50 CFR § 622.22 - Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes.

§ 622.22 Individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes.

(a) General. This section establishes an IFQ program for the commercial sectors of the Gulf reef fish fishery for groupers (including DWG, red grouper, gag, and Other SWG) and tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish). For the purposes of this IFQ program, DWG includes yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and scamp, but only as specified in paragraph (a)(7) of this section. For the purposes of this IFQ program, Other SWG includes black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, warsaw grouper, and speckled hind, but only as specified in paragraph (a)(6) of this section. Under the IFQ program, the RA initially will assign eligible participants IFQ shares, in five share categories. These IFQ shares are equivalent to a percentage of the annual commercial quotas for DWG, red grouper, gag, Other SWG, and tilefishes, based on their applicable historical landings. Shares determine the amount of IFQ allocation for Gulf groupers and tilefishes, in pounds gutted weight, a shareholder is initially authorized to possess, land, or sell in a given calendar year. Shares and annual IFQ allocation are transferable. See paragraph (b)(1) of this section regarding a requirement for a vessel landing groupers or tilefishes subject to this IFQ program to have an IFQ vessel account for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. See paragraph (b)(2) of this section regarding a requirement for a Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement. Details regarding eligibility, applicable landings history, account setup and transaction requirements, constraints on transferability, and other provisions of this IFQ system are provided in the following paragraphs of this section.

(1) Scope. The provisions of this section apply to Gulf groupers and tilefishes in or from the Gulf EEZ and, for a person aboard a vessel with an IFQ vessel account for Gulf groupers and tilefishes as required by paragraph (b)(1) of this section or for a person with a Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement as required by paragraph (b)(2) of this section, these provisions apply to Gulf groupers and tilefishes regardless of where harvested or possessed.

(2) Duration. The IFQ program established by this section will remain in effect until it is modified or terminated; however, the program will be evaluated by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council every 5 years.

(3) Electronic system requirements.

(i) The administrative functions associated with this IFQ program, e.g., registration and account setup, landing transactions, and transfers, are designed to be accomplished online; therefore, a participant must have access to a computer and Internet access and must set up an appropriate IFQ account to participate. The computer must have browser software installed, e.g. Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox; as well as the software Adobe Flash Player version 9.0 or greater, which may be downloaded from the Internet for free. Assistance with online functions is available from IFQ Customer Service by calling 1-866-425-7627 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time.

(ii) The RA will mail initial shareholders and dealers with Gulf reef fish dealer permits information and instructions pertinent to setting up an IFQ account. Other eligible persons who desire to become IFQ participants by purchasing IFQ shares or allocation or by obtaining a Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement must first contact IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627 to obtain information necessary to set up the required IFQ account. All current IFQ participants must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account to certify their citizenship status and ensure their account information (e.g., mailing address, corporate shareholdings, etc.) is up to date. See paragraph (b)(11) of this section regarding requirements for the application for an IFQ Account. Each IFQ participant must monitor his/her online account and all associated messages and comply with all IFQ online reporting requirements.

(iii) During catastrophic conditions only, the IFQ program provides for use of paper-based components for basic required functions as a backup. The RA will determine when catastrophic conditions exist, the duration of the catastrophic conditions, and which participants or geographic areas are deemed affected by the catastrophic conditions. The RA will provide timely notice to affected participants via publication of notification in the Federal Register, NOAA weather radio, fishery bulletins, and other appropriate means and will authorize the affected participants' use of paper-based components for the duration of the catastrophic conditions. NMFS will provide each IFQ dealer the necessary paper forms and instructions for submission of the forms to the RA. The paper forms will also be available from the RA. The program functions available to participants or geographic areas deemed affected by catastrophic conditions will be limited under the paper-based system. There will be no mechanism for transfers of IFQ shares or allocation under the paper-based system in effect during catastrophic conditions. Assistance in complying with the requirements of the paper-based system will be available via IFQ Customer Service 1-866-425-7627 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time.

(4) IFQ allocation. IFQ allocation is the amount of Gulf groupers and tilefishes, in pounds gutted weight, an IFQ shareholder or allocation holder is authorized to possess, land, or sell during a given fishing year. IFQ allocation is derived at the beginning of each year by multiplying a shareholder's IFQ share times the annual commercial quota for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. If the quota is increased after the beginning of the fishing year, then IFQ allocation is derived by multiplying a shareholder's IFQ share at the time of the quota increase by the amount the annual commercial quota for groupers and tilefishes is increased. If a reduction in the applicable commercial quota specified in § 622.39(a)(1) is expected to occur after January 1, the beginning of the fishing year, but before June 1 in that same fishing year, NMFS will withhold distribution of IFQ allocation of the applicable groupers and tilefishes commercial quota on January 1 in the amount equal to that reduction. If a final rule to implement the commercial quota reduction is not published in the Federal Register and effective by June 1, NMFS will distribute withheld IFQ allocation of the applicable groupers and tilefishes commercial quota to current shareholders based on the date the withheld IFQ allocation is distributed.

(5) Red grouper and gag multi-use allocation -

(i) Red grouper multi-use allocation.

(A) At the time the commercial quota for red grouper is distributed to IFQ shareholders, a percentage of each shareholder's initial red grouper allocation will be converted to red grouper multi-use allocation. Red grouper multi-use allocation, determined annually, will be based on the following formula:

Red Grouper multi-use allocation (in percent) = 100 * [Gag ACL − Gag commercial quota]/Red grouper commercial quota

(B) Red grouper multi-use allocation may be used to possess, land, or sell either red grouper or gag under certain conditions. Red grouper multi-use allocation may be used to possess, land, or sell red grouper only after an IFQ account holder's (shareholder or allocation holder's) red grouper allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred; and to possess, land, or sell gag, only after both gag and gag multi-use allocation have been landed and sold, or transferred. However, if gag is under a rebuilding plan, the percentage of red grouper multi-use allocation is equal to zero.

(ii) Gag multi-use allocation.

(A) At the time the commercial quota for gag is distributed to IFQ shareholders, a percentage of each shareholder's initial gag allocation will be converted to gag multi-use allocation. Gag multi-use allocation, determined annually, will be based on the following formula:

Gag multi-use allocation (in percent) = 100 * [Red grouper ACL − Red grouper commercial quota]/Gag commercial quota

(B) Gag multi-use allocation may be used to possess, land, or sell either gag or red grouper under certain conditions. Gag multi-use allocation may be used to possess, land, or sell gag only after an IFQ account holder's (shareholder or allocation holder's) gag allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred; and to possess, land, or sell red grouper, only after both red grouper and red grouper multi-use allocation have been landed and sold, or transferred. Multi-use allocation transfer procedures and restrictions are specified in paragraph (b)(6)(iv) of this section. However, if red grouper is under a rebuilding plan, the percentage of gag multi-use allocation is equal to zero.

(6) Warsaw grouper and speckled hind classification. Warsaw grouper and speckled hind are considered DWG species and under certain circumstances SWG species. For the purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes, after all of an IFQ account holder's DWG allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred, or if an IFQ account holder has no DWG allocation, then Other SWG allocation may be used to land and sell warsaw grouper and speckled hind.

(7) Scamp classification. Scamp is considered a SWG species and under certain circumstances a DWG. For the purposes of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes, after all of an IFQ account holder's Other SWG allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred, or if an IFQ account holder has no SWG allocation, then DWG allocation may be used to land and sell scamp.

(8) Closing an IFQ account. IFQ account holders may close an IFQ account by completing and submitting a Close IFQ Account Request Form to NMFS. This form must be signed by an account holder named on the IFQ account. If the request to close an IFQ account is being made because the sole account holder is deceased, the person requesting the closure must sign the Close IFQ Account Request Form, indicating the relationship to the deceased, provide a death certificate, and provide any additional information NMFS determines is necessary to complete the request. IFQ shareholder accounts may not be closed until all shares and allocation have been transferred from the account to another IFQ account holder. Dealer accounts may not be closed until all cost recovery fees have been received by NMFS. NMFS' IFQ Customer Service staff may close an IFQ account if all shares and allocation have been transferred from the account, all cost recovery fees have been received by NMFS, and no landing transactions or IFQ transfers have been completed by the IFQ account holder in at least 1 year. If an account is closed by NMFS' IFQ Customer Service staff, it may be reopened at the request of the IFQ account holder by contacting IFQ Customer Service.

(9) Returning IFQ shares. Any shares contained in IFQ accounts that have never been activated since January 1, 2010, in the IFQ program are returned permanently to NMFS on July 12, 2018.

(b) IFQ operations and requirements -

(1) IFQ vessel accounts for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. For a person aboard a vessel, for which a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, to fish for, possess, or land Gulf groupers (including DWG and SWG, as specified in paragraph (a) of this section or tilefishes (including goldface tilefish, blueline tilefish, and tilefish), regardless of where harvested or possessed, a Gulf IFQ vessel account for the applicable species or species groups must have been established. As a condition of the IFQ vessel account, a person aboard such vessel must comply with the requirements of this section, § 622.22, when fishing for groupers or tilefishes regardless of where the fish are harvested or possessed. An owner of a vessel with a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish, who has established an IFQ account for the applicable species, as specified in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, online via the NMFS IFQ Web site https://portal.southeast.fisheries.noaa.gov/cs/main.html, may establish a vessel account through that IFQ account for that permitted vessel. If such owner does not have an online IFQ account, the owner must first contact IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627 to obtain information necessary to access the IFQ Web site and establish an online IFQ account. There is no fee to set-up an IFQ account or a vessel account. Only one vessel account may be established per vessel under each IFQ program. An owner with multiple vessels may establish multiple vessel accounts under each IFQ account. The purpose of the vessel account is to hold IFQ allocation that is required to land the applicable IFQ species. A vessel account, or its linked IFQ shareholder account, must hold sufficient IFQ allocation in the appropriate share category, at least equal to the pounds in gutted weight of the groupers and tilefishes on board at the time of advance notice of landing. Allocation must be transferred to the vessel account, so that the vessel account holds sufficient IFQ allocation at the time of the landing transaction (except for any overage allowed as specified in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) for groupers and tilefishes). The vessel account remains valid as long as the vessel permit remains valid; the vessel has not been sold or transferred; and the vessel owner is in compliance with all Gulf reef fish and IFQ reporting requirements, has paid all applicable IFQ fees, and is not subject to sanctions under 15 CFR part 904. The vessel account is not transferable to another vessel. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to fishing for or possession of Gulf groupers and tilefishes under the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(2) and (5) respectively.

(2) Gulf IFQ dealer endorsements. In addition to the requirement for a Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit as specified in § 622.20(c)(1), for a dealer to first receive groupers and tilefishes subject to the IFQ program for groupers and tilefishes, as specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, or for a person aboard a vessel with a Gulf IFQ vessel account to sell such groupers and tilefishes directly to an entity other than a dealer, such persons must also have a Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement. A dealer with a Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit can download a Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement from the NMFS IFQ Web site. If such persons do not have an IFQ account, they must first contact IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627 to obtain information necessary to access the IFQ Web site and establish an IFQ account. There is no fee for obtaining this endorsement. The endorsement remains valid as long as the Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit remains valid and the dealer is in compliance with all Gulf reef fish and IFQ reporting requirements, has paid all IFQ fees required, and is not subject to any sanctions under 15 CFR part 904. The endorsement is not transferable.

(3) IFQ Landing and transaction requirements.

(i) At the time of advance notice of landing, the IFQ vessel account, or its linked IFQ shareholder account, must contain allocation at least equal to the pounds in gutted weight of grouper or tilefish species to be landed, except as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. At the time of the landing transaction, the IFQ vessel account must contain allocation at least equal to the pounds in gutted weight of grouper or tilefish species to be landed, except as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. Such groupers and tilefishes must be sold and can be received only by a dealer who has a valid Gulf IFQ dealer endorsement and an active IFQ dealer account (i.e., not in delinquent status). All IFQ landings and their actual ex-vessel prices must be reported via the IFQ Web site.

(ii) A person on board a vessel with an IFQ vessel account landing the shareholder's only remaining allocation from among any of the grouper or tilefish share categories, can legally exceed, by up to 10 percent, the shareholder's allocation remaining on that last fishing trip of the fishing year, i.e. a one-time per fishing year overage. Any such overage will be deducted from the shareholder's applicable allocation for the subsequent fishing year. From the time of the overage until January 1 of the subsequent fishing year, the IFQ shareholder must retain sufficient shares to account for the allocation that will be deducted the subsequent fishing year. Share transfers that would violate this requirement will be prohibited.

(iii) The dealer must complete a landing transaction report for each landing of Gulf groupers or tilefishes via the IFQ Web site on the day of offload, except if the fish are being trailered for transport to a dealer as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(iv) of this section (in which case the landing transaction report may be completed prior to the day of offload), and within 96 hours from the time of landing reported on the most recent landing notification, in accordance with the reporting form(s) and instructions provided on the Web site. This report includes date, time, and location of transaction; weight and actual ex-vessel price of groupers and tilefishes landed and sold (when calculating the weight of IFQ groupers and tilefishes during a landing transaction, ice and water weight may not be deducted from the weight of the fish unless the actual weight of the ice and water can be determined); and information necessary to identify the fisherman, vessel, and dealer involved in the transaction. The fisherman must validate the dealer transaction report by entering the unique PIN for the vessel account when the transaction report is submitted. After the dealer submits the report and the information has been verified by NMFS, the online system will send a transaction approval code to the dealer and the allocation holder.

(iv) If there is a discrepancy regarding the landing transaction report after approval, the dealer or vessel account holder (or his or her authorized agent) must initiate a landing transaction correction form to correct the landing transaction. This form is available via the IFQ Web site. The dealer must then print out the form, both parties must sign it, and the form must be mailed to NMFS. The form must be received by NMFS no later than 15 days after the date of the initial landing transaction.

(4) IFQ cost recovery fees. As required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the RA will collect a fee to recover the actual costs directly related to the management and enforcement of the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes. The fee cannot exceed 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of Gulf groupers and tilefishes landed under the IFQ program as described in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Such fees will be deposited in the Limited Access System Administration Fund (LASAF). Initially, the fee will be 3 percent of the actual ex-vessel price of Gulf groupers and tilefishes landed per trip under the IFQ program, as documented in each landings transaction report. The RA will review the cost recovery fee annually to determine if adjustment is warranted. Factors considered in the review include the catch subject to the IFQ cost recovery, projected ex-vessel value of the catch, costs directly related to the management and enforcement of the IFQ program, the projected IFQ balance in the LASAF, and expected non-payment of fee liabilities. If the RA determines that a fee adjustment is warranted, the RA will publish a notification of the fee adjustment in the Federal Register.

(i) Payment responsibility. The IFQ account holder specified in the documented IFQ landing transaction report for Gulf groupers and tilefishes is responsible for payment of the applicable cost recovery fees.

(ii) Collection and submission responsibility. A dealer who receives Gulf groupers or tilefishes subject to the IFQ program is responsible for collecting the applicable cost recovery fee for each IFQ landing from the IFQ account holder specified in the IFQ landing transaction report. Such dealer is responsible for submitting all applicable cost recovery fees to NMFS on a quarterly basis. The fees are due and must be submitted, using pay.gov via the IFQ system, at the end of each calendar-year quarter, but no later than 30 days after the end of each calendar-year quarter. Fees not received by the deadline are delinquent.

(iii) Fee payment procedure. For each IFQ dealer, the IFQ system will post, in individual IFQ dealer accounts, an end-of-quarter statement of cost recovery fees that are due. The dealer is responsible for submitting the cost recovery fee payments using pay.gov via the IFQ system. Authorized payment methods are credit card, debit card, or automated clearing house (ACH). Payment by check will be authorized only if the RA has determined that the geographical area or an individual(s) is affected by catastrophic conditions.

(iv) Fee reconciliation process - delinquent fees. The following procedures apply to an IFQ dealer whose cost recovery fees are delinquent.

(A) On or about the 31st day after the end of each calendar-year quarter, the RA will send the dealer an electronic message via the IFQ Web site and official notice via mail indicating the applicable fees are delinquent, and the dealer's IFQ account has been suspended pending payment of the applicable fees.

(B) On or about the 91st day after the end of each calendar-year quarter, the RA will refer any delinquent IFQ dealer cost recovery fees to the appropriate authorities for collection of payment.

(5) Measures to enhance IFQ program enforceability -

(i) Advance notice of landing -

(A) General requirement. For the purpose of this paragraph, landing means to arrive at a dock, berth, beach, seawall, or ramp. The owner or operator of a vessel landing IFQ groupers or tilefishes is responsible for ensuring that NMFS is contacted at least 3 hours, but no more than 24 hours, in advance of landing to report the time and location of landing, estimated grouper and tilefish landings in pounds gutted weight for each share category (gag, red grouper, DWG, Other SWG, tilefishes), vessel identification number (Coast Guard registration number or state registration number), and the name and address of the IFQ dealer(s) where the groupers or tilefishes are to be received. The vessel must land within 1 hour after the time given in the landing notification except as provided in paragraph (b)(5)(i)(C) of this section. The vessel landing groupers or tilefishes must have sufficient IFQ allocation in the IFQ vessel account, or its linked IFQ shareholder account, and in the appropriate share category or categories, at least equal to the pounds in gutted weight of all groupers and tilefishes on board (except for any overage up to the 10 percent allowed on the last fishing trip) at the time of the advance notice of landing.

(B) Submitting an advanced landing notification. Authorized methods for contacting NMFS and submitting the report include calling IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627, completing and submitting to NMFS a landing notification provided through the VMS unit, or providing the required information to NMFS through the web-based form available on the IFQ Web site.

(C) Landing prior to the notification time. The owner or operator of a vessel that has completed a landing notification and submitted it to NMFS may land prior to the notification time, only if an authorized officer is present at the landing site, is available to meet the vessel, and has authorized the owner or operator of the vessel to land early.

(D) Changes to a landing notification. The owner or operator of a vessel who has submitted a landing notification to NMFS may make changes to the notification by submitting a superseding notification. If the initial superseding notification makes changes to one or more of the following: the time of landing (if landing more than 1 hour after the time on the notification), the dealer(s), or the estimated weights of fish to be landed, the vessel does not need to wait an additional 3 hours to land. If the initial superseding notification makes changes to the landing location, the time of landing is earlier than previously specified, or more than one superseding notification is submitted on a trip, the vessel must wait an additional 3 hours to land, except as provided in paragraph (b)(5)(i)(C) of this section.

(ii) Time restriction on offloading. For the purpose of this paragraph, offloading means to remove IFQ groupers and tilefishes from a vessel. IFQ groupers or tilefishes may be offloaded only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., local time, unless an authorized officer is present at the offloading at 6 p.m., is available to remain at the site while offloading continues, and authorizes the owner or operator of the vessel to continue offloading after 6 p.m.

(iii) Restrictions on transfer of IFQ groupers and tilefishes. At-sea or dockside transfer of IFQ groupers or tilefishes from one vessel to another vessel is prohibited.

(iv) Requirement for transaction approval code. If IFQ groupers or tilefishes are offloaded to a vehicle for transport or are on a vessel that is trailered for transport, on-site capability to accurately weigh the fish and to connect electronically to the online IFQ system to complete the transaction and obtain the transaction approval code is required. After a landing transaction has been completed, a transaction approval code verifying a legal transaction of the amount of IFQ groupers and tilefishes in possession and a copy of the dealer endorsement must accompany any IFQ groupers or tilefishes from the landing location through possession by a dealer. This requirement also applies to IFQ groupers and tilefishes possessed on a vessel that is trailered for transport. A dealer may only receive IFQ groupers and tilefishes transported by a vehicle or a trailered vessel that has a corresponding transaction approval code.

(v) Approved landing locations. IFQ groupers and tilefishes must be landed at an approved landing location. Landing locations must be approved by NMFS Office for Law Enforcement prior to a vessel landing IFQ groupers or tilefishes at these sites. Proposed landing locations may be submitted online via the IFQ Web site, or by calling IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627, at any time; however, new landing locations will be approved only at the end of each calendar-year quarter. To have your landing location approved by the end of the calendar-year quarter, it must be submitted at least 45 days before the end of the calendar-year quarter. NMFS will evaluate the proposed sites based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

(A) Landing locations must have a street address. If there is no street address on record for a particular landing location, global positioning system (GPS) coordinates for an identifiable geographic location must be provided.

(B) Landing locations must be publicly accessible by land and water, and must satisfy the following criteria:

(1) Vehicles must have access to the site via public roads;

(2) Vessels must have access to the site via navigable water;

(3) No other condition may impede free and immediate access to the site by an authorized law enforcement officer. Examples of such conditions include, but are not limited to: A locked gate, fence, wall, or other barrier preventing 24-hour access to the site; a gated community entry point; a guard; animal; a posted sign restricting access to the site; or any other physical deterrent.

(6) Transfer of IFQ shares and allocation. Until January 1, 2015, IFQ shares and allocations can be transferred only to a person who holds a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish; thereafter, IFQ shares and allocations can be transferred only to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. However, a valid commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, an IFQ vessel account for Gulf groupers and tilefishes, and IFQ allocation for Gulf groupers or tilefishes are required to possess (at and after the time of the advance notice of landing), land or sell Gulf groupers or tilefishes subject to this IFQ program.

(i) Share transfers. Share transfers are permanent, i.e., they remain in effect until subsequently transferred. Transfer of shares will result in the corresponding allocation being automatically transferred to the person receiving the transferred share beginning with the fishing year following the year the transfer occurred. However, within the fishing year the share transfer occurs, transfer of shares and associated allocation are independent - unless the associated allocation is transferred separately, it remains with the transferor for the duration of that fishing year. A share transfer transaction that remains in pending status, i.e., has not been completed and verified with a transaction approval code, after 30 days from the date the shareholder initiated the transfer will be cancelled, and the pending shares will be re-credited to the shareholder who initiated the transfer.

(ii) Share transfer procedures. Share transfers must be accomplished online via the IFQ Web site. An IFQ shareholder must initiate a share transfer request by logging onto the IFQ Web site. An IFQ shareholder who is subject to a sanction under 15 CFR part 904 is prohibited from initiating a share transfer. An IFQ shareholder who is subject to a pending sanction under 15 CFR part 904 must disclose in writing to the prospective transferee the existence of any pending sanction at the time of the transfer. Following the instructions provided on the Web site, the shareholder must enter pertinent information regarding the transfer request including, but not limited to: amount of shares to be transferred, which must be a minimum of 0.000001 percent; name of the eligible transferee; and the value of the transferred shares. For the first 5 years this IFQ program is in effect, an eligible transferee is a person who has a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish; is in compliance with all reporting requirements for the Gulf reef fish fishery and the IFQ program for Gulf groupers and tilefishes; is not subject to sanctions under 15 CFR part 904; and who would not be in violation of the share or allocation caps as specified in paragraph (b)(8) of this section. Thereafter, share transferee eligibility will only include U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens who are otherwise in compliance with the provisions of this section. The online system will verify the information entered. If the information is not accepted, the online system will send the shareholder an electronic message explaining the reason(s). If the information is accepted, the online system will send the transferee an electronic message of the pending transfer. The transferee must approve the share transfer by electronic signature. If the transferee approves the share transfer, the online system will send a transfer approval code to both the shareholder and transferee confirming the transaction. All share transfers must be completed and the transaction approval code received prior to December 31 at 6 p.m. eastern time each year.

(iii) Allocation transfers. An allocation transfer is valid only for the remainder of the fishing year in which it occurs; it does not carry over to the subsequent fishing year. Any allocation that is unused at the end of the fishing year is void. Allocation may be transferred to a vessel account from any IFQ account. Allocation held in a vessel account, however, may only be transferred back to the IFQ account through which the vessel account was established.

(iv) Allocation transfer procedures and restrictions -

(A) Allocation transfer procedures. Allocation transfers must be accomplished online via the IFQ Web site. An IFQ account holder must initiate an allocation transfer by logging onto the IFQ Web site, entering the required information, including but not limited to, the name of an eligible transferee and amount of IFQ allocation to be transferred and price, and submitting the transfer electronically. An IFQ allocation holder who is subject to a sanction under 15 CFR part 904 is prohibited from initiating an allocation transfer. An IFQ allocation holder who is subject to a pending sanction under 15 CFR part 904 must disclose in writing to the prospective transferee the existence of any pending sanction at the time of the transfer. If the transfer is approved, the Web site will provide a transfer approval code to the transferor and transferee confirming the transaction.

(B) Multi-use allocation transfer restrictions -

(1) Red grouper multi-use allocation. Red grouper multi-use allocation may only be transferred after all an IFQ account holder's red grouper allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred.

(2) Gag multi-use allocation. Gag multi-use allocation may only be transferred after all an IFQ account holder's gag allocation has been landed and sold, or transferred.

(7) Restricted transactions during the 20-hour online maintenance window. All electronic IFQ transactions must be completed by December 31 at 6 p.m. eastern time each year. Electronic IFQ functions will resume again on January 1 at 2 p.m. eastern time the following fishing year. The remaining 6 hours prior to the end of the fishing year, and the 14 hours at the beginning of the next fishing year, are necessary to provide NMFS time to reconcile IFQ accounts, adjust allocations for the upcoming year if the commercial quotas or catch allowances for Gulf groupers and tilefishes have changed, and update shares and allocations for the upcoming fishing year. No electronic IFQ transactions will be available during these 20 hours. An advance notice of landing may still be submitted during the 20-hour maintenance window by using the vessel's VMS unit or calling IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627.

(8) IFQ share and allocation caps. A corporation's total IFQ share (or allocation) is determined by adding the applicable IFQ shares (or allocation) held by the corporation and any other IFQ shares (or allocation) held by a corporation(s) owned by the original corporation prorated based on the level of ownership. An individual's total IFQ share is determined by adding the applicable IFQ shares held by the individual and the applicable IFQ shares equivalent to the corporate share the individual holds in a corporation. An individual's total IFQ allocation is determined by adding the individual's total allocation to the allocation derived from the IFQ shares equivalent to the corporate share the individual holds in a corporation.

(i) IFQ share cap for each share category. No person, including a corporation or other entity, may individually or collectively hold IFQ shares in any share category (gag, red grouper, DWG, Other SWG, or tilefishes) in excess of the maximum share initially issued for the applicable share category to any person at the beginning of the IFQ program, as of the date appeals are resolved and shares are adjusted accordingly. A corporation must provide to the RA the identity of the shareholders of the corporation and their percent of shares in the corporation for initial issuance of IFQ shares and allocation, and provide updated information to the RA within 30 days of when changes occur. This information must also be provided to the RA any time a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish is renewed or transferred and at the time of renewal of the application for an IFQ Account.

(ii) Total allocation cap. No person, including a corporation or other entity, may individually or collectively hold, cumulatively during any fishing year, IFQ allocation in excess of the total allocation cap. The total allocation cap is the sum of the maximum allocations associated with the share caps for each individual share category and is calculated annually based on the applicable quotas or catch allowance associated with each share category.

(9) Redistribution of shares resulting from permanent revocation. If a shareholder's IFQ shares have been permanently revoked, the RA will redistribute the IFQ shares proportionately among remaining shareholders (subject to cap restrictions) based upon the amount of shares each held just prior to the redistribution. During December of each year, the RA will determine the amount of revoked shares, if any, to be redistributed, and the shares will be distributed at the beginning of the subsequent fishing year.

(10) Annual recalculation and notification of IFQ shares and allocation. On or about January 1 each year, IFQ shareholders will be notified, via the IFQ Web site, of their IFQ shares and allocations, for each of the five share categories, for the upcoming fishing year. These updated share values will reflect the results of applicable share transfers and any redistribution of shares (subject to cap restrictions) resulting from permanent revocation of IFQ shares. Allocation, for each share category, is calculated by multiplying IFQ share for that category times the annual commercial quota or commercial catch allowance for that share category. Updated allocation values will reflect any change in IFQ share for each share category, any change in the annual commercial quota or commercial catch allowance for the applicable categories; and any debits required as a result of prior fishing year overages as specified in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. IFQ participants can monitor the status of their shares and allocation throughout the year via the IFQ Web site.

(11) Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ program participation for current grouper and tilefish IFQ account holders.

(i) A current participant in the Gulf grouper and tilefish IFQ program must complete and submit the application for an IFQ Account that is available on the Web site sero.nmfs.noaa.gov, to certify status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. The account holder must also complete and submit any other information on this form that may be necessary for the administration of the IFQ account.

(ii) A person with an established IFQ account must update and confirm the account information every 2 years. IFQ accounts are updated through the submission of the application for an IFQ Account. Accounts must be updated prior to the account validity date (expiration date of the account) that is displayed on each account holder's IFQ account page. The RA will provide each participant who has established an online account an application approximately 2 months prior to the account validity date. A participant who is not provided an application at least 45 days prior to the account validity date must contact IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627 and request an application. Failure to submit a completed application prior to the participant's account validity date will lead to the suspension of the participant's access to his IFQ account until a completed application is submitted. Participants who certify that they are either not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien will be ineligible to receive shares or allocation through transfer.

[78 FR 22952, Apr. 17, 2013, as amended at 79 FR 19494, Apr. 9, 2014; 79 FR 57835, Sept. 26, 2014; 80 FR 18553, Apr. 7, 2015; 80 FR 24834, May 1, 2015; 83 FR 27300, June 12, 2018; 86 FR 11154, Feb. 24, 2021]

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