50 CFR 648.55 - Framework adjustments to management measures.
(a) At least biennially, the Council shall assess the status of the scallop resource, determine the adequacy of the management measures to achieve scallop resource conservation objectives, and initiate a framework adjustment to establish scallop fishery management measures for the 2-year period beginning with the scallop fishing year immediately following the year in which the action is initiated. The PDT shall prepare a Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report that provides the information and analysis needed to evaluate potential management adjustments. The framework adjustment shall establish OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT, DAS allocations, rotational area management programs, percentage allocations for limited access general category vessels in Sea Scallop Access Areas, scallop possession limits, AMs, and other measures to achieve FMP objectives and limit fishing mortality. The Council's development of rotational area management adjustments shall take into account at least the following factors: General rotation policy; boundaries and distribution of rotational closures; number of closures; minimum closure size; maximum closure extent; enforceability of rotational closed and re-opened areas; monitoring through resource surveys; and re-opening criteria. Rotational closures should be considered where projected annual change in scallop biomass is greater than 30 percent. Areas should be considered for Sea Scallop Access Areas where the projected annual change in scallop biomass is less than 15 percent.
(b) The preparation of the SAFE Report shall begin on or about June 1 of the year preceding the fishing year in which measures will be adjusted.
(c) OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT, and AMs. The Council shall specify OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT, and AMs, as applicable, for each year covered under the biennial or other framework adjustment.
(1) OFL. OFL shall be based on an updated scallop resource and fishery assessment provided by either the Scallop PDT or a formal stock assessment. OFL shall include all sources of scallop mortality and shall include an upward adjustment to account for catch of scallops in state waters by vessels not issued Federal scallop permits. The fishing mortality rate (F) associated with OFL shall be the threshold F, above which overfishing is occurring in the scallop fishery. The F associated with OFL shall be used to derive specifications for ABC, ACL, and ACT, as specified in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(5) of this section.
(2) The specification of ABC, ACL, and ACT shall be based upon the following overfishing definition: The F shall be set so that in access areas, averaged for all years combined over the period of time that the area is closed and open to scallop fishing as an access area, it does not exceed the established F threshold for the scallop fishery; in open areas it shall not exceed the F threshold for the scallop fishery; and for access and open areas combined, it is set at a level that has a 75-percent probability of remaining below the F associated with ABC, as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, taking into account all sources of fishing mortality in the limited access and LAGC fleets of the scallop fishery.
(3) ABC. The Council shall specify ABC for each year covered under the biennial or other framework adjustment. ABC shall be the catch that has an associated F that has a 75-percent probability of remaining below the F associated with OFL. ABC shall be equal to ACL for the scallop fishery.
(4) Deductions from ABC. Incidental catch, equal to the value established in § 648.53(a)(2), shall be removed from ABC/ACL. One percent of ABC/ACL shall be removed from ABC/ACL for observer set-aside. Scallop catch equal to the value specified in § 648.56(d) shall be removed from ABC/ACL for research set-aside. These deductions for incidental catch, observer set-aside, and research set-aside, shall be made prior to establishing ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets, as specified in paragraph (c)(4) of this section.
(5) Sub-ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets. The Council shall specify sub-ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets for each year covered under the biennial or other framework adjustment. After applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, a sub-ACL equal to 94.5 percent of the ABC/ACL shall be allocated to the limited access fleet. After applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, a sub-ACL of 5.5 percent of ABC/ACL shall be allocated to the LAGC fleet, so that 5 percent of ABC/ACL is allocated to the LAGC fleet of vessels that do not also have a limited access scallop permit, and 0.5 percent of the ABC/ACL is allocated to the LAGC fleet of vessels that have limited access scallop permits. This specification of sub-ACLs shall not account for catch reductions associated with the application of AMs or adjustment of the sub-ACL as a result of the limited access AM exception as specified in § 648.53(b)(4)(iii).
(6) ACT for the limited access and LAGC fleets. The Council shall specify ACTs for the limited access and LAGC fleets for each year covered under the biennial or other framework adjustment. The ACT for the limited access fishery shall be set at a level that has an associated F with a 75-percent probability of remaining below the F associated with ABC/ACL. The LAGC ACT shall be set equal to the LAGC sub-ACL as specified in paragraph (a)(5) of this section.
(7) AMs. The Council shall specify AMs for the limited access and LAGC fleets for each year covered under the biennial or other framework adjustment. For the limited access scallop fleet, AMs result in a DAS reduction for each limited access scallop vessel as specified in § 648.53(b)(4)(ii). For the LAGC scallop fleet, AMs result in an IFQ deduction for each vessel issued a LAGC scallop permit as specified in § 648.53(h)(2)(vi).
(d) Yellowtail flounder and windowpane flounder sub-ACLs. The Council shall specify the yellowtail flounder and windowpane flounder sub-ACLs allocated to the scallop fishery through the framework adjustment process specified in § 648.90.
(e) Third-year default management measures. The biennial framework action shall include default management measures that shall be effective in the third year unless replaced by the measures included in the next biennial framework action. If the biennial framework action is not published in the Federal Register with an effective date on or before March 1, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, the third-year measures shall be effective beginning March 1 of each fishing year until the framework adjustment is implemented, or for the entire fishing year if the framework adjustment is completed or is not implemented by NMFS for the third year. The framework action shall specify the measures necessary to address inconsistencies between specifications and allocations for the period after March 1 but before the framework adjustment is implemented for that year. In the case of third-year measures of a biennial adjustment being implemented, if no framework adjustment has been implemented by March 1 of the following year, the measures from the preceding year shall continue to be in effect until replaced by subsequent action.
(f) After considering the PDT's findings and recommendations, or at any other time, if the Council determines that adjustments to, or additional management measures are necessary, it shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions over the span of at least two Council meetings. To address interactions between the scallop fishery and sea turtles and other protected species, such adjustments may include proactive measures including, but not limited to, the timing of Sea Scallop Access Area openings, seasonal closures, gear modifications, increased observer coverage, and additional research. The Council shall provide the public with advance notice of the availability of both the proposals and the analyses, and opportunity to comment on them prior to and at the second Council meeting. The Council's recommendation on adjustments or additions to management measures must include measures to prevent overfishing of the available biomass of scallops and ensure that OY is achieved on a continuing basis, and must come from one or more of the following categories:
(1) Total allowable catch and DAS changes;
(2) Shell height;
(3) Offloading window reinstatement;
(4) Effort monitoring;
(5) Data reporting;
(6) Trip limits;
(7) Gear restrictions;
(8) Permitting restrictions;
(9) Crew limits;
(10) Small mesh line;
(11) Onboard observers;
(12) Modifications to the overfishing definition;
(13) VMS Demarcation Line for DAS monitoring;
(14) DAS allocations by gear type;
(15) Temporary leasing of scallop DAS requiring full public hearings;
(16) Scallop size restrictions, except a minimum size or weight of individual scallop meats in the catch;
(17) Aquaculture enhancement measures and closures;
(18) Closed areas to increase the size of scallops caught;
(19) Modifications to the opening dates of closed areas;
(20) Size and configuration of rotational management areas;
(21) Controlled access seasons to minimize bycatch and maximize yield;
(22) Area-specific trip allocations;
(23) TAC specifications and seasons following re-opening;
(24) Limits on number of area closures;
(25) Set-asides for funding research;
(26) Priorities for scallop-related research that is funded by research TAC set-aside;
(27) Finfish TACs for controlled access areas;
(28) Finfish possession limits;
(29) Sea sampling frequency;
(30) Area-specific gear limits and specifications;
(31) Modifications to provisions associated with observer set-asides; observer coverage; observer deployment; observer service provider; and/or the observer certification regulations;
(32) Specifications for IFQs for limited access general category vessels;
(33) Revisions to the cost recovery program for IFQs;
(34) Development of general category fishing industry sectors and fishing cooperatives;
(35) Adjustments to the Northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery measures;
(36) VMS requirements;
(37) Increases or decreases in the LAGC possession limit;
(38) Adjustments to aspects of ACL management;
(39) Adjusting EFH closed area management boundaries or other associated measures;
(40) Changes to the SBRM, including the 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; and
(41) Any other management measures currently included in the FMP.
(g) The Council may make recommendations to the Regional Administrator to implement measures in accordance with the procedures described in this section to address gear conflict as defined under § 600.10 of this chapter. In developing such recommendation, the Council shall define gear management areas, each not to exceed 2,700 mi 2 (6,993 km 2), and seek industry comments by referring the matter to its standing industry advisory committee for gear conflict, or to any ad hoc industry advisory committee that may be formed. The standing industry advisory committee or ad hoc committee on gear conflict shall hold public meetings seeking comments from affected fishers and develop findings and recommendations on addressing the gear conflict. After receiving the industry advisory committee findings and recommendations, or at any other time, the Council shall determine whether it is necessary to adjust or add management measures to address gear conflicts and which FMPs must be modified to address such conflicts. If the Council determines that adjustments or additional measures are necessary, it shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions for the relevant FMPs over the span of at least two Council meetings. The Council shall provide the public with advance notice of the availability of the recommendation, the appropriate justification and economic and biological analyses, and opportunity to comment on them prior to and at the second or final Council meeting before submission to the Regional Administrator. The Council's recommendation on adjustments or additions to management measures for gear conflicts must come from one or more of the following categories:
(1) Monitoring of a radio channel by fishing vessels;
(2) Fixed-gear location reporting and plotting requirements;
(3) Standards of operation when gear conflict occurs;
(4) Fixed-gear marking and setting practices;
(5) Gear restrictions for specific areas (including time and area closures);
(7) Restrictions on the maximum number of fishing vessels or amount of gear; and
(8) Special permitting conditions.
(h) The measures shall be evaluated and approved by the relevant committees with oversight authority for the affected FMPs. If there is disagreement between committees, the Council may return the proposed framework adjustment to the standing or ad hoc gear conflict committee for further review and discussion.
(i) Unless otherwise specified, after developing a framework adjustment and receiving public testimony, the Council shall make a recommendation to the Regional Administrator. The Council's recommendation must include supporting rationale and, if management measures are recommended, an analysis of impacts and a recommendation to the Regional Administrator on whether to publish the framework adjustment as a final rule. If the Council recommends that the framework adjustment should be published as a final rule, the Council must consider at least the following factors and provide support and analysis for each factor considered:
(1) Whether the availability of data on which the recommended management measures are based allows for adequate time to publish a proposed rule, and whether regulations have to be in place for an entire harvest/fishing season;
(2) Whether there has been adequate notice and opportunity for participation by the public and members of the affected industry, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, in the development of the Council's recommended management measures;
(3) Whether there is an immediate need to protect the resource or to impose management measures to resolve gear conflicts; and
(4) Whether there will be a continuing evaluation of management measures adopted following their promulgation as a final rule.
(j) If the Council's recommendation includes adjustments or additions to management measures, and if, after reviewing the Council's recommendation and supporting information:
(1) The Regional Administrator approves the Council's recommended management measures, the Secretary may, for good cause found pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, waive the requirement for a proposed rule and opportunity for public comment in the Federal Register. The Secretary, in doing so, shall publish only the final rule. Submission of a recommendation by the Council for a final rule does not affect the Secretary's responsibility to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act; or
(2) The Regional Administrator approves the Council's recommendation and determines that the recommended management measures should be published first as a proposed rule, the action shall be published as a proposed rule in the Federal Register. After additional public comment, if the Regional Administrator concurs with the Council recommendation, the action shall be published as a final rule in the Federal Register; or
(3) The Regional Administrator does not concur, the Council shall be notified, in writing, of the reasons for the non-concurrence.
(k) Nothing in this section is meant to derogate from the authority of the Secretary to take emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.