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Proposed Rule

Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Monkfish; Amendment 5

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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


Notice of availability of a fishery management plan amendment; request for comments.


NMFS announces that the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) has submitted Amendment 5 to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 5), incorporating a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), for review by the Secretary of Commerce. NMFS is requesting comments from the public on Amendment 5, which was developed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils) to bring the Monkfish FMP into compliance with the annual catch limit (ACL) and accountability measure (AM) requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).


Public comments must be received on or before April 4, 2011.


A draft EA was prepared for Amendment 5 that describes the proposed action and other considered alternatives, and provides a thorough analysis of the impacts of the proposed measures and alternatives. Copies of Amendment 5, including the draft EA and the IRFA, are available on request from Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council (Council), 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. These documents are also available online at

You may submit comments, identified by 0648-AX70, by any one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
  • Fax: (978) 281-9135, Attn: Allison McHale.
  • Mail: Patricia A. Kurkul, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, “Comments on Monkfish Amendment 5.”

Instructions: No comments will be posted for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted to without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

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Allison McHale, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 281-9103; fax: (978) 281-9135.

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The monkfish fishery is jointly managed by the Councils, with the NEFMC having the administrative lead. The fishery extends from Maine to North Carolina, and is divided into two management units: The Northern Fishery Management Area (NFMA) and the Southern Fishery Management Area (SFMA).

The Councils developed Amendment 5 with the primary goal of bringing the Start Printed Page 5556Monkfish FMP into compliance with the requirements of the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act. The 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act contains several new requirements including the requirement that all fisheries adopt ACLs to prevent overfishing, and measures to ensure accountability.

Amendment 5 was also developed to bring the Monkfish FMP into compliance with recently revised National Standard 1 (NS1) Guidelines (74 FR 3178; January 16, 2009) which not only establish a process for setting ACLs and guidance for establishing AMs, but also provides updated guidelines for establishing reference points and control rules (i.e., maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), overfishing limits (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), ACLs, and annual catch targets (ACTs)) and clarifies the relationships among them. Amendment 5 would establish biological and management reference points to be consistent with NS1 guidelines utilizing recent scientific information from the 2007 Northeast Data Poor Stocks Working Group assessment.

In addition to establishing revised biological and management reference points, ACLs, and AMs for the monkfish fishery, Amendment 5 also proposes measures intended to promote efficiency and reduce waste in the monkfish fishery. First, a measure is being proposed that would minimize regulatory discards resulting from monkfish trip limit overages by allowing vessels to land an additional trip limit (one day's worth) and have their DAS usage for that trip adjusted to account for the overage. Second, a measure is being proposed that would allow the landing of monkfish heads separate from the body by adding a new conversion factor and authorized landing form to the FMP. Lastly, a measure is being proposed in Amendment 5 that would enable changes to be made to the Monkfish RSA Program through a framework adjustment versus an FMP amendment.

Public comments are being solicited on Amendment 5 and its incorporated documents through the end of the comment period stated in this notice of availability. A proposed rule that would implement Amendment 5 will be published in the Federal Register for public comment. Public comments on the proposed rule must be received by the end of the comment period provided in this notice of availability of Amendment 5 to be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on the amendment. All comments received by April 4, 2011, whether specifically directed to Amendment 5 or the proposed rule for Amendment 5, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendment 5. Comments received after that date will not be considered in the decision to approve or disapprove Amendment 5. To be considered, comments must be received by close of business on the last day of the comment period.

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

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Dated: January 26, 2011.

Emily H. Menashes,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 2011-2200 Filed 1-31-11; 8:45 am]