Comment Request on Revision and Extension Information Collection

Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Northeast Region Permit Family of Forms

AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before January 14, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at JJessup@doc.gov).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or  Lindsey Feldman,  (978) 675-2179 or Lindsey.Feldman@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Abstract

    This request is for revision and extension of a current information 

collection. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 

Management Act, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) has the 

responsibility for the conservation and management of marine fishery 

resources. Much of this responsibility has been delegated to the 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Marine 

Fisheries Service (NMFS). Under this stewardship role, the Secretary 

was given certain regulatory authorities to ensure the most beneficial 

uses of these resources. One of the regulatory steps taken to carry out 

the conservation and management objectives is to collect information 

from users of the resource.

    As regional Fishery Management Councils develop specific Fishery 

Management Plans (FMP), the Secretary has promulgated rules for the 

issuance of permits to individuals and organizations participating in 

Federally controlled fisheries in order to: (1) Register fishermen, 

fishing vessels, fish dealers and processors, (2) List the 

characteristics of fishing vessels and/or dealer/processor operations, 

(3) Exercise influence over compliance (e.g. withhold issuance pending 

collection of unpaid penalties), (4) Provide a mailing list and email 

list for the dissemination of important information to the industry, 

(5) Register participants to be considered for limited entry, and (6) 

Provide a universe for data collection samples. Identification of the 

participants, their gear types, vessels, and expected activity levels 

is an effective tool in the enforcement of fishery regulations.

    Limited access fishing permits, where entry is reviewed during a 

one-time application period, place size, tonnage, and horsepower 

restrictions on the ability of a vessel owner to upgrade or replace 

their vessel. If a vessel owner wishes to upgrade any of the 

specifications of his/her vessel such as length overall, net tonnage, 

gross tonnage, horsepower, or vessel fish hold capacity, he/she must 

submit, in writing, a request for a vessel upgrade. A request, in 

writing, also must be made in order to replace one limited access 

permitted vessel with another as vessel size restrictions are limited 

to 10-percent above the baseline length overall, gross, and net 

tonnage, 20-percent above the baseline horsepower, and 10-percent above 

the vessel hold capacity measurement for limited access vessels with 

Tier 1 or 2 Atlantic mackerel permits.

    Vessels with particular permits are also required to use an 

electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) to declare their intent to 

fish before starting a particular trip, change their intent to fish 

during a trip, and to report real-time catch and discard information. 

While vessels are also required to report catch information weekly or 

monthly depending on their permit through vessel trip reports 

(VTRs)(VTR collection approved in OMB Control No. 0648-0212), it is 

often necessary to have daily catch reporting in order to have a real-

time understanding of the operation of the fishery. Real-time catch 

reporting is especially important for high volume fisheries, where 

large amounts of fish are landed in short periods of time, so that the 

fishery can be shut down when approaching the annual, regional, or 

seasonal quota.

    This collection also includes the requirement of participants in 

certain fisheries to notify NMFS before fishing trips for the purpose 

of observer placement. The placement of fisheries observers is critical 

to accurately monitoring and collecting information on fish catch, 

discards, gear performance, socio-economic information about vessel 

crew and operations, etc. Vessels are also required to request, in 

writing, participation in any of the various exemption programs offered 

in the Northeast region. Exemption programs may allow a vessel to fish 

in an area that is limited to vessels of a particular size, using a 

certain gear type, or fishing for a particular species. Vessels are 

also required to request gillnet and lobster tags through the Northeast 

region permit office when using gillnet gear or lobster traps. Lastly, 

vessel owners that own multiple vessels, but would like to request 

communication from NMFS be consolidated into one mailing (and not 

separate mailings for each vessel), may request the single letter 

vessel owner option to improve efficiency of their business practice.

This revision/extension removes the expedited submission of 

proposed special access programs (SAPs), days-at-sea (DAS) transfer 

program requirements, and Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization 

(NAFO) reporting requirements to avoid duplication, as this information 

has been moved to another collection (OMB Control No. 0648-0605).

II. Method of Collection

Vessel Permits

All vessel permit applications including initial permit 

applications for vessels and dealers, vessel and dealer renewal 

applications, vessel operator permit applications, gillnet and lobster 

trap tag purchase are submitted by signed paper form sent in the mail.

VMS Requirements

    Vessels with VMS requirements are required to declare their intent 

to fish (i.e. declare into the fishery) and submit daily catch reports 

using electronic VMS units on board the vessel. VMS power down 

exemption requests are submitted by signed paper form.

Observer Program Call-In Requirements

    Vessels issued certain permits such as NE multispecies, monkfish, 

scallop, and Atlantic herring permits are required to give advance 

notification to the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) before 

the start of a trip in order to receive a fisheries observer or a 

waiver. Vessels use an online pre-trip notification system, email, 

toll-free call in number, or a local phone number to comply with this 

requirement.

Exempted Fisheries Programs

    Vessels that would like to request participation in one or more of 

the NE fisheries exemption programs must either submit a request 

electronically using their VMS unit, by declaring into an exempted 

fishery prior to the start of a trip, or by mailing in a written 

request to participate in the program(s) of interest.

Vessel Owner Single Letter Option

    Vessel owners that own multiple vessels, but would like to receive 

only a single NE Fisheries Bulletin or small entity compliance guide 

instead of one for each vessel permit, must submit a request, in 

writing, to NMFS to participate in this program.

III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0202.

    Form Number: None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (revision and extension of a 

current information collection).

    Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profit organizations; 

Individuals or households, state, local or tribal government, and 

Federal Government.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 62,295.

    Estimated Time Per Response:

Vessel Permits

    Vessel permit application: 45 minutes; Vessel permit renewal forms: 

30 minutes; Initial dealer permit applications: 15 minutes; Dealer 

permit renewal forms: 5 minutes; Initial and renewal vessel operator 

permit applications: 1 hour; Obtaining and submitting a dealer or 

vessel owner email address: 5 minutes; Limited access vessel upgrade or 

replacement applications: 3 hours; and Applications for retention of 

limited access permit history: 30 minutes.

VMS Requirements

    Installing a VMS unit: 1 hour; Confirming VMS connectivity: 5 

minutes; VMS certification form: 5 minutes; VMS installation for 

Canadian herring transport vessels: 1 hour and 20 minutes; Email to 

declare their entrance and departure from U.S. waters: 15 minutes; 

Automatic polling of vessel position using the VMS unit: 0 minutes; 

Area and DAS declarations: 5 minutes; Declaration of days-out of the 

gillnet fishery for monkfish and NE multispecies vessels: 3 minutes; 

Departure and landing notification for monkfish and occasional sea 

scallop vessels using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system: 2 

minutes; Good Samaritan DAS credit request: 30 minutes; Entangled whale 

DAS credit request: 30 minutes; DAS credit for a canceled trip due to 

unforeseen circumstances, but have not yet begun fishing: 5 minutes to 

request via the VMS unit and 10 minutes to request via the paper form; 

VMS catch reports for trips in NE multispecies broad stock areas: 15 

minutes; All other NE multispecies VMS reporting requirements, such as 

U.S. Canada Area, Closed Area II Special Access Programs, etc: 15 

minutes; VMS catch reports by Atlantic herring vessels: 7 minutes, VMS 

power down exemption: 30 minutes.

Observer Program Call-In Requirements

    Requests for observer coverage are estimated to require either 2 or 

10 minutes per request, depending on the program for which observers 

are requested.

Exempted Fisheries Programs

    Letter of Authorization (LOA) to participate in any of the 

exemption programs: 5 minutes; Charter/Party Exemption Certificate for 

GOM Closed Areas: 2 minutes; Limited access sea scallop vessels state 

waters DAS exemption program or state waters gear exemption program: 2 

minutes; Withdraw from either state waters exemption program prior to 

the end of the 7-day designated exemption period requirement: 2 

minutes; Request for change in permit category designation: 5 minutes; 

Request for transit to another port by a vessel required to remain 

within the GOM cod trip limit: 2 minutes; Gillnet category designation, 

including initial requests for gillnet tags: 10 minutes; Requests for 

additional tags: 2 minutes; Notification of lost tags and requests for 

replacement tag numbers: 2 minutes; Attachment of gillnet tags: 1 

minute; Initial lobster area designations: 5 minutes; Requests for 

additional tags: 2 minutes; and notification of lost tags: 3 minutes; 

Requests for state quota transfers in the bluefish, summer flounder and 

scup fisheries: 1 hour; GOM cod trip limit exemption: 5 minutes; Vessel 

owner single letter option: 5 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 28,748.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $5,828,067 in recordkeeping/

reporting costs.

IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of 

information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 

the agency, including whether the information shall have practical 

utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden 

(including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; 

(c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 

information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the 

collection of information on respondents, including through the use of 

automated collection techniques or other forms of information 

technology.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized 

and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information 

collection; they also will become a matter of public record.