e-CFR banner

Home
gpo.gov
govinfo.gov

e-CFR Navigation Aids

Browse

Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity

 

Search History

Search Tips

Corrections

Latest Updates

User Info

FAQs

Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources

 

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of April 2, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648 → Subpart O


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


Subpart O—Management Measures for the NE Skate Complex Fisheries


Contents
§648.320   Skate FMP review and monitoring.
§648.321   Framework adjustment process.
§648.322   Skate allocation, possession, and landing provisions.
§648.323   Accountability measures.

Source: 68 FR 49701, Aug. 19, 2003, unless otherwise noted.

§648.320   Skate FMP review and monitoring.

(a) Annual review and specifications process. The Council, its Skate Plan Development Team (PDT), and its Skate Advisory Panel shall monitor the status of the fishery and the skate resources.

(1) The Skate PDT shall meet at least annually to review the status of the species in the skate complex. At a minimum, this review shall include annual updates to survey indices, fishery landings and discards; a re-evaluation of stock status based on the updated survey indices and the FMP's overfishing definitions; and a determination of whether any of the accountability measures specified under §648.323 were triggered. The review shall also include an analysis of changes to other FMPs (e.g., Northeast Multispecies, Monkfish, Atlantic Scallops, etc.) that may impact skate stocks, and describe the anticipated impacts of those changes on the skate fishery.

(2) If new and/or additional information becomes available, the Skate PDT shall consider it during this annual review. Based on this review, the Skate PDT shall provide guidance to the Skate Committee and the Council regarding the need to adjust measures in the Skate 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 §648.321, or through an amendment to the FMP.

(3) For overfished skate species, the Skate PDT and the Council shall monitor the trawl survey index as a proxy for stock biomass. As long as the 3-year average of the appropriate weight per tow increases above the average for the previous 3 years, it is assumed that the stock is rebuilding to target levels. If the 3-year average of the appropriate survey mean weight per tow declines below the average for the previous 3 years, then the Council shall take management action to ensure that stock rebuilding will achieve target levels.

(4) Based on the annual review described above and/or the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report described in paragraph (b) of this section, recommendations for acceptable biological catch (ABC) from the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and any other relevant information, the Skate PDT shall recommend to the Skate Committee and Council the following annual specifications for harvest of skates: An annual catch limit (ACL) for the skate complex set less than or equal to ABC; an annual catch target (ACT) for the skate complex set less than or equal to 90 percent of the ACL; and total allowable landings (TAL) necessary to meet the objectives of the FMP in each fishing year (May 1-April 30), specified for a period of up to 2 fishing years.

(5) Recommended measures. The Skate PDT shall also recommend management measures to the Skate Committee and Council to assure that the specifications are not exceeded. Recommended measures should include, but are not limited to:

(i) Possession limits in each fishery;

(ii) In-season possession limit triggers for the wing and/or bait fisheries;

(iii) Required adjustments to in-season possession limit trigger percentages or the ACL-ACT buffer, based on the accountability measures specified at §648.323; and

(iv) 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.

(6) Taking into account the annual review and/or SAFE Report described in paragraph (b) of this section, the advice of the Scientific and Statistical Committee, and any other relevant information, the Skate PDT may also recommend to the Skate 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 the skate complex and its component species. These adjustments may be included in the Council's specifications for the skate fisheries.

(7) Council recommendation. The Council shall review the recommendations of the Skate PDT, Skate Committee, and Scientific and Statistical Committee, 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. 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. 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. 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) Biennial SAFE Report—(1) The Skate PDT shall prepare a biennial Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report for the NE skate complex. The SAFE Report shall be the primary vehicle for the presentation of all updated biological and socio-economic information regarding the NE skate complex and its associated fisheries. 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 Skate PDT, the annual 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.

[75 FR 34058, June 16, 2010, as amended at 80 FR 37199, June 30, 2015; 84 FR 4375, Feb. 15, 2019]

§648.321   Framework adjustment process.

(a) Adjustment process. To implement a framework adjustment for the Skate FMP, the Council shall develop and analyze proposed actions over the span of at least two Council meetings (the initial meeting agenda must include notification of the impending proposal for a framework adjustment) 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) Council review and analyses. In response to the annual review, or at any other time, the Council may 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 Skate FMP. After a framework action has been initiated, the Council shall develop and analyze appropriate management actions within the scope of measures specified in paragraph (b) of this section. 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. Documentation and analyses for the framework adjustment shall be available at least 1 week before the final meeting.

(2) Council recommendation. 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 framework measures should be issued directly as a final rule, without opportunity for public notice and comment, 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; and

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

(3) The Regional Administrator may publish the recommended framework measures 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 approve 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) Possible framework adjustment measures. Measures that may be changed or implemented through framework action, provided that any corresponding management adjustments can also be implemented through a framework adjustment, include:

(1) Skate permitting and reporting;

(2) Skate overfishing definitions and related targets and thresholds;

(3) Prohibitions on possession and/or landing of individual skate species;

(4) Skate possession limits;

(5) Skate closed areas (and consideration of exempted gears and fisheries);

(6) Seasonal skate fishery restrictions and specifications;

(7) Target TACs for individual skate species;

(8) Hard TACs/quotas for skates, including species-specific quotas, fishery quotas, and/or quotas for non-directed fisheries;

(9) Establishment of a mechanism for TAC set-asides to conduct scientific research, or for other reasons;

(10) Onboard observer requirements;

(11) Gear modifications, requirements, restrictions, and/or prohibitions;

(12) Minimum and/or maximum sizes for skates;

(13) Adjustments to exemption area requirements, area coordinates, and/or management lines established by the FMP;

(14) Measures to address protected species issues, if necessary;

(15) Description and identification of EFH;

(16) Description and identification of habitat areas of particular concern;

(17) Measures to protect EFH;

(18) OY and/or MSY specifications;

(19) Changes to the accountability measures described at §648.323;

(20) Changes to TAL allocation proportions to the skate wing and bait fisheries;

(21) Changes to seasonal quotas in the skate bait or wing fisheries;

(22) Reduction of the baseline 25-percent ACL-ACT buffer to less than 25 percent;

(23) Changes to catch monitoring procedures; and

(24) 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.

(c) Emergency action. 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.

[75 FR 34059, June 16, 2010, as amended at 80 FR 37199, June 30, 2015]

§648.322   Skate allocation, possession, and landing provisions.

(a) Allocation of TAL. (1) A total of 66.5 percent of the annual skate complex TAL shall be allocated to the skate wing fishery. All skate products that are landed in wing form, for the skate wing market, or classified by Federal dealers as food as required under §648.7(a)(1)(i), shall count against the skate wing fishery TAL. The annual skate wing fishery TAL shall be allocated in two seasonal quota periods as follows:

(i) Season 1—May 1 through August 31, 57 percent of the annual skate wing fishery TAL shall be allocated;

(ii) Season 2—September 1 through April 30, the remainder of the annual skate wing fishery TAL not landed in Season 1 shall be allocated.

(2) A total of 33.5 percent of the annual TAL shall be allocated to the skate bait fishery. All skate products that are landed for the skate bait market, or classified by Federal dealers as bait as required under §648.7(a)(1)(i), shall count against the skate bait fishery TAL. The annual skate bait fishery TAL shall be allocated in three seasonal quota periods as follows:

(i) Season 1-May 1 through July 31, 30.8 percent of the annual skate bait fishery TAL shall be allocated;

(ii) Season 2-August 1 through October 31, 37.1 percent of the annual skate bait fishery TAL shall be allocated; and

(iii) Season 3-November 1 through April 30, the remainder of the annual skate bait fishery TAL not landed in Seasons 1 or 2 shall be allocated.

(b) Skate wing possession and landing limits—(1) Vessels fishing under an Atlantic sea scallop, NE multispecies, or monkfish DAS. (i) A vessel or operator of a vessel that has been issued a valid Federal skate permit under this part, and fishes under an Atlantic sea scallop, NE multispecies, or monkfish DAS as specified at §§648.53, 648.82, and 648.92, respectively, unless otherwise exempted under §648.80 or paragraph (c) of this section, may fish for, possess, and/or land up to the allowable trip limits specified as follows: Up to 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) of skate wings (5,902 lb (2,677 kg) whole weight) per trip in Season 1 (May 1 through August 31), and 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) of skate wings (9,307 lb (4,222 kg) whole weight) per trip in Season 2 (September 1 through April 30), or any prorated combination of the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(5) of this section.

(ii) When fishing under the possession limits specified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, a vessel is allowed to possess and land up to 650 lb (295 kg) of barndoor skate wings (1,476 lb (670 kg) whole weight) per trip in Season 1, and 1,025 lb (465 kg) of barndoor skate wings (2,327 lb (1,056 kg) whole weight) per trip in Season 2. The possession limits for barndoor skate wings are included within the overall possession limit (i.e., total pounds of skate wings on board, including barndoor skate wings, are not allowed to exceed 2,600 lb in Season 1 and 4,100 lb in Season 2). Vessels are prohibited from discarding any skate wings when in possession of barndoor skate wings. Barndoor skate wings and carcasses on board a vessel subject to this possession limit must be separated from other species of fish and stored so as to be readily available for inspection.

(2) NE multispecies Category B DAS. A vessel fishing on a declared NE multispecies Category B DAS described under §648.85(b), is limited to no more than 220 lb (100 kg) of skate wings (500 lb (227 kg) whole weight) per trip, or any prorated combination of the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(5) of this section. These vessels may not possess or land barndoor skate, or any other prohibited skate species (see §648.14(v)(2) and paragraph (g) of this section).

(3) In-season adjustment of skate wing possession limits. The Regional Administrator has the authority, through a notice in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, to reduce the skate wing possession limit to 500 lb (227 kg) of skate wings (1,135 lb (515 kg) whole weight) or any prorated combination of the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(5) of this section) for the remainder of the applicable quota season. When the incidental possession limit is implemented, a vessel is allowed to possess and land up to 125 lb (57 kg) of barndoor skate wings (284 lb (129 kg) whole weight) per trip. The possession limits for barndoor skate wings are included within the overall possession limit (i.e., total pounds of skate wings on board, including barndoor skate wings, are not allowed to exceed 500 lb). Vessels are prohibited from discarding any skate wings when in possession of barndoor skate wings. Barndoor skate wings and carcasses on board a vessel subject to this possession limit must be separated from other species of fish and stored so as to be readily available for inspection. The in-season adjustment of skate wing possession limits will be implemented under the following circumstances:

(i) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected to be landed between May 1 and August 17, the Regional Administrator shall reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(ii) When 85 percent of the Season 1 skate wing quota is projected to be landed between August 18 and August 31, the Regional Administrator may reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(iii) When 85 percent of the annual skate wing fishery TAL is projected to be landed in Season 2, the Regional Administrator may reduce the skate wing possession limit to the incidental level described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, unless such a reduction would be expected to prevent attainment of the annual TAL.

(4) Incidental possession limit for vessels not under a DAS. A vessel issued a Federal skate permit that is not fishing under an Atlantic sea scallop, NE multispecies, or monkfish DAS as specified at §§648.53, 648.82, and 648.92, respectively, or is a limited access multispecies vessel participating in an approved sector described under §648.87 but not fishing on one of the DAS specified at §648.53, §648.82, or §648.92, may retain up to 500 lb (227 kg) of skate wings or 1,135 lb (515 kg) of whole skate, or any prorated combination of the allowable landing forms defined at paragraph (b)(5) of this section. These vessels may not possess or land barndoor skate, or any other prohibited skate species (see §648.14(v)(2) and paragraph (g) of this section).

(5) Allowable forms of skate landings. Except for vessels fishing under a skate bait letter of authorization as specified at paragraph (c) of this section, a vessel may possess and/or land skates as wings only (wings removed from the body of the skate and the remaining carcass discarded), wings with associated carcasses possessed separately (wings removed from the body of the skate but the associated carcass retained on board the vessel), or in whole (intact) form, or any combination of the three, provided that the weight of the skate carcasses on board the vessel does not exceed 1.27 times the weight of skate wings on board. When any combination of skate wings, carcasses, and whole skates are possessed and/or landed, the applicable possession or landing limit shall be based on the whole weight limit, in which any wings are converted to whole weight using the wing to whole weight conversion factor of 2.27. For example, if the vessel possesses 100 lb (45.4 kg) of skate wings, the whole weight equivalent would be 227 lb (103.0 kg) of whole skates (100 lb (45.4 kg) × 2.27), and the vessel could possess up to 127 lb (57.6 kg) of skate carcasses (100 lb (45.4 kg) of skate wings × 1.27). A vessel may not possess and/or land skate carcasses and only whole skates.

(c) Bait Letter of Authorization (LOA). A skate vessel owner or operator under this part may request and receive from the Regional Administrator an exemption from the skate wing possession limit restrictions for a minimum of 7 consecutive days, provided that when the vessel is fishing pursuant to the terms of authorization at least the following requirements and conditions are met:

(1) The vessel owner or operator obtains and retains onboard the vessel a valid LOA. LOAs are available upon request from the Regional Administrator.

(2) The vessel owner or operator fishes for, possesses, or lands skates only for use as bait.

(3) The vessel owner or operator possesses or lands no more than 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) of whole skates per trip during Seasons 1 or 2 and no more than 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) of whole skates per trip during Season 3.

(4) The vessel owner or operator possesses or lands only whole skates less than 23 inches (58.42 cm) total length, and does not possess or land any skate wings.

(5) Vessels that choose to possess or land skate wings during the participation period of this letter of authorization must comply with possession limit restrictions under paragraph (b) of this section for all skates or skate parts on board. Vessels possessing skate wings in compliance with the possession limit restrictions under paragraph (b) of this section may fish for, possess, or land skates for uses other than bait.

(6) The vessel owner or operator complies with the transfer at sea requirements at §648.13(h).

(d) In-season adjustment of skate bait possession limits. When the Regional Administrator projects that 90 percent of the skate bait fishery seasonal quota has been landed in Seasons 1 or 2, or 80 percent of the annual skate bait fishery TAL has been landed, the Regional Administrator shall, through a notice in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, reduce the skate bait trip limit to 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) of whole skates for the remainder of the quota period, unless such a reduction would be expected to prevent attainment of the seasonal quota or annual TAL.

(e) In-season closure of skate bait fishery. When the Regional Administrator projects that 100 percent of the skate bait fishery TAL will be landed, the Regional Administrator shall, through a notice in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, close the skate bait fishery, unless such a closure would be expected to prevent attainment of the annual TAL. During a skate bait fishery closure all skate bait LOAs as described in paragraph (c) of this section are void. All skates harvested and landed during a skate bait fishery closure will be attributed towards the skate-wing TAL as described in this section.

(f) Removal of in-season possession limit reductions. If it is determined that an in-season trip limit reduction as described in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section could prohibit the skate bait fishery from achieving its annual TAL, the in-season possession limit reduction may be removed.

(g) Prohibitions on possession of skates. A vessel fishing in the EEZ portion of the Skate Management Unit may not:

(1) Retain, possess, or land thorny skates taken in or from the EEZ portion of the Skate Management Unit.

(2) Retain, possess, or land barndoor skates taken in or from the EEZ portion of the skate management unit when fishing under a bait letter of authorization as described in paragraph (c) of this section; when fishing under a NE multispecies Category B DAS as described under paragraph (b) of this section; when fishing under the incidental skate possession limit for vessels not under a DAS as described in paragraph (b)(4) of this section; or when fishing in a NE multispecies DAS exemption program that allows the possession of skate or skate parts in an amount not to exceed 10 percent by weight of all other species on board, as specified in §648.80(b)(3)(ii), without a NE multispecies or monkfish DAS.

(3) Discard any skate wings when in possession of barndoor skate wings.

(4) Retain, possess, or land smooth skates taken in or from the GOM RMA described at §648.80(a)(1)(i).

[75 FR 34060, June 16, 2010, as amended at 76 FR 28331, May 17, 2011; 77 FR 25100, Apr. 27, 2012; 81 FR 54747, Aug. 17, 2016; 83 FR 6135, Feb. 13, 2018; 83 FR 48988, Sept. 28, 2018]

§648.323   Accountability measures.

(a) TAL overages. If the skate wing fishery TAL or skate bait fishery TAL is determined to have been exceeded by more than 5 percent in any given year based upon, but not limited to, available landings information, the Regional Administrator shall reduce the in-season possession limit trigger for that fishery, as specified at §648.322(b) and (d), in the next fishing year by 1 percent for each 1 percent of TAL overage, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(b) ACL overages. (1) If the ACL is determined to have been exceeded in any given year, based upon, but not limited to, available landings and discard information, the percent buffer between ACL and ACT shall be increased by 1 percent for each 1-percent ACL overage in the second fishing year following the fishing year in which the ACL overage occurred, through either the specifications or framework adjustment process described under §§648.320 and 648.321.

(2) If the Council fails to initiate action to correct an ACL overage through the specifications or framework adjustment process, consistent with paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the Regional Administrator shall implement the required adjustment, as described under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

[75 FR 34061, June 16, 2010, as amended at 84 FR 4376, Feb. 15, 2019]

Need assistance?