 0.2439. Therefore, the spiny dogfish stock is not
currently overfished or experiencing overfishing. However, while
recruitment has increased in recent years, poor pup production from
1997-2003 is projected to result in declines in SSB between
approximately 2014-2020, when the pups from the 1997-2003 years recruit
to the spawning stock.
The MAFMC's SSC subsequently recommended new acceptable biological
catch (ABC) levels for spiny dogfish for the 2013-2015 fishing years.
The ABC recommendations were based on an overfishing level of median
catch at the FMSY proxy, and the MAFMC's risk policy for a
Level 3 assessment (40-percent probability of overfishing). The
resulting spiny dogfish ABCs are 54.474 million lb (24,709 mt) for
2013, 55.455 million lb (25,154 mt) for 2014, and 55.241 million lb
(25,057 mt) for 2015.
The Spiny Dogfish Monitoring Committee and the Atlantic State
Marine Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Spiny Dogfish Technical
Committee met in September 2012 to determine the resulting
specifications following the FMP's process. To calculate the commercial
quota for each year, deductions were made from the ABCs to account for
projected Canadian landings (179,000 lb (81 mt)), management
uncertainty (3.99 percent of the ACL), U.S. discards (11.698 million lb
(5,306 mt)), and U.S. recreational harvest (58,000 lb (26 mt)). The
final recommended ACLs and commercial quotas are shown in Table 1. The
proposed commercial quotas represent 14-17-percent increases from the
status quo commercial quota (35.694 million lb (16,191 mt)).
The Councils also recommended an increase in the spiny dogfish
possession limit from 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) per
trip in each year (Table 1). The possession limit increase is projected
to help increase trip level revenues, and reduce the potential for
under-harvesting the available quota. The Commission has adopted
identical management measures in state waters for 2013.
Table 1--Summary of Proposed Spiny Dogfish ACLS, Commercial Quotas, and Possession Limits for the 2013-2015
ACL Commercial quota Possession limit
M lb mt M lb mt lb kg
2013...................................................... 54.295 24,628 40.842 18,526 4,000 1,814
2014...................................................... 55.277 25,073 41.784 18,953 4,000 1,814
2015...................................................... 55.063 24,976 41.578 18,859 4,000 1,814
As currently specified in the FMP, quota period 1 (May 1 through
October 31) would be allocated 57.9 percent of the commercial quota,
and quota period 2 (November 1 through April 30) would be allocated
42.1 percent of the commercial quota. However, the Councils have
approved Amendment 3 to the FMP, which would eliminate the seasonal
allocation of the commercial quota. Upon implementation of Amendment 3
(which has not yet been submitted to NMFS, but is expected early in the
2013 fishing year), if approved, the commercial quota would only be
monitored on an annual, coastwide basis, thereby reducing potential
conflicts with the Commission's management of spiny dogfish.
Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the
NMFS Assistant Administrator has made a preliminary determination that
this proposed rule is consistent with the Spiny Dogfish FMP, other
provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
The comment period for this proposed rule (15 days) is shorter than
that normally reserved for specifications in order to ensure that the
final rule can become effective for the beginning of the fishing year
on May 1, 2013.
This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for
the purpose of E.O. 12866.
The MAFMC prepared an IRFA, as required by section 603 of the
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). 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 MAFMC (see ADDRESSES).
This rule will impact fishing vessels, including commercial fishing
entities. For the purposes of analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility
Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) considers commercial
fishing entities (NAICS code 114111) to be small entities if they have
no more than $4 million in annual sales, while the size standard for
charter/party operators (part of NAICS code 487210) is $7 million in
sales. All of the entities (fishing vessels) affected by this action
are considered small entities under the SBA size standards for small
fishing businesses. Although multiple vessels may be owned by a single
owner, ownership tracking is not readily available to reliably
ascertain affiliated entities. Therefore, for the purposes of this
analysis, each permitted vessel is treated as a single small entity and
is determined to be a small entity under the RFA. Accordingly, there
are no differential impacts between large and small entities under this
rule. 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
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
The proposed increase in the spiny dogfish commercial quota would
impact vessels that hold Federal open access commercial spiny dogfish
permits, and participate in the spiny dogfish fishery. According to
MAFMC's analysis, 2,743 vessels were issued spiny dogfish permits in
2011. However, only 326 vessels landed any amount of spiny dogfish.
While the fishery extends from Maine to North Carolina, most active
vessels were from Massachusetts (31.6 percent), New Jersey (14.7
percent), New Hampshire (11.4 percent), Rhode Island (9.8 percent), New
York (8.0 percent), North Carolina (6.7 percent), and Virginia (5.8
Economic Impacts of the Proposed Action Compared to Significant Non-
Four management alternatives were analyzed for each year, 2013-
2015. Alternative 1 represents the preferred alternative proposed in
this rule (Table 1). Alternative 2 would include the same commercial
quotas as Alternative 1, but would maintain the status quo possession
limit of 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), rather than increasing it to 4,000 lb
(1,814 kg). Alternative 3 would increase the possession limit to 4,000
lb (1,814 kg), and include the highest possible commercial quotas by
not making a deduction from the ACL accounting for management
uncertainty (estimated to be 3.99 percent of the ACL). Under
Alternative 3, the commercial quotas would be 42.539 million lb (19,295
mt) in 2013, 43.520 million lb (19,740 mt) in 2014, and 43.307 million
lb (19,644 mt) in 2015. Alternative 4 represents the status quo
alternative, which would maintain fishing year 2012 specifications
through 2015 (35.694 million-lb (16,191-mt) commercial quota; 3,000-lb
(1,361-kg) possession limit).
The proposed action is likely to result in greater revenue from
spiny dogfish landings, which could be 14-17 percent higher than the
status quo commercial quota. Based on recent landings information, the
spiny dogfish fishery is able to land close to the full amount of fish
allowable under the quotas. Total spiny dogfish revenue from the 2011
fishing year was approximately $4.456 million, when the commercial
quota was 20 million lb (9,072 mt). Fishing year 2012 (status quo)
spiny dogfish revenue is estimated to be $7.5 million under a
commercial quota of 35.694 million lb (16,191 mt). Assuming the 2011
average price ($0.21 per lb), landing the proposed commercial quotas
(Table 1) would result in gross spiny dogfish revenues of approximately
$8.577 million in 2013, $8.775 million in 2014, and $8.731 million in
2015. Additionally, with the proposed possession limit increase from
3,000 lb (1,361 kg) to 4,000 lb (1,814 kg), trip-level spiny dogfish
revenues would increase from approximately $630 per trip to $840 per
trip. The expected increases in spiny dogfish revenue should benefit
those ports that are more heavily dependent on spiny dogfish revenue
than other communities, including Virginia Beach/Lynnhaven, VA; Rye and
Seabrook, NH; and Scituate, MA.
The purpose of the proposed action is to increase spiny dogfish
catch limits and landings, consistent with the best available science
and the FMP, thereby extending the duration of the fishing season and
increasing annual and trip-level spiny dogfish revenues relative to the
status quo. The proposed action is expected to maximize the
profitability for the spiny dogfish fishery during the 2013-2015
fishing years, without jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the
stock. Therefore, the economic impacts resulting from the proposed
action as compared to alternatives with lower quotas or possession
limits are positive.
The proposed action is expected to result in the most positive
economic impacts among the alternatives, except for Alternative 3,
which could result in slightly higher gross spiny dogfish revenues.
However, Alternative 3 does not account for management uncertainty,
which would result in a higher risk of exceeding the ACL, and would be
inconsistent with the requirements of the FMP. Alternative 3 would also
be inconsistent with the Commission's management of the spiny dogfish
fishery in state waters; the Commission selected Alternative 1
List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648
Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.
Dated: March 7, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and
duties of the 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
1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
2. In Sec. 648.235, revise introductory text to paragraphs (a) and
(b), and revise paragraphs (a)(1), and (b)(1) to read as follows:
Sec. 648.235 Spiny dogfish possession and landing restrictions.
(a) Quota period 1. From May 1 through October 31, vessels issued a
valid Federal spiny dogfish permit specified under Sec. 648.4(a)(11)
(1) Possess up to 4,000 lb (1.814 mt) of spiny dogfish per trip;
* * * * *
(b) Quota period 2. From November 1 through April 30, vessels
issued a valid Federal spiny dogfish permit specified under Sec.
(1) Possess up to 4,000 lb (1.814 mt) of spiny dogfish per trip;
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2013-05637 Filed 3-11-13; 8:45 am]
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