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e-CFR data is current as of July 30, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648 → Subpart M


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


Subpart M—Management Measures for the Atlantic Deep-Sea Red Crab Fishery


Contents
§648.260   Specifications.
§648.261   Framework adjustment process.
§648.262   Accountability measures for red crab limited access vessels.
§648.263   Red crab possession and landing restrictions.
§648.264   Gear requirements/restrictions.

Source: 67 FR 63233, Oct. 10, 2002, unless otherwise noted.

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§648.260   Specifications.

(a) Review and specifications process. The Council, the Red Crab Plan Development Team (PDT), and the Red Crab Advisory Panel shall monitor the status of the red crab fishery and resource.

(1) The Red Crab PDT shall meet at least once every 4 years, or as directed by the Council, to review Stock Assessment reports and generate a Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report, described in paragraph (b) of this section, to review the status of the stock and the fishery. Based on such review, the PDT shall provide a report to the Council on any changes or new information about the red crab stock and/or fishery, and it shall recommend whether the specifications for the upcoming year(s) need to be modified. At a minimum, this review shall include a review of at least the following data, if available: Commercial catch data; current estimates of fishing mortality and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE); discards; stock status; recent estimates of recruitment; virtual population analysis results and other estimates of stock size; sea sampling, port sampling, and survey data or, if sea sampling data are unavailable, length frequency information from port sampling and/or surveys; impact of other fisheries on the mortality of red crabs; and any other relevant information.

(2) If new and/or additional information becomes available, the Red Crab PDT shall consider it during this review. Based on this review, the Red Crab PDT shall provide guidance to the Council regarding the need to adjust measures in the Red Crab FMP to better achieve the FMP's objectives. After considering guidance, the Council may submit to NMFS its recommendations for changes to management measures, as appropriate, through the specifications process described in this section, the framework process specified in §648.261, or through an amendment to the FMP.

(3) Based on the review, described above, and/or the SAFE Report described in paragraph (b) of this section, recommendations for acceptable biological catch (ABC) from the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and any other relevant information, the Red Crab PDT shall recommend to the Council the following specifications for harvest of red crab: An ACL set less than or equal to ABC; and total allowable landings (TAL) necessary to meet the objectives of the FMP in each red crab fishing year, specified for a period of up to 4 fishing years.

(4) The PDT, after its review of the available information on the status of the stock and the fishery, may recommend to the Council any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded, as well as changes to the appropriate specifications.

(5) Taking into account the annual review and/or SAFE Report described in paragraph (b) of this section, the advice of the SSC, and any other relevant information, the Red Crab PDT may also recommend to the Red Crab Committee and Council changes to stock status determination criteria and associated thresholds based on the best scientific information available, including information from peer-reviewed stock assessments of red crab. These adjustments may be included in the Council's specifications for the red crab fishery.

(6)(i) The Council shall review the recommendations of the Red Crab PDT, Red Crab Committee, and SSC, any public comment received thereon, and any other relevant information, and make a recommendation to the Regional Administrator on appropriate specifications and any measures necessary to assure that the specifications will not be exceeded.

(ii) The Council's recommendation must include supporting documentation, as appropriate, concerning the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the recommendations. The Regional Administrator shall consider the recommendations and publish a rule in the Federal Register proposing specifications and associated measures, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(iii) The Regional Administrator may propose specifications different than those recommended by the Council. If the specifications published in the Federal Register differ from those recommended by the Council, the reasons for any differences must be clearly stated and the revised specifications must satisfy the criteria set forth in this section, the FMP, and other applicable laws.

(iv) If the final specifications are not published in the Federal Register for the start of the fishing year, the previous year's specifications shall remain in effect until superseded by the final rule implementing the current year's specifications, to ensure that there is no lapse in regulations while new specifications are completed.

(b) SAFE Report. (1) The Red Crab PDT shall prepare a SAFE Report at least every 4 years. Based on the SAFE Report, the Red Crab PDT shall develop and present to the Council recommended specifications as defined in paragraph (a) of this section for up to 4 fishing years. The SAFE Report shall be the primary vehicle for the presentation of all updated biological and socio-economic information regarding the red crab fishery. The SAFE Report shall provide source data for any adjustments to the management measures that may be needed to continue to meet the goals and objectives of the FMP.

(2) In any year in which a SAFE Report is not completed by the Red Crab PDT, the review process described in paragraph (a) of this section shall be used to recommend any necessary adjustments to specifications and/or management measures in the FMP.

[76 FR 60383, Sept. 29, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 81850, Dec. 29, 2011; 80 FR 37198, June 30, 2015; 85 FR 20616, Apr. 14, 2020]

Effective Date Note: At 85 FR 20616, Apr. 14, 2020, §640.260 was amended by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, (1) through (3) and (b), effective May 14, 2020, through Feb. 28, 2021.

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§648.261   Framework adjustment process.

(a) To implement a framework adjustment for the Red Crab FMP, the Council shall develop and analyze proposed actions over the span of at least two Council meetings and provide advance public notice of the availability of both the proposals and the analyses. Opportunity to provide written and oral comments shall be provided throughout the process before the Council submits its recommendations to the Regional Administrator.

(1) In response to an annual review of the status of the fishery or the resource by the Red Crab PDT, or at any other time, the Council may recommend adjustments to any of the measures proposed by the Red Crab FMP, including the SBRM. The Red Crab Oversight Committee may request that the Council initiate a framework adjustment. Framework adjustments shall require one initial meeting (the agenda must include notification of the impending proposal for a framework adjustment) and one final Council meeting. After a management action has been initiated, the Council shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions within the scope identified below. The Council may refer the proposed adjustments to the Red Crab Committee for further deliberation and review. Upon receiving the recommendations of the Oversight Committee, the Council shall publish notice of its intent to take action and provide the public with any relevant analyses and opportunity to comment on any possible actions. After receiving public comment, the Council must take action (to approve, modify, disapprove, or table) on the recommendation at the Council meeting following the meeting at which it first received the recommendations. Documentation and analyses for the framework adjustment shall be available at least 2 weeks before the final meeting.

(2) After developing management actions and receiving public testimony, the Council may make a recommendation to the Regional Administrator. The Council's recommendation shall include supporting rationale, an analysis of impacts required under paragraph (a)(1) of this section and a recommendation to the Regional Administrator on whether to issue the management measures as a final rule. If the Council recommends that the management measures should be issued directly as a final rule, the Council shall 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 Council's recommended management measures;

(iii) Whether there is an immediate need to protect the resource or to impose management measures to resolve gear conflicts;

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

(3) If the Regional Administrator concurs with the Council's recommended management measures, they shall be published in the Federal Register. If the Council's recommendation is first published as a proposed rule and the Regional Administrator concurs with the Council's recommendation after receiving additional public comment, the measures shall then be published as a final rule in the Federal Register.

(4) If the Regional Administrator approves the Council's recommendations, the Secretary may, for good cause found under the standard of the Administrative Procedure Act, waive the requirement for a proposed rule and opportunity for public comment in the Federal Register. The Secretary, in so doing, shall publish only the final rule. Submission of recommendations does not preclude the Secretary from deciding to provide additional opportunity for prior notice and comment in the Federal Register.

(5) The Regional Administrator may approve, disapprove, or partially disapprove the Council's recommendation. If the Regional Administrator does not approve the Council's specific recommendation, the Regional Administrator must notify the Council in writing of the reasons for the action prior to the first Council meeting following publication of such decision.

(b) [Reserved]

[67 FR 63233, Oct. 10, 2002, as amended at 80 FR 37198, June 30, 2015]

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§648.262   Accountability measures for red crab limited access vessels.

(a) Closure authority. NMFS shall close the EEZ to fishing for red crab in excess of the incidental limit by commercial vessels for the remainder of the fishing year if the Regional Administrator determines that the TAL has been harvested. Upon notification of the closure, a vessel issued a limited access red crab permit may not fish for, catch, possess, transport, land, sell, trade, or barter, in excess of 500 lb (226.8 kg) of red crab, or its equivalent in weight as specified at §648.263(a)(2)(i) and (ii), per fishing trip in or from the Red Crab Management Unit.

(b) Adjustment for an overage. (1) If NMFS determines that the TAL was exceeded in a given fishing year, the exact amount of the landings overage will be deducted, as soon as is practicable, from a subsequent single fishing year's TAL, through notification consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(2) If NMFS determines that the ACL was exceeded in a given fishing year, the exact amount of an overage that was not already deducted from the TAL under paragraph (b)(i) of this section will be deducted, as soon as is practicable, from a subsequent single fishing year's TAL, through notification consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

[76 FR 60383, Sept. 29, 2011]

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§648.263   Red crab possession and landing restrictions.

(a) Vessels issued limited access red crab permits. (1) [Reserved]

(2) Conversion to whole crab weight. (i) For red crab that is landed in half sections, with all gills and other detritus still intact, the recovery rate is 64 percent of a whole red crab, which is equal to the weight of red crab half sections multiplied by 1.56.

(ii) For red crab that is landed in half sections, with all gills and other detritus removed, the recovery rate is 58 percent of a whole red crab, which is equal to the weight of red crab half sections multiplied by 1.72.

(3) Female red crab restriction. A vessel may not fish for, catch, possess, transport, land, sell, trade, or barter, female red crabs in excess of one standard U.S. fish tote of incidentally caught female red crabs per trip when fishing under a red crab DAS.

(4) Full-processing prohibition. No person may fully process at sea, possess, or land, fully-processed red crab.

(5) Mutilation restriction. A vessel may not retain, possess, or land red crab claws and legs separate from crab bodies in excess of one standard U.S. fish tote per trip when fishing on a dedicated red crab trip.

(b) Vessels issued red crab incidental catch permits—(1) Possession and landing restrictions. A vessel or operator of a vessel that has been issued a red crab incidental catch permit, or a vessel issued a limited access red crab permit not on a dedicated red crab trip, as defined in §648.2, may catch, possess, transport, land, sell, trade, or barter, up to 500 lb (226.8 kg) of red crab, or its equivalent in weight as specified at paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section, per fishing trip in or from the Red Crab Management Unit.

(2) Full-processing prohibition. No person may fully process at sea, possess, or land, fully-processed red crab.

(3) Mutilation restrictions. (i) A vessel may not retain, possess, or land red crab claws and legs separate from crab bodies.

(ii) A vessel may not retain, possess, or land more than two claws and eight legs per crab.

[67 FR 63233, Oct. 10, 2002, as amended at 74 FR 20557, May 4, 2009; 76 FR 60384, Sept. 29, 2011]

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§648.264   Gear requirements/restrictions.

(a) Limited access red crab permitted vessels. (1) Limited access red crab vessel may not harvest red crab from any fishing gear other than red crab traps/pots, marked as specified by paragraph (a)(5) of this section.

(2) A vessel owner or operator of a vessel that holds a valid limited access red crab permit may fish with, deploy, possess, haul, harvest red crab from, or carry on board a vessel, up to a total of 600 traps/pots when fishing for, catching, or landing red crab. A vessel owner is required to declare, on the annual permit application, the maximum number of traps/pots used per string and the maximum number of strings employed, such that the product of the maximum number of traps/pots per string and the maximum number of strings declared is no more than 600 traps/pots. The vessel is restricted to the product of the maximum number of traps/pots per string multiplied by the maximum number of strings declared on the annual vessel permit application.

(3) Parlor traps/pots. No person may haul or remove lobster, red crab or fish from parlor traps/pots when fishing under a red crab DAS.

(4) Maximum trap/pot size. The maximum allowable red crab trap/pot size of red crab traps/pots used or deployed on a red crab DAS is 18 cubic feet (0.51 cubic meters) in volume. Red crab traps/pots may be rectangular, trapezoidal or conical only, unless other red crab trap/pot designs whose volume does not exceed 18 cubic feet (0.51 cubic meters) are authorized by the Regional Administrator.

(5) Gear markings. The following is required on all buoys used at the end of each red crab trawl:

(i) The letters “RC” in letters at least 3 inches (7.62 cm) in height must be painted on top of each buoy.

(ii) The vessel's permit number in numerals at least 3 inches (7.62 cm) in height must be painted on the side of each buoy to clearly identify the vessel.

(iii) The number of each trap trawl relative to the total number of trawls used by the vessel (i.e., “3 of 6”) must be painted in numerals at least 3 inches (7.62 cm) in height on the side of each buoy.

(iv) High flyers and radar reflectors are required on each trap trawl.

(6) Additional gear requirements. (i) Vessels must comply with the gear regulations found at §229.32 of this title.

(ii) Red crab traps/pots, fished in 200 fathoms (365.8 m) or less by a vessel issued a limited access lobster permit under §697.4(a), must comply with the trap tagging requirements specified at §697.19.

(b) [Reserved]

[67 FR 63233, Oct. 10, 2002, as amended at 72 FR 57194, Oct. 5, 2007; 76 FR 60384, Sept. 29, 2011]

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