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Proposed Rule

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Allocation of Trips to Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder Special Access Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), is proposing to allocate zero trips in the Closed Area (CA) II Yellowtail Flounder Special Access Program (SAP) during the 2007 fishing year (FY) (i.e., May 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008). The Regional Administrator has determined that the available catch of Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder is insufficient to support a minimum level of fishing activity within the CA II Yellowtail Flounder SAP for FY 2007. The intent of this action is to help achieve optimum yield (OY) in the fishery by maximizing the utility of available GB yellowtail flounder TAC throughout FY 2007.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before 5 p.m., local time, May 29, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  • Written comments (paper, disk, or CD-ROM) should be sent to Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, “Comments on CA II YT SAP.”
  • Comments also may be sent via facsimile (fax) to (978) 978-9135.
  • E-mail: YellowtailSAP@Noaa.gov Include in the subject line the following “Comments on CA II YT SAP.”
  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mark Grant, Fishery Management Specialist, phone: (978) 281-9218, fax: (978) 281-9135, e-mail: Mark.Grant@noaa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The final rule implementing Framework Adjustment (FW) 40B (70 FR 31323; June 1, 2005), authorized the Regional Administrator to allocate the total number of trips into the CA II Yellowtail Flounder SAP based upon several criteria, including: GB yellowtail flounder total allowable catch (TAC) level, as established through the U.S./Canada Resource Sharing Understanding; and the amount of GB yellowtail flounder caught outside of the SAP. A formula was developed in FW 40B to assist the Regional Administrator in determining the appropriate number of trips for this SAP on a yearly basis. The formula is intended to allow the SAP to be adjusted for changing stock conditions to help achieve OY for GB yellowtail flounder.

FW 40B authorized the Regional Administrator to allocate zero trips to this SAP if the available GB yellowtail flounder catch (GB yellowtail flounder TAC projected catch of GB yellowtail flounder outside the SAP) is not sufficient to support 150 trips with a 15,000-lb (6,804-kg) trip limit (i.e., if the available GB yellowtail catch is less than 1,021 mt), as required. The proposed U.S./Canada GB yellowtail flounder TAC for 2007, as recommended by the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee and the Council, is 900 mt (72 FR 10967; March 12, 2007). During FY 2006, vessels fishing outside of the SAP landed over 1,500 mt of GB yellowtail flounder. Therefore, based on the proposed 900-mt U.S./Canada GB yellowtail flounder TAC, assuming similar fishing behavior in 2007, and using the criteria specified under § 648.85(b)(3)(vii) to determine the appropriate number of trips for FY 2007, the Regional Administrator has determined that there will be insufficient GB yellowtail flounder TAC to support the CA II Yellowtail Flounder SAP for FY 2007 (900 mt - 1,500 mt <1,020 mt). Therefore, a limit of zero trips is proposed for FY 2007.

Classification

Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, I have determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the NE Multispecies 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 the purposes of Executive Order 12866.

The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

The SBA size standard for small commercial fishing entities is $ 4.0 million in gross receipts. Individuals that would be impacted by this proposed action include all limited access NE multispecies DAS permit holders. All commercial fishing entities affected by this proposed rule would fall under the SBA size standard for small commercial fishing entities and there would be no disproportionate impacts between small and large entities. The proposed action would affect a substantial number of small entities, as approximately 66 percent of the vessels affected by this action (i.e., 100 out of 150) had participated in the CA II Yellowtail Flounder SAP when it was open during FY 2004. However, the proposed action will not significantly reduce profit for affected vessels.

The proposed allocation of zero trips into the SAP would help ensure that the GB yellowtail flounder TAC is available throughout the fishing year, minimizing the impacts of depressed prices that could otherwise be caused by temporary floods of yellowtail flounder on the market, and therefore would help avoid the premature closing of the Eastern U.S./Canada Area due to catching the available GB yellowtail flounder TAC. This would enable vessels greater opportunity to fully harvest the available GB cod and GB haddock TAC allocated to the Eastern U.S./Canada Area and to achieve the full economic benefit from the U.S./Canada Management Area by more efficiently using the small GB yellowtail flounder TAC. Analysis prepared for FW 40B indicates that flexibility for vessels to target species other than yellowtail flounder is seen as critical to maintaining the profitability of vessel operations within the U.S./Canada Start Printed Page 26771Management Area, including the SAP, given the costs associated with fishing far offshore. Because the proposed action would maintain access to the Eastern U.S./Canada Area throughout the fishing year, this action attempts to preserve the flexibility for vessels to operate in an efficient and cost-effective manner that would maximize the profitability of vessel operations. Since the SAP was closed to fishing for FY 2006, there would be no change in profitability to individual vessels (compared to last year) resulting from the proposed zero allocation, thus, no economic impact to affected small harvesters.

This proposed rule does not contain any new, nor revised existing reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: May 7, 2007.

William T. Hogarth,

Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E7-9092 Filed 5-10-07; 8:45 am]

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