[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 56 (Thursday, March 22, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12502-12503]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05869]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 180123063-8063-01]
RIN 0648-XF987


Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Adjustment of Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic 
Yellowtail Flounder Catch Limits

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment of annual catch limits.

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SUMMARY: This action transfers unused quota of Southern New England/
Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder from the Atlantic sea scallop fishery 
to the Northeast multispecies fishery for the remainder of the 2017 
fishing year. This transfer implements an inseason adjustment of annual 
catch limits authorized by regulations implementing the Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that apply when the scallop 
fishery is not expected to catch its entire allocation of yellowtail 
flounder. The transfer is intended to achieve optimum yield for both 
fisheries while ensuring the total annual catch limit is not exceeded.

DATES: Effective March 21, 2018, through April 30, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Claire Fitz-Gerald, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9255.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS is required to estimate the total 
amount of yellowtail flounder bycatch in the scallop fishery by January 
15 each year. NMFS must determine if the scallop fishery is expected to 
catch less than 90 percent of its Georges Bank (GB) or Southern New 
England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail flounder sub-annual catch 
limit (sub-ACL) (50 CFR 648.90(a)(4)(iii)(C)). If so, the Regional 
Administrator (RA) may reduce the scallop fishery sub-ACL for these 
stocks to the amount projected to be caught, and increase the 
groundfish fishery sub-ACL for these stocks up to the same amount. This 
adjustment is intended to help achieve optimum yield for both fisheries 
while ensuring the total ACLs are not exceeded.
    Based on the most recent catch information available, we project 
that the scallop fishery will have unused quota in the 2017 fishing 
year for the SNE/MA yellowtail flounder stock. Because the scallop 
fishery is not expected to catch its entire allocation of SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder, this rule reduces the scallop sub-ACL for this 
stock to the upper limit projected to be caught, and increases the 
groundfish sub-ACL for this stock by the same amount, effective March 
21, 2018, through April 30, 2018. This transfer is based on the upper 
limit of expected SNE/MA yellowtail flounder catch by the scallop 
fishery, which is expected to minimize any risk of an ACL overage by 
the scallop fishery while still providing additional fishing 
opportunities for groundfish vessels.
    Table 1 summarizes the revisions to the 2017 fishing year sub-ACLs, 
and Table 2 shows the revised allocations for the groundfish fishery as 
allocated between the sectors and common pool based on final sector 
membership for fishing year 2017.

                     Table 1--Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder Sub-ACLs
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                                                              Initial sub-              Revised sub-   Percent
                Stock                         Fishery           ACL (mt)   Change (mt)    ACL (mt)      change
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SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder..........  Groundfish............        187.5        +29.9        217.4          +16

[[Page 12503]]

 
                                      Scallop...............         34.0        -29.9          4.1          -88
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          Table 2--Allocations for Sectors and the Common Pool
                               [in pounds]
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                                            SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder
               Sector name               -------------------------------
                                              Revised        Original
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Common Pool.............................          92,341          79,641
Fixed Gear Sector.......................           1,774           1,530
Maine Coast Community Sector............           6,104           5,264
Maine Permit Bank.......................             152             131
NCCS....................................           3,358           2,896
NEFS 1..................................  ..............  ..............
NEFS 10.................................           2,624           2,263
NEFS 11.................................              84              72
NEFS 12.................................              50              43
NEFS 13.................................         100,781          86,920
NEFS 2..................................           8,293           7,152
NEFS 3..................................             316             273
NEFS 4..................................          11,268           9,718
NEFS 5..................................         100,300          86,506
NEFS 6..................................          25,259          21,785
NEFS 7..................................          11,847          10,218
NEFS 8..................................          25,013          21,573
NEFS 9..................................          41,805          36,055
New Hampshire Permit Bank...............               0               0
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1............           1,511           1,303
Sustainable Harvest Sector 2............          10,761           9,281
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3............          35,643          30,741
                                         -------------------------------
    Sector Total........................         386,944         333,726
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Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has 
determined that the management measures implemented in this final rule 
are necessary for the conservation and management of the Northeast 
multispecies fishery and are consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, and other applicable law.
    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds good cause pursuant 
to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for 
public comment for this inseason adjustment because it would be 
impracticable and contrary to the public interest and would prevent the 
positive benefits the rule is intended to provide. NMFS is required to 
project GB and SNE/MA yellowtail flounder catch in the scallop fishery 
on or around January 15 of each year so that unused quota can be 
transferred to the groundfish fishery. The groundfish fishing year ends 
on April 30, 2018. The time necessary to provide for prior notice and 
comment would likely prevent this action from being implemented before 
the end of the fishing year, thereby precluding the additional economic 
benefits that would be created through additional GB and SNE/MA 
yellowtail flounder being made available to groundfish vessels. This 
adjustment, which implements provisions of 5 U.S.C. part 648, is 
routine and formulaic, and there was extensive public comment during 
the development of this provision in the FMP and its implementing 
regulations. Furthermore, there is no need to allow the industry 
additional time to adjust to this rule, because this rule does not 
require any compliance or other action on the part of individual 
scallop or groundfish fishermen. Thus, prior notice and comment for 
this rule would provide no benefits to industry and the public, while 
at the same time it would preclude timely implementation of this action 
and the intended economic benefits to the groundfish fishery. Giving 
effect to this rule as soon as possible will help achieve optimum yield 
in the fishery. For these same reasons, the NMFS Assistant 
Administrator also finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to 
waive the 30-day delay in the date of effectiveness for this action.
    Because notice and opportunity for comment are not required 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical requirements 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) are not 
applicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and has not been prepared.

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

    Dated: March 19, 2018.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-05869 Filed 3-21-18; 8:45 am]
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