[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 60 (Thursday, March 28, 2013)]
[Pages 18960-18961]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07258]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC586

Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; 
General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted 
Fishing Permits

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) is 
proposing to explore the use of several data recording devices in an 
industry-based pilot study that would effectively relay more accurate, 
detailed, and timely American lobster data to fisheries managers and 
scientists. The CFRF is also proposing to use vent-less traps in order 
to determine the abundance and distribution of juvenile American 
lobsters in Lobster Management Areas (LMAs) 2 and 3. This pilot study 
would utilize 12 Federal commercial fishing vessels; 6 vessels in each 
of the 2 management areas.
    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act require publication of this notification to provide 
interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for 
proposed EFPs.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 12, 2013.

     Email: Comments on this notice may be submitted by email. 
The mailbox address for providing email

[[Page 18961]]

comments is [email protected]. Include in the subject line ``Comments 
on CFRF Lobster EFP.''
     Mail: Written comments should be sent to: John K. Bullard, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS, NE Regional Office, 55 Great Republic 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope 
``Comments on CFRF Lobster EFP.''
     Fax: (978) 281-9135.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Jacob, Environmental Technician, 
978-281-9180, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CFRF submitted a complete application 
for an EFP on March 8, 2013. To conduct its research on the abundance 
and distribution of juvenile American lobster in LMAs 2 and 3, the CFRF 
is requesting exemptions from the following Federal lobster 
regulations: (1) Gear specifications to allow for closed escape vents, 
as prohibited in 50 CFR 697.21(c); (2) trap limits to be exceeded by 
three additional traps per fishing vessel, for a total of 36 additional 
traps, as prohibited in Sec.  697.19(a)(2) for LMA 2, and Sec.  
697.19(b)(5) for LMA 3; and (3) trap tag requirements, as specified in 
Sec.  697.19(f). Sampling would take place in the following statistical 
areas: 515, 521, 522, 525, 526, 533, 534, 537, 538, 539, 541, 542, 543, 
561, 562, 613, 615, 616, 622, 623, 624, 626, 627, 628, 629, 632, 633, 
634, 636, 637, 638, and 640.
    Funding for this pilot study will be provided through NOAA grants 
NA08NMF4720595, NA10NMF4720285, and NA09NMF4720414, as part of the 
Southern New England Collaborative Research Initiative Program 
(SNECRI). One of the main objectives of the SNECRI is to improve 
collection and management of fishery-dependent data; this pilot study 
would attempt to achieve this goal.
    The proposed pilot study would take place during regular fishing 
activity, and sampling would take place on each vessel during three of 
its scheduled fishing trips per month. If an EFP is granted, there 
would be an additional 36 modified traps in the water during any given 
time, and for a period of one year. Each participating vessel would 
have up to three modified traps attached to a regular trap trawl, to be 
hauled daily or weekly. The addition of 36 modified traps would 
increase the total number of traps in the fishery by 0.003 percent, a 
very small number compared to the number of lobster traps deployed in 
the fishery.
    Modifications to a conventional lobster trap would include a closed 
escape vent, smaller mesh size, and smaller entrance head. These 
modified traps would be attached to one or two randomly selected trap 
trawl(s) during regular fishing operations. Lobsters retrieved from 
these modified traps would remain onboard for a short period of time to 
allow for sampling, after which they would be returned to the water. 
The CFRF would submit progress reports twice a year to cover the first 
and second half of the 12-month sampling period. The exact 
specification for the chosen design would be provided in the first 
progress report.
    Biological information will be collected on both kept and discarded 
lobsters, including: Carapace length; sexual determination; and 
presence of eggs, v-notches, and shell disease. For every trap trawl 
hauled during a designated sampling trip, commercial fishermen would be 
expected to sample 100 lobsters, or 20 traps if there are less than 100 
lobsters to sample in a randomly chosen trap trawl. This pilot study 
proposes to use several recording devices, including onboard electronic 
calipers for length measurements, video cameras, and waterproof 
tablets. Data will be recorded using waterproof tablets, and the 
information will be uploaded using wireless internet connection once 
the vessel returns to port.
    If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and 
extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and 
extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed 
essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have 
minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially 
approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope 
of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

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

    Dated: March 25, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-07258 Filed 3-27-13; 8:45 am]