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Title 50

Displaying title 50, up to date as of 9/23/2021. Title 50 was last amended 9/23/2021.

Title 50

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Subpart B - Regional Fishery Management Councils
§ 600.105 Intercouncil boundaries.

(a) New England and Mid-Atlantic Councils. The boundary begins at the intersection point of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York at 41°18′16.249″ N. lat. and 71°54′28.477″ W. long. and proceeds south 37°22′32.75″ East to the point of intersection with the outward boundary of the EEZ as specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

(b) Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Councils. The boundary begins at the seaward boundary between the States of Virginia and North Carolina (36°33′01.0″ N. lat), and proceeds due east to the point of intersection with the outward boundary of the EEZ as specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

(c) South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Councils. The boundary coincides with the line of demarcation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, which begins at the intersection of the outer boundary of the EEZ, as specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 83°00′ W. long., proceeds northward along that meridian to 24°35′ N. lat., (near the Dry Tortugas Islands), thence eastward along that parallel, through Rebecca Shoal and the Quicksand Shoal, to the Marquesas Keys, and then through the Florida Keys to the mainland at the eastern end of Florida Bay, the line so running that the narrow waters within the Dry Tortugas Islands, the Marquesas Keys and the Florida Keys, and between the Florida Keys and the mainland, are within the Gulf of Mexico.

[61 FR 32540, June 24, 1996, as amended at 63 FR 7075, Feb. 12, 1998; 75 FR 59149, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.110 Intercouncil fisheries.

If any fishery extends beyond the geographical area of authority of any one Council, the Secretary may -

(a) Designate a single Council to prepare the FMP for such fishery and any amendments to such FMP, in consultation with the other Councils concerned; or

(b) Require that the FMP and any amendments be prepared jointly by all the Councils concerned.

(1) A jointly prepared FMP or amendment must be adopted by a majority of the voting members, present and voting, of each participating Council. Different conservation and management measures may be developed for specific geographic areas, but the FMP should address the entire geographic range of the stock(s).

(2) In the case of joint FMP or amendment preparation, one Council will be designated as the “administrative lead.” The “administrative lead” Council is responsible for the preparation of the FMP or any amendments and other required documents for submission to the Secretary.

(3) None of the Councils involved in joint preparation may withdraw without Secretarial approval. If Councils cannot agree on approach or management measures within a reasonable period of time, the Secretary may designate a single Council to prepare the FMP or may issue the FMP under Secretarial authority.

§ 600.115 Statement of organization, practices, and procedures (SOPP).

(a) Councils are required to publish and make available to the public a SOPP in accordance with such uniform standards as are prescribed by the Secretary (section 302(f)(6)) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The purpose of the SOPP is to inform the public how the Council operates within the framework of the Secretary's uniform standards.

(b) Amendments to current SOPPs must be consistent with the guidelines in this section, subpart C of this part, the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement (the funding agreement between the Council and NOAA that establishes Council funding and mandates specific requirements regarding the use of those funds), the statutory requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. Upon approval of a Council's SOPP amendment by the Secretary, a notice of availability must be published in the Federal Register that includes an Internet address from which the amended SOPP may be read and downloaded and a mailing address to which the public may write to request copies.

(c) Councils may deviate, where lawful, from the guidelines with appropriate supporting rationale, and Secretarial approval of each amendment to a SOPP would constitute approval of any such deviations for that particular Council.

[61 FR 32540, June 24, 1996, as amended at 63 FR 7075, Feb. 12, 1998; 75 FR 59149, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.117 Council coordination committee (CCC).

(a) The Councils may establish a Council coordination committee (CCC) consisting of the chairs, vice chairs, and executive directors of each of the eight Councils or other Council members or staff, in order to discuss issues of relevance to all Councils.

(b) The CCC is not subject to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2). Procedures for announcing and conducting open and closed meetings of the CCC shall be in accordance with § 600.135.

[75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.120 Employment practices.

(a) Council staff positions must be filled solely on the basis of merit, fitness for duty, competence, and qualifications. Employment actions must be free from discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, reprisal, sexual orientation, status as a parent, or on any additional bases protected by applicable Federal, state, or local law.

(b) The annual pay rates for Council staff positions shall be consistent with the pay rates established for General Schedule Federal employees as set forth in 5 U.S.C. 5332, and the Alternative Personnel Management System for the U.S. Department of Commerce (62 FR 67434). The Councils have the discretion to adjust pay rates and pay increases based on cost of living (COLA) differentials in their geographic locations. COLA adjustments in pay rates and pay increases may be provided for staff members whose post of duty is located in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

(1) No pay adjustment based on geographic location shall exceed the COLA and locality pay adjustments available to Federal employees in the same geographic area.

(2) [Reserved]

(c) Salary increases funded in lieu of life and medical/dental policies are not permitted.

(d) Unused sick leave may be accumulated without limit, or up to a maximum number of days and contribution per day, as specified by the Council in its SOPP. Distributions of accumulated funds for unused sick leave may be made to the employee upon his or her retirement, or to his or her estate upon his or her death, as established by the Council in its SOPP.

(e) Each Council may pay for unused annual leave upon separation, retirement, or death of an employee.

(f) One or more accounts shall be maintained to pay for unused sick or annual leave as authorized under paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, and will be funded from the Council's annual operating allowances. Councils have the option to deposit funds into these account(s) at the end of the budget period if unobligated balances remain. Interest earned on these account(s) will be maintained in the account(s), along with the principal, for the purpose of payment of unused annual and sick leave only. These account(s), including interest, may be carried over from year to year. Budgeting for accrued leave will be identified in the “Other” object class categories section of the SF-424A.

(g) A Council must notify the NOAA Office of General Counsel before seeking outside legal advice, which may be for technical assistance not available from NOAA. If the Council is seeking legal services in connection with an employment practices question, the Council must first notify the Department of Commerce's Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration, Employment and Labor Law Division. A Council may not contract for the provision of legal services on a continuing basis.

[66 FR 57886, Nov. 19, 2001]

§ 600.125 Budgeting, funding, and accounting.

(a) Council grant activities are governed by 15 CFR part 14 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-Profit and Commercial Organizations), 2 CFR part 230 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations), 15 CFR part 14 (Audit Requirements for Institutions of Higher Education and Other Non-Profit Organizations), and the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement.

(b) Councils may not independently enter into agreements, including grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, whereby they will receive funds for services rendered. All such agreements must be approved and entered into by NOAA on behalf of the Councils.

(c) Councils are not authorized to accept gifts or contributions directly. All such donations must be directed to the NMFS Regional Administrator in accordance with applicable Department of Commerce regulations.

[66 FR 57887, Nov. 19, 2001, as amended at 75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.130 Protection of confidentiality of statistics.

Each Council must establish appropriate procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the statistics that may be submitted to it by Federal or state authorities and may be voluntarily submitted to it by private persons, including, but not limited to (also see § 600.405):

(a) Procedures for the restriction of Council member, employee, or advisory group access and the prevention of conflicts of interest, except that such procedures must be consistent with procedures of the Secretary.

(b) In the case of statistics submitted to the Council by a state, the confidentiality laws and regulations of that state.

§ 600.133 Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).

(a) Each Council shall establish, maintain, and appoint the members of an SSC to assist it in the development, collection, evaluation, and peer review of such statistical, biological, economic, social, and other scientific information as is relevant to such Council's development and amendment of any fishery management plan.

(b) Each SSC shall provide its Council ongoing scientific advice for fishery management decisions, including recommendations for acceptable biological catch, preventing overfishing, maximum sustainable yield, and achieving rebuilding targets, and reports on stock status and health, bycatch, habitat status, social and economic impacts of management measures, and sustainability of fishing practices.

(c) Members appointed by the Councils to the SSCs shall be Federal employees, State employees, academicians, or independent experts and shall have strong scientific or technical credentials and experience.

(d) An SSC shall hold its meetings in conjunction with the meetings of the Council, to the extent practicable.

[75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.134 Stipends.

Stipends are available, subject to the availability of appropriations, to members of committees formally designated as SSCs under Sec. 301(g)(1)(a) or APs under Sec. 302(g)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act who are not employed by the Federal Government or a State marine fisheries agency. For the purposes of this section, a state marine fisheries agency includes any state or tribal agency that has conservation, management, or enforcement responsibility for any marine fishery resource.

[75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.135 Meeting procedures.

(a) Regular meetings. Public notice of a regular meeting, including the meeting agenda, of each Council, CCC, SSC, AP, FIAC, or other committees established under Magnuson-Stevens Act, Sec. 302(g), must be published in the Federal Register at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting date. Appropriate notice by any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of the region (and in other major fishing ports having a direct interest in the affected fishery) must be given. E-mail notification and website postings alone are not sufficient. The published agenda of a regular meeting may not be modified to include additional matters for Council action without public notice given at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting date, unless such modification is necessary to address an emergency under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in which case public notice shall be given immediately. Drafts of all regular public meeting notices must be received by NMFS headquarters office at least 23 calendar days before the first day of the regular meeting. Councils must ensure that all public meetings are accessible to persons with disabilities, and that the public can make timely requests for language interpreters or other auxiliary aids at public meetings.

(b) Emergency meetings. Drafts of emergency public notices must be transmitted to the NMFS headquarters office at least 5 working days prior to the first day of the emergency meeting. Although notices of and agendas for emergency meetings are not required to be published in the Federal Register, notices of emergency meetings must be promptly announced through any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports of the region. E-mail notification and website postings alone are not sufficient.

(c) Closed meetings. After proper notification by any means that will result in wide publicity in the major fishing ports within the region and, having included in the notification the time and place of the meeting and the reason for closing any meeting or portion thereof to the public, a Council, CCC, SSC, AP, FIAC, or other committees:

(1) Must close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns information bearing a national security classification.

(2) May close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns matters or information pertaining to national security, employment matters, or briefings on litigation in which the Council is interested.

(3) May close any meeting, or portion thereof, that concerns internal administrative matters other than employment. Examples of other internal administrative matters include candidates for appointment to AP, SSC, and other subsidiary bodies and public decorum or medical conditions of members of a Council or its subsidiary bodies. In deciding whether to close a portion of a meeting to discuss internal administrative matters, the Council, CCC, SSC, AP, FIAC, or other committees should consider not only the privacy interests of individuals whose conduct or qualifications may be discussed, but also the interest of the public in being informed of Council operations and actions.

(d) Without the notice required by paragraph (c) of this section, a Council, CCC, SSC, AP, FIAC, or other committees may briefly close a portion of a meeting to discuss employment or other internal administrative matters. The closed portion of a meeting that is closed without notice may not exceed two hours.

(e) Before closing a meeting or portion thereof, the Council, CCC, SSC, AP, FIAC, or other committees should consult with the NOAA Office of General Counsel to ensure that the matters to be discussed fall within the exceptions to the requirement to hold public meetings described in paragraph (c) of this section.

(f) Actions that affect the public, although based on discussions in closed meetings, must be taken in public. For example, appointments to an AP must be made in the public part of the meeting; however, a decision to take disciplinary action against a Council employee need not be announced to the public.

(g) A majority of the voting members of any Council constitute a quorum for Council meetings, but one or more such members designated by the Council may hold hearings.

(h) Decisions of any Council are by majority vote of the voting members present and voting (except for a vote to propose removal of a Council member, see 50 CFR 600.230). Voting by proxy is permitted only pursuant to 50 CFR 600.205 (b). An abstention does not affect the unanimity of a vote.

(i) Voting members of the Council who disagree with the majority on any issue to be submitted to the Secretary, including principal state officials raising federalism issues, may submit a written statement of their reasons for dissent. If any Council member elects to file such a statement, it should be submitted to the Secretary at the same time the majority report is submitted.

[66 FR 57887, Nov. 19, 2001, as amended at 75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.140 Procedure for proposed regulations.

(a) Each Council must establish a written procedure for proposed regulations consistent with section 303(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The procedure must describe how the Council deems proposed regulations necessary or appropriate for the purposes of implementing a fishery management plan or a plan amendment, or making modifications to regulations implementing a fishery management plan or plan amendment. In addition, the procedure must describe how the Council submits proposed regulations to the Secretary.

(b) The Councils must include the procedure for proposed regulations in its SOPP, see § 600.115, or other written documentation that is available to the public.

[75 FR 59150, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.150 Disposition of records.

(a) Council records must be handled in accordance with NOAA records management office procedures. All records and documents created or received by Council employees while in active duty status belong to the Federal Government. When employees leave the Council, they may not take the original or file copies of records with them.

(b) Each Council is required to maintain documents generally available to the public on its Internet site. Documents for posting must include: fishery management plans and their amendments for the fisheries for which the Council is responsible, drafts of fishery management plans and plan amendments under consideration, analysis of actions the Council has under review, minutes or official reports of past meetings of the Council and its committees, materials provided by the Council staff to Council members in preparation for meetings, and other Council documents of interest to the public. For documents too large to maintain on the Web site, not available electronically, or seldom requested, the Council must provide copies of the documents for viewing at the Council office during regular business hours or may provide the documents through the mail.

[66 FR 57887, Nov. 19, 2001, as amended at 75 FR 59151, Sept. 27, 2010]

§ 600.155 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

(a) FOIA requests received by a Council should be coordinated promptly with the appropriate NMFS Regional Office. The Region will forward the request to the NOAA FOIA Officer to secure a FOIA number and log the request into FOIAonline. The Region will also obtain clearance from the NOAA General Counsel's Office concerning initial determination for denial of requested information.

(b) FOIA request processing will be controlled and documented in the Region. The requests should be forwarded to the NOAA FOIA Officer who will enter the request into FOIAonline. The request will be assigned an official FOIA number and due date. In the event the Region determines that the requested information is exempt from disclosure, in full or in part, under the FOIA, the denial letter prepared for the Assistant Administrator's signature, along with the “Foreseeable Harm” Memo and list of documents to be withheld, must be cleared through the NMFS FOIA Liaison. Upon completion, a copy of the signed letter transmitting the information to the requester should be posted to FOIAonline by NMFS.

[80 FR 57738, Sept. 25, 2015]