[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 39 (Wednesday, February 27, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 10562-10590]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-3531]



[[Page 10561]]

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Part III





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



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50 CFR Part 679



Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 
2008 and 2009 Final Harvest Specifications for Groundfish; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 39 / Wednesday, February 27, 2008 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 10562]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 071106671-8010-02]
RIN 0648-XD67


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of 
Alaska; 2008 and 2009 Final Harvest Specifications for Groundfish

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Final rule; closures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces 2008 and 2009 final harvest specifications, 
reserves and apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species 
catch (PSC) limits, and associated management measures for the 
groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to establish harvest limits and associated management 
measures for groundfish during the 2008 and 2009 fishing years and to 
accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for 
Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The intended effect of this 
action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act.

DATES: The 2008 and 2009 final harvest specifications and associated 
management measures are effective at 1200 hrs, Alaska local time 
(A.l.t.), February 27, 2008, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 
2009.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the 
Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), and Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) prepared for this action are available from 
the Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802, Attn: Ellen 
Sebastian, or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://
www.fakr.noaa.gov. Copies of the final 2007 Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the 
GOA, dated November 2007, are available from the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (Council), 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, 
Anchorage, AK 99510-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from its Web site at 
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Pearson, Sustainable Fisheries 
Division, Alaska Region, 907-481-1780, or e-mail at 
tom.pearson@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the 
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the FMP. The Council 
prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 
et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP 
appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.
    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after 
consultation with the Council, to specify and apportion the total 
allowable catch (TAC) for each target species and for the ``other 
species'' category, and the sum of which must be within the optimum 
yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt). The final 
specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 26 of this document 
satisfy this requirement. For 2008, the sum of the TAC amounts is 
262,826 mt. For 2009, the sum of the TAC amounts is 279,264 mt.
    50 CFR 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit 
public comment on proposed annual TACs, halibut PSC amounts, and 
seasonal allowances of pollock and inshore/offshore Pacific cod. The 
proposed GOA groundfish specifications and Pacific halibut PSC 
allowances for 2008 and 2009 were published in the Federal Register on 
December 6, 2007 (72 FR 68810). Comments were invited and accepted 
through January 7, 2008. NMFS received two letters of comment on the 
proposed specifications. These letters of comment are summarized in the 
Response to Comments section of this action. In December 2007, NMFS 
consulted with the Council regarding the 2008 and 2009 harvest 
specifications. After considering public comments received, as well as 
biological and economic data that were available at the Council's 
December 2007 meeting, NMFS is implementing the 2008 and 2009 final 
harvest specifications, as recommended by the Council.

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and TAC Specifications

    In December 2007, the Council, its Advisory Panel (AP), and its 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), reviewed current biological 
and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the 
GOA. This information was compiled by the Council's GOA Plan Team and 
was presented in the final 2007 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish 
fisheries, dated November 2007 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report 
contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of 
each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as well as 
summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the 
economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these 
data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates an ABC for each species or 
species category.
    The final ABC levels are based on the best available biological and 
socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, 
information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised 
methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the 
formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute ABCs and overfishing levels 
(OFLs). The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex 
are determined by the level of reliable information available to 
fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive 
series of six tiers, with tier one representing the highest level of 
information quality available and tier six the lowest level of 
information quality available.
    The final TAC recommendations were based on the ABCs as adjusted 
for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including 
maintaining the sum of all TACs within the required OY range of 116,000 
to 800,000 mt. The Council adopted the AP's TAC recommendations. The 
Council recommended TACs for 2008 and 2009 equal to ABCs for pollock, 
deep-water flatfish, rex sole, sablefish, Pacific ocean perch, 
shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, northern rockfish, pelagic 
shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, big 
skate, longnose skate, and other skates. The Council recommended TACs 
for 2008 and 2009 that are less than the ABCs for Pacific cod, flathead 
sole, shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, other rockfish, and 
Atka mackerel. None of the Council's recommended TACs for 2008 and 2009 
exceeds the final ABC for any species or species category. The 2008 and 
2009 harvest specifications approved by the Secretary of Commerce 
(Secretary) are unchanged from those recommended by the Council and are 
consistent with the preferred harvest strategy alternative in the Final 
EIS. NMFS finds that the Council's recommended ABCs, OFLs, and TACs are 
consistent with the biological condition of the groundfish stocks as 
described in the 2007 SAFE report and approved by the Council. NMFS 
also

[[Page 10563]]

finds that the Council's recommendations for OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts 
are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as 
adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, 
including maintaining the total TAC within the OY range. NMFS reviewed 
the Council's recommended TAC specifications and apportionments and 
approves these specifications under 50 CFR 679.20(c)(3)(ii). The 
apportionment of TAC amounts among gear types, processing sectors, and 
seasons is discussed below.
    Tables 1 and 2 list the final 2008 and 2009 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and 
area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. The sums of the 2008 and 
2009 ABCs are 536,201 mt and 556,183 mt, respectively, which are higher 
than the 2007 ABC sum of 490,327 mt (72 FR 9676, March 5, 2007).

Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    As in 2007, the SSC and Council recommended that the method of 
apportioning the sablefish ABC among management areas in 2008 and 2009 
include commercial fishery and survey data. NMFS stock assessment 
scientists believe the use of unbiased commercial fishery data 
reflecting catch-per-unit-effort provides a desirable input for stock 
distribution assessments. NMFS evaluates the use of commercial fishery 
data annually to ensure unbiased information is included in stock 
distribution models. The Council's recommendation for sablefish area 
apportionments also takes into account the prohibition on the use of 
trawl gear in the Southeast Outside (SEO) District of the Eastern 
Regulatory Area and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern 
Regulatory Area ABCs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other 
directed groundfish fisheries in the West Yakutat (WYK) District (Sec.  
679.20(a)(4)(i)).
    Since the inception of a State of Alaska (State) managed pollock 
fishery in Prince William Sound (PWS), the GOA Plan Team has 
recommended the guideline harvest level (GHL) for the pollock fishery 
in PWS be deducted from the ABC for the western stock of pollock in the 
GOA in the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK) Area. For the 2008 
and 2009 pollock fisheries in PWS, the State's GHL is 1,650 mt.
    The apportionment of annual pollock TAC among the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA reflects the seasonal biomass 
distribution and is discussed in greater detail below. The annual 
pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is 
apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, as well as 
equally among each of the following four seasons: the A season (January 
20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C 
season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 
through November 1) (50 CFR 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv) and 
679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)).
    The SSC, AP, and Council adopted the Plan Team's OFL and ABC 
recommendations for all groundfish species categories. The SSC, AP, and 
Council recommended apportionment of the ABC for Pacific cod in the GOA 
among regulatory areas based on the three most recent NMFS summer trawl 
surveys.
    The 2008 and 2009 Pacific cod TACs are affected by the State's 
fishery for Pacific cod in State waters in the Central and Western 
Regulatory Areas, as well as in PWS. The SSC, AP, and Council 
recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod 
removals not exceed the ABC. Accordingly, the Council recommended 
reducing the 2008 and 2009 Pacific cod TACs from the ABCs in the 
Central and Western Regulatory Areas to account for State GHLs. 
Therefore, the 2008 and 2009 Pacific cod TACs are less than the ABCs by 
the following amounts: (1) Eastern GOA, 266 mt; (2) Central GOA, 9,475 
mt; and (3) Western GOA, 6,483 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the 
State's 2008 and 2009 GHLs in these areas, which are 10 percent, 25 
percent, and 25 percent of the Eastern, Central, and Western GOA ABCs, 
respectively. The percentages of the ABCs used to calculate the GHLs 
for the State managed Pacific cod fisheries are unchanged from 2007.
    NMFS also is establishing seasonal apportionments of the annual 
Pacific cod TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty 
percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-
line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl 
gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC 
is apportioned to the B season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear 
from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 
1 through November 1 (50 CFR 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)).
    As in 2007, NMFS establishes for 2008 and 2009 an A season directed 
fishing allowance (DFA) for the Pacific cod fisheries in the GOA based 
on the management area TACs minus the recent average A season 
incidental catch of Pacific cod in each management area before June 10 
(Sec.  679.20(d)(1)). The DFA and incidental catch before June 10 will 
be managed such that total harvest in the A season will be no more than 
60 percent of the annual TAC. Incidental catch taken after June 10 will 
continue to accrue against the B season TAC. This action meets the 
intent of the Steller Sea Lion Protection Measures by achieving 
temporal dispersion of the Pacific cod removals and by reducing the 
likelihood of harvest exceeding 60 percent of the annual TAC in the A 
season (January 1 through June 10 for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear; 
January 20 through June 10 for trawl gear). The seasonal apportionments 
of the annual Pacific cod TAC are discussed in greater detail below.
    The FMP specifies that the amount for the ``other species'' 
category be set at an amount less than or equal to 5 percent of the 
combined TAC amounts for target species. The final 2008 and 2009 annual 
GOA-wide ``other species'' TACs of 4,500 mt are less than 5 percent of 
the combined TAC amounts for target species. The sum of the TACs for 
all GOA groundfish is 262,826 mt for 2008 and 279,264 mt for 2009, 
which are within the OY range specified by the FMP. The sum of the 2008 
TACs is lower and the sum of the 2009 TACs is higher than the 2007 TAC 
sum of 269,912 mt.

Other Rules Affecting the 2008 and 2009 Harvest Specifications

    Congress granted NMFS specific statutory authority to manage 
Central GOA rockfish fisheries in Section 802 of the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-199). The elements of the 
Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Pilot Program (Rockfish Program) are 
discussed in detail in the proposed and final rules for Amendment 68 to 
the FMP (71 FR 33040, June 7, 2006, and 71 FR 67210, November 20, 2006, 
respectively) and final rule revision (72 FR 37678, July 11, 2007). The 
Rockfish Program is authorized for five years, from January 1, 2007, 
until December 31, 2011.
    The Rockfish Program allocates exclusive harvesting and processing 
privileges for the following primary rockfish species: Northern 
rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and pelagic shelf rockfish. Secondary 
species are those species incidentally harvested during the primary 
rockfish species fisheries and include Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, 
shortraker rockfish, sablefish, and thornyhead rockfish. The Rockfish 
Program also allocates a portion of the total GOA halibut mortality 
limit annually specified under Sec.  679.21 to participants based on 
historical halibut mortality rates in the primary rockfish species 
fisheries. The 2008 amounts of

[[Page 10564]]

primary rockfish species, secondary species, and halibut mortality to 
be allocated to the Rockfish Program will not be known until eligible 
participants apply for participation in the Rockfish Program by March 
1, 2008. These amounts will be posted on the Alaska Region Web site at 
http://www.fakr.noaa.gov when they become available early in 2008. The 
entry level allocation of rockfish, after subtraction of incidental 
catch amounts, is equal to 5 percent of the Central GOA TAC for Pacific 
ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish. Tables 8 
and 9 list the final 2008 and 2009 allocations of rockfish in the 
Central GOA, respectively, to the entry level fishery.
    The Rockfish Program also establishes catch limits, commonly called 
``sideboards,'' to limit the ability of participants eligible for this 
program to harvest fish in fisheries other than the Central GOA 
rockfish fisheries. Sideboards limit harvest in the specific rockfish 
fisheries in the Western GOA and in the WYK District and the amount of 
halibut bycatch that can be used in certain flatfish fisheries. Tables 
19 and 20 list the final 2008 and 2009 Rockfish Program sideboard 
limits for catcher/processors and catcher vessels in the Western GOA 
and the WYK District. Table 21 lists the final 2008 and 2009 Rockfish 
Program halibut mortality limits for catcher/processors and catcher 
vessels.
    The final rule to implement Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 
Area was published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2007 (72 FR 
52668). Amendment 80 allocates several Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
non-pollock trawl groundfish TACs among fishing sectors, and 
facilitates the formation of harvesting cooperatives in the non-
American Fisheries Act (non-AFA) trawl catcher/processor sector. 
Amendment 80 establishes a limited access privilege program for the 
non-AFA trawl catcher/processor sector. In order to limit the ability 
of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 fisheries to expand their 
harvest efforts in the GOA, Amendment 80 establishes groundfish and 
halibut PSC catch limits for Amendment 80 participants in the GOA. 
Tables 22 and 23 list the final 2008 and 2009 sideboard limits for 
Amendment 80 participants. Table 24 lists the final 2008 and 2009 
halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 participants using trawl gear.
    In April 2007, the Council recommended Amendment 77 to the GOA FMP. 
Amendment 77 would remove dark rockfish from the pelagic shelf rockfish 
(PSR) complex in the GOA FMP in order to allow the State to assume 
management of dark rockfish beginning in 2009. This action is necessary 
to allow the State to implement more responsive, regionally-based 
management measures than are currently possible under the FMP. If 
Amendment 77 is submitted to and approved by the Secretary, the GOA-
wide overfishing level (OFL), ABC, and TAC for the PSR complex in 2009 
would be reduced by approximately 250 mt from the levels listed in 
Table 2.

Changes From the Proposed 2008 and 2009 Harvest Specifications in the 
GOA

    In October 2007, the Council's recommendations for the proposed 
2008 and 2009 harvest specifications (72 FR 68810, December 6, 2007) 
were based largely upon information contained in the final 2006 SAFE 
report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2006 (see 
ADDRESSES). The Council recommended that the proposed OFLs, ABCs, and 
TACs established for the groundfish fisheries in 2008 (72 FR 9676, 
March 5, 2007 see Table 2) be rolled over to 2008 and 2009 pending 
completion and review of the 2007 SAFE report at its December 2007 
meeting.
    The 2007 SAFE report, which was not available when the Council made 
its recommendations in October 2007, contains the best and most recent 
scientific information on the condition of the groundfish stocks. This 
report was considered in December 2007 by the Council when it made 
recommendations for the final 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications. 
Based on the final 2007 SAFE report, the sum of the 2008 final TACs for 
the GOA (262,826 mt) is 23,347 mt lower than the sum of the proposed 
2008 TACs (286,173 mt). The largest 2008 increases occurred for 
rougheye rockfish, from 993 mt to 1,286 mt (30 percent increase); for 
other skates, from 1,617 mt to 2,104 mt (30 percent increase); for 
flathead sole, from 9,258 mt to 11,054 mt (19 percent increase); and 
for other rockfish, from 1,482 mt to 1,730 mt (17 percent increase). 
The largest decreases occurred for pollock, from 81,467 mt to 60,810 mt 
(34 percent decrease); for pelagic shelf rockfish, from 6,622 mt to 
5,227 mt (27 percent decrease); for thornyhead rockfish, from 2,209 mt 
to 1,910 mt (16 percent decrease); and for sablefish, from 14,239 mt to 
12,730 mt (12 percent decrease). Other increases or decreases in 2008 
and 2009 are within these ranges.
    Compared to the proposed 2008 harvest specifications, the Council's 
final 2008 TAC recommendations increase fishing opportunities for 
species for which the Council had sufficient information to raise TAC 
levels. These include rex sole, flathead sole, shallow-water flatfish, 
Pacific ocean perch, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, other 
rockfish, and other skates. Conversely, the Council reduced TAC levels 
to provide greater protection for several species, including pollock, 
Pacific cod, deep-water flatfish, sablefish, northern rockfish, pelagic 
shelf rockfish, thornyhead rockfish, demersal shelf rockfish, and big 
skates. The changes in the final rule from the proposed rule are based 
on the most recent scientific information and implement the harvest 
strategy described in the proposed rule for the harvest specifications. 
Tables 1 and 2 list the 2008 and 2009 final OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts 
for GOA groundfish, respectively.

 Table 1.--Final 2008 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK), Western
   (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside (SEO), and
                                  Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                     Area/district \1\           ABC             TAC             OFL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........          17,602          17,602             n/a
                                        Chirikof (620)..........          19,181          19,181             n/a
                                        Kodiak (630)............          13,640          13,640             n/a
                                        WYK (640)...............           1,517           1,517             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  W/C/WYK.................          51,940          51,940          72,110
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 10565]]

 
                                        SEO (650)...............           8,240           8,240          11,040
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          60,180          60,180          83,150
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................          25,932          19,449             n/a
                                        C.......................          37,901          28,426             n/a
                                        E.......................           2,660           2,394             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          66,493          50,269          88,660
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flatfish \4\ (deep-water).............  W.......................             690             690             n/a
                                        C.......................           6,721           6,721             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             965             965             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             527             527             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           8,903           8,903          11,343
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................           1,022           1,022             n/a
                                        C.......................           6,731           6,731             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             520             520             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             859             859             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           9,132           9,132          11,933
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................          12,507           2,000             n/a
                                        C.......................          28,174           5,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           3,420           3,420             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             634             634             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          44,735          11,054          55,787
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flatfish \5\ (shallow-water)..........  W.......................          26,360           4,500             n/a
                                        C.......................          29,873          13,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           3,333           3,333             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           1,423           1,423             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          60,989          22,256          74,364
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................          30,817           8,000             n/a
                                        C.......................         167,936          30,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................          15,245           2,500             n/a
                                        SEO.....................          12,472           2,500             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................         226,470          43,000         266,914
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \6\.........................  W.......................           1,890           1,890             n/a
                                        C.......................           5,500           5,500             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           1,950           1,950             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           3,390           3,390             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  E (WYK and SEO).........           5,340           5,340             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          12,730          12,730          15,040
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................           3,686           3,686           4,376
                                        C.......................           8,185           8,185           9,717
                                        WYK.....................           1,100           1,100             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           2,028           2,028             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  E (WYK and SEO).........           3,128           3,128           3,714
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          14,999          14,999          17,807
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \8\...............  W.......................             120             120             n/a
                                        C.......................             315             315             n/a
                                        E.......................             463             463             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................             898             898           1,197
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye rockfish \9\.................  W.......................             125             125             n/a

[[Page 10566]]

 
                                        C.......................             834             834             n/a
                                        E.......................             327             327             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           1,286           1,286           1,548
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish \10\ \11\..............  W.......................             357             357             n/a
                                        C.......................             569             569             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             604             604             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           2,767             200             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           4,297           1,730           5,624
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish \11\ \12\...........  W.......................           2,141           2,141             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,408           2,408             n/a
                                        E.......................               0               0             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           4,549           4,549           5,430
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic shelf rockfish \13\...........  W.......................           1,003           1,003             n/a
                                        C.......................           3,626           3,626             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             251             251             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             347             347             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           5,227           5,227           6,400
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             267             267             n/a
                                        C.......................             860             860             n/a
                                        E.......................             783             783             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           1,910           1,910           2,540
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Big skates \14\.......................  W.......................             632             632             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,065           2,065             n/a
                                        E.......................             633             633             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           3,330           3,330           4,439
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates \15\..................  W.......................              78              78             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,041           2,041             n/a
                                        E.......................             768             768             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           2,887           2,887           3,849
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \16\.....................  GW......................           2,104           2,104           2,806
Demersal shelf rockfish \17\..........  SEO.....................             382             382             611
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           4,700           1,500           6,200
Other species \18\....................  GW......................             n/a           4,500             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total \19\....................  ........................         536,201         262,826        665,642
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at 50 CFR 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide)
\2\ Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A
  season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of
  approximately 26 percent, 49 percent, and 24 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively.
  During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 26 percent,
  60 percent, and 14 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons,
  the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 43 percent, 21 percent, and 35
  percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Tables 5 and 6 list the 2008 and 2009 seasonal
  apportionments of pollock. In the WYK District and SEO Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is
  not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to an A season and 40 percent to a B season in the
  Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the
  inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Table 7 lists the 2008 and 2009 seasonal apportionments and component allocations
  of the Pacific cod TAC.
\4\ ``Deep water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole.
\5\ ``Shallow water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2008 and to trawl gear in 2009. Tables 3 and 4
  list the 2008 and 2009 allocations of sablefish.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\9\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District means slope rockfish
  and demersal shelf rockfish. The category ``other rockfish'' in the SEO District means slope rockfish.

[[Page 10567]]

 
\11\ ``Slope rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), and S. reedi (yellowmouth). In the Eastern Regulatory Area only, slope rockfish also includes
  northern rockfish, S. polyspinis.
\12\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. The 2 mt ABC for northern rockfish in the Eastern
  Regulatory Area has been combined with the ABC for slope rockfish in the WYK District.
\13\ ``Pelagic shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes ciliatus (dark), S. variabilis (dusky), S. entomelas (widow), and
  S. flavidus (yellowtail).
\14\ Big skate means Raja binoculata.
\15\ Longnose skate means Raja rhina.
\16\ Other skates means Bathyraja spp.
\17\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
 
\18\ ``Other species'' means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus. There is no OFL or ABC for ``other species,''
  the TAC for ``other species'' is set at less than or equal to 5 percent of the TACs for assessed target
  species.
\19\ The total ABC and OFL is the sum of the ABCs and OFLs for assessed target species.


 Table 2.--Final 2009 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat (W/C/WYK), Western
   (W), Central (C), Eastern (E) Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat (WYK), Southeast Outside (SEO), and
                                  Gulfwide (GW) Districts of the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                     Area/district \1\           ABC             TAC             OFL
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock \2\...........................  Shumagin (610)..........          23,700          23,700             n/a
                                        Chirikof (620)..........          25,821          25,821             n/a
                                        Kodiak (630)............          18,367          18,367             n/a
                                        WYK (640)...............           2,042           2,042             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  W/C/WYK.................          69,930          69,930          95,940
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
                                        SEO (650)...............           8,240           8,240          11,040
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          78,170          78,170         106,980
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod \3\.......................  W.......................          25,932          19,449             n/a
                                        C.......................          37,901          28,426             n/a
                                        E.......................           2,660           2,394             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          66,493          50,269          88,660
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flatfish \4\ (deep-water).............  W.......................             707             707             n/a
                                        C.......................           6,927           6,927             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             995             995             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             543             543             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           9,172           9,172          11,583
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rex sole..............................  W.......................             948             948             n/a
                                        C.......................           6,241           6,241             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             483             483             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             796             796             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           8,468           8,468          11,065
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flathead sole.........................  W.......................          13,001           2,000             n/a
                                        C.......................          29,289           5,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           3,556           3,556             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             659             659             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          46,505          11,215          57,962
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flatfish \5\ (shallow-water)..........  W.......................          26,360           4,500             n/a
                                        C.......................          29,873          13,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           3,333           3,333             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           1,423           1,423             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          60,989          22,256          74,364
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arrowtooth flounder...................  W.......................          31,080          K8,000             n/a
                                        C.......................         169,371          30,000             n/a
                                        WYK.....................          15,375           2,500             n/a
                                        SEO.....................          12,579           2,500             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................         228,405          43,000         269,237
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sablefish \6\.........................  W.......................           1,727           1,727             n/a
                                        C.......................           5,026           5,026             n/a
                                        WYK.....................           1,782           1,782             n/a

[[Page 10568]]

 
                                        SEO.....................           3,098           3,098             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  E (WYK and SEO).........           4,880           4,880             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          11,633          11,633          12,924
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch \7\...............  W.......................           3,704           3,704           4,397
                                        C.......................           8,225           8,225           9,764
                                        WYK.....................           1,105           1,105             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           2,038           2,038             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Subtotal..........................  E (WYK and SEO).........           3,143           3,143           3,732
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................          15,072          15,072          17,893
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shortraker rockfish \8\...............  W.......................             120             120             n/a
                                        C.......................             315             315             n/a
                                        E.......................             463             463             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................             898             898           1,197
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rougheye rockfish \9\.................  W.......................             124             124             n/a
                                        C.......................             830             830             n/a
                                        E.......................             325             325             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           1,279           1,279           1,540
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other rockfish \10\ \11\..............  W.......................             357             357             n/a
                                        C.......................             569             569             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             604             604             n/a
                                        SEO.....................           2,767             200             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           4,297           1,730           5,624
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern rockfish \11\ \12\...........  W.......................           2,047           2,047             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,302           2,302             n/a
                                        E.......................               0               0             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           4,349           4,349           5,120
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pelagic shelf rockfish \13\...........  W.......................             986             986             n/a
                                        C.......................           3,566           3,566             n/a
                                        WYK.....................             247             247             n/a
                                        SEO.....................             341             341             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           5,140           5,140           6,294
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thornyhead rockfish...................  W.......................             267             267             n/a
                                        C.......................             860             860             n/a
                                        E.......................             783             783             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           1,910           1,910           2,540
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Big skates \14\.......................  W.......................             632             632             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,065           2,065             n/a
                                        E.......................             633             633             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           3,330           3,330           4,439
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Longnose skates \15\..................  W.......................              78              78             n/a
                                        C.......................           2,041           2,041             n/a
                                        E.......................             768             768             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Total.........................  ........................           2,887           2,887           3,849
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other skates \16\.....................  GW......................           2,104           2,104           2,806
Demersal shelf rockfish \17\..........  SEO.....................             382             382             611
Atka mackerel.........................  GW......................           4,700           1,500           6,200
Other species \18\....................  GW......................             n/a           4,500             n/a
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 10569]]

 
        Total \19\....................  ........................         556,183         279,264         690,888
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Regulatory areas and districts are defined at 50 CFR 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of
  Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide)
\2\ Pollock is apportioned in the Western/Central Regulatory Areas among three statistical areas. During the A
  season, the apportionment is based on an adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of
  approximately 26 percent, 49 percent, and 24 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively.
  During the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 26 percent,
  60 percent, and 14 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. During the C and D seasons,
  the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass at 43 percent, 21 percent, and 35
  percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. Tables 5 and 6 list the 2008 and 2009 seasonal
  apportionments of pollock. In the WYK District and SEO Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is
  not divided into seasonal allowances.
\3\ The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to an A season and 40 percent to a B season in the
  Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod is allocated 90 percent for processing by the
  inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component in the Western and Central
  Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Table 7 lists the 2008 and 2009 seasonal apportionments and component allocations
  of the Pacific cod TAC.
\4\ ``Deep water flatfish'' means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, and deepsea sole.
\5\ ``Shallow water flatfish'' means flatfish not including ``deep water flatfish,'' flathead sole, rex sole, or
  arrowtooth flounder.
\6\ Sablefish is allocated to trawl and hook-and-line gears for 2008 and to trawl gear in 2009. Tables 3 and 4
  list the 2008 and 2009 allocations of sablefish.
\7\ ``Pacific ocean perch'' means Sebastes alutus.
\8\ ``Shortraker rockfish'' means Sebastes borealis.
\9\ ``Rougheye rockfish'' means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted).
\10\ ``Other rockfish'' in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District means slope rockfish
  and demersal shelf rockfish. The category ``other rockfish'' in the SEO District means slope rockfish.
\11\ ``Slope rockfish'' means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio),
  S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S.
  wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani
  (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergrey), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus
  (vermilion), and S. reedi (yellowmouth). In the Eastern Regulatory Area only, slope rockfish also includes
  northern rockfish, S. polyspinis.
\12\ ``Northern rockfish'' means Sebastes polyspinis. The 2 mt ABC for northern rockfish in the Eastern
  Regulatory Area has been combined with the ABC for slope rockfish in the WYK District.
\13\ ``Pelagic shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes ciliatus (dark), S. variabilis (dusky), S. entomelas (widow), and
  S. flavidus (yellowtail).
\14\ Big skate means Raja binoculata.
\15\ Longnose skate means Raja rhina.
\16\ Other skates means Bathyraja spp.
\17\ ``Demersal shelf rockfish'' means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper),
  S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye).
\18\ ``Other species'' means sculpins, sharks, squid, and octopus. There is no OFL or ABC for ``other species,''
  the TAC for ``other species'' is set at less than or equal to 5 percent of the TACs for assessed target
  species.
\19\ The total ABC and OFL is the sum of the ABCs and OFLs for assessed target species.

Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, 
Pacific cod, flatfish, and the ``other species'' category be set aside 
in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the 
fishing year. In 2007, NMFS reapportioned all the reserves in the final 
harvest specifications. For 2008 and 2009, NMFS proposed 
reapportionment of all the reserves in the proposed 2008 and 2009 
harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on December 6, 
2007 (72 FR 68810). NMFS received no public comments on the proposed 
reapportionments. For the final 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications, 
NMFS reapportioned as proposed all the reserves for pollock, Pacific 
cod, flatfish, and ``other species.'' Specifications of TAC shown in 
Tables 1 and 2 reflect reapportionment of reserve amounts for these 
species and species groups.

Allocations of the Sablefish TAC Amounts to Vessels Using Hook-and-Line 
and Trawl Gear

    Section 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish 
TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to hook-and-line 
and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent 
of each TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 20 percent of each 
TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 
percent of the TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear, and 5 percent is 
allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern 
Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of 
sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (Sec.  
679.20(a)(1)). In recognition of the trawl ban in the SEO District of 
the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS concurs 
with the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory 
Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District and the remainder 
of the WYK sablefish TAC be available to vessels using hook-and-line 
gear. As a result, NMFS allocates 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in 
the SEO District to vessels using hook-and-line gear. The Council 
recommended that the hook-and-line sablefish TAC be established 
annually to ensure that the Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) fishery is 
conducted concurrent with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the 
most recent survey information. This recommendation results in an 
allocation of 267 mt to trawl gear and 1,683 mt to hook-and-line gear 
in the WYK District, and 3,390 mt to hook-and-line gear in the SEO 
District in 2008, and 244 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District in 2009. 
Table 3 lists the allocations of the 2008 sablefish TACs to hook-and-
line and trawl gear. Table 4 lists the allocations of the 2009 
sablefish TACs to trawl gear.

[[Page 10570]]



  Table 3.--Final 2008 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Hook-and-Line and
                                                   Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line       Trawl
                          Area/district                                 TAC        apportionment   apportionment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,890           1,512             378
Central.........................................................           5,500           4,400           1,100
West Yakutat \1\................................................           1,950           1,683             267
Southeast Outside...............................................           3,390           3,390               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          12,730          10,985           1,745
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Represents an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in
  the WYK District.


      Table 4.--Final 2009 Sablefish TAC Specifications in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Hook-and-line
                          Area/district                                 TAC        apportionment       Trawl
                                                                                        \1\        apportionment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Western.........................................................           1,727             n/a             345
Central.........................................................           5,026             n/a           1,005
West Yakutat \2\................................................           1,782             n/a             244
Southeast Outside...............................................           3,098             n/a               0
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................          11,633               0           1,595
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line gear sablefish Individual Fishery Quota
  fisheries be limited to 1 year.
\2\ Represents an allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in
  the WYK District.

Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and 
Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is 
further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. 
Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified 
for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned 
into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by 
Sec.  679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season 
allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 
31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively.
    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA 
are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. In the A and 
B seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the distribution of 
pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In 
the C and D seasons, the apportionments are in proportion to the 
distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS 
summer surveys. For 2008 and 2009, the Council recommends and NMFS 
approves averaging the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the 
Central Regulatory Area for the A season. The average is intended to 
reflect the distribution of pollock and the performance of the fishery 
in the area during the A season for the 2008 and 2009 fishing years. 
Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is 
underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, 
subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the 
Regional Administrator. The rollover amount of unharvested pollock is 
limited to 20 percent of the seasonal apportionment for the statistical 
area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20 percent limit could be 
further distributed to the other statistical areas, in proportion to 
the estimated biomass in the subsequent season in those statistical 
areas (Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The WYK and SEO District pollock 
TACs of 1,517 mt and 8,240 mt, respectively, in 2008, and 2,042 mt and 
8,240 mt, respectively, in 2009, are not allocated by season.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of 
the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to 
vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after 
subtracting amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be 
caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to 
directed fishing for other groundfish species. The amount of pollock 
available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by 
the offshore component is that amount actually taken as incidental 
catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than 
pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by Sec.  
679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts are 
unknown and will be determined during the fishing year.
    The 2008 and 2009 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the 
Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal 
apportionments for the A, B, C, and D seasons are summarized in Tables 
5 and 6, except that amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore 
and offshore components are not shown.

[[Page 10571]]



 Table 5.--Final 2008 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska;
            Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Shumagin  (area    Chirikof  (area     Kodiak  (area
               Season                        610)               620)               630)            Total \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A...................................     3,322 (26.35%)     6,215 (49.30%)     3,069 (24.35%)      12,606 (100%)
B...................................     3,321 (26.35%)     7,576 (60.09%)     1,709 (13.56%)      12,606 (100%)
C...................................     5,480 (43.47%)     2,695 (21.38%)     4,431 (35.15%)      12,606 (100%)
D...................................     5,479 (43.47%)     2,695 (21.38%)     4,431 (35.15%)      12,605 (100%)
                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total....................             17,602             19,181             13,640            50,423
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock
  TACs shown in this table.
Note: As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available
  from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1,
  respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in
  this table.


 Table 6.--Final 2009 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska;
            Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Shumagin  (area    Chirikof  (area     Kodiak  (area
               Season                        610)               620)               630)            Total \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A...................................     4,472 (26.35%)     8,367 (49.30%)     4,133 (24.35%)      16,972 (100%)
B...................................     4,472 (26.35%)    10,198 (60.09%)     2,302 (13.56%)      16,972 (100%)
C...................................     7,378 (43.47%)     3,628 (21.38%)     5,966 (35.15%)      16,972 (100%)
D...................................     7,378 (43.47%)     3,628 (21.38%)     5,966 (35.15%)      16,972 (100%)
                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total....................             23,700             25,821             18,367            67,888
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock
  TACs shown in this table.
Note: As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available
  from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1,
  respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in
  this table.

Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC and Allocations for 
Processing of Pacific Cod TAC Between Inshore and Offshore Components

    Pacific cod fishing is divided into two seasons in the Western and 
Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. For hook-and-line, pot, and jig 
gear, the A season is January 1 through June 10, and the B season is 
September 1 through December 31. For trawl gear, the A season is 
January 20 through June 10, and the B season is September 1 through 
November 1 (Sec.  679.23(d)(3)). After subtracting incidental catch 
from the A season, 60 percent of the annual TAC will be available as a 
DFA during the A season for the inshore and offshore components. The 
remaining 40 percent of the annual TAC will be available for harvest 
during the B season. The seasonal allocations will be apportioned 
between the inshore and offshore components, as provided in Sec.  
679.20(a)(6)(ii). Under Sec.  679.20(a)(11)(ii), any overage or 
underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season may be 
subtracted from or added to the subsequent B season allowance.
    Section 679.20(a)(6)(ii) requires allocation of the TAC 
apportionments of Pacific cod in all regulatory areas to vessels 
catching Pacific cod for processing by the inshore and offshore 
components. Ninety percent of the Pacific cod TAC in each regulatory 
area is allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the 
inshore component. The remaining 10 percent of the TAC is allocated to 
vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component. 
Table 7 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the final 
2008 and 2009 Pacific cod TACs.

 Table 7.--Final 2008 and 2009 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific cod TAC Amounts in the Gulf of
                    Alaska; Allocations for Processing by the Inshore and Offshore Components
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                       Component allocation
                Season                       Regulatory area            TAC      -------------------------------
                                                                                   Inshore (90%)  Offshore (10%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Western.................          19,449          17,504           1,945
A season (60%)........................  ........................          11,669          10,502           1,167
B season (40%)........................  ........................           7,780           7,002             778
                                        Central.................          28,426          25,583           2,843
A season (60%)........................  ........................          17,056          15,350           1,706
B season (40%)........................  ........................          11,370          10,233           1,137
                                        Eastern.................           2,394           2,155             239
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------

[[Page 10572]]

 
    Total.............................  ........................          50,269          45,242           5,027
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Demersal Shelf Rockfish (DSR)

    In a commercial fisheries news release dated December 11, 2007, the 
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) announced the opening of 
directed fishing for DSR in the Northern Southeast Inside (NSEI) and 
the Southern Southeast Inside (SSEI) Subdistricts of the Eastern Gulf 
of Alaska at 900 hours, A.l.t., January 5, 2008. During the week of 
January 21, 2008, ADF&G announced future openings of directed fishing 
for DSR in the Southeast Outside District (SEO) following the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission's (IPHC) annual meeting held 
January 15-18, 2008. DSR harvest in the halibut fishery is linked to 
the halibut quota, therefore ADF&G cannot estimate potential DSR 
incidental catch in that fishery until those quotas are established. 
NMFS reminds all fishermen that full retention of all DSR by federally 
permitted catcher vessels using hook-and-line or jig gear fishing for 
groundfish and Pacific halibut in the SEO District of the GOA is 
required (Sec.  679.20(j)).

Apportionments to the Central GOA Rockfish Pilot Program

    Sections 679.81(a)(1) and (2) require the allocation of the primary 
rockfish species TACs in the Central Regulatory Area after deducting 
incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries, to 
participants in the Rockfish Pilot Program. Five percent (2.5 percent 
to trawl gear and 2.5 percent to fixed gear) of the final TACs for 
Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish in 
the Central Regulatory Area are allocated to the entry level rockfish 
fishery and the remaining 95 percent to those vessels eligible to 
participate in the Rockfish Program. NMFS is setting aside in 2008 and 
2009 incidental catch amounts (ICAs) of 200 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 
100 mt of northern rockfish, and 100 mt of pelagic shelf rockfish for 
other directed fisheries in the Central Regulatory Area. These amounts 
are based on the 2003 through 2007 average incidental catch in the 
Central Regulatory Area by these other groundfish fisheries.
    Section 679.83(a)(1)(i) requires allocations to the trawl entry 
level fishery to be made first from the allocation of Pacific ocean 
perch available to the rockfish entry level fishery. If the amount of 
Pacific ocean perch available for allocation is less than the total 
allocation allowable for trawl catcher vessels in the rockfish entry 
level fishery, then northern rockfish and pelagic shelf rockfish must 
be allocated to trawl catcher vessels. Allocations of Pacific ocean 
perch, northern rockfish, and pelagic shelf rockfish to longline gear 
vessels must be made after the allocations to trawl gear.
    Tables 8 and 9 list the final 2008 and 2009 allocations of rockfish 
in the Central GOA to trawl and longline gear in the entry level 
rockfish fishery, respectively.

      Table 8.--Final 2008 Allocations of Rockfish in the Central Gulf of Alaska to Trawl and Longline Gear\1\ in the Entry Level Rockfish Fishery
                                                           [Values are rounded to nearest mt]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Incidental                                          Entry level   Entry level
                          Species                                TAC         catch      TAC minus      5% TAC      2.5% TAC       trawl       longline
                                                                           allowance       ICA       minus ICA    minus ICA    allocation    allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch........................................        8,185          200        7,985          399          200           345            54
Northern rockfish..........................................        2,408          100        2,308          115           58             0           115
Pelagic shelf rockfish.....................................        3,626          100        3,526          176           88             0           176
                                                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total..................................................       14,219          400       13,819          691          345           345          345
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes jig and hook-and-line gear.


      Table 9.--Final 2009 Allocations of Rockfish in the Central Gulf of Alaska to Trawl and Longline Gear \1\ in the Entry Level Rockfish Fishery
                                                           [Values are rounded to nearest mt]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Incidental                                          Entry level   Entry level
                          Species                                TAC         catch      TAC minus      5% TAC      2.5% TAC       trawl       longline
                                                                           allowance       ICA       minus ICA    minus ICA    allocation    allocation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific ocean perch........................................        8,225          200        8,025          401          201           342            59
Northern rockfish..........................................        2,302          100        2,202          110           55             0           110
Pelagic shelf rockfish.....................................        3,566          100        3,466          173           87             0           173
                                                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total..................................................       14,093          400       13,693          685          342           342          342
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Longline gear includes jig and hook-and-line gear.


[[Page 10573]]

Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes the annual halibut PSC limit 
apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear and permits the 
establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In December 2007, the 
Council recommended that NMFS maintain the 2007 halibut PSC limits of 
2,000 mt for the trawl fisheries and 300 mt for the hook-and-line 
fisheries. Ten mt of the hook-and-line limit is further allocated to 
the DSR fishery in the SEO District. The DSR fishery is defined at 
Sec.  679.21(d)(4)(iii)(A). This fishery has been apportioned 10 mt in 
recognition of its small-scale harvests. Most vessels in the DSR 
fishery are less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA) and are 
exempt from observer coverage. Therefore, observer data are not 
available to verify actual bycatch amounts. NMFS assumes the halibut 
bycatch in the DSR fishery is low because of the short soak times for 
the gear and duration of the DSR fishery. Also, the DSR fishery occurs 
in the winter when less overlap occurs in the distribution of DSR and 
halibut.
    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) authorizes the exemption of specified non-
trawl fisheries from the halibut PSC limit. NMFS, after consultation 
with the Council, exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ 
hook-and-line gear fishery from the non-trawl halibut limit for 2008 
and 2009. The Council recommended these exemptions because (1) the pot 
gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality (averaging 18 
mt annually from 2001 through 2007); (2) the halibut and sablefish IFQ 
fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ program 
requires retention of legal-sized halibut by vessels using hook-and-
line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder is aboard and is holding 
unused halibut IFQ; and (3) halibut mortality for the jig gear 
fisheries is assumed to be negligible. Halibut mortality is assumed to 
be negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of 
groundfish harvested by jig gear (averaging 323 mt annually from 2001 
through 2006 and 51 mt through December 31, 2007), the selective nature 
of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released 
with jig gear.
    Section 679.21(d)(5) gives NMFS the authority to seasonally 
apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. 
The FMP and regulations require the Council and NMFS consider the 
following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: 
(1) Seasonal distribution of halibut; (2) seasonal distribution of 
target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution; (3) 
expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes 
in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species; (4) 
expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis; (5) expected changes in 
directed groundfish fishing seasons; (6) expected actual start of 
fishing effort; and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal 
halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry.
    The final 2007 and 2008 groundfish harvest specifications (72 FR 
9676, March 5, 2007) summarized the Council and NMFS's findings with 
respect to each of these FMP considerations. The Council and NMFS's 
findings for 2008 and 2009 are unchanged from 2007. The opening dates 
and halibut PSC limitations for vessels using trawl gear participating 
in the Rockfish Program in the Central Regulatory Area are described in 
the final rule to implement the Rockfish Program (71 FR 67210, November 
20, 2006).
    NMFS concurs in the Council's recommendations listed in Table 10, 
which shows the final 2008 and 2009 Pacific halilbut PSC limits, 
allowances, and apportionments. Sections 679.21(d)(5)(iii) and (iv) 
specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a 
PSC limit will be deducted from or added to the next respective 
seasonal apportionment within the fishing year. The information to 
establish the halibut PSC limits was obtained from the 2007 SAFE 
report, NMFS, ADF&G, the IPHC, and public testimony.

            Table 10.--Final 2008 and 2009 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Trawl gear                                         Hook-and-line gear \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        Other than DSR                         DSR
            Season                 Amount     ------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Season           Amount           Season          Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1...........     550 (27.5%)  January 1-June         250 (86%)  January 1-            10 (100%)
                                                10.                               December 31.
April 1-July 1...............       400 (20%)  June 10-                  5 (2%)  ...............  ..............
                                                September 1.
July 1-September 1...........       600 (30%)  September 1-            35 (12%)  ...............  ..............
                                                December 31.
September 1-October 1........      150 (7.5%)  n/a.............             n/a  ...............  ..............
October 1-December 31........       300 (15%)  n/a.............             n/a  ...............  ..............
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................    2,000 (100%)   n/a............      290 (100%)  ...............       10 (100%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific halibut PSC limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR)
  fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the 
trawl halibut PSC limit to trawl fishery categories. The annual 
apportionments are based on each category's proportional share of the 
anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during the fishing year and 
optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the 
halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC 
limits are (1) a deep-water species complex, comprised of sablefish, 
rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole and arrowtooth flounder; and 
(2) a shallow-water species complex, comprised of pollock, Pacific cod, 
shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and 
``other species'' (Sec.  679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Table 11 lists the final 
2008 and 2009 apportionments of Pacific halibut PSC trawl limits 
between the trawl gear deep-water species complex and shallow-water 
species complex.

[[Page 10574]]



  Table 11.--Final 2008 and 2009 Apportionment of Pacific Halibut PSC Trawl Limits Between the Trawl Gear Deep-
                           Water Species Complex and the Shallow-Water Species Complex
                                           [values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Shallow-water
                    Season                          species        Deep-water  species complex         Total
                                                    complex
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
January 20-April 1............................             450  100.............................             550
April 1-July 1................................             100  300.............................             400
July 1-September 1............................             200  400.............................             600
September 1-October 1.........................             150  Any remainder...................             150
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtotal January 20-October 1.............             900  800.............................           1,700
October 1-December 31 \1\.....................             n/a  n/a.............................             300
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
        Total.................................             n/a  n/a.............................          2,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ No apportionment between shallow-water and deep-water fishery complexes during the 5th season (October 1-
  December 31).

Estimated Halibut Bycatch in Prior Years

    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch is data 
collected by observers during 2007. The calculated halibut bycatch 
mortality by trawl, hook-and-line, and pot gear through December 8, 
2007, is 1,922 mt, 271 mt, and 18 mt, respectively, and a total halibut 
mortality of 2,211 mt.
    Halibut bycatch restrictions seasonally constrained trawl gear 
fisheries during the 2007 fishing year. Trawling during the second 
season closed for the deep-water species category on May 17 (72 FR 
28620, May 22, 2007), and during the third season on August 10 (72 FR 
45697, August 15, 2007). Trawling during the second season closed for 
the shallow-water species category on June 4 (72 FR 31472, June 7, 
2007), and during the third season on August 10 (72 FR 45697, August 
15, 2007). To prevent exceeding the fourth season halibut PSC limit for 
the shallow-water species category, directed fishing using trawl gear 
was limited to three 12-hour open periods on September 1 (72 FR 49229, 
August 28, 2007), September 6 (72 FR 51717, September 11, 2007), and 
September 11 (72 FR 52491, September 14, 2007), and to one 48-hour 
period beginning September 21 (72 FR 54603, September 26, 2007). 
Trawling for all groundfish targets (with the exception of pollock by 
vessels using pelagic trawl gear) closed for the fifth season on 
October 8 (72 FR 57888, October 11, 2007), reopened on October 10 (72 
FR 58261, October 15, 2007) until October 15 (72 FR 59038, October 18, 
2007), and reopened on October 22 (72 FR 60586, October 25, 2007). 
Fishing for groundfish using hook-and-line gear has remained open 
throughout 2007 as the halibut PSC limit was not reached. The amount of 
groundfish that trawl gear might have harvested if halibut PSC limits 
had not restricted the 2007 season is unknown.

Expected Changes in Groundfish Stocks and Catch

    The final 2008 and 2009 ABCs for pollock (in 2009), deep-water 
flatfish, shallow-water flatfish, rex sole (in 2008), arrowtooth 
flounder, flathead sole, Pacific ocean perch, rougheye, shortraker, and 
other rockfish, and other skates are higher than those established for 
2007. However, the final 2008 and 2009 ABCs for pollock (in 2008), 
Pacific cod, sablefish, rex sole (in 2009), northern, pelagic shelf, 
thornyhead, and demersal shelf rockfish, and big and longnose skates 
are lower than those established for 2007. For the remaining target 
species, the Council recommended that ABC levels remain unchanged from 
2007. More information on these changes is included in the final SAFE 
report (November 2007) and in the Council, SSC, and AP minutes from the 
December 2007 meeting available from the Council (see ADDRESSES).
    In the GOA, the total final TAC amounts are 262,826 mt for 2008, 
and 279,264 mt for 2009, a decrease of about 3 percent in 2008 and an 
increase of about 3 percent in 2009 from the 2007 TAC total of 269,912 
mt. Table 12 compares the final TACs for 2007 to the final TACs for 
2008 and 2009.

     Table 12.--Comparison of Final 2007 and Final 2008 and 2009 Total Allowable Catch in the Gulf of Alaska
                                 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Species                                   2007            2008            2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock.........................................................          68,307          60,810          78,170
Pacific cod.....................................................          52,264          50,269          50,269
Deep-water flatfish.............................................           8,707           8,903           9,172
Rex sole........................................................           9,100           9,132           8,468
Flathead sole...................................................           9,148          11,054          11,215
Shallow-water flatfish..........................................          19,972          22,256          22,256
Arrowtooth flounder.............................................          43,000          43,000          43,000
Sablefish.......................................................          14,310          12,730          11,633
Pacific ocean perch.............................................          14,636          14,999          15,072
Shortraker rockfish.............................................             843             898             898
Rougheye rockfish...............................................             988           1,286           1,279
Other rockfish..................................................           1,482           1,730           1,730
Northern rockfish...............................................           4,938           4,549           4,349
Pelagic shelf rockfish..........................................           5,542           5,227           5,140
Thornyhead rockfish.............................................           2,209           1,910           1,910
Big skates......................................................           3,544           3,330           3,330
Longnose skates.................................................           2,895           2,887           2,887

[[Page 10575]]

 
Other skates....................................................           1,617           2,104           2,104
Demersal shelf rockfish.........................................             410             382             382
Atka mackerel...................................................           1,500           1,500           1,500
``Other species''...............................................           4,500           4,500           4,500
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................         269,912         262,826         279,264
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Current Estimates of Halibut Biomass and Stock Condition

    The most recent halibut stock assessment was developed by the 
International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) staff in December 2007 
for the 2008 commercial fishery; this assessment was considered by the 
IPHC at its annual January 2008 meeting. Information from ongoing 
passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag recoveries, as well as 
inconsistencies in the traditional closed-area stock assessments for 
some areas has prompted the IPHC to reexamine the stock assessment 
framework and corresponding harvest policy. It had been assumed that 
once the halibut reached legal commercial size there was little 
movement between regulatory areas. PIT tag recoveries indicate greater 
movement between regulatory areas than previously thought. In response 
to this new information, IPHC staff developed a coast-wide assessment 
based on a single stock. The assessment recommends a coast-wide harvest 
rate of 20 percent of the exploitable biomass overall, but a lower 
harvest rate of 15 percent for Areas 4B, C, D, and E. The current 
exploitable halibut biomass in Alaska for 2008 was estimated to be 361 
million pounds, down from 414 million pounds estimated for 2007. 
Approximately half of the decrease is due to changes in the assessment 
model and the other half to anticipated lower commercial and survey 
catch rates in 2008. The female spawning biomass remains far above the 
minimum which occurred in the 1970s.
    The halibut resource is fully utilized. Recent average catches 
(1994-2006) in the commercial halibut fisheries in Alaska have averaged 
33,970 mt round weight. Catch in waters off Alaska is 26 percent higher 
than long-term potential yield for the entire halibut stock, reflecting 
the good condition of the Pacific halibut resource. In January 2008, 
the IPHC staff recommended Alaska commercial catch limits totaling 
30,349 mt round weight for 2008, a 4 percent decrease from 31,667 mt in 
2007. Through December 31, 2007, commercial hook-and-line harvests of 
halibut off Alaska totaled 29,844 mt round weight.
    Additional information on the Pacific halibut stock assessment may 
be found in the IPHC's 2007 Pacific halibut stock assessment (December 
2007), available on the IPHC Web site at http://
www.iphc.washington.edu. The IPHC considered the 2007 Pacific halibut 
assessment for 2008 at its January 2008 annual meeting when the IPHC 
set the 2008 commercial halibut fishery quotas.

Other Factors

    The proposed 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications (72 FR 68810, 
December 6, 2007) discuss potential impacts of expected fishing for 
groundfish on halibut stocks, as well as methods available for, and 
costs of, reducing halibut bycatch in the groundfish fisheries.

Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    The Council recommends and NMFS concurs that the halibut discard 
mortality rates (DMRs) recommended by the IPHC for the 2008 and 2009 
GOA groundfish fisheries be used to monitor the 2008 and 2009 GOA 
halibut bycatch mortality limits. The IPHC recommended use of long-term 
average DMRs for the 2008 and 2009 groundfish fisheries. The IPHC will 
analyze observer data annually and recommend changes to the DMRs where 
a DMR shows large variation from the mean. Most of the IPHC's assumed 
DMRs were based on an average of mortality rates determined from NMFS 
observer data collected between 1996 and 2005. Long-term average DMRs 
were not available for some fisheries, so rates from the most recent 
years were used. For the ``other species'' and skate fisheries, where 
insufficient mortality data are available, the mortality rate of 
halibut caught in the Pacific cod fishery for that gear type was 
recommended as a default rate. The GOA DMRs for 2008 and 2009 are 
unchanged from those used in 2007. The DMRs for hook-and-line targeted 
fisheries range from 10 to 14 percent. The DMRs for trawl target 
fisheries range from 53 to 76 percent. Each DMR for the pot target 
fisheries is 16 percent. The final halibut DMRs for vessels fishing in 
the GOA for 2008 and 2009 are listed in Table 13. A copy of the 
document justifying these DMRs is available from the Council (see 
ADDRESSES) and is discussed in the final 2007 SAFE report, dated 
November 2007.

   Table 13.--Final 2008 and 2009 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for
                  Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska
       [Values are percent of halibut bycatch assumed to be dead]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Mortality
               Gear                     Target fishery         rate (%)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hook-and-line....................  Other species...........           14
                                   Skates..................           14
                                   Pacific cod.............           14
                                   Rockfish................           10
Trawl............................  Arrowtooth flounder.....           69
                                   Atka mackerel...........           60
                                   Deep-water flatfish.....           53

[[Page 10576]]

 
                                   Flathead sole...........           61
                                   Non-pelagic pollock.....           59
                                   Other species...........           63
                                   Skates..................           63
                                   Pacific cod.............           63
                                   Pelagic pollock.........           76
                                   Rex sole................           63
                                   Rockfish................           67
                                   Sablefish...............           65
                                   Shallow-water flatfish..           71
Pot..............................   Other species..........           16
                                   Skates..................           16
                                   Pacific cod.............           16
------------------------------------------------------------------------

American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel 
Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing 
sideboard limitations on AFA catcher/processors and catcher vessels in 
the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests 
of fishermen and processors who have not directly benefitted from the 
AFA from fishermen and processors who have received exclusive 
harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 
679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA catcher/processors from harvesting 
any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, Sec.  679.7(k)(1)(iv) 
prohibits listed AFA catcher/processors from processing any pollock 
harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish 
harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    AFA catcher vessels that are less than 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA, have 
annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands less 
than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 groundfish landings from 1995 
through 1997 are exempt from GOA sideboard limits under Sec.  
679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA catcher vessels 
in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in 
groundfish fisheries covered by the GOA FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iii) 
establishes the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on 
the retained catch of non-exempt AFA catcher vessels of each sideboard 
species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over 
the same period. The final 2008 and 2009 non-exempt AFA catcher vessel 
groundfish harvest sideboard limitations are listed in Tables 14 and 
15, respectively. All catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA 
catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Tables 14 and 15.

  Table 14.--Final 2008 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest Sideboard
                                                   Limitations
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1995-
                                                                     1997 non-                       2008 non-
           Species              Apportionments   Area/ component   exempt AFA CV     2008 TAC       exempt AFA
                                by season/gear                    catch to 1995-                  catcher vessel
                                                                     1997 TAC                        sideboard
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6112           3,322           2,030
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.1427           6,215             887
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2438           3,069             748
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.6112           3,321           2,030
                                10-May 31.
                                                 Chirikof (620).          0.1427           7,576           1,081
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2438           1,709             417
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.6112           5,480           3,349
                                25-October 1.    Chirikof (620).          0.1427           2,695             385
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2438           4,431           1,080
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.6112           5,479           3,349
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).          0.1427           2,695             385
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.2438           4,431           1,080
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.3499           1,517             531
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.3499           8,240           2,883
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W inshore......          0.1423          10,502           1,494
                                January 1-June   W offshore.....          0.1026           1,167             120
                                10.
                                                 C inshore......          0.0722          15,350           1,108
                                                 C offshore.....          0.0721           1,706             123
                               B Season \2\,     W inshore......          0.1423           7,002             996
                                September 1-     W offshore.....          0.1026             778              80
                                December 31.
                                                 C inshore......          0.0722          10,233             739

[[Page 10577]]

 
                                                 C offshore.....          0.0721           1,137              82
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0079           2,155              17
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0078             239               2
Flatfish deep-water..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             690               0
                                                 C..............          0.0670           6,721             450
                                                 E..............          0.0171           1,492              26
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0010           1,022               1
                                                 C..............          0.0402           6,731             271
                                                 E..............          0.0153           1,379              21
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0036           2,000               7
                                                 C..............          0.0261           5,000             131
                                                 E..............          0.0048           4,054              19
Flatfish shallow-water.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0156           4,500              70
                                                 C..............          0.0598          13,000             777
                                                 E..............          0.0126           4,756              60
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0021           8,000              17
                                                 C..............          0.0309          30,000             927
                                                 E..............          0.0020           5,000              10
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             378               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0720           1,100              79
                                                 E..............          0.0488             267              13
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0623           3,686             230
                                                 C..............          0.0866           8,185             709
                                                 E..............          0.0466           3,128             146
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             120               0
                                                 C..............          0.0237             315               7
                                                 E..............          0.0124             463               6
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000             125               0
                                                 C..............          0.0237             834              20
                                                 E..............          0.0124             327               4
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0034             357               1
                                                 C..............          0.2065             569             117
                                                 E..............          0.0000             804               0
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0003           2,141               1
                                                 C..............          0.0336           2,408              81
Pelagic shelf rockfish.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0001           1,003               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,626               0
                                                 E..............          0.0067             598               4
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0308             267               8
                                                 C..............          0.0308             860              26
                                                 E..............          0.0308             783              24
Big skates...................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0090             632               6
                                                 C..............          0.0090           2,065              19
                                                 E..............          0.0090             633               6
Longnose skates..............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0090              78               1
                                                 C..............          0.0090           2,041              18
                                                 E..............          0.0090             768               7
Other skates.................  Annual..........  GW.............          0.0090           2,104              19
DSR..........................  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0020             382               1
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0309           1,500              46
Other species................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0090           4,500             41
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


[[Page 10578]]


  Table 15.--Final 2009 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Harvest Sideboard
                                                   Limitations
                                           [Values are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Ratio of 1995-
                                                                          1997 non-                  2009 non-
            Species              Apportionments by    Area/component    exempt AFA CV   2009 TAC    exempt AFA
                                    season/gear                        catch to 1995-             catcher vessel
                                                                          1997 TAC                   sideboard
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock........................  A Season, January  Shumagin (610)...          0.6112      4,472           2,733
                                  20-March 10.      Chirikof (620)...          0.1427                      1,194
                                                                                8,367
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.2438      4,133           1,008
                                 B Season, March    Shumagin (610)...          0.6112      4,472           2,733
                                  10-May 31.
                                                    Chirikof (620)...          0.1427     10,198           1,455
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.2438      2,302             561
                                 C Season, August   Shumagin (610)...          0.6112      7,378           4,509
                                  25-October 1.     Chirikof (620)...          0.1427      3,628             518
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.2438      5,966           1,455
                                 D Season, October  Shumagin (610)...          0.6112      7,378           4,509
                                  1-November 1.     Chirikof (620)...          0.1427      3,628             518
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.2438      5,966           1,455
                                 Annual...........  WYK (640)........          0.3499      2,042             714
                                                    SEO (650)........          0.3499      8,240           2,883
Pacific cod....................  A Season \1\,      W inshore........          0.1423     10,502           1,494
                                  January 1-June    W offshore.......          0.1026      1,167             120
                                  10.
                                                    C inshore........          0.0722     15,350           1,108
                                                    C offshore.......          0.0721      1,706             123
                                 B Season \2\,      W inshore........          0.1423      7,002             996
                                  September 1-      W offshore.......          0.1026        778              80
                                  December 31.
                                                    C inshore........          0.0722     10,233             739
                                                    C offshore.......          0.0721      1,137              82
                                 Annual...........  E inshore........          0.0079      2,155              17
                                                    E offshore.......          0.0078        239               2
Flatfish deep-water............  Annual...........  W................          0.0000        707               0
                                                    C................          0.0670      6,927             464
                                                    E................          0.0171      1,538              26
Rex sole.......................  Annual...........  W................          0.0010        948               1
                                                    C................          0.0402      6,241             251
                                                    E................          0.0153      1,279              20
Flathead sole..................  Annual...........  W................          0.0036      2,000               7
                                                    C................          0.0261      5,000             131
                                                    E................          0.0048      4,215              20
Flatfish shallow-water.........  Annual...........  W................          0.0156      4,500              70
                                                    C................          0.0598     13,000             777
                                                    E................          0.0126      4,756              60
Arrowtooth flounder............  Annual...........  W................          0.0021      8,000              17
                                                    C................          0.0309     30,000             927
                                                    E................          0.0020      5,000              10
Sablefish......................  Annual, trawl      W................          0.0000        345               0
                                  gear.
                                                    C................          0.0720      1,005              72
                                                    E................          0.0488        244              12
Pacific ocean perch............  Annual...........  W................          0.0623      3,704             231
                                                    C................          0.0866      8,225             712
                                                    E................          0.0466      3,143             146
Shortraker rockfish............  Annual...........  W................          0.0000        120               0
                                                    C................          0.0237        315               7
                                                    E................          0.0124        463               6
Rougheye rockfish..............  Annual...........  W................          0.0000        142               0
                                                    C................          0.0237        830              20
                                                    E................          0.0124        325               4
Other rockfish.................  Annual...........  W................          0.0034        357               1
                                                    C................          0.2065        569             117
                                                    E................          0.0000        804               0
Northern rockfish..............  Annual...........  W................          0.0003      2,047               1
                                                    C................          0.0336      2,302              77
Pelagic shelf rockfish.........  Annual...........  W................          0.0001        986               0
                                                    C................          0.0000      3,566               0
                                                    E................          0.0067        588               4
Thornyhead rockfish............  Annual...........  W................          0.0308        267               8
                                                    C................          0.0308        860              26
                                                    E................          0.0308        783              24
Big skates.....................  Annual...........  W................          0.0090        632               6
                                                    C................          0.0090      2,065              19

[[Page 10579]]

 
                                                    E................          0.0090        633               6
Longnose skates................  Annual...........  W................          0.0090         78               1
                                                    C................          0.0090      2,041              18
                                                    E................          0.0090        768               7
Other skates...................  Annual...........  GW...............          0.0090      2,104              19
DSR............................  Annual...........  SEO..............          0.0020        382               1
Atka mackerel..................  Annual...........  Gulfwide.........          0.0309      1,500              46
Other species..................  Annual...........  Gulfwide.........          0.0090      4,500             41
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA catcher vessels in the 
GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt 
AFA catcher vessels in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 
divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 
through 1997 (Sec.  679.64(b)(4)). Table 16 lists the final 2008 and 
2009 non-exempt AFA catcher vessel halibut PSC limits for vessels using 
trawl gear in the GOA.

  Table 16.--Final 2008 and 2009 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits for Vessels using Trawl
                                                                     Gear in the GOA
                                                               [Values are in metric tons]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Ratio of 1995-
                                                                                                  1997 non-exempt                        2008 and 2009
         Seasonal  allowance                      Season                   Target fishery         AFA CV retained     2008 and 2009     non-exempt  AFA
                                                                                                   catch to total       PSC limit         CV PSC limit
                                                                                                   retained catch
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1....................................  January 20-April 1.........  shallow-water..............              0.340                450                153
                                                                    deep-water.................              0.070                100                  7
2....................................  April 1-July 1.............  shallow-water..............              0.340                100                 34
                                                                    deep-water.................              0.070                300                 21
3....................................  July 1-September 1.........  shallow-water..............              0.340                200                 68
                                                                    deep-water.................              0.070                400                 28
4....................................  September 1-October 1......  shallow-water..............              0.340                150                 51
                                                                    deep-water.................              0.070                  0                  0
5....................................  October 1-December 31......  all targets................              0.205                300                 61
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Limitations

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish catch limits for vessels with 
a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery from 
using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization 
Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish 
fisheries. These sideboard limits restrict these vessels' catch to 
their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery 
(except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also will 
apply to catch made using a License Limitation Program (LLP) license 
derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP 
license is used on another vessel.
    Sideboard limits for non-AFA crab vessels in the GOA are based on 
their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered 
by the GOA FMP. Section 680.22(d) and (e) base the groundfish sideboard 
limitations in the GOA on the retained catch by non-AFA crab vessels of 
each sideboard species from 1996 through 2000 divided by the total 
retained harvest of that species over the same period. The 2008 and 
2009 final GOA non-AFA crab vessel groundfish harvest sideboard limits 
are listed in Tables 17 and 18. All targeted or incidental catch of 
sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels will be deducted from 
the sideboard limits in Tables 17 and 18.
    Vessels exempt from Pacific cod sideboards are those that landed 
less than 45,359 kilograms of Bering Sea snow crab and more than 500 mt 
of groundfish (in round weight equivalents) from the GOA between 
January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2000, and any vessel named on an LLP 
that was generated in whole or in part by the fishing history of a 
vessel meeting the criteria in Sec.  680.22(a)(3).

[[Page 10580]]



      Table 17.--Final 2008 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  Ratio of 1996-
                                                                   2000 non-AFA                    2008 non-AFA
                                                                    crab vessel                     crab vessel
           Species                Season/gear     Area/component  catch to 1996-     2008 TAC        sideboard
                                                                    2000 total                         limit
                                                                      harvest
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,322              33
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).          0.0031           6,215              19
                                March 10.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           3,069               1
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).          0.0098           3,321              33
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).          0.0031           7,576              23
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           1,709               0
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).          0.0098           5,480              54
                                25-October 1.    Chirikof (620).          0.0031           2,695               8
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           4,431               1
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).          0.0098           5,479              54
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).          0.0031           2,695               8
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...          0.0002           4,431               1
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......          0.0000           1,517               0
                                                 SEO (650)......          0.0000           8,240               0
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W inshore......          0.0902          10,502             947
                                January 1-June   W offshore.....          0.2046           1,167             239
                                10.
                                                 C inshore......          0.0383          15,350             588
                                                 C offshore.....          0.2074           1,706             354
                               B Season \2\,     W inshore......          0.0902           7,002             632
                                September 1-     W offshore.....          0.2046             778             159
                                December 31.
                                                 C inshore......          0.0383          10,233             392
                                                 C offshore.....          0.2074           1,137             236
                               Annual..........  E inshore......          0.0110           2,155              24
                                                 E offshore.....          0.0000             239               0
Flatfish deep-water..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             690               2
                                                 C..............          0.0000           6,721               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,492               0
Rex sole.....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           1,022               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           6,731               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           1,379               0
Flathead sole................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0002           2,000               0
                                                 C..............          0.0004           5,000               2
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,054               0
Flatfish shallow-water.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0059           4,500              27
                                                 C..............          0.0001          13,000               1
                                                 E..............          0.0000           4,756               0
Arrowtooth flounder..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0004           8,000               3
                                                 C..............          0.0001          30,000               3
                                                 E..............          0.0000           5,000               0
Sablefish....................  Annual, trawl     W..............          0.0000             378               0
                                gear.
                                                 C..............          0.0000           1,100               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000             267               0
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0000           3,686               0
                                                 C..............          0.0000           8,185               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000           3,128               0
Shortraker rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0013             120               0
                                                 C..............          0.0012             315               0
                                                 E..............          0.0009             463               0
Rougheye rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0067             125               1
                                                 C..............          0.0047             834               4
                                                 E..............          0.0008             327               0
Other rockfish...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0035             357               1
                                                 C..............          0.0033             569               2
                                                 E..............          0.0000             804               0
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0005           2,141               1
                                                 C..............          0.0000           2,408               0
Pelagic shelf rockfish.......  Annual..........  W..............          0.0017           1,003               2
                                                 C..............          0.0000           3,626               0
                                                 E..............          0.0000             598               0
Thornyhead rockfish..........  Annual..........  W..............          0.0047             267               1
                                                 C..............          0.0066             860               6
                                                 E..............          0.0045             783               4
Big skate....................  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392             632              25
                                                 C..............          0.0159           2,065              33
                                                 E..............          0.0000             633               0
Longnose skate...............  Annual..........  W..............          0.0392              78               3

[[Page 10581]]

 
                                                 C..............          0.0159           2,041              32
                                                 E..............          0.0000             768               0
Other skates.................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           2,014              35
Demersal shelf rockfish......  Annual..........  SEO............          0.0000             382               0
Atka mackerel................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0000           1,500               0
Other species................  Annual..........  Gulfwide.......          0.0176           4,500             79
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


      Table 18.--Final 2009 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Harvest Sideboard Limits
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Ratio of 1996-
                                                                        2000 non-AFA               2009 non-AFA
                                                                         crab vessel                crab vessel
            Species                 Season/gear       Area/component   catch to 1996-   2009 TAC     sideboard
                                                                         2000 total                    limit
                                                                           harvest
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock........................  A Season, January  Shumagin (610)...          0.0098      4,472              44
                                  20-March 10.      Chirikof (620)...          0.0031      8,367              26
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.0002      4,133               1
                                 B Season, March    Shumagin (610)...          0.0098      4,472              44
                                  10-May 31.        Chirikof (620)...          0.0031     10,198              32
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.0002      2,302               0
                                 C Season, August   Shumagin (610)...          0.0098      7,378              72
                                  25-October 1.     Chirikof (620)...          0.0031      3,628              11
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.0002      5,966               1
                                 D Season, October  Shumagin (610)...          0.0098      7,378              72
                                  1-November 1.     Chirikof (620)...          0.0031      3,628              11
                                                    Kodiak (630).....          0.0002      5,966               1
                                 Annual...........  WYK (640)........          0.0000      2,042               0
                                                    SEO (650)........          0.0000      8,240               0
Pacific cod....................  A Season \1\,      W inshore........          0.0902     10,502             947
                                  January 1-June    W offshore.......          0.2046      1,167             239
                                  10.
                                                    C inshore........          0.0383     15,350             588
                                                    C offshore.......          0.2074      1,706             354
                                 B Season \2\,      W inshore........          0.0902      7,002             632
                                  September 1-      W offshore.......          0.2046        778             159
                                  December 31.
                                                    C inshore........          0.0383     10,233             392
                                                    C offshore.......          0.2074      1,137             236
                                 Annual...........  E inshore........          0.0110      2,155              24
                                                    E offshore.......          0.0000        239               0
Flatfish deep-water............  Annual...........  W................          0.0035        707               2
                                                    C................          0.0000      6,927               0
                                                    E................          0.0000      1,538               0
Rex sole.......................  Annual...........  W................          0.0000        948               0
                                                    C................          0.0000      6,241               0
                                                    E................          0.0000      1,279               0
Flathead sole..................  Annual...........  W................          0.0002      2,000               0
                                                    C................          0.0004      5,000               2
                                                    E................          0.0000      4,215               0
Flatfish shallow-water.........  Annual...........  W................          0.0059      4,500              27
                                                    C................          0.0001     13,000               1
                                                    E................          0.0000      4,756               0
Arrowtooth flounder............  Annual...........  W................          0.0004      8,000               3
                                                    C................          0.0001     30,000               3
                                                    E................          0.0000      5,000               0
Sablefish......................  Annual, trawl      W................          0.0000        345               0
                                  gear.
                                                    C................          0.0000      1,005               0
                                                    E................          0.0000        244               0
Pacific ocean perch............  Annual...........  W................          0.0000      3,704               0
                                                    C................          0.0000      8,225               0

[[Page 10582]]

 
                                                    E................          0.0000      3,143               0
Shortraker rockfish............  Annual...........  W................          0.0013        120               0
                                                    C................          0.0012        315               0
                                                    E................          0.0009        463               0
Rougheye rockfish..............  Annual...........  W................          0.0067        124               1
                                                    C................          0.0047        830               4
                                                    E................          0.0008        325               0
Other rockfish.................  Annual...........  W................          0.0035        357               1
                                                    C................          0.0033        569               2
                                                    E................          0.0000        804               0
Northern rockfish..............  Annual...........  W................          0.0005      2,047               1
                                                    C................          0.0000      2,302               0
Pelagic shelf rockfish.........  Annual...........  W................          0.0017        986               2
                                                    C................          0.0000      3,566               0
                                                    E................          0.0000        588               0
Thornyhead rockfish............  Annual...........  W................          0.0047        267               1
                                                    C................          0.0066        860               6
                                                    E................          0.0045        783               4
Big skate......................  Annual...........  W................          0.0392        632              25
                                                    C................          0.0159      2,065              33
                                                    E................          0.0000        633               0
Longnose skate.................  Annual...........  W................          0.0392         78               3
                                                    C................          0.0159      2,041              32
                                                    E................          0.0000        768               0
Other skates...................  Annual...........  Gulfwide.........          0.0176      2,104              37
Demersal shelf rockfish........  Annual...........  SEO..............          0.0000        382               0
Atka mackerel..................  Annual...........  Gulfwide.........          0.0000      1,500               0
Other species..................  Annual...........  Gulfwide.........          0.0176      4,500             79
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard Limitations and Halibut Mortality 
Limitations

    Section 679.82(d)(7) establishes sideboards to limit the ability of 
participants eligible for the Rockfish Program to harvest fish in 
fisheries other than the Central GOA rockfish fisheries. The Rockfish 
Program provides certain economic advantages to harvesters. Harvesters 
could use this economic advantage to increase their participation in 
other fisheries, adversely affecting the participants in other 
fisheries. The final sideboards for 2008 and 2009 limit the total 
amount of catch that could be taken by eligible harvesters and limit 
the amount of halibut mortality to historic levels. The sideboard 
measures are in effect only during the month of July. Traditionally, 
the Central GOA rockfish fisheries opened in July. The sideboards are 
designed to restrict fishing during the historical season for the 
fishery, but allow eligible rockfish harvesters to participate in 
fisheries before or after the historical rockfish season. The sideboard 
provisions are discussed in detail in the proposed rule (71 FR 33040, 
June 7, 2006) and final rule (71 FR 67210, November 20, 2006, and 72 FR 
37678, July 11, 2007) for the Rockfish Program. Tables 19 and 20 list 
the final 2008 and 2009 Rockfish Program harvest limits in the WYK 
District and the Western GOA. Table 21 lists the final 2008 and 2009 
Rockfish Program halibut mortality limits for catcher/processors and 
catcher vessels.

Table 19.--Final 2008 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits by Sector for West Yakutat District and Western Regulatory
                       Area by the Catcher/Processor (CP) and Catcher Vessel (CV) Sectors
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  CP sector    CV sector                  2008 CP      2008 CV
       Management area              Fishery       (% of TAC)   (% of TAC)    2008 TAC      limit        limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
West Yakutat District........  Pelagic shelf            72.4          1.7          251          182            4
                                rockfish.
                               Pacific ocean            76.0          2.9        1,100          836           32
                                perch.
Western Regulatory Area......  Pelagic shelf            63.3          0.0        1,003          635            0
                                rockfish.
                               Pacific ocean            61.1          0.0        3,686        2,252            0
                                perch.
                               Northern                 78.9          0.0        2,141        1,689            0
                                rockfish.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 10583]]


Table 20.--Final 2009 Rockfish Program Harvest Limits by Sector for West Yakutat District and Western Regulatory
                       Area by the Catcher/Processor (CP) and Catcher Vessel (CV) Sectors
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  CP sector    CV sector                  2009 CP      2009 CV
       Management area              Fishery       (% of TAC)   (% of TAC)    2009 TAC      limit        limit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
West Yakutat District........  Pelagic shelf            72.4          1.7          247          179            4
                                rockfish.
                               Pacific ocean            76.0          2.9        1,105          840           32
                                perch.
Western Regulatory Area......  Pelagic shelf            63.3          0.0          986          624            0
                                rockfish.
                               Pacific ocean            61.1          0.0        3,704        2,263            0
                                perch.
                               Northern                 78.9          0.0        2,047        1,615            0
                                rockfish.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


              Table 21.--Final 2008 and 2009 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel Sectors
                                                       [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                     Annual  shallow-    Annual  deep-
                                                             Shallow-water        Deep-water       Annual halibut     water  complex     water  complex
                          Sector                            complex halibut    complex halibut    mortality limit      halibut  PSC       halibut PSC
                                                             PSC sideboard      PSC sideboard           (mt)         sideboard  limit   sideboard limit
                                                                 ratio              ratio                                  (mt)               (mt)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catcher/processor........................................               0.54               3.99              2,000                 11                 80
Catcher vessel...........................................               6.32               1.08              2,000                126                 22
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gulf of Alaska Amendment 80 Vessel Groundfish Harvest and PSC Limits

    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits 
on all Amendment 80 vessels, other than the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE, to 
amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to part 679. 
Sideboard limits in the GOA are for pollock in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas and in the WYK District, for Pacific cod gulfwide, for 
Pacific ocean perch and pelagic shelf rockfish in the Western 
Regulatory Area and WYK District, and for northern rockfish in the 
Western Regulatory Area. The harvest of Pacific ocean perch, pelagic 
shelf rockfish, and northern rockfish in the Central Regulatory Area of 
the GOA is subject to regulation under the Central GOA Rockfish 
Program. Amendment 80 vessels not qualified under the Rockfish Program 
are excluded from directed fishing for these rockfish species in the 
Central GOA. Under regulations, the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE is prohibited 
from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, 
pelagic shelf rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA. These 
sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen 
who do not directly benefit from Amendment 80 from expansion into their 
fisheries by the Amendment 80 participants.
    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 vessels operating in 
the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 to 
2004. Tables 22 and 23 list the final 2008 and 2009 sideboard limits 
for Amendment 80 vessels, respectively. All targeted or incidental 
catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 vessels will be 
deducted from the sideboard limits in Tables 22 and 23.

                 Table 22.--Final 2008 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Vessels
                                   [Values are rounded to nearest metric ton]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                                                   Amendment 80                        2008
                                Apportionments                        sector                       Amendment 80
           Species             and  allocations        Area        vessels 1998-   2008 TAC (mt)      vessel
                                   by season                       2004 catch to                     sideboard
                                                                        TAC                         limits (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,322              10
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).           0.002           6,215              12
                                February 25.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           3,069               6
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).           0.003           3,321              10
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).           0.002           7,576              15
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           1,709               3
                               C Season August   Shumagin (610).           0.003           5,480              16
                                25-September 15. Chirikof (620).           0.002           2,695               5
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           4,431               9
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           5,479              16
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).           0.002           2,695               5
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           4,431               9
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           1,517               3
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W..............           0.020          11,669             233
                                January 1-June   C..............           0.044          17,056             750
                                10.
                               B Season \2\,     W..............           0.020           7,780             156
                                September 1-     C..............           0.044          11,370             500
                                December 31.

[[Page 10584]]

 
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           2,394              81
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           3,686           3,664
                                                 WYK............           0.961           1,100           1,057
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000           2,141           2,141
Pelagic shelf rockfish.......  Annual..........  W..............           0.764           1,003             766
                                                 WYK............           0.896             251            225
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.


                 Table 23.--Final 2009 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Vessels
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Ratio of
                                                                   Amendment 80                        2009
                                Apportionments                        sector                       Amendment 80
           Species             and  allocations        Area        vessels 1998-   2009 TAC (mt)      vessel
                                   by season                       2004 catch to                     sideboard
                                                                        TAC                         limits (mt)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pollock......................  A Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           4,472              13
                                January 20-      Chirikof (620).           0.002           8,367              17
                                February 25.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           4,133               8
                               B Season, March   Shumagin (610).           0.003           4,472              13
                                10-May 31.       Chirikof (620).           0.002          10,198              20
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           2,302               5
                               C Season, August  Shumagin (610).           0.003           7,378              22
                                25-September 15. Chirikof (620).           0.002           3,628               7
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,966              12
                               D Season,         Shumagin (610).           0.003           7,398              22
                                October 1-       Chirikof (620).           0.002           3,628               7
                                November 1.
                                                 Kodiak (630)...           0.002           5,966              12
                               Annual..........  WYK (640)......           0.002           2,042               0
Pacific cod..................  A Season \1\,     W..............           0.020          11,669             233
                                January 1-June   C..............           0.044          17,056             750
                                10.
                               B Season \2\,     W..............           0.020           7,780             156
                                September 1-     C..............           0.044          11,370             500
                                December 31.
                               Annual..........  WYK............           0.034           2,394              81
Pacific ocean perch..........  Annual..........  W..............           0.994           3,704           3,682
                                                 WYK............           0.961           1,105           1,062
Northern rockfish............  Annual..........  W..............           1.000           2,047           2,047
Pelagic shelf rockfish.......  Annual..........  W..............           0.764             986             753
                                                 WYK............           0.896             247            221
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20.
\2\ The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 vessels in the GOA are 
based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 vessels in 
each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004 (Table 38 to 50 CFR 
part 679). These values are slightly lower than the average historic 
use to accommodate two factors: allocation of halibut PSC Cooperative 
Quotas (CQs) under the Central GOA Rockfish Program and the exemption 
of the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE from this restriction. Table 24 lists the 
final 2008 and 2009 halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 vessels.

Table 24.--Final 2008 and 2009 Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Limits for Amendment 80 Vessels in the GOA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Historic
                                                                   Amendment 80                    2008 and 2009
                                                                    use of the     2008 and 2009   Amendment 80
Seasonal  allowance          Season            Target fishery     annual halibut    annual PSC      vessel PSC
                                                                     PSC limit      limit (mt)      limit (mt)
                                                                       catch
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..................  January 20-April 1...  shallow-water.......          0.0048           2,000              10
                                            deep-water..........          0.0115           2,000              23
2..................  April 1-July 1.......  shallow-water.......          0.0189           2,000              38

[[Page 10585]]

 
                                            deep-water..........          0.1072           2,000             214
3..................  July 1-September 1...  shallow-water.......          0.0146           2,000              29
                                            deep-water..........          0.0521           2,000             104
4..................  September 1-October 1  shallow-water.......          0.0074           2,000              15
                                            deep-water..........          0.0014           2,000               3
5..................   October 1-December    shallow-water.......          0.0227           2,000              45
                      31.
                                            deep-water..........          0.0371           2,000              74
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Directed Fishing Closures

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), if the Regional Administrator 
determines (1) that any allocation or apportionment of a target species 
or ``other species'' category allocated or apportioned to a fishery 
will be reached; or (2) with respect to pollock and Pacific cod, that 
an allocation or apportionment to an inshore or offshore component 
allocation will be reached, the Regional Administrator may establish a 
DFA for that species or species group. If the Regional Administrator 
establishes a DFA and that allowance is or will be reached before the 
end of the fishing year, NMFS will prohibit directed fishing for that 
species or species group in the specified GOA regulatory area or 
district (Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii)).
    The Regional Administrator has determined that the following TAC 
amounts in Table 25 are necessary as incidental catch to support other 
anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2008 and 2009 fishing years.

      Table 25.--2008 and 2009 Directed Fishing Closures in the GOA
 [Amounts needed for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in
                              metric tons]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Target                 Area/component/gear      Amount
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atka mackerel.....................  all.................           1,500
Thornyhead rockfish...............  all.................           1,910
Shortraker rockfish...............  all.................             898
Rougheye rockfish.................  all.................    1,286 (2008)
                                                            1,279 (2009)
Other rockfish....................  all.................           1,730
Sablefish.........................  trawl...............    1,745 (2008)
                                                            1,595 (2009)
Big skates........................  all.................           3,300
Longnose skates...................  all.................           2,887
Other skates......................  all.................           2,104
Pollock...........................  all/offshore........     \1\ unknown
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Pollock is closed to directed fishing in the GOA by the offshore
  component under Sec.   679.20(a)(6)(i).

    Consequently, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the 
Regional Administrator establishes the DFA for the species or species 
groups listed in Table 25 as zero. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for those 
species, areas, gear types, and components in the GOA listed in Table 
25. These closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., 
December 31, 2009.
    Section 679.64(b)(5) provides for management of AFA catcher vessel 
groundfish harvest limits and PSC bycatch limits using directed fishing 
closures and PSC closures according to procedures set out at Sec.  
679.20(d)(1)(iv), 679.21(d)(8), and 679.21(e)(3)(v). The Regional 
Administrator has determined that, in addition to the closures listed 
above, many of the non-exempt AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits 
listed in Tables 14 and 15 are necessary as incidental catch to support 
other anticipated groundfish fisheries for the 2008 and 2009 fishing 
years. In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iv), the Regional 
Administrator sets the DFAs for the species and species groups in Table 
26 at zero. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), NMFS 
is prohibiting directed fishing by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels in 
the GOA for the species and specified areas set out in Table 26. These 
closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 
2009.

[[Page 10586]]



Table 26.--2008 and 2009 Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Directed Fishing Closures for All Gear Types in
                                                     the GOA
              [Amounts needed for incidental catch in other directed fisheries are in metric tons]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                          Regulatory area/district                     Amount
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific cod............................  Eastern................................  17 (inshore)
                                                                                  2 (offshore).
Deep-water flatfish....................  Western................................  0.
Rex sole...............................  Western................................  1.
Flathead sole..........................  Eastern and Western....................  19 and 7 (2008)
                                                                                  20 and 70 (2009).
Arrowtooth flounder....................  Eastern and Western....................  17 and 10.
Northern rockfish......................  Western................................  1.
Pelagic shelf rockfish.................  Entire GOA.............................  0(W), 0(C), 4(E).
Demersal shelf rockfish................  SEO District...........................  1.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 680.22 provides for the management of non-AFA crab vessel 
groundfish harvest limits using directed fishing closures in accordance 
with Sec.  680.22(e)(2) and (3). The Regional Administrator has 
determined that the non-AFA crab vessel sideboards listed in Tables 17 
and 18 are insufficient to support a directed fishery and set the 
sideboard DFA at zero, with the exception of Pacific cod in the Western 
and Central Regulatory Areas. Therefore, in accordance with Sec.  
680.22(e)(3), NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing by non-AFA crab 
vessels in the GOA for all species and species groups listed in Tables 
17 and 18, with the exception of Pacific cod in the Western and Central 
Regulatory Areas.
    Section 679.82 provides for the management of Rockfish Program 
sideboard limits using directed fishing closures in accordance with 
Sec.  679.82(d)(7)(i) and (ii). The Regional Administrator has 
determined that the catcher vessel sideboards listed in Tables 19 and 
20 are insufficient to support a directed fishery and set the sideboard 
DFA at zero. Therefore, NMFS is closing directed fishing for pelagic 
shelf rockfish and Pacific ocean perch in the WYK District and the 
Western Regulatory Area and for northern rockfish in the Western 
Regulatory Area by catcher vessels participating in the Central GOA 
Rockfish Program during the month of July in 2008 and 2009. These 
closures will remain in effect through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 
2009.
    Under authority of the final 2007 specifications (72 FR 9676, March 
5, 2007), pollock fishing opened on January 20, 2008, for the amounts 
specified in that notice. NMFS has since closed Statistical Area 610 to 
directed fishing for pollock effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 22, 
2008 (73 FR 4493, January 25, 2008), until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 10, 
2008. NMFS closed Statistical Area 630 to directed fishing for pollock 
effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 22, 2008 (73 FR 4494, January 25, 
2008), until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 25, 2008, and 1200 hrs, A.l.t., 
January 27, 2008, until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 10, 2008 (73 FR 5128, 
January 29, 2008). NMFS rescinds the closure in the Chiniak Gully 
Research Area of the GOA to all commercial trawl fishing and testing of 
trawl gear from August 1 to September 20, 2008 (73 FR 1555, January 9, 
2008). NMFS prohibited directed fishing for species that comprise the 
shallow-water species fishery by Amendment 80 vessels subject to 
sideboard limits in the GOA effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 23, 
2008 (73 FR 4760, January 28, 2008), until 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 
29, 2008 (73 FR 6055, February 1, 2008). NMFS prohibited directed 
fishing for the A season allowance of the 2008 Pacific cod sideboard 
limits apportioned to non-AFA crab vessels catching Pacific cod for 
processing by the inshore component in the Western Regulatory Area of 
the GOA effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., February 4, 2008, until September 
1, 2008 (73 FR 7224, February 7, 2008). NMFS prohibited directed 
fishing for the A season allowance of the 2008 Pacific cod sideboard 
limits apportioned to non-AFA crab vessels catching Pacific cod for 
processing by the inshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of 
the GOA effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., February 9, 2008, until September 
1, 2008 (73 FR 8229, February 13, 2008). NMFS prohibited directed 
fishing for Pacific cod by vessels catching Pacific cod for processing 
by the inshore component of the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA, 
effective 12 noon, Alaska local time, February 20, 2008, through 
September 1, 2008 (73 FR XXXX, February XX, 2008). While these closures 
are in effect, the maximum retainable amounts at Sec.  679.20(e) and 
(f) apply at any time during a fishing trip. These closures to directed 
fishing are in addition to closures and prohibitions found in 
regulations at 50 CFR part 679. NMFS may implement other closures 
during the 2008 and 2009 fishing years as necessary for effective 
conservation and management.

Response to Comments

    NMFS received two letters of comment (five comments) in response to 
the proposed 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications. These comments are 
summarized and responded to below.
    Comment 1: Explain why the catch specifications as reported in the 
proposed harvest specifications published in the Federal Register do 
not match the actual numbers discussed and recommended by the 
Groundfish Plan Teams, Scientific and Statistical Committee, or the 
North Pacific Fishery Management Council in December 2007.
    Response: NMFS's primary objective in the harvest specifications 
process is the conservation and management of fish resources. The 
harvest specifications process was developed to balance the use of the 
best available scientific information from the most recent Stock 
Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) reports with the notice and 
comment procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act that 
allow public participation in the development of rules for more 
informed agency decision making. Chapter 3 of the Alaska Groundfish 
Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement, January 
2007, provides a detailed description of the harvest specifications 
process and is available on the NMFS website at http://
www.fakr.noaa.gov/analyses/specs/eis/final.pdf.
    As explained in the proposed harvest specifications, the Council 
recommended the proposed harvest specifications for 2008 and 2009 in 
October 2007. NMFS then published the proposed harvest specifications 
in the Federal Register (72 FR 68810, December 6, 2007, and 72 FR 
68833,

[[Page 10587]]

December 6, 2007). The Council used the best information available to 
recommend that proposed 2008 and 2009 overfishing levels (OFLs), 
acceptable biological catches (ABCs), and total allowable catches 
(TACs) be set equal to the 2008 amounts previously published in the 
Federal Register (72 FR 9451, March 2, 2007, and 72 FR 9676, March 5, 
2007). The proposed harvest specifications were based largely on 
information contained in the 2006 SAFE reports for the GOA groundfish 
fisheries, dated November 2006, because the 2007 SAFE reports were not 
completed until November 2007.
    In November 2007, the 2007 SAFE reports were forwarded to the 
Council by the Council's Groundfish Plan Teams. The 2007 SAFE reports 
are available on the NMFS Web site at http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/
stocks/assessments.htm. The 2007 SAFE reports contain the best and most 
recent scientific information on the condition of the groundfish 
stocks, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed 
distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate 
stock biomass. In December 2007, the Council developed recommendations 
for the final harvest specifications based on the new information in 
the 2007 SAFE reports, public testimony, and the Scientific and 
Statistical Committee's reviews of the SAFE reports and 
recommendations. NMFS reviewed the Council's final harvest 
specifications recommendations and public comments on the proposed 
harvest specifications, and determined that the final harvest 
specifications (1) were set using the most recent scientific 
information according to the harvest strategy, (2) are within the 
optimum yield established for the GOA, and (3) do not exceed the ABC 
for any single species or species complex.
    Comment 2: Cut all quotas by 50 percent this year and by 10 percent 
each year thereafter.
    Response: The decisions on the amount of harvest are based on the 
best available science and socioeconomic considerations. NMFS finds 
that the ABCs and TACs are consistent with the biological condition of 
the groundfish stocks as described in the 2007 SAFE reports and 
approved by the Council. See response to comment 1.
    Comment 3: It is difficult to understand the process in which NMFS 
addresses the impacts of the Federal groundfish fisheries on the North 
Pacific ecosystem. No existing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
document adequately assesses the effects of the total allowable catch 
levels under current circumstances. Removing millions of tons of fish 
from the ecosystem using various types of gear, including trawl gear, 
is likely to have significant effects on the environment, and on fish 
habitat in particular. Given prevailing ecological and ecosystem 
conditions and the implications of fishery removals, NMFS must prepare 
an EIS to evaluate the impacts of the 2008 and 2009 harvest 
specifications.
    Response: NMFS analyzed the impacts of the Federal groundfish 
fisheries on the North Pacific ecosystem in the Alaska Groundfish 
Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement, January 
2007. The EIS examined alternative harvest strategies and projected TAC 
levels for the federally managed groundfish fisheries in the GOA that 
comply with Federal regulations, the FMPs, and the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act. The preferred harvest strategy prescribes setting TACs for 
groundfish species and species complexes through the Council's harvest 
specifications process.
    Each year, NMFS and the Council utilize the best available 
scientific information to derive annual harvest specifications, which 
include TACs and prohibited species catch limits for the following two 
years. The Council's Groundfish Plan Teams and Scientific and 
Statistical Committee use stock assessments to calculate biomass, 
overfishing levels, and ABC limits for each species or species group 
for specified management areas. The annual SAFE reports include an 
ecosystem considerations chapter which is used by the stock assessment 
scientists in the development of the assessments and the recommended 
ABCs. The SAFE reports detail how ecosystem considerations are 
incorporated into the assessment process.
    Overfishing levels and ABCs provide the foundation for the Council 
and NMFS to develop the TACs. Overfishing levels and ABC amounts 
reflect fishery science, applied pursuant to the requirements of the 
FMPs. The TACs recommended by the Council are either at or below the 
ABCs. The sum of the TACs for each area is constrained by the optimum 
yield established for that area.
    The EIS evaluated the consequences of alternative harvest 
strategies and projected TAC levels on ecosystem components and the 
ecosystem as a whole. Chapter 2 of the Groundfish EIS points to the 
implications of overall declines in pollock and Pacific cod biomass, 
discusses the resulting decreases in TACs for those species, and 
identifies potential increases in flatfish TACs. These changes in 
abundance and TAC levels were evaluated in the EIS. The EIS assessed 
the environmental consequences of each alternative on target species, 
non-specified species, forage species, prohibited species, marine 
mammals, seabirds, essential fish habitat, ecosystem relationships, the 
economy, and environmental justice. Ecosystem impacts were evaluated 
with respect to predator-prey relationships, energy flow and balance, 
and diversity.
    NMFS also prepared a Supplemental Information Report to evaluate 
the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS for the 2008 and 2009 groundfish 
harvest specifications. The Supplemental Information Report is 
available on the NMFS Web site at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/analyses/
specs/eis/default.htm. A Supplemental EIS is required if (1) the agency 
makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to 
environmental concerns, or (2) significant new circumstances or 
information exists relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on 
the proposed action or its impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)).
    In this report, NMFS analyzed the information contained in the 
Council's 2007 SAFE reports and other information available to NMFS and 
the Council to determine whether a Supplemental EIS should be prepared. 
As described in the report, NMFS concluded that the 2008 and 2009 
harvest specifications are consistent with the preferred alternative 
harvest strategy analyzed in the EIS because they were set through the 
harvest specifications process pursuant to the selected harvest 
strategy, are within the optimum yield established for the GOA, and do 
not exceed the ABC for any single species or species complex. The 
preferred harvest strategy analyzed in the EIS anticipated that new 
information on changes in species abundance would be used in setting 
the annual harvest specifications and was designed to adjust to such 
fluctuations.
    As described in the Supplemental Information Report, the 
information used to set the 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications is not 
significant relative to the environmental impacts analyzed in the EIS 
and it raises no new environmental concerns significantly different 
from those previously analyzed in the EIS. The harvest specifications 
process and the environmental consequences of the selected harvest 
strategy are fully described in the EIS. Thus, NMFS concluded that the 
new information available is not of a scale and scope that would 
require a Supplemental EIS.

[[Page 10588]]

    Comment 4: NEPA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act require NMFS to 
undertake a new, credible analysis of habitat and bycatch impacts 
before raising flatfish quotas. The Essential Fish Habitat EIS and the 
Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications EIS are not sufficient to 
evaluate the potential impacts, including bottom habitat impacts, of an 
increase in the flatfish harvests, the use of bottom trawls, and 
redistribution of fishing effort.
    Response: NMFS has performed an appropriate analysis of the 
potential impacts, including bottom habitat impacts, of an increase in 
the flatfish harvests, the use of bottom trawls, and redistribution of 
fishing effort. The Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final EIS 
(Groundfish EIS, January 2007) based its conclusions on the Final EIS 
for Essential Fish Habitat Identification and Conservation in Alaska 
(EFH EIS, April 2005, available on the NMFS website at http://
www.fakr.noaa.gov/habitat/seis/efheis.htm) analysis and on the 
extensive habitat protection measures enacted after the EFH EIS was 
finalized. The EFH EIS represents the best available science and fully 
discloses the uncertainties in understanding the impacts of fishing on 
EFH. The EFH EIS concludes that the effects on EFH are minimal, 
although some may be persistent, because the analysis found no 
indication that continued fishing activities at the current rate and 
intensity would alter the capacity of EFH to support healthy 
populations of managed species over the long term.
    Due to the uncertainties identified in the EFH EIS, the Council 
recommended, and NMFS implemented, precautionary measures to protect 
nearly 300,000 square nautical miles of habitat identified as EFH and 
habitat areas of particular concern from the effects of fishing 
activities in the Aleutian Islands and GOA (71 FR 36694, June 28, 
2006).
    Additionally, the Council recommended habitat protection measures 
for the Bering Sea under Amendment 89. Amendment 89, if approved by the 
Secretary, would close portions of the Bering Sea to non-pelagic 
trawling, including flatfish fishing, to ensure fishing remained in 
historically fished areas and prevent substantial redistribution of 
effort from increased TAC levels. This amendment and proposed rule is 
scheduled to be published in the spring and, if approved, implemented 
by fall 2008. A draft Environmental Assessment was prepared for that 
action. It analyzes the impacts of bottom trawl gear on habitat in the 
Bering Sea and the impacts from closing these specific areas to bottom 
trawl gear. The draft Environmental Assessment is available on the NMFS 
website at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/current_issues/BSHC/
BSHC307.pdf.
    The Groundfish EIS projects increases in flatfish TACs under the 
preferred harvest strategy and under Alternative 1. Chapter 2 of the 
Groundfish EIS points to the implications of overall declines in 
pollock and Pacific cod biomass, discusses the resulting decreases in 
TACs for those species, and identifies potential increases in flatfish 
TACs. Potential changes in flatfish TACs are evaluated in the EIS where 
changes in flatfish harvests may impact resource components. For 
example, there are discussions in Chapter 8 on marine mammals, Chapter 
10 on habitat, Chapter 11 on ecosystem relationships, and Chapter 12 on 
economic and social factors. For habitat, the EIS concluded that since 
flatfish are harvested with bottom gear, the impacts to habitat may 
increase with an increase in flatfish TACs. However, increased TACs may 
not lead to proportionate increases in fishing activity or harvests, or 
benthic habitat impacts. The flatfish fisheries routinely do not 
harvest the full TAC because of halibut PSC constraints and limited 
marketability for some flatfish species. The halibut PSC limits and the 
marketability of some flatfish species, such as arrowtooth flounder, 
are not likely to change in 2008. Due to these factors, actual flatfish 
harvest in 2008 is likely to be lower than the predicted TAC amounts.
    Additionally, the EFH conservation measures, closures of habitat 
areas of particular concern, and other area closures and gear 
restrictions established in the FMPs protect areas of ecological 
importance to the long-term sustainability of managed species from 
fishing impacts, regardless of the TAC levels.
    Thus, NMFS concluded that the preferred harvest strategy impacts 
EFH for managed species, but that the available information does not 
identify effects of fishing that are more than minimal. An increase in 
flatfish TACs would not change this conclusion because of the existing 
habitat protection measures and limits on the actual flatfish harvests 
that prevent the TACs from being fully harvested. Additionally, the 
general location of the fisheries, the fishing seasons, and the gear 
used in the fisheries are not likely to be changed by the 2008 and 2009 
TAC changes.
    Comment 5: Recent increases in the amount of bycatch in the Gulf of 
Alaska pollock fishery from 2005 to 2006 require substantial analysis 
not only focused on bycatch, but also focused on habitat impacts.
    Response: The increase in incidental catch of groundfish and Tanner 
crab from 2005 to 2006 is attributed to the increased use of bottom 
trawl gear to target pollock and multiple species during a single trip 
(pollock, flatfish, and Pacific cod for example). Catches of groundfish 
remain generally well below the TAC levels previously analyzed for 
their impacts on habitat. Estimates of incidental catch of Tanner crab 
by a particular gear type and target fishery vary tremendously from 
year to year. The incidental catch of Tanner crab in all of the GOA 
groundfish fisheries combined decreased from 0.2 percent in 2005 to 
0.14 percent in 2006.

Classification

    NMFS has determined that these final specifications are consistent 
with the FMP and with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable 
laws.
    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    NMFS prepared a Final EIS for the Alaska Groundfish Harvest 
Specifications and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 
(72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final EIS. In January 2007 NMFS prepared a Supplemental 
Information Report (SIR) for this action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, 
and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The 
Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the groundfish 
harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources 
in the action area. The SIR evaluates the need to prepare a 
Supplemental EIS (SEIS) for the 2008 and 2009 groundfish harvest 
specifications.
    A SEIS should be prepared if (1) the agency makes substantial 
changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental 
concerns, or (2) significant new circumstances or information exist 
relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action 
or its impacts (40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1)). After reviewing the information 
contained in the SIR and SAFE reports, the Administrator, Alaska 
Region, has determined that (1) approval of the 2008 and 2009 harvest 
specifications, which were set according the preferred harvest strategy 
in the Final EIS, do not constitute a change in the action; and (2) 
there are no significant new circumstances or information relevant to 
environmental concerns and bearing on the action or its

[[Page 10589]]

impacts. Additionally, the 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications will 
result in environmental impacts within the scope of those analyzed and 
disclosed in the Final EIS. Therefore, supplemental National 
Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) documentation is not necessary to 
implement the 2008 and 2009 harvest specifications.
    The proposed harvest specifications were published in the Federal 
Register on December 6, 2007 (72 FR 68810). An Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared to evaluate the impacts on 
small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish 
fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off Alaska on small 
entities. The public comment period ended on January 16, 2007. No 
comments were received regarding the IRFA or the economic impacts of 
this action. A Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) was 
prepared that meets the statutory requirements of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 601-612). Copies of the IRFA 
and FRFA prepared for this action are available from NMFS, Alaska 
Region (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the FRFA follows.
    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the 
harvest of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the 
status quo harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs 
recommended by the Council's harvest specifications process and TACs 
recommended by the Council. This action is taken in accordance with the 
FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    The directly regulated small entities include approximately 747 
small catcher vessels and fewer than 20 small catcher/processors. The 
entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest 
groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA, and in parallel fisheries within 
State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating catcher 
vessels and catcher/processor vessels within the action area, and 
entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish. Catcher vessels 
and catcher/processors were considered to be small entities if they had 
annual gross receipts of $4 million per year or less from all economic 
activities, including the revenue of their affiliated operations. Data 
from 2005 were the most recent available to determine the number of 
small entities.
    Estimates of first wholesale gross revenues for the GOA were used 
as indices of the potential impacts of the alternative harvest 
strategies on small entities. An index of revenues was projected to 
decline under the preferred alternative due to declines in ABCs for key 
species in the GOA. The index of revenues declined by less than 4 
percent between 2007 and 2008 and by less than one percent between 2007 
and 2009.
    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four 
other alternatives. These included Alternative 1, which would have set 
TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if 
the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA 
OY, in which case harvests would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 
would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 
five-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to 
equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5 would have set 
TACs equal to zero. Alternative 5 is the ``no action'' alternative.
    Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were all associated with smaller levels 
for important fishery TACs than Alternative 2. Estimated total first 
wholesale gross revenues were used as an index of potential adverse 
impacts to small entities. As a consequence of the lower TAC levels, 
Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 all had smaller of these first wholesale 
revenue indices than Alternative 2. Thus, Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 had 
greater adverse impacts on small entities. Alternative 1 appeared to 
generate higher values of the gross revenue index for fishing 
operations in the GOA than Alternative 2. A large part of the 
Alternative 1 GOA revenue appears to be due to the assumption that the 
full Alternative 1 TAC would be harvested. This increased revenue is 
due to increases in flatfish TACs that were much higher for Alternative 
1 than for Alternative 2. In recent years, halibut bycatch constraints 
in these fisheries have kept actual flatfish catches from reaching 
Alternative 1 levels. Therefore, a large part of the revenues 
associated with Alternative 1 is unlikely to occur. Also, Alternative 2 
TACs are constrained by the ABCs the Plan Teams and SSC are likely to 
recommend to the Council on the basis of a full consideration of 
biological issues. These ABCs are often less than Alternative 1's 
maximum permissible ABCs. Therefore higher TACs under Alternative 1 may 
not be consistent with prudent biological management of the resource. 
For these reasons, Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative.
    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal 
rules.
    Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities 
conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS (see 
ADDRESSES).
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in 
effectiveness for this rule. Plan Team review occurred in November 
2007, Council consideration and recommendations in December 2007, and 
NOAA Fisheries review and development in January-February 2008. For all 
fisheries not currently closed because the TACs established under the 
2007 and 2008 final harvest specifications (72 FR 9676, March 5, 2007) 
were not reached, the likely possibility exists that they will be 
closed prior to the expiration of a 30-day delayed effectiveness period 
because their TACs could be reached. Certain fisheries, such as those 
for pollock and Pacific cod are intensive, fast-paced fisheries. Other 
fisheries, such as those for flatfish, rockfish, and ``other species,'' 
are critical as directed fisheries and as incidental catch in other 
fisheries. U.S. fishing vessels have demonstrated the capacity to catch 
the TAC allocations in these fisheries. Any delay in allocating the 
final TACs in these fisheries would cause disruption to the industry 
and potential economic harm through unnecessary discards. Determining 
which fisheries may close is impossible because these fisheries are 
affected by several factors that cannot be predicted in advance, 
including fishing effort, weather, movement of fishery stocks, and 
market price. Furthermore, the closure of one fishery has a cascading 
effect on other fisheries by freeing-up fishing vessels, allowing them 
to move from closed fisheries to open ones, increasing the fishing 
capacity in those open fisheries and causing them to close at an 
accelerated pace.
    If the final harvest specifications are not effective by March 8, 
2008, which is the start of the Pacific halibut season as specified by 
the IPHC, the hook-and-line sablefish fishery will not begin 
concurrently with the Pacific halibut season. This would result in the 
needless discard of sablefish that are caught along with Pacific 
halibut as both hook-and-line sablefish and Pacific halibut are managed 
under the same IFQ program. Immediate effectiveness of the final 2008 
and 2009 harvest specifications will allow the sablefish fishery to 
begin concurrently with the Pacific halibut season. Also, the immediate 
effectiveness of this action is required to provide consistent 
management and conservation of fishery resources based on the best 
available scientific information, and to give the fishing industry the 
earliest possible

[[Page 10590]]

opportunity to plan its fishing operations. Therefore NMFS finds good 
cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3).

Small Entity Compliance Guide

    The following information is a plain language guide to assist small 
entities in complying with this final rule as required by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule's 
primary purpose is to announce the 2008 and 2009 final harvest 
specifications and prohibited species bycatch allowances for the 
groundfish fisheries of the GOA. This action is necessary to establish 
harvest limits and associated management measures for groundfish during 
the 2008 and 2009 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and 
objectives of the FMP. This action affects all fishermen who 
participate in the GOA fisheries. The specific amounts of OFL, ABC, 
TAC, and PSC are provided in tables to assist the reader. NMFS will 
announce closures of directed fishing in the Federal Register and 
information bulletins released by the Alaska Region. Affected fishermen 
should keep themselves informed of such closures.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., 1801 et seq., 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447.

    Dated: February 19, 2008.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator, For Regulatory Services, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
 [FR Doc. E8-3531 Filed 2-26-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P