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Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; Quota Transfer

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; quota transfer.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the Commonwealth of Virginia is transferring a portion of its 2017 commercial summer flounder quota to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This quota adjustment is necessary to comply with the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan quota transfer provisions. This announcement informs the public of the revised commercial quotas for Virginia and Massachusetts.

DATES:

Effective December 13, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cynthia Hanson, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281-9180.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery are found in 50 CFR 648.100 through 648.110. These regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state is described in § 648.102, and the initial 2017 allocations were published on December 22, 2016 (81 FR 93842).

The final rule implementing Amendment 5 to the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan, as published in the Federal Register on December 17, 1993 (58 FR 65936), provided a mechanism for transferring summer flounder commercial quota from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator, can transfer or combine summer flounder commercial quota under § 648.102(c)(2). The Regional Administrator is required to consider the criteria in § 648.102(c)(2)(i)(A) through (C) in the evaluation of requests for quota transfers or combinations.

Virginia is transferring 3,585 lb (1,626 kg) of summer flounder commercial quota to Massachusetts. This transfer was requested to repay landings by a Virginia-permitted vessel that landed in Massachusetts under a safe harbor agreement. The revised summer flounder quotas for calendar year 2017 are now: Virginia, 1,216,289 lb (551,699 kg); and Massachusetts, 389,573 lb (176,707 kg); based on the initial quotas published in the 2017 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications and subsequent transfers. The summer flounder fishery in Massachusetts closed on July 20, 2017 (82 FR 33827). Despite this transfer, there is insufficient quota available to reopen the commercial summer flounder fishery in Massachusetts, and as a result, this fishery remains closed for the remainder of 2017.

Classification

This action is taken under 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: December 13, 2017.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. 2017-27179 Filed 12-13-17; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P