50 CFR 648.55 - Specifications and framework adjustments to management measures.

§ 648.55 Specifications and framework adjustments to management measures.

(a)Specifications.

(1) The Scallop Plan Development Team (PDT) shall meet at least every two years to assess the status of the scallop resource and to develop and recommend the following specifications for a period of up to 2 years, as well as second or third-year default measures, for consideration by the New England Fishery Management Council's Atlantic Sea Scallop Oversight Committee and Advisory Panel: OFL, overall ABC/ACL, sub-ACLs, sub-ACTs, DAS open area allocations, possession limits, modifications to rotational area management (e.g., schedule, rotational closures and openings, seasonal restrictions, modifications to boundaries, etc.), access area limited access poundage allocations and LAGC IFQ fleet-wide trip allocations, annual incidental catch target TAC, and NGOM TAC.

(2) Based on the PDT recommendations and any public comments received, the Atlantic Sea Scallop Oversight Committee shall recommend appropriate specifications to the New England Fishery Management Council.

(3) The Council shall review these recommendations and, after considering public comments, shall recommend appropriate specifications for up to 2 years, as well as second or third-year default measures, to NMFS. NMFS shall approve, disapprove, or partially approve the specifications recommended by the Council and publish the approved specifications in the Federal Register in accordance with the APA.

(4) The PDT shall prepare a Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report at least every two years that provides the information and analysis needed to evaluate potential management adjustments. 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.

(5) The PDT will meet at least once during the interim years to review the status of the stock relative to the overfishing definition if information is available to do so. If the Council determines, based on information provided by the PDT or other stock-related information, that the approved specifications should be adjusted during the 2-year time period, it can do so through the same process outlined in paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) of this section during the interim year.

(6)Rotational area management guidelines. 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 Rotational Areas where the projected annual change in scallop biomass is less than 15 percent.

(7)Second and Third-year default specifications. The specifications action shall include default specifications that shall be effective in the second year after 1-year specifications and the third year after the 2-year specifications expire until replaced by the measures included in the next specifications action. If the specifications action is not published in the Federal Register with an effective date on or before April 1, the following year's default specifications shall be effective beginning April 1 of each fishing year until any new specifications action is implemented and made effective during the second or third year, or for the entire fishing year if the specifications action is not completed or is not implemented by NMFS during the following year. The specifications action shall specify the measures necessary to address inconsistencies between specifications and default allocations for the period after April 1 but before the specifications action is implemented for that year. The default specifications, if implemented, shall remain in effect until they are revised through a subsequent specifications action.

(b) [Reserved]

(c)OFL, overall ABC/ACL, sub-ACLs, and sub-ACTs. The Council shall specify OFL, ABC, ACL, and ACT, as defined in § 648.53, for each year covered under the specifications.

(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) Reserved]

(f)Framework adjustments. The Council may at any time initiate a framework adjustment to add or adjust management measures within the Scallop FMP if it finds that action is necessary to meet or be consistent with the goals and objectives of the FMP. The Council 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 may include specifications measures specified in paragraph (a) of this section, which must satisfy the criteria set forth § 648.53(a) in order to prevent overfishing of the available biomass of scallops and ensure that OY is achieved on a continuing basis. Other measures that may be changed or implemented through framework action include:

(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, including accountability measures;

(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);

(6) VMS;

(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.

[ 76 FR 43766, July 21, 2011, as amended at 77 FR 20740, Apr. 6, 2012; 79 FR 34262, June 16, 2014; 80 FR 37194, June 30, 2015; 81 FR 76524, Nov. 3, 2016]

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