National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Notice of availability; request for comments.
The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils) have submitted Amendment 20A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources (CMP) in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP) (Amendment 20A) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 20A proposes actions to restrict sale of king and Spanish mackerel caught under the bag limit and to remove the income qualification requirement for king and Spanish mackerel commercial vessel permits.
Written comments must be received on or before May 2, 2014.
You may submit comments on Amendment 20A, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168” by any of the following methods:
- Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
- Mail: Submit written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
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 publicly 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.
Electronic copies of Amendment 20A, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/index.html.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305; email: Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov.
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The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any fishery management plan or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available for review and comment.
The FMP being revised by Amendment 20A was prepared by the Councils and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Actions Contained in Amendment 20A
Currently, no Federal permits are required to sell CMP species, although commercial vessel permits are required to exceed the bag limit for king and Spanish mackerel. All fish harvested in Federal waters that are sold are considered commercial harvest and count towards a species' commercial quota, whether or not the fisherman has a Federal commercial permit. The Councils and NMFS are concerned that landings sold from recreational trips may contribute to the commercial quota and lead to early closures in the commercial sector. Reducing the sale of fish caught under the bag limit should improve the accuracy of data by reducing “double counting”, i.e., harvest from a single trip that is counted towards both the commercial quota and recreational allocation. This practice occurs when the same catches are reported through recreational surveys and commercial trip tickets and logbooks.
For the Gulf region, Amendment 20A would prohibit the sale of bag-limit-caught king and Spanish mackerel except in two limited circumstances. First, bag-limit-caught king and Spanish mackerel could be sold when harvested during a for-hire trip on a vessel with both a Gulf Charter/Headboat Coastal Migratory Pelagic Fish Permit and either a King Mackerel Commercial Permit or a Spanish Mackerel Commercial Permit, as appropriate to the species harvested or possessed. Second, king and Spanish mackerel harvested during state-permitted tournaments may be donated to a dealer who has a state or Federal permit and then sold by that dealer, if the proceeds are donated to charity. Dealers receiving such fish must report them as tournament-caught fish. In the Gulf, these sales from dually-permitted vessels or tournaments would only occur in Florida because all other Gulf Start Printed Page 11749states prohibit the sale of any bag-limit caught fish.
Currently, there is no Federal dealer permit for king or Spanish mackerel. However, a proposed rule published on January 2, 2014 (79 FR 81), that would implement the Generic Dealer Amendment, includes an action to implement a Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit which would add king and Spanish mackerel onto the Federal dealer permit. Therefore, if the Generic Dealer Amendment is approved and a final rule is implemented, there would be a Federal dealer permit for king and Spanish mackerel.
For the Atlantic region, Amendment 20A would prohibit the sale of bag-limit-caught king and Spanish mackerel except those harvested during a state-permitted tournament. As in the Gulf, king and Spanish mackerel harvested during state-permitted tournaments may be donated to a dealer with a state or Federal permit and then sold by that dealer, if the proceeds are donated to charity. Dealers receiving such fish must report them as tournament-caught fish.
Amendment 20A would also remove the income qualification requirement for king and Spanish mackerel commercial vessel permits. To obtain or renew a king or Spanish mackerel commercial vessel permit, a minimum amount of the applicant's earned income must be derived from commercial or charter fishing. This requirement is difficult to enforce and has recently been removed as a requirement to obtain or renew a Gulf reef fish permit. No other Federal permit in the Southeast Region has an income qualification requirement except the Federal commercial spiny lobster permit, which mirrors requirements by Florida. This action would not affect the number of king mackerel permits issued, which are limited access, but could increase the number of Spanish mackerel permits issued, which are open access.
Amendment 20A also contained an action to eliminate or restrict latent permits; however, the Councils chose not to take action on that issue at this time.
A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 20A has been drafted. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment.
Consideration of Public Comments
The Council submitted Amendment 20A for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation on November 26, 2013. Comments received by May 2, 2014, whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment. Comments received after that date will not be considered by NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS on the amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed in the final rule.
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Dated: February 25, 2014.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-04628 Filed 2-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P