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This final rule implements the 2000 Sea Scallop Exemption Program (Exemption Program), creates Sea Scallop Exemption Areas (Exemption Areas) in portions of multispecies Closed Area I (CA I), Closed Area II (CA II), and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area (NLCA) and includes the following management measures:

A possession limit of up to 10,000 lb (4,356.0 kg) of scallop meats per trip; a maximum number of trips for each area; an automatic minimum deduction of 10 days-at-sea (DAS) for each trip; a minimum mesh twine-top of 10 inches (25.40 cm); a yellowtail flounder total allowable catch (TAC) of 725 metric tons (mt) for CA I and CA II combined, and 50 mt for the NLCA; and an increase in the regulated species possession limit from 300 lb (136.1 kg) to 1,000 lb (435.6 kg) per trip, among other measures. In addition, this action modifies the scallop dredge gear stowage requirements and corrects and clarifies the ‘‘end of the year DAS carryover’’ provision for vessels participating in the limited access scallop fishery. The primary intent of this action is to provide a continuation and an expansion of a short-term strategy to allow scallop dredge vessels access to multispecies closed areas without compromising multispecies and sea scallop rebuilding or habitat protection.

NMFS issues this final rule to implement measures contained in Framework Adjustment 13 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and Framework Adjustment 34 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP.

Final Rule