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e-CFR data is current as of August 7, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648 → Subpart H


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


Subpart H—Management Measures for the Scup Fishery


Contents
§648.120   Scup Annual Catch Limit (ACL).
§648.121   Scup Annual Catch Target (ACT).
§648.122   Scup specifications.
§648.123   Scup accountability measures.
§648.124   Scup commercial season and commercial fishery area restrictions.
§648.125   Scup gear restrictions.
§648.126   Scup minimum fish sizes.
§648.127   Scup recreational fishing season.
§648.128   Scup possession restrictions.
§648.129   Protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles.
§648.130   Scup framework adjustments to management measures.
§648.131   Block Island Sound Transit Area.

Source: 61 FR 43426, Aug. 23, 1996, unless otherwise noted.

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§648.120   Scup Annual Catch Limit (ACL).

(a) The Scup Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC separate ACLs for the commercial and recreational scup fisheries, the sum total of which shall be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC.

(1) Sector allocations. The commercial and recreational fishing sector ACLs will be established consistent with the allocation guidelines contained in the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP.

(2) Periodicity. The scup commercial and recreational sector ACLs may be established on an annual basis for up to 3 years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple year ABC recommendations.

(b) Performance review. The Scup Monitoring Committee shall conduct a detailed review of fishery performance relative to the sector ACLs at least every 5 years.

(1) If one or both of the sector-specific ACLs is exceeded with a frequency greater than 25 percent (i.e., more than once in 4 years or any 2 consecutive years), the Scup Monitoring Committee will review fishery performance information and make recommendations to the MAFMC for changes in measures intended to ensure ACLs are not as frequently exceeded.

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

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

[76 FR 60631, Sept. 29, 2011]

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§648.121   Scup Annual Catch Target (ACT).

(a) The Scup Monitoring Committee shall identify and review the relevant sources of management uncertainty to recommend ACTs for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors as part of the scup specification process. The Scup Monitoring Committee recommendations shall identify the specific sources of management uncertainty that were considered, technical approaches to mitigating these sources of uncertainty, and any additional relevant information considered in the ACT recommendation process.

(1) Sectors. Commercial and recreational specific ACTs shall be less than or equal to the sector-specific ACLs. The Scup Monitoring Committee shall recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address sector-specific management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (a) of this section.

(2) Periodicity. ACTs may be established on an annual basis for up to 3 years at a time, dependent on whether the SSC provides single or multiple year ABC recommendations.

(b) Performance review. The Scup Monitoring Committee shall conduct a detailed review of fishery performance relative to ACTs in conjunction with any ACL performance review, as outlined in §648.120(b)(1) through (3).

[76 FR 60631, Sept. 29, 2011]

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§648.122   Scup specifications.

(a) Commercial quota, recreational landing limits, research set-asides, and other specification measures. The Scup Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the Demersal Species Committee of the MAFMC and the ASMFC through the specifications process, for use in conjunction with each ACL and ACT, a sector specific research set-aside, estimates of sector-related discards, recreational harvest limit, and commercial quota, along with other measures, as needed, that are projected to ensure the sector-specific ACL for an upcoming fishing year or years will not be exceeded. The measures to be considered by the Scup Monitoring Committee are as follows:

(1) Research quota set from a range of 0 to 3 percent of the maximum allowed to achieve the specified exploitation rate.

(2) The commercial quota for each of the three periods specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section for research quota.

(3) Possession limits for the Winter I and Winter II periods, including possession limits that result from potential rollover of quota from Winter I to Winter II. The possession limit is the maximum quantity of scup that is allowed to be landed within a 24-hour period (calendar day).

(4) Percent of landings attained at which the landing limit for the Winter I period will be reduced.

(5) All scup landed for sale in any state during a quota period shall be applied against the coastwide commercial quota for that period, regardless of where the scup were harvested, except as provided in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.

(6) Minimum mesh size.

(7) Recreational possession limit set from a range of 0 to 50 scup to achieve the recreational harvest limit, set after the reduction for research quota.

(8) Recreational minimum fish size.

(9) Recreational season.

(10) Restrictions on gear.

(11) Season and area closures in the commercial fishery.

(12) Total allowable landings on an annual basis for a period not to exceed 3 years.

(13) Changes, as appropriate, 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.

(14) Modification of existing AM measures and ACT control rules utilized by the Scup Monitoring Committee.

(b) Specification of fishing measures. The Demersal Species Committee shall review the recommendations of the Scup Monitoring Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment, the Demersal Species Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC measures necessary to assure that the specified ACLs will not be exceeded. The MAFMC's recommendation must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental and economic impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall review these recommendations and any recommendations of the ASMFC. After such review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to implement a commercial quota, specifying the amount of quota allocated to each of the three periods, possession limits for the Winter I and Winter II periods, including possession limits that result from potential rollover of quota from Winter I to Winter II, the percentage of landings attained during the Winter I fishery at which the possession limits will be reduced, a recreational harvest limit, and additional management measures for the commercial fishery. If the Regional Administrator determines that additional recreational measures are necessary to ensure that the sector ACL will not be exceeded, he or she will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to implement additional management measures for the recreational fishery. After considering public comment, the Regional Administrator will publish a final rule in the Federal Register to implement annual measures.

(c) Distribution of commercial quota. (1) The annual commercial quota will be allocated into three periods, based on the following percentages:

PeriodPercent
Winter I—January-April45.11
Summer—May-September38.95
Winter II—October-December15.94

(2) The commercial quotas for each period will each be distributed to the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina on a coastwide basis.

(d) Winter I and II commercial quota adjustment procedures. The Regional Administrator will monitor the harvest of commercial quota for the Winter I period based on dealer reports, state data, and other available information and shall determine the total amount of scup landed during the Winter I period. In any year that the Regional Administrator determines that the landings of scup during Winter I are less than the Winter I quota for that year, he/she shall increase, through publication of a notification in the Federal Register, provided such rule complies with the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, the Winter II quota for that year by the amount of the Winter I under-harvest. The Regional Administrator shall also adjust, through publication of a notification in the Federal Register, the Winter II possession limits consistent with the amount of the quota increase, based on the possession limits established through the annual specifications-setting process.

(e) Research quota. See §648.21(g).

[76 FR 60631, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 81850, Dec. 29, 2011; 80 FR 37196, June 30, 2015; 83 FR 17315, Apr. 19, 2018]

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§648.123   Scup accountability measures.

(a) Commercial sector period closures. The Regional Administrator will monitor the harvest of commercial quota for each quota period based on dealer reports, state data, and other available information and shall determine the date when the commercial quota for a period will be harvested. NMFS shall close the EEZ to fishing for scup by commercial vessels for the remainder of the indicated period by publishing notification in the Federal Register advising that, effective upon a specific date, the commercial quota for that period has been harvested, and notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that no commercial quota is available for landing scup for the remainder of the period.

(1) Commercial ACL overage evaluation. The commercial sector ACL will be evaluated based on a single-year examination of total catch (landings and dead discards). Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the commercial sector ACL has been exceeded.

(2) Commercial landings overage repayment by quota period. (i) All scup landed for sale in any state during a quota period shall be applied against the coastwide commercial quota for that period, regardless of where the scup were harvested, except as provided in paragraph (a)(2)(iv) of this section, and irrespective of whether the commercial sector ACL is exceeded. Any current year landings in excess of the commercial quota in any quota period will be deducted from that quota period's annual quota in the following year as prescribed in paragraphs (a)(2)(ii) through (iii) of this section:

(ii) For the Winter I and Summer quota periods, landings in excess of the allocation will be deducted from the appropriate quota period for the following year in the final rule that establishes the annual quota. The overage deduction will be based on landings for the current year through September 30 and on landings for the previous calendar year that were not included when the overage deduction was made in the final rule that established the period quotas for the current year. If the Regional Administrator determines during the fishing year that any part of an overage deduction was based on erroneous landings data that were in excess of actual landings for the period concerned, he/she will restore the overage that was deducted in error to the appropriate quota allocation. The Regional Administrator will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the restoration.

(iii) For the Winter II quota period, landings in excess of the allocation will be deducted from the Winter II period for the following year through notification in the Federal Register during July of the following year. The overage deduction will be based on landings information available for the Winter II period as of June 30 of the following year. If the Regional Administrator determines during the fishing year that any part of an overage deduction was based on erroneous landings data that were in excess of actual landings for the period concerned, he/she will restore the overage that was deducted in error to the appropriate quota allocation. The Regional Administrator will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the restoration.

(iv) During a fishing year in which the Winter I quota period is closed prior to April 15, a state may apply to the Regional Administrator for authorization to count scup landed for sale in that state from April 15 through April 30 by state-only permitted vessels fishing exclusively in waters under the jurisdiction of that state against the Summer period quota. Requests to the Regional Administrator to count scup landings in a state from April 15 through April 30 against the Summer period quota must be made by letter signed by the principal state official with marine fishery management responsibility and expertise, or his/her designee, and must be received by the Regional Administrator no later than April 15. Within 10 working days following receipt of the letter, the Regional Administrator shall notify the appropriate state official of the disposition of the request.

(b) Non-landing accountability measure. In the event that the commercial ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been accommodated through the landings-based AM, then the following procedure will be followed:

(1) Overfishing, rebuilding, or unknown stock status. If the most recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold (i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or BMSY) are unknown, and the commercial ACL has been exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year's commercial catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's commercial ACL will be deducted, in the following fishing year from the commercial ACT, as a single-year adjustment.

(2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following AMs will apply:

(i) If the Commercial ACL has been exceeded, but not the overall ABC, then no single-year AM payback is required.

(ii) If the Commercial ACL and ABC have been exceeded, then a scaled single-year adjustment to the commercial ACT will be made, in the following fishing year. The ACT will be reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, defined as the difference between the commercial catch and the commercial ACT, and the payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., BMSY−B) divided by one-half of BMSY.

(3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater than 1.0), then no single-year AM payback is required.

(c) Recreational ACL. The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch (landings and dead discards). Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational sector ACL has been exceeded. The 3-year moving average will be phased in over the first 3 years, beginning with 2012: Total recreational total catch from 2012 will be compared to the 2012 recreational sector ACL; the average total catch from both 2012 and 2013 will be compared to the average of the 2012 and 2013 recreational sector ACLs; the average total catch from 2012, 2013, and 2014 will be compared to the average of 2012, 2013, and 2014 recreational sector ACLs; and for all subsequent years, the preceding 3-year average recreational total catch will be compared to the preceding 3-year average recreational sector ACL.

(d) Recreational AMs. If the recreational ACL is exceeded, then the following procedure will be followed:

(1) If biomass is below the threshold, the stock is under rebuilding, or biological reference points are unknown. If the most recent estimate of biomass is below the BMSY threshold (i.e., B/BMSY is less than 0.5), the stock is under a rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (B or BMSY) are unknown, and the recreational ACL has been exceeded, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the most recent year's recreational catch estimate exceeded the most recent year's recreational ACL will be deducted in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible, thereafter, once catch data are available, from the recreational ACT, as a single-year adjustment.

(2) If biomass is above the threshold, but below the target, and the stock is not under rebuilding. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above the biomass threshold (B/BMSY is greater than 0.5), but below the biomass target (B/BMSY is less than 1.0), and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then the following AMs will apply:

(i) If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded. If the Recreational ACL has been exceeded, then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a single-year adjustment.

(ii) If the ABC has been exceeded. If the ABC has been exceeded, then a single year adjustment to the recreational ACT will be made, in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(A) of this section. In addition, adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following year.

(A) Adjustment to Recreational ACT. If an adjustment to the following year's Recreational ACT is required, then the ACT will be reduced by the exact amount, in pounds, of the product of the overage, defined as the difference between the recreational catch and the recreational ACL, and the payback coefficient, as specified in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section.

(B) Payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass and BMSY (i.e., BMSY−B) divided by one-half of BMSY.

(3) If biomass is above BMSY. If the most recent estimate of biomass is above BMSY (i.e., B/BMSY is greater than 1.0), then adjustments to the recreational management measures, taking into account the performance of the measures and conditions that precipitated the overage, will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, as a single-year adjustment.

(e) State/Federal disconnect AM. If the total catch, allowable landings, commercial quotas, and/or RHL measures adopted by the ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board and the MAFMC differ for a given fishing year, administrative action will be taken as soon as possible to revisit the respective recommendations of the two groups. The intent of this action shall be to achieve alignment through consistent state and Federal measures such that no differential effects occur on Federal permit holders.

[76 FR 60632, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 78 FR 76763, Dec. 19, 2013; 83 FR 17315, Apr. 19, 2018; 83 FR 53827, Oct. 25, 2018]

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§648.124   Scup commercial season and commercial fishery area restrictions.

(a) Southern Gear Restricted Area—(1) Restrictions. From January 1 through March 15, all trawl vessels in the Southern Gear Restricted Area that fish for or possess non-exempt species as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section must fish with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 5.0-inch (12.7-cm) diamond mesh, applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net. For trawl nets with codends (including an extension) of fewer than 75 meshes, the entire trawl net must have a minimum mesh size of 5.0 inches (12.7 cm) throughout the net. The Southern Gear Restricted Area is an area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Southern Gear Restricted Area

PointLatitudeLongitude
SGA139°20 N72°37 W.
SGA239°4.38 N72°47.22 W.
SGA338°28.65 N73°29.37 W.
SGA438°29.72 N73°30.65 W.
SGA538°26.32 N73°33.44 W.
SGA638°25.08 N73°34.99 W.
SGA738°13.15 N73°49.77 W.
SGA838°13.74 N73°50.73 W.
SGA938°11.98 N73°52.65 W.
SGA1037°29.53 N74°29.95 W.
SGA1137°29.43 N74°30.29 W.
SGA1237°28.6 N74°30.6 W.
SGA1337°6.97 N74°40.8 W.
SGA1437°5.83 N74°45.57 W.
SGA1537°4.43 N74°41.03 W.
SGA1637°3.5 N74°40.39 W.
SGA1737° N74°43 W.
SGA1837° N75°3 W.
SGA1938° N74°23 W.
SGA2039°20 N72°53 W.
SGA139°20 N72°37 W.

(2) Non-exempt species. Unless otherwise specified in paragraph (d) of this section, the restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section apply only to vessels in the Southern Gear Restricted Area that are fishing for or in possession of the following non-exempt species: Longfin squid; black sea bass; and silver hake (whiting).

(b) Northern Gear Restricted Area 1—(1) Restrictions. From November 1 through December 31, all trawl vessels in the Northern Gear Restricted Area 1 that fish for or possess non-exempt species as specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section must fish with nets of 5.0-inch (12.7-cm) diamond mesh, applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net. For trawl nets with codends (including an extension) of fewer than 75 meshes, the entire trawl net must have a minimum mesh size of 5.0 inches (12.7 cm) throughout the net. The Northern Gear Restricted Area 1 is an area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Northern Gear Restricted Area 1

PointN. lat.W. long.
NGA141°0071°00
NGA241°0071°30
NGA340°0072°40
NGA440°0072°05
NGA141°0071°00

(2) Non-exempt species. Unless otherwise specified in paragraph (d) of this section, the restrictions specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section apply only to vessels in the Northern Gear Restricted Area 1 that are fishing for, or in possession of, the following non-exempt species: Longfin squid squid; black sea bass; and silver hake (whiting).

(c) Transiting. Vessels that are subject to the provisions of the Southern and Northern GRAs, as specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, respectively, may transit these areas provided that trawl net codends on board of mesh size less than that specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(d) [Reserved]

(e) Addition or deletion of exemptions. The MAFMC may recommend to the Regional Administrator, through the framework procedure specified in §648.130(a), additions or deletions to exemptions for fisheries other than scup. A fishery may be restricted or exempted by area, gear, season, or other means determined to be appropriate to reduce bycatch of scup.

(f) Exempted experimental fishing. The Regional Administrator may issue an exempted experimental fishing permit (EFP) under the provisions of §600.745(b), consistent with paragraph (d)(2) of this section, to allow any vessel participating in a scup discard mitigation research project to engage in any of the following activities: Fish in the applicable gear restriction area; use fishing gear that does not conform to the regulations; possess non-exempt species specified in paragraphs (a)(2) and (b)(2) of this section; or engage in any other activity necessary to project operations for which an exemption from regulatory provision is required. Vessels issued an EFP must comply with all conditions and restrictions specified in the EFP.

(1) A vessel participating in an exempted experimental fishery in the Scup Gear Restriction Area(s) must carry an EFP authorizing the activity and any required Federal fishery permit on board.

(2) The Regional Administrator may not issue an EFP unless s/he determines that issuance is consistent with the objectives of the FMP, the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law and will not:

(i) Have a detrimental effect on the scup resource and fishery;

(ii) Cause the quotas for any species of fish for any quota period to be exceeded;

(iii) Create significant enforcement problems; or

(iv) Have a detrimental effect on the scup discard mitigation research project.

[76 FR 60633, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 77 FR 16480, Mar. 21, 2012; 79 FR 52580, Sept. 4, 2014; 81 FR 78731, Nov. 9, 2016]

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§648.125   Scup gear restrictions.

(a) Trawl vessel gear restrictions—(1) Minimum mesh size. No owner or operator of an otter trawl vessel that is issued a scup moratorium permit may possess more than 1,000 lb (454 kg) of scup from October 1 through April 14, more than 2,000 lb (907 kg) from April 15 through June 15, or more than 200 lb (91 kg) of scup from June 16 through September 30, unless fishing with nets that have a minimum mesh size of 5.0-inch (12.7-cm) diamond mesh, applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, and all other nets are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(2) Mesh-size measurement. Mesh sizes will be measured according to the procedure specified in §648.104(a)(2).

(3) Net modification. The owner or operator of a fishing vessel subject to the minimum mesh requirements in §648.124 and paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall not use any device, gear, or material, including, but not limited to, nets, net strengtheners, ropes, lines, or chafing gear, on the top of the regulated portion of a trawl net. However, one splitting strap and one bull rope (if present), consisting of line or rope no more than 3 inches (7.2 cm) in diameter, may be used if such splitting strap and/or bull rope does not constrict in any manner the top of the regulated portion of the net, and one rope no greater that 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) in diameter extending the length of the net from the belly to the terminus of the codend along the top, bottom, and each side of the net. “Top of the regulated portion of the net” means the 50 percent of the entire regulated portion of the net that (in a hypothetical situation) will not be in contact with the ocean bottom during a tow if the regulated portion of the net were laid flat on the ocean floor. For the purpose of this paragraph (a)(3), head ropes are not considered part of the top of the regulated portion of a trawl net.

(4) Mesh obstruction or constriction. (i) The owner or operator of a fishing vessel subject to the minimum mesh restrictions in §648.124 and in paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall not use any mesh construction, mesh configuration, or other means on, in, or attached to the top of the regulated portion of the net, as defined in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, if it obstructs or constricts the meshes of the net in any manner.

(ii) The owner or operator of a fishing vessel subject to the minimum mesh requirements in §648.124 and in paragraph (a)(1) of this section may not use a net capable of catching scup if the bars entering or exiting the knots twist around each other.

(5) Stowage of nets. The owner or operator of an otter trawl vessel retaining 1,000 lb (454 kg) or more of scup from October 1 through April 14, 2,000 lb (907 kg) or more of scup from April 15 through June 15, or 200 lb (90.7 kg) or more of scup from June 16 through September 30, and subject to the minimum mesh requirements in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and the owner or operator of a midwater trawl or other trawl vessel subject to the minimum size requirement in §648.126, may not have available for immediate use any net, or any piece of net, not meeting the minimum mesh size requirement, or mesh that is rigged in a manner that is inconsistent with the minimum mesh size. A net that is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, and that can be shown not to have been in recent use, is considered to be not available for immediate use.

(6) Roller gear. The owner or operator of an otter trawl vessel issued a moratorium permit pursuant to §648.4(a)(6) shall not use roller rig trawl gear equipped with rollers greater than 18 inches (45.7 cm) in diameter.

(7) Procedures for changes. The minimum net mesh and the threshold catch level at which it is required set forth in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and the maximum roller diameter set forth in paragraph (a)(6) of this section, may be changed following the procedures in §648.122.

(b) Pot and trap gear restrictions. Owners or operators of vessels subject to this part must fish with scup pots or traps that comply with the following:

(1) Degradable hinges. A scup pot or trap must have degradable hinges and fasteners made of one of the following degradable materials:

(i) Untreated hemp, jute, or cotton string of 316 inches (4.8 mm) diameter or smaller;

(ii) Magnesium alloy, timed float releases (pop-up devices) or similar magnesium alloy fasteners; or

(iii) Ungalvanized or uncoated iron wire of 0.094 inches (2.4 mm) diameter or smaller.

(iv) The use of a single non-degradable retention device designed to prevent loss of the ghost panel after the degradable materials have failed is permitted provided the device does not impair the egress design function of the ghost panel by obstructing the opening or by preventing the panel from opening at such time that the degradable fasteners have completely deteriorated.

(2) Escape vents. (i) All scup pots or traps that have a circular escape vent with a minimum of 3.1 inches (7.9 cm) in diameter, or a square escape vent with a minimum of 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) for each side, or an equivalent rectangular escape vent.

(ii) The minimum escape vent size set forth in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section may be revised following the procedures in §648.122.

(3) Pot and trap identification. Pots or traps used in fishing for scup must be marked with a code of identification that may be the number assigned by the Regional Administrator and/or the identification marking as required by the vessel's home port state.

[76 FR 60634, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 79 FR 52580, Sept. 4, 2014; 81 FR 51378, Aug. 4, 2016; 83 FR 17315, Apr. 19, 2018; 83 FR 64487, Dec. 17, 2018]

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§648.126   Scup minimum fish sizes.

(a) Moratorium (commercially) permitted vessels. The minimum size for scup is 9 inches (22.9 cm) TL for all vessels issued a moratorium permit under §648.4(a)(6). If such a vessel is also issued a charter and party boat permit and is carrying passengers for hire, or carrying more than three crew members if a charter boat, or more than five crew members if a party boat, then the minimum size specified in paragraph (b) of this section applies.

(b) Party/Charter permitted vessels and recreational fishery participants. The minimum size for scup is 9 inches (22.9 cm) total length for all vessels that do not have a scup moratorium permit, or for party and charter vessels that are issued a scup moratorium permit but are fishing with passengers for hire, or carrying more than three crew members if a charter boat, or more than five crew members if a party boat. However, possession of smaller scup harvested from state waters is allowed for state-only permitted vessels when transiting Federal waters within the Block Island Sound Transit Area provided they follow the provisions at §648.131 and abide by state regulations.

(c) The minimum size applies to whole fish or any part of a fish found in possession, e.g., fillets. These minimum sizes may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in §648.122.

[76 FR 60635, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 78 FR 37480, June 21, 2013; 79 FR 38264, July 7, 2014; 84 FR 65703, Nov. 29, 2019]

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§648.127   Scup recreational fishing season.

Fishermen and vessels that are not eligible for a scup moratorium permit under §648.4(a)(6), may possess scup year-round, subject to the possession limit specified in §648.128(a). The recreational fishing season may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in §648.122. Should the recreational fishing season be modified, non-federally scup permitted vessels abiding by state regulations may transit with scup harvested from state waters on board through the Block Island Sound Transit Area following the provisions outlined in §648.131.

[84 FR 65703, Nov. 29, 2019]

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§648.128   Scup possession restrictions.

(a) Party/Charter and recreational possession limits. No person shall possess more than 50 scup in, or harvested from, per trip the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a scup moratorium permit, or is issued a scup dealer permit. Persons aboard a commercial vessel that is not eligible for a scup moratorium permit are subject to this possession limit. The owner, operator, and crew of a charter or party boat issued a scup moratorium permit are subject to the possession limit when carrying passengers for hire or when carrying more than five crew members for a party boat, or more than three crew members for a charter boat. This possession limit may be adjusted pursuant to the procedures in §648.122. However, possession of scup harvested from state waters above this possession limit is allowed for state-only permitted vessels when transiting Federal waters within the Block Island Sound Transit Area provided they follow the provisions at §648.131 and abide by state regulations.

(b) If whole scup are processed into fillets, an authorized officer will convert the number of fillets to whole scup at the place of landing by dividing fillet number by 2. If scup are filleted into a single (butterfly) fillet, such fillet shall be deemed to be from one whole scup.

(c) Scup harvested by vessels subject to the possession limit with more than one person aboard may be pooled in one or more containers. Compliance with the possession limit will be determined by dividing the number of scup on board by the number of persons aboard other than the captain and crew. If there is a violation of the possession limit on board a vessel carrying more than one person, the violation shall be deemed to have been committed by the owner and operator.

(d) Scup and scup parts harvested by a vessel with a moratorium or charter or party boat scup permit, or in or from the EEZ north of 35°15.3 N. lat., may not be landed with the skin removed.

[76 FR 60635, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 77 FR 30431, May 23, 2012; 78 FR 37480, June 21, 2013; 80 FR 35258, June 19, 2015; 84 FR 65703, Nov. 29, 2019]

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§648.129   Protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles.

This section supplements existing regulations issued to regulate incidental take of sea turtles under authority of the Endangered Species Act under 50 CFR parts 222 and 223. In addition to the measures required under those parts, NMFS will investigate the extent of sea turtle takes in flynet gear and, if deemed appropriate, may develop and certify a Turtle Excluder Device for that gear.

[76 FR 60635, Sept. 29, 2011]

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§648.130   Scup framework adjustments to management measures.

(a) Within season management action. See §648.110(a).

(1) Adjustment process. The MAFMC shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions over the span of at least two MAFMC meetings. The MAFMC must provide the public with advance notice of the availability of the recommendation(s), appropriate justification(s) and economic and biological analyses, and the opportunity to comment on the proposed adjustment(s) at the first meeting and prior to and at the second MAFMC meeting. The MAFMC's recommendations on adjustments or additions to management measures must come from one or more of the following categories: Adjustments within existing ABC control rules; adjustments to the existing MAFMC risk policy; introduction of new AMs, including sub-ACTs; minimum fish size; maximum fish size; gear restrictions; gear restricted areas; gear requirements or prohibitions; permitting restrictions; recreational possession limits; recreational seasons; closed areas; commercial seasons; commercial trip limits; commercial quota system including commercial quota allocation procedure and possible quota set asides to mitigate bycatch; recreational harvest limits; annual specification quota setting process; FMP Monitoring Committee composition and process; description and identification of EFH (and fishing gear management measures that impact EFH); description and identification of habitat areas of particular concern; regional gear restrictions; regional season restrictions (including option to split seasons); restrictions on vessel size (LOA and GRT) or shaft horsepower; operator permits; 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; any other commercial or recreational management measures; any other management measures currently included in the FMP; and set aside quota for scientific research.

(2) MAFMC recommendation. See §648.110(a)(2)(i) through (iv).

(3) NMFS action. See §648.110(a)(3)(i) through (iii).

(4) Emergency actions. See §648.110(a)(4).

(b) [Reserved]

[76 FR 60635, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 80 FR 37196, June 30, 2015]

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§648.131   Block Island Sound Transit Area.

Vessels not issued a scup Federal moratorium or party/charter permit, and recreational fishing participants fishing exclusively in state waters may transit with scup harvested from state waters on board through Federal waters of the EEZ within Block Island Sound, north of a line connecting Montauk Light, Montauk Point, NY, and Block Island Southeast Light, Block Island, RI; and west of a line connecting Point Judith Light, Point Judith, RI, and Block Island Southeast Light, Block Island, RI. Within this area, possession of scup is permitted regardless of the minimum size, possession limit, and seasons outlined in §§648.126, 648.127, and 648.128, provided no fishing takes place from the vessel while in Federal waters of the EEZ, the vessel complies with state regulations, and is in continuous transit. During such transit through this area, commercial gear must be stowed in accordance with the definition of “not available for immediate use” found at §648.2, and party/charter vessels and recreational participants must have all bait and hooks removed from fishing rods, and any scup on board must be stored in a cooler or container.

[84 FR 65703, Nov. 29, 2019]

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