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Title 50Chapter VIPart 648 → Subpart D


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES


Subpart D—Management Measures for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery


Contents
§648.50   Shell-height standard.
§648.51   Gear and crew restrictions.
§648.52   Possession and landing limits.
§648.53   Overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), annual projected landings (APL), DAS allocations, and individual fishing quotas (IFQ).
§648.54   State waters exemption.
§648.55   Specifications and framework adjustments to management measures.
§648.56   Scallop research.
§§648.57-648.58   [Reserved]
§648.59   Sea Scallop Rotational Area Management Program and Access Area Program requirements.
§648.60   Sea Scallop Rotational Areas.
§648.61   [Reserved]
§648.62   Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program.
§648.63   General category Sectors and harvesting cooperatives.
§648.64   Flounder Stock sub-ACLs and AMs for the scallop fishery.
§648.65   [Reserved]

Source: 69 FR 35215, June 23, 2004, unless otherwise noted.

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§648.50   Shell-height standard.

(a) Minimum shell height. The minimum shell height for in-shell scallops that may be landed, or possessed at or after landing, is 3.5 inches (8.9 cm). Shell height is a straight line measurement from the hinge to the part of the shell that is farthest away from the hinge.

(b) Compliance and sampling. Any time at landing or after, including when the scallops are received or possessed by a dealer or person acting in the capacity of a dealer, compliance with the minimum shell-height standard shall be determined as follows: Samples of 40 scallops each shall be taken at random from the total amount of scallops in possession. The person in possession of the scallops may request that as many as 10 sample groups (400 scallops) be examined. A sample group fails to comply with the standard if more than 10 percent of all scallops sampled are shorter than the shell height specified. The total amount of scallops in possession shall be deemed in violation of this subpart and subject to forfeiture, if the sample group fails to comply with the minimum standard.

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§648.51   Gear and crew restrictions.

(a) Trawl vessel gear restrictions. Trawl vessels issued a limited access scallop permit under §648.4(a)(2) while fishing under or subject to the DAS allocation program for scallops and authorized to fish with or possess on board trawl nets pursuant to §648.51(f), any trawl vessels in possession of more than 40 lb (18.14 kg) of shucked, or 5 bu (176.2 L) of in-shell scallops in or from the EEZ, and any trawl vessels fishing for scallops in the EEZ, must comply with the following:

(1) Maximum sweep. The trawl sweep of nets shall not exceed 144 ft (43.9 m), as measured by the total length of the footrope that is directly attached to the webbing, unless the net is stowed and not available for immediate use, defined in §648.2, or unless the vessel is fishing under the Northeast multispecies or monkfish DAS programs.

(2) Net requirements—(i) Minimum mesh size. Subject to applicable minimum mesh size restrictions for other fisheries as specified under this part, the mesh size for any scallop trawl net in all areas shall not be smaller than 5.5 inches (13.97 cm).

(ii) Measurement of mesh size. Mesh size is measured by using a wedge-shaped gauge having a taper of 2 cm (0.79 inches) in 8 cm (3.15 inches) and a thickness of 2.3 mm (0.09 inches), inserted into the meshes under a pressure or pull of 5 kg (11.02 lb) for mesh size less than 120 mm (4.72 inches) and under a pressure or pull of 8 kg (17.64 lb) for mesh size at, or greater than, 120 mm (4.72 inches). The mesh size is the average of the measurements of any series of 20 consecutive meshes for nets having 75 or more meshes, and 10 consecutive meshes for nets having fewer than 75 meshes. The mesh in the regulated portion of the net is measured at least five meshes away from the lacings running parallel to the long axis of the net.

(3) Chafing gear and other gear obstructions—(i) Net obstruction or constriction. A fishing vessel may not use any device or material, including, but not limited to, nets, net strengtheners, ropes, lines, or chafing gear, on the top of a trawl net, except that one splitting strap and one bull rope (if present), consisting of line and rope no more than 3 inches (7.62 cm) in diameter, may be used if such splitting strap and/or bull rope does not constrict in any manner the top of the trawl net. “The top of the trawl net” means the 50 percent of the net that (in a hypothetical situation) would not be in contact with the ocean bottom during a tow if the net were laid flat on the ocean floor. For the purpose of this paragraph (a)(3), head ropes shall not be considered part of the top of the trawl net.

(ii) Mesh obstruction or constriction. A fishing vessel may not use any mesh configuration, mesh construction, or other means on or in the top of the net, as defined in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, if it obstructs the meshes of the net in any manner.

(iii) A fishing vessel may not use or possess a net capable of catching scallops in which the bars entering or exiting the knots twist around each other.

(b) Dredge vessel gear restrictions. All vessels issued limited access and General Category scallop permits and fishing with scallop dredges, with the exception of hydraulic clam dredges and mahogany quahog dredges in possession of 600 lb (181.44 kg), or less, of scallops, must comply with the following restrictions, unless otherwise specified:

(1) Maximum dredge width. The combined dredge width in use by or in possession on board such vessels shall not exceed 31 ft (9.4 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, except as provided under paragraph (e) of this section, in §648.59(g)(2), and the scallop dredge exemption areas specified in §648.80(h). However, component parts may be on board the vessel such that they do not conform with the definition of “dredge or dredge gear” in §648.2, i.e., the metal ring bag and the mouth frame, or bail, of the dredge are not attached, and such that no more than one complete spare dredge could be made from these component's parts.

(2) Minimum mesh size. The mesh size of a net, net material, or any other material on the top of a scallop dredge (twine top) possessed or used by vessels fishing with scallop dredge gear shall not be smaller than 10-inch (25.4-cm) square or diamond mesh.

(3) Minimum ring size. (i) Unless otherwise required under the Sea Scallop Area Access program specified in §648.59(b)(6), the ring size used in a scallop dredge possessed or used by scallop vessels shall not be smaller than 4 inches (10.2 cm).

(ii) Ring size is determined by measuring the shortest straight line passing through the center of the ring from one inside edge to the opposite inside edge of the ring. The measurement shall not include normal welds from ring manufacturing or links. The rings to be measured will be at least five rings away from the mouth, and at least two rings away from other rigid portions of the dredge.

(4) Chafing gear and other gear obstructions—(i) Chafing gear restrictions. No chafing gear or cookies shall be used on the top of a scallop dredge.

(ii) Link restrictions. No more than double links between rings shall be used in or on all parts of the dredge bag, except the dredge bottom. No more than triple linking shall be used in or on the dredge bottom portion and the diamonds. Damaged links that are connected to only one ring, i.e., “hangers,” are allowed, unless they occur between two links that both couple the same two rings. Dredge rings may not be attached via links to more than four adjacent rings. Thus, dredge rings must be rigged in a configuration such that, when a series of adjacent rings are held horizontally, the neighboring rings form a pattern of horizontal rows and vertical columns. A copy of a diagram showing a schematic of a legal dredge ring pattern is available from the Regional Administrator upon request.

(iii) Dredge or net obstructions. No material, device, net, dredge, ring, or link configuration or design shall be used if it results in obstructing the release of scallops that would have passed through a legal sized and configured net and dredge, as described in this part, that did not have in use any such material, device, net, dredge, ring link configuration or design.

(iv) Twine top restrictions as a proactive accountability measure for bycatch. In addition to the minimum twine top mesh size specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, limited access and limited access general category IFQ vessels may not fish for scallops with a dredge having more than seven rows of non-overlapping steel rings unobstructed by netting or any other material between the terminus of the dredge (club stick) and the net material on the top of the dredge (twine top) (a copy of a diagram showing a schematic of a legal dredge with twine top is available from the Regional Administrator upon request).

(v) Measurement of twine top mesh size. Twine top mesh size is measured by using a wedge-shaped gauge having a taper of 0.79 inches (2 cm) in 3.15 inches (8 cm) and a thickness of 0.09 inches (2.3 mm), inserted into the meshes under a pressure or pull of 17.64 lb (8 kg). The mesh size is the average of the measurements of any series of 20 consecutive meshes for twine tops having 75 or more meshes, and 10 consecutive meshes for twine tops having fewer than 75 meshes. The mesh in the twine top must be measured along the length of the twine top, running parallel to a longitudinal axis, and be at least five meshes away from where the twine top mesh meets the rings, running parallel to the long axis of the twine top.

(5) Restrictions applicable to sea scallop dredges in the mid-Atlantic—(i) Requirement to use chain mats. See §223.206(d)(11) of this chapter for chain mat requirements for scallop dredges.

(ii) Requirement to use a turtle deflector dredge (TDD) frame—(A) From May 1 through November 30, any limited access scallop vessel using a dredge, regardless of dredge size or vessel permit category, or any LAGC IFQ scallop vessel fishing with a dredge with a width of 10.5 ft (3.2 m) or greater, that is fishing for scallops in waters west of 71° W. long., from the shoreline to the outer boundary of the EEZ, must use a TDD. The TDD requires five modifications to the rigid dredge frame, as specified in paragraphs (b)(5)(ii)(A)(1) through (5) of this section. See paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(D) of this section for more specific descriptions of the dredge elements mentioned below.

(1) The cutting bar must be located in front of the depressor plate.

(2) The acute angle between the plane of the bale and the strut must be less than or equal to 45 degrees.

(3) All bale bars must be removed, except the outer bale (single or double) bars and the center support beam, leaving an otherwise unobstructed space between the cutting bar and forward bale wheels, if present. The center support beam must be less than 6 inches (15.24 cm) wide. For the purpose of flaring and safe handling of the dredge, a minor appendage not to exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length may be attached to each of the outer bale bars. If the flaring bar is attached in a u-shape, none of the three sides of the flaring bar shall exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length. The appendage shall at no point be closer than 12 inches (30.5 cm) to the cutting bar.

(4) Struts must be spaced 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart or less from each other, along the entire length of the frame.

(5) Unless exempted, as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(B) of this section, the TDD must include a straight extension (“bump out”) connecting the outer bale bars to the dredge frame. This “bump out” must exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length, as measured along the inside of the bale bar from the front of the cutting bar to the first bend in the bale bar.

(B) A limited access scallop vessel that uses a dredge with a width less than 10.5 ft (3.2 m) is required to use a TDD, except that such a vessel is exempt from the “bump out” requirement specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(A)(5) of this section. This exemption does not apply to LAGC vessels that use dredges with a width of less than 10.5 ft (3.2 m), because such vessels are exempted from the requirement to use a TDD, as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section.

(C) A vessels subject to the requirements in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section transiting waters west of 71° W. long., from the shoreline to the outer boundary of the EEZ, is exempted from the requirement to only possess and use TDDs, provided the dredge gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(D) TDD-related definitions. (1) The cutting bar refers to the lowermost horizontal bar connecting the outer bails at the dredge frame.

(2) The depressor plate, also known as the pressure plate, is the angled piece of steel welded along the length of the top of the dredge frame.

(3) The struts are the metal bars connecting the cutting bar and the depressor plate.

(c) Crew restrictions. A limited access vessel participating in or subject to the scallop DAS allocation program may have no more than seven people aboard, including the operator, and a limited access vessel participating in the Sea Scallop Area Access Program as specified in §648.59 may have no more than eight people aboard, including the operator, when not docked or moored in port, except as follows:

(1) A vessel fishing in the Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep Access Area, as described in §648.60(e), may have no more than 10 people aboard, including the operator, when not docked or moored in port.

(2) A vessel participating in the small dredge program is restricted as specified in paragraph (e) of this section.

(3) The Regional Administrator may authorize additional people to be on board through issuance of a letter of authorization.

(4) A certified at-sea observer is on board, as required by §648.11(k).

(d) Sorting and shucking machines. (1) Shucking machines are prohibited on all limited access vessels fishing under the scallop DAS program, or any vessel in possession of more than 600 lb (272.2 kg) of scallops, unless the vessel has not been issued a limited access scallop permit and fishes exclusively in state waters.

(2) Sorting machines are prohibited on limited access vessels fishing under the scallop DAS program.

(e) Small dredge program restrictions. Any vessel owner whose vessel is assigned to either the part-time or Occasional category may request, in the application for the vessel's annual permit, to be placed in one category higher. Vessel owners making such request may be placed in the appropriate higher category for the entire year, if they agree to comply with the following restrictions, in addition to, and notwithstanding other restrictions of this part, when fishing under the DAS program described in §648.53:

(1) The vessel must fish exclusively with one dredge no more than 10.5 ft (3.2 m) in width.

(2) The vessel may not use or have more than one dredge on board. However, component parts may be on board the vessel such that they do not conform with the definition of “dredge or dredge gear” in §648.2, i.e., the metal ring bag and the mouth frame, or bail, of the dredge are not attached, and no more than one complete spare dredge could be made from these component's parts.

(3) The vessel may have no more than five people, including the operator, on board, except as follows:

(i) A vessel participating in the Sea Scallop Area Access Program as specified in §648.60 may have no more than six people, including the operator, on board.

(ii) The Regional Administrator may authorize additional people to be on board through issuance of a letter of authorization.

(iii) A certified at-sea observer is on board, as required by §648.11(k).

(iv) A vessel fishing in the Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep Access Area, as described in §648.60(e), may have no more than 8 people aboard, including the operator, when not docked or moored in port.

(f) Restrictions on the use of trawl nets. (1) A vessel issued a limited access scallop permit fishing for scallops under the scallop DAS allocation program may not fish with, possess on board, or land scallops while in possession of a trawl net, unless such vessel has been issued a limited access trawl vessel permit that endorses the vessel to fish for scallops with a trawl net. A limited access scallop vessel issued a trawl vessel permit that endorses the vessel to fish for scallops with a trawl net and general category scallop vessels enrolled in the Area Access Program as specified in §648.59, may not fish for scallops with a trawl net in the Closed Area 1, Closed Area II, Closed Area II Extension, and Nantucket Lightship Rotational Areas specified in §648.60.

(2) Replacement vessels. A vessel that is replacing a vessel authorized to use trawl nets to fish for scallops under scallop DAS may also be authorized to use trawl nets to fish for scallops under scallop DAS if it meets the following criteria:

(i) Has not fished for scallops with a scallop dredge after December 31, 1987; or

(ii) Has fished for scallops with a scallop dredge on no more than 10 trips from January 1, 1988, through December 31, 1994, has an engine horsepower no greater than 450.

[69 FR 35215, June 23, 2004]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §648.51, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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§648.52   Possession and landing limits.

(a) A vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit that is declared into the IFQ scallop fishery as specified in §648.10(b), or on a properly declared NE multispecies, surfclam, or ocean quahog trip (or other fishery requiring a VMS declaration) and not fishing in a scallop access area, unless as specified in paragraph (g) of this section or exempted under the state waters exemption program described in §648.54, may not possess or land, per trip, more than 600 lb (272.2 kg) of shucked scallops, or possess more than 75 bu (26.4 hL) of in-shell scallops shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line. Such a vessel may land scallops only once in any calendar day. Such a vessel may possess up to 100 bu (35.2 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line on a properly declared IFQ scallop trip, or on a properly declared NE multispecies, surfclam, or ocean quahog trip, or other fishery requiring a VMS declaration, and not fishing in a scallop access area.

(b) A vessel issued an NGOM scallop permit, or an IFQ scallop permit that is declared into the NGOM scallop fishery as described in §648.62, unless exempted under the state waters exemption program described under §648.54, may not possess or land, per trip, more than 200 lb (90.7 kg) of shucked scallops, or possess more than 25 bu (8.81 hL) of in-shell scallops shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line. Such a vessel may land scallops only once in any calendar day. Such a vessel may possess up to 50 bu (17.6 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS demarcation line on a properly declared NGOM scallop fishery trip.

(c) A vessel issued an Incidental scallop permit, or an IFQ scallop permit that is not declared into the IFQ scallop fishery or on a properly declared NE multispecies, surfclam, or ocean quahog trip or other fishery requiring a VMS declaration as required under §648.10(f), unless exempted under the state waters exemption program described under §648.54, may not possess or land, per trip, more than 40 lb (18.1 kg) of shucked scallops, or possess more than 5 bu (1.76 hL) of in-shell scallops shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line. Such a vessel may land scallops only once in any calendar day. Such a vessel may possess up to 10 bu (3.52 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line.

(d) Owners or operators of vessels with a limited access scallop permit that have properly declared into the Sea Scallop Area Access Program as described in §648.59 are prohibited from fishing for or landing per trip, or possessing at any time, scallops in excess of any sea scallop possession and landing limit set by the Regional Administrator in accordance with §648.59(b)(5).

(e) Owners or operators of vessels issued limited access permits are prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing per trip more than 50 bu (17.6 hl) of in-shell scallops shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line, unless when fishing under the state waters exemption specified under §648.54.

(f) A limited access vessel or an LAGC vessel that is declared into the Sea Scallop Area Access Program as described in §648.59, may not possess more than 50 bu (17.6 hL) or 75 bu (26.4 hL), respectively, of in-shell scallops outside of the Access Areas described in §648.60.

(g) Possession limit to defray the cost of observers for LAGC IFQ vessels. An LAGC IFQ vessel with an observer on board may retain, per observed trip, an allowance of scallops in addition to the possession limit, as established by the Regional Administrator in accordance with §648.59(d), provided the observer set-aside specified in §648.59(d)(1) has not been fully utilized. For example, if the LAGC IFQ vessel possession limit is 600 lb (272.2 kg) and the additional allowance to defray the cost of an observer is 200 lb (90.7 kg), the vessel could retain up to 800 lb (362.9 kg) when carrying an observer, regardless of trip length. If a vessel does not land its additional allowance on the trip while carrying an observer, the additional allowance will be added to the vessel's IFQ allocation, and it may land it on a subsequent trip. However, the vessel may not exceed the IFQ trip possession limit as described in §648.52(a) unless it is actively carrying an observer.

[73 FR 20122, Apr. 14, 2008, as amended at 74 FR 20555, May 4, 2009; 75 FR 36569, June 28, 2010; 76 FR 43763, July 21, 2011; 78 FR 27100, May 9, 2013; 81 FR 26375, May 4, 2016; 81 FR 76521, Nov. 3, 2016; 82 FR 15161, Mar. 27, 2017; 84 FR 11442, Apr. 1, 2019; 85 FR 17761, Mar. 31, 2020]

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§648.53   Overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), annual catch targets (ACT), annual projected landings (APL), DAS allocations, and individual fishing quotas (IFQ).

(a) The following determinations and allocations for the sea scallop rotational areas are defined as follows and shall be established through the specifications or framework adjustment process:

(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 (i.e. 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 defined in paragraph (a) 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 defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, taking into account all sources of fishing mortality in the limited access and LAGC fleets of the scallop fishery.

(3) Overall ABC/ACL and APL—(i) Overall ABC/ACL. The overall ABC for sea scallop fishery shall be the catch level that has an associated F that has a 75-percent probability of remaining below the F associated with OFL. The overall ACL shall be equal to the ABC for the scallop fishery, minus discards (an estimate of both incidental and discard mortality). The ABC/ACL, after the discards and deductions specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section are removed, shall be divided as sub-ACLs between limited access vessels, limited access vessels that are fishing under a LAGC permit, and LAGC vessels as defined in paragraphs (a)(5) and (6) of this section, after the deductions outlined in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(ii) APL. The APL shall be equal to the combined projected landings by the limited access and LAGC IFQ fleets in both the open area and access areas, after set-asides (RSA and observer) and incidental landings are accounted for, for a given fishing year. Projected scallop landings are calculated by estimating the landings that will come from open and access area effort combined for both limited access and LAGC IFQ fleets. These projected landings shall not exceed the overall ABC/ACL and ACT, as described in paragraph (a) of this section.

(4) Deductions from ABC/ACL. Incidental catch, as defined in paragraph (a)(7) of this section, 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 sub-ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets, as specified in paragraphs (a)(5) and (6) of this section.

(5) Limited access fleet sub-ACL and sub-ACT—(i) Limited access fleet sub-ACL. After applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the limited access scallop fleet shall be allocated a sub-ACL equal to 94.5 percent of the ABC/ACL.

(ii) Limited access fleet sub-ACT. 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.

(6) LAGC IFQ fleet sub-ACL, sub-ACT, and annual allocation—(i) LAGC IFQ fleet sub-ACL. After applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the LAGC IFQ fleet shall be allocated a sub-ACL equal to 5.5 percent of the ABC/ACL, 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 paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(ii) LAGC IFQ fleet sub-ACT. The LAGC IFQ fishery sub-ACT shall be equal to the LAGC IFQ fishery's sub-ACL. The sub-ACT for the LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued only a LAGC IFQ scallop permit shall be equal to 5 percent of the ABC/ACL specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, after applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section. The sub-ACT for the LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued both a LAGC IFQ scallop permit and a limited access scallop permit shall be 0.5 percent of the ACL specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, after applying the deductions as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(iii) LAGC IFQ fleet annual allocation. (A) The annual allocation for the LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued an LAGC IFQ scallop permit and not also issued a limited access permit shall be equal to 5 percent of the APL. The annual allocation for the LAGC IFQ fishery for vessels issued both a LAGC IFQ scallop permit and a limited access scallop permit shall be 0.5 percent of the APL.

(B) Standardized default LAGC IFQ allocation. Unless otherwise specified by the Council through the framework adjustment or specifications process defined in §648.55, after the first-year allocation expires, the second-year default allocation, as described in §648.55(a), shall be set at 75 percent of the first-year allocation for all vessels issued an LAGC IFQ scallop permit and not also issued a limited access permit and for vessels issued both an LAGC IFQ scallop permit and a limited access scallop permit. After the second-year default allocation expires, the third year allocation would be set to zero until replaced by subsequent allocations.

(7) Scallop incidental catch target TAC. The annual incidental catch target TAC is the catch available for harvest for vessels with incidental catch scallop permits. This incidental catch target will be removed from the ABC/ACL defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section prior to establishing the limited access and LAGC IFQ sub-ACLs and sub-ACTs defined in paragraphs (a)(5) and (6) of this section.

(8) Scallop fishery catch limits. The following catch limits will be effective for the 2020 and 2021 fishing years:

Table 1 to Paragraph (a)(8)—Scallop Fishery Catch Limits

Catch limits2020
(mt)
2021
(mt)1
Overfishing Limit56,18647,503
Acceptable Biological Catch/ACL (discards removed)45,41436,435
Incidental Catch2323
Research Set-Aside (RSA)567567
Observer Set-Aside454364
ACL for fishery44,37035,481
Limited Access ACL41,93033,530
LAGC Total ACL2,4401,951
LAGC IFQ ACL (5 percent of ACL)2,2191,774
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ ACL (0.5 percent of ACL)222177
Limited Access ACT37,81930,242
APL (after set-asides removed)22,370(1)
Limited Access Projected Landings (94.5 percent of APL)21,140(1)
Total IFQ Annual Allocation (5.5 percent of APL)21,230923
LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (5 percent of APL)21,119839
Limited Access with LAGC IFQ Annual Allocation (0.5 percent of APL)211284

1The catch limits for the 2021 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. This includes the setting of an APL for 2021 that will be based on the 2020 annual scallop surveys. The 2021 default allocations for the limited access component are defined for DAS in paragraph (b)(3) of this section and for access areas in §648.59(b)(3)(i)(B).

2As specified in paragraph (a)(6)(iii)(B) of this section, the 2021 IFQ annual allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2020 IFQ Annual Allocations.

(b) DAS specifications and allocations. DAS specifications and allocations for limited access scallop trips in open areas are defined as follows and shall be specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, as follows:

(1) DAS allocations. DAS allocations shall be determined by distributing the portion of the limited access ACT defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, as reduced by access area allocations defined in §648.59, and dividing that amount among vessels in the form of DAS calculated by applying estimates of open area landings per unit effort (LPUE) projected through the specifications or framework adjustment processes used to set annual allocations.

(2) Assignment to DAS categories—(i) Limited access vessels shall be categorized as full-time, part-time, or occasional. Allocations for part-time and occasional scallop vessels shall be 40 percent and 8.33 percent of the full-time DAS allocations, respectively.

(ii) Subject to the vessel permit application requirements specified in §648.4, for each fishing year, each vessel issued a limited access scallop permit shall be assigned to the DAS category (full-time, part-time, or occasional) it was assigned to in the preceding year, except as provided under the small dredge program specified in §648.51(e).

(3) DAS allocations. The DAS allocations for limited access scallop vessels for fishing years 2020 and 2021 are as follows:

Table 2 to Paragraph (b)(3)—Scallop Open Area DAS Allocations

Permit category202020211
Full-Time24.0018.00
Part-Time9.607.20
Occasional2.001.5

1The DAS allocations for the 2021 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment. The 2021 DAS allocations are set at 75 percent of the 2020 allocation as a precautionary measure.

(4) Standardized default DAS allocations. Unless otherwise specified by the Council through the framework adjustment or specifications process defined in §648.55, after the first-year allocations expire, the second-year default limited access DAS allocations, as described in §648.55(a), shall be set at 75 percent of the first-year allocation. After the second-year default allocation expires, the third year allocation would be set to zero until replaced by subsequent allocations.

(c) Accountability measures (AM) for limited access vessels. Unless the limited access AM exception is implemented in accordance with the provision specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, if the limited access sub-ACL defined in paragraph (a)(5) of this section is exceeded for the applicable fishing year, the DAS for each limited access vessel shall be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of landings in excess of the sub-ACL divided by the applicable LPUE for the fishing year in which the AM will apply as projected by the specifications or framework adjustment process specified in §648.55, then divided by the number of scallop vessels eligible to be issued a full-time limited access scallop permit. For example, assuming a 300,000-lb (136-mt) overage of the limited access fishery's sub-ACL in Year 1, an open area LPUE of 2,500 lb (1.13 mt) per DAS in Year 2, and 313 full-time vessels, each full-time vessel's DAS for Year 2 would be reduced by 0.38 DAS (300,000 lb (136 mt)/2,500 lb (1.13 mt) per DAS = 120 lb (0.05 mt) per DAS/313 vessels = 0.38 DAS per vessel). Deductions in DAS for part-time and occasional scallop vessels shall be 40 percent and 8.33 percent of the full-time DAS deduction, respectively, as calculated pursuant to paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The AM shall take effect in the fishing year following the fishing year in which the overage occurred. For example, landings in excess of the limited access fishery's sub-ACL in Year 1 would result in the DAS reduction AM in Year 2. If the AM takes effect, and a limited access vessel uses more open area DAS in the fishing year in which the AM is applied, the vessel shall have the DAS used in excess of the allocation after applying the AM deducted from its open area DAS allocation in the subsequent fishing year. For example, a vessel initially allocated 32 DAS in Year 1 uses all 32 DAS prior to application of the AM. If, after application of the AM, the vessel's DAS allocation is reduced to 31 DAS, the vessel's DAS in Year 2 would be reduced by 1 DAS.

(1) Limited access AM exception. If NMFS determines that the fishing mortality rate associated with the limited access fleet's landings in a fishing year is less than 0.46, the AM specified in paragraph (c) of this section shall not take effect. The fishing mortality rate of 0.46 is the fishing mortality rate that is one standard deviation below the fishing mortality rate for the scallop fishery ACL, currently estimated at 0.51.

(2) Limited access fleet AM and exception provision timing. The Regional Administrator shall determine whether the limited access fleet exceeded its sub-ACL, defined in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, by July of the fishing year following the year for which landings are being evaluated. On or about July 1, the Regional Administrator shall notify the New England Fishery Management Council of the determination of whether or not the sub-ACL for the limited access fleet was exceeded, and the number of landings in excess of the sub-ACL. Upon this notification, the Scallop Plan Development Team (PDT) shall evaluate the overage and determine if the fishing mortality rate associated with total landings by the limited access scallop fleet is less than 0.46. On or about September 1 of each year, the Scallop PDT shall notify the Council of its determination, and the Council, on or about September 30, shall make a recommendation, based on the Scallop PDT findings, concerning whether to invoke the limited access AM exception. If NMFS concurs with the Scallop PDT's recommendation to invoke the limited access AM exception, in accordance with the APA, the limited access AM shall not be implemented. If NMFS does not concur, in accordance with the APA, the limited access AM shall be implemented as soon as possible after September 30 each year.

(d) End-of-year carry-over for open area DAS. With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in §648.4(a)(2)(i)(J) for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over year, limited access vessels that have unused open area DAS on the last day of March of any year may carry over a maximum of 10 DAS, not to exceed the total open area DAS allocation by permit category, into the next year. DAS carried over into the next fishing year may only be used in open areas. Carry-over DAS are accounted for in setting the sub-ACT for the limited access fleet, as defined in paragraph (a)(5)(ii) of this section. Therefore, if carry-over DAS result or contribute to an overage of the ACL, the limited access fleet AM specified in paragraph (c) of this section would still apply, provided the AM exception specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section is not invoked.

(e) Accrual of DAS. All DAS fished shall be charged to the nearest minute. A vessel carrying an observer and authorized to be charged fewer DAS in Open Areas based on the total available DAS set aside under paragraph (g) of this section shall be charged at a reduced rate as specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(f) DAS credits—(1) Good Samaritan credit. A limited access vessel operating under the DAS program and that spends time at sea assisting in a USCG search and rescue operation or assisting the USCG in towing a disabled vessel, and that can document the occurrence through the USCG, will not accrue DAS for the time documented.

(2) Canceled trip DAS credit. A limited access vessel operating under the DAS program and that ends a fishing trip prior to setting and/or hauling fishing gear for any reason may request a cancelled trip DAS credit for the trip based on the following conditions and requirements:

(i) There is no fish onboard the vessel and no fishing operations on the vessel were initiated, including setting and/or hauling fishing gear; and

(ii) The owner or operator of the vessel fishing under a DAS program and required to use a VMS as specified under §648.10(b) makes an initial trip cancelation notification from sea, at the time the trip was canceled, or at the earliest opportunity prior to crossing the demarcation line as defined at §648.10(a). These reports are in the form of an email to NMFS Office of Law Enforcement and include at least the following information: Operator name; vessel name; vessel permit number; port where vessel will return; date trip started; estimated date/time of return to port; and a statement by the operator that no fish were onboard and no fishing activity occurred; and

(iii) The owner or operator of the vessel operating under the DAS program required to use the IVR call in as specified under §648.10(h) makes an initial trip cancelation notification to NMFS by calling the IVR back at the time the trip was canceled, or at the earliest opportunity prior to returning to port. This request must include at least the following information: Operator name; vessel name; vessel permit number; port where vessel will return; date trip started; estimated date/time of return to port; and a statement from the operator that no fish were onboard and no fishing activity occurred; and

(iv) The owner or operator of the vessel requesting a canceled trip DAS credit, in addition to the requirements in paragraphs (f)(2)(ii) and (iii) of this section, submits a written DAS credit request form to NMFS within 30 days of the vessel's return to port from the canceled trip. This application must include at least the following information: Date and time when the vessel canceled the fishing trip; date and time of trip departure and landing; operator name; owner/corporation name; permit number; hull identification number; vessel name; date and time notification requirements specified under paragraphs (f)(2)(ii) and (iii) of this section were made; reason for canceling the trip; and owner/operator signature and date; and

(v) The vessel trip report for the canceled trip as required under §648.7(b) is submitted along with the DAS credit request form; and

(vi) For DAS credits that are requested near the end of the fishing year as defined at §648.2, and approved by the Regional Administrator, the credited DAS apply to the fishing year in which the canceled trip occurred. Credited DAS that remain unused at the end of the fishing year or that are not credited until the following fishing year may be carried over into the next fishing year, not to exceed the maximum number of carryover DAS as specified under paragraph (d) of this section.

(3) Limited access scallop vessels fishing under the DAS program and landing scallops at a port located at or south of 39° N. Lat. If landing scallops at a port located at or south of 39° N. lat., a limited access vessel participating in the scallop DAS program may end its DAS trip once shoreward of the VMS Demarcation Line at or south of 39° N. lat. by declaring out of the scallop fishery. Once declared out of the scallop fishery, the vessel may cross seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line and steam to ports at or south of 39° N. lat., to land scallops while not on a DAS, provided that the vessel complies with the following requirements:

(i) The vessel must submit a Scallop Pre-landing Notification Form, as specified at §648.10(f)(4)(iv);

(ii) The vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2;

(iii) The vessel must return directly to port and offload scallops;

(iv) The vessel must land scallops at a port located at or south of 39° N. lat.; and

(v) The vessel may not possess in-shell scallops.

(g) Set-asides for observer coverage. (1) To help defray the cost of carrying an observer, 1 percent of the ABC/ACL defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section shall be set aside to be used by vessels that are assigned to take an at-sea observer on a trip. This observer set-aside is specified through the specifications or framework adjustment process defined in §648.55.

(2) At the start of each scallop fishing year, the observer set-aside specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section initially shall be divided proportionally by access and open areas, based on the amount of effort allocated into each area, in order to set the compensation and coverage rates. NMFS shall monitor the observer set-aside usage and may transfer set-aside from one area to another if one area is using more or less set-aside than originally anticipated. The set-aside may be transferred from one area to another, based on NMFS in-house area-level monitoring that determines whether one area will likely have excess set-aside while another may not. The set-aside shall be considered completely harvested when the full one percent is landed, at which point there would be no more compensation for any observed scallop trip, regardless of area. NMFS shall continue to proactively adjust compensation rates and/or observer coverage levels mid-year in order to minimize the chance that the set-aside would be harvested prior to the end of the FY. Utilization of the set-aside shall be on a first-come, first-served basis. When the set-aside for observer coverage has been utilized, vessel owners shall be notified that no additional scallop catch or DAS remain available to offset the cost of carrying observers. The obligation to carry and pay for an observer shall not be waived if set-aside is not available.

(3) DAS set-aside for observer coverage. A limited access scallop vessel carrying an observer in open areas shall be compensated with reduced DAS accrual rates for each trip on which the vessel carries an observer. For each DAS that a vessel fishes for scallops with an observer on board, the DAS shall be charged at a reduced rate, based on an adjustment factor determined by the Regional Administrator on an annual basis, dependent on the cost of observers, catch rates, and amount of available set-aside. The Regional Administrator shall notify vessel owners of the cost of observers and the DAS adjustment factor through a permit holder letter issued prior to the start of each fishing year. This DAS adjustment factor may also be changed during the fishing year if fishery conditions warrant such a change. The number of DAS that are deducted from each trip based on the adjustment factor shall be deducted from the observer set-aside amount in the applicable fishing year.

(h) Annual IFQs—(1) IFQ restriction. For each fishing year of the IFQ program, a vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit may only harvest and land the total amount of scallop meats allocated in accordance with this subpart. Unless otherwise specified in this part, a vessel allocated scallop IFQ may not exceed the possession limits specified in §648.52 on any trip.

(2) Calculation of IFQ. The LAGC IFQ fleet annual allocation as defined in paragraph (a)(6)(iii) of this section, shall be used to determine the IFQ of each vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit. Each fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall provide the owner of a vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit issued pursuant to §648.4(a)(2)(ii) with the scallop IFQ for the vessel for the upcoming fishing year.

(i) IFQ. The IFQ for an IFQ scallop vessel shall be the vessel's contribution percentage as specified in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section and determined using the steps specified in paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section, multiplied by the LAGC IFQ fleet annual allocation as defined in paragraph (a)(6)(iii) of this section.

(ii) Contribution factor. An IFQ scallop vessel's contribution factor is calculated using the best year, years active, and index factor as specified in paragraphs (h)(2)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section. A vessel's contribution factor shall be provided to the owner of a qualified limited access general category vessel following initial application for an IFQ scallop permit as specified in §648.4(a)(2)(ii)(E), consistent with confidentiality restrictions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act specified at 16 U.S.C. 1881a.

(A) Best year determination. An eligible IFQ scallop vessel's highest scallop landings in any scallop fishing year that the vessel was issued a general category scallop permit between March 1, 2000, and November 1, 2004, shall be determined using NMFS dealer reports. Scallop landings in the 2004 fishing year must have occurred on or before November 1, 2004. If a dealer reported more than 400 lb (181.4 kg) of scallops landed on a trip, only 400 lb (181.4 kg) will be credited for that trip toward the best year calculation. For dealer reports that indicate clearly that the landings were bushels of in-shell scallops, a conversion of 8.33 lb (3.78 kg) of scallop meats per bushel shall be used to calculate meat-weight, up to a maximum of 400 lb (181.4 kg) per trip.

(B) Years active. For each eligible IFQ scallop vessel, the total number of scallop fishing years during the period March 1, 2000, through November 1, 2004, in which the vessel had a general category scallop permit and landed at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of scallop meats, or in-shell scallops, shall be counted as active years based on NMFS dealer reports. Scallop landings in the 2004 fishing year must have occurred on or before November 1, 2004.

(C) Index to determine contribution factor. For each eligible IFQ scallop vessel, the best year as determined pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(E)(1) of this section shall be multiplied by the appropriate index factor specified in the following table, based on years active as specified in paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(E)(2) of this section. The resulting contribution factor shall determine its IFQ for each fishing year based on the allocation to general category scallop vessels as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section and the method of calculating the IFQ provided in paragraph (h) of this section.

Years activeIndex factor
10.75
20.875
31.0
41.125
51.25

(D) Contribution factor example. If a vessel landed 48,550 lb (22,022 kg) of scallops in its best year, and was active in the general category scallop fishery for 5 years, the vessel's contribution factor is equal to 60,687 lb (27,527 kg) (48,550 lb (22,022 kg * 1.25).

(iii) Contribution percentage. A vessel's contribution percentage shall be determined by dividing its contribution factor by the sum of the contribution factors of all vessels issued an IFQ scallop permit. Continuing the example in paragraph (h)(1)(ii)(D) of this section, the sum of the contribution factors for 380 IFQ scallop vessels is estimated for the purpose of this example to be 4.18 million lb (1,896 mt). The contribution percentage of the above vessel is 1.45 percent (60,687 lb (27,527 kg)/4.18 million lb (1,896 mt) = 1.45 percent). The contribution percentage for a vessel that is issued an IFQ scallop permit and whose owner has permanently transferred all of its IFQ to another IFQ vessel, as specified in paragraph (h)(5)(ii) of this section, shall be equal to 0 percent.

(iv) Vessel IFQ Example. Continuing the example in paragraphs (h)(1)(ii)(D) and (h)(1)(iii) of this section, with an ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels estimated for this example to be equal to 2.5 million lb (1,134 mt), the vessel's IFQ would be 36,250 lb (16,443 kg) (1.45 percent * 2.5 million lb (1,134 mt)).

(v) End-of-year carry-over for IFQ. (A) With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in §648.4(a)(2)(ii)(L) for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over year, LAGC IFQ vessels that have unused IFQ on the last day of March of any year may carry over up to 15 percent of the vessel's original IFQ plus the total of IFQ transferred to such vessel minus the total IFQ transferred from such vessel (either temporary or permanent) IFQ into the next fishing year. For example, a vessel with a 10,000-lb (4,536-kg) IFQ and 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) of leased IFQ may carry over 2,250 lb (1,020 kg) of IFQ (i.e., 15 percent of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg)) into the next fishing year if it landed 12,750 lb (5,783 kg) (i.e., 85 percent of 15,000 lb (6,804 kg)) of scallops or less in the preceding fishing year. Using the same IFQ values from the example, if the vessel landed 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) of scallops, it could carry over 1,000 lb (454 kg) of scallops into the next fishing year.

(B) With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in §648.4(a)(2)(ii)(L) for the entirety of fishing year 2019, LAGC IFQ vessels that have unused IFQ on the last day of March of fishing year 2019 may carry 100 percent of the vessel's unharvested IFQ into fishing year 2020.

(vi) AM for the IFQ fleet. If a vessel exceeds its IFQ, including all temporarily and permanently transferred IFQ, in a fishing year, the amount of landings in excess of the vessel's IFQ, including all temporarily and permanently transferred IFQ, shall be deducted from the vessel's IFQ as soon as possible in the fishing year following the fishing year in which the vessel exceeded its IFQ. If the AM takes effect, and an IFQ vessel lands more scallops than allocated after the AM is applied, the vessel shall have the IFQ landed in excess of its IFQ after applying the AM deducted from its IFQ in the subsequent fishing year. For example, a vessel with an initial IFQ of 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) in 2010 that lands 1,200 lb (544.3 kg) of scallops in 2010, and is initially allocated 1,300 lb (589.7 kg) of scallops in 2011 would be subject to an IFQ reduction equal to 200 lb (90.7 kg) to account for the 200 lb (90.7 kg) overage in 2010. If that vessel lands 1,300 lb (589.7 kg) of scallops in 2011 prior to application of the 200 lb (90.7 kg) deduction, the vessel would be subject to a deduction of 200 lb (90.7 kg) in 2012. For vessels involved in a temporary IFQ transfer, the entire deduction shall apply to the vessel that acquired IFQ, not the transferring vessel. A vessel that has an overage that exceeds its IFQ in the subsequent fishing year shall be subject to an IFQ reduction in subsequent years until the overage is paid back. For example, a vessel with an IFQ of 1,000 lb (454 kg) in each year over a 3-year period that harvests 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) of scallops the first year would have a 1,500-lb (680-kg) IFQ deduction, so that it would have zero pounds to harvest in year 2, and 500 lb (227 kg) to harvest in year 3. A vessel that has a “negative” IFQ balance, as described in the example, could lease or transfer IFQ to balance the IFQ, provided there are no sanctions or other enforcement penalties that would prohibit the vessel from acquiring IFQ.

(3) IFQ ownership restrictions—(i) IFQ scallop vessel IFQ cap. (A) Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (h)(3)(i)(B) and (C) of this section, a vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit or confirmation of permit history shall not be issued more than 2.5 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(6) of this section.

(B) A vessel may be initially issued more than 2.5 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(6) of this section, if the initial determination of its contribution factor specified in accordance with §648.4(a)(2)(ii)(E) and paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section, results in an IFQ that exceeds 2.5 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(6) of this section. A vessel that is allocated an IFQ that exceeds 2.5 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(6) of this section, in accordance with this paragraph (h)(3)(i)(B), may not receive IFQ through an IFQ transfer, as specified in paragraph (h)(5) of this section. All scallops that have been allocated as part of the original IFQ allocation or transferred to a vessel during a given fishing year shall be counted towards the vessel cap.

(C) A vessel initially issued a 2008 IFQ scallop permit or confirmation of permit history, or that was issued or renewed a limited access scallop permit or confirmation of permit history for a vessel in 2009 and thereafter, in compliance with the ownership restrictions in paragraph (h)(3)(i)(A) of this section, is eligible to renew such permit(s) and/or confirmation(s) of permit history, regardless of whether the renewal of the permit or confirmations of permit history will result in the 2.5-percent IFQ cap restriction being exceeded.

(ii) IFQ ownership cap. (A) For any vessel acquired after June 1, 2008, a vessel owner is not eligible to be issued an IFQ scallop permit for the vessel, and/or a confirmation of permit history, and is not eligible to transfer IFQ to the vessel, if, as a result of the issuance of the permit and/or confirmation of permit history, or IFQ transfer, the vessel owner, or any other person who is a shareholder or partner of the vessel owner, will have an ownership interest in more than 5 percent of the sub-ACL allocated to the IFQ scallop vessels as described in paragraph (a)(6) of this section.

(B) Vessel owners who were initially issued a 2008 IFQ scallop permit or confirmation of permit history, or who were issued or renewed a limited access scallop permit or confirmation of permit history for a vessel in 2009 and thereafter, in compliance with the ownership restrictions in paragraph (h)(3)(ii)(A) of this section, are eligible to renew such permits(s) and/or confirmation(s) of permit history, regardless of whether the renewal of the permits or confirmations of permit history will result in the 5-percent ownership restriction being exceeded.

(C) Having an ownership interest includes, but is not limited to, persons who are shareholders in a vessel owned by a corporation, who are partners (general or limited) to a vessel owner, or who, in any way, partly own a vessel.

(iii) Limited access scallop vessels that have been issued an IFQ scallop permit. The IFQ scallop vessel IFQ cap and IFQ ownership cap specified in this paragraph (h)(3) do not apply to limited access scallop vessels that are also issued a limited access general category scallop permit because such vessels are already subject to an ownership limitation, as specified in §648.4(a)(2)(i)(M).

(4) IFQ cost recovery. A fee, not to exceed 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of IFQ scallops harvested, shall be collected to recover the costs associated with management, data collection, and enforcement of the IFQ program. The owner of a vessel issued an IFQ scallop permit and subject to the IFQ program specified in this paragraph (h)(4), shall be responsible for paying the fee as specified by NMFS in this paragraph (h)(4). An IFQ scallop vessel shall incur a cost recovery fee liability for every landing of IFQ scallops. The IFQ scallop permit holder shall be responsible for collecting the fee for all of its vessels' IFQ scallop landings, and shall be responsible for submitting this payment to NMFS once per year. The cost recovery fee for all landings, regardless of ownership changes throughout the fishing year, shall be the responsibility of the official owner of the vessel, as recorded in the vessel permit or confirmation of permit history file, at the time the bill is sent.

(i) Cost recovery fee determination. The ex-vessel value of scallops shall be determined as an average of the ex-vessel value, as determined by Northeast Federal dealer reports, of all IFQ scallops landed between March 1 and September 30 of the initial year of the IFQ scallop program, and from October 1 through September 30 of each year thereafter.

(ii) Fee payment procedure. On or about October 31 of each year NMFS shall mail a cost recovery bill to each IFQ scallop permit holder for the previous cost recovery period. An IFQ scallop permit holder who has incurred a fee must pay the fee to NMFS within 60 days from the date of mailing of the recovery bill. Cost recovery payments shall be made electronically via the Federal web portal, www.pay.gov, or other internet sites as designated by the Regional Administrator. Instructions for electronic payment shall be available on both the payment website and the paper bill. Payment options shall include payment via a credit card, as specified in the cost recovery bill, or via direct automated clearing house (ACH) withdrawal from a designated checking account. Payment by check may be authorized by NMFS if it has determined that electronic payment is not possible (for example, if the geographical area of an individual(s) is affected by catastrophic conditions).

(iii) Payment compliance. An IFQ scallop permit holder that has incurred an IFQ cost recovery fee must pay the fee to NMFS within 60 days from the date of mailing. If the cost recovery payment, as determined by NMFS, is not made within 60 days from the date of mailing, NMFS may deny the renewal of the IFQ scallop permit until full payment is received. If, upon preliminary review of the accuracy and completeness of a fee payment, NMFS determines the IFQ scallop permit holder has not paid the full amount due, NMFS shall notify the IFQ scallop permit holder by letter. NMFS shall explain the discrepancy and provide the IFQ scallop permit holder 30 days to either pay the amount specified by NMFS or to provide evidence that the amount paid was correct. If the IFQ scallop permit holder submits evidence in support of his/her payment, NMFS shall determine if there is any remaining disagreement as to the appropriate IFQ fee, and prepare a Final Administrative Determination (FAD). The FAD shall set out the facts, discuss those facts within the context of the relevant agency policies and regulations, and decide as to the appropriate disposition of the matter. A FAD shall be the final agency action, and, if the FAD determines that the IFQ scallop permit holder is out of compliance, the FAD shall require payment within 30 days. If a FAD is not issued until after the start of the fishing year, the IFQ scallop permit holder may be authorized to fish temporarily by the Regional Administrator until the FAD is issued, at which point the permit holder shall have 30 days to comply with the terms of the FAD or the IFQ scallop permit shall not be issued until such terms are met. If NMFS determines that the IFQ scallop permit holder owes additional fees for the previous cost recovery period, and the IFQ scallop permit has already been renewed, NMFS shall issue a FAD, at which point the permit holder shall have 30 days to comply with the terms of the FAD or NMFS may withdraw the issuance of the IFQ scallop permit until such terms are met. If such payment is not received within 30 days of issuance of the FAD, NMFS shall refer the matter to the appropriate authorities within the U.S. Department of the Treasury for purposes of collection, and no IFQ permit held by the permit holder may be renewed until the terms of the FAD are met. If NMFS determines that the conditions of the FAD have been met, the IFQ permit holder may renew the IFQ scallop permit(s). If NMFS does not receive full payment prior to the end of the fishing year, the IFQ scallop permit shall be considered voluntarily abandoned, pursuant to §648.4(a)(2)(ii)(K), unless otherwise determined by the Regional Administrator.

(5) Transferring IFQ—(i) Temporary IFQ transfers. Subject to the restrictions in paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section, the owner of an IFQ scallop vessel (and/or IFQ scallop permit in confirmation of permit history) not issued a limited access scallop permit may temporarily transfer (e.g., lease) its entire IFQ allocation, or a portion of its IFQ allocation, to another IFQ scallop vessel. Temporary IFQ transfers shall be effective only for the fishing year in which the temporary transfer is requested and processed. IFQ can be temporarily transferred more than once (i.e., re-transferred). For example, if a vessel temporarily transfers IFQ to a vessel, the transferee vessel may re-transfer any portion of that IFQ to another vessel. There is no limit on how many times IFQ can be re-transferred in a fishing year. The Regional Administrator has final approval authority for all temporary IFQ transfer requests.

(ii) Permanent IFQ transfers. (A) Subject to the restrictions in paragraph (h)(5)(iii) of this section, the owner of an IFQ scallop vessel (and/or IFQ scallop permit in confirmation of permit history) not issued a limited access scallop permit may transfer IFQ permanently to or from another IFQ scallop vessel. Any such transfer cannot be limited in duration and is permanent as to the transferee, unless the IFQ is subsequently permanently transferred to another IFQ scallop vessel. IFQ may be permanently transferred to a vessel and then be re-transferred (temporarily transferred (i.e., leased) or permanently transferred) by such vessel to another vessel in the same fishing year. There is no limit on how many times IFQ can be re-transferred in a fishing year.

(B) If a vessel owner permanently transfers the vessel's entire IFQ to another IFQ vessel, the LAGC IFQ scallop permit shall remain valid on the transferor vessel, unless the owner of the transferor vessel cancels the IFQ scallop permit. Such cancellation shall be considered voluntary relinquishment of the IFQ permit, and the vessel shall be ineligible for an IFQ scallop permit unless it replaces another vessel that was issued an IFQ scallop permit. The Regional Administrator has final approval authority for all IFQ transfer requests.

(iii) IFQ transfer restrictions. The owner of an IFQ scallop vessel (and/or IFQ scallop permit in confirmation of permit history) not issued a limited access scallop permit may transfer that vessel's IFQ to another IFQ scallop vessel, regardless of whether or not the vessel has fished under its IFQ in the same fishing year. Requests for IFQ transfers cannot be less than 100 lb (46.4 kg), unless that the transfer reflects the total IFQ amount remaining on the transferor's vessel, or the entire IFQ allocation. IFQ may be temporarily or permanently transferred to a vessel and then temporarily re-transferred (i.e., leased) or permanently re-transferred by such vessel to another vessel in the same fishing year. There is no restriction on how many times IFQ can be re-transferred. A transfer of an IFQ may not result in the sum of the IFQs on the receiving vessel exceeding 2.5 percent of the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels. A transfer of an IFQ, whether temporary or permanent, may not result in the transferee having a total ownership of, or interest in, general category scallop allocation that exceeds 5 percent of the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels. Limited access scallop vessels that are also issued an IFQ scallop permit may not transfer to or receive IFQ from another IFQ scallop vessel.

(iv) Application for an IFQ transfer. The owners of vessels applying for a transfer of IFQ must submit a completed application form obtained from the Regional Administrator. The application must be signed by both parties (transferor and transferee) involved in the transfer of the IFQ, and must be submitted to the NMFS Northeast Regional Office at least 30 days before the date on which the applicants desire to have the IFQ effective on the receiving vessel. The Regional Administrator shall notify the applicants of any deficiency in the application pursuant to this section. Applications may be submitted at any time during the scallop fishing year, regardless of whether or not the vessel has fished under its IFQ in the same fishing year. Applications for temporary transfers received less than 45 days prior to the end of the fishing year may not be processed in time for a vessel to utilize the transferred IFQ, if approved, prior to the expiration of the fishing year.

(A) Application information requirements. An application to transfer IFQ must contain at least the following information: Transferor's name, vessel name, permit number, and official number or state registration number; transferee's name, vessel name, permit number, and official number or state registration number; total price paid for purchased IFQ; signatures of transferor and transferee; and date the form was completed. In addition, applications to transfer IFQ must indicate the amount, in pounds, of the IFQ allocation transfer. Information obtained from the transfer application will be held confidential, and will be used only in summarized form for management of the fishery. If the applicants are requesting a transfer of IFQ that has already been transferred in a given fishing year, both parties must be up-to-date with all data reporting requirements (e.g., all necessary VMS catch reports, VTR, and dealer data must be submitted) in order for the application to be processed.

(B) Approval of IFQ transfer applications. Unless an application to transfer IFQ is denied according to paragraph (h)(5)(iii)(C) of this section, the Regional Administrator shall issue confirmation of application approval to both parties involved in the transfer within 30 days of receipt of an application.

(C) Denial of transfer application. The Regional Administrator may reject an application to transfer IFQ for any of the following reasons: The application is incomplete; the transferor or transferee does not possess a valid limited access general category permit; the transferor's or transferee's vessel or IFQ scallop permit has been sanctioned, pursuant to a final administrative decision or settlement of an enforcement proceeding; the transfer will result in the transferee's vessel having an allocation that exceeds 2.5 percent of the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels; the transfer will result in the transferee having a total ownership of, or interest in, a general category scallop allocation that exceeds 5 percent of the ACL allocated to IFQ scallop vessels; or any other failure to meet the requirements of the regulations in 50 CFR part 648. Upon denial of an application to transfer IFQ, the Regional Administrator shall send a letter to the applicants describing the reason(s) for the rejection. The decision by the Regional Administrator is the final agency decision, and there is no opportunity to appeal the Regional Administrator's decision. An application that was denied can be resubmitted if the discrepancy(ies) that resulted in denial are resolved.

[73 FR 20123, Apr. 14, 2008, as amended at 73 FR 30804, May 29, 2008; 74 FR 20555, May 4, 2008; 75 FR 36570, June 28, 2010; 76 FR 43763, 43786, July 21, 2011; 77 FR 16946, Mar. 23, 2012; 77 FR 20739, Apr. 6, 2012; 78 FR 27100, May 9, 2013; 78 FR 42891, July 18, 2013; 79 FR 34260, June 16, 2014; 80 FR 22129, Apr. 21, 2015; 81 FR 26735, May 4, 2016; 81 FR 76521, Nov. 3, 2016; 81 FR 15161, Mar. 27, 2017; 83 FR 17308, Apr. 19, 2018; 84 FR 11442, Apr. 1, 2019]

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 33029, June 1, 2020, §648.53 was amended by suspending paragraph (h)(2)(v)(A) and adding paragraph (h)(2)(v)(B), effective June 1, 2020 through Nov. 28, 2020.

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§648.54   State waters exemption.

(a) State eligibility for exemption. (1) A state may be eligible for a state waters exemption if it has a scallop fishery and a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP.

(2) The Regional Administrator shall determine which states have a scallop fishery and which of those states have a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. In such case, the Regional Administrator shall publish a rule in the Federal Register, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, to provide the exemption for such states.

(3) A state that has been issued a state waters exemption under paragraph (a)(4) of this section must immediately notify the Regional Administrator of any changes in its scallop conservation program. The Regional Administrator shall review these changes and, if a determination is made that the state's conservation program jeopardizes the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the FMP, or that the state no longer has a scallop fishery, the Regional Administrator shall publish a rule in the Federal Register, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, to eliminate the exemption for that state.

(4) The Regional Administrator has determined that the State of Maine and Commonwealth of Massachusetts both have a scallop fishery conservation program for its scallop fishery that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. A vessel fishing in State of Maine waters may fish under the State of Maine state waters exemption, subject to the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section. In addition, a vessel issued a Federal Northern Gulf of Maine or Limited Access General Category Individual Fishing Quota permit fishing in State of Maine or Commonwealth of Massachusetts waters may fish under their respective state waters exemption specified in paragraph (d) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section.

(b) Limited access scallop vessel exemption. Any vessel issued a limited access scallop permit is exempt from the DAS requirements specified in §648.53(b) while fishing exclusively landward of the outer boundary of the waters of a state that has been issued a state waters exemption under paragraph (a)(4) of this section, provided the vessel complies with paragraphs (f) through (h) of this section.

(c) Gear and possession limit restrictions. Any vessel issued a limited access scallop permit, an LAGC NGOM, or an LAGC IFQ scallop permit is exempt from the minimum twine top mesh size for scallop dredge gear specified in §648.51(b)(2) and (b)(4)(iv) while fishing exclusively landward of the outer boundary of the waters of the State of Maine under the state waters exemption specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (d) through (g) of this section.

(d) NGOM closure exemption. Any vessel issued a Federal scallop permit may be exempt from the regulations specified in §648.52(b)(2) requiring that once the NGOM Federal hard TAC is reached, no vessel issued a scallop permit may fish in the NGOM area. This exemption, which a state must apply for through the process specified in paragraph (a) of this section, would allow vessels to continue to fish for scallops within a state's waters inside the NGOM. A state applying for this exemption must clarify to which scallop permit types this exemption would apply.

(e) Notification requirements. Vessels fishing under the exemptions specified in paragraph (b), (c) and/or (d) of this section must notify the Regional Administrator in accordance with the provisions of §648.10(f).

(f) Restriction on fishing in the EEZ. A vessel fishing under a state waters exemption may not fish in the EEZ during the time in which it is fishing under the state waters exemption, as declared under the notification requirements of this section.

(g) Duration of exemption. An exemption expires upon a change in the vessel's name or ownership, or upon notification through VMS by the participating vessel's owner.

(h) Applicability of other provisions of this part. A vessel fishing under the exemptions provided by paragraph (b) and/or (c) of this section remains subject to all other requirements of this part.

[69 FR 35215, June 23, 2004, as amended at 71 FR 33227, June 8, 2006; 73 FR 20128, Apr. 14, 2008; 74 FR 20555, May 4, 2009; 74 FR 37593, July 30, 2009; 78 FR 27104, May 9, 2013; 80 FR 22131, Apr. 21, 2015; 80 FR 60569, Nov. 6, 2015; 81 FR 76524, Nov. 3, 2016; 82 FR 49299, Oct. 25, 2017]

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§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 mi2 (6,993 km2), 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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§648.56   Scallop research.

(a) At least biennially, in association with the biennial framework process, the Council and NMFS shall prepare and issue an announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) that identifies research priorities for projects to be conducted by vessels using research set-aside as specified in paragraph (d) of this section and §648.59(e), provides requirements and instructions for applying for funding of a proposed RSA project, and specifies the date by which applications must be received. The FFO shall be published as soon as possible by NMFS and shall provide the opportunity for applicants to apply for projects to be awarded for 1 or 2 years by allowing applicants to apply for RSA funding for the first year, second year, or both.

(b) Proposals submitted in response to the FFO must include the following information, as well as any other specific information required within the FFO: A project summary that includes the project goals and objectives, the relationship of the proposed research to scallop research priorities and/or management needs, project design, participants other than the applicant, funding needs, breakdown of costs, and the vessel(s) for which authorization is requested to conduct research activities.

(c) NOAA shall make the final determination as to what proposals are approved and which vessels are authorized to take scallops in excess of possession limits, or take additional trips into Open, Access Areas, or the NGOM management area. NMFS shall provide authorization of such activities to specific vessels by letter of acknowledgement, letter of authorization, or Exempted Fishing Permit issued by the Regional Administrator, which must be kept on board the vessel.

(d) Available RSA allocation shall be 1.25 million lb (567 mt) annually, which shall be deducted from the ABC/ACL specified in §648.53(a) prior to setting ACLs for the limited access and LAGC fleets, as specified in §648.53(a)(3) and (4), respectively. Approved RSA projects shall be allocated an amount of scallop pounds that can be harvested in open areas, available access areas, and the NGOM. The specific access areas that are open to RSA harvest and the amount of NGOM allocation to be landed through RSA harvest shall be specified through the framework process as identified in §648.59(e)(1). In a year in which a framework adjustment is under review by the Council and/or NMFS, NMFS shall make RSA awards prior to approval of the framework, if practicable, based on total scallop pounds needed to fund each research project. Recipients may begin compensation fishing in open areas prior to approval of the framework, or wait until NMFS approval of the framework to begin compensation fishing within approved access areas.

(e) If all RSA TAC is not allocated in a fishing year, and proceeds from compensation fishing for approved projects fall short of funds needed to cover a project's budget due to a lower-than-expected scallop price, unused RSA allocation can be provided to that year's awarded projects to compensate for the funding shortfall, or to expand a project, rather than having that RSA go unused. NMFS shall identify the process for the reallocation of available RSA pounds as part of the FFO for the RSA program. The FFO shall specify the conditions under which a project that has been awarded RSA could be provided additional RSA pounds as supplemental compensation to account for lower-than-expected scallop price or for expansion of the project, timing of reallocation, and information submission requirements.

(f) If all RSA pounds awarded to a project cannot be harvested during the applicable fishing year, RSA TAC awarded to that project may be harvested through June 30 of the fishing year subsequent to the fishing year in which the set-aside is awarded.

(g) Vessels conducting research under an approved RSA project may be exempt from crew restrictions specified in §648.51, seasonal closures of access areas specified in §648.60, and the restriction on fishing in only one access area during a trip specified in §648.59(b)(4). The RSA project proposal must list which of these measures for which an exemption is required. An exemption shall be provided by Letter of Authorization issued by the Regional Administrator. RSA compensation fishing trips and combined compensation and research trips are not eligible for these exemptions.

(h) Upon completion of scallop research projects approved pursuant to this section and the applicable NOAA grants review process, researchers must provide the Council and NMFS with a report of research findings, which must include at least the following: A detailed description of methods of data collection and analysis; a discussion of results and any relevant conclusions presented in a format that is understandable to a non-technical audience; and a detailed final accounting of all funds used to conduct the sea scallop research.

(i) If all fishing year 2019 RSA pounds awarded to a project cannot be harvested during the 2019 fishing year, RSA TAC awarded to that project may be harvested through August 31, 2020.

[76 FR 43769, July 21, 2011, as amended at 77 FR 20740, Apr. 6, 2012; 81 FR 76525, Nov. 3, 2016; 83 FR 12862, Mar. 26, 2018]

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 33029, June 1, 2020, §648.56 was amended by suspending paragraph (f) and adding paragraph (i), effective June 1, 2020 through Nov. 28, 2020.

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§§648.57-648.58   [Reserved]

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§648.59   Sea Scallop Rotational Area Management Program and Access Area Program requirements.

(a) The Sea Scallop Rotational Area Management Program consists of Scallop Rotational Areas, as defined in §648.2. Guidelines for this area rotation program (i.e., when to close an area and reopen it to scallop fishing) are provided in §648.55(a)(6). Whether a rotational area is open or closed to scallop fishing in a given year, and the appropriate level of access by limited access and LAGC IFQ vessels, are specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55. When a rotational area is open to the scallop fishery, it is called an Access Area and scallop vessels fishing in the area are subject to the Access Area Program Requirements specified in this section. Areas not defined as Scallop Rotational Areas specified in §648.60, Habitat Management Areas specified in §648.370, or areas closed to scallop fishing under other FMPs, are governed by other management measures and restrictions in this part and are referred to as Open Areas.

(1) When a Scallop Rotational Area is closed to scallop fishing, a vessel issued any scallop permit may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the area unless the vessel is transiting pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section. A vessel may fish for species other than scallops within the rotational closed areas, provided the vessel does not fish for, catch, or retain scallops or intend to fish for, catch, or retain scallops. When a Scallop Rotational Area is open to scallop fishing (henceforth referred to as an Access Area), a scallop vessel may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the area unless it is participating in, and complies with the requirements of, the Scallop Access Area Program Requirements defined in paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section or the vessel is transiting pursuant to paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(2) Transiting a Closed Scallop Rotational Area. No vessel possessing scallops may enter or be in the area(s) specified in this section when those areas are closed, as specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, unless the vessel is transiting the area and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Area, as defined in §648.60(d), if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the area and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(3) Transiting a Scallop Access Area. Any sea scallop vessel that has not declared a trip into the Scallop Area Access Program may enter a Scallop Access Area, and possess scallops not caught in the Scallop Access Areas, for transiting purposes only, provided the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2. Any scallop vessel that has declared a trip into the Scallop Area Access Program may not enter or be in another Scallop Access Area on the same trip except such vessel may transit another Scallop Access Area provided its gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, or there is a compelling safety reason to be in such areas without such gear being stowed. A vessel may only transit the Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Area, as defined in §648.60(d), if there is a compelling safety reason for transiting the area and the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(b) A limited access scallop vessel may only fish in the Scallop Rotational Areas, defined in §648.60, when the areas are open (i.e., Access Areas), as specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, subject to any additional restrictions specified in §648.60, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(9), and (c) through (f) of this section. An LAGC scallop vessel may fish in the Scallop Rotational Areas, defined in §648.60, when the areas are open (i.e., Access Areas), as specified through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, subject to any additional requirements specified in §648.60, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (g) of this section.

(1) VMS. Each vessel participating in the Scallop Access Area Program must have installed on board an operational VMS unit that meets the minimum performance criteria specified in §§648.9 and 648.10, and paragraphs (b)(9) and (f) of this section.

(2) Vessels participating in the Scallop Access Area Program must comply with the trip declaration requirements specified in §648.10(f) and vessel notification requirements specified in §648.11(k) for observer deployment.

(3) Scallop Access Area Allocations—(i) Limited access vessel allocations and possession limits. (A) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55 determine the total amount of scallops, in weight, that a limited access scallop vessel may harvest from Scallop Access Areas during applicable seasons specified in §648.60. A vessel may not possess or land in excess of its scallop allocation assigned to specific Scallop Access Areas, unless authorized by the Regional Administrator, as specified in paragraph (d) of this section, unless the vessel owner has exchanged an area-specific scallop allocation with another vessel owner for additional scallop allocation in that area, as specified in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section. A vessel may harvest its scallop allocation on any number of trips in a given fishing year, provided that no single trip exceeds the possession limits specified in the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, unless authorized by the Regional Administrator, as specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section. No vessel declared into the Scallop Access Areas may possess more than 50 bu (17.62 hL) of in-shell scallops outside of the Scallop Rotational Area boundaries defined in §648.60.

(B) The following access area allocations and possession limits for limited access vessels shall be effective for the 2020 and 2021 fishing years:

(1) Full-time vessels. (i) For a full-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and allocations are:

Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(1)(i)

Rotational access areaScallop possession limit2020 Scallop allocation2021 Scallop allocation
(default)
Closed Area I Flex118,000 lb (8,165 kg) per trip9,000 lb (4,082 kg)0 lb (0 kg).
Closed Area II18,000 lb (8,165 kg)0 lb (0 kg).
Nantucket Lightship-North9,000 lb (4,082 kg)0 lb (0 kg).
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep18,000 lb (8,165 kg)0 lb (0 kg).
Mid-Atlantic36,000 lb (16,329 kg)18,000 lb (8,165 kg).
Total90,000 lb (40,823 kg)18,000 lb (8,165 kg).

1Closed Area I flex allocation can be landed from either Closed Area I or the Mid-Atlantic Access Area pursuant to the area boundaries defined §648.60(c).

(ii) For the 2019 fishing year and the first 60 days of the 2020 fishing year, a full-time limited access vessel may choose to land up to 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) of its Closed Area I Access Area allocation from any access area made available in the 2019 fishing year as described in the §648.60. For example, a vessel could take a trip in the Closed Area I Access Area and land 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) from that area, leaving the vessel with 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) of the Closed Area I flex allocation available, which could be landed from any other available access area as described in this section, provided the 18,000-lb (8,165-kg) possession limit is not exceeded on any one trip.

(iii) For the 2019 fishing year and through August 31 of the 2020 fishing year, a full-time limited access vessel may choose to land up to 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) of any unharvested 2019 Closed Area I Access Area allocation from any access area made available in the 2019 fishing year as described in the §648.60. For example, a vessel could take a trip in the Closed Area I Access Area and land 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) from that area, leaving the vessel with 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) of the Closed Area I flex allocation available, which could be landed from any other available access area as described in this section, provided the 18,000-lb (8,165-kg) possession limit is not exceeded on any one trip.

(iv) If implementation of the fishing year 2020 specifications is delayed beyond April 1, 2020, the start of the 2020 fishing year, any full-time limited access vessel that harvests any portion of its default 2020 Nantucket Lightship-West Access Area allocation, as described in the §648.60(f), will have 18,000 lb deducted from its fishing year 2020 Closed Area II Access Area allocation.

(2) Part-time vessels. (i) For a part-time limited access vessel, the possession limit and allocations are as follows:

Table 2 to Paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(2)(i)

Rotational access areaScallop possession limit2020 Scallop allocation2021 Scallop allocation
(default)
Closed Area II12,000 lb (5,443 kg) per trip12,000 lb (5,443 kg)0 lb (0 kg)
Mid-Atlantic24,000 lb (10,886 kg)7,200 lb (3,266 kg)
Total36,000 lb (16,329 kg)7,200 lb (3,266 kg)

(ii) For the 2019 fishing year and the first 60 days of the 2020 fishing year, a part-time limited access vessel may choose to land up to 17,000 lb (7,711 kg) of its Closed Area I Access Area allocation from any access area made available in the 2019 fishing year as described in the §648.60(a), (c), and (f). For example, a vessel could take a trip in the Closed Area I Access Area and land 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) from that area, leaving the vessel with 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of the Closed Area I flex allocation available, which could be landed from any other available access area as described in this section, provided the possession limit is not exceeded on any one trip.

(iii) If implementation of fishing year 2020 specifications is delayed beyond the April 1, 2020, start of the 2020 fishing year, any part-time limited access vessel that harvests any portion of its default 2020 Nantucket Lightship-West Access Area allocation, as described in the §648.60(f), will have 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) deducted from its fishing year 2020 Closed Area II Access Area allocation.

(iv) For the 2019 fishing year and the first through August 31 of the 2020 fishing year, a part-time limited access vessel may choose to land up to 17,000 lb (7,711 kg) of its fishing year 2019 Closed Area I Access Area allocation from any access area made available in the 2019 fishing year as described in the §648.60(a), (c), and (f). For example, a vessel could take a trip in the Closed Area I Access Area and land 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) from that area, leaving the vessel with 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of the Closed Area I flex allocation available, which could be landed from any other available access area as described in this section, provided the possession limit is not exceeded on any one trip.

(3) Occasional limited access vessels. (i) For the 2020 fishing year only, an occasional limited access vessel is allocated 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) of scallops with a trip possession limit at 7,500 lb of scallops per trip (3,402 kg per trip). Occasional limited access vessels may harvest the 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) allocation from only the Mid-Atlantic Access Area.

(ii) For the 2021 fishing year, occasional limited access vessels are allocated 1,500 lb (680 kg) of scallops in the Mid-Atlantic Access Area only with a trip possession limit of 1,500 lb of scallops per trip (680 kg per trip).

(ii) Limited access vessels' one-for-one area access allocation exchanges—(A) Full-time limited access vessels. (1) The owner of a vessel issued a full-time limited access scallop permit may exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into one access area for another vessel's unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another scallop access area. These exchanges may be made only in 9,000-lb (4,082-kg) increments. For example, a full-time vessel may exchange 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) from one access area for 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. Further, a full-time vessel may exchange 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) from one access area for 18,000 lb (8,165 kg) allocated to another full-time vessel for another access area. In addition, these exchanges may be made only between vessels with the same permit category: A full-time vessel may not exchange allocations with a part-time vessel, and vice versa. Vessel owners must request these exchanges by submitting a completed Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before the date on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. Exchange forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. Each vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to submit a completed Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional Administrator shall review the records for each vessel to confirm that each vessel has enough unharvested allocation remaining in a given access area to exchange. The exchange is not effective until the vessel owner(s) receive a confirmation in writing from the Regional Administrator that the allocation exchange has been made effective. A vessel owner may exchange equal allocations in 9,000-lb (4,082-kg) increments between two or more vessels of the same permit category under his/her ownership. A vessel owner holding a Confirmation of Permit History is not eligible to exchange allocations between another vessel and the vessel for which a Confirmation of Permit History has been issued.

(2) In fishing year 2020, full-time limited access vessels are allocated 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) of scallops that may be landed from either Closed Area I or the Mid-Atlantic Access Area as described in the §648.60(c) and (a), respectively. This flex allocation may be exchanged in full for another access area allocation, but only the flex allocation may be landed from either Closed Area I or the Mid-Atlantic Access Area. For example, if a Vessel A exchanges 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) of Closed Area I flex allocation for 9,000 lb (4,082 kg) of Nantucket Lightship-North allocation with Vessel B, Vessel A would no longer be allowed to land this allocation from the Mid-Atlantic Access Area and may only land this allocation from Nantucket Lightship-North, but Vessel B could land the flex allocation from either Closed Area I or the Mid-Atlantic Access Area.

(B) Part-time limited access vessels. The owner of a vessel issued a part-time limited access scallop permit may exchange unharvested scallop pounds allocated into one access area for another part-time vessel's unharvested scallop pounds allocated into another scallop access area. These exchanges may be made only for the amount of the current trip possession limit, as specified in paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(2) of this section. For example, if the access area trip possession limit for part-time limited access vessels is 12,000 lb (5,443 kg), a part-time limited access vessel may exchange no more or less than 12,000 lb (5,443 kg), from one access area for no more or less than 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) allocated to another vessel for another access area. In addition, these exchanges may be made only between vessels with the same permit category: A full-time limited access vessel may not exchange allocations with a part-time vessel, and vice versa. Vessel owners must request these exchanges by submitting a completed Access Area Allocation Exchange Form at least 15 days before the date on which the applicant desires the exchange to be effective. Exchange forms are available from the Regional Administrator upon request. Each vessel owner involved in an exchange is required to submit a completed Access Area Allocation Form. The Regional Administrator shall review the records for each vessel to confirm that each vessel has enough unharvested allocation remaining in a given access area to exchange. The exchange is not effective until the vessel owner(s) receive a confirmation in writing from the Regional Administrator that the allocation exchange has been made effective. A part-time limited access vessel owner may exchange equal allocations up to the current possession limit between two or more vessels under his/her ownership. A vessel owner holding a Confirmation of Permit History is not eligible to exchange allocations between another vessel and the vessel for which a Confirmation of Permit History has been issued.

(4) Area fished. While on a Scallop Access Area trip, a vessel may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from areas outside the Scallop Access Area in which the vessel operator has declared the vessel will fish during that trip, and may not enter or exit the specific declared Scallop Access Area more than once per trip. A vessel on a Scallop Access Area trip may not enter or be in another Scallop Access Area on the same trip except such vessel may transit another Scallop Access Area as provided for under paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(5) NE multispecies possession limits—(i) Maximum possession limit of NE Multispecies combined. A vessel owner or operator of a limited access scallop vessel issued a valid NE multispecies permit as specified in §648.4(a)(1), that has declared into a Scallop Access Area and fishes within the open Scallop Rotational Area boundaries defined in §648.60, may fish for, possess, and land, per trip, up to a maximum of 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) of all NE multispecies combined, excluding yellowtail flounder, subject to the minimum commercial fish size restrictions specified in §648.83(a)(1), and the additional restrictions for Atlantic cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder specified in paragraphs (b)(5)(ii) through (iv) of this section.

(ii) Atlantic cod. Such vessel may bring onboard and possess only up to 100 lb (45.4 kg) of Atlantic cod per trip, provided such fish is intended for personal use only and cannot be not sold, traded, or bartered.

(iii) Haddock. Such vessel may possess and land haddock up to the overall possession limit of all NE multispecies combined, as specified in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section, except that such vessel are prohibited from possessing or landing haddock from January 1 through June 30.

(iv) Yellowtail flounder. Such vessel is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing yellowtail flounder.

(6) Gear restrictions. (i) The minimum ring size for dredge gear used by a vessel fishing on a Scallop Access Area trip is 4 inches (10.2 cm) in diameter. Dredge or trawl gear used by a vessel fishing on a Scallop Access Area trip must be in accordance with the restrictions specified in §648.51(a) and (b).

(ii) Vessels fishing in the Closed Area I, Closed Area II, Closed Area II Extension, and Nantucket Lightship Scallop Rotational Areas defined in §648.60 are prohibited from fishing with trawl gear as specified in §648.51(f)(1).

(7) Transiting. While outside a Sea Scallop Access Area (i.e., in open areas) on a Scallop Access Area trip, the vessel must have all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, unless there is a compelling safety reason to be transiting open areas without gear stowed. Regulations pertaining to transiting Scallop Rotational Areas are provided for under paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(8) Off-loading restrictions. The vessel may not offload its catch from a Scallop Access Area trip at more than one location per trip.

(9) Reporting. The owner or operator must submit scallop catch reports through the VMS, as specified in §648.10(f)(4)(i), and limited access scallop access area pre-landing notification forms, as specified in §648.10(f)(4)(iii).

(c) Scallop Access Area scallop allocation carryover. With the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in §648.4(a)(2)(i)(J) for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over year, a limited access scallop vessel operator may fish any unharvested Scallop Access Area allocation from a given fishing year within the first 60 days of the subsequent fishing year if the Scallop Access Area is open, unless otherwise specified in this section. However, the vessel may not exceed the Scallop Rotational Area trip possession limit. For example, if a full-time vessel has 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) remaining in the Mid-Atlantic Access Area at the end of fishing year 2019, that vessel may harvest those 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) during the first 60 days that the Mid-Atlantic Access Area is open in fishing year 2020 (April 1, 2020 through May 30, 2020).

(d) Possession limit to defray the cost of observers. The Regional Administrator may increase the sea scallop possession limit through the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55 to defray costs of at-sea observers deployed on area access trips subject to the limits specified §648.53(g). An owner of a scallop vessel shall be notified of the increase in the possession limit through a permit holder letter issued by the Regional Administrator. If the observer set-aside is fully utilized prior to the end of the fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall notify owners of scallop vessels that, effective on a specified date, the increase in the possession limit is no longer available to offset the cost of observers. Unless otherwise notified by the Regional Administrator, vessel owners shall be responsible for paying the cost of the observer, regardless of whether the vessel lands or sells sea scallops on that trip, and regardless of the availability of set-aside for an increased possession limit. If a vessel does not land its additional allowance on the trip while carrying an observer, the additional allowance will be added to the vessel's IFQ allocation or the vessel's allocation for the Scallop Rotational Area that was fished. The vessel may land the remainder of its allowance on a subsequent trip. However, the vessel may not exceed the IFQ or Scallop Rotational Area trip possession limit, as described in §648.52(a) or §648.59(b), respectively, unless it is actively carrying an observer.

(e) Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Harvest in Scallop Access Areas. Unless otherwise specified, RSA may be harvested in any access area that is open in a given fishing year, as specified through a specifications action or framework adjustment and pursuant to §648.56. The amount of scallops that can be harvested in each access area by vessels participating in approved RSA projects shall be determined through the RSA application review and approval process. The access areas open for RSA harvest for fishing years 2020 and 2021 are:

(1) 2020: Mid-Atlantic Access Area.

(2) 2021: No access areas.

(f) VMS polling. For the duration of the Sea Scallop Area Access Program, as defined in this section, all sea scallop vessels equipped with a VMS unit shall be polled at a minimum of twice per hour, regardless of whether the vessel is enrolled in the Sea Scallop Area Access Program. Vessel owners shall be responsible for paying the costs of polling twice per hour.

(g) Limited Access General Category vessels. (1) An LAGC scallop vessel may only fish in the scallop rotational areas specified in §648.60 or in paragraph (g)(3)(iv) of this section, subject to any additional restrictions specified in §648.60, subject to the possession limit and access area schedule specified in the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(6) through (9), (d), (e), (f), and (g) of this section. A vessel issued both a NE multispecies permit and an LAGC scallop permit may fish in an approved SAP under §648.85 and under multispecies DAS in the Closed Area I, Closed Area II, Closed Area II Extension, and Nantucket Lightship Scallop Rotational Areas specified in §648.60, when open, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in §648.59 and this paragraph (g), but may not fish for, possess, or land scallops on such trips.

(2) Limited Access General Category Gear restrictions. An LAGC IFQ scallop vessel authorized to fish in the Scallop Rotational Areas specified in §648.60 that lay east of 72°30 W. lat. must fish with dredge gear only. The combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board of, an LAGC scallop vessel fishing in these areas may not exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m). The combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board of, an LAGC scallop vessel fishing in the remaining Scallop Rotational Areas defined in §648.60 may not exceed 31 ft (9.4 m). Dredge width is measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge.

(3) LAGC IFQ Access Area trips. (i) An LAGC scallop vessel authorized to fish in the Scallop Rotational Areas specified in §648.60 or in paragraph (g)(3)(iv) of this section may land scallops, subject to the possession limit specified in §648.52(a), unless the Regional Administrator has issued a notice that the number of LAGC IFQ access area trips have been or are projected to be taken. All LAGC IFQ access area trips must be taken in the fishing year that they are allocated (i.e., there are no carryover trips). The total number of LAGC IFQ trips in an Access Area is specified in the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55.

(ii) Scallops landed by each LAGC IFQ vessel on an access area trip shall count against the vessel's IFQ.

(iii) Upon a determination from the Regional Administrator that the total number of LAGC IFQ trips in a specified Access Area have been or are projected to be taken, the Regional Administrator shall publish notification of this determination in the Federal Register, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. Once this determination has been made, an LAGC IFQ scallop vessel may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the specified Access Area after the effective date of the notification published in the Federal Register.

(iv) Allocation of Scallop Access Area Trips. Unless otherwise specified by the Council through the framework adjustment or specifications process defined in §648.55, the LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations, specified in paragraph (v) of this section, shall be set at 5.5 percent of the total expected access area harvest for each year.

(v) LAGC IFQ access area allocations. The following LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations will be effective for the 2020 and 2021 fishing years:

Table 3 to Paragraph (g)(3)(v)

Scallop access area202020211
Closed Area I5710
Nantucket Lightship-North5710
Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep5710
Mid-Atlantic1,142571
Total2,855571

1The LAGC IFQ access area trip allocations for the 2021 fishing year are subject to change through a future specifications action or framework adjustment.

(4) Possession limits—(i)Scallops. (A) A vessel issued a NE multispecies permit and a general category scallop permit that is fishing in an approved SAP under §648.85 under multispecies DAS, and that has not declared into the Scallop Access Area Program, is prohibited from possessing scallops.

(B) An LAGC scallop vessel authorized to fish in the Scallop Rotational Areas specified in §648.60 may possess scallops up to the possession limit specified in §648.52(a), unless otherwise authorized pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section.

(ii) Other species. Unless issued an LAGC scallop permit and fishing under an approved NE multispecies SAP under NE multispecies DAS, an LAGC IFQ vessel fishing in the Closed Area I, Closed Area II, Closed Area II Extension, and Nantucket Lightship Rotational Areas specified in §648.60, and the Nantucket Lightship North Sea Scallop Access Area specified in paragraph (g)(3)(iv) of this section is prohibited from possessing any species of fish other than scallops and monkfish, as specified in §648.94(c)(8)(i). Such a vessel may fish in an approved SAP under §648.85 and under multispecies DAS in the scallop access area, provided that it has not declared into the Scallop Access Area Program. Such a vessel is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, or landing scallops.

(h) Fishing year 2019 Scallop Access Area scallop allocation carryover. For fishing year 2019 Access Area scallop allocation carryover, with the exception of vessels that held a Confirmation of Permit History as described in §648.4(a)(2)(i)(J) for the entire fishing year preceding the carry-over year, a limited access scallop vessel operator may fish any unharvested Scallop Access Area allocation from fishing year 2019 through August 31, 2020, unless otherwise specified in this section. However, the vessel may not exceed the Scallop Rotational Area trip possession limit.

[81 FR 76525, Nov. 3, 2016, as amended at 82 FR 15162, Mar. 27, 2017; 83 FR 15263, Apr. 9, 2018; 83 FR 17309, Apr. 19, 2018; 84 FR 11443, Apr. 1, 2019; 85 FR 17762, Mar. 31, 2020]

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 33029, June 1, 2020, §648.59 was amended by suspending paragraphs (b)(3)(i)(B)(1)(ii), (b)(3)(i)(B)(2)(ii), and (c), by revising paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B)(1)(iii), and adding paragraphs (b)(3)(i)(B)(2)(iv), and (h), effective June 1, 2020 through Nov. 28, 2020.

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§648.60   Sea Scallop Rotational Areas.

(a) Mid-Atlantic Scallop Rotational Area. The Mid-Atlantic Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 1 to Paragraph (a)

PointN latitudeW longitude
MAA139°3073°10
MAA239°3072°30
MAA338°3073°30'
MAA438°1073°30'
MAA538°1074°20
MAA638°5074°20
MAA738°5073°42
MAA139°3073°10

(b) Closed Area II—Southwest and Extension Scallop Rotational Area. The Closed Area II-Southwest and Extension Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 2 to Paragraph (b)

PointN latitudeW longitudeNote
CAIISWE141°1167°20
CAIISWE241°1166°41
CAIISWE341°066°41
CAIISWE441°0(1)(2)
CAIISWE540°40(3)(2)
CAIISWE640°4067°20
CAIISWE141°1167°20

1The intersection of 41°0 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°0 N lat. and 66°09.33 W long.

2From Point CAIISWE 4 connected to Point CAIISWE5 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

3The intersection of 40°40 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 40°40 N lat. and 65°52.61 W long.

(c) Closed Area I Scallop Rotational Area. The Closed Area I Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 3 to Paragraph (c)

PointN latitudeW longitude
CAIA141°3068°30
CAIA240°5868°30
CAIA340°54.9568°53.37
CAIA441°0469°01
CAIA541°3069°23
CAIA141°3068°30

(d) Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Area—(1) Closed Area II Scallop Rotational boundaries. The Closed Area II Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines, except where noted, connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 4 to Paragraph (d)(1)

PointN latitudeW longitudeNote
CAIIA141°3067°20
CAIIA241°1167°20
CAIIA341°1166°41
CAIIA441°0066°41
CAIIA541°00(1)(2)
CAIIA641°30(3)(2)
CAIIA141°3067°20

1The intersection of 41°00 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°00 N lat. and 66°09.33 W long.

2From Point CAIIA5 connected to Point CAIIA6 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

3The intersection of 41°30 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°30 N lat., 66°34.73 W long.

(2) Season. (i) A vessel issued a scallop permit may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the area known as the Closed Area II Sea Scallop Rotational Area, defined in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, during the period of August 15 through November 15 of each year the Closed Area II Access Area is open to scallop vessels, unless transiting pursuant to §648.59(a).

(ii) For the 2020 scallop fishing year, a vessel issued a scallop permit may not fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the area known as the Closed Area II Sea Scallop Rotational Area, defined in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, during the period of November 16 through November 30, unless transiting pursuant to §648.59(a).

(e) Nantucket Lightship-South-Deep Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket Lightship South-Deep Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 5 to Paragraph (e)

PointN latitudeW longitude
NLSSD140°2269°30
NLSSD240°1569°30
NLSSD340°1569°00
NLSSD440°2869°00
NLSSD540°2869°17
NLSSD140°2269°30

(f) Nantucket Lightship West Scallop Rotational Area. From April 1, 2020 through May 30, 2020, the Nantucket Lightship West Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 6 to Paragraph (f)

PointN latitudeW longitude
NLSW140°2070°00
NLSW240°43.4470°00
NLSW340°43.4469°30
NLSW440°2069°30
NLSW140°2070°00

(g) Nantucket Lightship-North Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket Lightship North Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 7 to Paragraph (g)

PointN latitudeW longitude
NLSN140°5069°30
NLSN240°5069°00
NLSN340°2869°00
NLSN440°2869°30
NLSN140°5069°30

(h) Nantucket Lightship-Triangle Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket Lightship Triangle Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 8 to Paragraph (h)

PointN latitudeW longitude
NLST140°2869°30
NLST240°2869°17
NLST340°2269°30
NLST140°2869°30

(i) Nantucket Lightship West Scallop Rotational Area. The Nantucket Lightship West Scallop Rotational Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 9 to Paragraph (i)

PointN latitudeW longitude
NLSW140°2070°00
NLSW240°43.4470°00
NLSW340°43.4469°30
NLSW440°2069°30
NLSW140°2070°00

[85 FR 17764, Mar. 31, 2020]

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 33030, June 1, 2020, §648.60 was amended by suspending paragraph (f) and adding paragraph (i), effective June 1, 2020 through Nov. 28, 2020.

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§648.61   [Reserved]

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§648.62   Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Program.

(a) The NGOM scallop management area is the area north of 42°20 N lat. and within the boundaries of the Gulf of Maine Scallop Dredge Exemption Area as specified in §648.80(h)(3)(i). To fish for or possess scallops in the NGOM scallop management area, a vessel must have been issued a scallop permit as specified in §648.4(a)(2).

(1) If a vessel has been issued a NGOM scallop permit, the vessel is restricted to fishing for or possessing scallops only in the NGOM scallop management area.

(2) Scallop landings by vessels issued NGOM permits shall be deducted from the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch when vessels fished all or part of a trip in the Federal waters portion of the NGOM. If a vessel with a NGOM scallop permit fishes exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, scallop landings from those trips will not be deducted from the Federal NGOM quota.

(3) Scallop landings by all vessels issued LAGC IFQ scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from the LAGC portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch specified in the specifications or framework adjustment processes defined in §648.55. Scallop landings by LAGC IFQ scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area shall be deducted from their respective scallop IFQs. Landings by incidental catch scallop vessels shall not be deducted from the NGOM total allowable catch specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

(4) A vessel issued a NGOM or LAGC IFQ scallop permit that fishes in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain up to 200 lb (90.7 kg) of shucked or 25 bu (8.81 hL) of in-shell scallops, and may possess up to 50 bu (17.6 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line. A vessel issued an incidental catch general category scallop permit that fishes in the NGOM may fish for, possess, or retain only up to 40 lb of shucked or 5 U.S. bu (1.76 hL) of in-shell scallops, and may possess up to 10 bu (3.52 hL) of in-shell scallops seaward of the VMS Demarcation Line.

(5) Scallop landings by all vessels issued scallop permits and fishing in the NGOM under the scallop RSA program (as specified in §648.56) shall be deducted from the limited access portion of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch.

(b) Total allowable catch. The total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area shall be specified through the framework adjustment process. The total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area shall be based on the Federal portion of the scallop resource in the NGOM. The total allowable catch shall be determined by historical landings until additional information on the NGOM scallop resource is available, for example through an NGOM resource survey and assessment. The ABC/ACL as defined in §648.53(a) shall not include the total allowable catch for the NGOM scallop management area, and landings from the NGOM scallop management area shall not be counted against the ABC/ACL defined in §648.53(a). The total allowable catch shall be divided between the limited access and the LAGC fleets.

(1) The LAGC and the limited access portions of the annual hard TAC for the NGOM 2020 and 2021 fishing years are as follows:

Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(1)

Fleet2020
   
2021
(default)
lbkglbkg
LAGC206,28293,567167,50075,977
Limited access140,00063,50397,50044,225
Total346,282157,071265,000120,202

(2) Unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the NGOM scallop management area and is transiting the NGOM scallop management area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, no vessel issued an LAGC or limited access scallop permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or land scallops in the NGOM scallop management area once the Regional Administrator has provided notification in the Federal Register that the vessel's respective portion(s) of the NGOM scallop total allowable catch in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section has been reached, unless the vessel is participating in the scallop RSA program as specified in §648.56, has been allocated NGOM RSA pounds, and the limited access portion of the NGOM TAC has not been reached. Once the NGOM hard TAC is reached, a vessel issued a NGOM permit may no longer declare a state-only NGOM scallop trip and fish for scallops exclusively in state waters within the NGOM, unless participating in the state waters exemption program as specified in §648.54. A vessel that has not been issued a Federal scallop permit that fishes exclusively in state waters is not subject to the closure of the NGOM scallop management area.

(3) If either the LAGC or the limited access portion of the annual NGOM TAC is exceeded, the amount of NGOM scallop landings in excess of the portion of the TAC specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section shall be deducted from the respective portion(s) of the NGOM TAC which has been exceeded for the subsequent fishing year, as soon as practicable, once scallop landings data for the NGOM management area is available.

(c) VMS requirements. Except scallop vessels issued a limited access scallop permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(2)(i) that have declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, a vessel issued a scallop permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(2) that intends to fish for scallops in the NGOM scallop management area or fishes for, possesses, or lands scallops in or from the NGOM scallop management area, must declare a NGOM scallop management area trip and report scallop catch through the vessel's VMS unit, as required in §648.10. If the vessel has a NGOM or IFQ permit, the vessel must declare either a Federal NGOM trip or a state-waters NGOM trip. If a vessel intends to fish any part of a NGOM trip in Federal NGOM waters, it may not declare into the state water NGOM fishery.

(d) Gear restrictions. Except scallop vessels issued a limited access scallop permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(2)(i) that have properly declared a NGOM trip under the scallop RSA program, the combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, LAGC scallop vessels fishing in the NGOM scallop management area may not exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge.

(e) Stellwagen Bank Scallop Closed Area. (1) From April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, unless a vessel has fished for scallops outside of the Stellwagen Bank scallop management area and is transiting the area with all fishing gear stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, no vessel issued a Federal scallop permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(2) may possess, retain, or land scallops in the Stellwagen Bank Scallop Closed Area.

(2) From April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, the Stellwagen Bank Scallop Closed Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Table 2 to Paragraph (e)(2)

PointN latitudeW longitude
SB142°2670°27
SB242°2670°15
SB342°2070°15
SB442°2070°27
SB142°2670°27

[73 FR 20131, Apr. 14, 2008, as amended at 75 FR 36576, June 28, 2010; 76 FR 43770, 43797, July 21, 2011; 77 FR 20741, Apr. 6, 2012; 78 FR 27108, May 9, 2013; 79 FR 52580, Sept. 4, 2014; 81 FR 26786, May 4, 2016; 81 FR 76529, Nov. 3, 2016; 82 FR 15163, Mar. 27, 2017; 83 FR 12862, Mar. 26, 2018; 84 FR 11445, Apr. 1, 2019; 85 FR 2324, Jan. 15, 2020; 85 FR 17766, Mar. 31, 2020]

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§648.63   General category Sectors and harvesting cooperatives.

(a) Procedure for implementing Sector allocation proposals. (1) Any person may submit a Sector allocation proposal for a group of LAGC scallop vessels to the Council, at least 1 year in advance of the start of the proposed sector, and request that the Sector be implemented through a framework procedure specified at §648.55, in accordance with the conditions and restrictions of this section.

(2) Upon receipt of a Sector allocation proposal, the Council must decide whether to initiate such framework. Should a framework adjustment to authorize a Sector allocation be initiated, the Council shall follow the framework adjustment provisions of §648.55. Any framework adjustment developed to implement a Sector allocation proposal must be in compliance with the general requirements specified in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section. Vessels that do not join a Sector remain subject to the LAGC scallop vessel regulations for non-Sector vessels specified under this part.

(b) General requirements applicable to all Sector allocations. All Sectors approved under the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section must submit the documents specified under paragraphs (a)(1) and (c) of this section, and comply with the conditions and restrictions of this paragraph (b).

(1) Participation. (i) Only LAGC scallop vessels are eligible to form Sectors, and Sectors may choose which eligible permit holders to include or exclude in the sector, consistent with all applicable law. A Sector may establish additional criteria for determining its membership, provided such criteria are specified in the Sector's operations plan and are consistent with all applicable law. Any interested group that meets the eligibility criteria may submit a proposal for a Sector. To initiate the process of Sector creation, a group (two or more) of permit holders must agree to cooperate and submit a binding plan for management of that Sector's allocation of total allowable catch. Vessels that do not choose to participate in a sector will fish under the IFQ program and remain in the non-sector scallop fishery.

(ii) Participation by incidental catch or NGOM scallop vessels in the Sector is subject to approval by the Council as part of the action that implements the Sector allocation, provided the details of such participation are specified in the Sector's operations plan. A Sector allocation may be harvested by non-Sector members, provided the Sector operations plan specifies that the Sector may authorize non-Sector vessels to harvest the Sector allocation. In this case, if the Sector is approved, the landings history of the participating non-Sector vessels may not be used in the calculation of future Sector shares and may not be used as scallop catch history for such vessels. The operations plan must specify how such participating non-Sector shall be subject to the rules of the Sector.

(iii) Once a vessel operator and/or vessel owner signs a binding contract to have his/her vessel participate in a Sector, that vessel must remain in the Sector for the remainder of the fishing year.

(iv) Vessels that fish in the LAGC scallop fishery outside the Sector allocation in a given fishing year may not participate in a Sector during that same fishing year, unless the Operations Plan provides an acceptable method for accounting for IFQ used, or catch by the vessel, prior to implementation of the Sector.

(v) Once a vessel operator and/or vessel owner has agreed to participate in a Sector as specified in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, that vessel must remain in the Sector for the entire fishing year. If a permit is transferred by a Sector participant during the fishing year, the new owner must also comply with the Sector regulations for the remainder of the fishing year.

(vi) Vessels and vessel operators and/or vessel owners removed from a Sector for violation of the Sector rules will not be eligible to fish under the scallop regulations for non-Sector vessels specified under this part either for any period specified in the final decision of penalty or sanction.

(vii) If a pre-existing Sector accepts a new member, the percentage share brought to the Sector is based on that vessel's average qualification landings at the time it joins the Sector (i.e., the vessel is treated as a “Sector of one” and a share based on the appropriate adjusted TACs is calculated). This new single-vessel-Sector share is added to the existing Sector. If a vessel leaves a Sector, that Sector's share is reduced by the individual vessel share the exiting vessel had when it joined the Sector.

(viii) A vessel may not be a member of more than one Sector. Once a vessel enters into a Sector, it cannot fish during that fishing year under the regulations that apply to the common pool. Additionally, vessels cannot shift from one Sector to another during a single fishing year. Therefore, if a vessel leaves a Sector for any reason, it cannot participate in the general category scallop fishery during the remainder of that fishing year

(2) Allocation of TAC to Sectors. (i) The sector allocation shall be equal to a percentage share of the ACL allocation for IFQ scallop vessels specified in §648.53(a), similar to an IFQ scallop vessel's IFQ as specified in §648.53(h). The sector's percentage share of the IFQ scallop fishery ACL catch shall not change, but the amount of allocation based on the percentage share will change based on the ACL specified in §648.53(a).

(ii) Sector share determination. When a Sector proposal is submitted, NMFS shall verify the contribution percentage as specified in §648.53(h)(2)(iii) for each vessel listed as a Sector member. The Sector's share shall be the sum of the participating vessels' contribution percentages.

(iii) A sector shall not be allocated more than 20 percent of the ACL for IFQ vessels defined in §648.53(a)(4).

(3) Once a Sector's allocation is projected to be harvested, Sector operations will be terminated for the remainder of the fishing year.

(4) If a Sector's allocation is exceeded in a given fishing year, the Sector, each vessel, and vessel operator and/or vessel owner participating in the Sector may be charged jointly and severally for civil penalties and permit sanction pursuant to 15 CFR part 904. If a Sector exceeds its allocation in more than one fishing year, the Sector's authorization to operate may be withdrawn.

(5) A vessel operator and/or vessel owner participating in a Sector is not subject to the limit on the vessel's catch based on the vessel's own IFQ or contribution percentage as defined in §648.53(h)(2)(iii), provided the vessel is participating in the Sector and carries on board a Letter of Authorization to participate in the Sector and exempts the vessel from its IFQ limit and any other related measures. The Sector shall determine how the Sector's allocation will be divided between its participating vessels, regardless of whether the catch by a participating vessel exceeds that vessel's own IFQ.

(6) Each vessel operator and/or vessel owner fishing under an approved Sector must comply with all scallop management measures of this part and other applicable law, unless exempted under a Letter of Authorization, as specified in paragraph (b)(11) of this section. Each vessel and vessel operator and/or vessel owner participating in a Sector must also comply with all applicable requirements and conditions of the Operations Plan specified in paragraph (c) of this section and the Letter of Authorization issued pursuant to paragraph (b)(11) of this section. It shall be unlawful to violate any such conditions and requirements and each Sector, vessel, and vessel operator and/or vessel owner participating in the Sector may be charged jointly and severally for civil penalties and permit sanctions pursuant to 15 CFR part 904.

(7) Approved Sectors must submit an annual year-end report to NMFS and the Council, within 60 days of the end of the fishing year, that summarizes the fishing activities of its members, including harvest levels of all federally managed species by Sector vessels, enforcement actions, and other relevant information required to evaluate the performance of the Sector.

(8) It shall be the responsibility of each Sector to track its activity and internally enforce any provisions adopted through procedures established in the operations plan and agreed to through the Sector contract. Sector contracts should describe graduated sanctions, including grounds for expulsion of Sector member vessels. The Sector and participating Sector vessels shall be subject to NMFS enforcement action for violations of the regulations pertaining to Sectors and other regulations under 50 CFR part 648. Vessels operating within a Sector are responsible for judgments against the Sector. Sector operations plans shall specify how a Sector will monitor its landings to assure that Sector landings do not exceed the Sector allocation. At the end of the fishing year, NMFS shall evaluate landings using VMS and any other available information to determine whether a Sector has exceeded any of its allocations based on the list of participating vessels submitted in the operations plan. If a Sector exceeds its TAC, the Sector may have its authorization as a Sector withdrawn by the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the Council, and may be subject to enforcement action.

(9) Permanent or temporary transfers of allocation between Sectors or between Sector and non-Sector participants is prohibited. For purposes of harvesting a Sector allocation only, vessels under contract to a Sector are assumed to be part of that Sector for the duration of that contract.

(10) The Sector allocation proposal must contain an appropriate analysis that assesses the impact of the proposed Sector, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

(11) If a Sector is approved as specified in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, the Regional Administrator shall issue a Letter of Authorization to each vessel operator and/or owner for the participating Sector vessel. The Letter of Authorization shall authorize participation in the Sector operations and may exempt the participating vessel from the requirement that the vessel cannot exceed its own IFQ and related measures. The Letter of Authorization may include requirements and conditions deemed necessary to ensure effective administration of and compliance with the Sector's operations plan and the Sector's allocation.

(c) Operations plans. (1) A group that wants to form a Sector and receive an allocation must submit a legally binding operations plan to the Council and the Regional Administrator. The operations plan must be agreed upon and signed by all members of the Sector and, if approved, shall constitute a contract.

(2) The operations plan among all of the Sector members must have, at a minimum, the following components:

(i) A list of all participants;

(ii) A contract signed by all participants indicating their agreement to abide by the operations plan;

(iii) An entity name, address, phone number, and the name and contact information for a Sector representative (a manager or director) that NMFS can contact regarding Sector management issues;

(iv) A plan explaining how the Sector will harvest its allocation, including methods to inform NMFS of changes in those arrangements over the year;

(v) The original distribution of catch history of vessels in the Sector (maintaining vessel data confidentiality);

(vi) A plan detailing how the Sector will avoid exceeding its allocated TACs, including provisions for monitoring and enforcement of the Sector regulations, and documenting all landings and discards;

(vii) Rules for entry to and exit from the Sector, including sanctions and procedures for removing members who do not comply with the operations plan;

(viii) Procedure for notifying NMFS if a member is no longer part of the Sector and the reason for leaving;

(ix) The process through which the operations plan can be amended by Sector members;

(x) If the Sector plans to authorize non-Sector vessels to harvest scallops allocated to the Sector, details of such arrangements must be described in the operations plan;

(xi) Any documents and analyses necessary to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act must be submitted to NMFS. The development of the analytical document is the responsibility of the applicants.

(xii) Any other information determined to be necessary and appropriate.

(d) Sector review, approval, and revocation. (1) A Sector shall submit its operations plan and any NEPA documents to the Regional Administrator and the Council no less than 1 year prior to the date that it wishes to begin operations under the Sector. The Council shall consider this plan in the course of the periodic framework adjustment or specification process and may, if approved, implement it through either of those processes. After Council approval of a Sector, the details of its operation shall be addressed between the Sector and NMFS, although the New England Fishery Management Council may review and provide comment on the proposed details.

(2) The Regional Administrator may withdraw approval of a Sector at any time if he/she, in consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, determines that Sector participants are not complying with the requirements of an approved operations plan or that the continuation of the operations plan will undermine achievement of fishing mortality objectives of the FMP. Withdrawal of approval of a Sector shall be completed after notice and comment rulemaking, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.

(3) A Sector is required to resubmit its operations plan to the Regional Administrator no later than July 1 of each year, whether or not the plan has changed. Once the submission documents specified under paragraphs (a)(1) and (c)(2) of this section have been determined to comply with the requirements of this section, NMFS may consult with the Council and shall approve or disapprove Sector operations consistent with applicable law.

[73 FR 20131, Apr. 14, 2008, as amended at 77 FR 20741, Apr. 6, 2012; 81 FR 76530, Nov. 3, 2016]

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§648.64   Flounder Stock sub-ACLs and AMs for the scallop fishery.

(a) As specified in §648.55(d), and pursuant to the biennial framework adjustment process specified in §648.90, the scallop fishery shall be allocated a sub-ACL for the Georges Bank and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stocks of yellowtail flounder and the northern and southern stocks of windowpane flounder. The sub-ACLs for the yellowtail flounder stocks and the windowpane flounder stocks are specified in §648.90(a)(4)(iii)(C) and (E) of the NE multispecies regulations, respectively.

(b) Accountability Measure Areas—(1) Georges Bank Accountability Measure Area. The Georges Bank Accountability Measure Area is defined by straight lines, except where noted, connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

PointN latitudeW longitudeNote
GBAM141°3067°20
GBAM241°30(1)(2)
GBAM340°30(3)(2)
GBAM440°3067°20
GBAM141°3067°20

1The intersection of 41°30 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°30 N lat., 66°34.73 W long.

2From Point GBAM2 connected to Point GBAM3 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

3The intersection of 40°30 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately, 65°44.34 W long.

(2) Mid-Atlantic Accountability Measure Area. The Mid-Atlantic Accountability Measure Areas is defined as the area west of 71° W Long., outside of the Sea Scallop Access Areas.

(c) Gear restriction. When subject to an accountability measure gear restricted area as described in paragraphs (d) through (g) of this section, a vessel must fish with scallop dredge gear that conforms to the following restrictions:

(1) No more than 5 rows of rings shall be used in the apron of the dredge. The apron is on the top side of the dredge, extends the full width of the dredge, and is the rows of dredge rings that extend from the back edge of the twine top (i.e., farthest from the dredge frame) to the clubstick; and

(2) The maximum hanging ratio for a net, net material, or any other material on the top of a scallop dredge (twine top) possessed or used by vessels fishing with scallop dredge gear does not exceed 1.5 meshes per 1 ring overall. This means that the twine top is attached to the rings in a pattern of alternating 2 meshes per ring and 1 mesh per ring (counted at the bottom where the twine top connects to the apron), for an overall average of 1.5 meshes per ring for the entire width of the twine top. For example, an apron that is 40 rings wide subtracting 5 rings one each side of the side pieces, yielding 30 rings, would only be able to use a twine top with 45 or fewer meshes so that the overall ratio of meshes to rings did not exceed 1.5 (45 meshes/30 rings = 1.5).

(3) Vessels may not fish for scallops with trawl gear when the gear restricted area accountability measure is in effect.

(d) Georges Bank Yellowtail Flounder Accountability measure. (1) Unless otherwise specified in §648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE multispecies regulations, if the Georges Bank yellowtail flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded and an accountability measure is triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv), the Georges Bank Accountability Measure Area, described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, shall be considered the Georges Bank Yellowtail Flounder Gear Restricted Area. Scallop vessels fishing in that area for the period of time specified in paragraph (d)(2) of this section must comply with the gear restrictions specified in paragraph (c) of this section.

(2) Duration of gear restricted area. The Georges Bank Yellowtail Flounder Gear Restricted Area shall remain in effect for the period of time based on the corresponding percent overage of the Georges Bank yellowtail flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

Percent overage of sub-ACLDuration of gear
restriction
20 or lessNovember 15 through December 31.
Greater than 20April through March (year round).

(e) SNE/MA yellowtail flounder accountability measure. (1) Unless otherwise specified in §648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE multispecies regulations, if the SNE/MA yellowtail flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded and an accountability measure is triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv), the Mid-Atlantic Accountability Measure Area, described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, shall be considered the SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder Gear Restricted Area. Scallop vessels participating in the DAS, or LAGC IFQ scallop fishery for the period of time specified in paragraph (e)(2) of this section must comply with the gear restrictions specified in paragraph (c) of this section when fishing in open areas. This accountability measure does not apply to scallop vessels fishing in Sea Scallop Access Areas.

(2) Duration of gear restricted area. The SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder Gear Restricted Area shall remain in effect for the period of time based on the corresponding percent overage of the SNE/MA yellowtail flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

Percent overage of sub-ACLDuration of gear
restriction
20 or lessApril.
Greater than 20April through May.

(f) Northern windowpane flounder accountability measure. (1) Unless otherwise specified in §648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE multispecies regulations, if the Northern windowpane flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded and an accountability measure is triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv), the Georges Bank Accountability Measure Area, described in (b)(1) of this section, shall be considered the Northern Windowpane Flounder Gear Restricted Area. Scallop vessels fishing in that area for the period of time specified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section must comply with the gear restrictions specified in paragraph (c) of this section.

(2) Duration of gear restricted area. The Northern Windowpane Flounder Gear Restricted Area shall remain in effect for the period of time based on the corresponding percent overage of the Georges Bank yellowtail flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

Percent overage of sub-ACLDuration of gear
restriction
20 or lessNovember 15 through December 31.
Greater than 20April through March (year round).

(g) Southern windowpane accountability measure. (1) Unless otherwise specified in §648.90(a)(5)(iv) of the NE multispecies regulations, if the southern windowpane flounder sub-ACL for the scallop fishery is exceeded and an accountability measure is triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv), the Mid-Atlantic Accountability Measure Area, described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, shall be considered the Southern Windowpane Flounder Gear Restricted Area. Scallop vessels participating in the DAS, or LAGC IFQ scallop fishery for the period of time specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section must comply with the gear restrictions specified in paragraph (c) of this section when fishing in open areas. This accountability measure does not apply to scallop vessels fishing in Sea Scallop Access Areas.

(2) Duration of gear restricted area. The SNE/MA Windowpane Flounder Gear Restricted Area shall remain in effect for the period of time based on the corresponding percent overage of the SNE/MA windowpane flounder sub-ACL, as follows:

Percent overage of sub-ACLDuration of gear
restriction
20 or lessFebruary.
Greater than 20March and February.

(h) Process for implementing the AM—(1) If there is reliable information to make a mid-year determination, that a flounder stock sub-ACL was exceeded, or is projected to be exceeded, the Regional Administrator shall determine, on or about January 15 of each year whether an accountability measure should be triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv). The determination shall include the amount of the overage or projected amount of the overage, specified as a percentage of the overall sub-ACL for the specific flounder stock. Based on this determination, the Regional Administrator shall implement the AM in the following fishing year in accordance with the APA and attempt to notify owners of limited access and LAGC scallop vessels by letter identifying the length of the gear restricted area and a summary of the catch, overage, and projection that resulted in the gear restricted area.

(2) If reliable information is not available to make a mid-year determination, after the end of the scallop fishing year the Regional Administrator shall determine whether the flounder stock sub-ACL was exceeded and if an accountability measure was triggered as described in §648.90(a)(5)(iv). The determination shall include the amount of the overage, specified as a percentage of the overall sub-ACL for the specific flounder stock. Based on this determination, the Regional Administrator shall implement the AM in accordance with the APA in Year 3 (e.g., an accountability measure would be implemented in fishing year 2016 for an overage that occurred in fishing year 2014) and attempt to notify owners of limited access and LAGC scallop vessels by letter identifying the length of the gear restricted area and a summary of the flounder stock catch and overage information.

[83 FR 17311, Apr. 19, 2018]

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§648.65   [Reserved]

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