(a) Annual individual allocations. Each fishing year, the Regional Administrator shall determine the initial annual allocation of surfclams and ocean quahogs for the next fishing year for each ITQ permit holder holding ITQ quota share pursuant to the requirements of this section. For each species, the initial allocation for the next fishing year is calculated by multiplying the quota share percentage held by each ITQ permit holder as of the last day of the previous fishing year in which quota shareholders are permitted to permanently transfer quota share percentage pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section (i.e., October 15 of every year), by the quota specified by the Regional Administrator pursuant to § 648.72. The total number of bushels of annual allocation shall be divided by 32 to determine the appropriate number of cage tags to be issued or acquired under § 648.77. Amounts of annual allocation of 0.5 cages or smaller created by this division shall be rounded downward to the nearest whole number, and amounts of annual allocation greater than 0.5 cages created by this division shall be rounded upward to the nearest whole number, so that annual allocations are specified in whole cages.
(1) Surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ permits. Surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ allocations shall be issued in the form of annual ITQ permits. The ITQ permit shall specify the quota share percentage held by the ITQ permit holder and the annual allocation in cages and cage tags for each species.
(i) Eligibility. In order to be eligible to hold a surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit, an individual must be eligible to own a documented vessel under the terms of 46 U.S.C. 12103(b).
(ii) Application -
(A) General. Applicants for a surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit under this section must submit a completed ITQ permit application and a completed ITQ ownership form on the appropriate forms obtained from NMFS. The ITQ permit application and ITQ ownership form must be filled out completely and signed by the applicant. The Regional Administrator will notify the applicant of any deficiency in the application.
(B) Renewal applications. Applications to renew a surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit must be received by November 1 to be processed in time for permits to be issued by December 15, as specified in paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section. Renewal applications received after this date may not be approved, and a new permit may not be issued before the start of the next fishing year. An ITQ permit holder must renew his/her ITQ permit(s) on an annual basis by submitting an application and an ownership form for such permit prior to the end of the fishing year for which the permit is required. Failure to renew a surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit in any fishing year will result in any surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ quota share held by that ITQ permit holder to be considered abandoned and relinquished as specified in paragraph (a)(1)(ix) of this section.
(C) Lenders Holding ITQ Quota Share as Collateral. A bank or other lender that holds ITQ quota share as collateral on a loan may be allowed to provide less detailed information on the ITQ ownership form under the following conditions.
(1) The lender certifies that the ITQ quota share is held solely as collateral on a loan and the lender does not exert any control over the use of the annual allocation of cage tags.
(2) The lender identifies the borrower, and the borrower maintains a valid ITQ permit including all required ownership information.
(3) The lender may only transfer quota share or cage tags to the identified borrower. The borrower could then transfer the quota share or cage tags to another party, if desired.
(iii) Issuance. Except as provided in subpart D of 15 CFR part 904, and provided an application for such permit is submitted by November 1, as specified in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(B) of this section, NMFS shall issue annual ITQ permits on or before December 15, to allow allocation owners to purchase cage tags from a vendor specified by the Regional Administrator pursuant to § 648.77(b).
(iv) Duration. An ITQ permit is valid through December 31 of each fishing year unless it is suspended, modified, or revoked pursuant to 15 CFR part 904, or revised due to a transfer of all or part of the ITQ quota share or cage tag allocation under paragraph (b) of this section.
(v) Alteration. An ITQ permit that is altered, erased, or mutilated is invalid.
(vi) Replacement. The Regional Administrator may issue a replacement permit upon written application of the annual ITQ permit holder.
(vii) Transfer. The annual ITQ permit is valid only for the person to whom it is issued. All or part of the ITQ quota share or the cage tag allocation specified in the ITQ permit may be transferred in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section.
(viii) Fee. The Regional Administrator may, after publication of a fee notification in the Federal Register, charge a permit fee before issuance of the permit to recover administrative expenses. Failure to pay the fee will preclude issuance of the permit.
(ix) Abandonment or voluntary relinquishment. Any ITQ permit that is voluntarily relinquished to the Regional Administrator, or deemed to have been voluntarily relinquished for failure to renew in accordance with paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, shall not be reissued or renewed in a subsequent year, except as specified in paragraph (a)(1)(x) of this section.
(x) Transitional grace period. A surfclam or ocean quahog quota share holder who does not submit a complete application for an ITQ permit before the end of the 2016 fishing year, may be granted a grace period of up to one year to complete the initial application process, and be issued an ITQ permit, before the quota share is considered permanently relinquished. If an individual is issued a 2016 ITQ permit, but fails to renew that ITQ permit before the end of the 2017 fishing year, the Regional Administrator may allow a grace period until no later than July 1, 2018, to complete the renewal process and retain the permit. A permit holder may not be issued cage tags or transfer quota share until a valid ITQ permit is issued. Failure to complete the ITQ permit application or renewal process, and be issued a valid ITQ permit before the end of such a grace period would result in the ITQ permit and any associated ITQ quota share being permanently forfeit.
(b) Transfers -
(1) Quota share percentage. Subject to the approval of the Regional Administrator, part or all of a quota share percentage may be transferred in the year in which the transfer is made, to any person or entity with a valid ITQ permit under paragraph (a) of this section. Approval of a transfer by the Regional Administrator and for a new ITQ permit reflecting that transfer may be requested by submitting a written application for approval of the transfer and for issuance of a new ITQ permit to the Regional Administrator at least 10 days before the date on which the applicant desires the transfer to be effective, in the form of a completed transfer form supplied by the Regional Administrator. The transfer is not effective until the new holder receives a new or revised ITQ permit from the Regional Administrator reflecting the new quota share percentage. An application for transfer may not be made between October 15 and December 31 of each year.
(2) Cage tags. Cage tags issued pursuant to § 648.77 may be transferred at any time, and in any amount subject to the restrictions and procedure specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section; provided that application for such cage tag transfers may be made at any time before December 10 of each year. The transfer is effective upon the receipt by the transferee of written authorization from the Regional Administrator.
(3) Denial of ITQ transfer application. The Regional Administrator may reject an application to transfer surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ quota share or cage tags for the following reasons: The application is incomplete; the transferor or transferee does not possess a valid surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit for the appropriate species; the transfer is not allowed under paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(C)(3) of this section; the transferor's or transferee's surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit has been sanctioned pursuant to an enforcement proceeding under 15 CFR part 904; or any other failure to meet the requirements of this subpart. Upon denial of an application to transfer ITQ allocation, the Regional Administrator shall send a letter to the applicant describing the reason(s) for the denial. The decision by the Regional Administrator is the final decision of the Department of Commerce; there is no opportunity for an administrative appeal.
(c) ITQ cost recovery -
(1) General. The cost recovery program collects fees of up to three percent of the ex-vessel value of surfclams or ocean quahogs harvested under the ITQ program in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS collects these fees to recover the actual costs directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ program.
(2) Fee responsibility. If you are an ITQ permit holder who holds ITQ quota share and receives an annual allocation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, you shall incur a cost recovery fee, based on all landings of surfclams or ocean quahogs authorized under your initial annual allocation of cage tags. You are responsible for paying the fee assessed by NMFS, even if the landings are made by another ITQ permit holder (i.e., if you transfer cage tags to another individual who subsequently uses those tags to land clams). If you permanently transfer your quota share, you are still responsible for any fee that results from your initial annual allocation of cage tags even if the landings are made after the quota share is permanently transferred.
(3) Fee basis. NMFS will establish the fee percentages and corresponding per-tag fees for both the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ fisheries each year. The fee percentages cannot exceed three percent of the ex-vessel value of surfclams and ocean quahogs harvested under the ITQ fisheries pursuant to section 304(d)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
(i) Calculating fee percentage. In the first quarter of each calendar year, NMFS will calculate the fee percentages for both the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ fisheries based on information from the previous year. NMFS will use the following equation to annually determine the fee percentages: Fee percentage = the lower of 3 percent or (DPC/V) × 100, where:
(A) “DPC,” or direct program costs, are the actual incremental costs for the previous fiscal year directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of the ITQ program. “Actual incremental costs” mean those costs that would not have been incurred but for the existence of the ITQ program. If the amount of fees collected by NMFS is greater or lesser than the actual incremental costs incurred, the DPC will be adjusted accordingly for calculation of the fee percentage in the following year.
(B) “V” is the total ex-vessel value from the previous calendar year attributable to the ITQ fishery.
(ii) Calculating per-tag fee. To facilitate fee collection, NMFS will convert the annual fee percentages into per-tag fees for both the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ fisheries. NMFS will use the following equation to determine each per-tag fee: Per-Tag Fee = (Fee Percentage × V)/T, where:
(A) “T” is the number of cage tags used, pursuant to § 648.77, to land shellfish in the ITQ fishery in the previous calendar year.
(B) “Fee percentage” and “V” are defined in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section.
(C) The per-tag fee is rounded down so that it is expressed in whole cents.
(iii) Publication. During the first quarter of each calendar year, NMFS will announce the fee percentage and per-tag fee for the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ fisheries, and publish this information on the Regional Office Web site (www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov).
(4) Calculating individual fees. If you are responsible for a cost recovery fee under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the fee amount is the number of ITQ cage tags you were initially allocated at the start of the fishing year that were subsequently used to land shellfish multiplied by the relevant per-tag fee, as described in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section. If no tags from your initial allocation are used to land clams you will not incur a fee.
(5) Fee payment and collection. NMFS will send you a bill each year for any applicable ITQ cost recovery fee.
(i) Payment due date. You must submit payment within 30 days of the date of the bill.
(ii) Payment method. You may pay your bill electronically using a credit card or direct Automated Clearing House withdrawal from a designated checking account through the Federal web portal, www.pay.gov, or another internet site designated by the Regional Administrator. Instructions for electronic payment will be included with your bill and are available on the payment Web site. Alternatively, payment by check may be authorized by the Regional Administrator if he/she determines that electronic payment is not practicable.
(6) Payment compliance. If you do not submit full payment by the due date, NMFS will notify you in writing via an initial administrative determination (IAD) letter.
(i) IAD. In the IAD, NMFS will:
(A) Describe the past-due fee;
(B) Describe any applicable interest charges that may apply;
(C) Provide you 30 days to either pay the specified amount or submit an appeal; and
(D) Include instructions for submitting an appeal.
(ii) Appeals. If you wish to appeal the IAD, your appeal must:
(A) Be in writing;
(B) Allege credible facts or circumstances;
(C) Include any relevant information or documentation to support your appeal; and
(D) Be received by NMFS no later than 30 calendar days after the date on the IAD. If the last day of the time period is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the time period will extend to the close of the business on the next business day. Your appeal must be mailed or hand delivered to the address specified in the IAD.
(iii) Final decision -
(A) Final decision on your appeal. If you appeal an IAD, the Regional Administrator shall appoint an appeals officer. After determining there is sufficient information and that all procedural requirements have been met, the appeals officer will review the record and issue a recommendation on your appeal to the Regional Administrator, which shall be advisory only. The recommendation must be based solely on the record. Upon receiving the findings and recommendation, the Regional Administrator, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, will issue a written decision on your appeal which is the final decision of the Department of Commerce.
(B) Final decision if you do not appeal. If you do not appeal the IAD within 30 calendar days, NMFS will notify you via a final decision letter. The final decision will be from the Regional Administrator and is the final decision of the Department of Commerce.
(C) If the final decision determines that you are out of compliance.
(1) The Regional Administrator may, at any time thereafter, disapprove any application to transfer quota share or cage tags under § 648.74(b), and prohibit issuance of the surfclam or ocean quahog ITQ permit for subsequent years, until the outstanding balance is paid in full.
(2) The final decision will require full payment within 30 calendar days.
(3) If full payment is not received within 30 calendar days of issuance of the final decision, NMFS may refer the matter to the appropriate authorities for the purposes of collection or enforcement.
(7) Annual report. NMFS will publish annually a report on the status of the ITQ cost recovery program. The report will provide details of the costs incurred by NMFS for the management, data collection, and enforcement of the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ program, and other relevant information at the discretion of the Regional Administrator.