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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of October 16, 2019

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648 → Subpart J


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


Subpart J—Management Measures for the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery


Contents
§648.160   Bluefish Annual Catch Limit (ACL).
§648.161   Bluefish Annual Catch Targets (ACTs).
§648.162   Bluefish specifications.
§648.163   Bluefish Accountability Measures (AMs).
§648.164   Bluefish possession restrictions.
§648.165   Bluefish minimum fish sizes.
§648.166   Bluefish gear restrictions.
§648.167   Bluefish framework adjustment to management measures.

Source: 65 FR 45852, July 26, 2000, unless otherwise noted.

§648.160   Bluefish Annual Catch Limit (ACL).

(a) The Bluefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC an ACL for the bluefish fishery, which shall be equal to the ABC recommended by the SSC.

(1) Periodicity. The bluefish fishery ACL 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.

(2) [Reserved]

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

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

(2) The MAFMC may specify more frequent or more specific ACL performance review criteria as part of a stock rebuilding plan following the determination that the bluefish 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 60639, Sept. 29, 2011]

§648.161   Bluefish Annual Catch Targets (ACTs).

(a) The Bluefish 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 bluefish specification process. The Bluefish 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. The sum of the commercial and recreational sector-specific ACTs shall be less than or equal to the fishery level ACL. The Bluefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend any reduction in catch necessary to address management uncertainty, consistent with paragraph (a) of this section. A total of 83 percent of the fishery-level ACT will be allocated to the recreational fishery. A total of 17 percent of the fishery-level ACT will be allocated to the commercial fishery.

(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 Bluefish Monitoring Committee shall conduct a detailed review of fishery performance relative to ACTs in conjunction with any ACL performance review, as outlined in §648.160(b)(1) through (3).

[76 FR 60639, Sept. 29, 2011]

§648.162   Bluefish specifications.

(a) Recommended measures. Based on the annual review and requests for research quota as described in paragraph (h) of this section, the Bluefish Monitoring Committee shall recommend to the Coastal Migratory Committee of the MAFMC and the ASMFC the following measures to ensure that the ACL specified by the process outlined in §648.160(a) will not be exceeded:

(1) A fishery-level ACT;

(2) Research quota set from a range of 0 to 3 percent of TALs;

(3) Commercial minimum fish size;

(4) Minimum mesh size;

(5) Recreational possession limit set from a range of 0 to 20 bluefish;

(6) Recreational minimum fish size;

(7) Recreational season;

(8) Restrictions on gear other than otter trawls and gill nets;

(9) 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; and

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

(b) TAL—(1) Recreational harvest limit. If research quota is specified as described in paragraph (g) of this section, the recreational harvest limit will be based on the TAL remaining after the deduction of the research quota.

(2) Commercial quota. If 17 percent of the TAL is less than 10.5 million lb (4.8 million kg) and the recreational fishery is not projected to land its harvest limit for the upcoming year, the commercial fishery may be allocated up to 10.5 million lb (4.8 million kg) as its quota, provided that the combination of the projected recreational landings and the commercial quota does not exceed the TAL. If research quota is specified as described in paragraph (g) of this section, the commercial quota will be based on the TAL remaining after the deduction of the research quota.

(c) Annual fishing measures. The MAFMC's Coastal Migratory Committee shall review the recommendations of the Bluefish Monitoring Committee. Based on these recommendations and any public comment, the Coastal Migratory Committee shall recommend to the MAFMC measures necessary to ensure that the ACL will not be exceeded. The MAFMC shall review these recommendations and, based on the recommendations and any public comment, recommend to the Regional Administrator by September 1 measures necessary to ensure that the applicable ACL will not be exceeded. The MAFMC's recommendations must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall review these recommendations and any recommendations of the ASMFC. After such review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register as soon as practicable, to implement an ACL, ACTs, research quota, a coastwide commercial quota, individual state commercial quotas, a recreational harvest limit, and additional management measures for the commercial and recreational fisheries to ensure that the ACL will not be exceeded. After considering public comment, NMFS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register.

(d) Distribution of annual commercial quota. (1) The annual commercial quota will be distributed to the states, based upon the following percentages; state each followed by its allocation in parentheses: ME (0.6685); NH (0.4145); MA (6.7167); RI (6.8081); CT (1.2663); NY (10.3851); NJ (14.8162) DE (1.8782); MD (3.0018); VA (11.8795); NC (32.0608); SC (0.0352); GA (0.0095); and FL (10.0597). Note: The sum of all state allocations does not add to 100 because of rounding.

(2) [Reserved]

(e) Quota transfers and combinations. Any state implementing a state commercial quota for bluefish may request approval from the Regional Administrator to transfer part or all of its annual quota to one or more states. Two or more states implementing a state commercial quota for bluefish may request approval from the Regional Administrator to combine their quotas, or part of their quotas, into an overall regional quota. Requests for transfer or combination of commercial quotas for bluefish must be made by individual or joint letter(s) signed by the principal state official with marine fishery management responsibility and expertise, or his/her previously named designee, for each state involved. The letter(s) must certify that all pertinent state requirements have been met and identify the states involved and the amount of quota to be transferred or combined.

(1) Within 10 working days following the receipt of the letter(s) from the states involved, the Regional Administrator shall notify the appropriate state officials of the disposition of the request. In evaluating requests to transfer a quota or combine quotas, the Regional Administrator shall consider whether:

(i) The transfer or combination would preclude the overall annual quota from being fully harvested;

(ii) The transfer addresses an unforeseen variation or contingency in the fishery; and

(iii) The transfer is consistent with the objectives of the Bluefish FMP and Magnuson-Stevens Act.

(2) The transfer of quota or the combination of quotas will be valid only for the calendar year for which the request was made.

(3) A state may not submit a request to transfer quota or combine quotas if a request to which it is party is pending before the Regional Administrator. A state may submit a new request when it receives notification that the Regional Administrator has disapproved the previous request or when notification of the approval of the transfer or combination has been published in the Federal Register.

(f) Based upon any changes in the landings data available from the states for the base years 1981-89, the ASMFC and the MAFMC may recommend to the Regional Administrator that the states' shares specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section be revised. The MAFMC's and the ASMFC's recommendation must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental and economic impacts of the recommendation. The Regional Administrator shall review the recommendation of the ASMFC and the MAFMC. After such review, NMFS will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to implement a revision in the state shares. After considering public comment, NMFS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register to implement the changes in allocation.

(g) Research quota. See §648.21(g).

[76 FR 60639, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 81850, Dec. 29, 2011; 80 FR 37197, June 30, 2015]

§648.163   Bluefish Accountability Measures (AMs).

(a) ACL overage evaluation. The 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 ACL has been exceeded.

(b) Commercial sector EEZ closure. NMFS shall close the EEZ to fishing for bluefish by commercial vessels for the remainder of the calendar year by publishing notification in the Federal Register if the Regional Administrator determines that the inaction of one or more states will cause the ACL specified in §648.160(a) to be exceeded, or if the commercial fisheries in all states have been closed. NMFS may reopen the EEZ if earlier inaction by a state has been remedied by that state, or if commercial fisheries in one or more states have been reopened without causing the ACL to be exceeded.

(c) State commercial landing quotas. The Regional Administrator will monitor state commercial quotas based on dealer reports and other available information and shall determine the date when a state commercial quota will be harvested. NMFS shall publish notification in the Federal Register advising a state that, effective upon a specific date, its commercial quota has been harvested and notifying vessel and dealer permit holders that no commercial quota is available for landing bluefish in that state.

(1) Commercial landings overage repayment. All bluefish landed for sale in a state shall be applied against that state's annual commercial quota, regardless of where the bluefish were harvested. Any overages of the commercial quota landed in any state will be deducted from that state's annual quota for the following year, irrespective of whether the fishery-level ACL is exceeded. If a state has increased or reduced quota through the transfer process described in §648.162, then any overage will be measured against that state's final adjusted quota.

(2) If there is a quota overage at the end of the fishing year among states involved in the combination of quotas, the overage will be deducted from the following year's quota for each of the states involved in the combined quota, irrespective of whether the fishery-level ACL is exceeded. The deduction will be proportional, based on each state's relative share of the combined quota for the previous year. A transfer of quota or combination of quotas does not alter any state's percentage share of the overall quota specified in §648.162(d)(1).

(d) Recreational landings AM when the ACL is exceeded and no sector-to-sector transfer of allowable landings has occurred. If the fishery-level ACL is exceeded and landings from the recreational fishery are determined to be the sole cause of the overage, and no transfer between the commercial and recreational sector was made for the fishing year, as outlined in §648.162(b)(2), 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 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 ACL will be deducted from the following year's recreational ACT, or as soon as possible thereafter, once catch data are available, 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 ACL has been exceeded. If the 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 following year's 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 recreational overage, defined as the difference between the recreational contribution to the catch above the 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 estimates of BMSY and biomass (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) AM for when the ACL is exceeded and a sector-to-sector transfer of allowable landings has occurred. If the fishery-level ACL is exceeded and landings from the recreational fishery and/or the commercial fishery are determined to have caused the overage, and a transfer between the commercial and recreational sector has occurred for the fishing year, as outlined in §648.162(b)(2), then the amount transferred between the recreational and commercial sectors may be reduced by the ACL overage amount (pound-for-pound repayment) in a subsequent, single fishing year if the Bluefish Monitoring Committee determines that the ACL overage was the result of too liberal a landings transfer between the two sectors. If the Bluefish Monitoring Committee determines that the ACL overage was not the result of the landings transfer, the recreational AMs described in paragraph (d) of this section will be implemented.

(f) Non-landing AMs. In the event that the ACL has been exceeded and the overage has not been accommodated through the AM measures in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section, then the exact amount, in pounds, by which the ACL was exceeded shall be deducted, as soon as possible, from a subsequent, single fishing year ACL.

(g) State/Federal disconnect AM. If the total catch, allowable landings, commercial quotas, and/or recreational harvest limit measures adopted by the ASMFC Bluefish Management Board and the MAFMC differ for a given fishing year, administrative action will be taken as soon as is practicable 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 so no differential effects occur to Federal permit holders.

[76 FR 60640, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 78 FR 76765, Dec. 19, 2013]

§648.164   Bluefish possession restrictions.

(a) No person shall possess more than 15 bluefish in, or harvested from, the EEZ unless that person is the owner or operator of a fishing vessel issued a bluefish commercial permit or is issued a bluefish dealer permit. Persons aboard a vessel that is not issued a bluefish commercial permit are subject to this possession limit. The owner, operator, and crew of a charter or party boat issued a bluefish commercial permit are not subject to the possession limit when not carrying passengers for hire and when the crew size does not exceed five for a party boat and three for a charter boat.

(b) Bluefish harvested by vessels subject to the possession limit with more than one person on board may be pooled in one or more containers. Compliance with the daily possession limit will be determined by dividing the number of bluefish on board by the number of persons on board, other than the captain and the 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 of the vessel.

[76 FR 60641, Sept. 29, 2011]

§648.165   Bluefish minimum fish sizes.

If the MAFMC determines through its annual review or framework adjustment process that minimum fish sizes are necessary to ensure that the fishing mortality rate is not exceeded, or to attain other FMP objectives, such measures will be enacted through the procedure specified in §648.162(c) or 648.167.

[76 FR 60641, Sept. 29, 2011]

§648.166   Bluefish gear restrictions.

If the MAFMC determines through its annual review or framework adjustment process that gear restrictions are necessary to ensure that the ACL is not exceeded, or to attain other FMP objectives, such measures, subject to the gear other than trawls and gillnets restrictions in §648.162 regarding specifications, will be enacted through the procedure specified in §648.162(c) or 648.167.

[76 FR 60641, Sept. 29, 2011]

§648.167   Bluefish framework adjustment to management measures.

(a) Within-season management action. The MAFMC may, at any time, initiate action to add or adjust management measures if it finds that action is necessary to meet or be consistent with the goals and objectives of the Bluefish FMP.

(1) Adjustment process. After a management action has been initiated, the MAFMC shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions over the span of at least two MAFMC meetings. The MAFMC shall provide the public with advance notice of the availability of both the proposals and the analysis and the opportunity to comment on them prior to and at the second MAFMC meeting. The MAFMC's recommendation on adjustments or additions to management measures must come from one or more of the following categories: Adjustments within existing ABC control rule levels; adjustments to the existing MAFMC risk policy; introduction of new AMs, including sub-ACTs; minimum fish size; maximum fish size; gear restrictions; gear requirements or prohibitions; permitting restrictions; recreational possession limit; recreational season; closed areas; commercial season; description and identification of EFH; fishing gear management measures to protect EFH; designation of habitat areas of particular concern within EFH; 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 any other management measures currently included in the FMP. Measures that require significant departures from previously contemplated measures or that are otherwise introducing new concepts may require an amendment of the FMP instead of a framework adjustment.

(2) MAFMC recommendation. After developing management actions and receiving public testimony, the MAFMC shall make a recommendation to the Regional Administrator. The MAFMC'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 issue the management measures as a final rule. If the MAFMC recommends that the management measures should be issued as a final rule, the MAFMC must consider at least the following factors and provide support and analysis for each factor considered:

(i) 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;

(ii) Whether there has been adequate notice and opportunity for participation by the public and members of the affected industry in the development of the MAFMC's recommended management measures;

(iii) Whether there is an immediate need to protect the resource; and

(iv) Whether there will be a continuing evaluation of management measures adopted following their implementation as a final rule.

(3) Action by NMFS. If the MAFMC's recommendation includes adjustments or additions to management measures and, after reviewing the MAFMC's recommendation and supporting information:

(i) If NMFS concurs with the MAFMC's recommended management measures and determines that the recommended management measures should be issued as a final rule based on the factors specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the measures will be issued as a final rule in the Federal Register.

(ii) If NMFS concurs with the MAFMC's recommendation and determines that the recommended management measures should be published first as a proposed rule, the measures will be published as a proposed rule in the Federal Register. After additional public comment, if NMFS concurs with the MAFMC's recommendation, the measures will be issued as a final rule in the Federal Register.

(iii) If NMFS does not concur, the MAFMC will be notified in writing of the reasons for the non-concurrence.

(b) Emergency action. Nothing in this section is meant to derogate from the authority of the Secretary to take emergency action under section 305(e) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

[76 FR 60641, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 81850, Dec. 29, 2011; 80 FR 37197, June 30, 2015]

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