50 CFR § 648.22 - Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish specifications.

§ 648.22 Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish specifications.

(a)Initial recommended annual specifications. The Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Monitoring Committee (Monitoring Committee) shall meet annually to develop and recommend the following specifications for consideration by the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee of the MAFMC:

(1)Illex squid - Initial OY (IOY), including Research Set-Aside (RSA), domestic annual harvest (DAH), and domestic annual processing (DAP) for Illex squid, which, subject to annual review, may be specified for a period of up to 3 years;

(2)Butterfish - ACL; ACT including RSA, DAH, DAP; bycatch level of the total allowable level of foreign fishing (TALFF), if any; and butterfish mortality cap for the longfin squid fishery for butterfish; which, subject to annual review, may be specified for a period of up to 3 years;

(3)Atlantic mackerel - ACL; commercial ACT, including RSA, DAH, mackerel Tier 3 allocation (up to 7 percent of the DAH), DAP; joint venture processing (JVP) if any; TALFF, if any; and recreational ACT, including RSA for mackerel; which, subject to annual review, may be specified for a period of up to 3 years. The Monitoring Committee may also recommend that certain ratios of TALFF, if any, for mackerel to purchases of domestic harvested fish and/or domestic processed fish be established in relation to the initial annual amounts.

(4)Longfin squid -

(i) IOY, including RSA, DAH, and DAP for longfin squid, which, subject to annual review, may be specified for a period of up to 3 years; and

(ii) Inseason adjustment, upward or downward, to the specifications for longfin squid, as specified in paragraph (e) of this section.

(b)Guidelines. As the basis for its recommendations under paragraph (a) of this section, the Monitoring Committee shall review the best available data to recommend specifications consistent with the following:

(1) Longfin and/or Illex squid.

(i) The ABC for any fishing year must be either the maximum OY, or a lower amount, if stock assessments indicate that the potential yield is less than the maximum OY. The OYs specified during a fishing year may not exceed the following amounts:

(A) Longfin squid - The catch associated with a fishing mortality rate of FThreshold.

(B)Illex squid - Catch associated with a fishing mortality rate of FMSY.

(ii) IOY is a modification of ABC based on social and economic factors. The IOY is composed of RSA and DAH. RSA will be based on requests for research quota as described in paragraph (g) of this section. DAH will be set after deduction for RSA, if applicable.

(2)Mackerel -

(i)ABC. The MAFMC's SSC shall recommend a stock-wide ABC to the MAFMC, as described in § 648.20. The stock-wide mackerel ABC is reduced from the OFL based on an adjustment for scientific uncertainty; the stock-wide ABC must be less than or equal to the OFL.

(ii)ACL. The ACL or Domestic ABC is calculated using the formula ACL/Domestic ABC = stock-wide ABC − C, where C is the estimated catch of mackerel in Canadian waters for the upcoming fishing year.

(iii)OY. OY may not exceed the ACL, and must take into account the need to prevent overfishing while allowing the fishery to achieve OY on a continuing basis. OY is prescribed on the basis of MSY, as reduced by social, economic, and ecological factors.

(iv)ACT. The Monitoring Committee shall identify and review relevant sources of management uncertainty to recommend ACTs for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors as part of the specifications process.

(A)Commercial sector ACT. Commercial ACT is composed of RSA, DAH, Tier 3 allocation (up to 7 percent of DAH), dead discards, and TALFF, if any. RSA will be based on requests for research quota as described in paragraph (g) of this section. DAH, Tier 3 allocation (up to 7 of the DAH), DAP, and JVP will be set after deduction for RSA, if applicable, and must be projected by reviewing data from sources specified in paragraph (b) of this section and other relevant data, including past domestic landings, projected amounts of mackerel necessary for domestic processing and for joint ventures during the fishing year, projected recreational landings, and other data pertinent for such a projection. The JVP component of DAH is the portion of DAH that domestic processors either cannot or will not use. Economic considerations for the establishment of JVP and TALFF include:

(1) Total world export potential of mackerel producing countries.

(2) Total world import demand of mackerel consuming countries.

(3) U.S. export potential based on expected U.S. harvests, expected U.S. consumption, relative prices, exchange rates, and foreign trade barriers.

(4) Increased/decreased revenues to the U.S. from foreign fees.

(5) Increased/decreased revenues to U.S. harvesters (with/without joint ventures).

(6) Increased/decreased revenues to U.S. processors and exporters.

(7) Increases/decreases in U.S. harvesting productivity due to decreases/increases in foreign harvest.

(8) Increases/decreases in U.S. processing productivity.

(9) Potential impact of increased/decreased TALFF on foreign purchases of U.S. products and services and U.S.-caught fish, changes in trade barriers, technology transfer, and other considerations.

(B)Recreational sector ACT. Recreational ACT is composed of RSA, dead discards, and the Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL).

(v)Performance review. The Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee shall conduct a detailed review of fishery performance relative to the mackerel ACL at least every 5 years.

(A) If the ACL is exceeded with a frequency greater than 25 percent (i.e., more than once in 4 years or any two consecutive years), the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Monitoring Committee will review fishery performance information and make recommendations to the MAFMC for changes in measures intended to ensure ACLs are not exceeded as frequently.

(B) The MAFMC may specify more frequent or more specific ACL performance review criteria as part of a stock rebuilding plan following a determination that a stock has become overfished.

(C) Performance reviews shall not substitute for annual reviews that occur to ascertain if prior year ACLs have been exceeded, but may be conducted in conjunction with such reviews.

(vi)River herring and shad catch cap. The Monitoring Committee shall provide recommendations regarding a cap on the catch of river herring (alewife and blueback) and shad (American and hickory) in the Atlantic mackerelfishery based on best available scientific information, as well as measures (seasonal or regional quotas, closure thresholds) necessary for implementation.

(3)Butterfish -

(i)ABC. The MAFMC's SSC shall recommend an ABC to the MAFMC, as described in § 648.20. The butterfish ABC is reduced from the OFL based on an adjustment for scientific uncertainty; the ABC must be less than or equal to the OFL.

(ii)ACL. The butterfish ACL will be set equal to the butterfish ABC.

(iii)OY. OY may not exceed the ACL, and must take into account the need to prevent overfishing while allowing the fishery to achieve OY on a continuing basis. OY is prescribed on the basis of MSY, as reduced by social, economic, and ecological factors.

(iv)ACT. The Monitoring Committee shall identify and review relevant sources of management uncertainty to recommend the butterfishACT as part of the specifications process. The ACT is composed of RSA, DAH, dead discards, and bycatch TALFF that is equal to 0.08 percent of the allocated portion of the mackerel TALFF. RSA will be based on requests for research quota as described in paragraph (g) of this section. DAH and bycatch TALFF will be set after deduction for RSA, if applicable.

(v) The butterfish mortality cap will be based on a portion of the ACT (set annually during specifications) and the specified cap amount will be allocated to the longfin squid fishery as follows: Trimester I - 43 percent; Trimester II - 17 percent; and Trimester III - 40 percent.

(vi) Any underages of the cap for Trimester I that are greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I cap will be reallocated to Trimester II and III (split equally between both trimesters) of the same year. The reallocation of the cap from Trimester I to Trimester II is limited, such that the Trimester II cap may only be increased by 50 percent; the remaining portion of the underage will be reallocated to Trimester III. Any underages of the cap for Trimester I that are less than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be applied to Trimester III of the same year. Any overages of the cap for Trimester I and II will be subtracted from Trimester III of the same year.

(vii)Performance review. The Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee shall conduct a detailed review of fishery performance relative to the butterfish ACL in conjunction with review for the mackerelfishery, as outlined in this section.

(4)Additional measures. The Monitoring Committee may also provide recommendations on the following items, if necessary:

(i) Observer provisions to maximize sampling at § 648.11(n)(2);

(ii) Exceptions for the requirement to pump/haul aboard all fish from net for inspection by at-sea observers in § 648.11(n)(3);

(c)Recommended measures. Based on the review of the data described in paragraph (b) of this section and requests for research quota as described in paragraph (g) of this section, the Monitoring Committee will recommend to the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee the measures from the following list that it determines are necessary to ensure that the specifications are not exceeded:

(1) RSA set from a range of 0 to 3 percent of:

(i) The IOY for longfin squid and/or Illex.

(ii) The commercial and/or recreational ACT for mackerel.

(iii) The ACT for butterfish.

(2) Commercial quotas, set after reductions for research quotas.

(3) The amount of longfin squid, Illex squid, and butterfish that may be retained and landed by vessels issued the incidental catch permit specified in § 648.4(a)(5)(vi), and the amount of mackerel that may be retained, possessed and landed by any of the limited access mackerel permits described at § 648.4(a)(5)(iii) and the incidental mackerel permit at § 648.4(a)(5)(iv).

(4) Commercial minimum fish sizes.

(5) Commercial trip limits.

(6) Commercial seasonal quotas/closures for longfin squid and Illex squid, and allocation for the Tier 3 Limited Access Mackerel permit.

(7) Minimum mesh sizes.

(8) Commercial gear restrictions.

(9) Recreational allocation for mackerel.

(10) Recreational minimum fish size.

(11) Recreational possession limits.

(12) Recreational season.

(13) Changes, as appropriate, to the SBRM, including the coefficient of variation (CV) based performance standard, the means by which discard data are collected/obtained, fishery stratification, the process for prioritizing observer sea-day allocations, reports, and/or industry-funded observers or observer set aside programs.

(14) Modification of existing accountability measures (AMs) utilized by the Monitoring Committee.

(d)Annual fishing measures.

(1) The Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee will review the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment received thereon, the Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish Committee must recommend to the MAFMC appropriate specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded. The MAFMC will review these recommendations and, based on the recommendations and any public comment received thereon, must recommend to the Regional Administrator appropriate specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the ACL will not be exceeded. The MAFMC's recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator will review the recommendations and will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register proposing specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and providing a 30-day public comment period. If the proposed specifications differ from those recommended by the MAFMC, the reasons for any differences must be clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the criteria set forth in this section. The MAFMC's recommendations will be available for inspection at the office of the Regional Administrator during the public comment period. If the annual specifications for squid, mackerel, and butterfish are not published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year, the previous year's annual specifications, excluding specifications of TALFF, will remain in effect. The previous year's specifications will be superceded as of the effective date of the final rule implementing the current year's annual specifications.

(2) The Regional Administrator will make a final determination concerning the specifications for each species and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded. After the Regional Administrator considers all relevant data and any public comments, notification of the final specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded and responses to the public comments will be published in the Federal Register. If the final specification amounts differ from those recommended by the MAFMC, the reason(s) for the difference(s) must be clearly stated and the revised specifications must be consistent with the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(e)Inseason adjustments. The specifications established pursuant to this section may be adjusted by the Regional Administrator, in consultation with the MAFMC, during the fishing year by publishing notification in the Federal Register.

(f)Distribution of annual longfin squid commercial quota.

(1) A commercial quota for longfin squid will be allocated annually into trimester periods, based on the following percentages: Trimester I (January-April) - 43.0 percent; Trimester II (May-August) - 17.0 percent; and Trimester III (September-December) - 40.0 percent.

(2) Any underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that are greater than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be reallocated to Trimesters II and III of the same year. The reallocation of quota from Trimester I to Trimester II is limited, such that the Trimester II quota may only be increased by 50 percent; the remaining portion of the underage will be reallocated to Trimester III. Any underages of commercial period quota for Trimester I that are less than 25 percent of the Trimester I quota will be applied to Trimester III of the same year. Any overages of commercial quota for Trimesters I and II will be subtracted from Trimester III of the same year.

(g)Research set-aside (RSA) quota. Prior to the MAFMC's quota-setting meetings:

(1) NMFS will publish a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the Federal Register, consistent with procedures and requirements established by the NOAA Grants Office, to solicit proposals from industry for the upcoming fishing year, based on research priorities identified by the MAFMC.

(2) NMFS will convene a review panel, including the MAFMC's Comprehensive Management Committee and technical experts, to review proposals submitted in response to the RFP.

(i) Each panel member will recommend which research proposals should be authorized to utilize research quota, based on the selection criteria described in the RFP.

(ii) The NEFSC Director and the NOAA Grants Office will consider each panel member's recommendation, and provide final approval of the projects. The Regional Administrator may, when appropriate, exempt selected vessel(s) from regulations specified in each of the respective FMPs through written notification to the project proponent.

(3) The grant awards approved under the RFPs will be for the upcoming fishing year. Proposals to fund research that would start prior to, or that would end after the fishing year, will not be eligible for consideration. All research and/or compensation trips must be completed within the fishing year for which the research grant was awarded.

(4) Research projects will be conducted in accordance with provisions approved and provided in an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) issued by the Regional Administrator.

(5) If a proposal is disapproved by the NEFSC Director or the NOAA Grants Office, or if the Regional Administrator determines that the allocated research quota cannot be utilized by a project, the Regional Administrator shall reallocate the unallocated or unused amount of research quota to the respective commercial and recreational fisheries by publication of a notice in the Federal Register in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act, provided:

(i) The reallocation of the unallocated or unused amount of research quota is in accord with National Standard 1, and can be available for harvest before the end of the fishing year for which the research quota is specified; and

(ii) Any reallocation of unallocated or unused research quota shall be consistent with the proportional division of quota between the commercial and recreational fisheries in the relevant FMP and allocated to the remaining quota periods for the fishing year proportionally.

(6)Vessels participating in approved research projects may be exempted from certain management measures by the Regional Administrator, provided that one of the following analyses of the impacts associated with the exemptions is provided:

(i) The analysis of the impacts of the requested exemptions is included as part of the annual quota specification packages submitted by the MAFMC; or

(ii) For proposals that require exemptions that extend beyond the scope of the analysis provided by the MAFMC, applicants may be required to provide additional analysis of impacts of the exemptions before issuance of an EFP will be considered, as specified in the EFP regulations at § 648.12(b).

[76 FR 60616, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 68656, Nov. 7, 2011; 76 FR 81848, Dec. 29, 2011; 77 FR 16480, Mar. 21, 2012; 78 FR 3353, Jan. 16, 2013; 79 FR 10048, Feb. 24, 2014; 79 FR 18481, Apr. 2, 2014; 80 FR 37194, June 30, 2015; 83 FR 64267, Dec. 14, 2018]